"With a number of polls showing a sustained level of opposition to the Democrats’ health care reform efforts more than five months after passage, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the Obama administration has 'a lot of reeducation to do' heading into the midterms." Sebelius: Time for 'Reeducation' on Obama Health Care Law
Maybe those who refuse to be reeducated will be beaten to death.
The Justice Department has just secured indictment against yet another federal employee for leaking secret information to the press. This makes at least four individuals in short order that federal prosecutors have sought to imprison for disclosing what the government thinks the American people have no right to know. The latest target in this aggressive campaign by the Obama Administration is Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, who allegedly told a reporter that the CIA had determined that another round of sanctions against North Korea might trigger the regime in Pyongyang to conduct a third nuclear weapons test.
Assistant U.S. Attorney General David S. Kris blustered that the indictment against Kim would "...serve as a warning" to would-be leakers of government secrets.
Perhaps the indictment will also serve as a warning to those still thinking that Barack Obama is something other than the latest fist of authoritarianism. The list of formally accused includes at least one soldier, PFC Bradley Manning, who delivered devastating combat video and documentation to Wikileaks, a Swedish organization founded by Julian Assange, who is beyond the reach of U.S. authorities. In their frustration at not being able to use American law to wreck Mr. Assange, a Swedish tabloid seems to have been the tool by which elements in the American government attempted to humiliate and discredit him with a claim in June that he was being investigated for two separate sex crimes. Unfortunately for the disinformation specialists, a day after the sleazy story was plastered across the headlines, Sweden's chief prosecutor summarily and publicly declared that Mr. Assange was no longer wanted on any such charges.
That failed operation aside, the U.S. has still obtained indictments against Americans who are alleged to have leaked classified information, including one against Bush-era National Security Agency executive Thomas A. Drake, who disclosed to a reporter at the Baltimore Sun embarrassing information about staggering cost overruns, mismanagement, and other problems at the NSA, particularly in a massive construction overhaul of the nation's signal intelligence infrastructure.
While the Obama Administration's law enforcement instrumentalities have adamantly refused to indict even one principal of the Bush Administration programs that crafted, implemented, oversaw, concealed, and cynically justified under color of legal counsel the systematic torture of detainees in violation of both American statutory law and international treaty obligations, the current top officials at DoJ are militating to imprison a resolutely up-standing, long-time member of the national security community who disclosed outrageous failures that cost the American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and delayed the implementation of modernization of the nation's antiquated intelligence-gathering capabilities.
The timeline of circumstances surrounding the document Mr. Kim leaked to the press is interesting, if not downright telling, about how President Barack Obama and his inner circle of advisers conduct foreign policy and manage information in multilateral negotiations.
After North Korea carried out its second test of a nuclear device in late May 2009 (a test considerably more successful than its first several years earlier), the Obama Administration swiftly and publicly took a lead in spearheading work on a new set of multi-nation sanctions against Pyongyang, ruled by the reclusive and rather odd Kim Jong-il, son of the equally reclusive and rather odd former strong man Kim Il-sun.
Like his father, Kim Jong-il is so resilient to outside pressures that he has let his own people go through one mass starvation after another rather than capitulate to demands from the international community on matters of nuclear non-proliferation. The best hope of getting any traction with sanctions against North Korea would not be through the toughness of the punishment so much as with the endorsement of the punishment by China, the only nation to which Kim Jong-il will even marginally listen, given China's cross-border trade with and stream of welfare to North Korea.
Apparently, at the same time Obama was conducting this very public, multi-nation campaign to further economically isolate Pyongyang, his own intelligence community had produced an information product that assessed a good likelihood that those very sanctions Obama and his foreign policy advisers wanted would have the highly undesirable effect of spurring the Pyongyang regime to test yet another nuclear device. Each such test is costly to North Korea in terms of weapons-grade nuclear fuel spent but also extraordinarily valuable in terms of wide-ranging technical know-how in nuclear bomb construction.
Obama's negotiators were whipping up international support for new sanctions against North Korea at the same time the Central Intelligence Agency was reporting its judgment that those sanctions would probably induce the Pyongyang regime to test another nuke: presidential diplomacy on the public stage to construct a concert of nations imposing sanctions on a rogue state, while that president's own, presumably trusted, analysts were back stage advising in a written document that success of the public diplomacy could backfire at 180 degrees to intended effect.
Then, throwing a monkey wrench into this interesting situation, federal contractor Steve Kim, on assignment to the State Department from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, leaked the classified report to a journalist, unnamed in the indictment against Kim but probably a reporter at Fox News. According to an updated Reuters release, somewhat unclear in its connection to the pending criminal case, Mr. Kim had also "...briefed former Vice President Dick Cheney and other top U.S. officials." Whether this was during the Bush Administration or after is not stated in the Reuters update.
On June 12, 2009, the United Nations passed Resolution 1874, which imposed sanctions against North Korea cumulative to those in Resolution 1718 of 2006, the latter resolution punishing the Pyongyang regime for its nuclear bomb test in May 2009, the former for its first bomb test.
North Korea has not tested a nuclear device since the one in the late Spring of last year. At the close of 2009, the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, a South Korean government think tank, issued its 2010 outlook, in which defense analysts found "a high possibility" that North Korea would conduct its third nuclear bomb test during 2010, in part to strengthen the Pyongyang regime during the anticipated transition of power to the son of Kim Jong-il, and in part to bolster its case that the nations of the world should accept North Korea as a legitimate nuclear state.
The U.S. issued no criticism of the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses for its December 2009 public report, which directly discussed North Korea and which essentially paralleled in its findings the prior, secret CIA document leaked to the press without directly naming North Korea.
Notwithstanding claims by the State and Justice Departments that Stephen Kim compromised sources and endangered national security, it would at least appear that the difference between the U.S. government's outrage over the leak by Kim and the later, open report published by South Korea was that the Obama Administration had, in the second instance, already achieved its objective of securing the desired United Nations resolution in the context of a written American intelligence community conclusion that success at the UN against North Korea would be short lived and counterproductive.
It is quite likely that during the run-up to the UN vote on Resolution 1874, most nations with even marginally capable intelligence analysis capabilities had come to the same conclusion about the risk of new sanctions against Pyongyang, which means the Obama Administration seems to share the view of the previous regime in Washington that, given a choice, secrecy is preferable to transparency, regardless of its value to national security. Assistant Attorney General Kris put it succinctly: "...disclosure of classified information to those not entitled to it."
Label it "classified," and thereby make it an entitlement.
As the Central Intelligence Agency puts it, "Information is the most dangerous weapon of all."
In the view of a succession of diverse American rulers, including the current President, information is not a right of a free people, but is, instead, an entitlement, one reserved for those who must ensure that freedom is not taken literally by the governed.
I'm sorry that I haven't posted in the last few months but for some reason blogging just hasn't been important to me. During my recovery I had time to reflect and one of the things I decided was that I've been wasting my time and the following quote from Tristero at Hullabaloo sums it up quite nicely.
Why? Because some of you, right now, are starting to waste the little time you have here on earth by marshaling reasoned arguments and accurate facts to refute Conservapedia's lies. And so are others. And that is terribly sad.
And then Jon Stewart crystallized it for me in a segment titled "I Give Up".
My surgery went well, at least from the doctor's point of view. He didn't grace me with his presence until the evening after the surgery when he breezed into my hospital room to discharge me. Then he wouldn't answer my questions and acted like I was a nuisance. Heaven forbid that I should know what he did or what he found while surgeons and students in Los Angeles were privy to every aspect of my surgery. All follow up appointments were handled by his physicians assistant. The conscious time I've spent in his presence is less than ten minutes.
The cancer was classified as being Stage 1A and if you have to get diagnosed with cancer this would be the stage you would want since it has a 93% survival rate. What you don't want is to do the robot surgery.
It turns out that they cut everything into little pieces so they can be removed through the less than one inch incisions. While it may be cutting edge technology it also means that during the slice and dice procedure some cancer cells may be dislodged and left behind. It also means that they pump you full of air so they have room to move around. This air cannot be expelled by normal means, it has to be absorbed by the body or you are deflated after the surgery. This was not done for me. For three weeks I looked and felt like I had beach ball in the abdominal area. Simple things like using the toilet, getting out of bed, bending to put on shoes or simply sitting were extremely uncomfortable.
One of the hallmarks of cancer survivors is that they realize that a positive attitude and a reduction in anger and frustration give them a better chance of surviving and/or preventing a recurrence. I want to live a long and healthy life and I can't do that if I spend most of my time trying to convince stupid people to look at facts instead of listening to people who spread hatred and intolerance on a daily basis.
I live in Nevada now and the people here believe the darnedest things, most of which don't exist in reality. From the Park 51 controversy to burning the Koran as a warning, this country has gone off the deep end and trashed the First Amendment while ensuring that the rest of the world can see how hypocritical we are. We are no longer a shining beacon of light and freedom, we are a fading nightlight trying to shield ourselves from a bogeyman that has already accomplished his job. People were worried about Y2K destroying our way of living and it turns out we did it to ourselves.
On a distinctly happier note there has been an addition to the family, a Boston/Rat terrier puppy. His name is Galen and while Shadow wasn't too thrilled in the beginning she had a great time playing with him this morning. Shai has been more tolerant and I think she's been enjoying Shadow's discomfort. I will have pictures tomorrow.
And this is whose business NYC construction projects are - New York City residents! But facts and reality have little to do with the spin of rightwing media yappers, which at its core is designed to create conflict and controversy, which they believe can be spun into political gold. And unfortunately, there seems to be a burgeoning number of very stupid citizens, whose ignorance is only matched by their inability to engage in independent, rational thought.
There are few things more spectacularly offensive than watching the same looney-tunes talking heads who have denigrated 9/11 families and survivors, often portraying them as money-grubbing media whores - and their wingnut congressional counterparts, who have actively blocked paying for medical care/disability for impaired, seriously ill ground zero clean-up workers - now trying to capitalize on still-painful 9/11 wounds. It's utterly obscene.
If they're so concerned about honoring the victims of 9/11, then why have they not sought a genuine, open investigation into the events of that day? The so-called 9/11 Commission Report is an absolute joke, as anyone who has bothered to research the topic has quickly discovered. To me, the whole premise of these crimes being committed by "Islamic Terrorists" is rather ludicrous in the first place. I do not, and never will believe, that 9/11 was pulled off by third-world camp-dwellers who could barely master the operation of a Cessna.
Dear Rest-of-America: Take This Map, It's Why You're Wrong About the "Ground Zero Mosque"
By Foster Kamer
From Running Scared, a Village Voice Blog:
According to a recent Siena Research Institute poll, over half of New Yorkers polled think that the "Ground Zero Mosque" will promote racial and religious tolerance, or are open to the idea of it. Yet: 68% of Americans oppose it, despite the endorsements of New York City's mayor and the President of the United States of America. But that's not why you're wrong, America. This, however, is.
Via Tumblr editorial director TopherChris, here's a map of just how "Ground Zero" the "Ground Zero Mosque" is:
The point is, it isn't. What's more offensive: Having a....
"Ground Zero Burger King."
Memorial that's never happened because of hyper-capitalist conflicts.
Bunch of tacky souvenir tables.
Bunch of tacky souvenir tables that profit off of cheap, China-made 9-11 memorabilia.
Bunch of tacky souvenir tables that profit off of cheap, China-made 9-11 memorabilia when they're not selling fake Rolexes to the same Americans coming to New York, buying from them, going home, and telling New Yorkers where to put our Mosques.
or an Islamic Cultural Center with a 9/11 Memorial (more than what's actually been put to paper for an official 9/11 Memorial) two and a half blocks away?
Reminder: Muslims were victims of 9/11, too. Sorry, but it's true. And one was an NYPD cadet.
Maybe we'll care what you have to say when you stop bothering us for directions in the subway on how to get to Ground Zero so you can go there and buy some dumb, tacky knickknack you can take home and give to friends to let them know that you spent money on a shake-a-snow where a few thousand people died. Maybe then. But probably not. Shut up, go away, and also, stop lying, or at least tell your politicians to stop lying. It might help you recognize the truth, which is that you're wrong, and you're attacking vital American freedoms by going against this Mosque. The truth is that you're terrorists in your own right. You are striking against America by going against this mosque. You are, in effect, almost as bad as the ones who killed people on 9/11. Okay, not quite, not really, but kind of, because you're fighting against what 9/11 victims died for: religious freedom, which said terrorists don't have and don't want anyone else to have.
But now you have a map to see how wrong you are, okay? Now: Fuck you. Fuck you and shut up, you assholes. Shut up and leave New York alone.
(See some great updates at the Village Voice site, that show a titty bar, an off-track betting outlet, etc., that are the same distance from Ground Zero).
"Religion exists only to give a group surety of identity within the "territory" or dimension of time, and that doesn't depend upon the specific dogma or specific beliefs of any given religion.
"The reason why religious wars have always been so notoriously vicious is that they are really struggles over who will have human identity in the dimension of time. Therefore, in an actual biological and literal sense, the antagonists in "religious" wars do not recognize each other as being "human", that is...belonging to the same species. Any cruelty is justifiable because the identity-territorial goal of each side is truly the absolute extinction of the adversary anyway. This is what we are witnessing in the Middle East. Differences of religious customs and doctrine have been mere excuses for this fundamental identity- territorial conflict."
Click on the graphic above to go to this motivational poster at my Cheezburger Network site and get the code to post this on your own Website. Otherwise, click on the poster so you can go and vote for the graphic.
Spread the word: the Right-wing extremists of this country get no more tolerance for their lives of cynical hypocrisy. The emperors of moral superiority have no clothes, and it's time to let them know that their nakedness is at once grotesque and laughable.
As promised in my August 19 post, given that the GOP has cranked up the hate machine time and time again, recently with an ugly, sexist, misogynist video comparing Republican women to Democrat women, your host here at Big Brass Blog is taking up the challenge of demonstrating his Photoshop skills. The Minnesota GOP thought it would be just hilarious to produce and publish a video in which altered pictures of Democrat women were presented one after another to the song, "Who Let the Dogs Out?"
Setting aside the likelihood that the juvenile-minded Republicans behind this video were clueless about the actual meaning of that song's title, it seems the Right-wing party boyz were inviting a war of Photoshop skills. The motivational poster above, from my personal collection of creations at the Cheezburger Network, is a light and airy first salvo in what will become in later installments a veritable fusillade of withering graphics provided for the amusement of readers here at Dark Wraith Publishing online properties.
Be disturbed by my harsh, perhaps even unfair graphics, but know this: our nation does not benefit one iota anymore from the mealy-mouthed Democrats who appease Right-wing extremists, accommodate hateful demands from GOP know-nothings, and whine about vicious Republican tactics. The unrepentent little bullies who now control the Grand Old Party will never grow up until they have had a consistent, hard leather belt taken to their undisciplined, childish rear ends. As I have cautioned again and again and yet again, not only am I old school, I'm old-school conservative, maybe a little bit like a James Kilpatrick, a literate fellow who could throw acid with his tongue and his scowl, except that I can do it with the technologies of modern disinformation, too.
With thanks to the Atlantic for getting the word out on this latest, vile trash from the Republicans, without further comment I offer this advertisement from the Minnesota GOP and encourage you to ride the wave out to 2:54 in the video, where the real fun begins.
(NOTE: The copy of the video I published here last night was pulled by YouTube, ostensibly because of copyright violation, so I located this copy, which has been on YouTube since at least last April.)
(Okay, one comment: Photoshop war, Right-wingers? Sweeet.)
(With thanks to Labrys):
"Want to have some fun with some of the loonier elements of the fringe?
"Tell them that the world of “Terminator” is beginning, tell them that a vast artificial intelligence is building its data banks and planning to take over even now! Tell them it is disguised as an amusing little online boredom relief known as cleverbot."
I give up. Joe just won't clean up his language. Just look at the way he describes these guys:
Once the public was buried in such a maelstrom of legal paperwork, computer transactions, modeling, etc., it was easy to argue that the world had become so complex that the skills and brains to operate it were extremely rare and those who had them were fucking geniuses. These are people who dwell in such airy realms that we should pay them vast amounts of money and never question their decisions. That's how we got such oblivious duds as Timothy Geithner (who never held a nongovernment related job in his life) running the Treasury, and tens of thousands of the Empire's pud whackers, ranging from petty legal commissars, on up to the Alan Greenspans of this world -- a bumbling arrogant old fart who never had a clue but understood the rules: Look enigmatic and blow whichever administration is in power.
Any words I might use would diminish the strength of the above essay. Here's a taste: "Remember Pat Tillman, the brave soldier, great athlete and hero? The press told us he was killed by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Then the rumors came out that it was “friendly fire.” Now we know the truth or do we? There is a movie about Tillman coming out. How much will it tell? Tillman, not just an athlete but a very bright guy, had picked up on the fact that Afghanistan was a total scam and was talking about it. The administration ordered Tillman’s murder. Pat Tillman was executed. Enough high ranking members of the Bush administration and the military were involved in the cover up that, in any real democracy, not only jails would be filling but the execution dock as well. Murder is a capitol crime. Those involved in Tillman’s murder should be executed, no matter who they are. We are talking about every conspirator and members of the press who helped “spin” the tale."
I went to the state fair to take pictures, and I got some, by golly. I might share more later, but this one captures so much of the essence of all that a good state fair should be.
I didn't get a picture of the sign where some Romanians were selling deep fried Coca-Cola smothered in Cola syrup and whipped cream (with a cherry on top), but I did get other good pictures, mostly of performers, vendors, and other wonderful contributions to the tapestry that is Midwestern America. I even got a couple pictures inside the Democratic Party tent before I introduced myself as the Dark Wraith, who just wrote perhaps the most scathing of my attacks on President Obama and his lackeys. The lady in charge was not at all impressed by me.
I tried to talk to the Libertarians at their booth, but they were being too weird, and I forgot to take the lens cap off my camera. It's just as well; I'm not sure what would have shown up in the shots.
I didn't bother to go into the Republican Party tent because standing outside the entrance were what appeared to be some Teabaggers handing out stuff, and I was afraid of getting cooties on my Nikon.
I took lots of other pictures, though, and as I noted, above, I might eventually share some of the good ones here.
In the meantime, please think about the chocolate covered bacon. I was given a sample. It was actually pretty darned good... for about 15 minutes; then the effects of 98° heat with 60 percent humidity, mild dehydration, a previously consumed sample of home-made root beer (Lord! but that stuff was strong), and the walk by the farm animals exhibitions all kicked in.
Fortunately, I made it to the air-conditioned agriculture and crafts building before I ended up hosing my groceries. I saw many great displays in that building, but the greatest of all was the tribute to Spam.
Simply awesome: All things Spam in a display case.
It was a good day.
Especially now that I've carved some emotional distance between the flavor of chocolate covered bacon and my used food hurl trigger.
Seventy-five years after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Social Security into law, Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday: "We have an obligation to keep that promise, to safeguard Social Security for our seniors, people with disabilities and all Americans -- today, tomorrow and forever."
Our concerned president addressed the nation on his we(a)kly radio show to tell us the Republicans want to destroy Social Security! Yep! They really do!
They want to at least privatize it so the youngsters of this nation can enrich the brokers of Wall Street even further. That is, unless those same brokers are willing to forego that “small” fee they charge to care for the money the gullible young so graciously hand over. Yeah! That’ll happen.
Either that or gut it completely to take the huge surplus Social Security already has, probably for safe-keeping…like investing in BP’s promises or some such quaint idea. All for the good of America, you understand?
Obama claims, rightly so, that Republicans DO want to gut Social Security and probably Medicare and Medicaid, Meals on Wheels, the Child Tax Break, Marriage Tax Break, Free School Lunches, SCHIP and in short all those nasty, deficit adding tax breaks the middle and lower classes exploit. All of those cause such a hardship for the country that someone has to take a stand!
But the Republicans want to start with Social Security, and Obama’s right! Republicans DO want to gut Social Security!
The commission's co-chairman Alan Simpson, a former Republican senator from Wyoming, has stated he believes the founders of the Social Security program never expected anyone to actually live to 65 and collect. "People just died," he has said. "Social Security was never [for] retirement." Erskine Bowles, the other co-chairman, negotiated a secret but ultimately unsuccessful deal between Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich to cut Social Security benefits.
When Obama’s new Deficit Commission gets going, it has plans for "partnering“--in the words of executive director Bruce Reed--with outside groups. Among them will be the foundation run by Wall Street billionaire Peter G. Peterson, who on today is upstaging the president with his own fiscal summit in Washington. Obama insists he is keeping an open mind about how to deal with the deficit and national debt--but he’s already stacked his own commission with people who lean heavily toward one particular solution: cutting entitlements for the old, the sick, the disabled, and the poor. And if that wasn't enough, he now looks to be working hand-in-glove with a wealthy private organization whose central purpose is to cut Social Security and Medicare. Talk about foregone conclusions.
Peterson, Bowles, Simpson et al. All appointed to decide the fate of Social Security. Makes just as much sense as police investigating reports of police brutality; Wall Street investigating AIG and Goldman; BP investigating itself. These Republicans have already stated for the record that Social Security should be gutted. Would that be like asking, “Does anyone think we could get the Republicans to chair a committee to investigate Bush’s War Crimes, Cheney’s Energy Policy Meeting?”
I think Obama should convene a committee to look into the Professional Left! Some suggestions I’d make in his behalf for the group would be Glenn Beck to chair it, Sarah Palin, Michael Savage, Eric Ericcson, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and Alan Colmes to do the leg work with a majority vote of 6 to send it to the president!(What are the odds that they'll get 6 to agree? LOL!)
Maybe at the next White House Magic Show staring Robert Gibbs, he can tell the press and public with a straight face that Obama says it’s the Republicans who want to eliminate Social Security! But odds are Wormtongue will conveniently forget to mention that those who would kill off the seniors and steal from the young were appointed by the very person pretending to worry about the future of the same seniors and young people!
Duplicitous deceit by Obama! Is that repetitively redundant ?
Whatever one may think of Castro personally and politically, he is unquestionably one of the longest-serving national leaders in today’s world, and brings to the table his experience during the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962. Castro knows, in short, what a nuclear confrontation looks like from the inside. The American public would do well to put aside the arrogance and impudence of the US mass media and pay attention to why this sick old man is putting so much of his flagging energy into an attempt to alert the world to a danger which is being widely ignored.
In a recent interview with The Hill, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs condemned what he called the "professional left" for criticizing President Barack Obama: "I hear these people saying he's like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested. I mean, it's crazy... They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we've eliminated the Pentagon. That's not reality."
Writing here as an old-fashioned conservative who has deep, abiding disdain for the failed, hateful Right-wingers posing these days as conservatives and just about as little use for dysfunctional, self-loathing Democrats who never saw a chance for appeasement of the GOP extremists they didn't take, suffer me this brief, pointed, and less-than-diplomatic response directed to Mr. Gibbs.
Mr. Gibbs, if you think the "professional left" is somehow being unfair to Barack Obama, you and the chief executive are profoundly detached from any grasp of just how far from the promises of the 2008 presidential campaign Mr. Obama has fallen. He is not the "hope" and the "change" he was elected to deliver to the nation.
Furthermore, Mr. Gibbs, it is neither that "professional left," which has finally begun to understand Mr. Obama for the neoliberal he really is, nor even the obstructionists, the hate mongers, and the just plain venal of the New Right who are Mr. Obama's problem.
Take note, sir. The President's problem is, in fact, Mr. Obama, himself: a weak, inexperienced, hide-bound, Cold War-era thinker in a nation of vastly more sophisticated, more powerful individuals and interests than he, continuing as he so obviously is in pursuit of already failed paths set down for him by the previous administration and the instrumentalities of Congress, politics, laws, decisions, and personnel he does not have the will to dismiss, abandon, and repudiate.
Mr. Gibbs, I would genuinely prefer to see this nation spend several more presidential terms suffering the ugly failure of a Right-wing Republican in the White House than to see Mr. Obama there past 2012.
Yes, it is that bad, sir. Far too many Americans apparently have not yet suffered enough to know Right-wing failures and neoliberal appeasers for the disasters they individually and collectively are to the future prosperity of this nation. Instead of humiliating itself any further with inadequacy to the task embodied in the what the Democrat Party offered up as false hope and insubstantial change, your party power brokers need to be roundly and permanently driven into the wilderness so that new, fresh, powerful, uncompromising men and women can take the helm of the party and lead it to the strength needed not merely to break the back of the extremism of the New Right, but more importantly, to save what will be left of this nation by the time Obama and his Republican successor have fully crafted the catastrophic policies first set forth by George W. Bush.
As such, Mr. Gibbs, go straight to hell before your inadequate boss, President Obama, allows this country to be taken there for lack of bold, uncompromising leadership into the light of a new, prosperous era and away from the twilight of Empire.
Humans are ridiculous creatures. We have rapidly industrialized and, in the process, obliterated our forests, poisoned our seas, and suffocated our skies. The profiteers will swear blind that there is nothing wrong, and if there was, their exploitations had nothing to do with it.
The science has been politicized, the public has been polarized and progress has been paralyzed.
It’s all because of what we are. We are stupid and just not quite advanced enough not to hurt ourselves.
I thought we, as a species, had almost come to the position where we would recognize and proceed toward a different ending but with the global financial crunch, the environment lost priority to the economy – not that it ever had priority.
One could think that by now humans would've gotten a little bit smarter. But no.
As we watch the sun go down, evening after evening, through the smog across the poisoned waters of our native earth, we must ask ourselves seriously whether we really wish some future universal historian on another planet to say about us: "With all their genius and with all their skill, they ran out of foresight and air and food and water and ideas," or, "They went on playing politics until their world collapsed around them."
Among Republicans, former U.S. Senator from Alaska Ted Stevens was old school: a master of horse trading, he could work with liberal Democrats as well as his own party powerbrokers, just so long as he got something decent out of it for his constituents (and maybe himself once in a while). Republicans are always going to have a tendency to be pro-business; so are far more Democrats than many would like to concede. Stevens was pro-business, but that certainly, in and of itself, does not make him a "bad" person in some overarching, moral sense.
A good guy isn't without flaws, some of them perhaps quite dramatic, many far from inobvious. When compared to the awful, downright venal men and women that have become, in their aggregate, a malignancy not just in Washington, D.C., but in the larger landscape of political discourse, Ted Stevens deserves, in his passing, to be called one of the good guys.
With no small measure of respect even in the satire, then, I offer this remix of Sen. Stevens trying on the floor of the Senate to explain the Internet to his fellow legislators.
Everyone is digging through the lively exchange that David Gregory had with GOP leaders John Boehner and Mike Pence on Meet the Press yesterday over whether to extend the Bush tax cuts for the rich.
Most people are focusing on the fact that the two Republican leaders, under persistent questioning by Gregory, refused to say how the tax cuts would be paid for. No question, that's noteworthy, and Gregory deserves credit for pressing the issue.
But the most interesting aspect of the exchange was that Pence, the chairman of the House Republican Conference, openly admitted that the GOP has a "credibility problem" on tax cuts and the deficit.
Historical events, it is said, occur twice: first as tragedy, then as farce. Sometimes, though, as with the latest Republican call for a balanced budget amendment, the farce is double. Even as they call for a budget busting $700 billion tax cut windfall for the wealthiest two percent of Americans, GOP leaders including John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Mike Pence can't - or won't - say where the necessarily draconian spending cuts would come from. And as the numbers show, 16 years after they first proposed it as part of the Contract with America, the Republican balanced budget amendment isn't merely a farce, but a fiscal suicide pact for the United States. [snip]
True to form, the Republican Party in 2010 only wants to make the fiscal crisis worse. After all, the national debt tripled under Ronald Reagan and doubled again under George W. Bush. Analyses from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities showed that the Bush tax cuts accounted for almost half of the deficits during his presidency and, if made permanent, would contribute more to the U.S. budget deficit than the Obama stimulus, the TARP program, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and revenue lost to the recession - combined.
Five times over, House GOP leader sidesteps the question.
In the middle of a national debate about the Bush tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of the year, and what it would cost to make them permanent, NBC’s David Gregory set out to determine whether extending the cuts would add to the deficit. On Meet the Press Sunday, Gregory got right to the issue with House Minority Leader John Boehner. After showing a clip in which former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan argued the U.S. couldn’t afford to extend the tax cuts, Gregory pressed Boehner, who showed off what one might call the Washington two-step—avoiding the question five times. . .
"This song says no matter who you are, no matter where you go in your life, at some point you're gonna need somebody to stand by you..."
From the award-winning documentary, "Playing For Change": Peace Through Music", comes the first of many "songs around the world" being released independently. Featured is a cover of the Ben E. King classic by musicians around the world adding their part to the song as it travelled the globe.
This is for Peter and all who would be dismayed by the power of the sovereign that is Empire.
Notwithstanding the artificial trappings of "international law" invoked by modern victors as they hang with grave oration and high ideals their vanquished enemies, the word "criminal" cannot apply directly to the sovereign or to the agents acting under sovereign immunity. I can cite directly to statutory and/or constitutional law for each of the following.
The sovereign can kill you (even if you have done nothing wrong), but it is not murder.
The sovereign can put you in fear of your safety (even if you were not in danger), but it is not assault.
The sovereign can torture you (even if you have nothing to reveal), but it is not battery.
The sovereign can take from you (even if you have nothing), but it is not theft.
The sovereign can lie about you (even if you are actually innocent), but it is not defamation.
The sovereign can collect and save pictures of you naked (even if you are a minor), but it is not sexual abuse.
The sovereign can break any promise to or agreement with you, but it is not breach of contract.
The sovereign can govern you (even with malfeasance or malice), but it is not oppression.
The sovereign carries at its discretion the power of immunity, and it uses that discretion as a matter of consistent course rather than rare necessity, notwithstanding the "natural law" invoked by modern victors as they overthrow with grave oration and high ideals their vanquished oppressors.
From the shamans of the grasslands to the ascetics ascended to the Throne of St. Peter, from the Pharaohs who stood by the waters of the Nile to the bejeweled monarchs of Medieval Europe, supreme infallibility dismisses the pain of exacting accountability, even as the mortal world labors under the burden of the unending legion of those who pose in fact or in deed as gods among us to serve above us.
And the only gain in the death of god is the rise of another.
Former President Bush has been working on a memoir about his tenure in the White House, titled “Decision Points,” that is scheduled to be released this fall. According to friends of the former president who spoke with the Financial Times, Bush insisted that the book’s release date be pushed back until after the November elections, apparently out of concern that the publication of a book dwelling on his deeply unpopular presidency could hurt Republicans at the polls . . .
"Back home at Peterson, Gina wanted nothing to do with people.
"She'd withdrawn from society as a whole," Haynes said.
"Haynes, who has worked with more than 100 dogs in 12 years as a handler and kennel master, said he has seen other dogs rattled by trauma, but none as badly as Gina.
"Haynes and other handlers coaxed Gina on walks, sending someone ahead to pass out treats for bystanders to give her. They got her over her fear of walking through doors by stationing someone she knew on the other side to reward her with pats and play. They eased her farther into buildings with the same technique."
She used to be playful. We have corrupted everything with war.
Embattled oil giant BP is reportedly facing pressure to re-name its US petrol stations under their old Amoco brand as the backlash in America shows no sign of easing.
The distributors who control most of BP's US forecourts are pushing the group to revert back to the traditional American Amoco branding for fear of further sales pain following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, according to The Sunday Telegraph.
Schwarzenegger to speak at Bohemian Club conclave
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is scheduled to address a throng of rich and powerful men on Friday under the towering redwoods at the Bohemian Grove as the annual encampment along the Russian River in Monte Rio enters its final weekend.
No one other than Bohemian Club members and their guests will hear the governor's speech, which is — like everything that transpires during the 17-day midsummer enclave — done in absolute privacy.
It is better to offer no excuse
than a bad one
"If seven maids with seven mops
Swept it for half a year.
Do you suppose," the Walrus said,
"That they could get it clear?"
"I doubt it," said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear
--The Walrus and the Carpenter,
It takes some cheek to go and use a sunflower
logo when your business is dirty oil
--Ben Stewart, Greenpeace activist
Sunday homily: Totemism
Yesterday and today there was a heavy haze over Tallahassee, and I am not the only one who thought there was a faint whiff of petroleum in the air. We are only 30 miles from the coast. But of course, such group sensory phenomena are known to happen.
But now word comes that Tony Hayward, that uppity Brit, will step down in October due to his monstrous handling of the debacle. And that will slake some of our anger, as though his being had anything to do with the catastrophic event. While non-Californians laugh at Burning Man, Mr. Hayward will be our Burning Man.
Why do these simplistic, symbolic gestures seem so comforting and necessary to people? It is like the razing of the Amish school post school-shooting or Abu Ghraib, or the current demands for the resignation of the Duisburg mayor following the deaths at the Love Festival: These people or structures are not the cause of the problems; how can their removal effect their repair? Resources and manpower are finite quantities. Every demolition or firing is a loss of materiel.
Last week a study on the dispersants used in the Gulf of Mexico (Corexit = "corrects it" -- the arrogance!) claims they "do not seem to disrupt marine life." Of course, the tests were done on a cells in a petri dish vs. real, live animals, so the results should be taken with a heaping serving of caution.
But we like to be told things will be well. People are esp. sympathetic to the plights of helpless animals, so it plays well to lessen their mental anguish, such as it is.
Estimates of how much petroleum has poured into the Gulf vary widely. BP's party line escalated slowly from 1,000 barrels per day to 5,000, then ten thousand or more, as other agencies began to surveil the flow. Using private scientific estimates, the rate of flow ranged from 20,000 to 80,000+ barrels per day. Internal BP documents estimate as much as 100,000 barrels per day.
Using 50,000 barrels per day as a mean, this would indicate 4,300,000 barrels of oil flowed into the Gulf over the almost 3 month span of the incident. Using best estimates, that is over eight times the amount spilled in 1989 by the Exxon Valdez, which devastated Prince William Sound.
Three months of living in the newly-toxic Gulf is not enough time to claim no effects from dispersants. Is anyone that gullible? There is one thing I do not like, and that is an outright lie. Corexit was banned in Britain for killing the limpet population. Do not tell me this toxin, dispersed with protective suits, is benign.
I lived in Central Florida, where a major lake (Apopka) was slowly killed due to pesticide and fertilizer runoff from the surrounding muck farms.
Lake Apopka was once a fisherman's paradise in the mid-20th century, but no more. The lake is the subject of much research, as it is here the androgynous frogs live. Two-headed frogs; male frogs with female reproductive systems. The ramifications are broad, as Lake Apopka was the headwaters of the Chain of Lakes, so many other lakes were also poisoned as well.
Yesterday congressional investigators"railed" against the Coast Guard and BP for their over-use of the dispersants:
"The investigators said the U.S. Coast Guard routinely approved BP requests to use thousands of gallons of the chemical per day to break up the oil in the Gulf, despite a federal directive to use the dispersant rarely. The Coast Guard approved 74 waivers over a 48-day period after the Environmental Protection Agency order, according to documents reviewed by the investigators. Only in a few cases did the government scale back BP's request.
"Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., released a letter Saturday that said instead of complying with the EPA restriction, 'BP often carpet bombed the ocean with these chemicals and the Coast Guard allowed them to do it'" (Congressmen: Too Much Dispersant Used in Oil Spill).
Of course, the Gulf of Mexico Has Long Been Dumping Site, and other stories are pressed to mitigate our concern. We have heard the routine before from other chemical giants like Dow and Monsanto.
But it turned out the stuff in the orange barrels used in Vietnam wasn't that benign, after all.