January 23, 2009 archive

Four at Four

  1. Is the Military-Industrial Complex alive and well in the Obama administration? The LA Times reports a Top Raytheon lobbyist picked for deputy Defense post.

    A day after President Obama issued tough new ethics rules for administration employees, a key lawmaker raised questions about his nomination of a lobbyist to the No. 2 position at the Pentagon.

    William Lynn III, the top lobbyist for Raytheon Co., was chosen by Obama and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates for the position of deputy secretary of Defense.

    The new ethics rules banned lobbyists from serving in the administration. But the executive order allowed waivers letting some former lobbyists to take government jobs if doing so is in the public interest…

    If confirmed for his position, Lynn probably would have a large say in the future of the missile defense system. If the Obama administration decided to scale that program back dramatically, for instance, it would affect Raytheon.

    Raytheon is one of top five U.S. defense contractors.

  2. Meanwhile at the Defense War Department, the LA Times reports a Suspected U.S. missile attacks kill 18 in Pakistan. “In the first such strikes since the inauguration of President Barack Obama, suspected U.S. missile barrages today killed at least 18 people in the lawless tribal region near the Afghan border, Pakistani officials said.” Pakistan has repeatedly protested these attacks.

Four at Four continues with Marines leaving Iraq, Geithner says China manipulates its currency, and the Senate passes the Lilly Ledbetter fair pay act.

Obama and the New Terrain of Battle, Part 3: No Detour

This is last part of a piece I finished right before the the inauguration and am posting at Docudharma in sections. You can catch both Part 1, on the upsurge of mass struggle, and Part 2, on the anti-war movement, here. Or just go read the whole thing over at Fire on the Mountain, where there are a couple interesting comments.

No Detour Past the Collapse of the Economy

I’ve had a little trouble with my roadway metaphors for this one. I thought about the collapsed bridge in Minneapolis (with overtones of The Bridge To Nowhere), Given all the rebuild-the-infrastructure talk, it seemed a natural.

But what the new administration is facing today is a collapsed global financial system and a rapidly crumbling global economy.

In other words, the actual fact is that we are, all of us, sitting on that metaphorical bridge right now while it comes apart beneath us. Furthermore, it is unclear where a rebuilt bridge might (or should) wind up anchored.

Did Obama Just ‘Bomb’ Pakistan?


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Jan. 23 — At least 20 people were killed in northwest Pakistan near the border of Afghanistan on Friday in two suspected U.S. missile strikes, marking the first such attack in Pakistan’s tribal areas since President Obama’s inauguration.

A U.S. Predator drone fired three missiles at a compound about two miles from the town of Mirali in the tribal area of North Waziristan about 5:15 p.m., according to a Pakistani security official and local residents. The precision strike leveled a compound, which was owned by local tribal elder Khalil Malik, killing at least 10 suspected militants, including five foreign nationals, according to the Pakistani security official. The site of the attack is about 30 miles east of the Afghan border.

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

Raw Story

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs’ second White House press briefing started with a series of questions on economics and the stimulus package, but it wasn’t long before a reporter asked about alleged US missile strikes in Pakistan which reportedly killed 15 early Friday morning.

But Gibbs refused to answer the question by NBC News’ Chuck Todd, saying, “I’m not going to get into this matter.”

All kinds of implications here, and no hard news yet, other than the bare facts. Was it a ‘good strike?’ Or another bloody botch? Was this such a ‘good target’ that he had to take a shot? Did Bushco have this info but not act on it? Perhaps due to the fact that they have SEEMED to be protecting Bin Laden instead of getting him ‘dead or alive’ for the last five years? As well as SEEMING to be overly invested and thus handcuffed by internal Pakistani politics? (A true can of worms due to nukes and the nefarious and odious ISI.)

Is he “announcing his presence with authority?”

More ‘wow’ fer sure. I of course condemn…and have a knee jerk reaction to… any loss of life. But Obama is, unfortunately going to have to be ‘tough’ and kill people, I have resigned myself to that. I just hope that we have stopped bombing weddings, at least. We shall see.

Learning to Ignore Republicans, Is This Post-Partisanship?

In case anybody hasn’t been paying attention lately, we are in a time of change. MAJOR change. Just in the last few days more things have changed than we can even really keep track of effectively! Fr’instnace! Wow! That would have been HUGE news a few months ago, and now it is not even in the headlines or on the reclist. There is just too much change……Yipee!

When we have such a huge paradigm shift as that which we are apparently enjoying, it takes our little antiquated brains and emotions a while to catch up. Momentum carries us through the day far more than actual thought or perception. An ill wind has been blowing for what seems like an eternity. That fan has now been unplugged…..but even after you unplug the fan, the blades keep turning. The momentum of that power lasts for a while. Thus is it now with the Republicans.

Two things made me reflect on this. First this lede in an article about yet another big change that is under the radar a bit, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act passing in the Senate. To quote the lede…”Boy, it feels good to have an occasional victory, doesn’t it?”

My response….get used to it!


Hey, Al Gore — Cold Enough For Ya?

Brrrrrr!!!!  It sure has been cold out lately, doncha think?  Even Florida is havin’ trouble keepin’ their crops from freezin’ and lots of record low temperatures were observed there in the Midwest last week.  What the heck ever happened to that Global Warming that Al Gore promised us?  I was lookin’ forward to it!  Nobody gets to see my best political assets if I’m all bundled up in a parka.  

I ain’t the only one who thinks it’s cold out.  A local businessman here in Fairbanks, Craig Compeau, is teachin’ Al Gore a lesson in meteorology.  Compeau and local artist Steve Dean unveiled an ice sculpture of Al, over 8 feet tall, shiverin’ and lookin’ like a fool from bein’ so cold.  Al is gonna have a lot of explainin’ to do when he testifies about climate change in the Senate next week.  Gosh darn it, if only Uncle Ted was still in the Senate!  He could grill Al about how the heck this giant sculpture can exist if the earth is really warmin’ up.    

The Global Flag Anthem

Found at the Peace Mural Foundation Site

They had a showing in Washington DC in December ’08, the following is what is found under the Video at the Peace Mural, adding a couple of links that I found:

Open Thread


In Search Of…. Thread

Docudharma Times Friday January 23

Spending The Public’s Money

The Old Fashioned Way On A Toilet  

Friday’s Headlines:

They came for the inauguration but got stuck in a tunnel

Israel may swap prisoners for soldier

Fatah fears Gaza conflict has put Hamas in the ascendancy

Congo and Rwanda forces arrest rebel leader Laurent Nkunda

Millions of caterpillars devour Liberia crops

Lebedev to invest ‘tens of millions’ after snapping up Standard for £1

Closing Guantánamo: Will Europeans take detainees?

Sri Lanka editor stabbed in latest attack on media

Thailand accused of mistreating Muslim refugees

Bolivians set to vote on new constitution

Freed by U.S., Saudi Becomes a Qaeda Chief


Published: January 22, 2009

BEIRUT, Lebanon – The emergence of a former Guantánamo Bay detainee as the deputy leader of Al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch has underscored the potential complications in carrying out the executive order President Obama signed Thursday that the detention center be shut down within a year.

The militant, Said Ali al-Shihri, is suspected of involvement in a deadly bombing of the United States Embassy in Yemen’s capital, Sana, in September. He was released to Saudi Arabia in 2007 and passed through a Saudi rehabilitation program for former jihadists before resurfacing with Al Qaeda in Yemen.

His status was announced in an Internet statement by the militant group and was confirmed by an American counterterrorism official.

No Home to Return to in Gaza

15,000 Still Living In Crowded Shelters

By Griff Witte

Washington Post Foreign Service

Friday, January 23, 2009; Page A12

GAZA CITY, Jan. 22 — When members of the Sultan family ran from their home as an Israeli tank shelled its northern wall, there was no time to shut the front door. There was also no need.

The house, which family patriarch Samir al-Sultan began building at the age of 15, was all but destroyed as Israeli forces advanced into the Gaza Strip in early January, turning the house’s contents into a mangled mess of glass and mortar.

With no home to return to and no prospects for rebuilding, the Sultans on Thursday were among the thousands of Palestinians in Gaza searching for somewhere to go.



Stimulus Plan Meets More GOP Resistance

Obama to Reiterate Appeal for Bipartisanship

By Paul Kane

Washington Post Staff Writer

Friday, January 23, 2009; Page A01

Just days after taking office vowing to end the political era of “petty grievances,” President Obama ran into mounting GOP opposition yesterday to an economic stimulus plan that he had hoped would receive broad bipartisan support.

Republicans accused Democrats of abandoning the new president’s pledge, ignoring his call for bipartisan comity and shutting them out of the process by writing the $850 billion legislation. The first drafts of the plan would result in more spending on favored Democratic agenda items, such as federal funding of the arts, they said, but would do little to stimulate the ailing economy.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

Cape Disappointment


Astoria, Oregon

air rich with wet

fog when there is not rain

weather forecast: damp

The Columbia meets the Pacific

crashing with much ado

salt-water taffy and arcades

left in its wake

south of Cape Disappointment

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–July 9, 2008

News Special

An Open Thread.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Citing US values, Obama will close Guantanamo

By JENNIFER LOVEN, AP White House Correspondent

12 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Breaking forcefully with Bush anti-terror policies, President Barack Obama ordered major changes Thursday that he said would halt the torture of suspects, close down the Guantanamo detention center, ban secret CIA prisons overseas and fight terrorism “in a manner that is consistent with our values and our ideals.”

“We intend to win this fight. We’re going to win it on our terms,” Obama declared, turning U.S. policy abruptly on just his second full day in office. He also put a fresh emphasis on diplomacy, naming veteran troubleshooters for Middle East hotspots.

The policies and practices that Obama said he was reversing have been widely reviled overseas, by U.S. allies as well as in less-friendly Arab countries. President George W. Bush said the policies were necessary to protect the nation after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks – though he, too, had said he wanted Guantanamo closed at some point.

Late Night Karaoke

Don’t Ask Why

Bow Wow Wow – I Want Candy

Quote for Discussion: Hail Satan!

the best ever death metal band out of denton

were a couple of guys, who’d been friends since grade school.

one was named cyrus, and the other was jeff.

and they practiced twice a week in jeff’s bedroom.

the best ever death metal band out of denton

never settled on a name.

but the top three contenders, after weeks of debate,

were satan’s fingers, and the killers, and the hospital bombers.

jeff and cyrus believed in their hearts they were headed

for stage lights and leer jets, and fortune and fame.

so in script that made prominent use of a pentagram,

they stenciled their drumheads and guitars with their names.

this was how cyrus got sent to the school

where they told him he’d never be famous.

and this was why jeff,

in the letters he’d write to his friend,

helped develop a plan to get even.

when you punish a person for dreaming his dream,

don’t expect him to thank or forgive you.

the best ever death metal band out of denton

will in time both outpace and outlive you.

hail satan!

hail satan tonight!

hail satan!

hail hail!

-The Mountain Goats, The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out of Denton

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