Monday, August 31, 2009

Headlines - Monday

Yeah, I remember Dick Cheney. He was the sadistic bastard who pretty much called the shots during the Bush Administration, wasn't he?"
LA Times:
Stacks of ammo, once piled high at gun shops across America, have dwindled. Prices paid by consumers for much-sought-after Winchester .380-caliber handgun bullets have doubled. At weekend gun shows, trailers loaded with boxes of ammunition are drained within hours....

Bullets are in demand as the nation's appetite for firearms has soared. U.S. gun sales are up since the 2008 presidential election, during which the National Rifle Assn. poured millions of dollars into advertisements suggesting that Democrat Barack Obama would move to restrict gun sales if elected.
Another pot bust in my neighborhood - maybe the largest growing operation ever discovered in Utah!
Bob Dole. A Republican no more
From his piece in Newsweek on Ted Kennedy:
[Ted Kennedy] was proud of what he did, but he didn't wear it on his sleeve and remind you every day what a great guy he was. He was doing things that should have been done. He was not helping the rich. He was helping the disabled and seniors and children who didn't have enough to eat. Who can fault that?
Obviously, virtually all of the GOP these days could fault that.

Conservatism over the last couple of decades has struck me as being basically about the meanest, greediest and most self centered/selfish ideology there possibly can be. If a government program benefits them, they are all for it. Even if they are against the program, they have no compunction enriching themselves from it.

You can find no shortage of conservative politicians who railed against the stimulus package but then took credit for the stimulus money going to their states/district. Look at the current health care debate and you'll find conservatives working to make certain that their special interests get money.

The meanness trickles down. I've known no small number of Republicans who complained about the schools cutting programs when their kids were in school but, once all of their spawn have graduated, they were against all school funding. That is an attitude that is dripping in selfishness, it's an attitude of "government should serve only me."

Liberals have their faults. But liberalism, especially the New Deal type, is concerned with those who are on the bottom rung of the economic ladder. The only concern of conservatives is to make it easier for employers to exploit such people and for corporations to sell them shoddy goods.
We Have the Hope. Now Where's the Audacity? - by Peter Dreier and Marshall Ganz
On Aug. 25 last year, Sen. Edward Kennedy strode onto the stage at the Democratic National Convention in Denver and announced to a roaring crowd of party faithful the beginning of a new generation in American politics.

"I have come here tonight to stand with you, to change America, to restore its future, to rise to our best ideals and to elect Barack Obama president of the United States," he said. Comparing Obama to his slain brother, John F. Kennedy, the senator shouted: "This November, the torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans. . . . Our country will be committed to his cause. The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on."

Eight months into the Obama administration, as we mourn the senator from Massachusetts, many of us retain the hope, but we are wondering what happened to the audacity that is needed to move the country in a new direction. In recent weeks, many progressives have expressed concern that Obama's bold plan to reform health care may be at risk. A defeat on this key issue could undermine other elements of his agenda. We don't believe that the president has changed his goals, but we wonder whether he underestimated the power necessary to bring about real change.

Aetna CEO Ronald Williams earned $24,300,000 in 2008, with more than half of that ($13,537,365) coming from option awards. He also received an additional $6,456,630 in stock awards to go along with his base salary of $1,091,764. Personal use of a corporate aircraft and vehicle, as well as financial planning and 401(k) company matches, added up to another $101,487 for Williams. Needless to say, he opposes the 'public option'.
Wondering what to wear when you attend one of John Yoo's law classes at Berkeley? Here's a suggestion.
Luster is Off Obama's `High Moral Ground' - by Leonard Pitts

Back in April, the U.S. government snatched Raymond Azar out of Afghanistan.

His waist, wrists and ankles were shackled, he was stripped naked and photographed, made to wear headphones, blindfolded, hooded and stuffed into an executive jet for the U.S. Azar says his eyeglasses were taken and he was left in an ice cold room, denied food for 30 hours and told he might never see his wife and children again.

Keep reading:



Dick Cheney is offended! No shit. He's complaining the White House is "politicizing the Justice Department", because AG Holder is looking into the torture of "enemy combatants" at Gitmo and black sites around the world.

You know, not that any government agencies were politicized during the Bush administration. Not that the CIA was tasked to gin up evidence of Saddam's "WMD program" as an excuse to invade Iraq. Not that FEMA was led by a horse lover and political hack who knew nothing about emergency management and allowed New Orleans to drown. Not to mention our emails and correspondence - and who knows what else - collected and scanned for 'subversive activity'. Not that a whole buncha U.S. attorneys were fired because they wouldn't falsely prosecute Democrats and look the other way when it came to Republican irregularities. Not to mention the manipulation of the color-coded terrorist threat status system when it suited.

You see, this is an opening that could send Cheney to jail. Now, being the cynic that I am, I don't expect more than a few low-level operators to eventually stand trial. I don't expect to see Yoo, Addington, or anyone else from the former administration to go to jail, let alone Cheney. Holder is using Yoo's memos as the legal yardstick to begin with, as opposed to the Geneva Conventions and settled U.S. law. The fact Cheney is so worried makes me happy but the only way they'll get him is if someone turns. Hopefully, the investigation will put enough pressure on Yoo, or another puppet, to give up his masters.
Update: DEMOCRAT Diane Feinstein, who loved illegal spying and Michael Mukasey, doesn't like the torture investigation either.
No wonder 57% would vote to reboot Congress.
Why we are so screwed
According to Paul Krugman, it is a combination of two factors. First, the GOP has gone from rational moderation completely into batshit-crazy mode. Second, the corporate lobbyists give so much cash out on Capitol Hill that they have, in essence, purchased enough to the Congress to stifle any real reform.
[S]urveying current politics, I find myself missing Richard Nixon.

No, I haven't lost my mind. Nixon was surely the worst person other than Dick Cheney ever to control the executive branch.

But the Nixon era was a time in which leading figures in both parties were capable of speaking rationally about policy, and in which policy decisions weren't as warped by corporate cash as they are now. America is a better country in many ways than it was 35 years ago, but our political system's ability to deal with real problems has been degraded to such an extent that I sometimes wonder whether the country is still governable.
I think he may be correct. And it is not going to change anytime soon, since not only is the Congress in thrall to corporations and cash-flush interest and astroturf groups funded by them.

In recent years, the Supreme Court has aligned itself, time after time, with the rich and the powerful to the detriment of the poor and the workers. Any attempt to rein in the effect of corporate cash on the political process would fail at the Supreme Court.

But let's get to the most corrosive idea that has corrupted the political process: The legal fiction that corporations are natural persons. They are not. You cannot beat the shit out of a corporation. A corporation cannot be imprisoned. Corporations feel no pain, they have no emotions, no instinct. Corporations may be considered to be artificial persons for the purposes of contracts, regulations and criminal law. Corporations should have some limited rights of free speech; the concept of commercial speech is fairly well settled.

But the idea that corporations have the full First Amendment rights of citizens does little more than enable corruption. You need only look at the current health-care debate to see senators from marginally productive states falling in line to defend the health insurance companies. Those senators are from states with high levels of poor and working poor people who would stand the most to benefit from a national health care system with a robust public option, yet those senators are more than willing to put their boots in the backs of their constituents and stand on their prostrate bodies in order to accept larger and larger bribes campaign contributions from the health insurance industry's lobbyists.

One of the things that keeps workers tied to bad jobs is health insurance. People will stay in a job that does not suit them and accept masses of abuse from their superiors because they have health insurance. And that last point, Dear Reader, will be the subject of another post.
On a level of stupid that I cannot possibly begin to grasp because I don't do fractal formula calculations in nuclear deciphre-code from other outer planets yet to be discovered,
2 people completely over rode their own basic basest instinct to GET THE F**K OUTTA HERE and chose, CHOSE MIND YOU, to attempt to ride out a California wildfire by hiding out in their back yard hot tub. 

YES, the incident involved air vacs and rescue workers, 3rd degree owies and critical conditions, and will likely soon be made into an action adventure comic book or some such utter incomprehensible nonsense, SOME fool will get a hold of it.......(you know how California is.....)

Can ya just imagine being a parent, or some other family member of these people? I'd be begging anyone for witness protection embarrassment relocation programs to ANYFRIGGINWHERE, really, ANYWHERE!

The story's here, and requires the ability to completely suspend your studpiometer in order to read through it. You KNOW some form of the alcohol ho had to have been involved in this sun sized turd of a decision/choice. 

How the hell are they going to bankrupt the country and turn us into socialists and fulfill the dire warnings of the wingnuts if bailout money is repaid and the federal treasury realizes a profit? So far the American taxpayers have realized a profit of about $4 billion, or approximately 15% APR.  Remember when people weren't insane and would kiss the ground and be grateful for a safe, solid 15% return?
A USA TODAY analysis finds two dozen hospitals near popular travel destinations, as compiled by the National Travel Monitor, have death rates among the worst in the USA. A separate analysis shows that one of every four hospitals with high death rates for heart attack, heart failure or pneumonia - 94 of 402 - are near state parks.
The United States spends about twice as much on healthcare as any other developed nation in the world and in return receives just about the worst care.  Can someone remind me again why there's even a debate about whether we should put up with this?  

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