Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Actions Speak Louder

Alan "310 million tits" Simpson keeps his job:
The Obama administration on Monday reiterated its commitment to keeping former Sen. Alan Simpson as the co-chairman of the president's deficit commission even as the Wyoming Republican has come under heavy fire for his disparaging comments on Social Security.

"Senator Simpson sent an e-mail that he's now apologized for," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters at Monday's daily briefing. "We regret that he sent that e-mail. We don't condone those comments. But Senator Simpson has and will continue to serve on the commission."
Regardless of what he may have said during the campaign, or whether you believe he's inherently a nice guy or whatever, this tells me Barack Obama is ok with cuts to Social Security.

Fucking disgraceful.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Train of Thought Lounge: Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth

Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth - They Reminisce Over You

In the sky right now returning to the continental United States.

So while I was gone a lot of white people decided that the civil rights movement was about them? Gotcha.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Train of Thought Lounge: Blackstar

Blackstar - Definition

I'll be magical future posting while I'm actually somewhere else for a few days. If you want to find out where check out the twitter machine for updates.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chris Dodd, Principled Douche Bag

If it's a day that ends in Y, Chris Dodd is doing something to defend the banking industry:
In questioning Elizabeth Warren's candidacy to lead a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd has repeatedly asked whether Warren possesses the appropriate management experience to lead a large federal bureaucracy.

But it's the first time Chairman Dodd has publicly raised such an issue when it came to evaluating presidential nominees to agency positions under the banking committee's purview.

A review of transcripts from past confirmation hearings shows that Dodd has never questioned the management experience of nominees to head federal agencies his committee oversees. The heads of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Federal Housing Administration, the Export-Import Bank and the National Credit Union Administration all survived hearings under Dodd's chairmanship without him once asking a question about the experience needed to guide their respective agencies.

Nor did Dodd raise any management questions when prospective bank regulators came before his committee -- even when the regulators did not have significant management experience. In the two years prior to his assuming the chairmanship in 2007, the heads of the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of Thrift Supervision, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and a prior chief of the SEC all came before his committee. Each time, Dodd declined to ask about their experience running bureaucracies, a review of transcripts shows.

In fact, Dodd didn't even show up for two of those hearings.
If Dodd had put a 10th of the effort that he's put in to opposing Warren into pushing the better provisions of the banking bill... well, then he wouldn't be Chris Dodd then, would he?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Primer on Nuclear Weapons Development

With the idiotic question of whether or not to bomb Iran's uranium enrichment facilities being passed around the news outlets these days (wanna make sure Iran feels the need to make a nuclear deterrent? BOMB THEM), I figure Train readers could use a refresher on just how these weapons are produced.

First off, let's set one thing straight: no one – up to and including Iranian leaders and scientists – knows if and when Iran will produce enough weapons-grade uranium to make a bomb. Any set date you see printed anywhere is an estimate based on insufficient information, and probably advanced primarily to advocate a particular political viewpoint or action. But I will say that unless things change radically, Iran will very likely have enough material for a bomb within the next ten years. Although I'm skeptical that Iranian nuclear weapons will radically alter the equations of world power, a new state entering the nuclear club is always alarming – and of course, overreaction on the part of the United States or our allies is as much of a danger as the bomb itself.

But now the facts:

"Like A Milk Cow With 310 Million Tits"

That is how Alan Simpson, Barack Obama's hand picked Co-Chair of his "Deficit Commision" sees Social Security.

The commission has been meeting in secret over the past couple months, and they'd probably be staying out of the spotlight if the committee's Co-Chair wasn't one of the biggest assholes in the history of the universe:
Alan Simpson believes that Social Security is "like a milk cow with 310 million tits," according to an email he sent to the executive director of National Older Women's League Tuesday morning. Simpson co-chairs the deficit commission, which is considering various proposals to cut Social Security benefits.

Simpson's email, which OWL chief Ashley Carson released publicly, (PDF) was sent in response to an April blog post Carson wrote for the Huffington Post. Carson criticized Simpson for repeatedly describing his Social Security opponents as "Pink Panthers," arguing that the description had sexist connotations.

His email is peppered with exclamation points and condescension. At one point he urged Carson to read a certain graph, "which I hope you are able to discern if you are any good at reading graphs."

Simpson concludes by implying that leading a major organization dedicated to the interests of middle-aged and elderly women is not "honest work."

"If you have some better suggestions about how to stabilize Social Security instead of just babbling into the vapors, let me know," he writes. "And yes, I've made some plenty smart cracks about people on Social Security who milk it to the last degree. You know 'em too. It's the same with any system in America. We've reached a point now where it's like a milk cow with 310 million tits! Call when you get honest work!"
While it would still be difficult to pass social security cuts at any time, it needs to be clear that if social security were to get cut, it would have to be a Democrat who does it.

These type of things can only happen when the defenders of these programs can be divided and triangulated against, in a Welfare Reform/NAFTA kind of way. Those who defend the administration's creation of the deficit commission do so by pointing out the small chance that any of their recommendations will pass, admitting that it was designed to promote cuts of either social security or medicare.

Alan Simpson is an unbelievable dick who has fought to cut social security his whole life, so it's hard for me to be to surprised when he says something this idiotic. I've got my anger saved up for Barack Obama who not only created this commission but appointed assholes like Alan Simpson to it.

Like 99% of the stuff done in the name of "deficit reduction", the commission was never about reducing the deficit. It's about the views of people who believe that Social Security is a "cow with 310 million tits" and organizing to do away with the most popular government program in the history of the United States.

So when people are confused about why the Democrats got slaughtered in November and why so many of the people that turned out for Barack Obama didn't turn out this time, maybe it's because the Administration we elected decided it was worth dedicating resources to bullshit like this.

Obama can't un-create his own commission, but he can fire Alan Simpson immidiately. It's the least he can do at this point.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Welcome to DC, Teabaggers!

While attending last year's 9/12 teabagger convention, JN and I wondered about how these idiots made their way around the city once they exited the safety of their chartered Whites Only Freedom Works buses.

Wonder no more! Someone found a teabagger website with handy instructions on how to get around in DC without being gruesomely murdered or potentially running into someone that isn't white. This is not a joke:

Safety and Mores

DC's population includes refugees from every country, as the families of embassy staffs of third world countries tend to stay in DC whenever a revolution in their homeland means that anyone in their family would be in danger if they went back. Most taxi drivers and many waiters/waitresses (especially in local coffee shops like the Bread and Chocolate chain) are immigrants, frequently from east Africa or Arab countries. As a rule, African immigrants do not like for you to assume they are African Americans and especially do not like for you to guess they are from a neighboring country (e.g. Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia) with whom they may have political or military tensions. It's rare to meet anyone who gets really offended, but you can still be aware of the issue.

Many parts of DC are safe beyond the areas I will list here, but why chance it if you don't know where you are?

If you are on the subway stay on the Red line between Union Station and Shady Grove, Maryland. If you are on the Blue or Orange line do not go past Eastern Market (Capitol Hill) toward the Potomac Avenue stop and beyond; stay in NW DC and points in Virginia. Do not use the Green line or the Yellow line. These rules are even more important at night. There is of course nothing wrong with many other areas; but you don't know where you are, so you should not explore them.

If on foot or in a cab or bus, stay in Bethesda, Arlington (preferably north Arlington), Crystal City, Falls Church, Annandale, or Alexandria, or in DC only in northwest DC west (i.e. larger street numbers) of 14th or 16th streets, or if on Capitol Hill only in SE Capitol Hill (zip 20003) between 1st and 8th Streets, not farther out than 8th (e.g. 9th, 10th etc). (Or stay on the Mall and at the various monuments.) Again there are many other lovely places, from the Catholic University of America to Silver Spring, Maryland. But you don't know where you are so you cannot go, especially at night, unless you take me with you.
There's really too much in that to digest, although "Do not use the Green Line or Yellow line. These rules are more important at night" might by my favorite of them all.

DCist was kind enough to post this map in case these people need visual help:

View The Tea Party Guide to DC in a larger map

The map is good, but as 6.54 pointed out, it doesn't include another safe haven: "Arlington (preferably north Arlington)" He also made the observation that you might not be safe even in the blue zone of white people:
Rumor also has it that a Kenyan/Indonesian muslim family lives within the shaded territory. Shouldn't they avoid downtown?
The horror.

If the blog shuts down from here on out it's safe to assume that I was gunned down going home from work... yes you guess it - on the green line of death.

Freedom Bombs

Winning the hearts and minds...
MIRANSHAH, Pakistan, Aug 23 (Reuters) - Missiles fired from a U.S. pilotless drone aircraft killed 13 militants and 7 civilians in Pakistan's North Waziristan on Monday, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

They said the missiles were fired at a militant hideout. Most of the militants killed were members of the Afghan Taliban. Four women and three children were among the dead, said the officials.
Muslim culture is so strange and misguided that they don't seem to appreciate us killing their civilians with drone strikes. Ungrateful savages.

Monday, August 23, 2010


It doesn't take long for the anti-muslim rally to become anti-non white people type thing:

A man walks through the crowd at the Ground Zero protest and is mistaken as a Muslim. The crowd turns on him and confronts him. The man in the blue hard hat calls him a coward and tries to fight him. The tall man who I think was one of the organizers tried to get between the two men. Later I caught up with the man who's name is Kenny. He is a Union carpenter who works at Ground Zero.
As John Cole points out, he also delivers the line of the decade to the protesters: “All y’all dumb motherfuckers don’t even know my opinion on shit.”

They didn't care about his opinion. He wasn't white, and that's all they needed to know. He wasn't the only one:
At one point, a portion of the crowd menacingly surrounded two Egyptian men who were speaking Arabic and were thought to be Muslims.

“Go home,” several shouted from the crowd.

“Get out,” others shouted.

In fact, the two men — Joseph Nassralla and Karam El Masry — were not Muslims at all. They turned out to be Egyptian Coptic Christians who work for a California-based Christian satellite TV station called “The Way.” Both said they had come to protest the mosque.

“I’m a Christian,” Nassralla shouted to the crowd, his eyes bulging and beads of sweat rolling down his face. But it was no use. The protesters had become so angry at what they thought were Muslims that New York City police officers had to rush in and pull Nassralla and El Masry to safety.

“I flew nine hours in an airplane to come here,” a frustrated Nassralla said afterward.
It isn't about the mosque, it's about bigotry towards anyone who isn't white.

It's really, really depressing.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Train of Thought Lounge: Mos Def and Pharoahe Monch

Mos Def and Pharoahe Monch feat Nate Dogg: Oh No

One of my all time favorite songs, and possibly my all time favorite Pharoahe Monch verse...

Al Franken and Howard Dean

I didn't entend on turning this blog into a play by play of the stupidist controversy in the history of the universe, but I gotta say I do think people's reactions to this issue are important.

The whole thing has become mind-blowingly depressing for quite a few reasons, but Howard Dean's cowardice was a pretty serious punch in the gut.

It's mainly for that reason that I wanted to spotlight Al Franken's response to the issue:
Franken said conservative opposition to the mosque is “one of the most disgraceful things that I’ve heard.”

“I don’t know how many of you have been to New York, but if a building is two blocks away from anything, you can’t see it. It’s a community center. They’re going to have a gym. They’re going to have point guards. Muslim point guards,” Franken said, to laughter and applause.

“They (Republicans) do this every two years. They try to find a wedge issue, and they try to work it.”
Fucking brilliant.

Dean's idiocy highlights a bigger issue about the role of cult figures in politics.

Howard Dean's canditacy was at the heart of how I got intrested in politics and he's someone I respect and admire tremedously. I was absolutely gutted watching returns the night of "the scream" (with RB, in my dorm room I might add), and still think he could have run a far better campagin against Bush in the general than Kerry did. The debate where he courageously questioned our support of Israel was one of the first times I truly felt the need to put my full support behind a politician rather than simply a party or an idea. I've supported a decent amount of cantidates via canvasing, donations and otherwise, but it's hard to think of someone not named Donna Edwards that I've been more passionate about than Howard Dean.

And here's the thing, he really couldn't be more wrong about the mosque. It's not even close. There's no nuance, there's no defending his position. He is 100% wrong.

That wasn't that hard, was it? Do I hate Howard Dean now? Does this mean that I should have supported Kerry in the primary or that I wanted Bush to win?

I know the examples don't fit perfectly, but stuff like this is why I get so frustrated with people who flip their shit and act like you should be canvassing for Romney in 2012 if you criticize the way Obama has run his administration.

Theses people aren't your best friend, and they will without a doubt disappoint you. I still remember calling Donna Edwards' office the day after she voted for the no strings attached bailout. It's not always fun, but it's not the end of the world either.

There are very simple rules on dealing with politicians: When they do something you like, support them. When they do something you don't like, don't support them or oppose them.

Easy rules to live by and it makes things a hell of a lot less complicated then debating what various politicians feel "in their hearts" or "what they would have done" during ideal circumstances.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Entirety of the Mosque "Debate"

Asshole: Blah blah blah 9/11 blah blah blah ground zero blah blah blah Muslims blah blah blah Nazis.

Response: The Constitution, Amendment 1:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
It really is that simple.

The Unemployment Disaster

For all that's been written here and elsewhere on this subject, this is just stunning:

As atrios often says, maybe someone should do something. Or maybe someone from the Administration should resign to talk about how they aren't doing enough.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Worst Person in the World

Newt Gingrich is a despicable human being:
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Monday compared the mosque planned to go up blocks away from ground zero in New York to Nazis protesting next to the Holocaust museum.

Gingrich highlighted the fact that New York Democratic Gov. David Paterson and numerous others have proposed alternative locations for the mosque in arguing that the leaders of the cultural center are “radical Islamists” who want to prove that “they can build a mosque next to a place where 3,000 Americans were killed by Islamists.”

“That's why they won't accept any other offer,” he said during an interview on Fox News's "Fox & Friends."

Gingrich then declared that if the mosque is indeed being built as a symbol, which its leaders have repeatedly denied, New York authorities have every right to prevent it from being built.

“We ought to be honest about the fact that we have a right and this happens all the time in America,” he said.

“Nazis don't have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust museum in Washington,” Gingrich insisted, speaking of the museum where just a year ago a guard was killed by a white supremacist trying to enter the building with a gun.

Gingrich then went on to claim that “we would never accept the Japanese putting up a site next to Pearl Harbor.”

“There is no reason for us to accept a mosque next to the World Trade Center,” he said.
There was also probably no reason for Newt's first wife to accept that he cheated on her and divorced her while she was battling cancer either, but here we are.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Speaking Out Against Bigotry

Huge credit to Barack for this:
WASHINGTON — President Obama delivered a strong defense on Friday night of a proposed Muslim community center and mosque near ground zero in Manhattan, using a White House dinner celebrating Ramadan to proclaim that “as a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country.”

“I understand the emotions that this issue engenders. Ground zero is, indeed, hallowed ground,” the president said in remarks prepared for the annual White House iftar, the sunset meal breaking the day’s fast.

But, he continued: “This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are.”
While I think the wording of a lot of these polls has been a bit misleading (do you favor building a mosque on HALLOWED GROUND ZERO 9/11 9/11 9/11?), there is absolutely no political gain in bringing up with issue if you're Obama and he deserves huge credit for doing the right thing regardless of the consequences.

All the other cowardly New York Democrats should take note.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Train of Thought Lounge: The Roots

The Roots: How I Got Over

Enjoy the weekend

D'apalooza calls...

Defending the Banks, It's All He Knows

The Chris Dodd I resigned because I was going to get my ass kicked farewell tour continues:
Despite the outpouring of support for bailout watchdog Elizabeth Warren's candidacy to lead a new consumer protection agency, one prominent Democrat continues to publicly stand in her way: Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd.

The Connecticut Democrat, who has lambasted lenders for taking advantage of cash-strapped borrowers and bank regulators for their poor record in protecting consumers, led the effort to get the recently-enacted financial reform law through Congress. The agency it calls for -- a unit specifically charged with protecting borrowers from predatory lenders -- survived attacks by the financial services industry and Republicans. It's now hailed as one of the Obama administration's top achievements.

But now that the fight has shifted from the creation of the agency to who's going to lead it, Dodd's role seems to have reversed, say some financial reform advocates -- rather than fighting for the toughest possible advocate to fight for consumers and families, he's openly doubting the wisdom of that selection. And it's not clear whether the two have even had a meeting in the last year.

Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard Law professor with an expertise in bankruptcy and consumer finances, came up with the idea for the agency in a 2007 article. Courted by Congressional Democrats and the White House, she's served as the public face of the campaign to get the idea enacted into law. And since the fall of 2008 she's led the Congressional Oversight Panel, a watchdog agency keeping tabs on the government's massive bailout of the financial and auto industries.

More than 60 members of the House and a dozen-plus senators have urged President Barack Obama to nominate Warren for the consumer post, including House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank. So have the country's largest unions, consumer advocacy groups, law school professors, and a handful of Republicans. Other than Dodd, not a single Democrat in national politics has publicly objected to her nomination.
He's no longer running for political office, so he must just really, really love the banking industry. Heckuva job.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Democrats Vs. Republicans

Ezra Klein highlights a chart that really should be blasted everywhere until the end of time.

The Obama Tax Plan vs the Bush Tax Plan:

I'm not sure how we seem to lose the messaging wars on taxes so consistently when this chart has been the Republican blueprint for governance since the dawn of time.


It's really not that hard!

Doing It Wrong

Robert Gibbs' apology was missing the apology part:
Speaking publicly for the first time since he disparaged the "professional left," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said he stands by his comments, has no plans to resign and that he fully expects progressive voters to go to the polls in 2010.

The press secretary did not name names when pressed as to whom he was targeting with his criticism. The professional left was defined by Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton as primarily cable news pundits. But no one on the TV circuit, let alone in public office, has called for the Pentagon to be eliminated. Gibbs hinted, briefly, that Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) had done as much on the presidential campaign trail, only to have CBS's Chip Reid correct him. Kucinich had promoted a Department of Peace.

A day after the controversy over Gibbs' remarks was seemingly been put to rest by a quick walk-back from the press secretary, Wednesday's briefing seems likely to reignite the debate over the White House's relationship with liberals. But if there was nervousness over base voters not heading to the polls, Gibbs didn't show it:

"I don't think [liberal voters won't show up]," he said, "because I think what's at stake in November is too important to do that."
You're all a bunch of stupid idiots who want to eliminate the Pentagon, but of course you'll be excited to vote anyway because you're all such fucking stupid people with worthless unrealistic socialist expectations in your small inferior brains.

Feel like canvasing yet?

Maybe you'd like to give us money instead?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hey, Let's Listen To These Guys!

Robert Reich:
Fed Chair Alan Greenspan tells the New York Times all the Bush tax cuts should expire as scheduled, even those that benefit the middle class and not the rich. His reason: the nation's looming deficit requires it.

On Sunday, former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, appearing on CNN, says any further effort to stimulate the economy would be "counter productive," and that policy makers instead should craft a deficit-reduction plan.
. . .
In 1999, both Greenspan and Rubin urged Congress to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act that had safely separated commercial from investment banking. In 2000 they argued against allowing the Commodity Futures Trading Corporation to regulate derivatives. Until recently, Rubin ran the executive committee at Citigroup, whose excesses required a massive taxpayer bailout. In 2001 Greenspan supported the Bush tax cuts that blew a gigantic hole in the federal deficit and mostly benefited the wealthy. In 2002 he lowered interest rates to near zero but refused to oversee how banks were using their almost-free borrowings.
The reason that people still listen to these idiots is that people that 99% of reporting that quotes either Rubin or Greenspan doesn't mention anything from that last paragraph.

David Dayen nails it:
I’m not saying the Internet was fated to turn out the way it did, or that it necessarily would have led to economic growth. And I’m not saying the Clinton economic team had nothing to do with the creation of 23 million jobs during its tenure (while also setting the stage for the eventual financial crisis, it must be told). But surely they faced a far less daunting time than we did at the end of 2008. I remember hearing Bill Clinton say that the new Administration “can’t do things the way we did it,” and that’s right. But that hasn’t seemed to hit home with the neoliberals who are, as we now know, basically in charge of the Obama economic team.

So we get too-small stimulus packages, even before Congress gets their hands on them. And we get this rhetorical emphasis on deficit reduction, which started at the end of 2009, actually, in leaked trial balloons about the State of the Union, and which has fueled all the deficit talk from that point forward, to the extent that even no-brainer actions like extending unemployment during a time of crisis becomes agonizing. This stems completely from a worldview that says, essentially, protect the banks, and let nature take its course. Now we have banks making record profits, but nature has been cruel to everyone without a Wall Street address. And the Robert Rubins of the world don’t have the imagination, or the desire, to think of what to do in that situation.
I think that last part nails it on the head. While fucking up is a constant of Rubin's career, we really can't undersell the idea that some of these people just straight up don't care. When you listen to Ben Bernanke, Tim Geithner and Larry Summers talk about the economy these days, it's hard to not get the sense that they're living in a fantasy world.

But that's not quite the case, and I honestly think part of it that they can't comprehend just how awful things are outside of their bubble. Their buddies had some rough times for a few months in 2008 but they're doing just fine now.

What's everyone else's problem?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Gibbs to Democrats: "Don't Turn Out The Vote"

The contempt that this White House holds for the people who got them elected is pretty stunning:
During an interview with The Hill in his West Wing office, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs blasted liberal naysayers, whom he said would never regard anything the president did as good enough.

“I hear these people saying he’s like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested,” Gibbs said. “I mean, it’s crazy.”

The press secretary dismissed the “professional left” in terms very similar to those used by their opponents on the ideological right, saying, “They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality.”

Of those who complain that Obama caved to centrists on issues such as healthcare reform, Gibbs said: “They wouldn’t be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president.”
Glenn Greenwald sums things up nicely:
Perhaps one day the White House can work itself up to express this sort of sputtering rage against the Right, or the Wall Street thieves who destroyed the American economy, or the permanent factions that control Washington.  Until then, we'll have to satisfy ourselves with White House explanations that the Real Culprits are not (of course) them, but the Professional Left, that is simultaneously totally irrelevant and ruining everything.  I'll give credit to Gibbs for putting his name on this outburst:  these are usually the things they say anonymously and then deny afterward on the record that it's what they think.
While most of the losers in the "professional left" like myself think Rush Limbaugh style liberal bashing is a pretty effective way of ensuring that no one who worked for Obama feels compelled to do so again, I have no doubt Gibbs, Emanuel and Messina are handing out high fives as if they fired Shirley Sherrod all over again. I'm honestly not sure which is sadder: that Gibbs thinks that this type of talk is what people want to hear, or that the White House equates very legitimate criticism from the left as trying to "eliminate the pentagon".

Oh well, it's a good thing they didn't listen to the idiots on the left, because we might not have 10% unemployment, which when combined with the White House's keep liberals at home strategy, should work nicely to hand the Democrats losses of epic proportions.

Have fun with Speaker Boehner, I bet he can teach you all kinds of new ways to trash your supporters.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Foreign Troops to Prevent Foreign Influence

Via Glenn Greenwald, this is the type of shit you can't make up:
Odierno: Troops staying in Iraq to prevent foreign interference

U.S. forces are staying in Iraq to prevent foreign powers from meddling with the new government, Gen. Ray Odierno said Sunday.

"A strong Iraq will defend itself against interference from outside countries, and I think as we build a strong Iraq and as we continue to build a strong security mechanism and as we continue to help them economically and diplomatically, that will make it less likely of others from the outside being able to interfere," he told ABC's Christiane Amanpour on "This Week."

Odierno said the United States will keep a "significant civilian presence" and 50,000 troops on the ground to "ensure that this government can be formed by the Iraqis, and that all the other nations respect their sovereignty as they go about forming their government."

"We will not allow undue maligned influence on the Iraqi government as they attempt to form their government," he said.
No foreign influence...

... except for the 50,000 or so foreign troops to ensure that more foreign troops don't show up.

The indefinite presence of a foreign influence to prevent foreign interference.

This makes sense.

The Knives Are Out

Fareed Zakaria deserves immense credit for this:
Five years ago, the ADL honored me with its Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize. I was thrilled to get the award from an organization that I had long admired. But I cannot in good conscience keep it anymore. I have returned both the handsome plaque and the $10,000 honorarium that came with it. I urge the ADL to reverse its decision. Admitting an error is a small price to pay to regain a reputation.
For the ADL it's far too late for them to regain any credibility, and hopefully this means they are on the downward spiral towards serious reform or nonexistence.

Without them, who would smear critics of Israel's disasterous foreign policy as anti-semites?

Friday, August 6, 2010

It's Larry Summers' World, We Just Live In It

The Larry Summers Experience continues:
Christina Romer, chairwoman of Pres. Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, has decided to resign, according to a source familiar with her plans.

Romer, an economics professor at the University of California (Berkeley) before taking the key admin post, did not respond to repeated calls to her office.

"She has been frustrated," a source with insight into the WH economics team said. "She doesn't feel that she has a direct line to the president. She would be giving different advice than Larry Summers [director of the National Economic Council], who does have a direct line to the president."
Christina Romer vs Larry Summers... hey, remember what their big fight was about?
Axelrod told me, “The basic message was that, if we didn’t act quickly to replace the output we were losing, unemployment could skyrocket.” Romer mentioned that employers had dropped more than half a million workers from the payrolls in November, the biggest cut in more than three decades. “The conditions are grim, and deteriorating rapidly,” she told the President.

The most important question facing Obama that day was how large the stimulus should be. Since the election, as the economy continued to worsen, the consensus among economists kept rising. A hundred-billion-dollar stimulus had seemed prudent earlier in the year. Congress now appeared receptive to something on the order of five hundred billion. Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel laureate, was calling for a trillion. Romer had run simulations of the effects of stimulus packages of varying sizes: six hundred billion dollars, eight hundred billion dollars, and $1.2 trillion. The best estimate for the output gap was some two trillion dollars over 2009 and 2010. Because of the multiplier effect, filling that gap didn’t require two trillion dollars of government spending, but Romer’s analysis, deeply informed by her work on the Depression, suggested that the package should probably be more than $1.2 trillion. The memo to Obama, however, detailed only two packages: a five-hundred-and-fifty-billion-dollar stimulus and an eight-hundred-and-ninety-billion-dollar stimulus. Summers did not include Romer’s $1.2-trillion projection. The memo argued that the stimulus should not be used to fill the entire output gap; rather, it was “an insurance package against catastrophic failure.” At the meeting, according to one participant, “there was no serious discussion to going above a trillion dollars.”
Romer, ignored then, ignored now, leaves the administration.

Larry Summers, was wrong about everything before he was hired and dead wrong about the size of the stimulus. He keeps his job, and remains the one that has Obama's ear.

But why should being wrong matter to Larry Summers, he's fucked up his entire career, yet he always manages to fail upwards.

Heckuva job, Barack. Have fun defending the Summers Administration and 9% unemployment in 2012.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Homosexuals are GAY!!!

I'll leave the actual legal analysis to RB, because in honor of the prop 8 ruling the Huffington Post gathered up some pictures of people fucking with anti gay protesters.

Check them out, here are a few of my favorites:

Also worth noting is Newt Gingrich's reaction:
"Judge Walker's ruling overturning Prop. 8 is an outrageous disrespect for our Constitution and for the majority of people of the United States who believe marriage is the union of husband and wife."
I'm pretty sure he meant to say is that marriage is the union of a husband and a wife who you leave while she's battling cancer, as well as the union with your second wife who you then leave for a mistress 26 years younger than you, and finally the third union between you and your mistress who you marry immediately after your second divorce becomes final.

With sacred unions like that under siege, no wonder he's so outraged!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

SCOTUS Docketwatch - Perry v. Schwarzegger Pt. 2

Greetings friends, I have finally managed to track down a copy of the decision that I can post online:
Prop 8 Ruling FINAL

Its 138 pages, so enjoy.

SCOTUS Docketwatch Pt. 1 – Federal Court strikes down California’s ban on Gay Marriage

BREAKING NEWS – US District Court Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that California’s proposition 8 violates the United States Consitution:

“Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license.  Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.”

More to come, I plan on reading the decision in full tonight and will follow-up with Part 2’s analysis of what this means and where the case will go in appeals.

Workplace Safety Is For Suckers

Today's moment in libertarian insanity, courtesy of Rand Paul:
Reform-minded lawmakers in both the House and Senate are pushing legislation to bolster the work-safety protections for miners working underground. But don't try to convince Rand Paul.

The Republican running to replace outgoing Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) in the coal-mining hub of Kentucky said recently that Washington has no business formulating mine safety rules.

"The bottom line is: I'm not an expert, so don't give me the power in Washington to be making rules," Paul said at a recent campaign stop in response to questions about April's deadly mining explosion in West Virginia, according to a profile in Details magazine. "You live here, and you have to work in the mines. You'd try to make good rules to protect your people here. If you don't, I'm thinking that no one will apply for those jobs."

"I know that doesn't sound … I want to be compassionate, and I'm sorry for what happened, but I wonder: Was it just an accident?"
So in magical libertarian world, every accidents are just accidents, even if they happen due to calculated attempts to violate basic safety standards in an attempt to increase profits. If there if a plant isn't safe, people will just GALT their talents to a safer job, because they are so many jobs available right now.

All of this would be funny (making fun of libertarians always is), except for the fact Rand Paul stands a very good chance of being elected to the Senate next year. Ugh.

Support Jack Conway!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Round and Round We Go...

Great news yesterday:
ATLANTA – Nearing a milestone in the long and divisive Iraq war, President Barack Obama on Monday hailed this month's planned withdrawal of all U.S. combat troops — "as promised and on schedule" — as a major success despite deep doubts about the Iraqis' ability to police and govern their country.
At the same time, we also get this from the Secretary of Defense:
Amid growing clamor against the war in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has cautioned that large numbers of US troops will remain even after a "limited" July 2011 drawdown.

Despite mounting casualties and public doubts, Gates said Sunday the US-led force was making headway and Taliban insurgents would not be able to wait out American forces because a major troop withdrawal was not on the horizon.

"I think we need to reemphasize the message that we are not leaving Afghanistan in July of 2011," said Gates, referring to a deadline set by President Barack Obama for the start of a withdrawal.
What we are doing there is anyone's guess. Time magazine's answer to that question is downright dispicable:

Yes, according to last month's Time magazine, if we leave Afghanistan after the longest war in US history, this is what happens. I'm sure for the sake of balance they did another cover featuring a the corpses of the thousands of Afghan civilians killed by our Predator drones with the title "What Happens If We Stay in Afghanistan" , but I probably missed it.

So that's what happens what we leave now? What a shameless piece propagandist bullshit. Maybe the people at Time are so stuck 2002 warmongering mode that they forgot that we ARE ALREADY IN AFGHANISTAN. The horrible act that disfigured this woman happened ON OUR WATCH, while we were occupying the country. So being there almost ten years didn't prevent the Taliban from treating women dispicably... another 5 years and we will have put an end to it? Maybe another 10? 20?

Obama's courageous opposition to the Iraq war was one of the main reasons I was excited about his candidacy early on. While he was very clear that escalating the war in Afghanistan was a central part of his foreign policy, it's very depressing to watch him bring one senseless war to an end while continuing an equally disastrous one indefinitely.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Some Of Our Best Friends Are Black! (Note: We Don't Actually Have Black Friends)

Sick of criticism about a lack of diversity in the within their ranks, the teabaggers decided enough was enough! Their plan: Have a major rally that would that would show everyone just how diverse they really are.

Nobody could have predicted this would be a complete disaster of hilarious proportions.

TPM attended so you don't have to:
For three hours, a small crowd drifted in and out of Independence Park as speakers and musicians regaled them with paranoia about Democratic politicians and policies and reassurances that no matter what anyone says, there's no racism in the tea party.

Even as just a regular old tea party rally, the event fell flat. Though organizers said the event's website had been visited more than 2 million times in the days leading up to today's rally outside Independence Hall, for most of the afternoon there were fewer than 500 in attendance. It was clear from the large numbers of volunteers and the 1,500 bottles the organizers put on ice that they expected a big crowd to turn out. They did not get it by a long shot. They blamed a traffic jam on I-95 for keeping people away (for the record one organizer said that she counted 1,500 on the high end of attendance, but that appeared a bit generous to us).
. . .
Among those who did make it, for most of the time the numbers of non-white faces could be counted on two hands, and maybe a foot.

The same can't be said for the group who went up on the event's small stage. Organizers promised the most diverse cadre of speakers ever to grace a tea party rally, and they delivered. For the most part their message was the same: tea partiers are not racists and never were -- but liberals are.

"The more liberals talk about race, the more they show who the real racists are," right-wing blogger Andre Harper told the crowd. "It's 2010. The tea party has officially moved on passed the race issue. The liberals can have it."
. . .
"I hope it has taken away any idea that the tea party is racist," Terry Adams of the Independence Hall Tea Party, a co-sponsor of the event, said. "The crowd today was more diverse than I've seen at a tea party rally."

J.N. and I were debating over the weekend what stunning decision making allowed this event to happen.

Step 1: We want people to stop calling us racists
Step 2: Let's host a rally to show how diverse we are!

[Something happens]

Step 3: Teabaggers host a rally where the crowd is not 100% white people.

It's pretty amazing that the teabagger organizers are so deluded that they couldn't see this spectacular failure coming. Even if you believe the evil liberal media was making up the racist signs at these rallies, you'd think they would have at least known not to promise something as insane as a diverse crowd.

With that said, since only TPM wrote about this, I'm not holding my breath for these facts to be revisited the next time the post decides to give a glowing front page profile to these assholes.

Marc A. Thiessen Must Be Stopped

Abloo bloo bloo, information is reaching the American public despite our best efforts to insulate them from the reality of our misadventures overseas, boo hoo :(

WikiLeaks is not a news organization; it is a criminal enterprise. Its reason for existence is to obtain classified national security information and disseminate it as widely as possible -- including to the United States' enemies. These actions are likely a violation of the Espionage Act, and they arguably constitute material support for terrorism. The Web site must be shut down and prevented from releasing more documents -- and its leadership brought to justice.

Guuuuyyyyyys, this Assange dude is killing my buzz! Can't someone bring him to justice before he tears the blinders off again?! :(

Assange seems to believe, incorrectly, that he is immune to arrest so long as he stays outside the United States. He leads a nomadic existence, operating in countries such as Sweden, Belgium and Iceland, where he believes he enjoys the protection of "beneficial laws." (He recently worked with the Icelandic parliament to pass legislation effectively making the country a haven for WikiLeaks). The United States should make clear that it will not tolerate any country -- and particularly NATO allies such as Belgium and Iceland -- providing safe haven for criminals who put the lives of NATO forces at risk.

Waaaahhh, I'm an empty shell of a human being, and the notion of an informed public potentially trying to rein in the deadly excesses of the military industrial complex disturbs me! Someone do something! Abloo bloo boo, I like it more when we only have to deal with the braindead American mainstream media, not with people who actually do reporting and break the cozy relationship we have with reporters.

Fighting Discrimination With Discrimination

The Anti-Defamation league is one of the shittiest organizations in the universe. Adam Sewer:
The Anti-Defamation League comes out against the proposed Islamic Center near Ground Zero:

The controversy which has emerged regarding the building of an Islamic Center at this location is counterproductive to the healing process. Therefore, under these unique circumstances, we believe the City of New York would be better served if an alternative location could be found.
In recommending that a different location be found for the Islamic Center, we are mindful that some legitimate questions have been raised about who is providing the funding to build it, and what connections, if any, its leaders might have with groups whose ideologies stand in contradiction to our shared values. These questions deserve a response, and we hope those backing the project will be transparent and forthcoming. But regardless of how they respond, the issue at stake is a broader one.
Proponents of the Islamic Center may have every right to build at this site, and may even have chosen the site to send a positive message about Islam. The bigotry some have expressed in attacking them is unfair, and wrong. But ultimately this is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right. In our judgment, building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center will cause some victims more pain unnecessarily and that is not right.
Remarkable. An organization whose stated role is to "counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry" nonetheless opposes people building where they please simply because of the faith they adhere to. Sure "bigotry is unfair and wrong", the ADL says, but we should give the bigots what they want anyway. It is inconceivable that the ADL would argue such a position if the building in question happened to be a synagogue, and the builders happened to be Jews.
Let's be clear. This is not about the proposed Islamic Center. There is already a masjid in the neighborhood, and it's been there for decades. This is about giving political cover to right-wing politicians using anti-Muslim bigotry as a political weapon and a fundraising tool. By doing this the ADL is increasingly eroding its already weakened credibility as a non-partisan organization.
Unreal. The ADL has been a joke for years (their courageous stand calling Walt and Mearsheimer anti-Semites will never be forgotten), but this is impressive even for them. Hopefully this is at least so over the top that people stop taking them seriously.