Flimsy Sanity: September 2005

Flimsy Sanity

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. - Friedrich Nietzsche

Friday, September 30, 2005

Friends help friends

From the Daily Kos

Every few weeks, the Bush administration trumpets the killing or capturing of another #2 person in the Al Qaida operation. Bush did it again Wednesday morning.

Except that they can't all be the #2 person, and media people are finally starting to realize that such claims are simply lies. Better late than never.

Was it Jesus or the Crystal Meth

This was an interesting chapter 2 to the story.

Passion of Delay

Check this out and say a prayer for Delay.

It amazes me

I was helping my 80 year old neighbor with her rummage sale last weekend. She was telling me about some woman who went on a mission to New Zealand. Anyway my neighbor was under the impression that New Zealand was some backward, primitive place in need of our cast-offs. It always amazes me how arrogant Americans are about their status in the world and how little they know of the rest of the world. Whenever anyone says "this is the best country in the world" I always say, "I don't know, I haven't lived in any others" and they look at me like I should be hung as a traitor.

As far as missionaries go, I'm sure they are as welcome wherever they go as the Jehovah Witness and Mormon missionaries are to me.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

By Charley Reese

09/26/05 -- -- John Perkins' book "Confessions of an
Economic Hit Man" explains American foreign policy
better than any of the academic tomes you might read
on the subject.

In a nutshell, the game is played this way: People
like Perkins work for consulting firms, and their job
is to entice a foreign head of state to go deeply in
debt. They do this by greatly exaggerating the
economic returns on big projects such as dams and
electrification systems.

The payoff comes in two ways. The foreign country
hires American contractors to build the systems, and
they make big profits. Then, mired in debt, the head
of state will do what the United States government
tells him to do. If he proves too independent or too
honest to accept bribes, then he will be removed from
power, either in a coup or in an accident.

Yes, I know that sounds more like the Mafia than the
great and good government of the United States, which
wants only to spread peace, prosperity and democracy
around the world. Read the book and decide for
yourself. The publisher is Berrett-Koehler Publishers

I believe Perkins is telling the truth, because I have
observed through the years that the United States
hates any honest nationalist leader. Let some guy try
to benefit his own people instead of catering to
multinational corporations, and the U.S. government
and the propaganda machine will crank up and paint him
as a villain. After the American people have been
sufficiently indoctrinated, the poor guy won't be
around much longer.

We did that to Mohammed Mossadegh, a democratically
elected nationalist who thought Iran's oil should
benefit Iranians. We painted him as a communist, and
the CIA engineered a coup that replaced him with the
Shah. In case you're curious, that's why so many
Iranians hate us. We did it to a Guatemalan patriot,
Jacobo Arbenz, when he tried to implement land reform
and thus ran afoul of the United Fruit Co., which
orchestrated the campaign that led to his overthrow by
the U.S. Omar Torrijos, a Panamanian reformer, and
Jaime Roldos, president of Ecuador who locked horns
with big oil companies, both died in planes that

On the other hand, the ruthless and corrupt killers
who play the game our way get rewarded with more loans
and more aid. I know this sounds leftist and even, God
forbid, liberal, but the more you get to know our
government, the less you will think it's all sweetness
and light. People fear the U.S. with good reason. We
talk about spreading democracy, but what we do is
extend empire and make war.

If you count the Cold War, we have been at war almost
continuously. There was Korea, Vietnam, the invasion
of Lebanon, the invasions of Panama and Grenada, the
bombings of Serbia and Libya, our little misadventure
in Somalia and two wars with Iraq, and now that the
Cold War is over, we have replaced it with an endless
war on terrorism. Sprinkled in between all of these
overt wars are numerous covert operations.

It isn't, after all, a capital crime for a foreign
leader to be a socialist or to believe in land reform
or to try to stop oil companies from defiling his
country or cheating it out of a proper return. I've
often thought old Saddam Hussein cut his own throat
when he made a speech to the other Arab leaders saying
they should not invest their petrodollars in the West
but should instead invest them in the Arab world.
Bankers in London and New York don't like to hear that
kind of talk. We don't mind thugs and killers, but we
despise a nationalist. The very idea of denying us the
use of their dollars is, well, sacrilegious from an
imperial point of view.

We were a great and much-loved country when we were a
republic. Since we've become an empire, we're hardly
loved at all and, in fact, are hated by many people in
the world. Unless we find a way to return to our
republican roots, we will go the way of all empires -
simultaneously accumulating enemies and bankrupting
ourselves in an eventually futile attempt to defeat

At any rate, read Perkins' book. Like a real hit man,
he got wealthy and then ratted out his former

© 2005 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Monday, September 26, 2005

This site is so great

This site is a wonderful way to refresh your book collection. Send a book to someone wishing to read it and get a credit for a book you want. Free (so far)except for postage and cheaper than the used book store. I wish I could buy stock.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

How to profit from pain

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now interviews Nation editor Naomi Klein
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah. There are two key documents that people should really take a look at. We're going to have them up on The Nation website and I'm sure we can have them up on Democracy Now! as well. There's two documents. They come from the same people, and they're connected. The first one comes from the Republican Study Group, which is the caucus of Republican lawmakers in Congress, headed by Mike Pence. It is called the “Pro Free Market Ideas for Responding to Hurricane Katrina and High Gas Prices.” It comes out of a meeting that took place at the Heritage Foundation on September 15th, where people from the Heritage Foundation and other right-wing think tanks got together with the Republican Study Group members, and they brainstormed thirty-two policy demands to package in as hurricane relief. And we have already seen several-- this is why I think it should be taken extremely seriously, is that the first of the demands is automatically suspending Davis-Beacon prevailing wage laws in disaster areas.

So it's pretty clear that the people making this list have a direct line to President Bush. Because that's already been adopted by presidential decree. The second is to make the entire affected area “flat tax-free enterprise zone”. This is Bush's “Gulf Opportunity Zone” idea, making the whole region a sort of “Club Med” for corporations to have every tax break they have ever dreamed of. But it goes on. This is where we, I think, need to get ready.

They use the excuse of Katrina to talk about everything from opening up drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge to subsidizing -- this is an incredible, incredible one of their demands -- they want to subsidize oil exploration, saying that the corporations won't fund this themselves. And then there's things that we have heard about like they don't want money to be going directly to public schools for displaced children who are affected by the hurricane. They want it to go into school vouchers. This is already happening.

So it’s a transfer of wealth from the public realm, a huge transfer of wealth from the public realm into private hands. So you have this on the one hand. They issued this on September 13. It's already being adopted into law on several levels. And then they come up with another document that actually just came out yesterday, which is the Republican Study Committee's ideas of how to pay for all of these corporate subsidies that they have demanded.

They say, “look, we cannot do this -- we cannot pay for so-called “hurricane relief,” and it has very little or nothing to do with the families that were affected by the hurricane; in fact, it's going to hurt those families.) They say, “the only way we can afford this is if we make some radical cuts to the budget.” They issue another document, the “RSC Budget Options for 2005”, which says “here's where we are going to make the cuts”. Once again, you have the radical re-victimization of the very people who the money was intended for.

Their demands are things like: suspend Medicaid's prescription drug coverage. But more than that, you know, I mentioned the thing that got me was -- I mentioned the fact that they're demanding subsidization for Big Oil for exploration that they won't pay for. In this other document where they talk about how they're going to find the money for all of this corporate welfare, they say that they should cut all programs, all federal research programs, into sustainable energy sources. So, here you have the issue that's really at the core of this disaster, which is global warming and fossil fuels. They're subsidizing big oil and cutting funding to any alternative energy source research

Thursday, September 22, 2005

A quote

Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone – Keynes

Gas is supposed to go up to $3

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A couple old quotes

As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working on the prejudices of the people until wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war.”
--Abraham Lincoln

“Yes, as through this world I’ve wandered,
I’ve seen lots of funny men,
Some will rob you with a six gun,
And some with a fountain pen.”

--Woody Guthrie

Third Party?

I'm disgusted by the Republicans and disappointed in the Democrats. Third parties historically can make a difference. Following is an old essay I found interesting.

Third-party votes count for plenty
by Ed Quillen

Political conversations this fall often include the observation that "We need a third party."

In the Mountain West, the most reliably Republican part of America, the reply is often "Third party? Wouldn't it make more sense to start by having a second party?"

Soon comes a practical admonition that unless you cast a ballot for a major-party candidate, "You're throwing your vote away."

To be sure, there aren't many Greens or Libertarians holding public office. But Minnesota citizens weren't throwing away their votes in 1998 when they made a governor out of Jesse Ventura, then of the Reform Party, and for the past decade, Vermont ballots have counted for Rep. Bernie Sanders, who is neither a Republican nor Democrat.

In a republic with thousands of elected officials, though, these off-brand politicians could be dismissed as mere aberrations whose occasional triumphs don't address the real question: "Are you throwing away your ballot when you vote for a third-party candidate who can't win?"

Third parties usually rise when there are important issues that the two major parties have avoided. We can start with the Republicans, the most successful such effort.

In 1854, when the GOP was founded in the Midwest, America was basically divided between the Whigs, who favored a strong central government that would build canals and railroads to develop a nation devoted to trade and manufacture, and the Democrats, who supported an agrarian commonwealth with weak government at all levels.

Neither party wanted to address the divisive issue of slavery and its expansion into territory taken from Mexico in 1848. They avoided the topic, since taking either side would alienate potential supporters in North or South.

Thus it fell to a new party, the Republicans, to oppose expanding slavery to the territories. And that put the issue squarely on the national agenda.

Consider the 1890s. Farmers saw their potential profits swallowed by railroads and commodity speculators. Miners were getting $2.50 for a 12-hour day of back-breaking labor. Only the financiers seemed to be enjoying the benefits of American expansion, and yet the Republican and Democratic platforms addressed only trifling matters like the tariff.

Enter the Populists, a third party of farmers and workers in the South and West who wanted things like federal support of farm prices and farm credit, regulation of railroads and other monopolies, direct election of U.S. senators and a graduated income tax.

Their presidential candidate, Gen. James B. Weaver, carried Colorado, Idaho, Iowa and Nevada in 1892. Populists elected a governor in Colorado, sent representatives to Washington, and got working majorities in some statehouses.

Yet by 1910, the Populist Party existed in name only. Were those votes and struggles wasted? Or did you notice that most of the Populist platform eventually became law because the two major parties had been forced to address those issues, from Republican Theodore Roosevelt's Square Deal through Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal?

In more recent times, there was Alabama Gov. George Wallace's American Independent Party in 1968. He got only 46 electoral votes, all from the Old Confederacy, and he was known mostly for opposing racial integration.

But the Wallace phenomenon made the two major parties aware of the power of the Red, White & Blue bloc (red neck, white trash, blue collar), and that faction (pretty much my own socio-economic group) has held a seat at the national table ever since.

For proof, note that it has been 32 years since Wallace was a player, and then observe how the two major candidates emphasize their down-home peckerwood heritage. And look at how they address their campaigns to "decent, hard-working American families" while avoiding any public effort to appeal to groups that Wallace characterized as "pointy-headed professors."

True, you've got a better chance of winning the lottery than of seeing Ralph Nader, Harry Browne or Pat Buchanan getting sworn in next January.

But you might think it's important for American citizens, rather than a three-judge panel in Switzerland, to make the rules for commerce in this country. Or it may trouble you that America leads the world in prison population while conducting an expensive and unwinnable War on Drugs that has shredded the Bill of Rights. Or your main concern may be one of the scores of other important issues that the major parties pretty much ignore, from public-lands management to improving the public health.

In which case, history shows that your vote for a candidate who shares your views isn't "wasted." Instead, it's like the proverbial two-by-four applied to a balky mule - it's the only way to get their attention when they persist in ignoring things that matter.

Ed Quillen is a contributor to Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News (www.hcn.org). He lives in Salida, Colorado, where he helps publish Colorado Central magazine.

Cannibal joke

Did you hear about the cannibal who passed his uncle in the woods?

The Bush Credo

In the deregulated market, profits are privatized and losses are socialized.--Greg Palast

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Thursday, September 15, 2005

Why Incompetents Rule

An article I was reading had a link to a study about how intelligent people are unsure of themselves and incompetents are confident of their ability. This study explains so much. In that same vein, I also ran across an article about hiring practices and the writer talked about how his nephew (in charge of personnel) rejected all the applicants that didn't exude confidence..."What Jay wants to see is if the writer sounds confident. It's the single most important quality an employer desires in an applicant. The next round will test that, and the actual qualifications, but it's confidence that opens the door in the first place."
Aesop said "The smaller the mind the greater the conceit".
Is this why we are stuck with rather stupid leaders instead of the rise of the best and the brightest? That ability won't even get you in the door? There are many articles on anti-intellectualism in America, but might this also be an explanation of why the valedictorian fails and the sports star succeeds?

Genealogy or maybe all history.

You are working on your family genealogy and for sake of example, let's say that your great-great uncle, Remus Starr, a fellow lacking in character, was hanged for horse stealing and train robbery in Montana in 1889.

A cousin has supplied you with the only known photograph of Remus, showing him standing on the gallows. On the back of the picture are the words:

"Remus Starr: Horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison, 1885. Escaped 1887, robbed the Montana Flyer six times. Caught by Pinkerton detectives, convicted and hanged, 1889."

Pretty grim situation, right? But let's revise things a bit. We simply crop the picture, scan in an enlarged image and edit it with image processing software so that all that is seen is a head shot.

Next, we rewrite the text:

"Remus Starr was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory. His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad.

Beginning in 1885, he devoted several years of his life to service at a government facility, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his honor when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed.

You Might be a Nerd If

... choosing to buy flowers for your girlfriend or
upgrading your RAM is a moral dilemma.

... you take a cruise so you can go on a personal
tour of the engine room.

... in college you thought Spring Break was metal
fatigue failure.

... the sales people at the local computer store
can't answer any of your questions

... at an air show you know how fast the skydivers
are falling.

... you bought your wife a new CD-ROM drive for her

... you can quote scenes from any Monty Python movie.

... you can type 70 words per minute but can't read
your own handwriting.

... you comment to your wife that her straight hair
is nice and parallel.

... you sit backwards on the Disneyland rides to see
how they do the special effects.

... you have saved every power cord from all your
broken appliances.

... you have more friends on the Internet than in real

... you know what http:// stands for.

... you look forward to Christmas so you can put the
kids' toys together.

... you see a good design and still have to change it.

... you spent more on your calculator than you did on
your wedding ring.

... you still own a slide rule and know how to use it.

... you think that people yawning around you are sleep

... you window shop at Radio Shack

... your laptop computer costs more than your car.

... your wife hasn't the foggiest idea of what you do at

... you've already calculated how much you make per second.

... you've tried to repair a $5 radio.

Written by Steve Almond in 2003

Conservatism – Unreconstructed White Male Rage.
What you need to understand about the conservative movement in this country is that it is predicated on fostering the values of angry white men. Those values can be summed up quite simply:
Fuck faggots, dykes, niggers, kikes, spics, chinks, tree-huggers, and, above all, poor people. Fuck you for calling attention to our privileged greed. Fuck you for attempting to awaken our desiccated mercy and for threatening to deliver us into the jaws of class warfare. Fuck you for daring to suggest that the government should play any role in aiding the disenfranchised. Fuck you for opposing the obscene concentration of wealth in our hands, and for suggesting that our relentless hogging of the world’s resources is anything other than our God given right. And, while we’re on the subject, fuck you for suggesting that Christ’s Sermon on the Mount had anything to do with the meek inheriting the earth, or loving the downtrodden. Fuck you for holding us to a standard of compassion that died within us long ago.
If you listen to any of the hate-mongers on AM radio, or the barking fat mouths on Fox TV, this is more or less what you’ll hear, day after day, an uninterrupted river a rage.
And it may occur to you at some point to ask a very simple question: why so angry? This is the same conservative movement that managed to steal the White House in the last Presidential election, with an assist from the Supreme Court. Their candidate lost by half a million votes, but has still managed to push through virtually every major policy aim, from massive tax cuts for the rich to environmental rollbacks. They’ve fucked the state and local budgets for schools and social programs and launched one war after another, on behalf of big business. They have the Democrats kowtowing to their every whim.
Shouldn’t they be happy?
What I’m suggesting here is that we are best to view the rage of the right not with bafflement, but with suspicion.
The truth is that conservatives live in a constant state of terror and guilt-denial – an internal, unconscious state. They know precisely what they’re doing, just like any greedy bully does. And they know how shameful their behavior is, and, more so, how shameful their feelings of hatred and bigotry are. This is the party, after all, that supported McCarthyism, that opposed civil rights, that has attempted to assail women’s rights, that fomented the genocides of Laos and Cambodia and East Timor and Chile and El Salvador, that has happily treated the developing world like a toilet. It is a party for and by the rich, the white rich, the white, angry rich.
And they will never be happy because they will never feel safe. They have chosen to live in a state of perpetual fear, that the masses of this country, or other countries, will eventually rise up and hold them accountable for their blubbering greed. (Hello 9/11)
Us liberals will never be able to muster the brutality required to put these psychos in their place, because we’re simply not pissed off enough, because we’re simply not psychologically damaged enough. And it is for this reason that we find ourselves in such a curious situation, with a minority party (Dems outnumber Republicans by a wide margin) running the show, and inflicting on this country policies that most Americans don’t support. It’s a little like how the South managed to fuck over Reconstruction – they didn’t have the numbers, but they had the pure thuggish hatred on their side.
You can look at the recent political history of this country and see this pattern borne out over and over: in the jihad conservatives launched against Clinton, which crippled his efficacy, in the 2002 election theft, in the steady and not even subtle coddling of the super rich (did someone say “death tax”) and, most of all, in the ideological neutering of the democratic party.
These simpering clowns running for the nomination are going to get their asses kicked sideways, because they simply haven’t the moral courage (or the moral track record) to stand up to the bully, to call Bush out on his white male rage, to question why his entire administrative agenda can be summed up in two words: Kill Towelhead! Or why he lied about going to war. Or why his vice prez got the contract to rebuild the country we bombed into rubble. So that’s why a former coke-sniffing frat boy is running our country into the ground (Bye bye surplus! Bye bye wilderness!) and why his minions are still staging their little electronic klan rallies on a daily basis.
And what’s most pathetic of all is how quietly we’re letting it happen, this great country, with all its wealth and potential for compassion, with all its grand rhetoric of All Men Are Created Equal, with everything we might do to lead not by having more, but by caring enough. We actually have the power to save the world, to save our souls, and instead we’re buying Hummers and talking about whether the Bachelorette gives good head.
If I wasn’t so furious, I’d be crying.
(Note: While cleaning out things I've saved in the past, I thought I'd use my blog as storage of things too good to throw)

Homer Simpson quotes

"Lisa, if you don't like your job you don't go on strike. You go in every day and do it half ass. That's the American way."

"Kill my boss? Do I dare live out the American dream?"

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Psychological Beating of a great man

Paul Robeson was the epitome of the 20th-century Renaissance man. He was an exceptional athlete, actor, singer, cultural scholar, author, and political activist. His talents made him a revered man of his time, yet his radical political beliefs all but erased him from popular history......At the height of his popularity, Robeson was a national symbol and a cultural leader in the war against fascism abroad and racism at home. He was admired and befriended by both the general public and prominent personalities, including Eleanor Roosevelt, W.E.B. Du Bois, Joe Louis, Pablo Neruda, Lena Horne, and Harry Truman. While his varied talents and his outspoken defense of civil liberties brought him many admirers, it also made him enemies among conservatives trying to maintain the status quo.

During the 1940s, Robeson's black nationalist and anti-colonialist activities brought him to the attention of Senator Joseph McCarthy. Despite his contributions as an entertainer to the Allied forces during World War II, Robeson was singled out as a major threat to American democracy. Every attempt was made to silence and discredit him, and in 1950 the persecution reached a climax when his passport was revoked. He could no longer travel abroad to perform, and his career was stifled. Of this time, Lloyd Brown, a writer and long-time colleague of Robeson, states: "Paul Robeson was the most persecuted, the most ostracized, the most condemned black man in America, then or ever."

It was eight years before his passport was reinstated. A weary and triumphant Robeson began again to travel and give concerts in England and Australia. But the years of hardship had taken their toll. After several bouts of depression, he was admitted to a hospital in London, where he was administered continued shock treatments. When Robeson returned to the United States in 1963, he was misdiagnosed several times and treated for a variety of physical and psychological problems. Realizing that he was no longer the powerful singer or agile orator of his prime, he decided to step out of the public eye. He retired to Philadelphia and lived in self-imposed seclusion until his death in 1976.

To this day, Paul Robeson's many accomplishments remain obscured by the propaganda of those who tirelessly dogged him throughout his life. His role in the history of civil rights and as a spokesperson for the oppressed of other nations remains relatively unknown.
From PBS Masters Series

Joke from the New Yorker

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Lightbulb joke

How many Republicans does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

Twelve to investigate Clinton's involvement in the failure of the old bulb, twenty-three to deregulate the light bulb industry, sixteen to cut funding for alternative lighting R&D, thirty-four to cut the tax rate on light bulbs, fifty-three to design a block grant so the states can change the bulb, forty-one to talk with defense contractors about night-vision gear instead, and two hundred and eighty-three to pass a law making it illegal to discuss naked bulbs (or screwing anything) on the Internet.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Rehnquist's Drug Habit

The Rehnquist story deserves a third airing today if only to illustrate the ugly double standards that excuse extreme drug use by the powerful, especially if their connection is a prescribing doctor, and condemns to draconian prison terms the guy who purchases his drugs on the street. Slate article

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Rumors or fact

As I write this, however, it is becoming clear that many of the stories of post-disaster Hobbesian carnage were little more than rumor. “I live in the N.O. area and got back into my house on Saturday,” one resident wrote to Harry Shearer's website. “We know that the looting was blown out of proportion and that much of it was just people getting food and water, or batteries and other emergency supplies. That is not to say that some actual looting did not go on. There was, indeed, some of that. But it was pretty isolated. As was the shooting and other violence in the streets.” Harper Article

Making the rounds

Let the vultures descend

"Halliburton's stock hit a fifty-two-week high, presumably because Dick Cheney's former colleagues may reap the benefits of this tragedy securing government contracts to rebuild the Gulf Coast " Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel as Navy hires Halliburton to do repairs.

Get your EBay bid in

ER physician who told Cheney off gets visit from Gestapo. Selling video on EBay....the guy needs the money so why not?

Friday, September 09, 2005

Conspiracy Anyone?

Baghdad on the Bayou Scenes of loss and hope from America’s Lost Coast by BEN EHRENREICH.

Black folks are saying the levee was blown to run poor people off expensive real estate. Strange times.

Private Contractors and FEMA

The Bush administration also has made significant changes to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), shifting funds away from pre-disaster preparation and implementing policies to promote outsourcing of relief efforts to private companies.

In the summer of 2004, reported the Independent Weekly, FEMA denied Louisiana funding for pre-disaster preparation. Such funding has traditionally paid for items like generators and other necessities for dealing with a storm’s aftermath. Meanwhile, FEMA workers had been warning that the emphasis on cutting costs and farming out tasks to private contractors had the potential to slow response times in emergency situations.
Feds Ignored Catastrophe Predictions, Diverted Funds by Jessica Azulay One of the things she says is that FEMA is slow because of reorganization. Should we expect to see a scramble of Bush contributors profiting from this mess? Tried to find out more about the private contractor who will handle the dead, but so far, nothing....not even a name. Is this why volunteers are being turned away? You'd think I was I.F. Stone or a midwest Columbo!!!

FEMA Follies

Harvard Economist View

In this essay Jeffrey Frankel claims the Democrats and Republicans have traded philosophies.

What a Libertarian is saying

To fill an administration with one's cronies and party hacks sounds so Breazhnev-era USSR. I was going to compare it to Stalin's Soviet Union, but that's not fair, because Stalin actually made underlings pay the price for failure.

Texas Republican speech

September 8, 2005

Why We Fight

A case can be made that if this war does not end soon it will spread and engulf the entire region. We’ve already been warned that war against Iran is an option that remains on the table for reasons no more reliable than those given for the pre-emptive strike against Iraq. Let me give you a few reasons why this war in Iraq should not be fought.

It is not in our national interest. On the contrary, pursuing this war endangers our security, increases the chances of a domestic terrorist attack, weakens our defenses, and motivates our enemies to join together in opposition to our domineering presence around the world. Does anyone believe that Russia, China, and Iran will give us free reign over the entire Middle East and its oil? Tragically, we’re setting the stage for a much bigger conflict. It’s possible that this war could evolve into something much worse than Vietnam.

This war has never been declared. It’s not a constitutional war, and without a proper beginning there can be no proper ending. The vagueness instills doubts in all Americans, both supporters and non-supporters, as to what will be accomplished. Supporters of the war want total victory, which is not achievable with a vague mission. Now the majority of Americans are demanding an end to this dragged-out war that many fear will spread before it’s over.

It’s virtually impossible to beat a determined guerrilla resistance to a foreign occupying force. After 30 years the Vietnam guerillas, following unbelievable suffering, succeeded in forcing all foreign troops from their homeland. History shows that Iraqi Muslims have always been determined to resist any foreign power on their soil. We ignored that history and learned nothing from Vietnam. How many lives, theirs and ours, are worth losing to prove the tenacity of guerilla fighters supported by a large number of local citizens?

Those who argue that it’s legitimate to protect “our oil” someday must realize that it’s not our oil, no matter how strong and sophisticated our military is. We know the war so far has played havoc with oil prices, and the market continues to discount problems in the region for years to come. No end is in sight regarding the uncertainty of Middle East oil production caused by this conflict.

So far our policies inadvertently have encouraged the development of an Islamic state, with Iranian-allied Shiites in charge. This has led to Iranian support for the insurgents, and has placed Iran in a position of becoming the true victor in this war as its alliance with Iraq grows. This could place Iran and its allies in the enviable position of becoming the oil powerhouse in the region, if not the world, once it has control over the oil fields near Basra.

This unintended alliance with Iran, plus the benefit to Osama bin Laden’s recruiting efforts, will in the end increase the danger to Israel by rallying the Arab and Muslim people against us.

From a anti-war speech given yesterday by a Texas Republican (although most people say he only joined the Republican party to win election - he is really a Libertarian).

Why isn't this in the news?

I am curious how people can think the media has a liberal bias when this is not all over the papers.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

How does an Ugly Woman fit?

You think looters would be scared of an ugly woman?

Faith Based

In addition to the Robertson "Operation Blessing" troops planning to "assist" hurricane victims, the Scientologists are also rushing down there. Remember their tactics after 9-11 when they got their phone number listed on TV for aid to disaster workers. They opened a clinic in Lower Manhattan that offered treatment for WTC workers exposed to toxins through the cleanup but the "detoxification" treatment was exposed as quackery and Scientology volunteers were eventually asked to leave Ground Zero.

Many cults try to influence potential new converts by stressing them and disasters are perfect. It will be interesting to see just what groups use this horrible situation to advance their agendas.

I believe that in his heart, Bush thinks that government has less right to be involved than these faith-based charities.

Weasel words and Bullshit Bingo

Tired of all those blowbags trying to hide their true purpose. Here for your pleasure is Bullshit Bingo ("Do you keep falling asleep in meetings and seminars? What about those long and boring conference calls? Here is a way to change all of that") and the entertaining Weasel Words.

Bunny Huggers Most Dangerous

According to this CNN article the FBI is going to concentrate more on lefty environmental groups rather than righty terrorist types. Part of Homeland Security's well thought out priorities, I suppose.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Try to be inconspicuous

When you are in deep, deep trouble, say nothing, and try to look inconspicuous. (Got this in an email today - good advice, I think.)

Coastal Living

I live in the middle of the country and my state (and the neighboring states) constantly try to lure people and businesses to their states. No one seems to want to live in remote areas and our little towns are dying fast. Seems the coastal towns have just the opposite problem - that of too many people.

The Rich People Morality

As the "Estate Tax" is debated, one gets to wondering how much rich people money is even banked here in the US. I know this is old, but Bill Moyers had this to say in 2001:
We have also been reminded that despite years of scandals and political corruption, despite the stream of stories of personal greed and pirates in Gucci's scamming the treasury, despite the retreat from the public sphere and the turn toward private privilege, despite squalor for the poor and gated communities for the rich, we have been reminded that the great mass of Americans have not yet given up on the idea of 'We, the People.' And they have refused to accept the notion, promoted so diligently by our friends at the Heritage Foundation and by Grover Norquist and his right-wing ilk, that government-the public service- should be shrunk to a size where they can drown it in the bathtub (that's what Norquist said is their goal.) These right-wingers at Heritage and elsewhere, by the way, earlier this year teamed up with the deep-pocket bankers who finance them, to stop the United States from cracking down on terrorist money havens. As TIME Magazine reports, thirty industrial nations were ready to tighten the screws on offshore financial centers whose banks have the potential to hide and often help launder billions of dollars for drug cartels, global crime syndicates-and groups like Osama bin Laden's Al-Quaeda organization. Not all off-shore money is linked to crime or terrorism; much of it comes from wealthy people who are hiding money to avoid taxation. And right-wingers believe in nothing if not in avoiding taxation. So they and the bankers' lobbyists went to work to stop the American government from participating in the crackdown on dirty money, arguing that closing down tax havens in effect leads to higher taxes on the poor people trying to hide their money. I am not kidding; it's all on the record. The president of the Heritage Foundation spent an hour, according to the New York Times, with Treasury Secretary O'Neill, and Texas bankers pulled their strings at the White House, and presto, the Bush administration folded and pulled out of the international campaign against tax havens.

How about that for patriotism? Better terrorists get their dirty money than tax cheaters be prevented from hiding their money. And that from people who wrap themselves in the flag and sing the Star Spangled Banner with gusto. These true believers in the god of the market would leave us to the ruthless cruelty of unfettered monopolistic capital where even the law of the jungle breaks down.

This Isn't the Speech I Expected to Give Today...
Keynote Address by Bill Moyers
Environmental Grantmakers Association, Brainerd, MN
October 16, 2001

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Environmental Heresies

Environmental Heresies was written by Stewart Brand - yes that Stewart Brand that many of us admired for editing the Whole Earth Catalog and Coevolution Quarterly publications. In it, he says the population explosion is nonexistent, that nuclear power is the way to go and that genetically modified foods are a big fuss over nothing. Since I have always admired Mr. Brand and his works, I try not to let my preconceived beliefs hamper my ability to see the other side, but I am flabbergasted.

Maybe it is a too cheap shot, but from a brief blurb I got the following: Brand joined Peter Schwartz, Jay Ogilvy, Napier Collyns, and Lawrence Wilkinson in 1988 to found the Global Business Network. He founded and ran the "GBN Book Club" from 1988 to 2000. GBN explores global futures and business strategy for 90 multinational giants such as Ford, Bechtel, Shell, Morgan Stanley, Hewlett Packard, Swedbank, Dupont, Federal Express, along with government clients such as DARPA. Many of GBN's scenario techniques can be found in the book The Art of the Long View. He still spends a quarter of his time working for GBN.

A Couple quotes from George Carlin

Many people in this country want to expand the death penalty to include drug dealers. This is really stupid. Drug dealers aren't afraid to die. They're already killin' each other by the hundreds every day. Drive-bys, turf wars, gang killings. They're not afraid to die. The death penalty means very little unless you use it on people who are afraid to die. Like the bankers who launder the drug money. Forget dealers. If you want to slow down the drug traffic, you have to start executing some of these white, middle class Republican bankers. And I don't mean soft American execution like lethal injection. - Napalm and Silly Putty

I'm sure looters don't call it looting. They probably think of it as extreme shopping. - Napalm and Silly Putty

Monday, September 05, 2005

Reread "We're Not in Lake Wobegon Anymore"

I know this is old, but Garrison Keillor's Republican Party description needs repeating.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

In case you were thinking of giving to Operation Blessing

I found this on the blog Static Brain on a post about Robertson.
Robertson's net worth is between $200 million and $1 billion USD according to the 2002 book The Best Democracy Money Can Buy by Greg Palast. Through his ostensibly charitable organization, Operation Blessing International, Robertson claims to have spent $1.2 million bringing aid to refugees in Rwanda. His critics, such as Palast, claim the money was actually spent to bring heavy equipment for Robertson's African Development Corporation, a diamond mining operation. He has purchased thoroughbred race horses, although he has stated on many occasions he is opposed to gambling. Robertson claims he bought the horses because he is "amazed by their athleticism".

War Crime

Friday, September 02, 2005

Gas Prices

When I went to college, we were required to take a basic Economics course. I don't remember anything (I short term learned so I could pass the tests) but I remember the book was fat and the subject complex. We are told the cause of gas prices is nothing but the most simple economic principle taught to fourth graders - nothing more than supply and demand. However from recent general reading I know that US energy policy was determined by the energy providers (in secret meetings), that two oil men are at the top US positions (known for slippery financial dealings like insider trading and moving Halliburton business offshore to avoid taxes), and that gas prices rose rapidly rather than gradually as they would have if a shortage developed. (Except for the hurricane's impact) Man I wished I would have stayed alert for the section on manipulating markets.

I am well aware that other countries pay more for gas, but that is because they add huge taxes onto gas prices. Our price increase is not any benefit for our country. Just not very patriotic to my mind, even if you do wear a flag pin on your lapel.


Mental and behavioural disorders due to cannabinoids, cocaine, hallucinogens, opiods, sedatives and hypnotics, and volatile solvents killed 1,789 people. Those due to alcohol killed 32,622. Nationmaster has statistics and graphs about the entire world - NationMaster is a vast compilation of data from such sources as the CIA World Factbook, United Nations, World Health Organization, World Bank, World Resources Institute, UNESCO, UNICEF and OECD. Great fodder for your next debate, I added it to my Reference Favorites. (p.s. I don't really understand what mental and behavioural disorders means and why they will kill you, but whatever - who cares if you are vague as long as you can quote some statistic.)

A Beautiful Mind

"Why should we hear about body bags and deaths? It's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?" - Former First Lady Barbara Bush Even though this is 2 year old news I just heard it now. Someone should send her a yellow ribbon car magnet - the rich don't care about us poor people, but they should at least fake it.

Why Iraq is not like World War II

Vineyard Views Blog disputes Bush's opinion that Iraq is like World War II. Bush does live in a fantasy world.

Anonymous Rescuer entry from Boing Boing

I'm back in Baton Rouge, this time with all of my team. Sadly, we've had to pull out of New Orleans for now because things have gotten too dangerous.
Who would have thought that in a country like ours. not some third world place, mind you, that there would be massive amounts of people trying to inflict harm on the very people that are putting their own lives on hold to help other. It's unreal what we're seeing. The criminal looters (if that's even a strong enough word for them) have been shooting at the helicopters that are the only hope that the city has right now of saving more lives and thereby preventing many more deaths. I can tell you that there isn't a single member of the two teams I'm with that aren't ready to go back in, shooting and all, but the fear is from the higher-ups who can't risk losing the helicopters and the boats. I can't believe it Jon. people of roof tops and in attics will die tonight because sub-human thugs are shooting at the only people who can help anyone right now.

Your friend is normally right to question money that the Red Cross spends to supports itself. Right now, though, they are the only game in town. Give to them and give generously. Word is that the money they get in the next month will go directly to the shelters here in the south so that those running the shelters can buy food and water NOW. They get funds out faster than any other agency and RIGHT NOW is what matters.

If your friend is just really dead-set against giving to them, the Salvation Army is the next best thing. When you donate to them you can designate that you want the money to go to Katrina's victims. There will be much small charities that do really good work popping up in the coming weeks and months but the people down here need money now.

When things settle a bit and I can look into the smaller charities, I'll do some good research and let you know. For now, just give. give to anyone who will take it.

There are people here in Baton Rouge just handing over cash to the shelter operators and walking cash over to the office that New Orleans' mayor is working from while he can't be in his own city.

The news is on right now. Some of the team members are watching coverage for the first time since Sunday night. They're pretty fucking pissed off.

They haven't realized the lack of control that the big emergency operations people are dealing with. They follow orders of the local guys and just do the best they can to save people, save people, save people.

They are only just now seeing that once they risk their necks to save people, the next level of the system isn't in place yet and that the people have to start a whole new struggle to stay alive. Morale is getting low. These guys are tired; they've been working no-stop since we got here. They have mandatory rest breaks, but you don't really rest during them; you're too busy sharing stories and just looking around in disbelief. I can't tell you how many of these guys just come over to me at any given time that they're not in a boat or in the air, put their arms around me and cry.

There have been times on this journey I have hated being here because I can't be doing what these guys are doing, what I used to do, what I dreamed of and loved for so long. But that's not the feeling I have when I sit up against a cement wall, in filthy water, and a guy I've known for years cuddles up in me and sobs. I know that's not the way the public may want to think about their rescuers and their heroes, but that's how it is.

Swinging an axe and breaking into an attic to see if there's anyone there to save and finding a dead family of four instead will bring tears to even the most stoic of people.

Spare Beds for Homeless

Move On is heading a search for people to put up the homeless created by the hurricane.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Keeping the Peace

This account of a few teens appearance at a Rick Santorum book signing is interesting. Dissent WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.

Lest you think I have a criminal mind

Sometimes I post about disliking police and you might think I am not law abiding. Actually rebellion is not in my nature. When the teacher left the room, I stayed quiet and in my seat. I have never posed a danger to another human being in my whole life.

My beef is that cops are mostly bullies rather than peacemakers (peace officers) and that they administer two kinds of justice - one for the poor slob driving a rust bucket and another for the landed gentry in a Lexus, two kinds of interrogation, two kinds of trial testimony. In the case of protests, they seldom try and defuse volatile situations but are quick to use their choke hold training and tear gas. On Cops they know they are being filmed and they still are assholes and gang up on people - imagine what they are like when they think they are not being filmed (like Rodney King). Too many are also corrupt. TV gives us continual images of brave, honest, intelligent officers. Such bullshit that I feel I have to do my part to expose the truth. If you are bored, scroll down on the Bad Cop No Donut site and just read a few examples. 43 cases for August 29 alone - and these are the ones that get publicity not the bulk of the iceburg that stays hidden.

A little truth now

Bush should stop saying he owes it all to Laura. The reality is that he owes his success to daddy, daddy's friends, legacy admissions, the National Guard, the Supreme Court, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, and AA. -Bill Maher

A quote to ponder

Behind every great fortune there is a crime.Honore de Balzac

The Bush money was made laundering funds for the Nazis

The Kennedy money stemmed from family patriarch Joe Kennedy's organized crime ties dating back to his bootlegging days.

Cheney as the head of Halliburton engineered deals with Iraq while the sanctions were in place.

How many rich people could stand any scrutiny?

Name calling

The right has lots of names for those that don't think like them: moonbat has 544,000 google entries, idiotarian has 604,000, feminazi has 35,600. What would be a cutsy term for sociopath - someone or some organization who is only interested in their personal needs and desires, without concern for the effects of their behavior on others; someone who has no empathy for victims? We could use the new word to tease the corporate labor and environmental abusers, to chide commentators who equate torture with fraternity pranks, to pester police who are brutal, to kid people who arrest or shoot you mistakenly as a terrorist, etc.

There's More Than One Kind of Cowboy

After the election, a 79-year old Bush supporter from Ohio said:
People say George Bush is a cowboy. Well, what's a cowboy but a guy in a white hat, getting things done for the downtrodden? People say he shoots quick. Well, listen, sometimes you have to do that, you have to be decisive.

Even though I am not a fan of westerns, one of my favorite movies is High Noon . If Bush is a cowboy, is he a Will Kane or a Frank Miller? Is he protecting or exploiting the town? The movie is recognized as an allegory for the times.
The film's story has often been interpreted as a morality play or parable, or as a metaphor for the threatened Hollywood blacklisted artists (one of whom was screenwriter Foreman) who faced political persecution from the HUAC during the McCarthy era due to actual or imagined connections to the Communist Party, and made life-altering decisions to stand their ground and defend moral principles according to their consciences.
It also has been interpreted as an allegory of the Cold War and US foreign policy during the Korean War. This taut, tightly-scripted, minimalist film tells the tale of a solitary, stoic, honor-bound marshal/hero, past his prime and already retired, who was left desolate and abandoned by the Hadleyville townspeople he had faithfully protected for many years (symbolically - during the World War II years). Due to the townspeople's cowardice (representing cooperative witnesses before the HUAC), physical inability, self-interest, expediency, and indecisiveness, he is refused help at every turn against a revenge-seeking killer and his gang. Fearful but duty-bound, he eventually vanquishes the enemy, thereby sparing the civilized (democratic) town the encroachment of barbaristic frontier justice brought by the deadly four-man group of outlaws (symbolic of the aggressive threat in the Korean War, or the HUAC itself). Embittered by film's end, he tosses his tin star into the dirt of the dishonorable frontier town.
[Director Howard Hawks and actor John Wayne both responded to the liberal preachiness of this 'un-American' film (and its cowardly townspeople) by creating a no-nonsense, right-wing rebuttal in Rio Bravo (1959).]
The above section precedes a synopsis of the film.

I contend that if Bush were a good cowboy, people's welfare would come before corporation largesse - he would save the ranch herd rather than open the gate for the rustlers. If Bush were a brave cowboy he wouldn't have scurried around hiding after 9-11 but would have rushed to take the lead (not to mention the deputy hiding in a bunker). If Bush were a kind cowboy the strain of sending young men to die would show on his face and infiltrate his conversation. If Bush cared about the town he would make it a better place for the next generation, not extract all he could for his gang.

The Unteachable Ignorance

The Unteachable Ignorance... by Jane Smiley

Here is how ignorance works: First, they put the fear of God into you—if you don't believe in the literal word of the Bible, you will burn in hell. Of course, the literal word of the Bible is tremendously contradictory, and so you must abdicate all critical thinking, and accept a simple but logical system of belief that is dangerous to question. A corollary to this point is that they make sure you understand that Satan resides in the toils and snares of complex thought and so it is best not try it.

Next, they tell you that you are the best of a bad lot (humans, that is) and that as bad as you are, if you stick with them, you are among the chosen. This is flattering and reassuring, and also encourages you to imagine the terrible fates of those you envy and resent. American politicians ALWAYS operate by a similar sort of flattery, and so Americans are never induced to question themselves. That's what happened to Jimmy Carter—he asked Americans to take responsibility for their profligate ways, and promptly lost to Ronald Reagan, who told them once again that they could do anything they wanted. The history of the last four years shows that red state types, above all, do not want to be told what to do—they prefer to be ignorant. As a result, they are virtually unteachable.

Third, and most important, when life grows difficult or fearsome, they (politicians, preachers, pundits) encourage you to cling to your ignorance with even more fervor. But by this time you don't need much encouragement—you've put all your eggs into the ignorance basket, and really, some kind of miraculous fruition (preferably accompanied by the torment of your enemies, and the ignorant always have plenty of enemies) is your only hope. If you are sufficiently ignorant, you won't even know how dangerous your policies are until they have destroyed you, and then you can always blame others.

The reason the Democrats have lost five of the last seven presidential elections is simple: A generation ago, the big capitalists, who have no morals, as we know, decided to make use of the religious right in their class war against the middle class and against the regulations that were protecting those whom they considered to be their rightful prey—workers and consumers. The architects of this strategy knew perfectly well that they were exploiting, among other unsavory qualities, a long American habit of virulent racism, but they did it anyway, and we see the outcome now—Cheney is the capitalist arm and Bush is the religious arm. They know no boundaries or rules. They are predatory and resentful, amoral, avaricious, and arrogant. Lots of Americans like and admire them because lots of Americans, even those who don't share those same qualities, don't know which end is up. http://slate.msn.com/id/2109218/

Factoid from Slate article

The United States ranks 14th out of 15 industrialized countries in per capita education spending.