Monday, December 29, 2008

"One President at a Time"

Yes, and it hardly matters which one it is, does it?

The Izzies are again playing "Final Solution" with their Pals:

The toll of Palestinians killed by Israel's three-day bombing campaign in Gaza today rose to at least 325 as Israeli jets bombed a university's science laboratories and hit the interior ministry in a widening series of air strikes.

The Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak - who has already said his government does not want another ceasefire with the Islamist Hamas movement - said his army was fighting a "war to the bitter end".

Israel declared the border area around Gaza a closed military zone which, together with preparations for a call-up of thousands of reservists, could suggest a large ground invasion is planned next. Barak said the military campaign would be "widened and deepened as needed".

The number of civilians killed in the fighting continued to rise. The UN Relief and Works Agency, which supports Palestinian refugees and has large programmes in Gaza, said it believed at least 57 civilians were among the dead, but described that as a conservative estimate.

The overall number of injured is thought to be as high as 1,400, although Gazan hospitals are so overcrowded and short of medicine and equipment that they are turning away all but the most seriously wounded.
No doubt, we'll all be surprised to hear that the Chimperor is very much on board with his masters:

CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) — The Bush administration called Monday for an end to the new flare up in Mideast violence, saying Hamas has "once again shown its true colors as a terrorist organization" with attacks on Israel.

White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said the Hamas organization had chosen not to renew a six-month cease-fire agreement arranged by Egypt. At the same time, he said the United States has asked Israel to avoid civilian casualties in Gaza.

The spokesman declined to respond to questions about whether the United States believes Israel is ready to launch a ground attack on Gaza, but said the ultimate goal of Israelis is "for their people to be able to live in peace."
But while the Wee Emperor's replacement is supposed to represent Change, well, you know ... meet the new boss, same as the etc., etc.:

Since his election, Mr. Obama has said little specific about his foreign policy — in contrast to more expansive remarks about the economy. He and his advisers have deferred questions — critics could say, ducked them — by saying that until Jan. 20, only President Bush would speak for the nation as president and commander in chief. “The fact is that there is only one president at a time,” David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, reiterating a phrase that has become a mantra of the transition. “And that president now is George Bush.”

Mr. Obama, vacationing in Hawaii, talked to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Saturday. “But the Bush administration has to speak for America now,” Mr. Axelrod said. “And it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to opine on these matters.”
Now, really -- who's going to pretend to be surprised about this? If Mr. Obama had been in any significant way unsatisfactory to the corporate powermasters who have pulled the strings on Mr. Bush and Mr. Clinton and Mr. OlderBush and Mr. Reagan and ... well, then, Mr. Obama wouldn't be where he is today. He'd be sitting around with Ralph Nader and Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich in Hypothetical-Land. The mere fact of his having obtained power under the modern American system establishes, firmly and unmistakably, that he cannot possess a soul.

And, speaking of not pretending to be surprised ... the world isn't completely blind. Everyone knows that when the Chosen People do what they do with their arsenal, all paid for check-kited by the American taxpayer borrower, with General Dynamics and General Electric nameplates on all of it, there isn't so much as a nanometer's separation between the actions of Greater Israel and those of Imperial America. So, the next time we get a faceful of blowback, 9/11 style, let's not be hearing anyone asking "why they hate us." And no, it won't have the slightest thing to do with our fast-evaporating "freedom" or our alleged values. It'll have everything to do with the oceans of blood even now being spilled by our bitter-end-seeking proxies.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It Isn't Just Political Campaigns Any More

These musicians ... how fussy they are! Imagine getting upset just because your work product is used by our operatives to torture prisoners:
(12-09) 20:58 PST GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (AP) --

Blaring from a speaker behind a metal grate in his tiny cell in Iraq, the blistering rock from Nine Inch Nails hit Prisoner No. 200343 like a sonic bludgeon.

"Stains like the blood on your teeth," Trent Reznor snarled over distorted guitars. "Bite. Chew."

The auditory assault went on for days, then weeks, then months at the U.S. military detention center in Iraq. Twenty hours a day. AC/DC. Queen. Pantera. The prisoner, military contractor Donald Vance of Chicago, told The Associated Press he was soon suicidal.

The tactic has been common in the U.S. war on terror, with forces systematically using loud music on hundreds of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, then the U.S. military commander in Iraq, authorized it on Sept. 14, 2003, "to create fear, disorient ... and prolong capture shock."

Now the detainees aren't the only ones complaining. Musicians are banding together to demand the U.S. military stop using their songs as weapons.
Now, here's somebody with an idea I could get behind:
Morello, of Rage Against the Machine, has been especially forceful in denouncing the practice. During a recent concert in San Francisco, he proposed taking revenge on President George W. Bush.

"I suggest that they level Guantanamo Bay, but they keep one small cell and they put Bush in there ... and they blast some Rage Against the Machine," he said to whoops and cheers.
Entirely appropriate, I'd say.

Monday, December 08, 2008

How Do You Like Your War Now, Conservatives?

As I've already bored you once or twice by expounding, American "conservatives" cheerfully sacrificed everything else that they claimed to cherish -- liberty, free markets, opposition to legal abortion, the whole bundle -- to their true first love: war. They were happy to "pay any price, bear any burden" to discomfit the Commies or the Islamofascists or any other convenient enemy at whom their synthetic anger could be aimed, like a gun, by their supervisors ... as long as stealthy aircraft would rain Shock & Awe™ on the swarthy ones; as long as Abrams main battle tanks buried Eye-rackies in the sand; as long as the wrap-around-shades legionaries kept their boots firmly planted on towelhead necks. During the last couple of years, though, some hint of the scale of "any price" and "any burden" have begun to manifest, a little, as energy prices soared (until the leading edge of the current Really Great Depression has made them plunge) and the first rumblings of the economic meltdown have put tremors of panic and nausea into even the most jingo-"patriotic" of bellies.

Well, conservatives, you've had your war. Sorry it wasn't an especially good one for you. Now, taste of the price:
Congressional Democrats were drafting legislation Sunday for tight government control of the crippled American auto industry, including the possible creation of an oversight board made up of five cabinet secretaries and the head of the Environmental Protection Agency and led by an independent chairman or “car czar.”


President-elect Barack Obama, whose transition team has been involved in the talks, made starkly clear in an interview and at a brief news conference on Sunday that any aid to the Big Three auto companies should not come without significant concessions.

“They’re going to have to restructure,” Mr. Obama said in an interview on “Meet the Press” on NBC. “And all their stakeholders are going to have restructure. Labor, management, shareholders, creditors — everybody is going to recognize that they have — they do not have a sustainable business model right now, and if they expect taxpayers to help in that adjustment process, then they can’t keep on putting off the kinds of changes that they, frankly, should have made 20 or 30 years ago.”

Still, the bill seemed likely to stop short of authorizing the broad powers that some lawmakers had urged to allow what could have amounted to an out-of-court bankruptcy proceeding, in which the automakers’ creditors could be forced to accept reduced payments, labor contracts could be rewritten and executives could be summarily dismissed.

Senator Christopher J. Dodd, the chairman of the banking committee that is drafting the legislation, called for the dismissal or resignation of Rick Wagoner, the chief executive of G.M., which is the most imperiled automaker.

“I think you’ve got to consider new leadership,” Mr. Dodd said Sunday in an interview on “Face the Nation” on CBS. “If you’re going to really restructure this, you’ve got to bring in a new team to do this, in my view.”

Asked specifically about Mr. Wagoner, Mr. Dodd said: “I think he has to move on.”

A G.M. spokesman, Steve Harris, said that the company was grateful for Mr. Dodd’s assistance and that it was willing to accept tough oversight, but that it retained confidence in Mr. Wagoner.

“We appreciate Senator Dodd’s support in trying to provide some assistance for the industry, but General Motors’ employees, dealers, suppliers and the G.M. board of directors feel strongly that Rick Wagoner is the right person to continue the transformation of the company that he began and has presented plans to Congress to continue and accelerate,” Mr. Harris said.

All of the proposals made clear that Congressional Democrats and the White House, furious over the need for another huge corporate bailout, intended to make the automakers pay a price far greater than the 5 percent interest on the emergency loans.

Congressional Democrats said that if any of the companies failed to meet government requirements by the end of March, the emergency loans could be called in for immediate repayment.

At the news conference in Chicago, Mr. Obama affirmed his position that it would be unacceptable to allow the auto industry to collapse. But using somewhat tougher language than he had before, he said it made “no sense for us to shovel more money into the problem” if the companies are unwilling to reorganize.
I think the most amazing thing about the economic debacle to date is the blinding speed with which "conservatives" have run from the idea that there might be something wrong with the Sovietizing of what's left of American industry. I mean, a year or two from now, we're going to be reading about the Car Czar's bold new Five-Year Plan under which the new SUX-6000, designed by a committee consisting of Pres. Obama, Sen. Dodd, and Sen. Shelby, will be produced in record numbers of 5,000 units per year; and then when fewer than 200 are built, and they won't start, we'll read about how that represents a "heroic overfulfillment" of the Plan. It's going to be funny, which is good, because we'll all need something amusing to help us pass the time while we're queued up half the day to get the day's ration of black bread and borscht at the local State Commissary.

I don't particularly blame "progressives" for all this. They're supposed to be socialists. No, I think the blame rests primarily with conservatives. They had to have their war, no matter what. I wish there were some way for them to eat the results by themselves -- but there isn't. I'll be studying "100 New Recipes For Old Cabbage" right alongside them. Yum, yum.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Deer Hunter

Muzzleloader season opened today. At the ripe old age of 54, it's my first time hunting with a muzzleloader. In fact, it's my first time hunting deer. In fact, it's my first time hunting anything. Fortunately, a friend at the day job has taken me under his wing and is showing me what's what.

For the time being, I'm only out for bucks -- so the two big, beautiful does who flew by about 20 yards from my position were safe, as was the undersized doe who did the same thing a little later. Those were all the deer I saw today. Saw a lot of cold, cold wind and snow, though.

The score so far: Bambi 1, me nuthin'. I have a couple of vacation days (or "PTO" days, as we now call them) left. I think I'll try to slip off one day this coming week and even the score.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

In the Wrong Business

Truly, it's very, very strange out there these days. The central government, which is officially in $6.4E+12 of debt, is beseiged by a quickly-increasing array of other corporate/banking/insurance/financial entities (CBIFE hereafter, for brevity) for "bailouts," which seems to mean huge chunks of money. Why you go to someone who's not only broke, but six and a half trillion bucks in the hole, for funds is, well ... very, very strange. Bizarre, even. And, as we've all heard many times by now, something like one trillion mythical dollars have been flushed into the maws of these CBIFE mendicants already, with dark hints of much more to come.

All of this gives me several causes of longer-term wonder and conjecture, such as: what is the "money" anyway, that a manifestly bankrupt entity like Mordor-on-the-Potomac can nevertheless firehose it onto favored beneficiaries in such amazing quantities? Are our exalted leaders borrowing it from someone? Maybe ... but why anyone would be lending to Uncle in these latter days is deeply mysterious indeed. Maybe they're just printing it? I daresay that's closer to the truth, although "printing" seems like such a quaint, 20th-century concept now. I'd guess that the amount of paper currency in circulation now is the merest filmy crust atop the ocean of "money" which is just ones and zeroes bouncing around in various computers: agreements amongst beggars. But that's for another post. Today I'm amused by a peculiar cultural aspect of what I hope is the beginning of the economic wreck of the Empire.

Today, I'm reading about how representatives of the Formerly-Big Three U.S. automobile manufacturers journeyed to the main theives' den on the Chesapeake Bay, traveling by car and wearing burlap bags as befits men working for a buck a year, to beg Uncle for something like $34B in order to continue their operations:
The Big Three automakers renewed their plea for an emergency federal bailout, as the head of General Motors Corp. told a deadlocked Congress the industry has made some wrong turns and economic forces have pushed it “to the brink.”

GM Chief Executive Rick Wagoner said time is running short and his company could be out of funds by the end of the year. “We’re here today because we made mistakes,” he said in written testimony to the Senate Banking Committee in Washington. “And we’re here because forces beyond our control have pushed us to the brink.”

Wagoner, Chrysler LLC Chief Executive Robert Nardelli and Ford Motor Co.’s Alan Mulally are asking for as much as $34 billion in federal aid. “I am sorry to be asking for this support,” Wagoner told reporters before the hearing began.

The three men are trying to recover from their appearance before Congress two weeks ago when they were ridiculed for arriving in Washington in separate private jets to plea for funds and left empty-handed. They demonstrated contrition today, pledging to work for $1 a year, traveling to Washington by car and providing specific plans for viability.
So, how were their pleas received?
The senior Republican on the panel, Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, said he still opposes a bailout. “Each of the automakers have based their plans on what I believe are optimistic sales forecasts,” he said.

Democrat Senator Carl Levin, from the carmakers’ home state of Michigan, said “it’s essential” that President George W. Bush and President-elect Barack Obama “become more active” in talks to rescue the carmakers.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said it is up to the automakers to show that their plans for revamping their companies will work.

“It’s too early to give these plans a grade,” Perino said. “The linchpin of our support has been that we would not provide taxpayer dollars unless they could prove viability.”
Let's see: these guys are asking for slightly over three percent of what's already been laid at the feet of the CBIFE community. The banksters pretty much told Our Glorious Leaders to fork over the money and do it right the hell now, and the Leaders pretty much said, "sir, yes, sir!" and forked it over. But let actual manufacturers, who actually make something physical, rather than shuffling money debt around, hold their hands out, and suddenly our supervisors are cautious, responsible stewards and shrewd judges of character. They're not going to give anybody a damn thing until they've seen every detail, and I mean every detail, nosirree Bob!

You can see that the banksters and the hereditary officeholders are members of a tribe, and these corporate manufacturers, while wealthy and privileged, are from a different tribe. A carmaker, no matter how nicely he's dressed and how lavish his compensation might be, has dirt under his fingernails. He smells like cutting oil and hot steel chips on the machine shop floor. He'd best know his place.

Mind you, I don't want to see any kind of auto industry bailout from the gummint; nor would I favor that even if the gummint actually had any money. But then, I'm at least consistent in that I also don't want the banksters seeing a dime. And if that makes "the system" collapse, so be it; I'm pretty sure it's nothing but organized crime anyway, really. To Hell with it.

Meanwhile, even my own polychinned "representative" in Congress has had his brainless say:
"What I want to hear is how they propose to pay the loan back. How not to come back again and how to have a long term strategy. And this doesn't meet the logic test, but how many dealers they need to reduce. Which brands, how they do it. Whether there should be 3 companies or 2 companies or 1 major U.S auto company is not something that congress is trained to do. But the question is, you can look at what they did and say, 'This isn't a plan.' "
Please excuse me while I go sneak off somewhere and die of embarrassment. And, speaking of embarrassment, can you believe that the Democratic Party around these parts actually failed to remove this clothespin-on-nose-talking dunce from his congressional sinecure even in this year in which Indiana went Democratic in the presidential race? Stupidity doesn't begin to explain it -- the donkey's on the payroll, too.