Monthly Archives: January 2007

Joe Biden: Obama “…first…African-American…who is…clean..”

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Joe Biden sounds off again

“I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” he said.

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Well, Mr. Joe, you are quite a ways over the line. Kramer/Michael Richards had nothing on you. Some might call you a racist pig, but at this point I will just call it a racist pig remark.  Oh, and…President?? maybe Del Boca Vista, phase 3.

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Thomas Friedman: Iran is not our enemy !!

[shorter version posted at dkos]
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Behind the NY Times Select firewall today, some very sane comments from a “centrist” directed at an increasingly insane Bush administration:

“Not so strange Bedfellow”

Here’s a little foreign policy test. I am going to describe two countries — “Country A” and “Country B” — and you tell me which one is America’s ally and which one is not.

Country A actively helped the U.S. defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan and replace it with a pro-U.S. elected alliance of moderate Muslims. Country A regularly holds sort-of-free elections. Country A’s women vote, hold office, are the majority of its university students and are fully integrated into the work force. On 9/11, residents of Country A were among the very few in the Muslim world to hold spontaneous pro-U.S. demonstrations. Country A’s radical president recently held a conference about why the Holocaust never happened — to try to gain popularity. A month later, Country A held nationwide elections for local councils, and that same president saw his candidates get wiped out by voters who preferred more moderate conservatives. Country A has a strategic interest in the success of the pro-U.S., Shiite-led, elected Iraqi government. Although it’s a Muslim country right next to Iraq, Country A has never sent any suicide bombers to Iraq, and has long protected its Christians and Jews. Country A has more bloggers per capita than any country in the Muslim Middle East.

The brand of Islam practiced by Country A respects women, is open to reinterpretation in light of modernity and rejects Al Qaeda’s nihilism.

Now Country B: Country B gave us 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11. Country B does not allow its women to drive, vote or run for office. It is illegal in Country B to build a church, synagogue or Hindu temple. Country B helped finance the Taliban.

Country B’s private charities help sustain Al Qaeda. Young men from Country B’s mosques have been regularly recruited to carry out suicide bombings in Iraq. Mosques and charities in Country B raise funds to support the insurgency in Iraq. Country B does not want the elected, Shiite-led government in Iraq to succeed. While Country B’s leaders are pro-U.S., polls show many of its people are hostile to America — some of them celebrated on 9/11. The brand of Islam supported by Country B and exported by it to mosques around the world is the most hostile to modernity and other faiths.

Question: Which country is America’s natural ally: A or B?

Country A is, of course. Country A is Iran. Country B is Saudi Arabia.

Don’t worry. I know that Iran has also engaged in terrorism against the U.S. and that the Saudis have supported America at key times in some areas. The point I’m trying to make, though, is that the hostility between Iran and the U.S. since the overthrow of the shah in 1979 is not organic. By dint of culture, history and geography, we actually have a lot of interests in common with Iran’s people. And I am not the only one to notice that.

Because the U.S. has destroyed Iran’s two biggest enemies — the Taliban and Saddam — “there is now a debate in Iran as to whether we should continue to act so harshly against the Americans,” Mohammad Hossein Adeli, Iran’s former ambassador to London, told me at Davos. “There is now more readiness for dialogue with the United States.”

More important, when people say, “The most important thing America could do today to stabilize the Middle East is solve the Israel-Palestine conflict,” they are wrong. It’s second. The most important thing would be to resolve the Iran-U.S. conflict.

That would change the whole Middle East and open up the way to solving the Israel-Palestine conflict, because Iran is the key backer of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and Syria. Iran’s active help could also be critical for stabilizing Iraq.

This is why I oppose war with Iran. I favor negotiations. Isolating Iran like Castro’s Cuba has produced only the same result as in Cuba: strengthening Iran’s Castros. But for talks with Iran to bear fruit, we have to negotiate with Iran with leverage.

How do we get leverage? Make it clear that Iran can’t push us out of the gulf militarily; bring down the price of oil, which is key to the cockiness of Iran’s hard-line leadership; squeeze the hard-liners financially. But all this has to be accompanied with a clear declaration that the U.S. is not seeking regime change in Iran, but a change of behavior, that the U.S. wants to immediately restore its embassy in Tehran and that the first thing it will do is grant 50,000 student visas for young Iranians to study at U.S. universities.

Just do that — and then sit back and watch the most amazing debate explode inside Iran. You can bet the farm on it.

A very important voice, one which cannot be accused of Bush-hating, surrender monkeying, liberalism, or the many other labels flung about by those who will blindly follow this jackass president to hell.

Juan Cole points out that as the US becomes weaker in Iraq, and loses influence to Iran, the saber rattling is ramped up on a daily basis. US forces are being prepared for an aerial bombardment of Iran. Acts of provocation have begun. Sometime after February 20, Buscheney and their neocon flying monkeys are going to take us to war with Iran, based on the rants of a powerless Iranian president and little else. They have to be stopped.

Please send this around.

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Filed under Condoleezza Rice: tell me again, what is her job?, Dick Cheney: Hannibal Lector in disguise?, George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, Iran, Iraq, John McCain for president of Del Boca Vista, Middle East, Politics

Sam Gardiner speaks up on the impending attack on Iran UPDATED

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image or Ret. Col. Sam Gardiner

Last week we saw a story in the Arab Times. about an impending attack on Iran. Now e have one from Ret. Col. Sam Gardiner:

Sam Gardiner is a Retired Air Force Col and described as “an expert in military strategy and an expert on strategic games.”
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President Bush is preparing to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities before the end of April and the US Air Force’s new bases in Bulgaria and Romania would be used as back-up in the onslaught, according to an official report from Sofia.

“American forces could be using their two USAF bases in Bulgaria and one at Romania’s Black Sea coast to launch an attack on Iran in April,” the Bulgarian news agency Novinite said.

The American build-up along the Black Sea, coupled with the recent positioning of two US aircraft carrier battle groups off the Straits of Hormuz, appears to indicate president Bush has run out of patience with Tehran’s nuclear misrepresentation and non-compliance with the UN Security Council’s resolution. President Ahmeninejad of Iran has further ratcheted up tension in the region by putting on show his newly purchased state of the art Russian TOR-Ml anti-missile defence system.

Whether the Bulgarian news report is a tactical feint or a strategic event is hard to gauge at this stage. But, in conjunction with the beefing up of America’s Italian bases and the acquisition of anti-missile defence bases in the Czech Republic and Poland, the Balkan developments seem to indicate a new phase in Bush’s global war on terror.

Sofia’s news of advanced war preparations along the Black Sea is backed up by some chilling details. One is the setting up of new refuelling places for US Stealth bombers, which would spearhead an attack on Iran. “The USAF’s positioning of vital refuelling facilities for its B-2 bombers in unusual places, including Bulgaria, falls within the perspective of such an attack.” Novinite named Colonel Sam Gardiner, “a US secret service officer stationed in Bulgaria”, as the source of this revelation.

Curiously, the report noted that although Tony Blair, Bush’s main ally in the global war on terror, would be leaving office, the president had opted to press on with his attack on Iran in April.

I don’t know what Buscheneocon is going to do, but the Feb. 20 deadline for the UN resolution is coming up. Here is a paraphrase of Gardiner’s radio interview, courtesy of ColoradoComet at dkos:

He said that it looked to him like Bush would hit Iran sometime between Feb 21 and Mar 1. All of the elements for an air strike will be in place by then. If the Nimitz deploys out of San Diego in the next week or so, he said it’s a done deal.

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Filed under Bill Kristol: is he smarter than you?, Condoleezza Rice: tell me again, what is her job?, Dick Cheney: Hannibal Lector in disguise?, George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, Iran, John McCain for president of Del Boca Vista, Middle East, Politics

UPDATED with directions; Camel cash about to expire, along with Camel smokers

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Camel Cash

Well, along with emphysema, cancer and bad odor, here’s another reason to stop smoking:

Camel Cash or “C-Note” (C-Note = 1/1000 of an US cent) is a coupon stuck to the back of filtered varieties of Camel cigarettes. It is made to resemble currency and can be exchanged for items from Camel’s Camel Cash catalogue. The artwork has changed many times over the years, and in the past included the face of Joe Camel (the controversial cartoon camel), much in the same way as presidents are featured on American currency. Camel Cash redemption will expire March 31, 2007, and current packs of cigarettes no longer carry Camel Cash coupons.

Incidentally, I have formed a definite opinion that Camel smokers are much more likely to pitch their empty packs into the street than are smokers of other brands. Anybody else wanna weigh in on this question?

My dad was a Camel smoker; then I remember one time he got real sick and quit. After that he worried constantly that he was getting emphysema. I don’t how that doctor put the fear of god into him, but it sure worked.

UPDATE: for directions for seeing the catalog, go to this note. 

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Wal-mart pushing compact fluorescent bulbs

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A good thing from WalMart that I missed during the holidays: they are pushing compact fluorescent bulbs, bigtime:

A compact fluorescent has clear advantages over the widely used incandescent light — it uses 75 percent less electricity, lasts 10 times longer, produces 450 pounds fewer greenhouse gases from power plants and saves consumers $30 over the life of each bulb. But it is eight times as expensive as a traditional bulb, gives off a harsher light and has a peculiar appearance.

As a result, the bulbs have languished on store shelves for a quarter century; only 6 percent of households use the bulbs today.

Which is what makes Wal-Mart’s goal so wildly ambitious. If it succeeds in selling 100 million compact fluorescent bulbs a year by 2008, total sales of the bulbs in the United States would increase by 50 percent, saving Americans $3 billion in electricity costs and avoiding the need to build additional power plants for the equivalent of 450,000 new homes.

That would send shockwaves — some intended, others not — across the lighting industry. Because compact fluorescent bulbs last up to eight years, giant manufacturers, like General Electric and Osram Sylvania, would sell far fewer lights. Because the bulbs are made in Asia, some American manufacturing jobs could be lost. And because the bulbs contain mercury, there is a risk of pollution when millions of consumers throw them away.

………

At the same time that it pressured suppliers, Wal-Mart began testing ways to better market the bulbs. In the past, Wal-Mart had sold them on the bottom shelf of the lighting aisle, so that shoppers had to bend down. In tests that started in February, it gave the lights prime real estate at eye level. Sales soared.

To show customers how versatile the bulbs could be, Wal-Mart began displaying them inside the lamps and hanging fans for sale in its stores. Sales nudged up further.

To explain the benefits of the energy-efficient bulbs, the retailer placed an education display case at the end of the aisle, where it occupied four feet of valuable selling space — an extravagance at Wal-Mart. Sales climbed even higher.

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This is pretty cool. We use these bulbs and like them. Every once in a while you have a fixture that looks a little weird with them, but that is about it. I was not aware of the mercury issue. I will have to figure out what to do with them, but we have only had one burn out.

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Tuesdays at the Rapture: Index rises on earthquake news

The only change this week in the Rapture Index was a bump in category #37,

a strong 8.2 earthquake shakes the Kuril Islands.

Category of the Week:

[In the Bible,] Mark 13:8: that God used earthquakes to show his disapproval of man’s sinfulness. It is wise to look for more earthquake activity as the return of Christ draws near.

Once again, the categories of Liberalism (Democrats take control of US Congress) and Satanic attacks on farm animals remained stable.
The total score of 161 is still in “fasten your seatbelts” range. I somehow don’t think that seatbelts are gonna make any difference, but maybe that’s just me.

I was kind of expecting to see something related to George W. Bush’s warmongering with Iran, but I guess there just isn’t a category suitable for that. I am thinking I will email in a suggestion for a new category: Emptyheaded frat boy and American monarchist from Wyoming given free reign to fuck up the world. I realize this category title is somewhat long, and I will give my consent that they shorten it.

The other possible category that I am gonna suggest is Bush unpopularity/crises. I mean, now that the Libby trial is on, we are seeing more of the ugly, traitorous, corrupt side of the administration, it may be that Bush and Cheney will attempt some sort of “wag the dog” maneuver to divert attention.

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Audio book of the week: Tuesdays with Morrie

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My perspective on the book is not that of a typical listener, because my father, like Morrie, had Lou Gehrig disease. I think it is important to state that, because it might be that others would find Morrie’s story more compelling. But I found most of the story to be boring descriptions of Morrie’s physical condition. Very few insights are actually provided by Morrie, one being “when you’re in bed, you’re dead.” Hardly the stuff of legend. No, unfortunately, Mitch Albom, the sports writer, writes a rather superficial account of Morrie’s impending death. A fair amount of the book describes Mitch Albom’s life and times, in which I have zero interest. I have to give the book a 2, and that is being generous.

Mitch Albom is the author of the book and also the reader. Unfortunately, he is no actor, but he tries to be. His other handicap as a reader is the uncanny resemblance of his voice to that of actor James Woods; the result is very distracting. I give the performance a 2, again that is generous.

Overall, I gave the audio book a 4 out of 8. I can’t recommend it.

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Which will come first: the VP indicted, or institutionalized?

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click to enlarge: one of Cheney’s DUIs

Last week I raised the question of whether the Vice President of the United States is losing his grip.

After his weekend performance, others are asking the same question. Cheney told Wolf Blitzer:

Bottom line is that we’ve had enormous successes, and we will continue to have enormous successes.

Cheney’s statements about Iraq are not rational. Whether he has resumed drinking, or whether he has some organic brain syndrome, or whether he simply thinks he can tell baldfaced lies and get away with it, the man’s actions are not befitting the Vice Presidency.

On another front, testimony in the Scooter Libby case indicates that the Vice President was at the heart of the plot to expose CIA agent Valerie Plame, and also directed Libby’s attempts to cover up the scheme.

The Vice President should resign.

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Fernando Botero’s Abu Ghraib works exhibited at UC Berkeley

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This is something not to miss. The noted Columbian artist adapted his style to the depiction of the tortured prisoners of Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The exhibit is at Doe Library on the UC Berkeley campus, through March.

More than once in looking at Botero’s pictures I thought of Willem de Kooning’s remark that “flesh is the reason oil painting was invented.” With none of de Kooning’s impasto, Botero seems to have tried, and even succeeded occasionally, in reawakening that primal connection and recharging it with moral energy.

Scale in the paintings and drawings also accounts for some of their power. In the largest of them, the bodies approximate life-size, as do some of the figures — a rope-bound, bloodied hand or foot, a snarling dog’s head — isolated on small canvases or pages. (Botero’s attack dogs are true hellhounds.)

I find most compelling the images that put us close to a hooded, bleeding face or a lashed hand curled in desperation, where part of a body stands for a victim’s whole being and fate.
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Iran president has big mouth, NO POWER to back it up

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From Chris Floyd:

The President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, does not control Iran’s armed forces. He does not control Iran’s nuclear program. To be sure, he is a prating, full-of-himself religious crank like George W. Bush, but no matter how inflammatory his rhetoric (some of which has been deliberately mistranslated), even if he picked up the phone tomorrow and ordered an all-out attack on Israel or a barrage of missile strikes on American forces in Iraq or the shut-down of the Straits of Hormuz – nothing would happen. Nothing. In the Iranian system of government, he does not have the power to make any of his rhetoric regarding military and foreign policy come true.

The Bush Administration knows this. The Olmert government knows this. Yet at every turn, they inflate Ahmadinejad into yet another “new Hitler” and pretend that he has dictatorial powers in Iran. But just as his predecessor, Mohammed Khatami, could not make his heartfelt rhetoric about reforming Iran come true, neither can Ahmadinejad do anything at all to actualize whatever fantasies he may mouth.

It might be worth remembering this fact in the coming weeks, as the Bush gang heats up the war fever by waving the Ahmadinejad bogeyman at every opportunity.

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