Monday, December 31, 2007

Oligarchical decay--Glenn Greenwald

This may be the best essay ever from a consistently good author. You must read this masterpiece. No other comment is necessary. Quiz later.

Some tragic consequences of greed-Iraq is dying

Our nation is engaged in a years long occupation of Iraq following a pre-emptive invasion driven entirely by the profits to be made, and we are a nation of murderers. We have killed over 1,000,000 Iraqis and that shameful total will pale with the passage of time and the dead continue to pile up. The final death toll from our incursion may not ever be known, but it will assuredly be multiples of the figures we have today.

I have a question for all of the defense contractors, and the Pentagon brass, and the war profiteers, and the people who work for them, and the shareholders, and our fine legislators who enable this slaughter, and the media mouthpieces who screech the administration line--Does it bother you in the least that your money is soaked in human blood?

Food is becoming scarce in Iraq now, the doctors have fled in large numbers, simple sanitation is almost non-existent, and our continued presence exacerbates the problems. The factional fighting in and out of the government, coupled with rampant corruption, means that solutions to these problems will not be found or implemented until the divisions are healed. That will not happen as long as we are an occupying force.

But I digress. The last tally indicates that we started a chain of events that have made orphans of 5,000,000 Iraqi children so far. They will be lucky to live to adulthood, considering the conditions I have described. And what kind of people will they become if they do live?

And thanks to the nuclear industry, we will be spreading birth defects and cancer deaths for 4.5 billion years. Depleted Uranium (DU) is a byproduct of the process used to convert uranium into nuclear weapons and reactor fuel, and we have loads of this "low-level" radioactive waste just sitting around. Our weapons manufacturers, however, have discovered that this extremely dense material is useful in armor-piercing shells. The military loves the stuff, and although they treat it like the very essence of death in their internal policies, publicly defend it as harmless, and have gifted Iraq with over 2,000 tons of it since the first Gulf War.

Cancer deaths and serious birth defects will increase dramatically as the effects of the DU scattered throughout the now-radioactive Iraq soil work their inexorable magic.

Given the seriousness and diversity of the problems we have created, I cannot fathom how the Iraqi's can survive as a peoples, much less as a viable culture.

Murder, Inc. pays dividends into perpetuity. Hold onto your stock. Go shopping.

Don't adjust your radio, you're in "The Romney Zone"

There are some things happening that give rise to oddball speculation.

A private equity firm founded by Republican Presidential contender Mitt Romney is attempting to get regulatory approval to purchase Clear Channel Communications, which owns over 1,200 radio stations and 30 tv stations. Considering the makeup of the FCC, it shouldn't be a problem. Romney, who founded Bain Capital Partners LLC, no longer sits on their board of directors, but almost assuredly retains a financial interest. A media giant controlling 9% of the radio waves would be quite a tool for someone running for President, but maybe he has something else in mind for the long term.

As you may have heard, Romney is a devout Mormon, a church often described as a cult, and which has some very odd (to the uninitiated) beliefs. Beliefs odd enough that it wouldn't surprise me to learn that they are negotiating with the government of Guyana to build a huge temple and a Kool-Aid factory in Jonestown. And, they are very much into spreading the word through intense missionary work.

With that in mind, just imagine using Clear Channel's airwaves to broadcast the Mormon message to the masses 24 hours a day. Wouldn't that be educational? Now I'm sure that most of you don't have a Clear Channel station in your area, but I live in the Cincinnati, OH area, and the dominant station by far is Clear Channel affiliate WLW, a putrid 50,000 watt right-wing behemoth. I can just see their "personalities" reading from the Mormon scripture all day long, interspersed with public service announcements from the Chamber of Commerce and the Republican National Committee. That potential scenario would be worse (by a little) than what we have here now, and if repeated nationally, would be a disaster for anyone with a brain.

Yes, this is off-the-wall, but remember--in America anything is possible.

Almost totally off-subject, "someone" recently sent a holiday card, purporting to be from the Romney family and falsely claiming to have been paid for by the Boston Mass. Temple, to registered Republicans in South Carolina. The card contains passages from The Book of Mormon designed to give voters the "willies" before the primary. The Republicans have no, absolutely no, ethics and will stoop to any underhanded method they can dream of to smear an opponent. Whether the facts about Romney are accurate or not should not even be a consideration when judging the morality of these tactics. They are never justified. And they're just getting started. You can always spot the people who pull this crap--they're the ones who leave a slime trail.

In closing, I will defend Romney by saying that he is really no worse than any of the other GOP contenders--Every one of them is determined to turn the U.S. into either a fascist state or a theocracy or a combination of the two.

The ugly, the bad, and the ugly

Here are links to four sites and articles which are not really connected, but which I found to be interesting. Hope they're useful to you.

American Institute of Philanthropy
This website is worth checking out before you donate to any charity, especially since some that just sound wonderful only give as little as one per cent of the money they take in to the cause they espouse. It's the new American way-- profiting from others misery and sucking in the gullible.

Download Uproar: Record Industry Goes after Personal Use
( 12/30/07)
The egregiously greedy recording industry, already having filed about 20,000 lawsuits against people who download free music and share tunes, has now filed a suit against some poor guy who owns 2,000 CD's and downloaded them on to his own computer. They are claiming that the MP3 files he made from his legally owned CD's are "unauthorized copies".
How long before they claim that it's illegal to listen to the CD's themselves?

Circuit City reaps what it sowed
(The Agonist 12/26/07)
Several months back, Circuit City, in an admirable display of "corporate conscience", canned 3,000 experienced retail salespeople and replaced them with new workers who could be paid much less. That sort of thing is supposed to be good for the bottom line, and for shareholder equity. Well, HA HA HA!! Their stock, which was around $25.00/share last December, has dropped to $5.06/ per share as of Friday. Greed kills, and it couldn't have happened to a more deserving company. If all of the greedy corporations who pad their bottoms lines by screwing their employees suffered a similar fate, Costco would be about the only company left.

U.S. seen internationally as an "Endemic Surveillance Society"
(Think Progress 12/30/07)
Privacy International
I saved this one for the bottom of the list for a reason--It's where the U.S. stands in the world in protecting the privacy rights of its citizens. To earn this distinction, our government had to trample on a lot of Constitutional rights and break a shitload of laws, but nothing ventured- nothing gained, and the Bush administrations single-minded pursuit of its goal has brought us an honor reserved for what are commonly the most repressive regimes on Earth. Doesn't it give you a warm feeling? Makes you want to salute "Old Glory"? Want to whisper the good news to your neighbors?


I'm as guilty as the next person about forgetting what it is that makes me "me". Liberals have lived for years now under assault by people who demonize our core values, and we tend to lose ourselves by lashing back at those who attack us. Instead of holding to the attitudes and values that define us as liberals, we often forget them in our outrage, and thereby lessen ourselves.

Our values are based on empathy, which begets caring, equality, justice, and generosity of spirit. It must be remembered that others, who demean these values, are not like us. Their values tend to be self-centered, and greedy, and punitive. We run the risk of becoming like them when we respond to them in kind. And it's hard not to when we see the the tremendous damage done to our country as well as the rest of the world by those who hate and those whose only goal is the accumulation of wealth and power.

And so it's important that step away from the"hate and rage" mode that we fall into and look within ourselves periodically to re-connect with our souls. We dare not lose sight of what it is that forms the base of our morality, lest we become like those we loathe.

One way that I do this is by watching "The Dash Movie" every so often. Many of you have seen this, but it is definitely worth watching again, and again. You might find it "sappy", but the basic simple truths so eloquently set forth resonate powerfully in me, and describe perfectly why I am a liberal.

A friend sent me an e-mail recently with an inspirational story, which was obviously a fiction designed to deliver the moral, which mirrors that of "The Dash Movie": "We will not be remembered by our words , but by our kind deeds. Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments which take our breath", and "It's not what you gather, but what you scatter that tells what kind of life you have lived".

And so, my friends, take a little time and rediscover what is truly important, so that your actions can be guided accordingly. Know your enemies, don't become like your enemy, and when you make that critical distinction, you can proceed to smite them soundly for what they have done, but for all the right reasons .

Friday, December 28, 2007

To Sen. Craig and the rest--"Sorry"

For the new year, I hereby resolve to "narrow my stance", if you will, on the hypocrisy of gay Republicans. I will soften my crude sophomoric criticism of the all the closeted (or water-closeted) Republican politicians who have been busted (and 2007 had a banner crop) for soliciting gay sex in restrooms and elsewhere, while loudly proclaiming their anti-gay beliefs and legislating accordingly.

Not that they don't deserve all the bashing they get, but I'm the wrong person to do it. I am ashamed to admit that I have a serious shortcoming that, when I compare my typing skills to their sexual needs, would make it hypocritical on my part to continue criticizing their hypocrisy. I am simply not in a "position" to continue my attacks.

To the victims of my acerbic wit:

Although your numbers are legion, I will address my apology to the foremost among you, Senator Larry Craig (R-ID), the "capo de capo frutti" of the Senate Republicans, and trust you will accept it as if it were given to each of you in person.

Senator Craig, I extend my deepest apologies for the unfair treatment I have visited upon you. In the spirit of the new year, and in keeping with my belief in giving a sucker an even break, you shall no longer suffer the slings and arrows of my outrageous keyboard. And why is that, you ask? It's very simple, Senator-- I can't type worth a damn, and that means we're both just "hunt 'n peckers".



Read this from The Raw Story, and watch the video.

What we have here is a group of guys who have decided that Christianity is "too soft". So many broads filling the pews that a manly man can't even fart in church, so they're taking their message on the road to show Christian men that Jesus had Him a tough side that churches don't want them to know about.

A real man's Jesus is the one that beat the crap out of the money changers. He don't take nothin' from nobody. He makes enemies so He can pray for them while He beats them to a bloody pulp. That Jesus belongs to the NRA and rules his house with His wife as a junior partner, and she better not forget it. That Jesus can cure his homosexuality, and screw any man who doesn't believe it. And so on.

These "GodMen" proudly proclaim they are not a church, but they sure seem like one-- if you watched the video, you'll have noticed that they raked in $68 apiece from 300 good Christian men. Let's see, that comes to a little over $20,000 in the collection plate.

I'm guessing they are going to use all of the proceeds to expand their ministry, and that before long you will see "GodMen Groups" performing at rodeos, car races, gun shows, hunting lodges, building implosions, Rambo movies and other manly venues.

A short prayer: "Thank you Jesus, for giving me the smarts to turn Your message on its ass".

To the "GodMen": Please be considerate-- when you die, look down and shout "INCOMING!".

Thompson blames Hispanics for mortgage disaster

It's not the fault of our honest, selfless, hard-working mortgage specialists, or the banks, brokers, hedge funds or their friends in the regulatory agencies that are responsible for the crisis in which well over 1 million people will lose their homes-- it's those Spanish-spiccin' dirty illegal brown-skinned under-educated "people"who couldn't understand that they were being talked into buying a house they couldn't pay for.

At least, that's what Fred "Joe Bob" Thompson said in "softer" language at an Iowa campaign stop.

You might be tempted to say that Thompson's dismally stupid remarks are nothing more that a desperate appeal from a failing campaign, but it's more than that, and much more troubling.

What Thompson said is typical of the race-baiting engaged in by almost all of the Republican presidential contenders, and by most of the other Republicans running for national office. They are appealing to the basest prejudices of the basest segment of their base-- the folks in this country who "love and live to hate". The Republicans spread racist divisiveness like a dirty needle spreads AIDS, injecting their message at every opportunity into addicts who can't wait for their next "high". It's a great way to build loyalty. And votes. And to keep our citizens from uniting against the Republican's true agenda of turning America into a country with 299 million slaves and 1 million masters.

The Republicans know they can't survive honest debate on real issues, and so the message keeps going out 24/7/365. It's incessant, unrelenting, sometimes almost subliminal but always there, like Muzak, playing a "One-note Sambo". If we are to reclaim this country for our citizens, we must silence the hate-mongers by ripping those speakers out of the walls.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Genocide by greed--Suicide by selfishness

I'm not scholarly, and in any case, the issues I'm going to comment on are far too complex to cover fully, but there are, nonetheless, points I feel must be made.

As a nation, we have four percent of the world's population but consume twenty-five percent of the world's energy. Far from proving that we are the "greatest nation on Earth", it only proves that we are the most selfish.

We are conditioned to believe that we somehow have a right to the energy supplies of the world because we need them. But, do we? And don't other people have a right to them as well to satisfy their requirements?There are finite quantities of our major energy supplies, and as easily-tapped supplies diminish, and without developing new, alternative sources to replace the coal, oil, and natural gas that we are burning through, our energy producers are wreaking ever more egregious environmental atrocities to to meet demand, at ever-increasing cost. And we seem willing to pay ever higher prices to satisfy our gluttony--simply by outbidding everyone else-- and disregarding the "collateral damage" of a raped planet.

Not that the producers mind, because they will do anything necessary to protect their astronomical profits. As long as we continue our slavish enslavement to products that consume our energy supplies without regard to the problems that such consumption creates, we deserve much, if not most, of the blame for the ruination of the planet we live on. Gas-guzzling vehicles, inefficient lighting, consumer electronics like 500 sq ft tv's and video games that are totally unnecessary to survival, and inefficient heating systems, etc. illustrate the depths of our selfishness. Can we not understand what we're doing, or are we to self-centered to care?

We have been brainwashed by energy producers for decades to believe that increased consumption is a good thing--the more the better-- and why would they do that?--because the more we use, the more money they make. New "convenience" products made from oil and gas (plastic bags and bottles, (etc.) are ubiquitous in our culture and are seen as necessities. Hundreds of new electronic gadgets are designed annually and marketed as necessities, and we buy into the belief that we just have to have them.

Well, guess what? It's bullshit and it's about time we admitted it to ourselves. Our insatiable energy demands, if not checked, will lead to the Earth being so severely damaged that it will be rendered incapable of supporting life. WE are the primary cause of global warming. OUR waste of resources is the reason the energy producers are literally stripping the planet to extract our "heroin". OUR demand is causing deaths in the rest of the world, both from wars (remember Iraq?), and by denying vast numbers access to enough energy to even cook their food or heat their dwellings. WE are committing suicide by selfishness, and the energy producers, by resisting efforts to develop other sources of energy, by bribing governments to pass favorable legislation, by using any means regardless of environmental harm to hold on to their profits, are committing genocide by greed.

This cycle must stop, or your kids or your grandkids may well die. Is your Hummer or huge tv worth that? You must examine your priorities and separate the things that require carbon-based energy into wants and needs. We are entirely capable, without any real sacrifice, of reducing our energy usage enough to save our future generations, or are you too self-centered to care?

And if you think that I'm a nut job, then I politely suggest that you get your head out of your ass.

Here are articles that will show you some of the ways our planet is suffering right in our back yard, and show the effectiveness of the energy industry in gutting legislation unfavorable to their bottom lines. There is also an example of how governments can actually encourage energy producers to preach conservation, and another that illustrates some innovative technology that uses waste heat in an effective new way.

. ..


Suspend your disbelief--this is true! And why shouldn't it be--we attack everybody when we feel like it.

This is from The Raw Story

U.S. Border Patrol Agents have responded to cross-border rock throwing attacks by firing tear gas and powerful pepper sprays across the border into Mexico, hurting many innocent bystanders in the process.

What the hell? Maybe the munitions were close to their "use by" dates and they didn't want to throw them out. Maybe it's just another example of our Government using excessive force to respond to an annoyance. Maybe it's OK because, after all, they're just Mexicans.

If I was the Mexican Government, I would consider lodging a formal protest with the U.N., sue for redress, and build my own fence to keep the Unites States from committing further aggression against my citizens.

Our Government is heavy-handed, thuggish and supremely arrogant. We have no respect for anyone else, and this is another example that proves it.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Gotta get me a "Talking Jesus" doll for Xmas

From Paddy at Cliff Schecter, with video.

And my thoughts on it:

In keeping with the spirit of the Christmas observance, true believers have a marvelous opportunity to buy some real holy shit. A genuine plastic talking Jesus doll for only 20 bucks! It's undoubtedly made of virgin vinyl (anything else would be sacrilegious), and will deliver inspirational messages when you squeeze it. Where do you squeeze it? Right where the spear went in when He was crucified. Isn't that special? And I'm sure that it was made in the U.S., and doesn't have any lead paint, and comes with an eternal warranty, too.

Throw away your bible! This thing has ya covered, and you don't have to read! Not only that, if you have one of these bad boys, you don't need to go to church, because who needs preachers! Just set this thing up on top of the teevee and get the Word direct from the source. Squeeze yer Jesus and cut out the middleman! HALLELUJAH!!

And for all you non-believers, keep your eyes peeled--there are sure to be plenty of opportunities for you to satisfy your religious requirements with other plastic graven images--talking Allahs, talking Buddhas, talking Dildos and the like.

From the Gospel of "Cool Hand" Luke:
"I don't care if it rains or freezes, long as I've got my talking Jesus, sittin' on the dashboard of my car".

A tortured defense of "waterboarding"

The name is Bond--Kit Bond, a Republican senator from Missouri, and an apologist for torture. And ludicrous.

On the PBS Newshour, Bond told Gwen Ifill that waterboarding is like swimming. This has been given a lot of play on the net, and here is the full post from Think Progress,with video. (follow their links for background)

Bond's outrageous comments drew some heavy response and so he tried to save the day by explaining himself on Washington Journal. As you'll see, he didn't help matters. From Crooks and Liars:

There is really nothing of substance I can add, but that won't stop me from some sarcasm and a little speculation. First off, Is Kit Bond a swimmer? Can he do the backstroke with his arms strapped to his sides? Can we make him try?

Can we go to the "Y" for waterboarding lessons? Do they offer family discounts?

Whatever possessed the Geneva Conventions to ban swimming?

If waterboarding is only torture the way the Japanese did it in WWII, by pouring water into the lungs of their "guests", is our way OK because we put a cloth over the mouths to strain out impurities from the water as it goes in?

If waterboarding should be a technique acceptable for use in "national emergencies", then wouldn't it also be OK for use in "local emergencies? Why not?

How long before the federal government makes funds available to local police agencies for the construction of waterboarding rooms?

Can parents use this on kids in a "family emergency"?

There may be a time when my speculations are totally irrelevant, but I'm not holding my breath.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

It's all OK, we have a bottomless treasury

From USA TODAY 12/13/07

U.S. paid $32M for Iraqi base that wasn't built.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military paid a Florida company nearly $32 million to build barracks and offices for Iraqi army units even though nothing was ever built, Pentagon investigators reported.

The project had to be abandoned because the Iraqi Defense Ministry couldn't obtain rights to the land where the headquarters were to be built, according to a report released this month by the Defense Department's Office of Inspector General. Contracting records show the buildings would have housed one brigade and three battalions of the Iraqi military in Ramadi, a hotbed of the Sunni Muslim insurgency and capital of Anbar province.

Still, the Air Force agency overseeing the project paid contractor Ellis Environmental Group $31.9 million of the $34.2 million obligated for the project, the report said.

An Air Force spokesman, Michael Hawkins, said in an e-mail that Air Force auditors are reviewing the contract. Although the inspector general's report says the Air Force was considering suing the contractor, Hawkins said any talk of a lawsuit was premature until the Air Force audit is complete.

Ellis Environmental Group spokesman Steve Brownstein said the work was reassigned to Ellis World Alliance Corp., a related company. Bob Smith, of Ellis World Alliance headquarters in Gainesville, Fla., said contracting rules barred any official comment.

The Ramadi construction contract is one of many problems Pentagon investigators cited in this month's report on the military's oversight of $5.2 billion Congress approved in 2005 to help train and equip the Iraqi military and police.

The report says the military didn't keep adequate records of equipment for the Iraqis ranging from generators and garbage trucks to thousands of guns and grenade launchers. Separately, the United States has launched a criminal investigation into allegations that weapons it bought for the Iraqis ended up in the hands of insurgent and terrorist groups.

The Air Force Center for Engineering and the Environment near San Antonio manages construction contracts for the Iraqi military assistance program.

In May 2006, the Air Force center awarded the Ramadi project to Ellis Environmental Group, according to federal contracting records.

The inspector general's report says vouchers provided by the contractor don't show purchased materials. But Hawkins said the Air Force had documentation on about $15 million worth of equipment and supplies meant for the Ramadi headquarters. That gear is in storage and available for other projects in Iraq, Hawkins said.

Hawkins said the contractor set up a camp for construction workers, performed design and engineering work and had begun building roads and an airstrip before the project was halted.

Government investigators have repeatedly faulted U.S. oversight of contracting in Iraq, and more than two dozen people have been charged with corruption related to the war and rebuilding effort.

O.K., this is small potatoes , a regular drop in the bucket compared to the staggering amounts of money literally handed out to contractors in Iraq. But it illustrates the problem.

No oversight, sweetheart contracts,, no oversight, shoddy performance(if any), no oversight--but what the hell--It's just my tax money, and my kids money, and my grandkids money, and our infrastructure going to pot, and no healthcare, and starving Americans and similar minor things that can't get taken care of because our government doesn't give a damn about anything except shovelling my money at their friends.

The Pentagon investigators will most likely be forced to resign their commissions for finding something after they had been ordered not to.

Final thought-- If the contractor lies about this, and claims that the base was indeed completed but was immediately buried in a sandstorm, would that be a "base canard"?

Careful, George, or there won't be anything left for your lie-brary

From Think Progress: (HT to Radar's John Cook)

600 per cent:The cost of government paper-shredding has increased since President Bush took office. USASpending tracked how the government spent $452,807 on contracts for paper-shredding services in 2000, only to see that number rise astronomically to over $2.9 million in 2006.

It took a huge jump in 2004, and totals $2.7 million just for the first half of 2007. Are they shredding all of these documents to cut storage costs, or to cut their prison time?

They sure do have a lot of paper, don't they? The observant reader will notice that the Government incurred no expense for shredding decency, honesty, or integrity, leading one to believe they had none to start with.

Maybe they'll claim that the ten million missing e-mails were accidentally shredded. Yeah, that's it!

Another "oathbreaker for Christ"

Rep. Steve King (R-IA), unlike noted author Stephen King, doesn't just write horror--he is one. Not only did he feel compelled to introduce legislation calling for recognition of "the importance of Christmas and the Christian faith" (which passed 372-9), he has now stated that "every child in American schools needs to learn the tenets of the Christian faith".

The blatant disrespect shown, by King and the other Congressional fundamentalist theocracy weasels, to the United States Constitution is mind-boggling. They have no scruples, or, apparently, any belief themselves in the tenets of the faith they claim to love.

If they believed that the word of Christ is to followed explicitly, they wouldn't be so quick to break the oaths that they took, which bound them to defend and uphold the Constitution. They are seeking to subvert the "establishment clause" and install Christianity as a national religion. And, they deny it.

When I was growing up, I was taught in my Christian training that lying is a sin, and breaking an oath sworn to God was a serious sin that would land you in Hell.

In the case of King and his ilk, I hope that it's still true.

Bush League Justice

Nothing new in here for those idiots (like myself) who are fascinated with the machinations of the Bush crime family, and read about this stuff until our heads explode, but Dan Abrams of MSNBC just concluded a series, Bush League Justice, which did a very credible job of explaining some of the ways that the current occupant of the White House has worked overtime to destroy the Department of Justice and to subvert the separation of powers.

Dirty. Partisan. Illegal. Unconstitutional. Unethical. Immoral. Just Plain Wrong.

Thanks to Crooks and Liars for the links. They're worth watching,and revisiting any time you feel the need for outrage.

Bush League Justice
Signing Statements
Partisan Corruption of the DOJ
Using the DOJ to Disappear Your Rivals

Makes you wonder--where would we be if the media had been doing its job for the last seven years?

New link: 2004 interview with Don Siegelman (2 videos-20, from News From Underground (HT-Buzzflash)

Siegelman is very candid and convincing as he details the theft of his election in 2000. Republicans see "scruples" as a contraction for "screw people", and they do themselves proud here. When you own the whole apparatus, you don't have to be slick.

Progressive Daily Beacon nails it yet again

Follow the link, and read the essay. PDB is one of my absolute favorite sites, with consistently good writing that expresses my take on things better than I ever could myself. A. Alexander from PDB expresses the anger, outrage, and frustration that all progressives feel straight from his heart. And he does it in a manner that is plain-spoken and easy to understand.

Who to Despise More--Bush or the Cowardly Democratic Congress

PDB is a voice that deserves a lot of attention, but, like many worthwhile sites, they need your financial support to stay on the "inter-tubes". They're worth it, so do the right thing, and pony up !

Thanks all.

Friday, December 14, 2007


Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were beaming tonight after learning that the United States Olympic Committee has chosen every member of the Democratic congressional leadership to represent the U.S. in the next Olympics, to be held next year in China.

"Of course we're going", said Reid while holding hands with Pelosi at a joint press conference. "This is exactly what we have worked so hard for all year. Spelunking (caving) is being introduced next year as a demonstration sport, and we decided early on that we wanted to represent our country on the world stage."

"We have shown what we can do in every area. We've caved on impeachment, we've caved on war funding and withdrawal dates, we've caved on the energy bill by taking out provisions to take back tax breaks for big oil, we caved on Mukasey, hell, we even caved on S-CHIP. We've caved so consistently and successfully that the Olympic search committee had no choice but to pick our team."

"We have heard the complaints from a few of our constituents who simply did not understand the 'big picture'. But it was worth it, because our efforts have paid off, and we are confident that we will make every citizen of our great nation proud."

HEY! Look at this! It's the new GAGLIGHT puker inducer!

With funding from The Department of Homeland Security, a company called Intelligent Optical Systems, Inc. has produced a new kind of flashlight, which functions by casting a light beam of pre-programmed wavelengths which change rapidly to cause dis-orientation and NAUSEA. I'm not sure it has a formal name yet, but I think naming it "THE GAGLIGHT" would be sheer marketing genius.

Here is a link to a piece at News Sophisticate blog, with videos.

Assuming that you followed the link, you will understand that, despite the official line, there can be only one intended target for these devices, and it's not likely to be an unruly group of AlQaeda fighters marching in front of the White House. No, dear readers, it's you poor retches (sorry) who will be spewing if you dare assemble to exercise the free speech rights you used to have.

Anyway, I've already thought of another practical way that the Gaglight can be used. Wouldn't it make the perfect gift for that special bulimic on your Christmas shopping list?

Send me $5,000 and I'll try to get one for you before Christmas.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

How do you change a mind? Our future depends on the answer.

As many of you may know, I am distressed and upset at our nation's headlong plunge into a Fascist dictatorship, and the failure our our "leadership", Democrats and Republicans alike, to serve the interests of the citizens by living up to their sworn oaths to defend the Constitution. They are killing our democracy and will not respond to the will of the people they were elected to serve. I have previously voiced the opinion that the only avenues open to us are either massive civil disobedience or, God forbid, revolution.

However, the latest National Intelligence Estimate, which flatly stated that Iran does NOT have an active program to develop nuclear weapons, may have derailed our governments plan to start WWIII by attacking that country pre-emptively. Thus, with that pressure temporarily removed, we may have gained some much-needed breathing space to attempt to reclaim our democracy by other means, specifically by reaching out to conservative voters, who tend to be easily led by "authority figures",and get them to think for themselves.

I've run across some very good essays recently that describe the problem of conservatism, and conservatives, and how we might fight back against the tide of irrational thought and actions upon which their movement depends. I've linked to these and suggest that you give them a careful read, because they all make good points.

The first is by Digby @ Common Sense (H/T to AlterNet): "How Conservatives Manipulate People Into Voting Against Their Best Interests". The subtitle"Pseudopopulists have destroyed reason" nails the thrust of the essay, and it is informative.

The second is an interview with Thom Hartmann by Onnesha Roychoudhuri in AlterNet : "Thom Hartmann: How Liberals Can Speak Without Boring Everyone to Tears". He has a brilliant mind. He's pushing a book, as usual, and, as usual, you should buy it.

The third is by George Lakoff at The Rockridge Nation: "Responding to Conservative Name-Calling". Mr Lakoff suggests that we should respond to conservative attacks by responding in a way that gives a progressive viewpoint. Personally, I think that this is useful, but that there is more that should be done, and will tell you what and why.

Most folks who read my blog, indeed, any left-leaning political blog, understand that we as a nation are in a lot of trouble, and that short of drastic steps, the only way to retake our nation is by de-programming enough conservative automatons that we can present at the voting booths overwhelming numbers of citizens who will vote in the best interests of the nation, instead of the interests of the corporate, aristocratic elite few.

Human nature being what it is, it's a given that you CANNOT change anyone's mind by finger-pointing, screechy, in-your-face confrontation. We, all of us, automatically push back and get defensive when that happens, so it's entirely counterproductive. If anything, we tend only to "dig in our heels" and refuse to listen. A person must change their own mind--no one else can do it for them. And before that can happen, the mind must be open to change.

If we are to be successful in bringing others around to our views, we must reach them in a different way. I believe that a much softer approach is necessary--one that encourages introspection and thought--two things currently in short supply--with simple basic non-threatening messages designed to open minds to the possibility that other viewpoints might be valid. In short, using the power of suggestion.

A non-verbal approach is less likely to evoke a pushback response, and so essays, flyers, opinion pieces in the newspapers, etc. could be effective. I was heartened when a friend agreed that I was on to something here, and so I came up with the following as an example of what I believe we should do. I took a very basic theme ("trust"), and wrote about it in a general way to make my points.


What is "trust". It is the faith that we place in people, that they will not lie to us, or cheat us, or harm us. In other words, that people we trust will do as they say they will, and as we expect them to.

This "trust" thing is pretty important, because it affects virtually every aspect of our lives-- our relationships, our financial well-being, our attitudes about others, and it is indeed a fragile thing. The reason for this is that to trust someone requires a tremendous sacrifice on our part. We must give up control of our well-being and security to someone else, place ourselves at the mercy of others, hope we didn't make a mistake. We make ourselves vulnerable to harm, and when that part of ourselves which we have voluntarily given away is abused, we are badly hurt emotionally. We naturally resent it, and will not again trust those who have hurt us.

We teach our children the importance of honesty. All small children lie at some point, and we work very hard to teach them that lying is absolutely the one thing that cannot be tolerated, because liars can't be TRUSTED.

"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

If our bankers cheat us, if our insurance companies won't honor valid claims, if retailers don't give us fair value for the money we spend, our car salesmen (don't laugh!) sell us lemons, or our doctors don't help us get well, we know that we would be fools to trust them again. Likewise, friends who do us wrong won't stay friends, wives who lie or cheat or spend foolishly or neglect the kids won't stay wives for long, and clergymen who are hypocritical or don't keep us on the right path will be abandoned.

When our trust, our faith in the good intentions and actions of others, has been abused, it really hurts, and when the abuse of trust has gone on for a long time, it hurts even more.Unfortunately, where violation of trust has occurred, ignorance is not bliss, because the damage will go on whether you realize it or not, and you can't stop it until you know about it. Because of that, we all have self-protection systems running inside our minds all the time. Call it a "weather eye", or "intuition", or a "sixth sense", but we can usually tell when something isn't right. We usually get a nagging uneasy feeling that warns us that something is amiss.

That said, what about some of the authority figures in our lives? These are people who have a great deal of influence on us, but it's simply amazing how often we ignore the little nagging warning signals we get about them, and I'm not sure why.

Do our elected officials, politicians and other public figures somehow deserve less scrutiny? Shouldn't they, given their tremendous potential for good or harm, be given even more attention than some others? Well, that would seem to make sense.

I would suggest you give them a closer look, and compare what they say with what they do, and then square that with how you feel about it. Does what you find feel right, or somehow wrong (that naggy thing). Did they do what they said, vote for the things they said they would, and that would benefit you, or not?

If you're comfortable with what you find, then all well and good. But, if something doesn't add up, you'll have to figure out what and why, and check more closely. If your suspicions are confirmed, if you discover that you have been misled, then you can take steps.

If you wouldn't stay married to a lying spouse, then you probably wouldn't stay "married" to a lying politician, either.

Please (and pardon the expression) trust me when I say that these periodic "truth audits" are something we ALL need to do. We deserve the best from our trusted servants, and need to make sure we're getting it. Don't you agree?


You'll note a gentle, non-accusatory tone throughout this message. Hopefully, it can help. And the subject that I chose is only one of many that could be used in like manner. And remember that we can never reach everybody, nor do we need to. We only need to get through to enough.

I need help with this. I need to hear from you with comments, criticisms, ideas, even essays such as the one above. Please get in touch!!

Oh, and thanks!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Progressives apparently not worth hearing

Dennis Kucinich has been informed that he will NOT be allowed to participate in the last Democratic debate before the Iowa caucuses, because among other reasons, he has not rented a campaign office in the state. The Des Moines Register said he did not meet THEIR criteria. Just wondering, who the hell are they to decide the election by silencing the only progressive voice in the race?

Meanwhile, Hillary is certainly invited, what with her war chest of big corporate donations, and all. She's undoubtedly the candidate that the "establishment" wants to succeed, so they may as well bend the rules in her favor. Why is that, you say? Well, here's a link to my blog post from March, 2007, and another, "Hillary Clinton on International Law" by Stepen Zunes, writing for Foreign Policy in Focus.

You know, our democratic processes are so perverted by the influence of MONEY that our elections are becoming a sham, on a par with the old Soviet Union.

If you call yourself a "liberal" or a "progressive", if you cherish our Constitution, if you value "honesty", DO NOT let the MONEY win!!! Cast your vote for the one person that can save our asses. Polls don't mean a thing, but votes do.

And what does this say about the other Democratic candidates? If they had any integrity and respect for either our system or the voters, they would demand that Kucinich be included in the debate so that the voters of America could be assured of hearing the views of each and every person in the field, and be able to make the best choice for our next president. If they had any integrity, they would be enraged that voices are being silenced, and boycott the event in solidarity.But no, the election isn't about the voters--it's all about the candidates. If the other candidates truly feel that their policy positions are superior to those of Dennis Kucinich, you'd think they would insist on his inclusion if for no other reason than to make themselves look better by contrast.Oh! Wait a minute--now I get it! They look like crap in comparison and don't want him around to spoil their chances. Silly me.

Romney and his faith--YE GODS!

Since I just destroyed the Pope in my previous rant, I feel it only fair to lay a number on the Mormons. Here is a link to an animated cartoon, which purports to give a detailed explanation of the basic tenets of Mormonism. I understand the perils of "assuming" this is an accurate representation, but I'm doing it anyway, so there!

I admit to a certain prejudice stemming from my upbringing, so take that into account when I say that this is some odd stuff. Scary, even. But who am I to judge--maybe they're right, right?

This should get Mitt a LOT of votes.

Benedict XVI--Fascist Pope?

This one has flat pissed me off. Pope Benedict XVI has just issued a statement suggesting that fears over global warming and melting icecaps were nothing more than fear-mongering. I am (was) a Catholic, and I am ashamed to admit it. This latest in an illustrious line of "infallible" voices of God is so far out of line here that I can only surmise he is worried about the value of the Vatican's oil stocks.

This man Ratzinger, a German by birth, seems to be forgetting that God charged us with the responsibility to care for the Earth. Instead he is acting like a corporatist, seemingly more interested in spouting a line that parrots the arguments advanced by maybe ten climate scientists out of around 2,000, all ten of whom are being paid by energy corporations and industry-financed front groups to deny the obvious. Gotta protect those profits--screw the Earth!

Not to disparage the Germans, but this s.o.b. talks like the Fascists of the Nazi era, and he's old enough to have bought into that crap when it was fresh.

If the climatologists are correct, and the worst comes to pass, rising sea levels will displace an estimated 1.2 billion people, mostly poor. Poor enough that they probably don't have any oil stocks of their own. If the Pope doesn't care about that segment of God's children, I guess that God doesn't give much of a damn, either.

Given the predilection of the Church to provide aid and comfort to pedophiles, it seems 'ol Bendadick would rather hug altar boys than trees.

Here are a few excerpts from the full article in the Daily Mail (h/t-Raw Story)

Pope Benedict XVI has launched a surprise attack on climate change prophets of doom, warning them that any solutions to global warming must be based on firm evidence and not on dubious ideology.

The leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics suggested that fears over man-made emissions melting the ice caps and causing a wave of unprecedented disasters were nothing more than scare-mongering.

The German-born Pontiff said that while some concerns may be valid it was vital that the international community based its policies on science rather than the dogma of the environmentalist movement.

...The 80-year-old Pope said the world needed to care for the environment but not to the point where the welfare of animals and plants was given a greater priority than that of mankind.

Someone should explain to him that the fate of plants and animals is inextricably linked with that of mankind.

Shame on him.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Countdown: 4,3,2,1, BUSHOFF! WE HAVE BUSHOFF!!

Keith Olbermann ripped President George W Bastard a new asshole tonight in an 11 minute tirade that comes as close as anything to expressing the outrage I feel at the criminality of this corrupt, amoral, fascist, hypocritical, cowardly administration. He added a few choice words for Charles "Are You a Big Donor?" Schumer and Diane "Lady Die" Feinstein, who are likely to approve the nomination of Michael Mukasey as Attorney General despite his refusal to admit that "waterboarding" is torture. Video, here

What have we sunk to that these traitorous felons and self-serving bought-off venal slimes are still in office?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Thank God For Homeland Security

As a cloud of purest white descended slowly, ever so slowly, from an otherwise clear sky over Washington D.C., thousands of onlookers gazed in awe at the strange but somehow non-threatening phenomenon. They noticed, as the cloud gently approached, that it was becoming more transparent, and that within they could see what appeared to be a robed man. Those with the keenest sight reacted first and fell to their knees, and the rest followed in turn, as they realized that the man was on a cross.

The cloud dissipated as it touched down close to the Washington Monument, and after a few moments the man floated from the cross to the earth, raised his hands in supplication, and prepared to speak. Though the crowd was far-flung, each person could see him as if he were only a few feet away.

Just as he opened his mouth, several dozen men rushed at the man, screaming "Take him down now!" A bullhorn blared as the man was hauled away, limp and bloody, and a strong voice announced to the stunned assembly "You are safe now! We have stopped the attack! I repeat-- you are safe! You can return to your homes as soon as we collect all cameras and cell phones! God bless America!".

The next day, President Bush, with several religious leaders and the heads of every agency within the Department of Homeland Security, let the whole world know that America had been attacked by the leader of a group of crazed heretics bent on destroying our way of life, and that it was only by the vigilance of the security agencies that no lasting damage had been done, and that martial law was being declared simply as a "precaution" until the rest of the terrorists could be rounded up and brought to justice.

It was only a few weeks later that disturbing pictures began to circulate through the underground. They show a robed man, his face reflecting the most profound sadness, dragging a cross up a hill. And on his head, a crown of Taser darts.

Serves the damn fool right.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Do us both a favor

Take an hour or so to read the essays under the links provided. They generally follow a theme-- WE are in the soup, our government is out of our control, our rights are disappearing right along with the Constitution, the right-wing sucks and they are being aided by the Democrats to wage war on the world and us, and what in hell are we going to do about it. The last two are a little different--the first just describes one of the "benefits" of a convenience culture and the second will let you know what to expect from the next generation of "leadership".

Read, learn, re-read anything you didn't get the first time, and give me your thoughts while it's still legal.

Continued Disenfranchisement of the People Can Only Lead to Violence, 10/25/07

When America Went Fascist, 9/25/07

You Have No Rights, 8/14/07

The Who's Your Daddy Nation, 10/06/07

Why Does Everybody Bow Down to the Health Insurance Industry, 9/24/07

We Can Do Better Than This, 10/16/07

In 2008, Make your Vote Count... Vote "NO CONFIDENCE", 10/19/07

These Democrats Aren't Our Grandparents' Democrats, 10/20/07

Government Surveillance Threatens Your Freedom, Even If You Have Nothing To Hide, 10/20/07

Is a Presidential Coup Under Way?, 10/23/07

Where Does the Right-Wind End and the Media Begin?, 10/26/07

I'm Not a "Democrat-American"- I'm an American, 10/27/07

Come see our giant toxic stew, 10/26/07

American kids, dumber than dirt, 10/24/07

Friday, October 26, 2007

Ever hear the phrase "unreasoning fear"?

Examples of it abound. Dozens of times each week, stories like the ones below come to our attention, but they are so commonplace that everyone takes them for granted, as normal responses to dangerous situations. But, I've got a problem with that kind of thinking.

The first story concerns a second grade student who was suspended from school for drawing a gun. Did he draw it on a group of terrified classmates? On a teacher? No and no. He drew it on a piece of paper, the little anti-social psychopathic terrorist.

From Yahoo News, 10/20/07:

DENNIS TOWNSHIP, N.J. - A second-grader's drawing of a stick figure shooting a gun earned him a one-day school suspension.
Kyle Walker, 7, was suspended last week for violating Dennis Township Primary School's zero-tolerance policy on guns, the boy's mother, Shirley McDevitt, told The Press of Atlantic City.
Kyle gave the picture to another child on the school bus, and that child's parents complained about it to school officials, McDevitt said. Her son told her the drawing was of a water gun, she said.
A photocopy of the picture provided by McDevitt showed two stick figures with one pointing a crude-looking gun at the other, the newspaper said. What appeared to be the word "me" was written above the shooter, with another name scribbled above the other figure.
School officials declined to comment Friday. A message left at the superintendent's office Saturday was not returned.

The second story is about some poor schmuck who was fired after his boss discovered that the fellow had suffered a "super bug" staph infection two years ago.

From The Raw Story 10/25/07, with video:

CBS 4 News in Miami reported on Wednesday that hysteria over the "superbug" Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus has caused a local man to lose his job. MRSA has been around for years but has recently been responsible for a highly-publicized surge in fatalities, causing more deaths in the US than AIDS and leading to widespread panic.
Morris Yomtov mentioned casually while at work at the Hollywood Telemarketing Company that he'd had MRSA two years ago after getting some scrapes on his arms while clearing trees downed by a hurricane. About an hour later, his boss called up to say he was fired. Yomtov told CBS 4 that his boss refused to listen to explanations, telling him, "It wasn't around two years ago, it's only been around now, so you must have it."
Yomtov's doctor gave him a note saying he was completely infection-free, but his boss refused to even take it from his hand, asking him to FAX it instead. Now the company is not returning Yomtov's phone calls and also refused to talk to the CBS 4 news team.
"I'm not Typhoid Mary," insists Yomtov, who has filed a federal employment discrimination complaint.
The following video is from Miami's CBS 4, broadcast on October 24, 2007. (access thru link above)

This is what happens in a society that is constantly told to fear EVERYTHING. Common sense and reason fly out the window. The government and the media have created a culture in which everything is an enemy out kill you. There is no longer any "risk assessment" and we are conditioned to react punitively and automatically, in a panic reflex that leaves no room for thought.

Since when do either the child or the now-healthy adult deserve the treatment they received?
A moments reflection will reveal to even the most convulsive house-wrappers that they were hapless victims of stupid responses to non-existant threats. But, because of the incessant drum-beat of fear mongering, they don't take that moment to think. They no longer have any balance or even any understanding of what's been done to them. And that is scary stuff, because they are 100% ripe for control by any person or government who promises to make them safe.

Poor dupes they are, and what's worse, I'm gonna be controlled too, because of their fear. When we are so divided by fear, when everyone else and everything else can instantly become your enemy, we are no longer capable of standing together to resist the real dangers that threaten us. Like our own government.

What if they threw a press conference and nobody came?

That very thing happened to FEMA and I must say they handled it beautifully. They did what any good department in the Bush White House would do, and faked it.

On Tuesday, FEMA gave the press a 15 minute notice of a press briefing to update a breathless world on everything that FEMA was doing to assist California and its residents who have suffered severely from this years wildfires. With all that notice, you'd think the briefing room would be packed, and it was, with FEMA staffers posing as reporters, lobbing soft little ashball questions to the guy giving the briefing. Of course, the whole thing was broadcast live on MSNBC and FOX NEWS among others, while FEMA did a heckuva job patting themselves on the back to an adoring nation. YAY FEMA! Here's the link to the story.

Alas , somebody in the press corps just had to bitch, and both the Department of Homeland Security (under which FEMA falls), and the White House had to issue apologies, here and here.

White House Press Bitch Dana Perino made a comment that left me scratching my head:

QUESTION: And from what we understand, the questions were posed not by reporters but by staffers. And that distinction was not made known. Is that appropriate?

PERINO: It is not. It is not a practice that we would employ here at the White House or that we — we certainly don’t condone it. We didn’t know about it beforehand.(Emphasis added)

I think she told another big one, folks. The flaming phony Jeff Gannon from the phony Talon News flies immediately to mind. In addition, half of the credentialed press goons that call themselves journalists are straight from the White House steno pool. If they're not staffers, who is? If her b.s. was butter, I'd have to swear off toast.

Don't be alarmed, I'm sure there's a perfectly good reason for this

Well, it's soon to be official. As soon as the Senate passes this bill, which just passed in the House with 404 votes, Bush will sign it (without a signing statement), and it will be illegal to think bad thoughts about our government. You don't need a thermometer or a fork to know when we're done.

House Passes Thought Crime Prevention Bill is re-printed from (Lee Rogers 10/25/07)

"The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed HR 1955 titled the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. This bill is one of the most blatant attacks against the Constitution yet and actually defines thought crimes as homegrown terrorism. If passed into law, it will also establish a commission and a Center of Excellence to study and defeat so called thought criminals. Unlike previous anti-terror legislation, this bill specifically targets the civilian population of the United States and uses vague language to define homegrown terrorism. Amazingly, 404 of our elected representatives from both the Democrat and Republican parties voted in favor of this bill. There is little doubt that this bill is specifically targeting the growing patriot community that is demanding the restoration of the Constitution.

First let’s take a look at the definitions of violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism as defined in Section 899A of the bill.

The definition of violent radicalization uses vague language to define this term of promoting any belief system that the government considers to be an extremist agenda. Since the bill doesn’t specifically define what an extremist belief system is, it is entirely up to the interpretation of the government. Considering how much the government has done to destroy the Constitution they could even define Ron Paul supporters as promoting an extremist belief system. Literally, the government according to this definition can define whatever they want as an extremist belief system. Essentially they have defined violent radicalization as thought crime. The definition as defined in the bill is shown below.

`(2) VIOLENT RADICALIZATION- The term `violent radicalization' means the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.

The definition of homegrown terrorism uses equally vague language to further define thought crime. The bill includes the planned use of force or violence as homegrown terrorism which could be interpreted as thinking about using force or violence. Not only that but the definition is so vaguely defined, that petty crimes could even fall into the category of homegrown terrorism. The definition as defined in the bill is shown below.

`(3) HOMEGROWN TERRORISM- The term `homegrown terrorism' means the use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily within the United States or any possession of the United States to intimidate or coerce the United States government, the civilian population of the United States, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.

Section 899B of the bill goes over the findings of Congress as it pertains to homegrown terrorism. Particularly alarming is that the bill mentions the Internet as a main source for terrorist propaganda. The bill even mentions streams in obvious reference to many of the patriot and pro-constitution Internet radio networks that have been formed. It also mentions that homegrown terrorists span all ages and races indicating that the Congress is stating that everyone is a potential terrorist. Even worse is that Congress states in their findings that they should look at draconian police states like Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom as models to defeat homegrown terrorists. Literally, these findings of Congress fall right in line with the growing patriot community.

The biggest joke of all is that this section also says that any measure to prevent violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism should not violate the constitutional rights of citizens. However, the definition of violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism as they are defined in section 899A are themselves unconstitutional. The Constitution does not allow the government to arrest people for thought crimes, so any promises not to violate the constitutional rights of citizens is already broken by their own definitions.


`The Congress finds the following:

`(1) The development and implementation of methods and processes that can be utilized to prevent violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence in the United States is critical to combating domestic terrorism.

`(2) The promotion of violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence exists in the United States and poses a threat to homeland security.

`(3) The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens.

`(4) While the United States must continue its vigilant efforts to combat international terrorism, it must also strengthen efforts to combat the threat posed by homegrown terrorists based and operating within the United States.

`(5) Understanding the motivational factors that lead to violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence is a vital step toward eradicating these threats in the United States.

`(6) The potential rise of self radicalized, unaffiliated terrorists domestically cannot be easily prevented through traditional Federal intelligence or law enforcement efforts, and requires the incorporation of State and local solutions.

`(7) Individuals prone to violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence span all races, ethnicities, and religious beliefs, and individuals should not be targeted based solely on race, ethnicity, or religion.

`(8) Any measure taken to prevent violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence and homegrown terrorism in the United States should not violate the constitutional rights, civil rights and civil liberties of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents.

`(9) Certain governments, including the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia have significant experience with homegrown terrorism and the United States can benefit from lessons learned by those nations.

Section 899C calls for a commission on the prevention of violent radicalization and ideologically based violence. The commission will consist of ten members appointed by various individuals that hold different positions in government. Essentially, this is a commission that will examine and report on how they are going to deal with violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism. So basically, the commission is being formed specifically on how to deal with thought criminals in the United States. The bill requires that the commission submit their final report 18 months following the commission’s first meeting as well as submit interim reports every 6 months leading up to the final report. Below is the bill’s defined purpose of the commission. Amazingly they even define one of the purposes of the commission to determine the causes of lone wolf violent radicalization.

(b) Purpose- The purposes of the Commission are the following:

`(1) Examine and report upon the facts and causes of violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence in the United States, including United States connections to non-United States persons and networks, violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence in prison, individual or `lone wolf' violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence, and other faces of the phenomena of violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence that the Commission considers important.

`(2) Build upon and bring together the work of other entities and avoid unnecessary duplication, by reviewing the findings, conclusions, and recommendations of--

`(A) the Center of Excellence established or designated under section 899D, and other academic work, as appropriate;

`(B) Federal, State, local, or tribal studies of, reviews of, and experiences with violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence; and

`(C) foreign government studies of, reviews of, and experiences with violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence.

Section 899D of the bill establishes a Center of Excellence for the Study of Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism in the United States. Essentially, this will be a Department of Homeland Security affiliated institution that will study and determine how to defeat thought criminals.

Section 899E of the bill discusses how the government is going to defeat violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism through international cooperation. As stated in the findings section earlier in the legislation, they will unquestionably seek the advice of countries with draconian police states like the United Kingdom to determine how to deal with this growing threat of thought crime.

Possibly the most ridiculous section of the bill is Section 899F which states how they plan on protecting civil rights and civil liberties while preventing ideologically based violence and homegrown terrorism. Here is what the section says.


`(a) In General- The Department of Homeland Security's efforts to prevent ideologically-based violence and homegrown terrorism as described herein shall not violate the constitutional rights, civil rights, and civil liberties of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents.

`(b) Commitment to Racial Neutrality- The Secretary shall ensure that the activities and operations of the entities created by this subtitle are in compliance with the Department of Homeland Security's commitment to racial neutrality.

`(c) Auditing Mechanism- The Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Officer of the Department of Homeland Security will develop and implement an auditing mechanism to ensure that compliance with this subtitle does not result in a disproportionate impact, without a rational basis, on any particular race, ethnicity, or religion and include the results of its audit in its annual report to Congress required under section 705.'.

(b) Clerical Amendment- The table of contents in section 1(b) of such Act is amended by inserting at the end of the items relating to title VIII the following:

It states in the first subsection that in general the efforts to defeat thought crime shall not violate the constitutional rights, civil rights and civil liberties of the United States citizens and lawful permanent residents. How does this protect constitutional rights if they use vague language such as in general that prefaces the statement? This means that the Department of Homeland Security does not have to abide by the Constitution in their attempts to prevent so called homegrown terrorism.

This bill is completely insane. It literally allows the government to define any and all crimes including thought crime as violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism. Obviously, this legislation is unconstitutional on a number of levels and it is clear that all 404 representatives who voted in favor of this bill are traitors and should be removed from office immediately. The treason spans both political parties and it shows us all that there is no difference between them. The bill will go on to the Senate and will likely be passed and signed into the law by George W. Bush. Considering that draconian legislation like the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act have already been passed, there seems little question that this one will get passed as well. This is more proof that our country has been completely sold out by a group of traitors at all levels of government."

While it is still technically legal, I am going to call again for massive civil disobedience and general strikes to fight back against the destruction of our democracy. I am fully aware of the difficulties of organizing large-scale protests( and will post further on those problems), but we must fight back in a way that is relatively bloodless. We must do this in the very near future or we will be left with a truly revolting development.

Dammit! I never thought I'd live long enough to see the end of America. I think it's going to be re-named to something more up-to-date like, say, "East Germanystan".

Thursday, October 25, 2007

So what's cookin' in California?

Wildfires and California--they fit together like O.J. and his glove. A nearly annual disaster, and this year is one of the worst, with property damage estimated at over one billion dollars in San Diego County alone. Well over 1,000 homes lost, about 1,600 still threatened, 8 lives lost, 75 injured, and on and on.

If you want to place blame, there are plenty of targets. You might blame the real estate developers for building in stupidly high risk areas, or the people who buy these homes, or the insurance companies who gleefully underwrite their fire insurance. Or maybe Governor Terminator, who vetoed four bills since 2003 which would have helped the firefighters respond faster and better.
Or how about our ageing fleet of firefighting airplanes, grounded for maintenance and safety issues? Or the bureaucratic red tape that kept available planes from responding while these fires could have been nipped in the bud? Maybe if George Bush hadn't taken control of the National Guard and their equipment and sent it to Iraq, their assets could have been employed to help fight the fires. Real problems, every one of them.

However, the real blame belongs elsewhere.

Fox News blames Al Qaeda here and here.
Glen Beck says that the fires are burning homes of "those who hate America", and blames it on the "damned environmentalists" here and here.
A "Christian" fundamentalist minister, of course, blames gays.
And Rush Limbaugh downplayed the devastating fires claiming it's being hyped by the media.
(Rush is correct on this one-- it certainly doesn't merit the same coverage given to, say, Britney Spears' crotch.)

Thank God these people are around to tell us the real truth.

President Bush finally showed up yesterday for his photo-op, showing his usual compassion by hugging a tearful lady in front of her burned-out home.( Funny you never see him doing that in Baghdad). Anyway, we can now rest assured that he'll make it all better.

Here are more links to articles on the fires:

Miriam Raftery at Brad Blog: Burned-up residents fault officials...
Think Progress: CA Guard Warned of 'Less Effective Response'...
Crooks and Liars: ...Calif. Lt Gov on Bush...disastrous disaster record
The Democratic Daily: California and Orange Cty Fires: Lies, Stupidity and Unnecessary

I guess the whole point of this post is to remind you that self-serving individuals and politicians continue to make short-sighted decisions for the wrong reasons without considering or caring about possible or likely consequences, and that there is always a price to pay. Sometimes it's a very heavy price, whether in lives or money or simple decency.

P.S.-- I may have missed it, but I'm still waiting for the right-wing to point quivering fingers of blame for these fires on roving bands of angry blacks still upset that they lost their homes to Katrina.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

What will you do when push comes to shove?

Sooner or later, every person in this country who espouses liberal/progressive values is going to have to take an arduous trip. Every person who respects life, who has a profound sense of right and wrong, who simply can't stand unfairness, intolerance, and injustice, who considers deceit and dishonesty to be abhorrent, who understands the evil inherent in greed and selfishness, and who understands that helping others is also helping yourself, is going to have to take a difficult journey into their mind and soul, examine their core values and guiding principles, and decide, really decide, how far they are willing to go to uphold them.

Many have already made this trip (I just did), but soon now all the rest are going to have to make up their minds, because we are facing a severe test. The corporatists, the fascists, the greedy elite who hold the strings that control our government, are a mere eyeblink away from taking over and eliminating the last vestiges of the freedoms guaranteed to us in the Constitution.

I had trouble with my introspective examination, as I am both selfish and cowardly. Like everybody, I want a contented life for me and mine, free of want and worry about the necessities of food, clothing, housing and health. But I am also empathetic--I believe that all men are created equal and have the right to pursue the things that they want, too. I believe that inclusiveness and cooperation is the way to attain these things, so that as one benefits, we all benefit. I see the self-interest in helping others because they, in turn, will help me.

But, can I kill for these ideals? Can sacrificing my own life be morally justified? These are questions that trouble my cowardly side, as I do not face death easily. If we are to save our country and our ideals, these questions may become more than an idle speculations.

Unless we just give up hope,we are soon to be faced with our last-ditch stand for freedom, and it can take different forms. An armed revolt, like our forefathers engaged in to overthrow the control of the British, is one form our fight might take.

I, for one, cannot find the moral justification for taking another life to preserve a "way of life", only to preserve my life or the life of another from direct attack. I do not believe it can be a moral choice. It's hard to make that decision, but there it is. I have found myself at times dreaming of assassinating those who are destroying our country, simply putting things right by killing all of the evil bastards who are doing this to us, but that is only a sign of my growing desperation. Murder, after all, is murder, and I would be betraying my most deeply held beliefs if I engaged in it. I have learned hate from those who use it against us, and it is easy to give in to its allure, but my soul is too important to me to sacrifice in that way.

The only other ways that I see by which we may halt the tyranny threatening to engulf us is "passive resistance" and "civil disobedience". These methods entail massive strikes and peaceful massive demonstrations to shut down the everyday workings of government and commerce, to bring our country to a grinding halt, in order to force both the corporate elite and their whores in government to listen to us, and to change. They must be hit it the only place they can be hurt, and that's in the wallet. If the money train is shut down, and we do not capitulate to their demands, they will (hopefully) have to cede control of our country back to us.

Which brings up another sticky moral issue. Would you go to jail for defending our freedoms? Most of us certainly would--no big deal, really. But, would you give up your life? I have decided that I would be willing to do just that. Passive resistance to a tyrranical government is fraught with danger, as the most often used method to quell it is the use of force. Remember Tiananmen Square in 1989, when thousands of Chinese protesters faced down soldiers and tanks? It would likely happen here. I believe, consistent with my beliefs, that laying down ones own life for the greater good of all mankind is the most selfless, noble, moral act one can perform. And the hardest to come to grips with for one who really doesn't want to make that final journey to the "great beyond". What would I gain? Nothing material, certainly, but that isn't what's truly important, is it?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

"I pledge allegience to the Constitution of the United States of America"

And to the freedoms which it has granted us, one nation..."

If Betsy Ross had known that her creation would help kill freedom, she never would have sewn it.

At the time, however, the patriots fighting to free themselves from the excesses of the crown needed a unifying symbol, something to inspire and point to and rally around--a symbol to lead us to victory. And it worked. British rule was thrown off. The hard-won fight led to the Constitution and the United States of America.

At that point, having done its job so well, the flag that Betsy Ross made should have been gracefully and gratefully retired, honored and respected for its role, and a new emblem given its place--one that symbolized not what we had fought for, but what we had won.

We had, to replace that venerable old symbol, something real to rally around, called the Constitution of the United States, created by men of inspired, selfless genius. A document which affirmed our inalienable rights and established the rules by which "We, the People" would govern our leaders. That is what our victory in the Revolutionary War won for us.

This wonderful document is not just the basis for our democracy, it is our democracy. But was our Constitution given it's rightful place on a new flag? Sadly, it was not. The "Stars and Stripes" reigns supreme to this day.

We pledge allegience to the "Stars and Stripes", it is everywhere one looks, it's depicted on lapel pins and bumper stickers and clothing. The "Stars and Stripes" is flown on national holidays by people showing their patriotism. It is displayed in every courthouse and at every political event. It is the ultimate symbol of national pride (and that is telling--we should be grateful for what we have, not proud). But where in all this is our Constitution, which is, after all, is what is truly deserving of our homage?

Our precious Constitution has been ignored and taken for granted, rarely seen, even more rarely studied and understood, because we have focused instead on an outdated symbol. That superficial symbol has provided a cover under which men have been able to work, unseen and unnoticed, to dismantle the document which gave us the liberties we have enjoyed for 200 years.

And that is the disconnect that has occurred, the fatal flaw Betsy Ross could never have imagined, that may well spell the end of our freedoms.

Through our ignorance, we are allowing our rights to be abridged, our freedoms taken away one by one, which once lost may never be regained. Free speech, privacy, equal justice (indeed, justice in any form), free elections--gone or going away. And we always took them for granted.

Read the Constitution, find the justification for wars of conquest. It does not exist.Read it, and understand that our true strength lies in working for the common good, not for the benefit of a few. Read it, and you will then know that our democracy is based on compassion, selflessness, mutual help, caring and sharing, and acceptance. Where have those ideals gone?

The only way that we can save our freedoms is by understanding them and where they came from. There are two ways to force this, both of which can be done by Congress, if they will respond to a unified call for action.

1) Retire the "Stars and Stripes" and replace it with a flag depicting the Constitution. If you see it every day, fly it, salute it and sing to it, you will learn to respect it and fight to protect it. We will never permit any assault on our democratic ideals.

2) Mandate that teaching the Constitution of the United States will be required in every school in the U.S., public and private, so that future generations will be secure from tyranny.

Start calling, if you love your country. It might not be too late.

UPDATES: here, and here. Maybe there's something to this.

Monday, October 8, 2007


Call me fatalistic. Call it the impatience of youth if you want, but I'm 63. I think it is having lived all those years that has imposed on me an unwelcome sense of mortality and the ability to see the signs of impending death. I refer to our democracy, which, to my dismay, is likely to pass into memory within my lifetime.

The signs of morbidity are clear--fear is rampant, our President is allowed to rule by edict, our privacy is being invaded in ways we can't even imagine, our government operates within a tight veil of secrecy, we can now be jailed forever without charge or trial, the violent stifling of peaceful dissent is becoming an acceptable norm, and corruption and thievery are rarely penalized. And our government always, always lies to us.

I have come to believe that we, all of us on the "left", are wasting our time by wallowing in an overkill of outrage, because we're way too far behind events.

Every day new revelations of lies, deceit and hypocrisy assail us. Every day unearths yet more egregious assaults on simple decency and justice. Every day we see more examples of our government working against the best interests not only of us citizens but those of the whole world, in its unquenchable drive for total economic domination.Do we really need more examples to bolster that which is already painfully evident? We know that it's all wrong, what else do we need?

Nonetheless, we continue to learn these things and they fuel our outrage and we steel our resolve to get someone into office who will make the bad things go away. We blog for each other and write to the newspapers and complain to Congress and we tell 'em "Fix it!". Boy, do we tell 'em! And every so often a few more folks begin to understand the wrongness and immorality, and add their voices to demand change. And so what?

Enough people were so upset that the last election saw the Democrats swept into majority control of both houses of Congress. We rejoiced. Now, by God, now we'll have redress! Now things'll get fixed! Bush and Cheney gone! Bill of Rights restored! Corruption halted! War over! More jobs! Social justice! The long national nightmare is over!!!


To be sure, the Democrats have the power. They chair all the committees. They investigate, hold hearings, interrogate, subpoena and display their ire about things that only add to the list of crimes that we already knew about. And nothing happens. Subpoenas are ignored, demands for documents are denied, accomodations and back-door deals are made, and nothing happens. No impeachments, no arrests, no criminal charges, no nothing. We get lip service and it's business as usual.

Why is everything the Democrats do substantively meaningless? Because the Democratic leadership and the Republicans answer to the same masters, and it's not "The People". Money talks, and bullshit is what we're considered to be.

If you doubt this, note that the Democratic presidential candidates who have the most financing, and hence the most "credibilty", importance and press, have all three refused to commit to a withdrawal from Iraq before 2013. They are bought and paid for. Remember that the Democrats capitulate to Republican obstructionism over any legislation that might pinch the profit pipeline or rein in government abuses of our rights and freedoms Most importantly, impeachment, literally the only tool that Congress has to stop this gang rape, is "off the table".

And so who is listening to us? Our government has become like a church--authoritarian, not democratic. Those in power preach to the choir. They have their agenda and will lead us wherever they wish to go.They will not listen to the choir no matter how loudly they sing.When our government ignores our voices we have to awaken to the fact that we have no power.

We can rant, scream and vent, but the march to a fascist police state moves on without missing one jackbooted step.

We have a terrible cancer growing in our society, and though we might kill a cell here or there, it only creates false hope, because that fascist cancer already metastasized on the day Bush was handed the Presidency by the Supreme Court . We have to accept that the end of freedom and justice and decency is at hand.

That said, it's now time to decide. Will we all continue to scream until at the end we are reduced to whimpers, or will we fight in a meaningful way?

It may be possible even now to turn back this horror if we can organize massive, truly massive strikes against public services, and civil disobedience on a scale impossible to quell. If that fails, remember what the Continental Army accomplished for us so many years ago.

It's time to decide.