Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Heart Of Darkness

Paging Colonel Kurtz...Colonel Walter E. Kurtz, please pick up the white courtesy phone. The Wingnuts are calling. NewsMax.com's John L. Perry fantasizes darkly:
There is a remote, although gaining, possibility America's military will intervene as a last resort to resolve the "Obama problem." Don't dismiss it as unrealistic.

America isn't the Third World. If a military coup does occur here it will be civilized. That it has never happened doesn't mean it wont. Describing what may be afoot is not to advocate it.
Wow, now isn't THAT a copout. Suuuuure you're not advocating treason. That's what an armed military coup taking over the leadership of America is, after all...but because this is a nutcase Winger fantasy, nobody gets hurt but the bad guys.
Imagine a bloodless coup to restore and defend the Constitution through an interim administration that would do the serious business of governing and defending the nation. Skilled, military-trained, nation-builders would replace accountability-challenged, radical-left commissars. Having bonded with his twin teleprompters, the president would be detailed for ceremonial speech-making.

Military intervention is what Obama's exponentially accelerating agenda for "fundamental change" toward a Marxist state is inviting upon America. A coup is not an ideal option, but Obama's radical ideal is not acceptable or reversible.

Unthinkable? Then think up an alternative, non-violent solution to the Obama problem. Just don't shrug and say, "We can always worry about that later."

In the 2008 election, that was the wistful, self-indulgent, indifferent reliance on abnegation of personal responsibility that has sunk the nation into this morass.

"You know, if we HAVE to have a magically bloodless coup where we take the military, relive the President of his power at gunpoint, and create an interim government, why I'm sure these military patriots will surrender that power back to the people in a just and peaceful manner."

Because world history is full of examples of that over the last 4,000 years. Jesus.

I really don't know what's more frightening, casually rattling off the inference that our military is packed full of officers and generals ready to execute a plan for high treason against the United States of America, or the completely moronic failure of this guy to understand even the most basic tenets of the history of military might over the last four millennia: Power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely.

But this is the discourse our neocons have, and Perry brilliantly represents the dichotomy that is Homo Wingnuttius: on one hand, he claims to have a inner knowledge of our military to the point where as an expert, he believes a coup is not only possible but necessary, and at the same time he demonstrates such a laughable lack of even a rudimentary grasp of military history that he and his "expertise" should be laughed out of the room by any sane and thinking individual. He perfectly encapsulates the neocon of the last decade: somebody who through his own claims demonstrates complete and total ignorance of the subject matter he claims to be opining on in capacity as an authority.

Better to ask a rock about high-energy particle physics. The rock at least has the sense to keep its mouth shut, putting it ahead of the Neocon.

And yet these people are taken seriously by the Village and terrify the Democrats.

Gaming The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court may take up California's controversial law banning violent video game sales to minors, one that was ruled unconstitutional by a federal court before the law ever even went into effect.
The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to discuss today whether it will hear arguments on an appeal of a California videogame law that would ban the sale of certain games to anyone under 18 and required game manufacturers to label violent games with a four-inch square marker with “18” printed on it.

This is the first time the country’s top court has considered a case involving sales restrictions within the video game industry.

Despite being signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005, the controversial proposition never took effect. A U.S. District Court blocked it after the gaming industry sued the state, citing First Amendment concerns.

In February of 2009, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the law violated the rights of minors under both the First and 14th Amendments.

California appealed the decision to the Supreme Court in May.

Justices were scheduled to meet Tuesday in a closed conference, where they will decide whether to put the case on the docket. A public information officer at the court said the orders list, which will either grant the request for oral arguments (and move the case forward) or deny it with no further comment (letting the lower court ruling stand), is expected to be issued as soon as Wednesday.

It'll be interesting to see how this one turns out. The video game industry is hurting badly, and should the California case pass muster, you'd better believe other states will follow suit or even national laws will be on the books by 2010.

That will blow a pretty fatal hole in the already struggling console market. Not good.

Max Baucus Returns, Part 7

Democrats Jay Rockefeller and Chuck Schumer put up a pair of public option amendments to the Baucus plan in the Finance Committee today, and Maxie killed them both.
The amendments by Democratic Sens. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and Charles Schumer of New York were opposed by all 10 Republicans on the committee and a few Democrats, including committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus of Montana.

Baucus explained that he liked much about the idea of a public option but that he knew a health care bill containing the provision would fail to win enough support in the full Senate to overcome a Republican filibuster.

"I fear if this provision is in the bill, it will hold back meaningful reform this year," Baucus said.

Let's review, class:

Democrats will have 60 votes once Ted Kennedy's replacement is sworn in.

Democrats will need 60 votes to beat a GOP filibuster.

There are Democrats that will not vote for cloture to stop the GOP filibuster on health care reform if a public option is included, one that will save Americans money. One of those Senators, and it only takes one, is Max Baucus. He was not the only one.

This is why millions of Americans will not get meaningful health care reform this year or any other year, because your Congress is owned by insurance companies.

What do you suppose voters should do about Max Baucus?

Class dismissed.

[UPDATE 4:53 PM] Your extra credit work is from Pam Spaulding.

[UPDATE 5:09 PM] D-Day runs down the roll call:

Here's the vote on the Rockefeller amendment: Rockefeller, Aye; Conrad, No; Bingaman, Aye; Kerry, Aye; Lincoln, No; Wyden, Aye; Schumer, Aye; Stabenow, Aye; Cantwell, Aye; Bill Nelson, No; Menendez, Aye; Carper, No; Grassley, No; Hatch, No, Snowe; No; Kyl, No; Bunning, No; Crapo, No; Roberts, No; Ensign, No; Enzi, No; Cornyn, No; Baucus, No.

8 Ayes, 15 Nos. Conrad, Lincoln, Bill Nelson, Carper and Baucus have been ferreted out. We'll see if anyone flips on the Schumer "level playing field" amendment. Given the debate on the prior amendment, I'd say that MAYBE Bill Nelson could go that route. Probably not anyone else.

Now we know which Democrats want to protect the insurance industry at the expense of people.
And on that Schumer Amendment?
..here's the vote: Schumer Aye; Rockefeller Aye; Bingaman Aye; Kerry Aye; Cantwell Aye; Stabenow Aye; Wyden Aye; Menendez Aye; Bill Nelson Aye; Baucus No; Conrad No; Carper Aye; Lincoln No; All R's no.

So Carper and Nelson flipped. Amendment fails 10-13. Only Lincoln, Conrad and Baucus against it.
Tom Carper of Delaware, Bill Nelson of Florida, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, and Max Baucus of Montana, folks. Owned by the insurance companies. They should be disowned by voters.

Quote Of The Week

Sully on Sister Sarah:
She remains the hood ornament for a marketing campaign that now passes for the conservative movement.
When he's on, brother he's dead on.

No Longer Buying What You're Selling, Mike

Poor Michael Steele. He holds a conference call with reporters to attack the President on health care (which is not news, because the GOP is irrelevant on health care reform by their own admission), and then makes the mistake of attacking the President on the Olympics (which the Village, being the Village, thinks is news.)
Dems are now seizing on that as proof that reporters don’t believe the GOP has credibility on health care, or at least have no interest in Steele’s views on it.

“It speaks directly to the RNC’s complete lack of credibility on health insurance reform that they would hold a conference call on health care and no one was at all curious about how Republicans felt about health care,” emails DNC spokesperson Brandi Hoffine. “I guess that’s what happens when you have no plan.”

To be fair, the Republicans who might better be questioned about health care are those with a direct say over it: Members of Congress. And Steele did get in some health care licks, hammering Obama’s reform plans as imposing untold costs on “businesses and families that will not hasten recovery but prolong recession.”

It’s also worth noting that the GOP’s health care opinions just aren’t relevant. The final proposal will pass with a handful of Republicans at best. It’s up to Dems.

But Dems counter that the RNC billed the call as being about health care — and couldn’t even get a reporter to ask Steele for his views about the big topic of the day.

I don't honestly know what's worse, the Village, or how completely awful Michael Steele is at playing their games.

[UPDATE 3:50 PM] Speaking of attacking the President on the Olympics, why do the GOP insist on saying idiotic stuff like this?
"I think it's baffling that the president has time to travel to Copenhagen," said Sen. Kit Bond, R-Missouri. "[Obama's] got a lot of responsibilities. His number one responsibility is to keep our country safe."
Yes, because at this point in George W. Bush's first term we had just been hit by the worst terror attack in our nation's history. I'm going to say in comparison, Obama's doing a great job on that.

No Longer The Big Cats

The Bengals and the Lions now have better records than my 0-3 Carolina Panthers after last night's interception debacle cost them the game on MNF.

I like coach John Fox. But I think he just lost his job last night. The bye week Charlotte media is not gonna be happy.

Ray Ray Versus The Birthers

Rachel Maddow takes on the "Birthermercial" I talked about last week.

Classic watching here.

The Loyal Opposition

Following up on last night's post, the GOP has pretty much given up on civility towards Obama as GOP Rep. Trent Franks proves:
A Republican member of the House of Representatives accused President Barack Obama of being "an enemy of humanity" during a conservative values forum this past weekend.

In a speech Saturday before the How to Take Back America conference, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) made comments that went far beyond the limits of traditional White House criticism. At one point, Franks demanded that Obama release his birth certificate to prove his constitutionally eligibility to hold office. The bluntest charge, however, centered on the president's position on abortion, which the congressman derided as "insane" and godless.

That's nice. At this point Obama is the Enemy and must be dealt with. Sitting Republican members of Congress are publicly calling him inhuman. Trent Franks's exact words:
"Obama's first act as president of any consequence, in the middle of a financial meltdown, was to send taxpayers' money overseas to pay for the killing of unborn children in other countries," said Frank. "Now, I got to tell you, if a president will do that, there's almost nothing that you should be surprised at after that. We shouldn't be shocked that he does all these other insane things. A president that has lost his way that badly, that has no ability to see the image of God in these little fellow human beings, if he can't do that right, then he has no place in any station of government and we need to realize that he is an enemy of humanity."
Now I ask you, if a sitting Democrat would have said that about Bush, that Democrat would have a firestorm crammed so far up their ass they'd be spitting charcoal. But Republicans saying Obama is an enemy of humanity?

No problem. Hey, at some point a liberal said something bad about Bush, so it's okay.

North Of The Border

Sen. Byron Dorgan is tossing about lit sticks of dynamite into the Baucus plan's deal with Big Pharma, and I for one am willing to supply the matches.
A Senate Democratic leader is hoping to blow up the deal reached between the White House, drug makers and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), by introducing an amendment on the floor to allow prescription drugs to be re-imported from Canada.

It's one of the simplest ways to reduce health care costs but was ruled out by the agreement, which limits Big Pharma's contribution to health care reform to $80 billion over ten years.

North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan, a member of Democratic leadership, isn't a party to that bargain. "Senator Dorgan intends to offer an amendment to the health reform bill and his expectation is that it will be one of the first amendments considered," his spokesman Justin Kitsch told HuffPost in an e-mail. "Prescription drug importation is an immediate way to put downward pressure on health care costs. It has bipartisan support, and has been endorsed by groups such as the National Federation of Independent Businesses and AARP."

U.S. patients pay far more than the rest of the world for prescription drugs. The Canadian government keeps prices down by using its purchasing power to negotiate for lower rates. Dorgan wants American consumers in on the deal.

A bill to allow re-importation -- S. 1232 - has 30 cosponsors, several Republicans among them, including Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, John Thune (S.D.) and David Vitter (La.).

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the bill would result in $50 billion in direct savings over the next decade, with $10.6 billion of that being savings to the federal government.

The problem is that $50 billion is going to Big Pharma, and that's just a small slice of the pie for the drug industry that they are expecting to get.

Threatening to cut off that windfall is going to spark a rather nasty battle, but it's one that needs to be decided and decided now. Good for Byron Dorgan.

A Blue Streak In The Bluegrass State

Here in KY, the buzz is all about Lt. Gov Dan Mongiardo (and current Democratic candidate for Jim Bunning's Senate seat) tore into current Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, as Bluegrass Politics reports.
Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo used profanity as he criticized Gov. Steve Beshear and his support of Mongiardo’s U.S. Senate candidacy in a recording posted last week on the Internet.

In the recording, which was placed on YouTube by someone using the name “senrace2010,” Mongiardo is heard saying he is so frustrated with Beshear that he is “close to saying f— it all. I do not need this job. I do not need the U.S. Senate.”

Mongiardo is also heard saying that Beshear, who has endorsed Mongiardo, will be remembered as the state’s “worst” governor and that a “blowup” is coming.

Mongiardo spokesman Kim Geveden said the audio tape was “edited” and that Mongiardo “strongly supports” Beshear.

“He supports him now and he supports him for reelection in 2011,” Geveden said in a statement. “He believes Governor Beshear has provided strong leadership and a steady hand during some of the most difficult times in our Commonwealth’s history.

Geveden declined to answer specific questions about the veracity of the tape, including when and where it might have been recorded.

Somewhere, KY AG and Mongiardo primary opponent Jack Conway is laughing his ass off.

You Say Potato, I Say War Crimes

A UN report on last winter's Israeli attacks into Gaza holds nothing back, suggesting Tel Aviv has committed war crimes against the Palestinians.
Israeli officials condemned Tuesday a scathing United Nations report that accused the nation of war crimes in its military offensive into Gaza.

Palestinian officials applauded the report, which was presented at a U.N. meeting, and urged U.N. members to address the alleged crimes documented in the report.

In the report, released earlier this month, a U.N. group accused Israel of committing "actions amounting to war crimes, possibly crimes against humanity" during its military incursion into Gaza from December 27 to January 18.

The group, called the U.N. Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, is headed by South African judge Richard Goldstone.

Goldstone presented the 500-plus page report the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva Tuesday.

"The lack of accountability for war crimes and possible crimes against humanity has reached a crisis point," Goldstone said Tuesday. "This is the time of action."

Naturally, the Obama administration isn't happy, but they stopped short of full condemnation of the report.
The U.S. representative, Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner, said some of the recommendations in the report were "deeply flawed" and called for Israel and Palestinian authorities to be allowed to finish conducting their own investigations before passing judgment.
Translation: the White House needs some time in order to talk down Russia and China, who are both satisfied with the report. Any serious action against Israel is inconceivable, even Obama will assure any sanctions will be vetoed by the United States.

But accusations of war crimes by the UN is a deadly serious thing, and the report pulls no punches:

The report claims that the Israeli Defense Forces "failed to take feasible precautions required by international law to avoid or minimize loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects."

The U.N. report also said Israel fired the chemical agent white phosphorous in civilian areas, intentionally fired upon hospitals using high-explosive artillery shells, and failed to provide effective warnings to civilians or U.N. workers before attacks. It also claims that Israel used Palestinian civilians as human shields and deliberately attacked Palestinian food supplies in Gaza.

The report recommends that the U.N. Security Council require the government of Israel to launch appropriate independent investigations into the findings of the report within three months. The findings also recommend that the alleged Israeli war crimes be explored by the International Criminal Court's prosecutor.

The findings also call on Palestinian leadership to investigate alleged war crimes, for militants to respect humanitarian law, and for the release of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit on humanitarian grounds.

A spokeswoman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said that a resolution on the issue could be drafted by the human rights council by Friday.
In other words, this is a serious problem for Obama, and an even more serious problem for Israel. How Tel Aviv reacts to this will be anyone's guess, but reaction of the Wingers I can tell you will include cries of "pervasive anti-Semitism throughout the UN" for daring to say that using Willy Pete on Palestinians is a bad thing.

Do You Like Coffee? Real Colombian Coffee?

In a sign of the times, Starbucks is expanding their business model...not to include more stores and more upscale barista brews, but the opposite: they're getting into the instant coffee market nationwide starting today with their new brand, Via.
Starbucks will trumpet Via's debut in the United States and Canada with a week-long advertising campaign that will highlight in-store taste tests pitting Via against Starbucks brewed coffee.

Some analysts have questioned whether U.S. coffee drinkers will flock to Via, particularly since it will compete with familiar and far less expensive products.

Schultz said that due to the higher quality of Via, it would not compete with existing instant coffee products. He added that Via did not cannibalize Starbucks main business in markets where it was tested.

"This is not your grandmother's instant coffee," Schultz said. "The quality of Starbucks Via is a mirror image of the quality and taste of Starbucks brewed coffee."

While the CEO said that Via "exceeded expectations" when it was tested in Seattle, Chicago and London, he declined to reveal expectations for Via profits, the cost of the advertising campaign or the timing of Via's launch in other parts of the world.

A trio of single-serve Via packets will sell for $2.95 in the United States and 12 packets will sell for $9.95.

Those prices are significantly higher than Nescafe's Taster's Choice single-serve packets that sell in Los Angeles for roughly $1.50 for six and around $4 for 20.

Starbucks aficionados "won't balk at the price" of Via if they believe it delivers on taste, said Bill Smead, portfolio manager of the Smead Value Fund in Seattle.

A decently smart move. Americans are definitely cutting back on the daily trip to pick up their mocha half-caf lattes with no foam, and like everyone else, Starbucks is trading down a notch to go after the instant market instead.

The economy that gave rise to the ubiquitous Starbucks on every corner is dead and gone, folks. Look for the company to keep concentrating on the home market and closing more stores around the country.

And I choose to respond through the power of comedian Lewis Black.

He was more right than he knew five years ago when he said this. End of the universe, indeed...


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