Saturday, January 31, 2009
Friday, January 30, 2009
From the Department of You Just Cannot Make This Shit Up Faster Than It Happens
Thursday 29 January 2009
by: Carol Rosenberg, The Miami Herald
A chief Army judge for the US War Commission trials in Guantanamo has refused President Obama's request for a delay in the US military's case against Abd el Rahim al Nashiri.
The chief judge of the Guantánamo war court Thursday spurned a presidential request to freeze the military commissions, and said he would go forward with next month's hearing for an alleged USS Cole bomber in a capital terror case.
Abd el Rahim al Nashiri, a Saudi Arabian, faces a Feb. 9 arraignment on terror charges he helped orchestrate the October 2000 al Qaeda suicide bombing that killed 17 U.S. sailors off the coast of Yemen.
Nashiri is now held at the remote U.S. Navy base in southeast Cuba after years of CIA detention in which the agency has confirmed it waterboarded him in secret custody.
Generals are mostly Republicans. Coincidence? You decide.
Now, Chicago Dyke says staffers on The Hill can't really think of ways to undermine the Blue Dogs, although they'd like to, and though she has her ideas, she wants to hear ours. Me, I'm remembering that, way back when, Conceptual Guerilla wrote Defeat the Right in Three Minutes. Pass it on.
Defeat the Right In Three Minutes
By Conceptual Guerilla
Meme-warfare, made simple.
(*Recently, GNN came across another digital guerrilla on the frontlines of the meme war. His nom de guerre is the Conceptual Guerilla, and for your first taste of his skills, we give you this deft deconstruction of the Right’s economic philosophy:)
Have you got three minutes? Because that’s all you need to learn how to defeat the Republican Right. Just read through this handy guide and you’ll have everything you need to successfully debunk right-wing propaganda.
It’s really that simple. First, you have to beat their ideology, which really isn’t that difficult. At bottom, conservatives believe in a social hierarchy of “haves” and “have nots” that I call ““corporate feudalism”” They have taken this corrosive social vision and dressed it up with a “respectable” sounding ideology. That ideology is pure hogwash, and you can prove it.
But you have to do more than defeat the ideology. You have to defeat the “drum beat.” You have to defeat the “propaganda machine,” that brainwashes people with their slogans and catch-phrases. You’ve heard those slogans. ““Less government”” and/or ““personal responsibility”” and lots of flag waving. They are “shorthand” for an entire worldview, and the right has been pounding their slogans out into the public domain for getting on forty years.
So you need a really good slogan – a “counter-slogan” really, to “deprogram” the brainwashed. You need a “magic bullet” that quickly and efficiently destroys the effectiveness of their “drum beat.” You need your own “drum beat” that sums up the right’s position. Only your “drum beat” exposes the ugly reality of right-wing philosophy – the reality their slogans are meant to hide. Our slogan contains the governing concept that explains the entire right-wing agenda. That’s why it works. You can see it in every policy, and virtually all of Republican rhetoric. And it’s so easy to remember, and captures the essence of the Republican Right so well, we can pin it on them like a “scarlet letter.”
Thursday, January 29, 2009
...on the day that Grover Norquist's carcass is found, drowned, in a bathtub.
Wrapped in the arms of Karl Rove.
The sooner, the better.
Can I have an "Alle-fuukin-lulia,?"
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Democrat John Conyers of Michigan, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, today subpoenaed former White House aide Karl Rove to testify a week from today before the committee.Bush did NOT pardon Rover, Miers, Gonzo, or any of his shit-drenched henchfolk because had he done so, they would have had no recourse but to answer inconvenient, or embarrassing, questions from investigators. Pardoned, they would have LOST the protection of the 5th Amendment. This way, even if they honor the subpoenas, they can still obstruct the investigations.
It's the second time Conyers has tried to get Rove to appear in connection with what he calls the politicization of the Justice Department during the Bush administration, including the firing of U.S. attorneys and the prosecution of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman.
Conyers said in a press release that while the Bush administration said Rove had immunity, President Obama disagreed with that claim. “Change has come to Washington, and I hope Karl Rove is ready for it. After two years of stonewalling, it’s time for him to talk,” Conyers said.
It's unclear if Rove will be compelled to appear next week. Eric Holder, Obama's choice for attorney general, has not yet been confirmed. And Obama has said he wants to look forward, not backward.
Monday, January 26, 2009
I don't know why anybody thought that just because the Pukes were thrown out, the Pukes would stop fucking the People. Freedom of association gives way to guilt by association.
US Supreme Court rules officer's pat-down of vehicle passenger allowedWTF, even the so-called 'liberal' Justice Ginsberg ruled to overturn the Appellate Court. With rulings like these from even "liberals,' I do not see how Obama can significantly alter the ideology of the Court, even if he lucked into a Scalia stroke, or a Kennedy cardiac arrest, to go along with Stevens' and Souter's long-anticipated retirements.
By Associated Press
10:32 AM EST, January 26, 2009
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court ruled Monday that police officers have leeway to frisk a passenger in a car stopped for a traffic violation even if nothing indicates the passenger has committed a crime or is about to do so.
The court on Monday unanimously overruled an Arizona appeals court that threw out evidence found during such an encounter.
The case involved a 2002 pat-down search of an Eloy, Ariz., man by an Oro Valley police officer, who found a gun and marijuana.
The justices accepted Arizona's argument that traffic stops are inherently dangerous for police and that pat-downs are permissible when an officer has a reasonable suspicion that the passenger may be armed and dangerous.
The pat-down is allowed if the police "harbor reasonable suspicion that a person subjected to the frisk is armed, and therefore dangerous to the safety of the police and public," Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
According to AP:
...(The new bill) is friendlier to states that want to cover children in families with incomes exceeding three times the federal poverty level — $63,600 for a family of four.The plan calls for the increased costs of the bill to be borne by tobacco users in the form of increased taxes on cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products.
Also, the bill calls for covering children of legal immigrants now barred from government-sponsored insurance until they have been in the country at least five years.
The two provisions have angered Senate Republicans, including some who disagreed with Bush and worked closely with Democrats on expanding the program in 2007. Democrats have countered that 90 percent of the bill to be debated in the week ahead is based on legislation that previously had broad bipartisan support in the both the Senate and House.
I am no fan of tobacco products, having forsworn the evil weed almost exactly 15 years (and 20 lb) ago. But it seems to me that the costs of bringing more poor people under the umbrella of coverage should not be borne by taxing poor folks, which is still the dominant demographic in which tobacco use is endemic.
Instead of taxing tobacco, I recommend levying a "vanity" tax, on face-lifts, boob-jobs, tummy-tucks and the like. Folks willing to put out such quantities of cash to boost their egos surgically oughtn't baulk at a surcharge of, say 30%, to fund the NEEDED care of poor kids.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
So when Scott Horton, at Harper's stellar "No Comment" blog asks, "Did Bush’s Terrorist Surveillance Program Really Focus on American Journalists?" you are prepared for an affirmative, with action attachments.
For the last several weeks, Michael Hayden, the former CIA director who previously led the NSA, has been sweating bullets. In recent press meetings he was a bundle of worries, regularly expressing worries about “prosecutions.” Fear of the consequences of criminal acts has been a steady theme for Hayden. In her book The Dark Side, Jane Mayer reports that in 2004 Deputy Attorney General James Comey was “taken aback” by Hayden’s comments when he was let in on the details of the program that Hayden ran at NSA. “I’m glad you’re joining me, because I won’t have to be lonely, sitting all by myself at the witness table, in the administration of John Kerry.”
(O)n MSNBC’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” (Jan 21) we learned that Hayden is concerned about more than just allegations that detainees in CIA custody were tortured. Former NSA analyst Russell Tice, a source for the New York Times disclosure of details of the program, appears to offer further details on the program. He reports that under Hayden the NSA was looking at “everyone’s” communications—telephone conversations, emails, faxes, IMs—and that in addition to suspect terrorists, the NSA was carefully culling data from Internet and phone lines to track the communications of U.S. journalists. This was done under the pretense of pulling out a control group that was not suspect. But Tice reports that when he started asking questions about why journalists were sorted out for special scrutiny, he found that he himself came under close scrutiny and was removed from involvement in the program. He found that he had come under intense FBI surveillance and his communications in all forms were being monitored. After expressing severe doubts about the operations of the NSA program, both Deputy Attorney General Comey and former Assistant Attorney General Jack Goldsmith both believe they also came under intense surveillance. Both decided to leave the Bush Administration after these developments.
If Tice’s allegations are correct, then Hayden managed a program which was in essence a massive felony, violating strict federal criminal statutes that limit the NSA’s domestic surveillance operations. While a number of media outlets reported that Hayden’s activities were “vindicated” by a recent FISA court ruling approving the NSA surveillance program, that view is completely incorrect. The FISA court ruling dealt only with the implementation of a program under the newly amended FISA following Hayden’s departure.
Watch the Tice interview here:
There's a Part 2, also.
Friday, January 23, 2009
(Above, Yucca Mountain, NV, site for proposed US Long-Term Nuclear Disposal site--and my ideal place for a new Gitmo replacement site.)
One way or another, a fair number of the men and boys held without warrants, trial, evidence, or due process at Gitmo, subjected there to humiliation, torture, and hopelessness, these last 6 or 7 years, have formed antipathies against the good ol' compassionate, freedom-loving, human-rights proclaiming USofA.
I can't IMAGINE how that might have happened.
But it has, and the biggest problem with closing Gitmo as a GWOT terrorist-detention camp seems to be what should be done with these men and boys. This seems to be the biggest impediment to closing it: where to house these (alleged) terrorists? What should/shall become of them?
I have had a couple of ideas on the matter.
Until I learned today that there was a low probability that the State of Nevada would permit the US DoE to consign high-risk nuclear waste to the facility at Yucca Mountain, I had thought that housing the prisoners there would have a couple of salutary effects. First, it is an isolated location, ensuring for the most part that the incarcerants would be able to be kept incognito. Second, since they could never be released, they would provide a valuable social function, acting as canaries in the coal-mine, so to speak. Their health could be a valuable index of the potential toxicity of the waste stored there.
But I was disabused of this notion by a Las Vegan who knowledgeably proclaimed that thee was no way The Sovereign State Of Nevada would consent to become the radiation capitol of the Nation. And for a while, I was stumped. But then I had a vision!
Put the Detention Center in Crawford, TX.
That's the "H" in the middle of nowHere.
Call it the George W. Bush Memorial Terrorist Detention, Rendition, and Torture Center: the GWBTDR&T Center.
Put the Bush "Library" there, too, and salvage what's left of SMU's tattered academic prestige.
(Hell, you could probably store the nuclear waste there, too, as desolate (geologically and demographically) as that part of Texas is. Nuclear radiation would pose no danger to the IQs in the environs of Waco. Indeed, some mutations could foreseeably IMPROVE things in that department...Sure couldn't hurt!)
This would be far more appropriate memorial to the name and accomplishments of the former President than a sewage sludge recycling plant in San Francisco (though the idea that the people of that great city could ever thereafter refer to their bowel movements as "taking a Bush" almost redeems the idea). The GWBTDR&T Center commemorates ALL the most important aspects of the Bushevik regime for all time...
Thursday, January 22, 2009
BOSTON (Reuters; By Gene Emery Gene Emery – Wed Jan 21, 5:18 pm ET) – Dramatic improvements in U.S. air quality over the last two decades have added 21 weeks to the life of the average American, researchers reported on Wednesday.The gains in life expectancy are not large, relatively speaking: less than a year. The big question seems to me to be how many microns of that toxic dust are there out there, and what's the biggest number by which ALL efforts might be expected to reduce them.
Reducing fine particles given off by automobiles, diesel engines, steel mills and coal-fired power plants have added as much as 15 percent of the 2.72 years of extra longevity seen in the United States since the early 1980s, they wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Changes in smoking habits are the biggest reason why Americans are living longer, said Arden Pope, an epidemiologist at Brigham Young University in Utah who led the study.
Improved socioeconomic conditions, judged partly by the proportion of high school graduates living in an area, rank next. But cleaner air was a big factor.
"It's stunning that the air pollution effect seems to be as robust as it is after controlling for these other things," Pope said in a telephone interview.
An even BIGGER issue is: How shall anyone persuade political leaders of constituencies already saturated with IMAGES of an also (and ALWAYS) already unsustainable and now completely unattainable meta-consumerism that those constituents have got about as good as its gonna get if humans are not to be responsible for rendering the planet uninhabitable for everyone? What enticements are there for people who are being actively sought out in liminal tribal spaces to be "naive" taste-comparison judges between two competing fast fat joints to now then retire placidly again into the bosom of nature? Fat ALWAYS wins. So, assuming there's even a vestige of verisimilitude in the performances, the burger which supplied the biggest fat jolt would be adjudged superior by people who did not typically enjoy a lot of fat in their diets.
There's always much more fat than meat on a Peking duck...
There is about civilized humans always the implicit threat that, if "I" am to "go down," "I" shall be obliged to take some--if not all, then as many as possible--of "you" "down" with me.
*NCHEAT: Nobody Could Have Ever Anticipated That
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Transcript from an interview with the Native American and environmental activist who became Ralph Nader's vice-presidential candidate on the Green ticket, in 2000, from the weekly radio program, Living On Earth. There's a link to the whole audio segment here.
Interviewer Steve Curwood for LOE: When it comes to U.S. energy policy and Native Americans, the record's pretty poor. Uranium and coal mining have brought pollution to native communities and lands - but relatively few jobs - and rising sea waters due to fossil fuel consumption are forcing native villages in Alaska to abandon their coastal lands.The following comes right at the conclusion of the interview, and to my mind illustrates how it is not only possible but also necessary to regard the world in an epistemologically consistent scientific way while still granting the possibility of the mutability of the metaphor.
But now that Barack Obama has brought his promise of a lean, clean economy to the White House, many tribes are feeling hopeful. So hopeful, in fact, that a green policy statement representing more than 200 tribes and tribal organizations has been submitted to the Obama team.
Winona LaDuke is a rural development economist and writer - you might know her as Ralph Nader's running mate on the Green Party ticket in the 2000 presidential elections. She now directs Honor the Earth, a non-profit that helped draw up the green petition, which outlines what Native America needs from the Obama administration, and what the Obama administration needs from Native America.
CURWOOD: Winona LaDuke, you once very famously said, and I quote "I would like to see as many people patriotic to a land as I have seen patriotic to a flag." How do you feel about this being the time for that sort of patriotism?
LADUKE: I think that the present time is good. My youngest son, his name is Gwaconamont Gasko (sp). And Gwaconamont in our language means when the wind shifts. And that is what is happening now; the wind is shifting. And we have a chance to do something great for the generations that have not yet arrived here. You know, we've battled for years to create a society which is not based on conquest, but is based on survival. And the Obama administration, with the intersection between the realities of a shrinking, unsustainable economy, climate change, fuel, poverty and peak oil, we have the chance to make an economy that will reaffirm a relationship to the land. And so, I'm very optimistic. The next economy will not affect our sacred sites, our rivers, our lakes, our mountains, because the next economy will not require their consumption.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Obama Bans Corporate Funding, But Nearly 80 Percent of Contributions Have Been Raised by 211 Wealthy Donors, Many From Wall Street
WASHINGTON, D.C. - President-elect Barack Obama has banned corporate and lobbyist funding for his historic inauguration, but that has not kept special interests from picking up the tab, according to a Public Citizen analysis. Nearly 80 percent of the $35.3 million raised to date by the Presidential Inaugural Committee has come from just 211 individual "bundlers."
"Bundlers" are well-connected fundraisers, frequently corporate executives, who collect checks from colleagues or other associates, deliver them to a fundraising committee and receive credit for raising the money. Obama has voluntarily banned direct contributions for his inaugural committee from corporations, lobbyists, political action committees and unions. But the committee is accepting individual contributions of up to $50,000 and bundled amounts of up to $300,000.
Obama’s 211 inaugural bundlers account for $27.6 million of the $35.3 million raised to date. More than half the inaugural bundlers also served as bundlers to the Obama campaign, according to Public Citizen’s analysis.
The strictest self-imposed limit on inaugural fundraising in recent history was during President Clinton’s second inaugural, in which he limited contributions to $100 per donor. However his inaugural committee sold ball tickets for up to $3,000, and Clinton tapped into $9.9 million left over from his first inauguration.
Many prominent Wall Street executives have bundled large amounts for the inauguration, including:
• Louis Susman, vice chairman of Citigroup Corporate and Investment Banking and managing director, vice chairman of investment banking, Citigroup ($300,000);
• Mark Gilbert, senior executive, Lehman Brothers ($185,000);
• Robert Wolf, chairman and CEO, UBS Americas ($100,000);
• Jennifer Scully, vice president, private wealth management, Goldman Sachs ($100,000);
• Bruce Heyman, managing director of the Private Wealth Management Group, Midwest region, Goldman Sachs ($50,000);
• Kobi Brinson, senior vice president and assistant general counsel, Wachovia ($35,000)
"It’s no wonder that Wall Street is pouring so much money into this inauguration," said David Arkush, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. "The executive branch has given bailouts worth trillions of dollars to Wall Street firms and is considering trillions more. Wall Street has a lot at stake."
Small donors do not appear to be much of a factor in the inaugural fundraising. Of the 5,632 reported contributions to the inaugural committee, only 113 were "small" contributions of $200. The Presidential Inauguration Committee is not disclosing donations below that threshold.
"No doubt many donors give simply because they want to be part of history," said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen. "But donors and bundlers who represent special interests with business pending before the government and who dole out five-figure checks to the inaugural committee usually want a seat at the table with the new administration."
The most raised on inaugural festivities in the past was by President Bush in 2005, who received $42.3 million, mostly in corporate funds. Obama appears likely to break this record.
"The inauguration is the last chance for big donors to throw money at the feet of the president," said Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen. "Inaugural festivities should not be a day of influence-peddling. The inauguration should be a time for peaceful transition in government, paid for with public funds."
More findings about the funding of the inauguration are available at Public Citizen's Congress Watch and Becoming44.org.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Saturday, January 17, 2009
"Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet" (da mihi castitatem et continentiam, sed noli modo).
I always thought St. Augustine was just about the epitome of sainthood. A wealthy youth, he spent days and nights in wild debauchery, carousing, drinking, wenching. He kept a concubine (with whom he was apparently deeply in love), and then 'found religion' later.
In middle age, he turned to 'faith,' and --at the behest of his mother, (St.) Monica (who was canonized mainly for having converted her son)-- became a Christian. A bishop, actually, of the North African city of Hippo. His acquaintance with the ways of the world, and his excellent education (he was regarded as the foremost rhetorician of his age) provided him with a body of experience from which he regularly disquisited, including this gem (recovered and refurbished on the Harper's blog site, on the mutuality of the relation of the state, war, and criminality:
You will not prove that humans are happy who live steadily in the midst of the disasters of war. Whether the blood shed is that of their fellow citizens or of their enemies matters not, for in any case it is human blood. The dark shadow of fear and the lust for blood has fallen over them. If they know joy, then it is but the gleaming of fragile glass which they must fear will be shattered at any second. How then can it be wise or even rational to see grounds to be boastful in the building of empires?…On the same subject, he wrote: "An unjust law is no law at all."
If it does not do justice, what is the government but a great criminal enterprise? For what are gangs of criminals but petty little governments? The pack is a group which follows the orders of its leader according to a social compact of sorts, sharing the spoils along the rules upon which they agree. Through a process of gradual accretion, the gang may acquire bodies and territory, establish itself in some place, and soon be possessed of all the attributes of statehood—then it may be known as a state, acquiring this title not by being any less avaricious but rather by having achieved impunity. Alexander the Great’s conversation with a pirate he had captured reflects this well. The king asked what possessed him to infest the sea as he did, and the pirate replied: “No differently from you when you pursue your crimes in the world. I act with a small ship, so I am called a pirate. You command a fleet and are called emperor.”
While Augustine dying on his sick-bed, a man petitioned him that he might lay his hands upon a relative who was ill. Augustine replied that if he had any power to cure the sick, he would surely have applied it on himself first. But he finally rlented, and (as they say) "lo, the sick man went away healed." Not, unfortunately, the Saint himself, who shortly perished.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Over at ThinkProgress, the folks who put out the "Progress Report" have listed "The 43 Who Helped Make Bush The Worst Ever". The list is topped by Darth Cheney, followed by Karl Rove, Alberto Gonzales, Don Rumsfeld, and Michael Brown ("Brownie," who did a heckuva job ensuring the almost complete destruction of New Orleans, post-Katrina). The Top 10 is completed with Paul Wolfowitz, David Addington ("Cheney's Cheney"), Stephen Johnson of the EPA, Doug ("The Dumbest Motherfucker On The Planet") Feith, and John ("The Mustache") Bolton.
Condoleezza (Italian for "Chickenlegs) Rice doesn't make the list til #18. John Yoo, the moon-faced torture maven from Boalt Hall, is on at #11. Ari Fleischer makes the list at 12. None of the rest will be particularly surprising, though some of them will not be familiar names to anyone not already a total anti-Bushevik. I do not know how none of the Supremes past or present made the list; it seems to me that Sandra Day O'Connor deserves a place, since it was she more than any other single individual who made the last 8 years possible. Alito and Roberts have both made contributions, too, as has Tony ("Vafanculo") Scalia. Also conspicuous by his absence would be Grover Norquist.
The Progress Reporters appended their selections with the following notice:
Dishonorable Mentions: Bush appointees who didn't quite make the list included a child pornography aficionado, a patron of hookers, a shoplifter, a mail fraudster, an operator of an illegal horse gambling ring, and a CIA official who took bribes in the form of prostitutes.I do not know by what criteria folk were included or consigned to lower orders of influence. Why did they stop at 43? With O'Connor and the six in the addendum, there would have been a nice, even 50. The answer?
The Progress Report heralds the conclusion of the Bush 43 presidency by bringing you our list of the top 43 worst Bush appointees. Did we miss anyone? Who should have been ranked higher? Let us know what you think.Other quibbles aside, I think Condi should have made the list twice, once as Nat Sec Advisor ("Bin Laden Determined To Strike In US"), and then again as SecState. Seldom has any single person been so universally admired, in spite of being so incredibly inept as that skanky, chicken-legged bint with her phony Stanford job...
Thursday, January 15, 2009
What that means is that nothing of any significance is gonna change, unless it is to the advantage of the hegemons that it should. There will continue to be warfare globally, no matter who is nominally in charge. Alternative energy will continue to be secondary until the Boss's bosses have stripped every dollar they possibly can from the existing energy infrastructure. There will be no Universal Health program, because the insurance companies will not-- cannot--be denied their parasitic share. Militarism will prosper apace, and militarists will profit handsomely. There will be more-- not less; never less --surveillance; there will be further "erosions" of rights. The PATRIOT ACT will stand inviolable and inviolate. Now that it's "legal" to interfere, I don't imagine that Mr. O will cede back privacy to the "people," if that might also include "terrorists."
Mr.O seems like a perfectly nice man. I'd probably like him if I were to meet him. But I have lived too long to expect him to behave like anything other than what he manifestly is: politically a "right-centerist," economically neo-liberal, smooth-talking, glad-handing demagogue.
You may rebuke me, at will, when (if!) it turns out otherwise.
I shall almost certainly catch a ration of shit for this but:
I was raised among very polite, genteel racists. My dad loved to tell a good story, had a linguist's ear for accents, and an elitist's scorn for those whom he considered less than his equals (during my youth, at any rate; my brother tells me he later amended his ways), so every ethnic group was fair game. One story he delighted in telling ended with the line: "And, lo, Moses then fled Pharoah and led his people, the Israelites, forth from Egypt, and they wandered 40 years in the desert, and, lo, at last they returned to Israel. The only place in the entire Middle East WITHOUT any oil...That Moses, eh? Some LEADER (headsmack)! OY!!"
That energy-sparse condition hadn't changed materially in 3000 years when, in 1948, the United Nations (and, importantly, the United States) expropriated Arab Palestine to grant a homeland --a Jewish State-- to the survivors of the systemic holocaust against European Jews, 1937-45 (though, actually, in fact, there are a couple of oil and gas fields under post-1967 Israel).
And, with their relentless assault on the Gaza Strip the State of Israel-qua-State may be endeavoring --whatsoever else they proclaim to be doing with the horrific and egregious invasion-- to improve their energy reserves.
Because (wouldn't you just KNOW it?) there JUST HAPPENS TO BE a pretty, great, honking-big bubble of natural gas out in the Mediterranean off the coast of...wait for it...Gaza. It lies under what would be Palestinian waters, if there were actually a Palestinian state.
The field reportedly holds one trillion cubic feet of gas, the equivalent of 150 million barrels of oil, equivalent to a large North Sea field. There are a couple of ancillary fields, too, access to which --the vulnerable pipelines to and from which, mainly-- would be perilously close to the northern edge of Gaza. But the field, mapped by BP in 2000, seems to almost exactly map on the Gaza coast line.
And in a development that is probably deeply resented in Tel Aviv, Israel buys gas from the BG fields off Gaza, some of the royalties of which go back to the Palestinian Authority.
The Times reports (in 2007) that British energy firm BG Group is poised to agree the terms of an historic $4 billion deal to supply gas to Israel from a discovery off the Gaza coastline. The deal is the result of a decision by PM Olmert to abandon the objections of former PM Sharon and buy energy from the Palestinians after giving away control over Gaza and its resources. BG Group had reportedly threatened to pump the gas to Egypt.One might wonder if some part of the continuing violence against Gaza may be the Israeli's way of saving some money?
According to the paper, representatives from the British energy company are scheduled next week to meet negotiators appointed by the Israeli Cabinet to thrash out a 15-year contract. Despite the violence in Gaza, and the threat to Ashkelon, the Israeli Foreign Ministry has insisted that it wants to conclude a deal "as soon as possible."
The deal would enable BG Group, former owner of British Gas, to begin developing the Palestine Authority's only natural resource. There would be enough gas to provide 10 per cent of Israel's annual energy requirement, and the Palestinians would receive total royalties of $1 billion, 25% of the overall expenditure.
The sensitive bilateral talks could be derailed at any time by the acute political tension that surrounds the deal, but Nigel Shaw, the BG Group vice-president in the region, reported "making progress" and said "this is a chance for greater economic prosperity in Palestine and that is only good for peace."
Myself, I think it part and parcel with Israel's territorial ambitions. Israel-qua-State is, imho, irreversibly dedicated to ethnically cleansing Palestinian Arabs from whichsoever enclaves where they persist. Israel also, of course, controls virtually ALL the natural resources of the region. It arbitrates, almost exclusively, the distribution of all water in the Jordan River valley between Lebanon and the Egyptian border, for instance. The dispute over water resources has been a feature of the Arab-Israeli conflict since its beginning, however the issue has been paid little attention in works on the Six-Day War. This neglect stems from the fact that research on water issues in the Jordan basin has often been highly technical and has been mostly overshadowed by the more dramatic diplomatic and strategic narrative. The Palestinians on the West Bank (the Abbas/Fateh part) have no authority at all in such matters. The 2006 war with Hezbollah was regarded by many to have been a water war for control of the northern entry points into Israel of the Litani River from Lebanon.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
...(A)s we bid farewell to Bushisms, we must conclude that the joke was mainly on us.1. "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."—Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004
2. "I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family."—Greater Nashua, N.H., Chamber of Commerce, Jan. 27, 2000
3. "Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?"—Florence, S.C., Jan. 11, 2000
4. "Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB/GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across the country."—Poplar Bluff, Mo., Sept. 6, 2004
5. "Neither in French nor in English nor in Mexican."—declining to answer reporters' questions at the Summit of the Americas, Quebec City, Canada, April 21, 2001
6. "You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test.''—Townsend, Tenn., Feb. 21, 2001
7. "I'm the decider, and I decide what is best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense."—Washington, D.C., April 18, 2006
8. "See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."—Greece, N.Y., May 24, 2005
9. "I've heard he's been called Bush's poodle. He's bigger than that."—discussing former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, as quoted by the Sun newspaper, June 27, 2007
10. "And so, General, I want to thank you for your service. And I appreciate the fact that you really snatched defeat out of the jaws of those who are trying to defeat us in Iraq."—meeting with Army Gen. Ray Odierno, Washington, D.C., March 3, 2008
11. "We ought to make the pie higher."—South Carolina Republican debate, Feb. 15, 2000
12. "There's an old saying in Tennessee—I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee—that says, fool me once, shame on—shame on you. Fool me—you can't get fooled again."—Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002
13. "And there is distrust in Washington. I am surprised, frankly, at the amount of distrust that exists in this town. And I'm sorry it's the case, and I'll work hard to try to elevate it."—speaking on National Public Radio, Jan. 29, 2007
14. "We'll let our friends be the peacekeepers and the great country called America will be the pacemakers."—Houston, Sept. 6, 2000
15. "It's important for us to explain to our nation that life is important. It's not only life of babies, but it's life of children living in, you know, the dark dungeons of the Internet."—Arlington Heights, Ill., Oct. 24, 2000
16. "One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures."—U.S. News & World Report, Jan. 3, 2000
17. "People say, 'How can I help on this war against terror? How can I fight evil?' You can do so by mentoring a child; by going into a shut-in's house and say I love you."—Washington, D.C., Sept. 19, 2002
18. "Well, I think if you say you're going to do something and don't do it, that's trustworthiness."—CNN online chat, Aug. 30, 2000
19. "I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep on the soil of a friend."—on the prospect of visiting Denmark, Washington, D.C., June 29, 2005
20. "I think it's really important for this great state of baseball to reach out to people of all walks of life to make sure that the sport is inclusive. The best way to do it is to convince little kids how to—the beauty of playing baseball."—Washington, D.C., Feb. 13, 2006
21. "Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream."—LaCrosse, Wis., Oct. 18, 2000
22. "You know, when I campaigned here in 2000, I said, I want to be a war president. No president wants to be a war president, but I am one."—Des Moines, Iowa, Oct. 26, 2006
23. "There's a huge trust. I see it all the time when people come up to me and say, 'I don't want you to let me down again.' "—Boston, Oct. 3, 2000
24. "They misunderestimated me."—Bentonville, Ark., Nov. 6, 2000
25. "I'll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office."—Washington, D.C., May 12, 2008
Since 2000, according to Democracy Now (the link/transcript to Monday's show is not up yet), Ali Abunihma, of Electronic Intifada, a commentator and enthusiastic and voluble apologist for the Palestinians, reported that while the Israelis have counted several thousand "qassam" rockets fired from Palestine into Gaza since 2005--little more than RPGs, albeit deadly if you happen to be within range (about 20 yards)-- Israelis have themselves fired more than 10 times that many--and exponentially larger and more powerful--missiles, artillery shells and air-borne bombs INTO Gaza over SINCE Dec. 1, 2008.I have previously written about the false equivalences between Palestinian "Qassam" rockets and Israeli 105mm artillery/tank rounds or air-to-ground missiles.
The spectre of the suicide-bombed Israeli bus smoldering in the street is horrendous. It will ALWAYS be widely promulgated--make the front pages/top story--through the 'civilized world'.
Unfortunately, the artillery or F-15 borne, air-to-ground missile-shattered autos or mini-buses in Gaza are ignored--in no small part because the Israelis won't permit outside reporters into their 'combat zones.'
It is credulous and naive to believe that the Israelis do NOT harbor territorial ambitions in Palestine. It is hard to avoid the implication that the Israelis are ethnically cleansing the Palestinian authority. They already have wrapped up almost all the water and other local natural resources sufficiently to prevent a Palestinian state to have any leverage in any future discussion of the distribution of those resources in some truce-divided state...
Monday, January 12, 2009
That is the only thing I shall remember without revulsion about the Chimperor.
It may be the only thing about the regime that deserves to be remembered without revulsion.
It's a great word.
But the last 8 years are a terrible price to pay for a word.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Invitation to Pre-Inauguration Opening of The George W. Bush Presidential Library...You are cordially invited to the official,The BRAD BLOG welcomes any other insider tips on rooms planned for the library, but not yet listed above...
pre-inauguration opening ofThe George W. Bush Presidential Library
The following rooms will be dedicated:
The Texas Air National Guard Room,
where you don't actually have to show up.
The Hurricane Katrina Room,
which is still under construction.
The Alberto Gonzales Room,
where you won't be able to remember anything.
The Walter Reed Hospital Room,
where they don't let you in.
The Guantanamo Bay Room,
where they don't let you out.
The National Debt Room,
which is huge and has no ceiling.
The Tax Cut Room,
(Admission is restricted to the wealthy.)
The Airport Men's Room,
where you can meet some of your favorite Republican Senators.
The Economy Room,
which is in the toilet.
The Iraq War Room,
where, after you complete your first tour, you
go back for a second...a third, a fourth...
The Dick Cheney Room,
in an undisclosed location, complete with shooting gallery.
The Environmental Conservation Room,
still empty, but warm...and getting warmer.
The Decider Room,
complete with dartboard, Magic 8-Ball, Ouija board,
dice, coins, and straws.
The Weapons of Mass Destruction Room,
(No one has yet been able to find it.)
The Supreme Court Gift Shop,
where you can purchase an election.
Note: The George W. Bush Library is equipped with an electron microscope to help locate the President's accomplishments.
And there's the rub, or part of it. PTSD doesn't typically, or necessarily, include 'giving blood,' and therefore is not regarded as constituting a sacrifice deserving of the nation's 'reverence.' That'd be one big impediment. In fact, soldiers asked about it have said they believe awarding the PH for PTSD would "cheapen" the award. A story in The Army Times last year contained the following complaints:
"It would lessen the meaning of the award,” a Marine said about the military’s oldest combat medal.
“I’d be ashamed to wear it,” chimed in a soldier.
“It’s an insult to those who have suffered real injury on the battlefield,” wrote an Army intelligence officer.
Then one would need to consider the attitudes of the "Brass." The military brass, no matter what noises they might make to the contrary, ALWAYS regard "PTSD," "combat fatigue," "shell shock," etc., to be forms of malingering, mere excuses from the duty ALL faced, whether in terror-induced psychoses or not.
The Brass, the pols, the bureaucracy may fake a certain sympathy for the victims of PTSD/Shell Shock, but behind it is unrelieved scorn: "Tough Guys" don't break down like little girls at the sight of a few dead bodies, or from getting blown up a little. Succumbing to PTSD/combat fatique is a sign of inherent weakness. And anyone who is so delicate as to be unable to continue in their duties is unworthy of the trust of their buddies, because they might collapse in a crisis, and in combat, one fights not for god, nor country, nor flag, nor even the girl back home; one fights FOR one's buddies, one's shipmates, one's pals.
So there will be no Purple Heart for the PTSD victims. It would be too much like honoring what those who award the medal regard as borderline cowardice...
Of course, they've got their heads up their asses.
But when was THAT any kind of abnormality among the Military Bosses?
Friday, January 9, 2009
Via Avedon's Sideshow, via CharlesII: A certain Israeli "old soldier," one Avi Schlaim thinks so, and wrote to that effect in The Guardian, the other day.
This brief review of Israel’s record over the past four decades makes it difficult to resist the conclusion that it has become a rogue state with “an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders”. A rogue state habitually violates international law, possesses weapons of mass destruction and practises terrorism - the use of violence against civilians for political purposes.Gee, that decription fits not only Israel, but Israel's great protector--NO, not Ywwh, but USofA. He descries three symptomatic facts:
#1: It was not Hamas but the IDF that broke the ceasefire. It did so by a raid into Gaza on 4 November that killed six Hamas men. Israel’s objective is not just the defence of its population but the eventual overthrow of the Hamas government in Gaza…To which Charles, too, and I as well, add this conclusion:
#2: Israel had the right to act in self-defence but its response to the pinpricks of rocket attacks was totally disproportionate….In the three years after the withdrawal from Gaza, 11 Israelis were killed by rocket fire. On the other hand, in 2005-7 alone, the IDF killed 1,290 Palestinians in Gaza, including 222 children.
#3: And far from taking care to spare civilians, Israel is guilty of indiscriminate bombing and of a three-year-old blockade that has brought the inhabitants of Gaza, now 1.5 million, to the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe.
# The brutality of Israel’s soldiers is fully matched by the mendacity of its spokesmen.Except for the penultimate statement, it is difficult to find fault with this analysis. Unless to suggest that it doesn't go far enough. It would be height of credulity to believe Israel harbored/harbors no territorial ambitions. Indeed, I think it has become obvious that they will now not stop short of whole-sale ethnic cleansing of Arabs from "eretz Israel." For nations as well as corporations: Grow or perish.
The latter creates a serious problem when we are faced with reports that Israel may have used proscribed munitions and that it attacked without provocation civilians in the UN school. Long ago, we could almost assume that the Palestinians were lying and the Israelis were telling the truth. Now we have to assume they’re both lying.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
The Park Service Granted Rabid Gay-Basher Fred Phelps A Demonstration Permit On The Obama Inaugural Route
The U.S. Park Service granted some groups permits to protest on Inauguration Day.I wonder about the politics of this. Did a Bushevik USPS administrator issue Phelps a permit to embarrass the in-coming regime? Or did the NPS consult with the transition team on the selection of permitted protests?
The Westboro Baptist Church from Topeka, Kan., will have 15 people at the northeast corner of John Marshal Park protesting military funerals and gays until the parade clears, the park service said.
Protesting abortion clinics in front of the Canadian Embassy will be 100 to 200 people from the Christian Defense Coalition in New Jersey.
James Cook, who wants to make sure the Bill of Rights if fully upheld, told the Park Service he will have 50 to 250 people with him at Ninth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in Northwest.
Demonstrating in favor of world peace at the northeast corner of Lafayette Park will be 50 to 100 people from the Coalition for Peace.
Also demonstrating for peace will be the Washington Peace Center. About 1,000 people will march from Meridian Hill Park (Malcolm X Park) to McPherson Square. The march requires a permit to march down 16th Street from D.C. police.
Seventy-five people from the National Japanese Memorial Foundation will ring a bell at the National Japanese Memorial in order to bring attention to the memorial.
All of the demonstrations are scheduled to begin at 7 a.m., with the exception of the National Japanese Memorial Foundation, which will begin its bell ringing at 8 a.m.
It does appear, at least, that the so-called "Free-Speech Zones" of the last, unlamented regime are things of the past, no matter the reason.
Does anybody else suspect that “Israel” is the sickest joke ever committed against Jews by goyim?
“I know how to really screw the Jews,” the European diplomat declared.
“That’s got my attention,” sez the American diplomat. “Whachew got?”
“Let’s give ‘em ‘Israel,’ the European sez. “IN Palestine.”
“But there’s already a bunch of Arabs there. Aren’t they bound to object?” asks the American.
“Yep,” sez the European.
“Brilliant!” sez the American.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Amy Gardner, of The Washington Post writes today of the (literal) travails of the large family of Muslims which found themselves kicked off a domestic airline flight, mainly for discussing whether their seats were inn the safest part of the plane. They were then forbidden by the same airline to re-book when the 'mistake' was clarified. The "informants" may have been a couple of teen-agers:
"Officials ordered nine Muslim passengers, including three young children, off an AirTran flight headed to Orlando from Reagan National Airport yesterday afternoon after two other passengers overheard what they thought was a suspicious remark. Members of the party, all but one of them US-born citizens who were headed to a religious retreat in Florida, were subsequently cleared for travel by FBI agents who characterized the incident as a misunderstanding, an airport official said. But the passengers said AirTran refused to rebook them, and they had to pay for seats on another carrier secured with help from the FBI.Were, by chance I the one to whom such treatment befell, Air Tran would henceforth ALWAYS have a PLANE for me ANYTIME ever again I needed, or WANTED one, NO MATTER where or when, or where I was going, or with whom.
Five of the six adults in the party are of South Asian descent, and all six are traditionally Muslim in appearance, with the men wearing beards and the women in headscarves. Irfan, 34, is an anesthesiologist. His brother, 29, is a lawyer. Both live in Alexandria with their families, and both were born in Detroit. They were traveling with their wives, Kashif Irfan's sister-in-law, a friend and Kashif Irfan's three sons, ages 7, 4 and 2.
That'd be ONE part of the settlement.
Via TruthOut, Gail Russell Chaddock, of The Christian Science Monitor confirms my suspicions:
"As a US senator and presidential candidate, Barack Obama routinely criticized the accretion of presidential power during the Bush years. But in the run-up to assuming the presidency himself, the President-elect has gone silent on whether he would roll back powers claimed during the Bush years - or support congressional efforts to do so."In such matters, silence is worrisome, and the color of 'worrisome' is NOT golden. Chaddock's report continues:
"As president, I will not assert a constitutional authority to deploy troops in a manner contrary to an express limit imposed by Congress and adopted into law," he said in a Dec. 20, 2007 interview with The Boston Globe, circulated by the transition team."Conventional Wisdom" (along with over 200 years of history) argues persuasively that no branch of Govt EVER voluntarily relinquishes ANY power it has won from any of the other two branches. Not since George Washington has a president restored emergency powers to the Congress. There is no reason to think Mr. O. will buck precedent here, either. Obama has not renounced or even much rephrased the rhetoric ot "GWOT/Imminent Danger," which rhetoric has propped up the Bushevik seizure of many legislative and judicial powers and perqs.
As a US senator, he introduced a resolution (S.J. Res. 23) that stated that "any offensive military action taken by the United States against Iran must be explicitly authorized by Congress."
But some civil libertarians say that the precedents of the Bush years are so threatening to a constitutional balance of powers that Obama should act swiftly in the new administration to restore that balance.
"The countless abusive policies of the past eight years and the extreme legal theories on which they were based have left our nation weaker and our constitutional framework in a precarious position," said Sen. Russ Feingold (D) of Wisconsin in a Dec. 10 letter to the president-elect.
"In light of this recent history, I believe that one of the most important things that you can do as president is to take concrete steps to restore the rule of law in this country," he added. "I am sure that as a constitutional scholar you can appreciate that we must ensure that the Bush administration's views of executive supremacy do not become so ingrained in our system of government that they become the 'new normal'."
Do NOT look for him to do so once he assumes those powers...And probably the maon reason to do so is the fact that, if he relinquished them and then later discovered he NEEDED them, he wouldn't EVER get them back from an oppositional Congress. Dims he might get, but the Pukes would steadfastly resist the act, even though they staunchly supported it when there was a reliable fascist in power. Dims even helped Bush arrogate those powers. Pukes would NEVER agree to give them back to a DIM, even in extremis.
So, no, imho, Mr. O will likely NOT turn away from the tools necessary to maintain the Imperial presidency.
Friday, January 2, 2009
Scott Horton is about as elegant, parsimonious and precise a phrase-maker as currently graces the blogosphere. Here he is on Texas: Justice DeLayed...:
In theory, our legal system affords equal access to justice. But, as George Orwell offers in Animal Farm, some of us are more equal than others, and Tom DeLay is, in Texas politics, the most equal of all. Texas courts, which are notoriously political, are packed with Republicans who owe their careers to Tom DeLay, directly or indirectly. That makes the justice dealt out in the DeLay case justice without equal.Horton concludes with a broad-brush swipe or two at the whole oxymoronic notion of "Texas Justice," well-deserved, imho, including a swipe at the legend of Judge Roy Bean!
DeLay is now facing trial in Austin on charges of money-laundering. But his case has been bottled up by an appeals court dominated by Republicans. Ronnie Earle, a legendary prosecutor who has taken down far more Democrats than Republicans in his day, had hoped to end his career with this trial–but DeLay’s fellow Republicans insured that this would not happen. They waited patiently for Earle to retire and then handed down a preliminary ruling. The Republican judges find no reason why one of their colleagues who, before coming on the bench, said the DeLay prosecution was “politically motivated” could not then rule on the case. That reflects a novel understanding of the canons of judicial ethics, which–at least in places other than Texas–require that a judge handle his matters impartially. When a judge expresses an opinion on the merits of a case before it comes to him, that is prejudgment. It disqualifies him from participating in the case. Why this extraordinary departure from settled rules of judicial ethics? It appears that with one Republican recused, the court would have a tie vote, and DeLay would be denied the deus ex machina he is waiting for: a court ruling that the prosecution’s case is fatally defective.
As the Houston Chronicle reports today, the Republican majority on the court even blocked the two Democratic justices from filing dissenting opinions.
But the critical thing is: Tom Delay walks the happy walk. A similar fate, we can surmise, will forgive all the Crawford mafiosi, since no one on Mr.O's lawnorder team impresses me as possessing the temerity to reverse a precedent that would so predictably return to bite one in the ass, upon one's timely or inauspicious departure from the Office oneself...Wouldn't, as a former Occupant once remarked whose own tenure was not unmarked with malfeasance, be prudent...
Thursday, January 1, 2009
1. What do you call a young peckerwood girl caught having intercourse with her father?
a. A victim b. A slut c. Mom d. Sis e. "Ewe trahn t'nsult may?"
2. Count to eleven using both hands.
3. Show evidence of more than two grandparents.
4. Describe your most recent blood-clotting experience.
5. How long does it take for hare-lip surgery to heal?
a. 6 months b. 1 year c. 18 months d. you never get over it
6. Have you ever:
- a. Tortured an animal to death
- b. Physically abused a woman or a child
- c. Playground bullying/toadying
- d. Assaulted 'non-whites'
- e. Committed sexual harassment/rape
- f. Committed gay bashing/beating
- g. Knowingly or unknowlingly screwed your sister (half credit for any other relative; half point for step-siblings; double for mom--triple if you scored the same day as dad)
(Give yourself 7 points for each of the following that you did; 5 points for each you witnessed; 3 for each you dreamed of or desired to do but couldn't find enough friends to hide among. You may count multiple occurrences separately and individually:)7. True or false: Covington is the name of of both a black and a white family in that part of Louisiana across Lake Pontchartrain from NO, and both families sometimes have these cafe-au-lait-kids...
SA Kweschun: (10 points)
8. Assuming, arguendo, there are any reasons to be proud of simply being 'white,'describe all the things you, and your whole family, back through the course of time, have done to justify the pride you take in "being white." Answer in short coherent sentences. For half-credit, you may simply list the accomplishments of the 'white race' to which you or anyone related to you have made a significant contribution, noting the contribution.