Thursday, January 8, 2009

Oaktown On Fire

The death of Oscar Grant has ignited protests, mass arrests and outright riots in Oakland. After Grant's funeral, the city has erupted into further violence.
The Oakland Police Department made 105 arrests, including a mass arrest of about 80 people at 11 p.m., said Officer Jeff Thomason. The charges include inciting a riot, vandalism, assault on a police officer and unlawful assembly, he said.

One officer was injured, but not seriously, Thomason said.

Footage from CNN affiliate KTVU-TV showed demonstrators rampaging through the streets of Oakland, California, protesting the death of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old father who was killed on New Year's Day in a crowded train station.

Some protesters lay on their stomachs, saying they were showing solidarity with Grant, who was shot in the back as he was face-down on the floor at a train station.

Several witnesses caught the incident on camera, and there have been numerous demonstrations this week. The protests turned violent Wednesday night after Grant's funeral and following an announcement by authorities that Officer Johannes Mehserle, who is implicated in the shooting, had turned in his resignation.

Videos from witnesses show Mehserle shoot Grant in the back as another Bay Area Rapid Transit officer kneels on Grant. A BART spokesman has said there is more to the story than what can be seen on the grainy images.
Shot in the back while face down on the ground, with a second officer kneeling on his back?

That's not "necessary force to restrain a man resisting arrest." That is the execution of someone you believe to be no more than a common animal by someone supposed to be protecting the people.

The riots are tragic and the people of Oakland are the ones suffering. But there is no excuse for this. As I said...this was an execution.

HuffPo's Neal Rodriguez has more.

Politics Of Dancing

Over at Hullabaloo, Digby takes a look at the Congressional reaction to Obama's stimulus package.
I can't imagine why Obama should be having any problems with any Democrat on a stimulus package, unless they honestly are too stupid to understand the scope of the problem or are so reflexively conservative that they blurt out Republican cant without even considering what they are saying. But they are Blue Dogs, so I suppose that both of these things are true.
Replacing them should really be Obama's top priority, along with Harry Reid. Nancy is still bad, but at least she seems to understand her friggin job is to get Obama's stuff passed to try to save the country from a ten-year depression.
The Republican response to the speech this morning was instructive. They agreed to work with the president on a stimulus as long as it isn't as big as it needs to be, as long as it consists of more tax cuts than spending, and as long as those tax cuts don't just go to the middle class and poor but are also more tilted to business and wealthy investors.

So, the markers have been laid down and any compromise to get to 80 votes will have to be somewhere between the plan Obama floated and these Republican parameters.
And once again, Obama appears to be playing to lose. Only problem is, he's not the one who will ultimately lose.

Why are we worrying about what the Republicans think at this point? Why are they controlling the narrative in Washington when there is a Democrat on his way to the White House in less than two weeks, and Democrats running the entire Congress?

Pardon my French, but when Obama seems to be bowing and scraping and doing the "yassa, massa" thing to the friggin GOP, it really, really pisses me off.

Lead like you won the election, Barry.

[UPDATE] And the Village Idiots are already snickering at Poor Barry Who Can't Control His Own Party.
One high-level Democrat with strong ties to Feinstein, who spoke on condition of anonymity, characterized the senator's statements on Panetta this week as "a show of strength, a brush-back pitch, from a powerful chair who can be helpful or hurtful" to Obama.

"She feels strongly about protocol," Feinstein's friend said. "As chair of the Intelligence Committee, she expected a courtesy call, especially if it was going to be outside the norm."

"If she did not respond with a show of strength, she'd be seen as weak," the insider said. "This is not the time for weak leaders. And she is not the kind of wallflower that would simply turn the other cheek with this kind of offense."

The more I see, the more I am convinced that the Democrats are going to be the ones that wreck Obama's agenda, not the Republicans. At this point, the GOP just has to show up and keep their mouths shut, and watch Feinstein, Conyers, Reid, and Pelosi take turns tearing him down while the country burns.

Lest we forget, the same powerful Democrats we're counting on now are the same Democrats who failed to do the right thing again and again and again over the last 8 years. It's not that they didn't want to stand up to's because most of them thought Bush and the GOP were right all along.

The Right Hand Bombeth, The Left Hand Bombeth Too

Everything you need to know about the Israel-Gaza conflict summed up right here.
Israel on Wednesday approved an even tougher war on Hamas, warning residents to flee southern Gaza ahead of planned bombardments of cross-border tunnels, as the Palestinian death toll passed 700.

After a brief lull to allow Gaza's beleaguered population to hunt for food and fuel, Defence Minister Ehud Barak was given the green light by the security cabinet to order a deeper offensive into Gaza towns as part of the campaign to halt Hamas cross-border rocket attacks.

But Barak has also decided to send an envoy to Cairo on Thursday to get details on an Egyptian ceasefire plan, which secured widespread international backing amid mounting concern about the scale of the civilian casualties.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he hoped the talks would "lead to conditions which will allow" the end of the Israeli offensive which began on December 27 and has so far killed 702 Palestinians and wounded 3,100, Gaza medics say.

Olmert chaired the security cabinet meeting in Jerusalem which "approved continuing the ground offensive, including a third stage that would broaden it by pushing deeper into populated areas," a senior defence official said.

The final decision will be left with Barak, the official added.
Approving a bloodier, nastier third phase to the Gaza invasion while sending a peace delegation to Egypt with the expectation that the former will mean the latter is basically waiting to accept Hamas' unconditional surrender.

When of course that doesn't happen, more bombs and more deaths will occur. "Stupid Palestinians! Why won't you stop making us destroy you?"

A better question is why won't the US make Israel stop.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

How do you know if your economy is screwed? Guess who is issuing warnings about missing all fourth quarter profits and sales estimates?

You got it. Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart warned its quarterly profit would miss analysts' expectations and reported comparable December sales below forecasts Thursday, signaling that even discount retailers are feeling the pinch of the economic slowdown.

The world's largest retailer said it expects to earn 91 to 94 cents a share for its fiscal fourth quarter, compared with previous guidance of $1.03 to $1.07 a share give in November. On average, analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters predicted a profit of $1.06 a share.

Sales at stores open a least a year rose 1.7 percent to $46.509 billion last month, but were below expectations of a 2.8 percent rise. For January, the company expects same-store sales to be flat to up 2 percent.

Shares of Wal-Mart sank 6.75 percent in before-hours trading.

If Wallyworld is treading water, the American consumer is dead broke...and with it our entire economy.

You have no idea how bad 2009 is going to be. Truly.

Harrying Harry

My personal opinion of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is that he's pretty much the least effective Democrat to hold that position ever, and that the complete lack of respect for him as a player in Washington means it's long past time for him to be replaced. Not only has Harry folded on every major piece of legislation in the Senate over the last two years to Bush, the events of the last month have cemented the fact that he's viewed as a joke by his own party. Firedoglake's Jane Hamsher agrees.
Reid looks like a cat in a room full of rocking chairs on Meet the Press. Nobody knows how much Fitz has (not even Fitz, who is still trying to transcribe his tapes) or how much he'll need to reveal to prove his case, so Reid says he "doesn't remember" his conversation with Blago, but calls Blago a liar anyway. When asked if he supported Jesse Jackson Jr. for the Senate seat, he says he would support him. And admits that there's "room to negotiate" on Burris.

Burris appears at the Senate on Tuesday. Gets turned away. Could Reid look any worse?


Obama stares down DiFi, appoints Panetta to the CIA, and the NYT breaks the story before she's told (but Ron Wyden already knows). DiFi's fuming.

Despite having been one of the 50 Senators who signed Reid's letter saying Burris would never be seated, she announces that as the outgoing head of the Rules Committee she thinks the Senate has no choice but to seat him.

(Good timing, because Charlie Rangel is already complaining about the Rules Committee dragging its feet.)

Reid can't hold his own caucus in line. Blames Rahm. Gives interview saying "I don't work for Barack Obama."


WaPo: "Burris Backs Reid Into a Corner."

A seventy-one year old dude who hasn't held office for 14 years, appointed by a crook, takes the Senate Majority Leader to the cleaners.

Reid is a red state senator, up for re-election in 2010 and under pressure from the right, who is already making noise about appeasing Republicans who aren't going to be appeased. He's a hazard to Obama's agenda, which is why leading Senate Democrats tried to ease him out as Majority Leader last year.

There's a reason why nobody's looking to Senate Democrats for leadership or even very much cooperation with Obama's planned legislation. That reason is Harry Reid. He has one job: get Obama's legislation through the Senate. If he cannot do that, and there's every reason to believe that he will fail miserably at this task, then he needs to be replaced. Period.

Honestly, can somebody explain to me how a Republican became the Dems' leader in the Senate? All he has to do is say "We're with the President on this" and then peel off like two GOP Senators to avoid a filibuster. If he can't even do that, he's done.

And so is the country.


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