Saturday, April 18, 2009

Let's Hear it for New Beginnings


President Obama is spreading a little North American good will and cordiality among former sworn enemies of the criminal Bush regime in South America. It's all part of the President's exceedingly successful effort to mend frayed relations between the United States and the rest of the world. This weekend it's his "good neighbor policy" with our friends to the South and the Caribbean, one that could actually be worth more than the irony and suspicion such slogans have been met with in the past by Latin Americans. The first glimmers of a thaw in relations with Cuba are in the offing, a recognition that nearly 50 years of a U.S. embargo against that tiny island nation has done nothing to improve the lives of Americans or Cubans over the decades, much less our relationship with the rest of the hemisphere's nations, all of whom have normal relations with Cuba.

And so, the President made the first gracious gesture by approaching Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, and shaking his hand. President Chavez returned the gesture by making a beeline for Mr. Obama, who was seated at the other end of the room, and presenting him the book, Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent, by Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano. The 1971 book details centuries of exploitation of Latin America by Europeans and the United States. Unlike the moron who preceded him, President Obama is a student of history and well aware of the centuries of U.S. exploitation of Latin America, which began in earnest with the Monroe Doctrine. Significantly, Chavez's gesture was indicative of just how much this craven history is ingrained in the psyche of Latin Americans. To say Latin Americans have ambivalent feelings and a love-hate relationship with the United States is to put it mildly, in many cases. In fact, one reason Fidel Castro remains popular in the democratic republics of Latin America is that he's been thumbing his nose at the mighty U.S. imperialist behemoth to his north from his tiny island-state of Cuba for the past 50 years. Such anti-American chutzpah trumps ideology every time with Latin Americans.

Besides, let's face it, Hugo Chavez articulated what plenty of politicians around the world and in this country were feeling but dared not say, when he told the UN General Assembly in 2006 that "the devil came here yesterday," referring to George W. Bush. "It still smells of sulphur today," he added, waving his hand as if to dissipate the odor.

If he called George W. Bush the devil, perhaps he has cause, ya think?

Here's a leader who was elected president of Venezuela in 1998, twice reelected in 2000 and 2006, and in 2002 foiled a CIA coup attempt authorized by Bush and Cheney against him. Hugo Chavez has replaced Fidel Castro as the American right's Latin American boogieman, now that Fidel is languishing in a Cuban hospital wearing a Nike track suit and blogging entertaining anti-American screeds (not so much now since Obama became president). Despite the right wing's hysterical anti-socialist/communist phobias aimed at President Chavez, the fact is the leader of the "Bolivarian Revolution" has never committed a single hostile act against the United States. That is, unless the wingnuts consider -- which they did -- giving poor people in the U.S. home heating oil at affordable, subsidized rates, a sinister Chavez plot to undermine this country from within. As we witnessed in those bizarre Teabagging protests a few days ago, it seems the spirit of McCarthyism and unbridled xenophobic paranoia is never far below the surface in this country.

Finally, President Obama respectfully greeted the president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, who had the audacity to harshly condemn the imperialism of foreign capital, mostly American, that had been plundering his country -- the poorest in South America -- for centuries until he was swept into office by a populist democratic uprising and put an end to the gringos' chokehold over Bolivia's rich natural resources. For one thing, Bolivia sits atop the world's largest reserves of Lithium, the essential mineral for the batteries that will fuel the cars of the future, holding forth the promise of a bright future for the long-suffering Bolivian people.

And so let's hear it for new beginnings, and a rekindling of friendships among peoples that should never be enemies. Today, Lucifer resides in Dallas and that stink of sulphur is indeed finally dissipating, to be replaced by the competing aromas of a delicious Latin American churrasco and, dare I say it, a good ole Texas barbecue?




You do the math

From a great post by Matt Taibbi about the teabaggers:

Oh, and there’s one other thing. I heard today from Steve Wamhoff of Citizens for Tax Justice. He had an interesting tidbit to offer on the teabagging movement. According to his research, 39% of respondents with incomes below $30,000 told the Gallup agency that they felt that federal income tax levels were “too high.” Which is interesting, because only 32% of respondents in that income category will pay any federal income taxes at all on their 2008 income.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) is in a little bit of hot water as of late, after it came out (through amazing detective work, as Burr himself admitted to it) that when the financial crisis first hit last year, he encouraged his wife to take as much cash out of the bank as she could. Well, via the ATM. He wasn't crazy enough to suggest that she, y'know, go to a teller and withdraw money (that's so 1980's anyway). Now, he clearly did this because he saw the risk of financial collapse, had a brain cramp (or was just an idiot) and forgot about the FDIC, but didn't want to represent his constituents any and maybe help them too. Fine. He's an idiotic, selfish, greedy bastard, but we knew that already (hint: he's a Republican). It gets better.

From CNN: But a NRSC spokesman defended the remark, "It's little wonder Americans want to keep their hard earned money away from the grips of Washington."

Because that was the real financial risk, right? It's not that credit was frozen, but that the black man who stole the presidency was also going to go to banks in the middle of the night and take your money away from you. Yegads, these people are stupid.

It's not just Texas

Welcome Georgia to the crazy party.

But on April 1, your Georgia Senate did threaten by a vote of 43-1 to secede from and even disband the United States.

It was not an April Fool’s joke.

Read the text of the bill. It's an exercise in bureaucratic insanity.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

From The Land of Lincoln: A Shout-Out to Texas Gov. Rick Perry

This is dedicated to our favorite secessionist, Governor Rick Perry of Texas: Congratulations, Ricky … you beat out Sarah Palin’s “First Dude”!

The Band

PS – Oh Governor Perry … I think President Obama of Illinois just did a flyover Texas on his way to Mexico.

Sniff, sniff … Buh - Bye.

A Teabagger With COJONES (Not Tea Bags ...)

Here's a gentleman speaking truth to ignorance, stupidity, racism, hatred, bigotry, you know, the MAINSTREAM Faux News demographic of brain-addled rednecks:

Hey, hey, right wingers, as KO said, "ya just got PUNKED!"

To the guy in the video, I salute you, sir.

An aside to Cavuto, Sean "Baby Jesus" Hannity, and the rest of you ignorant guttersnipes: STOP LYING. Don't you know you can't get away with your wingnut bullshit any more?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Stay classy, teabaggers

h/t DailyKos

Good point

The local paper has a little write-up on the teabagging going on today in good-old Champaign-Urbana. This group seems (at least from the organizers) to be more of the libertarian (government is just bad) variety, rather than springing from the Fox/Hannity/Beck (all liberals are evil) brand of insanity. Anyway, at the end of the article, in which the protesters call for an end to all income taxes and a reduction in government, someone leaves this priceless comment:

"I dig the irony of tax protesters using a public park."

Says it all really, doesn't it?

"Andy Martin"

I have posted on this cretin before, but he's back bloviating on Faux News.

The right-wing blogger and frequent Hannity guest known as "Andy Martin" is really Anthony Martin-Trigona. That name is familiar to anyone in Illinois, and particularly those of us who went to the University of Illinois. He was a Champaign-Urbana slumlord, and like me, received a law degree from the University of Illinois. However, Mr. Martin-Trigona was denied a license to practice on character and fitness grounds. State psychiatrists described him as having a "moderately severe character defect manifested by well-documented ideation with a paranoid flavor and a grandiose character."

He is also a perennial political candidate, running for every office around. He really imploded in Florida when he named his campaign committee for a state legislative run "Anthony R. Martin-Trigona Congressional Campaign to Exterminate Jew Power in America."

THAT'S your Faux News "journalist."

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Two things for which there are no rational explanations

I have never seen a cogent argument on either of the following points. If you have one, please let me know:

1) The U.S. policy toward Cuba and

2) LEGAL opposition to same-sex marriage.

And remember, as every teacher throughout history has stated--ANSWER THE QUESTION ASKED. I'm not asking if we should give a wet sloppy kiss to the Castros. I am only asking if you can justify treating Cuba differently from countries ruled by unpleasant self-important despots? AND if government is sanctioning relationships between TWO CONSENTING ADULTS, please justify limiting THAT sanction to heterosexual relationships.

Follow-up to the Thomas post below

I always felt that the judiciary (culminating with the Supreme Court) was to protect the minority and the individual. The majority gets its voice through the election of Congress and the President, but the Constitution was created with explicit protections for the minority, and it's up to SCOTUS to do that. When the judges disregard that role, the rights of the individual become endangered.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Um, "Teabagging" Wingnuts: This Is a Family Show, right? RIGHT?

Apart from the weird psycho-craziness of the participants in so-called "teabagging" protests, presumably, irrationally, against President Obama's rollback of tax rates to those of the 90s Clinton years; apart from the usual regurgitation of ethnocentric paranoia and conspiracy gone wild -- President Obama wasn't born in the U.S., he's a socialist, he's a Muslim, he's a terrorist, etc. etc. -- the most perversely hilarious thing about these book-burning fanatics ("let's burn all the books about evolution," screams a madwoman), these so-called "TEA-BAGGERS" whose idiotic protests are based on the ignorant misinterpretation of their own history regarding the Boston Tea Party ... IS


A Little background from Paul Krugman:

"One way to get a good sense of the current state of the G.O.P., and also to see how little has really changed, is to look at the “tea parties” that have been held in a number of places already, and will be held across the country on Wednesday. These parties — antitaxation demonstrations that are supposed to evoke the memory of the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution — have been the subject of considerable mockery, and rightly so. But everything that critics mock about these parties has long been standard practice within the Republican Party.

it turns out that the tea parties don’t represent a spontaneous outpouring of public sentiment. They’re AstroTurf (fake grass roots) events, manufactured by the usual suspects. In particular, a key role is being played by FreedomWorks, an organization run by Richard Armey, the former House majority leader, and supported by the usual group of right-wing billionaires. And the parties are, of course, being promoted heavily by Fox News."

Nuance, damn glad to see you!

In one of its first major tests, the Obama administration passed with flying colors. It is quite refreshing to have a president who does not see the world in simplistic black and white terms.
First of all, the result could not have been better. The hostage captain freed, the hijackers killed or captured, the vessel safely back in port.

But beyond that, the administration acted as if they understood this was a complicated situation, in which piracy has its roots in the Somalian civil war and the lack of an effective government.

Nice job, Mr. President, well done.

Get off my lawn!

The evening was devoted to the Bill of Rights, but Justice Thomas did not embrace the document, and he proposed a couple of alternatives.

‘Today there is much focus on our rights," Justice Thomas said. "Indeed, I think there is a proliferation of rights."

“I am often surprised by the virtual nobility that seems to be accorded those with grievances,” he said. “Shouldn’t there at least be equal time for our Bill of Obligations and our Bill of Responsibilities?”

Now, I agree that many Americans have no idea that there is a concept such as shared responsibility or the social compact, but I do believe that this man has been given the solemn responsibility of helping to protect the rights of the weakest and least powerful among us, and is supposed to do so utilizing the Constitution as his guiding document. I've read the Constitution a number of times, and I would assume that Justice Thomas has a copy somewhere, and I've missed the sections on Obligations and Responsibilities.

In case you're curious about the kind of world he imagines:

“Or how can you not reminisce about a childhood where you began each day with the Pledge of Allegiance as little kids lined up in the schoolyard and then marched in two by two with a flag and a crucifix in each classroom?”

Donald Payne, Congressman MORON

One day after the successful rescue of Captain Phillips from the Somali pirates who held him hostage, a daring operation by U.S. Special Forces with use of deadly force authorized by President Obama – ONE DAY after this occurred – Congressman Donald Payne of NJ flew into the lion's den in Somalia, according to his spokesperson, because he “felt it was important to go to Mogadishu and see first-hand what was happening there.”

Donny Payne's Excellent (NOT!) Adventure

WHAT? Don't you KNOW, Donny? (This reminds me of that lunatic woman who jumped into a polar bear enclosure, swam gleefully toward the bears and got her ass mauled, barely escaping with her life.)

As if he DIDN'T, the Congressman came under mortar attack. According to Congressman Moron’s spokesperson, "All we know is his plane was fired on and of course we feel it was in retaliation."


"One mortar landed at the airport when Payne's plane was due to fly and five others after he left and no one was hurt," a police officer at Mogadishu airport said.

Here's one of MANY questions for Congressman Moron: What did you get to see “first-hand” that your government doesn't already know … Donny?

We KNOW enough of what’s happening in Somalia not to go there on a lark: it’s a LAWLESS country, Donny … Didn't you know?

Piracy has been a profitable criminal enterprise for these high seas thugs for several years … Did you even KNOW that Somalia is a DANGEROUS failed state, Donny?

Here are a few more BASIC questions for Congressman Donny Payne:

Did you CLEAR your trip to Somalia with the State Department?

Did you get the LATEST briefing from the State or Defense departments on the security situation in Somalia for U.S. citizens prior to entering Somalia?

Based on this imbecile’s rash actions, I’m inclined to believe he did not, because if he did they would certainly have told him DON’T GO or turn his ass back around and get out of there. Now we learn the State Dept. was informed of Payne's ill-advised trip and "discouraged" him from going. That's diplomatese for don't go; get your ass outta there.

When asked whether an escalation of hostilities by the pirates is likely after this successful Navy operation which resulted in three pirates being killed and one taken into custody, a defense analyst said YES. According to the latest news reports Somali pirates “vowed retaliation” for this action and named the U.S. forces their “No. 1 enemy.”


Diplomacy and foreign policy is the province of the executive branch of government, NOT the legislative branch. Just imagine the dire consequences had Congressman Payne gotten himself killed or taken hostage in Mogadishu. What had been a successful rescue operation would have escalated into a MAJOR international incident at a time the President needs to concentrate on the economy and not on a freelance jackass congressman.

Donny, if you’re wondering why the American people hold Congress in such contempt, take a look in the mirror. Those in Congress living entire careers in a Washington glass bubble filled with regal prerogatives and privileges not accessible to regular citizens lose sight of the REAL world. Like Congressman Leo Ryan, who was tragically killed in Jonestown in those horrible events in Guyana, Donny Payne naively seems to believe Congressional prerogatives will somehow protect him in extremely dangerous situations in countries where the rule of law is literally a foreign concept. Donny, you should know better than to drink the Kool-Aid!

MEMO to Speaker Nancy Pelosi:

Please strip Congressman Donald Payne of his subcommittee chairmanship. His incredibly bad judgment in pursuing freelance diplomacy in Mogadishu has not only endangered him and those in his entourage, but most of all, our country, by preempting the President's and Secretary of State’s ability to pursue U.S. foreign policy interests.