Friday, December 30, 2005

Dying Republic

Another good piece of writing has surfaced over at Empire Burlesque by Chris Floyd. It is a definite must read.

Here is a sample;
There is no third way here, no other option, no wiggle room, no ambiguity. The much-belated exposure of George W. Bush's warrantless spy program has forced the Bush-Cheney Regime to openly declare what they have long implied -- and enacted -- in secret: that the president is above the law, a military autocrat with unlimited powers, beyond the restraint or supervision of any other institution or branch of government. Outed as rank deceivers, perverters of the law and rapists of the Constitution, the Bush gang has decided that their best defense -- their only defense, really -- is a belligerent offense. "Yeah, we broke the law," they now say; "so what? We'll break it again whenever we want to, because law don't stick to our Big Boss Man. What are you going to do about it, chump?"

Divine Resolution

Mark Morford has posted a must read New Year's article here. It, is as usual, a smashing piece of writing and wrapped in all the great prose is a strong message. As the New Year comes, we on the progressive/liberal/relaity-based side of the river need to gird ourselves for another year and possibly three more years of this Godforsaken, soul killing administration. We have watched our beloved county and it's ideals dragged through the streets behind the neocon pickup truck and it is dirt caked and bloody but it is not dead. The fires of compassion, respect and love for our fellow man are still burning and can be rekindled into the fire that once burned as a beacon of hope for many in the world. I know I sometimes find it hard to keep my eye on the future and a positive mental state when I see the destruction, lies and rot that is devouring my country but somehow I keep thinking that tomorrow will be the turning point and we will see the sun rise again on our dreams. I am only going to make one resolution this year and it is to try even harder to keep the voices of reason, compassion and liberty alive.

Here is a teaser of Mark's work;

Because gosh look, just look outside, right now: Do you see it? It's a whole new year, all lined up and facing into the wind and waiting to play with you like an eager puppy, like a supple French hooker, like a shimmering glass of God's own tequila just sitting on the counter of possibility waiting for you to tip your head back and let that white-hot firewater slide down your throat like a snake of temptation straight into your undernourished id. Are you ready? Because get this: You need to be.

So then, as the new year races to engulf us all, perhaps this is what you can choose, this is what you resolve to understand: that the Great Battle continues. The great surge toward enlightenment and evolution must go on, will go on, can't not go on, as those of us who choose to see it understand that we are already reeking gleaming teeming brimful with all the divine juicy godhead we will ever need. It is merely waiting to be, quite literally, turned on.

It is, after all, all about subtle energy, shifts in awareness, the decision to move forward no matter what. It is all about focusing on micro to affect macro. This much you probably already know. In which case, this year you can simply resolve to, well, continue. To keep on, even when it all seems bleak and fraught and impossibly constricted. Because, sometimes, merely refusing to stop cultivating an unquenchable lust for beauty and truth and orgasmic life is the most profound and important thing you can resolve to do.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

See Other Side

There is an old trick you can play on someone where you write "See Other Side" on both sides of a piece of paper. When you hand this paper to someone you wait and see how many times they blindly follow the instructions and dutifully turn the paper over just to see the same message. Most people catch on pretty quick.

The responses from the non-reality based right on the new Rasmussen Reports remind me of this old joke.

The poll results say that 64% "believe the National Security Agency (NSA) should be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States."

The usual suspects are harping on and on about how this poll shows that the whole NSA domestic spying issue is just some "whacko liberal" knee jerk thing and most Americans realize that Bush and company are doing them proud.

What is very carefully NOT mentioned is the glaring ommission from the question asked. How about including some phrase like " in violation of the law and/or without obtaining search warrants from a court" and see how the numbers play?

I am 100% for keeping tabs on terrorists and all of their communications in or outside the country. I just want it done under the rule of law and with appropriate control and oversight. How hard is it for these idiots to understand? We are not concerned about wiretaps and eavesdropping but about ILLEGAL wiretaps and eavesdropping.

There is a huge distinction in the two and the right seems to want us to ignore it. We won't.

Others discussing this: Glenn Greenwald, Ezra Klein, ,Barabara O'Brien

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

You Get Fleas

With apologies to the dogs, what we have here is a perfect example of the old saw...If you lay down with dogs you get up with fleas.
Bush and company's playing fast and loose with FISA, the 4th Ammendment and Article II are producing just exactly the results one could have predicted if some serious reflection and outside consultation had been done before the law was ignored.

ReddHedd over at Firedoglake and Jeralyn at TalkLeft both have good overviews of the shitstorm that is brewing over the illegal domestic wiretaps by the NSA.

The short of it is that this "cowboy" spying on everyone and everybody has, in turn, threatened every terrorist investigation and legal proceeding currently underway and in the future. The government prosecutors are now faced with defending their actions in light of the fact that some or all of the defendants are potentially affected by the illegal wiretaps. The prosecutors must prove that nothing was illegally acquired and that all evidence has been turned over in discovery including any that was gathered in secret or illegally.

Some of the people spied on and currently detained or under prosecution are likely dirty but the actions of Bush's band of busybodies will probably give them the chance to go free.

We do not yet jail people in this country on secret or illegally obtained evidence. It will be very interesting to see this play out in the courts.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Full-on Loon PayMe-PlayMe

If you haven't read Jane's piece on the Pantload Media over at Firedoglake then wander over there and do so. I have been a constant reader of Firedoglake since it's inception and Jane just gets better and better. With the addition of the ReddHedd the blog is now one of the must reads on a daily basis. This is especially true if you want to stay on top of the Plame affair.

Here is a snip of Jane's prose on the Pantload Media.
When the wingnuts chant their talking points like a bunch of tambourine-beaters at the airport, they want to be paid for their efforts. And Pajamas Media was set up to do just that. They received by some accounts $7 million dollars to subsidize 70 right wing bloggers, and if you look at their sites there are no ads, many don't even identify their affiliation with a logo. Look at some full-on loon like the Confederate Yankee who earns his/her 800 hits a day by having seizures over Google's attempts to mock Christmas with Jesus butt plugs. The General will easily draw twenty times the traffic with his rapier-witted takedown, but the Confederate Yankee probably earns a lot more money than the General. These illiterate zeros are being paid out of principal, not out of any ad revenues. They are all Armstrong Williams.

Third World Dictator Wannabe

Howard Kurtz had an interesting revelation in yesterday's column and it just goes to show that Bush really, really wants to be another third world dictator. The latest is secret meetings, off the record, with the publishers of major news organs such as the NY Times and Washington Post. There is actually nothing wrong with the President meeting with such folks until it is forced into the "off the record" category. One has to wonder in these circumstances just what he said that that should not be "on the record".

President Bush has been summoning newspaper editors lately in an effort to prevent publication of stories he considers damaging to national security.

The efforts have failed, but the rare White House sessions with the executive editors of The Washington Post and New York Times are an indication of how seriously the president takes the recent reporting that has raised questions about the administration's anti-terror tactics.

When the President of the United States uses his office to try and influence the fourth estate in secret we are looking at nothing more than an effort to suppress or distort the truth. There can be no other reason.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Odd Christmas

Back safe and sound from the wilds of Virginia. It is really strange going for three days with no cell phone and no instantaneous access to the internet. I did discover that one of my Mom's neighbors had an unsecured wireless network and yes I did use it do a little surfing. If it will make you happy, I did feel bad for stealing the bandwidth but not that bad. If the unknown contributor to my delinquence didn't want to share his/her network then he/she should have secured it.

Anyhow, nice quiet Christmas. I did some cooking in the tiniest kitchen you can imagine and didn't ruin anything. Christmas was the classic prime rib and Yorkshire pudding even. Of course all food stuffs were imported from here and Whole Foods. The only "real" grocery left within about 40 miles is Wal-Mart and I will starve before I shop there. The quality of food you get at Whole Foods is such a level of wholesomeness above the industrial foods at Wal-Mart that is not even a valid comparison.

We did get to meet my Mom's new suitor. Dad finally succumbed to MS about 6 years ago and since that time my Mom has been pretty much a home body. She spent the better part of 30 years taking care of him while he slowly died from the ravages of MS and the attendant problems that come with immobility. Anyhow, she now has a new beau and it is rather shocking to see a 76 year old woman act like a school girl in a lot of ways, and let me tell you that it takes some getting used to to see your Mom playing lovebird with someone not your father. The guy seems nice enough and apparently dotes on Mom but it still is a little hard to deal with. We shall see where this all leads. The only thing we are going to have to deal with is that he is a deacon in the Baptist church I am going to have to really watch my heathen mouth around him. I am quite sure he is already a little freaked that he sat at the same table on Sunday with someone who was drinking a very nice Bordeaux with the prime rib. I did spend almost a $100 on that hunk of beef and I sure as hell was going to honor it's sacrifice with all proper due. Great beef(properly cooked I might add) deserves only the best wine. The potatoes Lyonnaise did go over well though. I did feel a little guilty about the menu when he mentioned the 5 bypasses and the pacemaker. Mom might not forgive me for toasting her new beau on the first day. There was only a half stick of butter and a pint of cream in the potatoes after all. I did serve a salad and I greased the pan for the rolls with margarine. It was light in it's own way.

Barely snuck out this morning ahead of the snow. Only occasional bands of light snow from just south of Bluefield, WVa until we got south to Knoxville but no real problem.
Glad to see home and all the familiar stuff. My Mom's house is actually one half of a duplex and not very roomy, not to mention that my mother is one of the worst housekeepers in the world. The clutter and well....yes dirt make Mrs. Fallenmonk insane and she usually starts cleaning the moment we arrive and continues right up until departure. So my Mom's kitchen is measurably cleaner. I don't think I killed her new squeeze and I didn't have a 10 hour drive home in the snow. A strange but interesting holiday interlude if you know what I mean.

Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Too Much

Merry Christmas. Turned on the laptop this fine, but raining, Christmas morning and it turns out one of my mother's close neighbors has an unguarded wireless network and here I am. I know I am stealing someone's bandwidth but they must want to share so I feel only a little guilty.

Anyhow, I made my quick tour around and hit Digby, of course, and what do I find but something about the Feds searching for radiological signatures around Moslem places like mosques and stuff. There is a reference to Glenn Greenwald's blog where he makes the convincing argument that this is just another smokescreen to try and take the heat off the NSA thing.

I think both Glenn and Digby are right and that the administration is going to the well a little too often on the dirty bomb business. People are just beginning to accept the premise that the terrorists are out there and we will just have to deal with it.

Looks like they need another fear trigger(fnord) to condition us with.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Off for Christmas

Off bright and early this morning for "Wet and Wild" West Virginia to spend the Christmas holiday with Mom. I say West Virginia but my Mom actually lives in Virginia but if you miss the turn to the town off the main highway the next place to turn is in West Virginia. Car is loaded with food, wine and other stuff so off we go. Going to stop for the night in Asheville and see the Biltmore house all decorated for Christmas. I wouldn't normally spend $44 a piece for tickets to see Christmas decorations but periodically Madam Fallenmonk must be humored. Using Marriott points (which I have a ton off) for the hotel so at least that is not costing me anything. It does break the trip in half which is my consolation.
Talked with Mom yesterday morning and was a nipple pointing 9 degrees but at least no snow. I've been caught a few times with snow over the holidays and it is not easy escaping from the mountains when that happens. My Hyundai XG350 has new tires and front wheel drive and handles pretty well in ice and snow but not even Jeeps can always negotiate some of the hills when it is icy. The mountains are really pretty in the snow and being trapped for a day or so is not a disaster anyway. My Mom lives along Wolf Creek right before it empties into the New River and it is quite nice.
I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday, whatever you choose to call it. Let's keep our fingers and toes crossed that the holidays are peaceful and that the coming year will bring us back towards our Amerian ideals. Love and Peace can win the day.
No idea what kind of Internet availability I will have so I will see you when I see you.

Merry Christmas,

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

No Compromise

There is a lot of good discussion on the lefty blogs about the domestic spying that Bush and company have admitted to and say they will continue. NTodd has an excellent post that is worth reading but the short of it is...
The line has been drawn. Either you are for America's ideals, or you are against them. I invite Republicans of conscience to join us, the true Patriots, and defend what this nation truly represents. If you defend Bush in any capacity, I condemn you as history will condemn you: collaborationists who refused to answer the call and stood with the real enemy.
Peter Daou has a post up that suggests how this whole thing will play out and it is not encouraging.

7. A few reliable Dems, Conyers, Boxer, et al, take a stand on principle, giving momentary hope to the progressive grassroots/netroots community. The rest of the Dem leadership is temporarily outraged (adding to that hope), but is chronically incapable of maintaining the sense of high indignation and focus required to reach critical mass and create a wholesale shift in public opinion. For example, just as this mother of all scandals hits Washington, Democrats are still putting out press releases on Iraq, ANWR and a range of other topics, diluting the story and signaling that they have little intention of following through. This allows Bush to use his three favorite weapons: time, America's political apathy, and make-believe 'journalists' who yuck it up with him and ask fluff questions at his frat-boy pressers.

8. Reporters and media outlets obfuscate and equivocate, pretending to ask tough questions but essentially pushing the same narratives they've developed and perfected over the past five years, namely, some variation of "Bush firm, Dems soft." A range of Bush-protecting tactics are put into play, one being to ask ridiculously misleading questions such as "Should Bush have the right to protect Americans or should he cave in to Democratic political pressure?" All the while, the right assaults the "liberal" media for daring to tell anything resembling the truth.

9. Polls will emerge with 'proof' that half the public agrees that Bush should have the right to "protect Americans against terrorists." Again, the issue will be framed to mask the true nature of the malfeasance. The media will use these polls to create a self-fulfilling loop and convince the public that it isn't that bad after all. The president breaks the law. Life goes on.

10. The story starts blending into a long string of administration scandals, and through skillful use of scandal fatigue, Bush weathers the storm and moves on, further demoralizing his opponents and cementing the press narrative about his 'resolve' and toughness.

Peter Daou may be right and this may be how it all plays out but I am going to invest my soul with NTodd. There is no middle ground when it comes to allowing civil liberties to be compromised. None. This is another example of the extreme right nibbling away at our hard won freedoms under the guise of protecting us from "the terrorists". It has to stop here and now. If you want to cower in your closet and let Bush and Cheney and the rest take away your liberty then you cannot claim to be a patriot. You are a coward. A life lived in fear at the expense of freedom is not worth living and I sure as hell don't want any part of it. Patriotism means standing up for what America is supposed to stand for and "Give me liberty or give me death" is our marching song. Bush and his cronies are a cancer on all that makes America great and are mocking all that have died to preserve the ideals we so cherish. You are a coward and a traitor if you excuse their treason.

Update: Mustang Bobby and I are thinking alike today. He makes a call for "Raising the Shire" on this.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Jane Part Two

Well, Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake fame has posted part two of her Image rant and boy is it a doozy. The lady is focused and on target and taking no prisoners. I am glad I have managed to stay on her good side so far. Hell hath no fury as they say. Go read it.

Dollars for Digby

Digby is not feeling loved and that is a bad thing. Digby is one of the most important voices of liberal blogtopia and needs to know that we need that voice to continue. Anything you can spare will be appreciated.
I only wish I had the time, intelligence and way with words that Digby brings. It is a must read site and the ideas generated there are repeated again and again across the web and many don't realize where the original thoughts and ideas have come from.
It is not the best time of year to ask for support but keep Digby in mind.

Monday, December 19, 2005

It Is Image

Don't miss Jane's excellent post on the necessity of managing the image over at Firedoglake. It is one of her best.

Even though Katrina and other recent events offered the Democrats the perfect opportunity to say "the village is on fire," it's still hard to put that across in a way that will not be countered by the message machine of the right as sounding negative and down on America. But the fact is the village is on fire, and people are awakening to that fact. It's time to seize the "Republicans are crooks and bullies" meme, invest in some long term strategies and become a meaningful opposition party. It's the third act, Ma's fed up because the thieves are stealing her crops and she can't feed the kids, the audience is emotionally ready for her to grab the shotgun and run 'em all off so Pa will have something to come home to.

It's incredibly hoakey but it's a quite fundamental dramatic truth and until the Democrats like Joe Biden stop licking David Brooks's boots on national TV and competing for the title of Biggest Pussyman in the Democratic Party (yes I said that too, and I mean it) there will be no effective challenge to the GOP tyranny we now live under. Russ Feingold is looking awfully strong right now for having voted against the Patriot Act. The Democrats would do well to remember that and stop reaching for Dubya's prop codpiece.
Just read it.

Why A Criminal Act?

I've been trying for a couple of days now to understand exactly why the President's clan would overtly and knowing commit a criminal act not just once but 30 or more times and then admit it and tell us that they are going to do it again. This is very difficult to understand since there arelegal and ways to do the domestic spying in use and very effective. You can even spy and get permission later under the FISA rules.
What would require the President to avoid using the legal method? What if he and his cohorts were sure the FISA court would not approve of the targets? It would seem likely to me that that would be the only reason to break the law and sidestep the FISA court.
Holden beat me to it and published a list of some of the targets that would probably not have been approved by the FISA court.

The following is an incomplete list of individuals whose telephone calls and e-mail messages were monitored by the National Security Agency pursuant to an executive order signed by George Bush allowing surveillance of American citizens without a warrant.

Joseph Wilson
Valerie Plame
John Kerry
John Edwards
Howard Dean
Nancy Pelosi
Harry Reid
Al Gore
Bill Clinton
Hillary Clinton
Richard Clarke
Colin Powell
John McCain
Chuck Hagel
Michael Moore
Cindy Sheehan
Brent Scrowcroft
I believe he missed a few names though. Just off the top of my head...Ted Kennedy, Patrick Fitzgerald, Jimmy Carter, Russ Feingold to name a few. How many others do you think are on the list that FISA wouldn't approve?

Sunday, December 18, 2005

ELINT is a Waste of Time

Thanks to a comment from Grace of Scriptoids, I realized that I do actually have something to add to the discussion of the NSA spying that was not authorized by FISA but authorized by the Prez.

I spent 8 years in Naval Intelligence and for a lot of that time I was tasked directly by NSA. I spent a lot of time on domestic intelligence under the guise of the 'War on Drugs' and I don't recall anything of import in all those mounds of data we collected. We heard a lot 'kiss and not tell' and a lot of boring 'I love you... I love you too' but very little 'intelligence'.
We did quite a bit of 'play acting', pretending to be the commies and seeing what we could learn by spying on ourselves which, in all honesty, proved very helpful and enlightening. I believe my efforts did tighten up our own communication security.

Let's get honest with ourselves. ELINT (electronic intelligence) is cool stuff and there has been a lot written about it even before 9/11. Pretty much everyone that can use a spoon has heard of 'Carnivore' and post 9/11 we heard all the news reports of how we were just slow translating ELINT or we would have had those guys. The '411' is that anyone that wants to keep a secret in this country does not use the public airwaves. You can assume that everything on the Internet, cellular networks, and landline telephone/telegraph are monitored continuosly. If you are a 'terrerist' and use the public communication channels to exchange secret stuff then you are dumber than a box of rocks. Granted we have to maintain our oversight just to keep everyone honest but that, in itself, guarantees that no serious operator is going to use the public channels to do his or her dirty deeds.

So, not only did Herr Bush violate any number of laws and the Constitution he probably did it for no reason. This only goes to show that not only is he a criminal but he and his staff are dumber than a box of rocks as well.

Criminal, No Question

I am not going to spend any time on the domestic intelligence crime. I need only say that there were legal ways to get the job done that were put in place specifically for cases like these. There was no reason for the actions the President took other than to thumb his nose at the Congress. He has admitted doing it and it is an impeachable offense and far, far worse than lying about an extramarrital affair for Goddess' sake. We have to draw the line somewhere and this is about as good a place as any.
ReddHedd and Jane at Firedoglake and Jeralyn at TalkLeft are far better at relaying the nuances of all this than I am. I do agree with Ezra Klein though, and think is was a 'Screw You, I'm the Prez and don't you forget it' moment when Bush admitted the crime.

Quoting Ezra:
This is Bush's "fuck you" moment. He lost on the PATRIOT Act, lost on Social Security, is losing on the war, leaking popularity, lacking political capital, and finding his second term to be a series of very hard punches to the face. The mounting failures and multiplying blows finally became too much for him and so, finally, he's dispensed with political strategy and high-polling pretense and finally said what he'd been wanting to say all along.

Fuck you.

It's been the message rumbling beneath his administration for months now. The belligerence on torture, the hysteria on the PATRIOT Act, the McCarthyism against the war critics. But each time, at that last crucial moment, Bush backed down. Right when he seemed ready to let loose a flurry of invective, his handlers would coax him off the roof. He backed down before McCain's anti-torture legislation, started appending disclaimers affirming the patriotism of his critics too his speeches. He didn't crack. He kept following the strategists, calling for tactical retreats. Till now.
Nuff Said.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Up and Down

Then again

WASHINGTON - The House called for construction of a fence along parts of the U.S. border from the Pacific Coast to the Gulf of Mexico as a bill aimed at shutting down illegal immigration moved forward Thursday.

The two-layered fence, about 700 miles long, would be built in parts of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. The provisions, passed 260-159, put priority on construction near Laredo, Texas. The city is across the border from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, where warring drug cartels have been blamed for more than 140 murders this year.

I should stop reading while I am ahead.

Hope Still There

In spite of all the bad news we are constantly deluged with I still sometimes find sparks of hope that we are able to rise above the muck we are in. The Senate today refused to extend the Patriot Act. Thanks Goddess!

WASHINGTON - The Senate on Friday refused to reauthorize major portions of the USA Patriot Act after critics complained they infringed too much on Americans' privacy and liberty, dealing a huge defeat to the Bush administration and Republican leaders.

In a crucial vote early Friday, the bill's Senate supporters were not able to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a threatened filibuster by Sens. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and their allies. The final vote was 52-47

Typepad Hosed?

Looks like somebody restored and old archive of Typepad. Looks like it is from the 10th or so.

I thought is was me for a moment. Then again,maybe it is me.

Vitamins or Sex

This is interesting...

Scientists said yesterday that they have discovered a tiny genetic mutation that largely explains the first appearance of white skin in humans tens of thousands of years ago, a finding that helps solve one of biology's most enduring mysteries and illuminates one of humanity's greatest sources of strife.

The work suggests that the skin-whitening mutation occurred by chance in a single individual after the first human exodus from Africa, when all people were brown-skinned. That person's offspring apparently thrived as humans moved northward into what is now Europe, helping to give rise to the lightest of the world's races.

So the real question is why did losing the dark skin coloration have an advantage for those that moved North? Was it because of Vitamin D and the lighter skin provided for more more production in an environment that required more clothing and had less sun or was it because the lighter skin had some other advantage such as sexual attractiveness?

Seems to me the Vitamin D angle would make more sense.

For you proponents of ID (Ignorant Design) this, of course, is a silly question since everyone knows that God is white.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Power On at Last

The little ice storm last night shut down the power, at least here in the Northern part of town, and it has finally come back. Lost some big pine branches but no significant damage that I can see. I just talked to my daughter who lives north of here and they have been hit much harder and still have no power. She is at work but her husband has been calling with regular status reports. Evidently it was a good thing that she had headed to work early this morning as the spot where she parks her Mini is now the resting place for a large oak limb. Her neighbors have been making fun of them for burning their fireplace every night but since it is the only house with a fireplace on the street she now has a house full of grateful folks. Supposed to warm a bit tomorrow so maybe some of the ice will melt.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Paul or Saul

There is a hilarious post over at Huffpo by Jerry and Joe Long.

Note: If you are a "Christian" then it is only going to be funny if you know anything about the roots of your professed faith, otherwise you are going to be confused and probably insulted.

Oh Boy! Viper Teams

Let's put on our worst case scenario beanies on and extrapolate this news forward into our next traveling adventure. Can we say paranoid? Are these folks going to be as quick on the trigger as our friends in Miami? I am 100% for security but I am not sure if this is the answer. This step might need some review by the traveling public before implementation.

According to internal Transportation Security Administration documents, the program calls for newly created "Visible Intermodal Protection and Response" teams -- called "Viper" teams -- to take positions in public areas along Amtrak's Northeast Corridor and Los Angeles rail lines; ferries in Washington state; and mass transit systems in Atlanta, Philadelphia and Baltimore. Viper teams will also patrol the Washington Metro system.

Somehow I seem to be getting pictures of being stopped at random on the metro and asked for my papers. It's beginning to look a lot like the bad dream is going to get worse. Somebody pinch me. Did they say "Viper" teams? That just gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling all over.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Still A Tragedy Here Folks

If you haven't been thinking about the folks so badly hurt from Katrina during this season you would do well to do so. There are thousands of people that have been left with nothing and are facing a very bleak holiday. There are attempts to keep this story in the main stream but I get the feeling that there are some adminsitration officials that would just as soon we forget or ignore the disastrous job they did and are continuing to do in response.

The blog world needs to keep this tragedy alive and in front of as many people as possible, as it is evident that we can't leave this to the main stream folks.

It's so bad that the residents of one New Orleans neighborhood have taken out an ad in Roll Call begging the Congress to pay attention to them. The add is borne of desperation says residents.
It reminds lawmakers that there is still a tragedy underway.
"Since the breakdown of the New Orleans flood protection system on August 29, 2005, we have lived like refugees in our own country," the advertisement says. "The residents of Lakeview and countless other displaced New Orleans communities are sending you this holiday wish in one voice - 'We want to go home.' "
On another front the courts are starting to respond to the disaster.

Calling the Federal Emergency Management Agency "numbingly insensitive" and "unduly callous," a federal judge ruled yesterday that the agency must pay the hotel bills of hurricane evacuees until Feb. 7, handing a reprieve to thousands who faced a Thursday deadline to check out or begin picking up the tab themselves.

The ruling, by Judge Stanwood R. Duval Jr. of the Eastern District of Louisiana, covers 42,000 evacuee families still living in 4,000 hotels in 47 states and the District of Columbia. FEMA had previously said it would stop paying for their rooms on Dec. 15 or Jan. 7, depending on their proximity to the disaster zone.

Barack Obama's accusations of Social Darwinism look pretty accurate. Eh!

It has been suggested that maybe the rest of us might consider redirecting some of our Christmas giving toward some of the relief organizations listed below. Maybe Aunt Lucy really doesn't need that George Foreman grill as much as someone devasted by Katrina needs a little help?

These links were brazenly stolen directly from the New York Times.

Relief Organizations:

Red Cross: 1-800-HELP-NOW or

Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund:

Mississippi Hurricane Recovery Fund:
Site offering a service for the New Orleans homeless, free of charge.

Black America Web Relief Fund: blackamericaweb.comSupport to families who are assisting those displaced by the hurricane.

Baton Rouge Area Foundation(BRAF): 877.387.6126 or

PART-15.ORG Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts:
Effort to reestablish communications services in the region. Donate expertise or money

Save the Children:

United Way: or 1-800-272-4630

Episcopal Relief & Development: 1-800-334-7626 or or P.O. Box 12043, Newark, N.J.,07101

United Methodist Committee on Relief: 1-800-554-8583 or

Salvation Army: 1-800-SAL-ARMY or

Catholic Charities: 1-800-919-9338 or

FEMA Charity tips:

National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster:

Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals:

Emergency Animal Rescue Service:

More Pet Resources:

Operation Blessing: 1-800-436-6348 or

America's Second Harvest: 1-800-344-8070 or

Adventist Community Services: 1-800-381-7171 or

Christian Disaster Response: 1-941-956-5183 or 1-941-551-9554 or

Christian Reformed World Relief Committee: 1-800-848-5818 or

Church World Service: 1-800-297-1516 or

Convoy of Hope: 1-417-823-8998 or

Lutheran Disaster Response: 1-800-638-3522 or

Mennonite Disaster Service: 1-717-859-2210 or

Nazarene Disaster Response: 1-888-256-5886 or

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance: 1-800-872-3283 or

United Jewish Communities: or 877-277-2477

Southern Baptist Convention - Disaster Relief: 1-800-462-8657, ext. 6440 or

Information on Missing People:

Various Websites are hosting message boards and other information for people searching for the missing. Here are a few:
Family News Network of the International Committee of the Red Cross

The National Next of Kin Registry

Craig's List (The Times-Picayune)

Katrina People Finder


Other Information:

Federal Emergency Management Agency: 1-800-621-FEMA;

Louisiana Homeland Security:

City of New Orleans:

Louisiana Governor's Office:

Mississippi Emergency Management:

Mississippi Insurance Department assistance line for displaced state residents: 1-866-856-1982

National Hurricane Center:

Capital Murder

OK. Here we are the day after Tookie Williams is murdered by the government, and the four people he was convicted of murdering are still dead as well. Yes, I said murdered. Using the phrase “Capital Punishment” is just a way to make us “feel better” about it, it isn’t as harsh and final sounding as the reality. It is government sponsored murder. You can spin it however you want and the final result is still the same. Somebody (the government) intentionally made a live person dead. The definition of murder is to kill intentionally and with premeditation.

I don’t know about you but I cannot fathom being as sure of myself and my judgment as to condemn another human to death. Even if I was absolutely sure and there was no possible doubt as to guilt I could not do it. It is not the death of another human that is the sticking point here either. Thousands upon thousands of people die every day as will you and I in some not too distant future. Death is the other side of the coin of life. My big concern is what it does to me and my spirit. Thou shall not kill is a mandate in more belief systems than just Christianity and there is a period after the word kill…there is no “unless” hanging on the end. It is the height of arrogance for you to assume you know who should die and who should not.

Let me put it another way…murder is not just about what it does to the murdered, but about what it does to the murderer.

The death penalty doesn’t deter crime. I guarantee you that those who loved the victim or victims don’t feel any better about their loss after the perpetrator is dead too. It has no rational justification. Spiritual and moral teachers have tried to wean us of it since time began. I find it very difficult to understand how people, in a country that mainly professes to be Christian, still support the death penalty. If they are, in fact, Christian how do they rationalize away the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 – 7) where Jesus is quoted as saying;

“Ye have heard that it was said to men of old, Thou shall not murder; and whosoever shall murder shall be liable to judgment. But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with His brother without good cause shall be liable to judgment. … Ye have heard that it hath been said, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say unto you, that ye resist not the evil one: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. … Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”

What part of the above is so hard to understand? Seems to me they need to spend just a tiny bit more time pondering these parts of their Bibles.

State sponsored murder is a symptom of a failed society. Civilized people don’t kill each other. State sponsored murder and its big brother war legitimize violence and hatred and stifles love and compassion. It embodies the worst we are as humans and ignores our striving for nobility and grace. A society that allows state sponsored murder more easily accepts violent solutions to problems that can be addressed peacefully and it can turn a blind eye to other abominations such as torture and war.

Thanks to Mahablog for some of the thought seeds here.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Lay, DeLay, O'Dell etc.

The story about Wally O'Dell resigning from Diebold for "personal reasons" reminded me of good old Kenny Boy. How much prison time has Ken Lay served? Just asking.


Amanda at ThinkProgress has uncovered the latest Whitehouse pretend journalist. It's Chris Horner and he is counsel at the right-wing Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), which has received more than $1.3 million in funding from ExxonMobil. Horner “is also part of the Cooler Heads Coalition, “a group set up ‘to dispel the myth of global warming.’”

Horner attended last week’s U.N. Climate Change conference as a journalist and in reality he is a lobbyist.

Horner attended the State Department’s Dec. 7 briefing with press credentials from the right-wing Washington Times...Horner promoted the Bush administration position, suggesting the U.S. position be portrayed as leading a “new consensus.”

Horner is not a journalist. He has published just a single op-ed in the Washington Times since 2003, and has never written a hard news article for the paper, according to a database search.

But he is quite experienced at underhanded tactics. He drew up plans, funded by ExxonMobil, to destroy Europe’s support for the Kyoto treaty on climate change.”

Some Help

Pass it along:

The National Veterans Foundation has opened a toll-free helpline (1-888-777-4443) for Troops, Veterans and their families.

All calls are answered live by trained veterans, who listen, provide crisis intervention services, emotional support and information, or immediate referrals to local providers who can help. The NVF Helpline has already served more than 275,000 people in need.

NVF aims to get the helpline running 24/7, but it currently operates from 9a.m.-9p.m., M-F. All messages received during off hours are returned the next business day, and requests for assistance can also be submitted via e-mail at

Thanks Susie

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Another Light

Another country has seen the truth and abolished the death penalty. This one is our neighbor to the south Mexico. Step by step the world is coming of age.

"Mexico shares the opinion that capital punishment is a violation of human rights," Fox said. "Today, the death penalty has been abolished."

Even though they haven't excuted anyone in nearly 45 years the law was still on the books. There are not many "developed" countries left that still have the death penalty and surely we stand out in any such population. A little embarrassing, eh?

Grats to Jeralyn for the heads up.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Odd Portent?

Just looked out the kitchen window and there on the deck railing sat two squirrels and a Cooper's hawk just a peaceful as you please. This must have some portent but I am missing it. Very odd though.


The always astute Heretik points to Capitol Hill Blue for this illuminating quote from our Commander and Chief.

GOP leaders told Bush that his hardcore push to renew the more onerous provisions of the act could further alienate conservatives still mad at the President from his botched attempt to nominate White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.

“I don’t give a goddamn,” Bush retorted. “I’m the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way.”

“Mr. President,” one aide in the meeting said. “There is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution.”

“Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,” Bush screamed back. “It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!”

This pretty much sums the whole issue I have with Dubya into a nice little package with a cute red bow. Arrogance, ignorance, stubborness, unheeding, shortsighted, small, and crass. This is his legacy in a paragraph. You can surmise everything you need to know about the man from these few sentences. A distillation of everything he is and will ever be.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Money For Nothing

And your Chicks for Free.
Well, the House approved another tax cut today making almost a $100 billion in tax cuts in the last two days. Happy times are here again, that's for sure. Couple this tax cut with the cuts in student loans, food stamps and child support enforcement passed a few weeks ago that means we have only increased the deficit by $50 billion. There is a war on after all.
Our only hope is that the Senate actually considers the Federal deficit when they vote on the measure. Fortunately this was passed pretty much on partisan grounds so the Rethugs own this lock stock and barrel. yesterday's tax cut bills got way too much Democratic support and therefore we can't point at the Rethugs on those bills.

A Look Into the Mirror

Following is a large chunk of the acceptance speech presented to the Nobel Prize Committee by Harold Pinter, the playwright awarded the literature prize this year. The entire speech is worthwhile reading but the following extracts are where he is talking about you and I. It is a damning and ugly look into the mirror. I know it is long but I think the folks that visit this site will want to read it. If you don’t want to read this entire post then just skip down to the bottom two paragraphs.

The full text of the speech is available here at The Guardian.


As every single person here knows, the justification for the invasion of Iraq was that Saddam Hussein possessed a highly dangerous body of weapons of mass destruction, some of which could be fired in 45 minutes, bringing about appalling devastation. We were assured that was true. It was not true. We were told that Iraq had a relationship with Al Quaeda and shared responsibility for the atrocity in New York of September 11th 2001. We were assured that this was true. It was not true. We were told that Iraq threatened the security of the world. We were assured it was true. It was not true.

The truth is something entirely different. The truth is to do with how the United States understands its role in the world and how it chooses to embody it.

But before I come back to the present I would like to look at the recent past, by which I mean United States foreign policy since the end of the Second World War. I believe it is obligatory upon us to subject this period to at least some kind of even limited scrutiny, which is all that time will allow here.

Everyone knows what happened in the Soviet Union and throughout Eastern Europe during the post-war period: the systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities, the ruthless suppression of independent thought. All this has been fully documented and verified.

But my contention here is that the US crimes in the same period have only been superficially recorded, let alone documented, let alone acknowledged, let alone recognised as crimes at all. I believe this must be addressed and that the truth has considerable bearing on where the world stands now. Although constrained, to a certain extent, by the existence of the Soviet Union, the United States' actions throughout the world made it clear that it had concluded it had carte blanche to do what it liked.

Direct invasion of a sovereign state has never in fact been America's favoured method. In the main, it has preferred what it has described as 'low intensity conflict'. Low intensity conflict means that thousands of people die but slower than if you dropped a bomb on them in one fell swoop. It means that you infect the heart of the country, that you establish a malignant growth and watch the gangrene bloom. When the populace has been subdued - or beaten to death - the same thing - and your own friends, the military and the great corporations, sit comfortably in power, you go before the camera and say that democracy has prevailed. This was a commonplace in US foreign policy in the years to which I refer.

The tragedy of Nicaragua was a highly significant case. I choose to offer it here as a potent example of America's view of its role in the world, both then and now.

I was present at a meeting at the US embassy in London in the late 1980s.

The United States Congress was about to decide whether to give more money to the Contras in their campaign against the state of Nicaragua. I was a member of a delegation speaking on behalf of Nicaragua but the most important member of this delegation was a Father John Metcalf. The leader of the US body was Raymond Seitz (then number two to the ambassador, later ambassador himself). Father Metcalf said: 'Sir, I am in charge of a parish in the north of Nicaragua. My parishioners built a school, a health centre, a cultural centre. We have lived in peace. A few months ago a Contra force attacked the parish. They destroyed everything: the school, the health centre, the cultural centre. They raped nurses and teachers, slaughtered doctors, in the most brutal manner. They behaved like savages. Please demand that the US government withdraw its support from this shocking terrorist activity.'

Raymond Seitz had a very good reputation as a rational, responsible and highly sophisticated man. He was greatly respected in diplomatic circles. He listened, paused and then spoke with some gravity. 'Father,' he said, 'let me tell you something. In war, innocent people always suffer.' There was a frozen silence. We stared at him. He did not flinch.

Innocent people, indeed, always suffer.

Finally somebody said: 'But in this case "innocent people" were the victims of a gruesome atrocity subsidised by your government, one among many. If Congress allows the Contras more money further atrocities of this kind will take place. Is this not the case? Is your government not therefore guilty of supporting acts of murder and destruction upon the citizens of a sovereign state?'

Seitz was imperturbable. 'I don't agree that the facts as presented support your assertions,' he said.

As we were leaving the Embassy a US aide told me that he enjoyed my plays. I did not reply.

I should remind you that at the time President Reagan made the following statement: 'The Contras are the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers.'

The United States supported the brutal Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua for over 40 years. The Nicaraguan people, led by the Sandinistas, overthrew this regime in 1979, a breathtaking popular revolution.

The Sandinistas weren't perfect. They possessed their fair share of arrogance and their political philosophy contained a number of contradictory elements. But they were intelligent, rational and civilised. They set out to establish a stable, decent, pluralistic society. The death penalty was abolished. Hundreds of thousands of poverty-stricken peasants were brought back from the dead. Over 100,000 families were given title to land. Two thousand schools were built. A quite remarkable literacy campaign reduced illiteracy in the country to less than one seventh. Free education was established and a free health service. Infant mortality was reduced by a third. Polio was eradicated.

The United States denounced these achievements as Marxist/Leninist subversion. In the view of the US government, a dangerous example was being set. If Nicaragua was allowed to establish basic norms of social and economic justice, if it was allowed to raise the standards of health care and education and achieve social unity and national self respect, neighbouring countries would ask the same questions and do the same things. There was of course at the time fierce resistance to the status quo in El Salvador.

I spoke earlier about 'a tapestry of lies' which surrounds us. President Reagan commonly described Nicaragua as a 'totalitarian dungeon'. This was taken generally by the media, and certainly by the British government, as accurate and fair comment. But there was in fact no record of death squads under the Sandinista government. There was no record of torture. There was no record of systematic or official military brutality. No priests were ever murdered in Nicaragua. There were in fact three priests in the government, two Jesuits and a Maryknoll missionary. The totalitarian dungeons were actually next door, in El Salvador and Guatemala. The United States had brought down the democratically elected government of Guatemala in 1954 and it is estimated that over 200,000 people had been victims of successive military dictatorships.

Six of the most distinguished Jesuits in the world were viciously murdered at the Central American University in San Salvador in 1989 by a battalion of the Alcatl regiment trained at Fort Benning, Georgia, USA. That extremely brave man Archbishop Romero was assassinated while saying mass. It is estimated that 75,000 people died. Why were they killed? They were killed because they believed a better life was possible and should be achieved. That belief immediately qualified them as communists. They died because they dared to question the status quo, the endless plateau of poverty, disease, degradation and oppression, which had been their birthright.

The United States finally brought down the Sandinista government. It took some years and considerable resistance but relentless economic persecution and 30,000 dead finally undermined the spirit of the Nicaraguan people. They were exhausted and poverty stricken once again. The casinos moved back into the country. Free health and free education were over. Big business returned with a vengeance. 'Democracy' had prevailed.

But this 'policy' was by no means restricted to Central America. It was conducted throughout the world. It was never-ending. And it is as if it never happened.

The United States supported and in many cases engendered every right wing military dictatorship in the world after the end of the Second World War. I refer to Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Haiti, Turkey, the Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador, and, of course, Chile. The horror the United States inflicted upon Chile in 1973 can never be purged and can never be forgiven.

Hundreds of thousands of deaths took place throughout these countries. Did they take place? And are they in all cases attributable to US foreign policy? The answer is yes they did take place and they are attributable to American foreign policy. But you wouldn't know it.

It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.

I put to you that the United States is without doubt the greatest show on the road. Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be but it is also very clever. As a salesman it is out on its own and its most saleable commodity is self love. It's a winner. Listen to all American presidents on television say the words, 'the American people', as in the sentence, 'I say to the American people it is time to pray and to defend the rights of the American people and I ask the American people to trust their president in the action he is about to take on behalf of the American people.'

It's a scintillating stratagem. Language is actually employed to keep thought at bay. The words 'the American people' provide a truly voluptuous cushion of reassurance. You don't need to think. Just lie back on the cushion. The cushion may be suffocating your intelligence and your critical faculties but it's very comfortable. This does not apply of course to the 40 million people living below the poverty line and the 2 million men and women imprisoned in the vast gulag of prisons, which extends across the US.

The United States no longer bothers about low intensity conflict. It no longer sees any point in being reticent or even devious. It puts its cards on the table without fear or favour. It quite simply doesn't give a damn about the United Nations, international law or critical dissent, which it regards as impotent and irrelevant. It also has its own bleating little lamb tagging behind it on a lead, the pathetic and supine Great Britain.

What has happened to our moral sensibility? Did we ever have any? What do these words mean? Do they refer to a term very rarely employed these days - conscience? A conscience to do not only with our own acts but to do with our shared responsibility in the acts of others? Is all this dead? Look at Guantanamo Bay. Hundreds of people detained without charge for over three years, with no legal representation or due process, technically detained forever. This totally illegitimate structure is maintained in defiance of the Geneva Convention. It is not only tolerated but hardly thought about by what's called the 'international community'. This criminal outrage is being committed by a country, which declares itself to be 'the leader of the free world'. Do we think about the inhabitants of Guantanamo Bay? What does the media say about them? They pop up occasionally - a small item on page six. They have been consigned to a no man's land from which indeed they may never return. At present many are on hunger strike, being force-fed, including British residents. No niceties in these force-feeding procedures. No sedative or anaesthetic. Just a tube stuck up your nose and into your throat. You vomit blood. This is torture. What has the British Foreign Secretary said about this? Nothing. What has the British Prime Minister said about this? Nothing. Why not? Because the United States has said: to criticise our conduct in Guantanamo Bay constitutes an unfriendly act. You're either with us or against us. So Blair shuts up.

The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law. The invasion was an arbitrary military action inspired by a series of lies upon lies and gross manipulation of the media and therefore of the public; an act intended to consolidate American military and economic control of the Middle East masquerading - as a last resort - all other justifications having failed to justify themselves - as liberation. A formidable assertion of military force responsible for the death and mutilation of thousands and thousands of innocent people.

We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi people and call it 'bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East'.

How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal? One hundred thousand? More than enough, I would have thought. Therefore it is just that Bush and Blair be arraigned before the International Criminal Court of Justice. But Bush has been clever. He has not ratified the International Criminal Court of Justice. Therefore if any American soldier or for that matter politician finds himself in the dock Bush has warned that he will send in the marines. But Tony Blair has ratified the Court and is therefore available for prosecution. We can let the Court have his address if they're interested. It is Number 10, Downing Street, London.

Death in this context is irrelevant. Both Bush and Blair place death well away on the back burner. At least 100,000 Iraqis were killed by American bombs and missiles before the Iraq insurgency began. These people are of no moment. Their deaths don't exist. They are blank. They are not even recorded as being dead. 'We don't do body counts,' said the American general Tommy Franks.

Early in the invasion there was a photograph published on the front page of British newspapers of Tony Blair kissing the cheek of a little Iraqi boy. 'A grateful child,' said the caption. A few days later there was a story and photograph, on an inside page, of another four-year-old boy with no arms. His family had been blown up by a missile. He was the only survivor. 'When do I get my arms back?' he asked. The story was dropped. Well, Tony Blair wasn't holding him in his arms, nor the body of any other mutilated child, nor the body of any bloody corpse. Blood is dirty. It dirties your shirt and tie when you're making a sincere speech on television.

The 2,000 American dead are an embarrassment. They are transported to their graves in the dark. Funerals are unobtrusive, out of harm's way. The mutilated rot in their beds, some for the rest of their lives. So the dead and the mutilated both rot, in different kinds of graves.


I have said earlier that the United States is now totally frank about putting its cards on the table. That is the case. Its official declared policy is now defined as 'full spectrum dominance'. That is not my term, it is theirs. 'Full spectrum dominance' means control of land, sea, air and space and all attendant resources.

The United States now occupies 702 military installations throughout the world in 132 countries, with the honourable exception of Sweden, of course. We don't quite know how they got there but they are there all right.

The United States possesses 8,000 active and operational nuclear warheads. Two thousand are on hair trigger alert, ready to be launched with 15 minutes warning. It is developing new systems of nuclear force, known as bunker busters. The British, ever cooperative, are intending to replace their own nuclear missile, Trident. Who, I wonder, are they aiming at? Osama bin Laden? You? Me? Joe Dokes? China? Paris? Who knows? What we do know is that this infantile insanity - the possession and threatened use of nuclear weapons - is at the heart of present American political philosophy. We must remind ourselves that the United States is on a permanent military footing and shows no sign of relaxing it.

Many thousands, if not millions, of people in the United States itself are demonstrably sickened, shamed and angered by their government's actions, but as things stand they are not a coherent political force - yet. But the anxiety, uncertainty and fear which we can see growing daily in the United States is unlikely to diminish.

I know that President Bush has many extremely competent speech writers but I would like to volunteer for the job myself. I propose the following short address which he can make on television to the nation. I see him grave, hair carefully combed, serious, winning, sincere, often beguiling, sometimes employing a wry smile, curiously attractive, a man's man.

'God is good. God is great. God is good. My God is good. Bin Laden's God is bad. His is a bad God. Saddam's God was bad, except he didn't have one. He was a barbarian. We are not barbarians. We don't chop people's heads off. We believe in freedom. So does God. I am not a barbarian. I am the democratically elected leader of a freedom-loving democracy. We are a compassionate society. We give compassionate electrocution and compassionate lethal injection. We are a great nation. I am not a dictator. He is. I am not a barbarian. He is. And he is. They all are. I possess moral authority. You see this fist? This is my moral authority. And don't you forget it.'


Saturnalia Rocks

I want to thank DrMax for reminding us all of the true meaning behind this holiday season. I think it is very nice of all of us pagans to allow you Christians to celebrate your holiday along with ours, even if you don't give us credit for many of your holiday traditions like tress, Santa, Yule logs and mistletoe. We're glad to share but it would be nice to be recognized.

I Wish I Could Vote in Vermont

There is an excellent interview with Bernie Sanders over at The Progressive. If you are not familiar with Bernie, he is the independent and progressive Representative from Vermont and is the likely heir to Jeffords vacated Senate seat in 2006.

Here are just two questions from Ruth Conniff and his answers. Read the whole interview and you will wish there were some more politicos with this kind of fire and no nonsense approach.

Question: What does Hurricane Katrina tell us?

Bernie Sanders: I think Katrina is one more indication of how inefficient and corrupt this Administration is, and indicates the absolute lack of seriousness that Bush has in making the government respond to the needs of the people. He is there primarily to give tax breaks to billionaires, to do the service of large corporations. This is just one more powerful, dramatic, painful example of the incompetence and lack of concern of this Administration. They are so separated from the lives of normal, low-income people that it never occurred to them that if you’re poor and have no money, no car, that you can’t leave. You don’t just get in your SUV and go to a nice hotel a few miles away.

Q: So what’s your message to progressives?

Sanders: We have got to change the political culture in America. We need a political revolution. That means we are working on politics not just three weeks before an election but 365 days a year. We have to develop a strong economic message which says every American is entitled to health care through a national health care program. And we’re not going to allow these large corporations to push through trade agreements which allow them to throw Americans out on the street and run to China. We’re not going to give tax breaks to billionaires and then cut back on the needs of our elderly or poor or kids or education. We’re not going to privatize Social Security—in fact, we’re going to strengthen it. We’re going to provide quality education for every kid in America, from preschool through college. We have to take on these corporate leaders who are selling out the American people, whose allegiance is now much more to China than it is to the United States. If we have the courage to take these people on, I think we can overwhelm Bush and his friends.


Do you remember how you felt when you heard that John Lennon was shot and killed in New York on this day in 1980?

This song is considered by many to be his most important and was voted the 2nd most popular single ever in the UK. The #1 song was "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen.
This was the last song played by WABC New York before it switched from Top 40 to all talk.


Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No Hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living LIFE in peace
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will BE as one
Imagine no posessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

Hat tip to Mustang Bobby

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Using Christmas

For two days straight the Atlanta Paper has been beating the anti "Merry Christmas" storyline. They have quotes from "good christians" saying how they are so tired of being singled out for persecution.

Hold it! Show me some persecution. Just because Target has kicked the Salvation Army of it's front porch and having it's employees say Happy Holidays is not what I would call persecution.

Somebody has just found another way to justify religious agression by pretending they are being persecuted. We can fight you liberal, God-haters and all rules are off because you broke the rules first by persecuting us.

I will guarantee you that the people pushing this agenda are not the same people you find sitting the pews every Sunday.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Civic Duty

I have a jury summons today. I have to report to the Fulton County Courthouse by 815 am this morning which means I get to hazard Marta. If you remember this is the courthouse where Brian Nichols escaped the balif and shot a judge etc. last spring. One would think that security might be approved. We shall see.
Not much blogging or surfing today except maybe from the BlackBerry.
Play nice.

Monday, December 05, 2005


I guess I am amazed that anyone with just a modicum of cognitive ability would find this news worthy. Come on folks...we are talking about the most corrupt, dishonest, incompetent and wholly unsatisfactory administration in the short history of this country. Is anyone surprised that we are being mushroomed to beat the band? What else do/did you expect from this bunch? Keerist!

WASHINGTON - Time, money and ever-present terror threats have done little to close gaping holes in the nation's security system, the former Sept. 11 Commission said Monday in accusing the government of failing to protect the country against another attack.

Hello Reality, Goodbye Oil

Juan Cole, as always the go to guy for the straight skinny in what is going on in Iraq and the Middle East in general has an excellent post up at Truthdig. The post covers in detail how the Shiite majority in Iraq has used the 2003 invansion to bolster and consolidate their power in Iraq and how ultimately the real winner in Iraq is Iran. If you want to understand the dynamics of the processes at play in Iraq you have to read Professor Cole regularly.

The Bush administration naively believed that Iraq was a blank slate on which it could inscribe its vision for a remake of the Arab world. Iraq, however, was a witches’ brew of dynamic social and religious movements, a veritable pressure cooker. When George W. Bush invaded, he blew off the lid.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Quiet Weekend

A reasonably quiet weekend for a change. Only Saturday was committed. We had a 2pm performance of the Radio City Rockettes Christmas program at the Fox that was very nice and much fun. We then killed some time wandering the new IKEA at Atlantic Station waiting for time for dinner. Dinner at Pricci, a very posh Italian place in midtown and home by 9pm. Sunday was sweat pants and shirt and catching up on reading and trying to charge the batteries. Did I mention the untimely and lingering death of a very nice old vine Zin?
I hope everyone had a relaxing weekend.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Preaching to the Choir

James Buchanan, old number 15, is getting pushed out of the Number One spot as the "Worst President Ever"

There are some numbers. The History News Network at George Mason University has just polled historians informally on the Bush record. Four hundred and fifteen, about a third of those contacted, answered -- maybe they were all crazed liberals -- making the project as unofficial as it was interesting. These were the results: 338 said they believed Bush was failing, while 77 said he was succeeding. Fifty said they thought he was the worst president ever. Worse than Buchanan.

This is what those historians said -- and it should be noted that some of the criticism about deficit spending and misuse of the military came from self-identified conservatives -- about the Bush record:

# He has taken the country into an unwinnable war and alienated friend and foe alike in the process;

# He is bankrupting the country with a combination of aggressive military spending and reduced taxation of the rich;

# He has deliberately and dangerously attacked separation of church and state;

# He has repeatedly "misled," to use a kind word, the American people on affairs domestic and foreign;

# He has proved to be incompetent in affairs domestic (New Orleans) and foreign (
Iraq and the battle against al-Qaida);

# He has sacrificed American employment (including the toleration of pension and benefit elimination) to increase overall productivity;

# He is ignorantly hostile to science and technological progress;

# He has tolerated or ignored one of the republic's oldest problems, corporate cheating in supplying the military in wartime.

Quite an indictment. It is, of course, too early to evaluate a president. That, historically, takes decades, and views change over times as results and impact become more obvious. Besides, many of the historians note that however bad Bush seems, they have indeed since worse men around the White House. Some say Buchanan. Many say Vice President Dick Cheney.

Hat Tip to AmericaBlog