Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The U.S. does torture

The Bush administration has aggressively pursued the power to torture since their bottoms first warmed oval office chairs. The documentary record is so extensive in this regard it renders protestations to the contrary "quaint".

The United States of America, with the president Bush at its' helm, does torture.


Nothing says Power like the unfettered ability to Torture. It is the Unholy Grail of unchecked and unbalanced authority.

A detailed discussion here

The object of torture is torture.

The power to torture is the power of the tyrant.


Governments that set up illegaly-operated concentration camps like Guantanamo usually turn into tyrannies.

It is decidedly un-American, and a story like this is a stake in the heart of America's identity.

Do you think of torture when you see the Statue of Liberty in New York's harbor?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Justice on sale

Corporatism is corporate power replacing government power, which effectively erodes civilian power. Mussolini thought corporatism better described fascist Italy.

If you look at the FISA story it is fundamentally a story about AT&T and other "TelComs" purchasing immunity from elected officials in order to escape a court decision:

Details here

When the rule of law is up for sale then we no longer have a Justice system to be proud of. If this kind of thing isn't reigned in, we won't have much of a democracy either.

I have said repeatedly the one word which defines democrats at their best is Justice. When they fight for social Justice or economic Justice or the rule of law they are fulfilling their raison d'etre. If Harry Reid is mixed up in this then he is setting the worst possible example for his party.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Cheney sez...

"Our country, and the entire international community, cannot stand by as a terror-supporting state [Iran] fulfills its grandest ambitions."

US vice president Cheney
Sunday, Oct. 21

Edwards said...

Here is what John Edwards had to say about Hillary Clinton's vote cast in support of the Kyl-Lieberman amendment:

Evidently, Senator Clinton and I learned two very different lessons from the Iraq war. I learned that if you give President Bush even an inch of authority, he will use it to sanction a war. As the New Yorker recently reported, the administration is actively preparing plans to attack Iran. Despite this clear evidence, Congress recently passed a bill to declare Iran's Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, a bill Senator Clinton supported and that takes this nation one step closer to war. While Senator Clinton tries to argue both sides of the issue, the truth is her vote opens the door for the president to attack Iran. I believe we must not allow the president to use force against Iran when so many other diplomatic and economic options are still available.


Leadership when it matters is the only kind that is relevant.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dumbledore's closet

Here is a saucy bit of news for those who appreciate JK Rowling's Harry Potter novels:

Dumbledore, the Merlin-like character whom is headmaster of Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry, is gay.

JK sez...

I'll bet there was a moment of inhalation that would have sucked a hot-air baloon out of the sky.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Is Blackwater a terrorist organization?

When I look at the way that Blackwater comports itself in Iraq, stealing from the Iraqi government, staying when asked to leave, gunning down 17 Iraqi citizens, and inspiring riots in Fallujah, I'm left wondering what the Bush administration has unleashed.

Should the international community declare Blackwater a terrorist organization? If not, why not?

What separates Blackwater from Hamas?

What if the US decides to leave Iraq but Blackwater decides to stay, or vice-versa?

Blackwater appears to be facilitating the practice of torture flights, a practice that disgraces America and weakens our alliances with Western nations.

Who holds Blackwater accountable?

How dependable are Blackwater loyalties?

Can the US be made to pay retribution for Blackwater actions?

Will Blackwater turn its guns on American citizens once the war is over?

This isn't a slippery slope it is a cliff-leap.

Red Sox headed to World Series

The Red Sox eliminated the Cleveland Indians in game 7 of their division series and are now World Series bound.

They will be facing the Colorado Rockies in a 7 game series that starts Wednesday evening.

And the Red Sox closer looks like this:

Johnathan Papelbon

So there is optimism in Boston.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

To the Yankees

I would just like to say to the New York Yankees:

I know you feel you are the center of the baseball universe and that the other teams revolve around you,


Please hold your baseball news, like that surrounding Joe Torre, until after the playoffs are done.

Have some class!

Friday, October 19, 2007


The closest thing I've read to Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist is a book by Neil Gaiman called Neverwhere.

It has legendary villains and makes heroes of those that fall through society's cracks. It takes the phrase "London Underground" to new depths, creating a whole world out of forgotten subway stops, abandoned sewer projects, and also by taking names like "Earl's Court" quite literally.

This book is, "A lightning strike of imaginative power", sez I, "and fans of Dickens are sure to love it".

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Is Information Shock Prevention?

Naomi Kline, a Canadian journalist, has written a new book called "The Shock Doctrine" which dissects the economic ideas of Milton Friedman. His ideas seem to be self-justification for unbridled greed, which can only be devotedly followed when one closes his heart and mind to the suffering caused by them.

Alfonso Cuaron has produced a short film with Naomi that illustrates the gist of the idea. It's emotional power to length quotient is exceedingly high.

Naomi believes that information is shock prevention. I, however, disagree that information is sufficient therapy in a world where the love of Truth grows colder every day. I used to think that was so until George W. Bush was reelected by a majority of American voters in the "information age".

I think the diagnosis is unbridled greed, which would imply a prescription of extraordinary Generosity. Simple human kindness is missing from these schemes.

Simple human kindness.

And the pop song asks: "Where did all the good people go?"

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A capable spy

If the president Bush were a traitor or a spy you'd have to admire his competence. He took over a country at peace that was "paying down the defecit too fast" and proceeded to turn it into a world-wide target of political Islam while simultaneously weakening relationships with our allies.

That is a pretty good one-two punch to America's gut, and taking steps to crush the laws which make us free and the ideas which make us strong, is another effective blow.

In the meantime he has built up a russian-style network of ring-kissing cronies and appointed them to positions well beyond the grasp of their talents. This has meant a decrease in our capacity to respond to emergencies on American soil at a time when a good argument for doing the opposite exists.

He has also, curiously and on more than one occasion, taken steps to turn the fury and focus of our armed forces away from Osama's network.

Bill Scher over at Liberal Oasis has a post detailing many such moves:

Defying Pa's Plans

And Peter Bergen reminds us of the counter-productive nature of many current policies:

How Osama got away

And then there is this curious story:

Leaking ship of state

When one considers that most of these events are not the result of inaction, but instead of consistent action, one begins to wonder if this is incompetent leadership or competent betrayal.

At least that is so when the one in question is I.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

An obscene veto

Did you know that, "according to a recent Georgetown University poll, 9 in 10 Americans - including 83 percent of self-identified Republicans - support an expansion of the children’s health insurance program".

Did you know that George W. Bush vetoed such expansion on the grounds that government would succeed and that would be bad?


Paul Krugman tells you all you wanted to know about Bushian (conservative?) ideology but were afraid to ask:

An Immoral Philosophy

When the president Bush's policies produce more sick children at higher cost to the taxpayer and conflict with what the vast majority of Americans want, then how can the president Bush justify his actions to conservatives?

If there were credible republican support for these measures then they would sail through Congress and handily defeat a veto.

It must be, then, that republican lawmakers are more interested in crony-capitalism than cost control, payola schemes than federalist memes.

Where have traditional conservatives, by which I mean socially conscious and fiscally conservative voters, gone?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Two books

With the weather turning colder and the nights growing longer I thought you might be looking for something to read.

I have recently read two books that I enjoyed very much. The first was...

The Last Town on Earth
, by Thomas Mullen

It is a novel that describes what happens to a small town that tries to cut itself off from the outside world during the Spanish influenza of 1918. As unlikely as this might seem, it is a thrilling page-turner of a book.

The second book was...

Flight, by Sherman Alexie

It is a book about what it means to find a home where you belong, as well as a tale of seething anger transformed.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Can I get an Amen?

If you watched "The Corporation" you might remember one of the businessmen interviewed by the name of Ray Anderson. He runs a successful carpeting company.

When he looked at the impact his company, Interface, had on the environment what he came up with shocked him. He then set a goal for turning his company into one that is "a sustainable operation that takes nothing out of the earth that cannot be recycled or quickly regenerated, and that does no harm to the biosphere."

He is a good part of the way to his goal and, thanks to the efficiency efforts required to turn his company astern, it is good for his bottom line.

James Carville often chastised democratic candidates for opposing without proposing, and I often feel the weight of that challenge on my shoulders.

Isn't it uplifting to find that following your beliefs is good for the earth and for People and for business too? Of course, that makes it all the more damning that modern companies largely fight EPA regulation reflexively, but a movement requires those that lead by example.

My hat is off to Ray Anderson for daring to act on those new-found beliefs at no small risk. His efforts may serve to blaze the way for others.

Full Story Here

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Woody's Devotion

Woody Guthrie couldn't stand Irving Berlin. He thought his songs were too sentimental, too fancy. Most of all he seemed to dislike "God Bless America".

In defiance of Irving he wrote his own devotional song to America and he called it, "This Land is Your Land".

Here is a terrific version of Woody's classic sung by another defiant one, Bruce Springstein, who calls it "the greatest song ever written about America ... that gets right to the heart of the promise about what America is supposed to be about."

Here is a verse that Woody wrote and Bruce didn't sing

As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no tress passin'
But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!

That in itself is interesting, since most people don't sing this verse (but Bruce did):

In the squares of the city - In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office - I see my people
And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin'
If this land's still made for you and me.

Bruce has been speaking out and speaking up for a good long time. The line in the video which caught my attention is, "With a country, just like with people, it's easy to let the best of yourself slip away."

Plato urged us to, "Remember the Good". Shakespeare said, "To thine own self be True." Bruce tells us, "It's easy to let the best of yourself slip away."

What has always united Americans has been our Constitution and our Bill of Rights. It represents "the Good" in this land of ours. Here's hoping it doesn't slip away.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What goes up...

It is said that what goes up must come down.

Last month, six W80-1 nuclear-armed AGM-129 advanced cruise missiles went up from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., and came down in Barksdale AFB in Louisiana.

Did six come down?

This news story reports that it was 5 nuclear warheads: See Here

Are we missing one?

In this analysis of the event Explosive Implications the care with which these bombs are handled is elaborated. That would seem to make answering this crucial question as simple as the math involved.

Curiously, "Six members of the US Air Force who were involved in the Minot AFB incident, have died".

Details here

Here are the details of those six whose tales will not be told:

1. Airman First Class Todd Blue (Cause of death not released)
2. Airman Adam Barrs (killed in a crash)
3&4. A "married couple" from the base (killed in a crash)
5. First Lt. Weston Kissel, 28, a Minot Air Force Base bomber pilot (killed in a crash)
6. Air Force captain John Frueh (body found near Badger Peak in northeast Skamania County, Washington)

Move away folks. Nothing to see here...

Monday, October 08, 2007

Not a pain gun

Raytheon has developed a gun which uses directed energy to cause excruciating pain for distances of up to a half mile. As I understand it, the agony ray emits micro-waves attuned to human nerve-ending frequency. This induces a burning sensation without the bother of a flame and it leaves no mark.

Details here

When I think of the skill, money, and energy being used by Man to harm men as contrasted against presidential vetos of healthcare for children I can only wonder at our fate.

Why are people so single-minded and tireless in their pursuit of inflicting suffering?

Thursday, October 04, 2007


Under the leadership of George W. Bush we are accumulating the weaknesses of our heretofore enemies. These weaknesses include: a compliant press, a frightened populace, a crony economy, break-down of the rule of law, state-torture, and criminalization of trivial offenses. These traits are what made totalitarian nations like Russia weak.

Weak and laughably incompetent.

Always in totalitarian regimes like the one we are being gaily led to by the pied piper press, there is a stultifying ideology which requires the constant "weeding" of the infidels, insurgents, protesters or what have you.

In America's case the harmful ideology is free market fundamentalism like the type preached at the Chicago School of Economics.

See this video for more info.

As the election for 2008 warms up I find I have one essential question.

Who will put a stop to the destructive march towards fascism initiated by George W. Bush? Who will roll back the policies and rescue government from the bathtub drowning?

We have enjoyed a hybrid economy in America for so long we have no idea how bad life can be when ideology comes first and the lives of citizens comes second.

A small taste of this life is being expressed in Washington, where, the president Bush stands ready to defend ideology with a veto that harms children by blocking their access to health-care.

A big taste of this life is expressed as the collapse of Enron, Tyco, or the influence of Jack Abramoff.

This ideology which puts the profit of a few cronies ahead of the lives of children is disgusting, perverted, and crass and people should say so. It is mean, petty, and especially heartless behavior coming from a pampered prince of privilege like the president Bush.

The trouble with the Chicago School of Economics ideology is to organize society such that money concentrates and people dilute is to invite misery.

Are totalitarian societies happy places?

Are fascist societies prosperous long?

Are totalitarian societies conducive to the expansion of knowledge?

Are totalitarian markets accessible to small businesses?

Are totalitarian societies good places to raise children?

I sometimes worry that too few see where America is headed to save it. This market fundamentalism is perhaps better described as Crapitalism, since the greatest wealth engine humanity ever created is turning to crap because of it. You need a culture of dishonesty and corporate protectionism to keep crapitalism afloat.

As a way of life it is crap!

There is nothing wrong with honest business, big or little, but dishonest business is a cancer to humanity. Without honest accounting investors are bilked by CEOs through balooning salaries and golden parachutes.

It is harmful to people and harmful to society and the only agency strong enough to reign it in is government.

Will this video come to represent America's future? Pax Americana

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

How high's the debt Mama?

How high's the debt, mama?
Two trillion high and risin'
How high's the debt, papa?
Two trillion high and risin'

Two trillion bucks don't seem that bad
Let's keep spendin' money and just be glad
Let's keep the bubble growin' higher and higher,
Two trillion high and risin'


How high's the debt, mama?
Ten trillion high and risin'
How high's the debt, papa?
Ten trillion high and risin'

Let's keep on borrwin' from the Commie Chinese
Even though they got us down on our knees
The factories are closin' but outsourcin' is good
Ten trillion high and risin'

Well it's ten trillion high and risin'

R.I.P. Johnny Cash

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Union Jack will leave Iraq

I've always felt sorry for the way the US abused its' trust with the British people in order to entangle them in our Iraq folly, and all the more so for the way they sturdily stayed on trying to make lemonade from rocks.

They are at the end of their patience, it seems, and have vowed to leave Iraq by Christmas.

Story here

They should not be allowed to leave without a grateful thank-you from America. Our stupidity placed them in peril, as the London bombing attests, and it would have been quite easy for them to abandon us to our folly.

Easy, but perhaps not British.

I offer my thanks to the British people, not for reinforcing our mistakes, but for refusing to abandon us to them.

Monday, October 01, 2007


"Rarely is the question asked, is our children learning?" [1]

"Childrens do learn!" [2]

[1] President Bush, 2001, at Washington TV/Radio Correspondents dinner

[2] President Bush, Wednesday September 26, 2007, addressing New York school children

Foot Quotes

"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge"

Charles Darwin