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Showing posts from January, 2009

Change In Which I Can Believe - Iraqi Style

In truth, real change would be getting the hell out of Iraq completely, not just pulling the worst of the private mercenaries because the Iraqis ordered them out of their country. But I'll take it. U.S. Scraps Blackwater's Iraq Deal The State Department will not renew Blackwater Worldwide's contract to protect American diplomats in Iraq when it expires in May, a senior US official has said. The official said the private security firm's contract will expire because of the Iraqi government's decision to deny Blackwater a licence to operate . The Iraqis informed the US last week of the cancellation, which was made amid lingering outrage over a September 2007 shooting in Baghdad's Nisoor Square which left 17 Iraqi civilians dead. The official - who spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision has yet to be formally announced - said that renewing the contract was "basically a moot point because they were not going to be allowed to operate in Iraq an

Two new wars on the immediate horizon: Mexico and Korea

This is not a criticism of the Obama administration, but an observation on world affairs: given that the situation in Gaza was raging and the Iraq/Afghanistan/Iran wars and controversies were on the US plate as he tied his tie for the inaugural, the new President intentionally jump-started his foreign policy to concentrate on the Middle East from day one. [I do not agree with a lot he's done or intends to do, but I give him full marks for starting on day one.] Which is why he has to be scratching his head in the very warm Oval Office, saying, "Mexico? Korea? Wait a damn minute!" The US has now admitted that it is seriously studying potential military intervention into Mexico's war with the drug cartels: The Dallas Morning News, citing anonymous sources, reported that if the bloodbath escalates, U.S. officials are contemplating the possibility of an enhanced U.S. role in battling Mexican drug cartels, including joint operations with Mexican forces and the invol

Even the Obama Family Not Spared Drug War Lunacy

This is just sad, especially for George Obama. I have hope President Obama takes this to heart and brings us real change by rejecting the failed prohibitionist policies of the past, crafting a way out of the drug war morass in which this country is mired, dragging so many other nations with us. Obama's half-brother held on drugs charge President's relative arrested in Kenya after alleged marijuana seizure 8:38 a.m. ET, Sat., Jan. 31, 2009 NAIROBI, Kenya - The half-brother of President Barack Obama has been arrested for alleged possession of marijuana, Kenyan police said Saturday. Area police chief Joshua Omokulongolo said George Obama was picked up Saturday and was being held at the Huruma police post in the capital. Omokulongolo said officers found one joint of marijuana on him. Obama reportedly denied the allegations. "I don't know why they are charging me," CNN quoted Obama as saying from jail. George Obama and the president had the same father but are n

The teachers' dilemma

Pandora raised this issue from a parental perspective at Delawareliberal : Last night over dinner my 11 year old daughter announced that her science teacher doesn’t like Joe Biden. After exchanging a look with my husband I asked, “Why would you think that?” She then proceeded to explain… “When we were watching the Inauguration in class Mr. XXXX said that finally Delaware is rid of him.” Now this isn’t the first time this science teacher has brought politics into the classroom, and I ignored his previous antics since I wasn’t sure what he said about this email - but I could guess. But now I’m angry. I’m also in a dilemma. My daughter is a typical 11 year old, which means fitting in is important to her. She also really likes this teacher, which means I must take into account pre-teen mortification in whatever I decide to do. My other concern is, if I decide to speak with the teacher, altering the friendly relationship my daughter shares with Mr. XXXX. And yes, I know teachers

Why all those lobbyists matter

So we've got Deputy SecDef and Raytheon lobbyist William Lynn in charge of the Pentagon, right? It's probably just coincidence that the defense industry waited until the week after his confirmation as an exception to the Obama administration's no-lobbyists-but-the-ones-who-we-decide-are-OK-and-not-exceptions-to-our-no-lobbyist-rule policy, to launch--guess what?--a lobbying campaign for more defense spending as a jobs program : From AP : Faced with a national economic crisis and a new president, the defense industry is itself playing defense. Its latest lobbying message: Weapons systems aren't just instruments of national security, they're vital jobs programs. One big new ad features a boldly soaring bald eagle and declares, "Of course America's economy can take off again. It already has a strong pair of wings." The ad, recently run in Washington-area newspapers and journals, is sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association, whose members in

So much for those high standards on lobbyists....

Once is happenstance. [Deputy SecDef in charge of the Pentagon; Raytheon lobbyist] Twice is coincidence. [Undersecretary at HHS; non-profit lobbyist] Third time is rank hypocrisy. Oh, sorry: the number is now thirteen lobbyists nominated or appointed by the Obama administration [see below] From HuffPo [and, strangely, not being picked up by liberal/progressive blogs around the country]: Daschle Chief of Staff violates new lobbyist rule The new chief of staff to health reform czar Tom Daschle was a lobbyist through late last year and will have to recuse himself from issues he worked to influence, an administration aide said Thursday. Daschle adviser Mark B. Childress is the second lobbyist to land in the top ranks of the Health and Human Services Department and joins at least 12 others who have found jobs in the administration -- despite the president's repeated pledges during the campaign to stamp out their influence in Washington. I can't wait for the rationalizat

NATO policy in Afghanistan: Kill 'em all, let Allah sort them out

The NATO Commander-in-Chief is, well, pissed , about the leaking (pissed, leaking, get it?) of his operational directives to NATO commanders in the field to kill Afghan drug dealers, pretty much on sight: Yesterday we reported on the “guidance” of NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander for Europe General John Craddock, which ordered NATO soldiers in Afghanistan to kill anyone involved in the drug industry, even if there was no evidence they were insurgents. The story has caused no shortage of outrage since the German magazine Der Spiegel initially broke it. NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer is riled up too, but not in the way you’d figure. He’s not so much upset at the general for ordering troops which are already losing ground to the insurgency to waste their time killing random opium dealers: he’s mad at whoever leaked the report. “The secretary-general considers it is unacceptable that confidential documents have been leaked,” according to spokesman James Appathurai, “he is c

The Truth About The Democrats' Bushian Crisis-Mode Stimulus Steamroll

The more the truth comes out about the massive one-party pork pie, aka the (Economic) Patriot Act of 2009, the more people oppose it, especially independents (e.g. unaffiliateds). Public Support for Economic Recovery Plan Slips to 42% "Public support for the economic recovery plan crafted by President Obama and congressional Democrats has slipped a bit over the past week. At the same time, expectations that the plan will quickly become law have increased. Forty-two percent (42%) of the nation’s likely voters now support the president’s plan, roughly one-third of which is tax cuts with the rest new government spending. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 39% are opposed to it and 19% are undecided. Liberal voters overwhelmingly support the plan while conservatives are strongly opposed. Last week , support for the President’s plan was at 45% and opposition at 34%. As they consider the size and scope of the $800-billion-plus economic recovery pla

...But They Can Turn Around The Economy!

The US Postal Service is going out of business . Like most organizations going out of business, it's cutting back. This time, it wants to eliminate Saturday delivery, pointing out that that will reduce its expenditure quickly. The government cannot operate a 6-day-per-week mail monopoly, in the world's largest economy, at a profit... but we're supposed to believe it can nationalize, manage, and restore the debt-choked US economy? Uh, OK.

Reality Hasn't Sunk In Yet

America needs a giant bitchslap to wake up to reality. Might as well be me. Stop talking about what Obama will do to "help you retire." Most of you will never retire. If you're like the average consumer, you didn't save, you overconsumed, you spent it all, and an unlucky few of you got taken in by the bank and investment con-men. You don't have the savings to retire, and the remainder of people who will be working don't have the income to support you. Social Security is bankrupt and will go away. It's unsustainable. It's a government version of Bernard Madoff's "investment plan." Medicare is bankrupt and will go away. It's another federalized Madoff plan. Prescription drug payments are bankrupt and they will go away. Ditto. Government can inflate the currency to cover the "payments," but in that case, inflation in prices will more than make up for the government checks. Government can only raise taxes on the sm

And while we're at it, let's break a few treaties and have a trade war

The House pork bill passed yesterday, and now some of our allies are ... a little apprehensive : The House-approved plan's "Buy American" provision generally prohibits the purchase of foreign iron and steel for any infrastructure project in the bill. The European Union's trade commissioner, Catherine Ashton, pre-emptively voiced concern about the US measure. "We are looking into the situation. ... Before we have the final text ... it would be premature to take a stance on it," Ashton's spokesman, Peter Power, said in Brussels. "However, the one thing we can be absolutely certain about, is if a bill is passed which prohibits the sale or purchase of European goods on American territory, that is something we will not stand idly by and ignore," he said. Canada's government said it is concerned about US protectionism in the economic stimulus and its diplomats were lobbying US makers against the "Buy American" drive. "We'r

Dennis Kucinich More-Or-Less Hits It

I remember remarking to ravening Ron Paul supporters, who were generously ignoring Paul's far-right-fringe views on social issues, that Dennis Kucinich is at least as Libertarian as Ron Paul. Such an observation was heresy, and I was pilloried by the usual "radical" Libertarians with endless abuse because of it. However, as usual, I've been vindicated (though a bit late). Here's Kucinich's response to the banking crisis: Why, that position, with a tweak or two, could have been pulled straight from the Libertarian Party platform, before it was Republicanized...

The Problem With Patents

Way back in 2002, a company called Handspring completely transformed the way you and I view cell phones, by releasing the first real smartphone. The company, a spin-off of PDA pioneer Palm Computing, developed the Treo smartphone. And it was revolutionary. Unlike the BlackBerries of the time (which were glorified pagers), the Treos had a real OS -- the Palm OS. They were little portable computers that you could carry around in your pocket, and which had full access to the cellular networks of the era. On Sprint's voice and data network, Treo really came to life. Now, e-mail and web browsing was something you could have on the go. And Palm so clearly saw the potential of the technology that it brought Handspring back in-house. The result was one of the greatest innovations of the last decade -- the high-powered modern smartphone. The Palm Treo had (and has) everything that defines a smartphone today: 1) Applications installed from online stores (like Handango); 2) A touch-

The amazing paradox of "public" service at the highest levels...

.... is that our Democratic and Republican friends refuse to acknowledge (or act upon) the incestuous relationship between corporate and governmental America. When they find it, they are like Louie in Casablanca , astonished to discover that gambling is occurring at Rick's Place. Just this week, Delawareliberal's ever-passionate creative speller donviti discovered the revolving door at Bank of America, wherein--among others in a tight-knit circle of acquaintances--Charles Rosetti was added to the board. Rosetti came over from Merril Lynch, and had been Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service under the Clinton administration. Of course, not only Delaware Liberals but pretty much all Democrats across the nation have completely ignored the fact that the Obama administration violated its own rules against lobbyists to appoint Raytheon lobbyist William Lynn as Deputy SecDef to run the Pentagon. But maybe that's because there are so many other interesting targets to c

Wonder who wrote this? Paul Krugman would suggest the author is an insincere racist

"There is no disagreement that we need action by our government, a recovery plan that will help jumpstart the economy." --President Barack Obama With all due respect Mr.President, that is not true. Notwithstanding reports that all economists are now Keynesians and that we all support a big increase in the burden of government, we the undersigned do not believe that more government spending is a way to improve economic performance. More government spending by Hoover and Roosevelt did not pull the United States economy out of the Great Depression in the 1930s. More government spending did not solve Japan’s “lost decade” in the 1990s. As such, it is a triumph of hope over experience to believe that more government spending will help the U.S. today. To improve the economy, policymakers should focus on reforms that remove impediments to work, saving, investment and production. Lower tax rates and a reduction in the burden of government are the best ways of using fiscal policy

More Inspiring Quotes

"Never let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that is it's an opportunity to do things you couldn't do before." Rahm Emanuel - November 2008 Translation : Disaster Socialism Is Us "I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views." Barack Obama - Audacity of Hope Translation : I am everything to everyone. I stand for nothing but whatever the transient expediency of others tends to make me.

Another Hopeful Development in Producing Hydrogen - The Fuel of the Future

"Scientists at Penn State University and the Virginia Commonwealth University have discovered a way to produce hydrogen by exposing selected clusters of aluminum atoms to water...The team's findings will be published in the 23 January 2009 issue of the journal Science . "Our previous research suggested that electronic properties govern everything about these aluminum clusters, but this new study shows that it is the arrangement of atoms within the clusters that allows them to split water," said A. Welford Castleman Jr., Eberly Family Distinguished Chair in Science and Evan Pugh Professor in the Penn State Departments of Chemistry and Physics. "Generally, this knowledge might allow us to design new nanoscale catalysts by changing the arrangements of atoms in a cluster. The results could open up a new area of research, not only related to splitting water, but also to breaking the bonds of other molecules, as well." ... The team found th

Statist Idiot Quote of the Day

Warning : Contains incendiary naming of names, not for the government-friendly and government careerist teat-suckers of faint heart. A telling quote today comes from a lobbyist whore for 57 different governments across Delaware (yes, now even government itself has sleazy hired gun lobbyists...and, yes, Delaware appears to have 57 different governments below state level...call them entrenched useless duplicative patronage machines, if you will). The individual also, unsurprisingly, is a lickspittle for Wilmington Mayor James Baker and a Democrat party hack. The issue giving rise to the absurd statement was the passage of a property rights protection bill in the Delaware Senate yesterday , defeating the fascist Wilmington government and the greedy developers with whom it is in bed. The bill, SB 7, restricts eminent domain powers, halting Delaware government(s) from snatching private property by force and on the cheap, in service to private developers and speculative tax revenues. Rhe

A modest proposal: ending the Afghan War for only $82.5 billion

It works like this: value lives in Afghanistan the same way the US military has been authorized to do by our government. Here's what happens when we kill civilians: On the back of an Afghan army truck, U.S. officials paid $40,000 in Afghan currency to representatives of the 15 people killed — $2,500 for each death plus $500 for two wounded men and $1,500 for village repairs. Lt. Col. Steven Weir, a military lawyer who helped oversee the payments, said the payments were not an admission by the U.S. that innocents were killed. "It's a condolence payment," he said. "The villagers said none of them were in the Taliban, just peaceful individuals from the village. So by this payment they will understand it's not our goal to kill innocent people. This may help them understand we're here to build a safer and more secure Afghanistan." When asked if the U.S. was paying money to relatives of people that the U.S. had wanted to kill or capture, Weir said:

Ron Paul Meets MSNBC's Stuck on Stupid Do-Something-itis Panel

Seems it took no less than a barrage of four MSNBC puffed heads to grill Congressman Ron Paul about stimulus spending. Unfortunately, Paul has been cut off so many times in the past I think he has gotten into the habit of rushing what he is saying, to try to get his ideas out as extensively as possible before they cut his mic. Nevertheless, the head-scratching stupidity and (barely-disguised disdain) of some of these inflated talking heads is stunning. Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News , World News , and News about the Economy "I just don't understand", "I can't grasp", "but what does this mean we do??". Jesus, the man couldn't have been more clear : CUT FEDERAL SPENDING LOWER/ELIMINATE INCOME TAXES ELIMINATE FRACTIONAL RESERVE LENDING REGULATE THE FED ENFORCE FRAUD CRIMES END THE TRILLIONS IN AMERICAN EMPIRE-BUILDING REIGN-IN OUT-OF-CONTROL MILITARY SPENDING HOLD THE ECONOMIC BUBBLE-MAKERS ACCOUNTABLE, RATHER THAN PUTTING THEM BACK IN C

Paul Krugman's intellectually dishonest bait and switch

It becomes almost humorous (or would, if billions of dollars and the entire US economy weren't on the line), to watch the posturing the current economic gurus like Larry Summers, Robert Reich, and Paul Krugman as they pimp for the economic stimulus plan. Krugman's most recent NYT editorial is a perfect example. Take his opening premise: As the debate over President Obama’s economic stimulus plan gets under way, one thing is certain: many of the plan’s opponents aren’t arguing in good faith. Conservatives really, really don’t want to see a second New Deal, and they certainly don’t want to see government activism vindicated. So they are reaching for any stick they can find with which to beat proposals for increased government spending. This is cute. Krugman moves the definition of bad faith to be anyone who disagrees with a new New Deal and government activism . As long-time readers of Krugman will know, this is codespeak for labeling opponents of massive government inter

Neoconservative Sleaze Bill Kristol Comes Clean - Act II

Irving Kristol, father to Bill Kristol and godfather of so-called neoconservatism, famously said, "A neoconservative is a liberal who has been mugged by reality." Bill Kristol might restate it : "A liberal is a neoconservative who can't comprehend reality." Tossed over the side by the New York Times, Kristol's parting words (chock full of sentimentalist war-reverence and trite pseudo-patriotism) make it clear his "neoconservatism" is little more than hyper-militaristic global liberalism. Ideologically, nothing really distinguishes a neoconservative from the big government, big scheme collectivism we have seen through decades of rehashed cookie-cutter liberal dogma. The neoconservatives' messianism simply has a much wider scope. Neoconservatives are liberals who think big and play deep. So, it is absolutely no surprise that the Beltway-recognition-obsessed Kristol now gushes platitudes for the promise(s) of Obama. Kristol never met a powe

California's Cluster**** Is A View Into America's Future Under Obama

California is a microcosm of the federal state under the policies of Barack Obama. When economic turmoil hit the tech and tourism economy in 2001 and 2002, California's answer was to increase spending and borrowing to "stimulate the economy." Government payrolls surged, new departments sprang up like weeds, regulations and tax increases choked commerce, and California became a pariah for the productive -- with the highest level of net outmigration of middle class workers of any state in the country (including basket cases like Michigan). California, like Obama, believed that government could create "green jobs" with borrowed money. California, like Obama, borrowed cash to spend on lavish public works projects. California, like Obama, created "free" health care for everyone. California, like Obama, made college "free" for most residents. California, like Obama, increased taxes on "the rich," implemented environmental taxes on

For Waldo, and any Trek geeks who might stumble by

I really didn't intend to write this post. When Waldo posted The Geek Closet , about the Star Trek franchise's reluctance to take on gay characters, I wrote one truly geek note about the two direct lesbian scenes/references [one in Deep Space Nine and one in The Next Generation], which he took--at least partly--as me evading his point. So then I wrote another five paragraph response ... that the blogspot comment editor promptly ate. I hate it when that happens. So I thought I would sort of semi-replicate it here, with a few addenda. First note: I am not an incredible fan of Star Trek novels [although the ones by Peter David are generally readable], but I have polished off a few in airports or hotel lounges when there was nothing better available. From that random sampling I know that on at least a couple occasions LGBT characters have also made it into the franchise via print. But again that doesn't serve to answer Waldo's question about why no gay characters on

A Question for Single Payer Advocates:

Are you against monopolies? I suspect the answer is yes. You're clearly a fiscal liberal. Monopolies are bad. Prices are too high, quality of output and innovation suffers, etc. Then why do you support monopoly in the health care industry? How is it any different from monopoly in telcom, in oil, in air travel? Awaiting your responses.

Down memory lane (again)

In 2002 I was working on contract for the Office for Domestic Preparedness, teaching grant administrators the political origins, tactics, and logistics of international terrorism. During that time I met the executive assistant for homeland security to the Governor of South Carolina (he was role-playing a cabinet-level officer in a simulation at the time). What he said then has echoed in my memory for years and years--it keeps coming back to me. And as politics move on, his comments keep takig on new meaning.... We had just finished a discussion on how real homeland security could be achieved for far less than the billions and billions of dollars being appropriated when he said: "Don't worry, it'll never happen that way. Homeland Security is the new revenue sharing. Because there is an emergency situation, the politicians in DC don't have to worry about paying for anything. They can just print the money. And nobody in the States is going to scream about it bec

What we're apparently ready to shovel is ... more pork and earmarks

Kids Prefer Cheese sent me to TheDay.com , where I find the best assessment yet of the oxymoron of funding only shovel-ready projects in the pending Bail-out bill. What exactly constitutes shovel-ready ? Just ask Chris Dodd, who knows what's in, and what's out, and how to work the margins to get more dough for the home team: Norwich - A group of the region's leaders told U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd Friday afternoon that they are skeptical of and confused by key aspects of a potential economic stimulus package Congress hopes to pass by the middle of next month. The projected $800 billion-plus bill is being promoted as a means to stimulate the economy primarily by putting people to work on “shovel-ready” infrastructure projects. However, the definition of “shovel-ready” has proved elusive and, some say, counterintuitive. Dodd provided a local example: the $34 million middle school expansion and renovation in Griswold, which broke ground in December, would not qualify because

Leaving wiggle room on torture

Remember Dubya: We do not torture! Now, it seems, there is more continuity than change in the Obama administration approach to enhanced interrogation techniques. First, we had the Director of National Intelligence nominee refusing to acknowledge waterboarding as torture and Attorney-General-designate Eric Holder calling the Army Interrogation Manual a good start for detailing interrogation techniques. The problem is that a good start implies using that manual only as a foundation, beyond which CIA and other intelligence agencies intend to go with certain classified methods. Here's what Jeffrey Kaye notes is being left out of coverage of this issue: Not long ago, I wrote about what was included in Appendix M, which purports to introduce the single technique of "separation." In fact, the Appendix M includes instructions regarding solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, and, in combination with other procedures included in the Army Field Man