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.