Flimsy Sanity: February 2008

Flimsy Sanity

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

Friday, February 29, 2008

Nader picks Running Mate

The Obama Craze, Count Me out by Matt Gonzalez former president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and Nader's vice presidential candidate. Part of his opinion piece reads:

This is a candidate who says he’s going to usher in change; that he is a different kind of politician who has the skills to get things done. He reminds us again and again that he had the foresight to oppose the war in Iraq. And he seems to have a genuine interest in lifting up the poor.

But his record suggests that he is incapable of ushering in any kind of change I’d like to see. It is one of accommodation and concession to the very political powers that we need to reign in and oppose if we are to make truly lasting advances.
Let’s start with his signature position against the Iraq war. Obama has sent mixed messages at best.

First, he opposed the war in Iraq while in the Illinois state legislature. Once he was running for US Senate though, when public opinion and support for the war was at its highest, he was quoted in the July 27, 2004 Chicago Tribune as saying, “There’s not that much difference between my position and George Bush’s position at this stage. The difference, in my mind, is who’s in a position to execute.” The Tribune went on to say that Obama, “now believes US forces must remain to stabilize the war-ravaged nation – a policy not dissimilar to the current approach of the Bush administration.”
Since taking office in January 2005 he has voted to approve every war appropriation the Republicans have put forward, totaling over $300 billion. He also voted to confirm Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State despite her complicity in the Bush Administration’s various false justifications for going to war in Iraq. Why would he vote to make one of the architects of “Operation Iraqi Liberation” the head of US foreign policy? Curiously, he lacked the courage of 13 of his colleagues who voted against her confirmation.

And though he often cites his background as a civil rights lawyer, Obama voted to reauthorize the Patriot Act in July 2005, easily the worse attack on civil liberties in the last half-century. It allows for wholesale eavesdropping on American citizens under the guise of anti-terrorism efforts.

In 2005, Obama joined Republicans in passing a law dubiously called the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) that would shut down state courts as a venue to hear many class action lawsuits. Long a desired objective of large corporations and President George Bush, Obama in effect voted to deny redress in many of the courts where these kinds of cases have the best chance of surviving corporate legal challenges. Instead, it forces them into the backlogged Republican-judge dominated federal courts.
Obama opposed single-payer bill HR676, sponsored by Congressmen Dennis Kucinich and John Conyers in 2006, although at least 75 members of Congress supported it. Single-payer works by trying to diminish the administrative costs that comprise somewhere around one-third of every health care dollar spent, by eliminating the duplicative nature of these services. The expected $300 billion in annual savings such a system would produce would go directly to cover the uninsured and expand coverage to those who already have insurance, according to Dr. Stephanie Woolhandler, an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program.

Regarding the North American Free Trade Agreement, Obama recently boasted, "I don't think NAFTA has been good for Americans, and I never have." Yet, Calvin Woodward reviewed Obama's record on NAFTA in a February 26, 2008 Associated Press article and found that comment to be misleading: "In his 2004 Senate campaign, Obama said the US should pursue more deals such as NAFTA, and argued more broadly that his opponent's call for tariffs would spark a trade war. AP reported then that the Illinois senator had spoken of enormous benefits having accrued to his state from NAFTA, while adding that he also called for more aggressive trade protections for US workers."

Putting aside campaign rhetoric, when actually given an opportunity to protect workers from unfair trade agreements, Obama cast the deciding vote against an amendment to a September 2005 Commerce Appropriations Bill, proposed by North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan, that would have prohibited US trade negotiators from weakening US laws that provide safeguards from unfair foreign trade practices. The bill would have been a vital tool to combat the outsourcing of jobs to foreign workers and would have ended a common corporate practice known as "pole-vaulting" over regulations, which allows companies doing foreign business to avoid "right to organize," "minimum wage," and other worker protections.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


East Germany's Ministry for State Security, known as the Stasi, featured probably the most comprehensive internal security operation of the Cold War. The Stasi built an astonishingly widespread network of informants -- researchers estimate that out of a population of 16 million, 400,000 people actively cooperated. The Stasi kept files on up to 6 million East German citizens -- one-third of the entire population.

The Stasi operated with broad power and remarkable attention to detail. All phone calls from the West were monitored, as was all mail. Similar surveillance was routine domestically. Every factory, social club and youth association was infiltrated; many East Germans were persuaded or blackmailed into informing on their own families.

The Stasi kept close tabs on all potential subversives. Stasi agents collected scent samples from people by wiping bits of cloth on objects they had touched. These samples were stored in airtight glass containers and special dogs were trained to track down the person's scent. The agency was authorized to conduct secret smear campaigns against anyone it judged to be a threat; this might include sending anonymous letters and making anonymous phone calls to blackmail the targeted person. Torture was an accepted method of getting information.

Stasi abuses led to protests in Leipzig that helped pave the way for the fall of the Berlin Wall. After reunification, many former Stasi agents were prosecuted. Today, any former Stasi domestic espionage officer is barred from police work in Berlin.
- CNN Cold War Special

Homeland Security is also interested in creating a good database on the citizens. Even Facebook sounds sinister if you read this organizational history. It seems so ironic that we hated repressive communism and then the enemy became us.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Pay them not to kill us

The United States is funding and in many cases arming the three ethnic factions in Iraq-the Kurds, the Shiites and the Sunni Arabs. These factions rule over partitioned patches of Iraqi territory and brutally purge rival ethnic groups from their midst. Iraq no longer exists as a unified state. It is a series of heavily armed fiefdoms run by thugs, gangs, militias, radical Islamists and warlords who are often paid wages of $300 a month by the U.S. military. Iraq is Yugoslavia before the storm. It is a caldron of weapons, lawlessness, hate and criminality that is destined to implode. And the current U.S. policy, born of desperation and defeat, means that when Iraq goes up, the U.S. military will have to scurry like rats for cover.

The U.S. is currently spending hundreds of millions of dollars to pay the monthly salaries of some 600,000 armed fighters in the three rival ethnic camps in Iraq. These fighters-Shiite, Kurd and Sunni Arab-are not only antagonistic but deeply unreliable allies. The Sunni Arab militias have replaced central government officials, including police, and taken over local administration and security in the pockets of Iraq under their control. They have no loyalty outside of their own ethnic community. Once the money runs out, or once they feel strong enough to make a thrust for power, the civil war in Iraq will accelerate with deadly speed. The tactic of money-for-peace failed in Afghanistan. The U.S. doled out funds and weapons to tribal groups in Afghanistan to buy their loyalty, but when the payments and weapons shipments ceased, the tribal groups headed back into the embrace of the Taliban.
- The Calm Before the Conflagration by Chris Hedges

Blogger Wage Laborer says all is going according to plan:
Think about it. If the Iraqis had not fought back, what reason could the US give for staying there and establishing permanent beachheads? Once the weapons were not found, the US should have gotten out.

But, the provocations to the Iraqi people, coupled with the arming of the Iraqi people, ensured that a resistance would develop, and it did. Of course, at first, the Iraqis were united against the US occupation. That changed when John Negroponte, veteran of the dirty wars in Central America in the 1980s, became ambassador, along with his partner in crime, James Steele. The US openly discussed the "Salvadorean Option".

All of a sudden, there were death squads and sectarian violence. Now we're told that we entered a civil war, and must stay to supervise it.

Everything is always about money with these folks. Bounties of one sort or another to achieve all aims.

Off topic and on the bright side for farmers, wheat is up to $25 a bushel. For years they got around $3 and subsidies. Now we dupes cannot afford gas or food and have this huge military debt to pay. Just great!

Monday, February 25, 2008

What You Won't Hear the Candidates Say

This is an essay by Ralph Nader. I don't care what you think of the man as long as you listen to what he has to say. The truth is seldom popular.

Here is a short list of what you won't hear much of from the front-runners in this presidential primary season. Call them the candidate taboos.

1) You won't hear a call for a national crackdown on the corporate crime, fraud, and abuse that have robbed trillions of dollars from workers, investors, pension holders, taxpayers and consumers. Among the reforms that won't be suggested are providing resources to prosecute executive crooks and laws to democratize corporate governance so shareholders have real power. Candidates will not shout for a payback of ill-gotten gains, to rein in executive pay, or to demand corporate sunshine laws.

2) You won’t hear a demand that workers receive a living wage instead of a minimum wage. There will be no backing for a repeal of the anti-union Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, which has blocked more than 40 million workers from forming or joining trade unions to improve wages and benefits above Wal-Mart or McDonald's levels.

3) You won’t hear for a call for a withdrawal from the WTO and NAFTA. Renegotiated trade agreements should stick to trade while labor, environmental, and consumer rights are advanced by separate treaties without being subordinated to the dictates of international commerce.

4) You won’t hear a call for our income tax system to be substantially revamped so that workers can keep more of their wages while we tax the things we like least, such as pollution, stock speculation, addictive industries, and energy guzzling technologies. Nor will you hear that corporations should be required to pay their fair share; corporate tax contributions as a percent of the overall federal revenue stream have been declining for 50 years.

5) You won’t hear a call for a single payer health system. Almost sixty years after President Truman first proposed it, we still need health insurance for everyone, a program with quality and cost controls and an emphasis on prevention. Full Medicare for everyone will save thousands of lives a year while maintaining patient choice of doctors and hospitals within a competitive private health care delivery system.

6) There is no reason to believe that the candidates will stand up to the commercial interests profiting from our current energy situation. We need a major environmental health agenda that challenges these entrenched interests with major new initiatives in solar energy, doubling motor vehicle fuel efficiency, and other quantified sustainable and clean energy technologies. Nor will there be adequate recognition that current fossil fuels are producing not just global warming, but also cancer, respiratory diseases, and geopolitical entanglements. Finally, there will be no calls for ending environmental racism that leads to more contaminated water, air, and toxic dumps in poorer neighborhoods.

7) The candidates will not demand a reduction in the military budget that devours half the federal government's operating expenditures at a time when there is no Soviet Union or other major state enemy in the world. Studies by the General Accounting Office and internal Pentagon assessments support the judgment of many retired admirals and generals that a wasteful defense weakens our country and distorts priorities at home.

8) You won't hear a consistent clarion call for electoral reform. Both parties have shamelessly engaged in gerrymandering, a process that guarantees reelection of their candidates at the expense of frustrated voters. Nor will there be serious proposals that millions of law-abiding ex-felons be allowed to vote.

Other electoral reforms should include reducing barriers to candidates, same day registration, a voter verified paper record for electronic voting, run-off voting to insure winners receive a majority vote, binding none-of-the-above choices and most important, full public financing to guarantee clean elections.

9) You won’t hear much about a failed war on drugs that costs nearly $50 billion annually. And the major candidates will not argue that addicts should be treated rather than imprisoned. Nor should observers hope for any call to repeal the "three strikes and you're out" laws that have needlessly filled our jails or to end mandatory sentencing that hamstrings our judges.

10) The candidates will ignore the diverse Israeli peace movement whose members have developed accords for a two state solution with their Palestinian and American counterparts. It is time to replace the Washington puppet show with a real Washington peace show for the security of the American, Palestinian, and Israeli people.

11) You won’t hear the candidates stand up to business interests that have backed changes to our civil justice system that restrict or close the courtroom to wrongfully injured and cheated individuals, but not to corporations. Where is the vocal campaign against fraud and injury upon innocent patients, consumers, and workers? We should make it easier for consumers to band together and defend themselves against harmful practices in the marketplace.

Voters should visit the webpages of the major party candidates. See what they say, and see what they do not say. Then email or send a letter to any or all the candidates and ask them why they are avoiding these issues. Breaking the taboos won’t start with the candidates. Maybe it can start with the voters.

See you at the camps, FS

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Excellent Site

Movies Found On Line. Lots of great documentaries.

More Thank You For Your Service

Friday, February 22, 2008

Why worry when the rapture is coming soon?

Conspiracy Theories

UFO's - 48% of people believe that UFO's visit the earth. Chances are that there are other planets with life but the nearest place that could even possibly have life is 20.5 light years away. That would be quite a trip. A light-year is defined as the distance that light will travel in a year. As the speed of light is 186,000 miles per second...

911 is a Government plot - Building 7 collapsing is mighty strange and I do admit that Bush's reaction was odd. 36 percent of Americans according to a Scripps Howard poll, believe that "it is 'very likely' or 'somewhat likely' that federal officials either participated in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or took no action to stop them."

Kennedy Assassination - Jack Ruby getting a gun close to the most infamous man of the day was too tidy.

That the atom Bomb was dropped on Japan to intimidate the Soviet Union, the Gulf of Tonkin lie, sinking the Maine to start the Spanish American war, linking Iraq to 911, the Tuskeegee Syphillis Experiment, the 1931 Puerto Rican cancer experiment are just a few accepted facts that read like some wacko conspiracy theorist's wet dream.

To me, the biggest conspiracy going on is a war on drugs - Iran Contra and pappy Bush's involvement (and pardons for the participants), CIA sales of crack (see books Dark Alliance:The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion and Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs and the Press),Clinton's Mena connections, George Bush's war on the poppy suppressing Taliban, Bush's pardons of 14 drug dealers are only a few of the clues to a secret government sanctioned industry that flourishes precisely because it is kept illegal. Like George Carlin says, "If you want to slow the drug industry, put a banker in jail" or better yet, a politician. How wonderful it must be to fund pet projects with money that is off the books. An extra benefit is that the prison industry can flourish and racial prejudice can be concealed as a law and order lie.

Free Market History in America

The first time (deregulation was instituted)was at the end of the Civil War. Up until that time, there had been a very deep mistrust of the power that corporations could accumulate if not carefully regulated. As a result, corporations were prohibited from accumulating capitalization beyond certain carefully regulated limits, and the flotation of all stock issues was tightly restricted. As a result of money made during the Civil War, some corporations and the powerful people who owned them made a great push to get the regulations lifted. Within a few years, they had succeeded, in no small part due to the corruption of the U.S. Grant administration.

The result was the first great conservative "revolution." It brought on the "Robber Baron Era." The resulting concentration of wealth and power enabled the corporations to mainatain a strangling grip on state legislatures. The essentially unregulated banking system caused a series of crippling depressions alternating with wild inflations. Capital formation had become synonymous with wealth accumulation in the true Adam Smithian sense; but it also brought with it abuse of political power that Adam Smith never foresaw and the American people were unwilling to tolerate. The situation became so grave that the American people demanded action, and Congress responded with the Anti-Trust Acts and the establishment of the Federal Reserve System. The Interstate Commerce Act curbed the power of the railroads, and court decisions broke up the chokehold that the Standard Oil Trust had on the manufacture and distribution of petroleum distillates, and the grip that Andrew Carnagie had on steel manufacturing and distribution. J.P. Morgan was forced to relinquish control of banking and securities trading (though he retained enough wealth to single-handedly bail out the New York Stock Exchange). The increasing regulation of business continued through the end of the 19th century and into the first decades of the 20th.

By the 1920's the increasing regulation of business activity spawned a reaction among the wealthy and powerful that led to the election of Herbert Hoover. Hoover's version of Newt's "revolution" declared that the "business of America is business" and set about dismantling many of the regulations that governed the banking and securities industries and the accumulation of capital. The result was the great speculation boom of the the late 20's. As in all speculative booms, the inevitable happened and the bubble burst. In October, 1929, the stock market collapsed, and a massive transfer of wealth occurred from large numbers of ordinary Americans, to a small band of bankers, investors and capitalists quite literally overnight. The result was that purchasing power in the larger economy evaporated, and those greedy capitalists came up against a very hard truth: You can't sell something to someone who has no money. A depression developed that was so deep and became so ingrained by the extreme concentration of wealth that only emergency re-regulation of the economy for the war effort of World War II, along with war taxation and governmental borrowing from that enormous capital pool was able to put purchasing power back into the economy and set it right.

So we're brought to the "golden age" of the 1950's. The era that conservatives so fondly remember was actually an era of increasing, not decreasing, government regulation as a reaction to the horrors of deregulation that brought on the Great Depression just two decades before.
Many conservatives are too young, for example, to remember the 1950's when there was essentially one national telephone company...airlines were strictly regulated as to what routes they could fly, when they could fly them, how much they could charge for passengers and freight and what types of aircraft they were to use. As a result, overbooking of flights and routine flight delays were virtually unknown, even though fares, adjusted for inflation, weren't all that much higher than now.
There was also heavy regulation of the freight forwarding industry. Every trucker had to file a tarrif with the Interstate Commerce Commission declaring his rates for hauling every single type of commodity he intended to haul. A tank trucker, for example, was not allowed to haul toxic industrial solvents or even sewage in his tanker in one direction and then load that same, unwashed tanker with food ingredients for the return trip as he may quite legally do now. And fertilizer manufacturers didn't deliberately contaminate their product with toxic waste. They didn't dare. Back then, there were laws against it.

-scott bidstrup

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Patti Smith and Ralph Nader

*&$% Sports

In so many ways, sport sucks. Cities going into debt to build new stadiums every few years and assholes like Bush screwing taxpayers to make a fortune off them. Winning teams composed of the most expensive players without native sons that might make team loyalty relevant. Schools cutting programs but keeping sports that benefit only a few while the stands are filled with bigger and bigger asses who get no exercise. As far as I am concerned, shoot all professional players up with steroids - then you can have your level playing field with all your stars who are heroes to children that think chasing a ball is the most noble thing a human can do. Congress is spending more time on this than they did deciding to attack a nation.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Thank You For Your Service

He (the soldier in the video) and his friends lured a young girl (15) into sex and "pimped" her out to others for $50 per soldier.
Quote from the video:

“We made 500 bucks before she hung herself… she was unhappy.”

A Vote for the Worker

When I was a child, the Democratic party represented workers and the Republicans represented management. Now they both love the boss and f#%k the friggin worker. I have no doubt that Clinton will be the nominee because entrenched power wants Hillary. For those people with rose colored glasses about the Clintons, (balancing a budget did not mean paying off debt) Ralph Nader can tell you a little of what the Clintons have done for you:

Inaugurated in January 1993, with a Congress controlled by the Democratic Party, Bill Clinton sent a small job-creating proposal to upgrade public facilities. He also made some motions for campaign finance reform which he promised during his campaign when running against incumbent George H.W. Bush and candidate Ross Perot.

A double withdrawal followed when the Congressional Republicans started roaring about big spending Democrats and after House Speaker Tom Foley and Senate Majority Leader, George Mitchell, told Clinton at a White House meeting to forget about legislation to diminish the power of organized money in elections.

That set the stage for how Washington politicians sized up Clinton. He was seen as devoid of modest political courage, a blurrer of differences with the Republican opposition party and anything but the decisive transforming leader he promised to be was he to win the election.

He proceeded, instead, to take credit for developments with which he had very little to do with such as the economic growth propelled by the huge technology dot.com boom.

Bragging about millions of jobs his Administration created, he neglected to note that incomes stagnated for 80% of the workers in the country and ended in 2000, under the level of 1973, adjusted for inflation.

A brainy White House assistant to Mr. Clinton told me in 1997 that the only real achievement his boss could take credit for was passage of legislation allowing 12 weeks family leave, without pay.

There are changes the Clinton Administration actively championed that further entrenched corporate power over our economy and government during the decade. He pushed through Congress the NAFTA and the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements that represented the greatest surrender in our history of local, state and national sovereignty to an autocratic, secretive system of transnational governance. This system subordinated workers, consumers and the environment to the supremacy of globalized commerce.

That was just for starters. Between 1996 and 2000, he drove legislation through Congress that concentrated more power in the hands of giant agribusiness, large telecommunications companies and the biggest jackpot—opening the doors to gigantic mergers in the financial industry. The latter so-called “financial modernization law” sowed the permissive seeds for taking vast financial risks with other peoples’ money (ie. pensioners and investors) that is now shaking the economy to recession.

The man who pulled off this demolition of regulatory experience from the lessons of the Great Depression was Clinton’s Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin, who went to work for Citigroup—the main pusher of this oligopolistic coup—just before the bill passed and made himself $40 million for a few months of consulting in that same year.

Bill Clinton’s presidential resume was full of favors for the rich and powerful. Corporate welfare subsidies, handouts and giveaways flourished, including subsidizing the Big Three Auto companies for a phony research partnership while indicating there would be no new fuel efficiency regulations while he was President.

His regulatory agencies were anesthetized. The veteran watchdog for Public Citizen of the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Sidney Wolfe, said that safety was the worst under Clinton in his twenty nine years of oversight.

The auto safety agency (NHTSA) abandoned its regulatory oath of office and became a consulting firm to the auto industry. Other agencies were similarly asleep—in job safety (OSHA) railroads, household product safety, antitrust, and corporate crime law enforcement.

By reappointing avid Republican Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve, Mr. Clinton assured no attention would be paid to the visible precursors of what is now the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Mr. Greenspan, declined to use his regulatory authority and repeatedly showed that he almost never saw a risky financial instrument he couldn’t justify.

Excoriated by the noted author and columnist, Anthony Lewis, for his dismal record on civil liberties, the man from Hope set the stage for the Bush demolition of this pillar of our democracy.

To justify his invasion of Iraq, Bush regularly referred in 2002-2003 to Clinton’s bombing of Iraq and making “regime change” explicit U.S. policy.

But it was Clinton’s insistence on UN-backed economic sanctions in contrast to just military embargos, against Iraq, during his term in office. These sanctions on civilians, a task force of leading American physicians estimated, took half a million Iraqi children’s lives.

Who can forget CBS’s Sixty Minutes correspondent Leslie Stahl’s tour through Baghdad’s denuded hospitals filled with crying, dying children? She then interviewed Mr. Clinton’s Secretary of State, Madeline Albright and asked whether these sanctions were worth it. Secretary Albright answered in the affirmative.

It’s small wonder that the editors of Fortune Magazine headlined an article last June with the title, “Who Business is Betting On?” Their answer, of course, was Hillary Clinton.


The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness - James K. Galbraith's dad

Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone. - John Maynard Keynes

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries. -Winston Churchill

How to defeat it:

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Entrapment by Homeland SSecurity

Seems many of the plots that have been foiled are just the FBI goading people on. See this and this and this.

Pretty important to have some statistics to justify a budget of over $50 Billion, not to mention the budgets of auxillary organizations. I suppose they listen for someone who is disatisfied (about 80% of the people) and then facilitate the plot. Kind of like all the people in jail for selling pot to undercover agents posing as best friends. Course fraud is ok if it is the law doing it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Citizen Spies

I was looking for the German or Russian word for the organizations in charge of the acts of turning your neighbors in to the state. I know the US one is Infragard but I remember as a child being taught the evils of Communism and how children would turn in their parents as dissenters and also how the Germans informed on each other. Anyway I thought a likely place to look is the sites that compare Bush to Hitler, so I googled it and there were only 76,000 sites which I thought seemed kind of small considering the subject. I went to Yahoo and there were 27,100,000 sites. Even Ask has over 2 million sites for Bush Hitler. Now call me paranoid, but Microsoft might want to buy Yahoo to make it more like Google. The media is pretty much all propaganda all the time, and an easy way to do the same to the internet is to control the search engines - why pass laws when the free market is the answer to all things?

As an aside, one story about Nazi Germany I ran across was about a secretary who wanted another girl's apartment so she turned her in. What is to stop the Infragard businesses from getting rid of their competition through various means? Knowledge is power - Francis Bacon

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The New Fad

Lately, I have seen all kinds of references to six word memoirs, so I can only assume that is the latest craze. I like the idea of a six word story, but not memoirs, probably explains why I hate autobiographies. If you have to be stuck listening to people talk about themselves, this at least condenses it. Anyway, this is from NPR.
Once asked to write a full story in six words, legend has it that novelist Ernest Hemingway responded: "For Sale: baby shoes, never worn."
In this spirit of simple yet profound brevity, the online magazine Smith asked readers to write the story of their own lives in a single sentence. The result is Not Quite What I Was Planning, a collection of six-word memoirs by famous and not-so-famous writers, artists and musicians. Their stories are sometimes sad, often funny — and always concise. A few:
After Harvard, had baby with crackhead.- Robin Templeton
Catholic school backfired. Sin is in!- Nikki Beland
Savior complex makes for many disappointments.- Alanna Schubach
Almost a victim of my family - Chuck Sangster
Fifteen years since last professional haircut -Dave Eggers

Saturday, February 09, 2008

George Carlin On Abortion

A lady doctor who ran an abortion clinic in Montana was on NPR a couple days ago. She talked about her harassment and how these same protesters showed up for abortions - hypocrites everywhere.

I have only compassion for someone who chooses abortion. Most people sympathize with rape and incest victims but I have nothing but pity for any woman faced with the choice. Sex is a powerful natural urge and birth control mistakes happen. Children are parasites for 20 years or more -they aren't just born and then get on their legs and go graze like Bambi. Someone, (and this is nearly always the woman) must give up their life for the child. Choices about school, a career, resources already stretched going to feed another mouth, the end of independence, a chance to contribute to humanity - many thoughts go into the decision. Everyone praises Helen Keller and she was an amazing woman, but Anne Sullivan gave up her life to make her so. What man would give up his life so that another could succeed? Your reward for this self-sacrifice will probably be resentment.

Memorial Day honors the men who gave up a few years of their life for a cause. Women give up the entire productive period of their lives and their chance to be creative humans and contribute to society so that even more humans can be added to this overcrowded earth. The Right to Lifers see it as such a simple choice, murder or life. I see things simply also - Every child should be a wanted child.

If only the Right-to-Lifers would see war as clearly.

Bush as the Gambler

Bush almost broke into song as he toured the tornado damage. Told people they had to play the hand they were dealt, so I wondered if he listened to Kenny Rogers' Gambler on the flight. He is not known for his ability to speak and I don't believe he has a long attention span, so I am guessing on the tune. Course in his life, he gets to play the dealer with a stacked deck and even then he loses. You should know when to fold 'em Georgie - impeach yourself and do the right thing.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Swiftboating McCain

This is from a major conspiracy theory radio show, so I don't know if it is actually accurate. Seems we never seem to let Viet Nam go as those who were gung ho still suffer from emasculation funk.

Viral Secret Spy Society

FBI Deputizes Business' By Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive. Posted February 8, 2008.

Today, more than 23,000 representatives of private industry are working quietly with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security...In November 2001, InfraGard had around 1,700 members. As of late January, InfraGard had 23,682 members, according to its website, www.infragard.net, which adds that "350 of our nation's Fortune 500 have a representative in InfraGard."

To join, each person must be sponsored by "an existing InfraGard member, chapter, or partner organization." The FBI then vets the applicant. On the application form, prospective members are asked which aspect of the critical infrastructure their organization deals with. These include: agriculture, banking and finance, the chemical industry, defense, energy, food, information and telecommunications, law enforcement, public health, and transportation.

InfraGard is not readily accessible to the general public. Its communications with the FBI and Homeland Security are beyond the reach of the Freedom of Information Act under the "trade secrets" exemption, its website says. And any conversation with the public or the media is supposed to be carefully rehearsed.

One of the advantages of InfraGard, according to its leading members, is that the FBI gives them a heads-up on a secure portal about any threatening information related to infrastructure disruption or terrorism.

The InfraGard website advertises this. In its list of benefits of joining InfraGard, it states: "Gain access to an FBI secure communication network complete with VPN encrypted website, webmail, listservs, message boards, and much more."
InfraGard members receive "almost daily updates" on threats "emanating from both domestic sources and overseas," Hershman says.

"We get very easy access to secure information that only goes to InfraGard members," Schneck says. "People are happy to be in the know."

“There is evidence that InfraGard may be closer to a corporate TIPS program, turning private-sector corporations—some of which may be in a position to observe the activities of millions of individual customers—into surrogate eyes and ears for the FBI,” the ACLU warned in its August 2004 report The Surveillance-Industrial Complex: How the American Government Is Conscripting Businesses and Individuals in the Construction of a Surveillance Society.

Call me paranoid but this all is pretty chilling. Neighbors spying on neighbors and communicating information would have made the inquisition much more efficient. I thought the TIPS idea died, but it just went underground. Where can I place a healthy bet on a national disaster happening before the summer is over?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Dear John Democrats,

Dear Democrats,
To everyone of you who blames Ralph Nader for the 2000 election, the least you can do is attack the right culprits. First, there may be a problem with democracy when one can win the popular vote and lose the election; maybe the Constitution needs to be updated to end the electoral college (and gerrymandering too). More importantly, thanks to the glorious Clinton years, almost a million registered Democrats voted Republican while barely any registered Republicans voted Democrat and it is estimated that over 30,000 Dems voted for Bush in Florida in 2000. It was not Nader's fault that Gore accepted voter fraud with barely a whimper. Furthermore, if you want to somehow blame Nader for the war in Iraq, remember it was he who tried to get secure cockpit doors required on commercial aircraft in the Reagan Administration.

It is simple, if you don't like Ralph Nader, don't vote for him. Don't restrict my decisions though. Make no mistake, when your party uses the word "spoiler", that word is a weapon to legitimize restrictive ballot access laws that do interfere with our only hope for real change. In Oklahoma, in the November 2004 election, voters who didn't want to vote for Bush or Kerry were not permitted to vote for president at all. No one else was on the ballot, and Oklahoma does not permit write-in votes. In 2004, Democrats filed twenty-three lawsuits against Nader to try and keep him off ballots and tie him up in court.

Anyone who is a political junkie knows that we have two parties with one playbook: who can pander most to corporate interests and sell it best to the taxpayers. Please let someone "spoil" this insanity. Anyone who goes into politics has an enormous ego, so get off screaming that Mr. Nader has one too. A wimp wouldn't stand a chance against a Bush or a Clinton machine and I like his recipe for saving this country. You silence anyone who speaks sense even within your own party. Of course, Nader does not believe he can win, but he knows that 52% of the voters are so sick of the duopoly that they don't even bother to vote.

As Nader says on his site, "Maybe the Democrats and Republicans will nominate Presidential candidates this year who will stand up against the war profiteers, the nuclear industry, the credit card industry, the corporate criminals, big oil, and the drug and health insurance industries. We’re not holding our breath."

Of course, there is this alternative: "Please don't vote for a Republican. Here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to scrawl Dennis Kucinich's name on the Diebold machine with a jumbo Sharpie pen and then set myself on fire." -vox clamantis (whoever that is).

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Why the Dems Won't Impeach

Monday, February 04, 2008

Economics Lesson

A National Intelligence Estimate on the United States by Chalmers Johnson from the January 17, 2007 issue of Harpers
During the Depression that preceded World War II, the English economist John Maynard Keynes, a liberal capitalist, proposed a form of governance that would mitigate the boom-and-bust cycles inherent in capitalist economies. To prevent the economy from contracting, a development typically accompanied by social unrest, Keynes thought the government should take on debt in order to put people back to work. Some of these deficit-financed government jobs might be socially useful, but Keynes was not averse to creating make-work tasks if necessary. During periods of prosperity, the government would cut spending and rebuild the treasury. Such countercyclical planning was called “pump-priming.”

Upon taking office in 1933, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, with the assistance of Congress, put several Keynesian measures into effect, including socialized retirement plans, minimum wages for all workers, and government-financed jobs on massive projects, including the Triborough Bridge in New York City, the Grand Coulee Dam in Washington, and the Tennessee Valley Authority, a flood-control and electric-power-generation complex covering seven states. Conservative capitalists feared that this degree of government intervention would delegitimate capitalism – which they understood as an economic system of quasi-natural laws – and shift the balance of power from the capitalist class to the working class and its unions. For these reasons, establishment figures tried to hold back countercyclical spending.

The onset of World War II, however, made possible a significantly modified form of state socialism. The exiled Polish economist Michal Kalecki attributed Germany’s success in overcoming the global Depression to a phenomenon that has come to be known as “military Keynesianism.” Government spending on arms increased manufacturing and also had a multiplier effect on general consumer spending by raising worker incomes. Both of these points are in accordance with general Keynesian doctrine. In addition, the enlargement of standing armies absorbed many workers, often young males with few skills and less education. The military thus becomes an employer of last resort, like Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps, but on a much larger scale.

The prosperity of the United States came increasingly to depend upon the construction and continual maintenance of a vast war machine, and so military supremacy and economic security became increasingly intertwined in the minds of voters. No one wanted to turn off the pump.

Even when all these things are included, Enron-style accounting makes it hard to obtain an accurate understanding of U.S. dependency on military spending. In 2005, the Government Accountability Office reported to Congress that “neither DOD nor Congress can reliably know how much the war is costing” or “details on how the appropriated funds are being spent.” Indeed, the GAO found that, lacking a reliable method for tracking military costs, the Army had taken to simply inserting into its accounts figures that matched the available budget. Such actions seem absurd in terms of military logic. But they are perfectly logical responses to the requirements of military Keynesianism, which places its emphasis not on the demand for defense but rather on the available supply of money.
The more likely check on presidential power, and on U.S. military ambition, will be the economic failure that is the inevitable consequence of military Keynesianism. Traditional Keynesianism is a stable two-part system composed of deficit spending in bad times and debt payment in good times. Military Keynesianism is an unstable one-part system. With no political check, debt accrues until it reaches a crisis point.

The other big employer is the prison industry. The U.S. incarceration rate of 750 adults per 100,000 population is the world's highest. The average rate globally is 166 per 100,000 persons.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

When is there enough crime to put impeachment on the table

Thursday's Daily Show episode Signing Statement Controversy pretty well says it. There is nothing Bush can do that will make the Dems get a backbone. No wonder Cheney and Nancy smile at each other at the State of the Union speech. Even if impeachment proceedings would not be successful, at least they would divert Bush's attention enough to slow his meglomaniacal insanity.

There is talk in the air that Ralph Nader is again thinking of running. Of course he stands no chance except it gives the people that are sick of both parties a chance to vote for the best candidate, not to just gamble on a corpopuppet most likely to win. The Dems think Nader lost them the election, but they are arrogant to think those votes would have gone to them. If any of those bitching Democrats would read the things Nader writes (and I do believe he composes them himself rather than using speech writers) they would apologize for the unwarranted names they call him. One thing I have noticed about humans: they all like to "kiss up and kick down". Same reason the Mexicans will be blamed for our economic woes.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Reality Check

Before the Dot Com Bubble collapsed, I was talking with a Republican (yes, it happens) and I told her that the market was insane because the companies were selling nothing. To exemplify my point, I said, even if you take a rock and sing its praises and raise the price sky high, it is still a rock and eventually that fact will come to light. She disagreed and said that if people wanted the rock, supply and demand set the price.

When Reagan came to power, his philosophy was "Don't worry be happy." We all know how this actor (a job that makes illusion look like reality) is a God to the Republicans. They think that if we just stay optimistic, things will be fine. I think that deluding yourself can only last so long and eventually the facts become so obvious even Pollyanna might say, "we are so screwed".

We are told that the housing bubble collapse is due to poor risk people, but they are a small part. Nearly everyone with a recent mortgage is making payments for something that is worth a lot less than their mortgage and since many of them bought the house as a speculation (like a day trader) they are dumping them now. Add unemployment (thank you Clinton for destroying our manufacturing), the devalued dollar, no savings (thank you for the low interest rates that made the housing bubble possible and every idiot a gambler on Wall Street), a couple stupid wars (including expensive mercenaries), government spending gone wild in the name of fighting terrorism, too many folks getting rich like Romney (hedge funds, breaking up companies and selling off parts, etc.), a 9 trillion dollar debt (and many of our lenders nervous about the dollar depreciating), a crumbling infrastructure, banks that aren't solvent, I could go on.

I listened to the Republican debates held at Reagan's library and they still are spouting the bullshit that the free market will solve our problems. I just want to rap their skull and say, "Is anything up there?" They might be as big as an elephant, but even an elephant can only stand so much disease before it will die.