Filtered news 11/21

Just in time for Thanskgiving: We're still screwing the American Indians They built their homes out of uranium mill waste because, "." They drank the water of lakes that appeared "as if by magic" on the arid reservation in the 1950s and 1960s. What they didn't know was that these lakes were actually pools covering . Fifty years ago, Judy Pasternak in the Los Angeles Times, cancer rates on the Navajo reservation in the desert southwest were so low that a medical journal published an article titled "Cancer immunity in the Navajo." Then, from 1944 to 1986, 3.9 million tons of uranium ore were chiseled and blasted from the mountains and plains, with radioactive waste piles, open tunnels and pits left behind. Few companies bothered to fence the properties or post warning signs. Federal inspectors seldom intervened. Not until 2000 were some families warned that they were living in homes as radioactive as uranium mines. The U.S. government still hasn't cleaned it up. Read more about the cruel legacy uranium has left for this tribe in Pasternak's heartbreaking , running this week.

Blame the Hippies! This

America won't win another war until the 1960s flower children are pushing up petunias. Radicalized, the flower children morphed into lefty loonies who now masquerade as social progressives. No matter what they rename themselves, however, their agenda hasn't changed.

Listen lady, this Hippie wants us out of Iraq. It really burns them up that the flower people were right about Iraq.

Another of G-Dub's "advisors" has admitted a military victory is . This is a tale told to an idiot who, just last week, held as an example of what Iraq could become ""

Fewer polar bear cubs are in Alaska. Anyone want to guess why? Meanwhile, in Russia and you can take a more comfortable .

The governor who gave us this wants to be president The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting in Chicago, issued a ruling that will have a profound impact on treatment of prisoners. Read this from the three-judge panel: "Stripped naked in a small prison cell with nothing except a toilet; forced to sleep on a concrete floor or slab; denied any human contact; fed nothing but 'nutra-loaf'; and given just a modicum of toilet paper--four squares--only a few times. Although this might sound like a stay at a Soviet gulag in the 1930's, it is, according to the claims in this case, Wisconsin in 2002." Pam McGillivray (and a law firm I won't mention) who represented Nathan Gillis, said, "The decision recognizes that the standards of decency in Wisconsin cannot tolerate this barbaric treatment of prisoners." But then, Tommy Thompson has no standards of decency. Never did.

How we treat those who labor Nearly one thousand striking janitors met at the corner of Travis and Capitol in Houston in preparation for a protest march to Houston Police Department Headquarters on Travis Street. The four-week-old strike resulted in , when striking janitors and union organizers chained themselve to the Chevron building in Houston. The janitors are striking in the hope of getting health benefits and a raise in wage to $8.50 an hour. The average current wage is $5.30 an hour. They also report numerous civil rights abuses and failure of management to bargain in good faith. The five main companies involved are Hines, Transwestern, Crescent, Brookfield Properties, and Chevron.

The march never took place, however, because mounted Houston police officers , injuring four people. Forty-four were arrested. One of the janitors described the scene:

The horses came all of a sudden. They started jumping on top of people. I heard the women screaming. A horse stomped on top of me. I fell to the ground and hurt my arm. The horses just kept coming at us. I was terrified. I never thought the police would do something so aggressive, so violent.

One of the injured strikers was Hazel Ingram, an 83-year-old janitor from New York. Ingram was taken to the hospital for treatment of an arm injury. Several protesters report being stepped on by horses. Spectators said that the police grabbed a sign that said Stand Up For the American Dream, threw it to the ground, stomped on it, and then joined other officers in giving high-fives.

Second Amendment looking smarter all the time? More on the striking trampled by mounted police and jailed. Put together with and add in the uber-right's own and last Friday's use of the police as paramilitary strike-breakers and tell me you aren't the least bit worried.

The World’s Worst Traffick Jam According to a spokesperson, the Vatican views today’s human trafficking and forced enslavement as being during the African slavery of past centuries. It makes one wonder about the whole good v evil line we’ve been fed over the past few years. How is this not on the national radar?

.

The White House dismissed a classified CIA draft assessment that found no conclusive evidence of a secret Iranian nuclear weapons program, The New Yorker magazine reported. The article by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh said the CIA's analysis was based on technical intelligence collected by satellites and on other evidence like measurements of the radioactivity of water samples. "The CIA found no conclusive evidence, as yet, of a secret Iranian nuclear weapons program running parallel to the civilian operations that Iran has declared to the International Atomic Energy Agency," according to the article. "A current senior intelligence official confirmed the existence of the CIA analysis, and told me that the White House had been hostile to it," it said.

2008 polls I don't know how many of you are that eager to engage in the 2008 presidential battle just yet. I'm not. But Ezra gives us a about why polls this far out don't matter. From a Fox News poll in January 2003:

Joe Lieberman……29%
Dick Gephardt……15%
John Kerry………..13%
John Edwards…….8%
Al Sharpton……….5%
Howard Dean……..2%

This could get rather interesting. The decision on who won the race to represent Congressional District could wind up in the House itself.

Petty politics reversed House Intel Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) demoted a Democratic committee staffer just before the elections as political payback. A senior House Republican admitted as much. But if you needed --the staffer has been reinstated.

What did the president know specifically about U.S. torture practices and when did he know it? Democrats in want to know; and, in an interview with that was largely eclipsed by the frenetic last days of the midterm election campaigns, reporter and author Ron Suskind said the president knew more and knew it earlier than you might think: "The president understands more about the mistakes than he lets on. He knows what the most-skilled interrogators know too. He gets briefed, and he was deeply involved in this process from the beginning. The president loves to talk to operators." This is a president who I suspect has a hard time with the concept of plausible deniability.

The jockeying among Iraq's for control/influence over the deteriorating situation there is on full now.

Look for congressional in January on the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy and whether gays should be allowed to serve openly in the armed forces.

In the past Barack Obama has been accused of many things -- having to a crooked political fundraiser, for one -- but , I dare say, is a first. In a recent column in the Henry Daily Herald of McDonough, Georgia, reporter Nicklaus Lovelady lambasts Obama for ruining his chances with a love interest working for a rival paper. Best to let Lovelady take it from here:

 

 

I had the looks, I had the charm and I had my eye on this pretty young thing who was doing an internship for a competing paper.

 

 

It took me nearly two months of running into each other at various news events before I worked up the nerve to begin talking to her.

 

 

And then Obama shows up.

 

The senator made his way to SIUE one day to introduce some legislation that would increase grants for students. Prior to that, me and the girl became really cool as I let her in on a few tricks of the trade.

 

The day Obama came, there was a huge press conference at the university’s student center with about 100 people inside the conference room and hundreds more viewing the conference on a big screen in the lobby.

 

Obama did his thing, and at the end there was segment for questions by the media.

 

After about five questions from different television and newspaper reporters, I stood up to ask mine.

 

“Wait a minute son, this is for professional media only,” Obama said to me.

 

“What do you mean? I work for the local paper,” I said with a crackling nervous voice.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you were a college student. You have such a baby face,” he said with an unremorseful grin.

 

At that point everyone in the room turned to look at me and laugh. The 800 people in the lobby laughed as my face was projected on the big screen.

Alas, the "pretty young thing" was laughing, too. And, after that humiliating episode, she was no longer interested in Lovelady's "tricks of the trade." "Obama owes me a public apology for making me look like a court jester and for blocking my shot," Lovelady's column concludes. "Until that time, Hillary or Giuliani will get my vote."

Not about to lose Lovelady's vote, Obama, who has yet to declare whether or not he'll seek the presidency in 2008, the reporter “to publicly apologize for messing up your game. I read that; I felt terrible. I didn't know there were any ladies around. I just wanted to let you know that I'm deeply sorry.”

Presidential material? Definitely.

"Republicans who limped back to Washington for a lame duck congressional session last week found a host of marching orders from President Bush, but perhaps none more urgent than this: Before Democrats take control of Congress in January, they must pass legislation authorizing the National Security Agency's domestic eavesdropping program. "His plea for a legislative stamp of approval on the controversial spy effort is an 'important priority in the war on terror,' Bush said. The response: deafening silence. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist quickly dispatched aides to put out the word on Bush's request: Not gonna happen." (USNews & World Report) Maybe it's because the GOP just got its butt kicked as paback for going along with just this sort of Bush stupidity?

Case in point: "Congressional Republicans now routinely lament that more of them might still have their jobs if Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld had lost his before election day. That might be right. But it's also true that Rumsfeld might have been out of work sooner had more congressional Republicans done their own job. With rare exceptions, House and Senate Republicans refused to publicly question or conduct serious oversight on the administration's performance in Iraq since the 2003 invasion. Because congressional Republicans exerted so little pressure on President Bush to change direction, they made it easier for him to essentially stay the course despite the steady deterioration on the ground." (LATimes)

Listen to the soldiers? Anyone? Anyone? Commentary in recent days from two retired Army generals, Barry McCaffrey and William Odom, gives an even greater sense of urgency to the need to change course in Iraq.

McCaffrey says the U.S. needs to bring home five brigades from Iraq before Christmas to keep the Army from breaking, a redeployment he concedes is not feasible, according to the :

“The country is not at war. The United States armed forces and the CIA are at war. So we are asking our military to sustain a level of effort that we have not resourced,” he told Army Times.

“That’s how to break the Army is to keep it deployed above the rate at which it can be sustained,” he said. “There’s no free lunch here. The Army and the Marine Corps and Special Operations Command are too small and badly resourced to carry out this national security strategy.”

Odom is equally :

Our leaders do not act because their reputations are at stake. The public does not force them to act because it is blinded by the president's conjured set of illusions: that we are reducing terrorism by fighting in Iraq, creating democracy there, preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, making Israel more secure, not allowing our fallen soldiers to have died in vain, and others.

But reality no longer can be avoided. It is beyond U.S. power to prevent sectarian violence in Iraq, the growing influence of Iran throughout the region, the probable spread of Sunni-Shiite strife to neighboring Arab states, the eventual rise to power of the anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr or some other anti-American leader in Baghdad, and the spread of instability beyond Iraq.

These realities get worse every day that our forces remain in Iraq. They can't be wished away by clever diplomacy or by leaving our forces in Iraq for several more years.

Meanwhile the President is focused on mislearning the lessons of Vietnam.

The president's new obsession with the Vietnam War (sort of a sign of how bleak things have gotten in Iraq, on so many levels. Think about it: at this point, it's the president who's arguing that Iraq is another Vietnam).

The argument about the need to maintain 'credibility' when deciding whether to withdraw from an ill-fated engagement is not one that, I think, can be dismissed out of hand. But those who wield this argument ignore another argument that is at least as important. If everyone really is watching, what do our actions tell other countries about how rational our national decision-making is about the use of our own power?

To be more concrete, showing other countries that we're willing to bleed ourselves dry because we don't have the common sense to cut our losses doesn't necessarily serve us well at all. Quite the contrary.

Also, and this is another point that I don't think gets raised often enough, a great power has the luxury to make various course corrections without its international standing or 'credibility' collapsing in upon itself. In fact, those who don't get this seem to be concealing a profound pessimism about the United States' collective national strength. The Bush crowd (and of course Kissinger in his long-standing and twisted way) sees America's position in the world as exquisitely brittle, liable to being destroyed entirely by what happens in Baghdad or what sort of 'mettle' we display in Iraq. (A similar mindset about the 'demonstration effect' of whacking Saddam is, in a sense, what got us into this mess in the first place. But let's leave that to another post. )

To use a crass but I think not totally inapt analogy, say Rupert Murdoch invests a lot of money in a big business deal in South America. And it just doesn't pan out. Which inspires more or less future confidence in Murdoch's reputation as an international media mogul: a willingness to keep pouring money into the failed venture basically forever, or pulling up stakes once it's clear the deal isn't working and moving on to more profitable ventures? Again, a crass analogy given the cost in lives and treasure we're talking about in Iraq. But I think the analogy and its implications are solid. Denial and moral and intellectual cowardice do nothing for ones 'credibility'.

So, now back to Vietnam -- both the metaphor and the country.

Isn't this trip a really odd venue for the president to be arguing that staying the course basically forever is the only acceptable solution? Though it took a tragically long time, the US, for all the moonwalking, eventually decided to pull up stakes in Vietnam. And what was the result? One might make arguments that the Soviets and Soviet proxies were temporarily emboldened in Africa or Latin America, though I think that's debatable. But what of the real effects? The Soviet Union was dismantling itself within little more than a decade of our pull-out. And now we have a Vietnam that is politically repressive at home but proto-capitalist in its economy and, by any measure, incredibly eager for good relations with the United States.

If geo-political standing and international repercussions are really the issue we're discussing, it seems very hard to argue that our decision to pull out of Vietnam had any lasting or meaningful ill-effects. And there's at least a decent argument to the contrary.

And yet here we have President Bush, stepping on to Vietnamese soil to further our rapprochement with Vietnam, and arguing, in so many words, that the lesson of Vietnam is that we should still be there blowing the place up thirty years later.

We're really deep into the primitive brainstem phase of our long national nightmare of presidential denial and mendacity on Iraq. Poetically, politically and intellectually it's appropriate that Henry Kissinger is now along for the ride.

A reader on George W. Bush finally showing up in Vietnam ...

Reading the news accounts of Bush's visit to Vietnam--and having studied the conflict and culture my whole life, and speaking the language, two things leaped to mind:

1) The incident is certainly a measure of the nerve or rather stupidity of George W. Bush. To invert historical reality while actually standing on Vietnamese soil is an irony, perhaps an obscenity, but it hardly shows even the minimal respect expected of the rudest guest. I'm sure Bush was oblivious to any reaaction by his hosts--and I'm equally sure their reaction wasn't obvious, either.

It was intended to maintain the always-erroneous claim that Congress "lost" Vietnam by reducing funding, or criticizing the military, or losing it's political will. None of that's true.

2) I wonder just how much the Vietnamese were taking Bush for at the bargaining table. Vietnam is on the cusp of becoming the next Asian "Tiger" (how quickly is the question) and they have much to offer. Bush needs to add to his "Coalition" of Palau, Micronesia, England (all island nations, hmm). While they won't join--I believe they offered 500 tons (lbs?) of rice in response for Bush's appeal for more coalition allies & support (along with snarky public statement)-- they are capable of extracting resources from Bush.

Like I said earlier, we're deep down in the primitive brain stem here.

, Richard Linklater's movie adaptation of Eric Schlosser's seemingly unadaptable muckraking book, hits theaters today. Before you dig in, whet your appetite with our recent and our of the flim. And check out Schlosser wrote for MJ about slaughterhouses—America's most dangerous workplaces. Bon apetit!

Journalists don't do numbers A New York Times reporter — and presumably the legion of editors who laid eyes on his story — passed along a nugget this weekend: if you earn $75,301, your income is in the top 20% worldwide.

Ah, the Innumeracy — or just complete lack of clue. Can a writer or editor at the newspaper of record (who very possibly earns $75,301 himself) actually think that 20% of the world’s 6-plus billion people earn $75,000 or more? ....Actually, of course, the paper was off by a factor a 100....If you are the 49,205,295th richest person in the world, you are richer than 99.18% of your planetary neighbors, not 80%. ....But you get the point, and it is nicely made: you are probably better off than you realize. (Certainly that’s true of the newspaperman who thinks he’s only in the top 20% when in fact he’s in the top eighty-two hundredths of one percent.)

It's faintly appalling that neither the reporter nor any of his editors were even slightly suspicious of that 20% number, even though there were two separate reasons to think it was fantastically wide of the mark.

GOP leaders: A bunch of weirdos Dick Meyer, the editorial director of CBSNews.com, lets us know today what he really thinks about the Republican revolutionaries of 1994. In fact, he tells us, it's what everyone has thought about these guys ever since they were elected.

Really, it's just a simple thesis: The men who ran the Republican Party in the House of Representatives for the past 12 years were a group of weirdos.

....Politicians in this country get a bad rap. For the most part, they are like any high-achieving group in America, with roughly the same distribution of pathologies and virtues. But the leaders of the GOP House didn't fit the personality profile of American politicians, and they didn't deviate in a good way. It was the Chess Club on steroids.

The iconic figures of this era were Newt Gingrich, Richard Armey and Tom Delay. They were zealous advocates of free markets, low taxes and the pursuit of wealth; they were hawks and often bellicose; they were brutal critics of big government.

Yet none of these guys had success in capitalism. None made any real money before coming to Congress. None of them spent a day in uniform. And they all spent the bulk of their adult careers getting paychecks from the big government they claimed to despise.

The rest of the column is a rundown of the various hypocrisies of the House Republican leadership during this era, but I think the excerpt above is the key part of what Meyer was trying to say. The Gingrichites were a bunch of high school kids who got hooked on Ayn Rand and then forgot to grow out of it. They had obsessive personalities but no serious experience of the world, and this toxic combination led to a genuine, sincere, completely delusional belief that Atlas Shrugged wasn't a monomaniacal flight of fancy, but a blueprint for society that could actually be put into practice. They were the guys who rant from soapboxes in Hyde Park, but with nice suits and silk ties.At least, I think that was his point. I wonder if next week he'll tell us what he thinks of the Bush White House. Or will he wait until 2018?

Neocons in despair I heard that when Frum got back from Iraq, he had to be talked off of the ledge. He was soooo very depressed. The death and destruction they have had a hand in is unconscionable and now they are blaming everybody but themselves for their utter failures… -WMP -QT Digby has a :

Ken Adelman is heartbroken to find that the administration is dysfunctional and incompetent. David Frum just wishes the president had followed through on the words David Frum had put in his mouth. Michael Rubin throws Condi under the bus and then backs up over her— Meanwhile, just becaue the neocons are running for the exits doesn't mean they don't continue to be wrong about everything. It is their most distinguishing characteristic. Right now, however, their brand is very damaged so they are beginning to distance themselves from their "movement" in a most clumsy and amusing fashion:…

has the full transcript below the fold. -12167">(Read the rest of this story…)

Oversight What should be the main targets for Democratic investigations in the new Congress? (a) the energy industry, (b) lying to Congress about domestic issues like global warming and Medicare, (c) lying to the public about Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman, (d) nonterrorists who have been subjects of warrantless wiretaps, and (e) continued incompetence in the intelligence community. Seems like a decent list, but Mark Kleiman disagrees.

Midterm myths I see that Time magazine ran an article a couple of days ago putting a stake through some of the

MYTH: Joe Lieberman's victory proves the netroots don't matter.
REALITY: The netroots had some key victories.

MYTH: Democrats won because they carefully recruited more conservative candidates.
REALITY: Democrats won because their candidates were conservative about their message.

MYTH: The losses Republicans sufferend this election were no different than what you usually see in a President's sixth year in office.
REALITY: Redistricting minimized what might have been a truly historic shellacking.

MYTH: The election was all about the war.
REALITY: It's the dishonesty, stupid.

MYTH: Republicans lost their base.
REALITY: The base turned out, they just got beat.

I think the war was probably at least as important as corruption in the Democratic victory, but this is still a pretty good list. Read the whole thing for more detail.

Memo to bloggers Dear , , and whoever else is tempted to hate on : The way this game works is this: Pat says something outrageous on a schedule of every two to six months. This generates controversy, however modest. The controversy bumps up the Nielsen numbers of Crazy Uncle Pat's 700 Club. The engorged audience is then subjected to fundraising pleas to fight "godless liberals", among other scum. This technique no doubt is also used in direct mailing, print advertisements, and whatever other means Robertson has at his disposal. Rinse, repeat. Please don't help Crazy Uncle Pat raise money. He made enough on blood diam

Memo to the Chicago Tribune Ignore the Hoa Hao Buddhists. When President Bush says something like this about about , "A whole society is a society that welcomes basic freedoms," Bush, a born-again Christian, said after attending services at the Cua Bac Cathedral. "And there's no more basic freedom than ... the freedom to worship as you see fit.... My hope is that people all across the world will be able to express" religious freedom, Bush said. "And it's our way of expressing our personal faith and, at the same time, urging societies to feel comfortable with, and confident in saying to their people, if you feel like praising God you're allowed to do so in any way you see fit."

He's not actually interested in, you know, religious freedom in Vietnam. He's interested in people like :

The election defeat offers conservative Christians a good opportunity to take stock. They should ask themselves whether their short list of "moral issues" and "family values" has any hope of being imposed on Washington, as culture continues to resist the approach many of them have taken. Could conservative Christians withstand another approach, one that reflects a more biblical strategy?.... Politics often dulls the senses to morality and "values." That's because of an unholy alliance between people of faith and politicians that often ends in compromise on the part of the faithful and the cynical harvesting of their votes with little offered in return....Conservative Christians are fond of quoting God: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord" (Isaiah 55:8). Could it be that the way of politics is man's way and, thus, not God's way? What is God's way? Isn't it helping the poor through transformation and assisting them to do for themselves? Isn't it feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting those in prison and caring for widows and orphans? Would such behavior, rather than partisan politics, recommend their faith more highly to those who do not currently share it, or who do share it, but apply it differently? With a change in focus, more people might want to hear why conservative Christians are faithful and, having heard, perhaps embrace that faithfulness. The culture might then reflect real "family values" from the bottom up, possibly even touching politicians in Washington.

(That's from your own news service, by the way.) Disenchanted evangelicals+GOP disaster at polls=No Bush legacy. There's your story.

Speaking out One of the biggest mysteries in working with progressives is how little they know about the political stances of churches and other faith groups. You constantly hear the refrain, "why haven't Christians spoken out on subject x?" as if Christians and liberal activists were completely discrete categories, doomed never to meet. This line of questioning is aggravating when it's correct: too few denominations have spoken against gay-bashing freaks like Fred Phelps. It's maddening when incorrect, though. There's a long paper trail of religious opposition to the war in Iraq. The adds to the data set:

In the wake of the midterm elections, at least two religious groups urged an end to war in Iraq.

The General Assembly of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA called for "an immediate phased withdrawal of American and coalition forces from Iraq."

That statement is part of a pastoral message the ecumenical NCC will send to the Bush administration and members of Congress, according to a news release.

"As men and women of faith, we believe that freedom, along with genuine security, is based in God and is served by the recognition of humanity's interdependence and by working with partners to bring about community, development and reconciliation for all, and that such freedom and security is not served by this war in Iraq," reads an excerpt from the statement. "And we mourn the tremendous toll this war has taken on both U.S. and Iraqi societies, and foresee a future of even more instability in the region and in the world should this war in Iraq continue."

Read the full text of "Pastoral Message on the War in Iraq" at .

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops urged "a more substantive, civil and nonpartisan discussion about a responsible transition in Iraq."

The statement, signed by Bishop William S. Skylstad, of the Spokane Diocese, was dated Monday and was issued during the semiannual meeting of Catholic bishops in Baltimore.

The statement says the military should remain in Iraq "only as long as their presence contributes to a responsible transition. Our nation should look for effective ways to end their deployment at the earliest opportunity consistent with this goal."

Read the full statement at .

60 Minutes helpfully told us a while ago that the NCC was just a bunch of Commie symps who liked Fidel Castro and his beard, but I don't think anyone ever accused the USCCB of being fellow travelers. Truth is, neither group is exactly progressive central - and that should be good news for those of us on the left. By the time they get around to speaking out - and speak out they do - their positions are thoroughly mainstream. This may not be the cutting edge of moral thought many of us would like to see from our churches, but it is a sign that pressure for a meaningful change in course continues to build. We can argue about whether or not that , of course, but the fact is, it's there. I for one find that to be a good thing. Your mileage may vary.

P.S.: speaking of, umm, speaking out, here's Keith Ellison on what it means to be the first Muslim elected to the US Congress:

"I think it's time for the United States to see a moderate Muslim voice, to see a face of Islam that is just like everybody else's face...so that Muslims would feel like they are part of the body politic and that other Americans would know that we're here to make a contribution to this country."

Published

November 21, 2006 - 10:10am

Author

randomness