Tag Archives: Current Events

Let us now hang our collective heads in shame

The worst of humanity’s commercial and primal instincts are today converging in China, where it’s version of the TV show “Survivor” features condemned prisoners who are encouraged to breakdown in confession – before . . .

. . . being led off to be executed.

The show is setting records in popularity with 40 million viewers every Saturday night. The show has a market advantage of a country that can supply an endless line of subjects. The hostess of the show offers to convey messages to family and friends as well as taping a final message. Now the show will begin to appear in Britain. While there are 55 capital crimes in China, the show focuses on murderers and cases determined by the officials to be “educational.”

There is an obvious “Running Man” feel about this show that is entirely creepy. The crossover of criminal law into television entertainment has long been featured in movies and literature as the ultimate sign of social and moral breakdown. While Communist officials may insist that they are merely “educating” the viewer, the voyeuristic element is obvious.

From Jonathan Turley, here.

And God laughed

Well done! We’re right back in 1979; this time in Afghanistan

From today’s story in The Washington Post about the growing demonstrations in Afghanistan following the burning of a pile of Korans.

Nine Afghans were killed Friday [in Kabul]. . . [and]  six protesters and a police officer were killed in Herat Province when demonstrators tried to storm the U.S. Consulate. . . at each demonstrations, protestors shouted ‘Death to America’. . . More than 20 have been killed since the burning incident.

Remove this ‘causus belli’ of the Koran burning and that could have been written in 1979 about Iran, when 52 American Embassy employees were taken hostage.

While I’m on the subject: I haven’t posted that tally lately – Today is the 119th day of the 11th year of the War in Afghanistan.

When Bruce speaks, a lotta people listen

Haven’t been paying much attention in recent years to popular music. I do notice when something happens (RIP Clarence et al) but don’t generally pay a lot of attention when soemthing new is published.

Here’s what The Guardian has to say about Bruce Springstein’s new album, Wrecking Ball.

Indeed, [the album] is as angry a cry from the belly of a wounded America as has been heard since the dustbowl and Woody Guthrie, a thundering blow of New Jersey pig iron down on the heads of Wall Street and all who have sold his country down the swanny. Springsteen has gone to the great American canon for ammunition, borrowing from folk, civil war anthems, Irish rebel songs and gospel. The result is a howl of pain and disbelief as visceral as anything he has ever produced, that segues into a search for redemption: “Hold tight to your anger/ And don’t fall to your fears … Bring on your wrecking ball.”

Springsteen plunges into darker, richer musical landscapes in a sequence of breath-taking protest songs – Easy Money, Shackled and Drawn, Jack of All Trades, the scarily bellicose Death to My Hometown and This Depression with Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine – before the album turns on Wrecking Ball in search of some spiritual path out of the mess the US is in.

I may have to borrow a dime for this one. Here’s a cut.

We absolutely cannot subsidize energy developement because that would be Kenyan communism – unless it’s fossil fuel or nuclear

It’s remarkable my country could afford to do this after the $500 million in loan guarantees to Solyndra, because I thought – besides being !European!Socialism! –  it busted us. FOX News told me so.

The Obama administration has offered the Vogtle project $8.3 billion in federal loan guarantees as part of its pledge to expand nuclear power.

I do not know if this is real . . .

. . . but it is funny.

23, 23, 23

Yada yada yada. I shall go to bed. And in the morning it’ll be something like 24, 21, 22 or 25, 24, 23. Or something.

Sleep well.

Thief of Baghdad

POSTED BY ORHAN

Several times a day what I read in the news makes me want to throw up, but this sentence on MSN took me way beyond the dry heaves to something I can only call brainpuke, the involuntary expulsion of ideas so vile that they and sanity cannot be retained by the mind simultaneously. Here we see the media in action, already manufacturing the “Iraq War” that will be inscribed in the history books:

President Barack Obama meets Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki Monday, marking America’s exit from a war launched in a aerial “shock and awe” assault that went on to deeply wound both nations.

The notion of some sort of equivalence or mutuality of suffering between Iraq and the United States–some kind of shared pain experienced by both sides in this war, or even that it can be called a “war”: it was an invasion and occupation, on a false pretext, and it laid waste to a nation that had done nothing to ours; almost 5000 US soldiers dead, compared to between 100,000 and a million Iraqis; millions of internal and external refugees, infrastructure ravaged, cities reduced to rubble, children playing in streets strewn with depleted uranium, civil society extinguished, civil war continuing to rage–should be beyond the conceivable and the civilized; yet it’s what we need to believe and so we do, safely ensconced in our sense of moral certitude.

Hail to the chief

POSTED BY ORHAN

Despite the media hoopla and the Obama administration’s braggadocio surrounding the troop exit from Iraq, the US planned to maintain troops in the country indefinitely. The only reason for the withdrawal is that the Iraqi government refused to grant future immunity to US troops.

It was a slick move by Maliki, and demonstrates Obama’s lack of negotiating skills, even when he’s holding the big stick. He should have asked George W. Bush for advice.

In any event, only a neocon could be unhappy with the outcome: US troops out of Iraq.

Meet the new boss

POSTED BY ORHAN

According to today’s BBC, “an Iraqi judicial committee has issued an arrest warrant for the mainly Shia Arab country’s Sunni Arab Vice-President, Tariq al-Hashemi. The warrant was issued under anti-terrorism laws…”

The main Sunni political party is now boycotting the cabinet and accuses Shia Prime Minister Nouri Maliki of “monopolizing power”.

Meanwhile Danny Schechter reports, “Maliki has dipped into Saddam’s playbook by deploying his own secret police and military to round up hundreds of former Baathist supporters…A US think-tank documenting his crackdown is saying that Maliki is primarily concerned with his own survival.” Sort of like, uh, Saddam Hussein. And, like Saddam, “he too uses his son, Ahmad, to evict US firms from the Green Zone in Baghdad and do his father’s forceful bidding. And human rights groups are criticizing him for running secret jails, imprisoning journalists and critics, and firing 100 professors from a university in Saddam’s old hometown of Tikrit.”

Schecter continues, “With Maliki now terrorizing his own enemies, often in the name of questionable “plots” to overthrow him, Iraq will remain volatile. Bear in mind that after all these years, the Iraqis are still suffering from a broken electricity system as well as serious food and medical shortages.”

Dear Elvis, here I go again. Krauthammer’s got a good column

He looks at Gingrich’s new rise and at Newt vs. Mitt – he seems not to like the Newtster much, which is a tough place for a conservative who’s not too enthusiastic about Romney either. Krauthammer, eminence grise of the conservative press, doesn’t come right out and say so but he makes it abundantly clear between the lines.

He offers the best explanation I’ve seen of why Gingrich might sneak through for quite a while in spite of his myriad political errors, not the least of which is flipping his flop for money and showing off (think the global warming commercial with Nancy Pelosi). And, of course, his cozy relationship with the  satan Freddie Mac who, as Sean Hannity knows, caused the global financial meltdown.

The list is long. But what distinguishes Gingrich from Romney — and mitigates these heresies in the eyes of conservatives — is that he authored a historic conservative triumph: the 1994 Republican takeover of the House after 40 years of Democratic control.

Which means that Gingrich’s apostasies are seen as deviations from his conservative core — while Romney’s flip-flops are seen as deviations from . . . nothing.

But (as I’ve been saying) he’ll eventually shoot himself in the foot . . .

Gingrich has his own vulnerabilities. The first is . . . characterological rather than ideological: his own unreliability. Gingrich has a self-regard so immense that it rivals Obama’s — but, unlike Obama’s, is untamed by self-discipline.

Also, even though . . .

. . . many conservatives seem quite prepared to overlook his baggage . . [but] independents and disaffected Democrats . . .  will not be so forgiving . .  harder to overlook the fact that the man who denounces Freddie Mac to the point of suggesting that those in Congress who aided and abetted it be imprisoned, took $30,000 a month from that very same parasitic federal creation.

Finally . . .

. . .  Who is more likely to prevent that second term? And who, if elected, is less likely to unpleasantly surprise?

Republicans on OWS: a preview

POSTED BY ORHAN

This week Frank Luntz, Republican spinmeister extraordinaire, spoke to the Republican Governors Association about how to “frame” Occupy Wall Street to the public.

“I’m so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I’m frightened to death,” said Luntz. “They’re having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism.”

Luntz is a master of using language to trigger subtle emotional responses favorable to the speaker, and for years has been directing Republicans in how to effectively spin their message.

Since Republican politicians obediently follow Luntz’s dictates in lockstep, you’ll be hearing these memes from conservatives of all stripes as they spin OWS in the coming days and weeks. The rules are quite instructive, especially since almost all public speech by the political class is generally finessed in the same way. And Luntz is the very best; the Democrats don’t have anybody in his league. In fact, President Obama would do well to ponder rule 6 carefully.

1. Don’t say ‘capitalism.’
“I’m trying to get that word removed and we’re replacing it with either ‘economic freedom’ or ‘free market,’ ” Luntz said. “The public . . . still prefers capitalism to socialism, but they think capitalism is immoral. And if we’re seen as defenders of quote, Wall Street, end quote, we’ve got a problem.”

2. Don’t say that the government ‘taxes the rich.’ Instead, tell them that the government ‘takes from the rich.’
“If you talk about raising taxes on the rich,” the public responds favorably, Luntz cautioned. But “if you talk about government taking the money from hardworking Americans, the public says no. Taxing, the public will say yes.”

3. Republicans should forget about winning the battle over the ‘middle class.’ Call them ‘hardworking taxpayers.’
“They cannot win if the fight is on hardworking taxpayers. We can say we defend the ‘middle class’ and the public will say, I’m not sure about that. But defending ‘hardworking taxpayers’ and Republicans have the advantage.” Continue reading

Ketchup to reduce debt. Who knew?

Richard Nixon said ketchup was a vegetable and the only vegetable he ate. And yet the man lived to 81. Plus he got all famous and wrote books and stuff.  So maybe Congress is on to something here.

In the great tradition of this country congress declared ketchup still a vegetable “following intense lobbying from the pizza and French fry industries.” (Lottsa fried potatoes still okay too.)

This agreement improves childhood nutrition by providing school nutritionists with the ability to serve healthy foods kids enjoy while avoiding burdening schools with massive new costs,” institute President and CEO Kraig Naasz said in a statement. “Of particular interest to frozen food producers, this agreement ensures that nutrient-rich vegetables such as potatoes, corn and peas will remain part of a balanced, healthy diet in federally-funded school meals.”

It’s a damn good thing they’ve managed to find time to pass this bill, as busy as they’ve been with matters so critical to the nation by addressing the tough economic issues like . . . ( 🙂 ! I’m kidding. Fooled ya’, didn’t I!)

The 112th Congress is on pace to be one of the least productive in recent memory — as measured by votes taken, bills made into laws, nominees approved. By most of those metrics, this crowd is underperforming even the “do-nothing Congress” of 1948, as President Harry Truman dubbed it.

 

Oh. Great.

We really need this?

CNN is gone, but Joplin is still there

Still there and still trying to cope. Duane at The Joplin Globe posted this today.

Here’s the way it works these days in Joplin:

In the morning, I teared up over an obituary in Thursday’s Joplin Globe.  It was an obituary of a tornado victim, a nine-year-old little boy who, like one of my own once-nine-year-old little boys, loved Pokemon and had “the dirt and scrapes” that come with being a nine-year-old little boy.

I later went to Target to pick up a few things. I ran into the father of a boy I coached ten years ago, a boy who now works at my favorite Joplin restaurant and has a wife and two kids. They lived in the apartments by Dillon’s Market on 20th Street.  Lost everything. No renter’s insurance because they had little left over to spend on such “luxuries.”  Remember, he works at a local restaurant.  Just getting started.

The father said he was grateful for FEMA, who is helping out his son.  FEMA, just one voice of the American people in this tragedy.  Yes, I said, I’m thankful for FEMA, too.

It turns out that the father of the boy I coached so long ago was also a coach these days.  He coached soccer for a Christian youth group.  He had just attended the funeral of a nine-year-old little boy he coached, a boy who played his last soccer game the Saturday before life changed in Joplin.  A little boy whose obituary I read in the Joplin Globe.

In the aisle, in the middle of the store, we shared some tears.  Said goodbye.

I hope they have that in short sleeve white

from Bill at Under the Lobseterscope

Friday again

It’s been quite a week:

  • Glenn Beck turned from a populist demagogue into our very lord and savior come back to earth to teach us a new history of western civilization;
  • a disturbed man saw a gap in programming at the Discovery Channel, so he grabbed his guns and bombs and headed off to have a chat with them – it ended badly;
  • caterpillars ate a pretty green shrub near my front door;
  • the Iraq War is over;
  • the Iraq War is not over;
  • and my 98-year old father has found yet another new reason for living (don’t ask).

(And since we’re measuring increments of time here,  how about this little measurement: today is the 330th day of the ninth year of the war in Afghanistan.)

We may need more than an oldie today. A laugh? Yeah, a laugh. So, before we go all sing song . . . this is only a minute, do not let your eyes wander and pay close attention.

Earl is comin’ for the gays

See, God talks to me through my back teeth, right here.

God keeps having to send hurricanes to the U.S. to punish us for not stoning our gays to death – this time it’s Cape Hatteras again. Who knew they were such sinners?

A friend returns

One of my favorite new bloggers has been a bit too busy to entertain me recently, but he’s back today with a wicked good post about BP. Check it out.

More of this please

Exactly right.

from something called DemRapidResponse (part of DNC?).

Just wow.

Last night, my brother was here for dinner. He’s a professor of philosophy, and we were having an interesting discussion. He tossed out the idea that a logical conclusion of the Tea Party movement would be to define the current US Federal Government as the new ‘British’. Which could eventually – if kept up – lead to an overthrow.

Look what’s just appeared. Presented without further comment.

Reagan – again

Yup. Recently read Gary Willis’ Bomb Power. (I didn’t finish it – by the middle I was skimming but not because it isn’t a superb and important book, which it is – but because it was overdue at the library and not renewable.)

But to the Reagan reference – this is a difficult time for my country and a big part of our current crises can be traced to regulatory failures. And as even children know, the dismantling and neutering of the regulatory apparatus began aggressively in Reagan’s administration. Clinton stopped the bleeding, but he didn’t do much to strengthen its bite – then George W. picked up where Reagan left off but with more enthusiasm. Wherever his administration was stymied by existing legislation, they got around that by installing lobbyists and industry insiders into the agencies they were charged to regulate. So they didn’t. And that was that and here we are.

BP gas stateion - small type says: You are responsible for any spills.

Willis notes the successes of Carter’s enforcement of existing legislation and then the addition of the 1978 Energy Act, created in response to the ‘oil shocks’ a few years earlier.

“Not surprisingly, it all worked. Between 1975 and 1985, American passenger vehicle mileage went from around 13.5 mpg to 27.5 mpg  – which helped to creat a global oil glut from the mid-80’s to the mid-90’s, which not only weakened OPEC, but also helped to unravel the Soviet Union, then the world’s second-largest producer . . . Then Reagan declare government to be the problem, ignoring the very recent and succesful ‘solution’ . . . He began by systematically dismantling his predecessor’s energy program. He removed the subsidies for wind and solar. So technology pioneered by American companies and financed by American taxpayers was sold to foreign firms. He relaxed pollution and mileage standards. Reagan stocked the agencies with people who did not believe in what they did. They were there to gut what they were supposed to be promoting.

Reagan’s generally sympathetic biographer Lou Cannon said of this: “Overall, Reagan left a ruinous regulatory legacy.”

Thanks guys. We in western Florida, where the Wall Street crisis cut the value of our homes by 40% and who are now dreading the loss of our beachs AND our tourist fueled economy thank you.

Not liking this

Well, here we are at the 244th day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan. I just took a look over at icasualites. It looks like US fatalities for the first five months of  this year are ahead of last year. In fact, with a few outliers, 2010 looks to be the worst month since the war began. When you look at the chart for ‘coalition’ fatalities, it’s even worse.

Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
2001 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 5 4 12
2002 10 11 9 5 1 3 0 1 1 6 1 1 49
2003 4 7 12 2 1 3 2 4 2 4 6 1 48
2004 9 2 3 3 8 5 2 3 4 5 7 1 52
2005 2 1 6 18 4 27 2 15 11 7 3 3 99
2006 1 17 7 1 11 18 9 10 6 10 7 1 98
2007 0 14 5 8 11 12 14 18 8 10 11 6 117
2008 7 1 8 5 17 28 20 22 27 16 1 3 155
2009 15 15 13 6 12 25 45 51 40 59 18 18 317
2010 30 32 26 20 34 19 0 0 0 0 0 0 161

Okay. This is over the top

Apparently new video of the oil leak – high def video!! Wow! – has been turned over by BP under pressure from a congressional committee. I saw it on CNN an hour ago;  it provides much more specific information to scientists about the actual volume of the leak.

The CNN anchor (sorta pretty, long sexy hair, lottsa makeup) asked the ‘reporter person’ (male, standing in front of CNN’s ridiculous and newest on-screen graphic gadget) why it took so long to get this type of video. The ‘reporter’ solemnly explained that BP told him it was different than the live feed, because it had to be downloaded to CD on the ship and then transported to somewhere else. Which takes a lot of time. And then they both nodded, just as solemnly.

CNN – the most trusted name in news
CNN – the best political team on television

That’s what they said.

I’m wondering

Why didn’t the Israeli commandos board that ship bound for Gaza with stun guns? Tranquilizer darts? Orders to shoot, but not to kill? Commandos are supposed  to know how to do that.

UPDATE:  I may have to take that comment back. It appears that it’s more complicated and that  the Israelis first used rifles that fired paintballs.  I’ll update once I do some more reading.

More than one clean up called for

Krugman three days ago:

Something Rotten At Interior

Something is very wrong at the Interior Department.

Actually, that’s not news. No part of the government was as thoroughly corrupted during the Bush years; Interior became a case of government of the extractive industries, by the extractive industries, and very much for the extractive industries. And it was going to take time to clean up the mess.

But has the cleanup even started? Every day there’s another news story with Ken Salazar firmly declaring that he’s losing patience with BP, and that if the company doesn’t get with it … he’ll make another firm declaration tomorrow. Meanwhile, we get assurances that no more drilling is being allowed pending review, followed by stories that, well, actually it is; we get stories about MMS officials partying with cakes inscribed “Drill, baby, drill.”

What this says to me is that officials at Interior are acting as if nothing has changed. Maybe that’s because Salazar is just a weak leader, and they’ve concluded that they have nothing to fear from him. Or maybe the fears of environmentalists about Salazar’s motives were correct, and he’s saying one thing to the public but another thing to his subordinates, assuring them that he’s not serious about all that change stuff.

Either way, he isn’t doing his job — and the Obama administration is steadily leaking credibility. And the buck for that stops you know where.

Obama has appointed quite a few good people  but I remember being saddened when his offer to Bruce Babbitt to take over Interior went nowhere. Babbitt was a serious and sterling choice. But it didn’t happen. Interior was /is a department screaming for real change.

By the way, another place needing real change is Afghanistan. It’s probably not going to happen while we’re there or after we leave. And still,  it is the 232nd day of the ninth year of the war there.

Oil and war – one equals the other and we seem to crave both.

Well, almost a trillion dollars. Isn’t that nice.

According to Politico, the Federal government is – once again – going to pretend to beef up enforcement at the Mexican border. I have seen this movie before. Today, Obama is asking Congress for $500,000,000 for the effort. That’s half a billion. We’re spending a friggin’ billion dollars a day on wars.

And by the way, we are just a few scant billions (two in fact) away from a grand total of A TRILLION DOLLARS spent in Iraq and Afghanistan.

No comment

That well-known commie rag*, The Wall Street Journal has a poll up this morning – 14,000 have voted at this point.

YES:  8.5% ;   NO:   91.5%

The question?  Do you support the Texas Board of Education’s plan for social studies curriculum changes that portray America as a nation rooted in Biblical values?

* Fair disclaimer:   The poll comes out of the WSJ news side, not the rancid Editorial side. And other than that twisted department under the guidance of Paul Gigot, it’s a good paper.  But I felt like using the words “commie rag’ this morning.

A terrible beauty

These pictures are from the Department of Energy, via Talking Points Memo. The Deep Water Horizon burning just before it sank into the Gulf.

Not a terrorist; terrorized perhaps

This is really quite sad. The Austin pilot who crashed his plane into an IRS office seems to have done it as a protest. He also sounds as if he hopes – and maybe expects – others to follow his lead until government and business take notice.

In his manifesto, he rails against many things, but at the heart of it is a man who views the world from the bottom looking up and sees ‘up there’ only the vicious and greedy in the persona of government and big business. He feels utterly abused and used. And he’s tired of fighting back.

Anyone who takes his beef this far has lost touch.  But even as he draws an exaggerated picture full of stereotypes, he is not all wrong. A good deal of what he sees is there. He isn’t imagining all of it; what he is imagining, is that that is all there is.


He ends his ‘manifesto on a bitter-sweet note, offering himself up:

“I am finally ready to stop this insanity.  Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let’s try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well.”