Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Headlines - Wednesday

Wild horses have been living in the West for centuries, but their ever-growing numbers have led to many being fenced in. A recent government review of the cost of corralling them now has their admirers frantic that a slaughter is imminent.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) says slaughter remains a possibility for some of the more than 30,000 wild horses and burros being cared for in government-run pens.
h/t Leanne - Valley teen has some big questions:
Bravo. And to think it was written by a 16 year old.
This is not from the Onion

Cheney indicted

Following an investigation into the death of a federal prisoner, Cheney and Alberto Gonzalez and a few others have been indicted for engaging in organized criminal activity. Cheney is accused of investing some $85 million in the Vanguard Group that houses federal inmates.

Michael Froomkin has more.

And speaking of Alberto VO5 - another bailout using tax payer's money...
This summer, six attorneys "rejected from civil service positions at the Justice Department filed a lawsuit" against "former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and three other top officials for allegedly violating their rights by taking politics into consideration" in the hiring process for the Honors and Summer Law Intern Programs. Today, McClatchy reports that the Justice Department has agreed to pay for a private lawyer to defend Gonzales, which could cost taxpayers up to $24,000 a month:

According to a person with knowledge of the case, the Justice Department has imposed a limit of $200 an hour or $24,000 a month on attorneys' fees. Top Justice Department attorneys generally earn no more than $100 per hour. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.

Though "lawyers from the Justice Department's civil division often represent department employees who're sued in connection with their official actions," Gonzales' lawyer said that "private counsel can often be useful where (department) officials are sued in an individual capacity, even where the suit has no substantive merit."

If we have to pay for this, we should be allowed to choose his attorney. I suggest he is assigned one that is defending the prisoners in Guantanamo. And he should have to stay down there while his trial is going on.
It would indeed.
I belong to a party whose upper echelon embraces Joe Lieberman - and kicks Howard Dean to the curb. I don't think this is the change we voted for ...


Following Barack Obama's lead, Democrats voted yesterday for LIEberman to keep his Chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee and of an Armed Services subcommittee, but removed him as a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee.

So, Lieberman will be stripped of a subcommittee chair that presides over an issue where he votes with the Democrats, and left in charge of a full and subcommittee where he votes against the Democrats. That's freaking brilliant. 

Thank you, Dems. I'm glad you enjoy being complicit in our nation's greatest blunders. 

Predictably, bad businessman Bush has brought us to the brink of "a depression greater than the Great Depression." 

Though most of Bush's sordid business history was known during Campaign 2000, it attracted little attention in the mainstream press, especially compared to the news media's obsession with dissecting every comment by Al Gore for signs of exaggeration.

Even today, as George W. Bush's crony capitalism, aversion to regulation, and his trillion-dollar war in Iraq have driven the U.S. – and the world's – economy off the road and into financial quicksand, big-time journalists continue with their Bush deference. They won't put too much blame on the person who arguably should top the list of those responsible.

While the Brokaws and Friedmans might justify their behavior as a resistance to "piling on" a lame-duck President, they also are contributing to a distorted history – one that fails to identify Bush and his political/media enablers as largely to blame for this global catastrophe.

By averting their eyes from Bush and focusing so much on Obama now, the mainstream U.S. news media also clears space for right-wing media voices like Rush Limbaugh to begin writing another false narrative, blaming the financial collapse on the incoming President not on the one who has held the office the past eight years.

That narrative, in turn, could restrict what an Obama administration can do once in office. That, in turn, could open the way for a possible Republican comeback in 2010, much as the GOP rebounded from Bill Clinton's victory in 1992 to win both houses of Congress in 1994.

Though the U.S. press corps is loath to examine history, especially when it reflects badly on the Bush Family, the present – and the future – might hinge on the American people finally understanding how George W. Bush and his reverse-Midas touch managed to turn a relatively golden U.S. economy to dross in just eight years.

Who could have guessed four years ago that Americans would be more interested in listening to what a Black man has to say than Mr. Mandate? himself?

60 Minutes attracted 24.5 million viewers for veteran correspondent Steve Croft's interview with Obama, according to preliminary figures from ratings body Nielsen.

The last time the 40-year-old news magazine topped 24 million viewers was in January 1999, according to US trade journal Variety.

For the record, I am against bailouts. Bottom line you are rewarding bad management, crummy products, and poor customer service. You are also undermining innovation and discouraging risk and creativity.

For the flip side of the record, I just do not think we can let General Motors, Ford and/or Chrysler go into Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

And that is our quandary - we are damned if we do, and damned if we don't.
Fun fact: My husband just returned from Wales, where he rented a Ford Focus that got 60+ MPG. Perhaps if they sold that same car here, they wouldn't be begging for billions in handouts.
How's this for a stat? New government figures show that almost 700,000 children went hungry in the United States at some point in 2007, up more than 50 percent from the year before to mark the highest point since 1998. And that's even before this year's sharp economic downtown, the Agriculture Department reported Monday. The department's annual report on food security showed that during 2007 the number of children who suffered a substantial disruption in the amount of food they typically eat was more than double the 430,000 in 2006 and the largest figure since 716,000 in 1998. 

And there's this, from Barbara Ehrenreich's newest book, This Land Is Your Their Land:
... [T]he rich get rich and the poor get poorer. To quote the Associated Press: The top 10 percent of households saw their net worth rise by 6.1 percent to an average of $3.11 million while the bottom 25 percent suffered a decline from a net worth in which their assets equaled their liabilities in 2001 to owing $1,400 more than their total assets in 2004." ... Paul Krugman reported on a study showing that those in the top 10 percent of the income distribution have been seeing income gains of only about 1 percent a year, or a total of 34% between 1972 and 2001. In that same period, those in the top 1 percent of the income distribution saw a gain of 87 percent, and those in the top .01 percent registered a gain of 497 percent. That's right: four hundred and ninety-seven percent.

I'm not quite sure what National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez is proposing in this article about Time's 2008 Person of the Year. She begins by harrumphing that Time has probably already settled on Barack Obama (can you imagine?); she seems to want to suggest that, really, Sarah Palin would be a much better choice, but even she apparently recognizes how silly that is, so she merely wags her finger and informs Time (and Obama!) that Attention Must Be Paid:

shouldn't diss the not insignificant portion of the country that voted for Republican John McCain. And, specifically, they shouldn't ignore the people who were energized by the addition of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to his ticket....

It's still a free country. Media outlets still can do as they please (save for those who choose to hand over their editorial direction to one party or another). But Time
would make a mistake if it ignored the Palin phenom this year just because the ticket didn't win in the end.

Obama would be wise to agree.

What's K-Lo proposing? That Time change Person of the Year to a sort of Everybody Gets a Prize Day for prominent public figures who generate a lot of enthusiasm? I can't figure it out.

K-Lo also tells us that it's unclear how Palin would have done in a head-to-head contest with Obama; informs us that Thomas Jefferson would have admired Palin; and notes that a "foreign-policy expert" who's on the current National Review cruise "showed up for a panel in a towel (but fully clothed underneath) in an act of solidarity with Palin (referencing the now debunked post-election story that she once appeared to top campaign officials in a towel)." Are other people going to imitate this now in solidarity, sort of like when Manson Family members started sporting swastikas between the eyebrows?

As for Time, its Web site, in fact, presents
25 candidates for Person of the Year, starting with Palin; there's an online vote under way, and Palin currently has the highest point total (possibly because the folksat Free Republic are trying to stuff the ballot box), although Obama is in first place because voters get to vote on a 1-to-10 scale and his vote numbers are higher on average. But this will probably change soon, and Palin will be the clear leader in the online poll. And then her cultists will cry foul when the magazine picks Obama.

Maybe they should just cut to the chase and hold a counter-inaugural at which they declare her their president, or queen, or God's Emissary, or whatever. They could all show up in towels.
Challenge from Dick - add yours to the comments if you are so inclined:
I'm preparing a list of items I'd like to see Obama address during his first 30 days as President.  Care to add a few? 
Shut down Guantanamo prison and obliterate every piece of it...every building and foundation, every fence, every piece of barbed wire...everything.
Propose a 28th amendment to the Constitution defining and outlawing torture and prescribing most severe penalties for its use.
Using his vast political capital, advise both the Senate and the House he'd like new leadership elected who would be better able to support his future plans and goals.
Send Congress an unambiguous message regarding his disdain for 'earmarks' and his reluctance to support the goals and the future political campaigns of members who elect to continue this practice.
Renounce the use of presidential signing statements and affirm his commitment to abandon their use.
Reinstate inheritance taxation.
Rescind the 2001 Bush-enacted tax cuts.
Announce that any future distributions from 'bailout' funds will be tied directly to the replacement of the executive leadership of the company.
Announce that the State Department will, within 60 days, be dispatching negotiating teams to Russia, Iran, North Korea, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Afghanistan and Iraq...just for starters.
Announce that all arbitrary surveillance activities on US citizens will immediately be terminated, and that in the future, the rule of law will be strictly obeyed in the conduct of any
and all surveillance activities.  Period.
You knew this was coming
Last month, representatives from both the Consumer Federation of America and the Financial Services Roundtable proposed reducing the amount of credit card debt held by financially troubled consumers by 40 percent:

The unusual joint request from the Financial Services Roundtable and the Consumer Federation of America highlighted the urgency of the situation: consumers — even those with strong credit records — defaulting at high levels on their credit cards, while banks battered by the credit crisis bleed tens of billions in red ink from the losses.

The reduction would have to be approved by U.S. Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan, whose Treasury Department agency oversees national banks.

Here's an even better idea: The Federal Reserve estimates that the total of all credit card debt in the United States is $900 billion. Why not use taxpayer money to pay off all consumer credit card debt in one fell swoop?

Hey, $900 billion is a steal in comparison with the money we taxpayers are shoveling out to Wall Street, the automakers and the citizens of Iraq.


Dickipedia: John Boehner.


Begich defeats convicted felon Stevens:

Stevens down. Coleman and Chambliss to go.

Another jellyfish added to the collection of Dems in the Senate!



Andy McCarthy:

Thousands of American lives and hundreds of billions in taxpayer funds have been expended to provide Iraqis the opportunity to live freely. And this despite the facts that (a) the U.S. interest in Iraqi democracy remains tenuous (our interest was the elimination of Saddam's terror-mongering, weapons-proliferating regime), and (b) Americans were assured, when the nation-building enterprise commenced, that oil-rich Iraq would underwrite our sacrifices on its behalf. Yet, to be blunt, the Iraqis remain ingrates. That stubborn fact complicates everything.
To be blunt, the people who argued for an invasion for any reason - to eliminate nonexistent WMD, to rearrange the political culture of the Middle East, to rescue herds of ponies - were morons. The people who argued that Iraqi oil revenues would be sufficient to bankroll the war should have their skulls boiled and turned into drinking gourds. And the people like Andy McCarthy - who continue to argue that the US should be toppling regimes across the planet - should be standing on a corner somewhere, selling pencils or offering to squeegee your car. These, too, are stubborn facts.
al Qaeda's #2 criticizes Obama - calls him a "house negro"


The votes are still being counted:

Obama: 67,065,042 (52.7%, 365 EVs) ; McCain: 58,420,587 (45.9%, 162 EVs)


Despite formal dissents from half of the agency's 10 regional administrators, the Environmental Protection Agency "is finalizing new air-quality rules that would make it easier to build coal-fired power plants, oil refineries and other major polluters near national parks and wilderness areas." The proposal would make it so spikes in pollution during periods of peak energy demand would no longer violate the law.


Mike Huckabee yesterday on The View

HUCKABEE: It's a different set of rights. People who are homosexuals should have every right in terms of their civil rights, to be employed, to do anything they want. But that's not really the issue. I know you talked about it and I think you got into it a little bit early on. But when we're talking about a redefinition of an institution, that's different than individual civil rights.

BEHAR: Well, segregation was an institution, too, in a way. It was right there on the books.

HUCKABEE: But here is the difference. Bull Connor was hosing people down in the streets of Alabama. John Lewis got his skull cracked on the Selma bridge.

Ummm, Mike? 16.6 percent of all hate crimes reported by the FBI in 2007 resulted from sexual-orientation bias, and the number of hate crimes directed against gays and lesbians increased six percent from 2006. A 2007 study by the University of California, Davis, found that "nearly four in 10 gay men and about one in eight lesbians and bisexuals in the United States have been the target of violence or a property crime because of their sexual orientation."

Nice try, but this is nothing more than a shoddy attempt to conceal your deep and fundamental homophobia.





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