Saturday, October 31, 2009

Tonight We Ride!

This is a delightful song about cowboys "going rogue" and yes, I said that on purpose! Did I mention that choices have consequences? Heh.

A great song by Tom Russell!

Indeed it is! How could it be otherwise with lyrics like this?

When I'm too damn old to sit a horse, I'll steal the warden's car
Break my ass out of this prison, leave my teeth there in a jar
You don't need no teeth for kissin' gals or smokin' cheap cigars
I'll sleep with one eye open, 'neath God's celestial stars

Tonight we rock, Tonight we roll
We'll rob the Juarez liquor store for the Reposado Gold
And if we drink ourselves to death, ain't that the cowboy way to go?

Listen and enjoy.

Tom Russell ~ Tonight We Ride

Thanks to Wegg09, Norway.

Saturday Emmylou Blogging

Emmylou cuts loose a little toward the end of this one. Be still my heart!

Hello Stranger by Emmylou Harris w/ Nash Ramblers

Thanks to sanjosepal.

The White Man's Burden

Pretty good post on the parallels between Afghanistan and Vietnam by Ray McGovern. He starts off with a little Kipling. I'm surprised it's taken so long for the big writers to invoke him.

It is not wise for the Christian white
To hustle the Asian brown;
For the Christian riles
And the Asian smiles
And weareth the Christian down.

At the end of the fight
Lies a tombstone white
With the name of the late deceased;

And the epitaph drear,
A fool lies here,
Who tried to hustle the East.

Whether we're trying to conquer them or help them, it will end the same.

By the way, I caught part of Dr. Brzezinski's address on C-Span that Mr. McGovern refers to. I thought it was common sense and realpolitik, but then I respect him and agree with him a lot. Mr. McGovern does not.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Go figure ...

Whoda thought it?

So it may turn out that Harry Reid was the hero in the public option after all.

"We'd rather fight than stand around. Tell yer friends."

Thanks to DrStranglove.

Jane on Miss Connecticut

Back before the flood when I was one horny young Jarhead amongst many, we were given to hyperbole concerning the for all practical purposes non-existent opposite sex, and we used phrases like this to describe our feelings about attractive sexy women:

"I'd low-crawl a mile through ground glass to sniff the tire tracks of the truck that carries her skivvies to the laundry."

We would have too if the opportunity had presented itself, which of course it didn't.

The drop-dead gorgeous Jane Hamsher (wiki) of Firedoglake was in about first grade then, but she is the perfect example of what we were talking about. Her wit, brains, and the committed Liberal activism that have launched her to Blogtopian superstardom were not what we had in mind, but are definitely part of the package now.

That said, fast forward this video to 6:00 and watch her give you arguably the most disturbing visual of Joe Lieberman you will ever have! Oh, the horror...

Healthcare Hoax from Hell

This is the first I've heard of this.


Lies, damn lies, and promises from Democrats. An amendment allowing states to create state-level single-payer healthcare has been stripped out of the House healthcare bill, after having passed in committee back in July by a vote of 27 to 19. And rumor has it that a vote on national single-payer that was promised in July in exchange for skipping a committee vote on it will now be denied.

First, the state single-payer amendment.

Back in July, the House Committee on Education and Labor did something right, something that could have made all the difference in the world to millions of Americans. Congressman Dennis Kucinich introduced in the committee an amendment that would have effectively allowed states to improve on our healthcare system if they chose to, allowed them to create state-level single-payer healthcare. There are bills to do this in several state legislatures already. Such a bill has passed and been vetoed in California twice, where a change in governor is imminent.

President Obama told the committee chairman, George Miller, to oppose Kucinich's amendment, and he did so, leading off the voting with a resounding "No." But the Democrats voted 14 to 14 with one member passing and two failing to vote. And the Republicans voted 13 to 5 with one member failing to vote. That added up to 27 yes votes and 19 no votes. Some Republicans may have voted yes simply because the chairman voted no, but they said they were voting yes for states' rights. And that would be a sensible, decent, and constitutional position. Why shouldn't states be permitted to do better, as well as worse, than Washington, even if the insurance companies bring in less blood money?

Canada got its healthcare system in one province first. If California or Pennsylvania joins the civilized world and treats healthcare as a right, and eliminates the waste and bureaucracy of the health insurance companies, our whole nation may just be forced to come along, or watch half the population migrate to California and Pennsylvania.

I've already watched what seems like half the population migrate to California, thank you very much. It was and continues to be damned ugly and I'm not sure single-payer here would be worth more of it.

My opinion on more overpopulation of my state has nothing to do with the point of Mr. Swanson's post. Please go read the rest.

Obama's Declaration Of Swine Flu Emergency Prompts Pro-Swine-Flu Republican Response

The World's Best News Source

Claiming that the president was preying on the public's fear of contracting a fatal disease last week when he declared the H1N1 virus a national emergency, Republican leaders announced Wednesday that they were officially endorsing the swine flu. "Thousands of Americans—hardworking ordinary Americans like you and me—already have H1N1," Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele said during a press conference. "Now Obama wants to take that away from us. Ask yourself: Do you want the federal government making these kinds of health care decisions for you and your family?" Other prominent Republicans opposing Obama's declaration of emergency include Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, who urged residents of his state to continue not washing their hands, and radio host Rush Limbaugh, who made a point of dying of the virus during his show on Wednesday.

Hmmmmm. Might be worth a little collateral damage such as a few million dead wingtards to get rid of Rushole.

Al-Qaeda Outwitted Bush, Neocons

Duh. It wasn't very hard for them to do, either, given that Bush/Cheney played right into their hands.

Robert Parry

As security worsens in Afghanistan and Pakistan, it is clear that al-Qaeda and its Taliban allies outwitted President George W. Bush and his neoconservative advisers by tying down U.S. forces in Iraq for five years while the Islamic militants rebuilt their forces for the war on their “central front.”

What might have been possible eight years ago – in rebuilding Afghanistan and winning the hearts and minds of many Afghans – has become almost impossible because of Bush’s “muddling through” strategy regarding what became “the forgotten war.”

Too bad Afghanistan doesn't have any oil. Then he'da had a 'strategy'. Yeesh.

Parry goes on to quote Captain Hoh at some length, whom I am sure we're all familiar as the first and hopefully not the last Foreign Service Officer to resign in order to publicly question the whole AfPak flusterpluck.

Yet while Capt. Hoh may have struggled to reach a painful personal decision, it is far from clear that senior U.S. officials and American opinion-makers have come to grips with an even more troubling realization: that President Bush and his neocon advisers committed the United States to two wars whose chances for success were crippled by ill-defined goals and ill-considered strategies.

Indeed, one of the most remarkable aspects of life in Washington today is how the neocons remain exceptionally influential. They keep their well-paid jobs at prestigious think tanks, write books for major publishing houses, and control key opinion columns in the Washington Post and, to a lesser degree, the New York Times.

Even now, as President Obama ponders what to do with the botched war in Afghanistan, the neocons bait him about alleged weakness and defeatism. Their allies in Congress, the likes of Sens. John McCain and Joe Lieberman, seem determined to undermine the Obama administration at every turn if the President doesn’t take the neocons' advice and escalate the war.

It seems that Official Washington can’t face up to its disastrous misjudgments over the past eight years.

Neither the pols nor the journos have a very good track record about admitting their colossal mistakes. Without that, nothing is going to change very quickly. When pigs fly.

I think we could make a good start by taking a few machine gun belts' worth of neocons out and shooting them. I volunteer to throttle the smarmy grin off Kristol's face myself to kick things off.

Is This Tom Friedman's 'Walter Cronkite Moment' on Afghanistan?

Harvey Wasserman

The Iraq war's chief New York Times cheerleader has reversed field on Afghanistan. Does it mean there will be no escalation?

In early 1968, after the devastating Tet Offense, CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite pronounced the Vietnam War unwinnable. Lyndon Johnson knew he had "lost middle America" and soon declined to run for a second term. The war dragged on for seven more hellish years. But the hearts and minds of the American public had been lost.

Tom Friedman is no Walter Cronkite. [...]

Thomas Friedman is nothing if not a megaphone for the corporate elite. He supports atomic power and consistently pumps global trade agreements, US military adventurism and top-down decision-making in ways that can draw howls of outrage with a single smarmy sentence.

It's impossible to assign tangible value to Friedman's loss of faith in escalation. But those of us hoping to avoid a catastrophic dive off the Afghani abyss have expected nothing but grief from this mainstay of the Iraqi catastrophe.

That a key cheerleader for that war is now waving his editorial pompoms for de-escalation can only be good. Let's make sure the White House gets the message.

Hear, hear.

For F** Sake!

If you missed this last night, DO NOT miss it now!

Fox News defends itself against an attack by the Obama administration by explaining that most of their shows aren't real news.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
For Fox Sake!
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Quote of the Day

The Rude One on Obama's visit to Dover AFB:


Or, to put it simply, the images of Obama at Dover show a young president nutting up to all responsibilities he has been given. That's called, you know, leadership.


All their blood is on his hands and he knows it. It's a refreshing to have a President who understands and gives a damn about it, unlike the sociopath we had in the office for the better part of the last decade.

Die quickly ...

Kudos to President Obama for attempting to kill this policy. This was a bone thrown to the 'god people' by Bush and his Rethug Congress and all it's done is help to ruin young lives. "Just say no to sex" was just as effective as Nancy Reagan's "Just say no to drugs".

President Obama will be cutting funding for ineffective abstinence-only education ...

Good on him. Make the schools teach the children about their bodies honestly instead of preaching to them. I don't know about you but when I was at an "impressionable age", the more people told me not to do something, the more I wanted to do it. Education is always better than denial.


Somewhat related (god people and sex) and funny. Brad:


God loves us into being – we are begotten. Our creation is no accident, but the Love of God made manifest, and the "tools" or "materials" that He uses for that creation – committed love and the mysterious and miraculous products of that love – do, simply by their designation as "tools of God" demand a certain respect and recognition, because they are a great deal more than the equivalent of nasal mucous or earwax.

Which is funny, because to me semen is no less or more appealing than nasal mucous. You would think that if God had intended to make semen a Divine Excretion that He would have done more to hype it up. Say, by making it more sparkly and rainbow colored. Or if every time someone gets off, they hear the sound of a righteous trumpet blasting from their nether-regions.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Quote of the Day

Athenae on the Republicans' attempt to mess with AARP:


I have traveled with seniors, I have traveled near seniors, and I have known and loved many, many seniors and what I am saying is that while some people greet advancing age with fear and distrust many, many others greet it with joy because they are finally getting the perks they've earned. Ten percent off on parking at the airport, people. I am not snarking: Never underestimate the power of small conveniences.


Indeed, sweetheart. Never, ever, get in the way of a senior in a buffet line on a cruise ship.

On Public Option, MSM Gets It Wrong

Robert Parry

The American mainstream media is in another snit, having misjudged the prospects for the public option on health care almost as completely as big-time journalists bungled the reporting on the Iraq War and a host of other important stories during George W. Bush’s presidency.

Indeed, if you had listened to all the supposedly knowledgeable journalists covering the health-care debate on Capitol Hill, you might have been shocked to learn Monday that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was putting a version of the public option in the bill that he is bringing to the Senate floor.

So, when the MSM's smug certainty went up in smoke on Monday, as Reid announced that he would include a version of the public option with an opt-out provision for states when he takes the legislation to the full Senate, the journalists were in a foul mood.

A new consensus quickly formed that it wasn’t that their reporting had been lousy, or that the public option made a lot of sense, or that the people’s will was finally being respected. It was that Reid had betrayed them by caving in to the left-wing base of the Democratic Party.

Reid’s announcement, declared the Washington Post’s snide columnist Dana Milbank, “was an admission of the formidable power of liberal interest groups. He had been the target of a petition drive and other forms of pressure to bring the public option to the floor.”

A petition drive, no less. Citizens signing a petition urging their elected representatives to take a position favored by a large majority of the American people. How nefarious!

Yeah, since when does the citizenry count for anything? I'm shocked, shocked I tell you!

As Reid’s news conference was ending, CNN’s Bash was still miffed. “How much of this is about making liberals happy?” she called out as Reid was leaving the podium.

You could read through all of George W. Bush’s press conferences to look for a similarly insulting remark from a mainstream journalist, demanding to know, for instance, whether Bush was invading Iraq to “make the neocons happy.” But you surely wouldn’t find it.

Over the past three decades, the Washington mainstream news media has increasingly tilted right either out of fear of career retribution from right-wing, anti-journalism attack groups or out of shared conservative and neocon ideology. Generally speaking, those journalists, who have played ball with the Right and the neocons, have done well, and those who went against the grain have lost jobs.

Washington's relatively small journalistic community remembers well the fates of honest journalists who produced stories that upset the Republicans and especially the Bush family.

Remember that The Bush Family, high in The Ruling Elite, considers everybody besides themselves to be 'the help', barely tolerated only insofar as they advance their agenda. Like cattle except they're not allowed to eat them after they get them killed.

For months now, the MSM has treated the public option as some loony left-wing idea, when actually the concept had a lot going for it, including the Congressional Budget Office’s conclusion that it was the only approach that achieved substantial savings. It also tested well in most opinion polls.

However, later in the column, Hiatt went after the public option because it may use “government power to demand lower prices from hospitals and drug companies” and thus “those providers may lower quality or seek to make up the difference from private payers,” leading to a situation where “we could end up with only the public option.”

Gee, he says that like it's a bad thing...oh, that's right, that's single payer aka 'socialism', i.e. 'no obscene profit off the sick whose money we can take with false promises and then fuck them out of', aka 'free market capitalism' and 'campaign contributions' that get legislation in favor of the Masters Of The Universe at the expense of the great unwashed. A civilized health care system is of no use to them at all and is therefore a 'bad thing' by definition..

The mainstream media’s opposition to the public option – as reflected in the reporting from CNN and other major networks as well as the Washington Post’s columns – is another reminder why honest Americans must do whatever they can to build a truly independent media that will resist pressure from the Right and other powerful vested interests.

The problem with an 'honest media' is that an awful lot of people would much rather believe sugar-coated spin than the bitter truth which has an adverse effect on ad revenues aka 'free market capitalism'. Lie to the fools, maybe they'll buy the shit. Tell them the truth, it'll make them uncomfortable and maybe they'll go buy someone else's shit.

It's much easier to con them into believing made-up 'conventional wisdom' which is neither conventional nor wise. If you wish to express an opinion, they will tell you what it is. That's the job of the corporate media.

Matthew Hoh answers questions

I present this with a minimum of comment. There's plenty more.


Matthew Hoh, a former Foreign Service officer and former Marine Corps captain who last month became the first U.S. official known to resign in protest over the Afghan war, was online Wednesday, Oct. 28, at 1 p.m. ET to discuss the reasons why he thought the war "wasn't worth the fight."

Washington, D.C.: Not worth the fight? Have you forgotten about 9/11 and the failed state that existed before we entered Afghanistan? Do you want to give all we have accomplished, removing the Taliban from power, taking away al-Qaeda's safe haven, making it possible for women to get an education, etc., back to the Muslim extremists? Isn't that letting them win?

Matthew Hoh: I disagree and I think it is emotional arguments like this that keep us tied to Afghanistan and to a policy that fuels the insurgency as well as adds credence to calls for global Islamic jihad. 9/11 was a tragedy for this country and we cannot let another event like that happen, particularly as we have still not recovered from the emotional shock of the event 8 years later. Additionally, events like 9/11 cause tremendous shock to world financial markets, something we cannot allow to occur, especially at this point in time. However, since 9/11 al-Qaeda has evolved and no longer will tie itself to a political state or geographical boundaries. They have turned into an ideological cloud that exists on the internet and recruits worldwide. Look at the makeup of the attackers for the 9/11, London and Madrid attacks and additionally looked at where they planned and trained for their operations. Heck, the 9/11 attackers trained here in the US! The people we are fighting, for the most part, in Afghanistan are fighting us because they do not want to be occupied by either a foreign army or a central government force. Simply put, al-Qaeda does not exist in Afghanistan and 60,000 troops with the hope of stabilizing the Afghan central government which may or may not succeed in 5-10 years time will not defeat al-Qaeda.

Austin, Tex.: Do you have a sense of what will be the plight of the women in Afghanistan if the U.S. and U.N. forces were to pull out?

I don't see much coverage in the media of the women in Afghanistan.

Matthew Hoh: The plight of the Afghan women, particularly those who live in the Pashtun belt of the country is tragic and horrific. Girls are locked away for life as early as the age of 11 or 12 (and under the Taliban it may have been as early as age 7), only to leave the house escorted and completely covered. In the province I was in literacy was less than 1% for women and the only employment opportunity I was aware of was done by the US military in partnership with USAID and USDA--this was for roughly 20 widows to clean raisins. It is a terrible plight and it is anguishing to see, as I have a mother, sister, niece, girlfriend...However, we cannot justify the deaths of our young men and women for the goal of changing a society's internal cultural and familial norms. This is a goal best left to NGOs and IOs or through the US government's strategic communications. But this is a process that will take generations/decades.

Karzai's brother, the CIA and opium: What are the implications to our ongoing presence in Afghanistan of the NYT disclosure that Karzai's brother has been on the CIA payroll the last 8 years and that he is also likely involved in the Afghan drug trade?

Matthew Hoh: I think it is a blight on us and is a smack in the face to those who have participated in counternarcotics efforts. It is also shows the duplicity or maybe the opposite the lack of coherence in our policies and goals in Afghanistan. We've known for a long time that Wali Karzai has been involved in the drug trade. Why are we sacrificing our young men and women to support such a regime? There are also many other undesirables at all levels of Afghan government.

Cumberland, Md.: Don't think that our over-emphasis on collateral damage and nation building is harming our effort to wage war effectively as we did in WW II?

Matthew Hoh: This isn't WWII and there shouldn't be a comparison. No one can kill better in this world than the US military, however, if killing was the means to victory we would have "won" this years ago. This is primarily a political fight.

Morristown, N.J.: Mr. Hoh, I very much appreciate and respect the position you have taken. As an Afghan-born American I have been doing development work in Afghanistan, I agree with your position. I believe that many in our government and in the military agree with you as well but are not speaking out. The best way for us to get effectiveness out of the Afghan government is to announce our timeline to exit Afghanistan. What is your thought on this?

Matthew Hoh: Yes, I agree and thank you for your work. When I would ask the provincial leadership in Zabul province how long the US should remain in Afghanistan, there answer was 20-30 years. My counterparts in other parts of the South reported similar conversations. When I would ask them why we should remain that long, they would say it was because only 10% of the people supported the government.

Just one comment here - when the wingnuts say they want less or weaker government, ask them if Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, or any of a hundred other places is what they want the U.S. to become.

Washington, D.C.: Would a little more thought go into the why of going to war, if the Congress actually had to declare war and that upon a declaration of war, the military draft was reinstated for the duration of said war?

Matthew Hoh: Absolutely. As a former professional military officer I am against the draft because I don't believe it leads to an effective military. However, as a private citizen I feel that a draft would engage our population in the debate. I don't believe we would have invaded Iraq if we had a draft and I don't believe we would still be in Afghanistan if we had a draft.

This is the reason the draft was dropped in the first place - so the U.S. could do what its rulers wanted to on the world stage without any pesky unwanted input from its citizens who may have objected to their sons and daughters being dragooned into an imperialistic effort. It may be the one thing we learned from Vietnam.

Semper Fi, Captain Hoh.

The Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex

This is an excellent speech by Larry Wilkerson. Take 40 minutes and watch it. It won't make you particularly happy, but you'll be glad you did. The speech was given on October 21 and posted yesterday.

The Real News

This talk by Larry Wilkerson was the keynote speech given at an event sponsored by the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence, American University History Department, American University’s Nuclear Studies Institute on Oct 21,2009 at American University in Washington DC.

Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence describes itself as "a movement of former CIA colleagues and other associates of former intelligence analyst Sam Adams, who hold up his example as a model for those in intelligence who would aspire to the courage to speak truth to power".

Part 1 - The beginning of the American "Imperial Rome" and Eisenhower's warning

Part 2 - From US debt to the geopolitics of oil, the US empire will come to an end

Part 3 - Will the empire end with good leadership or blood?

And people laugh ...

When I say that Osama bin Laden is still on the payroll:

KABUL, Afghanistan — Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the country’s booming illegal opium trade, gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency, and has for much of the past eight years, according to current and former American officials.

The agency pays Mr. Karzai for a variety of services, including helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the C.I.A.’s direction in and around the southern city of Kandahar, Mr. Karzai’s home.


I've mentioned before that I have a friend who is 'close' with British Intelligence (MI-6 to be exact). He always calls the "CIA chaps" a "bunch of cowboys" whose operations are "bull-headed" and "obtuse". After what I've seen, firsthand, and learned, secondhand, and what history documents of Agency operations, it seems this is their general modus operandi since they were birthed from the old OSS.

Just a question: How in Hell are we supposed to get the Afghan people to accept a democratic central government in Kabul when the puppet president's brother is a drug lord protected by America's clandestine service?

When you read, "... helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the C.I.A.’s direction ...", think "private army" and "paid assassins" (the only reason the Agency would use 'indigenous personnel' is to preserve deniability). If it goes wrong (certainly not outside the realm of possibility), the blowback will be extraordinary.

For those of us who were players in "Charlie Wilson's War", it wouldn't be a far reach to suppose the reason bin Laden hasn't been caught is that he too is protected, a bogey man to drag out when Americans need to be scared into compliance. Wouldn't put it past any of the characters at Langley, especially since they've had practically free reign for the past 8 years.

Having Karzai's brother on the payroll can only end badly.


More Agency hijinks:


In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the CIA and the wider intelligence community, is putting cash into Visible Technologies, a software firm that specializes in monitoring social media. It’s part of a larger movement within the spy services to get better at using ”open source intelligence” — information that’s publicly available, but often hidden in the flood of TV shows, newspaper articles, blog posts, online videos and radio reports generated every day.


Never trust 'em, never let 'em off the leash.

Thanks to Ol' Fez for the link.

Once again ...

The Dems have shown their willingness to be played. Joe Liberman's vote ain't worth the tsurrus he's given us. Shoulda kicked his ass loose after the 2006 election, let alone after he went out on the trail with McCain last year.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, the independent Democrat from Connecticut, emerged Tuesday afternoon from a meeting with his caucus as the center of attention -- again.

On his way in, he told reporters that if a public health insurance option was in the final health care bill, he would join a GOP filibuster to prevent it from getting an up or down vote. HuffPost asked him if there'd been much reaction from his colleagues in the Democratic caucus.


Didn't he say he was with us on everything but the war? Thought so. How's that working out now?

1/3 ...

That's how big a percentage of our health care dollars are wasted:

In the wake of its shocking assessment that employer-provided health insurance now covers only 54.6% of the American people, Thomson Reuters released a disturbing assessment of wasteful spending in the U.S. health care system. Echoing the estimates of Obama OMB chief Peter Orszag and others, the analysis highlighted by Keith Olbermann[*] Tuesday concluded that the United States wastes up to $700 billion a year - a third of the nation's total $2 trillion health care spending.


And we're worried about what a 'public option' would do to the deficit? Big Healthcare is already bankrupting us, and then throwing 30% of what we pay them away. How is what we have now better? At least, with the government, you have someone to bitch to and threaten with our votes. The boards of directors of the HMOs don't give a shit.

*Video at the link.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

U.S. Continues Quagmire-Building Effort In Afghanistan

From The World's Best News Source:

"We've made a complete mess of local institutions, and moving forward this substantial lack of infrastructure will be the cornerstone of our strategy to ensure long-term chaos in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region," said Gates, gesturing to a complex, 6-foot-tall wall map of what were either newly established al-Qaeda bases in Waziristan, tribal trade routes over the Hindu Kush, or perhaps U.S. military outposts of some kind. "I couldn't be happier with our progress. This place is a complete clusterfuck."

A number of Pentagon officials said they were proudly holding on to their false glimmer of hope for a victory that remains forever out of reach, and explained that waging a war that can only end in sorrow has validated all their efforts.

The loose network of warlords who rule the Afghan countryside were also optimistic about quagmire-building efforts.

"Our nation is already impossibly fragmented, but I believe the United States has the ability to make things even worse here," said a local tribal leader, who asked to speak anonymously due to his constantly shifting alliances with the two sides. "Afghanistan has a proud, ancient tradition of quagmires: Soviet Russia, the British Empire, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan. These are big shoes to fill, but if anyone can do it, these foolish Americans can."

Yeah, we're good at that.

"We have so much to thank the Americans for," said Marshal Muhammad Qasim Fahim, a notorious warlord who will become vice president if Karzai wins a runoff election scheduled for Nov. 7. "Not only have they created a lawless environment that has allowed us to capture 90 percent of the opium market, but their heroin habits have made a few of us very rich."

"I love the Americans and I hope they stay for many years," he added. "Many, many, many, many years."

I'm sure you do.

Marijuana legalization expected to go to ballot in California

Raw Story

Opponents of a plan to legalize marijuana for personal possession in California have conceded that supporters of the measure are likely to get their proposal on a statewide ballot, the New York Times revealed in a longer story about possible legalization Wednesday.

California lawmakers are taking up a bill that would legalize, tax and regulate marijuana, a first in the United States. Officials estimate the bill could bring in an additional $1.4 billion a year, a huge sum of money in a state bedeviled by financial woes.

Proponents of the leading ballot initiative have collected nearly 300,000 signatures since late September, supporters say, easily on pace to qualify for the November 2010 general election. Richard Lee, a longtime marijuana activist who is behind the measure, says he has raised nearly $1 million to hire professionals to assist volunteers in gathering the signatures.

“Voters are ripping the petitions out of our hands,” Mr. Lee said.

Despite widespread support, however, the bill would almost certainly run into thorns with federal law, which classifies marijuana as an illegal substance. Some supporters are encouraged, though, by the Obama Administration's announcement that they will not prosecute those involved in the medical marijuana trade.

Fuck the feds. Let's vote it in and cross that bridge when we come to it.

Our much-maligned ballot initiative process looks like it may be coming through in a good way like it does every few blue moons or so.

Click here for your free marijuana booklet.

Don't hurt yerself Fixer. The booklet is free, not the cheeb. Heh.

Quote of the Day

Levi Johnston: ‘I have things that will hurt’ Sarah Palin

Note to Levi: Ain't you supposed to appear nekkid in some magazine pretty soon? That's a helluva hole to fill. You better have the goods, kid.

"...the next California gold rush."

Oh fucking swell. I hope it works out better than the unmitigated disaster the last one was.

Yes, California is as fucked-up as Hogan's goat. No, short of The Big One we're not going away, despite the efforts of every Repug governor and generations of screwed-up legislators in my (long) memory.

I don't give reading assignments, but I'd really like you to read this Time cover article. Quite long, and speaking as the Brain's California expert (cough), quite good.

Notice that the magazine cover is a circuit board in the shape of the state. A 'tank circuit' perhaps, signifying the tank we're supposed to be going into?

California, you may have heard, is an apocalyptic mess of raging wildfires, soaring unemployment, mass foreclosures and political paralysis. It's dysfunctional. It's ungovernable. Its bond rating is barely above junk. It's so broke, it had to hand out IOUs while its leaders debated how many prisoners to release and parks to close. Nevada aired ads mocking California's business climate to lure its entrepreneurs. The media portray California as a noir fantasyland of overcrowded schools, perpetual droughts, celebrity breakdowns, illegal immigration, hellish congestion and general malaise, captured in headlines like "Meltdown on the Ocean" and "California's Wipeout Economy" and "Will California Become America's First Failed State?"

Actually, it won't.

nore the California whinery. It's still a dream state. In fact, the pioneering megastate that gave us microchips, freeways, blue jeans, tax revolts, extreme sports, energy efficiency, health clubs, Google searches, Craigslist, iPhones and the Hollywood vision of success is still the cutting edge of the American future — economically, environmentally, demographically, culturally and maybe politically. It's the greenest and most diverse state, the most globalized in general and most Asia-oriented in particular at a time when the world is heading in all those directions. It's also an unparalleled engine of innovation, the mecca of high tech, biotech and now clean tech. In 2008, California's wipeout economy attracted more venture capital than the rest of the nation combined. Somehow its supposedly hostile business climate has nurtured Google, Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Facebook, Twitter, Disney, Cisco, Intel, eBay, YouTube, MySpace, the Gap and countless other companies that drive the way we live.

Today, it's still the home of the new new thing. It is electric-vehicle start-ups like Tesla, Fisker and Better Place taking on the Big Three, or the local-organic foodies behind California cuisine going after Big Ag. It's Kaiser Permanente, the HMO whose model of salaried doctors in group practice may be the future of health care, or the University of California at Irvine's law school, which opened this semester with free tuition and was instantly more selective than Harvard or Yale. It's SpaceX, the private rocket-launching company, or Kogi, the Korean taco truck that announces its location over Twitter to flash mobs of Angelenos. "The beauty of California is the idea that you can reinvent yourself and do something totally creative," says Kogi's Roy Choi, a former chef at the Beverly Hilton. "It's still the Wild West that way."

I could quote the article for days. But I won't. I wanta go get a taco, extra kimchee, please...

California, to borrow a phrase, will be back.

Me too, and I hope my breath will blister paint after a coupla them (con)fusion tacos. Enjoy.

A ukelele in the land of Stratocasters

Garrison Keillor on getting out of Afghanistan. Worth a read.

We don't admire quitters, but no one wants to be the last person to believe in a mission, either.

On the other hand, you don't want to be the last man to believe in the mission after everyone else has seen the light and gone home. Sunday in San Francisco, they set out to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Woodstock by gathering 3,000 guitarists in Golden Gate Park to play Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze" and 50 showed up and some of them were playing ukuleles. The '60s are over. Time to move on.

A friend of mine wrote a song about exactly that. It's about a guy picking up an old hippie hitchhiker and the chorus goes something like:

"Take a bath and get a job, drag a comb across your head.
The '60s are over now and Jerry Garcia's dead."

Garrison musta been to one of the local jams. Heh.

I may be the last holdout around here on Eff'dghanistan, as Jon Stewart calls it, but my mind is starting to change.

Once upon a time* we maybe coulda done some good there, but there's no longer much point in trying to set Bush's mistakes right. Lord knows, there's plenty of those, but Afghanistan was let go and ignored for far too long.

As far as "you don't want to be the last man to believe in the mission after everyone else has seen the light and gone home" goes, I must hurry and catch up with the others, for I am their leader.

I don't have a ukelele and don't know the chord for "Purple Haze" anyway, but I can play "Red River Valley" on the throwout bearing of this wore-out ol' VW bus with the clutch pedal...

*Traditional start for fairy tales.

Boiling Frogs

Frenchmen in a hot tub? No, Sibel Edmonds has a new website dedicated to truth in journalism. Her first line in bold print is:

“It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds.”

We are what Sam Adams referred to as ‘the irate minority.’ [...]

Jesus Christ, Sibel, so are Limpbaugh and the fucking teabaggers!

I hope you prevail and not them.

Free Speech, Free Commerce Threatened by "Free Trade" Champion

Go read this at Common Dreams, links at site:

WASHINGTON - October 23 - Hundreds of activist organizations had their internet service turned off last night after the US Chamber of Commerce strong-armed an upstream provider, Hurricane Electric, to pull the plug on The Yes Men and May First / People Link, a 400-member-strong organization with a strong commitment to protecting free speech.

"This is a blow against free speech, and it demonstrates in gory detail the full hypocrisy of the Chamber," said Andy Bichlbaum of The Yes Men. "The only freedom they care about is the economic freedom of large corporations to operate free of the hassles of science, reality, and democracy."

After suffering embarrassment at the hands of the Yes Men on Monday, the Chamber immediately threatened legal action, then followed through Thursday by sending a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notice to Hurricane Electric Internet Services. In the DMCA notice, the Chamber claimed that the parody Chamber website operated by The Yes Men constituted copyright infringement, and demanded that the site be shut down immediately and that the creator's service be canceled.

Yes, let's not bother with the legal niceties of actually proving copyright infringement in a court of law. Hell, we might lose. Let's fuck with 'em like we have the right to do that like we would in a perfect Amurikkka. IOKIYAR.

But the Yes Men are not served directly by Hurricane Electric, but by May First / People Link. And when Hurricane Electric shut down the fake Chamber of Commerce site (now relocated), they also took down the websites of 400 other organizations.

May First / People Link fought back. They immediately "mirrored" the site, and then quickly negotiated with Hurricane Electric to restore service to their other members.

I'll bet the 'negotiations' involved phrases like 'restraint of trade' and 'sue yer shorts off'.

This isn't the first time a Yes Men site has found itself targeted by a DMCA complaint brought by a large corporation. The Yes Men have in the past received DMCA notices from Exxon, Dow Chemical, DeBeers, and the New York Times. In each case, the the Yes Men (represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation) refused to comply, and prevailed. Even the George W. Bush campaign sent a complaint to try to interrupt service to, in 2000, resulting in extensive ridicule that culminated in Bush's mind-boggling gaffe that "There ought to be limits to freedom."

So what's next? Complain about your utility company and they shut your electricity off because you can't call the emperor names?

The US Chamber of Commerce isn't really a chamber of commerce. It's just a bunch of throwback right winger lobbyists who think business and trade should be left alone to go its greedy way unfettered by law, science, or reason. There aren't as many of them as they say, and they're losing membership pretty quickly due to their ignorant stance on climate change. They're the wizard behind the curtain pretending they have great power when they actually have none. All they can do is bully and apparently this ISP fell for it. Chumps. Hey dudes, the Reagan/Bush era is over whether you like it or not.

They need to be prosecuted over this deal.

Everybody hates Grayson ...

So you know he's doing the right thing:


The problem here is that Grayson makes a lot of people uncomfortable. The right hates him for obvious reasons. He is willing to call them out on their own terms and they just aren't used to that. But let's face it, he also makes the Democratic establishment nervous. He indicts them when he indicts the system of legalized bribery and inside job thievery that takes place among the ruling class of both parties. Many others are just made socially uncomfortable by someone who says impolitic things. (I don't call the Democrats the "don't make trouble" party for nothing.)They all have reason to be out for his head.


Keep going, pal. You didn't go to Congress to make friends, you went there to represent your constituents. Do right by them and you'll have nothing to worry about.

It ain't just us ...

Who see Afghanistan as a no-win situation:

When Matthew Hoh joined the Foreign Service early this year, he was exactly the kind of smart civil-military hybrid the administration was looking for to help expand its development efforts in Afghanistan.


But last month, in a move that has sent ripples all the way to the White House, Hoh, 36, became the first U.S. official known to resign in protest over the Afghan war, which he had come to believe simply fueled the insurgency.

"I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purposes of the United States' presence in Afghanistan," he wrote Sept. 10 in a four-page letter to the department's head of personnel. "I have doubts and reservations about our current strategy and planned future strategy, but my resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end." [my em]


You and me both, pal. The only reason we went there to begin with was to give George Bush and the neocons a stepping stone into Iraq. Any goals they had to turn Afghanistan into some sort of democratic nation and "bring them freedom" was all bullshit to get the American people on a war footing; to tie Saddam to al-Qaeda. Believe you me, were it not their route to Iraq, we wouldn't be there right now. We should call it as such, pack up, and get out.

Great thanks to Nicole for the link.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hey, There's a Senate Health Care Bill That Doesn't Suck

Go read The Rude One on Reid's inclusion of the public option. Links at site.

In the scheme of things, on the already rigged-to-the-right playing field that we were given, Senator Harry Reid's announcement yesterday that the Senate version of the health care reform bill will contain a public option, with the stupid-states-can-bail opt-out clause, was actually a victory of sorts for the left. Sure, sure, the whole public option debate is about a moderately conservative approach to getting insurance to the uninsured. But, at this point in the degraded American health care system, we could very well have had a bill that said the insurance companies couldn't walk into hospital rooms, shoot patients in the head, and fuck the bullet hole in front of their families. Of course, had such a bill been offered, progressives would be told to suck it up, that it's reform, that at least fewer people would have their head wounds fucked by insurers and isn't that an improvement?

So, relative to the terms of the debate, this is one small, sweet success for the left in the Democratic Party. It's an in-yer-fookin-gob moment to the teabaggers, their faux movement, and their remora-like politicians and media figures. They've been marginalized and shoved out of the debate for the time being.

Of course, for some, as with any perceived victory by liberals, it's just weakness and pandering on the part of Congressional supporters. In a pathetically sad column, Dana Milbank goes after Harry Reid, saying that his announcement of the bill is more about propping up his re-election bid than about doing the right thing. Milbank writes, "As Democratic aides described it, the moment had less to do with health-care policy than with Nevada politics -- and one vulnerable senator's justifiable fear of liberal anger."

There's a notion implicit in what Milbank is saying, beyond his clinging to the bipartisan ghost, that, if liberal groups support what Reid said, it will fail. Milbank mocks Reid for not being sure if he has the votes to pass the legislation. It presupposes something else: that liberals are wrong. It's what much of the media always presupposes, that if liberals want something, it must be against the interests of the country because it's not "moderate" (which really means "conservative"). Somebody's power was gonna be asserted in the bill - left, right, corporate. You just want to raise your hand and say, "Umm, can you tell us what we on the left were wrong about in the last decade or so? No, really, what have you got?" All Milbank has is snide, oh-so-insider-y insinuation and worthless failure-mongering.

Still, for a moment here, and against the sayers of nay, like Milbank (not to mention the insanitoid rantings from the actual right wing), we can be satisfied that progressives didn't roll over, that we stood strong, and that we were able to push that fucking boulder of health care reform forward. The question remaining is whether we're Hercules or Sisyphus.

Let's hope it's not Sisyphus. Been there, done that since the dawn of the Reagan era which has passed for the moment.

Let's also hope Congress realizes that Hercules was not tasked with refilling the Augean stables after he cleaned them.

Springsteen and Jon Stewart too!

Ex-U.S. Attorney & Current Rove Flunky Sinking Fast In NJ Governor Race -- Verse-Case Scenario by Tony Peyser

Voters aren't getting misty about Chris Christie
Of him, they'll soon wash their manos.
In related news, doesn't he look like Bacala
Who was a capo on "The Sopranos?"

To us innocent Westerners, everybody from New Jersey looks like that!

Prosecutorial misconduct in the Chicago Reich

Retired Judge H. Lee Sarokin:

I am always offended and annoyed with the labeling of some recent conduct or person with Nazism or Hitler or drawing analogies with the Holocaust and thereby belittling those horrific events in our history with some current less appalling and even minor occurrences. But I truly believe that the attempt of prosecutors to subpoena "the grades, grading criteria, class syllabus, expense reports and e-mail messages of their journalism students themselves" at Northwestern University warrants and deserves the Gestapo label.

It is a flagrant attempt to intimidate the Medill Innocence Project and other similar projects which have been so successful in overturning wrongful convictions. The alleged justification is that the prosecutors want to determine "whether students believed that they would receive better grades if witnesses they interviewed provided evidence to exonerate Mr. McKinney." So I take it that would mean that every time a detective obtained incriminating evidence, his entire background could be examined in order to determine his motives when interviewing a witness; whether he had received or expected a raise or a promotion; and if so whether he needed money; how much his debt was; what he was paying for rent and alimony, etc. In other words, the scope of the investigation would be extended to the motives of the investigator rather than the witness being investigated and interrogated.

Then there is the equally significant question of whether information directly relating to the guilt or innocence of the defendant can be sought from student journalists. Whether there is or should be a reporter's privilege has been the subject of great debate. If the prosecutor here were seeking incriminating (rather than exonerating) evidence derived from the student interviews, I would gladly withdraw my Gestapo label. At least in that instance, their purpose, but not necessarily their legal position, would be justified and acceptable. But the effort to investigate the students themselves warrants that label. The spokesperson for the prosecutor's office defends its actions:

"At the end of the day, all we're seeking is the same thing these students are: justice and truth." Rather it seems that they are trying to suppress the truth and subvert justice.

I'm all for actual criminals going to prison, but the judge is absolutely right and the prosecutor's office is fulla shit. Prosecutors do not seek 'truth and justice', they seek convictions. It's how they keep score. Sometimes they're not too ethical in how they go about it, and view exculpatory evidence as something to be suppressed in their goal. They have the awesome power of the state behind them in their efforts, whether for good or ill, and don't seem to mind locking up an innocent person occasionally if their conviction rate demands it or it proves too difficult for the police to find the actual criminal. This seems to me to be particularly true in the case of people of color, and what the hell, they all look alike anyway and one is as good as any other.

They don't like having their convictions overturned, either. It makes them look bad and it should.

The flip side of this is that these are journalism students, young and idealistic about their chosen field, which is a good thing as we desperately need more idealism in journalism these days about speaking truth to power. They're learning about the real world and what happens when they take on the establishment. The ones who survive will be the wiser for it.

The only place you'll see this realistic view of prosecutors on TV in our "damn the facts, lock 'em up!" society on any kind of regular basis is in the character of the pathetic ADA Sonya on L&O:SVU, which I only watch out of unrequited lust a sense of loyalty to a former Miss My Home Town who appears on it.

My view of prosecutors comes from years of experience in my town's defendant pool. Once one of the usual suspects, I am now a Defendant Emeritus. Our motto is "I'm gettin' too old for this shit".

Franken on medical bankruptcies

From Firedoglake's YouTube channel:

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) humbles Hudson Institute dilettante over health care bankruptcies
This during a senate Judiciary sub-committee hearing on bankruptcies driven by catastrophic medical expenses

No shit ...

CNN's ratings have crashed through the basement floor:


Wolf Blitzer has two traits, incredible blandness and mixed with stupidity; Larry King is a horrid mix of Charlie Rose and Methuselah. CNN tries to play off the notion it doesn't "spin" news, but what the heck is Lou Dobbs? Dobbs ratings are terrible, so bad that when his contract is up he won't even be able to do the "Tucker Carlson Failure Tour" and hit each and every cable news network while circling the drain. MSNBC doesn't want him, even FoxNews doesn't want him.

If Lou wants to work in TV, it looks like he'll have to do news on Telemundo.


I was hoping Wolfie wasn't really as dumb as he acts but I guess it ain't an act (I only tune in when I get home from work to see Jack). When I see Larry King, I half expect him to keel over any second, wondering if paramedics are always waiting just off-camera. I won't get into Fox-wannabe Lou Dobbs.

If CNN wants to recapture its former ratings glory, the first thing to do is pay Ted Turner a lot of money to come back. Then clean house and find some anchors like Bernie Shaw, you know, with some brains in their head instead of a 60 mph wind blowing between their ears.

Even George Will ...

Ain't buying Cheney's schtick anymore:

Conservative columnist George Will went after former Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday, saying the Bush administration could have used some "dithering" before they invaded Iraq.


"A bit of dithering might have been in order before we went into Iraq in pursuit of non-existent weapons of mass destruction," Will said on ABC's "This Week. "For a representative of the Bush administration to accuse someone of taking too much time is missing the point. We have much more to fear in this town from hasty than from slow government action."


Too bad he couldn't have had this epiphany in '02 and '03 (considering the platform he has, it might have done some good), but then he would have been an un-American traitorous bastid. Today he's a straight shooter.

Great thanks to Maru for the link.

Real good ...

Captain Obvious. From Mr. Supertrain in toto:

According to Dana Bash, the public option made it into the Senate bill because Reid and others started to get worried that if they don't throw a bone to the base voters then they won't turnout and they'll lose their jobs.

I'm glad these assholes are finally getting the fact that without a 'public option', their days in Congress are numbered.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Poking the Cobra

Will Durst via YubaNet.

Now is the time for all good men to put their hands together, pull them apart and rapidly put them back together again, and repeat, to give props to the president for not curling up into a fetal position with a "Kick Me" sign taped to his butt. You know. Like a Democrat.

He's taking it straight to his perceived enemy, calling both Fox News and Rush Limbaugh radical and out of the mainstream, making the two crazier than a preacher at a whorehouse with a parishioner working the door. Because that is exactly what they say about him. Methinks there may be a bad case of "can dish it out but not take it" going around.

Yep. They dish it out, deny it, can't take it, lie about it. Typical wingnut M.O.

Though he lacks military service, Barack Obama seems to grasp the concept of "target acquired." Obviously, this sustained adversarial offensive is all part of a choreographed campaign to marginalize critics. An effort to paint the GOP as a wee bit of a sliver of a party, chock full of pro-rape, white, Southern ditto-heads and fringe-licking extremists. Following the script perfected by that fabled wartime tactician: Karl Rove. If you're going to steal, take from the best.

It must be said that refusing to appear on Fox News does seem to fly in the face of the president's official policy to open a dialogue with all evil-doers. Which normally, he does. Iran. Hamas. North Korea. Syria. Everyone it seems, except Rupert Murdoch. "If we want fair and balanced, we'll get our fair and balanced from MSNBC, thank you very much." Not very Peace Prize-ish if you ask me.

A final concern is all this fresh flummery could cause Rush to bloat up to dirigible size and then explode, which some experts say may force the evacuation of the entire Eastern Seaboard due to fears of Oxycontin contamination. But most importantly, Obama needs to keep in mind the advice my father regularly spouted after his third six-pack: never get in a fight with an ugly person; he's got nothing to lose. You know. Like a Republican.

Freedom's just another word
For nothing left to lose.

I'll be glad when the Repugs set themselves free. Please go read the rest.

"She'll do down on you like a Hoover set on deep pile."

If the thought of gettin' yer knob polished by Olympia Snowe doesn't send ya screaming inta the woods, go read The Rude Pundit.

As for me, a double bleach straight up an' a side of heroin, please.

A coupla Quotes of the Day

From P.M.Carpenter in a larger article about health care:

Open a party's flaps and you get Big Tent Chaos; close them and you get small-minded, ideological insurgency -- either way, and in any combination, you get a legislative brick wall.

Nothing a suitable application of high explosives won't fix, old chap!

Sure, Congressional Democrats are, uh, dispiriting. But even the slightly suggested prospect of a Speaker John Boehner? A Majority Leader Eric Cantor? Pass the Prozac -- and supersize me on that.

A 55 gallon drum oughta do it...

Obama Signs Veterans Health Care Budget Reform

This is from a few days ago. Better late than never...

From Obama-Mamas (I swear!), includes video and full text of the Prez's remarks:

Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director & Founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) announced some “big news” this afternoon. The President signed THE VETERANS HEALTH CARE BUDGET REFORM AND TRANSPARENCY ACT, permanently changing the funding process for VA healthcare.

Inexplicably, the VA used to have to request funds each and every quarter. Probably had something to do with not giving Vets what they had coming for too awfully long after their services to the country with rifles in their hands were no longer required. This now appears to be fixed. I say 'appears' because I'll believe it when I see it. Veterans will understand that because they know that anything involving bennies for the troops is usually as fucked up as Hogan's goat, to use an old apocryphal Marine Corps saying.

From the President's remarks:

We dramatically increased funding for veterans health care: more care for women’s veterans, for our wounded warriors from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, traumatic brain injuries. For 500,000 “Priority 8″ veterans, we’re restoring VA health care coverage.

I'm a Priority 8. These are Vets with no service-connected health problems who were allowed into the VA program in the '90s when the VA was starting to run out of WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam customers with service-connected health issues. Luckily, I needed health benefits before Vets started coming back from Iraq all fucked up and strained the system to the breaking point.

All told, we have made the biggest commitment to veterans — the largest percentage increase in the VA budget — in more than 30 years. (Applause.) And this includes funding the post-9/11 GI Bill — making sure it works as intended so our newest veterans and their families have the chance to pursue their education and live out their dreams.

But we’re here today because a problem that’s gone on for far too long — the delays and uncertainty that often plague funding for veterans’ health care. Over the past two decades, the VA budget has been late almost every year, often by months.

At this very moment, the VA is operating without a budget, making it harder for VA medical centers and clinics to deliver the care our vets need. The hardworking folks at the VA know this. I was there at headquarters this spring. Michelle was there — if I’m not mistaken, Ric — just this Tuesday. It’s frustrating for them and it’s frustrating for our vets who pay the price when budgets are delayed: the new doctors, nurses, and critical staff that aren’t hired; the new medical equipment that isn’t purchased; the construction of new facilities and clinics that isn’t started; the new programs for medical care that are delayed.

This is inexcusable. It’s unacceptable. It’s time for it to stop. And that’s just what we’ll do with this landmark legislation — the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act.

Good. Finally we may me leaving behind the Bush-era (shudder!) philosophy of 'no pull trigger, no get food'.

Also out of the House and under consideration by the Senate according to Nancy Pelosi's website is:

...the Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act, to help service members take full advantage of homebuyer incentives.

I bought my first house with a Vietnam Era GI Bill loan guarantee. I hope this one passes and helps Vets out.

Veterans are more unique than ever in this society of me-me-me where most people never give a thought to anyone but themselves or recognize that someone actually sacrifices some time and maybe some blood or their life so they can have that despicable attitude without ever having to think about it other than putting a little yellow Chinese magnetic ribbon on their SUVs.

Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines know that in the final analysis, their job is to stop bullets so the rest of Americans don't have to, or even have to think about why they're safe in their beds.

We owe Veterans a hell of a lot more than what they've been getting and I'm glad the Prez signed this bill.

Oh, the irony...

Ironic Times

New Formula Adds 7 Million To Ranks of Poverty
They're now eligible to receive lip service.

Belief in Global Warming Wanes
Most Americans more concerned about Mayan calendar, Illuminati.

Denver Newspaper to Hire Medicinal Marijuana Reviewer
Publisher still sifting through 375,000 résumés.

??? ~ News Quiz ~ ???

T. Boone Pickens says the U. S. is “entitled” to Iraqi oil because:
A ) We spent a trillion dollars to get our hands on it.
B ) Our brave soldiers fought and died for it.
C ) We destroyed their country for it.
D ) Our government is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Exxon/Mobil.
Hint: Actually, Chevron also has a piece.

But war is more important ...

Than health care for all. Right? Greenwald:


So according to The Washington Post, dropping bombs on, controlling and occupying Afghanistan -- all while simultaneously ensuring "effective governance, economic development, education, the elimination of corruption, the protection of women's rights" to Afghan citizens in Afghanistan -- is an absolutely vital necessity that must be done no matter the cost. But providing basic services (such as health care) to American citizens, in the U.S., is a secondary priority at best, something totally unnecessary that should wait for a few years or a couple decades until we can afford it and until our various wars are finished, if that ever happens. "U.S. interests in South Asia" are paramount; U.S. interests in the welfare of those in American cities, suburbs and rural areas are an afterthought.

As demented as that sounds, isn't that exactly the priority scheme we've adopted as a country? We're a nation that couldn't even manage to get clean drinking water to our own citizens who were dying in the middle of New Orleans. We have tens of thousands of people dying every year because they lack basic health care coverage. The rich-poor gap continues to expand to third-world levels. And The Post claims that war and "nation-building" in Afghanistan are crucial while health care for Americans is not because "wars, unlike entitlement programs, eventually come to an end."


If 45,000 Americans died per annum from a certain cause (from any other cause than the lack of health insurance), you can bet we'd have declared war on it. Instead, we bankrupt ourselves in a war we will never win while Americans lose their homes and become destitute attempting to make and keep themselves healthy.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Summer camp ...

Feels like summer here in NY for the past few days. Yeah, more French music but we had it on while I was working on the Mrs.' office today. This is one of our favorites:

Pierre Perret - Les Jolies Colonies de Vacances*

*The Beautiful Summer Camps

Take warning, 'tards

Rita Hosking is a local folkie in my area code. The other side of the hill down in Gold Country, I think.

Cousin Jack was the name given to the Cornish miners who came to California and Nevada in the 19th century.

This goes out to all Repugs.

Rita Hosking & Cousin Jack ~ Sow It On The Mountain

Thanks to Rita Hosking.

A little Sunday afternoon flatpickin'

Doc Watson plays a guitar pretty good for a guy who's never seen one...

I've always loved the interesting anecdote that Doc developed his now legendary flatpicking style while playing a Les Paul (electric solid body guitar) while he was playing in a Rockabilly band in the 1950's. Additionally, I've heard that he actually didn't even own an acoustic guitar at that time.

I've always wondered what kind of reception a picker would get at the National Flatpicking Contest in Winfield Kansas if he were to show up to compete with a Les Paul in hand!

Well, according to the rules, he could play it, he just couldn't plug it in.

Doc Watson ~ Black Mountain Rag

Thanks to UncleSkidder.

Dallas Pendejo Dept. Gives Traffic Tickets For Not Speaking English

Raw Story

Police officers in Dallas, TX have issued at least 39 citations to drivers in the last three years for the non-existent infraction of not speaking English.

Police Chief David Kunkle has apologized publicly to the city's Spanish-speaking community. "I was stunned that this would happen," Kunkle stated. "In my world, you would never tell someone not to speak Spanish."

All pending citations will be dismissed, fines will be returned, and the offices involved will be investigated for dereliction of duty.

It's a sad commentary that people would actually pay fines for bogus tickets out of ignorance and/or fear than go against the system even a little bit.

Go see the photo of the lady who finally questioned this bullshit. Good on ya, Señora Mondragon.

According to WFAA, "Brenda Mondragon said her mother is still learning English. She added that she believes Officer Bromley -- who is still in training -- clearly needs more of it. "

Pinches chotas.

Note: besides being slang for 'cop', chota is also slang for 'taint' and for sitting in the middle in the back seat. Heh.