Friday, December 19, 2008

Headlines - Friday

Folks talk about whether we ought to negotiate a settlement with the Taliban. Well, we're past that. Not because of idiotic neo-con screeds about how we can "win" in Afghanistan by cleaning up the Afghan "government". But, rather, because we're in the same position to negotiate with the Taliban today that Adolph Hitler was in to negotiate with the Soviet Union on April 29, 1945: I.e., a position of abject defeat. We've lost. We can't supply enough fuel and ammunition by air via the rough airstrips of Afghanistan to keep our troops fueled and moving, no more than the French could at Dien Bien Phu, and the Taliban have cut off the land logistics routes. This isn't Khe Sahn where we're bumping supplies a hundred miles over the jungle at low altitudes. Kirachi, the port in Pakistan where all our stuff gets unloaded off ships, is 700 miles and 5900 feet altitude from Kabul.

Any negotiation with the Taliban today will be similar to any attempt by Hitler on April 29 1945 to negotiate with the Soviets: a disdainful laugh, followed by the demand to unconditionally surrender. That's the reality of the situation. Unless we can get that land logistics route re-opened, there simply is no "there" there, and nothing to negotiate.
Meanwhile, we have our own Taliban to deal with:
The "right of conscience" regulation was pushed through by President Bush on Thursday as a "midnight regulation." This regulation would allow anyone to refuse to participate in medical procedures they feel goes against their religious beliefs. "Employees" are defined broadly: from the pharmacist filling a prescription for antibiotics to a cashier refusing to ring out oral contraceptives, to the one who cleans the surgical tools after a procedure involving a blood transfusion. From The WaPo: 

The far-reaching regulation cuts off federal funding for any state or local government, hospital, health plan, clinic or other entity that does not accommodate doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other employees who refuse to participate in care they find ethically, morally or religiously objectionable.
"Conscience" is defined as "the private, constant, ethically attuned part of the human character. It operates as an internal sanction that comes into play through critical reflection about a certain action or inaction."
Oh, the irony of Bush acting on behalf of those who wish to act "conscionably" and being able to live with one's actions from his administration that has been anything but. 

Further, I myself feel it is morally unconscionable that we don't have universal health care and that corporate CEOs make 250 times what average workers make. Does this mean I get to stop paying taxes? 
RAW STORY: A career Army specialist "Career Army Specialist sues Rumsfeld, Cheney, saying no evacuation order given on 9/11"

A career Army specialist who survived the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, claims that no evacuation was ordered inside the Pentagon, despite flight controllers calling in warnings of approaching hijacked aircraft nearly 20 minutes before the building was struck.

According to a time-line of the attacks, the Federal Aviation Administration notified NORAD that American Airlines Flight 77 had been hijacked at 9:24 a.m. The Pentagon was not struck until 9:43 a.m.

The shoe thrower apologizes - to Maliki.

But according to Reuters, one of Mr Zaidi's brothers expressed scepticism over the merits of the letter. "This information is absolutely not true. This is a lie. Muntader is my brother and I know him very well. He does not apologise," Udai al-Zaidi said. He added: "But if it happened, I tell you it happened under pressure." 

The least dangerous game:           
Time for Waxman to write another letter
Rice and Gonzales appear to have lied about vetting George's pre-war uranium claims              
In spite of the lies, Condi says, "I absolutely am so proud that we liberated Iraq."
Federal regulators on Thursday adopted sweeping new rules for the U.S. credit card industry that will shield consumers from increases in interest rates on existing account balances among other changes.

Under the new rules,
which take effect July, 2010, customers who are less than 30 days late on payments would not be subject to higher interest rates and their credit ratings won't take a hit...
So what, they get to keep ripping people off until 2010?

If you've ever applied for a loan (or mortgage, or even a new credit card) of any kind, you can probably bring on a headache just remembering how you had to pore through page after page after page of legalese gibberish in tiny print. And your hand probably starts to hurt when you remember the jillions of places you had to put your signature or initials.

Now — wanna apply for one of those multi-billion dollar Wall Street giveaways that Congress has been handing out? Just fill out this Fast and E-Z two-page form, sign your name, and Presto! Those taxpayer chumps are just champing at the bit to give you a few more billion dollars of their money.

This application form is, of course, only available if you're already a multi-millionaire whose only job skill is playing with Other People's Money. If you work for a living and/or if you actually need this money to pay your medical bills or keep your house — buzz off, peon. Bootstraps!


WASHINGTON - Today, Robert Redford joined members of Congress and a coalition of environmental, preservation and business groups in an effort to stop the Bureau of Land Management from auctioning Utah wilderness to oil and gas companies.


Bush arms

The Bush legacy: "Orderly" bankruptcies

An "orderly" bankruptcy may be the best way of handling the struggling U.S. auto industry, President Bush indicated today as he spoke before the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank. However, he said he hasn't decided what action he will take, the Associated Press reports.
Perino said: "The president is not going to allow a disorderly collapse of the companies. A disorderly collapse would be something very chaotic that is a shock to the system."


So Blackwater's not responsible for what Blackwater does? Huh?
Oh yeah, now the corrupt bastards want oversight

From GovExec:

In a bid to beef up House Republicans' ability to scrutinize an Obama administration, incoming House Oversight and Government Reform ranking member Darrell Issa, R-Calif., is moving to increase the GOP side of the panel's oversight power.

A day after he was formally selected as ranking member last week, Issa ousted 14 of 39 Republican committee staffers, including many senior aides. Outgoing staffers said they were told the panel's minority will shift its focus away from legislation toward oversight of federal agencies.

By bringing in aides with investigative backgrounds, committee Republicans believe they can increase their capacity to conduct independent investigations, despite lacking the majority's subpoena power.

I hope they start with the outing of a covert CIA operative, illegal wars and wiretaps, secret energy meetings, and punishing the torture orderers.
Chuck Norris

Mr. Norris,

I bet you're as delighted as I am to hear that the US Army is finally implementing the Coulter Doctrine ("Invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity"). No doubt you've seen the television programs about the civilian missionaries the Army embedded in Afghanistan. I get chills every time I think about those brave combat missionaries handing out Bibles every time their unit secures a village.

But I have to wonder if these particular missionaries are right for the job. I expected to see a couple of kick-butt-and-convert-your-sorry-infidel-asses Christian warrior types passing out the Bibles, but these guys seemed a bit on the wimpy side to me. I doubt they command any respect, whatsoever.

I know you're busy right now
defending Christmas against Jews and unbelievers, but I'm wondering if you could take some time off and get yourself embedded as an official Army missionary over there. I'm not talking long term or anything. You just need to find the Islamunistofascist kingpin's fortress and kick the sensei's ass like you did in Way of the Dragon. No, wait, Bruce Lee kicked your ass in that. Well, hell, you know what I mean.

Heterosexually yours,

Gen JC Christian, patriot

p.s. Here's one of the shows about the embedded missionaries in case you missed it:
Obama nominates Rep. Ray LaHood, Republican of Illinois, to lead the Transportation department:

So after Goldman Sachs got government help back in October to make its books look better, it made sure to shift its income offshore to avoid most US income taxes for 2008.

There's your thank-you card from Wall Street for coughing up your children's savings to pay for the Phony Lending Crisis of 2008, while Congress ignored a real problem right under their noses.

I'm sure Chuck Schumer is fine with this.


Although there were lots of runners up on FOX for Media Matters annual "Misinformer of the Year" award, the honor has been bestowed upon Sean Insanity.

Congratulations, Sean. You're a great American.


88 reasons not to move to New York

New York's governor is trying to close a $15.4 billion budget gap, so he's called for 88 new fees and a host of other taxes, including ones on gasoline, clothing, beer, college tuition, soft drinks, movie tickets, taxi rides, massages, cable and satellite TV, he even wants to tax iPod downloads.

When you can't afford to do anything but sit at home and listen to taxed tunes on your iPod, keep in mind that Goldman Sachs only paid 1% tax on their $2.3 billion dollar profit this year. 

And this: Investors who lost their fortunes in Madoff's alleged Ponzi scheme will end up paying far less in taxes and may even be eligible for refunds, according to accounting experts. By some estimates, the IRS could be out as much as $17 billion in lost tax revenue.

Traitor: One who betrays one's country: 

K.J Dwyer: "If this is what we can expect from the former president of NASDAQ, I can only imagine what other similar schemes have yet to be exposed."


Bill Clinton has released his donor list, which is over two thousand nine hundred pages long. 

OMG! It includes the notorious rogue nations of Norway, Italy, and Jamaica … plus the Dutch national lottery. And the sinister Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, that horny Canadian who impregnated Liz Hurley, plus Brunei, Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman. Oh, and some Arab states!



"50-to-1" is the ratio of Palestinians slaughtered this year by Israeli forces in Palestine (West Bank & Gaza) to the number of Israelis who have lost their lives this year to VIOLENCE by Palestinians: "More than 500 Palestinians, 73 of them children, have been killed this year alone as a result of the conflict - more than double the figure for 2005. Eleven Israelis have lost their lives this year." So reported Karen AbuZayd, the commissioner general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (, writing for The Guardian last week.

AbuZayd notes the ironic juxtaposition of the approaching anniversary of the UN
Declaration of Universal Human Rights, the ratification of which was contemporary with the establishment of the State of Israel in the land of Palestine. The plight of European Jewry in Nazi Europe was one of the main stimuli for the Declaration. Hence, there is no small amount of irony in the fact that Jews in Israel are among the most flagrant violators of that document, for their treatment of Palestinians, especially the over 1.5 MILLION of them effectively imprisoned in Gaza.

AbuZayd writes:

The need to give substantive meaning to the protection of Palestinians has never been greater. The former high commissioner for human rights, Mary Robinson has said that in Gaza, nothing short of a "civilisation" is being destroyed. Desmond Tutu has called it "an abomination". The humanitarian coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, Maxwell Gaylard, said that in Gaza there was a "massive assault" on human rights. Most recently, the European commissioner, Louis Michel, described the blockade of Gaza as a "form of collective punishment against Palestinian civilians, which is a violation of international humanitarian law".

It is important to note that there is nothing particularly, or inherently, 'Jewish' about these atrocities. It's the usual business of ethnic cleansing, an art perfected elsewhere, but whose practitioners happen, in this case, to be Jews.

As with the case of the fervent opposition of Blacks in California to the right of gay couples to marry, which is counter-intuitive given the history of black oppression and the court struggle to overturn anti-miscegenation laws, it never ceases to bemuse and befuddle me that Israelis--many of whom or of whose parents were victims of Nazi terror--can find rationalizations and justifications for conducting the same reign of terror against their Arab neighbors as was conducted against them or their ancestors in Europe.


Congrats to Senator Stuart Smalley.

The Cheney Legacy Tour continued with an interview in the Washington Times (link, other link).

And what is Cheney's legacy? Torture, of course. When pretty much all that even the Washington Freakin Times wants to ask you about is torture, you can be pretty well assured of how history will remember you.

Which is so totally unfair, because, he says, only 33 people were "subjected to enhanced interrogation" and only 3 waterboarded: "Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah and a third, al-Nashiri. Um, that's it. Those three guys. Was it torture? I don't believe it was torture."

That "enhanced interrogation," he said, was "reasonable" and "produced the desired result. I think it's directly responsible for the fact that we've been able to avoid or defeat further attacks against the homeland for 7 1/2 years." Indeed, "I think it would have been unethical or immoral for us not to do everything we could in order to protect the nation against further attacks like what happened on 9/11." Heaven forfend he do anything unethical or immoral.


He makes a distinction between Guantanamo torture (good) and Abu Ghraib torture (bad): "People take Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib and interrogation of high-value detainees and sort of throw that all together and say, you know, characterize it as torture policy. You've got to, I think, back off and recognize that something like Abu Ghraib was not policy." Not because what took place at Abu Ghraib was immoral, of course, but because it just wasn't productive: "And the people ... that were subjected to abusive practices there, I don't think had any special intelligence understandings, if you will, or special intelligence information that we needed." Otherwise, he'd have totally approved of torturing them.

"I'm personally persuaded that this president and this administration will look very good 20 or 30 years down the road in light of what we've been able to accomplish." Twenty or thirty years? Hopefully you'll be finishing your prison sentence right about then. 


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