Saturday, November 29, 2008

Blog #64: Winds of Change

There are refreshing winds of change churning up in the Chicago area, winds soon to sweep through a nation near you. We refer of course to the incoming administration of president-elect Barack Obama, whose inauguration on January 20, 2009 will strip the word elect from his present title. The memorable day remains in the future, unfortunately, though there are an awful lot of us who would love to see it moved up to, say, yesterday.

Check this out. The fact is that the president elect is currently struggling for the right to keep on using his Blackberry, to which he seems to be clearly addicted. The AP news story calls it this away: “As for his new life in the White House, Obama said one change he is resisting is having to give up his beloved BlackBerry. A president's e-mail may be subject to public records laws and can be subpoenaed by Congress and the courts. It may also be a security risk for him to carry a traceable cell phone.

“Giving it up,” Obama said, "is a problem." During the campaign, he was often spotted thumbing the device and was known as a bit of a BlackBerry addict. He said he's currently working with the Secret Service, lawyers and White House staff to find a solution which would allow him to continue using it. "I'm negotiating to figure out how can I get information from outside of the ten or 12 people who surround my office in the White House," he said. "Because one of the worst things I think that could happen to a president is losing touch with what people are going through day to day."

Imagine what these past eight years might have been like if we had only had a president intent upon keeping himself in touch with the world outside of his personal bubble, rather than the one we had who attempted to shape the rest of the country and the world to his own warped view of the world. It's the difference between night and day. Could the contrast with the outgoing administration be any greater?
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Speaking of the clean winds churning in Chicago, Daniel Stone writing in Newsweek reports that even Dr. Doom (some people's pet name for Nouriel Roubini, a New York University professor) approves of PE Obama’s initial economics picks but notes that they face grave challenges ahead.

“President-elect Barack Obama's administration's reaction to the current economy would have to be, in his words, "swift and bold." At a press conference Monday in Chicago, he unveiled his economic team, which will be led by Tim Geithner as secretary of the Treasury and Larry Summers as director of the National Economic Council. The two come with unique experience: The former is the president of the New York Federal Reserve, and the latter was secretary of the Treasury in the Clinton administration, before sitting in the president's office at Harvard.

Markets rallied upon word of the appointments, which also included two other senior advisers, Christina Romer (to be chair of the Council of Economic Advisers) and Melody Barnes (to be director of the Domestic Policy Council). But with the extreme fluctuations global markets are currently seeing — Obama and his new appointees will be looking for solutions to both the short-term rockiness and the longer-term economic problems — the president-elect continues to describe the crisis as "historic." Infamously pessimistic economist Nouriel Roubini, a professor at New York University, spoke to NEWSWEEK's Daniel Stone about what wise decisions must be made early on, his thoughts on Obama's economic team, and how they can they stop the bleeding.

NEWSWEEK: What are your thoughts on the team Obama assembled?
Nouriel Roubini: The choices are excellent. Tim Geithner is going to be a pragmatic, thoughtful and great leader for the Treasury. He has experience at the Treasury and the IMF [International Monetary Fund], then the New York Fed. I have great respect for both Geithner as well as Larry Summers. I think both of them in top roles in economics in the administration were good moves. I think very highly of them both.

What are the first things they need to tackle?
N.R.: First one is the fiscal stimulus, because the troubled economy is in a freefall, so we really need to boost aggregate demand, and the sooner and larger the better. The second thing they should do is recapitalize the financial system. Most of the $700 billion is going to be used to recapitalize banks, broker dealers, finance companies and insurance companies. To do it aggressively and fast is going to be important.

Obama is largely powerless for the next two months. What's your outlook from now through January?
N.R.: The lame-duck session of Congress really needs to spend on unemployment benefits, aid to save the local governments and on food stamps. Those things are very short-run and are very important. It's really the most we can do for now.

Your view of the economic future is often a bit less than optimistic. What does Obama's team signal about what could be coming?
N.R.: Look, he wants to get things done, so he's choosing a really terrific team. To me, it says that he's choosing people who have great experience. He's choosing people who are pragmatic and who realize the severity of the national problem we're facing. They're knowledgeable about markets, about the economy and the political process in Washington. These are the very best people he could have chosen. I can't look too far, but it's a very good signal of what he wants to do.
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Here are Bob Woodward views of Bush 43’s intellectual capabilities, as expressed recently on television:

We here at Little Eddy’s blog have decided to celebrate the remaining days of the Bush43 administration by dipping into our vast archives of rants concerning this lamest of all of our presidential ducks, past, present, and particularly those with no future. There follows a few of our choicer tidbits:

Saturday, January 12, 2008. From Blog #19: Peace in the World, or the World in Pieces: Lord Have Mercy, did you read what George McGovern, that old peace monger from the Nixon era, proposed. He must have recently paid a visit to the ghost of fabled goat glands surgeon Dr. John R. Brinkley for he seems to have grown a set of rejuvenated gonads.

{Our original blog lacked an explanation putting the above comment into proper perspective. The 1920's were known for their extravagance, flappers and flaming youth. But if the flame was running a little low Dr. John R. Brinkley had just the thing for all males: he would transplant a few slivers of randy goat gonads into the woeful subject's scrotum and ta-dahh – rejuvenation! With this simple procedure, Dr. Brinkley built himself an empire, and in 1923, he began his infomercials - always laced with Biblical references - over KFKB, the first radio station in Kansas. More than 3,000 letters a day eventually started pouring into little Milford, KS, prompting Brinkley to finance a new post office. By 1929, KFKB had won a gold cup as the most popular radio station in America. Eventually Dr. Brinkley was forced to move to Mexico where he operated a radio station, XER, which started broadcasting with a power of 75,000 watts and eventually grew to 100,000 and more, with a remote studio linked by phone lines to Rosewell Hotel - Brinkley's new headquarters - in Del Rio. XER was not just hours of pseudo-scientific lectures from Dr. B – he brought in stars of country music of the day: the Carter Family, singing cowboys, fiddlers, a Mexican Studio Orchestra and many guests.

Joke of the times: "Q: What's the fastest thing on four legs? A: A goat passing Dr. Brinkley's hospital!" More on the good doctor may be found at:}

But returning to Mr. McGovern’s proposition, this usually quiet spoken minister’s son published an opinion piece in the Outlook section of the Washington Post the other day entitled “Why I Believe Bush-Cheney Must Go. Nixon Was Bad. These Guys Are Worse,” in which he respectfully suggested that Bush-Cheney have committed acts far more impeachable than Richard Nixon ever did, and asks why the current Democratic leadership is so opposed to beginning proceedings against them, noting how the Republicans put together proceedings against Bill Clinton during the waning years of his presidency for a lot less than the high crimes and misdemeanors which Bush-Cheney have committed. Little Eddy hereby offers his own short list of high crimes and misdemeanors off the top of his head: crimes like misleading the country about weapons of mass destruction, running the war in Iraq on the cheap resulting in many casualties, and the widespread torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo in violation of Geneva Conventions, and the list goes merrily on.

Of course impeachment will never happen. Unlike Republicans who seem to love a juicy investigation more than sex or even life itself, and who find lies and slander the spice of their poor, miserable existences (look at the harassing of Bill Clinton during both of his terms, and the lies against John Kerry bellowed by Swift Boat Liars for And check out the multifarious ravings of Ann Coulter.) Democrats are uncomfortable spewing such negative vibes. They would much rather hang out on the sunny side of the street, but unfortunately their majority is too thin, and on most issues the Republicans have closed ranks.

Still the positive thing about McGovern’s suggestion is the joining of both Bush and Cheney in the indictment, it would never do to have Bush impeached alone thereby leaving a fox like Cheney in charge of our national chicken coop. The other interesting possibility should the dems ever have the audacity to make it happen would be the person to whom the Presidency would be handed. As best we remember from our high school Civics class the third in line of succession is the Speaker of the House of Representatives, a position presently held by one Nancy Pelosi. Wouldn’t that sell one helluva lot of Alka Seltzers to those of a Republican persuasion?
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Saturday July 5, 2008 Blog #43: A creative juices overflow:

Our creative juices have been overflowing of late, and to give them a proper direction we have created the following television commercial which we hereby donate to the John McCain presidential campaign without asking a nickel of compensation. (And believe me it’s worth every penny.)

Scene: Fully armed American soldiers storming a residence in Iraq.
Narrator: We here at the Bush administration know that wars can get quite boring after four or five years, even the ones we start, and especially those which we aren't winning. (Don’t you dare translate not winning into losing. The American military does not lose!) You will be interested to know that our president feels the pain of your boredom, night after night seeing the same old soldiers storming the same old buildings.

Scene: More soldiers storming more Iraqi residences.

Narrator: Now we’re not altogether dumb here in the Bush administration, in spite of what some of you nasty left wing bloggers might infer. We know we sold you a bill of goods back in 2003, a bill of goods which allowed us to invade the independent nation of Iraq without causing John and Suzy Q. Public to get their entrails all tied up in knots. And we also know that as of now most of you know that what we sold you back then was a fictitious bill of goods.

Scene: Soldiers storming building dissolves into a tranquil nighttime scene. A pastoral scene of peace and beauty, palm trees gently shimmering in the breeze, their swaying illuminated by moonlight.

Narrator: However, that was then, and this is now. Our new warnings come from very special intelligence we have obtained from deep in the heart of Iran. Intelligence which is true and accurate, honest injun! Did you know that Iran is working night and day to develop nuclear weapons? I realize that they have given testimony that they are pursuing only peaceful uses of atomic energy, and our government’s own intelligence sources reported that Iran had given up nuclear weapon development back in 2003. Well, if you believe that my friends I have an administration in Washington which I would be happy to sell you. Cheap. (We might even pay you to take it.)

Scene: The darkness of the night is suddenly lit up by a gigantic flash, the ensuing firestorm creating a gigantic mushroom cloud which fills the screen.

Narrator: However, you must take claims like Iran is only developing atomic energy for peaceful purposes with the gargantuan grain of salt it deserves. For in the Iranian language of “death to all Americans and Israelites”, the word do most certainly means don’t, and won’t of course really means will. Our president knows this, and he is most anxious for you to join him in this knowledge, so that he might spice up your evening newscasts with nightly freshly taken Pentagon footage of myriad streams of bombs leaving the gaping bomb-bays of our noble flying machines on their way to their new homes deep in the soil of Iran.

Scene: Gaping bomb-bays show streams of bombs in perfect alignment as they fall to the land below. Far below the series of resulting explosions looks tiny in the great distance as they strike the ground.

Narrator: That’s all there is to it, my friends. Not one word out of any of you is guaranteed to bring nightly scenes of destruction like this to your high definition television screens like you won’t believe, and it will also help ensure John McCain’s election to the presidency, which will mean the enthusiastic continuation of all of those middle east policies you have grown to know and love during these last eight Bush years.

Scene: shifts to an Iranian road lined with women and children shedding tears of joy and holding flowers and waving to the unending line of oncoming Humvee vehicles bearing the troops of the forthcoming American occupation.

Narrator: And there in a nutshell you have the story of president Bush’s coming Iranian invasion, the victory of which we can assure you will come a lot quicker than our Iraqi victory has. And ladies and gentlemen, if you can believe this may we offer you a John McCain presidency for your careful consideration?
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Well friends, I really hate to bring this up at a time like this, so soon after our country’s birthday, but I am afraid that as a nation we are in what a classical mind might term DEEP EXCRETA! We’re talking mile high stools here, if you get my drift. Just be careful not to stand downwind from one.

As I see it our problem is that we happen to have this president who has the absolute lowest rating in the entire history of presidential popularity polling, and who from all appearances could care less. However as he nears the blessed end of his highly delusional reign word is out that he is finally becoming concerned with his legacy. It's about goddam time! It’s a damn shame he didn’t think about this when he needlessly invaded Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 2003. Or in the ensuing five years as our troops’ monthly losses have continued to pile up. Just like most of the rest of us W. seems to prefer waiting until the last minute to worry about his legacy, and now that it is finally creeping up on him he has evidently acquired a brand new fixation. It seems Iraq and Afghanistan are no longer enough, his newest crusade is to prevent Iran’s dabbling in nuclear weapons by militarily engaging them, thereby saving Israel and the free world from extinction. He views that as his legacy. Yes, you read that right. Two’s not enough, three’s company, right?

Well, not that he gives a tinker’s damn, but how would you grade the George W. Bush administration? Would you grade it high, in the middle, or down the tubes? And what one word would you pick that sums up the Bush legacy? My own personal grade of the Bush 7 years and counting would be less than one grade point out of ten. Maybe 50% of a point, 75% at best. And the one word I would choose to characterize the Bush years would be incompetence. Massive unrepentant incompetence. No matter what they tried, pursuing Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq, or reacting to Hurricane Katrina, this administration has managed to consistently fail in truly spectacular fashion. In fact the only thing they have succeeded in doing is running up what is undoubtedly the largest debt in our nation’s history. In my eighty plus years of life I have yet to observe a government attempt to reach higher and fail more miserably than this one. Even Richard Nixon was able to attempt to somewhat balance his negatives with a level of competence that saw him through until the Watergate thing opened its toxic can of worms.

Republicans tried to impeach Bill Clinton over a small, personal moral failing (a failing which I believe just about any breathing male of our species would easily fall prey to), but in the case of Bush there is a wealth of real impeachable material. Manipulation of intelligence reporting on Iraq weaponry, implying there were WMD when there were none, pulling the inspectors out of Iraq before they could ascertain that Iraq was indeed free of WMD (they didn’t want the inspectors to succeed in not finding WMD because they wanted to invade), the push to invade in spite of the United States' long standing reluctance to invade a country that was of absolutely no threat to us, the stacking of the Justice Department with Bush political loyalists, the torture and mistreatment of prisoners of war ignoring the Geneva Conventions, and finally the hitherto unprecedented indifference to the suffering of our own American citizens who were the victims of the fury of Hurricane Katrina. The list is a long one, and these are true high crimes and misdemeanors against our citizenry, but as we said the Democratic spine is lamentably weak. Unlike their Republican counterparts Democrats seem to have no stomach for the negatives of impeachment. However, as the curtain is pulled back on the remaining days of the administration of the Bush the late Molly Ivins liked to refer to as Shrub, one wonders whether Democrats should be ingesting some spine enhancing beverage. For there seems to be a dark cloud hovering over our immediate horizon.

In spite of our own intelligence reporting that Iran had quit pursuing atomic weaponry back in 2003, our dear, thrice blessed George W. seems to be currently fixated on Iran’s possible interest in the development of nuclear weapons. If you have the money rush right out and buy the current issue of The New Yorker magazine. If you don’t have the money you can google the article on your computer. It is essential reading, and pasting the URL below into your browser’s destination window will bring it to your waiting eyeballs:

According to author Seymour M. Hersch, “Bush and others in the White House view him (Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) as a potential Adolf Hitler,” a former senior intelligence official said. “That’s the name they’re using. They say, ‘Will Iran get a strategic weapon and threaten another world war?’ ”

“One former defense official, who still deals with sensitive issues for the Bush Administration, told me that the military planning was premised on a belief that “a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government.” He added, “I was shocked when I heard it, and asked myself, ‘What are they smoking?’ ”

“This is much more than a nuclear issue,” one high-ranking diplomat told me in Vienna,” reports Hersch in the article. “That’s just a rallying point, and there is still time to fix it. But the Administration believes it cannot be fixed unless they control the hearts and minds of Iran. The real issue is who is going to control the Middle East and its oil in the next ten years.”

Also according to Hersch’s piece, “A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was “absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb” if it is not stopped. He said that the President believes that he must do “what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,” and “that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.”

OMG! What in god’s name are they smoking in the west wing? Does Bush really think his legacy is going to depend on his starting up of yet a third middle east conflagration? I wonder where he got that notion? It sounds like some of that wonderful old Rove warped thinking shining forth. Could it be that because Rove managed to get Bush reelected in 2004 by the skin of his teefy-teef-teef, under the premise that the nation should not change horses midstream in a war, could Bush still be clinging to the fiction that war somehow strengthens his position? And therefore his legacy? Is it really true that because Americans are getting tired of the news from Iraq, that maybe they would respond more favorably to news of a brand new inferno across the border in Iran?

Would some denizen of the west wing please step forward and inform his most Delusional Excellency that his legacy is not hanging on the opening of yet another front in the middle east. Is our military not stretched more than enough being engaged on two fronts? The fact is they are so stretched that they require civilians to drive their trucks, prepare their meals, and do their laundry, and all of that of course at many times the expense of what those same services would be costing if the military was handling them for themselves.

Now you’re talking a corporate dream war. The very rich excused from paying their share of the cost of the war. The rest of us paying through the nose for the enrichment of corporate America, and most particularly the part of it near and dear to the heart of our beloved president of vice, Dick Cheney. We're talking war fought in Cheney heaven, with American corporations preparing meals, doing the laundry, and delivering supplies for our troops at many times the expense that would have been incurred had the army met its own needs. And now our soon (but alas not soon enough) to be erstwhile leader wants to broaden the fighting front. How does the thought of George W. Bush rescuing the middle east from Iranian nuclear weapons strike you? Does that thought make you rest easy, sleep well, and calm your nerves better than half a dozen valiums? Or what?
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Speaking of interesting revelations, guess where both the CIA and military inquisitors at Guantánamo Bay got those clever ideas for the unorthodox interrogation techniques which have subsequently brought much of the world's shame upon our government? Methods that have long been considered torture by most of the civilized world, but which were just what the doctor ordered in the world of Bush/Cheney. Where did all of those hot ideas for prying information out of captives come from anyway? Well, the trainers who came to the base on the island of Cuba may or may not have known the origins of the techniques they taught. What the trainers did not say, and may not have known, was that their chart had been copied verbatim from a 1957 Air Force study of Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to obtain confessions, many of them later proving to be false, from American prisoners.

Isn’t that lovely? How proud must we be of those astute Bush/Cheneyites who managed to cop such neat interrogation ideas from such a truly historic source, Chinese Communist wartime interrogation techniques. After all they were time tested, right? By our own troops back in the Korean War? Positively ingenious! Makes us proud enough to bust a gut, don’t it? Well, somebody’s gut, anyway. Now that, my friends, is real leadership! Republican leadership with a capital T for Torture!
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And so runs the turkey on this Thanksgiving week's “golden oldies” in Little Eddy's never ending celebration of the winding down of the Bush 43 presidency. Fortunately exposure in the media brought any administration plans to extend the war to Iran resulted in its abandonment. And the subsequent election of president-elect Obama meant the ultimate failure of the tactics of fear and loathing in a political campaign. Or at least in this year's election. And on the happy note of the Good Guys winning big, we invite you to join us again next week for yet another installment of this compelling saga of presidential mismanagement and irresponsibility. And in the mean time, in the words of that beloved extra terrestrial John McLaughlin, “bye bye!”

The Real Little Eddy

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