Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Headlines - Tuesday

Hamas rocket causes devastation in Israel
US inaugurates its $700 million dollar embassy, which Ambassador Ryan Crocker calls a "testimony to America's long-term friendship with Iraq."
A friendship that has brought them continued daily bombings, increased violence against women, no clean drinking water, disease, childhood malnutrition, 1.2 million dead and 4 million displaced - all for the low price of $12 billion per month, 4,221 dead American soldiers, and over 30,000 wounded - not to mention all the psychological scars.   
Fun fact: the company who built the Death Star is under investigation for gross human rights abuses while building it
Oh, and it's gonna cost $1.2 billion (with a "b") a year to operate the 104-acre complex, which is the size of approximately 80 football fields.

I don't know about you, but I'm thinking your average Iraqi who actually has to look at this fortress palace in the middle of Baghdad, complete with swimming pools and tennis courts and a 16,000 sq. ft. castle for the ambassador, is freaking thrilled.


A Minnesota board certified Al Franken as the winner of the recount.  Congratulations, Senator Franken!

What do you know? He IS good enough, he IS smart enough, and gosh darn, people Do like him!


In 2007, the secretive Orwellian-named "Wildlife Services" spent more than $100 million to kill 2.4 million animals, including  90,262 coyotes, 2,277 gray foxes, 2,412 red foxes, 2,090 bobcats, 1,133 cats, 552 dogs, 577 badgers, and 340 gray wolves. Over 37,000 were killed the manly way, by gunning them down using aircraft. 


In his first public statement about the genocide in Gaza, Chimpy says Israel is justified in protecting itself against Hamas militants. Just like I suppose he thinks they are justified in denying food and a team of Red Cross doctors and nurses from entering Gaza. 

"I understand Israel's desire to protect itself. The situation now taking place in Gaza was caused by Hamas." Palestinian body count: 530+; Israeli: 4

He went on to say that he is hopeful there will be a cease-fire, but since the US has quashed attempts by the UN to end the war four times recently, that seems like a lie to me. 


Obama's in Washington now! Only 15 days until the inauguration!

It's almost too impossible to believe. Only 15 days and no more Bush cackle, no more Cheney snarl, no more sending anonymous letters to random people living overseas, apologizing for our leader and promising we'll try our best to do better next time. Obama's gonna be president for reals! In 15 days.

15 days is starting to feel like kind of a long time actually. That's over two weeks. A half a month. Bush only needs a week to destroy a country. With over two weeks we could be at war with the planet Saturn before Obama gets sworn in. How are we supposed to wait this out?

We know how hard the anticipation can be, so here are just a few tips to get you through this trying time as we wait to finally have a president who is more competent than your average housepet.

Keep drinking! You've been drunk since mid-2005 and it's worked like a charm. Why stop now when you've only got fifteen days left? To be sure that you don't accidentally stumble down some stairs and die before you get to see Obama sworn in, you might want to spend the next two weeks drinking in bed.

Go into the sewers. Deep underground in the darkenss, you'll be far away from televisions and newspapers and any outlet that will let you know just how far the country can still fall in half-a-month.

Just keep cutting yourself. Slice into your inner thighs and on the underside of your upper-arms. The pain will distract you from the final six interviews Bush will give where he tries to seem apologetic but just comes off like he's sort of slow.

Get Hypnotized. Have someone hypnotize you so that every time someone says "President Bush" you hear "Puppies Playing In A Field of Cotton Candy" and you become filled with sunny happy feelings.

Pray. If you have a God, ask him or her to keep Bush from blowing up any planets over the next two weeks. If you don't have a God, use that bullshit you learned from that book "The Secret" and put it out to the universe or whatever. Just do your part! Only 15 days!


Last winter Houston-based Citgo (the US refining unit of a Venezuelan oil company) spent $47 million dollars offering 40% discounted heating oil to 23 different states. 

The program is being discontinued due to "falling oil prices and the world economic crisis."


The father of a US Army sniper that was convicted in February and sentenced to 10 years in prison for killing an unarmed Iraqi civilian and then planting an AK-47 on the dead man's body and lying to military investigators, says he received a letter from the White House confirming that his request that his son be pardoned by President Bush is being "seriously considered."

"We're not going to stop until someone lets him go," Carnahan said.


It seems the more I try to learn about the situation in Gaza, the less I understand. But I do know how to look for signs, and a big one is when Bill Kristol is in your corner, watch out. From today's column:

The Israeli assault on Hamas in Gaza is going to be a replay, we're told, of the attempt to subdue Hezbollah in southern Lebanon in the summer of 2006. And the outcome, it's asserted, will be the same: lots of death and destruction, no strategic victory for Israel and a setback for all who seek peace and progress in the Middle East.

Obviously, war is an unpredictable business, so I say this with some trepidation: I think the conventional wisdom will be proved wrong. Israel could well succeed in Gaza.

War is an unpredictable business, but tallying up Kristol's track record is not. His prediction-accuracy quotient is Zero, which suggests things are only going to get uglier.  


White phosphorous used on Palestinians

Here's a description of what white phosphorous did when we used it in Iraq:

Kamal Hadeethi, a physician at a regional hospital, said, "The corpses of the mujahedeen which we received were burned, and some corpses were melted."


John Jay explained the rationale for setting up the Senate the way it is in Federalist Papers No. 64. It was always intended that the Senate would be made up of the "most enlightened and respectable citizens" and people "most distinguished by their abilities and virtue." Originally, senators were selected by state legislatures, and this was a deliberate design.

It's easy to look at our present Senate and laugh at John Jay's high hopes. But it pays to look carefully at Jay's words. When he warns against political meteors that dazzle and deceive us with their genius and patriotism, he is warning us against demagogues. 

Keep reading.  


How much of your money do you want to give to the poor millionaires who were greedy enough to fall for Bernie Madoff's siren song?

At one time Bush and Cheney were calling their program for fleecing America The Ownership Society. A more accurate moniker would have been The Entitlement Society. But the latest manifestation of the Bush world view is the demands that Bernie Madoff investors-- all millionaires and billionaires-- are making on the rest of us to make them whole. And why not? It fits right in with the whole Bush Economic Miracle that has virtually destroyed the American working class painstakingly built up since the early 1930s.

Yesterday's Guardian reports that
taxpayers are already on the hook bailing out Madoff's rich (and formerly rich) investors and that they're complaining that more taxpayer funds are needed.

This, of course, fits in perfectly with the Bush Regime's vision of financial policy and economics in general: Privatize the profits; socialize the losses. That's George W. Bush's idea of the "free market."

I'm sorry Madoff's clients lost $50 billion. They should have been more careful about the risks they were taking in their lust for greater rewards. It's the first rule of investing. Perhaps they thought they were getting away with insider trading and offshore banking shuffleboard to evade capital gains taxes. And they expect hardworking Americans to subsidize this? WTF?

How about we all take a pledge to vote against every elected official who votes in favor of spending taxpayer dollars to bailout these people?

Fun fact: prosecutors on Monday said Bernie violated bail conditions by mailing about $1 million worth of jewelry and other assets to relatives and should be jailed without bail.


Morford: Sympathy for the W?


How sad is it that I'm happy the new CIA director is against torture? This shouldn't even be a debate, let alone a cause for joy

From the NYT:

"President-elect Barack Obama has selected Leon E. Panetta, the former congressman and White House chief of staff, to take over the Central Intelligence Agency, an organization that Mr. Obama criticized during the campaign for using interrogation methods he decried as torture, Democratic officials said Monday."

So, you might be wondering, what are Panetta's views on torture? As it happens, he wrote a piece called 'No Torture. No Exceptions.' in the Washington Monthly, about a year ago.

And, in what appears to be another really good move toward decency, humanity, and the rule of law in this country, the Obama transition team has announced several new appointments at the Department of Justice: David Ogden as Deputy Attorney General; Elena Kagan as Solicitor General; Tom Perrelli as Associate Attorney General; and Dawn Johnsen, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel. I want to focus on the last of these.

Diane Feinstein, who rarely met a Bush appointee she didn't vote for (Porter Goss, George Tenet, Michael Hayden, Mike Mukasey, Robert Mueller, and Donald Rumsfeld), is unhappy about the Panetta pick.

The Democrats show that they are once again the unparalleled masters at fratricide.

I'm so glad the Democrats got over that winning streak in November so they could quickly get back to our regularly scheduled shit show fail parade.


John Bolton and John Yoo (who should both be in prison) have recently taken to the pages of the New York Times to preemptively warn about, of all things, executive overreach by the incoming Obama administation.  Specifically, the two Johns are worried that President Obama will be tempted to circumvent Constitutionally-mandated treaty-ratification requirements in the pursuit of certain items on the "global governance" agenda: namely greenhouse gas reduction measures and non-proliferation/arms control agreements.

Up next, David Addington and Dick Cheney write in the Washington Post on the need to reject Unitary Executive theory.


Laura Bush is set to receive a multimillion dollar advance for what is sure to be one of the worst books ever written.

I'm not sure how you stretch "9/11 was hard" and "I totally hung out with black people before Katrina" into 350 pages, but if anyone can find a way, it's her.


Obama's statement on the crisis in Gaza was actually made last June


The "other" grandmother of little Tripp Von Axl Dump Truck Johnston, Ms. Sherry Johnston, entered a "not guilty" plea for that drug thing at an Alaska court today, by herself, and with a public defender because no one would help her get a private attorney and she's in the middle of a divorce. Someone should introduce her to Rush Limbaugh.

And in a related story (h/t Gary), Levi has quit his oil field job over questions about his eligibility to work in an electrical apprenticeship job.


Hispanic leaders are demanding another hispanic in Obama's cabinet (they have two). Gays are asking for him to appoint someone openly gay.

From the Human Rights Campaign:

"With the vacancy of Governor Bill Richardson as the nominee for Secretary of Commerce, President-elect Obama is presented with yet another opportunity to make good on his promise of equality for all LGBT people," said HRC President Joe Solmonese.

How about we let him choose the most qualified people?  


Would someone please remind Obama that he won


The Fumigator-in-Chief asks the residents of Roane County, Tennessee, the site of the little-covered coal ash disaster that is the worst environmental catastrophe in this country since the Exxon Valdez, "How's that overwhelming support for George W. Bush in the 2004 election working out for ya?" He's got a point, though. It's time we started pointing out to voters who live in these areas that for varying reasons have been hardest hit by Bush policies and who vote Republican to start thinking about exactly what they're voting for when they fall for this "real America" shit.


Gitmo detainee speaks

Muhammad Saad Iqbal was never charged with a crime, but the six years he spent in U.S. custody were a nightmare. Iqbal was arrested in Indonesia in 2002 and judged by American officials not to be a threat. (He had bragged about building a shoe bomb.) But he was taken to Egypt anyway, where he says he was given electric shocks and beaten and made to stand for days. At Guantanamo, he repeatedly tried to commit suicide. Iqbal is now planning to sue the United States. "Who is responsible for the seven years of my life?" he said.


Republicon policies spread results worldwide.


The current Secretary of the Interior, Dirk Kempthorne, spent nearly a quarter-million dollars of taxpayer money refurbishing the bathroom in his office. Considering that he got the job in May of 2006, that means it cost the Treasury roughly $300 a day to give him a nice place to go potty.

By the way, what sort of person puts a freezer and a refrigerator in his bathroom? 

But that's the Party of Hoover, watching every dime of taxpayer money, so long as somebody is paying attention. If they think nobody is watching, it's spend, spend, spend.


Here's a preview of Maru's new book titled The Codpiece Chronicles, a book of Maru's Names for Commander Codpiece von Chickenshit the Stupid - it's only a partial list.


Parts of three remote and uninhabited Pacific island chains are being set aside by President George W. Bush as national monuments to protect them from oil and gas extraction and commercial fishing in what will be the largest marine conservation effort in history.

I still loathe him, but this is a good thing.


'As I ran I saw three of my children. All dead'


Oh for f**ks sake

Tony Blair is to receive the United States' highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom (to start illegal wars), from his friend George Bush next Tuesday, at a White House ceremony during the latter's last week in office.

Previous winners have been Paul Bremer, General Tommy Franks, and George Tenet.

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