November 13, 2008 archive

Full Disclosure: I won’t be working in the Obama administration

According to The New York Times, “A seven-page questionnaire being sent by the office of President-elect Barack Obama to those seeking cabinet and other high-ranking posts may be the most extensive – some say invasive – application ever.”

Seven pages of deeply probing questions including “63 requests for personal and professional records, some covering applicants’ spouses and grown children as well”. Ouch.  

Another Food Safety Concern: GM Rice

There are so many reasons why we should be cautious about GM crops and the huge potential effects on humans whether it be through cross contamination/pollination or yet unknown impacts on the physical body. We still know next to nothing about long term effects of eating GM products and I imagine that this particular area of science is not being thoroughly investigated by the numerous biotech companies whom, supposedly in the name of prevention of starvation for the Third World countries, allow a small band of multinationals to control the sale and distribution of the seed-stocks across the world.

I am writing this diary because an acquaintance of mine, who is the head chef in a fashionable Indian restaurant in London, related this story to me a few months ago. Last week he found more evidence of GM rice (Bt63) in wholesale suppliers. Even though this rice is banned in Europe it seems that it keeps finding its way into Asian eateries. It might have entered the food chain in the US. Always check the labels.

Cross-posted on the Big orange and our blog, La Vida Locavore.

Four at Four

  1. The three big U.S. papers all cover the suicide attack on a U.S. convy in Afghanistan. The LA Times reports that At least 18 Afghan civilians and a U.S. soldier are reportedly killed in the attack at a busy market. “The attack outside the eastern city of Jalalabad also left scores of market patrons and other bystanders injured and pointed up one of the conflict’s grimmest ongoing patterns: civilians being caught up almost daily in insurgent attacks aimed at foreign troops.” The death toll is now at 18.

    The NY Times adds “One of the dead was a 12-year-old boy, who died when a suicide car bomber in a Toyota Corolla approached an American military convoy and then swerved into a weekly market at around 8 a.m., according to American and Afghan accounts. Dr. Ajmal Pardes, the director of public health in the area, said 74 people were injured.”

    According to the Washington Post, “at least 17 U.S. soldiers had sustained injuries in the attack.” This was the “the second major Taliban strike in two days. On Wednesday, six people were killed and 40 wounded in southern Kandahar City after a suicide bomber in a tanker truck packed with explosives attacked the offices of the provincial council there.”

Four at Four continues with a Blackwater wrist slap, Obama and Iran, and the deadly pollution from Asia.

The Alternatives to Impeachment

A comment by Shahryar

my fantasy remains this….  

“I, Barack Obama…..blah blah blah….so help me God”

pause….Obama turns and points to Bush and Cheney and says “Arrest these men!”

This ‘fantasy’ is, By the Blessed Blinded Eyes of Justice, what SHOULD happen.


The President of The United States has broken the Law, and we are (in theory) a Nation of Laws, not a Nation of Men. Justice should know no boundaries of rank or privilege. True justice does not.

Be we do not live in a world of true justice. We live in a world of conditional justice, where there is one form of ‘justice’ for the poor and disadvantaged and differently colored, and another justice for the rich and privileged and connected.

I shall not address here, the ridiculous claim that one commenter med that there have been no crimes committed or no evidence fit to present for prosecution. Our President is guilty. Guilty of domestic spying by his own admission, and guilty of torture by his signed authorizations. Retroactive immunity passed by a cowardly and complicit Congress does not alleviate that guilt, it merely adds accessories. Corrupting the Department of Justice to the point of your henchmen, minions and co-conspirators there to the point that they will not allow even an investigation by serving subpoenas does not obliterate his guilt, it merely obscures it.

Or…perhaps…he is not. Perhaps the aggressive invasion of a sovereign nation in direst contravention of the Nuremberg accords was…an accident. Perhaps they really believed that attaching electrodes to a prisoners genitals or beating them to death while they were chained and helpless was just…a misunderstanding. perhaps the treasonous exposure of an entire CIA counter-terrorism unit for spite and politics was ….hmmmmm, even my imagination can’t come up with anything for that.

But….This is why we have TRIALS.

Spat upon by Hippies

You probably think I mean the myth that real soldiers got “spat upon by hippies” don’t you?  Well, I was a semi-real soldier (or would that be a real, semi-soldier, since I was in the USAF) who was stationed in Northern California in the 70’s, and spent much time in the great hippie bastion of San Francisco where I was treated….well, I really wasn’t treated any particular way, generally I was either ignored or accepted after some conversation.  Like “Do you like the new Quicksilver Messenger Service album or something like that.  Hell I even stood in line on Thanksgiving ’76 around winterland with the longhairs waiting to get into the Last Waltz and we all shared what we had….

No, the guy that got spat on wasn’t a soldier for his country, he was a Soldier for Reagan.  Now he is governor Tim Pawlenty, but back in the day he “passed out brochures for him [Reagan], on the West Bank of the University of Minnesota and got spat on by hippies”

Some Thoughts On Voter Turnout

Although official voter turnout figures won’t be available until the 2008 elections are certified in each state, Dr. Michael McDonald of George Mason University has published a list of estimated voter turnout percentages.  

My revised national turnout rate for those eligible to vote is 61.2% or 130.4 million ballots cast for president. This represents an increase of 1.1 percentage points over the 60.1% turnout rate of 2004, but it falls short of the 1968 turnout rate of 62.5%.

McDonald has also compiled some statistics on early voting in the 2008 election.  The information is a bit jumbled and incomplete, but the bottom line I was looking for suggests that 25.7% of votes cast nationally were cast early, compared to 22.5% in the 2004 election.  With all the stories we heard about a massive turnout expected, I was curious how early voting affected the turnout in states that offer it and whether either candidate gained a clear advantage from early voting.

Letting the Foxes watch the Henhouse

Honestly what did they expect?

The bailout is a mess!!!! Who would have thought?

The guys who brought us this mess are still in charge….what makes anyone think that they have any rational answers that will correct anything???

I say, get out the Circular Firing Squad….get rid of them all so change can commence.

Open Thread


Whole Lotta Thread.

Iraq War Ends: Bush Indicted For High Treason

According to a New York Times Special Edition this morning, both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have been finally brought to an end, and all US troops in both countries will begin returning home immediately.

Across the country and around the world thousands have taken to the streets to celebrate the culmination of years of progressive pressuring of the Bush administration and Congress.

Condoleeza Rice has publicly apologized on behalf of the Bush administration and admitted that the administration simply lied through it’s teeth to justify the initial invasion, that she and Mr. Bush had known well before the invasion that Saddam Hussein lacked weapons of mass destruction, and that the hundreds of thousands of US Troops in the country in fact never did face instant obliteration.

“It was all complete and utter bullshit” Secretary Rice said tearfully, as she begged a weary nation for forgiveness, while she was led away in handcuffs by four burly officers.

George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States, was indicted Monday on charges of high treason, took it like a man, and didn’t even stamp his foot, or curl his lip.

In other news, the controversial USA PATRIOT Act was repealed by Congress by a vote of 99-1 in the Senate and 520 to 18 in the House, Congress has voted to nationalize the entire oil industry and place ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, and other major oil companies under public stewardship to fund addressing climate change worldwide.

My New Hero: Bob Herbert (Updated)

PhotobucketLast night Bob Herbert was on Tweety’s “Hardball” along with Howard Finemann to discuss Bush’s interview (youtube link) with Heidi Collins of CNN. During the interview, Bush finally admits to some “mistakes” during his presidency…he wishes he hadn’t said “dead or alive” when talking about Bin Laden after 9/11, he wishes he hadn’t said “bring ’em on,” and he regrets the “Mission Accomplished” banner.

Tweety and Finemann had a few laughs about it all…Bush finally admitting mistakes and talking about how his wife had been the one to call him on them.

Then they asked Herbert for his thoughts. Bob was sober – no laughs. He pointed out that there were no apologies for things like extraordinary rendition, torture, etc. It totally caught Tweety off guard. He had to admit the seriousness of the reality Herbert was referring to and somehow explain his casual approach to it all. It was truly a profound TV moment.  

New Jersey Loses A Good One

A little bit of shuffling in New Jersey’s state government leading up to next year’s elections.  New Jersey holds state elections in the “odd-numbered” years – in 2009 there will be a gubernatorial election with incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine (D-Hoboken) running for a second term, while all 80 seats in New Jersey’s General Assembly (the Lower House of the NJ State Legislature, currently controlled by Democrats 48-32) will be up for election.  Elections for seats in the Upper House (the NJ State Senate, currently controlled by Democrats 23-17) are held in years ending in 1, 3 and 7.  A “2-4-4 cycle” in order to reflect redistricting changes due to the Census.

In the midst of a recent certain other (heh…) important and closely-watched election, came news that Charles Kuperus, the head of New Jersey’s Department of Agriculture, has resigned the position he’s held for the past six years after originally being appointed by former Governor Jim McGreevey.

As someone who grew up in New Jersey, and was a resident as recently as two years ago…I’m sad to say that we lost a really good one here –

“Charlie has been taking the heat from many in the farm community who would rather be able to sell their land to developers, growing houses [rather] than crops,” Tittel said. “He has helped protect farming for the future.”

Crossposted from La Vida Locavore, more below the fold…

Docudharma Times Thursday November 13

The Bailout Money

Everyone Wants Some: Corporations And Lobbyists

So When Are The People Going To Get Help?    

Thursday’s Headlines:

Congress isn’t waiting for Obama

UN to send 3,000 more troops to east Congo

Sudan President Omar al-Bashir’s ceasefire call rejected by Darfur rebels

Robert Fisk: Double agents, car bombs and antics worthy of James Bond

Iranian diplomat kidnapped in Pakisan

Victims of Philippines dirty war

North Korea hits back at balloon activism from South

Vladimir Putin closes in on presidency

German economy now in recession

Among Latin leftists, Brazil’s moderate Lula leads the way

G.M.’s Troubles Stir Question of Bankruptcy vs. a Bailout



Published: November 12, 2008

DETROIT – Momentum is building in Washington for a rescue package for the auto industry to head off a possible bankruptcy filing by General Motors, which is rapidly running low on cash.

But not everyone agrees that a Chapter 11 filing by G.M. would be the disaster that many fear. Some experts note that while bankruptcy would be painful, it may be preferable to a government bailout that may only delay, at considerable cost, the wrenching but necessary steps G.M. needs to take to become a stronger, leaner company.

Although G.M.’s labor contracts would be at risk of termination in a bankruptcy, setting up a potential confrontation with its unions, the company says its pension obligations are largely financed for its 479,000 retirees and their spouses.

A Mystery Glows On Saturn  


 Scientists say the northern lights on Saturn are unlike anything they’ve ever seen, on Earth or elsewhere in the solar system. Infrared imagery from the Cassini orbiter, released today to accompany research published in the journal Nature, only adds to the mystery at the top of the ringed planet.

Saturn’s north pole is already home to a bizarre six-sided cyclone that planetary scientists haven’t yet figured out. That observation marked the first time a hexagon had been seen in atmospheric patterns. The northern auroral displays, monitored by Cassini’s visual and infrared mapping spectrometer, also go against the conventional wisdom.



Bailout Lacks Oversight Despite Billions Pledged

Watchdog Panel Is Empty; Report Is Unfinished

By Amit R. Paley

Washington Post Staff Writer

Thursday, November 13, 2008; Page A01

In the six weeks since lawmakers approved the Treasury’s massive bailout of financial firms, the government has poured money into the country’s largest banks, recruited smaller banks into the program and repeatedly widened its scope to cover yet other types of businesses, from insurers to consumer lenders.

Along the way, the Bush administration has committed $290 billion of the $700 billion rescue package.

Yet for all this activity, no formal action has been taken to fill the independent oversight posts established by Congress when it approved the bailout to prevent corruption and government waste. Nor has the first monitoring report required by lawmakers been completed, though the initial deadline has passed.

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