politics, hypocrisy and meanness in public affairs, alligators, anti-empire-ism, occasional personal stuff

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I borrowed this neat story from The Daily Dish

Matthew Continetti plucks a fascinating anecdote from a decades old newspaper:
On December 13, 1931, there was a traffic accident in New York City. A man exited a cab on the Upper East Side and was crossing Fifth Avenue when he was hit by a car traveling around 35 miles an hour. The force of the impact threw the man to the pavement. He struck his head. Two of his ribs were cracked. A crowd formed around him; one of the witnesses hailed a taxi to take the man to the hospital. When he was admitted to Lenox Hill the doctors noted that he was bruised and battered but would make a full recovery. He had cheated death.

The patient remained in the doctors’ care for eight days. While he was there the driver who had struck him visited. The patient made it clear that the accident had been his own fault; the driver, an unemployed mechanic, had nothing to fear. The incident had occurred because the patient, an Englishman, had looked left as he crossed the street when he should have looked right. The grateful driver left the hospital carrying an autographed copy of the patient’s latest book.
 The New York Times wrote about the meeting the next day. The headline read, “Churchill Greets Driver Who Hit Him.”

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Ho, ho, ho - well, sort of ...

This would be a good day to LOVE the NBA ... or be at the beach ...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Philadelphia mayor (sharp guy) re Kensington Strangler

"I urge all citizens to be smart & safe."

Oh, good. Thanks, Mr. Mayor.

White House Press Secretary (not in 2002, but this week) -

"We're in Afghanistan to disrupt & dismantle al-Qaeda & make sure they can't freely plan attacks like 9/11."

Gee, that sounds familiar. But in the context of an Afghan official carrying $52 Million in suitcases into Dubai, and the Afghan President talking about joining the Taliban, that sounds a little less than reassuring.

Why do we say "Rest in Peace" when someone dies?

Isn't it the case that we either believe that person has gone to Heaven or that person has simply ceased to exist?
Do we say RIP because we can't say, "I can't take the pain of knowing you are gone."

It just keeps on comin' -

There has been political fallout from a WikiLeaks cable related to the U.S. military base on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. The nation of Mauritius announced plans on Tuesday to contest the legality of a new maritime reserve park around the disputed Chagos Islands after a leaked U.S. cable suggested the park was a ploy to stop uprooted islanders returning home. Britain leased the archipelago’s biggest island, Diego Garcia, to the United States in 1966, paving the way for the construction of a huge airbase which required the forced removal of some 2,000 Chagossians. Publicly, the British portrayed the establishment of the marine park as a move to save the environment. But a U.S. diplomatic cable dated May 2009, disclosed by WikiLeaks, revealed that a British Foreign Office official had privately told the Americans that the decision to set up a marine protected area would "effectively end the islanders’ resettlement claims."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

[from The Daily Dish] http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/

No Hope For Change

by Conor Friedersdorf
Bad news from Pro Publica:
The White House is preparing an Executive Order on indefinite detention that will provide periodic reviews of evidence against dozens of prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, according to several administration officials. The draft order, a version of which was first considered nearly 18 months ago, is expected to be signed by President Obama early in the New Year. The order allows for the possibility that detainees from countries like Yemen might be released if circumstances there change.
But the order establishes indefinite detention as a long-term Obama administration policy and makes clear that the White House alone will manage a review process for those it chooses to hold without charge or trial.
A broken campaign promise is the least of it.
Says Doug Mataconis:
Ruling by Executive Decree is not compatible with life in a democratic republic, and the failure of Congress to act here has been unconscionable.
Jazz Shaw:
Going through the details of this plan, a shorter translation might be, “We still oppose the policies of George W. Bush regarding indefinite detention without trial for any suspect, so we’re going to handle every aspect of the situation differently unless we can’t.”
Max Read:
On the plus side, now that we've abandoned even the pretense of a commitment to universal civil rights, no one will ever die in a terrorist attack.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Will it stop raining?

I think this is 6 days in a row in southern California - and that is non-stop rain, not on and off. It is forecast to continue all this week. Depression - over the ocean and in my mind. Ironic how so many people say this is the most wonderful time of the year.

Monday, December 20, 2010

It is worse than I thought -

78 Percent of Americans Doubt Evolution

President Obama’s new science guidelines couldn’t come soon enough: A new Gallup poll shows 78 percent of Americans doubt the traditional scientific view of evolution: 40 percent of Americans believe that God created mankind 10,000 years ago; another 38 percent believe in intelligent design. Just 16 percent, meanwhile, believe in the scientific view of “secular evolution”—though that’s up from a mere 9 percent in 1982. [Gallup]
U.S. Collecting Data on Citizens

Advertisers aren't the only ones looking to track your movements: The United States is collecting, storing, and analyzing data on thousands of American citizens, even though many of them are accused of no wrongdoing. According to The Washington Post, the government is trying to build an intelligence apparatus where every state and local law enforcement agency feeds its information to the FBI. Many of these techniques were originally developed for use in Iraq and Afghanistan; the database is made up of people who local police officers or citizens believe have acted suspiciously. [Washington Post]

Musings at midnight

How did it all get so crazy? My friend is in Europe, visiting relatives, right now - if she gets sick, she will be provided health care by the (SOCIALIST!) health care system. But when she gets home - since she has no health insurance - she will not be provided with health care. And she is an American citizen who has worked all her life. To ask that she - and I, who also have no health insurance - be covered for health care is to be assaulted by many of our country(wo)men and elected officials (who have government-provided (socialist?) health care insurance). And we are each in our 60's, so that we are having more than a lot of trouble getting employment. Maybe we are just in the way, since America is all about progress and productivity and youth.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The U.S. once believed in science, worked for technology.

New Gallup Poll: 40% of Americans believe in Creationism. 60% believe in reality.


Friday, December 17, 2010

"Surgical" strikes? [BBC]

Nearly 60 people have been killed in a series of attacks by US drones in the past 24 hours in Pakistan's Khyber tribal district, officials say.

At least 50 died in three unmanned air strikes in the Tirah Valley, a day after seven others were killed nearby.
Security officials say all the dead in the attacks are militants - a claim that cannot be independently confirmed. [Ed. - ALL THE DEAD ARE KNOWN TO BE MILITANTS ATTACKING U.S. FORCES? Right.]

Meanwhile, the CIA has withdrawn its top spy from Pakistan, amid threats to his life, US intelligence confirms. [Ed. - the irony of this person being withdrawn from orchestrating more killing because his life is in danger is too rich for me to comment on.]

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Just wondering

Is there ANY music worse than pseudo-rock Christmas music?
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christopher Hitchens (Slate) after hearing latest Nixon-Kissinger tapes -

I cannot improve on these words about the cretinous Kissinger:
Here's what should now happen, and let's see if it does. Henry Kissinger should have the door shut in his face by every decent person and should be shamed, ostracized, and excluded. No more dinners in his honor; no more respectful audiences for his absurdly overpriced public appearances; no more smirking photographs with hostesses and celebrities; no more soliciting of his worthless opinions by sycophantic editors and producers. One could have demanded this at almost any time during the years since his role as the only unindicted conspirator in the Nixon/Watergate gang, and since the exposure of his war crimes and crimes against humanity in Indochina, Chile, Argentina, Cyprus, East Timor, and several other places. But the latest revelations from the Nixon Library might perhaps turn the scale at last. (Click here to listen to the conversation; the offending section begins at 13:56.)
Chatting eagerly with his famously racist and foul-mouthed boss in March 1973, following an appeal from Golda Meir to press Moscow to allow the emigration of Soviet Jewry, Kissinger is heard on the tapes to say:
The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy. And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern.
(One has to love that uneasy afterthought …)
In the past, Kissinger has defended his role as enabler to Nixon's psychopathic bigotry, saying that he acted as a restraining influence on his boss by playing along and making soothing remarks. This can now go straight into the lavatory pan, along with his other hysterical lies. Obsessed as he was with the Jews, Nixon never came close to saying that he'd be indifferent to a replay of Auschwitz. For this, Kissinger deserves sole recognition.
It's hard to know how to classify this observation in the taxonomy of obscenity. Should it be counted as tactical Holocaust pre-denial? That would be too mild. It's actually a bit more like advance permission for another Holocaust. Which is why I wonder how long the official spokesmen of American Jewry are going to keep so quiet. Nothing remotely as revolting as this was ever uttered by Jesse Jackson or even Mel Gibson, to name only two famous targets of the wrath of the Anti-Defamation League. Where is the outrage? Is Kissinger—normally beseeched for comments on subjects about which he knows little or nothing—going to be able to sit out requests from the media that he clarify this statement? Does he get to keep his op-ed perch in reputable newspapers with nothing said? Will the publishers of his mendacious and purloined memoirs continue to give him expensive lunches as if nothing has happened?
After I published my book calling for his indictment, many of Kissinger's apologists said that, rough though his methods might have been, they were at least directed at defeating Communism. I never quite saw how the genocide in East Timor, say, had any effect in eroding the Berlin Wall. But I also pointed out that Kissinger did many favors for the heirs of Stalin and Mao: telling President Gerald Ford not to invite Alexander Solzhenitsyn to the White House, for example, and making lavish excuses for the massacre in Tiananmen Square. He is that rare and foul beast, a man whose record shows sympathy for communism and fascism. It comes from a natural hatred of the democratic process, which he has done so much to subvert and undermine at home and abroad, and an instinctive affection for totalitarians of all stripes. True, full membership in this bestiary probably necessitates that you say something at least vicariously approving about the Final Solution. What's striking about the Nixon tapes is that they show Kissinger managing this ugly feat without anyone even asking him. May my seasonal call be heeded: Let this character at last be treated like the reeking piece of ordure that he is.

How can this be a country ...

... in which advertisers urge us to tell our doctors about our medical conditions. I thought doctors told us about our medical conditions. Very strange.

Monday, December 13, 2010

On this day of Brett Favre's streak ending -

I'll mention some of sports heroes:

1. Bill White - Cards First-baseman 1959-65 - His arrival in 1959 caused Stan Musial to move back to the outfield because White was the best-fielding 1st baseman in the NL; he won the Glove Glove 1960-65, was always a gentleman, always played the game right, showed up every day - focused, hit for average & power, drove in runs, played with the highest intelligence. He was my favorite player during his whole career with the Cards - from my age of 11 to 17 ... and this on a team with Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Tim McCarver, Curt Flood, Ken Boyer (who'd be in the Hall of Fame if he'd played on the East Coast) and Lou Brock.

He is the only athlete to whom I ever wrote a fan letter - (1) when the Cardinals traded him and (2) upon his retirement.

Bill White showed us how to play the game, and how to be a man, a gentleman and a baseball player ... every day of his career.

2. Curt Flood - He was simply the best centerfielder I ever saw, and I saw him in a Cardinal uniform from 1958 through 1969. He won seven straight Gold Gloves, in a consistent Gold Glove trio of outfield winners during those years of Curt,  Roberto Clemente and Willie Mays.

As with White, Curt Flood showed us - every day - how to play the game: with excellence, focus and a complete lack of self-aggrandizement.  He could bunt, hit to the right side, hit for average and drive in runs. But his outfield play was unsurpassed. Twice, I saw him run up the concrete wall (in cleats, one or two steps) and catch fly balls. Steel cleats hitting concrete results in quite a jolt, but I was there and saw him do it.

And then, it was Curt who set the stage for free agency of pro athletes when he refused a trade in the winter of 1969, after 12 seasons as a Cardinal, saying, "I am not a piece of meat." In a disgraceful 5-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that he was, in fact, a piece of meat; but the dam broke soon after. As with Jackie Robinson, Curt died of a broken heart before age 60. But he had shown us how to live.

Help me understand -

If the government of Pakistan states that it has limited or no authority in some areas/provinces/territories, why are those considered part of Pakistan? Yes, the British drew a lot of lines - 1820-1967 - but why does not the Pakistani government say, for example, "The so-called Tribal Areas and The Northwest Autonomous Provinces are not part of our country. We can't control events there. We get nothing from there. They run their own show. They see us as foreigners. We won't send our soldiers in there to die, anymore"?

Friday, December 10, 2010

wikileaks as seen by Ron Paul [per Mediaite]

Ron Paul is nothing if not an conservative iconoclast. The Texas Republican House Representative, with deep libertarian roots is taking a counter-intuitive departure from the traditional and established GOP rhetoric on the issue of WikiLeaks. In an impassioned speech on the U.S. House floor, Paul likened the attack on Julian Assange to “killing the messenger for bringing bad news” before providing nine provocative questions for Americans to consider.
Mr. Paul concluded his speech with a list of questions for the American citizens to consider, the transcript of which is below (via FromTheOld.)
Number 1: Do the America People deserve know the truth regarding the ongoing wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen?
Number 2: Could a larger question be how can an army private access so much secret information?
Number 3: Why is the hostility directed at Assange, the publisher, and not at our governments failure to protect classified information?
Number 4: Are we getting our moneys worth of the 80 Billion dollars per year spent on intelligence gathering?
Number 5: Which has resulted in the greatest number of deaths: lying us into war or Wikileaks revelations or the release of the Pentagon Papers?
Number 6: If Assange can be convicted of a crime for publishing information that he did not steal, what does this say about the future of the first amendment and the independence of the internet?
Number 7: Could it be that the real reason for the near universal attacks on Wikileaks is more about secretly maintaining a seriously flawed foreign policy of empire than it is about national security?
Number 8: Is there not a huge difference between releasing secret information to help the enemy in a time of declared war, which is treason, and the releasing of information to expose our government lies that promote secret wars, death and corruption?
Number 9: Was it not once considered patriotic to stand up to our government when it is wrong?

The Empire Strikes - troops in 177 countries, special forces in 75

From testimony of Jeremy Scahill, National Security correspondent for The Nation magazine, before the House Judiciary Committee, yesterday:

These ongoing shadow wars confirm an open secret that few in Congress are willing to discuss publicly--particularly Democrats: When it comes to US counterterrorism policy, there has been almost no substantive change from the Bush to the Obama administration. In fact, my sources within the CIA and the Special Operations community tell me that if there is any change it is that President Obama is hitting harder and in more countries that President Bush. The Obama administration is expanding covert actions of the military and the number of countries where US Special Forces are operating. The administration has taken the Bush era doctrine that the "world is a battlefield" and run with it and widened its scope. Under the Bush administration, US Special Forces were operating in 60 countries. Under President Obama, they are now in 75 nations.
The Obama administration's expansion of Special Forces activities globally stems from a classified order dating back to the Bush administration. Originally signed in early 2004 by then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, it is known as the “AQN ExOrd," or Al Qaeda Network Execute Order. The AQN ExOrd was intended to cut through bureaucratic and legal processes, allowing US Special Forces to move into “denied” areas or countries beyond the official battle zones of Iraq and Afghanistan.
As a Special Operations veteran told me, "The ExOrd spells out that we reserve the right to unilaterally act against al Qaeda and its affiliates anywhere in the world that they operate." The current mindset in the White House, he told me, is that "the Pentagon is already empowered to do these things, so let the Joint Special Operations Command off the leash. And that's what this White House has done." He added: "JSOC has been more empowered more under this administration than any other in recent history. No question." "The Obama administration took the [Bush-era] order and went above and beyond," he said. "The world is the battlefield, we've returned to that."

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Via Greg Mitchell (The Nation)

New piece from Paris by NYT's Steve Erlanger opens: "The United States considers itself a shining beacon of democracy and openness, but for many Europeans,  Washington’s fierce reaction to the flood of secret diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks displays imperial arrogance and hypocrisy, indicating a post-9/11 obsession with secrecy that contradicts American principles."
But I guess that is just what you get from cheese-eating, white wine drinking French people.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Really, she's teasing, right? No one could be this stupid ...?

Palin is un-Australian: Sarah Palin calls Julian Assange "unamerican". Let's file that under "no shit, Sherlock".
Really, fellow citizens - do we have a politics that is currently dominated by people who "think" like this?

I fear that it is all over but the shoutin'.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Say it ain't so -

Iraq & Afghanistan are declining invitations to attend the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony after China threatened consequences to nations that attend (because a Chinese dissident is the honoree).

Iraq and Afghanistan - hmmm, those country names ring some kind of bell relating to American foreign policy & efforts to create democracy - now, if I could just remember what it was.

Monday, December 06, 2010

From a Der Spiegel interview w/former Carter Nat'l Sec. Advisor

SPIEGEL: And the American decline. Are Americans aware of that trend or does the fate of Carter await President Barak Obama should he openly address the issue?
Brzezinski: I am very worried that most Americans are close to total ignorance about the world. They are ignorant. That is an unhealthy condition in a country in which foreign policy has to be endorsed by the people if it is to be pursued. And it makes it much more difficult for any president to pursue an intelligent policy that does justice to the complexity of the world.
SPIEGEL: Yet the American right is still convinced of American exceptionalism.
Brzezinski: That is a reaction to the inability of people to understand global complexity or important issues like American energy dependency. Therefore, they search for simplistic sources of comfort and clarity. And the people that they are now selecting to be, so to speak, the spokespersons of their anxieties are, in most cases, stunningly ignorant.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

I must still be dreaming -

Speculation that Roger C. Altman, a prominent Wall Street investment banker and former Treasury deputy secretary, is a leading candidate to become the next director of President Obama’s National Economic Council reignited on Friday when he was seen at the White House for a second time in recent weeks.

White House officials said Mr. Obama was far from making a decision, but time is running out for finding a replacement for the current director, Lawrence H. Summers.

The White House has said that Mr. Obama would like to recruit someone with business experience, in part to repair the administration’s strained relations with the corporate community.[NYT]

[Lemme see, now - corporate profits at record high; tax breaks for the rich; Congress in the pocket of the very wealthy - "repair strained relations with the corporate community?"]

Friday, December 03, 2010

I did not make this up -

A British Member of Parliament will not appeal after failed attempt to contest election court ruling that he can no longer sit as MP because he made false statements about opponent.

That's right - an election court found that this MP lied about his opponent in the recent election, so he lost his right to sit in Parliament. If we had this procedure in the U.S. would there be ANY sitting members of Congress? Maybe 2 or 3.

I must have been dreaming.

I dreamed that our Prez, in the midst of (1) a recession and (2) a budget deficit flew w/an entourage to Afghanistan for a 3-hour visit ... to meet with the troops.

Damn - I hate nightmares.

Thursday, December 02, 2010


1. Bush Tax Cuts were enacted (a) temporarily [10 years, then sunset] (b) by Republicans (c) via reconciliation and (d) by a vote of 51-50 in the Senate, with V-P Cheney casting the deciding vote.
2. Now, Republicans say that (a) it would be a tax increase NOT to extend temporary tax cuts that they enacted as temporary and (b) they will filibuster any effort [so that it will take 60 Senate votes] to grant equivalent tax cuts on the first $250,000.00 of income, starting on January 1st.
So, It was OK to pass by reconciliation a drastic change in the tax code, and it was OK to make it temporary; but when they screech about balancing the budget, they will require that 60 votes, rather than 51, be acquired in order to pass a continuation of tax cuts for everyone, WHILE blaming this problem on the Democrats - YET THE DEMS CANNOT GET IT TOGETHER SUFFICIENTLY TO BLOW THE REPUBLICANS' COVER!
3. Fail. Pathetic.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

What's wrong with this statement?

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to play a larger role in Afghanistan.

Hint: geography.