Saturday, April 18, 2009
On Thursday, Obama remarked about our rail infrastructure and because it happened in the chronological vicinity of the release of the torture memos, it vanished down the memory hole rather quickly.
But car-centric "thinkers" like this moron at Slate.com have reliably swooped in with the usual lists of one-hundred and one reasons why we can't and won't have a rail network in the United States ever at all, which usually all boils down to the objection that trains don't work like cars and so aren't a decent substitute, nyah.
What these people always fail to grasp is that a rail network transforms the human relationship with the land, that a car-scaled infrastructure is by necessity not a human-scaled infrastructure -- which anyone who has ever tried to exist in Los Angeles without a car for any length of time will immediately understand. What's more, when morons like the one I mentioned above say brain-dead shit like this:
What he did not address, though, is how much people will have to pay once the rails are built. Right now, Amtrak is a luxury product. One-way tickets from Washington to New York City currently start around $70. During peak times, that can rise to $140. On the ultrafast Acela, tickets start around $100 and quickly reach double that.See anything wrong with all the underlying assumptions in what he wrote, aside from his classification of the plodding Acela as ultrafast? (hint - he seems to take the letters F-R-E-E in the word "freeway" literally.)
The bus? That costs $25. And it has wi-fi. (So does Amtrak at a few stations.)
And the Northeast Corridor is the busiest train route in the country. In other regions, where there won't be as many travelers—say, Chicago to St. Louis—there won't be the same stream of revenue to cover costs, which means either higher ticket prices or more government subsidies.
The fact is that Amtrak is expensive and a "luxury" product because, at the apex of the Rethugli-twit driven deregulation fetish -- when the U.S. Government was divesting itself of any vestige of anything even vaguely kinda-sorta socialist or semi-fruity and, you know, Yurp-een -- Congress decreed that Amtrak should be financially self-supporting within five years in the Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act of 1997.
For countless very complicated reasons, much like the average Rethugli-doofus' squirrely ideas about Bush's Clear Skies Act or abstinence education or No Child Left Behind or bringing democracy to the Middle East, this plan was doomed to failure because it was never advanced in good faith in the first place. Instead, like the above mentioned Orwellian double-speak endeavors, the ARAA was intended to kill the thing it purported to advance. The Rethuglicans intended the ARAA make passenger rail unbearable, inefficient and generally poorly executed by starving Amtrak of the subsidies it needed to function smoothly under the guise of "free markets" to extinguish any lasting vestiges of favorable opinion of rail travel in this country for the ultimate benefit of the petroleum and automobile industries -- IMHO -- with the added side-benefit of sticking it to all those snooty, train-riding Northeastern Yankees who tended to vote Democratic anyway.
Thus, by placing the unreasonable burden on Amtrak of being financially self-supporting, the GOP doomed Amtrak as the standard-bearer of rail in the United States to failure because, as any country with a decent rail network has learned, the expense of building and maintaining the physical infrastructure, navigating the witch's brew of local, state & regional politics during the planning phase, obtaining rights-of-way and even researching and developing the technology of the train engines themselves all amount to a too hefty burden for any one private institution. An efficient and well-run rail network is a perfect example of the ideal function of a so-called "socialist" government and even in a semi-private rail network like we have here, to be truly functional the rail system must be heavily subsidized.
The above-mentioned author's fetish for roads and automobile travel seems to derive from an assumption that car-culture (from publicly-financed road construction to FHA loans that favor newly-constructed exurban sprawl over renovated urban density) is not itself heavily subsidized. Somehow, he thinks rubber wheels on pavement represents a cheaper alternative to the expensive "luxury" of train travel because the Happy Motoring culture is -- apart from the expense of buying a car and gassing it up -- ecologically, economically and morally cost-free.
Because he's a moron.
Glenn Greenwald: The Significance of Obama's Decision to Release the Torture Memos
Danny Schechter: New Film Tells Unreported Story of Obama’s Election
How soon before he stops using Twitter?
Efficiency and Innovation
Friday, April 17, 2009
(NOTE: I edited some of the language since the original post for clarity)
The tea-baggers rhetoric doesn't make sense, they have to talk in circles, because 40 years ago a diseased cur named Richard Milhouse Nixon figured out that he could slither his way into the White House on rails of racial hatred greased by the sycophantic flattery of the perpetually aggrieved, on a bandwagon built of the decaying bones of a failed ideology, motivated by the cultural resentment falling out from a politically powerful white man from the former confederate state of Texas named Lyndon Baines Johnson having the unmittigated gall to spend the entirety of his accumulated political capital to advance the cause of the black man and the twin causes of morality and justice generally for the betterment of society as a whole and -- even more offensively -- The Union.
In the 40 years since LBJ betrayed his race for the greater good, the open hatred in the rhetoric that revealed the deep-seated, race-hating psychosis of the culturally retarded and resentful troglodytes squirming and writhing like orcs on the bubbling, simmering, blood-, pus- and bile-slicked floor of the Rethugli-goon coalition has been slowly phased-out of polite society while their openly racist language gradually mutated in the name of survival-of-the-linguistically-fittest in a marketplace of ideas increasingly hostile to such evolutionaryily stunted mental constructs into code words and phrases of dog-whistle meaning that remained crystal clear to Haters in-the-know, so that it always remained on tap in case the plutocrats needed a little juice to throw an election or government decision their way. Yet, after over half a century of standing athwart history and ineffectively shouting STOP!, of losing every single cultural battle they engaged, of consistently and predictably being on the wrong side of every single important historical development in their lifetimes, as the mounting pressure within Nixon's Coalition of Hate finally blew it apart in recent elections spattering its blood and guts and ungainly chunks of race-hating red meat to lie scattered and rotting on the battlefield, as the various High Commissars of Hate on the Reich-wing of Amerikkkan politics have exhausted all other avenues of raw power to advance their disparate causes of hatred and suppression of The Other, their ultimate failure so complete and utter that a black man now occupies the White House, they are reverting to form, regressing to their imagined cultural childhood in an idyllic '50s (1850's), to the base elements in their political DNA, to the ideas of their much-hallowed and Oh-So-Precious tradition -- the Lost Cause -- which really means treason in defense of human chattel slavery: Secession.
The corporate sponsors of the tea-baggin' parties can't alchemically bring their rhetoric into some semblance of coherence for those who don't share their world-view because in order to connect to the seemingly evolved portions of the electorate, they have to talk around the underlying racial hatred that motivates the anger of the tea-baggers. As deftly as they've been able to maintain that delicate chemical process for four decades, the formula has finally collapsed and we run the risk now of a runaway chemical process, a chain-reaction leading to a China Syndrome explosion of violence and butchery. They are emotional children playing at grown-up games and it is time to stop affording them the courtesy of pretending that they have anything useful or constructive to contribute to the national discourse.
Fuck 'em. They want to go? Let 'em. We're better off without them, they are worse off without us and they are simply too fucking stupid to know it.
I just watched an MSNBC report about the release of the CIA torture memos with expanded analysis on the decision of President Obama and CIA Director Leon Panetta to refrain from prosecuting any agents who carried out the Bush administration orders. The very next story? "Hulk Hogan's Nasty Divorce."
Rachel Maddow usually gets her shit straight. And it seems that if you try to correct her to save face, she'll gladly check to see if she was mistaken. If she sees she wasn't mistaken, then you are in deep shit as Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) found out last night. It's sort of like poking a hornet's nest or a crime suspect making a cop run after them. Burr got his ass kicked but good. The fun starts at 1:20.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean no one's out to get you. But in this case being a paranoid conservative means you should think everyone is out to get you. Even when no one is.
And thus the noise from conservatives is painfully loud at the Department of Homeland Security report entitled, "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment" because for conservatives, it's all about them.
This has become instant fodder for Republicans and conservatives as an attack on them. Michelle Malkin calls it an "Obama DHS hit job" even though it was the Bush administration that ordered the report before leaving office. Nevermind that there isn't one mention of "conservatives" or "Republicans" in the report. Nevermind that there was a DHS report on "Leftwing Extremists" released in January. This is just another excuse to cry foul.
There are mentions of "rightwing extremists, including militias and white supremacists" but for the life of me, I don't have the first clue as to why conservatives and Republicans would define themselves as "rightwingers" and take offense. Do they not believe that there are neo-Nazi hate groups or white supremacy groups like the KKK in existence? Why would they be so quick to assume that rightwing extremists = conservative?
Amazingly, Shepard Smith of Fox News blew their conspiracy theories out of the water.
...at the end of last year, prior to the inauguration, the Department of Homeland Security under the Bush administration was sounding the alarm about the potential for right-wing groups to act, specifically because of the economy, and also because America was going to have its first African-American president.
...we were able to obtain [a leftwing extremist] bulletin as well. It came out in January, and... didn't get the same attention. It looked specifically at groups like the Earth Liberation Front, or ELF, groups that in the opinion of Homeland Security, in the future will try and attack economic targets and specifically use cyber-attacks, because they see that is sympatico, or in concert with some of their other beliefs.
So there are two assessments. The one on the left, the one on the right is the one that's getting the attention because of the leak.
... I would point out that both of these assessments, Shep, were commissioned under the Bush administration. It takes some time to do them. They only came out after he left office.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
On this tax day, as you do your patriotic duty and surrender your hard-earned dollars to prop up the opulent lifestyles of assorted corporate executives in the manner to which they've grown accustomed, I give you my counter-proposal to all the misdirected anger of those asinine, corporate-sponsored (with your bailout dollars!) tea-baggin' parties:
Matt Taibbi, on whom I have to kinda admit I have something of a man-crush, also has a point about the underlying truth of the tea-baggin' parties:
It’s a classic peasant mentality: going into fits of groveling and bowing whenever the master’s carriage rides by, then fuming against the Turks in Crimea or the Jews in the Pale or whoever after spending fifteen hard hours in the fields. You know you’re a peasant when you worship the very people who are right now, this minute, conning you and taking your shit. Whatever the master does, you’re on board. When you get frisky, he sticks a big cross in the middle of your village, and you spend the rest of your life praying to it with big googly eyes. Or he puts out newspapers full of innuendo about this or that faraway group and you immediately salute and rush off to join the hate squad. A good peasant is loyal, simpleminded, and full of misdirected anger. And that’s what we’ve got now, a lot of misdirected anger searching around for a non-target to mis-punish… can’t be mad at AIG, can’t be mad at Citi or Goldman Sachs. The real villains have to be the anti-AIG protesters! After all, those people earned those bonuses! If ever there was a textbook case of peasant thinking, it’s struggling middle-class Americans burned up in defense of taxpayer-funded bonuses to millionaires.
UPDATE: I'll continually add links thoughout the day of the teabagger coverage as I find them. Steep!
GottaLaff: No Permit, No Dumpee
Bob Cesca: CNN Gets Ballsy with Tea Baggers
Sacramento Tea Party recreation.
Awww. They played dress up and I missed it?! And polluted the river too?
Et tu, Cliffy?
More Updates -
Marc Cooper: Anti-Obama Taxpayer Tea Parties steeped in insanity
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
I left you S.O.B.'s for New York City over a decade ago and still your toxic politics followed me into my new life here by taking over the whole fucking federal government, to the everlasting chagrin of decent-minded people everywhere. My pain became everyone's pain and now that polite society has finally rejected you assholes and your designated asshole-in-chief for something and, more importantly, someone more competent and more skilled (not to mention better looking), now that everyone thinks -- nay, knows -- that you fucking people are the violence-prone, willfully ignorant, pompous yahoos you were always afraid we thought you were, you want to go pout. In search of relevance, you now re-assert your hare-brained notion that you have a right to secede from The Union because people have finally realized that your brand of economic snakeoil and bigoted social organization doesn't really work as advertised. I thought we had a little intra-family tussle over your silly notions of secession back 'round 1860 or so which settled it pretty squarely NOT in your favor, but in this instance we're willing to grant an exception if you promise to take Oklahoma and it's congressional delegation with you.
Armadillo Joe, ex-Texan
inspired by the news at this link:
Per fraulein's suggestion, I am creating a post for the comment thread from Broadway Carl's response (A Response To "Arrgh, Me Mateys") to my initial Somali pirates post (Arrgh, Me Mateys), wherein I argued that the Somali pirates are not criminals in the sense that most people understand because these lawless men haven't chosen to reject the laws that ought to bind us all, those laws having never applied to them in the first place -- hence "lawless", and Carl countered that they are criminals for the simple fact that they chose to become pirates in the first place. In looking more closely at the whole issue, I see now that we are in fact arguing apples and oranges. My point is a philosophical one with a moral and ethical component, wherein Carl's point is strictly practical, with a social and political component.
Thus, inter-related and overlapping, sure. But not the same thing.
The comment exchange:
Matt Osborne said...The upshot for me, more or less, is this: the Somali pirates are victims of the ugly reality of the true Golden Rule -- the one with the gold makes the rules. We have lots of stuff. They don't have stuff. They take our stuff and we brand them as thieves.
You're right to say there's no sympathy due the pirates NOW. But we do have to understand how they happened: a vacuum of power, anarchy on the seas, greedy European corporations, and starving native fishermen.Like most things in this world, the Somali pirates started out with the best of intentions, but you're right -- that's not important. What's important is that Obama has the opportunity to fix the situation and start fixing Africa in the process.
And we should be trumpeting the Somali pirates as an example of what happens in a land without government.
April 13, 2009 9:52:00 PM EDT
Armadillo Hussein Joe said...
Thank you, Matt, for ferreting out my underlying meaning in earlier posts.
I feel like my initial argument was mis-characterized because the idea of piracy on the seas is so frightening and repellent to most people that any attempt on my part to understand or plumb the causes of it is an expression of sympathy for the pirates' actions. It isn't. It is an expression of sympathy for the social and political conditions that drove them to it.
Sun Tzu urged us to know our enemies. The fact that we are complicit in the creation of those enemies doesn't make them any less potent or us any less guilty, but to pretend that they have just mysteriously appeared as some kind of fully-formed menace previously unknown in any way whatsoever is intellectually dishonest. We cannot truly know them if we don't acknowledge our role in their creation and growth.
A crime of inaction is still a crime and we allowed the horrifying conditions in Somalia to fester because to deal with them was politically inconvenient.
April 13, 2009 11:18:00 PM EDT
The Somali pirate situation is a tidy symbol for our income equality problems in this country, but written on a global scale. More than just another example of moonbat, bleeding-heart drivel, what I mean is that the tension between the haves and have-nots in this country can only be addressed when it is truly addressed on a global scale. American and European wealth, stability and prosperity has not happened without consequences elsewhere (Africa, South & Central America, the Middle East) anymore than skyrocketing wealth within America's borders hasn't happened without consequences in the inner cities and rural mountains and elsewhere. The long-term solution at home isn't for the wealthy to retreat into gated communities and beef-up the police departments -- even if specific criminal acts require specific police action in a given moment -- anymore than the long-term solution abroad is to close our borders and hoard our stuff with a beefed-up military presence to intimidate and punish anyone who dare threaten our material prosperity.
It's the difference between strategy and tactics.
The long-term soution domestically and internationally is to be less provincial and, frankly, greedy and search for solutions that -- here it comes -- spread the wealth. Globally. When the average Somali starves because he literally has nothing to eat while a wealthy Parisian sips wine and eats the fish plucked from what should be Somali sovereign waters, how can we smugly say that the Somali is a criminal for any action he takes, however violent or inconvenient to our comfortable lifestyle?
In the eyes of most of the rest of the planet, we Americans and Europeans are all unimaginably wealthy. Whether a lowly iPod or a high-flying corporate jet, both are equally unattainable to most people in the world and the relative difference in cost is still orders of magnitude more than most of them will ever earn in a lifetime.
The idea is not to stop the criminals but to banish the conditions that give rise to them.
* I like that fraulein always has a specific font and color for her dateline, so I'm trying out something of my own. Opinions?
In comments, Annette pointed me towards this fascinating and thoroughly on-point article by a gent named Jeffrey Gettleman at Foreign Policy magazine's website, ominously entitled "The Most Dangerous Place in the World." Of course, he paints the same picture we always get of Somalia: violent, anarchic, the nearest thing to a Hobbesian State of Man in Nature anywhere on earth:
To call it even a failed state was generous. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a failed state. So is Zimbabwe. But those places at least have national armies and national bureaucracies, however corrupt. Since 1991, Somalia has not been a state so much as a lawless, ungoverned space on the map between its neighbors and the sea.He argues that the current scourge of piracy off the Horn of Africa is the result of this anarchy, which didn't happen overnight or happen spontaneously, but rather has resulted due to three mistakes of American policy over the last two decades. The first was the Battle of Mogadishu -- immortalized in the film Black Hawk Down -- the punctuation mark at the tail-end of our failed humanitarian effort there, resulting in the death of hundreds of Somalis and 18 American servicemen.
The second and third mistakes, unsurprisingly, were made by the hysterical chickenhawks of our recently departed Rethugli-goon administration, scared as they were after 9/11 changed everything™ of their own shadows and every dark-skinned taqiyah-wearer ever to answer the adhān.
Mistake #2 was to undermine -- out of the usual CIA bag of tricks with guns, money & free advice funneled to the already unpopular warlords -- the emerging and popular Islamist government for fear of an al Qaeda safe-haven on the Horn of Africa, a government that was cracking-down on piracy, BTW.
Mistake #3 was to back, again with guns & logistical support, an invasion by christian Ethiopia for the same purpose of toppling the Islamist government. The puppet government installed by the christian leadership of Ethiopia is predictably ineffective -- which is by design, of course -- and has resulted in anarchy, war and death spilling into every neighboring country and the adjacent blue sea.
Add to that vicious cocktail an ocean empty of food and full of other country's toxic waste and no one should be surprised at the level of violence and lawlessness we see today in that part of the world. As Gettleman says at the end of his do-not-miss article:
Nearly an entire generation of Somalis has absolutely no idea what a government is or how it functions. I’ve seen this glassy-eyed generation all across the country, lounging on bullet-pocked street corners and spaced out in the back of pickup trucks, Kalashnikovs in their hands and nowhere to go. To them, law and order are thoroughly abstract concepts. To them, the only law in the land is the business end of a machine gun.
Posted by Fraulein
It's bad enough that the Tea Bag Revolutionaries are blissfully ignorant of what their name actually means. This, as we have seen, is not the worst aspect of this overblown faux outrage foolishness. The worst part of it is how many things they're just plain wrong about.
These people don't want to pay taxes, dammit! That wasteful federal government can keep its filthy paws OFF their money! Just like the original American revolutionaries told off that limey King George! Or something. Apparently none of the Tea Baggers realizes that when they incite their minions to pull stunts like this, it actually costs the federal (as well as, in some cases, state and local) government more money.
Local reports indicate that the practice of mailing actual tea bags to legislators has repeatedly raised security concerns, and sometimes forced the evacuation of congressional offices in anthrax-like scares.When they have to call in the local fire department and the hazmat squad, whose money pays for that? When the U.S. Capitol police has to scramble in response to what might in theory be a hazardous package planted by a terrorist, but is in fact an envelope filled with Tetley tea bags, mailed to Washington by a guy who spends his days eating Cheetos in his parents' basement while reading Little Green Footballs, who foots the bill?
Could it be, I don't know, the taxpayers?
Real geniuses, this bunch.
Oh, that sorry, sorry GOP. Taking a tragic circumstance like the kidnapping of a cargo ship captain by pirates and turning it into a political strategy to discredit the Obama administration and his decision making is now the new low point for this excuse for a political party.
And all the questioning was rather ridiculous. Glenn Beck (what a surprise) was his usual smirky, sarcastic self while, as Bob Cesca notes, criticizing the Navy... you know, not supporting the troops.
Newt Gingrich who, unless I am mistaken, is not currently involved in any official capacity as an elected politician and therefore not privy to intelligence (of any kind), assumes that President Obama is frozen, the administration is in a panic, and not doing anything in the hopes that someone else will take care of the situation so they won't have to make hard decisions.
Talking heads on Fox News wonder why Obama, "the most powerful man in the world" isn't publicly commenting on the situation in real time. Maybe because he's actually doing something in the back rooms instead of added face time on TV pretending to do something.
"The US does not negotiate with terrorists. Are pirates somehow different?" ...Uh, yeah. They're not terrorists. They're pirates. Terrorists have political objectives. Pirates, or at least these Somali pirates have never, to my knowledge, demanded anything but ransom.
The most dismal and disgusting part of all these sad sacks questioning and doubting is that it seems they have no regard for the safety of the hostage. It seems that since we didn't blow the lifeboat out of the water within the first couple of hours, that translated as President Obama trying not to make a hard decision. Captain Phillips? Eh, collateral damage. Why isn't this over yet?
Well, I would say that if this was a "test" for President Obama, he passed - and that's got to stick in the craw of the Newt Gingriches and the Glenn Becks of the world. To his credit, Rush Limbaugh has praised the President for the rescue effort. Yes, he patted himself on the back in the process, but he congratulated the President nonetheless. I'm awaiting Beck's and Gingrich's praise with bated breath.
ADDING... Hannity fail! I'm expecting a lot more of this.
Monday, April 13, 2009
by Armadillo Joe
So, he's officially won. Say hello to the 59th vote in the anti-Rethugli-bot caucus:
Now, let's see if Norm "WATB" Coleman will do the honorable thing...
Oh, who am I kidding? Ole Norm's still a Rethugli-goon, well-financed and on a mission.
I guess we'll see you sworn in sometime in October or November, Al.
I responded today in the comments section to my good friend and fellow contributor, Armadillo Joe regarding his post on the Somali pirate situation, but thought it best to also post my comment in a post of its own, with a couple of revisions in the interests of expounding a thought.
Armadillo Joe said: "Because they had no petroleum resources to commandeer, we simply left that country shattered, broken and flat on its back with no government to speak of, just like we did in Afghanistan after the Soviets left in the late 1980's."You make is sound like Somalia was doing fine before we landed there in 1992 in conjunction with the UN to attempt a peacekeeping and humanitarian operation. Somalia had been in a civil war since 1978.
Wikipedia: "The resulting famine caused the United Nations Security Council in 1992 to authorise the limited peacekeeping operation United Nations Operation in Somalia I (UNOSOM I). UNOSOM's use of force was limited to self-defence and it was soon disregarded by the warring factions. In reaction to the continued violence and the humanitarian disaster, the United States organised a military coalition with the purpose of creating a secure environment in southern Somalia for the conduct of humanitarian operations. This coalition, (Unified Task Force or UNITAF) entered Somalia in December 1992 on Operation Restore Hope and was successful in restoring order and alleviating the famine. In May 1993, most of the United States troops withdrew and UNITAF was replaced by the United Nations Operation in Somalia II (UNOSOM II). However, Aidid saw UNOSOM II as a threat to his power and in June 1993 his militia attacked Pakistan Army troops, attached to UNOSOM II, (see Somalia (March 1992 to February 1996)) in Mogadishu inflicting over 80 casualties. Fighting escalated until 18 American troops and more than 1,000 Somalis were killed in a raid in Mogadishu during October 1993. The UN withdrew Operation United Shield in 3 March 1995, having suffered significant casualties, and with the rule of government still not restored. In June 1996, [Somali military leader/warlord] Mohamed Farrah Aidid was killed in Mogadishu.
Armadillo Joe said: "Those pirates aren't just greedy thugs. They are desperate men with sick and starving families hitting back at the only target they can because we have been the greedy thugs."But with all due respect, Joe, (and I do respect your intelligence and hold your friendship in high esteem) I completely disagree with the premise that they are not necessarily criminals. While you don't claim that they're "Robin Hood," you're using that as the crux of your argument.
Broadway Carl said: Joe, I would argue that [choosing criminal activity] is what they did by becoming pirates. They "actively chose not to be subject to the laws and customs which bind us all." Had their endgame been to point out what you have in your post instead of demanding ransom (which seems to be the case in all their hijackings) then I can see your point. But I feel that justifying piracy because of their incredibly horrible lot in life ("Those pirates aren't just greedy thugs...") is over the top.The point I'm trying to make is that as far as I have seen, there is no noble cause for these pirates. They're not doing this for political purposes, they're not trying to bring international attention to the dire circumstances in their land and how their seas have been raped and poisoned. They're doing it for profit. They've asked for nothing but money.
Booman: There's a theme running through parts of Left Blogistan that these pirates are acting out of some kind of legitimate desperation or self-defense. That's lunacy. The pirates boarded this ship 240 miles off the coast of Somalia in the Indian Ocean. They made no political demands. They wanted two million dollars in ransom and nothing else.They're not terrorists. Terrorists have a political objective. They're thieves. The collective "we" may not be completely innocent in the Somalia situation, but neither are the Somali pirates. I think this may be a topic we have to respectfully agree to disagree.
I'm tired of reading fellow bloggers trying to defend this crap as yet another brilliant move in Obama's elaborate chess match with entrenched interests and call it what it is: hopey, changey (from Glenn Greenwald) -- bold face mine.
In the last week alone, the Obama DOJ (a) attempted to shield Bush's illegal spying programs from judicial review by (yet again) invoking the very "state secrets" argument that Democrats spent years condemning and by inventing a brand new "sovereign immunity" claim that not even the Bush administration espoused, and (b) argued that individuals abducted outside of Afghanistan by the U.S. and then "rendered" to and imprisoned in Bagram have no rights of any kind -- not even to have a hearing to contest the accusations against them -- even if they are not Afghans and were captured far away from any "battlefield." These were merely the latest -- and among the most disturbing -- in a string of episodes in which the Obama administration has explicitly claimed to possess the very presidential powers that Bush critics spent years condemning as radical, lawless and authoritarian.
I just saw President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama participate in their first White House Easter Egg Roll live on MSNBC.
Stand by for wingnut outrage in 5... 4... 3...
*How dare the Messiah waste time on such frivilous things as a 139 year old White House tradition when there are so many things to take care of! If he had kept his eye on the ball instead of playing with eggs, maybe Capt. Richard Phillips wouldn't have been kidnapped by Somali pirates in the first place. Yeah, I know he was rescued in a daring Navy SEAL operation that only took three shots, and yeah, I know that President Obama gave authorization to use deadly force if necessary and yeah, I know Captain Phillips was unharmed... but what took so long?
And now the Somali pirates have vowed to avenge the deaths of their fellow mateys. What now, Mr. Commander in Chief?! You've only aggravated the situation in that dangerous part of the high seas! Nice job.*
Here endeth the snark.
In other stupid news, it looks like Arizona State University is planning to name a scholarship in honor of President Obama after realizing that deciding not to give him an honorary degree was an incredibly asinine decision. After all, Obama hasn't reached the status of other ASU honorary degree recipients like Erma Bombeck, Steve Allen and Jerry Colangelo.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
...some important news.
The Obamas welcome Bo, a six-month old Portuguese water dog and a gift from Senator and Mrs. Kennedy to Sasha and Malia, recently at the White House.
White House photos by Pete Souza.
UPDATE (8:30pm): TBogg - Conservatives Now Offically Hate Puppies
At The Independent UK, a short article about the living hell that is life in Somalia. Shall we travel in the Way-Back Machine to 1993? Remember, shall we, that the U.S. military used to be in there with some serious firepower and we left with our tail between our legs, in a classic David versus Goliath tale. "Blackhawk Down" anyone?
Because they had no petroleum resources to comandeer, we simply left that country shattered, broken and flat on its back with no government to speak of, just like we did in Afghanistan after the Soviets left in the late 1980's.
In the intelligence trade, they call it "blowback."
On September 11, 2001 we paid a price for that neglect of Afghanistan. Today, we pay the price for abandoning 9 million people to starvation and anarchy in Somalia. Unlike Afghanistan, Somalia is resource-rich with her oceans and a coastline with greater access to the world's commerce via pirate attacks on the world's shipping. Current-day Somalia is a territory with no functioning government, the nearest thing to a Hobbesian Bellum omnium contra omnes we have anywhere on the planet today, and that anarchic territory overlaps a thousand plus miles of African coastline right at the Horn of Africa, the principle sea-lane for 20% of the world's oil supply.
European & Asian nations have been taking advantage of the lack of any government to defend and protect Somali waters to trawl them virtually empty of sealife -- starving the people on land -- and furthermore to dump toxic waste, including spent nuclear fuel:
In 1991, the government of Somalia collapsed. Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since – and the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country's food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas.Those pirates aren't just greedy thugs. They are desperate men with sick and starving families hitting back at the only target they can because we have been the greedy thugs. Using the mafia as a conduit for disposing of toxic waste? That is about as bad as it gets, if you ask me.
Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore.
...also lead, and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury...
Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to "dispose" of cheaply.
Let us look to ourselves and get the whole story about what is really happening in Somalia before we condemn these desperate and starving men as mere criminals.
Three of the four pirates are dead and the American captain is safely in U.S. Navy custody, presumably due to a lightning SEAL-raid on the lifeboat, a'la the French method, because those frogs are such wimpy, cheese-eating surrender-monkeys, doncha-know?