Saturday, March 14, 2009

The past is a different country.

Today, Scott Wilson of the WaPo reports that Obama is taking a new political tack, blaming Bush. Obama vowed to "an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics," in his inaugural speech.

Wilson writes: "It hasn't taken long for the recriminations to return -- or for the Obama administration to begin talking about the unwelcome 'inheritance' of its predecessor," and then begins his hatchet job making sure to interview the GOP's new voice of reason Eric Cantor who says: "It is the Obama economy and the Obama stock market. This is about today, and he's assumed his post."

Yes, lets move on by all means before someone remembers who's been running the country for the past eight years.

I wrote this in response:

Is a news story or an editorial? Gosh, president Obama has invoked the word "inherited," a dozen times or so to rightly point out that he can't fix this "mess" that was eight years in the making, in just 60 days.

What a partisan! To the barricades!

How many times did the Bush administration (including Ari "Mr. Credibility" Fleischer) use the words "September 11 2001" to bludgeon any critic who dared question them?

I seem to recall a Washington Post editorial from Feb. 6 2003 -- the day after Colin Powell's dog and pony show at the UN with his dire warnings of Saddam's robot planes flying over Manhattan -- titled "Irrefutable" which stated:

"It is hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction."

Now, there's some credibility for you!

This despite the reporting of their own reporter, Walter Pincus, who consistently questioned the intelligence claims of the administration.On March 18 2003 Pincus wrote an article titled: "Bush Clings To Dubious Allegations About Iraq," writing that:

"As the Bush administration prepares to attack Iraq this week, it is doing so on the basis of a number of allegations against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein that have been challenged -- and in some cases disproved -- by the United Nations, European governments and even U.S. intelligence reports."

Alas, a voice in the wilderness. The Washington Post was too eager to sell Bush's trumped up war to its readers and any such nay-saying was in bad taste. If only the Post had been as interested in delving into the obvious flaws in Bush's case for war as they are now about Obama's failure to turn the clock back to January 20 2001, he wouldn't need to be reminding us about who drove us into this ditch in the first place.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Chas freeman's blogoshere lynching. Steve Rosen provided the rope.

I started a fire storm at DU on this subject.

See, this is why I don't like to write about Israel or the "lobby."

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Obama waging class warfare? Hardly!

Lori Montgomery writes in the WaPo today that Obama's tax plan is "A Shift of Wealth From the Top Down."

Imagine, trickle down didn't work, again! Calvin Coolidge tried it and we got the Great Depression.

W and Co. tried it and we got . . . the Great Depression II.

Now, Obama proposses to tax the top 2% of the population, who have quadrupled their wealth in the last 20 years while the rest of us stagnated.

Class Warfare cry the republicans!!!!

Montgomery reports:

"Some Republicans say they're having a tough time making the case against Obama. Rep. Paul D. Ryan, the senior Republican on the House Budget Committee, said he has found Obama's tax plans to be hugely popular back home in Wisconsin, where people blame Wall Street financiers for the collapse of the economy and the loss of Wisconsin jobs.

'Class warfare makes for good politics,' Ryan said. 'It preys on people's emotions of fear and envy. And, right now, those emotions are running at an all-time high.'"

This is my comment on this article at the WaPo's comments page:

Some republicans are finding it tough going to make the argument that president Obama shouldn't redistribute the ill-gotten gains of the top 1 percent for the benefit of the other 99 percent?


Rep. Paul Ryan claims Obama is waging "class warfare." That's rich, if you'll forgive the pun.

If anything the republicans and their monied base have been waging a full scale nuclear assault on the vast majority of their fellow Americans since the election of George W. Bush, who was the one who excelled at preying on fear to win elections, lead us into a disasterous war and undermine our charished liberies!

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

Such a tone deaf statement is the perfect example of why the republican party is struggling today for its very existence and why it probably shouldn't survive, after all the destruction it's wrought on this country.

As you might expect, the right wing nut jobs are peddling their ususal nonsense, arguing that Obama is a socialist bent on soaking the rich to give welfare to the poor. After all, all these asshats are all vastly wealthy like those top 400 individuals laughing all the way to the Swiss bank with the asshat's hardearned money.

Here's one comment I left in response to one of these knuckleheads:

warhack911 writes: [The writer's screen name is actually warhawk911]

"This will just ensure that NO ONE would want to become successful."

Being successful and living the lifestyle of a British royal are two different things entirely. Asking the top 400 people (that's not you warhack) to pony up their fair share instead of moving their obscene riches into foreign bank accounts and squandering it on Ponzi schemes is not socialism, it's called being an American citizen.

They live here, they rely on the government to protect their property, they rely on the rest of us to create the capital (through our work and productivity) they covet. Therefore they pay through the nose.

They can afford it, trust me.

You're actually arguing against your own best interest, which either means you're a masochist or a sucker. In either case, your opinions are based on ignorance, at best, or willful stupidity, at worst, and no longer worth anyone's precious time.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Whoopse, we did it again. Another Afghan raid goes wrong. Again!

The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same.

AP reports:

"Civilian casualties in Afghanistan are 'significantly higher' today than a year ago, and an intensification of the conflict this year could mean that consequences for many more Afghans will be 'dire in the extreme,' said Pierre Krahenbuhl, the director of operations for the International Committee of the Red Cross . . .

Krahenbuhl said he emphasized to the American commanders the 'constant obligation' to distinguish between 'those participating in hostilities and those who do not.'

'Unless more is done in different ways by the different parties to the conflict ... to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, the ICRC fears that the Afghan population will bear the brunt of the announced escalation and that consequences for many will be dire in the extreme,' Krahenbuhl said."

Of course, no one would expect the Talibs to respect the lives of noncombatants, but that is sort of why we're supposedly there. We're the good guys. But if you're the average Afghani, it must be really tough to distinguish between the white hats and the black hats.

USA Today reported:

"More Afghan civilians are dying in U.S. and allied operations than at the hands of the Taliban, according to a count by The Associated Press. In the first two months of the year, U.S., NATO or Afghan forces have killed 100 civilians, while militants have killed 60."

And even worse:

"U.S. deaths in Afghanistan increased threefold during the first two months of 2009 compared with the same period last year."

That will lead to even more Afghani deaths followed by more American deaths. And the beat goes on. I think we saw this same sort of thing in Iraq, didn't we? A case in point: Another tactical "success" in the GWOT, and another black eye for the US military's effort to win hearts and minds:

The WaPo reports today on another messed up midnight raid by US soldiers in the Afghan village of Bagh-i-Soltan, Logar province, on Feb 20. US forces forced their way into a house of suspected bomb makers, killing one man and arresting four others.

Mission accomplished. Things didn't go so well after that, though.

Pamela Constable reports from FORWARD OPERATING BASE ALTIMUR:

"By midmorning, hundreds of angry people were blocking the nearby highway, burning tires and shouting 'Death to America!' By mid-evening, millions of Afghan TV news viewers were convinced that foreign troops had killed an unarmed man trying to answer his door . . .

Tactically, the U.S.-led night raid in the village of Bagh-i-Soltan was a success . . .

Strategically, however, the incident was a disaster. Its most incriminating version -- colored by villagers' grief and anger, possibly twisted by Taliban propaganda and magnified by the growing influence of independent Afghan TV -- spread far faster than U.S. authorities could even attempt to counter . . .

A week after the raid, even though U.S. officials had by then met with village elders and released all but one detainee, emotions in Bagh-i-Soltan were still running high, and the raided compound was full of condolence callers

What's wrong with this picture and why haven't we learned anything from Iraq?

More loose thinking on the military's part that seems to indicate they haven't quite learned the lessons of Iraq, yet. This despite 6 years of still dealing with the consequences of getting it so wrong at the beginning of the occupation.

Army Maj. Todd Polk speaking of the suspect shot and killed in the raid explains: "If he were innocent, he would have sat there."

Yeah, that always works in those situations. Someone kicks down your door in the middle of the night and you naturally just sit there while your wife and kids are screaming? Is that what any American male would do? (Isn't that why every American needs to be armed to the teeth to protect their homes?)

To say nothing of the fact that in Afghanistan -- a country constantly at war -- they know a little something about what's happened in the past to many of their countrymen taken in the middle of the night by US soldiers.

If they're lucky they wind up in Gitmo. If they're not, they wind up in Syria or some other human rights poster child locale. Or they just get beaten to death by sadistic MPs, like the Afghani taxi driver, Dilawar, who died a horrible death at Baghram.

Maj. Polk, the piece reports, is frustrated by the lack of communication between his troops and the local police. The policeman he spoke to told him, through an interpreter: "You didn't need to take all those vehicles and people to raid that house. You just needed to make one call." Polk remains skeptical, though.

Why not take him at his word and see what happens? I'd say the lack of communication seems to go both ways. If someone in charge of making nice with the local population is just going to instantly reject the advice of a local constable, the very person we need on our side to have any success with this project of winning hearts and minds, then what's the point?

Maj. Polk's solution, though, is to ignore all that and conclude: "Next time, we just have to be faster putting out the truth."

So, it's just a PR problem then? If Gitmo and Abu Ghraib are any indication of the kind of bad PR we're attempting to surmount, it's probably fair to say, we'd better have a plan B.

It's like the military has to relearn all it's apparently forgotten from doing things right in Iraq. If this is the case, we might as well just pull up stakes and get the hell out of there. This time, much more so than in Iraq, we can't afford another couple years of screwing up in order to get it right.

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Claire Short says there was no discussion about the invasion of Iraq.

You may recall me mentioning the other day the case of the Tories and various media organizations in the UK seeking the release of the minutes of cabinet meetings held in the days leading up to the invasion of Iraq. Specifically, inquiring minds want to see the legal advise the UK Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, gave Phony B-Liar and what was discussed concerning that advise. The Labour government is stonewalling in the courts claiming executive privilege protects consultations the PM gets from his staff and advisers. (Where have we heard that one before?)

In any case, turns out Claire Short, a former cabinet minister (who quit in protest of the invasion), tells the Mail-Online that the reason the current PM Gordon Brown is refusing to release the minutes is because there was no discussion of Goldsmith's legal advise.

News Item:

"Details surrounding two crucial meetings on the eve of the conflict were laid bare for the first time yesterday when former Cabinet Minister Clare Short, who was present at both, gave a full account of what happened . . . 'The bitter irony is that what they are doing is concealing the fact there was no robust decision-making. The minutes will reveal there was no real Cabinet discussion about the Iraq War. That is the real scandal . . .’

Ms Short said: ‘When we arrived, there was a piece of paper in front of each of us, a few paragraphs written by the Attorney General saying the war was legal, there were no problems etc.

‘Lord Goldsmith started reading it out but we said, “You don’t have to, we can read it.” Then Tony said something like, “That’s it.” And that was it. ‘I wanted to know if the Attorney General had any doubts about the legality of the war. ‘They all said, “Clare, be quiet, stop.” No one else wanted to talk about it. I was shouted down.’"

Now that's how you get stuck in a never ending war that's cost a trillion dollars, 4,200 dead and tens of thousands injured. But, hey, we're moving on, things to do people to see. Let's not get bogged down in who did what and who drove us into this ditch in the first place.

That may be the mantra in the new administration, but it looks like Gordon Brown and the labour party have a rendezvous with destiny. Lucky for the criminal enterprise called the Bush administration, there are two NFL players lost off the Florida coast and a huge snow storm headed toward New York, the biggest media market in the US.

More than enough diversion to ensure the ignorance of the American people no matter what is revealed about the march to war in Iraq.

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Sunday, March 01, 2009

I never thought I'd see the day. Obama announces Iraq withdrawl.

President Obama speaking at Camp Lejeune, NC, this past Friday.

"As a candidate for President, I made clear my support for a timeline of 16 months to carry out this drawdown, while pledging to consult closely with our military commanders upon taking office to ensure that we preserve the gains we've made and protect our troops. Those consultations are now complete, and I have chosen a timeline that will remove our combat brigades over the next 18 months.

Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.

. . . I intend to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011. We will complete this transition to Iraqi responsibility, and we will bring our troops home with the honor that they have earned." [Huffington Post]

Wow! Stunning.

We've got something like half a million troops stationed in about 150 countries around the world, so one down and about 149 more to go. But, it's a good start.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Kyle "Dusty" Foog gets sent up the river. There is some justice, after all.

Yes! The former #3 official at the CIA, Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison on Friday. He was convicted of using his position at the CIA to steer agency contracts to his buddy, Brent Wilkes, who was convicted of bribing former California congressman, Randy "Duke" Cunningham (also convicted and sent up for 8 years). [Read the whole sorted story at Vanity Fair: Washington Babylon]

The WaPo reported on Friday:

"A longtime logistics officer, Foggo was the CIA's executive director from November 2004 until May 2006, holding the agency's third-ranking position and one in which he oversaw the CIA's daily operations and budget.

Foggo, of Vienna, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and acknowledged he conspired to defraud the government through his relationship with Brent R. Wilkes, the businessman and friend. Prosecutors said Wilkes took Foggo and his family on a $30,000 Hawaiian vacation and courted him with expensive meals.

In return, court documents say, Foggo helped Wilkes get lucrative contracts."

You'll remember, the Bush administration blamed the CIA for the intelligence lapse that led to 9/11 and the mistaken impression that Saddam had WMD. Of course, the real story is the CIA actually warned Bush and Condi about OBL wanting to attack inside the US, but W. was on vacation at the time, so he did nothing.

The CIA also constantly questioned the assertion Saddam had WMD, which is what led to Dick Cheney making all those repeated visits to Langley, Va., to twist arms into coming up with the right answers. This rush to get the war on also led to the creation of Dougals Feith's Office of Special Plans at the pentagon to cherry pick intel to fit the facts around the policy.

In any case, Bush picked Florida congressman Porter Goss to clean house inside the CIA in August of 2004. Cheney was of the opinion that, in the lead up to the Iraq invasion the CIA had been disloyal by questioning how much of a threat to the US Saddam really was. This was a golden opportunity for some payback. And the appointment of Iran/Contra co-conspirator John Negroponte as intelligence czar (DCI) ensured also a more pliable CIA the next time they needed to manufacture a war.

Goss' short tenure was a first class disaster. He couldn't get anywhere with Negroponte as his boss and the agency was reeling from his hirings and firings and was described as being pretty much in "mutinous" mood all around.

Foggo brings down Goss:

Significantly, what ultimalty led to Goss' resignation was the appointment of Dusty Foggo as the #3 man in charge of the day-to-day running of the CIA in November of 2004. Interestingly, by the way, he also brought in a certain Brant "Nine Fingers" Bassett, who had been at the agency previously and had been working with Goss as a staffer on the House Intelligence Committee.

"Nine Fingers" Bassett got his nick name from his prowess at playing poker with none other than Brent Wilkes, who wrote him a check for $5000 while he was working for Goss in congress.

TPM reported in May of 2006:

"The $5,000 Bassett accepted from Wilkes was for helping him with a business trip to a part of Europe where Bassett knew 'the lay of the land from before' -- presumably a reference to Bassett's earlier work for the CIA, said the person speaking for Bassett. Bassett 'was not an employee of [ADCS]. It was a one-off consulting deal' this person said on Bassett's behalf."
[ADCS was Wilkes' company]

Ken Silverstein wrote for Harpers on May 9 2004 that Bassett and another CIA type, undercover and thus un-named, were the ones who convinced Goss to put Foggo in the #3 spot. That decision proved to be fatal.

Foggo had a reputation from way back when it came to playing fast and loose with the rules. Goss asked Foggo if there was anything he needed to know before he appointed him and Foggo just sort of forgot to mention he was colluding with Brent Wilkes to rip off the government, he was planning to go into business with Wilkes once he retired (after making Wilkes rich), and was also planning on perhaps taking Cunningham's seat when he retired.

But other than that, though, we was good to go. He then proceeded to use his position to direct his underlings to hire Wilkes' shell company to provide aviation support, which Wilkes know nothing about, and other contracts involving armored vehicles to protect agency employees around the world, which Wilkes also knew nothing about providing.

Foggo, as well -- and this is the part I really love -- forced the agency to hire his mistress (known as "ER."), despite their objections relating to her previous job in the government. The government's sentencing memorandum says:

"As CIA hiring officials began to investigate ER's background . . . they learned of problems in her previous government employment that precluded her from employment with the CIA: she had engaged in improper conduct with a superior and had impeded the Inspector General’s investigation of the conduct by destroying evidence. As a result, on or about February 28, 2005, a CIA official sent ER a rejection letter."

No problemo, just hire her and shut up. After she started making her $100,000 salery, thanks to good old Dusty, her supervisor soon came the conclusion she was a waste of money. The 20-year employee was then, naturally, summarily fired by Foggo. Foggo, meanwhile, was charging the tax payers to keep his wife and children in Germany, far away from his little love nest in Va.

More on the history of Foggo that should have raised alarm bells for Goss, but didn't.

"Twenty years ago, long before he and Wilkes would execute this scheme, incidents of a very
different sort demonstrated that Foggo was self-motivated when it came to breaking the law,
violating policies, and lying to conceal such misconduct.

In 1989, while stationed overseas, Foggo stopped his car in front of bicycle bypass. One frustrated passing cyclist slapped the trunk of Foggo’s car. After the two exchanged words, Foggo responded by knocking him off his bike and punching him in the face. Then, much as he would later lie to others at the CIA about the 'cigar bar' cover story for him and JC [Wilkes nephew, Joel Combs] Foggo concocted a story that local police officers had fabricated the entire incident as payback for Foggo’s having spurned their efforts to solicit a bribe from him.

Foggo’s superiors and the local officials considered his explanation to be 'unrealistic and implausible.' Foggo’s chief of station was convinced that Foggo was lying to him. Foggo’s assault on one of its citizens so outraged that nation that officials there filed a Diplomatic Protest with the U.S. Ambassador.

During this same overseas assignment . . . The CIA had to initiate an investigation into Foggo’s undisclosed contacts with foreign nationals. Foggo’s responses to this investigation raised '[m]any more questions than answers,' as it became clear that he had 'withheld information concerning his relationship[s]' with multiple foreign women with 20 whom he was romantically involved. [Huffington Post reports he was sharing a woman with a known Russian mole!]

Though crediting Foggo’s 'reputation as a can-do administrator' and acknowledging his
'high performance appraisals,' the investigator reached the following prescient conclusion: 'Mr. Foggo’s selective compliance with Agency rules and regulations, and unique interpretation of those rules vis-a-vis his "three drop’ rule," is an indication that he is likely to remain a potential threat to security through his poor judgment.'

Similarly, although Foggo’s supervisor at that time 'recognized that Mr. Foggo was talented at his job as a Chief of Support, and recommended him for continued employment with the Agency,' he also 'knew Mr. Foggo was a person who was seriously flawed, ethically and morally, who would cut corners to achieve his aims.' He viewed Foggo as 'a charming' and 'glib' 'people person,' who had the ability to win people over.

Nevertheless, Foggo’s former chief was shocked when Foggo reached the CIA’s highest
ranks: 'I was flabbergasted when Mr. Foggo was selected as the Executive Director. I found
Director Goss’s selection to be quite revealing, that Mr. Goss would be taken in by a ‘con man’ like Mr. Foggo.' While Foggo’s ascension may have been shocking, his crime was not: 'I was not surprised when I learned of his guilty plea

Next time: Carol Lamm fired to save Foggo and Wilkes?

See my entry from 5/5/06 for a preview:

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Who the hell is Piyush "Bobby" Jindal, anyway?

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is giving the GOP response to Obama's speech tonight, so I thought before the media gets around to crowning him the next president, I'd delve a little into who Jindal really is.

Read all about it at my democraticunderground journal. Check out the comments, too, there are some good ones, plus additional info added by me as I found out more about him.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Holder to Gitmo. Binyam Mohamed returns to UK.

In a funny bit of timing, as AG Eric Holder was winging his way toward our Club Med for the "Worst of the Worst" at Gitmo, Ethiopian detainee Binyam Mohamed, the UK resident at the heart of a torture scandal, was on his way back to London. The BBC reports he just arrived and will be taken to a police station, processed and then, presumably, released.

The BBC:

"A British resident detained at Guantanamo Bay for more than four years has arrived back in the UK. Ethiopian-born Binyam Mohamed, 30, landed at RAF Northolt in London on Monday afternoon, accompanied by Metropolitan Police officers. Foreign Secretary David Miliband said his release was the first step towards the goal of closing down the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

Mr Mohamed said in a statement: 'I have to say, more in sadness than in anger, that many have been complicit in my own horrors over the past seven years . . . I wish I could say that it is all over, but it is not. There are still 241 Muslim prisoners in Guantanamo. Many have long since been cleared even by the US military, yet cannot go anywhere as they face persecution. Then there are thousands of other prisoners held by the US elsewhere around the world, with no charges, and without access to their families." [The rest of his statement]

The Guardian:

"Upon his return to England after more than four years inside Guantánamo, Mohamed will be taken to a secure, secret location in order for him to be fully rehabilitated by a team of volunteer doctors and psychiatrists. Mohamed will be kept under a 'voluntary security arrangement' which involves reporting to the authorities, but he will not be subject to an anti-terror control order. His lawyers reiterate that he has nothing to hide after US terror charges against him were dropped last year. "

The Gaurdian: Mohamed beaten until last minute . . .

"Mohamed was found to be suffering from bruising, organ damage, stomach complaints, malnutrition, sores to feet and hands, severe damage to ligaments as well as profound emotional and psychological problems which have been exacerbated by the refusal of Guantánamo's guards to give him counselling.

Mohamed's British lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, said his client had been beaten 'dozens' of times inside the notorious US camp in Cuba with the most recent abuse occurring during recent weeks. He said: 'He has a list of physical ailments that cover two sheets of A4 paper. What Binyam has been through should have been left behind in the middle ages.'

Lieutenant colonel Yvonne Bradley, Mohamed's US military attorney, added: 'He has been severely beaten. Sometimes I don't like to think about it because my country is behind all this.'

Stafford Smith, the director of legal charity Reprieve, said yesterday that Mohamed had been routinely beaten by Guantánamo's notorious emergency reaction force, a six-strong team of guards in riot gear who have been the subject of previous abuse allegations. The alleged beatings were routinely administered against Mohamed 'for no reason' and some were 'recent' according to Stafford Smith."

Obama buys the policy:

So, what? Is Holder going down there to to get a few punches in before we shut the place down? I'm thinking if Mohamed was getting beaten as the UK was negotiating with the Obama administration for his release - to say nothing of the force feeding! -- then that's seriously messed up. Here we got a new president, a new policy, no more torture, etc. and we find the same old stuff going on.

And God knows what's going on around the world at our other secret prisons. Obama & Co. just told a judge in the US the courts have no jurisdiction over 4 detainees at Baghram suing for their release after six years of detention:


"Barbara Olshansky, lead counsel for three of the four detainees and a visiting professor at Stanford Law School, said she was deeply disappointed that the Obama administration had decided to 'adhere to a position that has contributed to making our country a pariah around the world for its flagrant disregard of people's human rights.'"

Extra note:

Speaking of some of those left behind at Gitmo: When will the seven Uyghurs being held at Gitmo be getting released? Not only weren't they ever charged with doing anything wrong, they've actually been found to be totally innocent, which is rare at Gitmo, yet they're still there. We wouldn't want to offend the Chinese, though. We'll release the Uyghurs when they tell us we can!

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

About the monkey business at the NY Post.

Although, I didn't want to, I kind weighed in a little at NPR about this whole NY Post dead monkey controversy.

Here's the offending cartoon by Sean Delonas (his mother must be so proud!:

My comment on the cartoon and the reaction to it by some callers to TOTN this afternoon.

OK, let's ge this straight: Rupert Murdock paper hates Obama and the stimulus bill. Check. The stimulus bill is clearly Obama's baby. Check. Blacks have been depicted as monkies by rascists for centuries in this country. Check.

Ergo, the dead monkey is Obama. But it's really all about congress and some woman who got mauled by a monkey. Huh?

Naturally, the only people who don't see this for what it is, are white subscribers to the Post (are there any other kind?) and white men from suburban Philadelphia, judging by the callers to the show.

It's so funny whites from suburban Philly, who are always the first to launch the "N-word" every time Donovan McNabb makes a bonehead play, are suddenly at a loss as to why anyone would think a monkey could be used to depict a black guy. Amazing! I mean, some of their best friends are black. All these knee-jerk PC liberals need to lighten up!

Here's another comment from a fellow traveler (that's way better, BTW):

"I just drew a funny cartoon, and I would like you to share it with your guest.

It shows someone having sex with their mother while wearing a dunce cap that says 'I stutter because I am a moron'.

The caption to my 'cartoon' says: 'Looks like we will have to find another stuttering racist willing to justify the cartoon; ours is busy.'

Is it funny? Can I have a Pulitzer too?"

Now that's funny!

This is not:


"At noon today, at New York City's Rockefeller Center, a rally was held in front of the offices of the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post, to protest the racist editorial cartoon that ran in its pages on Wednesday . . . Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action network organized the rally, which was attended by hundreds of activists, union members, reporters, and commuters who came during their lunch hour, many of them shouting 'Shut Down the Post!'"

You know, the minute Al Sharpton shows up the whole thing, no matter how legitimate the protest, just turns into a three ring circus. All the right wingers have to say is "Al Sharpton" and America tunes out. And what's with this "shut down the Post" crap? Presumably, these are the same type of folks who would usually be banging on about freedom of the press, but in this case, I guess, it's only for the press they agree with.

Let's stick to the point here: The cartoon is depicting cops shooting a monkey dead. A monkey who is the author of the stimulus bill (that only three Republicans voted for) and is clearly supposed to be our beloved president (but not theirs) Barack Obama.

If W. was still president -- God forbid! -- and someone like Tom Tommorow drew a cartoon showing Alfred E. Newman being shot down, you can just imagine the reaction from Lush Limpballs and the right wing smear machine.

If what Delonas intended was literally about the face eating monkey and the critics of the stimulus bill, which is possible -- I've seen a bunch of his cartoons and they're actually pretty funny and not particularly right wing -- then he really should have thought this one out a bit more. At the very least, his editor should have told him to go take a deep breath first.

But, who care anyway? Fuck Rupert Murdock, let him stew.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Indian women in Mangalore fight the Hindu Talibs with pink panties!

Last month, the Hindu-twin of the Taliban went on a rampage in Mangalore, India, attacking women having a drink at a bar (with men, gasp!). The attack was caught on video and spurred outrage throughout India and the world.

The New Kerala: (Jan. 27)

"Karnataka Police on Tuesday arrested the State convener of the Sri Ram Sena, Prasad Attavar for his role in the attack on women at a pub in Mangalore. The Police also arrested Pramod Muthalik, the president of the Karnataka unit. Twenty seven people have been arrested so far.Karnataka Chief Minister B. S. Yeddyurappa on Tuesday said the police is gathering evidence on top functionaries.

'The government will not tolerate people taking law into their hands and indulging in criminal activities. Police is gathering evidence on the top functionaries for the arrest,' he said. Yeddyurappa also ruled out any link between the Ram Sena and the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). 'I am telling this honestly, the party has nothing to do with the Sena, who have brought disgrace to the state,' he added."

That's his story and he's sticking to it, but I don't believe it.

The Times of India: (Feb 13)

"NEW DELHI: The moral policing by Sri Ram Sene was raised in Rajya Sabha on Friday with CPM (Congress Party member of parliament) Brinda Karat demanding strong action against the outfit. . . Karat said the government should act as the outfit has threatened to marry off girls found in the company of boys on Valentine's Day.

She alleged that the Sene was operating in connivance with the BJP* government in the state, which had witnessed an attack on a pub recently. Karat cited the suicide of a girl allegedly after being humiliated in Bangalore on Thursday for moving around with a Muslim boy. Karat also said the daughter of a CPM MLA was abducted and threatened in Karnataka, where the Sene has acquired the role of the 'Hindu twin' of Taliban."

In any event, they didn't stay in jail long or get a clue and crawl back under the rock they crawled out of.

Times Online: (Feb 11)

"Mr Mutalik was arrested but has been bailed. He has vowed to force unmarried couples found together on Valentine’s Day to either get married or to tie rakhis – string bracelets – on their wrists signifying that they are brother and sister."

You see, these self-appointed moral police have a particular problem with Valentine's Day, so the brave ladies in question started their own Facebook page -- A Consortium of Pub-going, Loose and Forward Women -- and urged people to turn the other cheek, so to speak, and send the boys of Sri Ram Sene big, pink chaddis (panties) in the mail for Valentines Day.

Times Online (again):

"Nisha Susan, 29, a journalist from Karnataka, told The Times that she started the group after reading about the attack in Mangalore and the subsequent threats by the SRS. 'It wasn’t a serious thing at first, but now it’s becoming something bigger,' she said.

Ms Susan said she had been overwhelmed by responses from men and women who wanted to protect their constitutional rights:

'Most of us are just regular people. We decided to give the Sri Ram Sena attention, but not the kind they want.'

The chaddi gesture is an allusion to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the biggest and oldest group in the Hindu nationalist movement, which includes the SRS and the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party. RSS members are often called chaddi wallahs because their uniform includes baggy khaki shorts.

'These people are not loonies – they’re guys looking for political capital,' Ms Susan said. 'The worrying thing is that we’ve seen before in this region how there can be a period of freedom and then it’s taken away. Look at Afghanistan.'"

Indeed! Just look at Mumbai, for that matter.

The day after Valentine's:

The Consortium of Pub-going, Loose and Forward Women's Facebook blog reported yesterday:

"For most modern Indian women, whether residents or non-residents of the country, February 14th this year was no ordinary day – and I’m not talking about the fact that it was Valentine’s Day. It was the day that over 43,000 of them (including some men) sent pink underwear to the Sri Ram Sene . . . Clearly, they didn’t think of the backlash. Even more clearly, they didn’t know that times have changed . . .

After literally getting truckloads of pink underwear from across the country on the 14th, the Sri Ram Sene have decided, in defence, (after changing their mind on the issue thrice) that they will burn the packages of underwear that are still being delivered to them. The Campaign, meanwhile, aims to get the government to agree that ‘beating up women is against Indian culture’, for a start."

He he, dumbasses! This is what democracy looks like. (Now, let's get every women and girl in the Swat Valley and Afghanistan a computer!!!!!! (Anyone know Mullah Omar's address?)

Footnote and an extra point:

*The Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), BTW, is the other big party in India, and has its origins in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a rabidly nationalist -- some might say fascist -- organization, devoted to Hindu superiority. Known as the Hindu brown shirts, they espouse a ruthless devotion to hindu-ness or Hindutva and is also where Natharam Godse, Mahatma's assassin got his inspiration.

One last note: Think we're not to blame a bit for this? Think again. Where these wackos get their money.

Colorlines Magazine (March 22 2005)

"Indian Muslims and Hindus not aligned with the nationalists . . . claim India's ethnic hatred has found a patron in the U.S., through the contributions of Hindu nationalists who have settled in here, and that other Indian Americans are unwittingly donating money to their cause because they do not know the true intent of their work.

One central focus of their concerns in the U.S. is a Maryland-based charity called the India Development and Relief Fund, which is accused by secular Indian groups of raising millions for Hindu nationalist groups in India alleged to be involved in the harassment and killings of Indian Christians and Muslims.

The worst incident occurred in 2002, in the western Indian state of Gujarat, where 2,000 Muslims were killed in such fashion that India scholars and activists in the western Indian state of Gujarat, where 2,000 Muslims were killed in such fashion that India scholars and activists likened the violence to pogroms."

Lucky for them they're not a Palestinian charity or they'd all be in jail, right now.

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Mutually assured destruction is MAD! (Boys with toys)

I thought that's what we finally figured out a few years back. You know, MAD was the theory during the Cold War that said anyone nuts enough to start a nuclear war wouldn't be able to destroy the other side without destroying themselves in the process.

Now here's this: The French and British had a little accident beneath the waves of the Atlantic earlier this month when two of their nuclear submarines collided.

The Telegraph:

"HMS Vanguard and Le Triomphant are understood to have both been severely damaged in the underwater accident earlier this month.

Both are fitted with state-of-the-art technology aimed at detecting other submarines, but it apparently failed completely.

It happened in heavy seas, and in the middle of the night between February 3 and 4, and left Le Triomphant's sonar dome all but destroyed. The sonar dome should have detected the Vanguard but Le Triomphant's crew of 101 claimed to have 'neither saw nor heard anything'. [que vous ne pouvez pas voir ne peut pas vous faire mal] The French tried to play down the collision, with a Navy spokesman saying: 'The collision did not result in injuries among the crew and did not jeopardise nuclear security at any moment.'"

Yes, that's very reassuring. Because, after all, what could really have happened, anyway?


"The incident sparked concern among nuclear activists, who have long warned that nuclear submarines pose risks of radioactive leaks into the world's waters. 'This is a nuclear nightmare of the highest order,' said Kate Hudson, chair of Britain's Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. 'The collision of two submarines, both with nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons onboard, could have released vast amounts of radiation and scattered scores of nuclear warheads across the seabed.'"

Well, that's just crazy, right? No? Remember the Kursk? And what about those warheads? HMS Vanguard alone carries 16 MIRVed Trident II missiles, each of which can carry 3 to 10 W-76 100 kt warheads (the Hiroshima bomb was 10 to 12 kt, by comparison). Together, the two could have been carrying 48 of these warheads when they ran into each other.

"Both are fitted with state-of-the-art technology aimed at detecting other submarines, but it apparently failed completely."

That particular sentence keeps coming to mind. You can trust the French, right, they know what their doing. Why the hell do the French and British have these boats, anyway? Who the hell is going to attack them? If I were the Brits I'd be more worried about dudes with backpacks, honestly!

In any event, what about us? The British only have four of these boats. According to

"The Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), which was forwarded to Congress in December 2001, outlined the Strategic Submarine Force structure: 14 SSBNs outfitted with the TRIDENT II (D5) Strategic Weapon System in 2 oceans . . . TRIDENT II/D5 missile construction continues with an inventory objective of 425 missiles for 14 TRIDENT II/D5 SSBNs in two oceans. Planned procurement through FY 2005 is 5 to 12 missiles per year."

Yikes! That's like over 4000 Hiroshima bombs trolling around in the world's oceans and we just sort of hope the military knows what the hell they're doing. We hope not one of those 1400 or so sailors locked in any of those iron coffins for six months at a time ever makes a mistake. Still, we've got all that state-of-the-art technology.

Like the USAF had when they lost track of 5 nuclear warheads for a few hours while they were flying over the US, or the missile crew that fell asleep for a few hours in Minot a while back, to say nothing of all the mysterious suicides these past few months of senior commanders at our missiles bases.

Such a big surprise?

BANTHEBOMB.ORG shows this really shouldn't have been such a surprise:

"On the basis of recorded incidents involving Polaris and other British nuclear powered submarines it can be projected that Trident submarines are likely to be involved in between 2 and 5 collisions with other vessels . . .

Not including the first Trident submarine there have been 23 nuclear powered submarines in service in the Royal Navy. From when each was built to the end of 1993, or until scrapped gives a total of around 384 reactor years. This includes hunter killer submarines.

The equivalent for Polaris is a total of around 102 reactor years. Between 1950 and 1988 there were at least 19 fires and 6 collisions, 2 of which involved 2 submarines, on all British nuclear powered submarines. In the same period there were 5 fires and 4 collisions, 1 of which involved 2 submarines, on Polaris submarines.

Trident submarines in service for 30 years will be in service for a total of 120 reactor years. The projected number of incidents for the projected lifetime of Trident, based on the figures for Polaris and for all British nuclear powered submarines are as follows:

Based on Polaris:

5.9 fires
4.7 collisions (all vessels)
1.2 collisions with other submarines

Based on all submarines:

5.9 fires
1.9 collisions (all vessels)
0.6 collisions with other submarines

An examination of a total of 63 collisions involving British or US submarines showed 73 % (46) occurred at sea and 27 % (17) when the submarine was berthing or in a harbour area.

These accidents occur as the result of the way in which submarines operate. By using active sonar they are able to accurately identify other vessels around them. However active sonar gives away the submarine's position. So they rely on passive sonar. This gives less accurate information which is difficult to interpret especially if the vessel is carrying out a serious of manoeuvres. When one submarine is following another, both using passive sonar, there is the danger of a collision. Such an incident could occur during operations or submarine - vs - submarine exercises."

Move along folks, nothing to see here. We've got all that state-of-the-art technology making sure we don't all go up in a puff of vapor.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

More of the on-going saga of Binyam Mohamed and the UK coverup.

The BBC:

"British officials, including a doctor, visited Binyam Mohamed in Cuba. The UK had expressed concerns over his health after reports he was on hunger strike . . . A Foreign Office spokesman said: 'A team of British officials, including a doctor, met with Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed yesterday' . . . Mr Mohamed's lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, said his client ended his hunger strike on Wednesday.

He said the 6ft 1in (1.9m) detainee's weight had dropped to 125lb (8st 9lb; 57kg) since he stopped eating on 5 January and they were worried he would not be deemed fit to travel.

'That means he has the same body mass index as people who are very close to starvation,' he said. 'My understanding is that now he's having one meal of solid food a day and some nutritional supplements. 'Hopefully we can bring him back to some good old-fashioned English food.'"

Um . . . which means Ethiopian food or Indian food or something, right? Cus, I'm thinking good old-fashioned English food might tend to cause more fasting.

In any case, surely you recall from reading below that the UK Foreign Office says a judge can't release secret files on the treatment of Mohamed by the Moroccans because the US warned the UK any such release would force the US to stop sharing intel with the Brits and how a judge fell for this little ploy and denied the request by Mohamed's lawyer Clive Stafford Smith? Well, it turns out, that the Foreign Office asked the US DOS for the letter to make their case.

The Guardian:

"A former senior State Department official said that it was the Foreign Office that initiated the 'cover-up' by asking the State Department to send the letter so that it could be introduced into the court proceedings . . . The former senior State Department official said: 'Far from being a threat, it was solicited [by the Foreign Office].'

The Foreign Office asked for it in writing. They said: "Give us something in writing so that we can put it on the record." If you give us a letter explaining you are opposed to this, then we can provide that to the court.'

The letter, sent by the State Department's top legal adviser John Bellinger to foreign secretary David Miliband's legal adviser, Daniel Bethlehem, on 21 August last year, said: 'We want to affirm in the clearest terms that the public disclosure of these documents or of the information contained therein is likely to result in serious damage to US national security and could harm existing intelligence-sharing arrangements.'"

How about that! Talk about chutzpah!

BTW, you might remember John Billinger, Condi's chief legal adviser at Foggy Bottom. He was the guy Cheney & Co. sent, in the days leading up to the invasion of Iraq, to give UK Attorney General Lord Goldsmith a backbone about signing off on a legal finding that the invasion was legal under international law. Just so happens, another case rolling around the courts in the UK, right now, along these same lines, involves getting hold of the minutes of Tony B-liar's cabinet meetings with Goldsmith.

It's all coming together now. Or unraveling, depending on how you look at it. The chickens are coming home to roost. But now is not the time to look backwards, right? Let's move ahead. So a few laws were broken, a few people accidentally killed, a few accidentally arrested, tortured and held for 7 years without any legal recourse . . . it's all in the past. We've got all kinds of more serious problems now that have absolutely nothing to do with the past . . . huh . . . yeah.

[Extra note: I wrote about Billinger here in an angry letter to ATC, which had him on their airways as a "legal expert" to discuss the legal ramifications of shutting Gitmo down, of all things!]

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Stimulus is on the way, the GOP is history.

At I write this the House has voted 246 to 183 to pass the $787 billion stimulus bill. Now it heads to the Senate where passage is expected (unless any of the three GOP Senators needed to pass it there suddenly has a change of heart).

Not one Republican voted for the bill in the House. Let that fact not be forgotten as this stimulus goes along. This is the Party that just voted themselves into the political wilderness for decades to come.

The NYT reports GOP minoroty leader John Boner "lamented that a bill that was supposed to be about 'jobs, jobs, jobs' had turned into one that was about 'spending, spending, spending.'
'We owe it to the people to get this bill right,' Mr. Boehner said."

Right, because they've done such a great job of getting anything right the past eight years! What a joke!

And let us not forget the 6 Democrats that voted to let our country do down the toilet:

Bright, Bobby (D-AK)DeFazio, Peter (D-OR) (New NAY vote. Voted YEA on H.R. 1 two weeks ago)Griffith, Parker (D-AK)Minnick, Walter (D-ID)Peterson, Collin (D-MN)Shuler, Heath (D-NC)Taylor, Gene (D-MS). (House Clerk)

So much for bi-partisanship. We very quickly went from "post-partisanship," to bi-partisanship, to no partisanship. Fom now on OHB just needs to bypass the entirely. Fuck them, you don't need them Barack.

Frank Schaeffer wrote an open letter to OHB at Huffington Post:

"As a former lifelong Republican, son of a co-founder of the Religious Right; my late evangelical leader father, Francis Schaeffer, I'm in a unique position to tell you a few things about the Republicans from inside perspective . . .

The lack of cooperation you're getting from the Republican Party will continue. You were right to indulge in a little bit of tokenism when you had to Pastor Rick Warren pray at your inauguration. But if you think that the Republicans in Congress and the Senate are going to do more than their utmost to obstruct everything you are and what you stand for you're dreaming . . .

. . . Allow me to explain something: the Republican Party is controlled by two ideological groups. First, is the Religious Right. Second, are the neoconservatives. Both groups share one thing in common: they are driven by fear and paranoia. Between them there is no Republican "center" for you to appeal to, just two versions of hate-filled extremes . . . [Just wait and see who they put up against Specter in two years!]

There's only one thing that makes sense for you now. Mr. President, you need to forget a bipartisan approach and get on with the business of governing by winning each battle. You will never be able to work with the Republicans because they hate you. Believe me, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter are the norm not the exception . . ."


Thursday, February 12, 2009

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