Saturday, January 17, 2009

Seton Hall Law: Department of Defense Wrong Again on Guantánamo “Recidivism”

In an example of your tax dollars at work:

The Seton Hall Center for Policy and Research has issued a report which rebuts and debunks the most recent claim by the Department of Defense (DOD) that “61, in all, former Guantánamo detainees are confirmed or suspected of returning to the fight.”

Professor Denbeaux of the Center for Policy & Research has said that the Center has determined that “DOD has issued 'recidivism' numbers 43 times, and each time they have been wrong—this last time the most egregiously so.”

Denbeaux stated: “Once again, they’ve failed to identify names, numbers, dates, times, places, or acts upon which their report relies. Every time they have been required to identify the parties, the DOD has been forced to retract their false IDs and their numbers. They have included people who have never even set foot in Guantánamo—much less were they released from there. They have counted people as 'returning to the fight' for their having written an Op-ed piece in the New York Times and for their having appeared in a documentary exhibited at the Cannes Film Festival. The DOD has revised and retracted their internally conflicting definitions, criteria, and their numbers so often that they have ceased to have any meaning—except as an effort to sway public opinion by painting a false portrait of the supposed dangers of these men.

"Forty-three times they have given numbers—which conflict with each other—all of which are seriously undercut by the DOD statement that 'they do not track' former detainees. Rather than making up numbers “willy-nilly” about post release conduct, America might be better served if our government actually kept track of them.”

Sourced: Seton Hall Law.

My comment: Every day that has passed since Nixon, it's become harder and harder to be an idealist.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Rise of Totaliterianism in America

American Nazi party members, (aka German American Bund) march while carrying Nazi and American flags during a Bund outing from nearby Camp Sigfried.
Location: Yaphank, NY, US
Date taken: 1937

"In 1939, in a stadium much like this, in Munich Germany, they packed it out with young men and women in brown shirts, for a fanatical man standing behind a podium named Adolf Hitler, the personification of evil.

"And in that stadium, those in brown shirts formed with their bodies a sign that said, in the whole stadium, "Hitler, we are yours."

"And they nearly took the world.

"Lenin once said, "give me 100 committed, totally committed men and I'll change the world." And, he nearly did.

"A few years ago, they took the sayings of Chairman Mao, in China, put them in a little red book, and a group of young people committed them to memory and put it in their minds and they took that nation, the largest nation in the world by storm because they committed to memory the sayings of the Chairman Mao.

"When I hear those kinds of stories, I think 'what would happen if American Christians, if world Christians, if just the Christians in this stadium, followers of Christ, would say 'Jesus, we are yours'?

"What kind of spiritual awakening would we have?"

-- quoting Pastor Rick Warren (the guy who's giving the Invocation at the Inauguration).

... more from Crooks and Liars after the click.

My comment: Death to independent thinking! Death to questions! How wonderful once we're all united and goose stepping all together! Sieg Heil! :::accompanied by the sound of clicking heels:::

What fantastic role models! Hitler, Lenin, Mao! Now THAT sends a clear message and communicates a real Utopian vision for the future!

... and what shall we do with those who dare to question? or, worse yet, dare to disagree?

The "Dog Doesn't Bite Man" Story of the Week

A plane took off from La Guardia yesterday with 155 passengers aboard. A few moments later, after passing through a flock of Canadian Geese disabling both engines, the pilot made a safe water landing (no mean feat by any stretch of the imagination) in the Hudson River ... some minor injuries among the passengers, some hypothermia ... but everyone survived. End of story!

The above paragraph describes the entire incident in as much detail as 99.9999999% of the population of the planet needs.

Since the plane went down yesterday, there has been virtually NOTHING ELSE on the news! Hasn't ANYTHING ELSE happened on the planet since yesterday afternoon?!?!?! Slow news day? Week? Month? I could almost (but not quite) understand it if there were fireballs, mayhem, blood and gore. That would be sensationalism! But this twenty four hour analysis of what didn't happen is beyond me!

I checked Google. Here are a few headlines that caught my attention - things that are happening right now that might constitute actual news:
  • Merkel, Putin Seek to Resolve Gas Dispute in Talks
  • Waterboarding Is Torture, Holder Tells Senators
  • Saudi FM urges to effectively implement UN resolution on Gaza crisis
  • Who will succeed N Korea's Kim Jong-il?
  • Paper Details Sites on Mars With Plumes of Methane
  • Sony Ericsson Posts Loss, Predicts Gloomy 2009
  • Appeals court backs warrantless wiretaps
Fool that I am, I believe each and every one of those headlines has implications for far more people than a plane crash in which no one was hurt.

Headline! Headline! Dog doesn't bite man! Read all about it!

Talk about empty calories!

Still delusional after all these years

from Arianna Huffington (who, incidentally, was a Republican at one time in her life)

Thursday night's valedictory speech was quintessential Bush: delusional from beginning to end.

He made Afghanistan sound like a swell place to take a vacation when, in truth, only those with a death wish venture out these days without an armed convoy.

He lauded Iraq as "a friend of the United States" -- without ever mentioning the fact that if Iraq has a BFF it is Iran, not America.

He said his Medicare prescription drug plan "is brining peace of mind to seniors." Hardly. It's been widely derided as a poorly conceived, chaotic mess.

He claimed that, on his watch America's "air, water, and lands are measurably cleaner." Who is doing the measuring, the same eco-unfriendly companies to which he handed both his environmental policies and our public lands? This is a man whose administration refused to open emails from its own EPA because they contained information about greenhouse gas emissions that are endangering public health.

... more from Arianna after the click. Much more.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Republican "Everyman" Icon, Joe the Plumber, gets a new one ...

... or get the video on YouTube after the click.

My comment: "Joe the Plumber" represents a certain segment of the American population. John McCain and the Republican Party held him up as emblematic of "Real Americans". Now, Joe is "on assignment" in Israel as a war correspondent for Pajamas Media, a right wing organization. Rick Sanchez, a real reporter and news broadcaster sums up just who Joe is (and analogously, McCain and Palin's "Real Americans" are.)

Shades if Edward R. Murrow! You tell 'em, Rick!

Just askin' ...

A stranger was seated next to a little black girl on the airplane when the stranger turned to her and said, "Let's talk. I've heard that flights go quicker if you strike up a conversation with your fellow passenger."

The little girl, who had just opened her coloring book, closed it slowly and said to the stranger, "What would you like to talk about?"

"Oh, I don't know," said the stranger. "Since you are a Negro,do you think that So-called President Elect Barack Obama is qualified for the job?" and he smiles.

"OK", she said. "That could be an interesting topic. But let me ask you a question first. A horse, a cow, and a deer all eat the same stuff - grass - yet a deer excretes little pellets, while a cow turns out a flat patty, and a Horse produces clumps of dried grass. Why do you suppose that is?"

The stranger, visibly surprised by the little girl's intelligence, thinks about it and says, "Hmmm, I have no idea."

To which the little girl replies, "Do you really feel qualified to discuss President Barack Obama... when you don't know shit?"

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Republicans perform voodoo ritual

You’ll never believe how a Christian right congressman and two anti-abortion protestors have prepared the Capitol for the Obama’s inauguration.

On January 7, second-term Republican Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia and two friends prayed over a door. It was not just any door, but the entranceway beneath the Capitol that President-elect Barack Obama will pass through as he walks onto the inaugural stage to take the oath of office. “I hope and pray that as God stirs the heart of our new president that President Obama will listen and will heed God’s direction,” Broun proclaimed.

Standing beside Broun, Rev. Patrick Mahoney launched into a prayer originally delivered by Billy Graham at Richard Nixon’s inauguration in 1969. “For too long we have neglected thy word and ignored thy laws,” Mahoney preached. “…We have sowed to the wind and are now reaping a whirlwind of crime, division, and rebellion. And now with the wages of sin staring us in the face, we remember thy words.”

While Mahoney prayed, Rev. Rob Schenck turned his palms to the sky and muttered, “Yes” and “Have mercy” over and over. Then, he dipped his fingers in a jar of oil and painted several crosses on the door’s brass framing “as they did the furnishings of the tabernacle in the temple to the use of God and his word,” he prayed.

... more on The Daily Beast after the click.

My comment: Broun is the oh, so dignified, reach-across-the-aisle type who, during the campaign, compared Obama to Hitler and called him a Marxist. (I can't decide if that's oxymoronic or just plain moronic.) The unfortunate thing is that Broun actually represents a certain segment of the American public ... both literally, as a congressman and figuratively, as a nut case. Or is it the other way around ... literally because he's a nut case ...

Wingnutia must be so proud!

Still More "Why things are the way they are"

Madam Secretary, do you have a light?

from Eavesdrop DC

A woman talking about why she was opposed to anyone being Secretary of State: "The President has enough secretaries anyway. I mean, how many people does it take to get him coffee and cigarettes and take his notes?"

What happens when a fly falls into a coffee cup?

The Italian throws the cup and walks away in a fit of rage.

The Frenchman takes out the fly, and drinks the coffee.

The Chinese eats the fly and throws away the coffee.

The Russian drinks the coffee with the fly, since there was no extra charge for the fly.

The Israeli sells the coffee to the Frenchman, the fly to the Chinese, buys himself a new cup of coffee, and uses the extra money to invent a device that prevents flies from falling into coffee.

The Palestinian blames the Israeli for the fly falling in his coffee, protests the act of aggression to the UN, takes a loan from the European Union to buy a new cup of coffee, uses the money to purchase explosives, and then blows up the coffee house where the Italian, the Frenchman, the Chinese, and the Russian are all trying to explain to the Israeli that he should give away his cup of coffee to the Palestinian.

Handing it to Hilary

You really have to give Hilary Clinton credit. Taking a cue from the right wing spin machine, she inserted the phrase "smart power" into the national foreign policy conversation.

In the past progressives have often referred to diplomacy and all that goes with it as "soft power", drawing snickers and derision from the denizens of Right Wingnutia. How wimpy and effete a choice of words; "soft power"! How ... how ... unpowerful!

The psychology in the words "smart power" is devastating. It implies "dump power", drawing a sharp contrast between the past and the future. In the past, we've used "dumb power"; in the future we will use "smart power".

The Right may not be able to govern but they're well versed in word games. They've mastered the sound bite and it's the sound bite that sells ideas to the "low information" voter ... not the idea's merit. The "Party of Ideas" has traditionally been short on long term thinking but long on turns of phrase. "Pro-life!" Who could reasonably be "Anti-life"? "Free Market!" Who could possibly be against freedom for the market? "Clean Air Act", "No Child Left Behind", "Patriot Act" - the examples from the last eight years are the culmination of the tactic, demonstrating a blatant disregard for the meanings of words - and allowing for the promotion of policy that does the complete opposite of the real meanings of the words used to sell it. George Orwell would be proud! (Actually, he's probably cringing in his grave. He was vehemently opposed to the tactic - using his classic 1984 to illustrate how devastating the results of its use can be.)

It's been the choice of words, not the soundness of the ideas that has been the hallmark of the Right.

Bravo, Hilary! I think you've preempted the Right Wing word games. It's going to be hard to attack "smart power" and, in this case, the words and the meanings are in alignment!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Catholics ordered to keep quiet over Virgin visions

Independent, UK

Catholics who claim they have seen the Virgin Mary will be forced to remain silent about the apparitions until a team of psychologists, theologians, priests and exorcists have fully investigated their claims under new Vatican guidelines aimed at stamping out false claims of miracles.

The Pope has instructed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly the Holy Office of the Inquisition, to draw up a new handbook to help bishops snuff out an explosion of bogus heavenly apparitions.

... there's more after the click.

My comment: About damned time!

But the part of the article I liked the best is the "Catch 22":

"According to Petrus, an Italian online magazine which leans towards conservative elements in the Vatican, anyone who claims to have seen an apparition will only be believed as long as they remain silent and do not court publicity over their claims. If they refuse to obey, this will be taken as a sign that their claims are false."

So, if you report it to the Holy Office of the Inquisition Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then you're ultimately looking for confirmation and the publicity that goes with it, therefore ... if you're talking it up ...

An Instruction Manual for Life

... or watch the video here on YouTube.

Reinterpreting Bush's Accomplishments

Bravely insisted that random Arabs be tortured everywhere.

Boldly blocked any attempts to get a handle on Climate Change eight whole years ago, because what’s the rush?

Completely fucked over the U.S. Constitution and stacks of federal law, because why not, Nixon was probably a good dude!

Always 100% behind Israel, because Israel has never, ever been wrong about anything in History. It’s where Jesus lives!

No Child Left Behind: This stupid program of busy-work madrassa-style rote learning, this doofus Big Government federal intrusion into the lives of your five-year-old children as American literacy and math scores have dramatically plunged, is Bush’s “fifth success,” according to this alleged Conservative editor.

Bush “promotes democracy” by literally destroying the people and infrastructure of various countries with oil reserves. This is bold!

The Medicare prescription drug benefit program, which is a Socialized Medicine congressional program, is also a great victory of the conservative George W. Bush who wanted to take old people’s social security and put it in the stock market.

Bush installed two middle-aged wingnuts on the Supreme Court, which is a great victory against those stupid enough to be born poor or black or female. But just imagine if Bush’s real choice, Harriet Miers, had become his favorite fancy judge ever!

Barnes: “He strengthened relations with east Asian democracies (Japan, South Korea, Australia) without causing a rift with China. On top of that, he forged strong ties with India.” OMFG, so the Bush Administration managed to not fuck up some of the basic, standard, major relationships with American allies in Asia. GENIUS!

THE SURGE. Thanks to George Junior W. Bush bravely ignoring EVERYONE from his own father to every living American diplomat and general, Iraq is now a peaceful, free and prosperous nation and American Troops returned home as Victors during the Victor/Victory Parade of July 4, 2007. Good-bye, Terrorisms! Even Afghanistan is free today!

... more on Wonkette after the click.

Student auctions off virginity for offers of more than £2.5 million

File the following under "Money's tight; times are hard:"

Telegraph / UK

Natalie Dylan, 22, claims her offer of a one-night stand has persuaded 10,000 men to bid for sex with her.

Last September, when her auction came to light, she had received bids up to £162,000 ($243,000) but since then interest in her has rocketed.

The student who has a degree in Women's Studies insisted she was not demeaning herself.

Miss Dylan, from San Diego, California, USA, said she was persuaded to offer herself to the highest bidder after her sister Avia, 23, paid for her own degree after working as a prostitute for three weeks.

... more from the Telegraph after the click.

My comment: Every once in a while I'm reminded of the many reasons I chose to name this blog what I named this blog ...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Put on your seat belts, kids

Zimbabwian $10 Million note. Interesting to see money with a "use by" date.
Imagine three more zeros!

Zimbabwe's central bank will introduce a $50 Billion note -- enough to buy just two loaves of bread -- as a way of fighting cash shortages amid spiraling inflation.

Another instance of similar "running of the printing press" as a way out of an economic down-turn would be Post World War I Germany. (That worked out real well, didn't it?)

I don't mean to say that inflation in Zimbabwe constitutes a threat to world peace, but ya gotta ask yourself where are all those $700 Billion Bailout increments coming from here in the US? Does Uncle Sam have a mattress filled with cash hidden away somewhere that we don't know about?

And where do you fit all the zeros in the corners of the bills? $50,000,000,000 is a lot of zeros.