Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday news dump

The Bush administration is still reporting the bad news on Friday, so that fewer people will notice.
Consumer spending barely budged in April and growth in personal income slowed sharply, even though the government started sending out billions of dollars in economic stimulus payments.

The Commerce Department reported Friday that consumer spending edged up a small 0.2 percent in April, just half the 0.4 percent rise in March. Excluding inflation, the performance was even weaker, showing no gain in spending after excluding price changes.

Incomes rose by just 0.2 percent in April, just half of the March increase. That performance would have been even weaker without the boost it got as the government began mailing the first of $106.7 billion in economic stimulus payments.
And I’m still posting things here, so that more people will notice.


Noise machine

In response to former White House spokesman Scott McClellan’s new book, I've read a lot of comments from people calling McClellan “disgruntled” and a “traitor,” saying that a liberal publisher “got to him” and that he sounds like a “liberal blogger” (Ouch!). But I have yet to hear anyone say that anything he wrote is inaccurate.

It’s typical of the right-wing noise machine: If you can’t attack the message, attack the messenger. Recall the responses to works by former Bush Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill
"We didn't listen to [O'Neill's] wacky ideas when he was in the White House, why should we start listening to him now," said a senior official. The official said he informed Bush of O'Neill's comments but declined to describe the president's reaction.
Former National Security Council's Counterterrorism Chief Richard Clarke
Since Clarke's debut on CBS's "60 Minutes" on Sunday, administration officials have been bombarding him with personal calumny and abuse. They have called him an embittered job-seeker, a publicity-seeking author, a fabricator, a Democratic partisan and, perhaps worst of all, a friend of a friend of John Kerry. On Tuesday Bush himself responded to Clarke's charges, insisting "had my administration had any information that terrorists were going to attack New York City on 9/11, we would have acted."
and, of course, Michael Moore.

Yeah, yeah, they’re disgruntled, have an ax to grind, radicals or, shudder, fat. But how about a comment on the content of their messages? Try to make it a little more specific and substantive than “total crap.”

Until I hear that, forgive me if I’m bored.

UPDATE: The latest shit flung to the wall by the RWNM and leaving a streak as it slowly slides down and joins the growing, festering pile on the floor: McClellan’s book hurts military families. Coming soon: McClellan’s book hates America, McClellan’s book burned the flag and McClellan’s book is gay and married to an Al Franken book.

I hate to have to harp on this point, but is anything in his book inaccurate?


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Douchebag of the Week

Newt Gingrich.
"The more successful they've been at intercepting and stopping bad guys, the less proof there is that we're in danger. And therefore, the better they've done at making sure there isn't an attack, the easier it is to say, 'Well, there never was going to be an attack anyway.' And it's almost like they should every once in a while have allowed an attack to get through just to remind us."
Seriously, why do people continue to quote this asshole?


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

War Pigs

Here is another report (an earlier one here) that these fools plan more war on their way out the door.
The George W Bush administration plans to launch an air strike against Iran within the next two months, an informed source tells Asia Times Online, echoing other reports that have surfaced in the media in the United States recently.

Two key US senators briefed on the attack planned to go public with their opposition to the move, according to the source, but their projected New York Times op-ed piece has yet to appear.

The source, a retired US career diplomat and former assistant secretary of state still active in the foreign affairs community, speaking anonymously, said last week that the US plans an air strike against the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). The air strike would target the headquarters of the IRGC's elite Quds force.
I’ve thought about why the administration would do something so insane just before leaving office, and all I can come up with is that they are once again doing the bidding of The Base: Creating another rally-around-the-president moment shortly before the November elections that would strengthen the candidate whose hawkish policies most resemble the current office holder (guess whom that would be). In that environment, criticism of the attack wouldn’t play well and would come off sounding cowardly and/or traitorous, the status-quo candidate would ride a wave of patriotism/xenophobia into the White House and Viola! It’s at least four more years of well-heeled private interests raping the poor and depleting the national treasury. At least four more years of no national healthcare, at least four more years of ignoring environmental regulations and pretending that global warming isn’t happening, at least four more years of delaying development of alternative fuel sources, at least four more years of unsafe work conditions in mines, at least four more years of tainted beef recalls, at least four more years of lead paint on children’s toys, at least four more years of solving all of our international problems with bombs, at least four more years of government spies eavesdropping on our calls and reading our e-mail, at least four more years of crumbling national infrastructure, at least four more years of screwing our veterans out of medical and education benefits, at least four more years of jerkoff justices and veto threats that favor of Corporate America at every turn, at least four more years of explanations that SCHIP is bad for the country but social security privatization is good, at least four more years of Pentagon propaganda programs, at least four more years of the Justice Department being used as a weapon against political opponents, at least four more years of not hearing the word “homeless” uttered in the White House, at least four more years of lobbyists writing legislation, and at least four more years of explanations of how deregulation and tax breaks for the rich are the answer to all of our problems.

And all we have to do to protect the positions of people in power is start another war, because the Republican style of governing has once again proved to be such a miserable failure that people have to be either frightened or fooled into supporting its failed policies. But that’s OK, because the people in power don’t mind if a few hundred thousand people have to die so they can keep the party going.

But look on the bright side: Rich people will get even richer.

Ain’t the status quo great?

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day

Driving past a veterans’ memorial yesterday, my s.o. noted the wreath placed there and recounted her experience as a member of a drum corps that participated in wreath-laying ceremonies. I said that there was a dog and pony show scheduled at Arlington, and she asked, “Why do you say that?” apparently sensing a dig at vets. I explained that it wasn’t the ceremony I object to — far from it — but George Bush’s participation in it. I told her I felt he lacked the moral authority to participate in the ceremony and didn’t deserve the honor. I said it was hard for me to think of someone less appropriate to be a part of the service. I mentioned Bush’s war of choice in Iraq that has filled more than 4,000 military graves and Bush’s stated intention to veto the new G.I. bill passed by Congress. I mentioned Dick Cheney’s ham-handed effort to feign sensitivity to war casualties by stealing the phrase “crosses row on row” from the World War I poem “In Flanders Fields.”
And just before you settle down on the landing pad, you look out upon Arlington National Cemetery, its gentle slopes and crosses row on row.

Government-issued grave markers
at Arlington National Cemetery

I never once made that trip without being reminded of how enormously fortunate we all are to be Americans and what a... (INTERRUPTED BY APPLAUSE) . . I never made that trip without being reminded of how enormously fortunate we are to be Americans and what a terrible price thousands have paid so that all of us and millions more around the world might live in freedom.
Which, of course, leads one to wonder if Dick ever once bothered to look at the cemetery he’s flown over so many times.

Soon I felt her energy level drop and heard a sigh. You see, she doesn’t listen to my rants as much as tolerate them these days. Otherwise, I might have mentioned Bush’s opposition to increased pay for troops.
At the same time it is strongly opposing a slight increase in pay for the troops, the Bush administration is asking for hundreds of billions more for war. To put it in all in context, the White House wants $165 billion to continue fighting the Iraq and Afghanistan wars this year, but refuses to spend 0.2 percent of that amount ($324 million) to provide the troops a slight pay raise.

Despite his opposition to a pay increase, President Bush continues to demagogue the issue of support for the troops, telling soldiers at Ft. Drum yesterday that Congress is to blame for not having passed “a responsible war funding bill.” Of course, he didn’t tell that troops that by “responsible,” he means he wants a bill that gives them less pay.
All in all, I think our troops could do without the Bush administration’s brand of “support,” and that it‘s unconscionable for Bush to sully such a solemn ceremony with his insincere participation.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Good for the goose

John McCain wants to protect you from this kind of health coverage.
Three-time melanoma survivor John McCain appears cancer-free, has a strong heart and is in otherwise general good health, according to eight years of medical records reviewed by The Associated Press.

The Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting remains at risk for developing new skin cancers, and gets a thorough check by a Mayo Clinic dermatologist every few months.
I can see why the 71-year-old McCain thinks so little of government-sponsored healthcare. Look at all that government interference! If only there were a way to put McCain in charge of his own healthcare dollars!

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$4 gas

I predicted that we would hit $4 per gallon on May 22. According to AAA, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded is $3.875 nationally, but if you combine that with the average national prices for midgrade and premium, the average price for gasoline nationally is $4.084 per gallon. Around the country, $4 per gallon has been seen in many places, including California, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas and Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Click here to see the average price where you live.

Meanwhile, Ford expects gas prices, plus it’s own refusal to see this coming and make greater progress developing alternative-fuel vehicles, to lead to layoffs and lower profits. But don’t worry. I’m sure the executives all have golden parachutes that will allow them to land squarely on a huge pile of money while the company crashes and burns due to their mismanagement.

"There's no sense in talking about new records, because every moment of the day, you're setting a new record," said Ed Welsh of AAA.

I’m sure that, sooner or later, someone in Washington will connect record gas prices with oil companies’ record profits. Probably right around Jan. 20, 2009, because you know the current collection of scumbags with an R after their names won’t do a fucking thing about it.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Attack monkeys

If this report is false, as the White House claims, it means the Israeli official lied. But why would the official do that?
The White House on Tuesday flatly denied an Army Radio report that claimed US President George W. Bush intends to attack Iran before the end of his term. It said that while the military option had not been taken off the table, the Administration preferred to resolve concerns about Iran's push for a nuclear weapon "through peaceful diplomatic means."

Army Radio had quoted a top official in Jerusalem claiming that a senior member in the entourage of President Bush, who concluded a trip to Israel last week, had said in a closed meeting here that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were of the opinion that military action against Iran was called for.

The official reportedly went on to say that "the hesitancy of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice" was preventing the administration from deciding to launch such an attack on the Islamic Republic for the time being.
I didn’t expect to agree with Condi Rice today, but credit where it’s due. I hope the grown-ups prevent the neocons from doing something very, very stupid.

And if the wingnuts think an attack is just the thing to boost John McCain in the polls, they should think again.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Right on schedule

for gas to hit $4 per gallon by Memorial Day weekend, like I said it would. In some places, it’s ahead of schedule.
The average retail price of a gallon of regular grade gasoline in the U.S. rose to a new record high as the cost of a barrel of crude oil price continued its ascent, an industry analyst said on Sunday.

The U.S. average retail regular gasoline price rose to $3.7929 a gallon on May 16, up nearly 17 cents in the past two weeks, according to the nationwide Lundberg survey of about 7,000 gas stations.

In two areas -- Chicago and New York's Long Island -- prices soared to an average of more than $4 a gallon for the first time, survey editor Trilby Lundberg said.
If I’m wrong, it won’t be by much.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

‘More dangerous than smoking’

Your cell phone.
Mobile phones could kill far more people than smoking or asbestos, a study by an award-winning cancer expert has concluded. He says people should avoid using them wherever possible and that governments and the mobile phone industry must take "immediate steps" to reduce exposure to their radiation.

It draws on growing evidence – exclusively reported in the IoS in October – that using handsets for 10 years or more can double the risk of brain cancer. Cancers take at least a decade to develop, invalidating official safety assurances based on earlier studies which included few, if any, people who had used the phones for that long.
Ten years sounds like a long time, but ask yourself how long it has been since you got your first cell phone.
Earlier this year, the French government warned against the use of mobile phones, especially by children. Germany also advises its people to minimise handset use, and the European Environment Agency has called for exposures to be reduced.

Professor Khurana – a top neurosurgeon who has received 14 awards over the past 16 years, has published more than three dozen scientific papers – reviewed more than 100 studies on the effects of mobile phones. He has put the results on a brain surgery website, and a paper based on the research is currently being peer-reviewed for publication in a scientific journal.

Noting that malignant brain tumours represent "a life-ending diagnosis", he adds: "We are currently experiencing a reactively unchecked and dangerous situation." He fears that "unless the industry and governments take immediate and decisive steps", the incidence of malignant brain tumours and associated death rate will be observed to rise globally within a decade from now, by which time it may be far too late to intervene medically.
Don’t count on that industry intervention anytime soon.
Late last week, the Mobile Operators Association dismissed Khurana's study as "a selective discussion of scientific literature by one individual". It believes he "does not present a balanced analysis" of the published science, and "reaches opposite conclusions to the WHO and more than 30 other independent expert scientific reviews".
After all, there’s money to be made, and who says a top neurosurgeon who has received 14 awards over the past 16 years, has published more than three dozen scientific papers and reviewed more than 100 studies on the effects of mobile phones knows what he’s talking about?

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Thursday, May 15, 2008


Welcome to Fantasy Island!
John McCain, looking through a crystal ball to 2013 and the end of a prospective first term, sees "spasmodic" but reduced violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden dead or captured and government spending curbed by his ready veto pen.

The Republican presidential contender also envisions April's annual angst replaced by a simpler flat tax, illegal immigrants living humanely under a temporary worker program, and political partisanship stemmed by weekly news conferences and British-style question periods with joint meetings of Congress.
In other words, the tax burden will be shifted to the poor, who will be forced to pay the same amount as the wealthy even though it’s a much greater percentage of their income. Social welfare programs will be cut back or eliminated as the Bush tax cuts McCain made permanent drain the treasury. Corporations will have a ready supply of cheap, disposable labor, driving down wages for everyone. Unrest and the presence of American troops will continue in Iraq, but we somehow will get the upper hand in Afghanistan, even though we are already overextended in Iraq and probably soon will be at war with Iran, too (God, I hope not). And Osama bin Laden will either commit suicide or just turn himself in. And weekly press conferences will end partisan bickering for some reason.

And everyone will be able to obtain affordable health insurance, because the free-market approach that led to skyrocketing prices and the lack of access is also the solution to skyrocketing prices and the lack of access. And gasoline will once again cost $1 a gallon because the Chinese suddenly won’t need any more fuel and oil companies will grow tired of record-shattering profits year after year. And global warming will reverse itself. And money trees will grow in every back yard. And each day, Americans will be awakened by adorable songbirds and bunny rabbits, who will dress them and make their coffee. And everyone’s poop will smell like roses. It’s Morning in America again, folks. Don’t worry that John McCain doesn’t offer anything resembling an explanation of how he’s going to make any of these fantasies of his happen.

Look at his policies:

• A free-market “solution” to the healthcare crisis — including a $5,000 tax break that will barely cover a third of the cost of the average health insurance policy — that does nothing whatsoever to expand access to healthcare to people who now cannot obtain health coverage because insurance companies refuse to offer them policies.

• Staying the current course in Iraq for another 100 years.

• Making Bush’s tax cuts permanent, meaning the rich get even richer and the poor get jack shit, while the national debt continues to grow.

• A gas-tax holiday that will do nothing for consumers but make the oil companies even richer, if that’s still possible.

What about education? How are we going to expand spending on education programs when tax revenues are falling due to tax cuts that make the rich richer?

What about Jim Webb’s GI Bill? When exactly did “supporting the troops” come to mean sending them into harm’s way without body armor and unprotected vehicles, not having an exit strategy, cutting their health benefits and, now, screwing them out of an education?

If you scratch the surface with McCain, this so-called “maverick” who has voted in favor of Bush policies 95 percent of the time in 2007, you find pretty quickly that there’s no there there. If you want leadership that’s going to turn this country around, look elsewhere. If you want fantasy, rent a video.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Douchebag of the Week

Marietta, Ga., bar owner Mike Norman.
The publishing company that owns the Curious George image says it is considering legal action to stop the sale of a T-shirt depicting Barack Obama as the monkey from children's books.

The T-shirts are being peddled by Marietta bar owner Mike Norman at his Mulligan's Bar and Grill in Cobb County. They show a picture of Curious George peeling a banana, with the words "Obama '08" underneath.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day Mom, and to all mothers everywhere.

Speaking of mothers, people often say Republicans would sell their mothers for political gain, and it appears they’re right.

Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be Republicans.

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Friday, May 09, 2008

The man with the plan

John McCain is a fountain of new and impressive ideas. I understand McCain is also working on a plan to establish local departments that will be tasked with putting out fires.


Monday, May 05, 2008


Updating an earlier post, it looks like KBR was warned about problems with the shitty electrical work it was providing the troops at taxpayers’ expense.
In October 2004, the United States Army issued an urgent bulletin to commanders across Iraq, warning them of a deadly new threat to American soldiers. Because of flawed electrical work by contractors, the bulletin stated, soldiers at American bases in Iraq had received severe electrical shocks, and some had even been electrocuted.
American electricians who worked for KBR, the Houston-based defense contractor that is responsible for maintaining American bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, said they repeatedly warned company managers and military officials about unsafe electrical work, which was often performed by poorly trained Iraqis and Afghans paid just a few dollars a day.
And yet it did nothing, and American troops have been electrocuted.
Since that warning, at least two more American soldiers have been electrocuted in similar circumstances. In all, at least a dozen American military personnel have been electrocuted in Iraq, according to the Pentagon and Congressional investigators.
And yet the Army recently awarded KBR a new contract to provide services to the military in Iraq. At least a dozen troops are dead, and yet the company’s profits triple. And yet company executives aren’t in prison.

But none of this has anything to do with the former CEO of KBR’s until recently parent company, Halliburton. I’m sure most companies have the political juice to get the military, State Department, Pentagon and Department of Justice to look the other way at very credible accusations of looting, gang rapes, providing contaminated drinking water to troops and shoddy electrical work that kills American troops. I’m sure every company without ties to the vice president has no problem sidestepping congressional testimony from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Principal Assistant Responsible for Contracting, who said, “I can unequivocally state that the abuse related to contracts awarded to KBR represents the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed during the course of my professional career.”

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Straight talk

A nickel for anyone who can make sense of this verbal scribble:
“No, I was thinking about- it’s not hard to- we will not,” [John] McCain stumbled. “By eliminating our dependency on foreign oil, we will not have to have our national security threatened by a cut off of that oil. Because we will be dependent, because we won’t be dependent, we will no longer be dependent on foreign oil. That’s what my remarks were.”
Funny story: McCain was trying to explain away comments he made Friday about the connection between oil and our war in the Middle East.
“My friends I will have an energy policy that we will be talking about, which will eliminate our dependence on oil from the Middle East that will – that will then prevent us – that will prevent us from having ever to send our young men and women into conflict again in the Middle East.”
So we ARE in Iraq over oil! OK, we already knew that, but I guess that kind of talk is just a little too straight for a Republican presidential candidate.

I, for one, do not relish the idea of at least four more years of marble-mouthed imbecility from the White House.

When people say McCain is nothing but a third Bush term, I thought they just meant that McCain would continue Bush’s disastrous, tried-and-failed policies. But apparently it also means that we would be burdened with another chief executive who can’t explain his own comments and can’t form a sentence that isn’t written on a script.

Why would McCain, or any candidate who wants to even sniff a chance to win an election, make himself out to be a carbon copy of the most unpopular president in American history, whose every policy has been a complete disaster? Because McCain is not responsive to the will of the American people. McCain doesn’t support, and will not enact, policies that the majority of Americans support. He supports policies that further the interests of the monied minority behind the scenes, who stand to gain from policies like tax breaks for the wealthy, pre-emptive war for oil, for-profit healthcare, telecom immunity and a weakened OSHA, FDA, EPA and CPSC that are harmful to most Americans and to the country.

But hey, if you like government by corporations, of corporations and for corporations, by all means cast your ballot for John McSame, because the status quo is just great.

UPDATE: McSame, indeed.
John McCain’s senior campaign staff and President Bush’s senior White House staff are so close that the McCain folks let the Bush folks know in advance whenever McCain is about to distance himself from the unpopular president, says a top McCain aide.

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Friday, May 02, 2008

McCain’s gas-price ‘solution’

Paul Krugman explains why John McCain’s gas-tax holiday is bullshit.
Why doesn’t cutting the gas tax this summer make sense? It’s Econ 101 tax incidence theory: if the supply of a good is more or less unresponsive to the price, the price to consumers will always rise until the quantity demanded falls to match the quantity supplied. Cut taxes, and all that happens is that the pretax price rises by the same amount. The McCain gas tax plan is a giveaway to oil companies, disguised as a gift to consumers.
In other words, it’s Steal from the Poor and Give to the Rich, straight from the GOP playbook.

But the consumer ends up paying the same price, you say, so how is this stealing from the poor? Because this plan lowers the amount of money the federal government collects in taxes. That means the government has less money to spend. Which means spending cuts are inevitable. And which programs do you think Republicans look at first when the treasury comes up a little short? Things like Medicare, LIHEAP, housing aid for the disabled, student loan programs and environmental protection. These are all things that rich people don’t need, use or are too stupid to care about, and the Bush administration has proposed cuts to all of these programs.

Between McCain’s gas tax holiday and his proposed tax cut for healthcare spending, which also diverts money from the federal treasury to the pockets of private companies, one wonders how if McCain plans to address the deficit at all, and how he plans to fund any government spending. I guess in his view, people will be able to pay for a $12,000 health insurance policy with a $5,000 tax credit, and that people with pre-existing conditions will magically receive insurance, even though insurance companies refuse to cover them. I guess in his view, all those rotting roads and bridges around the country are going to repair themselves. I guess in his view all those people who can’t cover the skyrocketing cost of higher education will wash dishes for the rest of their lives, and somehow this makes us more competitive in the world market. I guess in his view it’s OK if people have to choose which prescription drugs to take and which to skip because they simply can’t afford the medicines they need. Maybe they should’ve been like him and had an admiral for a father and then become a senator so they too could be on government-funded healthcare their entire lives.

It’s not that he doesn’t care about these people and these issues. It’s just that he wants to be president so badly that he’s willing to sacrifice them and all of his principles to get it.

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Supporting the troops

Global warming denier James Inhofe lacks the courage of his dumbass convictions.

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Mission Accomplished

The above dog-and-pony show took place five years ago today, May 1, 2003. And five years after we accomplished our mission,
A double suicide bombing struck a wedding convoy northeast of Baghdad Thursday, killing at least 35 people and wounding 65 others, police said.

In Baghdad, a car bomb aimed at a U.S. patrol in Baghdad on Thursday killed an American soldier and least nine Iraqi civilians and wounded 26, police and military said.


Around Iraq, at least 1,080 Iraqi civilians and security forces were killed nationwide last month, or an average of 36 a day, according to an AP tally. That's down from March's total of 1,269, or an average of 41 per day.

Officials reported at least 479 deaths in Sadr City but they could not break down the number of militants, Iraqi Security forces and civilians.
I’m not sure how much more of neocon “accomplishments” humanity can take.

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