December 27, 2008

To err is human …

So is to lie. It’s not “just” human, though, as the story makes clear. It’s part of our evolutionary biology past. So, too, is the honing of the ever-finer, it seems, line between skepticism fading into cynicism, on the one side, and trust dropping into gullibility on the other.

And, we, the homo sapiens, are suckers for animals acting cute on us; Read the full story.

December 26, 2008

Boxing Day – some Texas job swaps I’d like to see

Across the pond and north of the border, the British and Canadians go us Americans one better on end-of-year holidays, throwing an extra day in the mix.

Dec. 26, they and most other British Commonwealth countries celebrate Boxing Day.
If you’re not at all familiar with the day, no, it’s not a celebration of day-after-Christmas regifting, making store returns, or looking for post-Christmas sales specials, although it has taken on that last as a secondary meaning. Nor has Muhammad Ali gained a date on British and Canadian calendars.

Instead, it’s a day for employers to give gifts to employees. It apparently stemmed from an older, medieval custom of feudal lords giving end-of-year gifts to their serfs, and even in some cases working alongside them for a day; various folk etymologies try to tie the modern name to those older traditions.

The reversal of social roles behind Boxing Day ultimately extends back to the Roman Saturnalia festival.

Roman patricians eschewed their togas during Saturnalia; picture a suited-up boss going along with the rest of the workplace on casual Fridays. All Romans wore a cap normally worn only by freed slaves. Slaves were allowed to show some degree of disrespect to their masters, and even ate with, or were served by, their owners.

In other words, if only for a day, and if itself socially controlled, the Roman world was shaken up like a snow globe.

I think we need this in America. April Fool’s Day is a good day for practical joking, but it is not really a day of jest at society as a whole. And, given the way Christmas has become more commercialized, and American society risks becoming more stratified, we need a day of thumbing our collective nose at social convention.

I especially like the part about role reversals between bosses and employees, or other social relationships. With that in mind, and in the spirit of Boxing Day and its ultimate predecessor, Saturnalia, I offer some Dec. 26 switches for you.

• George Bush and Dick Cheney. After all, many liberals have insisted that Darth Vader is the real éminence grise behind W., so why not make it official for a day? Or, if Uncle Fester declines, I’m sure Karl Rove would be a suitable replacement.
And, in the spirit of bipartisanship, at the local level …

• Dallas County Judge Jim Foster and Dallas County District 3 Commissioner John Wiley Price. After all, with his “Foster Gump” lapel button, we already know what Price thinks of this idea.

• Wade Phillips, head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, and his quarterbacks coach, Jason Garrett. Many Cowboys fans already would like to move Garrett into the top job, and not just for one day. So, why not let Jason have a shot against the Philadelphia Iggles?
• Jason Kidd and Devin Harris. Now that Harris is getting a chance to show his stuff in New Jersey – and succeeding – maybe we could perform a role reversal on the trade that brought Kidd here.

• The Texas Lottery and “we the people.” Every Texas resident of legal age gets one free lottery ticket, with a chance for a personal role reversal by hitting the jackpot.

• Parents and their children. Kiddos get one free day of setting the meal menus and staying up as late as they want. (After coming down off the sugar high and staying up too late, parents will get the gift of their kids going to bed early the next night.)

• You and yourself. Tired of some of the social roles you play, whether as parent, spouse, employee, committee member or whatever? Give yourself permission to act differently for a day.

IOKIYO

For several years, a common acrnym floating around mainstream liberal blogs, or MSLBs, has been IOKIYAR, or It’s OK If You’re a Republican.

In commemoration of President-elect Barack Obama’s generally “uninspiring” Cabinet positions, capped by his tapping Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration, I trot out IOKIYO.

It’s OK If You’re Obama.

You will see it as a tag on many a future post; of that I have no doubt.

Happy Boxing Day, White House style-to-be

In honor of the role-reversal part of Boxing Day, I nominate Rev. Jeremiah Wright to take Rick Warren’s place as deliverer of the inauguration invocation.

Or, more realistically, have Rev. Joseph Lowry and Warren switch places.

More seriously, can we drop the “Amerca’s pastor” bullshit? Both for Warren AND Billy Graham?

First, last I checked, we were a secular nation. We don’t HAVE an office called “America’s pastor.” Related to that, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc., as well as sociologically irreligious and nonmetaphysician types, don’t have a need for any “America’s pastor.”

Second, we know what Graham once thought of Jews ethnically as well as religiously. We know what Warren still thinks of them, and by extension, those Muslims, Hindus, etc., as well we metaphysically, or even “just” sociologically, irreligious.

Third, last I checked, we were a secular nation. Screw civic religion and get rid of the inaugural invocation entirely.

December 24, 2008

Your 2009 stock tip? Invest in Percocet?

In a column interesting, thought-provoking, informative and a bit infuriating all at the same time, Jon Markman says Endo Pharmaceuticals, makers of Percocet, is a "go-to" stock for next year?

Why? Aging baby boomers, he says, and that, even if you have to pay out of pocket, you'll cough up.

Dear women – sometimes we men don’t need a road map

After all, we led you out of Africa 60,000 years ago.

Will unemployment hit 10 percent next year?

I've seen previous worries about the potential of 9 percent unemployment, but Jon Markman says we could approach double digits, one of 11 predictions he has for next year.

He also predicts Obama's big infrastructure package will bog down. I agree; that's a huge pie and Congress will have many sticky fingers.

And, he says the Russian economy will hit the skids. Read the full thing for all 11 reports.

December 23, 2008

Bristol Palin preggo watch - 3 days overdue

According to Sarah Palin, her own parents in their Grandparents interview and all and sundry in the Palin Family Circus, Bristol Palin was supposed to be giving birth to either Trig Palin’s nephew/niece, or sibling, Dec. 20.

And, ahem, Wasilla, Alaska, it is now Dec. 23. And, still no official sign of the little bastard child that is allegedly to be born to the still-unmarried Bristol Palin and Levi Johnson.

No child, and no news of a trek on a snowmobile to Bethlehem, Pa., let alone the one across the pond, for a birth miracle, either.

Inquiring, and skeptical minds like mine are still all a-quiver waiting for hospital room, birth, delivery and other on-site, time-of-arrival baby pictures.

You know, the pictures of Trig and Sarah at Mat-Su Regional Medical Center?

Oh, I’m sorry, I meant the pictures we didn’t get of Trig and Sarah at Mat-Su Regional Medical Center.

As I said, I’m all a-quiver waiting for hospital room, birth, delivery and other on-site, time-of-arrival baby pictures. Don’t tell me there isn’t an actual little bundle of joy popping out of the Bristol Palin nurturing womb! Waiting to be laid in a crib!

This IS newsworthy, the most newsworthy Alaska birth since Ted Stevens hatched his first barrel of oil, after all. So, where are the news stories?

(Note: Until proven otherwise, I am operating under the assumption that Bristol’s due date is real; Audrey at Palin’s Deceptionsand the PD blog says she has been interviewed by the Anchorage Daily News, with the story coming out in a couple of days, and says “stand by” on everything above.

If we go more than a couple more days (and, let us see what ADN has to report), we have one of two options:
1. A baby, but born, and therefore conceived, too late to get Bristol off the hook for being Trig’s mom; or
2. No baby at all.

“Stand by” indeed.

My original, catch-all, “show me the birth certificate” post about Trig, Sarah and Bristol Palin had gotten so loaded up with updates I am starting a new post, just in time for the Palin family’s blessed event.

Meanwhile, we can still speculate about what’s the kid’s name, if there is an actual kid.

I say, given the gothic creepiness of the Palin Family, Cousin Itt would work well. Another blogger suggested “Plumber,” as in (Joe the) Plumber. “Dood,” as reflecting on Palin’s (presumed) Daddy (when was that affair, Sarah, and was it the only one?) and his affectionate nickname from his oh-so-affectionately (un)faithful spouse.

Eleven Westerners present their Obama Christmas wish lists

Too bad at least one of them has already been crapped on by Santa.

Courtney White a rancher who raises grass-fed cattle and leads a group that markets that kind of beef. He wants Obama’s support for the local-food movement.
“We need a radical re-visioning, away from the subsidization of the industrial food system. If we’re going to incentivize solar and wind energy production, why don’t we incentivize local food production as well? It has just as much climate impact.”

Ahh, Mr. White. You must have filled out your wish list to Santa Obama before he named CAFO-loving Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, or Nutsack, as his Secretary of Agriculture.

Texas to gain three House seats

Texas should gain three House seats after the 2010 Census, according to Election Data Services. Arizona, Utah, Nevada and Florida will be among other gainers, with one seat each. Great Lakes-bordering New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan are each expected to lose one seat, among various states, with Ohio possibly losing two and Illinois maybe losing one; nobody else, other than the Ohio possibility, will lose more than one.

In other tidbits, Arizona has passed Washington, Indiana, Massachusetts and other states this decade to move into the Top 15.

And, will somebody wake up out there? And Utah and Nevada? There's a 50-50 chance Lake Mead disappears within 15 years due to long-term drought and global warming. There goes drinking water, agricultural water and development water, not to mention Hoover Dam hydroelectricity, all gone and no longer available for those three states. (Southwestern Utah is already pushing the nutbar idea of piping water from Lake Powell, even as that reservoir also continues to diminish.)

And, per Politico, population mobility has dropped this decade, compared to the past few. With Peak Oil and other issues, that trend may well continue into the next decade.

The type of infrastructure spending we don’t need

New Urbanist Joel Kotkin urges the Obama Administration to be careful and targeted with infrastructure investment plans.

And, he has an additional caveat:
(W)e should think beyond temporary stimulus and make-work jobs and about investments that will propel the economy well into this century.

After all, it's not that we stopped spending on infrastructure over the past decade. It's that mostly, we haven't spent on the right things.

He cites city, county and state incentive money for sports arenas (and the supportive infrastructure, like new roads, subway stops, etc.) as the most egregious offense.

They’re followed by convention centers and similar construction projects that, like sports stadiums, tend to primarily create service-sector, service-sector-wages, jobs after the construction is done.

He also warns about not investing in “green” infrastructure improvements just because they’re self-labeled as “green.”

Read the full column for more on what we should and shouldn’t build, in Kotkin’s opinion.

That said, he passed over an opportunity to call for improving the service-sector economy as part of the column.

Vitamin-popping may be of little good – and NOT a magic pill

Alt-medicine and supplements folks spin away

Two long-term trials of more than 50,000 people say Vitamins C and E are of limited effectiveness, when compared with traditional claims about their efficacy, in reducing the risk of various cancers:
“These things are ineffective, and in high doses they can cause harm,” said Edgar Miller, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “People are unhappy with their diets, they’re stressed out, and they think it will help. It's just wishful thinking.”

True, true. Eating the right kinds of foods, and not too much of them, while reducing stresses and getting more exercise, is the key.

But, Dr. Miller is absolutely right; too many people want a magic pill or pills.

Meanwhile, Dr. Jeffrey Blumberg, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Antioxidants Research Laboratory, whose studies were partially funded by the supplements industry, engaged in excuse-making, saying maybe the wrong versions of vitamins were used or the wrong people were tested.

Blumberg comes off sounding like an alt-medicine shill. What, were researchers supposed to go shopping for the “right” versions of vitamins, or screen out the “wrong” people.

Hey, Blumberg, have you heard of something called “double-blinded testing”? Apparently not.

Rich Cohen weighs in on Obama

Which means that mainstream liberal bloggers will soon weigh in on Cohen, and his “party’s off,” column, where Cohen starts with his gay sister cancelling a pre-inauguration party because of Obama picking Rick Warren for his invocation.

Here’s what will get the MSLBers howling:
The conventional thing to say is that Obama has a preacher problem -- first the volcanic Jeremiah Wright and now the transparently anti-gay Warren. But the real problem has nothing to do with ministers and everything to do with Obama's inability or unwillingness to be a moral leader. Sooner or later, he just might have to stand for something.

(Italics added.)

Indeed. As I’ve noted elsewhere, “outreach” and “dialogue” are NOT political platform planks, let alone elements of a serious political philosophy. They may be words in some extra stanzas added to “Kumbaya,” but that’s a whole different critter.

Of course, there were plenty of Kool-Aid drinkers who were told this six months ago.

Obama-Blago: Illegal? No; Unethical? Yes

According to CNN, 36 percent of people agree with me that that's the bottom line on the behavior of President-elect Barack Obama and his staff, regarding his staff's contacts with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his staff on Blago naming somebody to fill Obama's Senate seat.

I have said all along that Obama, himself, not just his staff, handled communications on the Blagosphere stupidly. And, stupidly to the point of giving the appearance, at least, of unethical behavior.

Of course, MSLBs are already posting ... nothing ... about the CNN poll. Are you surprised?

As for the Obama report on an internal review of his staff's behavior, as I predicted, it won't come out until late enough to be largely buried under Christmas stories. And, it's only going to be about a dozen paragraphs, the Times says, so, it's not going to say anything, anyway.

Wait for the skeptical antennae of those 36 percenters to go up.

As I noted a week ago, here's what Obama should have said right away. The fact that he didn't made MY skeptical antennae go up.

Meanwhile, besides "MSLB," look for a new acronym to be unveiled here Dec. 26.

Needed – evidence-based treatments and rehabs

I’m sorry, they’re NOT needed in Oregon, a key point of an EXCELLENT New York Times story about the revolving door of court-mandated AA meetings, AA/12-Step based rehabs, and, here in Texas first, then taken to Washington, George W. Bush’s “faith-based initiatives” in drug and alcohol rehab — initiatives that Barack Obama wants to expand, if you’ll remember. If you don’t, you’re being reminded.

Oregon, on the other hand, started such requirements in 2003 — per state legislation, no less, and not just regulatory agency rule-making. The requirements, phased in over several years, are mostly on the books now.

Here’s how it hits the road. Abotu 54 percent of Oregon’s $94 million budget for addiction treatment services goes to evidence-based programs, compared to about 25-30 percent before the mandate. The state has not yet analyzed the impact of this change on clients, the Times story says

The Oregon laws only apply to paid rehabs, but AA couldn’t make the cut either. It claims (then tries to step aside its own claims) that it’s the best solution for “real alcoholics,” but keeps no statistics on its success rate. And it certainly doesn’t review its methodology in a scientific manner.

With Bob Gates, you get eggroll

You also get stuck, if you’re a progressive ever-more-frustrated by Barack Obama’s cabinet picks, with all of Bob Gates’ political appointees. at the Defense Department.
“I have received authorization from the president-elect’s transition team to extend a number of Department of Defense political appointees an invitation to voluntarily remain in their current positions until replaced,” Mr. Gates said in a Friday e-mail.

And, most are taking the offer.

SEVERAL problems.

Obama’s stress on continuity, like his redefining “combat troops” in Iraq as I noted before, could say that he still isn’t 100 percent up to snuff on some DoD issues.

It could also say he’s investing too much energy, if you will, into the whole War on Terror, or “War on Terror,” and overblowing it.

With Bob Gates, you get eggroll

You also get stuck, if you’re a progressive ever-more-frustrated by Barack Obama’s cabinet picks, with all of Bob Gates’ political appointees. at the Defense Department.
“I have received authorization from the president-elect’s transition team to extend a number of Department of Defense political appointees an invitation to voluntarily remain in their current positions until replaced,” Mr. Gates said in a Friday e-mail.

And, most are taking the offer.

SEVERAL problems.

Obama’s stress on continuity, like his redefining “combat troops” in Iraq as I noted before, could say that he still isn’t 100 percent up to snuff on some DoD issues.

It could also say he’s investing too much energy, if you will, into the whole War on Terror, or “War on Terror,” and overblowing it.

With Bob Gates, you get eggroll

You also get stuck, if you’re a progressive ever-more-frustrated by Barack Obama’s cabinet picks, with all of Bob Gates’ political appointees. at the Defense Department.
“I have received authorization from the president-elect’s transition team to extend a number of Department of Defense political appointees an invitation to voluntarily remain in their current positions until replaced,” Mr. Gates said in a Friday e-mail.

And, most are taking the offer.

SEVERAL problems.

Obama’s stress on continuity, like his redefining “combat troops” in Iraq as I noted before, could say that he still isn’t 100 percent up to snuff on some DoD issues.

It could also say he’s investing too much energy, if you will, into the whole War on Terror, or “War on Terror,” and overblowing it.

It’s only an Obama ‘stretch’ this time – no end on Iraq

The New York Times finally gets up to speed about how Obama actually WON’T be ending the war in Iraq any time soon. No lie, just another bending of the spirit of what he said oh so long ago.

For we true progressives, left-liberals, etc., whether affiliated with a third party or not, this was evident, what, eight months ago or so, from the first time Obama started talking about “combat troops” and ONLY “combat troops” being removed from Iraq.

Now comes the other shoe many of us rhetorically asked about at that time – what is the definition of a “combat solider”?

B.O.’s definition? It’s as narrow as possible. As the Gray Lady makes clear, don’t expect a lot of soldiers to be withdrawn.
The long answers open up some complicated, sleight-of-hand responses to military and political problems facing President-elect Barack Obama.

To try to meet (December 2011 Status of Forces Agreement) deadlines without risking Iraq’s fragile and relative stability, military planners say they will reassign some combat troops to training and support of the Iraqis, even though the troops would still be armed and go on combat patrols with their Iraqi counterparts. So although their role would be redefined, the dangers would not.

Just.Another.Politician.™ sitting pretty in bed with a bunch of punked Obamiac Kool-Aid drinkers.

Meanwhile, it wouldn’t surprise me to see some MSLBs and knee-jerk commenters there to whine that the mainstream media is picking on them. Others will try to ignore this, I have no doubt. From what I’ve so far, that’s the case.

And, we finally, and tragically, put “paid” to the myth that politics had nothing to do with Obama’s 2002 speech in Chicago.

Was that speech all politics? Of course not. Was it even driven by politics as the single largest factor? I don’t think so.

But, was a political angle clear and present? You bet your ass it was.

December 22, 2008

Melissa Etheridge also sweet-talked by Rick Warren

Now we know more, beyond his listening to Deepak Chopra, how Juan Cole was bamboozled. Herr Warren must have a pocketful of gold hypnotists’ watches, or Rohypnol spiked with holy water from the Jordan River or something, because Etheridge folded like a cheap house of cards.

In the breathless style so many celebrity bloggers at HuffPost exhibit (probably stemming from the Greek goddess, Arianna Huffington herself), Etheridge tells us;
“I know, call me a dreamer, but I feel a new era is upon us.”

No, I’ll call you a fucking idiot.

Rick thinks you – and your Sufi Muslim singing friend, as well as your lover he helped prevent you from marrying – are going to hell in a handbasket. What’s so hard to understand about that?

More tidbits about Obama-Blago review dribbling out

The latest leaking about President-elect Obama’s ordered review of his staff’s contacts with members of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich continue to trickle out, and in general, confirm some of my previous guesses as to what’s up.

1. As I expected, it won’t be out until tomorrow, leaving anything bad in the report easily buried under Christmas news;

2. Any contacts between Obama and Blago staffs conveniently are NOT on tapes of Blago made by Patrick Fitzgerald (was that part of the “why” behind Fitz’s “cone of silence” request?);

3. Yet, the Obama team wrote its report without having access to transcripts of the FBI tapes. So, how do they know No. 2 is true? Because Fitz told them? (Skeptical antennae climb higher).

4. Obama will make no public statement on the findings. And, his continued refusal to comment on the issue will continue to get ignored by the MSLBs, and per point No. 1, will be shuffled under the MSM’s rug by Christmas news.

How…. “conVEEENient,” as the Church Lady used to say on “Saturday Night Live.”

Read more of the report story and see for yourself.

Windoze Vista officially sux

And Microslob admits it, extending the cutoff for XP to be available to custom computer builders. Essentially, you’ll be able to get XP until Windoze 7 comes out.

Kristof: Liberals more charity-cheap than conservatives

I’m sure folks at places like National Review will love the centerpiece of Nicholas Kristof’s new column, where he claims liberals give less to charity than do conservatives, but the column and the studies behind it are fatally flawed.

First, “charity,” “nonprofit” and other words are thrown around without any definition.

Second, and most importantly, churches aren’t separated out from other nonprofits. And we know conservatives go to church more. Ditto on Nick saying conservatives invest more time; that's surely part of the difference if not all of it.

Kristof then says neither side contributes a lot to the neediest. Well, why doesn't he provide a breakout, like money given to food pantries, homeless shelters, etc., vs., say churches by conservatives or environmental agencies by liberals? Or, prrovide a breakout of what percentage of liberals,and of conservatives' donations, per national philanthropy information, goes from these charities to actual causes?

In follow-up comments at his blog, Kristof notes that neither conservatives nor liberals do a lot to help the neediest, conceding my first point of contention. He does note greater conservative involvement with churches, but puts no number on that.

Of course, from where I sit, that is kind of a Kristof M.O. Spin out a great story, but get fuzzy on the details. When it is purely a social-issues column that doesn't need a lot of hard facts, that is fine. But this column did.

Obama stimulus projects start with Joe Biden

In what is certainly the official Veep Portfolio for the Obama Administration, Vice President-elect Joe Biden has been put in charge of a task force to bolster the standard of living of middle-class and working families in America.

According to the story, the program, called the White House Task Force on Working Families, will concentrate on improving education and training for working-class Americans as well as protecting incomes and retirement security of the middle class.

Beyond the most obvious reason for this commission, I suggest the following reasons for its creation:

1. A commission is always the inside-the-Beltway answer; Obama is showing he has "arrived."

2. It's a jobs program for neoliberal friends.

3. It's a political lab to test neolib ideas.

4. It's a way to work on new lines of "dialog" and "outreach."

There, that wasn't hard at all.

And, you really need to form a commission for that? Snark aside, it proves reasons 1-3 are true.

Toyota gives Big Three Christmas gift of sorts

How else can you describe the news that Toyota lost money for the first time in 70 years? Now, no matter how much Richard Shelby and his anti-union Southern senator buddies try to spin it, this is clearly not just a Big Three problem caused by, in fair part, an intransigent UAW.
“It is just a matter of time before all major automakers are losing money,” an auto analyst in Tokyo for Credit Suisse Securities, Koji Endo, said. “And things will just get worse next year, when companies start losing money for the second consecutive year.”

This will certainly change bailout talk in the new Congress. Read the full story for details on the depth of its losses, especially here in the U.S.

Why the Pack let Favre go

The New York Jets are 1-3 in the last month and in danger of missing the playoffs, after all the Brett Favre signing and early season hoopla, because, , as reported in the middle of yesterday’s game story, Favre has basically sucked the past month.

Nothing new, though. As Packers management, and astute Packers, not Favre fans, know, this is at least the third, if not foruth, season in a row for the late-season el foldo.

Favre is still more mobile than any other quarterback this side of John Elway with so many games under his belt, by far. But, his arm strength just isn’t there anymore, especially for later-season cold-weather, windy games.

But, the Jets are stuck with him another year.

Juan Cole – bamboozled by Rick Warren

Along with questions Cole failed to ask

Juan Cole is usually much too hard-headed to get bamboozled. But, there’s a first time for everything and I guess this is it.

Actually, it’s an indirect or bank shot bamboozlement. Cole “Hearts” Melissa Etheridge, and she appeared at the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Long Beach, Ca. with both Cole and Warren.

And Etheridge was bamboozled enough by Herr Warren to ask gay leaders to “reach out” to him. And, Juan is apparently bamboozled enough by her to have a step 2 bamboozlement by Warren.

First, isn’t this the same old thing? Gay leaders or whomever are asked to “reach out”; people like Warren never are.

As for Warren’s AIDS work in Africa, has he given any significant money to AIDS work here?

Next, when did words like “dialogue” and “outreach” become political platform planks?

Juan, and any Obamiacs:

If I want an effing psychologist for president, I'll vote for one.

Of course, at the end of Cole’s post, I fond out where the mushy-headedness started — Deepak Chopra.

Juan, if you think Chopra’s worth mentioning, you can forget about me linking to you on religion-oriented blog posts of yours in the future. And, my opinion of your overall skepticism level just went down.

Prod Obama to name war crimes prosecutor

The New York Times says we need a special prosecutor to look at possible Bush Administration war crimes. At the same time, the Times worries Just.Another.Politician.™ (and Passive Pelosi™) will cave to alleged political realities:
Given his other problems — and how far he has moved from the powerful stands he took on these issues early in the campaign — we do not hold out real hope that Barack Obama, as president, will take such a politically fraught step.

The Times goes on to describe what it considers minimally acceptable actions in this area from The One; they're minimal indeed, but not bad for where the MSM has been on this issue in the past.

But, YOU, yes you, can help put the heat on Obama and his Attorney General-designess Eric Holder ...

The Citizens Petition: Special Prosecutor for Bush War Crimes..... Premiere




Petition Badge
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[Please go to Democrats.com and sign the petition! http://www.democrats.com/special-prosecutor-for-bush-war-crimes]

With the recent admissions by Vice President Cheney and the release of the Senate Armed Services Committee Report on detainee treatment, what we have known in the blogosphere for years has now....finally....made it into the mainstream. The Bush Administration planned, developed and carried out an organized torture program stretching from Gitmo to Iraq, Afghanistan and secret prisons around the world.

Despite their protestations and attempts to cover themselves with highly questionable legal opinions, this was and is a War Crime. Their politicization and corruption of the Department of Justice has stymied any investigation and left all efforts at accountability and justice to the new Obama Administrations DOJ, and specifically to AG Designate Holder.

Now, even the New York Times is....again, finally...calling for a Special Prosecutor to investigate these crimes.

However, as we also know well in the Blogosphere, this is far more than an issue of crime, punishment and justice as it should be. It is a political issue. A 'hot potato' political issue considering that any and all attempts at investigation and prosecution will undoubtedly (and erroneously) be described by the Republicans, the Right Wing press and pundits, and even some (complicit?) Democrats as a 'partisan witch hunt' and as 'criminalizing politics.' in other words, there are huge political costs at stake here. It would be much, much easier to 'move on' or 'not play the blame game' or point fingers to the past.'

The Obama Administration will face incredible pressure to sweep these War Crimes under the rug of history. We in the Blogosphere need to provide the counter-pressure. We do that by making our voices heard, and one way to do that is by each and everyone of us, the thousands if not millions of blog readers, adding our names to a petition. The petition will ultimately be submitted to AG Holder, as well as to Change.gov. However it can make a great impact on the 'public conversation' just by being everywhere in the Blogosphere as well.

To that end, Docudharma and Democrats.com have teamed up to create, host, and distribute the following petition. The petition calls for Attorney General Designate Holder to, immediately upon being confirmed, appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute any and all officials of the Bush Administration for Torture and War Crimes.

The petition:
Dear Attorney General Designate Holder,


We the undersigned citizens of the United States hereby formally petition you to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute any and all government officials who have participated in War Crimes.

These crimes are being euphemistically referred to as "abusive interrogation techniques" by such respected figures as Senator John McCain. These are euphemisms for torture. Torture is a War Crime. Waterboarding is a War Crime. The CIA has admitted waterboarding detainees. Recently, Vice President Cheney has brazenly admitted authorizing the program that lead to waterboarding, other forms of torture too numerous to list, and ultimately, the deaths by homicide of detainees.

As Major General Antonio Taguba, the Army general who led the investigation into prisoner abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison has stated:

"After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account."


The Washington Post recently summarized the Senate Armed Services Committee Report on detainee treatment thusly:

A bipartisan panel of senators has concluded that former defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other top Bush administration officials bear direct responsibility for the harsh treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, and that their decisions led to more serious abuses in Iraq and elsewhere.


We the undersigned citizens demand a full and thorough investigation immediately upon your taking office. This investigation should be pursued no matter where it may lead and no matter what the political implications may be. To this end, we remind you that you work not on behalf of or for the President or the Congress, but for the People of the United States of America and for Justice itself.

The United States is a representative democracy. The actions of our government officials are done in the name of its citizens. War Crimes have been committed in our name. Torture has been done in our name. The only way to clear our name of War Crimes is to repudiate them through the aggressive prosecution of each and every person involved to the full extent of the law through the appointment of a Special Prosecutor.

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EFCA becoming a hot GOP talking point

This Wall Street Journal column by Richard Epstein mirrors e-mails I’ve gotten from the Texas Public Policy Foundation, et al, at work about the Employee Free Choice Act. All of them have one or more of three talking points, two on alleged constitutional grounds, and the third on economic grounds.

Allegedly the EFCA would:
• Violate First Amendment free speech protections;
• Be a “taking” prohibited by the Fifth Amendment;
• Be the straw that breaks the camel’s back in our current economic environment.

None are true; expect more claims that they are in the weeks and months ahead.

And, don’t be surprised if whatever the Obama Administration actually sends to Congress for consideration is watered down.

I predict no Fitzmas for Fitz!

In other words, Patrick Fitzgerald will be no closer to having the head of Rod Blagojevich above his fireplace mantle by Christmas Day. In fact, I predict the “stay tuned” for more comment he made when he arrested Blago will have no “more” revealed to us by Christmas. Ditto for Barack Obama’s review of staff contacts with Blago, which he is likely to try to bury by announcing no earlier than late Tuesday.

I’ve blogged before that I think he has weak hole cards in this game of seven card stud; now, as noted yesterday, Willie Brown agrees. And, the former San Francisco mayor, who knows something about politics, has talked with Blago recently.

What’s crystallized more in my mind in the last 24 hours is the likelihood of some backdoor Fitz-Obama connection.

The officially authorized Obama leak to George Stephanopoulos is what started the train of thought.

If Obama has no problem leaking via a back door, to prepare the way for the official repoart on his campaign’s contacts with Blago that he will bury right before Christmas, yet publically honor Fitz’s “cone of silence” request, then I figured something is probably up.

Obama is likely cooperating with Fitz in some way as to what he can turn up.

Fitz, in turn, is hoping he can “roll” somebody, anybody, who will then roll Blago. But, I’m thinking that the “appreciation” Stephanopoulos said Blago’s chief of staff, John Harris, mentioned to Rahm Emanuel, probably wasn’t very specific, or Fitz wouldn’t be trying to run a weak bluff in liar’s poker.

And, the judge who set Blago’s bail at less than 5 grand must have felt the same way.

So, Fitz? Put up or shut up. Why don’t you go back to indicting Karl Rove in the Plame leak instead.

As for Blago, everybody calling him “dumb” is surely underestimating his political acumen.

Update: Fitz’s nabbing an Indian fundraiser with connections to both Blago and Obama does not fundamentally change my assessment. In fact, it somewhat reinforces it.

December 21, 2008

Willie Brown – Blago ain’t going anywhere

Lisa Madigan’s recent actions explained?

The former San Francisco mayor says Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich called him recently.

Based on what Blago told him, Brown, who knows a thing or two about politics, says Blago ain’t going anywhere soon. He claims the showdown started when Blago looked to name Lisa Madigan to Obama’s Senate seat after Obama pulled Valerie Jarrett. The idea was to remove a potential primary rival, should Blago have been looking at seeking a third term in 2010.

Given that Madigan isn’t really close to Obama, this may have started something rolling.

Anyway, here’s Brown’s nutgraf:
I think he liked how I raised questions about the timing and manner of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's decision to charge him over what appears to be little more than loose conversations he had with his staff.

TOTALLY agreed.

I’ve said for a week now, ever since Fitz’s “cone of silence” request, that I think he’s bluffing In a game of seven-card stud with fairly weak hole cars.

Throw in Obama jealousy over Madigan, the possibility of “official leaks” by Rahm Emanuel or others, and, here we are today.

This might also explain Madigan’s gambit with the Illinois Supreme Court.

I think she knew all along that the “unfit for office” angle wouldn’t fly there, but, she wanted to clean up her image.

Emanuel pushing Jarrett by name is NOT ‘pro forma’ phone call

Obama camp leaks to friendly Stephanopoulos to plow ground for release of official report, while MSLBs continue to peddle the “nothing there” line

Nice to see that Mr. Angelic Funk, George Stephanopoulos, has joined the Obama PR staff.

• “Sources say” Obama chief-of-staff to be Rahm Emanuel only had one phone conversation with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich? Obama campaign sources I’m sure, who have no problem leaking info, while still using Patrick Fitzgerald’s “cone of silence”

Question No. 1 — Why are "sources" talking (I assume Mr. Angelic Funk's sources are inside the Obama camp), or rather, why are they leaking? Didn't Fitz say he wanted a "cone of silence" and didn't The One agree?

• Besides the "just one" phone call with Blago, how many times did Rahmbo talk with Blago chief of staff John Harris? That's answered — four, and none of them pro forma.

Question Set No. 2 — How much was Jarrett discussed? Other candidates?

Question Set No. 3 — What is the timeline for where the direct phone call fits in with the four to Harris? Was it before all of them, with Blago then saying to Rahm: "Harris speaks for me, carte blanche"?

Question No. 4 — How does this timeline relate to when Obama pulled Jarrett from consideration by appointing her to a White House position?

• Harris mentioned “appreciation” in exchange for tapping Jarrett, in one of the phone calls between Rahmbo and Harris. So, in response to Question Set. No. 2, we know Jarrett got more than “pro forma” discussion.

Question Set. No. 5 — How much was Jarrett discussed, at all, after the “appreciation” comment? Did Obama pull Jarrett out of the mix immediately, or were some negotiations going on? If Obama removed Jarrett from consideration immediately after that phone call, did Rahmbo still talk with Harris about other potential nominees? Was the “appreciation” discussed in any more specific detail?

Meanwhile, at Washington Monthly, Steve Benen, typical of MSLBs, continues his past Obama flackery by claiming the latest reporting says that any reporting on Obama connections with Blago is continues his just a dud.

If it’s a “dud,” Steve, why didn't Obama say so right away instead of giving us non-answer pseudo-answers?

This is obviously a friendly leak to a journalist perceived by the Obama camp to be in its pocket, as part of softening up the ground for Obama’s public statement, which will be released not Monday, but Tuesday or Wednesday, to promptly be buried under Christmas fuzzies feel-good news stories.

And, for all we know, the Patrick Fitzgerald who decided NOT to prosecute Karl Rove in the Valerie Plame case may want it that way too.

Two more voices say Ken Salazar will …

Be a sellout as Interior Secretary.

And, they’re two voices I respect.

First, in case you had either forgotten or were unaware, Jeff St. Clair reminds us that rancher Ken Salazar once threatened to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to keep it from listing the black-footed prairie dog as an endangered species. Yet, despite this and his anti-environmentalism whenever the word “energy” is mentioned, Sierra Club, National Audubon Society and other Gang Green members all greenwashed him.

How can you have an Interior Secretary who opposes full use of the Endangered Species Act?

St. Clair goes on to remind us of Salazar’s support for Gale Norton, etc.:
Say this much for Salazar: he’s not a Clinton retread. In fact, he makes Clinton Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt look like Ed Abbey. The only way to redeem Clinton's sory (sic) record on the environment is for Obama to be worse.

Meanwhile, Felice Pace says this is part of larger problems in the “political access as usual” corridors of Gang Green environmental groups.

What can you do?

Cancel your memberships. Do not give another dime to Sierra, Audubon, Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defense, NRDC, WWF, etc.

Doesn’t the Greek Goddess have the money not to fund plagiarism?

Because that’s the accusation now being made against a new Arianna Huffington/HuffPost spin-off venture.

HuffPost Editor Jonah Peretti says, no, it’s all a big misunderstanding, that HuffPost is just trying to send traffic in the direction of The Onion and alt-weekly Chicago Reader, among others.

Bullshit in spades. Both of those folks are plenty big enough, and at least the The Onion, have had well-established website presences long enogh before Arianna came along, they don’t need HuffPost’s “help.”

Also, people who complain about this and similar shenanigans at HuffPost are getting cybercensored.

I hope the scandal “helps” HuffPost continue to tumble down the stairs of worthwhileness (as it already has), with a good, swift cyberkick in Arianna’s solar plexus.

Rick Warren – the anti-gift that keeps on giving

Has anybody asked Warren, or better yet, asked the Obama campaign if it has asked Warren, his opinion on Prop. 8 backers’ attempt to unmarry legally married Californians?

At the same time, did no Prop. 8 opponents think to raise the “substantiveness” argument against it BEFORE Nov. 4?