Friday, May 29, 2009

Change We Can Believe In

It turns out unlike just every US President since Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama might actually mean what he says on his Israeli policy: (Via Matt Yglesias)

Last night, shortly after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told journalists that the Obama administration "wants to see a stop to settlements -- not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a confidante. Referring to Clinton's call for a settlement freeze, Netanyahu groused, "What the hell do they want from me?" according to his associate, who added, "I gathered that he heard some bad vibes in his meetings with [U.S.] congressional delegations this week."

In the 10 days since Netanyahu and President Barack Obama held a meeting at the White House, the Obama administration has made clear in public and private meetings with Israeli officials that it intends to hold a firm line on Obama's call to stop Israeli settlements. According to many observers in Washington and Israel, the Israeli prime minister, looking for loopholes and hidden agreements that have often existed in the past with Washington, has been flummoxed by an unusually united line that has come not just from Obama White House and the secretary of state, but also from pro-Israel congressmen and women who have come through Israel for meetings with him over Memorial Day recess. To Netanyahu's dismay, Obama doesn't appear to have a hidden policy. It is what he said it was.

"This is a sea change for Netanyahu," a former senior Clinton administration official who worked on Middle East issues said. The official said that the basis of the Obama White House's resolve is the conviction that it is in the United States' as well as Israel's interest to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "We have significant, existential threats that Israel faces from Iran and that the U.S. faces from this region. It is in our mutual interest to end this conflict, and to begin to build new regional alliances."

Netanyahu needed to engage Obama directly, the former official said. "Now that he has done so, and also sent a team of advisors to meet [special envoy to the Middle East George] Mitchell, he has very clearly received a message: ‘I meant what I said on settlements. No natural growth. No elasticity. There will be a clear settlement freeze.'" (Netanyahu sent a team of advisors including minister for intelligence Dan Meridor for meetings with Mitchell in London Monday.

Traditionally the US president would say something along the lines of what Obama said about the settlements, and then once the Israeli PM returned home they would calmly ignore what was said and proceed to do whatever the fuck they wanted. If there was ever a hitch and the president pushed too hard, the Israelis could always call on AIPAC to flex their muscle and have the president or congressional leaders would cave out of fear of being called Anti-Israel or an anti-Semite.

You can tell the magnitude of this change from Netanyahu's reaction alone, and it will be amazing if they can keep up the pressure. While this is about the new settlements, it undoubtably has Netanyahu nervous about what this new dynamic could mean for larger issues, such as the potential two state solution. Bush spoke about a two state solution, but since he clearly didn't give a hell about it actually happening, it was easy for Israel to play along with the charade. But with a new president who actually means what he says, it has the potential to completely change the US-Israeli relationship of the past 50 years, and that is a very good thing.

Train of Thought Field Trip: ResistNet: The Aftermath

ResistNet might not be the largest meeting place for lunatics on the internet, but it does have the most heart! Two months ago we bravely ventured into the dark recesses of their forums to bring you the highlights of their insanity, capturing them here forever like a mosquito stuck in prehistoric amber. Also like a mosquito in amber, however, this unleashed a host of troubles* upon us. Packs of wingnuts followed the trail of mockery back to its source and did their best to annoy us here, culminating in some of the weakest trolls in the history of bothering people over the internet. The whole episode came to a close when their attention span (stretched to the breaking point by a week-long spread of posts) finally called it quits, forcing them to go home and discuss how evil Muslims are and exactly how badly they want to overthrow the government on their own forum.

The most interesting relics from this period are the threads made on ResistNet itself about us. The idea that liberals (dark enemies of all that’s good and holy) were “tracking” them (mocking their stupidity on the internet) set their paranoia glands into maximum overdrive, producing a series of threads full of bizarre fantasies about doing battle with this monolithic, Gestapo-style enemy (The Train of Thought and Tars Tarkas, specifically). It was then that someone uncovered the truth: we’ve been commissioned by ACORN and given piles of money and free houseboats by Keith Olbermann and George Soros. At least one of these threads was locked and then deleted by the moderators because of excessive** insanity, but some have survived. The following was taken from this thread, entitled “FBI, Liberal Sites Monitoring us, taking our names.”

George and Pat Wilkins start off the festivities with a fantastic post, which begins thusly:

Who Cares? Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin,
Thomas Pane, Patrick Henry, George Washington,
were all revolutionaries and I am a revolutionary.
Socialist Marxism, Communism, athism, have no part
in the american discourse they are unamerican.

Atheists, in my United States?! Ugh, unacceptable- I’m sure they also have some harsh words for the secularists and Deists amongst the Founding Fathers. Patsy apparently envisions us as The Department of the Train of Thought, located in an expansive compound outside Washington DC:

If our government is busy watching the millions
of people who are rising up against obamas rule,
who is watching the terrorists?
Diana B has been watching the terrorists, as it turns out:

Hahaha! That's really funny. WE are watching the
Nothing like good old-fashioned racism to take a thread up to the next level. Darren (already noted here for his contributions in the past) proudly posts a letter he sent to the White House- I’ve cut it down due to length, but please feel free to click here and go 2/3 of the way down the page to read the entire thing. I promise the rest of it is even crazier than this portion would suggest:

Obama: You are a SOCIALIST a liar.
You are a fraud and a deceiver. You are pure evil.
You're not fooling the discerning. Your radical
past and current actions expose you. I pray you
fail for if you succeed you will destroy this
country to bring about your totalitarian socialist
dream. You and your wife have always hated America
and you plan to radically change it with your
foundation of Karl Marx replacing the Constitution
which you don't understand at all or do and despise
it. Sadly you are an enemy within this nation. A
destroyer. Wicked. Perhaps you should go back to
Indonesia where your true citizenship lies.
Dennis Howell TX4 District Coord likes what he sees:

Damn, Darren tell him how you really feal lol.
Whats realy funny is I feel the exact same way.
Ah, the District Coordinators, the cream of the crop. He can’t spell “feel” or “really” or use punctuation, but I’m sure a laughable grasp of the English language won’t get in the way of his district coordinating duties. Phil Dedrick has IMPORTANT BREAKING NEWS:

Everyone needs to realize that on the ballot
last NOVEMBER, if you did not vote for the left,
they already have your name and number!!!
YES WE DO. The Train of Thought was sent a list of Republican voters by Rahm Emmanuel himself days after the election, which we frequently use for nefarious purposes. That’s just one of the perks of being part of the Obama Shadow Army (there are other perks but you have to swear fealty to ACORN before you can hear about them). Next up- I’ll give Jeff Hill the benefit of the doubt and say that he’s probably referring to government agents, but given the rest of what we’ve seen I wouldn’t be surprised either way:

Obama is a socialist and a Muslim. We know that.
We are Americans. My question, spook, is :
Are you with us or against us ?
Timothy M. Keisner chips in with this fascinating anecdote:


That post is the unambiguous winner of the Field Trip Award For Outstanding Achievements In The Field Of Incoherent Posting. BarbeLou reflects on the changing times:

I have always been a laid back, roll with the
flow type of person so I find it quite amusing
that I am now a radical and possibly a domestic
terrorist. Oh, how times have changed.
Bring it on, Bozos!
She isn’t sure if she’s a domestic terrorist? I would imagine most people are normally pretty sure about whether or not they qualify, but hanging out at ResistNet must change your perspective on these things. WingsofBird’s keystrokes will echo across history:

They BETTER worry, because millions of us will
This question could apply to almost any of these posts, but what sort of parallel universe does he come from?! Does he go to work in the morning, get lunch with his friends at noon, wave hi to the neighbor as he returns home in the evening, and then start defiantly screaming about how he'll fight to the very death, and about how the US is about to transform into an enormous national gulag, a Guantanamo Bay stretching from sea to shining sea? Trying to figure out how any of these people function in real life is a time-consuming exercise. Next up the thread briefly turns into a Michele Bachman adoration station, which is cool because I had no idea that anyone anywhere holds a positive opinion of her. Finally at the end Bill Mullins has a strange moment of clarity:

If the left is monitoring this site it can be for
only one reason - to get fodder for a "Dumb
Conservative Joke of The Day" website.
Yep, either that or the scary option where we’re agents of a sinister movement to destroy America- whichever seems more likely. I’d also like to include one post from another thread, this one sadly deleted (it had been located here):

"By the way J.N. , what is your real name??????
Yeah Right!!!! Coward!!!!!!!!! You yourself better
stop making insinuating threats like the above one
to Joyce Rosenwald!!!! Understand, J.N.!!!!!!!!!!!
!!!!!!!! You think this is the only place in the
world that can be shut down????????? Why don`t you
come on here and talk to the PATRIOTS!! Hope you
get to sneak back in here and read this!!!! Don`t
care for your trashy liberal posts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!!!!!! Like everything else liberal, it is a waste!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ahahahhahahhahahahhahahhahahahaha, so this is what ownage feels like. ResistNet is always fun- after looking through all these posts again I'm getting tempted to head back and see how they've come along in the last 7 or 8 weeks. Perhaps soon we can all travel back- back to Resistnet.

*Actually just minor annoyances, at worst. Imagine Pandora’s Box but instead of containing all of the world’s ills it just has a bunch of goofy rants about how stupid we are, and childish nicknames for our website. That’s all.
**Excessive even by their standards, so… lord help us all.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Virginia Is for Hustlers

Terry McAuliffe, clearly with his eye on an endorsement from the Clipse:
A May 22 editorial on Virginia's Democratic gubernatorial primary incorrectly stated that Terry R. McAuliffe had described himself as a "huckster." In his autobiography, Mr. McAuliffe described himself as a "hustler."

I sense some photoshops coming on...

Sestak In, Specter to Feel the Heat

News broke yesterday afternoon that Joe Sestak would challenge Arlen Specter for the Pennsylvania Democratic primary in 2010. This is interesting for several reasons:
  • I still don't know that much about Sestak, but this move shows that he has serious balls, a trait severely lacking among Senate Democrats. He's essentially running as one term Congressman Joe Sestak vs. 20 Year Senator Arlen Specter, President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Governor Ed Rendell and Senator Bob Casey. Aside from anything else, having the guts to get into this race is a pretty amazing achievement.
  • What does this mean for Labor? A pretty interesting rock-paper-scissors dynamic is developing between, Labor, Spector and Sestak. Specter would need labor to win the Democratic primary and the election. Labor won't support Specter unless he votes for something very close to the Employee Free Choice Act. Still stupidly thinking it would win him the Republican primary, Arlen Specter went to the floor of the senate and came out strongly against the Employee Free Choice Act. Two weeks ago, SEIU President Andy Stern met with Joe Sestak. Labor can either pressure Specter to change positions again, or they can risk pissing off Obama by backing Sestak and taking down Specter. It's really anyone's guess how this one sorts itself out.
  • The circus aspects of this race are completely absurd. There is a very real potential that we will see the Democratic President and Vice President of the United States campaigning on behalf of a career Republican against an up and coming Democratic congressman. That sound you just heard is Chris Matthews peeing himself with excitement.
Regardless of how this turns out, Sestak entering the race is a good thing. Specter is an unprincipled hack, and having a credible primary challenger will force him to be a more of a Democrat than he would have been otherwise. It's not an ideal situation, but it's a far better one than if Rendell, Obama and Biden had been successfull at clearing the field. You never want to let a jackass like Arlen Specter off his leash.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Supreme Court Madness Begins

Like most of you, I didn't know very much about Maria Sonia Sotomayor before yesterday, and since then I'd be lying if I claimed to know more than the 4 or 5 things the media keeps repeating about her. With that said, when Glenn Greenwald speaks, we listen, and he seems to like the nomination:
There are many vital issues that Sotomayor should be asked about, obviously including her views on executive power limits, which -- as Charlie Savage noted this weekend -- are largely unknown. One's view of her selection should be shaped by things that are as yet unknown. But judging strictly from what is known, Obama deserves substantial credit for this choice. There were choices available to him that would have been safer among the Respectable Intellectual Center (Diane Wood) and among the Right (Elena Kagan). At his best, Obama ignores and is even willing to act contrary to the standard establishment Washington voices and mentality that have corrupted our political culture for so long. His choice of Sotomayor is a prime example of his doing exactly that, and for that reason alone, ought to be commended.
Good to hear. A positive reaction from someone like Greenwald who actually reads her work and knows more than the token 4 or 5 things about her goes a long way.

I know plenty of people see supreme court nominations as political nerd's dream, but count me out. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy about the pick and I'm thrilled that Obama has already made the first of what should be several supreme court picks during his term. I'm just not looking forward to the months of grandstanding and media stupidity that these things tend to spawn. On the plus side, it seems like the Republicans are already screwing up their talking points:

David Shuster: "What evidence do you have that she would put her feelings and politics above the rule of law?"

Tom Fitton: "Because President Obama chose her."

Nice. With opposition like this maybe the confirmation fight won't be so bad after all.

Update: The quality criticism from the right has already started rolling in...

National Review Online's Mark Krikorian: "Putting the emphasis on the final syllable of Sotomayor is unnatural in English... and insisting on an unnatural pronunciation is something we shouldn't be giving in to."

Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb: "Obama seems to have the views of a 21-year-old Hispanic girl -- that is, only by having a black president, an Hispanic justice, a female secretary of State, and Bozo the Clown as vice president will the United States become a true 'vanguard of societal ideas and changes.'"

Another Update: I seriously can't tell if they're joking: (again via TPM)

Are The Hill -- and anti-Sotomayor operative Curt Levey -- really suggesting that the judge's fondness for Puerto Rican cuisine is a handicap for higher office:

Sotomayor also claimed: "For me, a very special part of my being Latina is the mucho platos de arroz, gandoles y pernir -- rice, beans and pork -- that I have eaten at countless family holidays and special events."

This has prompted some Republicans to muse privately about whether Sotomayor is suggesting that distinctive Puerto Rican cuisine such as patitas de cerdo con garbanzo -- pigs' tongue and ears -- would somehow, in some small way influence her verdicts from the bench.

Curt Levey, the executive director of the Committee for Justice, a conservative-leaning advocacy group, said he wasn't certain whether Sotomayor had claimed her palate would color her view of legal facts but he said that President Obama's Supreme Court nominee clearly touts her subjective approach to the law.

"It's pretty disturbing," said Levey. "It's one thing to say that occasionally a judge will despite his or her best efforts to be impartial ... allow occasional biases to cloud impartiality.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Train of Thought Lounge for May 25th, 2009

The real lounge is still MIA this week, so I'm jumping in once again. Grizzly Bear is a band which is slightly hard to classify- under 'genre' Wikipedia lists them as "acid folk, neo-psychedelia, baroque pop, experimental rock, lo-fi." They've got a new album out this week, so some (presumably) insane person filmed this highly creepy video for their single, Two Weeks:

Same thing happened to me once, long story. The album is called Veckatimest, and can already be found on the internet by sufficiently enterprising individuals.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Twitter Happens

This weekend DCJonesy and I are traveling up to New York to visit 6.54 and celebrate his college graduation. Since posting posting on the blog will be light until we get back, I figured now is a good time to let you know that we've both joined twitter, and I'll be posting random stuff on there over the course of the weekend. Twitter may seem lame, but there are at least 30 things a day that I'd could write posts on if there was time, and this way I can at least give them a link or a mention in 140 profane characters or less. So check us out.

Me (JJ) :


Note: I have no clue what the image at the top of the post means, it just came up when I googled twitter, hoping to find a ridiculous picture.

Stumping for Republicans is Cool

I don't want or need this Joe Biden:
Three weeks ago, my friend Senator Arlen Specter added one more feat to his long and impressive career -- he became a Democrat.

Over the years, we've certainly had our disagreements. During that time, however, Arlen has been my friend, my confidant, and my partner in enacting many pieces of significant legislation.

Learn more about Senator Specter's long record of achievement.

Find out more about Senator Specter

For more than 25 years, we've ridden the train together back to Wilmington and Philadelphia. We've had some great debates and discussions on the train -- and gotten to know each other so well -- that it gives me great pleasure to be able to work even more closely with Arlen now.

His independence, integrity, and piercing intellect will continue to be a tremendous asset to the people of Pennsylvania, and now, to the Democratic caucus in the Senate.

I know that he'll keep up his great work on issues ranging from cancer research funding to global warming, deficit control to immigration reform -- and in our coming debate to reform America's health care system.

Thousands of you have already written messages of support, welcoming Arlen to the party, and he was tremendously pleased to receive them.

I know that once you come to know him like I do, you'll be just as happy as I am to have him.

Find out more about Senator Specter's career of service for the people of Pennsylvania:


Vice President Joe Biden
Come on Sestak...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Harry Reid Obstructs Obama's Efforts to Close Guantanimo

Not only that, but he does it using right wing talking points!

REID: I’m saying that the United States Senate, Democrats and Republicans, do not want terrorists to be released in the United States. That’s very clear.

QUESTION: No one’s talking about releasing them. We’re talking about putting them in prison somewhere in the United States.

REID: Can’t put them in prison unless you release them.

QUESTION: Sir, are you going to clarify that a little bit? …

REID: I can’t make it any more clear than the statement I have given to you. We will never allow terrorists to be released in the United States.

Uh... Great! So you don't support unleashing terrorists on American cities? That confirms that you're not evil, but what if you answered a question that someone was actually asking?

QUESTION: But Senator, Senator, it’s not that you’re not being clear when you say you don’t want them released. But could you say — would you be all right with them being transferred to an American prison?

REID: Not in the United States.

Right! Not in the United States, our prisons suck! All those murderers, rapists AND TERRORISTS in our Supermax prisons could escape at any minute!

If these seems familiar, Glenn Greenwald breaks down the usual pattern:

The "debate" over all the bad and scary things that will happen if Obama closes Guantanamo and we then incarcerate those detainees in American prisons is so painfully stupid even by the standards of our political discourse that it's hard to put into words, and it also perfectly illustrates the steps that typically lead to America's National Security policies:

(1) Right-wing super-tough-guy warriors project some frightened, adolescent, neurotic fantasy onto the world -- either because they are really petrified by it or because they want others to be ("Putting Muslim Terrorists in our prisons will make us Unsafe! -- Keep them away from me, please!!!");

(2) Rather than scoff at the inane fear-mongering or point out simple facts to reveal its idiocy, Democratic "leaders" such as Harry Reid echo the right-wing fears in order to prove how Serious and Tough they are -- in our political debates, the more frightened one is, the more Serious and Tough one is -- and/or because they are genuinely frightened of being called mean names by Sean Hannity ("Harry Reid isn't as scared of this as I am, which shows that he's weak");

(3) "Journalists" who are capable of nothing other than mindlessly reciting what they hear then write articles depicting the Right's frightened neurosis as a Serious argument, and then overnight, a consensus emerges: Democrats are in big trouble politically unless they show that they, too, are as deeply frightened as the Right is.

Two weeks ago when Obama was pushing congress to remove limits on exectuive compensation from the bank bailout, they folded like a house of cards. Yet when Obama is pushing a phenomenally good idea like closing Guantanamo Bay, he is met with fierce and meaningful opposition from his own caucus.

Sometimes the stupidity of the Democratic party is just too much to take.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Michael Steele Can't Stop Won't Stop

Actual Quote from today's speech:

You know it’s real. You can see it, and you can feel it. This change, my friends, is being delivered in a teabag. And that’s a wonderful thing.

The man is redefining how unintentional comedy will be seen for generations.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Understanding the Douche Caucus

In a post today about watering down the Climate Change legislation, Chris Bowers makes a good point that I've been thinking about for a long time:
Many Democratic members, such as Melissa Bean, don't have fixed positions on legislation but are, instead, moderate for the sake of moderate. That is, they believe the best legislation is always to the right of whatever comes out of a Democratic controlled committee, no matter what that legislation actually says. As such, these members, such as Bean, always work to water it down, no matter what. The over-rising principle is not any particular position on climate change or new energy, but instead to show that you are a Democrat who is to the right of most other Democrats.
One of the most misunderstood ideas in politics is that of the "moderate". As much as they are glorified by the media as principled heroes from a more civil era, the vast majority of the time the exact opposite is true. Their actions are more often than not completely unprincipled, and done solely to increase their image as to the right of the democratic party, which due to years of idiotic group think is the overwhelming conventional wisdom on how to win elections.
The Democratic leadership need to do is understand this, and use their lack of principles to our advantage. Did Ben Nelson care have a reason for cutting 100 Billion dollars in spending? Of course he didn't. He cared about getting to say something stupid like "We’ve trimmed the fat, fried the bacon, and milked the sacred cows."

It didn't matter that "the fat" and "sacred cows" created jobs just as much as the stuff he left in, because that wasn't the point. The purpose was to be perceived as a moderate/centrist/pragmatist, and because our media treats these douchebags as if they were standing in front of a tank at Tienanmen Square, he was wildly successful.

But just like how Arlen Specter is already walking back his passionate anti-EFCA speech, our biggest advantage with these assholes is that they have no beliefs or values whatsoever. You're not going to convince a legitimate conservative like Tom Coburn to vote for the budget, but Ben Nelson would probably be just as satisfied cutting 100 billion dollars from a 1.5 trillion dollar stimulus bill as he would an 800 billion dollar one.

I'm not expecting a change in the glowing treatment the media gives these assholes. All I ask is that the leadership stops enabling them and starts using their unprincipled political positions to our advantage. If all legislation goes through the same process of getting shittier and shittier as it moves through the senate, why not start with a more impressive bill so that the end product is actually something you can be proud of?

They don't have any core beliefs other than keeping their jobs in the Senate and blowing smoke up everyone's collective ass, and there's absolutely no reason we can't use that to our advantage.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Train of Thought Lounge for May 18th, 2009

Train Lounge on a Monday?! Done by me?! The usual suspects seem to be slacking on the Lounge front, so here goes. Street Sweeper Social Club is a new band featuring Tom Morello, who seems to have gotten tired of dealing with self-centered frontmen and started his own thing with Boots Riley instead. Their album comes out in June- but they're already touring with Nine Inch Nails and Janes Addiction. At a show this weekend Trent Reznor joined them on stage for this cover of Kick Out The Jams:

File this under 'tours I wish I could see.'

Friday, May 15, 2009

Torturing to Justify War

Huge revelations from Colin Powell's former chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson:

Likewise, what I have learned is that as the administration authorized harsh interrogation in April and May of 2002--well before the Justice Department had rendered any legal opinion--its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qa'ida.

So furious was this effort that on one particular detainee, even when the interrogation team had reported to Cheney's office that their detainee "was compliant" (meaning the team recommended no more torture), the VP's office ordered them to continue the enhanced methods. The detainee had not revealed any al-Qa'ida-Baghdad contacts yet. This ceased only after Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, under waterboarding in Egypt, "revealed" such contacts. Of course later we learned that al-Libi revealed these contacts only to get the torture to stop.

There in fact were no such contacts. (Incidentally, al-Libi just "committed suicide" in Libya. Interestingly, several U.S. lawyers working with tortured detainees were attempting to get the Libyan government to allow them to interview al-Libi....)

So from a former Bush Administration official, we know that Dick Cheney authorized torture in order to fabricate a link between Iraq and Al Qaida, a link which was then used to advocate a war that led to the the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and four thousand US soldiers.

If that doesn't lead to some sort of criminal investigation, we should probably just give up and abandon this "rule of law" thing altogether.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Senator "That Jew" From New York

The State of Arkansas puts in their application for Tennessee status:
Arkansas state Sen. Kim Hendren, who is currently the only announced Republican candidate for U.S. Senator against Democratic incumbent Blanche Lincoln in 2010, has apologized for referring to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) as "that Jew," at a county Republican meeting last week.
At least his apology cleared things up:
"I don't use a teleprompter and occasionally I put my foot in my month," Hendren told Arkansas blogger Jason Tolbert.
"At the meeting I was attempting to explain that unlike Sen. Schumer, I believe in traditional values, like we used to see on 'The Andy Griffith Show,'" he explained. "I made the mistake of referring to Sen. Schumer as 'that Jew' and I should not have put it that way as this took away from what I was trying to say."
Ok, that's pretty bad, any way you can make it worse?
Late Update: Hendren gave a further apology to the Associated Press. "When I referred to him as Jewish, it wasn't because I don't like Jewish people," he said. He also added: "I shouldn't have gotten into this Jewish business because it distracts from the issue."

Ladies and Gentleman, your Republican Senate Candidate from Arkansas!

One Day Jon Stewart "Will Answer" for All His Truth Telling

Somehow, Jim Cramer finds the courage to speak publicly:
"No one wants to suffer a beat-down. No one wants to be humiliated or embarrassed. I was shocked at [host Jon Stewart's] behavior. I wish he knew about my background, and I wish he knew about a lot of things that I had done, because I think he would've thanked me instead of attacked me...I think the attack on CNBC and the attacks on me were gravely misplaced. It was rather remarkable in that it was so clear that his goal was to just destroy me. One day he'll answer for it."
If I remember the show correctly, Cramer actually gave that speech about all the good stuff he does and how he should be thanked for all his work exposing fraud in the financial markets on the Daily Show. Then Jon Stewart proceeded to play clips of him advocating stock manipulation and other ways of illegally gaming the system. Cramer sat there at a loss for words, looking as humiliated and embarrassed as you'd expect an exposed liar on national television to be.

And then Jim Cramer went back to his daily show and TV appearences, as we resume our existance in an alternate reality where Jim Cramer is a market guru and Jon Stewart is a egotistical asshole who needs to be taken to task. We live in a media climate where simple fact based realities like "being right" vs "being wrong" have no importance whatsoever.

Burmese Government Status Update: Still Extremely Shitty

The goons in Mandalay must have been getting fidgety over the last few months- no massive anti-government protests to brutally suppress, no life-shattering tsunami relief for them to bungle, no fun at all. I can only imagine their joy when they saw a chance to do something they do very well: fuck with Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize and national election winner. What’s her crime this time?

“On May 3, according to the Burmese state press,
an American man illegally swam across a lake to
Suu Kyi's waterfront villa and snuck into her
compound for two nights.

Though Suu Kyi's lawyer has said she was
upset to discover an unexpected visitor in her
home, the democracy activist could still face
five years in jail if she is convicted.”

Her crime was being the owner of a house which was broken into? Also, what is the point of jailing someone you’ve already kept under house arrest for the better part of two decades?

There’s also some great news about the upcoming elections:

“Polls may well be held in 2010, but they will
not take place on a level playing field. Top
posts will be reserved for members of the military,
and arcane rules have been designed to keep Suu Kyi
and other NLD stalwarts from running for office.
Burma-watchers also fear that ballot boxes will be
stuffed to ensure that the military doesn't lose as
it did so spectacularly in 1990.”

Apparently it came as quite a surprise to the military in 1990 that everyone hated them. 20 years later they figure another round of elections would be fun, but their main concern is just avoiding a ‘spectacular’ loss? I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for the Myanmar junta.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Executive Pay Reform from the Executive Branch?

From today's Wall Street Journal:

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration has begun serious talks about how it can change compensation practices across the financial-services industry, including at companies that did not receive federal bailout money, according to people familiar with the matter.

The initiative, which is in its early stages, is part of an ambitious and likely controversial effort to broadly address the way financial companies pay employees and executives, including an attempt to more closely align pay with long-term performance.

Administration and regulatory officials are looking at various options, including using the Federal Reserve's supervisory powers, the power of the Securities and Exchange Commission and moral suasion. Officials are also looking at what could be done legislatively.

Among ideas being discussed are Fed rules that would curb banks' ability to pay employees in a way that would threaten the "safety and soundness" of the bank -- such as paying loan officers for the volume of business they do, not the quality. The administration is also discussing issuing "best practices" to guide firms in structuring pay.

. . .

The discussions follow a narrower effort by the administration to clip pay at firms that get federal aid. Earlier this year, it issued guidelines limiting salaries for top executives at firms that received funds under the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Congress chimed in with even tougher rules curbing bonuses for top earners at the same firms, among other things. One rule bars firms receiving federal funds from paying top earners bonuses that equal more than a third of their total compensation.

The administration is still wrestling with how to marry those two efforts, which in combination are more punitive than officials intended. The Treasury is expected to issue new rules sometime in the next few weeks.

Meaningful executive pay reform would be a major reversal from the administration's previous bonus protecting actions, so I'll try not to get my hopes up. But any noises of this kind are great to hear, and with the inevitable future AIG style scandals that will arise from the bailouts, we may end up with better and broader pay reform than anyone could have have imagined.

Accidental Truth Telling


A Congressional Quarterly article about GOP efforts to get conservative Democrats to oppose major legislation contains an interesting admission from Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH).

Acording to the piece, Republicans "have vowed to block, reshape or defeat a number of Democratic initiatives in coming months, even though Specter's defection has left the Senate Republican caucus with just 40 members."

But in a 99-member Senate, 40 votes are enough to keep Democrats from cutting off debate on major legislation. "Usually you need 41 votes to get anything done around here. But right now, you can do a lot with 40 votes,'' said Judd Gregg

In a 99-seat Senate, 40 votes isn't nearly enough to "get anything done." Not at all. It is rather the bare minimum necessary to make sure nothing gets done. And it explains why so many Republican senators will routinely vote against cloture on major Democratic agenda items. It's called a filibuster--and it isn't typically thought of as way to "get stuff done."

You'll seldom hear Republicans admit that this is their legislative strategy--even though it manifestly is their legislative strategy--but sometimes obvious and uncomfortable truths are hard to deny, and slip out accidentally. And it's an important truth.

This strategy is crucial to understanding the GOP's gambit in the Minnesota Senate race. When that issue is decided, the Senate will have 100 members, and if Franken is declared the winner (as is widely expected) the Republicans' 40 votes will no longer be enough on their own to mount a filibuster.

On the bright side, Judd Gregg will be ridiculed for publicly saying something that everyone knows to be true. And on the way bright side, his nomination to be Commerce Secretary fell through.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Terrorists On Welfare!!11!1!

The intellectual leader of the Republican party, Newt Gingrich:

Just had remarkable interview with chris wallace on foxnews sunday. I asserted releasing terrorist trainees into america on welfare is insane

One of the cooler developments of the last 6 months is that Newt Gingrich has partially filled the leadership vacuum within the Republican party.

With emerging talent like Gingrich, Steele, Jindal, Palin, and Mitt, it's going to be a fun 4 years.

Don't Bullshit Us, It Won't End Well

Chris Bowers on the Stress Tests:
I am not going to pretend to know whether or not the tests are just bullshit. What I do know is that they better not just be bullshit, or there will massively negative political consequences for the entire Democratic Party as a result. If it turns out that way more capital is needed than these tests forecast, and the economy doesn't recover very quickly, then the "stress tests" will be viewed as a blatant case of either administration incompetence and / or mendacity.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Onion on Ovechkin

Via Mr. Irrelevant:
Huge Game tonight. Win and it's 3-1 with a chance to close tomorrow at home, lose and it becomes a best of 3.


Train of Thought Field Trip: Free Republic Race Relations

For those of you who don’t follow stupid news, here’s the latest: Oprah gave away a bunch of chicken. A very large amount of chicken, as it turns out. More than KFC was able to provide, leading to a bunch of disappointed and angry customers who wanted free chicken and got a mob house and… well, no chicken. Why does Free Republic care? Well, take a look at the pictures and note the skin color of many of the people in the restaurants. In lieu of writing more of an introduction, I would just ask you to reflect on one of the most commonly invoked Free Republic mantras while you read their comments: “Republicans may have done (insert something hideous here), but liberals are the real racists!”

The following posts were taken from one of several million threads gleefully posted on the site. First, b4its2late does his best to exemplify the “fuck you, got mine” attitude:

Exactly what will happen when we have free health care.
Free health care = insufficient chicken and hungry mobs. Got it. SIDENET hasn’t ever met a black person, but he impresses his buds by aping one on the internet:


Heh, maybe we’ll get a watermelon joke later! Hint: We will get many watermelon jokes later. Humblegunner wins the Field Trip Award For Outstanding Achievements In The Field Of Incoherent Posting with this masterpiece of a post:

Yo free chickins has gone home..
to roost. < /wright>
Reverend Wright, free chicken, 9-11… These things are all connected. After seeing a picture of the (mostly black) patrons in one KFC, Truth29 uses his eagle eye to assess the scene:

Too easy by half: Democrat voters, Obama brown
shirts, EITC recipients, etc.
I guess dropping the n-bomb is out of style these days, so just throwing up a litany of things you don’t like (one of which doesn’t even exist) will have to do. Mowowie wants to outdo SIDENET and his outstanding performance of “black person via the internet” so here he goes:

I havent got my free car and free house yet but
i sure as hell am gonna git my free chicken!!!
Dinah Lord is just having too much fun with this, and can’t help but to join in:

Where mah gubmint chicken?
Oprah is in the government now? Good to know. Doc Savage briefly interrupts the thread with this awesome joke:

I’ll have the Hillary Combo! Two very small
breasts, two enormous thighs, and beak!
Heh, get it? Because Hillary Clinton is bad and those are chicken parts. Vox Freedom finally cracks the watermelon barrier, an impressive achievement for sure:

Next up, free watermelons for everyone.
Part of the stimulus package.
Republic of Texas has a timely question:

This happened at Popeye’s also. Apparently poor
people think restaurants exist to give them free
food. Wonder where they got that idea?
If I had to guess I would say they got the idea to go to KFC and get free chicken from Oprah, unless the poor person hive-mind that controls all poor people has finally decided to make its war upon KFC. Kickass Conservative does some kickass posting:

I want my Pie, uh, Chicken!
I sure hope Oprah the Obama gets to the bottom
of this. Instead of “a chicken in every pot”,
it is now “a bucket of chicken in every crib”.
Oprah, fried chicken, Obama, the crib… "black people!" Just like that, a post is born. SonOfPyrodex reads about one woman who took her children with the hope of getting free chicken, and instead got no chicken. From the story he takes away the following:

My observations:

2) "Our income" - her and her kids = welfare
3) "I take" - no father = welfare single mother.
4) "them" - multiple kids = multiple fathers
4) Considers KFC a "restaurant" = menthol cigs +
Colt 45 malt liquor.
Welfare mothers, multiple fathers, fried chicken, menthol cigarettes… "black people!" Apparently literally ever person on Free Republic is unsure about whether there’s any other kind. Anyway it’s been a few posts since we’ve had one of these:

Should have bought a slice of watermellon.......
Thanks, Jmax. As a brief aside from all the racism I wanted to share this post by yarddog:

Now I know a girl, a very pretty and popular one
who could get a guy to take her anywhere she wants
including really first class restaurants. She
prefers KFC. She also loves Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.
Must be something about grease she loves. What ever,
it hasn’t done her figure or face any harm as she
is a real babe.
Great story, buddy! I could read all day about his friends/vague acquaintances and the effects of various diets on their health. Smokingfrog follows the train of thought originally started by SIDENET:

All kinda coopins? What kinda coopins? Food
coopins? I needs mor food coopins! I could
use some gas coopins an mortgage coopins too.
Spelling errors, horrific grammar, coupons, presumably bad mortgages… "black people!" These guys have an understanding of African Americans which is most easily compared to Stormfront, yet Free Republic is somehow viewed as a fairly mainstream website. TC Rider raises the stakes even higher:

What will Okra be giving away next week?
Oprah is black, so her name is actually Okra. Also, watermelon. Rebelbase manages to tie in Obama with a level of ease which can be shocking for those unfamiliar with the ways of Free Republic:

Looks like Zero is gonna head out for lunch
again today.

And still, these guys wonder why the vast majority of African Americans won't vote for them.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Who thought the stress tests were "unfairly tough"?

Tim Geithner talking about the bank "stress tests":
"You're going to hear criticism from both sides in this," Geithner said. "A lot of people will say these were unfairly tough. ... And there will be other people to say ... that losses could be worse. And they may be right."
People who thought Stress tests were excessively tough:
  • Bank executives
People who say that the losses could be worse:
  • Economists who predicted the current financial crisis.
And going by the laws of bipartisanship, all positions should be given equal value, regardless of merit or facts.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Your New Democratic Senator

On seating Al Franken:
"There's still time for the Minnesota courts to do justice and declare Norm Coleman the winner."
When you have the chance to let a loser like this join your party, you have to take it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Willing to Listen

Good News:
Mindful of his predecessor, Barack Obama seems to be trying harder to make sure he hears all sides. On the night of April 27, for instance, the president invited to the White House some of his administration's sharpest critics on the economy, including New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and Columbia University economist Joseph Stiglitz. Over a roast-beef dinner, Obama listened and questioned while Krugman and Stiglitz, both Nobel Prize winners, pushed for more aggressive government intervention in the banking system.

That sort of outreach is admirable—but it would be a mistake to make too much of it. A couple of hours of conversation is no substitute for methodical inquiry and debate. At present, Obama's economic advice is closely controlled by his chief economic adviser, Larry Summers, who acts as a kind of gatekeeper, determining what Obama sees and hears—and what he does not. Paul Volcker, the wise old hand who ran the Federal Reserve in the 1980s and whipped inflation, chairs an advisory panel that does not appear to do much advising. "Our ruling intelligentsia in economics runs the spectrum from A to A-minus," says a member of the Congressional Oversight Panel on the banking bailout, who requested anonymity when speaking about the administration. "These guys all talk to each other, and they all say the same thing."
It's admirable for Obama to hear these differing points of view, and we can only hope that he took them into account. And especially since those who have acted as "gatekeepers" for his economic policy seem to be dismissing Krugman/Stiglitz's ideas out of hand, it's particularly awesome that he had them to a dinner without his pro banking industry filter present.

That being said, it all comes down to what he does. While this shows he's a very cool and intellectually curious human being, it's anyone's guess what effect (if any) this will have on his current horrific banking policy.

Mike Lux has a very thoughtful post on where those of us who support Obama yet oppose his banking plan go from here:
Most of us who have been working on the banking issue from the restructuring side of things (meaning put the big banks into receivership and break them up into smaller components that are no longer too big to fail), including people I know far closer to the administration's economic team than I am, have come to the conclusion that the administration's policy regarding the big Wall Street financial institutions is fairly set for the time being. There are a variety of reasons Obama has chosen this path - the fact that Geithner and Summers really believe it is better to resuscitate the big banks rather than to fundamentally restructure them, the belief (reinforced by the Senate's recent failure on cramdown legislation) by senior administration officials that despite the populist anger among the general public that there is no political will in DC to take on the big banks, the reality that most of the media's shallow interpretation about whether something works is whether the Dow Jones goes up the day the plan is announced. But regardless of the reasons, this is the reality we are living with. Obama has clearly chosen a path, and those of us with a different idea about how to work on these issues have to live with the fact that we have lost the debate, for now, inside the administration. The question now is: what do we restructuring advocates do now?

I think there are two ways going forward that are constructive. The first is to really invest in long-term organizing and institutional building on the finance issue. While it is disappointing that Obama hasn't used this economic crisis and the populist anger it invoked to more fundamentally change the system that brought us to this pass, it's not like finance issues are going away or recede in importance in years to come. Now is the time to build institutions with the grassroots, political, and intellectual firepower to battle the banks in the years to come. We clearly have a stable of economists and business people who get what is going on, including George Soros, Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman, Dean Baker, Rob Johnson, Simon Johnson, Leo Hindery, and others. What we need is long term institutional political power to build the constituency that will fight this fight effectively.

Just as importantly, we need to work constructively with the Obama administration to be prepared with a plan B if what they are doing begins to show significant weaknesses. If, as we restructuring advocates fear, the Geithner/Summers plan does not work to rebuild the economy, and/or the plan is gamed by the big banks to create other AIG bonus style scandals, Obama will be forced to turn to a plan B. If that happens, as I wrote a few weeks ago, progressives should avoid going into I-told-you-so mode, and instead be ready with a strong progressive plan that they can push with the administration. The economic thinkers listed above ought to be working together right now to come up with a strong plan B option. If we can keep a constructive dialogue going with the White House, and mobilize our friends in Congress and in the media, such a plan has a chance of being adopted.
That's a good strategy, and I think what Lux describes is our best bet going forward. I really believe that the economic conditions will eventually force Obama to do the right thing here, and it's just a question of how much money we giveaway to the banks before the Administration comes to that realization.

Then again Obama might wake up one day, realize he's hired the same people whose beliefs caused the financial crisis, and think back to his dinner with two of the people who predicted it, and wonder why he didn't hire them in the first place.

If Obama is willing to solicit thoughts from George Will and Paul Krugman within a few months of each other, I'm pretty sure anything is possible.

Not Bloodthirsty Enough

Apparently Barack Obama hasn't shown a firm enough commitment to slaughtering civilians and making blindingly stupid acts of aggression:
Speaking to some 6,500 assembled for the conference, Robert Satloff, the executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, warned of “the potential for a deep disagreement between the U.S. and Israel governments over how to really deal with a nuclear Iran.”

The issue could produce “the most tense face-to-face disagreement between the United States and Israel in the past 61 years,” he said.

Other close observers of the relationship say its contours remain unclear.

“Barack Obama still has to prove himself to American friends of Israel, who still don’t know where his heart is on Israel,” said a Democratic member of the House of Representatives. “And Bibi has to prove he is up to this moment.”
Not that AIPAC insanity is anything new, but I just like the idea that by opposing a carpet-bombing of Iran or Gaza, it means that Obama "has to prove" he supports Israel. These people really are monsters.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Even Jeff Sessions has his limits

The new ranking Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Jeff Sessions:(via Ben Smith)
"used to think they [the Klan] were OK" until he found out some of them were "pot smokers."
Oh boy.

(Hopefully) There is Another Option

This Sunday's Meet the Press:
SPECTER: No. And you misquote me, David. I did not say I would be a loyal Democrat. I did not say that. And last week, after I said I was changing parties, I voted against the budget because the budget has a way to pass health care with 51 votes, which undermines a basic Senate institution to require 60 votes to impose closure on key issues. …I did not say I am a loyal Democrat
After watching last week's love fest and the very real attempts to clear the field by the President, Vice-President, and Governor of the Pennsylvania, I'm thrilled to see that at least one candidate isn't impressed. That man is Joe Sestak:
KING: Is he a good enough Democrat?

SESTAK: I'm not sure he's a Democrat yet. And that doesn't mean we don't want bipartisanship. My gosh, I won in a district that was 53 percent Republican, 36 percent Democrat. What I need to know is, what's the principles you're running for...

From his website:
So while Arlen’s decision may be good for himself, politically, to avoid running against someone he could not beat, his decision begs what he is running for, and whether he is the best candidate to shape the future of Pennsylvania.
Simply awesome.

From the comments of TomP's diary, here is a summary of Joe Sestak's positions:
  1. Does not agree that we have enhanced our security or intelligence thru torture. Believes it has placed service members at greater danger from countries that do torture.
  1. Supports the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell". Would like to take the lead along with Murphy (D-PA) and Murtha (D-PA)
  1. Supports Sec. Gates' recent proposal to transform the military to where it is not numbers but capability which measures the military.
  1. Supports a health plan similar to one in Mass. which he says is similar to Obama's. Supports Medicare, Medicaid and public plan standards.
  1. Supports stem cell research. Says "It's great having President Obama here."
  1. Completely aware of same things we are: budget reconciliation requires only 51 votes to pass, and healthcare reform package has been virtually guaranteed the same fate...not sure why there was a Specter deal.
  1. Supports labor/EFCA (co-sponsor)
  1. Supports public healh care opinion
  1. Supports Obama's budget resolution (voted for it)
  1. Supports cramdowns (voted for it)
  1. Supports Cap and Trade (co-sponsor of Waxman's bill and Markey's bill)
  1. Voted on bailout bill even though he received over 3500 e-mails and letters from constituents telling him not to. Said he read research which said the bill was absolutely critical and voted with his brain and not his ideology.
  1. Supports regulation in the Federal Reserve, and other institutions. Says we need proper reserves, transparency and reporting of trades. Comments ms. Brofsky of the CFTC who in 1998 tried to implement such.
  1. Supports a commission to find out what really amount of torture occured. Supports using the justice system to punish those responsible for designing the policies.
  1. Will turn down a bid for Senate IF and ONLY "If Arlen Specter truly embraces the principles and policies necessary for good governance and the economic, health, energy/environment, education, and defense securities needed by Pennsylvanians and by our nation...and we believe he will stick to them for the full 6 years"
  1. Supports re-institution of the Assault Weapons ban, child locks, ATF Surprise inspections, etc.
Sounds good, but what makes it even better? Comparing them to Arlen Specter's abysmal voting record! Besides, his willingness to consider running with Obama, Biden and Rendell attempting to clear the field shows that he serious balls, something the senate Democrats have been sorely lacking over the past 8 years.

Specter's party switch wasn't an epiphany, and it wasn't principled decision. It was a move to save his ass, that was absurdly aided and encouraged by those who are in charge of building a Democratic majority. Don't buy the shit sandwich that they're selling. The only person who benefits from keeping Arlen Specter around in the Senate is Arlen Specter. And when there are quality options like Joe Sestak waiting in the wings, it boggles my mind that this is even up for debate.

The One Time Torture is OK

Charles Krauthammer, who still somehow magically draws a paycheck from various well-respected journalistic enterprises, has a new column up over here talking about the whole “torture” thing that the kids are all into these days. Check it out:

“Torture is an impermissible evil.”

Well, great! Column is over, we can all go home, finally in agreement for once, etc.

but wait…

You can feel it too, can’t you? He isn’t done yet, there’s something else on the way: an exception (or two, as it turns out!):

“Except under two circumstances. The first is the
ticking time bomb. An innocent's life is at stake.
The bad guy you have captured possesses information
that could save this life. He refuses to divulge.”

Wonderful, so the first of the two exceptions is the made-up fantasy exception. Never mind that the ticking time bomb scenario is a work of fiction, something pulled from 24 (where would conservatives be today if that show hadn’t aired?) and other unreal sources. Don’t even worry about the fact that if such a scenario were to occur, there’s a good chance that torture wouldn’t even be of use. Krauthammer wants Jack Bauer to have the right to beat up Muslims, so just back off, real world!

So the first exception can be entirely ignored. What’s up next?

“The second exception to the no-torture rule is the
extraction of information from a high-value enemy
in possession of high-value information likely to save

Even better! This is like the ticking time bomb scenario, minus all specificity. It can be used to justify torturing anyone, anywhere, for any reason. Who determines exactly how valuable the enemy and/or information has to be before torture can be employed? Keep in mind Krauthammer is envisioning this being used on people who haven’t been given a chance to prove their innocence in a court of law, so this is basically his way of saying that torturing random goat herders without any proof of anything at all is perfectly acceptable. Maybe they know something! After all, who knows what they know? They do, but we don’t trust them, so get ready for torture-fest 2009!

Pathetic acts of apologetics aside, there actually may be one time when torture is OK. Enthusiastic torture-fan Sean Hannity volunteered to be waterboarded during his program last week, saying that he would do it as an act of charity for American troops. His guest, Charles Grodin, declined his invitation- but Keith Olbermann started loudly trying to take him up on it, offering $1000 to charity for every second of waterboarding Hannity endures.

So far Hannity hasn’t responded- nothing but uncharacteristic silence from this perpetual gasbag. It’s almost as if someone who was perfectly comfortable with having plenty of other (potentially innocent) people being tortured is afraid to have a taste of his own torturous medicine! I for one am completely shocked. Do you think that Rush Limbaugh would stop sneering at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib if the alternative was to go there* as an inmate?

Christopher Hitchens said that waterboarding was less than torture, until he was waterboarded himself. His next article was entitled “Believe Me, it’s Torture” and displayed a perfect 180 on the question of whether or not America has any business waterboarding people. As he said:

“Here is the most chilling way I can find of
stating the matter. Until recently, “waterboarding”
was something that Americans did to other Americans.
It was inflicted, and endured, by those members of
the Special Forces who underwent the advanced form
of training known as SERE (Survival, Evasion,
Resistance, Escape). In these harsh exercises, brave
men and women were introduced to the sorts of
barbarism that they might expect to meet at the
hands of a lawless foe who disregarded the
Geneva Conventions
. But it was something
that Americans were being trained to resist, not to
Emphasis mine. I bring up Hitchens merely to suggest that if Hannity finds the guts to back up all of his talk, there may still be a happy ending here when a committed torture apologist has a dramatic conversion. There’s a good chance Hannity will continue to ignore Olbermann** (and even if he does eventually agree there’s still a huge difference between being waterboarded in a room full of people cheering you on and being waterboarded by your hostile captors), but I’d be content with him merely being unable to mention waterboarding ever again because of extreme shame. Here’s to having one less person arguing in defense of "the sort of barbarism" one might meet at the hands of "a lawless foe who disregards the Geneva Conventions."

** While we're waiting, check out Waterboard Hannity for Charity, a new site made by some people from Laissez's Fair for the express purpose of keeping track of the whole situation and raising more money for charity in the event that Hannity should ever suddenly find himself in the possession of scruples.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Train of Thought Lounge: Weezer

In honor of me and rb's recent puppet-off war on Facebook, I present to you Weezer's outstanding video for Keep Fishin' from 2002. Muppets!!!

Happy May Day, everyone!

White Men Can't Jump Get Nominated to The Supreme Court

Mark Halperin's Blog in Time Magazine: (Screen Cap via TPM)
Current Image of the Supreme Court:

"They frankly own the place"

The full quote from Dick Durbin, as he watched the "cramdown" provision in his bankruptcy reform bill meet its death in the senate:

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has been battling the banks the last few weeks in an effort to get 60 votes lined up for bankruptcy reform. He's losing.

On Monday night in an interview with a radio host back home, he came to a stark conclusion: the banks own the Senate.

"And the banks -- hard to believe in a time when we're facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created -- are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place," he said on WJJG 1530 AM's "Mornings with Ray Hanania." Progress Illinois picked up the quote.

Earlier Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told the Huffington Post that the most important provision of bankruptcy reform -- the authority for a bankruptcy judge to renegotiate mortgages, known as cramdown, which banks strongly oppose -- could get ripped out of the bill. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) pushed back, saying that a bill without such a provision wouldn't be reform at all.

And if it's helping the Banking industry, wanna guess who's involved? None other than the Chief Douche himself:

"There's been a tendency on the part of some who are advocates for the legislation to overestimate the number of votes in favor," said Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.). "When I was actively involved at the moment it broke down it was my impression there were no Republicans who were willing to support it and at least a few Democrats have stated openly on the record that they were in opposition. How you get to 60 with those numbers is a mathematical problem."
I'd say it's less of a mathematical problem and more of a bought and paid for tools of the banking industry problem, but that's just me.