Friday Mashup Part One (10/15/10)

October 15, 2010

(Note: After today, posting of actual content is going to be iffy for probably about another week at least.)

  • 1) Let’s start with Jonah Goldberg and get him out of the way as soon as I can (here)…

    This is why I never lend out my iPhone when I visit leper colonies:

    Goldberg then includes a story about how quickly germs can be spread from the touch screens of iPhones to one’s fingertips, something of particularly note with the onset of the flu season a month or so away.

    But for Jonah’s information, leprosy, though it is in decline (as noted here), is definitely not something to joke about. As the Wikipedia article tells us…

    Although the forced quarantine or segregation of patients is unnecessary in places where adequate treatments are available, many leper colonies still remain around the world in countries such as India (where there are still more than 1,000 leper colonies),[11] China,[12] Romania,[13] Egypt, Nepal, Somalia, Liberia, Vietnam,[14] and Japan.[15]

    If Goldberg is searching for something to laugh about, though, maybe he should tale a look at this.

  • 2) Next, I give you the following from Christopher Rugaber of the AP here…

    Numerous polls show voters blame President Barack Obama and his party for the slow economic recovery and the 9.6 percent unemployment rate — not much better than the 9.7 percent rate when the year began.

    I know I’ve linked to this a few times already, but I’ll continue to do so whenever lazy reporters like Rugaber say this stuff without any sourcing to back it up.

  • 3) Also, tomorrow is the five-year anniversary of the signing of the Iraqi constitution, as noted here. And at the time, a certain Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History said the following…

    “This is a very positive day for the Iraqis and, as well, for world peace,” Bush said in brief remarks to reporters. “Democracies are peaceful countries. The vote today in Iraq stands in stark contrast to the attitudes and philosophy and strategy of al Qaeda and its terrorist friends and killers.”

    I wish I could tell you that everything is just hunky dory in Mesopotamia now, but alas I cannot – as noted here…

    Washington waits and waits while constantly demanding that Iraq’s government function properly—that its leaders compromise and work together, that it at least provide electricity, trash pick-up, and minimal services to its citizens. Yet all this is impossible because of the structure of government America set up there. Hopelessly dysfunctional, it was doomed from the start.

    There is simply no way Iraq’s government could or can succeed. Think first how we destroyed its civil structure—its police, civil service, most of its functions of government, even schoolteachers were fired en masse. Then it’s easier to comprehend that Washington also set up an unworkable government. Indeed, an article in the American Prospect, “The Apprentice,” indicates that wrecking Iraq as a nation state was intentional.

    “The constitution may well be more of a prelude to civil war than a step forward,” warned another expert in 2005, Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Rather than an inclusive document, it is more a recipe for separation based on Shiite and Kurdish privilege,” he wrote, as quoted in an article by Robin Wright in the Washington Post. The Post report also warned that “the Shiite and Kurdish militias are the de facto security forces in their territories and are loyal to their own political leaders.”

    By 2006, then CIA director Michael Hayden was acknowledging that in Iraq, “the inability of the government to govern seems irreversible.” He added, “We and the Iraqi government do not agree on who the enemy is … . It’s a legitimate question whether strengthening the Iraqi security forces helps or hurts, when they are viewed as a predatory element.”

    Washington’s neoconservatives may look benignly on an Iraq whose dysfunctional government serves as an excuse to keep the region occupied with 50,000 troops and massive air bases. But America’s “mission accomplished” has created an unstable, economically devastated nation that will be yet another constant source of instability for the whole Middle East.

    And this is from a conservative publication, people.

  • 4) Finally, Michael Gerson profiled Christopher Hitchens today in the WaPo (here). And don’t ask me about the column, because I barely read a word of it. And that’s because I’m tired of our media wasting precious online type and column inches over this guy.

    I’m sorry that Hitchens is dying from cancer. I hope his passing from this world comes with as little pain as possible. But somehow I can’t help but get the feeling that our media is hanging with this man through every final hour and second waiting for some moment of clarity in which he’ll exclaim, “Oh God, praise Jesus! You were right all along, and I was wrong!”

    That clearly isn’t going to happen (I have a low regard generally for Hitchens, but I’ll give him credit for remaining true to his beliefs).

    And I also think it’s more than a little disingenuous for our corporate media to give Hitchens a “deathbed conversion” and ignore moments like the one here, where (speaking of Iraq) he criticized Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes for making the rather astute connection between the war and the flooding of cheap credit in the early part of this decade to inflate the housing bubble, in which our ruling cabal turned our economy into a casino.

    Also (linked to the post), Hitchens claimed that Martin Luther King, Jr. “doesn’t deserve his acclaim,” and Hillary Clinton is “an aging and resentful female.”

    And last but perhaps least, I give you this Hitchens moment from an episode of “Real Time With Bill Maher.”

    So, let us allow Hitchens to leave us with as little fanfare as possible, please. I will grant that he should be allowed the dignity to spend his final days as he chooses (which he denied to those caught up in the Iraq maelstrom that he considered “worth the price,” but there you are).

    Before he goes, though, I’ll give him the salute that he so gleefully gave his detractors on the Bill Maher program…

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    Friday Mashup (10/8/10)

    October 9, 2010

  • 1) Fix Noise brought us the following assault on common sense here…

    Living in NYC has truly awakened me to the New York elite and their penchant for the city’s self-described brilliant public transit system. I think it sucks… just like public transit always does.

    “Oh I just don’t think I could live without the subway system, it’s so convenient. I can get anywhere I need to go in the city in a flash.” Right. Or –and follow me on this here– I could live anywhere else in the country, take 3 steps out my front door, get into my car, and drive anywhere on the continent. How’s that for convenience? Not only is it faster, but my car generally doesn’t smell like mothballs and urine (last Tuesday notwithstanding). It would almost seem that –dare I say this– private transportation is more efficient than mass public-transit! That won’t change today’s leftists from disparaging the former and praising the latter.

    Why?

    It’s simple. Control. It’s no secret that the environmental movement is ultimately designed to create new inroads into increased government control. All of the shots taken at emissions, the dependence on fossil fuels and noise pollution are designed to paint those things as symptoms of a problem, with the government able to step in as the solution. The root of their problem is ultimately your independence.

    As frequent visitors to The Big Apple, I must say that I don’t share that opinion (and I won’t comment on the nonsense about “increased government control”). We have no issue with the city’s bus service (which we used to ride from Park Avenue across town to pick up the Circle Line and tour the Intrepid last spring, activities that we highly recommend, by the way). We also have no issue with the subway system (we frequently find ourselves taking the Lexington Avenue Express to get to the MOMA or Central Park). Basically (aside from the DC Metro, which I’ll admit I haven’t taken in years), I don’t believe that New York City transit “sucks” in any way whatsoever.

    All of this would be merely childish right-wing propaganda that I might otherwise leave alone if it weren’t for the fact that publishing something like this shows extraordinarily bad timing, even for the wingnuts. And that is because this column comes on the heels of a truly epochal blunder by “Governor Bully” in New Jersey, and I’m referring to his decision to kill the $9 billion project to add another very-much-needed commuter tunnel from The Garden State under the Hudson River (Professor Krugman thoroughly dissected it today here).

    Christie’s decision is stoo-pid on so many levels that it just about takes your breath away. And I have three words for all of those Democrats who sat on their hands last year and let him get elected instead of Jon Corzine – elections have consequences.

  • 2) Next, I found this item from The Daily Tucker (here)…

    The latest offering from conservative humorist P.J. O’Rourke, Don’t Vote — It Just Encourages the Bastards, is a real page turner. You may find yourself staying up way past your bedtime because you just can’t put it down.

    Like so many books on American political thought, O’Rourke begins Don’t Vote with a discussion of freedom, liberty, positive versus negative rights, the nature of man and how all of that relates to the Founders.

    You may be surprised to learn that, according to the Gospel of P.J., the Founders chose to follow John Locke over Jean-Jaques Burlamaqui and Samuel von Pufendorf because “Locke” was easier to spell.

    Then, O’Rourke goes on to tackle the issues of the day.

    Climate change: “There’s not a goddamn thing you can do about it.”

    Bailouts: “The advantage of a tax abatement over a stimulus plan is that, instead of idiots in Washington spending your and my money, us idiots get to spend our own.”

    Health care: “My suggestion for health care reform is that we skip lunch and quit picking on sick people.”

    Gun control: “With the economy being like it is, I call my .38 Special ‘the MasterCard of the future.’”

    I’m sure that at this moment (maybe they’re done now), Bill Maher is taking pity on his old pal and allowing O’Rourke to spout his blather (and of course, to promote the aforementioned book) on “Real Time,” despite the fact that, as far as I’m concerned, O’Rourke has had nothing whatsoever to say that could possibly be amusing ever since he started drinking the “glibertarian” Kool Aid (zip since “The Bachelor Home Companion”).

    Oh, and Media Matters tells us here of another pitiable attempt at humor on the part of O’Rourke in the name of making fun of liberals (think Ted Kennedy of course, noted in a particularly astute comment – Joe Strupp was uncharacteristically kind to this cretin, O’ Rourke I mean).

    So, for the purpose of trying to sell books, O’Rourke will pretend to be witty and thus earn plaudits from The National Review for encouraging yet another generation of readers to forego any notion of civic due diligence for the purpose of remaining sullen and utterly ignorant of this country’s proud history of political activism.

    Ha, ha, ha.

  • 3) Finally, I came across this rather interesting attack on the supposed liberalism of President Obama, and that is to have people like Orrin Hatch, Trent Lott and Sean Inanity say that, gee whiz and whaddaya know, maybe that William Jefferson Clinton fellow wasn’t such a bad president after all, and wow, doesn’t Obama look like some closet Kenyan Marxist and wealth redistributor who won’t show us his birth certificate by comparison (or something – having a hard time trying to get my mind around this new corporate media narrative)…

    Senator Orrin G. Hatch recently said that former President Bill Clinton “will go down in history as a better president” than the sitting one. Sean Hannity of Fox News, who has verbally abused Mr. Clinton for years, recently referred to him as “good old Bill.” Republicans in Congress have begun speaking of him with respect, even pining.

    “You know with Clinton the chemistry was right,” said Trent Lott, the former Senate majority leader. “He was a good old boy from Arkansas, I was a good old boy from Mississippi, and Newt, he was from Georgia. So he knew what I was about, and I knew where he was coming from.”

    Aw, heck, shoot and darn, you guys – why don’t y’all just mosey on down to the Piggly Wiggly to fetch a piece of gingham for Emmy Lou before those dern revenuers show up agin’ t’try and bust your still? Shoot ‘em full o’buckshot, I say!

    You know, I wish Lott and Hatch had shown a fraction of this camaraderie towards our 42nd president when it mattered. No such luck, though.

    As noted here (in an article telling us the reaction when Clinton went to the Repug-run Senate to ask for more terrorist surveillance authority in July 1996)…

    Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, emerged from the meeting and said, “These are very controversial provisions that the [Clinton] White House wants. Some they’re not going to get.” ….[Hatch] also said he had some problems with the president’s proposals to expand wiretapping.

    Of course, as we now know, Dubya and his pals would seek the same thing, but they just went ahead and got it without bothering to ask for congressional approval (getting it after the fact, which was bad enough, but eventually getting it legalized with Democrats in charge, which is beyond belief).

    And as for Lott, he and the Senate dragged their feet when Clinton proposed a variety of antiterrorism measures in 1995-1996, though that didn’t stop nematodes like Dana Rohrabacher from blaming Clinton for the 9/11 attacks, which is funny actually when you consider how tight Rohrabacher was with the mujahadeen and a certain member of the bin Laden family (here).

    Also (from here)…

    The House of Representatives had been scheduled to convene on Thursday, December 17 (1998), to begin considering the four articles of impeachment. However, on Wednesday, President Clinton ordered a series of military air strikes against Iraq, following the failure of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to comply with U.N. weapons inspectors. Clinton’s timing drew an immediate chorus of criticism from Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott who stated: “I cannot support this military action in the Persian Gulf at this time. Both the timing and the policy are subject to question.”

    Again, Clinton’s Republican successor in the White House would not face such hesitation from Lott or much of anyone else in his party with the possible exception of Ron Paul when the decision was made to carry out military action against Iraq.

    It galls me to no end that our corporate media continues to treat members of the current minority party as “wise heads” on matters both foreign and domestic, when in fact they remain the primary authors of our current misery. And trying to create some corporate media mythology along the lines of “sure the Repugs hated Clinton like no other, but they really were buddies the whole time” is particularly insulting (to say nothing of being utterly untrue).

    Yes, there were missteps when Clinton occupied the White House to be sure, but comparatively few of our military were killed during his presidency. And we enjoyed prosperity the likes of which I personally had never seen and probably will never see again. Also, when we executed military actions, they were against countries and entities that posed a legitimate threat to our national security and had, in fact, attacked us.

    And trying to cozy up to Clinton after all this time doesn’t make the Repugs any less guilty for their own appalling mistakes.


  • O’Donnell: “We Spend Too Much On AIDS”

    September 18, 2010

    And that was before this dandy little moment last night…

    It’s all a matter of people’s behavior, you see, and there are no other factors involved (silly to fund prevention programs as far as O’Donnell is concerned, I guess).

    Assuming O’Donnell had a speck of interest in educating herself on this issue, she could start by clicking here (we know she doesn’t, though – as Bill Maher so aptly put it last night, more or less, “Teabaggers are real big on the truth. What they have problems with are the facts”).

    (And ummm, well…I have a feeling Christine’s issues extend beyond politics, as noted at the end here.)

    Update 9/25/10: I also have a feeling that Bill Maher will make sure the O’Donnell gaffes arrive nonstop (here).


    A “Teachable Moment” From Bill Maher

    March 13, 2010

    Have to crank the volume a bit (i.e, from last night’s show), but otherwise, good stuff.


    Bill Maher’s “New Rules” From 8/14/09

    August 21, 2009

    Spot-on commentary as usual (missed some of what he said about Billy Mays in the beginning)…


    I Would Now Say That The Honeymoon Is Over

    June 16, 2009

    barack_obama1
    OK, to begin, I’ll say up front that I support President Obama. I have, I do, and I will. In the matter of the 2008 election, if the 2000 version of John McCain had run, it actually would have been interesting. But the 2008 version ran instead, trying to suck up to all of the typical Republican constituencies. And then he selected Just Plain Folks Sarah Palin as his running mate, dontcha know. And the economy tanked. And it became more and more obvious to me who was, resoundingly, more qualified for the job.

    Yes, I know this has been covered over and over, but please humor me a bit here, OK?

    So then we have the election and the aftermath, including the swearing-in and the parties. And the Lilly Ledbetter Act becomes law, as does the stimulus, followed by lifting the restriction on federal funding of stem cell research put into place by Dubya, SCHIP is passed, and he gives the recent Cairo speech…a lot of good stuff, to my way of thinking.

    So what exactly is the problem? Well…

  • He signed a credit card consumer protections bill that won approval through a provision allowing loaded guns in our national parks, for starters (here).
  • He flip-flopped on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” here (yes, I understand his point that the bill signed by Clinton was written by Congress, but don’t say here that you plan to end it and then equivocate, especially when individuals such as Colin Powell have called for “reevaluating” it).
  • He has defended Dubya’s programs of torture, kidnapping, illegal imprisonment, government secrecy, and executive branch dominance over the other branches of government by using the Bush “state secrets” provision, as noted here (basically, all we have is Obama’s word that he won’t engage in the same garbage as his predecessor).
  • For some incomprehensible reason, he defended the Defense of Marriage Act in a recent legal brief as noted here by Americablog and the Human Rights Campaign (more here).
  • And to top it all off, we have this, which tells us the following…

    NEW YORK The Obama administration is blocking access to the names of visitors to the White House, according to MSNBC.com — which recently requested the information. The Web site contends the reasoning is similar to Bush administration arguments that a president doesn’t have to reveal his visitors.

    You may now consider your humble narrator be officially pissed off at our chief executive.

    And by the way, given what I said yesterday about Randall Terry here, it might be a good idea to start enforcing the FACE law (yes, I know Scott Roeder’s craziness definitely predated Obama, but the incidents of Roeder gluing Tiller’s clinic doors shut – a clear FACE violation – occurred on the watch of Obama and AG Eric Holder also).

    Also, I would like to reiterate what Bill Maher said here in the way of Obama “taking a page from his predecessor.” Use reconciliation on health care if the votes aren’t there, Mr. President, and if the Repugs stall your nominees like Dawn Johnsen and David Hamilton in response, then scream loud and long about it.

    Given the fact that, in the past, Dems generally have shown all the spine of a bowl of warm vermicelli in response to relentless right-wing attacks, I for one would call that change I can believe in.

    Update 6/17/09: A nice step in the right direction here… (Oops, looks like I updated too soon, based on thisrelocation assistance?).


    Bill Maher’s Advice For Barack Obama

    June 15, 2009

    I think he’s wrong about Obama and health care, but I think he makes some other good points (with humor, of course), particularly the one about Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History.


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