Saturday, September 6, 2008

GOP Convention intruder nailed. Hard.

Apparently, there was a security breach at the Republican convention last night that no one seems free to talk about.

However, a reporter for Talon News was able to interview one delegate who was close to the action. Talon, noted for high journalistic standards, decided not to run this story because the account couldn't be corroborated, but passed it to me so you can decide for yourselves if it's valid. Here is a transcript of the tape:

Reporter: "OK. Mr Haggy, is it?"
Delegate: "Close enough, but just call me Johnny."
Reporter: "All right, Johnny, please tell me what you saw."
Delegate: " Well, I had just wolfed down a couple of them moose burgers they're handin' out and was feelin' kinda full, so I went 'n set down about 15 minutes before we was suppose ta start--thought I'd read some scripture fer a few minutes--settles my stomach down. I was only about 20 feet from the podium. Anyway, I was settin' there readin' Matthew and lookin' at that pretty flag they got up there, when some guy just showed up on the podium like he was Mr. High 'n Mighty hisself. You know--right outta thin air like.

All I can think was he musta been one of them peacenik hippie terrorists the cops missed outside. He had long hair and a beard, and he had on a robe like some kind of A-rab or somethin'. Oh, yeah, he had this little basket he set down, too. And he musta had some kinda trick light that made 'im look like he glowed. Real creepy like.

Anyway, he stood there lookin' around for a minute, and just when he opened his mouth to say somethin', musta been three dozen security guys rushed 'im. He went down right now. That sucker had so many Taser darts in his head, it looked like a crown. When everybody seen that, they all laughed 'n cheered to beat hell. Then,the security guys just grabbed a leg and hauled 'im out the back. A minute later, some mucky-muck with Homeland Security comes out and says 'Please keep quiet about this until we figure out how he got through security. Enjoy the convention and God bless America'. And that was it.

Oh, I almost forgot. That little basket he had? It got kicked and spilled down the steps. All it was was a loaf of bread an' one lousy fish. Musta been his lunch.

The damn fool shoulda went to Denver instead. Not to throw stones, but those librul idiots prob'ly woulda let 'im talk all night."

Friday, September 5, 2008


Nebraska is the last state to have enacted a "safe haven" law, which allows parents to abandon unwanted children at hospitals with no questions asked.

Most states have laws that permit abandonment within the first few days of birth, but Nebraska's law, in effect since July, is much broader in scope. It allows for the abandonment of all minor children--in Nebraska that's age 19--and doesn't specify that only a parent can do it.

If Nebraska's version of "safe-haven" works the way I think it will, other states will change their laws to match. And until that happens, you can bet that people will be traveling to Nebraska by the millions to rid themselves of troublesome brats, no questions asked. Our country will have the best-behaved kids in the world.

Kids, this may be your only warning, so pay attention! Your life just got a lot tougher. You now have to be perfect human beings, and be lucky, too, if you want to stay at home sweet home. Think on this and be afraid, be very afraid---

Mom and dad run out of diapers? Couldn't find a babysitter? Are they tired of your lip? Is your room a mess? Do you fight with your siblings? Are you a picky eater? Ever wreck dad's car? Do you ignore them when they talk to you? Insist on playing your music full blast? Do you change clothes five times a day and take 60 minute showers? See ya!

Won't stay off of the neighbors grass? Do you tease his dog? Come on to his daughter? Or his son? Bye-Bye!

How about school? Tardy or disruptive? Lousy grades? Late homework? Pass notes or make armpit sounds when the teacher isn't looking? Think it's funny to pull bra straps?-- even your teacher's? Sneak smokes in the restroom? Gone, Gone and Gone again!!

Parents ever catch you and the rest of the school using your house for a pot and booze social? Got news-you're all toast!

Starting to get the picture, ya little heathens? Better do the dishes--right after you finish your homework and send Grandma that thank you note you've owed her for a month--and right after you tell mom and dad how much you love them. And then cross your fingers for luck. Every day!

Oh, and one little piece of advice--on Halloween, don't ever say "trick or treat!" again.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008


I'm considering calling for a boycott of all makers of computer keyboards, until the * as well as the !,@,#,$,%,&,and+ are eliminated from their product.

Asterisks and other seemingly harmless symbols that replace letters in words are not only useless, but diabolical. Writers routinely use this artifice under the erroneous assumption that they can disguise offensive language and thus avoid offending the tender sensibilities of the readers.

However, neither the writer nor the reader has gained anything, because when people see an ast*risked word, they assume that it's "bad", and will automatically stop and read it (several times if necessary), until they see the "bad" word they expect. This is particularly vexing for those of us who constantly strive to maintain absolute purity of thought, lest we be condemned to the eternal fires of damnation.

As dangerous as this convention is, it can be even worse, because an unscrupulous writer can use the conditioned reflexive response to the asterisk to lead readers to see offensive words where none actually exist.

The following examples are offered for your edification:

1. Harry Truman had a sign on his desk that read "the *uck stops here".

2. I'll never replace my old-fashioned bed, because I have sl*ts under the box springs.

3. To a baseball fan, the most exciting play is the "suicide squeeze", where the runner on third base races for home just as the pitcher releases the ball, and the batter lays a perfect *unt halfway between the mound and first base.

4.Agribusiness uses NAFTA to flood Mexico with their cr*p.

5.When your mouth is full of toothpaste, remember to s*it before you swallow.

6.Larry Craig is a senator from Ida**.

7. Why do women prefer men who wear Aqua V*lva?

8.When you're too tired to accept a friend's last minute dinner invitation, you should decline by saying "Sorry, but I've got to take a p*ss tonight".

This sort of chicanery not only assaults our morals, but makes it more difficult for our government's illegal spy programs to uncover the millions of terrorist plots being planned at this very moment. The asterisk and other symbols confuse the data-mining programs so badly that they can't see that this piece obviously contains instructions for weaponizing anthrax.

I'm sure you see the danger inherent in the use of these symbols. Would you be willing to support a boycott to save both our souls and our country?

Friday, July 11, 2008

War is the answer to our budget woes!

A friend, all upset, sent this article to me, which describes how the EPA arbitrarily lowers the statistical value of a life so a cost/benefit analysis of proposed regulations would show costs too high for the expected number of lives saved, and thus kill the proposal.

There's nothing especially new here --we already know that the Bush regulatory agencies work for the industries they're charged with regulating--and so there's nothing new to get upset about. Every detail that comes to light now is just another variation on a well-known theme, so what's the point of getting angry all over again--it's really bad for your health and doesn't fix a thing.

So what I decided to do is to use the information in the article to enhance your understanding of how we came to our present sorry pass by showing you how the government defends its egregious actions so successfully. They do so by filling their explanations with absurdity piled on absurdity, so that by the end, the dumbfounded listener can only dazedly nod his or her head. And it's worked for almost eight years.

I've transcribed a tape recording of an imaginary briefing given by Sedgewick "Chappy" Lipschitz, Interim Director of the White House Office of Obfuscatory Doublespeak. His remarks were delivered to the usual MSM stenographic pool, and were given to ease the publics discomfort at the growing perception that the government considers them less valuable than before. I'll skip the preliminaries and start here:

"OK, if you'll just follow along with me on this flip chart..

On average, the value of a life hasn't dropped at all. In fact, it has gone up. It's simply a matter of balancing numbers to reflect the value of a life from a broader viewpoint. For important budgeting purposes, the value of a life actually depends on whether we are saving it or taking it.

We are now using sophisticated accounting software developed for us by the Regent University School of Using Numbers to Multiply Fruitfully. It's quite complex, so I'll just give you a simple example to help you understand.

The value of any "given" life as figured in the EPA cost/benefit analyses has been lowered to $6.9 million from $7.8 million five years ago. Remember, that's a "saved" life. However, and this the good part, we invaded Iraq five years ago, and we've spent $1 trillion dollars to take one million lives--that's only $1 million per life "taken". Add that $1 million per life taken to the $6.9 million per life saved and you can easily see that the overall statistical value of a life today is $7.9 million, a slight increase from five years ago.

Factoring in the "give and take" in this manner also gives us proof positive that the Iraq war is more than paying for itself, and shows us a very clear path to quickly balancing the budget without raising taxes on our patriotic billionaires. It's obvious that we get more "bang for the buck" by funding war than by funding the EPA. The Iraq experience has proven that lives can be had through military action for only $1 million each, while the EPA number is nearly seven times that for any given life--it's not even close.

For that reason, we are immediately doubling military spending, and cutting the EPA's budget by 50%, and fully expect that this intelligent re-allocation of funds will result in a balanced budget within one year.

Any questions? No? Then thank you all for coming."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

But will they do anything to fix it?

Is there any testosterone left in the "hollowed balls of Congress"?
If the Dems close this loophole, they'll win the election in a landslide. This could be a case where their self-serving ways actually serve us for a change.

From WSJ digital network--Market Watch (6/23/08)

Gas could fall to $2 if Congress acts, analysts say

Limiting speculation would push prices to fundamental level, lawmakers told

By Rex Nutting & Michael Kitchen, MarketWatch
Last update: 4:24 p.m. EDT June 23, 2008
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- The price of retail gasoline could fall by half, to around $2 a gallon, within 30 days of passage of a law to limit speculation in energy-futures markets, four energy analysts told Congress on Monday.
Testifying to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Michael Masters of Masters Capital Management said that the price of oil would quickly drop closer to its marginal cost of around $65 to $75 a barrel, about half the current $135.
Fadel Gheit of Oppenheimer & Co., Edward Krapels of Energy Security Analysis and Roger Diwan of PFC Energy Consultants agreed with Masters' assessment at a hearing on proposed legislation to limit speculation in futures markets.
Krapels said that it wouldn't even take 30 days to drive prices lower, as fund managers quickly liquidated their positions in futures markets.
"Record oil prices are inflated by speculation and not justified by market fundamentals," according to Gheit. "Based on supply and demand fundamentals, crude-oil prices should not be above $60 per barrel."
Futures trading in London has not been a major factor in rising oil prices, testified Sir Bob Reid, chairman of the Chairman of London-based ICE Futures Europe. Rising prices are largely a function of fundamental supply and demand, not manipulation or speculation, he said.
"Energy speculation has become a growth industry and it is time for the government to intervene," said Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., chairman of the full committee. "We need to consider a full range of options to counter this rapacious speculation." It was Dingell's strongest statement yet on the role of speculators.
There has been much discussion recently about how big a role speculators have been playing in the sharp rise in energy prices, though no consensus has emerged on this point.
Dingell introduced a bill on June 11 that would ask the Energy Department to gather the facts on energy prices, including the role played by speculators. See full story.
There are two kinds of speculators in the futures markets, Masters said. Traditional speculators are those who need to hedge because they actually take physical possession of the commodities. Index speculators, on the other hand, are merely allocating a portion of their portfolio to commodity futures.
Index speculation damages price-discovery mechanisms provided by futures markets, Masters added
The committee will likely consider legislation that would rein in index speculation by imposing higher-margin requirements; setting position limits for speculators; requiring more disclosure of positions; and preventing pension funds and investment banks from owning commodities.
Both major presidential candidates have supported closing loopholes that encourage speculation in the energy markets. Read more on Election Blog.
However, other witnesses said that pure speculators have had little impact on energy prices, which have doubled in the past year to about $135 per barrel. Both Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman have dismissed the impact of speculators on prices paid by consumers.
Speculators now account for about 70% of all benchmark crude trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up from 37% in 2000, said Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., chairman of the investigations subcommittee. Stupak introduced a bill on Friday that would limit index speculation.
There has been much discussion recently about how big a role speculators have been playing in the sharp rise in energy prices, though no consensus has emerged on this point.
Congress, however, has grown increasingly concerned over speculative investors' role in the energy market in comparison with those buying futures contracts to hedge against risk from price changes. Lawmakers are expected to consider legislation to set strict limits -- or in some cases, an outright ban -- on speculative trading in energy futures in some markets.
Dingell is looking into any legal loopholes that may have contributed to speculation in energy markets. In 1991, according to documents provided by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to the committee's investigators, the agency authorized the first exemption from position limits for swap dealers with no physical commodity exposure. This began what Dingell said was "a process that has enabled investment banks to accumulate enormous positions in commodity markets."
Is Congress barking up the wrong tree?
Neal Ryan, manager at Ryan Oil & Gas Partners, said that if Congress develops regulations to cut back speculative trading, speculation will just find a new home.
"Speculation is the root of capitalism," he said. "If the speculation is forced out of the U.S. exchanges, it'll simply show up on other exchanges that are OTC like the ICE, or new exchanges will pop up to allow for the spec trades to continue functioning."
Ryan said he does see a reason for Congress to look at eliminating aspects such as allowing West Texas intermediate crude oil futures to trade on foreign markets and the "Enron loophole," but "these exchanges are currently functioning as they are supposed to in a free marketplace."
The creation of a comprehensive U.S. energy policy that tackles issues of increasing domestic supply and reining in consumer demand via conservation should be Congress' focus, Ryan said. "Instead we're on bended knee begging the Saudis to put more oil on the market and talking about shutting down spec trades." End of Story

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Was it rape or consensual sex?

The following was reported by The Raw Story on 3/27/08:

NZealand court sentences man after wombat rape claim

A New Zealand man has been sentenced to community service after telling police he had been raped by a wombat and the experience had caused him to start speaking "Australian".

Arthur Cradock, a 48-year-old orchard worker from Motueka on South Island, rang police on February 11 to say he was being raped by the slow moving Australian marsupial at his home, The Nelson Mail reported.

He rang back soon afterwards to say he was withdrawing his complaint against the wombat, a court was told Wednesday.

"Apart from speaking Australian now, I'm pretty all right you know," he told police in the second call.

Cradock pleaded guilty to using a phone for a fictitious purpose and was sentenced to 75 hours community work.

The article raises more questions than it answers. For example, did Mr Cradock already have a friendly relationship with the wombat, and invite it into his home simply to spend an evening socializing, with popcorn, tv, and beer? And did he lead the wombat on with suggestive flirting which got out of hand? Or was it more sinister--did the wombat break in while Mr Cradock was sleeping and have his way with an alcohol-addled victim?

Why did Cradock call back to the police and recant? Did the wombat threaten him, or did he realize that he really enjoyed the experience?

More important is the larger question of why the police charged him. Did they intentionally paint Mr Cradock as some kind of nutcase to keep an alarming rise in rape by wombat from being known to the general public? If so, other victims will be less likely to report these attacks, and the population of New Zealand will continue to be unaware of the danger they're in.

If anyone can supply additional information on these burning questions, please contact me, as I'm planning a trip to South Island and need to know more before I go.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Travesty of justice in Muncie, Indiana

MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) - A Muncie man has surrendered to face allegations he forced his 7-year-old daughter to kill the family cat by holding a knife in her hand and making her stab it.

Thirty-nine-year-old Danield J. Collins was being held in Delaware County Jail on $40,000 bond on charges of animal cruelty, battery and neglect of a dependent. The jail had no record of an attorney for Collins.

An affidavit filed today in Delaware County alleges Collins told his 11-year-old son and daughter he wanted them to "learn how to kill" and ordered them to kill the family's pet cat.

Detective Jami Brown of the Muncie Police Department says Collins forced his daughter to hold the knife and then held her hand tightly as he drove the knife into the animal.

The affidavit says the girl also said her father stabbed the cat himself and also strangled it.

This is ridiculous !! Here is a story of a concerned father doing his level best to teach his children how to survive in a dangerous world, and he is being charged with a crime for meeting his responsibility to his kids. For the government to intrude on the rights of a parent to instruct his children in life's important lessons smacks of the worst sort of interference, and should not be tolerated.

Let's not lose sight of the fact that our lives are fraught with danger. Disaster can strike from any quarter, and if we are not prepared to kill any threat we will certainly be victims. What Mr. Collins did was appropriate on more than one level.

Everyone knows that the greatest threat to our well-being comes from brown-skinned people from Mexico and the Middle East, and he chose his cat, a beautiful tan colored tom named "Raghead", to acclimate his kids to killing creatures of that color. With enough practice, when the time comes(as it surely must), his kids will react instinctively and be more likely to survive.

The other aspect of Mr. Collins' lesson is that guns, while expedient, are too impersonal, and they simply do not provide the same pleasure as killing something by hand. This is something we all know--who among you hasn't experienced the tremendous pleasure of killing a living, breathing creature with their bare hands. The experience becomes much more meaningful when done this way and you find yourself wanting to repeat it again and again. This is a lesson that Dick "Shotgun" Cheney has yet to learn, and he will be an incomplete human being until he does.

Mr. Collins should be applauded for what he did--certainly not prosecuted. There are profound Constitutional questions involved here. For that reason, I am starting a fund to provide for his defense. Please donate as much as you can--no amount will be rejected.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

IRS nails 7 year old tax cheat

From AP 2/23/08, via The Raw Story:

Police in a Chicago suburb say the Internal Revenue Service has told a 7-year-old boy he owes back taxes on $60,000 because someone else has been using the youngster's identity to collect wages and unemployment benefits.

Officers in suburban Carpentersville said Friday the second-grader's identity has been in use by someone else since 2001.

Detectives have filed a felony identity theft charge against 29-year-old Cirilo Centeno of Streamwood, Ill.

They accuse Centeno of using the boy's personal information to collect more than $60,000 in pay and services while working three jobs. They say he also used the boy's ID to buy a truck, pay bills and even collect unemployment benefits.

I can only say it's about time the IRS began cracking down on these juvenile scofflaws. If they collected from all these kids who obviously have no regard for the laws of this land, then we'd have a budget surplus within six months! I'm sick and tired of paying more than my fair share of taxes and getting nothing in return! If little snots like this are forced to pony up we'd be in good shape and could even increase the size of the tax cuts for the super-rich without increasing the deficit. Do you realize how many kids there are in this country? Billions at least!

They need to make an example of this little creep.I hope he's hauled into Tax Court in shackles and ordered to forfeit his lunch money for the rest of his life. Any of you bleeding hearts that say it's not his fault--well, baloney--its everyone's responsibility to guard against identity theft, and since he obviously didn't, he's guilty of providing material support to a criminal enterprise. There's nothing in the statutes that lets kids off the hook. He really should do hard time for this, but he's probably related to Barack Hussein Obama.

Friday, February 8, 2008

The FDA has levied a $4.6 million dollar fine against the American Red Cross for the distribution of "unsuitable blood products".

From (2/06/08)

FDA Fines Red Cross Another $4.6 Million

WASHINGTON -- The Food and Drug Administration has fined the Red Cross an additional $4.6 million for the distribution of "unsuitable blood products," bringing penalties against the organization to more than $19 million in recent years.

The FDA issued a letter Wednesday stating that it reviewed 113 recalls of blood products by the Red Cross from April 2003 to April 2006. The recalls involved the release of an estimated 4,094 unsuitable blood components.

Agency officials noted that having to conduct a recall shows that safety protocols were breached. For example, a donor may not have been appropriately asked about international travel or intravenous drug use.

FDA spokeswoman Peper Long said the agency didn't find any evidence of serious health consequences as a result of the safety breaches.

Red Cross officials said it was taking several steps to find problems in the collection and distribution of blood supplies. It's increasing supervision at blood drives and consolidating processing facilities. Its goal is to meet the FDA's standards for quality and safety, officials said.

"It takes time and it takes resources, but we're committed to doing whatever's necessary to meet that goal," said Red Cross spokeswoman Stephanie Millian.

Millian stressed that the fine would not be paid through donations but through the operating fees that it charges those who get blood units, such as hospitals.

The latest fine is being added to a tally of nearly $15 million in previous FDA penalties for violation of blood-safety laws, regulations and the terms of a 2003 consent decree.

That settlement resolved charges that the Red Cross had committed "persistent and serious violations" of federal blood safety rules dating back 17 years.

In 2004, the Red Cross implemented a plan, with the FDA's blessing, to detect, investigate, monitor and correct the sorts of problems repeatedly cited by government investigators.

The Red Cross apparently has a lousy track record monitoring blood shipments, but they also seem to have poor judgement about the company they keep. In January, the Middle Atlantic region of the Red Cross gave a special award to Blackwater Worldwide and their owner Erik Princeofdarkness, for having collected 264 units of blood from their employees.

Jeremy Scahill at AlterNet (2/02/08)

Blackwater and Blood: Spilling it in Iraq, Donating it at Home

If there's one thing that can be said about Blackwater Worldwide, the Bush administration's favorite mercenary company, it is no stranger to blood -- its operatives have caused a lot of it to be spilled in Iraq. Last September, Blackwater forces gunned down 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad's Nisour Square and wounded more than 20 others. It was reportedly one of 10 such deadly incidents involving the company in Iraq since June 2005. After all the carnage and death, Blackwater is now giving back. Not in Iraq, but right here at home.

This week, the company received an award from the American Red Cross -- not for its skill at making Iraqis bleed, but for Blackwater's recent blood drive, where company employees reportedly gave 264 units of blood. "That means that well over 600 lives have been saved in this region," said Georgia Donaldson of the Mid Atlantic region Red Cross.

The group presented Blackwater's owner, Erik Prince with a plaque, honoring the company. "I'm proud of the folks we have here. We have a great team, they constantly go above and beyond the call of duty, they give back and they're giving to their local community here," said Prince. But here's the money quote: Blackwater "saw a need for the community to receive more blood, so we made it available and our folks answered the call." Sort of like what they do in Iraq for Bush. Oh, and this blood must be mighty special. As Prince told Congress last year, his men "bleed red, white and blue."

This isn't the first time Blackwater and the Red Cross teamed up. After Hurricane Katrina, where Blackwater raked in over $70 million in federal "security" contracts, the company held a Red Cross fundraiser and pulled in $138,000 -- about $100,000 short of Blackwater's estimated daily take at the height of its Katrina operations. The keynote speaker at that event? L. Paul Bremer, the original head of the US occupation.

As for the recent blood drive, maybe the Red Cross should ship some of it over to Iraq for Blackwater's next victims.

It would come as no surprise to discover that the next fine the Red Cross pays will be for releasing 264 units of tainted blood, but they won't mind--hell, it's free money anyway.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


Special thanks to the Liberal Party for having this on their website, and thanks also to Buzzflash for putting it out there for me to find. These are excerpts from a speech given by John F Kennedy as he accepted the nomination of the New York Liberal Party, on 9/14/60.

"What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label "Liberal?" If by "Liberal" they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer's dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of "Liberal." But if by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."

But first, I would like to say what I understand the word "Liberal" to mean and explain in the process why I consider myself to be a "Liberal," and what it means in the presidential election of 1960.

In short, having set forth my view -- I hope for all time -- two nights ago in Houston, on the proper relationship between church and state, I want to take the opportunity to set forth my views on the proper relationship between the state and the citizen. This is my political credo:

I believe in human dignity as the source of national purpose, in human liberty as the source of national action, in the human heart as the source of national compassion, and in the human mind as the source of our invention and our ideas. It is, I believe, the faith in our fellow citizens as individuals and as people that lies at the heart of the liberal faith. For liberalism is not so much a party creed or set of fixed platform promises as it is an attitude of mind and heart, a faith in man's ability through the experiences of his reason and judgment to increase for himself and his fellow men the amount of justice and freedom and brotherhood which all human life deserves.

I believe also in the United States of America, in the promise that it contains and has contained throughout our history of producing a society so abundant and creative and so free and responsible that it cannot only fulfill the aspirations of its citizens, but serve equally well as a beacon for all mankind. I do not believe in a superstate. I see no magic in tax dollars which are sent to Washington and then returned. I abhor the waste and incompetence of large-scale federal bureaucracies in this administration as well as in others. I do not favor state compulsion when voluntary individual effort can do the job and do it well. But I believe in a government which acts, which exercises its full powers and full responsibilities. Government is an art and a precious obligation; and when it has a job to do, I believe it should do it. And this requires not only great ends but that we propose concrete means of achieving them.

Our responsibility is not discharged by announcement of virtuous ends. Our responsibility is to achieve these objectives with social invention, with political skill, and executive vigor. I believe for these reasons that liberalism is our best and only hope in the world today. For the liberal society is a free society, and it is at the same time and for that reason a strong society. Its strength is drawn from the will of free people committed to great ends and peacefully striving to meet them. Only liberalism, in short, can repair our national power, restore our national purpose, and liberate our national energies. And the only basic issue in the 1960 campaign is whether our government will fall in a conservative rut and die there, or whether we will move ahead in the liberal spirit of daring, of breaking new ground, of doing in our generation what Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and Adlai Stevenson did in their time of influence and responsibility.

Our liberalism has its roots in our diverse origins. Most of us are descended from that segment of the American population which was once called an immigrant minority. Today, along with our children and grandchildren, we do not feel minor. We feel proud of our origins and we are not second to any group in our sense of national purpose. For many years New York represented the new frontier to all those who came from the ends of the earth to find new opportunity and new freedom, generations of men and women who fled from the despotism of the czars, the horrors of the Nazis, the tyranny of hunger, who came here to the new frontier in the State of New York. These men and women, a living cross section of American history, indeed, a cross section of the entire world's history of pain and hope, made of this city not only a new world of opportunity, but a new world of the spirit as well."...

"Many of these same immigrant families produced the pioneers and builders of the American labor movement. They are the men who sweated in our shops, who struggled to create a union, and who were driven by longing for education for their children and for the children's development. They went to night schools; they built their own future, their union's future, and their country's future, brick by brick, block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, and now in their children's time, suburb by suburb."...

"This is an important election -- in many ways as important as any this century -- and I think that the Democratic Party and the Liberal Party here in New York, and those who believe in progress all over the United States, should be associated with us in this great effort. The reason that Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and Adlai Stevenson had influence abroad, and the United States in their time had it, was because they moved this country here at home, because they stood for something here in the United States, for expanding the benefits of our society to our own people, and the people around the world looked to us as a symbol of hope."...

In almost 48 years, no one has ever explained what liberal values truly are as eloquently as Kennedy did on that night. Indeed, I do not believe anyone can. He captured the essence of what a "liberal" stands for. The essence that even now guides our hearts and deeds. These are timeless, universal values that we hold in our souls, that will never be relinquished freely.

I would suggest that you link to Kennedy's speech and hand a downloaded copy to any of your right-wing name calling "friends". Help them to read it, if necessary, but don't try to make them feel foolish. They'll eventually get there on their own, when the truth sinks in.

The Republican game plan

On his radio broadcast today, Rush Limbaugh called for his listeners to donate to Hillary Clinton's primary campaign. They are desperate to have Clinton defeat Barack Obama and run against John McCain, because millions of voters will turn out just to vote against her.
From The Raw Story (2/07/08)

Limbaugh wants to raise cash for Clinton after Romney withdrawal

Says anti-Hillary fervor all that will unite GOP

Conservative talker Rush Limbaugh had an unorthodox solution to Mitt Romney's departure from the Republican race; he's thinking about raising money for Hillary Clinton.

Don't be mistaken: There's been no sudden change of heart on Limbaugh's part toward the woman who's been among his favorite targets for scorn over the last 15 years. Limbaugh is operating under the assumption that the Republican party -- now represented by presumptive nominee John McCain -- would have a better chance of retaining the White House if anti-Hillary fervor drives GOP voters to the polls in November.

"The reason I'm raising money for Hillary is because, apparently, my party, the Republican party, is relying on fear and loathing of Hillary to unite the party," Limbaugh said.

Limbaugh, who has been harshly critical of McCain throughout the primary, still sees maintaining GOP control as his primary goal. His endorsement, then, does not fall in the same column as fellow conservative Ann Coulter's recent insistence that she would vote for Hillary over McCain because she is the more conservative candidate.

Speaking on his daily radio show Thursday, just after Romney announced the end of his campaign, Limbaugh said he was "dead serious about considering" soliciting Clinton donations from his listeners. He worried that she was in danger of losing the nomination to Barack Obama, who doesn't inspire the same fervent rage among GOP voters. The Clinton campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

"Here's the slogan" for the fundraiser, he said: "Keep her in it, so we can win it."

Limbaugh's plea came on the heels of an announcement by Clinton that she had loaned her campaign $5 million to keep it afloat after having spent so heavily to defeat Obama in this weeks primaries. After all of that she emerged virtually deadlocked in the race for delegates, and Obama looks to have a good chance at the nomination.

Were that to happen, it would seriously hurt GOP prospects because not nearly as many people hate Obama as hate Clinton. She has more negatives, in the eyes of conservatives, than Adolph Hitler, and the mere mention of her name evokes a visceral reaction beyond all reason. Most of this stems from the unrelenting years-long smear campaign directed at her and her husband that started with his election and continues to this day. The Republicans are banking on that intense hatred alone to pull enough voters to the polls to swing the election to them. They know full well that wide majorities of the electorate are disgusted with every aspect of Republican rule, and a Clinton candidacy can only help them.

But promoting Clinton is only part of a two-pronged strategy. By attacking John McCain as being too liberal, they hope to blur the differences between the two presumptive candidates and mitigate the backlash of anger the voters hold for the Republicans. They expect to be able to sow enough confusion that Republicans who would vote for a Democrat this election cycle will not see a clear choice, and either sit out the election or vote for McCain because he's not a "true Republican". This would compound the effect of the "Clinton hater" vote.

Add the fact that many short-sighted liberals may not vote for Clinton on principle, because of her voting record and support for the Iraq war/occupation, and you see that that the Republican game plan could work.

A Clinton candidacy would also drag down the rest of the Democratic ticket, and make it much more difficult for the Democrats to expand, or even keep, their Congressional majorities. And even a close vote in any of these races might make it possible for the Republicans to switch a loss into a win through electronic voting machine fraud.

As if this isn't enough, there's even more-- every talking head and every journalist throughout the entire right wing controlled media will be working overtime to make this strategy work, and thanks to some huge legal loopholes, the Republicans have a war chest of over $250 million to run attack ads. Despite the edge the Democrats have this year in traditional fundraising, they can't come close to the "loophole funds" raised by the GOP.

The implication is ominous--The GOP can smear Clinton so often and so thoroughly that any effort to paint McCain as the war-lover that he is will be overwhelmed.

Keep in mind that this potential disaster would be moot if Barack Obama were to win the nomination. Work for it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Alas, is there no honor among thieves?

To some, anyone is fair game--even their own. Shocking? Not when it involves Republicans.

From The Raw Story (2/06/08)

FBI probing figure linked to 2004 Swift Boat Veterans for Truth; Accused of forging campaign auditMichael Roston
Published: Wednesday February 6, 2008

The Politico revealed on Wednesday that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had initiated a probe of a former treasurer of the National Republican Congressional Committee over the forging of a 2006 election audit. But it left out an important detail: the official in question served as a partner at a firm that was retained by the Swift Boat Veterans and Prioners of War for Truth in 2004 to perform legal compliance work.

A report in Wednesday's Politico from Patrick O'Connor and John Bresnahan reveals that the NRCC, which raises funds for the political campaigns of House Republicans, is auditing its own books due to what may be an FBI fraud investigation of Christopher J. Ward, who served as NRCC treasurer until Aug. 2007.

While the Politico report noted that Ward had been serving the NRCC as a private contractor since last year, it failed to note that he was also at one time a partner with the Fairfax, Virginia-based Political Compliance Services, Inc., a firm that specializes in filing reports with the Federal Election Commission on behalf of political candidates and campaigns.

PCS, Inc., according to earlier reports, was retained by the Swift Boat Veterans and POWs for Truth in the run-up to the 2004 presidential election.

"Since the spring of 2004, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth paid Ward’s firm nearly $230,000 for services ranging from database management to website consulting, according to disbursements archived at PoliticalMoneyLine, a nonpartisan website that tracks fundraising," according to a July 2007 report in The Hill.

Reporter Alexander Bolton also noted that Ward did not directly handle the Swift Boat Vets' work which was carried out by another Political Compliance Services, Inc. partner.

The Swift Boat Vets played a powerful role in the 2004 presidential election. The group raised tens of millions of dollars, much of it from major Republican Party donors, and paid for commercials and mailings questioning Democratic Senator John Kerry's military service record, as well as his anti-war activities after his return from Vietnam.

The group was led by John O'Neill, who had been tasked by figures close to President Richard Nixon in 1971 to publicly challenge peace advocates like Kerry in public settings in the form of the group "Vietnam Veterans for a Just Peace." The Swift Boat Vets relied on claims of Vietnam veterans who claimed they knew Kerry and that he was exaggerating his service record, many of which did not hold up to truth.

In Dec. 2006, the Federal Election Commission levied an almost $300,000 fine against the group for breaking federal election laws.

A call to PCS on Wednesday morning confirmed that Ward recently left the firm. RAW STORY was awaiting further comment from the company.

Bush will never pardon this guy--there's treason and then there's real treason. Fraud against the National Republican Campaign Committee? By a "Swift Boater"? Karma ! Poetic justice ! Couldn't happen to nicer people ! HA HA HA HA HA !!!! I hope he lost every dime in investing in sub-prime mortgages. Serves 'em all right.

Uncle Benedict needs YOU !!!

Pope Benedict XVI, has called for the formation of "exorcism squads"to fight demonic possession, as explained in the following reprint from The Raw Story (2/05/08) :

Pope backs surge of exorcism squads 'to fight the Devil head on'David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Tuesday February 5, 2008

The Vatican has never given up belief in the reality of demonic possession, but the practice of actual exorcisms has waned over the last few centuries. Now, however, the Vatican's chief exorcist has revealed that Pope Benedict XVI takes the problem very seriously and is "setting up exorcism squads to deal with the rampant growth of Satanism."

Father Gabriele Amorth is both the senior exorcist of the diocese of Rome and the founder of the International Association of Exorcists. He has condemned the Harry Potter novels as containing "the signature of the Prince of Darkness" and recently warned that diabolical influences can reach even into the Vatican.

Amorth told IBN that "the action of the Devil is a lot more widespread than in the past, not because he has more strength, but because he is given more space." He went on to complain that these days "priests and bishops know nothing about the subject. ... They believe in the Devil, but they don't believe much in the actions of the Devil, so they prefer to send everyone to psychiatrists."

Pope Benedict, who "is said to be a firm believer in the existence of evil," has called for hundreds of priests to be trained as exorcists and made available to every Bishop. "Thank God there is a pope who wants to fight the devil head on," Amorth told IBN.

Personally, I believe in demonic possession, and that it is indeed widespread. How else to account for all of the evil we see in the world today? I believe that the Pope is on the right track here, but is naive if he thinks that mere squads will suffice when it is obvious that at least two armies are needed for an overwhelming "shock and awe"campaign.

If those possessed can be identified their evil acts, then it is clear to me that massive well- organized armies must be quickly mobilized and equipped, and must carry out coordinated attacks to drive the demons out of their unwitting victims all at once, or else the demons are likely to find other vulnerable hosts to take over without even having to leave the room.. The devil and his minions will not be easily dismissed.

There are areas in our country where demonic activity is concentrated. These "nests of evil" must be attacked and cleared out simultaneously, and then the armies can be split into squads or platoons to fan out and clear the smaller nests which abound.

The two main infestations are large enough to pose logistical issues, and may well require small water purification plants to ensure a sufficient supply of holy water, and tank sprayers for the exorcists to use both offensively in group situations and as a defensive weapon against the inevitable vicious counter-attacks.

Once every branch of government has been "dis-possessed"(starting with the Executive), and the financial centers in New York brought back into the light, the squads can go to work on the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and fan out to corporate boardrooms across the country, stopping at several conservative "Christian" churches and organizations on the way.

You can see that this is a massive undertaking, and the Vatican will surely need all the help it can get. Finally, we progressives are presented with a golden opportunity to quit bitching and actually do something to set our country aright.

I'm sure that the Pope will appreciate your help, so get ready--you'll need a heavy-duty crucifix, a dependable tank sprayer, holy oil (Valvoline will do in a pinch), and either this or this prayer--and join the fight!


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Speaking of "vast wastelands".....

In 1961, Newton Minow, then Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, famously referred to television as a "vast wasteland". I wonder how he would feel about the efforts of EnergySolutions to turn the United States into a "vast radioactive wasteland".

From (2/04/08)

US Company Seeks Permit to Import Nuclear Waste

WASHINGTON, DC - Bart Gordon, the Tennessee Democrat who chairs the House Committee on Science and Technology, does not want the United States to receive low-level radioactive waste from Italy, process it in Tennessee and dispose of it in a Utah waste site.

He says acceptance of the waste would put the U.S. on a path to becoming “the world’s nuclear garbage waste dump.”

On Friday, Gordon asked the Northwest Interstate Compact for Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management to withhold its support for a license application to accept the Italian waste filed by EnergySolutions, the company that operates the only private Class A low-level radioactive waste disposal in the United States.

This application marks the first time in the history of the NRC that a company has asked to dispose of large amounts of foreign-generated low-level radioactive waste in the United States.

“The U.S. already faces capacity issues and other challenges in treating and disposing of radioactive waste produced domestically,” said Gordon. “We should be working on solving this problem at home before taking dangerous waste from around the world.”

Low-level radioactive waste consists of contaminated protective shoe covers and clothing, wiping rags, mops, filters, reactor water treatment residues, equipments and tools, luminous dials, medical tubes, swabs, injection needles, syringes, and laboratory animal carcasses and tissues, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The radioactivity can range from just above background levels found in nature to very highly radioactive in certain cases such as parts from inside the reactor vessel in a nuclear power plant, the NRC says.

Gordon has long said that the application did not appear to represent a “one-time” event because EnergySolutions, which became a publicly traded company in November, has made clear its intent to pursue decommissioning work in both the United States and Europe.

“It is highly likely that this is the first application with a string to follow,” Gordon said.

On November 16, 2007, EnergySolutions’ CEO and Chairman of the Board Steve Creamer rang the bell to open trading at the New York Stock Exchange where EnergySolutions’ stock (NYSE: ES) began trading publicly.

EnergySolutions operates waste processing and disposition facilities in Tennessee, South Carolina, and Utah. The company also operates low-level radioactive waste disposal facilities, vaults, and landfills on the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Reservation in Tennessee and Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

U.S. low-level waste is typically stored on-site by licensees, according to the NRC, either until it has decayed away and can be disposed of as ordinary trash, or until amounts are large enough for shipment to a low-level waste disposal site in containers approved by the Department of Transportation.

To obtain a permit to send waste to a law-level radioactive waste depository, federal regulations require the approval of the state and the Compact in which the disposal site is located.

EnergySolutions disposes of more than 90 percent of the low-level radioactive waste generated in the U.S. through a license granted by the State of Utah and with the permission of the Northwest Compact.

The Compact allows EnergySolutions to take low-level radioactive waste from outside the Compact because it serves “an important national purpose” and has reserved the right to “modify or rescind” its authorization at any time.

My God, the very idea of importing radioactive waste into the U.S. is simply insane. We can't process and dispose of what we already have, and this idiotic proposal comes along from a company called EnergySolutions (???). They're sure not solving any problems for us, are they?

The only problem they're trying to solve is how to win the admiration of the" investor" class for their imaginative approach to "bottom-line" health. And it that class, neither consequences nor methods matter, only profit. Money is King, and that's all that counts. Long live the King!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Wall Street--unrestrained and untouchable

This is a mind-blowing essay by Pam Martens, posted on AlterNet (2/04/08). There are literally no limits to the criminal sleaze of our bankers and investment houses, and they were formally given free rein last year by our Supreme Court. Read it and weep--it's unbelievable.

Bankers Gone Bonkers: Global Financiers Should Make Insanity Plea

With Wall Street capital disappearing as fast as foreclosures are climbing, one foreign head of state had an epiphany. French President Nicholas Sarkozy advanced the idea recently that the global financial system is "out of its mind."

To develop this theory further, I've reconstructed below some of the mileposts on our journey to this financial loony bin.

Exhibit One: Commit-a-Felony-Get-a-Bonus Contract

Back in 2002, Mark Belnick, who had previously been one of the legal go-to guys for Wall Street as a rising star at corporate law firm Paul,Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, found himself transplanted as General Counsel at fraud-infested Tyco International. Mr. Belnick inked a retention agreement for himself and it was duly filed without fanfare at the top corporate cop's web site, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The agreement guaranteed Mr. Belnick a payment of at least $10.6 million should he commit a felony and be fired before October 2003.

Very prescient fellow, Mr. Belnick was indeed charged with a few felonies like grand larceny and securities fraud by the Manhattan District Attorney's office. Mr. Belnick was acquitted of those charges and the SEC let him off the hook for aiding and abetting federal violations of securities laws with a $100,000 penalty payment and a prohibition against serving as an officer or director of a public company for five years. Mr. Belnick agreed to the SEC settlement without admitting or denying the charges. Mr. Belnick did not lose his law license and continues to practice law.

While Mr. Belnick was drafting his "felony bonus" agreement with Tyco, he was also teaching a law course at Cornell on ethics. Today, his agreement is available at the web site as a "sample business contract," raising the suspicion that we as a society have become desensitized to financial insanity.

Exhibit Two: Supreme Insanity

On December 7, 2006, Wall Street was elated to learn that the U.S. Supreme Court had agreed to hear its case requesting that a no-law zone be drawn around its financial borders for acts of collusion and commercial bribery, such as those so well documented in the issuance of new stock offerings during the tech/dotcom bubble. Calling the matter an alleged "epic Wall Street conspiracy," the U.S Federal Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit had earlier turned down Wall Street for its requested grant of immunity.

The Wall Street firms and their legions of lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that the SEC (which, by the way, has no criminal powers) should have sole authority to regulate it and, therefore, it should be immune from other U.S. laws governing collusion and commercial bribery. (Credit Suisse First Boston Ltd. v. Billings.)

On June 18, 2007, the Supreme Court issued its opinion giving Wall Street everything it wanted, concluding that the SEC was doing a good job. The Court wrote: "...there is here no question of the existence of appropriate regulatory authority, nor is there doubt as to whether the regulators have exercised that authority."

The sweeping ignorance of that statement is breathtaking. Whether it was Wall Street firms price fixing on NASDAQ for decades or the orchestrated rigging of the market for new stock issues in the late 90s or the current institutionalized system of credit fraud, the SEC always has its lens fogged until some college professors or investigative reporters publish a step by step playbook, disseminate it widely, and force the SEC to take action to save face.

Worse yet, when the SEC finally does take action, it imposes fines of millions for stealing billions, making crime one of the most productive profit centers on Wall Street.

This 2007 decision from the Supreme Court comes exactly 20 years and 10 days after the 1987 Supreme Court decision in Shearson/American Express Inc. v. McMahon. Under this ruling, Wall Street has been able to run a private justice system called mandatory arbitration to hear the cases of the investors or employees it defrauds (with the exception of class actions). The instruction manual for this private justice system explains that adherence to the law is not required; arbitration panel members, many on Wall Street's payroll, can just go with their gut.

In other words, the highest court in our land is telling Americans that the reward for serial lawlessness is immunity from the law.

Exhibit Three: Banks' Secret Profit Center: Your Death

Few Americans are aware that for at least 16 years big business and banks have been secretly taking out millions of life insurance policies on their rank and file workers and naming the corporation the beneficiary of the death benefit without the knowledge of the worker. The individual policies are frequently in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. If the employee leaves the company, no problem; big business is still allowed to collect the death benefit and they track the employee through the Social Security Administration to keep tabs on when they die. These policies are commonly known as "dead peasant" or "janitor" policies because they insure low-wage earners including janitors. Some of the largest corporations in America have been boosting their income statements by including cash buildup in the policies as well as receiving the death benefit tax free.

In 2003, the General Accountability Office (GAO) released a study with the startling findings that companies were taking out multiple policies on the same individual and that 3,209 banks and thrifts had current cash values in these policies totaling $56.3 Billion.

But instead of a congressional revolt against this revolting practice, it remained in place for at least 16 years after Congress first learned about it. Then along comes the worker-friendly sounding Pension Protection Act of 2006 submitted by our Congress and signed by the President. Buried deep within this massive document was the grandfathering of the millions of previously issued policies with a little tinkering at the edges of tax and reporting issues on newly issued policies.

Exhibit Four: They Keep the Money; You Get the Slogan

Around the time the stock market was in the process of losing $7 trillion of investor wealth in ill-conceived techs, dotcoms and telecoms, aided and abetted by Citigroup and its Wall Street cronies, I was driving on Charles Lindbergh Blvd. in Uniondale, Long Island when a bizarre billboard caught my eye. The giant billboard read:

He who dies with the most toys is still dead.
Live Richly.

(Citigroup logo: "Citi" and angelic red halo.)

I had never worked on Madison Avenue but I knew a lot of ad folks and I was pretty sure advertisements typically involved children, pets or other warm and fuzzy things. Citigroup telling me to ponder my own death seemed, well, "out of its mind."

I knew there had to be more behind this campaign. According to Citigroup's web site, the "Live Richly" campaign was meant to communicate "that Citi is an advocate for a healthy approach to money. Citi is an active partner in achieving perspective, balance, and peace of mind in finances and in life for its customers."

The ad agency was Fallon Worldwide and it clearly had Citigroup confused with a social responsibility fund, not the firm that named its trades after its real motives like the "Dr. Evil" trade that disrupted the European bond markets or the "Black Hole" mechanism associated with the bankrupting of Italian dairy giant, Parmalat.

Here's a sampling of the insanity taking place inside Citigroup as they spent millions extolling the public to evolve as better human beings and, more subtly, pay no mind to the $7 trillion of investor wealth that's evaporating behind our curtain of kindness.

Citigroup slogan: People with fat wallets are not necessarily more jolly.

Citigroup reality: Sandy Weill, Citigroup's CEO, earned "$785 million in total compensation over five years: more than any chief executive in America, and by a wide margin." Dan Ackman, Forbes, April 26, 2001.

Citigroup slogan: Holding shares shouldn't be your only form of affection. Citigroup reality: "A recently unearthed 'highly confidential' Citigroup memo openly discussed the 'pressures' keeping research analysts from providing investors with honest research. In the 2002 memo, John Hoffman, then global research chief for Citi's Salomon Smith Barney division, advised Salomon Smith Barney CEO Michael Carpenter of the internal view that 'implementation and enforcement of clearer and more accurate ratings is in conflict with certain paramount goals of our firm'-namely, maximizing underwriting fees." Peter Elkind, Fortune, November 23, 2005

The memo was obtained as a Florida law firm attempted to get restitution for what Salomon Smith Barney clients were increasingly holding: worthless shares.

Cumulatively, all of these examples suggest that a strong argument could be made that unfettered greed finds its ultimate expression in systemic corruption which is frequently indistinguishable from insanity.

Please note just how much of this insanity can be placed at the doorstep of self-regulation.

Any of us could be sent to jail for years if we stole a loaf of bread to feed our starving families. Think about that.

Suspicions confirmed

Here are two short post reprinted from Think Progress (2/04/08), which I can't help but believe confirms my opinion of Republican politicians in general.

The first:
Rep. Brown-Waite calls Puerto Ricans 'foreign citizens'.

In a press release last week, Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL) attacked the new economic stimulus bill for sending “hundreds of millions of dollars” to “foreign citizens,” including “residents of Puerto Rico and territories like Guam.” Calling her comments “infuriating and contradictory,” the Puerto Rican House of Representatives demanded “a public apology” today from Brown-Waite for referring to Puerto Ricans as “foreign citizens.” Puerto Ricans were made American citizens in 1917.
And the second:

Sex workers get ‘more business’ at GOP conventions.
This summer’s political conventions are expected to be “a boom in business” for “the sex and adult entertainment industries,” but according to one veteran sex worker who spoke to the Rocky Mountain News, the GOP conventions are “a lot better for the sex workers.” “We get a lot more business,” Carol Leigh told the paper. “I don’t know if they’re just frustrated because of the family values agenda.

There you have it, folks. Even a confirmed skeptic has to admit, with only two dots to connect, these are proof positive that Republicans are indeed stupid f**kers.

Calling "Captain Trips"

Remember "The Stand", Stephen King's great classic from several years ago? A virus, which came to be known as "Captain Trips", escaped from a top-secret germ warfare lab and quickly wiped out the population of the United States except for a few thousand people.The premise was similar to Michael Crichton's thriller movie, "The Andromeda Strain", and both served as cautionary tales about the consequences of "playing" with deadly agents. And both serve as reminders that regardless of the care taken to insure against accidents, it is inevitable that sooner or later, "shit happens".

Keep that in mind as you read this:
San Francisco Chronicle (2/02/08)

Top-secret Livermore anti-germ lab opens

A high-security laboratory where deadly microbes are being grown by scientists seeking defenses against terrorist attacks began operating in Livermore last week without public announcement, and opponents said Friday that they will go to federal court in an effort to close the facility down.

Built inside the closed campus of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the facility has been controversial ever since it was first proposed by homeland security officials more than five years ago. Tri-Valley CARES, the East Bay watchdog group that has long fought nuclear weapons research there, has led the fight against it with protests and legal actions.

The facility is known as a Biosafety-level 3 laboratory where highly trained workers, high-tech airlocks and extremely rigorous safety measures are required by federal rules in order to contain any of more than 40 potentially lethal disease-causing bacteria, viruses and fungi stored inside.

The National Nuclear Security Administration, an agency of the Energy Department, which oversees the Livermore site, announced Monday only that it had "granted approval" for Livermore to begin operating its new biosafety laboratory.

But the announcement did not disclose that the facility had already opened and that its scientists had begun working there the previous Friday - a fact that immediately outraged the lab's opponents.

Robert Schwartz, the staff attorney for Tri-Valley CARES, said he will file suit in federal District Court next week to shut down the facility on the grounds that the final environmental impact statement published by the lab's oversight agency was inadequate and that another supporting document was released without public hearings in violation of the Energy Department's own rules.

In October, the Ninth District Court of Appeals in San Francisco had overruled an earlier federal court decision in support of the operation of the Livermore facility. The appeals court required officials to prepare a new environmental statement, including an assessment of the possibility that a suicide attack by terrorists could breach the facility's walls and allow killer germs to spread beyond the lab.

In response, the security agency filed a document that said such an attack would be "highly unlikely," and that it "found no significant impact" on the public or the environment from operations at the germ research facility.

A spokesman for the Energy Department's nuclear security agency at Livermore told The Chronicle that its office manager approved the final revised environmental documents on Jan. 25, and that scientists began work at the lab the same day.

Asked why the press release on Monday did not disclose that the facility was already operating, the spokesman said "because we needed the time to physically copy the documents and place them in the public reading rooms as well as post them on the Web."

Eric Gard, director of the new facility, said Friday his staff is now growing live cultures of many disease-causing organisms that could be used by terrorists in enemy biological warfare attacks and for which laboratory scientists will seek to develop countermeasures. Understanding the phenomenon of resistance to antibiotics is a high priority, he said.

Among the microbes held in the laboratory are bacteria that cause such highly dangerous and often deadly diseases as bubonic plague, anthrax, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Q fever, tularemia and brucellosis or undulant fever, Gard said.

But scientists in his lab will also be researching other microbes unlikely to be used in terror attacks and that pose such major public health problems as tuberculosis, flu, and SARS, the severe acute respiratory syndrome that proved so deadly among elderly people in China, he said.

The scientists are barred by federal rules from conducting any research using germs for "potentially offensive use or purposes," nor for the production of any bio-warfare weapons, according to the Energy Department.

Continuing its opposition to the Livermore facility by Tri-valley CARES, Marylia Kelley, the organization's executive director, charged in a statement Friday that the lab and its sponsors "are jeopardizing the health and safety of the local community and the surrounding Bay Area." Live anthrax germs grown in the lab and released into the air from the facility, even if it were only "lightly damaged" in a terrorist attack, for example, "could result in up to 9,000 deaths, depending on wind patterns," Kelley maintained.

Despite all the laws, rules, and regulations, and despite the tremendous dangers inherent in such research, the lab opened anyway, ostensibly to find defenses against biological attacks.

They're prohibited for doing any research that could lead to the manufacture of weapons. Do for believe for a second that laws would stop them? This government has ignored every law on the books for the last seven years--every law that would put a check on their agenda, and this will be no different.

Our government has once again put us in peril with aggressive policies disguised as "Homeland Security" issues. Isn't it about time to make them stop?

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Helping Bush with FOIA requests

A letter to President Bush--

Dear Mr. President:
I understand that your Executive branch has been having serious difficulties filling FOIA document requests.

I am sure that this is causing you some distress, as it is commonly known that the free flow of information through the Freedom of Information Act is one of your highest priorities, so am offering an idea on how FOIA requests can be handled in a more expeditious manner.

In a word, Mr. President--consolidate!-- the system you now use is simply too cumbersome , with documents hidden on thousands of different computers, and timely retrieval is almost impossible.

I, for example, find it necessary to maintain only one file, of less than one terabyte, with a few thousand carefully cross-referenced sub-files which allows for instantaneous retrieval of any documents I wish to view, simply by entering a key word. I named the master file "High Crimes and Misdemeanors of the Bush Administration".

To illustrate how this simplified system can be used for FOIA requests, I pulled up at random a six page document ( an opinion piece with 250 million co-signers), converted it easily to a FOIA format, and am sending it along for your perusal. What follows is exactly what someone requesting this document would see, and it only took a minute.

"What We Think of President Bush"

We, the undersigned, being concerned about the future of our democracy, do hereby declare that George W. Bush has committed [redacted] acts, and as irrefutable evidence offer [5 pages redacted]

For his deeds, we recommend [redacted], since [redacted] is too good for the likes of him. [redacted]

In closing, we say unanimously "[redacted], and the horse you rode in on!"

(Names withheld for personal security reasons)

Hope this helps, Mr. President. Let me know if I can be of further service.

Your faithful constituent

Hillary sends a message

It seems like ages ago now since Dennis Kucinich was forced from the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. He was silenced by the media and their corporate controllers for speaking in clear terms about the need for real social reform in this country--programs that would provide real benefit to the citizens--like health care reform. Kucinich, who along with Mike Gravel were/are the only populists in the race, was very clear that the only solution to the health care crisis in this country would be to institute a universal single-payer government-run system that would eliminate the enormous profits of the pharmaceutical companies and health insurers. And because of positions like that, he is no longer around to be heard.

You'll notice, however, that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are still here, vying for the nomination with the blessing of big business, at least in part because they have not espoused any solution to our broken health system that addresses the real cause of the problem. Both candidates have put forth their own versions of a fix, but each promises to be only a sop to the public, as they pointedly insist that the root causes of the problem are left intact. Profit, in the industry that determines who dies because they can't afford to pay what is required to live, shall not be denied.

Clinton has been talking the populist talk all along the campaign trail, trying to convince people that she is the best qualified to find real, meaningful solutions to the problems that confront our country today, and she has met with some success, despite occasionally having to defend her voting record.

Obama has made tremendous inroads into Clinton's lead recently, as most of the supporters of John Edwards, a quasi-populist at least, seem now to be gravitating toward Obama.

You'd think that Clinton, feeling the heat from the suddenly close race, would take particular care to avoid alienating the lower income and working class Democratic base, but this makes you wonder: excerpted from Yahoo News (2/03/08)--

In a day dominated by familiar stump speeches, Hillary Clinton made news by saying she might allow workers' wages to be garnisheed if they refuse to buy health insurance. She has criticized Obama for pushing a health plan that she says would not require universal coverage.

Pressed on how she would enforce her mandate, Clinton said: "I think there are a number of mechanisms" that are possible, including "going after people's wages, automatic enrollment."

She said such measures would apply only to workers who can afford health coverage but refuse to buy it, which puts undue pressure on hospitals and emergency rooms. Under her plan, she said, health care "will be affordable for everyone" because she would limit premium payments "to a low percent of your income."

Obama has said he would require parents to buy health insurance for children, and possibly fine them if they refused. But he would not insist that all adults buy insurance.

I hope you caught that. She said she would consider garnisheeing wages of anyone who didn't buy in to her health insurance plan, if it determined they could afford it. That is exactly the wrong thing to say to millions of lower income wage-earners struggling to make ends meet.

Perfect--if you can't baffle 'em with bullshit, threaten to hit 'em where it hurts the most. That'll make you a lot of friends when you need them the most.

And just wondering, what specific criteria will be used to make the decision on affordability, and who will make the determination? The insurance companies? Will they also be granted authority to initiate the garnishment actions in order to collect their premiums?

Of course none of these questions would even be necessary if Kucinich's program was brought back into play. It should be the main plank of the Democratic platform, but that would require standing up for the people against the establishment, so you can forget it.

Anyway, I think that Clinton's comments really were a message to conservatives that she's a friend of big business and they don't have anything to worry about if she wins the nomination. We'll see if that bites her in the ass.

Another "shocker" from Taser International

Taser International has announced that it will offer a pump-action Taser shotgun that will allow people to be "subdued" from a distance of 65 feet.

This latest addition to their product line gives police and other law enforcement officers the ability to safely electrocute their victims from far enough away that they won't be emotionally stressed by hearing the agonized screams of people writhing helplessly on the ground.

The law enforcement community is sure to hail the introduction of this new weapon to an ever-growing arsenal of "humane" alternatives to guns, which includes the old standby tear gas as well as the new "vomit inducing flashlight".

Additionally, the shotgun Taser may fit neatly into the critical needs of the U.S. Forest Service, which will soon find itself hard-pressed to defend our national parks.

Taser, for their part, seems to be following the standard business model. They created their niche, and are expanding it incrementally by continually introducing "new and improved" versions of their original product. It's the way good business is done in America.

With that in mind, we can expect to see, in succession:
1. Darts filled with depleted uranium, able to pierce the heaviest clothing and the toughest hide.
2. Foot long darts for sure stopping power in case the "electric don't work".
3. Elimination of the wires because they're "too limiting".
4. Exploding darts.
5. Night vision capabilities.
6. Sniper scopes.

Remember how this all started? The Taser was introduced as a non-lethal means by which police officers could subdue mentally impaired, irrational people in situations where they posed a danger to themselves or others and who could not be calmed down by negotiation. It sure seemed like a good idea at the time, didn't it? Except it didn't stay restricted to those situations for which it was intended.

It was only a short time before the Taser was distributed to entire police departments with guidelines, of course, outlining when it could be used, but it quickly became the weapon of choice to be used in any situation where an officer simply would not allow anyone to question his authority. With the "non-lethal" option of forcing compliance in hand, the need for restraint disappeared, as did the need for a reasoned response to a perceived threat.

Couple that with the fear-mongering of the Bush government, which results in everyone being viewed as an enemy, police agencies no longer see the people they encounter as human beings, and no longer have qualms about using excessive force. They have become as paranoid as the rest of the population, and thus have become the very people on which the Taser was originally intended to be used.

And make no mistake, the proliferation of these types of weapons, and the "improved" capabilities of them, means that they are no longer intended for their original stated use. It is clear beyond doubt that they are to be used for "crowd control", to quell any peaceful demonstration or protest, by any group with a grievance, for any reason our government chooses.

Your right to assemble, your right to air grievances, and your right to free speech are being ground to dust under the boots of the thugs now in control of our country.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The money train rolls on

Exxon made $40.6 billion in 2007, on sales of $404 billion.
Chevron earned $18.7 billion
Shell made $31 billion

Excerpts from NYT article (2/01/08)

"By any measure, Exxon Mobil’s performance last year was a blowout.The company reported Friday that it beat its own record for the highest profits ever recorded by any company, with net income rising 3 percent to $40.6 billion, thanks to surging oil prices. The company’s sales, more than $404 billion, exceeded the gross domestic product of 120 countries.Exxon Mobil earned more than $1,287 of profit for every second of 2007."...."Like most oil companies, Exxon benefited from a near doubling of oil prices, as well as higher demand for gasoline last year. Crude oil prices rose from a low of around $50 a barrel in early 2007 to almost $100 by the end of the year — the biggest jump in oil prices in any one year."..."Oil companies have all reported strong profits in recent days. Chevron, the second-largest American oil company, said Friday that its profits rose 9 percent to $18.7 billion last year; Royal Dutch Shell on Thursday reported net income for 2007 of $31 billion, up 23 percent and the largest figure ever for a British company."..."Given the darkening prospects for the American economy, which may be headed toward a recession, some analysts said oil company profits might soon reach a peak. Oil prices could fall this year if an economic slowdown reduces energy consumption in the United States, the world’s biggest oil consumer."..."Exxon also spent a total of $35.6 billion for share buybacks and dividends last year, $3 billion more than in 2006.Separately, the OPEC cartel, which was meeting in Vienna on Friday, decided to leave its production levels unchanged, resisting pressure from developing nations to pump more oil into the global economy.The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is set to meet again next month, and the cartel signaled it would be ready to cut production then to make up for a seasonal slowdown in demand in the second quarter. OPEC’s actions mean the cartel is determined to keep prices from falling below $80 a barrel, according to energy experts."...

And why should we applaud Exxon for the huge profits they have earned? Because without them, they would not be in a position to fund many important programs, such as this:

Global Warming Denier Group Funded By Big Oil Hosting Climate Change Denial Conference

From March 2-4, right-wing climate-denier group The Heartland Institute will host what it calls a ‘Climate Skeptics’ Conference. Heartland President Joseph Blast boasted that his conference would feature climate change deniers: “This is their chance to speak out.” The online poster for the conference declares, “Global Warming is not a crisis!”

Heartland’s environmental stance is completely out of the mainstream. The debate over human contribution to global warming is long over. Even as all three top GOP presidential candidates recently endorsed California’s effort to reduce auto greenhouse gas emissions, Heartland ridiculed the idea, calling California and its allies “environmental extremists.”

Heartland’s extreme anti-environmentalism no doubt spawns from its supporters. Between 1998 and 2005, oil giant ExxonMobil gave nearly $800,000 to Heartland. The group’s Board of Directors also explains the group’s climate change denials:

Thomas Walton is the Director of Economic Policy at General Motors.

James L. Johnston is a former senior economist for oil company Amoco Corporation.

Walter F. Buchholtz is a former member of Heartland’s board of directors and worked as ExxonMobil’s Senior Issues Advisor.

James M. Taylor is editor of Heartland’s weekly Environment & Climate News and wrote an op-ed criticizing Gore’s “Assault On Reason” insisting that “global warming threats they should not be deliberately exaggerated as a means of building support for a desired political position.”

RealClimate quips, “Normal scientific conferences have the goal of discussing ideas and data in order to advance scientific understanding. Not this one.”

OPEC, for it's part, is determined not to let the price of crude oil fall below $80/bbl. This of, course will protect the enormous profits of the OPEC members as well as Exxon, Shell and the rest.

President Bush won't mind, he likes the idea of excessive profits and, despite the show of concern he put on recently when he begged the Saudis to cut the price of oil, knows full well why it won't happen.

And so the money train rolls on, despite the consequences for the rest of us, and won't stop until every last dollar of profit is squeezed out of the world economies by the energy producers. And this will be so regardless of who becomes our next President, because even if he or she wanted to switch the money train to a siding, it won't be permitted by the real rulers of this country.

UPDATE (2/04/08) : Look what showed up today at Huffington Post.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Avert your eyes and keep walking

This is absolutely chilling.

From AP News via Raw Story (2/01/08)

NYC subways adding dogs, armed officers

Teams of Armed Officers, Bomb-Sniffing Dogs Being Added to New York City Subways

Teams of police officers armed with submachine guns and bomb-sniffing dogs will soon be patrolling the busiest parts of New York City subways as part of a major increase in regional security funding.

The subway initiative is one use of the $151.2 million in new grant money from the Department of Homeland Security to transit systems in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. Last year, they received $98 million.

Explaining the increase, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said law enforcement officials in the three states "have to deal with vulnerabilities and threats in this region that are really second to none."

New York's subways have long been considered a potential terror target; police already randomly check riders' bags, and the tunnels and ventilation systems are searched for explosives. Hidden cameras register any suspicious action.

Officials said the daily patrols will begin within three weeks. The teams of six police and a dog will circulate on platforms and trains, focusing on busy stations such as Grand Central Terminal, Penn Station and Herald Square.

"You'll see officers with automatic weapons, you will see additional bomb-sniffing dogs funded by this program," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said after the news conference with Chertoff and Gov. Eliot Spitzer where the security grants were announced.

Similar police units have patrolled above ground at landmarks such as Wall Street and the Empire State Building as part of the New York Police Department's security efforts since the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Chertoff said the new security grants would be divided to address the most significant vulnerabilities, as identified by federal and regional law-enforcement and anti-terrorism authorities.

Their collaboration to pinpoint security risks and take action is "a model for the entire country," Chertoff said.

Officials didn't specify how much of the new grant money would fund the subway initiative.

How many people will be attacked and killed now because they didn't "look right" or didn't hear the order to "stop" or didn't have their identification papers when ordered to produce them? How many citizens will now go about their day in mortal fear that they will come to the attention of a police officer toting a submachine gun, or be standing in the line of fire of some deaf guy who keeps on walking, unaware he is about to be shot to protect the HOMELAND?

This is what Homeland Security is all about--spreading fear and terrorizing the population into cowed silence.

Our government has become exactly what we have been taught to fear most--terrorists who prey on the innocent.