Archive for November, 2010
Bravo to WikiLeaks for restoring distrust in the U.S.government:
International scandals—such as the one precipitated by this week’s WikiLeaks cable dump—serve us by illustrating how our governments work. Better than any civics textbook, revisionist history, political speech, bumper sticker, or five-part investigative series, an international scandal unmasks presidents and kings, military commanders and buck privates, cabinet secretaries and diplomats, corporate leaders and bankers, and arms-makers and arms-merchants as the bunglers, liars, and double-dealers they are.
As the Economist put it yesterday, “secrecy is necessary for national security and effective diplomacy.” But it “is also inevitable that the prerogative of secrecy will be used to hide the misdeeds of the permanent state and its privileged agents.”
Assange and WikiLeaks, while not perfect, have punctured the prerogative of secrecy with their recent revelations. The untold story is that while doing the United States’ allies, adversaries, and enemies a favor with his leaks, he’s doing the United States the biggest favor by holding it accountable.
Moral of the story? Never, ever, trust what the government tells you. (Listen up Tea Partiers.)
Howard Fineman just now on Countdown (paraphrasing): “Everybody in this town knows that President Obama favors extending the tax cuts to average Americans and the wealthy.”
So, Obama has pimped us again and our letter-writing campaigns and phone calls are a waste of time.
Fool me once — as in the fight over the public option (or Gitmo, Afghanistan, Iraq, DADT) — fool me twice and I’ll put food on my family.
Yeah. I’m losing it.
I am so, so, so discouraged.
I mean, I didn’t dream it. Obama vowed — during the campaign — to rescind tax cuts for people making over $250,000.
237 Democrats and 21 Republicans voted in favor of the bill.
15 chickenshit Republicans and 7 chickenshit Democrats didn’t vote.
I volunteer at a food bank. Looks like we’re going to have more clients than ever (we’re already overwhelmed): Food Banks Bracing For End of Extended Unemployment Benefits.
Thanks, you heartless assholes. You have ice in your veins.
Perfect timing: How the Grinch Stole Christmas is going to be on the teevee tonight.
Check out the insanely cool deconstruction of the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” (from the Let it Bleed album) over at Dangerous Minds — separate tracks for vocals (perfection), the drums and Keith Richards’ kick ass rhythm guitar track.
Have you ever seen this ad for Fox News? Fox released it just weeks after the ’08 election.
Checkout the explosions. The fires. The terror, despair and anger in people’s faces. Listen to the music. Note the countdown at the end (10, 9, 8, etc.) and the explosion that caps it all off. Oh, and look – the only nationally known people pictured are Joe Biden, Rahm Emanuel and Barack Obama.
I posted it at the Newshounds on November 25, 2008 (before Obama was inaugurated) after having seen it two days in a row. It was so out of the norm for them that the first time I saw it I, well, I wasn’t sure what I’d seen. It took a second time before I realized they were serious and it was in fact a Fox News promo.
I stumbled upon it just now and thought I’d put it up here.
Turns out, it set the stage for the dark, scary picture Fox has painted of Obama ever since.
Oh dear God. There is no connection whatsoever between Wikipedia and WikiLeaks but Professor Glenn Beck doesn’t seem to grasp that. Hey, they sound the same so they must be the same, right?
I know being stupid is in vogue on the right these days but sometimes you know, it isn’t all that impressive.
(While I was blogging at the Newhounds, Fox defenders would troll the pages and jump on me (and all of us) if I so much as misplaced a comma. Yes, they were sticklers for perfection, claiming that any mistake showed how dumb I was. If I misplaced a comma then I was surely totally sloppy about the facts too so nothing I wrote could be believed. But heh, if Glenn Beck doesn’t know the difference between two huge websites, no problem.)
Extreme winger Rep. Steve King (R-IA) spoke last night on the floor of the House about the “Pigford settlement,” the multi-billion dollar settlement to African-American farmers and American Indians who were “discriminated against in recent decades by government agencies” (which King is against, of course). Included in King’s remarks was this:
“Figure this out, Madame Speaker: We have a very, very urban Senator, Barack Obama, who has decided he’s going to run for president, and what does he do?” King said. “He introduces legislation to create a whole new Pigford claim.”
He then said the claims — which stem from discrimination against black farmers in the 1980s and 1990s – “slavery reparations.”
What’s a “very, very urban” Senator” and what does it have to do with anything? Nothing of course, but King is trying to paint a picture of Obama, but what kind of picture? Is “very, very urban” akin to very, very gay? Very, very metrosexual?
I don’t get it. Maybe Fox-watching, 70+-year-old angry white guys do.
Karl Rove tweets that the Obama administration is weak in the face of WikiLeaks:
Yep. This is the same guy who outed Valerie Plame, a top CIA agent, and got away with it. Didn’t hear him complaining how weak the Bush administration was in the face of that.
Don’t miss this cartoon by the Guardian‘s Steve Bell.
Found this email from the Tea Party Nation in my inbox this morning:
I know the text is tiny — can’t make it any bigger — this is what it says:
Subject: No Mr. Assange, I expect you to die
A message to all members of Tea Party Nation
Everyone remembers the famous scene in the James Bond movie, “Goldfinger.” 007′s nemesis has captured him,tied him down and a laser is cutting its way through metal, between Bond’s legs, where it will eventually cut him in half.
007 says, “Do you expect me to talk?” And Goldfinger responds, “No Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.”
Isn’t it about time we sent that message to Jullian [sic] Assange?
Seems to me one could take this as a formal death threat.
Insofar as President Obama proposed freezing the wages of Federal workers today (people who had nothing to do with the financial crisis the world is in), I’m looking to Wall Street executives pitching in and rolling back their Christmas bonuses and freezing their employees’ pay.
You know, it’s a “shared sacrifice” kinda thing.
Stay tuned here for BREAKING NEWS, as soon as it happens.
Apropos of my post below, here’s Greg Mitchell:
WikiLeaks is going after the banks. Can’t wait!
This is part of the transcript of a conversation between Andy Greenberg of Forbes magazine and Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks:
Megaleaks. That’s good. These megaleaks…They’re an important phenomenon, and they’re only going to increase. When there’s a tremendous dataset, covering a whole period of history or affecting a whole group of people, that’s worth specializing on and doing a unique production for each one, which is what we’ve done.
We’re totally source dependent. We get what we get. As our profile rises in a certain area, we get more in a particular area. People say, why don’t you release more leaks form the Taliban. So I say hey, help us, tell more Taliban dissidents about us.
These megaleaks, as you call them that, we haven’t seen any of those from the private sector.
No, not at the same scale for the military.
Yes. We have one related to a bank coming up, that’s a megaleak. It’s not as big a scale as the Iraq material, but it’s either tens or hundreds of thousands of documents depending on how you define it.
Is it a U.S. bank?
Yes, it’s a U.S. bank.
One that still exists?
Yes, a big U.S. bank.
The biggest U.S. bank?
When will it happen?
Early next year. I won’t say more.
Take care Julian.
I think his life is probably in more danger now, with this talk of exposing a big bank — hey, “they own the place” — than it was when he began dropping the cables his week.
See posts below.
Can you hear me (screaming) now?
In the first test of Washington’s new political alignment, President Barack Obama will meet with Republican leaders Tuesday with the nation’s tax rates and a nuclear arms treaty in doubt.
“My hope is that tomorrow’s meeting will mark a first step toward a new and productive working relationship,” Obama said Monday, “because we now have a shared responsibility to deliver for the American people on the issues that define not only these times but our future.”
I know psychologists and psychiatrists aren’t supposed to offer an opinion as to a person’s mental state without actually sitting down with them but do any of you know of any profiles of Obama out there?
The guy has some real problems and I’d love to read a professional’s take on him.
I mean, what kind of mental illness is it when you can’t see what’s in front of you and see that it’s the same thing — or worse — than what’s been in front of you FOR TWO YEARS!?
It’s pretty hard to get behind the Democrats when folks like Greg Sargent, the Washington Post’s D.C. political blogger (first sentence) and Jake Trapper of ABC News send out tweets like this:
What a tragedy. I can imagine the title of books written three, five years from now: How Democrats Abandoned Their Responsibility to the United States. Or, What Would Have Been Different Had the United States Had Two Strong Political Parties in the Early 21st Century? Or, How Republicans Destroyed the United States — With Nary a Whimper from Democrats.
Geez. So depressing.
State Department documents released by whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks provided candid views of foreign leaders and sensitive information on terrorism and nuclear proliferation, the New York Times reported on Sunday.
The documents show Saudi donors remain chief financiers of militant groups like al Qaeda…
This morning, President Obama, a/k/a President Gimmick, proposed freezing the pay of Federal workers for two years to “demonstrate concern over sky-high deficit spending,” a “symbolic gesture that will reduce federal spending by less than 0.05 percent.”
President Obama has apparently bought into the conservative meme that Federal workers make too much money so their pay should be knocked down a notch or three so they’re as bad off as the rest of us — instead of embracing the progressive notion that wages of the rest of us should more evenly match those of Federal workers because their pay is more in line with the current cost of goods and services, thus they have a higher standard of living. In sort: Bring us all down instead of raising us all up.
So, 24-hours before meeting with John
Boehner Boner and Mitch McDonnell in the White House for what he hopes will be a bipartisan cum-bay-ah, Obama behaves like a Republican either because he believe their philosophy about keeping wages down, or he’s making a peace-offering to the Republicans, or both.
Whatever he’s doing, it only took a few hours for him to come out looking like a total fool:
Eric Cantor, the number two in the House GOP leadership, seized on the news as proof that Republicans, not Obama, are setting the governing agenda. Cantor said he was “encouraged” by Obama’s proposal, noting that House Republicans had already “offered the very same spending-cut proposal on the floor of the House.” Cantor continued:
“We are pleased that President Obama appears ready to join our efforts. As the recent election made clear, Americans are fed up with a government that spends too much, borrows too much and grows too much.”
In other words, Republicans are simply pointing to this as proof that Obama agrees with their interpretation of the elections and in response is now willing to follow their script.
If Obama doesn’t fight with all he’s got for an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the rich, and if he signs a bill extending them — coupled with this stupid move today — that’ll signal to me that he has fully crossed over to the other side. The Republicans will play him like a fiddle until November, 2012 when he’ll be voted out of office for being one of the weakest presidents ever.
UPDATE: Came across this which pretty much says it all:
UPDATE II: More stupid planning on Obama’s part: Freeze pay for two years? Two years? That brings us to November/December 2012 when Republicans will more than likely take over the government. They’ll keep the freeze in place.
Yo, Obama. If you insist, extend the freeze for one year. For God’s sake, don’t create a trap of your own making.
Hello. Anybody home?
Too bad the birthers aren’t putting their energy into taking a case to the Supreme Court asking it to overturn Citizens United:
The Supreme Court has again cast aside an appeal that raised doubts about President Barack Obama’s U.S. citizenship, a grass-roots legal issue that has gained little legal or political footing, but continues to persist in the courts.
The justices without comment Monday rejected a challenge from Charles Kerchner Jr., a Pennsylvania man who sought a trial in federal court forcing the president to produce documents regarding his birth and citizenship.
In our Orwellian society, waterboarding turns into “enhanced interrogation,” the TSA’s “body scanners” which telegraph pictures of our naked bodies are merely “machines,” and invasive, pornographic body searches morph into “love pats:”
This would be Missouri Senator, Democrat Clair McCaskill:
Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri said prior to Pistole’s testimony that she believed TSA was in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation, because people would be hopping mad at TSA if Christmas bomber Umar Farouk Adbulmutallab had succeeded. She went on to say the new advanced imaging technology–which has caused uproar because of its leave-no-secrets imaging and potential health risks–is more of a blessing than a curse.
“I’m wildly excited that I can walk through a machine instead of getting my dose of love pats,” Sen. McCaskill said.
That’s right. Love pats:
As the financial crisis, caused by lax regulation of American banks, ripples around the world, it is the citizens of affected countries who are being penalized, not the bankers and the fat cats who caused the crisis.
The people of the United States wrote a $700 billion check to banks and big corporations during the last days of the Bush administration (TARP) but the economy still sucks so now the powers that be are talking about cutting Medicare and Social Security. The bankers are still sitting in their corner offices but the small people are the ones who are being asked to pay the price for the economy they wrecked.
The same thing is happening to the small people in Ireland:
Ireland has lost. The EU has lost. We are both just pawns of European banks and the ECB, writes FINTAN O’TOOLE
This is not a rescue plan. It is the longest ransom note in history: do what we tell you and you may, in time, get your country back.
The extent of the abandonment of Irish national interests is clear from three aspects of the deal.
The interest rate, at almost 6 per cent, is viciously extortionate.
The National Pension Reserve Fund, which is all we’ve got left for strategic investment to rebuild our economy, is to handed over – in a brazen example of “demanding money with menaces” – to failed banks.
The disastrous banking strategy is to be continued: “an intensification of the measures already adopted by the Government” is the Government’s own phrase. And a savage attack on low-paid workers, in the form of a huge reduction in the minimum wage, is to be written into a binding agreement.
Would the Irish people, if asked, vote for any of these measures as decent solutions to our very real dilemmas? That the answer is so obviously “no” tells us the brutal truth: Irish democracy has been abandoned by a zombie government.
A weak, demoralised rump administration, served by the same Department of Finance that oversaw the gestation of the crisis, went into bat against the big powers of global finance.
A government that was spooked and stampeded by the small-time bullies of the Irish banks was never going to be able to stand up to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank (ECB).
The losers, however, are not the Irish governing classes, who have shown themselves so impervious to shame. They are the Irish people, whose sense of democratic citizenship has been rudely stripped away.
And to the small people in Greece:
A whole raft of measures, which include huge cuts to Greece’s public sector, have been announced since December last year, when the Greek government acknowledged the need to tackle Greece’s dire public finances.
The government is planning a pay freeze for all public sector workers.
Some pay cuts will also be implemented, and public sector contract workers are set to lose their jobs.
In the private sector, the legal maximum number of people companies can lay off each month will be doubled from 2% of personnel to 4%.
Under the planned changes, the retirement age, which is currently 65 years for men and 60 years for women, will be linked to average life expectancy.
In addition, the minimum number of years someone will have had to have worked to qualify for a full pension will rise to 40 years from 37.
Pensions will also be reduced so that they reflect a worker’s average working pay rather than their final salary.
ndirect taxes – including those on alcohol, fuel and cigarettes – will see a 10% rise.
And now this new measure in the U.S.: Obama Proposes Freezes on Federal-Worker Pay:
President Barack Obama on Monday proposed a two-year salary freeze for all federal civilian employees, ahead of negotiations with Congress on deficit-cutting that are likely to dominate Washington next year.
The freeze, which would require congressional approval, would affect about two million workers and cover calendar years 2011 and 2012.
Though in effect for two years, the proposed freeze would save $28 billion over five years and more than $60 billion over 10 years as the government pockets savings from a lower wage base for its civilian work force, said Jeffrey Zients, deputy White House budget director for management.
Workers were due to have a 1.4% pay raise in 2011. Federal wages generally rise each year in step with inflation, though Congress often makes adjustments.
“Clearly this is a difficult decision,” Mr. Zients said, lauding federal workers as dedicated civil servants. “The president is clearly asking them to make a sacrifice.”
When are the people who caused this crisis going to be asked to “make a sacrifice?” Never. We’re witnessing the pillaging (both physically and economically) of the entire planet by a small group of indescribably powerful and wealthy individuals.
Here’s the current tab of the number of lives lost due to the documents WikiLeaks has leaked over roughly the last 12 months:
American officials in recent days have warned repeatedly that the release of documents by WikiLeaks could put people’s lives in danger.
But despite similar warnings ahead of the previous two massive releases of classified U.S. intelligence reports by the website, U.S. officials concede that they have no evidence to date that the documents led to anyone’s death.
Tweet of the day (or maybe the decade):
I’ve been thinking — as most of us have — about how the United States is slipping farther and farther behind in so many areas, from energy independence to our infrastructure to health care to the number of us who live in poverty and/or are “food insecure,” to our basic understanding of history and science. Lo and behold, someone beat me to putting those thoughts into words: Peter Daou:
Here’s the farce: From Bush to Palin, Gingrich to Limbaugh, the Tea Party to the GOP, any claim to American exceptionalism is being undermined. Spurred by the simplistic and contorted worldview of the aforementioned, science is under assault, the environment is being ravaged, women’s right and gay rights are regressing, religious tolerance is evaporating, civil liberties are being dismantled, wealth disparities are exploding, privacy is disappearing, and wars are being waged with no end.
It’s a nightmarish joke that Republicans and Tea Partiers want to assail President Obama for denying American exceptionalism, while doing everything possible to undercut it.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe in the ridiculous notion that God has granted the United States a special place in the universe that places it above all other nations, but Republicans and Tea Partiers do believe that. Yet, as Peter writes, even though they make the most noise about our supposed exceptionalism being undermined, they’re the ones who are promulgating policies and social agendas that do so.
I just saw David Sanger, The New York Time‘s “Chief Washington Correspondent” on CNN (@10:15 p.m. ET).
Sanger said the Times went to the administration (not vice versa) and asked what it should redact from the WikiLeaks document dump.
So, the most revered newspaper in the United States checks with the government before it prints stuff?
We’re talkin’ Pravda here folks.
OK. I did something I said I’d never do: I watched a few minutes of an episode of “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” today.
She takes a lot of road trips in a big RV with Todd (who seems to be mute) with a miscellaneous kid or niece or nephew or three and she goes on boats and “bush planes” a lot, which she reminds us are very dangerous. More fatalities in bush planes in Alaska than anywhere else on the planet. Dang. Er. Ous!
Wherever she is is “the most beautiful place in the world.”
She walked a few hundred feet across a glacier loaded down with crampons, ropes and a huge backpack but the only thing she ever actually used was one rope while she climbed a rock face — whining about how she’s “afraid of heights” (as in being the governor of a state much less the president?) but she’s ah, “not a quitter.”
She, Todd and — I forget who — Bristol? or was it Myers? Squibb? — went to a shooting range and Sarah let on that her girlfriends threw a shower for her at a shooting range when she was pregnant with her first kid.
Sarah and Bristol went fishing for halibut. After dragging a halibut onto the deck of a boat by sticking three huge hooks in its neck, Palin urged Bristol to “stun” it by hitting it on the head with a mallet. Bristol did and things looked to be fine until the camera panned down and showed the poor fish gasping for air.
Killing seems to be high on Palin’s list of fun things to do.
(Gee. I wonder if shooting wolves from an airplane will be featured in an upcoming episode. They could land the plane and if the wolf isn’t dead — “just” writhing in pain — they could pan down on that too. And then Sarah could step up and blow its brains out to show how tough she is — that she’s “not a quitter.”)
Oh, and one last thing. Palin’s Blackberry is with her at all times, just in case she needs to send out an attack tweet or a Facebook entry while she’s out there in “the most beautiful place in the world.”
I love, love, love Julian Assange’s cut-to-the chase, take no prisoners, fearless letters to the United States government about the pending WikiLeaks release of embassy cables, which began late this morning.
The one dated today (November 28, 2010 — scroll down) to Ambassador Louis B. Susman is, in particular, a thing of beauty.