Archive for July, 2008

McLame Running the Campaign He Said He Wouldn’t

Posted in politics on Wednesday, 2008 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

Mr. Honorable Respectable Serious Public Servant We All Respect, John McLame McSame McCain has over the past week or so turned into a childish name-caller. Is this part of some attempt to look younger? By constantly launching misleading and outright false criticism thru what he says and his campaign advertisements, McCain is proving that he is just not, well, Presidential. Unless we’re still cool with “Presidential” meaning like George W. Bush.

Of course there’s been his line about Barack Obama caring more about winning the election than the war. There was that completely false ad that claimed Obama canceled his visit to injured troops because the Pentagon wouldn’t allow cameras.

And now he’s stooped to the lowest in a new low:

“He’s the biggest celebrity in the world. But is he ready to lead? With gas prices soaring, Barack Obama says no to offshore drilling and says he’ll raise taxes on electricity. Higher taxes, more foreign oil — that’s the real Obama,” says the new ad that also shows crowds screaming “Obama!”

Top McCain adviser Steve Schmidt said it was accurate to compare Obama to the two celebrities who, as one reporter said on the call, are of ten portrayed as “frivolous and irresponsible.”

“I don’t poll Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, but I know they’re international celebrities, so apples to apples,” he said.

That’s just flat-out disrespectful and inappropriate. I realize that Barack Obama hasn’t been sitting around in the Senate isolated from the real world for the last 25 years, but I think he’s done enough to at least deserve some basic respect and not be compared to two young untalented starlets famous for being tabloid train wrecks. That’s simply not fair and way out of bounds. Especially when Obama and his surrogates cant even utter the words “John McCain” without first setting it up with the required “I have a lot of respect for his service to our country and he’s a true patriot who should be honored by all of us, but…”

Let’s talk policy. Why doesn’t McCain talk about how/why his administration and leadership of this country would differ from Obamas? Yes, Barack Obama is treated like celebrity by the media and the people in this country and all over the world. Get over it. Stand up and tell us while you’ll be the better President instead of taking immature cheap shots like this. It’s disgusting, especially coming from the guy who promised the respectful campaign that we need and deserve.

Responding to the ad, Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor said, “On a day when major news organizations across the country are taking Sen. McCain to task for a steady stream of false, negative attacks, his campaign has launched yet another. Or, as some might say, ‘Oops! He did it again.’ “

UPDATE

Apparently Barack Obama agrees with me:

“You know, I don’t pay attention to John McCain’s ads, although I do notice he doesn’t seem to have anything to say very positive about himself,” Obama said, according to NBC’s First Read blog. “He seems to only be talking about me … You need to ask John McCain what he’s for and not just what he’s against.”

Ron Artest to the Houston Rockets

Posted in sports on Wednesday, 2008 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

I actually like this move. I know, there’s a decent chance this guy could spontaneously combust or melt down or whatever. But there’s also a chance that he’s still a great player who finally gets it and maybe isn’t as crazy as he used to be. It’s very possible. He likes Rockets coach Rick Adelman, Houston is a major market that Artest might enjoy living in as much or more than Sacramento. And, oh by the way, the Rockets have Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming and some nice roll players. I say even with a couple short injury stretches for McGrady and/or Yao, this team will contend for the top seed in the Western Conference.

Getting ready to chase a title together?

Rush Limbaugh’s False Premise Strikes Again

Posted in politics on Friday, 2008 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

I shouldn’t even give that pathetic right-wing blowhard the time of day, or space on my blog, but here’s some of Rush Limbaugh’s misguided and misleading reaction to Barack Obama’s speech in Berlin:

So now he has to go apologize for the United States of America. This is just beyond the pale. He’s talking to Germans and making excuses for the United States of America? Exactly right. This is insulting. It is demeaning. But ladies and gentlemen, if you are wondering when you hear Obama talk about change, this is it. The change is: America sucks, America’s deficient, America’s guilty. He lives in America, likes the country, but he’s a citizen of the world. And he has to go over to Germany, and I don’t know about you, but I’m frosted. That was Barack Obama ripping his own country.

Wow. Unfortunately, some voters will get so dizzy from this ridiculous spin that they will actually believe it. “Obama went to Germany and RIPPED AMERICA!!”

Really? When did Obama say that America sucks? How exactly did he rip his own country? Let’s take a look at the passages from Obama’s speech that got Limbaugh so riled up:

People of Berlin, people of the world, this is our moment. This is our time. I know my country has not perfected itself. At times we struggle to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people, we’ve made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.

We acknowledge that there is no more powerful example than the one each of our nations projects to the world. Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law? Will we welcome immigrants from other lands and shun discrimination against those who don’t look like us or worship like we do and keep the promise of equality and opportunity for all of our people?

Hmm… so now admitting that the U.S. isn’t perfect, rejecting torture, shunning discrimination, and keeping the promise of equality and opportunity is now deemed as “insulting” and making excuses for America and held up as an example of “Obama ripping his country.”

I know, we should expect and ignore such simple-minded drivel from an idiot like Rush Limbaugh. But I’m concerned about the sadly large percentage of the population that will buy into this faulty logic.


Olympic-sized Irony

Posted in politics on Tuesday, 2008 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

In the UK, The Guardian reports:
In a damning criticism of US integrity, the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said ministers should no longer take at face value statements from senior politicians, including George Bush, that America does not resort to torture in the light of the CIA admitting it used waterboarding. The interrogation technique was unreservedly condemned by Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who said it amounted to torture.”

Salon.com’s Glenn Greenwald comments:
“If Britain — one of America’s closest allies during the Bush era — is openly proclaiming that it cannot trust the word of our government, then who can? For the British to conclude in a formal Report that the U.S. is essentially an untrustworthy rogue nation when it comes to human rights abuses – ‘The committee’s conclusions amount to saying we can no longer rely on assurances from a US administration that purports to uphold the civil and political standards of behaviour,’ as MP Andrew Tyrie put it — is about as potent an indictment of how far we’ve fallen as one can imagine.”

Amid this backdrop, President Dumbass King George actually said the following in a White House send-off of American athletes heading to the Olympics:
“In Beijing you will convey our nation’s most cherished values. As ambassadors of liberty, you will represent America’s love for freedom and our regard for human rights and human dignity.”

Hahahahaha!!

The Dark Side

Posted in books, politics on Monday, 2008 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

Last week saw the release of what looks to be another great (and damning) book about the Bush Administration: The Dark Side: the Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals by Jane Mayer.

From the Salon review by Louis Bayard:

The very first Sunday after the 9/11 attacks, Vice President Dick Cheney descended like a cloud on “Meet the Press” to outline the Bush administration’s response. “We’ll have to work sort of the dark side, if you will. We’ve got to spend time in the shadows in the intelligence world. A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies — if we are going to be successful. That’s the world these folks operate in. And, uh, so it’s going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal basically, to achieve our objectives.”
Around the nation, one presumes, numbed heads were nodding in approval. Whatever it takes to get those bastards. The true nature of our Faustian bargain would not become clear until later, and maybe it needed a journalist as steely and tenacious as Jane Mayer to give us the full picture. “The Dark Side” is about how the war on terror became “a war on American ideals,” and Mayer gives this story all the weight and sorrow it deserves. Many books get tagged with the word “essential”; hers actually is.

In a New York Times opinion column, Frank Rich points out that, “In [Mayer's] telling, a major incentive for Mr. Cheney’s descent into the dark side was to cover up for the Bush White House’s failure to heed the Qaeda threat in 2001. Jack Cloonan, a special agent for the F.B.I.’s Osama bin Laden unit until 2002, told Ms. Mayer that Sept. 11 was ‘all preventable.’ By March 2000, according to the C.I.A.’s inspector general, ’50 or 60 individuals’ in the agency knew that two Al Qaeda suspects — soon to be hijackers — were in America. But there was no urgency at the top. Thomas Pickard, the acting F.B.I. director in the summer of 2001, told Ms. Mayer that when he expressed his fears about the Qaeda threat to Mr. Ashcroft, the attorney general snapped, ‘I don’t want to hear about that anymore!’”

From Andrew J. Bacevich’s review of Mayer’s book in The Washington Post: “As Mayer makes clear, the White House seized upon the prospect of open-ended war with alacrity. And why not? In the near term at least, going to war almost invariably works to the benefit of the executive branch. War elicits deference from Congress and the courts. As a wartime commander-in-chief, the president wields greater clout. In this particular case, war also helped deflect demands for accountability: Despite what Mayer describes as ‘the worst intelligence failure in the nation’s history,’ the aftermath of 9/11 saw not a single senior official fired.”

Bloomberg’s Craig Seligman takes note of how the book traces torture and other atrocities directly back to Vice President Dick Cheney, his chief aide David Addington, former secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and former Justice Department lawyer John Yoo: “Wrapping themselves in the flag, repeating the mantra ‘security’ and attacking anyone who questioned this insanity as soft on terrorism, they succeeded in disgracing their country before the world, and now they deserve to be called what they are: traitors. In a just world they would be prosecuted and convicted.”

According to some of the books’ revelations reported in the Washington Post, “A CIA analyst warned the Bush administration in 2002 that up to a third of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay may have been imprisoned by mistake, but White House officials ignored the finding and insisted that all were ‘enemy combatants’ subject to indefinite incarceration, according to a new book critical of the administration’s terrorism policies.

“The CIA assessment directly challenged the administration’s claim that the detainees were all hardened terrorists — the ‘worst of the worst,’ as then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said at the time. But a top aide to Vice President Cheney shrugged off the report and squashed proposals for a quick review of the detainees’ cases.”

The book quotes Cheney staff director David Addington as saying, “There will be no review. The president has determined that they are ALL enemy combatants. We are not going to revisit it.”

This all seems to echo the opinion of the late historian Arthur Schlesinger: “the Bush administration’s extralegal counterterrorism program presented the most dramatic, sustained and radical challenge to the rule of law in American history.”

Time Capsules: the first half of 2008

Posted in music, time capsules, top 10 lists on Friday, 2008 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

“Time Capsules” is our way of putting some of our favorite albums from particular years into a… little, um, time capsule so music fans can read our reviews of notable releases from various years. We were going to take the actual CD’s and launch them into space in real time capsules, or bury them in the ground so future generations and/or aliens could be sure to find the best CD’s preserved. But that seemed a bit pricey and foolish. Plus, aliens (and/or future generations) aren’t likely to go digging thru the ground looking for stuff, they’ll probably just poke around on the internet. Let’s hope they find this site sooner than later.

From the first half of 2008…

THE BEST:
Stephen Malkmus – Real Emotional Trash

The Raconteurs – Consolers of the Lonely

Drive-By Truckers – Brighter Than Creations Dark

Nas – the untitled album formerly known as Nigger

THE REST:
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Dig! Lazarus Dig!
Felice Brothers – Felice Brothers
My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges
Vampire Wekend – Vampire Weekend
Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis – Two Guys With the Blues
Countin Crows – Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
Death Cab for Cutie – Narrow Stairs
Old 97s – Blame It on Gravity
Mike Doughty – Golden Delicious
The Roots – Rising Down
Beck – Modern Guilt
Girl Talk – Feed the Animals

THE JURY’S STILL OUT:
Black Crowes – Warpaint
Portishead – Third

Some 2007 albums getting lots of play for me as “new”
Public Enemy how you sell soul to a soulless people who sold their soul
Band of Horses – Cease to Begin
Nine Inch Nails – Year Zero
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss – Raising Sand
Jason Isbell – Sirens of the Ditch

We have to be comfortable, we’re fighting TERROR!

Posted in politics on Friday, 2008 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

Once again, I wish this was some fake news story from The Onion, but no, this is the lead story in many papers across the country. From R. Jeffery Smith’s story on the front page of the Washington Post:

The Air Force’s top leadership sought for three years to spend counterterrorism funds on “comfort capsules” to be installed on military planes that ferry senior officers and civilian leaders around the world, with at least four top generals involved in design details such as the color of the capsules’ carpet and leather chairs, according to internal e-mails and budget documents.
Air Force officials say the government needs the new capsules to ensure that leaders can talk, work and rest comfortably in the air. But the top brass’s preoccupation with creating new luxury in wartime has alienated lower-ranking Air Force officers familiar with the effort, as well as congressional staff members and a nonprofit group that calls the program a waste of money.
Air Force documents spell out how
each of the capsules is to be “aesthetically pleasing and furnished to reflect the rank of the senior leaders using the capsule,” with beds, a couch, a table, a 37-inch flat-screen monitor with stereo speakers, and a full-length mirror.

Another 16.2 MILLION dollars down the drain. Yea, we’re “winning” all right.

Hey Big Oil, You Gonna Finish That?

Posted in politics on Thursday, 2008 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

Sure, everyone knows that opening up more U.S. territory to drill for oil won’t really produce a drop of oil for at least 5-10 years and likely would have no immediate impact on gas prices, and very little impact on long-term prices at the pump.

Well, everyone knows this except President Dumbass and his boy John McInsane, who admitted “Even though it may take some years, the fact that we are exploiting those reserves would have a psychological impact that I think is beneficial.” Huh? A “psychological impact that I think is beneficial” how? Cuz it sounds good? Cuz it might win you votes among the people that fall for such obvious pandering as this and the horrendous and laughable “gas tax holiday” idea?

But one little fact that’s been grossly under-reported and usually not even mentioned in all the hoopla about opening up more U.S. territory to drilling….
As reported by CNNmoney.com back at the end of June:

Oil companies and many lawmakers are pressing to open up more U.S. areas for drilling. But the industry is drilling on just a fraction of areas it already has access to.
Of the 90 million offshore acres the industry has leases to, mostly in the Gulf of Mexico, it is estimated that upwards of 70 million are not in production, according to both Democrats and oil-industry sources.
Oil companies “should finish what’s on their plate before they go back in line,” said Oppenheimer analyst Fadel Gheit.

See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Ask No Evil

Posted in politics on Thursday, 2008 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

On Tuesday, the Washington Post’s Dan Froomkin made a great point:

“At Bush’s hastily scheduled press conference this morning — his first in over two-and-a-half months — not a single reporter asked him about torture. It’s understandable that the primary focus was on the economy. But couldn’t someone have at least asked whether he still maintains that the U.S. hasn’t tortured detainees? And if he does, how he defines torture?”

Following the Money in Pakistan

Posted in politics on Tuesday, 2008 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

For anyone looking for a million here to pay off some mortgages or a billion or so there to build some schools … there’s the recent “news” that the U.S. cant account for or was swindled out of $2 billion of the $5 billion it has been giving to Pakistan to “help us in the war on terror.” That’s billions with a B.

As the LA Times reported on 6/25/08:

WASHINGTON — The United States has paid more than $5 billion to reimburse Pakistan for counter-terrorism expenses that have often been exaggerated, if not fabricated, according to a government audit released Tuesday that blasts the Pentagon for poor management of the program.

The report concluded that the Pentagon could not properly account for as much as $2 billion in payments to Pakistan over a three-year period from 2004 to 2007.

Auditors uncovered an array of questionable costs, including $45 million for roads and bunkers that may never have been built; $200 million for the operation of air defense systems even though Al Qaeda has no known aircraft; and overcharges for meals and vehicles used by Pakistani troops.

Overall, the report by the Government Accountability Office concluded that the Defense Department had routinely covered costs without verifying that they “were valid, actually incurred, or correctly calculated.”

The Pentagon has paid about $5.6 billion to Pakistan in counter-terrorism reimbursement funds in the nearly seven years since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, by far the largest sum paid as part of the program to a counter-terrorism ally.

The document is the latest in a series of studies to criticize the Bush administration’s management of the Coalition Support Funds program, which was created in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks and has doled out billions of dollars to 27 nations.

The GAO also documented apparent overcharges for meals and vehicle maintenance. During one period, the Defense Department was paying the Pakistani navy more than $3.7 million per year in repair and maintenance charges on “a fleet of fewer than 20 passenger vehicles” that was never used in combat. The charges amounted to more than $19,000 per month for each vehicle.

Pakistan sometimes seemed to be double-dipping, submitting separate charges for “vehicle damage” and “cost of vehicles repaired” without explaining the difference between the two categories.

Bobby Wilkes, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Central Asia, acknowledged breakdowns in oversight but defended the program, saying the support funds are “critical to our eventual success in Afghanistan and the war on terror.”

Wow. Really? Yup. There was also something about it the same day in the Washington Post:

The Bush administration has paid Pakistan more than $2 billion without adequate proof that the Pakistani government used the funds for their intended purpose of supporting U.S. counterterrorism efforts, congressional auditors reported yesterday. Their report concluded that more than a third of U.S. funds provided Pakistan since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were subject to accounting problems, including duplication and possible fraud.
“It seems as though the Pakistani military went on a spending spree with American taxpayers’ wallets and no one bothered to investigate the charges,” said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Washington should “stop pouring money into a black hole,” Harkin said.
Pakistan is the largest recipient of Coalition Support Funds as part of a counterterrorism effort the Bush administration launched in 2001 after the terrorist attacks against New York and Washington. Pakistan has received more than $5.5 billion of the nearly $7 billion distributed to 27 countries over the past six years.
“Apparently, the Bush administration cares so little about the hunt for Osama bin Laden that it is barely paying attention to how the Pakistani military is carrying out the fight,” Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement. “It’s dangerous to treat the battle against al-Qaeda so casually, and it’s unfair to American taxpayers to be so careless with billions of their dollars.”

Surely there must be some kinda mistake, right? Pretty incredible that we could be so easily and blatantly ripped off of $2 billion dollars. (Or the whole $5, when you consider that we’re not getting much “help” at all from them…. More on that below.) I mean, if I don’t pay $1700 of my taxes I bet that I will have serious problems and the U.S. Government would demand and eventually get that money back.
Did we all know how much our government was giving to Pakistan? It sounded familiar. Turns out there was this little piece Mother Jones back in March of 2007:

Pakistan Gets Fat $4.2B Check, Now 3rd Largest Recipient of US Military Aid
03/28/07
The Center for Public Integrity informs us that thanks to a Defense Department program- Coalition Support Funds (CSF)- Pakistan is now the third largest recipient of all US military aid and assistance, following the heels of Israel and Egypt….

The three years prior to September 11, 2001, US military aid to Pakistan was $9.1 million. Three years after 9/11, it was more than $4.2 billion, a 45,000% increase. Since 9/11, Pakistan has been awarded a total of over $10 billion.….

According to figures provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) between 1954 and 2002, the US provided a total of $12.6 billion in economic and military aid to Pakistan. Of this, the majority, $9.19 billion was given during 24 years of military rule, only $3.4 billion was given to civilian regimes which ruled for 19 years.

On average, US aid to Pakistan amounted to $382.9 million for each year of military rule compared with only $178.9 per annum under civilian leadership for the period until 2002.

So much for “spreading democracy.”

—Neha Inamdar, Mother Jones

I wanted to keep following the money. We sure did have an interesting relationship with Pakistan. Obviously they must be good friends and allies if we give them $5 billion dollars for their “help” and never ask for any receipts. Turns out that General Mahmoud Ahmad, who was the head of the ISI (Pakistan’s CIA) in 2001, was the person who gave orders to Saeed Sheikh, an ISI agent, to wire $100,000 to Mohammed Atta on September 10, 2001.

What? Well i’m sure we smoked that guy out of his hole and brought him to justice (after torturing him, of course)… right? Uh, not exactly….. Shortly after 9/11, he was forced to “retire” in some fashion. But it turns out that he had been meeting with the Director of the CIA George Tenet, along with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, as well as Porter Goss, Bob Graham, and other members of various congressional intelligence committees, in the days just before, during, and following 9/11.

That seems a bit odd. The guy who ordered $100,000 to be wired to Mohammed Atta was meeting with high-ranking U.S. officials while the planes were hitting the towers. And this was (quietly) reported by such mainstream outlets as the Wall Street Journal, Salon, United Press International, and the Washington Post.
But the 9-11 Commission Report didn’t mention any of this, and left the money question unresolved, saying: “The U.S. government has not been able to determine the origin of the money used for the 9/11 attacks. Ultimately the question is of little practical significance.”

Oh.

I thought we were supposed to wage war on all the evil doers and the countries that finance and harbor terrorists? Isn’t Bin-Laden still hiding out along Pakistan’s border? Didn’t they wire money to the hijackers? Instead, we not only gave them $5 billion to “help” us…. But they overcharged/misplaced/stole $2 billion of it.

On top of all that…. It was just back in April that the Associated Press reported:
“Terrorists are still operating freely in Pakistan along the country’s Afghanistan border, despite the U.S. giving Pakistan more than $10.5 billion in military and economic aid, according to a government watchdog agency. The Government Accountability Office says in a report released Thursday that the U.S. lacks a comprehensive plan to deal with the terrorist threat.”

Well, if they’re not doing anything but taking the money, we can be confident that the United States is certainly doing something about the terrorists there… right?

Nope. Just the other day the AP had this story:

Pakistan: U.S. not hunting bin Laden on its turf
July. 12, 2008
NEW YORK – Pakistan’s top diplomat said Saturday there are no U.S. or other foreign military personnel on the hunt for Osama bin Laden in his nation, and none will be allowed in to search for the al-Qaida leader.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said his nation’s new government has ruled out such military operations, covert or otherwise, to catch militants.

“Our government’s policy is that our troops, paramilitary forces and our regular forces are deployed in sufficient numbers. They are capable of taking action there. And any foreign intrusion would be counterproductive,” he said Saturday. “People will not accept it. Questions of sovereignty come in.”

But keep the money coming….

Who thought that following money trails could get so dizzying? In my travels, I finally came across this little gem: the folks over at Vetvoice.com happen to stumble upon this article from The Nation from the spring of 2001:

Enslave your girls and women, harbor anti-US terrorists, destroy every vestige of civilization in your homeland, and the Bush Administration will embrace you. All that matters is that you line up as an ally in the drug war, the only international cause that this nation still takes seriously.
That’s the message sent with the recent gift of $43 million to the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan, the most virulent anti-American violators of human rights in the world today. The gift, announced last Thursday by Secretary of State Colin Powell, in addition to other recent aid, makes the United States the main sponsor of the Taliban and rewards that “rogue regime” for declaring that opium growing is against the will of God. So, too, by the Taliban’s estimation, are most human activities, but it’s the ban on drugs that catches this administration’s attention.
Never mind that Osama bin Laden still operates the leading anti-American terror operation from his base in Afghanistan, from which, among other crimes, he launched two bloody attacks on American embassies in Africa in 1998.
Sadly, the Bush Administration is cozying up to the Taliban regime at a time when the United Nations, at US insistence, imposes sanctions on Afghanistan because the Kabul government will not turn over Bin Laden.

Ah…. The good old days…..

Let’s Do Nothing About Global Warming But Add More Hot Air

Posted in politics on Friday, 2008 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

I wish I was kidding. But this is really the lead story on today’s WashingtonPost.com:

EPA Won’t Act on Emissions This Year
Instead of New Rules, More Comment Sought

At first glance I thought it was a headline from The Onion. But no, it’s not a joke, it’s real. That’s right. We need more talking about global warming. What are they waiting for, a sequel to Al Gore’s movie? More evidence? More scientific studies for the government to edit, censor, or ignore? According to the lead:

The Bush administration has decided not to take any new steps to regulate greenhouse gas emissions before the president leaves office, despite pressure from the Supreme Court and broad accord among senior federal officials that new regulation is appropriate now.

Well that’s great. Let’s not take any steps. Let’s stand around on the sidewalk scratching our heads while the anvil and piano come crashing down on our heads to kill us.

The story continues:

The Supreme Court, in a decision 15 months ago that startled the government, ordered the EPA to decide whether human health and welfare are being harmed by greenhouse gas pollution from cars, power plants and other sources, or to provide a good explanation for not doing so. But the administration has opted to postpone action instead, according to interviews and documents obtained by The Washington Post.

To defer compliance with the Supreme Court’s demand, the White House has walked a tortured policy path, editing its officials’ congressional testimony, refusing to read documents prepared by career employees and approved by top appointees, requesting changes in computer models to lower estimates of the benefits of curbing carbon dioxide, and pushing narrowly drafted legislation on fuel-economy standards that officials said was meant to sap public interest in wider regulatory action.

The decision to solicit further comment overrides the EPA’s written recommendation from December. Officials said a few senior White House officials were unwilling to allow the EPA to state officially that global warming harms human welfare.

This is just sick and disgusting, but not at all surprising. Well, I guess the good news is I dont have to worry about saving for retirement or a college fund for my kid since we might not be around much longer. That’s a relief.

And this comes just a couple days after the Post ran this story:

Cheney’s Staff Cut Testimony On Warming

Members of Vice President Cheney’s staff censored congressional testimony by a top federal official about health threats posed by global warming, a former Environmental Protection Agency official said yesterday.
In a letter to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), former EPA deputy associate administrator Jason K. Burnett said an official from Cheney’s office ordered last October that six pages be edited out of the testimony of Julie L. Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Gerberding had planned to say that the “CDC considers climate change a serious public health concern.”

Gee, Uncle Dick decided that we can’t even SAY that climate change is a serious health concern. Aren’t these the people who keep telling us they are the only ones who can keep us safe? And that their main concern (above the Constitution, above Human Rights, above our children’s well being and education, above the economy and housing crisis, above energy independence) is to KEEP US SAFE??

Can someone please explain to me how ignoring climate change, and flat-out censoring scientific findings that could help save our planet and the human race, is keeping us safe?

Cartoonist Tom Toles does a pretty good job summing up the Bush Administration’s policy on climate change:

Top 10 "Best 3 Consecutive Albums"

Posted in music, top 10 lists on Wednesday, 2008 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

I think the title is clear enough: these are the 10 best 3-consecutive album runs. The only general guidelines were: no live albums, no ep’s, no greatest hits/collections, and of course they had to be 3 in a row by the same artist. here’s the list, in no particular order:

1. Bob Dylan
Bringing it All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde on Blonde. If you don’t automatically nod your head in knowing concurrence with the greatness of these three releases, stop wasting time on the computer and go buy these CD’s. And to think that 40 years later he posted Time Out of Mind, Love and Theft, and Modern Times. A solid run that late in a career, but not great enough to make this list.

2. Rolling Stones
Let it Bleed, Sticky Fingers, and Exile on Main Street. Steven Van Zandt (Silvio Dante, E Street guitarist, and underground garage rock DJ extraordinaire) once said, “Beggars Banquet to Exile on Main Street make up the greatest run of albums in history—all done in three and a half years.” Sorry Little Steven, we only have room for three on this list.

3. The Beatles
Rubber Soul, Revolver, and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Or: Sgt. Pepper, Magical Mystery Tour, and the white album. Or: Help!, Rubber Soul, and Revolver… or… you get the idea.

4. Jimi Hendrix
Are You Experienced?, Axis Bold as Love, and Electric Ladyland. Wow. Three amazing albums that each stand on their own as bonafide “desert island classics” on their own. Not bad considering this was almost his whole studio output during his lifetime. Incredible considering this was done within about two years.

5. Neil Young
Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, After the Gold Rush, and Harvest. Once again, with an artist this good you could pick a different three. I picked these.

6. Bruce Springsteen
The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle, Born to Run,and Darkness on the Edge of Town. This has it all, from funky seaside sound and rambling lyrics of the early days, to his definitive classic, and on into Darkness, where the dreams imagined on Born to Run awoke to stark realities. (A more consistent thematic trilogy might be BTR, Darkness, and The River, but for overall quality I’ll stick with these three.)

7. U2
Under a Blood Red Sky, Unforgettable Fire, and The Joshua Tree. I skipped Wide Awake in America because it’s an EP. While many people hail War as one of their best (and I agree), I think Under a Blood Red Sky is a good live representative of most of the War tunes. If I could skip Rattle and Hum for not being a “real” proper studio release, then Unforgettable, Joshua, and Achtung Baby would also be a good trio.

8. A Tribe Called Quest
Peoples Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, Low End Theory, and Midnight Marauders. Three truly great albums from a peak era in hip-hop. Still gets heads nodding.

9. Radiohead
The Bends, OK Computer, and Kid A. I was tempted to start with OK and go through Amnesiac. And some people might start with Kid A, skip the Live Recordings release and go through Hail to the Thief.

10. OutKast
Aquemini, Stankonia, and Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. No explanation necessary. If you don’t know you better axe somebody.

Honorable Mention.
Wilco: Being There, Summerteeth and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

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