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29 February 2008

Mukasey Refuses To Refer Contempt Citations

by: Foiled Goil

UPDATE to Contempt of Miers and Bolten

Mukasey Refuses Probe of Bush Aides

Associated Press:
Attorney General Michael Mukasey refused Friday to refer the House's contempt citations against two of President Bush's top aides to a federal grand jury. Mukasey said White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former presidential counsel Harriet Miers committed no crime.

As promised, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she has given the Judiciary Committee authority to file a lawsuit against Bolten and Miers in federal court.

"The House shall do so promptly," she said in a statement.

Mukasey said Bolten and Miers were right in ignoring subpoenas to provide Congress with White House documents or testify about the firings of federal prosecutors.

"The department will not bring the congressional contempt citations before a grand jury or take any other action to prosecute Mr. Bolten or Ms. Miers," Mukasey wrote Pelosi.

Pelosi shot back that the aides can expect a lawsuit.

"The American people demand that we uphold the law," Pelosi said. "As public officials, we take an oath to uphold the Constitution and protect our system of checks and balances and our civil lawsuit seeks to do just that."
In his letter, received by the House early Friday evening, Mukasey pointed out that not only was Miers directed not to testify, she also was immune from congressional subpoenas and was right to not show up to the hearing to which she had been summoned.

"The contempt of Congress statute was not intended to apply and could not constitutionally be applied to an executive branch official who asserts the president's claim of executive privilege," Mukasey wrote, quoting Justice policy.

"Accordingly," Mukasey concluded, "the department has determined that the noncompliance by Mr. Bolten and Ms. Miers with the Judiciary Committee subpoenas did not constitute a crime."

Though they were not surprised, Democrats reacted to Mukasey's letter with outrage.
Pelosi Response to Administration Decision Not to Enforce Contempt Citations of Miers and Bolten
By ordering the U.S. Attorney to take no action in response to congressional subpoenas, the Bush Administration is continuing to politicize law enforcement, which undermines public confidence in our criminal justice system.

Anticipating this response from the Administration, the House has already provided authority for the Judiciary Committee to file a civil enforcement action in federal district court and the House shall do so promptly. The American people demand that we uphold the law. As public officials, we take an oath to uphold the Constitution and protect our system of checks and balances and our civil lawsuit seeks to do just that.
Chairman Conyers on DOJ Refusal to Present Contempt Citations
Our investigation into the firing of United States Attorneys revealed an Administration and a Justice Department that seemed to put politics first, and todays decision to shelve the contempt process, in violation of a federal statute, shows that the White House will go to any lengths to keep its role in the US Attorney firings hidden. In the face of such extraordinary actions, we have no choice but to proceed with a lawsuit to enforce the Committees subpoenas.



· · · ·

It's all I can stands, and I can't stands much more.

by: blackdog

What a fine example of an idiot

Sorry to disturb your day, but this is a decent bit of a snip from a Kieth Olberman show on MSNBC about the shrub's last press conference, courtesy of Crooks & Liars.

That was a pain in the ass, I had to actually use dexterity and write down the URL, must be a better way, but I haven't figured it out yet, I am still officially stoopid, but not yet evil, and not as stupid as the aforementioned freak, no not Olberman, the stinkin' shrub. I would hate being a puppet like it obviously is.

Foiled Goil has the link in the first comment, I tried but it wouldn't stick for me. So I tried the old fashioned way.

Contempt Of Miers And Bolten

by: Foiled Goil

From the Gavel:

Pelosi Letter to Attorney General Mukasey
on Contempt Citations of Miers and Bolten


February 28th, 2008, 4:08 pm
Today, Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent the following letter to U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, informing him of the referral letter sent to U.S. Attorney of the District of Columbia Jeffrey Taylor on contempt citations of former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten. Taylor is required by law to bring the matter before a grand jury. However, Mukasey has indicated that the Justice Department intends to prevent Taylor from complying with the law.

There is no authority by which persons may wholly ignore a subpoena and fail to appear as directed because a President unilaterally instructs them to do so. Even if a subpoenaed witness intends to assert a privilege in response to questions, the witness is not at liberty to disregard the subpoena and fail to appear at the required time and place. Surely, your Department would not tolerate that type of action if the witness were subpoenaed to a federal grand jury, she wrote.

I strongly urge you to reconsider your position and to ensure that our nation is operating under the rule of law and not at presidential whim, she added.

Two weeks ago, the House passed H.R. 979, which holds Miers and Bolten in contempt of their subpoenas.

Chairman Conyers on Contempt Referral Letter
Urges U.S. Attorney to Present Contempt Citations to a Grand Jury

February 28th, 2008, 4:36 PM
Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) released the following statement in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) referring the Committees contempt citations against former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Jeffrey Taylor:

Now that the Speaker has referred the contempt citations against Harriet Miers and Joshua Bolten to U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor, I hope the Justice Department will put the partisan manipulation of our system of justice behind it, and follow its obligation to allow this matter to be addressed by a grand jury. To do otherwise would turn on its head the notion that we are all equally accountable under the law.



· · ·
28 February 2008

The New York Philharmonic in North Korea

by: Jersey Cynic

From our reader Tom in the comment section under Liz's The New Religious landscape post below:

"I had an unaffiliated religious experience of sorts last night. I just happened to catch the live broadcast from Pyongyang of the New York Philharmonic
I just had to watch it all. It was really profound as the significance of each piece sank in.
It hardly got any media attention at all, and of course, the usual suspects were outraged, as if they have any comprehension of fine art at all. Anything that can bring both sides to tears must be sinister and subversive."

Watch their performance of Arirang:



You can watch the concert in full this evening (2/28/0 cool on PBS - Great Performances (check local listings). Here on the East Coast it is scheduled to be on from 9:30 - 11:30 pm.

Or, you can watch it in full here at PBS.org

The New York Philharmonic's historic concert in North Korea's capital city Pyongyang premieres via satellite, with Music Director Lorin Maazel leading the orchestra in Wagner's Prelude to Act III of "Lohengrin," Dvork's "Symphony No. 9" ("From the New World"), and Gershwin's "An American in Paris." Opening with the national anthems of North Korea and the United States, the program will be transmitted from the East Pyongyang Grand Theatre, with behind-the-scenes coverage by Bob Woodruff of ABC News. The network has had rare access inside the closed society of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, where contact with the outside world is completely forbidden to citizens. The Philharmonic visit marks the first by American artists there. "I have always felt that music is a powerful language," says Maestro Maazel, "in which those of us who are humane and intelligent can speak to each other, in defiance of political and cultural boundaries." The concert is the centerpiece of a 48-hour visit to Pyongyang by the Philharmonic.

This is one of the GREATEST Great Performances I have ever seen on PBS and the "behind-the-scenes-coverage" is an understatement. I never really knew or understood the history of the DPRK and Kim Jong II.

I am speechless

crossposted at Blondesense

Air Force To Troops: No Blogs For You

by: Foiled Goil

Air Force Blocks Access to Many Blogs

From the article by Noah Shachtman:

The Air Force is tightening restrictions on which blogs its troops can read, cutting off access to just about any independent site with the word "blog" in its web address. It's the latest move in a larger struggle within the military over the value -- and hazards -- of the sites. At least one senior Air Force official calls the squeeze so "utterly stupid, it makes me want to scream."

Until recently, each major command of the Air Force had some control over what sites their troops could visit, the Air Force Times reports. Then the Air Force Network Operations Center, under the service's new Cyber Command," took over.
AFNOC has imposed bans on all sites with "blog" in their URLs, thus cutting off any sites hosted by Blogspot. Other blogs, and sites in general, are blocked based on content reviews performed at the base, command and AFNOC level ...

The idea isn't to keep airmen in the dark -- they can still access news sources that are "primary, official-use sources," said Maj. Henry Schott, A5 for Air Force Network Operations. "Basically ... if it's a place like The New York Times, an established, reputable media outlet, then it's fairly cut and dry that that's a good source, an authorized source," he said ...

AFNOC blocks sites by using Blue Coat software, which categorizes sites based on their content and allows users to block sub-categories as they choose.

"Often, we block first and then review exceptions," said Tech. Sgt. Christopher DeWitt, a Cyber Command spokesman.

As a result, airmen posting online have cited instances of seemingly innocuous sites -- such as educational databases and some work-related sites -- getting wrapped up in broad proxy filters.
***

One of the blogs banned is In From the Cold, which examines military, intelligence and political affairs from a largely right-of-center perspective. It's written by "Nathan Hale," the pseudonym for a former journalist and Air Force intelligence officer, who spent more than two decades in the service. He tells Danger Room, "If knowledge and information are power -- and no one disputes that -- then why not trust your people and empower them to explore all sides of issues affecting the service, air power and national security?"
Obviously, DoD [Department of Defense] can decide what internet content should be filtered -- they spent billions on the IT architecture and billions more to maintain it. But if it's a matter of "ensuring worker productivity" and deterring "wasteful surfing of the internet," does it really make sense to block relatively small blogs (that just happen to focus on military and security issues), while allowing everyone to access ESPN or FoxSports? Wonder how much work time will be lost on filling out "March Madness" brackets, versus reading a military or intelligence blog?

In short, there doesn't seem to be any consistency in the current DoD policy. And that's no surprise. A few months ago, a senior Pentagon P.A. [public affairs] official told me that his service had no plans to engage the blogosphere, because their studies showed that "people don't rely on blogs for news and information." And he said it with a straight face.



· · ·

Are You Ouite Certain You Have the Uppper Hand?

by: Missouri Mule

As with all good mothers, discipline was important to me. I am against hitting children. My father always said this really annoying but true thing to my mother, and it always pissed her off because it was so true: "If you can't control yourself, you can't control a child."

I think it takes craft and wiles to raise children effectively without creating mutant race of sheep-like-kids who will meekly comply with any command from any adult. Spare me those mealymouthed little "yes ma'am, no sir' robots. We know that they've been literally beaten into submission. I think we also know that they are inwardly seething, and there will be hell to pay one fine day. Look no further than the videos that have recently been floating around the Internet showing them in their current occupation: Police officers.

What I always did with my cubs on the extremely rare occasions when they were acting buttheaded in public: I'd squat down right beside him/her and get right in his/her little ear and say, real low and contained, often through clenched teeth (I've found that just about anything you say through clenched teeth takes on an added tone of pith and import), "You are acting awful, and it's embarrassing me, and if you don't stop on a dime, then in about two seconds I am going to do something that will embarrass you so much, I doubt seriously you'll ever completely recover." Presto! They would immediately revert to the perfect child. I never had to do anything and actually never had any idea of what exactly I would do, if they called my bluff. As luck would have it, it never happened. I figure that, having grown up watching me doing any number of things they considered humiliating when I was in a good mood, they were so terrified when I was in an angry one that the prospect was unthinkable to them.

One only has to witness what can happen when discipline goes awry by watching the brutal behavior of police today.

STFU Edition

by: Debra

First up, Bill O'Reilly. Comparing Arianna Huffington to Nazis and the KKK is beyond the pale. My mom grew up in Germany under the Hitler regime and she finds that the right wing's behavior is more like her childhood memories than a group that has America's best interests at heart. Captain Falafel has quite a bit of chutzpah to run around accusing people on the left as hate mongers.

After the bottom fell out here in Silicon Valley, the number of BMWs and Mercedes dropped tremendously and the number of Hondas and Nissans increased. Maybe people start spending their money more wisely when they have less of it to waste.

Today's leap of the Grand Canyon, spanking kids leads to sexual deviancy. Because anything besides the missionary position is considered...odd.

Bush speaks and reveals his stupidity. But I repeat myself.

And we end with the conservative (as in keeping the rich, richer) members of the Supreme Court. Exxon can more than afford to pay its fine, and more importantly, should. Nineteen years after causing an environmental catastrophe of disturbing proportions, Exxon is relying on having stalled long enough that they won't be held accountable. Sort of like the plot of the new John Grisham novel. I think he knows something.

Debsweb


· ·
27 February 2008

What a world, what a world

by: blackdog

Just heard Ben Bernanke, the head of the Federal Reserve say that because of the housing bubble burst, there may be fewer jobs for the ones that actually build houses. What an incredible connection, a real deep thinker, or is that a stinking thinker.

That reassured me, I for one am glad to know that our fearless and sometimes clueless leaders in places where the economy of ruin may never affect them are so straight to the point and clear on their assessments. Such incredible minds, even more incredible bank accounts, but I bet not in American banks.

Now where was I? Oh yeah. My friend Julia, who is such a bright light in this time of darkness, she may be akin to "the light of Galadriel" to be held against the darkness when it closed around you and all seemed hopeless, she still shines even though her drug load has increased because of her increased pain. I sent her replies and copies of all that some of you have sent me over the last several days and it has made a difference, she is interested and anything that gives her some reason to poke around is good. You would have to know her, she really is a bright star that is now fading, and she knows it and is prepared for it, and I wish you could, for some here I have provided a way to get to know her better, and a way for her to contact you. I know that she would be glad to hear from any of you, so here is her address:

Rick or Julia Harrison
E-mail Address(es):
rjch[a@t]sbcglobal[d.o.t]net

With apologizes to the Minstrel and some others I take the authority to post this compilation of mails between each other over the last several days, although I may be redundant. So what. There are some really powerful human beings at this site, I am proud to be a tiny part of it.

As I find it difficult to shut up on this subject may I add that Kate Blanchette did such a great job of playing Galadriel in the "Lord of the Rings", one of the best stories ever written, in my mind. She displayed a mystery, power and magnificence that was nothing short of impressive, but it was a role in a fiction. My dear friend Julia has lived this in a similar manner, but she has no ring. She is not an elvish lady, just a human being, with no special capacities beyond herself at all. But she does have a special light, a vial with the properties of a "light of Julia" which I will hold for years against the forces of darkness.

I take the real blackdog to bed, I evidently need rest.

This is a compilation of communications between myself, an old friend named Julia (her father was at one time AG for Arkieville) and the Minstrel Boy, a most incredible musician/historian/chef who is half Apache, half Irish, three terms doesn't classify this fellow, he is really multifaceted. Julia is now dying of multiple cancers that she has fought for several years. She is a fraternal twin who Leslie (my fraternal twin sister) and I met in the first grade sometime about 1960.

I really love this lady.

Brad,

Allison sent me your email. Glad to hear you are doing better, surgery sucks. we will have to get together and compare scars. I make up stories about how I got the scars, like knife fights and such. Yes the new chemo stuff is going OK and they tell me that I should be sick by now if I was going to be sick so far so good. I plan to go to New York at the end of March with a girl friend to visit friends up there. We have to plan for baseball this spring and I'll check the schedule for opening day. Marsha is here for our birthday so we are going to watch the football game today and have JAM fest. (Julia and Marsha birthday festival) she will be going back to Boston on Monday. I will have to plan a party so you can come and see my Paris pictures, but with Allison and Tom's work schedule its hard to work out, man I hate adult life. My son, Clay was home for a week it was wonderful, I had him stabled to my side the whole time and he so totally understood his mommy. I am really proud of him, he is now Petty Officer 3rd Class but I'm not sure I like that, one, my son is not PETTY and 3rd class, I don't think so!!!

Need to run now, Marsha will be here is a few minutes and my little sister, Virginia is also on her way. I'll write or call you soon. Take care.

Love
Julia

Upbeat? You bet.


What's UPPPPPPP

Ok write me back so I know you got this. Things are good here, Marsha come down from Boston for our birthday and it was fun, had a good time. How are you. Call your voice mail and empty your mail box. The snooty lady told me it was full and to please hang up. Playing Debbie Domestic today getting ready to go to walmart for food shopping. Need to get the munchie items for the super bowl, Go New York. Write me soon take care

love
Julia


She is a sports hound of the most intense variety, she is petite but can easily out hustle almost any man on a baseball park. Hell, she played for a little league team for almost half the season before they found out she was a girl! And she is just damn fun to share time with, a real friend.



Brad Darling,

no don't bother calling just email since you are always on line away and I love getting real emails and not junk email so this is cool. Things are going good right now we have decided to continue with remodeling the den and bathroom. We are now home owners paid off the house the other day so I feel so safe right now and comfortable about leaving Rick. I have told Allison and the family but I am now running on empty. There is no more chemo out there for me. Now they have put me on some old stuff that I have already tried but it made me sick and I don't want that but there is something that was used for breast cancer that seems to be good for colon cancer so we are giving that a try but out side of that so far so good. I have just told myself and the doctors that just don't have time to be sick, I don't want to be sick and I can't be bothered with being sick so I'm just not going to be sick. I am not spending my last months sick in bed what a waste of time. But I have been on the pills for going on 4 weeks now and have taken my second hit of IV chemo yesterday and feel fine so not bad. But I just want to be able for my friends and family to know that my time may or may not be up its a day to day thing. I have already sat down with Clay, our son, and explained everything and he will be working on a change of duty station when I need him, I would like him here more with Dad than me. I have my funeral arranged, cremated, and buried at Holy Souls and figured out that where I will be place is in the back yard of the church just like Elvis and Fido lol. I want to find out if I am cremated with my clothes on?? If someone has to undress me I want one more shock factor, I'm getting a tattoo that says "Rick's Cafe American" if there is enough room down there if not I'll just have "Rick's Place" just one more thing to freak people out. There will be a reception after the Catholic Mass and stuff, at the reception drinking, eating and dancing but none of it can start until Allison is in the room because the first song to play is Emerson Lake and Palmer "Welcome back my friends to a show that never ends" so appropriate for us. Wanted to have bobble head dolls of me instead of pictures but that looks like it will way to expensive a little disappointed on that. The strangest thing for me and you will understand better than anyone that this will be the very first thing I have ever done by myself, I wasn't even born by myself, isn't that a kicker. Now enough of me. How are you? What kind of surgery did you have? How are you doing" How does baseball season look for you? Went to Wal-Mart and pickup up all the junk food for Super Bowl that I only get once a year because it is junk and we just don't eat like that but once a year isn't bad. Hard to do it without Clay, I miss him so much. He was home for the New Year and I got to spend a whole week with him all to myself. He is so big, so handsome, so mature; can you tell I'm a little proud of him. He is now a Petty Officer Third Class and the first step in the chain of command. I'm not sure if I like his title, one, my son is not third class nor is he "petty" that has got to change. We went to Mass and of course he wore his uniform, all with his new rank, ribbons and what not and he does it for me and he looked so fantastic and everyone at church looked and ooooh and awwwwed and happy to see him again.. Marsha came down from Boston for our birthday weekend and we called it "JAM Fest" for Julia and Marsha's birthday. There is a new French restaurant in Little Rock the well members of the family gathered for dinner it was fun. Rick and I now get senior citizens discount at IHOP aren't we cool, and shopping a Kroger's on Tuesdays. Well, look at me, have turned the conversation back to all about ME. Write me more and get a word in about you. Planning a trip to New York in April to visit my friends up there. I think I have written enough for now. I'll talk to you soon. Where is this blog page that you go to that Allison has told me about I'll go meet you there. You take care and I 'll pray for a job for you soon.Take care.

Love
Julia



Man, I'm fortunate to have friends like this.
Now from the Minstrel, who I asked for a name for her in Apache.



i will see if anything comes. ask her if she has had any dreams, especially ones with animals or birds.



After about an hour or so I get this, it is special.


i've been thinking and this came to me. it feels good

biyaal gohoosh shiil na'ash

(bee yahl go hoosh sheeel nah awsh)

means blessed friend


Thank you Minstrel, I forwarded this, in fact all of this to Julia immediately.
Then the Minstrel, still thinking about the situation, comes up with this.



i'm giving this to you in english. i'll be saying the apache words under the moon tonight.

i will have four candles (instead of a fire) and when the moon is right above me (about 11:30 pacific)

i will say:

yo'sen (god of the mountains)
i know that you are holy

with this holiness
take my friend and make her body like yours
strong
enduring

she wants to go up into your mountains
that is why i am praying
welcome her
sing with her
dance the victory dance

before she lived human
she was a spirit like you
now she wants to be free again
this is why i sing to you

about eight years ago my sponsor in AA was diagnosed with terminal cancer. he asked me to take him to the rez to meet with silas. silas told him "i cannot cure you. i can heal you so that your death is a thing of beauty."

he sang this song.

This is all for my most dear friend Julia, who is dying and for whom I would gladly trade my life if I could.


Just told her that last night under a waning moon I did something of the same sort, in my own way.


Hope nobody takes offense, I thought this was all pretty damn special.

Questioning Authority

by: Debra

Will not be an option for our youngest generation. As in there will be conformity, or else. Suspension from kindergarten for a Mohawk is just another way of trying to turn kids into obedient little robots. Forty years later and we are still fighting the battle of kids haircuts in school, but it used to be because it was too long. I, of course, am going to come down on the side of the kid and the Mohawk (there's a kid in the neighborhood and we compare our short haircuts, he usually wins for originality, me for convenience), unlike the commenters. At six years old he knows what he wants his hair to look like and it doesn't necessarily reflect his mother's or school's idea of grooming, but it was clean, not purple and he definitely doesn't have lice. There were lots of things that bothered me in school, a student's hair definitely wasn't one of them but stupidity ranks pretty close to first place.

One curious parent decided to find out why her four year old kid was being accused of acting out so she hid a digital recorder in the kid's backpack and what an ear opener that was. What it revealed was a teacher who yelled inappropriate things at the kids and this was after having already served a one day suspension for slapping a child the previous year, yet she still has a job working with impressionable young kids. But then the commenters once again revealed the hate (must be the kid's fault because they are probably the offspring of illegal immigrants), bigotry (her mom is overweight) and general stupidity (doesn't sound like some of them completed grade school on their own) of some of the people who hang out at ABC News.com.

Searching kids for a missing five dollars in an envelope. They didn't find it on the kids but at least the principal had a little common sense. One of those teachers will probably discover that they used it as a bookmark and just forgot where they put it, but it's always easier to blame someone else.

Debsweb




·
26 February 2008

In What World Is This Right?

by: Debra

JollyRoger tagged me with an E award, so I thought I'd start this morning's posting with a rant about how the Marines still don't have Mine Resistant Armored Vehicles after five (5) freaking YEARS of war in Iraq, where most of the soldiers lost have been from IEDs. To say nothing of using up resources needed for the fight in Afghanistan where they have to scrounge around for everything in order to conduct the search for Osama been forgotten, the supposed perpetrator of 9/11. Too bad Bush forgot about avenging the deaths of people who were just going to work in his rush to get revenge for some perceived slight to his father. The power of the Presidency is supposed to be used to benefit the American people, not settle childhood issues. If the bozos who pass for Generals and Commanders (as in chief) nowadays were in charge during WWII, we would be speaking German on one coast and Japanese on the other.

Without the technology of today, in the 1940s they were able to effectively build ships, artillery, airplanes and anything else that was needed to fight two successful campaigns on opposite sides of the world and get the job done in less time than we have spent in Iraq. And that's not counting the previous two years of practice warfare in Afghanistan that we've botched so badly that some Afghanis believe that we are allied with the Taliban.

Eventually the haze of bemused anger clears and then I remember, oh yeah, we used to make things back then. Things that could be touched and used, not bought and sold as "futures". There were working steel mills and oil companies that had the country's best interests at heart, instead of their bottom line and how much they should give their shareholders.

Since then, we've come a long way baby. Unfortunately, most of it has been downhill with nothing to show for it except obscene profits by companies who would rather locate their businesses offshore to avoid paying taxes to their country or wages and benefits to their workers.

Meanwhile, our soldiers are dying because they can't get good, dependable equipment. Makes you proud to be an American, doesn't it?

Debsweb


·

George Orwell Bush

by: Foiled Goil

Big Brother is watching you.

~ George Orwell

More Lies From The Bush Fascists

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts:
Bush says the Democrats have put our country more in danger of an attack by letting the Protect America Act lapse. This claim is nonsense. The 30 year old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act gives the executive branch all the power it needs to spy on terrorists.

The choice between FISA and the Protect America Act has nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism, at least not from foreign terrorists. Bush and his brownshirts object to FISA, because the law requires Bush to obtain warrants from a FISA court. Warrants mean that Bush is accountable. Bush and his brownshirts argue that accountability is an infringement on the power of the president.

To escape accountability, the Brownshirt Party came up with the Protect America Act. This act eliminates Bush's accountability to judges and gives the telecom companies immunity from the felonies they committed by acquiescing in Bushs illegal spying.

Bush began violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in October 2001 (MSNBC) when he spied on Americans without obtaining warrants from the FISA court.

Bush pressured telecom companies to break the law in order to enable his illegal spying. In court documents, Joseph P. Nacchio, former CEO of Qwest Communications International, states that his firm was approached more than six months before the September 11, 2001, attacks and asked to participate in a spying operation that Qwest believed to be illegal. When Qwest refused, the Bush administration withdrew opportunities for contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Nacchio himself was subsequently indicted for insider trading, sending the message to all telecom companies to cooperate with the Bush regime or else. (Crooks and Liars)

Bush has not been held accountable for the felonies he committed and for leading telecom companies into a life of crime.

Perhaps the Democrats have finally caught on that they cannot function as a political party as long as they continue to permit Bush to spy on them. For one reason or another, they have let the Orwellian-named Protect America Act expire.

With the Protect America Act, Bush and his brownshirts are trying to establish the independence of the executive branch from statutory law and the Constitution. The FISA law means that the president is accountable to federal judges for warrants. Bush and the brownshirt Republicans are striving to make the president independent of all accountability. The brownshirts insist that the leader knows best and can tolerate no interference from the law, the judiciary, the Congress, or the Constitution, and certainly not from the American people who, the brownshirts tell us, wont be safe unless Bush is very powerful.

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison saw it differently. The American people cannot be safe unless the president is accountable and under many restraints.

Republicans have used the war on terror to create an unaccountable executive. To prevent the presidency from becoming a dictatorial office, it is crucial that Congress cease acquiescing in Bushs grab for powers. As the Founding Fathers warned us, the terrorists we have to fear are the ones in power in Washington.



· · · ·
25 February 2008

Truffle News

by: Minstrel Boy

I am planning to make a representative assortment of the truffles. It will be a dozen that will be used by my cousin Tsa-Ka'alim when he talks with the buyers at the Indian Casinos. He'll be speaking with Executive Chefs, Banquet Chefs, and Special Events Coordinators. He agrees with me that the best way for him to make a sale is to have them try the product. He's done it twice and in both instances the people who tried them for the first time said "There's really no way your description did justice to these." He laughs and said that my having the same marketing strategy as a drug dealer is perfect. He always gets a laugh when he says "The first one's free" as he hands them their first truffle.

So here's my decision. I figure to have six dark flavors and three white. Then double up on the very best truffles inside the assortment of a dozen.

The tentative flavors I intend to have are:

Classic Bittersweet
Crystallized Ginger
Raspberry
Frangelico
Starbuck's Coffee Liqueur
Calvados.

Those show the range of the truffles when using liqueurs and fresh ingredients.

For the whites I will use:

White Chocolate (which is really a vanilla)
White Raspberry
White Crystallized Ginger.

That's the tentative lineup, but then I figured I'd toss the subject out to you. What are your favorites? Let me know. I'm trying to assemble an All-Star Team here.

harp and sword

My Own Anniversary

by: blackdog

Yep, it's been two years since I had a letter to the editor printed in the largest rag in this state, once the "land of opportunity" but now "the natural state". Yep, we are numero uno in rice production and maybe still in chichenshit, if measured on a ton/acre basis, we are so damned natural that sometimes I find that I am attempting to stick my head up my ass, which of coarse is a "natural" process, one that some rely on in the face of the right wing. If it wasn't for Mississippi, well, I just don't know what to think.

Interesting thought, sticking my head up my ass, wasn't too long ago attempting that would lead to a dead end, but thankfully now I am fully functioning, at least on that level.

And also most thankfully I completely lack the flexibility to perform such an act, actually never had that sort of flexibility at all. But the inquiring minds want to know, by such an action could you cause an implosion, the decay of protons and the big crunch? Loop upon loop upon loop, the snake swallowing it's tail. There must be a reference to this in the book of rightwing values.

Sensitive bastards, those severe rightwing nimnuts that seem to be behind every single tree, sneaking and watching and plotting against their neighbors and acquaintances (since they have no true friends) all the while screaching something about morality and how they know better than anyone else because they have the true word. Whatever that may be. Anyhow several of them in a position to screw me to the wall evidently took major offense to the letter, although I've read much more insane shit from the right than I ever have seen from the left, even back when the left was still in the throes of the LSD revolution, of which I was a small but proud part.

The right, which obviously is not, has always seemed to be too full of crap for me, the only way they maintain their position is through their bluster, they are not the only ones with money or power and I feel that their time may be coming to a close, and believe me, it's about damn time.

I think they are all just delusional.

Ever notice how these creeps are all almost completely white, hopelessly stuck with a religious attitude that embraces such strange ideas as a literal interpretation of a book that has been more politicized over a couple of thousand years than any other, they consistently deny objective reality and never shut up about their faith. In just what I am still not sure.

Anyway, here it is, a repost of a letter that seems to have upset so many overly sensitive types, if I had the power, I would force all of them to stare at Janet Jackson's left breast until the end of time.

Now is time of decision
Now is the time to determine the future of this nation. Are we to abandon the Constitution and allow the executive branch effective power that essentially trumps the Congress, or are we to find through real investigation whether this pitiful excuse for an administration has broken numerous laws and should be impeached ?
I want the latter and demand action from my elected officials.
To oppose the Constitution of the United States for reasons cited by these goons is simply too much. This excuse for an administration has crossed the line and needs to be held in check. Impeachment is the best start, and then to achieve closure, the entire group should be held over to the international court for war crimes. What we are seeing is the dissolution of the U. S. A. s constitutional form of government, and the public seems deaf. I for one will not stand still for it. As an American, I expect much better even from the elected officials whom I do not agree with. I expect them to obey the law.


I believed it then and still do.

Baby is two.

Be sure to cruise over to blondesense to celebrate their anniversary, they are now 4.

Cop Caught on Video: Rough Justice for Young Skateboarder

by: Dark Wraith

From the blog called Fitness for the Occasion comes yet another YouTube video of a law enforcement officer out of control. This one, from Baltimore, is pretty good: assault, battery, criminal menacing, conveying a felonious threat, and several other criminal charges were possibly committed on a 14-year-old boy by the policeman, Salvatore Rivieri, who has been on the police force for 17 years. Apparently, the mother of the juvenile, Eric Bush, in the video tried to file a complaint, but the police department refused to allow her to do so. The very end of the video is mildly humorous, since the raging Rivieris biggest concern about how he was behaving turned out to be exactly what happened.



The incident occurred last Summer, but it is only now that the YouTube video is spreading across the Internet that Rivieri has been suspended with pay while an internal investigation is conducted. Rivieri's attorney, declaring that viewers of the video "...don't see what happened before the officer took the boy down to the ground," summarized the plight of law enforcement personnel by declaring: "Police officers have a hard job..."

Indeed, they do; and 14-year-old skateboarders are a significant part of why life on the beat is as hard as it is.


The Dark Wraith, for his own part, is grateful that Baltimore police—indeed, that police everywhere—are ready, willing, and able to face down the scourge of scrawny skateboarders.


· · · ·
24 February 2008

"They Were Screaming."

by: Dark Wraith

Be entertained by this crazy-quilt of flawed logic; be aware of the tenuous thread of real warning; and finally, be sure to dismiss it all as madness.



If you find this video rattling, whether you like it or not, you have what it takes to be a genuine conspiracy theorist.


In that melancholy event, the Dark Wraith welcomes you.


· · · ·

STOP BLAMING RALPH - by Allison Kilkenny

by: Jersey Cynic

THANK YOU ALLISON KILKENNY

Her post in full:

The Democrats like to cast blame for why they continually lose elections. Karl Rove's dream of a permanent Republican majority, while eventually thwarted because of Bush fatigue, was only possible because the Democrats failed to form a compelling ideology for a globalized economy.

Definition through negation works in some preliminary stump speeches, but eventually voters want answers. It's not enough to be Not-Republicans. How, exactly, are Democrats different than Republicans? Spouting tired rhetoric about the New Deal and social welfare worked for a country teetering on the brink of Socialism during FDR's reign, but what now? How are the Fat Cats in the Democratic party different than the Fat Cats in the Republican wing?

And Universal health care hardly seems like revolutionary thinking when the very insurance companies who have been exploiting sick Americans are invited to the negotiation table. Well, to be fair, they paid for their seats at the table, since they have donated millions to the presidential candidates.

The fact that it is 2008 and we're still debating if all people should be given health care, fair trials, shelter (even if they accepted outrageous mortgage loans from predatory banks,) and if we should or shouldn't parade around the globe like some kind of colonizing juggernaut should alert readers to the state of the union.

Democrats are in trouble. They're so in trouble that the Democratic party - the liberal voice of reason - would be unrecognizable to the lefties of yesterday. Why are issues of nuclear disarmament, alternative sources of fuel, a department of peace, immediate Iraqi troop withdrawal, and media diversification constantly forced into the margins of debate?

Instead, politicians wade through a swamp of semantics, where they bicker over 30 or 60 or 90 day moratoriums on home foreclosures, negotiating with the banks instead of defending the American citizens. They talk about building permanent military bases in Iraq and a gradual withdrawal of troops, as if our continued presence in that land will bring anything expect death and destruction for more Iraqis and U.S. troops - as if a multilateral peace-keeping mission could be worse than the corruption and ineptitude that has already leveled the country.

Yet, many are quick to crucify Ralph Nader when he speaks for real change. Many Americans blame him for Al Gore's defeat in 2000. Though, curiously, no Republican ever accuses Pat Buchanan of stealing votes from Bush in Florida, though Pat did take many votes from the then Governor. Pat even took some of Bush's votes in Iowa, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wisconsin, but because Bush squeaked ahead in the polls, individuals fail to reflect upon that.

Bush won (historically, not technically,) and so the Republicans don't obsessively analyze Florida's hanging chads like Democrats do. Democrats see themselves as a repressed minority, and so they wander around the political landscape like poor Midwesterns after a tornado tears through their trailer park. They just keep looking around, going, "What HAPPENED?!"

We live in a Democracy, which operates under the theory that ANYONE can run for president. Unfortunately, that usually means anyone who is rich, but if a candidate can raise enough cash, then he or she can join the party. Otherwise, if we don't have competition in politics, if we attach exceptions to the rule of democracy, then we might as well live under a monarchy, plutocracy, or totalitarian system of government.

Thankfully, this is America, and we like diversity in politics rather than an endless cycle of Anglo-Saxon descendants of wealthy sharecroppers. Anyone can run for president, even the most unpredictable beast of the animal kingdom -- an Environmentalist.

It's easy to blame Ralph because, well, he possesses the stubbornness of the last sane man in a world of screaming lunatics. He has spent his life working to protect the repressed and exploited, even though they never thank him. In fact, they frequently mock him like dumb bullies do to the smart kid in the class, who always raises his hand when he knows the answer instead of remaining mute so people will like him.

It's harder to blame Al Gore for Al Gore's defeat. It's difficult to examine the party as a whole and realize the Democrat's have yet to offer the American people a compelling argument for the next decade, and maybe that's why Al couldn't sway more independents to his side and lower the hammer in Florida.

The election wouldn't have come down to a few hundred votes if Al had blown through the rest of the states with a compelling mission statement, if he had wowed voters with exciting ideologies to carry us into a world with a globalized marketplace. Or perhaps a shiny new business model for how the United States can compete with a country supporting itself on slave labor, like China. Better yet, what of a humanitarian coalition of the willing, where all countries are asked to pay fair wages, not just out of altruistic duty for our fellow human beings, but so that Americans can play on a level market field so that their jobs aren't shipped overseas?

Al didn't deal with specifics. He simply bet that voters could see that he was smarter and more experienced than Bush. Well, we know how that worked out.

None of this is Ralph's fault. He's always had specific plans, and his vision never falters. People hate Ralph because, much like that asshole teacher in eighth grade who wouldn't let you skate by, he challenges us. He pushes the country left when the pendulum forever presses right. In a world of free trade and winner-take-all attitudes, Ralph fights for the environment, workers, and victims everywhere.

And yes, he will get votes, but he steals nothing from politicians who don't willingly surrender their campaigns to mediocrity, or voters who cast ballots true to their consciences. A truly compelling Democratic nominee will win blue votes, and some reds and independents. However, if the Democratic nominee offers Americans more of the same centrist-right rhetoric brought to us during the Clinton years, if they cater to Big Business and Wall Street, then we may see a repeat of the 2000 election.

And it won't be Ralph's fault. It will be our own.

Fear Mongering Obstructionist Party Census

by: Foiled Goil

I was able to have access to a recent RNC Party Census mail out and asked to borrow it in order to bring you some of the details. So, here you go, this is what the majority of the rest of our country is up against:

Republican Party Census Document Questionaire

(The choices are Yes, No or Undecided)



more...
23 February 2008

Update on a Great Woman

by: blackdog

My friend Julia, who has fought cancer now for several years with all her might, which is substantial, now has begun to address the fact that she is dying.

She has done so well. My heart is breaking, I have known this supreme lady for 46 years, with about a 20 year gap, we met again at a high school reunion for gawds sake, she is sprightly and more than capable, and anyone would be proud to share some time with her. She is more than a little intelligent, and she actually gives a damn about many things,

She has prepared for her demise by taking care of her husband and son and her own funeral already, and she still has the capacity to be just as fun and refreshing as she always was. She is and will always be for me a standard.

She is completely dedicated to her husband and son and is a model for anyone wanting any value sort of thing.

Just spoke with her over the phone for better than an hour and at times I had to attempt to hide my tears, she really is a great person.

She is too young and full of ability, she is one that we should all miss in the event of her death, she is just a most wonderful girl.

Damnit, I am pissed. When we loose wonderful people like this we all suffer, even though I know that none of you know her. But you do, in a way, somewhere there are folk like that to you who are like Julia is to me.

She is one brave lady, and I wish all of you could meet her. Before she goes.

Saturday Morning Musings

by: Debra

For a country that is as breast obsessed as America, we sure have a funny way of dealing with them. While America drools over the frontal fat appendages of Pamela Sue Anderson and the late Anna Nicole Smith, once those breasts aren't perfect all bets are off. Get breast cancer, have your health insurance canceled, as if $9 million (like they 're going to pay it!) will every make up for the pain, suffering and absolute terror that woman went through. Or, if you have the money and are willing to take the chance, you can try using a drug that has very little proven efficacy in doing anything but slowing the growth of a tumor but powerful backers within the FDA probably think that's okay since it keeps the boobs looking normal.

My baby brother has had a policy for years not to eat what he calls "co-mingled" meat. It sounded like a good policy, so I also adopted it. I still like sausage (bad girl!), but when it comes to ground beef, all I use is organic (usually Niman Ranch) or I drive to In-N-Out Burger. Too bad the rest of the country don't get these options.

Hmm, more boob stuff and you thought it was just the Puritans who didn't want anyone to have fun. Why is it that religious fanatics just don't understand that opposites attract and that legislation, arrest or even hanging won't change that? Men will be men, boys will be boys and the majority of them like to interact with members of the opposite sex. And most of us girls like it that way.

I am not a traitor to my race. First of all, which one would that be? The German mom with blond hair and grey eyes that I have spent most of my life with or the black American father who I adored until the day he died and still think is the most wonderful man I ever met? I am an American female and I will vote however I choose. Just the way I spend my money. When I have it.

I've resigned myself to the fact that if we do have the 2008 Presidential election, we will end up with another Republican president. My objections to Obama are many, not the least of which are his lack of experience, who he's sold his soul to to get this far, the absence of cohesive plans to solve the problems of this country and what really irritates me are the platitudes. Change? Who is he kidding? Thanks to people like that guy with the blog with the hideous orange theme, they have ensured that instead of us having a choice, the Dumocrats will once again have the poor choice they give us. Like Kerry wasn't bad enough. Then, if the election occurs the rest of the country is going to say "change? I don't think so." If McCain picks a running mate that is even remotely viable, democracy as we used to know it, is toast.

It's been a hard two weeks. My knee pain has been at a consistent 9 for the last week and between the emergency room visit for asthma and the subsequent $1,588.74 ambulance ride to get there, trying to make my new place livable (30 years of nicotine, mold and mildew) has been difficult. What little work I had, has turned into a nightmare and mom has completely lost her mind. It isn't just me that notices it. Our 88 year old landlady (who may be deaf but has all of her marbles) believes it's the early stages of Alzheimer's in addition to the vascular dementia. But mom still figured out the remote control so she can watch Jeopardy every night. Go figure.

Debsweb


· ·

McCain and the Straight Talk Express to Lobbyville

by: Dark Wraith

Talking Points Memo has a new article about John McCain's deep ties to lobbyists. It seems that the lobbyists are so much a part of his campaign that his chief adviser, GOP lobbyist Charlie Black, spends his time on McCain's touring bus, the "Straight Talk Express," calling corporate clients.

If the Straight Talk Express is funded by campaign contributions, Mr. Blacks lobbying work there arguably constitutes a violation (possibly, a per-incident violation) of campaign finance laws since Sen. McCain is providing office space for non-campaign-related activities. Were Mr. Black's outbound and inbound calls unplanned and extraordinary, fair argument could be made that his presence on the bus and the lobbying work were coincidental; however, the Washington Post claims, "Black said he does a lot of his work by telephone from McCain's Straight Talk Express bus," thereby denying the McCain campaign any claim of coincidence between Black's general lobbying activities and the campaign-funded facilities in which those activities are being carried out.

If the Federal Elections Commission does not move aggressively on McCain and his campaign with regard to this matter, it would be the responsible citizen's prerogative—indeed, it would be that citizen's duty—to vociferously bring to the attention of the mainstream media, and anyone else who might listen, this story of compelling allegations of a presidential campaign now indistinguishable from Beltway lobbyists who manage and use it.

Whether or not the Arizona Senator once had an intimate relationship with a lobbyist and used his chairmanship of a committee to advance her client's interests, the matter of Mr. Black's use of Sen. McCain's campaign-funded assets is of immediate import and intersects campaign finance laws that Sen. McCain, himself, was a champion in reforming with the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-155), known informally as the McCain-Feingold Act.

Ultimately, it will be up to the Federal Elections Commission to determine whether Sen. McCain's campaign has violated law and regulations with respect to Mr. Black's conduct of lobbying business on the Straight Talk Express; but beyond the considerations of the FEC, voters contemplating the quality and character of a presidential hopeful should be made aware of the manner in which each candidate conducts his or her campaign and the extent to which that conduct comports with the aspirant's rhetoric.

In the case of John McCain, a pall is swiftly enshrouding a man who was once a war hero and a leader, but who is now giving at least the remarkable appearance of being little more than a politician inextricably mired in the sleazy world of lobbyists, sex, and money that is the intolerable yet enduring underbelly of life among the powerful in the nation's capitol.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums


· · · ·
22 February 2008

An Exercise from Urban Economics

by: Dark Wraith

Dark Wraith's Pulp EconomicsMy frequent correspondent OddJob, preceded by Angelos of the blog Hestika, sent the link to an article from The Atlantic.com entitled, "The Next Slum?" The author, Christopher B. Leinberger, describes the phenomenon of once-upscale suburban housing developments now in various states of economic collapse, with many of houses left abandoned or now being occupied by unsavory people. Remaining residents from the better times of these cul-de-sac McMansion villages live with skyrocketing crime rates and a general deterioration of their neighborhoods and their very lives.

To his great credit, Mr. Leinberger does not fatigue readers with yet another worn-out tome about the mythical "bubble" in the housing market or the current mortgage credit crisis as being the cause of modern suburban housing blight; instead, he thoughtfully analyzes some of the many interesting innovations in housing development being realized as part of large and significant social, economic, and resource availability forces reshaping the landscape of America. Absent from his survey of important factors, however, is a quite basic and entirely ancient force that shapes and reshapes urban landscapes, and it is to the purpose of summarily explaining this essential and thoroughly natural phenomenon that this post is dedicated. The phenomenon is so well-known in real estate studies and urban economics that it even has a name: it is called "filtering of the housing stock," and it has been around ever since cities have existed.

As a first principle, no asset retains value of its own accord because assets, in general, do not have an accord of their own. ("Human capital" is a partial—not a complete, but a partial—exception to this principle.) The essential phenomenon of decline in asset value is "economic depreciation"; in terms of accounting for this reality, some clerical system is used by which the erosion can be recognized in a mathematical or tabular way. Such a system is called "(accounting) depreciation," and several broad forms of it can exist even in tandem, as is the case with financial accounting depreciation and depreciation for tax reporting purposes, the latter often being more rapid and/or front-loaded to quickly realize tax shielding, the former being the method applied for public reporting.

Nevertheless, the underlying principle is not artifice: constructed assets (assets whose value is largely the result of improvements to raw resources) really do lose value through time, and the only way that can be prevented from occurring is through maintenance and improvements, both of which require capital. Absent the capital—financial, "sweat equity," or otherwise—an asset becomes less valuable as it ages. More importantly, whether or not capital is invested to slow or reverse economic depreciation is entirely dependent upon whether or not the net present value of future expected cash flows from maintenance and improvements exceeds the current cost of the contemplated maintenance and/or improvements.

In urban areas, many were the housing divisions, apartment complexes, and businesses established in the heyday of urban life and activity. As that activity and the cash flows that go with it migrated outward from the city centers, usually along major arteries that led from the main parts of towns, the close-in housing stocks "filtered" down because there was insufficient incentive to maintain them, much less make improvements. Eventually, in some areas, "gentrification" occurred, and this was in part because tax incentives made re-investment in urban dwellings attractive, but it was also the result of the housing stocks having filtered so far down that "abandonment" values made re-investment attractive. It is not fanciful metaphor to describe gentrification as a value echo that returned to the point of origin once the valuation pressure differential had made the reflective path more attractive than the continued outward movement.

Whatever the particulars of the pace and pattern of filtering, it often follows paths—some quite linear, some much more complex—out from the center of a city (what urban economists call the "central business district," or "CBD"). When filtering makes its way out to suburbs, an interesting phenomenon may occur: because the suburbs, themselves, are centers of community activity, both social and economic, they, too, can become the nodes from which filtering emanates. This means the suburbs have filtering from the major city sweep through; then the filtering from their own and proximate suburban central business districts sweeps through, thus creating a complicated and fascinating set of harmonics and interference patterns of devaluations—and sometimes even such devaluations that rehabilitation becomes economically attractive—just like waves from pebbles meeting and interacting on a pond cause multiple, standing depressions in the water right next to multitudes of standing crests.

It is these interacting patterns of filtering activity that economically devastate some housing divisions while leaving others completely unscathed. Although suburbanization intensifies the complexities of these economic winners and losers among housing stocks, the underlying phenomenon, itself, of filtering is enduring, pervasive, and fundamental, and it will remain so for as long as cities persist and for as long as avenues exist (be they streets, freeways, communication networks, or other modes of physical and information transport) by which economic value can articulate along paths of least financial resistance.


The Dark Wraith has once again demonstrated how fascinating theoretical economic analysis can be.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums


· · · ·

Bush Rating: Worst Ever

by: Foiled Goil

Bush Approval Elevator — Going Down

American Research Group:
George W. Bush's overall job approval rating has dropped to a new low in American Research Group polling as 78% of Americans say that the national economy is getting worse according to the latest survey from the American Research Group.

Among all Americans, 19% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 77% disapprove. When it comes to Bush's handling of the economy, 14% approve and 79% disapprove.

Among Americans registered to vote, 18% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 78% disapprove. When it comes to the way Bush is handling the economy, 15% of registered voters approve of the way Bush is handling the economy and 79% disapprove.

A total of 78% of Americans say the national economy is getting worse and 47% say the national economy is in a recession. A total of 42% of Americans, however, say they believe the national economy will be better a year from now, which is the highest level for this question in the past year. This optimism does not spread to improvements in household financial situations as 17% of Americans say they expect their household financial situations to be better a year from now, which is the lowest for this question in the past year.
A Roper comparison of the lowest poll numbers for past presidential performances shows:

25% — G. W. Bush

36% — Clinton

29% — G. H. W. Bush

35% — Reagan

28% — Carter

37% — Ford

23% — Nixon

35% — Johnson

56% — Kennedy

48% — Eisenhower

22% — Truman

48% — Roosevelt

Beating his own record, George W. Bush — the worst U.S. president ever — has now reached a new record low.

Heckuva job, Duhbya.

h/t: Attytood



· · ·
21 February 2008

Freemason Recruitment -- Has anyone heard the recent radio commercials? (Ben is worried - Secrets and Trust - Prepare for Greatness)

by: Jersey Cynic

I just heard the Secrets and Trust radio spot.

It was kinda creepy - What do you think?

The days when newcomers could join only by a whispered invitation from an existing "brother", followed by a lengthy initiation, are coming to an end, after a steady fall in membership. ~~(2005)

I had no idea that this campaign had been going on for a few years now. Today was the first time I heard the commercial.



As the worlds oldest and largest fraternal organization, Freemasonry today is built on Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. Through fellowship, charity, education and leadership, Freemasons are making their lives - and their communities - stronger by the day.

Inside the Masons - The fraternal order has long been the target of conspiracy theories and hoaxes. Here's the real story

Whew....I'm glad we can put all those conspiracy theories behind us now.

Right?


crossposted at Blondesense

Reaction to Belgrade

by: Minstrel Boy

When the news of the attack on the American Embassy in Belgrade broke I almost instantly got a phone call from an old comrade. He remembered that back in '72 I had sent him a telegram from Beruit regarding an operation in the then Yugoslavia that was in the works. Here is the text of the telegram. Remember, this was sent from Beruit.


BEAR:

YOU GO TO SLAVIA STOP
I STAY HERE BT*

SNAKE

* old school telegram speak for break transmission signifying the end of the message.

He said he still laughs at the thought of someone who would rather stay in Beruit. Then he remembers what went down with his team in Belgrade and Skopje and realizes that I was the one with good sense on that subject. At least I was able to get decent cups of coffee and great hash in Beruit. That and the French reporter. . .

harp and sword

Lunar Eclipse 2008

by: Dark Wraith

This evening, the moon became blood. As Saturn, Regulus, and a host of dimmer celestial watchers stood in the backdrop, dark became our silent companion who has always and forever held close and brought pale light to the silent and howling night of vast eternity around us.

Until modernity informed us otherwise, this event would have been the harbinger of ill to come. Our ancestors would have gazed as much in fear of its meaning as in awe of its subtle beauty; yet now, we know so much more.

At the very least, we certainly think we do.

Lunar Eclipse 2008


Lunar Eclipse 2008 Close-up



·
20 February 2008

McCain the "Songbird" - McCain the "Manchurian Candidate" -- McCain's Presidential Ambitions Set To Be "Swiftboated"

by: Jersey Cynic

Activists accused McCain of stonewalling the release of POW records because they contained evidence he had collaborated with the North Vietnamese.


POW's Say John McCain Is A Lying Skunk !!!!!


"We are planning right now a counter-offensive called GOP Tea Party, and in the spirit of 1773 when the colonists rebelled against the King of England and tossed all that tea over, we're going to rebel against the Republican Party and toss McCain over," Sampley said.

"We hope to start a revolution within the Republican Party to cleanse it of all the left-leaning Republicans and McCain is a leftist if you look at his major activity," he added, pointing out that McCain has direct links to the Clintons and would be no different than having Hillary in the White House.


THE McCAIN TRAINWRECK:
"Everything I think about the election centers around there being no election. In 2004, when they determined to re-appoint Bush for four more years, they had to find a stalking horse who was actually worse. It took a while to find John Kerry, but his complete unelectability made the Bush victory appear more legitimate. In this election, theyre all stalking horses. They are all amazingly unelectable, and this is the signal that there will be an extension of this administration. The people will accept the suspended election because the Hillary alternative is a worse choice. So, the fake terror attack is inevitable. It seems like the logical course of action, its just a matter of when this will occur. Going by The Establishments flair for the dramatic, this event may be timed to coincide with something else; and I am guessing that this something else will be the torpedoing of the McCain candidacy. He is such the obvious loser in this contest, and a McCain meltdown would leave the Republicans without a candidate with only months to go in the election. This would be the most effective moment to stage the terrorist attack.


The McCain candidacy is the strangest aspect of this event and the most obvious feature indicating that the whole things in the bag. After a nationwide search, how is it possible that a legitimate electoral process ended up with this lunatic?"


"Any questions?"

crossposted at Blondesense

Lunar Eclipse in Virgo the Virgin

by: Missouri Mule

Very few things are more enchanting than the night sky. Staring star-ward can take you places your mind has never been and your body can only dream to go. It just doesn't get much better than when the moon is full and her radiant glow lights my path. I don't care how cold it is tonight. I plan on sleeping all day and riding all night.

The full moon tonight definitely deserves a good long look, as nature promises to give us one of the best shows in the sky---a total eclipse of the moon!

Cross your fingers for a cloud-free night, bundle up, and watch the moon enter the shadow cast by the earth, because it won't happen again until 2010.
19 February 2008

Because One Good Pablo Deserves Another

by: Minstrel Boy

Musing on the resignation of Fidel Castro, the lyrical litbrit cited a gorgeous poem by Pablo Neruda. "The Dictators." It's a roiling and steamy bit of work. Like most of Neruda. The thing about Neruda that has always intrigued me is how well he translates. Often, with poets, the musicality or the flow of sound and beauty is lost when things are moved from one language to another. More than any other poet I read, Neruda has managed to defy this. I wish I knew how. Usually when I read a good translation of a poem I try to find it in the original language. Poetry, especially, works like that. With Neruda I am often left wondering which language he was thinking and dreaming in when that particular poem sprung forth.

Here's one of my favorite Neruda's. Primero, en Espanol:


Poesia

Y fue a esa edad... Lleg la poesa
a buscarme. No s, no s de dnde
sali, de invierno o ro.
No s cmo ni cundo,
no, no eran voces, no eran
palabras, ni silencio,
pero desde una calle me llamaba,
desde las ramas de la noche,
de pronto entre los otros,
entre fuegos violentos
o regresando solo,
all estaba sin rostro
y me tocaba.


Yo no saba qu decir, mi boca
no saba
nombrar,
mis ojos eran ciegos,
y algo golpeaba en mi alma,
fiebre o alas perdidas,
y me fui haciendo solo,
descifrando
aquella quemadura,
y escrib la primera lnea vaga,
vaga, sin cuerpo, pura
tontera,
pura sabidura
del que no sabe nada,
y vi de pronto
el cielo
desgranado
y abierto,
planetas,
plantaciones palpitantes,
la sombra perforada,
acribillada
por flechas, fuego y flores,
la noche arrolladora, el universo.


Y yo, mnimo ser,
ebrio del gran vaco
constelado,
a semejanza, a imagen
del misterio,
me sent parte pura
del abismo,
rod con las estrellas,
mi corazn se desat en el viento.


Here's the translation. Notice how well it still sings.


POETRY

And it was at that age... Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don't know, I don't know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don't know how or when,
no, they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

I did not know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
deciphering
that fire
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
nonsense,
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
unfastened
and open,
planets,
palpitating plantations,
shadow perforated,
riddled
with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
void,
likeness, image of
mystery,
I felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on the wind.


That, my friends, is genius. Pure. Genius.


el rancho harpo

So What Are You Going To Do About It?

by: Foiled Goil

We Are The Ones We Have Been Waiting For

Cocteles Mariscos

by: Minstrel Boy

One of the true pleasures of living nearer to the coast, and at the same time being close to Baja California is the wonderful things Mexican cooks do with the abundant seafood from the Pacific and the Gulf of California.

Cocteles are an institution around here. They are simple and straightforward. Bold flavors presented without apology.

Here's the one I made a couple of days ago.

INGREDIENTS

1 pound cooked and shelled medium shrimp
1 Dungeness crab, cooked and cleaned (a bit more than 1/2 a pound of meat)
3 stalks of celery (remove the strings)
2 avocados
2 cucumbers
1 red bell pepper
1/2 gal V8 juice
1 cup clam juice
juice of 2 limes
Tapatio sauce


First off, the seafood used can be of any type. There are no hard and fast rules. Popular around here are clams, oysters, octopus, shrimp, and squid. The giant squid from the Sea of Cortez must be seen to be believed. They are some Jules Verne nightmares. I've even taken a small cookie cutter to the wings of stingrays with good success. (cook's note: fileted and cookiecuttered stingray wings make a very reasonable substitute for scallops and abalone)

Take the veggies, using any combination of color and texture that amuses you. Make sure that you seed the cucumbers, because the seeds are bitter and add no food value. Cut it all into small, bitesized pieces. Mix with the same sized chunks of the seafood and put into a large, non-reactive bowl. Put the juices over them, again, adjusting the proportions of the V8 and the clam juice to your taste. I like lots of clam juice, it's a good ocean flavor. Hose it down liberally with Tapatio (and no, there is no substitute for this brand of salsa picante, if you used anything else you'd be thrown out of Baja as an undesirable). Chill and serve in tall glasses with ice tea spoons. The proper companion is corn tortillas, warm and soft, or deep fried into chips. Using saltine crackers will identify you as a hopeless gringo.

These is a great warm afternoon appetizer. I heartily recommend it.

harp and sword
18 February 2008

The Price of a College Education... Will it be leaving your child behind? Connect these dots and tell me what you see.

by: Jersey Cynic


(image courtesy of istockphoto )

Here is the recent article that got me thinking: Lenders Predict Harsher Climate For Student Loans


"There is no question in my mind that, unless something changes in the marketplace, there will be a shortfall of funds available to make student loans," says , president of the Connecticut Student Loan Foundation, a nonprofit lender based in Rock Hill, Conn. "I've been doing this since 1978, and I've never been more nervous."

I think we all know what needs to change in the marketplace --I wish I knew more about the pros and cons of regulation and deregulation in the banking industry. Did deregulation help to create this mess that is now affecting so many? Haven't our elected officials had ample time to look at the whole picture here to see how it is unfolding? I don't even know if any of this is even related, but the graphs in the article on banking deregulation from opensecrets sure spoke volumes. Check out the amounts given to dems and repubs from lobbying groups for the banking, securities, and insurance industries. From 1993-1998, the GOP was clearly the favorite.

(DOT) 1999
President Clinton signed the Financial Services Act of 1999 (The Gram-Leach-Bliley Act) which replaced the Glass-Steagal Act


Economics Journalist Robert Kuttner on the Most Serious Financial Crisis Since the Great Depression -- This is the Result of Rightwing Ideology and the Political Power of Wall Street:
(Amy Goodman Interview)
Mr. Kuttner: "some people have this picture of subprime lenders as these neighborhood predators. They were put in business by Citigroup. They were put in business by Merrill Lynch. They were put in business by the bluest chip names on Wall Street.

The prime enabler under Clinton of deregulation was Robert Rubin, Secretary of the Treasury. And Rubin comes out of Goldman Sachs, then he goes to work as one of Clintons top guys. He presides over the repeal of the key piece of New Deal legislation designed to prevent conflicts of interest, the Glass-Steagall Act. And then he lets a short interval go by, and then he becomes chairman of the executive committee of Citigroup, which was only able to become the kind of conglomerate it did because of the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act. Now, thats a flat-out conflict of interest."


(DOT) 2002
Bush Drops Unpopular Plan To Raise Cost of Student Loans

(DOT) 2005
Bankruptcy Bill Passes

(DOT) 2006
Concerns mount over higher rates on student loans

Congress narrowly passed a deficit-reduction bill last month that cut $12 billion from student loan programs, which was signed by the president. The new law will slash subsidies to lenders and raise interest rates on loans taken out by parents.

As part of the new bill, Congress also increased the interest rate on loans paid by parents. Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students, better known as PLUS loans, had been scheduled to rise from the current rate of 6.1 percent to a fixed rate of 7.9 percent.

But lawmakers, seeking greater savings in the budget package, boosted the rate even higher, to 8.5 percent. The change is likely to make the loans less attractive to many parents.

(DOT) 2007
Student Loan Overhaul Advances
Many Democrats have long decried subsidies to the lending industry as a waste of taxpayer dollars and have promoted direct lending by the government to students. Republicans have generally sided with the lending industry, contending that the companies bring needed competition to the market.

But several key Republicans yesterday supported the Democratic legislation.........
(I believe they are referring to this bill)
(DOT) 2007

H.R. 5: College Student Relief Act of 2007


Why the sudden turn around? I have a pretty good idea --
Did Revolving Door Lead To Student Loan Mess? "At least eight top officials in the Education Department during the Bush administration either came from student-loan or related organizations or have taken lucrative jobs in that arena since leaving the agency. Former Education Department staffers say a revolving door between the department and industry has led to lax oversight of federal financial aid."

Last month, the White House released the following Statement of Administration Policy Regarding H.R. 5College Student Relief Act of 2007 -- the Administration opposes H.R. 5 and says that reducing student loan interest rates encourages more student debt and can also fuel today's upward tuition spiral at colleges.

So, who's minding the campus lately?

Let's hear from Peter Wood. He is the Executive Director of the National Association of Scholars and has recently written a few very informative articles on this topic for mindingthecampus--Student Loans - Sequel To The Mortgage Mess? In this essay, he links to a paper written by Andrew Gillen, writing for the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. His working paper is: "A Tuition Bubble? Lessons from the Housing Bubble"


Mr. Wood concludes that "There are not enough dots yet to draw a picture of a credit squeeze in the U.S. for student loans, but it might be a good time to start watching for more dots."

I wish I could figure Peter Wood out. He wrote this gem about
THE ANGRY LEFT.
He has also written a few books. This one caught my eye: Diversity - The Invention of a Concept here's a review: The diversity movement, hiding in the garb of peace, love, and tolerance, is working hard to destroy the qualities that make America America. Sound harsh? It is. But Peter Wood documents with names and dates.
Why is education heading down the toilet? Well, there are many reasons, but diversity is certainly a major contributor. How about the fact that what passes for art these days leaves most people cold, if they're lucky, disgusted if they're not? Diversity again.

Diversity is a new concept, as Dr. Wood scrupulously points out. It is not an American ideal, but a recently coined invention to disguise the failure of affirmative action. Its purpose is to remove judgement and evaluation, to protect the incompetent and the insignificant, and to force everyone to embrace everyone else (except those cranky, right-wing wackos...don't embrace those nasty people!)


So, what do we know about this National Association of Scholars. According to sourcewatch: The National Association of Scholars (N.A.S.) was founded in 1985, was created, according to a report by People for the American Way, " to unite right-wing faculty against 'politically correct' multicultural education and affirmative action policies in college admissions and faculty hiring that take race or gender into account."

"In addressing issues that are of academic concern across the political spectrum, the N.A.S. has recently been successful in attracting a small number of liberal and moderate faculty, but the overall thrust of the N.A.S. remains conservative.
Its advisory board lists right-wing intellectuals such as
Irving Kristol The one who spawned that monster William Kristol

Well now Mr. Wood -- I don't have to watch for any more dots. I've connected them and I see a very dark line dividing the haves and have nots. I also see a line that will soon cross out most of the middle class in America today. It's a line that has been carefully drawn by the PTB (whoever THEY are) -- I'm betting it's the bankers - the feds - the "money makers" and most of our elected politicians. The ones who let this mortgage lending fiasco proceed for years and years. The ones who printed the money, the ones who "packaged" the money, the ones who lent the money. The ones who carefully manipulate the "trends" (i.e. the PPT - plunge protection team) The Plunge Protection Team - long kept secret - was last mobilised to calm the markets after 9/11. It then went into hibernation during the long boom. But, last month, Bush convened the so-called Plunge Protection Team for its first known meeting in the Oval Office

------------------------
For any readers who are still with me (sorry I take so long), here is a must read article written by Elizabeth Warren back in June for TMPcafe --
College Loan Squeeze Play:


Any notion that the student loan industry works for students and their families vanished in the scandals over lenders' giving money to college loan officials to steer business their way. Now education policy specialist Bob Shireman exposes another ugly side of the student loan industry: Leaked documents show what the private student loan businesses have been squeezing out of Congress.


crossposted atBlondesense
17 February 2008

Teaching Peace

by: Dark Wraith

Having offered some pictures of my two Manx cats, Gabriel and Matilda, as links in comments to my last post here, allow me to offer a wonderful lesson in pictures. Gabriel is Matilda's brother, born a year before she was. Gabriel is a good brother and a good teacher. Matilda is a good sister and, ultimately, a good learner.

Gabriel and Matilda


The Dark Wraith hopes the lesson is evident.


· ·

Just for the Dark Wraith

by: blackdog

Meow?

Remember this heart surgeon from Tennessee? Damn, I sure do, better lock up your kitties and women and booze, he's on the loose again.

MOOOO! (with a Side Order of Hurl)

by: Dark Wraith

UPDATE 18 February 2008 at 10:12 a.m. EDT: Federal officials are now saying that most of the 143 million pounds of beed has already been consumed. The officials did not indicate, however, the extent to which this would complicate retrieving it.

◊            ◊            ◊


The USDA is recalling 143 million pounds of frozen beef (that's right, folks one hundred forty-three million pounds) that was bound for federal school lunch programs and several major chains of fast-food restaurants. The beef in the recall came from Westland/Hallmark Meat Co., whose secretly videotaped practices included using forklifts to move sick and non-ambulatory cattle to slaughter.

Here's my idea. Don't throw that meat away; instead, force-feed it to every whining, so-called conservative, "limited government" bleater in the country. Make 'em eat every last bit of it, just to make sure there's none left that hungry kids could end up inadvertently consuming. (Unfortunately, it seems that about 37 million pounds of it have probably already been eaten.)

Then, while all those limited government folks start getting really, really worried about maybe ending up feverish, with vomiting, diarrhea, and all the other symptoms of food poisoning, get 'em all on YouTube singing the praises of Republicans, tax cuts, spending priorities for the global war on terror, and free markets. Make 'em all say in unison, "Git guv'mint off th' backs o' bidness!"

Timing is everything, of course. If any of those free-market lovers actually do get food poisoning, we'll have to capture their feelings before effects like kidney failure set in. That whole death-rattle thing is a real ratings loser.

Does that sound too harsh? Gee, let's see, here: this latest example of the creative power of free markets pumped 37 million pounds of potentially tainted beef into the mouths of kids and tried to do the same with another 106 million pounds of the stuff.

Perhaps the free market acolytes should be given a choice between eating the beef and getting a good horse-whipping. "Free to Choose" is how the late, Right-wing economics extremist Milton Friedman put it.


The Dark Wraith has finally found something on which to agree with that deceased snake-oil salesman.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums


· · · · ·

The Sibel Edmonds Story Breaks In U. S. Paper

by: Foiled Goil

The Times Online (UK) has reported three articles on this story and now it comes to the U. S. media. Finally.

For the most part, the U. S. MSM have been MIA on the Sibel Edmonds story. As Alternet noted on January 30, 2008, 'Buckle Up, There's Much More Coming'.

February 17, 2008 — Dallas Morning News:

What FBI whistle-blower Sibel Edmonds found in translation

FBI whistle-blower Sibel Edmonds has spilled her secrets Why is her story being covered up?

Most Americans have never heard of Sibel Edmonds, and if the U.S. government has its way, they never will.

The former FBI translator turned whistle-blower tells a chilling story of corruption at Washington's highest levels sale of nuclear secrets, shielding of terrorist suspects, illegal arms transfers, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, espionage. She may be a first-rate fabulist, but Ms. Edmonds' account is full of dates, places and names. And if she is to be believed, a treasonous plot to embed moles in American military and nuclear installations and pass sensitive intelligence to Israeli, Pakistani and Turkish sources was facilitated by figures in the upper echelons of the State and Defense Departments. Her charges could be easily confirmed or dismissed if classified government documents were made available to investigators.

After five years of thwarted legal challenges and fruitless attempts to launch a congressional investigation, Sibel Edmonds is telling her story, though her defiance could land her in jail. After reading its November piece about Louai al-Sakka, an al-Qaeda terrorist who trained 9/11 hijackers in Turkey, Ms. Edmonds approached the Sunday Times of London. On Jan. 6, the Times, a Rupert Murdoch-owned paper that does not normally encourage exposs damaging to the Bush administration, featured a long article. The news quickly spread around the world but not in the United States.

Passionate in her convictions, Ms. Edmonds has sometimes alienated her own supporters and ridden roughshod over critics who questioned her assumptions. But despite her shortcomings in making her case and the legitimate criticism that she may be overreaching in some of her conclusions, Ms. Edmonds comes across as credible. Her claims are specific and fact-based, and they can be documented in detail. There is presumably an existing FBI file that could demonstrate the accuracy of many of her charges.

Her allegations are not insignificant.

Still, Sibel Edmonds makes a number of accusations about specific criminal behavior that appear to be extraordinary but are credible enough to warrant official investigation. Her allegations are documentable; an existing FBI file should determine whether they are accurate.

It's true that she probably knows only part of the story, but if that part is correct, Congress and the Justice Department should have no higher priority. Nothing deserves more attention than the possibility of ongoing national-security failures and the proliferation of nuclear weapons with the connivance of corrupt senior government officials.



· · · · ·
16 February 2008

Smoke, Mirrors, and the Rule of Law

by: Dark Wraith

The story of the sheriff's deputy videotaped as she dumped a paralyzed man, Brian Sterner, out of his wheelchair and onto the floor at a Tampa detention facility has taken a new turn. The Hillsborough County deputy, Charlette Marshall-Jones, has been charged with one count of felony abuse of a disabled person. She has posted and been released on a $3,500 bond.

In response to this new information offered by commenter Moody Blue at The Dark Wraith Forums, I offer the following response.

Much broader issues are not being addressed concerning that sheriff's deputy who dumped the quadriplegic. Despite the butt-covering apologies, first by Chief Deputy Jose Docobo, who called the deputy's actions "indefensible at every level," and then by Sheriff David Gee, who said he was "personally embarrassed and shocked by the horrific treatment Mr. Sterner received," watching that video tells a starkly different story from the official line that the treatment was outside policy guidelines and contrary to training of the law enforcement personnel of the county.

Those PR-attenuating flaks' drool is without a shred of credibility. That video clearly shows a uniform, well-practiced, pervasive disregard for fundamental human decency. It wasn't just that one woman, the one who poured the quad out of his wheelchair; it was all of those deputies in that office: every one of them stood around with utter dispassion while Sterner hit the floor, then flailed about while the deputies moved in like mechanics about to do a 15-minute Quik-Lube oil change on a car with bad suspension. Those officers did not display even so much as a hint of concern for the venality of the incident in which they were actively, knowingly participating.

Quite tellingly, the video seems to show large windows right behind where the action was occurring. That indicates this was no secretive, furtive act done in a quiet, unobserved place; instead, this was done right where it could be seen, not just by department personnel, but also by civilians.

That renders evidence of a very different story from the one being pumped to the ever-gullible media by the sheriff. He is engaging in mere risk mitigation tactics: he is kicking the low woman on the totem pole for what she was doing as part of a pervasive culture of disrespect—indeed, lawlessness—on the part of yet another law enforcement operation that overwhelmingly deals with the public as if an accusation of a crime is sufficient justification to commence retributive, extra-judicial punishment long before the courts have the opportunity to rubber-stamp the convictions already made accomplished facts by police.

This is the Abu Ghraib story of Lynndie England all over again: a person who was probably not the monster made of her by scandal-swilling journalists who fearlessly hunt the weak and small, but who was, instead, a woman who got sucked into a sexualized, violent, abusive, machismo culture and then got destroyed while the man at the top of the chain of command, President and Commander-in-Chief George W. Bush, and a whole bunch of vicious people below him, including then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, walked away without even so much as a scratch.

It is just sickening; and because it happens over and over again in this modern Medievalism of immune noblemen, the opportunities to be sickened occur with a systematic regularity that defies the bleatings of those who imagine that justice is somehow done by the occasional hanging of the compliant commoner for the sins of the mendacious sovereigns.


The Dark Wraith has spoken.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums


· · ·

Snapshot from 40 Years Ago

by: Minstrel Boy

Forty years ago, in February I was a young one (19) on my first tour at a small base in Phu Bai provence. I was getting ready to go on my first LRRP (lurp). I had done my homework to get the older salts in a place where they trusted my skills to the point of being included on a job like that. My woodcraft, learned growing up on the rez, was a point of great admiration for them. I was a tracker of what they considered to be almost supernatural skills, to my thinking, and my experience, I was below average. My shooting was also something they thought was beyond training. I did have a natural talent for it, and, I had grown up where skill with a rifle was often the difference between eating and going hungry. More than that though, I was, and still am a listener, a reader, and a learner. I knew that the guys who had been there, out in the boonies for a tour or more were the guys that I needed to watch and learn from. They had the skills that would keep me alive.

I was only two weeks out of being a cherry. In my unit, until you had been wounded to a point of requiring evacuation, and then returned, or, until you have a proven kill, your name was Cherry. I made my kill while on a routine patrol. Being the junior guy, and the cherry, I was sent to a spring to fill canteens. While there, a Viet Cong cherry had been sent to the same task. I shot first. I shot straight. I shot, and I immediately went to ground. I found some dense cover and made myself scarce. I knew that there were bound to be others in the black PJs who, hearing the crack of an M16 would be coming to investigate. I had no idea what direction they would be coming from, I also knew that my guys would be right in the mix soon too. That move of mine, that I had the presence of mind to get myself out of any sight lines, impressed the grizzly old Master Chief. He was the one who tapped me out for the LRRP to come. We were going to be moving out in two days. I was already packed, had run my kit past a couple of the older members of the team to make sure that I was bringing enough of the things I would need, and leaving behind anything that would be dead weight. Fully assembled my ruck displaced about 85 pounds. Most of it ammunition.

With my gear rucked up tight and nothing really to do, I was hanging out in the doper's hootch. There were a couple of "recreation" hootches and the choices were pretty cut and dried. The doper's hootch was integrated and they played a lot of Motown. The lifer's hootch was lily white (even the African American who hung with the lifers was from Oklahoma City and talked whiter than me) and they played a lot of Merle Haggard. I was sucking down some warm ass beer, and blowing some killer thai one of our guys had scored from the locals. I remember vividly that Sam the Sham and the Pharohs were singing "Wooly Bully."

Out of nowhere, the world suddenly changed. Sirens and explosions began to sound right about the same time. Then, the loudspeakers for the base began to blare with a young voice that had dropped all pretense of decorum or military discipline screaming into the microphone: "Gooks in the wire. Gooks in the wire. Everybody to the line. Gooks are everywhere in the wire."

I grabbed my rifle, my web belt and a couple cans of ammo and ran to the nearest sand bagged rifle pit. There was incredible sounds. Shots and explosions, screams, and random flashes. I was in the act of swapping out the magazine on my rifle when I realized that I still had half a joint dangling from my lips. Since I smoked Camels I didn't think that anybody would really notice anything. The excitement, the fear, and my reaction to it all had pretty much burned off any stone I had working. Thing was, I couldn't quit singing "Wooly Bully."

The rifle pit I had jumped into began to fill up with a mixture of Marines, whose base it was, and a couple of guys from my team. I kept singing. I had my rifle on single fire. It was a convention of the team. Often we would be working and moving completely out of sight of each other. If we heard automatic fire that wasn't an M60, an easily identified report signature, we knew it wasn't us. We rarely used our 16s on "rock and roll." I noticed that I was firing in rhythm with my singing. It struck me as pretty funny.

Some of the jarheads were starting to look at me a little strange. They had spent most of the last several days complaining loudly about the "squids" who had invaded their little base. They thought we were arrogant and spoiled brats who strutted around in our tiger cammies and thought that we were in this war alone, and that it had been all started for our amusement. They thought that seeing somebody singing "Wooly Bully" and firing his weapon in rhthym to the song was pretty strange. I figured I'd give them something to really chew on.

I flipped my selector to "Full Auto." I kept singing, but much more loudly now. I reached the part of the song, right before the guitar solo where the singer shouts "Now Watch Him, Now Watch Him Now, Here It Comes!" I stood and emptied an entire magazine out into the perimeter. Then I dropped into a sitting position howling with laughter. The jarheads were saucer eyed and speechless. The two guys from my team who were there started to sing "Wooly Buuuuulllllly! Wooly Bully. dum da dudda dum da dut dut da da dumpa dum"

After about half an hour the assault was broken off. The closest they had come to our lines was about 150 yards. Quickly after they broke contact the mortars and rockets started to slam into us. Master Chief Norr came around to check on who was where and was making deployments. The first thing he said was "You kids need to quit smoking that shit, it makes you stupid." Then he looked at me and said "I want you on the CP hootch with the .308. Take Barney with you on the big eyes (high power binoculars). When they come again, it will be right behind a break in the shelling, we're going to pop some star shells (illumination rounds) and I want you with the rifle and Barney spotting, you see anybody looks like a sergeant, or an officer drop them fast. If they look like a leader, take his fucking head off. Got that Tonto?" I said "You betchum Red Ryder."

The siege lasted a little over a day and a half. We finally were able to be resupplied and covered from the air.

Tet, had begun.

harp and sword

Impending, Temporary Service Interruption

by: Dark Wraith

UPDATE: It appears that preliminary steps in the migration are already underway this afternoon rather than late tonight. That means content seems to have vanished, including an article that was posted with a dateline of February 16. Bear with us, here; this looks to be a somewhat rougher ride than I was expecting.

Dark Wraith PublishingAt 11:00 p.m. EST on Saturday, February 16, online properties of Dark Wraith Publishing that are hosted by LivingDot will be unavailable during the move of The Dark Wraith Forums, Big Brass Blog, The UnCapitalist Journal, Dark Wraith Publishing Online Store, and the blogScream News Wire service from their original server, Molinard, to a new, larger, faster server called Chanel. This is being done because the Webhosting service found in its audit that Dark Wraith Publishing properties hosted by LivingDot are now in the Webhost's top 10 in terms of traffic. It should be noted that DWP Podcasting services and several Weblogs unknown to regulars here are not hosted by LivingDot, but are instead on a capacious server at 1&1 Webhosting, so aggregate traffic for the entirety of Dark Wraith Publishing is now even greater than that being experienced by LivingDot.

The outage may last through the night, but we expect The Dark Wraith Forums, Big Brass Blog, The UnCapitalist Journal, Dark Wraith Publishing Online Store, and the blogScream News Wire service to be back online by daybreak on Sunday, February 17.


The Dark Wraith thanks you for your support.
15 February 2008

Treacle Pudding

by: Minstrel Boy

Treacle (molasses) is one of my all time favorite cooking ingredients. This is also one of the few honest to god British foods that won't send you reaching for a barf bag.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
A few drops of vanilla extract
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 cups Tate & Lyle Golden Syrup (a little extra will do no harm).



With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, along with the vanilla.
With a spatula, fold in the flour and baking powder and mix until smooth. Take care not to overmix here.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Butter and flour a 10-inch round Bundt pan.
Pour the syrup into the pan, then spoon in the sponge batter, gently smoothing the top with a spatula.
Bake for about 30 minutes; the sponge should be golden on top.
Remove the pudding from the oven and let it cool for 2-3 minutes. Place a plate on top of the Bundt pan, then quickly but firmly turn the plate and pan upside down to release the cake onto the plate.. You may need to loosen the edges very slightly with a knife before you flip it.
Serve with hot custard.

HOT CUSTARD INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 egg yolks

Heat cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla until hot but not boiling. Remove from heat, whisk the egg yolks, then whisk in the hot liquid 1/4 cup at a time to avoid scrambling.


el rancho harpo

They're Here

by: Debra

The truffles have arrived, yippee! Other than that, the move is sucking. The place still hasn't been painted, the floor isn't finished, the satellite guy doesn't have the pieces he needs, the refrigerator is due any minute and I'm supposed to be out of my current abode by 5 o'clock and nothing has been packed because there is no where to put it. Now I know why I never made the successful transition from military to civilian life. This would never, and I mean never as long as one troop was standing, would a job be done as half assed as this one was.

Plus, I think Jose skipped town and left me holding his $30K in bail bonds, so I'm a little depressed and very much scared.

Thank goodness for the truffles. Thank goodness for Minstrel Boy. Right now he is my savior.

Of course things could always be worse. This could be the beginning of my day instead of the almost the middle.

Debsweb


· ·

Testing, 1, 2, 3...

by: blackdog

null

Just practicing, anyone who says "user friendly" to me will get a nine-iron in a sensitive place.

Learning Dolphin is really tough.

Keith Olbermann: This Is Crap.

by: Foiled Goil

Keith O. rants and growls, again.

Keith Olbermanns Special Comment on todays Countdown was a scathing rebuke of President Bush for continuing to play the fear card, trying to scare the hell out of the American people and vowing to veto any FISA legislation that does not contain telecom amnesty.

Excerpts:
You are a liar, Mr. Bush, and after showing some skill at it, you have ceased to even be a very good liar.

And your minions like John Boehner your Republican congressional crash dummies who just happen to decide to walk out of Congress when a podium-full of microphones await them they should just keep walking, out of Congress and if possible, out of the country.

For they and you, sir have no place in a government of the people, by the people, for the people.

The lot of you, are the symbolic descendants of the despotic middle managers of some banana republic, to whom Freedom is an ironic brand name, a word you reach for, when you want to get away with its opposite.

Thus, Mr. Bush, your panoramic invasion of privacy is dressed up as protecting America.

If you believe in the seamless mutuality of government and big business come out and say it!

There is a dictionary definition, one word that describes that toxic blend.

Youre a fascist get them to print you a t-shirt with fascist on it!

What else is this but fascism?

Did you see Mark Klein on this newscast last November?

Mark Klein was the AT&T Whistleblower, the one who explained in the placid, dull terms of your local neighborhood I-T desk, how he personally attached all AT&T circuits everything carrying every one of your phone calls, every one of your e-mails, every bit of your web browsing into a secure room, room number 641-A at the Folsom Street facility in San Francisco, where it was all copied so the government could look at it.

Not some of it, not just the international part of it, certainly not just the stuff some spy a spy both patriotic and telepathic might able to divine had been sent or spoken by or to a terrorist.

Everything!

Every time you looked at a naked picture.

Every time you bid on eBay.

Every time you phoned in a donation to a Democrat.

My thought was, Mr. Klein told us last November, George Orwells 1984. And here I am, forced to connect the big brother machine.

And if theres one thing we know about Big Brother, Mr. Bush, is that he is you are a liar.

This Saturday at midnight, you said today, legislation authorizing intelligence professionals to quickly and effectively monitor terrorist communications will expire. If Congress does not act by that time, our ability to find out who the terrorists are talking to, what they are saying, and what they are planning, will be compromisedYou said that the lives of countless Americans depend on you getting your way.

This is crap.

And you sling it, with an audacity and a speed unrivaled even by the greatest political felons of our history.
Crooks and Liars has the transcript and videos.


· · ·
14 February 2008

Valentine Food Porn

by: Konagod



Go ahead. Click one. You know damn well you want more.


Sweet Mother of Jesus!


Gigantic hugs to the Truffle Lord.


This is the Fight

by: blackdog

From Huffington Post

Has there ever been a more repugnant example of political pandering than John McCain's decision to vote against a bill banning waterboarding, putting hoods on prisoners, forcing them to perform sex acts, subjecting them to mock executions, or depriving them of food, water, and medical treatment? That's right, John McCain, the former POW who has long been an outspoken critic of the Bush administration's disturbing embrace of extreme interrogation techniques. But that was before he put his conscience in leg irons -- and before caving to the would-be Torquemadas on the Right became his campaign strategy. This unconscionable capitulation should drive a stake through the heart of the McCain-as-straight-talker meme once and for all.


And all I really want for next Christmas is a few truffles and some clean socks. Maybe a pork BBQ dinner this evening, although I really can't afford it, but then fuck it. I'll do it anyway and regrets come tomorrow.

For the socks I might just fire up my washing machine, but for the BBQ I go to Nick's. My really older most nasty socks go to my repukelican adversaries. They may play with them with abandon.

Same with my older underwear, wear them on your head, you filthy repukelikans and dance around like fools. That's the only thing you're decent at.

Calling in that BBQ right now.

Don't give me no shit.

My Favorite Representative

by: blackdog

Thank gawd this creature isn't from my state of confusion.

John Boner, (R) Ohio. Maybe we could get him a date with that weird-o from Idaho that misuses restrooms in public facilities then can't figure out whether he's innocent or guilty. You know, that "handsy" or "footsy" thing. Bet he'd get a "boner" from Boehner.

From Think Progress:

On the House floor today, House Minority Leader John Boehner (Boner) (R-OH) led Republicans in a walkout in protest of the contempt vote, alleging it is a partisan fishing expedition. The GOP is pushing for the House to approve the Senates version of the Protect America Act, which includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications firms. Boehner declared:

We will not stand for this, and we will not stay for this. And I would ask my House Republican colleagues and those who believe we should be protecting the American people, to not vote on this bill. Lets just get up and leave. (Applause)

I just love it when repukelikans regurgitate on their shoes. They have not a clue and obviously could not give a shit about anything that really counts to the average citizen. Anyone voting for any of these preposterous idiots is throwing their own interests into the trash.

A decent sign, "Even without the Republicans, the House contempt vote against Miers and Bolten passed, 223-32".

Bejebus, I hate these guys.

Toys For Texas

by: Foiled Goil

Texas Ban On Sex Toy Sales Is Overturned

AP News:

A federal appeals court has overturned a statute outlawing sex toy sales in Texas, one of the last states all in the South to retain such a ban.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Texas law making it illegal to sell or promote obscene devices, punishable by as many as two years in jail, violated the right to privacy guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. []


In its decision Tuesday, the appeals court cited Lawrence and Garner v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court's 2003 opinion that struck down bans on consensual sex between same-sex couples.

"Just as in Lawrence, the state here wants to use its laws to enforce a public moral code by restricting private intimate conduct," the appeals judges wrote. "The case is not about public sex. It is not about controlling commerce in sex. It is about controlling what people do in the privacy of their own homes because the state is morally opposed to a certain type of consensual private intimate conduct. This is an insufficient justification after Lawrence." []



Happy Valentine's Day, y'all!



· · ·
13 February 2008

Writers Vote Back To Work (i decide to be a slacker)

by: Minstrel Boy

The WGA appears to have gotten a very satisfactory deal. They were more concerned with no allowing any rollbacks than gaining any ground, and they got that. Plus some extras. They got past a group of producers who were intent on breaking the union, they held together.

Bravo Writers!

The next question I get asked is "Does this mean you'll be back in the jingle stroll?" Probably not. While observing me making this last batch of truffles, my mother, and my friend April both commented that they were seeing me operate with a passion and a joy that is mostly missing from my music. It felt good. It felt right. I will probably still keep my hand in by playing with my folk/blues gig. But, the main focus for the next year or so will be finishing up my health stuff. There's still some major work to be done on the hip, knee, and feet. Beyond that, I will be a truffle maker.

It feels good. I'm liking it.

truffle heaven
12 February 2008

John McBush

by: Foiled Goil

McCain: Like hope, but different


Well, good luck with that.

Think Progress:

McCain: Anyone Who Worries About How Long Were In Iraq Does Not Understand The Military
Speaking to reporters in Richmond, VA last night, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) attacked anyone who points out that he is fine with keeping U.S. troops in Iraq for 100 or more years. Anyone who worries about how long were in Iraq does not understand the military and does not understand war, said McCain.

He then added that it is really almost insulting to ones intelligence to question how long were in Iraq because he believes the current strategy is succeeding.

By dismissing as nave those concerned with how long the U.S. military is mired in Iraq, McCain is claiming that top officials in the Pentagon dont understand the military or war as well as he does. In a recent GOP presidential debate, McCain argued, Im the expert on Iraq.

By McCains logic, both the Army Chief of Staff and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff dont understand the military as well as he does.



· · · ·

Shipping Day

by: Minstrel Boy

I have been tallying up the truffles and am going to be putting up a half batch of Raspberry and Bittersweets just in case.

Damn. You'd have thought 16 dozen would have been adequate. I will publish the folks who are shipped today. If you are missed scream loud and I'll get it handled.

UPDATE

From the just when you thought you had shit handled department when the phone rings and the day disappears from your grasp.

Shipping will be first thing in the morning tomorrow. The flavors are hereby adjusted to be spice and bittersweet.

Sheesh. Gotta shut this down and get out of the house before the phone rings again.

harp and sword

The Bubba Factor

by: Konagod

Are significant numbers of Republicans impacting the Democratic primary results? That's my question. This next question was posed in an article in the Washington Post.
Do evangelical and other conservative voters have enough pull in Virginia to provide Huckabee with another upset?

I guess the answer depends on how many Republicans, acknowledging that McCain is going to be the nominee regardless of Huckabee's showing, will crossover to vote in the Democratic primary to select the candidate they feel is most likely to be defeated by McCain in a general election.



more...
11 February 2008

Live Truffle Blogging: Raspberry

by: Minstrel Boy



There really aren't many combinations more perfect than the marriage of raspberries and dark chocolate. I haven't had a sip of alcohol in fifteen years, but I can still taste the exquisite combination of a raspberry truffle and some dry champagne.

It's a combination not to be missed. Again, I had to improvise on the decoration today. The normal way I do these is to sprinkle with some bright red sugar crystals and then stripe with white. Since I couldn't find my sugars I just striped with red and white.




I think it came out OK.

This concludes the live truffle blogging portion of the show. I figured nobody much would be interested in the live cleaning up the bloody kitchen part. The machine needs to be broken down and thoroughly cleaned, then the counters, then the floors.

But Look!




I think it was worth the effort made and the effort to come. I'll be packing up tomorrow morning and shipping. I'm excited. How about you?

harp and sword

Live Truffle Blogging: Jenna's Crystallized Ginger

by: Minstrel Boy

These are the truffles that take the longest to make. The first part is to spend the five days it takes to crystalize the ginger. Store bought stuff is pale and tame compared to the home made version.



After that, it is merely a case of adding in little, tiny, chunks of diced crystallized ginger to the ganache. Then dip and decorate. Normally I use a dusting of yellow sugar crystals in the decorations but when I went looking for them they were not to be found. So, we have to make do with simple yellow stripes.



The flavors are delicious. I'm a huge chocolate purist, my favorite truffle is the one that is chocolate and nothing else. I make an exception for these. They are superb.

harp and sword

Live Truffle Blogging: Sofia's Mexicali Spice

by: Minstrel Boy


These are special. I started a thing several years ago where I named truffles after kids in the family. The grand daughter of a close friend is a totally charming nine year old. She gets her issue of truffles from every batch. Her name is Sofia. Two years ago she demanded that I create a flavor that would be named after her, and reflect the heritage of Mexico.



I first tried using already prepared Mexican chocolate, Ibarra and Arbeulita. I had zero success using them for ganache. After much wonderful experimentation I finally hit upon the correct proportions of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger which accurately reflected the Aztec and Mayan beginnings of chocolate. These are much less sweet, the taste of the spices, all of which are psychoactive in one way or another jumps and lingers. It's not bullying though. The flavors are pronounced but still quite polite.



There is a whole raft of chocolatiers who are doing things like using cayenne and habaneros in chocolate. There's even a couple of crackheads in L.A. that uses cumin and garlic in their chocolates. I am far more restrained with the flavorings and less inhibited with throwing out monster doses of dark, high quality chocolate.

These are special though. Eating one of these will harken back to the days where the making and consuming of chocolate was wrapped up in strong voodoo, with human sacrifice thrown in for good measure.



I promise no republicans were harmed in the making of these truffles. I thought about it, but I did not. After all, the Aztec and Maya insisted on Human sacrifices. Most republicans don't qualify there.



Soundtrack for this phase of dipping was Bruce Springsteen singing Jersey Girl, sha-la-la-la, indeed.

harp and sword

Live Truffle Blogging

by: Minstrel Boy

Since I am being sent into fits of giddy delight by the overpowering smell of chocolate and the joy of working equipment I declare this to be the day of Live Truffle Blogging.

Especially for the folks who have been so patient with my breakdowns and the amount of time it took to get the stuff out. If you have a claim on some of these be prepared to feast your eyes. It will be no time at all before you are feasting for real.



UPDATE


12:30 Pacific Time: The Bittersweets are all dipped and trimmed. There are four boxes that look just like this. In solidarity with your patience I haven't even scarfed one yet.

harp and sword

Dipping Day

by: Minstrel Boy

The first step with dipping is to melt the 70% cocoa mass bittersweet chocolate. Here's three pounds just starting.




Pretty cool. To temper chocolate the first step is to melt it to a temperature of 99°. While the chocolate is being stirred (where a tempering machine really proves its worth with a rotating bowl and a scraper) it is slowly cooled to 92° while tempered chocolate is added in. This aligns the molecules of fat which will result in a tight, shiny, tempered chocolate shell.



The above is ready to begin dipping. It's about 2 1/2 pounds that has been held at 92° for ten minutes while tempered chocolate is added in as the bowl spins. The smell in the kitchen is intoxicating.

I forgot to add that the temperature in the room is just below 65°. That's where good chocolate sets up right.




Pretty cool huh? The soundtrack for writing this while more chocolate melts has been Mistral Gagnat by the sublime Lara Fabien.

More to come as the day progresses.

harp and sword


Rearranging The Deck Chairs

by: Debra

Uh-oh, people are starting to do math. And not liking the results. How many rats have to desert a sinking ship before it's officially sunk?

Data encryption so good that the government can't break it, what a concept. And it's only $200. Too bad businesses and the government don't use it to protect our information, but they prefer to use those kinds of tools to spy on their employees and citizens. In the name of public safety, of course.

As if anybody actually thought that the troops were going to come home. Something really bad happened to that "government of the people, by the people, for the people", I think it perished from the earth.

Maybe people eat more because they figure they've saved the calories somewhere else? Like having a diet drink to go with your cheesecake. That's a savings of almost 150 calories. Yes, I'm being sarcastic.

Hmm, Bank of America is being added to the Dow. I guess they've harvested enough of their customer's money to be considered industrious. Chevron gets to be added because of the growing importance of oil and gas. And the enormous profits don't hurt, I'm sure.

Gary Bauer endorses McCain. What can be said after that?

Debsweb


· · ·
10 February 2008

The Black Curtain

by: Dark Wraith

Comes now a story of our country and our times. Originating in video from investigative reporting at WKYC in Stark County, Ohio, the incident has now been retold at Raw Story and other sites.

This is the YouTube version of the broadcast from WKYC. (A previous version of the video on YouTube is no longer available, and this one may suffer the same fate once Google's censors find out it's up.) Watch the entire thing. Full volume. Try not to flinch. Try not to vomit.



When you're finished watching the video of the strip search, go ask your favorite candidate of "hope" and "change" and all those other lies just exactly what he or she is going to do to end this rising nightmare of an authoritarian state.

No, seriously. Don't find some reason why your choice for Heir to Empire is not responsible. He or she is. They all want to lead this country? Then let them explain precisely how they plan to lead it away from this mess.

Ask those Democrats and Republicans running for office when enough will be enough. Ask them when they plan to stop spewing their sweet little nothings. Ask them if they will vow to their very God or perhaps even to that piece of paper we call the Constitution of the United States of America to take upon themselves the enormous task of throwing every monster of this spreading blackness of sovereign violence—from George W. Bush and Richard V. Cheney all the way down to the very last, badge-wearing jackboot on the beat—into prison to rot.

Afraid to offend your fave candidate of "hope" and "change"? Afraid to burst the bubble of your own fantasy of "hope" and "change"? Watch the video again. Listen to the screams.

Those could very well be yours someday.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums


· · ·

Dope-in-Chief on Faux News

by: blackdog

Fair and balanced. This morning I did not watch faux news to endure more of the shrub as it dithered on about things that are really beyond it's comprehension, the most important one being just telling the truth. Shrub couldn't tell the truth to save itself. Speaking about Senator McCain, who we should all know that he loathes, even though the Senator actually for some damned reason or other actually hugged the shrub once in a photo-op in the Congress, the shrub said this:

I know the principles that drive him. And no doubt in my mind hes a true conservative.

Now that is really saying something. Anyone today know what TF this idiot is talking about? Conservative? In what? A $3.1 trillion budget that has virtually nothing in it that is sound for the nation, just more of the same old bullshit that has been so well shown not to work now for so long. Don't even get me started about what we need in infrastructure improvement that actually allows Americans to do commerce and be a part of the economy.

One of these days the bill might come due:

"He believes that tax cuts ought to be permanent. Hes pro-life. I mean, hes a his principles are sound and solid as far as Im concerned."

Taking this from a complete idiot that through it's connections was able to steal the 2000 election, and most likely the 2004 election as well makes me desperate to go out and crawl under a rock, if there was only a large enough rock around here. Also this from a dickhead that joked about the death of a Texas prisoner who had shown remorse before her execution, what a great christer bastard.

"If the Democrat Party feels like they can win an election by focusing on me, I think theyd be making a huge tactical mistake."

This coming from the "Mission Accomplished" idiot-in-chief, as if it never made more that a few tactical or even strategic mistakes. Notice that it continues to use the term 'democrat party" again. I may just stoop to referring to the Republican party as the "buttfuck party". Everything this fool has touched in it's entire life has gone belly up, without the silver spoon sticking out of it's ass it would have never made it past it's 20s.

And to think that Chris Wallace, the son of Mike is working with a vengeance at faux news?? Sucking up to the shrub like it must be the ticket to eternity? Damn, I feel for Mike Wallace, that must be tough.

This sort of crap from the "fair and balanced" faux news really chaps my ass.

Update:

The dumbshit-in-chief leaves the Blacksheep Chris Wallace with a real shiner:

"You're the pundit. I'm just a simple president."

It should have said stimple pResident with a propensity to stick firecrackers into frogs and toads and blow them the fuck up, cause it's so damn fun, and they can't really fight back.

But of course the shrub couldn't utter such words easily, a big one like propensity is surly beyond it.

Gotta go for a walk or I may blow up.

As I head to the door to collect the real blackdog and take that walk I am reminded of the real health penalties of this kind of thinking. After being hospitalized three times last year I must have had my vitals recorded a few thousand times, and my blood pressure was usually normal, sometimes surprisingly low, at least for me. But one time a nurse visited me at my folk's home to treat my bandages and I was looking at the front page of the local rag with a big picture of the shrub on it while he was taking my blood pressure. It was pretty high.

Yeah, I'm going for that walk with the Woof.

Going right now, no more damn edits.

BUT I CANNOT RESIST:

Saith the shrub: I certainly dont know what he believes in. The only foreign policy thing I remember he said was hes going to attack Pakistan and embrace Ahmadinejad.

One More Time:

WALLACE: How does [McCain] overcome all of that and

BUSH: Because theres two big issues. One is, whos going to keep your taxes low? Most Americans feel overtaxed and I promise you the Democrat [sic] party is going to field a candidate who says Im going to raise your tax.

If theyre going to say, oh, were only going to tax the rich people, but most people in America understand that the rich people hire good accountants and figure out how not to necessarily pay all the taxes and the middle class gets stuck.

Weve had weve been through this drill before. Were only going to tax the rich and all you have to do is look at the history of that kind of language and see who gets stuck with the bill.



Now what did that mean? Anyone what to venture a guess?

One More:

"And as far as history goes and all of these quotes about people trying to guess what the history of the Bush administration is going to be, you know, I take great comfort in knowing that they don't know what they are talking about, because history takes a long time for us to reach."

Still another:

"And secondly I believe the Iraq democracy is going to take hold and it's very hard to write the future history of America before the current history hasn't been fully written."

Try A Little Tenderness

by: Debra

Jolly Roger is losing his mom. It's been a slow and painful process and my heart goes out to him. I only understand a little of what he is going through, but it will shortly be my path also and then I'll know all I need to. If only my brothers could follow your advice.



JR, if you need anything, anything, just ask.




· ·

Rolling With My Homies

by: Minstrel Boy

Today is truffle rolling day. Made even more exquisite by the unannounced arrival of the lovely April late last night. One of the best improvements in my life the move to California has brought me is that April is now free to just show up. The downside is that her cell phone goes off and sometimes she has to leave. It didn't happen last night.

We have four large batches of ganache chilled and set to be rolled. There should be about four dozen truffles from each. For those who have forgotten while I dithered and slacked off, the flavors for the Valentine's batch are

Crystallized Ginger
Bittersweet (nothing but chocolate, my personal favorite)
Mexican Spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger - seductive and sensual)
Raspberry

I will keep you apprised. Shipping could be as early as Tuesday.

UPDATE

The truffles are rolled and setting in the refrigerator. Dipping will commmence tomorrow. I am negotiating for my niece to be here to help with photos.

harp and sword

Dem Results To Date

by: Foiled Goil

According to CNN, Obama won Louisiana, Nebraska and Washington in the February 9, 2008 elections.

That now (as of 1:00 AM, Feb. 10) brings the total of delegates to:

Hillary Clinton
Pledged 877 — Superdelegates 223 — Total 1,100

Barack Obama
Pledged 908 — Superdelegates 131 — Total 1,039

____


UPDATE (10:45 PM) February 10, 2008:

With 99% of the Democratic votes in, Obama has won the Maine caucus.

Revised delegate count:

Hillary Clinton
Pledged 924 — Superdelegates 224 — Total 1,148

Barack Obama
Pledged 986 — Superdelegates 135 — Total 1,121


· · ·
09 February 2008

It's That Time Of Year Again

by: Debra

Talk about cycles! Every year just like clockwork, the articles appear. Women belong in their place. Barefoot, pregnant, three steps back and to the right, available for sex at any hour of the day or night, covered and begging to be the slave of some man because she doesn't want to be "lonely".

A bad relationship is not better than no relationship at all. I would rather be single and happy (which I am) than coupled and oppressed (which I was). But that may be because I define myself as an individual, not as an incomplete person who needs outside validation from a husband or child to make me feel like a woman. What a concept.

Of course if some guy wanted to pay all my bills, provide sex when requested and disappear when not wanted, I might be convinced to compromise my principles and whore myself out for some imaginary peace of mind.

Just not in this lifetime.

Debsweb



· ·

Get Ready For a War Party

by: Konagod

ass
I swear I feel as if I am living in a twilight zone. Up until the economy started tanking in 2007, the Iraq war was the single polarizing issue between the political parties. Now with economic concerns surpassing the war in most polls I suppose the Republicans sense this as their green light to jump on the pro-war bandwagon as the single most effective campaign issue for retaining the White House.

Frankly, I am annoyed when I read the poll numbers because the economy and the war are not entirely separate issues. I just hope most Americans realize the hundreds of billions of dollars we have poured into the war effort are connected to the economy. I will give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they do.

I can also hope these concerns about the economy signify a desire among voters to place more emphasis on issues here at home, in each of our 50 states, instead of a massive dump of resources into Iraq. The last thing we need right now is for 70% of our voters, or even 50%, to believe the war issue is in the back seat. It's certainly shaping up as the front-and-center issue for Republicans.

The War Party is starting to lock and load.
Offering a preview of the general election campaign, President Bush sought on Friday to unify the Republican Party behind its presumptive nominee and said the contest would present the country with a stark ideological choice at a time of war.

[...]

Beginning with Mitt Romney, who withdrew from the race on Thursday, warning that he would not abet the surrender to terror, Republicans, including Mr. McCain and Vice President Dick Cheney, have warned darkly that the Democrats were ill-suited and ill-equipped to protect the nation, the same theme that Mr. Bush struck in his successful 2004 re-election campaign.

As blantantly offensive as this is, I expect this will be the Republican issue for 2008. If and when the economy continues to falter during the course of the campaign leading into November, the choice on the ballot will boil down to either four more years of the Bush war, or an economic focus on America coupled with what absolutely has to be a concrete plan to end a war which cannot be won.

I can only hope the rest of the American voters will see and hear this rhetoric and experience the same gut-wrenching repulsion as I do. John McCain has become nothing but a mouthpiece for the war machine.
I guarantee you this: If we had announced a date for withdrawal from Iraq and withdrawn troops the way that Senator Obama and Senator Clinton want to do, Al Qaeda would be celebrating that they had defeated the United States of America and that we surrendered, Mr. McCain said at a rally in Wichita. I will never surrender.

If moderate and liberal voters aren't motivated enough at this point, the fact that Karl Rove is supporting McCain and contributing financially to his campaign should be enough to tip us over the brink.

As for myself, I am beyond angry or livid. I am outraged.

Crossposted from konagod
08 February 2008

Back In The Saddle

by: Debra

It's been a tough week, but I'm finally breathing better. Whistling while you work is one thing, whistling while you breathe is another. Not much has changed in the few days I wasn't able to focus. Stupidity is still running rampant (somebody tell the Archbishop that the UK is not a Muslim country and if someone wants to live under Sharia law, they can go live in a country that practices it, not bring it to a civilized nation that doesn't need it), blatant sexism is on shameless display (What would possess someone to equate a former first daughter with being a hooker? Especially since unlike the current examples in the White House she was never picked up or suspected of wild drinking and drug use.), and very few people think that Bush or Congress are doing a good job. They're right.

Ooh, ooh, supposedly the government is going to send us money in May. Since I don't have kids and will obviously never have grandkids, who is going to pay off the debt? Or doesn't that matter anymore?

Since Bank of America seems to think that I can pay down their sub prime losses by hitting me with bank fees and unfair transaction ordering, how much do you think they will charge for the ability to deposit checks at home? For me, the opportunity to never set foot in the bank again, is priceless, so I'm sure they will want some percentage of my deposit. You know, a convenience charge.

Due process, no longer is. While it sounds like a good idea to use DNA evidence to deny parole to criminals, they are still entitled to a lawyer and a trial. I think it's called justice. Not that we worry about that in this country any more. That's for emerging democracies.

I agree with Hillary, Obama reminds me of a snake oil salesman or Professor Marvel. They speak empty platitudes with accomplished oratorical precision when they are really just fancier versions of Jack Handy.

PZ will be so ...thrilled. I guess it only works when doctors do it. Other than paying down the national debt, why do so many people want babies? That other people are going to raise because people supposedly don't need to work two minimum wage jobs since the economy is fundamentally healthy.

Debsweb


· · ·

Democratic Challenges

by: Foiled Goil

Democratic Race Poses Challenge for Racists, Sexists
Nowhere to Turn, Disgruntled Haters Say


From Andy Borowitz:

With the field for the Democratic presidential nomination narrowed to Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, racists and sexists are finding themselves in a quandary over which candidate to support, prominent racists and sexists confirmed today.

Across the U.S., voters who describe themselves as both racist and sexist complain that the two-person field, while touted by the media as history-making, is forcing them to ask a difficult question: which group do they hate more?

Ive always seen myself as pretty balanced, racist and sexist-wise, said Herb Torlinson, a hardware salesman from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. But I guess this is going to be an election that really puts my different hates to the test.

Mr. Torlinson also chastised the media for celebrating the historic nature of the Democratic field: Anyone whos happy about these two choices cant call himself a racist or a sexist.

At the Clapboard Corner Caf in Youngstown, Ohio, a group of sexist bigots who gather for breakfast once a week echoed Mr. Torlinsons sentiments.

I actually cried when John Edwards dropped out of the race, said David Colehurn, a disgruntled hater who works at a nearby Kinkos. I cant believe that we dont have a regular person to vote for this year.

Mr. Colehurn said that his virulent racism and sexism were causing him to entertain thoughts of voting for a Republican, but added that he was turned off by Arizona Sen. John McCain: I hate old people.

Elsewhere, after a new study revealed that cannabis causes gum disease, singer Amy Winehouse said, Thats why Im sticking with crack.



· ·
07 February 2008

by: blackdog

Part of an AP article I stole from somewhere:


But the White House on Wednesday defended the use of waterboarding, saying it could still be legal in some situations. White House spokesman Tony Fratto said President Bush could authorize waterboarding for future terrorism suspects in certain situations, including "belief that an attack might be imminent."

The president would first consult with the attorney general and intelligence officials before authorizing its use, Fratto said.

For the first time, the Bush administration publicly acknowledged the CIA waterboarded detainees following the 9/11 terrorist attacks when Hayden testified the technique was used on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubayda and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri in 2002 and 2003.

The House Judiciary Committee's top Republican, Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, said he hopes the "administration will not be defensive about using some admittedly harsh but non-lethal interrogation techniques."

"Would you agree with me that 99 percent of the American people would probably endorse such techniques if they would be shown to save thousands of American lives and were conducted only on terrorists?" Smith asked Mukasey.

"I can't sit here and say what I think 99 percent of people would do," Mukasey answered.

"You can't but I can," Smith said. "I understand that."


What a total dickhead, a reprehensible from Texas. Why don't these assholes just use needle nose pliers and pull off fingernails, toenails, or just crush testicles. With proper medical care after the fact, that shouldn't be lethal either. For that matter, simply consult history, utilize some of the techniques practiced by the inquisitors, or by some of my favorites, the patriarchs in Salem Massachusetts?

And while we are at it, fuck the international community, they are mostly wrong and we don't need them anyway. Gawd bless the usa, he's on our side in this time of war.

Bejeebus, I wish some of these asshats would pull their heads out of their asses and just fucking look around.

Is it possible to stick your foot so far into your mouth that it sticks out your ass and re-enters your mouth? And if so, where does this paradox end? Will you implode the cosmic all if you attempt this and really push?

I know, you will become a republikan blackhole, maybe even a whitehole, depending on your preference. You can spout out tremendous loads of shit, or suck in equally tremendous amounts of whatever it may be, with absolutely no thought or care about tomorrow. Amazing properties of these primordial particles which began life looking like examples of humanity, common sense, ideas and real thought are actually repelled by them to the opposite of an attractive force, funny though, in this case it's an I/R^3 relationship.

Still smokin' outa these here ears.

Grr.

Asking For Vision (Day 4 , Itsa Ga'an)

by: Minstrel Boy

Ga'an is an Apache word which has almost no counterpart in English. There are dancers who call themselves ga'an who the white folks call crown dancers. Ok. That's not what they are but if you want to call the elaborate headresses they wear crowns, fine by me, fine by us. Sometimes when trying to talk about a ga'an the proper word is ghost. Although that one caused no small amount of problem. Ghost dancers? No, we don't want anybody thinking about that. Wouvoka, the Paiute shaman, tried to get his Ghost Dance religion started among the Apache. The chief Nana told him to "Never mind, we'll all be ghosts soon enough."

When somebody is dancing as a ga'an it's a strange state. The idea is not so much to try and become what you are dancing, but to allow that entity, be it an animal, a force of nature, or a legendary figure to inhabit you. I don't become a golden eagle when I dance as Itsa (golden eagle) Ga'an, I try to be open enough to let eagle come into me.

My cousin, the brilliant attorney, and I have danced as Itsa Ga'an since we were kids. We grew up pretty much as best friends our whole lives. Not that we have taken the same paths, far from it, but we have always had a trust, a connection, a respect, a bond, and above all, a deep love for each other that has always transcended our differing interests and viewpoints. I trust him with my life, and the lives of my children, and he trusts me back the same way. This connection is what makes it special when we dance. We're both much older now. I'm just a bit shy of 60, my cousin is only two years behind me. We aren't going to wow anybody with our beautiful trim bodies or our effortless muscle control. We won't thrill the critics with our flawless technique. What they will see is a couple of old beat up warriors doing the best they can, dancing together and having a ball.

It takes a while to become Ga'an. It starts with blacking out the lower part of the face with charcoal. Watching your own face disappear behind the blackness is the first step of letting go of yourself. For the rest I like to start at the bottom and go up. I pull on my moccaisins and wrap the leggings around them. These are grass mats that have eagle feathers woven into them. This is followed by a decorated kilt, and a sash trimmed with more eagle feathers. A bustle of tail feathers arranged in a circle straps onto the small of the back. For the wings, there are two supple willow rods that are joined by a rawhide thong, these have flight feathers tied all the way up their length. When the arms are moved the feathers move and twist individually.

Last is a wooden headress. Carved and painted to look like the head of an eagle. This is also trimmed with feathers. Usually around two eagles are needed to get the feathers for a costume. The way it is usually done is that a holy person (men and women do this) will trap a young eagle and keep it for a couple of moulting cycles. They collect the feathers as they come off. Eagles are not killed to make these costumes. That would ruin everything for this dance.

When we have the costumes on my cousin and I paint each other. White and black stripes down the arms, black hands, red and yellow dots on our chests. Then we stand back and look at each other. Sometimes there's some touch up to do, but, at some point we see each other and know. We are still indii (apache humans) but we are also Ga'an. Then we go out.

The drums begin. There are about six drummer/singers to each drum. Silas is leading one drum and he begins to sing.

Si' -Zi' by' d yd hiljij di' di' isza'ni' tc' nd

(we dance inside a circle of men and women they say)

s' 'n yii hd yd lz tc'ndi

(long life inside a circle is made they say)

We lean forward and take four short hops to the right. Leaning with our left arms down, right arms up. Then a tight hopping circle to the right.

by' d yd hljj 's' ' n yi tc' ndi

(inside our circle dances long life they say)

Four hops to the left and a circle to the left. Damn this hurt. Blasted damned leg. I can feel the damage being done. It does hurt. I am glad that my face is blackened. I must be stoic. I am Ga'an.

yxidl g dy keh'h gj zeeh tslit' tc'ndi

(having been prepared, he walks, friends, they say)

btct'd bt' n n ni s tsz

(underneath our blanket rests mother earth)

Now we face each other and begin to dance toward the other. We are mimicing the way eagles meet in the wild. Closing in, darting back. Reaching out with the beak. This lets me favor my bad leg. My cousin also knows this and takes over the lead part. He does most of the moving and allows me some time to recover. One move I have, that almost nobody else can do is because of my fused left ankle. I can plant my heel, and spin on it. I do that now and watch the look of amazement on the face of Tsa-Ka'alim. There are many singers joining in with Silas now. The volume of the voices and the drums is intoxicating. Uplifting. Transporting. I. Am. Ga'an.

ngstst'n bik' d'i tc'dsdj '

(on top of the earth our people are gathered about)

by t' jon bnts k'es jon' bdlk jon

(their talking is in beauty, their thoughts are in beauty, their laughter is beautiful)

We begin to dance closer to each other, with me following my cousin's lead, he is merciful and leads away from my bad side. We begin leaning very low, and start to make an ever widening circle, rising as we circle. We are trying to convey the image of eagles sharing a thermal in a canyon and rising high into the air.

bn lz' ' t' ' d' j d d b' lt' g'

(their wealth is of all kinds, good, uncountable)

yxidl g dy tc'ndi

(having been prepared, he walks, they say)

We now are making a circuit of the space. Moving our arms very slightly to give the impressions of flight. Like eagles, we mainly hold our wings cupped slightly, soaring. My leg is still complaining. I don't care. I. Am. Ga'an.

djn' i b b' ' gny ' yh

(sun beside them, before them forms mirage)

bi' gny g' deyh tc'ndi

(mirage forms before them as they walk they say)

We tighten our circles, weaving in and out of each other's line and path. We tighten and lessen the length of our steps. We straighten fully erect as we twitch our wrists to mimic the landing of eagles.

's' ' nyi k'h gj g' yxidl g dyh tc'ndi

(long life, good is theirs, having been prepared, he walks they say)

We stand very still. Very. Still. The silence of the people is huge. We cover our faces to leave the circle. We hide because we are just humans again. The Ga'an has left the building, so to speak. We don't want to spoil the illusion by letting them see our human faces.

We take off our costumes in complete silence. Finally, the last step is to clean our faces. We haven't spoken a word. My cousin's face says to me "How are you doing?" I croak out "Ice. I need ice."

My sister, my new niece, Girl Who is Loved by the Ravens, come into the room. Silas is with them. They all have ice.

harp and sword

Where to Help Tornado Victims

by: Minstrel Boy

Right Here.

Go.

Give.

harp and sword
06 February 2008

Wednesday Afternoon, belated.

by: blackdog

Having read a majority of the more astute and wonderful about what happened yesterday I find that I am almost ready to go to sleep and forget about most of it, having survived the awful storms that ravaged parts of the South and killed many. But those storms are simply atmospheric phenomena and have no intent, they act in a random pattern when the conditions are right for them. Just hope you are not in the path of one.

I've noticed a sound that only cats can make is becoming more obvious, the terrible noise of democrats tearing each other to shreds over really stupid issues when you have a monster in the WH with a plethora of repug candidates each trying to outdo each other to make their administration a continuation of the existing POS. Like a bunch of dimwitted christers arguing over how to perform a baptism.

Well pardon the fuck out of me, but I offer a different course.

We have been on this particular road for at least a decade, notwithstanding the Clinton Administration, which was beset by a repug congress and suffered the extreme humiliation of a fucking impeachment, over a fucking blowjob. High crimes and misdemeanors. But never forget, once upon a time we had a fucking surplus, an expanding economy, and a fairly peaceful existence with the rest of the world. If Clinton had a parking ticket buttfuck Starr would have spent millions pursuing it.

Not that Clinton got it all right, but he made far fewer mistakes and obvious blunders than the idiot we have now. In fact, if it hadn't been for the right-wingers getting the upper hand in the congress things today might have been much more different.

Anyway, I'm venting some steam, got lots coming out of both ears right now.

So, back to my issue, everyone shut the fuck up and absolutely refuse to allow another damned repug to occupy the WH this next term.

No fighting, not now. Get behind me Satan and push. No more nightmares. No more shrubs, real or imagined.

Dims stand together, and if there is any one reason to be a dim, it may be that you are sick of ever having been a repug. Not my problem, but then I am being magnanimous. I don't act this way often. Now is the time for all good men ...

And women, damnit. If the Dim candidate is Hillary or Barak, get behind them and shove as hard as you can. At the very least, vote. You don't do that, you have no right to bitch about anything to me. Otherwise we have another 4 years of the same old shit, that may really be what it takes to turn this nation forever into a mode none of us wanted to see.

There, I feel a little better, and I fully expect to be roasted and crucified for this. I accept all challengers.

Grrr

This being a rant and all, watch out, the Woof really bites.



Update:

Clinton could at least speak and sound like he knew something, a quality the current occupier of the WH obliviously lacks.
05 February 2008

Sad Anniversary

by: Foiled Goil

The Day The Music Died:

On February 5, 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the United Nations to rally support for an invasion of Iraq.

His presentation contained little substance and numerous obvious flaws, and the international community was unimpressed.

Americas mainstream media, however, declared it compelling.

For a nation living in the ghostly shadow of the twin towers, the medias Good Warmaking seal of approval was enough to keep that treasonous question why? relatively unheard.

The costs in lives, money, reputation, and more of this war of whim are nearly incalculable.

This years fifth anniversary coincides with a Super Tuesday primary like no other. As Americans across the country go to the polls, a couple of hundred thousand American troops, contractors, and mercenaries are still stewing in Americas longest and most ill-conceived war.

If you have thoughts and recollections about the fateful day of Powells presentation, and the festival of lies and ignorance that preceded it, please send them to vastleft AT vastleft DOT com between now and February 5th. E-mailed commentaries, links to existing posts from back in the day or anytime since, and new posts on your site are all good however you would like to express yourself about that surreal, world-changing period.

We plan to crosspost some of the most memorable submissions on the dayofshame.com blog and on correntewire.com.
Thank you for helping commemorate the tragic day two days after the anniversary of Buddy Hollys, Ritchie Valenss and the Big Boppers death [February 3, 1959] the day the music really died.


· · · ·

Universal Health care -- A Universal Myth

by: Gary

I am in support of both Barack Obama & Hillary Clinton for President of the United States of America. I think either will do a magnificent job in this position.

Yes, I think one will attempt more radical change, than the other.

Yes, I think one brings more experience to the position from day one.

Yes, I think both have baggage that will haunt them right to the day of the election, and beyond.

These are very big historical shoes that they are trying to fill. The pressure for those who are either female or African-American, perhaps both, with aspirations of some day leading this nation; all those future hopes lie in the hands of these two and how they deliver on promises in this highly challenging coming term.

Where I don't support either of them is on so-called "Universal Health care."

This label, "universal" is lobbed around as nothing more than a political hot button. Well it lands cold in my lap! Neither of them is proposing something that is "universal." Neither will offer guaranteed coverage to every American citizen, and that is the only thing that will satisfy the definition of "universal."

What they want to do is mandate, in one way, or another, that every American be covered by an insurance company.

Right there is flaw number 1!

And it's the biggest of the flaws.

Chief in the problems facing our current system isn't just the lack of coverage for those uninsured, it's
the lack of coverage for those who ARE insured!

I see no point in requiring Americans to purchase insurance so long as the insurance companies aren't required to honor coverage.

We can't have "universal health care" until such time as the money is either taken from the insurance industry, or the industry functions to protect those it insures; not those that provide care or their own bottom line. Insurance companies that can't function profitably without denying legitimate claims shouldn't be allowed to survive. It's really that simple. My life, your life, and the health of every American shouldn't be decided by a simple glance a red or black ink.
Shouldn't Americans demand better than this?!

Health care should be guaranteed every American by a system that cares for them, not a political issue that tries to balance the needs of the sick & injured against the lobby money of the insurance industry. That's not health care, its legitimized medical discrimination!

Universal health care can't be claimed
so long as any American can be denied coverage because of a "pre-existing condition."

Universal health care can't be claimed so long as any American is forced to choose between the medication that keeps them functioning and the food they need to live.

Universal health care can't be claimed so long as any American is denied medical treatment for any reason, under any circumstance, and for any cause.

That is not universal healthcare.

It is something quite less.

Moreover, the current proposals from both of them will only push the burden to employers to give coverage to "all employees" without requiring the insurance industry to guarantee service to all insured, no matter the claim. This only feathers the nests of the insurance companies, and drains the cash of private businesses, and consumers. In some cases, this mandate could be enough to shutter some labor intensive businesses. And in the cases where it doesn't, I can assure you those costs will be passed along. The result: inflation for a start!

The answer to this problem is so very simple, raise taxes across the nation, like so many other leaders around the globe have done, and use this money to pay for the universal care of every American in every situation without care for social status, employment status, marital status, or any other criteria.

I am sick of the bogus arguments against this!

People say it will cost them too much.

Well, think on that for one second.

If you are already insured, then that expense goes away.

If you are an employer, think of the new found capital this would provide if you didn't have to pay premiums.

If you are or aren't insured, consider some unforeseen accident that leaves you in dire need to care, but without the resources to pay for it...Wouldn't you rather pay for it with your taxes, then risk loosing your home, your credit rating, or worse to the current system?

Imagine instead, a system where you can never be denied? You are sick, you go to the Doctor, and it's all taken care of; no co-pay, no bills, no hassle with unpaid claims.

Imagine instead, a system where you never pay for medications once you hit retirement age? You need pills to live, and you just go get them. No cost, no choices between pills or food. No worries over how you will both pay for the heat, and get your blood pressure medication.

Imagine instead, a future where our baby-boomer parents don't lose every bit of their own, or your, retirement savings to medical expenses? No more worries about "what are we going to do if Mom gets sick?"

This is a possibility, and can so easily be made a reality!

So many nations round the world have done this. It has been done! It has been tested!

It works!

We are the ONLY wealthy, industrialized nation that doesn't have a universal system that covers everyone! We are the ONLY one!

Why can't we do something radical and adopt one of these existing systems?

Imagine the difference in your life, and the lives of those you love, when you take the burden of health care and make it a right of life.

Why not raise taxes for a good reason?

Who wouldn't want this? Simply ask them to consider every sick person in their lives, think on the burden of insurance, what if it was never a consideration again? What if every pill was paid for? What if every procedure was covered?

What if we raised taxes so that we could all live?

This is a no-brainer, but also a non-starter for both Barack & Hillary. That's why, even though I will be thrilled to have either of them as my President, I can't support what either of them would have me believe to be "universal health care."





· · · · ·

Stooporday

by: blackdog

At this point I really could care less about what the rest of the nation is up to, I've heard enough of dimwits, of which I may be a member, explain about how they choose their candidate and how that is important to them.

If anyone comes up to me this afternoon or tonight and tells me they voted based on their "values" I will plant them in the backyard with my nine-iron. Hopefully with a flowering plant placed atop them. May they hold the stem in an honorable manner.

Tonight holds some measure of promise, if not too much entertainment, I advise a walk around the block in that event. We should be getting some strong storms tonight, and you can bet it isn't coming from the deflated repugs. They ran out of viagra some years ago. But when they are in your town, respected knowledge says to lock up your booze and women.

It's that family values shit.

Gawd I really love these guys.

What would John Lennon Do? - Israel invites surviving members of THE BEATLES to Jewish state's 60th birthday bash in May

by: Jersey Cynic

From ABCnews:
Israel Apologizes for Beatles Ban, Invites Them to Play

The Yediot Ahronot newspaper quoted extensively from a letter of apology it said Israel's ambassador to London, Ron Prosor, was due to give to slain Beatle John Lennon's sister Julia Baird ......
It said copies of the letter would also be sent to relatives of late guitarist George Harrison and to survivors Paul McCartney, 65, and Ringo Starr, 67. "We should like to take this opportunity to correct the historic omission which to our great regret occurred in 1965, when you were invited to Israel," Yediot quoted the letter as saying. "We should like to see you sing in Israel." In Jerusalem, Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel confirmed that Prosor would meet Baird and invite her to Israel for the gala marking Israel's founding in May 1948. But he said he had no knowledge of any letter of apology or of invitations to Paul and Ringo to perform.



From ynetnews in Israel:
Israel apologizes to The Beatles

From the BBC:
Banned Beatles get Israel invite

and
Some background from Entertainment News and Gossip:

According to Yarden Uriel, the Israeli author of two books about the Beatles, Israel was slow to realise the full force of the group's popularity. "When Beatlemania swept the world, Israel was like a side observer that didn't take part in the actual game," he said, adding that, because the country was short of foreign currency, Mr Ori couldn't get the foreign money to pay the Beatles.

He made an official application to a government committee, which was turned down on the basis, said Uriel, that "too many artists were invited to Israel anyway, and since they felt the band didn't stand on a high cultural and artistic level and had a bad influence over youth, the decision was made: no money should be given to the Beatles".

From Zionism-Israel News
Better Late Than Never - Israel appologizes to the Beatles:

"We would like to take this opportunity," the letter says, "to rectify a historic missed opportunity which unfortunately took place in 1965 when you were invited to Israel. Unfortunately, the State of Israel cancelled your performance in the country due to lack of budget and because several politicians in the Knesset had believed at the time that your performance might corrupt the minds of the Israeli youth.

"There is no doubt that it was a great missed opportunity to prevent people like you, who shaped the minds of the generation, to come to Israel and perform before the young generation in Israel who admired you and continues to admire you."

SO WHAT WOULD JOHN LENNON DO? WHAT DO YOU THINK JOHN LENNON WOULD SAY?

Happiness is a warm gun? - I should have know better? - I don't want to be a soldier? - How do you sleep? -- Revolution?

I'll pick HELP ME TO HELP MYSELF
Well I tried so hard to stay alive
But the angel of destruction keeps on houding me all around
But I know in my heart that we never really parted
They say the Lord helps those who help themselves
So I'm asking this question in the hope that you'll be kind
Cos I know deep inside I was never satisfied
Oh no, Lord help me
Lord help me now
Please help me Lord, yeah yeah yeah
Help me to help myself
Help me to help myself


Oh by the way, while I was over atHaaretz, I clicked on this "related article":


bush sr. and clinton to head US panel on plans for Israel's 60th anniversary

Then I got this error message:

There is a problem with this website's security certificate.

-------------------------
The security certificate presented by this website was issued for a different website's address.

Security certificate problems may indicate an attempt to fool you or intercept any data you send to the server.

We recommend that you close this webpage and do not continue to this website.
---------------------------

Somehow I managed to get my computer to let me link to it. Here is the story from November. I missed this one -- did anyone else cover this?

Two former United States presidents, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, will serve as honorary chairmen for the National Committee for "Israel 60" - the committee organizing celebrations to mark Israel's 60th independence day celebrations next year.

The announcement was made Friday by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

The chair and vice chair of the organization, June Walker and Malcolm Hoenlein, expressed their gratitude that two American leaders have agreed to head the committee.
Advertisement

The committee will organize events and ceremonies to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel, which will be held in the United States on May 8, 2008.

'A unique relationship'

Hoenlein emphasized the special character of the events that will celebrate the unique relationship between the U.S. and Israel.

He said that leaders and personalities from different walks of life and representing a variety of communities will join the committee in the near future


Crossposted at Blondesense

George Orwell Was a Loser

by: Dark Wraith

GrrThe FBI is set to start putting together a massive biometric database of people's physical characteristics. The Bureau claims it will be used as a tool to identify 'criminals and terrorists' even though the database will very likely include records for every American as well as many citizens of other countries involved (or not involved) in the project.

Among those who grasp the stunning outrage of this are the usual cast of civil liberties advocates and other malcontents who simply cannot understand that, when law enforcement folks stamp their feet and bawl for more toys, they should never hear the word, "No!" It might hurt their feelings, and we wouldn't want them blaming any of us the next time a crime happens. God knows, when it comes to crime, it's never the fault of officials who could have stopped it if only they'd had one more truncheon to use on the population.

Why, the very idea! That's like saying George W. Bush failed to protect this nation on September 11, 2001, and then spent the next six years covering his own howling failure by exacting punishment for his miserable incompetence upon the American people and millions of knaves just about everywhere else in the world. Thank God, no one in Washington—least of all the Loyal Opposition—had the impertinence to demand his head for letting a handful of whack-job maniacs blast down skyscrapers and a nice chunk of the Pentagon on his watch and right under his nose.

Would you like to have some fun? Here's an idea concerning this technological monstrosity that makes the word "Orwellian" downright inadequate. Ask Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton if either of them would kill that database project upon becoming President. Make sure to emphasize that it's not a matter of "modifying" the FBI's plan, and it's not a matter of "proper oversight"; the question is whether or not either of those two Throne of Empire wannabes has the guts to stand up to squalling babies who haven't had their attitudes adjusted and their butts paddled in years.

I'll bet you my bottom dollar those two Democratic cowards would dance like hip-hop stars around the very idea that they might want to do something like tell the FBI to stop treating everyone like a criminal waiting to be caught.

I've said it before, and I'll say it here again: "Change," my ass.

But, hey! They're Democrats. That means they're not Republicans, right?

Yeah. Right.


The Dark Wraith is fast approaching a sublime state of ultimate cynicism. (It's the train stop right after the commonwealth of realism.)

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums


· · ·
04 February 2008

Magical Evening

by: blackdog

Being officially stoopid, I repost this but not in quite the same way. I almost never do things the same way twice, thank gawd.That means that the next time I screw up it might be different. Also, being an impulsive knee jerking idiot I tend to overreact to most things, I can only hope that my search as illustrated by this short story leads me to a better path.

After moving to the Great Mojave Desert some time ago I was overwhelmed with the vistas and complete difference of the desert. It took me over a year to be able to see in a glance what was out there. I had to learn how to see such magnificent and tremendous views. Nothing in my life before had taught me this, the Mojave was wonderful and completely new, to me.

I used to cruise around the BLM lands with the Chop dog, who really liked to go, and when we found something interesting we would stop and check it out. Miles off a paved road, there are few fences out here.

One evening as twilight approached, being on the east slope of the Sierra Nevada looking east, the sun had set behind the mountains earlier, and the sky was becoming darker, it was so quite that your ears could buzz.

Chop and I were on the LA aqueduct road looking across the Indian Wells Valley. A dirt road over a pipeline built by lots of Chinese laborers, hence the name China Lake.

It seemed really strange it was so quite. Not a sound. Suddenly somehow I became more aware of my surroundings for some reason, and I began to pay more attention. I caught the motion out of my peripheral vision and saw a large owl pass over my left shoulder not ten feet away, without a sound. It was almost dark enough that color vision was almost off, but this owl flew down the slope and the chop dog saw the owl too.

As the owl disappeared down the slope, the first sounds we had heard all night began, a pack of coyotes not much more than a few hundred yards off. They were yipping and howling, but the chop dog only lifted his ears and did not respond.

Something here I missed, I got it better the first time I posted it. Reading Minstrel's tales of the naming ceremony captured my imagination and caused me to think of this event again. There was something more than I understand here, the owl, the coyotes, and the silence beyond that.

Sometimes events unfold that can offer knowledge if we could only see it, I feel strongly that this was a chance for me, but I missed it. It bugs me to this day.

It was a magical event. At least for me.

Almost Bit The Big One, The Saga Continues

by: Debra

Last night after the big game, go Giants yeah!, I had to call the police on someone who was out of control and suspected of having a knife. While I was trying to answer the officer's questions, I had a full blown asthma attack. It was so bad that the paramedics abandoned the person they were working on and immediately threw me into the ambulance, hooked me up to oxygen and gave me two breathing treatments while transporting me to the emergency room.

I can't tell you how much this sucked, but I'm sure you can imagine the sound of my checking account sinking all the way to China. The Giants were the only bright spot in my day. When I had left the bar (1 margarita) just after the Patriots made their last touchdown and everyone was gloating at how wrong I was, all I said was Heidi. I tried to explain it, but nobody believed me. I'll bet they never forget it now.

Anyhow, back to the personal trauma and drama. Nothing they tried at the emergency room worked. I had three more breathing treatments and the only thing that changed was that my heartbeat wouldn't stay out of the fat burning zone (according to the chart at the gym I should have lost weight since it stayed in the zone for over eight hours), my head was pounding as if someone was trying to build a house from the inside and I had the shakes like a diabetic who had forgotten to eat and was on their way to passing out.

After having worked on me for over seven hours, three doctors, an untold number of nurses, one respiratory therapist and chest x-rays (very healthy), I asked them if maybe they could take care of the cough, which was long, unproductive and extremely disturbing to listen to, pus it made my head and chest hurt. I kid you not, they thought I was joking, but they were ready to try anything at this point.

I'm allergic to morphine, codeine, tylenol, ibuprofen and almost every pain reliever except aspirin. Guafnesin, dextrommethorphan, honey and lemon made no difference to the cough (a reflex action I couldn't stop). Back when I could take codeine, my coughs could be controlled. After much research, they finally decided on something called Tessalon perles. It took about an hour to work, I stopped coughing and breathing became easier, so they let me come home. I'm off to pick up my new prescriptions (4!) including prednisone (which gives me the auditory and visual hallucinations I never had on certain illegal substances back in my youth, but I am rather fond of breathing so I'll take it) and hopefully my head will stop pounding and I'll be able to breathe better. My breathing is so noisy I couldn't sneak up on a deaf rabbit. I did make the respiratory therapist laugh though. What do you find in a clean nose? ...Fingerprints.

The concept of paying rent has disappeared for this month but didn't Tom Petty just rock the Super Bowl halftime?

Debsweb

Oh yeah, I changed my mind, I'm going to vote after all. For Hillary. It's probably not going to help but at least I can keep bitching with a clean conscience. Her health care plan needs work and the argument that there would be two Presidents (both of whom are really smart), shouldn't bother anyone or they really haven't been paying attention to the last seven years of Bush and Cheney. Look what they've done without the smarts.


· · · ·

Let's Do The Time Warp Again

by: Konagod

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. Being unemployed seems to encourage that rather nasty activity. I start thinking about age and time. And I usually have some disturbing realizations.



more...

Conspiracy Theorist Communications

by: Dark Wraith

I most definitely should not have done it, but I'd had enough. For several months, now, I've been getting long-winded, ranting, sometimes nearly incoherent e-mail messages from 9/11 conspiracy theorists. These aren't the greybeards of conspiracy theory who were there at the outset; these guys appear to be of a new breed, folks who seem to have gotten into the act only recently. Somehow, I got on their e-mail list. Lord knows why. It's not like I present myself as anything other than a very normal, entirely traditional, straight-laced, conservative fellow uninterested in anything other than the truth as it is told to me by a government singularly dedicated to the truth and nothing but the truth.

Tonight, I sort of lost it. One of these new young Turks of 9/11 conspiracy theories broke the rules. He didn't use e-mail; instead, he noticed my internal messaging link in the sidebar at The Dark Wraith Forums, and I'll be darned if he didn't use it to send me a personal message. The impertinence of it all!

Here's what he had to say:

Will You Believe Me Now? A Vital Flashback...

This is a first. We are reposting a blog written here in September of 2006 in which we revealed the background of Philip Zelikow, the Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission. In that blog, we warned that a furtive fox had been put in charge of investigating the hen house, and we joined other 9/11 Truth Seekers in challenging the supposed impartiality of the Commission and its unsubstantiated conclusions.

And, as always, the establishment media ignored it all.

But, lo and behold, today the AP had an epiphany about Philip Zelikow and the White House. In a revealing article about a new book by NY Times reporter Philip Shenon they acknowledged the following:

The Sept. 11 commission's executive director had closer ties with the White House than publicly disclosed and tried to influence the final report in ways that the staff often perceived as limiting the Bush administrations responsibility.
For the record, this is not news. Here is the blog we posted in 2006! Will you believe us now?

Meet the Official White House 9/11 Myth Maker: Philip D. Zelikow

On September 10th I was one of the guest speakers at a 9/11 truth event at Cooper Union in New York (sponsored by Les Jamesons ny911truth.org). There were many esteemed speakers that day who shared a great deal of information related to the events of September 11th 2001 but no information was more stunning than the little tidbit brought to light about the Executive Director of the famous Kean Commission, Philip D. Zelikow.

Think hard about what you would look for if you were to appoint a director of an investigation into the events of 9/11. Would you look for someone who has studied or even dabbled in the creation and maintenance of public myths? Would you search for or even consider placing someone in charge of that committee whose area of academic expertise is the creation and maintenance of, in his words, "public myths" or "public presumptions", which he defines as "beliefs thought to be true (although not necessarily known to be true with certainty), and shared in common within the relevant political community." Well that is exactly what happened!

Do a little research on Philip D. Zelikow, the Executive Director of the Kean Commission and you will find that his area of expertise is precisely suited for people who have a story that is not necessarily known to be true, but want the public to accept it as such. Add that to your 110 story high pile of coincidences that comprise the official story! Think about it!


I broke under the onslaught. I honestly cracked.

In my defense, these days I'm a bit fragile: just last week, I got the used food scared out of me by a glancing blow from lawyers for one of the Ancient Crazies of the Financial World. It seems that many months ago, I told Peter of Lone Tree that he could quote me, and—dip me in chocolate and call me Mr. Delicious—that son of a female dog with questionable morals did so, for God's sake, in an article at BlondeSense. The article is gone, now, and I'll leave the matter at that, except to note that another facet of this same incident involved a very well-known conspiracy theorist who got so freaked by a letter from these same lawyers that he turned into the journalistic equivalent of a poodle giving himself a showdog trim while hiding behind the sofa.

Nevertheless, that whole exciting mess left my entire state of mind—not to mention my e-mail system—without a hint of decent fung shui, so I was ready for closure. I sent an e-mail message back to the 9/11 conspiracy theorist fellow who'd used my internal messaging system. Although this person maintains a blog, I shall not provide a link to it here, if for no other reason than that, as it is, I have more than enough links in my sidebar blogroll that could get me into trouble.

Speaking in my voice as an old and weary conspiracy theorist, I had this to say:

Good evening.

You are most decidedly barking up the wrong tree. You and others who are sending out messages about the conspiracy behind the attacks of September 11, 2001, are more than six years behind the curve. I have seen nothing in these recent "facts" being promulgated on the Internet and in e-mail messages that wasnt being revealed in the months right after the incident. We—and I was on message boards making an ass of myself, too—screamed bloody murder, but no one listened.

Do you know why no one listened?

No one cared.

People who didn't matter knew it was an inside job, but they were too busy with their jobs, their mortgages, and their asymptomatic lives; people who did matter knew it was an inside job, but exactly what were they going to do about it?—destroy the Republic with ungodly charges that everyone would pretend couldnt possibly have merit?

More to the point, those who did matter in late 2001 were the same groveling appeasement freaks who had let the Reagan/Bush team off the hook for years of criminality going all the way back to ruining Carter's hostage rescue mission in 1980. Those cowards—those cowardly Democrats, including Bill Clinton and the Democratic leadership in Congress—let brave whistleblowers take the fall for handing over mountains of damning evidence against everyone from Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush all the way down to sleazebags who would reemerge more venal and powerful than ever in the Administration of George W. Bush. Some of those whistleblowing patriots ended up rotting in prisons. That's the fate that imperils anyone—anyone—who has the guts and the solid proof to step up to the plate against the Republicans. If you've got real, hard evidence, take your swing, slugger. Watch what happens. (Hint: you'll be wildly amazed by which way the ball flies off your bat.)

Do what you want to do, Rocket Man, and say what you have to say. Fortunately, you will face no worse punishment than most of us who know just how ugly the reality is, but have nothing more than names, dates, and chains of assailable logic. To that extent, then, find comfort in enduring obscurity; the alternative is appallingly unpleasant.

I am not without good will for those participating in this latest howl-fest about 9/11. It is my earnest hope that those who think the official story is a pack of lies fully grasp that they will never find the "truth" behind the events. At best, they'll be able to work out what constitutes a more satisfactory and satisfying lie for themselves and everyone they vex with e-mail messages.

Take care of yourself. As my Pennsylvania Dutch ancestors would have said, "The world is full of Englishmen."

Worse still, I've come to figure out that it's also full of shadows. They're easy to miss, though; they hide right in plain sight.


I am altogether convinced that I have accomplished one or the other of the following: either I have ensured that I shall receive no more communications from this blogger, or I have just thrown a tanker full of gasoline on a raging inferno. In either event, it remains to be seen whether or not I have regained fung shui in my Outlook inbox, much less in my online life.


The Dark Wraith should probably leave the grassy knoll before the investigators from the Commission arrive.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums


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Bush's $3 Trillion Budget

by: Foiled Goil

Bush's $3 trillion budget is US first

Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer
In the nation's first-ever $3 trillion budget, President Bush seeks to seal his legacy of promoting a strong defense to fight terrorism and tax cuts to spur the economy. Democrats, who control Congress, are pledging fierce opposition to Bush's final spending plan perhaps even until the next president takes office.

The 2009 spending plan sent to Congress on Monday will project huge budget deficits, around $400 billion for this year and next and more than double the 2007 deficit of $163 billion. But even those estimates could prove too low given the rapidly weakening economy and the total costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which Bush does not include in his request for the budget year beginning Oct. 1.

Bush's spending proposal would achieve sizable savings by slowing the growth in the major health programs Medicare for retirees and Medicaid for the poor. There the president will be asking for almost $200 billion in cuts over five years, about three times the savings he proposed last year.

There is no indication Congress is more inclined to go along with this year's bigger cuts; savings would come by freezing payment rates for most health-care providers for three years.

In advance, Democrats attacked the plan as a continuation of failed policies that have seen the national debt explode under Bush; projected surpluses of $5.6 trillion wiped out; and huge deficits take their place, reflecting weaker revenues from the 2001 recession, the terrorism fight, and, Democrats contend, Bush's costly $1.3 trillion first-term tax cuts.

"This administration is going to hand the next president a fiscal meltdown," Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said Sunday in an interview with The Associated Press. "This is a budget that sticks it to the middle class, comforts the wealthy and has a set of priorities that are not the priorities of the American people."

Bush's five-year blueprint makes his first-term tax cuts permanent while still claiming to get the budget into balance by 2012, three years after he leaves office.

Republicans are pledging to protect those first-term tax cuts. But Democrats, including the party's presidential candidates, want to retain the tax cuts that benefit lower and middle-income taxpayers while rolling back the tax cuts for the wealthy.

Democrats say Bush's budget is built on flawed math. Beyond 2009, the budget plan does not include any money to keep the alternative minimum tax, which was aimed at the wealthy, from ensnaring millions of middle-income people. It also includes only $70 billion to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2009, just a fraction of the $200 billion they are expected to cost this year.
Bush budget cuts health programs
War costs likely to mean record deficit


Andrew Taylor, AP
President Bush wants to cut funding for teaching hospitals and freeze medical research in a $3 trillion budget for 2009 that is still likely to generate a record deficit once war costs are tallied up.

The Bush budget to be submitted Monday would cut the budget for the Health and Human Services Department by $2 billion, or 3 percent. By contrast, the Pentagon would get a $35 billion increase to $515 billion for core programs, with war costs additional.

With tax revenue falling as the economy slows -- and with the deficit-financed economic stimulus bill adding more than $150 billion in red ink to federal ledgers over 2008-2009 -- the White House acknowledges that the budget deficit for this year and next is projected to reach $400 billion or more.

The largest-ever budget deficit, $413 billion, was recorded in 2004. Bush's budget will forecast a deficit for 2009 that's below that, an administration official said. But that assumes costs of $70 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, well below the almost $200 billion request for this year.

Even if a Democrat is elected president and begins troop withdrawals, tens of billions of dollars more will be needed, which would bring the deficit to well above the $413 billion record.

Bush's budget contains no war costs beyond 2009 and fails to address the huge cost of keeping more and more taxpayers from feeling the bite of the alternative minimum tax.

Bush's budget plan will also, on average, freeze most domestic programs funded by Congress each year. Since departments such as Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security will be getting increases, that means other agencies would bear difficult cuts.

The Health and Human Services Department reductions would be in addition to almost $200 billion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid over the next five years that administration officials acknowledge are in Bush's budget. Much of the savings would come from freezing reimbursement rates for most health care providers for three years.

Within HHS programs, Bush would cut a $302 million program that gives grants to children's hospitals to subsidize medical education. A $300 million program for public health improvement projects would be eliminated, while grants to improve health care in rural areas would be cut by 87 percent.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's budget would face a 7 percent cut, $433 million.

The National Institutes of Health, which funds health research grants, would see its budget frozen at $29.5 billion.

Bush also would eliminate a new $49 million program to help states provide health insurance to people who are ailing and cannot obtain health insurance in the commercial market.
Here's a look at some of the elements of Bush's budget.

Here's a look at what Bush's budget is expected to show.

Related Reuters articles:

03 Feb 2008 Bush budget seen renewing battle with Congress

01 Feb 2008 Bush to seek $515 billion for Pentagon in 2009

31 Jan 2008 Bush budget would nearly freeze domestic spending

28 Jan 2008 Bush to seek $70 bln in partial 2009 war funding

18 Dec 2007 Senate passes budget bill with Iraq money


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03 February 2008

Superbowl Halftime

by: blackdog

A Traveling Wilbury performance at the halftime, with no bullshit, just some damn good music.

Damn I sure miss George Harrison, and so many others. Maybe Johnnie Cash the most.

All I have to say tonight.

Almost Bit The Big One

by: Debra

Last Friday, after being very specific about not having any shrimp, none at all in my soup, guess what was floating at the bottom? I just love puking and losing control of my bladder in public. Which is actually what saved me. Then they wanted to know if they could make me something else. And the hives! So attractive.

My asthma had started kicking up a few days ago and this incident has put in full swing. I've literally used a full inhaler in less than 48 hours, my coughing fits end in a high pitched bark and I am desperately doing everything I can to avoid going to the emergency room. The wheezing has subsided somewhat but any change in temperature (or laughter) sets me off again. It's been almost four years since it was this bad and it's all the shrimp's fault.

My head is pounding, I'm crankier than usual (as if that could be done), I have very little energy and my chest and neck hurt from all the coughing and struggling for breath. I'm so broke that suing people crossed my mind but unfortunately it doesn't look like a viable option for me because I didn't go the hospital.

Meanwhile, while I'm being a cranky bitch, I would like to hear that the Giants won the Super Bowl. Obviously I'm not going to watch it. The last good half time show they had (other than the booby incident) was when the two extremely funny "gay" (Blaine and Antwone) guys from In Living Color (even with the editing out of the Richard Gere gerbil joke) did their color commentary. Men on Football, why here it is. Priceless!Two snaps and your backfield in motion. I almost feel better. Where the heck is my inhaler?

On a sad note, Shell Kepler (Amy Vining from General Hospital) passed away from kidney failure. Her character was a kick even though she never had a real story line and she will definitely be missed. Rest in peace, and thanks for a job well done.

Debsweb The lack of oxygen must be affecting me.


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Asking For Vision (Day 3, or 4 maybe, this is where we talk about Hoops)

by: Minstrel Boy

Tsa-Ka'alim is a beautiful young man. If our Hollywood friends ever allow the WGA members to work again he would be a perfect casting coup for anything involving Native Americans. He looks very Apache to me. He's tall, 6'2", and leanly muscular. He has impossible cheekbones, thick black hair, black eyes. When he dances the Hoops he wears Apache style knee high moccaisins, a fringed hunting shirt that comes down to mid-thigh, a breechcloth for modesty's sake and very little else. He's young and unscarred enough that it works for him well. He moves with the easy grace of an elk. All relaxed potential for action.

He asks his brother, the brilliant attorney to sing while he dances and is obliged. In a high clear and steady voice over insistantly throbbing drums he sings while his brother dances. Tsa Ka'alim begins placing hoops made from willow branches and painted white, black, red, and yellow, all around the area he will be performing.

's' ' n yi k' ' gj 'n' hks

(long life, like good, moves back and forth)


t' ga' bit 'd yd' lz tc'ndi


(white water flows underneath in a circle we have made they say)


Tsa Ka'alim here steps on the edge of a white hoop, it flies up in the air, spinning fast. On the way down he catches it in his hand casually, he plays with it for a bit and passes his entire body through the hoop.

k g'it' ga bk n'lj jog' lza tc'ndi

(fast white water on it, spread across it, this is made they say)

y gii syd't nz' g' lz tc'ndi

(white shells curve over, also under, it rests easy, made by hand they say)

Tsa Ka'alim does this with a hoop of each color. He has four and begins to make simple patterns based upon the Apache medicine wheel. White for the North, intention; black for the South, emotion; yellow the west, action; and, red, in the East where spirit lives.

gdt' o' bskx' hlljij tc'ndi

(lightning dances alongside they say)

gdt' o' bbik' n'st'o tc'ndi

(lightning fastened across it they say)

Now, as hoops are added, the patterns are becoming far more complicated. As he picks up each hoop, Tsa Ka'alim passes through it. He makes it look effortlessly easy. It is not. He's just that good.

h tsta'ul bt'l lz tc'ndi

(rainbow is its rope that has been made they say)

t'd x btc'd bt'' s tsoz

(a blanket of black water underneath it rests)

t''ga btc'd bt'' s tsoz

(a blanket of white water underneath it rests)

Tsa Ka'alim is playing with about twenty hoops now. He mimics butterflies, and birds, he plays with the shapes and the colors of the hoops. All this time he moves, often with his eyes closed. It's as if he's imagining his dance as much as making a performance. He has made an especially elaborate pattern that looks like a Celtic Love Knot. Little Kilkii Dani laughs out loud in delight. Tsa Ka'alim laughs with her and makes a circuit of his performance space, hooting in joy and pride. I join his brother in singing.

s' a'n yaii keh'eh gj ts'h'h lza tc'ndi

(like long life, good young woman she is made, they say)

djn' aii bnnt h' bii by' gdtni tc'ndi

(the sun, our chief, beside her, within her, he rumbles they say)

Tsa Ka'alim finishes with 28 hoops. He runs to his new cousin and gives her two of the hoops. He picks her up in his arms and holds her high. He shouts her name. It is shouted back by the people.

He comes over to his brother and I. He passes Girl Who Is Loved By The Ravens over to me. She gives me a big hug around the neck, a kiss on the cheek, and says

Cousin Kaleem says that you and cousin Benny are famous Eagle dancers. Will you be dancing?

I give a look to my cousin. He is searching for ways that we can gracefully refuse.

We can't find one.

Together we say "Yes. We will dance for you."

harp and sword

Obama's Nuclear Glitch

by: Konagod

The NYT ran a lengthy piece in the Sunday edition titled, "Nuclear Leaks and Response Tested Obama in Senate," and there were some interesting tidbits worth noting which might shed some very recent light on how well Obama might be a strong arm for all this "change" we keep hearing about.

And no, this is not any attempt on my part to start bashing Obama after exposing my earlier positive thoughts about Hillary. I'm not convinced either of them will stand up to corporate interests. It's more of an addendum to my anxieties about expanding nuclear power.
When residents in Illinois voiced outrage two years ago upon learning that the Exelon Corporation had not disclosed radioactive leaks at one of its nuclear plants, the states freshman senator, Barack Obama, took up their cause.

Mr. Obama scolded Exelon and federal regulators for inaction and introduced a bill to require all plant owners to notify state and local authorities immediately of even small leaks. He has boasted of it on the campaign trail, telling a crowd in Iowa in December that it was the only nuclear legislation that Ive passed.

I just did that last year, he said, to murmurs of approval.

Um, not so fast, you clever liberal agent of progressive change.
While he initially fought to advance his bill, even holding up a presidential nomination to try to force a hearing on it, Mr. Obama eventually rewrote it to reflect changes sought by Senate Republicans, Exelon and nuclear regulators. The new bill removed language mandating prompt reporting and simply offered guidance to regulators, whom it charged with addressing the issue of unreported leaks.

Those revisions propelled the bill through a crucial committee. But, contrary to Mr. Obamas comments in Iowa, it ultimately died amid parliamentary wrangling in the full Senate.

In other words, he caved in, succumbing to the desires of the largest nuclear plant operator in the United States. And I'm certain this next bit is purely coincidental.
Since 2003, executives and employees of Exelon, which is based in Illinois, have contributed at least $227,000 to Mr. Obamas campaigns for the United States Senate and for president. Two top Exelon officials, Frank M. Clark, executive vice president, and John W. Rogers Jr., a director, are among his largest fund-raisers.

Another Obama donor, John W. Rowe, chairman of Exelon, is also chairman of the Nuclear Energy Institute, the nuclear power industrys lobbying group, based in Washington. Exelons support for Mr. Obama far exceeds its support for any other presidential candidate.

In addition, Mr. Obamas chief political strategist, David Axelrod, has worked as a consultant to Exelon. A spokeswoman for Exelon said Mr. Axelrods company had helped an Exelon subsidiary, Commonwealth Edison, with communications strategy periodically since 2002, but had no involvement in the leak controversy or other nuclear issues.

My God, we're talking about a situation in which millions of gallons of contaminated water leaked out, and the nuclear industry is given the upper hand in how to control and/or spin the situation. The levels of tritium in the leaked water, a radioactive byproduct of nuclear power, reportedly did not exceed federal safety standards. Nevertheless, I, for one, don't believe it's too much to ask that any and all leaks be reported.
The rewritten bill also contained the new wording sought by Exelon making it clear that state and local authorities would have no regulatory oversight of nuclear power plants.

[...]

The revised bill was never taken up in the full Senate, where partisan parliamentary maneuvering resulted in a number of bills being shelved before the 2006 session ended.

Still, the legislation has come in handy on the campaign trail. Last May, in response to questions about his ties to Exelon, Mr. Obama wrote a letter to a Nevada newspaper citing the bill as evidence that he stands up to powerful interests.




I'm getting that queasy feeling again -- the same feeling I get during every election cycle when it becomes clear to me just how much change I can expect from a new administration.



Power to the people!


Crossposted from konagod


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02 February 2008

A Lesson From Ireland

by: Konagod

We occasionally have our own little sturggle in this house over plastic shopping bags. We have LOTS of them. Too many in fact. And I do recycle them, but many people do not. Just take a look around your cities, along your roadsides and particularly along the creeks, streams and rivers. It's a mess.

Both of us agree that supermarkets rely too heavily on plastic bags. We are always annoyed when the people bagging our groceries often insist on putting one tomato in a separate plastic bag, or when they instinctively attempt to put a 6-pack of beer (which has a carrying handle!) into a double bag.

I do like to use our durable cloth bag which was free from Central Market during a promotion a year or so ago. And we also have another cloth mesh bag which works well except for small items -- jalapeos could slip out.

Still, I have a very bad ungreen habit of using plastic grocery bags with my rationale being that they come in handy for kitty litter disposal. And that is also flawed because they still go to the landfill. I really should find an alternative and go 100% bag free. So should the United States. Many people in Ireland are doing it.

In 2002, Ireland passed a tax on plastic bags; customers who want them must now pay 33 cents per bag at the register. There was an advertising awareness campaign. And then something happened that was bigger than the sum of these parts.

Within weeks, plastic bag use dropped 94 percent. Within a year, nearly everyone had bought reusable cloth bags, keeping them in offices and in the backs of cars. Plastic bags were not outlawed, but carrying them became socially unacceptable on a par with wearing a fur coat or not cleaning up after ones dog.

When my roommate brings one in the flat it annoys the hell out of me, said Edel Egan, a photographer, carrying groceries last week in a red backpack.

It will take a big nationwide effort to accomplish a similar feat in the United States, but we can do it. It can't be a haphazard mishmash of rules, taxes, or appeals for voluntary compliance. We need a unified plan to eliminate this unnecessary blight, and soon.
In January almost 42 billion plastic bags were used worldwide, according to reusablebags.com; the figure increases by more than half a million bags every minute. A vast majority are not reused, ending up as waste in landfills or as litter.

Within a year or two we could look back at our excessive usage of plastic bags and wonder what the hell were we thinking and what took us so long to change. But change is going to require aggressive action against those who manufacture them, as well as from retailers who have the insanely misguided opinion that the bags are necessary.
Efforts to tax plastic bags have failed in many places because of heated opposition from manufacturers as well as from merchants, who have said a tax would be bad for business. In Britain, Los Angeles and San Francisco, proposed taxes failed to gain political approval, though San Francisco passed a ban last year.

This is bullshit because what are people going to do, stop buying groceries? If a tax or an outright ban on plastic bags is implemented across the board, there is then no alternative for shoppers. I would not have the option of taking my business to another store. And this is not a big adjustment to make in the grand scheme of things.

We save plastic bags in a kitchen drawer and every 3 months or so I have to clean it out and drop off a load at the recycling bin. As you can see, I'm overdue for a run right now.



We represent one house in a nation of 300 million people. Do the math. It's a lot of wasted plastic.


Crossposted from konagod

Ground Hog Day The Reckoning

by: Foiled Goil

Even ground hogs are sick of the media.





01 February 2008

Five For Friday

by: Debra

Let's start with something really good. Practice really does make perfect. A 92 year old blind golfer hits a hole in one. Way to go.

Um, unemployment? It would only be fair, then they could understand what the rest of the country is going through. Unexpected? Who the heck are they trying to kid? Slow housing starts, increases in foreclosures, etc. What's so unexpected about jobs disappearing? Unless you're one of the clueless. Must be nice when everyone you know can pay their bills and afford a decent place to live. Maybe October 29th will paint a vastly different picture this year. Not like that's an important day or anything.

Those poor pets. I know it's awful about the people being killed, but here in America we only care about pet abuse. Because they are innocent victims. So are the people, but the cold hearted among us believe they should have moved to a different country if they didn't like the war.

Parenting lessons don't prevent toddler tantrums. No surprise there. For forty years someone has been espousing a kindler, gentler way to raise kids and look at what we have. Temper tantrums in the store, shootings in the school, children killing their parents. Maybe the old ways, you know the ones that were used for thousands of years before there were child psychologists, actually were effective. Spare the rod, spoil the child. Fear of my dad kept me out of trouble and fifty years later I still can hear his voice when I think of doing something stupid. And no, I didn't always get spanked. Sometimes the look of disappointment in his eyes was worse than a thousand swats.

Exxon made more obscene profits this year. And they actually had the gall to say it was due to higher oil prices. Gee, what are they going to do when they run out of places to drill? Oh yeah, there's those cold, but not for long, places that they can still ruin.

Debsweb


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Keith O: FISA and Telecom Immunity

by: Foiled Goil

Keith Olbermann, Special Comment:
In a presidency of hypocrisy an administration of exploitation a labyrinth of leadership in which every vital fact is a puzzle inside a riddle wrapped in an enigma hidden under a claim of executive privilege supervised by an idiot this one is surprisingly easy.

President Bush has put protecting the telecom giants from the laws ahead of protecting you from the terrorists.

He has demanded an extension of the FISA law the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act but only an extension that includes retroactive immunity for the telecoms who helped him spy on you.

Congress has given him, and he has today signed a fifteen-day extension which simply kicks the time bomb down the field, and has changed nothing of his insipid rhetoric, in which he portrays the Democrats as soft on terror and getting in the way of his superhuman efforts to protect the nation when, in fact, and with bitter irony, if anybody is soft on terror here it is Mr. Bush.

Its bad enough, sir, that you are demanding an ex post facto law which would clear the phone giants from responsibility for their systematic, aggressive, and blatant collaboration with your illegal and unjustified spying on Americans, under the flimsy guise of looking for any terrorists stupid enough to make a collect call or send a mass e-mail.

But when you then demanded again, during the State of the Union address, that Congress retroactively clear the Verizons and the AT&Ts, you wouldnt even confirm that they actually did anything for which they deserved to be cleared!

Mark Klein is the AT&T whistleblower who appeared on this newscast last November, who explained, in the placid, dull terms of your local neighborhood I-T desk, how he personally attached all of AT&Ts circuits everything carrying every phone call, every e-mail, every bit of web browsing into a secure room

Room Number 641-A, at the Folsom Street facility in San Francisco where it was all copied so the government could look at it.

Not some of it; not just the international part of it; certainly not just the stuff some truly patriotic and telepathic spy might be able to divine had been sent or spoken by or to a terrorist.

Everything.

Use Room 641-A to identify that Eassassin, sir, and Ill stand up and applaud you.

Yeah, Im holding my breath on that one, too.

But of course, sir, this isnt about finding that kind of needle in a haystack. This isnt even about finding a haystack. This is about scooping up every piece of hay there ever was, and laying the groundwork for the next little job which you have to outsource to AT&T and Verizon.

Full text and video at Crooks and Liars


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