Thursday, December 4, 2008

Headlines - Thursday

While humans are killing each other to get great deals on Christmas gifts ...

Check out an amazing video of a dog saving another dog that had been hit by a car on the highway. The heroic canine runs into traffic and drags the severely injured dog out of harm's way. Rather unbelievable.

Cheney refuses to Set Timetable for Withdrawal from White House
Washington - Vice President Dick Cheney said he will refuse any attempt to impose "unwise, politically-motivated timelines" for the Bush administration's withdrawal from the White House. President Bush's term officially ends January 20, 2009, when Barack Obama will be sworn in as the nation's next president. However, Cheney said today, only "the situation on the ground" should determine the appropriate time for the administration to withdraw.

The Vatican warns that mobile phones and computers are bad for your soul

Phones and computers are making the world so noisy and hectic that people cannot cultivate their spiritual dimension. 
In other news, allowing gays to be put to death in 85 countries is acceptable.
BooMan: This is just a guess, but I'd put money down that George W. Bush will preemptively pardon Harriet Miers and Alberto Gonzales on Christmas Eve. Bush's father pardoned the Iran-Contra crew on Christmas Eve 1992, and it seems like an appropriate precedent for the son. The bigger question is whether he will preemptively pardon Karl Rove. Rove is certainly behaving like a man without a care in the world, which is strange considering that a Washington grand jury is issuing subpoenas as we speak. And, no, there's not a damn thing any of us can do about it. A president's pardon power is absolute.
Here's a compilation of Fox News economic experts (including that eponymous intelligent design movie maven, Ben Stein) laughing and dismissing the claims of Peter Schiff, head of EuroPacific Capital, who predicted the economic crisis we're in now as long ago as 2006. All the other Fox investment experts mock him and his claims repeatedly. And then, led by Ben Stein they recommend in late 2007 that you should invest in Financial stocks like Merrill Lynch and Bear Stearns! Watch the whole video. It really gives you a flavor for the fantasy world that our conservative business elites were living in not so long ago:

You know what the sad thing about this video is? All these bozos who were spectacularly wrong about the housing bubble, the debt crisis and the effects of years of Republican economic policy are still employed as pundits, talking head economic experts, well compensated "event speakers" and investment advisers. I'm amazed FOX had Peter Schiff on its business programs at all, but I guess they saw him as comic relief for fat cat CEOs and investors, and as a cats-paw for their other "business analysts." Too bad he was 100% right and the rest of these ideologues and greedy scam artists and stock touts were 100% dead wrong.

And Conservapedia tells us that Bush has presided over a period of economic growth.


Since September 15 the United States has been a rudderless Titanic. When our dear leader smelled the smoke of Lehman's ashes he ran so fast for Delta Quadrant, it knocked the Xanax right out of Laura's hand.

So just exactly what has Captain Bush done to earn the $7,692.31 we, the American taxpayers, pay him each week to steer the great ship into the Iceberg?


You want to see why Chambliss & McConnell won their races?

Read on:


Gov. Ed Rendell caught on an open mic talking about how perfect Janet Napolitano will be for the Homeland Security post because she has no family and no life.


Transparent and connected. Can we handle it?

Something very interesting happened over on the Obama transition team's site a week ago.  It was the day before Thanksgiving, so it didn't make as big of a splash as it might otherwise have.  An invitation was issued to join the discussion and tell the Obama team "What worries you most about the healthcare system in our country?"  Transition team members Dr. Dora Hughes and Lauren Aronson opened the discussion with a video request for feedback.


Has the recession made a Grinch of Ikea? The furniture giant is selling reindeer meat, and Rudolph isn't put down kindly: Animal-right activists charge that Ikea's reindeer slices and reindeer salami are products of animal cruelty. Modern reindeer ranchers herd the animals with helicopters, trucks, and snowmobiles over hundreds of miles, causing them mental and physical distress. More heartbreaking: 70 percent of Swedish reindeer slaughtered are calves, which die without ever seeing snow. Ikea has decided to hold its ground, offering this peculiar defense of the hunting methods: "The vehicles keep the reindeer safe from predators." Read it at The Independent


I'm so glad we've got all those starving people fed. Especially the kids. It was shameful, in the richest country in the world, to see them going hungry.

I'm so glad nobody's homeless anymore. Everybody has a roof over his or her head this Christmas, isn't that fantastic? We managed to build all that affordable housing and settle everybody into a place of his or her own. What a job that was, but we did it!

Cured that AIDS, too. Cured AIDS and cancer, same week! There isn't a school in this country that doesn't look like a palace, not a teacher paid less than $100K. Plus we colonized Mars, built a fleet of cars that inhale carbon dioxide and exhale polar bear chow, and kicked Japan's ass at the last science fair.

Forget America, though, can you believe the world peace we've got going on these days? Israelis and Palestinians are making out in the streets, India and Pakistan got invited to each other's birthday parties, and across all of the continents of the entire planet Earth, guns fell silent as we joined hands to love and acknowledge one another as fellow human beings worthy of dignity and respect.

I'm serious, guys, we freaking rule.

I'm so glad we finally got our shit so completely together that this is all that's left for our legislators to do.

Sen. Chris Buttars wants Utah's Legislature to declare its opposition to the "war on Christmas."

The West Jordan Republican is sponsoring a resolution encouraging retailers to embrace Christmas in their promotions rather than the generic "holidays."

"It would encourage the use of 'Merry Christmas,'" Buttars said of the non-binding statement that is still being drafted. "I'm sick of the Christmas wars -- we're a Christian nation and ought to use the word."

With all that is going on in this country and in the world, Chris "This baby is black…this is a dark, ugly thing" Butters thinks this is a priority? 

If you would like to send Chris some holiday cheer, you can do so here:


Seven days of godly sex

A couple of Sundays ago, Pastor Ed Young challenged the married couples at his 20,000 member megachurch to have sex every night for a week. Yes, seven times, that's right. That's more sex than most of us get in a lifetime. 

Unfortunately, it appears that Pastor Young's commitment to "congregational copulation" was a bit limp:

Mrs. Young tried to shake him awake, telling her husband, "come on, it's the sex challenge," But Mr. Young murmured,"Let's just double up tomorrow," and went back to sleep


The tough economic times are producing some highly questionable revenue measures by cities and states. One of the most problematic is the growing trend for towns, cities, and counties to charge citizens to use of police or fire services in emergencies. At least 24 states have such laws on the books and private contractors are pushing for every state to allow them to collect from crime and fire victims.


Afghanistan Is Not A Good War 

There's an excellent military analysis in the New York Times today that I urge everyone to read fully. Afghanistan is not Iraq, shoving more troops in will not work, help from allies will not work, nothing will work but at least a decade of occupation, with all the death, maiming and horrendous cost that involves.

For what? To make sure Afghanistan doesn't produce terrorists?

The United States does not have to occupy Afghanistan, it is not a good war, we will fail there like all imperialists have throughout the history of the world, and one day we will finally leave, wondering how in the hell we ever convinced ourselves it was necessary, let alone virtuous.


Barack Obama has a 78% approval rating


President-elect Barack Obama gets soaring marks for his handling of the transition and his choices for the Cabinet, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, even at a time the public is downbeat over the economy.

More than three of four Americans, including a majority of Republicans, approve of the job Obama has done so far -- broad-based support he'll need as he faces tough decisions ahead.

By 69%-25%, those surveyed approve of his pick of New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, his former Democratic primary rival, as secretary of State.

By an even wider margin, 80%-14%, they favor his decision to ask President Bush's Pentagon chief, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, to stay on the job.

These numbers are just stunning, and serve as further proof that Barack Obama will enter the White House with a greater mandate than any newly elected President in a very long time. While I certainly do not expect this spread to hold indefinitely, or even necessarily for the duration of Obama's first 100 days in office, this level of support gives Obama the juice to hit the ground running on January 20. A sky high approval rating doesn't mean that a President should get everything he wants - but it does mean he should be able to get much or even most of it.


As I'm chatting with Obama, the moderator says, 'Governor Richardson, what do you think of that?' And I look at him like a deer in the headlights. I was about to say that I hadn't heard, when Obama puts his hand over his mouth and says, 'Katrina.' So I gave my four-point plan on Katrina. When I was done and the debate moved on, I looked over and said, 'Thanks, you're okay.' He said, 'Nothing to it, brother.'

— Commerce Secretary-designate Bill Richardson, to Esquire magazine on how his new boss saved him during a Democratic primary debate.


What's in store for Azam Amir Kasab, the sole surviving Mumbai gunman? According to The Times of London, "Indian police interrogators are preparing to administer a 'truth serum' on [him]." India is trying to determine where exactly Kasab is from. They believe that he is from Faridkot, a small town in Punjab province in Pakistan, but Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said on CNN last night "we have not been given any tangible proof that he is definitely a Paksitani. I very much doubt it … that he is a Pakistani." Truth serum is banned in most western democracies, but was frequently used in the West during the Cold War. Kasab is being held at an undisclosed location. "All I can say is that it isn't five-star luxury," said his interrogator. Read it at The Times of London


The cowboy imagery has outlived its usefulness

It looks like George W. Bush's big shows of clearing brush are over. He and Queen Thorazine are looking for a house in Dallas.
I wonder how all the people who deluded themselves for eight years that this rhinestone cowboy was some kind of throwback to the macho old west think about this? More importantly, I wonder if they've learned anything from their eight years of self-delusion?


This horrific company ought to be prosecuted for war profiteering, not given taxpayer money to treat people like this:

About 1,000 Asian men who were hired by a Kuwaiti subcontractor to the U.S. military have been confined for as long as three months in windowless warehouses near the Baghdad airport without money or a place to work.

Najlaa International Catering Services, a subcontractor to KBR, an engineering, construction and services company, hired the men, who're from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. On Tuesday, they staged a march outside their compound to protest their living conditions.


Robert Novak - still a douchebag for liberty

During a recent interview, Boob Novak was asked if he could do it all over again, would he out Valerie Plame?...

A: If you read my book, you find a certain ambivalence there. Journalistically, I thought it was an important story because it explained why the CIA would send Joe Wilson -- a former Clinton White House aide with no track record in intelligence and no experience in Niger -- on a fact-finding mission to Africa. From a personal point of view, I said in the book I probably should have ignored what I'd been told about Mrs. Wilson.

Now I'm much less ambivalent. I'd go full speed ahead because of the hateful and beastly way in which my left-wing critics in the press and Congress tried to make a political affair out of it and tried to ruin me. My response now is this: The hell with you. They didn't ruin me. I have my faith, my family, and a good life. A lot of people love me -- or like me. So they failed. I would do the same thing over again because I don't think I hurt Valerie Plame whatsoever.

But of course Plame was hurt because of Novak's column. She no longer has a career as a covert CIA agent, and she has said that she fears for her family's lives.

Novak ignores that Plames outing had broader national security implications. In fact, it was her job to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. And as one former CIA officer put it, the leak made "it harder for the other CIA officers to recruit sources."

Way to support the nation, Novak. You've won first prize in the "cutting off your nose to spite your face" category.


Sweet. Franken camp claims 22 vote lead.


While the auto industry is arguing to Congress that it needs a financial bailout to avoid recession, CBS News reports that automakers spent nearly $50 million lobbying lawmakers in the first nine months of the year, along with another $15 million in campaign contributions.


Last night, Fox's Hannity & Colmes hosted John Ziegler, author of a push poll attempting to prove that voters who supported Barack Obama were misinformed. 

HANNITY: If you don't listen to talk radio, if you don't watch the FOX News Channel, you're not anywhere nearly as informed as people that are just hearing the bumper stickers, the slogans, the snippets of the commercials of the media. So, journalism died in 2008, and it influenced a lot of people on the way out.

ZIEGLER: That's exactly right.

Actually, studies have consistently shown Fox viewers to be among the most misinformed Americans. A 2008 Pew study ranked Fox News dead last in the number of "high knowledge" viewers.

A 2003 study found three common misperceptions about the war held by many Americans: first, that US troops found evidence of close pre-war links between Iraq and al-Qaeda; second, that troops found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; and third, that world public opinion favored Washington's going to war with Iraq. Fox viewers were the most likely to believe these falsehoods:

Eighty percent of Fox viewers were found to hold at least one misperception, compared to 23 percent of NPR/PBS consumers. All the other media fell in between. … As to the number of misconceptions held by their audiences, Fox far outscored all of its rivals. A whopping 45 percent of its viewers believed all three misperceptions, while the other commercial networks scored between 12 percent and 16 percent. Only nine percent of [print media] readers believed all three, while only four percent of the NPR/PBS audience did.


General Motors' president, Fritz Henderson, says of his demand for a massive government bailout, "There is no Plan B." For more than 30 years, the American car industry has never managed to come up with more than one plan, think a new thought, that's the whole problem.


The Snow Fairy


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