Monday, May 31, 2010

Where's the oil? Right Wing pundits dismissed spill.

This video does a very good job of showing how right wing pundits went from asking "Where's the oil?" to calling this "Obama's Katrina".

That's quite a leap...

It's impossible to take these hypocrites seriously.

Liz Cheney: 'We've Got a President Now Who Thinks That Saying Something Makes it So'.

Liz Cheney, one of the foulest people on the American airwaves, now states that Obama "thinks that saying something makes it so".

As Crooks and Liars rightly points out, this is especially rich coming from the daughter of a man who made the following statements.

"I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency." -- on the Iraq insurgency, June 20, 2005

and this:

"We know he's been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons, and we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons." --March 16, 2003

and this:

"My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators." --March 16, 2003

and this:

"There are a lot of lessons we want to learn out of this process in terms of what works. I think we are in fact on our way to getting on top of the whole Katrina exercise." --Sept. 10, 2005
Yeah, Lizzie, Obama's the guy who thinks that saying something makes it so....

Obama: Israel Must Sign NNPT.

It's really not a good day for Israel and Netanyahu, with even the US - under Obama - now insisting that Israel sign up to the NNPT.

The Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, cornerstone of global disarmament efforts, has gained a new lease of life – but at the price of a small but telling diplomatic victory for Iran, and new strains between Israel and its most important ally, the US.

Unlike its predecessor in 2005, the regular five-yearly NPT review conference that wrapped up at the United Nations at the weekend this time did manage to produce a final resolution. The 189 signatories unanimously reaffirmed the treaty's basic bargain – that states with nuclear weapons will take steps to get rid of them (although once again no deadline is stipulated), while those that don't have them undertake not to do so.

But all of its most contentious parts affect Israel, not a signatory to the treaty and generally assumed to be a nuclear power, with anywhere between 100 and 300 warheads, even though it refuses to confirm or deny their existence.

Not only does the 28-page final document call for an international conference on a nuclear weapon-free Middle East, a long-standing goal of Arab countries, led by Egypt. It also specifically demands that Israel sign up to the NPT, and open its nuclear facilities to international inspection.

In a blistering response on Saturday, the Israeli government said it would ignore the resolution, describing it as "deeply flawed and hypocritical". Why single out Israel, it asked, when "the real problem with Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle East ... relates to those countries that have signed the NPT and brazenly violated it – Iraq under Saddam, Libya, Syria and Iran."

Obama has done well to insist on this ahead of his meeting with Netanyahu tomorrow. I have always said that Obama needs to demonstrate to Netanyahu that he can bring serious pressure down on his head if he remains obstinate on the subject of peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Insisting that Israel sign up to the NNPT is merely the first of several options which Obama has open to him.

There is talk that Obama was left with an untenable choice, either fail to support Israel or be seen as wrecking a conference on one of the President's top priorities, preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.

But the choice he has made, despite his reasons for doing so, is very different from the one which would have been made by his predecessor.

Netanyahu is finding out that America's interests and his own are not necessarily the same thing.

Click here for full article.

Deaths as Israeli forces storm Gaza aid ship.

Shocking, truly shocking.

More than 10 people have been killed after Israeli commandos stormed a convoy of ships carrying aid to the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army says. Armed forces boarded the vessels overnight, clashing with some of the 600 protesters on board.

The exact location of the interception is unclear. Israel had warned the ships not to enter its territorial waters.

The ships are carrying 10,000 tonnes of aid to try to break a long-standing Israeli-led blockade.
Israel says its forces were attacked by activists when they got on board. "The people on the boats were very, very violent toward the soldiers," Israeli military spokeswoman Lt Col Avital Leibovich was quoted as saying by AFP news agency. Organisers of the flotilla said at least 30 people were wounded in the incident.
They were attempting to deliver aid to the stricken people of Gaza, and more than ten of them are now dead.

I said the other day that we were about to find out how obstinate the Israelis really were. But, honestly, I would never have predicted this.

We should wait for this story to fully reveal itself, but Ha'aretz are also carrying it, and they are saying the number of protesters killed is between ten and fifteen people.

And all of these people have been killed whilst trying to deliver aid.

The flotilla was fully prepared for the different scenarios that might arise, and organizers were hopeful that Israeli authorities would do what's right and not stop the convoy, one of the organizers said.

"We fully intend to go to Gaza regardless of any intimidation or threats of violence against us," Arraf said. "They are going to have to forcefully stop us."

I doubt any of us imagined that Israel would use the kind of force which she appears to have used.

The Turkish foreign ministry have already condemned Israel's behaviour calling it a violation of international law.

Turkey's foreign ministry on Monday denounced as "unacceptable" an Israeli attack on an aid convoy bound for Gaza which killed at least 10 people, summoning Israel's ambassador to discuss the incident and bringing already tense relations between the countries to new levels.

The ministry said that Israel had violated International law and must now carry the consequences.

"[The interception on the convoy] is unacceptable ... Israel will have to endure the consequences of this behavior," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Murat Mercan, a lawmaker from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling party, said: "I was expecting an intervention. I was not expecting bloodshed, the use of arms and bullets."

"Israel is engaged in activity that will extremely hurt its image," he said.

All of us expected an intervention, but I don't think anyone could have foreseen a loss of life on this scale. It really is truly shocking. These were people trying to feed other people suffering under an Israeli boycott, I don't think any of us imagined that their lives would ever be in danger. This was a flotilla which included the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Mairead Corrigan-Maguire of Northern Ireland, and a Holocaust survivor, Hedy Epstein, 85. I never imagined this scale of violence could be used against this sort of protester.

Speaking by satellite phone from the Challenger 1 boat, which has foreign legislators and other high-profile figures on board, a Free Gaza Movement leader, Huwaida Arraf, said: “We communicated to them clearly that we are unarmed civilians. We asked them not to use violence.”
And yet they did.


Unsurprisingly, the Israelis have tried to lay the blame for this on the protesters.
Barak voiced regret for the deaths, but called the flotilla a political provocation and said the sponsors of the flotilla were violent supporters of a terror organization.
Those "violent supporters" included a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and a Holocaust survivor.


William Hague has "deplored" what has happened:

William Hague said the British embassy was in "urgent contact" with the Israeli government, asking for more information.

He said: "I deplore the loss of life during the interception of the Gaza flotilla. Our embassy is in urgent contact with the Israeli government.

"We are asking for more information and urgent access to any UK nationals involved.

"We have consistently advised against attempting to access Gaza in this way because of the risks involved. But at the same time, there is a clear need for Israel to act with restraint and in line with international obligations.

"It would be important to establish the facts about this incident and especially whether enough was done to prevent death and injuries.

"This news underlines the need to lift the restrictions on access to Gaza in line with UNSCR (UN Security Council Resolution) 1860."

Mr Hague continued: "The closure (of access to Gaza) is unacceptable and counter-productive. There can be no better response from the international community to this tragedy than to achieve urgently a durable resolution to the Gaza crisis.

"I call on the Government of Israel to open the crossings to allow unfettered access for aid to Gaza, and address the serious concerns about the deterioration in the humanitarian and economic situation and about the effect on a generation of young Palestinians."

He is also calling for the boycott to end, which is long, long overdue.


Netanyahu has now cancelled his visit to Obama and the UN are holding a meeting at 6pm. The international condemnation is widespread.

And there's a very good article from the Israeli Ha'aretz newspaper which argues "We are no longer defending Israel. We are now defending the siege. The siege itself is becoming Israel's Vietnam."

Click here for full article.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

In One Reality Or Another.

Larison gets the hypocrisy of Noonan's position:

If a President does not actively “take charge” and is not seen as “doing something,” he is ridiculed as weak and ineffective, when according to any vision of a less activist, less interventionist, less intrusive government the President would not involve himself closely in most events similar to this oil spill. It is a bit more absurd in the conservatives’ case. They are horrified by the tyranny of the individual mandate, but most otherwise seem content to demand the firm smack of a strong executive and the protections of an omnicompetent managerial state. Having mocked Obama’s more enthusiastic supporters for wanting him to be a savior of sorts, some Republicans seem genuinely annoyed that he has not been able to work miracles.
So what do they want? I thought private sector intervention was always the path favoured by these guys? Now, it's Obama's fault that their "drill, baby, drill" mantra has produced a disaster?

They lack coherence.

Click here for full article.

Beck Accuses Jewish Social Justice Worker Of Advocating A New Holocaust.

It really does seem as if every day brings a new reason to be outraged at Glenn Beck and the rubbish he spouts.

Last month Simon Greer — the president and CEO of Jewish Funds for Justice - addressed Beck's claim that "social justice" was simply a disguise for socialism:

“Mr. Beck, you are a con man and America is not buying it,” Greer wrote. “When churches, synagogues, mosques, and other houses of worship across this country advocate for social justice, advocate for the common good, advocate for America, they, and we, walk in God’s path.”
Beck responded to him yesterday by stating that Greer's advocacy of social justice “leads to death camps.” “A Jew, of all people, should know that,” Beck added. “This is exactly the kind of talk that led to the death camps in Germany.”

Greer has made a statement responding to Beck's charge.
Glenn Beck has a history of recklessly invoking Nazi Germany and the Holocaust in order to advance his political agenda. But never before has Beck accused Jews – including survivors of the Holocaust and their children and grandchildren – of paving the way for fascism. Through his comments, Beck has demonstrated that he has no idea what leads to fascism. Jews and others, who were victims of the Holocaust, do not have the luxury of his ignorance.

Beck’s reflexive hatred for government is rejected by Americans of all backgrounds, who have seen the powerful role government can play in providing us with greater freedom, security, and opportunity. I am proud of the work we do at Jewish Funds for Justice, where our belief that we are all made in the image of the divine compels us to petition private enterprise, charities, and yes, the government, to do their part to ensure our shared divinity.
There is simply not a day that passes without this idiot Beck saying something which is highly offensive.

Lewis Black nailed him before on this "Nazi Tourettes" which he constantly displays.

Beck even claims that, "Empathy leads you to very bad decisions many times." That sentence alone tells you that the man is a moron.

Prof. Richard Hasen Criticizes Fox For Their 'Breathless' Coverage of Sestak Issue.

Professor of Law Richard Hasen popped up on Fox News earlier to tell them that their coverage of the Joe Sestak affair has been "breathless" and that the whole thing will blow over in less than a week.

I don't know why, but I can't see Hasen being invited back on to Fox any time soon.

BP Prepares to Take New Tack on Leak After ‘Top Kill’ Fails.

I can't be the only person who reads this...

In another serious setback in the effort to stem the flow of oil gushing from a well a mile beneath the Gulf of Mexico, BP engineers said Saturday that the “top kill” technique had failed and, after consultation with government officials, they had decided to move on to another strategy.

Doug Suttles, BP’s chief operating officer for exploration and production, said at a news conference that the engineers would try once again to solve the problem with a containment cap and that it could take four to seven days for the device to be in place.

“After three full days of attempting top kill, we now believe it is time to move on to the next of our options,” Mr. Suttles said.

... and want to see every idiot who yelled, "Drill, baby, drill" during the last election eat their words publicly.

This is already the worst oil spill in the US's history and there is no sign that this is going to be solved any time soon.
“The engineers are disappointed, and management is upset,” said the technician. “Nothing is good, nothing is good.”
I'll say... But where are the "Drill, baby, drill" crowd? They should, at the very least, be speaking in public about why this is a price worth paying. This was always a risk of the policy which they loudly preached, so why aren't they defending that policy at the moment?

Click here for full article.

David Laws' resignation over expenses scandal leaves coalition in turmoil.

It's a bad start to any government when they lose a senior minister this early in the government's life cycle, but for this coalition between two polar opposites, the resignation of David Laws strikes me as particularly ominous.

David Laws, appointed chief secretary to the Treasury less than three weeks ago, stood down saying that he no longer believed his position was tenable after it was revealed that he had claimed more than £40,000 to live in his partner's house. Commons rules introduced in 2006 barred such claims by MPs.

His decision marked a sudden and dramatic end to the brief honeymoon enjoyed by David Cameron's and Nick Clegg's new government. It also brought to an end one of the briefest cabinet careers in recent history.

Laws, who returned to London from his Yeovil constituency to announce his decision, said in his resignation statement at the Treasury that the previous 24 hours had been the most difficult and painful of his life.

I didn't even have time to form an opinion of the guy before he has been forced to step off of the stage.

Obviously one can read too much into these things, but it is unmistakably a shaky start.

In a letter to Cameron, he said he felt he had no option but to step down. "I do not see how I can carry on my crucial work on the budget and spending review while I have to deal with the private and public implications of recent revelations. At this important time the chancellor needs, in my own view, a chief secretary who is not distracted by personal troubles."

He added: "I hardly need to say how much I regret having to leave such vital work, which I feel all my life has prepared me for." Laws also said that while his decisions over his expenses had been dictated by his wish to keep his homosexuality secret, he now accepted he had done wrong. It was announced that Danny Alexander, the Lib Dem MP and Scottish secretary, would replace Laws at the Treasury.

Replying to Laws, Cameron offered hope of a future return to the government, saying he recognised it had been "an extraordinarily difficult and painful" 24 hours. "You are a good and honourable man. I am sure that throughout you have been motivated by wanting to protect your privacy rather than anything else. I hope that in time you will be able to serve again as I think it absolutely clear that you have a huge amount to offer our country."

I do agree with Cameron's conclusion that Laws appears to have been motivated by a desire to protect his privacy more than anything else, but a resignation this soon after an election can never be viewed as a good start.

Especially as Cameron came to power promising to end scandals which involved MP's expenses. This is simply the last thing that Cameron would have wanted to happen.

Click here for full article.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Why BP is the Anti-Katrina.

Kevin Drum effortlessly takes apart the right wing notion that the BP oil story is in any way equivalent to Katrina.

This conflates two very different things. Katrina was an example of the type of disaster that the federal government is specifically tasked with handling. And for most of the 90s, it was very good at handling them. But when George Bush became president and Joe Allbaugh became director of FEMA, everything changed. Allbaugh neither knew nor cared about disaster preparedness. For ideological reasons, FEMA was downsized and much of its work outsourced. When Allbaugh left after less than two years on the job, he was replaced by the hapless Michael Brown and the agency was downgraded and broken up yet again. By the time Katrina hit, the upper levels of FEMA were populated largely with political appointees with no disaster preparedness experience and the agency was simply not up to the job of dealing with a huge storm anymore.

The Deepwater Horizon explosion is almost the exact opposite. There is no federal expertise in capping oil blowouts. There is no federal agency tasked specifically with repairing broken well pipes. There is no expectation that the federal government should be able to respond instantly to a disaster like this. There never has been. For better or worse, it's simply not something that's ever been considered the responsibility of the federal government.
They are berating Obama for something which was always the responsibility of the private sector in the first place.


And it's interesting to compare Peggy Noonan's reaction to Bush's presidency after Katrina and what she is saying about Obama's presidency after the oil spill.

“Is the Bush Era over? No, no, no. It has three more years. That’s a long time. History turns on a dime. There is much ahead, and potential for progress.” ~ Peggy Noonan, following the Katrina disaster (via)

“I don’t see how the president’s position and popularity can survive the oil spill.” ~ Peggy Noonan, today

The hypocrisy of these people is breathtaking.

Click here for full article.

Glenn Beck smears Obama's 11-year-old daughter.

Glenn Beck did an impersonation of Barack Obama's 11 year old daughter on the radio this morning, which included her asking why Obama "hates black people so much" - the answer apparently is that he is "part white" - and why he hasn't put Sarah Palin into "some sort of camp."

BECK: (imitating Malia) Daddy? Daddy? Daddy, did you plug the hole yet? Daddy?

PAT GRAY (co-host): (imitating Obama) No I didn't, honey.

BECK: (imitating Malia) Daddy, I know you're better than [unintelligible]

GRAY: (imitating Obama) Mm-hmm, big country.

BECK: (imitating Malia) And I was wondering if you've plugged that hole yet.

GRAY: (imitating Obama) Honey, not yet.

BECK: (imitating Malia) Why not, daddy? But daddy--

GRAY: (imitating Obama) Not time yet, honey. Hasn't done enough damage.

BECK: (imitating Malia) Daddy?

GRAY: (imitating Obama) Not enough damage yet, honey.

BECK: (imitating Malia) Daddy?

GRAY: (imitating Obama) Yeah?

BECK: (imitating Malia) Why do you hate black people so much?

GRAY: (imitating Obama) I'm part white, honey.

BECK: (imitating Malia) What?

GRAY: (imitating Obama) What?

BECK: (imitating Malia) What'd you say?

GRAY: (imitating Obama) Excuse me?

BECK: (laughing) This is such a ridiculous -- this is such a ridiculous thing that his daughter-- (imitating Malia) Daddy?

GRAY: It's so stupid.

BECK: How old is his daughter? Like, thirteen?

GRAY: Well, one of them's, I think, thirteen, one's eleven, or something.

BECK: "Did you plug the hole yet, daddy?" Is that's their -- that's the level of their education, that they're coming to -- they're coming to daddy and saying 'Daddy, did you plug the hole yet?' " Plug the hole!

GRAY: (imitating Obama) Yes, I was doing some deep-sea diving yesterday, and--

BECK: (imitating Malia) Daddy?

GRAY: (imitating Obama) Yeah, mm-hmm, mm-hmm, I was doing--

BECK: (imitating Malia) Why--

GRAY: (imitating Obama) Yeah, honey, I'm--

BECK (imitating Malia) Why, why, why, why, do you still let the polar bears die? Daddy, why do you still let Sarah Palin destroy the environment? Why are -- Daddy, why don't you just put her in some sort of a camp?

This came from a man who has previously stated that families should be left alone and not be made part of political debate. Nor is this the first time that Beck has mocked Obama's family members.

As Cenk rightly states, this guy is simply a dick. This is simply despicable behaviour as even Beck apparently now realises.
In discussing how President Obama uses children to shield himself from criticism, I broke my own rule about leaving kids out of political debates. The children of public figures should be left on the sidelines. It was a stupid mistake and I apologize--and as a dad I should have known better.
Even he realises that he should not have gone where he went. But I am left wondering what he will have to do to be fired. He's mocking an 11 year old on national radio, is there nowhere too low for this guy to go?


Olbermann names him as "worst person in the world".

And MSNBC criticises him for going "way too far".


Limbaugh also gets on board.

Cameron faces revolt on electoral reform.

The Conservative Party revolt over AV has begun in earnest.

Tory MPs plan to make it harder to secure a "yes" vote in any referendum on the alternative vote (AV). The wrecking tactics will anger the Liberal Democrats, because the promise of a chance to change the system was a crucial factor in the agreement to join the coalition.

Daniel Kawczynski, chairman of the all-party group for the current first-past-the-post system, said he would table an amendment to the Bill paving the way for a referendum saying that 40 per cent of the electorate would need to support change in the public vote before it could be implemented. That would need a high turnout. A similar amendment scuppered plans for Scottish devolution in a 1979 referendum. The plan was supported by 52 per cent of those voting but that amounted to only 33 per cent of the electorate.
This was to be expected. Indeed, I am not even sure that David Cameron will be disappointed that his backbenchers are behaving in this way.

He doesn't want AV any more than they do.

But he promised a vote on it as part of this shoddy deal to get the Liberal Democrats on board. Now the Tories will do everything they can to make sure that this vote fails.
Mr Kawczynski, the Tory MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, said: "If we are to hold a referendum on AV, it is only fair that any changes are implemented if they hold the support of a clear majority of the electorate. Fundamental constitutional change should not be enacted by process of a knee-jerk reaction. It is all-too easy for voters to pledge support for change to the electoral system; understanding the implications of this change is, however, something different. But the implications of AV could not be clearer: a more disproportional system; legislative gridlock; impersonal politics."
We are told that Tory whips will try to crush this rebellion as it puts the coalition "under strain", but that strikes me as window dressing. The Tories don't want AV. They never have and they never will.

Let's not kid ourselves that Cameron is disappointed that his backbenchers are keen to outlaw something which he doesn't support.

And Nick Clegg would be a fool if any of this surprises him. He got into bed with a party who do not share his aims. They, ultimately, do not want what he wants. So, it should be no surprise that they are behaving in this way.

Click here for full article.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Beck ties the White House to "soft revolution" and warns that eventually "they start just shooting people".

Could this man get more ludicrous?

BECK: So soft revolutions start with, "Hey, buddy, we're so much alike." Then the threats, if you stand up against them. The other threat that always happens is they say we'll cut you off from information. We're not going to give you the information. You're going to be isolated. You're going to be a pariah. And whether it's you or just your news organization -- or your organization, whatever it might be that's standing up against them -- they will cut you off on funds, and they will cut you out from everybody else. And then you have a decision to make.

And I think people in the press are at this point now where they are starting to wake up, but unfortunately I think they are making their decisions right now. They are seeing the things. They have to. They are seeing the things that you and I see. They are seeing the things that I have said, and others have said. Tea parties have said. And they are starting to see, "Wait a minute. This is -- this isn't going well." They see Robert Gibbs going to them and say, "What the hell are you asking so many questions about BP for?" Excuse me? They're seeing it.

They're seeing that the White House is issuing their own videos now with the Supreme Court justice nominee, not granting any interviews with her unless you're friendly.

See, first they tried to do that with me. Then they tried to it with Fox entirely. They said they were going to pull Fox out of the pool. And they said that, "You know, they're not really even a news organization." And they recommended to others that they don't treat them like a news organization. Do you see what's happening?

That's the way a soft revolution happens. If somebody starts to turn on them, or they can't get everyone to silence, that's when the arrests come, or that's when they start a hard revolution. That's when they start just shooting people. I hope we don't get to that point. I pray that we don't get to that point, but I never thought this country would get to the point where we are today.
So, we are almost at the point where the Obama regime are about to start shooting people in the streets?

Where does Beck get this hyperbolic nonsense? And the notion that people are outraged because Obama is asking too many questions of BP is simply hysterical. If anything Obama should be asking more of BP.

Obama Offers Regret Mixed With Resolve.

They are the three words which most American presidents go to any length to avoid saying; "I was wrong." And yet, yesterday, Obama uttered them.

He strode into the East Room to mount a robust defense of his handling of the largest oil spill in American history, reassuring the nation that he was in charge and would do “whatever is necessary” to stop and clean up the BP leak in the Gulf of Mexico. But by the time he walked out an hour later, he had balanced that with a fairly unusual presidential self-critique.

He was wrong, he said, to assume that oil companies were prepared for the worst as he tried to expand offshore drilling. His team did not move with “sufficient urgency” to reform regulation of the industry. In dealing with BP, his administration “should have pushed them sooner” to provide images of the leak, and “it took too long for us” to measure the size of the spill.

“In case you’re wondering who’s responsible, I take responsibility,” Mr. Obama said as he concluded the news conference. “It is my job to make sure that everything is done to shut this down. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. It doesn’t mean it’s going to happen right away or the way I’d like it to happen. It doesn’t mean that we’re not going to make mistakes. But there shouldn’t be any confusion here. The federal government is fully engaged, and I’m fully engaged.”

The Republicans are, of course, attempting to equate this with Katrina, which strikes me as simply nonsensical.

Their argument, that the private sector is always better than government intervention, was certainly evident by the Bush government's non-response to a national emergency. It was almost as if the Bush administration wanted to prove how useless government could be.

But, in this case, BP is a private sector company. So, what happened to the private sector being better than the government in sorting out this kind of mess?

Obama is apologising for ever having accepted this ludicrous argument in the first place. For ever believing that BP would do what it should do. For taking the kind of hands off approach which Republicans always demand of the government.

To call this "his Katrina" is to reverse the argument which the Republicans always make: that big government should stay out of the way and allow the private sector free reign.

It is their argument which has collapsed here.


Peggy Noonan finally loses her marbles.
The disaster in the Gulf may well spell the political end of the president and his administration.
Wishful thinking from Noonan methinks.

Andrew Sullivan makes the same point I am making, he just does it better:
The premise of Noonan's moronic column is that the federal government, especially the president, should be capable of ending an oil-pipe rupture owned and operated by private companies, using technology that only deep-sea oil companies deploy or understand.
And she makes this claim whilst ending her column with this statement:
[W]hen you ask a government far away in Washington to handle everything, it will handle nothing well.
There it is again, this claim that government are useless and only the private sector can act quickly enough in emergency situations. Except it is a private company which has been in charge of this operation for the past thirty days.

Click here for full article.

House Votes to Allow Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Law.

The Republicans are up in arms.

The House voted Thursday to let the Defense Department repeal the ban on gay and bisexual people from serving openly in the military, a major step toward dismantling the 1993 law widely known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The provision would allow military commanders to repeal the ban. The repeal would permit gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the military for the first time.
Here were some of the arguments they used to stop this bill from passing.

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R-TX): “If someone has to be overt about their sexuality, whether it’s in a bunker where they’re confined under fire, then it’s a problem. And that’s what repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell does. It says, ‘I have to be overt, I don’t care. I want this to be a social experiment.”

REP: TODD AKIN (R-MI): “So are we then going to then protect and condone homosexuality in the military?…Is this the sort of thing that George Washington or our founders would be proud of, that we are doing today in this quick flash before Memorial Day?

Why are the Republicans always on the wrong side of history? Don't they ever tire of being dinosaurs?

Click here for full article.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Weiner to Asman: "I saw the Beck interview," you are "holding water for Goldline".

I really like Weiner. He's a man of passion and conviction; and, I think, he's usually bang on the money.

Rachel Maddow: Oil Regulation a Broken System.

MADDOW: There is some breaking news tonight on the B.P. oil disaster and the government‘s response to it. NBC News has learned that on Thursday, the day after tomorrow, President Obama will announce tougher safety requirements for offshore oil rigs. This is according to a senior administration official. This is a result of 30-day review of offshore drilling procedures that the president announced after the Deepwater Horizon disaster started more than 30 days ago. Among the administration‘s plans are a stronger inspection regime for rigs.

Now, as the B.P. oil disaster continues unabated in the Gulf, you may recall that because of legislation passed after the Exxon Valdez disaster, oil companies are by law to required pay $75 million in damages in the event of a spill. Democrats led by Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey have been trying to get rid of that liability cap ever since the B.P. oil disaster happened.

The first time they tried to get rid of it, Alaska‘s Republican senator, Lisa Murkowski, blocked it. The second time they tried to get rid of the oil company liability cap, it was Senator Jim Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma, who blocked it.

And now, given what we are going through in the Gulf, Democrats have made a third attempt to get rid of the limit on oil company liability in terms of paying for what they spill. And again, Senator Jim Inhofe has blocked it, explaining that if oil companies have to pay too much of the cost of their own spills then small oil companies, you know, little mom and pop oil companies, won‘t get into the kind of drilling that‘s likely to cause great big expensive oil spills.
So, certain Republicans - you know, the people who believe in "personal responsibility" - believe that oil companies shouldn't pay for their own oil spills, but that the rest of us should foot the bill.

It's the same crap that we witnessed during the economic crisis with the banks. Their profits are private, but they insist that their losses must be public. They appear to want to live in a risk free world where they can only ever win.

Rachel has much more on just how corrupt the system has become.

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The battle to write the inside story of New Labour.

Winston Churchill once famously declared, "history will be kind to me for I intend to write it", and that appears to be the aspirations of the architects of New Labour.

Tony Blair is the next ex-Prime Minister to go into print, with a memoir acquired at vast expense by Random House, which will come out just as the party political conference season gets under way in September.

Gordon Brown will probably follow him, in another year, though someone who is in touch with the former Prime Minister said yesterday: "He has not been on to a publisher yet – but that doesn't mean he is not going to."

Lord Mandelson is not saying what the focus of his book will be. He has not signed a deal with a publisher yet, but he is unlikely to have any difficulty finding one. The Times has already signalled an interest in the serial rights.

One could be forgiven for thinking that we are watching the obituaries of New Labour being written. For we are surely at the end of the road where Labour pitch their policies in purely conservative terms in an attempt to please the readers of the Daily Mail.

When Labour lost Glasgow East there was surely a movement within the party which realised it was becoming utterly divorced from it's base?

The leadership election must address that fact.

And, in the meantime, we will watch the people who divorced Labour from it's base issue their utterly self serving reasoning's.

I won't be reading any of them.

Click here for full article.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

O'Reilly takes apart Stossel's Civil Rights Act comments.

I wrote the other day about John Stossel arguing that private businesses had the right to discriminate.

Here, he finds that even Bill O'Reilly does not agree with him.

Who's out to get Glenn Beck?

According to Glenn Beck, there is a massive campaign being waged against him to silence "the truth". Media Matters have produced a list of the people who Glenn thinks are out to get him.

The White House

President Obama

Other people in the Oval Office




The press



Media Matters' "unholy alliance"

Jim Wallis

Pastors in general and the SEIU

SEIU president Andy Stern

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY)

The rest of Congress

Census workers

Government assassins

George Soros


Rock throwers

The fake CIA




Spanish teachers

All teachers


Murderers and rapists

Keyser Soze

Tonya Harding

And, of course, "they" - it's always "they"...

Now, it's never that Glenn is talking crap, it's that any attempt to correct him is a form of censorship. An attempt to silence "the truth".

If one questions any of Beck's ridiculous claims then you are apparently undermining the entire notion of a free press.

Gaza aid flotilla to set sail for confrontation with Israel.

A flotilla of eight boats carrying thousands of tonnes of construction materials, medical equipment and other aid is heading for Gaza.

The problem is that the Israelis are likely to try to stop this aid from reaching the people it is holding under a strict blockade.

Three cargo ships and five passenger vessels plan to meet up in international waters between Cyprus and Gaza Strip before heading towards Gaza City. The Israeli military is expected to stop the flotilla and divert it to the Israeli port of Ashdod.

One of the organisers of the flotilla, which includes three vessels from Turkey, is IHH, a humanitarian aid group supported by Ankara. Diplomatic relations between Turkey and Israel have deteriorated since the Israelis launched a three-week war on Gaza in 2008-09. An attempt to block the flotilla is likely to increase tensions between the two countries. The Turkish prime minister, Racep Tayyip Erdogan, has called on Israel to avoid this be allowing the boats through.

"This could make relations between Israel and Turkey more complicated," said Yigal Palmor, an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman.

On board the ships are 10,000 tonnes of cargo and about 700-800 activists and politicians from more than 40 countries. The cargo includes building materials, medical supplies and paper for schools. One boat is carrying a complete dental surgery including drills. Crayons and chocolate are also on board for Gazan children. The cargo has been paid for by donations.

"We're trying to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip and tell the world that Israel has no right to starve 1.5 million Palestinians," said Greta Berlin, of the Free Gaza Movement, another organiser of the flotilla. "We are bringing in vitally needed supplies so the people of Gaza can rebuild their infrastructure."

The Israeli blockade is disgraceful. Israel decided many months ago to try to starve the Palestinians into submission.

The only real surprise is that it has taken so long for other nations to attempt to stop this barbarity.

The people of Palestine are being punished for making what Israel - and certain countries in the west - regard as the wrong choice in an election. That we can be doing this whilst telling the world that we promote democracy is simply a sick joke.

But Israel, when she imposed this blockade, was not in the isolated position she now finds herself in. Now, Israel finds herself at odds with the US, which means she will find herself under a new kind of pressure should she attempt to turn these boats away.

John Ging, head of the main UN agency in Gaza, urged more ships carrying aid to be sent: "We believe that Israel would not stop these vessels because the sea is open, and many human rights organisations have been successful in previous similar steps, and proved that breaking the siege on Gaza is possible."

Earlier this week, a UN report said that three-quarters of the damage caused to Gaza's infrastructure during the three-week military conflict has not been repaired because of the blockade.

Mark Regev, the Israeli prime minister's spokesman, said: "It is strange that human rights activists are acting as apologists for a regime that is brutally repressing human rights. Hamas oppresses women, gays and Christians, has crushed independent media and destroyed all political opposition." He added that 15,000 tonnes of aid was allowed into Gaza every week.

So, Mark Regev is going to start lecturing the rest of us on what represents human rights, whilst defending the blockade of the Palestinians for daring to vote the wrong way in an election. That man has never understood the meaning of irony.

The Israeli blockade of Gaza is simply wrong. This flotilla sets out to challenge that wrong. We are about to find out just how obstinate the Israelis want to be.

Click here for full article.

Electoral reform: Liberal Democrats push for 2011 referendum on AV.

The deal which Clegg made with Cameron involved a promise on voting reform, the big question now is when will that vote take place and will the coalition survive it.

Liberal Democrat cabinet members are pressing for a referendum on voting reform for the election of MPs to be held next May, seeing it as the best chance of winning public backing for one of Nick Clegg's main political projects.

The Lib Dems fear a delayed referendum would lead voters to reject change and punish an unpopular coalition government in the wake of a programme of big spending cuts.

A referendum on 5 May 2011 could also boost turnout since nearly 12 million voters will be going to the polls in elections for the Scottish parliament, Welsh assembly and about 280 English local councils.

But a referendum has the potential to disrupt the coalition since David Cameron and almost the entire Conservative party oppose voting reform.

The prime minister gave no hint today on when the referendum on the alternative vote system (AV) would be held.

Pro-AV Cabinet members said today that they regarded May 2011 as probably the optimum date, but said the issue was extremely delicate since Cameron and Clegg would be campaigning on different sides during the referendum, which will offer a choice between the existing first- past-the-post system and AV.

Certain senior Tories are already arguing that AV will lead to constant hung parliaments, which is odd considering the way Cameron has been portraying the present hung parliament as the best thing since sliced bread, but it's an indication of the lie which both the Conservatives and the Liberals are currently having to engage in.

Cameron is in bed with Clegg because he had no other choice, Clegg is in bed with Cameron because... well, I've never really understood his reasons for doing what he is doing.

But he hopes to get voting reform. And, unlike a coalition with Labour, he seeks voting reform from the party who will benefit least from it's passing.

Conservative governments have historically achieved landslides with around 41% of the popular vote, they have certainly - for decades now - never come to power with a majority of the population backing them.

So, it is not in their interests to back AV.

Which is why Clegg will find them very reluctant to play the game when it comes to picking a time to ask the public to vote on AV.

The Conservatives said today that the bill on AV would also contain measures to reduce the number of constituencies by as much as 10% and to equalise their size – a complex, controversial and time consuming measure that will benefit the Tories.

The Lib Dems say the referendum can be held before the boundary review is complete as long as the legislation has been passed setting the constituency boundary review in train. But some senior Conservative sources were hinting the boundary review would have to be under way before the AV referendum could staged, so delaying its date.

Tory sources were also emphasising that if the referendum rejected a change to the voting system, changes to constituency boundaries would still be implemented, a move likely to make it easier for their party to be re-elected.

The Tories are interested in gerrymandering, the Liberals want AV. And yet these two now find themselves in the same bed pretending that they are both in the same team.

What they both want on this subject are polar opposites. This coalition is about to be severely tested. And, should Clegg prove unable to deliver on voting reform, many in his party will start to ask what this coalition is for.

Click here for full article.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Beck says White House "strateg[y]" to "take... out" Fox hosts "one at a time" is worse than "the Nixon enemies list".

The paranoia of Glenn Beck simply knows no bounds. He now claims that the Obama administration is conducting a Nixonesque campaign to destroy him. No doubt because he imagines that he is "speaking the truth to power."

The reality is that sponsors are avoiding him because he called the president a racist and refuses to take back that charge; and, recently, there are questions regarding how he tells his listeners to buy gold whilst being sponsored by Goldline, a company which sell over priced gold coins.

But Beck, ever the conspiracy theorist, manages to make any charge against him part of a huge conspiracy to pick off all right wing commentators. In other words, it's in the interests of "the Fox community" to rally to Beck's defence.

It's ironic that Beck can claim "I have never seen anything like it before" and state that "this is targeting and destroying"; especially as it was Glenn Beck who targeted and destroyed the career of Van Jones.

Seems like Beck like giving it out but whines when he comes under the kind of scrutiny he routinely puts others under.

First cuts mark end of coalition honeymoon and a taste of bitter things to come.

The Con-Dem coalition has announced the first of it's cuts, promising that this was "only the start".

George Osborne, the Chancellor, and his Liberal Democrat deputy, David Laws, put the emphasis on cutting Whitehall waste and omitted some sensitive areas at a Treasury press conference. It emerged later that the savings would include £130m from police administrative costs; cuts in low carbon projects; a £100m reduction for Network Rail; £108m for London's transport network; £5m for the Arts Council and £266m for regional development agencies.

Other measures include: axing 10,000 planned extra university places; scrapping offers of temporary jobs under the young person's guarantee scheme to save £290m; ending child trust funds, designed to provide a "nest egg" for young people when they reach the age of 18; a £1.16bn squeeze on local government; a £150m reduction in the housing budget; saving £1.7bn from delaying and renegotiating contracts and halting projects; £95m from IT schemes and £600m from cutting the costs of quangos.

There will be an immediate freeze on civil service recruitment to save £120m and on "unnecessary spending" on outside consultancy, advertising and computer contracts; ministers will share drivers or use public transport to cut the cost of the government car service by a third, and ministers and officials will normally travel second class to cut the £45m-a-year bill for first-class trips.
There's going to be lots more of this to come, this really is going to be the government which says no. Of course, the Con-Dems hope that we will one day thank them for their ruthlessness. Conservatives imagine that the country will, one day, see them as modern Thatcherites, doling out much needed - even if it is foul tasting - medicine.

The danger to what they are doing is that they might threaten the recovery and bring about a double dip recession. But they are doing it anyway...

It's like 1979 all over again. And we all know what that was like.

Click here for full article.

Israeli president denies offering nuclear weapons to apartheid South Africa.

Shimon Peres has denied that he ever offered to sell nuclear weapons to South Africa, but it's the way in which he has chosen to deny it which I find amusing.

"Israel has never negotiated the exchange of nuclear weapons with South Africa. There exists no Israeli document or Israeli signature on a document that such negotiations took place," it said.
If Israel was engaged in secret negotiations with South Africa there would, of course, be "no Israeli document or Israeli signature on a document" to prove that these negotiations took place.

Secret negotiations are designed not to leave paper trails. It's done with a nod and a wink, there is rarely an overt paper trail.

But Sasha Polakow-Suransky, the American academic who uncovered the documents while researching a book on the military and political relationship between the two countries, said the denials were disingenuous, because the minutes of meetings Peres held with the then South African defence minister, PW Botha, show that the apartheid government believed an explicit offer to provide nuclear warheads had been made.

Polakow-Suransky noted that Peres did not deny attending the meetings at which the purchase of Israeli weapons systems, including ballistic missiles, was discussed. "Peres participated in high level discussions with the South African defence minister and led the South Africans to believe that an offer of nuclear Jerichos was on the table," he said. "It's clear from the documentary record that the South Africans perceived that an explicit offer was on the table. Four days later Peres signed a secrecy agreement with PW Botha."

While Peres's office said there are no documents with his signature on that mention nuclear weapons, his signature does appear with Botha's on an agreement governing the broad conduct of the military relationship, including a commitment to keep it secret.

The very fact that Peres was insisting that these dealings be kept utterly secret reveals the sensitivity of what was being discussed. Now, that doesn't prove that nuclear weapons were being offered, but it does suggest that a overt paper trail for these negotiations is highly unlikely.

Although, there are records of things which make one's eyebrows raise:

Polakow-Suransky said the minutes record that at the meeting in Zurich on 4 June 1975, Botha asked Peres about obtaining Jericho missiles, codenamed Chalet, with nuclear warheads.

"Minister Botha expressed interest in a limited number of units of Chalet subject to the correct payload being available," the minutes said. The document then records that: "Minister Peres said that the correct payload was available in three sizes".

The use of a euphemism, the "correct payload", reflects Israeli sensitivity over the nuclear issue. Armstrong's memorandum makes clear the South Africans were interested in the Jericho missiles solely as a means of delivering nuclear weapons.

The use of euphemisms in a document that otherwise speaks openly about conventional weapons systems also points to the discussion of nuclear weapons.

Why are they speaking in euphemisms if they have nothing to hide? They discuss conventional weapons openly, so what is this "correct payload" which they allude to?

But Peres is, no doubt, confident that no-one can ever find any document which proves that he made an offer of nuclear weapons. That, in itself, is hardly surprising though. After all, the Israelis were insisting on utter secrecy.

But, from the documents released by South Africa, it is quite clear that the South Africans thought nuclear weapons were on offer. And, even though the documents speak in euphemisms, we should remember that we are only seeing these documents because the Apartheid regime collapsed.

Click here for full article.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Rand Paul's "Stumble".

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David Gregory makes a valid argument; the problem which Rand Paul finds himself in is not as a result of "liberal bias" but rather "his own views about the limited scope of government".

Sen. John Cornyn here seeks to put Paul's problems down to his novice status as a candidate.
Well, Dr. Paul’s new to running for public office, and I think it’s Bob’s experience, I’m sure my experience, that you see novice candidates occasionally stumble on questions. I think he’s clarified his position. But I think he’s done the right thing.
The problem I have here is with the notion that this was a "stumble". He didn't look to me like he was "stumbling". Indeed, he repeated the same point to several news outlets.

This problem wasn't brought about by the "liberal news media", the problem came about because Rand Paul was making the point that private business's should be allowed to engage in discrimination and that the market would punish those business's which chose to do so.

It's his own extraordinarily naive faith in the market to correct all social wrongs which led him into the hole in which he now finds himself.

He is indulging in "little government" extremism, and it was that which led him to say what he said. He's not been hung by "the liberal media", he's been hung by his own words. And I have no doubt that he meant them when he said them.


Fineman warns that what Paul said "plays right into the developing stereotype of the tea party"; which is that it is all about race.

But, up pops Sarah Palin to see similarities between the treatment of Rand Paul and herself. In her world Paul was trapped by the liberal Rachel Maddow.

This is simply nonsense. No-one asked Paul to express the opinions which he expressed to NPR, which Maddow later questioned him on. No-one forced him to say that there were sections of the Civil Rights Act which he didn't agree with; he did that of his own free will.

I thought the Republicans were the party of personal responsibility? Rand Paul should take responsibility for a problem which was utterly of his own making and stop whining. These are his beliefs. He either learns to defend them... or he should change them. I suggest the latter.