Monday, December 8, 2008

Headlines - Monday

h/t Jeff - Hollywood actor Vinnie Jones was treated for injuries and arrested after a Thursday night bar fight at Wiley's Tavern in downtown Sioux Falls.

Jones, 43, is a British former soccer player whose movie credits include "Snatch," "Gone in Sixty Seconds" and "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels."
From the comment section: "This is the coolest thing to happen in Sioux Falls all year."
Obama proposes strong stimulus for the economy - the Mexican economy

The problem: Subontractors prefer hiring Mexican day workers for these kinds of contracts nowdays, not Americans. Americans insist on those nasty OSHA safety rules and file complaints with OSHA if the subcontractor forces workers to work under unsafe conditions. Mexicans don't.

So while this will put more money into the pockets of politically-connected contractors (and being put onto the "approved contractors" list in most states is one big-ass political bullshit process that depends more on your ability to bribe legislators into pestering the DMV to put you on the list than on whether you can actually perform), it's unclear that it's going to have the effect on the American economy that Obama expects. But it sure will do great things for the Mexican economy...

Typically, when a new president is elected, U.S. attorneys of both parties generally submit their resignations to make way for the new appointees. But one of the loyal Bushies has other plans.
Does she really expect us to believe that she's staying on out of concern for an overload of paperwork on clerical workers at the Justice Department? No, she's going to hang around so that when Republicans and Joe Lieberman decide that no Democrat should ever be allowed to deal with the crises facing this country and that it's more important to remove him than to do the nation's business. Buchanan will be right there, loaded for bear.

Traitor Joe and Mad Dog plan how many rugs they can buy in Kabul, while Senator Hayseed adjusts his wig, you know, just in case…

Who the hell authorized McCain to go pour gasoline on the flames of the conflict between India and Pakistan? Maybe we were wrong about Sarah Palin being the dangerous one. They're both crazy, along with their Mini-Me, Joe Lieberman.
The Village is still pretending it spends its evenings knocking back a few dozen Coors with Joe the Plumber
How else to explain why the Washington Post sees having a bunch of intelligent, thoughtful people in Barack Obama's cabinet as a liability:

All told, of Obama's top 35 appointments so far, 22 have degrees from an Ivy League school, MIT, Stanford, the University of Chicago or one of the top British universities. For the other slots, the president-elect made do with graduates of Georgetown and the Universities of Michigan, Virginia and North Carolina.

While Obama's picks have been lauded for their ethnic and ideological mix, they lack diversity in one regard: They are almost exclusively products of the nation's elite institutions and generally share a more intellectual outlook than is often the norm in government.

But skeptics say Obama's predilection for big thinkers with dazzling résumés carries risks, noting, for one, that several of President John F. Kennedy's "best and brightest" led the country into the Vietnam War. Obama is to be credited, skeptics say, for bringing with him so few political acquaintances from Illinois. But, they say, his team reflects its own brand of insularity, drawing on the world that Obama entered as an undergraduate at Columbia and in which he later rose to eminence as president of the Harvard Law Review and as a law professor at the University of Chicago.

I wonder who these "skeptics" are? William Kristol? Rush Limbaugh? Tom Brokaw? All the other media hacks who have never once in the last eight years been right about anything at all, even as they lauded the blue-collar mythos of Captain Codpiece (who is now abandoning his sham show "ranch" for the comfortable Dallas suburbs - a development anyone with a brain could have predicted)?

Dharma notes:

I think that after eight years of dumb, I am ready to see what a group of really smart people can accomplish.

The fact that Bush pulled many of his appointees out of Texas, and those who were close family or personal friends, has never gone unnoticed. Look what it did for the country! The fact that he barely made it through college, and some of his appointees did not even attend, makes it apparent that we now could use some intellect in the White House.


Funny how the "insularity" of George W. Bush's little Texas mafia didn't meet with the same degree of scorn.
Help for seniors!
A US gun company will market a pistol to elderly Americans that will be subsidised by the government in the same way as a wheelchair or walking frame. The company, Constitution Arms, claims its gun, called a Palm Pistol, has won approval as a medical device for people with arthritis or other disabling conditions who have trouble squeezing the trigger on a normal firearm.
Matthew Carmel, president of Constitution Arms in Maplewood, New Jersey, said the gun was "something that they need to assist them in daily living".
George & Laura to move into formerly "whites only" neighborhood:
Feds raid Tony Alamo Christian Ministries Church compound - child porn and abuse suspected:
NBC confirms that David Gregory will host Press the Meat. Congrats to David for becoming the most boring host on Sunday talk shows!


With only 44 days left in office, President Bush continues to "burrow" people into government positions. All told, Mr. Bush has made roughly 30 personnel moves since the November election, some in nominations that will require Senate approval, and others in direct appointments that will last well into President-elect Barack Obama's term and beyond.

The New York Times reports that on Tuesday of last week alone, Bush hired 18 people for administration jobs.


A straight shooter for the VA

President-Elect Obama selects retired Army Gen. Eric K. Shinseki as his Secretary of Veteran's Affairs. Shenseki is most famous for estimating that it would take several hundred thousand troops to stabilize Iraq in the aftermath of an invasion -- and being forced out by Rumsfeld when he told the truth to Congress.

Honesty. Competence. And someone who doesn't underestimate the size of the tasks ahead of him. Exactly what we need for making sure our veterans get everything they need.

As for those wondering why Shinseki (or any of a number of other retired generals) are not in the running for Secretary of Defense: There is a tradition, backed by law, that you don't put a retired general as SecDef unless at least ten years have passed since he has worn the uniform. That is to prevent a Praetorian Guard situation. The civilian leadership is in charge of the Pentagon, not the generals, and a general swapping his uniform for a business suit in order to lead the Department of Defense is not the sort of thing that should happen in a democracy where the military is under civilian control.


In time for the holidays, buy your inflatable fruitcake here.


Jack Sparrow actors at Disneyland get the ol' heave ho for being too sexy -after being flashed by teen girls. Replaced by fairies:



In a move to reassert Congressional independence at the start of the new presidential administration, the vice president will be barred from joining weekly internal Senate deliberations, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in an interview with the Las Vegas Sun.

Reid's decision to exclude Vice President-elect Joe Biden from the Senate arena where he spent most of his adult life is intended to restore constitutional checks and balances that tilted heavily toward the executive branch during the Bush presidency.


Bush Slaps Women In The Face

Newsweek: Under a new midnight regulation crammed through by the Bush Department of Health and Human Services and poised to become law any day now, any health-care worker may refuse to perform procedures, offer advice or dispense prescriptions, if doing so would offend their "religious beliefs or moral convictions." Congress has protected the right of physicians to opt out of providing abortions for decades. This new rule, which President-elect Obama can overturn (although it may take months), is far broader. It allows one's access to birth control, emergency contraception and even artificial insemination to turn on the moral preferences of a pharmacist, nurse or ambulance driver.
I doubt that any nurses are being forced to work in an abortion clinic. And if they are, hey, there's a nursing shortage and maybe they should transfer to geriatrics. And to the pharmacists that refuse to fill birth control prescriptions, it is your job is to fill prescriptions that the doctor has ordered, not to be a morality judge. If you can't comprehend that, then go dispense aspirin at a church youth camp or join the nurses in geriatrics. 

What's next? Mormons refusing to sell you coffee because it has caffeine in it? Or vegans refusing to sell milk and eggs?
I just can't believe how far we're sliding back in this country.
In this this AP article we learn 'how Freddie Mac splashed cash to halt regulation.
Merrill Lynch CEO thinks he needs a $10 million dollar bonus
CNN tells us that "Dollar Bill" Jefferson will have to pick up his freezer and go home:

"Nine-term Democratic Rep. William Jefferson, who has been battling scandals and a federal indictment for the past three years, appears to have lost his bid for re-election.

Louisiana Democratic Rep. William Jefferson has been embroiled in a bribery scandal.

Republican challenger Anh "Joseph" Cao, an attorney and community organizer, has defeated Jefferson in the 2nd Congressional district race, according to The Associated Press.

With 79 percent of precincts reporting, Cao had 52.9 percent of the vote to Jefferson's 43.2 percent."


If you want to know why our public schools are screwed up, here's one reason: 

Cynthia Dunbar has written a book. It's typical wingnut nonsense: it "refers to public education as a 'subtly deceptive tool of perversion' and calls the establishment of public schools unconstitutional and 'tyrannical.' It goes further and says that…

…she believes public schools are unconstitutional because they undermine the scriptural authority of families to direct their children's education. Her own children have been privately educated and home-schooled.

Typical and unsurprising so far. It's a shame that she's abusing the intellectual development of her own children, but unfortunately, she has that right. At least she's not harming other kids…uh, wait a moment.

Cynthia Dunbar is on the Texas State Board of Education.


Condi Rice still lying about BushCo's WMD claims, implies we would have gone to war anyway

Rice was on "This Week" yesterday, peddling BushCo's revisionism about pre-war WMD. She didn't like it when it was suggested the Bushies succumbed to groupthink.

GEORGE: Is that a fair criticism of the Bush White House...Could you have done a better job airing dissenting views on the WMD?

CONDI: We talked a lot about dissenting views. The idea that somehow within the Bush White House there weren't dissenting views during this period time is simply not true. But the intelligence didn't permit frankly, much in the way, of uh, alternatives for the weapons of mass destruction. Uh, now the...

GEORGE: Although the dissents inside the National Intelligence Report from the State Department and others...


CONDI: Go back sometimes and read that it was not a dissent on whether or not he had chemical weapons. It was not a dissent on whether or not he had reconstituted his biological weapons capability.

GEORGE: Certain dissents on nuclear.

CONDI: On the nuclear side one had to look to the intelligence community to resolve and present to the President a unified view that was their best estimate of what was there.  


There were plenty of doubts about all of Iraq's non-existent WMD programs (just a few here, here, here and here). But despite them, Condi was running around warning us about "mushroom clouds" at the same time Hans Blix was saying there was no Iraqi nuclear program.

In any case, is Rice really suggesting that the American people would've gotten behind a full-scale invasion of Iraq because Saddam might have been hiding some decade-old mustard gas? Because I'm guessing not.

Later, when confronted with Karl Rove's admission that the adminstration would've never gone to war without the threat of Iraqi weapons, Rice says,

"I think that there were a lot of reasons to get rid of Saddam Hussein."

No there weren't. The war was sold on WMD -- specifically -- the threat of the Iraqi bomb. Specifically from people like Bush and Cheney and Rice.

You can run, but you can't hide from history Condi.

The blood is on your hands.


Would you buy this SOFA? Should the Iraqi people?

Next year, thanks to Iraq President Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi's will get to actually vote on the Status of Forces Agreement that was ratified by their government and finally their Presidential Council Thursday. All our troops must be out of Iraq by 2011.The Iraqi's will supposedly vote on the agreement next year.

I say supposed to vote because we are now propping up one of the most corrupt regimes in the world, right behind Myanmar and Somalia, according to Transparency International. The irony is thick indeed, isn't it? We took out Saddam and put in an entire government of Saddam's.


Leaving their stink

On everything they touch:

In another regulatory action in the waning days of the Bush administration, the Interior Department on Thursday unveiled a new rule that challenges Congress's authority to prevent mining planned on public lands.

Congress has emergency power to stop mineral development, and has used it six times in the last 32 years. The most recent was in June, when it put a three-year moratorium on uranium mining on one million acres near the Grand Canyon. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne has ignored that Congressional directive, saying it was procedurally flawed.

The new rule issued by the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management comes as environmental groups are suing the bureau in federal court for failing to obey Congress's directive, which under a 1976 law can be invoked when "an emergency situation exists and extraordinary measures must be taken to preserve values that would otherwise be lost."

The revision of the rule eliminates all references to Congressional authority. The revision moved through the often-cumbersome rule-making process with lightning speed; it was proposed in October, and the public was given just 15 days to comment.

The rule seems intended to speed a judicial confrontation on the constitutionality of the 1976 law, and to underscore the Interior Department's determination to leave public land near Grand Canyon National Park in northern Arizona open for mineral development.

Bill Hedden, the executive director of the Grand Canyon Trust, described the new rule as a power play, saying, "They certainly are wanting to remove anything that might crimp their power" to determine what can be done on public lands.


We encouraged the Afghani 'freedom fighters' to use these tactics against the Soviets 30 years ago and they're using them quite effectively against us now.

In one of the largest and most brazen attacks of its kind, suspected Taliban insurgents with heavy weapons attacked two truck stops in northwest Pakistan on Sunday, destroying more than 150 vehicles carrying supplies bound for U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan.

The predawn attack on the outskirts of the city of Peshawar left the grounds of the truck terminals littered with the burned-out shells of Humvees and other military vehicles being transported by private truckers. At least one guard was reported killed.

Early today, a second attack on Western supplies was reported in the same area. A security guard said 50 containers had been burned and some vehicles destroyed by rocket fire.

By the time the Soviets left Afghanistan, only about a third of their supplies were getting to their destination. I don't care what kind of force you have on the ground. If you can't resupply them, they're ineffective at best, dead at worst. Throwing a division or two at the problem might not be the best idea when the Soviets had over a hundred thousand on the ground and still failed. I hope President Obama takes that into consideration before committing more U.S. troops and capital to what is now a no-win situation.


I'll believe this when I see it 

Israel can no longer expect "blank cheques" from Washington once president-elect Barack Obama's administration takes over in January, a former US ambassador to the Jewish state said on Sunday.

"The era of the blank cheque is over," said Martin Indyk, director of the Centre for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institute who is considered close to incoming secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

"The Obama administration intends to be engaged, using diplomacy to try to bring about a safer and more peaceful place, that is different from the seven years of the (George W.) Bush administration," he said on public radio.


Bush gave another delusional interview to Dubai-based Arab satellite tv station MBC. You can read the whole thing if you have the stomach for it, but here are my favorite parts: 

Asked if, looking back, he would do anything differently, he said, "I'm sure there will be" – that is, he might be able to come up with something when he actually does look back, but he hasn't looked back yet. So he decided to turn it around and respond with an answer to a question that hadn't been asked, one which didn't require him to admit fallibility, saying, "there's been some disappointments." For example, "Well, like, Abu Ghraib was a terrible disappointment. And admittedly, I wasn't there on the site, but I was the Commander-in-Chief of a military where these disgraceful acts took place that sent the absolute wrong image about America and our military." Yeah it would have all been totally different if he had been there on the site to, like, supervise. Also, if he hadn't given the order to torture.

"Well, I think we've left [the Palestinian peace process] in good shape. We've left it with the vision intact. In other words, a lot of people now share the vision of two states."

And how would he like to be remembered by people in the Middle East? "I would hope they would remember me as George W. Bush, as a man who respects their religion, respects human rights and human dignity, and prays for peace." Well, they probably will remember him as George W. Bush. That's one out of four, which is higher than his average success rate, so well done, George.  

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