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This is the archive for December 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Seems the Reuters item I linked to last week about bloody U.S.-involved attacks in the country of Yemen was even just a little bit more serious:


Nice way to show how deserving you were of that Nobel, Obama. Of course, cruise missiles have for years been a favored tool of Democrats needing to swing dick.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The U.S. House of Representatives quietly raised the national debt ceiling yesterday. And in Obamatime, war funding no longer is controversial: "The House on Wednesday passed a major bill that provides more than $100 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan...."

Update: No wonder they need a quick $100 billion, Afghanistan Escalation Ramps Up Contractor Presence. Curious how the fiscal responsibility of Republicans and Democrats when it comes to health or environment is no issue here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Accusation of savagery

Yemen rebels say air raid kills 120, accuse U.S.
Yemeni Shi'ite rebels accused the U.S. Air Force Tuesday of joining attacks against them, and killing at least 120 people in a raid in the north of the poor Arab state.

"The savage crime committed by the U.S. air force shows the real face of the United States," said the northern rebels, who often report attacks by the Yemeni and Saudi fighter planes, on their website. There was no immediate report of U.S. comment on the alleged incident.
Update: Broken link revised. In light of the drumbeat coverage of the Christmas Day NW Airlines underwear bomber, I think it's important to keep in mind the amount of killing the U.S. thinks it is entitled to do in Muslim countries.

Howard Dean comes to his senses.
HOWARD DEAN: You're going to be forced to buy health insurance from a company that?s going to take, on average, 27 percent of your money so they can pay CEOs $20 million a yearly and so they can return have return on equity in their shareholders. And there's no choice about that. If you don't get that insurance, you're going to get?you?re going to get a fine.

So, this is?this is a bill that was fundamentally written by staffers who are friendly to the insurance industry. Held up so?and was friendly to the insurance industry by senators who take a lot of money from the insurance industry. And it is not health care reform. I think it's too bad it's just come to this. ...

DEAN: No, absolutely not. You can?t vote for a bill like this in good conscience. It caused too much money. It isn?t health care reform. It's not even insurance reform.

Take, for example, this?there?s a lot of talk about people who have pre-existing conditions can get health insurance. Well, not exactly. The fine print in the Senate says about health care industry?the health care industry gets to charge you three times as much if you?re older than if you?re younger. And they get to write the rules. That?s in the Senate bill.

This bill is no longer reform.
Later in the same Countdown program, Howard Fineman offers this assessment of the worth of promises made during the Obama 2008 political campaign,
O'DONNELL: And, Howard, quickly, it would be a bill filled with things that were not in the Obama campaign, filled with taxes that were not mentioned in the Obama campaign, an individual mandate that President Obama campaigned against and other items.

So, how do you score the Obama campaign promise versus the way this bill looks at this point?

That's ancient history for all the Democrats now, Lawrence. They want a bill, almost any bill. If it has some of those core provisions in it, they'll gladly take it, if they can get it.
I'll be sure to quote that line to the next Democrat who makes a progressive campaign promise.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"War is sometimes necessary and war at some level is an expression of human folly." --President Obama

Today I forced myself to listen to the Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech President Obama gave in Oslo. I don't mind telling you that the entire incident of the award of this prize to Obama and his acceptance of it sickens me.

Frankly, I barely could listen to Obama deliver the speech. I found the contradictions profound and the allusions to King, well, cynical. The award of the Peace Prize to Obama is so embarrassing--especially in light of his Afghanistan escalation speech just one week ago--that he has nixed press availability and the usual pomp & circumstance.

Beyond that, I react viscerally to liberal hawk notions--finding the formulation of just war theory, in particular Obama's version, to be fraudulent. That's not to say I didn't find the line about "the blood of our citizens" to be enormously powerful, and the counterpoint "war itself is never glorious" to be deeply true. However the mere fact that Obama used the backdrop of the West Point cadets to deliver his escalation speech belies his willingness to use props of glory in a manner every bit as tawdry as the style of Bush.

For more excellent response, I recommend Counterpunch. THIS piece by Patrick Cockburn on "The March of Folly" calls it like it is, not the next Bushian grand chapter in the necessary sacrificial struggle against the spectre of total evil, but rather that
President Obama is sending 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan to prove that the US can impose its will on the country and crush by military means what is still a relatively small scale insurrection.
I'll also mention THIS by William Blum, "Yeswecanism," a quite thorough examination of the Obama war promises and subsequent American war conduct under Obama evidently overlooked by Obama supporters and the Nobel Committee alike.

In the speech, there was something Obama forgot to mention while invoking Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., who received the Prize in 1964--King completely rejected just war theory in his own Nobel acceptance:
KING: After contemplation, I conclude that this award which I receive on behalf of that movement is a profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time--the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression. ...

I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. I believe that even amid today's mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men. I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive good will proclaim the rule of the land. "And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid." I still believe that We Shall overcome!
So Obama rejected King. He accepted the cynical notion that the forces of inhumanity must be met with violent response. His argument rests on the inevitability of repeating the failures of the past that have spilled the blood of our citizens--plus the blood of untold numbers throughout the world at the hands of our citizens and our powerful bombs. He has embraced this human folly.

Below is "An Open Letter to the Nobel Committee On Obama's Peace Prize" signed by representatives from a variety of U.S. peace groups:
It's not like there is any need for more reasons to indict the UK "Dodgy Dossier" on Iraq. But unverified taxicab chit-chat seems to have been the major source for Tony Blair's creative writing exercise designed to whip up public fright during the fall of 2002 about being bombed with Iraqi weapons on 45-minute notice.

Related posts:

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Public option still dead
I guess nobody told Howard Dean

Now click the image for link to Countdown video. Gotta love the image of Olympia Snowe's nostrils "freaking out." Damn right I wish she'd just get benched.

The breaking story is that there is a Democratic "deal to drop a government-run insurance option." Maybe it's in exchange for a very limited Medicare expansion to people as young as 55, in other words people the insurance companies may not love anyway.

See below the posts last summer on the death of the public option, especially Public option died (somebody tell Howard Dean). Listen to how wrong he was about his Democrats back then. He should be asking, we all should be asking, Just who do these fucking Democrats work for? And why are they any better than Olympia Snowe?

Related posts:
Just pulled:

Danvers carrots pulled 12-8-2009
Danvers, best we've had in years

These are sweet & crunchy. It was an outstanding year for carrots. There are even a few left!
Winter is setting in

Back in the happy days of October, it was easy to tell my new employer sure, I'll take the job in Iowa, pack up, and drive a pickup truck 2,750 kilometers through the icy big hills of the Berkshires, the lake-effect snow corridor from Buffalo to Cleveland, and the prairie blizzards of I-90 west of Chicago. Yep, it was easy then to make a decision.

Now this thing is setting in. My Sweetie thinks I'm not at all nervous of even affected. Not true. I am nervous, worried, edgy, and fighting with an internal spectre of mortality. For Chrissakes, I'm going to be fifty-fucking-two pretty soon. Can I really do this and then settle in in time to teach everything from Earth Science to algebra and calculus-based physics, and a basic mechanical engineering course (Statics) that I'll have to cram pretty quickly to stay ahead of the students? I had a full year of electrical engineering at one point, so I suppose it's fair that I should pitch in where needed at a quite rural college. If not me, then who?

Is the spectre I'm trying to tamp down or at least deal with might be something like Robert M. Pirsig's Phaedrus from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance? For those who don't know, it's Pirsig's non-fiction account of travel, family, and engagement with the spooky internal unknown that lives within us in context of an academic career in the northwestern US and the experience of Quality through the mechanical perfection of a motorcycle. Albeit in my case it's my father-in-law's old pickup truck, not a motorcycle, family is wife not son, and career is science, not philosophy. Shoot, just go read it, or re-read it like I'm doing now.

Well, I'm not in the dark place Pirsig was working through in the book. I don't think, anyway. At least I haven't felt like I needed in-patient help with the looming pathway of time that lies ahead of us all. But there is a lesson. The lesson is we can go on, we can move, we can face our loved ones square-on with courage that our choices, decisions, good fortunes, and mistakes are handled the best that they can be.

Meanwhile, our friends are some of the greatest. Today, my old buddy Dave took some of the edge off the prep challenge, "Instead of blocks and planes, draw beams and walls. Nobody will know you didn't study mechanical engineering." LOL!!!! And another old friend in the Minneapolis area has offered bukoos furniture. Wow. This just feels so much better--so much easier to summon courage--with love like that. Thank you.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Norman Solomon: "'[E]ventually" is a long way off. In the meantime, the result of Washington's hollow politics is more carnage."

Rep. Dennis Kucinich: "The community I represent in Cleveland, Ohio, is suffering from massive unemployment, record home foreclosures, and small business failures. People are losing their jobs, their health care, their homes, their savings, their investments, and their retirement security. The middle class is gravely threatened. What is happening in Cleveland is occurring nationwide. Yet, Wall Street received over $13 trillion in bailouts, with untold millions for high salaries and bonuses, while Main Street loses its power through unemployment, reduced wages and benefits and little or no access to credit or investment capital. There is something fundamentally wrong with our economy which borrowing more money to spend on war cannot and will not cure. Perhaps nation building should begin at home.

An escalation of the war in Afghanistan at a time of such economic dislocation and hardship raises questions about America's priorities and whether or not we are losing our way as we attempt to stride aside the globe as some Colossus. Tomorrow we will begin anew the discussion."

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

We are sending 30,000 more troops so that we can pull our forces out of Afghanistan.