Sunday, May 31, 2009


In an interview with Brian Williams on NBC President Obama, tried to defuse Republican attacks on remarks Sotomayor made in 2001 by saying:

"I'm sure she would have restated it, but if you look at the entire sweep of the essay she wrote, what's clear is that she was simply saying that her life experiences will give her information about the struggles and hardships that people are going through that will make her a good judge."

The charges of "racist" have come from Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, Tom Tancredo, and an additonal attack on her qualifications by of all people Tom Delay, the indicted former Republican Majority Whip in the House, all except for Limbaugh former Republican congressmen with no say or vote in the confirmaton.

Is this a "good cop bad cop" strategy by Republicans having former members of the House do their dirty work attacking Sotomayor as a racist while current members condemn it? Is this lost on Obama?

The fact that he would dignify and give credence to charges of being a"racist" by former Republican members of the House who have no credibility themselves, and the fact that Obama would take them seriously and give credibilty to their ridiculous assertion that Sotomayor is a racist, shows everything that is and always has been wrong about Obama.

If you read Sotomayor's 2001 remarks in context there is no need for a defense of Sotomayor's remark since only the most tortured interpretation, ( something the Republicans know a lot about) could construe her remarks as racist.

Obama could have and should have been on the attack against the Republicans for their ridiculous assertion but instead gave credence to their attacks by implying the fault was with Sotomayor and the way she phrased her remark. What Obama didn't say because he is in the end, someone who, as he has shown with his constant reversals on torture memos and investigations, is not guided by any moral principle or conviction and not someone who is willing to stand up for somethng, but someone who lives by only the most superficial kind of politics.

What Obama could have pointed out but didn't, is that Sotomayor made her remarks in 2001 when she was already a federal judge. And she has been on the bench for 17 years. So obviously when she first made her remarks Newt Gingrich, Tom Delay, Tom Tancredo or Rush Limbaugh didn't have a problem with them. They didn't call her a racist then and no one seemed to think it was a problem the last 8 years. But now supposedly it is.

But aside from exposing their hypocrisy, Obama could have and should have ripped Gingrich, Limbaugh, Delay and Tancredo to shreds for making the racist accusations. Her remarks in context were clear, understandable and made a point. But Obama hates confrontation and conflict and he also hates a fight, something many unthinking people have wrongly interpreted as having an ability to unite opposing forces. That is nonsense. During the Democratic primary Obama was one of the most divisive candidates in recent memory.Obama just prefers to duck controversy and confrontation any way he can if he feels it endangers him politically.

Sotomayor climbed her ladder from law school in a white male dominated environment.She said in her 2001 remarks that "women and people of color ... report in significantly higher percentages than white men that their gender and race has shaped their careers," No one can deny the truth of that. Race and gender has never been an issue for white males. It has been a big issue for people of color and women. She also pointed out in the same remarks that, "until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in a gender discrimination case.".

Which led to her remarks that maybe a wise Latina woman would make better choices in some cases than the white male judges who dominated the judicial system.

And that is what Limbaugh, Tancredo and Gingrich have tried to paint as racist.And that is what Obama and his spokesman Robert Gibbs, who said in a press briefing about her remarks, that "her word choice in 2001 was poor" have tried to back peddal from. Her word choice wasnt' poor. What is poor is Obama's tepid weak kneed defense of Sotomayor, being put on the defensive by the ridiculous comments of a disgraced former Speaker of the House, a clown of a talk show host and an indicted former Republican Majority Whip.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Obama'S choice of Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court. Sotomayor was as much political as anything else. The Hispanic community kept the pressure on Obama to appoint a Hispanic and with it being a foregone conclusion that the nominee would also be a woman, Sotomayer was the logical choice, if politics is the first criteria.

But it's going to be hard for Republicans to make an issue of her qualifications since she has a good resume, and more experience as a judge than anyone else now on the court had at the time of their confirmation hearings. She also has a reputation for being hard to get along with and having a fiery temperament which should make her interaction with people like Scalia, Roberts and Alito a fun time for all.

The real question is was she the most qualified and did Obama simply give in to pressure from the Latino community which had been howling for him to nominate a Hispanic.

Given Obama's history of giving in to whatever political pressure is exerted on him from any side ( i.e. his constant reversals on torture, torture memos, prosecutions, investigations, and photos, depending on who he spoke to last) it is almost a certainty that Sotomayer was chosen because she is a Hispanic woman.

Most people more familiar with her record and the record of other candidates say there were many candidates more qualified than Sotomayer. Diane Wood is one name mentioned frequently. On the other hand with the Latino population in the U.S. growing, there is little doubt that Obama was told by House and Senate Democrats that choosing a Hispanic would give the Democrats a very strong political position in the next election and a reason for them to vote Democrat. Something the Republicans will try to undermine with a different constituency, Angry White Males.

But no one can argue that Sotomayer is a bad or unqualified candidate. She is no Hariet Miers. Sotomayer has all the qualifications and experience needed. A graduate of Yale Law School she was first appointed in 1992 by, of all people George H.W. Bush and appointed as an appeals judge by Bill Clinton in 1997.

The Republicans will surely try and do what they can to make political points in an attempt to damage Democrats. Thats all they can do. But regardless of what Republicans say or do, the Democrats have the votes to confirm her so minus some skeleton in her closet that could derail her nomination she will become the first Hispanic to sit on the Supreme Court, despite the fact that the news media insists on calling it a "battle" for her confirmation.

There will be no battle, though Newt Gingrich has already called her a racist which in itself is pretty funny. If her confirmation lacks drama it seems that Gingrich is intent on providing the comedy. He believes she is an anti-white racist which sounds like a Gingrich and Republican attempt and trying to rise from the ashes politically by galvanizing the Angry White Male and making it a race issue.

The most interesting part of the hearings is going to be Republicans questioning Sotomayer on the 2nd ammendment. As anyone with any Constitutional knowledge knows the 2nd amendment has nothing to do with an indivduals right to own a gun. Any politician who says so is just pandering to the gun crowd as Obama has done many times and most politicians do publicly.

With Obama having made statements that support the idea that the 2nd amendment somehow relates to individual gun ownership and Sotomayer having made rulings which at the very least suggest she doubts this, that could provide the fireworks the media is praying for.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Lawrence Wilkerson, former aide to Colin Powell when he was Secretary of State dropped a bombshell, alleging that torture was used on Al-Qaeda suspects to try and get a "smoking gun" that would link Iraq to the 911 attacks to make the case for invading Iraq.

Wilkerson wrote on the The Washington Note that the Bush Administration's "principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at preempting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al Qaeda,"

In one documented case Wilkerson said Cheney's office was notified that one Al-Qaeda prisoner was now "compliant" meaning that he was giving information and the torture techniques should stop. According to Wilkerson, Cheney's office ordered the CIA to continue the harsh techniques. Up until then, even under torture, the suspect, Ibn al- Shaykh al-Libi didn't give any information linking Iraq with Al-Qaeda. But according to Wilkerson, under water boarding and torture by Egyptian intelligence at the direction of the CIA through Cheney, al-Libi told interrogators that Sadaam had trained Al-Qaeda in how to produce chemical and biological weapons.

Bush used this "information" which was clearly fabricated by al-Libi to get the torture to stop, in a speech to Congress in October of 2002 as part of the his pressure on Congress to authorize war against Iraq.

As we now know, there was never any collaboration between Iraq and Al-Qaeda, and al-Libi later recanted the information saying it was made under torture by Egyptian intelligence.The truth of this is evident in that there was never any evidence found anywhere to substantiate the claim.

This bolsters the claim by interrogation professionals such as Ali Soufan, the top FBI Al-Qaeda interrogator, that torture was an unreliable method for gaining actionable intelligence since a subject would say anything to get the torture to stop.

These claims and allegations made by Wilkerson make Congressional hearings on Bush Administration torture a must. It is now not only a matter of the legality of torture and whether Bush, Cheney and others in his administration were guilty of breaking the law, but it goes to the heart of the Iraq war and whether these illegal techniques were used to get false information that Bush and Cheney used to justify the invasion of Iraq which was their goal from the beginning. As the Republicans are pointing out now in regards to Pelosi, lying to Congress is a crime and investigations into the Bush Adminstrations' pre-war claims about Iraq could make felons out of both Bush, Cheney and Rice, not to mention many more.

It has become clear that President Obama's moral ambivalence, wavering, indecisiveness and attempts at political appeasement must be brushed aside and that the Democratic Congress must take the lead and hold Congressional hearings, not just on the illegality of Bush Administration torture, but whether or not torture was used to gather information, as Wilkerson alleges, for the sole purpose of getting information, even false information as a justification to go to war in Iraq.

If any of that can be proved, it will be a scandal that will dwarf Watergate as the biggest scandal in the country's history and will turn many in the Bush Administration, including Bush himself into felons. So expect the Republicans to fight it tooth and nail.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Both the media and Republicans, who love to make something out of nothing ( except when Republicans govern and then turn something into nothing) seem to want to make a big issue out of what Nancy Pelosi knew about water boarding and torture and when she knew it . In yesterday's press conference the big question was who told her what when. The problem is it doesn't matter..

Pelosi was not making policy, Pelosi had no say in what Bush policy was going to be, and whether or not she was informed about water boarding in 2002 or whether or not she protested means absolutely nothing.

The only issues that matter regarding torture relates to the Bush White House and whether what they did was legal and did Bush Administration lawyers contrive a pseudo legal framework to justify torture. And if they did , the next question is, should they and other members of the Bush Administration who ordered the illegal torture be prosecuted.

Last night the breathless Lou Dobbs as well as other members of the press seemed to think that what Pelosi knew was somehow important.

It wouldn't matter if Pelosi lied through her teeth about everything she knew regarding torture. She didn't create the policy, didn't implement it and had no say or veto power over whether it was used or not. And as far as what we know so far, both Bob Graham, the former chairman of the Intelligence Committee and Jay Rockefeller who was also on the Intelligence Committee say they were never informed by the CIA though the CIA now claims both were briefed.
If nothing else this tends to corrorborate Pelosi's version of events.

After hearing Pelosi's admittedly stammering press conference, in the end she made it clear (even if Dobbs and other journalists couldnt grasp it through the stammering,) that she was NOT told by the CIA in any briefing that water boarding was being used. Whether or not this is true, I have no idea. But what the breathless Lou Dobbs didn't seem to grasp was that she was not admitting anything she hadn't said before even though she was clearly flustered in the way she was trying to say it. And now she is saying that the CIA misled her.

What the resolution of all this back and forth will be no one knows. But underneath all this chaos over torture, torture memos and reversal of policies regarding abuse photos is the Undecider himself, Barrack Obama who seems like he never had a thought he didn't want to change and whose constant reversals have been torturing the country over torture as I pointed out weeks ago.

Obama has reversed himself on so many decisions related to Bush era torture that its clear he has no moral position himself, no legal position himself, and maybe no clue himself as to what it all means, and we are seeing very clearly the admonitions we heard during the Democratic primaries that Obama was the least qualified of all the candidates to be President and its starting to show.

Given that the Republicans cant be trusted to do anything right, and Obama seems to have no idea about what is right regarding the whole issue of torture, its going to be left to Congress to have to straighten it all out.

For now Obama has a public mess on his hands of his own making mostly for not being consistent and not having any personal convictions regarding the entire issue of torture in the first place.

If the Republicans and the press want to make an issue of what Pelosi knew that's fine. Let the Congress and Pelosi use that as a good reason to have hearings and get to the bottom of everything. This is actually an opportunity for Pelosi and those Democrats who want hearings into Bush Administration torture to use Republican allegations against her to get them to support the idea of hearings. Which will not only get to the bottom of everything, it will take it out of Obama's hands which somebody needs to do.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


After much talk about how now is the time for health care reform, the first announcement regarding this long awaited and necessary change came when President Obama announced that the health care industry has voluntarily agreed to reduce increases in health care costs by 1.5% a year for the next ten years so that instead of costs continuing to rise by 6% a year they will now only rise by 4.5% a year.

To coin a phrase, this is not what we've been waiting for.

Obama trumpeted that it will save $2 trillion over the next ten years. What is bothersome is that the annoucement was made with the CEO's of the major health insurance companies standing behind him, and it would only save $2 trillion over the next 10 years if nothing else changes.

This gives every indication that Obama is not serious about universal health care which is the only thing that represents real health care reform.

The 1.5% decrease in increases is about as genuine as the Ovaltine commerical disgused as a secret message from Little Orphan Annie in A Christmas Story.

If the dramatic overhaul that's been promised comes about and universal health care becomes a reality, that $2 trillion in savings as a result of a decrease in increases in costs will be to the benefit of the health industry, the big business entities like insurance companies who are the real culprits in the outrageous cost of health care.

A decrease in increases is just the kind of Washinton double speak that Obama promised to change but when push comes to shove he is as guilty of an any garden variety politician.

Again, it signals that Obama may not be serious about real universal health care because if he was, a voluntary 1.5% cut in increases wouldn't and shouldn't matter to patients who,under universal health care wouldnt have to worry about costs.

Obama said that this is only the opening salvo in health care reform. But it's hardly a salvo. It;s not even a bb shot. And unless there is a real change in direction and philosophy, the idea of universal health care is going to be memory just like Ovaltine.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


A story now being circulated on the net and accredited to the AP, written by Christopher Sherman, is grabbing attention with the headline "First US Resident with swine flu dies". When one reads the rest of the story it becomes apparent that this is just another attempt by media to exploit peoples fears and create more worry and concern when there is none.

The ridiculously misleading headline says "First US Resident With Swine Flu Dies". But notice it says it was a resident "with" swine flu, not that the swine flu caused the death. And In fact when you read the article you learn that doctors are NOT ascribing the woman's death to swine flu, only pointing out that she was already ill with something else and the flu could have complicated the condition. She had it when she died but she did not die from it and Texas health officials have refused to ascribe her death to swine flu.

Which didn't stop the AP from going with the grossly misleading headline. Or CNN from running a crawl that said "First U.S. death linked to swine flu".

In the body of the AP article, Carrie Williams a spokeswoman for The Texas State Department health said, the woman had "chronic underlying health conditions" but wouldn't elaborate. The article also quoted Lionel Lopez, the Cameron County epidemiologist who said the flu exacerbated the woman's condition. "The swine flu is very benign by itself," Lopez is quoted in the article as saying. But "by the time she came to see us it was already too late." The woman was hospitalized on April 19 for other reasons but according to Lopez by the time she came to the hospital her condition had become irreversible from the underlying illness.

In other words a woman in Texas has tragically died of something other than swine flu but because she also had swine flu at the same time, in spite of the statements from officials that the flu did not cause her death, the media believed it has license to write headlines like "First US Resident With Swine Flu Dies" even though the flu didn't cause her death. Yet in the highlights of the article it clearly states, "33 year old Texas School Teacher Dies of swine flu". This, even after Janet Napolitano head of Homeland Security came out yesterday and said H1N1 was no worse than any other kind of flu

This is another example as I have pointed out in earlier articles, where the media is more interested in exploiting the swine flu for their own benefit rather than actually giving people helpful information. It is probably safe to say that the media is making more people sick with what I have called an epidemic of stupidity, than H1N1.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


It's becoming more and more apparent that the fear mongering over the swine flu by major media outlets and to a lesser extent the White House, has had more to do with an epidemic of stupidity.

There is now a growing chorus coming to the realization that the danger swine flu represents has been grossly overblown, over hyped and over-exaggerated. And in Mexico where it all started they have lowered the alerts even though the number of cases have risen.

There is no evidence, nor has there ever been, that swine flu poses any real danger, that anyone is more likely to get it than any other kind of flu, is hard to treat, causes any lasting damage, or is any more a cause for concern than any other flu. In fact all the evidence is that so far it is less a worry than all currently known flu strains.

And Time Magazine on it's web site is reporting this:

"As a global network of flu experts began to take a good look at the genetic structure of the new H1N1 virus, there were also indications that the bug might turn out to be little more dangerous than an average flu. "

And added,"...Still, a little more than a week after the WHO first swung into high alert, it's easy to wonder whether H1N1 might turn out to be much ado about not that much"

Most people have no idea what the word "pandemic" really means. They hear it and it scares them. Which is just what the media wants so why bother to inform them of what the word really means? A pandemic simply means a disease, any disease that has gone from one country to another. As soon as cases of H1N1 showed up in the Unites States as well as Mexico, it was a pandemic. It has nothing to do with how many people have it, it has nothing to do with how many people health officials think can get it, it has nothing to do with how dangerous it is or isnt. it just means that there are cases in more than one country.

The needless hysteria, hype and worry surrounding swine flu has been created by politicians and a news media and their exaggerated hyperventilated news coverage, which obviously is to their own benefit since fear and worry drives people to news organizations for information. But it is clearly a needless exploitation of something that is not, as far as the current known facts make apparent, even a realistic concern. Which of course doesn't keep people from going nuts, or, like in the case of Egypt, killing all of the country's pigs.

Just to put it in perpsective, last year 36,000 Americans died from conventional, known strains of flu or complications related to known strains of flu. Think of it -- 36,000 in the US alone. Compare that with 900 cases (according to the latest figures) of swine flu world wide. That is an epidemic?

To date there have been two reported deaths from swine flu ( and I emphasize the word reported), compared to the 36,000 deaths in the US alone from conventional or known strains of flu and there has been no reporting as to whether those deaths were directly related to the swine flu. Even if they were, in terms of numbers they are beyond infinitesimal compared to known strains of flu.

Politically and as a matter of public health and information, Obama has not helped. In his own way he has helped feed the hysteria by doing what he thinks should be done politically but he is making the fears unnecessarily worse. This is something Obama has done too often in his political career -- pander to momentary sentiment or do what he thinks is the most politically expedient thing to do or say regardless of what's real or what's needed.

On Sunday Obama put out a statement in his name that said,"The White House is acting aggressively to combat H1N1".

The courageous thing to do in this situation, the honest thing and the most helpful thing, would be to stand up and tell the truth -- that while this form of flu is nothing anyone wants to spend a weekend with, this is not more dangerous than any other kind of flu, and so far it looks a lot less dangerous than conventional flu or other illnesses. And the outbreak in terms of numbers both in the U.S. and world wide are microscopic compared to other illnesses. Contracting it is rare and even if you do the consequences are generally minor. It is not fatal. It is not dangerous. It will not make your eyeballs fall out. It has no lasting consequences and people who have gotten it were treated conventionally and are recovering nicely with no lasting effects. And every available statistic backs that up.

Instead we get Obama using words like "combat", the CDC using the words "war against" and the news media milking it for all its worth to get ratings and anything else that will make a buck.
It has gotten so utterly stupid, CNN did a major news piece on Sunday called "Inside the H1N1 War Room". War Room? Are they kidding? No, their PR department isn't kidding.

While it makes sense for the government to be prepared, to always error on the side of caution, and to be sure there are enough stockpiles of tamiflu to handle any need, the news media and the White House has turned this into an epidemic of stupidity and fear mongering, worrying people for no good reason.

When Obama said it was "cause for concern but not panic" that was an incredibly unhelpful statement because it was not true. The correct statement should have been, "It is not now a cause for concern, but if it becomes one we will certainly let you know".

Swine flu is hardly an epidemic as the numbers show, and its hardly serious even if someone contracted it based on all the presently known medical evidence. There are many, many times more people dying every day from malaria ( thousands) than people who have even contracted swine flu and yet not a word about that from the news media.

Only yesterday Napolitano, head of Homeland Security made the statement that H1N1 is "no worse than ordinary flu". She could have said that more than a week ago.

Six months from now, if nothing dramatically changes, people will look back at the actions by the media and by government leaders and shake their heads. The big danger in all this overheated hype is that one of these days something truly dangerous to public health might come along and people might shrug off warnings as being nothing more than another case of media hyped swine flu.