March 26, 2008 archive

Iraq, the Candidates, and the Netroots

One of the reasons I have a hard time getting enthused about either of the Democratic candidates is that I find both of their Iraq withdrawal plans lacking. I am enthused about ending the Bush era, and I’m enthused about preventing the election of another Republican who doesn’t even seem to realize we have a problem in Iraq, but neither of the Democrats offers a plan that I consider to be complete.

Reading such is usually particularly galling to Obama supporters, because he gave such a pretty speech in 2002, and is therefore supposed to be vastly superior to Clinton, on Iraq. Some of the more deranged Obama supporters even go so far as to try to pin the war on Clinton, as if her having voted no on the AUMF would have changed anything other than her present political fortunes. It was a terrible vote, but she is demonized for it even by many of the same people who now lionize John Kerry, because he supports Obama, and despite his having made the same terrible vote made by Clinton. And, of course, most of these Obama supporters ignore the reality that despite the very pretty speech, when Obama was not in the position of actually having to vote on the resolution, his voting record has been nearly identical to Clinton’s, since he has been in the position of having to vote. That’s one of the reasons I find this particular argument for Obama and against Clinton to be, at best, specious. But the main reason is their withdrawal plans. I have said it many times: what happened in 2002 and 2003 is now irrelevant; the only thing that matters is what begins to happen in 2009. Which candidate will do the best job of most expeditiously getting us out of Iraq? And that doesn’t even begin to address the question of reparations, which isn’t even a topic of discussion.

Naomi Klein recently published what I consider to be the best book on politics in at least a generation. I’ve mentioned it in previous posts, and I will undoubtedly do so again. Many times. It should be required reading for anyone who claims to be politically informed. So, I also want everyone to click over to Huffington Post, and read her new article, with Jeremy Scahill:

Sixty-four per cent of Americans tell pollsters they oppose the war, but you’d never know it from the thin turnout at recent anniversary rallies and vigils.

When asked why they aren’t expressing their anti-war opinions through the anti-war movement, many say they have simply lost faith in the power of protest. They marched against the war before it began, marched on the first, second and third anniversaries. And yet five years on, U.S. leaders are still shrugging: “So?”

There is no question that the Bush administration has proven impervious to public pressure. That’s why it’s time for the anti-war movement to change tactics. We should direct our energy where it can still have an impact: the leading Democratic contenders.

Because Klein and Scahill also understand that although both Democratic candidates are much more honest and realistic than John McCain, when discussing Iraq, neither is coming close to being honest and realistic enough.

Pony Party: Watsu

Mood music

(Slip into Something More Comfortable by kinobe)

“What’s up?”



    “No!  Watsu. Watsu!”


    “Whatsamatta – U never heard of Watsu?”

[3/28 Update] GBCWall Street Journal Declares 10 Year Failure

UPDATE — A Bulletin Alert from the Trends Research Institute (You find it posted at the end of this article.)

The buzz on all the cable money channels is today’s headline in The Wall Street Journal. And, boy are the pundits depressed. Grab a box of Kleenex and check out CNBC.

Stocks Tarnished By ‘Lost Decade’

U.S. Shares in Longest Funk Since 1970s;

Credit Crunch Could Prolong Weakness

Over the past 200 years, the stock market’s steady upward march occasionally has been disrupted for long stretches, most recently during the Great Depression and the inflation-plagued 1970s. The current market turmoil suggests that we may be in another lost decade.

The stock market is trading right where it was nine years ago. Stocks, long touted as the best investment for the long term, have been one of the worst investments over the nine-year period, trounced even by lowly Treasury bonds.

Do you know how much this sucks? If you have a retirement account, you probably do.

Let’s look at some charts:

McDonald’s To Honor McCain With New Sandwich

Washington, D.C.  — McDonald’s has decided to honor the straight talking senator from Arizona with a new mouth watering sandwich that will go straight to your lips, The McSame! Noting that Republican presidential candidate John McCain has the same kind of maverick  branding often associated with the world’s leading burger chain, the brand tie in was  a match made in dead cow heaven.

“Customers continue to tell us that they want the exact same burger served the exact same way in all our exactly the same restaurants,” said Bonnie Clinsdine, Vice President/GeneralManager of the McDonald’s International. “Since McCain is offering the exact same presidency of the last eight years, we knew the McSame sandwich would appeal to our clientele.”

While basically just a Big Mac, the McSame offers a new layer of red, red meat shipped directly from the ranches outside of Tehran. It also features onions from Somalia and non-organic lettuce shipped semi-directly by slow boats from Indonesia.

“We are also in talks with Venezuela to produce our buns,” add Clinsdine. “If their buns aren’t brown enough, there is always Ecuador.”

Customers reactions so far have been mixed.

“To tell you the truth, I have really lost a taste for these things,” said unemployed local trucker John Golkin. “I basically came in for the commerative McSame cup, after hearing Rush talk it up. Of course, I couldn’t afford to get it and to super-size, so I just went with my gut.”

Area Slow Food activist Jeremy Norfair complained that McDonald’s was just selling the exact same sandwich they had always sold, except with a new face.

“Sure, it says McSame, but that is the same promotional item they have been pawning off on customers for the last eight years,” commented Norfair, watching the people devour the red, red meat of the McSame. “First it was the Freedom Burger, then it was Burger Accomplished. Of course it all started with, least we forget, the 9-11 Burger. I always thought it was in bad taste, but Americans’ seem to be buying it. Come on people, it’s the same hamburger! It’s even in the name!”

While Norfair questioned the repetitive nature of a hamburger whose previous incarnations were utter failures, there were also some who did not like the ever so slight new changes to the McSame.

“I am not sure I can quite put my finger on it, or nor would I,” disgruntled patron Sheila Eliam said while trying to down the same meat she has been eating for the last eight years. “While the extra meat appeals to me, I am not so sure about this new secret sauce.”

“Ah yes, the new secret sauce,” Clinsdine said in response to Eliam’s comments. “It’s basically the same one we have been using since 2000, except we added a streak of something crazy. Very, very crazy. How else can we flavor all that red meat? But don’t worry America! The McSame is still the same red, red meat you have enjoyed the last 8 years!”

Four at Four

  1. The supply-side economics has had three decades of failure, but yet the zombie Republicans, of which John McCain is one, want to revive it with a shock to the sinking U.S. economy. The New York Times reports on A political comeback: supply-side economics. “‘What really happens is that the economy grows more vigorously when you lower tax rates,’ [lied] Kevin Hassett, an adviser to the presumptive Republican nominee, John McCain”. But in reality, “even with a growing economy, …the promised boon in tax revenue never materialized.”

    Since 2001, the annual per capita revenue from income taxes fell 1 percent under President Bush even though tax collections picked up sharply starting in 2005. The budget surplus Mr. Bush inherited turned into a deficit.

    The rich want more tax cuts because Bush’s high taxes encourage them to scheme to avoid paying taxes. Not satisfied with extracting most of the wealth from the middle class, the rich want more of our money.

    Now the supply-siders single out the wealthiest Americans and argue that because they have so many ways to shelter their money from taxes, the incentive to declare more taxable income is much greater when tax rates are lowered than it is for the less well-to-do…

    Even in hard times, the incentive from a tax cut is particularly strong among the wealthy, supply-siders say. A drop of four or five percentage points in the top tax rate of these households saves them tens of millions of dollars. Above all, the supply-siders say, less money will be wasted on accountants and lawyers hired to find ways to dodge taxes when the rates were higher. These outlays will be put to more productive use.

    More productive use? Like Dubai real estate, luxury yachts, and electing Republicans.

  2. McClatchy Newspapers report that Iraq fighting is worst in months and Maliki has issued an ultimatum.

    Amid heavy clashes between government forces and Shiite Muslim militants in Baghdad and the southern port city of Basra, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki issued an ultimatum Wednesday demanding that the militias surrender their weapons within 72 hours. Radical cleric Muqtada al Sadr, whose Mahdi Army militia is a prime target of the government offensive, responded by demanding that Maliki leave Basra.

    U.S. forces joined Iraqi troops in Baghdad to fight Mahdi Army militants… The city’s fortified Green Zone sustained a third round of intense mortar fire beginning at 5:30 a.m. that seriously injured three U.S. government employees, according to a statement from the U.S. Embassy. A mortar round struck near Maliki’s office…

    Maliki stipulated in his ultimatum that the militants would be spared if they surrendered their weapons within 72 hours. As he spoke, Sadr called for calm, asking Maliki to leave the Mahdi Army-dominated oil hub of Basra and send a parliamentary delegation to solve the crisis through dialogue, Sadr spokesman Hassan al Zargani said from Tehran, Iran.

  3. New and improved Police State™ is coming to a city near year. Reuters reports Spy-in-the-sky drone sets sights on Miami. “Miami police could soon be the first in the United States to use cutting-edge, spy-in-the-sky technology to beef up their fight against crime… If use of the drone wins Federal Aviation Administration approval after tests, the Miami-Dade Police Department will start flying the 14-pound (6.3 kg) drone over urban areas with an eye toward full-fledged employment in crime fighting… Taking their lead from the U.S. military, which has used drones in Iraq and Afghanistan for years, law enforcement agencies across the country have voiced a growing interest in using drones for domestic crime-fighting missions.”

  4. For March Madness, the Star Tribune reports on Coop Dreams! “Chickens aren’t just for barnyards anymore. Back-yard coops are popping up in cities and suburbs nationwide as more urbanites decide that raising their own eggs is a good thing. But some of their neighbors aren’t so sure… Back-yard chicken coops are hatching in cities and suburbs all over the country, from New York to Seattle, and a growing array of books and websites are offering advice and support… Because chickens blur the line between pets and livestock, communities have widely varying policies on urban fowl… Some cities that frown on urban fowl are under pressure to become more chicken-friendly… Roosters, which can wake the neighbors with their crowing or be used for illegal cockfighting, are more controversial than hens… Other complaints about urban chickens range from odor to landscape damage.”

Plastic People, Oh Baby, You’re Such A Drag

cross posted from The Dream Antilles


The Midway Islands

Recently, I wrote about Si’an Kaan in Mexico and the utter disgrace that its beaches were full of plastic.  Today, it’s the Midway Islands and a BBC story that plastic in these islands in the very middle of the Pacific Ocean is killing birds.  That’s right.  In the middle of nowhere, plastic is killing the birds.  And turtles.  And fish.  Plastic is everywhere.  It’s destroying wildlife.  It’s destroying the planet.

Join me in the ocean.

St McCain and the Dragon


Some days in the Blogging trade, you are trying to think of a way to make a point….only to surf around and find it has already been made for you. Today on Daily Kos, dday and Georgia10 pretty much nail it, especially when taken in tandem. dday points out in HEY! Hundreds of American soldiers are going to die that The Surge’s “success” has, in reality, had nearly nothing to do with the surge but with internal Iraqi factional politics.

And Georgia10 asks the most pertinent question of the entire campaign: Will The Media Finally Report That The Surge Has Failed?

The centerpiece of John McCain’s campaign is that “the surge is working” in Iraq.  He has repeated this lie  hundreds of times on the trail, and in doing so, he has rarely been challenged.  The press has largely reported his contention as fact, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

The surge, the president’s “New Way Forward,” was supposed to provide stability, promote political progress, and otherwise assist the Iraqi government in meeting certain benchmarks.  As to those expressed goals, the surge has, by any measure, failed.

She concludes

If what we wish never happens occurs — that is, if the violence in Iraq continues to rise after such a positive downtrend — will the media finally report that the surge has failed?  Regardless of the level of violence, will the press admit that the escalation has failed to bring about the promised political progress? Or will they, in typical, stenographic fashion, allow John McCain to repeat the lie that has become the cornerstone of his candidacy?

bearers of bad news

When the whole George Bush/BushCo thing happened, I was pretty much banned, among friends and family, from discussion of events in the years 2000-2004.

After 2004, the Iraq war cracked the perception of even busy busy people that things weren’t, um, going right. Not to mention the freaky weather and crazy gas prices. It must be that Bush is stupid. That’s it, they thought. It’s simple.. No. That’s not it. Bush is not stupid or compassionate or interested in the United States of America. And this is far from simple.

It’s one thing to get people seeing and even agreeing with you that the president for whom they voted is making a boatload of bad decisions. It’s totally another thing to suggest to these busy people that fascism has emerged in America. Because, and by the way, about that you are definitely NOT right. You, my friend, are a radical. And all your blah blah blah::: oncoming depression, water wars, peak oil, pandemics, broken government, broken bill of rights… becomes more threatening that any eventual occurrence of these things.

No. You are not only NOT right, but you are simply a downer. The bearer of bad news nobody wants to hear. And you know why? Because you don’t offer a credible way out.

    America: Home to those of us learning to be brave in a whole new way

Photobucket   Photobucket  

DC protest pictures

I have an Albert Einstein daily quote gadget on my iGoogle page…

~ The release of atomic power has changed everything except our way of thinking … the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker. ~

I have too much and too little to say and I’ve been trying since I got home to say both….

It’s not really going well…so instead here are some pictures….


Pony Party…Better Late Than Never??


I thought I auto-pub’d last night…I guess I fell asleep before I actually did it  🙁

Updated: China Plans Tour For Select Journalists As Western Opinion Sides With Dalai Lama and Tibet

First, more news about brutality being used against protesters in Qinghai:

“They were beating up monks, which will only infuriate ordinary people,” the source said of the protest on Tuesday in Qinghai’s Xinghai county.

A resident in the area confirmed the demonstration, saying that paramilitaries dispersed the 200 to 300 protesters after half and hour, that the area was crawling with armed security forces and that workers were kept inside their offices.

The Beijing source said resentment at the paramilitary presence around Lhasa’s monasteries prompted one monk at the Ramoche temple to hang himself.


“It’s very harsh. They are taking in and questioning anyone who saw the protests,” the source said. “The prisons are full. Detainees are being held at prisons in counties outside Lhasa.”


H.R. 1955: Our Civil Rights Being Stripped w/poll

The basis for this posting is “H.R. 1955 Could Spell Trouble for Muslim Civil Rights” by Ibrahim Abdil-Mu’id Ramey via the Muslim American Society:

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