Saturday, June 04, 2005

Going, going ......

Kevin Drum has completed a five part series on peak oil, available at the Washington Monthly online. Links to each part, and a sentence or two summary, are here. The series is an excellent look at the problem. His prognosis is rosier than the facts warrant, in my opinion, and certainly far more optimistic than the pictures James Kunstler paints on his blog and in his new book, The Long Emergency. However, both Kunstler and Drum pretty much agree on the diagnosis.

(Don't worry. Thanks largely to working class soldiers and the prerogatives of wealth, there will always be enough oil for Bush and the 145,000 ultra rich. We’ll make do with what trickles down.)

Most of us are livestock

You don't know whether to laugh, cry or spit when you know, and even like, working people who voted for Bush.

From the New York Times

...The share of the nation's income earned by those in this uppermost category has more than doubled since 1980, to 7.4 percent in 2002. The share of income earned by the rest of the top 10 percent rose far less, and the share earned by the bottom 90 percent fell. ...

...The Bush administration tax cuts stand to widen the gap between the hyper-rich and the rest of America. The merely rich, making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, will shoulder a disproportionate share of the tax burden.

President Bush said during the third election debate last October that most of the tax cuts went to low- and middle-income Americans. In fact, most - 53 percent - will go to people with incomes in the top 10 percent over the first 15 years of the cuts, which began in 2001 and would have to be reauthorized in 2010. And more than 15 percent will go just to the top 0.1 percent, those 145,000 taxpayers. ...

To those 145,000 hyper rich we are livestock raised to fight their wars, provide cheap labor and healthy organs for transplants.

What a country.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Aluminum siding

Wolcott opens with these paragraphs

Donald Rumsfeld, whose Steely Resolve more and more resembles aluminum siding, is a man unafraid of confronting the full spectrum of America's enemies from Al Qaeda to Amnesty International. Some say he is too zealous in defending our freedom. Too candid. Too cocksure. Too unwilling to accept counsel and criticism. Too wedded to his overriding vision of military transformation.

Those some sayers are right.

And then quotes from this article that begins with these paragraphs

Wreck It and Run
by William S. Lind
Among the many unhappy developments in American industry in recent decades has been the advent of "wreck it and run" management. A small coterie of senior managers takes over a company and makes a brilliant show of short-term profits while actually driving the business into the ground. They bail out just before it crashes, cashing in their stock options as they go, and leave the employees, ordinary stockholders, and customers holding an empty bag.

It is increasingly clear that under Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, the U.S. armed forces have also been taken over by "wreck it and run" management. When Rumsfeld leaves office, what will his successor inherit?

The Rumsfeld wreckage listed in the Lind article is impressive.

What a mess these guys are making.

Green tea?

Without medication my cholesterol runs from 240 to 270. With medication, Lescol, it comes down to 185 or so.

Yesterday I got back the results from a Quest Diagnostics battery of tests (I get a copy sent to me) and total cholesterol was 147. Lowest ever.

I can’t account for the drop except to consider green tea. Last winter I had a case of flu and while sick I couldn’t stand the smell or taste of coffee. I gave it up. As I recovered I started drinking green tea and stuck with it. Could it be that replacing a pot or more of coffee with five or six mugs of tea lowered the cholesterol 20 points or more?

Flowers for the liberators

Suicide bombings have surged to become the Iraqi insurgency's weapon of choice, with a staggering 90 attacks accounting for most of last month's 750 deaths at the militants' hands.

Suicide attacks outpaced car bombings almost 2-to-1 in May, according to figures compiled by the U.S. military, The Times and other media outlets. In April, there were 69 suicide attacks, more than in the entire year preceding the June 28, 2004, hand-over of sovereignty.

The frequency of suicide bombings here is unprecedented, exceeding that of Palestinian attacks against Israel and of other militant insurgencies, such as the Chechen rebellion in Russia. Baghdad saw five suicide bombings in a six-hour span Sunday. ...

From the LA Times

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


Here’s another reason to laugh your ass off at working people who voted for Bush.

…At some of the busiest airports in the country, including ones in New York City, Miami and Los Angeles, passengers with premium-class tickets or upper-level memberships in airline clubs are now able to cut the line.

When they show their boarding passes and identification these passengers are directed into a separate luxury lane to be screened by Transportation Security Administration employees. …

…At Los Angeles International Airport for example, Transportation Security Administration representatives say that if an airline requests, the agency will provide a dedicated security checkpoint for its luxury lane, or allow them to escort those passengers to the front of the line while economy class passengers creep along behind them. …

From The New York Times via Noutopia

Maybe when you’re standing in a long security check line with your kids in tow, sweating out making a flight, you should just show your “Sportsmen for Bush” bumper sticker (if you can peel it off your rusting truck) and a tax paid security guard will wave you right on through to the front.

Not likely.

Three Dreams

Dream one

I am on a balcony inside a huge hall. The colors are hues of brown. The floor level which stretches to the horizon is crowded with bearded men wearing brimmed black hats and skull caps walking around, apparently aimlessly.

I leave the balcony and enter a small conference room. Inside there are ten, maybe fifteen bearded men, some old, some middle-aged, also wearing skull caps or hats. They are seated on folding chairs, not in rows. Some have pulled their chairs close to each other and are engaged in conversation. They are apparently discussing who is going to be assigned to me. I notice one man, younger than most, balding, with a friendly smile. I hope it is him, I think.

The friendly man gets up from his chair and comes over to me. We speak but I don’t remember what either of us said. We go to a door, walk out into a huge green grassy area. First, the friendly man says, we are going to work on your golf swing.

Dream two

I am in a small room that is apparently a staging area with a small group, ten or twenty others. We are all in military style camouflage clothing. There are small packs on the floor and assault rifles. We put on our packs pick up the rifles and head out the door into a tunnel. The tunnel walls, floor and ceiling are a transparent white fabric. We break into a run. I am in the front running effortlessly. Outside the tunnel, but in another interior, we can see others, apparently friendly, doing things. The actions appear to be some sort of manufacturing but is also military. Some are armed.

The tunnel takes a very sharp turn to the left. I am pleased at the turn. Now they won’t be able to shoot into the tunnel and get us from behind, I think.

As we spill out of the tunnel into a warehouse we are met by Che Guevara. This time Che is being played by Duncan Renaldo who was once the Cisco Kid. Che tells us to get ready. The train will be coming shortly. Sure enough when I look through a crack in the metal warehouse wall I see a train coming. The train arrives and we all begin shooting. Armed men jump off the train and shoot at us and charge the warehouse. People are running and shooting all around. I keep firing and firing, frustrated because I’m not hitting anyone. Then I am alone but for one armed man charging me. I shoot him several times. When the bullets hit they cause little puffs of dust. The man falls. I approach and look at his face. It is grey with grey parchment skin peeling, almost like a mummy’s.

Dream three

In most tug boat dreams the tug leaves the water and climbs through an intricate erector set like structure (or maybe a frame work like a roller coaster’s) that towers above New York Harbor and stretches on into Brooklyn. Or, the tug leaves the harbor and we power through lower Manhattan traffic of both boats and cars. Usually we have some close calls but continue unscathed.

This time the tug stays on the water. I am a deckhand and the captain is a twelve or thirteen year old boy with thick curly brown hair. We are preparing to pick up a large flat decked barge which for some reason is very difficult to handle. Someone from the office is standing on the dock. He is dressed in a suit. I refuse to speak with him. I continue moving lines around making the barge secure to the tug. You’re doing a good job, he says to me.

After a short time underway we enter a huge covered docking area, an interior with calm water. Some ships are in there also, but mostly it is an empty area with wide slips and long, low concrete piers. On one pier a formally dressed singing group, both men and women (like the Manhattan Transfer, only there are more of them) beckons us to come to their pier. We know that is not where we belong and continue on. In a short time we come to another slip. On this dock there is a group of Korean singers dressed in reds and blacks, in clothing cut in the style of Flamenco singers. We know this is where we belong and with a great deal of effort, backing and filling, the captain gets the barge to the dock. The Korean singers and dancers clap their hands, smile and otherwise welcome us joyously.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Insider Self Portrait

Read here Atrios' stunning revisit of the historic Sally Quinn article on the Clinton White House. A self indictment of Washington insiders.