The Selling of America
We don't hear the term much anymore now that most everybody from that generation sold out long ago.
But these days, Americans are selling out on a grand scale. We're not just selling out personally. We're selling out the entire country.
Common Dreams has a great post today about multinational corporations buying more and more of America. It's not just a matter of pride. Profits that American businesses once put back into the American economy are now being outsourced to foreign countries, just like many of our jobs:
Foreign companies are buying up our water systems, our power generating systems, our mines, and our few remaining factories. All because "flat world" so-called "free trade" policies have turned us from a nation of wealthy producers into a nation of indebted consumers, leaving the world awash in dollars that are most easily used to buy off big chunks of America.
The post includes a long list of US government statistics showing the percentages of foreign ownership of American industries. Here are the industries where foreign ownership is 50% or more:
- Sound recording industries - 97%
- Commodity contracts dealing and brokerage - 79%
- Motion picture and sound recording industries - 75%
- Metal ore mining - 65%
- Motion picture and video industries - 64%
- Wineries and distilleries - 64%
- Database, directory, and other publishers - 63%
- Book publishers - 63%
- Cement, concrete, lime, and gypsum product - 62%
- Engine, turbine and power transmission equipment - 57%
- Rubber product - 53%
- Nonmetallic mineral product manufacturing - 53%
- Plastics and rubber products manufacturing - 52%
- Plastics product - 51%
- Other insurance related activities - 51%
- Boiler, tank, and shipping container - 50%
Is this just the logical extension of the free enterprise system on a global scale, beneficial to us all? Or is it the shameless selling of America, for the enrichment of a few?
Armed with 'Christian Patriot Missiles'
Howdy Doody Ok, boys and girls. If a teacher so much as mentions evolution, or the Big Bang, or an era when dinosaurs ruled the Earth, you put your hand up and you say, Excuse me, were you there? Can you remember that?
Peanut Gallery Yeeeesssss...
Howdy Doody Sometimes people will answer, No, but you weren't there either. Then you say, No, I wasn't, but I know someone who was, and I have his book about the history of the world. [Waving the Bible in the air] Who's the only one who's always been there?
Peanut Gallery God!
Howdy Doody Who's the only one who knows everything?
Peanut Gallery Goooooddd!
Howdy Doody "So who should you always trust, God or the scientists?"
Peanut Gallery Goooooddd!
But it wasn't a nightmare. It was creationism evangelist Ken Ham, a former biology teacher and current full-time nutjob, training children as young as five years old to challenge their teachers about evolution.
Ham is no ordinary nutjob. He's been at this kind of thing for 25 years. His worldwide ministry gives hundreds of talks a year and produces books, movies, and daily radio spots. No wonder roughly half of Americans believe the biblical story of creationism over evolution.
At the heart of this multi-million-dollar creationism extravaganza is a very simple message, stated below in his top-selling alphabet rhyme that begins like this:
A is for Adam, God made him from dust
He wasn't a monkey, he looked just like us.
Hard to argue with a mindset like that.
Posts can involve personal stories, graphics, photography- and there are no requirements for the number of posts. We just ask that you let us know about it at LTN and perhaps a topic so you can be included in the list. Participants will be listed at Lose The Noose blog monday morning. Blognonymous will be among the participating blogs as well, with a few posts this week. Thank you to Kvatch for lending me the keys to the "digs" this week and to Abi - for agreeing to play in the pond despite the cold water.
Rehabilitating Big Brother
Nobody objects to a cop or a security guard keeping an eye on things. But when you replace the human eye with a camera, civil libertarians howl.
Chicago has used surveillance cameras at government buildings, train stations, and intersections for a few years. Milwaukee wants to put surveillance cameras in some stores, and Baltimore County, Maryland, requires large malls to install cameras in parking lots. Said Baltimore County Councilman Kevin Kamenetz:
We require shopping centers to put railings on stairs and install sprinkler systems for public safety. This is a proper next step.
But is it just a benign and necessary step for keeping us safer and more secure, or is it the proverbial slippery slope?
In Houston, the police chief wants to take it a step further — requiring cameras not only in streets and shopping malls, but in apartment complexes and on the grounds of private homes. The chief gave the classic justification:
I know a lot of people are concerned about Big Brother, but my response to that is, if you are not doing anything wrong, why should you worry about it?
Ok, pointing a camera at my front door to watch my comings and goings is a little creepy. But what's wrong with putting cameras in more public places — anywhere you would expect to see a cop stationed?
And why stop with cameras? It's now possible to implant tiny, inexpensive transmitter chips into a person to identify him or track his whereabouts. Is that also creepy, or just good, 21st-century common sense?
Police use fingerprints and DNA to determine if a person was at a crime scene. No one objects. Why not go a step further? Instead of using part of a criminal's body as evidence against him, police would simply be using a piece of technology implanted into his body.
The idea of implanting chips into people to identify and track them is chilling. But after seeing the abuses that the Bush administration has gotten away with in the name of safety and security, I have no doubt that the practice will someday become acceptable and routine.
And besides, if you're not doing anything wrong, why worry about it?
Oil companies posted record profits in the third quarter of last year: For example, ExxonMobil - 75%, Royal Dutch Shell - 68%, and ConocoPhillips - 89%. That's profit.
The oil companies' good fortune just happened to come about in the same quarter that two powerful hurricanes devastated the Gulf Coast. In America, one man's loss is another man's windfall.
Americans paying dearly at the pump raised cries of price gouging. Outraged Washington politicians demanded that oil company executives appear before a Senate hearing to explain themselves. The Senators placed the corporate bigwigs under oath and grilled them for three hours, until the remorseful moguls tearfully apologized for taking advantage of a national calamity.
Ok, I made the last part up. In fact, the Senate never even bothered to put the execs under oath. And at the end of the sham hearing, it was the Senators who limped away with their tail between their legs:
[T]he executives, whose companies and parent corporations earned $32.8 billion during the last quarter, provided little beyond what the industry has been saying for weeks: Their profits are huge because the industry is huge; the companies are ready to invest billions of dollars to get more oil; and if Congress tries to punish them by imposing a windfall profits tax, it will only lead to fewer such investments.
But not every Washington pol is afraid of the big, bad oil companies. Last week, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Republican Joe Barton, launched an investigation of a major oil company for possible antitrust violations:
You will be surprised to learn that Barton, one of the top recipients in Congress of campaign donations from the energy industry, is not probing whether ExxonMobil or Chevron or any of the other oil giants engaged in price gouging when gasoline and heating oil costs skyrocketed the past few years.
No, the good congressman has set his sights on the only oil company that actually dared to lower its prices last year - at least for the poorest Americans.
After Hurricane Katrina shined a spotlight on poverty in America, Hugo Chavez pledged that Venezuela-owned Citgo would provide huge heating-oil discounts — as much as 60% — to low-income Americans this winter.
The program is already in effect in a number of northern states, although it has received very little publicity. It has been so successful, says Democratic Rep. Jose Serrano of New York, that "about 60 members of Congress from all parts of the country...are asking me, 'Can I set up a meeting with Citgo?' to see if they can get this kind of program in their district."
Lowering prices when demand is high? How unAmerican is that? No wonder Pat Robertson wants Chavez killed.
Note: For the next few days I'll be wading in the frog pond with Lily while Kvatch is resting up. And let me tell you — for us non-amphibians, this water is ccccold. So be kind...
Democratic Talking Points - Republicans Rig Elections
By now we all know that California Sec. of State McPherson has recertified Diebold's touchscreen voting machines for upcoming elections, a unilateral, possibly illegal move taken without public comment and without waiting for the results of Federal tests that were his reason for decertifying the machines in the first place.
Add to this the fact that Black Box Voting now has the goods on voting irregularities in Palm Beach County, Florida during the 2004 presidential election--Votes date-stamped from October (sometimes up to a month before the election); Votes date-stamped with the year 2010; 1400+ voting-machine resets and recalibrations, executed while the polls were open; Voting program accesses; Log tampering; And on and on...
So it seems we have another simple talking point to add to the Democrat's list for the midterms: Republicans rig elections.
Future Headlines - Republicans Repeal 22nd Amendment
In other words, be careful what you wish for.
Please Welcome Abi To Blognonymous
The "Ownership Society" Means Foreclosure For Many
The N.Y. Times reports on the alarming rate of foreclosure among the nation's poor. Some areas, such as Cuyahoga County, Ohio are seeing 17 percent foreclosure rates largely due to the prevalence of subprime and balloon mortgages where interest rates jump steeply after only a few years. And crippling lending practices aren't limited to the poor and minorities. The mortgage industry is an equal opportunity predator making available all kinds of risky options.
Take the interest-only loan for example, or as we refer to it here at Blognonymous rent with property taxes. This type of financing is tailor-made for people inclined to buy beyond their means and makes up 50% of the loans taken out in frothy urban markets such as the San Francisco Bay Area. Like subprime mortgages, interest-only loans have rates that climb alarmingly after only a few years, putting enormous financial stress on the buyer especially if they've contributed nothing to their principal.
But now the chicken's is comin' home to roost--As the real estate market cools we see the beginnings of another enormous redistribution of wealth in the Bu$hCo era. Banks and lending companies foreclose, taking down-payments, principals, and homes from unlucky minority and urban buyers, and wealth moves once again from the poor and middle-class to the corporations. Of course, no one forces a buyer to buy or to choose a predatory lending instrument, but likewise Bu$hCo has done nothing to regulate these practices because 1) The hot real estate market has propped up the economy for 4 years, and 2) The administration knows who fills it's campaign coffers. I'll give you a hint, it isn't the poor, minorities, or middle-class voters.
Iraq - Nope, No Civil War Here
This is one of those horrific moments where I get to say,
"I told you so" and then immediately feel bad about it.
It's getting bloodier. 138 Sunni's dead in reprisals; Many mosques in the Sunni Triangle, attacked; The Sunni have suspended talks with the Shiite and Kurds, the goal of which would have been a unification government.
I give it two months before the Kurds break off and seal their borders.
And BTW...go and read Robot Buddha's excellent post on the subject.
Whither the Big Brass Blog
Tamiflu and drugs for you,
Organ pumps, other dumps
Keep my posts off their host.
They need a system, I do fear...
I'm losing half my traffic here.
All Hail the Scalitoson Court
So instead of complaining, maybe we should capitalize. The key is state's rights. Alito is a state's righter, and the plain fact is that no constitutional amendment is going to pass if the blue states don't want it to. ERA didn't, and a Federal gay marriage ban won't either. So I think its time we held the Republican's shoulders to the grindstone of state's rights until they bleed.
California, Michigan hit back at the Feds over medical marijuana. And California, time to counter-sue on the off-shore drilling issue. Get the Scalitoson Court to retire those federal leases permanently.
Oregon won their test case on assisted suicide. So how about the rest of us? Anybody for shoving death with dignity down Bu$hCo's throat?
Air quality standards? Time for a SCOTUS ruling that permanently unchains California and the northeast corridor from burdensome federal meddling. Let CA, NY, MA, NH, NJ, and VT do what they do best, lead the way on air quality.
Federal gay marriage ban? Not for Massachusetts or Hawaii, and it's high time for the rest of us to add full, unequivocal equal protection under the law into our own constitutions.
Family and Medical Leave Act? Pass it in your own state, right frickin' now, and let the red-staters wail loud when Scalitoson takes the federal law away.
Clean water? Forget it. Bu$hCo and Scalitoson don't give a sh*t. So pass it in your own states and let them choke on sludge.
Time to see if conservatives (and especially Alito) can live up to their so-called principles.
Reclassification - What's It For?
I'm not going to cover this issue here. Many blogs are hashing out the ramifications, but what I want to know is why? Reclassification is an expensive process, and even once it's done many of these documents are in the public domain already. Finding them, controlling them, or destroying them will be virtually impossible. So, again...why?
I can think of two possible reasons. The paranoid consipiracist in me might see an attempt to smear some good people by catching them with newly reclassified information, but that's probably far fetched. More likely I think, is an administration attempt to do away with information that could be used as a basis for challenging Bu$hCo's unilateral attempt to grab as much power for the executive as possible.
Patriot Guard Riders Challenge Phelps and Westboro Baptist
Well now a group of motorcyclists known as the Patriot Guard Riders is traveling the country with the specific purpose of confronting Phelps and his cabal, shielding soldier's families, and providing a loud, visible counterpoint to Westboro protesters. So the question you might ask is, "Would the Riders have shown up at...say...Matthew Shepard's funeral? And if not, why are you highlighting their cause on your blog?"
My answer to that would be: No, I don't believe that the Riders would do the same for a murdered homosexual. But as a motorcyclist myself (bet you didn't know frog's could ride, did you?), I know what kind of commitment is involved in riding 400 miles in wintertime just to confront a bunch of wackos. In addition, though I don't agree with the war, protesting at a dead soldier's funeral is just plain disrespectful. And finally, I applaud anybody who stands up to the pernicious, corrosive rhetoric of a group of loathsome charlatans like Fred Phelps and his followers.
You'll Never Catch Me Coppers
Yo...Osama. You can't scare the little kiddies if they know that Baba Yaga is dead.
Serious Presidential Questions
But Windspike of Educational Whisper has the real question: Who's your favorite President and why? Just like those essays back in school. Think about it, and give him a response.
My response was Harry Truman.
Food For Thought - Arms Exports
(Linked from the National Priorities Project, with permission.)
Are we ready for an atheist as President?
But what about an atheist? Atheists are perhaps the most underrepresented quasi-religious segment of the electorate, and why? Discrimination, though not overt. Americans simply prefer to elect the god-fearing over the godless. As the Chronicle notes:
You can be elected as an openly gay politician in this country, but you can't be elected as an openly atheistic one...Now, I'm an agnostic, but I'd put myself in the same group. In fact, I'd venture that a Muslim has a greater chance of being elected President in this country than an avowed atheist or agnostic. What do the rest of you think?
Lori Lipman Brown, Lobbyist, Secular Coalition
A Plague On All Acronyms In TUS
Went for a talk with the SCOTUS.
Said he... I'm inhibited.
My powers? Too limited.
Now git about changing the COTUS.
Dept. of Homeland Security, Porn Enforcement Division
On February 9th they walked into the library and announced that viewing porn is "forbidden" and then tried to escort one of the library's patrons outside because they didn't like his choice of reading material.
Don't you feel safer knowing that you're being protected from terrorists in our midst, especially dirty-minded terrorists?
He Said What? - Surveillance Taken To A Whole New Level
I wish I could make this sh*t up, but reality is way more bizarre then even my frog brain can come up with. So now, as a homework assignment, everyone needs to go out and get a copy of Oath of Fealty by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, a great SciFi novel from the late seventies that covers this exact scenario in detail.
The Difference Between Coastal America and Central America
After a week in which Cheney shoots a man; Has his staff delay and spin the incident to reduce the fallout; Limits his interview on the subject to a network that's barely more than a right-wing shill; Gets a public apology from his victim; The one man less deserving of praise than perhaps any other member of the administration goes home to...A standing ovation from his home state's legislature.
I shudder to think of the reaction Cheney would have gotten here.
Please Welcome Lily To Blognonymous
10, Soon To Be Illegal Songs, From The flyPod
I recently blogged on how the RIAA wants to substitute Customary Historic Use for Fair Use, and in doing so prevent us from ever using a new technology with music we already own. But not content with that salvo, Big Content is going after technologies and methods that have been legal up until now. The EFF reports that the RIAA is now laying the legal groundwork to declare ripping, burning, and transfer of music you do own to your iPod illegal.
So without further adieu, here a random selection of 10, soon to be illegal songs, from my iPod, and if history is any teacher, I'll soon be sued by the RIAA for a bazillion dollar for ripping my personal CD collection:
Toad the Wet Sprocket - "Pray Your Gods", Fear
Philip Glass - "Anthem - Part 3", Powaqqatsi
Pink Floyd - "Welcome To The Machine", Wish You Were Here
Willie Mae "Big Moma" Thornton - "Laugh, Laugh, Laugh", Hound Dog - The Peacock Recordings
Miles Davis - "Dear Old Stockholm", 'Round About Midnight
Mylene Farmer - "California', Anamorphosee
Alanis Morisette - "Right Through You", Jagged Little Pill
U2 - "Last Night On Earth", Pop
The Future Sound of London - "Expander", Accelerator
Sade - "Paradise", Stronger Than Pride
Spineless Lawmakers Cave on Warrantless Surveillance
First up the Senate yesterday decided not to investigate the NSA wiretapping authorization. And what prompted this reversal? According to WaPo merely the Bu$hCo's signaling that it wouldn't make key witnesses available for testimony. But that's not all. Apparently, the Senate is also going to take up the issue of gutting FISA in order to give administration actions legitimacy after the fact, courtesy of Mike DeWine (R. OH).
Next, the House announces that will open it's own probe, and not to be outdone in cravenness by their Senate colleagues, Peter Hoekstra (R. MI) the Intelligence Committee chair, insisted that the probe would be, "...limited in scope, focusing on whether federal surveillance laws needed to be changed and not on the eavesdropping program itself."
So with the exception of one Federal judge that insisted that information about the program be released, the other branches of government are rushing to abdicate their responsibilities. The executive will break the law. The Justice Department will seek out and try the whistle-blowers. The legislative will cover for the executive, and unlike Watergate, this will all happen in full view of the public.
This is what our nation has been reduced to.
HT to Mikevotes at BATCotE for the head's up on the Senate's dropping the ball.
Promoting Democracy in Iran With Diebold
Does this remind anyone of our recent $2 million investment in getting Fatah reelected in the Palestinian Territories? And we all recall how well that went. So maybe with Iran we should consider something a bit different. How about shipping them 10,000 or so Diebold voting machines?
"Sons of the Prophet! Arnold Schwarzenegger has been elected Supreme Head of the Clerical Council?!"
The Postman Always Sees 'Em First
But have you ever had a movie just go missing and then, 3 maybe 4 days later, suddenly disappear from your rental list as if it had been returned. What about the movie that shows up late in a torn package. You say to yourself, "Well, they ship hundreds of thousands of these things per day. The USPS is bound to screw a few up." Right?
WRONG!!!! Read this from New York Magazine, A Stranger In Your Queue
Why Blame It All On Cheney?
According to the White House, in its updated timeline, Bush found out that Cheney was the triggerman about 8 p.m. Saturday (from Karl Rove)—and yet in all of the accounts, many conflicting, of how the story emerged the next day, the president is never mentioned as having any role in the disclosure.
The ranch hostess/chief witness Katharine Armstrong first told us that she and her mother made the decision to go public of their own “volition, ” as she put, on Sunday morning, leading to the now-famous phone call to the Corpus Christi newsroom. Later she said that she had run the idea past Cheney on Sunday morning and he approved it, or at least said it was up to her.
Now the official narrative is that he discussed it with her Saturday night and they directed the disclosure “together.”
Note in all this: no mention of the president. What we seem to know for certain is that his press secretary was not told about Cheney’s role until 6 a.m. on Sunday.
In other words, if we accept the White House version of events, Bush was informed about 8 p.m. Saturday—and did not inform his press secretary until the next morning, did not talk to his vice president, in fact, did not seem to have any input on telling or holding the story.
So why isn’t Bush getting hammered for that? Why is so much of the focus on Cheney? The president of the United States, in this version, heard about his veep shooting a man in the face and chest and did not direct him or anyone else to report this to the nation? In fact, based on her original quotes, we might assume that we would have never heard about it at all if Katharine Armstrong had not tipped off the local reporter.
Here are just a couple of off the cuff, on the fly theories about why Preznit Dimwit isn't being questioned harder about this incident and his non-role in it -- for one, you'd have to have a real press corps for that, one that would ask real questions and demand real answers (kind of the exact opposite of what Fox News has been doing for the past five-plus years). For two, you'd have to believe that George Bush really is the Man In Charge, and not just some cheap ventriloquist's dummy with a certain VP's hand up his ass. Gee, folks, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but...
In related news... is it possible that there may have been alcohol involved in this explosive mishap?!? Heaven forfend!!
What If Whittington Dies?
What if Harry Whittington dies? Will the veep be charged with manslaughter?
(Ok...ok, I've got an observation as well.)
I'm not a hunter, but it seems to me that one could apply a simple rule: If the gun is parallel to the ground, don't pull the trigger!
The Cheney Silence To Be Broken...
With speculation, spin, and thoughts
On why his aim is not so hot,
Which he'll discuss today on FOX.
Interview will be on a Special Report with Bret Hume, recorded at 2:00p and broadcast at 6:00p EST.
Secure Flight Suspended For Being Insecure
Secure Flight, for those of you who don't follow the daily twists of the Transportation Safety administration, is the government's attempt to take over "no-fly" checks (from the airlines) and to gather enough information so that every single flying passenger can be accurately assessed. But after being upbraided for gathering personal information that they weren't allowed to have, auditors found that TSA's system could be...hacked!
If you need a better bead on my opinion of intrusive government databases, their usefulness, and their dangers, read this or this, but suffice to say TSA might want to stick to guidance and leave the actual checks to the airlines.
Right now there is a bit of noise by some of the members of the Preznit's own party about the NSA flap, and about the response to Hurricane Katrina, but you can bet that in the end it will all turn out to be nothing but smoke and bluster. He'll skate. They'll all skate. There will be some concerned tut-tutting, a few very stern harrumphs, and then it'll be business as usual again. Keep moving, people, nothing to see here.
As for Deadeye Dick, he can shoot a guy, not report the incident for a day, clam up about it when questioned and then ultimately shrug his shoulders and say, "What?" The press and the law and the American people will all reply, "Uh... nothing." And that will be that.
(And now the Designated Decoy has suffered a heart attack -- hearing that, the Veep just grinned and said, "Laugh it off, pal, that's how I handle 'em." Maybe if Chickenhawk Cheney had ever served in the military, he'd know how to handle a gun... just a thought.)
It gets so frustrating seeing these guys blatantly breaking the law and getting away with it. My personal outrage meter has been running in the red for so long I don't know what just plain old anger feels like. The hubris, the arrogance, the impunity with which they operate is staggering; and the fact that so many millions of Americans aren't upset by their actions -- defend them, even! -- is the most frustrating of all.
If George Bush were to attack and rape an elderly nun on the steps of the Capitol building, in full view of Congress, the press and the public, there would be a huge outcry among these people, and it would sound like this: "What is that horrible woman doing to our beloved president?!?"
The Day The Floor Drops Out From Under Big Oil
To hear Bu$hCo tell the story, the US can't adhere to any set emissions limits because of the disastrous economic consequences. Translated, Bush means the disastrous consequences for Big Oil. In addition, though Bush mentioned our appetite for fossil fuels (especially foreign oil) in the SotU, he really has no intention of doing anything about it, as demonstrated by three facts:
- The amount of money spent on developing alternative energy sources by the Feds during the Bush administration is practically nothing ($10B), and the announced 22% increase to nothing is still nothing.
- Though they got worried about it later on, the Republican House passed a huge tax cut for Big Oil that then reaped the benefit in the form of record profits.
- The N.Y. Times reports today that Bu$hCo is going to allow Big Oil to pump another $65B worth from Federal lands over the next 5 years and will do nothing to the royalty system that allows Big Oil to essentially do it for free.
Consider... At the height of the California energy crisis, consumers voluntarily cut back their consumption by 14% in the space of a month--that's ONE MONTH--and then held it there.
Now imagine if America as a whole tires of the administration's rhetoric and begins to cut back on it's own. Movements are powerful things, and an overall nation-wide reduction of up to 10% is not unimaginable. But the consequences for our economy in it's current state are incalculable. With no real investment in energy sufficiency, new research, nor alternate fuel sources, Big Oil would have no economic buffer from the full effect of the floor dropping out from under them, and that would be *REAL* economic damage.
Hamas Must Go, Cause Bush Says So
The N.Y. Times is reporting that plans to ouster Hamas are far advanced at the highest levels of the US State Department. In cooperation with Israel, the US plans to deprive the Palestinian Authority of money and connections and in doing so make life so hard in the territories that the Palestinians will force Mahmoud Abbas to call new elections.
I should point out that if any nation (or nations) on earth, OPEC for example, tried to interfere with a US election, the howling that we'd do could be heard from space. Of course we already tried that by funding a huge PR campaign for Fatah, and a fat lot of good it did us too.
In Defense of Keeping Science and Spirituality Separate
In Defense of Keeping Science and Spirituality Separate in American Classrooms
I am a firm supporter of the Bill of Rights. I hold all of my Constitutional rights very dear. I have no qualms with someone for believing or practicing any religion they deem to. I do, however, have a slight problem when people try to bring their personal religious convictions into the element of public science education. I present the following as my argument to why science should remain science in the classroom.
One Shot At Changing The Constitution
What does everyone want to do law-wise? What does Bu$hCo want to do to preserve the institution of marriage? What do Gary Bauer, Pat Robertson, and Westboro Baptist want after they turn Roe v. Wade into smoldering wreckage? Amend the Constitution!
So, all of you Constitutional scholars, you've got one shot: Amend, repeal, revise--How would you change the Constitution?
Katrina - The Probe, The Potshots, The Party
Everyone's aware that house Republicans will soon issue their report on the administration's failure to adequately respond to hurricane Katrina, and much is being made of the fact that the report appears not to be a whitewash despite Democrats refusal to take part in the investigation. But, while the MSM covers (to use the report's words) the "national failure", what is left out is the White House's stubborn refusal t provide documents to investigators; the Bush administration's stonewalling; the fact that few Homeland Security officials testified before the committee; and the fact that no specific person, especially not HS Secretary Michael Chertoff, has been held to account for the debacle.
Two Louisiana congressmen though, Charlie Melancon and William Jefferson, are raising these issues in the only paper that will print them, the Times-Picayune.
Bush Senior Angry At How the Kowboy Koward Was Treated
The former President is angry about perceived attacks on his son at Coretta Scott Kings funeral. Successive speakers obliquely assaulted the presidents policies pointing out the inequities of how Bus$Co goes about the business of running this country. First Rev. Joseph Lowery questioned our commitment of billions to the war but little to the poor. Then former President Jimmy Carter asked that the audience recall the faces of Katrina's victims.
Apparently Bush Sr. finds such remarks distasteful, forgetting that respect is earned...as is disrespect.
Revelers Make Light of the Tragedy
In a final swipe at the people who bungled the Katrina response, Krewe du Vieux mocked Ray Nagin, Kathleen Blanco, and others in their portion of the Mardi Gras parade--proving that despite terrible tragedy, compounded by the administration incompetence, the people of New Orleans can't be kept down.
Separated at Birth? You Decide
Return of the Political Commissar
What is news is that the assignment of political commissars by Bu$hCo may not be limited to NASA. Dr. James Hansen, NASA's top climate scientist and the man who spoke out about Deutsch's attempts to silence him, alleges that National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists are receive the same treatment. Apparently NOAA insists on having an agency "minder" present when it's scientists speak to journalists.
Stomp one cockroach and you find 100 more.
The Art of Blog Post Naming
Do you think these bozos actually read what I wrote?
Gonzales at the Senate Judiciary - The Missing 13 Seconds
Mr. Specter: "Are you defending the warrantless wiretapping of American citizens?"
AG Gonzales: "Well Mr. Chairman, George Washington spied on Americans during the Revolutionary War."
Mr. Specter: "So you're saying that if President Washington had jumped off a bridge...say...into the freezing waters of the Deleware, you'd have John Yoo draft a memo advising President Bush to do the same?"
AG Gonzales: "I would sir."
"Put another candle on my birthday cake, I'm another year old today." 500 Generik Points if you get that reference without having to look it up (or having seen it ahead of time). You have to be Of A Certain Age and have lived in A Certain Place at A Certain Time to know where that comes from. Bonus points if you can sing the whole song, and my undying respect and admiration if you can play the swingin' clarinet solo that accompanies it.
Here's to me. Yea. Hurray.
All Your Emails Are Belong To Us
As part of a grand jury investigation that's still secret, the Justice Department asked a federal magistrate judge to approve monitoring of an unnamed person's e-mail correspondents.What happened then is that Justice asked Federal judge Thomas Hogan to step in, and he did, authorizing the gathering of the emails headers based on federal wiretapping law.
The request had a twist: Instead of asking to eavesdrop on the contents of the e-mail messages, which would require some evidence of wrongdoing, prosecutors instead requested the identities of the correspondents. Also included in the request was header information like date and time and Internet address--but not subject lines.
The federal magistrate judge balked and asked the Justice Department to submit an additional brief to demonstrate that such a request would be legal.
So...BANG...just like that everything but the contents of your emails are now available to Federal prosecutors based on little more than a weak notion of "relevance" to an investigation. So I have to ask: Does anyone else have the weird feeling that this is reminiscent of the McCarthy hearings, "Please name all of the people you associate with"? I mean, what else are the headers good for but to widen the net?
More Music! Right Here, Right Now.
And what's playing in the Blognon-i-pad right now? John Lee Hooker's, The Complete 50's Chess Recordings
We're all familiar with John Lee Hooker's slow, gravelly voice--his aged voice. But these are the authentic thing from a totally different man--a young man just as his recordings were starting to get noticed. Chess Records was John Lee's home for 4 years in the early 50s, and these tracks, scratches and all, are some of the finest blues Hooker ever recorded.
Google Goggles, Government Grins
Talk about biting the hand that feeds... Did you know that a new feature of Google's Desktop stores your PCs files remotely on their servers so that you can search them from wherever you are? Well neither did I, but just set the Search Across Computers option and all of your text based files, from tax returns to love letters, financial records to trashy "Scooter-style" pot-boilers will get uploaded to Google's servers where it can be:
- Scanned so that you can search it from anywhere in the world (the party line)
- Indexed so that Google can target ads in your direction (not yet, but how long can they resist really), and...
- DELIVERED INTO THE HANDS OF THE FEDS WITHOUT A WARRANT, BECAUSE THEY ONLY NEED A SUBPOENA TO GET AT RECORDS STORED WITH A PROVIDER LIKE GOOGLE!!!
The FCC - Looking Out For My TV Dollar
Well it's not like an "a la carte" cable plan is not intuitively attractive, but over the last decade my cable bill has increased 300% and my television watching has decreased by 2/3. (Mostly because everything I see on television is crap, but that's for another blog.) Forget the fact that I get twice the number of channels. It's irrelevant. Channels that you don't watch are valueless. So the way I figure it, this makes my cable about 800% more expensive or, if you prefer, 8 times less valuable than it was a decade ago, and the FCC wants to try and save me 13%? Whoopee! Now my cable will only be 7 times less valuable.
Forgive me if I seem underwhelmed.
I Vass Only Follovingk Ohrders!
This first post isn't really too funny, except maybe in a "laugh to keep from crying" kind of way. It seems that Scooter Libby, he of Plamegate fame, has revealed what a big part of his defense will consist of in his upcoming trial -- essentially, the Nuremberg Defense. "I was only following orders!"
TedKennedy.com, by way of the National Journal's Murray Waas, is reporting that "Libby testified that he was authorized to share classified information with reporters by his superiors." His superior was none other than Vice Preznit Coronary himself, Evil Dick Cheney. The hubris, the arrogance of this maladministration is once again nakedly on display, and they don't care who sees it. They think nothing of placing partisan interests and their own ideology over national security, and dare anyone to do something about it. The worst part is that, so far, they've been able to get away with their criminal behavior.
Beyond what was stated in the court paper, say people with firsthand knowledge of the matter, Libby also indicated what he will offer as a broad defense during his upcoming criminal trial: that Vice President Cheney and other senior Bush administration officials had earlier encouraged and authorized him to share classified information with journalists to build public support for going to war. Later, after the war began in 2003, Cheney authorized Libby to release additional classified information, including details of the NIE [National Intelligence Estimate], to defend the administration’s use of prewar intelligence in making the case for war.
This whole gang of crooks and murderers needs to be brought down, fast, if America is to survive. Can you say "impeach"? I sure can.
The Ownership Society or How I'll Waste My Remaining Years
And therein is the problem. All of the Ownership Society bullshit seems to be about just two things: Transferring wealth from ordinary citizens to corporations and in doing so bolstering a flagging economy by creating huge amounts of corporate "busy-work".
Consider... it's been a generation since most people had true defined-benefit retirement plan. We've all got 401Ks and IRAs, and what does this mean for us? We're in control. All of the decisions, good or bad (OK, mostly bad), are ours to make. We've become our own financial advisors, and boy does it waste a lot of our time. Of course, you can pay somebody to watch over things for you--a money-minder who'll take a cut of your retirement wealth. Either way, financial services companies enrich themselves at your expense, and the Social Security, Fund for the Friends of Bu$hCo Account is just more of the same.
Health Savings Accounts? Bush's answer to our health care woes--same kind of thing, only worse. Now not only will I waste time becoming my own health-care advisor; Not only will my company medical plan disappear in favor of a tax-exempt medical account (I pay more, my employer pays less); But the bad decisions that I might make will have a measurable, possibly devastating impact, on my health. Employers are enriched. Health-care providers are enriched. Advertisers are way enriched as providers compete for our attention. The only entity that comes out demonstrably poorer, is me!
Yes indeed, the Ownership Society is certainly about something. It's about how I'm going waste my remaining years.
Thanks to Kathy at Stone Soup Musings for inspiring me to get this one in the bag.
He'll be joining us for a bit of guest blogging, and as he does, Blognonymous wants to bid a fond farewell to Alicia who gave us that incomparable pot-boiler, Goodbye, Tommi?
Couture of Corruption
|Let's face it, our founding fathers were snappy dressers. George Washington? Alexander Hamilton (at right)? Veritable fashion plates. But in comparison Abramoff's corrupt conspirators are schlubs; red-staters unfit for the red-carpet; the worst examples of a Couture of Corruption.|
|Ney: Yellow tie with a grey suit that looks like it came from The Men's Warehouse. Bob, are you insane?|
|Pombo: A man who normally can't be found in a suit, much less a fashionable one, is seen here in stripes that manage to make even his face look fat.|
|Delay: Here's Tom doing his imitation of a supermodel...with jaundice.|
|Then there's Ralph Reed. Fashionable suit by Hugo Boss--cowboy boots by...ahh who the f*ck cares. It still looks like sh*t.|
|And let's not forget Speaker Hastert, a man with ties so boring that his staff members have been diagnosed with narcolepsy. Denny...lose the tie, and the glasses. This isn't 1973.|
|And finally Jack. Black Jack...Fat Black Jack, the only man for whom black is not slimming. Perhaps he'll look better in stripes.|
An Impeachment! An Impeachment!
But not to be outdone, the San Francisco supervisors are going to debate impeaching both the Kowboy Koward of Krawford and Vice President Coronary. The kowardly pair are to be investigated, tried, convicted, removed from office, and given noogies.
As for us San Franciscans? Totally on board--just sitting around waiting for the wrath of Bill O'Reilly to rain down--Fire, brimstone, flaming loofahs.
More Liberal Heresy - Should we really rebuild New Orleans?
I have as much sympathy as the next frog for the plight of Katrina's victims. I want to see every single dime of the money allocated by Bu$hCo (and more) spent to get New Orleans' residents back on their feet, but I think that we need to consider--Global warming is a fact, not fiction. Polar ice is melting and sea levels in response are rising. When the Gulf of Mexico is 15' above where it is today, no levees, no pumps, in short nothing, will be able to keep New Orleans dry. So the question is: Should we really be rebuilding the Big Easy?
Now that I've stuck my foot in it, the thread is open. What kinds of liberal heresy would you commit?
Post. Discuss. Email me, and I'll add your links.
It's The End of the World...
(Just a quick funny until I can come up with something more creative. Thank fashiongirl, but don't blame me if it's offensive. I think that it's got sound, but I don't have speakers where I am right now. - K.)
Run Hillary Run... Or Maybe Not
Whether it's the comments about the plantation or the worst administration in history, Hillary Clinton seems to have a lot of anger.Forget for the moment that the plantation comment was first uttered by Newt Gingrich. Forget that Mehlman is a man for whom the term "Clown Shoes" is too generous a description. Mehlman is despicable, but I want him to succeed.
I do not want Hillary Clinton to be the the Democratic standard bearer in 2008, and here's why: Senator Clinton has many admirable--no, actually outstanding--qualities. She will make a top notch Chairman of the Judiciary Committee someday. But she waffles between Republican-lite and far-left incoherence often enough that I can't see her formulating an appealing progressive agenda for 2008. No, we need some fresh leadership. A Feingold, a Kaine. The Clinton era was wonderfully successful, but its done; its tactics are done; and it's time to move on.
On Betty Friedan's Passing
Well, I didn't have to. Dusty of It's My Right to be Left of Center, said all that I would have and more.
Because We Love Our President, We Have A Winner
I love my President because...
...he's the kind of guy you'd like to sit down and have a beer with. The kind of guy you'd like to sit down and have a beer and a couple shots of tequila with. The kind of guy you'd like to sit down and have a beer, a couple shots of tequila and a few big lines of cocaine with. The kind of guy you'd like to sit down and have a beer, a couple shots of tequila, a few big lines of cocaine and a whole box of rat poison under the table ot replace his coke with.
Our runner-up was:
I love my president because I love God, and God speaks to the president.
- Can-of-Worms Mike
Thanks to everyone who participated, and special thanks to my very talented, patient, and fair-minded co-judges Lily and AJ!
NASA's Very Own Zampolit
Not so. Now it turns out that climate isn't the only area where Bu$hCo is using political appointees to pressure agency employees. Apparently the administration is also a little sensitive to how the Big Bang "Theory" is portrayed in news releases. In fact, the N.Y. Times reports that dozens of staffers, members of NASA's Public Affairs Office and agency scientists, have come forward to complain of administration attempts to control the flow of scientific information, especially in the run-up to the 2004 election.
Seems that 15 years after the fall of the Soviet Union the institution of the political commissar is alive and well inside the of US government.
What's NOT The Matter With Kansas?
The Kansas Supreme Court has issued a temporary injunction in the state AG's pursuit of records from two abortion clinics. The state is attempting to get at patient records to determine if the clinics violated Kansas' law in making information and procedures available to minors. But the high court held that a lower court needed to demonstrate that the AG had a right to the records and that the AG would properly protect patient confidentiality. The latter may prove difficult for Phill Kline, the AG, considering that he is an abortion opponent and has argued that one reason the state seeks the records is to determine if minors under the age of 16 have been sexually active, illegal in Kansas and equated with child abuse.
One wonders if AG Kline plans to expose the hussies and parade them in the public square? Here's hoping the lower court shuts Kline down.
Censored Comments From The Contest?
love my president because if I don't he'll kill my family.
Posted by Robot Buddha to Blognonymous at 2/03/2006 07:25:35 PM
I love my president because if I didn't, I would be with the terrorists.
Posted by Mike to Blognonymous at 2/04/2006 06:26:19 AM
"I love Our President because he unashamedly, thoroughly and completely sucks so hard
it made Jeff Gannon blush."*
*which explains why a mail order certified 'journalist' lasted so long.
**friend of AJ and Rex
(never, never downplay the value of nepotism)
Posted by Anonymous to Blognonymous at 2/04/2006 06:56:34 AM
Hey, don't piss on William Tecumsah Sherman like that!
Ok, I'll givce it a shot but I may come back later with more reasons because in the spirit of Republican patriotism, I want to throw this contest for myself by entering as many times as possible and then secretly slipping Kvatch some cold hard cash.
I love my president because I have always been a sucker for ancient Roman history and I think he is the perfect mix of the paranoia of Caesar Agustus and the excess and iron fist of Nero. I would throw in Caligula but I don't think Dear Leader has as good a sex life as Caligula did. Laura just doesn't seem like the bend over backwards, bark-like-a-dog, lets-include-the-poolboy type when it comes to sex. Pity.
And when our very own Rome burns, I am sure George Bush will be roasting marshmellows.
Posted by stacy to Blognonymous at 2/04/2006 08:51:13 AM
Safe Comments From The Contest?
I love my President because his every action is fraught with peril, from standing tough against Bin Laden to eating a pretzel.
Posted by Lew Scannon to Blognonymous at 2/03/2006 06:56:44 PM
I love my President because he has the most awesome collection of red neckties I've ever seen!
Posted by Lew Scannon to Blognonymous at 2/03/2006 07:06:47 PM
...and probably these...
I love my president because now, my ex can't possibly think I'm the biggest screwup in the country.
Posted by Anonymous to Blognonymous at 2/03/2006 08:23:56 PM
Out of fairness to the others, I won't enter this contest.
Needless to say, my love for the President burns with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns (if, in fact, there were such a thing as a thousand suns...my intelligent design teachings demand that they're be only one, and that it revolves around the earth.)
Posted by Rex Kramer, Danger Seeker to Blognonymous at 2/03/2006 10:50:03 PM
I love my president because I love God, and God speaks to the president.
Posted by Mike to Blognonymous at 2/04/2006 06:32:52 AM
My president is the incarnation of a character, Elsworth Toohey, from one of my favorite books, The Fountainhead.
Posted by blony to Blognonymous at 2/04/2006 07:30:34 AM
Blogger Actively Censoring My Posts
I regret that, after doing some careful posting and monitoring of my Blogger index, I've concluded that Google/Blogger is actively censoring my attempts to post the lost comments from the "I love my President because..." contest. The comments have been posted under various titles this morning, and I've seen three different posts disappear from my index. The chronology is the following:
At 7:30a I posted (note this use of the full URL as this post only exists on the Blognonymous site):
By 8:30a this post had disappeared from my index, and thinking this was just a glitch, I reposted with a different title:
At 10:30, this post had been forcibly removed from my index as well. So I reposted one last time (at 11:10):
...and by 11:30, this post had also been removed.
At this point I can only conclude that there is something objectionable in that comment list, or Google/Blogger is under some pressure to prevent any more discussion on this topic. I've seen two unauthorized (in other words...not me) FTP accesses on my site, but because I self-host any attempt to actually remove the posts once on the Blognonymous site would be a Patriot Act violation. (How's that for ironic?)
I don't know what else to do and don't expect that this post will last either, but I'll keep monitoring the situation.
Sorry everyone... Kvatch
Random 10 from the flyPod
1. Vangelis - "Main Titles", Blade Runner Soundtrack
2. John Lee Hooker - "That's Alright", The Healer
3. Icehouse - "Hey Little Girl", Primitive Man
4. Hooverphonic - "Out of Time", Blue Wonder Power Milk
5. Kevin Volans / Kronos Quartet - "White Man Sleeps #5", Pieces of Africa
6. Santana - "Evil Ways", The Best of Santana
7. Sam "Lightnin'" Hopkins, "Mighty Crazy", The Best of Lightnin' Hopkins
8. Depeche Mode, "The Love Thieves", Ultra
9. Man or Astro-man! - "Clean Up In Aisle #9", Is It...Man, or Astro-man!
10. Neil Finn - "Twisty Bass", Try Whistling This
I Love My President Because... - A Patriotic Contest
I love my President because...
Let's let this one go all weekend, and I'll announce the winner on Monday morning. And I love my President because...
He combines the refined instincts of Herbert Hoover with the grace and subtlety William Tecumsah Sherman.
We have a winner! Check it out here.
Bush's New Strategy - Impeach Me Now
This places President Bush in a delicate position. With the commencement of Senate Judiciary hearings on his illegal use of warrantless wiretaps, own party is starting to move against him, and he cannot afford to have the House go Democrat. This would almost certainly be a prelude to an impeachment.
If Bush want's to stay in power, he really has only one alternative. Like an embattled parliamentarian, he needs to call for the "vote of no confidence" now. In other words, Bu$hCo should move to force a House impeachment investigation immediately, far in advance of the midterms.
Why is this good strategy? First, regardless of how an investigation goes, the House is unlikely to draft articles of impeachment. Bush is still, after all, a member of their party. Second, with the investigation concluded, control of the House becomes irrelevant. If the Republican's win, Bush will claim to be exonerated and continue to do whatever he wants. If the Democrats win, there will be no public support for a second investigation, and the Democrats hands will be tied.
Of course, there is still the possibility that Democrats will fail to press the advantage. If the Alito nomination is any indicator, Democrats may not take back the House due to sheer incompetence.
HT to Mikevotes at Born at the Crest of the Empire for digging up the original info and for the inspiration.
In 2006, 70 Billion More for the War
Just to give this some perspective: The 2006 war allocation represents 5% of the total US budget...that's 5% of 2.4 Trillion dollars. Bu$hCo has just requested an off-budget appropriation--essentially a loan--that amounts to 1/20th of every tax dollar that will be taken in by the Feds this year. Imagine how many real security initiatives or how much foreign intelligence could have been purchased for that amount.
Now think in terms of your own budget. Make $50,000? Then it's as if you just went to VISA and said, "give me $2,500 loan that my children will pay back on my behalf," and you've done this every year for the last 3. Or put another way, if you normally pay $10,000 in federal taxes, then $500.00 will go to fund the Iraq War. You paid that last year, and the Congressional Budget Office estimates that you'll continue paying that amount for at least another two years...maybe more.
Are you getting your money's worth? Do you feel safer?
Be Afraid - Patriot Act Extended Another Month
Blognonymous observes, though, that it's already been six weeks since the last extension, and no progress has been made. Perhaps this isn't about a compromise at all. Perhaps Bu$hCo is just waiting for the right moment to ram the legislation through without any meaningful debate.
The Patriot Act was born at a moment of national and congressional vulnerability, and maybe this is how the administration plans to keep it on life-support. If we see another extension, count on it.
Warrantless wiretapping? - Don't sue the feds. Sue the telcos!
This is smart, smart, smart because unlike the ACLU's suit against the federal government, this will hit right where it hurts, in the pocketbook of a huge Republican corporate donor. Though Bu$hCo will almost certainly try to quash this suit using the state secrets privilege, the negative publicity coupled with the specter of damages in the billions (with a capital "B"), will force the telco to pressure the administration to end the surveillance. AT&T will scream, and Bush will listen.
So now the question is: What about Verizon, Quest, and BellSouth?
State of the Union - Redux With Translation
Here is the actual SotU delivered by President Bush this evening:
Mr. Speaker, Vice President Cheney, members of Congress, members of the Supreme Court and diplomatic corps, distinguished guests and fellow citizens:
Blah blah, blah blah blah-blah blah blah blah. Blah? Blah blah blah blah blah blah-blah. Blah blah blah-blah, blah-blah-blah! Blah blah-blah blah blah blah.
...terrorists hope these horrors will break our will, allowing the violent to inherit the Earth. But they have miscalculated: We love our freedom, and we will fight to keep it. ("Course that doesn't include fighting my administration. Any freedoms we take are for your own good.")
Blah-blah blah, blah-blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah-blah. Blah blah blah-blah, blah-blah-blah! Blah blah blah blah.
So the United States of America supports democratic reform across the broader Middle East. Blah blah Egypt blah-blah...blah Hamas ("Man that really sucked! And all that USAID money down the tubes too.") blah bhah bhah. Saudi Arabia blah blah-blah blah blah.
Blah blah-blah-blah, blah blah. America has created 4.6 million new jobs ("Just 400,000 more and we'll have created as many as we lost in my first 3 years. Whoopee!")
Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security... [You actually need a plan that saves the system before anyone acts on it.]
Blah blah blah. We will strengthen health savings accounts by making sure individuals and small business employees can buy insurance with the same advantages that people working for big businesses now get. [Translation: Get ready for a huge shift of responsibility...right onto your back.]
Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. Here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil blah blah, blah ("I say this every year and nobody ever holds me to it. Is that cool, or what?")
Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion [Translation: Practically nothing] to develop cleaner, cheaper, more reliable alternative energy sources ... blah blah blah. So tonight, I announce the Advanced Energy Initiative, a 22 percent increase [22 percent of practically nothing is...hmmm...still practically nothing] in clean-energy research at the Department of Energy.
Blah-blah blah, blah-blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah-blah. Blah blah blah-blah, blah-blah-blah! Blah blah blah blah.
...and the number of children born to teenage mothers has been falling for a dozen years in a row. ("Heck. I really wish that this was happening in the Red States rather than in Massachusetts.")
("OK, big finish!") And so we move forward optimistic about our country, faithful to its cause, and confident of victories to come.
Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless America.
("You love me. You really love me.")