Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Headlines - Tuesday

h/t Dick - Generation gap a chasm, study finds: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/06/29/national/main5120915.shtml

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - President Karzai accused Afghan guards working for U.S. coalition forces of killing a provincial police chief and at least four other security officers during a gunbattle outside a government office Monday.

In a harshly worded statement, Karzai demanded that coalition forces hand over the private security guards involved. But the governor of Kandahar later said 41 guards connected to the incident had been disarmed and arrested by Afghan authorities.


How many times is this guy going to accuse us of doing horrible things before he asks us to leave?


It must be time for a new contract!

Guard members from Indiana, Oregon and West Virginia were protecting workers hired by a subsidiary of the giant contractor, KBR Inc., to rebuild an Iraqi water treatment plant. The area, as it turned out, was contaminated with hexavalent chromium, a potent, sometimes deadly chemical linked to cancer and other devastating diseases.

No one disputes that. But that's where agreement ends.

Among the issues now rippling from the courthouse to Capitol Hill are whether the chemical made people sick,
when KBR knew it was there and how the company responded



What Madoff Really Needs is Company, and Lots of It

Don't get Madoff, get even: Bernie Madoff may deserve his 150-year jail sentence – but he wasn't the biggest crook on Wall Street



How not to be popular

Republicans took a little bit of a hit this weekend as a new Washington Post/ABC News poll showed that a solid majority support the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. In total, 62% want to see her on the court, with most describing her judicial thinking "about right." It's when you get into the details that you see how far outside the mainstream Republicans are on this issue.

...Nearly eight in 10 Democrats and about two-thirds of independents said they want the Senate to confirm Sotomayor, but that drops to 36 percent of Republicans. Overall, most Republicans deem the judge a "more liberal" nominee than they would have liked.
Worse, many Republicans see her race as a handicap. "Half of Republican men and 59 percent of conservative Republicans said [race plays] a role in her decision making, with most of those who do saying that that is a bad thing," the report tells us. GOP messaging is clearly working with the base, but that's not necessarily a good thing for them; the message may be aimed at that conservative core, but that doesn't mean they're the only ones hearing it. We're all being asked to be skeptical of the motives of people who aren't white, because everyone knows it's only white people who don't think about race. White guys like me -- or so the reasoning seems to go -- don't really have a race. We're all the default.

Keep reading: 
Just listen to this nice young Baptist man preaching that "Jesus ain't no long-haired hippy queer" 
Our soldiers pulled out of the cities today: holiday declared in Iraq. Dick Dick Cheney is afraid that withdrawal will "waste" the sacrifice of U.S. troops.

From the NY Times:

After a year in preparation, a much-heralded auction of licenses to develop Iraq's huge oil reserves began Tuesday but seemed to run into difficulties when oil and gas companies demanded far more remuneration than the authorities were ready to pay.

Symbolically, the sale, broadcast on television, coincided with the formal handover by American forces of security arrangements in urban areas to Iraqi forces — an economic counterpoint to the striving for political military independence underpinning the Iraqi takeover of patrolling Iraq's restive cities.

I guess the return on our trillion dollar investment is China securing the oil rights.

4 US soldiers killed today. 4,321 total.
Our kafkaesque justice system
So the Feds try a guy for being a terrorist. They lose badly, so badly that the jury wonders why the case was even brought.

Then they arrest the guy again and are trying to deport him for being a terrorist, the same charge which they were unable to prove in a court of law.

If you want to know why our government is often reviled throughout the world, it is because of stupid shit such as this. This is the (in)Justice Department and the DBP acting like a bunch of spoiled children, whining and carrying on because they didn't get what they wanted. (ICE is an appropriate acronym for some of the goons involved, for they sure do not have warm blood flowing through their veins.)

So if you ever wondered what life would be like if six-year-olds had the powers of arrest and could carry guns, now you know.

A John Edwards' sex tape will be a significant part of a new book being written by an ex-aid for St. Martins. But the really damning part:

According to our source, [the mistress] Hunter confided to [the author] Young that she and Edwards talked about getting married should the candidate's cancer-stricken wife, Elizabeth, pass away, even discussing what music they'd play at their wedding.

Goodbye political rehabilitation!


Go read: Democrats to progressives: we're just not that into you.


Need more proof that health insurers are cowardly monopolies that wouldn't last ten minutes against real competition?  Talking Points Memo has it.








Howard Dean: "You know who has socialized medicine in this country? Everyone over 65 and everybody in Congress."


EPA releases list of 44 dangerous coal ash sites in ten states  There is no such thing as clean coal, and anyone who says there is - is a dirty damned liar.  


Elderly wingnut 'teen idol' also wants personal copy of Obama's birth certificate


What happens when you're super angry about a Negro somehow becoming president, but there are no longer specific laws against a Negro becoming president? Make up something else! Better yet, make up something that can never be disproved, to you, because you can just dedicate yourself to saying, "Nah, that is FAKE somehow!" Perfection. And guess who just joined the "Birther" club? Once-famous right-wing asshole and talentless fruitsack Pat Boone, who made a living half a century ago stealing the black man's music, that's who. MORE »


Hero/patriot Dan Froomkin says goodbye to his readers and good riddance to the Wah!Poo in a gracious column. Well, OK, he reams the the neocon suckhole a new one. But in an amicable and gallant way. Sort of.

Kudos to the Froomster. That was beautiful.


The Supreme Court has rejected a class-action lawsuit against Saudi Arabia (who funded the attacks) brought by 9/11 survivors and relatives of those killed in the attacks.

The court's decision Monday not to allow an appeal of the case to go forward effectively ends an effort by some 6,000 9/11 relatives and survivors to sue the government of Saudi Arabia and several members of the Saudi royal family over the country's alleged behind-the-scenes role in the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.


Recall that they also refused to hear Valerie Plame's case. And they didn't give a reason for that one either.




Monday, June 29, 2009

Headlines - Monday

If there's one question to which I've always longed for an answer, it's: Who Would Jesus Shoot?
I'm pretty sure I've never heard of 41,000 pounds of Boca Burgers being recalled
41,000 pounds of beef recalled

JBS Swift Beef Co. of Greeley, Colo., has recalled more than 41,000 pounds of various beef products because of possible e.colie contamination but there's a catch: the beef products recalled were produced back in april and were shipped to distributors and stores in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin. Eleven products are being recalled. The problem was discovered as the USDA'as food safety and inspection service was testing for samples in an investigation of other products - examiner

Keep in mind that Republicans don't want inspections...they think that individuals should test their own food stuffs. Oh, yeah...and if you get sick from eating some of this tainted food, you better pray you have enough insurance to cover your hospital stay without losing everything you have to pay for it.
In June 2008, U.S. Virgin Islands governor John Dejongh Jr. agreed to give London-based Diageo Polc billions of dollars in tax incentives to move its production of Captain Morgan rum from one U.S. Island - Puerto Rico - to another, namely St. Croix.
Dejongh says he had no idea his deal would help make the world's largest liquor distiller the most unlikely beneficiary of the emergency troubled asset relief program (TARP) approved by congress just four months later. - bloomberg
Via YahooNews, we learn that Bernie Madoff has been ordered to forfeit $171 billion. 
"Fault Lines" is a disturbing look at efforts to transform American soldiers into "government paid missionaries," as one Christian fundamentalist group put it. Watch it here:
h/t Dick T:

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel's Defense Ministry has approved construction of 50 new homes at a West Bank settlement as part of a plan for 1,450 housing units, an expansion that defies a U.S. call for a settlement freeze.

Paper avalanche buries plan to stem foreclosures.
So not only is this plan barely workable, but we're subsidizing foreign automakers when US companies are in bankruptcy due to flagging sales.  Brilliant! 
A coup (the first since the end of the cold war) has ousted President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras.
How long before McCain is demanding that Obama take a tougher line with the Honduran government? My guess is as soon as one of his staffers explains where it is.
White House denies existence of indefinite detention order:
Treasonous Republicans
Paul Krugman argues that Republicans are committing treason against the entire planet.

I don't know if treason is the right word, but the Republican party is evidence of the fruits of theology and educational systems that do not place a premium on the scientific method. What we have in large swaths of this country (primarily in the states of the old Confederacy) is an intellectually bankrupt idea that belief trumps facts. What that has brought us is a rapidly warming planet (as well as a bankrupt political ideology [neoconservatism] and trillions of dollars thrown away in a moronic war).

The truth is sometimes painful. And the truth here is that the planet is warming up. The truth is that the costs of stopping humanity's contribution to a warming world will be painful to bear. The truth is that not doing anything will be far more painful to our descendants.

Here is something that may also come to pass: The vocal resistance to doing anything to address climate change from the eight-year delay of the Bush Administration and now the know-nothings in the GOP may lead to the extinction of the Republican party. For when things start to really go bad, people are going to look around for who was to blame. They'll blame the energy companies, who delayed any action by using the same tactics as the tobacco companies did ("junk science" "it's not proven") and then they'll blame the political parties who followed the cues (and the cash) of the energy companies.

Which leaves three ways to categorize the party of Hoover's resistance to doing anything about climate change: They are (a) crooks that took bribes; (b) idiots; or (c) traitors. Or "all of the above."
How GE made billions from the bank bailout:
The long wait is over
Obama has finally chosen a church - the same one that Bush went to:
This doesn't surprise me Red state assholes may talk a good game where family values and culture war issues are concerned - but when it comes right down to it they are nothing but hypocrites.  They have higher divorce rates, more teenagers having babies and far and away more online porn consumption.  
Good question!  If a 'public option' would put private insurers out of business because the private sector simply can't compete with the government - how the hell are FedEx and UPS still in business?
Fox News finally gets official permission to lie
If you ever had any doubts as to just how deep in the septic tank FOX News is swimming, let me dispel them for you.  After three different court tries, FOX News finally found a trained appeals panel to agree that there's nothing wrong with a supposedly neutral and unbiased news organization lying its ass off to push a particular political and/or corporate agenda under the guise of providing "news".

Fla Appeals Court OKs Lying and misinformation by news organizations.

Now, why would someone go to court to defend their right to distort the news and misinform the public if they weren't distorting the news and misinforming the public?

The attorneys for Fox, owned by media baron Rupert Murdock, successfully argued the First Amendment gives broadcasters the right to lie or deliberately distort news reports on the public airwaves.

But again, why would you WANT to do this if you're a totally "fair and balanced" news organization and only adhering to ethical journalism standards that have been codified by the Society of Professional Journalists ? It doesn't make sense.

On February 14, a Florida Appeals court ruled there is absolutely nothing illegal about lying, concealing or distorting information by a major press organization. The court reversed the $425,000 jury verdict in favor of journalist Jane Akre who charged she was pressured by Fox Television management and lawyers to air what she knew and documented to be false information. The ruling basically declares it is technically not against any law, rule, or regulation to deliberately lie or distort the news on a television broadcast.

Good old FOX news... "We report, YOU decide", my shiny metal ass.




Sunday, June 28, 2009

Headlines - Sunday

When you put on the Whole Armor of God next Sunday," says Ken Pagano, Pastor of the New Bethel Church in Louisville, Kentucky, "don't forget to put your semi- automatic handgun in your holster. In that way, when you come to church, you will be able to stand against the wiles of the Obama Nation."
"How do you put together a consumer economy that works when the consumers are out of work?"

That's Bob Herbert, of course, asking the fundamental question no one else is asking.

One of the great stories you'll be hearing over the next couple of years will be about the large number of Americans who were forced out of work in this recession and remained unable to find gainful employment after the recession ended. We're basically in denial about this.

There are now more than five unemployed workers for every job opening in the United States. The ranks of the poor are growing, welfare rolls are rising and young American men on a broad front are falling into an abyss of joblessness.

Some months ago, the Obama administration and various mainstream economists forecast a peak unemployment rate of roughly 8 percent this year. It has already reached 9.4 percent, and most analysts now expect it to hit 10 percent or higher. Economists are currently spreading the word that the recession may end sometime this year, but the unemployment rate will continue to climb. That's not a recovery. That's mumbo jumbo.

Exactly. The same mumbo-jumbo we've been hearing for the past three decades. It's trickle-down by another name, a concentration on Wall Street while Main Street gets the shaft. All that talk of a jobs program to get the economy moving vanished once Obama was actually elected and was replaced by a HUGE bankers' welfare system. Result: the economy remains in deep trouble, jobs are still being lost rather than added, and the nation is so deep in the hole it may be decades more before we dig our way out, if we ever do.

Transparent Obscurity
Last night on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart did a nice little rundown on all the cases where the Obama administration's promises of "transparency" and adherence to constitutional norms have turned out to be shall we say, a bit opaque.

There were those who saw the writing on the wall on these issues through the haze of hopenchange. Virtually all presidents want as much power as they can get. Relying on any politician to deny himself the ability to exercise it freely is to fail to understand the power of power.

Glenn writes about the trial balloon being floated that Obama is considering issuing an executive order for preventive detention. He points out that the main difference between this administration and the last is that this administration is pretending to care about what the congress wants (and the constitution requires) but goes ahead and does what they intend to do anyway if the congress fails to act as they wish it to. I often wondered whether we were doing a bit of a disservice to Bush and Cheney for constantly criticizing them for implementing the unitary executive theory so openly. For such a secretive regime, they were surprisingly honest about what they were doing. They said they believed the constitution meant for the president to be all powerful and above the other two branches and they acted on that premise. And the debate over that, once engaged, was pretty robust and very public.
....and from Irregular Times:

The Obama White House wants to issue an executive order to detain people because it doesn't believe a judicial trial would convict the people it wants imprisoned and it doesn't believe that the sort of legislative bill it wants would pass Congress.

Remember your high school American civics class and the lesson on the checks and balances of power distributed between three coequal branches of government? When Barack Obama was a candidate a year ago, he told us he remembered that lesson, too. He told us that change doesn't come from the top down, but from the bottom up. He told us that he had read the Constitution and taught the Constitution and believed in the Constitution. He told us he'd restore judicial review to detainees and the right to a fair trial. He told us he'd restore human rights and civil rights for individuals. He told us he'd restore due process and rule of law, not rule by edict.

Now that he's President, and he doesn't think he'll get the outcome he wants on individual cases from the legislative and judicial branches, he's decided he's going to overrule judicial power, to overrule Congress' power of legislation, to overrule the Constitution itself. Rather than deal with the pesky separation of powers, Barack Obama will issue his personal edict that in America, there is no more right to a speedy, public trial by impartial jury. Under Barack Obama's presidential declaration, Barack Obama will be judge, Barack Obama will be jury, and Barack Obama will be jailer. There are names for a person who feels desperately that unless he controls every aspect of a situation, it will all turn out wrong. "Micromanager" is a polite one. "Control freak" is more blunt. "Tyrant" is usually the one we use in politics.

Does this remind you of anyone? Does it remind you of George W. Bush? Does it remind you of Dick Cheney? It should. The Obama administration has adopted the kingly aspirations of the Bush administration. History tells us that it's a bad idea to let control freaks and tyrants grab the crown, or to fashion a crown for themselves when none exists.

I expect some of you are thinking right now that this really isn't such a big deal, that it can't be such a big deal, because Barack Obama seems like such a nice fellow. Besides, you might be thinking, President Obama is just doing what he has to do to clean up after the messes of the Bush administration, to deal with the aftermath of leftover detainees. He'll resolve the issue of the Guantanamo detainees, you're thinking, and then we can move forward without looking backward to the dawn of a new bright and shiny day where we all hold hands on the hillside and teach the world to sing in perfect harmony and buy the world a Coke and keep it company…

… well, hold on there, Sheila. Read what the Washington Post reports, after speaking to Obama administration officials, about the plans for this executive order:

Such detainees — those at Guantanamo and those who may be captured in the future — would also have the right to legal representation during confinement and access to some of the information that is being used to keep them behind bars…. One administration official said future transfers to the United States for long-term detention would be rare.

Did you notice the word "future" there? Funny word, "future": it usually refers to what somebody's planning to do next.

Duke University faculty and students were shocked this week with the arrest of Frank Lombard, the school's associate director of the Center for Health Policy, for allegedly offering his five-year-old son for sex with a man. Police say that Lombard identified himself as "perv dad for fun" and even suggested the hotel that the undercover officer could use for the crime. Story here .

Corporate Knights recently hosted Dr. James Lovelock speaking on his latest book, The Vanishing Face of Gaia. Click here for the first segment of that talk.

Dr Lovelock begins by saying the IPCC document is by far the scariest document ever written because it isn't just what we are doing to the earth that is the problem, it is that the earth responds to our actions. And change is coming faster than even our models predicted.

Sea level is the one true reliable thermometer for the whole earth.

The green section is what our models predicted for how much sea level would rise. The line above is what is actually being measured.

Earth, we have a problem. And our biggest problem today are those climate change deniers who would watch the world burn for their profits. Clearly we are not doing enough fast enough to address this looming crisis.


Sally Kern is at it again

Oklahoma's bible-thumpingest congresscreature has issued a Proclamation of Morality.

WHEREAS, the people of Oklahoma have a strong tradition of reliance upon the Creator of the Universe; and

WHEREAS, we believe our economic woes are consequences of our greater national moral crisis; and

WHEREAS, this nation has become a world leader in promoting abortion, pornography, same sex marriage, sex trafficking, divorce, illegitimate births, child abuse, and many other forms of debauchery; and

WHEREAS, alarmed that the Government of the United States of America is forsaking the rich Christian heritage upon which this nation was built; and

WHEREAS, grieved that the Office of the president of these United States has refused to uphold the long held tradition of past presidents in giving recognition to our National Day of Prayer; and

WHEREAS, deeply disturbed that the Office of the president of these United States disregards the biblical admonitions to live clean and pure lives by proclaiming an entire month to an immoral behavior;

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that we the undersigned elected officials of the people of Oklahoma, religious leaders and citizens of the State of Oklahoma, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world, solemnly declare that the HOPE of the great State of Oklahoma and of these United States, rests upon the Principles of Religion and Morality as put forth in the HOLY BIBLE

Notice that the only solutions she proposes to her perceived problem of immorality is 1) pray for a day, and 2) read her holy book. Even if you grant that her declared problems are real moral problems (and I do not: I find it incredibly offensive and obtuse that she would lump same sex marriage together with sex trafficking) these are solutions that do not work. If you want to find a hotbed of divorce, illegitimate births, child abuse, alcoholism, etc.…just look for a high density of churches.



You'd think some Russian translator would have researched American slang before coming up w/the final title. bbc news:

Russia's energy giant Gazprom has signed a $2.5bn (£1.53bn) deal with Nigeria's state operated NNPC, to invest in a new joint venture.

The new firm, to be called Nigaz, is set to build refineries, pipelines and gas power stations in Nigeria.


Mugabe takes over diamond mines: NY Times

Joe the Plumber (not Joe and not a plumber) thinks that Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) should be lynched.
What's the difference between "Why hasn't he been strung up yet?" and Hal Turner saying, "These judges deserve to be killed"? Absolutely none. So why hasn't Samuel Wurzelbacher been arrested for threatening a public official, and why is he still a star in the Republican Party?
Friday seems to be the favorite day for regulators to slit the throats of failing banks.

45 have failed so far this year. Not good, but we're far from the blood-letting of the Reagan S&L debacle.  
On Friday, the House passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act which will, in part, regulate carbon emissions in the U.S. House Minority Leader John Beohner, a vocal critic of the legislation, delayed Friday evening's vote for nearly an hour by taking advantage his "privilege as leader to speak for an unlimited time on the House floor." After the House finally voted on and passed the legislation, the Hill asked Boehner to comment on what he had hoped to gain through his "filibuster-like" delay. "Hey, people deserve to know what's in this pile of sh*t," Boehner replied.
Those who were shocked to discover, after 9/11, how easy it is for persons linked to terrorism to acquire pilots' licenses may be surprised to discover that, nearly eight years after that fateful day, at least six people known to have -- or suspected of -- terrorist links were able to keep their aviation licenses.
President Obama signed the $106 billion war-spending bill into law Friday, but not without taking a page from his predecessor and ignoring a few elements in the legislation.

Obama included a five-paragraph signing statement with the bill, including a final paragraph that outlined his objections to at least four areas of the bill.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Headlines - Saturday

Dick T's corner:
U.S. swine flu cases may have hit 1 million.
Krugman: What I was afraid of.
Lobbyists on a roll: gutting reform on banking, energy and health care. 
And speaking of energy, Utah's very own senators are forming a new western caucus to cheer on relaxing government's grasp of resources and lands in the wide-open swaths in the West. 
Thank God the Supreme Court still has one — ONE!!! — purveyor of decency. You'd expect those leftwing pansies on the Court to fall for that liberal hogwash about "Constitutional rights."
Krugman: Not Enough Audacity: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/06/26-3
Palestinian Violence Overstated, Jewish Violence Understated: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/06/26-4
Naomi Klein calls for boycott of Israel: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/06/26-2
When it comes to health care reform, who can you trust? John Kerry?
Let me start by listing the half dozen top recipients of legalized bribes -so-called campaign donations - from the Insurance Giants who have spent so lavishly to keep Congress from enacting robust, workable health care reform:

John McCain (R-AZ)- $2,885,602 ($8,712,461)
Chris Dodd (D-CT)- $2,202,046 ($1,437,265)
John Kerry (D-MA)- $1,395,617 ($8,162,141)
Ben Nelson (D-NE)- $1,210,299 ($1,015,266)
Max Baucus (D-NE)- $1,182,613 ($2,853,781)
Arlen Specter (R-D-PA)- $1,037,205 ($4,048,133)

The dollar figures in parenthesis, in case anyone is interested, is how much the Medical-Industrial Complex "donated" to these fine gentlemen. Kerry doesn't even need the money. He's the richest member of Congress. With a fortune of at least $231 million, only Congressmembers Jane Harman, who like Kerry, married wealth and Darrell Issa, a successful burglar and car thief, come anywhere close. And the next wealthiest member of the Senate is a Rockefeller worth only a third of what Kerry reports.

I don't trust rich people to do the right thing for ordinary working families when push comes to shove. I have a gut feeling that senators who come from working families - like Bernie Sanders and Jeff Merkley - are more likely to understand what it's like to be desperate and poor in America. There has never been a moment I really trusted John Kerry. Better than a Republican? Of course. But really trustworthy for working families. Not to my mind.
Keep reading:
The Iranian government has continued its crackdown on protests, including the arrest of dozens of university professors for merely meeting with opposition leader Hossein Mousavi. Senior cleric Ayatollah Ahmed Khatami has called for the execution of some protesters and harsh treatment of all leaders of the protests.

At Friday's sermon at Tehran University, Khatami called for blood in the name of the almighty. He told supporters: Anybody who fights against the Islamic system or the leader of Islamic society, fight him until complete destruction. . . Anyone who takes up arms to fight with the people, they are worthy of execution . . . We ask that the judiciary confront the leaders of the protests, leaders of the violations, and those who are supported by the United States and Israel strongly, and without mercy to provide a lesson for all."

Khatami left no question that to protest the Iranian government is to be "at war with God." In the meantime, Mousavi has been isolated as the government arrests his staff and supporters. He appears to be backing away a bit under the pressure of shootings, beatings, and arrests.

Story here.


Morford: Michael Jackson vs the News: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2009/06/26/notes062609.DTL


Religious people are the best people 

The world has another example of justice by extremists using Sharia law. In Mogadishu, Somalia, an Islamic court held a public ceremony where the hands and feet of weeping thieves were cut off in front of hundreds of onlookers.

The Sharia court is part of the dominant Islamic group al-Shabab. Each thief had one foot and one hand cut off with a long knife in keeping with the dictates of the Koran.
They were convicted of such crimes as stealing a cellphone.

The group is trying to replace the more moderate Sufi Islamic tradition with Wahabi Islam from our ally Saudi Arabia, which uses beheadings and amputations.

Story here.


A video of a "gay exorcism" has outraged the public as a teen is shown writhing on the ground as members of the Manifested Glory Ministries Church in Bridgeport, Connecticut drive out "homosexual demons." Church leaders can be heard screaming at the "homosexual demons" "Right now I command you to leave!"

Video and story here.


Dominion = license to kill?

In the very beginning of the Judeo-Christian bible, God allegedly grants humanity

"…dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth."

And so it came to pass.  And speaking of creeping things that doth creepeth, it seems the creeps have inherited the Earth, creeps that seem intent to stomp every creeping thing over which they have dominion into extinction (and don't forget the permanent snuffing the fowl of the air).

You're probably wondering why I've decided to bum you out tonight.  I'm blue because of these new bummer tidbits, the massive die-off and looming extinction of nine species of shark due to the charming practice of 'finning' the poor critters for shark-fin soup while tossing the still alive but mutilated shark back into the ocean to effectively die slowly from blood loss and asphyxiation.

I can't tell you how depressed I get knowing that over the course of my lifetime I've watched the biggest species die-off since the disappearance of the dinosaurs.  Except for a few modest successes (think a few species of whales, wolves, American bison), people world-wide seem driven to destroy as many habitats and species as rapidly as possible, whether through global warming, deforestation, desertification, strip mining, urban sprawl, polluting and increasing the acidity of fresh and salt water, overfishing, poaching and just polluting the air and land in general.  Is the game to see how many of them we can take with us before our fossil fuel runs out and civilization collapses?

In the case of creatures like pelagic sharks or other deepsea fish, we're looking at the classic tragedy of the commons writ large.  Unless some modern day, environmentally-motivated Captain Nemo decides to take matters into his own hands, it's pretty much all she wrote for these poor creatures.  Wouldn't hurt to have some more (and less gentle) Bruno Mansers on land as well.

There might be a bit more hope for the poor vaquita which recently lost funds for protection due to the economic downturn.  Rather than watch it follow the Yangtse River Dolphin, perhaps a campaign funded by private donations run by a group such as the WWF could make up the shortfall?

The only thing that depresses me more than the actual mass extinction event underway is how people seem to care so little about it.


Depressing news, a new world record – there are now 1 billion hungry people in the world, about 1 out of every 7 people.  Lester Brown of the WorldWatch Institute warns how food shortages are leading to failed states and a threat to the overall world order.

Venal senators from the Midwest just don't get it – they insist on porking out the current energy bill with subsidies for corn farmers, diverting food from the plates of the world poor into the gas tanks of the rich's SUVs.


Sanford and Ensign's pals: that Hitler had some really good ideas: http://nomoremister.blogspot.com/2009/06/sanford-and-ensigns-pals-that-hitler.html


It's very kind of this home school football league to provide their list of priorities.


I would guess that #3 is very, very far down the list.


Here we go, Friday dump time:

The Obama administration, fearing a battle with Congress that could stall plans to close Guantanamo, has drafted an executive order that would reassert presidential authority to incarcerate terrorism suspects indefinitely, according to three senior government officials with knowledge of White House deliberations.

Such an order would embrace claims by former president George W. Bush that certain people can be detained without trial for long periods under the laws of war. Obama advisers are concerned that bypassing Congress could place the president on weaker footing before the courts and anger key supporters, the officials said. 



Iraq declares victory over U.S. 

NYTimes: Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has taken to calling the withdrawal of American combat troops from Iraq's cities by next Tuesday a "great victory," a repulsion of foreign occupiers he compares to the rebellion against British troops in 1920. The day itself has been declared a national holiday, though it is not yet clear whether Iraq will hold the "feast and festivals" he recently promised.  

I guess our leaving frees up some space for Exxon and Shell to move in and set up camp. 


City Council member Monica Conyers, wife of powerful Democratic congressman John Conyers, pleaded guilty Friday to accepting cash bribes in exchange for supporting a sludge contract with a Houston company.


Sanford compares his lady friend to Bathsheba and himself to that old testament king, David (not the gay one).

I have been doing a lot of soul searching on that front. What I find interesting is the story of David, and the way in which he fell mightily, he fell in very very significant ways. But then picked up the pieces and built from there.

– Mark Sanford

As you bible scholars may recall, King David rapes Bathsheba, knocks her up, and kills off her husband. Not exactly a stellar, Christian record there, Sanford, but if the shoe fits…


Guess who's getting rich off of Cap & Trade? http://susiemadrak.com/2009/06/26/17/49/the-wall-street-bubble-mafia/


The Sahara Desert is crossing the Mediterranean, according to Italian environmental protection group Legambiente which warns that the livelihoods of 6.5 million people living along its shores could be at risk. http://www.ansa.it/site/notizie/awnplus/english/news/2009-06-25_125345332.html


In a 219-to-212 vote last evening, the House passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which will "for the first time put a price on carbon emissions" in the U.S. In the final minutes of the debate, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) threatened to obstruct the bill by reading 300 pages of amendments, but eventually relented and read only a few sentences from selected portions. 

44 Democrats voted against the legislation.


Yesterday on Fox Business, anchor David Asman hosted a round table dedicated to smearing the Waxman-Markey clean energy economy legislation. The discussion, including Fox Business' Cody Willard and the Heritage Foundation's David Kreutzer, lacked a single proponent of the bill. Concluding the segment, Asman asked Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) — an opponent not just of clean energy legislation, but of green jobs in general — if the bill would pass the House. He responded with a morbid comparison:

ASMAN: Congressman Bishop is there any chance at all that this thing won't pass tomorrow?

BISHOP: Well there's hope, we'll see if — I mean you guys covered a national tragedy today, let's hope we don't give you a tragedy tomorrow as well.


4,316 soldiers killed in Iraq; 713 in Afghanistan - that we know of.


When the first sentence of the article reads like this, you know it's gonna be good.

A former mayor found sitting naked and holding a beer at a Rabun County campsite told police he wasn't the same naked man seen walking around earlier.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Headlines - Friday

Whatever your opinion of Michael Jackson was, his passing today at age 50 is an occasion to remember the words of John Donne:

"No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee."
(Wonkette has the best tribute to MJ.)
Least shocking news of the day: our good friends the Saudis funded 9/11
Documents gathered by lawyers for the families of Sept. 11 victims provide new evidence of extensive financial support for Al Qaeda and other extremist groups by members of the Saudi royal family, but the material may never find its way into court because of legal and diplomatic obstacles.

Limbaugh the Druggie strikes again. According to him it's not a big deal if Mark "Argentina Offshore drill" Sanford missed father's day with his sons, because, guess what, Obama went to play golf and quote "Obama abandoned his family on Father's Day to go play golf".

Unless Obama left DC to play golf overseas, I really don't see how Obama playing golf on Father's day is similar to Sanford going to Argentina.

And this, h/t Jake

Most fun way to "go Galt" EVER! - and it's all the Democrats fault!

Well, now I get it: according to Rush Limbaugh, Mark Sanford was "going Galt" - horizontally.

[Sanford] had just tried to fight the stimulus money coming to South Carolina. He didn't want any part of it. He lost the battle. He said, 'What the hell. I mean, I'm -- the federal government's taking over -- what the hell, I want to enjoy life.'...

I'm not [kidding]. My first thought was he said, 'To hell with this. The Democrats are destroying the country. We can't do anything to stop it. I gave everything I had to stop it here in South Carolina.' ... Folks, there are a lot of people looking at life and saying, 'screw it.' They're saying, 'screw it.' Before Obama takes away their money, before Obama takes away their house, or the economy takes away their house, there are people who are saying, "To hell with all this.... I'm just going to try to enjoy it as much as I can.'

(Audio here.)


h/t Laura

CNN: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is visiting Alaska National Guard troops in Kosovo, her office said Thursday to inspect the troops and ascertain how the experience in Kosovo will better prepare these service members for missions within Alaska and future deployments overseas." http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/



Sanford On Sin

Here's Mark in 1998 on Bill Clinton's cheating: "I think it would be much better for the country and for him personally (to resign). I come from the business side. If you had a chairman or president in the business world facing these allegations, he'd be gone."

Here's Mark in 1998 on ex-GOP Rep. Bill Livingston, who revealed that he strayed from his marriage: "The bottom line, though, is he still lied. He lied under a different oath, and that is the oath to his wife. So it's got to be taken very, very seriously."

And Mark has fought to have the Ten Commandments publicly displayed. Quick refresher:
Commandment No. 7: You shall not commit adultery 

Marriage is between a man and a woman........... and a woman in Argentina. And gay people are threatening that?









Well, folks, it's like this. Jesus had planned to return someday fairly soon, but when He saw what His erstwhile disciples had devolved into, He had second thoughts and said, "First of all, stop capitalizing pronouns whose antecedent is me! That really gets on my nerves! Second of all, if I ever decide to return one of these days, many of you who now so vociferously claim to be my disciples aren't going to be happy. Instead, you're going to weep and gnash your teeth when I say to you, 'I cast ye into outer darkness for being such Billy Grahams on the outside and
such feculent chamberpots on the inside!'"


The next time you hear about civilian casualties in Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, remember that each one has a face, some quite beautiful.

And who could forget this from National Geographic?

Death toll on the rise in Iraq.

Pakistan asks US to stop drone attacks after we killed at least 80 that were attending a funeral.


Sen. Rockefeller (D-WV) ...

On Thursday, Rockefeller admitted he expects little bipartisan support.

There is a very small chance any Republicans will vote for this health-care plan. They were against Medicare and Medicaid [created in the 1960s]. They voted against children's health insurance.

"We have a moral choice. This is a classic case of the good guys versus the bad guys. I know it is not political for me to say that," Rockefeller added.

"But do you want to be non-partisan and get nothing? Or do you want to be partisan and end up with a good health- care plan? That is the choice."


Did top political appointees in the Bush Justice Department leak about an investigation of then-Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ) to swing the 2006 election in Renzi's favor and blow up a wiretap on Renzi in the process? Murray Waas reports.


R.I.P., Farrah Fawcett


h/t Jake: I Need A Hero: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDdPuCsOLaQ&feature=related

Be sure to check out their version of Thriller too - thanks, Nancy!


This is a heck of an interesting project by NPR - during the markup of the health care reform bill in the Senate on June 17, one of their photographers snapped a picture of everyone in the audience. 99.9% of the time the cameras point in the other direction, at the lawmakers. This one points in arguably the right direction, at the lobbyists and stakeholders who will be just as responsible, if not more so, for the final shape of the bill. And they've asked people to help them identify the faces in the picture. So far there are a number of named lobbyists whose firms have earned millions from health care industry clients over the past year.

If anyone can help NPR ferret out these names by emailing to dollarpolitics-at-npr-dot-org or on the ubiquitous Twitter @DollarPolitics. We have an odd system in this country where the people who often write our bills are anonymous while the people who take their orders are well-known. We should maybe reverse that process and add some accountability into the mix at the same time.



The Germans have been finding a lot of amazing pieces of history recently but this one is really something. Click through to see the photo of this beautiful flute.

A bird-bone flute unearthed in a German cave was carved some 35,000 years ago and is the oldest handcrafted musical instrument yet discovered, archaeologists say, offering the latest evidence that early modern humans in Europe had established a complex and creative culture.


Dell and HP agree to Beijing spying request - what absolutely pathetic, gutless cowards.


C Street: http://www.balloon-juice.com/?p=23207


In case you missed it, here's The Daily Show's Jason Jones comparing Iranians' extensive knowledge of American history, geography and political system to the lack of American knowledge of Iran. It didn't go great for us: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/06/24/jihad-walking-jason-jones_n_220004.html


Michele Bachmann warns of link between census and Japanese internment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APnfPnqwv9c&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Emockpaperscissors%2Ecom%2Fblog%2F&feature=player_embedded

Fact: Census questions on race have been asked since 1790


Despite a veto threat from the White House and against the wishes of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Congress (who gets lots of money from the defense industry) yesterday "moved forward with plans to build more Lockheed Martin F-22 fighter jets."


Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) "became at least the third Republican" to announce that he will vote against Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court.

Flashback: here's Mr. Brownback holding up a picture of an embryo drawn by a 7-year-old girl. Relaying a conversation with the girl's mother, Brownback said the embryo was asking the Senate, "Are you going to kill me?"

Sam Brownback on Senate floor


Not that it will come as a surprise to anyone with half a grain of sense and half an hour spent in the coal fields, but coal mining costs coalfield communities more in early deaths than it benefits in jobs.

That's right: $47 billion lost in just the last decade.  How much has been lost since coal mining began in earnest 100 years ago?

And that's $47 billion in the last decade just in the cost of early deaths. That doesn't count the economic cost of roads destroyed by overweight coal trucks, house foundations shattered by blasting, forests of valuable hardwood bulldozed and burned, wells poisoned by mine leaching, irreplaceable sources of fresh water buried under mine waste.

No, no surprise and not rocket science.  But yet more proof that anyone - especially a bought-off Lieutenant Governor seeking a Senate seat - who dares to mention coal as anything but an abomination to be eliminated at any cost is a liar who thinks you're stupid.