Thursday, May 28, 2009

only 1 option Dems in Congress: GRILL HER!



Sonia Sotomayor truly appears to be a fabulous pick for the Supreme Court by President Obama, w/ the exception of one...gigantic...problem: her abortion rights record. Or, rather, what little there is of it. However, there is this ruling of hers, which is precisely the law/rule/directive Bush implemented as soon as he got in office, and the same exact one Obama eliminated once he got in office:

"In a 2002 case, she wrote an opinion upholding the Bush administration policy of withholding aid from international groups that provide or promote abortion services overseas."

Read that again. And again. And there are other rulings/opinions she's written throughout her career, which make me, a militant pro-choicer and abortion-rights activist EXTREMELY CONCERNED about this pick (I am also "pro-life," by the way, as in: "I like life," life is a good thing! I support 'life' in general, for all things living!)...

Look, if Dems now have the power to confirm whoever they want - and they do - they also have the power to DENY any pick Obama makes. If Sonia Sotomayor is not pro-choice, Congress MUST DENY HER a seat on the bench. PERIOD. Is she? Isn't she? Only one way to find out: GRILL HER! - sj


Click here, to read some more very interesting details and the entire great report by the NY Times.

Joe Sestak to challenge Specter in next year's primary?


Joe sestak, it appears, with only one completed term as a Representative in the US House, is ready to go toe to toe with Arlen specter in next year's primary for US Senator. I've met Joe a few times, as he represents those of us who live in PA's 7th District, and while his personality/speaking voice is a bit too measured and strange for my taste (yeah, that's the worst thing I can say about him), he's a superb and effective Democrat. Much more so than Specter is or could be. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer called him the most productive freshman member of congress the year before last. Read more about him here. Perhaps his biggest victory so far (surely one of the more satisfying things from the 2006 election) is him beating up on Curt Weldon, the tragic, unamerican, Republican House Member who "led" the 7th District for two decades, and mercifully ended his dysfunctional career. Maybe he can do the same to Arlen "the Clown" Specter. - sj

From Huffington Post, yesterday...

Rumors that Rep. Joe Sestak, (D-PA) intends to challenge Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) in the Pennsylvania Democratic primaries have been confirmed, TPMDC reported today. The site received a handwritten note from Sestak to a supporter asking for donations. Sestak's sister, Meg Infantino, who works for Sestak for Congress, confirmed the report.

Specter is planning to run for re-election next year after recently switching parties to avoid a primary challenger in the Republican field.

Sestak confirmed that he intends to throw his hat in the ring in a conversation today with Wolf Blitzer on CNN's "The Situation Room." Said Sestak:

"Wolf, I personally have made a decision that I intend to get in this race with one other item. I haven't sat down and had the time to sit down with my 8-year-old daughter or my wife to make sure that we are all ready to get in."

Sestak emphasized that he is not worried about clashing with the White House, although President Obama has thrown his weight behind Specter and has vowed to campaign for him. Sestak noted that he had not been contacted by the White House and expressed dissatisfaction with the administration's decision to line up behind Specter

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

News: Obama will nominate Sotomayor to SCOTUS


Judge Sonia Sotomayor is an appeals court judge in New York, appointed to the 2nd Circuit by President Clinton in 1998. She will be only the third woman in history to sit on the court, and the first Hispanic.
Of course, the wingnuttosphere is already full of exploding heads:

Wendy E. Long, counsel to the Judicial Conformation Network, criticized her support for "quotas" and "racial preferences." She called Sotomayor "a liberal judicial activist of the first order who thinks her own personal political agenda is more important than the law as written."

This is gonna be fun. Let's hope Minnesota finally gets to seat their 2nd Senator, and not let the dinosaur that is the GOP make a mockery of the process.

Sotomayor, Ouote (from 1997 nomination hearing): "I don't believe we should bend the Constitution under any circumstance. It says what it says. We should do honor to it."
Amen.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Thanks.

It doesn't really matter which one of these you fly, have a peaceful Memorial Day:













Memorial Day: RECOGNIZE!


Some thoughts on Memorial Day...

Memorial Day, at its core, is a day when we take time to remember, honor, champion, and recognize the extraordinary people who did something we didn't: died serving their country in the armed forces. This includes those people who died in a war, or other type of conflict, as well as those who died while training in the military, at any point in our country’s history.

Soldiers and military members, ultimately, do as they're told, to the best of their ability. This is their job description for as long as they're a member of our armed forces. This means hardcore, dangerous training, and at times, fighting in wars. Sometimes it means dying while doing your job. So we honor those people for that sacrifice.

I honor many people on Memorial Day, but I especially honor Michael Cooke, who was/is a friend of mine, and whom I served with in the Marine's 2D Reconnaissance Battalion (one of the Marine's Special Operations’ Forces), for 4.5 years. He is from the region (Horsham, PA), and is the only child of Joan Cooke, who still lives there. I visit his resting place with his mom occasionally, sometimes on Memorial Day.

I was there when he died, as we served in Desert Storm together. He was the only one from our Battalion who died during that conflict. He earned a Bronze Star with Valor, for his extraordinary observation and technical skills, while on a highly dangerous mission in enemy territory. His mission was to negotiate, observe, discern and chart the minefields that Saddam Hussein's defenses had established just inside the Kuwaiti/Saudi Arabian border, so that the whole of international forces could pass through them, unabated. Well, he succeeded in that extremely precarious venture, but upon return to our location, while routinely unloading gear and weaponry, one of his hand grenades exploded directly next to him, and he died instantly. The good news is that he didn't know this was about to happen, and he didn’t feel a thing. He was there one second, and the very next second he was gone.

Not a week has gone by in 19 years that I don't think about him. Michael, we miss you dude. And we honor you. Joan, have a peaceful Memorial Day.

Remember folks, soldiers don't start wars. Soldiers suffer in wars.

The least we can do on Memorial Day is honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice, while serving their country.



Memorial Day salutation: People often ask me, if it’s proper to say “Happy Memorial Day!” While I’ve said this at times, it may not always be the most appropriate thing to say; on its surface, it sounds a bit strange. But the important thing is to acknowledge the meaning of the day, and respect the sacrifice servicemen and women made, while sharing that recognition with surviving family members and friends, as well as active military members.

I’ve searched several times for a standard or ‘etiquettely-correct’ salutation and haven’t been able to find one. But below are some possibilities. Use your best judgment.

-“Have a peaceful Memorial Day”
-“Have a good Memorial Day”
-“I/we remember your sacrifice today”
-“Our prayers are with you today.”
-“Have a blessed Memorial Day.”
-“I’m thinking of you on Memorial Day.”
-“I share your loss on Memorial Day.”

Friday, May 22, 2009

Juice the Tribe!

Baseball humor from Andy Borowitz:
The national pastime suffered another black eye last night when a mob of irate Cleveland Indians fans poured onto the diamond at Progressive Field to demand that their team take steroids.

Displeasure with the championship-starved squad reached a boiling point with the news that slugger Manny Ramirez took performance-enhancing drugs -- but only after leaving the Indians.

When asked by ESPN if he ingested the banned medication while playing for Cleveland, Mr. Ramirez shrugged his shoulders and replied, "What would be the point of that?"

Mr. Ramirez is just the latest in a long line of baseball players who have refused to take steroids while playing for the Indians, says fan Chuck Goulardi, 49, the leader of last night's protest.

"Manny's comment was the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back," says Mr. Goulardi, who has seen his 'roid-free Tribe fall to their juiced-up competition more times than he can recall. "These players are paid good money, and all we're asking them to do is take one measly shot in the ass."

But getting the Indians to start taking steroids may be easier said than done, says former slugger Jose Canseco, the author of the controversial tell-all book Juiced. 



"On more than forty occasions I sneaked into the Cleveland clubhouse, offering to shoot those guys up with 'roids," says Mr. Canseco. "No takers." 



Last night's melee was only the latest display of dissatisfaction on the part of Cleveland fans, who earlier this season demanded that the giant TV screen on the outfield scoreboard show a different game.


Sigh. Yeah, that's how we feel.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Read it and fucking weep: unemployment to peak above 10% next year


No one has been more accurate during the last decade than the Congrssional Budget Office, with regards to accounting for where the government's cash is going, what it takes to pay for everything, unemployment/job loss numbers, predictions looking forward on what money will be left, what will be needed, and "all-things US economy." So, here you go. - sj

U.S. unemployment likely to peak above 10 percent: CBO

Thu May 21, 2009 10:24am EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. economy will likely start growing again in the second half of this year but unemployment will likely keep rising through 2010 to peak over 10 percent, the Congressional Budget Office said on Thursday.

"The growth in output later this year and next year is likely to be sufficiently weak that the unemployment rate will probably continue to rise into the second half of next year and peak above 10 percent," CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf said in prepared testimony to the U.S. House Budget Committee.

It will likely take several years for the unemployment rate to fall back to levels seen before the recession hit, in the neighborhood of 5 percent, he said in the prepared remarks.

(Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

like..."duh...and stuff" White House plans first-ever emission limits for nation's vehicles

Now that Bush is gone (and republicans were voted out), I bring you Act XII... - sj

(From Huffington Post, yesterday).

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama plans to propose the first-ever national emission limits for cars and trucks as well as average mileage requirements of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016 _ all costing consumers an extra $1,300 per vehicle. Obama's plan couples for the first time pollution reduction from vehicle tailpipes with increased efficiency on the road. It would save 1.8 billion barrels of oil through 2016 and would be the environmental equivalent to taking 177 million cars off the road, senior administration officials said Monday night.

The plan also would effectively end a feud between automakers and statehouses over emission standards _ with the states coming out on top but the automakers getting a single national standard and more time to make the changes.

The plan still must clear regulatory hurdles at the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department. The administration officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the formal announcement by Obama was scheduled for Tuesday.

New vehicles would be 30 percent cleaner and more fuel efficient by the end of the program, according to officials familiar with the administration's discussions. The officials also spoke on condition of anonymity because the formal announcement had not been made.

click here or on title of story for rest of informative report.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

What if your taxes + Government COULD take care of your most important needs? They do in these countries!


This is a quick, good, enlightening read, especially for those who attend tea-bag parties or think socialist ideals or higher taxes are bad. See, as Americans, even if we know where all the taxes we pay actually go, surely we can agree we're not getting back what we pay for. That is not the case in most of these top 10 happiest countries. (clik on title of this post for original story). - sj

The Top 10 Happiest Countries in the World

May 15th, 2009
The happiest taxes on earth
More people are satisfied in heavily tariffed nations
By Thomas Kostigen, MarketWatch

Northern Europeans are the happiest people on the planet, according to a new survey. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says people in Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands are the most content with their lives. The three ranked first, second and third, respectively, in the OECD's rankings of "life satisfaction," or happiness.

There are myriad reasons, of course, for happiness: health, welfare, prosperity, leisure time, strong family, social connections and so on. But there is another common denominator among this group of happy people: taxes.

Northern Europeans pay some of the highest taxes in the world. Danes pay about two-thirds of their income in taxes. Why be so happy about that? It all comes down to what you get in return.

The Encyclopedia of the Nations notes that Denmark was one of the first countries in the world to establish efficient social services with the introduction of relief for the sick, unemployed and aged.

It says social welfare programs include health insurance, health and hospital services, insurance for occupational injuries, unemployment insurance and employment exchange services. There's also old age and disability pensions, rehabilitation and nursing homes, family welfare subsidies, general public welfare and payments for military accidents. Moreover, maternity benefits are payable up to 52 weeks.

Simply, you pay for what you get. Taxes in the U.S. have taken on a pejorative association because, well, we are never really quite sure of what we get in return for paying them, other than the world's biggest military.

Healthcare and other such social services aren't built into our system. That means we have to worry more about paying for things ourselves. Worrying doesn't equate to happiness.

The U.S. ranked 11th on the OECD list. In addition to the top three, we were beat out by Sweden, Belgium, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland and Norway. To be sure, we were ahead of France, Great Britain, Japan and China, among many others. But we can do better.

With the highest gross domestic product in the world, we are the richest country. On a per capita basis, though, we don't even make the top 10. The U.S. ranks 15th in this category, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Denmark -- maybe because they are happy -- ranked fifth. Other, more "satisfied" countries also earn more on an individual income basis. Oh yes, and the average workweek in Scandinavian countries is less than the U.S.'s

We need to take better care of ourselves.

It may not just be taxes, of course, that lead to happiness. There are other factors to consider. But better social services and less worry about having to pay for things such as medical bills, retirement and education do help with the happiness factor.

Yet, we are so dead set against paying more taxes that it's even spawning nationwide protests. Tea party, anyone?

Maybe it's time that we looked at taxes differently. We have to pay them anyway. So they might as well make us happy. If Northern Europe is any benchmark, the more we'd pay the happier we just may be.

Friday, May 15, 2009

FINALLY: Prosecutors Will Question Karl Rove on US Attorney Firings



About time. I sincerely hope we can get to the bottom of this mess someday. There is no doubt in my mind Rove/Bush broke the law when it came to these firings. There is so much more to this story than most people are aware of. The 'magically-missing' emails had to do with these firings, and the real reason behind the firings is quite disturbing: some of the fired prosecutors claimed they thought the real reason they were fired, was because they were not pursuing and prosecuting voter fraud in their states. Here's the rub: there was no voter fraud in those states. Bush, Rove, other top dog scum corrupt republicans were forcing prosecutors to 'find' voter fraud cases and trump them up by the dozens, so they would have a good foundation and argument/reason to pass anti-voter fraud legislation; legislation, which (based on whatever myriad of ID-ing mandates implemented) would disenfranchise a great many democrats from voting (minorities, elderly, the less-educated, et al). If this prosecution heats up, I will be posting much more on this story. I have lots of well-sourced information backing up this claim. - sj

Prosecutor To Interview Rove Today, Sources Say

By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 15, 2009

Karl Rove will be interviewed today as part of a criminal investigation into the firing of U.S. attorneys during the presidency of George W. Bush, according to two sources familiar with the appointment.

Rove, a former senior aide to Bush, will be questioned by Connecticut prosecutor Nora R. Dannehy, who was named in September to examine whether former Justice Department and White House officials lied or obstructed justice in connection with the dismissal of federal prosecutors in 2006.

Robert D. Luskin, an attorney for Rove, declined to comment. Tom Carson, a spokesman for Dannehy, also declined to comment.

Dannehy has operated mostly out of the public spotlight, issuing subpoenas for documents through a federal grand jury in the District. But in recent weeks, she has interviewed other government aides, including former White House political deputies Scott Jennings and Sara Taylor.

Dannehy also has reached out to representatives of former senator Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.) and his chief of staff, Steve Bell, to determine whether New Mexico U.S. Attorney David C. Iglesias was removed improperly.

The firings were the focus of a lengthy report released last fall by the Justice Department's inspector general and the department's Office of Professional Responsibility. Investigators there uncovered improper political motivations in the dismissal of several of the nine fired federal prosecutors.

But the department's own probe was thwarted in part because its investigators did not have the authority to compel testimony from Bush White House advisers and lawmakers.

Legal experts say that a particular source of interest for Dannehy will be statements that officials made to the inspector general and to Congress about the episode, which could lead to charges of perjury or obstruction of justice. Outcry over the firings contributed to the departure of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, his chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson, and Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty.

The prosecutor firings also are the subject of intense interest from the House Judiciary Committee, which sued former Bush aides Harriet E. Miers and Joshua B. Bolten for access to testimony and documents. Rove is also tentatively scheduled to provide closed-door testimony to House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and other members of the panel next month.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mitchell Landsman's "Disorders of Fantasy" Philly Art Opening Tonight!


If you are in or near the Philadelphia region the next couple of weeks (or up for a definitely-worth-while road trip), then you must check out Mitchell Landsman's new art! Here are the details:

The Random Tea Room & Curiosity Shop Cordially Invites You To Attend
Disorders of Fantasy - The Art of Mitchell Landsman
Thursday, May 14th through the 29th
Opening Reception May 14th, from 6PM to 9PM
Head there tonight for Come nice cheeses and snacks, good wine, and unicorns!
713 North 4th St. - between Brown & Fairmont; 267-639-2442

Mitch is a good friend, and without question, one of the best (yeah, yeah, I know Art is subjective) Artists in Philadelphia, and beyond. Definitely go see his work in person if you can! If you can't, then check out his highly-original art on his webapge, here!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

McCain campaign manager: GOP should back same-sex marriage

This is from a couple weeks ago. Even during the 2008 campaign, and knowing he worked for the enemy, I liked this guy. He's a real 'go-getter.' No idea was too crazy, he'll say anything, and although he didn't ultimately win, he had a lot of great ideas and worked tirelessly. He reminds me of James Carville in his early years, a little bit. Check it out. - sj

From Dana Bash
CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent

A key architect of Republican Sen. John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign has urged conservatives to drop their opposition to same-sex marriage.

In a speech Friday to Log Cabin Republicans, a conservative gay rights group, Steve Schmidt said allowing same-sex marriage is in line with the conservative credo of keeping government out of people's private lives.

"There is a sound conservative argument to be made for same-sex marriage," Schmidt, who was McCain's campaign manager, told the group. "I believe conservatives, more than liberals, insist that rights come with responsibilities. No other exercise of one's liberty comes with greater responsibilities than marriage. In a marriage, two people are completely responsible to and for each other."

He added: "If you are not willing to accept and faithfully discharge those responsibilities, you shouldn't enter the state of matrimony, and it doesn't make a damn bit of difference if you're straight or gay. It is a responsibility like no other, which can and should make marriage an association between two human beings more fulfilling than any other."

Schmidt told CNN that the GOP must become more open if it wants to reverse a shrinking coalition, especially among younger, more accepting voters.

read rest of story here or click on title of post.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

another late night rant about another "powerful catholic leader" I can't stinking stand.


this is really unbelievable. I mean seriously. If I remember correctly, 52% of Catholics voted for Obama; that's what REALLY has these extreme christians going. From HuffPo, last Friday, w/ my first thoughts in italic...sj

WASHINGTON — A powerful Catholic leader on Friday accused President Barack Obama of pushing an anti-life, anti-family agenda and called Notre Dame's invitation for him to speak scandalous.

Sad but true. He is powerful. His ilk, although fading fast from mattering, and dying off slowly but surely, are nothing if they're not powerful. These "powerful catholic leaders" influence a lot of people. By and large, they're not all that compassionate; they're not terribly bright either. But they are powerful. And they make things happen. Many, many, many people out there listen to "powerful catholic leaders," such as this guy (and the pope), and follow them. And when the pope says on a trip to Africa (a country that is imploding w/ more death than you can imagine, w/ AIDS and lack of education being a major culprit), that "condoms won't stop the spread of AIDS, and may actually help spread it," it doesn't matter that it's a 100%, absolute, proven, factual lie. What matters is these people listen to him. They can't help it. They're BELIEVE in him. How could the Pope be steering them wrong?! So they stop using condoms, and more people die, who otherwise, would not (with proper education, based on facts and science). Thanks, Pope! Now If that's not anti-life, I don't know what is!

Archbishop Raymond Burke, the first American to lead the Vatican supreme court, said Catholic universities should not give a platform, let alone honor, "those who teach and act publicly against the moral law."

Moral law? What a euphemism that is. I think it breaks down to what "one ought or ought not do." Look, no one who thinks we were all born sinners, and that some of us will live forever in heaven after we die, and the rest of us are going to hell when we die, is gonna dictate to me ANYTHING. Please. There is no moral law in the real world. And extreme christians wonder why the rest of us get so offended that they're church is polluting our state? Didn't we break away from England for this nonsense?

Notre Dame has asked Obama to deliver the commencement address on May 17, an invitation that has drawn criticism from a number of Catholics. The university has said the president will be honored as an inspiring leader who broke a historic racial barrier.

"The proposed granting of an honorary doctorate at Notre Dame University to our president, who is so aggressively advancing an anti-life and anti-family agenda is rightly the source of the greatest scandal," Burke said to applause from the crowd at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast.

I love those in charge at Notre Dame University. Love them. It's too bad they have to put up w/ this religious leader who is just flat out lying (too bad for all of us), when he says that Obama is "aggressively advancing an anti-life and anti-family agenda." That's is an outright lie. No, he is not.

Obama supports abortion rights and embryonic stem cell research. He also repealed a policy that denied federal dollars to international relief organizations that provide abortions or abortion-related information. And he backs legislation that would prohibit state and local governments from interfering with a woman's right to obtain an abortion.

Beautiful; you go dog! That's why we hired you! But seriously, supporting women's rights, and funding research that SAVES lives, is good, right?

Burke called the confirmation of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, a Catholic who supports abortion rights, "the source of deepest embarrassment for Catholics."

Christ. The deepest? Is it really deeper than the "embarrassment" that Catholics feel when their church leaders, priests, cardinals and bishops coerce little boys into all forms of sex, and/or rape them outright; by the HUNDREDS, perhaps thousands? Cracka, please!!

Burke, who formerly led the Archdiocese of St. Louis before leaving for the Vatican, has made headlines in the past. In 2004, he said he would deny Communion to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, a Catholic who supports abortion rights as part of public policy.

Man, he's a real charmer. Yes, public policy is what matters in this country, and it's how we govern. We don't govern with religion! Again, isn't this why we left England?

In 2007, Burke indicated he would do the same to then-Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani. He also protested singer Sheryl Crow's appearance at a benefit for a Catholic children's hospital over her support for embryonic stem cell research. In January 2008, Burke called on Saint Louis University, a Jesuit school, to discipline college basketball coach Rick Majerus for publicly supporting abortion rights.

What does the Vatican want this guy for; their entertainment coordinator? Doesn't he have real work to do?

Burke said if Catholics are not willing to stand up for the church's teachings, "we are not worthy of the name Catholic."

Whatever, dude. Bottom line is, more and more Catholics are not willing (that's why the church's numbers are fading); in fact, they're deeming the Church's teachings (and leadership) not worthy. Why? Because they're seeing things more clearly these days; things that actually matter in their everyday lives, are trumping things that may or may not happen in their "after-lives."

I wish I could be there this Sunday to join the fight against this "powerful catholic leader" (a fight, HE started). But I'll have to settle for C-Span.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Freedom, YES! Capitalism, NO!


Great piece on NPR over the weekend, backing up what many of us have been saying for years: in a Capitalist society, you MUST have regulations, because greed trumps all else; Capitalism begats greed. Simply, people cannot be trusted. Therefore, they must be regulated. Until two years ago, Judge Richard Posner was a diehard 'free markets' guy. Our current recession/depression has woken him up. Click here or click on title of this post to hear the 5 minute interview. - sj

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Hamas 'Peace' Gambit



I don't often agree with Chuck Kraut, but I do when it comes to Israel's never-ending war with all the enemies on their border. To say there are many layers and a plethora of complicated issues when it comes to that region (Palestine, Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Gaze, et al.) would be a gigantic understatement; all sides have at least a few good points. But there is one thing that is pure and simple: surviving. When the bottom-bottom line is just an "us or them" choice, then the end surely justifies the means. That's why the euphemism "disproportionate response" (which gained traction thanks to an irresponsible media a few years ago, when Syria/Lebanon/Hezbollah/Iran rained rockets on Israeli civilians) doesn't work, and is useless in situations like this. One, because there are no rules in war. Period. And two, because of the word "response": if you're dumb enough to provoke a response in the first place, you lose the right to complain about the response; whatever it is. - sj

The Hamas 'Peace' Gambit
By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, May 8, 2009

"Apart from the time restriction (a truce that lapses after 10 years) and the refusal to accept Israel's existence, Mr. Meshal's terms approximate the Arab League peace plan . . ."-- Hamas peace plan, as explained by the New York Times

"Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?"-- Tom Lehrer, satirist

The Times conducted a five-hour interview with Hamas leader Khaled Meshal at his Damascus headquarters. Mirabile dictu, they're offering a peace plan with a two-state solution. Except. The offer is not a peace but a truce that expires after 10 years. Meaning that after Israel has fatally weakened itself by settling millions of hostile Arab refugees in its midst, and after a decade of Hamas arming itself within a Palestinian state that narrows Israel to eight miles wide -- Hamas restarts the war against a country it remains pledged to eradicate.

There is a phrase for such a peace: the peace of the grave.

Westerners may be stupid, but Hamas is not. It sees the new American administration making overtures to Iran and Syria. It sees Europe, led by Britain, beginning to accept Hezbollah. It sees itself as next in line. And it knows what to do. Yasser Arafat wrote the playbook.

With the 1993 Oslo accords, he showed what can be achieved with a fake peace treaty with Israel -- universal diplomatic recognition, billions of dollars of aid, and control of Gaza and the West Bank, which Arafat turned into an armed camp. In return for a signature, he created in the Palestinian territories the capacity to carry on the war against Israel that the Arab states had begun in 1948 but had given up after the bloody hell of the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

Meshal sees the opportunity. Not only is the Obama administration reaching out to its erstwhile enemies in the region, but it begins its term by wagging an angry finger at Israel over the Netanyahu government's ostensible refusal to accept a two-state solution.

Of all the phony fights to pick with Israel. No Israeli government would turn down a two-state solution in which the Palestinians accepted territorial compromise and genuine peace with a Jewish state. (And any government that did would be voted out in a day.) Netanyahu's own defense minister, Ehud Barak, offered precisely such a deal in 2000. He even offered to divide Jerusalem and expel every Jew from every settlement remaining in the new Palestine.

The Palestinian response (for those who have forgotten) was: No. And no counteroffer. Instead, nine weeks later, Arafat unleashed a savage terror war that killed 1,000 Israelis.

Netanyahu is reluctant to agree to a Palestinian state before he knows what kind of state it will be. That elementary prudence should be shared by anyone who's been sentient the last three years. The Palestinians already have a state, an independent territory with not an Israeli settler or soldier living on it. It's called Gaza. And what is it? A terror base, Islamist in nature, Iranian-allied, militant and aggressive, that has fired more than 10,000 rockets and mortar rounds at Israeli civilians.

If this is what a West Bank state is going to be, it would be madness for Israel or America or Jordan or Egypt or any other moderate Arab country to accept such a two-state solution. Which is why Netanyahu insists that the Palestinian Authority first build institutions -- social, economic and military -- to anchor a state that could actually carry out its responsibilities to keep the peace.

Apart from being reasonable, Netanyahu's two-state skepticism is beside the point. His predecessor, Ehud Olmert, worshiped at the shrine of a two-state solution. He made endless offers of a two-state peace to the Palestinian Authority -- and got nowhere.

Why? Because the Palestinians -- going back to the U.N. partition resolution of 1947 -- have never accepted the idea of living side by side with a Jewish state. Those like Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who might want to entertain such a solution, have no authority to do it. And those like Hamas's Meshal, who have authority, have no intention of ever doing it.

Meshal's gambit to dress up perpetual war as a two-state peace is yet another iteration of the Palestinian rejectionist tragedy. In its previous incarnation, Arafat lulled Israel and the Clinton administration with talk of peace while he methodically prepared his people for war.

Arafat waited seven years to tear up his phony peace. Meshal's innovation? Ten -- then blood.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Worries Rise on the Size of U.S. Debt

this is a very good - and very accurate - piece on what the debt situation is shaping up to look like in America in the not-too-distant future; and the trouble that's in store. I say, "accurate" (these are not predictions, per se), because the Congrssional Budget Office is the "bomb" when it comes to analyzing these types of things. No one - and I mean no one - was more accurate with their analysis during the Bush years than the CBO. They're experts in the field, to be sure. I trust their information more than I trust Obama's team on matters such as these. - sj

The New York Times
May 4th
by Graham Bowley and Jack Healy

The nation’s debt clock is ticking faster than ever — and Wall Street is getting worried.

As the Obama administration racks up an unprecedented spending bill for bank bailouts, Detroit rescues, health care overhauls and stimulus plans, the bond market is starting to push up the cost of trillions of dollars in borrowing for the government.

Last week, the yield on 10-year Treasury notes rose to its highest level since November, briefly touching 3.17 percent, a sign that investors are demanding larger returns on the masses of United States debt being issued to finance an economic recovery.

While that is still low by historical standards — it averaged about 5.7 percent in the late 1990s, as deficits turned to surpluses under President Bill Clinton — investors are starting to wonder whether the United States is headed for a new era of rising market interest rates as the government borrows, borrows and borrows some more.

Already, in the first six months of this fiscal year, the federal deficit is running at $956.8 billion, or nearly one seventh of gross domestic product — levels not seen since World War II, according to Wrightson ICAP, a research firm.

Debt held by the public is projected by the Congressional Budget Office to rise from 41 percent of gross domestic product in 2008 to 51 percent in 2009 and to a peak of around 54 percent in 2011 before declining again in the following years. For all of 2009, the administration probably needs to borrow about $2 trillion.

The rising tab has prompted warnings from the Treasury that the Congressionally mandated debt ceiling of $12.1 trillion will most likely be breached in the second half of this year.

Last week, the Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee, a group of industry officials that advises the Treasury on its financing needs, warned about the consequences of higher deficits at a time when tax revenues were “collapsing” by 14 percent in the first half of the fiscal year.

click here for rest of story

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

America's slow learning curve: example #14...



It's hardly going out on a limb, but in case there's any doubt, I'll restate the prediction I made about a decade ago: recreational marijuana use will be legal in most states in America, no later than 2020. If not, it will be the first time in American history, the United States Government passed up a chance to make hundreds of billions of dollars with such little effort. We're back to being a government for the people, by the people now, and the time has come to use the profits from legalizing weed to fix this country (check out the last line in this piece: "the public is going to drag the politicians into doing what is right." That kills me. Like it's NOT supposed to be that way!). There's enough money to be made by doing so to genuinely improve our education, healthcare, environment, and national security, among other things. This is to say nothing of the money we'll save NOT successfully fighting a large part of the drug war, or how far legalization will go in starting to unravel the utter mess we have on our southern border. And never mind the "gateway drug" mischaracterization: marijuana is no more a gateway drug than coffee is. Here's the latest, from California, a poll favoring legalization, and how it relates to Arnold's budget problem. sj

San Francisco Gate
Governor says he's open to debate on legal pot
Wyatt Buchanan, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Tuesday that the time is right to debate legalizing marijuana for recreational use in California.

The governor's comments were made as support grows nationwide for relaxing pot laws and only days after a poll found that for the first time a majority of California voters back legal marijuana. Also, a San Francisco legislator has proposed regulating and taxing marijuana to bring the state as much as $1.3 billion a year in extra revenue.

Schwarzenegger was cautious when answering a reporter's question Tuesday about whether the state should regulate and tax the substance, saying it is not time to go that far.

But, he said: "I think it's time for debate. I think all of those ideas of creating extra revenues - I'm always for an open debate on it."

The governor said California should look to the experiences of other nations around the world in relaxing laws on marijuana.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, has introduced a bill to regulate marijuana like alcohol, with people over 21 years old allowed to grow, buy, sell and possess cannabis - all of which are barred by federal law.

California voters in 1996 legalized marijuana for medical use with permission from a physician.

Ammiano said he was pleased the governor is "open-minded" on the issue and added that he was sure the two could "hash it out."

Under Ammiano's proposal, the state would impose a $50-an-ounce levy on sales of marijuana, which would boost state revenues by about $1.3 billion a year, according to an analysis by the State Board of Equalization. Betty Yee of San Francisco, who chairs the Board of Equalization, supports the measure.

"This has never just been about money," said Ammiano, who has long supported reforming marijuana laws. "It's also about the failure of the war on drugs and implementing a more enlightened policy. I've always anticipated that there could be a perfect storm of political will and public support, and obviously the federal policies are leaning more toward states' rights."

An ABC News/Washington Post poll last week found that 46 percent of Americans favored legalization of small amounts of pot for personal use, double the number who supported that a decade ago. A Field Poll also released last week found that 56 percent of California voters supported legalizing and taxing marijuana.

In March, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the federal government would take a softer stance on medical marijuana dispensaries, with drug enforcement agents targeting only those who violate state and federal law. California is one of 13 states that allow marijuana use with a doctor's recommendation.

Many law enforcement organizations oppose changes in marijuana laws. The California Police Chiefs Association, in a report last month, concluded that marijuana dispensaries constitute "a clear violation of federal and state law; they invite more crime; and they compromise the health and welfare of law-abiding citizens."

But the head of that association said he, too, is open to a debate on legalizing pot.

"We keep walking around the 5,000-pound elephant in the room, which is should marijuana be legal?" said Bernard Melekian, president of the association and chief of police in Pasadena.

The Board of Equalization analysis predicts that legalization would drop the street value of marijuana by 50 percent and increase consumption by 40 percent.

Bruce Mirken, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, which advocates legalization, said the governor's comments about marijuana are part of a "tectonic shift" in attitudes toward the issue.

"I think, frankly, the public is going to drag the politicians into doing what is right," he said.

ahh...Miss California. So young. So hot. So Dumb.


some random thoughts/rants on Miss California, gay marriage, et al... - sj

Here's the thing: Fully legal, gay marriage, in every state in America, will happen. There is ABSOLUTELY no chance it won't happen. The only question is WHEN. Most likely in 5 to 10 years, gay marriage will be legal, just like "opposite marriage" is now, everywhere in the United States.

And when that time comes - and probably a lot sooner - Miss CA (Carrie Prejean), along with every other confused, half-witted, homophobe, christian extremist (including the Pope, and the Caridnal that is outraged that Obama is speaking at Notre Dame's graduation), and clueless wonder will have to face the truth: that they wasted SO much of their lives and energy fighting something that not only could they never stop, and that most people don't see as a big deal, but also something that never had any any effect on them on WHATSOEVER. Including going to heaven, if in fact, that is where they're going when they die.

Here's an example from one of my favorite writers/bloggers, Ana Marie Cox:; actually, it's a tweet she posted this last week: "BULLETIN: IOWA PASTOR MARRIES 2 WOMEN, 1ST GAY MARRIAGE IN IOWA EVER. NUMBER OF STRAIGHT MARRIAGES DESTROYED OR AFFECTED IN ANY WAY: NONE!

Just today, Maine became the fifth state to allow same-sex marriage. The other four: Connecticut, Iowa (Iowa! The heartland, where family values reign supreme!), Massachusetts and Vermont. More to follow shortly...

Here's Miss CA, during her "exclusive" interview w/ Greta Van Susteran on FAUX News:
"I think that people that are homosexual should have some rights, you know, hospital rights, and things like that."

Beautiful. Really. She's going places.

This past Wednesday, New Hampshire's Senate passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage and if the governor signs it, the state could become the sixth to legalize gay weddings. DC, just yesterday, will now recognize gay marriage from any state in the union.

"We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage " - Miss CA. And the hits just keep on coming!

this week, reflecting upon the pageant:
"It is a very touchy subject and he is a homosexual and I see where he was coming from and I see the audience would've wanted me to be more politically correct. But I was raised in a way that you can never compromise your beliefs and your opinions for anything."... no matter how wrong they are.

"I'm here to protect traditional marriage," Prejean said on the "Today" show of her partnership with NOM. Lovely.

She's also doing a new advert for The National Organisation for Marriage which is lead by paid Bush administration shill Maggie Gallagher.

Do we laugh at her? "Feel" for her? Will we still be talking about her a year from now, when her crusade has died? Who knows. But she sure is good-looking!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Comment on Immigration

(I would post it as a comment to jace's original, but not everyone reads comments)
Two cents:

Up front, I agree with jace, but I also think we need to stop talking about immigration as if it were a problem at all. Precious few people in the United States have roots...truly native, First Nations roots...here in the first place. I may be a 3rd generation US citizen by birth, but 4 generations ago, my people weren't speaking Algonquian or Nahuatl. Freedom of migration should be accepted as a universal human right, as that would allow people to "pursue happiness" for real.

Really, the debate about immigration as a problem has more to do with racism than anything else.

In fact, thinking of the world as "nation-states" is gradually becoming archaic. Eventually it will be an outmoded way of sorting or claiming identity; it will have very little bearing on people's lives in the not-too-distant future. Look at Europe. In the EU, you may have a cultural identity, or "nationality", but in reality you are becoming more a citizen of Europe than your cultural homeland.

new study: Each Illegal Immigrant Cost Britons 1million pounds (1.5million in US dollars)

while this isn't a study regarding the American taxpayer's cost per illegal immigrant, many of the problems, ramifactions, and truths do indeed apply. I thought this was a very interesting article, and I have read similar studys that have been done with regards to illegal immigration, and the burden it puts on America's services and taxpayers, both directly and indirectly. I will try and find them. To me (nobody asked but it's my bleepin' blog! - and Pilgrim's), this is one of the bigger issues facing our country, due to the sheer numbers of illegal immigrants coming here every year, and it frustrates me, because the fact is that the solution to stop illegal immigration (unlike other big problems we face), is relatively easy to fix: simply keep illegal immigrants out. I am talking about all illegal immigrants, not just those at our southern border, although, they are the biggest problem. I will write more on this in the future, and post some different studies I come across (from both sides of the equation), but here's what needs to happen, and if I was President, this is what I would do:
1) Simplify our LEGAL IMMIGRATION PROCESS. Anyone the world over should be able to apply to come to America legally. The process to apply is a nightmare of a clusterfuck currently. it's BEEN that way. Simplify the application process.
2) NO illegal immigrants come to America. See "#1." Simply apply to come LEGALLY.
3) let most of the 20 million illegal immigrants who are already here, stay. If we can do these three things moving forward, and we most DEF can, we will be on our way to a better America. sj


(click on title for full story)

Each illegal immigrant costs us £1m, says study as Government faces calls for amnesty
By Daily Mail Reporter
May 4th, 2009

An amnesty allowing illegal immigrants to stay in Britain would cost taxpayers £1million for each newcomer, a shocking new report revealed today.
The massive sum reflects the costs of handouts and other state services provided over the lifetime of the average immigrant.
The figure would also apply to many of those who have already been granted asylum in Britain, according to campaign group Migrationwatch which commissioned the study.

Their revelation came as thousands of churchgoers, trade unionists and charity workers today prepared to rally in London in support of an ‘earned amnesty’ for 450,000 foreigners.
The coalition argues that providing permanent residency for those long-term illegal immigrants who meet certain conditions – roughly half the total – would bring in more than £1billion of tax a year.
But Migrationwatch warned that such an amnesty would overburden the public purse during a recession and only tempt more migrants into the country.
‘Our calculations show the numbers are truly enormous, adding an unacceptable – and entirely unnecessary - burden to the nation’s balance sheet,’ said the group’s chairman Sir Andrew Green.

‘It is clear that not only is rewarding illegal behaviour wrong in principle but the experience of Spain and Italy shows conclusively that it encourages even more illegal immigration in anticipation of future amnesties.
‘This is a ridiculous proposal which is bound to increase illegal immigration rather than reduce it. It is also a shocking waste of public money at a time when we can least afford it.’

click here to read the rest of this very interesting article.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Justice Souter will retire. Obama to appoint replacement. Conservative heads exploding.

I didn't think it would be Souter, actually. Lots of people will be weighing in, of course, with all number of suggestions and comments, most of which will be utter bullcrap. I just have a couple quick thoughts running around:
Sen. Specter's decision has just become more significant.
(former) Senator Coleman's stubborn refusal to accept reality has also become more significant.
There's a very good chance Obama's nominee will coast to confirmation (once Sen-elect Franken is seated), and that could be a ... gasp!... "librul"!
Justice Alito's and Justice Scalia's heads may explode. Thomas' will probably just melt.


I bet two more Justices hang it up soon, too.

ps: I'm hoping for a woman to be appointed, preferably African-American or Hispanic.