Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Elevator Speech

Arianna has distilled what this election is mostly about down into a pretty good meme.

This election is about the fact that Republicans have made us less safe and that Congressional oversight is critical to ensure that Bush and company, with their tragically misguided decisions on Iraq and homeland security, don't make us even less secure over the two years they have left. Period. End of message.

There is, of course, a lot more to this election than the above but we really need to keep our focus on the biggest issue and not confuse the folks that in their insanity are thinking of voting Republican again. This is a good tight "elevator speech" and gets the most important point out there with little room for dispute.

What Me Worry?

As one might predict in the current political environment the Stern Report produced absolutely no reaction from the media and a wimpy email from the Whitehouse that basically said it was just another report...Ho Hum. If you would like to see some of the highlights keep reading.

Stern by the numbers
The level in the atmosphere of carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas, stood at 280 parts per million by volume (ppm) before the Industrial Revolution, in about 1780. The level of CO2 in the atmosphere today stands at 382ppm

£200bn, or 1 per cent of global GDP, must be spent every year to get carbon dioxide levels to "stabilise" at 550ppm.

This figure will rise as world GDP increases, and could be three to four times as large by 2050

40 per cent of the world's species would face extinction if temperatures rose by 2C

200 million people are at risk of being driven from their homes by flood or drought by 2050

6C is a "plausible" estimate of how much world temperatures could rise by the end of the century if greenhouse gas emissions are unchecked

60 million more Africans could be exposed to malaria if world temperatures rise by 2C

35 per cent drop in crop yields across Africa and the Middle East is expected if temperatures rise by 3C

200 million more people could be exposed to hunger if world temperatures rise by 2C

550 million more people could be at risk of hunger if world temperatures rise by 3C

4 million square kilometres of land, home to one-twentieth of the world's population, is threatened by floods from melting glaciers

35,000 Europeans died in the 2003 heatwave, an event likely to become "commonplace"

4 billion people could suffer from water shortage if temperatures rise by 2C

If the above doesn't move you to look back on the stolen 2000 election as possibly the beginning of the end then you might want to read the list again.

Monday, October 30, 2006

While You Were Sleeping

Thanks to this little story over at SF.Indy.Media.org, which by the way you will be hard pressed to find in more traditional media, we discover that that there was a whole lot more to Public Law 109-364, or the "John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007" than we were told. The President signed this massive spending bill on the same day he signed “Torture AreUs” bill.

In a stealth maneuver, President Bush has signed into law a provision which, according to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), will actually encourage the President to declare federal martial law (1). It does so by revising the Insurrection Act, a set of laws that limits the President's ability to deploy troops within the United States. The Insurrection Act (10 U.S.C.331 -335) has historically, along with the Posse Comitatus Act (18 U.S.C.1385), helped to enforce strict prohibitions on military involvement in domestic law enforcement. With one cloaked swipe of his pen, Bush is seeking to undo those prohibitions.

Despite the unprecedented and shocking nature of this act, there has been no outcry in the American media, and little reaction from our elected officials in Congress. On September 19th, a lone Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) noted that 2007’s Defense Authorization Act contained a “widely opposed provision to allow the President more control over the National Guard [adopting] changes to the Insurrection Act, which will make it easier for this or any future President to use the military to restore domestic order WITHOUT the consent of the nation’s governors.”[bold is mine]

Senator Leahy went on to stress that, “we certainly do not need to make it easier for Presidents to declare martial law. Invoking the Insurrection Act and using the military for law enforcement activities goes against some of the central tenets of our democracy. One can easily envision governors and mayors in charge of an emergency having to constantly look over their shoulders while someone who has never visited their communities gives the orders.”

A few weeks later, on the 29th of September, Leahy entered into the Congressional Record that he had “grave reservations about certain provisions of the fiscal Year 2007 Defense Authorization Bill Conference Report,” the language of which, he said, “subverts solid, longstanding posse comitatus statutes that limit the military’s involvement in law enforcement, thereby making it easier for the President to declare martial law.” This had been “slipped in,” Leahy said, “as a rider with little study,” while “other congressional committees with jurisdiction over these matters had no chance to comment, let alone hold hearings on, these proposals.”


The historic and ominous re-writing of the Insurrection Act, accomplished in the dead of night, which gives Bush the legal authority to declare martial law, is now an accomplished fact.

Welcome to the dictatorship.


Just in case you don't notice I have made some changes to the Blogroll. Welcome one new entry and that is Fred and company over at Mccs1977. Welcome Fred.

Sorry to have to say goodbye to Scriptoids but we haven't heard from Grace since early summer. We will miss her candid comments and bright observations here.

Somebody's Taking AL Seriously

A new report released in Britain warns that climate change will be devastating to the world economy if we don't do something about it:

The report warns unless the world moves to cut green house gases it is heading for a "catastrophic climate change" which would create the worst global recession ever seen.

....The review says failure to act early could end up costing between 5% and 20% of global GDP and render large parts of the planet uninhabitable with poor nations hit first and hardest.

Africa is likely to be most harmed by climate change and Sir Nicholas [Stern] says we have a "moral duty" to cut emissions.

Not only is the U.K. getting real, real serious about the very real threat of Global Warming but they have even engaged Al Gore to help the get the word out. According to Monday's Guardian newspaper: Al Gore has become an adviser to the U.K. on global warming.

Britain is to send the author of today's landmark review on global warming to try to win American hearts and minds to the urgent cause of cutting carbon emissions - as it emerged yesterday that the government has already signed up former US vice-president Al Gore to advise on the environment.

Sir Nicholas Stern, who this morning publishes an authoritative report on climate change warning that inaction could cause a worldwide recession as damaging as the Depression of the 1930s, will lobby politicians and business people in America at the turn of the year.


The government hopes the review will gain traction in the US because it focuses on the economic case for change. Sir Nicholas's analysis warns that doing nothing about climate change will cost the global economy between 5% and 20% of GDP, while reducing emissions now would cost 1%, equivalent to £184bn.

Things To Do

Have you wondered why we are not getting any substantive discussion of real issues in this election? Have you wondered why we are seeing nothing from the GOP but desperate personal attacks? Do you even know that the Democrats have an agenda which is being ignored by the GOP? The GOP is incapable of pointing to their recent history of control with anything remotely similar to pride and are likewise incapable of answering the Democratic agenda with something of their own. That is why you are not seeing any "agenda" discussions" or meaningful ads dealing with the real issues facing America. Everything on the Democratic agenda is something the GOP has fought against since they took control of our government and they now face the real possibility of having it pushed down their throats with a new Democratically controlled Congress. The Democratic agenda makes the GOP crazy but if the polls are anywhere near accurate they are going to see a new Democratic Congress:
• Put new rules in place to break the link between lobbyists and legislation.

• Enact all the recommendations made by the 9/11 commission.

• Raise the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour.

• Cut the interest rate on federally supported student loans in half.

• Allow the government to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices for Medicare patients.

• Broaden the types of stem cell research allowed with federal funds.

• Impose pay-as-you-go budget rules, requiring that new entitlement spending or tax cuts be offset with entitlement spending cuts or tax hikes.

Frightening isn't it. Congress making good on it's charter with America and actually addressing some of the problems that are strangling our country.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Lazy Fall Sunday

Hope everyone is having a nice Sunday. I took advantage of the extra hour and slept in this morning. Fixed a nice breakfast.... Hobo eggs (one eyed jacks) and sausage, and took a leisurely read through the AJC. I really turned out to be a pretty day though a little cool early and it was just perfect for a walk. Snapped this picture down the road and as you can see we are starting to see some nice color on the trees.
We know here that it is officially fall because Madam put the duvet on the bed for the first time last night. It was the new 100% silk one I bought in China and I must say it was nice.
See you guys tomorrow and don't forget the time adjustment. "Spring forward...Fall back!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Good Day for Soup

Updated: Added the picture of the resulting soup and cornbread. I really did make soup.

Well a rainy day here Georgia. Pretty much all my work is caught up and so I am catching up on all my backed up little projects. I installed IE 7 and Firefox 2.0 on both the desktop and the laptop.

I've also installed the latest version of Dragon Systems Naturally Speaking on the desktop and am now writing this post strictly by talking…amazing. The newest version of this voice to text program is quite impressive and so far in this document I have not had to back up and change anything that I have spoken...yet. Previous versions required you to speak slowly and very distinctly but this one is a lot more forgiving and you can speak pretty much normally and it required very minimal training(only about 30 minutes).

Madam is off on a tour with the Historical Society of Barnsley Gardens and it is a miserable day for such a journey. I think I am going to go to Whole Foods and get the ingredients for a nice pot of vegetable soup. I'm sure she will need something warm after spending all day in the damp tramping from place to place.

So, now that I've proven to myself that I can actually dictate a complete post with nothing but the microphone and no keyboard activity I will bundle myself up and head for the grocery.

When I get back from the store and get the soup started maybe I will sit down and get a little practice on the guitar in. I was thwarted yesterday afternoon when I sat down to practice and immediately broke a string (G) which is normally the string that breaks since it is the weakest of all. I didn't have any spares so after a trip to the music store I am now supplied with backups of all the strings and multiple copies of the G string.

If you guys are in the neighborhood this evening and would like a nice bowl of vegetable soup please don't hesitate to stop in. And Steve, this really is vegetarian vegetable soup since I use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth or beef broth so you are safe and welcome as well.

Oh, and another cool thing about the voice to text thing is that it doesn't misspell. ( I did type this last line.)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Please Let This Pass Us By

This is not a good thing. Via Crooks and Liars:

GlobalResearch :

There is a massive concentration of US naval power in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea. Two US naval strike groups are deployed: USS Enterprise, and USS Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group. The naval strike groups have been assigned to fighting the "global war on terrorism."

War Games

Concurrent with ths concentration of US Naval power, the US is also involved in military exercises in the Persian Gulf, which consists in "interdicting ships in the Gulf carrying weapons of mass destruction and missiles"

The exercise is taking place as the United States and other major powers are considering sanctions including possible interdiction of ships on North Korea, following a reported nuclear test, and on Iran, which has defied a U.N. Security Council mandate to stop enriching uranium.

The exercise, set for Oct. 31, is the 25th to be organized under the U.S.-led 66-member Proliferation Security Initiative and the first to be based in the Gulf near Bahrain, across from Iran, the officials said.
A senior U.S. official insisted the exercise is not aimed specifically at Iran, although it reinforces a U.S. strategy aimed at strengthening America's ties with states in the Gulf, where Tehran and Washington are competing for influence" Read on…

© Copyright Michel Chossudovsky, GlobalResearch.ca, 2006

(h/t ColibriMama)

Good Money After Bad

As you listen to the Republicans tell you over and over ad nauseum about how great the Bush ecomomy is and how great the tax cuts were for the country. Remind any who flaunt this as an excuse to even remotely consider returning any of these bums to our government about this.

45.8% of the benefits from a reduction in capital gains and dividends went to people with incomes over $1 million. There were 284,000 taxpayers in this income group. This is .19% of all taxpayers.

An additional 10.8% of the benefits went to people with incomes between $500,000 and $1 million. There were 593,000 taxpayers in this income group. This is .40% of all taxpayers.

17.4% of the benefits went to people with incomes between $200,000 and $500,000. There were 3,588,000 taxpayers in this income group. This is 2.46% of all taxpayers.

14.3% of the benefits went to people with incomes of $100,000 to $200,000. There were 14,039,000 taxpayers in this income group. This is 9.66% of all taxpayers.

H/t to Susie

The Mightly Wurlitzer

Update 1: Lance Mannion has a good take on this.

Update 2: Kos has the numbers that show the GOP had good reason to fear the Michael Fox ad.

It's always amazing to me and also quite disgusting to see the rapidity with which the traditional media fall into line with Rush Limbaugh's game. Rush Limbaugh's comments about Michael J. Fox were calculated to change the dynamic of the conversation and dialogue about the value of stem cell research and nothing more. The GOP is in serious danger in the upcoming elections and they cannot afford to let Michael J. Fox bring the stem cell issue to the voters in Missouri or anywhere else without responding. The only response they can manage (because the ads are true and accurate regarding Jim Talent’s opposition to stem cell research) is to change the subject. The media seem completely unable to realize that they are being played like a cheap harmonica, once again, by the mighty Wurlitzer.

They’re bound to recognize that Rush’s comments about Fox purposely exaggerating the shaking which stems from his Parkinson's disease were outrageous and ridiculous or that he purposely quit his medications to look sicker was simply a lie. They cannot be so dense that they cannot see what the hidden agenda is. While one shouldn’t doubt Rush's extensive knowledge of drugs, they should seriously question his leap of logic which boils down to… "doesn't everyone start shaking when they stop taking drugs" and the fact that it is not germane to those, like Fox, who suffer from Parkinson's.

Don’t forget to ask yourself another important question and that is why Rush even has to comment on the campaign ads in Missouri. Why? Because that is what Rush is paid to do. His job, which he admittedly does well, is to get this kind of ugly crap into the media and into the dialogue. Change the focus. Set up straw men and knock them down. He does this over and over. Pay attention folks! Can you not remember just a few weeks back when Rush pounced on child molester excuses to blame the House pages for tempting Mark Foley into his pervert shtick. This is what Rush Limbaugh does for a living and he does it all the time.

How is it that these vaunted “journalists” can’t seem to see the larger context around this attack? Do they all assume it is just another example Rush's ignorance. Do they think to themselves…Why is Rush concerned with Missouri? Somehow they are unable to grasp the bigger picture and bring these, at first glance, isolated instances into context with what is going on in the nation today. They should have figured out by now that Rush is a mouth for the GOP spin machine and that anything and everything that spews forth is a calculated piece of propaganda. Why can’t they recognize that the GOP is desperate to maintain control of the Senate? Do they not know that success in maintaining that control is going to be determined by a few races? In both Tennessee and Virginia they’ve fallen back to good old reliable racism, but the Fox ad in Missouri is dangerous in that it is accurate and Jim Talent’s position is clear. There is no other way to try and respond but with a hatchet job on Michael J Fox.

Rush has once again performed as required and the dialogue has been suddenly changed, Fox’s legitimacy and veracity are now considered legitimate to question, it is now OK to ask if someone suffering from Parkinson's disease is justified in making a campaign appeal or whether they are just being used to try and get more votes. Not only is Michael J Fox’s sincerity and desire for stem cell research being impugned but he is being treated as if he should have known better than to insert himself into politics in the first place because this is what happens if you do. Tragically, as Atrios pointed out yesterday, not a word was said by the mouth breathers a couple of years ago when Fox made commercials for Arlen Specter supporting his position on stem cell research. He wasn’t accused of faking his disease or being a dupe then because IOKIYAR.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Made in the U.S.A....Not!

We were shopping the other day and while Madam was busy perusing everything, as women shopping are wont to do, I took it upon myself to search the racks in the men's department of several stores for American made clothes. After considerable time in JC Penny and Kohl's I gave up without finding any garment made here at home. (I'm sorry Homeland.)

I got a little curious about exactly how much of the clothing we buy in this country is actually imported and started Googling. I only found one reference and that was in the transcipt of a "Daily Show" interview with Lou Dobbs on his new book War on the Middleclass.

Quoting Lou the U.S. imports 96% of its clothing or in other words, if it were not for imports we would all be buck naked. That is a huge percentage and while I suspected it was a large percentage I was floored by that number.

Just imagine how many American jobs that means and not just textile and garment workers but the shops and barbers and gas stations and restaurants and god knows what else is connected with manufacturing jobs in a community. Astounding!

We can't even clothe ourselves!

More Bush Boom?

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Home prices posted their biggest drop on record in September while sales fell for the sixth month in a row, a real estate group said Wednesday - the latest signs that the housing market is still weakening.

The National Association of Realtors said sales of existing homes fell to an annual pace of 6.18 million last month from 6.3 million in August, marking the sixth straight monthly decline in sales.
Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast a rate of 6.25 million in the most recent period.

The median price of a home sold in September fell 2.2 percent to $220,000 from $225,000 a year ago. It was the biggest year-over-year drop since the record 2.1 percent decline recorded in November 1990, when the nation was in recession..

The group's August sales report was the first in 11 years to show a year-over-year decline in the price of a typical home.

I don't have the interest to research the number of people that have interest only home loans or balloon mortgages but this is a bad sign for the economy. The housing market is a major component of the economy and when it is trending down there will be a lot of fallout.

Wow! We're Number 53

If you didn't already feel it in your gut we now have confirmation from the fifth annual Reporters Without Borders Worldwide Press Freedom Index, issued today, while the most repressive countries are still the same ones....


The United States (53rd) has fallen nine places since last year, after being in 17th position in the first year of the Index, in 2002. Relations between the media and the Bush administration sharply deteriorated after the president used the pretext of “national security” to regard as suspicious any journalist who questioned his “war on terrorism.” The zeal of federal courts which, unlike those in 33 US states, refuse to recognise the media’s right not to reveal its sources, even threatens journalists whose investigations have no connection at all with terrorism.

Freelance journalist and blogger Josh Wolf was imprisoned when he refused to hand over his video archives. Sudanese cameraman Sami al-Haj, who works for the pan-Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera, has been held without trial since June 2002 at the US military base at Guantanamo, and Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein has been held by US authorities in Iraq since April this year.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Stay What Course?

The weakness, inherent in this Whitehouse, is coming to the fore. All of a sudden "Stay the course." are damning words and Bush and the GOP are running as fast as they can from the phrase, even to the point of saying that they never said it. This sudden flip-flop, just two weeks before the election is a classic demonstration of desperation and fear.

The Washington Post today has a brutal front page slam at Bush's flip-flop.

...the White House is cutting and running from "stay the course." A phrase meant to connote steely resolve instead has become a symbol for being out of touch and rigid in the face of a war that seems to grow worse by the week, Republican strategists say. Democrats have now turned "stay the course" into an attack line in campaign commercials, and the Bush team is busy explaining that "stay the course" does not actually mean stay the course.
For good analysis of why Bush and by extension all of us are screwed when it comes to Iraq Josh Marshall at TPM has his usual keen analysis.
But President Bush can't and won't withdraw from Iraq because when he does, under the current conditions, he'll sign the epitaph, the historical death warrant for his presidency. Unlike in the past there are no family friends to pawn the failure off on and let them take the loss. It's all his. So he'll keep kicking the can down the road forever.

h/t to AMERICAblog

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Party of Abe

Shamelessly stolen in all it's truth from MandT at Adgitadiaries.

The Republican Party is the party of Honest Abe----Lincoln that is. We believe in three principles which are the core of conservative politics:

1.) Republicans support the protection of individual liberty and the Constitution. Based on Lincoln's opposition to slavery, we continue to work for the equal opportunity and rights of all citizen's except for gays, non-Christian's, uppity women, MSNBC, and people who might be terrorists. We are opposed to slavery, except for those countries who have oil and make cheap shit for Wal-Mart.

We believe in individual liberty and that's why we have changed the Constitution and did away with Habeaus Corpus (the right to a trial) because it has been a pain in the ass for nearly two hundred years. We know who are terrorists and they don't deserve rights. Besides, they are probably abortionists and Democrats.

We work for the equality of all citizens, and that's why we did away with equal opportunity laws. Why, Clarence Thomas, Condi Rice, and Alberto Gonzales are perfect examples of Republican opportunity.

We work for the opportunity of all citizens by exporting blue collar and middle class jobs overseas, importing cheap professionals on work visas so hospitals can make profits, except they are not and that's Hillary Clinton's fault.

We want freedom for all the world, as long as we get their natural resources, convert heathen Islamo-fascists to reasonable dominion and force them to live , well, like Christians. As old Abe said: "Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and under a just God, can not long retain it." (1859) Just ask Cheney---so there!

2.) Republicans support a strong United States. That's why we are losing the war in Iraq at a cost of a billion dollars a month, over 600,000 dead civilians, nearly 3000 American casualities, 50,000 wounded, and a brand new terrorist insurgency. But that's all temporary because Rummy says it will improve and President Bush doesn't smirk when he says Sadam did it and it's Clinton's fault.

We support the promotion of economic development. Why just look at the billions in profits made by the energy companies thanks to us, not to mention the thriving recovery of New Orleans. What's in your wallet? By ending the vitality of American manufacturing, we are ensuring that your children and grandchildren can get an equal opportunity job at Wal-Mart and MacDonalds.

Republicans are leading the war on terrorism at home and broad. You can just tell by the heightened alerts at election time, and by the fact that we have created tens of thousands of new terrorists in the Middle East so that we can fight them forever with your tax dollars and the lives of your disadvantaged children. We are saving a fortune by cutting benefits to our brave soldiers and their credit challenged families. Your kids will have as much opportunity to die as the rich kids have of going to good colleges and running the next government of Republicans. Is that American or what?

We also encourage policies that unite us as Americans rather than divide us along racial, ethnic or other lines. (Just kidding!)

We continue to pursue terrorists everywhere: The Internet, the world, outerspace, and your backyard. We have joined a coalition of nations such as Albania to rid the world of Islamo-fascists. We will not allow any terrorist or tyrant to threaten civilization, hate our freedoms, and will bomb the hell out of them with small atomic weapons (except for North Korea) if we feel like it.

3.) Republicans believe in a limited government grounded in Constitutional principles that support big business. That's why we have the largest government bureaucracy in history, are changing the inconvenient parts of the Constitution, creating an executive branch more powerful than Congress, support NAFTA and CAFTA to circumvent Supreme Court decisions against enviornmental disasters, support such principles as torture, and condone higher levels of mercury in our water supplies to get things moving along.

As Ronald Reagan tried to remember in 1988:

"We who live in free market socities believe that growth, prosperity and ultimately human fulfillment, are created from the bottom up, not the government down" . That's why we have exported all our manufacturing to southeast Asia and India, so that those countries can be like America.

"Only when the human spirit is allowed to invent and create----can societies remain economically alive, dynamic, progressive, and free." That's why we have one of the worst educational systems in the world, believe in Christian faith based science, believe that life begins with lust in our hearts, and therefore abortion is Jimmy Carter's fault and he's a Democrat.

"Trust the people." Particularly trust the people if they are base and born again. Rove the afterbirth demographics. Nancy Reagan told Ronnie that he wrote the above in 1988, but he forgot.

We, the GOP, must ensure that the ideas and character of all legitimate candidates must be heard. The Reverend Dobson says "No bastards allowed." (Just kidding!) We need to level the playing field so that only the very rich can run for office and pass laws to discriminate against the stupid poor who are obviously lacking in moral character or God would have made them rich Republicans.

We are the party of fiscal responsibility. We tax the poor and middle class and have amassed a huge trade deficit, hocked our assets to Saudia Arabia and China, and established a 9 trillion dollar federal debt. We blame it on the Mexicans, except for those who work cheap for friendly corporations. To solve the financial drain of illegal immigrants on local and state budgets, we propose to eliminate social services and social security. That'll teach em!

We are the conservative party and we ask for your votes to conserve what is absolutely the worst tendancies of human nature: hypocrisy, envy, betrayal, greed, perversion, fraud, theft, injustice, war, pillage, intolerance, and subugation. We know, because we are the Republican Party. We know the enemy and it is 'us.' Check http://demopedia.democraticunderground.com/index.php/Republican_Values . Keep close the enemy you know, rather than the one you don't. Right?

The Real Deal?

There is a lot of noise right now about Barack Obama running for President in 2008. I honestly don’t know that much about him, only glancing knowledge from a blog post here and there and an occasional news story. Evidently, at the Kennedy Library forum on Friday night, Barack Obama declined to rule out a Presidential run in 2008 and in an appearance on “Meet the Press” yesterday, he said in so many words that he was considering a run.

The fact that this is being taken seriously is somewhat telling about the state of our nation right now. We are desperate for anyone that is smart, attractive, sensible and apparently trustworthy to step forward and provide some leadership. I am not so sure, however, that Mr. Obama is the right man, right now. He may be capable of being a great President someday but with the country in the state it is in currently, I am looking for someone we will not have to train on the job. We need someone with heavy experience on the national scene, preferably having been in close orbit around the presidency. We need someone with experience at serious foreign policy and that has had to develop diplomatic skills in the real world. It has only been a couple of years ago that Mr. Obama was just an obscure state politician. His short tenure in the Senate has not proven his skills and frankly he has been unimpressive to date. If anything, our recent experience should tell us that we need to be a lot more careful about who we pick for President. We need to be real, real careful.

There are currently some serious questions in my mind about how committed Barack Obama is to the progressive agenda that I feel America is desperately in need of. While he appears to have a firm understanding of the problems facing America he has not yet demonstrated the willingness to make the hard stands and defend his beliefs on the floor of the Senate. His willingness to praise Bush and then turn around and pander the whacko Christofascists is very disturbing. He also has a tendency to come across as contemptuous of progressives and liberals. More than once his remarks are seen as talking down to the progressive left. The choice he made to not go to Connecticut and campaign for Ned Lamont was, I think, a serious breach of faith with the Democratic Party.

Another disturbing fact is that you are not hearing much negative energy coming from the other side. Why is that? It could be because the GOP would like nothing better than for the Democrats to nominate someone like Obama for the run in 2008. It would be very easy for them to field an opposition candidate with a deeper résumé, more national experience and foreign policy credentials than Obama. While the Republicans may be in deep guacamole now and most probably still will be in 2008, they could easily put together a ticket that would annihilate the likes of Barack Obama.

All of the above being said it might be a good thing for him to at least get in the mix for the nomination. We might at least get to see him debate his ideas and give us a better understanding of who he is and what he could really to for the country with a little more experience. My personal opinion is that there are just too many unknowns and way too little record for us to truly judge him. Maybe with a couple of more years in the Senate, especially if the Democrats can regain control, he could build a record of accomplishment that would tell us who he is. Not to mention that with a few more years of national political exposure he could earn some of the thick hide and mettle necessary to weather a national presidential campaign.

He could be the real deal someday only not today. I will give him one thing. He has been consistently against the invasion and continuing debacle in Iraq even as he was running for his senate seat in Illinois.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Creeping Fascism or Rampant

Mandt over at Adgitadiaries has a great collection of reading up. It is well worth your time to go through it and even follow the links to the sources. I found the following especially meaningful.

2.) Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration. Bush Has Achieved America's Demise: The United States as Defined by the Founding Fathers No Longer Exists October 11, 2006 http://www.vdare.com/roberts/index.htm:

Americans are too inattentive and distracted to be aware of the grave danger that the neoconservative Bush regime presents to American liberty and to world stability. The neoconservative drive to achieve hegemony over the American people and the entire world is similar to Hitler's drive for hegemony. Hitler used racial superiority to justify Germany's right to ride roughshod over other peoples and the right of the Nazi elite to rule over the German people. Neoconservatives use "American exceptionalism" and "the war on terror." There is no practical difference. Hitler cared no more about the peoples he mowed down in his drive for supremacy than the neoconservatives care about 655,000 dead Iraqis, 100,000 disabled American soldiers and 2,747 dead ones.

When Bush, the Decider, claims unconstitutional powers and uses "signing statements" to negate US law whenever he feels the rule of law is in the way of his leadership, he is remarkably similar to Hitler, the Fuhrer, who told the Reichstag on February 20, 1938: "A man who feels it his duty at such an hour to assume the leadership of his people is not responsible to the laws of parliamentary usage or to a particular democratic conception, but solely to the mission placed upon him. And anyone who interferes with this mission is an enemy of the people."

"You are with us or against us."

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Saturday Adventure

The first of what is to be 5 or 6 Trader Joe's opened up just a few miles from Monk Manor the other day and today Madam and I ventured to check it out. I have been in the Trader Joe's in Mountain View a couple of times looking for organic yogurt but never really spent any time there. Not much in the way of regular food but lots of goodies. The place was packed with people since the AJC did an article in this morning's paper about the opening and everyone was curious to see what it was all about.

I bought some nuts that were reasonably priced and found that they have the old fashioned peanuts (blister nuts) which are nice and crunchy but very hard to find anymore. The blisters come from the initial soak the peanuts get in boiling water to remove the skins before they are deep fried. The outside of the nut gets tiny blisters which add a lot of crunch. These are very good. Because of some of the strange liquor laws in Georgia they aren't carrying wine yet so I couldn't get a bottle or two of "Two Dollar Chuck" they are famous for to try but they say they will have it in the next month or so.

They have a lot of stuff you won't find in the regular stores like Sembei (rice crackers) and they seem to have a nice selection of dried fruit as well. I will go back when I am looking for interesting stuff. I couldn't get down the frozen food aisle and I understand some of their prepared and frozen stuff is super. That will get a review when some of the newness and crowds wear off.

Tonight is the annual Mayor's BBQ. Each year the Mayor picks a local charity which receives all the proceeds from the tickets sold for the BBQ. Our Mayor lives on a fairly large wooded track in a log cabin. His mother has a newer house nearby and that is where the BBQ is held. It is usually a good event and we'll see some people that we only see at these kinds of things. The weather has turned beautiful but somewhat cool and it will be perfect for an evening in the woods eating some pig meat and drinking some wine.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Legalizing Piracy Too

Please excuse the length of this excerpt but it is important to remember that not only have we lost our right of habeas corpus but we are allowing Bush and company to ignore the Constitution completely.

Edward Furey writes to Juan Cole:

Professor Cole:

You barely scratched the surface on the unconstitutionality of the so-called terror legislation. Beyond repealing habeas corpus, another grotesque violation of the Constitution is implicated in that legislation. The Constitution specifically forbids the passage of a “bill of attainder.” In the old days, when kings and others were not certain they [could] get a judge or jury to convict someone of a crime, they would simply declare them guilty (attainted) and imprison, torture and/or execute them. When Parliaments did this they passed a “bill of attainder” declaring the person guilty of a crime. What this recent piece of legislation has done is to declare a whole class of persons, “unlawful enemy combatants,” to be criminals, subject to punishment — imprisonment without trial and torture — at the discretion of the president. By the way, this does not exclude American citizens.

The Constitution also prohibits “corruption of the blood” which was another old tyrant’s trick in which the families of the attainted were also declared guilty of the crimes because they were related to the criminal. This provided a sort of pseudo-legal sanction for wiping out the families of political enemies, especially those who might succeed to titles of nobility – and seek revenge. By declaring the whole bloodline criminal, you get to kill women and small children whose murders would otherwise be distasteful. It is expressly forbidden in the Constitution. Nevertheless, punishment of relatives of the accused has also become United States policy.

The ban on corruption of the blood would seem to be violated by the common U.S. practice in Iraq of taking hostages and imprisoning people suspected of nothing other than being related to the suspect (the taking of hostages is also banned under the Geneva Conventions). U.S. forces held the two sons of the head of the Iraqi air defense hostage in Abu Ghraib until he agreed to surrender. Being imprisoned is a form of punishment for the person being held, hence the corruption of the blood. Once in US custody he was killed, in what the Army investigation called a homicide.

It is interesting that the current administration and Congress are descending into barbarities so ancient and so grotesque that most Americans have never heard of them. They reside banned in obscure corners of the Constitution because the Founding Fathers knew them well enough to forbid them. Nevertheless, they are there, and as Casey Stengel liked to say: You could look it up.

By the way, the administration is also on thin Constitutional ice in sending mercenaries to wage war in Iraq (more than 600 have been killed). Private persons waging war has a familiar name to it – piracy. And for all the sentimentality about “Pirates of the Caribbean” international law was practically invented to check piracy, and then extended to other matters. Bin Laden and gang are, among other things, pirates and subject to arrest anywhere they are identified on the planet, under international conventions.

Governments used to be able to authorize private citizens to wage war as privateers. These were usually ship owners, who fitted their vessels out with guns and went hunting for enemy shipping. To make what would otherwise be piracy legal, governments would issue letters of marque and reprisal, in effect authorizing or licensing the private person to wage war on their behalf. Privateering, however, was outlawed 150 years ago, in the Declaration of Paris, to which the United States is a party (curiously, no 150th anniversary celebrations took place back in April, when that milestone was passed – well, maybe not so curious after all). And, as it turns out, the Constitution also takes up the matter. Only Congress may issue Letters of Marque and Reprisal. It has not done so in this war. I don’t believe it has done so since the War of 1812.

This actually came up, slightly in WWII. Charles Lindbergh was working with Lockheed to extend the range of P-38s and train American pilots into efficiently flying over vast distances of water, as required by the island campaign. He went out on several combat missions and was credited with shooting down at least one Japanese plane. This was all kept pretty quiet at the time, because he was technically a civilian (FDR was still angry at his America First role and refused to reinstate him as a colonel in the Army Air Force), although I suppose if he had been captured, the U.S. might have been able to argue that he was also technically an officer.

As a matter of fact, there seems to be no legal basis whatsoever for Coalition Provisional Authority, either in American law or international law.

tip to Suzie

Puzzling Mates

Atrios reminds us of something that many tend to forget. It is easy to forget the fundamentals when so much righteous shit is coming down the pipe that you can't catch a breath without a mouth/earful of crap. Never hesitate to remind the Bush supporter you may meet that, by definition, Bush and Cheney and all their minions from Hell are terrorists of the worst type. At least Osama is up front about what his goals and true mission is. Bush and the GOP can only succeed in staying in power if the can continue to keep enough Americans afraid of the Islamic beast. It is the same tool used by tyrants since the beginning. Here is the nutshell of a thought from Duncan that you can keep in your arsenal of "elevator" talk for the occasional cretin who still thinks that they should vote for the Republicans.
The point of terrorism is, as the name suggests, to terrorize. Not simply to kill and destroy, but to frighten the broader population. It puzzles me why the RNC has found common cause with terrorists in their new ad campaign, and it puzzles me more why they want to highlight the fact that over 5 years after 9/11 George Bush has failed to catch the guy responsible.
I guess an Amen! is in order.

More Tragedy Bush's War

This really gets my goat. All we hear from the Bushies and the GOP is how we have to support our troops. If you don’t support the troops you are a traitor. The excerpt below comes from a story in the San Diego Union-Tribune and us absolutely heartbreaking. The tragedy is that this is not isolated to southern California. This is happening all over the country. Military families are having to turn to charities to survive while their loved ones are fighting Bush’s war of swagger. Some heads in the Pentagon and Congress should roll for this kind of shit. There is absolutely no excuse for it. None.

The women and children who formed a line at Camp Pendleton last week could have been waiting for a child-care center to open or Disney on Ice tickets to go on sale.

Instead, they were waiting for day-old bread and frozen dinners packaged in slightly damaged boxes. These families are among a growing number of military households in San Diego County that regularly rely on donated food.

As the Iraq war marches toward its fourth anniversary, food lines operated by churches and other nonprofit groups are an increasingly valuable presence on military bases countywide. Leaders of the charitable groups say they're scrambling to fill a need not seen since World War II.

Too often, the supplies run out before the lines do, said Regina Hunter, who coordinates food distribution at one Camp Pendleton site.

“Here they are defending the country. . . . It is heartbreaking to see,” said Hunter, manager of the on-base Abby Reinke Community Center. “If we could find more sources of food, we would open the program up to more people. We believe anyone who stands in a line for food needs it and deserves it.”

The base's list of recipients swells by 100 to 150 people a month as the food programs streamline their eligibility process, word spreads among residents and ever-proud Marines adjust to the idea of accepting donated goods.

At least 2,000 financially strapped people in North County qualify for food and other items given out at the center and a Camp Pendleton warehouse run by the Military Outreach Ministry.


Tip to Shakespeare’s Sister

Infighting Begins

The infighting has started and Former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) is going for the jugular and naming names. The New York Times reports that this is part of a bigger dogfight taking place in conservative ranks as everyone is trying to position themselves to best survive the fallout from the expected election losses. The fact that this is happening before the elections is very significant and also very telling. I’m kind of enjoying watching the wheels come off Rove’s little red wagon but I am not so naïve as to expect that he won’t go down without some nasty tricks. There is still a couple or weeks left for his “October Surprise”.

In recent weeks, Mr. Armey has stepped up a public campaign against the influence of Dr. James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family and an influential voice among evangelical protestants. In an interview published last month in “The Elephant in the Room,” a book by Ryan Sager about splits among conservatives, Mr. Armey accused Congressional Republicans of “blatant pandering to James Dobson” and “his gang of thugs,” whom Mr. Armey called “real nasty bullies” — arguments he reprised on the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal and in an open letter on the Web site organization FreedomWorks.

In an interview this week, Mr. Armey said catering to Dr. Dobson and his allies had led the party to abandon budget-cutting. And he said Christian conservatives could cost Republicans seats around the country, especially in Ohio.

“The Republicans are talking about things like gay marriage and so forth, and the Democrats are talking about the things people care about, like how do I pay my bills?” he said.

Mr. Armey also pinned some of the blame on Tom DeLay, the former Republican House majority leader, who “was always more comfortable with the social conservatives, the evangelical wing of the party, than he was with the business wing.”

Mr. Armey, who identifies himself as an evangelical, said he was tired of Christian conservative leaders threatening that their supporters would stay away from the ballot box unless they got what they wanted.

“Economic conservatives,” he argued, were emerging as the swing voters in need of attention, in part because they had become more likely to vote Democratic in the years since President Bill Clinton was in office. “A lot of people believe he brought us from deficits to surpluses, and there is a certain empirical evidence there,” Mr. Armey acknowledged.

I wonder how many of the true Rethuglicans noticed that Armey is basically saying that Bill Clinton took America from deficits to surplus while implying that that George Bush did just the opposite. Can you see the coffee spewing across the room? I am trying not to get excited about the potential for the coming mid-terms but it getting more difficult everyday. The GOP is self destructing before our eyes.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Homeward Bound

Finished up here in Tennessee and getting ready to head for the Memphis airport. It is a nasty day here with rain and low clouds and getting colder by the minute. I have already been notified by Delta that the flight has been delayed for an hour, so it looks like about 11pm best case for getting back to Atlanta. Probably won’t see home until after midnight sometime. The joys of travel.

Riverbend Has Returned

Great News! And I might add, somewhat of a relief.

Riverbend has a new post up...

It's very difficult at this point to connect to the internet and try to read the articles written by so-called specialists and analysts and politicians. They write about and discuss Iraq as I might write about the Ivory Coast or Cambodia- with a detachment and lack of sentiment that- I suppose- is meant to be impartial. Hearing American politicians is even worse. They fall between idiots like Bush- constantly and totally in denial, and opportunists who want to use the war and ensuing chaos to promote themselves.

She then writes about the Lancet Journal study on the number of Iraqis killed. Read the rest

h/t to scout_prime

On the Death of Habeas Corpus

If you don't do anything else today you really must take about 9 minutes of your time and listen to this short video of Kieth Olbermann and his condemnation of George Bush for signing the Military Commissions Act. Just do it.

Thanks to Steve Bates at YDD for the link and tip.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

This Is Remarkably Well?

Right Dick..this is a good trend!

A roadside bomb killed four U.S. soldiers west of Baghdad, the military reported Wednesday, raising the number of U.S. troops killed this month to 62...

Oh yeah more great news...

Just super Dick...I'm encouraged.

A roadside bomb killed a provincial police intelligence chief in southern Iraq early Wednesday, police said. The military reported nine U.S. troops killed in bombings and combat a day earlier, raising to 67 the number of U.S. troops killed in October.

I had no idea that things were going so well in Iraq. Thanks Dick, for the update.

h/t to Atrios

Madam's Birthday

Today is Madam Monk's birthday and so once again I get to wish her a happy birthday remotely. So Happy Birthday Madam! Enjoy your day and I apologize for, once again, being absent on your birthday.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Straight to Hell

I wish I had something positive to say about the fact that out faux President signed the torture law today. I don't and I doubt I ever will. This is argurably a major low point in out 200 plus year history.

Today President Bush took theConstitution and tore it up and pissed on it.

If one of my right wing colleagues ever wants to belabor me with talk about moral values again I will go ballistic. These are concepts with which they clearly don't resonate or understand. Most of all, if some "jumped by Jesus" freak brings up Bible or Jesus Christ in reference to this or anything else I will laugh out loud at their hypocricy. I know what they seem unable to fathom and that is that by their own standards they are going straight to hell for what they've done to my country.

How Low Can He Go?

How bad is going to have to get in Iraq before Cheney owns up to the fact that it is an unmitgated disaster and will haunt the American people for decades?
From Thinkprogress

Rush Limbaugh interviewed Vice President Cheney on his show today. At one point, Limbaugh asked Cheney to respond to growing frustration over U.S. efforts in Iraq.

Cheney acknowledged there is a “natural level of concern out there” because fighting didn’t end “instantaneously.” (Next month, the war will have lasted longer than U.S. fighting in World War II.) Cheney then pointed to various news items to paint a positive picture of conditions in Iraq and concluded, “If you look at the general overall situation, they’re doing remarkably well.”

Plutonium...Very Interesting

Well, the spy planes have confirmed that North Korea's nuclear test was, in fact, a nuclear event though a sub-kilo one. Atmospheric sampling detected radiological emissions which confirms that the test was a semi-successful nuclear explosion. Even more interesting was that the tests also showed that the bomb was made with plutonium and not uranium. This is an extremely important distinction for those familiar with the basics of nuclear weapons. What this means is that the bomb was made with stuff made before or after Bill Clinton’s term of office.

The New York Times explains:

The intelligence agencies' finding that the weapon was based on plutonium strongly suggested that the country's second path to a nuclear bomb — one using uranium — was not yet ready. [...] As president, Mr. Clinton negotiated a deal that froze the production and weaponization of North Korea's plutonium, but intelligence agencies later determined that North Korea began its secret uranium program under his watch. The plutonium that North Korea exploded was produced, according to intelligence estimates, either during the administration of the first President Bush or after 2003, when the North Koreans threw out international inspectors and began reprocessing spent nuclear fuel the inspectors had kept under seal.

Remember that in 1994 the Clinton administration threatened to destroy North Korea's fuel and nuclear reprocessing facilities if it tried to make weapons with any plutonium it might have had. The Bush administration took no such stand. Because the Bush folks were asleep at the wheel North Korea resumed working with plutonium and voila, we now have another nuclear state. Granted that even under the Agreed Framework negotiated under Clinton/Carter/Albright the North Koreans started a secret uranuium enrichment program but the bombs that these guys have now are the direct result of Bush and company’s failed diplomacy and NOT Bill Clinton's .

This from Fred Kaplan:

On Jan. 10, 2003, they [North Korea] withdrew from the Non-Proliferation Treaty. However, they also said they would reverse their actions and retract their declarations if the United States resumed its obligations under the Agreed Framework and signed a non-aggression pledge.

What explains Bush's inaction before North Korea crossed the red line--and its weak response afterward? Historians will surely debate that question for decades. Part of the answer probably lies in the administration's all-consuming focus on Iraq. [...] In January, a senior administration official told The New York Times, "President Bush does not want to distract international attention from Iraq."

Bottom line? North Korea is a nuclear state because Bush was so busy playing big man in Iraq that he ignored his responsibilities and North Korea and allowed them to become one. End of story.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Rainy Day

Cold and raining here in Tennessee. Looks like this weather will move east and get Atlanta by tonight. A very rough ride this morning getting into Memphis but we made it. Back at the client and back to work after a very productive weekend playing in the dirt. See you later when we get to the hotel tonight….if we can stay awake that long.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Is Bush Picking a Fight with Iran?

If you want to be depressed today then jump over and read this article by Chris Hedges on Alternet.

The aircraft carrier Eisenhower, accompanied by the guided-missile cruiser USS Anzio, guided-missile destroyer USS Ramage, guided-missile destroyer USS Mason and the fast-attack submarine USS Newport News, is, as I write, making its way to the Straits of Hormuz off Iran. The ships will be in place to strike Iran by the end of the month. It may be a bluff. It may be a feint. It may be a simple show of American power. But I doubt it.

Rove promised us an October surprise and these assholes are just crazy enough to do it.

Please, please let us get some sane people in the Whitehouse and fast.

Fall Day, Work Day, It's Time for Yardman!

The weather is too nice to sit inside and stare at the computer screen. I will blog later after it is dark. Meanwhile, I am going to spend the day on the grounds of Fallenmonk Manor getting stuff done. I have days worth of work to do and since Madam Monk has a wedding to go to today down south of Atlanta I am free to do as I chose and I chose to play "Yardman" who, while during the week plays a mild mannered service logistics consultant, on the weekends can accomplish amazing feats of household maintenance including tremendous feats of flower bedding, hedge trimming and brush clearing with occasional pauses for highly skillful and nuanced beer tasting. Later.

Cornbread Apology

I am afraid I created some hurt feelings when I didn’t invite everyone over for beans and cornbread last night. Sorry, so many people look down their noses at me when I start being wistful about “country” or “hillbilly” food that I am always surprised when people tell me they like it. There are so many food snobs around these days that you rarely find someone that will admit to enjoying simple victuals.

In apology for failing to invite everyone for dinner last night I will share my “top secret” recipe for buttermilk cornbread. I have been making cornbread for many, many years and fiddling with recipes all the time. I am finally finished fiddling as this recipe makes consistently good cornbread every time.

3 tablespoon unbleached all purpose flour

1 -2 tablespoons sugar (to taste or you can leave it out altogether)

1 and ¼ cups of preferably white, stone ground corn meal (not self rising)

1 teaspoon salt

¾ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda (you need this because of the buttermilk)

2 eggs (I use large)

1 cup of buttermilk

2 tablespoons of canola, peanut or corn oil for the batter (melted butter is good too)

2 tablespoons of oil for the pan(ditto on the butter but it will scorch even quicker)

Place a well seasoned 10 inch cast iron frying pan in a preheated 425 degree oven to heat up while you mix the batter. Have a couple of tablespoons spoons of oil set aside to add right at the end of preheating. You want the pan and oil hot when you add the batter but if you heat the oil in the pan from the beginning it may scorch if you are slow at putting the batter together.

Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Beat the eggs slightly and mix with the buttermilk and add the oil. Mix into the dry ingredients and mix well but don’t over mix. Pour into the hot pan. You should see the batter on the edges start to swell and cook immediately. Put the pan back in the oven and cook for about 20 minutes or until it is nicely browned on top. You will have to adjust your cooking until you get the bottom crust the way you like it. I like mine dark and crispy but some like it lighter. After cooking turn the cornbread out on a cutting board top down. It sometimes helps to give the frying pan a sideways knock on something to break the cornbread loose. Cut into wedges.

You can also make muffins and corn sticks with this recipe.

For variations on this recipe try adding a couple of finely chopped seeded jalapeno peppers or/and add a handful (half cup or so) of fresh corn cut off the cob(you can use frozen). For a truly southern style “cracklin’” cornbread cut about three or four strips of bacon(or fat back) into small pieces and partially cook it(until almost crisp so that you have plenty of bacon fat in the pan) in the preheating cast iron pan and pour the batter over the bacon bits and bacon fat in the pan instead of oiling the pan.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Beans and Cornbread

Fallenmonk is back in Atlanta and enjoying a crisp cool day. Gotta run into the office to try and get someone more expert to look at the laptop as I cannot get my application to talk to SQL server. I have run out of ideas. Always something when you change computers. Otherwise I am enjoying the new gear which a is new Dell Latitude 620 with dual processors and a whopping lot of memory and a blistering hard drive. It is nice when you have such large data intensive apps as I do.

In honor of the cool change in the weather I have started a pot of pinto beans cooking this morning in the slow cooker. Cooking them the old fashioned way with just some onion, garlic, bay and salt and pepper. Also have a few scraps of country ham that will go in for some flavor. They should be done by the time I get back from the office this afternoon. Then it will be a nice pan of buttermilk cornbread and a chance to try some of that home canned chowchow I purchased at the Turning and Burning last weekend. I can hardly wait.

More action here this afternoon just checking in for now.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Week Nearly Over

Another week in Ripley, Tn is nearly over. One more week and my part of this project will be complete and I can move on to other fun and games. We are even slightly ahead of schedule so we may be even to finish up in two days next week. I don't have any silver bullets to leave behind but I am searching for ideas.
Traveling this evening so it might be a bit quiet here until tomorrow morning sometime. At least the cold front has moved through and air travel should be reasonably uneventful this evening. Not a prediction just a hope.

Official Policy - DCOW

This in an official confirmation of what has been an unspoken rule here at Fallenmonk. I am joining Steve Audio and Lambert of Correntewire as an official supporter of the DCOW policy.

Don't Click On Wingnuts. Every time you click through to a Right-Wing website or a Winger pundit's web page, you increase the value of advertising on that site. The link is there for reference, but don't click on it, if you can help it. Definitely don't click on their ads. It only helps their bottom line and thus is forbidden.

Why Is Gas So Cheap?

Is the veil lifting? Are the rubes starting to smell the stench oozing from DC? It appears that this may be the case. According to this Washington Post-ABC News poll, the leading answer is "upcoming election/political reasons." Do you think the public suspects the administration with it's ties to Big Oil? It wasn't that long ago that the public bought every load of crap the administration peddled but it seems they are becoming a little more discriminating. One can only hope that this is just another symptom of the collapse of the current regime and the Rovian lies that have been spilling out of DC for the last six years.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Losing Our Souls

I'm sorry I have to post these things but it is important that this information is inserted into the WWW at full volume and that means multiple posts on multiple blogs. This is so absolutely depressing and frustrating.
First, the Army announces it is planning to keep a force of 120,000 in Iraq for the next four years. That's 2010 folks.

Couple this bad news with the continuing horror that is coming out of Iraq on a daily basis and it all synergizes into a terrible nightmare. In the last 24 hours 110 bodies that have been tortured and then murdered were found in Bagdhad. Couple this with the dozens killed in bombings in the last two days and you are just dumbfounded.

Now we have a report in Lancet that the U.S. invasion of Iraq has been the cause of around 600,000 additional deaths of civilians in Iraq over what the normal mortality would have been.

This flood of bad news is numbing and when we hear it day in and day out it desensitizes us to the horrible reality that is Iraq today and that we as Americans are wholly and completely responsible for. Regardless of whether or not you voted for Bush, if you consider yourself an American then, I'm sorry, but you broke it and you own it. If you stop and consider it soberly you cannot but be devastated emotionally.

If there is a higher being then I hope she is merciful.

If Lying - Blame Bill

As Steve Bates says over at Yellow Doggerel Democrat John McCain Is A Lying Bastard

Here is John McCain lying his ass off.

"I would remind Senator Clinton and other Democrats critical of Bush administration policies that the framework agreement her husband's administration negotiated was a failure," McCain said in a speech near Detroit, where he was campaigning for a Republican Senate candidate. "Every single time the Clinton administration warned the Koreans not to do something -- not to kick out the IAEA inspectors, not to remove the fuel rods from their reactor -- they did it. And they were rewarded every single time by the Clinton administration with further talks."

Josh Marshall has the facts.

The 1994 crisis came about because the North Koreans were producing weapons-grade plutonium. Under the Agreed Framework, they agreed to shutter the plutonium production facility and put the already produced plutonium under international oversight.

In return, the US promised aide [sic], help building lightwater reactors (which don't help with bombs) and diplomatic normalization.

That agreement kept the plutonium operation on ice until the end of 2002.

President Bush came to office wanting to pull out of the agreement and did so when evidence surfaced suggesting that the North Koreans were secretly trying to enrich uranium (a separate path to the bomb).

The bomb that went off yesterday was made with plutonium, the same stuff that was off-limits from 1994-2002. In all likelihood some of the same stuff that was on ice from 1994-2002.


A good rule of thumb to keep you from taking anything a Republican says seriously is to remember one important fact:


Go read Steve at YDD and Josh Marshall over at TPM for the facts.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Fingers Crossed

In a rush this morning as I overslept a little. Those Monday mornings having to be up at 0330 to make the early flight to Memphis sure to take it out of the old man. Anyhow, slept like a rock and feel like I might be able to make it through the day. The cotton harvest is underway here in western Tennessee and the highways are littered with little cotton balls. It sure seems like they lose a lot in the harvest because there is also a lot left in the fields after the machines pass through. It is very odd to see the large rectangular bails of cotton in the field waiting to go to the gin. Looks like giant pillows all lined up.

Checking the news this morning shows that Rove is pulling out the same old playboook. Once again there is no crisis the GOP won't attempt to exploit for partisan gain.

...the White House plans to amplify national security issues, especially the threat of terrorism, after North Korea's reported nuclear test, in hopes of shifting the debate away from casualties and controversy during the final month of the campaign. These efforts are aimed largely at prodding disaffected conservatives to vote for GOP candidates despite their unease.

The article notes that the GOP expects to lose as few as 7, and as many as 30, seats in the House. The Democratss need 15 to take back Congress.

In a sign the political environment is getting worse for Republicans, political handicapper Charlie Cook now lists 25 GOP-held seats as a tossup -- seven more than before the Foley scandal broke Sept. 29. Stuart Rothenberg, a nonpartisan expert on House races, has raised to nine the number of GOP seats tilting Democratic or likely to switch hands.
Let's keep our fingers and toes crossed that the upper limits of those estimates are closer to the truth. We need to put the brakes on this mess right now.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Time for Caesar

Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar. – Julius Caesar

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Thank You Lt. Cmdr. Swift

I want to echo Christy's hearty thank you and well done to Lt. Cmdr Charles Swift.

Here is what what you get by being honorable and competent in the Bush administration. Try and do your job as a defense attorney and uphold the defendent's rights and you are punished.

As a reward for doing his job well, for upholding and defending the Constitution and the rule of law, and for diligently representing his client, Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift has been denied promotion by the US Navy, effectively ending his career in the military.

You see Lt. Cmdr. Swift was the one to draw the Hamdan case and since he is a man of integrity he did it well even if that meant going against the DOJ and the Whitehouse and their desire to rule by dictatorship.

When you are in George Bush and Don Rumsfeld's Pentagon, doing your job superbly and being committed to truth and the Constitution over political expediency gets you cashiered out of the service. The Navy and the JAG corps should be ashamed and will be the worse for it.

Not so Fast

This is my version of a post by Scout_Prime over at First Draft

The Dept. of Homeland Security bill that was recently passed and signed by Bush in Arizona with much hoopla is another example of GOP bait and switch on the part of the GOP and the President. Included in the legislation were rules that were supposed to begin addressing the problems with FEMA management that led to the Katrina disaster.

Below are some of the key provisions that Congress included and the first two were considered the very important.

  • The FEMA administrator would be the chief Presidential advisor for emergency management;
  • the administrator... would be required to have emergency management experience;
  • Strengthen FEMA’s regional task forces
  • Provide additional assistance for individuals and communities that are struck by disaster, including allowing FEMA more flexibility in the types of housing it can provide to disaster victims in order to find more cost-effective alternatives to the widely criticized trailers.

Granted that this was a compromise bill and as such didn’t go as far in doing what many experts thought should be done, and that is take FEMA out of DHS and the agency head made a Cabinet level position. The bill did, however, try to increase the stature and power of the head of FEMA which is at least a step in the right direction. But what did Bush do on October 4, 2006?

He attached a signing agreement that effectively re-writes all of the key sections of the law. If you think Bush and his cronies are concerned about our safety then this latest stunt should convince you otherwise. This signing statement, like all the rest, was meant to maintain the increased powers of the executive branch. Bush is going to use his vast wisdom as the unitary executive once again and to use his judgment to interpret and apply the law" with regard to…

· Higher standards of qualifications and experience for the Head of FEMA [section 503(c)(2)] enacted so we wouldn’t see the likes of another “Great Job Brownie”
Not so fast--that would "limit the qualifications of the pool of persons from whom the President may select"

· The head of FEMA is to be the Principal Advisor on emergency management [section 503(c)(4)]
Wrong again!

· Head of FEMA reporting to Congress on whether….
1) additional authority is needed to prepare and deploy response strike teams [section 507(f)(6)]
2)additional authority is needed to continue or make permanent the housing pilot program or make recommendations on such [section 689i(a)(4)(B)(iv). Also public assistance pilot program [689j(b)(2)(E)]

Whoops!--no consulting with Congress about your authority or better housing than FEMA trailers. Instead the President shall “recommend for congressional consideration such measures as the President shall judge necessary and expedient.”

· Or that the President would “act through” the head of FEMA in regard to a national preparedness goal, [section 643] or developing a national preparedness system [section 644] or establishing emergency response teams.[section 633]
Nope…I’m the decider and I don’t act through anyone.

Why did Congress waste all this time conducting months of hearings investigating how our federal government could screwed up so badly in its response to Hurricane Katrina. Even if they did compromise on the expert recommendations they at least moved in right direction only to be virtually ignored by the President. How many years left?

Below are some links if you would like to read for yourself.

Presidential Signing Statement on H.R. 5441, the "Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2007


h/t to Scout_Prime

Fooled Again

You have to wonder how long the GOP base is going to continue to fall for the "bait and switch" that the GOP Congress keeps pulling. In the big rush to "cater" to the base on immigration the GOP pushed through the much vaunted wall across the southern border so that they could go back to their districts and say "See what I did to stop the hordes from coming across the border and taking your job." How many of the loyal GOP voters will read far enough to realize that it was all a shell game and that the "great wall" is no closer to reality than it has ever been. From the Washington Post.

No sooner did Congress authorize construction of a 700-mile fence on the U.S.-Mexico border last week than lawmakers rushed to approve separate legislation that ensures it will never be built....

Shortly before recessing late Friday, the House and Senate gave the Bush administration leeway to distribute the money to a combination of projects — not just the physical barrier along the southern border. The funds may also be spent on roads, technology and "tactical infrastructure" to support the Department of Homeland Security's preferred option of a "virtual fence."

....In this case, it also reflects political calculations by GOP strategists that voters do not mind the details, and that key players — including the administration, local leaders and the Mexican government — oppose a fence-only approach, analysts said.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Bad Burger

The Monk's Mom called tonight in a tizzy about the 10 pounds of burger she bought yesterday. She evidently caught a drive by from FAUX News and was concerned. I reassured her that the ground beef she bought from Wade's market(where they grind their own) was perfectly safe especially if you cooked it. She said she had already made chili out of three pounds and did I think it was ok to eat. Yes Mom it is safe...cooking(as in chili) kills e-coli so you are gold. You bought this at Wades so this is really not a local problem for you. The burger involved is from Nebraska and is labeled organic. You are cool.
Then she started in praising Wal-Mart for lowering drug costs. I said "great Mom say good bye to your local pharmacy" and God forbid you need some drug that Wal-Mart has decided not to stock. It glided across her like nothing and she asked if I knew when Wally World would start selling all drugs for $4.00 a prescription. No Mom I don't...thank you.

Finally, Camera

Finally, I have my camera back. The Turning and Burning was fun as usual but I managed to avoid buying more pottery. I did acquire a pint of Hot Tomato Relish and a pint of Hot Chow Chow though. Can't wait to have time to cook a big pot of slow cooked beans and get into some of the Chow Chow.
Anyhow, I promised a picture of the white jade dragon I bought in China when I got the camera back so here it is. Lovely.

Country Time

Off to the annual Turning and Burning at the Hewell Family pottery in Gillsville, GA. See some potters, buy more pottery, look at the antique tractors, eat some BBQ and pinto beans and buy some home canned pickles and stuff. Always interesting and gets bigger every year.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Another Piece of My Heart

As Steve Audio says, yesterday was a sad day in American rock history:
Janis Lyn Joplin (January 19, 1943October 4, 1970) was an American blues-influenced rock singer and occasional songwriter with a highly distinctive voice. Joplin released four albums as the frontwoman for several bands from 1967 to a posthumous release in 1971.

I was lucky enought to see the lady twice, once at the Fillmore in SFO and then again at Winterland in SFO. This was while I was stationed at Mare Island in my Navy days. I believe it was 1967 and the first time Big Brother shared the bill with Quicksilver Messenger Service. The second time was a benefit and Big Brother was joined by Jefferson Airplance, Quicksilver and the Grateful Dead among others. Steve has a great post up about his memories of the time.

Not all Bad

Monk is snug at home in Altanta. Uneventful travel for a change. I was reading in the USA Today rag this morning that August was the worst month for airline baggage handling in history with an average of 14,000 bags misplaced a day. I am the proud owner of two of those.
In a previous post I might have maligned the culinary environment in Dyersburg, TN with my less that positive review/warning about the Catfish Galley. I must say that the burg renewed my confidence in my fellow man last night as we tried a new place "Dusty Joe's". I was very impressed and trust me, I am one cranky/pickly SOB.
Anyhow, Dusty's had a nice balanced menu with several choices from the different fauna that are normally killed and eaten by us humans, they even had frog's legs. Bottom line is the food was good and the fish was fresh and the fried pickles and lovely japepeno appetite.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

End of the Week

Last day at the client this week and we are on schedule still. Looks like we will be able to finish this engagement in the next two weeks. Traveling back to Atlanta tonight so it will be a little quiet here for today. Tomorrow might be quiet too as I have to trade in my current laptop for a newer one and that could take the better part of a day. We shall see.

Shoot-Then Think

It is really interesting watching the GOP leadership demonstrate how NOT to handle a crisis. Their handling of the Fordham resignation was a classic. They managed to turn a person willing to resign and stay silent into their worst nightmare, instantly.

I must say that I am distressed at much of the news cycle this story is controlling. There is a lot of important information being pushed out of the news as a result.

The United States and allies cannot resolve the current sectarian violence in Iraq, former Secretary of State Colin Powell said today during a lecture in Minneapolis.


In Iraq, "staying the course isn't good enough because a course has to have an end," Powell said...In the U.S. today, a challenge the war poses is a question of whether an essential "bond of trust that must exist within a nation...has been shaken," he said. The extent of the damage to trust will be measured in the November elections, he said.

The situation in Iraq is turning worse by the day and will only continue to worsen.

Two months after a security crackdown began in the capital, U.S. military deaths appear to be rising, even as fatalities among Iraqi security forces have fallen, U.S. military sources and analysts said.

The U.S. military Tuesday revised to eight its count of American deaths in the capital on Monday, the highest daily toll in a month. In September, 74 U.S. troops died nationwide, about a third of them in Baghdad, according to the military.