August 13, 2009 archive

The Flat Earthers have a Right to their Opinions, But That does NOT make them Right!

If you heard this on the TV, would you sit and think, interesting Opinions?

“The facts are simple,” says Charles K. Johnson, president of the International Flat Earth Research Society. “The earth is flat.

Nobody knows anything about the true shape of the world,” he contends. “The known, inhabited world is flat.


the stars are about as far as San Francisco is from Boston.”

As shown in a map published by Johnson, the known world is as circular and as flat as a phonograph record. The North Pole is at the center.…

Or if you heard this loudly stated Opinion, would you think, “Well, They have a Right to their Opinions”

Mr. Johnson, who called himself the last iconoclast, regarded scientists as witch doctors pulling off a gigantic hoax so as to replace religion with science. He based his own ideas on the Old Testament references to a flat earth…

Four at Four

  1. The NY Times reports on A window into the C.I.A.’s embrace of secret jails. Kyle “Dusty” Foggo was asked by CIA officials in 2003 for his help buidling secret prisons. Foggo was the head of the CIA’s main European supply base at the time and “someone who could get a cargo plane flying anywhere in the world or quickly obtain weapons, food, money – whatever the C.I.A. needed.”

    “Foggo went on to oversee construction of three detention centers”. Each prison was “designed to appear identical, so prisoners would be disoriented and not know where they were if they were shuttled back and forth.”

    “It was too sensitive to be handled by headquarters,” Foggo said. “I was proud to help my nation.” Foggo also helped himself. Last year he pleaded guilty “to a fraud charge involving a contractor that equipped the C.I.A. jails and provided other supplies to the agency”.

  2. The Washington Independent reports the White House faces rising anxiety on Afghanistan. Richard Holbrooke, Obama’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, faced a skeptical audience of journalists, think tankers, and former officials who pressed him “about the wisdom of the entire eight-year war in Afghanistan – and President Obama’s definitions of success for a conflict he may decide to escalate.”

    “Holbrooke’s answer suggested an unresolved tension at the level of strategy… ‘The military struggle with U.S. troops is not an open-ended event, but our civilian assistance will continue,'” he said.

    Meanwhile, America’s use of mercenaries is making the situation worse in Afghanistan. The LA Times reports a Deadly contractor incident sours Afghans. Four Xe (Blackwater) mercenaries “are said to be under investigation in the deaths of two Afghans.”

    “A June report by the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan cites serious deficiencies among private security companies in Afghanistan in training, performance, accountability and effective use-of-force rules. The report says U.S. authorities in Afghanistan have not applied ‘lessons learned’ in Iraq”.

    “Since February, oversight of security contractors in Afghanistan has been entrusted not to Congress or the Pentagon, but to a British-owned private contractor, Aegis. The company was hired by the American government after the U.S. military said it lacked the manpower and expertise to monitor security contractors.”

    While incapable of controlling mercenaries, The Guardian reports the US marines in Afghanistan are launching their first energy efficiency audit in the war zone. “General James T Conway, the Marines Corps Commandant, said he wanted a team of energy experts in place in Afghanistan by the end of the month to find ways to cut back on the fuel bills for the 10,000 strong marine contingent. US marines in Afghanistan run through some 800,000 gallons of fuel a day.

    Meanwhile, the NY Times reports Bombs kill 14 civilians in Afghanistan. “Two bomb explosions in southern Afghanistan killed 14 people, including 3 children at play”. The bombings are likely part of the Stepped-up Taliban intimidation campaign as the Afghan elections nears. The Taliban is threatening Afghans not to vote or face “strong punishment”. “One Taliban commander stood up in a mosque in the southern province of Zabul and warned people that the Taliban would cut off any finger stained with the indelible ink that marks voters, a witness said.”

    Writing at Foreign Policy, Brian Glyn Williams writes What defeat in Afghanistan looks like.

    Having spent this past July at International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) headquarters in Kabul, I have seen what defeat looks like. It takes the form of thousands of casualty-phobic troops ensconced behind the walls, sand bags, and blast barriers of a well-protected safety bubble…

    For the vast majority of troops at ISAF headquarters, Afghanistan remains an enigma, a threatening land lying beyond the concertina wire of the base. The only Afghan most ever meet is the Hazara carpet seller on base who serves authentic Afghan food once a month. And the only coalition soldiers most Afghans meet are encased in armor-plated vehicles or flak jackets.

    The troops at ISAF HQ are hardly the exception.

    Spencer Ackerman at the Washington Independent comments on the piece: “Defeat in Afghanistan has a very definable profile, and it looks like risk-aversion… you can’t fight a war if you don’t fight a war – but the war is out in the provinces more than it is in the capital city.”

Four at Four continues with Cheney unloading on Bush, revolts in India caused by lack of water, and a horrible crime in Portland, Oregon.

Ed Glaeser Flat Out Lies about High Speed Rail

Crossposted from The Hillbilly Report, crossposted to Agent Orange

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

Ryan Avent has provided high quality debunking of many of the flaws of Ed Glaeser’s ongoing analysis of Cost and Benefits of HSR. His current piece, Ed Glaeser’s Rail Fail, does not let us down.

Hell, I decided I’d read Ryan Avent’s piece first, before reading Glaeser, so I would not get riled up and start a long rant, only to find that Ryan has explained it more clearly … and to more total readers, to boot.

But I got riled up anyway. Ed Glaeser in the most recent piece comes out with a blatant lie, and one that’ll trap almost all casual readers.

Breaking The Republicans, Post Bipartisan Politics

A less florid version of yesterdays column!

Let’s start with 2010. There is about 14 months before the next election in 2010, historically the Party in the WH loses seats in the midterm. But unless Town Hall Hooliganism, Tea Parties and Birthers somehow sway the election, that doesn’t look like it will happen this time.

We can’t predict the future of course, but the Dems actually have a chance to gain a couple of seats in that troublesome Senate. if that happens, people like Lieberman, Landreiu and Ben Nelson will become, we hope, slightly more irrelevant. Right now, they and Repubs like Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine hold an immense amount of power as the swing votes in the Senate.

Gaining even two more seats will change the landscape immensely, most likely taking ANY Repubs out of the realpolitik equation and bringing the situation we face now into even starker relief. The power stucture then will be, starkly: ConservaDems vs Dems.

That is bad, but it will accomplish, or at least help accomplish, the real victory. Breaking the ability of The Republicans to frame the debate(s). Or to put it more bluntly, decreasing the power of Republican delusion. And delusion, as is becoming apparent even to the dullards in the Village and the Merde Stream Media, is all they have.

Delusions on HCR, delusions on Foreign Policy, delusions on how an economy works, delusions of the proper place of those of differing race, creed, and orientation. Delusions of who America “belongs” to.

And if…IF, we can accomplish that AND expose the Culture of Corruption that IS the Republican Party to further justifiably discredit them, and by discreditting them, we can remove or severely diminish their influence not just on politics, but on how America THINKS.

Exposing the torture, the politicization of the Justice Department, the selling of political influence most blatantly illustrated by Jack Abramoff, and finally, their willingness to send Americans to die in Iraq based only on their lies….

SHOULD reduce the Republican Party to an irrelevant shell.

Then we will have only the ConservaDems as real political opposition, as a roadblock to meaningful change. And as much as we all despise them, one thing must be said: They are just not AS crazy and delusional as the Republicans.

They simply cannot get away with totally distorting reality, as the Republicans have been able to

Add in a big enough (but still not 100, dammit!) majority in the Senate….pressure can be brought to bear on the ConservaDems. Whetehr Fightin Harry Reid (gag, cough) WILL do so or not remains to be seen.

Then we can not only end the political standoff we are currently “enjoying” due to the shoddy and cowardly Dem leadership, but start to systematically dismantle the delusional Repub worldview that has infected our country and made it into a battleground of expertly crafted and presented outright lies vs INCREDIBLY poorly presented truths.

It is of course possible that some miracle will revive the Republicans.

It is of course possible that the Dems will blow it badly enough (again) to do that job for them.

But it really would take something akin to a miracle.

Once Health Care is done in a month or two…or three… it will once again be time to take up the call for aggressive investigations. By then much of the current energy of the Delusional Death Panel Republicans will have blown their wad. They will either be tired, or, lol, even MORE delusional. The 2010 campaigns will have swung into gear and the candidates will be slinging more ‘Hope’ful and ‘Change’-y rhetoric about. Rhetoric we can use to pin them down on Progressive positions and on cleaning up the Culture of Corruption.

We are right now, to put it bluntly, in limbo. An unnecesary limbo caused by Democratic caution. But if the voters don’t reject that unnecessary caution, and if the Dems can do even a halfway decent job of messaging….which would be a VAST improvement…we could actually begin to break the Republican delusions that have held the Great Middle in its thrall for generations.

That moves the Overton Window to the Left. It makes it not only possible, but almost certain, that Progressive solutions, ideas, policies , and FRAMING will gain credence, popularity and eventually be enacted by the Establishment dems.

Who will of course, after rejecting them and reviling them for decades, lol…then take credit for their effectiveness.

Open (heh!) Thread

From Beam Us Up, Madam Speaker

By John Edgell, CQ Politics, August 13, 2009

Brace yourselves.  In about three weeks, the world is about to get a little wackier  and a little louder, and don’t say you weren’t forewarned.

Former Congressman James A. Traficant Jr., Youngtown Ohio’s  finest, is to be released from the Rochester, Minn. federal medical center  on Sept. 2, after completing his sentence for his April 2002 conviction for racketeering, bribery and fraud.

For most convicted felons, returning home after seven years locked away to a hero’s welcome is most unlikely.  But most ex-cons aren’t Traficant,  the onetime presidential candidate  with an almost mythical standing in Ohio’s Mahoning Valley region, who will be greeted with “Welcome Home, Jimbo”  and a sold-out tribute dinner of 1,200 people  in his honor.

There aren’t many larger-than-life characters left in American politics, especially notorious ones such as Traficant, a hero to many, who deliberately flaunt conventional norms and are unafraid of embarrassing themselves.  He’s the second House member expelled since the Civil War, who received a hero’s send-off going to the pokey, and a hero’s welcome getting out  too.  

Have expulsion  and a federal felony conviction  become a potential platform for a political comeback?  Go figure.

Best known for his loopy and theatrical  ‘one minute’ House floor speeches – “Beam Me Up, Mr. Speaker” — the pro-labor, pro-school-prayer ex-county sheriff  railed on such topics as burping cows and space toilets.  

Of course, Traficant wasn’t the first or last member of Congress to exploit demagogic rhetoric  to gain the spotlight, but he surely elevated it to a higher level, if not orbit.

Who else other than Traficant could represent themselves in a federal courtroom, convince a jury and gain an acquittal after being caught red-handed with audiotape evidence showing he took $160,000 in bribes  from two Mafia bosses?  In doing so, Traficant became the only person to represent himself against a federal RICO case and win.  (Of course, Traficant’s record  as a defense lawyer wasn’t perfect.)

And then Traficant ran for Congress in the next election – up against Ronald Reagan’s re-election coattails – and beat handily a Republican incumbent and despite being outspent seven-fold.

Traficant may not have wanted to be a freak show , but, hey, he hung around with people like ‘Charlie the Crab’  and couldn’t help himself most of the time.  You don’t hire as your top staffer one of the good fellas  who delivered $100,000 in bribes from the Pittsburgh arm of the mob, at least not by accident.

And his constituents loved him for it: In 1992, ‘Jimbo’ received the third-highest vote total  of congressional candidates.

Want More and Better? Read the WHOLE thing… ;-)…

Torture Architects had ZERO interrogation experience. They tortured and call us Nazi’s? WTF!?!

Crossposted at Daily Kos

   If we prosecute Bush/Cheney what will the GOP do? Stop working with us? Call us Nazi’s?

   Because, that is happening right now. Kinda takes the threat away, huh?

   The people who tortured children

   The people who covered up mass graves

   The people who began a domestic spying program and began an ilegal war of aggression

   They and their supporters are calling the left Nazi’s?!?

   I call bullshit

   While wingnuts scream RESPECT THE CONSTITUTION and call the Left Fascists, the last GOP administration did Fascist stuff.

   Of course, these morans don’t care to know that, but then, they are death panel believing birthers who know nothing, so who cares what they think.

   There is more below the fold, and info where you can contact AG Eric Holder and the White House to demand FULL Prosecutions for actual Nazi stuff.

DD Writers Jam Fest: Mothership UPDATED FRI


We be jammin’ now, dharmanuts. Are you having fun yet? I am. This is my vacation. I know, I should Get A Life, but… heh. Okay.

I’ll maintain this Essay as a “Mothership”, meaning, I’ll add with UPDATES all day today, as Essays arrive. Links to DD Writers Jam Fest essays from Day One (yesterday) are below.

DD Writers Jam Fest… a five days Docudharma exclusive (!) Writer’s… uhm … focus group? no… er, Workshop? well, sorta, maybe. Free For All? hmmm, yah.

DATES: Wednesday through Sunday, August 12 – 16th, 2009

WHERE: Here, mostly, but also in your Brain, CPU or Journal

WHO: You. Everybody. Dharmanoids. Whoever wants in, jump in (as long as you play nice). You don’t have to be a “Writer”, no ID card or credentials art the door required. No Registration Fees either

HOSTED BY: moi but it’s a community thing

REWARDS? PRIZES? MEGA BONUSES? Er, no. Free ponies though!

Basically, the idea here is twofold:

ONE is… just write. Put “DD Writers Jam Fest” in your tags. You can also plop the Jam Fest image Banner into the body of your Essay if you like. Creative writing, or Instructional Essay or Op-Ed or whatever seems suitable to you. Have at it.

NOTE: Please drop a comment here to alert me if/when you publish a Jam Essay so I can link to it here.

TWO is the Round Robin.  The very first Round Robin is going on now! I’ll post a new RR for today in.a.bit…. this afternoon.

UPDATE: OKay so I spazzed out yesterday and didn’t post one. The All New and Improved Round Robin for today is now up. Come on over and jump in. You know you want to.

Here’s the links to the previous brainstorming, which might give you a little of background of how this Jam Fest came about: Part One and Part Two.

I’d like to add that Docudharma has some ongoing Series for writers (and readers) here … in particular, Robyn posts Muse in the Morning every morning. Robyn celebrates the Muses and encourages everyone to contribute their talent there anytime.  

Deliver me from writers who say the way they live doesn’t matter. I’m not sure a bad person can write a good book. If art doesn’t make us better, then what on earth is it for?

~Alice Walker

Examining the layers of American neofascism

This essay was originally published on Wed Jan 02, 2008 on La Naranja Grande. I have tweaked it somewhat to better represent my current views on the matter.

As a person who has spent a certain amount of time in the belly of the military/industrial complex beast, I figure my observations on the matter are at least as good as anyone else’s.

While there are unquestioned parallels between what’s happening now and the takeover of Nazi Germany, some of the people who object to those comparisons will retort that it’s impossible that their behavior emulates the Nazis, as they are Jewish, black, or whatever. Likewise, some mainstream media corporations will state that comparisons to the Nazis are laughable because they have “an extremely diverse readership/employee base/non-discriminatory policy”, blah blah yadda blah.

The need to hide their agenda, combined with the need to build a powerful support base in an extremely racially diverse nation has required the neofascist movement to approach the construction of their “New American Century” with more strategy and stealth than their predecessors.

The blatant lie that the current version of capitalism is a meritocracy is how the neofascists have managed to (thus far) successfully hide their agenda from the bulk of the American public.

Docudharma Times Thursday August 13

Cheney Uncloaks His Frustration With Bush

‘Statute of Limitations Has Expired’ on Many Secrets, Former Vice President Says

By Barton Gellman

Washington Post Staff Writer

Thursday, August 13, 2009

In his first few months after leaving office, former vice president Richard B. Cheney threw himself into public combat against the “far left” agenda of the new commander in chief. More private reflections, as his memoir takes shape in slashing longhand on legal pads, have opened a second front against Cheney’s White House partner of eight years, George W. Bush.

Cheney’s disappointment with the former president surfaced recently in one of the informal conversations he is holding to discuss the book with authors, diplomats, policy experts and past colleagues. By habit, he listens more than he talks, but Cheney broke form when asked about his regrets.

Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi, convicted of Lockerbie bombing, ‘to be released’

From The Times

August 13, 2009

 Charlene Sweeney

Speculation was growing last night that the Libyan man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing is to be released next week.

Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi, 57, who is suffering from prostate cancer, is serving a life sentence with a minimum term of 27 years for his part in the attack, which claimed the lives of 270 people more than 20 years ago.

The BBC reported that al-Megrahi is to be freed following talks between UK and Libyan officials earlier this week.

The broadcaster claimed the speed of the transfer was to allow al-Megrahi to be home in time for the beginning of Ramadan, the annual Muslim fast.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

2009 Poems:  Dreamcatcher

Dream Catcher #4

Living Wings

Wings spread

designs of life


between the filaments

as the tapestry

is woven

out of sparkling threads

against the background

of the void

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–March 15, 2009

Late Night Karaoke

Open Thread

Can Obama’s Healthcare Reform Save Louisiana Healthcare from Jindal’s Cuts?

Script follows the break.

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