January 29, 2009

Hey, did we just switch governors in midstream?

Yep. Seems we did.

Why? Apparently on the grounds that nobody in the legislature liked him, and in light of the fact that his nemesis, Speaker Mike Madigan and those who curry his favor have been trying desperately to get rid of this burr in their saddle for literally years.

He kept making them look bad. And he did things without kissing their rings first. Can't have that.

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich gave a meandering peroration before the state senate before they all, to a man and woman, tossed him out of office on his behind.

News networks broadcast the roll-call vote on the matter, including MSNBC, who at least showed enough votes to get up to around the L's before cutting away.

It was a very somber moment, presided over by a black robed official and conducted in silence aside from the clerk calling the names of the senators and them rising to say yea or nay. No one took the opportunity of the grave occasion to act undignified, grandstand or call attention to themselves, much like they've accused Blago of doing.

Except one who just couldn't help injecting crass mean-spiritedness into the affair.

Who? You know who!

Our own senator around these parts, Mike Jacobs, smacking his lips at the chance for some media exposure and as always, even if it's only two fleeting seconds, rose and voted along with all the rest.

But apparently in a bid to stand out somehow, Jacobs decided it would be a really classy thing to lean over the mic during his two seconds on camera and make a thumbs down gesture at the same time, as if he were Emperor at the Roman Colosseum condemning some poor slave to death.

But kicking a guy while he's at his lowest moment, while his entire career goes down in flames and his life is essentially destroyed is the essence of class and maturity on what was, at least to all the others, a time to at least behave as if it was a very serious occasion.

Bravo, senator. We like our politicians to be drama queens, just like Blago. We all think you're mega-cool. Let's hope your stunt gets you noticed. For the good of your constituents, of course.

Perhaps we should count our blessings that Sen. Mike just did the thumbs down deal rather than fliping the bird?

But ya gotta admit, that would have been extra mega classy and made us all proud.

Maybe next time.

Sen. Jacobs mistaking the Illinois Senate chambers for the Roman Colosseum.

January 25, 2009

Will Blago come out ahead?

OK, the story so far...

Federal prosecutor Fitzgerald rushes a criminal complaint full of juicy allegations and stuff from wiretaps on Gov. Blagojevich.

They grandstand at the announcement, making it sound as if they'd nailed Capone himself.

The media goes absolutely bonkers over it, since it occurs at a time between the nomination and inaguration when there was absolutely nothing to report other than gossip about what Obama might do next.

They whoop it up and fall over each other to come up with more witty ways to put Blago down and belittle him.

Then after about a week of this piling on, some tiny voices start to be heard pointing out that nearly nothing in this supposedly damning complaint was actually a crime. A lot of big talk, disgusting behavior and general ickiness, but not much in the way of actual crimes committed.

Then Blago drops the Burris bomb, the politicians in Springfield and the Democratic leadership in D.C. all run around like ninnies trying to deal with it, at first full of righteous bluster that they'd never seat anyone Blago named, and then forced to face facts, and sputter along for a few days looking for a way to do a 180 turn and still try to pretend they hadn't.

Score one for Blago.

Now he's upping the ante. His lawyers quit. He doesn't play along with the impeachment game like they want him to. He continues to make statements and hauls out human props in his bid to turn himself into a modern day Robin Hood being persecuted by the evil hacks in Springfield. (which he is. Persecuted by hacks that is, not Robin Hood.)

Now even our august Senate doesn't know what to do.

Yes, Blago is a goof. He's a "character" to put it charitably.

But he's also forcing these gasbags to actually put their money where their mouths are. He's forcing them to put up or shut up, and so far, he's shut them up.

This aspect of it I like.

And I hope he exposes the gang down in Springfield and puts them through as much pain and humiliation as possible. They thought they had it made. Blago's name is dirt, he's a national laughing stock. So they thought it would be a walk in the park to impeach and convict him.

Nope.

And ultimately, even Fitzgerald might have his work cut out for him.

We'll see.

Blago, a corrupt clown, but a corrupt clown who is making the rest of the currupt clowns look bad.

Very hard to figure out who to root for.

Were ya in D.C.? Send along some pics

I realize the massive inauguration days in D.C. are nearly old news in our short attention span culture, and I've been tardy in doing this, but I've been meaning to invite anyone who was in D.C. for the events to send along some pictures or descriptions of your experiences.

Of course, you can be credited for the pics or not, your call. You don't even have to identify yourself to me, and can send them anonymously if you wish. Add some brief descriptions or captions if you can.

I know at least a few folks from the area were there, and if you were, share some of your impressions or better yet, photos.

Maybe no one will bother, but it's worth a try. I'd love to see some personal pictures of the historic event.

January 22, 2009

So far, so good.

With the din of the crowds still ringing in their ears, the Obama administration hit the ground running.

High level staff were driven in vans to the White House immediately following the swearing in and got down to business.

And so far, it's been great. (and we all know that can't last long.)

While the decision to start the process of shutting down Gitmo is grabbing attention, one measure that is of immeasurable importance, but which gained scant attention is designed to end the paranoid secrecy and abuse of the Freedom of Information Act of the Bush era.

Obama issued a memo to counteract the ridiculous and obsessive secrecy imposed by the Bush gang, which historians and others who know about such things have long recognized as the most secretive administration in history, indeed, far worse than Nixon.

As a matter of fact, then Attorney General Ashcroft issued a memo to the heads of all government agencies stating,
When you carefully consider FOIA requests and decide to withhold records, in whole or in part, you can be assured that the Department of Justice will defend your decisions.


Kinda hard to hold anyone accountable when the actions of our hired and elected servants operate in complete secrecy, and when attempts to gain access to records are met with an army of lawyers that WE pay for, fighting to keep public information secret. Nice, eh?

Well now Obama has issued directives to counteract that anti-democratic stance on openness and accountability by issuing a memo to the government that says that in deciding when to disclose government records, if there is doubt, they should err on the side of openness, not secrecy.

No longer will 99% of government records requested under FOIA filings be denied, redacted, or kept from media and others seeking them by the ruse of claiming everything pertains to national security and therefore can't be released.

The manner that the Bushoids would routinely deny ANY request for information or records by saying they couldn't be released because they pertained to "national security", no matter how ridiculous and untrue that claim might be.

First realize that a FOIA request is incredibly complicated, and you have to be almost impossibly specific about the records you seek. The process takes literally several years in many instances, and often requires going to court to try to sue for their release.

The Bush administration mantra was to reveal NOTHING, no matter how relatively unimportant, with no regard whatsoever to the fact that these were public records and American's right to know what their government is doing in our names and with our money.

Want to know how often federal food inspectors actually inspect our food? Can't tell ya, national security. Think you still have a right to know? Sue us. Spend thousands. Wait years. Or give up.

In one stroke of the pen, that un-American mindset is gone. Now things that justify being secret will remain secret, but legitimate attempts to obtain matters unrelated to national security in any way, matters which might simply be politically inconvenient or revealing, will no longer be falsely withheld or denied and obstructed by the Justice Dept. and others with an attitude that the public has no right to any information whatsoever.

Obama also immediately signed a memo freezing the wages of all top staff with salaries over $100,000 (which I'd imagine included all of them.) Could you even imagine Bush doing anything remotely like that? Can you imagine Bush even understanding the message such an action conveys, let alone giving a damn?

No more leadership as if leading the government was one big, unimportant joke with only one simple goal... providing ever more wealth to your already exceedingly wealthy supporters by letting them essentially write the laws and regulations, and cynically lying to the public in order to justify using our military, our national treasure, and the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocents in an attempt to conquer a nation that had absolutely NOTHING to do with 9-11, all in order to try to give your closest friends in big oil access one of the world's largest oil reserves.

That, my friends, isn't bringing up "petty grievances". It ain't chicken feed. The fact that it was done is criminal and immoral on its face.

And the fact that those responsible (though in no way held accountable) are no longer in charge? That's a cause for joy and emmense relief around the planet.

Innauguration quick takes

Stuff I noticed while watching endless hours of coverage of the Inauguration festivities, mostly on MSNBC.

- Chris Matthews is whacked. What's with his obsession with comparing EVERYTHING to some obscure movie plot? And they should never allow him to be on air longer than a half hour. Otherwise his ignorance and narrow view from the perspective of an elite white pundit who is paid millions and spends his entire life rubbing elbows with other media elite and those he's supposed to cover in D.C. is all too apparent.

Matthews kept saying, over and over and over and over again, over three days, that the huge crowds on the mall, many of, if not most, were black, represented the D.C. neighborhoods finally all emptying out and coming down to the mall. He kept referring to someone saying that D.C. was finally coming to Washington.

This was stunningly racist and plain stupid.

"Washington" evidently is the town of millionaire pundits, lobbyists, and polticians who all live the lives of princes and flit from townhouse to country house and dinner party to dinner party. "D.C." I guess is the blacks that inhabit the city and provide services to them all.

Matthews looked out at the sea of mostly black faces and wondered, "Gee, where did all these blacks come from?".

To Matthews' mind, they couldn't possibly have actually TRAVELLED there. Apparently he thinks blacks can't afford that or something. So to him, they HAD to be all the blacks in the neighborhoods of D.C. coming down to the mall.

Matthews would occasionally leave the toasty confines of the custom built MSNBC trailer and go to the fence around it and talk to the "little people". He'd ask their names and where they were from.

Over the course of three days, Matthews (and others) must have talked with scores of visitors, most of them black. Out of these dozens of people, perhaps one or two said they were from D.C. ALL the rest were from all across the country, north, south, east, and west, and an amazing number were from African and Carribean nations.

They were from Cameroon, from Ethiopia, from Burmuda and the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, and the Congo, just to name a few. All here giddy with delight and wanting to witness this history, even if it wasn't their country.

Surely Matthews would finally "get it" and drop this notion of his that the huge number of blacks were composed of far more than just the blacks who live in D.C. and provide household staff at the Georgetown parties he attends.

Nope, not a chance. He kept repeating what he apparently thought was a very interesting obvservation, all the way through, mentioning it again during the parade.

"Boy, it's really something.", Matthews seemed to be saying. Look at all those black people. They must all have come streaming out of the D.C. ghettos.

And I'll give him a pass for repeatedly mentioning how all he could see were all the "white teeth" shown by the sea of mostly black attendees, though he probably doesn't deserve it.

He seemed like he was drunk or on drugs or both much of the time, at one point getting into a contest with Keith Matthews, who himself was extremely annoying much of the time, over who could recall the most details about the movie "Advise and Consent".

During the parade, Olberman seemed fixated on acting annoyed that Obama didn't stick strictly to the schedule they had, at one point suggesting that Obama was displaying a "puckish nature" because.... well, because he got out of his limo when they didn't expect it, suggesting to Olberman that Obama was doing this just to screw up.... Olberman.

To be fair, they'd all been up nearly three days straight, and likely attending some of the toney parties themselves, and it showed. They were like a couple pre-teens who were punch-drunk after getting jacked up on Pepsi and staying up all night.

OK, enough of my "petty grievances".

Here's some other things I found notable.

The motorcade went INCREDIBLY S----L-----O-----W for 9/10ths of the parade route.
They were already at least a half hour behind schedule at that point.
Why??

The motorcade actually went twice as fast when Obama and Michelle were outside of the limo walking!!! At points, the Secret Service agents who were walking along side the limo had to walk as if they were a bride walking down the aisle, one small step, pause, another small step.....

I'm dying of curiosity as to why, with darkness approaching, and an incredibly long parade which would take hours to pass, which couldn't begin until the President was in the reviewing stand, and the fact that they'd then have to somehow eat dinner and change into their formal attire and put in appearances at each of the 10 official balls, that they appeared to be stalling for time, with the pace of the motorcade moving literally as slow as possible without coming to a complete stop.

A motivated snail could have left it in the dust.

~~~~

I was also very annoyed at the fact that, once the Obama's arrived at the reviewing stand and the parade began to pass before them, that within MINUTES, about 95% of their guests, who had been given one of the most honored and exclusive tickets in town, had VANISHED.

They'd spent who knows how much to construct this elaborate stand with seating for a few hundred of Obamas closest friends. It was heated and the best seats in D.C. to watch the parade and show their support to the new President and First Lady.

But within a couple MINUTES, these ungrateful and selfish people started running out the door in order to make their way to their hotel rooms and begin changing for the balls.

THAT, in my opinion, took a lot of balls by itself.

So viewers around the world were left with a visual of the Obama's standing utterly abandoned in front of a sea of empty chairs, complete with the names of who was to sit in them attached to the back.

To her credit, Nancy Pelosi stayed for quite some time, as did Bill Daley. Hell, Biden's wife even flew the coop early.

Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but if Obama had included me in the small number invited to join him in his reveiwing stand, I don't think I would have run out minutes after he arrived to make sure I got to some damn ball on time. I found it very disrespectful and rather tacky on a day where respect should have been given.

~~~~~~

Sasha and Malia are incredibly unspoiled and well-adjusted (not to mention cute)kids, and this reflects very well on their parents. There is nothing about them to suggest that they've been overly coached or taught to be little manequins or props.
It will be interesting to see how the press and the Obamas handle what will inevitably be an incredibly strong media presure worldwide for anything and everything to do with the girls.

And to think that not long ago, when I published a couple shots of the Obamas with their girls here, taken before Obama made his campaign announcement in Springfield, that there was at least one person to vigorously attacked me and applied pressure both to suggest that I was doing a horrible thing to post the pictures, that I was some sort of pedophile, and to demand that I take them down.

I'm sure this total asshole is having a stroke today from the fact that everyone on the planet can see the girls any time they want. Either that or he was a gigantic blowhard trying to throw his weight around at the time. Think I'll go with the latter.

~~~~~~

I'm grateful that the facts regarding Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts flubbing the Presidential Oath of Office have seemed to be accepted.

Obviously, it was inevitable that the goons on the right would leap to suggest that it was Obamas fault, and therefore proof that he can't get anything right, and that he's just as stupid as they are would emerge in an instant, and they did.

But to their credit, pundits and reporters were relatively quick to recognize that it was Roberts, not Obama, who had screwed up. (of course, to right wingers, facts are easily ignored and it's certain that they'll continue to believe that Obama messed it all up.)

After Justice Roberts got to, "I, Barack Hussein Obama..", Obama began to repeat the line, yet Justice Roberts continued, "do solemnly swear". This minor flub seemed to get things out of whack, but who did it right? Where were they supposed to pause?

I wondered if Justice Stevens had paused after saying, "I, Joseph Robinette Biden..." while delivering the Oath to the Vice President or not. After watching the clip, I see that he does not pause there, but repeats the entire phrase, "I, Joseph Robinette Biden do solemnly swear." before Biden repeats it back. ("Robinette" ??!! Yikes. Doesn't sound like your typical Joe Sixpack middle name.)

So it Obama flubbed by starting to repeat before Roberts had finished the entire phrase, "I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear.".

The actual 35 word Presidential Oath of Office reads,

"I (name) do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Roberts choked and made two mistakes in repeating the line, "That I will execute the Office of President to the United States faithfully."

Seemingly catching George Bush disease, Roberts inexplicably said, "...execute the Office of President TO the United States...".

He also misplaced the word "faithfully" the first time he repeated it, then, after Obama paused to give him a chance to get it right, actually got it right the second time before quickly messing it up again prior to Obama's repeating it with "faithfully" misplaced.

This fact was born out by repeated viewings which showed clearly that Roberts had screwed up the phrase in question, then, after Obama paused to let him get it right, repeated it correctly, but then amazingly, quickly repeated it incorrectly again. At that point Obama then repeated the line that Roberts had repeated last, which unfortunatly was incorrect.

Coverage of the luncheon in the Capitol after the event showed Obama going over to a seated Roberts and talking with him. At one point, by reading lips, you can clearly see Roberts saying, "It was my fault." It was also reported elsewhere that Roberts had apologized for his blunder to Obama at the event.

The constitution lays out the wording of the Presidential Oath, but it also stipulates that the president-elect becomes president at the hour of noon, as Olberman put it, "whether he's reciting the oath or taking a bath.". In other words, he becomes president at that hour, oath or no oath. But this assertion is still open for arguement.

Of course, right wing Republicans, addicted to whining and railing at any chance, no matter how irrelevant or petty, to attack Obama, raised a cry about it. And apparently, someone in the White House decided that "out of an abundance of caution", it might be worth it to have a do-over, and Roberts did the thing again, after heeding Obama's suggestion that they "take it slow this time", and all is well.

Of interest is that this incident is neither the first time the oath has been bungled, nor the fist time it's been retaken, though it's the first time a President has taken the oath in private after he'd taken it in public.

~~~~~
The Illinois float in the Inaugural Parade not only featured a rather goulish looking figure wearing an enormous paper mache Lincoln head, but also featured a John Deere children's riding tractor, as well as the skyline of Chicago, all set on the outline of the state. The float, as with others, was pulled by a John Deere tractor as well.

So there ya go. Illinois, noteworthy because of.... Chicago, Lincoln, and John Deere. And apparently, nothing else. Where was Capone? Well, there's Blagojevich, but.....

400,000 plus, but who's counting.



Just passed the 401,000th visit to The Inside Dope, and we're on our way to passing the half million mark.

Congratulations and a hearty well done to the staff here who have persevered under incredibly adverse conditions in order to provide you with the consistently adequate work you've come to know and love throughout the years.

And great thanks to all those incredibly disloyal readers who continue to read the blog, but who no longer participate. I don't know how to thank you.

Keep those cards and letters and donations coming.

January 20, 2009

Mission Accomplished



America has been traumatized by the dark depressing cloud of immorality and dishonesty in the cause of self-centered greed coupled with utter indifference to the needs of the 90% of Americans worth less than a few million that defined the Bush era. As this perversion of and assault on American values passes into the dust bin of history, a new era began today.

Today marks the end of the age of ignorance and callous indifference. And Americans rejoiced, as did millions around the world.

The countdown clock in the sidebar reads all zeros. Millions of people around the world, most particularly myself, who has struggled long and hard to cope with and outlast what I knew would be a disasterous administration literally since the day it began, since the day this obviously unqualified flawed pretender was installed into office by a vote of 5 to 4.

I sometimes despaired tht this day would ever come, or if it would come too late. It did come. At long last. Today.

The past is gone, though the damage the radical Republicans and Bush have left in their wake will take generations to repair, and in some cases can never be undone. This is a fact that the world will have to deal with. Nothing like this passes without leaving scars. Like thousands upon thousands of youths who, seeing us slaughter their families, destroy their homes and towns, who now will carry a seething hatred for our country for the rest of their lives. And no one can blame them.

Cheney was in a wheelchair, looking like some aging Mafia Don being wheeled into a courthouse. A creepier looking villian couldn't be found in central casting.

Is it wrong that this shot conjures up the image of Cheney bouncing down the steps out of control in the wheelchair while loudly uttering gutteral half grunts, half quacks ala The Penguin? "Whaan! Whaaaaan! Whan, Whan,Whan!!" Just in a cartoony way, of course.

Obama was bamboozled by Chief Justice John Roberts when Roberts managed to screw up the 36 word presidential Oath of Office.

The Obama girls, as always, looked cute as buttons and well dressed, and it was fun to see Malia snapping shots on her digital camera before and after the ceremony.

Obama had said that during the family's visit to the Lincoln Memorial the day before the inaugural, that after reading Lincoln's immortal words carved into the walls there, Malia had turned to her dad and said, "Wow. Your speech better be good!".

After her dad delivered his address, the first person he turned to was Malia, and you can plainly read her lips as she looks up at him and says, "That was a good speech.", to which Obama responded with his remarkable smile.

And amazingly, on the day when bi-partisanship and unity was the order of the day, Supreme Court justice Sam Alito was actually childish and petty enough to not attend the inauguration at all, apparently miffed because Obama and Biden voted against his nomination to the court.

I ask, just how small a person do you have to be to pull something like that on an occassion for all Americans? And of course, from a conservative in a high position which is required to be strictly non-partisan, neutral, and apolitical. What a collossal jerk.

Hmmm. Wonder if they're all that small. Maybe Roberts, whom Obama voted against as well, thought it would be cute to screw Obama up on the oath? Nah!

Rev. Rick "Being gay is comparable to bestiality and pedophilia" Warren from Brokeback Church gave his forgetable little prayer, enjoying world-wide exposure he never should have been afforded.

Aretha, The Queen of Soul, did her thing singing "America the Beautiful", and Itzhak Perlman, Yo Yo Ma, Gabriela Montero, pianist and clarinetist Anthony McGill performed a very moving piece written for the occasion by John Williams which I thought was great.

But aside from Obama's address, in my opinion, the highlight of the entire ceremony was the benediction given by the legendary 87 year old civil rights veteran Rev. Joseph Lowrey. (Transcript below)

And it looks like you can take the guy out of Chicago, but you can't take the Chicago out of the guy... at least when the guy is Rahm Emmanual.

Here's a shot of him on the platform prior to Obama's arrival.

Unfortunately, the caption didn't provide the target of his nose thumbing, but it appears as though it's entirely in jest.

The crowd thumbed it's collective noses at Bush, and a massive low hum of boos greeted his introduction. The crowd was studded with signs reading "Arrest Bush", "See ya!", and at the mention of his name by TV talking heads, those around their location spontaneously broke into choruses of "Nah, nah, nah, nah, hey, hey, good bye!". One of my favorite signs delivered the mesesage to those who've mislead our country for the past decades, "We are the deciders."

People? There were a few that braved the cold, the restrictive security lines. No one complained. When you're really, REALLY happy, nothing much bothers you.





Leave your impressions of the Inaugural ceremonies. What did you like, dislike? What struck you or made an impression?

Here we see some scary Republicans (including Sen. Nosferatu, R-Transylvania) emerging from The Crypt. (Yep, at least that's what the sign in the upper left says. Click to enlarge.) The other two undead Republicans are unable to open their eyes in the glaring light of day.



Benediction of Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery:
God of our weary years
God of our silent tears
Thou who has brought us thus far along the way
Thou who has by thy might lead us into the light
Keep us forever on the path we pray
Lest our feet stray from the places our God where we met thee
Lest our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee
Shadows beneath our hand, may we forever stand
True to thee oh God, and true to our native land

We truly give thanks for the glorious experience we've shared this day
We pray now oh Lord for thy blessing upon thy servant Barack Obama, the 44th president of these United States, his family, and his administration.

He has come to this high office at a low moment in the national and indeed, global fiscal climate.

But because we know you got the whole world in your hands, we pray for not only our nation, but for the community of nations.

Our faith does not shrink, though pressed by the flood of mortal ills.

For we know that Lord you're able, and you're willing to work through faithful leadership to restore stability, mend our brokenness, heal our wounds, and deliver us from the exploitation of the poor or the least of these, and from favoritism towards the rich, the elite of these.

We thank you for the empowering of our servant, our 44th president to inspire our nation to believe that YES WE CAN work together to achieve a more perfect union.

And while we have sown the wind of greed and corruption, and even as we reap the whirlwind of social and economic disruption, we seek forgiveness, and we come in the spirit of unity and solidarity to commit our support to our president by our willingness to make sacrifices, to respect your creation, to turn too each other, and not on each other.

And now lord in the complex arena of human relations help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate, on the side of inclusion, not exclusion, tolerance, not intolerance.

And as we leave this mountaintop, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family.

Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, wherever we seek your will.

Bless President Barack, First Lady Michelle, look over our little angelic Sasha and Malia.

We go now to walk together children pledging that we won't get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know that you will not leave us alone, with your hands of power, and your heart of love.

Help us then now Lord to work for that day when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid.

When justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back. When brown can stick around. When yellow will be mellow. And when the red man can get ahead, man. And when white will embrace what is right.

Let all those who do justice and love mercy say AMEN.

Say amen.

And AMEN.

Barack Obama's Inaugural Address

The following is the text of President Barack Obama's Inaugural Address.

My fellow citizens: I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.


We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sanh.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control — and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort — even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people: "Let it be told to the future world ... that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive ... that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

You were only waiting for this moment to arrive

Barack Hussein Obama is shortly going to assume the presidency of the United States of America.

And across the planet, people are giddy with excitement.

And at this moment in history, Americans and the world, after having experienced and witnessed the very worst of American government for 8 excrutiatingly long years, is now looking at the prospect of the very best this country has to offer to both it's citizens and the rest of the world.

And to all those white pundits and Republicans and DLC Democrats who've been insisting for decades that Americans are mostly conservative, eat it.

Just because they got most of their campaign loot from conservatives isn't a very good basis for judging the political leanings of the country.

Wonder where the votes came from? Wonder where the record shattering amounts of money raised by the Obama campaign and Dem campaigns across the country came from?
Wonder where the sea of happy people come from stretching as far as the eye can see to stend in the freezing cold just to BE THERE?

I'll give you a clue. They're NOT conservatives.

And they've been IGNORED for scores of years by ignorant politicians and pundits who only see white, rich, conservative leaning people at their fund-raisers and assumed that was reality, a very foolish mistake.

From a government and Republican party who represented the interests of ONLY the exclusively white elite, the very wealthiest sliver of people in this country, and eagerly worked to give them everything they wanted while giving the rest of us nothing but propaganda and lies, to one offering a return to reality, honesty, and actual competence.

The Republican ideologues got their way. The Republicans and Bush spent 8 years busily concocting ways for corporate America and Wall Street to literally loot the government until it was bankrupt as has been their ideological goal for decades. For years they've tried to make the government so broke that it would be forced to eliminate the programs designed to destroy New Deal programs and essentially destroy any form of government which either taxed the wealthy or corporations or prevented them from doing whatever they wanted, anywhere, anytime, to make more money, no matter what the consequences to society, the economy, or the environment.

From the very worst administration in the history of our country, to one which is pledged to return to what our government is supposed to be. One which offers the prospect that our country can be returned to the people who make up the country, not just those who already have incredible power.

How tragic that after radical Republican ideologues having seized our country (in essentially a coup 8 years ago) and happily perverted it beyond recognition, that simply promising a return to "normal" would evince such a massive outpouring of exuberance and joy.

But this is what it looks like when the American people feel that they've actually regained control over their own government after having it stolen, and run, of, by, and for, only the most wealthy, the most connected, and the most greedy and immoral.

And normal Americans are heaving a sigh of relief.

The outpouring of excitement and good feelings aren't just due to Obama alone, though that's a huge part of it.

No, I think at least half of it, if not a majority of it, springs from the joy and RELIEF felt by people literally around the globe who feel as though someone has just removed a boot from their neck.

Yes, the joy you see and literally feel to your core is likely the same emotional release, the same relief and happiness felt by an abused woman feels when her abuser finally is incarcerated. No more fear. NO more abuse, disrespect, lies.

Relief.

Hope.

Joy.


So here's to this historic moment, to an era of possibility, to a president who isn't trying to bullshit the country every time he opens his mouth, (and one that can actually SPEAK ENGLISH). Good riddance to reckless and thoughless government, run by those who's only qualifications were if they were ideological true believers, to a government which didn't even pretend to care about anything or anybody other than the very richest in our society.

And hello to a return to reality. To science. To intelligence. To competence. To a government which exists to help people, not abuse, lie to, and ignore the people.

It is now in hindsight that the Bush era stands naked as the criminally greedy and irresponsible disaster that it was. The cocky ideology that was based on the idea that extremely wealthy white people are inherantly more worthy, more moral, than the rest of us. That incredibly arrogant attitude that government exists to serve them, while taking away basic services, removing regulations that protect our safety and health in the name of them adding a few more million to their already huge stack.

The only thing they felt was due the little people who make their great wealth possible was an endless stream of bullshit designed to cover up what they were doing, an endless marketing campaign to sell shit sandwiches to us all by dipping it in chocolate and charging us dearly for it, in which they'd send out Bush to read lies and distortions off of 3x5 cards and then consider the job done.

Do whatever you want. Take whatever you want. And keep the boobs in line by lying your ass off to them to keep them scared, ignorant, and "patriotic".

Now we see what is possible.

Perhaps most importantly, the promise of a return to REALITY. To honesty.

And frankly, a return to collective mental health.

You can't be told that reality isn't real, that black is white, and that what's bad for you is actually good for you, and have people constantly wave the prospect of horrible death in front of you for 8 long years and not be a little goofy.

That alone is reason for rejoicing.

So lets all enjoy this moment.

And to those dead-enders still longing for the era where you were so cynically manipulated by your inner bigot, your weakness for fear and conspiracy, and your belief that mankind is rotten and it's silly to dream or hope that anything better is possible, or that anything would ever change, get over it, get some help, or get going.

Let's all enjoy this era of good feelings. And then let's see how long we can keep the spirit.

January 17, 2009

Terror cell trained in Quad Cities

Be afraid Americans. Be very afraid.

THIS may be your worst nightmare.

A young Canadian terrorist recruit.

As if our nation didn't face enough serious threats, it's now apparent that rogue elements of geese, assumed to be affiliated with our formerly peaceful neighbor to the north, are actively pursuing suicide missions to down U.S. aircraft.

Though not confirmed, presumably to avoid panicking an already jittery public, all indications are that a group of Canadian geese willingly flew into the path of US Air flight 1549, bound for Charlotte, NC from LaGuardia airport in New York City resulting in it's ditching in the Hudson River.

The goal of these birds was obviously to cause a large jet airliner to crash into a densely populated area, thus causing unimaginable death and destruction. Only the skill and experience of the pilots, crew, and rescue workers prevented catastrophe.

Such is their passionate hatred for this country (they obviously "hate our freedom") that this gaggle were willing to become goose liver (and everything else) pate in service to their dastardly cause, willingly being sucked into the world's most powerful Cuisinart and spit out as "jet d'oie".

Such a fowl (ahem) plot must have required careful planning and months of preparation and training.

The Inside Dope can now report exclusively evidence of such a camp located right in our midst along the banks of the Mississippi, as the following pictures reveal for the first time the TERRORISTS IN OUR MIDST.

This is an old surveillance picture of reputed mastermind Osama bin Honkin. Latest intelligence indicates he is currently being sheltered by sympathetic water fowl at an unknown location across the border in Iowa.

Surveillance photo showing an AK-47 toting Canadian goose overseeing young recruits along the Butterworth Parkway in Moline this past summer.

Sentries keep a sharp eye out for humans who might happen along during one of their clandestine training sessions.

The last picture taken by a special ops agent shows a terrorist leader sounding the alarm. The agent managed to upload these pictures via satellite link before his untimely capture. It is presumed that the geese waterboarded the agent. It is not known how much information was pecked of him. Shockingly, the cunning geese were up to their evil deeds in public spaces, hiding in plain sight.

Jet intake specialist "Agent Fred", a white goose of unknown parentage who is in league with the Canadians.

Photo showing sneak attack training. Should the suicide jet engine strike tactic fail, it is thought they were to resort to hissing at and pecking as many people as they could. In case that too failed, plan C was to just pretty much poop all over everything.

Shown at their training facility on Butterworth Parkway in Moline, an recruit bellows a battle cry as he practices proper fan jet attack procedure using a mock-up of the Airbus A320's V2500 engine. Young Canuck recruits look on.

Perhaps most shocking, the Canadian terror geese have set up "madrassas" to inculcate their fiendish evil-doing evil into the minds of their young, shown here with visions of evil-doing dancing in their heads during nap time.


Clearly we have not been vigilant enough. We got lucky this time, with all passengers safely rescued. But if you thought nameless "evil-doers" were tough to stop, try Canadian Geese.

Please, if you hear anyone punctuating their speech with "Eh?", or being suspiciously polite, honest, and tolerant, or ordering back bacon, please report them to the Homeland Uber Alles Defense Force Corp immediately.

If we all work together and get really, really scared, we can authorize those in power to do literally anything they want as long as they tell us they need to in order to keep us safe. Please do your part in mindlessly going along.

Remember, Canadian geese hate our freedom.

Throwing an innaugural bash? Want to find one?

I'm sure there will be literally millions of celebrations across the country this coming Tuesday, and literally around the world. And with good reason. This gang of criminally inept and irresponsible crooks is FINALLY on their way out the door, and at this moment, there is a great reserve of hope for a better day residing in people around the world.

Moveon.org has a site where you can find innaugural celebrations around you, or at least the ones that have registered there, which you can check out here.

There's still time to plan a gathering or arrange to meet at a local watering hole to usher out the darkness and ring in the new.

Aside from the D.C. events, which one veteran has described as incredibly expensive and crowded disappointments, there's events being held in Chicago as well, including what appears to be the biggest arranged by former Obama staffers and held at McCormick Place. (tickets will set you back $175 minimum.)

Tuesday will be a great national and international event, one you're sure to tell your grandkids about. While it will be great to experience no matter what, it will no doubt be even more fun to experience it with others who share the sense of relief, gratitude, excitement, and hope that the day will bring.

If you know of any local gatherings planned for the 20th, or are planning to host one yourself, please let us know!

January 16, 2009

Our long national nightmare is (almost) over


This country, and the world, is almost rid of a President who never should have been placed in office to begin with.

At the time, millions hoped that at least he wouldn't do too much damage before he left office. Well, that hope has long since been dashed.

Perhaps the political reporter from BET said it best when describing George W. Bush's attitude during his recent pathetic attempt to sell his legacy as anything but a miserable failure.

She said his message is, "I may not always be right, but I'm never wrong."

And that's it. The shallow frat boy, the guy who never really appeared to even want to be president, then once there, ran the country as if he were still the goofy governor of Texas who has no real responsibility for governing. (In Texas, the Lt. Governor does all that hard stuff, the Gov. is largely a figure-head.)

Hundreds of books have already been written on the various colossal blunders, stunningly stupid, arrogant, ignorant, and venal attitudes and actions of Bush and his incompetent administration. "How hard can it be?" seemed to be his guiding principle. "So what?", his inspiring creed.

The era will be known as the rise of the ignorant, the revenge of the C student, and the worst presidency of modern times.

I've neither the stomach nor the capacity to even begin to scratch the surface of all the things that have occurred during this destructive era, much of which the general public is completely ignorant of.

There's dozens of books which have already been written documenting the most egregious, and doubtlessly, there will be hundreds, if not thousands, more written about just how bad it really was, now that the Don of the Bush Mafia has been exiled. Maybe some will finally emerge to reveal the truth without as much fear of being rubbed out either figuratively or literally.

There will be much to celebrate on January 20th.

But it's really hard to determine if the cause of the joy will be due to finally getting this gang of know-nothing right wing assholes away from where they can do anymore damage, or the fact that common sense and informed and rational thought is making a return to the White House, and may rub off on Capitol Hill.

Myself, I will be celebrating the end of this dark chapter in American history.
The mere fact of not having to look at Bush's genetically damaged mug, or listen to his brain damaged attempts at the English language, not having to watch his ridiculous swagger, his infuriating sneer, and the endless stream of bullshit that emerges every time he moves his lips.

Bush thought being president wouldn't be that tough. Karl and Dick would take care of the hard part. He could just hang out in Crawford, and just pop up every once in a while to try to sell their bullshit to the public. The whole thing was run as though it was nothing but an ad campaign. We the people were just a bunch of patsies that they could placate with phony appeals to mindless patriotism and macho bluster, and constant and never-ending appeals to fear, endless threats, nameless and largely imagined, and the assurance that no one but Bush could magically keep us safe.

Well, how could you doubt that? They did a hell of a job protecting us from 9-11. But of course, in Bush world, his administration didn't start until September 12, rather than 9 months earlier.

And despite repeated warnings, including a memo entitled, "Bin Laden determined to strike within U.S.", anti-terror budgets were eliminated, Ashcroft told an aid he didn't want to hear about al Queda anymore, and Condoliza Rice, the most incompetent and failed National Security Director and Secretary of State in generations, actually said before a congressional committee that, "...nobody could have imagined that terrorists would use airplanes as weapons.", despite the fact that intelligence had been warning of just that for years.

"How could we have possibly been prepared for that?", Rice asked, in one of the worst examples of outright lying and bullshit put out by this gang. And it got worse. Trying to avoid any responsibility or even accountability, a pursuit which seemed to occupy most of the time of the entire administration, who bizarrely seemed congenitally incapable of ever admitting even the slightest error, Rice actually tried to argue, and Bush flying monkeys parroted the idea, that well, yeah, we did know al Queda was planning to attack us, and maybe with hijacked planes, but we didn't know the EXACT DAY AND TIME they were planning to do it, so, obviously, you can't blame us for having such a shitty response and doing zero to prevent it.

And perhaps it's worth remembering that during those days, which they now constantly insist were so earth-shattering that anyone would have made mistakes, one decision Bush managed to make mere hours after the attack was to allow the private jets of Saudi oil billionaires to be the ONLY aircraft allowed in the air post attack to fly around the country picking up their kids and relatives and flying them back to the country where 15 of the 19 terrorists lived.

Bush is left scraping the barrel for anything he's accomplished, and left trying the flimsy claim that it was he who has kept us safe from attack since 9-11.

The foiled plots they point to are all extremely minor, and none of them amounted to anything but a few crack-pots who were plotting attacks they couldn't possibly pull off anyway. None of these cases were in any way related to al Queda at all.

In Bush's mind, and wingnuts still in denial, the fact that al Queda has kept quiet is attributable to Bush's actions.

And in the rooster's mind, his crowing causes the sun to rise.

Both claims are equally dubious.

And it just goes on and on and on, from shredding the constitution and breaking the law by spying on U.S. citizens without any oversight, committing clear war crimes by directly authorizing torture, devastating environmental protections and giving away millions of acres of federal land to mining and logging corporations, allowing media consolidation which has wrecked both the quality and Independence of the news we receive, turning our nation from a subject of near universal sympathy and solidarity in the wake of 9-11 to a weakened power with little credibility or moral authority at all, and the list goes on and on an on and on and on.

If anything, the only saving grace of this mind-boggling dereliction of duty and shirking of responsibility in favor of sheer greed and abuse of power may be that it clearly illustrated exactly what a leader should NOT do. George, Dick, Don, Condi, and the rest, thanks for being a shining beacon to the world of just how bad it can be when we're conned into thinking that smart people are dumb, science is baloney, the President would never lie us into a war costing thousands of U.S. lives and hundred of thousands of innocent lives just for some goofy notion that it would be easy and self-aggrandizement. A person who clearly views the in comic book terms, as if it's all nothing but a game of Risk with no consequences, isn't the person you want leading this country or any other.

Maybe the final tragedy of the Bush era will be that George W. Bush will be proven right. He came in as a spoiled brat kid who had never fully matured, who's entire life consisted of opportunities handed to him, his blowing it, and family friends coming in to bail him out. And the more he failed, the higher up he rose until we ended up with this.

His response to the fact that his decisions were nearly universally thought to be bad and often tragic mistakes were met with, "So?" That sums up his attitude.

He made decisions from the "gut", as he pointed out, and never sweated the consequences. Self examination or introspection was for wussies and egg-heads, not for George W. Bush. "Who cares? No skin off my nose." was his guiding principle.

And now as he walks away back into the life of a billionaire prince, he'll be proven right.

There ARE no consequences. Not for George W. Bush.

He'll never lose a second of sleep over the hundreds of thousands of innocents he's caused to be slaughtered, or the needless deaths of thousands of U.S. servicemen and women and the grief their deaths leave behind, all killed while he dithered and played for time to run out the clock in Iraq for his political benefit.

No, his conscience won't bother Bush in the slightest, because he's practiced at it. As he's boasted several times, he doesn't look back, doesn't worry, and never thinks twice about what he's done. In other words, he has no conscience. So no consequences there.

He'll live like a billionaire with everything he could ever want or need given to him, including everyone around him treating him with the highest respect and deference. The many billionaires whose wealth Bush has helped double or triple will shower him with perks and luxuries. No consequence there.

There will never be any investigation, or at least none that will be allowed to get too close to holding him accountable for his actions. No consequence there.

Ah, but history. Surely history will not be kind to George W. Bush. That's got to hurt him, right?

Nope. Not in the slightest. He's stated on more than one occasion that he couldn't care less about what historians say about him. First of all, he thinks everyone's got him all wrong, that he really was a great president.

Secondly, historians are them pointy headed intellectuals (aka intelligent people), and he has nothing but contempt for people like that anyway.

And besides, Bush showed us his attitude about being judged by history when asked by Bob Woodward how it would judge the Iraq invasion, when he responded, "History. We don't know. We'll all be dead." Translation? "I don't give a shit."

Ain't he clever? heh heh Just the kind of juvenile thought process we need in the White House. And it's not like he didn't give us thousands of clues going back to prior to 2000. The American people were sold a bill of goods and the Supreme Court did the rest. And then they were manipulated and stampeded by fear (and a Dem candidate who was lackluster at best) into making the same mistake again in 2004, a mistake of judgement on a cosmic scale that will confound historians for ages.

And as a consequence of George W. Bush, the very wealthiest were allowed to run rampant, literally looting the country, with the help of Bush and Republicans allowing them to rig the game every chance they got and however they wanted, bleeding the middle class white, and using the "War on Terror" as if it were the world's largest ATM, we now stand poised on the brink of decades of economic decline and hardship for millions of hard working Americans.

They weren't content simply with doubling the national debt and hanging the bill for their rampage on our children and their children. No, they kept going until the entire country will have to pay the cost of their wholesale looting in the near term and beyond.

Bush and the Republicans got their way. They did things the way they wanted, and they managed to bring the world's strongest economy to it's knees a mere 8 years after being handed an enormous surplus, the first in decades.

So so long George W. Bush. So long stupid cackle, so long government of, by, and for, the highest bidder. So long having a president run this country as if it were his own damn baseball franchise or something, that he could do with whatever the hell struck him at the moment.

So long to having an arrogant, incurious, spoiled man-child run the country and cause untold death, misery, and anti-American hatred which will last generations.

So long George, you shallow, arrogant, asshole. Like your entire life, others are left to clean up the messes you leave in your wake. We and the next few generations of Americans, Americans who've managed to survive your reign of error, will try to undo the lasting damage you've done.

January 11, 2009

A Burris under their saddle, and the Hokey Mom strikes again there also

Oh yeah... Gov. Sarah Perhapstherealso is flat out dumb, a little crazy, incredibly shallow, and deeply, deeply delusional about herself and should never be taken seriously by anyone. But then again, maybe those traits make a person destined for greatness in politics?

EVERYTHING is someone else's fault, usually some vague boogie-man that plays to the conservatives love of conspiracy, like "the mainstream media" which essentially doesn't exist. Palin and other right wing flacks pretend the entire "media" engaged in horrible attacks, whining about the horrible things said about her kids. (Yet when pressed by the mean mainstream reporters as to just who said these things, they draw a blank, or admit it was some supermarket tabloid or obscure blog comment. I guess that qualifies as the "mainstream media" to them.)

Palin has no shame, as she's made clear for some time. She actually tried to suggest that Carolyn Kennedy is getting kid glove treatment from the press because "perhaps" there might be a class issue involved (also). Kennedy has been getting battered eight ways to Sunday by both the local NY press and the national media, but so eager is Palin to exploit class resentment among her "low information" base, that she couldn't stop herself from going for it, even though the suggestion is preposterous.

Poor Sarah Palin and her struggling working class family that pulled down $250,000 last year (not counting hubby's silk undies and the $150,000 plus in high-falutin' city duds courtesy of the Republican party, which she says they're going to return or give to charity. Anyone want the first dude's underwear? Anyone? Anyone? Beuller?). They're being picked on and looked down on by those suspicious "media elite".

She said (also) that if she were nominated on the Dem ticket, that she would have been treated much better in the press.

This is so dumb on so many levels it's hard to know where to begin (or end). Suffice to say that the Democrats would NEVER nominate an unqualified, un-vetted dim bulb like that to any presidential ticket, EVER, (and neither will the Republicans do so again, it is hoped.) so the point is moot.

But if in bizarro world, the Dems nominated someone with the background of Palin, someone who said the idiotic things she has, with the bizarro family she heads, with the ethical clouds over their heads she had, the association with fringe political parties she and the "first dude" had, who came across as some dim beauty pageant contestant (which she essentially is) during her first few (and only) national interviews, then whined relentlessly about it afterwords as if complaining that there weren't supposed to be HARD questions in a beauty pageant, and that the judges were so mean, then yeah, I think the media would have treated her WORSE than they treated her and her family this time around. I was astounded at just how much credibility and legitimacy the press and pundits actually gave her, laboring mightily to pretend she was somehow legitimate at all.

The press and even the pundit corp were obviously walking on eggshells trying desperately to avoid coming across as unfair to her, as the baseless charges of sexism and bias blasted out of the McCain camp. She got off easy! Very few in the media dared point out the obvious... that Palin was a joke.

But now the small town girl has gotten a taste for the bright lights, and, gosh darn it, she's not ready to fade back to the obscurity she so richly deserves.

So she's out there pluggin' away, trying to somehow polish up her disastrous candidacy, blaming it all on everyone else, while at the same time continuing to demonstrate clearly and convincingly to a majority of Americans that they were indeed correct in judging her grossly unqualified for any office above mayor of Wasilla, the meth capitol of Alaska, and nothing more than a tragi-comic Jerry Springeresque side show.

With no awareness of or apparent interest in how she is percieved, Palin now refuses to just GO AWAY. Rather, she has the gall to continue to peddle her standard complaint that the media was unfair to her for, I guess, reporting anything at all about her dysfunctional family or actually quoting her accurately.

She cited Obama's edict that his family and wife be off limits to the press, trying to make it seem like the press laid off Obama's family, but were terrible and unfair to hers. But of course Obama's young girls weren't out there standing behind him at every campaign stop. And Palin is too stupid to realize that the Obama girls are utterly innocent young children. The press didn't say anything about Palin's younger children other than how cute they were. (I can't even remember her other kids besides the pregnant one and the cutie who slicked down the baby's hair at the convention.)

But in Palin-land, when an 18 year old daughter of a rabid social conservative who loudly and incessantly pointed to her family as evidence of how wholesome she was, is revealed to be about to have a child out of wedlock, the press should have completely ignored it and not reported it at all. No news there, move along.

After all, they didn't report any bad stuff about the OBAMA girls. They're SO biased.

And of course, she never mentions Obamas very stern statement on the subject of kids that if anyone in his campaign were found to have said a word about any of Palin's kids, they'd be bounced out on their asses immediately.

And when Palin trotted around with her poor infant as if he was an overstuffed football, coming on stage holding him like a prop and mugging for the crowd long enough for effect, then quickly passing it off like a hot potato to the baby wrangler so she could begin her crazy slurs against Obama, then yeah, maybe her family was fair game. (By the way, why didn't they just use a prop baby. It would have had the same effect and would have been less wear and tear on poor Tripe, or Trots, or Truck or whatever his name is.)

But according to Sarah, if one of the Obama girls were a teen and pregnant and it wasn't announced for some time, the press wouldn't say a thing, since they're so "elite" and biased, don't cha know.

Or if the Obamas then announced that their daughter and the baby's daddy were going to wed and everything was going to be just peachy, but after using the poor young man as a prop throughout the campaign, he got the hell out of there as soon as it was over, the press wouldn't have breathed a word about it.

And if it was revealed that the Obama's had pulled some strings and got this kid a job in the oil fields, apparently as an inducement to stick around and get hitched, but the guy decided to bolt intead, both from the job AND the prospect of having Sarah Palin as a mother-in-law (The kid is smarter than he looks.) the elite media would never have DARED to report that, if it had been the Obamas instead.

Then it emerges that the baby daddy's dear old Mom got popped for multiple felony drug charges just after the election was over, but it emerged that the cops were set to make the bust BEFORE the election, but pressure was applied for them to wait until afterwards. (makes ya wonder if McCain had won, if she ever would have been charged at all.), but of course, this was only lightly reported at all because, the elite media hate Palin, not because it's news.

As a matter of fact, most of this has been decidedly underplayed in the press. But of course, Palin is clueless to any of it in her eagerness to play the martyr and try to salvage what little credibility she still clings to.

All this is apparent to most people, but apparently not in the beauty pageant world of Sarah Palin there.

The obvious fact which must not be uttered is that Sarah Palin has absolutely NOTHING by way of qualifications for any higher office, has never come up with, let alone uttered a single idea or policy proposal, nor demonstrated any knowledge whatsoever OF any policy or anything to do with governance AT ALL in all the hours of TV time she's had.

She preferred instead to spend about 99% of the exposure she has gotten (due to her freak show attraction, not due to her as a politician) whining endlessly. She's done essentially nothing but pretend to be "Joe Sixpack" while cravenly grasping to become one of the "elites" she supposedly dislikes.

Palin has not uttered a rational, intelligent sylable to do with the problems our country faces or what she'd do about it since she was tossed onto the national stage months ago, and despite the fact that she's had far, far more attention and airtime than she ever deserved, she shows absolutely no sign of having learned a damn thing along the way.

That's just her. Unqualified. Incurious. Largely ignorant and damn proud of it. And utterly and completely unable or unwilling to view the world through anything other than her own incredibly narrow and self-centered lens.

But her stupidity and unpreparedness isn't HER fault. Nothing is, according to her. It's the McCain campaigns, and those naughty reporters who actually asked her legitimate questions and then thought it odd when she couldn't manage to give a straight answer to their "gotcha" questions, like what newspapers and magazines do you read. The nerve of those "elites"!

And she's willing and anxious to continue to use every dishonest trick in the book to continue to sway the gullible and uninformed into thinking there's anything more to her than a mass of hot air, Rovian political scheming, hairspray and hypocrisy. Go for it Hokey Mom! You gonna have a big career and become the first female president? You betcha... perhaps... there.... also.

And then there's Roland Burris.

His best qualification seems to be that he's a nice guy. (and apparently not an outright crook) Nothing wrong with that, obviously, and lord knows we could use more nice guys around.

Roland Burris is a nice guy. Deeply weird, but a really nice guy.

Burris saw fit to spent a huge amount of money on his own mausoleum, essentially a huge marble shrine to himself, complete with his entire resume engraved on it, including not only that he was the first black elected to state-wide office in Illinois, but also such immortalizing accomplishments as his being the first black national bank examiner for the U.S. Treasury Department and that he was the first black Southern Illinois University exchange student to the University of Hamburg in Germany.

Oh, and lest we forget, Burris was also the first non-CPA to be on the board of the Illinois CPA Society. Now THAT'S a trick. Not sure it's something to be remembered for the ages, but apparently Burris thought so. Generations from now, visitors can read that and murmur, "Wow", in hushed reverence.

There's probably still room to mention that he was the head hall monitor in school and that he once helped an old woman across the street. And that he was the first black person to have a career exactly like his career.

Burris also often refers to himself in the third person. (ala Bob Dole), which I find incredibly odd, not to mention annoying as hell, and he also named his son Roland Jr. and his daughter Rolanda. (ala George Foreman.)

I find all of it more than a little weird, especially since he had the monument erected probably while he was still in his 60's. What kind of person erects essentially a monument to his own greatness before he can even be considered elderly? Or while they're still alive, for that matter?

But then again, I think to be a politician in this state, it's a law you have to have a screw loose somewhere. I mean, look around. It seems that Durbin and Obama are the only two who appear "normal" in the usual sense of the word. It's like the rest all have some sort of raging egos, paranoia, or drug and/or alcohol problems (at least that would explain a lot.)

Know a good dermatologist?



I think I may have a problem. My skin is REALLY red and chapped, there's little tufts of hair growing out for some reason, and one of my fingers is sprouting little teeth. Should I be worried? Or is this normal?
(Click on the pictures to get a good look.)

Or maybe I got the pictures mixed up with pictures of something else. What could it be?

January 6, 2009

Is latent racism the bedrock of the Republican party?

A recent column pointing out the crucial role racism has played in nearly everything the Republican party has done over the last several decades got a lot of attention, and rightfully so.

To what extent is racism the underlying strain that runs through all of Republican policy and thought?

Me? I've always recognized the intense strain of racism, both overt and coded, that ran through nearly every Republican policy position. And it's probably that fact that has spelled it's downfall.

Read the piece and leave your thoughts.

Paul Krugman in the New York Times:

As the new Democratic majority prepares to take power, Republicans have become, as Phil Gramm might put it, a party of whiners.

Some of the whining almost defies belief. Did Alberto Gonzales, the former attorney general, really say, “I consider myself a casualty, one of the many casualties of the war on terror”? Did Rush Limbaugh really suggest that the financial crisis was the result of a conspiracy, masterminded by that evil genius Chuck Schumer?

But most of the whining takes the form of claims that the Bush administration’s failure was simply a matter of bad luck — either the bad luck of President Bush himself, who just happened to have disasters happen on his watch, or the bad luck of the G.O.P., which just happened to send the wrong man to the White House.

The fault, however, lies not in Republicans’ stars but in themselves. Forty years ago the G.O.P. decided, in effect, to make itself the party of racial backlash. And everything that has happened in recent years, from the choice of Mr. Bush as the party’s champion, to the Bush administration’s pervasive incompetence, to the party’s shrinking base, is a consequence of that decision.

If the Bush administration became a byword for policy bungles, for government by the unqualified, well, it was just following the advice of leading conservative think tanks: after the 2000 election the Heritage Foundation specifically urged the new team to “make appointments based on loyalty first and expertise second.”

Contempt for expertise, in turn, rested on contempt for government in general. “Government is not the solution to our problem,” declared Ronald Reagan. “Government is the problem.” So why worry about governing well?

Where did this hostility to government come from? In 1981 Lee Atwater, the famed Republican political consultant, explained the evolution of the G.O.P.’s “Southern strategy,” which originally focused on opposition to the Voting Rights Act but eventually took a more coded form: “You’re getting so abstract now you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is blacks get hurt worse than whites.” In other words, government is the problem because it takes your money and gives it to Those People.

Oh, and the racial element isn’t all that abstract, even now: Chip Saltsman, currently a candidate for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee, sent committee members a CD including a song titled “Barack the Magic Negro” — and according to some reports, the controversy over his action has actually helped his chances.

So the reign of George W. Bush, the first true Southern Republican president since Reconstruction, was the culmination of a long process. And despite the claims of some on the right that Mr. Bush betrayed conservatism, the truth is that he faithfully carried out both his party’s divisive tactics — long before Sarah Palin, Mr. Bush declared that he visited his ranch to “stay in touch with real Americans” — and its governing philosophy.

That’s why the soon-to-be-gone administration’s failure is bigger than Mr. Bush himself: it represents the end of the line for a political strategy that dominated the scene for more than a generation.

The reality of this strategy’s collapse has not, I believe, fully sunk in with some observers. Thus, some commentators warning President-elect Barack Obama against bold action have held up Bill Clinton’s political failures in his first two years as a cautionary tale.

But America in 1993 was a very different country — not just a country that had yet to see what happens when conservatives control all three branches of government, but also a country in which Democratic control of Congress depended on the votes of Southern conservatives. Today, Republicans have taken away almost all those Southern votes — and lost the rest of the country. It was a grand ride for a while, but in the end the Southern strategy led the G.O.P. into a cul-de-sac.

Mr. Obama therefore has room to be bold. If Republicans try a 1993-style strategy of attacking him for promoting big government, they’ll learn two things: not only has the financial crisis discredited their economic theories, the racial subtext of anti-government rhetoric doesn’t play the way it used to.

Will the Republicans eventually stage a comeback? Yes, of course. But barring some huge missteps by Mr. Obama, that will not happen until they stop whining and look at what really went wrong. And when they do, they will discover that they need to get in touch with the real “real America,” a country that is more diverse, more tolerant, and more demanding of effective government than is dreamt of in their political philosophy.

January 2, 2009

2008, A look back from Tom Tomorrow

Take it away, Tom.

And... Part Two.