Monday, January 31, 2005

Safe and Sound

Made it to the UK with only some delay...closed the airport in Atlanta down to only one runway so, coupled with the ice and other stuff we were three hours lated leaving. The surving my reintroduction to driving on the left and finding my way to Hampshire from Gatwick wa the next step.
No internet at the hotel but i have access at the may a post this week or two.

Saturday, January 29, 2005


Off to London for the week so activity will be light to nonexistent.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Good Speech by Ted Kennedy - about time

Senator Ted Kennedy has given a very impressive talk to the Johns Hopkins School of International Studies yesterday. It is decisive, pointed and a very welcome call to bring our troops home from Iraq. It is worth a read and has been released by Kennedy's office.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Chinese Bailing Out

From the World Economic Forum in Davos comes this tidbit. If you don't think this is serious -- have I got a deal for you!

Fan Gang, director of the National Economic Research Institute at the China Reform Foundation, said the issue for China isn't whether to devalue the yuan but "to limit it from the U.S. dollar."

"The U.S. dollar is no longer -- in our opinion is no longer -- (seen) as a stable currency, and is devaluating all the time, and that's putting troubles all the time," Fan said, speaking in English.

"So the real issue is how to change the regime from a U.S. dollar pegging ... to a more manageable ... reference ... say Euros, yen, dollars -- those kind of more diversified systems," he said.

"If you do this, in the beginning you have some kind of initial shock," Fan said. "You have to deal with some devaluation pressures."

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Kids Come First

I received an email appeal from John Kerry concerning the Kids Come First Act which he is sponsoring. Take a minute and add your name to the list of co-sposors.

It is totally unacceptable that, in the greatest country in the world, millions of children are not getting the health care they need. That's why this week John Kerry introduced the Kids Come First Act. Help him push through the Republicans' political roadblocks and take care of the 11 million children without health insurance.

Please co-sponsor John Kerry's Kids Come First Act by clicking here:

The Republicans will try to prevent this important legislation from ever seeing the light of day. Help John gather one million co-signers for the Kids Come First Act, and we'll force them to act or to admit that they just don't care enough to act. Here's why it's so important to do something now:

* 1/4 of children are not fully up to date on their basic immunizations.
* 1/3 with chronic asthma do not get a prescription for medications they need.
* 1/2 of uninsured children have not had a well child visit in the past year.
* 1 in 6 has delayed or unmet medical needs.
* 1 in 5 has trouble accessing health care.
* 1 in 4 does not see a dentist annually.
* 1 in 3 had no health insurance during 2002 and 2003.

Oh God!

Reports are coming in that a helicopter crash in Iraq has killed 31 Marines. Five other Americans were killed in two other separate attackes. This is absolutely insane.


Deeper and Deeper

If this is cutting the budget deficit in half I am glad they didn't promise to grow it! Well, at least they have the first part of the "starving the beast" plan worked out. Let's see them follow through now with the other part which will be election losing cuts in domestic spending. As Rich Little said at one of the coronation balls; "The War on Poverty is over and the poor lost." This brought wild applause from the crown--surprise.

From the Washington Post

An $80 billion request for additional war spending this year will push the federal deficit to a record $427 billion for fiscal 2005, and the government's long-term fiscal health appears to be only growing worse, administration and congressional officials said today.

Senior administration officials announced today they would soon seek at least $75 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan this year, plus an additional $5 billion to build an embassy in Baghdad, continue reconstruction in Afghanistan, offer assistance to the Palestinians and send relief to the Darfur region of Sudan. That $80 billion would come on top of $25 billion already appropriated for the war this year, pushing the total cost of fighting to $105 billion this year, up from $88 billion in 2004 and $78.6 billion in 2003.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

We May Not Have to Worry about Social Security

If I may distill the essence of this article--
If the global temperature increases about 1.2 degrees from its present level, about 10 years or so, positive feedback will cause a further rise of an additional 3 degrees very quickly. This rise of 5 degrees should be enough to cause large amounts of the icy methane slurry at the bottom of the oceans to melt. This will add enough additional greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere to ratchet up an additional five degrees, while simultaneously killing most of the oxygen using life in the oceans.

The last time this happened, 95% of the life on the planet Died.

Have a Nice Day!

No on Gonzales

Armando at Kos has the definitive statement on why Alberto Gonzales should NOT be approved as the next Attorney General of the United States. I agree totally. This man's counsel has caused the United States to prostitute the most basic tenets of our society, the respect for the rule of law and human rights. It's time to "fish or cut bait" and to paraphrase, you are either for respecting human rights and the rule of law or you're not. There is no middle ground on an issue this fundamental to everything this nation stands for. Making this man the Attorney General is condoning every report and every picture we have heard and seen from Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib and giving any enemy tacit permission to do the same to our men and women in uniform. This is a black and white issue there are no nuances--none.

Give Barbara Boxer a Thumbs Up

click on the link below and let Barbara Boxer know you support her efforts to take the Senate's role of "advice and consent" seriously with respect to the confirmation of Condi Rice.
Petitiion Link
Barbara Boxer:
"During the full Senate debate over Condoleezza Rice's nomination tomorrow, I intend to take the floor, joined by many other of my Democratic colleagues, to express my frustration about Dr. Rice's lack of candor during the confirmation hearings -- her unwillingness to level with the American people about the misleading statements she made about aluminum tubes, mushroom clouds, and connections between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda to try to justify the war in Iraq.

Condoleezza Rice refused to come clean about the actual number of trained Iraqi forces on the ground. And perhaps even more disturbingly, she refused to tell us why she personally intervened to kill an anti-torture provision in a recent intelligence bill."

Monday, January 24, 2005

Follow Up on What Me Worry

In another link from the Finacial Times we have some additional details.

In 2003, the most recent year with full international statistics, central banks financed 83 per cent of the US current account deficit, with Asian central banks accounting for 86 per cent of flows.

A similar picture is emerging for 2004. Despite a good start to the year, when the private sector was a large net purchaser of dollar assets, central banks came to the rescue again. The People's Bank of China has let it be known that China increased dollar reserves by $207bn (€159bn) in 2004, financing nearly a third of the US current account deficit, estimated at $650bn.

While I am far from an economist even I get jumpy at the thought of some other country owning 83% of us. Couple this with the previous post and you may begin to see that the energy is being stored for something big and bad. If memory serves I paid a $1.18 for one Euro in November and today(I just checked) it is a $1.31. That may appear to be ONLY 13 cents but it is a huge number.

What Me Worry?

Central banks are shifting reserves away from the US and towards the eurozone in a move that looks set to deepen the Bush administration's difficulties in financing its ballooning current account deficit.

In actions likely to undermine the dollar's value on currency markets, 70 per cent of central bank reserve managers said they had increased their exposure to the euro over the past two years.

Of course you won't see this juicy little item on CNN.

Here is the link to the Financial Times.

Fallenmonk is Cold

Well...Atlanta is very cold this morning 19 degrees F. I wussed on my walk this morning. It is too damn cold. I can put on enough layers to stay warm but it takes the pleasure out of it. It's bad enough that I have to walk in the dark but add bitter cold and a good stiff wind and yours truly wimps.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Just the Numbers Please

Alterman reminds us of the numbers and for the life of me I can't find the good ones. Then again, they aren't showing the wealth of the "fat cats" -- you know the ones who are making the bombs, bullets and Humvees. They are also not showing the tax burden changes for the wealthiest five percent of the nation either.

Poverty Rate
2000: 11.3% or 31.6 million Americans
2003: 12.5% or 35.9 million Americans

Stock market
Dow Jones Industrial Average
1/19/01: 10,587.59
1/19/05: 10,539.97

1/19/01: 2,770.38
1/19/05: 2,073.59

S&P 500
1/19/01: 1,342.54
1/19/05: 1,184.63

Value of the Dollar
1/19/01: 1 Dollar = 1.06 Euros
1/19/05: 1 Dollar = 0.77 Euros

2000 budget surplus $236.4 billion
2004 budget deficit $412.6 billion
That's a shift of $649 billion and doesn't include the cost of the Iraq war.

Cost of the war in Iraq
$150.8 billion

American Casualties in Iraq
Deaths: 1,369
Wounded: 10,252

The Debt
End of 2000: $5.7 trillion
Today: $7.6 trillion
That's a 4 year increase of 33%

Data from here

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Billmon is Back

Thank the Goddess that Billmon is back. I have missed his writings and insight horribly. Today it is just holding up the mirror.

Sounds Like Victory
From where I sit in Iraq, things are not all bad right now. In fact, they are going quite well . . . In the distance, I can hear the repeated impacts of heavy artillery and five-hundred-pound bombs hitting their targets. The occasional tank main gun report and the staccato rhythm of a Marine Corps LAV or Army Bradley Fighting Vehicle's 25-millimeter cannon provide the bass line for a symphony of destruction.
Lt. Col. Tim Ryan
Tacoma News Tribune
January 18, 2005

You smell that? Do you smell that? That's napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed for twelve hours. When it was all over I walked up. We didn't find one of 'em, not one stinkin' dink body. The smell — you know that gasoline smell — the whole hill. It smelled like . . . victory.
Lt. Col. Bill Kilgore
Apocalypse Now

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Don't Forget - Not A Damn Dime

Don't forget that tomorrow, Thursday the 20th of January is Not A Damn Dime Day. To protest the the war in Iraq and the administration as well. Do not spend anything tomorrow. Defer any purchases until Friday if at all possible. Money is the only thing this administration understands so let's take some away.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Symptoms of Fascism

A recent compilation of data from historic fascist states presents a list of symptoms that will alert one to the development of a fascists state. Laurence Britt uses the examples of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, Papadopoulos’s Greece, Pinochet’s Chile, and Suharto’s Indonesiav to create this list of fourteen symptoms of a fascist state.

1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism.
2. Disdain for the importance of human rights.
3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause.
4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism.
5. Rampant sexism.
6. A controlled mass media.
7. Obsession with national security.
8. Religion and ruling elite tied together.
9. Power of corporations protected.
10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated.
11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts.
12. Obsession with crime and punishment.
13. Rampant cronyism and corruption.
14. Fraudulent elections.

Nice list, but I don't think we need to be concerned around here, do we? Ok Folks, move on, nothing to see here.

Good Times A'Comin

The noted Liberal financial magazine Forbes has the following little tidbit.

"We are going to go through one of the most trying financial times in U.S. history, including the Great Depression," Schiff says.

"The basic problem," Schiff states, "is that Americans don't produce enough, and don't save enough." Indeed, over the past 15 years, the savings rate has fallen from over 6% to less than 1% in recent quarters. As a result, the goods that we are consuming are being supplied to us by foreigners. Not only are they producing the goods, but they are lending us the money to buy them, and, in doing so, are driving the U.S. deeper and deeper into debt to the rest of the world, Schiff says.

"We are using dollars that we print to exchange for goods that we don't produce. We have to borrow from abroad as there are no domestic sources of savings, so the value of those dollars will continue to fall."

How bad will it get? "Very bad," Schiff says. The dollar will fall a lot lower than it already has -- dropping by perhaps 50% against the Japanese and Chinese currencies. How will the government respond? Could efforts to forestall the currency decline have a perverse -- and ultimately negative -- effect? No matter what the outcome, Americans will have to consume a lot less and save a lot more. Spending on cars, clothing and electronics will all drop dramatically -- perhaps right out of the economy.

"The further into the future this starts, the worse it will be for Americans," Schiff says.

MLK Reminds Us

"This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans
and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane,
of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically
deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year
to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."

Don't Feed the Stray Cats

August updates an earlier post which I didn't link too because Atrios was already on it. He expands on what I was saying earlier though. We on the Left are just feeding the stray cats when we swing at these low balls launched from the right. August is right in that we should just figure out a way to ridicule them.

I think there are way too many times when we actually bother to entertain these attempts from warbloggers to feel much more important about what they're doing than they actually are. I think shows like Crossfire would have survived- and thrived- if people on the left just responded to Bob Novak by saying "are you fucking kidding me?" and staring his bullshit down with supressed laughter until he ran off the stage crying. Conservatives try to implicate the left for "lowering the discourse." They're not worried about us lowering- or raising- the discourse. They're worried that we might get a clue and stop engaging them in discourse.

We've raised Ann Coulter to new heights by trying to counter her. She doesn't care. Michael Moore is delegitimized by the Right by means of sarcasm and humor. Dean was destroyed by jokes about the scream. If Crossfire opened every show with "and look what that crazy bitch said today," followed by a shot of Paul and James laughing their asses off, Ann Coulter would be the leggiest assistant corporate attorney in Accounts Recieving right now.

The right-wing bloggers don't want to hear our rebuttals. The President doesn't want to hear the Democrats' counter-proposals. History will never look back on this time and discuss how changes were made through the art of rational bipartisan discussion. But I'm damn sure history has a chance to look back on this era... and laugh.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Simple advice on the Kos/Armstrong hoohah

Simple--Quit swinging at pitches in the dirt. As long as the left side of the blogospere (reality-based) keeps responding to these low pitches we are letting the right side control the dialogue.

Stop that! Your mother warned you that it would cause blindness and you already need glasses!

Is Screaming Allowed?

From Today's Washington Post

President Bush said the public's decision to reelect him was a ratification of his approach toward Iraq and that there was no reason to hold any administration officials accountable for mistakes or misjudgments in prewar planning or managing the violent aftermath.

"We had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 elections," Bush said in an interview with The Washington Post. "The American people listened to different assessments made about what was taking place in Iraq, and they looked at the two candidates, and chose me."

Well, I can see that I am not the only one just absolutely aghast and the unbridled audacity and delusional words of the village idiot.

Maha is quoting Walt Whitman

Josh Marshall is referencing Cheap Grace

Mustang Bobby has spit coffee all over the Sunday Paper

Oliver Willis is calling on higher powers!

These few in the first blush of Sunday morning surfing........

Friday, January 14, 2005

Hitting Fallujah Again?

How many times are we going to lose the Battle of Fallujah?

Sad Headlines

Doesn't it just make you want to leap up and lead the room in "God Bless America"?

From FinanceGates

US credibility in maintaining human rights is challenged by the report from Human Rights Watch, a leading independent watchdog on human rights, that demands the prosecution of Sudanese and American government officials linked to the mass slaughter in Darfur and the prisoner abuse scandals in the Iraqi Abu Ghraib prison and Guantanamo Bay.

The report issued by Human Rights Watch says the response to each of the scandals is crucial for the global fight for the protection of human rights.

"The vitality of global human rights depends on a firm response to each -- on stopping the Sudanese government’s slaughter in Darfur and on fully investigating and prosecuting all those responsible for torture and mistreatment in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo," it said.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

A Little Perspective

Via Hoffmania! : "200 armored Humvees with the best armor for troops in Iraq.
Vaccinations and preventive health care for 22 million children in regions devastated by the tsunami.
A down payment on the nation's deficit, which hit a record-breaking $412 billion last year.
Two years' salary for the Mets' new center fielder Carlos Beltran, or all of pitcher Randy Johnson's contract extension with the New York Yankees."

Passing on Thoughts as Promised

By E.L. Doctorow
The Unfeeling President
I fault this president for not knowing what death is. He does not suffer the death of our 21-year-olds who wanted to be what they could be. On the eve of D-Day in 1944 General Eisenhower prayed to God for the lives of the young soldiers he knew were going to die. He knew what death was. Even in a justifiable war, a war not of choice but of necessity, a war of survival, the cost was almost more than Eisenhower could bear.
But this president does not know what death is. He hasn't the mind for it. You see him joking with the press, peering under the table for the weapons of mass destruction he can't seem to find, you see him at rallies strutting up to the stage in shirt sleeves to the roar of the carefully screened crowd, smiling and waving, triumphal, a he-man.
He does not mourn. He doesn't understand why he should mourn. He is satisfied during the course of a speech written for him to look solemn for a moment and speak of the brave young Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
But you study him, you look into his eyes and know he dissembles an emotion which he does not feel in the depths of his being because he has no capacity for it. He does not feel a personal responsibility for the 1,000 dead young men and women who wanted to be what they could be.
They come to his desk not as youngsters with mothers and fathers or wives and children who will suffer to the end of their days a terribly torn fabric of familial relationships and the inconsolable remembrance of aborted life . . . they come to his desk as a political liability, which is why the press is not permitted to photograph the arrival of their coffins from Iraq.
How then can he mourn? To mourn is to express regret and he regrets nothing. He does not regret that his reason for going to war was, as he knew, unsubstantiated by the facts. He does not regret that his bungled plan for the war's aftermath has made of his mission-accomplished a disaster. He does not regret that, rather than controlling terrorism, his war in Iraq has licensed it. So he never mourns for the dead and crippled youngsters who have fought this war of his choice.
He wanted to go to war and he did. He had not the mind to perceive the costs of war, or to listen to those who knew those costs. He did not understand that you do not go to war when it is one of the options but when it is the only option; you go not because you want to but because you have to.
Yet this president knew it would be difficult for Americans not to cheer the overthrow of a foreign dictator. He knew that much. This president and his supporters would seem to have a mind for only one thing -- to take power, to remain in power, and to use that power for the sake of themselves and their friends.
A war will do that as well as anything. You become a wartime leader. The country gets behind you. Dissent becomes inappropriate. And so he does not drop to his knees, he is not contrite, he does not sit in the church with the grieving parents and wives and children. He is the president who does not feel. He does not feel for the families of the dead, he does not feel for the 35 million of us who live in poverty, he does not feel for the 40 percent who cannot afford health insurance, he does not feel for the miners whose lungs are turning black or for the working people he has deprived of the chance to work overtime at time-and-a-half to pay their bills - it is amazing for how many people in this country this president does not feel.
But he will dissemble feeling. He will say in all sincerity he is relieving the wealthiest 1 percent of the population of their tax burden for the sake of the rest of us, and that he is polluting the air we breathe for the sake of our economy, and that he is decreasing the quality of air in coal mines to save the coal miners' jobs, and that he is depriving workers of their time-and-a-half benefits for overtime because this is actually a way to honor them by raising them into the professional class.
And this litany of lies he will versify with reverences for God and the flag and democracy, when just what he and his party are doing to our democracy is choking the life out of it.
But there is one more terribly sad thing about all of this. I remember the millions of people here and around the world who marched against the war. It was extraordinary, that spontaneous aroused oversoul of alarm and protest that transcended national borders. Why did it happen? After all, this was not the only war anyone had ever seen coming. There are little wars all over he world most of the time.
But the cry of protest was the appalled understanding of millions of people that America was ceding its role as the last best hope of mankind. It was their perception that the classic archetype of democracy was morphing into a rogue nation. The greatest democratic republic in history was turning its back on the future, using its extraordinary power and standing not to advance the ideal of a concordance of civilizations but to endorse the kind of tribal combat that originated with the Neanderthals, a people, now extinct, who could imagine ensuring their survival by no other means than pre-emptive war.
The president we get is the country we get. With each president the nation is conformed spiritually. He is the artificer of our malleable national soul. He proposes not only the laws but the kinds of lawlessness that govern our lives and invoke our responses. The people he appoints are cast in his image. The trouble they get into and get us into, is his characteristic trouble.
Finally, the media amplify his character into our moral weather report. He becomes the face of our sky, the conditions that prevail. How can we sustain ourselves as the United States of America given the stupid and ineffective warmaking, the constitutionally insensitive lawgiving, and the monarchal economics of this president? He cannot mourn but is a figure of such moral vacancy as to make us mourn for ourselves.
The novelist E.L. Doctorow has a house in Sag Harbor

Just Love the Greed and Avarice....Not even trying to Hide it.

From the Washington Post:"President Bush wants to lower barriers to building nuclear power plants, and the lobby that promotes nuclear energy could not be happier. To show its thanks, the group has given $100,000 to help pay for his inauguration. ...
The nuclear energy industry's contribution is part of a record-breaking outpouring of corporate cash for next week's inaugural festivities. At least 88 companies and trade associations, along with 39 top executives -- all with huge stakes in administration policies -- have already donated $18 million toward a $40 million goal for the country's 55th inaugural celebration.
Wall Street investment firms seeking to profit from private Social Security accounts; oil, gas and mining companies pushing the White House to revive a stalled energy-subsidy bill; and hotels and casinos seeking an influx of immigrant labor are among the 44 interests that have each given $250,000 and the 66 that have donated $100,000 to $225,000. And the money keeps pouring in."

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Trade Deficit

How long do you think our trading partners are going to be willing to accept payment in dollars if our trade imbalance continues to soar?
A new record was set in October 2004 of $56 billion which was bad.
That record has now been shattered by November's which came in at $60.3 billion. This puts us on a pace to top $600 billion for 2004 which leaves the previous record of $496.5 billion for 2003 in the dust.
Oh the Humanity!

The Lie is Official

Well, it's official. There are NO WMDs in Iraq and they have stopped looking. Bush and company LIED , and now 1357+ Soldiers are Dead, 10,000 plus have been wounded and 100,000 civilian are dead. All for a Lie. Search for Banned Arms In Iraq Ended Last Month (

Friday, January 07, 2005

Moral Clarity

Bob Herbert distills it pretty well in today's New York Times.

"Americans have tended to view the U.S. as the guardian of the highest ideals of justice and fairness. But that is a belief that's getting more and more difficult to sustain. If the Justice Department can be the fiefdom of John Ashcroft or Alberto Gonzales, those in search of the highest standards of justice have no choice but to look elsewhere.

It's more fruitful now to look overseas. Last month Britain's highest court ruled that the government could not continue to indefinitely detain foreigners suspected of terrorism without charging or trying them. One of the justices wrote that such detentions "call into question the very existence of an ancient liberty of which this country has until now been very proud: freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention."

That's a sentiment completely lost on an Alberto Gonzales or George W. Bush."

What He Said--

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Nine More Today

Iraq Coalition Casualties
Nine American Troops Killed in Iraq
A roadside bomb killed seven U.S. soldiers in northwest Baghdad and two Marines were killed in western Iraq on Thursday, the deadliest day for American forces since a suicide attack on a U.S. base last month.
Do NOT let the American media cause you to ignore this. This should be on the from page of every newspaper in America and the lead off story on every new program. I'll be inerested to see where this big of news appears (if at all) in the supposedly left wing Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Update: 1/7 - Did make the front page of the AJC. Surprised..this is a change.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

The Libertarians Awaken

I have never read anything by Lew Rockwell and I can't say after skimming through his site that I agree with everything he says. Howerver, since being linked over there by Maha, I actually enjoyed reading this article.

The following paragraph particularly crystalized something I had in the back of my head for some time and that is--How come all these die hard no tax, no government and leave me alone to shove the Bible up my kid's ass are all of a sudden wanting government to do everything but wipe your ass?

"The vigor and determination of the Bush administration has brought about a profound cultural change, so that the very people who once proclaimed hated of government now advocate its use against dissidents of all sorts, especially against those who would dare call for curbs in the totalitarian bureaucracy of the military, or suggest that Bush is something less than infallible in his foreign-policy decisions. The lesson here is that it is always a mistake to advocate government action, for there is no way you can fully anticipate how government will be used. Nor can you ever count on a slice of the population to be moral in its advocacy of the uses of the police power."

While I agree with Maha on the last sentence--that you can count on government as long as you have the controls in place to prevent wackos (John Ashcroft) from running amok.

Another paragraph that stood out is the following and confirms my thinking on exactly what is happening. This concept was also very compentently handled by David Neiwert over at Ornicus in a very good 7 part series.

"In short, what we have alive in the US is an updated and Americanized fascism. Why fascist? Because it is not leftist in the sense of egalitarian or redistributionist. It has no real beef with business. It doesn't sympathize with the downtrodden, labor, or the poor. It is for all the core institutions of bourgeois life in America: family, faith, and flag. But it sees the state as the central organizing principle of society, views public institutions as the most essential means by which all these institutions are protected and advanced, and adores the head of state as a godlike figure who knows better than anyone else what the country and world's needs, and has a special connection to the Creator that permits him to discern the best means to bring it about. "

Finally, I want to point at a final paragraph that is refreshing to see come from these quarters and that is a recognition that we liberals are not a "clear and present danger" to the U.S. of A. but the emerging New American Fascism that needs trimming.

"What is the most pressing and urgent threat to freedom that we face in our time? It is not from the left. If anything, the left has been solid on civil liberties and has been crucial in drawing attention to the lies and abuses of the Bush administration. No, today, the clear and present danger to freedom comes from the right side of the ideological spectrum, those people who are pleased to preserve most of free enterprise but favor top-down management of society, culture, family, and school, and seek to use a messianic and belligerent nationalism to impose their vision of politics on the world."

There is also a link in the article to another on that is also a good read and a refreshing wind from the right. This is an article by Paul Craig Roberts asking what happened to the conservatives.

Economic Darwinism and Stability

Marie Cocco in yesterday's Newsday plunges right into the middle of Bush's "reform" of social security.

"So why does Bush want to create a crisis that doesn't exist and provide a solution that doesn't fix it? Because he is an economic Darwinist. In Bush's view, the financially strong should be helped to prosper. The weak should pay the bill."

Maha discusses the potential effects of the Economic Darwinism but I think it needs a little more airing.

I agree that the programs like Social Security that were spawned by the New Deal are primarily to insure that there is a safety net for those who don't get the brass ring. The intent being that a progresive and democratic society cannot function effectively when too many of the folks are hungry. At its most basic a society cannot exist when there there is too much difference it situation between the haves and the have nots. Too much potential energy exists and as the disparity grows this energy will reach an explosive level and something breaks. Revolution, civil war or something. The society becomes unstable.
My concern is why this is not getting any more discussion. Surely, the Bush folks know what the results of these actions will bring. I cannot accept that they are that naive and if they do know why are they doing it?
I have to believe that they are intent on de-stabilizing the country but I can't fathom the purpose.

Anybody have any ideas?

Resolutions For The Damned

Resolutions For The Damned / A new year, a Bush-gutted, storm-ravaged world and you in need of some juicy, heartfelt pledges
Mark Morford, as usual, is right on key and funny to boot.

Every article he writes is worth reading. If you don't subscribeto his email you might miss one. In the one above he gives some alternative ideas for resolutions. Below are the last two paragraphs which pretty much wrap it up.

"Finally and perhaps most importantly, resolve to do all this even as you laugh more vigorously than ever at the divine circus of it all, at the great cosmic joke, realizing that these next four years are going to be just shockingly painful to anyone with a heart or a whisper of raw spirituality or the slightest hint of true environmental concern.

And yet there you are, shaking your head and sighing and grinning mischievously and moving forward anyway, as you crank your own personal vibration as much as humanly possible because that, really, is all you can do, and all you can ever do, and it is so desperately needed right now I can't even tell you, and because if you resolve anything this year, resolve to realize how essential you are to moving it all forward, making it all better, bringing it all into more divine focus."

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Another Shell Game

The New York Times is reporting that the $350 Million in aid to the tsumami victims will come at the expense of virtuall all of our budgeted international disaster aid and famine assistance. The current budgeted amount is $384 billion for FY 2005 and the $350 mil will wipe it out.

Can someone in the pupply press ask one of the Bush toadies what we are going to do about the millions of starving people in Africa now that we are putting the food money somewhere else?

This is the most dishonest administration in history not to mention the most heartless.

Can anyone say "maybe it is time to rethink the 40 million I am spending on my coronation"? Maybe an additional appropriation?

Pile On

I would like to add my tiny voice to the thundering of Atrios, Wolcott and Digby, among others, who take exception to Andrew Sulllivan's stupid and thoughless comments about the soldier saying that he would rather be helping the tsunami victims than fighting a war.

"I'd much rather be doing this than figthing a war," - helicopter pilot Lt. Cmdr. William Whitsitt, helping the survivors of the south Asian tsunami.

As a veteran what really burns me is the following crap out of Andrew's mouth:

"I'm sorry but I pay for those soldiers to fight in a volunteer army. They are servants of people like me who will never fight. Yes, servants of civil masters."

Digby was right to quote Dwight Eisenhower--

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron." --Dwight Eisenhower 1953 speech

And attaturk adds an additional quote from Eisenhower

"I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can,
only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity"

People like Sullivan can really try my committment to non-violence. And people pay him for this crap.
Fuck You Andy!

New Depressing Milestone in Iraq

Iraq Coalition Casualties
The Pentagon announced today that the number of U.S. troops wounded in Iraq since March 2003 has now surpassed 10,000.

Five additional U.S. soldiers were killed today. Three in Baghdad by a roadside bomb and another in a roadside bombing north of Baghdad. A Marine was killed in action in the western province of Anbar.

This brings to 1340 the number of U.S. sons and daughters killed for nothing in Iraq.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Them and Us

In a short follow-up to the last post I think I need to make a further distinction between "Them and Us". I don't want anyone to accuse me of glossing over the signifigance of the last election.

The 51% that voted to "Self-Destruct" and gave Bush his "mandate" think that security and happiness is about power, dominance, control and fear. As long as you are in control and can enforce your will then all is well. As long as the other guys are afraid of you it will be OK. Additionally, they believe that our resources and ingenuity are limitless and that no problem in insolvable if you throw enough science, hardware or money at it. They believe in their greedy little hearts that our unlimited wealth and prosperity will command the world's grudging respect. You've heard Bush and company say that the terrorists are just jealous of our freedom and prosperity.

The other 49%--US, on the other hand, see the whole wealth and power trip as a false God and a dead end world view. Think about it! In the current state of affairs, with the actions of the last four years, we're making more enemies faster than ever. We value, instead, the peace and grace that comes from living harmoniously with our fellow residents on the planet. We also understand that everything is finite and the current hyper-consumerism, rape of the planet and ecomomic policies are insane and unsustainable. We know that there is TANSTAAFL (There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch) and that at some point we will have to pay for what we are doing today. As the man says--Pay me Now or Pay me Later.

No Light at the End of the Tunnel

The New York Times had a great op-ed yesterday by Jared Diamond, who won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies.
Diamond writes:

When it comes to historical collapses, five groups of interacting factors have been especially important: the damage that people have inflicted on their environment; climate change; enemies; changes in friendly trading partners; and the society's political, economic and social responses to these shifts. That's not to say that all five causes play a role in every case. Instead, think of this as a useful checklist of factors that should be examined, but whose relative importance varies from case to case.

You really should read the whole article but below are the primary lessons that Diamond teaches:

1. Take environmental problems seriously.
If 6,000 Polynesians with stone tools were able to destroy Mangareva Island, consider what six billion people with metal tools and bulldozers are doing today. Moreover, while the Maya collapse affected just a few neighboring societies in Central America, globalization now means that any society's problems have the potential to affect anyone else. Just think how crises in Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq have shaped the United States today.

2. Beware of bad group decision making.
There are a multitude of reasons why societies make bad decisions, and thereby fail to solve or even to perceive the problems that eventually destroy them. It sometimes involves conflicts of interest, where one group can profit by engaging in practices to detriment of the society as a whole. Another is focusing on short-term gain at the expense of long-term survival such as overfishing or irrigation to the point of salinization and sterile land.

3. Don't let the elite insulate itself from the consequences of its actions.
"That's why Maya kings, Norse Greenlanders and Easter Island chiefs made choices that eventually undermined their societies, they themselves did not begin to feel deprived until they had irreversibly destroyed their landscape."

4. Be willing to re-examine core values in the face of changing conditions.

Diamond brings all of these points together in an assessment of the U.S today:

Historically, we viewed the United States as a land of unlimited plenty, and so we practiced unrestrained consumerism, but that's no longer viable in a world of finite resources. We can't continue to deplete our own resources as well as those of much of the rest of the world.
Historically, oceans protected us from external threats; we stepped back from our isolationism only temporarily during the crises of two world wars. Now, technology and global interconnectedness have robbed us of our protection. In recent years, we have responded to foreign threats largely by seeking short-term military solutions at the last minute.
But how long can we keep this up? Though we are the richest nation on earth, there's simply no way we can afford (or muster the troops) to intervene in the dozens of countries where emerging threats lurk - particularly when each intervention these days can cost more than $100 billion and require more than 100,000 troops.

A genuine reappraisal would require us to recognize that it will be far less expensive and far more effective to address the underlying problems of public health, population and environment that ultimately cause threats to us to emerge in poor countries. In the past, we have regarded foreign aid as either charity or as buying support; now, it's an act of self-interest to preserve our own economy and protect American lives.

I think it is pretty obvious that we've lost our status as "leader of the free world," a position we still held when Bill Clinton was president. I really don’t think the rest of the world is thinking George Bush is going to lead us forward. You can look at the “dance of the aid promises” this week and see the evidence of that.

We can’t honestly say we are a super power anymore with our forces so stretched and demoralized.

We can’t point to a robust economy any longer and virtually every non-political economist of any worth is actually saying that the U.S. economy is going to crash soon.

In the last election, 49 percent of us voted for peace and sustainability; 51 percent voted to self-destruct.
The only thing that can save us now is a revolution and I don’t see that coming anytime soon. As they, get ready to hold on to your ass ‘cause the ride is going to be wild.

A Lost Cause

Did I forget to mention that we have lost this war?

From the Economist ( a day pass is available)

"There is only one traffic law in Ramadi these days: when Americans approach, Iraqis scatter. Horns blaring, brakes screaming, the midday traffic skids to the side of the road as a line of Humvee jeeps ferrying American marines rolls the wrong way up the main street. Every vehicle, that is, except one beat-up old taxi. Its elderly driver, flapping his outstretched hands, seems, amazingly, to be trying to turn the convoy back. Gun turrets swivel and lock on to him, as a hefty marine sargeant leaps into the road, levels an assault rifle at his turbanned head, and screams: 'Back this bitch up, motherfucker!'
The old man should have read the bilingual notices that American soldiers tack to their rear bumpers in Iraq: 'Keep 50m or deadly force will be applied.' In Ramadi, the capital of central Anbar province, where 17 suicide-bombs struck American forces during the month-long Muslim fast of Ramadan in the autumn, the marines are jumpy. Sometimes, they say, they fire on vehicles encroaching with 30 metres, sometimes they fire at 20 metres: 'If anyone gets too close to us we fucking waste them,' says a bullish lieutenant. 'It's kind of a shame, because it means we've killed a lot of innocent people.'"

James Wolcott talks about it too.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Year of the Year --1296

Fafblog says it best!

First of all we here at Fafblog wanna say that this year's Year of the Year award has been the toughest one of all to hand out. The contestants are all so qualified an you are all winners! So let's discuss the runners up for the most powerful and influential year of the year.

1938 was last year's winner and it put up a good fight this year too, with John Kerry as the Neville Chamberlain who would appease the Adolph Hitlers of Islamofascism. But who wants to see Hitler win every year? 1944 and 1864 were both hot contenders as years when we hadda reelect strong wartime presidents or else evil slaveholdin Confederate Nazis would overrun us an kill Abraham Lincoln! 1968 an 1971 were in the running on accounta the importance of what our presidential candidates did to fight terror in Vietnam. The Republican Party lobbied pretty hard for 1984, but the thing about 1984 is it can't define everything if you say it defines everything. And a darkhorse candidate was the year 1 AD for Bush-Cheney fans who saw the president as the rebirth of Jesus.

But in the end we had to give it to 1296 for its blase acceptance of torture, feudalism and theocratic rule. Congratulations an a Happy New Year!

Here is the LINK

Choose The Blue

Atrios reminds us that even the paltry amount of money can produce a synergy if we all pay attention where we spend it. The following site Choose The Blue let's you see how the company and it's employees spent their political dollars. If you have a choice in where you spend choose a blue or neutral company over a red one. Every little bit helps. I know I am shifting to Barnes and Noble and others that are blue. Home Depot is out, JCPenny is a no-no. etc.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy New Year

Let's hope that the next twelve months give us something to be proud of. This last twelve is not something to remember fondly.