Monday, September 29, 2008

News Flash! Either Sarah Palin is an out-and-out liar, or she cannot read.

BYLINE NOTE: Originally posted on Oct. 13. Something about Blogger is putting everything under Sept. 29th.

Well, I was wrong. I had hoped that I wasn’t going to post anymore about Sarah Palin, the Caribou Barbie of the wingnuts of the world. She really is an orange juice squeezer in the universe of intelligent discourse. After she’s done, all that’s left is sort of this fetid husk, devoid of everything that an orange is really about, that only slightly resembles the piece of fresh fruit it once was. Only bits of pulp and a few seeds are left. Everything meaningful about the orange has been sucked dry.

I think that analogy is worthy of a post, all by itself.

The report out of the Alaska legislature makes it very plain that Sarah Palin abused her power as governor. The following quote is from a piece by John Cole at Balloon Juice.

Despite the finding of a legislative report that she had broken the state’s ethics law in the scandal dubbed Troopergate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin said Saturday that the report actually cleared her of any “legal wrongdoing or unethical activity.”


The investigation said she violated Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act, which states, “… each public officer holds office as a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust.”

Palin said she’s happy the report affirmed her right to fire Monegan. But she said she still doesn’t think she abused her power like the report says she did. In fact, she said she considered herself vindicated.

In a brief conference call with press reported by the Anchorage Daily News, Palin said, “I’m very, very pleased to be cleared of any legal wrongdoing … any hint of any kind of unethical activity there. Very pleased to be cleared of any of that.”

And here is John’s reaction to this.

I don’t know how to react to this. I really just don’t. When someone is that willing to look at you and just flat out make shit up and reject facts, there really is nothing you can do without driving yourself insane.

I totally agree. I guess, with that kind of thought process, one could possibly come to the conclusion that the Earth, contrary to ALL immediately available evidence, is only 6000 years old and that George Bush is a great president. Facts no longer matter to these people, even facts that have JUST been published in just about every major newspaper in the country. To go around and say something that is 180 degrees opposite of what the report actually says is, to me, a symptom of something pathological. As I said in the title, she is either flat out delusion or that she has absolutely no qualms about telling lies that can be immediately proven incorrect. What kind of rational person does this? This is George Bush raised to yet another power. Or lowered, which may be the more apt description. And this is the person that a significant number of people in this country think is not only ready to be President, but that she is the best of the four candidates (Pres., and VP)!

I guess John Cole is correct. If someone tries to analyze this from a logical perspective, you’ll drive yourself crazy. There IS no answer that makes sense. And I find that very, very disturbing.

I would like to wake up now, because I’m not enjoying this dream at all.

This IS all a dream, right? I mean, all this crap cannot really be happening in the United States of America.

The Dow Jones had its worst week in history. Billions and billions of dollars of wealth (at least, on paper) have been wiped out. People are now worth about 20% less than they were ago a few weeks ago. The financial markets look to be really melting down, and it has turned into a worldwide epidemic. England has just frozen all assets belonging to Iceland, after that country took some pretty drastic action to save itself from bankruptcy, and England doesn’t like the fact that they may not get all their money in Icelandic institutions back. This is getting really scary, and a lot of very smart economists are very worried.

And what have we got going on in the race for the most important political office on the face of the planet? We have John McCain and his Caribou Barbie doll, Sarah Palin, essentially whipping their crowds into a frenzy, calling Barack Obama all sorts of names and trying to tar him with some very dubious associations. And their crowds, taking their cues from those two, are going Full Monty. Catcalls of “terrorist!” and “kill him!” are being shouted out at Republican rallies. It has gotten so bad that McCain now has tried to tamp down the outright hatred and fear of his supporters. He took the microphone away from one lady (who looked and spoke like she had about a sixth grade education) who said the Obama is “an Arab.” He said that Obama is a decent human being and a good America who he had very deep political differences with, and McCain’s supporters at this rally actually booed him! They were booing their own party’s presidential candidate for, I guess, not agreeing that Obama is a terrorist.

I saw one clip on MSNBC, either Countdown or the Rachel Maddow show, where someone with a cell phone camera were asking questions of people streaming into a Sarah Palin rally. Many people, not just one or two, flat out stated that Obama is a terrorist. Not a “terrorist sympathizer”, but a “terrorist.” It’s funny, but I had thought that to actually be a terrorist, you have to have blown up a building or a car, and actually tried to do physical damage to people and/or property. It appears to me that these nutcases have totally lost track of the meanings of words. Anyone they dislike enough, they can label as a terrorist. It used to be that they just called their enemies “liberals.” Granted, there was a lot of venom and hatred associated with that name, but I guess that is no longer good enough. No, they have to now call their enemies “terrorists.”

It appears to me that John McCain has totally lost control of his campaign. He doesn’t know what to do. He can’t win on any of the issues, and his attempt at character assassination has blown up (pun not intended, or maybe it was) in his face. It has gotten so bad that very conservative columnists like George Will and David Brooks have written extremely critical columns of how the McCain campaign is being run.

I believe that McCain was trying to show what an untrustworthy and untruthful person Obama is (good luck with that), but he didn’t count on the outright lunatics of his faithful taking that one step further. No mere character assassination is good enough for them. No, they have to actually think the candidate from a major political party of the United States of America is an actual terrorist. “Obama doesn’t respect the flag?” Pfft. Small potatoes. Let’s go for the gusto!

If this were really happening, of course, I might be pretty worried that some crackpot might get so wound up that he might just try to act on all this hatred that is being whipped up in the name of winning an election. I mean, it isn't like this country doesn't have a history of violence, especially toward black men. Right? And given what we are seeing out of the run-of-the-mill McCain supporters, I would imagine that there might be some nut out there who likes guns enough and dispises Democrats in general and Obama in particular to actually maybe try to take a pot shot at him. Like those three people arrested in Denver a couple of months ago, armed to the teeth, on a "mission" to take out Obama? I mean, in a sane world, politicians would be very careful before trying something like this.

This is on the same day, of course, that the investigative report from the Alaska state legislature came out that concludes that Sarah Palin abused the powers of her office. This is the same Sarah Palin that has been the main attack dog, accusing Obama of being untrustworthy. From HuffPo:

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Sarah Palin unlawfully abused her power as governor by trying to have her former brother-in-law fired as a state trooper, the chief investigator of an Alaska legislative panel concluded Friday. The politically charged inquiry imperiled her reputation as a reformer on John McCain's Republican ticket.

Investigator Stephen Branchflower, in a report to a bipartisan panel that looked into the matter, found Palin in violation of a state ethics law that prohibits public officials from using their office for personal gain.

The inquiry looked into her dismissal of Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan, who said he lost his job because he resisted pressure to fire a state trooper involved in a bitter divorce and custody battle with the governor's sister. Palin says Monegan was fired as part of a legitimate budget dispute.

Monegan's firing was lawful, the report found, but Palin let the family grudge influence her decision-making _ even if it was not the sole reason Monegan was dismissed.


The report notes a few instances in which Palin pressed the case against trooper Mike Wooten, but it was her husband, Todd, who led the charge. Todd Palin had extraordinary access to the governor's office and her closest advisers and he used that access to try to get Wooten fired.

Gov. Palin knowingly "permitted Todd to use the governor's office and the resources of the governor's office, including access to state employees, to continue to contact subordinate state employees in an effort to find some way to get Trooper Wooten fired," Branchflower's report reads.

I am wondering just what Todd Palin would find to keep himself busy if he became “The First Vice-Dud.” And people thought Jimmy Carter’s brother was an embarrassment.

So, I guess I have concluded that I have been dreaming. Reality just cannot be this weird. I really have to stop eating that cold pizza before I go to bed.

Unpleasant Dream photo from here.

You know, I am starting to get REALLY worried about this financial mess.

It’s beginning to look like one of those domino things you set up as a kid, where you push on the one at the end and it eventually causes every single domino set on its edge to tumble down. Oh, it was pretty while it was all in motion, but when it was all over, you were left with quite a mess that took a while to clean up.

If Paul Krugman is saying stuff like this, we all better hope that someone intelligent does something intelligent very soon.

The question now is whether these moves are too little, too late. I don't think so, but it will be very alarming if this weekend rolls by without a credible announcement of a new financial rescue plan, involving not just the United States but all the major players.

Why do we need international cooperation? Because we have a globalized financial system in which a crisis that began with a bubble in Florida condos and California McMansions has caused monetary catastrophe in Iceland. We're all in this together, and need a shared solution.

Why this weekend? Because there happen to be two big meetings taking place in Washington: a meeting of top financial officials from the major advanced nations on Friday, then the annual International Monetary Fund/World Bank meeting on Saturday and Sunday.

If these meetings end without at least an agreement in principle on a global rescue plan -- if everyone goes home with nothing more than vague assertions that they intend to stay on top of the situation -- a golden opportunity will have been missed, and the downward spiral could easily get even worse.

What should be done? The United States and Europe should just say "Yes, Prime Minister." The British plan isn't perfect, but there's widespread agreement among economists that it offers by far the best available template for a broader rescue effort.

And the time to act is now. You may think that things can't get any worse -- but they can, and if nothing is done in the next few days, they will.

Taxi to the Dark Side.

I would like to make clear that this is not a movie review. I sometimes do movie reviews at this website, and this isn’t one of them. This is about the content of Taxi to the Dark Side, and what it says about us as a nation, our ideals, our morals, our souls.

The wingers of this country are so calcified in their politics and views of the world that this movie, if they were forced to watch it, would probably be viewed with the same scorn and distain as something from Michael Moore. But for those Americans who are still sentient beings, this documentary is something that should make you sick to your stomach.

I won’t go into the details of the film. Take a look at the IMDB entry here, if you want to know what the film is about. Let’s just say it lays out how the United States of America, that beacon of freedom for the entire world, has come to view torturing people, many of them who are not guilty of anything other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time and of having a different skin tone than ivory white, as not only acceptable but mandatory. This film lays out in great deal how the U.S. ended up torturing and ultimately killing an innocent taxi driver. That is how his death certificate was signed by the U.S. military. “Homicide.” That’s what his death certificate says. And this unfortunate person is only one of over 100 people who have died while in the custody of the U.S. military.

As I said, I sat there through the entire film with a white-hot knot in my stomach. Anguish, anger, depression, you name it. It was all there. I was not sure what I was feeling when listening to the actual prison guards (M.P.’s, they were called) in describing how they treated prisoners in general and this guy in particular. They felt like they were under orders to do this, and they didn’t want to be see as “going against their buddies.” I have taken enough psychology courses to know that human beings, when put in very crazy and stressful situations, can end up doing things that they would have never considered they would be capable of doing. Still, I felt little remorse for the fact that they received a dishonorable discharge from the military. But the overwhelming feeling that I came away with is that Dick Cheney is a monster. Absolutely. He was behind it all, and said as much on some interviews he gave to people like Tim Russert. John Yoo and Alberto Gonzales are shown to be slimy little toadies who would do anything their masters called for them to do, including fabricating nonsensical legal judgments that do nothing else than protect their masters from legal jeopardy. All of them should be subjected to exactly the same treatment they decided to perpetrate on others.

Make no mistake about this. The Bush administration has done incredible damage to the United States of America that will take decades to repair, if we even can repair that damage. Politicizing every single department of the government, including the Department of Justice, is just one of their transgressions that will almost certainly go unpunished. But legitimizing and “normalizing” torture under the guise of “protecting” our country has changed the fabric of what this nation is and has proudly stood for since 1776. We have voluntarily brought ourselves down to the same level of the worst third world dictators and Soviet-era police states. We have no moral credibility left with the rest of the world. We cannot even morally object if some other country picks up one of our citizens or soldiers and tortures them. On what rational basis could be possibly object?

I absolutely cannot understand how these people can go to sleep at night. Aside from the fact that it is a proven fact that people being tortured will tell their interrogator anything to get them to stop, including very, very incorrect information, torture is morally wrong. Any country who aspires to be called “civilized” should not condone it; much less actively pursue new ways to administer it. What the United States has been doing for the last eight years is repugnant and sickening.

Morons like Rush Limbaugh wonder aloud (while getting very well paid for it) why some citizens of this country “blame America first.” Jesus Christ. Open your f*ckin’ eyes once in a while, and maybe you would understand.

Photo from here.

May be I excused if I point out that the priorities of Corporate America are to keep rich people happy?

Here we have a wonderful example of how bereft of all morality, not to mention common sense, these a**holes that run major corporations are. It’s no wonder that most Americans, both Democrats AND Republicans, were so incensed by the bailout passed by Congress last week.

WASHINGTON - Days from becoming the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history, Lehman Brothers steered millions to departing executives even while pleading for a federal rescue, Congress was told Monday.


Waxman questioned Fuld on whether it was true he took home some $480 million in compensation since 2000, and asked: "Is that fair?"

Fuld took off his glasses, held them, and looked uncomfortable. He said his compensation was not quite that much.

"We had a compensation committee that spent a tremendous amount of time making sure that the interests of the executives and the employees were aligned with shareholders," he said. Fuld said he took home over $300 million in those years — some $60 million in cash compensation.

Waxman read excerpts from Lehman documents in which a recommendation that top management should forgo bonuses was apparently brushed aside. He also cited a Sept. 11 request to Lehman's compensation board that three executives leaving the company be given $20 million in "special payments."

"In other words, even as Mr. Fuld was pleading with Secretary Paulson for a federal rescue, Lehman continued to squander millions on executive compensation," Waxman said before Fuld appeared as a witness.


Waxman quoted Fuld as saying in one document, "Don't worry" to the suggestion that executives go without bonuses.

That suggestion came from Lehman's money management subsidiary, Neuberger Berman. Waxman quoted George H. Walker, President Bush's cousin and a Lehman executive who oversaw some Neuberger Berman employees, as responding with a dismissive tone to the idea of going without bonuses.

"Sorry team," he wrote to the executive committee, according to Waxman. "I'm not sure what's in the water at 605 Third Avenue today.... I'm embarrassed and I apologize."

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said: "I wonder how he sleeps at night."

This guy was “embarrassed” by even the suggestion that executives should forgo bonuses. How uncouth for anyone to actually suggest such a thing!

I am still stunned by all this. It’s one thing to say “Oh, yeah. All these businessmen are crooks and are only out to line their own pockets.” Standard stuff. But to be continually hit in the face with it, well, it becomes much more the Truth than just a truism.

How do they sleep at night, indeed.

And, just in case people aren’t paying attention, this financial crisis is spreading to Europe. Iceland, as an entire country, appears to be on the brink of disaster.

For a change, here's a post about sports.

Specifically, I was pondering the meaning of the presence of so many ex-Seattle Mariners on all the post season teams, and the fact that the Mariners finished with the second to worst record in the majors and one of the worst in club history. Letsee. There's Mike Cameron for the Brewers. There's Jamie Moyer for Philadelphia. Ken Griffey of the White Sox. Jason Veritek of Boston. Derek Lowe for the Dodgers who was an "up and comer" on the Mariners before being traded with Veritek in one of the all time WORST trades in history to Boston for a washed up closer. Even our best ever manager, Lou Pinella is guiding the Cubs. Tampa has Joey Cora as a bench coach. (Tell me, if Tampa Bay wins the World Series, will that be a sign of the coming Apocolypse?)

I don't know what it is about sports in Seattle. We have occasion flashes (such as the Seahawks in the Super Bowl, losing to the Steelers), but for the most part, the sports scene here is pretty grim. This year, it's beyond terrible. To recap:

- The Seattle Supersonics, the first major team to bring a national title to Seattle, got spirited away to Oklahoma, of all places, by a bunch of lying crooks. Rich, but crooks all the same. The Oklahoma City Thunder. Cripes. So, after being a major part of the NBA for decades, Seattle no longer has a team.

- The Mariners, as mentioned earlier, went through one of their worst seasons in history, losing more than 100 games for only the third time, I think. This in a season when people thought they actually had a chance to challenge the Angels.

- Washington Husky football is as lame as it has ever been. The defense has given up more points than most anyone in the country, and our star player, along with many of the best of the rest, are injured and out for quite some time. If they win a single game, it might be a major miracle. About the only consolation is that the Washington State Cougars look to be equally bad in the race to the bottom of the Pac 10.

- The Seahawks look to be very ordinary this year, which is pretty usual for the NFL. Still, after winning their division for a number of a years in a row, playing in the Super Bowl a few years back, coupled with the fact that this is Mike Holgren's last year as coach, sort of led us all to believe the team was better than it is turning out to be.

- Even the Seattle Storm of the WNBA was a major disappointment this year. After loading up on ex-all stars and MVP's, the Storm looked like a shoo-in to the finals. Then one of our star players, Lauren Jackson, went off to play for Australia in the Olympics. She decided to have ankle surgery right after the Olypmics were over and never came back to the team. Last year's MVP and the leading scorer on the team is not easily replaced. The team gave it a valiant effort, but once again got put out in the first round of the playoffs.

When you get down to it, investing a lot of emotional energy in sports is a losing proposition. It's just a meaningless diversion which becomes a lot more meaningless when there isn't any satisfaction to be had anywhere. Bread and circuses, without the circus.

UPDATE: O.K., getting waxed 44-6 by the Giants qualifies the Seahawks as something less than "average". That's more in the realm of "pretty dang poor", even if (just like the Huskies) they have had multiple injuries. That's just a reason. It doesn't change the result.

I sincerely hope that this is my last post about Sarah Palin.

I’m very tired of her and am upset about how yet another bright, shiny, distracting thing has, once again, become the focus of the campaign for president of the United States.

I know that everyone and his brother has been blogging about Palin, so I am not going to add much to the equation here. But this is what I wanted to point out about her, about how she apparently seems to think. She apparently thinks that rules, about most anything, are pretty arbitrary and don’t apply to her. There are the well discussed issues about her time in Alaska, her abuse of power in firing people who wouldn’t do what she wanted, her requesting and getting per diem payments (which are, as all government employees know, only supposed to be used when you are on travel) for her, her husband AND her kids, all while they were living at home. That amounted to several tens of thousands of dollars. Normal people would have been fired for that one.

Here are a couple of recent examples from her time on the McCain/Palin ticket. Here is a story from Huffpo, where Palin was on Fox News (which speaks for itself) complaining about Katie Couric.

Appearing on a friendlier news outlet, Gov. Sarah Palin said she was "annoyed" with the way Katie Couric handled their interview and complained that the CBS Evening News host failed to give her the opportunity to take a proverbial axe to Barack Obama.

In a portion of her sit-down with Fox News correspondent Carl Cameron, Palin claimed that Couric's questions -- which produced a series of staggeringly embarrassing responses -- put her in a lose-lose position.

"The Sarah Palin in those interviews was a little bit annoyed," she said. "It's like, man, no matter what you say, you are going to get clobbered. If you choose to answer a question, you are going to get clobbered on the answer. If you choose to try to pivot and go to another subject that you believe that Americans want to hear about, you get clobbered for that too."

Yes, it was all Couric’s fault, not giving her a chance to answer the questions that Palin wanted to. She felt that she should have some time to bash on Obama, and was annoyed that she felt she was put in a “lose-lose” situation for flubbing answers to really tough questions, like “What newspapers do you read?” Palin was annoyed at Couric, who was doing her job as a member of the press!

This belief that the press is something to be used or ignored at will came out again in the recently concluded Vice Presidential debate. She said up front that she would probably not answer all the questions the moderator asked, or she wouldn’t answer them in the way that they wanted her to answer them. Excuse me, but isn’t that sort of the purpose of a debate? You get asked questions, and then you answer them. You aren't supposed to get to make up your own rules. But then, that is how Republicans are seeing the world these days. They do feel they get to make up their own rules as they go. It’s as if you are on a basketball team and you tell the referees that you are no longer going to honor the rules about having to dribble the ball while running. Sarah Palin has decreed that she can just pick the ball up and run wherever she likes, and the ref can’t call traveling on her, because those are the new Sarah Palin rules.

This would be a very dangerous person to have even as a Vice President, who (up until the time of Dick Cheney) doesn’t normally have a lot of important duties. However, given McCain’s age, his four cancer surgeries and his very alarming, confused behavior he has been displaying on the campaign, Palin would be extraordinarily dangerous as President.

Just think about this. Women (and many men) have been longing for the time when the United States could have a female president. Several television shows and films have depicted such a time. And it is entirely possible that the first female president could end up being Sarah Palin, a person who seems more equipped to play someone’s ditzy neighbor on a 70’s sitcom than to be in any position of power, much less the most powerful position on the planet.

It may be very apropos that election day and Halloween are so close together.

Sarah Palin's debate flowchart.

From Americablog.

Offered without comment, prior to the Veep debate tonight.

Picture from Jesus General.

Let’s all welcome Kathleen Parker to 21st Century America!

The America that wingnut blowhards like herself helped create, I might add. A few days ago, she wrote a column at Townhall (that bastion of free-thinking objectivity -- not) criticizing McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate. Parker was pretty harsh, actually, and called on Palin to step down for “the good of her Party and for the good of America.” She joined a growing chorus of conservative pundits, including George Will and David Frum, criticizing Palin and essentially calling her out as what she really is; an embarrassment.

Well, as Gomer Pyle would say, “Surprise, surprise, surprise!” Guess what happened next? She actually got hate mail! Imagine that! And here (via Mahablog) is her reaction to her newfound unpopularity among the rabid right-wing mouth breathers of America.

WASHINGTON -- Allow me to introduce myself. I am a traitor and an idiot. Also, my mother should have aborted me and left me in a dumpster, but since she didn't, I should "off" myself.

Those are just a few nuggets randomly selected from thousands of e-mails written in response to my column suggesting that Sarah Palin is out of her league and should step down.

Who says public discourse hasn't deteriorated?

The fierce reaction to my column has been both bracing and enlightening. After 20 years of column writing, I'm familiar with angry mail. But the past few days have produced responses of a different order. Not just angry, but vicious and threatening.

Some of my usual readers feel betrayed because I previously have written favorably of Palin. By changing my mind and saying so, I am viewed as a traitor to the Republican Party -- not a "true" conservative.

-- snip –

That we have become a partisan nation is no secret. This week has provided a vivid example of where rabid partisanship leads with the failure of Congress to pass a bailout bill vitally needed to keep our economy from unraveling. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave a partisan speech, blaming the credit crisis on the Bush administration (omitting the Clinton administration's role in launching the subprime lending debacle). Republicans responded by voting against the bill.

Everyone's to blame, by the way.

Such extreme partisanship has a crippling effect on government, which may be desirable at times, but not now. More important in the long term is the less tangible effect of stifling free speech. My mail paints an ugly picture and a bleak future if we do not soon correct ourselves.

Uh, huh. That’s pretty rich, coming from one who has helped create the entire climate in America where it is perfectly acceptable to worship hatred of your enemies. And by “enemies”, I don’t mean terrorists or Muslims, although they certainly are on their list. No, their arch-enemies are anyone who happens to hold a different opinion than they do. Anyone expressing an opinion that is not absolutely in line with what they already believe is a marked person. An infidel. Unclean. Unfit to live in modern society. That is what people like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michelle Malkin, Michael Savage, and yes, Kathleen Parker, along with countless others have been promoting for all these years that have gotten paid obscene amounts of money to encourage hatred of their fellow Americans who just happen to have a different point of view than they do.

But now, because the venom of the right wing anger squadron has been turned upon her, Kathleen Parker now is seeing the danger. “An ugly picture and a bleak future.” Yep, pretty much. Although I would tend to disagree a bit. It isn’t the future. It’s the present. It’s already here, and yes, it is bleak and it is ugly.

I felt like putting in a comment to her column, explaining a few things to her. But I didn’t bother. First off, I am sure a lot of other people have beaten me to that particular punch. Secondly, I am sure every point I would have made would have either been just ignored or would have sailed right over her head. She wouldn’t have understood. Words like “double-standard” and “hypocrisy” are no longer in the wingers lexicon. So, I didn’t bother. I would have been somewhat akin to trying to teach algebra to an elm tree. But I’ll just leave this little rant of mine with this.

What in God’s name did you people expect would happen?

More unusual art: Handpainting. (No, really. Hand painting.) Part 4

As always with these types of photos, I would provide a link to the original source and tell something about the artist, if I had anything to provide. Once again, I do not. I really wish I did, as the person who took the time to paint these astounding images on something so temporary as his own hands deserves all sorts of attention. If anyone can provide any information on the source of these photos, I will most certainly post it here. If these images can be shown to be under copyright, I will remove them.

More unusual art: Handpainting. (No, really. Hand painting.) Part 3

More unusual art: Handpainting. (No, really. Hand painting.) Part 2

More unusual art: Handpainting. (No, really. Hand painting.) Part 1

These last couple of weeks have been just too weird to even contemplate.

I just can't get my head around any of this. But watching John Boehner blame Nancy Pelosi for the defection of 2/3 of the Republicans of the House, on a bill which he, President Bush AND John McCain were all supporting, is just too weird. After all these years of Republicans essentially calling Democrats every insult under the sun, including "traitors" and "wanting the terrorists to win", Republicans get all bent out of shape when the Speaker of the House refers to the excesses of the Bush presidency that allowed all this to happen? Every Republican really WANTED to vote for this bill, of course, because our financial institutions would "melt down" if it didn't pass, but they just couldn't vote for it because Nancy Pelosi insulted them. Republicans would rather see this melt down than to take an insult (which I found to be not all that insulting) and turn the other cheek, you know, FOR THE GOOD OF THE COUNTRY.

I don't normally use swear words on this blog, but all I can come up with at this point is, you have GOT to be shittin' me! Je-sus.

UPDATE: This is why I don’t blog about daily events. Things just change too quickly for this blog to look like it is keeping up with current events. However, here is what happened YESTERDAY. I am sure there will be something new today.

The insincerity and dishonesty of the Republicans in this country are breathtaking. Go read this story at Americablog. Here is a little bit to show you what I am talking about.

We now find out that the Republican party cut ads, and sent them to TV stations around the country, opposing the bailout bill even BEFORE Pelosi spoke before the vote yesterday. The Republican National Committee, the official "party," was planning on the bill passing, and then was going to attack Democrats who voted FOR the bill. Talk about calloused

That’s great. Republicans were hoping that the bill would pass, and then they would try to score more political points against Democrats as being the ones who were “giving away taxpayer money” to fatcats on Wall Street. They even went so far as to make the attack ads before the vote was taken. Yet, there were John McCain’s surrogates, out on all the morning talk shows, actually taking CREDIT for getting all the Republicans in line to vote for the bailout bill, thus showing how presidential he was in saving this country from a financial calamity. And boy, did they end up looking like the asses they are by taking credit for something that never happened. Sort of like a sports star taking credit for winning the big game when, in fact, three hours later, his team LOST the big game.

And, it turns out, several Republican congresspersons came out and publically stated that Pelosi's speech had absolutely nothing to do with the way they voted and that was an insult and a lie to say something like that.

Jeez, these people are so dishonest. I think bashing Democrats and attempting to blame them for every single thing has become so ingrained in the Republican Party that it is now part of their DNA. They absolutely cannot do anything without first blaming the Democrats. McCain tries to blame Obama for playing politics with this crisis, and look at what he has been doing the last few weeks. However, it is very interesting to see the entire Republican party crumbling before our very eyes. It couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Photo from President Bush's press conference last week

So, whatever happened to Sarah Palin?

I haven’t seen much of her in the news of late. Of course, I suppose that is to be expected, given the “mushroom cloud” hanging over our economy, the careening, out of control McCain campaign and then the presidential debate. She’s sort of been pushed out of the news cycle. I imagine she will be right back in, however, with the vice-presidential debate coming up. I am still sort of wondering if she is actually going to show up, or if they aren’t going to try to find a way to get her out of it. I am also wondering how hard Biden is going to be hitting her. There’s probably this Democratic “nice-guy” ethos that is still there. Can’t be seen being harsh with a lady, now can we? Especially a purty one.

But this isn’t really what I was thinking about this morning. I was more contemplating the psychotic nature of our news media. We lurch from subject to subject, in search of the next “high”. And it has to be bigger and better than the last high. That might not be so bad, except fo the fact that the last big story gets completely forgotten (e.g., Sarah Palin this week) when the next one comes up. Watching our press coverage is like watching a pack of frenetic chipmunks on a collective sugar high, bouncing off the walls, trying to keep up with each other.

We really have no public discourse these days, other than perhaps a few places like NPR or the News Hour on PBS. There doesn’t seem to be any measured, calm investigation of news stories, and there certainly isn’t much of a follow up. Of course, everyone really knows this already. I am hardly making earth-shattering observations here. But I can’t help but wonder where this is all going. If we cannot have seen the present situation from maybe 25 years ago, we certainly cannot tell where we might be in another 25 years. And that scares me.

How our press covers the news does no one any service, in my mind, except for their Lords and Masters that demand a high rate of return on their investments. News departments are seen as being no different than any other business, like Disneyland, a fast food chain or a manufacturer of airplane parts. There really isn’t much of a concern for keeping the public informed. In fact, in many cases, I firmly believe that exactly the opposite is desired by the mega-corporations that own the news departments. I’ve written about this several times, such as here, here, here and here. Who knows what this all might look like in 25 years? We can speculate, but no one really has the slightest clue as to where this might end up. But I have a big-time suspicion that it isn’t going to be anything that has to do with keeping the public informed of what is really going on.

UPDATE: Good link here! Sometimes reporters and columnists (in this case, Frank Rich of the NYT) are paying attention and reporting on the truth.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Republicans don’t want to call themselves Republicans on the ballot, and the Democrats sue to make Republicans call themselves Republicans.

Just when I thought the political season couldn’t get any stranger, I see this. You can click here to see the whole story in the Seattle Times. But here are what I see as the primary points.

- Dino Rossi, the Republican candidate for governor in the state of Washington, has his party affiliation listed as “GOP Party” on the ballot instead of “Republican”.

- State Democrats are suing Rossi, in order to make him put “Republican” after his name on the ballot instead of “GOP Party”.

- State Republicans, while calling the lawsuit “frivolous”, say they will step in and help Rossi in his efforts to not identify himself as a Republican.

Aw, you GOT to be pulling my leg, right? This cannot POSSIBLY be true.

UPDATE: "GOP Party"? As in, Grand Old Party... Party? This HAS to be a joke.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Eye catching headlines, Sunday, September 21, 2008

Here are some more interesting headlines. Amazing how quickly you can get caught up on the news if you don’t take the time to actually read the stories.

Foreign banks could qualify for U.S. mortgage bailout. Sure, why not! That sounds like a great idea. Then we could go help Scotland get rid of that stupid monster-like thing in Loch Ness.

Arkansas evangelist compound raided in child porn case. After all, it’s their solemn duty to tell everyone else how to live. It's not like their edicts about morality and family values apply to them, right?

Scandal-plagued Israeli PM tells cabinet he will resign. My, what a quaint concept. Resigning just because you violated the public trust? What a maroon.

Elizabeth Hurley takes on pig breeding. Um, that could mean about any one of three things. But it is an amusing headline to contemplate.

Rail engineer in fatal L.A. crash kept to himself. Why is it that, if anyone, anywhere, has done anything wrong, one of the first things they say about him (or her, but usually him) is, “He kept to himself. He was a loner.” Like being an anti-social introvert is always a causal effect to whatever bad thing happened?

New dwarf planet named Haumea for Hawaiian goddess. What, we have run out of Greek and Roman gods already?

Don't worry, I'm sure we can get a bailout from the U.S. government.

"I'm sure glad there aren't regulations about making us use helium instead of hydrogen. That would cut into our profits!"

Saturday, September 20, 2008

One trillion dollars is sort of a big number.

That’s what the U.S. government (meaning you and I, unless you happen not to live in the U.S., of course) is going to be spending to essentially buy control of the U.S. financial instititions. Biggest bailout since the Great Depression, I read somewhere this morning. We are told it is necessary in order to halt a complete meltdown that could possibly spread to the world’s financial instititions.

And I am still to understand that all government regulation is bad, even evil perhaps, and if the government would just let the markets run themselves, everything will be fine?

You know, I haven’t heard much about privitizing Social Security lately. I wonder why that is?

Dammit, I am pissed off at this country. Jesus. Republicans essentially run this country, and it is more than obvious that their main interests are in making the rules such that the wealth of this country is concentrated with a smaller and smaller percentage of the population. Yet, we have approximately 50% of the people in this country who think Republicans are the only ones to be trusted and Democrats are evil. “God, guns and gays” are those people’s primary concerns, and yet they are getting the rug yanked out from under their feet by the very people they keep voting into office! And yet, they don’t want to vote for a Democrat for president because Obama might be a Muslum or maybe he "doesn't respect the flag."

What a stupid frickin’ country.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Tell me, how in the hell can these people get away with this?

From the AP via the Seattle PI.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's husband has refused to testify in the investigation of his wife's alleged abuse of power, and a key lawmaker said Thursday that uncooperative witnesses are effectively sidetracking the inquiry until after Election Day.

Todd Palin, who participates in state business in person or by e-mail, was among 13 people subpoenaed by the Alaska Legislature. McCain-Palin presidential campaign spokesman Ed O'Callaghan announced Thursday that Todd Palin would not appear, because he no longer believes the Legislature's investigation is legitimate.

Can we all start doing that? Can I contest a traffic ticket because I don’t think “it is legitimate?” God, these people piss me off!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tell me again why Republicans in this country get to make up their own rules as they go? I’m a bit fuzzy on that point.

Once again, Republicans in a government being investigated for something that looks to be rather shady activity are refusing to honor subpoenas. From AP, via the Seattle Times:

JUNEAU, Alaska —

Alaska's investigation into whether Gov. Sarah Palin abused her power, a potentially damaging distraction for John McCain's presidential campaign, ran into intensified resistance Tuesday when the attorney general said state employees would refuse to honor subpoenas in the case.

In a letter to state Sen. Hollis French, the Democrat overseeing the investigation, Republican Attorney General Talis Colberg asked that the subpoenas be withdrawn. He also said the employees would refuse to appear unless either the full state Senate or the entire Legislature votes to compel their testimony.

Uh, huh. Yes, I see. So now, I guess the “full Senate or the entire Legistlature” must vote to show that they really, REALLY mean it. Just an ordinary subpoena isn’t good enough anymore. So, just when did that happen again?

It’s breathtaking what Republicans are getting away with these days. If Democrats EVER did something like this, they would be crucified in the public media, and rightfully so. But for some reason, it’s not a big deal if Republicans do it. Harriet Miers and Karl Rove still haven’t shown up to honor their subpeaonas. How long has it been that they have been in open violation of the laws of this country? More than half a year, I believe.

If laws in this country are that arbitrary, such that anyone can just decide whether or not that particular law applies to them, we are in really big trouble. Of course, it isn’t like that at all. “Little people” must still follow the rules. Democrats must still follow the rules. Republicans in power, well, they have their own standards, I guess. Must really be nice.

This certainly knocks down that silly assertion on the part of the McCain campaign that they would be “agents of change”. Looks like the same old Karl Rove BS to me. “Mavericks?” Yeah, I suppose if you are talking about them really bucking the stale old notions of following the laws of this country.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The chickens of financial imprudence are coming home to roost with a vengeance.

I will be the first to admit that I am very unlearned in financial matters. I think that was one reason I went into engineering in college. I realized my financial knowledge, and interest, pretty much maxed out at balancing my own budget. Over my lifetime, I have actually been very good at that. I seem to have an inborn sense of what is and is not wise to do when it comes to money. But that is about the extent of my knowledge.

However, I don’t feel that is in any way a limiting factor when it comes to commenting on the insanity going on in Wall Street and the financial markets. Really, doesn’t having a blog really compel you to say something, in no uncertain terms, about a subject that you know next to nothing about? Everyone else does it. My only variation on this is that I am saying, up front, that I have absolutely no credentials on this very complex topic.

That said…, Jesus H. Christ!! The collapse of Bear Stearns, Lehman Bros., Merrill Lynch, along with the takeover by the federal government of Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac, all in the space of a couple of weeks, has the look and feel of a major meltdown of our financial institutions. (I completely forgot about Washington Mutual and AIG. Just too many to keep up with, which isn’t a good sign.) To the know-nothing outsider like me, it is mind-bending in the extreme. How can these major, major players resemble the Titanic after ramming an iceberg? This is not doing much to instill confidence in much of anything these days.

Here and here are a couple of nice posts from Americablog that do a good job in summarizing the “what?” and “what the heck?”

Here is a chilling quote from Part 1 of these two articles.

Let them fail or else they will drag us all under water with bad debt. Investor Wilbur Ross is saying that we could possibly see 1,000 banks in US fail as they did after the John McCain Keating Five/S&L crisis in the 1980s. The flashy banks and financial services companies all wanted the rugged free enterprise system for those with the least but CEO socialism for those at the top. Let them go under and let them live with the consequences, just as the rest of Americans who have been on the receiving end of the credit crisis.

1000 banks… Whew. This highlights one thing, among many, that I find completely baffling about this. Conservatives still insist that government regulation of industry, ANY industry, is a bad thing and everything will be just dandy if everyone would just leave business alone. These people are in deep, deep denial. There just seems to be a fundamental disconnect operating in the psyche of Corporate America. Regulation, and anything else that might impede on the ability of Corporate America to make as much money has possible, as fast as possible, is a bad thing. Yet, no matter how irresponsibly things are run, there are always reasons why it is not the business of government to try to put the brakes on. Yet, when these businesses finally DO get into deep trouble, then it immediately becomes the business of the federal government to go do something to prop them up or bail them out. Why is that? Yes, I know that lost jobs and lost assets could really cause some turmoil. But if government, by definition, can play no role in how these companies are being run, why does it become the role of the government to help them out when they finally blow it up? That makes no sense. Yet, that is how it is supposed to work in Universe Republican.

Here is a good windup, as supplied by Pandagon.

We’re supposed to believe the following about the economy, courtesy of the GOP:

1. Everything’s fine, except the things that aren’t.

2. Everything that’s fixable is fixable by tax cuts. And those things are massive problems that could destroy American society.

3. The other things that aren’t fixable are Bill Clinton’s fault.

UPDATE: Well, that didn't take very long, did it? The federal government now owns AIG, including all their bad debt. How is this different from socialism? Why is it just the most terrible thing to contemplate government run healthcare, but it is fine to have the federal government owning Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and now an insurance giant?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

It seems as if Sarah Palin is the only thing that matters in the presidential campaign.

It’s very bizarre, as I noted earlier. When has a vice-presidential candidate upstaged not only her opponents but also her presidential running mate? The fight on both sides now is concentrated on her. You can see what kind of impact she has made by looking at some blogs and seeing how much material is devoted to a discussion about Palin, in one form or another. Last week, at Huffington Post, at least half of the blog column entries for that day were about her. For whatever reason, she is now the central battlefront of this election.

I think that is what is really upsetting to most Democrats, liberals and progressives that are dedicated to electing Obama. Once again, the Republicans are making the election about an issue about people. I hesitate to call this a “personality issue”, since Palin could very easily be the president in very short order if the Republicans win in November. But the issues being discussed are not about terrorism, the dual wars that are draining our military and monetary budget, not about climate change, not about the crappy economy or our dependence upon foreign oil. It’s not about any of these pressing issues that this country faces. No, the Republicans have succeeded in making this about a person, yet again.

I am very depressed that, once again, this tactic is working for the Republicans. If there ever were an election the Democrats should have a cakewalk, this would seem to be it. Yet, there is a very real possibility that the Dems will lose. Many likely voters seem to be going for Princess Palin, she who shoots wolves from helicopters and lies through her teeth on just about everything. And it’s still working. The electorate has been polarized, and the election will come down do a few thousand votes in a few key states that will ultimately decide the electoral college count. For Democrats, Palin has become yet one more, albeit powerful, symbol of what is wrong with the Republican party these days. For Republicans, she has become the standard bearer of Republican beliefs. But what is even more important, I would guess, is that the presence of Sarah Palin on the Republican ticket pisses off Democrats and liberals, and THAT is what is really important to the Republicans these days.

George Bernard Shaw was truly correct when he said, “Democracy is a device that ensures that we shall be governed no better than we deserve.” If the Republicans win this election in the midst of all the chaos and wreckage they have caused this country over the past eight years, then we shall truly deserve what we get.

Friday, September 12, 2008

What a bizarre political world we live in.

I had thought that things couldn’t get much worse then under the Bush administration. I was wrong. It seems like the Bushies, even though they told and got away with some incredible whoppers, at least had the decency to come up with crap that, on the surface, sounded remotely plausible. The McCain campaign seems to have totally done away with that concept. It now doesn’t matter that many, or even most, people in the country are in total disbelief of the crap they are flinging. So long as they a) energize their base and b) sway some undecided and intellectual incurious voters, they feel they might just pull out a victory. It’s pretty damn obvious that the Republicans can’t run on their record of the past eight years.

The one bright spot in all of this is that the national media is now sitting up and taking notice. That’s a rather recent development, except of a few, shining examples. McClatchy newspapers seem to be very good at reporting on the real stories and not buying into the incredible amount of B.S. that has been thrown around. However, what is still not happening is that the media refuses to call all of this what it really is. Any other euphemism will work, so long as they don’t have to use the word “lie”. Look at the example below. It is from the AP, via the Seattle P-I. Note the language used: “factual holes”, “skirting of the facts” and “aggressive claims.” I like that last one. Could be true, could be false, we’re not making any rash judgments. They are just “aggressive”. Hah.

WASHINGTON -- John McCain's campaign keeps telling voters that Sarah Palin opposed a federally funded Bridge to Nowhere that, in fact, she originally supported.

It accuses Democrat Barack Obama of calling Palin a pig, which did not happen.

Even in a political culture accustomed to truth-stretching, McCain's skirting of facts has stood out this week.

It has infuriated and flustered Barack Obama's campaign, and campaign pros are watching to see how much voters disregard news reports noting factual holes in the claims.

McCain and his running mate, Palin, the Alaska governor, were defiant this week in the face of fact-checking news reports. Day after day, she said she had told Congress "no thanks" to the so-called Bridge to Nowhere, a rural Alaska project that was abandoned when critics challenged its costs and usefulness. For nearly a week, major news organizations had documented that Palin supported the bridge when running for governor in 2006, and she turned against it only after it became an embarrassment to the state and a symbol in Congress of out-of-control earmarking.

The McCain-Palin campaign made at least three other aggressive claims this week that omitted key details or made dubious assumptions to criticize Obama.

It equated lawmakers' requests for money for special projects with corruption, even though Palin has sought nearly $200 million in such "earmarks" this year.

It produced an Internet ad implying that Obama had called Palin a pig when he used a familiar phrase, which McCain also has used, about putting "lipstick on a pig" to try to make a bad situation look better.

McCain supporters said Obama was slyly alluding to Palin's description of herself as a pit bull in lipstick, but there was nothing in his remarks to support the claim. Obama accused the GOP campaign of "lies and phony outrage."

The lipstick wars were fully engaged when the McCain campaign produced another ad saying Obama favored "comprehensive sex education" for kindergartners.

The charge triggered the sort of headlines becoming increasingly common in major newspapers and wire services monitoring the factual content of political ads and speeches.

"Ad on Sex Education Distorts Obama Policy," was the headline on a New York Times article Thursday.

"McCain's 'Education' Spot is Dishonest, Deceptive," The Washington Post's "Fact Checker" article said.

Major news organizations have written such fact-checking articles for years. "But in the last two election cycles, the very notion that the facts matter seems to be under assault," said Michael Delli Carpini, an authority on political ads at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication.

"Candidates and their consultants seem to have learned that as long as you don't back down from your charges or claims, they will stick in the minds of voters regardless of their accuracy or at a minimum, what the truth is will remain murky, a matter of opinion rather than fact," he said.

With Palin giving McCain's campaign a boost in the polls, Obama supporters are nervously watching to see what impact the latest claims will have.

Surveys already show that most people believe Obama would raise their taxes -- a regular McCain claim -- even though independent groups such as the Tax Policy Center concluded that four out of five U.S. households would receive tax cuts under his proposals.

One person who IS calling it as he sees it is Paul Krugman of the NYTimes. Here is a bit of his latest column.

Dishonesty is nothing new in politics. I spent much of 2000 — my first year at The Times — trying to alert readers to the blatant dishonesty of the Bush campaign’s claims about taxes, spending and Social Security.

But I can’t think of any precedent, at least in America, for the blizzard of lies since the Republican convention. The Bush campaign’s lies in 2000 were artful — you needed some grasp of arithmetic to realize that you were being conned. This year, however, the McCain campaign keeps making assertions that anyone with an Internet connection can disprove in a minute, and repeating these assertions over and over again.


And now the team that hopes to form the next administration is running a campaign that makes Bush-Cheney 2000 look like something out of a civics class. What does that say about how that team would run the country?

What it says, I’d argue, is that the Obama campaign is wrong to suggest that a McCain-Palin administration would just be a continuation of Bush-Cheney. If the way John McCain and Sarah Palin are campaigning is any indication, it would be much, much worse.

That’s about how I feel about it myself. I never would have believed that we might end up with an administration worse than Bush 43. I’m beginning to think I am wrong. This could be an unmitigated disaster if McCain/Palin are elected. They aren’t even embarrassed or bother to change their stories when they are caught lying.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sarah Palin singlehandedly repaired Alaska's vital infrastructure!

She just needs to be very careful not to squish John McCain during their joint appearances.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Some newsworthy (and some not) headlines from Sunday, September 7, 2008

Here are just some things that caught my eye on early Sunday morning, while having my second and third cups of coffee.

Powerful Hurricane Ike looms as trouble for Gulf – Trouble for just about anyone in its path, I would say. After hardly any hurricanes last year, this year certainly is shaping up a lot differently. But, damn those hurricanes! Let’s go build LOTS more offshore oil drilling rigs! I am sure nothing bad will ever happen.

McCain – Palin becoming Palin – McCain? - Now, THIS is about the best question I have seen in the last few days. Very good question, indeed. I think the Republicans really need to be questioning the strength of their ticket if everyone, including many in the media, are getting so worked up about… a vice presidential candidate.

Greek postmen beat zombies to win oddest book title – Um, big deal. Yeah, those Greek postmen are tough, but who CAN’T beat up zombies?

Cassini detects partial rings with Saturn's moons – Ringed moons circling a ringed planet… How cool is that?

Lawmakers seek anthrax proof against Ivins – This is AFTER the guy has already been tried and convicted in the Court of Public Opinion, of course, courtesy of the FBI. Oh, and did I mention the guy is dead and can't defend himself? Or the fact that some of the rationale put forth by the FBI make absolutely no sense at all? But, I'm sure the guy is guilty. Why would the FBI lie about something like this?

Wilson sisters slam GOP's use of Heart's "Barracuda" – Heh. I guess McCain has come to believe that ALL music is in the public domain. See, that’s a joke, it’s a reference to McCain’s age… Never mind. Oh, wait. How about this one instead? The Wilson sisters don't "Heart" McCain. Yeah? Better? Right, I should have stopped the first time.

Man rubbed with spices, other beaten with sausage – I… Um… Well… Sure. Why not? (Go read the story, it’s even more weird than the headline.)

This may or may not become a weekly Sunday feature. It depends on how long I find it interesting and/or amusing.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

More police state tactics at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.

I was a bit hesitant to write about this at first. I have written a number of posts at this blog about how I see this country turning into a police state, right under our very noses, while we all chatter on about the evils of same-sex marriage or whether or not Barack Obama is actually the Anti-Christ. I feel I have said what I think about the subject, and anything more is just repeating myself. Plus, I don’t really like to think of myself as some sort of “Boy Who Cried Wolf”.

However, I have read a number of blog articles about the heavy handed police tactics, aided by the FBI, in St. Paul. Protesters were arrested, rather violently. Houses were descended upon by police in battle gear in what is being called “pre-emptive raids” to arrest potential protesters. Reporters with valid press creditials were arrested for just trying to report on what was going on. This account of the arrest of Democracy, Now’s Amy Goodman, from, is pretty chilling.

ST. PAUL -- Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar have all been released from police custody in St. Paul following their illegal arrest by Minneapolis Police on Monday afternoon.

All three were violently manhandled by law enforcement officers. Abdel Kouddous was slammed against a wall and the ground, leaving his arms scraped and bloodied. He sustained other injuries to his chest and back. Salazar's violent arrest by baton-wielding officers, during which she was slammed to the ground while yelling, "I'm Press! Press!," resulted in her nose bleeding, as well as causing facial pain. Goodman's arm was violently yanked by police as she was arrested.

Goodman was arrested while questioning police about the unlawful detention of Kouddous and Salazar who were arrested while they carried out their journalistic duties in covering street demonstrations at the Republican National Convention. Goodman's crime appears to have been defending her colleagues and the freedom of the press.

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher told Democracy Now! that Kouddous and Salazar were arrested on suspicion of rioting, a felony. While the three have been released, they all still face charges stemming from their unlawful arrest. Kouddous and Salazar face pending charges of suspicion of felony riot, while Goodman has been officially charged with obstruction of a legal process and interference with a "peace officer."

When you read Goodman’s description of what really transpired, it seems to me obvious that the police were either completely out of control, or had been ordered (most likely by the FBI or some higher state or national authority) to be extremely heavy handed. How can you throw an unarmed woman to the ground, to the point it draws blood, while the person is screaming that she is with the press? I rather doubt Nicole Salazar, producer, was really engaged in “felony rioting”. And the whole thing is on video, of course, available at Democracy, Now! There are many other stories from people who were first hand witnesses of what really went down. This was a widespread police action that was planned ahead of time.

Here is a bit more from Cliff Schecter, posting at FireDogLake.

“Hundreds of demonstrators” on the final night of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul. Approximately 250 people were arrested shortly before John McCain took to the stage to accept the presidential nomination. That's in addition to the 422 people who had already been arrested earlier in the week.

Riot police held approximate 300 people, including journalists and observers for nearly an hour on an overpass spanning Interstate 94. Police instructed the crowd to get on the bridge, then announced that everyone on the bridge was under arrest.

The Joint Information Center offered conflicting accounts about the status of the assembly permits for last night's gatherings. When I called at 4pm, a spokesman told me that the organizers of the March were slated to march from the capitol, through downtown, around the xCel Center and back to the capitol and that the protest was set to go until 7pm.

By 5pm, CNN was reporting that the cops on the ground were telling protesters that their permit had expired. According to some reports, Sheriff Bob Fletcher announced that he was rescinding permits at news conference late Thursday afternoon, but when I called to confirm, the Joint Information Center told me that no permits had been revoked.

Journalist Paul Demko was briefly arrested and flex cuffed on the bridge. By Thursday, the police had learned that it's bad PR to arrest journalists and protest observers along with demonstrators. Mind you, they still cuffed them, but they segregated them and let them go early.

According to one theory, the group on the bridge was a breakaway from a separate gathering, which was not permitted to march through downtown--hence the arrests on the bridge.

Police used tear gas, concussion grenades and pepper spray to control the crowd.
The RNC took out a $10 million insurance policy to pay off police brutality settlements. This is the first time party host committee agreed to take out such a policy. I wonder how high their deductible is.

How is it that police in this supposedly free country can break in to houses, even if they have warrants, on the expectation that someone may be involved in future protests? Arresting observers and reporters along with protesters? That is insane. And it is equally insane that the national media isn’t making a story of this. And the fact that the RNC took out an insurance policy to pay off police brutality settlements is a very weird thing. Either they knew something was probably going to happen ahead of time, or it gives a very disturbing statement about this country, in that police brutality is something which an organization can protect itself against, by taking out insurance!

“Pre-emptive raids?” You have got to be shi**ing me. The Stasi would be proud.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Some thoughts on all these McCain/Palin contoversies

I’m not going to bother covering all the backstories here, and there are a few of them, as anyone looking at a political blog already knows all about them. Pretty much every blogger out there has something to say, so I haven’t been feeling too pushed to add my two cents worth. But, since this IS a blog and blogs usually talk about something and there IS an expectation of updated material every now and then, I suppose this is as good a subject as any.

First off, there is a definite feeling of unreality to all of this. After 7 plus years of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and their intent on turning this country into a police state while redistributing the wealth of this country upwards, I didn’t think things could get any stranger. I figured that once we got into the presidential election cycle, things might start getting a little bit more predictable. But, I guess I was wrong. It just looks to be a continuation of the current insanity.

I just cannot believe:

- John McCain’s team had about seven months to vet their picks for VP, and they blew it. They were stymied about whom they did want and ended up with an unknown that McCain had met a total of one time before he offered her the job. And there is now more than ample evidence that absolutely no vetting was done of her. What did they expect was going to happen?

- When things did start going south and all these embarrassing revelations came gushing out, what is the strategy? That tried and true Republican method: blame the media! The same media that has held McCain in such high regard, they let him get away with multiple gaffs, lies, misstatements, and incredible nonsense. And when the press coverage gets a little too hot for St. McCain, he a) pulls out of a CNN interview with Larry King (that heavy handed interviewer) in protest and b) his campaign managers declares "This is the end!" of the Palin stories. Yeah, like the press stops and starts on orders like that. Just ask John Kerry or Al Gore how effective that is, telling the press that the controversy "is over".

- Any criticism of Palin is being tagged as sexist! By Republicans!!

- A 17-year-old daughter who is five months pregnant is now being held up as “True America”, not some elitist baby-killing abortionist thing. After years and years of hearing about family values, Murphy Brown’s out of wedlock kid on a national sitcom, an avalanche of criticism of unwed mothers and teenage pregnancy, etc., now all of a sudden the Republicans are trying to sell this as a virtue.

- The Republican elite keep saying these incredibly dumb things (e.g., Americans are a “bunch of whiners”, the ecomony is in great shape, Obama is somehow an out of touch elitist while McCain’s wife is worth perhaps as much as a billion dollars and he doesn’t even know how many houses they own) that just show how disconnected they are from the problems that are affecting us ordinary citizens. However, their approach seems to be to attack Obama and the Democrats for being “elitist”.

- Republicans are not mentioning the economy, or the war in Iraq (other than to say the Democrats want to lose). McCain’s campaign seems to be based on the attacking Obama and the Democrats.

- McCain had been beating up Obama on his lack of experience, and they he goes an nominates someone for Veep whose major accomplishments include a stint on the PTA and “commander in chief of the Alaska national guard”. And that last one isn’t even true!

But the big one, in my mind, is this:

- Republicans are running away from George Bush as fast as they can, knowing he is a millstone around their collective necks. They are advertising themselves as “the party of change”, without admitting that THEY have been the people in charge in the White House and both houses of Congress for most of the last eight years. They want to “rebrand” their image, but yet, they want to keep doing the same exact things they have been doing the last eight years!

To steal a bit of McCain’s speaking mannerisms, that, my friends, is insanity at its finest.

I hope that the Republicans, all the way down to City Water Manager, get their collective clocks cleaned in November.

(Photo from McClatchy)