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More… Opera Glasses and Popcorn… ;) 22 December 2006

Posted by marisacat in 2008 Election, Cuba, DC Politics, Iran, Iraq War, Israel/AIPAC, Paris, Seymour Hersh, The Battle for New Orleans, WAR!.

  Christmas market at Gare St Lazare Paris 

Couple of meaty interviews … 😉

Gore Vidal in Cuba

 [S]ince Woodrow Wilson left the oval office in 1921, no US president writes his own speeches. The president reads what other people write. Sometimes the President agrees with it, and sometimes he doesn’t. Eisenhower used to read his speeches as if he were discovering something new on the paper. During his first presidency, the country was astonished when he said in the middle of a speech: “If I’m elected president I will go to.Korea!?” He was serious. Nobody had said anything to him before that surprise. But anyway, he went to Korea.

Well had the American people seen that and if we had a media that was interested in the Republic, and not in profits, the whole story would have been different; after all, Albert Gore did win the election in 2000 by the popular vote, some 600,000 votes ahead of Bush. And eventually the intervention of the Supreme Court into that election falsified the entire election. So we became overnight a banana republic without any bananas to sell. And that is our problem at the moment. [snip]

…and some snips via Democracy NOW! from a conversation between Hersh and Ritter a few weeks ago at the School for Ethical Culture in Manhattan…

[W]ell, guess what. The Israelis talk about tunnels in Iran. And there are tunnels in Iran. The Iranians have been working with the North Koreans for the last couple decades to perfect deep tunneling techniques, and they are boring in the ground. You saw all those little Hezbollah tunnels in South Lebanon that were so effective against the Israelis? They were dug by the Iranians with North Korean assistance. That comes from the Iranians themselves. And they’re doing the same thing in Iran today. And the Israelis are detecting this deep tunneling activity, and they’re sending elements in to do reconnaissance on that, but they’re not finding any evidence of nuclear-related activity, because there isn’t any going on.

But again, thanks to konseptsia, Gilad, and the way the Israelis now do their assessments, they immediately equate deep tunneling and a nuclear enrichment program to mean that there’s a secret underground nuclear weapons program. Faith-based analysis has trumped fact-based analysis, and because of the pressure put on American policymakers by the Israeli lobby, our own government has now embraced this point of view. And this is very dangerous, ladies and gentleman, because if we accept at face-value, without question, the notion of a nuclear weapons program in Iran, that means the debate’s over. It’s over, because if Iran has a nuclear weapons program that operates in violation of international law, it’s very easy for American policymakers to talk about the imperative to confront this.  [snip]  



UPDATE, 7:22 pm Friday

Oh this did give me a laughThe New Republican, the Nationalist Review… who knows anymore.  It is all congealing:

And to All a Good Night

The National Review Online today features what you might charitably call a symposium, though without all that gay shit Plato had to—you’ll pardon the expression—shove in there. It’s called “Christmas at War,” and I imagine a heavy period to lend a little gravity to the pronunciation thereof: “Christmas. At War.” It is not to be confused with the War on Christmas, which is a discrete portion of a wider ideological struggle. If you’d asked me just hours ago if I believed that any table of contents would ever achieve the same gauzy silliness doing drag as necessary commentary as was achieved by this recent edition of TNR, I wouldn’t have believed it. And yet: [snip]


UPDATE, Saturday 11:30 am

Byron Dorgan, with Sherrod Brown, has an opinion piece in the Wapo on Free Trade.  I had caught Dorgan on three different occasions in extended interview during 2006… twice I heard him discuss how hard to impossible it was for him to get an opinion piece in the m ajor papers.  Inevitably that means the Democrats squashed it, TOO.  So, I take a smidgen of hope, the faint stain of memory of hope, in seeing this opinion piece… 😉

[E]qually important, by enabling this kind of trade, the agreements force U.S. workers to accept cuts in their pay and benefits so their employers can compete with low-wage foreign producers. And those workers are the lucky ones. Millions of others have lost their jobs as corporations moved overseas to build the same products with cheap foreign labor. It is no coincidence that salaries and wages today are the lowest percentage of gross domestic product since the government began keeping track of this in 1947.  [snip]

I also heard Sherrod in his acceptance speech state, flat out, “We must get out of Iraq”… if the smart, informed from the ground progressives (however flawed) agree to silence and collusion for some 2008 elevation… well, last nail.


To balance out that smidgen (lest anyone think I fell into some bottomless well of false hope), is this from Uchitelle in the NYT (via TruthOut):

[T]he decades immediately after World War II were the heyday of the federal minimum wage. Without following any particular formula, Congress periodically ended up setting it at roughly one-half the average hourly pay of the nation’s production workers. That average is nearly $17 an hour today; half would be $8.50. By 2009 it is likely to be close to the $9 that Ms. Rios seeks.

    Spurred on by last month’s election results, the populist wing of the Democratic Party is calling for a return to the old standard. Sherrod Brown, newly elected to the Senate from Ohio, is in that group. So is the AFL-CIO, which says that its success in getting out the vote this fall entitles it to a bigger voice in Democratic Party policy.

    But they are meeting political resistance from the moderates in the party. Trying to push the populist case, the Economic Policy Institute, a labor-oriented research center, posted a statement in late November calling for an increase in the minimum to $8 an hour in 2009 instead of the $7.25 proposed by the party leaders. That recommendation was quickly withdrawn, however, under pressure from the leadership.

    “Our friends on Capitol Hill said our statement would be heard as criticizing the Democrats,” said Ross Eisenbrey, the institute’s policy director. “It would not be perceived as encouragement to do more; it would be perceived as raining on the parade.”

    In a second statement, issued this month, the Economic Policy Institute finally endorsed the increase to $7.25, stipulating that once Congress approved this amount, a second bill should be introduced to raise it to a higher $8 in 2009.

    Senator-elect Brown and the AFL-CIO have taken similar stands, wanting more but nevertheless endorsing the bill that the Democratic leadership intends to introduce in the first 100 hours of the new Congress.  [snip]


This is a good slap of political coal in the Christmas stocking… and an interesting twist on tired old “Fitzmas” fizzle/sizzle:

[I]f Obama decides to run, there will be some sort of news conference with the Daleys, where national political writers can decide if they wish to keep drinking the Obama Kool-Aid or ask a difficult question.

It’s difficult because it is not Axelrod-approved and doesn’t reflect the gauzy Obama narrative, but here it is:

If elected president, do you promise to keep U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald in Chicago?

Here’s why this is critically important to understanding Obama’s national commitment to ethics and reform.

Daley’s City Hall is finally under siege by federal grand juries investigating truckloads of corruption. Included are the mayor’s illegal patronage armies that elected U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Tomczak), an irritating detail avoided by the national press for fear of being considered rude and parochial.

Illinois Republicans are also quivering.

The massive and bipartisan state pension fund scandal threatens Illinois Republican boss and Bush White House connection Robert Kjellander, treasurer of the Republican National Committee, who has not been indicted but is referred to in federal documents as “Individual K.” [snip]

Kass at the Chicago Trib doesn’t much like Rahm and is suspicious of Obama hype, so he lets loose with some interesting columns… 😉


UPDATE, 12:54 pm Saturday…

via Truth Out:

FEMA Not Required to Restore Aid to Evacuees, Court Rules
    By Shaila Dewan
    The New York Times

    Saturday 23 December 2006

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency does not have to reinstate immediately rental assistance to evacuees from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, a federal appeals court in Washington ruled yesterday, reversing a decision that a lower court judge had said he hoped would “get these people a roof over their heads before Christmas.”

    But FEMA still has to comply with part of the earlier order by the judge, Richard J. Leon of Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, by providing families with clear explanations why they were denied assistance.

    Responding to the ruling by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, FEMA officials said they would immediately suspend plans to provide the money, leading to criticism from evacuees and their advocates.

    “It’s another setback,” Wanda Jones, an evacuee in Houston, said in a statement issued by Acorn, the housing advocacy group that filed the lawsuit. “It’s like a terrible roller coaster ride. Every time we go up, when we come down we lose more people.”  [snip]



1. TustonDAZ - 22 December 2006

We don’t need no fancy japanese binoculars to see the stage is set for the next act, and the timpani have begun a low, soft roll that belies the thunder and high drama about to unfold:

The Selective Service System is planning a comprehensive test of the military draft machinery, which hasn’t been run since 1998.

The agency is not gearing up for a draft, an agency official said Thursday. The test itself would not likely occur until 2009.

Meanwhile, the secretary for Veterans Affairs said that “society would benefit” if the U.S. were to bring back the draft and that it shouldn’t have any loopholes for anyone who is called to serve. VA Secretary Jim Nicholson later issued a statement saying he does not support reinstituting a draft.


“We’re kind of like a fire extinguisher. We sit on a shelf” until needed, Campbell said. “Everyone fears our machine for some reason. Our machine, unless the president and Congress get together and say, ‘Turn the machine on’ … we’re still on the shelf.”

AP via NY Daily News

Why on earth would anyone fear the draft board?

BTW I know the graf says “not ’til 09” and “only a test” but I think that this next year will demand more cannon fodder sooner…

2. ms_xeno - 22 December 2006

Wouldn’t “kerosene tanker” be more acurate a description than “fire extinguisher ?” NOTA save us all… >:

3. marisacat - 22 December 2006

For a Long War you need a draft.

I suspect they could kill themselves that they did not dust it off fully and call for a draft on Sept 12.

4. raincat100 - 22 December 2006

Mcat, I think you are correct, although not having a draft has been useful to them in that is has allowed most people in this country to not pay attention.

5. marisacat - 22 December 2006

yeah agree… they could have shoved a draft thru with all the attendant bureacratic processes [iirc, they did some, and aspects of NCLB are quite scary in relation to a possible draft, a bit fuzzy now years later) and not initiated a call up. I somehow think some wish they had done that.

I’d also love to b a fly on the wall in some generals’ conversations about Bush. Tho I have ZERO sympathy for the generals. And am sick to death of “respect for the military” used as a bludgeon over civilians in this country. Ugh.

6. bayprairie - 22 December 2006

Looks like Operation Rescue’s man of the year, Phill Kline, is getting in a parting shot. He’s filed charges against Dr. Tiller.

He’s only got three weeks or so left before his term ends and he’s replaced. Thats very good good news for Kansas women.

7. TustonDAZ - 22 December 2006

Wouldn’t “kerosene tanker” be more acurate a description than “fire extinguisher ?” NOTA save us all

LOL, kerosene tanker or an aerosol can of RAID!

Again I think the Japanese binoculars aren’t needed to see the oncomming “long (and wider) war” but when it “arrives” will require spy-glasses that are at least japanese grade, I don’t really have the neccesary equipment to see that.

I am sure though that for a Draft to happen the American Public is going to have to love/want it today they way they would have immediately after 9/11. That, of course predicates the need for another 9/11 event (or something similiarly horrible and fantastic).

8. bayprairie - 22 December 2006

haha. that didn’t last long.

Charges against Kan. abortion doc dumped

WICHITA, Kan. — Kansas’ attorney general, a vocal abortion opponent, charged a well-known abortion provider with illegally performing late-term abortions, but a Sedgwick County judge on Friday threw out the charges after less than a day.

Judge Paul W. Clark dismissed the charges against Tiller at the request of Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston, who said her office had not been consulted by Kline.

and a big fork you to mr kline!

Kline’s office did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

9. CSTAR - 22 December 2006

Gret quote: “So we became overnight a banana republic without any bananas to sell.”

What do we sell? I remember in 1982 when the brits lost the HMS Sheffield in La Guerra de las Malvinas to a exocet missile that came from nowhere, French weaponry became all the rage, at least in those third world/oil rich countries with fat military budgets. After the American military fiasco in Iraq, we sure as hell aren’t going to sell many weapons. Christ, we can’t keep the power on in Baghdad for more than a few hours a day. Most of the stuff that anybody really uses anyway is manufactured by the Chinese; our comparative advantage seemed to lay in technology for blowing things up.

We’re good at powerpoint slides, at closing the deal, at the sleezy talk of the salesman/pusher. The predominant view I guess is that we don’t really need to sell anything, we just need to sell.

10. NYCee - 23 December 2006

Hey –

Flying my first post via new hard drive here and now. Wrote one a few days ago but it got blown away when my boyfriend was doing stuff on the computer.

In that post I commented on the horrificness of candidate Vilsack, or is that Vilesack or is that simply sad sack sack of shit… ??? Caught him on the Daily Show and even Jon Stewart, who is pretty easy on visiting pols – even McCain – gave him the old double take and a wag of his finger.

My regularly scheduled viewing of Vilsack was one of basically not viewing him at all – about as appealing as a boiled dumpling smothered in double bland sauce. He was doing the same old same old blah blah blah that passes for sharp rad dissent these days, I guess, ie, the Iraqis, have to start taking control for themselves so we can get out (1, 2, 3, what are we fightin for!), but then he actually upped the ante, went one step further in passing the toxic ball off to the invaded and occupied and destroyed by saying: They have become a CULTURE of DEPENCY. Tsk tsk.

What is he, Dr Phil for Iraq? Culture of dependency???!!!

Oh fuck’s sake. Thank you and fuck you, Vilesack. So now I have it, a reason to not only ignore but also deplore this offering from the (((heart)))land. I cursed him out loud when I heard it. Stewart took him to task reminding him “we broke it”, looking rather stunned as he did so. Vilsack did not get it. He just blandly blundered on. What a fucking dolt.

11. NYCee - 23 December 2006


Saw you mentioned the Noam appearance on DN – Caught a bit of it, saved for future viewing in full. DN also featured a talk by Robert Fisk the next day or so, another must see that Ive taped. Other great views lately – Tariq Ali on Cspan a weekend or so ago. Fantastic. Also found a Cspan viewing of a panel on the Israeli Palestinian issue, which included Daniel Levy, one of the authors of the Geneva proposal for ME, pretty interesting the other day. He stated during his turn to talk that he has come to see that the US govt is not just avoiding the resolution of conflict, but it is also purposely creating conflict and was practically shaking when he warned that anyone who thinks that civil war in Palestine is a good thing for Israel is off his rocker. He and others echoed the complaint of silence here on this verboten topic, contrasting it with a far more honest dissent in the Israeli press, adding to Carter’s similar recent observation. He emphasized the US role in perpetrating the ME mess, and noted that Olmert had recently been quoted as saying that BushCo told him not to talk to Syria, against his own preference to do so, so he did not. Levy cautioned that this could be some CYA by Olmert but also felt it was entirely plausible that the US is actively prohibiting their Israeli cohorts to act upon their own rare glimmers of common sense, such as starting to talk to their foes.

Also caught Zbigniew Brezhinski, a k a “Ziggy”, on C Rose recently, and he was blunt and outspoken against this whole mess, although by now I cant recall the particulars of what he said. There were a few lines that were noteworthy, above and beyond what you usually get from ex admin officials and the like.

And oh yes, I so agree with the point you made on this thread (or was it the last?) — your disgust over the DC crowd acting like they, lawdy, jest had no way of a knowin’ that things would get so gosh durn messy when they gave Bush their IWR hurrah. That is just fucking dereliction of duty, if they didnt. I knew. The girl carrying my favorite sign in the Feb 15 protest, PRE war, said it best, covered all bases, with this message: “It’s just not a good idea.” Get that, Senator Clinton???!!! Oh, it’s fucking sickening.

12. NYCee - 23 December 2006

There is a diary over at DK on the DeNiro/Damon appearance on Hardball. I commented, gist is that I was singularly UNimpressed by this A List duo, although a bit of a flurry was made over Damon’s “rad” stance on the war, eg, Bush twins should go fight it.

DeNiro distinguished himself as an actual dolt. (I also think he is way overrated as an actor, although he has done some good work. Ditto for Damon’s much lauded Good Will Hunting, the movie itself, which catapulted him to fame. An overrated run of the mill bit of Hollywood “feel good,” imo) On political issues, DeNiro appears to be about as bright as he is articulate (NOT), taking the war on Iraq as case in point. He actually mumbled that he was “for it” initially. Then he saw that is was a bad idea, or, “we saw” that they had a thousand plus years of complicated history, or some such dithering reasoning for seeing the light. Wow. Such consciousness! Such insight! So much for this leisure class, SuperA List actor making good use of resources and time to get a clue. Damon, too, made some noises which indicated that the problem was in the execution, one of those mushy outlooks that totally blunts the tip of the spear of truth. More like he launched a few toothpicks.

Rah rah. Funny, what folks get excited about, innit?

13. TustonDAZ - 23 December 2006

I haven’t seen it, but the promos for DeNiro and Damon’s recent the Good Shepard flick seems like a real nice piece of disinfo/propaganda for the CIA.

I think a lot of these “a listers” are truly insipid and whatever their politics maybe, they are convienent tools for sharper minds than their own.

14. NYCee - 23 December 2006

Insipid is right. Where were they when Jeanene Garofalo was basically flying solo in media appearances where she spoke out against this horrific preventive war, preventively, PRE war? She was virtually alone making the media rounds. I actually had the chance to thank her during the Manhattan march that followed the Feb 15th one, just after the war had started, in March. She called out, “Great Sign!” to us. I think she was referring to the side that said, “Stupid People Link 9/11 and Iraq,” because she herself likes to use the word stupid a lot. Lol. I went over to her and thanked her.

15. NYCee - 23 December 2006

I meant she was virtually alone amongst the Hollywood bunch, those who used their fame to make their voices heard. It was that that I thanked her for. She had a very sweet demeanor too, really seemed to appreciate it.

16. TustonDAZ - 23 December 2006

(channeling Gomer Pyle) Surprise, surprise, surprise!
LA Times

Top U.S. military commanders in Iraq have decided to recommend a “surge” of fresh American combat forces, eliminating one of the last remaining hurdles to proposals being considered by President Bush for a troop increase, a defense official familiar with the plan said Friday.

The approval of a troop increase plan by top Iraq commanders, including Gen. George W. Casey Jr. and Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, comes days before Bush unveils a new course for the troubled U.S. involvement in Iraq.

Well, Golly!

17. ms_xeno - 23 December 2006

Am I lacking the Daily Show appreciation gene ? Probably, because the rare times I’ve watched it, I’ve just shrugged while people all around me act like it’s Passover and Stewart is Elijah. “Oooh !! He’s come to OUR house !!!”

Yeah, whatever. Are we out of Doritos ?

I give Garofalo some grudging kudos for not caring if she was “right too soon” about Iraq, but she loses some again for her stint on Air America. Shill for the DP shill, shill, shill. Like Moore, Hightower, Sheehan, and countless others, she has been plowed under to grow another crop of pro-war shitheels. But maybe she thinks that no one notices.

It’s depressing, all told.

18. TustonDAZ - 23 December 2006

Back to celeb’s…yeah Mz. Garofaolo seems a like a genuine human from my vicarious perpsective, and there are other fairly laudable celeb examples but their class in general is part of the whole bread and circuses production to keep the masses docile and distracted, so I suppose we shouldn’t expect much from the banal sockpuppet underneathe the mythic projection.

19. marisacat - 23 December 2006

Also found a Cspan viewing of a panel on the Israeli Palestinian issue, which included Daniel Levy, one of the authors of the Geneva proposal for ME, pretty interesting the other day. – NYCee

I cuaght that too… Daniel Levy was very very good. Good panel.

20. marisacat - 23 December 2006

haven’t seen it, but the promos for DeNiro and Damon’s recent the Good Shepard flick seems like a real nice piece of disinfo/propaganda for the CIA. – Tuston

ugh… have you caught any of their duo appearances? JUST AWFUL. I caught 10 minutes of Tweety wtih them… and Damon said we went to “Itaq with the best of intentions”.

Canyoufucking spell I N V A S I O N ??

And DeNiro made a hard right turn at 9/11 which he is still hiding.

I am really jaded on the falt out junk food of celebrities and media nd “causes”.

If you need to regurgitate, catch Clooney and Poppy. Drooling over Darfur (Clooney loves the Kristoff columns, you can tell they have met up and shared drool for each other) and Cameron, Louisiana and their goodness. George and George, as they call themselves, took 2 million there to rebuild a hosptial. hmmm. 2M Might build the ER approach and the portico. About it.

ANYONE who gives the Bush family cover is … ugh I don’t have words.

21. bayprairie - 23 December 2006

i suppose since the movie is a spy flick, i.e., a “serious issue”, ::cough cough::: the booking agent worked the day time political entertainment shows instead of the late night celebrity entertainment shows where that sort of commercial pimpery usually occurs.

22. TustonDAZ - 23 December 2006

garf! I’d forgotten all about that recent nauseating episode of spit swapping between Rosemary’s boy Face and Poppy. God bless America (and Nazi enablers everywhere!). I guess principle is something best left to theorizing about over martinis at the country club, wouldn’t want to be impolite…

bayprairie – I think ya nailed it with the “serious” promo-angle for this little piece of revisionist info-tainment…Perhaps I’m wrongly prejudging on incomplete data, I really have only seen the littlest bit on it, but it reeks like a dead skunk even though I’ve got my windows closed and I’m speeding past it at 125 km/hr…

23. bayprairie - 24 December 2006

Looks like one diaryist at la naranja finds that movie promotion on lardball inspirational.

The performance is astonishing, jawdropping


I didn’t think it possible, but I now officially dig Matt Damon and his “Hollywood Liberal Elitist” friends even MORE than I did before.

Damon’s brilliance begins slightly before the 2 minute mark…

24. marisacat - 24 December 2006

omigod. And it was sooooo bad. Neither acted like they wanted to be there… stiff as dead bones, DeNiro looked heavily debauched in a rather distasteful way… and both – and Tweety – lied and fluffed their way thru the show.

It was awful.

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