Monday, February 28, 2011
Some naughty rockabilly
Your Dylan Dally Moment
Dylan talks with Phil Angelides
Moody's rates the Republican/Teabagger budget
The House Republicans' proposal would reduce 2011 real GDP growth by 0.5% and 2012 growth by 0.2 percentage points This would mean some 400,000 fewer jobs created by the end of 2011 and 700,000 fewer jobs by the end of 2012.Still bad, but not as bad as Goldmine Sachs. However let us not forget that Goldmine has a better record on predictions than Moody's.
When you put a Republican in the left seat
R.I.P. Edwin Donald "Duke" Snider
He was the only player to hit four home runs twice in a World Series, including in 1955, when the Dodgers ended decades of frustration and defeated the Yankees, bringing Brooklyn its only World Series championship.
There is no Republican/Teabagger governors conspiracy
Clarence "Clara Bell" Thomas speaks
At one point Thomas recognized his wife in the audience and suggested she was being targeted for her beliefs, telling the audience, according to the recording, “my bride is with me, Virginia Thomas. And some of you may know her. But the reason I bring that – specifically bring it – up is there is a price to pay today for standing in defense of your Constitution.”Not reported was his follow on comment that when he didn't believe the same thing as his "bride" she made him sleep on the couch like a white man.
Thomas said his wife “started her organization to give 24/7 every day in defense of liberty,” and said he shared her principles.
“We are equally yoked, and we love being with each other because we love the same things. We believe in the same things,” he said. “So, with my wife, and with the people around me, what I see, I’m reinforced that we are focused on defending liberty. So, I admire her and I love her for that because it keeps me going.”
Not coming soon to a theater near you
Target - Koch Brothers
It's none other than tea party financiers Charles and David Koch, who were being targeted, an open letter stated, for their attempts "to usurp American Democracy."Right on brothers and sisters! We have nothing to lose but our chains.
"Koch Industries, and oligarchs like them, have most recently started to manipulate the political agenda in Wisconsin," an announcement posted to anonnews.org declared.
"Governor Walker's union-busting budget plan contains a clause that went nearly un-noticed. This clause would allow the sale of publicly owned utility plants in Wisconsin to private parties (specifically, Koch Industries) at any price, no matter how low, without a public bidding process," they explained. "The Koch's have helped to fuel the unrest in Wisconsin and the drive behind the bill to eliminate the collective bargaining power of unions in a bid to gain a monopoly over the state's power supplies...
"In a world where corporate money has become the lifeblood of political influence, the labor unions are one of the few ways citizens have to fight against corporate greed," the release added. "Anonymous cannot ignore the plight of the citizen-workers of Wisconsin, or the opportunity to fight for the people in America's broken political system. For these reasons, we feel that the Koch brothers threaten the United States democratic system and, by extension, all freedom-loving individuals everywhere."
For those who wish to do what they can, Anonymous suggests boycotting Georgia=Pacific products including:
In the US, those products were listed as Vanity Fair, Quilted Northern, Angel Soft, Sparkle, Brawney, Mardi Gras and Dixie. For Europe, they were Demak'Up, Kitten Soft, Lotus / Lotus Soft, Tenderly, Nouvelle Soft, Okay Kitchen Towels, Colhogar, Delica, Inversoft and Tutto.
To start the week
Lose the future
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Is your baby glowing with health
With technologists in many states lightly regulated, or not at all, their own professional group is calling for greater oversight and standards. For 12 years, the American Society of Radiologic Technologists has lobbied Congress to pass a bill that would establish minimum educational and certification requirements, not only for technologists, but also for medical physicists and people in 10 other occupations in medical imaging and radiation therapy.The bill is still awaiting Congressional action, hopefully the troglodytes will understand that having children who can take their own picture without snapping the shutter is not a good thing.
Yet even with broad bipartisan support, the association said, and the backing of 26 organizations representing more than 500,000 health professionals, Congress has yet to pass what has become known as the CARE bill because, supporters say, it lacks a powerful legislator to champion its cause.
In December 2006, the Senate passed the bill, but Congress adjourned before the House could vote. At the time, the House bill had 135 co-sponsors...
Individual states decide what standards, if any, radiological workers must meet. Radiation therapists are unregulated in 15 states, imaging technologists in 11 states and medical physicists in 18 states, according to the technologists association. “There are individuals,” said Dr. Jerry Reid, executive director of a group that certifies technologists, “who are performing medical imaging and radiation therapy who are not qualified. It is happening right now.”
The Abby Normal of Minn. politics
Sarah Palin with a brainYes, with a brain, damaged, but with a brain. And as we all remember, the monster in Young Frankenstein, so ably played Peter Boyle, also had a damaged brain. And they both came from the same source, Abby Normal.
Is you champagne on ice?
Roger would look almost as good as TurdBlossom in an orange jumpsuit.
Live tweets from the Capitol in Madison, WI
Live updates from Firedoglake
According to earlier tweets, the cops didn't really have their hearts in doing Scott Walkers dirty work.
Some old, something new
10 years into a shitty little war
The Army has got you covered from head to toe as it prepares to issue helmets that can halt a bullet at point-blank range and new mountain boots for climbing the rugged terrain of Afghanistan.The new helmets do cost twice as much as the old ones ($650 v $325) so it remains to be seen if the Orange Boner's Teabagger caucus will cut the funds from the budget.
The Enhanced Combat Helmet will come on line in the fall, although leadership is working to get them in the hands of troops even sooner.
The helmet is made of a state-of-the-art plastic, but don’t let that fool you. It has stopped zero-degree rifle bullets at point-blank range, and has stopped 7.62mm rounds, as well.
They had a rally in Austin Texas
This makes the Koch Bros. happy
Nothing is completely evil
Wal-Mart is banning a controversial flame retardant found in hundreds of consumer goods, from couches to cameras to child car seats, telling its suppliers to come up with safer alternatives.US chemical manufacturers have ceased or will cease producing this chemical by next year. Wal-Mart's action will have the effect of forcing its Chinese suppliers to comply as well.
In perhaps the boldest example yet of "retail regulation," Wal-Mart is stepping ahead of federal regulators and using its muscle as the world's largest retailer to move away from a class of chemicals researchers say endanger human health and the environment...
Now, Wal-Mart has turned its sights on polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, a class of compounds used since 1976 as flame retardants in electronics, furniture, sporting goods, pet supplies, curtains and toys, among other things. In a recent notice to suppliers, the company said it would begin testing June 1 to make sure products do not contain PBDEs.
Newt is a real beaut!
So as he travels the country, he is striking two related notes: that the nation faces not just a fiscal crisis but also a loss of its moral foundation, and that his conversion to Catholicism two years ago is part of an evolution that has given him a deeper appreciation for the role of faith in public life...He has chosen well to be a Catholic, a religion that has over 2000 years developed the trappings of faith to cover over the lack of any real faith. A few masses, a handshake from the bishop and all he needs to pray for is the Baptists buy into it.
To most audiences, Mr. Gingrich does not talk directly about converting to Catholicism, but his faith has become an important part of his dialogue with conservative voters.
In an interview, Mr. Gingrich said he knew that a campaign would bring new attention on the full scope of his personal and political background. Last week, in an appearance at the University of Pennsylvania, he grew testy when he received a question from a Democratic student activist about the details of his two divorces.
“There are things in my life I’m not proud of, and there are things in my life I’m very proud of,” Mr. Gingrich said in the interview when asked what effect his background would have on a candidacy. “People have to decide who I am. Am I a person they want to trust to lead the country or not?”
Friends of Keith launch new website
Orange jumpsuits for corporate executives?
Late last week, word leaked out that Mr. Mozilo, who had co-founded Countrywide Financial in 1969 — and, for nearly 40 years, presided over its astonishing rise and its equally astonishing fall — would not be prosecuted by the Justice Department. Not for insider trading. Not for failing to disclose to investors his private worries about subprime loans. Not for helping to create a culture at Countrywide in which mortgage originators were rewarded for pushing fraudulent loans on borrowers.Unlike the Savings & Loan fraud under Bush I, the crooks this time around avoided classic theft strategies in favor of incomprehensible financial frauds. That the government has chosen to give short shrift to investigation and prosecution resources has not helped one bit.
In its article about the Justice Department’s decision, The Los Angeles Times said prosecutors had concluded that Mr. Mozilo’s actions “did not amount to criminal wrongdoing.”
Just months earlier, the Justice Department concluded that Joe Cassano shouldn’t take the fall for the financial crisis either. Mr. Cassano, you’ll recall, is the former head of the financial products unit of the American International Group, a man whose enthusiasm for credit-default swaps led, pretty directly, to the need for a huge government bailout of A.I.G. There was a time when it appeared that there was no way the government would let Mr. Cassano walk. But it did.
That is partly because the federal government threw enormous resources at those investigations. There were a dozen or more Justice Department task forces. Over 1,000 F.B.I. agents were involved. The government attitude was that it would do whatever it took to bring crooked bank executives to justice...Those who want to prosecute don't know how and those who change this don't want to do so.
Today, Mr. Black says, the government doesn’t have nearly as many resources to pursue such cases. With the F.B.I. understandably focused on terrorism, there isn’t a lot of manpower left to dig into potential crimes that may have taken place during the financial crisis. Fewer than 150 of the bureau’s agents are assigned to mortgage fraud, for instance. Several lawyers who represent white collar defendants told me that outside of New York, there aren’t nearly enough prosecutors who understand the intricacies of financial crime and know how to prosecute it. It is a lot easier to prosecute people for old-fashioned crimes — robbery, assault, murder — than for financial crimes.
When it comes to running for President
Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-Ind.) is known as a strong fiscal conservative, a top selling point for a potential presidential run. But before he was governor, Daniels was the first budget director for President Bush during a time when the country went from a budget surplus to a budget deficit, and it's likely that he'll have to explain how that fits with the philosophy he touts should he decide to jump into the Republican field in 2012.Poor Mitch, at this time only T-Paw Bridgefail has less to run on and little T-Paw doesn't even know it.
On "Fox News Sunday," host Chris Wallace pressed Daniels on this point. "When you came in, this country had an annual surplus for the first time in 30 years of $236 billion. When you left, two and a half years later, the deficit was $400 billion. You were also there when President Bush launched his Medicaid drug benefit plan that now cost $60 billion a year. I know there was a recession, but do you think it was wise -- at a time when we were fighting two wars -- to have two tax cuts and launch a huge new entitlement?"
Daniels said deficits during that time were inevitable. "It was a recession, two wars and a terrorist attack that led to a whole new category called homeland security," he said. "So nobody was less happy than I to see the surplus go away, but it was going away."
While Daniels defended the Bush tax cuts and said he was proud to serve Bush, he also distanced himself from the administration:
They are at it again
Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Ct.) both criticized President Obama's response to the crisis in Libya on Sunday, saying he needs to "get tough" and enforce a no-fly zone over the country. McCain also held out the possibility of a military option Libya...To Grandpa Gummo's credit he did not demand that the president get Americans killed right away. Neither did his best buddy Uncle Bootlicker. Apparently the current casualty rates in Afghanistan are satisfactory for them.
"Get tough," said McCain on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday. "And I understand that America's security and safety of American citizens is our highest priority. It is not our only priority."
Saturday, February 26, 2011
DNC passes resolution to end Barry's shitty little war
The resolution adopted Saturday states that "the Democratic Party supports prioritizing job creation and a swift withdrawal of U.S. armed forces and military contractors in Afghanistan which must include a significant and sizable reduction no later than July 2011."This also puts the DNC at odds with the Pentagon which long ago determined where their permanent bases would go to complement the ones in Iraq.
The resolution cites the length of the war (nearly ten years), the cost (more than $100 billion per year), the lack of public support (72 percent want to "speed up the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan") and the argument that the conflict does not require a military solution.
"The passage of my resolution places the Democratic Party squarely on the side of American people who overwhelmingly support a swift withdrawal from Afghanistan, beginning with a significant and sizeable reduction in U.S. troop levels by no later than July of this year," said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who submitted the resolution. Other submitters were DNC Vice Chairs Donna Brazile and Rep. Mike Honda (D-Hawaii) and DNC Secretary Alice Germond.
A favorite son of the district
Never shit where you eat
While the existence of the toxic wastes has been reported, thousands of internal documents obtained by The New York Times from the Environmental Protection Agency, state regulators and drillers show that the dangers to the environment and health are greater than previously understood.The rest of it shows how much greater those dangers are.
Using every part of the pig except the whistle
Republicans worship the rights of fetuses
The Sacrifice part of Shared Sacrifice
The meeting was in the home of Elizabeth Lassiter, a certified nursing assistant whose job is in Hatfield, Pa., about 45 minutes north of Philadelphia. She doesn’t earn a lot or get benefits, but it’s a big step up from last year when she was working part time in Warminster and for a while had to sleep in her car.And this is what the Koch Bros. and the Banksters want more of. Even these people have assets not yet taken.
“Back then I was working for a nursing agency and they kept saying they didn’t have full-time work,” she said. Until she could raise enough money for an apartment, the car was her only option. “I needed someplace to lay my head,” she said. “It was very hard.”
These are the kinds of stories you might expect from a country staggering through a depression, not the richest and supposedly most advanced society on earth. If these were exceptional stories, there would be less reason for concern. But they are in no way extraordinary. Similar stories abound throughout the United States.
Mississippi is the most conservative state
Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative.
Banks expect punishment for foreclosure fraud
Tiny Tim Geithner, High Roller
“I don’t have any enthusiasm for…trying to shrink the relative importance of the financial system in our economy as a test of reform, because we have to think about the fact that we operate in the broader world…It’s the same thing for Microsoft or anything else. We want US firms to benefit from that…Now, financial firms are different because of the risk, but you can contain that through regulation.”So we have a bad idea, subject to no functional restraint being pursued by our Treasury Secretary. And it is not naivete on Geithners part. He knows that if he supports the Banksters without reservation he will face a multimillion dollar future on Wall St. If he fails the boys he will have to subsist on his government pension the rest of his days.
There are three serious problems with this view. First, Geithner ignores everything that we know about the pattern of financial development around the world. It is very rare for financial systems to develop without major crises. In fact, experience in recent decades confirms what should have been obvious from previous centuries: as countries grow and accumulate savings, they become increasingly prone to financial collapse. Given Geithner’s extensive international crisis-fighting experience at the US Treasury, the International Monetary Fund, and the New York Federal Reserve, his current naiveté on this point is simply stunning.
Second, Geithner assumes that risks at the largest US firms can be contained through regulation, when all our knowledge points directly to the contrary. Even the strongest supporters of the Dodd-Frank reform legislation emphasize that it only went part way towards reducing the incentives for major financial institutions to take big risks. Looking at the combined effect of the new law, plus the weak additional capital requirements agreed under Basel III and the hands-off approach already signaled by the Financial Stability Oversight Council (which Mr. Geithner chairs), it is hard to believe that anything has really improved.
In fact, given that our largest banks are now undoubtedly too big to fail, they have even more incentive to increase their debt levels relative to their equity. Higher leverage increases their payoffs when times are good – as executives and traders are paid based on their “return on equity.” And when times are bad, for example in a crisis episode, losses are transferred to creditors. If those creditor losses are large and spread so as to undermine the broader financial system, pressure for a government bailout will mount. Bankers get the upside and taxpayers (and people laid off as credit is disrupted) get the downside.
The US financial sector went mad for high-risk loans to emerging markets during 1970s – arguing that this was the new frontier. This loan portfolio blew up in the debt crisis of 1982. A version of same thoughtless cross-border lending is again underway, extolled by leading financial sector executives (e.g., Jamie Dimon from JP Morgan Chase) – who have apparently persuaded Mr. Geithner to tag along intellectually.
And third, Geithner completely overlooks what has brought significant parts of Europe to its economic knees. He should spend more time with the authorities in Iceland or Ireland or Switzerland, countries where “financial globalization” allowed banks to become big relative to the economy.
While we wait for the Republican shutdown of the federal government
Deep spending cuts by state and local governments pose a growing threat to an economy that is already grappling with high unemployment, depressed home prices and the surging cost of oil.All eyes are on Wisconsin while the Republican/Teabagger termites work their evil in the other 49 states.
Lawmakers at state capitols and city halls are slashing jobs and programs, arguing that some pain now is better than a lot more later. But the cuts are coming at a price – weaker growth at the national level.
The clearest sign to date was a report Friday on U.S. gross domestic product for the final three months of 2010. The government lowered its growth estimate, pointing to larger-than-expected cuts by state and local governments. The report suggested that worsening state budget problems could hold back the recovery by putting more people out of work and reducing consumer spending.
Across the country, governors and lawmakers are proposing broad cutbacks – lowering fees paid to nursing homes in Florida, reducing health insurance subsidies for lower-income Pennsylvanians, closing prisons in New York state and scaling back programs for elderly and disabled Californians.
"The massive financial problems at the state and local levels have and will continue to restrain growth," said economist Joel Naroff of Naroff Economic Advisors.
Judge them by what they do, not what they say
As Josh Dorner reported on the progressive ThinkProgress web site this week, "Instead of making the tough choices necessary to help their states weather the current crisis with some semblance of the social safety net and basic government services intact, Republican governors are instead using it as an opportunity to advance several longtime GOP projects: union busting, draconian cuts to social programs, and massive corporate tax breaks. These misplaced priorities mean that the poor and middle class will shoulder the burden of fiscal austerity, even as the rich and corporations are asked to contribute even less."All of which fits into a narrative the Republican/Teabaggers have been hammering home since the days of St. Ronnie. Taxes are bad and government is a waste. Until you wonder why your street has not been plowed, you have to boil or filter your water and there is never a cop around when you need one. And schools are just a liberal welfare system designed to deceive your kids into thinking 2 + 2 = 4.
Dorner cites examples: in Arizona, Republican Gov. Jan Brewer proposes kicking some 280,000 off the state Medicaid rolls, but two weeks ago signed into law $538 million in corporate tax cuts. Florida Gov. Rick Scott's new budget calls for billions of dollars in cuts to essential programs and services to pay for corporate and property tax cuts of at least $4 billion. Rick Snyder, newly elected governor of Michigan, has asked for $180 million in concessions from public employees and more than a billion to be taken from schools, universities, local governments, and others, most of which could be avoided if he wasn't so deeply dedicated to giving business $1.8 billion in tax breaks.
So the next time a Republican/Teabagger calls for shared sacrifice remember that he really means he will take his share and your share and you will sacrifice.
Support them today at Noon
Friday, February 25, 2011
Powder Blue Trans Am
Your Daily Cenk Shot
And now the rest of the story
Republicans one step closer to shutting down government
Tennessee says " Fuck the 1st Amendment"
Refraining from eating pork? Giving alms to the poor? These could become criminal activities in Tennessee, where a proposed law would make adherence to Sharia -- or Islamic law -- illegal and punishable with jail time.The intent is not there, but the de jure fact will still exist. Even the Dread Chief Justice Roberts can't stretch the law to fit this piece of crap. Then again, Tennessee was never a real part of the United States.
While a number of other states have filed legislation seeking to keep Sharia out of the courts, Tennessee is going one giant step further by attempting to outlaw it entirely.
Senate Bill 1028, introduced by State Sen. Bill Ketron, gives the state Attorney General authority to designate "Sharia organizations," defined as "two (2) or more persons conspiring to support, or acting in concert in support of, sharia or in furtherance of the imposition of sharia within any state or territory of the United States." Anyone who provides material support or resources to a designated Sharia organization could be charged with a felony and face up to 15 years in jail.
The bill states its intent is not to outlaw free religion, or the practice of Islam.
Follow the money
Defend your freedom
The Great Divide
The Wal-Mart of weed
The 10,000-square-foot weGrow store, which opens Saturday at 1537 Fulton Ave., is the first national franchise for a company that bills itself as a supply and training destination for legal pot growers.They have everything except the herbal matter itself. And very honest about what they are selling and who they are selling to. The Costco of Cheeb, The Macy's of Mary Jane, The Target of Tea, The K-Mart of Kif, The Sears of Spliff and perhaps someday if they go international, The Canadian Tire of Cannabis.
The enterprise, started in Oakland last year as a warehouse store called iGrow, and doesn't sell any marijuana.
Yet the gardening emporium attracted national attention for its unbridled embrace of the marijuana culture. It featured an on-site doctor offering medical pot recommendations and sales staff eagerly pitching grow lights and nutrients while teaching people how to raise bountiful cannabis buds.
The Oakland location is being reorganized as a non-retail distribution hub for a network of retail hydroponics outlets. The Sacramento store – billed as "the first honest hydro store" – is to be followed by weGrow stores in Arizona, Colorado, New Jersey and Oregon in coming months.
Oh yeah, one last thing.
States resorting to slave labor
Prison labor — making license plates, picking up litter — is nothing new, and nearly all states have such programs. But these days, officials are expanding the practice to combat cuts in federal financing and dwindling tax revenue, using prisoners to paint vehicles, clean courthouses, sweep campsites and perform many other services done before the recession by private contractors or government employees.Why hire the unemployed when you got a way below market rate labor pool all locked up. And the judges will keep the pool filled, just tell them what you want,
In New Jersey, inmates on roadkill patrol clean deer carcasses from highways. Georgia inmates tend municipal graveyards. In Ohio, they paint their own cells. In California, prison officials hope to expand existing programs, including one in which wet-suit-clad inmates repair leaky public water tanks. There are no figures on how many prisoners have been enrolled in new or expanded programs nationwide, but experts in criminal justice have taken note of the increase.
“There’s special urgency in prisons these days,” said Martin F. Horn, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a former commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction. “As state budgets get constricted, the public is looking for ways to offset the cost of imprisonment.”
They are going about it the wrong way
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which oversees the nation's largest banks, intends to pursue its own settlement with lenders, a track distinct from the talks conducted by its federal counterparts, the sources said. The OCC, eager to protect major banks from expensive fines, is seeking to limit the terms to $5 billion, while also ensuring that lenders retain wide latitude in how to administer relief for homeowners, the sources said...The money would be nice and all, but it leaves the same bad actors in the same flawed structure to do the same evil all over again. What is needed is some jail time to wake up the others. Throw a Ken Lewis, Jaime Dimon or Angelo Mozillo into prison for a few years and the remaining executives might put a few more restraints on their more
Officials at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Housing Administration, and those now creating a fledgling consumer financial protection bureau are inclined to seek as much as $30 billion in fines, making those funds available to provide relief to borrowers at risk of losing their homes...
State attorneys general are intent on imposing larger fines on the nation's five largest mortgage companies, the sources said. Last year, attorneys general in all 50 states launched an investigation into claims that mortgage lenders improperly foreclosed on homeowners without proper documentation.
Know your enemy
On Thursday, an Anonymous member went on the David Pakman Show for a live interview with Church spokeswoman Shirley Phelps-Roper. During the interview, the Anonymous member said that the group had tried to respond "maturely" to the Church's allegations, but that members had grown frustrated with the Church's response. Phelps-Roper chided the hacktivist and told him he was going to hell. As she said this, Anonymous apparently hacked Downloads.WestboroBaptistChurch.com and posted an official response.And he didn't even work up a sweat.
Writes The Register, "The statement, headed 'This domain has been seized by Anonymous under section #14 of the rules of the Internet', derides the Church for attempting to 'goad' Anonymous into attacking it for describing them as 'crybaby hackers'. The statement went on to say Anonymous had bigger fish to fry, such as campaigns involving Libya and managing the fallout from its hack against HBGary." (Screenshot)
Wisconsin governor envies Iraq
Thousands marched on government buildings and clashed with security forces in cities across Iraq on Friday, in the largest and most violent anti-government protests here since political unrest began spreading in the Arab world several weeks ago. (Scroll down for photos)Doesn't it make you proud to see how well the Iraqis have taken to democracy.
In two northern Iraqi cities, security forces trying to push back crowds opened fire, killing six demonstrators. In the capital of Baghdad, demonstrators knocked down blast walls, threw rocks and scuffled with club-wielding troops.
The protests, billed as a "Day of Rage, were fueled by anger over corruption, chronic unemployment and shoddy public services.
"We want a good life like human beings, not like animals," said Khalil Ibrahim, 44, one of about 3,000 protesters in the capital Baghdad.
From this valley they say you are going*
After years of fighting for control of a prominent valley in the rugged mountains of eastern Afghanistan, the United States military has begun to pull back most of its forces from ground it once insisted was central to the campaign against the Taliban and Al Qaeda.It is their country and their Thief in Chief Karzai of the Afghans says his boys can handle it so we should leave it to them. The symbolism of it may be a small problem, however.
The withdrawal from the Pech Valley, a remote region in Kunar Province, formally began on Feb. 15. The military projects that it will last about two months, part of a shift of Western forces to the province’s more populated areas. Afghan units will remain in the valley, a test of their military readiness.
While American officials say the withdrawal matches the latest counterinsurgency doctrine’s emphasis on protecting Afghan civilians, Afghan officials worry that the shift of troops amounts to an abandonment of territory where multiple insurgent groups are well established, an area that Afghans fear they may not be ready to defend on their own.
The Taliban and other Afghan insurgent groups are all but certain to label the withdrawal a victory in the Pech Valley, where they could point to the Soviet Army’s withdrawal from the same area in 1988. Many Afghans remember that withdrawal as a symbolic moment when the Kremlin’s military campaign began to visibly fall apart.We would all be better served if that were the beginning of a complete withdrawal from the whole damn country. If we are as broke as the Republicans say we are, coming home is about all we can afford.
Within six months, the Soviet-backed Afghan Army of the time ceded the territory to mujahedeen groups, according to Afghan military officials.
*Complete lyrics here.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Some cartoons just aren't funny
Today's Cenk shot
We can be together
Volunteers of America
Enjoy it, share it and don't forget to be there Saturday.
Find a MoveOn.org rally here.
Let WIC disappear
Another Republican/Teabagger stands with Hosni Walker
Your future, your childrens future
Roger Ailes told an employee to lie
Rupe will probably spend $Millions to paper this over, but will he keep Roger afterwards? Stay tuned.
Secaucus Fats gets his reach around from the New York Times
Gail Collins explains the whats and whys of the Republican shutdown of the government.
Right now, all around the country, federal agencies are making plans for an orderly way to shut down nonessential services if Congress fails to do anything to keep the boat afloat next week. The air traffic controllers will stay on the job, but I would not plan any visits to a national park if I were you.That was simple, wasn't it? And there is more to clear up all the other questions you may have. Nevertheless, the thought of the Orange Boner in the original Star Trek, even as a Romulan, sours my memories of that show.
Hundreds of thousands of nonessential federal employees will be furloughed, stuck at home without a paycheck and contemplating their nonessentialness. The economy will tank. Nobody is going to be happy.
Except perhaps some of the House members who prowl the corridors yowling about deficits like accountants on crack. They think they were elected to shut down the government, so the idea of closing nonessential services must sound like a day at the beach.
All hope for averting disaster lies with Speaker John Boehner, who used to be a strangely tanned blowhard but is now regarded as a beleaguered statesman. This just happened a few days ago, so you may not have gotten the memo.
Unfortunately, so far, Speaker Boehner has not been all that helpful. There is very little in Washington that can’t be explained by an episode of the original “Star Trek,” and Boehner is playing out the one where the Romulan captain prefers the ways of peace but is saddled with a crew that will mutiny if he fails to follow through on the plan to blow up the galaxy.
Newt, you put the question to the public
"I've had a life which, on occasion, has had problems," Gingrich said. "I believe in a forgiving God, and the American people will have to decide whether that their primary concern. If the primary concern of the American people is my past, my candidacy would be irrelevant. If the primary concern of the American people is the future... that's a debate I'll be happy to have with your candidate or any other candidate if I decide to run."Newt, let me be among the first to tell you that your candidacy is irrelevant. But don't feel bad. You are a Catholic now, the Church in Rome has for historically turned a blind eye to important people who have a girlfriend.
DEA proposes reclassifying marijuana
A Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) proposal to reclassify the main psychoactive chemical in marijuana as a Schedule III substance would allow pharmaceutical companies to market the drug while still penalizing common recreational use, according to marijuana law reform advocates.This means that they will still throw your ass in jail for selling it, unless your name is Merck of Pfizer.
The main psychoactive chemical in marijuana, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is currently a Schedule I substance within the US Controlled Substances Act, the most restrictive schedule with the greatest criminal penalties.
In November 2010, the DEA proposed reclassifying dronabinol, a synthetic THC, as a Schedule III substance, which would place it among substances such as hydrocodone and allow it to be dispensed with a written or oral prescription. This will put marijuana on a lower level than Rush's beloved Hillbilly Heroin and also accept that it has a "currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States". That is a significant change as Sched 1 drugs have no accepted medical use. It also puts Big Pharma on the same level as Mexican drug cartels, but that is another story.
"The DEA's intent is to expand the federal government's schedule III listing to include pharmaceutical products containing naturally derived formations of THC while simultaneously maintain existing criminal prohibitions on the plant itself," Paul Armentano, the deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), wrote at AlterNet.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
For the unemployed in the warmer climes
Bernie sounds the tocsin for working America.
Dumbass gets fired for "live ammunition" twit
An Indiana Deputy Attorney General "is no longer employed" by the Attorney General's Office, after he tweeted for "live ammunition" to be used on protesters in Wisconsin, the office announced in a statement Wednesday afternoon.And to add insult to injury, he is a Chargers fan in Indiana. How did he ever get his job?
The deputy AG, Jeff Cox, wrote his comments in response to tweets from a Mother Jones editor named Adam Weinstein.
"[A]gainst thugs physically threatening legally-elected state legislators & governor? You're damn right I advocate deadly force," Cox wrote, to defend his call for live ammunition.
A Cost Center of waste and fraud
President Obama pledged nearly two years ago to fix the broken system of awarding and managing federal contracts. But a new report paints a grim picture of the government’s reliance on the private sector for support in war zones and urges a series of reforms to prevent more U.S. tax dollars from being wasted.Recommending that a Republican House provide more people with greater authority to examine government contractors who are probably stealing this country blind and kicking back to their GOP "friends", is an impossible dream. A more likly event would be for Obama to declare an end to his shitty little war and bring the troops home.
The Commission on Wartime Contracting concluded that the use of hired hands has become a “default option,” pointing to the estimated $177 billion spent since 2001 on contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to a draft of the report expected to be released Thursday. Yet vigorous oversight and management of contractors by the Pentagon, State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development is too often “an administrative after-thought,” the report said.
The bipartisan commission is urging Congress to provide the agencies with more people and authority to control this industrial army, which at times has nearly equaled the size of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Christine O'Donnell to bewitch us on Dancing With The Stars?
Texas Rangers (the cops) looking for anarchist group
From the Dept. of Wishful Thinking
"We must break up the largest banks, and could do so by expanding the Volcker Rule and significantly narrowing the scope of institutions that are now more powerful and more of a threat to our capitalistic system than prior to the crisis," Hoenig told a meeting of the Women in Housing and Finance.The only people who don't agree with him are the ones who make the rules.
Hoenig called for "Glass Steagall-type" provisions that would no longer allow commercial banks to engage in the riskier activities normally confined to the investment sector.
We must make sure that large financial organizations are not in position to hold the U.S. economy hostage.
Will Stephen go to Wisconsin?
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|A Less Perfect Union|
Jezz Louise! It took him long enough
President Obama has determined that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, and that the Department of Justice should no longer defend the measure, which severely limits the potential of states to honor or carry out same-sex marriages, in court, the administration announced Wednesday.Not the fastest horse in the race, is he? I am guessing this is put out as a reason to give Barry another term in office. If we wait long enough he might figure out that George W Cheney and the others are guilty of using torture.
"The President believes that DOMA is unconstitutional. They are no longer going to be defending the cases in the 1st and 2nd circuits," a person briefed on the decision said, according to the National Journal.
Eat your liver, Andy Breitfart!
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Tuesday Night Toons
Gov. Hosni Walker taking a page from his hero
According to pro-labor protesters in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker (R) may be taking a page from former Egyptian Dictator Hosni Mubarak and cutting off internet access to key protest organizers within the state Capitol building.No one expects Republicans to be smart, they hire people for that. But you might think that one Hosni would have noticed how well it didn't work for the other Hosni. What next? An assault by hired Wackenhut thugs shooting flaming vodka from their buttholes?
If you are in the Capitol attempting to access the internet from a free wifi connection labeled “guest,” you cannot access the site defendwisconsin.org. The site has been used to provide updates on what is happening, where you can volunteer, and where supplies and goods are needed to support protesters. Administrators of the website were notified on Monday that the page is being blocked. Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate says that the site was put on a blacklist typically used to filter out pornography sites so that protestors inside the Capitol could not access this key site.
Former Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Charles Hoornstra said that, if Walker is blocking the website, it could be a violation of state and federal laws concerning free speech laws. The accusation by the Wisconsin Democratic Party accompanies an accusation by the Teaching Assistants Association that Wisconsin state authorities cut off wifi access to a room they had taken over as a headquarters inside of the Capitol.
Likewise, the Teacher Assistants Associations (TAA), which has been coordinating the various cleaning and food operations of the protesters occupying it, has been allowed to occupy room 300NE in the Capitol as their headquarters or situation room. They have used this room to help coordinate protests within the Capitol. Up until today, they had been able to arrange a special high speed Wifi so they could work their coordinating.
Yesterday, however, the Wifi connection mysteriously ended and it’s not clear exactly why.
Four hostages killed
Four Americans taken hostage after their yacht was hijacked by Somali pirates off the Horn of Africa last week were killed early Tuesday when gunfire erupted during attempts by the United States Navy to negotiate with their captors, American military officials said.
Thirteen pirates were taken into American military custody and two were killed during the confrontation; the military offered slightly different accounts of events that led to their deaths. Two other pirates were found dead on the yacht, apparently killed by fellow pirates, and two more were negotiating aboard a nearby Navy ship.
BoBo Brooks misses the point, again.
First we support a criminal mob
To the shock of President Hamid Karzai's aides, Gen. David H. Petraeus suggested Sunday at the presidential palace that Afghans caught up in a coalition attack in northeastern Afghanistan might have burned their own children to exaggerate claims of civilian casualties, according to two participants at the meeting.Winning the hearts and minds of the people, one foot in mouth at a time.
The exact language Petraeus used in the closed-door session is not known, and neither is the precise message he meant to convey. But his remarks about the deadly U.S. military operation in Konar province were deemed deeply offensive by some in the room. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private discussions.
They said Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, dismissed allegations by Karzai's office and the provincial governor that civilians were killed and said residents had invented stories, or even injured their children, to pin the blame on U.S. forces and force an end to the operation.
Take the bastards down!
Hear the song.
Dissension in the ranks of the Taliban
The differences point not just to the increasing stresses on the battlefield for midlevel Taliban commanders like him, but also to the difficulty of ending the insurgency as long as the Taliban’s top leadership has sanctuary in Pakistan, which has long protected and sponsored the Taliban.An opportunity to divide and conguer the Taliban, perhaps? Not really, because when all is said and done.
Secure across the border, and tightly controlled by Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies, the top Taliban leadership remains uncompromising. At the urging of their protectors in Pakistan, Taliban members say, they continue to push midlevel Taliban commanders back across the border to carry on the insurgency, which extends Pakistan’s influence in southern Afghanistan.
The midlevel commanders have little choice but to comply, as they also depend on sanctuaries in Pakistan, where they maintain their families, say residents in Kandahar who know the Taliban well. The Taliban commander said in his interview that the field commanders would obey their orders to resume the fight, however reluctant they might be.
“We are tired of fighting and we say this among ourselves. But this is our vow, not to leave our country to foreigners.”...Who among the Karzai Boys mob would say and believe something like that?
In the end the Taliban would return to their own land, he said. “This is our country, these are our people, and we have only to retreat and wait and use other tactics.”
Monday, February 21, 2011
A sampling of despair
A 46-year-old teacher in Charlotte, Vt., who has been unable to find a full-time job and is weighed down with debt, wrote to his U.S. senator, Bernie Sanders:They are paying the price for the failure of others. And the Republican/Teabaggers want them to pay more.
“I am financially ruined. I find myself depressed and demoralized and my confidence is shattered. Worst of all, as I hear more and more talk about deficit reduction and further layoffs, I have the agonizing feeling that the worst may not be behind us.”
Similar stories of hardship and desolation can be found throughout Vermont and the rest of the nation. The true extent of the economic devastation, and the enormous size of that portion of the population that is being left behind, has not yet been properly acknowledged. What is being allowed to happen to those being pushed out or left out of the American mainstream is the most important and potentially most dangerous issue facing the country...
One of the things I noticed reading through the letters was the pervasive sense of loss, not just of employment, but of faith in the soundness and possibilities of America. For centuries, Americans have been nothing if not optimistic. But now there is a terrible sense that so much that was taken for granted during the past six or seven decades is being dismantled or destroyed.
New week, new music
This saves me 1000 words
Not exactly loaves and fishes
But the continuing saga of Ian's Pizza in Madison Wis. and the generosity of people around the country and the world in support of the Americans protesting the fascism of notorious Koch head and Gov. Hosni Walker is a joy to behold. If you want to buy a pie for the good guys, The Great Orange Stan has more details.
Recall Republicans in Wisconsin
The eight Republicans who can be recalled right now are:If one of these people is your state senator, call the local Democratic Party office to find out where you can sign a petition.
* Robert Cowles
* Alberta Darling
* Sheila Harsdorf
* Luther Olsen
* Randy Hopper
* Glenn Grothman
* Mary Lazich
* Dan Kapanke
When next January rolls around, a little over 500,000 petition signatures will be necessary to trigger a recall election for Gov. Walker.
Find other resources here.
100 years ago
In the Cemetery of the Evergreens on the border of Brooklyn and Queens, there is a haunting stone monument to the garment workers who died in the Triangle shirtwaist factory fire of 1911 but were never identified. It contains the bas-relief figure of a kneeling woman, her head bowed, seemingly mourning not only the deaths, but also the fact that those buried below were so badly charred that relatives could not recognize them.And now, 100 years later, unions are fighting for their lives because people don't believe they are needed. Because people don't believe that the Koch Brothers could look at 146 dead employees in this day and age and just see another cost of business.
Almost a century after the fire, the five women and one man, all buried in coffins under the Evergreens monument, remained unknown to the public at large, though relatives and descendants knew that a loved one had never returned from the burning blouse factory.
Now those six have been identified, largely through the persistence of a researcher, Michael Hirsch, who became obsessed with learning all he could about the victims after he discovered that one of those killed, Lizzie Adler, a 24-year-old greenhorn from Romania, had lived on his block in the East Village.
And so, for the first time, at the centennial commemoration of the fire on March 25 outside the building in Greenwich Village where the Triangle Waist Company occupied the eighth, ninth and 10th floors, the names of all 146 dead will finally be read.
Bring them home
Krugman on Wisconsin
So it’s not about the budget; it’s about the power.Anyone with a true sense of history can see that what is happening in Madison, Wisconsin is our modern day Battle of Concord Bridge.
In principle, every American citizen has an equal say in our political process. In practice, of course, some of us are more equal than others. Billionaires can field armies of lobbyists; they can finance think tanks that put the desired spin on policy issues; they can funnel cash to politicians with sympathetic views (as the Koch brothers did in the case of Mr. Walker). On paper, we’re a one-person-one-vote nation; in reality, we’re more than a bit of an oligarchy, in which a handful of wealthy people dominate.
Given this reality, it’s important to have institutions that can act as counterweights to the power of big money. And unions are among the most important of these institutions.
You don’t have to love unions, you don’t have to believe that their policy positions are always right, to recognize that they’re among the few influential players in our political system representing the interests of middle- and working-class Americans, as opposed to the wealthy. Indeed, if America has become more oligarchic and less democratic over the last 30 years — which it has — that’s to an important extent due to the decline of private-sector unions.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Quote of the Day
True, the unemployment rate is above 9 per cent, but that means 91 per cent of Americans are working.Jeffrey Simpson, a Canadian columnist who has trouble believing that the US likes being crazy.
Bill Maher takes on the Confederacy
Career counseling you won't get at the Unemployment office
Did somebody say America was having a hard time getting back to work after the financial crisis and ensuing recession? Forget the dopey career counselors who are coaching you to earn a new degree. There’s a job sector poised to enter a new golden age, and it doesn’t even require a high school diploma. So all you aspiring millionaires had better listen up.Ms. Antilla gives ten very good reasons why this is sound advice.
“This is a perfect time if you want to be a crook,” says Joseph Borg, the 16-year veteran securities regulator who runs the Alabama Securities Commission. Borg, who has seen his share of creepy wrongdoers, doesn’t mean just any kind of crook, of course. He’s talking about lawbreakers who sweet-talk investors out of their money with everything from misleading products and promises to bogus tax shelters, real estate pools and Ponzi schemes.
Why now? Because everything is going right for you if you’re in the business of cheating investors, that’s why.
Why condoms should be flavored
Here's a crucial message for teens: Oral sex carries many of the same risks as vaginal sex, including human papilloma virus, or HPV. And HPV may now be overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of oral cancers in America in people under age 50.To whoever wrote this article, you can suck on a latex flavored one. In the interest of safety first, the rest of us would probably like a peppermint or a strawberry or, dare I say it, a banana flavored condom.
"Adolescents don’t think oral sex is something to worry about," said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. "They view it as a way to have intimacy without having 'sex.'"
Halpern-Felsher and other researchers presented the latest information about the risks of contracting an HPV infection Sunday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting.
The latest data suggest that 64% of oropharynx cancers - growing in the middle part of the throat - in the United States are caused by HPV, which is more than tobacco causes, said Maura Gillison of Ohio State University. And as the number of partners on whom you have performed oral sex goes up, the risk of oropharnyx cancer goes up.
Juan Cole debunks 5 myths about the Middle East
Pirates seized yacht full of bibles
The Adams — who are members of the Marina del Rey Yacht Club in Marina del Rey, Calif. — run a Bible ministry, according to their website, and have been distributing Bibles to schools and churches in remote villages in areas including the Fiji Islands, Alaska, New Zealand, Central America and French Polynesia.So there is no reason to ransom these good folks, after years of handing bibles to people whose main reaction has been, oh goody toilet paper!, they can now achieve their own release by converting the heathens. It is their good fortune not to have been captured by hardcore heathens.
The pirates from Puntland in northern Somalia are not hardline Islamists and the fact the Adams carry Bibles is not likely to be a problem. Pirates in Puntland are known to spend their ransom spoils on alcohol, drugs and prostitutes.Then again this may have a "Ransom of Red Chief" ending.
Meanwhile, down on the farm
Why do governments classify material as secret?
A onetime biomedical technician with a penchant for gambling, Mr. Montgomery is at the center of a tale that features terrorism scares, secret White House briefings, backing from prominent Republicans, backdoor deal-making and fantastic-sounding computer technology."In for a penny, in for a pound." Or as the modern world sees it, when you make a mistake, it is easier to make more mistakes with the cover up than to admit the mistake.
Interviews with more than two dozen current and former officials and business associates and a review of documents show that Mr. Montgomery and his associates received more than $20 million in government contracts by claiming that software he had developed could help stop Al Qaeda’s next attack on the United States. But the technology appears to have been a hoax, and a series of government agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency and the Air Force, repeatedly missed the warning signs, the records and interviews show.
Mr. Montgomery’s former lawyer, Michael Flynn — who now describes Mr. Montgomery as a “con man” — says he believes that the administration has been shutting off scrutiny of Mr. Montgomery’s business for fear of revealing that the government has been duped.
“The Justice Department is trying to cover this up,” Mr. Flynn said. “If this unravels, all of the evidence, all of the phony terror alerts and all the embarrassment comes up publicly, too. The government knew this technology was bogus, but these guys got paid millions for it.”
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