Bending the Third Rail
Because We Should, We Can, We Do
Monday, July 31, 2006
Light to no blogging this week from moi'.

Take it away Lynne! ..........
Electric Cars
Great news! Electric cars are available. Just not here.

From India.
The Reva is designed for city commuters across the globe, for an economical and pollution free driving experience. Being efficient and cost-effective the Reva has the smallest running cost in the world! This has attracted markets world over and PowerShift of the UK has recognized the REVA as the most energy efficient electric vehicle in the world!

From GEM

And some great information from EV World.

60 MInutes interviewed James Hansen last night.
Hansen is arguably the world's leading researcher on global warming. He's the head of NASA's top institute studying the climate. But as correspondent Scott Pelley first reported last spring, this imminent scientist says that the Bush administration is restricting who he can talk to and editing what he can say. Politicians, he says, are rewriting the science.
Hansen has a theory that man has just 10 years to reduce greenhouse gases before global warming reaches what he calls a tipping point and becomes unstoppable. He says the White House is blocking that message.

"In my more than three decades in the government I've never witnessed such restrictions on the ability of scientists to communicate with the public," says Hansen.

But he didn't hold back speaking to Pelley, telling 60 Minutes what he knows.

Personally, I believe if we only have 10 years it is too late. The U.S. government can't manage to get it together enough to do anything positive in 10 years. But I'd like to see a Gore/Feingold ticket to give it a helluva try.
Saturday, July 29, 2006
No Joke
Don't look now, but the Cheney administration wants a free hand to be able to detain American citizens without any due process.
WASHINGTON - U.S. citizens suspected of terror ties might be detained indefinitely and barred from access to civilian courts under legislation proposed by the Bush administration, say legal experts reviewing an early version of the bill.


According to the draft, the military would be allowed to detain all "enemy combatants" until hostilities cease. The bill defines enemy combatants as anyone "engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners who has committed an act that violates the law of war and this statute."

Legal experts said Friday that such language is dangerously broad and could authorize the military to detain indefinitely U.S. citizens who had only tenuous ties to terror networks like al Qaeda.
Can't really say I'm surprised.

It'll be interesting to see how coffee sipping, cell-phone using, SUV driving, Jesus loving, American Idol watching Amurikans respond.
Beginnings of a Backlash?
The religious right should remember that the separation of church and state was originally intended to protect the church, not the state:
“There is a lot of discontent brewing,” said Brian D. McLaren, the founding pastor at Cedar Ridge Community Church in Gaithersburg, Md., and a leader in the evangelical movement known as the “emerging church,” which is at the forefront of challenging the more politicized evangelical establishment.

“More and more people are saying this has gone too far — the dominance of the evangelical identity by the religious right,” Mr. McLaren said. “You cannot say the word ‘Jesus’ in 2006 without having an awful lot of baggage going along with it. You can’t say the word ‘Christian,’ and you certainly can’t say the word ‘evangelical’ without it now raising connotations and a certain cringe factor in people.

“Because people think, ‘Oh no, what is going to come next is homosexual bashing, or pro-war rhetoric, or complaining about ‘activist judges.’ ”
Perhaps it's time for the American Taliban nutbars to go back to their fringe status before groups like the ACLU have to come to their defense.
Lethal Weapon
You may have heard that Mel "holier than thou" Gibson was busted for drunk driving. But did you hear about this?
TMZ has four pages of the original report prepared by the arresting officer in the case, L.A. County Sheriff's Deputy James Mee. According to the report, Gibson became agitated after he was stopped on Pacific Coast Highway and told he was to be detained for drunk driving Friday morning in Malibu. The actor began swearing uncontrollably. Gibson repeatedly said, "My life is f****d." Law enforcement sources say the deputy, worried that Gibson might become violent, told the actor that he was supposed to cuff him but would not, as long as Gibson cooperated. As the two stood next to the hood of the patrol car, the deputy asked Gibson to get inside. Deputy Mee then walked over to the passenger door and opened it. The report says Gibson then said, "I'm not going to get in your car," and bolted to his car. The deputy quickly subdued Gibson, cuffed him and put him inside the patrol car.

TMZ has learned that Deputy Mee audiotaped the entire exchange between himself and Gibson, from the time of the traffic stop to the time Gibson was put in the patrol car, and that the tape fully corroborates the written report.

Once inside the car, a source directly connected with the case says Gibson began banging himself against the seat. The report says Gibson told the deputy, "You mother f****r. I'm going to f*** you." The report also says "Gibson almost continually [sic] threatened me saying he 'owns Malibu' and will spend all of his money to 'get even' with me."

The report says Gibson then launched into a barrage of anti-Semitic statements: "F*****g Jews... The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world." Gibson then asked the deputy, "Are you a Jew?"
Hey Mel.


Hear that whooshing sound?

That's the sound of what's left of your career going down the toilet.
Friday, July 28, 2006
Another 'christian'

COLUMBUS - The Ohio Republican Party fired a staffer Thursday for sending inflammatory e-mails about Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland that Democrats labeled "gutter politics."

The messages, sent to GOP supporters, questioned Strickland's ministerial credentials, his toughness on child predators and his and his wife's sexual orientation.

Gary Lankford, a Christian school headmaster and former director of the Ohio Restoration Project, was let go over the postings, said Jason Mauk, the state party's political director.

Who would Jesus slander?
It's really awful to watch Israel repeat the American mistakes of Vietnam and Iraq. Testosterone driven conservative maniacs have taken over the "civilized" world and are leading us into a new dark age. I really really hope we are able to turn this around soon. Israel is losing in Lebannon. The U.S. is losing in Iraq. Some message to send to the fundamentalist nutbars isn't it?
CW Disputed
There is a piece of conventional wisdom out there about Hezbollah fighters intermixing with civilians. It turns out to be likely false:
Throughout this now 16-day-old war, Israeli planes high above civilian areas make decisions on what to bomb. They send huge bombs capable of killing things for hundreds of meters around their targets, and then blame the inevitable civilian deaths -- the Lebanese government says 600 civilians have been killed so far -- on "terrorists" who callously use the civilian infrastructure for protection.

But this claim is almost always false. My own reporting and that of other journalists reveals that in fact Hezbollah fighters -- as opposed to the much more numerous Hezbollah political members, and the vastly more numerous Hezbollah sympathizers -- avoid civilians. Much smarter and better trained than the PLO and Hamas fighters, they know that if they mingle with civilians, they will sooner or later be betrayed by collaborators -- as so many Palestinian militants have been.

For their part, the Israelis seem to think that if they keep pounding civilians, they'll get some fighters, too. The almost nightly airstrikes on the southern suburbs of Beirut could be seen as making some sense, as the Israelis appear convinced there are command and control bunkers underneath the continually smoldering rubble. There were some civilian casualties the first few nights in places like Haret Hreik, but people quickly left the area to the Hezbollah fighters with their radios and motorbikes.
This is from an article by Mitch Prothero, a U.S. News and World Report journalist reporting from Lebannon writing in Salon.

If this is known on the ground, you have to ask yourself why Israel continues to target civilians? Surely their intelligence is telling them the same things that an ordinary journalist can easily find out. It could only be that they see some political advantage to their strategy of wholesale bombing, whatever that may be.
He's Back
That idiot confrontationalist is back before the Senate.


John Bolton is going to try and become official in his job as U.N. ambassador. This guy is a poster child for everything that is wrong with Bush, his administration, and U.S. foreign policy. Salon has a nice piece summarizing his performance before the Senate including his totally arrogant demeanor and how Bolton has lived up to his bully reputation in the U.N. It's a quality brief read (you may have to click through a brief commercial)
Chart of the Week
This is an amazingly revealing chart:

This chart shows how inflation has been brought, and kept, under control from the energy crisis years in the 70's. The bears (of which I tend to be one) contend that economic fundamentals have changed due to energy prices and due to deficit/debt. Ten year bond rates are now bumping up against the high downtrend line. Should that line be broken, it would indeed be highly suggestive that something is going on that is different from the past 30 years, and that stagflation is a problem.

We shall see.
Signing Statements Explained
Pesky Laws
Don't like a law? Just change it.

An obscure law approved by a Republican-controlled Congress a decade ago has made the Bush administration nervous that officials and troops involved in handling detainee matters might be accused of committing war crimes, and prosecuted at some point in U.S. courts.

Senior officials have responded by drafting legislation that would grant U.S. personnel involved in the terrorism fight new protections against prosecution for past violations of the War Crimes Act of 1996. That law criminalizes violations of the Geneva Conventions governing conduct in war and threatens the death penalty if U.S.-held detainees die in custody from abusive treatment.

My fantasy is to see Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz charged with war crimes in a world court.
Great Danes!
The Danes are the happiest people in the world.

And why shouldn't they be? They have health care, living wages and a leader other than W. The full study is here. Mexico ranked higher than we did!
In another article on the survey, this was reported. Take a look at #2 and #4.

According to surveys, he notes, the most important sources of personal happiness are:
-- Close ties to friends and family
-- Wide political freedom
-- High income
-- A narrow gap between rich and poor

This is not good news for us.
Americans have fewer close friends than ever. We all know our political freedom is being crushed under the Neocon jackboots. High income? Not. And the gap between rich and poor continues to widen. We fail on all 4 counts. Yet Americans claim to be some of the most 'religious' people in the world.
Apparently religion and happiness don't correlate.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Out Of Touch
In yet one more example of a politician being totally out of touch with "commoners": (emphasis mine)

Republican Sen. Conrad Burns chastised a group of firefighters over the weekend for doing a “poor job” of squelching a 92,000-acre blaze near Billings, a state report shows.

“The toughest part of the conversation was the point where the senator was critical of a firefighter sitting across from us in the gate area,” Rosenthal's report reads. “I offered to the senator that our firefighters make around $8 to $12 an hour and time-and-a-half for overtime. He seemed a bit surprised that it wasn't higher.”
What middle class? Not to mention Burns acting like a knob by slamming people who had come from hundreds of miles away to try to keep Montana from going up like a match.
Yellow Ribbons
A great post in the comments section at Dependable Renegade:

Yesterday, someone called to refer a veteran to our outpatient program. This veteran was unable to access any psychiatric services outside the veterans' system or he would lose his health benefits, I was told. I referred him to the VA hospital down the street and was advised that they were unable to treat him as the waiting list was too long. So here we have someone who has just returned from "the front" needing counseling and treatment for psych problems, with nowhere to go.
I'd be willing to treat him for free, but my hospital isn't. And if we did treat him for free, he'd lose his health benefits (such as they are).

Sure we "support the troops". By slapping yellow magnets on our bumpers and calling anyone who challenges the system "traitor". But as far as any real support...nada.
Billmon, as usual, has a great analysis on the recent announcement by al Qaeda that they are supporting Hamas and Hezbollah in fighting Israel. This really is news because, while most Americans have zero idea of the huge differences between these groups, they really don't like each other much.

Leave to Bush to be the great "uniter".

Or is he?

Al Qaeda, after all, is unlikely to take a loss of status lying down. Indeed, the rise of Hezbollah makes it all the more likely that Al Qaeda will soon seek to reassert itself through increased attacks on Shiites in Iraq and on Westerners all over the world -- whatever it needs to do in order to regain the title of true defender of Islam.
Ok. Let me get this straight.

The Sunni al Qaeda unites with the Shiite Hezbollah against the infidels, but al Qaeda is really just trying to get a piece of the action in Hezbollah's so-far successful campaign with Israel? Put another way, we've passed the "unite against the enemy phase" and are slowing moving into the "the victors now fight over the carcass" phase? I guess losing in Iraq, which pits the winners against each other is one way to stop fundamentalism??

I think I have a headache.

No matter the serpentine politics. One thing is crystal clear. The Bush administration has single-handedly been able to give the radical Arab world something that no amount of fighting or terrorism has been able to provide.

Serious status.

By actually being worse than the terrorist in international behavior, Bush has provided the opening for a burgeoning movement of Islamic fundamentalism in the middle east. It's a fractious movement. And make no mistake. We'll all pay a price before it burns itself out.
At some level, you really gotta feel sorry for this guy:
(AP) Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appealed to Congress Wednesday to press the war in Iraq with money and troops, portraying his country as crucial to the U.S. as a front line in the war on terror and comparing violence there to the Sept. 11 attacks.

Addressing a joint meeting of Congress, al-Maliki said, "Do not imagine that this problem is solely an Iraqi problem because the terrorist front represents a threat to all free countries and free people of the world."
Al Maliki is a complete creation of the United States and thus, is about to be dropped like a hot rock. More troops? More money? I'm sure he'd like that. But he's about to find out what the American backed Vietnamese government finally found out. It's a little like going into a business deal with Tony Soprano and expecting him to have sympathy for the bad times. As the U.S. ultimately leaves Iraq, and it will ultimately leave Iraq a mess, guys like al Maliki will be lucky to get a plane ticket out of town.
Ranted Out
I was shocked two quarters ago.

I was angry last quarter.

This quarter I'm just hopeless:
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE:XOM - news), the world's largest public oil company, on Thursday reported quarterly profit surged 35 percent to top $10 billion, driven by yet another quarter of sharply higher oil prices.
They're all reporting record profits and increases in capital spending for exploration.

We are so going in the wrong direction, I'm typeless.
Quote of the Day
"It sucks. Honestly, it just feels like we're driving around waiting to get blown up. That's the most honest answer I could give you,"—Spec. Tim Ivey, 28, of San Antonio, when asked about troop morale.
Watch Out
This is something to keep an eye on:
Newsweek reports that Kurdish separatists operating out of Iraq have killed 15 Turkish soldiers in cross-border raids over the past week and pressure is building in Ankara for retaliation, especially in light of America’s strong support for Israel’s incursion into Lebanon.
This has been quietly simmering for some time. If Iraq breaks up, which seems increasingly likely, you've got to wonder how long until Turkey decides that the new Kurdish state represents too much of a threat via encouraging separatist in Turkey to peel of a large hunk of Turkey and fold it into a Kurdish homeland.

Israel/Lebannon II maybe?
Spot On
If you really really want insightful news and analysis about the Israeli adventure in Lebannon, Billmon is the place to go. The guy has been on fire with incredibly insightful, and beautifully written, analysis of how Israel has fallen into the "Bush" trap of thinking that power/force trumps all in asymmetrical warfare against highly committed and motivated guerrilla fighters. Israel is clearly losing this latest round as evidenced by their continued scaling back of the "objective". Hezbollah, by definition, has already won in the way that ants always win via basic survival instincts (I know, I'm in that battle right now).

All of these events have brought to mind some "looking at the forest" thinking for me. Why is it that we're in a period of time where radical fundamentalism (yes, even here in the good ole' U.S. of A.) is on the march? I've gotta believe it's a backlash to technological and cultural change that is occurring so fast that people cannot accept it. In the face of this fast pace change, ordinary individuals are seeking refuge in the familiar and comfortable confines of simple thinking, black/white rules, and direction from "above", whoever that may be, usually the latest whacko with a messianic complex.

Of course the paradox is that these same people are the ones using blackberries, cell phones, GPS devices, and all forms of technology while watching the latest episodes of American Idol, even if they are in the middle of BFE*. Afterall, doesn't our fearless leader reflect this exact paradox, dropping laser guided bombs from drones operated in Nevada while wanting to take the U.S. back to the stone age culturally? Is Bush a cause or a reflection?

I suppose the human race will adapt before destroying itself. But I suspect that the final segment of my life will be far more akin to the cold war than the Clinton years.

*Bum Fuck Egypt
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
More "Help" From U.S.
The delivery of at least 100 GBU 28 bunker busters bombs containing depleted uranium warheads by the United States to Israel for use against targets in Lebanon will result in additional radioactive and chemical toxic contamination with consequent adverse health and environmental effects throughout the middle east.

So states Dr. Doug Rokke, PhD., former Director, U.S. Army Depleted Uranium project. Nothing surprises me anymore.
Classic .....
You want an example of exactly how it is that Democrats continually and routinely kill themselves with the electorate?

Go here.

The only thing that was missing from the DLC meeting was a circle drumming while singing kumbaya. Or how about everyone swaying while holding lighters in the air while singing "Give Peace a Chance".

Democrats have got to figure out that you don't engender voter trust by publically spending a lot of time talking about winning elections. You win it by talking about fixing the country. I know it's not as much fun as a political discussion circle jerk (thanks Bill Clinton), but it does win elections when you show passion about your beliefs and outline concrete (emphasis on concrete) goals.
Unchecked and Unbalanced
Everyone is tut-tutting Arlen Spectre's confrontation with the White House:
(AP) A powerful Republican committee chairman who has led the fight against a tactic by President Bush to avoid carrying out parts of laws he signs said Monday he would have a bill ready by the end of the week to allow Congress to sue Mr. Bush in federal court.

"We will submit legislation to the United States Senate which will ... authorize the Congress to undertake judicial review of "signing statements" with the view to having the president's acts declared unconstitutional," Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter said on the Senate floor.
Cummon. We know Arlen "the great waffle" Spectre. Does anyone really believe anything will come of this "constitutional confrontation?". I certainly don't. This is yet another of the waffle's dog and pony shows designed to calm voters fears about a rubber stamp Congress. The odds of any kind of judicial review of Bush's signing statements are about as good as the odds of Bush capturing Osama bin Laden.
I ran across this bit of analysis on the latest Gallup poll. Bush's approval hangs about where it has for a few months now, 37%. Of course many in the mainstream media still tout how "popular" he is. Anyway, there's this:
There's a new question on the poll: "Do you think the Bush administration has a clear and well-thought out policy on the situation in the Middle East, or not?" The results: 27 percent say he does, 67 percent say he does not.'
I know it's not original, but you gotta wonder about these 27% .... or even the 37% who still approve of Bush. It's shockingly revealing that a full one-third of the voting public is either oblivious or of-a-mind to think that Bush's policies are of any quality at all. But then a full one-third of the United States believes in ghosts too.

Go figure.
The Dead Zone
No, not the Stephen King book. The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. This is not news, just getting progressively worse.

Oh and our senators are voting today whether to allow oil and gas drilling off our atlantic coastline. That should do wonders for the dead zones.
And In Other News .....
Remember that little deal that Bush made to help India get more nukes?

After yesterday's Post revealed that Pakistan is ratcheting up its nukes program with a new plant—thus pumping up the subcontinent's nukes race—the White House said it's long known about the plant. It just didn't feel like telling Congress, which instead learned about it a few days ago from independent analysts. As it happens, the Senate is about to consider whether to approve the nuclear deal Bush has inked with India, and Pakistan's plant might just give senators pause.

"What is baffling is that this information—which was surely information that our own intelligence agencies had—was kept from Congress," said a top proliferation expert from the first Bush administration. "We lack imagination if we think that this is no big deal."
Let see.

Lebannon in flames ..... check
Iraq in civil war ..... check
Afghanistan in anarchy ..... check
Arms race between India and Pakistan ..... check
Domestic security a mess ..... check
Civil Liberties disappearing ..... check

Forgive me. But doesn't it seem that everything this guy touches turns to shit?

Heckuva job Bushie!

Update: Just a brief reminder. It is widely assumed, and I think accurately, that Pakistan is in some way a sanctuary for Osama bin Laden and that Pakistan is also a hairs breath away from becoming an Islamic Republic that hates the west. Just one of those annoying "unintended consequences".
The Phelps Clan
Fred Phelps Jr gets hit on by an Australian reporter.

It's pretty funny and also shows the marvelous compassion and understanding that radiates from these "christians".
Monday, July 24, 2006
Quote of the Day
“Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”—Frederick Douglass
All But The Shouting
Via The Independent:
"Iraq as a political project is finished," a senior government official was quoted as saying, adding: "The parties have moved to plan B." He said that the Shia, Sunni and Kurdish parties were now looking at ways to divide Iraq between them and to decide the future of Baghdad, where there is a mixed population. "There is serious talk of Baghdad being divided into [Shia] east and [Sunni] west," he said.

Hoshyar Zebari, the Iraqi Foreign Minister, told The Independent in an interview, before joining Mr Maliki to fly to London and then Washington, that in theory the government should be able to solve the crisis because Shia, Kurd and Sunni were elected members of it.

But he painted a picture of a deeply divided administration in which senior Sunni members praised anti-government insurgents as "the heroic resistance".
I wonder how many Friedman's* it will take for the Cheney administration to accept this. Put another way, I wonder how many American soldiers will die before they get "it".

*For the uninitiated, Tom Friedman has said that "the next six months are key in Iraq" so many times, that a six month block of time is now called a "Friedman"
Big Brother, Chapter 147
Marshals: Innocent People Placed On 'Watch List' To Meet Quota
The air marshals, whose identities are being concealed, told 7NEWS that they're required to submit at least one report a month. If they don't, there's no raise, no bonus, no awards and no special assignments."Innocent passengers are being entered into an international intelligence database as suspicious persons, acting in a suspicious manner on an aircraft ... and they did nothing wrong," said one federal air marshal.

Wow, I feel safer already. How about you?
War Hurts Everyone
Even the animals.

The U.N. has said at least a half-million people have been displaced in Lebanon. Many if not all of the evacuees are being told they cannot take their pets with them. We already know from Katrina the additional tragedy such a situation can cause for those who have already lost everything. BETA (Beirut for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is taking on as many abandoned pets as they possibly can but the situation promises to get much worse as the war continues.

BETA’s three separate shelters, which care for more than 130 dogs and 100 cats, are in constant danger. The dog shelter is located on the border of Dahye, a suburb where many of the attacks are taking place, and trips to the cat shelters take brave volunteers through a large part of Beirut. Just a few nights ago, a bomb fell 400 meters from the shelter, leaving many of the dogs visibly suffering due to the ongoing noise and near destruction.

If you want to help go to the IFAW site here.
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Quote of the Day
"More people have been killed in terror attacks in Iraq every month since February than were killed on September 11, 2001 in the US, and since Iraq is 11 times less populous than the US, the 6,000 killed in May and June are equivalent to 66,000 killed in civil war violence in the US."—Juan Cole
I Wonder ..... ?
Juan Cole outlines a theory that has been rattling around in my head for awhile. Go read it. It's very interesting.

The short version? Rumsfeld and Israel have been planning the Israel attacks into Lebannon for some time as a part of "cleansing" the middle east of terraists and pushing back Iran, unbeknownst to the idiot king Bush. Go read the whole thing .... it's quite compelling and will make you go .... mmmmmmmmm.
Told Ya
Awhile back I said that instead of withdrawal of troops from Iraq, I think there'll be a "need" for more troops given the idiot "judgement" in the White House and the situation on the ground in Iraq.

Guess what.
Lynne told you to go read it .... and you didn't. So let me whet your appetite:
"We should not confuse Hezbollah with Al Qaeda. Unlike Al Qaeda, Hezbollah has a real and substantial international network. Unlike Al Qaeda, Hezbollah has a real and substantial international political and financial network. They have personnel and supporters scattered in countries around the world who have the training and resources to mount attacks. Hezbollah has no qualms about using terrorist attacks as part of a broader strategy to achieve its objectives. The last major Hezbollah attack against the United States was the June 1996 attack on the U.S. military apartment complex in Dharan, Saudi Arabia. Hezbollah also organized the attacks on the Israeli Embassy in Argentina in 1992 and Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires in 1994. But they also have exercised restraint when they felt they could achieve their objectives through political means. The ten year hiatus in major mass casualty attacks could come to a shattering end in the coming months, and American citizens are likely to pay some of that price with their own blood."
Ok, now go read it and weep about the state of America and the state of the world. As a citizen of the U.S., and the world, it's your obligation to stare at the ugliness that we've significantly helped create.
Everything's an Orange
When you're raised in the middle of an orange grove, it's easy to identify oranges.

It's common knowledge that Condi made her chops on the cold war mentality of triangulating world powers, and seeing any conflict as a proxy for the larger cold war. So is it surprising that she would see the current middle east crisis as merely a proxy fight between the "Axis of Evil" and the "good guys"? Nevermind that there are numerous sectarian groups in the middle east, each one vying for a place at the table.

I guess the good news is that the Condi faction in the administration seems to have a stronger hand in dealing with the situation than Cheney. But that doesn't necessarily mean it's much better.

If we survive the next two years with any sort of credibility (see the headlines in the below posts) it will be freakin' amazing.
Blog Discovery
Human First, then Proud Iranian

It's a refreshing look at world events and a challenge to our myopic world view.
Saturday, July 22, 2006
Alone Again...

Front pages you won't see in this country

Uh Oh
Earth to:

Nancy Pelosi
Chuck Schummer
The Entire DLC
The New Republic
Democratic Triagulating Consultancy:
A new Rasmussen Reports poll shows Ned Lamont (D) beating Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) in the Democratic primary, 51% to 41%.

Here's the stunning finding: In the general election, Lieberman and Lamont are tied with 40% with Alan Schlesinger (R) trailing behind with 13%.
Fuzzy Math
Via friend Jage, who really needs to start blogging again. How the Bush administration does it's budget calculatin':

Info You Need
Just so you know, there have been exactly 128 adopted blastocysts (the charmingly named snowflake baby's) out of 400,000. Where are all those American Talibanis when it comes to saving these?

Just thought you needed to know.
Creating Terrorists
We are watching an exercise in "How to Create Terrorists".

I'm reminded of a story that Civil War author Shelby Foote once told about a group of captured Confederate soldiers. The Yankees asked them why they were fighting, especially since none of them owned slaves.
"We're fighting because y'all are down here," one of the Rebels replied.

The Lebanese people will respond because they have been invaded and it won't matter, at least at the start, who they have to ally with to accomplish the end goal of pushing the Isrealis back. After all," the enemy of my enemy is my friend," and it goes on and on.
Random Observations
My brother called last night and mentioned the veto over the stem cell issue. He said he wondered why Bush would use his first veto ever to protect stem cells while at the same time seems to have no problem sending Americans overseas to be killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then the answer came to him: stem cells have no combat training.

A coworker told me the reason gas prices are so high is because no one has checked the oil. Seems all the oil is along the coast, in Texas and in Alaska, and all the dipsticks are in Washington.
Friday, July 21, 2006
Lots of Questions, Few Answers
Thursday, July 20, 2006
YouTube War
It is rapidly becoming the first YouTube war and there is no shortage of footage from soldiers in Iraq.

There's music in a lot of the soldiers' videos, but precious little uplift. In "The War Tapes," one soldier/auteur complains frequently about the risks he and his comrades take to protect the property of the Halliburton subsidiary subcontracted to feed the troops: "Why the f--- am I sitting out here guarding a truck full of cheesecake?" he laments. After another guardsman supplies a Bush Administration-approved justification for their presence (freedom and democracy for the Iraqi people, stability in the Middle East), the cameraman asks, "tell me how you really feel." Deadpan, he continues: "After that happens, maybe we can buy everybody in the world a puppy."

It's getting a lot harder to hide the truth. Television brought Vietnam into American living rooms and the net is bringing the carnage in Iraq and Afghanistan into America via every portal. Good. People need to know the truth, need to see the horror that happens when boobs rush to war. I hope that the days of eagerly marching off to war (Civil War, WWI, etc.) become a historical curiousity.
War is death and dismemberment and horror and terror and filth and destruction. That's what makes it a thing to be avoided.
Teach Your Children

Goes along with the post below. What are kids in the Middle East learning?
Am I the only one who finds this picture disgusting?

These are Israeli girls "sending a message" to Lebannon.
A Cheney
Billmon explains exactly why the Israeli's a pulling a Cheney. I made a similar argument the other day. But what the hell do I know?

Go get em' Olmert.
Quote of the Day
“If we care about the quality of our lives and the world we live in, we must take part in the effort to elect public officials who will support the laws we believe are needed for the world we want.”—Harriet Keyserling in Against the Tide.
For Rent
This story is starting to make the rounds in many media outlets all over the country:
The Sonoma County rental market, which has favored tenants for the past three years, is tilting back into balance where landlords and renters are on equal footing.

"We had a long, flat period and you're looking at the tail end right now," Latham said. "It's been a long time since anyone who owns an apartment complex could confidently predict a rental increase."

Tenants could see rent hikes next year if vacancies remain about 5 percent, a key barometer used by real estate investors to identify a profitable market.
Just a refresher. The governments reported inflation numbers include rental costs, not housing costs. For the last several years, housing as a cost of living has been very flat due to the housing bubble and it's impact on depressing rents. Well now you'll be seeing the opposite. Housing prices are flat to falling and rents are starting to rise. That means that housing costs will now start to play a part in inflation.
Muzzles for Americans
What are they trying to hide?

MORGAN CITY, La. — Residents of trailer parks set up by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to house hurricane victims in Louisiana aren't allowed to talk to the press without an official escort, The (Baton Rouge) Advocate reported.

Officials in Morgan City estimate that FEMA has spent about $7.5 million to build the trailer park but that only about 15 of the 198 trailers are being used. "We all wonder why no one lives there," Matte said. FEMA officials refuse to say how much was spent to build the park or why 183 of the trailers are vacant.

"FEMA told us because of privacy issues, they can't give us the addresses of our residents who are spread out in all 50 states. And no one but FEMA has that information," Rousselle said. "If we could contact them, I think a lot of them would come back if they knew we had places for them to live."

The residents can't talk to the press, FEMA won't talk about the vacancy rates or how much all this mismanagement is costing, and they won't let anyone know where their residents have gone. I'm wondering if the security mentioned here is some of that Blackwater bunch.
I've never seen such an inept and destructive administration.
Oh No Joe!
Just so you know, one of the latest polls has Lamont ahead of Joementum, 51-47.

I wonder if Hillary is watching this race?
A Liberal Is A Conservative That's Been To Jail
Maybe you're against stem cell research. If you are, then don't partake in any treatments that result rather than keeping the rest of us from having access to stem cell research. From Salon:
"I would give anything if I could have had those nine cells to give to have a cure for my baby now," said one antiabortion mother who conceived with IVF, discarded the extra embryos and now has a daughter with diabetes. "And I think the worst sin of all, and I am a very religious person, I am pro-life, is to look a miracle from God in the face and throw it away." According to Reuters, "she is ready to vote against the party in November if President George W. Bush and congressional Republicans limit stem cell research." Let's hope she, and many Americans like her, stay ready.
Need to give this gal Nancy Reagan's phone number.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Quote of the Day
“The condition there is worse than I expected. I have to be perfectly candid: Baghdad is a serious problem.”Congressman Gil Gutknecht. A strong supporter of the war since it began in March of 2003, the Republican congressman found the situation in Iraq more bleak than he anticipated during a weekend visit to the war zone, and said a partial withdrawal of some American troops might be wise.

Sounds like 'cut and run' to me.

Veto Numero Uno
And what a good time for it. Stem cell research that is supported by government grants will remain off-limits.

This is a big wedgie for liberals. Let's hope those running for Congress pin "the GOP" veto right smack on the foreheads of their Republican opponents.
1999 - Prince

The date has come and gone but the sentiment seems more relevent now.
Forcing It
This is a summary of Bush's position on the middle east conflict:
Just about everybody leads with the Mideast war, but only the Wall Street Journal and New York Times focus on what seems like the most significant development: President Bush basically declared that Israel should go on bombing Lebanon and trying to pummel Hezbollah for now. "What we recognize is that the root cause of the problem is Hezbollah," said the president. "Sometimes it requires tragic situations to help bring clarity in the international community."
Clueless. Absolutely clueless.

I know this is not new analysis, but bears repeating. When will leaders recognize the limits and uses of force? Whether it's parents in a household or a world leader, force is an extreme and very limited tool in conflict resolution. And those limited circumstances usually have to do with last resort self-protection. When force is used inappropriately, it only leads to retaliation and an overall worsening of the situation.

This is known.

This is predictable.

Yet those who wield the most power in our world seem to be the most clueless.

I don't think it's an accident that simplistic thinking about the use of force is more prominent in conservative circles. Those who would like to simplisticly hang onto the "known" are resistant to nuance and the laws of unintended consequences. Unfortunately, that simplicity is also appealing to a mass of voters in the U.S., particularly during times of stress and fear. It would appear that we're in a cycle now where the limits of force have to be explored to the point of complete fatigue (death, loss of treasure, loss of standing) before those same simplistic leaders explore other options. Unfortunately, by the time they start to "get it", it's often too late.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Foreign Policy
Stop Airing Hate
Add your voice to the call to stop airing hate.
New Film
from Robert Greenwald. Check out Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers.

War profiteering used to be illegal.
Monday, July 17, 2006
Neocon Wet Dream
Digby has a nice piece up about how the chips are lined up for Cheney and Rove to further the neocon dream of a regional showdown in the middle east right on cue, at the midterms.

I'm torn.

Digby's point is so thoroughly possible as to be compelling. Yet, something is nagging me. I have this feeling that despite Cheney's wishes, it's just not possible to carry out the PNAC plan without some serious military resources ..... resources he just doesn't have any longer. And if the plan is to get Israel to be his proxy, I have my doubts. Somehow I don't think the Israeli's are as stupid as boy-Bush; not quite as easily manipulated.

I suspect we're in for a continuing dripping conflict rather than and out and out regional conflagration. The upshot is that both scenarios are terrible eventually. But we shall see as a Gulf of Tonkin moment happens soon.

I think this pretty much summarizes my take on the situation. There will be no winners, only dead people.
Thinking Out Loud
In just sort of standing back and looking at the big picture in the middle east, isn't it interesting that the biggest contribution to the whole situation seems to be that Bush, with a mouth full of butter roll, cussed?

The Cheney administration has been thoroughly successful in making the United States completely irrelevent.
One More Nail
This is just what I've been afraid of with regard to the Presidential "signing statements":
Charlie Savage writes in the Boston Globe: "In his dissenting opinion to the Supreme Court's decision on Guantanamo Bay military trials earlier this month, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia gave a presidential signing statement significant weight in determining the meaning of a statute, marking a milestone in the debate over the Bush administration's expansion of executive power. . . .

"Scalia's dissenting opinion gave Bush's signing statement on a Guantanamo-related law passed by Congress equal weight to statements by the bill's authors, suggesting that there is no legal difference between the views of Congress and the president about what a law means."
The next step will be for a majority SCOTUS decision to overrule a piece of legislation citing the Presidential signing statement in it's opinion. At that point, Congress is pretty much meaningless.
Patriots ... All of Them
Barry over at the Big Picture has a very interesting chart up (click to enlarge):

So while the rest of America is taking a hit, literally and financially, some of these corporate folk decide it's time to for a little income off the tragedy.

As Barry says, nothing illegal about it. But it sure goes to the issue of motivation in the marketplace, now doesn't it?
Aren't We Lucky
In addition to cussing out Hezbollah, Bush makes us proud with behavior such as this:
"Yo Blair, what're you doing? Are you leaving?"

-- President Bush, quoted by the AP, to British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the G8 summit.
But what I really liked is the butter roll falling out of his mouth while he's talking.

This guy functions about the level of 17 year old.
Why Is Joe Jilted?
Hendrik Herzberg has a fine column up in The New Yorker, explaining yet again why Democrats are so fed up with Joementum. He hits all the important themes centering on Joe pompous self-center-ness and history of arrogance. With regards to the war:
Of course, these irritations wouldn’t much matter without Iraq. “Lieberman’s problem is not that he supported the Iraq invasion, nor that he thinks we need to stay in and finish the job,” Suzanne Nossel, a young ex-State Department official and a fellow at a think tank called the Security and Peace Initiative, wrote the other day. “He has lots of mainstream Democratic company in both those positions. The crux of Lieberman’s problem is his unwillingness to acknowledge the severity of what’s happened in Iraq, and to demand accountability for it.”
I think it's time for journalist, who continue to swallow the GOP talking points on Joementum's rejection (the radical lefties are running wild in the streets!!!!), need to take a moment and give Hertzberg a read.
Friday, July 14, 2006
Quote of the Day
"He who fights terrorists for any period of time is likely to become one himself."

Israeli historian Martin van Creveld
The Transformation of War
NOW I Understand
Why horse racing is ok through the "tubes", but gambling isn't.

Morally Waivering
It's been widely speculated that the quality of our troops has been taking a hit as the Pentagon is pressed to take anyone into the military.

What some proof?
A frontpage NYT piece profiles the GI now accused of raping an Iraqi girl and killing her along with her family. He was a high-school dropout with three misdemeanors and was accepted into the Army just as the military, desperate for recruits, began issuing more "moral waivers."
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Here It Comes
I told you, now didn't I?

Update: Go the Wilson's website and donate to their legal fund. If money donated ends up being covered by an award, the money equivalent to the donations will be given to charity.

This is way cool. It means that the Wilson's can benefit financially from an award, but donations will not benefit them personally. BTW, if there is excess to go to charities, it will go to whistleblower group/s.

Fiddling While Rome Burns
The middle east in flames?

Let's have another song .... my favorite version of this particular tune by Guns and Roses.

Uh Oh
The Middle East is kinda blowing up .... regionally.

Meanwhile, Bush is basically sitting on his hands. But hey, I can understand his lack of attention to the deteriorating situation. There's a pig on the menu tonight:
Stopping off in Germany on his way to the G-8 summit in Russia, Bush reserved his greatest enthusiasm for tonight's pig roast -- technically, a wild-boar barbecue -- bringing it up three times. "I'm looking forward to that pig tonight," he gushed.

Bush is really enjoying that Presidency eh? It's all completely consistent with that dry drunk syndrome of being "hot" about something new and then soon losing interest (the Presidency).

I don't really have much to add to the situation beyond that other than I suspect that Iran is behind the growing coordination between Hamas and Hezbollah. Perhaps it's a diversion from the U.N. moving towards sanctions against Iran, maybe not. You can be sure that Israel will overreact .... which may be exactly what Iran wants. Lynne points out below that it may be the beginning of a war with Iran which I think is certainly possible.

Remember, we do have mid-term elections coming up and the Cheney administration has a lot of pressure on them to do something ... anything.
It IS Baseball Season
They asked Mickey Mantle what his most memorable Yankee stadium experience was, so he told them (.pdf warning).
Dissin' the Troops
John at Americablog has a great post about Republican 'support' for our troops and I agree with what he says. The Republicans don't have much to fall back on for November so look for them to drag out the color-coded freak-out charts in an effort to distract and scare. Fear is all they have left.
The War with Iran Has Begun
According to an op ed piece in the New York Sun:
Years from now, the kidnapping of Corporal Gilad Shalit will be regarded like the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. Against the backdrop of Kassam rocket fire on Israelis living within range of the Gaza Strip, it was the fate of Corporal Shalit that triggered the Israeli return to Gaza, which in turn brought the Hezbollah forces into the game.

Is this the catalyst the Bush administration has been looking for? Who will fight? We don't have much of a military left since the neocons took over. Are we looking at the start of a larger global conflict? Where will China stand and do they have the expertise to deal with Middle East trouble and North Korea simultaneously? What will Russia do?
These are interesting times to live in, to put it mildly.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Why Not?
Everyone else is doin' it. So here's one from me ....

I'll being seeing Bruce for ... what? ..... the seventh or eighth time in a coupla weeks at the fabulous Saratoga Moutain Winery, which overlooks the south bay area. His shows are always ecclectic and fresh.

No Surprise
I know you know. But just so you really know. The wedgies are working as Bush's base starts straggling back home. It's not a trend yet. But don't be surprised to see his numbers climb moving towards the mid-terms.
Iraq 911

An emergency call is made in Iraq to their 911:
One resident dialed 130, the government's emergency number. "The Mahdi Army has attacked Amiriyah," he told a dispatcher.

"The Mahdi Army are not terrorists like you," came the response.
Imagine here in the United States calling 911 when you are being attacked by, oh say, Jerry Falwell and having the operator say something like, "the hell with you. We don't help Catholics".

Heckuva job Bushie. Iraq is much better off without Saddam Hussein.
Administration Detained?
There's an awful lot being written about the recent Supremes decision in the Hamdan case regarding the administration's handling of detainees. The observations range from "the administration has had it's ears pinned back and will comply" to "the administration will find a way to ignore the ruling"

My initial reaction was the later. But the more I think about it the less sure I am. Bush is in a greatly weakened position (finally) and Congressional Republicans are very nervous about the mid-terms. Certainly the administration isn't going to rock the boat with any new initiatives or challenges until after the election. But will the administration actually comply with the Hamdan decision in spirit and in fact?

I don't know if they will or won't. I do know that we should assume they won't. Giving Bush the benefit of the doubt has been a consistent loser since before his electi ..... ah ..... appointment. To approach anything they do with anything other than total skepticism is a big mistake in my estimation. A few years ago, that skepticism would have left one looking like a wingnut. Today it looks like good citizenship.

Another thought. I think the time is getting ripe for another al Qaeda attack in America. The last thing bin Laden wants is for the radical right in America to lose strength. As long as the neocons nutbars were running strong, bin Laden didn't have to do anything as we self-immolated. However, with the forces of reason gaining ground in American public opinion, it's time to rock the boat again.

Whaddya thing? Around Sept. or October?
Best Medical Care
Not from private sources, but from the V.A.
A government run agency providing better health care than private companies. Hard to imagine.
The full article is here at Business Week.
Iraqi Point of View
It fills me with rage to hear about it and read about it. The pity I once had for foreign troops in Iraq is gone. It's been eradicated by the atrocities in Abu Ghraib, the deaths in Haditha and the latest news of rapes and killings. I look at them in their armored vehicles and to be honest- I can't bring myself to care whether they are 19 or 39. I can't bring myself to care if they make it back home alive. I can't bring myself to care anymore about the wife or parents or children they left behind. I can't bring myself to care because it's difficult to see beyond the horrors. I look at them and wonder just how many innocents they killed and how many more they'll kill before they go home. How many more young Iraqi girls will they rape?

Why don't the Americans just go home? They've done enough damage and we hear talk of how things will fall apart in Iraq if they 'cut and run', but the fact is that they aren't doing anything right now. How much worse can it get? People are being killed in the streets and in their own homes- what's being done about it? Nothing. It's convenient for them- Iraqis can kill each other and they can sit by and watch the bloodshed- unless they want to join in with murder and rape.

from Baghdad Burning, the blog of a young Iraqi woman in that city.

"The Iraqis will welcome us with open arms and greet us with flowers."—Dick Cheney, April 2003.
Blood for Oil
The news media in this country sell us a certain viewpoint about the war. The news media in the Arab world presents a different side:
The U.S. has never been that keen or caring about democracy and freedom. On the contrary, America’s interference in any country, diplomatically or militarily had always been aimed at building big business with stolen resources, using the labour of poor or enslaved people. This isn't ancient history, the U.S. is using the very same policy up till now, best example is Iraq.

What the U.S. President failed or intentionally chose not to acknowledge is the reason why Iraqis are willing to die to inflict any harm on the U.S. forces.

It’s because the vast majority of the Iraqi nation now understands that the U.S. forces didn’t come to liberate, but to implement a certain agenda that includes exploiting the Arabs’ resources, especially Iraq’s, and establish military bases in 120 countries. It’s the U.S. continuous attempts to police the world, forcing its policies on other countries’ political systems, ousting governments and placing puppet ones.

When the vast majority of the American nation understands what the U.S. is doing, perhaps we will stop attempting to build an empire.

It has apparently been proven that the girl who was (allegedly) raped and killed by American soldiers was indeed, 14 years old. There had been some dispute about her age ranging from 15 to 25, with the Pentagon pushing the high age.

It's interesting how some media outlets continue to label her a "woman" as opposed to a "girl".
You Could See It Coming ....
Wow .... good news!

The budget deficit is only around $300 billion instead of the projected $420 billion! Bush is crowing like a new daddy about how his tax policies are really working!

Nevermind that he made sure the estimates were pessimistic from the beginning or that being $300 billion under water is "improvement". It's a little like only having brain cancer instead of pancreatic cancer.

But you watch as the media laps up this drivel and talks about "improvement" and "upswing". Meanwhile the stock market and the Fed are telling us that this is the peak of the Bush "boom" in the economy. In other words, tax revenue is likely at a high point for years to come.
The Clinton's Are Getting Busy
"Let’s forget about global warming and talk about flag burning and gay marriage. I don’t know how long you can milk that old cow."

-- Bill Clinton, quoted in the Vail Daily, saying "the Republican strategy is weak." Clinton predicted Democrats "might well win one or more houses" in the midterm elections.
"I hope everybody from Ohio is watching this election like a hawk. Don't let them pull anything over your eyes again."

-- Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), quoted in the Cincinnati Enquirer, "feeding" the theory of Ohio vote tampering.
Live Free or Die!

The New Hampshire Gazette has been around for almost 250 years and they have a great Chickenhawk database!

Go give the Gazette a look.

And on the subject of Chickenhawks, slip on over to Amazon and check out
AWOL : The Unexcused Absence of America's Upper Classes from Military Service -- and How It Hurts Our Country.
Quote of the Day
"The Taliban are gone. The al Qaeda are gone."—Donald Rumsfeld in 2002, speaking of Afghanistan.
Monday, July 10, 2006
Baskets and Eggs
In celebration of the swearing-in of Henry Paulson to be Treasury Secretary today, I just want to remind you all of exactly why a high-powered Wall Street businessman would take a job as a Bush lapdog.
The Christian Assault Team
The Alliance Defense Fund:

"They're not for some form of generic religious freedom. They're for Christian superiority, that Christians take over the courts," said Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. "They are living in this fantasy world where the majority religion, Christianity, is claimed to be literally under attack."
"We're certainly stretched. I feel I could put a hundred attorneys to work tomorrow," said McCaleb, who said the ADF files one to two cases a week and is deeply involved in 80 to 100 open cases at any one time. He calls this a "pivotal time" in U.S. history.

This just scares the crap out of me. I suppose the nation will belong to those who organize and work together. Like I said, this scares the crap out of me.
If this doesn't scare you, it should. Perhaps you are thinking, 'that doesn't sound so threatening'. Maybe not... until you reframe the issue. Imagine Muslims organizing to promote their beliefs in the courtroom. Does that make you uncomfortable? If so, you have a better understanding of how many of us feel, those of us who are not Christian. Our founding fathers knew what they were doing when they built in a separation of church and state. They knew two things: that absolute power corrupts absolutely and when two or more are gathered in His name, you have politics.
As Marc Maron says, wake up sheeple.
Right On, Sister
While I don't have much use for religion, this Catholic nun hits the nail square on the head:
In those places, I forget for a moment that in the United States I live behind a wall that the world dare not penetrate. I forget for a while that we are a city under siege. I forget that I am going in and out of an armed camp called “the land of the free, the home of the brave.”

Instead of working with moderate governments and the world community, instead of courting public opinion and international support, instead of trying to understand the U.S. image around the world and working to change it, instead of asking why gleeful children danced in the streets when the Twin Towers fell, instead of doing something positive to correct it, we fed right into it. We did the frontier thing and began to kill people ourselves. As in “That’ll show ’ em who’s boss.” Except that it hasn’t.

So what has it done?

By defining the attack on the Twin Towers as the declaration of global war, it has made global war a reality. As a result, it provides an excuse for any authoritarian government to call its dissenters “terrorists” and suppress them. So much for the freedom of speech we like to say we’re seeding around the world.

I really like Joan Chittister.

Sunday, July 09, 2006
A Coupla Sunday Hits
Just a couple of things rattling around the internets today. And a rant .....

First, Bobo is at it again.
In his most recent column, he decides to show all kinds of concern for liberals as they fight it out over Joementum and Ned Lamont. Bobo is quite worried about that dynamite throwing rabble that is supporting Lamont, and it's terrible impact on the staid Democratic Party (oh my!). Of course he never shows that kind of concern when the Republicans fight it out (Spectre almost lost in the Pennslyvania primary, .... hello?).

The most salient point in the above article is that people are actually paying to have access to Bobo's writings, which are simply a regurgitation of the conservative narrative about those wacky, wild-eyed internet liberals. Shoot, anyone could have gotten that same narrative about three weeks ago on any number of conservative blockhead blogs for free!

The second highlight is how many in the media just don't get blogs. I know I know. It's been written about a thousands times already. But I just want to say it again. Let me write is very clearly just in case anyone who misunderstands happens to wander by:

1) Anyone can start a blog. ANYONE!

2) Once started, it's yours.

3) Because it's yours, you can do anything you want with your blog. This includes censoring, banning commentors, putting up wacky pictures, ...... anything!

4) A blog is not a newspaper, magazine, tee vee show, or any other licensed media outlet.

5) Blogs are not journalism. They are pure editorial or whatever the blogger wants it to be.

And finally,

6) If you don't like a particular blog, don't look at it! There are plenty of others where that one came from.

Because a blog gets a lot of traffic does, indeed, give that blog certain leverage. But the leverage comes from the information being put on the blog creating a center of gravity amongst it's readers, not because of a particular individual (Markos? anyone). I know to the pundit stars, who preen themselves in the green room prior to their multiple media appearances, this is a foreign concept. They've deluded themselves into thinking that they are the stars and it's about them, not the information. And perhaps they have actually become stars, not a happy development in my mind. However, unlike these self-important pearl clutchers, blogs go back to true citizen participation with the idea being paramount.

So. When Ned Lamond draws a couple of hundred thousand dollars online while Joementum gets less than a thousand, it's not because a blogger "star" has endorsed Lamont. It's because a lot of people, yes, ordinary people (unlike the wacky, wild-eyed descriptions you often hear) have put their money where their mouths are. And as more and more people access the internet and participate, blogs will increasing become a barometer of the political climate.

End of rant.

Update: Digby slowly, and very carefully, explains to Democrats who are critical of the Lamont insurgency exactly why Joementum is in trouble. Do you think they'll get it?

Saturday, July 08, 2006
Sat Fun
Go check out the battle of the bands. I think Atrios wins, particularly with the second one. Where's the kitchen sink?

Follow the links for some music fun to deaden the senses.
Friday, July 07, 2006
Inconvenient Truth
Just went and saw An Inconvenient Truth. It really is a must see, even for the chorus. Great info presented in an entertaining way.

Also quite an insight into Al Gore.

If only..........
Quote of the Day
"When [he’s] debating a Republican, it’s like a tea party, but when he’s debating a Democrat he shows his passionate juices."

-- Connecticut U.S. Senate candidate Ned Lamont (D), quoted by MSNBC, on Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT), referring to Lieberman’s differing styles in his 2000 Vice Presidential debate with Dick Cheney and his primary debate last night.
Freedom of Religion
only applies to Christianity. A Georgia woman was fired after she disclosed she is Wiccan.

Sommers, an accounts analyst, said when she requested a day off for a Wiccan holiday, she was told by a manager to keep her religion "to herself." She said another supervisor who knew she practiced Wicca called her a devil worshipper in front of other employees.
I'll bet the other employees get Christmas off, speaking of keeping your religion to yourself. And Wiccans don't even believe in the devil, which just shows the depth of ignorance in this country, Georgia in particular. Then again, we are talking about a state that can only manage a 55% high school graduation rate.

Spreading the Hate
This should further endear us to those in the Middle East. Hate groups are infiltrating the military.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks racist and right-wing militia groups, estimated that the numbers could run into the thousands, citing interviews with Defense Department investigators and reports and postings on racist Web sites and magazines.

"We've got Aryan Nations graffiti in Baghdad," the group quoted a Defense Department investigator as saying in a report to be posted today on its Web site, "That's a problem."

No kidding, that's a problem. The American media probably won't pick up on this to any great degree but you can bet it will be covered in the Arab world. It will also come home to roost:

The report said that neo-Nazi groups like the National Alliance, whose founder, William Pierce, wrote "The Turner Diaries," the novel that was the inspiration and blueprint for Timothy J. McVeigh's bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, sought to enroll followers in the Army to get training for a race war.

Dear Mr. President
I had not heard this popular song from Pink before today. Go listen. It shows me that young people are paying attention and gives me a little bit of hope.
Dear Mr. President.

Shamelessly lifted from Desi over at Mia Culpa.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
General Debate
I agree with the Digby assessment of the Lamont-Joementum debate. If you just tuned in without knowing the players, you would have to assume it was a general election debate between a Democrat and a Republican.
Box Her
Since I've been in a letter writing mood, here's another sent today:
Dear Senator Boxer,

I have been a voericious supporter of yours. You have taken some tough stands for some tough issues. For that I thank you.

I am writing to encourage you to not actively support Senator Joe Lieberman. Senator Lieberman has been a strong supporter on the side of many conservative positions (not just the Iraq war) and has demonstrated contempt for the Democratic party with his recent decision to petition as an independent.

I encourage you to either a) support Ned Lamont or at a minimum, b) stay completely out of the Connecticut primary.

Rumor has it that Senator Boxer is considering, or has committed, to going to Connecticut and campaigning for Boltin' Joe. Boxer has been a strong supporter of liberal causes and the netroots in the past. If you're of a mind, perhaps you would like to drop her a line expressing your view.
I'm Lovin' It
Or not.

LONDON (AFP) - People in Britain view the United States as a vulgar, crime-ridden society obsessed with money and led by an incompetent president whose Iraq policy is failing, according to a newspaper poll.
As Americans prepared to celebrate the 230th anniversary of their independence on Tuesday, the poll found that only 12 percent of Britons trust them to act wisely on the global stage. This is half the number who had faith in the Vietnam-scarred White House of 1975.
In answer to other questions, a majority of the Britons questions described Americans as uncaring, divided by class, awash in violent crime, vulgar, preoccupied with money, ignorant of the outside world, racially divided, uncultured and in the most overwhelming result (90 percent of respondents) dominated by big business.

Someone in the world is paying attention, it just isn't us. Then again, when a country can only manage to graduate 69% of its students on average, it's no wonder intellectual curiosity is not high on the average citizen's list of attributes.
Atrios Says It
Post of the day:
Look, people, opposition to Lieberman isn't just about the Iraq war. It's about him "compromising" Democratic principles when he didn't have to, it's about selling out women, it's about thinking "bipartisanship" involves selling our your party so that Tim Russert will pat you on the head for your bravery, it's about dishonesty on things like the Bankruptcy Bill, and now it's about his contempt for the Democratic voters in his own state. And, yes, it's about the fact that the senator has indeed "lost the plot" on the Iraq war.

The Iraq war is more than enough, not simply for his initial support but for his subsequent slam on people who dared criticize Bush over it, but there are so many reasons to oppose Joe.

No need to choose just one.