Saturday, January 31, 2009

Who Is Footing The Bill For This Crazy Mom/Baby Factory?

(Pictured above are as many of the 50-plus members of the Kaiser Ob-Gyn staff
which delivered the vanity octuplets in Whittier, CA, earlier this month as would fit.)

We demand licenses of people to operate machinery and carry a gun.

But anybody can apparently strew their illegitimate 'get" across the landscape in the full confidence that somewhere, somehow, somebody (the Govt, in one form or another) will be around to pick up the tab for it? It's already run into the low 7-figures, I am sure.

I am, of course, referring to the clearly crazy woman in Whittier, Ca (home of another famously crazy, egotistical asswipe, RM Nixon) who fertilized 8 eggs in vitro, and decided to bear all eight when all the eggs were impregnated, despite the fact that she already had SIX fatherless kids --ages 7, 7, 5, 3 and a pair of two-year-old twins-- at home already.

How much does it cost to keep each one of those one-pound 'babies' alive til they can live unsupported by hospital care? A million bucks per kid? How much to repair the injuries they suffered for not being borne after a full-term? Multiple millions.

From an Yahoo story:
The cost of taking care of multiples is huge," said Dr. Vicken Sahakian, director of the Pacific Fertility Center in Los Angeles. "It's not going to finish when the babies go home. There's a high likelihood they're going to have (long-term) medical and psychological handicaps."
Even if costs are borne by insurance, how much will the premiums of those in the same plan as the prolific 'mom' rise to accommodate those costs of these hideously expensive preemies?

And what do the citizens get for this largess?

Eight more hungry mouths to feed because the "mother" is unemployed--and unemployable, since she'll have to stay home with her brood. Is she 'counting on the kindness of strangers?' What are the mother or those children gonna do to repay that investment? What will they do that will make them 'worth' it?

But the good news is that the mom didn't abort any of them. That is good news, right? I am sorry if I seem unsympathetic, but her strangely self-absorbed and selfish act seems to me to militate AGAINST her fitness as a mother. I would favor a court-ordered ban, until and unless she she can demonstrate that she, alone, can afford to house, clothe, and feed these little ego-bombs for Mom.

Grandma: Octuplets' mom obsessed with having kids
By RAQUEL MARIA DILLON, Associated Press Writer Sat Jan 31, 10:30 am ET
LOS ANGELES – The woman who gave birth to octuplets this week conceived all 14 of her children through in vitro fertilization, is not married and has been obsessed with having children since she was a teenager, her mother said.

Angela Suleman told The Associated Press she was not supportive when her daughter, Nadya Suleman, decided to have more embryos implanted last year.

"It can't go on any longer," she said in a phone interview Friday. "She's got six children and no husband. I was brought up the traditional way. I firmly believe in marriage. But she didn't want to get married."

Nadya Suleman, 33, gave birth Monday in nearby Bellflower. She was expected to remain in the hospital for at least a few more days, and her newborns for at least a month.

A spokeswoman at Kaiser Permanente Bellflower Medical Center said the babies were doing well and seven were breathing unassisted.

While her daughter recovers, Angela Suleman is taking care of the other six children, ages 2 through 7, at the family home in Whittier, about 15 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

She said she warned her daughter that when she gets home from the hospital, "I'm going to be gone."

Angela Suleman said her daughter always had trouble conceiving and underwent in vitro fertilization treatments because her fallopian tubes are "plugged up."

There were frozen embryos left over after her previous pregnancies and her daughter didn't want them destroyed, so she decided to have more children.

Her mother and doctors have said the woman was told she had the option to abort some of the embryos and, later, the fetuses. She refused.

Her mother said she does not believe her daughter will have any more children.

"She doesn't have any more (frozen embryos), so it's over now," she said. "It has to be."

Nadya Suleman wanted to have children since she was a teenager, "but luckily she couldn't," her mother said.

"Instead of becoming a kindergarten teacher or something, she started having them, but not the normal way," he mother said.

Her daughter's obsession with children caused Angela Suleman considerable stress, so she sought help from a psychologist, who told her to order her daughter out of the house.

"Maybe she wouldn't have had so many kids then, but she is a grown woman," Angela Suleman said. "I feel responsible and I didn't want to throw her out."

Yolanda Garcia, 49, of Whittier, said she helped care for Nadya Suleman's autistic son three years ago.

"From what I could tell back then, she was pretty happy with herself, saying she liked having kids and she wanted 12 kids in all," Garcia told the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

"She told me that all of her kids were through in vitro, and I said 'Gosh, how can you afford that and go to school at the same time?"' she added. "And she said it's because she got paid for it."

Garcia said she did not ask for details.

Nadya Suleman holds a 2006 degree in child and adolescent development from California State University, Fullerton, and as late as last spring she was studying for a master's degree in counseling, college spokeswoman Paula Selleck told the Press-Telegram.

Her fertility doctor has not been identified. Her mother told the Los Angeles Times all the children came from the same sperm donor but she declined to identify him.

Birth certificates reviewed by The Associated Press identify a David Solomon as the father for the four oldest children. Certificates for the other children were not immediately available.

The news that the octuplets' mother already had six children sparked an ethical debate. Some medical experts were disturbed to hear that she was offered fertility treatment, and troubled by the possibility that she was implanted with so many embryos.

Others worried that she would be overwhelmed trying to raise so many children and would end up relying on public support.

The eight babies — six boys and two girls — were delivered by Cesarean section weighing between 1 pound, 8 ounces and 3 pounds, 4 ounces. Forty-six physicians and staff assisted in the deliveries.
Let me repeat that: Forty-six physicians assisted? That's gotta be half a million bucks right there...

What's the pay-back?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Now THIS Is What I Call "Cat Blogging"


Wicked Witchcraft: Vexacious Hexing In Okie-dom



While the ACLU has defended students' religious beliefs in Wicca and other minority religions, the Oklahoma lawsuit is believed to be the first in the country involving accusations of 'actual' witchcraft.

From PZ Myers, at Pharyngula (an avid atheist)
Going back to our Puritan roots
Category: Religion
Posted on: January 30, 2009 7:36 AM, by PZ Myers

The ACLU is suing Union Public School Independent District No. 9 of Oklahoma. The reason is bizarre: administrators at the school have harrassed and violated the civil rights of a young woman named Brandi Blackbear because — and I'm a bit ashamed to admit this can go on in my country — they accused her of witchcraft. They say she used a magic spell to make one of her teachers sick. In retaliation, she has been subjected to searches and public humiliation, and the school has banned the wearing of non-Christian paraphernalia.

I'm pretty sure this is the 21st century, not the 17th. You would have a tough time noticing it if you relied on religious attitudes to tell.

The article mentions that they'd like to see the school show some evidence that Blackbear actually hexed anyone. This is not a good idea. From their track record so far, the Oklahoma school administrators might think the appropriate way to do that is to call in a witchfinder and throw Blackbear into a pond, or search her for witchmarks with a large needle. And if those don't work, there are always thumbscrews and the rack. They'll get a confession eventually.
It's the 21st Century everywhere except Okiedom. There it's still 1700. I Spent 30 Long Years In Oklahoma, from 1994 til 2000. In Oklahoma, I encountered a more deeply-seated, tightly-held, ferocious resentment of 'intelligence' and 'education' than I ever thought possible. "Xenophobic, mean-spirited, narrow-minded, anti-intellectual assholes" really doesn't touch it...Think "Sundown Towns."

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Wall Street Bonuses, Despite Crashes


Wall Street Tanked but Bonuses Thrived

By Ken Silverstein

From the New York Times:

By almost any measure, 2008 was a complete disaster for Wall Street — except, that is, when the bonuses arrived. Despite crippling losses, multibillion-dollar bailouts and the passing of some of the most prominent names in the business, employees at financial companies in New York, the now-diminished world capital of capital, collected an estimated $18.4 billion in bonuses for the year.

That was the sixth-largest haul on record, according to a report released Wednesday by the New York State comptroller.

While the payouts paled next to the riches of recent years, Wall Street workers still took home about as much as they did in 2004, when the Dow Jones industrial average was flying above 10,000, on its way to a record high. Some bankers took home millions last year even as their employers lost billions.

Meanwhile Jon Stewart regards "The Financial Capt. Steubing":

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"Little Lord Lodenpantz" (You Can't Intentionally "Viralize" A Meme.)

That's one of the truer of the myriad web truisms.

Though everybody's tried.

Who "invented" {emoticon}?

Me? I thought if one got one's 'snail mail' at one's address, and then one woulkd receive one's electronic communications at one's eddress. It made such perfect sense. And I still use it, myself, since alongside my email, it doesn't really need explanation. E.g. Mail me. My eddress is (etc)...Seemed self explanatory to me; plus useful, and clever. A natural "meme" for the ages...Not...

[I did create a small barrage of 'offensive' acronyms back in my Lite Blue career: HOAP (for Head On A Pike), and DSH (for Dime Sized Hole). But that is another story.]

In the amorphous community left/lib/prog bloggers, certain objects of fun and ridicule (you can NEVER ridicule these people too much) of the "other" (fascistic, conservo-tard, flying-monkey Right) have earned their own memes. And among the most pungent of these is the moniker ascribed lo, these many years ago to Jonah (Liberal Fascism) Goldberg, the vapid, vacuous, venal get of Lucianne Goldberg, of Monica Lewinsky betrayal fame who rode his mother's treacherous coattails into the maw of conservotard political pundritry, and has remained there (intercepting the donuts) ever since.

Jonah is unversally known and referred two (when necessary in the first place) as "Doughy Pantload." Partly because, in physical aspect, the (charitably) "chunky", even "plump," pundit does resemble a shit-rumpled child's britches. And partly, of course, because of the stench arising predictably from the pages of anything he's written. (Don't just take my word for it.)

"Doughy Pantload" indeed does him justice. But, I wondered, were there others?

In view of the evident dearth of talent, wit, skill, or interpretive competence he displays in his strident, hawkish, boiler-plate posturings, and the conclusion therefrom arising --he owes his situation to his association with his very influential mother-- I set out to learn if other 'nicks' had been suggested for DP which might capture that aspect of his utter odiousness. I had seen a reference to "Lodenhosen," which I thought approached what I wanted. Then it came to me: "Little Lord Lodenpantz." (Lodenpantz and Bernstein are NOT dead!...etc.: the allusions simply flow...)

So I instituted a search, and LO! My searches were rewarded, first here, and then here.

It seems that I am not the only one seeking to find an apt, alternative appellation for the sloppiest "thinker" in political punditry (the lately from the NYT-departed Billious Kristol being the sloppiest writer) on the right outside the dope-tinged maunderings from the bloated corpse of Rush Limbaugh. Over on the Amazon page where one may order copies of such things, in the segment of the page wherein readers may inscribe their first reactions, as "tags, there are EIGHT pages of suggested "tags." (The DU page wrongly reports "199" references to "oughy pantload," while the record at amazon was (at press-time) 19.)

Here's the top couple of dozen tags, (FYEIEIO):
  • wingnut welfare (376)
  • propaganda (293)
  • politics (232)
  • editor promised cake (222)
  • conservative (187)
  • must read (160)
  • censored by the left (138)
  • censored by liberals (123)
  • fascism (68)
  • books written while high on cheeto dust (57)
  • ein vol ein reich ein bag von cheetos (35)
  • doughy pantload (19)
  • liberalism (19)
  • ten pounds of crap in a five pound book (18)
  • history (16)
  • if michelle malkin is over your head (16)
  • social security is like treblinka (15)
  • sadly no (13)
  • ghost writer quit when i tried paying hi... (12)
  • liberal fascism (11)
  • the truth (11)
  • waste of a good tree (11)
  • cheetohnacht (10)
Me? I'll stay with "Little Lord Lodenpantz!" and take my place wayyyyyy at the bottom of the list.

That's where memes start, after all...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

GOPukes "Negotiate" In Bad Faith? Wow! Nobody Could Have EVER Expected That


Krugman on Bad Faith Economics (via Avedon):
"As the debate over President Obama's economic stimulus plan gets under way, one thing is certain: many of the plan's opponents aren't arguing in good faith. Conservatives really, really don't want to see a second New Deal, and they certainly don't want to see government activism vindicated. So they are reaching for any stick they can find with which to beat proposals for increased government spending."
The Iron Law Of Institutions is in play:
The Iron Law of Institutions is: the people who control institutions care first and foremost about their power within the institution rather than the power of the institution itself. Thus, they would rather the institution "fail" while they remain in power within the institution than for the institution to "succeed" if that requires them to lose power within the institution.

This is true for all human institutions, from elementary schools up to the United States of America. If history shows anything, it's that this cannot be changed. What can be done, sometimes, is to force the people running institutions to align their own interests with those of the institution itself and its members.

Monday, January 26, 2009

"Krapp's Last Take": Kristol Not Renewed by NYT

Finally.

Now, if the LATimes would shed the odious, malodorous, feculent, fatuous, talentless Doughy Pantload (known as "Jonah Goldberg" in some of the lower reaches of literacy and acuity), somebody might think breath might return to the pundit class.

I guess.

Anyway, the bloody-minded, aggressively militant, never-contrite and nearly ALWAYS wrong, conservatard/PNAC/Likudnik William Kristol's last column spewed its last toxic carbon ink, and saw its last tree consumed in utter waste and futility today.

As against almost all his past efforts--unremarkable except for their errors and flawed analyses--the Kristol column to day actually surprised its readers today with the the finality of the present effort.

Scott Horton reported on the skinny from the news-room. It wasn't his opinions or his orthodoxy that undid his dad's best and brightest J'ism jizm on the skirts of the Gray Lady. Banal, more and far than that: Bill was sloppy. Careless. Lazy. And just not a very good writer. On the Times, you gotta carry your weight; lil' billy couldn't. He probably actually maybe still thought McCain could/would still win when he told Jon Stewart that the Daily Show host probably read the Times too much.

So Kristol's going over to further pollute add his lustre to the editorial wing of the WaPo, where his egregious hucksterism and misguided enthusiasms for committing more heinous atrocities won't stand out quite so glaringly along side the likes of George Will. And I'm sure he'll still have his Faux Noise gig.

Horton's headlining now on at least 3 influential blogs: Harper's, Tina Brown's new "the Beast,' and Huff-post. He's everywhere, and we should be grateful. His occasional juxtapositions of the medieval and the contemporary on "No Comment" are always lucid and entertaining.

"Lord, make me chaste, but not yet." Can I get an "Allelulia"?

Should Busheviks Stand Trial For War Crimes?

(Photoshop via Bartcop.)
The only reason that the Japanese Imperialists and the German Nazis did was because, in a word, they lost. Had they won, it would never have become an issue, and Churchill might be now recalled, at best, as a particularly forthright British martyr.

In the court of history, the Busheviks "lost" (at least this battle). They were 'defeated.' By the logic of victors/victory, they SHOULD be prosecuted. So, if the victors do NOT prosecute the losers for such crimes, what could account for this benignity?

Two things, briefly: 1) Margin of Victory and/or 2) Blackmail. I'll return to the first in a while.

As to the latter: Humans seem to be the only species to have evolved the social strategy of threatening universal destruction on the event of the end of any given individual's unique power, as a means to achieve/compel rapprochement with one's antagonists. There have been times in recent history when we have had occasion to regard the process by which a previously dominant, powerful population has been shorn--or has been threatened with shearing--of their exclusive hegemony. The fall of the Soviet Union was one such event. The overthrow of apartheid in South Africa was another. I always though those were situations fraught with deadly potential for social blackmail. The continuing Israeli/Palestinian crisis is another.

Possibly another such case may be occurring now in the USofA. Whether in fact Barack Obama's election constitutes such an occasion is as yet unclear. But in all those events previous, I think there must have come a moment among the powerful when they faced, and retreated from, the prospect of "crying 'Havoc! and letting loose the dogs of war." In other words, saying "Fuck it. If I'm going down, I'm gonna take you with me." And I think Prez.O's election may foreshadow one of those moments, perhaps the most momentous yet.

Consider: Rasmussen (generally acknowledged to track rightard opinion very well) reports this morning:
Thirty-six percent (36%) of U.S. voters say Congress should hold hearing to investigate possible government wrongdoing during the Bush years. Democrats, by a 57% to 27% margin, believe such hearings should be held. Thirty-eight percent (38%) of unaffiliated voters agree as do nine percent (9%) of Republicans.

Twenty-eight percent (28%) believe Congress should hold hearings to investigate possible war crimes by the Bush Administration. Sixty-percent (60%) disagree.

On all questions, there are significant differences along ideological lines. By a 50% to 22% margin, liberals believe Bush and his team are guilty of war crimes. By a 42% to 26% margin, political moderates disagree. Conservatives, by an 8-to-1 margin, reject the claim that war crimes were committed.
I have maintained since Day 1 of the past campaign that NO ONE of the inner Bushevik circle will ever feel the lash of justice for acts performed as part of their "official" duties 'serving' the President.

There is not now, nor was there ever likely to be, sufficient popular 'mandate' for Obama & the Dims to prosecute the Busheviks for anything. It's funny, but in a sorta round-about way, the Pukes actually 'WON' the 2008 election because they retain the power to protect their most notable criminals--John Yoo, Beto Gonzales, David Addington, Dick Cheney, etc--from the legal consequences of their obviously politically motivate criminal violations of both convention and the Constitution.

Forty-six percent of the voters chose McCain (or at least, voted against Obama). And almost 60% of "white" voters did. Only 43% of white voters (still the overwhelmingly dominant national demographic) supported Prez. O. Fifty-seven percent of the largest demographic in the country rejected the candidacy of the eventual winner. This is a statistic the possible consequences we have not yet even seen hinted at, except in surveys on (somewhat) non-trivial--but still ancillary--issues.

Interestingly, too, and probably significantly, many of those same "Whites" constitute the audience for the Beck/Limbaugh/O'Reilly/Savage/Hannity (shall we designate them, simply, as "the BLOSH"?) axis of venality --they ARE being richly paid for their daily exudations of corpoRat feculence. That they are now pretty much uniform in their frank expressions of desire that Obama & the Dims 'fail'. So if they are speaking openly to that same disaffected MAJORITY--and given the psychometric and polling tools now available--it may be possible to conclude that a large portion--perhaps a 'tactical' majority--of the USer electorate will be content to see the 'nation' fail as long as it means that Obama & the Dims are saddled with the responsibility of the unfolding catastrophe as well as the previous ones leading to the current crisis.

This strikes me as of a muchness with the partisan 'logic' that subjected the Clenis to impeachment for non-criminal, consensual sexual acts, by which the "Right" lifted some of the onus off Nixon (who, one should recall, was NOT impeached, and then was pardonned, for demonstrably CRIMINAL acts).

Sunday, January 25, 2009

New Prez Wastes No Time Baptizing Regime In Blood

Brave American Technicians, Thousands of Miles Away, Pilot Drones Like This "Predator" To Attack "Dangerous" Targets In Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Reports from the region are telling of USer drone attacks across the Afghan border into Pakistan this week, which killed perhaps as many as 30, apparently in celebration of the inauguration of the new USer President, Barack Obama. (Savages! They fire their AKs into the air for festive punctuation, careless of where the spent rounds might fall. We, on the other hand, drop high explosive on civilian compounds and kill women and children "inadvertently." We know EXACTLY where they fall.)

I just gotta say, it moved me and makes me proud again to be an American. I was afraid Prez.O would turn out to be a total peace wimp, and would suspend such flights/missions, since they were responsible for killing uncounted numbers of indigenes whose connection with the violence has only been that they were in the vicinity and became its victims.

Of course, "we" had a good reason. The USer military doesn't just randomly dump munitions down on just ANY tribal compound 30 miles into Pakistan.
From WaPo, Friday: A U.S. Predator drone fired three missiles at a compound about two miles from the town of Mirali in the tribal area of North Waziristan about 5:15 p.m., according to a Pakistani security official and local residents. The precision strike leveled a compound, which was owned by local tribal elder Khalil Malik, killing at least 10 suspected militants, including five foreign nationals, according to the Pakistani security official. The site of the attack is about 30 miles east of the Afghan border.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said Malik was killed along with his brother and nephew. Authorities in North Waziristan, however, said they have been so far unable to identify any of those killed because militants immediately cordoned off the area. "I suspect a high-value target may be among the dead," the Pakistani security official said.

Jan Mohammad, a local tribesman, said Malik and his relatives probably died in the strike, which sparked panic among Malik's neighbors. Mohammad said that Malik was an influential tribal elder but that he was not known to have links with the Pakistani Taliban or other insurgent groups in the area.
So the perennial question returns: Was this a 'black-eye,' or a 'feather-in-the-cap' of your US Armed Forces?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Oldest Profession: "Why I Am Selling My Virginity"

Bidding Now UpTo $3.4 M
The Daily Beast has got what hasta be the Valentine's story of the year, if not all time. And answering a vital question in the bargain. That's Natalie Dylan in the foto to the right. How much would you give? It used to be said that prostitutes were the first capitalists, but I disagree. I do think they were the first entrepreneurs, though (the first capitalists--the first to extort profit from the labors of others--likely were the pimps).

In part to grab a substantial grub-stake, in part as a (self-rationalizing) research project, in (large) part out of an eye for sheer self-promotion worthy of an assistant professor of poetry in a tenure-track job at big school, a quite pretty, semi-exotic-looking, dark-haired young lady named Natalie Dylan put up an ad offering her virginity to the highest bidder on a web-site operated by a prominent Nevada brothel.

Blame it all on higher education.
This all started long before September. In fact, it started in college, where my eyes were opened by my Women’s Studies professors and fellow classmates. I came to understand the role of "woman" spanning culture and time. At the university level, I was given permission to think differently and form a moral code of my own design. College opened my eyes.

Like most little girls, I was raised to believe that virginity is a sacred gift a woman should reserve for just the right man. But college taught me that this concept is just a tool to keep the status quo intact. Deflowering is historically oppressive—early European marriages began with a dowry, in which a father would sell his virginal daughter to the man whose family could offer the most agricultural wealth. Dads were basically their daughters’ pimps.

When I learned this, it became apparent to me that idealized virginity is just a tool to keep women in their place. But then I realized something else: if virginity is considered that valuable, what’s to stop me from benefiting from that? It is mine, after all. And the value of my chastity is one level on which men cannot compete with me. I decided to flip the equation, and turn my virginity into something that allows me to gain power and opportunity from men. I took the ancient notion that a woman’s virginity is priceless and used it as a vehicle for capitalism.
So, even though I'm already priced out of the bidding (when it went over $5 grand), I have some questions: Like is this a 'bff' experience? Kissee-huggie-touchie-feelie kinda deal. Ya know 'love-making?' Or is it just a quickie, some kind of anonymous 'glory-hole' deal? As I say, it's academic to me...Whatever the case, I applaud Ms. Dylan, and agree with the person she describes as approving her entrepreneurial spirit.

And perhaps when her price has been met, and the deflowering done, she'll consider benefacting an old lothario with a (so to speak) "pro bono" visit?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Cognitive Dissonance


Many "Left/Lib" blogs are all a'fume with vapors over the blatherings of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and the rest of the flying-monkey retardo-sphere, whose frankly racialist--and apparently unselfconsciously, frankly hypocritical-- proclamations of disloyalty to President Obama are frankly hortatory and incitive of near-revolution. It is very ugly rhetoric. And it is very 'public.' It is much like the rhetoric by which "we" on the Left excoriated the former Chimperor on his illicit and probably illegal elevation to the Presidency.

This is where Poe's Law comes in.
Poe's Law: ...relates to fundamentalism, and the difficulty of identifying actual parodies thereof. It suggests that, in general, it is hard to tell fake fundamentalism from the real thing, since they may both espouse equally extreme beliefs. Poe's law also works in reverse: real fundamentalism can also be indistinguishable from parody fundamentalism. For example, some conservatives consider noted homophobe Fred Phelps to be so over-the-top that they think he's a "deep cover liberal" trying to discredit more mainstream homophobes.
Woody's Corollary to Poe's Law, states that is possible to substitute "fucktard-conservatism" (e.g., Hannity. Limbaugh, Beck) at every appearance of the word "fundamentalism" in Poe's Law. Hence, Woody's Corollary to Poe's Law:
...relates to fundamentalism fucktard-conservatism, and the difficulty of identifying actual parodies thereof. It suggests that, in general, it is hard to tell fake fundamentalism fucktard-conservatism from the real thing, since they may both espouse equally extreme beliefs. Woody's corollary to Poe's law also works in reverse: real fundamentalism fucktard-conservatism can also be indistinguishable from parody fundamentalism fucktard-conservatism. For example, some conservatives consider noted homophobe Fred Phelps polyphobe Michael ("Savage") Weiner to be so over-the-top that they suspect he's a "deep cover liberal" trying to discredit more mainstream fucktard-conservatives.

I "Hope" Mr. O Is As Courageous As He Seems To Be Cooperative.

Yesterday was the anniversary of the Roe-v-Wade decision (36th).

This fact was noted on the notorious Pharyngula blog of the nefarious PZ Myers, by a commenter, in a thread about a deeply troubled, delusional religious person (oxymoron?) who drove his SUV into the front door of a (St. Paul, MN) Planned Parenthood clinic several times while wielding a crucifix, and muttering about destroying "Auschwitz."

No, really. He smacked his car into the clinic door, backed away and did it again and again. Then when the car go stuck, he got out and started chanting "agitatedly."

This elicited the following comment (which in turn spawned the hed for this little piece):
Posted by: SHV | January 22, 2009 3:14 PM

Today is the 36 anniversary of Roe v. Wade. I thought Obama was supposed to mark the day by rescinding the "Mexico City" policy and initiating the repeal of the "Right of Conscience" rule. So far..crickets.
It's now tomorrow, and still crickets, afaik ("Crickets" being blog-speak for the silence that attends the anticipated or solicited reply to a provocative query). That is, silence from the Obama-nauts on the matter.

Yesterday, when the anti-abortion loons were conducting their annual shriek-fest around the SCOTUS Building screaming about the 'sins' of Roe-v-Wade would have been the perfect day on which to actually cash-in one of those promises on the basis of which the progressive/liberal wing of the USer electorate contributed its resources and votes to Obama's election and affirm "choice" as the default Administration position. "We" put 'em over the top. Yet there hasn't been a single gesture from the White House, no nod to the prog/left for their aid. This would have been an important opportunity.

Addendum: Via ThinkProgress this morning:
President Obama “will issue an order restoring U.S. funding for international family-planning groups involved with abortion.” However, Obama broke with tradition set by recent predecessors to make an abortion-related order on the anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling of Roe vs. Wade.
That's what I'm talking about: Why didn't Obama make a positive statement FOR "Choice," which he is on record as supporting?

I'll take a guess: "Wouldn't be prudent. Wouldn't be inclusive. Wouldn't be bi-partisan." I.e., and excess of caution.

Here come the New Boss, same as the Old Boss, I guess...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

TDSWJS Turns It's Klieg-Lights On The Inauguration

I was kinda wondering why I hadn't seen any mention today of this lung-collapsingly hilarious side-by-side of the New Boss basically repeating, word for word, the national defense/national security rhetoric of the Old Boss, and the Old Boss before him, and the one before him...(sigh)

Well, I mean we know why...

Sure is a funny bit, though.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My Fellow Murkins: Dumber and Greedier Than A Box Of Puppies

We need to think now about policies that prepare for a hotter, drier world, especially in poorer countries. That may involve, for instance, developing new crops, constructing flood defences, setting different building regulations, or banning building close to sea level." - John Von Radowitz
Forty-four percent of Murkins polled recently by Rasmussen do NOT believe human activity is responsible for the climactic chaos of the last decade and longer.

No, really. (Interestingly, that's just about the same percentage of the electorate that voted 'for' McCain/Palin.)

From the Rasmussen survey report:
Forty-four percent (44%) of U.S. voters now say long-term planetary trends are the cause of global warming, compared to 41% who blame it on human activity.

Seven percent (7%) attribute global warming to some other reason, and nine percent (9%) are unsure in a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

Fifty-nine percent (59%) of Democrats blame global warming on human activity, compared to 21% percent of Republicans. Two-thirds of GOP voters (67%) see long-term planetary trends as the cause versus 23% of Democrats. Voters not affiliated with either party by eight points put the blame on planetary trends.

In July 2006, 46% of voters said global warming is caused primarily by human activities, while 35% said it is due to long-term planetary trends.

In April of last year, 47% of Americans blamed human activity versus 34% who viewed long-term planetary trends as the culprit. But the numbers have been moving in the direction of planetary trends since then.
There's plenty more, most of it depressing as hell.

It never ceases to amaze me that around 75% of Murkins can proclaim their completely unjustified belief in some sort of "God," the existence of which is impossible to prove, but can reject piles upon piles of clear scientific evidence that the human act of releasing something like 50% of ALL the carbon dioxide EVER stored in the planet across ALL the aeons, over a mere 300 years, could result in catastrophic environmental change.

Many scientists now believe that the best way to try to ameliorate the consequences of global climate change is NOT to try to repair any certain or given symptom, but to try to imagine and develop ways to adapt to the inevitably, inexorably incipient changes. This may, indeed, be the best that humans can hope to accomplish. As for the rest of life--coral reefs to polar bears--well it's publish of perish, folks; tough shit.

I have remarked on many previous occasions: Humanity is best considered as a cosmic experiment testing whether "life" can survive (selfish) "intelligence;" the "Null Hypothesis" seems safe. But these results also demonstrate the effectiveness of the climate-change deniers' propaganda, coupled with the infantile rejection of responsibility for acts of intention and consequence.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Harper's "Index": The Bush Years


Selecciones:
Year in which a political candidate first sued Palm Beach County over problems with hanging chads: 1984

Total amount the Bush campaign paid Enron and Halliburton for use of corporate jets during the 2000 recount: $15,400

Percentage of Bush’s first 189 appointees who also served in his father’s administration: 42

Minimum number of Bush appointees who have regulated industries they used to represent as lobbyists: 98

Number of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and North African men detained in the U.S. in the eight weeks after 9/11: 1,182

Number of them ever charged with a terrorism-related crime: 0

Number charged with an immigration violation: 762

Percentage of the amendments in the Bill of Rights that are violated by the USA PATRIOT Act, according to the ACLU: 50

Minimum number of laws that Bush signing statements have exempted his administration from following: 1,069

Estimated number of U.S. intelligence reports on Iraq that were based on information from a single defector: 100

Factor by which an Iraqi in 2006 was more likely to die than in the last year of the Saddam regime: 3.6

Factor by which the cause of death was more likely to be violence: 120

Chance that an Iraqi has fled his or her home since the beginning of the war: 1 in 6

Portion of Baghdad residents in 2007 who had a family member or friend wounded or killed since 2003: 3/4

Percentage of U.S. veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who have filed for disability with the VA: 35

Estimated number of juveniles whom the United States has detained as enemy combatants since 2002: 2,500

Minimum number of detainees who were tortured to death in U.S. custody: 8

Minimum number of extraordinary renditions that the United States has made since 2006: 200

Date on which USA Today added Guantánamo to its weather map: 1/3/05

Number of incidents of torture on prime-time network TV shows from 2002 to 2007: 897

Number of press conferences at which Bush has referred to a question as a “trick”: 14

Number of times he has declared an event or outcome not to be “acceptable”: 149

Rank of Bush among U.S. presidents with the highest disapproval rating: 1

Average percentage of Americans who approved of the job Bush was doing during his second term: 37

Percentage of Russians today who approve of the direction their country took under Stalin: 37
There are several dozen more, on the site.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Cave-In Alert: Mr.O "Flexible" On EFCA

Donklephant reports this morning that Mr.O is willing to be "flexible" about driving the Employee Free Choice Act through the Congress any time soon. Quotha:
This one is sure to ruffle some feathers, but Obama is signaling that he’s more than willing to find common ground on this issue and I have to say it’s a relief to hear. Especially since this seems to be the last thing we should be focusing on right now.
My feathers are among those ruffled by this latest equivocation by PE-Febreez, I shall frankly admit.

Citing Marc Ambinder, quoting PE-F, the piece continues:
And the basic outline of the Employee Fair Choice are ones that I agree with. But I will certainly listen to all parties involved including from labor and the business community which I know considers this to be the devil incarnate. I will listen to parties involved and see if there are ways that we can bring those parties together and restore some balance.
"Balance"? WTF "balance" is the man raving about? There is no balance in the work-place. When does "flexibility" become betrayal? But The Donkle placidly concludes:
I think he’s sending a pretty clear message to Democratic lawmakers to not demagogue this issue, especially since there are more important things to do. And honestly, I know Dems are trying to front load this legislative season with all of the pet projects they’ve had on the back burner for 8 years, but this one seems like it could easily be defeated…so why now?
To which I replied, far more mildly than I felt:
You sure are reasonable with somebody else's ability to organize for justice and fairness...Wouldn't want to CHANGE the balance of power any at all, would we? Wouldn't be "prudent."

Gotta LUV such flexibility. Is this an instance of soi-disant "post-partisanship?"

I call it shoving a feces-encrusted thumb in the eye of your most loyal and expectant (and I don't mean me) constituency.

What makes anyone think that if Obama/Dims cannot get this through with the political capital they NOW possess, they will be able to do so later with inevitably LESS political capital to expend? This is a cave-in, pure and simple.

That I am not surprised does not mean that I cannot still be outraged.

To which I would add: this is one of those situations wherein there is no 'compromise' possible, because the folks with the power will never willingly relinquish even a scintilla of it without coercion. And there is nothing with which the workers can coerce the Bosses. There is no equivalency now in the amount of power or how it is shared in the work-place. The Bosses have it all, and they will move heaven and earth (or alternatively, and politically more relevantly, they will OBSTRUCT heaven and earth) to ensure that they do not ever have to cede ANY of it to the workers.

You cannot "compromise" with interests which desire to 'eliminate' you.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ahhhhh-Ooooooo-Gaaaaa: Generalization Alert!!!!!

Samuel Wurzelbacher -- you know, "Joe the Plumber" -- has lately become "Joe, the war correspondent(/propagandist), and has been in Israel filing reports for some nebulous blog or maybe it's a web-site (Pajama what?), or maybe not. But Samuel, or "Joe"--I'll just call him "joe"--is not your traditional journalist, not even a 'reporter,' really. Not for our "joe" the probing question, the deft rejoinder, the analytical discussion. Not he!

No, sir. Our "joe," in Sderot, Israel, turns around and lectures REAL reporters (even some journalists, I'd imagine) on THEIR jobs. The Jerusalem Post captured the scene admirably: "Joe the Plumber is here, and he ain't happy" read the hed. The tone did not abate much thenceforth.
Samuel Wurzelbacher of Ohio, aka Joe the Plumber, arrived in Sderot at noon Sunday to show local and foreign reporters how to do it right.

"You should be ashamed of yourself," he told foreign reporters.

"You should be patriotic, protect your family and children, not report like you have been doing for the past two weeks since this war has started," he said.

Wurzelbacher, the man who stole the limelight from Republican presidential candidate John McCain during the American election campaign, has found a new job - as a correspondent for the Internet Web sites PJTV and Pajamas Media.
Furthermore, our "joe" has decided the people should be spared the anguish of its warish excesses.
"I don't think journalists should be anywhere around war. I mean you guys report where our troops are at. You report what's happening day to day. You make a big deal out of it. I think it's asinine. I think media should be abolished from, you know, reporting, war is hell."
Here's where the generalization comes in: Our "joe" is--or should be regarded as--chilling evidence of just how close to ambient fascism have drifted the lumpen-folks here in the good ol' USofA. If our "joe's" the exemplum of Mid-Dull Murkan intellect, judgment, and critical acuity, the schools have succeeded beyond their wildest imaginings in crippling the capacity of the people to rule themselves as free beings. Our "joe" has been 'schooled', if he has not made any sort of 'education' from his efforts.

Which, of course, since around 1950, has been the schools' job. USer schools have created a nation of willing idiots. Willing suspension of disbelief is great, but when the proscenium has been elided by the sheer scope of the production, it is more of a given than a construction.

Study upon experiment upon test upon poll over the years has shown that the Bill of Rights would not be approved by a majority of citizens if subjected to a plebiscite. And that is already WITHOUT the pallets-ful of money and the barrages of influence that would be donated to their defeat at the polls.


Samuel "Joe, the plumber" does no more than illustrate chillingly, I hope--just how inclined towards submission to fascism have grown the great mooing masses of the people. Freedom is damn unpleasant. Murkins don't want freedom. They want cheap consumables.

And enemies.

Goood to go...

So, Does Intelligence Serve Political Aims? Well, Golly...

From Jon Schwarz's A Tiny Revolution blog:
Ho-Hum, Our Entire Political Class Caught Lying About Incredibly Important Matters Of Life And Death Again

As we know from reading America's fine newspapers, Ehud Barak made Yasser Arafat an incredibly "generous offer" at Camp David in 2000. Arafat turned it down because he had always been negotiating in bad faith. Then Arafat launched the second intifada to try to destroy Israel. At this point Israel had no choice but to defend itself, as it had no partner for peace. And so on until today.

Or...that's all complete bullshit...(I vote for "It's all complete bullshit. Ed)
(...or)
(A)s Henry Kissinger put it in his 1995 book Diplomacy:
What political leaders decide, intelligence services tend to seek to justify. Popular literature and films often depict the opposite--policymakers as the helpless tools of intelligence experts. In the real world, intelligence assessments more often follow than guide policy decisions.
Anyway—good work, America's elites! You've once again gotten thousands of people killed with your lies, with thousands more waiting in the on deck circle!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Crappy Poll On PBS Site Where Better Should Be Done


Poll
Should the American government continue to bail out struggling corporations?
o Yes; without these corporations, the American economy is done for.
o No. These companies made poor financial choices, and they should suffer the consequences.
o We should bail out the financial institutions, but not the auto industry.
Talk about "begging the question?" When I copied the page, here were the results:
* No. These companies made poor financial choices, and they should suffer the consequences. (76%, 641 Votes)
* Yes; without these corporations, the American economy is done for. (13%, 106 Votes)
* We should bail out the financial institutions, but not the auto industry. (11%, 92 Votes)

Total Voters: 839
I hope I am not the only one who recognizes that there is at least one more option which could have been included: "We should bail-out the blue-collar industries and let the bankers hang." Another possibility: "We should bail-out individuals and let all the corporations go to hell." Here's another: "We should make examples of a couple of industry CEOs, and strip them of their wealth, power and positions, toss 'em into a State Prison for a couple of years for violations of fiduciary duty and due diligence." I'm sure there are more choices. I was just struck by the paucity of the ones given and the way they were loaded. Really poor poll construction, seemingly designed to drive folks with positions not enumeraqted into the "fuck 'em ALL" camp.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Mi Nuevo México pobre! ¡También lejos del Cielo, demasiado cercano a Tejas!


Scott Horton, one of the really SMART people, followed up an editorial in the WSJ on how the investigation of NM Gov. Bill Richardson's possible conflicted connections with a state contractor "PROVES" that the national scandal over the firing of the US Atty in New Mexico, David Iglesias, in 2006, was not either 1) a big deal in itself or 2) indicative of any other possible DoJ 'politicization' scandals. Mr. Horton says bullshit, so very politely.
New Mexico Delusions

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page lectures us that the U.S. attorney’s scandal and the allegations about politicization of the Justice Department are all a bunch of “hoohah.” Their proof? A new, court-appointed career federal prosecutor in New Mexico is now in the middle of a “pay to play” investigation, examining allegations that Governor Bill Richardson’s administration gave an important state contract to a California-based investment bank that made contributions to some Richardson-connected PACs.

Perhaps you don’t see how the facts reported support the proposition that the claims of politics in Justice Department prosecutions are false? Neither do I. Neither does anyone I know who read and puzzled over this editorial. The reasoning is apparently something like this: there is corruption in New Mexico state government. President Bush was right to fire David Iglesias, a Republican, for failing to go after it. But this demonstrates a failure to appreciate even the most basic facts surrounding the scandal.
Such facts are therewith scooped up and ladled out in steaming paragraphs of scorn for the Journal's moronic Editorial Page editors, and for anybody else who takes them seriously.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Nobel-Prize Winner Economist Answers The P-E's Challenge

The other day, answering questions about critics of his stimulus package plans, Mr. O said that if (e.g.) Paul Krugman has ideas about the best way to proceed in stimulating a recovery (from what many are now calling a real 'depression'), the administration would "do them." Prof. Krugman answered the P-E, today.

Via Common Dreams:
Ideas for Obama

by Paul Krugman

Last week President-elect Barack Obama was asked to respond to critics who say that his stimulus plan won’t do enough to help the economy. Mr. Obama answered that he wants to hear ideas about “how to spend money efficiently and effectively to jump-start the economy.”

O.K., I’ll bite — although as I’ll explain shortly, the “jump-start” metaphor is part of the problem.

First, Mr. Obama should scrap his proposal for $150 billion in business tax cuts, which would do little to help the economy. Ideally he’d scrap the proposed $150 billion payroll tax cut as well, though I’m aware that it was a campaign promise.

Money not squandered on ineffective tax cuts could be used to provide further relief to Americans in distress — enhanced unemployment benefits, expanded Medicaid and more. And why not get an early start on the insurance subsidies — probably running at $100 billion or more per year — that will be essential if we’re going to achieve universal health care?

Mainly, though, Mr. Obama needs to make his plan bigger. To see why, consider a new report from his own economic team.

On Saturday, Christina Romer, the future head of the Council of Economic Advisers, and Jared Bernstein, who will be the vice president’s chief economist, released estimates of what the Obama economic plan would accomplish. Their report is reasonable and intellectually honest, which is a welcome change from the fuzzy math of the last eight years.

But the report also makes it clear that the plan falls well short of what the economy needs.

According to Ms. Romer and Mr. Bernstein, the Obama plan would have its maximum impact in the fourth quarter of 2010. Without the plan, they project, the unemployment rate in that quarter would be a disastrous 8.8 percent. Yet even with the plan, unemployment would be 7 percent — roughly as high as it is now.

After 2010, the report says, the effects of the economic plan would rapidly fade away. The job of promoting full recovery would, however, remain undone: the unemployment rate would still be a painful 6.3 percent in the last quarter of 2011.

Now, economic forecasting is an inexact science, to say the least, and things could turn out better than the report predicts. But they could also turn out worse. The report itself acknowledges that “some private forecasters anticipate unemployment rates as high as 11 percent in the absence of action.” And I’m with Lawrence Summers, another member of the Obama economic team, who recently declared, “In this crisis, doing too little poses a greater threat than doing too much.” Unfortunately, that principle isn’t reflected in the current plan.

So how can Mr. Obama do more? By including a lot more public investment in his plan — which will be possible if he takes a longer view.

The Romer-Bernstein report acknowledges that “a dollar of infrastructure spending is more effective in creating jobs than a dollar of tax cuts.” It argues, however, that “there is a limit on how much government investment can be carried out efficiently in a short time frame.” But why does the time frame have to be short?

As far as I can tell, Mr. Obama’s planners have focused on investment projects that will deliver their main jobs boost over the next two years. But since unemployment is likely to remain high well beyond that two-year window, the plan should also include longer-term investment projects.

And bear in mind that even a project that delivers its main punch in, say, 2011 can provide significant economic support in earlier years. If Mr. Obama drops the “jump-start” metaphor, if he accepts the reality that we need a multi-year program rather than a short burst of activity, he can create a lot more jobs through government investment, even in the near term.

Still, shouldn’t Mr. Obama wait for proof that a bigger, longer-term plan is needed? No. Right now the investment portion of the Obama plan is limited by a shortage of “shovel ready” projects, projects ready to go on short notice. A lot more investment can be under way by late 2010 or 2011 if Mr. Obama gives the go-ahead now — but if he waits too long before deciding, that window of opportunity will be gone.

One more thing: even with the Obama plan, the Romer-Bernstein report predicts an average unemployment rate of 7.3 percent over the next three years. That’s a scary number, big enough to pose a real risk that the U.S. economy will get stuck in a Japan-type deflationary trap.

So my advice to the Obama team is to scrap the business tax cuts, and, more important, to deal with the threat of doing too little by doing more. And the way to do more is to stop talking about jump-starts and look more broadly at the possibilities for government investment.
Those business tax cuts were in the package as sops to the wealthy, to win some unspecified margin of GOPuke support for the plan. Apparently, Krugman is guessing the Pukes won't really torpedo the whole fucking economy for purely partisan purposes. I hope he's right.

The 50 "Most Loathesome" People In The World


From "The Beast," via Pharyngula (naturally). Glorious, brilliant, vicious, post-partisan invective, for true fans of the art. Among the choices, at # 50, is Mr. O.:
50. Barack Obama

Charges: Beyond a few token acts of bipartisan marketing, Barry's major duty in the Senate was to avoid legislating, so he could pretend Washington-outsider status and nullify attacks on his non-existent policy positions. That's the thing about Obama and his candidacy: He was a blank slate, the pinnacle of vapid public relations—onto which the benighted masses may project their sincerest, yet unfounded, hopes in the wake of the worst administration in history. Couldn’t disown Rev. Wright, until he suddenly could, and then marred his first moments as president ahead of time by inviting a pastor whose advice to gays is just to refrain from sex for life. Promised not to run for president, then did; vowed to take public election funds, then didn't; backed telecom immunity, then accepted the nomination at the AT&T sponsored convention; expressed displeasure with Clinton's hawkish foreign policy and vote for war in Iraq, then named her as Secretary of State. And despite all that, he's plenty affable. There's nothing more loathsome than a likable politician.(Emphasis supplied.)

Exhibit A: “Yes we can” is the “Just do it” of politics.

Sentence: Presiding over the decline of an exhausted empire
Here's # 1:
1. Sarah Palin

Charges: If you want to know why the rest of the world is scared of Americans, consider the fact that after two terms of disastrous rule by a small-minded ignoramus, 46% of us apparently thought the problem was that he wasn’t quite stupid enough. Palin’s unending emissions of baffling, evasive incoherence should have disqualified her for any position that involved a desk, let alone placing her one erratic heartbeat from the presidency. The press strained mightily to feign respect for her, praising a debate performance that involved no debate, calling her a “great speaker” when her only speech was primarily a litany of insults to city-dwellers, echoing bogus sexism charges when a male Palin would have been boiled alive for the Couric interview alone, and lionizing her as she used her baby as a Pro-life stage prop before crowds who cooed when they should have been hurling polonium-tipped javelins. In the end, Palin had the beneficial effect of splitting her party between her admirers and people who can read.

Exhibit A: Waving her embryo-loving credentials, in the form of her Down syndrome baby, at "But ultimately what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the healthcare reform that is needed to help shore up our economy."

Sentence: Hand-to-hand combat with Vladimir Putin and a pack of wolves.
The intervening 48 will come as no surprise to anyone, and includes Joe Lieberman (with an apt illustration), Sean Hannity, Ben Stein Peggy Noonan, Keith Olberman, Michelle Malkin, Bernie Madoff, John Edwards, and all Clintons...Bush and Cheney reprise their appearances from previous years, naturally.

(Written by Allan Uthman & Ian Murphy with contributions from John Dolan, Eileen Jones, Alexander Zaitchik, & IOZ.
Illustrations by Ian Murphy.
)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Top 10 Bushit "Achievements


From Fred Barnes' universe, where the sky is always orange (via Steve Benen, through Avedon):
In his latest gem, published in the new issue of his magazine, Barnes insists Bush's presidency "was far more successful than not," and Bush's "courage" not only "merits special recognition," it exceeds that of Ronald Reagan. Seriously.

To prove his point, Barnes points to Bush's "ten great achievements":
1. Bush stood up to "global warming hysteria," and helped undermine the agenda of "alarmists."

2. He endorsed "enhanced interrogation," "secret prisons," and "wireless eavesdropping."

3. He seized unprecedented executive authority, and ignored congressional attempts at oversight.

4. He offered "unswerving support for Israel."

5. He signed the No Child Left Behind initiative.
6. He delivered his second inaugural address.

7. He signed the Medicare prescription drug benefit.

8. He pushed the Supreme Court even further to the right.

9. He improved U.S. relations with Japan, South Korea, and Australia.

10. He created a "fragile but functioning democracy" in Iraq.
Note, of course, that lists of some of Bush's biggest failures also contain some of these same "achievements."

I wonder what the weather is like in Fred Barnes' universe.
Orange, the color of Ronnie Raygun's hair. That list, btw, for EVAR redefines irremediably DOWNWARDS the meaning of "Great Achievements."

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Haaretz' Gaza Report: No Comment


Last update - 13:06 09/01/2009
UN: IDF officers admitted there was no gunfire from Gaza school which was shelled
By Barak Ravid and Akiva Eldar, Haaretz Correspondent
Tags: UN, Israel News, UNRWA, Gaza

The United Nations is claiming Israeli military officers have admitted there was no Palestinian gunfire emanating from inside an UNRWA school in Gaza which was shelled by an IDF tank.

Dozens of Palestinians were killed in the shelling.

In addition, UNRWA Thursday announced it will cease activities in the Strip due to the death of an UNRWA staffer in an IDF shelling during Thursday morning's humanitarian hiatus.
Advertisement
UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness told Haaretz yesterday that the army had conceded wrongdoing.

"In briefings senior [Israel Defense Forces] officers conducted for foreign diplomats, they admitted the shelling to which IDF forces in Jabalya were responding did not originate from the school," Gunness said. "The IDF admitted in that briefing that the attack on the UN site was unintentional."

He noted that all the footage released by the IDF of militants firing from inside the school was from 2007 and not from the incident itself.

"There are no up-to-date photos," Gunness said. "In 2007, we abandoned the site and only then did the militants take it over."

The UNRWA is now demanding an objective investigation into whether the school shelling constituted a violation of international humanitarian law, and if so, that those responsible stand trial.

The UN reported Thursday that a Palestinian working for the UNRWA was killed by an IDF tank shell while driving an aid truck at the Erez border crossing. The organization claims the UN truck was well-marked and the incident took place during the humanitarian hiatus slated to allow Gaza residents to acquire supplies

Friday, January 09, 2009

CJR: The Insiders' Insider Says "FINALLY! Somebody's Saying the Unsayable!"


And the "Unsayable?" The whole economics "profession" is a fucking charade! Via CJR:
Economist, author and Audit pal Jeff Madrick has a piece on the Daily Beast that I’ve been hoping someone would write:
How the Entire Economics Profession Failed
Not a bad topic, right?

Here’s a partial list of misguided and dangerous notions to which mainstream economics and economists have lent their considerable academic and intellectual heft:
Wall Streeters paid themselves enormous bonuses based on rising market values of investments, not on revenues actually made. The bonus system has been based on the preposterous assumption that the value of an investment set by traders in financial markets rationally reflects the true future value of that asset almost all the time. …

Investment banks took on $25 to $40 of debt for every dollar of capital in order to maximize their returns. It was assumed that these smart people wouldn’t do this if they didn’t know how to manage their risk. …

Average Americans took on record amounts of debt compared to incomes, which was said to be just fine because it was supported by high stock prices and, when that bubble burst, by high house prices. …

Financial deregulation freed MBAs to make the brilliant technical innovations. I could find no single mainstream academic economist who criticized financial deregulation in a systematic way since the 1990s until only very recently. Two veteran Wall Street economists, Henry Kaufman and Al Wojnilower, were partial exceptions. …

Low rates of unemployment were proof the American economic model was working. In light of this, stagnant or falling wages in the 2000s was not an indication of economic failure—just a reflection of American competitiveness.

The Federal Reserve can always save the day, as Milton Friedman taught us. Just add more reserves and believe in Ben Bernanke, whose mentor was Friedman. So now Bernanke is adding reserves far beyond anyone’s imagination, just like Friedman said he should do, and the economy is in ever-deeper trouble.
And check out this figure. Unbelievable:
The earnings of financial institutions rose to more than one-third of all American profits. This only proved how valuable finance was to the economy and that manufacturing was simply old hat.
It ends on a nice coda, too:
What most economists can't seem to acknowledge is that they have been overcome by free market ideology over the past thirty years. Such ideology is especially beneficial to wealthy vested interests. But economists are purportedly dedicated to objective empirical and statistical analysis. Ideology has little part in the work of these serious empiricists, but surely there was no buttering up of the rich and powerful that provide jobs and grants.

Only with the near collapse of the economy are economists changing their tunes slightly, accepting the need for regulation and Keynesian stimulus. But they will probably not change their deepest assumptions about how markets work, or about when they should and should not be given free reign. They will make no bigger place for government than to adjust a little more for “market failures.” They will go back to tinkering with those models, not transforming them, and even make them fit the current crisis without blinking an eye.

As I say, at least they now believe in Keynesian stimulus and are a little more skeptical of Friedmanism. Be thankful for small changes, I suppose. A few will fight for a larger shift. Among mainstreamers Shiller and George Akerlof at Berkeley are leading the charge. A lot of pertinent and important ideas are percolating among the liberal fringe. If there were some humility at the San Francisco gathering I’d be more optimistic these voices could prevail. Government has a central place in the economy, after all, as the Obama administration is about to demonstrate. It is not merely an option of last resort. In general—and I think the above examples of dereliction of duty make it just fine to generalize—mainstream economists are a long way from getting that fundamental idea.
The country needs a huge jolt of Keynes, without the military 'excuse' to sustain it. Dredge up Milton Friedman's carcass and tie it to Tom Friedman's leg, and leave 'em both to rot in a verypublic place...

Thursday, January 08, 2009

"Mr. Deity": Hilarious, Low-Key Blasphemy

What if our creator wasn’t a robed and bearded grandfather, but a neurotic and put-upon movie producer? That’s the question asked by Mr. Deity, an original comedy series that takes a hilarious look at the man upstairs. Low-key blasphemy at its very best.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

You Know All That "Change" You Think You Were Promised? FUGGEDABOTTIT! NAGAHAPUN!


How do I know, you ask. Mr. O's not even been inaugurated yet. Give the man s chance, you say...

Well, how's this: Obama Warns Trillion-Dollar Deficit Could Lead to Extensive Government Budget Cuts

All those promises? Hot air! "President-elect Barack Obama is warning the US deficit will top $1 trillion this year, leading to what he says could be extensive cuts to government budgets. Obama made the warning Tuesday as he meanwhile prepares an economic stimulus package that will cost almost the same amount."

Where, oh, where do you suppose those 'spending cuts' will come from?

Reduce the Defense budget? Hey, gimme dat pipe. You dangerous, boy!

Repeal Bush tax-cuts for the wealthiest Murkins/corporations? Oh, sure, DAT's gonna happen--NOT!!!

No, you gotta look around for the expenses that have the least influential constituencies: Environment protection, Social Security, MediCare/MedicAid.

Here's one of Amy's interviewees, Arun (no relation) Gupta:
I think there is an important subtext. Larry Summers, who—he’s the one who’s really going to be in charge of the economic plan. He had an opinion piece in the Washington Post a couple months ago, where he said we need to address entitlements. And what that is, is codeword for “We need to cut Social Security and Medicare.” And that’s a terrible idea. Now, if you need to cut money, cut it from the military. You’re talking about a budget that’s almost a trillion dollars, if they need to talk about cutting spending. But I agree, this is the wrong time to be talking about cutting spending. We need to increase it. We need to restructure the economy right now.
I hope he doesn't mean that the coming increase in military spending to support the promised "surge" in Afghanistan; but I am not sure.

Monday, January 05, 2009

How Can You Tell Faith REALLY Isn't Enough?

When it's proclaimers offer to provide "proof" of their ravings...

O, come all ye faith, fail!

"Proof" is the absolute, utter, total, complete antithesis of "faith." According to the acolytes of faith, when you have it, it's enough: you are not supposed to NEED proof. That's the whole fuuking point of 'faith,' iirc. So when you find folks like the following, who are avid to present "scholarly" proof of those things in which they believe as a matter of faith, you know somebody's 'faith' ain't all it's spozed to be. Vide: (From Newsmax, via Uggabugga)
Top Scholars Confirm Truth of Christianity
(Thursday, December 25, 2008 7:22 PM)

LOS ANGELES — A new survey recently showed that 70 percent of people in Great Britain doubted the biblical account of the birth of Jesus Christ, but they are “gravely mistaken,” says Ted Baehr, a professional scholar and theologian.

Christianity is true as well as historical, factual and “intellectually sound,” said Baehr, who founded The Christian Film & Television Commission ministry in 1985.

“Top scholars, historians and experts have confirmed that the Bible is the most historically and intellectually reliable ancient text in the whole world, including the Bible’s account of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and the apostles and disciples who wrote the New Testament documents,” Baehr said.

He cited the work of numerous top scholars, historians and experts, such as C.S. Lewis, Gary Habermas, F.F. Bruce, William Lane Craig, John A.T. Robinson, John Warwick Montgomery, Bruce Metzger, Simon Greenleaf, Stuart C. Hackett, J. Gresham Machen, Ronald Nash, Edwin Yamauchi, Craig Blomberg, John Wenham, Lee Strobel, Paul Maier, and N.T. Wright.

“These people are wonderfully astute thinkers, investigators and writers,” Baehr said. “They have refuted all of the important lies, half-truths and silly comments against Jesus, His apostles, the Bible, and Christianity made by non-Christians and even by some allegedly former Christians.”

“Not only can you have complete faith in the New Testament documents and what they say about the virgin birth, divinity, Crucifixion, Resurrection, and teachings of Jesus Christ,” Baehr said, “but you can also rely on what they say about non-Christian places, people, and events, such as the names and titles of Roman government officials.

“Jesus is both God and man,” he said. “He was born of a virgin, never sinned in his life, died for our sins, and rose on the third day. Turn away from your sins and faults, believe in Jesus and his teachings, and be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”
Yeah. We got the proof!

Meanwhile, Mike Finnegan offers his occasional collation of the manifestations of collective religious delusion:
HOLY CRAP: That Darn God...This pretty much confirms it (See above)...Pheripheral Damage...One Nation Under Elvis...Rapturoos...2008's Top Ten Church-State stories...Clean and unclean...Nut on nut violence...Cuz the Bible tells me, uh, something else...WTF, the Pope smokes?...Dear Galileo...Lying for faith...Now How Much Would you Pay?...Bible Class Bombs...The doll that screams Jihad...Obama listening to liberal faith groups...Baptist editor wants state funds to win converts...Vatican claims contraception harms environment... Jefferson’s Jan. 1 letter to the Danbury Baptists...God hates shrimp...'God will punish Rick Warren'

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Clueless On Gaza: USer Reps Struggle For "Balance" -- In Israel's Favor

If there is one absolute, invariant, inflexible, inerrant truth about USer politics, domestic and foreign, it is this: Any aspiring politician who hopes to be selected on a sufficiently large scale--say for a national, or state-wide office--must swear undying, unwavering, unending, unequivocal "support" for and love of Israel. This means complete, never-ending, generous, enthusiastic votes for USer financial and military aid to Israel, as well as the (implicit) promise NEVER to publically criticize any act of the Israeli state, under penalty of being labeled, stigmatized, and reviled as an anti-Semite.

(The cleverer among you will have already noted a distinct parallel between the loyalty for Israel to which ALL USer pols are called, and the loyalty to Party to which all GOPukes are held. Anti-Semitism, in the one discourse, is equivalent to "anti-American" in the other. The sin is apostasy. The fault is disloyalty. The penalty is exile.)

In view of the horrendous Israeli violence levied against Hamas (but consciously, too, against ALL Palestinians) in Gaza, a mere handful of USer legislatiors have found the 'courage' to express any outrage--howsoever little it might be. Lois Kopps, a Dim Congresscritter representing Santa Barbara, CA, issued such a statement yesterday, which goes about as far as is allowable in Israel criticism from the USer power elite or their minions. Upon reading it, you will not fail to notice how rigidly even she toes the rhetorical line. The text is up on Jesus'(Manly) General, along with his own remarks on the matter, and some comments.

Including the rudiments of Yr. Obd't. S'vt's note, herewith amended somewhat:
"In order to stop violence in Palestine, the first thing you gotta do is stop the Israeli "settlers" (most of whom, it seems from the accents of those interviewed, are transplanted "Murkin" Jews aggressively playing Fort Defiance with real guns to kill the 'marauding savage' Arabs, with IDF cover. Some kind of "Manna-fest Destiny?")."
It is naive to think that Israel does NOT have territorial ambitions, and this is no in no part associated with the fact that it is a "Jewish State," except for the accident of history and geography. The "settlers" are knowing tools of calculated Israeli expansionism. So the Israeli Govt will not stop the settlers, because the settlers are their "unofficial" tools to keep Palestinians off balance and to provide future and subsequent provocations, when settlers are attacked or killed, to excuse the use of even more incredibly disproportionate violence to dispossess even more Palestinians, and further the Israeli State agenda of ethnically cleansing Arabs from the Land...Settlers are the 'thin edge' of the wedge, designed to cause friction and raise Arab tempers to the tipping point. They are--in ways that ought to be obvious to us, the beneficiaries of the same practical expedient on this continent--state-sponsored 'agents provocateurs'... It's how 'we' (Pres. Polk) got most of northern Mexico in 1846.

The scrupulous have noted the deaths of 3500 Israelis (since when? '48?, '67?) to 'terror' attacks by Palestinians/Arabs. It's a sad and terrible number, including too many children. Any scintilla of honor among such body-counters would require an equally comprehensive report on the numbers of Palestinians killed by Israel over the same period. Mostly, however, there is no such reporting in the USer SCUM (So-Called Unbiased Media). It's difficult to track down the numbers on the web search engines, too. What is common are uncontextualized reports of Israelis' killed or injured, and the numbers of (mostly, ineffective) "qassam" attacks.)

On average, over time, since, say 2000, the 'usual' kill-ratio is somewhere around 15 Palestinians killed by Israel for each Israeli killed by a Palestinian attack, except in the present case when it's up pushing 100 - 1 (well over 500 Palestinians killed, Israelis, only 4-5). In the last year, the ratio was on the order of 50-to-1. The ratio varies, but it has seldom fallen below 20-1 in the last 15 years.

I am not a mathematician or a sociologist (though I've played one on tv & stayed at a Holiday Inn Express)), but that number seems excessive to me, somehow.

In all this, Israel appears to exemplify this nostrum: "All is permitted in defense of that which is stolen."

Ecce: A note on the Qassam rockets
Mostly, they are very short-range, capable of only small--albeit deadly, if one is unlucky enough to be close-by--payloads. A range of under five kilometers--a mile-and-a-half, approximately--is considered extreme. So the report last week that a 'rocket' fired from Gaza had landed 20 MILES from Israel's 'secret' nuclear base, Dimona, deep in the Negev, was patently propaganda plant.