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Archive for May 25th, 2008

By- Suzie-Q @ 3:45 PM MST

From: Think Progress

By Amanda at 4:23 pm

Anti-gay website removes comparison of marrying same-sex couples to helping the Nazis.»

Reacting to the California Supreme Court’s decision allowing gay marriage, the website of the far right group Campaign for Children and Families recently compared county clerks issuing same-sex marriage licenses to Nazis gassing Jews during the Holocaust. From the site:

Ask your county clerk if they were a Nazi officer during WWII and had been ordered to gas the Jews, would they? At the Nuremberg trials, they would have been convicted of murder for following this immoral order.

Campaign for Children and Families has now removed this text from its site. Good As You, however, has saved the original version here and writes, “We know you said it. We know that you were likening the ‘tough’ decision to marry gays to the mind-blowingly abominable order to murder humans. And everyone else is going to know it to. We’ll see to that.”

(HT: Pandagon)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is how Randy Thomasson‘s “SaveCalifornia” site read yesterday (see Google cache):

And this is how it reads today:

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Evening Jukebox… You Better You Bet

By- Suzie-Q @ 3:30 PM MST

The Who – You Better You Bet

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anthony @ 11:56 BST

Toby Manhire | guardian.co.uk | Sunday May 25, 2008

Grumbles over Wednesday’s scheduled appearance by John Bolton at the Hay festival turned caustic last night as the activist and journalist George Monbiot called for a citizen’s arrest of the man George Bush controversially appointed to the UN in 2005. The Guardian columnist’s demand – greeted with cheers from the audience – came just hours after an audience member challenged the veteran author Gore Vidal for appearing on the same festival bill as Bolton, who is widely viewed as a driving force behind the 2OO2 invasion of Iraq.

Monbiot expressed astonishment that a “war criminal” such as Bolton could “swim through the politest of polite soirees – which is of course Hay”, without fear of proper interrogation. People such as Bolton and Tony Blair “would’ve been hanged” had a Nuremberg-like trial been held to investigate the war in Iraq, he added.

Speaking at a session to discuss the book Defeat: How They Lost in Iraq, with its author Jonathan Steele and former UN senior official Shashi Tharoor, Monbiot attacked the way Bolton and others had been “rehabilitated” after playing a role in the war which he characterised as “clearly a prima facie case of criminality”.

Bolton, who was the US administration’s undersecretary of state for arms control in the lead up to the iraq war, is due to appear with Nik Gowing at the literary festival, which is sposnored by the Guardian, on Wednesday evening.

Earlier in the day, the esteemed American man of letters Gore Vidal was asked from the audience whether he thought the invitation extended to Bolton, decribed by the questioner as a “war criminal”, was justifiable. Vidal, deliberately or otherwise, appeared not to recognise Bolton’s name towards the end of a wind-buffeted session.

It’s not the first time a prominent neoconservative figure from the US has raised Hay hackles. At last year’s festival, the Republican party stalwart Richard Perle faced flak from the audience as he defended his support for the invasion of Iraq

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GOP In Panic Mode…

By- Suzie-Q @ 10:00 AM MST

From: Carpetbagger Report

For GOP, panic ‘is in the wind’

Six months out, those who feel confident about how the presidential campaign is going to play out are probably kidding themselves. There are too many variables, and the race will take too many twists and turns.

Nevertheless, the Republican establishment is looking ahead. How confident are they? That depends who you ask.

On Thursday, the Politico’s Jonathan Martin and Mike Allen reported that Republican insiders believe landscape looks bleak for McCain and the GOP: “Once optimistic about John McCain’s prospects for the fall general election, Republicans are increasingly concerned that he could wind up badly outgunned, saddled with serious deficiencies of money, organization and partisan intensity against the likely Democratic nominee, Barack Obama.”

A day later, the Politico’s David Paul Kuhn reported the exact opposite: “[M]any top GOP strategists believe he can defeat Barack Obama — and by a margin exceeding President Bush’s Electoral College victory in 2004.” In some Republican circles, Kuhn explained, there’s talk of a McCain “blowout.”

And today, the New York Times’ Adam Nagourney weighs in, siding more with the prior than the latter.

Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign is in a troubled stretch, hindered by resignations of staff members, a lagging effort to build a national campaign organization and questions over whether he has taken full advantage of Democratic turmoil to present a case for his candidacy, Republicans say.

In interviews, some party leaders said they were worried about signs of disorder in his campaign, and if the focus in the last several weeks on the prominent role of lobbyists in Mr. McCain’s inner circle might undercut the heart of his general election message: that he is a reformer taking on special interests in Washington.

“I think any Republican who doesn’t say panic is in the wind is lying through their shirt,” said Ron Kaufman, who was a senior adviser this year for Mitt Romney. “The question is, is that panic caused by McCain’s campaign — or lack thereof in some respects — or is it the climate?”

Panicking in May about an election in November seems pretty foolish, but I will say that McCain seems to have squandered an opportunity. When he officially wrapped up the Republican nomination in early March (after effectively winning it in early February), I’d assumed that McCain would use the ensuing months effectively — while the Dems kept fighting, McCain would raise enormous amounts of money, consolidate the GOP base, and define his campaign before the Dems could do it for him.

I’ve been encouraged by how little of that has actually happened. Some of this isn’t McCain’s fault — he’s had trouble generating much attention for his campaign while the media shines the light on the Democratic drama — but nevertheless, I’m hard pressed to identify any great strides the McCain campaign has made over the last three months. Indeed, McCain has been the Republican nominee for months now, and I’m still not sure what his central campaign message is.

It’s no wonder GOP insiders are feeling antsy.

It’s apparently not helping that the under-funded McCain campaign seems burdened by organizational problems.

Some state party leaders said they were apprehensive about the unusual organization Mr. McCain had set up: the campaign has been broken into 10 semi-autonomous regions, with each having power over things like television advertising and the candidate’s schedule, decisions normally left to headquarters.

More than that, they said, Mr. McCain organizationally still seems far behind where President Bush was in 2004. Several Republican Party leaders said they were worried the campaign was losing an opportunity as they waited for approval to open offices and set up telephone banks.

“They finally assigned someone to West Virginia three weeks ago,” said Doug McKinney, the state Republican chairman there. “I had a couple of contacts with him and I e-mailed him twice and I never heard back. I finally called and they said that the guy had resigned.”

And in terms of public image, the only campaign development that’s generated real interest of late is the fact that McCain has surrounded himself with high-priced elite lobbyists, some of whom had to be fired for controversial client work. It’s hard to know if the story reached a broader, passive audience, but it certainly didn’t help solidify the image the McCain campaign hoped to cultivate right now.

What will be interesting to watch is how (or whether) the Republican establishment responds to their discontent. Stay tuned.

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GEF @ 8:48 PM MST

Peeved at Prices? Don’t Blame the Dealer

Awash in Profit, Exxon Fights for Pennies While Raising the Rent

Washington Post Staff Writer

Every time Sohaila Rezazadeh rings up a sale at her Exxon station on Chain Bridge Road in Oakton, her cash register sends the information to Exxon Mobil‘s central computers. If she raises the price of gasoline a couple of pennies, chances are that Exxon will raise the wholesale price she pays by the same amount.

Through a password-protected Web portal, Exxon notifies Rezazadeh of wholesale price changes daily. That way the oil giant, which is earning about $3.3 billion a month, fine-tunes the pump prices at the franchise Rezazadeh has owned for 12 years.

(more…)

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Parsley Withdrew His Endorsement Of McSame McCain

By- Suzie-Q @ 8:00 AM MST

From: Think Progress
By Faiz at 1:40 am

Parsley withdraws his endorsement of McCain.»

Last week, John McCain rejected the endorsement of Rod Parsley, the pastor who has derided Islam as a “false religion” that is the greatest “enemy of our civilization.” One day after proclaiming that he would not withdraw his endorsement of McCain, Parsley issued a statement Saturday, explaining that he was indeed withdrawing it. Spokesman Gene Pierce wouldn’t shed light on Parsley’s decision, saying only “this statement is a clarification on (Friday’s) statement.”

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Gore Vidal Storms the UK

anthony @13:54 BST

A still-vital Vidal says he’s ready to kill!

Gore Vidal

One of my favorite political essayists and commentators, Gore Vidal , is on a brief visit to the UK.

I became aware of this on Friday evening, while listening to BBC Radio 4’s Front Row, on which Mark Lawson interviewed him.

The BBC website bills this interview thus:

The American novelist, essayist and playwright Gore Vidal is on a brief visit to the UK. In a rare interview the controversial veteran writer reflects on a life of letters, in particular the recently-published second part of his memoir, Point to Point Navigation, which covers the years 1964-2006.

It would appear that this interview is not as rare as the BBC would have us believe, for, while searching for it on Google, I found several other interviews with British journalists that Vidal has given within the last week.

The first was with the very high-brow presenter, Melvyn Bragg, and recorded in Gore Vidal’s home in El Lay for the equally high-brow TV show, South Bank, which was shown last Sunday on ITV1. In an article titled, The still-vital Vidal, which appeared in last Monday’s Daily Telegraph, James Walton says:

It’s ITV1 and the two men on the screen are discussing Aristotle and the essays of Montaigne. So yes, it can only be The South Bank Show (Sunday). Quite how Melvyn Bragg gets away with bucking television trends so heroically, I’m still not sure. Nonetheless, when the result is as good as it was here, your main reaction has to be one of simple gratitude.

Bragg’s guest was Gore Vidal, who, after four decades in Italy, has returned to America for what he calls, with characteristic lack of euphemism, “the hospital years”. Now 82 and the last survivor of that generation of great American writers who’d fought in the Second World War (the others included Joseph Heller, Norman Mailer and Kurt Vonnegut), Vidal did need the odd moment last night to gather his thoughts. Yet, once he had, his fondness and talent for a good scrap proved as stirring as ever. In the end, the effect was like seeing an old prize-fighter who may not be as fast as he used to be, but who can still land a punch with the best of them.

Vidal’s targets were wide-ranging – from John Updike to the entire history of Christianity. Naturally, George W Bush got it in the neck for being, among other things, “literally demented”. But the President’s policy of “perpetual war for perpetual peace” was also placed in its long-standing historical context, which meant an equally thorough pounding for Harry Truman and John F Kennedy.

A write-up of the interview also appeared in The Australian, which began:

Gore Vidal – author, political activist and, perhaps now, former Clinton family friend – has skewered Hillary Clinton in an interview with the BBC, describing her campaign strategy as “insane” and suggesting that her “search for the holy grail has driven her crazy”.

The 82-year-old told British broadcaster Melvyn Bragg that he believed Barack Obama was better educated and better prepared for the presidency than was former US president John F. Kennedy when he was elected.

But the famously irascible commentator, who recently returned to live in the US after spending more than 30 years in Italy, saves his most brutal appraisal for presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain, whom he describes as a “goddamned fool”.

On Thursday, Channel 4 News anchorman, Jon Snow, interviewed Vidal, questioning him on the American presidential campaign, during which Vidal dismissed John McCain as Mr Magoo and says he should have been court-martialled, and spoke of the bitter race to win the Democratic nomination. He was also highly critical of the Bush administration and said that Bush and Gonzalez (former Attorney General) had between them destroyed the Constitution. When asked if he considered it a great gift or a curse still to be angry in his 80s, he replied without hesitation: “A gift. I’m ready to kill!”

Part 2/1 GORE VIDAL-Ready To Kill-Mccain, Stupidity, The Media

(more…)

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The Wisdom In Talking

anthony @ 09:59 BST

By John F. Kerry | washingtonpost.com | Saturday, May 24, 2008

As President Bush commemorated Israel’s 60th anniversary by attacking Barack Obama from overseas, here at home he found an all-too-frequent ally: John McCain.

When Bush accused “some” — including Obama, Bush aides explained — of “the false comfort of appeasement,” McCain echoed this slander.

“What does he want to talk about with [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad?” McCain asked, fumbling to link Obama to the Iranian president’s hateful words. Soon, a GOP talking point was born.

Lost in the rhetoric was the question America deserves to have answered: Why should we engage with Iran?

In short, not talking to Iran has failed. Miserably.

Bush engages in self-deception arguing that not engaging Iran has worked. In fact, Iran has grown stronger: continuing to master the nuclear fuel cycle; arming militias in Iraq and Lebanon; bolstering extremist anti-Israeli proxies. It has embraced Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and spends lavishly to rebuild Afghanistan, gaining influence across the region.

Instead of backing Bush’s toxic rhetoric, McCain should have called George H.W. Bush‘s secretary of state, James Baker. After years of stonewalling, the administration grudgingly tested the Baker-Hamilton report’s recommendation and opened talks with Iran — albeit low-level dialogue restricted to the subject of Iraq. Is James Baker an appeaser, too?

While the president attacks political opponents from the Knesset, responsible members of his own administration meet face to face with Iranians. Yes, Ahmadinejad’s words often are abhorrent, and often Iran has played a poisonous role in Middle East politics. But when our ambassador to Iraq meets with his Iranian counterpart, he isn’t courting “the false comfort of appeasement” — he is facing the reality that Iran exerts influence in Iraq. That’s why Defense Secretary Bob Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have called for engaging Iran. Appeasers all? Nonsense.

Direct negotiations may be the only means short of war that can persuade Iran to forgo its nuclear capability. Given that a nuclear Iran would menace Israel, drive oil prices up past today’s record highs and possibly spark a regional arms race, shouldn’t we be doing all we can to avoid that conflagration?

Opponents of dialogue often quip that talking isn’t a strategy. Walking away isn’t a strategy, either. McCain says that “there’s only one thing worse than the United States exercising the military option, that is, a nuclear-armed Iran.” But for all his professed reluctance, when McCain disavows diplomacy, he is stacking the deck in favor of war.

What might we achieve by talking with Iran? Some say our engagement to date has not been productive — but a less half-hearted and less conditional approach might well break the stalemate. We won’t know until we try.

Dialogue helps us isolate Ahmadinejad rather than empowering him to isolate us. More important, even if we fail to reach an agreement, engaging Iran will spark three conversations likely to strengthen our position.

The first is between our leaders and Iran’s. From nonproliferation to counterterrorism, frankly, Iran won’t care for much of what we have to say — but at the right moment, it is not unreasonable to think Tehran would cut a deal in exchange for economic incentives, energy assistance, diplomatic normalization or a noninvasion guarantee.

Second is the conversation America’s president should be having with the Iranian people. We should seize the chance to tell some of the region’s most pro-American people how their own president has isolated them, denying their great culture its place in the world and the region a constructive dialogue.

There’s a reason the late Tom Lantos, Congress’s only Holocaust survivor and a formidable diplomat, applied for a visa to enter Iran every year for the last decade of his life. What better way to puncture the petty lies of a demagogue than to force him to confront a man who has lived the very history he denies and trivializes?

Some have asserted that meeting with Iran’s leaders would legitimize Ahmadinejad, who is neither Iran’s supreme leader nor someone whom Obama specifically promised to meet. Curiously, many critics then hype Ahmadinejad as a threat of historic proportions, thereby granting the stature they seek to deny. Iranian elections in mid-2009 could yield a less objectionable president; engaging Iran makes that more likely.

The third conversation is with the world. By engaging Iran, we reclaim the moral high ground — no small feat. If Iran refuses to budge, we have new leverage to expose it as a threat whose bad intentions cannot be explained away.

Those who say they take no option off the table should not put America in a straitjacket by denouncing diplomacy.

As Iran’s centrifuges churn out enriched uranium, we’re asking the wrong question. Instead of wondering why Barack Obama wants to talk with Iran, we should ask: “What are George Bush and John McCain waiting for?”

The writer is a Democratic senator from Massachusetts.

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War Abroad and Poverty at Home

Sudhan @11:17 CET

By Paul Craig Roberts | Information Clearing House, May 23, 2008

The US Senate has voted $165 billion to fund Bush’s wars of aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq through next spring.

As the US is broke and deep in debt, every one of the $165 billion dollars will have to be borrowed. American consumers are also broke and deep in debt. Their zero saving rate means every one of the $165 billion dollars will have to be borrowed from foreigners.

The “world’s only superpower” is so broke it can’t even finance its own wars.

Each additional dollar that the irresponsible Bush Regime has to solicit from foreigners puts more downward pressure on the dollar’s value. During the eight wasted and extravagant years of the Bush Regime, the once mighty US dollar has lost about 60% of its value against the euro.

The dollar has lost even more of its value against gold and oil.

Before Bush began his wars of aggression, oil was $25 a barrel. Today it is $130 a barrel. Some of this rise may result from run-away speculation in the futures market. However, the main cause is the eroding value of the dollar. Oil is real, and unlike paper dollars is limited in supply. With US massive trade and budget deficits, the outpouring of dollar obligations mounts, thus driving down the value of the dollar.

Continued . . .

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