Archive for May, 2009

Breaking: Right Wingers Treat Terrorism Buffet-Style, Think Sometimes It’s Awesome

May 31, 2009 in Uncategorized

As our friends would ask if some no-name Democratic assemblyman got a traffic ticket: where’s the outrage? Of course, as soon as you point out that they’re suddenly not that concerned about acts of terrorism on American soil as long as they don’t like the victim, they’ll turn to their ready-made bag of diversionary tactics: “You’re trying to politicize this, how disgusting” (duh: it’s political) is the first line of I-don’t-wanna-talk-about-the-actual-issue, followed shortly by some reheated “goes around, comes around” stuff that – ironically, since most abortion opponents object to the law on purportedly Christian grounds – springs straight from Hinduism.

This is the first killing of a doctor who performs abortions in ten years; this is how the far extremities of the right behave when Democrats are in power. Thomas Tallis predicts that every single right-wing blogger and commentator who covers this story (if any of them do; it’s kind of a hot potato for them, since they like to say how looney lefties are – give me ten loony lefties over one armed anti-abortion activist, thanks) will resort to either of the above rhetorical strategies or to others before saying “our movement is not about this sort of thing, and the actions of this madman must be unambiguously decried without mitigating political commentary that might lend further encouragement to other terrorists.”

This isn’t news, of course. Reagan funneled money to people who killed nuns and priests in Central America for eight years. Democrats and Republicans alike love terrorists just fine when their goals are aligned. But in recent years, it’s been wingers who’ve been most vocal – and therefore most hypocritical – about opposing terrorism.

Will the online right get this one, umm, right? Don’t hold your breath.

-TT
(update: credit where credit’s due – Allahpundit get its right, and I have to say, it’s nice when people on opposing sides of a question can see eye to eye.)

White people are just having a bad day.

May 31, 2009 in Racism

First, a black cop in street clothes gets shot because he was chasing a robber, holding his gun. The policeman who shot him was on plainclothes duty.

This is not new.

There have been a couple of cases involving minority officers shot by white officers in recent years. In 2008, a black, off-duty Mount Vernon, N.Y. police officer was killed by a Westchester County, N.Y. policeman while holding a gun on an assault suspect in suburban White Plains. A grand jury found the victim had failed to identify himself as an officer. In 2006, an Hispanic New York City police officer, Eric Hernandez, was shot and killed by an on-duty patrolman who was responding to a gun call at a White Castle in the Bronx. Dazed by a beating he had just received, Hernandez failed to drop his weapon when asked to.

Even more bizarrely, police pull over an ambulance with patient inside, bark at the driver, and then threaten to arrest the black paramedic tending the patient inside, grabbing him then throttling him when he resisted.

[youtube KluItc365hU]

Now ordinarily my advice to anybody is that when a police officer tells you to do something, you’re only going to fuck yourself if you don’t go along with it. But what interests me is that throttling, and the rage displayed by that trooper. I simply cannot imagine a white face bulging out above that officer’s choking grip with a uniform below.

Neither case strikes me as an accident. Even granting the difficulty of two cops in street clothes wielding guns in the dark, there is too much of a pattern of ethnicity factoring into that “split second life-or-death” situation. And how a cop pulls over an ambulance, and within minutes is choking a black paramedic in the back fails to evoke much mystery. Deep-seated antagonism has a way of manifesting, and all it takes is the slightest pretext.

-jb

Invisible hand fail.

May 30, 2009 in Economy, Education

I remember college being a large number of students sitting in spare rooms listening to a really smart guy talk. Apparently that costs a lot more now:

According to the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, over the past 25 years, average college tuition and fees have risen by 440 percent — more than four times the rate of inflation and almost twice the rate of medical care.

Shouldn’t private schools be offering a better education than state colleges, for less?

-jb

Ass-backwards on Mancow.

May 30, 2009 in Journamalism, War on Terra

Rightwing radio host Mancow Muller made news last week when he said he’d engage in waterboarding to prove it wasn’t torture. Six seconds later, he was singing a different tune.

Now the website Gawker reports that an initial e-mail exchange with Mancow’s publicist indicated the waterboarding was meant to be a stunt.

Redstate.com, an admittedly easy target, took the bait. Their evidence that it wasn’t “real” waterboarding? It was different than Hitchens’ waterboarding!

Ah, but guys? Hey, you do remember that Hitchens also declared waterboarding to be “absolutely torture” afterward, right? Not exactly a counterexample, is it? Anyway, the history of waterboarding and the different ways it is employed is here. Guess what? It’s pretty much all the same, whether you have a cloth over the mouth and nose or not, or you’re dunking their head, the purpose is to create the sensation of drowning.

Mancow responds on Olbermann, in a manner that leaves refutation in short supply.

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

I am happy to report that intellectual honesty has been sighted on Hotair.com. Allahpundit:

Question: If Mancow — who scoffed at waterboarding for years and even now in his Big Hollywood post insists he’d authorize it against terrorists to try to stop an attack — was going to fake his waterboarding, why wouldn’t he have popped up at the end and declared that it’s not torture?

Exactly. Mancow waltzed in thinking he was gonna show them lefties and that punk bitch Hitchens. He walked out with his tail between his legs. And if anybody at Redstate has a problem with that, I’d suggest they try being waterboarded. To make the stakes higher, if they don’t think it’s torture after being waterboarded, let’s waterboard them again, until they confess!

As a final note, let’s remember that waterboarding is merely the most controversial (*cough*CheneyLimbaughbullshit*cough*) method of torture, and that a variety of forms of torture were used, all falling under the definition of torture, all used widely and repeatedly.

-jb

For When They Ask the Question…And They Will

May 29, 2009 in Uncategorized

Righty blogger types, if forced to choose between giving up their families or the idea that “the MSM” doesn’t cover “Democrat scandals,” would sell grandma down the river before she had time to put her dentures in. It is their #1 most favorite thing, the MSM; it’s the perfect bogeyman. A Republican plan went south? The public didn’t seem to care about something that really enraged some wingers? People saw which way the economy was headed and stopped spending money? That’s not the fault of a terrible president or an incompetent executive branch. It’s the MSM! They’re the new Satan – just say they did something, and you’re off the hook; you need not prove a point.

By this time tomorrow, you’ll be able to find, bare minimum, half a dozen righty bloggers claiming that there hasn’t been any “MSM” coverage of the developing Visclosky affair. You can point them here when that happens, and remind them that it was the first item on CNN’s political ticker on the afternoon of May 29th, 2009. Note: there’s always mainstream coverage of the stuff they like to claim isn’t getting mainstream coverage. They invent the claim that “Democrat scandals” aren’t being covered out of thin air; it makes them feel good to say it, like shouting the name of your favorite football team. You can do what I’m doing here with any story they whine about. Their claim of the evil liberal media cabal is very like your little brother’s claim that you hit him when you actually didn’t. The purpose of the claim is to get attention. That’s all.
-TT

Some Of Y’all Will Remember When You Wouldn’t Listen to Your Own

May 29, 2009 in Uncategorized

John Corwyn, concern troll? Peggy Noonan: RINO? No; actual Republicans who’re having to watch their own party and its base embarrass itself publicly. Will their concerns be met by anything other than more caterwauling? I’m guessing “no” – the far right, like 9/11 truthers or Kennedy assassination buffs, is at this point so deeply enamored of the sound it makes when it raises its voice that it can’t imagine everybody else doesn’t love it, too. They have all kinds of ready-made answers for how you’re not really telling them the truth when you say “you’re shooting yourself in the foot here” – one, you don’t really care if they do, and two, you’re only saying that because their plan might actually work, etc., etc., etc. That adds a 2nd layer of self-pleasing drone for them to tune into instead of the sound of the public, which is trying to tell righties: “When we see how you’re acting, we see something of which we want no part.”

You can spend all day spelling it out for these people and at the end of it they’ll be even more convinced they’re on the right track. I am beginning to wonder if there isn’t really a Santa Claus, since somebody’s gotta be responsible for all these freebies that keep falling into lap of the left. Mom? Dad? The Easter Bunny? Nope, it’s just the far right, chewing off its own foot again!
-TT

Green shoots!

May 28, 2009 in Uncategorized

Crushing recession proceeding as expected:

May 28 (Bloomberg) — Mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures rose to records in the first quarter and home-loan rates jumped to the highest since March this week as the government’s effort to fix the housing slump lost momentum.

The U.S. delinquency rate jumped to a seasonally adjusted 9.12 percent from 7.88 percent, the biggest-ever increase, and the share of loans entering foreclosure rose to 1.37 percent, the Mortgage Bankers Association said today. Both figures are the highest in records going back to 1972. Fixed rates rose to 4.91 percent, Freddie Mac said, and an increase in bond yields earlier this week shows rates may continue rising.

And it’s not just those damnable sub-prime loans. Real Americans are defaulting as well.

The number of U.S. homes valued at more than $729,750, the jumbo-loan limit in the most affluent areas, entering the foreclosure process jumped 127 percent during the first 10 weeks of this year from the same period of 2008, data compiled by RealtyTrac Inc. of Irvine, California, show. The rate rose 72 percent for homes valued at less than $417,000 and 78 percent for all homes, RealtyTrac said.

My heart bleeds for the jumbo-mortgage holders.

-mg

If The Right Were A Baseball Player, You’d Bench Him

May 28, 2009 in Uncategorized

Wait, wait, lemme guess, I think I can do this: It’s the liberal media’s fault, right? People’d agree with all the “Sotomayor’s a racist!” insane howling if the news media weren’t slanting its coverage, right? Any poll of the public that doesn’t agree with Pajamas Media 4th-stringers is hopelessly biased, right? How’m I doin’?

Face the facts, internet-era righties. You made your bed on Monica Lewinsky and how-crazy-do-you-have-to-be-to-buy-into-this Vince Foster conspiracy theorizing, and now nobody cares to listen to what you have to say. Now everything you say sounds as crazy as the stuff you initially got attention with. If there were a risk of you rethinking your business model, Democrats would need to worry. Fortunately, you’re big believers in going down with the ship. Bon voyage!
-TT

You gotta respect Mancow for what he did.

May 27, 2009 in Uncategorized

At least he can admit that he was wrong.

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

-mg

Treason!!

May 27, 2009 in Uncategorized

Heard this guy on the barely listenable Mike Malloy last night. He’s a senior interrogator who argues against the claim that torture saved lives. Of course this makes Matt Alexander a traitor.

-mg

One of the greatest web pages ever.

May 27, 2009 in We'll post whatever we goddamned want to

Start having fun.

-jb

Crib Sheet

May 26, 2009 in Uncategorized

When you want to answer a lot of the frenzied howling that’ll be rising from the right in the days to come, just point ’em here.
-TT

This deserves its own post.

May 25, 2009 in Clueless Conservatives, Politics, Sophistry, War Crimes

I mentioned in comments the other day that Sharon had linked to us, trying to chortle like we just blather about torture without knowing what we’re talking about. I quickly delivered a smackdown that had her spewing fallacies instantly, but those who know Sharon know that being wrong is the last thing that will shut her up.

Today, stuck in the corner, she actually starts citing the Bybee torture memos as her rebuttal. Memos that have earned the laughter, scorn and derision of nearly the entire legal community (barring David Addington, I’m sure) and set up Bybee for disbarment.

Have rightwingers actually gone so far off the reservation? Sharon quotes Victoria Toensing writing in the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, one of the few places other than the Weekly Standard or National Review that such apparatchik nonsense can appear with a straight face. The linchpin? “Specific intent.” Namely, that without specific intent to commit torture, there is no torture!

The law on torture actually states there must be specific intent to inflict severe physical or mental pain. How any interrogator could have imagined that he wouldn’t be doing such a thing is clearly undescribable by any human being. Bybee’s attempt at legalese Newspeak puts it this way:

“As a theoretical matter therefore, knowledge alone that a particular result is certain to occur does not constitute specific intent.”

Sharon, however, gave herself up while flailing for an answer:

The people who saw heads off don’t worry about legalities.

Okay, but when you started off bashing us for not knowing what we were talking about, and then it turned out you didn’t know what you were talking about, you don’t get the win by turning around and dismissing the importance of the law.

Slime and slipperiness may get you out of hot spots momentarily, but people will remember that you have no integrity. In rightwingerland, desperate individuals may find ways to keep clapping, but America will remember how these people acted when they had power, and how they continued to defend themselves afterwards. The Party of Cheney (and Limbaugh, as they are becoming interchangeable) is who they are, and we must keep the car keys out of their hands.

-jb

Why Don’t They Respect Us?

May 25, 2009 in Uncategorized

Maybe because inviting others into one’s delusional schemata isn’t the best look for a statesman?

Partisan response to this will follow predictable lines (“liberal media” blah blah, “the French” blah blah, “a man’s convictions” blah blah) but please spare us your nonsense for once, righties. We have seen enough of what happens when people take literal belief in prophecy into the political arena. Believe what you wanna believe, but leave the governing to the non-insane.
-TT

No such thing as silence.

May 25, 2009 in Uncategorized

Just an absence of that which drowns out inner life. This soliloquy by Lane Wallace is perfect from start to finish.

I read it, of course, with eight tabs open in Firefox and the movie Outlander playing on my TV.

-jb

Average person: fourteen seconds being waterboarded. Mancow: six seconds.

May 22, 2009 in Uncategorized

Like Christopher Hitchens before him, Mancow admits that water-boarding is torture…after it is performed on him.

Turns out the stunt wasn’t so funny. Witnesses said Muller thrashed on the table, and even instantly threw the toy cow he was holding as his emergency tool to signify when he wanted the experiment to stop. He only lasted 6 or 7 seconds.

“It is way worse than I thought it would be, and that’s no joke,”Mancow said, likening it to a time when he nearly drowned as a child. “It is such an odd feeling to have water poured down your nose with your head back…It was instantaneous…and I don’t want to say this: absolutely torture.”

“I wanted to prove it wasn’t torture,” Mancow said.

He doesn’t want to say it because of the shame he feels for advocating such unethical and monstrous treatment of other human beings. And as the article points out “getting waterboarded for a limited duration under circumstances you control is nothing like being waterboarded as a prisoner”.

-mg

Why does David Waldman hate America?

May 21, 2009 in Uncategorized

David Waldman asks the simple question of why the Cheney Administration was torturing captives into confessing an Iraq/Al Qaeda link after the invasion. The right wing answer? Hide behind the flag.

-mg

Marijuana in the Bible?

May 21, 2009 in Religion

A man who used marijuana to combat back pain and Asperger’s Syndrome was banished from several Christian churches.

Why?

I can’t find any references in the Bible to marijuana, hemp, or even smoking. This website attempts to offer a reason, except everything in the Bible talks about alcohol. The site’s loophole is that marijuana “intoxicates” in low doses, and several Bible passages praise the virtues of a clear mind for resisting Satan.

Mmmm, okay, but how many churches banish people for having a couple beers? Besides, alcohol lowers inhibition and makes you more likely to commit much bigger sins than those of marijuana, which pretty much end at sloth and gluttony, while encouraging spirituality in some.

The reality is that these churches are slapping God-talk on their cultural taboos, engaging in piety and pomp rather than meaningful religious thought.

-jb

The quality of ice in your drinks.

May 21, 2009 in We'll post whatever we goddamned want to

You never thought about how much ice mattered, until you read this article and slapped your forehead…

-jb

They prey on weakness.

May 21, 2009 in Barack Obama

See any shit-talking Republicans try to take us on lately? That’s because when they do, we react forcefully and dismantle their arguments until there’s nothing left for them to do but scram.

It must be quite a feeling for Republicans to blather about “LETTING TERRORISTS RUN WILD IN THE STREETS OF AMERICA!” and watch Democrats like Harry Reid crumble. I imagine a car salesman who unloads a lemon with a 25% markup feels the same rush.

When Democrats stand up for their beliefs and fight back, they win. Plain and simple. One of the most important reasons we have this majority right now is because of the efforts of Democrats who did speak out and take on Republican arguments. It seemed like they were finally getting it.

It’s good to see President Obama push back against this shameless and needless cowardice. On the other hand, we need him to nourish his cahones too. David Broder and the Beltway are ecstatic that Obama is turning back on campaign promises and deferring to generals as if his campaign promises weren’t widely celebrated by a number of retired military personnel and foreign policy experts. He’s often suggested that he likes the “team of rivals” concept, but too frequently we see key dissenting voices missing from his internal debates. Having dinner with Paul Krugman is a nice move, but quite late. Shall we witness another similar move with a critic of his military actions after further bungling becomes intolerable?

-jb

UPDATE: Reid blinks. He’s still a coward, he just realized President Obama is a bit more powerful than the ten people left who still call themselves Republicans.

Good police.

May 21, 2009 in Uncategorized

Four terrorists arrested in NYC:

Four men were arrested Wednesday night in what the authorities said was a plot to bomb two synagogues in the Bronx and shoot down military planes at an Air National Guard base in Newburgh, N.Y.

Bravo for the good police work but I’m rather concerned about where they’re going to keep these terrorists. Surely they don’t plan on endangering American lives by holding them in domestic prisons?!

I haven’t had a chance to watch any cable news today but I doubt that they’re engaging in the same level of hysterics as they did when they were dutifully relaying the Republican meme that Guantanamo prisoners being held in a Colorado super-max prison was a grave threat to the general public. As Greenwald points out; what aren’t these people afraid of?

-mg

Behaving like cowards will show people Republicans are wrong about us!

May 19, 2009 in Disappointing Dems

Harry Reid et al. cave into the hysteria surrounding Gitmo detainees being held in the United States. So Gitmo closing will have to wait.

What? A Republican might say, “ZOMG teh Dimmocrats want terrorists hanging out on the streets of AMERICA yoursonsanddaughtersandalwayscuttaxes-” so we have to! Really, what else are we going to do? Point out that they have these things called high-security prisons? Do we have to get the WTC bomber out of the country immediately before he does, um…something?

Republicans playing that stupid, stupid fear card deserve to be laughed at. It’s such an old game, and most Democrats have already managed to outwit it…yet there’s Harry Reid still acting like it’s 2004 and there’s no hope for Democrats against Republicans saying mean things.

Tom Tomorrow says it all.

-jb

Pelosi the Torturor.

May 19, 2009 in Clueless Conservatives, War Crimes

Go flip mode with Republicans:

Do the Republicans think Pelosi is the key figure here? Ok, knock yourselves out! Let’s investigate the Pelosi torture regime in full. Then maybe we can put an end to the vicious Pelosi torture era.

Haven’t been reading much from rightwingers lately, but we have undoubtedly been assured already that the only laws broken were those done by Nancy Pelosi, and George W. Cheney is an American Hero.

-jb

The last slogan they’ve got.

May 19, 2009 in Uncategorized

Hannity doesn’t have much to say when confronted by the obvious chronological problems associated with the claim that Bush kept us safe for eight years. When life handed Bush lemons at the beginning of his first term the boy king chose not to make lemonade but instead took the advice of Kuni and said “fuck the lemons” and bailed. Bush took the first of what would be many vacations to his ranch in Crawford where he could play cowboy and clear brush in peace. Even dire warnings of imminent attack by crazed jihadis flying planes into buildings were unworthy of his attentions. With no choice but to defend their soveriegn, Bush’s loyal subjects are shamelessly flogging the idea that he deserves another pass. What makes it so disgusting is that we’re not talking about a baseball team or an oil company that’s gone bust. We’re talking about thousands of lives lost because of gross negligence.

-mg

Narcissus Falls Into Pool, Drowns

May 19, 2009 in Culture

If Republicans were serious about either their message or about getting into position to implement it, this information would be of interest to them. Fortunately for those of us who don’t want to see them returned to power any time soon (the deficit being already quite big enough as it is, thanks) they will not be able to hear what the numbers are telling them. It wouldn’t matter who said it, or how; they’re so accustomed to & in love with the sound of their own hollering that they can’t see, and won’t believe, that they’re turning everybody off. Perhaps some of them will see this and plead righteousness – “I’d rather be right than popular,” goes the sour-grapes retort from people who’re losing the support of the public. But that’s exactly the point: if these people actually cared about whether they were right or wrong, they’d try to sell their message. When you believe in a product, you package it for the market. What Republicans in 2009 are most interested in is their own reflection and whether it pleases them. They can’t even hear the clenched-teeth groans of the people who, seeing the same image, are leaving the party in droves.
-TT

Bad news for all of those Republicans newly concerned about the deficit.

May 18, 2009 in Uncategorized

I know that as publicly traded companies it’s beneficial for them to make these statements but I’m taking a “I’ll believe it when I see it” stance.

May 18 (Bloomberg) — Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley applied to repay the combined $45 billion they received in October from the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program, said people familiar with the matter.

If approved, the refunds would be the biggest yet to the $700 billion TARP program established by Congress last year during the investor furor that followed the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. Banks are keen to repay the money to shake off restrictions on compensation and hiring that were imposed on TARP recipients in February.

-mg

Cheney tortured to create a link between Iraq and Al Queda.

May 16, 2009 in Politics, War on Terra

While not exactly an earth-shattering surprise, it should be mentioned in every conversation on torture. Authoritarian states torture in order to create reality. “Of course you did it. You confessed.”

Jesse Ventura can acknowledge, accurately, that given the chance to waterboard Dick Cheney and he would have him confessing to murder, but Dick Cheney merely harumphs and grunts, “I dare you to try it.” Such is the way of the thug: he deliberately tries to rig the system in favor of his modus operandi, raw brute force. Yeah, such men risk getting their heads blown off or hung in history books, but until somebody comes along with the balls to crush you, you’re on top of the world. Via Castro, the USA taught the world that dictatorship can be a lifelong profitable venture. We are too timid to physically crush, and too worshipful of power to exercise the law against him, so he scurries away and taunts with the dexterity of a snot-nosed brat.

There was no coincidence when that immoral and depraved individual immediately moved to institute and abuse the use of torture in order to make suspects say whatever he needed them to say. That’s not even “abusing the use” of torture, that’s part of the integral feature set of torture. You can’t have it without the corruption. You can dream, you can wish, you can try, all in the hope that justice will be done, but it always corrupts. Torture is corruption. To grant such a power to our government grants it, essentially, all power. Governments torture for the same reasons people do heroin: the feverdream of being able to escape reality with a quick and easy fix.

-jb

Oh, hell, EVERYBODY is pissed.

May 16, 2009 in We'll post whatever we goddamned want to

Nobody is happy.

Republicans are insane, Democrats are cowards; Dick Cheney rants about how awesome torture is and Obama is dangling the USA over the gaping maw of Al Queda, the press grants him solo airtime without challenge; Obama hires a corporate lawyer from pollution hounds GE to enforce environmental law; deficits are raging, Republicans are still cheap charlatans, again trying to score cheap political points by pretending they aren’t the reason we have to spend so much; Democrats are left holding the baton for the immorality of torture but our politicians are too busy playing game theory to try something as simple as enforcing the law; everybody wants tons of spending, even Democrats are afraid of proposing the taxes we need to fund it all, Republicans have gone so blinkered that they’d fight a penny increase in the yacht tax; Obama is smirking at the notion of ending the drug war, Republicans are afraid it’s all for show while his drug czar moves us towards a cease fire; Iraq is made of molasses, Afghanistan sweet poppies promising a Taliban-free high if we just stay a little bit longer; the NYT can’t figure out how to make money but thinks refusing to say “torture” is journalism; California’s direct democracy system is broken and Sacramento is filled with zealots, the only solution is more direct democracy; Wolverine was sloppily made, normal publications are freaking out that gay-ish Adam Lambert could actually win a contest to be a pop star; Republicans are beholden to a thrice-divorced drug addict sex tourist who is too intellectually dishonest to debate anywhere other than the safe confines of his radio show, his ratings only go up the more he disgusts mainstream America; Norm Coleman is brazenly exploiting the court system just to keep Al Franken out of the Senate a little bit longer, Jim Carrey is now one of those people who rants about vaccines causing autism; projects to make America’s energy green and slow the effects of global warming still lack political will, along with revamping Medicare or shifting retirement ages; the airwaves are filled with jackass reality show contestants but Noam Chomsky isn’t seen on cable news…

…I want to keep going but I’m dying to go to bed…

…f’ing hell.

Everybody should just drink some lilac wine…on a train.

[youtube 6DqZAXQqoag]

-jb

Republicans are pissed about torture!

May 15, 2009 in Politics

When they think Nancy Pelosi can be dragged into it:

The whole point of this storm about Pelosi is that her critics want her to be embarrassed and stop supporting a Truth Commission or any sort of examination of what happened. But she’s not. She still says there should be an investigation. Her critics still want the book closed. That says it all.

Pelosi’s name coming up serves as a form of Republican/Beltway bait. Neither wanted a thing to do with investigating torture until they saw a Democrat could be implicated. Now they get to say, “See, one of you could go down too…are you still sure you want to investigate?”

Yes. I don’t care who it takes down, have the Commission, investigate, uncover the entire truth. The thought of getting mud on a few Democrats’ clothes leaves me entirely unconcerned. The bulk of the guilt rests on Bush, Cheney and their slimeball lawyers, who tortured in order to create an Iraq/Al Queda link.

Of course, Pelosi’s willingness to have a Truth Commission takes the fun out of it for the Beltway crowd, so expect them to lay off her pretty soon.

-jb

Party of Limbaugh update.

May 15, 2009 in Clueless Conservatives

Poor sucker Jerry Taylor mentions at National Review Online that maybe Rush Limbaugh isn’t popular or effective with the public. 100% true, of course, which is why the pitchforks came out.

-jb

NYT: Truth slips in via letters.

May 15, 2009 in Clueless Conservatives, Journamalism

As Sullivan notes, the New York Times will only refer to torture when other countries do it. If we do it, regardless of the practice, it’s “enhanced interrogation.” Fortunately, they will print letters that call it exactly what it is.

When Allied forces liberated the Nazi death camps in World War II, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Allied commander, ordered German citizens to walk through the concentration camps to see the victims’ bodies. He wanted them to witness what their government had done as proof against denials the Holocaust had occurred.

President Obama should follow Eisenhower’s example and let Americans confront the visual evidence of the horrors committed in our name. Verbal accounts are not enough to silence those who will deny or minimize this abuse.

Republicans, obviously, want fewer photos, because pictures overwhelm their words. Can you imagine the spin we’d hear about Abu Ghraib without the pictures?

While release of the photos depicting torture by United States military personnel may “further inflame anti-American opinion” and endanger troops, the torture itself is what truly inflames our enemies and allies.

The question is, why is President Obama buying into this claptrap? Is he afraid of Dick Cheney, like it seems everybody else in D.C. is?

Dick Cheney presents Americans with the false choice of the ideologue: if we don’t torture, Americans will die. Ideologues propose false choices because the tactic rhetorically transforms their radical ideas into the only plausible and acceptable ones.

Question: Why do people keep granting Dick Cheney access to disseminate propaganda, instead of making him debate? We allowed him to do that for eight years as VP when we shouldn’t have…what forces us to accept his words uncritically now?

In the Physicians for Human Rights 2008 report “Broken Law, Broken Lives,” my colleagues and I documented the profound physical and psychological suffering resulting from the torture and abuse of 12 people, all of whom were ultimately released without charges, but not before being subjected to beatings, sexual humiliation, sleep deprivation, death threats and extremes of heat and cold. In other words, they were tortured.

And then another obvious unmentionable slips in:

As the debate over torture heats up, it seems the Republican response is always to remind us that Bush & Company “kept us safe since 9/11.” That’s terrific, and the Bush administration surely gets some credit for that. But wouldn’t it have been even better if it had also kept us safe on 9/11? Why is it that 9/11 doesn’t count when Dick Cheney and the Republicans are bragging about their safety record?

Doh!

I’d love to see one actual reporter ask Dick Cheney how he excuses himself for dropping the ball and letting thousands of Americans die.

Or, maybe a fourth grader will ask him.

-jb

Take that all you third grade Korean violinists!

May 14, 2009 in Uncategorized

Yuto Miyazawa rocks out Crazy Train.

-mg

Post like Republican blogger!

May 14, 2009 in Uncategorized

First on it!

May 14 (Bloomberg) — Rising U.S. sales of acai, a purple Amazon berry promoted as a “superfood” on Oprah Winfrey’s Web site, are depriving Brazilian jungle dwellers of a protein-rich nutrient they’ve relied on for generations.

U.S. consumers are turning a “a typical poor people’s food into something like a delicacy,” said Oscar Nogueira, who specializes in the fruit at Embrapa, Brazil’s agricultural research company.

THATS WHAT HIPPOCRIT LIBERALS DO THEY TELL YOU WAHT TO DO AND THEN DONT DO IT THEMSELVES AND EAT FOODS THAT THE POOR EAT AND THEN THE POOR CANT EAT IT LIBRUL HIPPOCRITS FASCISM!!!!

-mg

Bill Clinton made me do it!

May 13, 2009 in Uncategorized

The SEC is going after Countrywide:

Perhaps no one made so much money so directly perpetrating the abuses responsible for the most painful consequences of the economic collapse as Mozilo, whose massive mortgage giant encouraged sales reps to sell homeowners on the biggest and most abusive loans possible, fueling a meteoric rise in housing prices that sustained Countrywide’s profit margins for much of the last decade — until 2007, when the market finally broke down and Countrywide tried to change tactics, raising its lending standards with an internal memo encouraging employees to “Do the right thing.”

Sounds to me like getting off would be a piece of cake. All Mozilo has to do is hire a crack team of right wing bloggers for his legal council who can then explain to the judge that the changes made to the Community Reinvestment Act in 1995 forced Countrywide to offer those risky loans!

-mg

Your teen is having sex.

May 13, 2009 in Uncategorized

Get over it. I am always bewildered by people who are shocked, SHOCKED that teens have sex.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz warned parents Wednesday of the dangers of “sexting” — the increasingly common practice of sharing sexually explicit photos and words via text messaging.

Oh really? I’d be interested to know how Politico writer Patrick Gavin keeps track of these things.

-mg

Web-induced A.D.D.

May 13, 2009 in Culture

Lordy knows I got it. Haven’t even been able to focus on blogging lately!

Reading on the web is almost certainly affecting the way we process information, but it’s not making us stupid. Instead, it’s changing the way we’re smart. Rather than storehouses of in-depth information, the web is turning our brains into indexes. These days, it’s not what you know — it’s what you know you can access, and cross reference.

In other words, books taught us to think like they do — as tools for storing extensive knowledge. Now the web teaches us to think like it does — as a tool for recall and connection. We won’t be so good at memorizing everything there is to know about a particular small-bore topic, but we’ll be a lot better at knowing what there is to be known about the broader category the topic fits into, and what other information might provide insight and context.

That this is happening to many people is indisputable. What is fun to argue is whether this is a “good thing” or not. One of the commenters impressed me with this:

Consider that the vast majority of human history has been an preliterate or illiterate experience. Knowledge was empirical and acquired in the field, through different social associations and culture. Our forbears may not have been bookish, but neither were they imagining less. They kept a different model of the world in their heads, as complex as any we imagine today. The abstract world allows for testing connections — trying out possibilities before actually attempting them. It allows for comparative analysis — discussing ideas with peers. It could be about the optimal method of tracking gazelle, killing barbarians, or forging metal. In all cases, the amount of mental abstraction involved is roughly the same.

If we are moving to a mental model where survival is dependent on information access through digital nodes rather than recording the actual information in our wetware, we are still keeping a rich, complex abstraction of the world in our heads, as we always have done. Our world model is simply morphing yet again to accommodate survival node changes in the world.

Much is lost by abandoning the old mental models; but much is gained by creating new ones. It makes little difference if we celebrate it or lament the change by clinging to our paper books, any more than we should cling to our spears and arrows. If the data points of our mental model have become less clustered around the bush, the farm, the village, or the city library, but have dispersed across the planet, then so be it. We will survive by the same timeless means as always before: by imagining the rich, complex world that we live in, in its current form.

This is the belief that we’re just as awesome as we’ve always been, just in different ways.

Still, that feeling of my brain being pureed confetti nags. I would like to read more books, and I would like to write more full-length works…but I have become somewhat paralyzed by the million pieces my brain has shattered into. So I think the argument mostly rests on control, and how much you voluntarily surrender. I don’t want to give up everything I’ve lost. Yet I am, apparently, even more afraid of losing the constant feed of new information and ideas I encounter every day on the internet.

-jb

Providing the rope.

May 13, 2009 in Clueless Conservatives, Politics, War on Terra

“The United States is a country that takes human rights seriously. We do not torture. It’s against our laws and against our values. And we expect all those who serve America to conduct themselves accordingly, and we enforce those rules…America is a fair and a decent country. President Bush has made it clear, both publicly and privately, that our duty to uphold the laws and standards of this nation make no exceptions for wartime. As he put it, we are in a fight for our principles and our first responsibility is to live by them. The war on terror, after all, is more than a contest of arms and more than a test of will. It’s also a war of ideas.”

-Dick Cheney.

Obsidian Wings has eight more goodies just like that.

-jb

The country was founded on capitalism?

May 12, 2009 in Uncategorized

His Master’s Voice:

But I have to tell you that I am shocked and surprised that as a by-product of those eight years of constant nipping at Bush’s heels, that the end result would be that the American way of life was over, that American capitalism, that individual liberty, that American exceptionalism, that the principles of our founding also had been decided to have been failures.

The United States first came to economic prominence because of the lucrative cotton trade in the nineteenth century. If we understand a lack of state intervention in the markets to be a key component of capitalism as well as capital and labor being free and rational participants then Limbaugh’s suggestion that the United States was founded on free market principles is absolutely false. The United States primary market advantage was decreased labor costs, ie – slave labor. I challenge anyone to cite a bigger market distortion that that! You cannot have capitalism without a free and mobile labor force and early colonial history teaches us that a large segment of the population had neither freedom nor mobility.

The One goes on:

There’s a genuine dislike for this country and a genuine preference for it to be transformed into something else, certainly by a lot of Democrats. I don’t know how many of the American people are really caught up into all this in terms of meaning, if they even understand what’s going on right before their very eyes.

My hope is that not nearly as many understand it and support it as appears to be the case.

Government intervention in the markets is as American as apple pie (in fact, we still intervene in the cotton markets in the form of enormous subsidies). As far as the American people being “caught up into all this in terms of meaning” I would posit that Limbaugh is not so stupid that he does not know that the true battle is whether the pendulum should swing towards benefitting public interests versus private interests. By private interests I mean the type of intervention that we are currently witnessing in the form of the rather sizable largesse that was showered upon companies like Goldman Sachs, Citicorp, and other institutions considered “too big to fail”. That is but one example and there are numerous others. By public I mean the miniscule scraps that the Obama administration has thrown towards us little people in the auto industry or reform in the credit card and mortgage shylock rackets.

-mg

Y’all come back now, hear?

May 12, 2009 in Energy

Black gold. Texas tea. Two articles concerning energy caught my attention today. The first I read in the Financial Times. It reported on the on-going saga of Venezuelan nationalization:

A fresh round of expropriations in Venezuela has raised fears that the Opec producer’s already declining oil output could sink to its lowest level in the past 20 years.

Troops were mobilised over the weekend to assist Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, PDVSA, in seizing the assets of some 60 oil service companies, after a law was approved last week that paves the way for the state to take increasing control over its all-important oil industry.

Note that in the business press we don’t have to suffer through any of the pointless editorial about evil socialism versus free markets that one would be forced to cope with on cable news or the Fort Dodge Messenger editorial page. We instead go straight to the heart of the matter; that Venezuelan oil reserves are depleting at around 25% a year and Chavez is selling nationalization to the Venezuelan people by blaming the decline on private oil companies who wont play ball. Being a business paper, the FT assumes one thing; that decreased production equals increased prices for everyone. Two contributing factors are to blame for the losses in output. The first is Venezuela’s technological inability to extract the remaining crude that is in its aging fields. The petroleum that is left is heavy, high in sulfur, and therefore more cost intensive to refine into gasoline. It’s also more difficult to extract. Saline and natural gas injection and displacement methods are both technically sophisticated and capital intensive and PdVSA lacks the know-how and the money to get the job done. The second factor is geological. Venezuela is past peak and the article says as much when it points out that capital investment would only slow down depletion by efficiently pumping out what is left which, considering that we rely on the black stuff in every facet of our activities of daily living, isn’t exactly a rational long term strategy.

The second article I read is a lot more hopeful and makes a helluva lot more sense to me than putting off the inevitable. It’s about an American company positioning themselves to compete in the emerging battery technology market:

General Electric will open a $100m factory in the US that will build energy-storage batteries used to help power a new generation of more efficient locomotives, power grids and other industrial gear.

The plant marks the latest step in GE’s efforts to profit from advancements in battery technologies, a centrepiece in chief executive Jeff Immelt’s push to capitalise on mounting demand for more efficient and environmentally friendly ways to produce, distribute and use energy. Mr Immelt predicted that annual sales at GE’s fledgling battery business would swell to $1bn within the next decade.

Granted, the electricity to charge the batteries has to come from somewhere and I don’t entertain any fantasies about making it all happen on clean coal or whatever panacea is en vogue this week but it’s definitely a start in the right direction.

-mg

PS – I can’t let go of my obsession with the nanny state. Here’s another little snippet from the article:

The company plans to apply to the US Department of Energy this week for federal stimulus money to help pay for construction costs, though Mr Immelt said GE would press ahead with its plans for the factory even the request is denied. It received a $15m grant from New York state.

GE doesn’t seem to have any feelings of guilt about accepting a hand-out. Why should you?

We built it, but they won’t come.

May 12, 2009 in Uncategorized

“For Gay Couple, Fulfilling Lifelong Dream Of Marriage Not Worth Moving To Iowa”

NEW YORK—Having their sworn commitment to each other and all related rights therein recognized by the highest court of a sovereign U.S. state is ultimately not worth the hassle of moving to Iowa, longtime partners Danny Mindlin and Alex Small determined Monday. “Alex and I want to grow old together, but we’d have to drive six hours just to get a mezzaluna at Restoration Hardware,” said Mindlin, who claimed he “couldn’t survive” without a strawberry frosted cupcake from Amy’s Bread after yoga every Thursday. “And where would we summer? Dubuque? I think we’ll just buy a townhouse and live in an unrecognized union with beautiful granite countertops instead.” The couple told reporters that their plans to adopt also weighed heavily in the decision, since they want to raise a child who is healthy, balanced, and “not tacky.”

Tee-hee

-jb

Five Dead in Baghdad

May 11, 2009 in Uncategorized

If you pray, then remember the families of the soldiers cut down in their prime today.

If you blog, right or left, have the decency to avoid getting on your hobby-horse about it. Things like this aren’t unique to the Iraq conflict, and aren’t the fault of whatever politician or ideology you’ve been told not to like. Things like this have been happening in war since Achilles dragged Hector’s body before the gates of the city. War means lots of death, and proximity to lots of death makes people lose their minds sometimes. Good people lose their bearings. If it helps, you can say that such people – often loving fathers or sons – have gone “evil,” but it shakes out the same. Let’s join in mourning the loss of our countrymen’s lives. We are diminished by their loss.
-TT

Your liberal media.

May 09, 2009 in Uncategorized

Sunday morning line-up; David Petraeus, Newt Gingrich and Dick Cheney.

Somalia: Libertarian Paradise.

May 06, 2009 in Uncategorized

The video reminded me of the entry for “Invisible Hand” that I recently read on Conservapedia:

Economist Adam Smith is credited with discovering and promoting the concept of the invisible hand, and it propelled the British Empire to become the greatest power in the history of the world in the 19th century.

Cuz everybody knows that the Queen’s Navy was a privately run enterprise, theories are “discovered” and Britain was the “greatest power in the history of the world in the 19th century”. Huh? Now, if you will please pardon me, I have to finish constructing the toll-booth I’m erecting on my sidewalk out front of the house. It’s hard to believe that nobody has ever made one thin dime off of that valuable stretch of concrete!

-mg

Dead Civilians.

May 06, 2009 in Uncategorized

The fastest way to lose a nation and expedite what is sure to be failure in Afghanistan. All of the lofty “hearts and minds” rhetoric in the world is no match for images of truck loads of dead women and children.

On Tuesday, the head of provincial council in Farah, Muhammad Nazir, said he had seen 20 to 25 bodies of women and children brought in two trucks to a regional administrative center. Eight or nine people, mostly children, were still in the provincial hospital, he said. But, he said, the precise toll was not yet clear.

He said the raids, which took place in the village of Granai in the Bala Baluk district of the province on Monday, had made local people “very furious” against both the Afghan government and American and NATO forces. But he blamed the deaths on a Taliban tactic of attacking police posts to provoke airstrikes that risked civilian casualties…

“These houses that were full of children and women and elders were bombed by planes. It is very difficult to say how many were killed because nobody can count the number, it is too early,” Mr. Qadderdan, who no longer holds a government position, told The A.P. by telephone. “People are digging through rubble with shovels and hands.”

No doubt about it, we’re going to be sent packing from Afghanistan. The only question that remains is how much blood and treasure we’re willing to dump into that mess before we finally relent.

-mg

There are no LULZ here.

May 06, 2009 in Corporate shenanigans

funny pictures of cats with captions

Only this:

-jb

Wait a minute…

May 05, 2009 in Corporate shenanigans, Politics

Quick recap: The right works through repetition. They repeat it until the MSM repeats it. Even people like myself will instinctively consider them an argumentative roadblock unless I’m careful. Unfortunately, rightwingers are masters of jabbering on endlessly, filling up vacuums with declarations based on nothing more than their desire for them to be true. Now, it doesn’t always originate with them, as they are loyal and dutiful servants of the ultra-rich and powerful. As I pointed out just a few blog-posts ago, when the rich need them to protect their offshore tax havens, they’re already out the door with tearing off their shirts to reveal the “$” bedecked costumes (or simple asshats).

So Michael Lind knocks down another accepted truism that if we ever dare hold our masters accountable for things like war crimes or breaking the country’s banks, nobody will want to take their jobs.

The voluntary expatriation of leading Wall Street geniuses might help to restore the U.S. economy and wreck potential rival financial capitals at the same time. The thought brings to mind the observation by a wag on the defection in the 1970s by John Connally from the Democrats to the Republicans: “He raised the IQ of both parties.”

The American Way, as preached to us by Republicans and the ruling class, is that you fire fuck-ups in order to improve fortunes. Like sudden Fourth Amendment zealot Jane Harman, they’re just trying to sell us peasants gruel they wouldn’t dare eat themselves.

We need the best and the brightest. Torturers and CEOs rewarded double-digit millions for failure are clearly excluded from that description.

-jb

Judicial conservatism.

May 04, 2009 in Legal

Souter, like many a conservative judge, was labeled liberal because his rulings didn’t conform to the dreamwishes of rightwing activists. TNR makes the point that just because his rulings had a liberal result doesn’t mean he wasn’t conservative in interpreting the law.

From 1953, when Earl Warren joined the Supreme Court, until well into the 1970s, the Supreme Court issued one liberal opinion after another–opinions that enhanced protections for criminal suspects, took the government out of American bedrooms, demanded an end to segregation, insisted on equal protection for women, and identified and enforced a woman’s right to choose abortion.

Asking the Supreme Court to overrule these decisions is anything but judicially conservative–it’s downright radical. And when the judicially conservative David Souter was asked to toe the movement line, he insisted on a very conservative response: No. He alone stood for judicially conservative values, insisting on maintaining and supporting the Court’s own doctrine and decisions. He stood by stare decisis.

What the right wants is activist judges for their pet causes like abortion, gay rights, and Christian supremacy. Time and time again, it is revealed that they have no real sound Constitutional philosophy. Their two central tenets are that rights not enumerated in the Constitution do not exist (violating the 9th amendment) and that if people don’t want (by a slim majority) something like abortion or gay marriage legal, then the court shouldn’t overrule them, a rule somehow summarized in the sentence, “Things that make James Dobson mad are more important than the stupid Constitution.”

-jb

Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.

May 04, 2009 in Uncategorized

I’m glad Republicans are in favor of an up or down vote.

-jb

4th grader censored, lied to.

May 04, 2009 in Politics

If you want to act like a journalist, then expect to be treated like one.

Isn’t it interesting to see an elementary school teacher collude with Rice in order to exclude two essential facts: it was torture, it was illegal. Kissing Condi “Nixon Parrot” Rice’s ass takes precedent, because we seem to keep forgetting that they work for us.

A note to journalists: Everybody in America is watching children do your job for you. How does that feel?

-jb

You don’t even need to pick up the phone.

May 04, 2009 in Clueless Conservatives, Disappointing Dems, Politics

Republicans will leap to the defense of tax havens.

Don’t you understand, we need more tax havens! 19,000 business with one address in the Cayman Islands is so…American.

I know, I know…nobody cares what Republicans think anymore. Truth be told, it’s more important to note how Democrats are kneecapping America lately. Ben Nelson sticking himself out in front of health care reform, Senate Democrats only being able to muster 45 of their ranks to help people stay in their homes, and the sheer joy of anticipating all the ways new DINO Arlen Specter will hurt progress are some highlights.

-jb