"...some journalists say privately they are censoring their comments about Palin to avoid looking like they're piling on...." — Howard Kurtz, political gossip columnist for the Washington Post, proving that Rich Bond's strategy really does work
Ehud Olmert suddenly endorses the only viable solution, just as he becomes powerless to implement it:
"We have to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, the meaning of
which is that in practice we will withdraw from almost all the
territories, if not all the territories," Olmert said. "We will leave a
percentage of these territories in our hands, but will have to give the
Palestinians a similar percentage, because without that there will be
no peace." ...
another point, Olmert said: "In the end, we will have to withdraw from
the lion's share of the territories, and for the territories we leave
in our hands, we will have to give compensation in the form of
territories within the State of Israel at a ratio that is more or less
I look forward to Olmert's upcoming award-winning documentary film on this topic: An Un-Kosher Truth.
In the same interview Olmert also said, “Part of our megalomania and our loss of proportions is
the things that are said here about Iran." Presumably he was talking about people like this raving loon who called Ahmadinejad "a psychopath of the worst kind" who "speaks as Hitler did in his time of the extermination of the entire Jewish nation."
Yuks aside, I give Olmert credit for statements like this: "I am not trying to justify retroactively what I did for 35 years. For a
large portion of these years, I was unwilling to look at reality in all
its depth." Just once, though, I'd like to see a major political figure in the US or Israel have (or reveal) one of these epiphanies while they're still in a position to do something about it.
Worldwide man-made emissions of carbon dioxide — the main gas that
causes global warming — jumped 3 percent last year, international
scientists said Thursday.
That means the world is spewing more
carbon dioxide than the worst case scenario forecast by a Nobel
Prize-winning group of international scientists in 2007. Scientists
said if the trend does not stop, it puts the world potentially on track
for the highest predicted rises in temperature and sea level.
In a sane world this would have been the major (if not sole) topic of discussion during Friday's presidential debate, eclipsing relative trivialities like the economic crisis or the Iraq war. But since that didn't happen, you should imagine a pithily-presented analogy here about some guy bursting onto the bridge of the Titanic, yelling warnings about a huge iceberg just up ahead, but being told to pipe down so the captain and crew can try to resolve their days-long running argument about whether or not to cancel the shuffleboard tournament.
Now, I'd like nothing more than to craft this analogy and present it with a wry and knowing style which would, I'd hope, provide you with no end of amusement—but the impending (and now accelerating) dissolution of human life as we know it on this planet is putting a damper on my enthusiasm for the project. Y'know? So there it is: some guy, Titanic, iceberg, shuffleboard tournament. Now, imagine laughing!
When I first saw Obama's campaign logo I couldn't help but notice an eerie resemblance to another one:
Which is a fitting analogy, given that the similarities between the two parties in this country are on a par with the differences between Coke and Pepsi (genuine, yet mainly of interest to purists)—as this sly bit of Nader campaigning makes clear:
Scary, isn't it? And the sad part is that the differences between the Republican and Democratic candidate are as great this time around as they've been in a long time. Obama may not be much (and his better qualities are dwindling by the day), but when it comes to Democratic presidential offerings he's as good as it gets.
Our findings suggest that in these terms the surge has had no observable effect, except insofar as it has helped to provide a seal of approval for a process of ethno-sectarian neighborhood homogenization that is now largely achieved but with a tremendous decline in the extent of residential intermixing between groups and a probable significant loss of population in some areas. That is the message we take from the nighttime light data we have presented. Furthermore, the nighttime light signature of Baghdad data when matched with ground data provided by the report to the US Congress by Marine Corps General Jones and various other sources, makes it clear that the diminished level of violence in Iraq since the onset of the surge owes much to a vicious process of interethnic cleansing.
So now when you're arguing with that Hannity-watching uncle or those Bush-loving coworkers you can pull out this ultimate surge trump card and prove to them, scientifically, that the surge didn't work. Unless you're worried that people who reject the scientific consensus on global warming and think the planet is about 6000 years old might also reject the use of nighttime light signature distributions to evaluate the effectiveness of military tactics.
But does that really sound likely? C'mon. No, I'm sure they'll relent in the face of your irrefutable evidence, renounce their entire right-wing worldview, and demand that you take them to the next anti-war rally.
Here's an excerpt from the bailout plan Henry Paulson has been demanding that Congress pass as soon as humanly possible:
Sec. 8. Review.
Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.
And here's Paulson "explaining" what he really meant by this:
We gave you a simple three-page legislative outline, and I thought it would have been presumptuous for us on that outline to come up with an oversight mechanism. That’s the role of Congress. That’s something we’re going to work on together. So if any of you felt that I didn’t believe that we needed oversight, I believe we need oversight. We need oversight. We need protection. We need transparency. I want it. We all want it.
Paulson then proceeded to piss in a glass and offer it to the Senators as cool, refreshing lemonade.
Here's Peggy Hill in a speech she was prevented from delivering (thankfully, for sane people everywhere):
The world must awake to the threat this man poses to all of us. Ahmadinejad denies that the Holocaust ever took place. He dreams of being an agent in a "Final Solution" - the elimination of the Jewish people.
Someone needs to inform Iran's Jewish community ("who make up the largest community of Jews in the Middle East outside the Jewish state") about this, since they're obviously unaware of the grave danger they face from this genocidal madman:
But despite what appears to be a dwindling minority
under constant threat of persecution, Iranian Jews say they live in
relative freedom in the Islamic Republic, remain loyal to the land of
their birth, and are striving to separate politics from religion.
They caution against comparing Iran's official and visceral
opposition to the creation of Israel and Zionism with the regime's
acceptance of Jews and Judaism itself.
And someone really should clue poor Ahmadinejad in to the fact that there are so many Jews living in Iran, since he clearly has no idea he could start his Final Solutioning right there in his own back yard. Why, even his own office is sneaking around behind his back donating money to Jewish hospitals! Dude is gonna be pissed.
(Of course, it would just be plain cruel for anyone to dash Ahmadinejad's dreams of genocide by reminding him that he's largely a figurehead with no power to implement them, since Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini "has control over the military, judiciary and any critical policy matter, both domestic and foreign.".)
Someone needs to make this man President, immediately:
This country can no longer afford companies that are too big to fail.
If a company is so large that its failure would cause systemic harm to our economy, if it is too big to fail, then it is too big to exist. If it is too big to fail, it is too big to exist.
I'm absolutely serious about this. In fact I'm so serious that I'm offering a formal prayer to the god or gods in whom I don't believe to please 1) determine the order of succession for the Presidency, and 2) arrange for those in the way to be...uhh...moved...out of the way (*WINK WINK*) until Bernie Sanders' name comes up. May I suggest one of the lightning-quick, 90% fatal viruses that you, in your infinite and beneficent love, have seen fit to plague us with? Or maybe lightning itself would be quicker and more impressive. Hey, you're the god, not me—I won't tell you your business. But let's get this done, can we? Amen.
Some other delectable tidbits from this speech:
"In my view, we need an emergency surtax on those at the very top in
order to pay for any losses the Federal Government suffers as a result
of efforts to shore up the economy."
"Both of these crises are
tied to the same extreme economic ideology--an ideology which says the
Government should play no role--or a minimum role--in protecting
consumers; that we should put all of our trust in the honesty and the
integrity of the heads of large multinational corporations."
"This Congress needs to put an end to the radical deregulation that was
pushed by Senator Phil Gramm and many other Republicans, and Democrats
who went along with that as well. ... what we need to do once again is have the U.S. Government play an
important role in protecting the people of this country against the
greed of large corporate interests."
Someone tell Ralph Nader that Sanders is stealing his stuff!
Oh, hey, remember that act of war Israel committed last year against Syria with US assistance? In a development that should surprise no one, it turns out that the claims about the Syrian site were likely false:
analysis of samples from a Syrian site bombed by Israel do not back up
US claims that the target was a secret nuclear facility, diplomats have
While the results of tests carried out by the International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA) are preliminary, two diplomats have said that the
agency does not expect other samples to contradict initial results.
This is immaterial, of course; even if Syria had been manufacturing nuclear weapons, sarin gas, cherry bombs, and really nasty Dobermans at the site, Israel had no legal basis for attacking it. But like its patron, Israel never lets trivial formalities like international law get in the way.
What's extraordinary to me, though, is how thoroughly the (inherited) right of Israel to attack any country at any time with any justification is recognized in the West, so much so as to be all but transparent. Just take one moment to think what the response would be from talking heads and the political class over here if Syria attacked the Israeli nuclear reactor in Dimona—which actually is a nuclear reactor, actually does contribute to nuclear weapons proliferation, and actually does represent a threat not only to Syria but the entire Middle East.
The silver lining, such as it is: at least this attack didn't have as deadly an effect as the similar US crime of bombing the Al Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Sudan in 1998, which likely led to tens of thousands of deaths.
I recently learned about this ad (via), which shows a couple from Minnesota (the Andersons) whose son was killed in Iraq, blaming his death on Senator Norm Coleman's support of the war. The purpose of the ad is to get you to vote for Al Franken, who would—we're apparently intended to assume—have acted differently. Wouldn't he? Let's compare some quotes from the ad with Franken's own words:
Ad: I don't blame the Army for our son's death. I just blame the bad policies on President Bush, Norm Coleman, who voted for this.
Or in other words, if Franken had been in office in 2002 he'd have done just what Coleman did, and so this couple's son would still be just as dead. And the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee that produced the ad is led by Harry Reid and Charles Schumer—both of whom voted to give Bush the authority to attack Iraq. Just like Norm Coleman. But why should inconvenient facts like those stop them from
exploiting this couple's loss? After all, there are Democrats to elect.
To put it another way: if Franken had been in office in 2002 and had cast the vote he says he would have cast, do you think the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee would have sought out these people in 2008 so they could throw their grief up on a TV screen to push for Franken's reelection? Call me crazy, but I somehow think it wouldn't have happened that way. No, I think the Andersons could have written, phoned, emailed, faxed, text messaged and smoke signalled the DSCC night and day for months on end, and they wouldn't have gotten so much as a form letter in response. Their grief would have become inconvenient rather than so very useful.
Which leaves me with the question: are the Democrats just cynical, exploitative, opportunistic, slimy bastards? Or are they...uhh...hmm. I can't seem to come up with a second option.
... Bolivian President Evo Morales has recently moved to improve his
anti-American credentials, accusing the United States of helping to
foment widespread and worsening political unrest in his country.
Yes, and clearly the only possible reason for these accusations is Morales' burning desire to "improve his anti-American credentials," and information like this has nothing to do with it whatsoever:
'The U.S. Agency for International Development
(USAID) is doing in Bolivia what it was doing in Venezuela...aiding the
opposition,' said independent researcher and writer Jeremy Bigwood, who
specialises in Latin American affairs.
For example, a July 2002
declassified message from the U.S. embassy in Bolivia to Washington
said, 'A planned USAID political party reform project aims at
implementing an existing Bolivian law that would...over the long run,
help build moderate, pro-democracy political parties that can serve as
a counterweight to the radical MAS [party of now President Evo Morales]
or its successors.'
Bigwood has made several attempts to obtain
detailed information about the nature of current U.S. spending in
Bolivia, without success. He says he has filed five separate petitions
under the Freedom of Information Act since 2005.
FOIA request he filed revealed that the quasi-governmental National
Endowment for Democracy had funded programmes that brought 13 young
'emerging leaders' from Bolivia to Washington between 2002 and 2004 to
strengthen their right-wing political parties.
No, we can safely ignore information like this, as well as decades of well-documented, declassified history of US intervention in Latin America on behalf of right-wing dictators and their vicious death squads (like, say, the one that massacred at least 30 Bolivians last week). And luckily for us, the AP is more than willing to help us do it!
Earlier this year, the U.S. diplomatic mission in Bolivia was caught
instructing 30 American aid workers and a scholar to spy on Venezuelan and Cuban medical workers volunteering in the country.
The State Department said the requests to collect information on the medical personnel were made "in error" and violated policy. The diplomat involved, assistant regional security officer Vincent Cooper, was recalled to Washington.
Now, you may feel a little misled here, but really: would the US government even think of treating spies so rudely? I think the answer to that question is obvious.
Here's another example of helpful editing of ponderous reality by the Post:
One of the five provinces that have rejected the president's policies
is now occupied by the army under martial law after fighting that has
killed as many as 30 people in the past few days. Militants on both
sides are resorting to force. In the province of Santa Cruz,
anti-government demonstrators have sacked and occupied government
offices. Anti-Morales forces have also interrupted deliveries to Brazil
of natural gas, the country's most valuable export.
"Militants on both sides are resorting to force," yet the only examples they give involve the right-wing secessionists; apparently they just forgot to include the numerous examples they surely have of force on the part of the non-secessionist indigenous population. And that "fighting that has killed as many as 30 people"—what could have happened there?
Last Thursday, a thousand peasants marched toward Cobija to protest the violence driven by the Prefect Leopoldo Fernández, when they were ambushed on a bridge located
7 kilometers from the town of Porvenir, in the department of Pando.
This was the scene of a massacre, executed by civilian groups who’d
received weapons training by the government of Leopoldo Fernández.
Initially on Thursday there were
8 deaths reported. The figure was rising steadily, to 9 dead, then 14,
later 15. This Saturday evening, the government minister Alfredo Rada
confirmed that there were 30 dead. But other officials fear the figure
could reach 50 or even 70.
The lack of exactness in the figures is due to the
fact that the Prefect Fernández and the armed gangs he commanded
prevented the arrival of humanitarian organizations at the scene of the
So by saying that "fighting" killed as many as 30 people, the Post actually meant that "armed paramilitary assassins trained and commanded by the opposition governor" killed as many as 30 people. I'm sure you'd agree that all those tiresome details in the longer version just distract from the main point, though. And what is that point, exactly?
I was thunderstruck to learn that Peter Camejo died while I was out of town. Camejo was one of the best public speakers I've ever seen—insightful, incisive, and funny as hell. I've never heard anyone (including Ralph Nader) eviscerate the principle of lesser-evilism more effectively, or make the progressive case more forcefully. I'm very lucky that by virtue of living in California I was able to vote for Camejo both as vice president and as governor.
I'm heading out of town to spend some quality time around enormous, vowel-rich trees, so there won't be anything going on here until next week. If you're at odd ends for something to read, why not take a(nother) look at the just-scrolled-off-the-front page, woefully underappreciated Wall Street Journal dove taxonomy? Why not hug it and pet it and call it George?
The level of disconnect between reality and political discourse in this country is always dismaying, sometimes shocking, and in the right circumstances downright embarrassing. Case in point: the popular perception of where the US gets its oil. The Department of Energy publishes a regular list of the largest providers of US crude oil imports; here are the top 5 as of June 2008 (in thousands of barrels per day):
Saudi Arabia (1,479)
Try asking people to name these countries and I guarantee you they'll get one right. But then tell them that Saudi Arabia is actually second on the list, and ask them which country is first, and you'll be lucky to find even one person who knows; in fact you'll probably find more than a few who won't believe you even if you tell them. And of the countries on the list besides Saudi Arabia, the only one I'd suspect any significant number of people might be able to name is Venezuela—and that only thanks to the relentless anti-Venezuela propaganda campaign that's been waged in the US media for the past few years.
There are many different measures of how broken the media system is in this country (in terms of its perceived purpose, that is, not its actual purpose). But I can't think of a much better illustration than that in a nation obsessed with record gasoline prices—where there's an endless stream of news stories about despoiling oceans and arctic forests in order to drill for scarcely-reachable reserves, in order to free ourselves from the clutches of oil-rich Ayrabs—most of us don't even know where the oil we use comes from.
Take a look at the full list, along with the list of the top overall US petroleum suppliers. If there aren't a few surprises in there for you, you're either 1) shockingly well-informed or 2) a major-league bastard*.
* (seeing as you're an oil company executive)
UPDATE: There's more good oil import data here, with easy access to historical data by country as well.
Just in case you missed it, here's another lovely nugget (or see the video here) to share with your Democrat friends:
Sen. Barack Obama: “Bill, what I’ve said is—I’ve already said it succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.”
Bill O’Reilly: “Right! So why can’t you just say, I was right in the beginning, and I was wrong about the surge?"
Sen. Obama: “Because there is an underlying problem with what we’ve done. We have reduced the violence…”
Sen. Obama: “...but the Iraqis still haven’t taken responsibility! And we still don’t have the kind of political reconciliation. We are still spending, Bill, $10 [billion] to $12 billion a month.”
O’Reilly: “And I hope, if you’re president, you can get them to kick in and pay us back.”
Sen. Obama: “They’ve got $79 billion in New York!”
O’Reilly: “And I’ll go with you!”
Sen. Obama: “Let’s go!”
O’Reilly: “We’ll get some of that money back.”
As a friend said: let's make them pay for the whip we're using to beat them! But as pithy a commentary as that is, it still doesn't capture the depths of moral degradation Senator Hope plumbed in his eagerness to "reach across the aisle" and bond with this reptilian creature—because as we all know, the Iraqis have been demanding that the US set a timetable for withdrawal, and the US has been adamant in its resistance. So Obama is calling for the Iraqis to pay for the very thing he knows they're trying to force the US to stop doing.
It's also worth noting that in Obama's lexicon—as tailored to the needs of his grasping presidential ambitions—"taking responsibility" apparently doesn't include trying to evict the foreign army occupying your country so that you can manage your own affairs.
Whatever there may once have been to admire in Obama the community organizer, it clearly hasn't survived his becoming The Candidate.