Yep, it’s time for ole Dubya to mosey on down the trail, droppin’ his “g’s” as he goes. Be headin’ back to the Lone Star State where it all began, where the legend was born. After all he’s done, that boy needs a good long rest. Kickin’ back in boots and jeans, him ’n Laura, kids comin’ by now and then, all helpin’ put books on the shelves of the Dubya Liberry. Catchin’ them Rangers on the TV and shootin’ some birds when the mood takes him. Nothin’ like killin’ things to make you know you’re livin’.
Cheney liked to shoot birds, too, until he found out it was even more fun to shoot people. “What’s all the fuss about?” he kept saying. “Only shot him in the face.” Admit it now, is Dick Cheney some kind of hoot, or what? There’s another boy knows how to have a good time.
Dubya’s hopin’ for visits from Donny and Condi and the Rover once things settle down, though Condi’s been actin’ a little funny lately. Actin’ like she wouldn’t mind seein’ the back of Li’l Georgie once and for all so’s she can concentrate on rehabilitatin’ her sorry ace. Which is not in the best of shape after years of consortin’ with a war-makin,’ law-breakin’ moron…
So maybe Condi won’t be stoppin’ by, after all. And you know Colin Powell won’t be comin’ by, not after he came out for the skinny guy from Chicago with that long-winded speech on the TV. God Amighty! Didja think maybe he’d never get to the point? Mr. Holier Than Thou. Doesn’t like waterboardin’. Doesn’t like this. Doesn’t like that. Man has no sense of humor, that’s the problem.
Seems like Donny’s a little frosty these days, too. ’Course, Donny’s never forgiven Dubya for bein’ president when everybody knew Donny was smarter and tougher and meaner and had a better plan. Now he’s busy rehabilitatin’ hisself, too, though most people think his raggedy ace is beyond savin’. Should have got it out of town a long time before he did.
Li’l Donny wrote a article not long ago in the New York Times of all places. Covered most of a page and seemed to be about the Surge and how we have won the war in I-Rack but just don’t know it. Donny’s still a little haired off at Dubya for makin’ him take the fall for all the money’s been wasted and all the people’s got killed.
But, hell, Donny’s always been haired off at somebody. Been that way since he was a rasslin’ champ down at Tiger Town. Look funny at him, he’ll take you to the mat with a triple half-nelson and a double headlock. Break your legs, arms. Break your neck. Then he’ll stick your head under water ’til you cry “uncle.”
Dubya could get lonely down there in Big D, with all these people not showin’ up like they said they would. They was like a nuke-you-lar family, you know. Thick as thieves. Peas in a pod. Bugs in a rug. Tight as ticks. Gonna be tough goin’ it alone with just Laura. You can see from her pictures she’s nice but no fun.
’Course, if there’s one thing Dubya knows how to do it’s have fun. Not like Donny and Condi. They’re too busy tryin’ to get they aces out of the fryin’ pan of history. Worried about they legacy or somethin’.
Not Cheney, though. Not him. You can take your legacy and put it… well, you know where. That’s what he seems to be sayin’. You don’t like it, sue me. Indict me. Get too close, I’ll have a heart attack. Cheney’s tough. They’ll never lay a glove on him.
Or Dubya either, come to think of it. Not that anybody’d want to. He did his best and you can’t ask more’n that from a man. People say, Yeah, but his best wasn’t good enough. In fact, they say, his best was the worst we’ve ever seen. People say he lied to us and listened to our phone calls and opened our mail and screwed around with the Constitution and got us into a crazy war and screwed up the economy and generally behaved like a despot — if only a junior varsity kind of despot.
Well, maybe. But let’s not be churlish. We were always told we lived in a country where anybody could become president. And anybody did.
You judged Paris Hilton all wrong. You thought she was nothing but a worthless, spoiled tramp, and I admit she played the part well. I myself was fooled for many years. But it turns out she’s actually a philanthropist who’s hip to the plight of the global economy. Don’t believe me? Check it out:
American socialite Paris Hilton has declared herself a saviour who shops for the greater good in tight economic times.
In Sydney to host an exclusive New Year’s dance party, the 27-year-old heir to the Hilton hotel fortune this week drew criticism for spending 5,560 Australian dollars (3,844 US dollars) in a 40-minute shopping spree.
Local charities accused her of callous excess but Hilton Wednesday defended the splurge.
“I’m in Australia, I think it’s important to help out, you know, the economy out here, everywhere in the world,” she told reporters, ahead of her New Year engagement.
“And what’s wrong with doing a little shopping? It’s New Year’s, I need a New Year’s dress.”
Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard, questioned during a news conference Tuesday about Hilton’s shopping spree, commended the socialite for recognising Australia’s attraction as a fashion and shopping destination.
“I heard that a politician said that,” Hilton said. “I thought that was very sweet and it’s true.”
Hilton will be paid 100,000 Australian dollars by the party’s promoters for her Sydney appearance, promising a number of costume changes ahead of midnight.
Wow. That’s, like, totally cool and sweet. Now I know that I’ll be helping the economy when I go to the hardware store today to buy a pitchfork. Nothing wrong with a little shopping.
The Opinionator at the New York Times directs us to the top ten conservative blog themes of 2008 from an article in The Village Voice. My choice for the winning entry is Number 9. Check out all ten at the Village Voice, link above, and let us know your favorite.
#9: The Cheapskate's Guide to Civil Disobedience. In the late days of the campaign emails circulated about a guy who pissed off an Obama-supporting waiter by giving his tip to a bum instead. Haw haw! Rightblogger Dr. Helen discussed undertipping waiters, maids, gardeners, etc. if Obama won as a way for rich people to express their displeasure. “If we had deployed this strategy six months ago the election would not even be close,” said Ghost of a Flea. Actually this one panned out: the election wasn't close. Maybe voters figured Republicans don't tip anyway.
One normally thinks of a trailer as a modest form of housing that can be towed on wheels which depreciates in value, or the introduction to a film. However, Naomi Klein has produced a short trailer introduction to her book, which appears below. She also had made available a number of videos in which she is interviewed about The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism which follows this discussion — and a few more good links that would be helpful for those reading the book or those who are deciding on whether to purchase or borrow it from the local library.
As I read about nation after nation which has been convinced or forced to adopt the free market principles of Milton Friedman, I am struck by the huge gulf between the haves and the have-nots created when this economic plan is put into place. I am somewhat familiar with the situation in Chile as my niece is married to a Chilean. His family, although very well educated, barely scrapes by.
Most of these countries have a very small middle class. A very large percentage of the population of the countries that have adopted the Friedman plan are poor and a small few are very, very wealthy. Klein also has created her own website for the book, in which she takes on arguments, often lies, created by the likes of the Cato Institute, which deny the facts stated in the book.
Cato Crackheads insist that the countries which adopt the Friedman economic model are better off than they were under Keynesian or socialist economic plans. Iceland just went under. Which Scandinavian country will be next? I hope none. The Milton Friedman model is always held up by these True Believers as the best economic plan ever created, which this book proves beyond any doubt is not true.
As I continue to read through the book, I am struck by the parallels between many South American, Asian, African, and Eastern European countries which have been devastated by the Friedman plan and what George Bush has been trying and succeeding in getting away with in the United States. If these ideologues are allowed to succeed in adopting the Friedman economic plan in the United States, say goodbye to the middle class in this country.
Not that it hasn’t already happened to millions of Americans and not that George Bush was not successful in partially causing it to happen, as were Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Let us hope that although we have driven ourselves as a nation practically into bankruptcy, there is still some hope of rolling back what George W. Bush did to America during the long and tragic eight years he was in power.
And I continue to read the book slowly, as we just sold our old home and I have been embarking on many errands to get this one insulated and ready for the next small shock wave that is coming, the rising utility bills that we will see shortly.
The trailer for the book follows. If you have not read this book, which I consider a Klein masterpiece, I urge you to do so now. The way you think about the world we live in may be changed forever for the better. I am now able to understand things that are happening in the world that previously made no sense to me or which I could not properly interpret.
I learned another one of life’s hard lessons today: never eat biscuits and gravy while reading William Kristol’s column in the New York Times. As a general principle this might seem intuitively obvious, like not eating wild berries or handling brightly colored frogs, but I just can’t help myself.
I tried to focus on Paul Krugman’s column instead, but all that logic and good sense filled me with ennui, and my eyes kept drifting over towards the fiery crash on the other side of the op-ed page entitled “George, Abe, Rick & Barack,” by William Kristol, son of Irving Kristol and Gertrude Himmelfarb, the latter of whom is an historian of the Victorians. I had to read one of her monographs in grad school.
Suffice it to say that little William’s genius is not sui generis, it’s genetic. You can trace its origins all the way back up through Irving’s vas deferens and, in the opposite direction, down into Gertrude’s ovaries, until you squirm your way up their ugly innards and squeeze out of their eyeballs at that magic moment in space and time when they first caught each other’s glance and fell in love:
“Hi, my name’s Irving. I’m a Trotskyite.”
“I’m Gertrude. I’m hot for the Victorians. Do you have a car?”
Bingo! Nine months later their unholy tryst produced…Bill Kristol; who, forty-odd years later, produced The Weekly Standard, which helped produce The Project for the New American Century, which helped produce the Iraq Invasion, which has produced a hundred thousand dead Iraqis. Now, to top it off, he’s produced a column entitled “George, Abe, Rick & Barack,” which has produced violent sickness in me.
It’s a harmless, if embarrassing, consequence of reading the twaddle that this smug, spoiled little nitwit writes every week for a salary that is greater than anything you or I can possibly hope to earn for a lifetime of honest work.
In sum, Kristol says he is looking forward to Obama's inauguration. Why? Well, one of the reasons is that Rick Warren will be giving the invocation. This, according to Bill, will not only stick it to the “tribunes of the intolerant left,” but will also be “ a reminder of the strides the evangelical movement and religious conservatives have made… in recent decades.”
I don’t know about you, but I’ve forgotten all about the strides that the evangelical movement has made in recent decades. Thank God that Rick Warren and Bill Kristol are there to remind me. And praise be to Obama’s statesmanship for pounding the point home.
More importantly, according to Bill, Obama will take his oath of office on the Lincoln Bible. This is where it gets good. You see, many “commentators” have criticized Obama's presumptuousness at pretending to be a statesman. You know, commentators like Bill Kristol and other tribunes of the tolerant right. But it turns out Obama’s okay after all, because he’s not pretending to be a statesman like Lincoln, he’s only modeling himself after Lincoln. So it’s cool. Obamas’s not presumptuous, like some random field slave trying to bust into master’s kitchen; he’s just an apt pupil, a good boy, diligently imitating the habits of his superiors for the improvement of hisself and the betterment of everyone in the American cuntry.
But Mr. Kristol has a few words of advice, lest Mr. Obama get too uppity:
…it might be a good idea if, when he takes the oath, Obama makes sure that the Good Book is open to Proverbs 16:18, and its reminder that, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”
Who would know better than a supporter of the Iraq invasion? Pay heed, Mr. Obama.
Now, Kristol’s column is called “George, Abe Rick & Barack.” We've covered Abe, Rick, and Barack. But what of George W, as in Washington?
Let’s let Mr Kristol take it away:
What’s more, in a radio address this past week, Obama cited George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River on Christmas night, 1776, as a lesson for us today. Obama’s academic supporters must be rolling their eyes, or assuming he’s just playing to the simple-minded patriots in the peanut gallery. But what if Obama’s own understanding of the founders is more in line with the admiring spirit of many recent popular biographies than the belittling efforts of post-1960s tenured radicals?There’s a lot here to unpack, but I’ll keep it short. I suspect Obama was playing to the simple-minded patriots in the peanut gallery, like Bill Kristol. If so, it obviously worked. He plainly has them snookered. Furthermore, what lesson can we learn from Washington crossing the Delaware River in this day and age? That we must launch a surprise attack against Hessian mercenaries? I don't get it. Then again, my professors were all tenured 1960s radicals who belittled the efforts of “admiring, popular biographies.” Forsooth!
But just what would Washington think of the efforts of neo-con radicals, tenured at Fox News or the Heritage Foundation? You know, those who, in the name of patriotism, advocate perpetual war for the benefit of a foreign country, like, say, Israel?
I don't know. But I know what Washington famously said in his farewell address:
Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy to be useful must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.[Italics mine]
Something tells me Bill Kristol conveniently overlooks that inconvenient quote when he patriotically studies Washington for the patriotic edification of all good patriots. But what do I know?
Anyway, Bill Kristol is, on whole, supportive of the president-elect.
I am currently reading Naomi Klein’s book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, detailing the way America has “converted” other countries to “freedom and democracy” using the often deadly ideology of Milton Friedman and how it uses the same doctrine when natural catastrophes occur to “remake a devastated or destroyed village to save it.”
This is one of the policies of Milton Friedman’s economic theories as put into practice and I had not realized until now that the term coined during the Vietnam War, “We destroyed the village to save it” was actually a literal interpretation of what Friedman proposed as a method to change a country’s economic system. New Orleans is a domestic example of the policy, which is losing a whole class of people who have lived there for many generations who will be replaced by wealthier and more Republican sorts.
Klein also traces the original CIA experiments in the late 1940s on torture and makes a very valuable and original argument that the same basic doctrinal belief system is used by those who justify electric shock therapy as torture, waterboarding and other forms of torture we have witnessed at Guantanamo Bay and other dark prison sites, to justify the policies of dramatically shocking (i.e. Shock and Awe) a nation into submission to institute economic policy changes urged by Milton Friedman. Murder, bloodshed and violence are the inevitable results of these policies.
However, until I finish the book, I will refrain from commenting any further thoughts on it, but this one book has created so far, a mental catharsis as dramatic as that engendered when I first read Eric Hoffer’s True Believer.
So to get some background on Naomi Klein, I went back and searched the archives of The Real News Network for anything that Naomi Klein had commented on and found the following video, which is part of a series of videos by Naomi Klein on the Real News Network. I urge you to listen to her comments about Obama and listen to the rest of the series of Naomi Klein videos if you find this one interesting. Please donate to The Real News Network either by direct donation, or by buying some of your books there, as the preceding link allows you to do.
I believe that I was wrong in my comments on Obama’s selection of Rick Warren to deliver his invocation at his inauguration, despite the black community’s church going members who don’t approve of gay marriage, who are an important constituency for Obama. But I do believe we on the left have been too complacent about Obama’s cabinet selections and we must turn on the heat by calling, writing, petitioning and eventually, perhaps later this year when Obama’s stance on Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan become clearer, by street marching to make Obama aware that the left will not sit idly by while he becomes another traitor to his class, as Bill Clinton did (unlike Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was a traitor to the rich class he belonged to, which was a positive for the poor and middle class). Obama and Clinton came from humble backgrounds and if they cater to their rich constituency, they are indeed traitors to their former class, who are most Americans who make modest or insufficient incomes.
Without further ado, here is Naomi Klein from August of this year. I wish I had taken this video seriously when it appeared, but I either missed it or was not paying attention. It’s past the time for us liberals giving a free ride to Obama. We must turn on the heat. I’m sorry I didn’t recognize this early on. The only thing I would suggest that we do is not to play into the hands of the right wingers, who will going after Obama for nefarious reasons, which is not what I am recommending.
There’s no fuel like a lipofuel…
“…The vast majority of my patients request that I use their fat for fuel – and I have more fat than I can use,” he says. “Not only do they get to lose their love handles or chubby belly, but they get to take part in saving the Earth…”
That was a man, and a great spirit.
Molly Ivins, whom I continue to miss, called Lewis Lapham the best essayist in the country, and it’s still hard to find a more elegant writer. Plus, I usually agree with him.
In “By the Rivers of Babylon”, from the January Harper’s (sub. req’d.), he starts with a recent gem from our old friend Tom Friedman.
The Puritan ethic of hard work and saving still matters. I just hate the idea that such an ethic is more alive today in China than in America… . We need to get back to collaborating the old-fashioned way. That is, people making decisions based on business judgment, experience, prudence, clarity of communications and thinking about how — not just how much.
— Thomas Friedman, New York Times, October 15, 2008
I don’t know what country Friedman thinks he’s been living in for the past thirty years, or in which New England gift shops he searches out the treasures of the American past. I can understand why he might wish for a happy return to an imaginary state of grace, but to explain last fall’s melee in the world’s financial markets as a falling away from the Puritan work ethic is to misread America’s economic and political history and to mistake the message encoded in the DNA of the American dream. Given any kind of choice in the matter, who among the faithful ever has preferred hard work to the fast shuffle and the artful dodge, the bird in the hand to the five in the bush?
This leads to a discussion of Patriot Pirates by Robert Patton, which tells the story of American privateering in the Revolutionary War. Turns out we were privatizing war efforts from the very beginning. Lapham reports that the fleet (possibly too grand a name, since they were in no sense a unit) of privateers started with ten or twenty in the fall of 1775, and by 1783 included 4,000 “investment vehicles … licensed to practice the art of piracy as far offshore as the West Indies and the Mediterranean.”
Which naturally brings us back to the prophet of the modern-day pirates, where we began.
As with the misreadings of the spirit of American commercial enterprise, the misinterpretings of the purpose of American government substitute the theory for the practice. Just as the stock-market speculations do what they’re intended to do, which is to reward the promoters and fleece the marks, the government does what it’s supposed to do, which is to enrich the creditors and plunder the debtors. The eighteenth-century New England privateers flew the American flag as a flag of convenience, not as a declaration of their allegiance to a cause but as a license to seize the wealth stored in the hulls of wooden ships. Their twenty-first-century heirs and assigns employ the semblance of a government in Washington as an investment vehicle permitting them to seize the wealth stored in the labor of the American people. The Republican and Democratic parties compete for the brokerage business, between them putting up $2.4 billion for last year’s presidential campaigns — i.e., for the speculative ventures that bundle junk slogans into collateralized-debt obligations, which, when it comes time to off-load the boodle, transform the upside into private property, the downside into the good news that poverty replenishes the soul.
The incomparable Eartha Kitt died today, Christmas, at the age of 81. Looking for a video clip of her singing “Santa Baby,” the best I could find was one of her performing before George Bush, which I doubt she enjoyed, given the following:
In the late sixties, however, Kitt’s career encountered a substantial setback after she made her anti-Vietnam war views explicit during a White House luncheon.
The CIA put together a dossier on her and she became professionally exiled from the US. She worked abroad for 11 years, where her reputation remained unscathed, but returned triumphantly to New York in 1974 to star in a Broadway spectacle of Timbuktu!
Here, then, is audio from 1953 vinyl:
Deuteronomy, Chapter 13:
False prophets must be slain, and idolatrous cities destroyed.
13:1. If there rise in the midst of thee a prophet or one that saith he hath dreamed a dream, and he foretell a sign and a wonder,
13:2. And that come to pass which he spoke, and he say to thee: Let us go and follow strange gods, which thou knowest not, and let us serve them:
13:3. Thou shalt not hear the words of that prophet or dreamer: for the Lord your God trieth you, that it may appear whether you love him with all your heart, and with all your soul, or not.
13:4. Follow the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and hear his voice: him you shall serve, and to him you shall cleave.
13:5. And that prophet or forger of dreams shall be slain: because he spoke to draw you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you from the house of bondage: to make thee go out of the way, which the Lord thy God commanded thee: and thou shalt take away the evil out of the midst of thee.
13:6. If thy brother the son of thy mother, or thy son, or daughter, or thy wife that is in thy bosom, or thy friend, whom thou lovest as thy own soul, would persuade thee secretly, saying: Let us go, and serve strange gods, which thou knowest not, nor thy fathers,
13:7. Of all the nations round about, that are near or afar off, from one end of the earth to the other,
13:8. Consent not to him, hear him not, neither let thy eye spare him to pity and conceal him,
13:9. But thou shalt presently put him to death. Let thy hand be first upon him, and afterwards the hands of all the people.
Presently put him to death... Not by killing him by private authority, but by informing the magistrate, and proceeding by order of justice. [Emphasis added]
13:10. With stones shall he be stoned to death: because he would have withdrawn thee from the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage:
13:11. That all Israel hearing may fear, and may do no more any thing like this.
13:12. If in one of thy cities, which the Lord thy God shall give thee to dwell in, thou hear some say:
13:13. Children of Belial are gone out of the midst of thee, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, and have said: Let us go, and serve strange gods which you know not:
Belial... That is, without yoke. Hence the wicked, who refuse to be subject to the divine law, are called in scripture the children of Belial.
13:14. Inquire carefully and diligently, the truth of the thing by looking well into it, and if thou find that which is said to be certain, and that this abomination hath been really committed,
13:15. Thou shalt forthwith kill the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, and shalt destroy it and all things that are in it, even the cattle. [Emphasis added, with emphasis.]
13:16. And all the household goods that are there, thou shalt gather together in the midst of the streets thereof, and shall burn them with the city itself, so as to comsume all for the Lord thy God, and that it be a heap for ever: it shall be built no more.
I thought Andy Williams singing “Sleigh Ride” was agony. Jesus.
Merry Christmas, fellow idolaters!
More thoughts from Tom Degan, the sage of Goshen. Read the whole rant here:
The film was called Yellow Submarine and it starred animated versions of the Beatles. At the movie’s end, when John, Paul, George and Ringo liberated the good people of Pepperland from the evil clutches of the naughty Blue Meanies, what did they do? Did they ostracize the Meanies? Did they banish them from Pepperland forever? No. They reached out to them! Leave it to John Lennon! (or the actor doing a lousy impersonation of John Lennon’s voice):
“Hello, Blue People! Won’t you join us? Look up!”
… Although some of the people he has appointed to his team have left me somewhat puzzled, I have no other choice but to give the President-elect the benefit of the doubt. To those progressives who are now in the process of having a nervous breakdown at the make up of the new administration, I have three words:
President Sarah Palin…
Joyful Alternative alerted me to some alarming but quite expected news on one of Bush’s pardons. Thanks to the blog Pardon Power for alerting Joyful to the details and links for the facts. The blog is mostly run by a large cadre of law professors. We have much to learn from them and I urge you to visit their blog or one of the ones in this group that covers your state. For example, here’s a link to Connecticut pardons as an homage to the founder of this blog. I’m not opposed to pardons. More often than not it is the right thing to do. I am opposed the the practice of selling pardons to the highest bidder by politicians. Prison for the politician is the appropriate remedy for this kind of conduct.
In short, this story connected to President Bush is “he bought his way out through campaign contributions to the Republican party.” As a lawyer, I’ve heard about these kinds of stories for years and many politicians have engaged in it. And other stories from South Carolina, including one I know to be true from a few years ago.
Here are some of the details of the Bush pardon saga. We are only at the beginning of the beginning and this kind of story just breaks your heart. Who can forget Marc Rich? From the NY Daily News comes the saga of one pardon which was bought and paid for. And I’m sure we can expect ten times as many from Bush as from Clinton as the number of criminals inside the administration is much greater and the Republican Party has depleted its funds as well, so get ready for more outrage.
President Bush pardoned a Brooklyn real estate developer accused of scamming hundreds of poor, minority homebuyers — and whose father donated $28,500 to the Republican Party this year.
Bush pardoned Isaac Toussie, 36, two days before Christmas in a gesture of mercy that outraged ex-customers who said they were duped into buying overpriced, defective homes.
Neither the White House nor the Justice Department would say why Toussie deserved the pardon, which clears his record of convictions in a 2003 guilty plea for mail fraud and lying to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Toussie admitted falsifying finances of prospective homebuyers seeking HUD mortgages.
His sentence was a “relatively mild” five months in prison and five months house arrest, a $10,000 fine and no restitution, one U.S. official said. Bush spokesman Tony Fratto said the administration does not discuss individual pardons. Toussie’s lawyer, Henry Mazurek, also declined to comment.
Federal Election Commission records show Toussie’s father, Robert, made his first political donation last April &mdash $28,500 to the Republican National Committee. On Aug. 7, U.S. Pardon Attorney Ronald Rodgers received Isaac Toussie&rsqo;s pardon petition, a Justice spokeswoman said.
“It clearly suggests a link between the pardon and campaign contributions,” said Melanie Sloan, an ex-prosecutor with the liberal group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
The victims” federal suit charged the Toussies lured “inexperienced and low income inner city minority first-time buyers into purchasing homes that they could not afford.” The homes were overpriced by up to 50% and often defective, and the cost of mortgage payments was hidden, the suit said.
And Happy Holidays to all, now matter what your preference, or Happy No Holiday at all for those who choose not to participate in some of the ghastly practices of the season.
UPDATE: I never thought I’d see the day, but George Bush withdrew that pardon after he “found out” about the contribution. I’m sure there’s a very disappointed father out there, but for once I’ve got to give George credit. He did the right thing. But by the time Obama takes office, I’m betting that his administration will give the most pardons to members of that administration than any other in history. And then we’ll turn on the outrage again. If he doesn’t, I'll rank him up several notches. But don’t count on it. From Nixon to Ford to Reagan to Bush to Bush, they’ve all pardoned people within their own administrations. And the Bush administration has more reasons to do it for themselves than any other in history. But it still won’t absolve any of them from war crimes trials, whether now or 25 years from now. Cheney reminds me so much of the Nuremburg defendants it’s uncanny. That’s one transcript I’ve read quite a bit of, and the Bush Administration has many characters who mimic the Nazis more than most Americans realize. But score one for Bush for withdrawing this pardon. Score zero for whatever politician(s) told the father that he could get the pardon for his son for a monetary contribution. And it just adds further to the evidence that this is how this administration has operated everything. Pay to Play. Just not this time. Sorry Dad. They took your cash. Maybe they’ll give it back if they think you’re going to tell the Feds who promised you that pardon for the contribution. But don’t count on that. But I’m left wondering whether a pardon can be withdrawn once granted. I’m not sure it can. Here’s the NY Times update on the case.
If you remember the stories surrounding the death of Paul Wellstone, then Scott Horton at Harper’s No Comment and an Alabama blogger who writes at the blog called Legal Schnauzer both write about things that will send shivers up your spine.
Eventually even the Soviets had enough of Stalin. Will America ever stand up to Karl Rove? Read more about it at Legal Schnauzer, who writes about a strange airline crash and death in a post entitled Did the Rove Crime Syndicate Strike Again? His latest post indicates that the McConnell story has legs. It’s time for the frog march, Mr. Federale. Enough is enough.
We invite you to comment keeping in mind the story entitled the Last Mystery of Stalin. Which American will be the last before the death toll ends? Let’s hope it is the perpetrator.
This was Hunter S. Thompson’s last dispatch from the presidential campaign of 1972. Try substituting George W. Bush for Nixon and John Kerry for McGovern. It isn’t a perfect fit, but it’s close enough for government work.
This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves; finally just lay back and say it — that we are really just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms about killing anybody else in he world who tries to make us uncomfortable.
The tragedy of all this is that George McGovern, for all his imprecise talk about ‘new politics’ and ‘honesty in government,’ is really one of the few men who’ve run for President of the United States in this century who really understands what a fantastic monument to all the best instincts of the human race this country might have been, if we could have kept it out of the hands of greedy little hustlers like Richard Nixon.
McGovern made some stupid mistakes, but in context they seem almost frivolous compared to the things Richard Nixon does every day of his life, on purpose, as a matter of policy and a perfect expression of everything he stands for.
Jesus! Where will it all end? How low do you have to stoop in this country to be President?
It all ended on November 4 of 1972, when our nation of used car salesmen relected Richard Nixon in a landslide, George McGovern carrying only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.
This in spite of the fact that almost a month before election day the Washington Post had led the paper with a story that began as follows:
FBI agents have established that the Watergate bugging incident stemmed from a massive campaign of political spying and sabotage conducted on behalf of President Nixon's reelection and directed by officials of the White House and the Committee for the Re-election of the President.
That’s how low you have to stoop.
Howdy y’all! Remember me? I haven’t posted for three weeks as I finished my first semester’s work. I turned in my last paper at 3AM Friday, and taught my last class Friday afternoon. Of course there will be some chess lessons over the holidays; chess, after all, is forever.
I’m through, at least, as soon as I finish the last paper, which should be fun. As a math major I never took any science courses the first time around. So to meet the nat sci requirement I’m taking Renewable Energy this semester and The Thinking Body next.
Although I was acquainted with the relevant topics, I learned a lot in Renewable Energy. More importantly, I began consciously looking for opportunities to reduce the waste in my life. At the beginning of the class I was feeling perhaps a bit smug about living in a city without an air conditioner, with compact fluorescents, never using the heat, traveling on public transportation, and rarely traveling by air.
But as I discussed once before, I found credible estimates that we’d need three and a half Earths to support us if we all lived like I do, and eight or so planets to support an Earth full of Americans.
We all know we can’t keep going the way we’ve been. But what can we do? Well, surprise! If you’re an American, and you’re anything like me, you probably spend a lot of your time wasting resources.
Which I beg to you take as opportunity, not indictment. Many of our daily habits are built around an economy designed for cheap oil, unlimited fresh water, and electricity for nearly nothing. But when I look at the present and the future, and consider what kind of world the next generation will inherit, I can easily imagine that washing my shirt after two wearings rather than one can contribute to the total savings we need to make if we intend to build a lifestyle that our descendants can sustain. We don’t have to stop using energy; but we do need to stop wasting it, and there are many opportunities in daily life to do so.
I’ll be talking more about ways I’ve found myself unconsciously repeating wasteful habits, most of which are easy to change once I actually pay attention to doing so. But my point right now is that we really can make a difference with small changes in habit. For example, I’ve begun turning off my computer when I’ll be away from it for a couple hours. I’ve generally left it on, because I’m usually running Seti@Home, and because I’m used being able to check email in five seconds rather than three minutes. It’s a tradeoff that has to be made on a case by case basis, but it’s one where I can save energy at a small cost to myself, so I’m doing it.
The issue is really awareness.
Interesting take by Todd Gitlin on the Reverend Rick Warren flap, via The Rag Blog. I’m staying out of this controversy right now, having noticed that every time I got mad over something Obama did during the election season, he turned out to be right and I turned out to be wrong. It just may be that Obama plays better political chess than I do.
My initial reaction to Obama’s Rick Warren announcement was horror.
After what seems like weeks of intense back-and-forth, but in fact is only a day’s worth, I’m still appalled. It’s one thing to invite the adversary into the tent the better to defeat him with a smile — neutralize him, in colder terms — but it’s quite another to give him a throne, even if a purely symbolic throne. Warren’s political interventions are mostly terrible (AIDS and environment are the exceptions).
The argument that this was crass political calculation — triangulation, as another president once said — comparable to FDR making nice to segregationists and Stalin, falls afoul of the fact that this overture to Warren was unnecessary. To get the New Deal, FDR really did have to make deals with the racist devil. To defeat Hitler, FDR really had to ally with Stalin. It’s history: get used to it.
But I’ve yet to see a single argument to the effect that Obama’s invitation to Warren accomplishes a single practical thing, let along that it was necessary. So I take it as an ugly brush-back: a gratuitous slap at feminists and LGBT’s. I hope it’s ill-considered, impromptu, but suspect it’s actually one of a series — bridge-building to the right on principle.
But meanwhile, some proportion here, people. Other appointments are arguable but some are clearly superb. Harold Meyerson, than whom no one knows L. A. and labor better, says bluntly: “Hilda Solis is great.” (So does every union person I’ve seen quoted.) E. J. Dionne, Jr., makes a firm case for Arne Duncan at Education. John Judis calls Obama’s incoming science adviser John Holdren “the Mick Jagger of climate change,” meaning that “by the end of Holdren’s speech, I was ready to join the world environmentalist crusade.” When I was teaching at Berkeley, I heard Holdren, who taught physics there, give a fabulous talk about nuclear dangers.
Meantime, Obama still hasn’t taken up residence in the White House.
Wes Boyd and Joan Blades had the right idea, back in the fading days of the 20th century, when they started what became the excellent Move On with a simple petition.
Vis-à-vis Clinton-Lewinsky, recall that their petition read: “Congress must Immediately Censure President Clinton and Move On to pressing issues facing the country.”
Censure Obama over Warren — directly, sincerely, viscerally — and move on.
(Paul Duffy joins Bad Attitudes with the following description of his introduction to the New York Times. He went on to various editing jobs over the next five years before telling Abe Rosenthal he could take this job and shove it. Since then he has been a freelance writer.)
It was a heady time.
Kennedy was president — Camelot, Jackie, ask not, all that. I was fresh out of the army; and now I was going to work on the foreign desk of The New York Times. I was in my early twenties and there was no doubt I was about to make a mark on big-time journalism. I was deeply impressed with my own possibilities.
This sense of a golden future lasted until I reported for my first day of work. By the time I found the foreign desk in the vastness of the news room I was already late. It was 8:32 a.m. By 8:35 I was beginning to consider a career change.
I was replacing a young man named Al, who was doing the unthinkable: he was leaving the Times. But before he left, Al was going to break me in. Two minutes into his job description, I understood why Al was leaving.
My job was to make sense of all the foreign news copy that came into The New York Times from all sources, and to arrange it so that it made sense to others. First, Al explained cheerfully, I was to gather all the foreign copy that had accumulated in the wire room overnight and sort it by story or subject, then sort it by news service, then collate each service’s story, assemble all copy according to a preferred order, put the copy for each story into a separate folder, and write a summary of all the stories for the foreign editor before he came in at ten o’clock. In those days, any story worth the name would be covered by the Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters, Canadian Press, and, of course, the Times itself, whose correspondents, then as now, found virtue in long-windedness.
The amount of paper entailed in this process is difficult to calculate and painful to describe. After I had collected the overnight accumulation of perhaps 300 pages and dumped it in the large wire mesh basket on my desk, this lode was periodically refreshed by copy boys pushing wheeled supermarket baskets overflowing with paper, most of it at that early hour earmarked for the foreign desk.
More than any other skill, the job demanded manual dexterity. I was issued a rubber thumb to enhance any natural abilities in this line. In the weeks — months — to come, I did develop considerable paper sorting/folding/clipping skills, but no matter how hard I worked or skillful I became, I was never able to empty the basket. Never.
At ten o’clock sharp a man with the face of a Basset hound appeared. He wore a dark, double-breasted, pinstripe suit of a distinctly British cut and smelled of expensive after shave. When he sat in the foreign editor’s chair, I concluded that he must be the foreign editor. He was.
He was also Emanuel R. Friedman — Manny to his intimates, of which I was, in a way, now one, in that Manny’s chair and mine were only inches apart, back to back. Although he never uttered a word to me other than “Copy,” I came to feel that we were as one in a noble enterprise. Our destinies were linked.
“Copy,” the one word Mr. Friedman did utter, he uttered every day at exactly 10:30, after he had looked over the morning paper and digested my desperate, typo-ridden news summary. “Copy” meant that he wanted my story folders.
These I had arranged in a strange looking rack that sat astride the back of my overflowing desk and contained many slots in which I had jammed the swelling files on Kwame Nkrumah, the Kurdish rebels, and the latest government crisis in Chad. Manny was keenly interested in these topics. More interested, perhaps, than any other person in the world including his many correspondents. As the day wore on he fired off increasingly testy messages to these headstrong adventurers, demanding the very latest on the makeup of the new Sudanese cabinet or an analysis of the reasons behind the fall of the yen.
But I knew nothing of these arcane matters until much later. Just then I was drowning in a rising flood of paper, my rubber thumb flailing in midair, and I judged, correctly, from the widening smirk on the departing Al’s face that the worst was yet to come.
Sometime toward noon I was told to move myself and my rubber thumb across the room to the foreign copy desk. This was a crescent-shaped affair perhaps 20 feet long at which copy editors attempted to make readable, and write cogent headlines for, the foreign news report. There were six or so of these intelligent drones laboring ceaselessly under the despotic direction of Jack B., copy desk fuehrer and certifiable manic depressive, obsessive compulsive, anal retentive, and raving lunatic.
I sat at one end of the crescent next to a large wire basket that had been bolted down against the inevitable deluge of paper. Behind me sat Frank B. (no relation to Jack B.) and next to him Nat G., the night foreign editor. Wedged into the midst of this ménage was another clerk.
All the foreign copy — New York Times, A.P., U.P.I, Reuters, Canadian Press — came to me via copy boys pushing rolling supermarket baskets, always full, from the wire room. I separated it all by subject and story, collated each report by wire service, and assembled several duplicate copies of the Times stories for fun. From me each sheaf of carefully, if frantically, arranged paper went in a half circle to Frank B., Nat G., the other clerk, then to Jack B., who would scream something unintelligible and fling the paper package at a cringing copy editor.
If I had got up and walked out the door — a course I seriously considered every single day for the six months I held this wretched job — I believed the foreign desk of The New York Times would grind to a halt and would not be able to sort itself out for months. I still believe this. But of course I didn’t walk out the door, not then anyway.
Instead, I flailed with my rubber thumb at the rapidly mounting pile of paper, trying desperately to reduce its size before the next dumpster-load reached me. No one had introduced me to any one of the many people who now inhabited the immediate region of the foreign desk. And none of them had showed the slightest interest in me except as a paper processor. In this capacity I was found wanting.
The first to identify one of my many disqualifications for the job was Frank B. He brought it to my attention that I was attaching paper clips incorrectly. Frank B. demanded that paper clips be affixed with the small loop showing. If you look at a paper clip you will see that it is nothing more than a wire bent into two loops, the smaller inside the larger. Frank B. hated to see a paper clip large loop up even more than he hated the way I sometimes put the A.P. copy under the U.P.I. when everyone knows it belongs the other way around.
When Frank B. saw a sheaf of copy with the paper clip large loop up, he would toss it back on my desk and have me turn the clip over so that it would be correctly attached, small loop up. I made this mistake more than I like to admit, even all these years later. Shame dies hard.
Once he got his paper clip where he wanted it, Frank B. would write tiny notes on a small square of pink paper and then slide the square under the paper clip, small loop up of course. He would then pass the annotated copy to Nat G., who would remove the pink square and throw it on the floor. Sometimes Nat G. would scribble something on the copy before he gave it to the other clerk. It was that clerk’s job to enter the story on a list before handing it on to Jack B. occupying the center, or slot, of the copy desk. Once he got his hands on it, Jack B. invariably began to shout and turn red before he in turn assigned the story to an editor.
That’s how it went, day after day, month after month. Did I mention that around 3 p.m. at the height of the foreign news frenzy, I would be sent up to the cafeteria to get everyone coffee, donuts, sandwiches?
This interruption cost me just enough time to make it a certainty that I could never, never, never catch up, and that Frank B. would never be satisfied, that Nat B. would never stop throwing things on the floor, and that Jack B. would continue apoplectic until the first edition was printed and he was back on his train to Scarsdale.
(CNN) — Democrat Al Franken has pulled ahead of incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman in Minnesota’s still unresolved U.S. Senate race, according to a running tally on the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Web site.
Late Friday morning, the newspaper’s tally put Franken ahead by 102 votes. Coleman’s lead had fallen to single digits Thursday evening.
But the race remains fluid: The results reported by the newspaper are ongoing, with hundreds of challenged ballots still to be reviewed…
From the Associated Press:
HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut Democratic Party officials, after an hour of political soul searching, decided Wednesday to send Sen. Joe Lieberman a letter detailing their disappointment with his public support for Republican John McCain in the presidential race.
It was a step back from an earlier proposal before the Democratic State Central Committee to censure Lieberman and ask him to leave the party…
The decision to send a letter, which passed on an overwhelming voice vote, came the same day as a new Quinnipiac University poll showed only 38 percent of state voters approve of Lieberman's job performance.
Lest we forget, here’s what the other 62 percent think of this slippery specimen who worked his fickle heart out to defeat Barack Obama. By Dick Ahles, in The Lakeville Journal:
A short trip down Lieberman Lane reveals the senator’s irregular, semi-Republican ways have always paid off for him, especially in his home state. He first ran for the Senate in 1988 to the right of the Republican incumbent, Lowell Weicker, and won with 49.7 percent of the vote to Weicker’s 49 percent, thanks to the help of many prominent Republicans, including the conservatives’ patron saint, the late William F. Buckley of Stamford and Sharon.
And when freshman Senator Lieberman arrived in Washington for the inauguration of the first President Bush in January 1989, one of his first stops was a victory celebration being held by Connecticut’s Republicans, who were delighted to see the new Democratic senator from their state and greeted him as their hero.
Connecticut Republicans would always be there for good old Joe at election time, challenging his run for a second term with the always dangerous Jerry Labriola and his third term with the soon-to-be-convicted child abuser Phil Giordano. And finally, when Lieberman had to run as an independent in 2006 against primary winner Ned Lamont, the Republicans responded with a casino card counter named Alan Schlesinger, who amassed 9 percent of the vote after Karl Rove extended Lieberman his best wishes.
Throughout his 20 years in Washington, Lieberman posed as the heavily burdened nonpartisan, agonizing over controversies as he decided what was best for the country, also known as Lieberman.
In 1991, when Clarence Thomas was picked for the Supreme Court by the first George Bush as “the best qualified judge” in America, Lieberman hailed the unimpressive conservative for his “strength of character, independence of mind and intellect generally.” Then he waited off the Senate floor until the necessary 50 votes had been cast in Thomas’ favor before voting against him.
There’s a conspiracy afoot to make me care about the fact that Caroline Kennedy wants to be appointed to Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat. It’s not working. I do not now, nor have I ever, nor will I ever, give two stinking shits about it.
Let’s see. The wife of a former president gets kicked upstairs to head the State Department. Her probable replacement in the Senate is, miracle upon miracles, the daughter of another former president. And guess what? Her uncle once held that same Senate seat. Golly, what a whacky world! Had her brother not been killed in a plane crash, he’d probably be sitting in that spot right now, worming his way up the greasy pole to the presidency, sparing Ms. Kennedy the unfortunate duty of becoming a Washington politician.
But fate decreed otherwise. Now the humble, retiring Ms. Kennedy must relinquish the quiet joys of private life and bravely devote herself to public affairs, like George Washington or Cincinnatus. She never wanted this. It just sort of happened, like a one night stand. One almost weeps over the irony of it all.
Of course, there are other considerations to take into account. According to Tuesday’s New York Times, New York Governor David Paterson, whose job it is to make the appointment, has come to see Ms. Kennedy as a strong potential candidate “whose personal connections would allow her to raise the roughly $70 million required to hold the seat in coming years.”
So she can scrape up a cool 70 mill, eh? I think I smell a statesman, er, woman.
Take note, Mr. Blagojevich. If you’re going to hock a Senate seat, learn do it right, man! You used the hard sell when soft persuasion was in order. You had bad manners, bad hair, bad brains and the wrong pedigree. All you needed was a little proper breeding, young ruffian. Oh well, to Hell go the stupid. If life was fair, we’d all be a millionaire, and history would remember our names. Tough luck, Rod. You had bad style.
Perhaps I should be less cynical. Perhaps I should recall the commencement address spoken at my college graduation. It was very inspiring. Here’s a snippet of what the speaker had to say:
“If you think the system is broken, fix it; if you think it is dirty, clean it up,” she said, eliciting cheers from the audience of 20,000 spectators at the school's 97th commencement.
“Fight for your democracy by participating in it,” she said. “If you don’t, there won’t be a real democracy left to fight for.”
Who was the speaker?
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Bobby’s daughter, Jack and Teddy’s neice, Caroline’s cousin.
Viva la Democracia!
Many of you have written and called to learn more about the 25% of Americans who still approve of Bush. Who are these odd folk? Are they deaf? Can they see? Read? Do simple sums? Feed themselves?
We report; you decide:
When Tucker Carlson said to her, “A lot of entertainers have come out against the war in Iraq. Have you?” [Britney Spears] replied, “Honestly, I think we should just trust our president in every decision he makes and should just support that, you know, and be faithful in what happens.”
This exchange occurred at today’s White House press briefing:
Q: Yes, the consumer prices numbers today — a drop of 1.7 percent, a whopping decline. Is the White House — is the President’s team worried that this might be the beginning of the deflationary spiral in the economy?Thanks Miss Dana. Can we take off our bibs now?
MS. PERINO: Well, that’s one way to look at it. But another way to look at it would be that lower prices are actually good for American consumers because that means that you have more money in your pocket in order to spend it on other things. And it’s welcome in that energy prices act like a huge tax cut, because people have to get to work and back, and so they have more money in their pocket. …
Martha Raddatz of ABC interviews George W. Bush:
GWB: One of the major theaters against al Qaeda turns out to have been Iraq. This is where al Qaeda said they were going to take their stand. This is where al Qaeda was hoping to take...
MR: But not until after the U.S. invaded.
GWB: Yeah, that's right. So what?
So what? I’ll tell you what, you— Ah, forget it.
To see the massacre in Mumbai as a grownup sees it, read the essay by Arundhati Roy from which the excerpts below are taken. And weep, not just for India’s hideous mess but for the mess into which our own fools have led our own nation .
If Pakistan collapses, we can look forward to having millions of “non-state actors” with an arsenal of nuclear weapons at their disposal as neighbors.
It’s hard to understand why those who steer India’s ship are so keen to replicate Pakistan’s mistakes and call damnation upon this country by inviting the United States to further meddle clumsily and dangerously in our extremely complicated affairs. A superpower never has allies. It only has agents…
If the idea behind the 9/11 terror attacks was to goad America into showing its true colors, what greater success could the terrorists have asked for? The U.S. military is bogged down in two unwinnable wars, which have made the United States the most hated country in the world. Those wars have contributed greatly to the unraveling of the American economy and who knows, perhaps eventually the American empire.
(Could it be that battered, bombed Afghanistan, the graveyard of the Soviet Union, will be the undoing of this one too?)…
Anti-terrorism laws are not meant for terrorists; they’re for people that governments don’t like. That’s why they have a conviction rate of less than 2%. They’re just a means of putting inconvenient people away without bail for a long time and eventually letting them go.
Terrorists like those who attacked Mumbai are hardly likely to be deterred by the prospect of being refused bail or being sentenced to death. It’s what they want.
What we’re experiencing now is blowback, the cumulative result of decades of quick fixes and dirty deeds. The carpet’s squelching under our feet.
The only way to contain — it would be naïve to say end — terrorism is to look at the monster in the mirror. We’re standing at a fork in the road. One sign says “Justice,” the other “Civil War.” There’s no third sign and there’s no going back. Choose.
Brother Bill sends this dispatch from The Lehigh Valley Express-Times. He knew perfectly well I couldn’t resist posting it. I have added several comments from the paper’s readers. Others may occur to you.
JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell, Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell and Adolf Hitler Campbell.From FLBryce: If they have twins will they name one Ass and one Elbow because they can’t tell them apart?
Good names for a trio of toddlers? Heath and Deborah Campbell think so. The Holland Township couple has picked those names and the oldest child, Adolf Hitler Campbell, turns 3 today.
This has given rise to a problem, because the ShopRite supermarket in Greenwich Township has refused to make a cake for young Adolf’s birthday.
“We believe the request ... to inscribe a birthday wish to Adolf Hitler is inappropriate,” said Karen Meleta, a ShopRite spokeswoman.
The Campbells turned down the market’s offer to make a cake with enough room for them to write their own inscription and can’t understand what all of the fuss is about…
From goback2nj: is that a mullet? in 2008? wow! that alone is almost child abuse
From van2028: What I see here is a craving for media attention. In my short 18 1/2 years on this earth, I can pretty much say that I have never seen a full name on a cake… Adolf, you have a very happy birthday, cake or not. I apologize for your parents stupidity as well. Oh yea, and have fun being unemployed in 20 years.
Bad news for Seinfeld freaks and all you freaks at the Westboro Baptist Church:
Washington state officials placed a moratorium late Friday on permitting any more holiday displays inside the Capitol this year.
An atheists’ sign placed near a Nativity scene sparked a controversy after commentators on Fox News drew attention to it. Afterward, Gov. Chris Gregoire’s office was flooded with nearly 15,000 phone calls from people nationwide who opposed the sign.
The moratorium in effect denies space to several requests, including one for a sign that says “Santa Claus will take you to Hell” and a “Festivus” pole. Festivus is a mock holiday popularized by the “Seinfeld” sitcom in the 1990s.
Tom Tomorrow hits the nail on the head about the “Invisible Hand of the Free Market” at This Modern World. Now, if only Stanley Kubrick were alive to make a movie about it. I wonder how HAL would react to the news. I suspect he would say: “Dave, the one true and only terrorist is the invisible hand.”
Merry Christmas from the Westboro Baptist Church!
“You’d better watch out, get ready to cry/ You’d better go hide, I’m telling you why/
’cuz Santa Claus will take you to hell.
“He is your favorite idol, you worship at his feet,/ but when you stand before your God He won’t help you take the heat.
“So get this fact straight: you’re feeling God’s hate,/ Santa’s to blame for the economy’s fate,
“Santa Claus will take you to hell.”
From the Associated Press, a Prince of the Church making his priorities clear:
SANTIAGO, Chile – Madonna is causing “crazy enthusiasm” and “impure thoughts” on her first concert visit to Chile, a prominent retired cardinal complained on Wednesday, as he paused in a tribute to a late dictator to denounce the pop star.
Roman Catholic Cardinal Jorge Medina criticized the flamboyant singer during his homily at a Mass in honor of the late dictator Augusto Pinochet, who oversaw the deaths of some 3,200 dissidents during his 1973-1990 rule…
Medina said that some of those who claim to seek justice for violations of human rights under the dictator are actually seeking revenge.
Asher Pavel sends along this pathetic plea:
…Depression, recession; recession, depression, let’s call the whole thing off. Quick.
Where I live, words like recession, market correction, downturn, depression or slump aren’t abstract concepts that you stuff in a mental file folder labeled “Bad.” They are tangible, gut-punching realities that hurt. When times are tough, they’re shitty; when they’re good, they’re not much better.
Here, we rely on the tourist trade. That is to say, we depend on people having extra money, or what is cutely referred to in modern discourse as ‘disposable income,’ that they can toss away on stupid recreations like gambling and skiing. It’s our life blood. Without that, we die.
Even in boom times, chapter 11 is always just around the corner, lurking in the shadows with alcoholism, joblessness and suicide, waiting to feast. We aren’t the underbelly; we’re the udder. And when the cow’s knees buckle, we’re the first organ that gets slammed into the ground.
We’ve hit the ground. The squeeze is definitely on. Darkness is falling.
The symptoms of incipient economic collapse are sprouting up everywhere, like syphilitic cankers, hearkening the onset of Great Depression II. Businesses are dropping off. Nobody can pay the rent. Hours are being cut. Everyone is depressed. Wherever you look, the paint is peeling, the roofs are leaking. The foundation of our fragile lives is gradually moldering away. Applebee’s restaurant had a job fair the other day. Over two hundred people showed up. Imagine that, two hundred people locked in Darwinian competition for a part-time job that pays eight dollars an hour.
Mission accomplished, Mr. Bush. Kudos to Mr. Greenspan as well, and Mr. Friedman, and all the other bright lights of capitalist theory going all the way back to Bastiat. You’ve won.
And it’s cold. Butt cold. The heat bill rises in direct inverse proportion to our falling incomes.
I suppose George Will will tell me if I can’t afford the heating bill, I should stop being cold. It’s all about personal responsibility, you see.
Indeed it is. If my daddy was a professor who paid my way through graduate school, I might be sitting around the dinner table right now with Mona Charen and Rich Lowry wondering why all those liberals keep whining. Don’t they realize the middle-class is only shrinking because so many of them are rising up? The Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute say so. Statistics prove it.
Good God. I don’t know what’s worse, poverty or the obtuse self-righteousness of our ruling class. I’d say it’s enough to drive me to drinking, but I already drink, so I’m one step ahead of the game, ha ha.
It’s not going to be long before the first, faint whispers of scapegoating start drifting through the air. Count on it. If I was Mexican, I’d be racing back across the border, ’cause guess who’s gonna get blamed first…
The race for the world’s dumbest human has always been very tight, but folks, we finally have a winner:
CHICAGO – Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested Tuesday on charges of conspiring to get financial benefits through his authority to appoint a U.S. senator to fill the vacancy left by Barack Obama’s election as president.
According to a federal criminal complaint, Blagojevich also was charged with illegally threatening to withhold state assistance to Tribune Co., the owner of the Chicago Tribune, in the sale of Wrigley Field. In return for state assistance, Blagojevich allegedly wanted members of the paper’s editorial board who had been critical of him fired.
A 76-page FBI affidavit said the 51-year-old Democratic governor was intercepted on court-authorized wiretaps over the last month conspiring to sell or trade the vacant Senate seat for personal benefits for himself and his wife, Patti.
What puts Blagojevich over the top is that he did all this in full knowledge of the fact that the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois is Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the hard-nosed straight arrow ex-rugby player who nailed Mafia capo John Gambino, the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombers, World Trade Center bomber Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, and Cheney’s Cheney, Scooter Libby. Oh, yeah, in the Libby case he wrestled the New York Times to the mat as well.
Are you excited? I am:
Having watched Barbie lose market share to younger competitors such as Bratz and Hannah Montana, the world’s largest toymaker is using the doll’s 50th anniversary to relaunch it in a blizzard of worldwide events, starting with the opening of an experimental 36,000 sq ft flagship store in Shanghai.
The store will be a pink mecca for all things Barbie and will attempt to broaden the doll’s appeal to older girls and their mothers.
Watch this. It’s the law.
I know I shouldn’t do it, but it’s like gawking at an awful wreck on the Interstate. I just can’t help reading William Kristol. Here he is, once again getting everything completely topsy-turvy in his poor little head:
Similarly, if you’re against big government, you’ll oppose a huge public works stimulus package. If you think some government action is inevitable, you might instead point out that the most unambiguous public good is national defense. You might then suggest spending a good chunk of the stimulus on national security — directing dollars to much-needed and underfunded defense procurement rather than to fanciful green technologies, making sure funds are available for the needed expansion of the Army and Marines before rushing to create make-work civilian jobs. Obama wants to spend much of the stimulus on transportation infrastructure and schools. Fine, but lots of schools and airports seem to me to have been refurbished more recently and more generously than military bases I’ve visited.
On the front page of today’s New York Times, the commissars and the CEOs converge:
Congressional Democrats were drafting legislation for government control of the auto industry, including the possible creation of an oversight board…
The Kremlin seems to be exploiting the economic crisis to establish more control over financially weakened industries that it has long coveted…
The question is not whether this is really the world’s largest potato, but whether it is even a potato at all. Or is it just…
Former general and former drug czar and present Pentagon propagandist Barry McCaffrey, you’ll recall, was the subject of a recent evisceration by the New York Times.
If you don’t recall, follow the links in the Columbia Journalism Review article by Charles Kaiser from which the excerpt below comes.
It turns out that McCaffrey is the living embodiment of all the worst aspects of entrenched Washington corruption — a man who shares with scores of other retired officers a huge financial interest in having America conduct its wars for as long as possible.
House Financial Services Committee chairman Barney Frank recently announced that he wants to cut the Pentagon’s budget by twenty-five percent — or approximately $150 billion a year. Sadly, because of the entrenched position of McCaffrey and hundreds of others like him, there is almost no chance at all that president-elect Obama will do anything to curb the military-industrial threat about which President Dwight Eisenhower first warned us in his farewell address forty-eight years ago. With the willing complicity of NBC News, that threat just keeps on getting stronger and stronger, every year.
But the Times’s recent evisceration of the sleazy war flack wasn’t total. To it must be added Sy Hersh’s account of how McCaffrey’s role in Bush War I, the Gulf War, was not that of a conquering hero but rather a bloodthirsty, glory-seeking butcher who needlessly massacred hundreds if not thousands of fleeing and helpless Iraqi troops — during a ceasefire.
If there is any truth to this commentary by Ray McGovern that was posted on the Real News Network, Obama may have made a serious mistake in allowing Gates to continue on in his currrent capacity. Or perhaps Obama already knows about this problem and has plans to deal with it later. I also want to be skeptical about what McGovern says about Rumsfeld and have deep suspicions about it. But does anyone think what is said here about Rumsfeld is true? He was a tyrant, but perhaps less so than I formerly believed. Can anyone shed light on these questions for me because I’m hopelessly ill informed about these folks and want to hear more opinions on this subject.
Remarkably, this is from a former federal judge and the current attorney general of the United States. Something very similar could have been said, and no doubt was, by the legal enablers working for Hitler, Stalin, and the Spanish Inquisition.
“There is absolutely no evidence anybody who rendered a legal opinion either with respect to surveillance or with respect to interrogation policy did so for any reason other than to protect the security of the country and in the belief that he or she was doing something lawful,” Mukasey said.
Try it yourself the next time you’re picked up for speeding. Explain to the the cop that your lawyer told you the speed limit was 95 and let me know how it works out.
My nephew Will Doolittle writes in the Glens Falls Post-Star:
Michael Josephson, founder and president of the Josephson Institute of Ethics, is concerned about teenagers’ ethical shortcomings.
His institute this year surveyed tens of thousands of teenagers in high schools nationwide and, in widely discussed results, discovered that high percentages of teens lie, cheat and steal.
Almost a third admitted to stealing from a store within the last year, about 40 percent said they lie sometimes and 64 percent said they had cheated on a test in the last year. My first thought? These kids are honest!
Unfortunately, in response to another question, a quarter of the teens said they had lied in at least one of their answers on the survey.
When I see scary figures like that, I want to know why. Curiously, Mr. Josephson doesn’t.
“Our study is the what, not the why,” he said.
I suggested that adult greed and corruption is the root of the problem, but he didn’t bite.
“My reaction to that is I think you’re describing accurately another symptom of the same disease,” he said. “But I don’t see cause and effect the same way. My belief is their behavior is not copycat.”
And whatever the cause of the bad behavior, he said, he wants to intervene with young people, not adults, because he believes he can make the biggest impact that way.
“These young people aren’t done yet.”
They’ve barely gotten started, actually. But I still think it does no good to teach kids morals only to release them into an immoral world.
It’s a waste of time teaching kids to be honest if you support political leaders who lied to draw the country into war and kept lying to keep us there.
It’s useless to harp on respect for the law if you defend the disrespecting of the law by the nation’s top law enforcement officials like former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. It’s crazy to tell kids not to cheat if you shrug at cheating by the country’s biggest corporations, like the insurance companies that fought claims after Hurricane Katrina.
You cannot urge modesty and humility, then reward immodesty and arrogance, the way we do through our popular culture, day after day. We can’t yell at our children for their little lapses, but accept much greater sins from business and political leaders.
That would be like telling our children to play by the rules and never pick on others then allowing our government to flaunt the Constitution by holding people without charges and offend all decency by torturing them.
Not that we would ever stand for that.
If you AARP, better think twice. According to an article in Bloomberg News, they’re
charlatans, dishonest purveyors of overpriced products, con artists. Awe, never mind, let’s just come out and say it right. They’ve become a bunch of crooks, but maybe all of the above stated terms too. This article from Bloomberg spells out the extent of the racketeering in detail. Selected portions of the article appear below, but there is a lot more, so read the whole thing.
Arthur Laupus joined AARP because he thought the nonprofit senior-citizen-advocacy group would make his retirement years easier. He signed up for an auto insurance policy endorsed by AARP, believing the advertising that said he would save money.
He didn’t. When Laupus, 71, compared his car insurance rate with a dozen other companies, he found he was paying twice the average. Why? One reason, he learned, was because AARP was taking a cut out of his premium before sending the money to Hartford Financial Services Group, the provider of the coverage.
Laupus stumbled onto something that many members of the world’s largest seniors’ organization don’t know: The group, formerly called American Association of Retired Persons, collects hundreds of millions of dollars annually from insurers who pay for AARP’s endorsement of their policies.
AARP advertises that its Medicare supplemental insurance can save people thousands of dollars. While every type of supplemental policy sold by all companies must offer the same exact coverage under federal rules, AARP doesn’t sell the least expensive.
The AARP/UnitedHealth basic policy costs $582 a year more than a lower-cost competitor in New York and $428 more in Los Angeles, according to data on Medicare’s Web page. AARP spokesman Sohn says everyone should shop carefully.
Some members who didn’t quit have since concluded that their AARP-endorsed insurance costs are inflated. Richard Ostor of Indialantic, Florida, says he joined AARP seven years ago to get the lowest-cost car insurance.
He was satisfied with the insurance for a while -- until his rates started going up even though he had had no accidents or traffic tickets. In April, his AARP/Hartford premium rose to $950 a year. He shopped and switched to Geico after he found similar insurance for $640.
“AARP has great buying power, and people should be able to get the best deal,” says Ostor, 62, a retired divorce lawyer and bar owner. “AARP fell asleep at the switch or has a very sweet deal with The Hartford. This is unconscionable, what AARP has allowed to happen.”
Bill and Helen Cochran, an Abington, Maryland, couple who retired nine years ago, say they felt the same way when they learned they were paying more than they had to with AARP’s Medicare supplemental insurance.
AARP-endorsed life insurance policies are also more expensive than comparable coverage by competitors, says Mark Maurer of Tampa, Florida-based Low Load Insurance Services Inc., which sells policies to seniors.
A New York Life $50,000 permanent life insurance policy for a 65-year-old man available through AARP costs $286.17 a month, Maurer found. He says the same man can buy a $50,000 policy for 51 percent less from Cincinnati-based Columbus Life Insurance Co.
Where does all this money go? Well, in 2001, Horace B. Deets, executive director of AARP, earned $369,000, plus $141,806 in retirement benefits according to the NY Times. What does the executive for this organization earn now? It’s gone up quite a bit since 2001.
According to Charitywatch.org, William D. Novelli, Secretary & CEO and executive for the AARP Foundation & AARP, respectively, earned a total salary of $902,171. Too bad Social Security benefits haven’t risen that much in that time.
We may add this
gentleman person to our wanted posters collection, this one with a nice title and picture stating “Wanted for Ripping Off Old Poor People”. Plastering the posters all over his neighborhood and the places he visits such as Country Club entrances, etc. would seem to be a nice gesture to show the gratitude that poor retirees must feel for the rip off policies peddled by his organization. And just think, this guy probably feels he “earned” his salary.
And in case you don’t know, the picture below is one of a house belonging or formerly belonging to one of the Irish Travelers of South Carolina. If you don’t know what many of them do, I urge you to take a look at this article. Mr. Novelli might want to find a house in this group’s location in Aiken, South Carolina. He’d probably feel right at home among this crowd.
When that chariot came down to deliver Odetta from these earthly shackles, I know that she was picked up in a brand new Lincoln Zephyr which delivered her to stand at the right hand of Jesus, who only talks to those who have lived good lives and gone on to their heavenly reward, whatever that may be.
Gone but not forgotten, and one of my favorite folk musicians. I have her on many record albums and still treasure her voice and her message. May she live on forever in the memories of those who treasured her music and her many friends, relatives and those who were closest to her.
Two conflicting views of the presidency:
“I hear the voices, and I read the front page, and I know the speculation. But I’m the decider, and I decide what is best.”
“Understand where the vision for change comes from, first and foremost,” he told reporters at his third press conference in as many days. “It comes from me. That’s my job, is to provide a vision in terms of where we are going, and to make sure, then, that my team is implementing.”
I feel much better now. I’m not even troubled anymore about the prospect of having a national security adviser named Jim Jones.
And the President ends up carrying a lot of people's grief in his soul during a presidency. One of the things about the presidency is you deal with a lot of tragedy — whether it be hurricanes, or tornadoes, or fires, or death and you spend time being the Comforter-in-Chief. But the idea of being able to serve a nation you love is — has been joyful. In other words, my spirits have never been down. I have been sad, but the spirits are up.
Harshing on the twerp is sort of like kicking a dead dog, but hey, what harm can it do? Bush has no more feelings to hurt than the mutt does. So here’s an excerpt from Tom Degan, master of The Rant:
…All of that aside, we might as well face the fact that President Obama is now in charge of our beloved nation — in fact if not in law. All that’s left for Bush is the occasional photo op and mindless waves to a few carefully selected crowds of Right Wing robots — not unlike what Queen Elizabeth does. He doesn’t look like a president. He doesn’t talk like a president. He doesn’t act like a president. He’s an embarrassment.
For the rest of our history, even if we last into the next millennium, the image of George W. Bush’s twisted, grotesque smirk will be an eternal reminder of this generation’s jaw-dropping naivete involving politics and affairs of state. The fact that this half-witted little guttersnipe was elected twice to the most powerful office in the world defies credulity. And considering the gravitas of the two men he was able to defeat, his tenure as president is all-the-more embarrassing. It is akin to Jascha Heifetz losing to Jack Benny on American Idol.
Barack Obama, on the other hand, looks like a president! Think about that for a minute or two. On April 13, 1945, the morning after the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt, a long time White House employee was shocked when President Truman walked into the Oval Office. She had never seen a president walk before.
Can you imagine the mass, cosmic shock this country will experience when President Obama holds his first news conference? From coast to coast, men will be nudging their wives, “Did you hear that, Martha?? The President of the United States just put two grammatically correct sentences together! Pass me my smellin’ salts, darlin’!” No doubt about it, this is a new age…
Interesting piece (from which this exerpt comes) by Mark Rudd at The Rag Blog. Like him, I’ve read Dreams from My Father. And what I took away from it made me, too, cautiously hopeful.
So [Obama] has a narrow mandate for change, without any direction specified. What he’s doing now is moving on the most popular issues — the environment, health care, and the economy. He’ll be progressive on the environment because that has broad popular support; health care will be extended to children, then made universal, but the medical, pharmaceutical, and insurance corporations will stay in place, perhaps yielding some power; the economic agenda will stress stimulation from the bottom sometimes and handouts to the top at other times. It will be pragmatic — Summers is talking about the growth in income disparity as a significant problem. On foreign policy and the wars and the use of the military there will be no change at all. That’s what keeping Gates at the Pentagon and Clinton at State and not prosecuting the torturers is saying.
And never, never threaten the military budget. That will unite a huge majority of congress against him.
Here is another sordid real estate tale, this one ending in suicide and occurring before the current wave of real estate failures. And although the newspapers have not made us aware of suicides that have occurred in the current wave of failures caused by the heartless men who manage our money supply, we can be sure that, human nature being what it is, that probably hundreds or thousands have already occurred and perhaps many more are to come. I realize this is just speculation, but Americans take pride in their successes and feel shamed by their failures, which I suppose is part of the essence of capitalism and capitalist economies. I often wonder if this price is worth paying, because every suicide invariably trickles down through the generations and the pain is felt by successive generations when a loved one becomes so overcome with depression that he feels it necessary to leave these mortal shackles and travel on to whatever comes beyond. The Catholics would tell me that my great-grandfather is burning in hell, but I take offense at that. My great-grandfather was a kind man who cared about how others were treated and if there is indeed a God, a man like my great-grandfather would most assuredly be welcomed into the community of God and not the community of the evildoers like George Bush who only claim to be Christians.
Evil men like those whose greed caused the greatest real estate calamity in modern times. I know very little about my great-grandfather because his son, my grandfather, never spoke of him after he died. It was too painful for him.
But my great-grandfather's story is a simple one. He came to America, suffered hardship for a period of time, but was able to turn hard work into a successful business enterprise. The business was so successful that he sold it for a handsome sum and then began looking for fruitful land for growing beautiful flowers that men could give to their loved ones, especially their wives, floral arrangements that could add grace and dignity to funerals, roses that could allow romance to blossom and turn into love and eternal commitment by two souls. But all that was ruined when he bought land in Florida through a man named Ponzi or one of his surrogates. The Florida land boom did him in. My mother tells me when he traveled to see this glorious piece of land that could add more grace and honor and pleasure to thousands more people who appreciated the gift of flowers that he had a special gift in cultivating, that all that was there was swampland. He had been hoodwinked.
Were there prosecutions? Very few. I’m one who believes that the proper method in dealing with the current scandal is to require the offenders to give community service to their communities after prosecution by picking up trash, by culling through garbage and taking out the recyclables, and by being seen in the community paying for their crimes. However, defining who the offenders were would be difficult. Personally I'd start with the top, a man named Greenspan, and move down the ladder. The prosecutions should trickle down like manna from heaven so that the lesson of greed and miscalculation would never be forgotten by those at the highest levels of income and power. But I’m a realist and know that our laws are not set up to prosecute all of those who caused the problems that have set our economy in a tailspin and caused countless millions to suffer incalculable losses. Nevertheless, I am firmly of the belief that prosecuting the smaller players in this saga will not prevent the problem from recurring. We must start at the top and move down the ladder. I am not hopeful this will occur.
Without further ado, here's a business writeup about my great-grandfather in his glory years, before the Charles Ponzis arrived on the scene. Men who were able to get away with their scheme because we had no regulation in place and men in power who did not believe in regulation. The parallels to today are uncanny.
I apologize for the ragged condition that this document is in; however, it has been kept for many years and likely looked at many times over the years, so reading it might be a little difficult, but you should be able to read most of it. And of course, as noted in the article, my grandfather was a committed socialist. If that evil tyrant, Alexander Mitchell Palmer, who created the Palmer Raids and was almost as evil a tyrant as Michael Mukasey and George W. Bush and many of their subordinates, was also responsible for my great-grandfather’s suicide, I'm not aware of it, but there is much that I do not know as this was not a subject that was talked about in our family except in whispers when my grandfather was not around or working. I guess the lesson in all of this is that when government officials fail to do their jobs by properly regulating industries and individuals, which history tells us that many will resort to greed at the first opportunity, the pain goes on not for just the next business cycle, but for generations. If we fail to heed this lesson, we will repeat it over and over and over again, as we have so many times before. If we have any more opportunities. George Bush has practically bankrupted the nation by celebrating and rewarding greed. If the Democrats won’t stop the greed and attempt to loot the nation and its people again, it will truly be time to leave the nation for other shores. The statue of liberty would then become a useless pile of copper that would best be scrapped and sent to China.