Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bush Aides Rush to Enact a Safety Rule Obama Opposes.

It's like he's the personification of evil. In his last weeks in office Bush is rushing through a new rule, strenuously opposed by Barack Obama, which would make it much harder for the government to regulate toxic substances and hazardous chemicals to which workers are exposed on the job.

The rule, which has strong support from business groups, says that in assessing the risk from a particular substance, federal agencies should gather and analyze “industry-by-industry evidence” of employees’ exposure to it during their working lives. The proposal would, in many cases, add a step to the lengthy process of developing standards to protect workers’ health.

Public health officials and labor unions said the rule would delay needed protections for workers, resulting in additional deaths and illnesses.
And this is only one of twenty such rules that Bush is pushing for.

The Labor Department proposal is one of about 20 highly contentious rules the Bush administration is planning to issue in its final weeks. The rules deal with issues as diverse as abortion, auto safety and the environment.

One rule would make it easier to build power plants near national parks and wilderness areas. Another would reduce the role of federal wildlife scientists in deciding whether dams, highways and other projects pose a threat to endangered species.
Deny workers protection and allow the devastation of the environment, what a fitting legacy for this pygmy of a president.

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Wolff: Murdoch ‘absolutely despises’ O’Reilly

It's extraordinary, but even Rupert Murdoch appears to be embarrassed by Fox News.

In Michael Wolff’s forthcoming biography of Rupert Murdoch, “The Man Who Owns The News,” the author writes that the media mogul has seemed to turn away lately from his cable news network, and isn’t fond its top-rated personality, Bill O’Reilly.

“It is not just Murdoch (and everybody else at News Corp.’s highest levels) who absolutely despises Bill O’Reilly, the bullying, mean-spirited, and hugely successful evening commentator,” Wolff wrote, “but [Fox News chief executive] Roger Ailes himself who loathes him. Success, however, has cemented everyone to each other."

“The embarrassment can no longer be missed,” Wolff wrote, in another section of the book. “He mumbles even more than usual when called on to justify it. He barely pretends to hide the way he feels about Bill O’Reilly. And while it is not that he would give Fox up—because the money is the money; success trumps all—in the larger sense of who he is, he seems to want to hedge his bets.”
Wolff describes Murdoch as not wanting News Corp. to be defined by Fox News. And so last year’s purchase of the Wall Street Journal, he wrote, “was in no small way about wanting to trade the illiberal—the belligerent, the vulgar, the loud, the menacing the unsubtle—for the better-heeled, the more magnanimous, the further nuanced.”
Ah, Rupert hopes not to be defined by the crap by which he has made his fortune.

It reminds me of that phrase by Quentin Crisp. "There's no point working in a pig farm for twenty years whilst saying, 'I want to be a ballerina"! After twenty years pigs are your style".

Live with it Rupert, Bill O'Reilly - that awful appalling man who even you appear to be embarrassed by - is the face of Fox, and Fox is your legacy. It's what you've given to the world.

Lap it up....

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Blessed Poverty.

I am always amazed at how the Michelle Malkin crowd attack any attempt to stave off the financial crisis and insist that the markets are always right and that they, alone, must determine our future.

To this end she has called for the Bush administration to allow banks to fail and for the chips to fall wherever they may.

But what of the people who suffer during this time? Well, she deals with that in her latest Thanksgiving Day diatribe:

Instead of awaiting the next stimulus check from the Borrow-Spend-Repeat-Panic politicians in Washington, Jen explains how the family has cut costs: “I learned how to make my own shampoo, toothpaste, soaps, cloth napkins, dish scrubbies, potholders, skirts (mend all clothes) and most meals from scratch. We heat our home exclusively with wood, and I am currently growing a winter garden. The spring garden will be in containers by the last week of December to prepare for spring planting. I do not see this as a downfall or a tragedy. For those worried about holiday spending: I spent only $100 for a family of six last Christmas, and most of that [on] underwear, socks and the meal.”

And she adamantly rejects the victim card: “This accident has been a blessing for my family. The pain that my husband has daily is not the blessing, but that he is alive and able to continue to watch his children grow into adulthood.

“It also has been wonderful to know that we live in a nation that affords us the opportunity to reinvent ourselves from suburbanites to a country-dwelling farm family. I am ashamed to see the American spirit that made our nation so great now turned into nothing.”
So you see? Poverty is actually a great opportunity to reinvent yourself into a cave-dweller and to experience life as your ancient ancestors did!

This is what is left of the Republican party. These utter loons who have no answer at all to the problems which currently face the US and the rest of the planet. Other than we should all tighten our belts and heat our homes "exclusively with wood".

And we should all suffer in this way so that Malkin and other fanatics can continue to pretend that Reaganomics works and that the market is always right.

The lunatic fringe of the Republican party is not only alive and well, it appears as if it is in charge of where they go from here.

Hat tip to Balloon Juice.

Click title for full deranged article.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Goldsmith argues against prosecution for torturers.

There's an astonishing article by Jack Goldsmith in the Washington Post putting forward the argument that the new Obama administration should do nothing to investigate allegations that the Bush regime engaged in torture.

He tells us:

Second-guessing lawyers' wartime decisions under threat of criminal and ethical sanctions may sound like a good idea to those who believe those lawyers went too far in the fearful days after Sept. 11, 2001. But the greater danger now is that lawyers will become excessively cautious in giving advice and will substitute predictions of political palatability for careful legal judgement.
In other words, it would be more dangerous if someone were actually to demand that lawyers advising the government should tell them what is legal rather than what they want to hear.

After all, there is no-one in their right mind who believes that John Yoo's definition of torture would hold up in any court of law, and there are many who suspect that even John Yoo doesn't believe that but, anxious to please the Bush administration, he told them that what they wanted to do was legal.

Most of us would regard Yoo's behaviour - substituting what the administration wants to hear in place of what the law actually states - as abhorrently dangerous, but Goldsmith says that the Obama administration should avoid any investigation lest lawyers become "excessively cautious".

Goldsmith then quotes Ben Graham stating, "We are not living in times in which lawyers can say no to an operation just to play it safe."

Telling President Bush that waterboarding was illegal would be, to both Goldsmith and Graham, "playing it safe" which they regard as a dangerous thing in the present climate.

It's quite astonishing to see how little this mindset has actually changed. They say that what happened was regrettable, but immediately caution against prosecution in case it ever needs to be done again.
When the CIA was asked to engage in aggressive tactics early in the Bush administration, it knew from bitter experience that the political winds would change and that it might be subject to "retroactive discipline." And so it sought approval from the president and his Cabinet, informed congressional leadership many times about what it was doing and got what it thought were airtight legal opinions from the Justice Department. But these safeguards failed, and the CIA is once again mired in investigation and controversy.
And, of course, he pretends that his concern is for individual officers at the CIA, who sought legal assurances and were given them.

I think he's rather missing the point here. The people who should be prosecuted are the people who gave the orders for torture to be carried out, not the individual grunts who did the dirty work.

And the people who gave those orders are high in the Bush administration.

And, as President Carter has pointed out, Bush could only state that he was not engaging in torture because he was inventing his own definition of what torture was:

But Mr Carter, 84, said: "You can make your own definition of human rights and say, 'we don't violate them'. And you can make your own definition of torture and say 'we don't violate it'.

"The president is self-defining what we have done and authorised in the torture of prisoners."

Goldsmith is arguing that Bush - and any future US president - should be allowed to do this as the times we live in are "too dangerous" for presidents to be straight jacketed by the law.

That's the exact mindset which led to the US engaging in torture in the first place.

Click title for full article.

Republicans & the Very Small Tent.

I'm not sure Cantor actually has any answer to the question of how to make the Republican party more inclusive. There's certainly nothing in this answer which gives that impression.

This is what I thought might happen. They are left with just their core base. And that doesn't bode well for them.

According to exit polling, these groups voted for Obama:

* 95% of African Americans
* 67% of Hispanics
* 62% of Asians

Now if population and demographics were a static thing the republicans might have a reasonable and viable strategy with this approach. McCain did win the popular vote among White people, and did really well among White people over 65 (68%). Unfortunately for them time is not on their side. Those aged 18-29 voted for Obama by over thirty points, which is itself an ominous sign for the future, if you're a republican.

Consider the Hispanic vote alone. After all the anti-immigrant vitriol of the past couple of years the Republicans are pushing away a group which should be at least somewhat inclined to vote for them. And what happened this year? As conservative columnist Linda Chavez put it, Ask the 14 out of 16 hard-line, anti-immigration Republicans who lost their seats this time around to pro-comprehensive reform Democrats how well this worked at the polls. And then consider that by 2050 Hispanics will double in their share of the U.S. population, from 15% to 30%, or in raw numbers nearly tripling from 46.7 million to 132.8 million in 2050. Overall, minorities will become the majority.

None of this can be news for Republicans so they must see the hand-writing on the wall. What is amazing is that they seem incapable or unwilling to do anything about it.
The Malkins of the party will insist that they lost because they weren't conservative enough and that way madness lies.

Hat tip to Crooks and Liars.

MUMBAI TERROR ATTACK uncovered and detailed in special report by CNN IBN.

The most startling thing about the attacks in India is how highly organised they appear to be.

"It is a mode of attack that has fallen out of fashion," one source said, referring to the violent radical European and Palestinian groups active in the 1970s. "If you are going to be martyrs anyway, why not go in firing AK-47s?"

But there the similarity with former radical groups ended, counter-terrorist officials said. Intelligence sources pointed to the meticulous training the Mumbai attackers must have had - possibly in Kashmir - as well as the planning such an operation would have involved.

Their concerns were reflected yesterday by Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert and professor at Washington's Georgetown University. "The Mumbai operation was planned and premeditated and executed by terrorist teams functioning under a command and control apparatus that orchestrated their deployment and coordinated their assaults," he said.

The attacks demonstrated how a small number of well-trained terrorists could paralyse a city and stymie the local security forces.

India are making the usual noises about Pakistan, but that's almost a knee jerk response from them and deserves to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Mission Accomplished: Iraq Parliament approves SOFA.

After five and a half years of war the Iraqi parliament have finally approved the status of forces agreement which will dictate the US withdrawal from Iraq.

The agreement was ratified a week ago by Prime Minister Nouri al-Mailki's cabinet, and is now guaranteed to be approved by Iraq's presidential council.

As noted
previously, one of the concessions to resistant Sunni lawmakers was an agreement the pact be voted on in a national referendum occurring no later than July 30, 2009. Should the Iraqi voters reject the SOFA, the United States would be required to have all troops out of Iraq within one year, or July 30, 2010.

I fully expect the Iraqi people to reject SOFA and demand the withdrawal of all US troops, so Bush has now agreed to a possible withdrawal which perfectly echoes the timetable put forward by Barack Obama during the American election.

Despite all the talk of Obama "surrendering", Bush has bowed to the inevitable and conceded that the Iraqi people should decide the future of the US occupation. And I think we all have strong suspicions of what the Iraqi people are going to demand.

Click title for full article.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Israel will NOT Hesitate to Bomb Iran! Ambassador Douchebag.

Only on Fox News would a lunatic like John Bolton still be listened to. Here he is on his usual high horse regarding Iran, even going as far as pushing the line that the Israelis might act unilaterally should Obama hesitate to take action shortly after he takes office.

Unfortunately for Bolton even Ehud Olmert has stopped pretending that this is something which Israel would countenance:

He [Olmert] also dismissed as “megalomania” any thought that Israel would or should attack Iran on its own to stop it from developing nuclear weapons, saying the international community and not Israel alone was charged with handling the issue.
We may have a new President-elect, but the right wing loons aren't going to be changing their tune any time soon, even if an outgoing Israeli Prime Minister is on the record saying the very opposite of what they are claiming.

Michael Reagan: Obama campaign was 'Reagan-esque'

Republicans are simply shameless. Here we have Michael Reagan, who claimed during the campaign that "Obama's programs fit comfortably within the pages of Karl Marx's playbook", now stating that Obama got elected because, by the end of his campaign, he was pushing Reagan-esque policies.

You see, even when the Republicans lose an election, conservatism never loses. Either Bush and McCain were never true conservatives or Obama is stealing conservatism's clothes, but conservatism always wins in the eyes of these loons.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Torture and the rule of law: Did Bush just call Democrats' bluff?

So Bush is now, according to reports, not going to pardon people who engaged in torture because he believes the Democrats lack the balls to come after him and the other torturers. Sadly, I think he's made as good a call as any war criminal could ever make.

Obama ran his entire campaign on avoiding partisanship, so he's not going to agree with anything that begins to look like witch hunt. And Turley agrees with me.

Maddow: So the White House says now, at least to the Wall Street Journal, that they are not likely to pardon anyone who might have implemented or taken part in these torture policies because they believe that their Justice Department memos excuse them, so there's no need to pardon anyone. Are you buying that reasoning?

: No. I don't believe that anyone seriously believes in the administration that what they did was legal. This is not a close legal question. Waterboarding is torture. It has been defined as a war crime by U.S. courts and by foreign courts. There's no ambiguity in it. That is exactly why they have repeatedly tried to stop any court from reviewing any of this.

And so what's really happening here is a rather clever move at this intersection of law and politics. That what the administration is doing, is they know that the people that want him to pardon our torture program is primarily the Democrats, not the Republicans. The Democratic leadership would love to have a pardon so they could go to their supporters and say, "Look, there's really nothing we could do. We're just going to have this truth commission, we'll get the truth out, but there really can't be any indictments now."

Well, the Bush administration is calling their bluff. They know that the Democratic leadership will not allow criminal investigations or indictments. And in that way the Democrats will actually repair Bush's legacy, because he will be able to say, "There was nothing stopping indictments or prosecutions, but a Democratic congress and a Democratic White House didn't think there was any basis for it."
I understand Obama's wish to avoid partisanship and his reluctance to tie his administration up prosecuting the previous administration. However, we have the Bush administration's admission that they have engaged in torture by waterboarding, the question now is whether or not Obama's administration is going to do what many other country's are about to do.

Should Bush, Cheney or many other members of this administration ever travel abroad, they will face the same fate as Pinochet or Kissinger, they will find themselves hounded by people seeking to indict them war criminals - a right afforded to those other country's under international law if the country of origin refuses to charge them with those crimes.

I understand why Obama doesn't want to indict the previous administration, I understand why this is dangerous to him politically, but there is still such a thing in this world as right and wrong, and torture is wrong.

Don't get me wrong, I know he's never going to do it and I understand the political reasoning behind that choice, but it's wrong. America is going to allow war criminals to walk away. And they know the people they are allowing to walk away are war criminals and they are letting them walk for political expediency.

That's just wrong. And yet Bush is gambling that that this is exactly what they will do, and I think Bush is calling this one - in terms of saving his own political skin - correctly.

I wish I was wrong, but I bet I'm not.

Conservatives Go Bankrupt.

Obama Blasts "Tone Deaf" Business Execs.

Obama is right to label chief executives as "tone deaf" to the reality of the situation which they now find themselves in:

BARBARA WALTERS: How did you feel when you read about the three heads of the auto companies taking private planes to Washington?

Well, I thought maybe they're a little tone deaf to what's happening in America right now. And this has been a chronic problem, not just for the auto industry, I mean, we're sort of focused on them. But I think it's been a problem for the captains of industry generally. When people are pulling down hundred million dollar bonuses on Wall Street, and taking enormous risks with other people's money, that indicates a sense that you don't have any perspective on what's happening to ordinary Americans. When the auto makers are getting paid far more than their counterparts at Toyota, or at Honda, and yet they're losing money a lot faster than Japanese auto makers are, that tell me that they're not seeing what's going on out there, and one of the things I hope my presidency helps to usher in is a, a return to an ethic of responsibility. That if you're placed in a position of power, then you've got responsibilities to your workers. You've got a responsibility to your community. Your share holders. That if -- there's got to be a point where you say, 'You know what, I have enough, and now I'm in this position of responsibility, let me make sure that I'm doing right by people, and, and acting in a way that is responsible.' And that's true, by the way, for members of congress, that's true for the president, that's true for cabinet members, that's true for parents. I want all of us to start thinking a little bit more, not just about what's good for me, but let's start thinking about what's good for our children, what's good for our country. The more we do that, the better off we're going to be.

Should bank executives -- it's almost Christmas time -- forgo their bonuses?

I think they should. That's an example of taking responsibility. I think that if you are already worth tens of millions of dollars, and you are having to lay off workers, the least you can do is say, I'm willing to make some sacrifice as well, because I recognize that there are people who are a lot less well off, who are going through some pretty tough times.
The bonuses being paid to these guys beggar belief. It's only at the very top of industry that we come upon this notion that exorbitant wages are simply not enough to encourage these people to do their jobs and that they must be given even more exorbitant bonuses on top of their exorbitant salaries if they do the job which they were originally handsomely rewarded to do.

On the factory floor if you can't do your job you get fired. The notion that you would get a bonus for doing the job that you are already being paid to do would seem incredulous.

And the notion that these guys might deserve bonuses whilst going cap in hand to the government asking for a bailout is simply an obscenity.

Obama is right to point out this disconnect from reality. Bush was always on the side of these guys, indeed, for the most part he was inviting them to create his environmental policies.

Click title for full article.

Karzai: Fixed end date needed for Afghan war

Now Karzai joins Maliki in demanding that a date be set for withdrawal.

President Hamid Karzai told a visiting U.N. Security Council delegation Tuesday that the international community should set a timeline to end the war in Afghanistan.

It appeared to be the first time Karzai has called for a time limit on the international effort to defeat Taliban militants and raise a stable and competent Afghan security force and government.

"If there is no deadline, we have the right to find another solution for peace and security, which is negotiations," Karzai was quoted as saying in a statement from his office.

And who can blame him? Is there even a plan for ending this war? Does anyone know what the end game is even supposed to look like?

In the seven long years since US/coalition "victory", Karzai has effectively been the President of Kabul, with the rest of the country remaining in the hands of war lords.
The Afghan president also told the U.N. team that airstrikes by international military forces and searches in Afghan homes must stop, the statement said. Karzai has made that demand repeatedly.
And Karzai's position has not been aided by the continual killing of innocent civilians through airstrikes.

Obama would find it almost impossible to give up on Afghanistan as to do so is to give up on the search for bin Laden. However, Obama's problems are not Karzai's problems and it is perfectly understandable that, after seven long years of war, Karzai is looking for an end game; the very thing that the US have failed to provide for all this time.

It is not acceptable that Karzai should be expected to endure his country continuing to live under the military occupation of another nation simply because the political landscape of American politics demands it.

And, after seven long years, Karzai has the right to ask how much longer is this going to take and what needs to happen before American forces withdraw?

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Peter Schiff Was Right.

Listen to Peter Schiff being humiliated by these conservatives. The irony is that he was right and they were utterly wrong. I love the moronic comment that "subprime mortgages are a tiny problem" and that "the American economy has never been in better shape". Why do people continue to listen to these right wing morons?

Hat tip to Crooks and Liars.

Dick Morris, Hack

Morris keeps asking people to contribute to without revealing his apparent financial ties to this organisation.

Since the beginning of October, Dick Morris has repeatedly used his columns and Fox News appearances to promote and raise money for the National Republican Trust PAC without disclosing that the organization has paid $24,000 to a company apparently connected to Morris, according to FEC filings.
This guy is simply a shameless Republican hack.

Click title for the full article.

Pundits finally admit, "Bush was dumb".

It's astonishing that as Bush heads for the door we can finally hear pundits talk openly of Bush's stupidity, even if they label it as "a lack of intellectual curiosity".

And they can now honestly discuss the effect that Bush's arrogance has had on the US's standing in the world and the way that America's reputation suffered worldwide during Bush's dreadful administration.

"Yes we can" rename our school.

The excitement that Obama's presidency is generating amongst the young is truly breathtaking. Here, the pupils of this school have demanded that it be renamed the Barack Obama Elementary School.


Stupid Stories...

As far as non stories go, this deserves to be up there with the best of them:

The Obamobile being prepared for the president-elect is said to be a monster gas-guzzler made by General Motors, the troubled car giant. It will look like a black Cadillac but is built like a tank. A spy photographer who tracks down future car models for magazines snatched pictures of the heavily disguised first-car-in-waiting when it was being road-tested last summer.

The armour-plated car, which has a raised roof, windows up to 5in thick, extra-strength tyres and a body made of steel, aluminium, titanium and ceramics, is thought to be based on a GMC 2500 truck that gets less than 10 miles to the gallon. Three cars are believed to be in production so that two can serve as decoys.

The line here is that, whilst Obama publicly calls for us all to go green, he himself is gas guzzling.

Of course, the notion that Obama chooses his own car is simply nonsense. His security is the responsibility of others who, not surprisingly, think that the first ever black president of the United States might be at more risk than previous incumbents of that office.

And to use this story to imply that he is not serious about green issues is plain dumb.

Click title for full article.

Tories attack New Labour proposals as a return to 1979... No, really!

The economic downturn hammered the American Republican party and, based on George Osborne's appalling performance in parliament yesterday, it deserves to destroy the British Conservative party as well.

At a time when Barack Obama and George Bush appear to be in broad agreement on the need for an economic stimulus package, the Tories are unique in calling for the problem to be addressed by cuts in public services.

Alastair Darling yesterday announced a cut in Vat and a rise in tax for those earning over £150,000 as part of a £21 billion economic stimulus package not dissimilar to the kind of moves being proposed in the US to fend off recession.

But when George Osborne took to his feet in parliament to attack Labour's proposals he offered such hyperbole that one was left wondering if he had even opened a newspaper over the past couple of months.

He refused to accept that the current economic crisis began with the subprime mortgage crisis in the US claiming that this was an excuse dreamt up by New Labour and saying that Gordon Brown had mistaken a "boom for stability and never prepared Britain for the bust".

I have no doubt that the fact that Gordon Brown continually reminded the Tories that he had ended the days of "boom and bust" in the UK economy must have got under the Tories skins, but the wish of George Osborne to portray what is clearly an international economic crisis as something which deserves to be lain solely at the door of Gordon Brown became, at first fanciful, but, the longer Osborne droned on, the entire Conservative party simply started to look bonkers.

He was so keen to portray this economic crisis as a return to the bad old days of the winter of discontent that he simply detached himself from reality altogether.

"It is confirmation of the time old truth that all Labour chancellors run out of money and all Labour governments bring this country to the verge of bankruptcy.

"Stability has gone out of the window, prudence is dead, Labour has done it again."

There is an old cliche in the UK which states that the Conservatives are always fighting the last election, but in this case Osborne has transported us all the way back to Jim Callaghan and 1979 and asked us to pretend that the last decade of New Labour simply hadn't happened.

Mr Osborne said the "reckless" pre-Budget report was the "greatest failure of public policy for a generation".

"The chancellor could have taken a different path today, the path of radical monetary action and responsible fiscal policy - that is the right route out of a recession," he said.

"Instead he offers temporary tax give-aways paid for by a lifetime of tax rises for the British people. The national debt doubled and the future mortgaged to bail out the mistakes of the past."

It simply astonishes me that David Cameron, having carefully managed to change the Tory image as the nasty party, has decided the only way out of this economic crisis is for us to start to tighten our belts and cut public services. It's like he's taken us back to Thatcherism in a single stroke after spending the last few years carefully pointing out that he is not Thatcher.

Their proposals go against, not only those of New Labour, they go against the proposals of Barack Obama and almost every other government in the western world.

But Osborne's hyperbole, his decision to portray a worldwide economic crisis as being solely the responsibility of New Labour, was simply nuts. He sounded utterly deranged in his attempts to tie Gordon Brown to the policies of Jim Callaghan.
The package was the "bill for a decade of irresponsibility", he said.
I actually have questions about some of Darling's proposals, but to suggest that we do nothing - which is essentially the Tory position - is simply the maddest thing I have ever heard.

And to attempt to lay the blame for a worldwide economic recession at the door of a British Prime Minister goes beyond hyperbole and starts to knock on the doors of insanity.

However, in a political system in which both parties fight for the mythical centrist voter, circumstances have forced both to show more of their hands than they have hitherto wanted to show. Labour will tax and spend their way out of recession whilst the Tories will cut public spending and programmes which aid the poor.

Those are the clear choices on offer. I know which proposal I prefer, and it's not the one which cuts public spending.


This is an example of how Barack Obama proposes tackling this crisis in the US:

President-elect Barack Obama yesterday promised an extraordinary multibillion-dollar economic package to deliver a jolt to the US and stave off what he described as a "crisis of historic proportions".

Obama, introducing his new economic team of Tim Geithner as treasury secretary and Larry Summers as his White House economics adviser, stressed that the scale of the recession required action by the US in tandem with other governments. His team will reach out to other countries to coordinate efforts, he said.

Asked about speculation that his package will cost between $700bn (£460bn) and $1tr, Obama declined to put a figure on it. He said it was necessary not only to have a thriving Wall Street but a thriving main street too. "We are going to do what is required to jolt this economy back into shape," the president-elect said.

The Tories now find themselves engaging in the arguments of nutters like Michelle Malkin who essentially are still making the case that the market is always right and the market must be allowed to decide who stands and who falls, even if this means our entire economic structure ends up in collapse.

Click title for full article.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bush 'very pleased' with Iraq war outcome: report.

The Moron in Chief wants the world to know that he has no regrets about the Iraq war.

"I think the decision to remove Saddam Hussein was right," Bush told the Sunday Project programme of the private Asahi network.
This is the way that warmongers justify their act of illegality, by stressing that removing someone as obnoxious as Saddam was a good thing. There aren't very many people on the planet who would argue that keeping Saddam in place would be a good thing, just as there are very few of us who think that it's a great notion that Mugabe continues his despotic rule in Zimbabwe. However, we have no intention of removing Mugabe because to do so would be illegal under international law.

The only time when international law would allow that kind of intervention would be if Mugabe was massacring his own people.

Indeed, ironically, it would have been justifiable for the US to intervene to remove Saddam after he "gassed his own people" as Bush was fond of telling us prior to the Iraq war. But the US had no interest in such an actions in those days because, although Saddam was a monster, he was their monster.

Bush then comes out with the other tired talking point which warmongers like to trot out:
Saddam was an enemy of the United States and a lot of people thought he had weapons of mass destruction, Bush said.
Those who thought Saddam had WMD did so because Bush and Blair kept telling everyone that Saddam had WMD. Indeed, many people who had access to the same information that Bush and Blair were citing as evidence were completely sceptical about the conclusions which the pro-war brigade were making.

Scott Ritter pointed out that the US government had never provided any proof to back up their claims and Robin Cook, a former British Foreign Secretary resigned over the issue stating, "Iraq probably has no weapons of mass destruction in the commonly understood sense of that term - namely, a credible device capable of being delivered against strategic city targets."

And Cook later said that even Blair knew that Iraq did not have WMD when he joined Bush in invading that country.
TONY BLAIR privately conceded two weeks before the Iraq war that Saddam Hussein did not have any usable weapons of mass destruction, Robin Cook, the former foreign secretary, reveals today. John Scarlett, chairman of the joint intelligence committee (JIC), also "assented" that Saddam had no such weapons, says Cook.

His revelations, taken from a diary that he kept as a senior minister during the months leading up to war, are published today in The Sunday Times. They shatter the case for war put forward by the government that Iraq presented "a real and present danger" to Britain.

Cook, who resigned shortly before the invasion of Iraq, also reveals there was a near mutiny in the cabinet, triggered by David Blunkett, the home secretary, when it first discussed military action against Iraq.

The prime minister ignored the "large number of ministers who spoke up against the war", according to Cook. He also "deliberately crafted a suggestive phrasing" to mislead the public into thinking there was a link between Iraq and Al-Qaeda, and he did not want United Nations weapons inspections to be successful, writes the former cabinet minister.
So Bush can stick to his carefully worded talking points, but they are both highly dishonest.

As Cook pointed out at the time the war had no legitimacy and no international support.
The harsh reality is that Britain is being asked to embark on a war without agreement in any of the international bodies of which we are a leading member. Not Nato. Not the EU. And now not the security council. To end up in such diplomatic isolation is a serious reverse. Only a year ago we and the US were part of a coalition against terrorism which was wider and more diverse than I would previously have thought possible. History will be astonished at the diplomatic miscalculations that led so quickly to the disintegration of that powerful coalition.
Bush's implication that (a) Saddam was a bad man and that (b) everyone thought Saddam had WMD ignores the fact that whist everyone agreed with (a), very few people agree with (b) and certainly the coalition which stood by the US as it took on al Qaeda simply vanished the millisecond Bush proposed invading a country which had nothing to do with the events on 9-11.

But, Bush wants us all to know that he's "very pleased" with what he's done.

That's one of the reasons why history will remember this man as a moron.

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Evasive Lieberman Discusses Regrets On "Meet The Press".

Lieberman doesn't "want to go into the details", which renders his supposed "apology" meaningless.

He called Obama but Obama didn't call him back. That's a surprise, eh?

This man is a slimeball. I can't bear the fact that he's still in the caucus.

Darling unveils 45p tax on rich to fund recession package.

For the past fifteen years it has been the subject which the Labour party has most shied away from, the notion of progressive taxation.

Now, in the midst of an economic downturn, Alastair Darling has announced that people earning over £150,000 will be taxed at 45% as opposed to the current 40% rate.

This is a brave move by Labour and it is intended to signal that, even whilst the country runs up debt, that efforts are being made to prevent stacking up so much that a future tax hike for everyone becomes necessary.

David Cameron, the Tory leader, will point out that the gain from raising taxes on high earners would be way below the sum required to bring the public finances back into order.
Cameron is, of course, correct but he's missing the point. Labour are not arguing that this tax rise will correct or dispose of the nation's debts, but they are arguing that, at a time of economic hardship, those earning wages which most people would regard as astronomical should contribute a little bit more to the national purse because they can afford to.

That strikes me as perfectly fair. The Tories have never understood that Labour wins elections because of that sense of fairness. It's not about punishing the rich, it's about all of us chipping in and doing our bit.

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'The Time Has Come to Say These Things'

I've written before about Olmert's change of heart now that he is no longer the Israeli Prime Minister, but he has gone even further in his latest interview with the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

Ehud Olmert: At the moment, I'd like to do some soul-searching on behalf of the nation of Israel.... In a few years, my grandchildren will ask what their grandfather did, what kind of country we have bequeathed them. I said it five years ago, in an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth, and I'll say it to you today: we have a window of opportunity—a short amount of time before we enter an extremely dangerous situation—in which to take a historic step in our relations with the Palestinians and a historic step in our relations with the Syrians. In both instances, the decision we have to make is the decision we've spent forty years refusing to look at with our eyes open.

We must make these decisions, and yet we are not prepared to say to ourselves, "Yes, this is what we must do." We must reach an agreement with the Palestinians, meaning a withdrawal from nearly all, if not all, of the [occupied] territories. Some percentage of these territories would remain in our hands, but we must give the Palestinians the same percentage [of territory elsewhere]—without this, there will be no peace.

Yedioth Ahronoth: Including Jerusalem?

Ehud Olmert: Including Jerusalem—with, I'd imagine, special arrangements made for the Temple Mount and the holy/historical sites.
Both of Israel's last two Prime Ministers, Ariel Sharon and now Olmert, have come to the conclusion that settlement building is hindering Israel's search for peace and that an agreement must be reached with the Palestinians.

Sharon called for withdrawal from "some occupied Palestinian land, whilst cementing Israel's hold on East Jerusalem and major settlement blocs" which, considering the fact that he was the father of the settlement movement and, especially in the light of the fact that George Bush - in an act of stunning illegality and stupidity in equal measure - had just told Sharon that Israel was free to keep many of it's West Bank settlements, was an act of withdrawal by Sharon.

Now Olmert is taking what Sharon said even further and saying that the only solution to the problem is Israel adhering to UN res 242.

And he is, at last, saying that East Jerusalem must be the Palestinian capital.
Ehud Olmert: Whoever talks seriously about security in Jerusalem, and about not wanting tractors and bulldozers to crush the legs of his best friends—as happened to a close friend of mine, who lost a leg when a terrorist ran him over on a tractor—must be willing to relinquish parts of Jerusalem. [In July 2008, Jerusalem saw two separate attacks involving construction vehicles operated by Arab East Jerusalemites.]

Whoever wants to maintain control over the entire city will have to absorb 270,000 Arabs into the borders of Israel proper. This won't do. We need to make a decision. This decision is difficult, awful, a decision that contradicts our natural instincts, our deepest yearnings, our collective memories, and the prayers of the nation of Israel for the past two thousand years.

I was the first person who wanted to maintain Israeli control over the entire city. I confess. I'm not trying to retroactively justify what I've done for the past thirty-five years. For a significant portion of those years I wasn't ready to contemplate the depth of this reality.

Yedioth Ahronoth: If you could continue your administration, do you think that you would be able to reach agreements?

Ehud Olmert: I think we're very close to reaching agreements.

Yedioth Ahronoth: With both the Palestinians and the Syrians?

Ehud Olmert: Yes, also with the Syrians.
A deal has always been impossible until the Israelis gave up their claims to East Jerusalem and the parts of the West Bank that they had built illegal settlements upon. George W. Bush spoke of "new realities on the ground" which merely emphasised his profound ignorance on the subject and his jaw dropping arrogance in presuming that the Palestinians would accept this profound injustice simply because he, as president, had stated that it should be so.

There can be no peace, in a dispute that has gone on forty years, without justice. Bush's proposal, that the Israelis could keep large tracts of stolen Arab land, was profoundly unjust and had no chance of working.

And, as Olmert now points out, Israel could defeat all of her enemies militarily, but she will never know peace until she gives back the land that is not hers:

Were a regional war to break out in the next year or two and were we to enter into a military confrontation with Syria, I have no doubt that we'd defeat them soundly. We are stronger than they. Israel is the strongest country in the Middle East. We could contend with any of our enemies or against all of our enemies combined and win. The question that I ask myself is, what happens when we win? First of all, we'd have to pay a painful price.

And after we paid the price, what would we say to them? "Let's talk." And what would the Syrians say to us? "Let's talk about the Golan Heights."

So, I ask: Why enter a war with the Syrians, full of losses and destruction, in order to achieve what might be achieved without paying such a heavy price?

And Olmert now states what man of us have been calling for; that Israel - at sixty years old - should finally announce and live within her own borders:
Our goal should be, for the first time, to designate a final and exact borderline between us and the Palestinians so that the entire world, the United States, the UN, and Europe can say, "These are the borders of the State of Israel, we recognize them, and we will anchor them with formal resolutions in the major international bodies. These are the recognized borders of Israel and these are the recognized borders of the State of Palestine."
Barack Obama has made no secret of the fact that he intends to make the Israel/Palestine dispute a priority from the minute he takes office and that he does not accept the Likud line in this dispute.

Olmert's words will greatly aid Obama as for the first time ever an Israeli Prime Minister is saying what the rest of the world knows: Israel must establish her own borders and recognise a viable Palestinian state.

Such common sense will be met with fierce resistance from the Israeli hardliners, but with both Sharon and Olmert recognising the futility of Israel attempting to hold on to the territories, the hardliners should be ignored and much more attention should be paid to the majority of both Israelis and Palestinians who have made it perfectly clear that they want peace.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Head of Fox News: Obama is Innocent Until Proven Guilty ... By Us.

I love when Fox News attempt to show that they are "fair and balanced". They just bugger it up from the word go.

Their bias is simply too blatant to be hidden.

Reports: Passing Universal Healthcare Could Kill The GOP.

With Obama showing that he is serious about introducing universal health care for all Americans, the right wing are screaming that, if he is allowed to do so, it may very well signal the end of the road for the GOP.

James Pethokoukis, at U.S. News and World Report, draws the same conclusion as Cannon does from Markowitz's analysis of how universal healthcare changed the political dynamic in Britain:

The GOP strategist had been joking about the upcoming presidential election and giving his humorous assessments of the candidates. Then he suddenly cut out the schtick and got scary serious. "Let me tell you something, if Democrats take the White House and pass a big-government healthcare plan, that's it. Game over. Government will dominate the economy like it does in Europe. Conservatives will spend the rest of their lives trying to turn things around and they will fail..."

...Recently, I stumbled across this analysis of how nationalized healthcare in Great Britain affected the political environment there. As Norman Markowitz in Political Affairs, a journal of "Marxist thought," puts it: "After the Labor Party established the National Health Service after World War II, supposedly conservative workers and low-income people under religious and other influences who tended to support the Conservatives were much more likely to vote for the Labor Party when health care, social welfare, education and pro-working class policies were enacted by labor-supported governments.

Passing Obamacare would be like performing exactly the opposite function of turning people into investors. Whereas the Investor Class is more conservative than the rest of America, creating the Obamacare Class would pull America to the left. Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute, who first found that wonderful Markowitz quote, puts it succinctly in a recent blog post: "Blocking Obama's health plan is key to the GOP's survival."

They are right to be fearful. Once people come to see health care as a right, then woe betide the party that appears set to take that away from people.

Thatcher produced her share revolution by privatising anything she could get her hands on and, for eighteen long years, this was enough to keep the Tories in power. But Thatcher, and subsequently Major's administration, consistently lowered investment in the national health system in the hope that a majority of the British electorate would opt to go private rather than wait to be treated in Britain's crumbling hospitals.

Britain turned on them when Blair warned before the '97 election that Britain had "24 hours to save the national health system". There were obviously a hundred other reasons as to why the Tories were defeated but the state of our national health system featured high in all the polls at the time and, in the next two elections, Britain rejected Tory offers of tax cuts because Labour had persuaded them that they could only have a first class national health system if people were prepared to pay for it.

But it's interesting to watch the Republicans frame the healthcare debate, not in terms of how it will benefit or hinder ordinary Americans, but rather in which way it will benefit or hinder themselves.

Various studies have shown that Americans pay more for their healthcare than any other country in the world and that they get less for their bucks than many other nations.

The Republicans are preparing to attempt to derail Obama's efforts to stop this madness. And they will not be doing so for any of the reasons which they will list, they will be doing so because they are attempting to save their own political skins.

Obama Vows Swift Action on Vast Economic Stimulus Plan.

Obama is beginning to outline just what we can expect from his administration which looks out for "the public interest ahead of the same special interests that have come to dominate" American politics.

His plans appear even more ambitious than those he laid out during the campaign trail.

In the Democrats’ weekly radio address, Mr. Obama said he would direct his economic team to craft a two-year stimulus plan with the goal of saving or creating 2.5 million jobs. He said it would be “a plan big enough to meet the challenges we face.”

Mr. Obama said he hoped to sign the stimulus package into law soon after taking office on Jan. 20. He is already coordinating efforts with Democratic leaders in Congress, who have said they will begin work next month.

Advisers to Mr. Obama say they want to use the economic crisis as an opportunity to act on many of the issues he emphasized in his campaign, including cutting taxes for lower- and middle-class workers, addressing neglected public infrastructure projects like roads and schools, and creating “green jobs” through business incentives for energy alternatives and environmentally friendly technologies.

And Obama promised that the new jobs he seeks to create will all be part of the new green revolution which Obama campaigned on.

“We’ll be working out the details in the weeks ahead,” Mr. Obama said, “but it will be a two-year, nationwide effort to jumpstart job creation in America and lay the foundation for a strong and growing economy. We’ll put people back to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, modernizing schools that are failing our children, and building wind farms and solar panels, fuel-efficient cars and the alternative energy technologies that can free us from our dependence on foreign oil and keep our economy competitive in the years ahead.”

Democratic leaders in Congress are calling for a recovery initiative of up to $300 billion to create new jobs, a figure which the Bush administration have balked at, even though some conservative economists have hinted that $300billion is the minimum needed to kick start the economy.

The financial turmoil is producing extraordinary actions all over the west, with Gordon Brown's government here in the UK announcing plans to reduce Vat in this country for the first time in 34 years.

The cut will be at least 2 per cent, possibly to 15 per cent, where it will remain for a "holiday" of one-and-a-half to two years, bringing some relief for millions of families as the economic downturn worsens.

This cut in Vat would come on top of possible tax cuts here in the UK.

It would be very hard for the Republicans to stand in the way of Obama's plans when the feeling - worldwide - is that action needs to be taken to avert disaster.

But Obama's job, certainly for his first term, with financial disaster and two wars on his hands, will be to clean up Bush's shit.

Even though Bush is now the lamest of lame ducks, I still feel a sense of deep rage when I consider what that incompetent twat has done.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Dirty Rep Strategist Regrets Putting Bush In Office.

The proof that the Republican party is rotten to it's core is best illustrated by the fact that even Roger Stone now regrets the work he did to help Bush get elected.

Roger Stone is one of the last guys on Earth one would expect to feel guilty over an episode of rough and tumble politicking. As a self-admitted hit man for the GOP, Stone has had a hand in everything from Nixon's dirty tricks to Eliot Spitzer's resignation to spreading discredited rumors of a Michelle Obama “whitey” tape during the 2008 Democratic primaries. You might call Stone the Forrest Gump of scandal, popping up to play a bit part in the most notorious negative campaigns in recent history.

The capstone of Stone’s career, at least in terms of results, was the “Brooks Brothers riot” of the 2000 election recount. This was when a Stone-led squad of pro-Bush protestors stormed the Miami-Dade County election board, stopping the recount and advancing then-Governor George W. Bush one step closer to the White House. Though he is quick to rebut GOP operatives who seek to minimize his role in the recount, Stone lately has been having second thoughts about what happened in Florida.

"There have been many times I've regretted it,” Stone told me over pizza at Grand Central Station. “When I look at those double-page New York Times spreads of all the individual pictures of people who have been killed [in Iraq], I got to think, 'Maybe there wouldn't have been a war if I hadn't gone to Miami-Dade. Maybe there hadn't have been, in my view, an unjustified war if Bush hadn't become president.' It's very disturbing to me."
And he now publicly distances himself from some of the distasteful Bush activities that many Republicans have spent the last few years defending.
“I think across the board he's led the party to its current position, which means losing both houses of congress and now the White House,” Stone said. “How can you be conservative and justify wiretapping people without a warrant? We're supposed to be the party of personal freedom and civil liberties. Big brother listening in on your phone calls—I got a problem with that.”
This is why I have always argued that losing this election was going to lead to the collapse of the Republican party as we know it. For eight years party loyalists have felt forced to defend acts of blatant illegality, fiscal irresponsibility and a man who has led the nation to international pariah status.

Now, the sensible wing of the party must start to question whether or not they have strayed too far from the ideals which their party was set up to represent and this will lead to an inevitable confrontation with the Michelle Malkin loony wing of the party who feel that there is no lesson to be learned:

I’m getting a lot of moan-y, sad-face “What do we do now, Michelle?” e-mails.

What do we do now? We do what we’ve always done.

We stand up for our principles, as we always have — through Democrat administrations and Republican administrations, in bear markets or bull markets, in peacetime and wartime.

We stay positive and focused.

We keep the faith.

We do not apologize for our beliefs. We do not re-brand them, re-form them, or relinquish them. We defend them.

Now, even Roger Stone finds it impossible to defend the worst outrages which Bush indulged in. The Republicans are left with only the Michelle Malkins of this world thinking that all is well and that what the Republicans need to do is:

We lock and load our ideological ammunition.

We fight.

It sounds like a party run by bampots because that is exactly what it is. Even Roger Stone now sees that. The next four years are going to be very messy for the Republicans.

Daily Show: Stewart slams Lieberman and Stevens.

Jon Stewart asks the question that we are all asking, how far do you have to go to get fired if you aren't fired for actively supporting the other candidate?

Clinton Is Said to Accept Offer of Secretary of State Position.

The New York Times are reporting that Hillary Clinton is ready to give up her Senate seat and join Barack Obama's administration as secretary of state.

The accord between the two leading figures of the Democratic Party was the culmination of a weeklong drama that riveted the nation’s capital. President-elect Barack Obama and Mrs. Clinton fought perhaps the most polarizing nomination battle in decades, but in recruiting her for his cabinet, Mr. Obama chose to turn a rival into a partner, and she concluded she could have a greater impact by saying yes than by remaining in the Senate.

Her selection is still to be formalized and will not be announced until after Thanksgiving. It would be yet another direction in the unlikely journey of a onetime political spouse in Arkansas who went on to build a political base of her own and become a symbol of achievement to many women.

The role, though a supporting one, would make her one of the most influential players on the international stage, and it would represent at least one more act for one of the nation’s most prominent public families, as former President Bill Clinton would also become an ad hoc member of the Obama team.

I am still of a mind that Hillary's appointment to this role gives us a huge hint as to what Obama intends to do regarding the Israel/Palestine dispute.

On the record he has said things that no other American politician has ever dared to say:
"Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people..." said Obama, "the Israeli government must make difficult concessions for the peace process to restart..."
I think Obama, despite his appearance in front of AIPAC, might be willing to think outside of the box and apply pressure to the Israelis to make a peace deal possible. To this end he will need Hillary, who is blatantly pro-Israel, as she can push harder than he can without incurring the inevitable charge of anti-Semitism.

I, of course, accept that I might be engaging in a massive case of wishful thinking here, but Obama has been keeping his cards pretty close to his chest on this subject, publicly mouthing the pro-Israeli platitudes that all prospective American presidents have to make, but always hinting that he understands that the problem is far more complex than the pro-Israel lobby would like us to believe.
The junior senator from Illinois was not afraid of challenging hard line American Jewish leaders even while supporting Israeli security. "This is where I get to be honest and I hope I'm not out of school here. I think there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel that you're anti-Israel and that can't be the measure of our friendship with Israel," he said. Obama listed his overall plans by stating: " My goal then would be to solicit as many practical opinions as possible in terms of how we're going to move forward on the improvement of [Palestinian-Israeli] relations and a sustainable peace.
He's certainly dipping his toes into areas normally avoided by American presidential candidates, and one can read into his comments an understanding of what needs to be done here on both sides.
The mixed race American candidate also said that he has consistently urged Palestinians when he was in Ramallah that they must "relinquish the right of return as it has been understood in the past. And that doesn't mean that there may not be conversations about compensation issues." Obama noted the irony that "one of the things that struck me when I went to Israel was how much more open the debate was around these issues in Israel than they are sometimes here in the United States. It's very ironic." Obama concluded by saying "I want practical, hardheaded, unromantic advice about how we're going to achieve that."
International law recognises the Palestinians who left the region in 1948 as refugees and says that their refugee status can only be removed by either repatriation or compensation. Obama is the first US politician that I have heard mention compensation as a way of addressing this issue, which leads me to believe that he has given this matter considerable thought.

So, he has identified the pro-Likud position as unhelpful and he has an idea of how to address the Palestinian right to return.

He's already signalling that that he wants to take this matter seriously and that he won't be tied to the usual script. The inclusion of Hillary in his administration leads me to believe that he is ready to push the Israelis to accept a deal.

As I say, it might be wishful thinking on my part, but I can't see any other reason as to why he should be so keen to invite Hillary into his administration.

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