Thursday, November 13, 2008

Headlines - Thursday

Taking a break from the Sarah Palin interviews flooding the airwaves...
The Afghan insurgency is stronger than ever.
Iraqi soldier kills 2 US soldiers in Mosul.
The UN warns that it is running out of food to distribute in Gaza, putting the civilian population there at severe risk, as a direct result of an Israeli food blockade. A food blockade? That is a war crime! Why aren't the people ordering the malnourishment of a civilian population under foreign military occupation being arrested and taken to the Hague for trial?
[Fake New York Times: the work of pranksters The Yes Men]
Pranksters Distribute Fake New York Times Declaring 'Iraq War Over'
The Yes Men identified as the team behind the joke pages

The US defence department yesterday declared the end of the Iraq war and the immediate withdrawal of all troops, prompting an admission from Condoleezza Rice that the Bush administration knew all along that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, according to the New York Times.

On second thought, that introductory paragraph needs a little clarification. The New York Times proper didn't report the end of the Iraq war. But a spoof 14-page "special edition" of the newspaper, circulating free on the streets of Manhattan today, did carry those items. It was printed in a form that was so high quality and technically accurate that many New Yorkers were nonplussed, backed up by an entire "New York Times" website that equally faithfully mimicked the original.

Dated July 4 2009, and boasting the front-page motto: "All the news we hope to print" in a twist on the daily's famous phrase "All the news that's fit to print", the fake paper looks forward to the day the war ends, and envisages a chain of events that would be manna from heaven for American liberals.

In one story, ExxonMobil is taken into public ownership. In another, evangelical churches, the backbone of the Bush-supporting Christian right, open the doors of their mega-churches to Iraqi refugees.
Public Notice to the World

November 5, 2008

Dear World:

The United States of America, your quality supplier of ideals of liberty and democracy, would like to apologize for its 2001-2008 service outage.

The technical fault that led to this eight-year service interruption has been located, and the parts responsible for it were replaced Tuesday night, November 4. Early tests of the newly-installed equipment indicate that it is functioning correctly, and we expect it to be fully functional by mid-January.

We apologize for any inconvenience caused by the outage, and we look forward to resuming full service -- and hopefully even to improving it in years to come.

Thank you for your patience and understanding,

The mother of a sixteen-year-old student in the Allison Park suburb of Pittsburgh was shocked when her daughter repeated disparaging remarks made about Barack Obama by a teacher's aide at her vocational high school.

"One of the teacher's aides ... said that Obama was going to be shot and killed," Mara Gilligan told KDKA News. "And that our flag is going to be the KFC [Kentucky Fried Chicken] flag and that the new national anthem will be 'Moving On Up' -- and that all my daughter's beliefs were wrong and her children's lives were going to be ruined because Obama was elected."
Racism is alive and well in Pennsylvania, just like John Murtha said.
"Barack Obama attended a parent-teacher conference at his daughters' school the other day. And it was a very positive meeting. The teacher said both of the girls were already reading at a President Bush level." Leno
Joe Lieberman for SUAC Chair

Word is that Senate Democrats are considering keeping Joe Lieberman on board as the chair of the Homeland Security Committee. I think that's a good idea. He'll do a great job of undermining any efforts made by Obama and the Senate to reinstate troublesome constitutional restrictions against torture, domestic spying, arbitrary detentions, etc. But is that really the right place for him? I mean there are plenty of others who could step in--senators Landrau or Nelson for instance.

If the Senate Democrats are truely interested in being undermined from inside their caucus, they should consider creating a special committee--one modeled on the old House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC)-- just for Sen. Lieberman. He's proven himself to be up to the task. After all, he's spent the last year or so working on a campaign that strongly promoted the notion that the President-Elect and his followers are un-American. And for the last six or so years before that, he regularly attacked the patriotism of anyone who questioned the wisdom of Our Leader's Glorious Crusade Against The Brown And Their Constitution-Defending Fellow Travelers.

And let's not forget that Sen. Lieberman did not do this all on his own. He had a great staff out there working hard to convince people that Democrats are dangerous Marxists who cannot be trusted. Liebermanistas like
Marshall Whitman and Dan Gerstein both deserve to receive important positions within the Obama administration so they can continue to promote the Bush legacy for eight more years.

A key Democratic lawmaker called Tuesday for the resignation of American International Group's CEO after the troubled insurer held a financial planners conference last week at a posh Arizona resort.
Obama to fire senior intelligence chiefs

The nation's top two intelligence officers expect to be replaced by President-elect Barack Obama early in his administration, according to senior intelligence officials.

A number of influential congressional Democrats oppose keeping Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and CIA Director Michael V. Hayden in their posts because both have publicly supported controversial Bush administration policies on interrogation and telephone surveillance. One Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee said there is a "consensus" view on the matter.

In fact, if Congress had not retroactively immunized their illegal wiretapping crimes, we would be talking about frog-marching Hayden and McConnell into the federal courts. I don't expect senior intelligence officials to resign everytime the president asks them to violate a law, only when the president asks them to violate the Constitution. So, the people have a right 'to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects', and 'the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.' It's really not too much to ask.


Global warming update - it ain't good:


Two religious groups are fighting over a small patch of public land, refusing to give legal ground over competing symbols of faith. The outcome of their battle could have nationwide ramifications.

On one side are the Summum, who believe in mummification, the rites of transference and "The Seven Aphorisms."

Opposing them are the elected leaders of this community, who hold more traditional values that reflect the area's strong Mormon roots.

Now the U.S. Supreme Court has gotten involved in an unusual constitutional showdown about a small group's free-speech effort to erect a granite monument in a local park.

"Freedom of religion" means just that - you don't get to exclude some groups in favor of others.  This means, of course, that Hindus in Alabama can put up shrines next to Roy Moore's beloved 10 Commandments, or Raelians get to do whatever crazy shit they want to do in public, too.  These theocrats have shown their hole card again and again - they're only interested in freedom for me and not for thee. 


Regrets, he's had a few:   


KKK: joining is free, quitting is fatal

An Oklahoma woman traveled to Covington, Louisiana to join a KKK group known as the "Dixie Brotherhood." When she decided at the last minute to back out, the racists allegedly murdered her and burned her belongings. She was found under brush along the roadside and the leaders arrested including clan leader, Raymond "Chuck" Foster, 44.

Putting aside the homicidal intent, it is curious that these throwbacks would go through the trouble of burning the victim's belonging but then dump the body itself along the roadside. Then again, as St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain, "The IQ level of this group is not impressive, to be kind."

The woman was supposed to be participate in a ritual and then recruit others in Oklahoma. A fight broke out when she asked to be taken back to town. In addition to Foster who faces second-degree murder, seven others — five men and two women ages 20 to 30 — were charged with obstruction of justice.

Among the evidence found at the site were several flags and six Klan robes, some emblazoned with patches reading "KKK LIFE MEMBER" or "KKK SECURITY Enforcement."

Story here.


Morford: Permagrins For Obama - The country's still a disaster. Why is everyone smiling?


The Onion: Should the government stop dumping money into a giant hole?


Apparently Condi Rice is still alive, and was just interviewed by CSPAN:

Q: So if Condi Rice is writing the first textbook on the Bush presidency, the first paragraph, what would you include?

RICE: The President believed that all men were created equal and that they were – all men and women were created equal, and that they had the right to live in freedom and liberty. That meant freedom from tyranny, but also freedom from poverty, freedom from ignorance. And he made it the purpose of American foreign policy to begin that journey, knowing that it wouldn't be achieved on his watch -- it's a generational struggle, but knowing that ultimately, when it was achieved, there would be absolutely no ground and no basis on which terrorists could hold.

And even George got his turn when he was interviewed by CNN yesterday: 

On his meeting with Obama: "It was interesting to watch someone that is getting ready to assume the office of the president. ... It was interesting to watch him go upstairs."


Dave Barry: The Making of a President

As you may know, I am a veteran member of the world-famous Lawn Rangers precision lawnmower drill team, whose members march every year at the Broom Corn festival in Arcola, Ill., as well as various other events, depending on how drunk they are scheduling. (I have written two columns about the Lawn Rangers, which can be found here and here.) The Lawn Rangers perform highly sophisticated semi-synchronized maneuvers with lawnmowers, brooms, and toilet plungers. Membership in this crack unit is a great honor, bestowed only on whoever shows up very few people.

Today I received an email from Lawn Rangers co-founder Pat Monahan, with a photograph taken in 2003 when the Rangers marched in the Chicago St. Patrick's Day parade. Joining them on this occasion was an up-and-coming Illinois state senator, seen here participating in the rigorous rookie-training program:



There is so much syrupy crap goin' around about Obama's election that I've been checking my blood sugar level twice a day, but this one from Garrison Keillor is very nice, you should go read it.


As of last night, Democrat Mark Begich had increased his lead over felon Ted Stevens to 814 votes.  

More than 224,000 votes were cast on election day and more than 90,000 votes remain uncounted. 

In Minnesota, where the recount will stretch into mid-December, Coleman leads Franken by 200 votes out of almost 3 million cast.

In Georgia, final results haven't been certified, but Chambliss has 49.8% of the vote and Martin 46.8%.


Little kids from Idaho chant "Assassinate Obama!" on the school bus.

And this:

"Police on eastern Long Island are investigating reports that more than a dozen cars were spray painted with racist graffiti, reportedly including a message targeting President-elect Barack Obama. The graffiti included racist slurs and sexually graphic references. At least one resident in the quiet Mastic neighborhood told Newsday her son's car was scribbled with a message threatening to kill Obama."

Employees at Hampel's Key and Lockshop in Traverse City, Michigan, flew an American flag upside down last Wednesday protesting of the new president-elect, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported. One worker used a racial slur during an interview with the Record-Eagle: "(The inverted flag is) an international signal for distress and we feel our country is in distress because the n----- got in," said Hampel's employee Rod Nyland, who later apologized for the comment, according to the Record-Eagle.

Just hours after Obama won the election, a predominantly black church was burned down:


Partners in bigotry

Catholics and Mormons may not agree on many points of Christian dogma, but they're in perfect accord when it comes to fighting same-sex marriage.

They could use the power of their churches and their religious authority for a lot of good. They could have focused that money and will on fighting poverty. They could have united to stop our government from torturing people. They could have spoken out with one voice against domestic violence, which truly does destroy families. They could have combined their might to provide medical care for uninsured children. They could have brought their strength and resources to bear on so many things that would have saved lives and improved their communities.

Instead, they decided to pour tens of millions of dollars into an effort to deny same-sex couples the simple right to marry. They declared war not on poverty, starvation, disease or violence, but on two consenting adults' legal right to say, "I do."

So I don't want to hear about the moral superiority of Christianity. Not one single word about all the good the churches do. I do not want to hear a syllable about God's infinite love.

Not a sound.


Okay, this is what we've all been waiting for: Obama's plans for dealing with these war crimes.

WASHINGTON — With growing talk in Washington that President Bush may be considering an unprecedented "blanket pardon" for people involved in his administration's brutal interrogation policies, advisors to Barack Obama are pressing ahead with plans for a nonpartisan commission to investigate alleged abuses under Bush.

The Obama plan, first revealed by Salon in August, would emphasize fact-finding investigation over prosecution. It is gaining currency in Washington as Obama advisors begin to coordinate with Democrats in Congress on the proposal. The plan would not rule out future prosecutions, but would delay a decision on that matter until all essential facts can be unearthed. Between the time necessary for the investigative process and the daunting array of policy problems Obama will face upon taking office, any decision on prosecutions probably would not come until a second Obama presidential term, should there be one.


Roll Call says Biden's picking Ron Klain to be his Veep Chief of Staff.

For those interested in cinematic trivia, Klain was the guy Kevin Spacey played in HBO's Recount.



The FBI reported that from November 3-9, they "received over three hundred and seventy thousand requests for background checks on gun buyers" — a 49 percent increase since last year.

Gun sale boom appears to be the result of a multimillion dollar effort launched by the National Rifle Association last summer to misinform voters about Obama's gun policy proposals.


4,195 soldiers killed in Iraq; 627 in Afghanistan.


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