Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The last dance?

I got a call this morning from the Democrats looking for $50 to help elect Dems to Congress. I said no. The Democrats make me sick in a way that only your own family can. They offer no real opposition to the Bush agenda, standing by while Republicans destroy the Geneva Convention, the Constitution, legitimize torture, and disable habeas corpus. With not enough courage or commitment to offer meaningful opposition, they flounder around like blind sailors always hoping for a true sense of which way the wind is blowing so they can alter course to match. (think Hillary and others on the war in Iraq, Hillary on flag burning, and more)

In short, maybe the Democratic party is finished.

Here are some paragraphs from Billmon who sees the big political picture very clearly and fits the present into a very neat historical context:

...Maybe the immigrants or the information revolution or economic distress or some other irresistible force will push the wheel around again and leave the Dems on top, or bring a new party to power -- instead of leaving us with a hapless bunch of windbags who have to rely on the mother of all sex scandals to overcome their own handicaps.

But there's a strong smell of fustiness and decay in the system -- almost like the sour, medicinal odor of a nursing home. America isn't a spring chicken any more. At times (like now) you can almost hear the arteries hardening, even if you're not standing next to Dick Cheney. We're getting pretty set in our ways.

The instruments of top-down manipulation and control, and the enormous quantities of cash available to power them, may be too strong for economic change and social evolution (the godparents of political realignment) to overcome. Political change -- much less fundamental change, the kind that frees the slaves or brings malefactors of great wealth to heel -- may no longer be possible in American politics.

The Republicans may lose this election. They're certainly trying hard. They may even lose the next one. But it's going to take more than one or two scandal-boosted victories to persuade me the Dems have a future that doesn't involve being the ornamental decoration on a functionally one-party state.... LINK

If you follow that link and like what you read then go through to Billmon's home page and read the latest few entries.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

bin Laden dead?

Headline item on Reuters web site.

...The French regional daily L'Est Republicain reported that, according to a French secret service report, Saudi Arabia was convinced that bin Laden died of typhoid in Pakistan in late August. The French government has said it could not confirm the report and would investigate the intelligence leak....

Thursday, September 21, 2006

CIA interrogators' strike closes secret jails

According to an article, quoted and linked below, on today's Financial Times web page, CIA interrogators refused to run our secret prisons because they were uncertain about their legal status. They were afraid they were going to be prosecuted. Looks like the cofidence in the power of the Bush gang to protect their evil doers is waning. Hopefully more will rediscover the consciences via fear of prosecution.

CIA ‘refused to operate’ secret jails
By Guy Dinmore in Washington

Published: September 20 2006 22:07 | Last updated: September 20 2006 22:07

The Bush administration had to empty its secret prisons and transfer terror suspects to the military-run detention centre at Guantánamo this month in part because CIA interrogators had refused to carry out further interrogations and run the secret facilities, according to former CIA officials and people close to the programme.

The former officials said the CIA interrogators’ refusal was a factor in forcing the Bush administration to act earlier than it might have wished....

...But the former CIA officials said Mr Bush’s hand was forced because interrogators had refused to continue their work until the legal situation was clarified because they were concerned they could be prosecuted for using illegal techniques. One intelligence source also said the CIA had refused to keep the secret prisons going....


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

More meltdown news

We may be past the tipping point, with warming accelerating at an unanticipated rate.

Scientists shocked as Arctic polar route emerges

Wed Sep 20, 7:18 AM ET

European scientists voiced shock as they showed pictures which showed Arctic ice cover had disappeared so much last month that a ship could sail unhindered from Europe's most northerly outpost to the North Pole itself.

The satellite images were acquired from August 23 to 25 by instruments aboard Envisat and EOS Aqua, two satellites operated by the European Space Agency (ESA).

Perennial sea ice -- thick ice that is normally present year-round and is not affected by the Arctic summer -- had disappeared over an area bigger than the British Isles, ESA said.
Vast patches of ice-free sea stretched north of Svalbard, an archipelago lying midway between Norway and the North Ple, and extended deep into the Russian Arctic, all the way to the North Pole, the agency said in a press release.

"This situation is unlike anything observed in previous record low-ice seasons," said Mark Drinkwater of ESA's Oceans/Ice Unit.

"It is highly imaginable that a ship could have passed from Spitzbergen or Northern Siberia through what is normally pack ice to reach the North Pole without difficulty."...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


The New York Review of Books

via 3 Quarks Daily

He's worse than you thought, worse than you imagined.


I have wanted to post something sensible about the torture debate but I can’t think of a damn thing to say. It seems so obvious that torture is wrong. Always. And that it is nonsensical to think any reasonable, modern government with democratic pretenses could hold otherwise. When I reflect on the torture discussion, I find myself astonished that we have gotten here without mass revulsion. Forty or fifty years go would anyone have believed that as a country we would have so quickly degenerated to open embrace of absolute evil?

Pack up all your cares and woes....

If you are a connoisseur of really deep and dark pessimistic views and take secret pleasure in imminent doom, then take a look at this post by billmon which brings us face to face with a possibly super heated earth in ten or twenty years. He offers a vision so chilling it will melt away your everyday cares and woes and transport you to the comfort of collapse so all encompassing there is little to do but surrender or elbow your way along with the throngs heading north.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Collapsing Empire

Billmon takes our inventory.

...You can learn a lot about a country in five years.

What I've learned (from 9/11, the corporate scandals, the fiasco in Iraq, Katrina, the Cheney Administration's insane economic and environmental policies and the relentless dumbing down of the corporate media -- plus the repeated electoral triumphs of the Rovian brand of "reality management") is that the United States is moving down the curve of imperial decay at an amazingly rapid clip. If anything, the speed of our descent appears to be accelerating.

The physical symptoms -- a lost war, a derelict city, a Potemkin memorial hastily erected in a vacant lot -- aren't nearly as alarming as the moral and intellectual paralysis that seems to have taken hold of the system. The old feedback mechanisms are broken or in deep disrepair, leaving America with an opposition party that doesn't know how (or what) to oppose, a military run by uniformed yes men, intelligence czars who couldn't find their way through a garden gate with a GPS locator, TV networks that don't even pretend to cover the news unless there's a missing white woman or a suspected child rapist involved, and talk radio hosts who think nuking Mecca is the solution to all our problems in the Middle East. We've got think tanks that can't think, security agencies that can't secure and accounting firms that can't count (except when their clients ask them to make 2+2=5). Our churches are either annexes to shopping malls, halfway homes for pederasts, or GOP precinct headquarters in disguise. Our economy is based on asset bubbles, defense contracts and an open-ended line of credit from the People's Bank of China, and we still can't push the poverty rate down or the median wage up....

Read the entire post here: LINK

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Mercenaries are the scourge of poor areas of the World

Though the U.S. has lost its moral compass it does not mean that others have done so.

The quote below comes from the NY Times

August 29, 2006
South Africa Assembly OKs Mercenary Bill
Filed at 3:48 p.m. ET

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) -- South Africa moved closer Tuesday to a sweeping anti-mercenary law that critics said would also undermine legitimate security work in countries like Iraq and threaten humanitarian activities.

''Mercenaries are the scourge of poor areas of the world, especially Africa,'' Defense Minister Mosiuoa Lekota told a parliamentary session before the new law was approved. ''Anybody that has money can hire these human beings and turn them into killing machines or cannon fodder.''

By a 211-28 vote, the National Assembly approved the Prohibition of Mercenary Activity and Regulation of Certain Activities in Areas of Armed Conflict Bill, thanks to the large majority of the ruling National African Congress.

The legislation now must go to the second parliamentary chamber, the National Council of Provinces, but that is expected to be a formality because of the ANC majority.

Opposition lawmakers and independent analysts said the legislation would have a direct impact on thousands of South African security workers abroad.

There are an estimated 2,000 to 4,000 South Africans in Iraq alone, helping guard oil installations, hotels and foreign residents. Thousands more are in other countries such as Nigeria and Afghanistan. Many of them are white veterans of the apartheid-era armed forces.

All South Africans wanting to work in security and military sectors abroad will now have to register with an arms control committee. Len Le Roux, an analyst with the Institute for Security Studies, said this would likely lead to long bureaucratic delays and dissuade foreign companies from hiring South Africans....


Monday, August 07, 2006

from the Whiskey Bar

This about covers it.

What the health of the Republic requires . . . may not be a new crop of leakers and whistleblowers, or a fresh young generation of Woodwards and Bernsteins -- or even a more independent, aggressive media. What it may need is a new population (or half of a population, anyway), one that hasn't been stupified or brainwashed into blind submission, that won't look upon sadistic corruption and call it patriotism, and that will refuse to trade the Bill of Rights for a plastic Jesus and a wholly false sense of security.
Whiskey Bar
Sore Throat
June 3, 2005

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Sun King

There’s a long list of “froms” behind the quote below. I found it first on firedoglake, followed her link to The Washington Post’s Dan Froomkin who is quoting from a quote in a New Yorker profile by Jane Mayer, not available on line.

"Bruce Fein, a Republican legal activist, who voted for Bush in both Presidential elections, and who served as associate deputy attorney general in the Reagan Justice Department, said that Addington and other Presidential legal advisers had 'staked out powers that are a universe beyond any other Administration. This President has made claims that are really quite alarming. He's said that there are no restraints on his ability, as he sees it, to collect intelligence, to open mail, to commit torture, and to use electronic surveillance. If you used the President's reasoning, you could shut down Congress for leaking too much. His war powers allow him to declare anyone an illegal combatant. All the world's a battlefield -- according to this view, he could kill someone in Lafayette Park if he wants! It's got the sense of Louis XIV: 'I am the State.' "

Most of us know that the Bush administration considers itself above the laws and the rest of us to be dumbass tools sent off to shoot up the world, sweep up, and be perhaps useful as organ donators, but what's interesting is this characterization comes from a Reagan Republican.

Update: asshole (a feel good link)

Micro, microecon

On my street, three of the 24 houses are for sale, two of those for more than a year. Out on the main road there are two new homes, built on spec I think, that are also unsold. There has been a sustained house building boom here in northeast Pennsylvania that may now have over built itself out business. Part of this slowdown may be due to local causes.

As more working people move here to escape the high cost of housing in New York and New Jersey, schools are being built and property taxes are going up. Soon they will be high enough to make housing in New Jersey competitive again. Also, under the best of traffic and weather conditions it takes 1 ½ to 1 ¾ hours to drive to New York. Commuting uses a lot of gas and as gas prices rise, along with interest rates, tight budgets become tighter and sometimes snap. Too many people that are driven by dreams of a country home, backyard and good schools make delusional calculations on what they can afford. There are a lot of foreclosed homes competing with a growing number of new houses for a dwindling number of buyers. I’m guessing that for many the financial benefit of living in the Poconos no longer out weighs the agony of spending four to six hours a day getting to work. I’m also betting that the swindling builders are no longer able close deals with wised up potential buyers, with an unfounded promise of a new commuter railroad to built any minute now.

In addition to keeping track of the homes on my street up for sale, I also study the golf courses. I used to golf and some friends still do. There are many public golf courses here and a few years ago they were crowded. There were usually more cars in the lots with New York and New Jersey plates than there those licensed in Pennsylvania. It was difficult to get tee times and when you did you crept along the course taking five and more hours to complete 18 holes. It was almost as frustrating as commuting. You paid a hundred bucks to get pissed off.

Now, no one is golfing; it seems. My friends that golf say the courses are nearly empty. You can play a round quickly and then go around again and again until dark. I confirm their observations every day on the way to the post office. The golf course at the bottom of the hill is always nearly empty or at best there are five or ten cars in the lot, a few more on weekends, very different from the spill over mobs a few years ago.

As with the collapse of the housing market I have guesses about empty golf courses too. Would be golfers are working long weekday hours and also weekend hours, because they are scared shitless they will lose their jobs and fail to keep up with a rising flood of debt. Those demands on workers, white and blue collared, coupled with family duties, leave no time for golf. An afternoon of golf today turns into hours of agonizing over vulnerabilities coming from things left undone.

At last check, the market was down better than a hundred points today, the drop mainly fueled by the diminished housing market.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Cancer update

The last few days I have been consumed with trying to find an MRI provider that could do an "endorectal coil" scan. Searched all of Northeast PA and nearly all of NJ, many, many telephone calls and finally, with the aid of the radiation oncologist’s staff, who also searched diligently, found one in Warren, near Plainfield.

As I understand it, the endorectal coil involves shoving some device up my ass to amplify the MRI. Supposedly it gives a more accurate image of my cancer area and thus allows them to more precisely guide the radiation treatments thus diminishing the chances of missing some cancer. Given the aggressive nature of my particular form, I expect a recurrence could kill me. Also, the enhanced image probably limits unnecessary collateral damage, which could include leaving me permanently incontinent (both bowl and urinary), impotent, and who knows what else. Imaging my pelvic area, of course, is complicated by my titanium hips which distorted earlier images.

Though this type of MRI is the one the radiation doc said was best, he said if I couldn't find it he'd make do with a regular scan. At first I was going to take the easy way out and just drive over to Pocono hospital and be satisfied with what they had. But I changed my mind. I figured if the cancer treatment goes bad, I don’t want to look back and say "I should have worked harder to find the endorectal coil."

To make matters more interesting, the MRI providers say I have to give myself a Fleet Enema, one hour before my scheduled scan. It could be an hour and a half drive to the provider, more in traffic.

In addition to being terrifying, having cancer is an unending unfolding of humiliations and disappointments. New news is nearly always bad. But maintaining a positive attitude is of critical importance. An important positive, so far, is the unanimous courtesy, kindness and diligence of the professionals and support staff I have encountered. It helps.

What also helps is that I diligently make myself aware that as cancers go, mine isn’t all that bad and that so many would gladly swap theirs for mine. In other words, I am usually successful at finding firm ground on which to build some gratitude.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Coping with rising water

Albert Naquin, chief of the Biloxi-Chitimacha said, as another sun set on the encroaching waters. "I thought I could change the world, but the world is changing me."

From the last paragraph of "In Louisiana, a Sinking Island Wars With Water and the Government", New York Times. LINK

"Class War Politics" Krugman

Here's a paragraph from today's Krugman in the New York Times.

...if the real source of today's bitter partisanship is a Republican move to the right on economic issues, why have the last three elections been dominated by talk of terrorism, with a bit of religion on the side? Because a party whose economic policies favor a narrow elite needs to focus the public's attention elsewhere. And there's no better way to do that than accusing the other party of being unpatriotic and godless. ...

We all know this already but it's nice to see it in print. Here's a LINK but to access the column you need to be a subscriber.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

More fuel for global warming

From: "Thawing permafrost could unleash tons of carbon" by Deborah Zabarenko.
...As the Siberian permafrost thaws, it will release the carbon contained in old grass roots and buried animal bones into the atmosphere, in what could be an unstoppable contributor to global climate change, according to the researchers.

Earlier climate models may have failed to account for this possible component of global warming, he(Ted Shuur, ecologist, University of Florida) said.

Schuur said this source of atmospheric carbon could create a vicious global warming cycle.

"You have anthropogenic (human-generated) carbon that's making things a little bit warmer, and that causes the permafrost to warm up and carbon is then released from the permafrost," he said. "It goes into the atmosphere and makes things warmer yet again, so then more permafrost thaws...LINK, Reuters

But there is good news, also from Reuters.
Bear Stearns Cos. Inc. (BSC.N: Quote, Profile, Research) said on Thursday its quarterly profit rose 81 percent, easily beating estimates, as strong trading results boosted its key fixed income business.

Bear Stearns shares rose over 4 percent, in line with a rally in brokerage stocks, which outperformed the broader market after falling in recent sessions on concern about an overall plunge in equities. LINK

Thank God.

CNN, trusted source on the job

Britney Spears says she's an "emotional wreck".

Spears said she has wept on occasion over allegations that she is a bad mother, and wished only that paparazzi would leave her alone.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Altruistic practicality

It may be that the most effective tactic to win support for a Gore candidacy is to bring attention to global warming, its consequences and ways to arrest it.

Long term, altruism may always be the most practical course. In this case, since the issue is now closely connected to Gore, it certainly is.

Here's some paragraphs from an article on global warming, entirely available here LINK

…Global warming—and the other environmental disasters that will exacerbate and be exacerbated by global warming—doesn’t permit this hope. It takes forty years or more for the climate to react to the carbon dioxide and methane we emit. This means that the disasters that have already happened during the warmest decade in civilized history (severe droughts in the Sahel region of Africa, Western Australia, and Iberia; deadly flooding in Mumbai; hurricane seasons of unprecedented length, strength, and damage; extinction of many species; runaway glacial melt; deadly heat waves; hundreds of thousands of deaths all told) are not due to our current rates of consumption, but rather the delayed consequences of fuels burned and forests clear-cut decades ago, long before the invention of the Hummer. If we ceased all emissions immediately, global temperatures would continue to rise until around 2050.

This long lag is the feature that makes global warming so dangerous. Yes, this is how we would destroy ourselves—not by punching red buttons in an apocalyptic fit, but by appropriating to ourselves just a little too much comfort, a little too much warmth, a little too much time. Like Oedipus, we’ve been warned. Like Oedipus, we flout the warning, and we’ll act surprised, even outraged, when we find out what we’ve done….

…Only one feature of our otherwise forgotten 20th-century world seems likely to remain and be reinforced—the supreme importance of wealth. Rich countries will do better than poor countries, rich households will do better than poor households, rich species (Homo sapiens and their pets) will do better than poor species (all the rest). Global warming will deepen the divide between haves and have-nots—Hurricane Katrina offers a one-off example of how this can occur even in the US, but the sharper distinction will be international. As poor countries are hammered by sudden disasters and longer-term droughts, shortages, and epidemics, wealthier countries will paradoxically and perversely provide less aid, as they struggle with their own resource problems and future uncertainties. … LINK
(Via 3 Quarks Daily. I can't keep up with them.)

My guess is that there is a wide spread, if unstated, awareness and acceptance of the pending horror promised by global warming. This specter is what holds together those on the top rung of our society. The rich and powerful in the corporatocracy, especially those in the marginally elite mainstream media, believe there is not enough room in the lifeboat for everyone and their inclination is to protect their seats, their privileges, at the expense of their integrity. In short, those in power have basically written most of us off and have come together to save themselves and keep the rest of us deluded and at bay; come together not necessarily in a conscious conspiracy, but in some undercurrent of recognition and agreement of who’s in and who’s out.

The altruistic course, and likely the best one, is to work to save everyone. I hope this is the foundation of what left of center Democrats stand for.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

We have the votes but not the counts

The Republican machine stole the 2004 Ohio election and thus the national election says Robert Kennedy Jr. in a Rolling Stone cover story due out Friday. The online version will be out tomorrow, according to The Brad Blog LINK

Unless opposition leaders spotlight the issue of election theft the Bush Republicans will do it again in 2006 and 2008. They will not risk losing control of Congress in a fair election.

Happy go lucky celebrity bloggers and party leaders out there in make believe land continue to play the who is going to be the cadidate game as if votes counted in key areas had anything to do with votes cast. You would think the obvious theft of two presidential elections would result in some action by a party investing millions in candidates. Don't get your hopes up.

We have the votes but we don't have the counts.

UPDATE: The complete Rolling Stone Kennedy article is now available here.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Finally, we kill the timid. They must have done something

Even though we are now a country that tortures prisoners and holds them without trial or charges, wages wars of aggression and is run by a fabulously wealthy corporate and military clique that ignores the Constitution when it suits them and uses terror to propagate their power, we still are largely under the mass delusion that we are somehow a special place with a special system where the worst abuses of corrupt power (because of our specialness) will not happen. What fools we are.

Below are a couple of paragraphs from an article I found linked on the very smart 3 Quarks Daily.
...On March 24 of that year (1976) a military coup, widely welcomed by the Argentine majority, overthrew the weak and vicious presidency of Isabel Perón. Hundreds had been killed before, mostly by the right. But the 1976 coup was the beginning of the “dirty war” in which some 30,000 people were murdered. ...

…Born in a country with 120 years of constitutional history, the seven-year Proceso, or national reorganization process, created a society of torture and murder. It was also about vanishing. The victims officially vanished from the earth, although at first bereaved parents might have been told that their missing child was in France. Sooner or later everyone understood that you could be seized, tormented, and killed apparently at random. The terror’s intent was, nominally, societal behavior modification. But you could burn your blue jeans and your books, cut your hair and cut off your politically suspect friends, and still you and your family could be disappeared….

…Out of the 5,300 people brought in to the ESMA about 200 survived. We will never know which of the 5,300 read the wrong books, had leftish sympathies, worked with guerrilla insurrectionists, or tossed bombs, because the regime destroyed its records when the dictatorship fell. There was no innocence. General Iberico Saint Jean said at the time, “First we kill all the subversives, then we will kill their collaborators; then . . . their sympathizers, then those who are indifferent and finally we kill the timid.” But to many the military was never wrong; the mantra among the oppressors, the bystanders, and even some relatives of the victims was “they must have done something.”… LINK

Make no mistake about it, this is where the Republican far Right plutocrats and their numbskull working and middle class supporters are taking us. With the breakdown of rule of law, the corruption of the judiciary and the press, the privatization of the military, a replay of the Argentina experience is where we are headed. Someday, events like the Miami “riot” of Republican congressional staffers (at the time actually a wimpy little demonstration by banally evil thugs) that stopped a legal vote recount will be seen as milestones of our collapse, along with tolerance of officially condoned torture, illegal arrests, and fascist style spying on ordinary citizens.

I don’t think for a single second an election is going to rid us of them unless Democratic leaders magically find the courage to resist the Right’s every move and also do what it takes to ensure a fair election and somehow confront the attraction fascist rhetoric has for those that choose to be in the stubborn and willfully ignorant, but sizeable, voting wad.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Will your vote count?

As if we didn't know already, a column in the current Newsweek, "Will Your Vote Count" tells us that electronic voting machines are easily rigged.

May 29, 2006 issue - Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the voting booth, here comes more disturbing news about the trustworthiness of electronic touchscreen ballot machines. Earlier this month a report by Finnish security expert Harri Hursti analyzed Diebold voting machines for an organization called Black Box Voting. Hursti found unheralded vulnerabilities in the machines that are currently entrusted to faithfully record the votes of millions of Americans.

How bad are the problems? Experts are calling them the most serious voting-machine flaws ever documented. Basically the trouble stems from the ease with which the machine's software can be altered. It requires only a few minutes of pre-election access to a Diebold machine to open the machine and insert a PC card that, if it contained malicious code, could reprogram the machine to give control to the violator. The machine could go dead on Election Day or throw votes to the wrong candidate. Worse, it's even possible for such ballot-tampering software to trick authorized technicians into thinking that everything is working fine, an illusion you couldn't pull off with pre-electronic systems... LINK

With impeachment at stake, it is not too hard to imagine that the Republican vote fraud engine has subtly rigged key elections to ensure continued control of Congress. Not with easily detected massive fraud, but with just enough tweaking to get the job done while allowing most voters to maintain a comfortable delusion that elections are honest.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Another cancer update

My friend Jim at Noutopia wrote to ask how I was doing. I assumed he meant with my cancer. For anyone else interested, here's what I wrote back:

I feel fine. No symptoms, no side effects. There never were any. But there is some kind of jump into another dimension. Things look and feel different, almost watery, and I am more detached than ever, ever more keenly and immediately aware of impermanence. Very odd. But also feels very "true" and causes me to be more quiet, move more carefully and be more watchful and conscious of others, their agendas, feelings and importances.

Mostly I am quite content to hang out here with Joanne and the dogs. I take one pill a day. Have had a shot of something that lasts three months and if all goes well will begin a rigorous course of radiation sometime in July that will last nine weeks, five days a week. Very surreal. A huge rush of intense action and emotion followed by a stretch of nothing.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Hillary heads right

Here's Hillary on George Bush:

"He is someone who has a lot of charm and charisma, and I think in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, I was very grateful to him for his support for New York," Clinton said Tuesday night during a talk at the National Archives about her life in politics.

Clinton, a potential presidential candidate in 2008, said that despite their "many disagreements about many, many issues," she has always had a good personal relationship with the president. ...

Bush's charm and charisma have been hidden from me but Hillary seems to have found them. She also finds something attractive in McCain, Newt Gingrich, Rupert Murdoch and Lindsay Graham. Here's a few paragraphs from an article in the Financial Times.

Hank Sheinkopf, a Democratic political consultant who worked on Bill Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign, said the alliance makes sense for both Mrs Clinton and Mr Murdoch. "She's not going any place. The only place she goes after this is the White House. Why not have a friend? That's a smart move for Mr Murdoch to make." He acknowledged that "there are some on the left who will feel that this is not a good thing".

But mainstream Democrats who want to ensure that Mrs Clinton wins re-election handily and is in a strong position to run for president will not mind. "They will see it as putting together a coalition that works."

Mrs Clinton has worked to tone down the liberal image she won during her husband's presidency, when she led the failed fight for national healthcare. She has courted Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, appearing with him on a panel on healthcare reform, and Republican senator Lindsay Graham, who was involved in impeachment charges against Mr Clinton....

She must be so confident of winning the nomination that she is already campaigning for Republican votes. The people she is courting need a kick in the teeth, not an embrace from someone so eager to earn approval from the Right. Hopefully, she is in for a big surprise in the primaries when the real "mainstream Democrats" show themselves to be well left of Hillary. It is amazing how eager so called centrists are to sell out the rest of us. Most are protecting comfy seats in Congress or cushy mainstream media jobs which they aim to keep no matter who is in power. To do this they work to be simultaneously Left and Right and all things to all people. Shape shifters like Hillary we do not need.

Right is wrong, no matter what party dress it comes in.

Update: More on "don't make waves" Democrats here.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Be careful who you piss on

Goss's resignation should come as no surprise to blog readers, especially those that follow Billmon. He was prescient last week, on April 28, when he wrote this:

I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the news (from Harper's via TPM Muckraker) that Porter Goss, director of the CIA, may be implicated in a hooker service for corrupt (and horny) congressmen paid for by defense contractors and run out of -- you really gotta love this part -- the Watergate Hotel.....

...Goss has a lot of enemies, including just about the entire career staff at the CIA, which he has been industriously purging of suspected Democrats at the behest of his White House masters. (If Porter ever turns up dead, the suspect list is going to include half of the McLean, Va. phone book and most of the world's professional assassins.)...

So who knows what anonymous hands are helping run down all the threads winding through the Duke Cunningham toxic waste dump.

Josh Marshall gives us the backstory.

Billmon update: LINK

Woods for sale. Whose are they?

If you're planning to hike the Appalachian Trail, or visit any other areas in National Forests, you better get there in a hurry. The Bush regime needs money and to get it they are going to sell our woods. They're covering the sale by suggesting it's to help the poor.

Here's the first paragraphs of the story and a link to the rest.

National forest lands could go up for sale
Protests greet Bush administration proposal to offset states' losses from logging revenue

By Tom Pelton
Sun Reporter

ROANOKE, Va. // Along a rocky path of the Appalachian Trail, Sherman Bamford pointed to a mist-shrouded mountainside in the Thomas Jefferson National Forest, where 121 acres could soon be up for public auction.

The land is on a list of about 300,000 acres of national forest the Bush administration has proposed selling to help fund the operation of rural schools and offset cuts in federal aid.

Forest Service officials said yesterday that they do not expect to sell more than about 175,000 acres in order to reach their goal of raising $800 million. But auctioning any of the land would reverse more than a century of federal policy and law barring such sales of national forests....


(Thanks to America Blog.)

You can only sell them once. After the woods are gone maybe Bush will sell some monuments and whatever else he hasn't already given away to Halliburton.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Colbert 2

Here's a link to Michael Sherer's fun to read (but not for Bushistas) Salon article on the Colbert take down of the regime.

The truthiness hurts
Stephen Colbert's brilliant performance unplugged the Bush myth machine -- and left the clueless D.C. press corps gaping.

Here's a sample:

...Then he turned to the president of the United States, who sat tight-lipped just a few feet away. "I stand by this man. I stand by this man because he stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on things. Things like aircraft carriers and rubble and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message, that no matter what happens to America, she will always rebound -- with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world." ...

...What Colbert did was expose the whole official, patriotic, right-wing, press-bashing discourse as a sham, as more "truthiness" than truth. ...

Thanks to Atrios

Billmon's review illustrates larger problem

Here's a lengthy quote from the center of Billmon's review comparing the movie American Nightmarez to Stephen Colbert's performance at the White House Correspondents dinner.

"...Like its upscale sibling, the annual Gridiron Club dinner, the White House Correspondents dinner is a ritual designed, at least implicitly, to showcase the underlying unity of our Beltway elites. It's supposed to demonstrate that no matter how ferocious their battles may appear on the surface, political opponents can still gather in the same room and break bread, with the corporate media acting as the properly neutral host. It's a relic of the good old days of centrism and bipartisan log rolling ("the end of ideology"), visible proof that in the American system, there may be enemies, but there are no mortal enemies. And so we last night we had Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame sitting at one table, Karl Rove at another, and no knives were drawn.

The light entertainment at these events is also supposed to reflect the same spirit of forced good cheer, to the point where even matters of deadly seriousness -- things that in other countries might cause governments to fall -- are treated like inside jokes, as with Shrub's looking-for-the-missing-WMDs-under-the-couch routine. Ha ha ha. We're all friends here!

The underlying message, never stated or even acknowledged, is that there are no disputes that can't be resolved within the cozy confines of our "democratic" (oligarchic) system. Friends don't send friends to jail -- or smash their presses or abolish their political parties or line them up against the wall and shoot them.

The problem is that the tissue of this particular lie has been eroding ever since the Clinton impeachment, if not before, and is now worn exceedingly thin. It's becoming harder and harder to conceal the ruthlessness of the struggle for power, or ignore the consequences of losing it...."

The first inclination of nearly all the insider/plutocrats is to stick together when the status quo is threatened. Even the insider outsiders, like elected Democrats, supposedly neutral big media members and even many celebrity left of center writers, know their cushy lives, padded with gigantic pensions, and fantastic health insurance, depend on ruling class unity and keeping the great starry eyed wad deluded and dutifully trooping off to solemnly vote in rigged elections. (Oh shucks, we lost again; we’ll just have to tighten our belts and try harder in 2008.)

The complicity of the opposition, usually masked as civility, is much of what makes fascists, once in power, so difficult to dislodge.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Prostate cancer update

The two oncologists I consulted agree. The only real option is hormone therapy for three months followed by external radiation, 45 treatments, with hormone therapy continuing for up to two years.

I need an MRI because my two hip replacements obscured the CT scan view of the lymph glands near the prostate.

For me, here’s the key dialogue:

TR: This is probably a stupid question but is this going to kill me and in how long?

Sloan/Kettering, St. Clare’s oncologist: It’s a great question. Of course we don’t know but statistically you have about an 80% chance of living five years and a 60% of living ten….

There you have it. I am taking an oral med. Casodex 50mg once a day. Will get a hormonal injection, likely in the stomach, on Tuesday that should cover me for three months. If all goes well (meaning, among other things, the prostate gland shrinks) I will begin radiation.

There are numerous side effects from the hormonal treatments, though the oncologist said the intensity varies among individuals.

I told my daughter she may not be losing a father, but may be gaining a grandmother.

As for me, I have no symptoms, feel great, did fierce workouts three days last week, and intend to spend the weekend riding the Harley and raking leaves.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Goss goose cooked?

If you’re a procrastinator, like me, and looking for a way to wile away a few minutes and you really don’t want to deal with the implications of peak oil before the weekend but would rather daydream about Republicans sizzling on the spit, check out the last couple of posts from Billmon.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


The full body bone, CT scan and chest X-ray were all clean. Tomorrow I go to the second of two oncologists to discuss treatment. I will post all details tomorrow night or Saturday, but so far it appears I have late Stage 2 or early Stage 3 Prostate Cancer. Gleason scores were 8s and 9s. A year ago this May I had a PSA of 1.9. In March it was 4.7. The cancer seems to extend immediately beyond the "capsule" (whatever that is). But for very minor, barely noticeable occasional discomfort when peeing, I have no symptoms. I feel like I am in the best health of my life. (I'm 62)

As for the national cancer, there is almost too much going on for me to keep track of. Each of the great blogs, most of those listed to the right, are following one or another of the rapidly unraveling threads. Check them all out. Who knew we would have such easy access to so much brilliance. Enjoy it while you can because this freedom too won't last forever.

No deal

Senators want to buy rights to drill for oil in the Alaska National Artic Wildlife Refuge for a $100 bribe paid to each taxpayer. LINK

Personally, I'd sell them Congress, the Executive branch and most of the Supreme Court for a lot less. For a bonus, I'd throw in most newspapers and tv networks as well, so long as we keep the artic refuge. Not that I'll ever get there but as long as it is there, I can dream about it.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Rigged elections a matter of survival

Josh Marshall wrote:
...The White House and the entire DC GOP for that matter is just sitting on too many secrets and bad acts. The bogus investigations of the pre-war intel is just one example, if one of the most resonant and glaring. Keeping control of the House and the Senate is less a matter of conventional ideological and partisan politics as it is a simple matter of survival.

They have too much to cover up. They could not survive sunlight.

With the stakes that high, key 2006 elections will certainly be rigged.

Seafood garnish

…What millions of city and suburban folks thought just disappeared down their toilets actually wound up in nets. Swede Lovgren showed up at public meetings, toting samples in what fishermen and scientists began calling “black mayonnaise jars.”

“Swede had it analyzed and it was mostly human hair and Kotex fibers. If you weren’t steaming home with the net backward to clean it out, you were powerwashing it back at the dock,” Lovgren says. …

(From Clearing the Channels a profile of Jim Lovgren, Brick, NJ, by Kirk Moore in the National Fisherman, May 2006, page 23.)

Lovgren is talking about the Mud Hole, a large section of a long groove in the bottom from the mouth of the Hudson River to the Hudson Canyon. For decades the Mud Hole has been a lucrative fishing ground. Unfortunately it also is close to dumping areas for New York City sewage, dredgings and other junk.

I fished the Mud Hole for years, first on scallop trawlers and then on draggers from Point Pleasant, NJ, from the same docks that the Lovgrens use. Much of what we caught in the Mud Hole was shipped to markets in northern New Jersey and New York City, ironically completing a recycling circle of sorts. What went down your neighbor's toilet comes back to you by way of the dinner table.

Bon appetite!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

One more big mistake

Here's a column you must read. It's about our scuzzy little president on the ropes and looking to a last grandstand moment of an A Bomb on Iran.

Chips down, Bush prepares a Hail Mary bet by Mark Morford in today's San Francisco Chronicle.

Friday, April 14, 2006


Ommzm’s interesting diary with a post on reality manipulation is being singled out for attention at Kos. Here’s the link: Reality in Desuetude (or, Iran So Far Away)

In Ommzm’s post there is this quote from Robert Sheer, August 28, 2001, Salon that spells out nicely the mechanics of the Bush plutocracy.

There is method to the president's madness, as he spelled out in his press conference Friday, proclaiming that the prospect of government red ink is "incredibly positive news" because it will produce "a fiscal straitjacket for Congress." ...

... The plan is to bankrupt the national government so we can be reduced to life as it's lived in Texas, where the rich make out like bandits playing with public funds, as George W. did on that stadium deal, while the rest of the folks scramble. Texas politicians, including three presidents in the past 40 years, always make sure their companies are fed well at the Washington trough, even if it means going to war. Whatever the state of the federal budget, Bush is not going to be tight with the dollar when it comes to a bloated military, because big oil still needs that stick of U.S. military intervention to protect its investments abroad.

Why else do we need a military big enough to fight two wars at once except to protect U.S. investments that stretch from the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf? Think of it as a Social Security program -- or more accurately, welfare -- for military contractors and energy companies, led by Halliburton, where Dick Cheney hustled his quick millions.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Nuclear realities

Juan Cole helps us understand Iran's nuclear program here: Iran can now make glowing Mickey Mouse watches.

Via firedoglake

(Speaking of nuclear, today was spent getting CT scan, whole body bone scan and chest x-ray. I will have results Monday afternoon.)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Crazies are in charge. Anything can happen.

Take a few minutes to read Billmon's latest "Mutually Assured Dementia". Best to do so in the morning when you have an entire day to regroup and get settled enough to sleep.


Yesterday the results of the biopsy revealed an aggressive cancer. Last night I had a dream. Here it is:

I am a young deckhand wearing shorts. Tanned. No shoes. It is a busy harbor scene. No real landscape, only very calm, oily water and a dock. Numerous red tugs manuever close and far. Some are eccentric variations of the traditional silhouette and I marvel at them. The boat I am on is involved with bringing a barge to a dock with other tugs assisting. When we complete the job and get underway I am on the deck which is now spacious, high above the water, reminiscent of a cement barge deck. I stand near a cleat and take a line from a tug below us and secure it to the cleat. I am sure the deckhand below is eyeing my wife who has appeared on the deck with me and that his interest in her is why he tied up to us. But this concern passes quickly and the deckhand flips the line free of the cleat and his boat steams away from us. We get to a dock. I have my old sea bag. The same, army green one I carried year in and year out to the Felicia. I leave it on the dock and go into a tiny, very dark and dingy bar, similar to a place I frequented in Fulton Fish Market.. I do not recognize the bartender. He is a small, bald man, wearing a natty bow tie. Scattered around are fishermen who one time or another worked on Felicia. All are familiar but likely dead. I recognize the thin, lounging Curley Martin, One Eyed Magna, maybe (the original) Tiger Red. Dagfin, the long dead captain, is there. They seem to be waiting for something. I need to pee and open the door to the bathroom. It is filthy. The toilet seems to have overflowed and shit is on the floor. I do not want to go in there barefooted so I leave the bar to go to the boat and retrieve my bag. However the tide has come in. Where I left the bag is under water and the Felicia is nowhere to be seen. I think she is away somewhere for repairs, that the crew is waiting for her, and she will return shortly. I see my bag floating in the water. Strangers in a row boat fish it out and bring it to me. Water pours out but I seem to find my boots amid the clothing. I am relieved to have the bag, grateful to those that pulled it from the water. I think for a moment about how good people are. Another man I take to be a clammer shows me his shoes which have an elaborate contraption that looks a little like a thickly padded bandage attached to the sole. I take it to be something designed to help him walk better on the steel, shell and fish covered deck. No, he says, it is an arch support.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Cheney's pleasures

Here's a quote posted today by Juan Cole.

Eric Haney, a founding member of the Delta Force anti-terrorist unit, has denounced the Iraq War as an "utter debacle," and has blamed widespread US use of torture to the sadism of Dick Cheney, who he says seems to enjoy it. When people like Haney talk like this, it is probably over with.

Here's a LINK to the article/interview Cole references.

With friends like these....

Carl Levin, a Senator trusted and admired by liberal Democrats, sells us out on the domestic phone tap spying issue.

Glen Greenwald has the goods.

Below are a couple of paragraphs and a link. Greenwald first posts a transcript of a Levin interview. The quoted paragraph refers to the interview.

...The whole interview is like that. I just picked the worst of it. Carl Levin obviously believes that it is perfectly acceptable for the President to break the law just as long as it turns out that his illegal conduct is driven by good intentions. ...

...If it turns out that they were not abusing the eavesdropping power, then it is perfectly fine with Sen. Levin if the President broke the law. If the President broke the law, then the duty of the Senate is to "modify the law in order to make it legal" because, after all, the President broke the law for the "right reasons." As Daniel Webster warned: "Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." ...

Great quote from Webster.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

To the rats leaving the ship

The other day, on firedoglake (one of my favorite and maybe the best of blogs) blogger Pachacutec posted a lengthy and, for many, moving apology for having once supported the invasion of Iraq. (LINK) Most of the comments were sympathetic. I'm not. To Pachacutec I say go fuck yourself.

Pachacutec was simply a misguided war supporter and not necessarily a Bush supporter. But it takes an incredible dumbass to have not seen through Bush and everything Bush from the very start. Thanks to the shortsighted Pachacutec type supporters we are where we are.

Jane Smiley has a more lengthy response to former Bush supporters, “Notes for Converts”, posted on The Huffington Post. Below is an excerpt from Smiley’s note #4. In case you’re tempted to go over the top with forgiveness to former Bush supporters, go read the rest of Smiley.

4. President Bush is your creation. When the US Supreme Court humiliated itself in 2000 by handing the presidency to Bush even though two of the justices (Scalia and Thomas) had open conflicts of interest, you did not object. When the Bush administration adopted an "Anything but Clinton" policy that resulted in ignoring and dismissing all warnings of possible terrorist attacks on US soil, you went along with and made excuses for Bush. When the Bush administration allowed the corrupt Enron corporation to swindle California ratepayers and taxpayers in a last ditch effort to balance their books in 2001, you laughed at the Californians and ignored the links between Enron and the administration. When it was evident that the evidence for the war in Iraq was cooked and that State Department experts on the Middle East were not behind the war and so it was going to be run as an exercise in incompetence, you continued to attack those who were against the war in vicious terms and to defend policies that simply could not work.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

U.S. is gone

In case you needed some expert legal opinion on the extent of the coup, here are a couple of paragraphs from "Administration tells Congress (again) - We won't abide by your "laws"" posted on Glen Greenwald’s blog Unclaimed Territory.

...There are numerous noteworthy items, but the most significant, by far, is that the DoJ made clear to Congress that even if Congress passes some sort of newly amended FISA of the type which Sen. DeWine introduced, and even if the President "agrees" to it and signs it into law, the President still has the power to violate that law if he wants to. Put another way, the Administration is telling the Congress -- again -- that they can go and pass all the laws they want which purport to liberalize or restrict the President's powers, and it does not matter, because the President has and intends to preserve the power to do whatever he wants regardless of what those laws provide. ...

....Put another way, the Administration has seized the power of Congress to make the laws, they have seized the power of the judiciary to interpret the laws, and they execute them as well. They have consolidated within themselves all of the powers of the government, particularly with regard to national security. This situation is, of course, exactly what Madison warned about in Federalist 47; it really is the very opposite of everything our Government is intended to be:....

(via Eschaton)

You might want to make Unclaimed Territory a regular stop.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Time for plan B?

When I stopped for a fancy coffee, on the way home from scheduling a biopsy, I asked the woman at the window “how’s business?”

“Slow,” she said. “I think it’s the price of gas cutting into spending money. They say we’ll be paying $4 a gallon by summer.”

She may be right or wrong for the short term, but long term, the reality is that these higher gas prices are just the beginning. Peak oil is coming, soon. With an idiot at the helm, with a crew of psycho fascists running things, we (all of us but the ultra rich and their retinues of personal MDs and ass wipers) are in serious trouble. I hope you’re not expecting Cheney to lend a hand when you’re out of oil, gas, heat, water, and food.

Here’s a book available on line that states the problems and proposes solutions. The site comes with a handy table of contents: Plan B 2.0:
Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Just when I thought all the noise about peak oil had gone away and I was settled back into a complacent snooze, here it comes again, from Wolcott and from Firedoglake.

There are so many reasons that Bush's name should be dragged through the dust of his post-presidency for the harm and disgrace his administration has inflicted, and so impeachable offenses for which he would prosecuted today if we had a Congress worthy of the Founders. His malign indifference to Peak Oil and global warming may be the greatest of his crimes, because it will lead to the misery and deaths of untold millions of people, animals, and natural resources.

Peak oil is around the corner and no matter how many pillows we hide our heads under it's coming and it is bringing with it disaster for all of us down here in the wad. Be comforted, however, the ruling plutocrats and their corporate colleagues, Republicans and Democrats alike, will weather this shit storm in fortified but luxurious comfort.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Neutered and eagerly acquiescent tail waggers

Here's a link to some wise words from Digby about our ineffective Democratic "leaders", posted on the Huffington Post. LINK

And if you're looking for a bright spotin the darkened skies, you might find it in this post from Firedoglake

People have come to believe in the past five years that Karl Rove is all-powerful (he’s not), that Diebold can steal every election (they can’t), that it is just not worth fighting because defeat is inevitable. That is a very dangerous mindset amongst people upon whom you are counting for those 16 points.

I'm not quite so optimistic and have for the Democratic Senators that special loathing reserved for traitors and cowards.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Vacation tips

I copied the below list, the whole thing, from Daniel Kalder's The Lost Cosmonaut website.. The Lost Cosmonaut is also the name of his book which I ordered from Amazon.


(Excerpts from the resolutions passed at the first international congress of Anti- Tourists
at the Shymkent Hotel, Shymkent, Kazakhstan, October 1999)

As the world has become smaller so its wonders have diminished. There is nothing
amazing about the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, or the Pyramids of Egypt. They
are as banal and familiar as the face of a Cornflakes Packet.

Consequently the true unknown frontiers lie elsewhere.

The duty of the traveller therefore is to open up new zones of experience. In our over
explored world these must of necessity be wastelands, black holes, and grim urban
blackspots: all the places which, ordinarily, people choose to avoid.

The only true voyagers, therefore, are anti- tourists. Following this logic we declare that:

The anti-tourist does not visit places that are in any way desirable.

The anti-tourist eschews comfort.

The anti-tourist embraces hunger and hallucinations and shit hotels.

The anti-tourist seeks locked doors and demolished buildings.

The anti-tourist scorns the bluster and bravado of the daredevil, who attempts to

penetrate danger zones such as Afghanistan. The only thing that lies behind this is

vanity and a desire to brag.

The anti-tourist travels at the wrong time of year.

The anti-tourist prefers dead things to living ones.

The anti-tourist is humble and seeks invisibility.

The anti-tourist is interested only in hidden histories, in delightful obscurities, in bad art.

The anti-tourist believes beauty is in the street.

The anti-tourist holds that whatever travel does, it rarely broadens the mind.

The anti-tourist values disorientation over enlightenment.

The anti-tourist loves truth, but he is also partial to lies. Especially his own.

I found this on 3 Quarks Daily, where I find something fascinating every day. Link

Monday, March 13, 2006

Jews, you're out

I post these two paragraphs from this Jerry Falwell article "A GRACIOUS CORRECTION OF THE JERUSALEM POST" as a heads up for my Jewish friends.

Earlier today, reports began circulating across the globe that I have recently stated that Jews can go to heaven without being converted to Jesus Christ. This is categorically untrue....

...While I am a strong supporter of the State of Israel and dearly love the Jewish people and believe them to be the chosen people of God, I continue to stand on the foundational biblical principle that all people — Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, Jews, Muslims, etc. — must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ in order to enter heaven. ...


The voting game

My county (Monroe, Pennsylvania) has decided to lease computer voting systems to be in place for the primaries.

So, why bother voting?

Is there any reason not to assume that the machines are programmed to deliver predetermined results, subtly crafted to closely mimic local expectations and perhaps raise eyebrows, but certainly not outrage.

It’s the new American reality game. After the results are determined, we vote, go home feeling good, wondering about the turnout, the campaign successes and other delusions. We wait excitedly for the results. Marvel at how wrong the exit and pre election polls can be and then saddened by yet another defeat, we mourn, regain our resolve and commit to trying harder next time, patriotically confident that our system is the best in the world and God smiles on us.

Our beloved betters at play

“The Gridiron's Betters, Skewered With a Butter Knife” is a fun filled article in Sunday’s Washington Post, the article gives a glimpse of our plutocrats at play. These dandies of all political stripes, out of sight and earshot of those of us down here in the wad, cavort away with biting satire, yucking it up over such hilarity as rendition, torture, domestic spying and other funnies from the real world.
Tim Russert, making his first appearance as a new member, decked out in a blue dress and a shiny blond wig as one of the cable news bunnies. But there were also some true clunkers. Singing about torture, subbing "rendition" for "tradition" and borrowing the "Fiddler on the Roof" song was not funny at all. The chumminess of the politicos and the press corps can be cloying.

They’re all one big happy family folks, our beloved betters loving their tax cuts for the rich, sharing the wealth and feeling smug about the unstated understanding that anything that keeps them all at the feast, journalists, congressional reps, and Bushistas alike is a good thing. LINK

We are so screwed.

via eschaton

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Fascism reasserts its grip

The despicable Patriot Act makes the word "patriot" itself an obscenity.

Four Senators (only four, Feingold, Byrd, Harkin and Jeffords) voted against it. LINK

Has there ever been a sorrier bunch of pantywaists than the current U.S. Senate? Is their anything other than the risk of losing their own privileged seats that could motivate Democratic Senators to offer meaningful resistance to the incompetent, outlaw Bush regime of torturers, butchers and thieves?

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Torture is us

We are well on our way to becoming one with all the worst regimes of modern history. By becoming torturers we have crossed a terrible line into territory from which we may not be able to return. There is no way to justify government sanctioned torture. Torture is always wrong. That is a simple truth, no matter what the despicable Cheney/ Bush thugs do to confuse the issue, a moral Polaris that, if we keep a steady fix on it, will help us to surely distinguish between the good guys and those that are absolutely evil.

This Sunday there is an editorial in the New York Times about the horrendous, but now legally sanctioned kidnapping, shipping off to a Syrian cell and torture of Maher Arar, who, everyone agrees, is an innocent man. Here it is

February 26, 2006
A Judicial Green Light for Torture

The administration's tendency to dodge accountability for lawless actions by resorting to secrecy and claims of national security is on sharp display in the case of a Syrian-born Canadian, Maher Arar, who spent months under torture because of United States action. A federal trial judge in Brooklyn has refused to stand up to the executive branch, in a decision that is both chilling and ripe for prompt overturning.

Mr. Arar, a 35-year-old software engineer whose case has been detailed in a pair of columns by Bob Herbert, was detained at Kennedy Airport in 2002 while on his way home from a family vacation. He was held in solitary confinement in a Brooklyn detention center and interrogated without proper access to legal counsel. Finally, he was shipped off to a Syrian prison. There, he was held for 10 months in an underground rat-infested dungeon and brutally tortured because officials suspected that he was a member of Al Qaeda. All this was part of a morally and legally unsupportable United States practice known as "extraordinary rendition," in which the federal government outsources interrogations to regimes known to use torture and lacking fundamental human rights protections.

The maltreatment of Mr. Arar would be reprehensible — and illegal under the United States Constitution and applicable treaties — even had the suspicions of terrorist involvement proven true. But no link to any terrorist organization or activity emerged, which is why the Syrians eventually released him. Mr. Arar then sued for damages.

The judge in the case, David Trager of Federal District Court in Brooklyn, did not dispute that United States officials had reason to know that Mr. Arar faced a likelihood of torture in Syria. But he took the rare step of blocking the lawsuit entirely, saying that the use of torture in rendition cases is a foreign policy question not appropriate for court review, and that going forward would mean disclosing state secrets.

It is hard to see why resolving Mr. Arar's case would necessitate the revelation of privileged material. Moreover, as the Supreme Court made clear in a pair of 2004 decisions rebuking the government for its policies of holding foreign terrorism suspects in an indefinite legal limbo in Guantánamo and elsewhere, even during the war on terror, the government's actions are subject to court review and must adhere to the rule of law.

With the Bush administration claiming imperial powers to detain, spy on and even torture people, and the Republican Congress stuck largely in enabling mode, the role of judges in checking executive branch excesses becomes all the more crucial. If the courts collapse when confronted with spurious government claims about the needs of national security, so will basic American liberties.

Also, the current New Yorker article “Annals of the Pentagon, THE MEMO, How an internal effort to ban the abuse and torture of detainees was thwarted", by Jane Mayer, portrays the despicable maneuverings of the Cheney/Rumsfeld sycophants to provide legal cover for torture. The article is on line.

Mayer attributes the quote below to Alberto J. Mora, the now outgoing general counsel of the United States Navy, a conservative with a well functioning moral compass. From a few paragraphs into the article:

...“To my mind, there’s no moral or practical distinction,” he (Mora) told me. “If cruelty is no longer declared unlawful, but instead is applied as a matter of policy, it alters the fundamental relationship of man to government. It destroys the whole notion of individual rights. The Constitution recognizes that man has an inherent right, not bestowed by the state or laws, to personal dignity, including the right to be free of cruelty. It applies to all human beings, not just in America—even those designated as ‘unlawful enemy combatants.’ If you make this exception, the whole Constitution crumbles. It’s a transformative issue.”...

I can not grasp how it has happened that we have allowed these incompetent vicious beasts running our country to torture, to ignore law, principles, and the Constitution without meaningful challenge and resistance. Our compliance will be a shame that will outlive us all. It makes me sick.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Pennacchio 2

The Sideshow suggests getting these lists of the three main Pennsylvania Senators' positions on the issues in front of Pennsylvania voters.

Here are the lists:

Rick Santorum (Republican)
On abortion – pro-life
On stem cell research – opposed
Accepts PAC money – yes
War in Iraq – it was the right thing to do
Troops in Iraq – stay the course
National Health Care – opposed
Raising the minimum wage – supports an increase of $1.10
NAFTA/CAFTA – supports CAFTA; opposed NAFTA
Alito confirmation to Supreme Court – supports confirmation

Bob Casey, Jr. (Democrat)
On abortion – pro-life
On stem cell research – opposed
Accepts PAC money – yes, but not corporate or industry
War in Iraq – supported
Troops in Iraq – stay the course
National Health Care – opposed
Raising the minimum wage – supports
NAFTA/CAFTA – opposed both
Alito confirmation to Supreme Court – supports confirmation

Chuck Pennacchio (Democrat)
On abortion – pro-choice
On stem cell research – supports
Accepts PAC money – no
War in Iraq – opposed
Troops in Iraq – out as soon as safely possible
National Health Care – supports
Raising the minimum wage – supports living wage with different levels depending on where the worker lives
NAFTA/CAFTA – opposed both
Alito confirmation to Supreme Court – supports a filibuster

Damn little difference between Casey and Santorum.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


My fellow Pennsylvania voters who are disgusted with having to chose between voting for Casey (who jumped at the chance to support Alito) or not voting really need to visit The Sideshow, read the post and follow the links.

The short version: Pennacchio is a viable candidate and worth voting for, not a candidate you have to hold your nose, close your eyes, flip the lever and drive home disgusted over.

Check out The SideShow LINK


There is so much stuff going on that it’s impossible to keep up. I’ve been reading and not posting. However, the vote fraud Raw Story quoted from below should not get lost entirely in the VP Fudd shotguning news, the VP falsely claiming the right to declassify documents news, and much more. No wonder Cheney tries to avoid speaking.

Check out this story below and think of it as a harbinger of things to come. After the wall begins to crack, the process accelerates and it comes crashing down much more quickly than we could ever reasonably expect.

The Maryland State Board of Elections allowed Diebold Election Systems to operate its touch-screen voting machines during the state's 2002 gubernatorial election and the 2004 presidential primaries before the state agency actually certified the controversial machines, according to recently disclosed documents.

That is a violation of state law, according to Linda Schade, executive director of, an election integrity group….

…In November 2002, Lamone, a Democrat, allowed Diebold to operate its machines in four counties for the state gubernatorial election. That was when Ehrlich became the first Republican governor to be elected in 36 years in what had always been known as a solidly Democratic state.

That was also the year when a Republican political newcomer, a self-described "nobody," ousted a veteran Democratic state senator in what The Baltimore Sun described as "one of the most remarkable election upsets in recent Maryland political history."

After serving for several decades, Democratic House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. lost his Allegany County seat to LeRoy E. Myers. Allegany County was one of the four counties where Diebold machines were used that year.

To stay on the crest of what's happening with Cheney, go to firedoglake and look around. They are way ahead.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Minor heart attack

From firedoglake:

Dick Cheney is not the big, tough bwana hunter he pretends to be. He uses a little girl gun on canned hunts and hides behind a woman's skirts to evade responsibility for shooting an old man in the face.

I will keep saying that over and over and over again.

jane hamsher

quoted from her "Comments" in her blog.

Also, is any heart attack minor?

Monday, February 13, 2006

A billion a year on pr

It takes a lot of shoveling to cover up the Bush mess, sell the Iraq war and keep the American wad convinced they live in a Democracy.

From The Raw Story

Today Rep. Henry A. Waxman, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Rep. George Miller, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, and other senior Democrats released a new Government Accountability Office report finding that the Bush Administration spent more than $1.6 billion in public relations and media contracts in a two and a half year span.

"The government is spending over a billion dollars per year on PR and advertising," said Rep. Waxman. "Careful oversight of this spending is essential given the track record of the Bush Administration, which has used taxpayer dollars to fund covert propaganda within the United States."

Caught with the smoking gun after gunning down a Texas crony while cruising the brush with a couple of women will take a heap of cash to fix.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Hunter safety course?

The key to the story is no longer how closely Harry Whittington resembles a quail. The latest, more embellished story suggests that it was Harry's fault. He snuck up on Dick.

Armstrong said she was watching from a car while Cheney, Whittington and another hunter got out of the vehicle to shot at a covey of quail late afternoon on Saturday.

Whittington shot a bird and went to look for it in the tall grass, while Cheney and the third hunter walked to another spot and found a second covey.

Whittington "came up from behind the vice president and the other hunter and didn't signal them or indicate to them or announce himself," Armstrong told the Associated Press in an interview.

It does the Sportsmen for Bush/Cheney proud, not to mention Cheney's NRA pals. Can we see that photo again where they present him with a rifle?

On update, a few questions:

Why did they wait nearly a day to release the story?
Was Cheney drunk?
Was he hunting the birds from a car?
Who were the other "hunters"?

Friday, February 10, 2006

Soon it may not be the Europe you remember

I don't want to risk cartooning this. But it's an interesting observation I thought I'd pass along.

...Islam is the fastest growing religion in Europe. The demographic trends are ominous: Given current birthrates, France could be a majority Muslim country in 25 years, and that is if immigration were to stop tomorrow....

From "Sam Harris on the Reality of Islam" on Truthdig

The article quoted from above is very much anti Islamic. Whether it consoles anyone who is offended or not, Sam Harris is anti all religions and apparently sees them as major contributors to conflict. He carries my own aversion to religious fundamentalism in any form a few steps farther.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Sharing the wealth

The Nation's Dual Political Dynasties Are Growing Closer Than Arm's Length


WASHINGTON, Feb. 8 — When the Bushes and Clintons held hands before 15,000 mourners at Coretta Scott King's funeral on Tuesday, it looked like a prayerful moment in the life of the nation. But as almost anyone watching America's two leading political families knew, underneath the tranquil image was a drama of ambition, rivalry, love and alliance that could shape the 2008 presidential election. …

…It was one of the most public manifestations to date of the odd friendship and mutual need of two dynasties that, on the surface at least, have almost nothing in common. But as President Bush put it in an interview with CBS News last month, "Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton." Mr. Bush made the remark in a telling exchange with Bob Schieffer, who said, "Well, you know, if Senator Clinton becomes president."…

Bumiller is never to be trusted. But even so, this quote, from the NYT, (and the every day reports on our preening , clubby Senators) underlines the reality of our plutocracy. Those at the top who are superficially opponents are more closely allied with each other to ensure continuation of the status quo than they are with principles or with the interests of voters. The Constitution does not prescribe the system of government; it has become a collection of shape shifting slogans expeditiously fitted to any situation.

American Democracy, as we thought it was, is over. Maybe it has been for a long time and we simply did not know it. Either way we are now watching a new system of government emerge--one that has some of the characteristics of fascism, plutocracy, and a new corporatocracy. Those of us with no connections to the top tier are toast. We will be stripped of our security and squished into a timid, ever more malleable wad desperate to serve the plutocrats for whatever trickles down or dribbles out of their well stuffed pockets.

Here in Pennsylvania we are faced with both the Democratic Governor Rendell (whose wife Midge served with Alito on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals) going out of his way, on FOX, to announce support of Alito, and Casey (a member of a local dynasty himself), the likely nominee to oppose Santorum, also announcing support, both at the very time some Democrats were trying (lamely) to put together support for a filibuster. LINK

Not much to vote for here in Pennsylvania.

Monday, February 06, 2006


I’m sure the Sportsmen for Bush down at the corner tavern are pretty firm in their support of cartoons depicting Mohammed and our right to publicly ridicule. If I find myself agreeing with them about anything, I know it’s time for me to carefully examine my position.

Having the "right" doesn't necessarily mean we should do something. In the cartoon situation, I think we can defend the "right" to cartoon (to me even the word is funny) without endorsing the propriety of publishing cartoons that are offensive to so many. Ultimately, I don't think a stand is required. Maybe the best solution is a “let it blow over approach.” Stop running the cartoons, at least until people are no longer rioting and being killed over cartoons, without making a statement or explanation. We don’t always have to take a stand and some conflicts simply can’t be resolved.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Ukes for troops

You’re probably well ahead of me on this, but in case not, you might want to contemplate the impact a boat load of ukuleles could have on the Iraq war, especially if we expanded the program to include insurgents as well as U.S. troops. If you do think about this program, like me you might come to the conclusion that settling issues with dueling ukuleles might be a good way to go.

For those of you not already involved, here’s a LINK to the Ukes for Troops website.

I found the site (can we call it a movement?) this morning via WNTI radio’s Flaming Ukulele radio hour.

Captain George Bush and the Republican crew?

From this Reuters story: "Red Sea ferry survivors say captain fled"

...We were wearing lifejackets but they told us there was nothing wrong, told us to take them off and they took away the lifejackets. Then the boat started to sink and the captain took a boat and left," he added, speaking to Reuters Television.

"The captain was the first to leave and we were surprised to see the boat sinking," added Khaled Hassan, another survivor.

Other survivors also reported that the crew had played down the gravity of the situation and withheld lifejackets.

"There was a fire but the crew stopped the people from putting on lifejackets so that it wouldn't cause a panic," said Abdel Raouf Abdel Nabi, one of the survivors.

"There was a blaze down below. The crew said 'Don't worry, we will put it out.' When things got really bad the crew just went off in the lifeboats and left us on board," said Nader Galal Abdel Shafi, another arrival on the same rescue boat....

Even if Bush and Cheney weren't aboard, they certainly subscribe to the same approach to leadership. Lie to the people, take care of yourself first and screw everyone else.

Friday, February 03, 2006

More lies, more evidence

If you want to get the latest, breaking details on Plamegate, trumped up reasons to invade Iraq, and evidence that Cheney knew the wmd tale was a lie, here’s a LINK, and be sure to follow the links from there.

The Left Coaster via Firedoglake And don't miss Waas

What's surprising is how damn clumsy they are. If we had an honest press or an honest Attorney General, the Bush gang would be on the spit and well roasted long ago.


This morning I was entertained by reading Bush’s prewar scheme to justify war with Iraq: paint a plane with UN insignias and provoke the Iraqis into shooting it down. LINK. This crackpot plan could have been cooked up by a crew of roofers slugging down lunchtime beers in the Flying Dutchman saloon. No wonder Bush has support from the Sportsmen for Bush gang. They are on the same wave length, together stumbling lost in the murky woods between here and the Halfwit Hills.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

What a fucking waste

Could the Democrats have found a less inspiring spokesperson than Tim Kaine?

Even Gergen, on CNN right now, describes the Democrats as spineless.

I have been a Democrat all my life. When I was young it was a kick your teeth in party of longshoremen, cops, and intellectuals. Who knows what it is now. But whatever it is it embarrasses me, makes me sick and I'm ashamed to be associated with it.

Reality based resistance

Thanks mainly to the cowardly, ineffectual Democratic Senators; the Y2K coup is now complete. The fascist Right now controls all branches of the government and can now devote all resources to maintaining power. They can accelerate the dismantling of the constitution and the movement of wealth to their friends and allies in the corporatocracy. Expect them to use U.S. military power to continue seeking control of all the world’s energy resources resulting in lots more little wars, coups and assassinations.

Here at home we can look forward to torture, arrest and murder becoming, more than ever, politics as usual.

Best we can hope for is the collapse of the Right under the weight of their own stone cold stupidity while we well meaning Liberals continue in a hallucinatory daze to nominate candidates, send money and play sincerely our parts through the election cycle of hope, disappointment and despair as if it were all real and elections were more than theatrical productions with predetermined outcomes.

If the Democratic Senators wish to change the course and redeem themselves, they should get up and walk out during this evening’s superfluous state-of-the-union address. At least then the reality of the situation would be boldly outlined and that could be the beginning of reality based resistance. But they won’t, of course. The seats are too comfortable.

Ready for the roundup

Here’s something that Patty Sheehan needs to know, especially if her camp out at the ranch is joined by Venezuela’s President Chavez.

A new provision tucked into the Patriot Act bill now before Congress would allow authorities to haul demonstrators at any "special event of national significance" away to jail on felony charges if they are caught breaching a security perimeter.

Sen. Arlen Specter , R-Pa., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sponsored the measure, which would extend the authority of the Secret Service to allow agents to arrest people who willingly or knowingly enter a restricted area at an event, even if the president or other official normally protected by the Secret Service isn't in attendance at the time.

The measure has civil libertarians protesting what they say is yet another power grab for the executive branch and one more loss for free speech.

"It's definitely problematic and chilling," said Lisa Graves, senior counsel for legislative strategy at the American Civil Liberties Union , which has written letters to the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, pointing out that the provision wasn't subject to hearings or open debate.... LINK

Business as usual

My guess is that even those Democratic Senators who voted in favor of an Alito filibuster did so only because they counted the votes and knew it would fail. Taking falsely principled stands on hopeless issues is one of their often used tactics. It allows them to posture grandly before their constituents. Watch them all piously vote “NO” in the Alito confirmation vote, taking cover once again by casting a meaningless vote.

This batch of Democratic Senators love for their privileges is far greater than commitment to any principle. Along with their pals, their Republican colleagues and also the equally privileged superstar members of the media, their main goal is always to preserve the status quo where they all sit comfortably near the top of the American plutocracy.

Soon a little cluster of Democratic Senators will skip off to compete in the presidential primaries. Very likely once again one of them will win and we will get excited about their gibberish and posturing and starry eyed we will troop off to vote in another predetermined, meaningless election.

What a mess.

(UPDATE: digby has a more eloguent, more optimistic, more in depth analysis, here LINK)

Monday, January 30, 2006

How it works

A peek at how the corporatocracy works from a book review in the Guardian.

...In 1972 Perkins went to see the then dictator of Panama, General Omar Torrijos. Torrijos was a nationalist who was eager to wrest control of the Panama Canal from the US. Perkins went in to read him the riot act and came out with what sounded like an agreement. Some years later, Torrijos started talking to the Japanese about building a larger, sea-level canal for Panama that would have undermined American influence and corporate interests in the area. One night in 1981 Torrijos died when his Twin Otter aircraft crashed under mysterious circumstances. Perkins is convinced he was killed by US interests who placed a bomb on the plane. Had he lived, Perkins writes in his book, Confessions Of An Economic Hit Man, "He would have served as a role model for a generation of leaders in the Americas, Africa and Asia - something the CIA, the NSA [National Security Agency] and the EHMs [economic hit men] could not allow."

Economic hit men resort to such heavy-handed tactics, says Perkins, only when all other means of leverage have failed. The rest of the time they would employ a mixture of bribery, sex, flattery, prostitution, distortion, extortion, abduction and invasion to get their own way. "Sex was a very common tool used by economic hit men," Perkins says. "It was not uncommon for us to seduce wives of oil company executives because that was a way of gaining information and learning things about their husbands."

If the threats of the economic hit men don't persuade, the "jackals" will come in to make good on them. The jackals, says Perkins, are the CIA-sanctioned heavy mob who foment coups and revolutions, murder, abduction and assassination. And when the jackals fail, as was the case in Iraq, then the military goes in.

Economic hit men, Perkins says, work entirely separately but completely in concert with the state. Perkins never once reported to a US government agency - but he is in little doubt that the US government always knew and approved of what he was doing. His task, he says, was to ensure that US business interests came out on top, regardless of who won an election, and that the American wealthy were further enriched, regardless of who was impoverished as a result....
LINK via 3Quarks Daily

(Wellstone fans should note the use of the small plane as murder weapon.)

Anti Alito staging area

Even though it's the last minute, it is still possible to have an impact. If you want to get in the fight against Alito a good place to start is Firedoglake. Everything you need to get active is there.


Serious challenges in the primaries might awaken some anti fascist attitudes in our somnolent Democratic Senators.

At a press conference in Venezuela, alongside President Chavez, Patty Sheehan said she might run for the Senate.

Sheehan, who lives in Berkeley, Calif., said Saturday that she is strongly considering challenging Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein because the lawmaker will not support calls to immediately bring the troops home.

Sheehan, 48, said running in the Democratic primary in June would help "bring attention to all the peace candidates in the country."

Sheehan, who was visiting Venezuela for the six-day forum along with other anti-war and anti-globalization activists, told The Associated Press that she decide whether to run after talking with her three adult children in California.

Sheehan accused Feinstein of being out of touch with Californians on the war in Iraq. Feinstein's campaign manager said the senator did not support Bush and felt she had been misled by his administration.
LINK via the Raw Story

Chavez said Sheehan invited him to join her in setting up tents at Bush's ranch.

Fool me once...

Republican election theft is the most important political issue we face. Why invest time, energy and fantasy in picking candidates when the problems that allowed the election thefts in 2000 and 2004 have not been addressed? If anything, the stakes are even higher now and you can bet that impeachment wary Republicans will have their fraud machine updated, tuned up and supercharged to meet the challenges of 06. All they need do is target selected, vulnerable districts—just enough to ensure continued control of both houses.

Don’t expect much help from incumbent Democrats. Most have revealed themselves to be more interested in keeping their comfortable seats than presenting an effective challenge to Republicans. Being a minority Democratic Senator is a great job and, since they have no control, they bear no responsibility for whatever the Senate does or does not do. All they have to do is spoon out a little spunk now and then and reelection is assured. Where else are the anti Bush votes going to go?

For more on how we lost before, how examination of vote fraud is stifled, and how we’re going to lose again, here’s a link to an informative, but brief interview with Mark Crispin Miller, via The Sideshow.