Sunday, May 31, 2009

Talk About Your Basic Chilling Effect? Kill Somebody

Dr. George Tiller, the Wichita (KS) physician who operated an abortion clinic there, was shot to death while participating in services in his (Lutheran) church this morning. Will this be reported as "domestic terrorism?"

Via KansasDotCom
George Tiller, the Wichita doctor who became a national lightning rod in the debate over abortion, was shot to death this morning as he walked into church services.

Tiller, 67, was shot just after 10 a.m. at Reformation Lutheran Church at 7601 E. 13th, where he was a member of the congregation. Witnesses and a police source confirmed Tiller was the victim.

No information has been released about whether a suspect is in custody.

Homicide detectives and Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston have arrived at the church.

Members of the congregation who were inside the sanctuary at the time of the shooting were being kept inside the church by police, and those arriving were being ushered into the parking lot. Witnesses are being transported downtown for interviews and other members of the congregation are slowly being released from inside the sanctuary.

Tiller has long been a focal point of protest by abortion opponents because his clinic, Women's Health Care Services at 5701 E. Kellogg, is one of the few in the country where late-term abortions are performed.

Protesters blockaded Tiller's clinic during Operation Rescue's "Summer of Mercy" protests during the summer of 1991, and Tiller was shot by Rachelle Shannon at his clinic in 1993.

Tiller was wounded in both arms, and Shannon remains in prison for the shooting.

Tiller's clinic was severely vandalized earlier this month. According to the Associated Press, his lawyer said wires to security cameras and outdoor lights were cut and that the vandals also cut through the roof and plugged the buildings' downspouts. Rain poured through the roof and caused thousands of dollars of damage in the clinic. Tiller reportedly asked the FBI to investigate the incident.

Sgt. Bart Brunscheen of the Wichita Police Department said there has been no activitiy today at Tiller's clinic, although security crews were being brought in to make sure the building was secure. Officials also were going to check the clinic's security cameras to see if there was any activity over night.

Tiller and his clinic have faced continuous threats and lawsuits. A Wichita jury ruled in March that he was not guilty of illegal abortion on 19 criminal charges he faced for allegedly violating a state law requiring an "independent" second physician's concurring opinion before performing later term abortions. Immediately following the ruling in this criminal case, the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts made public a similar complaint against Tiller that was originally filed in December 2008. Tiller's medical license could eventually be suspended or revoked by the board on the basis of the complaint.
Um. the police do not report that a suspect is in custody? My only hope, in that case, is that the suspect is dead, because if the killing goes to trial, I do not trust the good people of Wichita (KS) (home of "Rev. Fred Phelps, the anti-gay, homophobic crusader who attends funeral services of soldiers killed in Iraq to claim their deaths are divine retribution for USer "tolerance" of homosexuality) to convict the "baby-killer's" killer.
===========================================================
UPDATE:It was just another "bad apple," a "lone gunman," an "isolated individual." Ain't it ALWAYS?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Cosmogeny

The anthropologist Clifford Geertz tells the story (though it is probably apocryphal) of interviewing a Mahout in Bali about the local cosmogeny. He asked the mahout how was the earth suspended in the heavens.

The mahout, an elephant trainer, said the world rested on the back of an enormous elephant.

Geertz then asked "well, where does the elephant stand?" And the mahout explained, patiently, that the Elephant stood on the back of the mother of all water Buffaloes.

When Geertz, then asked where the Buffalo stood, it was on the back of the biggest Crocodile in the universe.

"And where," Geertz persisted, "does the Crocodile stand?"

The mahout countered that everyone knew the Crocodile stood on the back of the the biggest Turtle you ever knew, and anticipating the anthropologist's next question, he continued "After that, sahib, it's Turtles all the way down."

NYPD SOP: When Two Negroes Are Running, Shoot The Negro With The Gun First

Well, in truth, it's SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) just about everywhere.
Via Raw Story:
Off-duty officer Omar J. Edwards of the New York Police Department was shot and killed by officer Andrew Dunton Thursday night in Harlem what authorities are calling an accident.

Commissioner Ray Kelly said Dunton apparently mistook Edwards for a criminal. Edwards was black and Dunton is white.

Dunton, 30, a four-and-a-half-year veteran of the force, saw off-duty Edwards, a “rookie” with about two years experience, chasing a man who had broken into his car. He and two other officers in an unmarked vehicle followed the men.

Edwards had his gun drawn as he was chasing the burglar, according to reports.

At some point during the pursuit, Dunton fired six rounds. Edwards was struck in the back, arm and hip and died later. It was unclear whether Dunton declared that he is a police officer.

Rev. Al Sharpton said he and civil rights leaders “are completely concerned of a growing pattern of black officers being killed with the assumption that they are the criminals.”

The Washington Posted noted that “in recent years there have been several cases of off-duty policemen in the New York City area being shot and killed by other officers.”

“While we don’t know all the details of what happened tonight, this is a tragedy,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg at a press conference. “Rest assured that we will find out exactly what happened here, and we will learn from it so it doesn’t happen again.”
There's a news-vid with all the official excuses on the RS site.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Zionist Attack On UCSB Prof Claims Criticizing Israeli Acts In Gaza Is "Anti-Semitism"

Anyone occupying ANY kind of public position who expresses ANY criticism of the "State of Israel," or its official representatiives (i.e., the IDF) is liable to be singled out for harrassment as an anti-Semite. Nobody's safe, anymore. These ADL fuckers are thugs and bullies, period. We've known this for a long time, but in case you'd forgotten, consider the following case of Prof. William Robinson.

Mark Crispin Miller's News From Underground carried the first news I've heard of this latest Zionist-inspired propaganda attack on freedom to speak in a nation which allegedly values freedom of speech. This case is the latest example, which occurred at one of the gem-stones of the UCal system, Santa Barbara, a school with which I have a certain personal affinity. (Did you know Habermas taught there in the '70s?) Here's the outline of the case against Prof. William Robinson:
Toward the end of February 2009, Sociology and Global Studies Professor William Robinson received notice from the Academic Senate’s Charges Committee that two of his students had filed charges against him. The students alleged that course material Prof. Robinson had circulated to his class via the course listserv, criticizing Israel’s then-ongoing siege on Gaza, comprised anti-Semitism. Professor Robinson also received a letter from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to this effect. The student complaints (Complaint 1 & Complaint 2) included claims and rationales that exactly mirrored those included in the ADL letter. The course material at issue in the complaints included an editorial written by a Jewish journalist condemning Israel’s invasion of Gaza and images of the bloody consequences of the siege on Gaza juxtaposed with congruent images from Nazi concentration camps in the 1930s (a not uncommon understanding of Israel-Palestine relations, as this 2003 Haaretz article and recent ADBUSTERS piece demonstrates). Alleging that the circulation of this course material caused them to drop his class, the students in their complaints claimed the subject of the email was not relevant to the course. The course title was “Sociology of Globalization” and the course curriculum covered contemporary, global conflicts and struggles.
I, frankly, do not hold out much hope for Prof. Robinson, because he violated one of the cardinal rules of the modern academy.

No, it has nothing to do at all with speech. It has to do with enrollment. His temerity in addressing a controversial subject in ways critical of the "common wisdom" caused two students to drop his class. He endangered the whole school because those students might have then dropped out of UCSB entirely. And there would have gone all that lovely money.

It is of course not anti-Semiticism to criticize Israel. It is merely an accident of history that the latest wave of colonists in Palestine is "Jewish." It is not especially in the nature of their being "jewish" that the fault lies, or where they are open to criticism. It is what they are doing and how they are doing that is at issue. The fact of the matter is that the current colonizers of Palestine are behaving in ways typical of all other previous invaders, occupiers, conquerors and oppressors, and deserve condemnation for it. The fact that the murderous thugs, racist gunsels, and ravenous settlers are Jews is absolutely irrelevant. By any name, they'd be criminals.

For telling this and assorted other truths about Israel, Prof Robinson earned the enmity of the Zion Lobby, and now stands in professional jeopardy at the bloody hands of the thuggish bullies of the ADL. There's a whole site devoted to getting justice for the Professor, operated by the Committee to Defend Academic Freedom (CDAF), where you can read all the salient details, and sign a petition to the UCSB board of regents in Prof Robinson's behalf.

But beware! It's a public list and the ADL will hunt you down.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Orrin Hatch Has A Tiny Dick? Who Knew?


On the Washington Babylon blog at Harper's (please buy a subscription to Harper's, and the best general circulation magazine in the woild), Ken Silvestein examines evidence for that hoariest of gender cliches, the (inverse) relationship between the size of a fellow's package with the size of the vehicle required to transport it:
The 100 MPG Hummer: Suckers Wanted

Last week Raser Technologies announced a Capitol Hill event for its unlikely new product: an electric Hummer H3, which the company claims gets up to 100 miles per gallon. Even if this were true, and it sounds to me about as likely as turning lead into gold, it’s hard to see the social value of a fuel-efficient 5,000-pound Hummer whose prototype costs millions of dollars. Yet proving the maxim that there’s a sucker born every minute, news of the event sent the company’s stock up nearly 20 percent.

The following day, Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah, jumped into the driver’s seat of a red Hummer H3 and took it for a test drive. “Better watch out,” he told reporters. “Never know where I’ll be.”

This isn’t Senator Hatch’s first promo gig for Utah-based Raser Technologies. At a press conference in 2005, Hatch, having proposed a tax credit for the purchase of hybrid vehicles, said, “I have had the goal of lowering the market barriers to the mass production of the best available automotive technologies. I believe that Raser’s technology breakthrough will play an important role in achieving this goal.” And eight months ago, Hatch attended a ribbon-cutting for a geothermal power plant built by Raser in Utah.

After the Capitol Hill-generated irrational exuberance passed, Raser’s share price has settled back down to approximately its pre-test drive level.

Incidentally, Raser executives have contributed generously to Republican causes, but not to Senator Hatch. In the last election alone, they contributed $10,600, of which all but $1000 went to Mitt Romney. Which is perfect: makers of the sucker Hummer supporting the ultimate sucker candidate.
That's some purty good double-entendre-slinging, there...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What? You Expected A Brennan, A Douglas?


Via Avedon:
I am a killjoy.

I suppose I'm expected to ready myself for a fight to defend Sonia Sotomayor as a Supreme Court nominee against an onslaught of GOP hissy-fit in which she is falsely cast as some kind of a screaming (literally) liberal rather than a mostly-conservative (though not completely insane) jurist who prefers the powerful to The People but just doesn't happen to have a bug up her ass about abortion.

She is, of course, just what we don't need - another "liberal" whose credentials as such rest entirely on the fact of not being a fire-and-brimstone anti-abortion gay-hating loony.

Because that's what it takes these days - not actual liberal commitment to personal freedom, nor any resistance to the idea that rich, powerful people should run everything at the expense of the rest of us, or even a quaint affection for the idea that an honest day's work deserves an honest day's pay.

But, friends, the GOP hissy-fit is just convenient cover for the sell-out Dem leadership sliding yet another corporate conservative in with the Supremes without most people waking up to the fact that that's what they're doing. I mean, how can we complain when the Dems valiantly confirm Obama's nominee despite the fact that, as conservatives keep pointing out, she is a flaming liberal?

We should sit back and pat ourselves on the back for our valiant resistance to all that GOP hype about how she's "too" liberal. God forbid anyone should point out that she is actually to the right of more than two-thirds of Americans. (Ah, but somebody seems to like her.)

The Dems don't fight back against the fake right-wing outrage because it serves their purposes. They don't care that the right-wing are liars and they don't even mind most of the lies. They don't like being personally targeted by the right (because their friends can be bloody dangerous), but the lies actually serve their purposes.

You never hear them complain, for example, that right-wingers consistently lie about what the President's job is, because they don't particularly want anyone to do the President's actual job ('protecting the Constitution,' which could get ugly in the age of predatory capitalism. W.).

In fact, an overwhelming amount of the current public debate is about pretending that the President's real job does not exist - his real job, it is now averred, is to be "the Commander-in-Chief", and the discussion is about how he can do that job much better if he can just, y'know, ignore that Constitution thing. It must be true, because even Obama seems to agree, and I remember hearing all about how he is a Constitutional scholar throughout the campaign.

No wonder Kristol is always smiling. Oh, we've destroyed the conservative movement. The country is with us. No one likes the Republicans anymore. And yet even my favorite outraged lefty blogospheric voices are right where he wants them - defending a conservative president's choices as he destroys liberal America once and for all.
Lovely work. Mme. touches ALL my buttons: the "protect-the- country" myth, "Commander-in Chief" myth, the "too-liberal" myth, etc. I'd only disagree with one assertion: that we've "destroyed the conservative movement." That's not true. They've been driven underground, but like cockroaches (of which there seem to be an excessive number in the house this spring), they never REALLY go away.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

7 REALLY GOOD Reasons Why A "Christian" US Military Is An EXTREMELY BAD IDEA


PZMyers/Pharyngula posted this yesterday. I think it's important enough to share with BOTH my readers. He c&ps a column from the Boston Globe in which the author citing the extreme militant Xianity peddled to occupation troops in Afghanistan, lists 7 reasons why it is a bad idea that the military has become wrapped up in religious jingo.
  1. Single-minded religious zealotry bedevils critical thinking, and not just about religion. Military and political thinking suffers when the righteousness of born-again faith leads to self-righteousness. Critical thinking includes a self-criticism of which the "saved" know little.
  2. Military proselytizers use Jesus to build up "unit cohesion" by eradicating doubt about the mission, the command, and the self. But doubt - the capacity for second thought - is a military leader's best friend. Commanders, especially, need the skill of skepticism - the opposite of true belief.
  3. Otherworldly religion defining the afterlife as ultimate can undervalue the present life. Religion that looks forward to apocalypse, God's kingdom established by cosmic violence, can help ignite such violence. Armageddon, no mere metaphor now, is the nuclear arsenal.
  4. Religious fundamentalism affirms ideas apart from the context that produced them, reading the Bible literally or dogma ahistorically. Such a mindset can sponsor military fundamentalism, denying the context from which threats arise - refusing to ask, for example, what prompts so many insurgents to become willing suicides? Missing this, we keep producing more.
  5. A military that sees itself as divinely commissioned can all too readily act like God in battle - using mortal force from afar, without personal involvement. An Olympian aloofness makes America's new drone weapon the perfect slayer of civilians.
  6. A bifurcated religious imagination, dividing the world between good and evil, can misread the real character of an "enemy" population, many of whom want no part of war with us.
  7. The Middle East is the worst place in which to set loose a military force even partly informed by Christian Zionism, seeing the state of Israel as God's instrument for ushering in the Messianic Age - damning Muslims, while defending Jews for the sake of their eventual destruction.
PZ concludes, and I agree (obviously):
I read that and agreed with it all…except for one thing. Those criticisms don't just apply to the military, they also apply to our civilian population. Maybe #5 is a bit of a stretch — most of us don't have military drones at our disposal — but scale it down a bit, and picture a religious fanatic with a rifle aimed at an abortion doctor. It's the same principle.

Strip away the specific references to the US military, and that whole thing is an argument that could have come straight from the keyboard of a New Atheist criticizing American culture in general.
(P.S.: I Hope the author of the cartoon, Horsey, formerly of the Rocky Mountain News, finds a new gig soon. He was ALWAYS one of the best.)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Liz Cheney: How Does She Know What She Knows and When Did She Learn It?

Darth Cheney's septic spawn, Liz Cheney, has been out on the cabloid hustings sprinkling lye on her papa's still-damp scat,, extolling the policies of the dearly departed Bushevik regime, and casting spurious doubts profligately on Obama "national security policies": generally, what they call "talking shit."

She seems very well informed.

Even TOO well informed, given the ONLY legitimacy she has on these issues is the family name.

Yes, she was a (political, nepotistic) appointee in some PR/Propaganda branch at the State Department, or the Pentagon. So? What? Junior Special Assistant To The Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary For Internal Propaganda and Disinformation? Speaks with the kind of authority which compels the CorpoRat press to respect her opinions?

C'mon. She's talking authoritatively about stuff she has no reason to know anything about or, knowing which, she has any business talking about.

I mean, are you comfortable that the former Vice/Co-President's daughter seems to be so conversant in the intimate workings of the very state-craft of the now-gratefully-departed regime's inner workings? It makes me both nervous and curious.

This does seem really to have become Famiglia Cheney, doesn't it? And Liz's the new "consigliere." There's vid and chatter at C&L.

Comes close to confirming, once and for all, that the Executive branch--for at least the last 8 years, and probably since 1968 or so--really HAS been best understood and interpreted as a vast, global criminal enterprise.

Record-Setting Day

Woody's bloggy, bloggy enterprises took 610 hits yesterday, according to Sitemeter. This constitutes the largest number of hits on the (accumulated) sites, ever, in a single day.

The vast majority of them were hits on the post directly below this one:Testing Faith and Mercy: Fail, which is a C&P, with comments, to which which I had linked on Pharyngula and Balloon Juice, primarily.

The post was quite cryptic: "The Red State guys are dripping dicks. These fuckers are the ones you gotta worry about…"

I suppose there's a lesson in there:
You're nobody til somebody links you. You're nobody til somebody clicks...
Ah, sing it, Dean-o!!!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Testing Faith and God's Mercy: FAIL

Yesterday, Religion Clause (no, not Santa's wordier brother) had this item:
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Wisconsin Jury Convicts Mother Who Relied on Faith Healing of Homicide

The Chicago Tribune and the Wausau Daily Herald report that yesterday in Wausau, Wisconsin, a state court jury found Leilani Neumann guilty of second-degree reckless homicide in the death of her 11-year old daughter, Kara, whose diabetes went untreated. Instead the girl's parents, relatives and friends prayed for her as her health deteriorated and she finally went into a coma.

In closing arguments, the prosecutor described Neumann as a religious zealot who let her daughter die as a test of faith. Defense counsel responded that Neumann did not realize her daughter was so ill and did all she could consistent with her family's belief in faith-healing. Neumann faces a possible sentence of 25 years in prison, and her attorney says an appeal is planned based on the trial court's refusal to allow a faith-healing expert to testify at trial.

Neumann's husband, Dale, will be tried separately on similar charges in July.
The case seems relevant in view of the similar case of the 13-year-old son of religious wack-job/fanatics in Minnesota who has non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, but who refuse to permit him to have the chemotherapy that would at least extend his life past his 15th birthday.

I don't know about anybody else, but I know I sure wish there were a question of the marriage license application which asked if the prospective "parents" harbored beliefs which would endanger their children's health or prohibit their getting care in case of illness or injury.

Actually, what I really wish was that people who had to test their own faith, or "God's mercy" would use themselves as the crash-test dummies and leave their kids (and everybody else) out of it. You wanna test your faith, or your God's love, go take a fucking stroll on Lake Michigan; or if your faith is dubious, Lake Erie (which has more particulate matter).

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Dick Cheney: "The Hand Inside The Sock" Speaks

Can someone reliably inform me when was the last time that really senior members of a previous 'administration' arose so quickly and so aggressively to attack the policies of their replacements?

Nominally the Chimp's Vice-President, Cheney was in fact and function at least Co-President. He was the brains behind the outfit. He's the one who had the impenetrable bunker and the man-sized safe. Many (y'r ob'd't s'v't included) peg Cheney and the PNAC as the initiators of the Chimp's ascension to the Oval Office. Far from Bush choosing Cheney who chose Cheney, rather it was the Cheney/PNAC cabal choosing an easily manipulable "brand," and managing it into the White House. What ensued was a disaster from which I doubt the country will EVER actually emerge, in any shadow of the condition it was, when the Busheviks were installed to such conservative ecstasy in '92.

The truth of the matter is this: Obama's basically a one-termer, a distraction, a convenient dupe selected to be the scapegoat for the last 8 years of chaos and clusterfucks. He'll end up being blamed for the consequences of policies he didn't author but lacked the real power to suspend. Though he's no "liberal," he is non-white, and the plan is to--if not explicitly cause, at least not to intervene to prevent--blame his administration for all the ills set in train by Cheney's pack, and use the 'failure' to discredit the people and the agenda that, ironically, Obama does not champion, but can be "seen"--as a "non-white"--to represent.

Even recognizing that, doesn't it strike you as a BIT excessive--slightly over the top, perhaps; at LEAST a little unseemly--to have the former "power inside the sock" out in public bad-mouthing the new guys so soon? I remember #34 (Eisenhower) and since. Stephenson was always the gentleman. I don't think he ever criticize Eisenhower until after Ike was out of office. Did Ike (or even Nixon) take to the hustings to chide Kennedy? Did Humphrey attack Nixon, ever? In my memory, Carter refrained from criticizing Reagan. Mondale kept his own council until he was nominated to run against Reagan. Even after losing, GHW Chimp kept his mouth shut for a while, and Quayle was never heard from again. Gore was exceptionally generous to the Chimp, in 2001, and was silent until nearly the 2004 elections.

So this shit from Cheney is both excessive AND unprecedented, in my memory anyway.

Memo to Dick "Darth" Cheney: Shut the fuck up, you snarling old shitwhistle.

WTF Is The Difference Between Stevens and Siegelman?

And why, if the Obamanauts can rapidly dispense 'justice' to that vile, venal, vicious, old, criminal Ted Stevens, on the basis of prosecutorial malfeasance, and toss out the sentence of the former dean of "No!" on the GOP side of the Senatorial aisle, can the Obama/Holder DoJ NOT find the similar grace to reprieve Don Siegelman, the former Gorenor of Alabama, who was caught and convicted in a purely political sting operation mounted for the purpose of ousting him from office by Karl Rove and a bunch of his shit-drenched cohorts in the Alabama GOP?

Stevens was restored to "innocence" when judicial authorities discerned serious mal-practice in the Bush DoJ prosecutors' handling of the case, including withholding possibly exculpatory evidence from the defense. (I think the prosecutors torpedoed their own case at the instruction of the ShiteHouse to 'save the bacon' of an old, valued ally.) The Obama/Holder DoJ has now got the smoking gun for reversal on the basis of prosecutorial misconduct in the Siegelman case too.

At Scott Horton's "No Comment" blog at the Harper's Magazine site, Horton (arguably one of the busiest bloggers in the bidness), takes up the story. Turns out the Judge before whom Siegelman was tried--some fucking, drooling, gap-toothed criminal cracker named Fuller--bore a serious, extra-judicial animus against Siegelman, which should have precluded his sitting in judgment. But this was and is Dumbfuckistan Alabama, where they can't even SPELL "recuse." And the prosecution was the handiwork of Karl Rove and minions, so Siegelman was--and remains--fucked over, first by the busheviki, and now by the sainted Mocha Messiah. Here's "the Nutz" of Horton's piece:
Fuller, who came to preside over the criminal charges against Siegelman following a series of unusual maneuvers by federal prosecutors highlighted in Clemon’s letter to Holder. The Siegelman case came into Fuller’s court just as a series of hard-hitting accusations of judicial misconduct were filed with the Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section (“PIN”). PIN, whose leaders are now themselves the targets of a special prosecutor’s investigation, led the prosecution of the Siegelman case. In the last week, Missouri attorney Paul Benton Weeks, whose affidavit making charges against Fuller was first secured and published here, has spoken publicly about the matter for the first time and has provided considerable further detail to his accusations. Weeks stated:
I just wish I had known about Siegelman’s case before his trial so they [defendants and attorneys] could have been able to understand the kind of animus Fuller has to have for Siegelman. I guarantee that Fuller blames Siegelman for my affidavit. If you look at how Fuller treated Siegelman, he clearly hates him.

What’s remarkable is that Siegelman has never been given a real chance to show why it’s not appropriate for Fuller to be his judge. The material I produced was never available. I think it was put into a separate file to keep it hidden.
Following the court of appeals decision to strike two of the seven counts on which Siegelman was convicted, the federal prosecutor on the case has suggested that he will seek to increase Siegelman’s sentence from seven to twenty years. Siegelman’s attorneys cite this as further evidence of vindictive motive on the part of the prosecutors. The Obama Justice Department has not yet announced a replacement of the prosecutors involved, and the Bush Justice Department’s team remains in control of the case. Attorney General Holder’s office advised the Huffington Post that notwithstanding the long-standing allegations of prosecutorial misconduct, now amplified by a large group of attorneys general and the state’s former senior federal judge, the Justice Department had no investigation of the accusations underway.
No investigation underway? I repeat: What the FUCK?! Obama and Holder take care of some venal, graft-besotted Puke, but leave an (a least nominal) ally dangling in the wind. Some folks would find Obama's acrtions disappointing, but I am not one. I am never going to be disappointed in him because, frankly I never held out any hope for "change," unless it wer that species of the change exemplified by swapping dirty socks for clean ones.

Friday, May 22, 2009

"...And spread the ruins with salt!"

That was the fate of Carthage, when it fell to Rome.

Said fate I would welcome to befall "Liberty University," Jerry Falwell's Xian-Jihadist madrassa/diploma mill, the entire existence of which depends on the inability of the "home-schooled" spawn and get of the 'faithful' to qualify for, or long survive in, secular universities.

Everyday brings its assaults, but this one nearly laid me low. The only cure for this kind of lunacy is ridicule. Never again should the name be heard, or a degree from "Liberty University" be accepted, without hoots of derision and vast skepticism.

The story's been all over today. I thought about wtiting about it myself. But then I got occupied with "the Big Lie." And ReligionClause has a nice touch with these things.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Liberty University Revokes Recognition of College Democrats

The Washington Post today reports that Liberty University, the conservative Christian school located in Lynchburg, Virginia, has withdrawn recognition of Liberty University College Democrats as a student organization. The move comes as the University adopts a new policy governing student organizations. An e-mail sent to the group from the University's vice-president for student affairs says: "We are unable to lend support to a club whose parent organization stands against the moral principles held by Liberty University." (Full text of new policy and of e-mail revoking College Democrats' recognition). Maria Childress, the club's adviser, says she is trying to appeal the decision to the school's chancellor, Jerry Falwell Jr. The Lynchburg (VA) News-Advance reports on a statement Falwell made today regarding the suspension:
"That club still has the right to exist," Falwell said, although it cannot use the university’s name in its activities. "They still can meet on campus," in certain rooms, he said. "There is absolutely no animosity at all toward any of these kids. They are good, Christian kids who sit with me at ball games. I just hope they find a pro-life family organization to affiliate with so they can be endorsed by Liberty again."
Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine issued a statement on Democratic national Committee letterhead urging the University to reverse its decision.
There's a broom-closet, over by where the black maintenance men have their showers that's empty, sometimes. Falwell was quoted elsewhere claiming the "University" was not at all to be accused of quelling freedom of speech or expression. No, no, not at all. Just policing the old orthodoxy. Purity is the by-word here.

I cannot think of a better example, or illustration, of the need for "strict separation." I would automatically be skeptical of the academic credentials of anyone for anything if "Liberty University" were the granting school. I wouldn't vote to admit a prospective student whose only academic bona fides was from Liberty University to any grad school where I taught.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Was It A "Coincidence"

...Which installed a talented, but woefully inexperienced, painfully naive, creepily accomodationist, super-cautious, already co-opted, rookie Senator in the WhiteHouse in the teeth of the most ferocious array of national crises in living memory?

I don't think so. There is a point to it.

Obama, though he valiantly resists and stubbornly declines the 'honor,' is INEVITABLY the 'public avatar' for that emerging, but still terribly amorphous and uncoordinated, coalition of disparate "minority" interests which poses the only potential threat to the hegemony of the Bosses: blacks, browns, women, working folk.

Even though Obama is NOT and does NOT want to be allied with those interests, he cannot escape the appearance of sympathy for their issues which his ethnic heritage would seem to compel on him.

From Owners' point of view, the best thing that could have happened would be to have this unwilling avatar, sinecure of all eyes, and the hope of the 'movement,' in Office, and then to have him fail, spectacularly.

That's what's been set up here. Obama, while he utterly denies he's an agent for social justice and fairness among the disadvantaged people, and actively shuns programs that could improve their lot, is STILL the "FIRST NON-WHITE PRESIDENT." When (not if--they got it all figured out, with wars, economic collapse, health care struggles, and global climate change crises) Obama fails, his failures will be held to be the failures of all those who looked to him to help them empower themselves. It will be used to ensure that no one "LIKE" him ever gains traction in the electorate again.

In failing, Obama will actually secure the power of the bosses he NEVER wanted to threaten, and in effect close the door for future "minority' interests probably until LONG AFTER the "White Majority" has been at least demographically erased...

Now THAT'S a coincidence...

Yes, I do think "they" are that smart, that ruthless, and that powerful...

Posting Light & Slight Today; Bidne$$ Beckon$

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Morin Corps: "Semper Wry"

Join Up, Here...

Will "thePrez" Appointee Move The Court Right?


A fair question. In a word, "Yes." At least that's my considered opinion.

The question is a bit misleading in some ways since, given that it is a putatively 'liberal' Justice who is retiring, and given also Obama's extraordinary caution not to provoke the loons on the Right, it is not possible that he'll EVER nominate anybody to the actual "left" of Ed Meese clone Anthony Kennedy.

So the answer is probably "yes, he will move the Court to the Right, since there is no way to move it to the Left without the death (!) or retirement of one or some of the OPUS Deists (Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas, or Kennedy)...On TruthOut, prompted by speculation about the possibilities of Obama potential appointments in a NYTimes article, Jeff Cohen considers the alternatives and circumstances (originally on Common Dreams):
The centerpiece of the Times article was a fascinating study conducted by two University of Chicago law professors (one of whom is a conservative federal appeals judge) analyzing the judicial records of the 43 justices who've served on the Supreme Court since 1937. Four of the five most conservative judges of the last seven decades (Thomas, Scalia, Roberts, Alito) now sit on the Court. With Anthony Kennedy at number ten, five of the ten most rightwing judges are currently on the Court. The current majority, in other words, is almost a conservative all-star team.

By contrast, among the ten most liberal judges since 1937, the only sitting justice is Ruth Bader Ginsburg - she's number nine. Today's other three "liberal" justices (Stevens, Breyer, Souter) are in the top 15, but outside the top ten.

All in all, that's a rightwing-dominated Supreme Court.

The study gives credence to the claim of Justice John Paul Stevens (age 89) that he hasn't moved left since being appointed by President Ford in 1975, but that the Court has moved right. And it backs Stevens' assertion that "every judge who's been appointed to the Court" since 1971 "has been more conservative than his or her predecessor" - with the exception of Ginsburg (who recently underwent surgery related to pancreatic cancer).

The question facing Obama: Will he continue this trend of shifting the Court rightward?

Unfortunately, from what we've seen of Obama's general penchant for "moderate" appointees who don't inflame Republicans, it's quite possible the Court will continue trending rightward - if liberals get replaced with less liberal appointees. After Souter, the seats Obama is most likely to fill are those of the two most liberal justices: Ginsburg and Stevens.
It's right in there: Except for Ginsberg, every nominee since 1971 has been more conservative than the person they were replacing.

So the real question is not whether or not an Obama appointee to the SCROTUS will move the Court rightward; it is, rather, how much and how far Rightward will it go?

We forget to our peril that, in fact, the Warren Court was an anomaly and an accident of history. So, even though the country appears marginally to move incrementally, glacially, to the left of center in so many ways--especially having to do with tolerance--the country's institutions continue to atrophy around "conservative CORPORATE principles," such "liberals" as Ginsberg notwithstanding. As a matter of interest, though, the last person actually rejected by the Senate was certifiable wingnut-libertrarian crackpot Robert Bork, so there's that...whatever "that" is.

Render


therefore unto Ceasar the things that are Ceasar's...

Unless you're a church with actual, non-clerical, employees.

Then feel free to stiff the good people when hard times come. Via ReligionClause:
Laid-Off Church and Synagogue Employees Find No Unemployment Benefits

UPI today, in a report from Richmond, Virginia, says that many people recently laid off their jobs by churches and synagogues are surprised to find that they are not entitled to state unemployment benefits. Under Virginia law, churches are exempt from paying unemployment taxes. (Va. Code § 60.2-213(B)) The Catholic Diocese of Richmond has a voluntary self-insurance arrangement with the state under Va. Code § 60.2-501. Laid-off workers file for unemployment, and if the claim is approved, the state bills the Diocese for the actual amount of benefits paid out to the former employee.
Churches not being required to abide by employment or unemployment mandates of the State seems to me a serious misuse of the separation clause which does not forbid churches from acting in the public sphere.

Of course, what with their laying up 'savings' in Heaven, the clerical helpers don't really need physical 'unemployment' benefits, I guess.

Sky-rockets In Flight, Phosphorus That's White...



In the photos above, you see a vivid comparison of the ordinance available to the combatants in the IDF/Hamas conflict around Gaza [IDF (left), and Hamas (right)]. A United Nations team is seeking access to Gaza to investigate claims of war crimes made about the weeks-long IDF incursion/onslaught against Gaza last year that killed hundreds, even thousands, of Gazans (while Obama sat on his immaculately clean, manicured hands). Israel has said it will sit this one out,of course, claiming "bias." Truthdig presents the story:
The U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) may be forced to enter the Palestinian Territories from Egypt after Israel will likely refuse cooperation in the U.N.‘s mission to investigate potential war crimes by the Israeli military and Hamas. Citing bias, many believe Israel has been singled out unfairly—even after its proven use of white phosphorus chemical warfare and indiscriminate bombing of civilian locations (even a U.N. school).

The BBC:

A UN inquiry into possible war crimes in Gaza will go ahead even if Israel does not co-operate, says Richard Goldstone, who leads the inquiry team.

Mr Goldstone said he was “disappointed” Israel had given no positive response, and said his team would enter Gaza via Egypt if Israel refused them visas.

The UN wants to investigate whether Israel and Hamas committed war crimes during the January conflict in Gaza.

Israel accuses the UN branch carrying out the mission of bias against it.


Read More
White phosphorus shells, shown above (left) being prepared by the Israeli military at the Israel-Gaza border, are illegal in warfare. Several hundred such shells--as many as a thousand, by some counts--were fired into Gaza last year by the IDF. Qassam rockets, shown above (right) being readied inside Gaza, are not. Several dozen of these have been fired into Israel in the past 5 years.

Speaking only for me, of course, I believe that since indiscriminately lobbing explosive white phosphorous into civilian buildings, onto civilian populations, by military forces is forbidden by international treaty obligations, doing so constitutes war crimes. But what do I know?

As a veteran, and having seen both at work, I do know that, if I had to be bombarded, I'd prefer HE to WP.

But that's probably just me...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Robert Reich: "Yo, Dims! Don't Give Away The Fucking Store!"



Over at the TalkingPointsMemo (TPM) blog, former Clinton Treasury Secretary and pretty bright, dispassionate fellow, Robert Reich observes the health-care confrontation between Obama & the Dims and Big Insurance/Big Hospital/Big Pharma and concludes the Dims are caving in with astonishing and depressing alacrity in the face of so-far very mild opposition to a public component in the legislation set to reform USer health care funding and coverage.
"Don't make the perfect the enemy of the better" is a favorite slogan in Washington because compromise is necessary to get anything done. But the way things are going with health care, a better admonition would be: "Don't give away the store."

Many experts have long agreed that a so-called "single-payer" plan is the ideal, because competition among private insurers who pay health-care bills inevitably causes them to spend big bucks trying to find and market policies to healthy and younger people at relatively low risk of health problems while avoiding sicker and older people with higher risks (and rejecting those with pre-existing conditions altogether), and also contesting and litigating many claims. A single payer saves all this money and focuses on caring for sick people and preventing the healthy from becoming sick. The other advantage of a single payer is it can use its vast bargaining power to negotiate lower prices from pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and suppliers. (Emphasis supplied; write this with a stylus in your flesh until there is a scar so you can refer to it at need. W.)

Not surprisingly, insurance and drug companies have been dead-set against a single payer for years. And they've so frightened the public into thinking that "single payer" means loss of choice of doctor (that's wrong -- many single payer plans in other nations allow choices of medical deliverers) that politicians no longer even mention it.

On the campaign trail, Barack Obama pushed a compromise -- a universal health plan that would include a "public insurance option" resembling Medicare, which individual members of the public and their families could choose if they wished. This Medicare-like option would at least be able to negotiate low rates and impose some discipline on private insurers.

But now the Medicare-like option is being taken off the table. Insurance and drug companies have thrown their weight around the Senate. And, sadly, the White House -- desparate to have even one small flawed worthless but publicizeasble victory before 2010 eager to get a bill enacted in 2009 rather than risk it during the mid-term election year of 2010--is signaling it's open to other approaches. What other approaches? One would create a public insurance plan run by multiple regional third-party administrators. In other words, the putative "public plan" would be broken into little pieces, none of which could exert much bargaining leverage on Big Pharma and Big Insurance. These pieces would also be so decentralized that the drug companies and private insurers could easily bully (or bribe) regional third-party administrators.

Another approach now being considered in the Senate would have states create their own insurance plans. That's even worse: Big Pharma and Big Insurance are used to buying off state legislators and officials. They'd just continue their current practices.

A third option is to create a public plan that pays for itself and, according to the office of Senator Charles Schumer, who came up with it, "adheres to private-insurance rules." But adhering to private insurance rules is exactly what the public plan is not supposed to do. How can it possibly discipline private insurers and get good deals from drug companies and medical providers if it adheres to the same rules that private insurers have wangled?

It's still possible that the House could come up with a real Medicare-like public option and that Senate Dems could pass it under a reconciliation bill needing just 51 votes. But it won't happen without a great deal of pressure from the White House and the public. Big Pharma, Big Insurance, and the rest of Big Med are pushing hard in the opposite direction. And Democrats are now giving away the store. As things are now going, we'll end up with a universal health-care bill this year that politicians, including our President, will claim as a big step forward when it's really a step sideways.
I like Reich, but he is of necessity and habit, one of the official polly-ana class. He can't be really honest/pessimistic. He cannot say it is utterly impossible that the Congress could get to Obama a "real, mmedicare-like option; he must say--even if he doesn't believe-- it is still possible. He cannot say that Obama will do the thing that gets him the best press without unduly disturbing his CorpoRat benefactoprs, no matter what the consequences to USer health-care, in the long run, will be. He cannot say that the effort is entirely cosmetic.

But that is the truth of the matter.

Why Are Bushevik US Attys STILL Prosecuting Politcal Crimes?


It's now approaching 4 months since Obama took over, and there are still dozens of Bushevik appointees in the DoJ US Attorney positions. Why hasn't Eric Holder cleansed the rest of the Bushevik filth out of the US Attorneys division? Why do egregiously political Bushevik appointees still prosecute the bushevik agenda in the Obama DoJ?

Remember, any holdover USAttys have had at one time to withstand the kind of partisan scrutiny that cost 10 of their peers their jobs in the run-up to the 2004 'election.' The ones fired--including David Iglesias, here in NM--were blamed by Karl Rove for not having been sufficiently partisan in their political prosecutions, had not helped local GOPukes ENOUGH in establishing the "permanent Republican majority." Rove told Beto Gonzales to sack'em and sack 'em Gonzo did. Leaving the ones still in place to do the mischief assigned to them by political operatives

Several have actually sworn to obstruct their eventual removal. One of the most egregious cases is the one involving former Alabama governor Don Siegelman. Siegelman was removed from office, and railroaded into prison on trumped-up charges by pals of Karl Rove in a blatant (successful) power grab to steal the Alabama Statehouse for the GOP. Mark Crispin Miller has been a frequent commentator on the matter and he has another piece up, with links, today.
As noted earlier, the federal prosecutors–Eric Holder’s prosecutors–now want to shove Don Siegelman back into a prison cell not merely for the seven years that they wanted for him–an inordinate sentence to begin with–but for twenty (20).

Meanwhile, there is now a wealth of evidence that nails Mark Fuller, the Alabama judge who has tormented Don for years, as outright criminal himself. In his case, the evidence is both copious and solid. He ought to be impeached, then tried in federal court, and sent to prison.

Below is Velvet Revolution’s call for Obama/Holder to get rid of those ferocious prosecutors, and to probe the dirty doings of Judge Fuller. Below that is Roger Shuler’s detailed piece about the judge’s filthy past.

MCM

I. Vindictive Prosecutors Want Siegelman To Die In Prison:
VR Calls For The Removal Of Siegelman Prosecutors And Investigation Of His Judge

We have been very vocal in trying to bring justice to ex-Alabama Governor Don Siegelman who was targeted for political prosecution by Karl Rove and his cronies for being a popular Democrat. See our Restore Justice Campaign. A few months ago, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals threw out several of his convictions and ordered that he be resentenced from his original seven year sentence.

Well, incredibly, the same vindictive prosecutors who railroaded Siegelman in the first place have now asked that his sentence be increased to 20 years, which amounts to a death sentence for the 63 year old Democrat. And now, new evidence has been reported in the past few days pointing to even more disturbing information about the corrupt federal judge who sentenced Siegelman. According to this report, Judge Fuller had a personal grudge against Siegelman that bordered on hatred.

Enough is enough. President Obama, you promised to clean up the DOJ. VR calls on you to act now. You must remove all the bad Bush United States Attorneys like Laura Canary, who is Rove’s best friend in Alabama. You must also order a major investigation into the workings and history of Judge Fuller who has been surrounded by allegations of corruption and criminal activity going back decades. If Judge Fuller is dirty, he needs to be removed from the bench and prosecuted. If he is clean, then an independent prosecutor, after conducting a comprehensive investigation, should say so. Confidence in the judiciary is the foundation of our democracy, and clearly Judge Fuller lacks that confidence.
Read the rest at News From The Underground. It is worth recalling here, too, that Siegelman was convicted and imprisoned for "crimes" as Governor of Alabama that were identical with actions performed in Texas by both Gov. Goodhair AND Gov. Chimp during their tenures.

I asked at the top of this piece "Why do egregiously political Bushevik appointees still prosecute the bushevik agenda in the Obama DoJ?" There seems to me to be no other answer than that that's how Obama and Holder want it. Why do you suppose that is?

Serious question...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Reb-Bibi Vs. St. Barry: The Fate Of The World In Balance


Israeli prime minister Bibi Netanyahu met today with USer president Barack Obama, and it is fair to say that the foreseeable future hung in the balance. Obama continued to urge Netanyahu to suspend settlement building in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Bibi said "Yeah, sure. You bet. Uhuh." And there's where it stands, tonight.

Not very encouraging, world peace-wise.

Obama is just the latest Murkin Prez to ignore or miss or misunderestimate Israeli "real-Politik."

In a way analogous way Upton Sinclair's cynical "It is hard to get a man to see what his job depends on him ignoring," neither Obama nor any other US leader "can" recognize that Israel has territorial ambitions, between the Jordan and the sea. Netanyahu advisor and former Israeli Cabinet member Dori Gold told NPR this morning that the settlements must continue to provide "a future" for some "300,000 settlers." That is as clear a statement of territorial "manifest destiny' as you'd ever want to hear, outside the 19th Century.

Netanyahu cannot endorse, pursue, or even acknowledge a two-state solution. Any settlement would NECESSARILY entail the redistribution of vital resources the vast majority of which--mainly water--have been stolen from land they Israeli internal policies have forced Palestinians to leave. Israeli hegemony within the borders of the dual-occupation region since 1967 has more than tripled.

Let me hasten to say this is not a 'religious' issue. The habits which different populations deploy to placate their imaginary deities are an incidental, or accidental factor in the political dynamic of the region. It is in fact immaterial that this situation pits "Jews" against their 'semitic' cousins who shifted their allegiance to Allah. That's just an excuse.

Palestine at this moment is nothing less than a political petry dish for "post-modern" colonialism. Edward Said was probably the first guy to formalize this analysis. His narrative was his narrative--it built on the bones of those facts. What has happen in Palestine is what happened when the marginally more technologically sophisticated--and better protected--colonizing force imposing itself on less sophisticated indigenes.

Anyway, the blogs have been active on these matters. I pulled the following cites/sites off Informtion Clearinghouse:
Obama Must Cow Netanyahu

Obama-Netanyahu must not be Kennedy-Khrushchev

By Juan Cole

If Netanyahu comes away thinking he can thumb his nose at Washington, the whole Middle East could be in flames by the end of Obama's first term. Continue

One State the Alternative to Two-State Solution
By Hani Hazaimeh with agency dispatches

"If Israel continues not to accept solving the Palestinian issue on the basis of a two-state solution, then the other option before us is one democratic state in which Muslims, Christians and Jews live side by side enjoying the same rights," Arab League Secretary General Amr Musa said on Sunday. Continue
Below the fold:
>Netanyahu to tell Obama: Time 'running out' on Iran: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will use his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday to stress that "time is running out" for stopping Iran's nuclear program, so Obama must not spend more than a few months on his planned dialogue with Tehran unless real progress is achieved.

Obama: Iran existential threat to Israel: With respect to concerns Israel might carry out an air strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, the US president said that since Israel is "right there in the range" of Iranian missiles, "their calculation of costs and benefits are going to be more acute."

Israel begins new illegal settlement, despite U.S. opposition: Israel has moved ahead with a plan to build a new illegal settlement in the northern West Bank for the first time in 26 years, pursuing a project the United States has already condemned as an obstacle to peace efforts.

ICC to hear Israeli war crime case: A Human Rights group has filed a lawsuit against Israeli leaders at the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the war crimes they have committed in the Gaza Strip

Hamas rejects Gaza-only joint security force: Hamas movement on Monday rejected the idea of forming a joint Palestinian security force in the Gaza Strip that would not also operate in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Et cetera...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

"The Bible, According To Zach: Part 1

There are 16 more parts.

Zach is a pretty talented guy, putting me in mind of one of the true geniuses of the web, Ze-Frank, whose ouvre is still relevant:

Saturday, May 16, 2009

One Week In Constitutional Scholarship


From Greenwald today, a brief survey of "thePrez'" week in restoring the Constitution at the crucial intersection of 'national security' and 'civil rights.' Remember, we were told to vote for him because he'd restore the balance? Or something. I'm sure I remember something about...justice...right?
Monday - Obama administration's letter to Britian threatening to cut off intelligence-sharing if British courts reveal the details of how we tortured British resident Binyam Mohamed;

Tuesday - Promoted to military commander in Afghanistan Gen. Stanley McChyrstal, who was deeply involved in some of the worst abuses of the Bush era;

Wednesday - Announced he was reversing himself and would try to conceal photographic evidence showing widespread detainee abuse -- despite the rulings from two separate courts (four federal judges unanimously) that the law compels their disclosure;

Friday - Unveiled his plan to preserve a modified system of military commissions for trying Guantanamo detainees, rather than using our extant-judicial processes for doing so.
It's not the fault of civil libertarians that Obama did all of those things, just in this week alone. These are the very policies -- along with things like the claimed power to abduct and imprison people indefinitely with no charges of any kind and the use of the "state secrets privilege" to deny torture and spying victims a day in court -- that caused such extreme anger and criticisms toward the Bush presidency.
Addendum: This one graf from the Times piece is descriptive:
President Obama’s decisions this week to retain important elements of the Bush-era system for trying terrorism suspects and to block the release of pictures showing abuse of American-held prisoners abroad are the most graphic examples yet of how he has backtracked, in substantial if often nuanced ways, from the approach to national security that he preached as a candidate, and even from his first days in the Oval Office.
It's hard to tell, from this, if the Times' writer thinks this is on the whole a good or a bad thing. Such a position, however, whatever its de/merits, has won praise in some moments from even rabidly militaristic departed members of the former regime, even while garnering less than ringing support from the anti-imperialist wing of the Dim/Lib/Prog's ethereal "alliances."

I'm getting weary of the by-now-inevitable shit-encrusted thumb stuck in the eye of the Left base of the Dims and the liberal independents, on the very issues which "thePrez" used to solidify that support. I am very damned tired, too, of the Polly-Obama's who can only celebrate "subtlety," where "capitulation" far better captures the dynamic.

Palestine: Down the "Tubes"

Notice anything in the ad?

Compare:


Contrast:


Questions?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Tortured Connections

I long ago concluded, as have many others, that the primary reason USer agents applied torture to detainee captives in Iraq and Afghanistan was to extract confessions of alQaeda connections to Saddam Hussein, and thereby retroactively supply the evidence justifying the invasion, conquest, and occupation of Iraq.

This conclusion rested upon an understanding of the historical uses of torture: primarily to extract from 'heretics' confessions of their apostasy/heterodoxy (though this purpose was closely followed by punishment: the need of the monarchy to make lese majeste as unpleasant a crime as possible.) No information 'discovered' under torture is particularly reliable, of course. But confessions are at least plausible, while acomplishing the aims of the torturers. Torture is an instrument of power, and is used to enforce, preserve, and expand power, and for no other reasons.

So Joe Conason's piece on Salon mtoday, connecting the dots on "harsh interrogations" came as no particular surprise. It reveals details, however, of the extent to which the Bush/Cheney axis was willing and able to compromise principle, law, public institutions, and the Constitution--a pretty close approximation of what a "bloodless coup d'etat" looks like--to achieve their ends:
May 14, 2009 | The single most pertinent question that Dick Cheney is never asked -- at least not by the admiring interviewers he has encountered so far -- is whether he, Donald Rumsfeld and George W. Bush used torture to justify the illegal invasion of Iraq. As he tours television studios, radio stations and conservative think tanks, the former vice-president hopes to persuade America that only waterboarding kept us safe for seven years.

Yet evidence is mounting that under Cheney’s direction, "enhanced interrogation" was not used exclusively to prevent imminent acts of terror or collect actionable intelligence -- the aims that he constantly emphasizes -- but to invent evidence that would link al-Qaida with Saddam Hussein and connect the late Iraqi dictator to the 9/11 attacks.

In one report after another, from journalists, former administration officials and Senate investigators, the same theme continues to emerge: Whenever a prisoner believed to possess any knowledge of al-Qaida’s operations or Iraqi intelligence came into American custody, CIA interrogators felt intense pressure from the Bush White House to produce evidence of an Iraq-Qaida relationship (which contradicted everything that U.S. intelligence and other experts knew about the enmity between Saddam’s Baath Party and Osama bin Laden’s jihadists). Indeed, the futile quest for proof of that connection is the common thread running through the gruesome stories of torture from the Guant├ínamo detainee camp to Egyptian prisons to the CIA's black sites in Thailand and elsewhere.

Perhaps the sharpest rebuke to Cheney's assertions has come from Lawrence Wilkerson, the retired Army colonel and former senior State Department aide to Colin Powell, who says bluntly that when the administration first authorized "harsh interrogation" during the spring of 2002, "its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qaida."
Doesn't get any plainer than that. The alQaeda connection, when all else--WMD/nukes/freedom--failed, was the last hope of Cheney's government for creating a sustainable propaganda around the immoral, illegal, unjust, and ultimately criminal assault by the US on Iraq.

Years ago, when Bill Clinton left office, among the Busheviks' first acts was to replace the carpet in the Oval Office. It was on that carpet, the buzz went, that Clinton had spilled his dna in his dalliances with Monica Lewinsky, and the Busheviks were at pains "not to get any on 'em. If Clinton may have left a bit of spermatic residue in the threads of the Oval Office carpet (under the desk, allegedly), the Cheney/Bush presidency had so soaked the replacement in the blood, and pain, and feces of innocents that perhaps nothing less than flames can cleanse.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bombing, For the Record


From The Navy Times, via Lenin's Tomb:
Record bombs dropped on Afghanistan

Air Force, Navy and other coalition warplanes dropped a record number of bombs in Afghanistan during April, Air Forces Central figures show.

In the past month, warplanes released 438 bombs, the most ever.

April also marked the fourth consecutive month that the number of bombs dropped rose, after a decline starting last July.

The munitions were released during 2,110 close-air support sorties.

The actual number of air-strikes was higher because the AFCent numbers don’t include attacks by helicopters and special operations gunships. The numbers also don’t include strafing runs or launches of small missiles.

Over Iraq, 26 bombs were released during 767 strike sorties.

Transport crews airdropped 1.8 million pounds of supplies, mostly in Afghanistan, and tankers off loaded 85 million pounds of fuel.

Reconnaissance aircraft flew 1,402 missions over Iraq and Afghanistan. [Italics supplied].

What About Merit Badges? Torture? Interrogation? Crop Destruction?

Photo credit: Todd Krainin / New York Times

Any former Boy Scouts out there? I never got past 2nd Class...But this kinda shit coulda mebbe kept me in the Corps...

(Confession: I got kicked out after being caught jerking off in my tent when I was supposed to be at the archery range in scout camp.)

From the NY Times, via RawStory: It's not your daddy's Boy Scouts anymore:
The United States of America has changed. Naturally, the Boy Scouts of America must change with it. But arming them with airsoft guns and conducting simulations to teach how to fight terrorism, chase down illegal immigrants and raid marijuana fields?

Whatever happened to a campfire and hot dog roast?

The New York Times hits the mother load (Could we call it the "shit-load? W.):
The Explorers program, a coeducational affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America that began 60 years ago, is training thousands of young people in skills used to confront terrorism, illegal immigration and escalating border violence — an intense ratcheting up of one of the group’s longtime missions to prepare youths for more traditional jobs as police officers and firefighters.

[...]

The training, which leaders say is not intended to be applied outside the simulated Explorer setting, can involve chasing down illegal border crossers as well as more dangerous situations that include facing down terrorists and taking out “active shooters,” like those who bring gunfire and death to college campuses. In a simulation here of a raid on a marijuana field, several Explorers were instructed on how to quiet an obstreperous lookout.

“Put him on his face and put a knee in his back,” a Border Patrol agent explained. “I guarantee that he’ll shut up.”
The Explorers group, based out of Irving, Texas, has not suffered much controversy over its law enforcement training for scouts.

However, in at least a dozen instances over the last 10 years, law enforcement officials in the Explorer program have been charged with sexually assaulting scouts, the paper added.
Just a minor (nudge-nudge) draw-back...

They--Obama, the Dims & the Pukes, the CorpoRats and the HIP


(HIP = Health Insurance Parasites)-- are fixin' to fuck "us" all.

Standing, running, lying down: they're gonna fuck us good...

They've already begun, and none of the "People's" (alleged) representatives has said shit that I can see.

How?

Can you say Social Security?

Like it took Nixon, the uber-Puke, to go to China, it needs a Dim to bring down SS, and now they've got a willing/cooperative/sympathetic (sell-out) Dim in "the Prez," the saintly, holy, hopey-changey Mocha Messiah.

The Social Security/Medicare trust funds represent the last huge pool of capital that is NOT already wholly and totally dedicated to the prosperity of the country's Elites. They're not getting ANYTHING from it, and it drives 'em batshit. Out of sheer spite, that megalomaniac, millionaire fucknozzle Milton Friedman collected his SS checks and refused to cash 'em...

They cannot STAND it that there's all that money floating around outside their portfolios.

So they're gonna get it...

And Obama's gonna get it for 'em...

Gay-Ron-fucking-TEED, babies: Meet "Entitlement Reform"

That was/is the purpose of this recession/depression: to break down completely any safety net that might have survived the last 30 fucking years of abuse.

Depressions are useful to the Elites: they provide the legal cover for them to recover from the proles all the goods and other forms of wealth that have escaped them, so that it can be recycled and resold when there is a turn-around.

Worked every time so far, so there's no particular doubt that it'll work now, too...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Michael Moore Is (Still) Fat


Yesterday "thePrez" reversed his stance on releasing more fotos and vids of USer troopers valiantly torturing and abusing the stinking rag-haids who hate us for our freedoms. Ken Silverstein, Harper's Magazine DC bureau chief and blogger at Washington Babylon, records some interesting parallels...
The More Things Change…

Via michaelmoore.com:
Obama ‘09: In a reversal, President Barack Obama objected on Wednesday to the release of dozens of photographs showing the abuse of terrorism suspects, fearing the pictures could trigger a backlash against U.S. troops…”The president strongly believes that the release of these photos, particularly at this time, would only serve the purpose of inflaming the theaters of war, jeopardizing U.S. forces, and making our job more difficult in places like Iraq and Afghanistan,” [an] official, who declined to be identified, said.

Bush ‘06: Publicizing more images depicting alleged abuse of detainees at Iraqi’s Abu Ghraib prison could bring harm to U.S. service-members, a senior Defense Department official said here today. The release of more Abu Ghraib images “could only further inflame and possibly incite unnecessary violence in the world and would endanger our military men and women that are serving in places around the world,” DoD spokesman Bryan Whitman told Pentagon reporters.
Presidents seem incapable of escaping the rhetorics of their predecessors. But of course, the photos themselves are not the problem. What is important are the acts that the fotos display. Calling the fotos the problem, as many on the Rightard fringes--but also many (a distressing number, officially and in the blogs) Obamanistas--claim is akin to claiming that smokers are further harmed by images of cancerous lungs displayed in anti-smoking ads...

Moral Equivalency: Bombs = Barbarism

(Below, Afghan civilians collecting the earthly remains of some of their fellows.)


I cannot imagine how the following commentary by the redoubtable Chris Hedges, at Bob Scheer's TruthDig, escaped the attention of the SoCalledUnbiasedMedia (SCUM), but it did.
By Chris Hedges

The bodies of dozens, perhaps well over a hundred, women, children and men, their corpses blown into bits of human flesh by iron fragmentation bombs dropped by U.S. warplanes in a village in the western province of Farah, illustrates the futility of the Afghan war. We are not delivering democracy or liberation or development. We are delivering massive, sophisticated forms of industrial slaughter. And because we have employed the blunt and horrible instrument of war in a land we know little about and are incapable of reading, we embody the barbarism we claim to be seeking to defeat.

We are morally no different from the psychopaths within the Taliban, who Afghans remember we empowered, funded and armed during the 10-year war with the Soviet Union. Acid thrown into a girl’s face or beheadings? Death delivered from the air or fields of shiny cluster bombs? This is the language of war. It is what we speak. It is what those we fight speak.
Theirs is a more personal sort of barbarity, ours a more detached sort, but there is barbarity enough to go around, certainly. There is a cautionary note to conclude:
The U.S. fuels the bonfires of war. The more troops we send to Afghanistan, the more drones we send on bombing runs over Pakistan, the more air-strikes we carry out, the worse the unraveling will become. We have killed twice as many civilians as the Taliban this year and that number is sure to rise in the coming months...“If the Americans step up the war in Afghanistan, they will be sucked into Pakistan,” Dr. Fournot warned. “Pakistan is a time bomb waiting to explode. You have a huge population, 170 million people. There is nuclear power. Pakistan is much more dangerous than Afghanistan. War always has its own logic. Once you set foot in war, you do not control it. It sucks you in.”
Obama is the--perhaps unwitting--tool of the forces he (wrongly) thinks he can contain. This hubris will certainly bite us in the ass...which is, of course, what hubris does.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Three Questions About "The Two-Trillion Dollar Scam"


Ever since I heard the first announcement of the "offer" by the Health-Insurance Parasites (HIP--close relatives pictured above) and Big Pharma to "save" consumers/govt TWO TRILLION DOLLARS over 20 years, I knew it was a fucking hoax. If they can do it now, under the gun of potential competition from a "proposed" government plan, what about yesterday or last fucking DECADE?

I wasn't alone, apparently, as the reliably dubious David Sirota also expressed similar skepticism: :
So the big news today is President Obama's press conference with the health insurance industry touting the industry's "voluntary" commitment to slashing $2 trillion off Americans' health care bills over the next decade. The New York Times reports that this voluntary announcement is motivated by the health insurance industry's "hope to stave off new government price constraints that might be imposed by Congress or a National Health Board of the kind favored by many Democrats."

My three questions are really simple:

1) If the health industry is saying it can lower costs by $2 trillion over 10 years and remain highly profitable, isn't the industry admitting that it was planning to absolutely bilk consumers, and has been bilking consumers in the past? Put another way, isn't the industry admitting that it's entire business model is based on outright profiteering? (If true, why can't the Govt. go back and get a chunk of the TWO TRILLION the fuckers extorted over the LAST decade? W.)

2) Why should the American public believe the health industry is going to voluntarily do anything to cut into its profits? Health executives have a fiduciary responsibility to private shareholders to maximize profits. Voluntarily lowering those profits would violate that fiduciary responsibility. Are we really expected to believe these health executives will, out of the goodness of their hearts, violate their fiduciary responsibilities? What has actually changed to suggest that they will violate their fiduciary responsibilities and help health care consumers?

3) Isn't President Obama legitimizing voices that will use that added credibility later on to try to derail serious health care reform? Today's press conference has the President of the United States effectively saying that the health insurance industry should have a major seat at the health-reform table - and that it should be trusted. But any serious health care reform will need to take on the health insurance industry in a way that will make that industry unhappy. When that eventually happens, won't the previous efforts to legitimize the health insurance industry's voice add credibility to its opposition to reform? I think so, and agree with Ezra Klein who says, "The fact that the White House is making a big deal of [the health industry's] support means" the White House is suggesting that it "would be a big deal if they lost it."

Look, I have no problem with the industry making voluntary commitments about lowering costs - and if it follows through, then that's great. But I also have no illusion about industries making voluntary commitments to reduce their profits - those commitments usually aren't worth the paper they're written on. And so I worry that promoting such commitments as "major" can be politically dangerous and, frankly, counterproductive.

Obama's political calculus throughout his life has been to avoid making enemies. He seems to believe that he can make lots of different interests happy - and on many issues, that's certainly possible. But on some issues, like health care, it's a binary fight: Either you appease the health industry and preserve the status quo they are making big bucks off of, or you take on the health industry and make real change. Touting the industry's "voluntary" commitment to not rip off consumers seems more in the appeasing camp than in the "real change" camp.

Let's not get all dewy-eyed here. It's all a carefully organized, staged and produced SCAM, friends... The real political dynamic is this: If, by Sept, 2010, Obama does NOT have at least ONE "big win" about which to brag and pose for the benefit of the Hopey/Changey crowd, he'll be as good as gone. If he cannot point to ONE big success, he'll be a lame-duck by the beginning of the next Congress. "Health care" is the most 'public/populist' pledge he made when running last year. It is also the one crisis most amenable to propaganda/spin, the one about which the more said, the more apparent progress made.

But make no mistake: it's just another sell-out by the "leaders" to the "owners." The extent to which HIP and Big Pharma "cooperate" with this scheme--which is NOT "Universal Care"--to that extent the People will be getting fucked--again!

So bend over, gratefully, like good little proles, all of you, and thank your stars you installed St. Barry, the Beige: because unlike the Pukes, he'll mebbe use a little lube on the filthy, splintered plunger handle he shoves up your collective asses. You know you love it...