The World This Week By Wah : September 21, 2008

Videos should be coming shortly…like tonight.

UPDATE: Or maybe tomorrow.  Got everything updated (XP, Vista with Service Packs and video editing software, new version, and other patches, and a new monitor) and now we’re done with last week’s program.  I am hoping to get these done and uploaded by Sunday night, Monday at the latest, so far I haven’t made it.  My plan right now calls for 10 weeks of this stuff, which takes us right through the election.  Feel free to offer feedback.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:


Here’s the outline (for all three parts):

  1. The Economy
    Welcome to the REALLY United States of America!!
    One Thing To Say About the Collapse of Wall Street
    The World’s Biggest Bailouts
    Sorry about that whole “U.S. economic collapse” thing (Straw and A Camel’s Back)
  2. McCain vs. Obama Tax Plan
    Biden’s Response to McCain Tax Lie Gets More Coverage Than the Lie
    Arguing About Obama’s Tax Policy
  3. Text Messages and the Tececom Scam
    Lookin at the Text Message Scam
  4. Russia, Georgia, Bush Doctrine and Palin
    Let’s Play: “Fun With Russia: Arms Deal Version”
    Straight From the Energy Expert’s Mouth To Your Ears
    [On] Palin Progaganda on Fox
    Palin Lying and Covering It Up (Email Hacked)
    Charles Krauthammer’s Lie (and read up on the “Bush Doctrine”)
    New Yorker : Funny : Two Things That Rarely Go Together
    Q: re: Rape Kits :: Can You Save Money If You Buy in Bulk
  5. NSA Lawsuit
    Fighting the NSA
  6. Science / General Interest
    Scientists Expose Mystery Behind Aurora Borealis Spectacle Of Light
    Now That’s Quality Construction
    Ninja Cat : Lessons in Stalking
  7. Sports / Culture
    How Do I Turn Off Tony Kornheiser?
    Jesus “Jack Bauer” Christ
    Kottke on Wallace
  8. Quick President 08 Update
    McCain: No Science For You!!!
    Obama’s 50 State Project Complete
  • Conclusion
  • Biden’s Response to McCain Tax Lie Gets More Coverage Than the Lie

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden said Thursday that paying more in taxes is the patriotic thing to do for wealthier Americans. In a new TV ad that repeats widely debunked claims about the Democratic tax plan, the Republican campaign calls Obama’s tax increases “painful.”

    Under the economic plan proposed by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, people earning more than $250,000 a year would pay more in taxes while those earning less – the vast majority of American taxpayers – would receive a tax cut.

    Although Republican John McCain claims that Obama would raise taxes, the independent Tax Policy Center and other groups conclude that four out of five U.S. households would receive tax cuts under Obama’s proposals.

    Noting that wealthier Americans would indeed pay more, Biden said: “It’s time to be patriotic … time to jump in, time to be part of the deal, time to help get America out of the rut.”

    News from The Associated Press.

    Biden’s gaffe, if you want to call it that (and they will), will probably get a lot more airplay that McCain’s dissassembling.

    I found a really good graph comparing the two tax policy proposals from the candidates.

    You can see it here.

    McCaina and Obama's Tax Plan

    McCain vs Obama (re: Taxes)

    And Biden is right, it is time for the rich to start paying their fair share. They haven’t been since Bush’s massive upper class tax cuts. Now some people think that a higher ratio for the rich is some kind of class warfare, but what they often forget is the VAST majority of wealth in this country in concentrated in a few small portion of the populace. There are larger differences in income and wealth now in the U.S. than ever before.

    And they got a whole bunch worse with Bush’s tax policy, which included a massive tax cut and starting a war, both of which McCain endorses. BTW, Bush was the first President to cut taxes during a war. Taxes were increased to pay for every U.S. war in history (except for the one with Mexico…which was paid for by Texas).

    Some people will dismiss the Obama’s proposal “Class Warfare”. What I see it as is something made to avoid actual class warfare. You know, the killing and robbing kind.

    But enough on that, let’s talk about McCain’s lies. McCain thinks that Obama is going to raise taxes on “Middle Class Americans” because McCain thinks that “Middle Class Americans” make around two or three million dollars a year.

    Now, McCain might have been joking about that, but he wasn’t joking when he said that the Americans wouldn’t pick lettuce for $50/hour.

    And now he wants to cut taxes, mostly for the richest 1%.

    That’s just not responsible government. You can’t cut out earmarks and balance the budget. We had a $406,000,000,000 shortfall this last year, and the total for earmarks is around $16-18,000,000,000. That’s not going to even get us close…

    For instance, estimates from watchdog groups of total earmark spending in fiscal 2008 range from $16-18 billion. Current estimated outlays for the federal government in fiscal 2008 are $2.9 trillion (PDF). That’s less than one percent.

    To put it another way, the current projected deficit is roughly $400 billion. Even if John McCain got rid of every earmark (an impossible task), it would only make a small contribution to deficit reduction. (See’s takedown of McCain’s exaggerated claims of how much it can save by reducing earmarks.)

    [full post]

    So you could cut out every single infrastructure improvement project in the country (what “earmarks” often are) and that wouldn’t bring us anywhere near to balancing the budget. You can’t stop going to the movies when your salary is less than your rent and hope that somehow those “savings” balance the books.

    What we need now are responsible politicians that don’t feed people the bullshit line that you can cut taxes to increase tax revenue in each and every economic situation.

    This isn’t the 70’s, with a top marginal rate in the 70’s (percent).

    This is the 00’s, with a top marginal rate in the teens (maturity-wise).

    It’s a new situation and it needs a better solution than the one Bush offered (the one McCain was against before he was for it…both of which were *way* before he started lying about the whole thing).

    If we look to history, the answer is easy. It we “make our own history” in the Neocon way, then we can happily make the same mistakes that have been made since time immemorial.

    McCain Makes New Pledge to American People

    ALEXANDRIA, Va. — John McCain pledged a “respectful campaign” Tuesday against either Barack Obama or Hillary Rodham Clinton, but said he is less confident about the influence of outside political groups.

    McCain said he hopes so, adding that he respects both Obama and Clinton, and believes they respect him. “Americans want more respectful campaigns,” he added.

    McCain pledges ‘respectful campaign’ –

    Aaah, finally. McCaing is going to go all “Mavrick” on the Rove-style politics his campaign is making their calling card.

    Huh? I’m sorry. My editor (i.e. my conscience) is telling me the above article is from April 1st, 2008. Aaaah, April Fool’s day.

    Nice one, McCain.


    From July 2, 2008.

    Political tremors were felt coming out of Arlington, Va. today where Sen. John McCain keeps his campaign headquarters.

    McCain, who’s in Latin America, gave increased authority over his campaign’s daily workings to operative Steve Schmidt, a veteran of the Bush 2004 campaign who likely learned a thing or two from Karl Rove back then.

    It meant that Rick Davis, McCain’s campaign manager, would be ceding some of his authority.

    UPDATE: From this week…

    Posted: 09/08/08 06:49 PM [ET]
    Eight years after helping George Bush defeat John McCain in a bitter primary, Karl Rove appears to be playing a significant role in helping the Arizona Republican win the presidency.

    Rove has downplayed his contact with the McCain campaign, but the former adviser to President Bush met with GOP delegates from Colorado last Wednesday. Rove, who is now a Fox News analyst, told reporters after the meeting that he has friends in the McCain organization who occasionally seek his advice.

    [full story\]

    So there you have it. John McCain went from trying to run a respectful, issue-based campaign to Rovian-style bullshit, in only three months.

    Umm, “Mavrick”? The pattern is full.

    [….hehe…”Top” Gun…lolz]

    Lipstick on an Economy

    2008 deficit forecast soars to $407B – Sep. 9, 2008

    NEW YORK — The budget deficit will jump by $246 billion to $407 billion this year, the Congressional Budget Office estimates in a report released Tuesday.

    “Over the long run, growing budget deficits and the resulting increases in federal debt would lead to slower economic growth,” the agency said.

    Last year, the budget deficit was $161 billion. The governments fiscal year ends Sept. 30. The agency attributes the jump to “a substantial increase in spending and a halt in the growth of tax revenues.”

    And jobs…

    Not only are home foreclosures at a record high in the US, but national unemployment also climbed above the psychologically important 6 percent level last month for the first time in five years – and it’s likely to go even higher in the months ahead, possibly throwing the economy into a tailspin as Americans pick a new president. The rate has steadily climbed this year from a cycle low of 4.4 per cent and now sits just below the peak of 6.3 per cent seen during the last recession. (See: Home foreclosures at record high in the US)

    And our failed bank de-regulation experiment…

    One part of the cure for the nation’s credit crisis is transparency. We cannot work our way out of our debts until we know how much we owe. That is a simple fact. We need an absolute ban on accounting shenanigans that range from off-budget operations to fictional asset values. No more Enron-style books. Now, could someone tell those who run the country?

    The Bush administration still hasn’t resolved how to account for the takeover — they say, conservatorship — of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

    Peter Orszag, director of the Congressional Budget Office, said at a news conference, “Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be directly incorporated into the federal budget.”

    Absolutely. Only this won’t be popular because its implementation would add big numbers to an already huge deficit. The most recent CBO budget and economic forecast is for a deficit of about $407 billion this year, growing to a record-breaking $438 billion in the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. Those numbers don’t include what it will cost to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

    [full article]

    The simple fact of the matter is that Republican leadership and economic policy and international policy has led us directly to the place where we currently find ourselves.

    Read on for the full story and understanding where the money went….

    Continue reading

    Tigh Visits Walter Reed

    Saul Tigh visited Walter Reed Junior High School last week on a dual Campaign and Recruiting trip. While opponent John McCain used an image of the middle school during his Republican acceptance speech (apparently in error), Colonel Tigh took the time to actually visit the school and talk to the students.

    Tigh Visits Walter Reed.

    Oh crap, this is too funny. Here’s the real story behind it.

    I remember this during the RNC Convention. Thought it was so strange I took a picture of it.

    McCain Green Background. by you.

    He kinds looks like a Hamster.

    Parder.  a POW Hamster.

    Executive Experience in Alaska

    Dividend Amounts

    State of Alaska > Departments > Revenue > PFD Division > Dividend Amounts

    Yearly Dividend Amounts

    Year Amount Increase (Decrease)
    2007 $1654.00 49.42%




























    State of Alaska – Permanent Fund Dividend Division.

    As mentioned previously, one of the biggest decisions attributed to the Governor of Alaska is presiding over how much money the Government sends to each Alaskan. I’m trying to verify if this is an addition to the $1,200 check Palin sent out, and the $600/person check Bush sent out.

    $3500 free dollars from the oil companies a year ain’t too shabby. No wonder they have such a meth problem.

    But such are the pitfalls of government welfare.

    This common welfare payment went up in dramatically 2007, after the passage of a Windfall Profits Tax…in Alaska. As many economists point out, this tax was just transferred to consumers. In the rest of the country. The “lower-48” as they call ’em up North.

    Here’s what McCain said about such things…

    Posted by The Associated Press June 17, 2008 12:29PM

    Categories: Breaking News

    SAN ANTONIO — Republican Sen. John McCain criticized Sen. Barack Obama’s call for a windfall profits tax on the oil industry on Tuesday, despite leaving the door open to the same idea last month.

    McCain criticized Obama, his Democratic rival, repeatedly in excerpts of a speech planned for delivery Tuesday evening. He cited Obama’s advocacy of a tax on excess oil industry profits as well as the Democrat’s vote for President Bush’s energy legislation in 2005.

    McCain reserved his sharpest words for the windfall profits tax.

    “If that plan sounds familiar, it’s because that was President Carter’s big idea, too. … I’m all for recycling, but it’s better applied to paper and plastic than to the failed policies of the 1970s,” McCain said in the excerpts.

    [full story]

    …but then again McCain doesn’t have any executive experience.

    In Alaska.

    And what’s with the divisive Previous-President bashing. I thought we were bringing each other together.  Oh wait, that’s the new thing. I’m sorry for expecting consistency in a campaign.

    Kind of got spoiled watching Obama, being all mature and shit.

    And having one with a rational concept of science is particularly refreshing.

    A Southpark Metaphor For McCain’s Speech

    I was just having a smoke pondering Senator McCain’s speech at the RNC Convention 2008, and I was struck by a pretty strong metaphor.

    Now, go with me a minute here. This is really only going to make the slightest bit of sense to people who have seen ‘Southpark: The Move’. Preferably more than once.

    Other’s might get distracted by the metaphor.

    In the movie Satan (in this case a metaphor for the U.S. electorate) is in bed with Saddam Hussein (in the case a metaphor for the Republican party). Now Satan (the U.S.) is sick of Saddam’s (Republican’s) crap. Saddam consistently treats Satan like a sex object, refuses to cuddle, and the U.S. is sick of it.

    So Satan is ready to dump the Republicans and makes that hope clear.

    And then Saddam starts singing…

    But I can change, I can change!!!
    I can learn to keep my promises, I swear it!
    I’ll open up my heart and I will share it!
    Any minute now I will be born again!
    Yes I can change, I can change!!!
    I know I’ve been a dirty little bastard
    La la la la la lalala!

    I like to kill, I like to maim, yes, I’m insane, but IT’S OK
    Its not my fault that Im so evil
    Its society, society.

    So that’s pretty much what I heard. It’s not our fault. It’s the media. And those corrupt Republicans in Washington.

    The people that caused the problems are going to change…themselves…and all the problems are solved.

    It’s a joke, don’t you get it?

    9 out of 44 (Palin’s VP Acceptance Speech)

    It turns out, according to this lady I’m watching on the Colbert Report, that nine out of forty-four Vice-Presidents have become Presidents, either through assassination, death of natural causes, or resignation.

    Which means we’re starting with a base 20% chance of losing any President.  It’s also been a while, which doesn’t raise the odds, but seems to.  And since McCain would be the oldest President ever elected (for a first time) we can kick that up to an even 50%.

    So…is this sarcastic, smart-ass person 50% of a President?

    read more, and the fact-checking after the jump…

    Continue reading

    Iraq and Afghanistan War Updates (and of course juicy Palin bits)

    Sorry, I’ve been slacking on the war updates. Some big things have happened, so let me dig ’em out of me email and let you know what the hell is going on and, as per, what I think about that.

    First up is some good news, direct from al-Anbar province in Iraq.

    RAMADI, Iraq, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) — Iraq on Monday took over security control of the western province of Anbar from U.S. troops, a provincial security source said.

    In a ceremony held in the provincial government building in the provincial capital city Ramadi under tough security measures, the U.S. military transferred the security file of the Sunni province to Iraqi security forces.

    Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, Iraq’s National Security Advisor announced the security transfer, saying “the Anbar province which once was one of the hottest areas in Iraq is celebrating today the transfer of security file.”

    Ma’moun al-Alwani, the governor of Anbar and the commander of the U.S. troops in the province signed the agreement of the handover during the televised ceremony.

    Anbar would be the 11th of Iraq’s 18 provinces to return to the control of Iraqi security forces. It would also be the first Sunni-dominated province to be handed over by the coalition forces.

    Anbar, the country’s largest province, expanding from Baghdad all the way west to the borders with Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, has been relatively calm since more than a year and a half ago after Sunni tribes and anti-U.S. insurgent groups turn up against al-Qaida in Iraq network, cooperating with the U.S. troops and Iraqi security forces.

    [full story]

    This is good news. We are giving them back their country. That is the only kind of victory we can fully achieve here. I say we go for it. Now is the time to make the decision about who is going to lead us in the “right” direction here.

    Let me show you two links, both attached to the above story that illustrate the current divide.

    U.S. proposes troops presence to 2015 in Iraq, Talabani

    BAGHDAD, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) — Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said that the United States asked Iraq to keep its troops in the war-torn country until 2015, but negotiations set 2011 as a dead line, website of Talabani’s party posted on Wednesday.

    “It was an American proposal that its troops to stay in Iraq to2015 while the Iraqi one suggested 2010, then we agreed on the date 2011,” Talabani said in an interview with the al-Hurra television from Washington late on Tuesday.


    Iraq, U.S. eye troops withdrawal by end of 2011

    BAGHDAD, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) — Iraq and the U.S. negotiators have reached a draft agreement on a proposed withdrawal timetable and other issues on the U.S. military presence in Iraq beyond 2008, CNN reported Friday.

    Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Haj Hamoud, who is also Iraq’s chief negotiator, told the channel that the U.S. troops would completely pull out by the end of 2011.

    So the basic issue is that at the end of this year, there is no even-paper-thin, reason for the United States to continue having a military presence in Iraq. They are trying to hammer out such an agreement now. Iraq wants us gone anywhere from now to 2011. Bush wants us there to 2015. McCain wants at least 2013 and maybe 2113. Obama wants now to 2010 (maybe 2011).

    I think that makes the choice easy. This war needs to be over. It’s reaching a point where we can hand it back over to the Iraqis we put in power. I think that’s about all we can ask for now. I seriously doubt we want to stay there until the Iraqi commit to fighting the “war on terror” (i.e. Iran and Syria) for us.

    Now, this is all assuming (in one branch of future reality) that McCain wins and survives a full term. Say he wins and doesn’t. Then one Sarah Palin takes over. You may have heard of her by now. You may have even seen her speaking to people before. What you probably haven’t seen is her preaching before. Which brings us to Sarah Palin and Iraq. In this case, I’ll let her speak for herself.

    Part 1

    Part 2

    [source and more on Palin’s church here…all part of the vetting process for the American people, it would seem]

    The part that freaks me the fuck out, quite frankly, is where she is talking about sending her son off to war. She asks for only one thing (well, after asking them to pray for a $30,000,000,000 pipeline project)

    Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right also for this country.

    That our leaders, our national leaders, are sending them out on a task that is from God. That’s what we have to make sure we are praying for. That there is a plan, and that plan is God’s plan.

    Oh golly. Let me catch you up a bit here. I know it’s hard to follow what’s going on in the rest of the world while you are busy pumping oil and negotiating pipeline contracts (and raising 5 kids, and going to snowmobile races, and teaching abstinence classes…it’s a full life I know).

    The “Plan” you are talking about in regards to Iraq was actually put together by the last Vice-President. That’s what he did. And no, he’s not God. Nor is Bush. And quite frankly, after following the action overseas for the last 7 years quite closely, I’m not sure you want to bring “God’s Plan” into it.

    And frankly, Mrs. Palin, if something happens to McCain, it’s going to be your plan. Do you have one? Have you even thought about it, a little bit?

    Really though, this kind of stuff freaks me out. There’s another quote out there about how she doesn’t really follow what’s going on. To have someone that doesn’t know (like Bush) surrounded by people with a serious agenda (the Neocons, rallying to McCain) scares the every-living shit out of me.

    Now, as to Afghanistan….

    “Victory in Afghanistan Is Impossible”

    Gèrard Chaliand: No. Victory is impossible in Afghanistan. With the heralded reinforcements, there will be about 80,000 NATO soldiers on the ground. That is insufficient to control the terrain. We’re in a military impasse. In this country, one and a quarter times the size of France with an incomparably more difficult topography, we would have had to send more men and above all to have actively contributed to ameliorating economic conditions in the countryside. Today, we must also try to negotiate. There’s no other way out. The Taliban cannot win the war against NATO, which is just as incapable of eradicating the Taliban.

    Outside of Kabul and several big cities, it’s the Taliban who control the local governments, and not foreign soldiers, most usually barricaded inside their little forts. In the south and east of the country, the Taliban – with the support of a large part of the local population – have succeeded in establishing a political infrastructure, parallel hierarchies that are the real power. Now experience shows that when it’s the opponent who exercises that power, the war is lost.

    How did we get to that point?

    The Taliban filled the vacuum left between 2002 and 2004, when the 15,000 GIs who were there were mainly busy with tracking bin Laden, when the other international forces remained concentrated in Kabul and nothing was done for the peasant populations, especially in the south and east (the Pashtun regions) even though those regions are the keys to the country.

    International development aid, directed for the most part towards Kabul, represents less than 10 percent of the donations paid out. The reconstruction teams in the provinces represent fewer than 10,000 men for a population of 20 million rural residents!

    Contrary to preconceptions, the Taliban have a better understanding of what is strategically important. They have understood that the conflict’s center of gravity is the sensitivity of Western public opinion – which they must impress by killing NATO – preferably American – soldiers. Our refusal to incur losses is notorious.

    So we got that going for us. It turns out that when you stop one war half-way through to start another one that drags on for 10 times longer than you thought it would, that first, easy, half-way-through war comes back bigger and badder than ever. So much so that now we will have to re-fight it.

    And most likely do so without the support of Pakistan. I know, I haven’t been writing about that either, but Musharraf is gone. It looks like the assassination of Bhutto is going to lead to Bhutto getting elected (hey, it’s Pakistani politics). Mostly there is disarray there, but a consistent lack of general support for U.S. goals in the region.

    Afghanistan is also fucked for us because of stuff like this.

    KABUL, Afghanistan — A United Nations human rights team has found “convincing evidence” that 90 civilians — among them 60 children — were killed in airstrikes on a village in western Afghanistan on Friday, according to the United Nations mission in Kabul.

    If the assertion proves to be correct, this would almost certainly be the deadliest case of civilian casualties caused by any United States military operation in Afghanistan since 2001.

    The United Nations statement adds pressure to the United States military, which maintains that 25 militants and 5 civilians were killed in the airstrikes, but has ordered an investigation after Afghan officials reported the higher civilian death toll.

    The United Nations team visited the scene and interviewed survivors and local officials and elders, getting a name, age and gender of each person reported killed. The team reported that 15 people had been wounded in the airstrikes.

    I saw some other news reports on this and it looks more like 9 or 10 people got killed. A whole family. Kids, parents, grandparents. The target they wanted wasn’t there. This was a village in sight of the U.S. base in the area. The house had been searched the day before, then the 2,000 lb. bombs. came. And the family disintegrated.

    They quoted some of the survivors as saying that the U.S. was worse than the Russians. Worse than the Russian, can you believe it? They quoted the recent burning of Georgia (Atlanta), which they had just heard about, as proof of the “Amrikaans” barbarity.

    McCain / Palin = Tigh / Roslin

    McCain / Palin = Tigh / Roslin

    McCain / Palin = Tigh / Roslin

    For those of you that didn’t follow it, Battlestar Gallactica was an excellent television program. From what I understand there is still one official episode for the series yet to be aired, but the current “end” of the series was something of a downer. A poster on Fark nailed down the plot precisely, which when compared to picture above, caused a bit of the ole’ lol.

    Drunk Astronaut Quote 2008-09-02 09:46:40 AM
    mythicknight: /by the lords of kobol

    So McCain’s a drunken Cyclon and former terrorist who killed his first wife, and Palin’s a religious whack-job on hallucinogens and is dying of cancer? Keep in mind that Roslin led her people to a dead planet that is a smoking ash from nuclear war too…

    And that’s pretty much how the show ended. And is a bit more evidence for the argument that this election is becoming a joke of epic proportions. The fact that I’m watching Joe Lieberman at the RNC just adds to the hilarity.
    UPDATE: bOING bOING has more on this.  It looks like the conspiracy extends further that I first realized.
    But not only that, they even have a campaign website.   The similarities are eerie.

    Tigh doesn’t know how many homes he owns?
    Fleet shocked that people own homes.

    The opposition has jumped at the opportunity to portray Colonel Tigh as elitist as he stumbled in a recent interview to answer the question on how many homes does he own. The question came out of nowhere, specifically since no one actually owns a home in the Fleet and most people sleep crammed in ship hangers or multiple people to a room. Still the Colonel could not answer the question.


    Laura Roslin Responds to “Beauty Queen” Comments

    Twenty years ago, candidate Laura Roslin won Miss Congeniality and Most Likely to Airlock a Cylon while a contestant in the Miss Caprica City Pageant. Ms. Roslin’s critics look to her days as a pageant participant negatively, citing it as just another reason why she is unqualified to serve as Colonel Tigh’s running mate.

    Great stuff.  Good jorb,