Sunday, August 31, 2008

McCain's Selection For VP Is An Insult To Female Supporters Of Hillary Clinton

By Manifesto Joe

I held off a couple of days commenting on McCain's selection of a prospective VP. I wanted to see reactions. Now, I think it's important to note what a pathetically lame insult this is to erstwhile female supporters of Hillary Clinton. It's as though McCain and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin thought that, in order to lure female voters who had backed Clinton, having a running mate with a vagina would be enough.

I truly hate to break this to McCain and the Grand Old Putzes, but the majority of women who voted for Hillary have brains as well as vaginas. Most of them are hip to the fact that Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin are galaxies apart on the issues, and also highly distinguishable in terms of experience.

Courtesy of, here's a rundown of Palin's limited background, and her views on key issues:

She was elected Alaska 's governor a little over a year and a half ago. Her previous office was mayor of Wasilla, a small town outside Anchorage. She has no foreign policy experience.1

Palin is strongly anti-choice, opposing abortion even in the case of rape or incest.2

She supported right-wing extremist Pat Buchanan for president in 2000. 3

Palin thinks creationism should be taught in public schools.4

She's doesn't think humans are the cause of climate change.5

She's solidly in line with John McCain's "Big Oil first" energy policy. She's pushed hard for more oil drilling and says renewables won't be ready for years. She also sued the Bush administration for listing polar bears as an endangered species—she was worried it would interfere with more oil drilling in Alaska.6
How closely did John McCain vet this choice? He met Sarah Palin once at a meeting. They spoke a second time, last Sunday, when he called her about being vice-president. Then he offered her the position.7

Here's the link if you want to check out the footnote sources.

Since we've touched on McCain's bizarre lack of vetting of his vice presidential choice, let's not give short shrift to "Troopergate." Surely the McCain campaign, had it been paying serious attention, would have known that this has ballooned into a $100,000 investigation in a small state. It's a problem that may not be fatal for Palin, but those Grand Old Putzes certainly could have done without this grief from the first female standard-bearer on the top ticket.

Washington Post writers James V. Grimaldi and Kimberly Kindy seemed to cover this matter pretty well, so I'll throw in the link. Suffice it to say, it looks like the Palin family got it in for an ex-brother-in-law, perhaps actually going to the length of firing a good state official because he wouldn't go along with the vengeance. Granted, this state trooper could be a man with problems, but evidence seems to point to others who may also have personal issues. ...

Back to the thesis, I noticed that the very morning of the announcement, Palin had the chutzpah to mention Geraldine Ferraro, and Hillary, as forerunners toward piercing that nasty, testosterone-stained glass ceiling. This was from someone who has the most far-right position on abortion rights imaginable.

I won't repeat any of the other problems, but I'll offer a passage regarding Palin's environmental views. This is from Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund:

WASHINGTON-- Senator John McCain just announced his choice for running mate: Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska. To follow is a statement by Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund:

“Senator McCain’s choice for a running mate is beyond belief. By choosing Sarah Palin, McCain has clearly made a decision to continue the Bush legacy of destructive environmental policies.

“Sarah Palin, whose husband works for BP (formerly British Petroleum), has repeatedly put special interests first when it comes to the environment. In her scant two years as governor, she has lobbied aggressively to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, pushed for more drilling off of Alaska’s coasts, and put special interests above science. Ms. Palin has made it clear through her actions that she is unwilling to do even as much as the Bush administration to address the impacts of global warming. Her most recent effort has been to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the polar bear from the endangered species list, putting Big Oil before sound science. As unbelievable as this may sound, this actually puts her to the right of the Bush administration.

“This is Senator McCain’s first significant choice in building his executive team and it’s a bad one. It has to raise serious doubts in the minds of voters about John McCain’s commitment to conservation, to addressing the impacts of global warming and to ensuring our country ends its dependency on oil.”

I hope almost all of Hillary's female supporters will see this right-wing pandering for what it is -- a contemptible insult.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Yeah, Joe Biden Is A Garulous Hack, But Obama Made A Pragmatic Choice For A Vice Presidential Running Mate

By Manifesto Joe

Yeah, I know -- it's been leaked that Obama's VP pick is Joe Biden. To be more formal, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., D-Delaware -- one of those guys who seems to be on an A-Plus-Steroids List for appearances on the Sunday-morning talking-heads shows. He of interminable speeches. The ultimate establishment Democrat.

But I would dare argue that Biden is pretty much what Obama needs. Obama is going to be attacked ruthlessly on a number of fronts: Two of them will be general experience, and foreign policy experience. Whatever drawbacks there are to Biden, he unquestionably brings both qualifications to the table.

Barack Obama can't get elected president being Don Quixote, and he doesn't need Sancho Panza as a running mate. Biden has some baggage, but Sancho Panza, he's not.

Here's the AP report.

If there was ever a time when Americans who really care about their future are going to rally behind a ticket -- it's now. Joe for Veep -- I'll even put up with the endless speeches.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Feces-Tainted Jalapenos? Somebody Git A Rope! FDA Reform, Now!

By Manifesto Joe

As one who leans left politically on notoriously right-wing turf, I've usually been something of an outsider in my home state of Texas. But Texan cultural mores, at least the better ones, stick with us natives. And one of the things I would cry bitter tears at having to part with would be the jalapeno pepper.

And it makes my South Texican blood simmer to learn that, for months before the recent salmonella outbreak, federal officials at the Mexican border were turning away fetid, contaminated shipments of fresh and dried chile peppers without unusual concern. These bozos, despite their reduced numbers, could and should have known that many such shipments were getting through, and that the resulting pico de gallo, chili powder and fresh jalapeno slices would threaten people's health.

At first the illnesses were blamed on tomatoes. Later, cilantro was mentioned. Finally, the outbreak was reportedly traced to two farms in Mexico where jalapenos and other chile peppers were grown for export.

With the ingredients we have so far, just add fresh onion and lime juice, and you've got the popular and usually healthful condiment called pico de gallo. Goes great with any style of beans, or with Spanish rice. And a plate of sizzling fajitas just wouldn't be the same without it.

Now, because of the negligence of those who are supposed to be watching out for our food safety -- not to mention the foolhardiness of certain free-trade agreements -- fans of Tex-Mex have to think twice, or thrice, before savoring pico de gallo or many other styles of chiles.

Yes, I realize there are hungry people all over the world who couldn't care less about chiles. But let's not digress. It isn't just about hot peppers. Americans, in the era after the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, used to be able to trust much more in the wholesomeness of our food supply. Now, because of misguided economics, minimalist views of government and just plain greed, we cannot.

Predictably, deep cuts in FDA food safety and field staffers have been critical in this failure of government oversight. Because the reduced number of inspectors are overwhelmed, very little imported produce is turned away. That's not just hot chiles.

Here's the link to the CBS News online report about this continuing outrage.

I didn't grow up in a family of chileheads, so my initiation to the Texican Fraternity of the Holy Jalapeno was gradual. As a teen, I made the mistake a couple of times of trying to eat a pickled jalapeno neat. I wouldn't think anything about doing that now, but that's after 30-plus years of building tolerance for the heat. Back then, a Hispanic friend of mine managed to suppress laughter long enough to explain to my gringo ass that these are meant to be eaten with something, a small bite at a time, like with a sandwich or a burrito.

By the time I was 30 or so, I had graduated to the fresh, crisp ones. Muy caliente, y mas picoso!

But now, I can't trust in the safety of them, damn it. And, Texans of all ethnic backgrounds should be pissed. I've eaten in Vietnamese restaurants, too, and when you order the traditional noodle soups, fresh jalapeno slices are on the side.

We Americans, not just Texans, need to do something about this food debacle. Here's a link to a site at that petitions Congress.

Texicans, and Americans -- when it comes to food safety, it's time to turn up the heat on our lawmakers.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

More Evidence U.S. Media Are In Stunning Decadence: The Bigfoot Scam

By Manifesto Joe

Looks like a couple of Billy Carter types from Georgia (that's our Georgia, pronounced Jaw-juh) pulled off an embarrassing hustle on American news media. The frozen "Bigfoot" body, of which the ballcap-clad rubes were showing photos, turned out to be a rubber/fake-hair Halloween costume.

Those hayseeds certainly got a lot of publicity out of this, and I'd say it teaches an important lesson.

Think for a moment about how moronic this was. We're in a presidential election year; we're watching an international crisis between nuclear-armed Russia and neighboring Georgia (that's their Georgia, pronounced the proper way); the U.S. economy is in a slow but steady meltdown; evidence of global environmental crisis looms everywhere; we have a rogue government that is chopping, not whittling, away at privacy and civil liberties; and Americans are losing their homes at a record pace.

And yet, these two scheming shitkickers can command lead-story attention from major news media across the country?

Paris Hilton, where are you when you're needed? Brangelina, I think your twins are just totally awesome, the cutest. Nancy Grace, please spew more bile in my direction! The bogus Bigfoot is now definitely yesterday's news ... until the MSM do the lemming act yet again over the next little manufactured enthusiasm.

A dictionary definition of decadence, in terms of culture, is the complete triumph of style over substance. I thought we in America had already seen that 30 years ago. Shockingly, in the Age of Il Doofus, it can indeed get worse. And it is.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Thanks To Bush, U.S. Has Little Moral Authority To Lecture Russia Now

By Manifesto Joe

Morally, it was easier, before Bush. The U.S. never exactly had a spotless record on international (or domestic) aggression, but there were usually ample rationalizations to which one could point. In 2008, there are few rationalizations left, so it sounds ludicrous for American officials to try to scold Russia over the invasion of neighboring Georgia.

Until Il Doofus and the Neocons engineered the invasion of Iraq in 2003, there were usually at least some convoluted reasons trotted out as to why the U.S. did certain unsavory things, and the reasons even held up as folklore. (Yes, I know there are still plenty of morons who think Saddam Hussein was behind the 9-11 attacks, but for now let's confine the debate to participants who can actually think.)

Let's review some history. War with Spain in 1898 was supposed to have been precipitated in part by the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine, though in hindsight it's far-fetched that Spain had anything to do with that. Cuba was very near, and home to many U.S. interests, so with an insurrection there was a great opportunity to kick Spaniard ass and steal some colonies. We made a casino/plantation/whorehouse out of Cuba for 60 years, and killed a million Filipinos while subjugating their country.

Later, our Marines were in Nicaragua so many times, chasing Sandino and his ilk around, that they should have just renamed the place Camp Lejeune South. We violated sovereign territory down that direction as often as United Fruit Co. could think of a reason.

There are those who think of the Vietnam War as a flat-out invasion of Vietnam by the U.S. The rationale was, of course, that it was part of the larger Cold War against communism. That was the argument that die-hards still cling to today -- the reason it was supposed to be OK to prop up a succession of puppet autocracies in the south, doggedly pursue a war that killed some 3 million Vietnamese, poison the countryside for generations and divide our own country for -- yes, generations. We wuz a-fightin' common-ism.

Let's see -- there were CIA-engineered or CIA-aided regime changes in countries like Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Chile (1973) and others. There were invasions of Panama, Grenada, Cambodia, Laos ...

So far, I'm just hitting "high" points that go back to 1898. It goes back further. There was a war with Mexico that made it possible for me and my forebears to reside in this paradise of the Lone Star State, under American protection. And then, there were those pesky Comanches who once lived just about where I sit, long before Hernando Cortes was a gleam in his daddy's eye. You generally have to drive up to Lawton, Oklahoma to see a live Comanche now, and they look pretty damned depressed, what's left of them.

Not to belabor this -- but the U.S. really didn't have all that damn much moral authority on the world stage B.B. (Before Bush) Arguably, we had our own holocausts, our own wars of conquest, our own slaughters and subjugation of peoples. I won't even start on slavery.

But, at certain points in the 20th century, America seemed to stand tall. We led the alliance that defeated German Nazism, and also Japanese and Italian fascism. The folly of Vietnam aside, we led a very long fight against Stalinist communism in an eerie new kind of war, and won. After a century of post-slavery Jim Crow, we reformed this society's racist heritage to such an extent that our next president may be a man of mixed race. There is much to be proud of here.

A lot has changed since 2003. When Il Doofus and his accomplices manufactured reasons for an invasion of Iraq, they all but destroyed what was left of U.S. moral authority on the world stage. A lot of people recalled that Saddam Hussein was our ally in the '80s, and that we even supplied him with the WMDs he used on the Kurds. Just what made Saddam so alarmingly evil to us, 15 years after? Perhaps it was all that oil he was sitting on, and that we couldn't get to as long as he was there.

That was an invasion of a sovereign nation, albeit a dictatorship, with flimsy rationale that have been discredited and perhaps even exposed as deliberate lies. About a million people and counting have died as a direct result, and the number of refugees can't be accurately estimated.

Now, George W. Bush musters enough chutzpah to say something like, "Russia has invaded a sovereign neighboring state and threatens a democratic government elected by its people."

First, one could question whether the latter part of that sentence even describes the contemporary United States. But given the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the continued U.S. occupation, can a sane, reasonably informed person think that most of the world even begins to take him seriously?

One thing is certain: Vladimir Putin and his puppet successor as Russian prez do not. I've been convinced for years that Putin and his wife tell Bush jokes in private. Just imagine what the jesting is like now.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Turd Blossom Special: Courtesy Of Harry Shearer And Blogger Cranky Daze

Here's a link to a recently released music video by comic genius Harry Shearer, called Turd Blossom Special. Bet you can't guess whom it's about. And I highly recommend Cranky's blog, which is on my link list. -- MJ

Friday, August 1, 2008

Let's Talk More About 'Surges'

By Manifesto Joe

Ve haf von ze var?

That seems what the most obedient of the MSM would have the masses believe about Iraq. But it also seems as though we've heard such pronouncements before -- about a place called Afghanistan.

The Independent (U.K) reports that:

Violence in Afghanistan has reached record highs, with unprecedented numbers of civilian casualties and terror attacks spreading into areas once thought safe, a coalition of charities warns. In a damning indictment of the international community's effort to stabilise Afghanistan, more than 100 aid agencies claimed security is worse now than at any time in the past seven years.

"There has been a surge in the number of civilian casualties caused by all sides, a spread of insecurity to previously stable areas, and increasing attacks on aid agencies and their staff," the statement from their umbrella organisation Acbar said.

(The boldface emphases are mine.)

OK, these are different countries. But, one who's not wearing blinders, one not just following the GOParty line, can't help but notice parallels. We've heard all this before, regarding both places.

Mideast expert Juan Cole, writing on Informed Comment, noted some interesting things about the Iraq "surge" that I will summarize. Let's step back a moment -- in a country of 27 million people, the addition of 30,000 troops, from 130,000 to 160,000, made that much difference in the level of violence? No way.

Not that the violence was down all that much in a relative sense. It did reach a "low point" compared to other points in the war. But there were other factors that were probably far more important.

One that the U.S. has nothing to be proud of is a sort of ethnic cleansing that took place in many mixed Baghdad neighborhoods. The Shiite militias ran off (or killed) a lot of Sunnis. Baghdad is now much more Shiite in the absence of many Sunnis, and there are sharp dividing lines between the ethnic neighborhoods.

It's been said that there ain't nothing more peaceful than a dead man. The second most peaceful sort would be the one who ain't there -- he's split for Iran or Syria.

Another big factor was the bribery of a lot of Sunni factions to get them to join "us" and oppose the insurgents. That was a strategic move that started months before the U.S. troop "surge," and turned the tide in many parts of Iraq -- for now.

Here's the link to the Juan Cole article.

Another interesting perspective on this issue is from former U.S. Sen. James G. Abourezk, D-S.D., "The Surge Has Worked?", writing for Counterpunch.

In an election year, it wouldn't be proper to visit this topic without including something from Democratic nominee-to-be Barack Obama. Here's something pertinent on The Huffington Post.

What about McCain's views? Just turn on the TV, or pick up an MSM newspaper, and you can get that swill quite easily. This is an alternative medium.

I'm going to float a somewhat subversive idea, but one that should be mentioned sometime. Let's presume (probably wrongly) that the "surge" cheerleaders are right, and that the U.S. is within sight of "victory" in Iraq.

In the long view of history, it's not a good idea. I understand the argument that, once a course like this has been set, it's a good idea to see it through. Even if a mistake was made initially, it is imperative to "clean up the mess" as best we can, or so the argument goes.

The tragedy of that would be that it would embolden future U.S. administrations to undertake more such foreign misadventures. Let's not mince words here -- this was an invasion, an act of aggression, on the part of the U.S. Everybody knew that Saddam Hussein was a thug way back in the '80s, when the U.S. was arming him. What most of the world's people seem to realize now is that the contained Saddam was no real threat to the U.S., and that there's no good explanation for American actions there other than that Iraqis are sitting on an ocean of oil. There was no link to al Qaeda. No evidence of WMDs. All the rationale were hollow at the core, except for one.

I'm an American, and I hate to lose. But this is one in which "we've" been in the wrong, and "we" actually don't deserve to win. And, I'll make the comparison with Afghanistan and gamble -- over time, "we" probably won't. The best path seems to just find a way out and assess the damage over time.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.