Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Quad Cities linked to Christmas Eve tragedy

We now find out that Bruce Pardo, the Southern California man who killed 9 members of his ex-wife's family and then shot himself on Christmas Eve, had an airline ticket and plans to come to the Quad Cities on Christmas Day. Well, if somehow he had come to see his options as having narrowed to either going to a place where the temperature was 0 degrees F with lots of snow and ice or killing a bunch of people and himself, I guess the tragic outcome was inevitable.

Do not allow Bush to slink quietly out of town

In his column in today's New York Times, Bob Herbert sums up the last 8 years.

When Mr. Bush officially takes his leave in three weeks (in reality, he checked out long ago), most Americans will be content to sigh good riddance. I disagree. I don’t think he should be allowed to slip quietly out of town. There should be a great hue and cry — a loud, collective angry howl, demonstrations with signs and bullhorns and fiery speeches — over the damage he’s done to this country.

This is the man who gave us the war in Iraq and Guantánamo and torture and rendition; who turned the Clinton economy and the budget surplus into fool’s gold; who dithered while New Orleans drowned; who trampled our civil liberties at home and ruined our reputation abroad; who let Dick Cheney run hog wild and thought Brownie was doing a heckuva job.

Read the entire article.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Where was all this media suspicion in 2003?

What in heavens name are all these "unanswered questions" and suspicions about possible Barack Obama involvement with the Blagojevich scandal that so many media types have been talking about? From the very beginning of public awareness of the alleged crime, when Patrick Fitzgerald announced the arrest of Govenor Blagojevich, he made it clear that there was nothing on the wiretaps suggesting that the President-elect was in any way complicit in the crime.

All the media suggestions that there might be some Obama involvement have been based on no facts whatever. Where was all this media suspicion when Bush and Cheney were making the case for invading Iraq in 2003?

Should Caroline Kennedy be appointed U.S. Senator

I have been so busy preparing for the holidays I have committed blogging malpractice -- I've had opinions and not blogged about them.

Concerning the possiblity of Caroline Kennedy being appointed U.S. Senator from New York: That would make it look like you needed to be the wife or child of a former president in order to be a U.S. Senator from New York. Would that mean that in this country a child from humble origins, born to ordinary parents, has a better chance of growing up to be President of the United States than Senator from New York?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What kind of change was Obama promising?

When you heard Barack Obama promise to bring change to Washington what kind of change did you imagine? Did you take your cues from his criticism of our decision to invade Iraq and his promises to bring the troops home in 18 months to understand Obama to be promising change away from the Bush Doctrine of preventive wars of choice? Did Obama’s willingness to talk to any foreign leaders, including ones the Bush Administration refused to meet, indicate to you that he meant change toward a less belligerent and militaristic foreign policy? Did Obama's emphasis on the environment and sustainable energy suggest to you a change in the way those issues are handled? Did you also hear indications that Obama would be appointing and hiring people based on competence and ability rather than the loyalty standard used by the Bush Administration?

If so, then you are probably as surprised as I was by the following lead paragraphs of an AP story in today’s newspapers:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The inauguration committee of President-elect Barack Obama, who ran on a platform to change the way business is done in Washington, is selling four-day packages of four tickets to his historic swearing-in ceremony and parade plus some extras in exchange for $50,000.

The deal does represent a change. President Bush charged $250,000, selling his supporters a much bigger menu of inaugural goodies that featured candlelight dinners.

Does the writer of this article really believe that the change Barack Obama was promising was to not do fund-raising? That seems unlikely since Barack Obama did the most successful fund-raising in history during his campaign. No, it seems more likely to me that the writer of that article knows exactly what kind of change Obama was promising but is trying to persuade her/his readers to forget.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Madonna causing lustful, impure thoughts

According to Yahoo News, Madonna is turning heads down in Chile.

Roman Catholic Cardinal Jorge Medina criticized the flamboyant singer during his homily at a Mass in honor of the late dictator Augusto Pinochet, who oversaw the deaths of some 3,200 dissidents during his 1973-1990 rule.

"This woman comes here and in an incredibly shameless manner, she provokes a crazy enthusiasm, an enthusiasm of lust, lustful thoughts, impure thoughts," said Medina, the cardinal who was chosen to announce the election of Pope Benedict XV.

It almost sounds as though the Cardinal was hired by Madonna to hype the show, doesn't it? I've always wondered about the source of her appeal. Apparently her act goes over particularly well with the sexually repressed.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Voting for Auto Bail-Out will require Political Courage

The Democrats in Congress who are going to vote next week to bail out the Big 3 American automakers are probably going to pay a political price for doing so. The polls and word on the street make it clear that most of the public hates the idea of bailing out well-paid union workers and fat-cat corporate executives.

But economists warn that in the current financial climate bankruptcy for any one of the Big 3 automakers would most likely not lead to reorganization, restructuring or new ownership, but in liquidation, which would cause a cascade of closures among part supplies and associated industries which would in turn force the other 2 automakers out of business. Economists are talking about a difference in 10% unemployment if the American automakers are kept in business or a Great Depression level 25% unemployment if they disappear.

Once Congress decides to do something, such as bailing out Detroit, there is no way to know for sure what would have happened if they had not acted. People opposed to the bail-out, probably a majority of the voters, will look at the 10% unemployment and say that after giving away all this money we still have lost a lot of jobs. They will feel that their tax dollars were given away for nothing. There will be no way to prove that it would have been much worse if the auto makers had gone into bankruptcy.

It will be interesting to see which politicians in Congress put the good of the country ahead of their own reelection chances and vote for the bail-out next week. Does anyone have any guesses about the relative percentages of Democrats and Republicans who will show political courage? My guess is that despite their rhetoric, there are very few Republican left in Congress who actually put country first. I predict that those voting for the bail-out will be over-whelming Democrats.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Odetta 1930 - 2008

Odetta sings Careless Love

A young Odetta sings Water Boy

Read a good article about Odetta's life in today's New York Times.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

David Brooks now says neo-con ideas passe

Conservative David Brooks’ column in today’s New York Times claims that the Barack Obama’s foreign policy is not change but really is continuity of ideas developed by people in the Bush Administration.

[Defense Secretary Robert] Gates does not talk about spreading democracy, at least in the short run. He talks about using integrated federal agencies to help locals improve the quality and responsiveness of governments in trouble spots around the world.

He has developed a way of talking about security and foreign policy that is now the lingua franca in government and think-tank circles. It owes a lot to the lessons of counterinsurgency and uses phrases like “full spectrum operations” to describe multidisciplinary security and development campaigns.

Gates has told West Point cadets that more regime change is unlikely but that they may spend parts of their careers training soldiers in allied nations. He has called for more spending on the State Department, foreign aid and a revitalized U.S. Information Agency. He’s spawned a flow of think-tank reports on how to marry hard and soft pre-emption.

The Bush administration began to implement these ideas, but in small and symbolic ways. ...

Read entire column.

The clear, at least to me, implication of what David Brooks is saying in this column is that electing neo-cons John McCain and Sarah Palin would have meant a return to a the foreign policy of the first few years of the Bush Administration, to ideas and attitudes that the foreign policy wing of the Bush Administration led by Condoleezza Rice and Robert Gates had realized years ago were failures and mistakes. Why didn’t David Brooks mention this before the election?

Monday, December 01, 2008

William Kristol's answer to terrorism - patriotism

It is no surprise that William ”The Bloody” Kristol‘s column in today’s New York Times is wrong. Everything he said has turned out to be wrong. But this column’s wrong-headedness is immediately obvious. No need to wait for events to unfold to prove it false.

In India’s long and bloody battle with Muslim terrorism the one thing the non-Muslim majority of Indians has not lacked is patriotic and emotional fervor and intensity. The recent attacks by Muslim terrorists on hotels in Mumbai may have revealed possible deficiencies in police and military preparedness, communications, coordination, planning and leadership but they revealed no lack of patriotism among the common citizens.

So what is Kristol’s analysis of this situation?

In nations like India (and the United States), governments will have to call on the patriotism of citizens to fight the terrorists.

Think about that for a second. How would increased patriotic feelings among the ordinary citizens of Mumbai have prevented the recent attacks or decreased the number of Indians killed or brought the situation to a close sooner? What could ordinary citizens do in the face of AK-47s and grenades, no matter how patriotic they felt? The idea is absurd. It is so mind-numbingly false it boggles the mind how someone paid to provide expert commentary in a national forum could write such a thing.