March 15th, 2009

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  • bispo

Cheney’s Excuse For Economic Failures Under His Watch: ‘Stuff Happens’

During an interview with Dick Cheney this morning, CNN host John King asked the former vice president why “we should listen to you” for economic advice. To make his case, King noted the following statistical changes that occurred under the Bush/Cheney administration:

Unemployment rate: Rose from 4.2 percent to 7.6 percent
Poverty: Jumped from 32.9 million individuals to 37.3 million
Uninsured: Escalated from 41.2 million individuals to 45.7 million
Budget deficit: Inherited budget surplus of $128 billion and left office with $1.3 trillion deficit

“So what would you say to someone out there watching this who’s saying why should they listen to you?” King asked. Cheney responded that there’s “all kinds of arguments that could be made,” but he emphasized that there is “something more important than” the specific numbers King cited — namely, 9/11.

Cheney argued the Bush administration spent more because it had to go into “wartime mode.” Cheney also referenced the need to spend money after the Katrina disaster:

All of these things required us to spend money that we had not originally planned to spend or weren’t originally part of the budget. Stuff happens. And the administration has to be able to respond to that, and we did.

Watch it:

Recall, Cheney’s good friend — former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld — said shortly after the invasion of Iraq: “Stuff happens…freedom’s untidy. And people are free to make mistakes.”

By Cheney’s logic, the U.S. could no longer care about poverty, the uninsured, or the unemployed after 9/11. Those issues were not deemed “important” enough to address.

Lol, I love my country.

Minister rocks with Midnight Oil



Australian Environment Minister Peter Garrett left parliament behind to rock with his old band Midnight Oil for victims of the recent bushfires.


The politician and former lead singer performed in Canberra on Thursday for the first of two practice gigs before the Sound Relief concert on 14 March.

Garrett last performed with the group for a tsunami benefit in 2005.

After spending the day in parliament he joked on stage:"The only person who has to go to work in the morning is me."


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A couple of days old, but still. America, you might have Barack Obama but we have a singing Minister for the Environment!
please jesus

The lessons of Freeman's fall

The lessons of Freeman's fall

By Kim Ghattas
BBC News, Washington

The undoing of Charles Freeman, who had been nominated as the next chairman of the US National Intelligence Council, is continuing to draw a barrage of reactions from a surprisingly diverse range of corners.

Chinese dissidents, former American ambassadors and intelligence officials have all weighed in, as the debate continues over whether Mr Freeman was brought down by his views on Israel.

ETA: I left this cut comment in the thread so historians can have a laugh at the incredible political correctness our society shifted to in 2009, thereby explaining all the gnashing of teeth and wailing over my 'one word' lj-cut text="Why you play the role of good monkey and NEVER mess with Zionist Zealots (corrected from 'moneychangers') ...."


An outspoken former ambassador to Riyadh, Mr Freeman found himself at the centre of a growing controversy about his views on Israel, China and Tibet while the campaign against him, first online and then on Capitol Hill kept growing.

On Tuesday, 10 March, his soon-to-be boss, Dennis Blair, defended his choice in Congress. Later that afternoon, Mr Blair's office sent out a note announced that Mr Freeman was withdrawing his nomination.

Mr Freeman sent out an acerbic letter, accusing the "Israel Lobby" of "plumbing the depths of dishonour and indecency", using "character assassination" and controlling policy by vetoing people who disagreed with them.

'Deeply insulted'

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Freeman then said he regretted the use of the words "Israel Lobby" saying the campaign had been waged by specific groups aligned with rightwing factions in Israel which he described as the "Likud or (Avigdor) Lieberman lobby".
“ Mr Freeman's letter was pounced on by his critics, and others, who said it proved their point ”

But he stood by his accusations about a campaign waged against him, saying it was a transparent one for which the Zionist Organisation of America had openly claimed credit.

ZOA's president Morton Klein told the BBC it was "nonsense, rubbish to say all the pro-Israel organisations were making an issue about him".

"We were the only ones on Capitol Hill raising concerns about him," he said.

Mr Freeman added he felt "deeply insulted having been attacked for representing foreign interests by someone who is himself under indictment for espionage for a foreign government".

'Grotesque libel'

One of those leading the campaign against Mr Freeman online had been Steve Rosen, a former official from the powerful pro-Israel lobby Aipac who was indicted in the US in 2005, along with a colleague, on suspicion of espionage for Israel.

Mr Freeman's letter was pounced on by his critics, and others, who said it proved their point. In its editorial following his withdrawal, the Washington Post described it as "grotesque libel".

Republican congressman Frank Wolfe also wrote in the Post on Saturday that "while the reports of Freeman's public statements first raised my concern about his suitability to be chairman of the National Intelligence Council, his words after his withdrawal crystallised exactly why Freeman was the wrong choice for the job".

Few people dispute that pro-Israel lobbyists were the driving force in the campaign against Mr Freeman, but some observers believe that if his views on Israel had been the only controversial thing about him, it would not have been enough to bring him down.

Mr Wolfe wrote that he had not been contacted by any pro-Israel lobby group and that his concerns were mainly about Mr Freeman's views on China and Tibet and his ties to foreign governments.

'Tiananmen Square' email

Mr Freeman served on the advisory board of the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) for which he was paid $10,000 a year.

He was also the president of the Middle East Policy Council, which received funding from Saudi Arabia. He resigned from the positions before accepting the nomination for the NIC job and says there was nothing improper about either position.

But in an e-mail he sent a few years ago and which has become public, Mr Freeman said that he found plausible "the dominant view in China" which stated that the real mistake of the authorities was not the crackdown on protestors on Tiananmen Square in 1989 but the fact they had not nipped the demonstrations in the bud.

He goes on to say that no government would allow the heart of its capital to be occupied by dissidents and ends his mail by stating "I thus share the hope of the majority in China that no Chinese government will repeat the mistakes of Zhao Ziyang's dilatory tactics of appeasement in dealing with domestic protesters in China."

'Indefensible'

The comments are read widely as justification of the Chinese government's action but Mr Freeman insisted he was reading facts and predicting outcomes, adding that empathy is key to analysis.
“ Freeman belongs to the camp that's the mortal enemy of the neoconservatives: the realists. Realist ideology pays no attention to moral differences between states ”
Jonathan Chait
Editor, The New Republic

"I'm not justifying, I'm describing it. There's a difference between analysis and policy. Analysis is an effort to understand the facts and the motivations of those who are creating the facts, Chinese demonstrators or leaders, and then explain that to those who must make decisions about what to do about it."

His comments on Tibet also drew fire from speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who reportedly described them as "indefensible".

In 2007, Mr Freeman had said that the American and European posturing on the issue of Tibet would lead to a long term clampdown by the Chinese. He said he didn't mean to say that the West should stay quiet but that it should expect a Chinese reaction.

The way Mr Freeman's expresses his views led to criticism that he was an ultra-realist, unconcerned about human rights.

'Blind to moral dimensions'

"Freeman belongs to the camp that's the mortal enemy of the neoconservatives: the realists. Realist ideology pays no attention to moral differences between states," wrote Jonathan Chait, editor of The New Republic.

"(They) are the mirror image of neoconservatives in that they are completely blind to the moral dimensions of international politics."

Mr Freeman said he took it as a compliment.

"It is an extraordinary accusation to accuse someone whose job is analysis of the sin of objectivity. If you already know what the answer ought to be and then voice it, why go through the pretence of analysis at all," said Mr Freeman.

"The notion that somehow analysis should bend itself to what is politically expedient is precisely the issue we need to crack."

Self-censorship

The episode has indeed raised some concern inside the intelligence community.

In an article for Foreign Policy, entitled How to Discourage the Speaking of Truth to Power, former CIA officer Paul Pillar wrote that he remained convinced that "enforcement of political orthodoxy about US policy towards Israel" was at the heart of the affair and the message to intelligence officers was clear - "their work will be acceptable only if it conforms to dominant policy views".

Mr Pillar ends by saying that the next time the intelligence community fails in its job, the way it did on Iraq's WMD's, people in Congress and elsewhere should ask themselves "how they could expect intelligence officers to show superlative courage in bucking political orthodoxy when they showed so little themselves".

In his letter, Mr Freeman also said the affair "will be seen by many to raise serious questions about whether the Obama administration will be able to make its own decisions about the Middle East and related issues".

But a DC-based advocate on Arab issues said that people like him and others working on Arab and Palestinian issues should learn from the episode and maintain a pragmatic attitude.

"Freeman was very vocal and very strident about Israel, he really identified with the Palestinians and Arabs in particular. For him it was a case of- support the Palestinians and stand against the Israelis," said the advocate who wished to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the issue.

"But if you approach it like that, as a zero sum game, the zero will always be for us (Arabs), we cannot win. If we want to make progress, we have to be pragmatic."

He added that people should not conclude that "they should self-censor on the issue of Israel. What matters is how you criticise and what are your other alignments and associations. It's a good lesson."

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/americas/7944677.stm



Now, if we can have an intelligent discussion about Israel's tremendous impact on OUR government without bringing in race, ethnicity or religion, I'll be shocked, yet proud.

E.T.A. Evidently not. Subject matter looks too much like racial/bigotry ooooohhhhhhh..... must tiptoe!
E.T.A.2.0 Evidently, a word used in the Bible to describe the actions of one Jesus Christ, is so offensive that some can not even fathom the gist of the article without going all "PC" over ONE word.
What has public school done to you people? No wait, strike that, could be offensive and create 16 responses!
E.T.A. 3.0 I now firmly believe there is a vast conspiracy to avoid discussion of this issue. Either that, or fluoride in the water...
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Some guy attempts to slam Jon Stewart...but fails.

Tucker Carlson repeatedly blasted Jon Stewart for his grilling of Jim Cramer on "The Daily Show" last Thursday. Carlson, appearing on CNN's "Reliable Sources," called Stewart a "partisan hack," just an operative for the Democratic party, who only took on Cramer and CNBC because they criticized President Obama's budget. Carlson also predicted that Stewart was becoming "so self-serious and sanctimonious that it's just a matter of time before he becomes unfunny."

Carlson's two co-panelists disagreed with him, and Howard Kurtz played the now legendary clip of Stewart going on Carlson's old show "Crossfire" and chastising the hosts for hurting America.

Video at the Source





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natalie

26, 500 Californian Teachers Recieve Pink Slips

Calif. teachers see red over mass pink slips

By LISA LEFF

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — In a spring rite that has become as predictable as the cherry blossoms in the nation's capital, public school employees throughout California have been warned of wrenching classroom cuts as districts face a deadline for issuing layoff notices.

Most years many of those notices would be rescinded, but this year the ritual is more fraught with uncertainty because of the economy.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Protest at Nipomo High School

The state Department of Education estimates that preliminary pink slips will have been handed to 26,500 teachers by the Sunday cutoff — two-and-a-half times as many as were issued last year. Some 15,000 bus drivers, janitors, secretaries and administrators also were expected to receive the written warnings, said Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell.

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This is particularly potent for me because, well, I am from California and have been educated here for my entire life thus far. The district I went to high-school in got 229 pink slips alone. There are a thousand school districts in CA, and averaged out it's only 20 some-odd teachers per, so some are getting hit a lot harder than others. Some of the best teachers at my HS have gotten the slip, which just makes me more livid. If you are in CA, or anywhere else really, be aware of this.

SOURCE: The AP

A local news article, for those interested: The Tribune

yay.

17 Year Old Girl Sues, Changes School Policy, And Will Wear Her Tuxedo To Prom



A 17-year-old lesbian in Lebanon, Indiana was all set to go to prom until her principal informed her that the dress code restricted girls from wearing tuxedos, forcing them to wear gowns instead.

The girl, who is not identified due to her age, decided to fight back, suing the school with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, on the grounds that the school's restrictive dress code was a case of gender discrimination and a denial of the girl's right to free speech. At first, the school attempted to placate the girl by discussing pantsuit options, but that was soon dismissed, as school officials reversed their dress code standards just four days after the suit was filed, releasing this statement: "School policy for this year's prom will be that all attendees shall wear appropriate formal attire with no gender-based attire requirements imposed. Female students will be permitted to wear tuxedos if they choose."

Source

I do find it interesting though, that they singled out female students will be able to wear tuxedos, leaving themselves open to deny boys the right to wear something gender atypical to prom.  That and they said "this year", meaning they could possibly change the rules for next year.

Forum meets to address impending water crisis

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Government ministers from 120 countries, scientists and campaigners meet in Istanbul this week to discuss how to avert a global water crisis and ease tensions between states fighting over rivers, lakes and glaciers.

Nearly half of the world's people will be living in areas of acute water shortage by 2030, the United Nations warned last week, and an estimated 1 billion people remain without access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

The world's population of 6.6 billion is forecast to rise by 2.5 billion by 2050. Most of the growth will be in developing countries, much of it in regions where water is already scarce.

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Sauce

Does the US have a comprehensive water policy?
Obama has a crush on me

Sending positive thought to Mama Biden



Biden's mother hospitalized


Jean Finnegan Biden, the 91-year-old mother of Vice President Joe Biden, was admitted today at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

A hospital spokesperson confirmed she arrived today but said the hospital could release no further details.

 

Jean Finnegan Biden, the 91-year-old mother of Vice President Joe Biden, was admitted today at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

 

A hospital spokesperson confirmed she arrived today but said the hospital could release no further details.

 

Elizabeth Alexander, spokeswoman for the vice president, released the following statement: “The Vice President’s mother, Catherine Eugenia “Jean” Biden, has been admitted to the University of Pennsylvania hospital today after a fall at her residence in Delaware. She is currently receiving treatment and is in good spirits.”

waiting
  • bispo

Fareed Zakaria: Why Washington Worries

jones-clinton-gates
Obama has made striking moves to fix U.S. foreign policy—and that has set off a chorus of criticism.
As George W. Bush's term came to a close, he had few defenders left in the world of foreign policy. Mainstream commentators almost unanimously agreed the Bush years had been marked by arrogance and incompetence. "Mr. Bush's characteristic failing was to apply a black-and-white mindset to too many gray areas of national security and foreign affairs," editorialized The Washington Post. Even Richard Perle, the neoconservative guru, acknowledged

recently that "Bush mostly failed to implement an effective foreign and defense policy." There was hope that President Obama would abandon some of his predecessor's rigid ideological stances. But, the Post warned, "it won't be easy to undo what Mr. Bush has done."

In fact, though consumed by the economic crisis in its first 50 days, the Obama administration has nevertheless made some striking moves in foreign policy. Obama announced the closure of Guantánamo and the end of any official sanction for torture. He gave his first interview as president to an Arab network and spoke of the importance of respect when dealing with the Muslim world—a gesture that won him rave reviews from normally hostile Arab journalists and politicians.
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  • bispo

White House: We didn't order Indiana casino ad pulled



Although happy that Indiana Live Casino is scuttling a series of ads that feature a look-alike of President Barack Obama, the White House on Wednesday disagreed with the casino's interpretation of the events that led to that decision.

The White House didn't specifically tell the Shelbyville casino to pull the ads, said spokeswoman Amy Brundage. But its lawyers did contact Indiana Live's parent, The Cordish Co., to say they didn't approve of the ads.
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  • bispo

Vatican prelate defends abortion for 9-year-old

VATICAN BIOETHICS
VATICAN CITY (AP) — An influential prelate said Brazilian doctors didn't deserve excommunication for aborting the twin fetuses of a 9-year-old child who was allegedly raped by her stepfather because the doctors were saving her life.

The statement by Archbishop Rino Fisichella in the Vatican newspaper Sunday was highly unusual because church law mandates automatic excommunication for abortion. Fisichella, who heads the Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Life, also upheld the church's ban on abortion and any implications of his criticism of excommunicating the doctors and the girl's mother weren't clear.

Fisichella argued for a sense of "mercy" in such cases and respect for the Catholic doctors' wrenching decision, and strongly criticized fellow churchmen who singled out the doctors and mother for public condemnation.

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' jules

Meghan McCain continues to make Republicans rage, sane people LOL.

Celebrate. Good Times. Come On.



Meghan McCain is driving conservatives crazy. Michelle Malkin delves into the Bible of the Republican soul, Twitter, and finds that she likes Russell Brand, who once said something mean about Republicans on basic cable. Sundries Shack has declared her David Frum with a nicer ass, except he calls it a caboose, because in conservative land it is always 1955 and they’re just waiting to be invited out for milkshakes and a sock hop. Dan Riehl is calling her a stupid pudgy chick. Robert Stacy McCain celebrates the fact that while Meghan McCain was out doing things on Saturday night, Michelle Malkin was totally writing mean things about her on the internet, which should cause her caboose (again!) to quiver in fear. He then went out and searched for replacement parts for his Victrola. This dude just calls her a bitch a lot, because he’s FREAKING EDGY AS HECK.

What did McCain do to inspire such pissy, tedious rage in this cadre of conservatives who’ve still failed to Go Galt?

She wrote that one of the few existing biases left in American society is one that actually affects her: the focus on women’s weight.

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I'm mostly posting this for all the links in the first paragraph, which brought the lulz.

DC AIDS rate hits epidemic levels; higher than West Africa's.

Apparently I copied & pasted this story right before it became subscriber-only.  So enjoy!  If you go to the WaPo homepage and go to the far-right under Most Viewed articles, you'll see it.  I heard about it through a local DC news station.  Anyway:

HIV/AIDS Rate in D.C. Hits 3%: Considered a 'Severe' Epidemic, Every Mode of Transmission Is Increasing, City Study Finds

At least 3 percent of District residents have HIV or AIDS, a total that far surpasses the 1 percent threshold that constitutes a "generalized and severe" epidemic, according to a report scheduled to be released by health officials tomorrow.

That translates into 2,984 residents per every 100,000 over the age of 12 -- or 15,120 -- according to the 2008 epidemiology report by the District's HIV/AIDS office.

"Our rates are higher than West Africa," said Shannon L. Hader, director of the District's HIV/AIDS Administration, who once led the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's work in Zimbabwe. "They're on par with Uganda and some parts of Kenya."

"We have every mode of transmission" -- men having sex with men, heterosexual and injected drug use -- "going up, all on the rise, and we have to deal with them," Hader said.

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