Filtered news 12/7

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America the Resilient. Today marks the 65th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. As a nation, we snapped out of our post-12/7 shock in the blink of an eye and it was all downhill for Tojo after that. The USS Arizona Preservation Project has an eerie tour of the wreckage, and some awesome photos. We'll never forget. Due to the frailties of age, survivors say this will be their last official reunion at the base. If there's any justice in the world, every drink they order will be complimentary.

We also won't forget this excerpt from Richard Clarke's book Against All Enemies:

By the afternoon on [the] Wednesday [after Sept. 11], Secretary Rumsfeld was talking about broadening the objectives of our response and "getting Iraq." Secretary Powell pushed back, urging a focus on al Qaeda. Relieved to have some support, I thanked Colin Powell. "I thought I was missing something here," I vented. "Having been attacked by al Qaeda, for us now to go bombing Iraq in response would be like our invading Mexico after the Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor."

Great thing about Roosevelt: he had a brain...and a map.

Shootin' the breeze with Santa. Try this---it's an instant messaging system wired to the North Pole, and you get a personalized reply from Kringle himself. Ha! On mine he totally misspelled 'restraining order.'

"Former secretary of State Colin Powell said Wednesday that it is time to face reality and recognize Iraq is in a state of civil war. Powell made the statement after growing what are known as ‘retirement balls.’" --Amy Poehler

"President Bush met with the Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki. Afterwards President Bush said 'Maliki is the right man for the job.' Just to remind you, President Bush also said FEMA's Michael Brown was the right man for the job. Donald Rumsfeld [was the] right man for the job. Tom DeLay was the right man for the job. Which would be OK...if Bush was the right man for the job." ---Jay Leno

"NBC has announced that they will now refer to the Iraq war as a civil war. President Bush said no, no, no, no, no, it's not a civil war until it becomes a series of Time-Life books." --David Letterman

"The White House announced today that it was banning the sale of iPods to North Korea. President Bush said, "If North Korea is going to make nuclear weapons then we won't let them listen to Coldplay." --Conan O'Brien

"A Trainer at Sea World Adventure Park was hospitalized Thursday in San Diego after a killer whale grabbed him and twice held him underwater during a show. On the bright side, the trainer did give up the location of three al Qaeda hideouts." --Seth Myers

Entering the civilized world. On this date (Dec. 6) in 1865---89 years after we officially became the land of the free---the13th Amendment was ratified, abolishing slavery. Did we mention that it was 89 years after we officially became the land of the free?

The beginning of the end of the beginning of the end. Amid much fanfare and maypole dancing, the Iraq Study group report debuts today at #1 on Billboard's Beltway Chatter chart. It's conclusion: No timelines but, for the sake of our troops, we must get our asses out by the '08 presidential primary season. Who paid for this, again?
From my favorite senator Feingold:

 

The fact is this commission was composed apparently entirely of people who did not have the judgment to oppose this Iraq war in the first place, and did not have the judgment to realize it was not a wise move in the fight against terrorism. So that's who is doing this report. Then I looked at the list of who testified before them. There is virtually no one who opposed the war in the first place. Virtually no one who has been really calling for a different strategy that goes for a global approach to the war on terrorism. So this is really a Washington inside job and it shows not in the description of what's happened - that's fairly accurate - but it shows in the recommendations. It's been called a classic Washington compromise that does not do the job of extricating us from Iraq in a way that we can deal with the issues in Southeast Asia, in Afghanistan, and in Somalia which are every bit as important as what is happening in Iraq. This report does not do the job and it's because it was not composed of a real representative group of Americans who believe what the American people showed in the election, which is that it's time for us to have a timetable to bring the troops out of Iraq.

Of course, Feingold is just posturing to the crazy liberals as he lines up support for his 2008 presidential bid. It's not like he actually believes this crap.

Headline punchlines. Flatulence On Plane Sparks Emergency Landing. We have nothing to add.
Whiners. House majority leader Steny Hoyer has made the outrageous decision to make the members of the 110th Congress actually work for a living, and oh how that makes Republicans seethe. I think I'll send 'em all a jar of hand lotion for the holidays---y'know, to soothe their future calluses.

Keith Olbermann had Russ Feingold on to give his assessment of the now very famous Iraq Study Group report. Video - WMV Video -QT Feingold said what I have felt all day. This report does not give us a clear path in Iraq and leaves the future of the war up in the air. Even worse is the fact that we have lost 10 more soldiers today and the administration needs more time to figure out what to do. Iraq sure doesn't need more time to slip into anarchy - it gets worse by the day. Silent Patriot: "The Senator drills home the point that the panel was composed primarily of politicians — not Mideast experts — and doesn't fully address the most important aspects of the overall War on Terror but instead views it through the "prism of Iraq" and "misses the point."

Worst sports analyst in the world. For some reason the Portland Press Herald publishes noxious conservative Cal Thomas's columns. Yesterday he made this stunning analogy:

Winning in Iraq...does not seem to be a priority for growing numbers of American politicians. They are like the crowd at a football game that sees the home team losing and heads for the exits before the game is over, only to miss the big comeback and victory.

Close, Cal. But more like a football game where our team is on the field playing by the rules against a dozen teams that don’t. The refs---those that haven't been shot---are hiding behind the concession counter, and every now and then someone in the crowd blows up and takes 50 people with him. But, gosh, those Budweiser frog ads sure are cute!

Feeling a draft? Iraq Study Group: if not enough federal employees volunteer to go to Iraq, force them to.
Bush not too happy with ISG report Hours after the release of the Iraq Study Group, President Bush and some of the most vocal Capitol Hill backers of the Iraq war gathered for what an insider described as a group therapy session. “The hawks who met with Bush included his pal Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), California Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA)…and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).” President Bush “may not be in much of a hurry to accept [ISG co-chairman Jim] Baker’s ideas about [Iraq] — or much else. Asked if Baker would help implement the report, a spokesman for Mr. Bush said, ‘Jim Baker can go back to his day job.‘” As the report was being released, 10 11 more troops were being blown up in Iraq. Thank God Bill Clinton was impeached for lying about a blowjob.
Stupid and late Prager seven years late in stopping the fall of the American republic. Muslim ambassador sworn in on Koran back in '99.
Republican presidential contender makes news, announces he doesn't hate Mexicans.
So, who needs to breathe? “The Bush administration is considering doing away with health standards that cut lead from gasoline, widely regarded as one of the nation’s biggest clean-air accomplishments,” the AP reports. “Battery makers, lead smelters, refiners all have lobbied the administration to do away with the Clean Air Act limits.”
Too many cooks in the kitchen. Oh, lovely: the military just counted over 100,000 civilian contractors in Iraq. Standing around picking their noses from the looks of things over there.
Cowardly conservatism Cowardly Conservatives don't care about running the government well. And they're too cowardly to kill programs they disagree with. So they just run them into the ground. For example, refusing to fix the VA so it can adequately serve returning Iraq vets.
Conservative character (or the lack thereof) Via Steve Benen, the Wall Street Journal reports on the continuing pettiness of the outgoing Republican Congress, which refuses to pass spending bills for a fiscal year that's already more than two months old. And it's all out of pique:

Like a retreating army, Republicans are tearing up railroad track and planting legislative land mines to make it harder for Democrats to govern when they take power in Congress next month.....With Congress turning off the lights this week, there seems no chance of saving the appropriations process. Instead, most of the government will remain on a stopgap bill through Feb. 15, and in kicking this can down the road, the Republican leadership has no idea where it will stop rolling. "It's a demonstration of the irresponsibility of Republicans that they would leave this country with this mess," said the next House speaker, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.). "But we won, we will deal with it."

It's astonishing that this hasn't gotten more attention. Do you remember all those stories that made the rounds after the 2000 election about outgoing Clinton officials trashing Air Force One and the White House before skipping town? There was nothing to it, of course: a few pranks here and there, but otherwise just the normal wear and tear typical of previous transitions, according the General Services Administration, which had (naturally) been called in to do a scorched-earth investigation. Finally, after weeks of anonymous leaks accusing the Clintonites of major vandalism, the director of the White House Office of Administration was forced to admit that he couldn't document any damage or repairs. But the stories! There were hundreds of them, all agog over the news that a few staffers had removed the W keys from their keyboards. So immature! So childish! But Republican legislators punting on half a trillion dollars worth of spending bills because they're "tired" and they want to gum up the works for the incoming Democrats? It's barely worth a yawn. Some priorities, eh?

More cowardly conservatives Taegan Goddard reprints the following from the Evans-Novak Political Report:

Important Bush Administration officials are ready to leave the government rather than undergo two years of hell from Democratic committee chairmen in Congress. Leading the exodus are officials of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), fearing investigation by two chairmen, Representatives Henry Waxman (D-CA) and John Dingell (D-MI).

Golly. I wonder what they're so afraid of?

Recommended reading The Trials of Abu Ghraib: An Expert Witness Account of Shame & Honor

A harsh dose of reality. We're thrilled that Mary Cheney is pregnant and that she and Heather are going to be moms. Not so thrilled is the state of Virginia, where the baby will be raised. Says John at Americablog:

[Virginia's anti-gay] laws may vitiate any legal agreement between the two, period, about anything. The law ensures that Mary's partner has no legal rights whatsoever in their child, or in what happens to Mary (or vice versa), such as if one partner has to go the hospital, the other can't visit. The law may even nullify any wills that Mary and Heather write regarding each other, and it may make it impossible for gay people to go to court to resolve any difference about anything---the courts can't recognize gay unions, so they can't make any decisions that would imply recognition (custody, hospital visitation, wills, etc.) It's beyond ironic that Virginia's new law, one of the most hateful, bigoted laws on the books, is now targeting the vice president's own daughter and soon-to-be new grandchild.

See, it's easy to be gay in America. Just never break up, never buy anything together, never get sick, and never die. Paradise!

Keeping your feet on the ground. Howard Dean tells U.S. News & World Report that Dems can't be complacent in the wake our 2006 victory, and this line should be tattooed on all our foreheads: "Elections are not mandates. Elections are power being loaned to politicians for a two-year period by the voters of this country. Now it's our job to earn it back again in '08." Or you could just write it on a Post-It note.
Obama's beating me to the punch! Pastor Dan on Obama:

Obama is going to drive progressives up a wall because they'll be looking for him to take their side in the partisan dogfights, and he's practicing a ministry of reconciliation. Which doesn't mean that he doesn't agree with them on the issues: it just means that he defines leadership in a very different way. Unlike many in the netroots, Obama doesn't believe that liberals need to do the same thing, only better - ie, outwork the Republicans. He thinks that it's time for fundamentally new tactics and a fundamentally new strategy [...]

Changing the conversation is leadership for Obama. It changes the political situation - in a way that traditional partisans like the netroots might not grasp. People talk about Obama's limitless ambition coupled with his odd lack of apparent passion for controversial topics. It's all there, but the ambition isn't to build a stronger party and the passion isn't to craft legislation. It's to fundamentally change the way Americans talk to one another, and the way they go about solving problems.

Doh! Remember how the whole premise of Bush administration North Korea policy was that we shouldn't be offering 'pay-offs' to the North Koreans in exchange for them giving up their nuclear program? From yesterday's Times "The United States has offered a detailed package of economic and energy assistance in exchange for North Korea’s giving up nuclear weapons and technology, American officials said Tuesday." So after six long years of incompetence, arrogance, dithering and disaster, in which the president allowed the NKs to waltz into the nuclear club unimpeded, they're now back to the same policy they insisted on ditching in the first place. Only now with a hand infinitely weaker than it was in 2000 since back then the NKs didn't have the bomb.

The stupidity is killing me Republican Vern Buchanan on Hannity & Colmes: Christine Jennings is "destroying democracy" by contesting the election in Florida's 13th.

Corruption watch (big time!) FBI Focus Yields Spike in Corruption Cases "More than 1,000 federal, state and local government employees across the country have been convicted in government corruption cases over the past two years, including hundreds of crooked police officers and others who have dipped into the taxpayers' till, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said yesterday. The numbers underscore the extent to which public corruption has become a primary, if little-noticed, focus of FBI criminal investigators, taking its place alongside preventing terrorism as one the bureau's fundamental missions. All told, public-corruption investigations have surged by 30 percent in the past four years, to more than 2,000, officials said. The FBI now dedicates more than 600 agents and 15 percent of its criminal investigative resources to government graft." (WaPo)

Before we go too far Ivo Daalder on the big fat asterisk in the Iraq Study Group report.

I'm shocked, shocked, I tell you ... From Jonathan Landay at McClatchy :

The Bush administration routinely has underreported the level of violence in Iraq in order to disguise its policy failings, the Iraq Study Group report said Wednesday. ...On page 94 of its report, the Iraq Study Group found that there had been "significant under-reporting of the violence in Iraq." The reason, the group said, was because the tracking system was designed in a way that minimized the deaths of Iraqis.

"The standard for recording attacks acts a filter to keep events out of reports and databases," the report said. "A murder of an Iraqi is not necessarily counted as an attack. If we cannot determine the source of a sectarian attack, that assault does not make it into the database. A roadside bomb or a rocket or mortar attack that doesn't hurt U.S. personnel doesn't count."

How much time do we put into determining the 'sectarian source' behind the death of every individual Iraqi?

The push-back begins Lawmakers May Reconsider Suspending Habeas Corpus for Detainees "The top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee signaled this week that he'll join prominent Democrats in seeking to restore legal rights to hundreds of suspected terrorists confined at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and elsewhere. While the measure to restore the right of habeas corpus has almost no chance of passing before Congress adjourns later this week, the message is clear: When Democrats take over in early January, the issue could resurface. The Military Commissions Act of 2006, which Bush signed into law in October, prevents detainees who aren't U.S. citizens from challenging their detentions in civilian courts. But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter [R-PA] who voted for the legislation despite his opposition to stripping such rights from detainees, on Tuesday reintroduced legislation to restore those rights. A similar measure sponsored by Specter failed by three votes in October. In a speech on the Senate floor, Specter said he was reintroducing the issue to prevent federal courts from striking down the legislation, which some of the detainees' attorneys have challenged." (McClatchy Newspapers)

PCDD (Post Combat Dumping-on-the-troops Disorder). Paul Rieckhoff reports on an NPR investigation that shows the military is not living up to the sentiments of our "Support the Troops" car magnets:

1 in 5 Iraq vets are coming home with a serious mental health problem like anxiety, depression, or PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Experts believe that over time, the number will reach almost 1 in 3. How has the military responded to these wounded warriors? A new investigation by National Public Radio looked at troops diagnosed with mental health disorders, and concluded that "officers at Ft. Carson punish soldiers who need help, and even kick them out of the Army."

They chew 'em up---they spit 'em out. Heartless goons.

What's the matter with us? Here's some cheerful news:

Worldwide spam volumes have doubled from last year, according to Ironport, a spam filtering firm, and unsolicited junk mail now accounts for more than 9 of every 10 e-mail messages sent over the Internet. Much of that flood is made up of a nettlesome new breed of junk e-mail called image spam, in which the words of the advertisement are part of a picture, often fooling traditional spam detectors that look for telltale phrases. Image spam increased fourfold from last year and now represents 25 to 45 percent of all junk e-mail, depending on the day, Ironport says.

The internet is arguably the apex of human technological development, the most complex and paradigm-changing invention so far in the history of homo sapiens. And what do we mostly use it for? Porn, Justin Timberlake downloads, and penny stock scams. Makes you proud, doesn't it?

For a good time... Go to the following: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3UDCoQnXjA Great video with Dean Martin and Foster Brooks

Cashing in on crime and corruption The Washington Post reports that, “just as the Hill is staffing up…to investigate administration officials,” former Justice Department spokespersons Mark Corallo and Barbara Comstock are forming a law/PR firm — Corallo Comstock — to help defend Bush administration aides. Roll Call has more details:

Corallo and Comstock are forming the crisis management firm Corallo Comstock, Inc. They aim to open shop on Jan. 1, just before the new Democratic chairmen will start banging their gavels and demanding information from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. “Just in time for subpoena season,” Corallo told HOH. … Together, they’ll be doing crisis management, communications strategy, strategic consulting, government relations and basically helping GOP folk who are up a creek without a paddle.

Corallo and Comstock have represented prominent scandal-stricken conservatives in recent years. Corallo, who has criticized Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for a “reckless abuse of power,” was Karl Rove’s spokesman during the Valerie Plame investigation. Comstock worked for Scooter Libby in the Plame affair. She has also represented indicted former Congressman Tom DeLay (R-TX) and Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA), who is under federal investigation.

Your so-called liberal media NYT reporter Anne Kornblut: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) “is nothing if not an independent-minded maverick.“ You're right, Anne, he's nothing.

Screwing sick people for fun and profit! On Monday, approximately 800 Las Vegas nurses were locked out of their hospitals after trying to negotiate for increased staffing and improved patient care. They had been intimidated by union-busters, suspended for supporting unions, and working without a contract since June. United Health Services (UHS), the association in charge of the two hospitals, yesterday agreed to let the nurses return to work on Saturday and begin negotiations, but the work to ensure quality care is far from over. An August study ranked the Nevada last “among the 50 states in the number of registered nurses per 100,000 residents. The study found that Nevada had 514 registered nurses per 100,000 residents in 2000, well below the national average of 780 nurses per 100,000.”

Increased staff at hospitals — what the nurses in Nevada are fighting for — has a direct impact on improving patient care:

– “6,700 patient deaths and 4 million days of hospital care could be avoided each year by increasing staff of registered nurses.”

– Lowering a nurse’s workload by one patient decreases the mortality rate by 7 percent.

– “85 percent of nurses work longer on a daily basis than their scheduled hours. Recent research has documented a substantial increase in the rate of errors associated with nurses working more than twelve consecutive hours, and close to half of hospital staff nurses commonly work longer than twelve hours.”

– Nurses who are union members generally make 13 percent more than non-union nurses.

Nursing shortages are, in large part, a result of inadequate wages. Nurses who are union members generally make 13 percent more than non-union nurses. Therefore, by discouraging the nurses to join SEIU and refusing to negotiate with the union, UHS has been blocking better care for patients. Taylor Marsh has more. Sign the petition to improve nursing staffing standards and patient care.

Where'd our redneck bards go? Hey, where's those patriotic or, more accurately, jingoistic, 'America is invincible, always right and graced by God' songs nowadays? It sure seems they disappeared not too long after the 'schock and awe' prime time show had its run. You know, the events viewed as just another gather-the-family-around-the-television benevolent fireworks shows. So, come on Toby Keith, can we get a sequel to "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue"? Do you have a rewrite in you for:

"...Justice will be served
And the battle will rage
This big dog will fight
When you rattle his cage
And you'll be sorry that you messed with
The U.S. of A.
'Cause we'll put a boot in your ass
It's the American way..."

Or how about Lee Greenwood and his puerile pap like "God Bless The USA"?

"From the lakes of Minnesota
to the hills of Tennessee,
Across the plains of Texas
from sea to shining sea.
From Detroit down to Houston
and New York to L.A.,
well there's pride in every American heart
and it's time we stand and say:

that I'm proud to be an American
where at least I know I'm free,
And I won't forget the men who died
who gave that right to me,
And I gladly stand up next to you
and defend her still today,
'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land
God Bless the U.S.A"

I guessed I missed the news about Greenwood standing up, joining the military and shipping out to Iraq.

No I do not revel in the Iraq debacle. That would merely be imitating those who are being hoisted on their own visceral petard. I simply wish to present a clearer picture, an overall, balanced view. The United States and many of its citizens have done many wonderful things throughout the world but all has not been 'certified' by the imprimatur of God and certainly has not all been accomplished in conjunction with truth, justice, morality or divine guidance.

That is,unless good ol' God blessed the murder of Salvador Allende, the supporting of the fiends who raped and killed American nuns, the Central America invasions on behalf of the United Fruit Company, Operation Ajax in Iran installing the Shah, etc.

In fact, here's a litany, by no means exhaustive, of U.S. interventions abroad. Imagine if America had faced numerous invasions and financial plundering by foreign entities...

1856 -- First of five U.S. interventions in Panama to protect the Atlantic-Pacific railroad from Panamanian nationalists.

1898 -- The US declares war on Spain and invades Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines.

1903 -- The US invades Columbia, cresting a new state of Panama, backed by the US Navy.

1905 -- The US invades the Dominican Republic.

1905 -- U.S. troops land in Honduras for the first of 5 times in next 20 years.

1908 -- U.S. troops intervene in Panama for first of 4 times in next decade.

1909 -- President José Santos Zelaya of Nicaragua proposes that American mining and banana companies pay taxes; he also appropriated church lands and legalized divorce, done business with European firms, and executed two Americans for participating in a rebellion. He was forced to resign via U.S. pressure. The new president, Adolfo Díaz, was the former treasurer of an American mining company.

1911 -- The regime of Miguel Dávila in Honduras irks the State Department by being too friendly with Zelaya and by getting into debt with Britain. He is overthrown by former president Manuel Bonilla, aided by American banana tycoon Sam Zemurray and American mercenary Lee Christmas, who becomes commander-in-chief of the Honduran army.

1915 -- Having sent warships into Haitian harbors 20 times from 1860 to 1915, the US invades Haiti

1917 -- The US invades Cuba, and remains in occupation until 1922. The US also invades Costa Rica to secure American interests.

1920 -- The US invades Guatemala to overthrow its government.

1926 -- The US sends 25,000 Marines to invade Nicaragua (again), occupying it until 1933.

1931 -- The US invades Guatemala (again), to establish a servile government.

1961 -- CIA-backed coup overthrows elected Pres. J. M. Velasco Ibarra of Ecuador, because he has been too friendly with Cuba.

1963 -- CIA-backed coup overthrows elected social democrat Juan Bosch in the Dominican Republic.

1964 -- João Goulart of Brazil proposes agrarian reform, nationalization of oil. He's ousted by U.S.-supported military coup.

1970 -- Salvador Allende is elected in Chile. He suspends foreign loans and nationalizes foreign companies. For the phone system, Chile pays ITT the company's minimized valuation for tax purposes. The CIA provides covert financial support for Allende's opponents, both during and after his election.

1973 -- U.S.-supported military coup kills Allende and brings Augusto Pinochet to power. Pinochet imprisons over a 100,000 Chileans, terminates civil liberties, abolishes unions, extends the work week to 48 hours, and reverses Allende's land reforms.

Delightfully twisted minds. Today is Steven Wright's 51st birthday. Feast on the brain candy...

A lot of people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of widths.

Do you think that when they asked George Washington for ID that he just whipped out a quarter?

When I was a little kid we had a sand box. It was a quicksand box. I was an only child... eventually.

I bought my brother some gift-wrap for Christmas. I took it to the Gift Wrap department and told them to wrap it, but in a different print so he would know when to stop unwrapping.

I have a switch in my apartment that doesn't do anything. Every once in a while I turn it on and off. On and off. On and off. One day I got a call from a woman in France who said, "Cut it out!"

I went to a cafe that advertised breakfast anytime, so I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.

Go here and you can eat the whole bag. As long as you don't mind that your stomach hurts afterward.