Saturday, June 18, 2005

Too bold for Democrats

Today's NYT
The race for the presidency in Iran was thrown into turmoil on Saturday when one of the top vote getters accused conservative hard-liners of rigging the election and threatened to continue to press his case publicly unless the country's supreme leader ordered an independent investigation - a bold move in a country that does not generally tolerate such forms of public dissent....

This could be a joke.

Final throes expansion

In case you missed it, the war is winding down so quickly Halliburton has been awarded $30 million to expand the Guantanamo gulag.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Bubble trouble

...This year, only about $80 billion, or 1 percent, of mortgage debt will switch to an adjustable rate based largely on prevailing interest rates, according to an analysis by Deutsche Bank in New York. Next year, some $300 billion of mortgage debt will be similarly adjusted.

But in 2007, the portion will soar, with $1 trillion of the nation's mortgage debt - or about 12 percent of it - switching to adjustable payments, according to the analysis....

From the NYT via Majikthis

Brace yourself for what happens when interest rates go up at the same time energy costs go through the roof.

Keeping the keys.....or not

Here's an interesting dilemma. How to turn over power to an army you're not certain will not kill you. It's an occupying force's nightmare. Dead if you do, there forever if you don't.

About sums it up. More at noutopia

Dark road

Our collective memory which defines who we are as a society has very little to do with the truth. So much of who we are has been suppressed, left out of our text books and omitted from the stories we tell ourselves, our children and each other. The American myth of a special people occupying a moral high ground is largely fiction. Last week, during a walk on the Appalachian Trail with a history teacher, I was reminded that public school text books, for example, are written and published to be attractive to boards of education. I don’t know about where you live, but the board that serves my district is dominated by a pretty sorry bunch. They are squabbling, ignorant, and petty, answering mainly to a noisy group of influential right wing voters who make sure they are at board meetings.

Anyway, for a few eye opening reminders of where we came from, how we so naturally became government sanctioned torturers, follow this link to the Mahablog for some chilling stuff on lynchings and war atrocities. I never knew, for example, how vicious our actions were in the Philippines.

According to Mahablog’s cite from the Baltimore Sun, in March 1906 American troops trapped 900 or so Muslim Filipinos in a volcano basin and, over a four day period, shot them all, men, women and children. The officer in charge became Governor of the Philippines.

To me, four leisurely days of killing trapped people means dispassionate, cold blooded, sadistic murder. There’s more on Mahablog and she brings it back to our doorstep in Guantanamo.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

McDade trail

Looks like McDade's successor Sherwood's campaign war chest will have some new hands reaching in. From the Northeast Pennsylvania TimesLeader
Ore’s suit: Sherwood beat me

$5.5 million is sought from congressman


U.S. Rep. Don Sherwood repeatedly punched and choked a Maryland woman during a “five-year intimate relationship” with her, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

Cynthia Ore, 29, of Rockville, Md., says that after each “unprovoked and vicious attack” Sherwood, 64, promised he wouldn’t do it again and begged her leave him, according to the four-count lawsuit filed by Patrick M.not to Regan, a prominent Washington, D.C., attorney.

The lawsuit, filed in Superior Court of the District of Columbia, asks for $5.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages and accuses the congressman of assault and battery, gross negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

It also says Ore plans to pursue obtaining a restraining order against Sherwood, R-Tunkhannock, forbidding him from having contact with her Sherwood assaulted Ore inside his Hill House apartment, a complex occupied mostly by members of Congress, on the morning of June 24, 2004. …

…According to the suit:
Sherwood assaulted Ore inside his Hill House apartment, a complex occupied mostly by members of Congress, on the morning of June 24, 2004.
Sherwood, who is married and has three daughters, struck Ore on her face and body with a closed fist while she attempted to sleep and he began “violently choking her.”

Clinging to small potatos

My old pal Jim (noutopia) writes:
I can't figure out the Wal-Mart employees complacency either. It's some kind of collective death wish. I wish to be ruled. My father, the very humble honey-dipper, would have been red-faced, incensed, and spitting bullets at the thought of being under Wal-Mart's thumb. He would have told his boss to fuck off. But, of course as you point out, there was a vibrant union movement then. Still, he would not have considered that fact one way or the other when in righteous mode. He was proud.

Is that it, personal pride bled out of us?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Wal-Mart kicks workers in the teeth

Among the shitbags that run Wal-Mart you can find the real experts at kicking people when they're down. This is from the Charleston (West Virginia) Gazette, via Gilliard.
Wal-Mart institutes availability requirement
New rule requires workers to work any shift or be fired

By Joe Morris
Business Editor

Wal-Mart officials in Cross Lanes told employees on Tuesday they have to start working practically any shift, any day they’re asked, even if they’ve built up years of seniority and can’t arrange child care. ...

...Workers who have had regular shifts at the store for years now have to commit to being available for any shift from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week. If they can’t make the commitment by the end of this week, they’ll be fired.

“It shouldn’t cause any problem, if they [store employees] are concerned about their customers,” Knuckles said.

Several single mothers working at the store have no choice now but to quit, said one employee, who would not give her name for fear of retribution.

“My day care closes at 6 and my baby sitter can’t work past 5,” said the employee, a mother of two who has been a cashier for more than three years. Neither of the services is available over the weekends, she added. “I have to be terminated; I don’t know what I’ll do.”...

...“A lot of people were mad and there were women crying — it’s just terrible,” said the worker, who has been at the store six years. “I’ve put up with a few things, but this has got to be the worst thing I’ve seen them do.”...

What will it take to get these people to organize? Seems like some of the fired workers with nothing to lose would be inspired organizers, that is, if we still had a union movement, which we don't. So what is the threshold? What does it take before people get together and say fuck this?

Nice graphs

Economist Dr. Atrios weighs in on peak oil. His views are more sober than peak oil wild man Jim Kunstler's (Clusterfuck Nation blog and the Long Emergency book) but not much less unsettling. Atrios:
Either way, serious energy market problems are more than possible even if there's still plenty of hot tasty oil just waiting for the taking if that demand curve is flirting with the production capacity level. It's hard to comprehend the impact on the world economy if even a temporary massive oil price spike combined with some supply disruptions occurs. It's also hard to imagine that such an event won't occur at some point. Long run, however, the future depends on how much oil is out there, how fast worlwide demand is increasing, and how fast new substitutes for oil come into being, either by using existing technologies (wind,nuclear, etc...) or finding new ones.

Atrios says much more, and there's nice graphs.

As for Kunstler, in the latest (6/12) clusterfuck entry he channels Hunter Thompson in a fear and loathing description of his west coast book signing trip.

I’m vulnerable to Kunstler’s world view. Truth be told I’m a sucker for catastrophe theories. In the late 70’s I had a dentist friend who believed the end was in sight. In the basement of his tract home he had sealed plastic barrels of beans and rice; large amounts of .22 caliber bullets which he believed would be the currency of the realm after the collapse of order and its currencies. Upstairs, hidden in the rafters above the garage, my dentist had a crossbow, rifles and pistols. He had batteries, generators, stashes of gasoline and whatever else caught his eye as survival material. Knowing about his stuff made me want to have my own beans, my own rice and guns and a crossbow too. At the time of our friendship my dentist was in his sixties, around the age I am today. Needless to say,he died before facing the need to deploy his stash and where it went after his death I cannot say.

When I read Kunstler, I get the urge to buy a small farm, add to the guns in the closet, buy a generator and put in another wood stove. What helps rescue me from this excessive nuttiness are thoughts of my dentist not living nearly long enough to put all that shit to use. What helps me put Kunstler in perspective is that I know he is a professional shit slinger, a stylist, and, at times a Hunter Thompson wannabe. He has no special credentials other than a successful writing career and has no more information than any of us. He may be right. He may not be. But any of us can look around, read about oil and put together our own equally accurate vision.

One engineer I know who has years of experience in the power plant industry says, after reading the shorter Kunstler in Rolling Stone, he agrees with the diagnosis but not the prognosis. He's confident the collapse will be less dramatic and challenges Kunstler's bleak view of the feasibility of new energy generating technologies.

My other problem with Kunstler is that I don’t agree that living in a small town in (frequently frigid) upstate New York (see his bio, or the Long Emergency) is the place to be when we wake up one morning and the oil is gone and the electricity is off. Personally, I'd rather be squatting by a well stocked pond or salt water inlet and a fertile garden in some moderately climated place like Virginia or North Carolina. You could freeze to death or starve in a New York state winter.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

hard work for a black heart

Here's excerpts from "Mother of Dead Soldier Vilifies Bush Over War" from the Lexington(Kentucky)Herald Leader:

The president of Gold Star Families for Peace, a mother who lost a son in Iraq, criticized the United States' "illegal and unjust war" yesterday during an interfaith rally in Lexington....

Sheehan ridiculed Bush for saying that it's "hard work" comforting the widow of a soldier who's been killed in Iraq.

"Hard work is seeing your son's murder on CNN one Sunday evening while you're enjoying the last supper you'll ever truly enjoy again. Hard work is having three military officers come to your house a few hours later to confirm the aforementioned murder of your son, your first-born, your kind and gentle sweet baby. Hard work is burying your child 46 days before his 25th birthday. Hard work is holding your other three children as they lower the body of their big (brother) into the ground. Hard work is not jumping in the grave with him and having the earth cover you both," she said.

Since her son's death, Sheehan has made opposition to the Bush administration a full-time job.

"We're watching you very carefully and we're going to do everything in our power to have you impeached for misleading the American people," she said, quoting a letter she sent to the White House. "Beating a political stake in your black heart will be the fulfillment of my life ... ," she said, as the audience of 200 people cheered

"hard work". What a fucking asshole.

via The Raw Story