Wednesday, December 31, 2008
by Tiffany Ten Eyck
President George Bush announced December 19 a $17.4 billion dollar bridge loan for General Motors and Chrysler, a day after it hinted that the companies could be forced into "orderly" bankruptcy.
Auto workers who advocated for short-term aid to the auto industry's crisis bristled at the conditions attached to the loan. The Bush administration's requirements mirror demands from anti-union Republicans who torpedoed Congressional action last week. They would decimate UAW contracts and place retiree health care funds into company stock.
The plan hinges on a demand that UAW auto worker wages and work rules become "competitive" with wages and work rules in foreign-owned, non-union transplant factories in the South.
Lost in the discussion, auto workers said, is any recognition that wages and benefits are less than 10 percent of the cost of a vehicle and can't pull the Big 3 back to profitability.
"We've already taken concessions to help the industry become viable," said Brett Talbot-Ward, a UAW Local 1700 member who works at Chrysler's Sterling Heights Assembly plant. "Why are they asking for more from us when there are all sorts of other costs in the vehicle production process, much less the CEO pay, that haven't even factored into the debate?"
by MARK STEEL
When you read the statements from Israeli and U.S. politicians, and try to match them with the pictures of devastation, there seems to be only one explanation. They must have one of those conditions, called something like "Visual-Carnage-Responsibility-Back-To-Front-Upside-Down-Massacre-Disorder."
For example, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, having observed that more than 300 Gazans were dead, said: "We are deeply concerned about the escalating violence. We strongly condemn the attacks on Israel and hold Hamas responsible."
Someone should ask her to comment on teenage knife-crime, to see if she'd say: "I strongly condemn the people who've been stabbed, and until they abandon their practice of wandering around clutching their sides and bleeding, there is no hope for peace."
Deepening economic strife in the US could lead to civil unrest and violence that would require military intervention, warns a new report from the US Army War College.
"Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security," writes Nathan Freier, a 20-year Army veteran and visiting professor at the college.
A copy of the 44-page report, "Known Unknowns: Unconventional 'Strategic Shocks' in Defense Strategy Development," can be downloaded here. Freier notes that his report expresses only his own views and does not represent US policy, but it's certain that his recommendations have come before at least some Defense Department officials.
The author warns potential causes for such civil unrest could include another terrorist attack, "unforeseen economic collapse, loss of functioning political and legal order, purposeful domestic resistance or insurgency, pervasive public health emergencies, and catastrophic natural and human disasters." The situation could deteriorate to the point where military intervention was required, he argues.
By David Bruce
• Kathleen Annie Pannonica Rothschild, wife of Baron Jules de Koenigswarter, was an unlikely patron of jazz musicians. She did such things as buy their groceries, pay their rent, give them rides in her silver Bentley to their gigs, and even invite them when things were bad to share her home. She said, "I could see that an awful lot of help was needed. I couldn't just stand there and watch."
Jazz great Charlie Parker even died in her home. A doctor told him that he needed to rest, so Nina invited him to stay with her. Three days later, as they were watching TV together, he slumped and died.
She was white, and the jazz musicians were mainly black, and when she was riding in her silver Bentley with jazz great Thelonious Monk, a police officer stopped them, searched the Bentley, and found some marijuana — a small amount. The marijuana belonged to Thelonious, but Nina said that it was hers because she knew that Thelonious would not be able to get work if he were convicted of marijuana possession. She spent a night in jail, but her three-year jail sentence was fortunately overturned. The jazz musicians paid her back by naming compositions after her. Thelonious wrote "Pannonica," and other jazz musicians wrote such compositions as "Blues for Nica," "Nica Steps Out," "Nica's Dream," "Nica's Tempo," and many more.
• Long ago, Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski decided to go to medical school despite having a wife and two children (and a third child on its way). He managed to pay the bills, including tuition, for a while, but in the middle of his third year, he was no longer able to do so. In addition, he was deep in debt. However, his wife called him and told him that comedian Danny Thomas had pledged $4,000 to help him finish medical school. Mr. Thomas had met with officials from Marquette University, and they had told him about a Rabbi who needed financial help to get through medical school. Mr. Thomas asked, "How much money does he need?" Hearing the answer—$4,000—he said, "Tell your Rabbi he's got it." Mr. Thomas is a Christian, but he generously helped a Jew. Rabbi Abraham says, "Who would think of a less likely combination: a Lebanese Christian and a Chassidic rabbi?"
From the "Pick-Up Artist" to "Joe The Plumber," find out who really sucked at life in 2008.
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich likes to sell things. Like Senate seats once belonging to the president elect. We have a feeling Rod's next job will involve him putting products on clearance, so he'll be right at home. And P.S. -- nice hair, asshole.
Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher aka Joe The Plumber let Sarah Palin use him as a pawn in hers and McCain's campaign, and then in an all-too transparent move, votes Obama. Totally effective.
The St. Paul Police. Journalists were arrested and local residents were abused when the boys in blue took to the streets during the Republican National Convention. But at least the delegates didn't have to rub up against the commoners.
If Norm Coleman wins reelection in Minnesota, blame Lucas Davenport. The Senate recount got a dose of idiot when election officials discovered a ballot for "Lizard People" during the hand count. Instead of wallowing in shame for wasting his time and his vote, Davenport decided to get his 10 seconds of fame by emailing Minnesota Public Radio to confess.
Lindsay Lohan's dad, Michael Lohan, will mostly certainly win father of the year in 2008. He recently started a blog that he states is "not about Lindsay," but totally is. When not ranting on his celebrity daughter he spends his time quoting the Bible.
QUESTION: How do you explain your low approval rating?
CHENEY: I don't have any idea. I don't follow the polls.
My experience has been over the years that if you govern based upon poll numbers, upon trying to improve your overall poll ratings, people I've encountered who do that are people who won't make tough decisions. And the job the president has and those who advise him is to make those basic fundamental decisions for the nation that nobody else is authorized or able to make.
In addition to his well-documented abuse of power and disregard for the rule of law, Cheney's public disapproval ratings might be explained in part by his own personal disregard for the public. When told that two-thirds of Americans disapproved of the Iraq war, Cheney responded "so?," adding that he didn't care what the American people thought.
by Nick Cargo
Nestled in recently declassified transcripts of former Nixon Secretary of State Henry Kissinger's telephone conversations is an exchange between him and counter-culture icon, peace activist and poet Allen Ginsberg on how to end the Vietnam war.
One joking suggestion from Ginsberg: The duo appear nude on television.
"They don't make gay heroes they way they used to before the movement and community underwent professionalization," said blogger Michael Petrelis. "I'm sorry we no longer have queer visionaries like Ginsberg communicating with power-brokers at the top level of American society, and challenging them like this."
The following is a transcript of the call, which took place on April 23, 1971.
G: I am calling at the request partly of Senator McCarthy. Senator McCarthy told me to, call you. My idea is to arrange a conversation between yourself, [CIA Director Richard] Helms, McCarthy and maybe even Nixon with Rennie Davis, Dillinger and Abernathy. It can be done at any time. They were willing to show their peaceableness and perhaps you don't know how to get out of the war and who by private meeting --
K: I have been meeting with many members representing peace groups but what I find is that they have always then rushed right out and given the contents of the meeting to the press. But I like to do this, not just for the enlightment of the people I talk to but to at least give me a feel of what concerned people think. I would be prepared to meet in principle on a private basis.
G: That's true but it is a question of personal delicacy. In dealing with human conscienceness, it is difficult to set limits.
K: You can't set limits to human conscienceness but --
G: We can try to come to some kind of understanding.
K: You can set limits to what you say publicly.
G: It would be even more funny to do it on television.
G: It would be even more useful if we could do it naked on television.
K: (Laughter )
G: It might be too ______ but under some kind of circumstances. What shall I tell them that would be encouraging?
K: That I would think about it very seriously.
G: Good deal.
The Bush administration entered the 21st century with 20th-century thinking about the threats it faced. The incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama promises to bring fresh solutions to the unique challenges of our time. By shedding dated notions, the United States could rediscover the imperative of acting in concert with others to build global institutions that strengthen our security and foster our values.
WASHINGTON — Social and political epochs rarely end precisely on schedules provided by calendars. Many historians date the end of Europe's 19th century to 1914 and the outbreak of World War I. What we call "The Sixties" in the United States, with its ethos of reform and protest, ended with Richard Nixon's landslide re-election in 1972 and the winding down of the Vietnam War.
In the same way, the outcome of this year's election means that 2009 will, finally, mark the beginning of the 21st century.
It comes as we face parlous economic conditions and a slew of new threats. Nonetheless, we should view this as an opportunity to embrace the words of one of Barack Obama's favorite presidents. "As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew," Abraham Lincoln declared in 1862. "We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country."
For all the chatter about the world changing decisively after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, our reaction to the attacks was conditioned by 20th-century assumptions.
Instead of seeing the spasm of violence as representing something entirely new, President Bush's administration, aided by thinkers allied to its approach, resolutely forced events into the interpretive boxes fashioned in previous decades.
A band of reactionary terrorists whose actions reflected the weakness of their position were raised up to world-historical status. They were "totalitarians," which suggested they represented a threat as powerful as those embodied by Hitler and Stalin. They were "Islamofascists," a sobriquet that credited them with battling under the banner of a coherent, modern ideology when in fact they are inspired by a ragtag jumble of ideas rooted in the medieval past.
Osama bin Laden's commitment to reviving the power of the old Islamic "Caliphate" was taken to be as real as the danger of Soviet troops pouring across the old East German border or Hitler occupying Czechoslovakia. The new "global war on terror" was endowed with the same coherence as the old Cold War.
It was a dangerous and self-defeating set of illusions.
by Jane Kay
The federal government is taking steps that may open California's fabled coast to oil drilling in as few as three years, an action that could place dozens of platforms off the Sonoma, Mendocino and Humboldt coasts, and raises the specter of spills, air pollution and increased ship traffic into San Francisco Bay.
Citing 'Change' Over 'Experience,' Angry Electorate Votes to Replace God
'3 A.M. Phone Call Ad' Wins Hillary the Presidency, of OnStar
Baseball Decrees the Steroid Age the 'Shrunken Ball Era'
The Legend of Fred Thompson: A Politician Turned Actor Who Couldn't Play a Candidate on TV
Accused in Hate Crime Plea Bargains Down to 'Spite'
Famed Photog Annie Leibovitz Uses Negatives to Capture McCain's Campaign
Iraq Celebrates 5th Anniversary by Re-Gifting Democracy
Rudy Giuliani Reveals His Feet Are Two Different Sizes: a '9′ and an '11′
Co-Founder of Slinky Dies, After Falling Down Steps
Pollsters Admit Flaws in Methodology: 'Exit Polls' Conducted at Entrances
Sarah Palin Touts Her Experience as a 'Closet Organizer'
Satirists Riot Over The New Yorker Obama Cartoon
Americans Strongly Believe in God, But One That Only Controls the Outcome of Sporting Events
Due to Snowstorm, Premature Ejaculation Clinic Operating on a 5 Minute Delay
Huckabee Declares He's Ready to be President From 'Day Six,' Literally
Spitzer Scandal Spurs Call for Reform: Public Financing of Hookers
Christian Right Condemns Gay Adoption of Highways
FOX News Blames Obama for Nigerian Spam
Time-Life Issues the Definitive Collection of 'Bush Scandals'
Sarah Palin Establishes a New 'Crack in the WOODEN FLOOR'
Stood Up by 'Joe the Plumber,' McCain Campaigns with 'Janitor in a Drum'
Iraqi Shoe Thrower Receives a 'Seinfeld Sentence' — Has to Serve as Bush's Butler (and Shoeshine man)
A Sign of the Times: E-Trade Baby Leaps to Death From His Crib
McCain Claims 'Multiple House Story' Helps Him With Mormons
Sarah Palin Takes Phone Call from Napoleon Bonaparte
U.S. Finally Greeted as Liberators, by Wall Street
Lesson Learned: Auto Executives Make Return Trip to D.C. in Flintstones Car
An Ominous Sign for the GOP: Even Mars Turns Blue
Bush's 'Mission Accomplished' Finally Realized: Iraq in Better Shape Than U.S.
Sarah Palin's Greatest 'Gift' to America: Ruining Thanksgiving
Treasury Gives Bailout to Sperm Banks, to Inject Liquidity Into Frozen Markets
Blagojevic, Preparing for the Worst, Plans to Sell His Own 'Seat' in Jail
Conspiracy Theory of 'Second Shoe Thrower' Raised by Abdul-liver Stone
Bernie Madoff's Fraud Reaches Beyond Jewish Community: Ran Pyramid Scheme in Egypt
House of Tudor Lays Claim to Vacant NY Senate Seat
Cheney Voices Concern Biden Will Diminish the 'Vice' in Vice Presidency
GOP Realizes Worst Nightmare: Black Man Elected to Lead U.S. Out of The Dark Ages