Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Clueless

I'll probably add a YouTube to this when I get home. Cannae do the YouT through work's firefall no mo', don't ya know.

We Can Stop Their Spying Eyes

And the Electronic Frontier Foundation has just the form to counter BIG MONEY's* Lobbying efforts against such a Constitutional necessity.
Tell Congress to Investigate the NSA Spying Program

Over five years since it first began, the NSA's massive domestic spying program remains shrouded in secrecy. Recently, the Bush Administration announced that it has let the shadowy FISA court review the program, but that's not enough -- the President must abide by the law and answer to the traditional court system, Congress, and the American public. Use the form below and demand immediate Congressional investigations.

Three federal courts have already rejected the government's bogus arguments and allowed cases to go forward regarding the secret surveillance. With its back against the wall, the Administration has finally conceded that judicial review should be involved at some level.

That's welcome news, but the President is still trying to dodge meaningful oversight. While claiming that the secret FISA court orders legalize the program, the Administration has refused to let anyone else see the orders and confirm key details about what they permit. EFF is skeptical that they actually satisfy the strict requirements of current statutes or the Fourth Amendment, considering the broad program of dragnet surveillance alleged in our case against AT&T for its role in the program.

Congress must do its job and help uncover the truth about the program. Take action now to protect the checks and balances that define our democracy.



* I call out "BIG MONEY" here because the folks for whom Bu$hCo is working don't care about the details of how their bought-boy's (and girls, of course) go about their business. They just want their ability to run their business around the world and as they see fit. Screw any Liberties, Rights, Freedoms which don't curtail the consumers' ability to spend Spend SPEND to the end.

To be sure,
Under capitalism man exploits man. And under Communism it is just the reverse. That's what you get with any system which isn't regulated via Reason and constant Refinement as the system evolves.

namaste


How To Help Congress End the War

Just another quickie to follow up on yesterday Feingold post.

This is the Progressive Patriots Fund newsletter from last night. Excellent stuff and I def did sign on.

L8
Today I am chairing a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Congress's constitutional power to end a war. It's far past time for the war in Iraq - one of the greatest foreign policy mistakes in our nation's history - to end and for our troops to be safely redeployed. Because the President has abdicated his responsibility for far too long, it is now up to Congress to get our country back on track.

But I can't do it alone. I need your help to demonstrate the public support for using the "power of the purse" to force this administration to begin to redeploy our troops from Iraq. I hope you'll join me by co-sponsoring my resolution to redeploy our troops.

Click here to sign on as a citizen co-sponsor

While I will vote for the non binding resolution being offered against the so-called "troop surge" - as I already did in Committee - we all know that much more needs to be done. Congress holds the purse strings and if the President continues to move forward with his failed Iraq policy, we have the responsibility to use that power to safely redeploy our troops from Iraq.

Today's hearing will help inform my colleagues, and the public about Congress's power to end a war and how that power has been used in the past. I will soon be introducing legislation to use the "power of the purse" to end what is clearly one of the greatest mistakes in the history of our nation's foreign policy.

Click here to sign on as a citizen co-sponsor

Our open-ended presence in Iraq encourages the insurgency, and adding more troops with no end date in sight only adds more fuel to the fire. There is no higher foreign policy priority than making America safer and getting our nation back on track by redeploying our troops out of Iraq. Once again, I hope you'll consider co-sponsoring my resolution. As always, thank you for your support.

Sincerely,

Russ Feingold
United States Senator
Honorary Chair, Progressive Patriots Fund

P.S. I've recorded a new video podcast on Congress's power to end the war using the "power of the purse" – be sure to visit our website to check it out!


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Living in the Pre-UK

I read a little about this discovery towards the end of last year. Now we get more details and, as is always the case with anthropology and archaeology, now there's even more to wonder about.

Cool.
Ancient complex discovered near Stonehenge
By Thomas H. Maugh II, Times Staff Writer
3:02 PM PST, January 30, 2007

-----
The henge, about 1,400 feet in diameter, enclosed a series of concentric rings of huge timber posts. The team now knows that the posts mimicked Stonehenge in all particulars save one — its orientation.

Stonehenge is aligned with sunrise at the summer solstice and sunset at the winter solstice. The henge at Durrington Walls is the exact opposite, aligned with sunrise at the winter solstice and sunset at the summer solstice.

The evidence from the houses indicates that there was a massive mid-winter celebration marking the solstice to complement the summer celebration at Stonehenge.

The team excavated eight houses at the site and magnetic anomalies indicate that there are at least 25 more nearby, Pearson said. "My guess is that there are many more than that," he said. In fact, the entire valley appears to have been densely populated, he said.

The relatively flimsy wattle and daub walls of the houses are long gone. What remains are the densely packed clay floors. "These are the first ones we have found with intact clay floors from this period," Pearson said.

"The houses are virtually square, no bigger than the average sitting room — about 14 feet by 14 feet," he said.

They feature a central fireplace, an oval hearth sunk into the floor. Slight indentations around the walls mark the location of timber fittings for box beds and a dresser that stood opposite the door.

[Hop on into the Way Back Machine folks]

Feingold

From a Senator who won't run for President but, in my opinion, has the most integrity for that august position of anyone on the Hill.

Breaking Another Iraq Taboo

----

Americans are not looking to Congress to pass symbolic measures, they are looking to us to stop the President's failed Iraq policy. That is why we must finally break this taboo that somehow Congress can't talk about using its power of the purse to end the war in Iraq. The Constitution makes Congress a co-equal branch of government. It's time we start acting like it. We have a moral responsibility, as well as a responsibility to the brave troops whose lives are on the line, to end the war. We can and must force the President to safely redeploy our troops so that we can get back to focusing on those who attacked us on 9/11.

Tomorrow, I will be chairing a full Judiciary Committee hearing entitled "Exercising Congress's Constitutional Power to End a War." This hearing will help remind my colleagues in the Senate and the American public that Congress is not powerless - even when it acts that way. We have the power to stop the policies of a President that continue to hurt our national security. Soon after tomorrow's hearing, I will introduce legislation to do just that.



Now go read what he's up against...

Monday, January 29, 2007

Drumheller to Bu$hCo: "Stop preaching to (the Europeans)"

"We Probably Gave Powell the Wrong Speech"

The former chief of the CIA's Europe division, Tyler Drumheller, discusses the United States foreign intelligence service's cooperation with Germany, the covert kidnapping of suspected terrorists and a Bush administration that ignored CIA advice and used whatever information it could find to justify an invasion of Iraq.
Believe me amigos y 'migas, you'll want to be reading this one.

Note that Drumheller seems at least to know which kinds of questions should have been asked by Administration officials. Of course that may just be his way of covering his own arse politically and for when his own trial reaches the docket.
Drumheller: Every responsible chief in the CIA knows that the more covert the action, the greater the need for a clear policy and a defined target. I once had to brief Condoleezza Rice on a rendition operation, and her chief concern was not whether it was the right thing to do, but what the president would think about it. I would have expected a big meeting, a debate about whether to proceed with the plan, a couple of hours of consideration of the pros and cons. We should have been talking about the value of the target, whether the threat he presented warranted such a potentially controversial intervention. This is no way to run a covert policy. If the White House wants to take extraordinary measures to win, it can't just let things go through without any discussion about their value and morality.

-snip-

... The rendition teams are drawn from paramilitary officers who are brave and colorful. They are the men who went into Baghdad before the bombs and into Afghanistan before the army. If they didn't do paramilitary actions for a living, they would probably be robbing banks. Perhaps the Bush Administration deliberately created a gray area on renditions.
(emphasis mine)

In a year rife with ironic statements from folks in positions of authority, I believe that Herr Drumheller (an American, to be clear) must be well aware of his status as a contender for the Crown in that category.

This single interview of this singular person, in a position to know the details of so many of the lies used by the Bush Administration, is simply a Prime Example of so many in a long line of failures by the American MSM to discover the reality of American duplicity and wrong-headedness surrounding everything to do with the invasion of Iraq.

It's not as if Drumheller is excusing his own activities, or relieving anyone else of their responsibility for the misinformation used by the Neocon war machinery to "justify" the invasion. It's simply that the evidence, long harped upon by the progressive Left, was overwhelmingly against recommending that invasion.

A final snippet of the conversation. Then I'll leave off my own rant.

SPIEGEL: But it was your agency that was coming up with all the wrong information concerning Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction. To what degree is the intelligence community responsible for the disaster?

Drumheller: The agency is not blameless and no president on my watch has had a spotless record when it comes to the CIA. But never before have I seen the manipulation of intelligence that has played out since Bush took office. As chief of Europe I had a front-row seat from which to observe the unprecedented drive for intelligence justifying the Iraq war.

[The Meatsticks in the Court of the Chimperor are suckers for the "Curveball"]

Now the United States' Congress has just got to do its job as Umpire and call out clearly and decisively, Steeerrrike Three, Mr President! Then maybe we can get back to playing by the Established Rules.

On So Many Levels

Retro got me shakin' m' noggin' at some crazy 80's goofballery (err, thanks? lol!) but while on teh 'Tube, I quickly found another variety of Crazy to cleanse my musical palette.

Enjoy!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Shiny Baubles


'Twas gold which brought twin towers
down
from wings of steel
aluminum
through kerosene fueled clouds
'Twas gold, though black and crude

'Twas naught but heavy
empty wealth
which to this day resounds
in halls of power
trading blood
for oil

And still is that
which brings us all
to ground beneath dark soil

Time
in steady cadences
6 billion now abound
within our own lone sacks of skin
our own accounts
accruing

less than nihilist
disregard
does all this sorrow
engender
resolve for what
can not
come next
defers concerns
for Peace on Earth

Gold distracts believers
shiny baubles
luring thought away
leaving devotions secure
for the delusional
to entertain themselves
while shadows
close upon
everyone

----

I'm sorry that I can't capture the painting very aesthetically. After 5 attempts (this time around) on my little 300kb phone-cam, I finally decided that this would have to do.

It was a gift from a wonderful no-longer-red-state blogger buddy o' mine. Well, her husband is the painter, so I s'pose I owe the Skimmer the apology for my poor presentation of his excellent work.

Regardless of all that, many are the times I've sat pondering this painting as I sit at my computer, wondering of what to post, or who to read next. Abundant are the thoughts which go through my mind on what the colors mean, why the fade below, the separation from the blue skies above? Often I sadly imagine those damned planes flying into the scene, obscuring again the amazing achievement of human artifice which both brought them into being and, then more tragically (and recently too,) brought both those towers and the illusions of invincibility of a great nation crumbling to the earth. Changed forever.

I'm more of a lyricist than a poet so I tend to make my poetry without any standard metrics guiding it. I write and re-write each line as they come to me, and then work the whole to flow as feels most relevant to whatever theme they're describing. All I'm getting at is that I know that's a bit "unskilled", but it came to me and feels right as a description of a majority of my thoughts whilst viewing the painting.

I hope, though the thoughts are indeed sad and not resolved, that the poem manages to effectively convey my feelings about the painting, as well as on the state of my nation and the world of folk at large.

namaste

"Belief Tank"



Click it to get to the "Belief Tank" bit . . .

Ehren Watada: American Hero

Here's another one of those Op-Eds I'd like to share in full.

If anyone reading here made your way to D.C. on Saturday, please feel free to share your experience or a link to your own blog about such.

Good mornin' all!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Watada points out our responsibilities

By JOE COPELAND
P-I COLUMNIST

If Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada has some extra hope this morning about ending the Iraq war, Americans can take a little credit. Toward the end of last week, the 28-year-old officer who courageously refused orders to go to Iraq was hoping for good turnouts in anti-war events planned for Saturday in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere.

After four years of quiescence in the face of a wrongly launched war that has gone from "Mission Accomplished" to what a top commander finally confessed is a "dire" situation, Americans ought to demand a change of course. Change requires more public involvement than voting out a few congressional incumbents. National protest organizers hoped for up to 300,000 people to march Saturday.

Watada has had the courage to point out citizens' responsibilities. As he awaits a court-martial beginning Feb. 5 for acting responsibly and refusing to serve in what he regards as an illegal war (he volunteered to go to Afghanistan instead), Watada is allowed to travel up to 250 miles from Fort Lewis. He has been telling groups in Seattle, Tacoma and elsewhere that citizens have the power to end the war.

His honesty isn't surprising, and asking people to take responsibility doesn't at all go beyond what Watada expects of himself. When most of the country was still following President Bush's post-Sept. 11 admonitions to go shopping, Watada decided to enlist in a delayed-entry program while he wrapped up studies at Hawaii Pacific University.

As we went to war, Watada believed the false talk about imminent danger to the United States and weapons of mass destruction. His views changed as he read up on Iraq in preparation, as he put it, to be a better leader of troops under his command. Instead, the growing knowledge led him to become the only commissioned officer known to refuse Iraq duty, acknowledging from the start that he might have to carry the imprisonment that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other practitioners of civil disobedience felt was their responsibility to accept in calling attention to wrongful government policy. In Watada's case, the prison time could be as much as six years.

Watada talks about a small group that regularly protests in Seattle. But, he asks, "Where are the other 600,000 people in Seattle?"

More than anything, I wanted to know from Watada what he thought others of us should be doing. He starts with where his journey began: learning about our country's actions. Then there is the matter of doing something. Action certainly started with the November elections (although, as Watada points out, the turnout means only a limited number of people sent any message).

Without more pressure on national leaders, it's not safe to assume they will change the country's course. The Iraq Study Group's bipartisan recommendations to start withdrawal planning got tossed. Generals seem willing to complain publicly about missteps, but only after they have their pensions. Unless better in the way of preventing needless deaths of U.S. troops and Iraqis is demanded by the public, members of Congress likely will settle for -- at best -- resolutions of disapproval for the war's escalation. Non-binding resolutions will just draw snarling dismissals from Vice President Dick Cheney. But maybe members of Congress think they can satisfy voters by saying, see, we told the president what a mistake he was making.

Watada said, "No longer can we say, 'Oh, the Democrats will take care of it. Or, the peace activists will take care of it' " and simply go about our lives.

Staffers to politicians have told him that their bosses listen to the public. "But you know what, if it is the same person calling over and over," the call is very easy to dismiss, he said.

He thinks more individuals need to speak up, and organizations -- churches, labor unions, student groups and faculties -- need to lend their voices. And he thinks the public should tell big donors to speak on their behalf and demand the media go beyond their "lazy and inadequate attempt to cover the news."

As someone occasionally shocked by the behavior of fellow Vietnam war protesters, I wondered how a conscientious young soldier of this generation looked at street demonstrations: Will protest lead to the kind of divisions and lack of regard for U.S. troops seen during Vietnam? "That is why knowledge is first and foremost," Watada said. "We need to come together as Americans." We need to understand, he said, that simply being there is inflaming rather than improving Iraq.

Watada is idealistic enough to expect a lot of people to act. He has been disappointed in the amount of attention his case has received in most of the media. But, he said, "I think my stand and my case have raised the level of awareness and thinking about what we are doing in Iraq and what our soldiers are being forced to do."

Beyond knowledge, though, is action, whether it is writing a letter, making a call or getting out of our chairs to make our views known.

Joe Copeland is an editorial writer and member of the P-I Editorial Board. E-mail: joecopeland@seattlepi.com.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Whose Commander?

Another Saturday Night and I ain't got nobody. . .

Meh. . . What the hekk, eh. There's some groovin' music on the tube and, during a break from reading Dawkins' latest*, I found a damn fine NYTimes Op-Ed to read and share.
Op-Ed Contributor
At Ease, Mr. President
By GARRY WILLS
Published: January 27, 2007

Evanston, Ill.

WE hear constantly now about “our commander in chief.” The word has become a synonym for “president.” It is said that we “elect a commander in chief.” It is asked whether this or that candidate is “worthy to be our commander in chief.”

But the president is not our commander in chief. He certainly is not mine. I am not in the Army.

-snip-

When Abraham Lincoln took actions based on military considerations, he gave himself the proper title, “commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States.” That title is rarely — more like never — heard today. It is just “commander in chief,” or even “commander in chief of the United States.” This reflects the increasing militarization of our politics. The citizenry at large is now thought of as under military discipline. In wartime, it is true, people submit to the national leadership more than in peacetime. The executive branch takes actions in secret, unaccountable to the electorate, to hide its moves from the enemy and protect national secrets. Constitutional shortcuts are taken “for the duration.” But those impositions are removed when normal life returns.

But we have not seen normal life in 66 years. The wartime discipline imposed in 1941 has never been lifted, and “the duration” has become the norm. World War II melded into the cold war, with greater secrecy than ever — more classified information, tougher security clearances. And now the cold war has modulated into the war on terrorism.

There has never been an executive branch more fetishistic about secrecy than the Bush-Cheney one. The secrecy has been used to throw a veil over detentions, “renditions,” suspension of the Geneva Conventions and of habeas corpus, torture and warrantless wiretaps. We hear again the refrain so common in the other wars — If you knew what we know, you would see how justified all our actions are.

But we can never know what they know. We do not have sufficient clearance.

[Hopefully, and unlike me, you're having too much fun on a Saturday night to read this until Sunday morning. {-;]




* I'm halfway through Chapter 8 - What's Wrong With Religion? Why Be So Hostile?

The above Op-Ed exemplifies the kind of fuzzy thinking and easy manipulation which religious belief in the general populace makes ever so likely.


The Clinton Years held so much promise with the ending of the Cold War, then this muddle headed Chimperor sets up his "War on Terror" baffoonery and sets this nation back decades. What IS needed is for the U.S. to face the facts of how our imperialism causes so much grief amongst nations which don't share our economic and cultural values and reevaluate OUR presence and activities in those parts of the world.

Who knows, perhaps if we get
our shit together, then a lot of those folks might just decide to play follow the leader. Even if that scenario ain't bloody likely to unfold, at least we could focus our dollars and sense (pun intended) upon the many parts of the world where our professed values are shared.

L8

Philosphical -v- Empirical Knowledge

If I don't promise myself to be brief, I'll end up saving this as draft and not be able to share something I think is very important vis-a-vie some comments regarding the "Smokers' Weak Point Identified" article on which I posted.

The comments which prompted this post were both logical and sensible in their call for caution, or their expressed revulsion at the idea of hacking our brains to keeps us from doing other, perhaps less damaging or repugnant, things to our bodies.

While I've really no disagreement with either of those admonitions, I don't really think that anything in the article suggested anything like what they were cautioning against. I probably should have been more articulate in my presentation, but since I wasn't then, I hope that I can be so now, and perhaps clear up any misunderstandings. Of course, it's quite possible that there weren't any of those. Caution is after all an exemplary feature of any research involving the understanding of a biological structure as complex and extraordinary as the brain of Homo Sapiens.


I feel the need to start with a reminder that the man in the article had accidental damage occur via a stroke which destroyed a portion of his brain. Annihilating that part of the brain is emphatically not what the findings suggest as a cure for the addiction to smoking which ensnares millions of people, just like me, the world over. My excitement is that the episode, well documented and supportive of previous discoveries vis-a-vie the brain's architecture, provides knowledge of the results of our brains' components in a direct and extraordinarily definitive manner. Similar occurrences are what gave rise to the research discussed at the end of the Guardian article which I quoted in full.

This is knowledge without which we would continue to be utterly in the dark about the physiological processes which make so many folks be as we are when it comes to giving up Cancer Sticks and other deadly addictions. (I'll leave Dr Dawkins to argue - quite convincingly, IMO - that religion fits in that category quite well.)

I've stated before my understanding that Philosophy can only illuminate so much, and when it fails to provide readily apparent conclusions, a failure it must always face to some extent, it leaves our fantastically intellectual capacities open, in the form of our imaginations, to the perversions of Religious Beliefs; results of fear out of our ignorance which, whilst naturally evolved to console and defend (and entertain?) our psyches, have the ultimate result of keeping our minds from securing the empirical reasons for the "demons" which confront us.

As with removing tonsils, an organ which, once along the path of human evolution, was required for staving off infections, but has since become (possibly during our rising from quad to bipedalism) more a cause than a cure for such phenomena, occluding biological functions may or may not be the Best Thing for everyone.

The findings in the Science study give me hope because they give us knowledge beyond the philosophical realm of educated guesswork. They provide actual empirical evidence which can be considered in order to supply more efficacious means of treatment for folks who Will Die or, at the very least, lead horribly infected lives because "praying for strength" is a placebo which quite simply, and via ubiquitous demonstrations, is absolutely worthless to so many of us.


They say necessity is the mother of invention and it's readily apparent that we often have need for crutches to get us through a time of healing. I think its easily agreed that the invention of crutches follows from the necessity of their function. Just as aspirin (or analgesics in general) dull pain so that we can be more relaxed and allow our bodies to heal naturally with more effectiveness, it's my great hope, my belief even, that drugs which may result from this line of research will provide folk the time and release from philosophical pain we need to Do the things we know that we must, naturally and of our own - often extremely tenuous - Free Will.

namaste

Who (What) Are You?

I don't know why exactly, but I didn't feel right about any of my results when taking Blue Girl's quizzes.

Phoenix? Not yet, eh.


This guy?


Weeehhlll... Not exactly. LOL!

Luckily Aesmael has one I can swing with.

You are Luke Skywalker






















Luke Skywalker
63%
Princess Leia
61%
Han Solo
61%
Padme
61%
Boba Fett
59%
Anakin Skywalker
58%
Yoda
57%
Darth Vader
57%
Qui-Gon Jinn
57%
Obi-Wan Kenobi
57%
You value your friends and loved ones,
but can sometimes act recklessly
because of your emotions.
Occasionally you resort to whining.
You look ahead to great things for yourself.


(This list displays the top 10 results out of a possible 21 characters)

Click here to take the Star Wars Personality Quiz

Whe'er for good or ill (or, more likely, for naught) when I was a kid I always wanted to be Luke.

I mean, these are the types of tests which can make or break a blogger. Right?

Blue Girl was definitely right about at least one thing in her post; Shakespeare's Sister is decidedly NOT entirely Evil, even if she did start it.

{-;

Friday, January 26, 2007

Science Sucks . .

. . the puss of religiosity out of yet another explanation for our human frailties.

From the Guardian UK, Drugs and Alcohol section.
Smokers' weak point identified

Ian Sample, science correspondent
Friday January 26, 2007
The Guardian

A man who abruptly quit his 40-a-day smoking habit after suffering a stroke has helped neuroscientists pinpoint a coin-sized craving-centre in the brain.

The man, a long-term smoker, suffered stroke damage to a part of the brain called the insular, and quit, telling researchers his body "forgot the urge to smoke".

Nasir Naqvoi at the University of Iowa and Antoine Bechara at the brain and creativity institute at the University of Southern California have since identified other patients who quit smoking suddenly after experiencing similar brain damage.

The discovery gives neuroscientists fresh insight into the complex neurological circuitry of the addiction. While neurosurgeons are not about to tackle smoking addiction with a scalpel, it may give scientists clues for developing drugs to combat addicts' urges.

The scientists trawled a database of patient records to investigate the effects of brain damage on behaviour. Their results are published in Science today.

Of 69 smokers who had experienced brain injury, 19 had damage to the insular. All had been smoking at least five cigarettes a day for more than two years. Thirteen with insular damage had quit smoking, 12 suddenly, and had no urge to smoke since. Of 50 patients with damage to other parts of the brain, only four had quit, often after considerable effort.


I provided the Wikipedia linkage as it helps to know to what these articles are referring if we're to trust their reporting. Sounds bloody likely to be a hekkuva good research vein for resolving addictions! {puff}{puff}{slurp}{ahhhh} Woohoo!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

They're All Liars, Cheats and Thieves. Right?



"So what?" you say? "All politicians are the same..."

LOL! Ok. Okay... In some ways, for sure. And if you've depended upon the MSM (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, etc...) exclusively for your knowledge of American political happenings over the last 20 years, then I don't suppose there is much chance you know how woefully inadequate has been your source.

Driftglass provides a highly charged, but equally accurate (read: in all the essentials) look at what actually constitutes some chief differences between Republicans and Democrats these days.
From Driftglass - "The Big Lie"

-----
Rush Limbaugh “returned to radio as a talk show host at KFBK in Sacramento, California” in 1984.

That was 22 years ago.

Al Franken began firing back in the same medium as Limbaugh when he began anchoring a show on Air America, which did not even exist until 2004.

That was two years ago.

So Rush had a twenty-year head start. And in that time his imitators created an entire, integrated radio/teevee/print/cable media Universe based almost entirely on egging the pig people on to mindlessly hate Liberals and blame queers and “feminazis” for every evil on Earth, real or imagined.

For twenty years a polyglot witchbag of sociopaths, Christopaths, Neocons, drunks, demagogues and whores have gotten rich and re-elected by banding together to demonize Liberals and tell the scum of the nation over and over and over again that being the scum of the nation is a noble calling. Or, to misquote H.L Menkin, “No Fox executive ever went broke overestimating the hateful stupidity of the pig people.”

And for twenty years – while the mass purveyors of carefully calibrated hate and rage and xenophobia on the Right gathered more and more power and got more and more vulgar and vicious in their rhetoric – what did the Left try to do?

We tried to find common ground. To meet our opponents half-way.

To compromise…with people who sneered at the very idea of working together and said quite openly that compromise was “political date rape”.

While the Emperor of Weaponized Bile, Newt Gingrich, took over the House with a campaign explicitly based on calling Democrats “traitors” at every opportunity, and Limbaugh was being honored as the “Majority Maker” by those House Republicans, we on the Left were still trying to do and be all the nicey-nicey things that Alan Simpson is now all weepy and wistful for.

And it didn’t work. And while we played by Marquis of Queensbury, the orcs laughed in our faces, overran the joint, and bequeathed to us as its apotheosis the worst, most despicable, most incompetent, most Constitution-loathing Administration in American history.

Al Franken and Air America did not arise in a vacuum. The came into being as a desperate, eleventh-hour attempt to fight back against a twenty year multimedia blitz of unremitting, unrebutted Conservative lies and bigotry.

They arose because no one in the Mainstream Media had the guts to take on the GOP Propaganda Machine head-on. Instead, the MSM collaborated, because collaborating in the Big Lie was a much better, safer career move.
[Read the whole Rant. Is well worth it!]


Obviously the vast majority (if not All) of the folks who read here are under no illusions about our ability to "trust" the MSM, or the reasons our reticence to do so are endemic to the News Industry. None the less, I needed a lead-in to prop Driftglass's excellent essay and, as is so often the case, it's kinda hard to develop an appropriate introduction whilst on my company's dime.

So, like, go read it already! You'll be glad you did.

Me.. I gotta get my arse back to work!

{-;

From Leaping Before Looking Closely



Thusly do I attempt alternatives.



Lao-tze said to cultivate
Tranquility and detachment.
To be natural means not to force things.
When you act natural, you get what you need,
But to know what is natural,
You have to cultivate tranquility.

- Master Hsieh

"Lip Service" to Feeling Better

Well, actually it's a little more than that. Not a lot, but still I'm hoping this Elvis Costello concert on Wolfgang's Vault will help me drag my ass back outta this stupid assed abyss of emocity.

blah blah blah . . . But at least the music's cool as hell.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Hhmmm...


I prefer baked on a bay leaves and olive oil base and lightly seasoned.

Whatever....

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

"The future is bleak . . . "

Well... Isn't that pleasant. . .
Report has 'smoking gun' on climate
By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science Writer Mon Jan 22, 10:06 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Human-caused global warming is here, visible in the air, water and melting ice, and is destined to get much worse in the future, an authoritative global scientific report will warn next week.

"The smoking gun is definitely lying on the table as we speak," said top U.S. climate scientist Jerry Mahlman, who reviewed all 1,600 pages of the first segment of a giant four-part report. "The evidence ... is compelling."

The AP story gives a recounting of the development process for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report which is to be released in four parts over the course of this year.

While there're plenty of incidentals to make GCC nay-sayers snivel about "bureaucratic overkill" and other such "subtle" ghost arguments, the amount of effort, research and rigorous analyses that have gone into this report should finally put to rest any lingering doubts as to the forecast for our planet's near-term future.

And I don't just mean that in a geological sense. If you're under 50, as am I, it's not just your grandchildren's lifetimes which will be buffeted by catastrophic environmental changes. It is our own.
The February report will have "much stronger evidence now of human actions on the change in climate that's taken place," Rajendra K. Pachauri told the AP in November. Pachauri, an Indian climatologist, is the head of the international climate change panel.

An early version of the ever-changing draft report said "observations of coherent warming in the global atmosphere, in the ocean, and in snow and ice now provide stronger joint evidence of warming."

And the early draft adds: "An increasing body of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on other aspects of climate including sea ice, heat waves and other extremes, circulation, storm tracks and precipitation."

The world's global average temperature has risen about 1.2 degrees Fahrenheit from 1901 to 2005. The two warmest years on record for the world were 2005 and 1998. Last year was the hottest year on record for the United States.

The report will draw on already published peer-review science. Some recent scientific studies show that temperatures are the hottest in thousands of years, especially during the last 30 years; ice sheets in Greenland in the past couple years have shown a dramatic melting; and sea levels are rising and doing so at a faster rate in the past decade.

[Ain't no "Chicken Little" baby]
The sky may not be falling (at least outside of the many war-zones the world over) but it sure is about to start gettin' medieval on our asses.

Happy Tuesday . . .

Monday, January 22, 2007

Blogging For Choice


Blog for Choice Day - January 22, 2007

While I do have my own story, one I'm fairly sure I've shared somewhere on this blog, I have a tendency to get "all panicky" when writing on feminist topics*. While I actually consider Health Care a Humanist topic, it's obvious that I will never face a personal decision as to whether or not I need to terminate a pregnancy in my own body.

Thus bein' the case, though admittedly it's mostly the panicky bit, I offer this link to another exemplary essay from a much clicked upon resident of my sidebar, Suzanne at C.U.S.S and Other Rants. I hope you take the time to read her Op piece on the Metro site as well.
From 34 Years of Legal Abortion: Blog for Choice Day

*****
Women are people already. We have the right to decide if we want to undergo these risks or not. No one has the right to impose these risks on an unwilling woman. It is nice for you if your religion says that life begins at conception. Your religion is not the law, nor should it be. Your religion does not grant a zygote more rights to life than a living woman has. As a woman, I have a life. There are no debates about whether I am alive or not. As such, my rights always supersede the rights your religion grants a fetus. At the end of the day, women will always decide for themselves whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term. The only difference is whether we have the legal right to a safe medical procedure or whether we need to seek out potentially life-threatening illegal abortions. AGI reports that 13% of pregnancy-related deaths worldwide are from unsafe abortions. These unnecessary deaths are undisputable blood on someone’s hands, and those hands belong to the forced childbirth movement.
Thank ya, woman, For all you blog!

{-:

*****

* Oh, I know why. Is just not as "bad" a cause as my silly residual Catholic shame-complex makes it seem.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Adieu Art

I've heard Art Buchwald's name far more often than I've read his work. As I seem to recall, while I didn't always agree with the angle he took, I generally couldn't help but at least let out a *snort* or two when reading him.

It seems to me that Buchwald's legacy lives on fiercely in the culturally relevant snark and satire of so many bloggers whom I read or have read. He took chances in his life and made fun of Big Bosses from Ike through Shrub, some maybe not as bitingly as I would've enjoyed. Other's perhaps more so. But again, I was only a very casual reader so am sure that I missed a lot.

Is a wonderful Obit in the WaPo. One I'm thinking Art would appreciate.

Just as long as we keep on talkin' 'bout him, eh.

{-;

This excerpt from the story is about his origins in New York city. I found it interesting how hard he had it when young and how much he made of his opportunities and his innate wit and upbeat disposition.
Art Buchwald, 1925-2007

By Patricia Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 19, 2007; Page A01

*****
Buchwald was born in New York City on Oct. 20, 1925, to a struggling, Austrian-born drape installer and a mother who suffered from chronic depression. Shortly after his birth, his mother was institutionalized. She lived for 35 more years but never saw her son again.

He had rickets and lived his first year in a foundling home before being sent to a Seventh-Day Adventist home for sick children. He stayed there until he was 5, with one of his three sisters. Their father, unable to support his children during the Depression, then placed them with the Hebrew Orphan Asylum in Manhattan.

In "Leaving Home," Buchwald wrote that, at about 6 or 7, he realized he could deal with the loneliness and confusion by becoming the class clown. He said he recognized that he could draw laughs by making fun of the people in charge.

"It was a dangerous profession I had chosen," he recalled, "because no one likes a funny kid. In fact, adults are scared silly of them and tend to warn children who act out that they are going to wind up in prison or worse. It is only when you grow up that they pay you vast sums of money to make them laugh."

[For the rest of the three web-pager. Is well worth the read, IMO.]

Saturday, January 20, 2007

I Never . . . I Never . . .

So I had this dream where I kissed my friend, lightly, on the lips. No biggy, right? She asked me, "why?" and kissed me again, the same way. Then again...

I got cold sweats and woke up.

There's nothing there. Not like that anyway.

I'm back to thinking 'bout goin' to the UU church my sister attends. I simply need more friends...

Free Anal Probes!

You just might have to wait 10 billion years or so for one.

{-;
Aliens need a lot more time to find us
* 09:30 20 January 2007

"So, where is everybody?" Nobel laureate Enrico Fermi reportedly quipped to fellow physicists in 1950, when discussing why we haven't seen any signs of alien civilisations if, as many believe, our galaxy is teeming with life. Now, a maths model may have an answer to Fermi's paradox.

Rasmus Björk of the Niels Böhr Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark, has calculated that eight probes - travelling at a tenth of the speed of light and each capable of launching up to eight sub-probes - would take about 100,000 years to explore a region of space containing 40,000 stars. When Björk scaled up the search to include 260,000 such systems in our galaxy's habitable zone, the probes took almost 10 billion years - three-quarters the age of the universe - to explore just 0.4 per cent of the stars (http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph?papernum=0701238).

So, Björk's answer to the Fermi paradox: aliens haven't contacted us because they haven't had the time to find us yet.

He adds that the search could be optimised by visiting only those stars that harbour habitable planets, which could be identified by planet-finding missions such as NASA's Terrestrial Planet Finder. Björk is also "cautiously optimistic" about listening out for aliens with radio telescopes.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Our Pale Blue Micro-Dot

Is another email from an hombre at work. I'm only guessing that it's accurate but I'm fairly certain that it's at least close.

If anyone has seen this online somewhere, could you let me know? I always like to link the attribution but wasn't provided one with the email.

namaste

Subject: LITTLE EARTH

Now, THIS is really fascinating .
It is rather dazzling to see it presented this way.


?

?

?
I certainly thought this was enlightening. Didn't even realize we knew much beyond our sun ...

It's a big universe.


Antares is the 15th brightest star in the sky.


It is more than 1000 light years away.


A State of Trance

Whilst my clubbin' buddy would look at me aghast and wonder just what the hekk I've been smoking, this show from Wolfgang's Vault is taking me to just such a groovy internal place.

Shake, Oh! Shake It Sugaree!

If'n you need a little more assistance trippin' down memory lane, here's some pics of a nearby show on the same tour.

Thanks again to mi 'migo Jack for turnin' me on to this site. You'll need to provide an eddress to check it, but the only drawback seems to be that they'll then let you know, once a week so far, when more good stuff is available.

Enjoy

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

After All His Protests to the Contrary . . .

Looks like Shrub's finally taking someone's advice, even when it goes against his Chimperial Will, after all.
Bush won't reauthorize eavesdropping

"Any electronic surveillance that was occurring as part of the Terrorist Surveillance Program will now be conducted subject to the approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court," Gonzales said.

Gonzales said a judge on the secret FISA court recently approved a government proposal allowing it to target communications into and out of the United States when probable cause exists that one person is a member of al Qaeda or an associated terrorist organization.

He reiterated the administration's position that the surveillance program has been legal, but said the government will now have the ability to act with sufficient "speed and agility."

White House spokesman Tony Snow said the new rules approved by the court addressed administration concerns.

"The president will not reauthorize the present program because the new rules will serve as guideposts," Snow said.

Gonzales' letter came the day before he was scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where the Democrats now in power were expected to question him closely about the much-criticized program.
I'm thinking he's thinking Impeachment may not be too far off, after all.

After all that he's done to circumvent the Constitution. After all of the people who've lost their lives as a direct result of his greed, stupidity and hubris. After all the billions of dollars spent trying to prove delusions and phantoms of Neocon glee...

This be far too little and way too late.

Though perhaps it's not too much of the latter to do the job the Duplicitor in Chief hopes for it; forestalling Congress from doing its job and trying him on a few more counts than just illegally spying on citizens of the United States. Not that he's off the hook on that one yet.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (news, bio, voting record), a Vermont Democrat and the judiciary committee's chairman, said Bush's decision will provide efficient and meaningful court review.

"We must engage in all surveillance necessary to prevent acts of terrorism, but we can and should do so in ways that protect the basic rights of all Americans including the right to privacy," he said.

Sen. Charles Schumer (news, bio, voting record), a New York Democrat and a judiciary committee member, said, "Why it took five years to go to even this secret court is beyond comprehension."

Last year a federal judge in Detroit ordered the Bush administration to stop the surveillance because it violates Americans' civil rights.

U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor said the program violated a constitutional check on the power of the presidency and said there "are no hereditary kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution."

The Bush administration has appealed the ruling to a federal appeals court, where the case is pending.


[The complete Reuters' article via Yahoo! News]

We'll be seeing, eh.

Simply Yourself


It works even better for me together with The Spiritual Light excerpt by Yuan-hsien in Elana's "On The Way".

Namaste

Addendum:


"Before enlightenment
- Chopping wood and hauling water
After enlightenment
- Chopping wood and hauling water"

There is always wood and water, though for many in times such as ours, it may be only in wistful remembrance.

Thanks, Milo. Hang in there.

Google Goodies - Fantastic Photos

I just cross-posted this one on American Homo. It looks so much better with the black background I use on that blog. Check it out if you've the time.
---

I've made Google my Home Page because of all the neato little gizmos you can add. There're the typical Headlines and Scores and such, but my favorite part is the Tabbed Pages.

This picture is from a gizmo called Interesting Photos of the Day which I've included on my Fun Stuff tab. The gizmo cycles through presumably random Flickr photos and clicking on the currently showing pic takes you to that photographer's photostream.

Thats how I found this following scene from any of thousands of incredible fantasy novels. Click on the pic to see it really large. I would totally love to be in that space.

Happy Humpday all. . .

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Not That U Need to Know He's Got One . . .

Your Ideology, Mr President, is Decidedly Not Mine

There are, of course, several ways to go about Impeachment of an elected official.

I just received the following comment on yesterday's "Educator/Ideologue ?" post. Since I've been all over the blogosphere, reading and mmm mmm mmming this morning, I don't have much time, and think it's best to let Casual speak for his self anyway.

Well, our chance to convince Nancy Pelosi to Impeach Bush/Cheney is this Tuesday Jan. 16th..

Pelosi most likely said impeachment was "off the table" to remove any appearance of conflict-of-interest that would arise if she were thrust into the presidency as a result of the coming impeachment.

What we need to do is to pressure Pelosi not to interfere with impeachment maneuverings within her party. Sending her Do-It-Yourself impeachments legitimizes her when she is forced to join the impeachment movement in the future.

Sacks and sacks of mail are about to arrive in Nancy Pelosi's office initiating impeachment via the House of Representative's own rules this Monday January 15th. This legal document is as binding as if a State or if the House itself passed the impeachment resolution (H.R. 635).

There's a little known and rarely used clause of the "Jefferson Manual" in the rules for the House of Representatives which sets forth the various ways in which a president can be impeached. Only the House Judiciary Committee puts together the Articles of Impeachment, but before that happens, someone has to initiate the process.That's where we come in. In addition to a House Resolution (635), or the State-by-State method, one of the ways to get impeachment going is for individual citizens like you and me to submit a memorial. ImpeachforPeace.org has created a new memorial based on one which was successful in impeaching a federal official in the past. You can find it on their website as a PDF.

You can initiate the impeachment process and simultaneously help to convince Pelosi to follow through with the process. Do-It-Yourself by downloading the memorial, filling in the relevant information (your name, state, etc.), and sending it in. Be a part of history.

Impeach Bush Now

Causal, at Tuesday, January 16, 2007 5:52:34 AM


Welcome back to the work-week, Bankers and Teachers and kids, Oh My!

{-;

Monday, January 15, 2007

"Democrats don't be a bunch of . . . "

Well, you'll see. Hope you enjoy this "first timer's" video blog, eh. Though ya may want to make sure the wee kiddos aren't listening.



Tip o' my hat to "ea". Thanks, m'lady! I needed that.


G'night all.

{-;

Diversity Days

Happy Marting Luther King, Jr Day!

So many people roll their eyes at this "bank holiday". We (yeah, sometimes I've a done it too) shake our heads and proclaim it just another silly reason for kids to get out of school, or teachers to do even less than so many folks (emphatically NOT including me) seem to think they do. MLK Day is one holiday which the children of Trickle-down Ronnie's legacy do shrug off as hardly worth their time to acknowledge, much less have personal cause to celebrate.

With this new research, as presented via the WaPo by Shankar Vedantam, the empirical evidence that Diversity within our great America Melting pot is both desirable and efficacious towards our long-term health and growth, continues to pile up.

Businesses, Politicians and Reactionary Fundamentalists take note:
In Boardrooms and in Courtrooms, Diversity Makes a Difference
By Shankar Vedantam
Monday, January 15, 2007; Page A02

*****
Cedrick Herring has just completed his study. He found that companies that are more diverse have more customers, a larger share of their markets and greater profitability. In fact, when Herring puts his numbers on a graph, he finds a linear relationship between diversity and business success, meaning that as diversity increases, those business indicators increase in step.

"Those companies that have very low levels of racial and ethnic minorities have the lowest profits and the lowest market share and the lowest number of customers," he said. "Those that have medium levels do better, and those that have the highest levels do the best."

Herring got his results by obtaining data about diversity levels and business performance from about 250 companies. He verified the information with independent statistics from Dun & Bradstreet Corp. and documents filed with the federal government. The 250 companies are representative of all U.S. businesses with more than 10 employees -- from the restaurant down the street that employs a dozen people to multinational corporations with thousands of workers. Herring found the same relationship between diversity and business success whether a company was large or small.

While Herring's study points to the benefits of diversity, it does not directly address the contentious question of how it should be achieved.

As a good scientist, he is cautious about the result and says it does not prove that companies do better because they are diverse. What the study shows is a correlation between diversity and business success. While diversity could be the cause of better business outcomes, it is also possible, for example, that companies that are successful to begin with do a better job of attracting and retaining minorities.

[For the whole of the article]

"Educator-in-Chief" or Insane Ideologue?

Reality overwhelmingly recommends the latter appellation.
U.S. and Iraqis Are Wrangling Over War Plans
By JOHN F. BURNS
Published: January 15, 2007
This article was reported by John F. Burns, Sabrina Tavernise and Marc Santora, and written by Mr. Burns.

BAGHDAD, Jan. 14 — Just days after President Bush unveiled a new war plan calling for more than 20,000 additional American troops in Iraq, the heart of the effort — a major push to secure the capital — faces some of its fiercest resistance from the very people it depends on for success: Iraqi government officials.

American military officials have spent days huddled in meetings with Iraqi officers in a race to turn blueprints drawn up in Washington into a plan that will work on the ground in Baghdad. With the first American and Iraqi units dedicated to the plan due to be in place within weeks, time is short for setting details of what American officers view as the decisive battle of the war.

But the signs so far have unnerved some Americans working on the plan, who have described a web of problems — ranging from a contested chain of command to how to protect American troops deployed in some of Baghdad’s most dangerous districts — that some fear could hobble the effort before it begins.

First among the American concerns is a Shiite-led government that has been so dogmatic in its attitude that the Americans worry that they will be frustrated in their aim of cracking down equally on Shiite and Sunni extremists, a strategy President Bush has declared central to the plan.

“We are implementing a strategy to embolden a government that is actually part of the problem,” said an American military official in Baghdad involved in talks over the plan. “We are being played like a pawn.”

[For the rest of the "duh, you stupid hegemonic ignorami in the White House" article]
{shakin'head}

Add to that, I fell asleep during the Pats-Chargers' game last night, and woke to the faux Texas twang of President Bush ending his interview on 60 Minutes thusly -
Mr. Pelley: Final question. How can you escalate the war when so many people in this country seem to be against it?

Mr. Bush: I’m gonna have to keep explaining. That’s why I’m doing this interview with you. Scott; sometimes you’re the commander-in-chief, sometimes you’re the educator-in-chief, and a lot of times you’re both when it comes to war. And, we are in an ideological struggle. And it’s a really classic ideological struggle. And — Iraq is part of it. And it’s very important for me to not only continue to explain why I believe we can be successful in Iraq but explain to people that what happens in the Middle East will affect the future of this country.

[Bush on '60 Minutes': The Only Plan]
The Preznit is so determined to accomplish his mission in Iraq (whatever it is and regardless that he said it was already Accomplished almost 4* years ago!) that he actually appears to be living in a dream in which such can happen, regardless of the fact that his puppet government in Iraq has cut their strings and Decided upon a Course of their own.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Bushian nightmares are all too common these days.

Impeach him NOW, Congress. All your protestations of inefficacy to the contrary, this man is a deadly danger to our country and to the lives of millions around the planet.

If you don't Impeach, and do so very soon, the Congressional complicity of the 110th in the Bush Administration's crimes against the Constitution and humanity will like to match that of previous incarnations of your august institution.

Impeach Now!


*****

* Thanks to an anonymous commenter for pointing out that it was nearly 4 years ago that Bush claimed "Mission Accomplish", and not 3 as I had written.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

"lethal blow to Zionism"?

Well, one can certainly hope so.

While I'm not gonna be counting on it, Israel's very first appointment of an ethnic Arab to that nation's Cabinet is indeed an auspicious occasion.
Israel names first Arab minister

Israel's Labour party leader has appointed Raleb Majadele as science and technology minister - making him the first Arab Muslim in Israel's cabinet.

. . .
Mr Majadele replaces Ophir Pines-Paz who quit last October in protest at the addition of ultra-nationalist party Yisrael Beitenu to the coalition.

However, Mr Majadele's appointment has drawn angry criticism.

Esterina Tartman, chairman of Yisrael Beitenu, said Mr Majadele's appointment was a "lethal blow to Zionism", the Haaretz news website reported.
Jeez oh Petes. Sounds like a wing nut suggesting that "letting" a newly elected Congressperson swear their oath of office on a Qur'an is tantamount to the undermining of American civilization.

There's a lot that needs remediating between the two peoples of Israel/Palestine. Reaching out in such a way is going to incur consequences, both good and bad, and in my googling on Mr. Majadele, I found a little of both, a wee bit o' the good of which I'll leave you with.
A Timely Appointment
. . . .

The appointment of a minority MK to the portfolio isn't entirely unexpected; there have been previous rumors that Peretz intended to name a non-Jewish candidate in order to "compensate" for accepting Yisraeli Beiteinu as a coalition partner. The candidate most often mentioned, however, was Shakib Shanan, a Druze party activist who just missed being elected to the Knesset last year. Shanan was a political novice, but he was also a Peretz loyalist, and given that Avoda's two Arab MKs were lukewarm toward Peretz, he was expected to pass them over in Shanan's favor.

Since then, however, the equation has changed. Peretz is fighting for his life in a party chairmanship election scheduled for May, and the Arab sector is a bigger constituency within the party than the Druze sector. Suddenly, Peretz' personal and policy differences with Majadele mattered less than the need to win Arab party members to his side in the leadership election, so Majadele - who, coincidentally, is Avoda's most senior Arab MK - got the nod.

[Read the rest at The Head Heeb.]

Those Devilish Details



Don't think about the details while becoming lost in this King Crimson concert*. Experience them.

Thanks Jack. That was intense.


♫♫♫♫♫

* You'll have to register with an email address but it's quick and, presumably, painless.

Friday, January 12, 2007

CBS Polls the Electorate . .

. . while the Chimperor continues to pole the civilized world.
Iraq Plan Draws Criticism, Mockery On Hill
President's Plan To Send More Troops To Iraq Meets Opposition From Both Democrats And Republicans

Jan. 11, 2007

-----
Americans' opinions apparently were not swayed very much by President Bush's speech outlining his new strategy, according to a CBS News poll.

Fifty percent of those who saw the speech said they disapprove of the president's proposals, while 37 percent said they approve. Just one-third of those surveyed said they support Mr. Bush's call to send more than 20,000 additional troops to Iraq.

Following the speech, 68 percent of Americans — the same number as prior to the speech — said they were uneasy about the president's ability to make decisions about Iraq.
Now, obviously I ain't one to rely willy-nilly on what a majority of people believe when it comes to doing what is right (can you say "the majority of people suffer from a God Delusion"?) So I "understand the President" when he says he can't let Policy be set by the whim of the pollsters.

On the other hand, his abilities as Teh Decider do seem to beg for any reason at all to moderate his ideas of what is "best for the country."

Since I found the CBS story via Darwin, I'm gonna wrap up this look at an American Lunatic with double D's take on another profoundly disturbing example of what kind of hiring decisions the President of the United States of America has made to date.
At one point Gates, just three weeks on the job, told lawmakers, "I would confess I'm no expert on Iraq." Later, asked about reaching the right balance between American and Iraqi forces, he told the panel he was "no expert on military matters."
So the Secretary of Defense, the man in charge of the largest, most lethal military complex ever developed, is no expert no military matters. Are they just finding people under rocks to do the most vital jobs in the administration?

[Darwin's Dagger: What Did He Just Say?]

Shake It Off and Step Up

I'm pretty sure that I've never posted this joke/parable before. I've thought about it a lot though, 'cause it's really something I've reminded myself about during so many bizarro times in my life.

Well, there is an extra bit at the end of this one. After the Give More - Expect Less confusion (expect less from others, is what I believe it's saying,) there's a kinda cruel karmic tag which I don't recall from earlier versions. Makes sense, too, IMO. Harsh as may be.


Tip o' m' cap to a coworker whose sense of humor generally triggers my own laughter in very timely ways. Hope it gives a chuckle this morning, eh.

L8

One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a
well. The animal cried piteously for hours as
the farmer tried to figure out what to do.

Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the
well needed to be covered up anyway;

it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and
help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began
to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the
donkey realized what was happening and cried
horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement he
quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally
looked down the well. He was astonished at what
he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his
back, the donkey was doing something amazing.
He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel
dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it
off and take a step up.

Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey
stepped up over the edge of the well and
happily trotted off!

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds
of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well
is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of
our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out
of the deepest wells just by not stopping,
never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:


Free your heart from hatred - Forgive.

Free your mind from worries - Most never happen.

Live simply and appreciate what you have.


Give more.

Expect less



NOW
............


Enough of that crap
. . The donkey later came back,

and bit the farmer who had tried to bury him.

The gash from the bite got infected and

the farmer eventually died in agony from septic shock.



MORAL FROM TODAY'S LESSON:


When you do something wrong, and try to cover
your ass, it always comes back to bite you.

You have two choices...smile and close this
page, or pass this along to someone else to
spread the fun.






A Lily By Any Other Name . .

. . would still have been as lovely and supportive of her monstrously hilarious TV family if played by Yvonne de Carlo.


Adieu sweet flower of the Hollywood Hills.

Hey Jim!

Hey all. This is sort of a "reach out" to one particular blogger who I'm not sure how to get in touch with to request clarification and/or assistance.

I was just reading Mando Mama's post on what an emotionally and intellectually immature brat our Preznit is, and I figured I'd try, once again, to shimmy thru the maze that is a conflict between my GMail acount, Blogger account, Google account and whatever the hekk else that company now owns and operates.

Alas, this time had the same result as always. I got your invite, and immediately tried to login and say "thanks!" but have not been able to jump their hurdles. Is especially funny because it tells me my Blogger (Google?) username and password combination, the same combo I used to write this post, is "unknown". WTH?! Ditto my new Blogger (Google?) credentials.

Ahhh, well. I just want to shout out and ask that, if you get this, you could email me (bainsmac at gmail dot com) another invite - or at least clarification as to whether or not the first one was revoked. I was just getting caught up on My Boring Best and am a little bummed to not be able to enjoy it anymore.

That's all.

Oh, and Happy Friday all!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Letter to the Editors of America's Newspapers


I get my regular email updates from Howard Dean and the Democrats. Despite not being able to read through most of the because they just fall so short of proposing any seriously effective plans to end the war, today's contained that linkable logo and a request to write to the editor of my local paper.

Well, you know me. . .


From: Michael Bains
**************
***
Lakewood, OH 44107
**********

To: The Plain Dealer (and) The Washington Post

Subject: Worse Than Vietnam

Message:

This will take a few, but the lives of thousands, and the Liberties of millions are at stake.

Since soon after the trajedy of September 11th, President Bush has claimed that Iraq's Saddam Hussein was part of an Axis of Evil, fomenting Terrorism and constituting a threat to America's National Security.

One by one were his reasons for the invasion disproven and discredited, some as misguided Intelligence, others as pure delusion on the part of the President and his supporters, many before the first shocks of our great country's military might failed to awe those who are filled with hatred for our economic and cultural influence upon their part of civilization.

Iraq, albeit ruled by a psychotically murderous despot, was by all analyses, one of the most "Democratic" and egalitarian of Middle Eastern nations. Now though, after Mr. Bush's hegemonic attempt to bring our Western version of Democracy to that country, it is shattered along sectarian and regional divisions which show no indication of being amenable to Western "rehabilitation." The fact that these divisions existed in slumber before our Presidents "pre-emptive attack", only exacerbated the effect and set the groundwork for ever more wrong moves to come via the Course the President's has been Staying.

Our Congress has approved billions of dollars, not just for military ventures, but for the rebuilding of Iraq's infrastructure, it's highways, power plants, oil pumps and hospitals. Most of this money has gone to one American company to do the work; Halliburton - the company which pays Vice President Cheney deferred retirement benefits to the tune of $150,000 annually. This company has absorbed reconstruction dollars that might more efficaciously been paid to Iraqi firms using Iraqi workers. Workers who would then be too gainfully employed and have too much pride of ownership in their product to stand by whilst "insurgents" bomb and otherwise sabotage their efforts.

What was Very Real during the long and disastrous conflict in Vietnam was the still fresh History of aggressive Communist expansion throughout Eastern Europe and Asia. While the case for staunching that expansion was unquestionably sound, the experience of trying to guide a sovereign nation's political course was shown, even then, to be both futile and self-destructive to any country who would show such hubristic determination.

In Iraq, President Bush's "course" has resulted in the opposite of his stated reasons for going there. Iraq has become an ever growing base of terrorism and anti-American rage which, if something profoundly different from anything George Bush has yet proposed is not tried, shows every indication of swelling the numbers of human beings who will do anything to stop America - you, me, our families and friends - from destroying their homelands and their lives.

The Democrats overwhelmed their Republican opponents in this past November's elections, and they should not only continue to question the President over this foolish and profoundly hubristic plan, they should do everything in their Constitutionally proscribed power to stop it.

The people made their voice heard and, while no American can relish their President being brought to trial as a criminal against humanity, far less can we stomach the slaughter for wealth and power which the past six years of Bush Administration usurpation of Congress' Constitutional prerogatives, its disregard for the publics' Liberties and right to be free from a Big Brotheresque inquisition by our own government, have produced.

This President must be Impeached. The Law must judge him, and do so soon, before ever more billions of American dollars, thousands of American military personnel, and 10s of thousands of Iraqi human beings' lives are lost forever.

I added the link to Halliburton Watch for this post. It's not in the email, though, and despite the quietude of the Press on this enormous matter, I'm sure they're well aware of its substance.