There Are Scary Creatures Waiting to Get You!!
Politics Plus is a progressive perspective. All points of view are welcome, but personal attacks against me or anyone who comments here are forbidden. Trading insults never changes anyone's mind. After over a year offline, it's great to be back! This is mostly a political blog, but on occation you will see posts about my personal life and the volunteer work I do in and out of prison as an ex-convict helping other former felons become productive, pro-social members of our communities. Enjoy!
Here’s a real beauty from the outer reaches of wing-nuttery also known as the mainstream GOP. Watch out folks!!
The religious right has long railed against Halloween, condemning its pagan roots and claiming it promotes witchcraft and the occult. This year some groups are embracing the day as a time to reach kids with a pro-life and Christian message, while others use the day to burn “wicked” books and CDs. And one writer for Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network warns parents that witches curse Halloween candy.
“[M]ost of the candy sold during this season has been dedicated and prayed over by witches,” wrote CBN’s Kimberly Daniels. “I do not buy candy during the Halloween season. Curses are sent through the tricks and treats of the innocent whether they get it by going door to door or by purchasing it from the local grocery store. The demons cannot tell the difference.”
Daniels continued, “Halloween is much more than a holiday filled with fun and tricks or treats. It is a time for the gathering of evil that masquerades behind the fictitious characters of Dracula, werewolves, mummies and witches on brooms. The truth is that these demons that have been presented as scary cartoons actually exist. I have prayed for witches who are addicted to drinking blood and howling at the moon.”… [emphasis added]
Inserted from <Minnesota Independent>
It did not take long before several progressive web sites picked up on this and started pouring on the ridicule. The article quickly disappeared from the CBN web site, but if you have trouble believing this, the following article contains a link to a Google cache of the original page.
An article on CBN.com that alleges, among other things, that “most of the candy sold during this season has been dedicated and prayed over by witches” has been removed by the site after becoming an object of mockery by The Huffington Post. (We linked a cached version.) The site ran a slideshow and poll of the most evil candy brands.
Why did CBN remove the post, which originally appeared at Charisma.com? Is HuffPo guilty of mocking Christianity, or are they justly targeting a fringe belief?
We’ve reached out to CBN to find out why they took the post down, and we await their response. There are several possibilities. It’s possible that CBN’s editors re-thought the content of the article, given the negative attention being paid to it. The piece also suggests the existence of an unholy trinity, and a laundry list of “behind-the-scenes” Halloween activities that includes:
* Sex with demons
* Orgies between animals and humans
* Animal and human sacrifices
* Sacrificing babies to shed innocent blood
* Rape and molestation of adults, children and babies
* Revel nights
* Conjuring of demons and casting of spells
* Release of “time-released” curses against the innocent and the ignorant…
Inserted from <Mediaite>
Teabaggers! Witches have been praying over your GOP Kool-Aid! They have cursed it with evil spells! If you drink again, you may become rational, kind, and sane!
Seriously, what’s really frightening here is that people who actually believe this garbage are sitting in Congress trying to influence health care reform, climate change reform, EDUCATION, and other serious issues.
I must add one more thing. My perspective is that of a Christian, not like these, but an authentic one that has rejected the dogma of the religious right, who have hijacked Christianity and replaced the real Jesus with the Republican Supply-side Jesus with his gospel of war, fear, and intolerance. In my time, I’ve had the pleasure to know several Wiccans. In my experience, their behavior has been far more Christian than anything I see coming from the religious right. Therefore, to all Wiccans, in the spirit of Christian peace, love and brotherhood, Happy Samhain.
Do you remember Alfredo Gonzales testifying before Congress? I might. I’m not sure. I don’t recall. CREW has posted the redacted notes from Cheney’s FBI interview. It will make you sick.
When President Ronald Reagan was asked about Iran-Contra, he replied that he did not remember whether he had authorized two illegal arms sales to Iran in 1985. Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales stated "I don't recall" or similar phrases 64 times in one memorable day of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee -- a performance so memorable that it has since been set to music as a cantata.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney may now have joined their illustrious company, with the release of a redacted summary (pdf) of his May 8, 2004 interview by the FBI concerning the outing of CIA officer Valerie Plame in July 2003.
The summary was released on Friday afternoon in response to a Freedom of Information request from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. It consists, however, almost entirely of things that Cheney asserted he either did not know or could not recall.
Cheney advised the FBI, for example, "that he has no idea who may have made the unauthorized disclosure" of Plame's identity, that he did not know of any other reporters besides Robert Novak who might have received the information, and that no one had ever confided to him that they had passed information about Plame to reporters. Cheney also claimed that to the best of his knowledge no one had ever told him about discussing the issue with reporters, even after Novak's column outing Plame appeared on July 14, 2003.
In fact, by his own testimony, Cheney took almost no interest in either Ambassador Joseph Wilson's trip to Niger in 2002 to check out claims that Saddam Hussein had attempted to purchase uranium there or the outing of Wilson's wife in 2003. Cheney said the first he knew of Wilson's trip was when he read about it in a New York Times by Nicholas Kristof in May 2003 -- and that he took almost no interest in the matter even after that point.
Cheney also said he "could not remember any reaction he had to the Kristof article at the time it was published," did not follow subsequent newspaper coverage of Wilson's claims, was not aware of whether reporters were asking his office about the trip, and only discussed the matter with Central Intelligence Director George Tenet once by phone.
When asked about Wilson's New York Times editorial of July 6, 2003, Cheney stated that he was "relatively certain he spoke to someone about the article, but he cannot recall exactly who it was." Even when shown a copy of the editorial with notes in his own handwriting in the margin, he indicated "he has no specific recollection of when he wrote the notes" and that "he cannot recall if he discussed the underlined portions of the editorial with any one."
When Cheney was asked about specific members of the Bush administration with whom he might have discussed Wilson or Plame, he consistently replied that he did not have, was not aware of having had, or did not recall any such discussions. At one point, Cheney "stated that the identity of Valerie Wilson and her employment was not high on his radar screen and her employment with the CIA and relationship with Joe Wilson did not figure prominently in his thinking."
Even when Cheney was shown a document with Joseph Wilson's name written in his handwriting in the margin in his own handwriting, he insisted that "he has no specific memory of this document, and recalls no reason why he kept it... [emphasis added]
Inserted from <Raw Story>
Never before have I heard such a clear case of dissembling. The man is clearly guilty of treason. He outed the identity of a CIA agent. In the process, he exposed the company for which she claimed to work as her cover. Thus, Cheney effectively outed a network of CIA agents, whose cover was based on the same front company. Cheney also outed all the people who dealt with Plame and those other CIA agents, while using that cover. This surely included several foreigners who had become CIA assets. To minimize the damage, we will never know how severe the damage the loss of an entire network has been to our intelligence gathering capability. Nor will we know how many foreign assets died as a result of Cheney’s treason. The price to fix the intelligence around the policy in order justify the failed GOP war for oil and conquest in Iraq was higher that we will ever know.
Yesterday I felt exhausted from lack of sleep due to coughing, so I did not get out to visit other blogs. I shall as soon as I feel a little better.
If you haven’t voted yet, please do. I’ll be changing the poll tomorrow. Any Suggestions?
Today’s Jig Zone puzzle took me 3:58. To do it, Click Here. How did you do?
Here’s your cartoon:
Will you be dressing up as a Repuglican to scare children?
First watch the video:
Then sign the petition:
PETITION TO SENATE DEMOCRATS:
"Any Democratic senators -- including Joe Lieberman -- who support a Republican attempt to block a vote on health care reform should be stripped of their leadership titles. Americans deserve a clean up-or-down vote on health care reform that includes a public option."
Over 90,000 signatures and growing.
To sign, Click Here.
When the Pelosi said she would unveil the House health care bill, the email went out and Faux Noise cranked up the propaganda machine. To same America from the evils of Islamofascism by forming a “flash mob” go protest the announcement, and a magnificent mob they were… all ten of them.
It certainly wasn't the "flash mob" organizers were hoping for, but a small but determined group of Tea Party Patriots gathered on the Capitol Lawn this morning to protest the announcement of a final House health care reform bill.
TPMDC counted about 10 Tea Partiers holding signs denouncing a "government takeover" of health care and looking with disdain as House Democrats gathered on the Capitol Steps. They stood in a larger group of protesters from other groups, mostly focused on abortion rights.
Joann Abbott, a grandmother from Northern Virginia, made the drive to the protest this morning after seeing the email sent by Tea Party leaders last night. When asked if she was part of the "flash mob," she laughed. "I'm here on my own," she said, looking around at the scattered protesters around her. "If this is organized, we suck."
Lisa Miller, another protestor, said she was an organizer with a D.C. tea party group. She insisted that the event wasn't organized by a national organization, despite yesterday's email which was signed by a group calling itself "Your Tea Party Patriots National Coordinator Team."
"People keep reporting we're a single group," she said. "But we're not -- we're all separate."
"It's like we're in different cars but we're all going in the same direction," Abbott explained… [emphasis added]
Inserted from <TPM>
No doubt, when the House Republicans try to pass a resolution praising the teabaggers for this “flash mob”, these ten poor misguided sheep will have ballooned into a crowd of thousands.
BARF Baucus is at it again. First BARF barfed on health care reform with BARF (the Baucus Against a Real Fix bill). If health wasn’t a sufficient target for BARF’s barf, BARF has raised his sights to barf on life itself.
Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer can pass a climate bill out of her committee without Sen. Max Baucus, but losing the powerful moderate could set the stage for a blowout battle.
The Montana Democrat threw a bomb into the committee hearing room Tuesday when he said he had “serious reservations” about the Democrats’ climate change bill, a statement that immediately sparked fierce speculation that he would vote against the legislation.
Scott Segal, a lobbyist for energy companies at Bracewell & Giuliani, said a “no” vote from Baucus — one of two moderate Democrats on the committee — would be “a very uncomfortable signal to moderate Democrats in many regions of the country, particularly the West, the Midwest and the Southeast.”
Baucus himself warned Tuesday that losing his vote could cost the Democratic leadership moderate support from across the Senate. Democratic aides said Wednesday that a “no” vote from Baucus would slow the momentum for the bill, which is already struggling to get oxygen as Congress works through health care, regulatory reform and the year’s overdue spending bills.
Boxer said she’s focused on getting a bill out of committee with as many members as possible, even if that means leaving Baucus behind… [emphasis added]
Inserted from <Common Dreams>
One reason is that Montana has resources that are high producers of greenhouse gasses, including one of the biggest single producers of greenhouse gasses in the country, Max Baucus himself. Do we really need DINOs liken BARF in key committee positions?
Yesterday the congestion in my chest started to break up. That’s a good ting, but it also kept me coughing up gunk and unable to sleep all day and all night.
Today’s Jig Zone puzzle took me 4:33. To do it, Click Here. How did you do?
Here’s your cartoon:
When I was at the Doctor’s office the other day, they told me they had to postpone my H1N1 Vaccine against GOP flu, because they cannot give the mist to anyone over 49, and they haven’t received the shots. The vaccine shortage is a major problem, and Republicans are lining up to blame Obama. They’re even making “Obama Gave Me the Flu” T-Shirts for kids. Where does the blame really lie?
The moment a novel strain of swine flu emerged in Mexico last spring, President Obama instructed his top advisers that his administration would not be caught flat-footed in the event of a deadly pandemic. Now, despite months of planning and preparation, a vaccine shortage is threatening to undermine public confidence in government, creating a very public test of Mr. Obama’s competence.
The shortage, caused by delays in the vaccine manufacturing process, has put the president in exactly the situation he sought to avoid — one in which questions are being raised about the government’s response.
Aware that the president would be judged on how well he handled his first major domestic emergency, the Obama administration left little to chance. It built a new Web site, Flu.gov — a sort of one-stop shopping for information about H1N1, the swine flu virus. It staged role-playing exercises for public health officials and members of the news media.
It commissioned public service announcements, featuring the fuzzy Sesame Street characters Elmo and Rosita singing in English and Spanish about “the right way to sneeze.” The president added a swine flu update to his regular intelligence briefing — he also receives an in-depth biweekly memorandum on the prevalence of the disease worldwide and in the United States — and appeared in the Rose Garden to urge Americans to wash their hands.
Early on, Mr. Obama told his aides he wanted them to “learn from past mistakes,” said John O. Brennan, Mr. Obama’s domestic security adviser, who has been coordinating the flu-preparedness effort.
Mr. Obama and his top aides studied earlier flu outbreaks, including one in 2004, when a vaccine shortage created a political problem for President George W. Bush, and another in 1976, when President Gerald R. Ford ordered a mass vaccination campaign for an epidemic that never materialized — and faced intense criticism for it.
In late June, Mr. Obama invited veterans of the 1976 effort to a private meeting in the White House Roosevelt Room, and asked what his own role should be. (Mr. Ford was photographed being vaccinated; Mr. Obama has not yet received his flu shot because children, pregnant women and people with underlying health conditions are being vaccinated first.)
“We talked very realistically,” said Dr. David Mathews, who was Mr. Ford’s health secretary, “about the fine line he has to walk in being responsive and showing people that he cares, and that the federal government is on top of the issue, and on the other hand not provoking undue fear or irrational responses.”
Dr. Mathews advised Mr. Obama, “You’ve got to be willing to take the criticisms for being over-prepared, because there’s no defense for being underprepared.”
Now, with officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting that H1N1 is widespread in 46 states, public health experts and leading senators are giving the Obama administration only mixed grades. “I would give them a B for performance so far,” said Dr. Eric Toner, a senior associate at the Center for Biosecurity at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, who has advised the administration on pandemic planning.
The administration gets high marks for its public education campaign, as well as the scientific effort to develop and test a vaccine. “The vaccine was miraculously developed,” said Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, the Connecticut independent who was chairman of an oversight hearing last week on the government’s response to the outbreak.
But the administration, and in particular Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, have come in for strong criticism from those who say they created a false sense of expectations with overly optimistic predictions about the availability of the vaccine.
“The fact that there are vaccine shortages is a huge problem,” said Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine and co-chairwoman of last week’s hearing with Mr. Lieberman. “I believe the administration took the pandemic seriously, but I also believe administration officials were so determined to show that everything was under control that they sent the wrong signals about the adequacy of supplies of the vaccine.”
Ms. Sebelius has said she was relying on estimates from manufacturers, who reported in July that 120 million doses of vaccine would be available by the end of this month — a figure that was later lowered to 40 million doses, and then lowered again. She said Wednesday that 23.2 million doses had become available, including 9 million in the last week alone… [emphasis added]
Inserted from <NY Times>
I have to wonder here how Big Pharma could have been so far off as to promise 120 million doses and deliver a mere 23.2 million, less that 1/5 the promised amount. One would certainly think that, given their expertise and experience in vaccines, they should have been able to peg the number quite accurately. And as Republicans are buzzing that this is further proof that government can’t do health care, I frankly wonder if this was a set up. Did Big Pharma create this crisis to underscore their desire to kill health care reform? Considering how the GOP was so ready to point the finger of blame, were they in on it? Given the timing of Joe LIEberman’s move, was he? I can’t answer this yet. I have no proof. This is mere speculation, but it is based om compelling circumstantial evidence.
While checking out News Hounds this morning, I came across the following petition:
Dear Congress member,
I am writing to urge you to join me in "Defoxing America."
Fox "News" personalities are pushing an agenda that is dangerous to ordinary Americans. Using tactics such as placing individuals singled out for censure on a blackboard and linking them to murderous dictators like Josef Stalin, Fox News has deliberately created an atmosphere of hysteria that they have used to attack organizations and individuals fighting for the issues that matter most to working families. I urge you to stand up to these new McCarthy-ite tactics by voting against any unconstitutional legislation that singles out specific organizations. This includes the Continuing Resolution that cuts off Federal support to the national anti-poverty group ACORN.
Don't let Glenn Beck's blackboard dictate the people's agenda. Stand up and "Defox America".
I signed it! Won’t you join me?
The more I learn about the threats form Joe Liebercrud to filibuster health care reform, the angrier I feel. He sounded a lot different when he was running for the Senate in 2006.
Political watchdogs and supporters of the public health care option are accusing Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman of hypocrisy for announcing he plans to filibuster the Senate health care reform bill after years of voicing support for health care reform.
Since Lieberman's announcement on Tuesday that he would not stop a Republican filibuster of health reform if that health reform included a public option, bloggers have been scrambling to post videos of Lieberman advocating health care reform, including the principle of universal coverage, in past election campaigns.
Lieberman's position on the filibuster is crucial. The Democrats need all 60 of their Senate caucus members to vote in unison to overcome an expected filibuster of the bill. Since 2006, Lieberman has been an independent, but has caucused with the Democrats and is counted as one of the Democratic senators on the Hill.
At his DailyKos blog, Jed Lewison posted a video of Lieberman promising health care reform during his 2006 Senate run.
"What I’m saying to the people of Connecticut, I can do more for you and your families to get something done to make health care affordable, to get universal health insurance," Lieberman said during a July, 2006, debate…
Inserted from <Raw Story>
What he promised during his campaign sounds a lot like the strong public option with no opt out. Rachel Maddow joins with Glen Greenwald to explain Joe’s change of liver (since that scum sucker has no heart)
When the Democratic Party took back this absolute waste of skin, restoring his committee chairmanship, seniority and perques, he gave his solemn vow that he would stand with the party and not use his power against the party on key issues. Now we see what his word is worth.
Hey, I like baseball as much as the next guy, but the behavior of more extreme fans never ceases to amaze me.
Let’s say that you’re a woman, and you’re a die hard fan of the home team. And let’s further stipulate that you’re not a season ticket holder, and you don’t have hundreds of dollars to buy a pair of tickets for yourself and your spouse, even for the cheap seats at the local stadium. What to do, what to do? How about placing an advertisement on Craig’s List, and hope that a sympathetic person who has a couple of spare tickets will help you out?
So, you’re writing the ad. After all, you’re the assistant director of communications at a local medical facility, and like any good ad copy writer, you know one thing for sure: “sexy” sells, and gets attention (particularly on Craig’s List). You settle on the following, and hit the submit button:
DESPERATE BLONDE NEEDS WS TIX!
Diehard Phillies fan - gorgeous tall buxom blonde - in desperate need of two World Series Tickets. Price negotiable. I’m the creative type! Maybe we can help each other!
Flirtatious? Perhaps. Solicitation? Hardly. But that’s what a vice cop in Bensalem, Pa. apparently thought when he read Susan Finkelstein’s advertisement in the ticket section of Philadelphia Craig’s List.
The cop responded to the ad, and set up a meeting with Finkelstein at a local bar. And busted her for prostitution.
Allegedly, Finkelstein crossed some type of arbitrary line, and offered (or implied) that she’d be willing to perform sex acts on the cop and his brother in exchange for two tickets. She was cuffed, booked, and her mug shot is now popping up all over the web…
Inserted from <Alternet>
The Phillies and Yankees are favorite teams of mine. We got our first TV when I was ten and the Phillies were the team I saw. Robin Roberts was my hero. Later on, I learned that I could buy a round trip ticket from Atlantic City to Yankee Stadium, buy a decent ticket, and have a couple hot dogs and cokes for under $10. I was in the stadium (it took three trips) when Roger Maris hit #61. So this series is rich in memories for me, but seriously?!!? Not even for Bronco’s tickets to the Super Bowl!
On the other hand, didn’t that cop have anything better to do, and what does he have against the Phillies?
Life is often funnier that anything I could invent.
For the most part, I still feel like burying myself in my kitty box. I hope to answer comments, but visits will still be way down.
I did a little better on the Jig Zone puzzle, taking 4:52. To do it, Click Here. How did you do?
Here’s your cartoon:
Have a great day!
I understand that Alan Grayson has apologized to Linda Robertson for calling her a K street whore.
Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) -- the man best known for saying that the Republican health care plan is for Americans who get to "die quickly," and for calling former Vice President Dick Cheney a vampire with blood dripping from his teeth -- may have gone a bit too far in one of his latest rhetorical excesses, calling lobbyist Linda Robertson, who used to advise Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, a "K Street whore."
The comments were made a month ago, when Grayson appeared on the radio show of right-wing talker Alex Jones, and was just discovered and circulated by the NRCC. "Here I am, the only Member of Congress who actually worked as an economist. And she's, this lobbyist, this K Street whore, is trying to teach me about economics," said Grayson.
Grayson spokesman Todd Jurkowski stood by the Congressman's comments, telling the Orlando Sentinel in an e-mail: "She attacked the Congressman and his efforts to promote a Republican bill to audit the Federal Reserve. She actually questioned his understanding of the difference between fiscal and monetary policy. This is [a] person who used to be the chief lobbyist for Enron attacking the intelligence and motives of a Congressman who used to be an economist."…
Inserted from <TPM>
Given her background, I don’t find the comment unjustified.
And then, unlike any other members of Congress, worked for several years as an economist. So last month when Enron's head lobbyist, Linda Robertson, reborn as the Fed's head lobbyist, attacked congressmen pushing for an audit of the Fed-- primarily Grayson and Ron Paul-- as ignorant of the difference between monetary policy and fiscal policy, Grayson reacted by pointing out that Robertson has a long and well-known career as a "K Street whore." She shills for whoever pays her. When it was Enron, she helped them steal billions of dollars from taxpayers and rate-payers and now that it's the Fed, she is crawling around DC starting whispering campaigns about members of Congress who are demanding the audit that the Fed dreads more than anything. Her problem, of course, is that more than half the members of Congress have signed on to the bill calling for the audit. So she's going after Ron Paul and Alan Grayson, the two who are pushing this the hardest… [emphasis added]
Inserted from <Daily Kos>
Now when I consider what it is that a K Street lobbyist does for a living and how it is, in some ways, similar to what a whore does for a living, I find upon further consideration Alan Grayson should apologize, but not to any lobbyist… to all the whores he defamed with this comparison.
On Saturday I discussed the J Street Project as a replacement for AIPAC. They Just had their first annual conference, and the Obama administration appears to be taking them very seriously indeed.
When a politician attends the annual conference of the American Israel Political Action Committee, Washington's largest pro-Israel lobbying group, his task is simple: assert his commitment to Israel in the strongest possible terms. At the first annual conference of J Street, a new organization that pitches itself as a liberal alternative to AIPAC, the job is slightly more complicated: assert a strong and unshakeable commitment to both Israel and peace.
So it went at this year's conference, where Gen. Jim Jones, national security adviser to President Obama, delivered the keynote address Tuesday. For all the controversy the conference prompted—several supporters withdrew, participants were criticized, J Street's mission was questioned—the proceedings Tuesday were notable for their reasonableness. Jones said little Obama hadn't said at the United Nations in September or that Jones himself hadn't said earlier this month to the American Task Force on Palestine. "There will be setbacks, challenges, false starts, and false hopes," Jones told the J Street crowd. "But the people of this region have suffered too long for this problem to be neglected."
Judging from the response, Jones delivered. Peace between the Israelis and Palestinians is not just a priority, he said. It's the top priority: "If there was any one problem I'd tell president he should solve, this would be it." (Presumably, Jones and Obama talk, so it's puzzling why he posed this conversation as a hypothetical.) Jones also tied a commitment to peace in Israel with efforts to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. When it comes to preventing a nuclear armed Iran, he said, "Nothing is off the table."
Still, Jones's mere presence mattered almost more than his words. Only a year after its founding, J Street is no longer the obscure liberal lobby that could. It is an influential—and controversial—spokes-group for Jewish Americans who think the United States' approach to Israel has been too narrow. In its first six months, the group raised $580,000. (AIPAC's annual donations top $50 million.) Conservative members of the Jewish community have eyed the organization with suspicion, arguing that concessions in the name of peace put Israel in danger. Several members of Congress removed their names from the group's host committee in recent weeks. (One hundred forty-eight members remain on the list.) Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to Washington, declined an invitation to the conference, saying in a statement that the group took stances that "impair the interests of Israel." The White House's decision to send an emissary was thus considered a minor victory. "You can be sure that this administration will be represented at all other future events," Jones said, to applause… [emphasis added]
Inserted from <Slate>
Obama appears on the right page here, but his way ahead is tough, especially considering that the Netanyahu government is in power in Israel. Netanyahu is the right winger, far more militaristic that Olmert. Unfortunately, Israel’s version of left still sounds pretty right wing to me.
Ehud Olmert, Israel's prime minister during the Gaza war, would probably face arrest on war crimes charges if he visited Britain, according to a UK lawyer who is working to expand the application of "universal jurisdiction" for offences involving serious human rights abuses committed anywhere in the world.
Neither Olmert nor Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister during the Cast Lead offensive, and a member of Israel's war cabinet, would enjoy immunity from prosecution for alleged breaches of the Geneva conventions, predicted Daniel Machover, who is involved in intensifying legal work after the controversial Goldstone report on the three-week conflict. Neither are ministers any longer.
Prosecutions of Israeli political and military figures remain likely despite the failure to obtain an arrest warrant for Ehud Barak, the defence minister, when he visited the UK earlier this month, he said. In the Barak case a magistrate accepted advice from the Foreign Office that the minister enjoyed state immunity and rejected an application made on behalf of several residents of the Gaza Strip.
"This needs to be tested at the right time and in the right place," Machover said. "One day one of these people will make a mistake and go to the wrong country and face a criminal process — and then it'll be a matter for the courts of that country to give them a fair trial: that's what the Palestinian victims want."…
Inserted from <Common Dreams>
And this is what Israel calls liberal? A war criminal? And Netanyahu is nastier that this guy? Good luck, Barack! You’ll need it!
Kudos to J Street. Time to kick AIPAC with their attendant American Taliban to the curb.
With our President making a decision on how to proceed in Afghanistan, the CIA, still packed with Bush/GOP holdovers who burrowed in, has laid a humongous egg:
Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the country’s booming illegal opium trade, gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency, and has for much of the past eight years, according to current and former American officials.
The agency pays Mr. Karzai for a variety of services, including helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the C.I.A.’s direction in and around the southern city of Kandahar, Mr. Karzai’s home.
The financial ties and close working relationship between the intelligence agency and Mr. Karzai raise significant questions about America’s war strategy, which is currently under review at the White House.
The ties to Mr. Karzai have created deep divisions within the Obama administration. The critics say the ties complicate America’s increasingly tense relationship with President Hammed Karzai, who has struggled to build sustained popularity among Afghans and has long been portrayed by the Taliban as an American puppet. The C.I.A.’s practices also suggest that the United States is not doing everything in its power to stamp out the lucrative Afghan drug trade, a major source of revenue for the Taliban.
More broadly, some American officials argue that the reliance on Ahmed Wali Karzai, the most powerful figure in a large area of southern Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgency is strongest, undermines the American push to develop an effective central government that can maintain law and order and eventually allow the United States to withdraw.
“If we are going to conduct a population-centric strategy in Afghanistan, and we are perceived as backing thugs, then we are just undermining ourselves,” said Maj. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the senior American military intelligence official in Afghanistan… [emphasis added]
Inserted from <NY Times>
Backing the puppet Karzai and his brother, the thug Karzai fit well into the Bush/GOP agenda of war, beautiful war, endless war. I think it’s time Obama admit that the Bush/GOP Regime screwed this up beyond hope of repair, and start talking to our allies about a change of strategy in which we kick the Karzais to the curb, withdraw most troops, and support local populist leaders.
Inserted from <TPM>Note that [Lieberman] says he would vote to proceed to the bill -- just not to move to final passage. There will be several turning points:
1. Cloture vote cutting off debate on the motion to proceed to the health care bill (60 votes);
2. Motion to proceed to the bill (50 votes, may be waived if we get cloture);
3. Amendments to modify the public option piece, e.g. to a trigger (likely requiring 60 votes);
4. Cloture vote to end debate on the bill and move to final passage (60 votes); and
5. Final passage of the bill (50 votes).
Lieberman says that he'll vote with Leadership through #1 and #2… [emphasis added]
I made it to the doctor’s office yesterday. I don’t have H1N1 GOP flu. It’s borderline between severe bronchitis and mild pneumonia. So I’m on strong antibiotics, and should gradually feel better. It’s still too soon to expect much out of me other than posting articles here.
I tried the Jig Zone puzzle. Due to several coughing jags, it took me 11:35. You’ll never get a better chance to beat me. To do it, Click Here. How did you do?
Here’s today’s cartoon:
Happy hump day!
I was worried about this. Traitor Joe LIEberman wants to block even the limited public option, and will join the Health Insurance Industry and their paid lackeys, the Republican party in a filibuster against it.
Lieberman, who caucuses with Democrats and is positioning himself as a fiscal hawk on the issue, said he opposes any health care bill that includes a government-run insurance program — even if it includes a provision allowing states to opt out of the program, as Reid’s has said the Senate bill will.
"We're trying to do too much at once," Lieberman said. “To put this government-created insurance company on top of everything else is just asking for trouble for the taxpayers, for the premium payers and for the national debt. I don’t think we need it now."
Lieberman added that he’d vote against a public option plan “even with an opt-out because it still creates a whole new government entitlement program for which taxpayers will be on the line."…
Inserted from <Politico>
I will forego making any personal statements about this …, as I cannot do so in language fit for prostitutes and sailors, let alone families. LIEberman is Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee and is a member of the Armed Services and Small Business Committees. If this GOP pig in sheep’s clothing follows through on his threat, or if he doesn’t, kick him out of the caucus and strip him of his seniority and committee assignments.
Harry Reid demonstrated that his own voters can cow him more than the GOP. Progressive pressure has paid off.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, long a target for the ire of progressives given his reluctance to express support for including a public health-insurance plan in the Senate's health-care reform bill, today surprised reporters with his announcement that the final Senate bill will contain a public option.
States will be permitted to opt out of the plan via their state's legislative process -- an escape clause, if you will, for a handful of Democratic senators who are less than keen on the notion of a public plan.
"I believe that a public option can achieve the goal of bringing meaningful reform to our broken system," Reid said, "will protect consumers, keep insurers honest, and ensure competition. And that's why we intend to include it in the bill will be submitted to the Senate."
Reid has been under relentless pressure from progressives to craft a bill containing a public insurance plan just as he gears up for what is expected to be a tough re-election campaign for 2010. Just last week, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee launched a television ad targeting Reid that asked, "Is Harry Reid strong enough?"
Most striking is that Reid's decision to include the public option assures the lack of a single Republican vote for health-care reform in the Senate, despite months of wrangling to get at least one -- that of Maine's Olympia Snowe... [emphasis added]
Inserted from <Alternet>
This surprised me. I was hearing that Obama wanted to cave-in to Queen Olympia. I’m glad it worked out this way. As far as I’m concerned, Snowe can take a long flying #&%* off a short pier. So how did we come from about to cave in to here?
This evening I spoke with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who was in that infamous Thursday night meeting with President Obama and other Senate leaders--and who has been one of the most persistent advocates of a public option on Capitol Hill. As Schumer explains it, the disagreement between the White House and Senate wasn't substantive so much as it was tactical: The White House had its doubts that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could really get 60 votes for a public option with an opt out for states.
"The President listened very carefully," Schumer said in an interview moments ago. "He wanted to make sure that the strategy upon which we were embarking had the ability to carry through."
Schumer has been at the center of the fight over the public option from the earliest days of the health care debate--always there to pull it back from the brink when it at times seemed on the verge of collapse. This situation was no different. After the Thursday meeting, four sources in different Democratic offices told me that the White House had suggested they believed a strategy of pursuing Sen. Olympia Snowe's preferred compromise--a triggered public option--might be an easier path to 60 votes. In the end, though, Schumer and the rest of leadership seem to have prevailed upon President Obama that they've picked the right strategy.
"I think substantively the White House probably preferred a stronger public option than a trigger," Schumer said. "We talked about this for a while in leadership and the White House wanted to hear our thoughts--and when they heard them they thought that this was the right strategy to get our caucus together."
Today, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the President stands behind Reid as he builds support for the public plan… [emphasis added]
Inserted from <TPM>
To be honest, this plan is not everything we wanted, but it’s better than nothing. However, there are several things that can be improved. First, this bill has no restrictions against insurance companies raising rates based on age. For the rest, Rachel Maddow interviewed my Senator, Ron Wyden. Here it is:
I’m sorry to report that I still feel like crap. I have a appointment with my doctor this afternoon. I still do nit expect to be able to catch up on replying to comments and visiting blogs.
Here’s the latest video from the boys at Red State Update.
I disclaim all knowledge of feline relatives who may have been used in the torture tape.
Here’s your cartoon:
OGIM!! Survive the day!
First please accept my apology you today’s slim offering and for being way behind on answering comments and visiting other blogs. I have a very severe case of flu here. My effort will improve as I do. On to the story.
Last Thursday I posted an article on FCC plans to adopt Net Neutrality. The idea of a free and open Internet did not sit well with the giant telecoms who want to skew the Internet, so they sent their favorite lackey ton the Senate floor.
The "Maverick" just played his hand on Net Neutrality, and the cards reveal a man who's outsider image doesn't quite add up.
On Thursday, Sen. John McCain introduced legislation to kill the open Internet, the deceptively named "Internet Freedom Act." The bill would stop all FCC efforts to have an open and public discussion about proposed Net Neutrality rules.
This comes from a senator who has received more money ($894,379) from AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and their lobbyists than any other member of Congress.
McCain also infamously told the media that he is "illiterate" when it comes to using the Internet and computers…
Inserted from <Huffington Post>
Rachel Maddow covered this well:
McConJob’s trust sidekick, Mooseolini, had no comment, except that she can see the Internet from her porch.
Here’s a fascinating article by Les Leopold:
For the past thirty years we have minted billionaires, and we have created the most unequal distribution of wealth since 1928-29. This didn't happen by accident. We deliberately deregulated the financial sector and we deliberately eliminated the steep progressive taxes on the super-rich that had kept in check our income distribution.
By unleashing capital and finance we were supposed to get an enormous investment boom in real goods and services. Instead we got a fantasy finance boom as Wall Street marketed derivatives to those with excess capital.
We also got the biggest crash since the Great Depression.
Perhaps the most dramatic measure of our emerging billionaire bailout society is seen by comparing compensation for the top 100 CEOs and to that of average workers (the 100 million or so non-supervisory production workers). In 1970 the ratio was 45 to 1. By 2006 it was 1,723 to one.
Another critical feature of the billionaire bailout society is the creation of institutions that are too big to fail. Historically, our anti-trust division was supposed to prevent that. But it became another casualty of our grand deregulatory experiment. So financial institutions grew to the point where their failure would bring down our system. We tested that idea last fall when we let Lehman Brothers go under: It crashed global financial markets and moved us to the brink of a depression.
So in our billionaire bailout society we bail them out instead of breaking them up. We bail out all of them - not just the basket cases like A.I.G, Citigroup, GM etc. The popular media line is that once a financial institution repays TARP, it no longer is on government welfare. No so.
TARP is only one of the many government bailout programs that pours billions into the coffers of Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase and, Morgan Stanley. Their bottom-lines and bonuses, for example, were fattened when we allowed A.I.G. to pay off its bets (with our money) at par value to these large financial institutions. Had A.I.G. gone under they all would have been on the edge of collapse.
As Joe Nocera put it in the New York Times :
So let's add it up: the $12.9 billion in A.I.G. help, the $10 billion in TARP, the F.D.I.C. guarantee program, the easy money trading distressed securities into the TALF program. I can't say for sure how much of the $16 billion the firm has set aside for bonuses can be attributed to government assistance of one form or another. But it's got to be a fairly substantial amount -- at least $2 billion or $3 billion.
And that's a very conservative estimate. It might be the case that the entire bonus pool is equal to the subsidies pulled in from taxpayer support. But this is to be expected in our billionaire bailout society.
Perhaps the most damaging feature of our billionaire bailout society is the "jobless recovery." This oxymoron refers to an economy that is growing, but that can't produce nearly enough jobs to reach full employment (an unemployment rate below 5 percent). Our current jobless recovery will be the worst ever. Right now the BLS (U6) jobless rate stands at 17.0 percent -- and climbing. (This counts those without work plus those who have part-time jobs because they can't find full-time work.) If the billionaire bailout society becomes permanent, we may never see full employment again.
Why is that? Because you don't need a full employment society to mint billionaires. Reflect for a moment on Goldman Sachs. They do not have individual depositors. They are not public brokers. They do not make loans to small business. They are in the business of making money by playing the financial markets, from mergers and acquisitions, from trading, and from creating and selling fantasy finance instruments.
In our billionaire bailout society these are unquestioned positive activities. But what value do they produce in the real economy? What is their contribution to market efficiency? How do they lower the cost of capital? How do these activities create jobs in the real economy? Good luck answering those questions because they don't do any of that. They just make money for themselves while producing little or no value to our society.
It's obvious we need to break up these large institutions so that we won't have to bail them out the next time around -- which may come sooner than expected given the lack of jobs and the fact that the financial casino is open again.
But we can't solve the bailouts without addressing the billionaire part of the equation.
Two years ago the richest 400 Americans had a combined wealth of $1.57 trillion. Last year during the crash their wealth dropped to "only" $1.27 trillion. Now they are set to rise again. We need to tie their wealth of our richest to putting our people back to work.
Here's the simplest and most controversial approach: a 10 percent wealth tax on all those with more than $500 million -- until unemployment drops below 5 percent. The money collected would come to about $150 billion a year. That money should be directly invested in public works programs to put our people to work -- a Green Corps to weatherize every home and office in the country -- a Youth Corps to provide work for unemployed high school and college graduates.
(I realize that many Americans detest the idea of taxing anyone's assets, even billionaires'. But let's be realistic: That's where our society's wealth has gone and we need that wealth to put people back to work. Some billionaires do create large numbers of jobs, but not enough. They can contribute more and not feel a bit of pain or suffering.)
To break away from the billionaire bailout society we need to tie the creation of wealth to the creation of work. We no longer have a system that can produce an adequate number of jobs through the normal working of the business cycle. The invisible hand of the market just won't do it. That's why it's called a jobless recovery. We need direct intervention… [emphasis added]
Inserted from <Huffington Post>
Instead og a wealth tax, I prefer increasing the income tax rate for the very rich in addition to closing the tax loopholes that allow them to avoid paying taxes. I might say more, but I’m not up to it (please see today’s open thread).
Arizona will be farming out the management of its death row facilities to CCA (Corporate Corrections of America).
Included in the offerings to private firms is an opportunity to manage the captivity of those condemned to die: a move that, for the first time ever, would put a U.S. state's death row in corporate hands, according to The New York Times.
"While executions would still be performed by the state, officials said, the Department of Corrections would relinquish all other day-to-day operations to the private operator and pay a per-diem fee for each prisoner," the Times added…
Inserted from <Raw Story>
Given my history as an ex-convict and and prison volunteer, I’m quite familiar with CCA and know many men who have been imprisoned in their facilities. They manage prisons as well as private contractors managed VA hospitals, if you remember those scandals. Given CCA’s long and well known track record for malfeasance, mismanagement, and prisoner abuse, Arizona may be trying to cut down on the number of executions they perform, as fewer death row prisoners will survive until their execution date.
I kept up on visiting and comments yesterday. I will not today, because I’m ill with some kind of cold or flu. I feel like I ought to be buried in my on cat box. Sorry about today’s slim pickings.
Today’s Jig Zone puzzle took me 5:08. To do it, Click Here. How did you do?
Here’s a cute DSCC ad:
Hat Tip: Daily Kos
Here’s your cartoon:
Have a great Sunday
Media Matters collected a compendium of outtakes from Faux Noise. It documents the history of their coverage of the Obama Administration. Please watch the video:
Now, you tell me. Is Faux Noise a news channel or the GOP Ministry of Propaganda?
I thoroughly enjoyed this:
At the annual conference of America's Health Insurance Plans -- the lobbying group that released that threatening report about how inclusion of a public option in health-care legislation would cause private insurers to astronomically jack up their rates -- conferees were entertained by the guerrilla troop, Billionaires for Wealthcare, and their special rendition of "Tomorrow."...
Inserted from <Alternet>
What else is there for me to say?
J Street Project could evolve into a replacement for AIPAC.
This year has seen a dramatic shift in American Jews' attitudes toward Israel. In January many liberal Jews were shocked by the Gaza war, in which Israel used overwhelming force against a mostly defenseless civilian population unable to flee. Then came the rise to power of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, whose explicitly anti-Arab platform was at odds with an American Jewish electorate that had just voted 4 to 1 for a minority president. Throw in angry Israelis writing about the "rot in the Diaspora," and it's little wonder young American Jews feel increasingly indifferent about a country that has been at the center of Jewish identity for four decades.
These stirrings on the American Jewish street will come to a head in late October in Washington with the first national conference of J Street, the reformation Israel lobby. J Street has been around less than two years, but it is summoning liberal--and some not so liberal--Jews from all over the country to "rock the status quo," code for AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee).
Sure sounds like a velvet revolution in the Jewish community, huh? Not so fast. The changes in attitudes are taking place at the grassroots; by and large, Jewish leaders are standing fast. And as for policymakers, the opening has been slight. There seems little likelihood the conference will bring us any closer to that holy grail of the reformers: the ability of a US president, not to mention Congress, to put real pressure on Israel.
First the good news. There's no question the Gaza conflict has helped break down the traditional Jewish resistance to criticizing Israel. Gaza was "the worst public relations disaster in Israel's history," says M.J. Rosenberg, a longtime Washington analyst who reports for Media Matters Action Network. For the first time in a generation, leading American Jews broke with the Jewish state over its conduct. New York Times columnist Roger Cohen said he was "shamed" by Israel's actions, while Michelle Goldberg wrote in the Guardian that Israel's killing of hundreds of civilians as reprisal for rocket attacks was "brutal" and probably "futile."
Even devoted friends of Israel Leon Wieseltier and Michael Walzer expressed misgivings about the disproportionate use of force, and if Reform Jewish leaders could not bring themselves to criticize the war, the US left was energized by the horror. Medea Benjamin, a co-founder of Code Pink, threw herself into the cause of Gazan freedom after years of ignoring Israel-Palestine, in part out of deference to her family's feelings. In The Nation Naomi Klein came out for boycott, divestment and sanctions; later, visiting Ramallah, she apologized to the Palestinians for her "cowardice" in not coming to that position earlier... [emphasis added]
Inserted from <The Nation>
Change will not come overnight, but I’m thoroughly gratified to see a more appropriate and more representative group for Jewish Americans than AIPAC. Under the guise of representing American Jews, AIPAC is far more representative of American neocons, like Dead-eye Dick Cheney, and theocons like Paul Hagee. The most beneficial development I can see for Israel is peace in the middle east. The policies of the current government of Israel, supported by AIPAC, virtually assure the continuation of the conflict.
Yesterday I kept up to date on replies to comments and visits to other blogs. I expect to do so again today.
Today’s Jig Zone took me 4:30. To do it, Click Here. How did you do?
Here’s your cartoon:
Have a great weekend!
It’s a win for the LGBT community that I fully support.
The Senate approved legislation Thursday to expand hate crimes to include attacks based on a person's gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability, sending the bill to President Obama, who is expected to sign it into law.
The Senate's 68-29 vote in favor of a $680 billion defense spending bill, which includes the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, came after the House approved the bill earlier this month.
"The answer to hate and bigotry has to be ultimately found in increased respect and tolerance for all our citizens," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "In the meantime, strengthening our hate crimes legislation to give law enforcement the tools they need is a necessary step."
Republicans contend that an expansion of the hate crimes definition should not be included in a defense spending bill. The bill allocates $130 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq for the fiscal year 2010, which began Oct. 1.
"Democrats have done a great disservice to the brave men and women of our Armed Forces today by using them as leverage to pass radical social policy," said House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio after the House passed the bill…
Inserted from <San Francisco Chronicle>
I will admit that I complained loudly when the GOP regime attached unrelated amendments to ‘must pass’ bills, so I’m not going to say that it’s OK now. But Boner’s hypocrisy amazes me, considering that the GOP regime was notorious for the same tactic. That said, I could not be more pleased for my LGBT friends that it passed and that they will finally get the legal protection that they and all Americans deserve.
But there is another side to this story. Thirty four Republican Senators are so filled with hatred and intolerance for LGBT people that they filibustered defense spending and voted to deprive our troops of what they need rather than extend basic human rights to worthy citizens.
Here are the names of these GOP bigots:
Lamar Alexander, John Barrasso, Bob Bennett, Kit Bond, Sam Brownback, Jim Bunning, Richard Burr, Saxby Chambliss, Tom Coburn, Thad Cochran, Bob Corker, John Cornyn, Mike Crapo, Jim DeMint, John Ensign, Mike Enzi, Lindsey Graham, Chuck Grassley, Judd Gregg, Kay Bailey Hutchison, James Inhofe, Johnny Isakson, Mike Johanns, Jon Kyl, George Lemieux, John McCain, Mitch McConnell, James Risch, Pat Roberts, Jeff Sessions, Richard Shelby, John Thune, David Vitter, Roger Wicker
What’s next? Sheets and hoods?
The low participation in our most recent poll showed me that you are tired of the subject, but that’s OK. Here are the results.
Several choices were close, with troops home from Iraq taking #1, clean energy #2, and the restoration of human rights in the US and convicting Bush regime leaders tied for #3. I paid little attention to other for reasons that will become obvious. Here are the comments left, newest first.
Showing comments 1-7 of 7.
From I suppose he could... on October 22, 2009 at 10:07 am.
Resign. Oh crap, Biden...we're screwed.
From New order on October 22, 2009 at 10:00 am.
1. Eliminate all aspects of cap and trade
2. Support the troops in Afghanistan - NOW, not after some election whose results will still be suspect.
3. Don't censure the media by having so many meetings behind closed doors (don't have longer meetings with select media regarding your image then you do with your Generals who have pressing needs).
4. Surround yourself with some advisers with experience and insight not yes men and women whom you owe favors -- Washington DC is NOT Chicago, man up.
From Seriously ?!!! on October 22, 2009 at 9:53 am.
As an attorney I am impressed with your ability to covertly slant a question to this extreme --- I'm shocked it doesn't slide off the page, TO THE LEFT of course!
You would see a clearer picture if you opened your right eye too - let's you focus on things in front of your face, say in the middle or center, not waaaaaaaay over to one side.
From Bottomless Pit on October 22, 2009 at 9:46 am.
STOP SPENDING MONEY WE DON"T HAVE!!!
From Kevin Kelley on October 21, 2009 at 10:21 am.
I would think that it is of most importance to focus on paying off the national debt.
From paul on October 20, 2009 at 6:05 pm.
Fix the imigration problem !!
From Dustin on October 17, 2009 at 6:00 pm.
Step down and let Ron Paul fix the last 30 years of big government mess!
A couple of the comments are actually reasonable. Paul and Kevin offered reasonable suggestions. Just because I do not agree, that does not make their opinions less valid. I trust that Dustin is sincere, although I think that the devil will go ice skating at home before his candidate has a serious chance of gaining the presidency. The top four comments with votes for other all come from one person. My tracking software logs IP addresses, so I was able to determine that easily. This person also has a right to his or her opinion as well, but consider the source. This person found Politics Plus dong a Google search on the health insurance company exemption from antitrust laws. The person’s IP address belongs to an insurance company in Amarillo, Texas.
I voted for clean energy, because a major climate change could destroy everything we are working to achieve. Do you care to discuss your vote?
There’s a new poll up on Net Neutrality until the beginning of next month. Don’t forget to vote!!