1. Link to the person who tagged you. 2. Post the rules on your blog. 3. Write six random things about yourself. 4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them. 5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog. 6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.
6 random things... hmmm, OK: 1) I have arachnophobia. The bigger they are the more I hate 'em, but small ones freak me out too. (Don't bother trying to educate me on this, it's a phobia.) 2) I'm a crappy guitarist but it doesn't stop me from playing for my own amusement. (I don't hardly ever inflict myself on others.) 3) I spent 20 years running sound in live venues and yet these days I hate being in the audience, especially assigned seating. (As I've aged I've become more anti-social. Now get off my lawn!) 4) I love my current career but if I had my druthers I'd be living on board a sailboat in constantly changing warm, sunny climes. 5) I miss L.A. a lot more now that I'm not living there than when I did. 6) I shan't tag 6 other bloggers, 2 is the max for me.
Time's up, I've put my #2 pencil down and I hope I passed the audition.
There was mounting evidence that a Kashmiri-based Pakistani militant group, most likely Lashkar-e-Taiba, was responsible for the deadly attacks in Mumbai, according to The New York Times website report.
India is in something of a state of shock after learning from official sources that its first Hindu terror cell may have carried out a series of deadly bombings that were initially blamed on militant Muslims. The revelation is forcing the country to consider some difficult questions.
The holiday shopping season got off to a surprisingly solid start, according to data released Saturday by a research firm. But the sales boost during the post-Thanksgiving shopathon came at the expense of profits as the nation's retailers had to slash prices to attract the crowds in a season that is expected to be the weakest in decades.
While the New York Police Department had erected the barriers to protect what they expected to be burgeoning crowds of shoppers yesterday from spilling onto the road, few of the bargain hunters turned up. Traditionally yesterday – known as Black Friday – is the busiest shopping day in the American calendar when stores kick off the postThanksgiving sales. Last year, about $20 billion was spent in American stores on that day alone. This time, only the discount stores appear to have flourished.
Former New York City Detective Anderson Alexander was sitting in it in Brooklyn's 73rd Precinct on Jan. 1, 2002, when his partner handed him his gun so the partner could interview a suspect. Alexander leaned back to put the gun in his waistband, but the back of the chair gave way, his finger slipped and the 9-mm. Smith & Wesson fired a bullet into his left knee. [...] "This case is not about him shooting himself," Alexander's lawyer Matthew Maiorana told the Daily News. "This case is about a broken chair and an unsafe workplace. [...] Alexander, 49, who retired on a three-quarters-pay disability pension, moved to South Carolina, where he works as a sheriff's deputy. He declined comment. [...] Alexander made more than $90,000 a year before he retired, including overtime.
Safety off and a chambered round is a recipe for disaster!
Brookyln cops can make $90k a year!?
$4.5 MILLION for being an unsafe idiot!!!
A disability so bad he gets 3/4 pension ... but well enough to join another police force!!!!
What professional stuffs a gun in his waistband while sitting at his desk when he could just put it in a drawer? He shouldn't get squat, except maybe a Darwin Award. **************** The Cane Mutiny!
A lawmaker is upset with his state's Department of Homeland Security for its lack of credit to a "higher power" for its work in protecting the state's citizens.
Kentucky State Rep. Tom Riner, a Southern Baptist minister who helped establish a requirement that the federally funded agency credit God with keeping the state safe, is upset that under Gov. Steve Beshear, the department's 2008 annual report did not do so. [...] Among the requirements of the 2006 anti-terror law is that a plaque be placed in the department's Emergency Operations Center. Part of the statement on the plaque reads: "The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God."
Yeeeees, because god has worked so well in protecting people, excluding his son of course.
Dude, your 'kingdom' is in heaven, I suggest that Rep Riner (R-U stupid) pray in one hand and defecate in the other. See which one is full of the lord's loving bounty first. Oh, and read the Constitution, 1st amendment. **************** Your DHS at work AKA FearFactor:
A passenger focus group conducted for TSA by New York City business consulting firm Blue Lime found that "unquestioning compliance has diminished." Passengers say they are more afraid of missing their flight than they are of an airplane being attacked, the 73-page Blue Lime report found.
In a 97-second video, Washington National Airport screener Stephanie Naar gently explains that homemade bombs "are the No. 1 threat to aircraft, and we know terrorists have concealed these items in shoes."
So they use our tax dollars to say "homemade bombs "are the No. 1 threat to aircraft."
Richard Sanders, a justice on the Washington State Supreme Court, has never been one to shy from controversy or blunt language. And last week, as he sat at a Federalist Society dinner and listened to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, Sanders reached his tipping point.
After listening to Mukasey defend the Bush administration's counterterrorism policies — its detainment practices at Guantánamo Bay, its interpretation of the Geneva Conventions' reach — Sanders stood and shouted "Tyrant! You are a tyrant!" [...] In his speech, Mukasey said that almost every article in the treaty is "plainly addressed to armed conflicts among the nations that signed the Conventions. It is hardly surprising that the United States concluded that those provisions would not apply to the armed conflict against al-Qaida, an international terrorist group and not, the last time I checked, a signatory to the Conventions."
Sanders, on Tuesday, said that being a signatory was beside the point. "I didn't sign the Geneva Conventions, you didn't sign the Geneva Conventions, but the United States did sign the Conventions. And that's the point, isn't it?"
He also took umbrage at the Bush administration's detention policies at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, saying: "I think it's a disgrace to hold people without charge, without trial, to hold them incommunicado."
* These stories aren't all from Fark, but they could be!
REVEALED: Ann Coulter's New Book Titled Guilty, Will Assail Liberal Media
…I'm shocked that MAnn Coulter would find any reason to criticize liberals after all the fair, even-handed, pensive, remarkable unbiased and accurate readings of the political situation…oh, my…even I can't keep going with this B.S of attributing actual human traits to the shrieking banshee from hell…sorry… I tried…ha ha ha ha ha! I just can't do it, Captain! There just doesn't be enough BS in the entire universe to descr-r-r-ibe this shrill harpy.
And for me, dammit, Jim, I'm a doctor, not a miracle worker!
Report: Hannity To Be Solo Host Following Colmes Departure
…uh… if I wanted anyone to take me seriously I would NEVER work with InSannity either.
Lies followed by vileness followed by awful analysis followed by more viciousness followed by bigotry followed by racism followed by an utter lack of empathy followed by InSannity's claims to be obviously superior because he's "conservative."
Thanks, I can skip it, as this single program alone was already so bad that Fixed News has been blocked on my cable box for years and will remain blocked.
Wouldn't want to even accidentally or unintentionally insult any guests or family, you know.
Witnesses said the surging throngs of shoppers knocked the man down. He fell and was stepped on. As he gasped for air, shoppers ran over and around him.
What drives people to want to shop like that? What makes someone so focused on getting a bargain or a thing, that they don't even notice that a human being is dying beneath their feet? Not only that, while the paramedics were working the dead guy and before they closed the store, shoppers continued to stream into the place with only a few of them even stopping to notice!
Are we really that sick of a society? And if we are, why are we? I'm not going to point the finger at capitalism, because it can't only be that. But why do these things happen? Is it the media that tries to stir this nonsense up in the public? Is it peer pressure? I can't figure it out. I've NEVER in my entire life felt that strong of an urge to shop so I can't even put my head in that place to try to understand it.
For the record: Liberals love America. In fact, what makes us liberals is that we actually read and believed all those pretty words in the Declaration of Independence about "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," and in the Bill of Rights about freedom of speech, religion, assembly, privacy, and all the rest of it. [...] 4. Liberals hate our troops. We love our troops. We love them so much that we want them brought home safe and sound to their families, as soon as possible. [...] 5. Liberals are a bunch of elitists who hate decent working- and middle-class Americans.
...as opposed to those sainted corporate men-of-the-people who fly around in private jets and pull down eight-figure salaries while closing plants and cutting 10,000 jobs at a time. That's what real populism looks like, you betcha.
Liberals are funny people. We think that sending well-paid American jobs overseas is a bad idea. We think the minimum wage should be big enough to cover life's necessities, with some left over. We think it's insane that over half the bankruptcies in the country are due to lack of adequate medical insurance.
The whole post is great, I urge you to read it all.
And, lastly for today, a few reasons I have to be thankful…
posted by Bill Arnett @ 3:02 PM Permalink
…for which in itself I am grateful and give thanks for finally finding lots more reasons to be thankful.
I am thankful that my Milagros (Mila for short, the full translation of her name is "miracle") my "Warrior Woman" (4'11", 105 lbs soaking wet), she with the heart of a Valkyrie, the courage of a lion, the spirit of a wild eagle, and the will to still be together 35 years after we met and swore our love and fealty to one another. She's perfect, I am madly in love with her still and always will be. Her only flaw, I'm told, is that she tolerates me. But that's ok, she couldn't beat me away with a stick (and I have the scars to prove it!).
I am thankful that my son of the razor-sharp wit will soon get his college degree, a first for our family as I chose the military out of high school. I am further thankful for the wonderful woman he has met who is a perfect match for him in every way, and I hope for them the longevity together that Mila and I have had.
I am grateful for my little doggies, my constant companions and source of surprise, pleasure, and laughter (I am disabled and basically homebound): Xanatos (pictured with my comments holding his favorite tug toy), who's daddy dog, Matilda, momma dog, and the little ones Bronx, Jade, and Demona.
And I am particularly grateful that, for coming up on two-years now, I have been given the privilege to write with The Vidiot, Mr. Vidiot, and especially my friend, Sailor, who convinced The and Mr. Vidiot to allow me to post the random flotsam and jetsam of thoughts from my jumbled up mind here on their site. Never have any of these wonderful people placed any restrictions on the topics, people, or events of whom or which I choose to write. Never have they had a critical word for my writings or expressed discomfort when I sometimes, in a morphine haze, go totally off the grid into Never Never Land. Their kindness has been remarkable, so I therefore choose to remark upon it and give thanks for it.
So to everyone mentioned or not, real or imagined, known to be unknown, or unknown that you are known, I know only this:
I thank each and everyone of you from the bottom of my heart. I wish you nothing but fair, favorable winds, happy sailing and all the joys among the trials and tribulations of regular old life. Each and everyone of you are unique, exceptional people first, excellent writers (ceptin' the dawgs, they just can't get a handle on typing), patient beyond belief, and I hope you have a glorious and profoundly moving Thanksgiving.
President-elect Barack Obama is receiving heaps of good tidings from both sides of the aisle during this Thanksgiving season as he puts together his administration. But at least one office is not giving him a free pass.
With each day’s announcement of another cabinet or White House appointment, the Republican National Committee has been blitzing out critical statements that look no different from the blasts issued throughout the campaign. Mr. Obama’s selections so far, the Republican committee says, have been tax-raising, partisan Washington insiders, hardly the agents of change he promised.
The aggressive approach contrasts with the tone so far from Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill, who are greeting the incoming administration with what has ranged from wait-and-see politeness to an almost warm embrace. Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader from Kentucky, for example, offered praise for Mr. Obama’s initial decisions last week and signaled that he was relieved to be done with President Bush.
Mitch must be tired of being the whipping boy for bush.
“I think the new administration is off to a good start,” Mr. McConnell told reporters. […]
“Our members, in one way,” Mr. McConnell said, “are kind of relieved by the departure of an administration that became unpopular and made it very difficult for us to compete.”
But if Mr. McConnell considers this a good start, the memo did not reach the Republican committee headquarters. Here is how the party has characterized various selections made by Mr. Obama:
[And you just gotta know that these will be cogent, thoughtful statements showing reason, good sense, and a modicum of respect for the president elect, right? Bill]
¶On Representative Rahm Emanuel as White House chief of staff: “Barack Obama’s first decision as president-elect undermines his promise to ‘heal the divides.’ Rahm Emanuel is a partisan insider who played a lead role in breaking Washington.”
¶On David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s campaign strategist, as White House senior adviser: “For a president-elect who promised to change the tone in Washington, it’s disappointing that he is filling his White House with partisan bomb-throwers. When people think of ‘change,’ they don’t think of political consultants like David Axelrod.”
¶On Tom Daschle, the former Democratic majority leader in the Senate, as secretary of health and human services: “For voters hoping to see new faces and fewer lobbyist-connections in government, Daschle’s nomination will be another disappointment. Obama promised to change America’s health care system, but his nominee to be secretary is no change agent.”
¶On Eric H. Holder Jr., the former deputy attorney general, as attorney general: “Instead of bringing the bipartisan ‘change’ to Washington that he promised voters, Barack Obama is rewarding yet another one of his political loyalists in Eric Holder. The only person who thinks Eric Holder represents ‘hope’ is Marc Rich,” the convicted financier pardoned by President Bill Clinton with Mr. Holder’s acquiescence.[…]
It is not entirely surprising, of course, that a party organization would remain in feisty campaign mode even after the election while legislators in Congress would take a more accommodating tone. Republican lawmakers now have an incentive to work with Mr. Obama, at least for a while, particularly since Republicans lost enough seats to make it harder to exert influence. But the Republican party apparatus has an incentive to keep the heat on Mr. Obama and show donors and activists that it will not crumble despite the tough losses in this month’s elections.
So with a trembling lip, tears in their eyes, a knot of emotion in their hearts, and that warm, fuzzy way down deep feeling, the rnc (they no longer rate capital letters), "…has an incentive to keep the heat on Mr. Obama and show donors and activists that it will not crumble despite the tough losses in this month’s elections."
I think they are referring to this month's totally ignominious, humiliating, crushing, total repudiation of their party and its tenets in the absolute rout of this month's @sswhuppin…uh…elections.
I'm just too giddy from this news to actually read the article to learn how long we will be blessed by the absence of that screech owl, so-called pundit.
(And for those who have never heard a screech owl let me assure you that the sound is almost as skin-crawlingly, ear-shattering, heart-palpitatingly horrible as that unnamed fear, that terror striking fear into the hearts of all in nightmares, and just slightly less terrifying than listening to Mann Coulter, or He with the Biggest Adam's Apple Know to Man.)
Peggy Noonan: Media "Mischief": Making Palin Face Of The GOP
Got some news for Peggy. REPUBLICANS made Sarah Palin the face of the GOP, and through her ineptitude, arrogance and discernible, non-thinking, unbelievably crass obliviousness to the world around her or anything beyond the view of her eyeballs (and in some cases even then), and her ignorance of world affairs, leaders, concerns, or anything at all important going on she has proven that she is entirely capable of running the GOP, whose hallmark is incompetence, inability to govern, and bankrupting the richest nation on earth.
Seems to me Sarah is your perfect leader and she should be the face of your party for at least the next fifty years. (Wouldn't that make a helluva ancient Chinese curse? My Sarah Palin be your guide and leader for the next fifty years.)
Pair Bringing Obama Citizenship Challenge To Supreme Court
Just how big of an idiot does it take to NOT KNOW that any person born in America, or born to parents of whom one is an American citizen ARE themselves citizens?
This is nothing more than another "stupid republican pet trick" trying to get Obama disqualified to be president.
If they succeeded, what would they do when they find out that unlike Obama, John McCain was born in Panama to American parents, which still gives Obama, a natural-born citizen's right to be elected President.
Terrorist-smerrorist it's still the same old bull…
posted by Bill Arnett @ 3:02 PM Permalink
…especially when the terrorists use archaic, old time methods of attack such as those today. Despite the lack of sophistication Al-Qaeda is breathlessly mentioned as a possible source of the attack, just because there were multiple locations attacked (a trademark of Al-Qaeda, donchaknow, registered at the U.S. Patent Office under, "Terrorist, Middle and Far East, Tactics, and Advertising").
Of course part of the reason Al-Qaeda is being blamed is that bush is having a conniption fit that the terrists haven't "tested" Obama yet (Obama did pass the written exam, but still has to go before the Al-Qaeda Orals Board).
In the mean time the press is breathlessly praying that these coordinated attacks in Mumbai, India, are Al-Qaeda attacks despite the fact that India and Pakistan have been engaged in a low grade war for years now over their mutual border state of Kashmir. But that story wouldn't play in the meme that in view of Al-Qaeda style attacks in India, the rumors being spread by the bush maladministration and New York Authorities that our subways and infrastructure in New York must be be true and place us in dire strait indeed.
After all, we haven't had a good "terror alert" in America since before the 2006 elections (and those were so shamefully touted as to cause the resignation of that guy who put out the alerts at bush's request. It just became too embarrassing.
Oh, c'mon! Everyone should be calling BS on this crap! A ragtag bunch of wanna-be terrorists purchase probably the most prolific and cheapest weapon in the world, the AK-47, attack in multiple areas simultaneously, killing fewer that 100 people and wounding a few dozen more, and suddenly the nation of India is under siege from Al-Qaeda?
My goodness, several troops of Boy Scouts equipped with Winchester Model 94 rifles (the rifle that has killed more deer than any other in history, for real) in several crowded areas of San Francisco, Oakland (although to be fair no one would probably notice in Oakland), Los Angeles, or any other place where many congregate could inflict an equal amount of damage and body counts, with or without the leadership of their Al-Qaeda Scoutmasters.
This is nothing more than a pathetic attempt to keep the poor economical headlines off the front pages. And if India, with one of the largest populations in the world can't field a sufficient law enforcement force to handle this attack, it's time to just nuke 'em all.
I THINK that I shall never see A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day, And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain; Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me, But only God can make a tree.
Followed by today's paraphrasing:
I THINK that I shall never see An economy as mighty as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest Against sweet earth to feed the poor with all the rest;
A tree that looks out for the Poor all day, While lifting her arms to Shade and pray;
A tree that may in summer care, To spread it's bounty everywhere.
Upon whose bosom snow has lain, While heating the poor, relieving their pain,
Poems are paraphrased by fools like me, But only men can build a good economy.
Which I guess is my way of saying it is beyond insane to attempt to build a good economy from the top down. Trees do not begin life through leaves floating around above ground that somehow manages to extend roots to the ground. No such tree could or would survive.
Without roots, any tree would quickly die from the lack of earth's nutrients required to sustain the growth of the tree as a whole, failure of the organism would logically follow.
By putting down roots first and then, through the miracle of osmosis in combination with the wonder of chloryphyll, the nutrients drawn from the soil are converted to the sugars and other elements necessary for the tree to grow, and construct an every larger ecosystem.
But this is obviously a "bottom-going up scheme" of nature that man has seemingly either forgotten, or believes in his arrogance that this system, having survived for millions upon millions upon millions of years, can be avoided by, in effect, constructing a tree from the top down, ignoring the fact that a tree must put down a root system to provide nutrients that is at least as large as the tree's canopy, and that wicks the nutrients up from the ground for conversion to growth by this combination of nutrients and the conversion of those nutrients through the miracle of chemical reaction with chlorophyll.
Without the support and provision of nutrients and water from the root system below, the expansion of that root system in tandem with the canopy growth, and that canopy reaching every upward for the sunshine to react with the chlorophyl, the tree will wilt, rot, and die.
This is exactly what is wrong with our economy. Under bush and cronies the only part of the "financial tree" tended to was the canopy, the very top of the tree.
Forgotten was the root system that must flourish, the people, if you will, that must be provided with the good-paying jobs to provide a solid structure of growth. The root system providing the valuable nutrients crucial for growth.
Forgotten was the remembrance that without that infrastructure being reinforced by those roots the strongest of tree trunks would eventually, perforce, collapse of its own weight. Lost sight of was the fact that without these nutrients from a strong economic base, the "root system", that there would never be sufficient nutrients going up the trunk of the economy to provide for conversion to the needs of society from the canopy, which should cover all of us, that the canopy itself, deprived of the work, efforts, and lacking movement of ground-based nutrients up the trunk of the economy to the top was doomed to fail for the very same reasons that a tree cannot be grown from the sky downward.
Why don't all these hot-shot financial experts see the obvious: if the government were giving $8 trillion to the poor, underworked, and unemployed that all the best things would happen, just like after WWII. By providing money for college to all veterans America built the world's strongest (formerly) economy with education, union jobs where a perosn's family could work for generations, and with the strongest industrial base the world has ever seen.
And what did the people do with their new found wealth? SPENT IT, spent it right on up the line, buying food so food producers had to increase their orders and efficiencies, the shipping companies getting those goods to market were forced to grow to handle the workload gain, they in turn ordered ever larger and more efficient methods of getting product moved, which led to innovations and efficiencies such as never before seen, and at the very tip-top of the canopy, with the sunshine of a progressive nations growing with the workforce down below in the root system, led to the healthiest and strongest economic "tree" ever seen by man of nature.
But then the canopy was a benevolent thing, converting nutrients that benefitted all and distributing them up and down the trunk and back to the root system by making available the capital (nutrients) to the soil and root structure, in a symbiotic relation which supported the trunk, which in turn enabled the canopy to benefit the entire economic tree as a whole.
We now believe, or at least our "leaders" believe, they are capable of ignoring or somehow overcoming the history and natural order of nature, that we can defy and ignore reality, and that by keeping the canopy alone afloat it will somehow act in opposition of the ways of nature and lead to prosperity for all.
I call BS on this.
But that's just my opinion, and I could be wrong.
This is the end of today's Poetry Corner. Thank you for reading it (if you did), and may the forces of nature save us all (I am an atheist so I ask for no prayers, benedictions, sermons, blessings, or appeals to a nonexistent "Higher power." Nature and the natural world have provided all our bounty and it is to those forces we owe our thanks.)
posted by The Vidiot @ 7:45 AM Permalink
One would like to think that the Constitution of the United States of America is honored by those elected to uphold it. However, this being reality, such is not the case.
No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.
Essentially, you cannot take a job if the salary was increased during your current congressional term. And the salary for cabinet officials has gone up in the past year. Even if it is lowered back down, constitutional scholars say that may not be enough to fix the problem.
To test whether this campaign season saw a change in coverage of the subject, we conducted a study that measured the prevalence of poverty in political media from 2003 through 2008. The findings are in: print media coverage of poverty in political news stories increased in the run-up to the election. Comparing 2003 to 2005, coverage increased, and it also increased between the presidential election years of 2004 and 2008.
How much you wanna' bet that the articles surveyed treated poverty like a disease that must be dealt with rather than a symptom of a much larger problem that will never be addressed.
posted by The Vidiot @ 11:17 AM Permalink
I'm reading Richard Gott's book, Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution. So, admittedly, I've got the Venezuelan leader on my mind. Yet, somehow, I missed the whole election thing they had going on last Sunday. Go figure.
If I had to guess, I'd say the media was mostly silent about it because they knew how it was going to turn out and they didn't want to give any of us 'citizens' up here any high-falootin' ideas.
The pro-Chavez United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) won 72% of the governorships in the November 23, 2008 elections and 58% of the popular vote, dumbfounding the predictions of most of the pro-capitalist pollsters and the vast majority of the mass media who favored the opposition.
I'll be watching Frontline tonight since it's all about Chavez. He isn't a saint or anything, but he certainly knows how to stick to 'the man.'
posted by The Vidiot @ 8:01 AM Permalink
That money they're printing up and giving to the banks, whenever I hear reference to you it, I hear the words, "It's our money" or something like that.
But it's not "our money" and it has never been "our money." It's THEIR money and always has been. They issue it, they print it, they count it, they tax it, they spend it on wars, they decide who gets most of it, they kill for it, they play with it, they waste it. We did not say, "enslave us." They just enslaved us. We did not say, "starve us." They just starved us. We did not say, "kill those people." They just killed whomever they wanted and did it in our name. We did not say, "destroy our forests." They just plowed them under anyway. We did not say, "Pollute our land and poison our water." They just polluted and poisoned anyway. And they did it all because it is profitable for them. We're just along for the ride. We have no control or say in any of it.
So, do you really consider it "our money" or are you ready to realize that it's not and it never has been?
At the Free Lakota Bank, we issue, circulate and accept for deposit only AOCS-Approved silver and gold currencies. Silver & gold are a store of value, an equivalent of wealth produced. Paper is a mortgage on wealth that does not exist, backed by a gun aimed at those who are expected to produce it. Since we deal only in real money, we do not participate in any central bank looting schemes.
Money is made possible only by those who produce. Paper is not money, instead merely a promise to pay. We hope that some day the rest of the world will awaken from the American Dream: the dream that a person can sustain life by consuming more than producing. We call it the American Dream because you must be asleep to believe it. Well, that dream now has a silver lining; as people discover the dream is really a nightmare, the only solution is a return to value: value that comes from production and honest trade.
The authorities may lawfully conduct searches and electronic surveillance against United States citizens in foreign countries without a warrant, a federal appeals court panel said on Monday, bolstering the government’s power to investigate terrorism by ruling that a key constitutional protection afforded to Americans does not apply overseas.
Because the way the article frames it, it's to surveil those al Qaeda folks. I mean, that's ok, right? They'd never do that to a regular person. But....
What if you're a young student activist here in the US and you go to Germany or France for your junior year abroad. Everything you do while out of the country will be fair game. Every phone call, every email, your snail mail, your home, everything, could be subject to a warrantless search. Sure, it has to be reasonable, but honestly, in a pinch, who couldn't argue that something completely unreasonable is perfectly reasonable.
The more power they have, they less freedom you have. And boy, do they have have power.
"Say, buddy, can ya spare me an extra billion dollars or so?…
posted by Bill Arnett @ 7:16 AM Permalink
…was the question I asked a rather impatient young snot (sorry, I didn't mean to accidently impugn anyone's character, that was deliberate.) on the other end of the phone at the Treasury as I was trying my damnedest to get me some of those federal bailout dollars, seein' as how I'm as close to being underwater as all them there billionaires they're givin' our tax dollars to.
"Well," he asked, "how many and of what nature were the securities you purchased through the bank you own to back the bad loans you made?"
"First of all," I said,"I don't own a bank and I haven't made any bad loans to anyone since I lent that forty dollars to my cousin so he could buy a pot-belly pig. Not a pig with pot in his belly, as we soon found out afterwards to the great discomfort of the pig."
Mr. Snooty then said, "We're not running a charitable organization here, so unless you've squandered several billion dollars on known bad investments I'm afraid I just can't help you."
"Well, except for those fellas running the au-to-mo-bile factories y'all seem exactly like a charity, ceptin' the onliest ones you be givin' that charity to are big-time banker fellas like Mr. Monopoly, who owns all those railroads and thangs," said I.
"Mr. Who?" asked Mr. Snooty, seemingly genuinely confused.
"You know," I told him,"the guy with the fancy tailcoat, round-rimmed glasses, big-@assed mustache, owns all the banks and thangs?"
"Did you aid him in making billions of dollars of loans for bad real estate and those railroads you referred to?"
"Well," I said, "I've gone broke many a time landing on Park Place with four hotels on it, other than that I seem to have done alright. I pay my bills, feed my family, ain't much but I've got some small savings, and I live frugally. But I did lose all the money in the bank to my sisters and my other cousin who were all playin', too, even though I think they was cheatin' like they was playin' with play money."
"So let me get this straight, you ARE a banker who has squandered all his money making bad real estate deals and otherwise mismanaging your bank?"
"I guess you could say that, if ya wanna put it that way."
His demeanor changed right quick, "Well, why didn't you say so immediately? Listen, give me your address and I'll send you a temporary bailout check for $300,000,000 followed up by some REAL money next week. May I have your address? And one last question, sir, you ARE applying for this bailout even though you're not broke, correct?"
I assured him that was the case, since I had a coupla railroads left after the last game (I think it was the Reading and the R&R lines), so I gave him my address and will be steadily waitin' for my check. With a worm on my tongue. (bated breath-h/t Robin Williams)
The Federal Reserve is refusing to identify the recipients of almost $2 trillion of emergency loans from American taxpayers or the troubled assets the central bank is accepting as collateral.
Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said in September they would comply with congressional demands for transparency in a $700 billion bailout of the banking system. [...] ``We need oversight,'' Paulson told lawmakers. ``We need protection. We need transparency. I want it. We all want it.''
[...] Largely outside public view, however, the Federal Reserve is lending far more than that amount -- $893 billion, roughly the equivalent of the annual economic output of Mexico -- to help a wide range of institutions weather the economic storm.
As of last week, the Fed's loans included $507 billion to banks, $50 billion to investment firms, $70 billion for money market mutual funds, and $266 billion to companies that use a form of short-term debt called commercial paper. It is considering a new program that would make billions more available to prop up consumer lending: auto loans, credit cards and the like.
The U.S. government is prepared to provide more than $7.76 trillion on behalf of American taxpayers after guaranteeing $306 billion of Citigroup Inc. debt yesterday. The pledges, amounting to half the value of everything produced in the nation last year, are intended to rescue the financial system after the credit markets seized up 15 months ago.
When Congress approved the TARP on Oct. 3, Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson acknowledged the need for transparency and oversight. Now, as regulators commit far more money while refusing to disclose loan recipients or reveal the collateral they are taking in return, some Congress members are calling for the Fed to be reined in.
“Whether it’s lending or spending, it’s tax dollars that are going out the window and we end up holding collateral we don’t know anything about,” said Congressman Scott Garrett, a New Jersey Republican who serves on the House Financial Services Committee. “The time has come that we consider what sort of limitations we should be placing on the Fed so that authority returns to elected officials as opposed to appointed ones.”
When Countrywide Financial felt pressured by federal agencies charged with overseeing it, executives at the giant mortgage lender simply switched regulators in the spring of 2007.
The benefits were clear: Countrywide's new regulator, the Office of Thrift Supervision, promised more flexible oversight of issues related to the bank's mortgage lending. For OTS, which depends on fees paid by banks it regulates and competes with other regulators to land the largest financial firms, Countrywide was a lucrative catch.
But OTS was not an effective regulator. This year, the government has seized three of the largest institutions regulated by OTS, including IndyMac Bancorp, Washington Mutual -- the largest bank in U.S. history to go bust -- and on Friday evening, Downey Savings and Loan Association. The total assets of the OTS thrifts to fail this year: $355.7 billion. Three others were forced to sell to avoid failure, including Countrywide. [...] Senior executives at Countrywide who participated in the meetings said OTS pitched itself as a more natural, less antagonistic regulator than OCC and that Mozilo preferred that. Government officials outside OTS who were familiar with the negotiations provided a similar description.
"The general attitude was they were going to be more lenient," one Countrywide executive said. For example, he said other regulators, specifically OCC and the Federal Reserve, were very demanding that large banks not allow loan officers to participate in the selection of property appraisers. "But the OTS sold themselves on having a more liberal interpretation of it," the executive said.
Winning Countrywide was important for OTS, which is funded by assessments on the roughly 750 banks it regulates, with the largest firms paying much of the freight.
But of course no one could have; predicted/foreseen/anticipated 9/11, New Orleans' levys, Iraq quagmire, financial disaster ... except all the experts in those areas that weren't drinking the Bush koolaid (and us DFHs.)
I know this post has been long, especially if you followed and read the links, so I'll leave you with a joke I saw in comments here:
"A parody on how the bailout works: A man wanted to buy a donkey, so he went to a farmer and asked him to sell him one. The farmer agreed to sell the man a donkey for $100 but told the man he would have to come back tomorrow to pick it up.
The man returned the next day to retrieve his donkey only to be told by the farmer that the donkey had died overnight. OK, said the man, just give me back my $100 and we're good. I can't do that, said the farmer, I spent the money last night.
No problem, said the man, I know how to fix this situation. So the man started a raffle for the donkey, not telling anyone that the donkey was already dead. He sold 500 tickets at $2 each, for a total of $1000.
Confused, the farmer asked the man, 'Didn't anyone complain about the donkey already being dead?' 'Only the guy that won the raffle and I simply gave him his $2 back and he was happy', said the man."
posted by Bill Arnett @ 5:06 PM Permalink
…about this flurry of activity by bush, appointing unqualified cronies to "civil service" employment, and making hundreds of changes, to environmental laws, oil drilling laws, and mining restrictions, and other environmentally damaging policies, I have only this to say.
Anything bush does in his waning days of rule can be reversed, either by a new executive order or act of congress. Our Constitution does not say that anything done (especially illegal stuff) by one president can't ever be undone by a future presidentor or that we must knowingly tolerate people clearly unqualified for the job to which they were appointed, even civil servants.
For the civil servants, require that they pass a written pass in their field of science or whatever, or just fire them and let them sue the government for redress just like anyone else. After a few years entangled in the legal system, paying their own attorneys, of course, I imagine most would settle very quickly. And I bet any miniscule settlements made would be vastly cheaper than leaving these people in position.
The people shouldn't have to knowingly suffer by rules set by crony-run jerks that know nothing of what they are doing, and no former president can inflict such further damage on America by his illegal acts and malfeasance in office with impunity.
Oh, boo hoo! The media wasn't fair in their coverage…
posted by Bill Arnett @ 4:30 PM Permalink
…of the recent presidential race that should rightfully be called what it was, a blowout, a route, a total butt-whippin', and a defeat of epic proportions.
But SOME PEOPLE just can't be fair sportsmen, shake hands, and move on, See this article from Politico that tell lies so bad they just beg refuting:
Media bias was more intense in the 2008 election than in any other national campaign in recent history, Time magazine's Mark Halperin said Friday at the Politico/USC conference on the 2008 election.
"It's the most disgusting failure of people in our business since the Iraq war," Halperin said at a panel of media analysts. "It was extreme bias, extreme pro-Obama coverage."
Halperin, who maintains Time's political site "The Page," cited two New York Times articles as examples of the divergent coverage of the two candidates.
You mean after all the bully pulpit speeches of bush (perhaps not a fair comparison as the more people heard him speak, the less they liked him; and he, "…can't do the whole sentence thing."
"The example that I use, at the end of the campaign, was the two profiles that The New York Times ran of the potential first ladies," Halperin said. "The story about Cindy McCain was vicious. It looked for every negative thing they could find about her and it case her in an extraordinarily negative light. It didn't talk about her work, for instance, as a mother for her children, and they cherry-picked every negative thing that's ever been written about her."
The story about Michelle Obama, by contrast, was "like a front-page endorsement of what a great person Michelle Obama is," according to Halperin.
Well, if Cindy McCain wasn't a drug stealing addict with a gazillion dollars with which she might have bought the drugs she used and she instead chose to steal them from a charitable organization she herself started (which leads to the question: Was the charity just a drug front all along?), why shouldn't it be material for the press?
And as to the statement, "The story about Michelle Obama, by contrast, was "like a front-page endorsement of what a great person Michelle Obama is," according to Halperin, it may just be that she has lived her life in a way so as to reflect just what a good and amazing person she is. After all, If pinheads like Halperin couldn't find any dirt to sling her way…maybe it just don't exist, eh? You know they woulda if they coulda.
At any rate, IMHO, both Michelle and Barack have conducted themselves with honor and dignity, some thing which has sadly been absent from the bush maladministration.
To be fair not all of Halperin's comments were republican pablum and were entirely fair. Read it. You decide.
posted by The Sailor @ 9:00 PM Permalink With all the other things going on in the world it would be remiss of me not to note the Vendee Globe, the around the world, non-stop, single-handed sailboat race is happening.
This race is the farthest people are from terra firma except when mankind went to the moon. If disaster happens aircraft and ships probably can't reach you in time, only your fellow sailors can rescue you. It's like climbing Mount Everest or sledding the Iditarod ... for 3 months.
Except you don't have teammates and your nearest competitor is miles away and would have to sail back in 50'-60' seas to rescue you. Imagine sailing alone in the Antarctic Ocean 40 to 50 degrees below the equator in seas taller than your Open 60 boat is long, in winds between 30 & 60 mph, for days on end. Oh, and watch out for the icebergs.
MIAMI – D'Zhana Simmons says she felt like a "fake person" for 118 days when she had no heart beating in her chest. "But I know that I really was here," the 14-year-old said, "and I did live without a heart."
As she was being released Wednesday from a Miami hospital, the shy teen seemed in awe of what she's endured. Since July, she's had two heart transplants and survived with artificial heart pumps — but no heart — for four months between the transplants. [...] The pumps, ventricular assist devices, are typically used with a heart still in place to help the chambers circulate blood. With D'Zhana's heart removed, doctors at Holtz Children's Hospital crafted substitute heart chambers using a fabric and connected these to the two pumps.
Headline: Daschle to Be Nominee for Health Post in Obama Cabinet…
posted by Bill Arnett @ 2:18 PM Permalink
…which is precisely on point as to why these same people are endlessly elected or, it not reelected, later brought back into government by what amounts to judicial fiat, reappointment by the king, dictators, despots, totalitarians or ______________ (fill in the blank).
Tom Daschle was subject to the unspoken and previously unbroken golden rule that said neither party would actively campaign against the leader of the other party.
So while the democrats skipped through the meadows picking daisies, the republican party organized one of the most dishonest and sneaky campaigns ever conducted that cost the unsuspecting Tom Daschle his seat and the leadership of the senate.
It will be neat seeing what happens now, as I'm sure there will be no personal grudges to be settled here, no sir.
posted by The Vidiot @ 2:00 PM Permalink
"Money makes the world go 'round." "Money is the root of all evil." "Money can't buy you love."
I have a problem with money. Always have. A long time ago, maybe it was in a class or something in college or high school -- both so long ago, I sometimes conflate them -- I overheard someone say, "Money is an agreed-upon fantasy." And I thought, "Wow, man, it really is." Which is probably why I've never pursued the acquisition of it very seriously. Or rather, "Not been a team player" according to some of my bosses. Whatever. The fact is, I've never really been able to fully grok why money is worth anything at all. Not a good thing to be confused about in a capitalist system.
Anyway, last night, Mr. Vidiot and I were discussing the gold standard. He asked why I thought so many think it's a bad idea. The only thing I could think of is because it would limit spending and therefore growth. I mean, for gold to be the standard, the Fed couldn't print up money if there wasn't anything there to back it up. It would mean periodic unemployment when businesses couldn't do whatever it is they needed to do to stay in business because all the money is already tied up elsewhere. It would mean the government wouldn't be able to wander off, all willy-nilly, conducting wars abroad if there wasn't any money to pay for it. It would, basically, limit spending to whatever amount of gold could be acquired. And limiting spending limits growth, and limiting growth, according to what we've all been brought up to believe, is a bad thing.
There's also the added issue of why is gold so damn valuable anyway. It's just as much of an "agreed-upon fantasy" as anything else. Hell, salt was super valuable at one point. I read somewhere the other day that the word salary comes from the Latin word salarium since the Roman soldiers got paid in sal or sali, eg. salt. And if the world comes crashing down, what would be more valuable, gold or salt?
Also, I think the whole idea of commerce is kerflooey. Instead of trading things of equal value, humans started to use something that represents value, either because they didn't have something of equal value or gold/money was just plain easier to carry around and deal with. So now, we want Saudi Arabia's oil, but we don't have anything Saudi Arabia wants, except for maybe fresh water. But we can't really give them that. So we give them money so they can buy water from somebody else. Though, we probably shouldn't want Saudi Arabia's oil to begin with. Since oil is not as plentiful over here, we should have designed our infrastructure to use what we have rather than what we don't have. But that’s a whole ‘nuther post.
So, no matter how much I, or any number of revolutionaries, may want capitalism to end, its just not going to happen without something really ugly happening first. It's not that people don't know that capitalism is dysfunctional. I think most people do. It's pretty obvious when there are so many people doing poorly and so few people doing really well. It's obvious by the amount of destruction done to the planet by corporations and nation states. It's obvious for so many reasons. But it's like "stop the world, I want to get off" but you can't. Besides, it's too much like reinventing the wheel. The very foundations of our society would have to be reconstructed from scratch.
But reconstructing our society from scratch is exactly what we need to do.
Unless we as society can redefine our needs to make providing for ourselves more local and reasonable, unless we as a society can say to ourselves, there are other motivations besides bigger, better and more, then we’re stuck with this system we have now. More importantly however, unless we as a society can let go of the idea of growth as the end-all, be-all to, well, everything, we're doomed. The planet is finite. It's resources are finite. Lifetimes are finite. And so must growth take these things into consideration. But, of course, Mr. Vidiot says it best:
Re-think what “growth” means.
What is growing? For who? And why? Is growth progress? What is progress and for whom? We have the means to produce an abundance without growth and everyone can have access to this abundance. We can continue to develop, to progress, to invent, to improve, to fix, to better human progress, and enjoy the fruits of production for all, to use our innate human potential and creativity, to excel all without the need for growth. What a funny word “growth” is because it means nothing. When placed in this macro-economic context, it becomes a word that justifies oppression, inequality, free trade, exploitation, capitalism, war, death, destruction...all in the name of growth.
Yes growth, we must… grow… growth… It is better for us all… growth… let us grow… to destroy… for war… free trade… save 'dem poor niggas yes sir… Vietnamese… 'dem Chinese… 'dem Arabs… get them jobs… industrialize… factories… oil… growth… wage/class structures… death… growth… growth with war… growth and environmental decay… growth for capitalists… we niggas should thank growth… we whiteys should thank growth… we indigenous should thank growth…
The General Motors Corporation (GM) has decided to invest 1 billion U.S. dollars in Brazil to expand business there, local media reported Tuesday.
The investment was part of a U.S. bailout package and would be used to upgrade car production lines before 2012, said Djame Adila, a GM's official in charge of the markets in Brazil and other member-countries of the South American Common Market which also groups Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela.
So, let me get this straight; they use the bailout that they would be getting because everyone is saying that for them to NOT get it, nearly 1 million people would be out of a job because the factories will close down. However, what it appears they're doing is taking the money, probably closing down the factories here anyway, and opening them in a place like Brazil that has an economy with people in it that are able afford cars.
Maybe I'm not understanding the poorly worded article, because I wasn't aware that GM got bailout money in the first place, unless it's in the form of GM getting money from a recently bailed-out bank, which makes only a little sense. And the article doesn't really say they'd be closing down anything up here in the states, but it does say that other layoffs in other countries have happened in GM factories because of the "U.S. financial crisis."
I don't know, it just seems like a whole lotta' wrong. And mostly on the part of GM.
posted by The Vidiot @ 1:33 PM Permalink
but can't seem to totally wrap my head around:
Why is "trickle down economics" not considered a "redistribution of wealth" in the upward direction?
Why does anybody need to be worth billions of dollars? Wouldn't millions be enough?
How is it, exactly, that corporations are considered "persons" under the law? Last I understood, persons die, eventually. Corporations do not.
Why do people assume that money is the only enticement for progress?
Why is it that most folks think that without government, violence would increase, thugs would dominate the weak and nothing would get done? Isn't that what we have now WITH a government?
Why is the phrase "populist government" spoken with such derision? Doesn't that just mean that the government governs for the majority? Isn't that what a government is supposed to do?
Shouldn't people with a lot of kids pay more taxes instead of less?
Think about it: how random is the nation state? Who decided the border should be here instead of there? If you live one foot from the border, are you really all that different than someone who lives one foot on the other side of that border?
And here's a koan for you: Is it 'free speech' if nobody can hear you above the din of the all-powerful media? Or, to put it as another koan: what is the sound of a lone man speaking?
posted by The Vidiot @ 11:06 AM Permalink
I don't want to berate the guy before he even gets started, but if I were just elected president with an apparent mandate to change how things get done in Washington, and I found out that the whole hunt for bin Laden was phony:
The USG Open Source Center translates an article from the Persian Afghan press alleging that French troops were at one point close to capturing Usamah Bin Ladin in Afghanistan, but that American forces stopped them from doing so. It says that a forthcoming French documentary containing interviews with the French soldiers provides proof for the allegation. The argument is that the Bush administration needed Bin Ladin to be at large in order to justify its military expansionism.
Not to mention the torture and lying and ohmygawdwhathasn'tthisadministrationdone stuff, the LAST thing I'd be doing is saying that folks are going to 'walk' and additionally, leave Lieberman in his post on the DHScommittee to NOT investigate anything.
Not a rush to judge mind you, but just a few thoughts.
Pirates! The devil you say, pirates hijacking oil tankers?…
posted by Bill Arnett @ 9:52 AM Permalink
…this absolutely fascinating story comes from the BBC News, recounting the tale of pirates hijacking an oil tanker, and apparently not for this first time:
Pirates have taken control of a Saudi-owned oil tanker in the Indian Ocean off the Kenyan coast, the US Navy says.
The tanker was seized 450 nautical miles south-east of the port of Mombasa, a US Navy spokesman said.
Twenty five crew are said to be on board, including members from Croatia, the UK, the Philippines, Poland and Saudi Arabia. A BBC correspondent in Mombasa reports that this is the third tanker to have been hijacked by Somali pirates.
This situation is open to all sorts of possible events: the peaceful sell-back of the tanker and oil; a forceful confrontation to attempt to recapture the ship and arrest the pirates for prosecution, which would indeed be risky; or the pirates could just decide to make one massive bomb or otherwise release the 2-million gallons or so of oil being carried to create a colossal natural disaster for any nearby countries.
In the first nine months of the year 63 incidents were reported. As of 30 September, 12 vessels remained captive and under negotiation with more than 250 crew being held hostage. Pirates remain active and regularly strike in the region. In the past week alone • A Russian warship in the Gulf of Aden drove off pirates who tried to capture the Saudi Arabian merchant ship Rabih • Pirates hijacked a Japanese cargo ship off Somalia • A Chinese fishing boat was seized off the Kenyan coast • A Turkish ship transporting chemicals to India was hijacked off Yemen • The UK's Royal Navy shot dead two suspected pirates attacking a Danish cargo-ship off the coast of Yemen. The Sirius Star, owned by the Saudi company Aramco, made its maiden voyage in March 2008. Weighing 318,000 dead weight tonnes, the Sirius Star is 330m (1,080ft) long - about the length of an aircraft carrier. Classed as a Very Large Crude Carrier, it can carry about 2 million barrels of oil, according to AP.
It will be interesting to see how this situation plays out.
A direct attack on the tanker would be rife with danger from unexpected booby traps or even blowing up the ship deliberately (or blowing a hugh hole in the side to release the the oil, as it would appear unlikely that the oil could actually be detonated like a bomb). It would also seem that the owners of the tanker would be reluctant indeed to see any damage done to their multimillion dollar tanker and its obviously very expensive cargo of crude.
And what a neat way to have to jack up oil prices due to "unexpected events."
This does indeed appear to be one of those events that directly and indirectly benefits the victims of the crime. A real win-win situation for the hijackers and and those hijacked.
A federal grand jury in North Carolina is investigating allegations the controversial private security firm Blackwater illegally shipped assault weapons and silencers to Iraq, hidden in large sacks of dog food, ABCNews.com has learned.
Under State Department rules, Blackwater is prohibited from using certain assault weapons and silencers in Iraq because they are considered "offensive" weapons inappropriate for Blackwater's role as a private security firm protecting US diplomatic missions.
"The only reason you need a silencer is if you want to assassinate someone," said former CIA intelligence officer John Kiriakou, an ABC News consultant. [...] Two other former employees tell ABCNews.com they also witnessed the dog food smuggling operation. They say the weapons were actually hidden inside large sacks of dog food, packaged at company headquarters in North Carolina and sent to Iraq for the company's 20 bomb-sniffing dogs. [...] A Blackwater spokesperson, Anne Tyrrell, said certain arms shipmens were sent to Iraq surrounded by dog food "to secure them on the airplane and not to smuggle them."
Yeees, we had to put the illegal weapons in dog food to 'secure' them. Gee, I wonder what the cargo manifest said? (Actual reporters might have, you know, tried to find that PUBLIC INFORMATION out.)
While it isn't proof, it's indicative that it wasn't just a few 'bad apples', but a coordinated effort by a mercenary corporation to subvert the laws of the US and Iraq.
posted by Bill Arnett @ 2:41 PM Permalink
…struck me this morning as I pondered what color paludamentum to wear today (I write with some very brainy people here, so I thought I'd throw in something for them).
It turns out that the word "pundit" is defined as: a scholar; authority on a subject; interpreter of Hindu law; learned Brahmin (Hindu). (Definition from the Oxford Dictionary of Foreign Words and Phrases)
Seems to me that hardly any of the TV pundits are scholars or an authority on a subject, so by default that makes them an interpreter of Hindu law or a learned Brahmin (Hindu).
A brand new false dichotomy set up by the bush neocons acting as surrogates…
posted by Bill Arnett @ 12:52 PM Permalink
…is that President Elect Obama must immediately go to work against Russia and for the 'missile shield' bushco so desperately wants to install along Russian borders and in countries formerly ruled by the now-defunct Soviet Union.
Russia didn't waste any time in putting President-elect Barack Obama on notice. A day after the election, President Dmitry Medvedev renewed Russian warnings that he would base short-range Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, on the border of Poland, if the U.S. proceeds with plans to base a missile defense system in Europe, with the hardware in Poland and the Czech Republic. And this week, the Kremlin rejected new proposals put forward by the Bush administration to assuage concerns that the system could be used to neutralize Russia's nuclear arsenal.
U.S. missile defense hawks responded that Medvedev's threat, coming on the heels of Russia's war with U.S.-allied Georgia, makes it essential for Obama to prove his mettle against an emboldened Kremlin and press ahead with a system to protect Europe and the United States against long-range missiles from Iran.
R-i-i-i-g-g-h-h-t! Our economy is falling apart, unemployment approaching near records, Obama's not even inaugurated yet, and the chickenhawks and war-, fear-mongers are already trying to have Obama enter into a position of bellicosity with the Russians over a missile shield that does not now work or is likely to work in my lifetime. And, once again, the neocons falsely make it seem that Russia instigated the attack on "U.S,-backed Georgia." Even the supposed reason for pursuing this folly is equine excrement of the first degree:
Obama should not react to the rhetoric from either quarter, but he should reconsider missile defense on its merits -- or lack thereof. The president-elect rightly is skeptical of the defense shield, given that it doesn't yet work and it's intended to defend against nuclear-tipped Iranian missiles that don't yet exist. Although Iran has tested long-range missiles that could reach southern Europe, some security analysts believe the country is merely saber-rattling, because an Iranian attack on Europe, or even Israel, would be met with such force as to be suicidal. Meanwhile, the proposed missile shield has driven an unnecessary wedge between Moscow and much of the rest of Europe.
Ah, yes, grasshopper, the doctrine of mutually assured destruction of any country attacking another nation with nuclear weapons by a corresponding retaliation with nuclear weapons from the nation attacked.
Why don't we willing give nuclear weapons to every country with strict warnings of M.A.D implementation if they do not secure those weapons? Couldn't this be the beginning of the end of war? If everyone has nukes then no dares use them without fear of immediate destruction and/or the extinction of that country's race?
Even before Medvedev's comments, there was no guarantee Obama would continue on the missile shield track. Congress has yet to fund it, with cost estimates ranging from $4 billion to $10 billion a year for five years, and Obama may not have the money in the midst of an economic crisis.
One of Obama's senior defense advisors is former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn, who has criticized the Bush administration for increasing tensions with Russia by backing NATO membership for Poland and Ukraine, on Russia's border. This, and the defense shield, have fueled Russia's fears that the United States means to surround it, spy on it and eliminate its nuclear deterrent. Nunn, among other Democrats, wants Washington and Moscow to negotiate nuclear disarmament, not waste time on a tiff over a missile shield.
Obama must engage Russia on many fronts, not fan its fears. For example, he needs Russia to fully support economic sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. And because Russia doesn't want a nuclear-armed Iran any more than the United States and Europe do, there's a good chance the Kremlin can be brought on board -- perhaps even in exchange for scrapping the missile shield program.
But this matter definitely does not call for deliberate taunting and bellicosity on the part of Obama OR the Russians.
It's eventually going to dawn on the countries where we wish to put these missile shields everyone knows don't work that they are setting themselves up for attack by the Russians, claiming self-defense, and that the U.S., already bogged down in two wars that have decimated the formerly most powerful military in the world, the American Armed Forces, that there is no way we could defend them, much engage Russia and probably China to boot.
For decades, Pleasant Grove, Utah, permitted a Ten Commandments monument and an array of historical artifacts amid the benches, trees and flowers of its Pioneer Park. Yet in 2003 when the Summum church asked to erect a monument displaying its core principles, "Seven Aphorisms," the city declined.
The city said it wanted only monuments that related to Pleasant Grove history or were donated by groups with long-standing ties to the community. That rejection spawned a case, at the Supreme Court on Wednesday, that could have ramifications for monuments across the country. [...] In a 1995 case, [Justice O'Connor] devised the current compromise standard. The court ruled Ohio could not keep the Ku Klux Klan from adding a Latin cross on Capitol grounds where other groups were allowed to put up a Christmas tree and menorah. [...] Summum, established in 1975, merges Egyptian customs, such as mummification, with elements of Gnostic Christianity that teach, for example, that spiritual knowledge is experiential. Summum followers believe that before God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, God handed down a stone tablet of seven aphorisms of a higher law.
Jay Sekulow, of the American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative organization specializing in religion cases, represents Pleasant Grove. He says the city need not accept Summum's monument simply because it displays the others. "Accepting a Statue of Liberty does not compel a government to accept a Statue of Tyranny," he told the justices in his brief.
Sekulow contends the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, which ruled against Pleasant Grove, erred in considering Pioneer Park a "public forum" for private speech. He says the city was engaged in "government speech" as it selected permanent displays to convey its own themes and can choose among artifacts offered for its 2½-acre park in a historic district. [...] [Pamela Harris, representing Summum] says Pleasant City cannot claim markers at the site are "government speech" because the city did not create their message. "The city did not control the content of the Ten Commandments monument when it was created; the Eagles did," she wrote.
Privately sponsored speech must be "allowed on equal terms" when governments create a public forum, Harris said, referring to O'Connor's test in the 1995 case. [...] "Every park in the country that has accepted a VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) memorial is now a public forum for the erection of permanent fixed monuments," [Judge Michael McConnell, an appointee of President Bush who previously was a prominent religious-law scholar] said. "They must either remove the war memorials or brace themselves for an influx of clutter."
Fourteen states and the federal government have urged the court to reverse the 10th Circuit decision. The U.S. Justice Department says that if the ruling stands it could affect national parks, which contain thousands of privately funded objects.
Nine municipalities, led by Casper, Wyo., urged the justices to adopt a "bright-line rule" that says when government accepts a donation of property, any resulting message becomes government speech. The municipalities contend the 10th Circuit decision could force a city to choose "between removing works it has accepted" or displaying works from private groups regardless of whether they "promote the common good." [...] Conservative justices, including Antonin Scalia, have pressed for rules that would allow governments wider latitude to accept certain religious markers and to reject others. He wrote in the 1995 case that "government suppression of speech has so commonly been directed … at religious speech that a (constitutional) free-speech clause without religion would be Hamlet without the prince."
Hoist on their own retard!
Point by point: The city said it wanted only monuments that related to Pleasant Grove history or were donated by groups with long-standing ties to the community - Umm, I'd say 33 years of a religion is both history and "long-standing ties to the community." Besides, who are the Mormons to reject another's religion!?
"Accepting a Statue of Liberty does not compel a government to accept a Statue of Tyranny" - Strawman anyone? Dude, we're talking about suppressing a religion you don't agree with, not building statues to Bush!
"Sekulow contends the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, which ruled against Pleasant Grove, erred in considering Pioneer Park a "public forum" for private speech. He says the city was engaged in "government speech" as it selected permanent displays to convey its own themes" - In the first place, there is no such animal as 'government speech', there is only 'free speech' in the constitution. In place the second, it is public land, it belongs to the people, and promoting one religion over another is unconstitutional, (see 'US Constitution; 1st Amendment'.)
"They must either remove the war memorials or brace themselves for an influx of clutter." - OMG, clutter!!! Won't someone think of the children! If you didn't want 'clutter', you shouldn't have allowed certain select groups of private entities to raise monuments on OUR land.
And finally we (unfortunately) have JustUs [sic] Scalia: "government suppression of speech has so commonly been directed … at religious speech ... - I wonder what mental backflips Scalia will have to perform to wind up ruling for Pleasant Grove?
The decision by the city to suppress the free speech and religious expression of Summum should not stand. At least according to previous rulings, as always INAL.
My personal opinion: If you want to donate money to a city to beautify a park, that's great. If you donate money only to erect a shrine to your cause in a public park, it shouldn't be allowed.
But once it's allowed you have to make it available for all Americans.
It's called 'free speech' and 'freedom of religion.' You can look it up.
The Bush administration is moving ahead with efforts to lease the waters off Virginia's coast to companies interested in drilling for oil and natural gas, despite calls from environmentalists that the plan should wait for the new president to take office.
In a statement Wednesday, the Minerals Management Service announced it would start a 45-day public comment period on whether acreage offshore should be leased for exploration and drilling.
Once the public comment period ends, federal authorities would begin an environmental review to determine whether a drilling lease can be executed in 2011.[…]
The administration's decision to move forward comes four months after President Bush lifted an executive ban on offshore drilling. In September, the Democratic-controlled House and Senate decided not to renew a separate, congressional moratorium on offshore drilling that had been in place for more than two decades.
This action is predicated on two flawed ideas: one, that we can drill enough oil to make a teeny, tiny dent in the amount of oil we import and, two, people bought into the bogus lies of republicans like John McCain that there had never been any oil leaks in the Gulf of Mexico, even during the many hurricanes blowing through and past the oil platforms so perfectly constructed that they do not leak.
These arguments have been so debunked that me debunking them again would be like flogging a dead republican, so I shall instead figure out how a day at the beach will go after the first, inevitable oil platform disaster releasing an ecological disaster on the east coast.
First of all, just imagine the "oil ball" fights in which the children may participate. Hours of fun for the whole family!
Secondly you could take turns trying to identifying the species of all the oil covered birds and the other wildlife you find. Educational!
Bring along some Dawn dishwashing detergent ( truly magnificent at removing oil, all joking aside) and take turns racing each other to see who can de-oil a migratory bird first. Competition! Ecological education!
The little children could have untold fun seeing who could walk the farthest out off the beach on the oil flow before breaking through. Suspense!
Start at a beach in Virginia and see if you can stay ahead of the oil caught up in the Gulf Stream and get to Miami before the beaches disappear under a mountain of sludge. Map reading! Navigational skills!
Leave all those SPF50 sunblocks at home and use thick tar oil instead. Sun Protection for good health! Lower skin cancer rates!
Have the kids stand on their surfboards to see which one gets carried away by the oil flow the farthest without falling. Athletics! Balance!
And for the obligatory barbecue, just light some of that crude on fire and roast away with the hot dogs. Nourishment! Chef's helper!
And be sure to bring home plenty of chunks and bucket loads of the slimy stuff for the neighbors. Souvenirs!
So, as can plainly be seen, there many advantages that would accrue to beach-going American's everywhere. Government in action!
posted by Bill Arnett @ 10:43 AM Permalink
…that can be kind of hard to figure out when you see an article like this one from the WaPo.com:
Since 2006, Iran's leaders have called for direct, unconditional talks with the United States to resolve international concerns over their nuclear program. But as an American administration open to such negotiations prepares to take power, Iran's political and military leaders are sounding suddenly wary of President-elect Barack Obama.
"People who put on a mask of friendship, but with the objective of betrayal, and who enter from the angle of negotiations without preconditions, are more dangerous," Hossein Taeb, deputy commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, said Wednesday, according to the semiofficial Mehr News Agency.
"The power holders in the new American government are trying to regain their lost influence with a tactical change in their foreign diplomacy. They are shifting from a hard conflict to a soft attack," Taeb said.
For Iran's leaders, the only state of affairs worse than poor relations with the United States may be improved relations.
How incredibly diabolical and duplicitous of America!
First, because we set preconditions on talks, Iran wouldn't talk to us.
Now, since Obama declared his willingness to sit down and talk without preconditions, the Iranians won't talk to us.
Maybe they figured out that Obama was just trying to sucker them into the same room and then, pulling a nuclear weapon out from his sleeve, destroying them all while screaming maniacally, " Ah, ha ha ha, ha, you fell for it you silly mullahs!"
Now that would teach 'em not to mess with America!
posted by Bill Arnett @ 10:00 AM Permalink
…unless you're Sarah Palin and facing real difficulties balancing her state's budget. I know you find that hard to believe as Sarah, speaking to the republican governor's association, is bragging about how all her fellow governors all handle massive budgets and manage to balance them.
Adored by many national conservatives, Ms. Palin is a prospect for a presidential run in 2012, supporters say. Caricatured by opponents, she is a candidate for political oblivion, say others.[…]
Oil prices, which provide the bulk of state revenue, were well over $100 a barrel in late August when Ms. Palin left to campaign with Senator John McCain. Now they are slumming south of $60 a barrel, below the level required to balance the state budget. Increased scrutiny of Ms. Palin’s time as governor often painted an unflattering portrait of her administration. Investigative news reports have portrayed Ms. Palin as being consumed with personal matters and vindictiveness, particularly in the controversy over the firing of her public safety commissioner in what has become known as Troopergate.
Well, so far so good, she seems to be as popular as ever, despite the drubbing she took during the November elections.
Ms. Palin has largely dodged questions about her long-term political future, and as she gets back to governing full time, few people know what to expect from her in the immediate future.
“She’s coming back to a whole different world from when she left,” said State Representative John Coghill, a Republican from North Pole who is chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee. “If she comes back with a puffed up ego there’s going to be problems. But if she comes back ready to work, that will be better.”[…]
“Now we kick in that fiscal conservativeness that needs to be engaged, and we progress this state with $57-a-barrel oil,” Ms. Palin said. She said the state would have to “be prudent with public dollars and provide services more efficiently than have ever been provided in the state of Alaska before.”
The price and production of oil determines state finances: taxes on oil bring in about 85 percent of state revenue. To balance the budget for the 2008-9 fiscal year, the price of oil needs to average $74 over the 12 months, said Karen J. Rehfeld, director of the state office of management and budget. If it falls below that average, the state could have to make emergency cuts or dip into a reserve account that contains several billion dollars. High prices early in the fiscal year may help keep the average up this year, but next year is another matter.
Ms. Palin, first elected governor in 2006, has governed only in times of budget surpluses, and lawmakers said they had many questions about how she would lead now.
It's such a good thing she didn't allow all the national attention to go to her head.
Ms. Palin rejected the idea that she would be playing to a larger audience.
“My actions will continue to be first and foremost in good service to the state of Alaska,” she said in the interview.
But other than suggesting that cost cuts were to come, Ms. Palin did not hint at a broader agenda.
Is she just playing coy, awaiting 2012 to once again emerge from a cocoon and show what a beautiful butterfly she's become?
Oh, wait, she tried that in the Miss Alaska contest and finished second there, too. Oh, well.
posted by Bill Arnett @ 10:25 PM Permalink
…was this conversation between bush and his chief of staff:
COS: Mr. President, what are you doing with all those sticks of dynamite in your shirt pocket?
GWB: Well, don't tell Laura, but I occasionally like a good cigar at the end of a tough day, but every time I go see the White House barber that S.O.B. finds an excuse to hit my pocket and break every damn cigar I've got.
COS; Well, I can understand you not liking that, but that doesn't explain what you're doing with all those sticks of dynamite in your pocket.
GWB: Don't tell nobody, but me, I'm gonna blow his damned hand off!
1.(sometimes capital letters 'V' and 'S' with no space) a style of writing or saying something using emotion and/or logic and snark, esp. in order to elucidate the obvious while pretending to be objective.
2. anything written by The Vidiot, The Sailor, Mr. Vidiot and anyone else they allow to post on the blog “vidiotspeak”
[Origin: loosely based on new + speak, coined by George Orwell in his novel, 1984 (1949)]
And for godsakes, stay away from FOX, MSNBC, CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC.
It's ALL CRAP!!!
Watch the BBC news or ITN news instead.
"POSSE COMITATUS ACT" (18 USC 1385)
A Reconstruction Era criminal law proscribing use of Army (later, Air Force) to "execute the laws" except where expressly authorized by Constitution or Congress. Limit on use of military for civilian law enforcement also applies to Navy by regulation. Dec '81 additional laws were enacted (codified 10 USC 371-78) clarifying permissible military assistance to civilian law enforcement agencies--including the Coast Guard--especially in combating drug smuggling into the United States. Posse Comitatus clarifications emphasize supportive and technical assistance (e.g., use of facilities, vessels, aircraft, intelligence, tech aid, surveillance, etc.) while generally prohibiting direct participation of DoD personnel in law enforcement (e.g., search, seizure, and arrests). For example, Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachments (LEDETS) serve aboard Navy vessels and perform the actual boardings of interdicted suspect drug smuggling vessels and, if needed, arrest their crews). Positive results have been realized especially from Navy ship/aircraft involvement.