March 13, 2008 archive


I’m guessing that tens of millions of people today know the name of the young woman Eliot Spitzer was paying for sex. I’m guessing that no one outside their circles of family, friends, and colleagues knows the names of Kevin S. Mowl and Christopher S. Frost. They are the last two named American servicemen to have been killed in Bush’s Iraq disaster. Mowl died in late February, from wounds suffered in an IED attack. Frost died last week, in a helicopter crash. Thirteen more American service personnel have been killed more recently, but their names have not been released to the public. Three were killed yesterday, in a rocket attack near An Nasiriyah.

We all know about Geraldine Ferraro. We found out about Samantha Power not because she’s an expert on one of the most important issues humanity faces, but because she made some stupid comments to a Scottish reporter. We’ve recently heard more about obscure Canadian embassy officials than we have about the people who are dying in Iraq. Little wonder, then, that support for the war is at the highest level since 2006. Little wonder that more Americans think the number of U.S. casualties is closer to 3,000 than the actual 4,000. The Iraqi people are a little more realistic. As reported by the Associated Press:

In just a week, Baghdad has seen a spate of suicide bombings that have killed scores of Iraqis and five U.S. soldiers – among 12 Americans who have fallen in the line of duty during the past three days in Iraq.

Suddenly, the city is feeling the unease of the period before violence eased partly as a result of the U.S. troop buildup, which is now coming to a close.

“Violence has increased dramatically” over the past few days, said Haitham Ismael, a 33-year-old father of three living in western Baghdad.

After five years of war, Iraqis interviewed said they were not necessarily changing their daily routines. But all said the growing bloodshed was present in their minds, clouding what had until recently been a more hopeful time.

Pony Party….Arrogance

Thursdays,  I  Think  Seriously,  About  Stupid  Shit

Feedback: Special Request!

Hey all!

First off, my personal apologies for not being around the last couple days.  I’m actually in the midst of starting two projects including this one.  The other could make me financially independent, and this week is proving to be a good week for advancing it.  I consider both projects to be very important, so my time is going to them rather than to reading/commenting here.  Again, my apologies.

Second, we’re almost ready to move to the next stage of the GMW project.  If this is new to you, follow that link which will start you in the right direction.  (I’m feeling too lazy to link all the essays.)  Or you can read this really, really short version (pending final approval):

(what is this?) The internet, primarily through blogs, has brought about a communications revolution. Yet the traditional media has maintained their position as information gatekeepers, and they won’t let you hear us.

We can’t bring about change when the media ignores us. We can’t rely on politicians to fix things for us. So we’re through playing nice. We’re done begging for attention. We’re bypassing the media and coming direct to you.

We can solve our problems if we work together. We can make things better when all of us try. All we’re asking for is your help. So we can generate a little Feedback.

Third, yes, we’ve finally got a name!  Feedback.  We think it fits pretty well.

Fourth…the meat.

Four at Four

  1. The Washington Post reports the EPA allowing more polllution-forming ozone than advised. “The Environmental Protection Agency yesterday limited the allowable amount of pollution-forming ozone in the air to 75 parts per billion, a level significantly higher than what the agency’s scientific advisers had urged for this key component of unhealthy air pollution.”

    “Administrator Stephen L. Johnson also said he would push Congress to rewrite the nearly 37-year-old Clean Air Act to allow regulators to take into consideration the cost and feasibility of controlling pollution when making decisions about air quality, something that is currently prohibited by the law. In 2001, the Supreme Court ruled that the government needed to base the ozone standard strictly on protecting public health, with no regard to cost.”

  2. According to The Independent, Disillusioned with the US, Navratilova defects again. “Martina Navratilova has regained Czech nationality more than 30 years after fleeing a Communist regime she now compares favourably to that of her adopted country America under… George Bush.” And The Guardian asks Can the US today really compare with Czechoslovakia in 1975? Here are some of their comparisons:

    Czechoslovakia, 1975: Free healthcare available to all citizens.

    US, 2008: 47 million Americans (16% of the population) have no health insurance. Another 16 million are “underinsured”.

    Czechoslovakia, 1975: Despite an increased standard of living and the widespread availability of material goods, consumerism is failing to placate a population fed up with draconian political controls.

    US, 2008: Despite a rise in the cost of living, consumerism continues to placate a population largely oblivious to the curtailment of its freedoms…

    Czechoslovakia, 1975: Torture, though not officially sanctioned, has become a covert tool of state policy.

    US, 2008: Torture officially sanctioned.

  3. The Christian Science Monitor reports China’s human rights rating is upgraded by the U.S. State Department. China is no longer on the State Department’s list of the world worst countries for human rights violations.

    The State Department did not wipe China’s slate clean, saying in the report that “China’s overall human rights record remains poor.” But instead of placing it among the world’s worst offenders, it shifted China’s listing to: “authoritarian countries that are undergoing economic reform [and] have experienced rapid social change but have not undertaken democratic political reform and continue to deny their citizens basic human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

    Ironic, eh? When “asked at a press conference Tuesday to explain why China was no longer on the list of worst offenders, Jonathan Farrar, acting assistant secretary of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, skirted the question.”

  4. Finally, McClatchy Newspapers reports that it isn’t just running up the cost of food to make biodiesel and ethanol, but Energy and water demands are on collision course.

    water dropsIt takes a lot of water to produce energy. It takes a lot of energy to provide water. The two are inextricably linked, and claims on each are rising.

    The water supply is as critical as oil,” said Charles Groat, a geologist and expert on the problem at the University of Texas in Austin.

    In return, “water use requires a tremendous amount of energy,” said Peter Gleick, the president of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security in Oakland, Calif.

    As the United States tries to lower its dependence on foreign oil by producing more energy from domestic sources such as ethanol, however, it’s running low on fresh water.

    Water is needed for mining coal, drilling for oil, refining gasoline, generating and distributing electricity, and disposing waste, Gleick said.

    “The largest use of water is to cool power plants,” he said at a panel of experts on “The Global Nexus of Energy and Water” in Boston last month.

Generational War, Blogging the Future From The Battle Lines

Warning: Sleep deprived rambling rant below, proceed at your own risk!

My friend pinche, in his essay below this one, threatens Generational War. Okay he doesn’t threaten, he observes, or projects, or is thinking wishfully. But we have all seen the Boomer Bashing on the Blogs, and it can be upsetting … to Boomers! It naturally brings out the old reptilian brains fight or flight reflex when stumbled upon. Self-identification is part of being human and having any of your self-identifications threatened brings at least an initial emotional response.

That being said….bring it on, punks!


As a part of the tail end of the last generational war, I have been waiting for the next one for years. because at the end of the day…it is a natural cycle, and a very necessary one. It is one of the best things about Obama’s candidacy, imo.

FISA battle rages on amid distractions.

Crossed-posted at EENR.

While the corporate punditry is distracted by the flap over Geraldine Ferraro’s comments about Barack Obama and the sex scandal plaguing soon-to-be-former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, the battle over FISA continues as U.S. dictator George W. Bush threatens to veto a House bill over the issue of retroactive immunity for the telecommunications companies that helped him break the law.  According to Reuters:

Bush is seeking immunity for telecommunications companies that participated in his warrantless domestic spying program after the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001 and are now facing lawsuits.

The House legislation, scheduled for a vote later on Thursday, would allow phone companies to present their defense behind closed doors in federal court, with the judge given access to confidential government documents about eavesdropping begun after the September 11 attacks.

But the shrub is not satisfied with even this charade, instead selfishly insisting that telecommunications companies be granted full immunity from all lawsuits in addition to immunity from prosecution.  He also demands that all immunity be retroactive, so that he and his co-conspirators may avoid prosecution for past violations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

FISA was originally passed by Congress in 1978, following the revelations of illegal spying by president Richard Nixon during his tenure earlier in the decade.  The thirty-seventh president had resigned in 1974 ahead of impeachment proceedings for having violated the law and the Constitution.  FISA was designed to limit the scope of executive power to eavesdrop on American citizens.

The shrub has claimed unchecked power to spy on Americans in the name of fighting terrorists, but has consistently failed to provide any substantive evidence to show that his violations of FISA have actually prevented terrorist attacks on the U.S.  FISA requires that the federal government obtain warrants from a special court in order to conduct surveillance on foreign nationals.  The FISA court, which grants 99% of all warrants applied for, was amended in 1994 so the federal government may spy for up to seventy-two hours before having to apply for a warrant.

But even this proved insufficient for the shrub’s demands.  An exposé by the New York Times in December of 2005 revealed some of the extent of Bush’s lawbreaking.  Last year, Congress — by then under Democratic Party rule yet still caving in to the shrub’s demands — passed the unlawful “Protect” America Act, which violates the Fourth Amendment right against illegal searches and seizures by the government.  The act expired in early February, but all illegal surveillance ordered in that six-month period is still able to be carried out with no hope of prosecution against abuses.

Last month, Senate capitulation leader Harry Reid succeeded in passing a bill that grants the retroactive immunity demanded by Bush.  It has since been tied up in the House of Representatives, but immunity is likely to pass that body in some form despite public efforts to pressure Congress not to allow any such amnesty.

Amnesty for telecommunications companies means that in any official investigation, persons involved would have no incentive to cooperate with authorities or turn over evidence.  This means that, in the highly unlikely event Congress upholds its Constitutional duty to impeach Bush for high crimes, those in a position to provide testimony or evidence have no reason to cooperate.

America is a socialist country, but just for the rich.

One of the funniest things about being an international socialist in the USA is how people act like we don’t have socialism here. I can hear it now, America is based on capitalism and free trade! It is the marketplace that decides! We are a nation where the rule of law is only secondary to the rule of the marketplace!

Bull and/or shit. America has been a socialist country since Ronald Reagan. While most people remember him as the great leader of modern conservatism, he was nothing more than a big fat socialist. A socialist from the right mind you, but still a socialist.

America only seems to have a problem with socialism coming from the left.

What am I getting on about? Socialism in my view is to use the government, that is of and by the people, to protect the greater good and help those who cannot help themselves. It would require people to think of the government as we, not a they. Not that socialism can’t work with a “they”, but that’s more of an authoritarian flavor, much like we have today.

Never you forget that the greatest trick the Republican Party has ever played on the American people is that they are for small government and free marketplace solutions. This is how they get votes, this is not how they rule.

What goes up must…. Wall St. sinks at the open

Weak economic reports and record prices for oil and gold are causing investors to move out of stocks this morning.

As I mentioned in my last essay, I was moving my money after Tuesday’s 417 point gain out of riskier investments and into safer plays such as bonds.  One can never time the market, but if you have been paying attention, the handwriting was on the wall, and now it the time, imho.

Pony Party, A Different Kind of Ballot

The late Pat Tillman, a former Arizona State linebacker who gave up a professional football career to join the military, is among 19 players up for election to the College Football Hall of Fame for the first time this year.LINK

Docudharma Times Thursday March 13

You’re dangerous ’cause you’re honest

You’re dangerous, you don’t know what you want

Thursday’s Headlines: Pentagon Cites Tapes Showing Interrogations: EPA Tightens Pollution Standards: HK schools close amid flu fears:  Women and children killed in Afghanistan by British air  strike : Bereaved Iraqi mother vows revenge on US : Iran starts ‘treason’ inquiry ahead of poll : Anschluss and Austria’s guilty conscience : ‘Magic is over’ for U.S., says French foreign minister: Museveni refuses to hand over rebel leaders to war crimes court : UN heading for Iraq-style disaster in Darfur, warn officials : Bush pushes Colombia trade pact

Mountain residents bulldozed out of government’s world heritage vision

Locals complain of evictions and threats as officials aim to impress Unesco inspectors

Tania Branigan in Shanxi

The Guardian,

Thursday March 13 2008

The sacred Buddhist mountain of Wutai is renowned for its serenity. But the residents of Taihuai, the town in the middle of the mountain’s five peaks, were angry and tearful as police and officials arrived to discuss their future again.

Huddled in a little courtyard off Taiping Street, they were anxious to share their complaints. The greeting pasted to the tiled wall behind them had a hollow ring: “May a multitude of things be as you hope.”

Optimism is in short supply, for their homes will soon be bulldozed. Many inhabitants have spent their whole lives here and fear they will end up homeless, jobless and even without compensation.

The government wants Wutai’s natural beauty and 2,000-year Buddhist history to be recognised with world heritage status. Inclusion on Unesco’s list would boost tourism and burnish China’s lustrous cultural reputation.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

The muses are ancient.  The inspirations for our stories were said to be born from them.  Muses of song and dance, or poetry and prose, of comedy and tragedy, of the inward and the outward.  In one version they are Calliope, Euterpe and Terpsichore, Erato and Clio, Thalia and Melpomene, Polyhymnia and Urania.

It has also been traditional to name a tenth muse.  Plato declared Sappho to be the tenth muse, the muse of women poets.  Others have been suggested throughout the centuries.  I don’t have a name for one, but I do think there should be a muse for the graphical arts.  And maybe there should be many more.

Please join us inside to celebrate our various muses…

Masked Man was a Fag

There are those nights where sleep just will not happen. As to the title? It was a Lenny Bruce skit, that someone animated, about what if the Lone Ranger was gay and has nothing to do with my post. The sky is full of stars, it’s a crisp 18 degrees with a steady wind blowing the trees.  The vet came to look at the horses, she said they looked good and their weight was right on track.  White salt lick, mineral lick, oats+grains and lots of hay along with plenty of fresh water seems to cover all the bases.  She has lots of horses too, she breeds Quarterhorses in the next town East.  

Today I fixed the electric fence by untangling it from some trees, fixing some broken connectors and driving in some new stakes. There was some old brittle lattice on the covered patio that had to come down.  An apple tree had a real bad case of “black knot” and had to be chopped down before the disease spread to the other trees, luckily I have two new apple trees on order.


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