Saturday, July 31, 2010

Headlines - Saturday July 31

Froomkin: Four More Years (or More)... of War
Yes, Virginia, the U.S. used WMDs in Fallujah

White Phosphorus, 'willy pete', 'sort of legal' napalm or napalm substitute, if you will... yeah we talked about it here on the blog back in '04 when word got out that the US used it on the citizens of Fallujah in retaliation for the brutal murders of a couple of mercenaries who we later found out were terrorizing the Fallujans in the first place. But the US retaliated against Fallujah as if the whole city had conspired to blow up the World Trade Center for god's sake.

Yeah, we were called conspiracy theorists and Iraqi sympathizers even though I thought the US mission was to liberate them, not hate them... but whatever....

So here we are years later. If god forbid you mention the Fallujah debacle to anyone, they think you're an evil socialist progressive who is hell bent on destroying America (well yes, but only the evil parts) ... but now the studies are published and indeed, we (the US) fucked them over good.

God bless us.

Read this.
USA-WMD: America's Covert Hiroshima in Iraq
And now for something completely different:
Levi Johnston may have fathered another baby, is probably angling for WH Budget Director job
OMB. You know me.

The fate of our democracy hinges on the life of a single man: Levi Johnston. AND IT IS FOR THIS REASON that we follow him closely. There may be other issues that are more interesting to cover, but we have a duty to blog about Levi Johnston and the sex he may or may not be having, even though it is boring. And thus, we must tell you that Levi Johnston is "one of three possible fathers" of the baby that now resides in his ex-girlfriend Lanesia Garcia. The stock markets are fluctuating wildly on word of this important news. MORE »

Dear Santa,

I'd like a seven-figure book deal in which I get to plagiarize my "favorite" authors.


Wisco: Republicans are filibustering our future.


The anti-gay Christian group Focus On The Family, which has laid off hundreds of employees in recent years, is about to go through another round of cutbacks. According to the Colorado Gazette, another 100 bigots get their pink slips today.

"We are still working out the details of fitting our FY '11 budget to the figure our board of directors established," Schneeberger wrote. "As soon as those decisions are final — we're aiming for next week — we'll share them with our ministry family first and then with our constituents and friends in the media." In recent years, Focus has struggled to meet its budget. Even though the organization cut its budget from $160 million in fiscal 2008 to $138 million in fiscal 2009, it still suffered a $6 million shortfall. Schneeberger said last September that the deficit was largely due to the loss of donations from small- to medium-sized businesses. Donations from families has remained steady, he said.

As of yesterday, FOTF had about 850 employees.


Worst persons

Time Magazine for this:

The BP Spill: Has the Damage Been Exaggerated?

200 million gallons of oil. People and animals are bleeding from the anus due to the dispersants. Exaggeration?

Remember back before the oil made landfall and everyone was wondering what happened to all of the oil? Correspondents were flown home. News coverage receded. And then they found the oil. Everywhere.


Score one for the Obama administration; zero for Republicans, Tea Baggers, and FOX News. A newly released study by two esteemed economists (yes, I know that's an oxymoron) shows that Obama's fiscal policies did indeed pull the country back from the brink of a depression brought about by Bush-Cheney mismanagement.


Oxymorons for Our Time #50
Clean Coal


A two-drink minimum

When the pope visits Britain in September, tickets will be sold to papal events for the first time. The church is blaming health and safety regs for the extra costs. 70,000 tickets are available at up to £25 each for the beatification of John Henry Newman – that's a lot of beatifying! – and 130,000 for a prayer vigil at Hyde Park (where the religious nutters usually just pass around a hat).

As ever, if a priest offers you a ticket for a free "ride," run away very quickly.



It was not exactly a surprise to learn that BP believes thinks it is entitled to a $9.9 billion tax benefit, including refunds on taxes paid in previous years, to pay for the cost of cleaning up its own oil spill.

That's right: despite earning $80 billion over the past four years, despite saying that it will pay for the expense of recovery in the Gulf, BP now wants a $10 billion bailout from taxpayers.

Makes you want to scream out loud, eh? Of all companies in the world that do not deserve a bailout, BP might just be the leading example. (Though, to be fair, Goldman does give it stiff competition.)

It's a horrible idea, and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) agrees. Today he announced plans to block the taxpayer bailout of BP, promising to introduce legislation that would block BP taking advantage of the deduction and any associated tax credits or refunds.

Aside from being the right thing, Engel's idea is political gold: imagine the difficult position it would put Republicans in. Do they support Democratic efforts to make sure BP doesn't profit from its oil spill, or do they believe in bailouts for BP? If Joe Barton's apology is any guide, the results could be a political disaster for the GOP...and another big win for Democrats.


I want to see Hailey Barbour, Rush Limbaugh, and Bobby Jindal eat Gulf Coast seafood.
Scientists have found signs of an oil-and-dispersant mix under the shells of tiny blue crab larvae in the Gulf of Mexico, the first clear indication that the unprecedented use of dispersants in the BP oil spill has broken up the oil into toxic droplets so tiny that they can easily enter the foodchain.

Headlong into obscurity
We're on our way. Greenwald via Mimus:


Second, as was painfully predictable and predicted, the bulk of political discussion in the wake of the WikiLeaks disclosures focuses not on our failing, sagging, pointless, civilian-massacring, soon-to-be-decade-old war, but rather on the Treasonous Evil of WikiLeaks for informing the American people about what their war entails. While it's true that WikiLeaks should have been much more careful in redacting the names of Afghan sources, watching Endless War Supporters prance around with righteous concern for Afghan lives being endangered by the leak is really too absurd to bear. You know what endangers innocent Afghan lives? Ten years of bombings, checkpoint shootings, due-process-free hit squads, air attacks, drones, night raids on homes, etc. etc.

As we, and many of our commenters, have said here on many occasions, we are heading the way of the Roman Empire.
Afghanistan Is Our Welfare State
One of the less glamorous aspects of the release by Wikileaks of oodles of secret documents related to the sad circle jerk that is the Afghanistan war is the clear demonstration that the actual day-to-day existence of Afghans is dependent on the occupiers (or, you know, mostly us). Sure, it's important to talk about the other revelations (or confirmations): the collusion between Pakistani intelligence and the Taliban, the ill-equipped troops in battle, and the bullshit Afghan forces that have the discipline of a pack of brain-damaged cats. But, as Evan Hill writes for Al-Jazeera, the mundane and quotidian aspects of Afghan existence demonstrate a level of dependency on NATO and the United States that'd make an opium dealer jealous.

The NATO provincial reconstruction teams (PRT) essentially decide who has power and who does not, who gets paid with reconstruction cash and who goes home empty-handed, and you can bet that every one of those decisions simply leads to the inevitable creation of more enemies that need to be fought.
Cut to the chase:

What you get from these less sexy documents is a portrait of soldiers and officials attempting to transform a country into something it is not. It's impossible. And what Wikileaks has forced us to see is that it's madness to continue.
John Cole: Perhaps my give-a-shitter is irreparably damaged, but I can't manage much enthusiasm for a petition drive to put NPR in Helen Thomas' old seat in the White House briefing room. As far as I'm concerned, they can put a well-trained circus dog, a wax replica of the corpse of Chester A. Arthur, or a small bag of human feces in that chair, and it would make as much difference as putting NPR there. Why pick a battle that draws attention to one of the most self-important institutions in Washington?
Dick Cheney must wonder why he never thought of this one:  
In Russia, the cops can now arrest people and throw them in jail if they think that they might commit a crime.

(Not that the SOB gave a frak about the rule of law in the first place.)
Why can't the Dims have more Weiners? More of this please.
Portland DA says Al Gore is not a sex monster

Still don't like getting stuck with him on Chat Roulette.

It's probably not very much fun to split up with your wife of 75 years and then have the Huffington Post say you've been cheating with Larry David's wife and then have some masseuse in Oregon claim, to the National Enquirer, that you tried to practice your love on her three years ago when she showed up to give you a hotel massage, for global warming. The world is still melting and Tipper is still boycotting her Prince records alone these days, but at least the Criminal Sex Monster allegations can be put to rest. Al Gore is free to continue fixing the climate and fuming about losing the presidency in 2000 after winning the election and then getting sucker-punched by the Supreme Court.

Portland's district attorney says Gore won't be charged with anything and the investigation is over & done, because of "contradictory evidence, conflicting witness statements, credibility issues, lack of forensic evidence and denials by Mr. Gore."

We hope Al Gore has recovered from this ordeal and can quickly get back to the Environmental Problems, because it seems like the EARTH IS ONE FIRE, right now. [Guardian/Oregonian]


Sarah Palin shows Obama how to lead by example

The first sentence of 'America by Heart,' verbatim.

When will Barack Obama stop dicking around on his BlackBerry and offer to help Sarah Palin kill all the Mexicans squeezing through our giant pore-border with Mexico? Also, what? [Twitter]


Save the Economy: The Right to Rent.


Considering the Syrians and Saudis are to blame for 35 years of Lebanese violence, this is rich. "The Syrian and Saudi leaders have called on Lebanon's rival factions to avoid turning to violence amid mounting political tensions in the country. The call came after unprecedented talks in Beirut between Saudi King Abdullah, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Lebanese President Michel Suleiman. They urged Lebanese to resolve issues through "legal institutions". The trip marks progress in relations between Saudi Arabia and Syria - two of the region's most influential powers. Lebanon and Syria only exchanged embassies for the first time last year, and entente between them is seen as crucial to stability in Lebanon. "The leaders stressed the importance of stability... the commitment (of the Lebanese) not to resort to violence and the need to place the country's interests above all sectarian interests," said a statement issued by the Lebanese presidency after talks between the three leaders."


Stopping the leak is the beginning, not the end, of the cleanup, you miserable fucking criminal. How about we freeze all your assets, confiscate all your equipment and throw all your executives into federal prison until ... until the oyster beds you fuckers destroyed are back to full production. "Incoming BP chief executive Bob Dudley has said it is time to scale back some parts of the oil spill clean-up in the Gulf of Mexico. Virtually no oil has been released into the Gulf since a new cap was closed on 15 July. And skimming crews have reported only tiny quantities of oil out at sea. But Mr Dudley insisted BP's commitment to tackling the environmental damage would continue, saying: "We'll be here for years." "You will see the evidence of a pullback because we have booms across the shores all the way from Florida to Louisiana. Those only last for a certain number of tide cycles," Mr Dudley told reporters in Biloxi, Mississippi. "And where there is no oil on the beaches you probably don't need people walking up and down in Hazmat suits. So you'll probably see that kind of a pullback. But commitment, absolutely no pullback." "


Circulate This Graph Everywhere

The Wall Street Journal compares the 2011 income tax burden with and without the Bush tax cuts.


It turns out that allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire will only hurt people earning more than $300,000 per year. And it appears as if keeping the Bush tax cuts in place would force people earning $60-150,000 to pay slightly more.

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