August 2007 archive

Four at Four

Four at Four is an afternoon briefing of four (yes only four) important or interesting stories in the news. Please look for it Monday through Friday somewhere between 4 p.m. Eastern to 4 p.m. Pacific.

  1. There is still a bright spot in the deteriorating relationship between the U.S. and Russia. According to The New York Times, The U.S. and Russia are cooperating in destroying arms.

    In a little more than 2 minutes, the missile component burned itself out, the latest piece of Soviet-era nuclear hardware to be destroyed under an American taxpayer-funded effort known as Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction.

    The brainchild of Senator Richard G. Lugar and Sam Nunn, then also a senator, the effort, which had its 15th anniversary this week, has grown into one of the principal areas of enduring collaboration between Russia and the United States.

    Programs under its umbrella have helped Russia and other former Soviet states account for, secure and destroy nuclear, chemical and biological materials and the equipment related to their delivery as weapons, though some elements have suffered delays and bureaucratic resistance, and a renewed climate of secrecy in Russia has made negotiations and access difficult at some of the weapons or material storage sites.

    Still, in all, nearly 7,000 nuclear warheads have been deactivated, and silos, mobile launchers, submarines and strategic bombers that were once integral to their deployment and potential use have been destroyed. In addition, the effort has helped to safeguard highly enriched uranium from research reactors and nuclear power plants, and blend it down to a state of low enrichment — still useful for generating electricity, but not as material for a nuclear device.

  2. Today is a bad day for whales. Reuters is reporting, that a U.S. appeals court ends ban on Navy sonar tests. The lawsuit was brought by the Natural Resources Defense Council because they claim the Navy’s “sonar, which shoots bursts of sound, is so loud it kills whales.” In the opinion, the split three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said whales are come second to America’s “defense”:

    “The public does indeed have a very considerable interest in preserving our natural environment and especially relatively scarce whales,” Judge Andrew Kleinfeld wrote. “But it also has an interest in national defense. We are currently engaged in war, in two countries… The safety of the whales must be weighed, and so must the safety of our warriors. And of our country.”

    The navies of landlocked Afghanistan and civil-war embroiled Iraq must be an enormous threat to America.

  3. The Federal Reserver doesn’t look like it’s going to cover the risky bets of the mortgage speculators. The Washington Post reports that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says the Fed won’t let markets disrupt U.S. economy.

    But Bernanke also made clear that the Fed has no desire to bail out investors who made foolish bets. “It is not the responsibility of the Federal Reserve — nor would it be appropriate — to protect lenders and investors from the consequences of their financial decisions,” Bernanke said, an apparent rebuke of critics on Wall Street who would like the Fed to cut its federal funds rate, a decision that would likely ease some of the locked up markets for home mortgage and other debt.

  4. The Independent has a great story about Anthony Battersby and Rachel Feilden, a couple of Brits, who have revived a historic watermill in Tellisford, England to generate electricity. “Since going live in January, Battersby and Feilden have sent 140,000 kilowatt (kW) hours to the National Grid. That’s enough annually to power 60 homes and, thanks to a range of green energy premiums, the couple are in line to earn £25,000 a year from selling their electricity, not to mention saving 100 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.”

    The article suggests that “if small hydroelectric projects on all Britain’s streams and rivers could be tapped it would be possible to produce 10,000 gigawatt hours of electricity – or 3 per cent of our total energy needs.” There are likely to be old mills in the United States, especially in New England, that could be similarly restored and converted for green hydropower.

So, what else is happening?

Between the Rock and the Hard Streets

When the truth is found to be lies
and all the joy within you dies
don’t you want somebody to love
don’t you need somebody to love
wouldn’t you love somebody to love
you better find somebody to love

–Somebody to Love (Jefferson Airplane/Darby Slick)

I heard the music.  Grace Slick spoke to me.  The words tore at my heart.  I was living those lies.  And it seemed that my options were few.

Remember the War Czar? The Press doesn’t. For a Reason.

I think one of the bigget glaring omissions about the GAO report is that the War Czar will not be presenting it. Remember that guy, Lieutenant General Douglas Lute? I mean, come on, he was just made War Zar in June. President Bush decided a single figure was needed to oversee all military campaigns abroad, which I know, use to be called Commander in Chief. But shouldn’t the dude he just created to oversee the Iraq Occupation be the one to present the GAO report on Iraq?

Of course not, that is why it is being ghost written for General Petraeus, not the freaking War Czar. Oh so how quickly we have forgotten. But the War Czar was meant to be forgotten because he had one sole purpose, which is why no one else wanted the job.

He was created, as was his title, to be a trial balloon for the draft.

… bigger balls than Dick Cheney

Dear Congressional Dems… let me lay it out for you in bullet points
maybe it’s easier to see it this way:

– November 2006 said NO to Bush
– the polls say NO to Bush
– the low approval of Congress for NOT saying NO to Bush says NO to Bush
– the retired military brass say NO to Bush

also posted at dKos

Open Thread

New Rule: All subject lines must now begin with….heh

You may now start slowly and subtly spreading the word… If you have one or two people you want to invite…go ahead!

I am going ‘off the air’ on Saturday afternoon in prep for the move, but if all goes well I will be back on on Monday. Since I won’t be on Dkos much either, I am going to soon change my sig line to Shhhhh….with a link to DD.

ADVISORY! My absence means that neither OTB or I will be around….she gets back on the third. For this reason I AM leery of getting a whole bunch of people here…if for no other reason than only ek will be around to handle any problems. So please do keep it to just a few people that you trust….and hints and rumors!

The saints of the ditches

also posted at Truth & Progress

(apologies to Casey Neill)

(Ammiq wetland, also at bottom – photos reproduced with permission of A Rocha.)

I began looking into the subject of this essay almost a year ago and it is still mostly unfinished just as it was then, crucial research not yet done and important questions not answered. Like everything else this little project was interrupted by personal tragedy, the sudden unexpected death of my dearest friend of some 30 years, and the aftermath. But somehow it seems appropriate now.

As a child I was regularly shooed off to Sunday school at the only church in our tiny little town. Probably just to get rid of me for a while, but maybe also in some vague hope that it would improve my behavior. As far as I know, neither of my parents ever set foot in the place.

It was a pretty gentle Christianity, heavy on parables and light on hellfire. The texts didn’t really take in my case, not in the intended sense of conversion anyway. But something else eventually did.

Two teachers in particular left an impression that would take me many years to understand and to appreciate. A husband and wife team. They recited and exhorted. They produced little plays and arranged trips to church camps in the mountains and on the coast and served as chaperones. And paid themselves for the kids who couldn’t afford the minimal expenses involved. In the wintertime, they found ways to distribute food to families that had fallen on hard times without embarassing them.

They once organized a cleanup campaign. Not for the church grounds; someone was paid to do that. For the rest of the town. I wound up on ditch detail, removing the beer bottles and assorted trash from the old mill ditch that ran through town. In the old days, it was the water source for fire trucks equipped with pumps. Now, it was a trash collector, but one full of tadpoles, wild iris, and crawdads that grew to enormous size in the absence of predator fish.

Do this because you know it is right.

Your reward is in heaven. Ask for no other.

Looking back years later, I saw the great and essential gift they had really given me: a living example of the difference one person of pure intention could make in the life of others and in the community at large. I came to think of my unwitting secular heroes as the Saints of the ditch.

Senator Reid: It’s Not A Compromise, It’s A Capitulation

Dear Senator Reid,

Who was it that, in February, said:

This war is a serious situation. It involves the worst foreign policy mistake in the history of this country.

Oh. Right. It was you.

Who was it that, in February, also said:

There can be no purely military solution in Iraq.


At a time when President Bush is asking our troops to shoulder a larger and unsustainable burden policing a civil war, his failed policies have left us increasingly isolated in Iraq and less secure here at home.

Oh. Right. That was also you.

And who was it, in July, who was reported to have said: 

…he now saw ending the war as a moral duty, and even if the Senate again falls short… would turn again and again to Iraq until either the president relents or enough Republicans join Democrats to overrule Mr. Bush.

Yes. Again. You.

So, what has changed? Why are you now saying you will “compromise” with the Republicans, not to actually end the word, but to just put some meaningless babble into the next bill that will continue it? Could it be all the good news that’s recently come out of Iraq?

The September Hearings and Cheney’s Minority Report

The upcoming hearings with General Petraeus might turn out to be interesting in ways no one expected.

Reading recent news stories, one feels one is back in the 80’s, listening to Reagan-era lighter-than-air justifications for the funding of “Freedom Fighters” in Nicaragua.

In an interview on Aug. 18, General Petraeus said that with ill-equipped Iraqi security forces confronting soaring violence across the country in 2004 and 2005, he made a decision not to wait for formal tracking systems to be put in place before distributing the weapons.

“We made a decision to arm guys who wanted to fight for their country,” General Petraeus said.

If General Petraeus really wants to portray himself as a latter-day Oliver North, he may have justification.  The de-facto man at the top of the current chain-of-command, after all, was a champion of the Congressional minority report on the Iran/Contra hearings.  This minority report rather creatively interpreted the Iran/Contra hearings themselves as an example of Congressional over-reach.

Midnight Cowboying – How to Create a Modern Aristocracy and assorted bullshit

How to Create a Modern Aristocracy

Nothing sets the tone that we are a nation of people instead of a nation of law by having said people steal the election. Also, by having the highest court involved, you can demonstrate to the masses you also have another branch of the trinity of our democracy in your pocket. And for extra style points, appoint your strong man who stopped the democratic process in Florida to the United Nations as an ambassador.

Now have the puppet you installed never veto a single bill and you can demonstrate to the citizens that all three branches, even legislative, are now under the law of a few select people, who are now above them all.

Why We Are Here

I think we are all here because we all believe sincerely that, no matter how much we disagree, and man do we ever disagree, everyone here respects the fact that we all are committed to positive, even progressive change for our country and world.

I believe that I have had a serious policy disagreement with everyone on the planet so it should comes as no surprise that I have had huge disagreements with every poster here and will no doubt have a hell of a lot more of them going forward.

So why am I here? Simple – having disagreed on issues, large and small, with Buhdy, OPOL, Turkana, EK, etc. – I have found that they and I could dust ourselves off and still have fun, respect each other, fight again, and then fight again. And then have some more fun, respect each other and so on.

When Buhdy told me about this site I wanted in. Hell, I insisted on being in. Why? Because it brings back what used to be a staple at daily kos – a community that could fight together, fight each other and play together.

I miss that as much as I miss anything in blogging. I could not get that at Daily Kos for a long time. I know I’ll get it here.

So we will discuss important ideas and issues, organize for important fights, fight important fights amongst each other, but also have fun together. Be a real blogging community. And I have a real confidence that Buhdy, the Zen Dictator, will keep it that way. So I’ll be around a lot. To discuss. To fight. To play. To bond. But mostly to regain that old feeling that I miss, the feeling of being a part of something special – a real political blogging community.

I can’t wait.


Like it or not America, here it comes!

As announced in Grand Moff Texan‘s We Have Four Days, we’re going to war with Iran – and to hell with us if we don’t like it.


“I have a wide stance…”

Tom Delay.

That’s the only Thug Tweety can get to defend Craig.

MSNBC has been running wall to wall with the audio tape playing it over and over again in full.  Their story goes something like this-

Audio of Craig arrest reveals new details
Spokesman denies three-term Idaho lawmaker preparing to quit
NBC News and news services
Updated: 35 minutes ago

WASHINGTON – Sen. Larry Craig denied soliciting an undercover police officer shortly after being arrested in a bathroom at a Minneapolis airport, an audio recording of the arrest revealed.

Craig said on the June 11 recording, released Thursday by the Minneapolis Police Department, that he may have touched Investigative Sgt. Dave Karsnia’s foot with his foot while they were in bathroom stalls.

“You said our feet bumped. I believe they did,” Craig said, adding that he was scooting over. “The next thing I knew, under the bathroom divider comes a card that says ‘Police.'”

If you want to listen, click the video link, they also have a copy of last night’s Olbermann ‘Dragnet’ Re-enactment.

Big day for schadenfreud.

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