Saturday, March 19, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

God, why doesn't somebody cut the Pentagon's feeding tube? And big oil and MBNA's, while we're at it? Oh, you think people aren't dying for those reasons? You don't think that? Why on earth not? Puh-leeze.

Steroids weren't enough of a distraction, so now Terry Schiavo. Utterly shameless and disgusting. Delay's kinda like a drunken stranger showing up at a funeral, making a loud speech, and then vomiting into the cold cuts before collapsing into a corner. Anyone in the family know who that guy is? No, didn't think do.

Of course, from a purely political standpoint, you've gotta give the Partei credit. They have an eye for the main chance like no political machine in the history of thhe world. Most Americans don't know who Delay is, and this is how he's going to introduce himself to them. As a defender of "life."

"Culture of life," my sweet Aunt Fanny. Tell that to the 250 death row inmates Bush had killed with sloppy memos written by Alberto Gonzales. Tell that to the 3000 WTC dead who might be alive today if Condi had read the 200 memos Clarke sent her on Al Qaeda. Tell that to the 1500 American dead in Iraq. Tell that to the 100,000 Iraqi civilians. Tell that to the working poor, the sick, the old, the homeless who are going to die, with no Good Samaritan to defend them, while the money that could prolong their days and give them dignity gets pissed away in tax cuts for those who already have so much they don't know what to do with it.

And for some reason, the Dems—the gutless, feckless Beltway Dems—they're letting Delay use them as a shovel to dig himself out of a jam. Worse, they're letting Delay use the living corpse of a braindead woman to dig himself out of a jam.

Fine, politically this is all brutal: An unstoppable train. Do the Dems actually have to get on board? Do they have to ask the engineer if they can sit in his lap, wear his hat for a minute, and maybe blow the whistle once? WTF?

I'm not asking for Harry Reid to speak out; I'm just asking him to be silent, and be smart enough to have a surrogate say something like: "I'm sure Congressman Delay's recent legal and ethical troubles have nothing to do with this." Or "I'm sure the collapse of Bush's plans to phase out Social Security would never lead him to change the subject in this way." Or "The Constitution, if Congressman Delay will study it for a moment, forbids making laws directed at individuals." Et cetera. Or maybe, just maybe, talk about life as it should be. Eh?

Yet the gutless, feckless, craven, enabling—oh, I'm sorry, "responsible"—Beltway Dems bend over once again, and ask the Republicans "Please sir, may I have some more?"

All when 80% of Americans, were they in Terry Schiavo's position, a living corpse, would to die with dignity, a dignity Delay has grossly, obscenely violated, all for a momentary bump in the polls.

Good lord almighty. Have they no decency? At long last, have they no decency?


The Senate session Saturday evening was convened to formally give necessary permission for the House to meet Sunday, when it otherwise would be in recess under a previously passed Easter recess resolution.

The plan is for the House to act on the two-page bill Sunday, or just after midnight Monday morning if someone objects to the bill being taken up on an expedited basis Sunday.

Gee, Sunday. Well, at least they had the decency not to wait 'til Easter Sunday. I guess that would have been too much, even for these guys.

Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla., issued a statement late Saturday saying he will object to the unanimous consent request.

Good for Wexler. Does Reid have his back? Surely you jest:

At a news conference after the Senate session Saturday, Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, thanked the Democratic leadership for cooperating on an expedited procedure to consider the legislation. He singled out Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Carl Levin of Michigan as two who had reservations about the bill, but agreed not to use Senate rules or traditions to block its consideration.

"Please sir, may I some more?" Again, if it's unstoppable, fine. But be silent! Don't let the enemy pat you on the head! Like Harkin, for example:

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, appeared at the news conference with Santorum and others in support of the compromise.

Right down that yellow streak in the middle of the road. Because you know one thing that makes "life" here in the US good? The Constitution. Which, of course, the Republicans have no respect for, indeed no knowledge of. Think that's over the top?

GOP Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said the measure was "narrowly targeted" and did not set a precedent.

Right, doesn't set a precedent... What does that remind me of? Wait a minute... Oh, Bush v. Gore! But it's worse. What Sensenbrenner doesn't understand is that it's exactly the bill's narrow drawing that makes it a bill of attainder—a law in which the legislature usurps the judicial function by targeting a single individual.

Why is that bad? Well, let's do a little thought experiment. We all remember this heartwarming story about Senator Santorum:

Their fourth baby died ... two hours after an emergency delivery. The [Santorums] took [the] body home to let their three young children see and hold the [dead] baby before burying him, according to Karen Santorum’s book of the ordeal, "Letters to Gabriel."

So, look. The Republicans, no matter what they say, have just set a precedent where laws can be passed targetting individuals; again, that's a bill of attainder, forbidden by the Constitution.

So, could Congress pass a law putting the Santorums, personally, in jail for abusing a corpse? Yes, they could. In fact, when you think about it, that's exactly what the Republicans are doing to Terry Schiavo right now.

And, could Congress pass a law targetting you because you didn't bring your dead child home for your living children to touch? Sure. That's the precedent they've set.

All dignity, all honesty, all pretence at fairness or decency, all gone. The Constitution, gone. All so Tom Delay doesn't get indicted, Santorum holds his seat, and Bush gets a bump in the polls, and maybe gets to gut Social Security after all.

Unbelievable. Maybe if half the country had any representation in Washington... Oh, but I dream, don't I. Night, all.

The Demagoguery Continues 

You'd think Republicans would get tired of violating the separation of powers in the Constitution, wouldn't you?

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. - As a deal in Congress was worked out to have federal courts decide Terri Schiavo's fate, emotions swelled outside the brain-damaged woman's hospice room Saturday, with protesters arrested after they symbolically tried to smuggle in bread and water on her second day without a feeding tube.

President Bush (news - web sites) changed his schedule to return to Washington from his Texas ranch on Sunday to be on hand to sign the legislation.

As supporters maintained a vigil outside the hospice, Schiavo's mother pleaded for the 41-year-old woman's life.

"We laugh together, we cry together, we smile together, we talk together," Mary Schindler told reporters. "Please, please, please save my little girl."

Congressional leaders announced a compromise between Senate and House Republicans that would allow the brain-damaged woman's case to be reviewed by federal courts that could restore her feeding tube.

The Senate convened briefly Saturday evening to give formal permission for the House to meet Sunday, when it otherwise would be adjourned for the Easter recess.

The plan is for the House to act on the two-page bill Sunday or just after midnight Monday morning. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said the Senate then would act on the House legislation, assuming it passes the House as envisioned, and rush the bill to the president for signature into law.

"We should investigate every avenue before we take the life of a living human being," said House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas. "That's the very least we can do for her."
(via AP)
Oh yeah, Tom. I remember how you were such an incredible advocate of preserving life a couple of years ago. You really busted your ass trying to find a peaceful solution prior to IraqWar Part II -- a conflict that has now killed tens of thousands.

Am I remembering something wrong? This isn't all just shameless political grandstanding designed to distract the public from W's 45% approval rating, is it?

I'm so disgusted I don't know quite what to say.

Evahbody Want to Go to Heaven, None of Dem Want to Die 

Had me a vision where a angel, no shit—a honest to Yahweh angel—came a-swoopin outta heaven (or somewhere UP there) and started grabbin the backstabbers and syndicators and swindlers and litterbugs and fascist sycophants, yeah! you know, the willfully ignorant, jes grabbin em right out of their SUVs and their fat verandas and their BMWs and their high rise office buildins and their boardrooms and plush bedrooms, yankin em outta their oval offices and pulpits, snatchin em off their gummint-subsidized tractors an outta their swimmin pools like they was sacks a taters, stuffin em into a bigger sack marked “deader’n shit” an haulin em off to a court like they used to describe to me in Hebrew school, a long hall at the end of which, way up higher’n they could really see, on a bench, where some white-haired ol crone looks inna book an sez, sorta low and grumbly like:


Well, I did everything I could to kill queers an make them see the error of their ways. Voted for godly men and, even though I think their place is in the home, women. Watched Bill O’Reilly and the 700 Club.


And I, uh, gave lots of money to the religion of my choice, AND their chosen political party. And I made LOTSA money, so y’know, wink wink nudge nudge.


I, ah, protested against abortion. Even killed me a baby-killer. Even though that’s a secret. I spread the true Word of God everywhere I went.

—I see alla that inna book here. So?

Well, um…can I come in, then? I believed in a culture of life.

—And there’s laughin and hollerin from up on the bench like you never heard, a packa hyenas couldn’t make so much eerie noise, and a ol white-bearded fella starts readin the list of charges, and the folks down there, they commence to looking at their feet, right down at their shiny loafers an pumps that was jes’ shined this mornin by a ol fella at the office lobby and saying

But we never knew

—And that leads to more knee-slappin and guffawin…Stop, stop, the folks up on the bench are beggin, you’re killin us, oooh, ha ha, he he he…

Well, maybe it was just a dream. Seeing’s how I’m a godless socialist, secular humanist-type and have been for, lo! these many years. And I did fall asleep in the chair listening to the Brandenburg Concertos. And I have had a few—okay, lots of—snorts out of the ol kickapoo joy juice.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

Almost Cut My Hair 

I almost broke my code of nonviolent resistance today, when a big old SUV covered with yellow and red, white and blue magneto ribbons, and a Viva! Bush sticker passed me on a mountain curve, threw a bunch of McDonald’s trash out the window, and took off.

I watched as the burger wrappers, ketchup packs and soda cups rolled down the steep slope, toward the trout stream somewhere far below, where it would be damn near impossible to retrieve them, and, I must confess, thoughts of a high speed chase followed by violence crossed my mind.

Only now, safely wrapped around a couple of stiff drinks, am I beginning to calm down. I think until my outrage-o-meter gets out of the red, I better stay home. Or start looking at my WWMLKD? bracelet more often. Even now, I toy with the idea of perhaps meeting this same SUV in a parking lot somewhere with a head full of dangerous ideas and a broken beer bottle.

Small thing, I guess, but it was the straw, y’know…

Well, Uh, You See, Uh... 

...Eric Alterman is revising his blogroll; this is something he does every so often, to make sure that each coveted spot is filled by worthy blogs that have maintained their worthiness.

Since many of our alert readers are also alert bloggers as well, this is notification for you, in part.

As in times past, the proceedings are being handled by Jeralyn Merritt, the proprietress of TalkLeft, and the sainted legal pundit all three cable news networks call to be the lone liberal voice usually facing off against two conservative prosecutors and one libertarian law professor, and who've you doubtless often seen being the sole/soul defender of the enlightment, our constitution, and the humanistic values of western civilization as we once knew it.

Now, for the other part; if any of you think that Corrente might be worthy of a place on the estimable Dr. Alterman's blogroll, please feel free to let Jeralyn know. You can submit more than one nomination, including a nomination for your own blog; it is customary, I hear, to say a few lines about the reason for your choice.

Suggestions can be sent by email to alterlinks@aol.com, and you can read about the whole thing yourself here. They announced this Thursday, so you should probably be quick.

Well, uh, like...that wasn't so bad, was it?

Say, why is it that the same people who sent our soldiers to their deaths without armor claim to be on the side of "life"? 

Just asking.

Reader contest: A new URL for Corrente, since blogger's killing us 

Alert readers:

As you know, here at Corrente we've worked tirelessly to bring a new civility to American political discourse....

But one of the principles of being civil is not to stay where you're not wanted.

And because the demon spawn good folks at blogger keep not letting us post reliably, clearly we're not wanted here.

So, we have to move on. That means a new URI. And www.corrente.com and www.corrente.net are both taken.

Suggestions for a new URI please!

Decisions by the judges are, of course, entirely dependent on the quantity of mai tais consumed when the names are picked out of the ol' Corrente hat. And there's nothing in it for you other than the happiness that comes from doing good deeds in a naughty world.

That said, have at it!

NOTE OK, the demotic "URL" not the technically accurate "URI".

Department of WTF: "Jeff Gannon" has Philly connection? 

Do tell!

FWIW, I reprint the following item from this week's Bell Curve in City Paper (since it's not available on line):

Prostitute-turned-White House reporter "Jeff Gannon" used to play on the Woody's softball team in the '80s. And nobody made it from first to third like that guy.

I don't know whether this item is a fact, or a factoid (i.e., merely fact-esque). However, the Bell Curve editorial formula starts with the factual setup, and ends with the punchline.

So, readers... Did "Jeff Gannon" pitch, or catch? And did he bring his own glove? And did anyone else, now a married man in D.C., play on the Woody's team?

A Nod To Mr. Fish 

If you have read my own blog or my American Street work, you may know I'm a fan of Mr. Fish, whose work has been picked up by the Harper's website. His piece this week muses on the key job requirement for those nominated for office by the Dear Leader:

And just in time for Easter, here's his take on modern Christianity, as seen through the eyes of the military-industrial theocracy:

You can see more of his work at his own site, here.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Of course, in Alabama, the Tuscaloosa 

Good news for Pete the Deer:

But the Spanish team found a direct link between the length and complexity of a buck's horns and the quality of its sperm.

Long, multi-pointed antlers on a buck signal that it is a potent mate and females might seek out such males for this reason, said Montserrat Gomendio, a biologist at Madrid's Museum of National Sciences who is part of the team that did the research.

Hunters measure deer antlers meticulously, have a system for evaluating them in terms of size and number of points, and award prizes for good sets.

"What this means is that what we value from an aesthetic standpoint has a biological foundation, in the sense that it transmits information on the quality of that male," Gomendio said in an interview.

Horns on male deer are known as secondary sexual characters, which were believed to lack any kind of information on reproductive capacity.

But the Spanish findings suggest otherwise and might be applied when studying other mammals — male elephants with ivory tusks or primates with large incisors — to see if they also say something about the specimen other than its ability to fight, Gomendio said.
(via AP)

Damn mai tais...

Any satisfied CivicSpace users/readers out there? 

I learned how to post on CivicSpace, do some basic administration, assess our requirements, while waiting for blogger to let me past the dashboard to post. (And a big tip of the ol' Corrente hat to Xan and farmer for the various hookups to let me get this done.)

Don't get me wrong, I'm no whiz at this stuff—I did have a whole hour to wait before blogger gave me a connection...


I've been giving a lot of thought as to whether or not to weigh in on the blogpile controversy over Eugene Volokh's recent peaen (being updated like mad) to the catharsis of public executions. You've probably heard of it, if not actually read it: his hearty endorsement of the killing of an Iranian found guilty of murdering a number of children; the preliminary 100 lashes (if you don't know what this does to a human body, I recommend reading Mutiny on the Bounty for the scene in which one of the sailors, flogged 100 strokes, has his back laid open to the bone and dies of the shock); and finally, the noose around the neck and death by slow strangulation while hanging from a crane (which was a popular prop for executions with the Taliban, too) in front of an enormous hooting crowd.

Eugene--feeling particularly bloodthirsty, or just damned pissed off--on seeing this, launched into a great tirade on the ineffable justice and righteousness of the whole thing, and it's been non-stop verbal saturnalia ever since. Digby, and Yglesias (love your Dad, Matt!), and The Editors have all been taking a scalpel to the good professor's post, but I thought Mithras over at Fables of the Reconstruction (call me chauvinistic, it's a Philly blog) touched on all the right elements with the acid tongue it deserves:
"I think part of the problem is that people who would be perfectly fine blowing someone away for cutting them off in traffic - if they could get away with it - feel queasy when similar punishments are inflicted en masse. As a people, Americans are sadists with delicate sensibilities. The American way is to hire others do the torture and hide it, so we don't sully our beautiful minds with such images. Prison walls don't just keep the guilty in; they also block them from our sight. If that's not good enough, there's always extraordinary rendition. The crime of Abu Grahib was not the humiliations or the dogs or the beatings - it was the pictures. Damned sloppy of them. Similarly, Eugene's sin is being too honest, rather than couching his language in the balancing tests and learned utilitarianism of the libertarian lawyer."
Would it be too obvious to say that those who indulge their vengeance coarsen themselves and become the very things that they hate? Or that we lose what moral superiority we may like to think we have over murderers and sadists if we do? One thing we would not lose is our humanity, which encompasses the very worst (as well as the best) that any of us is capable of.

Those of you familiar with David Neiwert's discussions on lynching will recognize the illustrative principle at work in the top of the post.

News from the Other War 

The ACLU has published a study that states the obvious:

"Drug convictions have caused the number of women behind bars to explode, leaving in the rubble displaced children and overburdened families," the document says.

The number of imprisoned women is increasing at a much faster rate than the number of men, mostly because of tougher drug laws. There were 101,000 women in state and federal prisons in 2003, an eight-fold increase since 1980; roughly one-third were drug offenders, compared to about one-fifth of male inmates.

via ACLU: U.S. war on drugs hurting women

Might be time to pay a visit to the November Coalition if you never have. Sip a Mai Tai while you do, using riggsveda’s recipe (below). That is, while Mai Tai’s are still a legal high.

Shameless Demagoguery 

Showing they have no sense of decency, prominent Republicans in the U.S. Congress have insinuated themselves into the Schiavo case. Trying to use congressional subpoenas in the fashion they're using them has got to be a new low in constitutional interpretation or lack thereof. Put simply, Congress cannot act as part of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches all at the same time -- which is what they're trying to do. Furthermore, we keep hearing about how all of this is coming from the U.S. House. It's not, these subpoenas are coming from the crazy leadership of one House and one Senate committee.

I guess I'd feel differently about all of this if I really thought these folks were doing this because they thought it was the right thing to do, not because they hoped their demagoguery would distract us all from the scandal that is currently engulfing Tom DeLay or Bush's low 40s approval ratings or Bush's DOA Social Security Destruction Plan.

And judging from what I'm hearing on CNN, it certainly is cranking up the fundies and creating a lot of sound and fury with the knuckle-dragging crowd. If these folks really cared about life, they wouldn't have all so blithely signed on to this disaster in Iraq that has probably already killed more than 100,000 people, including more than 1,500 American soldiers.

Friday Mai Tai Blogging 

recipe_lhmFor the recipe, go here.

When the news ceases to send chills of horror up your back, you will have had enough.


Support Colombian Peace Communities 

Over at Common Dreams, Mary Turck discusses the Colombian “Peace Communities” and their brave and tragic story. There was a symposium on these communities I heard about up in Denver, I think, and now I wish I’d gone.

It seems that the U.S. (Republican) backed government of Uribe doesn’t like the idea that certain communities in his country have declared themselves weapons-free zones. People in these communities are turning up dead, murdered.

These communities don’t allow the U.S. funded Colombian Army in their towns, and they don’t allow the FARC in, either. The Colombian Army (a wholly owned subsidiary of the Pentagon and CIA) insists they have the right to enter at any time. FARC, of course, goes where they want.

This love of peace and human rights makes the peace communities unpopular, you see, on both sides. Kind of like Martin Luther King felt when he was accused of being too soft, or not soft enough.

What are these peace communities like? Well, Bill Weinberg tells us…

San José has declared itself a peace community, which rejects the violence of all sides in Colombia’s civil war. "Our neutrality means we will not participate with any armed actors," says Maria Brigida. "But we will denounce human rights abuses by any side."

Maria Brigida is one of eight members of San José’s community council (including three women) who have been elected every year since 1997, when the community declared its neutrality in a civil war that had claimed many local lives.

Every San José resident over 12 can vote in council elections. By consensus, the young men of the community do not serve in the army, despite official conscription. By not serving, they lose the right to work and to education, but in a remote and largely self-sufficient campesino community, this makes little difference. "If we had a legitimate army, perhaps they would serve," says Maria Brigida. "But not with this army that attacks the civil population and assassinates children."

There’s a lot more at Common Dreams: Trail of Blood Leads from Colombia to US and at: americas.org - Peace Communities

Maybe it’s time to begin some peace communities right here in the USA. It’s certainly time to support the brothers and sisters who have the guts to create ones in Colombia. I’m looking into how best to do that. Writing congresscritters seems fruitless on this front, but it’s a place to start. I’m wondering if there isn’t a more direct way to help…?

The Peter Principle, Cubed 

Jugears the Incompetent ClownOnce past the triple-headed guardian of the Salon gates (this week it's Target) you can read a couple very incisive pieces on the curious development that has become the Wolfowitz in World Bank Wonderland fairy tale.

The first is Mr. Magoo goes to the World Bank, a very funny bit by Michael Lind that starts off with this:
"Wolfowitz is the Mr. Magoo of American foreign policy. Like the myopic cartoon character, Wolfowitz stumbles onward blindly and serenely, leaving wreckage and confusion behind.
Critics are wrong to portray Wolfowitz as a malevolent genius. In fact, he's friendly, soft-spoken, well meaning and thoughtful. He would be the model of a scholar and a statesman but for one fact: He is completely inept. His three-decade career in U.S. foreign policy can be summed up by the term that President Bush coined to describe the war in Iraq that Wolfowitz promoted and helped to oversee: a "catastrophic success."
Even the greatest statesman makes some mistakes. But Wolfowitz is perfectly incompetent. He is the Mozart of ineptitude, the Einstein of incapacity. To be sure, he has his virtues, the foremost of which is consistency. He has been consistently wrong about foreign policy for 30 years."
Joe Conason's aptly named Head Scratcher hits the same note, but in a more sober assessment of Wolfie's financial acumen as applied to overseeing the Pentagon's use of funds:
"Two months ago the GAO again singled out the Pentagon for harsh criticism, reporting that it operates eight of the 25 worst-run government programs. Comptroller General David Walker said that the cost is reckoned "in billions of dollars in waste each year and inadequate accountability to the Congress and the American taxpayer." The failures, which have persisted for many years, relate to financial and contract management, the operation of military infrastructure, and the modernization of Pentagon information technology -- which, in short, are a total mess."
He ties this in to the huge corruption pit which Iraq is fast becoming:
"A newly released report from Transparency International, the Berlin-based organization that monitors corrupt practices around the world, warns that Iraqi contracting may soon become "the biggest corruption scandal in history." The group blames the United States for providing "a poor role model" in contracting and auditing. (They've likely heard about Halliburton.)
Waste, fraud and corruption, those perennial government buzzwords, are indeed the most pressing problems for the World Bank as it seeks to reform development aid. So it is difficult to understand why the president -- or any truly compassionate conservative -- would entrust those enormous concerns to someone with Wolfowitz's grim and blemished record."
Hard to believe Paul still hasn't reached the ultimate level of his incompetence. Bush evidently has faith that he will.

And of course, Bush should know.

They Make The Mess; You Have To Keep Cleaning It Up 

So George Kennan has died.
For those who may not know who he was, or remember him, he was (among many other things) one-time ambassador to the Soviet Union and creator of the CIA, who almost single-handedly engineered the policies that became known as the "Cold War"; that combination of fear-propagandizing, military-industrial build-up, and black ops that sent a generation scrambling around their backyards digging bomb shelters and helped make Boeing and Lockheed Martin what they are today.
When all the neo-cons and wingnuts were beatifying Reagan during the long, putrid week of boo-hooing after his death, you heard over and over how it was Reagan's hard-nosed dealings with the Soviets that brought down their empire. But Howard Zinn writes in his People's History of the United States that it was these policies, and the entire conduct of the Cold War, that actually delayed the breakup of the USSR, and he cites Kennan's own words:
"...the general effect of cold war extremism was to delay rather than hasten the great change that overtook the Soviet Union by the end of the 1980s."
The entire period of time from the end of World War II until 1989 was a grand shadow play made possible by the collusion of both political parties and the corporate profiteers who kept the Pentagon's bottomless maw filled with ever more outre weaponry and the paranoia to motivate taxpayers to permit themselves to be robbed for the purpose of funding it. George Kennan was a major player in all of it. You can read more about it here.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

It's so good to have first RDF and then riggsveda back. It was getting quiet in here...

Freedom's on the march! So let's assassinate Chavez! 

After all, that's our oil under their jungle!

When Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez charged last month that the United States was developing plans to assassinate him, the U.S. State Department rejected the accusation as "wild."

Last week, Felix Rodriguez, a former CIA operative and prominent Bush supporter in south Florida, told Channel 22 in Miami that he had information about the administration's plans to "bring about a change" in Venezuela, possibly through "military measures."

Rodriguez's remarks cannot be dismissed as bombast. He is well known in Latin America for his role advising a Bolivian military unit that captured and executed Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara in 1967. He is well-connected with the Bush family. The memory of various White House-approved, CIA-sponsored conspiracies to assassinate Fidel Castro in the 1960s may have faded in Washington but they have not been forgotten in Havana or Caracas.
(via WaPo)

Please refer all messages using the words "tinfoil hat" to The Department of No! They would Never Do That!

After all, we only torture people. We don't assassinate them. Right?

Freedom's on the march! So let's assassinate Chavez! 

After all, that's our oil under their jungle!

When Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez charged last month that the United States was developing plans to assassinate him, the U.S. State Department rejected the accusation as "wild."

Last week, Felix Rodriguez, a former CIA operative and prominent Bush supporter in south Florida, told Channel 22 in Miami that he had information about the administration's plans to "bring about a change" in Venezuela, possibly through "military measures."

Rodriguez's remarks cannot be dismissed as bombast. He is well known in Latin America for his role advising a Bolivian military unit that captured and executed Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara in 1967. He is well-connected with the Bush family. The memory of various White House-approved, CIA-sponsored conspiracies to assassinate Fidel Castro in the 1960s may have faded in Washington but they have not been forgotten in Havana or Caracas.
(via WaPo)

Please refer all messages using the words "tinfoil hat" to The Department of No! They would Never Do That!

After all, we only torture people. We don't assassinate them. Right?

Freedom's on the march! So let's assassinate Chavez! 

After all, that's our oil under their jungle!

When Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez charged last month that the United States was developing plans to assassinate him, the U.S. State Department rejected the accusation as "wild."

Last week, Felix Rodriguez, a former CIA operative and prominent Bush supporter in south Florida, told Channel 22 in Miami that he had information about the administration's plans to "bring about a change" in Venezuela, possibly through "military measures."

Rodriguez's remarks cannot be dismissed as bombast. He is well known in Latin America for his role advising a Bolivian military unit that captured and executed Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara in 1967. He is well-connected with the Bush family. The memory of various White House-approved, CIA-sponsored conspiracies to assassinate Fidel Castro in the 1960s may have faded in Washington but they have not been forgotten in Havana or Caracas.
(via WaPo)

Please refer all messages using the words "tinfoil hat" to The Department of No! They would Never Do That!

After all, we only torture people. We don't assassinate them. Right?

Say, maybe Michael Jackson uses steroids! 

Then the Republican could hold hearings about that!

Have a Snort of DDT, Kid, It Won't Hurtcha 

Alert reader chica toxica asks what the story is on Stephen L. Johnson, Bushco’s choice to be the new head of the EPA. All I’ve found so far is this over at Online Journal:

EPA administrator nominee supports testing of chemicals on human subjects

It seems that the guy (the increasingly whorish) NPR was gushing over as a great choice (a fine scientist, will never let politics or industry affect his science-based decisions) is into letting industry test their chemicals (including pesticides) on humans. In other words, another nominee whose concern for human rights ranks right up there with their concern for wearing matching socks.

Here’s a taste:

During President Clinton's administration, the EPA would not consider the results of controversial trials that tested pesticides on people. But after Bush took over the White House, Johnson changed the policy to permit consideration, saying, "We are willing to consider that such studies can be useful." However, a panel of scientists and ethicists convened by the EPA in 1998 determined that these types of trials were unethical and scientifically unsuitable to estimate the safety of chemicals.

In 2001, the trials considered by the agency gave paid subjects doses of pesticides hundreds of times greater than levels that EPA officials considered safe for the general public. The agency evaluated three studies that year from Dow Chemicals, Bayer Corporation, and the Gowan Company. The Bayer and Gowan studies were conducted in Third World countries, where volunteers were more readily available, while Dow conducted their study in Nebraska.

In the Dow study, human subjects were given doses four times the level that the EPA knew produced adverse effects in animals. Subjects suffered numbness, headaches, nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps. Dow's doctors determined that these symptoms were "possibly" or "probably" related to the chemical. But in the final analysis of the study, Dow concluded that the pesticide did not produce any symptoms. And the EPA accepted it.

It's wasn't surprising then that in October of last year, Johnson strongly supported a study in which infants will be monitored for health impacts as they undergo exposure to toxic chemicals for a two-year period. The Children's Environmental Exposure Research Study (CHEERS), will analyze how chemicals can be ingested, inhaled, or absorbed by children ranging from infants to three-year olds. The study will analyze 60 children in Duval County, Florida who are routinely exposed to pesticides in their homes. Yet the EPA acknowledges that pesticide exposure is a risk factor for childhood cancer and the early onset of asthma.

Charming, huh? Maybe when he gets together with Gonzales, Chertoff, and Negroponte they can mutually figure out a way to use pesticides as an instrument of acceptable torture. Maybe Scalia can figure a way to get the Supremes to reverse their decision on juvenile executions to at least allow for juveniles to participate in pesticide trials while they’re in prison.

Yeesh. I feel like there’s a boulder on my shoulder.

Darfu Alert: write to the New York Times 

Via Loaded Mouth:
Darfur Action: "100 Hours of Conscience"
In conjunction Save Darfur's "100 Hours of Conscience" letter writing campaign to the President and Congress, which I urge you to participate in, I also urge you to send a letter to the New York Times about their lack of Darfur coverage.

Tas has provided a letter that you can send to the New York Times in one easy click.

Visit permalink above or Loaded Mouth homepage for additional information.


GOP Puts Kids Ahead of Profits (Not!) 

According to the LA Times, researchers in Texas have found a possible link between autism and mercury in the air and water.

Study finds possible mercury-autism link

The number of children diagnosed with autism in America is continuing to increase at a rate of more than 20% a year, according to the latest figures published by the US Department of Health.

The link between mercury and autism as well as other health issues, especially in children, is well known, of course:

Autistic Society >> Mercury >> Mercury risk rising

But it’s okay. I will sleep much better tonight knowing that Bushco (a wholly owned subsidiary of Rove-Goebbels, Inc.) is putting mercury emissions controls in the gentle, caring and compassionate hands of capitalist industry. These kind and concerned folks will no doubt put kids ahead of profit. No need for cumbersome air pollution laws and regulations.

Today might be a good day to join the Sierra Club. Membership in any number of environmental organizations helps them fund lawsuits and lobbyists. A nice birthday, anniversary, bar/bat mitzvah or St. Patrick’s Day gift, too.

Bubble Boy: Dear Leader's "Town Halls" on Social Security Phase-out 

Richard Cohen:

Bush's town meetings are town meetings only if the town is Pyongyang.
(via WaPo)

Nice snark!

Hey, why do they call it a "conversation" when it's all scripted, anyhow?

Say it once, why say it again

Now that blogger is online again, I've removed the extra three posts that blogger's massive suckitude caused to appear, and also the two drafts. I've already shared my feelings at "A blogger's curse on the marketing weasels" at Google.

I Can't Leave You Kids Alone For 5 Minutes, Can I? 

I go away for a couple days and what do I have to come back to?

1) Karen "You-Don't-Get-Feet-That-Big-From-Walking-All-Over-Karl-Rove" Hughes, of all blessed people, is named Undersecretary for State for Foreign Affairs? Let me let Condi describe this kickback fest as only she can:
"Today, I am pleased to announce that President Bush intends to nominate Karen P. Hughes as the State Department's new Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy. Karen will have the rank of ambassador and, if confirmed, she will undertake a broad review and restructuring of our public diplomacy efforts. I can think of no individual more suited nor more suited for this task of telling America's story to the world, of nurturing America's dialogue with the world and advancing universal values for the world than Karen Hughes."
Do you think she writes this stuff herself? Can anyone tell me one single thing in Hughes' bag of tricks that makes her qualified to bridge the gap between the shit-kickers in Bush's base and the gaily-clad Thracians of the Eurasian subcontinent? Why, she can't even work that magic on me, and I speak the language (except that I don't talk in code and when I say something I actually mean it.)

2.) Paul Wolfowitz, previously named as a possible head of the World Bank, is back on the short list again? Didn't we go through this once already? What happened to Carly Fiorina, former head of Hewlitt-Packard, who was proposed after Wolfowitz? I don't know that a rich corporate diva would have been a better choice than a rich corporo-utopian fascist, but...Paul Wolfowitz, for Christ sake?

3) ANWR. Well, we saw that coming, didn't we? Was there any question that, once the Republicans got their last tentacle around the voting bloc in the Senate that this, and much worse, would be coming?

4) Bush not only admits running his own Pravda, but he's proud of it. "Nyah, nyah, nyah nyah, nyah," he says in his best grade school playground voice.
"There is a Justice Department opinion that says these -- these pieces -- are within the law, so long as they're based upon facts, not advocacy," the president told a news conference."
And that would be the same Justice Department that got behind detentions of unspecified length without charge, and jettisoning that whole habeas corpus thing, right?

5) The entire weight of the sober body of the U.S. Congress is thrown behind hearings on---wait for it---steroids in baseball!! Is this a matter of national security? No. Is this an issue of public health or safety? No. Is this a chance for a bunch of overpaid, power-driven moral midgets to grandstand on a matter that, despite having no relevance to the work they are being paid to do, is a great gosh-gee opportunity to rub elbows with ballplayers while at the same time geting on the front pages and pretending to work? Damn straight!

6) Rob Portman from Ohio gets the nomination to replace Robert "Fuzzy" Zoellar as U.S. Trade Rep. This guy is anybody's nightmare on any issue you care to name, but his appointment can't do much worse to the working poor of the world than Zoellar's did.

7) And finally we have this: a political dogpile on the tragic Schiavo case by those vultures in the House of Representatives who like to portray themselves as being "the party of less government". Well, I guess it depends on whose government we're talking about. For instance, if you mean the government of gun-selling shitheels who scream like gutted women at the idea they might be required to take responsibility for the murders they cause with their "anyone with the cash" sales philosphy, or if you mean the rich fucks holding forth in their McMansions about the horror of their hard-invested money being taxed to feed poor children, then I suppose they are the party of less government.
But when it comes to families making intimate, heart-rending decisions affecting no one but themselves, why then by God, let's bring out the full weight of the U.S. Congress (when they're not too busy getting baseball autographs) and squash those decisions flat like bugs! Your sex, your body, your life is not your own, people. But if the government won't let you have a humane death, maybe you can get your hands on a gun (provided your hands still work). No one will dare stand in your way, then.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

Why is it that the first thing the privatizers ask for, when converting a public program into a source of profit for themselves personally, is a subsidy from taxpayers like you and me for "transition costs"? It happened when Medicare pharmaceuticals were privatized, it's part of the game plan for the Social Security phase-out, and it's going to happen if the wingers kill Amtrak, too.

You'd think—call me crazy—that the wingers think taxpayer dollars are a big pile of cash that we left them for them, so they could stuff their pants with it just as fast as they can.

Looting—after lying, it's what the wingers do best!

Funny how nobody's bringing up those conflict of interest stories about Wolfie right now, isn't it?

"Smaller" Problems Further South 

And if that stuff below wasn’t enough, consider that the struggle to protect wild and sacred areas extends to places other than ANWR as well, often places not so far from our homes.

Flagstaff, Arizona has decided to expand its ski area on the San Francisco peaks, a mountain area that all of the local tribes consider a sacred place. They will make the ski area bigger and use wastewater for snowmaking. All of this over the objections of the local tribes, mostly Hopi and Navajo:

Despite receiving nearly 10,000, mostly negative comments on a proposal to expand the Arizona Snowbowl and use reclaimed wastewater for artificial snowmaking on the San Francisco Peaks in Flagstaff, Coconino National Forest Supervisor Nora Rasure gave the go-ahead to proceed Tuesday during a noon press conference. It was probably the most difficult decision of her career, Rasure said. "While I must carefully consider impacts to traditional values, I am also charged to make decisions about uses of the national forest that meet other needs of the American public.

Again, it’s about greed. Why do it? Because we want the cash. And the cost?

Leigh Kuwanwisiwma, Hopi Cultural Preservation Office director, said, "In a time when the Hopi Katsina Spirits have answered our prayers for rain and happiness, Coconino has placed a dagger in the Hopis' spirituality. "It is not just a breach of the forest service's trust responsibility for the tribe, but a breach of the Hopi people's trust in Coconino National Forest," Kuwanwisiwma said. "The Peaks are the home of the Katsinam (spirit messengers) and the focus of our prayers for rain and snow. The use of reclaimed water on such a sacred site can only be described as sacrilegious."

[Navajo Nation President Joe] Shirley asked, "What happened to that First Amendment right in the world of Native Americans? We're also supposed to be citizens of the great superpower of the U.S. government. What happened to our rights?" He questioned whether it was going to take a "million man and a million woman march on 'Washingdoon' to be heard. I think that's one of the things we need to look at…”

And the load gets heavier… remember that the original invasion of illegal immigrants beginning in 1492 was what eventually displaced the tribes from their sacred peaks in the first place. Maybe if the tribes had built a giant steel wall around the sacred peaks, hired thousands of armed border agents…?

Snowbowl receives green light; Forest Service decision angers Native leaders

The Twilight Show 

Well, we all knew it was coming, but let’s take a minute to mourn, anyway…

Senate votes to allow Arctic oil drilling

And let’s mourn the continuing slow death of American media as well…

Bush to name Kevin Martin new FCC chair

And after mourning, back to direct action. But there’s always that nagging feeling after each new outrage. What is that feeling? An accumulation of defeats and miseries that sits on the shoulders, growing heavier and heavier, making it feel like resistance is futile? I’ve been feeling it a lot since I got back with visions of border injustice heavy on my visual cortex, and now, catching up on the news and the posts since, I feel the weight growing. (Did aWol really name KaWen Hughes to be the Middle East peacemaker? Really?) Maybe it's a constant sorrow... time to start wearing black like Johnny Cash... after four more years of this shit, we're ALL gonna need treatment for PTSD...

But, never surrender, never give up! What's the next battle?

ANWR N'Things 

First, an apology.

My long ANWR post of yesterday was filled with typos and bad links. Please accept my regrets. Nor, ordinarily, would I have let it run to such length, and instead, would have discussed the idiocy of Kristof in a separate post. Although it is far too easy to blame all things on Blogger, yesterday was an especially bad Blogger day which made it impossible to have control of what got put up on the blog.

I further apologize for not knowing the structure of Roman Numerials as well as I probably ought to, but I would also point out that the extreme and inaccurate form I used was also meant to be a visual joke.

We interrupt our regularly scheduled blogging to announce with great sadness and even greater anger that the Cantwell amendment was rejected by the Senate mere minutes ago, 51 to 49.

The overwhelming majority of Republicans voted against the amendment, and in favor of allowing the sale of leases for the purpose of drilling for oil in a protected Wildlife Refuge. Democrats picked up a few Republicans, and we were betrayed, to their eternal shame, by Mary Landrieu, who apparently decided that her state's oil and gas interests were more important than our American heritage, as well as by both Senators from Hawaii, Messrs. Akaka and Inouye; what on earth is that all about? Anyone with an answer please let us know in comments are by email. I don't yet have the exact breakdown of the votes; I was watching the vote on C-Span but couldn't hear every vote.

This doesn't have to be the end of this issue. It's going to take a long time before leases are made available, the big oil companies aren't anxious to go in there, we can make it even more unattractive for them. ANWR, if handled correctly, can also become part of a nexus of issues upon which Democrats can mount a national campaign in 2006 for a return of control of congress to the Democratic party.

This just in: The NYTimes has the breakdown of votes and some additional information, including the fact that another vote will be required to directly authorize drilling here: The three Democrats noted above were the only Democrats who jumped ship; joining the rest of the Democrats were Jim Jeffords and six Republicans: McCain, Norm Coleman, Mike DeWine, Chaffee, Gordon Smith, and both of the lady Senators from Maine.

We probably need a couple of days to mourn, but then it's more than ever organization time. The obvious next target is the gas and coal industry, to inform them that if they thought the Valdez spill was a PR nightmare, they can't imagine what we're prepared to do, within the law, to blacken their reputation if they bid on any leases, up to including organizing a human barrier ready to meet their heavy equipment when they try to exercise their so-called right to drill in ANWR. This is just the first battle in what is clearly a war.

Here's a thought for some theraputic action to take the place of sitting shiva, (a Jewish way of mourning that incorporates long periods of mopping). Why not send a friendly letter to Nick Kristof thanking him for choosing to write, on the eve of the vote on ANWR, about what wusses environmentalists are, instead of writing about the madness of King George W. and his Republican courtiers in insisting on opening up ANWR for drilling when the oil and gas industries don't really want to go in there. Or any other message that is appropriately polite, yet snarky. As far as I can see there's no way to email columnists. But you can certainly drop a line to Kristof c/o The New York Times,229 West 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036.

All for now, while I take some time to mope.

Crossing the Walls of Fortress America 

I’m back. Leah requested a travelogue, but this is the best I can do for now…

Went down to Old Mexico last week on a business-pleasure trip. The pleasure was to accompany a friend and once again enjoy the little town he’s from and his family; the business was his (no, not dope or maquilas). If he wasn’t a native of Old Mexico, this trip would have been even worse, I’m sure. I hadn’t been down since 9/11, and I was wondering if things were worse now. (And they were plenty bad before, mind you, going all the way back to Operation Intercept back long ago, which just happened to coincide with my first trip below the border.)

First, you get stopped at least two times in the last two hundred miles to the border by underpaid, overworked and nervous US Border Patrol agents. Especially if you’re in a van or truck. They search your vehicle (perfectly legal to bust you for anything they find that’s illegal, too, even though there was no overt reason to stop you), they check your papers, and then go double check everything again on their radio. With any luck, you don’t resemble anyone who’s wanted for anything, because if you do then it’s a long ride to the office while there’s more checking.

Then you get closer to the border. First thing you notice coming in are the signs on the private property outside of the US border town—“STOP THE INVASION,” “SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL POSSE,” “DRUGS AND WETBACKS ARE THE SAME PROBLEM” and so forth. You hope you don’t run into any of these people, and you hope that the people crossing tonight don’t either. Closer, over the hill looking down, looking ahead to the actual border, is a thing that looks like an arroyo or a ditch. You get closer, you realize it’s a steel wall. It’s gotten bigger in the last three years. There’s a goddam steel wall about twelve feet high there, and now it’s running for MILES in each direction. You briefly wonder where Israel got the idea, or was it the other way around? Every so often, there’s a camera mounted on a tall pole, pointed at you. You wait in line, but not too long. Nobody’s too worried about what’s going IN to Mexico. Show ID. Why are you going? Where are you going? When will you be back? That’s about it.

Once you’re in Mexico, there used to be usually nobody to wave you in on the other side, just the usual warning signs (no guns allowed, e.g.). But now, even at the tiny crossing we went to, there were two guys who asked the same questions. They didn’t look very happy.

Old Mexico is still the same. Immediately, you’re hit by the contrast in wealth. An artificial line across the desert, with a steel wall, separating poverty from wealth. In the border towns, desperate unhappy people hanging around wherever they can, waiting for a run across. Bars. Drugstores. Vendors. Usually, the bars and drugstores are swept clear of the poor so that Nortamericanos will shop there. Once you’re past those, it becomes much clearer.

Folks will tell you that it’s dangerous. I guess in some ways it is, especially in some places. But it’s all about poverty and corrupt cops. But once you get past the border towns, most of the people I’ve met are friendly and helpful. They invite you in to eat or drink. They don’t laugh at your Spanish (much). They tell you they’d rather stay in their town or village instead of going to the north or to the cities. But then they tell you there’s not much choice. Is any of this sounding familiar to inner-city dwellers in America?

Tom Tancredo and his ilk make me want to puke. What’s the solution to an artificial border drawn in the sand after military conquest? A line now drawn with a huge steel wall, and patrolled by armed police and private agents? More agents, more guns, higher and wider walls? Coming back across the border was a real trip. More on that later.

Call me naïve, but it might be time to start rethinking the existence of the line, and how it separates the haves from the have-nots. It’s completely unjust. And more on that later, too.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

Berlusconi to The Coalition of The Willing: Arrivederci .

Guess Negroponte's bodyguards shouldn't have shot that Italian intelligence agent, huh?

Guess the source... 

... of this snappy one-liner:

[Y]ou can't help come away with the conclusion that the reason the U.S., and Great Britain, are greeted with such ambivalence and hostility in the Middle East is that the West's policy can be summed up in one simple idea: "That's our oil under your sand." That's not exactly a policy grounded in Christian, let alone Democratic, values.

Or, as Leah points out, under your snow.

Oh, the source? Those card-carrying liberals at Business Week.

Put these guys on the blacklist! No Partei rallies for them!

Action Alert: Why Are Liberals Such Losers? Part XXXCCDXVII 

Well, for one thing, liberals are burdened by schmuck-pundits like Nick Kristof who are so often identified as liberals, and aren't happy about it; having the courage of no convictions except the conviction his own career is at the center of the moral universe, Kristof regularly engages in liberal-bashing to insure his status as an independent thinker. Of course, before you can be considered an independent thinker, your work has to be recognizable as the work of someone who is able to think.

Okay, I'm mad as hell and I have little prospect of being able to not have to take it anymore, which doesn't mean I don't believe in trying. So, I'm stating my bias - outraged fury in defense of some form of the truth.

Now then, you tell me what mental process on the part of Mr. Kristof produced these paragraphs, and if it can fairly be described as "thinking?"
When environmentalists are writing tracts like "The Death of Environmentalism," you know the movement is in deep trouble.

That essay by two young environmentalists has been whirling around the Internet since last fall, provoking a civil war among tree-huggers for its assertion that "modern environmentalism, with all of its unexamined assumptions, outdated concepts and exhausted strategies, must die so that something new can live." Sadly, the authors, Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, are right.

The U.S. environmental movement is unable to win on even its very top priorities, even though it has the advantage of mostly being right. Oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge may be approved soon, and there's been no progress whatsoever in the U.S. on what may be the single most important issue to Earth in the long run: climate change.
How can a movement whose assumptions are unexamined, whose concepts are outdated, and whose strategies are exhausted be mostly right?

"A civil war among tree-huggers?" Does it ever occur to someone like Kristof that the use of an entirely inaccurate and misleading cliche like "tree-hugger" is a bigger problem than anything else for the great majority of Americans who are worried about envionmental issues but find themselves increasingly divided from one another and marginalized by a signficantly smaller number of Americans who view the natural environment as appropriately subject to the gospel of growth, expansion, development and best preserved through the discipline of market as opposed to natural forces?

That essay Kristof mentions and the ruckus it's kicked up is worth several posts on their own, so I'll skip if for the time being. (Any alert readers who'd like to take a crack at it, let me know. Rob, where are you?)

Kristof's own analysis of what ails the environmental movement, which you can find here, is as thoughtless and unexamined as the output of most of our so-called liberal pundits, tired cliche after tired cliche, the same usual suspects summoned for blame.

No, not Paul Erlich again. Alarmism, you see, is the curse of the enivornmental movement. They've been wrong so many times, they've lost credibility. In paranthesis, Kristof allows that business interests are often alarmist about the results of environmental regulation, but he doesn't venture to think upon why those business interests haven't lost their credibility, but environmentalists have. After all, Rachel Carson was clearly an alarmist, and she was treated as such when "The Silent Spring" was first published. But what she has to say resonated with the experience of the huge majority of Americans who made her book a giant best seller.

Altbough acknowledging that environmentalism has made environmentalists of us all, Kristof cites a poll cited in "The Death of Environemntalism" that shows a majority of American consider "environmental activists" to be extremists. Gee, I wonder how that happened? Oh, that's right, environmentalists did it to themselves, by being such alarmists and then being proved wrong. Is that really the story? No, but the real story is the one story Kristof, and almost every other mainstream pundit won't talk about - the story of a counter movement financed by special interests and tied increasingly to the Republican party whose aim it has been, through a concerted campaign of propoganda, to discredit environmentalism by calling anyone who doesn't want off-shore drilling or doesn't understand that any worries about asbestos contamination are frivolous, are extremists. In this amalysis, the battle is not against that counter alliance, nor is the conflict between environmentalists and the Bush administration. No, the conflict is an inner conflict that environmentalists ignore at their peril.

Hold on, here's Kristof's dizzying conclusion:
The loss of credibility is tragic because reasonable environmentalists - without alarmism or exaggerations - are urgently needed.

Given the uncertainties and trade-offs, priority should go to avoiding environmental damage that is irreversible, like extinctions, climate change and loss of wilderness. And irreversible changes are precisely what are at stake with the Bush administration's plans to drill in the Arctic wildlife refuge, to allow roads in virgin wilderness and to do essentially nothing on global warming. That's an agenda that will disgrace us before our grandchildren.
I couldn't agree more that those are the priorities. But it is precisely those priorities, like legislation protecting endangered species, protecting wilderness, and worries about climate change for which environmentalists are most persistently attacked. Hasn't Kristof ever heard of the Spotted Owl?

Can you believe this guy has the nerve to mention ANWR without talking about who it is that is threatening it? And, by the way, it isn't those nasty energy companies anymore. That's what is so stunning about the Bush administration's obsession with bringing up the issue again, and trying to get it attached to the budget, insuring thereby that extended debate in the Senate can't defeat it again.

Time to move to ACTION ALERT mode. This is from Feb 21st edition of the NYTimes, (it's disappeared behind the paid archive wall, so you'll have to trust me to give you the gist)
George W. Bush first proposed drilling for oil in a small part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska in 2000, after oil industry experts helped his presidential campaign develop an energy plan. Five years later, he is pushing the proposal again, saying the nation urgently needs to increase domestic production.

But if Mr. Bush's drilling plan passes in Congress after what is expected to be a fierce fight, it may prove to be a triumph of politics over geology.

Once allied, the administration and the oil industry are now far apart on the issue. The major oil companies are largely uninterested in drilling in the refuge, skeptical about the potential there. Even the plan's most optimistic backers agree that any oil from the refuge would meet only a tiny fraction of America's needs.

While Democrats have repeatedly blocked the drilling plan, many legislators believe it has its best chance of passage this year, because of a Republican-led White House and Congress and tighter energy supplies. Though the oil industry is on the sidelines, the president still has plenty of allies. The Alaska Congressional delegation is eager for the revenue and jobs drilling could provide. Other legislators favor exploring the refuge because more promising prospects, like drilling off the coasts of Florida or California, are not politically palatable. And many Republicans hope to claim opening the refuge to exploration as a victory in the long-running conflict between development interests and environmentalists.

The refuge is a symbol of that larger debate, said Senator Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican who is a major supporter of drilling. Opponents agree. ''This is the No. 1 environmental battle of the decade,'' said Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts.

Whether that battle will be worthwhile, though, is not clear. Neither advocates nor critics can answer a crucial question: how much oil lies beneath the wilderness where the administration wants to permit drilling?

Advocates cite a 1998 government study that estimated the part of the refuge proposed for drilling might hold 10 billion barrels of oil. But only one test well has been drilled, in the 1980's, and its results are one of the industry's most closely guarded secrets.

A Bush adviser says the major oil companies have a dimmer view of the refuge's prospects than the administration does. ''If the government gave them the leases for free they wouldn't take them,'' said the adviser, who would speak only anonymously because of his position. ''No oil company really cares about ANWR,'' the adviser said, using an acronym for the refuge, pronounced ''an-war.''

Wayne Kelley, who worked in Alaska as a petroleum engineer for Halliburton, the oil services corporation, and is now managing director of RSK, an oil consulting company, said the refuge's potential could ''only be determined by drilling.''

''The enthusiasm of government officials about ANWR exceeds that of industry because oil companies are driven by market forces, investing resources in direct proportion to the economic potential, and the evidence so far about ANWR is not promising,'' Mr. Kelley said.

The project has long been on Mr. Bush's agenda.
So what's going on here? What is that larger battle? Think California, think the Gulf of Mexico, think the Oregon and Washington coastlines. And as exhausting is the list of Bush administration hypocricies, let us not forget that Bush allowed Florida to buy back the leases that would have allowed drilling off of Florida's shores, a wildly unpopular prospect among Jed Bush's constituents.

There is no limit to the shamelessness of George W. Bush and his minions. No limits on them, endless limits on the lives of the two thirds of Americans who don't view the world the way this President does. Yes, he managed to get the votes of half of the electorate, but his true base is no larger than a third of voting Americans.

It may be that Bush's shameless qualities will prove his undoing, because it can make it easier for opponents to link issues.

The budget process itself should be an issue. It's an unbelievable budget, shamelessly dishonest in its numbers, shamelessly brutal in its treatment of vulnerable Americans. Check out The Progress Report on this subject, and note that ANRW has a special place in all that awfulness.
The budget includes over a billion dollars in revenue from drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), even though Congress hasn't authorized such drilling and has rejected President Bush's proposal to open ANWR to oil exploration for the last four years. Budget Director Josh Bolten defended the move, claiming, "the budget is the right place to present the entirety of the president's policies, so all of his proposals are reflected in there." Really? The Bush budget excludes all funding for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and the administration's $2 trillion Social Security package.

I know, it makes one reel. And it's meant to. That's part of the game. Present so many targets, the opposition becomes dazed by the sheer fecundity of this administration's bad faith.

MoveOn is taking on the Budget process itself, trying to slow down the push to report it out before there's adequate debate. Admirable and necessary.

I think today, though, the focus has to be on ANWR. (Back Here, and Here for more on why ANWR matters)

There isn't a lot of time. Maria Cantwell has an amendment to the budget that will take ANWR off the budgetary table. The vote will be sometime within the next 24 to 48 hours. Lots of different sources can make it easy for you to do something. I'm offering this one, via John Kerry.
We have only 24 to 48 hours to try and save the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The Republicans are trying to sneak legislation through the Senate approving oil drilling and they are incredibly close to winning. We have to stop them.

I am joining with Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) in offering a critical amendment to stop this sneak attack on our environment. We will fight on the floor of the Senate, but we need you by our side.

There are seven key Republican Senators whose votes will decide the future of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Before they vote, we need to make sure they know that their constituents are watching, and that they will not be able to support drilling without anybody noticing.

Here are two critical steps we can take together to support our amendment to protect this National Wildlife Refuge:

1. Join the Citizens' Roll Call
First of all, take part in a massive fast-moving display of citizen support for the Arctic Refuge. Sign our Cantwell-Kerry Citizens' Roll Call now.


To make our Citizens' Roll Call impossible to ignore, we have alerted the media, environmental advocates and my fellow Senators to a scrolling display of the names and home towns of the roll call signers. It is posted on our johnkerry.com website, where we hope to soon add your name and a running tally of the number of citizens on our Citizens' Roll Call.

2. Bring the fight to the home states of the seven senators
We need to launch emergency online advertising campaigns in the home states of those seven critical senators: Senator Coleman (MN), Senator Smith (OR), Senator Specter (PA), Senator Martinez (FL), Senator Lugar (IN), and Senators Gregg and Sununu (NH).

Kerry is looking for contributions fto do that. I have no position on that. But what I think does matter is to call those Senators. If you're from their state say so. If not, call anyway. Plus, call your own Senators. Call ten of your friends and get them to call, and to get ten more of their friends to call. Visit Kerry's website before you do; he has lots of stuff including talking points.

You can find all numbers for any Senator here.

This is a big one, guys. Bush got the bankruptcy bill and his tort reform, if he gets this he looks like he's on a roll, even though he's only at 50 % overall approval rate. We've seen how he uses his ability to get legislation through a Republican congress to cause the What Liberal Media? to drop to their knees in awe.

Be a proud tree hugger. Imagine inviting one of those Arctic caribou to lunch. Fuck Bush. Fuck Nick Kristof. (Not to put too fine a point on one's arguments, and don't you hate when that happens, but given the present state of both our politics and our media makes how would it be possible to employ fine points in any capacity, except at the end of a poisen arrow? Speaking metaphorically, of course.)

If you need more inspiration, Althippo has been doing wonderful work on this subject, so check in there, even if you think you don't.

Once Again, Never Again 


Does the mere clasp of eyes on that word produce a small, involuntary groan? I completely understand if it does. Doesn't it sometimes feel as though that word and that horror will always be with us, until there are simply no more human beings left there to worry about?

Rwanda was an international crises on steroids; a complicated political situation disguising a long-simmering ethnic conflict which right before our eyes bulked up at super-human speed into an massive genocide, carried out not by a secretive ministry of death as in the Soviet Union, or Nazi Germany, carried out by ordinary people against their neighbors, a collective madness that took mere weeks to rack up a killing score in the hundreds of thousands, and leave behind a landscape of corpses to decay in heaps where they'd been slaughtered.

Darfur seems almost an opposite phenomenon - an immense human catastrophe, a million plus people driven by violent means from their homes and land, and thus deprived of any ability to live a normal life, unable to provide for themselves the most basic necessities required to survive, an on-going humanitarian crises that almost seems to be happening in slow motion.

For all the talk that we can't let this happen, not again, among ordinary citizens like those of us who read and write blogs, at the UN, by NGOs, by reporters and by heads of state, the tragedy continues to unfold, the most vulnerable humans, old people, children continue to die, mothers, fathers, whole families are under threat both of famine and of all the diseases that come with huge numbers of refugees living in make-shift camps, without adequate sanitary facilities, without potable water.

A new blog "Coalition for Darfur" is not content to let any of us just sit and watch. Here's how the two founders of the blog explain its purpose:
A Southern conservative and a Northern liberal have teamed up to raise awareness about the genocide in Darfur, Sudan and money for a worthy organization doing vital work there: Save the Children.

Drawn together by their love/hate relationship with federal judicial nominee William Pryor (Feddie of Southern Appeal loves him, Eugene Oregon of Demagogue hates him) the two have found common ground on the issue of Sudan.

For nearly two years, the government of Sudan and Arab militias known as the Janjaweed have rampaged through Darfur, raping women, killing thousands, destroying hundreds of villages as well as the agricultural economy and displacing more than 2 million people. Hundreds of thousands of people are in dire need of food, shelter, and medical care, but a lack of security is making it nearly impossible for international organizations to reach those most in need.
In addition to raising money for "Save The Children" it is the purpose of the Coalition to try and harness both political halves of the blogisphere to keep the reality of what is happening to the people of Darfur front and center in the conscience of all of us, to focus on the needs of the refugees, and to keep that focus until that hard political work is done that will allow to return to their homes and reclaim their land.

Corrente is priviledged to be part of the coalition. At least once a week we will be offering either a link to or publishing at Corrente a post from the Coalition For Darfur website, and we'll soon be adding a link to the blog in our sidebar. For now, you can find the blog by clicking here, and this week's post by clicking here.

Please make the small journey from here to there, and while you're there, please consider making a small contribution to Save The Children. If enough people would give $10 a month, that would feed and care for a lot of people who have no way right now to fend for themselves.

In the lamentable literature of mass disaster, there is one overwhelming theme that occurs over and over again - the need for those to whom the disaster is happening to have some sense that the world is paying attention to their agony, and that the world cares. To know that, to feel it, gives to victims an expanded sense of their own humanity, a sense that they are still part of the world. We owe it to the people of Darfur to know what is happening to them, and to care.

Petition: fight back against phoney news and propaganda 

Via PRWatch.org:
The Center for Media and Democracy is working with Free Press to gather a quarter million signatures on our petition mobilizing the American public to fight fake news and government propaganda. On Sunday, the New York Times reported that at least 20 federal agencies have made and distributed pre-packaged, ready-to-serve television news segments to promote President Bush's policies and initiatives. Congress' Government Accountability Office determined that these "video news releases" were illegal "covert propaganda" and told federal agencies to stop. But last Friday, the White House ordered all agencies to disregard Congress' directive. The Bush administration is using hundreds of millions of your tax dollars to manipulate public opinion. Here's how to stop them.

sign petition


State sponsored "public diplomacy" (propaganda) watch... 

Transcript of yesterday's Democracy Now segment with John Stauber of P.R. Watch:
State Propaganda: How Government Agencies Produce Hundreds of Pre-Packaged TV Segments the Media Runs as News

REPORTER: The televised images from Baghdad prompted celebrations from Iraqi Americans all across the United States. They seemed to revel in the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime, as much as they did in Baghdad. In suburban Detroit, hundreds of Iraqi Americans marched triumphantly through the streets. The community of Dearborn is home to America's largest Arab community. On Warren Avenue people chanted, "No more Saddam," as they honked horns and waved Iraqi and American flags.

IRAQI AMERICAN 1: We love the United States! We love America! They help us!


REPORTER: In this Kansas City cafe, Iraqi Americans watch the historic events on TV.

IRAQI AMERICAN 3: I'm very, very happy. I said, thank you, Bush. Thank you, U.S.A. I love Bush, I love U.S.A., because they do that for Iraqi people’s freedom.

This rosy scenario was brought to by your cheery friends at the State Department. Except we don't tell you that part.

Full program transcript


"Taking Over Cities For Christ" 

Max Blumenthal at the National Religious Broadcasters' convention; Anaheim Convention Center, February 11-16, 2005:
Air Jesus: With The Evangelical Air Force

The Christian Right's dominionist intentions, a theme of the convention, were particularly in evidence at a seminar called, "Taking Over Cities For Christ: The Thousand Day Plan."

The seminar was led by Raul Justiniano, the Bolivian president of the Confederation of Ibero-American Communicators (COICOM), NRB's Latin American counterpart. Like a counter-revolutionary version of Che Guevara, the goateed Justiniano laid out his three-year plan to "invade" Latin American cities one by one by establishing cells in local churches and spreading outwards to "take possession of all parts of the city."

Don't resist reading the full article. Many of your favorite goosesteppers for Jesus were on hand for the event.


Same Sex Marriage-Go-Round 

Excerpts From Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Here are excerpts from San Francisco Judge Richard Kramer's ruling that California's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional:

- "It appears that no rational purpose exists for limiting marriage in this state to opposite-sex partners."

- "The state's protracted denial of equal protection cannot be justified simply because such constitutional violation has become traditional."

- "One does not have to be married in order to procreate, nor does one have to procreate in order to be married. Thus, no legitimate state interest to justify the preclusion of same-sex marriage can be found."

- "The idea that marriage-like rights without marriage is adequate smacks of a concept long rejected by the courts - separate but equal."

- "The parade of horrible social ills envisioned by the opponents of same-sex marriage is not a necessary result from recognizing that there is a fundamental right to choose who one wants to marry."


Putting the big CON in conservative 

Ralph Reed dupes Dobson in "special interest" flim flam; hired by casino to block casino...
Million Dollar Baby: Ralph Reed Recruited Dobson Into High-Stakes Casino Game.

Reed, who once called gambling "a cancer on the American body politic," was hired by the Coushatta's lobbyists to help out by rousing Religious Right opposition to the expansion of gambling in the state. According to the Post article, Reed has "quietly received as much as $4 million" for his efforts.


Bobo and the grown-up 

Bobo Brooks wets himself in his high-chair, throws a little snit, and pitches his bowl of porridge to the floor:
See Bobo's tantrum (no login required)

Mr Krugman sees Bobo's tantrum and shakes his head in disappointment:
See adult reaction (no login required)


Monday, March 14, 2005

Alpo Accounts: When your enemy's drowning, throw him an anvil! 

More good news:

Barely a third of the public approves of the way President Bush is dealing with Social Security and a majority says the more they hear about Bush's plan to reform the giant retirement system, the less they like it, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
(via WaPo)

The exit strategy for the Republicans on this one? How about complete capitulation, followed by massive and prolonged grovelling?

Not that there aren't [cough] liberals and Beltway Dems who, for some reason, don't see that exit strategy as a completely acceptable, indeed the optimal, outcome. WTF?

The malAdministration: It's Evil as Christians should understand the term 

Read Body and Soul (via Washington Monthly)

If torture isn't evil, what is? (And then filming it?!)

The Constitution has a prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment for good reason: The Founders understood human nature—better than the evil clowns who are running the country now (back).

And remember: The tendency toward evil is a natural tendency all humans share. None of us are immune. It's exactly to protect ourselves from each other that we have laws, Constitutions, social compacts. Everything that the malAdministration is industriously trying to destroy (here)

I can't imagine why they're such destructionists—unless they simply find it fun. Like the fun Bush had as a boy, blowing up frogs. The child is father to the man...

101st Fighting Keyboarders risk their lives for a free press! 

Right here:

Fifty-six journalists around the world were killed in 2004 because of their jobs, the deadliest 12 months for reporters in a decade, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported Monday.

Of the 56, the committee said, 36 were targeted for murder, continuing a long-term trend in annual surveys of the safety of journalists.

"The majority of them are murdered," said Ann Cooper, executive director of the committee, in an interview with AP Radio. "Local journalists such as eight killed in the Philippines. They were hunted down and killed."
(via AP)

Oh, wait.

Damn. I spoke too soon. Those aren't the Federalist Society operatives like F/Buckhead, safe in their bathrobes in their basement. Or part of the Potemkin Press like that metawhore, "Jeff Gannon." Or the freepers.

These are actual journalists, risking their lives to bring the story home.

In all our clamor about the state of the SCLM in this country, we do forget the courage that real journalists continually show. Of course, being reality-based means confronting reality—and often, people who like reality just the way it is, thank you, want to silence you, punish you... Or kill you.

For the kind of risks real journalists take, check out (once again) Philadelphia's treasure, Trudy Rubin (back).

Laughter: The Best Medicine 

Bush moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform:

Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have documented, for the first time, that laughter is in fact good for the heart because it makes blood vessels work more efficiently. The study results, and those of an accompanying research paper reporting that depression can increase the risk of heart failure, were presented last week at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology.

Lead researcher, Michael Miller, director of preventive cardiology at the university in Baltimore, said laughter should not supplant exercise, which also increases blood flow, but should be added to one's daily routine. He suggested 15 minutes of laughter daily and 30 minutes of exercise three times a week to improve heart health.

The researchers specifically analyzed the lining of the blood vessels, called the endothelium, which is the first place where hardening of the arteries, a common form of heart disease is evident. They believe the relaxing of the endothelium was prompted by the release of nitric oxide. The compound relaxes blood vessels much like endorphins do during exercise.

"When you laugh, you have less wear on your joints and you don't have to worry about calories from chocolate," Dr. Millers said at the Orlando meeting.
(via Bangor Daily News)

See, it's all part of His Plan.

If the Bush and the Republicans give us as many opportunities for laughter in the next four years as they have in the last, we're all going to laugh our way to good health! It's kinda like an invisible hand type of thing—one policy pratfall after another, and Presto! No need for universal health insurance!

Send in the clowns! They're good, and good for you!

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

I knew there was something I forgot to explain about The Mighty Corrente Building; it's so vast it's easy to leave things out, and since riggsveda is new, I feel a duty to explain. I always get hung up when I mention the wet bar or the mushroom cellars and lose the damn thread.

Anyhow, The Mighty Corrente has a profusion of departments. They're listed in more or less alphabetical order on a seemingly numberless series of highly polished brass plates in the Great Hall, on your left as you enter the building. In fact, there are so many departments that the typesize used on the plates is extremely small, so for your convenience, there are several magnifying glasses hanging from the wall.... Or you can just ask one of the uniformed doormen for directions.

These are some of the Departments. In no particular order:
  • Department of How Stupid Do They Think We Are?
  • Department of Changing The Subject
  • Department of No! They Would Never Do That!
  • Department of No Shit, Sherlock
  • Department of One Hardly Knows What to Say
  • Department of Cheap Little Ironies
  • Department of Closing the Barn Door After The Horse is Gone
  • Department of "Oh, come on. Can they be serious?"
  • Department of Translation
  • Department of Vile Rumors (My Pet Goat)
  • Department of "They Made My Head Explode Again"

As it turns out, I don't know where in the builing most of these departments are (again, ask a doorman). I know the Department of Changing the Subject is on the 13th floor (take any elevator), and there's a vile rumor going around that they're going to replace the wet bar with The Department of No! They Would Never Do That! The Department of How Stupid Do They Think We Are? isn't really in The Mighty Corrente Building at all; it's in a satellite office way the hell over in Camden, the one with the neon sign on the roof of a dog listening for His Master's Voice. Ask any receptionist for a map; tell 'em Lambert sent you.

But you know, I'm looking over those Department names, and there's a tone to them... Could it be that they're snarky? Heaven forfend! I can't imagine how that came to happen; I've always tried so hard to avoid snark and be civil.

Readers, do we need to cultivate a more variegated and positive outlook? If so, how on earth are we to do it?

Those Other Commandments, or, TC v. 2.0 

We all remember the scene, right, in "History of the World Part I" where Moses (played far more convincingly by Mel Brooks than he ever was by Charlton Heston, although Mel starts out with the unfair advantage of being, like, Jewish) is coming down Mt. Sinai with the three stone tablets, until he shouts to the mob of calf-worshipping, jewelry-melting, bacon-eating, mother-raping, father-stabbing, father raping...oops, wrong movie, anyway, the generally badly-behaving Hebrews, "I bring you the fifteen.." at which point one of the tablets slips out of his hands and shatters on the mountainside...."the Ten Commandments!"

Haven't you always wondered what those Missing Five would have been? A guy name of David Hampton from the Jackson Clarion-Ledger explains it all to you:
"Gabriel! Gabriel! What is all of this flap about my 10 Commandments?"

"It's the Americans again, Lord. They are fighting about where their government can post the commandments. It's gone all the way to their Supreme Court."

"Didn't I make it clear that the important thing is to obey them? I know I put them on stone tablets, but that was only to help Moses out. They should be written on the heart. Didn't I say that?"

"Yes, Lord, but now politics has gotten involved in it and. . ."

"Politics. Nothing political ever comes from heaven. Politics comes from the other place. I guess I should have left that commandment in about separation of church and state. I thought they were smart enough to figure that out."
We make the obligatory snip here to avoid getting spanked by the copyright quibblers, and to prompt a few folks to reward the C-L with a few hits for being brave enough to run stuff like this. We return for the Grand Finale...
"No. 14. Thou shalt not pander. I hate pandering. It's like bribery or lying. Oh, we did get lying in the first 10 didn't we?"

"Yes, Lord."

"No. 15. Thou shalt not take the Lord, thy God's name in vain."

"That's in first 10, too, Lord."

"I know. I want to underline it. They obviously didn't understand it if they are passing laws to use my commandments for political purposes. That'll do for now."

"Yes, Lord. Want me to put them on the tablets and light up another bush?"

"No. E-mail them. Priority 1."
Heh. Now if you live in a state where they're pushing this Rock Worshipping crap, quit humming "Alice's Restaurant" for long enough to email this column to those who need to read it.

A blogger's curse on the marketing weasels at blogger 

Yes, they've got their own blog now: "Buzz".


So next time blogger goes down for a whole day, feel free to share your feelings with them, since of course blogger status is only updated in very unreal time, and the only answer you get from support comes from a bot.

Say, how much you want to bet that when your blog is down, their blog is up? But on the off chance that they are actually using the tools we have to, here are their sites. Put 'em up on the fridge, since of course when blogger goes down again, I won't be able to post:

(via Buzz)

God. "Biz." Breezy little fuckhead. "Good news everyone!" Gag me with a spoon. Billion dollar corporation can't manage a server farm.

May a blogger's curse fall on their heads:

May they be vested, and may their stock tank. In their arrogance, let them have bought a ton of stock on margin using those same options as collateral, and may margin calls fall upon them. May that inane spinning clock plague their dreams. May their content be irretrievably corrupted. May their templates reveal source. May they lose posts. May they double post, nay triple, nay quadruple post. May they gaze at the friggin' dashboard and a spinning cursor until their eyes bleed. May they be plagued in their cubes with boils. May their bimmers be lemons. May their returns be "0%" in all their endeavours to the end of their days.

Because blogger has proven, so very, very amply, that it has no respect for its users whatever, and companies like that deserve the discipline of the marketplace.

Oh yeah, Biz is the one who linked to Tech Central Station as a form of blogger triumphalism. What a whore.

OK, I feel much better now.

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