Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Greg Palast on Obama

Normally I would not cheer deception, but as with any rule, there is an exception. I believe (and hopefully not wrongfully), that Barack Obama has the best interests of the country at heart. If it takes lying to the liars-that-be to get something accomplished, so be it.

I simply cannot say that Republicans have the best interests of the country at heart. Certainly not their recent "champion," George W. Bush. If Republicans have anything in their grubby, greedy little hearts, it's the best interests of business, and not the country as a whole. This is, of course, merely an opinion, based on personal experience of many years now. I'm sure there are some exceptions to that rule. One or two, at least. Surely.

Our country is in a world of hurt right now. This financial crisis is, far and away, an American creation. We're being slapped down because of our excessive greed. Greed on the part of business. Greed on the part of consumers. The greediest among us must be brought to justice, or else they'll do it all over again after this wave of crisis passes.

What Palast suggests is of course what many of us were secretly hoping for: that Obama would turn out to be an aggressive populist. I think the jury is still out. I often cringe at the stuff that Palast reports on, but I'd be happy if this one shakes out to be true.

Obama Is a Two-Faced Liar. Aw-RIGHT!

by: Greg Palast, t r u t h o u t | Perspective

(Photo: Reuters)

Republicans are right. President Barack Obama treated them like dirt, didn't give a damn what they thought about his stimulus package, loaded it with a bunch of programs that will last for years and will never leave the budget, is giving away money disguised as "tax refunds," and is sneaking in huge changes in policy, from schools to health care, using the pretext of an economic emergency.

Way to go, Mr. O! Mr. Down-and-Dirty Chicago pol. Street-fightin' man. Covering over his break-your-face power play with a "we're all post-partisan friends" BS.

And it's about time.

Frankly, I was worried about this guy. Obama's appointing Clinton-droids to the Cabinet, bloated incompetents like Larry Summers as "Economics Czar," made me fear for my country, that we'd gotten another Democrat who wished he were a Republican.

Then came Obama's money bomb. The House bill included $125 billion for schools (TRIPLING federal spending on education), expanding insurance coverage to the unemployed, making the most progressive change in the tax code in four decades by creating a $500 credit against social security payroll deductions, and so on.

It's as if Obama dug up Ronald Reagan's carcass and put a stake through The Gipper's anti-government heart. Aw-RIGHT!

About the only concession Obama threw to the right-wing trogs was to remove the subsidy for condoms, leaving hooker-happy GOP Senators, like David Vitter, to pay for their own protection. S'OK with me.

And here's the proof that Bam is The Man: Not one single Republican congressman voted for the bill. And that means that Obama didn't compromise, the way Clinton and Carter would have, to win the love of these condom-less jerks.

And we didn't need'm. Nyah! Nyah! Nyah!

Now I understand Obama's weird moves: dinner with those creepy conservative columnists, earnest meetings at the White House with the Republican leaders, a dramatic begging foray into Senate offices. Just as the Republicans say, it was all a fraud. Obama was pure Chicago, Boss Daley in a slim skin, putting his arms around his enemies, pretending to listen and care and compromise, then slowly, quietly, slipping in the knife. All while the media praises Obama's "post-partisanship." Heh heh heh.

Love it. Now we know why Obama picked that vindictive little viper Rahm Emanuel as staff chief: everyone visiting the Oval office will be greeted by the Windy City hit man who would hack up your grandma if you mess with the Godfather-in-Chief.

I don't know about you, but THIS is the change I've been waiting for.

Will it last? We'll see if Obama caves in to more tax cuts to investment bankers. We'll see if he stops the sub-prime scum-bags from foreclosing on frightened families. We'll see if he stands up to the whining, gormless generals who don't know how to get our troops out of Iraq. (In SHIPS, you doofuses!)

Look, don't get your hopes up. But it may turn out the new president's ... a Democrat!


Greg Palast's investigative reports for BBC and Rolling Stone can be seen at Palast is the author of New York Times bestsellers "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy" and "Armed Madhouse."

The original is here.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Top 100 Companies

Cool. Forbes has released it's 2009 list of the Top 100 Companies To Work For. You can find the whole list here.

My wife's company is in the Top 15. Awesome. They've been in the Top 100 for six years in a row. Even in a rough 2008 year, they had a good year. No layoffs. Raises. They even paid bonuses with no public uproar. And they didn't need any TARP money whatsoever.

My company, on the other hand, even though it has one of the last defined-benefit pension plans on Earth, and even though they have some very progressive social policies and generous benefits, and even though I think it's the best company I have ever worked for, didn't make the Top 100.

Both of us are very lucky. We have good jobs and 2008 was our best year ever, even while the economy was crashing. My sympathies go out to all of those who are being or have been laid off during these tough times. Someday we will all recover from the Bush years.

Hey, don't forget to think about Social Security. You just might be eligible for some benefits and not realize it. The Social Security Administration is your friend. Keep in touch with them about your situation. Their website is here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Nevermind the Lawyers

Thanks to Monkeyfister.

Eric Boehlert - Right on Cue...

This is really disgusting, but not unexpected. Why did the press corps lie down on the job for Bush? Were they intimidated? The Bush Gang just totally shit all over the press, and they acted like little lapdogs, begging for more. I've heard some in the press say that the press DID in fact ask Bush the tough questions. In what universe?!! Surely not mine.

Right on cue, the White House press awakens from its Bush slumber
by Eric Boehlert

Pulling a collective Rip Van Winkle, the White House press corps has awakened from its extended nap just in time to aggressively press the new Democratic administration, just as it dogged the last Democratic president during his first days in office back in the 1990s. Conveniently skipped over during the press corps' extended bout of shut-eye? The Bush years, of course.

Suddenly revved up and vowing to keep a hawk-like watch on the Obama administration ("I want to hold these guys accountable for what they say and do") and all of a sudden obsessed with trivia, while glomming onto nitpicking, gotcha-style critiques, Beltway reporters have tossed aside the blanket of calm that had descended on them during the previous administration, a blanket of calm that defined their Bush coverage.

Can't say I'm surprised about the sudden change in behavior, though. Taking the long view, I recently went back and contrasted how the press covered the first days and weeks of Clinton's first term in 1993 with its coverage of Bush's arrival in 2001. The difference in tone and substance was startling. (Think bare-knuckled vs. cottony soft.)

One explanation at the time of the Bush lovefest was that reporters and pundits were just so burnt out by the Clinton scandal years that they needed some downtime. They needed to relax; it was human nature. Conversely, the opposite now seems to be true: Because the press dozed for so long -- because it sleepwalked through the Bush years -- it just had to spring back to life with the new administration. It's human nature.

When contrasting the early Clinton and Bush coverage, I noted it would be deeply suspicious if, in 2009, the press managed to turn up the emotional temperature just in time to cover another Democratic administration. But wouldn't you know it, the press corps' alarm went off right on time for Obama's arrival last week, with the Beltway media taking down off the shelf the dusty set of contentious, in-your-face rules of engagement they practiced during the Clinton years and putting into safe storage the docile, somnambulant guidelines from the Bush era. In other words, one set of rules for Clinton and Obama, another for Bush. One standard for the Democrats; a separate, safer one, for the Republican.

There is a lot more, and it can be found here.
High praise goes to Media Matters for America, and David Brock, ex-Republican hatchet-man. No wonder the rightwingnuts hate Media Matters. MMFA doesn't let them get away with spreading their bullshit. Thank goodness we have at least one watchdog. I don't know if I could do what they do: wading thru constant bullshit and lies. Takes a special kind of person to listen to all that, and not just swallow everything they hear.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Deadly bacteria

I hope it's not too late to "restore science to its rightful place" in our society, as Barack Obama has said he wants to do. It was just simply shameful and short-sighted of Bush to demote things scientific and elevate the religious practically above all else, unless the science happened to agree with him, of course.

Here we have yet another example of religious forces trying to keep us in the dark, trying to keep us "in line" and punishing those who stray. We are not only "addicted to oil" as George put it (one of the rare times that I ever agreed with him), we are addicted to "God," whatever you perceive him/her/it to be.

Our near-global addiction to "God" wreaks havoc with science and our fellow humans. If humanity can survive here on Earth without destroying ourselves, it will be a miracle.

Hmm, got a little off-track there.

Found this story about a gorgeous young woman who caught a vicious bacterial infection, and she's dead at the tender age of 20. Oh, right! Restore science to it's "rightful place" in a hurry please! We have some really vicious bugs out there that might destroy humanity before humanity does. Ya know, I don't think we can "pray" away these nasty bugs.

Brazil model who lost hands, feet dies

In this undated photo released by NOROCK, Brazilian model Mariana Bridi poses AP – In this undated photo released by NOROCK, Brazilian model Mariana Bridi poses during a photo session …

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Health officials say a Brazilian model whose feet and hands were amputated because of an infection has died.

Officials said in a statement early Saturday that 20-year-old Mariana Bridi's condition deteriorated overnight. She died at 2:30 a.m.

The Espirito Santo State Health Secretariat said in the statement she died from complications related to a generalized infection. It was caused by the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is known to be resistant to multiple kinds of antibiotics.

Bridi had been in the hospital in the city of Serra in southeastern Brazil since Jan. 3. She fell ill in December and doctors originally diagnosed her with kidney stones, local media said.

Bridi was twice a finalist in the Brazilian stage of the Miss World pageant.

Original story is here.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Tanks in my memory

Give him a big "fuck you!"

Obama declared end to "War on Terror"

...according to some media. Obama did not utter those words, but perhaps he doesn't have to.

I hope this is the beginning of the end of some of our stupid wars. The "War on Terror," or, as the idiot Bush would call it, "The War on Terra" was an exercise in futility from the beginning. Fighting terrorists or terror cells should be a police and intelligence function, employing local governments and authorities in the process. That is how most other countries deal with the situation, and there are many successes to report. You infiltrate the groups, disrupt them, arrest them.

Declaring a "War" just allows for the misuse and abuse of resources and money, on a grand scale.

Ditto for the "War on Drugs." Someday, hopefully soon, we can take a rational eye towards drug use and abuse in this country. Marijuana, and hemp, needs a serious re-evaluation. How about we declare a war on declaring war?

Obama 'declared end' to war on terror: media

WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Barack Obama "declared an end" to his predecessor's "war on terror" and began to heal the US reputation abroad when he ordered the Guantanamo Bay prison to close, US editorialists wrote Friday.

Obama's order to close the detention facility within a year, end coercive interrogations and shut secret overseas CIA prisons sent a strong signal to the world and presented a new post-September 11 era, wrote The Washington Post.

"President Obama yesterday eliminated the most controversial tools employed by his predecessor against terrorism suspects," the Post said.

"With the stroke of his pen, he effectively declared an end to the 'war on terror,' as President George W. Bush had defined it, signaling to the world that the reach of the US government in battling its enemies will not be limitless," it said.

"In a broad swipe at the Bush administration's lawyers, Obama nullified every legal order and opinion on interrogations issued by any lawyer in the executive branch after September 11, 2001," the Post added.

"It was a swift and sudden end to an era that was slowly drawing to a close anyway, as public sentiment grew against perceived abuses of government power."

The Los Angeles Times pointed out the ambiguities that remain: it was still not clear what would be done about the 245 prisoners languishing in the jail, nor how their court cases would be resolved.

But the paper hailed Obama for having reversed Bush policies.

"President Obama has begun the rehabilitation of this country's reputation when it comes to the treatment of suspected terrorists," the Times wrote.

"Obama deserves credit for ending the worst of the Bush administration's excesses in the 'war on terror' ... But the orders contain ambiguities that demonstrate how hard it will be to unwind the tangle that President Bush created."

The Chicago Tribune mulled the possibility of holding the remaining Guantanamo terror suspects "as prisoners of war for the duration of the conflict or until they no longer pose a threat."

The fight against violent extremism remains fraught with difficulty, it noted.

"Assuring fairness and civilized conditions for the accused, while protecting the nation from bloodthirsty enemies, is harder in this war than in most," the Tribune wrote.

"But the new administration can do better than the last one did."

The original story is here.

Late-Night Humor

The Week's Best Late-Night Jokes
Friday January 23, 2009

"Because of the flubbed oath of office, Chief Justice John Roberts went over to the White House and gave Barack Obama the oath again. Some legal scholars were concerned that because the oath was not given properly, we legally did not have anybody at the helm for 36 hours. 36 hours? We haven't had anybody at the helm for eight years." --Jay Leno

"Finally America got to hear those four words it has been waiting for...'Former President George Bush.'" --Jay Leno

"Well, did you all see Obama's speech? He said America is finally ready to lead again, to which Bush said: 'Hey, I'm sitting here! Hello! I'm still here!'" --Jay Leno

"This morning, Barack Obama entered the Oval Office for the first time as president and he spent ten minutes alone. Yep. Shows you how things have changed. When President Bush spent ten minutes alone in the Oval Office, it was called a time-out." --Conan O'Brien

"The total cost of the inauguration was $170 million. They say this is the most expensive celebration since that last AIG retreat on our bailout money." --Jay Leno

"During his inaugural address, President Barack Obama said, 'Millions of Americans have lost their homes and some of us who still have homes have their mother-in-laws moving in with them.'" --Jay Leno

"After going to ten inaugural balls last night and dancing more than Cloris Leachman in nine weeks of 'Dancing With the Stars,' the new president was up and in the office at 8:35 in the morning and then he was at church at 9:30. Is it a good sign that after one hour of being president, he decided the best thing he could do for the country is pray?" --Jimmy Kimmel

"The new season of 'Lost' kicked off tonight. If you haven't seen it, 'Lost' is about a group of desperate people out of touch with the world. It's based on the true story of the Republican Party." --Craig Ferguson

"Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts made a mistake during the swearing in of Barack Obama. That's the second mistake the Supreme Court has made with a president, if you count the time they declared Bush the winner." --Jay Leno

"Barack Obama is in the latest issue of the 'Spider-Man' comics. That's when you know you're big, when you're in 'Spider-Man' comics. The story is about how Spider-Man stops bad guys from ruining Barack's inauguration. And psychologists believe this comic book was actually very handy in helping President Bush understand the transition." --Jay Leno

"Yesterday, when President Bush returned to Texas, people who were there to greet him were holding up signs that said, 'You made us so proud.' Afterwards, the people admitted that the store was out of 'You totally embarrassed us' signs." --Conan O'Brien

"Today was Joe Biden's first full day as vice president. Yeah, advisors say Biden spent most of the day watering his hair." --Conan O'Brien

"Officials at the White House say that President Bush completed his last piece of official business in the Oval Office at 6:00 am this morning. Yep. Bush says it should take Obama weeks to find where he hid the dead fish." --Conan O'Brien

"Listen to what Barack Obama did today. He worked on the stimulus plan, had a classified intelligence briefing and met with Congressional leaders. Meanwhile, John McCain backed over his mailbox." --David Letterman

"I tell you, it's cold all over the East Coast. And did you see those blizzards all over the place? The whole country was so white the Republicans thought they were back in charge again." --Jay Leno

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama's Inaugural Speech

Great speech. His best ever? Could be. I do not envy the guy with all the problems he has to face. The Republicans, with the help of far too many Democrats, have screwed the pooch six ways to Sunday.

Text of President Barack Obama’s inaugural address, as prepared for delivery and released by the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

OBAMA: My fellow citizens:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

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

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

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

“Let it be told to the future world ... that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet (it).”

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

Good luck, President Obama. You're going to need a lot of it.

Shoe them the door

Our long national nightmare is (almost) over.

We will be repairing the damage that Bush wrought for many years to come. And he will sit, smirking, with a fat pension and Secret Service protection for the rest of his life. I wonder if we could revoke that?

US activists vent their rage as Bush exits
by Carlos Hamann Carlos Hamann – Tue Jan 20

WASHINGTON (AFP) – As George W. Bush prepared to leave the US presidency, protestors hurled shoes at the White House in a symbolic farewell for the man they accuse of gross mismanagement, obstructing justice and war crimes.
Activists and tourists eager to see the Bush era end appeared throughout the day in front of the famed residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to snicker their good-byes.
There were no huge crowds celebrating Bush's pending departure, as the focus of the human flood that descended on Washington was on celebrating Barack Obama's historic rise to the presidency. But many were bitter over the Bush years.

"President Bush is leaving office and he's not being held accountable for his offenses. There is a laundry list of things he could be charged with," said activist Jamilla El-Shafei, who organized the shoe-throwing protest.

The protest honored the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at the US president on December 14 during Bush's farewell visit to Iraq, an action considered a grave insult in the Arab world.

El-Shafei inflated a 25-foot (eight-meter) effigy of Bush with a long Pinocchio nose at Dupont Circle, away from the heavy flow of tourists, and invited activists and people passing by to throw shoes at it.

A few hundred protesters then marched to the White House, where they threw shoes at the building's iron gates.

Jay Marx, an activist with the Washington Peace Center, stood on a walkway outside the rear White House gates and called for Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to be tried as war criminals.

"You've killed millions, displaced millions, (brought) endless shame, wasted trillions. You've wasted our time," Marx cried. Two security guards surveyed the cluster of shoes that littered the ground near Marx, grinning.

A woman dressed as the Grim Reaper and a man in a paper mache Bush headpiece, prison garb and ball and chain posed for photographs with tourists.

"I hated Bush before it was cool," read one banner.

Bush "was given his eviction papers by the American people," said Arizona resident Diamond Dar, using a touch of embellishment.

"As a Native American we never trusted the US government because they've always lied to us," said Dar, but she said she expected conditions to improve under Obama.

In downtown Washington a lone protestor stood in the middle of a human flood heading into a subway station holding aloft a small sign that simply read "Arrest Bush."

Bartholomew Jackson, 17, said he wanted to bring the outgoing president to justice for causing the deaths of thousands of American troops by ordering them to Iraq.

At a small square three blocks from the White House, protestors shackled their legs together, donned orange prison suits -- similar to those worn by some detainees at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba -- and held signs including "Arrest Bush" and "No torture for empire."

"Bush used scare tactics to silence the opposition," said Gary Brooks, a middle-aged African-American doctor visiting Washington for the inauguration. "The use of patriotism went a long way" in keeping dissidents quiet, he said.

"The Iraq war was a war for oil," added his friend Derrick Buckingham, a computer security analyst. "The Bush administration was government for the oil industry. That will change under Obama."
The original is here.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Goodbye to the worst President ever

You see what you get when you give a good 'ol boy, country-club spoiled frat rat brat the highest office in the land? Eight years of cronyism, deception, corruption, destruction, and no accountability. It's almost a miracle that the United States has survived Bush. And we have survived him, barely. Oh, how the mood would be different this weekend if John McCain had been elected. At least we have a real chance now for some real progress, with strong Congressional Democratic majorities and Obama as President. We have the chance. Will we grab it?

Newspaper editors around the world took one last (last?? probably not) shot at Bush as he is headed out the door. Good. Fucking. Riddance.

Canada's Toronto Star was categorical in its condemnation.

"Goodbye to the worst president ever," it declared. "Bush was an unmitigated disaster, failing on the big issues from the invasion of Iraq to global warming, Hurricane Katrina and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression."

"Bush leaves a country and an economy in tatters," wrote the Sunday Times in London. It said America's national debt and unemployment nearly doubled on his watch.

Britain's Daily Mail said he entered office with a budget surplus of $128 billion but exits with a $482 billion deficit.

"He leaves the world facing its biggest crisis since the Depression, the Middle East in flames and U.S. standing at an all-time low.


The Scottish Daily Record observed: "America is now hated in many parts of the world. Bush leaves a legacy of wars and the world economy in meltdown. He has been dismissed as a buffoon and a war-monger, a man who made the world a more dangerous place while sending it to the brink of economic collapse."

The Economist found room to praise Bush on free trade, immigration reform and China. But its overall view was negative:

"He leaves as one of the least popular and most divisive presidents in American history. Bush has presided over the most catastrophic collapse in America's reputation since World War Two."

The Sydney Morning Herald complained about Bush's "singular lack of curiosity in international matters" in an editorial titled "Farewell to a flawed and unpopular commander-in-chief."

Le Monde: "It's hard to find a historian who won't say that Bush was the most catastrophic leader the U.S. has ever known," the French daily wrote. "One success: since September 11, 2001, there was no attack on U.S. soil. But this sits alongside an interminable list of failures, starting with the war in Iraq."

Germany, ridiculed as "old Europe" by Bush's former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld for opposing the Iraq invasion, took aim at Bush.

"Bush brought great misery to the world with his 'friend-or-foe' mentality," wrote Die Zeit.

Stern magazine said: "Bush led the world's most powerful nation to ruin. He lied to the world, tortured in the name of freedom and caused lasting damage to America's standing."

The Pan-Arab al-Hayat newspaper resorted to bitter black humor under the headline: "We cried a lot and the joke was on us." It recalled his controversial election win in Florida and how he once nearly choked on a pretzel, watching television.

"Perhaps we could say that fate, which let the American people down first in Florida and then with the issue of the pretzel in the president's throat, ultimately helped them by making sure the president would spend half his time on vacation.

"Indeed, he would have caused twice the damage if he had been more active and focused."

Austria's Wiener Zeitung wrote Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad even ranked higher in one international opinion poll than Bush:

"The United States was once the symbol of justice in the world but that has been damaged by Bush. A web of manipulation has cost America $900 billion and the lives of 4,000 soldiers -- along with at least 500,000 Iraqis."

In Poland, the Warsaw daily Dziennik lamented the worst part about Bush's presidency: "It was empty rhetoric."

They were just being kind. The original is here.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Olberman: 8 Years in 8 Minutes

Oh, the humanity. The horror. The horror. Keith Olberman covers eight years of Bush in eight minutes.

One can only imagine how much better, how unfathomably better off we'd be if Al Gore had been rightfully allowed to claim the Presidency in 2000.

Everyday Food

If you haven't tuned into the TV program Everyday Food, you oughta. During each weekly, 30-minute program, five items are prepared with fairly simple recipes using simple ingredients. They're simple enough that even a "guy like me" can understand them. The website is packed with great recipes and many videos. Martha Stewart is behind the whole thing, and it's pretty well done. I'm glad she's out of jail.

Check out the website here. Ok, here's the blurb:

Each half-hour episode of Everyday Food offers quick, easy and practical solutions to the challenges of everyday cooking and includes easy-to-make recipes along with smart tips and kitchen techniques. The Everyday Food television show cast consists of five home-grown talents from the kitchens of Martha Stewart Living: Sarah Carey, Allie Lewis, Margot Olshan, Emma Feigenbaum, and Lucinda Scala Quinn. The series brings to life Everyday Food magazine, the survival guide for home cooks that launched in October 2003. The portable, digest-sized publication, published 10 times a year, features recipes designed to take 30 minutes or less to prepare, that can be made in multiple size portions and use widely available supermarket ingredients.

January 2008 saw the launch of "Everyday Baking from Everyday Food." The half-hour program features easy and delicious baking recipes for cookies, cakes, pies, tarts and more — all from the pages of Everyday Food magazine.

Everyday Food is a production of Martha Stewart Living Television in association with WETA-TV Washington, DC. Funding has been provided by Ghirardelli, Uncle Ben's, Silk, and SVP Worldwide.

Welcome to the television series that brings Everyday Food magazine to life! Our five talented cooks — Sarah, Lucinda, Margot, Emma and Allie — show you nutritious, delicious recipes that are simple to prepare and easy enough to cook everyday.
If you like to cook (and eat), check it out.

Bush retrospect

It's not just Bush that's the problem, unfortunately. It's America.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Gail Collins: He's Leaving. Really.

He’s Leaving. Really.

Published: January 14, 2009

Tonight President George W. Bush bids adieu to the American people.

Excitement mounts.

The man has been saying goodbye for so long, he’s come to resemble one of those reconstituted rock bands that have been on a farewell tour since 1982. We had exit interviews by the carload and then a final press conference on Monday, in which he reminisced about his arrival on the national stage in 2000. “Just seemed like yesterday,” he said.

I think I speak for the entire nation when I say that the way this transition has been dragging on, even yesterday does not seem like yesterday. And the last time George W. Bush did not factor into our lives feels like around 1066.

So far, the Bush farewell appearances have not drawn a lot of rave reviews. (Most striking, perhaps, was a critique of that final press conference from Ted Anthony of The Associated Press: “It all felt strangely intimate and, occasionally, uncomfortable, in the manner of seeing a plumber wearing jeans that ride too low.”) A Gallup poll did find that his approval rating had risen slightly since they began, but this was probably due to enthusiasm for the part about his going away.

“Sometimes you misunderestimated me,” Bush told the Washington press corps. This is not the first time our president has worried about misunderestimation, so it’s fair to regard this not as a slip of the tongue, but as something the president of the United States thinks is a word. The rhetoric is the one part of the administration we’re surely going to miss. We are about to enter a world in which our commander in chief speaks in full sentences, and I do not know what we’re going to do to divert ourselves on slow days.

The White House has promised that in his final address, the president will be joined by a small group of everyday American heroes, which means that the only person on stage with a history of failing to perform well in moments of stress will be the main speaker.

Bush is going to devote some of his time to defending his record, although there has been quite a bit of that already. Over the last few weeks we have learned that he thinks the Katrina response worked out rather well except for one unfortunate photo-op, and that he regards the fact that we invaded another country on the basis of false information as a “disappointment.” Since Bush also referred to the disappointments of his White House tenure as “a minor irritant” it’s perhaps best to think of the weapons of mass destruction debacle as a pimple on the administration’s otherwise rosy complexion.

If there’s any suspense about the speech it is how many times Bush will use the word “freedom,” which popped up 27 times in his relatively brief second inaugural. The man who gave us Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Freedom Agenda, the USA Freedom Corps and the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health has so thoroughly debased one of the most profound concepts in our national vocabulary that it’s getting hard to hear it used without remembering Janis Joplin’s line about how freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.

There are a lot of ways to approach this farewell-speech business. Ronald Reagan started with winning folksiness, then lurched into a warning against big government and a plea to raise a new generation of patriots that knows “who Jimmy Doolittle was.” Bill Clinton’s sounded very much like a bid for a third term. (“Thirty-five million Americans have used the family leave law ...”) On the other hand, anybody listening to it now would surely begin to tear up when Clinton got to the part about how he was leaving the country “on track to be debt-free” by the end of 2009.

History does suggest that Bush performs best in venues like this one, in which he has a long lead time and virtually no actual role in preparing the words he is about to say. But still, what could he possibly tell the country that would change anybody’s opinion about the last eight years?

“My fellow Americans, before I leave you next week I want you to know that ...

A) “Although things have gone very wrong, I take comfort in the realization that Dick Cheney was actually in control from the get-go. Honest, I never even knew half the people in the cabinet.”

B) “Laura and I have come to realize that all things considered, retirement to a mansion in Texas is just totally inappropriate. And so we take our leave to begin a new life as missionaries at a small rescue station in the Gobi desert ...”

C) “Surprise! This has all actually been a bad dream. It’s really still November of 2000 and tomorrow Al Gore is going to be elected president.”

Otherwise, the best possible approach for a farewell address might be for Bush to follow his father’s lead and just not give one.
Original is here.
I sure will not be watching his pathetic ass tonight. Bush is leaving with his "head held high." And he feels like the U.S. moral standing in the world has NOT been damaged by his Presidency. Typical. The guy is either a fucking idiot or an arrogant shit. Mostly likely both. Neither of those is very good, and I don't see many other alternatives.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Ok, one last time. Bushisms.

Hopefully, this is the very last time I will ever feel the need to publish the stupid, ignorant, and/or arrogant shit that our spoiled boy king has uttered over the last several years.

We still do have eight or so days until Obama is inaugurated, and if the past is any indication, Bush could still pull some absurd whoppers out of his piehole, but I think we're done with Bush. And I sincerely hope that we are DONE with the entire Bush family. As a family, they have wreaked quite enough damage to the nation and the nations image, thank you not at all. Now please just go away, preferably to jail.

I know what you're thinking....there are only 50?!?
Hey, we all have to make choices in life.

The 50 Dumbest Bush Quotes of All Time

50. "I promise you I will listen to what has been said here, even though I wasn't here." --at the President's Economic Forum in Waco, Texas, Aug. 13, 2002

49. "We spent a lot of time talking about Africa, as we should. Africa is a nation that suffers from incredible disease." --Gothenburg, Sweden, June 14, 2001

48. "You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test." -Townsend, Tenn., Feb. 21, 2001

47. "I am here to make an announcement that this Thursday, ticket counters and airplanes will fly out of Ronald Reagan Airport." --Washington, D.C., Oct. 3, 2001

46. "Tribal sovereignty means that; it's sovereign. I mean, you're a -- you've been given sovereignty, and you're viewed as a sovereign entity. And therefore the relationship between the federal government and tribes is one between sovereign entities." --Washington, D.C., Aug. 6, 2004 (Watch video clip)

45. "I couldn't imagine somebody like Osama bin Laden understanding the joy of Hanukkah." --at a White House menorah lighting ceremony, Washington, D.C., Dec. 10, 2001 (Listen to audio clip)

44. "You know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror." --interview with CBS News' Katie Couric, Sept. 6, 2006

43. "The same folks that are bombing innocent people in Iraq were the ones who attacked us in America on September the 11th." --Washington, D.C., July 12, 2007

42. "I'm the commander -- see, I don't need to explain -- I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being president." --as quoted in Bob Woodward's Bush at War

41. "Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties." --discussing the Iraq war with Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson in 2003, as quoted by Robertson

40. "I think I was unprepared for war." –on the biggest regret of his presidency, ABC News interview, Dec. 1, 2008 (what a liar!)

39. "I will not withdraw, even if Laura and Barney are the only ones supporting me." --talking to key Republicans about Iraq, as quoted by Bob Woodward

38. "I hear there's rumors on the Internets that we're going to have a draft." --presidential debate, St. Louis, Mo., Oct. 8, 2004 (Watch video clip)

37. "I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family." --Greater Nashua, N.H., Chamber of Commerce, Jan. 27, 2000 (Listen to audio clip)

36. "Do you have blacks, too?" --to Brazilian President Fernando Cardoso, Washington, D.C., Nov. 8, 2001

35. "This foreign policy stuff is a little frustrating." --as quoted by the New York Daily News, April 23, 2002

34. "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." --on "Good Morning America," Sept. 1, 2005, six days after repeated warnings from experts about the scope of damage expected from Hurricane Katrina

33. "I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully." --Saginaw, Mich., Sept. 29, 2000

32. "I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5 pound largemouth bass in my lake." --on his best moment in office, interview with the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, May 7, 2006

31. "They misunderestimated me." --Bentonville, Ark., Nov. 6, 2000

30. "For every fatal shooting, there were roughly three non-fatal shootings. And, folks, this is unacceptable in America. It's just unacceptable. And we're going to do something about it." --Philadelphia, Penn., May 14, 2001

29. "This is an impressive crowd -- the haves and the have mores. Some people call you the elite -- I call you my base." --at the 2000 Al Smith dinner

28. "Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream." --LaCrosse, Wis., Oct. 18, 2000

27. "I know what I believe. I will continue to articulate what I believe and what I believe -- I believe what I believe is right." --Rome, Italy, July 22, 2001

26. "See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda." --Greece, N.Y., May 24, 2005 (Listen to audio clip)

25. "People say, how can I help on this war against terror? How can I fight evil? You can do so by mentoring a child; by going into a shut-in's house and say I love you." --Washington, D.C., Sept. 19, 2002

24. "I wish you'd have given me this written question ahead of time so I could plan for it...I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference, with all the pressure of trying to come up with answer, but it hadn't yet...I don't want to sound like I have made no mistakes. I'm confident I have. I just haven't -- you just put me under the spot here, and maybe I'm not as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one." --after being asked to name the biggest mistake he had made, Washington, D.C., April 3, 2004

23. "You forgot Poland." --to Sen. John Kerry during the first presidential debate, after Kerry failed to mention Poland's contributions to the Iraq war coalition, Miami, Fla., Sept. 30, 2004

22. "Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter." --in parting words to world leaders at his final G-8 Summit, punching the air and grinning widely as those present looked on in shock, Rusutsu, Japan, July 10, 2008

21. "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." --State of the Union Address, Jan. 28, 2003, making a claim that administration officials knew at the time to be false

20. "The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him." --Washington, D.C., Sept. 13, 2001

19. "I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority." --Washington, D.C., March 13, 2002

18. "So what?" –President Bush, responding to a an ABC News correspondent who pointed out that Al Qaeda wasn't a threat in Iraq until after the U.S. invaded, Dec. 14, 2008

17. "Can we win? I don't think you can win it." --after being asked whether the war on terror was winnable, "Today" show interview, Aug. 30, 2004

16. "I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace." --Washington, D.C. June 18, 2002

15. "I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn't do my job." --to a group of Amish he met with privately, July 9, 2004

14. "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed." --speaking underneath a "Mission Accomplished" banner aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, May 1, 2003

13. "We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories ... And we'll find more weapons as time goes on. But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them." --Washington, D.C., May 30, 2003

12. "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere!" --joking about his administration's failure to find WMDs in Iraq as he narrated a comic slideshow during the Radio & TV Correspondents' Association dinner, Washington, D.C., March 24, 2004 (Read more)

11. "I'll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office." --Washington, D.C., May 12, 2008

10. "Rarely is the questioned asked: Is our children learning?" --Florence, South Carolina, Jan. 11, 2000.

9. "As yesterday's positive report card shows, childrens do learn when standards are high and results are measured." --on the No Child Left Behind Act, Washington, D.C., Sept. 26, 2007 (Watch video clip)

8. "If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." --Washington, D.C., Dec. 19, 2000 (Listen to audio clip)

7. "I'm the decider, and I decide what is best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the Secretary of Defense." --Washington, D.C. April 18, 2006 (Read more; listen to audio clip; watch video clip)

6. "There's an old saying in Tennessee -- I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee -- that says, fool me once, shame on --shame on you. Fool me -- you can't get fooled again." --Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002 (Watch video clip)

5. "Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country." --Poplar Bluff, Mo., Sept. 6, 2004 (Watch video clip)

4. "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." --Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004 (Watch video clip)

3. "You work three jobs? ... Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that." --to a divorced mother of three, Omaha, Nebraska, Feb. 4, 2005 (Listen to audio clip)

2. "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." --to FEMA director Michael Brown, who resigned 10 days later amid criticism over his handling of the Hurricane Katrina debacle, Mobile, Ala., Sept. 2, 2005 (Listen to audio clip; watch video clip)

1. "My answer is bring them on." --on Iraqi insurgents attacking U.S. forces, Washington, D.C., July 3, 2003

You can find the original here, with a lot of other funny stuff.

Good riddance, George. I hope we can convince the rest of the world that the last eight years were an over-reaction and aberration, and we're really, really sorry about it. Dallas deserves Bush.

Now, when can we change the name of our airport here in Houston and get that horrid Bush name off of it?

Obama to keep Estate Tax

Yay! One of the first, good, concrete things I've heard so far!

Of course, Congress hasn't passed the new rule yet and anything could happen, but it would appear that Obama and the Dems will not let the Estate Tax phase out to zero as planned for 2010.

And quit calling it the "Death Tax." That's just a euphemism that the Republicans use to hoodwink the rubes into thinking that the tax might affect THEM and to abolish it.

Obama Plans to Keep Estate Tax

Democrats Want to Freeze Levy at Current Levels Instead of Letting It Expire Next Year

President-elect Barack Obama and congressional leaders plan to move soon to block the estate tax from disappearing in 2010, suggesting the levy might outlive the "Death Tax Repeal" movement that has tried mightily to kill it.

Under the Obama plan detailed during the campaign, the estate tax would be locked in permanently at the rate and exemption levels that took effect this year. That would exempt estates of $3.5 million -- $7 million for couples -- from any taxation. The value of estates above that would be taxed at 45%. If the tax were returned to Clinton-era levels, it would exclude $1 million from taxation with the rest taxed at 55%.

In making their case for the restoration, Democrats contend that such a large additional tax break for the rich shouldn't go into force halfway through Mr. Obama's proposed economic-recovery package. They argue that the deficit is already in record territory, while their plan wouldn't have any impact on the economy since it would merely keep the estate-tax rate at its current level. Mr. Obama and his party also say that the affluent already have benefited handsomely from the Bush tax cuts.

whole story is here. Careful, though, this article is from the Wall Street Journal, er, I mean the Murdoch Street Journal, so it's tilted to the wealthy already.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Joe the Plumber Reports From Israel

Yeah, we passed through the looking glass long ago. Anything goes.

Joe trades wrench for reporter’s notepad in Israel

By AMY TEIBEL Associated Press

Jan. 11, 2009, 1:33PM

SDEROT, Israel — Joe the Plumber has set aside his wrenches to become a rookie war correspondent, covering Israel’s side of its two-week-old military offensive in Gaza.

The Ohio man, who rocketed to fame during the U.S. presidential campaign for asking Barack Obama about his tax plan, was in the southern Israeli town of Sderot on Sunday to tell readers of the conservative Web site about the rockets that rain down from the neighboring Gaza Strip.

The people of Sderot “can’t do normal things day to day” like get soap in their eyes in the shower, for fear of rockets, said America’s most famous plumber, who’s real name is Samuel J. Wurzelbacher.

“I’m sure they’re taking quick showers,” he said. “I know I would.”

Wurzelbacher’s status as a rookie was evident when he stood in front of a pile of spent rockets and said: “I have thousands of questions but I can’t think of the right one.”

What he could summon was contempt for Israel’s critics, who are outraged by the more than 870 Palestinians killed in Israel’s bruising air and ground onslaught against Gaza’s Islamic militant Hamas rulers. Thirteen Israelis have also died since the operation began, including four killed by the rocket fire that touched off the war in the first place.

“Why hasn’t Israel acted sooner?” Wurzelbacher asked. “I know if I were a citizen here, I’d be damned upset.”

He described himself as a “peaceloving man,” but added, “when someone hits me, I’m going to unload on the boy. And if the rest of the world doesn’t understand that, then I’m sorry.”

Wurzelbacher, who underwent intense media scrutiny during the campaign, said he was enlisted to cover Israel because he’s “an expert on media bias.”

“I was on the short end of the stick,” like Israel is now, he said.

When Wurzelbacher joined Republican Sen. John McCain on the campaign trail, he agreed with a supporter who asked if he thought “a vote for Obama is a vote for the death of Israel.”

Wurzelbacher said the full story of Israel’s campaign against Hamas isn’t coming out on mainstream news outlets. He said they are demonizing Israel instead of recognizing it as the victim of Gaza militants who have fired thousands of rockets at Israel over the past eight years.

“It’s asinine when someone is firing upon you and the world is coming down on you,” he said. “Common sense has gone out the window.”

“Hamas hides among its own people,” causing civilian casualties, he added. “But I hear no cry out from the international community.”

That’s the Israeli government’s position, too. And though foreign reporters normally have to provide proof of experience to receive government authorization to report from Israel, Wurzelbacher was being escorted Sunday on his first reporting gig ever by the head of the Government Press Office, Danny Seaman, and a press office photographer.

Wurzelbacher said he’s been “embraced” by the people of Israel because “they know I have no agenda but the truth.” But his arrival in a busy cafe elicited no overt signs of recognition. He appeared to cause more of a stir among the press there.

This is his first trip to Israel, and he pronounced himself “happy to be here.”

But war correspondent or not, Wurzelbacher won’t get to Gaza: Israel has barred access to foreign journalists.

“If he wants to put on an Israeli military uniform and go in as a volunteer, maybe,” Seaman quipped. “Nobody goes in.”

Original is here.

I want to laugh, but....

Oh, please go in, Joe.