textonly.com :: Commentary

June 13, 2012

Maybe the stupidest thing I ever read

Brooks just put himself into the completely irrelevant category with this crazy rant:

If you go to the Lincoln or Jefferson memorials in Washington, you are invited to look up in admiration. Lincoln and Jefferson are presented as the embodiments of just authority. They are strong and powerful but also humanized. Jefferson is a graceful aristocratic democrat. Lincoln is sober and enduring. Both used power in the service of higher ideas, which are engraved nearby on the walls.

As Michael J. Lewis of Williams College has noted, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial transforms a jaunty cavalier into a “differently abled and rather prim nonsmoker.” Instead of a crafty wielder of supreme power, Roosevelt is a kindly grandpa you would want to put your arm around for a vacation photo.

The proposed Eisenhower memorial shifts attention from his moments of power to his moments of innocent boyhood. The design has been widely criticized, and last week the commission in charge agreed to push back the approval hearing until September.

Even the more successful recent monuments evade the thorny subjects of strength and power. The Vietnam memorial is about tragedy. The Korean memorial is about vulnerability.

Why can’t today’s memorial designers think straight about just authority?

Some of the reasons are well-known. We live in a culture that finds it easier to assign moral status to victims of power than to those who wield power. Most of the stories we tell ourselves are about victims who have endured oppression, racism and cruelty.

Then there is our fervent devotion to equality, to the notion that all people are equal and deserve equal recognition and respect. It’s hard in this frame of mind to define and celebrate greatness, to hold up others who are immeasurably superior to ourselves.

But the main problem is our inability to think properly about how power should be used to bind and build. Legitimate power is built on a series of paradoxes: that leaders have to wield power while knowing they are corrupted by it; that great leaders are superior to their followers while also being of them; that the higher they rise, the more they feel like instruments in larger designs. The Lincoln and Jefferson memorials are about how to navigate those paradoxes.

These days many Americans seem incapable of thinking about these paradoxes. Those “Question Authority” bumper stickers no longer symbolize an attempt to distinguish just and unjust authority. They symbolize an attitude of opposing authority.

The old adversary culture of the intellectuals has turned into a mass adversarial cynicism. The common assumption is that elites are always hiding something. Public servants are in it for themselves. Those people at the top are nowhere near as smart or as wonderful as pure and all-knowing Me.

You end up with movements like Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Parties that try to dispense with authority altogether. They reject hierarchies and leaders because they don’t believe in the concepts. The whole world should be like the Internet — a disbursed semianarchy in which authority is suspect and each individual is king.

Maybe before we can build great monuments to leaders we have to relearn the art of following. Democratic followership is also built on a series of paradoxes: that we are all created equal but that we also elevate those who are extraordinary; that we choose our leaders but also have to defer to them and trust their discretion; that we’re proud individuals but only really thrive as a group, organized and led by just authority.

I don’t know if America has a leadership problem; it certainly has a followership problem. Vast majorities of Americans don’t trust their institutions. That’s not mostly because our institutions perform much worse than they did in 1925 and 1955, when they were widely trusted. It’s mostly because more people are cynical and like to pretend that they are better than everything else around them. Vanity has more to do with rising distrust than anything else.

In his memoir, “At Ease,” Eisenhower delivered the following advice: “Always try to associate yourself with and learn as much as you can from those who know more than you do, who do better than you, who see more clearly than you.” Ike slowly mastered the art of leadership by becoming a superb apprentice.

To have good leaders you have to have good followers — able to recognize just authority, admire it, be grateful for it and emulate it. Those skills are required for good monument building, too.

I have read some stupid shit in the NY Times before, but this may be the worst single piece of it.

Posted on: June 13, 2012 06:18 AM | Link: Maybe the stupidest thing I ever read | Comments: (0)

August 08, 2011

Do they even get it?

From the NY Times this morning:

"With several British leaders, including Prime Minister David Cameron, out of the country on vacation, the home secretary, Theresa May, was reported on Monday to be flying home to oversee the official response."

The oligarchs are all out of the country on vacation, while the poor and under/unemployed are left home to burn it up... and this paragraph is written without any realization of the irony - just a clean reporting of the facts. If there was ever a time to connect the dots!

Posted on: August 8, 2011 01:56 PM | Link: Do they even get it? | Comments: (0)

April 08, 2011

Give me your hungry, your tired your poor I'll piss on 'em

Dirty Boulevard - Lou Reed or the Velvet Underground?

Pedro lives out of the Wilshire Hotel
he looks out a window without glass
The walls are made of cardboard, newspapers on his feet
his father beats him 'cause he's too tired to beg

He's got 9 brothers and sisters
they're brought up on their knees
it's hard to run when a coat hanger beats you on the thighs
Pedro dreams of being older and killing the old man
but that's a slim chance he's going to the boulevard

He's going to end up, on the dirty boulevard
he's going out, to the dirty boulevard
He's going down, to the dirty boulevard

This room cost 2,000 dollars a month
you can believe it man it's true
somewhere a landlord's laughing till he wets his pants
No one here dreams of being a doctor or a lawyer or anything
they dream of dealing on the dirty boulevard

Give me your hungry, your tired your poor I'll piss on 'em
that's what the Statue of Bigotry says
Your poor huddled masses, let's club 'em to death
and get it over with and just dump 'em on the boulevard

Get to end up, on the dirty boulevard
going out, to the dirty boulevard
He's going down, on the dirty boulevard
going out

Outside it's a bright night
there's an opera at Lincoln Center
movie stars arrive by limousine
The klieg lights shoot up over the skyline of Manhattan
but the lights are out on the Mean Streets

A small kid stands by the Lincoln Tunnel
he's selling plastic roses for a buck
The traffic's backed up to 39th street
the TV whores are calling the cops out for a suck

And back at the Wilshire, Pedro sits there dreaming
he's found a book on magic in a garbage can
He looks at the pictures and stares at the cracked ceiling
"At the count of 3" he says, "I hope I can disappear"

And fly fly away, from this dirty boulevard
I want to fly, from dirty boulevard
I want to fly, from dirty boulevard
I want to fly-fly-fly-fly, from dirty boulevard

I want to fly away
I want to fly
Fly, fly away
I want to fly
Fly-fly away (Fly a-)
fly-fly-fly (-way, ooohhh...)
Fly-fly away (I want to fly-fly away)
fly away (I want to fly, wow-woh, no, fly away)

Posted on: April 8, 2011 02:41 PM | Link: Give me your hungry, your tired your poor I'll piss on 'em | Comments: (0)

October 10, 2009

More like this...

Posted on: October 10, 2009 02:20 PM | Link: More like this... | Comments: (0)

September 14, 2009

WTF?

Posted on: September 14, 2009 05:41 PM | Link: WTF? | Comments: (0)

April 26, 2009

PM of Texas asks for international help

This is pretty interesting:

"Gov. Prime Minister Rick Perry Saturday asked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 37,430 courses of antiviral medications from the Strategic National Stockpile (of the United States of America) as a precaution after three cases of swine flu were confirmed in (the newly sovereign country of) Texas. "

I hope this makes Texans think a little harder about secession, but I doubt it.

Posted on: April 26, 2009 05:53 PM | Link: PM of Texas asks for international help | Comments: (0)

March 13, 2009

"Tent City" Rapidly Growing in Sacramento - and other cities

In a country with a record level of empty housing, this is pretty surreal:

Posted on: March 13, 2009 10:46 AM | Link: "Tent City" Rapidly Growing in Sacramento - and other cities | Comments: (0)

March 03, 2009

What's wrong with America: Part 3,596

The food development team spent a year creating two breakfast sandwiches for the pairings. Although the eggs and cheese are mixed in huge vats, poured into tins, baked, frozen and shipped to distribution centers to be assembled, they wanted them to look freshly made to appeal to people who do not like fast-food outlets.

Sounds dee-lish.

Posted on: March 3, 2009 06:26 PM | Link: What's wrong with America: Part 3,596 | Comments: (0)

November 12, 2008

It's a beautiful world we live in...

Americans love them their guns:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Bernie Conatser has never seen business this good.

The owner of a gun shop in the Washington suburb of Manassas, Virginia, Conatser said sales have doubled or tripled the numbers he racked up in late October. Saturday, he said, he did as much business as he would normally do in a week.

"I have been in business for 12 years, and I was here for Y2K, September 11th, Katrina," Conatser said as a steady stream of customers browsed what remained of his stock. "And all of those were big events, and we did notice a spike in business, but nothing on the order of what we are seeing right now."

Weapons dealers in much of the United States are reporting sharply higher sales since Barack Obama won the presidency a week ago. Buyers and sellers attribute the surge to worries that Obama and a Democratic-controlled Congress will move to restrict firearm ownership, despite the insistence of campaign aides that the president-elect supports gun rights and considers the issue a low priority.

According to FBI figures for the week of November 3-9, the bureau received more than 374,000 requests for background checks on gun purchasers — a nearly 49 percent increase over the same period in 2007. Conatser said his store, Virginia Arms Company, has run out of some models — such as the AR-15 rifle, the civilian version of the military's M-16 — and is running low on others.

Such assault weapons are among the firearms that gun dealers and customers say they fear Obama will hit with new restrictions, or even take off the market.


Virginia gun owner Kyle Lewandowski said he was buying a .45-caliber pistol to "hedge my bets."

"Every election year, you have to worry about your rights being eroded a little bit at a time," he said. But he added, "I also knew, because of the Democrat majority and because of the election, everybody would have the same reaction I did."

Dealers in Colorado, Ohio, Connecticut and New Hampshire also reported seeing major increases.

"It's a fact that the liberal Democrats that now control all three branches of our government do not like guns. They want us out of business," Connecticut resident Scott Hoffman said. "They don't want the average American to have a right to defend themselves."

And New Hampshire gun owner Lloyd Clement said, "I think there's going to be an attack to some degree on the gun owners."

The Clinton administration imposed a ban on several types of military-style semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity magazines in 1994, but that ban was allowed to lapse in 2004. Obama has proposed restoring the ban, requiring background checks for buyers at gun shows and other "common-sense
measures."

He has said he supports the rights of local governments to set their own gun laws, but believes the Second Amendment to the Constitution protects individual gun rights.

"I believe the Second Amendment means something. I do think it speaks to an individual right," Obama said in Milwaukee in February.

With the U.S. economy in a tailspin, however, the president-elect's advisers say gun legislation is not a high priority.

"What people do is their own business, and if they decide to go out and buy guns they'll go out and buy guns, assuming that they are eligible to buy guns," John Podesta, the co-chairman of Obama's transition team, told reporters Sunday. "But I think that President-elect Obama has been clear in his campaign that what he wants to focus on is the economy, trying to get jobs growing again, dealing with the health care crisis, and dealing with our dependence on foreign oil."

Some customers specifically are stocking up on ammunition and point to concerns raised by the National Rifle Association, which ran anti-Obama ads during the campaign. The NRA said Obama would support a "huge new tax on my guns and ammo," referencing a 1999 article in a Chicago newspaper saying the then-Illinois state senator promoted a plan to increase federal taxes by 500 percent on the sales of firearms and ammunition.

But as a state legislator, Obama would not have had any control over federal taxes. And as a U.S. senator and presidential candidate, he has not introduced or promoted such a proposal.

"I don't really believe it is fear. It is more there is just uncertainty," said Virginia customer David Reynolds, who was buying ammunition in the store as well as ordering more online. "You know, we don't really know what is going on. There really hasn't been a lot of clear direction on where he
supports it, although he says he supports the Second Amendment. But it just remains to be seen. I think some people are just uncomfortable with what his policy may be."

Posted on: November 12, 2008 11:07 AM | Link: It's a beautiful world we live in... | Comments: (0)

November 10, 2008

Religion

I just don't get it. Here is some video from what appears to me to be the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The AP description says this:

"Israeli police rushed into one of Christianity's holiest churches Sunday and arrested two clergyman after an argument between monks erupted into a brawl next to the site of Jesus' tomb."


Posted on: November 10, 2008 09:41 AM | Link: Religion | Comments: (1)

November 05, 2008

Its just frikkin unreal

It was GEORGE BUSH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! JFC - these people should be arrested.

Posted on: November 5, 2008 12:15 PM | Link: Its just frikkin unreal | Comments: (0)

Jesusland shrinking

Jesusland got a little smaller this year.

Although I still have a hard time getting my head around the fact that 50 million people voted for McCain.

Posted on: November 5, 2008 04:21 AM | Link: Jesusland shrinking | Comments: (0)

March 13, 2008

Mrs. Spitzer

I posted this over on Eschaton in the comments (in response to: "GOV. LEAVING, WHAT ABOUT WIFE" That's on the teevee (CNN) right now. Maybe not living in New York I've missed something, but I really don't think there's much reason for media focus on her.) but that system doesn't really foster conversation too well, so just so I don't forget it I am re-posting it here:

I really don't understand why the husband's transgressions immediately have people calling for the wife to leave. Isn't a marriage a bond between two people? Isn't that their business? Does visiting a prostitute constitute automatic divorce in the conventional wisdom? Spitzer needs to make things right in his personal life - doesn't he need his wife now more than ever? Don't most vows include the phrase "for better or worse" or something like that? I am making no excuses for the guy - but I would like to think that if something happened like this in my marriage the first reaction wouldn't just be to jump ship - for either party. It seems like a classic American dichotomy - you're either with us, or with the prostitutes. He resigned - it took a little while - but for heaven's sake, let his wife do whatever she sees fit. Maybe she want's to make it (the marriage) work out - for her children's sake - for her sake, whatever. Maybe she loves him to death and she is going to forgive him. Maybe she hates his guts and wants to leave - but really - who business is it now?

Posted on: March 13, 2008 01:31 PM | Link: Mrs. Spitzer | Comments: (0)

Bush Tied to Child Prostitution - Resignation or Impeachment Expected!

It's all true:

"George Bush has been tied to a prostitution ring involving as many as 50,000 women and girls and is expected to resign or be impeached, according to Congressional sources.

The prostitutes, some as young as 13, are among the 1.2 million desperate Iraqis who fled to Syria after Bush's invasion of Iraq in 2003, according to the U.K. Independent.

Bush's invasion destroyed the Iraqi government and unleashed a wave of political and sectarian violence that has killed over 1 million Iraqis and forced 4 million to become refugees, according to the UN.

Facing starvation, as many as 50,000 women and girls have been forced into prostitution in Syria alone, according to Hana Ibrahim of the Women's Will Association.

"70 percent to 80 percent of the girls working this business in Damascus today are Iraqis," 23-year-old Abeer told the New York Times. "The rents here in Syria are too expensive for their families. If they go back to Iraq they'll be slaughtered, and this is the only work available."

Posted on: March 13, 2008 05:06 AM | Link: Bush Tied to Child Prostitution - Resignation or Impeachment Expected! | Comments: (0)

January 22, 2008

And then it all came undone...

It is the morning of January 22nd - world wide stock markets have been collapsing for 2 days. People are starting to realize that there is "no there there" - as in - there is nothing but paper and promises propping up billions of dollars of construction projects, investments, stocks, bonds, derivatives, etc. The US market was closed for the Martin Luther King holiday on Monday the 21st - so this morning in America should be very interesting.

Quote of the moment:

"The United States is so broke, its people at every level from the Federal Reserve on down don't know whether to shit or go blind. The homeowners cringing in the media rooms of their 5000-square-foot personal family resorts don't know how long they can stay put microwaving pepperoni hot pockets with the default clock ticking." Jim Kunstler

Posted on: January 22, 2008 04:24 AM | Link: And then it all came undone... | Comments: (0)

January 08, 2008

Happy New Year

This is a week late - but this was almost a year early: RECESSION 07.
More to come...

Posted on: January 8, 2008 08:39 AM | Link: Happy New Year | Comments: (0)

December 16, 2007

How will it all end?

Paul Krugman this week asked "How will it all end?"

Here is his latest:

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve announced plans to lend $40 billion to banks. By my count, it’s the fourth high-profile attempt to rescue the financial system since things started falling apart about five months ago. Maybe this one will do the trick, but I wouldn’t count on it.

In past financial crises — the stock market crash of 1987, the aftermath of Russia’s default in 1998 — the Fed has been able to wave its magic wand and make market turmoil disappear. But this time the magic isn’t working.

Why not? Because the problem with the markets isn’t just a lack of liquidity — there’s also a fundamental problem of solvency.

Let me explain the difference with a hypothetical example.

Suppose that there’s a nasty rumor about the First Bank of Pottersville: people say that the bank made a huge loan to the president’s brother-in-law, who squandered the money on a failed business venture.

Even if the rumor is false, it can break the bank. If everyone, believing that the bank is about to go bust, demands their money out at the same time, the bank would have to raise cash by selling off assets at fire-sale prices — and it may indeed go bust even though it didn’t really make that bum loan.

And because loss of confidence can be a self-fulfilling prophecy, even depositors who don’t believe the rumor would join in the bank run, trying to get their money out while they can.

But the Fed can come to the rescue. If the rumor is false, the bank has enough assets to cover its debts; all it lacks is liquidity — the ability to raise cash on short notice. And the Fed can solve that problem by giving the bank a temporary loan, tiding it over until things calm down.

Matters are very different, however, if the rumor is true: the bank really did make a big bad loan. Then the problem isn’t how to restore confidence; it’s how to deal with the fact that the bank is really, truly insolvent, that is, busted.

My story about a basically sound bank beset by a crisis of confidence, which can be rescued with a temporary loan from the Fed, is more or less what happened to the financial system as a whole in 1998. Russia’s default led to the collapse of the giant hedge fund Long Term Capital Management, and for a few weeks there was panic in the markets.

But when all was said and done, not that much money had been lost; a temporary expansion of credit by the Fed gave everyone time to regain their nerve, and the crisis soon passed.

In August, the Fed tried again to do what it did in 1998, and at first it seemed to work. But then the crisis of confidence came back, worse than ever. And the reason is that this time the financial system — both banks and, probably even more important, nonbank financial institutions — made a lot of loans that are likely to go very, very bad.

It’s easy to get lost in the details of subprime mortgages, resets, collateralized debt obligations, and so on. But there are two important facts that may give you a sense of just how big the problem is.

First, we had an enormous housing bubble in the middle of this decade. To restore a historically normal ratio of housing prices to rents or incomes, average home prices would have to fall about 30 percent from their current levels.

Second, there was a tremendous amount of borrowing into the bubble, as new home buyers purchased houses with little or no money down, and as people who already owned houses refinanced their mortgages as a way of converting rising home prices into cash.

As home prices come back down to earth, many of these borrowers will find themselves with negative equity — owing more than their houses are worth. Negative equity, in turn, often leads to foreclosures and big losses for lenders.

And the numbers are huge. The financial blog Calculated Risk, using data from First American CoreLogic, estimates that if home prices fall 20 percent there will be 13.7 million homeowners with negative equity. If prices fall 30 percent, that number would rise to more than 20 million.

That translates into a lot of losses, and explains why liquidity has dried up. What’s going on in the markets isn’t an irrational panic. It’s a wholly rational panic, because there’s a lot of bad debt out there, and you don’t know how much of that bad debt is held by the guy who wants to borrow your money.

How will it all end? Markets won’t start functioning normally until investors are reasonably sure that they know where the bodies — I mean, the bad debts — are buried. And that probably won’t happen until house prices have finished falling and financial institutions have come clean about all their losses. All of this will probably take years.

Meanwhile, anyone who expects the Fed or anyone else to come up with a plan that makes this financial crisis just go away will be sorely disappointed.


Posted on: December 16, 2007 09:43 AM | Link: How will it all end? | Comments: (0)

And there you have it.

I have been reading Stephen S. Roach for a couple of years now and I think he is a guy who takes what he does seriously and is pretty good at it. Rumors I have read on the web say he was farmed out to Asia by Morgan Stanley because he was increasingly bearish. I don't know if there is any truth in that, but here is his take on the future:

THE American economy is slipping into its second post-bubble recession in seven years. Just as the bursting of the dot-com bubble led to a downturn in 2001 and ’02, the simultaneous popping of the housing and credit bubbles is doing the same right now.

This recession will be deeper than the shallow contraction earlier in this decade. The dot-com-led downturn was set off by a collapse in business capital spending, which at its peak in 2000 accounted for only 13 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. The current recession is all about the coming capitulation of the American consumer — whose spending now accounts for a record 72 percent of G.D.P.

Consumers have no choice other than to retrench. Home prices are likely to fall for the nation as a whole in 2008, the first such occurrence since 1933. And access to home equity credit lines and mortgage refinancing — the means by which consumers have borrowed against their homes — is likely to be impaired by the aftershocks of the subprime crisis.

Consumers will have to resort to spending and saving the old-fashioned way, relying on income rather than assets even as mounting layoffs will make income growth increasingly sluggish.

For the rest of the world, this will come as a rude awakening. America’s recession is likely to shift from homebuilding activity, its least global sector, to consumer demand, its most global.

There is hope that young consumers from rapidly growing developing economies can fill the void left by weakness in American consumers. Don’t count on it. American consumers spent close to $9.5 trillion over the last year. Chinese consumers spent around $1 trillion and Indians spent $650 billion. It is almost mathematically impossible for China and India to offset a pullback in American consumption.

America’s central bank has mismanaged the biggest risk of our times. Ever since the equity bubble began forming in the late 1990s, the Federal Reserve has been ignoring, if not condoning, excesses in asset markets. That negligence has allowed the United States to lurch from bubble to bubble.

Fixated on the narrow “core inflation” rate, which excludes the necessities of food and energy, the Fed has ignored new and powerful linkages that have developed between economic activity and increasingly risky financial markets.

Over time, America’s bubbles have gotten bigger, as have the segments of the real economy they have infected. The Fed needs to rethink its reckless, bubble-prone policy. Once the current crisis subsides, the economy will require the tight money of higher interest rates — the only hope America has for breaking the lethal chain of endless asset bubbles.

Posted on: December 16, 2007 09:36 AM | Link: And there you have it. | Comments: (0)

December 06, 2007

Sign O' The Times

2for1.jpg

I just had to post this here - hat tip to Atrios and HousingDoom

Notice the other smaller sign - Lennar - I guess with a development in the same neighborhood.

Posted on: December 6, 2007 12:08 PM | Link: Sign O' The Times | Comments: (0)

December 05, 2007

MBIA Shares Drop After Moody's Says Capital in Doubt

This is a must read - "MBIA Shares Drop After Moody's Says Capital in Doubt".

Some of the richer passages:

"The loss of MBIA's top ranking would cast doubt over the ratings of $652 billion of state, municipal and structured finance bonds that the company guarantees.

"It's Moody's firing a warning shot saying 'you have two weeks, so do something,''' said Paul Berliner, a trader at Schottenfeld Group, which manages $100 million in New York. "The drama behind MBIA and Ambac should be the most important focus for the entire financial sector right now. Everyone should be on the edge of their seats wondering how this plays out.''"

$653 billion at risk! That is more than anyone has owned up to so far, combined, if my memory isn't shot. Shit, meet fan. Of course the market is rallying hard today... ho hum.

Posted on: December 5, 2007 04:09 PM | Link: MBIA Shares Drop After Moody's Says Capital in Doubt | Comments: (0)

December 04, 2007

If you were worried about the economy...

Then maybe you shouldn't read this.

A high(low?)light:

"While it is still open for debate as to whether the overall economy will tip into a contractionary state in the coming year, it became more evident this week that the housing recession is morphing into an outright depression. Over the past year, existing home sales have collapsed 21% and at the same time the unsold inventory has risen over 15%. That is a brew for sustained deflation in residential real estate as the supply curve continuously shifts to the right and the demand curve to the left. To think that over the past year we have seen the inventory backlog soar from around 7 months' supply to 10.8 months now — it's unfathomable. Prices on average are off 5% YoY and the inventory situation has worsened materially — to their highest level nationwide in 22 years, having already broken above the worst levels of the 1991 meltdown. We believe another 10% downward move in real estate valuation is now a conservative estimate, and to think of the instability in the credit markets that the first 5% down created; more to come, that's all we can say."

We are in the beginning stages of a kind of thing that only happens 4 or 5 times in a persons life span, if that. This is Merrill Lynch - the guys dying to sell you some stocks - not some left-wing economics professor. Couple the exhaustive Merrill report with this nugget:

"Much has been made of E*Trade Financial’s recent fire sale, in which it sold a basket of asset-backed securities with a book value of $3 billion to Citadel Investment Group for just $800 million. Many have debated whether or not this deal — nominally priced at 27 cents on the dollar — sets a price floor for collateralized debt obligations and other securities tied to subprime mortgages, whose value has been notoriously hard to pin down.

The case has been made, often persuasively, that E*Trade was getting rid of particularly toxic assets while under duress, so the deal is hardly a bellwether for other banks and securities firms.

But here is a point worth considering: Only about $450 million of E*Trade’s $3 billion portfolio was made up of the riskiest kinds of securities — C.D.O.’s and second-lien mortgages — that have made headlines recently.

What was the other $2.6 billion or so? In E*Trade’s own words, it was “other asset-backed securities, mainly securities backed by prime residential first-lien mortgages.”

In other words, E*Trade’s enormous haircut went far beyond subprime.

A large part of E*Trade’s basket of assets was securities backed by high-quality mortgages — loans to homeowners with strong credit ratings and reasonably large equity cushions. That could raise troubling questions on Wall Street about the true value of “prime” mortgage assets, especially when they need to be liquidated in a hurry."

So - I was a tad early in my recession call - but I am going to blame that on the zeitgeist. If you didn't feel this coming you weren't alive.

More foolish predictions - in the face of another rate cut from the fed the dollar stabilizes around this level and actually begins to rebound as the ECB and the UK start to cut their interest rates in the face of the coming global slowdown.


Posted on: December 4, 2007 06:49 PM | Link: If you were worried about the economy... | Comments: (0)

November 29, 2007

Professor Roubini on Country Wide Financial

From Nouriel Roubini's Global EconoMonitor:

"The letter by Senator Schumer questioning the $51.1 billion that Countrywide borrowed from the Federal Home Loan Bank system (specifically the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta) has finally revealed the little dirty secret - that was known only to a few insiders and was noticed on this blog a month ago – that Countrywide, the largest US mortgage lender, has received a massive stealth public bailout that has put at severe risk taxpayers’ money. Here is Countrywide - the premier poster child financial institution of the reckless and predatory lending practices of the last few years – getting in severe financial trouble because of its rotten lending practice in subprime, near-prime and prime mortgages – and whose CEO Mozilo is under SEC investigation for potentially illegal activities – now receiving a massive $51.1 billion of public bailout money with little official supervision of such lending. Mozilo is under investigation for his accelerated sales of Countrywide stock under a 10b5-1 plan. Mozilo has made more than $100 million on stock sales this year, while Countrywide shares collapsed more than 50%...

...The lesson of this sad and sleazy episode is that when profits are privatized and losses are socialized we get sleaze capitalism and corporate welfare that becomes public bailout of reckless lenders. All this from a US administration that hypocritically praises every other day the virtues of private markets capitalism. For all of us who do truly believe in free market economies where a variety of public goods are provided by governments and the financial sector is properly supervised and regulate this is not a capitalist system but rather socialism for the rich."

There it is in a nutshell - this situation is a microcosm of what is wrong in the US right now. News about Schumer's letter here.

Posted on: November 29, 2007 09:12 AM | Link: Professor Roubini on Country Wide Financial | Comments: (0)

November 26, 2007

One of Miami-Dade’s Largest Defaults Of All Time

I don't get any joy out of these stories - I just think you have to know what is out there though so you can plan accordingly. Tonight, as I was in my evening rant about just what the hell is happening around the globe financially and wondering what we might have to do to make a living, possibly in the very near future, my wife asked me how bad did I think it could get. My reply was that nobody knows - but that it would have to be at the least as bad as the S&L mess - and probably much worse. Then I read this:

"The developers of Downtown Dadeland are walking away from the massive mixed-use project in Kendall and handing over the unfinished complex to construction lender Goldman Sachs Commercial Mortgage.

Gulfside Development principals Jackson Ward and Stefan Johansson say they can no longer afford to make payments on the $224 million construction loan and won’t fight a foreclosure suit filed two weeks ago in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.

The project’s failure is the largest yet in the current real estate downturn, which has hit the overdeveloped condo market especially hard.

The development across the street from Dadeland Mall was planned to have 416 condos and 125,000 square feet of retail space in seven mid-rise buildings. Four of the towers were completed this year, but three still need some minor construction work before closings can start. The project was the centerpiece of redevelopment along Southwest 88th Street near U.S. 1.

“If not the largest one, it is one of the largest defaults in all time in Miami-Dade County,” said David Dabby, president of Coral Gables-based real estate research firm Dabby Group.

Defaults during the savings and loan crisis in the late 1980s and early 1990s were generally under $50 million, he said."

I was never good at math - but $224 million is a lot more that $50 million. How many of these projects are out there? At the least hundreds - maybe thousands? Maybe tens of thousands? It would be interesting to see the numbers on these kinds of projects - not just in the US but world wide.

Posted on: November 26, 2007 07:28 PM | Link: One of Miami-Dade’s Largest Defaults Of All Time | Comments: (0)

November 08, 2007

Some new links

Added a couple of things to the blog roll today - The Big Picture by Barry Ritholtz and Calculated Risk by these two fellas.

I am not a huge fan of Ritholtz the person - but his blog always has a lot of great info and he is tireless in pumping it out every day.

Calculated Risk is very interesting and required if you want to follow the mortgage mess. I think the authors are more on my plane of thought also.

Posted on: November 8, 2007 11:36 AM | Link: Some new links | Comments: (0)

I mean WTF?

This crap is getting harder and harder to believe:

NEW YORK (CNN) -- U.S. safety officials have voluntarily recalled about 4.2 million Chinese-made Aqua Dots toys contaminated with a powerful "date rape" drug that has caused some children to vomit and lose consciousness upon ingesting the contents.

Scientists have found the highly popular holiday toy contains a chemical that, once metabolized, converts into the toxic "date rape" drug GHB (gamma-hydroxy butyrate), U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) spokesman Scott Wolfson told CNN.

"Children who swallow the beads can become comatose, develop respiratory depression or have seizures," a CPSC statement warned.

"Anyone with Aqua Dots at home should throw them out," CPSC spokeswoman Julie Vallese said. The toy was named toy of the year in Australia and recently made Wal-Mart Store Inc's list of top 12 Christmas toys.

Wal-Mart on Thursday listed Aqua Dots on its Web site as "out of stock online" and had removed the toy from its top toy list as well.

The arts and craft beads, aimed at children four years and older, have been selling since April at major U.S. retail stores as "Aqua Dots" and in Australia under the name "Bindeez Beads."

Toronto-based toy distributor Spin Master Ltd. stopped shipping the Aqua Dots toys and asked retailers to pull them off their shelves, where they had sold for $17-$30.

Posted on: November 8, 2007 05:53 AM | Link: I mean WTF? | Comments: (0)

October 07, 2007

Closure

A truly awful word that somehow has made the leap from courtrooms to every day use in America.

http://www.textonly.com/images/gywo.closure-thumb.gif

Posted on: October 7, 2007 06:09 PM | Link: Closure | Comments: (0)

Yglesias on Press The Meat

Yglesias:

"...they concluded that his Powers of 9/11 Awesomeness must just be too great for the truth the penetrate."

I think "Powers of 9/11 Awesomeness" could be a new comic strip in the vein of "get your war on" by David Rees. It would be funny - if it wasn't all so awful.

Posted on: October 7, 2007 06:02 PM | Link: Yglesias on Press The Meat | Comments: (0)

September 26, 2007

Why are men happier than women?

This is just plain stupid:

"Krueger's data, for instance, show that the average time devoted to dusting has fallen significantly in recent decades. There haven't been any dust-related technological breakthroughs, so houses are probably just dirtier than they used to be."

30, 40 years ago, when I was kid, nobody I knew had a someone else clean their house - that was for "rich" people. Now, most married women work, and one of the things they do with the wages they earn is hire someone to dust. I don't know a lot about these studies, the methodologies, etc. - but come on, stating something like the above, that "houses are probably just dirtier than they used to be" after citing all this "data" is just idiotic.

Posted on: September 26, 2007 05:24 PM | Link: Why are men happier than women? | Comments: (0)

September 21, 2007

The Four Day Work Week

Interesting article "The Four Day Work Week: Sixteen Reasons Why This Might Be an Idea Whose Time Has Come", including this staggering observation:

"133,000,000 workers X 80% who drive alone = 106,400,000 single driver commuter cars each day.

106,400,000 X 32 miles round trip = 3,404,800,000 miles driven to work each day

3,404,800,000 / 21 mpg (average fuel efficiency) = 162,133,333 gallons of gasoline each day

Each barrel of crude oil produces, on average, 19.5 gallons of gas. (It is important to note that other products like kerosene and asphalt are produced from that same barrel.)

162,133,333 / 19.5 = 8,314,530 barrels of oil each day."

Over 106 million people a day drive to work alone in the US every day. Unbelievable!

Posted on: September 21, 2007 09:26 AM | Link: The Four Day Work Week | Comments: (0)

September 10, 2007

Reality commands...

you to read Kunstler:

"Reality commands that we prepare to rebuild our small towns and small cities and downsize our gigantic metroplexes. Reality commands that we get serious about local food production and local economies. Reality commands that we rebuild the kind of public transit that people will be grateful to travel on. Reality commands that we prepare to rebuild our harbor facilities for a revival of maritime trade, using ships and boats that do not necessarily run on oil. Reality commands that we put an end to legalized gambling, in order for the public to re-learn one of the primary rules of adult life -- that we generally should not expect to get something for nothing."

Posted on: September 10, 2007 09:07 AM | Link: Reality commands... | Comments: (0)

August 29, 2007

Inside the Countrywide Lending Spree

This article reads like the details of a criminal organization. Where is the government on this story? Who is in charge of this industry? The housing market is only beginning to crumble - I don't see how Countrywide doesn't go bankrupt.

"Inside the Countrywide Lending Spree" »

Posted on: August 29, 2007 07:51 AM | Link: Inside the Countrywide Lending Spree | Comments: (0)

August 06, 2007

What farce, then

This is good:

"What farce, then, to give credence to current debate as to whether private equity and hedge fund managers will be properly incented if Congress moves to raise their taxes up to levels paid by the majority of America’s middle class. What pretense to assert, as did Kenneth Griffin, recipient last year of more than $1 billion in compensation as manager of the Citadel Investment Group, that "the (current) income distribution has to stand. If the tax became too high, as a matter of principle I would not be working this hard." Right. In the same breath he tells, Louis Uchitelle of The New York Times that the get-rich crowd "soon discover that wealth is not a particularly satisfying outcome." The team at Citadel, he claims, "loves the problems they work on and the challenges inherent to their business." Oh what a delicate/tangled web we weave sir. Far better to admit, as has Warren Buffett, that the tax rates of the wealthiest Americans average nearly 15% while those of their salaried and therefore less incented assistants just outside their offices are nearly twice that. Far better to recognize, as does Chart 1, that only twice before during the last century has such a high percentage of national income (5%) gone to the top .01% of American families. Far better to understand, to quote Buffett, that "society should place an initial emphasis on abundance but then should continuously strive to redistribute the abundance more equitably."

Posted on: August 6, 2007 05:12 AM | Link: What farce, then | Comments: (0)

July 27, 2007

AWOL

Yes - just too busy with work and the summer to post - but here are a couple of headlines I have had open for days:

Countrywide: "Home price depreciation at levels not seen since the Great Depression" which includes the quote: "Company is seeing home price depreciation at levels not seen since the Great Depression"... wow.

And from the LA Times: "Foreclosures in state hit record high"

Posted on: July 27, 2007 11:42 AM | Link: AWOL | Comments: (0)

June 25, 2007

A Chart

mags_diary21_retail_graph_2.jpg

America. For years, I have been telling people that all America means anymore is "more crap, cheaper". That is hard to quantify, and hard to get your head around sometimes, but a simple chart like the above paints an almost surreal picture - especially if you think that the America of 2007 is a normal environment. We have been living abroad more of less for about 7 years now, the last 2 in Europe. Here is the simple take away - the big downside in Europe is that "things" are more expensive - clothes, toys, stuff for you house maybe, etc. Otherwise - the quality of life overall seems well above what Americans are getting now. Better and free health care, more vacation time, better public transportation, more engaged communities, better consumer rights, fresher and healthier food, etc. Europe has it problems, no doubt. Much of Europe thinks Americanizing their economies and even their life styles is going to improve their lot. I don't think a ten-fold increase in retail space is going to get you anything positive. Unfortunately it seems the groups most interested in America are not "Europeans" per se, but immigrants to European countries - and European politicians looking for quick economic and social fixes. I can understand the lure of America - you can start with nothing and make something (or at least you could in the old days) - and that is a powerful draw for many people who can not get a chance anywhere else in the world. But the America of 2007 is suddenly a broken place, a place out of step with the world. More shopping is not going to fix it.

Posted on: June 25, 2007 07:09 PM | Link: A Chart | Comments: (0)

June 15, 2007

Couple of must reads

We are getting ready for the summer sojourn to NJ - so in place of any original thought, I give you these:

  • Chris Matthews on Fred Thompson's sexiness and smells - from the (unintentionally?) hilarious Glenn Greenwald at Salon.

  • A Series of Unfortunate Events - from the Editors at The Poor Man Institute

    Posted on: June 15, 2007 09:37 AM | Link: Couple of must reads | Comments: (0)

  • June 04, 2007

    What's Happening Brother

    Hey baby, what'cha know good
    I'm just gettin' back, but you knew I would
    War is hell, when will it end,
    When will people start gettin' together again
    Are things really gettin' better, like the newspaper said
    What else is new my friend, besides what I read
    Can't find no work, can't find no job my friend
    Money is tighter than it's ever been
    Say man, I just don't understand
    What's going on across this land
    Ah what's happening brother,
    Oh ya, what's happening my man
    Are they still gettin' down where we used to go and dance
    Will our ball club win the pennant,
    do you think they have a chance
    And tell me friend, how in the world have you been.
    Tell me what's out and I want to know what's in.
    What's the deal man, what's happening
    What's happening brother
    Ah what's happening brother
    What's happening my man
    Ah what's happening brother
    What's been shaken up and down the line
    I want to know cause I'm slightly behind the time.

    Posted on: June 4, 2007 11:27 AM | Link: What's Happening Brother | Comments: (0)

    June 02, 2007

    "We are not anyway near a bottom in Residential Real Estate."

    I have to agree with that quote from "The Big Picture". They also have some amazing charts, that speak for themselves:

    new_homes_months_sale_complete.png

    inv_unsold_houses.png

    sp_case_shiller.png

    Posted on: June 2, 2007 03:44 AM | Link: "We are not anyway near a bottom in Residential Real Estate." | Comments: (0)

    May 31, 2007

    It's the economy, stupid

    U.S. Economic Growth Weakest in Over 4 Years

    The government cut in half its estimate of economic growth in the first quarter, reporting the slowest rate of expansion since the end of 2002.

    Before today’s numbers were released by the Commerce Department, it was clear the economy was downshifting from the rapid 5.6 percent expansion of the first quarter last year. But the new data reinforced how significant the slowdown has been.

    Growth advanced just 0.6 percent, compared with an initial estimate of 1.3 percent. The chief reasons for the revisions were adjustments to the estimates of imports and business inventories. Imports, which subtract from the gross domestic product, were stronger than the government first thought. At the same time, businesses cut production and accumulated smaller inventory stockpiles.

    Despite the adjustments to the growth figures, inflation in the first quarter was essentially unrevised. Prices excluding food and energy, a measure preferred by the Federal Reserve, advanced by 2.2 percent in the first quarter, still above what the central bank has said it considers acceptable.

    So - the only sector performing well is exports - not surprising since the dollar is worth shit. Inflation - minus food & energy (only the two most important daily needs - gas and cheese burgers!) - was at 2.2 percent! That is 8.8 annually (Mr. and Mrs. hourly worker, can you feel the money shrinking in your wallet?). And growth is almost non-existent - even with all the war spending.

    But there were some revisions to the numbers that economists said they found to be encouraging. Consumer spending, the staple of economic growth for the last decade, was revised higher.

    No shit - stuff costs more now!

    Most economists agree that the first quarter was probably a low point for the last several years, and they expect the economy has regained some strength in the second quarter.

    So why doesn't this article use the word "recession"? And why expect recovery in the second quarter?

    This is a mess. We are in a recession, people are out of money for the most part, the housing market is going to collapse in most of the country. The last 18 months of this administration are going to be very, very, long.

    Posted on: May 31, 2007 05:16 PM | Link: It's the economy, stupid | Comments: (0)

    May 24, 2007

    This is good news?

    "The Commerce Department said new single-family home sales rose 16.2 percent in April, ahead of economists' forecasts, though prices fell a record 11 percent in the same period."

    Emphasis mine. The media seem to think this story is a positive. The market heading south today tells the true story. The record fall in prices is what matters here - not the percentage rise in sales. The housing market is starting to crumble. Smell the fear...

    Posted on: May 24, 2007 04:25 PM | Link: This is good news? | Comments: (0)

    May 16, 2007

    Digby!

    Last night's Republican debate:

    "John McCain is the only adult on that stage and that scares the living hell out of me considering that he's half nuts too. Wow."

    Posted on: May 16, 2007 04:00 PM | Link: Digby! | Comments: (0)

    May 03, 2007

    A picture...


    pers_income_apr07.gif

    Or in this case a chart - is worth a 1,000 words. The red line? Yes - personal savings. Negative for the first time in the history of the United States. That pervasive feeling of "something not good" happening continues to grow.

    Posted on: May 3, 2007 08:35 PM | Link: A picture... | Comments: (0)

    April 27, 2007

    Did somebody say...

    recession? Oh - that was me, last week. Here is today's news:

    "The euro hit $1.3682, shooting past its previous high of $1.3667 from December 2004, after the U.S. Commerce Department reported that economic growth slowed to a 1.3 percent annual rate in the first quarter, its weakest performance in four years."

    That paragraph is part of this headline: "Euro Rises to Record High Versus Dollar"

    Ouch to all of us patriots living abroad.

    Posted on: April 27, 2007 01:01 PM | Link: Did somebody say... | Comments: (0)

    These people...

    have no idea what they are talking about... and should never be listened to again:

    fouryearslater1.jpg

    Posted on: April 27, 2007 05:17 AM | Link: These people... | Comments: (0)

    April 18, 2007

    Recession 07

    I know predictions are for fools, but I just want to put a marker on this. I think the U.S. economy is in a recession NOW - and probably has been since around January 2007. The data will follow, but everything anecdotal that I can see, as it relates to what I do for a living, and through reading the U.S. economic news, is trending down. I would like to look back a year from now and laugh at how wrong this post is - but I don't think I will be doing that... we'll see.

    Posted on: April 18, 2007 06:01 AM | Link: Recession 07 | Comments: (1)

    April 02, 2007

    WOW

    "CNN's loss is CBS' election coverage gain: Veteran reporter and analyst Jeff Greenfield is leaving the cable news channel to work as senior political correspondent for CBS News... He's known for his sharp political and media analysis as well as his wry perspective on events."

    Hidden behind an AP byline - what kind of sick, demented, person could write such a thing? What he's known for, to anyone with a working brain, is for being an asshole.

    Posted on: April 2, 2007 05:07 PM | Link: WOW | Comments: (0)

    March 11, 2007

    Forbes 2007 list: Nearly one thousand billionaires in the world, a misfortune for humanity

    I don't think people should not be allowed to get rich - but they should at least pay their fair share of taxes (which doesn't seem to happen in the U.S.) and not profit like pigs when most of the world (or their country in particular) is poor. Anyway, and interesting take on the Forbes list:

    "By David Walsh – World Socialist Web Sites

    Forbes magazine released its annual list of billionaires Thursday. There are now nearly one thousand billionaires worldwide—946 to be exact, according to the magazine’s calculations—and their combined wealth in the past year grew by 35 percent to $3.5 trillion.

    The latter figure is larger than the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of every nation in the world with the exception of the US, China, Japan and India. The combined GDP of all the countries in Africa, a continent of nearly one billion people, was some $2.3 trillion in 2005. More than a third of the African population lives on less than $1 a day. The combined GDP of South America’s largest trading bloc, Mercosur, whose full members are Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela, is $1.1 trillion.

    "Forbes 2007 list: Nearly one thousand billionaires in the world, a misfortune for humanity" »

    Posted on: March 11, 2007 05:48 AM | Link: Forbes 2007 list: Nearly one thousand billionaires in the world, a misfortune for humanity | Comments: (1)

    February 27, 2007

    Financial news

    Usually the daily finance headlines are completely separated from reality - the market goes up or down, and journalists somehow tie the direction of said market into some other headline of the day - when the headline itself should have no bearing on the market at all. Today, when the DOW was down over 500 points at one time, CNN epitomized this phenomenon with this copy:

    "News that Vice President Dick Cheney was the apparent target in a Taliban suicide bombing attack in Afghanistan added to the day's worries."

    Earth to CNN, and Alexandra Twin, CNNMoney.com senior writer: the day Cheney is blown up by anyone there will be world wide euphoria and dancing in the streets as stock indexes soar. The "near miss" had NOTHING to do with what the stock market did today. Why does the media have to tie these things together?

    Maybe what she meant to say was:

    "News that Vice President Dick Cheney was not killed in a Taliban suicide bombing attack in Afghanistan added to the day's worries."

    Posted on: February 27, 2007 06:06 PM | Link: Financial news | Comments: (1)

    February 25, 2007

    That Digby...

    sure is funny. I am not supposed to curse here, but Digby can:

    "I think he missed the boat here. A much better analogy would be to imagine what would happen if a shrunken little creep like Michael Medved entered a woman's gym naked, blowing kisses through his pathetic 70's porn star mustache. I would bet a million dollars that all the women, including the fat ones, would sooner fuck a corpse than that deplorable racist, sexist, homophobic jerk."

    In reference to this completely insane commentary.

    Posted on: February 25, 2007 08:03 PM | Link: That Digby... | Comments: (0)

    January 25, 2007

    The Vice President is insane...

    Does it bother you that the Vice President of the United States is a pathological liar? That he might very well be insane? A lot of the below is simply surreal:

    CNN Interview with Vice President Dick Cheney:

    Q And joining us now, the Vice President of the United States, Dick Cheney. Mr. Vice President, thanks very much for doing this.

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: It's good to see you again, Wolf.

    Q We heard the President mention Osama bin Laden last night in his State of the Union address. Why can't you find this guy?

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, obviously, he's well hidden. We've been looking for him for some time. I think the fact is he's gone totally to ground. He doesn't communicate, except, perhaps, by courier. He's not up on the air. He's not putting out videos, the way he did oftentimes in the past.

    Q His number two, Ayman al Zawahiri is --

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: Zawahiri is much, much more visible. Yes.

    Q I mean, he's on television almost as much as I am.

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I don't know if anybody is on as much as you are, Wolf -- but he's more of a public figure than Osama is. If you've ever been in that part of the world, it is some of the most rugged territory imaginable. I've flown over it, been on the ground in Afghanistan, Pakistan, up along the Khyber Pass and so forth. And that general area is a remarkably difficult area to get people into -- parts of it have never really been controlled by anybody.

    Q Is bin Laden still alive?

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: I think so.
    Q And do you think he's in Pakistan, Afghanistan, on the border someplace?

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don't want to be that precise.

    Q Because this is so frustrating to so many people, more than five years after 9/11 -- not only that bin Laden is out there, but that his deputy pops up every now and then on television and makes these threats.

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes, but look what we have done. We have not gotten Osama bin Laden, obviously, because he's very careful and, say, he doesn't communicate and he's not sort of in direct contact on a regular basis. But we've taken out several times that whole layer of leadership underneath Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri. One of the most dangerous jobs in the world is to be number three in the al Qaeda organization, because a lot of them are now dead or in custody. So we've done a lot of damage to that senior leadership, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and many others, as well, too.

    Q The criticism is that you took your eye off the ball by going into Iraq and, in effect, reducing the focus of attention on al Qaeda and bin Laden.

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: It's just not true. I've heard that charge; it's simply not true, Wolf. The fact of the matter is we can do more than one thing at a time, and we have. And we've been very successful with going after al Qaeda. They're still out there, they're still a formidable force, but they're not nearly as formidable as they once were in terms of numbers and so forth. We have successfully defended the country for over five years against any further attacks.

    They've tried, we know, repeatedly -- the President talked about it last night in his speech -- we know they tried last summer to capture airliners coming out of the U.K. and to blow them up over the United States or over the Atlantic. There have been numerous attacks that have been disrupted. It's been a remarkable performance by the U.S. military, by our intelligence services and everything else.

    If you had asked shortly after 9/11 what the odds were that we could go better than five years without another attack on the homeland, I don't think anybody would have been willing to take that bet. The fact is, we've been enormously successful in that regard. We still, obviously, want to get Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri, but we've had great success against al Qaeda.

    Q Here's what the President said last night:

    "We could expect an epic battle between Shia extremists backed by Iran and Sunni extremists aided by al Qaeda and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country and, in time, the entire region could be drawn into the conflict. For America, this is a nightmare scenario."

    He was talking about the consequences of failure in Iraq. How much responsibility do you have, though -- do you and the administration for this potential scenario?

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, you know, this is a argument that there wouldn't be any problem if we hadn't gone into Iraq. Now --

    Q Saddam Hussein would still be in power.

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: Saddam Hussein would still be in power. He would, at this point, be engaged in a nuclear arms race with Ahmadinejad, his blood enemy next door in Iran --

    Q But he was being contained as we all know --

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: He was not being contained. He was not being contained, Wolf.

    Q -- by the no-fly zones in the north and the south.

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: Wolf, the entire sanctions regime had been undermined by Saddam Hussein. He had --

    Q But he didn't have stockpiles of weapons of --

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: -- corrupted the entire effort to try to keep him contained. He was bribing senior officials of other governments. The oil-for-food program had been totally undermined, and he had, in fact, produced and used weapons of mass destruction previously, and he retained the capability to produce that kind of stuff in the future.

    Q But that was in the '80s.

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: You can go back and argue the whole thing all over again, Wolf, but what we did in Iraq in taking down Saddam Hussein was exactly the right thing to do; the world is much safer today because of it. There have been three national elections in Iraq, there's a democracy established there, a constitution, a new democratically elected government, Saddam has been brought to justice and executed, his sons are dead, his government is gone and the world is better off for it.

    Now, you can argue about that all you want, but that's history, that's what we did. And you and I can have this debate -- we've had it before -- but the fact of the matter is, in terms of threats to the United States from al Qaeda, for example, attacks on the United States, they didn't need an excuse. We weren't in Iraq when they hit us on 9/11.

    Q But the current situation there is --

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: But the fact of the matter was -- the fact of the matter was that al Qaeda was out to kill Americans before we ever went into Iraq.

    Q The current situation there is very unstable.

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: It is.

    Q The President himself speaks about a nightmare scenario right now. He was contained, as you repeatedly said throughout the '90s, after the first Gulf War, in a box, Saddam Hussein.

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, he was after the first Gulf War -- had managed -- he kicked out all the inspectors. He was providing payments to the families of suicide bombers. He was a safe haven for terror, was one of the prime state sponsors of terror, as designated by our State Department, for a long time. He'd started two wars. He had violated 16 U.N. Security Council resolutions. If he were still there today, we'd have a terrible situation. Today, instead --

    Q But there is a terrible situation.

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: No, there is not. There is not. There's problems, ongoing problems, but we have, in fact, accomplished our objectives of getting rid of the old regime, and there is a new regime in place that's been there for less than a year, far too soon for you guys to write them off. They have got a democratically written constitution, first ever in that part of the world. They've had three national elections. So there's been a lot of success.

    Q How worried are you --

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: We still have more work to do to get a handle on the security situation, but the President has put a plan in place to do that.

    Q How worried are you of this nightmare scenario, that the U.S. is building up this Shiite-dominated Iraqi government with an enormous amount of military equipment, sophisticated training, and then in the end, they're going to turn against the United States?

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: Wolf, that's not going to happen. The problem that you've got --

    Q Very -- very -- warming up to Iran and Syria right now.

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: Wolf, you can come up with all kinds of what-ifs. You've got to deal with the reality on the ground. The reality on the ground is, we've made major progress, we've still got a lot of work to do. There are a lot of provinces in Iraq that are relatively quiet. There's more and more authority transferred to the Iraqis all the time.

    But the biggest problem we face right now is the danger that the United States will validate the terrorist strategy, that, in fact, what will happen here with all of the debate over whether or not we ought to stay in Iraq, with the pressures from some quarters to get out of Iraq, if we were to do that, we would simply validate the terrorists' strategy that says the Americans will not stay to complete the task --

    Q Here's the Nouri al Maliki --

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: -- that we don't have the stomach for the fight.

    Q Here's the problem.

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: That's the biggest threat right now.

    Q Here's the problem that I see, and tell me if I'm wrong -- that he seems to be more interested right now, the Prime Minister of Iraq, in establishing good relations with Iran and Syria than he is with moderate Arab governments, whether in Jordan or Egypt or Saudi Arabia.

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: I just think you're wrong, Wolf. He's been working with all of them. They're all in the neighborhood. He's got to develop relationships with all of them, and he is.

    Q Because he's a Shia, and these moderate Arab governments are Sunni.

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: He's also an Iraqi. He's not a Persian. There's a big difference between the Persians and the Arabs, although they're both Shia. You can't just make the simple statement that he's Shia, therefore he's the enemy. The majority of the population in Iraq is Shia. And for the first time, we've had elections, and majority rule will prevail there. But the notion that somehow the effort hasn't been worth it, or that we shouldn't go ahead and complete the task, is just dead wrong.

    Q Here's what Jim Webb, senator from Virginia, said in his Democratic response last night. He said:

    "The President took us into the war recklessly. We are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable and predicted disarray that has followed."

    And it's not just Jim Webb, it's some of your good Republican friends in the Senate and the House, are now seriously questioning your credibility because of the blunders, of the failures. All right, Gordon Smith --

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: Wolf, Wolf, I simply don't accept the premise of your question. I just think it's hogwash. Remember --

    Q What, that there were no blunders? The President himself says there were blunders --

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: Remember, remember me -- remember with me what happened in Afghanistan. The United States was actively involved in Afghanistan in the '80s supporting the effort against the Soviets. The Mujahideen prevailed, everybody walked away. And in Afghanistan, within relatively short order, the Taliban came to power, they created a safe haven for al Qaeda, training camps were established where some 20,000 terrorists trained in the late '90s. And out of that, out of Afghanistan, because we walked away and ignored it, we had the attack on the USS Cole, the attack on the embassies in East Africa, and 9/11, where the people trained and planned in Afghanistan for that attack and killed 3,000 Americans. That is what happens when we walk away from a situation like that in the Middle East.

    Now you might have been able to do that before 9/11. But after 9/11, we learned that we have a vested interest in what happens on the ground in the Middle East. Now, if you are going to walk away from Iraq today and say, well, gee, it's too tough, we can't complete the task, we just are going to quit, you'll create exactly that same kind of situation again.

    Now, the critics have not suggested a policy. They haven't put anything in place. All they want to do, all they've recommended is to redeploy or to withdraw our forces. The fact is, we can complete the task in Iraq. We're going to do it. We've got Petraeus -- General Petraeus taking over. It is a good strategy. It will work. But we have to have the stomach to finish the task.

    Q What if the Senate passes a resolution saying, this is not a good idea. Will that stop you?

    VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: It won't stop us, and it would be, I think detrimental from the standpoint of the troops, as General Petraeus said yesterday. He was asked by Joe Lieberman, among others, in his testimony, about this notion that somehow the Senate could vote overwhelmingly for him, send him on his new assignment, and then pass a resolution at the same time and say, but we don't agree with the mission you've been given.

    Q So you're moving forward no matter what the consequences?

    VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: We are moving forward. We are moving forward. The Congress has control over the purse strings. They have the right, obviously, if they want, to cut off funding. But in terms of this effort, the President has made his decision. We've consulted extensively with them. We'll continue to consult with the Congress. But the fact of the matter is, we need to get the job done. I think General Petraeus can do it. I think our troops can do it. And I think it's far too soon for the talking heads on television to conclude that it's impossible to do, it's not going to work, it can't possibly succeed.

    Q What was the biggest mistake you made?

    VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: Oh, I think in terms of mistakes, I think we underestimated the extent to which 30 years of Saddam's rule had really hammered the population, especially the Shia population, into submissiveness. It was very hard for them to stand up and take responsibility in part because anybody who had done that in the past had had their heads chopped off.

    Q Do you trust Nouri al Maliki?

    VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: I do. At this point, I don't have any reason not to trust him.

    Q Is he going to go after Muqtada al Sadr, this anti-American --

    VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: I think --

    Q -- Shiite cleric who controls the Mahdi army?

    VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: I think he has demonstrated -- I think he has demonstrated a willingness to take on any elements that violate the law.

    Q Do you want him to arrest Muqtada al Sadr?

    VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: He has been -- he has been active just in recent weeks in going after the Mahdi army. There have been some 600 of them arrested within the last couple of days.

    Q Should he be arrested, Muqtada al Sadr?

    VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: That's a decision that's got to be made --

    Q Because as you know, the first U.S. general there, Ricardo Sanchez, said, this guy killed Americans, he has blood on his hands, he was wanted, basically, dead or alive. Whatever happened to that?

    VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: Wolf, you've got to let Nouri al Maliki deal with the situation as he sees fit. And I think he will.

    Q Do you think he's going to go after the Mahdi army?

    VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: I think he will go after all of those elements in Iraq that are violating the law, that are contributing to sectarian violence. They're criminal elements, they're Baathist former regime elements. All of them have to be the target of the effort. He'll have a lot of help, because he'll have 160,000 U.S. forces there to work alongside the Iraqis to get the job done.

    Q Here's the problem that you have -- the administration -- credibility in Congress with the American public, because of the mistakes, because of the previous statements, the last throes, the comment you made a year-and-a-half ago, the insurgency was in its last throes. How do you build up that credibility because so many of these Democrats, and a lot of Republicans now are saying they don't believe you anymore?

    VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: Well, Wolf, if the history books were written by people who have -- are so eager to write off this effort, to declare it a failure, including many of our friends in the media, the situation obviously would have been over a long time ago. Bottom line is that we've had enormous successes, and we will continue to have enormous successes. It is hard. It is difficult. It's one of the toughest things any President has to do. It's easy to stick your finger in the air and figure out which way the winds are blowing and then try to get in front of the herd. This President doesn't work that way. He also -- be very clear in terms of providing leadership going forward for what we need to do in Iraq.

    Now, fact is, this is a vitally important piece of business. It needs to be done. The consequences of our not completing the task are enormous. Just think for a minute -- and think for a minute, Wolf, in terms of what policy is being suggested here. What you're recommending, or at least what you seem to believe the right course is, is to bail out --

    Q I'm just asking questions.

    VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: No, you're not asking questions.

    Q Yes, I am. I'm just asking --

    VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: Implicit -- implicit -- implicit in the critics --

    Q -- your critics are --

    VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: Implicit in what the critics are suggesting, I think, is an obligation to say, well, here's what we need to do, or we're not going to do anything else. We're going to accept defeat. Defeat is not an answer. We can, in fact, prevail here, and we need to prevail. And the consequences of not doing so are enormous.

    Q You've said that Iran as a nuclear power is unacceptable.

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: Right.

    Q Are you ready to go to war to stop that --

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: Come on now, Wolf. You know I'm not going to speculate on something like that.

    Q Well, how are you going to stop that?

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: Wolf, we've got a policy in place that's I think producing results. We've gone to the United Nations. We've got a unanimous agreement to a sanctions resolution that's now in place with respect to the Iranian uranium program, and we're continuing to work the problem. We want -- we want to solve the problem diplomatically. We'll do everything we can to achieve that. But we've also made it clear that all options are on the table. Now, no administration in their right mind is going to answer the question you just asked.

    Q Because you've heard Senator Biden, Senator Rockefeller say they think you need more congressional authorization if you're going to take any military steps against Iran. Do you?

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: I'm not going to speculate on military steps, Wolf. You can ask that question all day long.

    Q All right, there's a lot of good questions -- let's move on to some other domestic issues. The whole notion of your long-time aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby -- he's in the papers, his lawyer now suggesting on opening day of the trial that he was basically set up by people in the White House to protect Karl Rove, the President's political aide. What do you make of this?

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: Now, Wolf, you knew when we set up the interview you can ask all the questions you want, I'm going to be a witness in that trial within a matter of weeks, I'm not going to discuss it. I haven't discussed with anybody in the press yet, I'm not going to discuss it with you today.

    Q Are you -- but you've --

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: Wolf, you've got my answer. You've got my answer.

    Q Have you contributed to his legal defense fund?

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: I am a strong friend and supporter of Scooter's. I have not contributed to the legal defense fund. I think he's an extraordinarily talented and capable individual.

    Q Let's talk about illegal immigration right now because a lot of your conservative Republican base, they're upset at the President and at you for supporting a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants right now. What do you say to them who are worried that you're going to team up with a lot of Democrats and moderate Republicans and pass this legislation?

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, we think we need immigration legislation passed, that it would be irresponsible for us not to try to deal with that problem. It's a serious problem. It's very important from the standpoint of the millions of illegals who are already here, from those segments of our economy that depend upon them. But it's also important that we have secure borders and that we have control over our borders. And we've done a lot already to move in that direction. We've doubled or tripled the size of the Border Patrol force in the budget. We've got border security measures adopted in the last Congress. What we need now is a temporary guest worker program, a comprehensive solution that will regulate that flow. I think we can do it. I believe that, in fact, there's sufficient support on both sides of the aisle, and I think we'll get legislation passed.

    Q Do you think Hillary Clinton would make a good President?

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: No, I don't.

    Q Why?

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: Because she's a Democrat. I don't agree with her philosophically and from a policy standpoint.

    Q Do you think she will be President then?

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don't.

    Q Who do you think will be?

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: I'm not going to speculate.

    Q It won’t be you?

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: It won't be me.

    Q John McCain.

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: I'm not going to speculate.

    Q Been rather critical of you -- John McCain -- lately?

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, John is a good man. He and I have known each other a long time, and we agree on many things and disagree on others.

    Q He said the other day, he said, the President listened too much to the Vice President. Of course, the President bears the ultimate responsibility, but he was very badly served by both the Vice President and most of all the Secretary of Defense. That was John McCain.

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: So.

    Q Want to react?

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I just disagree with him.

    Q He said, about the former Defense Secretary, "Rumsfeld will go down in history along with McNamara as one of the worst Secretaries of Defense" --

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: I just fundamentally disagree. You heard my speech when Don retired. I think he's done a superb job.

    Q We're out of time, but a couple of issues I want to raise with you. Your daughter Mary, she's pregnant. All of us are happy. She's going to have a baby. You're going to have another grandchild. Some of the -- some critics, though, are suggesting, for example, a statement from someone representing Focus on the Family:

    "Mary Cheney's pregnancy raises the question of what's best for children. Just because it's possible to conceive a child outside of the relationship of a married mother and father, doesn't mean it's best for the child."

    Do you want to respond to that?

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: No, I don't.

    Q She's obviously a good daughter --

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: I'm delighted -- I'm delighted I'm about to have a sixth grandchild, Wolf, and obviously think the world of both of my daughters and all of my grandchildren. And I think, frankly, you're out of line with that question.

    Q I think all of us appreciate --

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: I think you're out of -- I think you're out of line with that question.

    Q -- your daughter. We like your daughters. Believe me, I'm very, very sympathetic to Liz and to Mary. I like them both. That was just a question that's come up and it's a responsible, fair question.

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: I just fundamentally disagree with your perspective.

    Q I want to congratulate you on having another grandchild. Let's wind up on a soft note. Nancy Pelosi -- what was it like sitting up there with her last night as opposed to Dennis Hastert?

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: I prefer Denny Hastert, obviously. I liked having a fellow Republican in the Speaker's chair. Nancy is now the Speaker of the House. We had a very pleasant evening.

    Q But it's different to have a Democrat --

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: Sure, it's different to have a -- but it's the way it has been during most of my career in Congress, so I didn't find it all that surprising or startling.

    Q How do you feel?

    THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good.

    Q Mr. Vice President, thank you.

    Posted on: January 25, 2007 07:28 AM | Link: The Vice President is insane... | Comments: (0)

    January 10, 2007

    More like this...

    TMW010307.jpg

    Posted on: January 10, 2007 03:01 AM | Link: More like this... | Comments: (0)

    December 03, 2006

    From massive to minimal

    It took Rumsfeld five years to realize that he helped orchestrate one of the largest military blunders of all time. Five short years from "go massive" to "go minimalist".

    September 11, 2001:

    "Go massive," the notes quote him as saying. "Sweep it all up. Things related and not." CBS News

    November 6, 2006:

    "Recast the U.S. military mission and the U.S. goals (how we talk about them) — go minimalist,” NY Times

    Will this finally be the end of these dinosaurs/neocons? It doesn't seem like it - Bush seniors old fogey crowd is coming out of the woodwork - Baker, Gates, etc. will continue this mess much longer than it needs to be continued. The nearly 3,000 US military dead and the tens of thousands of wounded are on Rumsfeld's hands. Let's hope we don't see another 3,000 before this thing is over. I don't know how Rumsfeld sleeps at night - but he doesn't deserve to anyway. I hope he goes to hell.

    Posted on: December 3, 2006 04:23 PM | Link: From massive to minimal | Comments: (0)

    November 30, 2006

    "They’re an entertainment act"

    " I mean my point of view now as a 50 year old person, when somebody says to me what do I think about Coldplay, what do I think about Franz Ferdinand - I don’t have an opinion about Coldplay, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard Coldplay. I have heard Franz Ferdinand, and they are what, to me, you would call an act. Herman’s Hermits. They’re an entertainment act."
    Peter Saville

    Posted on: November 30, 2006 07:50 PM | Link: "They’re an entertainment act" | Comments: (0)

    I have a real problem...

    "I have a real problem with going to work for the sake of going to work. When I have to produce something, I do it... In a way, I work all the time, but I've never disciplined myself or been in a situation that disciplined me into going into an office at 9.30 in the morning and staying there until six o'clock and then going home."
    Peter Saville

    Posted on: November 30, 2006 07:29 PM | Link: I have a real problem... | Comments: (0)

    November 25, 2006

    Chuck Hagel channels textonly.com

    Senator Hagel today in the Washington Post:

    "Honorable intentions are not policies and plans."

    Us in March, 2003:

    "War is not policy. Thoughts and ideas, diplomacy and work are policy. Summers in Crawford, weekends at Camp David and nights spent reading the Bible are not going to help us right now."

    The rest of it sounds like what I wrote this past Monday (there is nothing we can do, things will be bad for awhile, other people will act in our absence, staying means destroying the army, etc.). Maybe I should run for Senate? Maybe someone on Hagel's staff reads textonly? Or - wait a minute - maybe Chuck Hagel isn't such a complete fucking asshole as he has appeared to be these last few years and has finally come to his senses now that he has a lame duck President in the Whitehouse and his party just got trounced in the election... maybe thats it. Or maybe he is just laying his reelection groundwork.

    (Damn - just broke my no cursing on the blog pledge)

    Posted on: November 25, 2006 08:20 PM | Link: Chuck Hagel channels textonly.com | Comments: (0)

    November 24, 2006

    File under "WOUCH!"

    Andy Ihnatko doesn't like the Zune. It is quite a rant, and he hits a point that I don't hear many of the Zune critics (myself included) making - that the Zune is all about the "man". Microserf completely co-opted themselves with the music industry, and the DRM sounds absolutely dreadful. I am not wishing ill on Microsoft, but the stupid "iPod killer" crap that wafted through the media was such patent PR baloney that it almost forces you to want to see them fail with this thing.

    Read the whole thing for some of the more egregious insanities (Zune Points, doesn't play podcasts, etc.) Microsoft has wrapped up in this fiasco - and for a laugh - the guy could always write.

    Posted on: November 24, 2006 06:10 PM | Link: File under "WOUCH!" | Comments: (0)

    November 21, 2006

    What to do in Iraq

    There is a lot of opinion flying around now in the punditsphere - and most of it makes no sense. 3 more months, 6 more months, more troops, less troops, etc. The game is over. My take below:

    What to do in Iraq

    Get out – that is the only course of action that can be taken. Things are a mess, things will be a mess for some time. The US staying there can do nothing about that. Staying means more dead soldiers, with no positive side effects. We need to realize that we can not control that part of the world, that we don’t understand the culture, language and geopolitics of the region, that America and Americans are not willing to occupy foreign countries and have their sons and daughters killed for the oil industry.

    I am as tired as anyone of the pundits, the government officials - elected and appointed – the military leaders, etc. who think they have an answer or a plan to solve the Iraq “problem”. There is no option but withdrawal. It is not a naïve position - it is a forward thinking, pragmatic, realistic position. There is no central front of a decentralized war. The terrorists are not going to invade America, ever. These ridiculous talking points of fear are just that – simple catch phrases to scare the population into believing impossible events, so that the people in charge can retain power (and in case you haven’t noticed – it didn’t work). Terrorism has existed for centuries and will continue to exist, and we need to fight it with intelligence and cunning, with solid police work, with international cooperation and with forward thinking strategies and better policies. We need to engage the Muslim world, to stop being belligerent and to stop using stupid phrases like “Islamofascism” that do nothing for us but create more enemies.

    Will terrible things happen in Iraq when we leave? Sadly, yes – many terrible things - many thousands more will be killed, kidnapped, mutilated, etc. The electricity still won’t work, women will be persecuted, and suicide bombers will blow things up. But this is happening now as it is – and it is the fault of the Bush administration and of their terrible policies – they have to take responsibility, and we also, as Americans, have to take responsibility of our governments actions, even if we completely disagree with them. Things can probably not get any more terrible than they are now (not that the situation will improve anytime soon) – but we have to learn to live with the fact that we unleashed this mess on Iraq, that the hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis were killed on our watch. All Iraqis have memories of this occupation and will blame the deaths of their sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, etc. on us. That is fact. It will take generations to heal, and real work on our side, but again points to only one course of action – to leave immediately. Staying only prolongs the hurt, hate, and anger that builds against us daily.

    The sooner we end this the sooner we can start to heal our military, and the sooner Iraq or whatever survives of that country will stumble to it’s feet. Our commitment should be to the day after we leave, to better foreign policy, to the rebuilding of our military, to better and realistic energy policies, to contrition and reparations, to support for other nations who will no doubt step into the breach at some point, to the UN, etc. Will the price of oil go up? It is going up anyway. Will Iran end up controlling Iraq? Maybe. Will Turkey end up in a war with the Kurds? Possibly.

    But even if all or none of that happens, even if in one, two or three years, we need to go back to help the Turks protect their border, or we are asked by a newly sovereign Iraq to help beat back Iranian forces, or the UN asks us to bomb the HQ of the new Iraqi strongman, whatever the scenario – I am not choosing sides or betting on anything or anyone – and I am not going to rule anything out – but when and if something happens that really does need our military to act, by leaving now we will still have a military that can be used as a force again.

    So, just to sum up, for those who still don’t seem to get it (which unfortunately seems to be the people in charge and the people who write about them and appear on TV to tell us about them), this war was and is a giant mistake, a disaster of the first magnitude, and there is nothing positive that can happen by prolonging it for even a single day. Most of the world realizes this – the American public realizes this. Now we need our politicians and talking heads to realize it. There have been plenty of dark times in the history of America and the world. We have been living in one of them – let’s end it today.


    Posted on: November 21, 2006 05:09 AM | Link: What to do in Iraq | Comments: (1)

    November 11, 2006

    This is a classic

    From Talking Points Memo:

    Was anyone besides me delighted to note that the last two Republican senators to concede were Burns and Allen?

    Say goodnight, Gracie.

    Goodnight!

    Posted on: November 11, 2006 07:21 AM | Link: This is a classic | Comments: (0)

    November 10, 2006

    Yes I am happy

    tt061025.gif

    Yes I am happy the democrats won, but all it means is that there is a huge amount of work to do - a giant mess to clean up. I think Rumsfeld's quick exit was about taking some of the news spotlight away from the democrats frankly, and to make sure he is gone before democratic controlled committees could have dragged him into congress to testify.

    The sad fact for me is that while the dems are definitely better at some things and by far my side of choice, not much is really going to change until money and television are out of the equation, and we get a third (or more) party into this mess. I would love to see the dems get entrenched enough, with a big enough of a majority, that maybe a few of these progressive types would peel off and become something completely different and new. Maybe it can happen - the netroots were a big part of this election, and I think the future is ripe for real change.

    Posted on: November 10, 2006 09:30 AM | Link: Yes I am happy | Comments: (0)

    November 07, 2006

    In case you need a reason to vote...

    Just check out this link:

    Memories...

    From Sadly, No!

    Posted on: November 7, 2006 05:03 AM | Link: In case you need a reason to vote... | Comments: (0)

    Tool alert

    "Perceptions matter in politics, and this White House has shown it knows how to shape them"

    Yes, they have shown how they do it, through morons like you. Nagourney, can't you see what a complete tool you are!!! You just indicted yourself with this sentence... The NY Times, the "liberal" paper the Republicans hate... how do they get you to do their work for them? Only you could write that a huge victory "May Feel Like a Failure". You are an idiot. How the hell did you get your job and/or who is protecting you by letting you keep it?

    Posted on: November 7, 2006 04:54 AM | Link: Tool alert | Comments: (0)

    November 04, 2006

    What can you say?

    There are stories sometimes that make you want to completely give up on this government (if you already haven't - I know I have). Here is one - the worst one yet that comes to my mind:

    Revealed: U.S. Soldier Killed Herself After Objecting to Interrogation Techniques The true stories of how American troops, killed in Iraq, actually died keep spilling out this week. Now we learn, thanks to a reporter's FOIA request, that one of the first women to die in Iraq shot and killed herself after objecting to harsh "interrogation techniques."

    By Greg Mitchell, Editor & Publisher

    (November 01, 2006) -- The true stories of how American troops, killed in Iraq, actually died keep spilling out this week. On Tuesday, we explored the case of Kenny Stanton Jr., murdered last month by our allies, the Iraqi police, though the military didn’t make that known at the time. Now we learn that one of the first female soldiers killed in Iraq died by her own hand after objecting to interrogation methods used on prisoners.

    She was Army specialist Alyssa Peterson, 27, a Flagstaff, Ariz., native serving with C Company, 311th Military Intelligence BN, 101st Airborne. Peterson was an Arabic-speaking interrogator assigned to the prison at our air base in troubled Tal-Afar in northwestern Iraq. According to official records, she died on Sept. 15, 2003, from a “non-hostile weapons discharge.”

    She was only the third American woman killed in Iraq, so her death drew wide press attention. A “non-hostile weapons discharge” leading to death is not unusual in Iraq, often quite accidental, so this one apparently raised few eyebrows. The Arizona Republic, three days after her death, reported that Army officials “said that a number of possible scenarios are being considered, including Peterson's own weapon discharging, the weapon of another soldier discharging, or the accidental shooting of Peterson by an Iraqi civilian.” (Her parents now say they were never told about her objections to interrogation techniques.)

    But in this case, a longtime radio and newspaper reporter named Kevin Elston, unsatisfied with the public story, decided to probe deeper in 2005, "just on a hunch," he told E&P today. He made "hundreds of phone calls" to the military and couldn't get anywhere, so he filed a Freedom of Information Act request. When the documents of the official investigation of her death arrived, they contained bombshell revelations. Here’s what the Flagstaff public radio station, KNAU, where Elston now works, reported yesterday:

    “Peterson objected to the interrogation techniques used on prisoners. She refused to participate after only two nights working in the unit known as the cage. Army spokespersons for her unit have refused to describe the interrogation techniques Alyssa objected to. They say all records of those techniques have now been destroyed. ...".

    She was was then assigned to the base gate, where she monitored Iraqi guards, and sent to suicide prevention training. “But on the night of September 15th, 2003, Army investigators concluded she shot and killed herself with her service rifle,” the documents disclose.

    The Army talked to some of Peterson's colleagues. Asked to summarize their comments, Elston told E&P: "The reactions to the suicide were that she was having a difficult time separating her personal feelings from her professional duties. That was the consistent point in the testimonies, that she objected to the interrogation techniques, without describing what those techniques were."

    Elston said that the documents also refer to a suicide note found on her body, which suggested that she found it ironic that suicide prevention training had taught her how to commit suicide. He has now filed another FOIA request for a copy of the actual note.

    Peterson's father, Rich Peterson, has said: “Alyssa volunteered to change assignments with someone who did not want to go to Iraq.”

    Peterson, a devout Mormon, had graduated from Flagstaff High School and earned a psychology degree from Northern Arizona University on a military scholarship. She was trained in interrogation techniques at Fort Huachuca in Arizona, and was sent to the Middle East in 2003.

    The Arizona Republic article had opened: “Friends say Army Spc. Alyssa R. Peterson of Flagstaff always had an amazing ability to learn foreign languages.

    “Peterson became fluent in Dutch even before she went on an 18-month Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints mission to the Netherlands in the late 1990s. Then, she cruised through her Arabic courses at the military's Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif., shortly after enlisting in July 2001.

    “With that under her belt, she was off to Iraq to conduct interrogations and translate enemy documents.”

    On a “fallen heroes” message board on the Web, Mary W. Black of Flagstaff wrote, "The very day Alyssa died, her Father was talking to me at the Post Office where we both work, in Flagstaff, Ariz., telling me he had a premonition and was very worried about his daughter who was in the military on the other side of the world. The next day he was notified while on the job by two army officers. Never has a daughter been so missed or so loved than she was and has been by her Father since that fateful September day in 2003. He has been the most broken man I have ever seen.”

    An A.W. from Los Angeles wrote: "I met Alyssa only once during a weekend surfing trip while she was at DLI. Although our encounter was brief, she made a lasting impression. We did not know each other well, but I was blown away by her genuine, sincere, sweet nature. I don’t know how else to put it-- she was just nice. ... I was devastated to here of her death. I couldn’t understand why it had to happen to such a wonderful person.”

    Finally, Daryl K. Tabor of Ashland City, Tenn., who had met her as a journalist in Iraq for the Kentucky New Era paper in Hopkinsville: "Since learning of her death, I cannot get the image of the last time I saw her out of my mind. We were walking out of the tent in Kuwait to be briefed on our flights into Iraq as I stepped aside to let her out first. Her smile was brighter than the hot desert sun. Peterson was the only soldier I interacted with that I know died in Iraq. I am truly sorry I had to know any."

    ***
    UPDATE: A Friday report in The Arizona Daily Sun of Flagstaff reveals that Spc. Peterson's mother, Bobbi Peterson, reached at her home in northern Arizona, said that neither she nor her husband Richard has received any official documents that contained information outlined in the KNAU report. "Until she and Richard have had an opportunity to read the documents, she said she is unable to comment," the newspaper reported.

    Posted on: November 4, 2006 06:27 AM | Link: What can you say? | Comments: (0)

    October 01, 2006

    Former Congressman Foley

    "It's vile. It's more sad than anything else, to see someone with such potential throw it all down the drain because of a sexual addiction."

    Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL), commenting on President Clinton, following release of the Starr Report, September 12, 1998.

    The above was lifted from Talking Points Memo. Josh and his team as well as John from AmericaBlog have been all over this mess - I suggest reading those site for more on this story. The hypocrisy of it all gets me the most. The hypocrisy. Their complete lack of concern for the kids involved as they run to cover their own fat, pork-stuffed asses. These bastards don't deserve to have jobs at the local Walmart, yet they are in charge of running the country.

    Posted on: October 1, 2006 06:34 AM | Link: Former Congressman Foley | Comments: (0)

    September 29, 2006

    "They all look the same to me"

    The torture bill, the war, the donut hole, the corporate scandals - it never ends with this administration and their lackeys in the Republican house and senate. And then you get a nugget like this from Senator Hair Piece:

    Lott: Bush barely mentioned Iraq in meeting with Senate Republicans From CNN's Ted Barrett

    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush barely mentioned the war in Iraq when he met with Republican senators behind closed doors in the Capitol Thursday morning and was not asked about the course of the war, Sen. Trent Lott, R-Mississippi, said.

    "No, none of that," Lott told reporters after the session when asked if the Iraq war was discussed. "You're the only ones who obsess on that. We don't and the real people out in the real world don't for the most part."

    trent_lott.jpg

    Lott went on to say he has difficulty understanding the motivations behind the violence in Iraq.

    "It's hard for Americans, all of us, including me, to understand what's wrong with these people," he said. "Why do they kill people of other religions because of religion? Why do they hate the Israeli's and despise their right to exist? Why do they hate each other? Why do Sunnis kill Shiites? How do they tell the difference? They all look the same to me."

    This is the best and brightest we have? "real people out in the real world don't for the most part" don't think about the war? The most important struggle in the history of mankind? The "central front in the war on terror"?

    I am out in the "real world". I am not in the fake, protected world of the senate chamber, working out in the house gym, hanging out at the country club, and going to have my hair piece adjusted. I think about the war every day. I can't take much more...

    (Editor's note: Senator Lott's hand gesture was his attempt to describe the size of his brain.)

    Posted on: September 29, 2006 04:38 AM | Link: "They all look the same to me" | Comments: (0)

    September 27, 2006

    Boo hoo

    "Here we are, coming down the stretch of an election campaign, and it's on the front page of your newspaper," Bush said, referring to news stories Sunday on the intelligence report, which said the Iraq war, among other factors, was fueling an expansion of Islamic terrorism. "Isn't that interesting? Somebody's taken it upon themselves to leak classified information for political purposes."

    Boo hoo. A single tear runs down my face for you George. Somebody better tell this joker that a free press is part of a healthy democracy - that printing "secrets" in the name of informing the public is part of U.S. History. It is how idiots like Bush are exposed to the populace. It is a service - a duty - for the press to operate like this. He is losing voters left and right with his petulance. This mid-term election is going to be very interesting.

    Posted on: September 27, 2006 12:33 PM | Link: Boo hoo | Comments: (0)

    September 22, 2006

    Torture's Long Shadow

    "So, why would democratically elected leaders of the United States ever want to legalize what a succession of Russian monarchs strove to abolish? Why run the risk of unleashing a fury that even Stalin had problems controlling? Why would anyone try to "improve intelligence-gathering capability" by destroying what was left of it? Frustration? Ineptitude? Ignorance? Or, has their friendship with a certain former KGB lieutenant colonel, V. Putin, rubbed off on the American leaders? I have no answer to these questions, but I do know that if Vice President Cheney is right and that some "cruel, inhumane or degrading" (CID) treatment of captives is a necessary tool for winning the war on terrorism, then the war is lost already.

    Posted on: September 22, 2006 06:41 PM | Link: Torture's Long Shadow | Comments: (0)

    September 14, 2006

    More signs of decay

    A couple of days ago Billmon said:

    "...the United States is moving down the curve of imperial decay at a amazingly rapid clip."

    Here is a must read story that feeds right into this observation - the simple process of exercising one's right to vote is being horribly corrupted by corporations and the politicians that allow them to get away with it. This is just one of many extraordinary passages:

    "Throughout the early part of the day, there was a Diebold representative at our precinct. When I was setting up the poll books, he came over to "help", and I ended up explaining to him why I had to hook the ethernet cables into a hub instead of directly into all the machines (not to mention the fact that there were not enough ports on the machines to do it that way). The next few times we had problems, the judges would call him over, and then he called me over to help. After a while, I asked him how long he had been working for Diebold because he didn't seem to know anything about the equipment, and he said, "one day." I said, "You mean they hired you yesterday?" And he replied, "yes, I had 6 hours of training yesterday. It was 80 people and 2 instructors, and none of us really knew what was going on." I asked him how this was possible, and he replied, "I shouldn't be telling you this, but it's all money. They are too cheap to do this right. They should have a real tech person in each precinct, but that costs too much, so they go out and hire a bunch of contractors the day before the election, and they think that they can train us, but it's too compressed." Around 4 pm, he came and told me that he wasn't doing any good there, and that he was too frustrated, and that he was going home. We didn't see him again."

    And there is something more about this blog post too - this is NEWS. The kind of news you are never going to get from a reporter or journalist, on TV or in print (and that is not a personal dig - it is just the fact that writers and reporters write and report - they are usually not involved at the level that this blogger, nor would they have the insights, knowledge and experience he does). As revealing as this story is about the nuts and bolts of voting with these Diebold machines, I am glad that I can at least read it and learn first hand just what is going on with this technology. This feeds into what Kos says about Carol Darr's motives behind the whole blogger regulation story.

    As Kos said:

    "...this is what online free speech opponents like Carol Darr at George Washington University's Institute of Politics, Democracy, and the Internet feared. This is what Nicco Mele, McCain's new buddy, feared. This is what they hate -- people-powered politics.

    He was talking specifically about citizens making campaign ads - but it carries right over to blog posts and other people powered media.

    Posted on: September 14, 2006 06:52 AM | Link: More signs of decay | Comments: (0)

    September 13, 2006

    Safe - but not safe

    Posted on: September 13, 2006 11:54 AM | Link: Safe - but not safe | Comments: (0)

    September 11, 2006

    The Sixteen Acre Ditch

    Billmon has a post up today that really says it all for me:

    If you had told me, five years ago, that on the fifth anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in history Ground Zero would still be nothing but an enormous hole in the ground, I wouldn't have believed you -- just as I wouldn't have believed that a major American city could be thoroughly trashed by a Category 4 hurricane and then left to moulder in the mud for a year while various federal, state and local bureaucrats and hack politicians tried to make up their minds what to do.

    I would have said that while those kind of things can and do happen in Third World kleptocracies or decaying Stalinist police states, they're simply not possible in the richest and most powerful nation in history. Even if the voters could somehow be bamboozled into accepting such incompetence, the wealthy elites and corporate technocrats who own and operate the world's only remaining superpower would never stand for it.

    You can learn a lot about a country in five years.

    What I've learned (from 9/11, the corporate scandals, the fiasco in Iraq, Katrina, the Cheney Administration's insane economic and environmental policies and the relentless dumbing down of the corporate media -- plus the repeated electoral triumphs of the Rovian brand of "reality management") is that the United States is moving down the curve of imperial decay at a amazingly rapid clip. If anything, the speed of our descent appears to be accelerating.

    The physical symptoms -- a lost war, a derelict city, a Potemkin memorial hastily erected in an vacant lot -- aren't nearly as alarming as the moral and intellectual paralysis that seems to have taken hold of the system. The old feedback mechanisms are broken or in deep disrepair, leaving America with an opposition party that doesn't know how (or what) to oppose, a military run by uniformed yes men, intelligence czars who couldn't find their way through a garden gate with a GPS locator, TV networks that don't even pretend to cover the news unless there's a missing white woman or a suspected child rapist involved, and talk radio hosts who think nuking Mecca is the solution to all our problems in the Middle East. We've got think tanks that can't think, security agencies that can't secure and accounting firms that can't count (except when their clients ask them to make 2+2=5). Our churches are either annexes to shopping malls, halfway homes for pederasts, or GOP precinct headquarters in disguise. Our economy is based on asset bubbles, defense contracts and an open-ended line of credit from the People's Bank of China, and we still can't push the poverty rate down or the median wage up.

    I could happily go on, but I imagine you get my point. It's hard to think of a major American institution, tradition or cultural value that has not, at some point over the past five years, been shown to be a.) totally out of touch, b.) criminally negligent, c.) hopelessly corrupt, d.) insanely hypocritical or e.) all of the above.

    There is more - if you can stand it. I am finding it all too depressing.

    Posted on: September 11, 2006 07:30 PM | Link: The Sixteen Acre Ditch | Comments: (1)

    September 10, 2006

    "There's nobody in the United States government whose job it is to find Osama bin Laden!"

    All you need to know about the Bush administration:

    Today, however, no one person is in charge of the overall hunt for bin Laden with the authority to direct covert CIA operations to collect intelligence and to dispatch JSOC units. Some counterterrorism officials find this absurd. "There's nobody in the United States government whose job it is to find Osama bin Laden!" one frustrated counterterrorism official shouted. "Nobody!"

    The whole article is worth reading, from the Washington Post.

    Posted on: September 10, 2006 05:35 AM | Link: "There's nobody in the United States government whose job it is to find Osama bin Laden!" | Comments: (0)

    July 17, 2006

    George W. Bush, extemporaneous speaker

    Here is how the leader of the free world operates:

    In another segment in which the president was apparently speaking to an aide who asked about his plan for upcoming remarks, Mr. Bush said, “I’m just going to make it up, right here — I’m not going to talk too damn long like the rest of them.”

    Makes you feel safe, no? Probably the same way he planned for Iraq. More here and here.

    Posted on: July 17, 2006 12:13 PM | Link: George W. Bush, extemporaneous speaker | Comments: (0)

    July 07, 2006

    I really want to see...

    Ken Lay's body. I know it's morbid - but hey - this is too compelling:

    "In February 2000, Mother Jones has learned, the Lays paid about $4 million -- an amount greater than Lay's entire salary from Enron that year -- to buy variable annuities . . . While stocks and most other ordinary investments are open to attack by creditors, life insurance policies and annuities are protected in many states . . . Once the annuities reach maturity in February 2007, Kenneth and Linda Lay will be guaranteed monthly payments of $43,023 and $32,643, respectively, for life."

    From Billmon via Mother Jones.

    Posted on: July 7, 2006 04:27 PM | Link: I really want to see... | Comments: (0)

    June 22, 2006

    Is this really going to happen?

    There is an important and alarming article in the Washington Post today by two former Clinton era cabinet officials. Basically it states that if the North Koreans really have this missile ready to go, that we should take it out. This is scary stuff:

    "Should the United States allow a country openly hostile to it and armed with nuclear weapons to perfect an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering nuclear weapons to U.S. soil? We believe not. The Bush administration has unwisely ballyhooed the doctrine of "preemption," which all previous presidents have sustained as an option rather than a dogma. It has applied the doctrine to Iraq, where the intelligence pointed to a threat from weapons of mass destruction that was much smaller than the risk North Korea poses. (The actual threat from Saddam Hussein was, we now know, even smaller than believed at the time of the invasion.) But intervening before mortal threats to U.S. security can develop is surely a prudent policy."

    Josh Marshall points out the credibility of the authors, which makes the article even more troubling.

    Posted on: June 22, 2006 09:47 AM | Link: Is this really going to happen? | Comments: (0)

    May 29, 2006

    The Editors

    From the Editors at The Poor Man Institute, I site I don't spend enough time on lately:

    "...let’s face it, most people are full of weird ideas about shit they don’t know anything about. I know I am."

    The kind of refreshing honesty and humor you wish the real "journalists" had the balls to write.

    Posted on: May 29, 2006 12:37 PM | Link: The Editors | Comments: (0)

    May 24, 2006

    President Bush said today he has nothing but respect for Mexico

    "President Bush said today he has nothing but respect for Mexico and its people and he will always speak the truth to them. Here's my question: When can we get that deal?"

    Jay Leno

    Posted on: May 24, 2006 01:21 PM | Link: President Bush said today he has nothing but respect for Mexico | Comments: (0)

    May 11, 2006

    Suckers

    This is a very bad morning. This is the morning when I completely lost faith in the government of the United States of America:

    NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls

    The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.

    If you go around your day to day life thinking that the government is trying to protect you or your rights, you are just a fool. A sucker. We are all suckers in their game today. There are people out there who know - fat cat U.S. Senators, some cabinet level people, maybe some members of congress and a couple of corporate executives - old, balding, with enough in the bank for the rest of their lives, but yet they sit there, with their mouths shut, protecting Bush and Cheney and the rest of them, while the administration breaks the law on a daily basis. Why can't one of these old bastards stand up on the floor of the senate or house, go on a talk show or something, and let the American people know just what the hell is going on? What are they afraid of? What could happen? This government has stolen our freedom. This government lies to us daily. Alberto Gonzales is not my Attorney General, he is George Bush's personal lawyer, and he is protecting his patron. He is not worrying about the citizens of the United States, he is worried about the interests of the Bush family and their billionaire friends. I am spitting angry this morning, and you should be too. Something has to be done. We can't wait another three years for this government to change, we can't afford to.

    "Suckers" »

    Posted on: May 11, 2006 06:20 AM | Link: Suckers | Comments: (0)

    April 14, 2006

    I love Digby

    This is a classic:

    "The vast majority of the country supported the Afghanistan operation, as did most of the world. But the left and the rest of the world checked out over Iraq, and obviously not because we believed that all use of American force is immoral --- it was because the plan was fucking hallucinatory."

    Read the whole thing here.

    Posted on: April 14, 2006 08:21 PM | Link: I love Digby | Comments: (0)

    March 31, 2006

    It's over Grover

    Grover Norquist is a sleaze bag. He just is. I have never thought his schtick was sincere, and he is in bed with Abramoff and Delay and the rest of the criminals. The fact that this guy is taken seriously, that this is what the right in America calls ideas or policy debate, is simply horrible. Things might start looking worse for Grover soon. From the Boston Globe today:

    WASHINGTON -- Grover G. Norquist has become one of the nation's most influential activists by portraying his group, Americans for Tax Reform, as the leading ''grass-roots taxpayers movement," which gets thousands of politicians to sign a pledge against any new tax.

    Behind the ''grass-roots" activism, however, is a multimillion-dollar donor list that is the envy of Washington. And the Massachusetts native has always refused to name his financial backers.

    But interviews and copies of Norquist's donor lists, obtained by the Globe, show that contributors include an array of special interests ranging from tobacco companies to Indian tribes to a Las Vegas casino.

    It wouldn't be bad to have policy debates in this country, to honestly talk about issues like taxes, etc. But you know what? These guys are devoid of ideas - they are just crooks. They are looking to score, plain and simple. "Conservative Advocate"? The guy is a nut, and probably a thief.

    Posted on: March 31, 2006 05:39 PM | Link: It's over Grover | Comments: (0)

    March 28, 2006

    boo hoo

    From the Washington Post:

    Card, 59, has been the focal point of much discussion in Washington about how physically and politically exhausted the White House staff must be in the sixth year of a presidency buffeted by recession, terrorism and war. Card has told interviewers that he gets up every morning at 4:20 a.m., arrives at the White House an hour or so after that and works until 8 or 9 at night.

    How can any respectable reporter shovel this much shit for the administration?

    "buffeted by recession" that your policies exacerbated, "terrorism" that your administration failed to prevent "and war" that you chose to engage in. And now everyone in the most well rested, vacation filled administration is tired... oh my.

    Goodbye Andy "You don't roll out a new product in the summer" Card. You will be another footnote to history, a trivia question at best: Who was the longest serving chief of staff for the worst president ever?

    Posted on: March 28, 2006 10:17 AM | Link: boo hoo | Comments: (0)

    March 26, 2006

    From the department of you can't make this stuff up

    Here is a quote:

    "Stand firm," DeLay said in his closing. "Resist evil. Remember that all truth and blessings emanate from our Creator." He then departed with Tan to see a cockfight, according to a written account by one of the trip participants.

    From the Washingto Post article Former DeLay Aide Enriched By Nonprofit.

    When are people going to realize that there are stone cold crooks running this country?

    Posted on: March 26, 2006 03:47 PM | Link: From the department of you can't make this stuff up | Comments: (0)

    March 23, 2006

    "someone choosing to share space has already chosen to share privacy"

    The majority missed the point, the chief justice said; the fact is that someone choosing to share space has also, already, chosen to share privacy.

    New York Times, Roberts Dissent Reveals Strain Beneath Court's Placid Surface

    That is what the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John G. Roberts Jr. wrote in his first dissenting opinion as Chief Justice. This is what the top person, on the top court, thinks - believes. Can this be true? Can he really believe that - or is it just another political stunt? To me the thought is so simplistic it borders on the silly. Why would diaries exist if that was really true? Would you want your spouse to read your diary without your consent - or better yet let the police read it? Does your child want you in their room rummaging through their stuff - would you want them in yours? A family lives together, so according to the Chief Justice that would inherently mean there is no privacy inside of the household? Your children could now invite the police in to search your home against your protestations?

    Roberts goes on to note:

    "The fact is that a wide variety of differing social situations can readily be imagined, giving rise to quite different social expectations," Chief Justice Roberts said. For example, he continued, "a guest who came to celebrate an occupant's birthday, or one who had traveled some distance for a particular reason, might not readily turn away simply because of a roommate's objection."

    Huh? The case was about a police search with both parties present, were one party basically says, sure, you can search his stuff. So this can be extrapolated by the Chief Justice to mean what? Your college roommate lets campus security in your suite, and in your presence - against your objection - tells them they can search your room - and that is okay? I mean come on, give me a break.

    Scalia, Thomas and Roberts were in the dissent. I just can't understand their opinions - it is just another step closer to a police state, to investing all authority in the state and to strip the individual of their rights. No doubt Alito would have joined them but he did not vote in this case since he joined the court to late to hear it.

    Posted on: March 23, 2006 04:16 AM | Link: "someone choosing to share space has already chosen to share privacy" | Comments: (0)

    March 15, 2006

    And in case you forgot...

    I know this isn't the most popular thing (on this blog anyway - bashing a Dem senator), but ever since that mealy-mouthed, cowardly lion looking jerk sandbagged the best President of my life time, I have hated him. If you haven't figured it out yet I am talking about smokin' Joementum, better know as Senator Joe Lieberman. Well - contrary to my mother-in-law's advice about not cursing on the blog - I have to tell you that Joe Lieberman is an asshole:

    Lieberman said he believes hospitals that refuse to give contraceptives to rape victims for "principled reasons" shouldn't be forced to do so. "In Connecticut, it shouldn't take more than a short ride to get to another hospital," he said.

    I don't even know where to start with that - so read what Jane says over at the Huffington Post.

    And you could also stop by and donate to the next great senator from the state of Connecticut: Ned Lamont

    Posted on: March 15, 2006 06:06 PM | Link: And in case you forgot... | Comments: (1)

    Another voice

    Glenn Greenwald is good - very good. The blog is Unclaimed Territory and it is going on my list. I suggest you check it often. He is a serious and articulate writer - the posts aren't quick hits. I read Kevin Drum's wishy washy analysis today of Senator Feingold's censure resolution and was mildly annoyed (and don't get me wrong - I like Drum and I think he is a very smart guy). I didn't do anything about it though, but Glenn Greenwald did:

    A stirring defense of indecision and inaction

    Since Democratic Senators are afraid to talk about Sen. Feingold's censure resolution, Kevin Drum provides a public service by trying to explain and defend the "rationale" for Democrats not to support the resolution. Since many people have been having a hard time fathoming what possible rationale could motivate Democrats not to support Feingold's resolution, Kevin's post is worth examining in order to gain some insight into that thought-process.

    Take a few minutes to read the whole thing - I agree with Glenn's take a lot more than Kevin's.

    Posted on: March 15, 2006 05:53 PM | Link: Another voice | Comments: (0)

    February 13, 2006

    Your tax dollars at work

    So, the VP gets in a hunting accident. No big deal. They could have been more upfront, yes. They didn't have to try and blame the victim, yes. It really sucks that some Corporate Republican Bride of Frankenstein is involved - I mean it is scary to have to see these people. But this is the kicker for me:

    She said emergency personnel traveling with Cheney tended to Whittington, holding his face and cleaning up the blood.

    "Fortunately, the vice president has got a lot of medical people around him and so they were right there and probably more cautious than we would have been," she said. "The vice president has got an ambulance on call, so the ambulance came."

    Look, you are a fat, old, lying bastard, with signs of congestive heart failure and probably gout (at the least). You can't even dress yourself properly for important events. Yet - my tax dollars are going toward an ambulance to follow your fat ass around so you can shoot up some of your rich friends?

    Posted on: February 13, 2006 04:17 AM | Link: Your tax dollars at work | Comments: (0)

    February 07, 2006

    You're goddamn right

    "In that bloody light of conflicts past and won, as a son of parents who grew up in a Depression and the ensuing World War, and as a child of the Cold War, let me make this crystal clear: If you think you're going to scare me or my nation into reversing two hundred years of history, becoming a Police State, and subjecting ourselves to a tyrannical Overlord in the form of the President of the United States, then you damn well better come up with a significantly greater threat than that posed by a handful of religious maniacs armed with explosive belts and boxcutters."

    Read the whole thing here.

    Posted on: February 7, 2006 04:49 PM | Link: You're goddamn right | Comments: (0)

    January 26, 2006

    Oh Really???

    Bush had this to say at his press conference today:

    But Mr. Bush said he did not even know Mr. Abramoff, despite his appearance with him in photographs. "I've never sat down with him and had a discussion with the guy," Mr. Bush said.

    Does anyone really believe that? The most important money man in Washington D.C., who raised a 100 grand for your campaign, and stuffed millions into your parties pockets, who is a close personal friend of Ralph Reed, Grover Norquist and Tom Delay - and you never had a conversation with him? The President is starting to sound like a pathological liar. This just doesn't wash.

    Update: Seems I was finally on to something before one of the big guns got to it - Josh Marshall has more on exactly what I am saying above. How can a President of the US just walk around lying like this?

    Posted on: January 26, 2006 04:10 PM | Link: Oh Really??? | Comments: (0)

    January 25, 2006

    Your tax dollars at work

    There is just a point where you have to puke. Enough is enough.

    Let’s make sure we get this story right. You take the captured, uniformed general of an enemy army – and in blatant violation of all notions of human decency and of the Geneva Conventions— you beat him with rubber hoses, pour water down his nose, then stuff him into a sleeping bag, tie him with electrical cord, and then sit your ass down on his chest until he suffocates and you are convicted of what? “Negligent homicide?”

    Just what part of this deliberate torture-onto-death is negligent? And your punishment? A “reprimand,” a $6000 fine and house detention for eight weeks?

    So ruled a jury of six U.S. Army officers in the case of Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer Jr. much to the disgrace of our country, our people and, yes, the American armed forces.

    Read the whole post here. Is this the America any on us wants to be a part of? About 3,000 people died on 9/11. But they want to tell you it changed everything. You know what? Maybe 8,000 people died at the hands of Union Carbide in Bhopal. Did that change anything? We have let the government tragically over react to the events of 9/11. We are now state sponsored murderers. We will all be suffering the consequences of these actions for decades to come.

    Posted on: January 25, 2006 04:17 PM | Link: Your tax dollars at work | Comments: (0)

    January 16, 2006

    Washington Post Buries Ralph Reed

    Wow - this is really a bad article for Ralph Reed from the WaPo. I am not going to shed any tears for this joker, unless they are in laughter, like at this passage:

    "One of the most damaging e-mails was sent by Abramoff to partner Michael Scanlon, complaining about Reed's billing practices and expenditure claims: "He is a bad version of us! No more money for him." Scanlon and Abramoff have pleaded guilty to defrauding clients."

    When you have Jack Abramoff calling you a bad version of himself... the mind reels.

    Posted on: January 16, 2006 10:13 AM | Link: Washington Post Buries Ralph Reed | Comments: (0)

    December 07, 2005

    God Bless Joe Dante

    Someone is mad as hell and not going to take it anymore:

    "You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see what a fucking mess we're in," he continues. "It's been happening steadily for the past four years, and nobody said peep. The New York Times and all these people that abetted the lies and crap that went into making and selling this war - now that they see the guy is a little weak, they're kicking him with their toe to make sure he doesn't bite back. It's cowardly. This pitiful zombie movie, this fucking B movie, is the only thing anybody's done about this issue that's killed 2,000 Americans and untold numbers of Iraqis? It's fucking sick." While gratified by the warm reception to Homecoming in Turin, Dante says he's eager for the right-wing punditocracy back home to see it: "I hope this movie bothers a lot of people that disagree with it - and that it makes them really pissed off, as pissed off as the rest of us are."

    Posted on: December 7, 2005 07:52 PM | Link: God Bless Joe Dante | Comments: (0)

    November 08, 2005

    Unrelated events?

    Symbol of the System
    What do you get when you cross gutted labor laws with a corporate culture of impunity? Why, Wal-Mart, of course!

    There’s little secret to Wal-Mart’s success. The company will simply do whatever it takes to keep workers from organizing. “Staying union free is a full-time commitment,” reads one of the company’s training manuals. “[F]rom the Chairperson of the ‘Board’ down to the front-line manager … [t]he entire management staff should fully comprehend and appreciate exactly what is expected of their individual efforts to meet the union free objective.”

    Managers are trained to call a special hotline at the first sign of suspicious behavior, including “employees talking in hushed tones to each other.” After the call, the company’s notorious labor relations division headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas, will swing into gear, often dispatching a company jet to the afflicted store, bearing members of its crack team of union busters. Management will convene mandatory meetings with each associate and screen anti-union videos.

    Former managers, like Stan Fortune, who worked for Wal-Mart for 17 years and then went to work for UFCW, say the store also illegally follows union sympathizers and spies on its employees with cameras in break rooms. “One of their favorite tactics is to say, ‘We need to freeze all raises in the store because it can’t appear that we’re bribing anybody,’ ” Fortune says in the film.

    And then Wal-Mart will find a way to get rid of troublemakers. That’s what spelled the end of Fortune’s career as a manager at the company. In 2001 Fortune was managing a Wal-Mart in Weatherford, Texas, when his boss instructed him to fire an employee suspected of talking to the union. “I told him ‘I’m not firing him,’ ” Fortune says. “‘That’s illegal’ … He got in my face and said, ‘You fire him or I’m going to fire you.’ ” A week later, Fortune was gone. “I filed for unemployment and the state found I was fired without cause. That’s when I found out that means nothing in the real world.”

    Cheney Fights for Detainee Policy
    As Pressure Mounts to Limit Handling Of Terror Suspects, He Holds Hard Line

    Over the past year, Vice President Cheney has waged an intense and largely unpublicized campaign to stop Congress, the Pentagon and the State Department from imposing more restrictive rules on the handling of terrorist suspects, according to defense, state, intelligence and congressional officials.

    Last winter, when Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, began pushing to have the full committee briefed on the CIA's interrogation practices, Cheney called him to the White House to urge that he drop the matter, said three U.S. officials.

    In recent months, Cheney has been the force against adding safeguards to the Defense Department's rules on treatment of military prisoners, putting him at odds with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and acting Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon R. England. On a trip to Canada last month, Rice interrupted a packed itinerary to hold a secure video-teleconference with Cheney on detainee policy to make sure no decisions were made without her input.

    Deconstructing Cheney

    At world-shaping moments across a generation, Cheney reacted with an instinctive, This is war! He helped turn the War on Poverty into a war on the poor. He helped keep the Cold War going longer than it had to, and when it ended (because of initiatives taken by the other side), Cheney refused to believe it. To keep the US war machine up and running, he found a new justification just in time. With Gulf War I, Cheney ignited Osama bin Laden's burning purpose. Responding to 9/11, Cheney fulfilled bin Laden's purpose by joining him in the war-of-civilizations. Iraq, therefore (including the prewar deceit for which Scooter Libby takes the fall), is simply the last link in the chain of disaster which is the public career of Richard Cheney.

    President Cheney
    His office really does run national security.

    Much is still to be learned about how intelligence was used and abused in CTEG and OVP. But one story gives a hint of what the historians may find: When I interviewed him several months ago, Powell's former chief of staff Larry Wilkerson recounted the story of a meeting in the White House situation room during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq when policymakers met with top intelligence officials from a number of agencies. After the intelligence officials made their presentations, Douglas Feith "leapt to his feet, pointed to a certain National Intelligence Officer and declared 'You people don't know what you're talking about.' "

    Feith had worked for Cheney—together with Scooter Libby—when he was secretary of defense in the administration of George H.W. Bush and, according to former administration sources, was even closer to Rumsfeld than Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was. After that outburst, Feith held up a piece of paper and read aloud an account of al-Qaida's ties with Iraq in the early 1990s. Then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, a man well-known and well-liked in Washington for his gentlemanly manners, looked on, aghast at the scene. Wilkerson told me that after the end of the meeting, he got a copy of the paper and determined it was a newspaper clipping that had been retyped in the vice president's office to be presented as "intelligence."

    US forces 'used chemical weapons' during assault on city of Fallujah

    Powerful new evidence emerged yesterday that the United States dropped massive quantities of white phosphorus on the Iraqi city of Fallujah during the attack on the city in November 2004, killing insurgents and civilians with the appalling burns that are the signature of this weapon.

    Ever since the assault, which went unreported by any Western journalists, rumours have swirled that the Americans used chemical weapons on the city.

    On 10 November last year, the Islam Online website wrote: "US troops are reportedly using chemical weapons and poisonous gas in its large-scale offensive on the Iraqi resistance bastion of Fallujah, a grim reminder of Saddam Hussein's alleged gassing of the Kurds in 1988."

    The website quoted insurgent sources as saying: "The US occupation troops are gassing resistance fighters and confronting them with internationally banned chemical weapons."

    And watch this video to back up this story.

    FBI called in on Hill

    The FBI and Capitol Police are investigating the vicious attack of a top Senate staffer at her home last week amid concerns that the assault might be related to her work on the Finance Committee.

    Emilia DiSanto, chief investigator for committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), arrived at her suburban Virginia home after work Wednesday about 6:30 p.m. As she was unloading belongings from her car, a 6-foot-1-inch white man dressed in black struck her repeatedly with an unidentified object believed to be a baseball bat.

    After she screamed to her family inside the house, the assailant fled. DiSanto was transported to Inova Fair Oaks Hospital, where she was treated for significant upper-body injuries. Nine staples were needed to close her head wound.

    Posted on: November 8, 2005 04:14 PM | Link: Unrelated events? | Comments: (0)

    October 31, 2005

    Blowing out the numbers

    Over two and a half years into this debacle and we come upon this number: 93 Americans killed in Iraq this month! The 4th deadliest month of the war (these last throes take a while you know). These are blow out numbers folks, and we can expect them to explode upward from here now that the resistance in the low 80s a month has been broken. This is a positive trend line. The psychology of breaking through 2,000 total killed seems to have this market in death running wild. You can't stop a bull from running!

    In other news, the Vice President's Chief of Staff is a lying piece of shit and had to resign. Yep - he resigned, even though the President had said he would fire anyone involved (and Libby was not only the VP's COS - he was also an official Presidential Advisor). Go figure. Oh, and the President has also appointed a psycopath who hates women to the supreme court.

    Posted on: October 31, 2005 05:26 PM | Link: Blowing out the numbers | Comments: (0)

    October 24, 2005

    Senator Kay Bailey Gofuckyourself

    From Press the Meat with Pumpkin Head:

    "And secondly, I certainly hope that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn't indict on the crime and so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars."

    Ah, you know, Senator, when you say "they" in the above you are talking about a representative of the people of the United States, so you are talking about me, and so you can go fuck yourself. This case was so hot that Ashcroft had to walk away from it - it needed an outside prosecutor, and it got one. Let the chips fall where they may you skeletal hag. Not to mention that Fitzgerald to date has spent less than one million dollars. How much money did Ken Starr spend investigating a blow job? Some reports say 70 million dollars, and that investigation was supposed to be about a several thousand dollar land deal, not lying to the American people about sending the country to war.

    Posted on: October 24, 2005 12:50 AM | Link: Senator Kay Bailey Gofuckyourself | Comments: (0)

    October 16, 2005

    Its the WMD, stupid

    Judith Miller, Scooter Libby, Condoleeza Rice, Dick Cheney, John Bolton, Ahmed Chalabi, Karl Rove, Andy Card, Donald Rumsfeld, the WHIG, etc. We were lied into a war. All these people still have jobs. They are all connected. Miller's top secret clearance probably came directly from Rumsfeld, with Rove and Rice and Cheney in the know. They needed a mouthpiece on the "left" for the war, they got one in the NY Times. It is pathetic, illegal, and horrible. They should all be in jail.

    Posted on: October 16, 2005 08:18 PM | Link: Its the WMD, stupid | Comments: (0)

    October 06, 2005

    Harriett Miers, meet the late-night crew...

    It is just too funny (and easy) - stolen from Kos and Bill in Maine:

    "Big news this morning at the White House, President Bush defended his nominee, Harriet Miers, calling her 'plenty bright.' Not only that, but then the president said Miers has 'real purdy hair.' Then he got on a mule and headed south." --Conan O'Brien

    "She's never been a judge before...never served on the bench. This is part of President Bush's strategy of surrounding himself with people who are also in over their heads." --Jay Leno

    "Welcome to the 'Late Show,' ladies and gentlemen. It's like the Supreme Court, anyone can get in here."
    --David Letterman

    Posted on: October 6, 2005 03:37 PM | Link: Harriett Miers, meet the late-night crew... | Comments: (0)

    September 26, 2005

    The Real Story

    In case it isn't clear (and clearly it isn't) Josh Marshall states the obvious today in plain language about Abramoff and his gang:

    "He was a key player in a very big political machine and he was managing a slush fund."

    Read the whole post. In case you still can't connect the dots Josh lays it out pretty simply - Abramoff would charge millions with the promise of his access and influence, and then turn around and funnel that money out to the likes of Reed, Norquist, and possibly even Rove. This is about as big a story as there is - to me rivaling Watergate and any other real or imagined scandal that I can remember. As nearly the whole federal government seems to be packed with political appointees and campaign advance men, it will be very interesting to see if the few independent people left in the DOJ and the SEC and other bodies will ever take these guys down.

    Posted on: September 26, 2005 04:50 AM | Link: The Real Story | Comments: (1)

    September 20, 2005

    Jim Kunstler

    "Was it a good thing to buy a 3,600 square foot house 32 miles outside Minneapolis with an interest-only adjustable rate mortgage -- with natural gas for home heating running at $12 a unit and gasoline over $3 a gallon? Was it the right choice to run three credit cards up to their $5000 limit? Was I chump to think my pension from Acme Airlines would really be there for me? Do I really owe the Middletown Hospital $17,678 for a gall bladder operation that took forty-five minutes? And why did they charge me $238 for a plastic catheter?"

    I don't know a lot about Jim Kunstler, but the bit above strikes me pretty head on. How many millions of Americans are in this situation? Sometime, and a lot of people think sometime soon, we are going to find out. This is a rather bleak but powerful speech by Kunstler that I also find myself agreeing a lot with. And I also like his paintings.

    Posted on: September 20, 2005 03:55 AM | Link: Jim Kunstler | Comments: (0)

    September 15, 2005

    More weird Iraq food notes...

    Remember the guy who fucked up Iraq - no not him - this guy:

    "This stove was an important part of my sanity," Bremer remembers with a smile as he leans against a half-ton of blue enameled cast iron, stainless steel and brass -- a La Cornue range -- in the Vermont vacation home he keeps with his wife Francie and where he is writing a book on his Iraq experiences.

    "I had a picture of this house on my computer desktop in Baghdad," says Bremer, who also has a home in Chevy Chase. "If someone asked, I'd say, 'That's where I'm building my dream kitchen.' "

    And that culinary incentive helped to keep him going in the pressure-cooker job as the controversial administrator of Iraq's reconstruction, because Bremer is also a classically trained French cook.

    Yes. L. Paul Bremer likes to cook - is trained to cook! FANTASTIC! Who the FUCK cares? 100,000 plus people are dead! But L. Paul Bremer makes a mean Fontainebleau, garnished with pomegranate molasses! Great! The Washington Post titled this puke "From Diplomacy to Demi-Glace" - I looked up "Diplomacy" in the Bat Shit Crazy World Thesarus and guess what? It can also be used for the phrase "Fucking Shit Up".

    Is this how it ends? Anecdotes about coffee and cake while more of our troops and Iraq's citizens die and fade from our memory...

    Can I get some coffee with mine Mr. Bremer?

    Posted on: September 15, 2005 06:50 PM | Link: More weird Iraq food notes... | Comments: (0)

    No coffee in the cradle of civilization...

    I don't know who coined the term bat shit crazy, but, you know, if the shoe fits:

    BIll O’Reilly: The truth of the matter is that our correspondents here at Fox News can’t go out for a cup of coffee in Baghdad.

    Condoleeza Rice: No, but the people -

    BIll O’Reilly (interrupting, what else is new): That's a tough, that's tough (OH MY GOD! HOW TOUGH IS IT BILL?)

    Condoleeza Rice: No, it's, it's tough. But - would they have wanted to go out for a cup of coffee in Baghdad when Saddam Hussein was in power? I don't think so.

    Yes Madame Secretary, no coffee was drank while Saddam was in power by any foreign journalists. And you know just in case you think I am being crazy, or misinterpreting or misrepresenting her statement (which is impossible because it makes no fucking sense!), I bet there were probably hundreds, if not thousands of journalists, from nations all over the world, including the United States, who drank many thousands, if not millions of FUCKING CUPS OF COFFEE in Baghdad while Saddam was still in power.

    This is my country? This kind of inane - insane - drivel?? We're finished folks.

    From Atrios via Think Progress

    Posted on: September 15, 2005 06:05 PM | Link: No coffee in the cradle of civilization... | Comments: (0)

    September 09, 2005

    FUCK RICK SANTORUM

    I have just completely had it with this asshole. From the National Weather Service, on AUGUST 28th:

    URGENT - WEATHER MESSAGE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEW ORLEANS LA 1011 AM CDT SUN AUG 28 2005

    ...DEVASTATING DAMAGE EXPECTED...

    .HURRICANE KATRINA...A MOST POWERFUL HURRICANE WITH UNPRECEDENTED
    STRENGTH...RIVALING THE INTENSITY OF HURRICANE CAMILLE OF 1969.

    MOST OF THE AREA WILL BE UNINHABITABLE FOR WEEKS...PERHAPS LONGER. AT
    LEAST ONE HALF OF WELL CONSTRUCTED HOMES WILL HAVE ROOF AND WALL
    FAILURE. ALL GABLED ROOFS WILL FAIL...LEAVING THOSE HOMES SEVERELY
    DAMAGED OR DESTROYED.

    THE MAJORITY OF INDUSTRIAL BUILDINGS WILL BECOME NON FUNCTIONAL.
    PARTIAL TO COMPLETE WALL AND ROOF FAILURE IS EXPECTED. ALL WOOD
    FRAMED LOW RISING APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL BE DESTROYED. CONCRETE
    BLOCK LOW RISE APARTMENTS WILL SUSTAIN MAJOR DAMAGE...INCLUDING SOME
    WALL AND ROOF FAILURE.

    HIGH RISE OFFICE AND APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL SWAY DANGEROUSLY...A
    FEW TO THE POINT OF TOTAL COLLAPSE. ALL WINDOWS WILL BLOW OUT.

    AIRBORNE DEBRIS WILL BE WIDESPREAD...AND MAY INCLUDE HEAVY ITEMS SUCH
    AS HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES AND EVEN LIGHT VEHICLES. SPORT UTILITY
    VEHICLES AND LIGHT TRUCKS WILL BE MOVED. THE BLOWN DEBRIS WILL CREATE
    ADDITIONAL DESTRUCTION. PERSONS...PETS...AND LIVESTOCK EXPOSED TO THE
    WINDS WILL FACE CERTAIN DEATH IF STRUCK.

    POWER OUTAGES WILL LAST FOR WEEKS...AS MOST POWER POLES WILL BE DOWN
    AND TRANSFORMERS DESTROYED. WATER SHORTAGES WILL MAKE HUMAN SUFFERING
    INCREDIBLE BY MODERN STANDARDS.

    THE VAST MAJORITY OF NATIVE TREES WILL BE SNAPPED OR UPROOTED. ONLY
    THE HEARTIEST WILL REMAIN STANDING...BUT BE TOTALLY DEFOLIATED. FEW
    CROPS WILL REMAIN. LIVESTOCK LEFT EXPOSED TO THE WINDS WILL BE
    KILLED.

    AN INLAND HURRICANE WIND WARNING IS ISSUED WHEN SUSTAINED WINDS NEAR
    HURRICANE FORCE...OR FREQUENT GUSTS AT OR ABOVE HURRICANE FORCE...ARE
    CERTAIN WITHIN THE NEXT 12 TO 24 HOURS.

    ONCE TROPICAL STORM AND HURRICANE FORCE WINDS ONSET...DO NOT VENTURE
    OUTSIDE!

    Santorum today:

    (Washington) -- U.S. Senator Rick Santorum is suggesting that early mistakes in predicting the path of Hurricane Katrina may be a symptom of lost focus at the National Weather Service. Santorum, who introduced legislation earlier this year to curb the output of government weather forecasters, says tracking life-threatening weather must be central to what the agency is doing.

    Asked about Katrina by WITF, Santorum described weather service warnings for Florida, where the storm first made landfall, as “not sufficient." Santorum’s bill instructs the government to abandon weather prediction and data reporting efforts that duplicate private-sector activity. He came under fire when it was revealed that the head of State College-based AccuWeather, which would benefit, has given his campaigns thousands of dollars

    There isn't much left to say to Rick Santorum but FUCK YOU ASSHOLE. But the National Weather Service Employees Union tried a milder approach:

    The National Weather Service Employees Union issued the following statement today in response to Rick Santorum's misguided comments about the performance of the National Weather Service concerning Hurricane Katrina.

    "The bottom line is that we did our job well and everyone knows it. By falsely claiming that we got it wrong, Rick Santorum is continuing his misguided crusade against the National Weather Service. It’s unfortunate that Senator Santorum would try to use this tragedy to push his own agenda. Senator Santorum's comments are aimed at jumpstarting his bizarre stalled legislation to undermine the mission of the National Weather Service, legislation that has failed to garner the support of even one of his colleagues in the U.S. Senate.” said Paul Greaves, President of NWSEO.

    The early warnings about Hurricane Katrina issued by the National Weather Service have been praised for their accuracy by news organizations such as NBC News, The New York Times and even internationally by The London Times.

    "The fact is that we issued several warnings about the oncoming storm. Sadly, many of those warnings fell on deaf ears.

    "We urge Senator Santorum to retract his remarks about the National Weather Service. Senator Santorum would be providing a better service to the nation if he focused his efforts on helping the victims of this hurricane, instead of lashing out against the hardworking men and women of the National Weather Service who prove their worth each day." said Mr. Greaves.

    (Of course the back story to all of this is Santorum trying to get the NWS to stop putting free weather forecasts on the web, etc. He took some money from the guy who runs Accuweather, which just happens to be located in... State College, PA. [Here is some more background from Majikthise] The only thing worse than being an American today is being an American from Pennysylvania)

    Posted on: September 9, 2005 04:04 PM | Link: FUCK RICK SANTORUM | Comments: (1)

    September 08, 2005

    You must read Digby

    "Be skeptical, my friends, and don't let these claims go unchallenged. This is the illness in our American soul that will not die. It lurks inside all of us, of all races, to some degree. I grew up inside the belly of the beast and I know that I must be vigilant to challenge certain assumptions.

    Martin Luther King and the freedom marchers weren't shitting in the streets in 1965. Desperate victims of Hurricane Katrina were not animals --- they were treated like animals. Let's make sure that we understand the difference."

    Read the whole thing.

    Posted on: September 8, 2005 08:16 PM | Link: You must read Digby | Comments: (0)

    Queen Bitch

    And don't forget this:

    Barbara Bush Calls Evacuees Better Off

    By THE NEW YORK TIMES
    Published: September 7, 2005
    WASHINGTON, Sept. 6 - As President Bush battled criticism over the response to Hurricane Katrina, his mother declared it a success for evacuees who "were underprivileged anyway," saying on Monday that many of the poor people she had seen while touring a Houston relocation site were faring better than before the storm hit.

    "What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas," Barbara Bush said in an interview on Monday with the radio program "Marketplace." "Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality."

    "And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway," she said, "so this is working very well for them."

    Posted on: September 8, 2005 04:08 PM | Link: Queen Bitch | Comments: (0)

    Katrina

    The Katrina thing really got to me. We were in the middle of relocating to Italy, so while I did keep up with the news, I haven't time to comment on it, and frankly couldn't see what my words would add at the moment. Now with some time to reflect I do see it as a total failure of the federal government, and you can bet I lay the blame squarely on Bush - but not just him. He doesn't have a clue obviously as to what goes on in this country or the world - that is what sane people were worrying about when he became President. And as for Rove and all his evils - well - you have to be naive not to know how modern politics work in the USA. Those who share the most in the blame are the 51% of the people who bothered to go out and vote, and then voted for this administration. You get the government you deserve someone once said, and this is what those ill informed, god fearing, morons got. Any person who makes less the 200k a year, any person of any color, and any woman that voted for George Bush is a clueless patsy to me - there is no other way to look at it. People, you need to educate yourself and do the right thing for yourself in the future, before this country disappears before our eyes.

    From the NY Times:

    08orleans184.2.jpg"In the downtown business district here, on a dry stretch of Union Street, past the Omni Bank automated teller machine, across from a parking garage offering "early bird" rates: a corpse. Its feet jut from a damp blue tarp. Its knees rise in rigor mortis. Six National Guardsmen walked up to it on Tuesday afternoon and two blessed themselves with the sign of the cross. One soldier took a parting snapshot like some visiting conventioneer, and they walked away. New Orleans, September 2005. Hours passed, the dusk of curfew crept, the body remained. A Louisiana state trooper around the corner knew all about it: murder victim, bludgeoned, one of several in that area. The police marked it with traffic cones maybe four days ago, he said, and then he joked that if you wanted to kill someone here, this was a good time. Night came, then this morning, then noon, and another sun beat down on a dead son of the Crescent City. That a corpse lies on Union Street may not shock; in the wake of last week's hurricane, there are surely hundreds, probably thousands. What is remarkable is that on a downtown street in a major American city, a corpse can decompose for days, like carrion, and that is acceptable."

    Here is a great piece from Tom Engelhardt.

    And for anyone who wants to believe that President Vacation didn't know what was coming:

    On Saturday night, Mayfield was so worried about Hurricane Katrina that he called the governors of Louisiana and Mississippi and the mayor of New Orleans. On Sunday, he even talked about the force of Katrina during a video conference call to President Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

    "I just wanted to be able to go to sleep that night knowing that I did all I could do," Mayfield said.

    A video conference call with the head of the National Hurricane Center - before the storm hit. What more do you want? And yet he vacationed, partied, cut cake and played the guitar for 2 more days!

    Posted on: September 8, 2005 09:36 AM | Link: Katrina | Comments: (0)

    September 03, 2005

    Kanye West

    "George Bush doesn't care about black people."

    Amen brother.

    Posted on: September 3, 2005 12:12 PM | Link: Kanye West | Comments: (0)

    August 17, 2005

    Biking Toward Nowhere

    From MoDo today:

    How could President Bush be cavorting around on a long vacation with American troops struggling with a spiraling crisis in Iraq?

    Wasn't he worried that his vacation activities might send a frivolous signal at a time when he had put so many young Americans in harm's way?

    "I'm determined that life goes on," Mr. Bush said stubbornly.

    That wasn't the son, believe it or not. It was the father - 15 years ago. I was in Kennebunkport then to cover the first President Bush's frenetic attempts to relax while reporters were pressing him about how he could be taking a month to play around when he had started sending American troops to the Persian Gulf only three days before.

    On Saturday, the current President Bush was pressed about how he could be taking five weeks to ride bikes and nap and fish and clear brush even though his occupation of Iraq had become a fiasco. "I think it's also important for me to go on with my life," W. said, "to keep a balanced life."

    Pressed about how he could ride his bike while refusing to see a grieving mom of a dead soldier who's camped outside his ranch, he added: "So I'm mindful of what goes on around me. On the other hand, I'm also mindful that I've got a life to live and will do so."

    Ah, the insensitivity of reporters who ask the President Bushes how they can expect to deal with Middle East fighting while they're off fishing.

    The first President Bush told us that he kept a telephone in his golf cart and his cigarette boat so he could easily stay on top of Saddam's invasion of Kuwait. But at least he seemed worried that he was sending the wrong signal, as his boating and golfing was juxtaposed on the news with footage of the frightened families of troops leaving for the Middle East.

    "I just don't like taking questions on serious matters on my vacation," the usually good-natured Bush senior barked at reporters on the golf course. "So I hope you'll understand if I, when I'm recreating, will recreate." His hot-tempered oldest son, who was golfing with his father that day, was even more irritated. "Hey! Hey!" W. snapped at reporters asking questions on the first tee. "Can't you wait until we finish hitting, at least?"

    Junior always had his priorities straight.

    As W.'s neighbors get in scraps with the antiwar forces coalescing around the ranch; as the Pentagon tries to rustle up updated armor for our soldiers, who are still sitting ducks in the third year of the war; as the Iraqi police we train keep getting blown up by terrorists, who come right back every time U.S. troops beat them up; as Shiites working on the Iraqi constitution conspire with Iran about turning Iraq into an Islamic state that represses women; and as Iraq hurtles toward a possible civil war, W. seems far more oblivious than his father was with his Persian Gulf crisis.

    This president is in a truly scary place in Iraq. Americans can't get out, or they risk turning the country into a terrorist haven that will make the old Afghanistan look like Cipriani's. Yet his war, which has not accomplished any of its purposes, swallows ever more American lives and inflames ever more Muslim hearts as W. reads a book about the history of salt and looks forward to his biking date with Lance Armstrong on Saturday.

    The son wanted to go into Iraq to best his daddy in the history books, by finishing what Bush senior started. He swept aside the warnings of Brent Scowcroft and Colin Powell and didn't bother to ask his father's advice. Now he is caught in the very trap his father said he feared: that America would get bogged down as "an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land," facing a possibly "barren" outcome.

    It turns out that the people of Iraq have ethnic and religious identities, not a national identity. Shiites and Kurds want to suppress the Sunnis who once repressed them and break off into their own states, smashing the Bush model kitchen of democracy.

    At long last, a senior Bush official admits that administration officials can no longer cling to their own version of reality. "We are in a process of absorbing the factors of the situation we're in and shedding the unreality that dominated at the beginning," the official told The Washington Post.

    They had better start absorbing and shedding a lot faster, before many more American kids die to create a pawn of Iran. And they had better tell the Boy in the Bubble, who continues to dwell in delusion, hailing the fights and delays on the Iraqi constitution as "a tribute to democracy."

    The president's pedaling as fast as he can, but he's going nowhere.

    What can you add to this? The Iraq debacle is going to go down as the biggest fuck up of the new century. Even though we have 95 more years to go to try something stupider, I don't think it is possible. And yet the guy at the switch is just slogging around his ranch for 5 weeks. How does that make most of the people serving in Iraq feel? How about the generals here? Senators, congress people? Are you all down with that? Is it okay that the commander in chief is just fucking around while Iraq and our reputation burns, while thousands die?? I am really tired of this story.

    Posted on: August 17, 2005 12:44 PM | Link: Biking Toward Nowhere | Comments: (0)

    August 15, 2005

    This is just ridiculous

    You just get so tired of the bullshit. Who the fuck do these people think they are? Do you remember this:

    "Why should we hear about body bags, and deaths, and how many, what day it's gonna happen, and how many this or what do you suppose? Or, I mean, it's, it's not relevant. So, why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?"

    That was mommy, March 18, 2003, on ABC/Good Morning America. Fast forward a couple of years:

    "I think it's also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life."

    "I think the people want the president to be in a position to make good, crisp decisions and to stay healthy,"

    "And part of my being is to be outside exercising."

    It's just pathetic. How selfish, out of touch, BRAIN DEAD is this family?

    Posted on: August 15, 2005 11:12 AM | Link: This is just ridiculous | Comments: (0)

    August 08, 2005

    This is the U.S. today...

    Here are a couple of must read stories:

    Slaying in dispute over war might be a first

    By Lee Mueller

    EASTERN KENTUCKY BUREAU

    PRESTONSBURG - The Iraq war has been a divisive issue in America for more than two years now, but a shooting at an Eastern Kentucky flea market this week might have marked the first time a dispute over the war has resulted in a death.

    A quarrel between two firearms vendors at a Floyd County flea market on Thursday allegedly led both men -- described as "good friends" -- to draw guns. Douglas Moore, 65, of Martin, who supports the war, shot and killed Harold Wayne Smith, 56, of Manchester, who opposed it, investigators said.

    Click here to read the whole thing.

    And this from Dave Neiwert:

    Minutemen: A home for extremists

    This is a recent Minutemen rally. And yes, that's a Nazi flag there, third from the right.

    Well, I've been saying all along that the Minutemen's core demographic is constituted of right-wing extremists, including many outright racists.

    At a recent anti-immigrant rally in Laguna Beach, the connection was made explicit.

    The rally was held July 30. It apparently was a follow-up of sorts to a similar rally held in the same locale on July 16, in which a local anti-immigration activist decided to protest a local arts festival's financial support for a day labor center for undocument workers. This rally drew the participation of the Save Our State campaign (an ostensibly mainstream anti-immigration organization) and the Minutemen's Jim Gilchrist. It also drew a contingent of neo-Nazis.

    The rest is here.

    Posted on: August 8, 2005 11:11 AM | Link: This is the U.S. today... | Comments: (0)

    August 03, 2005

    Why does the President take a 5 week vacation?

    I ask this question very seriously. I have asked it before too. We are "at war" - as you hear over and over again (or maybe that is why the GWOT has been given a rest suddenly, since Shrub was heading down to do some brush clearing...) - why doesn't this cracker just stay in Washington and get something done? I love this quote:

    "... I'll also be kind of making sure my Texas roots run deep."

    Hah! That's a real knee slapper. Born in Connecticut, did something at Yale for awhile, Harvard... Texas roots, yeeowww.

    Posted on: August 3, 2005 05:57 PM | Link: Why does the President take a 5 week vacation? | Comments: (0)

    August 02, 2005

    Our President

    From Knight Ridder:

    "Karl's got my complete confidence. He's a valuable member of my team," Bush said. "Why don't you wait and see what the true facts are?"

    As opposed to what - the untrue facts?

    Posted on: August 2, 2005 02:44 AM | Link: Our President | Comments: (0)

    August 01, 2005

    Who's Paying for Our Patriotism?

    From the Washington Post:

    By Uwe E. Reinhardt

    President Bush assures us that the ongoing twin wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are worth the sacrifices they entail. Editorialists around the nation agree and say that a steadfast American public was willing to stay the course.

    Should anyone be surprised by this national resolve, given that these wars visit no sacrifice of any sort -- neither blood nor angst nor taxes -- on well over 95 percent of the American people?

    At most, 500,000 American troops are at risk of being deployed to these war theaters at some time. Assume that for each of them some 20 members of the wider family sweat with fear when they hear that a helicopter crashed in Afghanistan or that X number of soldiers or Marines were killed or seriously wounded in Iraq. It implies that no more than 10 million Americans have any real emotional connection to these wars.

    The administration and Congress have gone to extraordinary lengths to insulate voters from the money cost of the wars -- to the point even of excluding outlays for them from the regular budget process. Furthermore, they have financed the wars not with taxes but by borrowing abroad.

    The strategic shielding of most voters from any emotional or financial sacrifice for these wars cannot but trigger the analogue of what is called "moral hazard" in the context of health insurance, a field in which I've done a lot of scholarly work. There, moral hazard refers to the tendency of well-insured patients to use health care with complete indifference to the cost they visit on others. It has prompted President Bush to advocate health insurance with very high deductibles. But if all but a handful of Americans are completely insulated against the emotional -- and financial -- cost of war, is it not natural to suspect moral hazard will be at work in that context as well?

    A policymaking elite whose families and purses are shielded from the sacrifices war entails may rush into it hastily and ill prepared, as surely was the case of the Iraq war. Moral hazard in this context can explain why a nation that once built a Liberty Ship every two weeks and thousands of newly designed airplanes in the span of a few years now takes years merely to properly arm and armor its troops with conventional equipment. Moral hazard can explain why, in wartime, the TV anchors on the morning and evening shows barely make time to report on the wars, lest the reports displace the silly banter with which they seek to humor their viewers. Do they ever wonder how military families with loved ones in the fray might feel after hearing ever so briefly of mayhem in Iraq or Afghanistan?

    Moral hazard also can explain why the general public is so noticeably indifferent to the plight of our troops and their families. To be sure, we paste cheap magnetic ribbons on our cars to proclaim our support for the troops. But at the same time, we allow families of reservists and National Guard members to slide into deep financial distress as their loved ones stand tall for us on lethal battlefields and the family is deprived of these troops' typically higher civilian salaries. We offer a pittance in disability pay to seriously wounded soldiers who have not served the full 20 years that entitles them to a regular pension. And our legislative representatives make a disgraceful spectacle of themselves bickering over a mere $1 billion or so in added health care spending by the Department of Veterans Affairs -- in a nation with a $13 trillion economy!

    Last year kind-hearted folks in New Jersey collected $12,000 at a pancake feed to help stock pantries for financially hard-pressed families of the National Guard. Food pantries for American military families? The state of Illinois now allows taxpayers to donate their tax refunds to such families. For the entire year 2004, slightly more than $400,000 was collected in this way, or 3 cents per capita. It is the equivalent of about 100,000 cups of Starbucks coffee. With a similar program Rhode Island collected about 1 cent per capita. Is this what we mean by "supporting our troops"?

    When our son, then a recent Princeton graduate, decided to join the Marine Corps in 2001, I advised him thus: "Do what you must, but be advised that, flourishing rhetoric notwithstanding, this nation will never truly honor your service, and it will condemn you to the bottom of the economic scrap heap should you ever get seriously wounded." The intervening years have not changed my views; they have reaffirmed them.

    Unlike the editors of the nation's newspapers, I am not at all impressed by people who resolve to have others stay the course in Iraq and in Afghanistan. At zero sacrifice, who would not have that resolve?

    The writer is James Madison professor of political economy at Princeton University.

    Posted on: August 1, 2005 02:04 PM | Link: Who's Paying for Our Patriotism? | Comments: (0)

    July 09, 2005

    Things that are hard to quantify

    Certain things are hard to quantify, especially if you have a career and a family and making an informed comment would mean a lot of reading, research, etc. But you can have certain feelings, based on the news you do get, your personal experiences, and those of your friends and family. So if I think some things (some things that may be broad, sweeping generalizations) or have certain beliefs, like the education system in the U.S. is in trouble, that our health care situation is a mess, that a lot of the people you come in contact with in the real world on a day to day basis are grossly incompetent, maybe that is just me being an uniformed, over opinionated jerk. But then you come across a story like this:

    From CBC News:

    Toyota to build 100,000 vehicles per year in Woodstock, Ont., starting 2008

    WOODSTOCK, Ont. (CP) - Ontario workers are well-trained.

    That simple explanation was cited as a main reason why Toyota turned its back on hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies offered from several American states in favour of building a second Ontario plant.

    Industry experts say Ontarians are easier and cheaper to train - helping make it more cost-efficient to train workers when the new Woodstock plant opens in 2008, 40 kilometres away from its skilled workforce in Cambridge.

    "The level of the workforce in general is so high that the training program you need for people, even for people who have not worked in a Toyota plant before, is minimal compared to what you have to go through in the southeastern United States," said Gerry Fedchun, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association, whose members will see increased business with the new plant.

    Acknowledging it was the "worst-kept secret" throughout Ontario's automotive industry, Toyota confirmed months of speculation Thursday by announcing plans to build a 1,300-worker factory in the southwestern Ontario city.

    "Welcome to Woodstock - that's something I've been waiting a long time to say," Ray Tanguay, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, told hundreds gathered at a high school gymnasium.

    The plant will produce the RAV-4, dubbed by some as a "mini sport-utility vehicle" that Toyota currently makes only in Japan. It plans to build 100,000 vehicles annually.

    The factory will cost $800 million to build, with the federal and provincial governments kicking in $125 million of that to help cover research, training and infrastructure costs.

    Several U.S. states were reportedly prepared to offer more than double that amount of subsidy. But Fedchun said much of that extra money would have been eaten away by higher training costs than are necessary for the Woodstock project.

    He said Nissan and Honda have encountered difficulties getting new plants up to full production in recent years in Mississippi and Alabama due to an untrained - and often illiterate - workforce. In Alabama, trainers had to use "pictorials" to teach some illiterate workers how to use high-tech plant equipment.

    "The educational level and the skill level of the people down there is so much lower than it is in Ontario," Fedchun said.

    In addition to lower training costs, Canadian workers are also $4 to $5 cheaper to employ partly thanks to the taxpayer-funded health-care system in Canada, said federal Industry Minister David Emmerson.

    "Most people don't think of our health-care system as being a competitive advantage," he said.

    Tanguay said Toyota's decision on where to build its seventh North American plant was "not only about money."

    "It's about being in the right place," he said, noting the company can rely on the expertise of experienced Cambridge workers to help get Woodstock up and running.

    I first saw this mentioned on Intel Dump and now on the Daily Kos (check them both out for their comments on the story), but I just can't get over the stark realities of it, or the sickening contradiction of the states in the U.S. willing to give bigger subsidies to the companies while not properly funding education in their own states.

    Posted on: July 9, 2005 11:52 AM | Link: Things that are hard to quantify | Comments: (0)

    July 06, 2005

    Some interesting commentary

    The breakfast conversation this morning briefly touched on politics/politicians and the question of can this country ever be taken back/governed again by the people and not giant corporate interests. I think not, and not because I am being a pessismist out of hand, but beacause it just seems that there are underlying social conditions that will not change (the influence of television and the complete failure of the public education system are a couple of examples).

    Anyway - here are links to a couple of recent things that while maybe not addressing the issue directly have influenced the the way I think about it:

    Unbelievable... from Riverbend and Goodbye Columbus from Billmon (the Whiskey Bar).

    Posted on: July 6, 2005 10:35 AM | Link: Some interesting commentary | Comments: (0)

    July 02, 2005

    Digby

    Since I have no time for original thought, here are Digby's:

    Everyone Should Hate France

    Tom Friedman is right. France is a real hellhole. Ask anyone who spends any time there. Like Richard Perle, neocon France-hater.

    I can't understand those fools who think that France has the best definition of the good life. Who would ever think that great food, great weather, great wine, interesting political conversation,great museums, great writers -- long vacations, long meals, light religion, universal health care, laid back sexual attitudes, and beautiful countryside are worth giving up shopping for? They trade money for time to read, think, rest, talk and all those other useless wastes of time.

    That's unacceptable. Nobody should go there. Especially workaholic Americans. Not that there's anything wrong with workaholism. I realize it's the highest state of Randian being. Especially if you are working a couple of low paying, low satisfaction jobs. God wants you to work hard and buy a lot of shit at Walmart for Jesus. So don't go to France. They don't have anything good to buy.

    I have criticized Friedman here before, and it really should be obvious to anyone who can read and think critically, that the guy is just an ass. An ass with a job that gives him a lot more clout than someone with his intellectual capacity deserves. He just isn't smart enough for what he does.

    Posted on: July 2, 2005 10:26 PM | Link: Digby | Comments: (0)

    June 09, 2005

    The Andijan Massacre, May 13, 2005

    "We couldn’t even raise our heads, the bullets were falling like rain. Whoever raised their head died instantly. I also thought I was going to die right there."

    It sounds like something from WWII - but it was just last month. This is the world we are living in. These are our allies, toasted in Washington D.C. and celebrated by our "leaders". Read the whole Human Rights Watch report here.

    Posted on: June 9, 2005 12:17 AM | Link: The Andijan Massacre, May 13, 2005 | Comments: (0)

    May 27, 2005

    Rant

    What a couple of weeks. The Senate Democrats managed to avert the Nuclear Option, the vote on John Bolton gets delayed again (The Washington Note for all things Bolton), and Newsweek magazine is responsible for a bunch of deaths in Afghanistan - but now they're not.

    Hunter on the Daily Kos just put up a must read post regarding the whole Guantanamo mess - "Columnist Stumbles On Guantanamo; Several Blindingly Obvious Conclusions Found Dead "

    You now know what anyone with an I.Q. above week-old pizza was raising their voice about from the moment the camp opened. You now know why some of us have been marking the connections between military figures who shuffled between Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and Afghanistan in apparent order to make damn sure we were beating, maiming, and killing as many prisoners as possible in all three locations. You now know why the notion of making Alberto Gonzales (the man responsible for tweaking the rules to allow the Bush administration to laughably pretend that any of this was anything resembling something other than a war crime) freakin' Attorney General was treated by much of the reality-based community as something between a sick joke and the world's most asinine reality show.

    Personally I am feeling a palatable sense of despair from the fact that the actions of the U.S. in these last few post 9/11 years have really fucked the world over in the long term, and made our future and our children's futures so much more murky. Yes that's right - we fucked up. I can't see what policy and action we have taken is actually better than if we had done nothing. As Juan Cole points out in an elegant recent rebuttal piece, "Sometimes You are Just Screwed"

    When you have the spokespeople for the White House (McClellan) and the Defense Department (DiRita) lying - LYING to the press, the nation, and the world - well - guys, you have dug your own grave. We have nothing left, no credibility beyond our borders, and judging by the poll numbers probably about 40% within. What doesn't the U.S. citizenry understand about this story? We have killed over 100 people in our custody. We are torturing people. The U.S. of A. On the backs of the taxpayer. How are we settling for/standing for this? How hard is this administration going to push before the whole thing blows up in their collective face? Everyone from Bush, to Perle, to Dobson, to Frist, to Cheney, to Limbaugh - to the media outlets that do their bidding, to all of you who watch Fox and think you are getting the "news". This is the Planet Earth to most Republicans: your plan is not working - wake the fuck up and start doing something that makes sense.

    Posted on: May 27, 2005 08:25 PM | Link: Rant | Comments: (0)

    Boom & Bust

    Paul Krugman is worried today about what happens when the housing bubble bursts (and I think it will burst). I remember when the stock bubble was bursting and I was wondering what would be next - I didn't see the housing market then as the answer, but obviously in hindsight it was. And before the stock bubble we had the great S&L robbery bubble.

    So, while Krugman is worried and I am worried I don't think that when the housing bubble bursts it will be as bad as some people think. There will be something else, a next great thing, and I am increasingly thinking that if the housing market does start to retreat it will begin another large, long bull run as people look to put their money to work somewhere.

    Posted on: May 27, 2005 12:16 PM | Link: Boom & Bust | Comments: (0)

    May 23, 2005

    Bizarro World

    When I can agree with anything that comes out of the mouth of Trent Lott, you know we are truly in bizzaro world:

    "James Dobson: Who does he think he is, questioning my conservative credentials?" Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., said in an interview. Dobson, head of the conservative group Focus on the Family, criticized Lott for his efforts to forge a compromise in the fight over the judges. Lott is still angry. "Some of his language and conduct is quite un-Christian, and I don't appreciate it," the senator said.

    The story is at (GASP!) USAToday.com.

    This has to signal that the world is not only flat, it is actually made out of matzo.

    Posted on: May 23, 2005 05:25 PM | Link: Bizarro World | Comments: (0)

    May 20, 2005

    You can't make this stuff up...

    George Bush just said this:

    "Remember," Mr. Bush said, "these are ideologues that murder innocent people in order to spread their dark vision of hate."

    Posted on: May 20, 2005 03:20 PM | Link: You can't make this stuff up... | Comments: (0)

    May 19, 2005

    One more reason to be happy the NY Times is going subscription

    David Brooks' latest: Bashing Newsweek

    "Maybe it won't be so bad being cut off from the blogosphere."

    It won't be bad, it will be great when the Times takes you behind the curtain, because I won't have to read the kind of garbage you wrote today. Almost every paragraph in "Bashing Newsweek" is wrong, and you know it.

    "Dennis Prager, who is intelligent 99 percent of the time"

    Prager is a farce, and ideologue and a racist. You know that. To say otherwise is intellectually bankrupt.

    "leftish Web sites are in a frenzy to prove that the story is probably true"

    David get your head out of the sand - the story probably is true. It has been reported for over a year in various news outlets which you could easily find if you cared to look.

    "They're attacking Newsweek while bending over backward to show sensitivity to the Afghans who just went on a murderous rampage."

    Its called bait and switch, blame the messenger, whatever you want. What can this administration do except try to come up with more versions of "it's not our fault"? We invaded Afghanistan, remember? And now we have practically abandoned it to chase after fictitious WMD in Iraq. But a riot there now, and people killed - it, it was NEWSWEEK! Newsweek did it! Nothing to do with more failed administration actions and policies.

    "They've spent so many years inhabiting a delusional mental landscape filled with conspiracy theories and paranoia that you could drill deep into their minds without ever touching reality."

    Hmm, really. And I wonder why that is? Didn't we help ravage Afghanistan for over 10 years? Didn't we arm and train the father's of the Taliban against the Russians? Didn't we prop up Saddam in his battle with Iraq? Didn't we install the Shah in Iran? Haven't we been screwing around in the region for decades? Don't we now and haven't we for years supported Mubarak? How do you think the citizens of Uzbekistan feel right now knowing that we support their President? Could you look me in the eye and honestly say that Ariel "man of peace" Sharon is not a murderer? Why is it that you guys on the right never seem to think that decades of U.S. policies and actions always seem to have no cause and effect? Have you ever spent any time in the Middle East? Why do Arabs on the street think all Americans are CIA? Because we have been there screwing around in the affairs for decades.

    "they use manufactured spasms of hatred to desensitize their followers. After followers spend a few years living through rabid riots and vicious sermons, killing an American or a Jew or even a fellow Muslim seems no more consequential than killing a mosquito. That's how suicide bombers are made."

    And here you are just off the rails. Go spend a few days in the Gaza strip, then you can get an idea about how suicide bombers are made. Spend your whole life in a refugee camp being watched by Israeli soldiers driving around American made tanks and jeeps while you live in squalor. Spend some time with the citizens of these places and feel their real sense of despair.

    Look, I am not apologizing for anybody, but you write this opinion from this "might is right" side and it is just ridiculous. We are all connected in this, and the actions of our government abroad for decades has fostered the Middle Eastern paranoias and stoked the hatred and backlash against us. If the Koran was flushed or not, what difference does it make (and our military in Afghanistan said as much - the riots were happening anyway)? Guantanamo is spawning the new terrorists - everyone knows that. It was a colossal mistake to set that place up in the first place. It was a colossal mistake to invade Iraq. This whole story is a smoke screen to get everyone's eyes off the real stories, and you and everyone else bit.

    "Maybe it won't be so bad being cut off from the blogosphere."

    No - for you it will be great, you won't have to get email like this anymore, and my ulcer might calm down.

    Posted on: May 19, 2005 06:10 AM | Link: One more reason to be happy the NY Times is going subscription | Comments: (1)

    May 16, 2005

    NY TIME$

    As Kevin Drum (and probably hundreds of others) note today:

    "NO MORE KRUGMAN, NO MORE BROOKS....The New York Times is planning to put its op-ed page behind a subscription wall? Wow. I predict that's going to go down with New Coke as one of the all-time bad marketing decisions in history."

    I agree it is a curious decision, especially at this juncture, after the NY Times just grossly overpaid bought the About.com network. I am sure somewhere there is a long term strategic plan in place and some bean counters/panicky executives made this pitch work, but at a time of record on-line ad revenues what does this gain them? How many people are going to pay? How many people that do pay are going to copy, paste and email all the articles to their friends anyway - articles that will eventually make their way on to websites? What are they going to do, chase after 10,000 bloggers for fair use infractions?

    Also, CNN just annouced today that it is planning on making their paid video free, which makes the Times decision even more mysterious.

    Frankly what I feel we have working here is the fact that this medium is still so new and so misunderstood that the corporations who need to protect their bottom line are still grasping at straws as to how to properly monetize it. But I'll be damned if I ever pay .02 cents to read an article by David Brooks.

    Posted on: May 16, 2005 06:04 PM | Link: NY TIME$ | Comments: (1)

    May 11, 2005

    United Airlines to be bailed out

    Why do we have to pay for this? If U.S. tax dollars are going to pick up this pension, then United Airlines should be forced to go out of business, liquify it assets, and give every penny they can to the fund first. They could raise untold millions by selling their gates, routes, planes, etc. If some jobs are lost, so be it - let the alleged "free market" be a free market. Many of the employees will be taken in by other airlines and those who buy United's assets. Once we go down this road where does it end? If United says they can't come out of bankruptcy carrying their pensions, then they are BANKRUPT! Go out of business - that is what every small business owner in this country has to do when they can't pay their bills. This reminds me of the Chrysler deal - Chrysler should have been allowed to go out of business, not been bailed out by the federal government on the backs of tax payers. to struggle along for years making crappy cars, and then be sold off to foreign interests.

    May 11, 2005
    United Air Wins Right to Default on Its Employee Pension Plans

    By MICHELINE MAYNARD
    United Airlines, which is operating in bankruptcy protection, received court permission yesterday to terminate its four employee pension plans, setting off the largest pension default in the three decades that the government has guaranteed pensions.

    The ruling by Judge Eugene R. Wedoff of Federal Bankruptcy Court came after a lengthy hearing in a crowded Chicago courtroom, near where United is based.

    Despite pleas by union lawyers, Judge Wedoff sided with United, which had insisted that it could not emerge from bankruptcy protection with its pension plans in place.

    The ruling releases United, a unit of the UAL Corporation, from $3.2 billion in pension obligations over the next five years. The federal agency that guarantees pensions, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, will assume responsibility for the plans, which cover about 134,000 people.

    Some retirees could see sharply lower pension payments as a result; others will see little change in benefits, depending on a variety of factors. Some retirees at US Airways, which has terminated its plans, have seen benefits drop by as much as 50 percent.

    The airline, which has been in bankruptcy protection since December 2002, has been pushing to end its pensions since losing its bid for a federal loan package last year. But unions representing United's employees fought the action, threatening to strike if the pensions were set aside.

    Along with raising that prospect, the action has significant implications for the airline industry, which has lost more than $30 billion since 2000, and perhaps for other industries like automobiles, with similarly heavy legacy costs.

    Analysts have predicted that if United won its case, there could be a domino effect as other airlines are forced to seek bankruptcy protection to bring their pension costs down to United's levels.

    That move would probably swamp the pension agency, which was created in 1974.

    "It's a scale, and this is another weight on the side of the scale that puts pressure on the other airlines to follow in United's footsteps," said Gary M. Ford, a lawyer specializing in pension and bankruptcy issues at the Groom Law Group who is representing some of the other large airlines. "The question is, Do you want to just watch this movie again, or is Congress going to act in a way that would make these plans affordable for the remaining carriers?"

    Legislation has been introduced in Congress that would allow major airlines to stretch out $20 billion in unpaid pension liabilities over 25 years, but the measure's future is uncertain.

    US Airways, which is under court protection for the second time since 2002, terminated the last of its pension plans earlier this year. As a result, the federal government has taken over the responsibility to pay US Airways' current and future retirees $3 billion worth of benefits.

    And Delta Air Lines disclosed yesterday that it might have to seek bankruptcy protection if it is not able to renegotiate terms of more than $600 million in loans, or if its cash reserves dwindle. It also said it expected a significant loss for 2005. The disclosure, made in a securities filing, caused a 10 percent decline in Delta stock.

    Although the ruling freed United from $3.2 billion in pension contributions over five years, even that amount would not fully finance the plan. If United had been able to pay it, the amount would have simply brought it into compliance. The government measures United's pension shortfall at close to $9.8 billion.

    United plans to switch its current employees from traditional retirement programs, which are called defined-benefit plans, to defined-contribution plans like 401(k) programs. The federal pension agency will assume responsibility for United's plans, which cover about 134,000 workers.

    "It's a hammer blow to thousands of retirees who will have to somehow make do with lower pension checks," said Joseph Tiberi, a spokesman for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. "The promises United made to them are worthless,"

    Mr. Tiberi said his union would appeal the judge's decision.

    But Judge Wedoff, speaking to a courtroom packed with United employees and retirees, said the move was unavoidable.

    "The least bad of the available choices here," the judge said, "has got to be the one that keeps an airline functioning, that keeps employees being paid."

    United, meanwhile, called the action an important step in its bid to restructure.

    The termination at United is nearly three times the size of the 2002 default by Bethlehem Steel.

    Last month, United reached agreement with the agency on a $1.5 billion plan that would give the agency a stake in United, along with other debt, when the airline emerges from bankruptcy protection.

    In return, the agency would assume the pension plans. The agency had already moved to take control of two of the four pension plans after United stopped making its legally required contributions last summer. United said that it needed to terminate the plans to attract the financing it needs to leave bankruptcy protection, but it had been trying to time the terminations to get the maximum possible insurance coverage from the agency. That prompted the agency to intervene.

    But sending the plans to the federal government could be difficult if labor strife erupts. Flight attendants have threatened to start unannounced strikes against United, while the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association also warned it might stage walkouts. Members of the machinists union are completing a vote on whether to support a strike, with results expected today.

    The company contends any strikes would be illegal because the rest of the workers' labor agreements remain in effect. Airline workers are covered by the federal Railway Labor Act, which forbids them to strike as long as labor agreements are in place. Wages and benefits for workers at United have been cut twice while United has been in reorganization.

    "Today's decision is an enormous disappointment and it very well may have triggered the collapse of the defined benefit pension system nationwide," said Greg Davidowitch, president of the Association of Flight Attendants at United.

    United had pinned its restructuring plans on its application for $1.6 billion in federally backed loans under a program intended to help airlines after the September 2001 attacks. But the Air Transportation Stabilization Board turned down its application last June, saying it believed that United could find financing elsewhere.

    The pension terminations now will put pressure on United's chief executive, Glenn F. Tilton, to find the $2 billion in financing the airline needs to emerge from bankruptcy, said Robert W. Mann Jr., an industry analyst based in Port Washington, N.Y. United has said several of its lenders had expressed interest in providing loans, if it could put together a workable business plan.

    Delta's shares dropped 10 percent, to $2.97, on its latest bankruptcy warning. Delta barely avoided filing for Chapter 11 last October by persuading its pilots to grant nearly $1.1 billion in wage and benefit cuts.

    Delta, the nation's third-largest airline behind American and United, lost $5.2 billion last year, including one-time charges, its worst performance in its 70-year history. Delta lost another $1.1 billion in the first quarter of 2005.

    In all, Delta has lost nearly $10 billion this decade and it has been on an aggressive push to cut $5 billion in costs through the end of next year.

    But in the securities filing, Delta warned of further losses in 2005. It said it was meeting with lenders to renegotiate the terms of $630 million in financing that it arranged last year with General Electric and American Express in its effort to avoid a Chapter 11 filing.

    The terms set cash and earnings requirements before expenses like interest, rent, aircraft payments and depreciation.

    But since reaching the loan agreements, the airline industry has been hit hard by high prices for jet fuel. In addition, Delta cut fares as much as 50 percent in January, and set limits on what it can charge for coach and first-class tickets.

    Delta said that if it could not renegotiate the terms, the loans could become due immediately. It also said it feared that its cash, which stood at $1.8 billion at the end of the first quarter, could dwindle to as little as $1.4 billion, where it stood last fall before it reached the deal with the pilots' union. Delta's assets are pledged to secure the financing from G.E. and American Express, as well as other loans. Delta has over $20 billion in outstanding debt.

    All that could lead to a bankruptcy filing, the airline said. But Delta has raised that prospect a number of times in the past, particularly when talks with the pilots were under way.

    Yesterday, a Delta spokesman, John Kennedy, said he was surprised at the market's reaction to the latest disclosure, given Delta's candor about its challenges. But, he said Delta was not playing down its problems. "There's still the elephant in the room" - meaning bankruptcy, Mr. Kennedy said.

    Posted on: May 11, 2005 10:18 AM | Link: United Airlines to be bailed out | Comments: (0)

    April 06, 2005

    More signs of the new theocracy

    President Bush Orders Flags Flown at Half Staff in Honor of Pope John Paul II
    A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America


    As a mark of respect for His Holiness Pope John Paul II, I hereby order, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half staff at the White House and on all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset on the day of his interment. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half staff for the same period at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.

    IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this second day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand five, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty ninth.

    GEORGE W. BUSH

    Posted on: April 6, 2005 09:46 AM | Link: More signs of the new theocracy |

    March 29, 2005

    March post

    Well here it is almost the end of March and I have not made a post to the blog yet this month... just too busy I guess. What has been happening: Terri Schiavo nightmare story, no government in Iraq to date, and George Bush appoints all the wrong people to important world governance positions... we continue to live in a world run by the lunatic right, where the same people who can cry on T.V. about a woman who has been a vegetable have no problem with the fact that we have killed at least 100 Iraqi and Afghani POWs... oh well. Life goes on. Billmon is back at least. More in April.

    Posted on: March 29, 2005 09:26 AM | Link: March post |

    December 30, 2004

    Resolutions

    Write more on this blog.
    Read more.
    Defeat Social Security "reform".
    Bring the troops home.

    Posted on: December 30, 2004 11:32 PM | Link: Resolutions |

    December 11, 2004

    Friedman=Asshole

    As a younger man I used to read Friedman and think he was a smart guy. Then I actually read his (at the time) most famous book "From Beirut to Jerusalem" while studying abroad and living in Jerusalem. And then I started to realize what an arrogant, sexist asshole he is (I am not going into the book here, but if you really want to laugh read some of the one star Amazon reviews). So here is a quote from his op-ed today in my formerly favorite newspaper:

    " Is it so much to ask that each NATO country contribute 100 soldiers for a long weekend to advance the prospect of Iraqi elections? Heck, I'll throw in the air fare myself.I have so many frequent-flier miles, I could even fly over a few hundred soldiers from European Union countries that aren't in NATO."

    Hey Tom, really, who the fuck cares about your frequent flyer miles? Is that an attempt at humor? Showing off that you travel a lot has nothing to do with safe Iraqi elections. Get your head out of your ass already.

    Posted on: December 11, 2004 11:54 PM | Link: Friedman=Asshole |

    Kevin keeps the drum rolling!

    From the Political Animal today:

    "...it would have kept Social Security as a government guaranteed pension program. It's not stock market returns these guys care about, it's an ideological drive to get the government out of the safety net business and force individuals to bear ever more risk in their daily lives. Don't ever forget that."

    I will go him one better - it is the sad fact that they (the tax hating right) don't want any of their money going to poor people or minorities. It is that simple, they'll just never admit it.

    Posted on: December 11, 2004 11:40 PM | Link: Kevin keeps the drum rolling! |

    November 25, 2004

    It was the prayers, not the science!

    There is a very interesting story in the Times today about a teenage girl overcoming rabies with a new and radical technique. But the last paragraph is the killer:

    "Her father, John Giese, said he was grateful to the doctors and their novel treatment, but added that prayer had made the crucial difference. "The day after we found out, I called on everyone we knew for prayer," he told The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this week. "We believe a lot of that snowballed and it really made a difference.""

    So this poor child gets rabies, no one realizes it (that alone is amazing), she is already too sick for a vaccination, the doctors do some amazing work, and now she is on her way to a recovery - but the prayers saved her! Praise the lord!

    This reminds me of the countless stories of women who can't get pregnant, and then use fertility drugs and suddenly find they have multiple fetuses in their wombs. When the doctors then want to remove some to have one or two healty babies and not put them all at risk, the parents refuse because it was gods miracle that put them there in the first place...

    Posted on: November 25, 2004 12:13 PM | Link: It was the prayers, not the science! | Comments: (1)

    November 23, 2004

    Gallup on America's beliefs

    "Just your opinion, do you think that Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is: a scientific theory that has been well-supported by evidence, just one of many theories and one that has not been well-supported by evidence, or don't you know enough about it to say?"

    Read the answers and analysis here

    Posted on: November 23, 2004 08:23 PM | Link: Gallup on America's beliefs | Comments: (2)

    November 09, 2004

    Calm Down

    You don't have to look much further to find the difference between republicans and democrats that in this talk of the Bush "mandate". Can anyone, left or right, honestly imagine that if Kerry had won by the same margin, he would be saying things like "I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it"? Of course the answer is no. He would have been humbled and grateful, and he would have sincerely reached across the aisle. I saw Bush Sr. on a BBC interview with David Frost, saying the President had one a "fairly substantial mandate". Democrats are wringing their hands and throwing in the towel left and right. Bloggers seem to be scaling back their efforts or quitting all together.
    I think everyone needs to calm down. This election, like the last, was very close, and eventually hinged upon one state. No matter what the conventional wisdom says, moral issues, turn out, etc. I think that basically a few more million of us were scared than others, scared (wrongfully) of terrorism, a theme that was hammered home by this administration and its various propaganda arms (yes, I am thinking about FOX news) for over three years. My advice to fellow democrats and lefties would be to stay the course, point out the hypocrisies on the other side, and continue to work on the things that are important to us. And when election day comes around again, learn how to fight a little harder.

    Posted on: November 9, 2004 10:35 AM | Link: Calm Down |

    November 05, 2004

    We’re all Israelis Now

    Another must read piece from Juan Cole's site - this time from guest writer Mark LeVine, History, University of California, Irvine:

    We’re all Israelis Now

    Three years ago, as the pungent odor of what was left of the World Trade Center slowly pervaded my neighborhood, I wrote a piece called “We’re all Israelis Now.” I didn’t invent the idea; in the hours since the attacks I had heard several commentators say essentially the same thing, although our meanings were in fact diametrically opposed. For them, the September 11 attacks had constituted a tragic wake up call to America about the mortal threat posed by Muslim terrorism, which Israel had been living through for decades and whose methods the US would now have to copy if it wanted to “win the war on terror.”

    Click here for the rest

    Posted on: November 5, 2004 09:12 PM | Link: We’re all Israelis Now |

    May 27, 2004

    From anonymous

    A man is being tailgated by a stressed-out woman on a busy boulevard. Suddenly, the light turns yellow, just in front of him. He does the right thing, and stops at the crosswalk, even though he could havebeaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection. The tailgating woman hits the roof, and the horn, screaming in frustration as she misses her chance to get through the intersection with him. As she is still in mid-rant, she hears a tap on her window and looks up into the very serious face of a police officer. The officer orders her to exit her car with her hands up.

    He takes her to the police station where she is searched, fingerprinted, photographed, and placed in a cell. After a couple of hours, a policeman approaches the cell and opens the door. She is escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer is waiting with her personal effects. He says, "I'm very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you, and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the 'Choose Life' license plate holder, the ' What Would Jesus Do' bumper sticker, the 'Follow Me to Sunday School' bumper sticker, and the chrome plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk. Naturally, I assumed you had stolen the car. "

    Posted on: May 27, 2004 05:51 PM | Link: From anonymous |

    March 16, 2004

    Not Enough Time

    Obviously I have not been able to write as much here as I was hoping too. I am going to try and find the time, especially with the world seeming to spiral out of control more rapidly each day. From the bombs in Spain to Alan Greenspan's bomb's about adjustable mortgages and not worrying about debt, to the Bush Administration's daily lies and ravages on science and the environment, nothing seems "right".

    I wrote a letter to Jim Cramer of the Street.com in February of 2001 asking what would the next thing be, the thing that keeps the economy going, that keeps stocks going up. My personal theory was that after the S&L boom/bust, and that after the dot com boom/bust that there was no ammo left, that interest rates alone were not going to do it. But, good old "I never met a President I didn't try to keep happy" Greenspan fooled me by continuing to cut and cut until we got our next bubble, the housing bubble.

    So here we are now in an economy with relative to no job growth, record productivity, near zero long term rates, near records bankruptcies, record deficits, and with 120,000 troops wondering where the next bomb is coming from. Toss in what is going to be the nastiest election year ever and I think we are ripe for one mighty hang over.

    Let me say this - I don't think the "economy" in general is bad - it is just not producing jobs, and in all reality it should not be expected to with the progress and efficiencies that this Web based world now enjoys. Employment is going to be the stickler of this century, for as technology progresses there is just not going to be more for people to do, but less. Now is the time for some bold thinking in this country about shorter work weeks and better compensation. You can't have 6% unemployment with the people that have jobs working 60 hours a week, for crap pay. It doesn't make sense. Someone somewhere has to figure out how to spread it around, how to give people decent living wages, and then give them the time off to spend those wages.

    Anyway, I am one of those people who work too much. I can't seem to stop myself. I wish I was here on this site more, writing more and thinking things through, making comments on the things that bug me, etc. I am still managing to read a lot and I suggest you do to, there is so much to stay informed about. Here is my heavy hitters list of blogs - I read them daily:

    I think if you stay current with the above you will have a pretty good idea of the things I want to talk about here.

    Posted on: March 16, 2004 09:38 PM | Link: Not Enough Time |

    January 26, 2004

    A few quick thoughts

    1.) Just want to get this down somewhere before the event: I think Dean is going to do pretty good Tuesday (I know - some polls are pointing to this, but a lot of people don't believe it - I do). Either a real solid second, or first actually. I think the scream was over rated, I think the people of Iowa took his old remark about the caucus process to heart, and I think in a regular primary he will do much, much better.

    2.) Maureen Dowd has lost her mind - she is ruining all the seemingly good writing she had done in the run up to the war with this silly fixation on what Dean's wife wears, her make up, etc. This is embarrassing stuff - the NY Times is crumbling before our eyes. Sad.

    3.) Atrios shouldn't do radio (or TV, or interviews, etc.). Let's not see the real bloggers turn into media whores. Leave that to the... whores, like A. Sullivan. Why go on a show to be sandbagged? Why go on at all? Atrios is the best at what he does, and he should stick to it. Let some other blow hard play the jerk to the other jerks. The whole program "The Blogging of The President" was pretty lame.

    Posted on: January 26, 2004 09:05 PM | Link: A few quick thoughts |

    December 27, 2003

    A Long Year

    This has been a really long, sad, violent, depressing year. The death toll in Iraq rises daily, with many more Iraqis killed than US and "coalition" forces, but of course that fact is little mentioned in the US mainstream media. How, by getting rid of a brutal, ruthless dictator you end up with a nation of guerillas attacking you daily should be the first question asked the next time the government plans one of these "liberations".

    Despite what most news accounts say and what the general public perceives, Iraq - and it seems Baghdad in particular, is not secure at all. Poor Tucker Carlson's reports of seeing no coalition forces on a drive from Kuwait to Baghdad should tell the whole story. Once again, you have to read all the news, and between the lines, and then apply your own common sense to the events to understand what is happening. We have civilians working for these news agencies (in this case CNN) that are armed to the teeth and can commandeer gas stations (and who knows what else) at will - and probably shoot to kill without impunity anyone that they deem worthy. How are you winning hearts and minds with these actions?

    As Steve Gilliard has noted on his blog, how in the world are you going to be able to hold elections with the current security situation? You can't - you can't do anything. The Young Republicans are holed up in the Green Zone without a clue. The UN is gone, the Red Cross is gone. We have captured Saddam - so what? Why couldn't we keep inspecting, keep throwing money at the Iraqi National Congress (as bad as it is, a few million a year is better than thousands dead, and billions spent), keep trying to influence world opinion for his removal? We could have - easily - but there are a bunch of people in Washington who don't know what they are doing, and they made a huge mistake. I am tired of saying it, thinking about it, living with it. I am afraid I will be explaining this to my kids for the next decade.

    Back in March I sent an open letter to the President begging him not to start this war. Now - you can't even get to the web page where you can email the White House without going through a bunch of forms and stating your preferences to the emperor. These kinds of things are sickening. This administration has politicized democracy like never before, all the while claiming they have not.

    Homeland Security, Office of Workforce Security - are we safer? Better employed? I feel like I am twelve years old again and we are living through the Cold War. I turn to reading Orwell's 1984 for insight into current events. But we're not - we are living in the world of realization of decades of bad US foreign policy and American hegemony. This country, our government, needs to change. We need to be a better global citizen, we need to identify, understand and deal with our "enemies" before they become that. We need to stop arming the lesser evils, picking the wrong side, and messing around with the internal affairs of other nations. I am not blaming the victim here, but it is not as if we didn't have a hand (or maybe two hands and a foot) in all the things that are perceived now as a threat to our nation. Bin Laden was trained by the CIA. Saddam Hussein was green lighted by US Ambassador April Glaspie before invading Kuwait. The Baathists came to power with our help. We make them, and then we have to break them. It is wrong - and there has to be a better way.

    One of the great quotes in the run up to the war was that the war wasn't about oil before the invasion, but as soon as the action started it would be. Well, the war was always about oil, and the fact the the oil ministry was the only building protected as Baghdad was looted is not lost on Iraqis. And so now here we are, December 27, 2003, another coordinated attack in Iraq, this time in Karbala, with at least eleven dead. Code Orange throughout the "Home Land". A growing pariah to the world and world peace.

    Happy New Year, America. Here's to a better one.

    Posted on: December 27, 2003 03:26 PM | Link: A Long Year | Comments: (2)

    March 25, 2003

    The United States of America has gone mad

    John le Carré
    (Originally published on January 15, 2003 by the Times Online)

    America has entered one of its periods of historical madness, but this is the worst I can remember: worse than McCarthyism, worse than the Bay of Pigs and in the long term potentially more disastrous than the Vietnam War.

    The reaction to 9/11 is beyond anything Osama bin Laden could have hoped for in his nastiest dreams. As in McCarthy times, the freedoms that have made America the envy of the world are being systematically eroded. The combination of compliant US media and vested corporate interests is once more ensuring that a debate that should be ringing out in every town square is confined to the loftier columns of the East Coast press.

    "The United States of America has gone mad" »

    Posted on: March 25, 2003 11:13 PM | Link: The United States of America has gone mad | Comments: (1)

    March 23, 2003

    War As Policy

    "We must be prepared to stop rogue states and their terrorist clients before they are able to threaten or use weapons of mass destruction against the United States and our allies and friends."

    From "The National Security Strategy of the United States of America" as published on the official White House website.

    It now should be clear to anyone capable of independent thought, with a modicum of curiosity, and the ability to read the English language, that the officially stated reasons (Regime Change, Liberation of The Iraqi People, etc.) for this "war" are false. It also would be too obvious (and grotesque) to believe the attack on Iraq is strictly to grab their oil and win fat reconstruction contracts (although both these things will most likely happen).

    "War As Policy" »

    Posted on: March 23, 2003 10:38 PM | Link: War As Policy | Comments: (4)

    March 20, 2003

    I am allowed to go see the ocean

    It has been several days now since Rachel Corrie was killed by an Israeli tractor (more on this story at Salon and photographs here). I have always had a deep interest in the Israel/Palestine conflict, and I am one of what I believe is probably a very few US citizens that have actually set foot in the Gaza strip. I spent a semester in Israel as a student in 1994 and traveled Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and Jordan extensively. 1994 was the year Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Palestinians in the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron during Purim.

    "I am allowed to go see the ocean" »

    Posted on: March 20, 2003 11:48 PM | Link: I am allowed to go see the ocean | Comments: (1)