Thursday, January 31, 2008

Rove on schedule--Dems,too

Karl Rove, who resigned last August as George Bush's political advisor, is following the schedule I predicted for him, here.

I said then that it wouldn't be long before he started doing analysis for Fox News, and guess what? Think Progress reports that Rove will be joining Fox as an "on-air" contributor through the "Super Tuesday" primaries.

I am at risk of doing serious injury to myself from patting myself on the back for my prescient observation.

I had also stated that Rove's real work would be advising the Democratic Leadership Council in ways to permanently fracture the Democratic party, suck up money from the really big donors, help with voter suppression tactics, and generally assist the total takeover of the political process by the Republican party and big business.

Look at what the Democrats have done so far this election cycle, including but not limited to: alienated Dem voters of two whole states (Florida and Michigan), effectively barring them from participating at the nominating convention, because their primaries were too early; didn't lift a finger to protest when the only true populist in the race, Dennis Kucinich, was shut out of several debates at the whim of the sponsoring networks; are raking in money hand-over-fist from the biggest special-interest donors they can sell out to; are backing all the "blue dog" Dems up for re-election; and are giving in to Bush on every legal and legislative front, to blur any distinction that voters might make between the two parties.

Considering that the top Democrats are doing their best to give the Republicans a good chance at retaining the Presidency, I'd have to say that Rove is right on schedule there, too.

It bothers me that I'm always right.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Hell on Earth is for the rest of us.

The headlines are full of the the looming "economic disaster" caused in part by the sub-prime lending fraud--"The Sky is Falling!","Markets in Turmoil"--but don't be fooled. It's not our economy they're talking about, but their economy.

Their economy is the economy of the bankers, financiers, hedge funds and investment firms, and their economy isn't suffering any more than a self-induced muscle spasm, which will disappear with a nice "money massage" from our government.

Our economy is the real disaster. Our economy is the one in which the rest of us live-- the one with decreasing jobs, increasing unemployment, higher costs for every basic necessity-food, energy and health care. The one will lowering income and a higher debt burden. The one with lowering educational standards and increasing hunger and homelessness. The one with a collapsing infrastructure and environmental degradation. Our economy is the one that heading into a death spiral, taking our quality of life and hopes for the future along with it, with little hope of recovery because the occasional bones thrown our way have already had the marrow sucked out. The one that is a stressful Hell on Earth for those struggling to cope.

And our economy, the one not mentioned in the headlines, is precisely the one created by their economy.

But there is no Hell on Earth awaiting these financiers and tycoons. It's a place they'll never visit--it's just an unimportant by-product of their activities--a place for the little people to stay, out of the way while the rich accumulate uncountable wealth. They don't care about their actions because they are immune to the consequences. There is no Hell on Earth for these people, because there is no law enforced, no governance, no check on their power and control. When their frauds and predations reach a crisis point (as now) and begin to affect their personal wealth, they have only to turn to the government(which they control) to give them enough tax breaks to ease their discomfort, and to the Federal Reserve(which they control) to increase the money supply to protect their personal fortunes, and to the Supreme Court (which they control) to protect them against any legal liability for the Hell on Earth they created for the rest of us.

The closest any of them will get to Hell on Earth will be to view it from afar, like Bush flying over New Orleans looking for business opportunities.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Congressional theocracy pushers still at it

This is a battle that may never end. The quasi-religious leaders in this country who are relentless in their efforts to deny historical truths by claiming that the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation, are using their right-wing friends in Congress to legitimize their false claims. These legislators, unmindful of the oaths they took to uphold and defend the Constitution, have been pushing a series of thinly-disguised resolutions to force our lawmakers on record to make it seem as if they are in agreement that we are a Christian nation.

For God only knows what reason, they have met with some success, and are seizing on those successes to redouble their efforts. They will not stop unless and until they are so soundly rebuked that they dare not continue. But until then......

Here is a post reprinted from Crooks and Liars (1/21/08) describing the latest attempt in their quest to establish a national religion, with links you should follow for more background.

Last December, Republicans in Congress introduced a resolution noting the significance of Christmas and the Christian faith, which eventually passed, blurring the lines between church and state — and they’re at it again, attempting to rewrite American history and further the lie that America is a Christian nation.

Via Secular Coalition for America:

Jan. 11 - Flush with last year’s success in passing H.Res. 847, “Recognizing the importance of Christmas and the Christian Faith,” Christian nationalists — those who would have the United States be governed as a Christian theocracy — are pushing H.Res. 888, another resolution which promotes a false and distorted Christian nation reinterpretation of our history. Generally, we do not take action regarding resolutions because they are ceremonial in nature and express the non-binding opinion of one chamber. They do not have the force of law. Read on…

The resolution, which is supported by the likes of Reps Patrick McHenry, John Doolittle and Mean Jean Schmidt, calls for an “American Religious History Week” and rejects any attempt to remove religious messages or teachings from our public buildings and educational resources. There can be no doubt that during an election year, Reps voting against the resolution will be labeled anti-religion, but we can’t let them be bullied into signing this flawed resolution that goes against the very principles our country was founded on. Contact your Representatives and tell them to say no to H. Res. 888, (corrected) which further blurs the separation between church and state.

This simply cannot be permitted to continue. The danger to our democracy from these insidious attacks is simply too great.

Mike Gravel spoke out recently (the only presidential candidate to do so), generally on this topic, and spoke in a wonderfully blunt, candid and honest way about the dangers of "creationism" and correctly said that efforts to legislate morality indicated a failure of religion to teach morality . The following is from (1/27/08) Video link to Gravel here.

While the rest of the raft of presidential candidates are busily proclaiming their firm belief in a Christian God, former Alaska senator Mike Gravel has recorded a delightfully frank denouncement of religion in politics.

The quirky Democratic presidential candidate says what's obvious to any student of history: That aligning specific religious views with politics is a dangerous exercise.

"I am deeply insulted that in some areas that not only is evolution is shunned but efforts are made to substitute it with creationism and all other kinds of teachings, which corrupt our youth," he says in a YouTube video recorded on Saturday. "There’s no foundation for this. I think it’s unfortunate. We’re regressing in these areas, and so I think we have responsibility to our children to provide them with the greatest scientific information available to all of us, and that begins with respect to evolution."

Gravel goes on to talk about morality, and how trying to legislate morality reflects a failure of the religious community.

Clearly pointing to former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, a Republican who recently suggested that we ought to amend the constitution to be brought in line with "God's standards," Gravel said: "I ... really exhort as public policy that we concentrate on keeping religion out of politics, and keeping a very, very strong separation between church and state. Otherwise you will take the oppressive nature of the state and marry it with the oppressive nature of religion, and that is the ultimate oppression of human beings."

I have never heard a public figure make comments as straightforward as these on this subject. Mike Gravel should be applauded for speaking out so clearly.

National Vote--pros and more pros

Progressive States Network (please sign up for their e-newsletter) believes that positive change in this country is best achieved at the state, rather than the national, level, and they have been doing a tremendous job attempting to get important legislation passed in state legislatures across the nation.

They also do excellent analytical work, designed to both educate the electorate and bolster their chances of legislative success.

Here is a link to their compelling analysis which describes all of the reasons why Presidential elections should be decided on the national popular vote rather than the electoral college. They also describe an initiative introduced in 47 state legislatures (and passed by two, so far), which would require that states electors give their votes to the candidate who wins the national popular vote.

This plan, if enacted, would correct many of the ills of our present system.

Please--get on this bandwagon with your full support. Call your state reps and senators, write the papers, tell your friends--all of it. This is too important to ignore.

Why Bush laughs

George Bush is comfortable enough to crack hilarious jokes concerning his illegal war and the dismantling of our democracy. His humor is legendary, and his audiences roll in the aisles at his wit, laughing uproariously while he make light of the very things for which he should be impeached.

These will serve as examples: one new, and one older (video). Be sure to check out the link to the Alfalfa Club (can we join?). And for more on paper shredding, see this.

Former Representative Elizabeth Holtzman wrote an op-ed for the Philadelphia Inquirer (1/27/08), laying out (again) the reasons why Bush and Cheney should be impeached, and dismantles all of the reasons given why it isn't practical. Nothing new there, except it's a useful summary of things we already know.

Congressmen Dennis Kucinich and Robert Wexler have been laboring mightily to bring an impeachment resolution on Cheney to the House floor, but will never succeed because Nancy Pelosi, for reasons she will never tell, has steadfastly refused to allow it. I would love to know what kind of Faustian bargain she struck. Kucinich is also planning to introduce an impeachment resolution against Bush prior to his last State of the Union address, which will also go nowhere. Not only Pelosi, but other Democrats like Jerrold Nadler are blocking the efforts of Wexler and Kucinich.

Despite the clear evidence of numerous impeachable offenses, despite innumerable hearings in the House and Senate and lies and stonewalling at every turn, despite threats of contempt citations, nothing happens. It's all theater, and the decision to do nothing was made long ago in a place far away from the instructions in our Constitution and the will of the American people. It's so bad that it's pointless to worry about any more damned hearings. I guarantee you nothing will come of them.

So Bush laughs and jokes contentedly in full knowledge that he has a free pass. Neither he nor Cheney will ever be called to account for their treasonous acts.

And so the Bush starship "Illegal Enterprise" goes where no man in America has gone before--into a bankrupt country with no freedoms and citizen slaves--manned by helpful Democrats enjoying the ride.

Government for the people? No, definitely not.

Framing for the dupes

I've had this for almost two weeks, and every time I looked at it, didn't know if I should laugh or cry.Well, I finally figured it out--now when I see it, I'm pissed.

Re-printed from Think Progress (1/16/08)

Bachmann: I’m ‘Proud’ That ‘We Have People Working Two Jobs’ And ‘Longer Hours’


Topping Congress’s agenda as it returns this week is a plan to “jump-start the economy and try to shorten the slowdown that many economists say has already begun to take hold.”

Today, Rep. Eric Cantor (VA), the chief deputy Republican whip in the House, unveiled his proposal to stimulate the economy. His legislation — the so-called Middle Class Job Protection Act — does nothing for the middle class. Instead, it reduces the corporate tax rate by 28 percent.

At a press conference today unveiling the stimulus proposal, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) justified the conservative plan to give tax breaks to corporations — instead of working Americans — by arguing that people actually like working long hours:

I am so proud to be from the state of Minnesota. We’re the workingest state in the country, and the reason why we are, we have more people that are working longer hours, we have people that are working two jobs.

Bachmann’s version of the American Dream is apparently working two full-time jobs and struggling to get by.

Yesterday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concluded that corporate tax cuts, such as the one proposed by Cantor, “may be less cost-effective in the short term” and less effective than a stimulus plan consisting of “tax rebates, extended unemployment benefits and a temporary increase in food stamps.”

Bachmann may be taking her cues from her bosom buddy President Bush, who on Feb. 4, 2005, told a divorced mother of three: “You work three jobs? … Uniquely American, isn’t it? I mean, that is fantastic that you’re doing that.”

The name of the bill, The Middle Class Job Protection Act, is another masterpiece of Republican naming and framing. They have a gift for naming legislation to imply that it is intended to do the exact opposite of what it really does. The Help America Vote Act flies to mind as another example. The hypocrisy is infuriating, because it is so hard to see through for some people, who will assume that the Republicans are helping them and will unthinkingly support everything they do. These same dupes and gulls would support a Republican bill called "The Taking Care of Our Elderly Act"even if it called for the summary execution of everyone over 65 (unless they're rich).

The other thing that gets to me, aside from the corporate giveaway, is the absurd statement by that ditz from Minnesota. Do you know anybody-- anybody at all-- that likes to work two jobs, or three, to make ends meet? Do you know anyone in that situation that thinks it's a good thing? And yet the Republican base, glassy-eyed and slack-jawed, will nod robotically in agreement with her without giving it a thought. They will never consider why it should be necessary to work longer and longer hours to scrape by, and that's the most disheartening thing of all.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

McDonalds helps cops nab Florida granny

Thanks to alert employees of a McDonalds in Clearwater, Florida, police were able to remove a potential terrorist from the streets for a short while, until she was released by a liberal judge or somebody. They didn't even have time to use any "enhanced interrogation techniques"to get a confession.

Here are the stunning details as reported by Clearwater's (1/21/08)

A 75-year-old woman was arrested at a Clearwater McDonald's drive-thru, because police say she wouldn't pull her car forward.

Authorities said Jean Merola, a grandmother of eight, was arrested for disorderly conduct after she refused an officer's orders to move her car while she waited for the coffee and fries she ordered at the drive-through window. Merola said the McDonald's employees told her to wait there for her food. Merola was handcuffed behind her back and put in the cruiser. Another officer arrived and took her to the Pinellas County Jail . Merola said she was searched, photographed and fingerprinted. Jail records show she was released about 90 minutes later on her own recognizance.
Just her good luck she escaped back into obscurity before the Guantamo shuttle could get there. This is another case of a heavy-handed response to an incident that shouldn't have been an incident, except for the complete lack of brains and tact by the McDonalds employees. Or maybe I'm wrong. It's possible that someone went out to talk to her, but when they saw she was elderly, decided to call in law enforcement, fearing that if she actually got her order she might spill her coffee in her lap.

In truth, it demonstrates the damage the pervasive "fear culture" does to innocent people. And it is becoming more and more common to hear of similar incidents of overreaction to simple problems. How sad for America. How sad for her, and all the other victims of irrational fear.


Relax, I don't mean your cat, dog, hamster, Kimodo dragon, snake, bunny, parakeet, narwhal or girl friend. I mean your PET--the chemical, Polyethylene terephthalate, from which all those plastic water and soda bottles are made. Quit buying anything that comes in that type of container.

Why, you ask indignantly? Because not only are the bottles themselves an environmental nightmare and health hazard( the PET leaches into the liquid inside), the manufacturers of this chemical are among the worst polluters on the planet. They're petroleum based, you see--every container requires about 1/3 it's volume in oil to manufacture--and every time you buy one you are contributing to the bloated profits of Shell, Exxon, ConocoPhillips, and BP, to name a few. And contributing to global warming. All for products you don't need anyway, but buying them in "convenient" plastic bottles takes "don't need" to a whole new level.

To give you an idea of the manufacturing and distribution chain, so that you know who's making the profits, the Polaris Institute published an in-depth study for you to well, study.

Now please feel free to disregard my admonition about using PET bottles, especially if you don't mind supporting the profit margins of these companies. However, if you care about the environment and your health even a little, maybe you'll find it within yourself to just tell these PET pushers to "can it".

Found--Cheney, Jr--The Saga Continues

This guy is a natural--he has every quality the Republican party cherishes. He's the Dick without the money, and the Republicans will miss a sure bet if they ignore his obvious appeal to their base. This man should be offered a spot on the ticket as the VP nominee.

He's a bona fide asshole and general prick. He's arrogant beyond belief, and a shady businessman to boot. He carries a Bible and prays, and exudes toughness. Look in the dictionary and his picture is next to "charisma". He bowls people over when he speaks.

This man is the hope, past and future of the Grand Old Party, and I pray he gets all the attention he deserves. Yea, I say unto you, it's not only the GOP that needs the services of this man, but our great nation as well, to maintain the status quo in these perilous times.

Tell the Republicans to DRAFT DOUGLAS BRUCE FOR VICE PRESIDENT ! Start calling today!

Exxon, "religious" hucksters,and the Supreme court

God only knows where Exxon be without the multi-billion dollar tax breaks? It is undoubtedly true that without those tax breaks promoting additional exploration (at precisely the time when we need to wean ourselves off of hydrocarbons), there would be mass suicides among their stockholders. As it is, however, Exxon is poised to announce record profits yet again. They are expected to announce 2007 earnings of $39.2 billion, or $75,000/minute. I am grateful that my fuel expenditures, coupled with the wisdom of the tax cuts, is actually saving lives.

The United States Supreme Court, in a backbreaking ruling, protected the profits of the banks who made fortunes colluding with Enron to defraud Enron's stockholders and customers of over $30 billion, when they dismissed a lawsuit brought by injured parties seeking the right to sue the banks. This Supreme Court, now dominated by hard-line right-wingers, is all pro business, all the time. Everyone else--you know, the ones who pay taxes-- can go screw themselves.

In an unrelated story, except that the perpetrators of this continuing fraud are tax-exempt, the televangelist "prosperity gospel" hucksters are raking in hundreds of millions to support truly lavish personal lifestyles by suckering the gullible and desperate out of their last dollars. And their free will. Here is an article from AlterNet that gives you an inside look at how they work.

Remember, tax free. No tax liability for these millionaires-- They're churches after all. And every dollar they don't pay in taxes is money that doesn't go into our treasury to reduce the deficit, or pave roads, or fund social programs. No sir, those are things that the rest of us have to pay for.

Government for the people? No, definitely not.

Just gimme a dollar and we'll call it square

That is, basically, what the U.S. department of Education told a state-owned Pennsylvania company that makes and guarantees student loans. The Inspector General of the Department of Education found that the company had received improper subsidies of $34 million, and the Ed. Dept. not only ignored the findings of their own I.G., they decided that the amount was only about $15 million, and then told the state company to repay whatever they thought they owed.

From the New York Times (1/26/08):

The Education Department has brushed aside a finding by its own inspector general that a student lender improperly received $34 million in federal subsidies, and is instructing the lender to decide for itself how much money it should pay back.

In a letter sent Friday to the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, a state-owned company that makes and guarantees student loans, the department said it had estimated the overpayment at only $15.1 million, and said in a separate letter that it agreed with only some of the findings of the inspector general. But it told the agency to calculate for itself the amount it thought it had overbilled the government. Any final payment would require the approval of the Education Department.

The agency “must provide a detailed explanation of its plan to identify affected loans and to calculate overpayments,” which would be deducted from future reimbursement requests, wrote Patricia Trubia, a department official, in the letter.

Keith New, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania agency, said it was “very pleased” with the department’s letter, and that it would continue to negotiate with the department over any repayment obligation.

“We could wind up with zero liability,” Mr. New said. (emphasis mine)

Department officials declined to comment on what the resolution of the case could be.

The Education Department’s inspector found in November that the Pennsylvania agency overbilled the government by $34 million under a subsidy program enacted in the 1980s to make issuing loans to students more attractive at a time of high interest rates. Congress tried to rein in the program in 1993, as rates fell, but the loans ballooned as lenders exploited a loophole to keep receiving the subsidies.

Michael Dannenberg, director of the education policy program at the New America Foundation in Washington, sharply criticized the department’s decision to seek less than the amount identified in the audit.

“The department’s going after less than half of a fraction of the larger amount of improper billing that the Pennsylvania lending agency engaged in,” Mr. Dannenberg said. “The Department of Education’s failure to aggressively police the student loan industry has hurt taxpayers and students, and this is the latest example.”

Representative George Miller, the California Democrat who is the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee and a critic of the department’s oversight of student lending, also lashed out.

“Today’s action doesn’t erase the administration’s failure last year to recover hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars misspent by Nelnet,” Mr. Miller said Friday in a statement, referring to the large student lender based in Nebraska. Last year the department allowed Nelnet to keep $278 million in subsidies that its inspector general had concluded were improper.

“While I am disappointed that the department is not seeking to collect the full amount recommended by the inspector general,” Mr. Miller added, “I hope that this decision is a sign that the department is finally starting to take its role as the steward of our nation’s federal student aid programs seriously.

This is another example of a seven-year-long pattern of government agencies disregarding the findings and advice of their own employees to render decisions that fly in the face of reason. Can someone please explain to me why this is so? Couldn't be politics, could it? Or payback? Or the buddy system? Or just mind-numbing incompetence?

Government for the people? No, definitely not.

the plural of "stimulus" is "stimulies"

I can't say that my personal huge extra government check won't be appreciated--after all I've got bills to pay--but the boon I'm about to realize from the economic stimulus package that Congress passed, in one week with strong bi-partisan support, is a con that doesn't begin to address the underlying causes of the recession that we are now undeniably in.

Sure, we're all getting some cash to spend, and we're expected to spend it the day we get it, because the markets are in trouble. The problem is that that spending jolt will have little or no effect on the forces driving the financial markets into the ground. It is too little an amount to make a difference, although it could have a real impact if the entire amount of the stimulus package was distributed to the "little guys" (us), but the bulk of that $150 billion giveaway is going to the very people whose shady, shoddy, unethical, and criminal dealings precipitated this mess.

As usual, I'm posting links to several good articles on this subject:

Here, and here, and here.

And why the sudden rush to action, when all of us "commoners" have been in a recession for months and years? As David Sirota explains, it's the people and corporations who control our government that are the ones feeling pinched now, and when they snap their fingers, our legislators sit up and pay attention.

And who do you suppose is going to finance this addition to our budget deficit?? Can you say "China"?

Last, but not least, here's a really good rant. I like this guy!

Government for the people? No, definitely not.

Kucinich forced out of race

The only true "voice of the people", the only presidential candidate who advocated for the 99% of the citizens of this country who are suffering from a government serving the interests of "big money", has had to halt his quest to be the Democratic nominee for President.

Dennis Kucinich had been shut out of yet another debate (CNN), and lacking the funds to air enough ads to get his voice heard, has called it quits for this election cycle. Damn it!

When our government allows a candidates voice to be kept off of the public airways by the media outlets sponsoring the endless phony debates, so that only candidates whose positions don't threaten the corporate control of America are heard, we lose our right to informed choice.

Five major corporations control almost all of the news that we are allowed to hear. A vigorous free press disseminating information , serving the public by acting as watchdogs on the government, and exposing corporate wrongdoings, is only a memory. They now have the apparent right to control our elections by controlling the information flow. Our democracy, which depends on a free press, is much weaker for it's lack.

Private control of the public processes vital to our democracy can lead to only disaster for our freedom.

UPDATE: I just wrote this post, then this showed up. You might find it interesting.


There are a few people, known to me personally, who tend to depend on my blog for their news. This is for them. To anyone else who learns something here, you're welcome.

Sibel Edmonds was a translator for the FBI just long enough to have uncovered a long-running operation involving the sale of nuclear secrets to other countries. The operation involved high-level State Department officials and others including members of Congress, and the coverup has been phenomenally efficient. Edmonds has been gagged by the government for the last five years from telling what she knows, and the media won't even acknowledge that she exists.

Edmonds finally has told her story to the UK Sunday Times, who broke it a few weeks ago. I'm going to post links to various articles about Edmonds and her revelations. Study them thoroughly and you will see a compelling case for treason against the United States of America. And no, it wasn't just the Bush administration involved here--it goes back farther than that, but they are covering it up for all they're worth.

I know that this is a cheesy way to post this story, but the information that we have to date is all here, and I can't expand it by putting it into my own words.

I'm not sorting these to establish a time line, and remember the links within the links:

Here, here, here, here, and here

Here, here, here, and here

Here, here, and here

Remember, this story is just beginning to unfold. Everyone in government who has a hand in this should be charged with treason and punished to the fullest extent of the law, regardless of station, status, position or reputation.

Government for the people? No, definitely not.

Virginia guns down reform, while arms race heats up in national parks

Remember Virginia Tech? C'mon- it wasn't that long ago. A troubled student bought some guns (one from a pawn shop and one from a licensed dealer) and murdered 32 students, which led to a public outcry to eliminate the loopholes in the laws regarding gun sales and purchases. Imagine that! Some people actually thought that guns shouldn't be made available to nutball sociopaths.

Well, their voices were heard loud and clear , and the Virginia legislature responded by referring the matter to the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee, which, after due deliberation, killed legislation that would have required unlicensed sellers to conduct background checks on people buying weapons at gun shows. The reason?-- The killer didn't buy his weapons at a gun show. Oh, OK then. I'm thinking that maybe Virginia isn't a good place to attend school. Or visit.

Meanwhile, it seems we have an arms race about to spiral out of control in our national parks.In September, I reported that the National Park Service had placed an order for 700 Tasers, and speculated why the Park Service would need such weapons. (I still don't know)

Now we find that Tasers may not be sufficient for whatever nefarious purposes the Park Service has in mind, because 47 (!?!) Senators have written to the Secretary of the Interior asking him to lift the ban on carrying ready-to-fire weapons in national parks and wildlife refuges.

If, beyond all reason, this is allowed, poor Ranger Bob with his puny little Taser is going to be hopelessly undergunned. In order for the good Rangers to keep our national parks a safe, enjoyable destination for families, they will be forced to upgrade their weaponry to include Hand grenades, CS gas, howitzers, Tech 9's, and anything else required to win a firefight with the gun-toters. The gun contingent, of course, will not cede superiority to the Rangers, and will respond in kind. And so the race is on.

The insanity is making me crazy.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The military budget and the bankrupting of America

Chalmers Johnson,, 1/23/08, via AlterNet.

A critically important explanation of how our bloated defense expenditures are bankrupting our country. The statistics alone will stagger and sicken you.

Going Bankrupt: Why the Debt Crisis is America's Greatest Threat

Read it and send it on.

Iraq-- new news--old news-- new lies--old lies

I save too much stuff. Articles and essays I want to write just don't get written, at least not quickly enough to keep up with with the volume of things I save for reference. So instead, I'm just going to pass the links on to you. At least this way, I can tell myself that I did something.

You'll need four things--time, snacks, blood pressure pills, and a barf bag (large). The saga continues-- Let's here it now:

Here, here, here, and here for Petraeus's reward.

Here, and here just to piss you off some more. Oh, and how many of these men and women can we add to the casualty figures? And this is going on all over the country.

And the rest, for gravy on the cake--Here, here, here, here, and here.

Murder by any other name is still murder

Just as "enhanced interrogation technique" is a euphemism devised to make torture sound acceptable, just as the phrase "national interests" is used to con you into feeling that you have a stake in what are actually economic interests from which you cannot possibly benefit, so too is the innocuous sounding phrase "collateral damage" used to keep you from understanding that innocent victims of war have been murdered.

By no standard of morality is it possible to justify the death of even one person who was a non-combatant in an armed conflict, for they had certainly done nothing to deserve their fate, and yet the bodies pile up-- over a million just in Iraq, so far--innocent men, women, and children who had no part to play in our invasion and occupation, except to be killed as "collateral damage".

Michael Boldin, for, has penned a powerful essay on the subject of "collateral damage"which I strongly recommend that you read, here.

And for a harsher perspective, to make you aware that the death of innocents isn't always accidental, but sometimes set in policy, read this.

"To the victors go the spoils".

Maybe to victors won't want the spoils when they realize that the "spoils" aren't the land, the wealth of the conquered, or the profits made in the enterprise, but are the spoiled rotting corpses of all the human beings murdered on the way to "victory". They may not want them, but they'll deserve them.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Does the USO have a dual mission?

Intergalactically renowned right-wing talk show host Michael Savage is perhaps the most egregiously offensive hate-spewer on right-wing radio. His diatribes cannot be construed as anything but hate speech, most recently aimed at Muslims. He is divisive and encourages attitudes among his listeners that lead to hate crimes, and support for punitive legislation that discriminates against minorities.

Like Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter, Glenn Beck and all the rest, Savage openly fans the flames of racist hatred, and has not been called to account, until now.

CAIR, the Council for American Islamic Relations, posted some of Savage's rants on their website, and used them as examples of the inflammatory messages directed against Muslims in America, and posted a "donate" button so that concerned citizens could help CAIR counter Savage's diatribes. So what does Savage do? He sued them claiming they had no right to use his speech to solicit money, as it is copyrighted material.

Here is an article on Savage from the NYT, and a link to the lawsuit against CAIR. This seemingly frivolous lawsuit, which CAIR is forced to defend, has brought other organizations to the fore, to fight back against Savage and his message by calling for the major advertisers on his show to withdraw their ad support. It's had good results so far, but not all advertisers seem to care that they are buying time on, and thereby support, a radio show filled with the vile filth for which Savage is noted. Links with audio is here, on No

Among those advertisers still buying time on Savage's show is our very own United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Someone should tell them that government-sponsored hate speech is a serious violation of at least one serious law. But why would they care?

But just as troublesome is the participation of the USO (United Service Organizations) who get free advertising, and apparently don't care who spreads their message. They have responded to the complaints about their connection with Savage (albeit free) with not only a refusal to pull their ads, but have also hinted that Brave New Films (a major organization that picked up CAIR's fight) could be hit with a lawsuit if they didn't remove all mention of the USO from their website.

Which gets me to my point.

The USO is a very highly respected private non-profit charity whose mission for over 60 years has been to provide entertainment and "a touch of home" for our armed forces personnel here and around the world. They have been universally admired for their work, and the morale boost they provide for the men and women of our military.They operate with a small paid staff and primarily depend on over 20,000 volunteers. The CEO earned $312,000 for his services in 2004, the last year for which figures are available, and that doesn't appear to be out of line for his responsibility(at least until you realize he's got all those folks who donate their time). All well and good so far.

In the never- ending quest for financial help, however, USO has partnered with a diverse group of corporations, who provide financial support either in the form of free advertising of public service announcements or in cash. All of these "partners" have something to gain, of course--either goodwill or possibly greater profits for themselves, and that is where I can see a potential conflict with the stated mission of the USO.

Two of the "partners and sponsors" of the USO are BAE Systems and DRS Technologies. Both these companies are defense contractors, that by the very nature of their businesses stand to make a lot more money in a lengthy armed conflict that would be more likely to occur if anti-Muslim sentiment was successfully played into continuing war. That scenario would of course lead to the injury and death of many of the same service men and women that the USO was formed to help.

I'm not charging USO with a conflict of interest, but the fact that they are financially dependent on companies like these raises valid ethical questions, especially considering their somewhat vehement refusal to pull their free ads from Savage's show. How much influence , if any, did this symbiotic relationship have to do with their refusal?

The questions become even more relevant considering the discrepancy between USO's website and the stated response of a spokesman when discussing the ads --Their website states that it would be impossible for a charity of their size to monitor ad placement, but their spokesman said that the organization could ask that their psa's be taken off of Savage's program, but wouldn't.

Which is it? They can't, or they can but won't?

If the answer is that they won't, then it is safe to say that in the interest of fairness, they would also refuse to pull advertising from any program--- from the "KKK Hour of White Power" to "Al Qaida Tonight"to (gasp!) Brave New Films. It would be an interesting thing to monitor.

Achilles was a mutant octpus

Grist, the environmental organization (please get their e-newsletter), just ran a piece on the nuclear industry and how they might be forced to shut down many of their plants due to increasing chronic water shortages. Read it below.

Use the Forethought, Nuke

Nuclear power plants in U.S. Southeast may face shutdowns due to drought

Nuclear reactors across the U.S. Southeast could be forced to slow production or shut down in the near future due to the effects of continuing drought in the region. Nuclear power plants require massive amounts of water to cool steam that turns the generators; the water usually arrives via large intake pipes from nearby rivers and lakes. However, with water levels at drought-induced lows, a growing number of reactors are inching closer and closer to the water levels that would hamper plant operation. Pumping water from shallower depths, even when available, can also lead to forced shutdowns due to the water's increased temperature. "You need a lot of water to operate nuclear plants," said Jim Warren, executive director of a North Carolina green group. "Water is the nuclear industry's Achilles' heel." By our count that makes at least four such heels: water, the legacy of radioactive waste, nuke plants' appeal as terrorist targets, and the enormous costs of nuke plant construction.

Grist, as good as they are, only counted four "Achilles heels" for the nuclear industry. They actually forgot several others--the companies and contractors who push and profit from this deadly technology--GE, Bechtel, Fluor, etc.etc. Grist's Achilles would require only four pedal appendages (like conjoined twins)--the "nuclear" Achilles, to be a appropriate analogy, would require many more-- like a mutant octopus.

All lies--all death--all the time--and the butchers bill is still being tallied

One, two, three....NINE HUNDRED AND THIRTY-FIVE lies!! And that's just for Iraq. An in-depth study by the Center for Public Integrity, working with The Fund for Independence in Journalism, has documented 935 outright lies, distortions, and misleading statements by members of the Executive branch which made the case for the preemptive invasion of Iraq.

Take those lies, multiply them by at least a thousand as they were repeated endlessly by an unquestioning, adoring, compliant, sometimes colluding, fawning press and media, and we are where we are now-- nearly destroyed as a nation, both economically and morally.

Take those lies, and figure each of them is worth over 1,000 deaths so far. That's a pretty good return on the investment, don't you think? And every one of the people who told them, and everyone who helped spread them, and everyone who voted to invade, and everyone who has profited from our invasion built on lies, is a murderer or an accessory to murder. That will be for God to sort out.

Take those lies, and you will see that each of them has pulled over two billion dollars from our treasury, so far, estimating the true costs of this invasion, which costs will be borne by us and future generations of Americans, for the immediate profit of a few.

Take those lies, and look at the fruits of what we have sown-- our freedoms are gone, our government is more controlled by the moneyed elite than ever, our standard of living is dropping like a rock, and since the invasion, our overall quality of life has diminished dramatically.

Take those lies, and how they were so feverishly disseminated to a frightened population, and you will see the deaths of us all, and of our morality, and our standards of decency and empathy and basic goodness, which have been our hallmark for over 200 years.

"Take those lies and use them as a model" will be the instructions for any group in the future seeking to utterly destroy a country.

For the curious, synopses of the lies can be found here, and here, and the full detailed list is here.
The Bush "Murderers Row" of Bush, Cheney, Rice, Powell, Fleischer, Rumsfeld, et al, makes the 1927 Yankees look like amateurs--all they did was beat their opponents, not kill them.

Of course, the liars themselves are contemptuous and dismissive of the facts (nothing new there!), and here and here are just a few examples of their blatant "ass-covering" rhetoric.

And where are we now? Perhaps Cindy Sheehan says it best.

Is there any hope for justice?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Five country biometric database in the works

The U.S. is spending $1 billion to develop the worlds largest biometrics database, and is in talks with four other countries to cross-share information. Involved in these talks are the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The database will contain information such as fingerprints, palm prints, facial features and irises on millions of known and suspected criminals and terrorists.

Here are links to two articles supporting this subject, from Guardian UK (via CorpWatch), and ZDNet.

Thank God the FBI is smart enough to include New Zealand, which is a known haven to flocks of terrorists who roam the mountains disguised as sheep.

Seriously, my beef with this is that it represents yet another intrusion into our privacy rights, which are disappearing so quickly it's unbelievable. Our government has so many surveillance programs either up or in development that I've lost count. I doubt that the government knows either. They only know they can never have too many.

The problem with this particular database is the same as all of the other databases--they always expand the data gathering way beyond the stated intent, either accidentally or on purpose, and it's a sure bet that millions of people will be included who have no legitimate reason to be in it.

In all the years that the United States has been in existence, we have never had to destroy any of our Constitutional rights and freedoms to meet an external threat. And it's certainly not necessary now. Face it, the greatest threat to the U.S. in not external, but internal.

Fighting terrorism and crime is just an excuse to gather information on your life and your movements, even the bowel variety. It's not about terrorism--it's all about controlling whole populations of innocent citizens. Make no mistake, our government fully intends to have every shred of information on every man, woman, child and fetus in this country. They will know the due date of a baby before the mother knows she's pregnant.

Enjoy your police state while you can folks, because "They're coming to take you away, ha ha!".

When money rules we're played for fools

Larry Beinhart has written an essay for AlterNet titled The Fraud of Bushenomics: They're Looting the Country

Beinhart deftly shreds the voodoo economics of the Bushites. He has written it in a way that explains the lies and fallacies and the inevitable disastrous consequences, so that even fuzzy-minded idiots like myself can make perfect sense of it. I recommend that you read it a few times and then send it to all the fuzzy-minded idiots that you know, that they might benefit as I have.

Friday, January 18, 2008

OLIO n.- a miscellaneous collection,as below

AH, where to start? Let's begin here, an interview done last month by Chris Hedges with Dennis Kucinich. Kucinich has been treated very badly by the media--dismissed as "irrelevant" and a "tin hat nut case", and denied any meaningful time to have his positions heard. Read this interview and then decide if he sounds "nuts" and "irrelevant" to you. I say screw the media--vote your conscience! Do you agree?

One thing Dennis did recently, that the msm has used to belittle him, is to admit that he has seen a UFO. Now, it seems that he's "not alone out there". Dozens of people in Texas reported seeing a very strange phenomenon last week. I haven't heard any right-wingers claim that the UFO was just Kucinich's campaign transportation-- not yet, anyway.

And speaking of Texas, seems those old boys will put any guy on their Supreme Court so long as he wears an elephant lapel pin. Here's one that was just charged with tampering with an arson investigation. Seems his wife burned down their house.
From AP

HOUSTON (AP) — A Texas Supreme Court justice has been charged with tampering with evidence in a fire that destroyed his home, a blaze the judge's wife is accused of setting, a television station reported Thursday.
Justice David Medina was indicted in the June fire at the couple's home in the Houston suburb of Spring that also damaged a neighbor's house, Medina's attorney Terry Yates told KHOU-TV. It caused a total of nearly $1 million in damage.
It was the second fire at the home in 10 years, and both blazes started in the garage.
Francisca Medina, the judge's wife, was charged with arson, the station reported.
Medina, 49, is a former district judge in Harris County, which contains Houston, and was appointed to the Supreme Court by Gov. Rick Perry in 2004.
The Harris County prosecutor told the station he will move to dismiss the case for lack of evidence.

Hell yes there's a lack of evidence--it burned up. And if the case goes to the Texas Supreme Court, he'll throw it out.

Also from Texas, but even richer than the last one-- I'm still chuckling. Delicious irony.
From AP

Creation Museum Selling Mastodon Skull

DALLAS (AP) — A Texas museum that teaches creationism is counting on the auction of a prehistoric mastodon skull to stave off extinction. The founder and curator of the Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum, which rejects evolution and claims that man and dinosaurs coexisted, said it will close unless the Volkswagen-sized skull finds a generous bidder.

"If it sells, well, then we can come another day," Joe Taylor said. "This is very important to our continuing."

Heritage Auction Galleries says the skull is estimated to be 40,000 years old, and projects it will fetch upward of $160,000. The artifact discovered in La Grange in 2004 is believed to be the largest of its kind, Heritage spokesman David Herskowitz said.
The auction will be held Sunday in Dallas, with bids accepted on the Internet until Saturday night.
"We're trying to reach out to someone who would buy it, then reach out to a museum in Texas," Herskowitz said.
Taylor said he would love to keep the skull of the elephant-like mammal as the centerpiece of his tiny museum just outside Lubbock, which includes creationist exhibits.
Claims on the museum's Web site include that Noah took dinosaurs aboard his ark. The prevailing scientific wisdom is that humans and dinosaurs missed each other by tens of millions of years.
Taylor said he's been financially crippled by about $136,000 he's been ordered to pay in a legal dispute over finder's rights to an Allosaurus skeleton unearthed in Colorado. About $141,000 has also been put into the mastodon skull's restoration, he said.
If the mastodon auction doesn't cover the judgment, Taylor said local authorities will seize his 10-year-old museum and sell off its contents in February.
"We've struggled so long here just to keep this thing going," Taylor said. "We're kind of losing interest. You can just tread water for so long." (...)

God will split His sides laughing at the fools who think the skull could be more than 6,000 years old. Serves 'em right if they buy it.

Now, we're leaving Texas and going to other foreign lands.

Canada has just put the U.S. on a "Torture Watch List".
Damn, now we'll have to kill them.

Zimbabwe has issued a $10 million bill.
They have a little problem with inflation. Don't laugh, we could be next.

Belize has a more honest election system than the U.S.
Read this really marvelous essay and you'll understand.

Informative? Entertaining? Thought provoking? A little odd? I tried.

UPDATE: 1/19/08) Canada has just issued a semi-quasi-half-baked apology for including the U.S. on their "Torture Watch List. (but we're still on it)

"Massey's in de coal, coal ground" (apologies to Stephen Foster)

Since the satirical piece I did several days ago on "big coal" vs. the Kroger Co. drew some fire, I thought I'd follow up with another, more serious piece. Not too lengthy, but it paints a picture of how far big coal spreads its influence, and how they spread it.

For starters, Bush stuck his finger in the eye of the Senate again a few weeks ago when he appointed Richard Stickler Acting Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, bypassing Senate confirmation as he has done so many times already.

Secondly, the Massey Energy CEO and a West Virginia Supreme Court justice "accidentally" met several times in Monte Carlo while both men were "coincidentally" vacationing there at the same time in 2006. "Coincidentally", Massey Energy was appealing a $50 million judgement (other sources cite a figure of $76.3 million) against them in a suit brought by a defunct coal company, and the appeal "just happened" to be in front of the W VA Supreme court at the time. Not long after the two met, the jurist "coincidentally"voted with the majority in a 3-2 decision overturning the judgement. Pays to have friends in high places, huh?

Thirdly, Massey Energy only yesterday agreed to pay a $30 million fine after negotiating with the EPA over 4,500 waste discharge violations committed over a seven year period. Really a pittance, considering the liability could have been as high as $2.4 billion. That fine was nothing more than a empty gesture.

Coal is a dirty form of energy, but the business practices of the mine owners are even dirtier. The miners themselves depend on their jobs to earn a living, and God bless 'em all for working in the conditions they do, but they don't have much choice as long as their crooked bosses are allowed to carry on with impunity. We need a government which will finally act in the interests of the miners and force the owners to either abide by the law or go away forever.

Cluster bombs--safe if taken as directed

From Reuters UK (1/16/08)

U.S. insists cluster bombs not bad if used right

By Robert Evans

GENEVA (Reuters) - Cluster bombs, which nearly 100 countries are seeking to ban, should not be considered bad as long as states involved in conflicts use them responsibly, a senior United States official said on Wednesday.

The official, who declined to be identified, also told a background briefing that Washington was planning to create a "quick reaction force", or QRF, to handle threats to civilians from remnants of war, like cluster bombs.

The official's remarks, which could not be quoted directly, clearly confirmed that Washington -- like Russia, China and some other powers -- remained opposed to banning the weapon.

He spoke as negotiators on updating a 1981 international agreement on especially dangerous conventional weapons (CCW) met in Geneva to prepare for "expert discussions" on cluster weapons next year under the United Nations umbrella.

Cluster munitions include a variety of weapons that can spread up to hundreds of bomblets over a target area. Up to 30 percent fail to explode, posing a threat to civilians for many years after a conflict.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says some 400 million people in countries and regions like Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Russia's Chechnya live in effective minefields, under daily threat of maiming from cluster bombs.

Other campaigners say at least 13,000 civilians are known to have been killed or injured by the bombs -- used heavily most recently by Israel in its 2006 war against Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon -- in recent years...... (click here for rest or article)

Personally, I find it reprehensible that a bomb which kills thousands of innocent people years after being dropped, should be characterized as "not bad". And how is it remotely possible to use something like a cluster bomb "responsibly"? What the hell does that mean?

Well, naturally it's the kind of rationalization you'd expect from a country with an armaments industry as big as ours-- we have the singular honor of being by far the largest exporters of death in the world. More bucks for the bang than any other country.

Why haven't our lawmakers in DC put a stop to this--at least stop the manufacture and export of weapons like cluster bombs and land mines which kill and maim civilians for decades? It's not as if we don't have hundreds of other ways of killing people that are "safer". Perhaps you should ask Hillary Clinton, whose record in the Senate puts her squarely on the side of the death merchants.

Maybe it has something to do with the buying power that the super-profitable arms industry has in Washington. Yeah, probably something like that.

Rigged? Hacked?Crooked?Inept? Ya suppose?

This post promises to be a mess-- there's too much to cover-- but stay with it, because it all concerns the ongoing problems plaguing every aspect of our voting system. There's not much new here for those who are already aware of what's happening, and why, but more details are coming to light almost daily about the concerted efforts still underway to undermine our elections. Give yourself time to follow all the links here and you might gain a better understanding (if you need it).

A few of my recent posts on this subject are here, and here (for background)

The New Hampshire recount is underway, and it's a mess so far, with a lot of missing data that no one can seem to find. I can't imagine how that would happen, except I read this, and this. The connections and cronyism are plain to see, and when you consider that an executive of LHS Associates, which controls all these voting machines (and their source codes) is a convicted felon , and the head of Diebold, who foisted these machines onto us, said in 2004 that he was"committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes" to President Bush, can there still be a doubt in any sane persons mind that our elections are being stolen? Oh, and they are all Republicans. Every one. (another good website for up-to-the-minute info is

And then there's the problem of "vote caging", an illegal form of voter disenfranchisement that the Republicans deny any knowledge of-- maybe they never heard of it, but the Republican party was caught in the act back in the 1980's and signed a consent decree promising not to do it again. Well, it never stopped, and since Bush first ran for election, has been a full time operation in states controlled by Republicans. Investigative reporter Greg Palast wrote Armed Madhouse, a very well-documented expose of caging operations, and you should read it. Now, though, somebody really screwed up, and "plausible deniability" may now be impossible. . The question remains if this specific admission will be addressed by the government officials in Kansas.

In Washington, however,House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers introduced a bill on 1/17/08 that both confirms vote caging as illegal and adds serious fines and prison time for offenders. We'll see how far it gets.

This a only a scratch on the boil, and I'll leave voter ID laws for another time.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Jenna set the date - details sketchy

News reports have it that Jenna Bush will be married on May 10th to fiance Henry Hager in a "small" wedding at the family ranch in Crawford, Texas.

That's it - all we know at the moment - leaving me the responsibility of providing interesting details solely from my imagination.

Security will be tight. The public will be escorted from Texas for the duration of the festivities, and air space restricted except for Fox News helicopters and Blackwater gunships.

There is, of course, speculation that this is a "shotgun"wedding. If that is true, expect Dick Cheney to lurk close behind the groom, waiting (or not) for him to make a break.

Officiating will be the Reverend Fred Phelps of the famous Westboro Baptist Church, but the bonds of matrimony will be sealed with Gorilla Glue, which paid handsomely for the privilege.

An informal reception at the ranch is planned, to begin immediately after the wedding. The guests will be encouraged to attend and participate in any of several fun activities, including a demonstration of "enhanced interrogation" techniques down at the lake. (Actually a charity fund-raiser for the families of indicted politicians, and the money is expected to flow in for such a good cause.) Other activities will include caged dove shooting, the ever popular"chainsaw the armadillo" event, and an SUV engine-revving competition.

Of course food will be plentiful, buffet style. Exotic endangered species from around the world, barbecued to perfection. Doesn't it sound wonderful? And the needs of everyone in attendance will be met by a staff of several hundred "guest workers"brought in to the U.S. just for the day, circulating through the crowd with drinks and drugs.

Guests will be able to leave their wedding gifts at any of several tractor-trailers and Brinks trucks parked discreetly on the grounds for the purpose.

At the close of the day, and as the time draws near for the newlyweds to take their leave, expect President Bush, determined to make a favorable impression on his new son-in-law, to put his arm on the young mans shoulder and whisper "Hey Henry, when you get back from the honeymoon, lemme know if she's as good as I think she is. Heh heh".

Jenna and Henry will fly to Paraguay for their honeymoon, but plan to make a "compassionate flyover" of New Orleans on the way. Isn't that swell?

Good luck, kids!!

Voting integrity--vital and doable--so demand it!

I've posted on this before, as have 10 million other bloggers, and most readers are familiar with the ways a persons right to vote has been suppressed, and with the ways that votes cast have been tampered with. Progress toward correcting vote tabulation problems is being made slowly and unevenly, in states like Ohio and California, even while attempts at voter suppression continue to proliferate. I'll not elaborate on the caging schemes and voter ID laws - if you're not aware of them by now, you've got a lot of homework to do.

Although the problem of vote-rigging is national, it has been particularly severe in Ohio, and Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman have worked tirelessly to expose and catalogue the problems. They also offer some workable solutions, as you will see from their article at Smirking

Bob and Harvey's 3-Step "Ohio Plan" for fair and reliable voting and vote counts

America is awash in suspect and stolen elections. Since January, 2001, the nation has been saddled with an unelected chief executive. The consequences have been predictably horrific.

Along the way, three US Senate contests in 2002 and numerous other Congressional and local elections have been subjected to partisan disenfranchisement of qualified voters, and vote counts that smack of theft and fraud.

Even now the primary in New Hampshire is rightly being challenged to do an expensive but necessary recount procedure that could and should have been avoided.

As has been shown in the Free Press and elsewhere through the stolen 2000 and 2004 presidential contests, there are scores of ways by which elections can and have been rigged and ripped off in this new century. And there are scores of cures that can be put forth.

But we believe they can boil down to a basic three:


Since the beginning of the American republic, more than 200 years ago, voters have signed their registration forms, then signed again when they came to vote. Falsifying a signature is a felony. All studies indicate that the number of people who vote fraudulently is miniscule.

In recent years, Republican operatives have attempted to hype so-called voter fraud into a major issue. The Bush Administration has fired nine US Attorneys for their failure to find large numbers of people committing this crime.

Nonetheless, the GOP and its minions in the media have hyped this non-problem into a national crisis, whose "solution" is to demand photo ID at the polling stations.

It's well-known that the impact of this demand would be to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of elderly, indigent, homeless and other citizens, most of whom happen to vote Democratic. A lower court has rightly labeled this requirement to be a "poll tax" which is specifically barred by the 24th Amendment to the US Constitution.

But the US Supreme Court now has at least four members who will vote for anything that serves the partisan interests of the Republican Party. There is a widespread feeling the Court will approve this requirement, with adoption in many states run by the GOP.

During Ohio 2004, and in New Mexico and other swing states, the GOP also found ways to prevent many thousands of voters from registering at all. The list of dirty tricks is too long and insidious to report here. More are being unearthed every day.

The one most likely to surface in a big way in 2008 is the practice of disqualifying voters if the spelling of their name or their middle initial (or lack thereof) somehow varies from the one in the computer-generated registration books. Since the voter rolls in some counties and states have already been privatized, and are being run by partisan for-profit vendors, we can expect widespread, systematic disenfranchisement if this system remains in tact.

Our "Ohio Plan" solution is simple: everyone in the United States should be automatically registered to vote upon turning 18 years old. Forms addressed to election bureaus, with free postage, should be made available in high schools and colleges, at motor vehicle bureaus, social security offices, post offices, union halls, in military recruiting offices and barracks and numerous other locales throughout the nation.

All registration forms, and all polling places, can be festooned with signs warning that fraudulent voting is a felony. No photo ID shall be required at any voting place, only a signature that matches the one on file, and a wide range of less intrusive ID. Innumerable federal, state and government entities from school districts to the IRS know when US citizens turn 18. Ohio allows some 17 different documents to serve as suitable identification at the polls.

Voting is a basic American right. It should be the affirmative duty of the state to promote universal registration and end the bizarre practice of purging voters in a computer age. Short of a death certificate, the few questionable voters can easily be moved to an inactive status instead of purged from the computer database.


It is by now a public article of faith that electronic voting machines are perfectly designed to steal elections. A recent $1.9 million study for the Ohio Secretary of State has confirmed that an electronic voting machine can be flipped with a magnet and a Blackberry. After reports by the Carter-Baker Commission, the Brennan Center, Princeton University, the Government Accountability Office, the Conyers Committee and many more, even the come-lately New York Times has now deemed touch-screen machines to be eminently hackable.

The country owes a huge debt of gratitude to the grassroots uprising of independent researchers and bloggers that has campaigned so bravely and effectively in the face of a mainstream media intent on ignoring the issue.

Now the Times and others seem to want a "middle ground" with Optiscan machines that run paper ballots through a reader, and even worse, feed them into computerized central tabulators.

We oppose this hackable non-solution. At least two Optiscan scams come quickly to mind. In Toledo, Ohio, inner city wards, Optiscan ballots were improperly calibrated causing a higher rate than normal to be rejected by the reader. Scores of them remain uncounted from the 2004 Ohio presidential election. In fact, most of the 93,000 or so uncounted ballots in Ohio fell under the label “machine rejected.”

In Miami County, Ohio, an Optiscan machine produced phantom votes that couldn't be explained in the final tabulation. See the Free Press article:

Yet Ohio's Secretary of State is poised to order Cuyahoga County (Cleveland)---which overrode citizen objections against spending $20 million on touchscreen voting machines---to now spend an additional $11 million on Optiscan machines to replace them. How long will it take before those Optiscan machines are, in turn, rejected?

The real solution is obvious: use paper ballots, and count them by hand. This is not, of course, fool proof. But it works beautifully in places like Germany and Switzerland, where official vote counts regularly conform to within 0.1% of exit polls.

Hand counted paper ballots could and should work here. In particular, we should reach out to high school and college students in the tradition of democratic public service to facilitate the vote count process.

The "revolutionary concept" of all of us voting on ballots that have the actual name of the candidates on them, with the opportunity to put a visual, tangible "X" next to those we choose, has the merit of obvious simplicity. These ballots can be counted and recounted, with high reliability and no dependence on source codes or incomprehensible computer glitches.

To be sure, ballots can be stolen and manipulated. But there is every indicator the possibility of fraud is still far less than with electronic machines. One can stuff ballots one at a time, so to speak, at the retail level. But computerized voting and tabulation allow for the far more dangerous wholesale shifting of votes and the deadly pre-programming of election results.

It should also be noted that federal law now requires that all election records be retained for 22 months after a federal vote. In Ohio, 56 of 88 county election boards ignored federal law---and a court injunction---and destroyed all or some of their records from the 2004 election, making a meaningful recount essentially impossible. Thus far, no state or federal official has indicated any willingness to do anything about this blatant abuse of federal law.

So meaningful reform will require that federal election laws actually be enforced.

As part of the King-Lincoln civil rights lawsuit (in which we are attorney and plaintiff) extensive research into Ohio 2004 makes it clear that nearly all the electronic records were virtually worthless anyway, and could have been easily manipulated had they been retained.

That would not have been the case had the election been conducted entirely on paper ballots. They are thus the worst alternative we have---except for all the other ones.


The current practice of voting on Tuesday was adopted in the 1700s because that was when Americans came to market. We are no longer a farm society, and we need not vote on the first Tuesday following a Monday after final harvest. Today this practice discriminates against working people and is nothing more than an inappropriate, anti-democratic anachronism.

Ohio's Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has proposed a two-week window for voting. We think three days should suffice. They should be the Friday, Saturday and Sunday nearest to November 11, Veteran's Day. The polls should be staffed by high school and college students, who will then be given that Monday off to count the paper ballots.

The current demand for electronic tabulating has no basis other than the demand by the media for quick results and the demand for great profits (at public expense) by the companies who make these easily hackable machines.

We believe the American public can wait for election results to be accurate and reliable. We also see in this a great civics lesson for our young people. And a reliable way to get a true, democratic outcome from our most critical means of keeping the government accountable and under public control.

Universal voter registration, a ban on electronic voting machines and the requirement for hand-counting of paper ballots can all be done with simple legislation. The three-day voting process is more complex. The requirement that we vote the first Tuesday after November's first Monday is embedded in the Constitution. Changing that would require a Constitutional Amendment. (Voting on Saturday through Tuesday, with vote counting on Wednesday---a five-day process---would not).

Overall, simple as they are, these three simple, practical steps could revolutionize our democratic process and restore control of our government to the people. Which is precisely why we expect the mainstream media, voting machine manufacturers and major parties to heap scorn on them.

We have not addressed the problem of money in politics, proportional voting, or of the corporate media's undemocratic domination of the campaign process.

But this administration has certainly taught us the consequences of having an unelected executive. We must start somewhere.

These three steps will help us at least regain control of the voting process. From there, anything is possible.

Let's vote on it!

I would like to add a few things to their suggestions. Transparency in the counting of the ballots is critically important - therefore it should be a legal requirement that all of the ballots be counted in the open, not behind closed doors, in the location where the ballots were cast, in view of election monitors or interested citizens, and should be videotaped from start to finish.

And regarding the obvious need for transparency - Ohio has 88 bi-partisan county election boards, but called a closed-door meeting for only Republican election board members, and when a member of the Ohio Democratic party showed up, he was thrown out. Here is an article and video from Cliff Schecter.

Why would the Republicans do that? Why, indeed. And rest assured that if the mainstream press picks it up, the right-wing rags will blare a headline like "Republicans hold secret strategy meeting - vow to stop Democrat vote tampering".

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Why Bush licks Saudi camel toes- and more!

Greg Palast does a masterful job explaining one of the last mysteries of the universe.

George of Arabia: Better Kiss Your 'Abe' Goodbye (1/16/08)

Bend over, pull out your wallet and kiss your Abe ‘goodbye.’ The Lincolns have got to go - and so do the Hamiltons and Jacksons.

Those bills in your billfold aren’t yours anymore. The landlords of our currency - Citibank, theBush & The King national treasury of China and the House of Saud - are foreclosing and evicting all Americans from the US economy.

It’s mornings like this, when I wake up hung-over to photos of the King of Saudi Arabia festooning our President with gold necklaces, that I reluctantly remember that I am an economist; and one with some responsibility to explain what the hell Bush is doing kissing Abdullah’s camel.

Let’s begin by stating why Bush is not in Saudi Arabia. Bush ain’t there to promote ‘Democracy’ nor peace in Palestine, nor even war in Iran. And, despite what some pinhead from CNN stated, he sure as hell didn’t go to Riyadh to tell the Saudis to cut the price of oil.

What’s really behind Bush’s hajj to Riyadh is that America is in hock up to our knickers. The sub-prime mortgage market implosion, hitting a dozen banks with over $100 billion in losses, is just the tip of the debt-berg.

Since taking office, Bush has doubled the federal debt to more than $5 trillion. And, according to US Treasury figures, on net, foreign investors have purchased close to 100% of that debt. That’s $3 trillion borrowed from the Saudis, the Chinese, the Japanese and others.

Now, Bush, our Debt Junkie-in-Chief, needs another fix. The US Treasury, Citibank, Merrill-Lynch and other financial desperados need another hand-out from Abdullah’s stash. Abdullah, in turn, gets this financial juice by pumping it out of our pockets at nearly $100 a barrel for his crude.

Bush needs the Saudis to charge us big bucks for oil. The Saudis can’t lend the US

U.S. against the world-- Bush turns on our friends

Unbelievable! Our Administration has tipped over into insanity and is alienating our allies with heavy-handed allegations of incompetence and by claiming that Europe represents an increasing threat as a staging ground for terrorist attacks on the U.S.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates accused NATO allies of lacking competence to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan, and Michael Chertoff, head of Fatherland Security, said European travelers to the U.S. can expect much closer scrutiny, including pre-registering online and tighter security checks, because Europe is seen as an increasing threat.

If these claims are true, and if the Bush administration follows their doctrine of pre-emptive action against countries that pose a threat to our safety (remember Iraq?), then Bush will clearly feel he has no choice but to invade Europe. Probably through Normandy. And if the NATO forces are as bad as they say, it should be a cakewalk, right?

Lets see what God tells him to do.

What Bush and all of neocon friends need is Morgellons.It's the least they deserve.

Ever hear of Mark Deli Siljander? Chances are you won't

From Yahoo News(1/16/08) (H/T Cliff Schecter)


WASHINGTON - A former congressman and delegate to the United Nations was indicted Wednesday as part of a terrorist fundraising ring that allegedly sent more than $130,000 to an al-Qaida and Taliban supporter who has threatened U.S. and international troops in Afghanistan.

Mark Deli Siljander, a Michigan Republican when he was in the House, was charged with money laundering, conspiracy and obstructing justice for allegedly lying about lobbying senators on behalf of an Islamic charity that authorities said was secretly sending funds to terrorists.

A 42-count indictment, unsealed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Mo., accuses the Islamic American Relief Agency of paying Siljander $50,000 for the lobbying — money that turned out to be stolen from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Siljander, who served in the House from 1981-1987, was appointed by President Reagan to serve as a U.S. delegate to the United Nations for one year in 1987.

He could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday. His attorney in Kansas City, J.R. Hobbs, had no immediate comment.

The charges are part of a long-running case against the charity, which had been based in Columbia, Mo., and was designated by the Treasury Department in 2004 as a suspected fundraiser for terrorists.

In the indictment, the government alleges that IARA employed a man who had served as a fundraising aide to Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaida leader and mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The indictment charges IARA with sending approximately $130,000 to help Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whom the United States has designated as a global terrorist. The money, sent to bank accounts in Peshawar, Pakistan, in 2003 and 2004, was masked as donations to an orphanage located in buildings that Hekmatyar owned.

Authorities described Hekmatyar as an Afghan mujahedeen leader who has participated in and supported terrorist acts by al-Qaida and the Taliban. The Justice Department said Hekmatyar "has vowed to engage in a holy war against the United States and international troops in Afghanistan."

The charges paint "a troubling picture of an American charity organization that engaged in transactions for the benefit of terrorists and conspired with a former United States congressman to convert stolen federal funds into payments for his advocacy," Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Wainstein said.

Siljander founded the Washington-area consulting group Global Strategies Inc. after leaving the government.

The indictment says Siljander was hired by IARA in March 2004 to lobby the Senate Finance Committee in an effort to remove the charity from the panel's list of suspected terror fundraisers.

For his work, IARA paid Siljander with money that was part of U.S. government funding awarded to the charity years earlier for relief work it promised to perform in Africa, the indictment says. Under the grant agreement, IARA was supposed to return any unused funds after the relief project was wrapped up in 1999.

Instead, Siljander and three IARA officers agreed to cover up the money's origins and use it on the lobbying effort, the indictment charges.

In interviews with the FBI in December 2005 and April 2007, Siljander denied doing any lobbying work for IARA. The money, he told investigators, was merely a donation from IARA to help him write a book about Islam and Christianity, the indictment says.

In 2004, the FBI raided the Islamic American Relief Agency-USA group's headquarters and the homes of people affiliated with the group nationwide. Since then, the 20-year-old charity has been unable to raise money and its assets have been frozen.

The charity has denied the allegations that it has financed terrorism. IARA in Columbia has argued that it is a separate organization from the Islamic African Relief Agency, a Sudanese group suspected of financing al-Qaida. A federal appeals court in Washington ruled in February that there was a link between the two groups.

In an indictment handed down in March, the charity and four of its officers were charged with illegally transferring $1.4 million to Iraq from March 1991 to May 2003 — when Iraq was under various U.S. and U.N. sanctions.

The indictment also alleges that on 11 separate occasions the defendants transferred funds from the United States to Iraq through Amman, Jordan, in order to promote unlawful activity that violated Iraq sanctions.

In all, Siljander, IARA and five of its officers were charged with various counts of theft, money laundering, aiding terrorists and conspiracy.

"By bringing this case in the middle of America, we seek to make it harder for terrorists to do business halfway around the globe," said John Wood, U.S. attorney in Kansas City.

Betcha you'll never hear a peep from the right-wing noise machine or the msm, because this guy is a REPUBLICAN. Do you hear me?--a REPUBLICAN!!

And, playing on the Google turned up this piece from 1992 by Frederick Clarkson, in which he reveals Siljanders ties to both Sun Myung Moon and extreme right-wing Christian fundamentalists.

Is there anybody this God-fearing patriot doesn't have ties to? How about the petroleum industry? Oops, he's got that covered, too, if only peripherally.

NACS, The Association of Convenience and Petroleum Retailing, has an annual convention, and guess who was the featured speaker in 2007 at their interfaith prayer breakfast? Read this bio and buildup for Mr. Siljander. If you appreciate irony, you will find this positively dripping with it. Given his indictment, it's hilarious.