Saturday, February 7, 2009

Pitchforks & Torches (UPDATED)

guest posted by Armadillo Joe

I know that Obama has an army of monied interests ranged against him and against the implementation of the ideals of the people who've come to power in his wake and that limits all of their options. I know that everything can't magically change overnight. I know times of epochal change like the one we're living through right now are usually frought with violent and bloody back and forth before the new age becomes evident and the old guard fades into oblivion or dies off. I know all of that, but depending on which side of an historical conflict a society plants its flag and deploys its resources, the resolution of the conflict can and usually does mean the end of one civilization's hegemony for ascension of its opposition.

OK, time to stop being vague.

The history of human conflict has always been about the clash between the haves and the have-nots. This conflict is scalable and operates at every level from the micro to the macro from interpersonal to international from the beginning of time to right now, from two cave-men duking it out fireside over a leg of mammoth meat or a beautiful, curvy cave-girl all the way up to our invasion of Iraq to sieze control of their oil fields. In recent centuries, we've come to describe this conflict in terms of left and right, liberal and conservative, blue and red or what have you. But the conflict is always the same. It is always between those who want to restrict citizenship (i.e. - power and wealth, meaning agency over one's own fortunes) and those who want to expand citizenship to the masses (i.e. - "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal...", itself imperfect, or "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need").

And right now, I think Obama and company's fetishization of bi-partisanship puts him on the wrong side of history.

The last eight years have been the culmination of a decades-long program of willful destruction of the mechanisms of equality by the wealthy ruling class of this country. From 1776 forward, they were never really on board with that whole "democracy" thing anyway and only tolerated it to the extent that it was good for their personal fortunes. In flush times, the more prosperous the non-rich became, the more the ruling-class saw their power erode because -- unlike wealth, which can expand for the benefit of all people in a society -- the question of who wields power in any society is truly a zero-sum proposition: winning means someone else has to lose, because we can't all have everything we want all the time.

By the time ruling class' on-again/off-again program for total domination of the American economy had again failed more spectacularly than ever seen before in the 1930's, their power was probably at its lowest point in human history. That is why FDR was so often called a traitor to his class, because he could see the grand sweep of history and knew his breed were not unlike dinosaurs. Ever-expanding material wealth and the power it accrues cannot be limited to the priviledged few forever, just ask the Romanoffs. Afterall, royalty is just wealth so old nobody remembers the crimes that built the fortune.

But FDR's correcting of the societal tally sheet couldn't be allowed to stand by the wealthy families who had to surrender power, fancying themselves as they did as a kind of unaccountable American royalty (again, bad plan - just ask the Romanoffs). If FDR's New Deal hadn't been responsible for the widespread middle-class prosperity that followed our victory in World War 2, we might have seen a return to a kind of corporate feudalism much, much sooner. Afterall, the ruling class did try to oust Roosevelt-the-Traitor in a coup, including 43's grandpappy (he was never punished, obviously). So, instead of a swift and merciless overthrowing of the lefties, our country's ruling class had to take their time. Decades, in fact. Through Nixon's Southern Strategy and Saint Ronnie of the Ray-Gun's "Revolution" and the impeachment of a popular president for a blowjob and the theft of an election (or two) and, most of all, the selling-off of America's vast resources -- natural, industrial, human -- have been the preferred modes, means and methods of buoying the wealth at the top end while eroding the buying power of everyone else.

It almost completely worked. They were almost done. And then the bottom fell out of their plans this last September, before they could snatch another election.

They had to do something, and fast, before anyone could figure out what was happening.

From day one, the TARP was obviously a massive, last-ditch smash-and-grab for all the shit that hadn't already been gutted from Treasury (part of that "starving the public sphere for the sake of the private" thing I wrote about yesterday) and I said so at the time on my old blog:

The bailout, which is SOOOO last week I know, is (as Mr. Sideshow wrote a couple of weeks ago), long before Hank "The Donald Rumsfeld of Economics" Paulson's "Give-Me-All-The-Money-And-Don't-Fucking-Ask-Me-Any-Questions-Or-The-Economy-Gets-It" three-page plan was scuttled in The House - the People's Chamber - by the "Tru-Believers" in the Rethugli-bot coalition (before being rescued by The Senate - The Plutocrat's Chamber) because - weaned on the poison milk of the Reagan Revolution as they are - they never understood that all that free-market rhetoric was just so much malarky spread by the Ruling Class to get their signature pet policies package-dealt with all those the Culture War rostrums that get the shrieking wingnut brigades nice and agitated for the end result of election victories that translate via Abramoff and Delay and the like into more money in the pockets of the Monied Class.

Now, Obama's Money Boy -- Tim Geithner -- and all the other "serious" people who got us into this mess in the first place but somehow merited a job in the new administration anyway (bi-partisanship, I guess) have decided to go ahead and give away the rest of the money anyway with no additional strings or oversight, because why would we want to demand accountability from the Wall Street Masters of the Universe who got filthy, stinking rich putting the rest of us in this mess in the first place?

From the New York Times online:

The new financial industry rescue plan, to be outlined in broad terms on Monday in a speech by the Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, will not require banks to increase their lending. That is despite criticism that institutions that already received money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, either hoarded it or used the funds to acquire other banks.

The incentives to investors could be in the form of commitments to absorb some of the losses from any assets they purchase, should their values continue to decline. The goal is to relieve the banks of their worst assets so that private investors might then provide more capital.

And I agree with David Sirota's assessment of that cozy arrangement: a nutshell, banks get more taxpayer cash, but taxpayers will not force the banks to lend more, nor will taxpayers have the leverage to throw out the economy-destroying management of the banks that we now own. Instead, our money will be used to ensure that huge private investors that put money into those banks don't lose any money on their risk.


Taxpayer money is being handed over to the Manhattan millionaires who created this crisis, and we get absolutely nothing in return - not even the illusion of anything, really.


They've turned this moment of political change and economic meltdown into an opportunity to distill kleptocracy into its most pure form.

I will make this prediction: No one responsible for this mess will every suffer any punishment. Ever.

Now prove me wrong.

Just like I'd like to be proved wrong about punishment for the lies about WMD in Iraq, Justice Department corruption and torture. I won't hold my breath.

UPDATE (2/8/09 12:30pm):

In the comments, Michael says:
I think you have seriously missed here. Obama cannot simultaneously be the good guy you imply in your first paragraph, and then do all the things you say in the rest of the article. It's time to face the music: the reason the administration is filled with the thugs who ruined things and continue to do so is because they are the people Obama supports and hires. Blaming bipartisanship is bullshit. He had choices, and he made them. He's not a good guy; he's one of them. It's bait and switch, yet again.
And I take his critique to heart. He's right, Obama cannot be both the crusader for good in the first paragraph and the typically-corrupt Washington politician in the remainder at the same time.

My writing was unclear.

Now, I have been called out before for making a claim just like Michael's ("Meet the new boss, same as the old boss") -- by the proprietor of this website, as a matter of fact -- back over at my old place, so I am not unfamiliar with feeling like Obama could prove to be part of the same hypocrisy. With that said, though, I want to clarify my train of thought in building the above post.

I believe Obama is fundamentally a good man, well-intentioned with the sort of strong moral compass that grows from seeing real human suffering up close and personal (something most of our monied class has no idea about). I also believe that Obama is a wily politician with a finely-tuned social radar from growing up never fully belonging to any one social group (being mixed-race when America was ripping itself apart over racial issues) and the same chameleon-like ease of movement one learns when moving up through the Ivy Leagues and on into the corridors of power from the lowest of the lower classes in this country. Bill Clinton, going from poor, fatherless Arkansas white-trash to President of the United States, had the same skill-set for many of the same reasons.

In many ways, Obama's background makes him the anti-Nixon. Nixon also grew up poor, but his class-consciousness didn't broaden his horizons and open his heart to human suffering, instead it rotted his soul, made him bitter about his upbringing and ultimately gave this nation the myriad petty and high crimes of his administration, derived as they were from the paranoia of a fundamentally sick, wicked man, surrounded by cronies equally twisted.

Obama sees the precipice this nation has either gone over or is about to, I feel certain, but I fear his inclusion of so many of the guilty parties in the effort to fix our condition comes not from corruption as much from naivete, trust and hopefulness. But it may be too late. The glorification of greed and acquisitiveness in the English-speaking world since Saints Maggie and Ronnie clawed their way into power three decades ago means that now "the lack of scruples in America and Britain has gone beyond the tipping point, and is going to exact high societal costs. The parasites are eating the host." (H/T C&L)

I am not confident that Obama can do much about our problems without some widespread suffering pulling down the forces that got us here, and those forces have money and the instruments of governmental power to protect them. We need us some good old-fashioned, people-powered populist politics to force out the kind of comfortable corruption that has become the norm in Washington D.C., which Obama must tolerate to get anything done. I think he is very much the outsider still. It remains to be seen whether or not he'll be frozen out by the permanent social classes of Washington the way "Billary" was 15 years ago. The way the Senate bill went down this week at the hands of a few squishy-centrists is but a small window into the smug self-righteousness that is the true heart of the "bi-partisanship" he fetishizes (along with the rest of the D.C. Villagers) and I hope the ugliness of what happened in the Plutocrats' Chamber will be a lesson to him and his people about what actual bi-partisanship actually means.

That's what I meant by pitchforks and torches in the title. I believe he can lead us out of this morass, but we the people must make him do it, even as our ruling classes scream and howl at the injustice of it all. Frank Rich writes about this exact topic today.

Obama can lead us, if we call him to it.

Douchebags of the Week: It's a TIE!

I never thought it would come to this, but there I was thinking about who I would win Blog-O-Mania's Douchebag of the Week honors. And contrary to popular belief, this is a dubious honor.

Being that the recovery bill in the Senate was debated over for days, there were many douchebags to choose from this week, but finally someone emerged from the pack. As I was about to make my selection, I received further news of immense douchebaggery that could not go without notice. So I have decided to call this one a tie between Senator John Thune (R-SD) and Congressman Peter Hoekstra (R-MI).

Senator John Thune wanted to give us an explanation of how much $1 Trillion actually is. Not in a mathematical sense, but in a physical sense. He spent a good two minutes of what was probably a 3 to 5 minute time frame on the floor of the Senate, complete with graphic charts and an easel paid for by you and me, Mr. & Mrs. American Taxpayer, to illustrate his point.

I have another one for Senator Thune. Senator, if the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority were to transport $1 trillion in Lockheed C-130 Hercules Military airlift planes to Iraq in $12 billion shipments, plastic wrapped on pallets, it would take 36,893 planes. If you lined up those planes nose to tail, they would stretch the length of 13,773 football fields. Since Senator Thune likes to use nonsensical illustrations to prove nothing, I thought I'd hand him another.

As if that douchebag weren't enough, we have Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) who thought is was a great idea to Twitter the whereabouts of he and his fellow congressmen during a secret trip to Baghdad, complete with updates every few hours. This is the same Peter Hoekstra who is a ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, you know, the people who are the gatekeepers of our nation's deepest secrets, those who are protecting us from the evildoers. But publicly divulging information of a clandestine trip to the green zone in an unstable middle eastern country putting himself, his delegation and our state secrets in danger seemed like a hell of an idea.

Senator John Thune and Congressman Peter Hoekstra: Douchebags of the Week!

Must Reads

Obama's Weekly Address - Feb 7, 2009


Music Break! Paquito D'Rivera

Seresta/Samba For Carmen

Friday, February 6, 2009

Obama The Figurehead - The New GOP Talking Point

There's nothing like politicians from opposite sides working together for the good of the country to avoid economic disaster. And this is nothing like it.

Yesterday, we heard pissant Lindsey Graham accuse President Obama of being "AWOL" on this recovery bill. Yes, the same President Obama who invited leaders of both the Democratic and Republican parties to the White House to talk about the stimulus bill; the same President Obama who personally met with House Republicans and Senate Republicans a week ago; the same President Obama who hosted a White House cocktail party and invited leaders of both parties to attend to discuss the recovery bill; the same President Obama that had a Super Bowl party (that McCain refused to attend) to discuss the stimulus; the same President Obama who called individual Senators to speak about the stimulus. That President Obama is now being called AWOL in the eyes of obstructionist Lindsey Graham.

It now seems that this was the opening salvo in the GOP propaganda powder room. Newt "Contract On America" Gingrich was on the Today Show this morning and said, "Why isn't he calling bipartisan leadership meetings in the White House to work out the details instead of making partisan speeches in front of a partisan audience attacking the people whose votes he's gonna need?" Yeah, Gingrich said that. I suppose Newt Gingrich was either AWOL or in a coma these past two weeks. And the irony of the "partisan speech in front of a partisan audience" line really made me laugh out loud.

Steve Thomma fell for it hook, line and sinker. Being interviewed by Nora O'Donnell this morning, the McClatchy reporter's response to Gingrich's statement was, "He's met with them, had lunch with them...we don't know if he's negotiated." Does Thomma think that Obama would have lunch with these idiots for the pleasure of it?

Thomma goes on to say that he doesn't know if Obama is "hands on" or if he's a "big picture -chairman of the board type" like Reagan was. Where did he get this opinion? At a luncheon with... Newt Gingrich. He continued with the GOP talking points about Obama needing to compromise and take spending out of the bill in favor of more balance between spending and tax cuts to gain Republican support. I guess Thomma was on vacation for the last two weeks as well.... or maybe sitting at another GOP luncheon.

So look for the new Republican talking point. Obama is just a figurehead who is AWOL when it comes to negotiating the specifics in the recovery bill. Because we all know it's more important to invent talking points and obstruct than it is to actually help the hundreds of thousand of Americans losing their jobs every month.


guest-posted by Armadillo Joe

Make no mistake, the GOP is fiddling like mad while our nation's economy burns because complete economic collapse is the only thing they can hope for to revive their political fortunes. That's why Huckleberry Graham threw so many public hissy-fits yesterday: his party is staring down the barrel of historical irrelevance at best, perhaps even utter oblivion and Hooverian infamy, because "I got mine" or "Every man for himself -- and me first" is not a method of governance -- it's anarchy.

Which is what they want. Or at least the ruling class and money-soaked leaders of the GOP want. All the drooling Jesus-freaks, Antebellum race-warriors, various hayseed Nazis and assorted other gun-toting toothless goobers, quivering terror-alert mediocracies in the suburbs and all those cheeto-stained wingnut bloggers in their mom's basements are merely tolerated because the plutocrats at the top of the economic food-chain have to at least appear to win elections in our so-called "democracy." They would be perfectly happy to have America turn into a feudal corporatocracy, ensconced as they are in their gated communities with private security firms manning the perimeter. They have been starving the public sphere for the sake of the private sphere for decades to achieve precisely that end. If government can be showed to be a failure, making everything ugly and crumbling, government itself can be blamed and its power contracted accordingly.

Their current hyperventilating about the grass-repair provisions for the National Mall in the recovery bill is Exhibit A. All it will do is make our nation's capital prettier and employ a bunch of people in the process, so I guess we can't have that.

What we need right now is socialism, a lot of it and for a long time. Our last and only real extended period of Unvarnished American Socialism of 70 years ago is what made us a modern industrial nation in the 20th Century. Watch this slideshow to see what I mean.

If this bill passes and our country actually recovers, the GOP as we understand it now will cease to exist. That is only a good thing with no downside whatsoever for anyone who matters. I'm tired of having to pretend for the sake of "bi-partisanship" that bad-faith greed-mongers are worthy partners in debate. As John Cole said this week:
Imagine trying to negotiate an agreement on dinner plans with your date, and you suggest Italian and she states her preference would be a meal of tire rims and anthrax. If you can figure out a way to split the difference there and find a meal you will both enjoy, you can probably figure out how bipartisanship is going to work the next few years.

So, Dems -- for the sake of all that is holy and righteous and good -- for this bill you must now fight, fight, fight, fight, fight FIGHT!

This Is What We've Been Waiting For!

There have been grumblings from the liberal blogosphere that in the interest of bipartisanship, President Obama is blowing it on the recovery bill. Yeah, he said, "We won" when some GOP lackey decided to try and push his 90 lb. weakling weight around and Obama stomped him, but for the most part, the same people who cried, "Oh Noes!" when they thought Obama was blowing it on the campaign trail are now biting their nails on the ruined opportunity of the recovery package.

And then we get this from President O-BAM!-A:

We're not going to get relief by turning back to the very same policies that in eight short years doubled the national debt and threw our economy into a tailspin. We can't embrace the losing formula that offers more tax cuts as the only answer to every problem we face, while ignoring critical challenges like our addiction to foreign oil, the soaring cost of health care, failing schools and crumbling bridges, roads and levees. I don't care whether you're driving a hybrid or an SUV - if you're headed for a cliff, you have to change direction. get the argument that, well, this is not a stimulus bill -- this is a spending bill. What do you think a stimulus is? That's the whole point!

Finally, this is the Barack Obama that we were waiting for; the one who is going to try and work together with his rivals but one that will not be bullied. Someone who knows that the definition of bipartisanship is not capitulation. (I say "finally" but it's only been 16 days. Talk about being conditioned for the need of immediate gratification!)

I'm hoping to get the video up soon but for now, here is the C-Span video of the full 21 minute speech.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Andy Card Douchebag Update

Earlier this week I named former Bush White House Chief of Staff Andy Card Douchebag of the Week for flipping out over the non story of Obama not wearing a jacket 24/7 while actually in his Oval Office.

It's almost a week later and he's still bitching about it... on Inside Edition no less.

Someone should remind Card of this little snapshot.

That would be former CIA Director George Tenet, probably in the act of imploring the freaks in the Oval Office to reconsider their plans for world domination with Step One being Iraq, before he was sucked into the dark side and decided it was a slam dunk. That's Card on the right.

It's obvious Tenet's credibility was found wanting because he wasn't wearing a jacket.

This just in: Andrew Card is still a douchebag.

(H/T Lee Stranahan & Political Carnival)

UPDATE (2/6/09 12:10am): Time for Andrew Card to shut the fuck up.

(H/T HuffPo)

Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg Treated For Pancreatic Cancer

Huffington Post: The court said the 75-year-old Ginsburg had the surgery Thursday at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. She will remain in the hospital for seven to 10 days, said her surgeon. Dr. Murray Brennan. This was according to a release issued by the court.

Obama Fights Back - Washington Post Editorial

This is something we're not used to seeing from Presidents. I can't remember if President Bush wrote anything, speeches, editorials, a book report on "My Pet Goat"?

President Barack Obama took his pen to paper and wrote an editorial regarding the economic struggle that we find ourselves in and the urgency of passing the Economic Recovery Bill currently in the Senate in the Washington Post today.

In recent days, there have been misguided criticisms of this plan that echo the failed theories that helped lead us into this crisis -- the notion that tax cuts alone will solve all our problems; that we can meet our enormous tests with half-steps and piecemeal measures; that we can ignore fundamental challenges such as energy independence and the high cost of health care and still expect our economy and our country to thrive.

I reject these theories, and so did the American people when they went to the polls in November and voted resoundingly for change. They know that we have tried it those ways for too long. And because we have, our health-care costs still rise faster than inflation. Our dependence on foreign oil still threatens our economy and our security. Our children still study in schools that put them at a disadvantage. We've seen the tragic consequences when our bridges crumble and our levees fail.
Now, some will say that this is beneath the President. Why is he writing editorials in the Washington Post? The answer is because he can. I don't know if it's my perception or if the media is following Obama with a fine tooth comb, but I don't ever recall any President having or maybe wanting this much media access to bring his message directly to the American people. There he was on all the nightly newscasts answering for the Daschle withdrawal. Have you ever seen anything like it? With this President the words, "The buck stops here," isn't just a funny little catchphrase. He actually means it.

Some will suggest that the editorial sounds like fearmongering. I vehemently disagree. The President's editorial isn't fearmongering if there is truth to it. There are no false qualifiers here, no deception, no lies to persuade. We are in deep, deep trouble and every day we wait it gets worse. There is no falsehood to that. There's a difference between laying out the dire circumstances for all to see and fearmonging to scare up votes by saying something like, "...if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we'll get hit again and we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States." See the difference?

I also disagree with those who think that President Obama didn't have to send this message. So far, this recovery bill has been based on the framing of the argument. The Republicans have framed the debate on this bill as "pork laden." Rush Limbaugh calls it "porkulus" in front of 14 million weekly listeners. (And he certainly know something about porkulus.) The GOP has capitalized and zeroed in on a fraction of one percent of the recovery bill for their political advantage and framed the entire bill it as a pork laden wish list. They public thinks it looks like pork because the Democrats are sitting back while the Republicans, with the blatant or inadvertent help of the media, are framing it as wasteful spending. And if the public gets that perception, then that's what they'll believe because the media is never wrong. Where is the rebuttal from Democratic leaders explaining why these measures are in the bill?

$200 million for Medicaid on contraception will save $60 billion in government medical costs in the future. Sounds like a good investment. $21 million for the National Mall will put arguably thousands to work to repair the crumbling foundations of our national monuments. But the GOP calls this "$21 million for grass." The list goes on and on, and instead of the Democratic leaders rebutting these ridiculous pork notions, they are either nervously wringing their hands in silence or aren't getting the air time to rebut. The only Congressman I saw defending contraception was Robert Wexler (D-FL), who explained it rationally and logically on Hardball with Chris Matthews. And when he was done, he still got a "I don't understand what you're talking about," from an obtuse Phil Gingrey, the same Congressman who's apologized to Rush Limbaugh for his brief moment of clarity.

Maybe the President did make one mistake. In the interest of bipartisanship, President Obama compromised too much; he backed off to a fault with initial GOP resistance and it was perceived as a validation of Republican complaints. But what happened? After he accommodated them, House Republicans rejected the bill anyway. And the more it went on, the more we saw the political endgame that they would have rejected it no matter what the President did just to send a message.

Well, now it's the President's turn to send a message. It's the Democratic leaders' turn to send a message and make the obstructionists decide that if they really want to fight this thing, they're going to have to filibuster for it. No pansy ass cloture votes. Make them filibuster.

The only mistake the President made regarding the Washington Post editorial was not going far enough. This was a statement that needed to be made on prime time television in front of a national audience.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Fuck You, Dick Cheney!

I am so tired of this fucking asshole! Shut your goddamn cakehole and have a heart attack so wrenching that your eyes explode out of your fucking skull!

Dick Fucking Cheney had the temerity to warn of the high probability of terror attacks especially in light of Obama's crazy hair-brained idea of preserving, protecting and defending the Constitution.

"When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an Al Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry,” Cheney said.
Say what now? You know, for once I agree with you, only in the sense that I hope when you attempt to do some travelling, you are denied your rights when they cart you away to the Hague, you fucking war criminal, and you can sit and rot in a goddamn jail cell while no one bothers to give you the right to a fair and speedy trial.

Citing intelligence reports, Cheney said at least 61 of the inmates who were released from Guantanamo during the Bush administration — “that’s about 11 or 12 percent” — have “gone back into the business of being terrorists.”

And why did you let them go, dipshit? Could it be because you didn't have any evidence against them when you decided to round up all the brown people that made you wet your bed after waking up in cold sweats from all the nightmares of letting the American people down the first time, you cowering pussy? Wait, what am I thinking? You'd have to have a fucking conscience to have that reaction. You just did it because it pleases you, just like it pleases you to jack off to Abu Ghraib videos while drinking infant's blood. Or is that Bush's job, the jacking off? It's gotta be George because I'm sure it ain't Lynne.

Did you ever think that the 11 or 12 percent of the people that were released and have gone into the terror business did so because your actions made them terrorists, you fucking douchebag? Did you ever think that perhaps if you had done the legal thing and tried them in a Federal court with proper representation and not suspended habeas corpus, you might have a better conviction rate than the, what is it, three convictions you got in seven years?

“The United States needs to be not so much loved as it needs to be respected. Sometimes, that requires us to take actions that generate controversy. I’m not at all sure that that’s what the Obama administration believes.”
Well you've certainly fucked up the "love," that's for sure. And respect? RESPECT?! You think we're respected around the world? You flushed that down the fucking toilet when you lied us into a war and then went at it alone, you stupid motherfucker. Respect?! Don't make me laugh. You've made a mockery of this nation. If anything, at least we used to have some moral authority, some semblance of trustworthiness, a sense of what was right. Not anymore, fuckwad. That all flew out the window in November of 2000. Thanks a lot.

And what makes Politico think that interviewing this sorry piece of shit is anything this country wanted to hear? Weren't they there at the Inauguration? Didn't they see 2 million people in joyous celebration after holding their collective breath for two and a half months after Election Day, not only because Barack Obama was finally President, but because the reign of Bush and Cheney was finally over? That we finally emerged from the darkness?

So FUCK YOU, Dick Cheney, you stupid, arrogant sonofabitch. We were attacked under YOUR watch, and the last thing we want or need from you is advice on how to protect ourselves at the cost of our civil liberties. What the fuck are we fighting for if not to remain free?

You were, and apparently still are, more of a terrorist than Osama bin Laden or Al Qaeda ever were to this country. Your fearmongering did more to terrorize the citizens of this country than anything we got from Al Qaeda after 9/11. You did their job for them and gave them exactly what they wanted: for Americans to be fearful. "Terrorized," if you will, hence the name, you dirty bastard.

So take your advice and your fearmongering and shove it up your ass. Just wheel away and die already. I'd have an ice floe ready for you, but you ignored global warming as well, you decrepit, evil fuck.

Liberal Media's New Version of 'My Pet Goat'

Yesterday, President and Mrs. Obama stopped in on a class of second graders to visit and read a story and answer questions. Although the visit was planned, it was not announced.

The president and first lady Michelle Obama slipped out of the White House early Tuesday and visited second-graders at Capital City Public Charter School, a public school in D.C. "We were just tired of being in the White House," the president candidly told the students. "We got out! They let us out!" Mrs. Obama said as the kids and their teachers laughed. He and his wife read the students a book about the inspirational story of astronauts landing on the moon. He took a class photo, accepted hugs from the children, thanked them for pictures they made him, and even delivered them a couple of brown-paper bags full of books.
Our "liberal" media took the opportunity to make a comparison of this visit with the infamous 'My Pet Goat' Deer-in-the-Headlights - Run-For-Your-Lives debacle on the morning of September 11, 2001.

MSNBC's CONTESSA BREWER: Tamron, this was something of a flashback for many of us. As his nominee for Health Secretary was going down, the first couple paid a surprise visit to a DC charter school to read a book to children.
And Maureen Dowd of the 'liberal' New York Times, had this to say:

On 9/11, President Bush learned of disaster while reading “The Pet Goat” to grade-school kids. On Tuesday, President Obama escaped from disaster by reading “The Moon Over Star” to grade-school kids.
Are these bastions of liberal media, MSNBC and Maureen Dowd*, comparing Obama's visit as HHS nominee Tom Daschle withdrew his name from consideration to the madness of King George sitting in frozen terror for nine minutes while airliners kamikazied the World Trade Center's Twin Towers, the Pentagon and another went down in Pennsylvania?

Did Brewer just compare Tom Daschle "going down" to the airplanes going down? Or just the Towers? Did Dowd compare the 9/11 disaster that killed 3,000 Americans to Daschle's tax "disaster" and infer that Obama took off to a local school in order to avoid it? Even after he went on every major network to express his disappointment and anger but take responsibility for and apologize to the American people? (Something we never saw Bush do in eight long years.)

Boy, we certainly are lucky that we have a liberal media that has President Obama's back. Can you imagine if they were against him?

* That was Dowd's opening paragraph, and it didn't get much better after that.

(H/T Bob Cesca)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Posted Without Comment

guest-posted by Armadillo Joe

From White House press pool photographer Jason Reed, the following photograph (via Digby's Hullabaloo):

From another WH press photographer, Jim Bourg:
Bush finished his address to the nation, went back out through the doors, and the doors closed behind him and the national TV broadcast went off the air. And then after the live TV was off, the doors suddenly reopened, and he came back in to say goodbye to all the guests – his former cabinet members, his current cabinet members, Dick Cheney, his daughters, Laura and lots of other friends and supporters. He popped out that door, and when the door opened and he came through it, the look on his face was like no look I’d ever seen on George Bush’s face in my life.

They Picked A Winner!

After a series of votes, the Republican National Committee picked former Maryland lieutenant governor Michael Steele as their new GOP chairman. Well, it looks like they picked a real winner.

Steele: And first off the government doesn’t create jobs. Let’s get this notion out of our heads that the government creates jobs. Not in the history of mankind has the government ever created a job. Small business owners do, small enterprises do. Not the government. When the government contract runs out, that job goes away. That’s what we’re talking about here and those 2 to 4 million jobs that are projected? Won’t happen, trust me.

Hmmm... not in the history of mankind has the government ever created a job? That's a pretty broad statement.

I suppose Steele was a volunteer for his lieutenant gubernatorial service in Maryland. As well as his staff... as well as every other elected official and their staffs in government from dog catcher to President. Oh, and I didn't realize that the current 1.5 million active armed forces personnel weren't getting paid for their efforts.

Hey Mike, you mean to tell me we get our mail for free? Awesome! And the next time I walk past a beat cop I'm going to thank him for volunteering to risk his life every day just for the pleasure of it... and firefighters too. Hell, I knew the New York City transit system claimed they're in dire financial straits, but I didn't even realize they weren't paying their bus drivers and train conductors or engineers.

But I'm so glad they picked Michael Steele for his smarts and not because they're trying to show how much their party has changed by electing an African American to the position.

(H/T Think Progress)

Daschle Withdraws Name From HHS Nomination

NY Times: Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination on Tuesday as President Obama’s nominee to lead the Health and Human Services Department, a decision that came one day after Mr. Obama declared that he would stand behind Mr. Daschle as problems over unpaid taxes were scrutinized on Capitol Hill.

“I accept his decision with sadness and regret,” Mr. Obama said in a statement.
You can't have it both ways. Withdrawing over a tax problem (the second of President Obama's nominees) was the right thing for Daschle to do. But Obama and his administration was smart enough to know to accept the withdrawal for the good of future health care legislation as well as holding themselves to the higher standard that they themselves put in place.

As Press Secretary Robert Gibbs repeatedly said today, this administration has put higher transparency standards in place than any administration before it. Losing Daschle may be a blow to the health care agenda, but they are following their own standards.

Shea Goodbye

I've been meaning to stop by what's left of Shea Stadium to take some photos. I drive by Shea every couple of weeks or so while running errands and watch with sadness as the building turns to rubble and all that will be left are my memories. My initial idea was to photographically archive the dismantling with a week by week progression, but one never has time for such things.

Luckily, a friend stopped by to take some pictures last Saturday. It's almost all gone. The bulldozers and wrecking balls are doing their job. The remnants are scooped up and trucked away. Here are a couple of photos my friend sent of what's soon to be the Citi Field parking lot.

(Click for full size)

The Day the Music Died

guest-posted by Armadillo Joe

I went to college in Lubbock, Texas. Students call it "Buttock, Texas" and besides the accoutrement that every 20K+ student, large and sprawling university enjoys, it has little else going for it.

If you have heard of this pathetic burg at all, then you know that Buddy Holly and the Crickets came out of Lubbock in 1956. If you know that much, then you know that he died three years later with Richie Valens and The Big Bopper in a plane crash in Iowa.

Fifty years ago today.

A big "What If...?" always surrounds the death of someone so young, which is why they so often become icons -- James Dean, I'm looking at you -- and it is no different with Buddy Holly. Austin is the music hub of Texas today, and it was made that way by Willie Nelson rejecting Nashville's buttoned-up corporate music culture and Stevie Ray Vaughn's popularization of Texas Blues. Of all the iconic early rock-n-rollers, Holly was probably the most naturally gifted musician, so what if he had lived to come home to Lubbock? What if he had lived to mature as a musician, and what a musician he already was at the tender age of 20? What if?

But those are questions for the ages. Rather than do the cliched thing and re-print the lyrics of the famous Don McLean song (although it is a great song and me and it were "released" on the same day in 1971) I want to link this:

Monday, February 2, 2009

You're Welcome, America

Just got home from Will Ferrell's limited run on Broadway with his show, "You're Welcome America. A Final Night With George W. Bush."

I'm not going to attempt to review it (it opens Thursday and there will be enough of those) but I must say that I loved it and still have a headache from laughing so hard.

I certainly hope they plan on filming this show for a cable or DVD release.

UPDATE (12:22am): Thanks to commenter DCH for this info:

LIVE on HBO March 14th at 9pm.

Guess I spent $60 a ticket for nothing. Just kidding - it was pretty cool to see it live.

Morning Joke™ (The Madness Continues...)

This morning on Morning Joke™, Mika and her merry band of morons were poo-pooing the Obama recovery bill which Joe Scarborough categorized as "unprecedented, a total all-out socialist bill as I've ever seen in my life," and that it rewards those who don't make enough income to pay income tax, but still pay payroll taxes and sales tax for "doing absolutely nothing." The video on via Media Matters is ridiculously fearmongerish.

How is it that with such an intelligent person for a father, Mika Brzezinski so easily falls into the propaganda vomit vat that is Joe Scarborough's mouth?

One of the commenters on Cesca's thread, "GIthe Joe" now "GItheScholar," is an Iraq veteran and was livid about this particular issue. He ranted on his comment (and a good rant it was) but asked for help revising his comments in order to send to Morning Joke™. Seeing as I had nothing on my plate this afternoon, I thought I'd oblige. Here is the letter sent by GI the Scholar, with contributions from Carl of Broadway and information (and a paragraph or two) provided by Bob of the Cesca.

Dear Morning Joe Crew,

I am an American soldier. I have honorably served my country while being deployed to Iraq for two tours of duty. I, and the countless others like me, am eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit because 100% of my income while in a combat zone was non taxable income. The same is true for every soldier, Marine, and airperson that makes less than $88,000 of base pay in a combat zone.

I was extremely grateful to receive this tax credit. It felt like the government was helping me, honoring me for my service to this nation. But we are not the only "do nothing" workers that can benefit from the EITC.

According to the Brookings Institution, "Together, the EITC and ACTC [Additional Child Tax Credit] provided more than $51 billion to low-income workers in tax year 2005, acting as critical wage supplements for working poor families throughout the country. Proposals to expand and streamline these credits to help more working families across all types of communities—urban, suburban, and rural—deserve consideration from policymakers, practitioners, and researchers."

For two years during the presidential campaigns and primaries, all we heard from mainstream media and cable news were phrases like, "Why can't Obama close the deal with rural Americans?" and "Obama isn't 'one of us'." And now President Obama and the Democrats want to give the working poor a tax break and other forms of relief as outlined in the recovery bill, the very people the cable news pundits claimed with which he was "so out of touch."

In tax year 2005, the greatest number of EITC filers lived in the suburbs of large metropolitan areas. In the South and West, rural taxpayers were most likely to receive the EITC. These are the people most likely to need help, and most likely to spend the money to stimulate the economy. Here's another example: For every dollar invested in Food Stamps, the stimulus return is $1.73, but for every dollar in corporate tax cuts, you get a negative return of $0.30 on the dollar.

But we hear from the informed pundits like Mr. Scarborough and Mr. Buchanan that they would rather spend this money on tax breaks to corporations. Buchanan, point blank, asked John Podesta on the February 2nd edition of Morning Joe why "they can't give the $80 billion to corporate tax cuts."

Mr. Scarborough, you shamelessly categorized tax credits the working poor of this country, those who work the fast food registers or pump gas to try and survive week to week, as receiving money from the government for "doing absolutely nothing." But I suppose in your world, these are the plebians who have no name; they live only to serve you. In your world, while sitting behind your desk making a seven figure income may be "work" to you, dodging improvised explosive devices and small arms fire is far from "do nothing" work for me.

Perhaps thinking before opening your mouth would make for a better show.

Groundhog Day

According to Wikipedia:

"...The holiday, which began as a Pennsylvania German custom in southeastern and central Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries, has its origins in ancient European weather lore, wherein a badger or sacred bear is the prognosticator as opposed to a groundhog. The holiday also bears some similarities to the Christian holiday of the Presentation, or Candlemas, which takes place on the same date, the 40th day after Christmas (based on Luke 2:22 following), which has a number of light and darkness images in its observance. It also bears similarities to the Pagan festival of Imbolc, the seasonal turning point of the Celtic year, which is celebrated on February 1 and also involves weather prognostication.

...In western countries in the Northern Hemisphere the official first day of Spring is about six weeks after Groundhog Day, on March 20 or March 21. About 1,000 years ago, before the adoption of the Gregorian calendar when the date of the equinox drifted in the Julian calendar, the spring equinox fell on March 16 instead. This was exactly six weeks after February 2, assuming that the equinox marked the first day of spring in certain medieval cultures, as it does now in western countries, Groundhog Day occurred exactly six weeks before spring. Therefore, if the groundhog saw his shadow on Groundhog Day there would be six more weeks of winter. If he didn't, there would be 42 less days of winter. In other words, the Groundhog Day tradition may have begun as a bit of folk humor."

HAHAAAHAHAAA! That good ol' folksy humor!

According to my calendar, the first day of Spring is March 20th. That would be... six and a half weeks away. So Punxsutawney Phil and Shubenacadie Sam and Wiarton Willy and Octoraro Orphie can all go fuck their furry little asses off because there's ALWAYS six more weeks of winter! Actually six and a half weeks, but I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt on those extra couple of days because I don't think they have little groundhog calendars in the shitholes they call homes.

On a side note, Punxsutawney Phil gets all the credit while Staten Island Chuck and Dunkirk Dave did predict an early Spring this year. So it's time to share the wealth Phil, you greedy bastard.

Music Break! Thelonious Monk

Blue Monk

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super Bowl XLIII Champs

Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Steelers, six-time Super Bowl Champs with a 27-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. It was a pretty amazing game.

Go Stillers

guest-posted by Armadillo Joe

I understand that tonight is the occasion for some manner of popular professional sporting competition. If I remember correctly, the Pittsdown Burghers Club will be challenging Ariel's Zone Canaries to an Americanized foosball match.

Well, may laurels rain upon the squadron with the most baskets under par after nine periods, which if the prognosticators on my Tee-Vee machine are to be believed, should be the Burghers Club by four dots, which sounds to me like an odd way of tabulating any kind of sporting match.


Bill Press: GOP Stabs Obama In The Back

Barack Obama has only been president since Jan. 20, but he’s already learned a powerful lesson: Bipartisanship is a myth. At least, it’s a myth at this time in Washington, with this gang of negative, out-of-touch, calcified Republicans led by the clueless John Boehner.

God knows he tried. Even before being sworn in as president, Obama traveled to Capitol Hill to meet with House and Senate Republicans. In his first week in office, he invited Republican leaders to the White House. But he didn’t stop there. In a gesture seldom seem in partisan-bound Washington — how often did George W. Bush go to Congress to meet with Democrats?

Obama drove up to Capitol Hill to have lunch with Republican members. Both in his speeches and actions, Obama’s extended the hand of bipartisanship to Republicans. And how did they respond? By stabbing him in the back. When his $819 billion stimulus package came up on the House floor, not one Republican voted for it. Not one. So much for bipartisanship.

Read the entire article.

Douchebag of the Week: Andrew Card

For the previously mentioned reasons.

Respect For The Office

We had eight years, eight excruciatingly long years under one of the most, if not the most, criminal administrations in our nation's history under George W. Bush.

And just less than two weeks into President Obama's tenure, we now have this little nugget crapped out from former Bush White House chief of staff Andrew Card:

"...I found that Ronald Reagan and both President Bushes treated the Oval Office with tremendous respect. They treated the Office of the Presidency with tremendous respect. And some of that respect was reflected in how they expected people to behave, how they expected them to dress when they walked into the symbol of freedom for the world, the Oval Office. And yes, I'm disappointed to see the casual, laissez faire, short sleeves, no shirt and tie, no jacket, kind of locker room experience that seems to be taking place in this White House and the Oval Office."

Yes, you read that correctly. You can apparently wipe your ass with the Constitution of the United States while serving in the Bush administration, but you'd better damned well be wearing a jacket in the Oval Office while you do it.

This is almost too ridiculous to take seriously, but apparently Card was very serious while being interviewed by conservative radio douche Michael Medved when he was asked about the New York Times article regarding the "more informal culture" in the Obama White House.

Here is the picture that accompanied the article:

Pete Souza/White House, via Bloomberg News

Well, obviously it's clear to see why Card was upset. You can plainly witness the "short sleeves." Look! There's Vice President Biden sitting around shirtless and tieless. And is that Rahm Emanuel I see wearing a tank top, cargo shorts and flip-flops while shooting spitballs at the portrait of Abraham Lincoln?! And what's this?! Obama is snapping a towel at Biden's ass! OUTRAGEOUS LOCKER ROOM BEHAVIOR!

Perhaps Card doesn't understand that the phrase "respect for the office" doesn't literally mean the physical office. Because lord knows George W. Bush showed no respect for the office after twice swearing an oath to preserve, protect and defend that "goddamn piece of paper" as he so eloquently put it.* Respect for the office isn't about the ill-fitting, wrinkled suit you wear or the shine on your shoes. Respect for the office isn't the admiration for a rug that your wife designed.

But Andrew Card thinks he knows better. Let me remind you that this is the same Andrew Card who accompanied then White House counsel Alberto Gonzales in the dark of night to the hospital room of ailing Attorney General John Ashcroft in an attempt to get him to sign documents reauthorizing President Bush's domestic surveillance program that the Justice Department had deemed illegal. But he talks about respect for the office.

The "symbol of freedom for the world" as Card puts it is not the Oval Office. Arguably, the symbol of freedom for the world is the leader of the free world. So perhaps, when travelling around the world, the former leader of the "free" world could have shown more respect for the office than this, or this. Or this. Or this. Or this. Or this. Or... well, you get the picture.

So Mr. Card, I respectfully suggest that you shut the fuck up. These men are getting down to the business of righting the previous administration's utter incompetence and devastation they wrought on this country. So maybe they take off their jackets and roll up their sleeves to get to work. I know you probably only saw that from your former boss for the sake of a photo op, but get used to it here. The big boys are in town now, and if they want to take off their jackets to dig into a hard day's work that doesn't end at 6pm like you were used to, what difference does it make?

(H/T Steve Benen)

* While Fact doubts the validity of this story, former President Bush has never denied it, nor has it ever been proven completely false. The doubt is speculative.