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31 May 2008

Slow Saturday Morning

by: Debra

Should I stay or should I go? To see Sex and the City. I only saw a few episodes and they were certainly funny and all I want to do today is laugh since next week I'll probably be on my way to being homeless and six dollars won't change that, but endorphins always help with stress.

I am such a geek. What a great way to start a Saturday morning. I totally understood this comment from Dunny0 on the J.J. Abrams new version of Star Trek and got a good giggle out of it.
One of these days someone is gonna travel back once to many times and rip a hole in space/time that no amount of reversed polarity inverted neutrino bursts can fix.

Even *if* they are routed through the Heisenberg Compensators first.
But then there was this response.
@Dunny0 Of course that will never work. You will need to re-route the pulse through the plasma phase converters before channeling it through the warp core and then through the impulse engine baffles before you discharge the pulse out of the deflector dish. DUH!
Much better than what passes for discussion of opposing views on political blogs recently.

I'm going. It starts in 35 minutes. I should be able to hit the rain locker and be out the door in 15. I really need to laugh so it better be funny.


McLame McSame The Facts On The Ground

by: Foiled Goil

McCain Campaign Responds To Senator’s Inaccurate Iraq Statements: ‘So What?’

Think Progress:
Yesterday at a townhall meeting in Wisconsin, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) claimed that troops in Iraq are already down to “pre-surge levels”:

So I can tell you that it is succeeding. I can look you in the eye and tell you it’s succeeding. We have drawn down to pre-surge levels. Basra, Mosul and now Sadr city are quiet and it’s long and it’s hard and it’s tough and there will be setbacks.
Watch it: [:16]

This assertion is wrong. There are now 155,000 troops in Iraq — far above the 130,000 before the surge.

But today on a conference call with reporters, the McCain campaign tried to dismiss this factually inaccurate statement. “So what?” said Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), a strong McCain supporter. “What does that amount to?” He added that McCain just “misspoke.”

In a press conference shortly after the call, a reporter asked McCain, “Did you misspeak yesterday?” McCain replied, “Of course not.”

McCain wants to debate the meaning of the phrase ‘pre-surge’

Carpetbagger Report:
McCain, who claims some kind of expertise in military affairs and foreign policy, should know that the U.S. presence in Iraq won’t go down to 140,000 until the end of July. For him to tell an audience of voters that we’re already at “pre-surge levels” is not only plainly false, it’s embarrassing, especially given McCain’s recent bouts of confusion and incoherence on Iraq policy.

On a conference call this morning, John Kerry raised a salient point:
“If you don’t know the numbers of troops, it’s very difficult to make a judgment about whether or not they’re over-extended. It’s also very hard to have an understanding, as a citizen, about what levels of troops he’s going to keep there. If he thinks 150,000 is ‘pre-surge,’ and that’s where he’s going to stay, that’s a deeply over-extended military, and it raises serious questions about his comprehension of this challenge.”
Exactly. If McCain is just a little slow on the uptake, it would only be mildly humiliating for the guy who’s been wrong about every facet of the war for six years. But the fact that he’s still confused about basics — like how many U.S. troops are in Iraq right now — raises doubts about whether he can shape a realistic policy for a war he doesn’t understand.

In all fairness to McCain, maybe English grammar was different in the 1920s

America Blog:
He's lost his mind. McCain's now trying to claim that he didn't tell voters yesterday that we have drawn down to pre-surge troop levels in Iraq. He's now trying to claim that he said we're DRAWING down, i.e., still in the process, not there yet. But of course, that's not what he said. It's on film. Everyone has seen it. ThinkProgress walks you through it again. It's just downright bizarre that McCain keeps denying that he said what he said. We have video. Bush and Cheney and company tried this for years, and got away with it. They constantly lied about the facts and figured no one would be the wiser. But people finally wisened up. And they don't accept blatant lies any longer.
And now McCain is arguing "verb tenses" as an excuse...

Whether McCain is lying or simply doesn't understand the facts in Iraq, for him to now deny that he said what he said, well, when we have the video, it's just kind of creepy and sad.

· ·

Farewell, My King

by: Dark Wraith

Bush and McClellan

Cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums

· · · ·
30 May 2008

Approaching the Longest Day

by: blackdog

And I really don't feel like doing too much, my nephew is getting married next week, a big hoopla that I will attend regardless of my condition. With all the bullshit going around right now I have reduced myself to watching Popeye cartoons. It's easier than looking reality in the eye.

Here is my nephew, I'm kinda proud of him, he's my twin sister's son. I wish him the best. Mandy too.

Thomas went through the same program that Joel and Ethan Coen did at UT@Austin. He has a fascinating sense of humor and is very creative. The link will tell you more.

Why does everyone get married in June?? I did and even though it was on the heathen date of the 21st it didn't last. Damnit. Maybe I'm just a grumpy old fart.

But I remain in touch with the X, on a low level we talk, we are maybe better friends now than we were then. So not all is lost.

If you feel like it please sign their guestbook, they will appreciate it.

A local friend came by the other day with a 4.5" newtonian telescope still in the box that he received for christmas, wanting me to help him put it together. I asked him where the destructions were and he dug around in the back of his tiny car for a bit under almost as much crap as I have in my little truck and couldn't find it, so we proceeded anyway.You would never know he is a very wealthy farmer.

I got it put together and tried to explain to him what it was all about, but he was fixed on the idea of magnification, I tried to change course, but I feel I was not successful in that endeavor.

Who knows, sometimes it takes time for things to filter into the mind and understanding to come, lard knows that is true for me.

But sometimes the real truth comes too late. I've abused myself for too long and after surviving last year now I find myself in a position where I might have been instrumental in my own demise, even though this is not what I wanted, but my irresponsibility lead to this.

Although I feel fine now, my liver is swollen and the fact seems to be that I have a case of cirrhosis which I understand is a progressive situation and is only treatable with a transplant. Forget that. I have hung my beers on the wall in their holsters and will attempt to see if this goes down, but my thought is that I'm stuck here. Now please understand, I created this from my own actions so I want nothing from anyone except for those so inclined to realize that this could also happen to them as well. I'm not the only fool in this world. I am open to advice, but keep it cool, I'm my own worst enemy, I need no more.

This isn't easy for me to admit, in many ways I'm ashamed of my behavior but some things need to be stated, regardless. And I could be wrong, I will not go to find a professional opinion until I hurt like all hell, and maybe even not then.

But I will attend my nephews wedding next week and come back to my Woof and mow some more grass.

I've said more than I wanted but I did state the case, for the rest of you, please be more responsible than I have been.

The Next Day

Nothing much else to do so I fool around with this.

I met Dennis Weaver once at a strange alternative medicine show in southwest Missouri not too long ago, well, about 10 years ago anyway. He looked magnificent, about 6'1 or 2, looking awfully good for his years, he was at least 20 years older than I and at the time I was around 40. We shook hands and talked for a while, it was more fun than I am used to. He's from Joplin, which is about 12 miles above Neosho where I used to pretend to teach something or other.

Gunsmoke was always one of my favorites, Matt and his crew would always save the day, and the character development on that show was the best. But to see James Arness, as Matt, with Chester makes me realize that he was a real huge fellow, 6'5" at least. He makes Chester look small.

I will be watching these for the rest of the evening, and having some fun. Me and the Woof enjoy this sort of frivolous shit.

Some real rock & roll.

Friday Random Ten (slight rant return)

by: Minstrel Boy

Note: Normally, I don't crosspost a random ten, however, since there is a rant included in this one, I'm making an exception. . .

Over at Welcome To Pottersville there's a post about this article from Rolling Stone on the "100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time."

Ok. Fine. I have my favorites, thing is they tend to change. It depends on my mood, the surrounding events, the company, it depends on life. Own your own favorites. Don't let a bunch of wankers sitting around a magazine tell you what's good. If it makes your hips wiggle and your face smile, it's good. My own personal favorite of me playing is something I used to do during my punkish phase in the eighties. I would take one of my tricked out self-built Strats, turn everything all the way the fuck up and play "Maleguena." Then, when I was done and my ears quit bleeding I'd say "That was 'Shake Your Booty Macho Man Maleguena Uber Alles'." I also have a fondness for listening to old jazz records and stealing trumpet, sax, and clarinet licks. When I'm feeling a little disruptive I like to play along with another guy's solo and watch his face fall when he realizes I've been matching him lick for lick using a bottleneck.

So, phooey. If it moves you, it's great. That's the only real measure of music. If it moves you in an important way once, and then has the power to take you back to that moment, that afternoon or night with her, when you're sitting in your cubicle or driving in traffic, that's even better.

Here's the morning soundtrack, courtesy of "shuffle."

Ramblin' With That Woman - - - Bumble Bee
One Way Ticket To Nowhere - - - David Allen Coe
Tout Les Jours Mon Couer Est Bleu - - - Clifton Chenier
Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound - - - Nancy Griffith
Marry Me - - - Dolly Parton (live bootleg, me on 5 string banjo, finish on fiddle getting completely run over by the amazing Vassar Clemens, dude took off and I couldn't hang, finished the song standing there stupid and grinning in amazement but that was how the rest of the band, including Dolly were)
The Dirty Dozens #2 - - - Red Rooster
Co'dine - - - Buffy Sainte Marie
Bertha - - - Phil Lesh
Cal'donia - - - Son House
Grande Waltz Brilliante in Eb - - - Frederic Chopin (played by the incomperable Horowitz)

Bonus track (what's playing right now)

Grinder Man Blues - - - Memphis Slim

I got to go pack for a beach weekend. Should take about all of fifteen minutes. Minstrel's rule for beach packing is this:

Take half as many clothes and twice as much money.

Works every fucking time. Blogging will be light for the next few, after the beach I'm heading up to Laurel Canyon to hang with one of my favorite music ladies and help her get some arranging done for her next album.

Just for the hell of it, because it's so fucking great and just started a bonus bonus

Uncle Penn - - - Bill Monroe and The Bluegrass Boys

What's your soundtrack?

UPDATE: The luminously beautiful April just showed up and said I should also include my standard reply when people ask me "What's your favorite kind of music?"

I always say:

What ever they're paying me for tonight."

guitar town

A Look Back At Brain Freeze Insanity Media-types

by: Foiled Goil

Avenging Angel: A Look Back at Scott McClellan's Greatest Hits

Devilstower: Out of the loop, loop, loop...

Scott McClellan on Richard Clarke:
"Let's remember why we are having this conversation, because Mr. Clarke made assertions that we have said are flat-out wrong," McClellan said. Moreover, in his book, "Mr. Clarke certainly decided on his own to go ahead and reveal conversations that were considered private previously," the spokesman said. [snip]

"If Dick Clarke had such grave concerns, why wait so long? Why wait until the election?" Instead, McClellan said, Clarke "conveniently" released a book in the middle of the campaign season.
(The lancing pain between your eyes is only a needle of pure irony. Don't worry, it'll pass. Kind of like a Slushee-induced brain freeze.)

Scott McClellan on Paul O'Neil:
"We appreciate his service, but we are not in the business of doing book reviews," he told reporters. "It appears that the world according to Mr. O'Neill is more about trying to justify his own opinion than looking at the reality of the results we are achieving on behalf of the American people. The president will continue to be forward-looking, focusing on building upon the results we are achieving to strengthen the economy and making the world a safer and better place."
Dana Perino on Scott McClellan:
Scott, we now know, is disgruntled about his experience at the White House. For those of us who fully supported him, before, during and after he was press secretary, we are puzzled. It is sad - this is not the Scott we knew.

"The book, as reported by the press, has been described to the President. I do not expect a comment from him on it - he has more pressing matters than to spend time commenting on books by former staffers."
Positively McClellan-esque.

How long will we have to wait for Dana Perino's book? [snip]

While the rest of the nation still has to worry about retirement, the Bush administration seems to have solved the problem for their own: fat contracts for admitting they're liars. We can only hope that publishers soon note that we're not that shocked, we're not sympathetic to people who passed off propaganda they knew was false, and we're not interested in lining these people's pockets just to have them fess up to what we knew all along.

DarkSyde: The Definition of Insanity
...It doesn't matter if McClellan was motivated by money or revenge or a whole chorus of little Gaelic voices singing in his head. The former press Secretary has merely confirmed what we all knew already by the embarrassing truckload and that has conservative apologists squirming like slimy, salted snails (Apologies to innocent mollusks the world over). Of course, McClellan actually has the temerity to blame the media for letting his boss get away with all that shit.
Glenn Greenwald -- The Pentagon has posted to its website the roughly 8,000 pages and audio tapes it was forced to provide to the New York Times regarding its "military analyst" program. Anyone who reads through them, as I've now done, can only be left with one conclusion (other than being extremely impressed with David Barstow's work in putting together this story): if this wasn't an example of an illegal, systematic "domestic propaganda campaign" by the Pentagon, then nothing is.
Here we have a story with almost everything any 'serious news' outlet could possibly want right at the time they need it most. It's been reported already, so there's little work and no risk involved, it concerns the entire electorate on the most pressing foreign policy issue facing the nation during an election year, Congress may soon conduct an investigation into it, if true it's at the very least unethical and perhaps blatantly illegal, it's organized and vast; most important of all for the media incredulity vis-a-vie the Bush administration and Iraq, it involves, well, the integrity of the media regarding the Bush administration and Iraq. [snip]

And yet for over a month there's been nary a peep about it on those very cable news stations that are under assault, and now righteously defending themselves, for lazy, sloppy, and naive reporting in the recent past. My question to them: the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So, traditional media, who's running your asylum?

Kagro X: Media-types straddle fence on McClellan

Tucker Carlson, on the Scott McClellan "revelations," is typically duplicitous.



So McClellan's book "opens up a whole new line of questioning" regarding whether "the White House wanted to invade Iraq for theoretical reasons."

Gee, what a "new" line that would be. And in other news, if General Francisco Franco is still dead, that opens up a new line of questioning and...

This is a really tightly-packed one minute of bullshit, though. [snip]

First of all, what Tucker's really saying here is, "In order not to look like a total moron, I need to say that Scott McClellan might be saying something important here. But I can't throw the whole war and McCain under the bus just yet." So what he says is, oh, well, John McCain's position on the war is defensible. Preemptive war is defensible. But theoretical war -- however that differs from preemptive war -- is not. Bad White House! Unless, of course, you walk the war rationales back and say it was purely preemptive, which is "reasonable" and "defensible." [snip]

Second of all... historians? Historians will have a stronger case that the Bush White House was negligent and acting against the best interests of the United States?

Why "historians?" Why would we be waiting on history here? Why wouldn't you say the Bush White House was negligent and acting against the best interests of the United States, Tucker? Why would that job fall to historians?

Third, here comes the set up. And oh baby, what a set up it is!

Nobody wants to hear about this! Nobody wants to revisit this! It's all in the past! Water under the bridge! It was a mistake! 4,000 dead and fifty years to go ("Maybe 100!"), but hey, look, we're rightfully chastened, we feel bad about it, but let's not get hung up on it. Let's look to the future.

Oh, man. Our future understanding of our immediate past is really gonna suck.

· · ·
29 May 2008

Buy A Dog

by: Debra

This local SF band has one of my favorite (thank you KFOG!) songs. It never fails to bring a smile to my face (which was desperately needed today and bam! there it was on the shuffle while I was working out) and always reminds me of my favorite black dog hanging her head out the window and smiling like the world is perfect.

As long as I don't go over 35 mph.


Harvey Korman, RIP

by: Foiled Goil

Comic actor Harvey Korman has died at 81, according to the UCLA Medical Center...

Korman died at the center four months after suffering complications from the rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Lord, these two could make me laugh:

Harvey Korman and Tim Conway in The Dentist.


Scotty McClellen is a Lying Sack of Shit

by: Minstrel Boy

I'd rather hang out on the porch and watch the birds.

harp and sword

Just A Little Disgusted

by: Debra

For some odd reason I thought that paying taxes and being a veteran entitled me to vote or not vote for the candidate of my choice. I was told differently. I was told that my opinions (not even actions yet) were stupid. I ws told that I was foolish. I was told I was completely wrong and that everything was done in a fair manner. Now I see why less and less people vote. I'm so glad that I (Ft. Lewis, 9th Infantry ), my father (USAF 26 years) and my brother (Lt. USN) were all willing to die to defend the country so people can have their opinions and feel free to express them. As opinionated as I am, I never told anyone who voted for Nader that they were stupid, but that the only way their vote was ever going to count was by screwing over a worthier candidate. People are more concerned with who wins than who is actually qualified to run the country into something other than the ground. Whatever, this is the last time I am going to make that mistake. And if my earlier post didn't make it clear, I am not going to vote for Obama. Period. Change is just another word for "elect me".

Now on to more interesting things. The Republican wagons are circling (Newt, do you mean Bush "allowed" 9/11?) and people are trying to defend their actions or lack thereof. Press included. Lil Scotty is now saying that the press didn't do its job by asking the hard questions (no surprise there) and that the Plame leak was the turning point for him. Great words now, but they would have been so much more helpful while Libby was on trial or when Fitzgerald was originally investigating the crime and the cover-up.
However, McClellan said that it wasn't until he realized that he may have been led to deliver false information to the media about two senior administration officials’ roles in outing Valerie Plame as a CIA operative that he knew he would someday have to tell his story.
Disgruntled, I do not think that word means what the White House thinks it means. Lil Scotty isn't in a bad mood, he is publicly displaying the crisis of conscience that the rest of them should be having. If logic, fair play and compassion had been in their rule book. It's in the Bible, but it's obvious they have as much respect for its principles as they did for the Constitution.

Find the billions that were lost to fraud, then China or the EU might bail Iraq out of the mess that the US put you in. We can't do it, we don't have any money of our own. Anymore.

It's a male dominated world in which only the way women look and act subservient is important. Get a little older or show a few brains and it's war. And if a guy attacks and rapes you, it's up to the woman to prove she didn't do anything wrong. Even if she was asleep in her own home, she must have had provocative bed covers and the perpetrator may have been affected by a "sleep disorder" that made him act the way he did. And if she was only ten or fifteen, she must have been asking for it in some way that doesn't seem to qualify the perpetrator as a child molester. The man is never responsible for keeping his zipper zipped. Unless he's Clinton and a 24 year old innocent intern was involved. Then the fate of the US is affected. Double standards indeed.

I'm sure it has a lot to do with the light and dark sections of D.C. The rich don't seem to have as much trouble getting to the hospital with a pulse when they have a heart attack.

Suggestible and can't resist a dare. Just what we need in another president. A McCain tour of Iraq is like driving through the ghetto in an armored limo with tinted windows. How unprepared do you think the terrorists are going to be this time?

Not So Good Instinct

by: Missouri Mule

Continuing her work as a foreign policy expert, Sharon Stone asked if the Chinese earthquake is maybe just "karma" for China's treatment of the Tibetans, which she is "not happy about." Stone previously embarrassed herself on the international stage when visiting Israel in 2006 and talked about all the wonderful Jews she employs.

Damage control: Sharon Stone finally apologizes for saying that the recent earthquake in China was "karma." Stone's comments have prompted outrage in China and a call for a boycott of her films. Christian Dior has dropped her from their Chinese advertisements.

Good grief. How is she ever gonna pay for her next face-lift?

Clusterfuck Nation

by: Missouri Mule

111 countries agreed to a ban on cluster bombs Wednesday. This fine nation of ours was not one of them

Drivel Dragon Disses Doughnut Diva

by: Dark Wraith

Global doughnut franchiser Dunkin' Donuts has removed from broadcast an ad featuring television chef Rachel Ray because Right-wing extremist Fox News commentator Michelle Malkin claimed that, in the ad, Ray was wearing a scarf called a keffiyeh, which is traditionally worn by Arab men. Malkin described this head wrapping as having been "...popularized by Yasser Arafat and a regular adornment of Muslim terrorists appearing in beheading and hostage-taking videos."

Of Ray's offending accessory, Dunkin' Donuts said, "...the scarf had a paisley design... selected by a stylist for the advertising shoot," and went on to blubber, "Absolutely no symbolism was intended."

Gleeful that her latest exercise in bullying had caused a corporation to capitulate, Malkin followed up her original commentary of last week on the matter with praise for the company: "It’s refreshing to see an American company show sensitivity to the concerns of Americans opposed to Islamic jihad and its apologists."

Meghan McCain, JihadistMs. Malkin and her fellow apologists made no mention of the fact that none other than Meghan McCain, daughter of putative GOP presidential nominee John McCain, has been photographed publicly wearing a nearly identical scarf. So, too, have American and British soldiers stationed in the Middle East; in fact under the name "shemagh," the traditional headdress is so common as an Anglo-American armed forces apparel option that it is sold online as military gear and described as being "...worn by U.S. and British Special Ops. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq."

Now, many readers righteously indignant over this whole incident are wondering what can be done. As far as Malkin is concerned, the answer is simple: "absolutely nothing." As frustrating as that is, long ago the choices were made to let a much wider range of personalities be considered within the scope of "normalcy." The extremists of the 21st Century are nothing other than the blowback from a previous era of liberalism and its obsession with intellectual tolerance that extended all the way to anti-intellectualism. In gratitude, the practitioners of orgiastic ignorance have issued forth a tsunami of intimidation to wash away that same liberal society which allowed them the freedom to coälesce with their own kind in the open and become a rolling mob running amok to shatter the glass windows of the market of clear, thoughtful, and reasoned ideas.

On the level of the commentators, themselves, let it go: that war is over and lost.

More broadly, never try to change the whole world when more can be accomplished by making the willfully miserable within it even more so.

As far as the craven media outlets, schools, public figures, and corporations that allow themselves to be bullied into submission by the madness of our age, it is their fate that they find no harbor of quiet by doing what the Right demands of them.

Change something deserving of aggravation; and to do that, first, politely ask for its attention.

If that doesn't work, scream in its bloody ear.

If it is deaf, moon it.

If it is blind, fart at it.

If its own smell has made it insensible, find its testicles. With corporations, they are called "sales revenue."

If you are dealing with a corporation that has $5.3 billion in global sales revenue, as Dunkin' Donuts does, your personal boycott is going to fail, but your personal quest might not.

In the case of the latest sniveling company that has caved to bizarre allegations, the good news about certain failure in effectively punishing the craven is two-fold: first, you will have the pleasure of annoying the rich, cowardly, well-dressed executives who run the firm; and, second, by not purchasing Dunkin' Donuts products, you might find out about small bakeries right in your area that not only sell much better doughnuts, but also know how to spell the word for their product.

Dunkin' Donuts
Consumer Care
130 Royall Street
Canton MA 02021
(800) 859-5339

Dunkin' Donuts Public Relations Department
130 Royall Street
Canton, MA 02021
(781) 737-5200

Executive Management
Will Kussell,
President & Chief Brand Officer
Frances Allen,
Brand Marketing Officer
(781) 737-3000

Bon appétit, crusaders of the crusty cruller.

The Dark Wraith reaches for the éclairs.

· · · · ·
28 May 2008

Almost Cut My Hair Today

by: Konagod

I feel like my freak flag should fly.

Only because I can't spell the wor d t hat k ee ps co omin g up a s mi s p e lled.

I feel like I always do.

On the Radar----Bush Aide---Bush Not As Perfect As You Thought

by: Missouri Mule

TALES OF TERROR Book Remember Scott McClellan? He was the doughy White House press secretary whose goofy incompetence served as a lighthearted bridge between Ari Fleischer's nerdy intransigence and Tony Snow's polished duplicity. ( haven't yet figured out a descriptor for current briefer Dana Perino, but since the Bush administration is, at this point, one prolonged exercise in running out the clock, it doesn't make much of a difference.) Anyway, old Scott's gone and published a memoir called What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception, in which he says some not so nice things about his former employers. The highlights:

• President Bush "convinces himself to believe what suits his needs at the moment... to this day, the president seems unbothered by the disconnect between the chief rationale for war and the driving motivation behind it."

• Both Scotty and the president were victims of deceit over the Valerie Plame affair: "He too had been deceived, and therefore became unwittingly involved in deceiving me. But the top White House officials who knew the truth—including Rove, Libby, and possibly Vice President Cheney—allowed me, even encouraged me, to repeat a lie."

• Hurricane Katrina? Not so good for the administration. "One of the worst disasters in our nation's history became one of the biggest disasters in Bush's presidency. Katrina and the botched federal response to it would largely come to define Bush's second term. And the perception of this catastrophe was made worse by previous decisions President Bush had made, including, first and foremost, the failure to be open and forthright on Iraq and rushing to war with inadequate planning and preparation for its aftermath."

• The war in Iraq was a needless conflict sold on deception and propaganda, with an assist from the media: "If anything, the national press corps was probably too deferential to the White House and to the administration in regard to the most important decision facing the nation during my years in Washington, the choice over whether to go to war in Iraq. The collapse of the administration's rationales for war, which became apparent months after our invasion, should never have come as such a surprise. ... In this case, the 'liberal media' didn't live up to its reputation. If it had, the country would have been better served."

• Bush may very well have tried meth, heroin, and PCP, but due to the voluminous quantities he used to consume, he burned away the part of his brain that retained those memories. "'The media won't let go of these ridiculous cocaine rumors,' I heard Bush say. 'You know, the truth is I honestly don't remember whether I tried it or not. We had some pretty wild parties back in the day, and I just don't remember.'"

• Karl Rove once ate three entire boxes of Krispy Kreme Doughnut Holes in front of a starving chief economic adviser Larry Lindsey, who had been made to go a week without food as punishment for revealing the cost of the war to the Wall Street Journal.

Okay, that last one is made up, but if it weren't it would be the only revelatory thing in the book. The administration lied about Iraq and Valerie Plame? They fucked up Katrina? Bush did drugs? The media was spineless and craven during the march to war? If there's anyone out there to whom this comes as a shock, What Happened is available in certain Washington bookstores now. Should you somehow manage to dress yourself and find your way to the shops, you'll be able to discover many more stunning secrets like these.

polls, Hill, and the ultimate McSame

by: astraea

Overheard on TPM

First and most importantly -- it doesn't matter and this is purely a hypothetical exercise. Delegates choose the nominee, not polls. Obama has won a majority of pledged delegates and within a week or so, he should have an outright majority of all delegates. He won fair and square, he will be the nominee, and if Democrats unite behind him, he will be the next president.

Second, there is plenty of polling data to contradict Gallup's analysis. For example, Clinton won the California primary, yet Obama beats McSame by four points more than Hillary does in the May 24 LAT poll. Obama lost Ohio to Hillary yet he tops McSame 48 percent to 39 percent according to the May 23 SUSA poll. In a different example, Obama won the Colorado [primary?/caucus? I forget] and here, he tops McSame 48-42 while Hillary loses by a 47-44 margin, according to the May 21 Rasmussen poll.

Obviously, I'm being selective here and I'm not trying to argue that these polls are more accurate than Gallup's. My point is simply that analyses such as these at this early stage amount to little more than mental masturbation. Fun? Perhaps, if that's your thing. But relevant in terms of who the nominee will be? No.

xpost moon's favors

Et Tu, Brute?

by: Debra

The WaPo had so much going on this morning I barely knew where to start. Lil Scotty Mclelland's article had 812 975 comments when I looked at it and I'm willing to bet that lots of **##'s got removed. A quick impression of the article reminds me of the story of Aron Ralston, the climber who cut off his own arm with a pocketknife to survive. Somebody's figured out there were war crimes and is doing their best to avoid being charged with one while at the same time trying to provide imaginary cover for those left behind. And Katrina was a costly blunder. No kidding.

While still smiling at the image of Lil Scotty realizing he had been had and hoping that he has a loyal security detail, I moved on to the right whining about how MSNBC is too left leaning and how they don't like Lil John McCain as much as they like Lil Obama, knowing full well that they had to turn their attention somewhere as soon as they got rid of Lil Hillary. Now that was a hatchet job, with several people wielding the hatchets. Sort of like the stories on John Edwards haircut. Designed to do nothing to further policy or decent political discussions and quite a lot to do with making sure that the candidate they were in love with had no viable competition. After enduring all these years of Fox News I have little to no sympathy for people who whine about the press.

But the Meyerson article, oh Mr. Meyerson, you raised my blood pressure so high, the first thing that I did was reach for my Fosinopril. Let me state first that Hillary was neither my first or second choice in the California primary, but neither one of them were still running, but their names were still on the ballot by the time it was our turn to vote. So, as is usual out here in California, we had to pick the lesser of two evils and it wasn't Obama. Sigh, I'm really tired non-choices like that. Anyway, back to your article.

Hillary's campaign ruined democracy and feminism? Are you serious?Blow it out your ass. Oops, I see you already did. The Democratic Party (they're in the Constitution where?) had no right to exclude the votes of the people of Florida and Michigan, no matter what time frame they held their election in, because they are citizens of the United States and deserve to have their votes counted. Period. And if Obama had won those states he wouldn't want those delegates seated? Get real.

The hypocrisy of anyone talking about Indiana's photo ID requirement in order to vote and then disregarding the votes of thousands of people in two other states is mind boggling. Not quite as mind boggling as accusing women of ruining democracy while you briefly mention the rampant sexism in the united campaign against Hillary and then you attack her supporters for complaining about it, but it's darned close. From start to finish, this race hasn't been about policy issues, it's been about hair, clothes and makeup. Throw in a little bowling and a shot of whiskey (if I was her I would have been so grateful to have had an excuse for a drink since the press hounded her almost as much as they do Paris or Britney neither one of which are anywhere near the same intelligence or contributions to society) with the guys and you have a campaign.

I'm a feminist because I'm a woman. I consider myself the equal of any man under normal circumstances. And the abnormal ones would be so abnormal that whatever sex you are will be one of the last things on your mind. While I may not be able to heave boulders due to brute strength (is that needed anymore?), I am quite capable of using a lever and gravity to accomplish the same task. The odds are that a man invented the hammer, the javelin and the sword, but a woman invented the wheel, pulley, lever and pivot. You develop what you need to survive. Or conquer, as the case may be.

Now that we're supposedly in the 21st century, the skills needed to survive are quite different since we don't have anything left to conquer except each other. And what a shame that is. Nowadays this can be done way too efficiently and requires no brute strength (and judging by reduced requirements to join the military, a minimum of intelligence) at all. Just because one is tall, short, white, brown, black, blue eyed, brown eyed, male, female, rich, poor, right handed, left handed, religious or nonreligious, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Hindi, Muslim, skinny, fat, young or old does not automatically infer competency, incompetency, superiority, stupidity or a tendency towards evil. To say that the women who support Clinton and want the delegates seated is to make a mockery of both democracy and feminism while showing a complete disregard for the people of the two states not being represented and a whopping display of misogyny because women are being so vocal about how their candidate got marginalized, all under the cloak of rules instead of common sense and compassion. But those are traits that come to people who think and who have spent more than enough time clinging to the bottom rung of the ladder to recognize when someone is stamping on their fingers and trying to make them fall off into nonexistence.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, the only way we are ever going to have fair elections in this country is if we have a national primary, followed by the national elections thirty days later. Between television, radio and the internet people will have plenty of opportunity to explore their candidate and the press will have less of an opportunity to choose our candidates for us.

And that's what most of the press and Mr. Meyerson are really afraid of.

Debsweb and IRTZ

· ·
27 May 2008

a tangle of webs

by: astraea

media / politics



Utah Phillips Dead

by: Minstrel Boy

Adios mi amigo. I rode with you. I got no complaints.

harp and sword

I Sometimes Hate to Be Right

by: Minstrel Boy

Back in November I wrote a post about The National Pretend Crisis about immigration, and the negative impacts the Homeland Security Department has been having on the economy and culture of the border down here.

One of the things I predicted was:

The laws that have made crossing the border more difficult have not even begun to stem this human tide. They have enriched the coyotes (pronounced COY-oh-tay) who smuggle them. Fees for being guided across have gone up over 300% in the last two years. The first effect of further clamping down border access will be to make these vile and vicious criminals far richer. They will also be certain to spend some of this new found wealth on bribing Customs and Border Patrol Agents. That's what the drug smugglers did, that's what the rum runners did during prohibition.

I did not feel proud, or the least bit vindicated to read this in today's New York Times.

An excerpt from the article:

When the Homeland Security Department was created in 2003, the internal affairs unit was dissolved and its functions spread among other agencies. Since the unit was reborn last year, it has grown from five investigators to a projected 200 by the end of the year.

So, they first transfered an entire department into a newly created cabinet department (the largest expansion in the size and scope of government in the history of the United States) and one of the first things they did was to dissolve the internal affairs division. In a very Stalinesque way that makes sense. If you're worried about the adverse publicity that is brought on by cases of corruption the simple fix is to not bring any cases of corruption into the light. Just like Uncle Joe said all those years ago, "Problem person? One bullet, one grave, no problem."

Sadly, it not only the brand new officers that have been sloppily recruited and rushed into service that are falling prey to the enticements of the smugglers. It is officers with 15, 16, even 25 years of service.

The increases in border security have brought about many changes. Just not any of the ones that were intended.

Heck of a job Chertoff! You Skeletor Looking Motherfucker.

el rancho harpo

Bush, Follies And Foibles

by: Debra

Vincent Bugliosi (the District Attorney who successfully prosecuted Charles Manson) has a new book entitled The Prosecution of George W. Bush For Murder. And like any good prosecutor, he makes a good case. Even if he does have the usual tendency to overlook the deaths and contributions of the women in our military in the botched attempt at bringing democracy to a country that doesn't really want it. Or whatever the current excuse is, I lost track long ago.
Perhaps the most amazing thing to me about the belief of many that George Bush lied to the American public in starting his war with Iraq is that the liberal columnists who have accused him of doing this merely make this point, and then go on to the next paragraph in their columns. Only very infrequently does a columnist add that because of it Bush should be impeached. If the charges are true, of course Bush should have been impeached, convicted, and removed from office. That's almost too self-evident to state. But he deserves much more than impeachment. I mean, in America, we apparently impeach presidents for having consensual sex outside of marriage and trying to cover it up. If we impeach presidents for that, then if the president takes the country to war on a lie where thousands of American soldiers die horrible, violent deaths and over 100,000 innocent Iraqi civilians, including women and children, even babies are killed, the punishment obviously has to be much, much more severe. That's just common sense. If Bush were impeached, convicted in the Senate, and removed from office, he'd still be a free man, still be able to wake up in the morning with his cup of coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice and read the morning paper, still travel widely and lead a life of privilege, still belong to his country club and get standing ovations whenever he chose to speak to the Republican faithful. This, for being responsible for over 100,000 horrible deaths?* For anyone interested in true justice, impeachment alone would be a joke for what Bush did.
So true about the mainstream media, but they do tend to get distracted by shiny things meant to direct their attention away from reporting the news. Look! Over there! Has worked almost perfectly for the last twelve years. The press spent more time on a spot on a blue dress than they have reporting on the atrocities done in our name by the crew without a clue.

Secret to who?. I didn't even work in Hollywood at the time and I had heard that Raymond Burr was gay. So what and who cares? He was an entertaining actor, has been dead for almost fifteen years and it definitely won't change the price of tomatoes. Some closets don't need to be opened because unimportant stuff has a tendency to fall out.

The car doesn't go anywhere unless I have several errands to run, which I map out to save time and gas. I used to fill up almost every week, now it's maybe once a month. I'm growing my own vegetables (tomatoes, beets, peas, chard, green beans, serranos) and herbs (parsley, basil, cilantro, rosemary, sage) and I try to lay in a store of frozen chicken, pork and fish at the beginning of the month. When we have it, I prefer to buy my beef fresh along with other greens and squashes that are too big for me to grow in the little area I have. Now if I could only acquire a taste for tofu and ride a bike without pain.

Some punishments are so severe that if a mistake has been made, it can't be undone. Being pardoned for a murder you didn't commit is nice but it isn't very helpful 86 years after you've been hanged.

Gee, with stories like Walter Reed and Ft. Bragg, why would anyone not think that military healthcare sucks? With the Bushmaster-in-charge bloviating about supporting the troops out of one side of his mouth and vetoing benefits out the other, why would anyone believe that our troops were getting anything but the best? Other than Bush, anyone with half a brain.


· · ·
26 May 2008


by: Konagod

Where is that piece of paper I had in my hand yesterday morning?

I had a boss recently who would have asked such a question of a subordinate. I'm now employed and she isn't.


I'm making far less but that in and of itself does not make the revenge less sweet.

Crossposted from konagod

pass the popcorn, indy

by: astraea

one of my littles texts me:


tRUE. (oops. sorry.)

All Motherly wisdom, I text back:

But it was pure jones, start to fin. Think back. ark of covenant? blood sacrifice? grail? now commieterroristnazievildooers out to rule & take our freedom !!!! spies & cia. trust no one except...
And then mayas, crystal skulls, aliens? Sure! Indy is Hercules / crafty Odysseus and all this a chronology of modern myth, bible to outer space, seen nightly on the History Channel. Pass the popcorn please.
What is eternal? Love of family and the polis. Only a major appliance, stuff of mom and applepie can save us from self destruction. Our deepest most beloved myth. Truth? Reality? What are those? It's myth that moves us.

xpost moon's favors and robot sex

Sweetest Line Of The Morning

by: Debra

Not because of what he did but because now almost every news story can start in much the same way.
"Bush will lay the wreath at Arlington National Cemetary for the last time."
May there be more last times for Bush, he's caused enough of them for everybody else. 4082 families from the useless war in Iraq. So far. And how the heck can Americans remember their war dead if he keeps hiding them from public view? Bush only trots out the proper sentiment on holidays, the rest of the year he is too busy making sure that the survivors have no benefits when they get out, that they can't afford college or a home, and that they have no other choice but to stay in until they die.

Then while they are out doing their duty, Bush cuts food stamps for their families, closes hospitals near their homes, refuses to help with the foreclosures caused by severe decrease in income for the Reserves and the National Guard, and at the same time eviscerates the education system for young people in the hope that they will have no other choice but to be the next sacrificial victims veterans in the "war on terror".

Bush is a president that has ignored the will of the people; let a major U.S. city drown while he vacationed and that was after he let New York and Washington D.C., the supposed seat of our government, be attacked; regards the Constitution as "a piece of paper"; illegally spies on American citizens; flaunts his stupidity on a daily basis as he condones torture and asks people to go shopping instead of rebuilding our country's infrastructure and reclaiming our place in the world by fixing ourselves first before trying to remove a perceived splinter from countries who haven't asked for our "help". He's a colossal failure who continues to make things worse in an effort to leave behind a legacy without realizing he has already done so.

It's Memorial Day and the only person I want to be remembering is Osama bin Laden, swinging from a gallows pole.

He should have some company, like those who could be convicted of war crimes but will likely escape any earthly penance and continually wonder why history (if we have one) is so unkind to them.

So please, let's start as many stories about Bush as we can with for the last time.


· ·

I Got Nothing

by: Minstrel Boy


by: Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)

PILE the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo,
Shovel them under and let me work--
I am the grass; I cover all.

And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?

I am the grass.
Let me work.

I've been trying to put together a post, something that somehow ties in the way wartime experience runs through your life like a thread. A thread that sometimes helps with the body of the cloth, sometimes it's a detriment, but it remains always there.

I got nothing. Everything I've tried to write for the last week or so has turned out to be nothing but suck. Major suck.

An old friend, it may seem strange that a dedicated skeptic like myself would number a career Navy Chaplin, among his friends, but I do. My friend, who we derisively called "Chaplin Charlie" even though his name was Jim, is very ill. He has been developing blood clots in his legs and it seems every time they do a procedure to repair the problem, things get worse. Jim was a good and decent man who found himself in a place that was in very short supply of goodness and decency. While we were talking during a visit I made last week he remembered what he says was the most significant encounter he and I had in Viet Nam. At the least most important encounter that didn't involve a poker game. That's where we spent most of our time together. We were at a point in an action with the enemy where ammunition and men fit for action were in short supply. I saw Jim, toting a rifle and wearing a helmet with his white cross insignia taking a place on the line with the rest of us. I went over to him and suggested that he would be more effective assisting the horribly overburdened medics. I told him that he was better in providing comfort and allowing us to inflict the damage. I had his rifle and I held it up and told him that in his hands the rifle was a good man making a noble gesture, but in my hands it was a list of enemy casualties. I said "You're a good man Commander, but kindness and decency aren't what we need here. Besides, the fastest reload is another weapon. Thanks." Then I went about my business and he went to go see the medics.

We probably would not have been able to withstand another assault for more than a few minutes. Luck, and a squad of Cobras turned the day. When the assaulting troops realized that the central command structure had recovered enough to begin supporting the outer bases they broke off and went back to ground like good guerrilla fighters always do. The next time I saw Jim he was at the helo pad helping to load off supplies and load in casualties, of which there were a great many. I went over to him and tried to salute to show my profound respect. We ended up hugging instead.

We've stayed in touch over the years. He and his wife retired to La Jolla and that made it very easy. I've never gotten religion, but I've been glad to have such a good man as my friend. I've played the harp when ever he's asked me for it. Two weddings of two daughters, and next week, the wedding of a granddaughter. He wanted to go over the song list for his funeral that last visit and I told him if he dies on me I'm picking the fucking songs and to expect stuff like "Louie, Louie."

The second guy on my mind is Larry, the Sergeant Major, now deployed in Afghanistan. I fear for him, for his family. When I hear John McCain talking about a hundred years of military presence I think of folks who wear the uniforms in the service of fools. A hundred years? Alexander had one of the greatest armies in history, and they were only able to sustain a continuous combat footing for ten years. McCain ain't no Alexander.

So, this Memorial Day, I don't intend to be all patriotic and shit. There won't be any public displays from me. I'm going to be thinking about my friends, probably call a couple of them and we'll try and convince each other that shit really meant something and that God's in his fucking heaven and all's right with the goddamned world.

We know better, but refuse to say it out loud.

harp and sword

Memorial Day 2008

by: Foiled Goil

Rest, comrades, rest and sleep!
The thoughts of men shall be
As sentinels to keep
Your rest from danger free.


Your silent tents of green
We deck with fragrant flowers;
Yours has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours.

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

25 May 2008

The Economics of Wreckage, Part Four

by: Dark Wraith

This is the final installment in a series that began in early March of 2007. Part One of the series presented the nominal and real returns on index portfolio equity investments over the course of the Bush Administration from January 22, 2001 through March 2, 2007. The striking results were that real (that is, inflation-adjusted) returns on investment in standard, well-balanced index portfolios had been negative over the course of the Bush Administration. Total real return to a portfolio mirroring the Dow Jones Industrial Average was negative 1.10 percent, that for a portfolio mirroring the Standard & Poor's 500 was negative 10.79 percent, and that for a portfolio mirroring the NASDAQ Composite was negative 25.85 percent; the associated, respective annualized rates of returns were negative 0.18 percent, negative 1.85 percent, and negative 4.78 percent. The real returns accruing to those index portfolios have not improved since then, but the significance of those negative real returns on equity investments in the American economy is deeper in the context of fiscal and monetary policies long pursued by the United States government.

Part Two of this series showed how real hourly wages accruing to the U.S. labor force had been virtually stagnant over the past half-century and how, when inflations hit the economy, nominal wage gains had persistently and repeatedly lagged the run-up in the overall price level.

Part Three of the series explained neo-Keynesian macroeconomic policy in terms of a necessary reliance upon important factors of production being unable to quickly impound excess growth of the money supply that causes overall inflation: to the extent that, say, labor cannot immediately capture inflation driving up the prices of goods and services, workers must become more productive, both in terms of hours worked and in terms of efficiency in production, since they must pay higher prices for what they buy but are not earning higher wages per hour. The economist John Maynard Keynes described this as the "sticky wages" effect; it gives public policymakers a powerful incentive to use inflation cycles as a tool of economic growth, an idea given empirical weight by economist A.W.H. Phillips, who published a paper in 1958 showing a striking, inverse relationship between wage inflation and unemployment, a phenomenon that came to be known as the Phillips curve, which was the graphical representation of this inverse relationship between unemployment and inflation. The principal problem that has beset policymakers pressing this short-run phenomenon into effect has been that, eventually, wages and compensation to other factors of production do impound the inflation being created by increasing the money supply at a rate faster than the growth of the real, productive base of the economy can use the money. More importantly, once inflation expectations become embedded in compensation demands, the policymakers face a perilous choice: either they must accelerate the growth rate of the money supply to keep ahead of those expected inflation premiums, or they must reduce the rate of growth of the money supply below the real growth rate of the economy in order to allow economic activity to slowly absorb the currency overhang; in the first instance, accelerating the growth rate of the money supply will serve only to accelerate the inflation, but, in the second instance, clamping down on the money supply will cause interest rates — already embedding an expected inflation premium — to rise, thereby diminishing real economic activity to the point that recession could occur, as happened in the wake of the contractionary monetary policy regime instituted by former Fed Chairman Paul Volker in 1979.

In this last installment, a macroeconomic model will be introduced and then used to present a wealth of economic data from the past several decades. The model, a relatively simple means of breaking down the gross domestic product of a nation into large, mutually exclusive components, will allow trends and substantive changes in economic activity to become evident. Analyzing that economic activity within each large sector provides opportunities for highlighting interrelationships among the nation's foreign trade, government spending, and the various facets of the domestic private sector.

A national economy can be viewed as a complex machine comprising an incomprehensible number of individual parts: every household, every business enterprise, and every part of local, state, and federal government contributes some greater or lesser activity in terms of spending and output. Most households, for example, contribute labor to the national economy and, in exchange, receive compensation that is then spent on current purchases and possibly savings. Businesses employ labor and other so-called "factors of production," combining them in such a way as to create goods or services that are then sold. All the various levels of government, from local to federal, buy goods and services, employ factors of production, and produce goods and services. A broad but useful means of breaking down an economy into mutually exclusive parts is to separate domestic spending into private consumption, private investment, and government (this last one sometimes being called "public investment" both to relate it to and distinguish it from the investment in productive activities that occurs in the private sector). In a so-called "closed economy," one where no trade with other countries occurs, national spending could then be completely, if summarily, written as the sum of household consumption (C), private investment (I), and government (G).

Bringing international trade into the mix, an "open economy" would have two additional parts: exports, which earn the domestic economy more money to spend, and imports, which drain money from the domestic economy into the central banks of trading partner countries. Nations that engage in international trade both sell to and buy from other countries, so during any given accounting period, a certain amount of money is flowing into the economy from selling exports, and a certain amount of money is flowing out from the economy because of imports purchased. A country's "balance of trade" is the difference between its exports (X) and imports (M). In a given period, if more exports are sold than imports purchased, exports minus imports is positive, and the country is said to have run a "trade surplus" for the period; on the other hand, if the country buys more imports than it sells abroad as exports, the country is said to have run a "trade deficit" for the period. Hence, exports minus imports, which is called "net exports," accounts for the net amount of money a country either takes in for spending (when net exports is a positive number) or loses the opportunity to spend (when net exports is a negative number) as it engages in international trade. As a hint of the model to be presented below, economists break an economy down into two large components: the sum of household consumption, private domestic investment, and government spending is called the "internal" economy, and the exports minus imports is the "external" economy.

At the level of total, aggregate output where an economy is operating, which is traditionally measured by gross domestic product ("GDP"), what all of the parts of an economy have to spend in aggregate for a given period will be the same as what it has produced in goods and services during that period. Economists call this "equilibrium," the place where the total amount a country's economy has earned in productive output is the same as the total amount it has to spend. Hence, in general, national spending is the sum of household consumption, private investment, government spending, and net exports; but in equilibrium, national spending is the same as the total output of an economy, so the model presented below describes C+I+G+(X-M) as being the GDP instead of the more general national spending.

This might seem like a distinction without an important difference, and that is the case unless the equilibrium at which an economy is operating is undesirable. If the total output of an economy is too low, a condition that is associated with an unemployment rate that is unacceptably high, the more desirable, higher GDP would require some way for national spending to increase to close the "recessionary gap"; on the other hand, if the total output of an economy is so high that factors of production are being utilized too aggressively, the more desirable, lower GDP would require some means by which national spending might be cooled down to close the "inflationary gap." The economist John Maynard Keynes showed that the necessary government actions to either stimulate or suppress national spending were considerably less than the actual spread between the equilibrium GDP and a target.

To the matter at hand for this article, though, it is necessary to know only that the total output of an economy, GDP, is the same as national spending in equilibrium, so the equations presented below always use GDP to represent national spending, which is fully depicted as comprising the sum of the components of internal, domestic economic activity and the external, international activity.

(1)GDP = Consumption + Investment + Government + (Exports-Imports)

Using letters to compress the equation, we have this result, which is both an algebraic equation and an accounting identity:

(2)GDP  =  C + I + G + (X - M)

That equation above is called the Spending Allocation Model, and it is used to categorize and account for actual economic values in the national income accounting that is done by the U.S. government, which reports the numbers on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis, along with excruciatingly detailed breakdowns within each broad category. As in all accounting, the numbers have to add up correctly: gross domestic product really does have to equal the sum of the numbers derived for C, I, G, and (X-M).

One important point to note for this article is that the government reports the numbers both in "current" dollars and in "constant" dollars adjusted for the effects of inflation. For the constant dollar versions, some base year is chosen (right now, the year 2000 is the government's choice), and the values of the components are then corrected so that any effects of inflation for years other than 2000 are taken out. Later in this article, when actual numbers for the U.S. economy are presented and analyzed, they will be in year 2000 dollars using the year-by-year adjustment factors called "GDP deflators" to remove the effects of inflation so that only "real" (that is, inflation-adjusted) year-to-year changes are being shown and analyzed. (As a note on methodology, all numbers in any given year presented here in the Spending Allocation Model have the same GDP deflator applied, whereas the government's numbers seem to have had a slightly different deflator applied to each component of a given year's GDP. The differences thus created between the numbers here and on the Website of the Department of Commerce are immaterial.)

As mentioned earlier regarding the distinction between domestic economic activity and international trade activity, Equation (2), by the way, is sometimes useful to write the following way:

(3)GDP  =  Internal Economy + (External Economy)

Returning to Equation (2), levels of economic activity, although important, do not always tell the whole story. For example, if the price of an item that costs a dollar changes by 50 cents, that is quite a bit different from the situation where an item costing ten dollars changes by the same 50 cents: in the first case, the price has changed by 50 percent, but in the second case, the price has changed by only five percent. It is because of how absolute changes depend upon what numbers are being talked about that financial analysts and economists often prefer to look at percentages. To turn Equation (2) into an equation with everything depicted as percentages of GDP, we shall divide everything on both sides of the equation by the GDP, itself:

   =   C
  +  I
  +  G
  +  (X - M)

Simplifying the notation of Equation (4) a little bit, with the obvious result for the left side that GDP divided by GDP simply tells us that the sum of the percentages of the economy have to add up to 100%, we get this handy result:

(5)100% = %(C in GDP)+%(I in GDP)+%(G in GDP)+%(Net Exports in GDP)

Finally, further simplifying the equation to make it look pretty and compact, we have the final form of the Spending Allocation Model that we shall use for demonstrations and the actual data:

(6)100%  =  %C + %I + %G + %(X - M)

Demonstration 1: Suppose that total consumption in an economy is $400, private investment is $200, government spending, is $100, exports are $400, and imports are $100. Using Equation (1), we would get:

(7)GDP  =  $400 + $200 + $100 + ($400 - $100)

So, our GDP is $1000, and we can write Equation (2) with all the numbers filled in:

(8)$1000  =  $400 + $200 + $100 + ($400 - $100)

As a side note, from Equation (3) we can see that the internal economy is generating $700 of the total GDP, and the external economy is generating an additional $300 of the total GDP. Notice that net exports are positive $300, meaning that this economy has a trade surplus for the period under consideration; if (X-M) had come out negative, which we will show in the following example, the economy would have been running a trade deficit.

Now, we shall divide everything on both sides of the equation by the GDP, $1000, of this economy as in Equation (4):

   =   $400
  +  $200
  +  $100
  +  (+$300)

And, finally, we can write these as percentages:

(10)100%  =  40% + 20% + 10% + (+30%)

Putting this in words, the total Gross Domestic Product of this economy is 40 percent consumption, 20 percent private investment, 10 percent government expenditures, and 30 percent net exports. A little more broadly, we can see from Equation (10) that 70 percent of the economy is powered by internal, domestic activity, and the remaining 30 percent of the economy is powered by external, international trade activity.

So far, so good. All the Spending Allocation Model does is provide us a nice little framework to decompose an economy into important, separate parts, both internally and externally. It is not some deep, obscure mathematical theory at all; it is nothing more than a way we can see how the big parts of an economy each contribute to the whole of it.

The next example is just like the first, except that we shall set up a similar economy with only one difference: this time, we'll see what happens when the country runs a trade deficit instead of a trade surplus. One result of this seemingly minor alteration is a little amazing; but, first, let us get some numbers with which to work.

Demonstration 2: Suppose that total consumption, just like in Demonstration 1, is $400, private investment is $200, government spending (sometimes called "public investment" is $100, exports are $400, and imports are $600. Here, unlike in Demonstration 1, where imports were $100, we are making the level of imports larger than the level of exports, which means the economy is running a trade deficit. Using Equation (1), we would get:

(11)GDP  =  $400 + $200 + $100 + ($400 - $600)

So, our GDP is $500, and we can write Equation (2) with all the numbers filled in:

(12)$500  =  $400 + $200 + $100 + ($400 - $600)

Again, as an aside, from Equation (3) we can see that the internal economy is still generating $700 of the total GDP, but this time the external economy (the (X-M) part) is generating negative $200 of the total GDP; in other words, a trade deficit actually saps GDP downward.

Now, we shall divide everything on both sides of the equation by the GDP, $500, of this economy as in Equation (4):

   =   $400
  +  $200
  +  $100
  +  (-$200)

And, finally, we can write these as percentages:

(14)100%  =  80% + 40% + 20% + (-40%)

Putting this in words, the total gross domestic product of this economy is 80 percent consumption, 40 percent private investment, 20 percent government expenditures, and -40 percent net exports. A little more broadly, we can see from Equation (14) that 140 percent of the economy is powered by internal, domestic activity, and then the excess 40 percent of the economy is bled out by external, international trade activity.

Now, that is an interesting result: running a trade deficit allows the internal component of an economy (the C+I+G part) to burn at more than 100 percent of total GDP! Even though the trade deficit had actually lowered the gross domestic product, at the very same time it was forcing domestic consumption, private investment, and government expenditures upward because the sum of everything internal plus external must add up to 100 percent. That means, if the international component of a country's total economic activity is negative, the internal component has to be larger than 100 percent so the sum of the internal and external parts will still add up correctly.

Keep in mind, here, that this is not some "theory"; it is simply a mathematical necessity, just like two plus two has to equal four.

That still leaves the problem of how, exactly, this "equilibrium" circumstance is achieved in the real world; in other words, the question is this: How is it that a trade deficit makes the sum of consumption, private investment, and government spending go above 100 percent?

In non-mathematical terms, the equilibrium dynamic has been explained in several previous articles at The Dark Wraith Forums, including "Exchange Rate Regimes."

The concept is really quite simple to understand. When an American buys a foreign product, there is an exchange of U.S. dollars for the foreign merchandise: the domestic consumer gets an import, and, in exchange, the foreign manufacturer gets the greenbacks. This kind of trading, where currencies are swapped for goods and services, is called the "current account" because it happens in the here and now, with immediate exchange of money for goods. These are transactions involving relatively short-term assets (money and the things money can buy). Money and goods flow both ways, of course. American manufacturers export, foreign manufacturers export; American consumers buy imports, and foreign consumers buy imports. Between any two countries there will be a balance of exports versus imports; usually, one side will have exported more than it bought from the other side. This balance is the (Exports - Imports), which are called net exports in the equations above. Obviously, between any two countries, if net exports for one of the countries end up being positive for a given period, then the other country in the trading relationship will have net exports end up being negative by the same amount for the period. Overall, any country's international trade with the rest of the world can be represented as a ledger column of total exports to the rest of the world and another ledger column of total imports from the rest of the world. The sum at the bottom of the exports column is the "X" in (X-M), and the sum at the bottom of the imports column is the "M" in (X-M). If exports minus imports yields a positive number (mathematically, if (X-M)>0), then the country was a "net exporter" for the period in which the ledger was kept; on the other hand, if exports minus imports is a negative number (mathematically, if (X-M)<0), then the country was a "net importer" for the period in which the ledger was kept. A country that is a net exporter will have a net inflow of currencies from its trading partners; a country that is a net importer will have a net outflow of its currency to its trading partners.

Where a country is a net importer, then, there is a net outflow of its currency to its foreign trading partners. In the case of the United States, because we run trade deficits (in other words, (X-M) is negative), there is a net outflow of U.S. dollars to foreign countries, where they accumulate in those countries' central banks as what are called "foreign reserves." Those foreign reserves of dollars must be spent in the nation of their origin; in this case, that would be the United States.

The foreign central banks repatriate those dollars through investments in American assets, both real and financial. These investments pump those dollars back into the economy through purchases of long-term assets, the primary class of which is debt instruments.

When a borrower — be it a household, a corporation, or a government agency — borrows money, it is actually selling a debt instrument, and the lender is purchasing it. The particulars of the debt instrument — how it is repaid, the interest rate, early payment provisions, etc. — can vary widely: everything from a credit card purchase to a corporate bond to a mortgage loan to a U.S. government Treasury security is a debt instrument, each with its own "covenants." Lenders buy these, and the price they pay is, more or less, the loan amount, although a borrower might not get the whole price, depending upon terms, conditions, fees, and other agreed-upon mark-downs.

In the case of foreign lending, the central banks of countries with foreign reserves of American dollars buy U.S. debt instruments of all kinds. When corporations want to raise money through borrowing, they "issue" bonds that are purchased by investors who are nothing other than lenders. When banks want to move mortgage loans off their books, they bundle a group of them and sell the package to a corporation like Ginnie Mae, which then carves up the cash flows or otherwise separates, rearranges, then blends the individual loans into very large "secondary mortgage market" instruments that are sold to big investors who are, again, nothing other than lenders since the money they pay for those secondary mortgage market bonds flows back through the banking system to become more money available to banks to lend.

Among borrowers, though, the United States government, itself, is a veritable 800-pound gorilla, these days, as it has been at other times in American history. Any time the federal government raises insufficient revenues through taxes to pay for its current obligations, it runs a "budget deficit" for the period under consideration, and that shortfall of revenues to meet expenditures must be borrowed. The federal government gets its loans by selling Treasury securities, which are debt instruments of the United States government. It sells all kinds: very short-term, promissory paper called Treasury bills ("T-bills"); intermediate-term paper called Treasury notes; and long-term paper called Treasury bonds. Treasury auctions are held periodically by the United States Treasury Department, and at these auctions, the government sells as much paper of different kinds as it must to raise the money it needs to meet its shortfall. Treasury auctions occur at regular intervals, and lenders from around the world come to these auctions (not physically, of course, since everything is done electronically, these days) to buy the paper the Treasury is offering. When the government is borrowing money, this is one of the ways foreign central banks repatriate to the United States the dollars they have acquired through trade with us. (More on this particular topic can be found in the article "Foreign Trade and Debt" at The Dark Wraith Forums.)

Bringing this back to the Spending Allocation Model, in times when the United States is running trade surpluses, the American central bank, the Federal Reserve, as an agency of the U.S. government is a net investor to the rest of the world; when the United States is running trade deficits, the central banks of foreign countries are, on balance, net investors to the American economy.

The Spending Allocation Model can be represented as a teeter-totter on one side of which is the internal component of the overall GDP, which is the sum of our consumption, private investment, and government spending; on the other side is the external component of overall GDP, the difference between how much we sell abroad and how much we buy from abroad. The entire sum of the percentages of consumption, private investment, government spending, and net exports constitutes 100 percent of GDP, as illustrated in the graphic immediately below.

Spending Allocation Model

If the U.S. were to run a trade surplus of, say, five percent of GDP, the teeter-totter would produce the overall 100 percent of GDP by allocating five percent to our external trade activities, with the remaining 95 percent allocated among the internal components of the economy, as shown in the graphic below.

Spending Allocation Model with a 5% trade surplus

On the other hand — and this is the one that seems almost perverse — if the U.S. were to run a trade deficit of five percent of overall GDP, as illustrated below, that would mean the internal components of the economy would have to be 105 percent of GDP to keep the final sum of all the percentages equal to 100 percent.

Spending Allocation Model with a 5% trade deficit

In recent years, the United States has run trade deficits, in part because the U.S. dollar has been very valuable ("strong," in the vernacular of international trade) against other currencies. Much of that was the natural result of the strength of the American economy: it is massive; it is diverse in its productive output; the labor force is generally educated, well-fed, and enculturated to a work-for-compensation ethic; and the banking system is sound. The United States is the banker to the world; as such, it gets banker's preference in interest rates, terms, and conditions of its borrowings, which means it can serve as a global financial intermediary. Furthermore, the federal government is good for what it owes: it has a huge tax base of wage-earning citizens, and it has a legacy of more than 200 years of continuity in governance, having even at one time proved its internal federal supremacy by crushing a multi-state rebellion against rule by the central government. Its institutions, both private and public, are the subject of the rule of law, and its laws and their enforcement, while strong and comprehensive, are subject to review by an independent judiciary. Its banking system is the subject of strong, consistent, and pervasive oversight; and its currency, even though backed by nothing other than the "full faith and credit" of the central government, is every bit as good as gold in any transaction anywhere in the country.

To the extent that the United States is able to maintain the validity of and belief in the representations above, its currency maintains its strength against foreign equivalents; and just like any good bank, the United States then serves as a magnet for investment from around the world, and those of other nationalities will strive to acquire American dollars that can then be invested back into our historically powerful engine of solid, relatively safe returns on investment. In practical terms, this means the currencies of other countries will have a persistent tendency to be "weak" against the dollar, if for no other reason than that such weakness will cause foreign imports to the U.S. to be relatively cheaper than American exports to the rest of the world. In essence, foreigners will be willing to sell their goods and services here via the current account at attractive prices so they can receive valuable American greenbacks in exchange because those dollars can then come back here via the capital account to earn solid returns.

Unfortunately, the downside of this is two-fold: first, this means our economy will persistently be the target of foreign investment, which means claims on future cash flows generated by American assets are owned by those of other nations; second, a foreign central bank, especially one with weakness in its own, internal economy, will have an incentive to cheat by making its currency weaker than it already is, or by keeping that currency inappropriately weak long after it has gained considerable strength relative to the American dollar. The reason for such an incentive to cheat is that, by keeping a currency weak against the dollar, the productive base of that foreign economy ensures a continuing export market for its goods and services, which boosts that country's own GDP; but the harm done is of several types, not the least of which is that, by maintaining a continuing inflow of greenbacks in foreign reserves, the country's central bank must expend those assets in the United States, not in its own country, thereby sapping its own productive base of needed capital to continue growing.

Far worse, however, is the damage done by the mechanics of how a cheating country "pegs" the exchange rate of its currency to the dollar, which is by printing its own currency in massive quantities and then entering global currency markets to buy dollars with that money. The result is inevitable: sooner or later, all of that currency printed in excess of what the country's own economy needed for internal transactions will come back to its own shores; and whenever the growth rate of a money supply exceeds the real (that is, physically productive) growth of the economy backing it, the "overhang" will become inflation. Countries that have played the game of pegging their currencies against the U.S. dollar have almost all, eventually, come to the same disastrous place: hyperinflation, which made their currencies become so worthless that they could not buy anything in international markets, which forced them to use their gold reserves, which they then wiped out. After that, these hapless governments no longer had any way to keep their economies from collapsing under the weight of inflation, sky-rocketing interest rates, and resulting social instability. In the end, rebellions and revolutions happened; or, much worse, the International Monetary Fund sent in the economists to take control of the central banks while Right-wing, authoritarian governments got installed to set about shooting the fussy peasants.

With respect to the United States and the dollar's natural tendency to be strong against the currencies of other nations, the resulting trade deficits have both an upside and a downside. To the benefit of the United States, those current account trade deficits mean that the internal part of the economy — again, the sum of household consumption, private business investment, and government spending — will run at greater than 100 percent of the total GDP of the economy. To the detriment of the United States, as shown in Demonstration 2, above, that total GDP of the country is lower because of the productive capacity we are allowing overseas manufacturers to carry by virtue of their production of the goods and services we buy. In the language of those opposed to extensive trade with other countries, the United States loses millions of jobs because we buy things from overseas instead of buying them from domestic producers. There is, however, no evil intent in Americans buying foreign imports: people are rational, and they will tend toward purchases that save them money. Grand exhortations to "buy American" simply will not win the day when real money and real, personal decisions must be made about the use of limited income in a world of many needs and even more wants.

The Spending Allocation Model comes to life in the real numbers from the U.S. economy, and this is a model that gives quite interesting insights, especially in the context of the forces that have brought the economy to its current situation. The table below shows the year-by-year breakdown, from 1990 to 2007, according to the Spending Allocation Model. Each cluster of rows presents one year, first with the model, itself, then with the actual, inflation-adjusted number for each component, then with the percentage each component constitutes in total GDP. The final row for each year shows the total internal percentage of GDP (that arising from the sum of consumption, investment, and government), and the part arising from external, international trade. Readers will be able to see exactly how, in each year, the trade deficit exactly matched, as a negative number, the extent to which the internal part of the economy exceeded 100 percent of GDP.


More Than A Little Tired Of All The Nonsense

by: Debra

I used to think that I despised Bush more than any other person on the planet. Just looking at him or worse yet, listening to him butcher the English language and I would invariably say "Gawd, I can't stand that man." Then Obama came along and while he may be articulate, my reaction is exactly the same. Now, ungrateful and extremely forgetful black leaders (or as they are known in my house, Phyllis Schafly in black drag) are threatening Clinton (wasn't my favorite candidate) with her Senatorial position (a job she has done most excellently) by saying she will need to heal racial wounds. Wounds that have been there for hundreds of years and are likely to remain for hundreds more. Eff you. How about all the sexist wounds Obama and his supporters have inflicted in their zeal to get an untried, and more than likely unqualified, black man elected to the highest office? All he has done is run for office, he hasn't served either his country (has McCain beat that horse to death yet?) or his constituency. The majority of people in this country are women and if you think that women will forgive and foret the crap that has been pulled, the 30 second sound bites pulled out of context, the focus on her hair, clothes or voice, or just the the sheer arrogance of men patting us on the head and telling us that things will be alright as soon as their candidate is elected, you are sadly mistaken. Since Obama is all rhetoric and no substance that I have ever seen demonstrated, he's the perfect replacement for Bush. Does he even vote unless it's something that might help him in the polls or does just being present count? And his wife's expressions are making the Klingon Representative look positively serene. Gawd, I honestly and truly can't stand the man. And nobody could have foreseen that, but only an idiot would think that there isn't a crazed assassin out there. One who doesn't like black people or women. People need to get a grip.

The crybaby party wails again. Once more Democrats are falsely (now there's a surprise) accused of encouraging big government. When Gray Davis was forced out of office there were only eight people on the government's dime that were making over 200,000 a year. Now there are over a 1000. And the number of people collecting over $100,000 has doubled. Everybody got a raise except for the people who needed it. But we must cut back on services, education and anything else that might help the poor. And in true Republican tradition, all the problems are being blamed on the Democrat before them, even though Schwarzenegger has been in power for over six years. Good grief, Republicans can't take responsibility for wetting their pants. They hold up the budget every year with ridiculous demands, mostly involving cuts to poor, sick or elderly people, and then blame it on the Democrats.

I wonder if he'll get a mention in Funk and Wagnall's. Rest in peace Mr. Martin, you brought me many hours of laughter when I was a kid. The news of the future is much bleaker.

I saw Indy and I liked it. Except for the running commentary on other subjects provided by the two year old behind me. I have to admit the audience was a little older than I'm used to seeing but that is no excuse to bring a young child and disturb everyone around you. I know I missed some of the best lines because of the chattering and the lady beside me would have gotten an usher if the movie hadn't been rocking and rolling from one adventure to the next. I might go see it again this morning. I prefer to pay $6 for the matinee as opposed to $10.25 for an evening show.


24 May 2008

Taken From My Porch Just Now

by: Minstrel Boy

Great Egret. These guys are elegant hunters. Fish, frogs, but also mice, lizards and other small game. They figure if it's smaller, slower, stupider than them, it's on the menu.

Fuck the stupid stuff Hillary just said. This is more interesting. I'm hosting several of my collegues from the college for a potluck get together to celebrate the end of the school term. I'm bringing the ice cream.

harp and sword

Momentary Lapse Of Reason

by: Debra

If only it was momentary, but this is more like falling into the event horizon of a black hole. It keeps going on and on, like a really bad dream. A moment of remembrance to pay tribute to our veterans. Could this President (and I use that term extremely loosely) blow it out his ass any more? No raises, no G.I. Bill, limited benefits that the injured have to beg for, stop-loss as a way of life, inadequate armor, a Green Zone that isn't safe and all they get is a moment of remembrance for their sacrifice? With a little luck nobody will remember this schmuck except as a monument to the stupidity of the crew without a clue. That is either swept up in an monstrous twister or disappears when another levee breaks.
Bush had several suggestions for how to honor the sacrifices of those who have fought for the United States — place a flag at a veteran's grave, go to a battlefield or say a prayer. He said the moment of remembrance would be marked Monday at 3 p.m. local time.

"At that moment, Major League Baseball games will pause, the National Memorial Day parade will halt, Amtrak trains will blow their whistles and buglers in military cemeteries will play taps," he said Saturday in his weekly radio address.
If only our long national nightmare was over. That would be a great headline for January 20,2009, wouldn't it? Somehow I just don't see Bubble Boy following the Constitution then since he hasn't followed it for the last eight years.

Oops! Famous people and lawmakers are being caught up in the foreclosure crisis. Another one of things that the crew without a clue couldn't have foreseen.

Double oops! Racism in Alabama, now who would have ever thought that was still happening. I'm sure Harper Lee is just thrilled. Empty minds indeed.

From racism to sexism. Girl does better than boys, parents demand she not be allowed to play with the boys. The boys didn't mind having her in the league. Oh yeah, this country is advanced alright. Into the Dark Ages.

Pot has been back in the news with the typical governmental scare tactics and I've tried to ignore the stories, but when the truly uninformed write an article and say things like
One thing has changed: Pot packs a bigger wallop now than it did in the '70s. Today's leaves are up to five times as potent. So, says Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, still-developing brains, which are "more plastic, more sensitive to being modified," are exposed to higher doses of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.
Two things spring immediately to mind. One, they know nothing about pot, people don't smoke the leaves, they smoke the buds. And two, why don't they worry about all the prescription drugs they pump into these developing brains to make them conform to a societal standard of behavior? Oh that's right, they were prescribed and it's okay if kids are turned into unthinking automatons that do everything they are told without questioning.

Clinton must stop campaigning, according to all the pundits and people who don't believe in a true democratic process, you know the one where everyone gets a nominal say in the process. Meanwhile, Ron Paul and his supporters haven't given up running against a stumbling McCain campaign and the NY Times has an article up today that might as well be a love letter. Granted it was in the Fashion & Style section, but it's still better treatment than Hillary has gotten.


· · ·

Nukeyler Blast from the Past

by: blackdog

This one never shown in the good 'ol usa leaves me speechless, the shrub at it's finest. Sorry to ruin your breakfast. This is from June, 2004.

Courtesy of Democratic Underground.

I should add that this interview by Carole Coleman of RTE News was conducted in the White House just before the shrub left to puke on Irish soil.

I should also add that the White House issued a formal complaint to the Irish Government just after this interview in an attempt to have the reporter fired from RTE, saying that she was rude to the poor shrub.

After doing a search at RTE, evidently Ms. Coleman is still alive and well. Here is a link to a recent RTE article about her.
23 May 2008

Pro Forma Sessions Block Recess Appointments

by: Foiled Goil

A quick Senate session blocks Bush appointees

Jim Abrams, AP:

The Senate is famed for its longwinded debates, but on Friday it took Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown just seconds to stop Republicans in their tracks.

With the Senate entering the first day of its Memorial Day recess, the Ohio senator was briefly in the chair, before a near-empty chamber, to gavel in and gavel out what is called a pro forma session. Without that procedural move, the Senate would technically be adjourned and President Bush could install administration officials or judges as ''recess appointments'' -- without Senate confirmation. [snip]

The mini-sessions must be held every three days to keep the Senate from officially going into recess. Next Tuesday, Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., who also got pro forma duty over the New Year holiday because he lives nearby, will take the chair. On Thursday, Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., will do his few seconds' worth.

· ·

McSame Flip Flops On Supporting The Troops

by: Foiled Goil

Three Senators missed the vote for Senator Jim Webb’s 21st Century GI Bill: Senator Ted Kennedy, for health reasons; Senator Tom Coburn, to attend a funeral; and Senator John McCain, to attend a swanky California fundraiser.

Then yesterday, after being criticized by Senator Barack Obama for his opposition to the bill, Senator John McCain said:
I believe that I have earned the right to speak out on veterans’ issues. As a matter of fact I received the highest award from literally every veteran’s organization in America. I don’t know if the American people will judge Senator Obama as to whether he has military experience or not, but they may judge him as to whether he has experience and knowledge to make the judgment necessary to care for the veterans.
In fact, his stance against the GI bill not only places him squarely in the minority of the Senate, but puts him in opposition to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the American Legion, and the national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

The recognition McCain has received from veterans groups is not “high awards” but failing grades:

— Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America gave McCain a grade of D for his record of voting against veterans. (By contrast, Obama got a B+.)

— Disabled Veterans of America noted McCain’s dismal 20 percent voting record on veterans’ issues. (Obama had an 80 percent.)

— In a list of “Key Votes,” Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) notes McCain “Voted Against Us” 15 times and “Voted For Us” only 8. (Obama voted for VVA 12 times, and against only once.)

McCain frequently cites his own experience as a POW in Vietnam as the ultimate evidence of his dedication to his fellow veterans. Unfortunately, his record...

Thirty-five years after McCain's return to the United States, the Veterans Health Administration has undergone a sea change. […]

And for many of those thirty-five years, McCain, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, the candidate who talks the best talk on veterans issues, has demonstrated a tendency to work against veterans' interests, voting time after time against funding and in favor of privatizing services -- in other words, of rolling back the VA's improvements by supporting some of the same policies that wrecked Walter Reed.
...belies his rhetoric.

· ·
22 May 2008

Senate Approves 21st Century GI Bill

by: Foiled Goil

The Senate, by a veto-proof 75-22 margin, has overwhelmingly approved Senator Jim Webb's 21st Century GI Bill.

Senator John McCain, who opposes the bill, skipped the vote because he was too busy holding a fundraiser. Both Senator Obama and Senator Clinton, prior to voting for the bill, spoke on the floor in favor it. Also voting of favor of the bill were nine of the fifteen Republicans whose seats are up for re-election.

George W. Bush has stated that he will veto the bill.

More at Think Progress.


A Kinder, Gentler America

by: Debra

Exists in our imagination, not in reality. In reality, we treat people who need help as a disgusting drain on the system. No matter what the circumstances or how innocent they may be. And if they aren't from this country, we won't and don't give them the care and consideration that an American would expect to receive in a foreign country under the same circumstances. And we call ourselves civilized. More... There is going to come a time, most likely in the near future, when we will need the type of help that China or Burma currently need and the world will turn its back on us. And we will complain mightily, totally forgetting all of the cruel, insensitive and depraved actions we have taken against those who we have determined are less than human. White American humans that is.

And then there are the Israelis. The usual bullets against stones, with the normal result. I know my position isn't popular, Ireland has been one of the safest places in the world recently and who would have predicted that back in the 70s?

While I empathize with Damien Cave, imagine being an Iraqi veteran and trying to readjust to society in an America that doesn't care. Without the job, the money, or the contacts.

No, they didn't. The trauma and drama is something that will affect ALL those kids for many years to come. While there is something definitely wrong with the way the elders practice their lifestyle, the kids did not deserve to have their lives totally destroyed. 400 kids, forcibly separated from the only love they had ever known. You bet it was wrong. But then, this is the state that also contains Waco. And Crawford.

Do you like oral sex? How about some velvet handcuffs, feathers and a major tickle session before getting down to those three minutes that are supposed to satisfy? Do you like the lights on? Do you prefer to physically be with someone of your own sex? Do you like to do it in the shower? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you might be a deviant. At least according to the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders that is currently being worked on. By appointees of the current Bush administration. The definition of normal sex (according to the American Psychiatric Association, that bastion of people who determine what is normal and what isn't) is being worked on once again. I think they discovered that some people don't even do it under the covers. Oh, the horror.

Okay, enough funning around, back to the world we live in now. Only in America can one lose one's home for a $68 dental bill. My potted tomatoes (if the wind doesn't blow them away today) are worth more than that bill. In what world do you take someone's place of residence in lieu of smaller items? There are people who have larger outstanding phone or cable bills and they are still living in their homes, but with satellite and cell phones instead. Can indentured servitude for parking tickets be far behind?

IIRTZ and Debsweb

· ·

"As much energy is released in one second by the death of a star as by all of the other stars you can see in the visible universe."

by: astraea

WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a stroke of cosmic luck, astronomers for the first time witnessed the start of one of the universe's most fiery events: the end of a star's life as it exploded into a supernova.


As we transform our own darkness, we find a seed of released light [gold] which then can help redeem the collective. ~aohowell

The 'Negative Quest ' - losing the Ring - is about sacrificing power in order to attain wisdom (Saturn, hence the Ring gets heavier) - which is always about earthing the divine through mortality and limitation.
~Maureen Roberts

There's a moral imperative in there. You make up your mind. One has to personally make up his or her mind as to whether they have a personal responsibility towards the Earth. I personally do. And then how you use the Earth or don't use the Earth has to come out of that moral imperative. It has to be a personal choice. ~Phoebe Wray

The earth and the innocents heal us by their very existence. ~Phoebe Wray

the Self (to use Jungian jargon) is the very fount and mother of all that comes into fleeting existence, not as some ultimate 'other' but the very openness in which life and change arise as its own display.
~Mike Dickman

Forsooth, brethren, fellowship is heaven and lack of fellowship is hell; fellowship is life and lack of fellowship is death; and the deeds that ye do upon the earth, it is for fellowship's sake that ye do them.
~William Morris, Dream of John Ball

I am discovering that just as Eros connects Heaven to Earth, it connects Mind to Body through the Heart in the microcosm. So, there seems to be no way to link body and mind other than through the heart. ~Anand

Arwen, her flashbacks / forwards woven into the story (which wasn't in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but extrapolated from the Silmarillion) makes it also Return of the Queen... and she joins her king at the end as a conclusion that rides into the future, dynasty and all. I thought: as a woman, if I could choose between having children or immortality, I would choose children. At some point, this choice was made on a cosmic scale: It's a wondrous gamble, all of it, powers unimaginable putting their will beyond their reach and into creatures like us... deborah all forms of becoming conscious, the attitude you have toward the work is part of the work. Both cause and result. A process, and a philosophy. For all seasons. Evolving...CB

The difference between the “natural” individuation process, which runs its course unconsciously, and the one which is consciously realized, is tremendous. In the first case consciousness nowhere intervenes; the end remains as dark as the beginning. In the second case so much darkness comes to light that the personality is permeated with light, and consciousness necessarily gains in scope and insight. The encounter between conscious and unconscious has to ensure that the light which shines in the darkness is not only comprehended by the darkness, but comprehends it. The filius solis et lunae is the symbol of the union of opposites as well as the catalyst of their union. It is the alpha and omega of the process, the mediator and intermedius. “It has a thousand names,” say the alchemists, meaning that the source from which the individuation process rises and the goal towards which it aims is nameless, ineffable. CGJUNG

the moon's favors
21 May 2008

Thank You

by: Debra

For all the best wishes on that day of days. Let me say that things did not turn out well (the car developed engine problems ) and the end result was just like the song says, another day older and deeper in debt. But I have to admit those were some of the nicest compliments I've ever received. smile

On the bright side, I've decided on the one instance in which I can vote for Obama. If John Edwards is his Veep choice. Because sooner or later, and probably sooner than people expect, some melanin impaired, deranged, and totally believing that he is righting a wrong done to the country, some fool will outwit the SS, I mean the Secret Service, and the Veep will become POTUS. Why isn't Hillary a part of the dream ticket? Because some other deranged person will decide that isn't a good idea and arrange another unelected Veep of their persuasion and then we'll be back to the original problem. There is no Quayle that will serve as insurance this time around. Now wasn't that cheerful?

On the gardening front, Shadow dug up and ate most of the pea shoots while I was gone and chewed the buttons off of Mom's sweater. Bad doggie! With a temper.

I'm extremely sorry about Ted Kennedy. It isn't like that family hasn't had more than its share of angst and tragedy. For some reason, the men in that family seem to have been doomed to traumatic fates that are statistically out of proportion to the population at large, if you discount those that aren't melanin impaired.

Why does every current generation believe that an older generation didn't know how to have fun? We could ask McCain if it was fun dancing around on the hot earth until someone invented shoes, but I'd rather watch and listen to one of my favorite songs.

It never fails to get me moving and those guys looked like they were having fun, especially when the trombones were being tossed into the air. They didn't destroy their instruments back then.

My musical tastes seem to be a little varied, something I'm very proud of as I age. I try not to be a musical stick in the mud, but rap and opera still grate on the same nerve. Country used to do that but you can hardly tell it from 80s big hair rock nowadays. Every thing is the same, the makeup, the hair, glitzy outfits, only the twang is new. Wait, Bon Jovi is now a country star? What's up with that?

Again, thanks for all the best wishes. They made my day when I got back. smile


Senior Moment

by: Missouri Mule

What candidate has lobbyist holding their breath that their star will fall and break his hip?

Unnervingly, John McSame is refusing to pull a Fidel and shuffle gracefully out of the spotlight. His sluggish demeanor hasn't slowed his quest to become the oldest president ever elected.

It really is shameful how liberals use McSane’s growing senility against him. President Reagan was plenty old and in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease and look at what a wonderful leader he was! McCain may be angry and crazy and completely wrong, but he’s a white Republican man and, therefore, clearly Jesus’ choice.
20 May 2008

McLobbyist McEthics

by: Foiled Goil

From McCain

McCain Has Had At Least 118 Lobbyists
Running His Campaign & Raising Money For Him

A Primer On Five Of McCain's Top Lobbyist Cronies

McCain & Boeing

McCain’s Lobbyists In Trouble For Foreign Lobbying

John McCain's Lobbyists

Same Old Washington Corruption:
McCain Ties To The Same Special Interests He Decries

* * * * *

McCain Finds a Thorny Path in Ethics Effort

Sorting out the lobbying entanglements of his campaign advisers is proving to be a messy business for Senator John McCain.

On Monday, just days after it issued new rules to address conflicts of interest, the McCain campaign was furiously sifting through the business records of aides and advisers. The new rules were prompted by disclosures that led to the abrupt departure from the campaign of a number of aides who worked as lobbyists, including some with ties to foreign governments.

Mr. McCain’s political identity has long been defined by his calls for reducing the influence of special interests in Washington. But as he heads toward the general election as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, he has increasingly confronted criticism that his campaign staff is stocked with people who have made their living as lobbyists or in similar jobs, leaving his credentials as a reformer open to attack.

The process of trying to purge the campaign of conflicts that in appearance or reality might violate Mr. McCain’s stated principles or cause him political trouble has so far focused only more attention on the backgrounds of his aides and advisers.

New DNC Project: McCainPedia

· ·

Ted Kennedy Has Brain Tumor

by: Foiled Goil

Sen. Edward Kennedy has malignant brain tumor

A cancerous brain tumor caused the seizure Sen. Edward M. Kennedy suffered over the weekend, doctors said Tuesday in a grim diagnosis for one of American politics' most enduring figures. "He remains in good spirits and full of energy," the doctors for the 76-year-old Massachusetts Democrat said in a statement.

They said tests conducted after the seizure showed a tumor in Kennedy's left parietal lobe. Preliminary results from a biopsy of the brain identified the cause of the seizure as a malignant glioma, they said.

His treatment will be decided after more tests but the usual course includes combinations of radiation and chemotherapy.

Statement from Kennedy's doctors on brain tumor


Best wishes for Senator Kennedy, and his family.

· ·

New GI Bill Ads From VoteVets

by: Foiled Goil’s New Ads on the GI Bill Action Fund is undertaking an ad blitz to ensure passage of the bipartisan 21st Century GI Bill, introduced by Senators Jim Webb and Chuck Hagel. This bill would update educational benefits for our troops to cover the cost of college – a benefit they’ve earned. Unfortunately, Senators John McCain and John Cornyn oppose this legislation, which could split the Senate. Takes On McCain and Cornyn in New TV Ads

Brandon Friedman, May 20, 2008:

We're launching an ad blitz today aimed at Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and John Cornyn (R-TX). If you've kept up with the news, you know that this has been a long time coming. We've listened to the debate go back and forth for months now, but the refusal of certain Senators to support the Webb-Hagel GI Bill can no longer be tolerated by veterans.
In both ads, veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan explain that only the Webb-Hagel bill will fully grant them the educational benefits they've earned, while a substitute bill, offered by McCain will grant them only a fraction of their benefits. Neither McCain nor Cornyn back the Webb-Hagel bill, which is due for consideration in the Senate this week.

"We didn't give a fraction in Iraq," the veterans say in the ad. "We gave 100 percent."
The McCain version of the ad began airing this morning in heavy rotation on Washington, DC cable and broadcast, while the Cornyn version of the ad began on broadcast and cable in the Waco and San Antonio markets, which both include military bases.

Here are the two ads:

Ad #1, Urging Senator John McCain to support the 21st Century GI Bill

Ad #2, Urging Senator John Cornyn to support the 21st Century GI Bill [:30]

Demand that Senators McCain and Cornyn show respect and support the troops by signing on to The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act (S.22 & H.R.2702).

· · · ·

In Da "House!"

by: Minstrel Boy

I was just kicking back, flipping through the TIVO'd finale of "House." Watching them go through the usual stuff. You know how House works. The Doctors earnestly in good faith fuck everything up until, at the last moment, in a flash of inspiration they get it right.

The right thing they got came in the 3rd act. 13, one of the doctors who works with House, is having an emotional meltdown moment. She takes refuge in the lady's room, sitting in a stall. Right over her left shoulder is a sticker that says "Vote For Change '08." Then they cut to her feet. House's sneaker comes under the stall divider and he says "Wide Stance."

That's beautiful and subversive stuff. During the conversation, taking place in a bathroom, where at least three republicans that I can think of off the top of my head met their downfalls. We are reminded which party has the bathroom lurkers. Everytime they cut to the gorgeous young actress playing 13, there it is, big as life and twice as lovely, "Vote For Change '08."

To top it off, they did this on Fox.

Sometimes I remember what it was that I loved about living and working in Hollywood.

They did this on Fox.

harp and sword
19 May 2008

To Debra on Her Birthday

by: Dark Wraith

Happy Birthday, Debra.

Allow me an offering of optimism begun with a painful dose of cynical realism.

You are now 52 years old. That means, in all likelihood, most of your total years on this good Earth have already passed, and those now behind you were probably, at least now, in retrospect, better than those you still have to live.

This view of a person's past becomes all the more depressing as the person becomes even older: when you are 62, the years behind you, even the ones when you were 52 and 55 and 60, will be better than the prospect of those ahead.

This is all just human nature. Even in our myths of creation, across cultures and across time, people have been describing, imagining, believing in, and longing for a place in the past they know was better. Certainly, science can tell us that this just is not the case: the dark pre-history of humanity was far more brutish, cold, and unforgiving than what we endure now; but that really gives no comfort to the individual who possesses personal, good memories of his or her own past. It serves no purpose to wreck such memories, even if they are cut from a broad cloth of colors that just weren't there when the person lived through those times now well remembered.

The future really is bleak for us, both as a people and as individuals in our own, individual lives; and the day will surely come when the infinite well of nothingness will swallow our minds whole as we die, never again, after that melancholy passage, to see, to touch, to hear, to feel, or even to laugh and cry.

With such a certainty of fate, what could possibly make life worth living one more day?

It is this, my friend. On January 20, 2009, George W. Bush will no longer be President of the United States of America.

If that does not give you a reason to live, then you are far worse than clinically depressed: you are, in fact, a Republican.

The Dark Wraith has spoken.

For Deb on her Birthday

by: blackdog

Many of us look up to you dear lady, this is for you with no pun intended, just to enjoy with some of the Minstrel's icecream, sit out in the garden and watch them tomatoes ripen. Cab Calloway was one of the best in my mind, it's maybe the only present I can supply at this time.

I hope you enjoy.

I love this. Makes me wish I was 25.


Without a pic, here is another gift I hope you like, my twin sister had all their albums way back when and I almost learned to dance from those sounds. These girls were fantastic and changed the horizon for many.


Just because I love this and I hope you do too, these girls turned this white world around on it's head at a time that it was needed. We need more like them today.

I'll shut up now.

Maybe I won't.

Update III

From a lady that should never, ever quit.The jewel of my Nile, Aretha herself.

Now I really do shut up.

Happy birthday Debra. Wish I could do more.

China and the "Free Market" Myth

by: Dark Wraith

A new article by Naomi Klein at Rolling Stone magazine describes how the Chinese government, with the aid of U.S. defense contractors, is using high technology to advance its version of a sweeping, all-seeing police state. The following is an expanded version of my comment on this story at the Weblog BlondeSense.

As a foreword, I trust that many readers recall the numerous occasions upon which I have described the apparachiks of the Chinese government as nothing other than "communist mercantilist thugs." On several occasions, I have added the adjective "murderous" to that description. I have also written previously, extensively, and in detail about foreign trade with China: my May 2005 article, "Seven Principles of Macroeconomics," is a good primer for those who are relatively more recent readers.

For years, we as a nation allowed the monstrosity that is the People's Republic of China (what we used to call "Red China") to hold the dollar-yuan exchange rate at the ridiculously non-market ratio of 1:8.28, thereby causing Chinese imports to the United States to cost perhaps a third or so of what they otherwise would have under purchasing power parity. The effect was to induce a massive, year-over-year flow of U.S. dollars into the central bank of China as we bought those cheap imports. This is the so-called "current account": we trade American dollars for the cheap imports.

The backflow of the current account, matching in size the trade deficits we run from year to year, is the so-called "capital account": that is where those American greenbacks return to the United States as investment by the Chinese in American assets. In this capital account, which is the long-term mirror image of the current account, we are getting Chinese investment in exchange for claims on our future expected cash flows. The Chinese buy U.S. government debt securities, secondary mortgage market paper, commercial real estate interests, corporate debt instruments, municipal bonds, and other lending and ownership claims; we get the investment, and they get claim to future money that is earned by those assets we are selling to them.

No free market exists when one component of the overall market is cheating; and that is exactly what the Chinese have been doing for years and years, all while our politicians, economists, big-business apparachiks, and other assorted fools stood around all misty-eyed about the lies the communist mercantilists were telling about "market reforms."

In summary, there has been no "free market" in the rush to "globalization," especially in the Sino-American quarter. Not only have the Chinese all along been rigging the game while we looked the other way, but it finally became so ridiculously, pervasively obvious that, years into the affair, the Bush Administration felt it had to buttress the myth in writing, declaring with a straight face that the Chinese were not manipulating the dollar-yuan exchange rate. The President's apologists in the U.S. Treasury Department made this ludicrous assertion for no reason other than that the Bush Administration, itself, with the aid of its Republican-controlled Congresses, has been generating staggering, year-over-year federal budget deficits, thereby desperately needing the Chinese (and other foreign central banks) to keep lending dollars to the United States Treasury. Those dollars being lent by the foreigners are, of course, the very same dollars Americans had previously traded in the current account for cheap foreign goods and services.

Again, the "free market" claim in global trading relationships was, is, and always will be a disingenuous, corrosive delusion because it is attended by a destructive lack of firm, resolute, punitive actions by the country being harmed by a cheater, which is what China was, is, and always will be.

The paradigm of some nearly mystical, natural tendency toward free markets is a myth cuddled to the breast bone of childish, simplistic idiots, most of them conservatives, Right-wingers, and Libertarians. Asymmetric information, imperfect allocation of physical resources, and concentration of capital, influence, and power all ensure that no market is free; and, as such, no policy that assumes the benefit of a free market will lead to other than defeat when the opponents know very well that the paradigm is a myth. The Right-wing/conservative fantasy of China moving toward free markets has been every bit as delusional as the old Leftist/liberal myths about the wonders of socialism in countries like Cuba under the fist of a repressive tyrant like Castro. (But, of course, Cuba has universal healthcare, so that makes everything all better, doesn't it?)

China is ascendant, which means its brutal, repressive version of authoritarianism is, as well. As the aforementioned article in Rolling Stone illustrates, this is all to the benefit of the corporate engines of war-making, law enforcement, and punishment: they sell the instruments of repression to those who must rule by oppression. No longer is authoritarianism about politics; it's business, and the business is booming.

On the global stage, the Chinese have beaten us; in fact, they have trounced us at our own game, and they have done so by having a clarity of purpose that has perpetually eluded us in the game of world control. How they did it certainly wasn't "fair and square"; but, then again, no one other than misty-eyed American politicians and their fellow idiots in business and academia thought fairness was part of the game.

And, no, the American capability for violent military force does not make up for intelligence in the game of global domination; but even there, if our wondrously astute thinkers in government and the military had the common sense to correct for the undervaluation of the Chinese currency, the revelation about the level and growth of military expenditures in China would scare the Hell out of anyone.

Oh, yes, one more thing: the Chinese accumulation of foreign reserves of America dollars was not a good thing during the 1990s, but the capital account backflow was going only to credit-hungry consumers and hyper-growth-obsessed corporate debt jockeys. The "credit crisis" we now face happened after the U.S. government, which had finally gotten into budget surpluses during the Clinton Administration, went hog wild under spend-spend-spend Republican rule led by "conservative" President George W. Bush. Starting in 2002, the U.S. Treasury was stepping up to the hog trough of foreign lenders, thereby shoving aside ("crowding out," to use an old economics term) both business and consumer credit opportunities. Few people know this, but before consumers recently started seeing the credit crunch, private investment had already been dropping as a percentage of GDP for several years. (In a few days, I shall publish an article wherein I show the numbers.)

The bottom line is obvious. The world is full of bad people; most can do little harm beyond their immediate families, their communities, and their circles of close acquaintances. It is only through the machinations of those who are like-minded in their evil or weak in their resolve that the bad people of the world can do extensive damage. If we want to see why the Chinese thugs will become a globally dominant force, vicious in its internal controls and appalling in its hegemony in the years to come, we need look no further than to the mirror on the wall, wherein lies the image of a foolish nation ruled by free-market advocates who cannot seem to comprehend that globalism is the clarion call of those ready, willing, and able to do anything whatsoever to ensure that they come out the winners, even if that 'anything whatsoever' wrecks the world, the sovereign nations of it, and the right to freedom of its inhabitants.

Welcome to the 21st Century; it's sort of like the 20th Century, except that it's going to suck even more.

Just be sure to vote for one of those unprepared morons running for President: you'll all get just what you deserve.

Unfortunately, so will the rest of us.

The Dark Wraith has spoken.

Cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums

· · · · ·

BFD, Guess Whose Birthday It Is

by: Debra

If you guessed mine, you're right. Big whoop, I'm 52, though I'm pretty sure the rest of me would prefer 25. I had a really good time that year. I went to Vegas on the train for the first time. This year, not much is going to happen.

I'm one of those practical girls, in case you couldn't tell. While I don't want a refrigerator or vacuum for a gift, geek stuff is always welcome. Things that make my life safer or more convenient are also a good bet. One year my baby brother gave me a Fry's gift card for Christmas and was worried that he had offended me until he saw me squealing and running around the house. I spent that sucker the next day. Now that was one of my favorite gifts of all time. On the other hand, Mother Nature has presented me with a few really good looking tomato babies. Little green nuggets that will hopefully turn into ripe green tomatoes.

It never ceases to amaze me how people think of themselves first when they are buying you a gift. It was so hot in my car the other day that some of the speaker wires on my iPod melted in certain spots. Since I'm never without the thing, don't you think headphones would have made a great gift? I have music in my life everyday (courtesy of the radio or the iPod, I can't play a note) and I'm disappointed that something so simple escaped my friends. Especially today. Or, how about having my knives professionally sharpened, that would have been both cool and useful. A Costco cash card so I can buy gas would have changed the whole direction of my birthday, and the rest of the week. Instead, I received an expensive gift certificate to a shop I go to once every couple of years. I'll use it eventually, but at the moment I have no use for it. Unless I throw a temper tantrum and break something. smile

Birthday music for all!

My pug is cuter and would have a deeper voice.

And just because I never hear this on the radio on my birthday, it's either the day before or after, ladies and gentlemen I present to you, THE BEATLES! It may not be the greatest video but it's still the Beatles and they are singing the Birthday song.

Waah, waah, waah.


самиздат (Samizdat)

by: Minstrel Boy

I have just finished reading Torture Team: Rumsfeld's Memo and the Betrayal of American Values by Philippe Sands, an internationally acclaimed expert in International Law.

I was enraged. I was also heartbroken. Sands does an excellent job of making his case. He does so in excruciating lawerly detail. Part of the credibility he brings to this is that he was one of the lawyers who brought the case against Auguste Pinochet.

Step by step through the process of the degredation of principles of law and simple human decency he outlines the way American Law, the Law of Nations, and what the Apache and other native peoples would call Sacred Law was first, weakened, then discarded entirely. He does so using the case of Detainee 063. He shows the escalation of tactics, from strictness, through bullying, and finally into plain and simple cruelty. All of which achieved nothing of any benefit to the stated goals of finding intelligence in the War on Terror.

He interviews the lawyers who drafted the memos, the cabinet officers who expanded them. He attacks the process that led us to this state of affairs.

He draws an undeniable parallel to a case at Nuremburg which was the basis for the film Judgment at Nuremburg. He goes so far as to conduct an interview with the son of one of the Nazi defendants. What made the case at Nuremburg applicable here is that the cited case was judges and lawyers who twisted legal arguments and made a case for the legality of the death camps, the slave labor system, and other Nazi war crimes. By providing the evil a cover of law, they helped to make it happen.

The name of what I'm about to do after reading this book was graciously provided by Jurassic Pork of "Welcome to Pottersville". Thanks JP!

Samizdat was the old system in the days of the iron curtain. Using typewriters with carbon paper, using duplicating and mimeograph machines, folks behid the curtain would copy works that were forbidden. They would also memorize entire books and recite them in underground salons.

What I will do next with this book is send my copy off to Melissa McEwan of Shakesville. I chose her because she is passionate and vocal in her quest for a better America. Hell, she had a brutal case of the flu and dragged her sick ass to the polls in order to vote in the last Indiana Primary. She was one of the main inspirations that got me to start my own blogging.

I am going to send her my copy of the book, with a short little inscription. She's going to read it, write about it, and pass it on to another. Just like the old Samizdat (literally: Self Publishing).

Unfortunately, the truth has become contraband in our country. That must change.

I'm looking forward to following this book's progress through Blogtopia. (Yes! Skippy coined that phrase!)

Big Brass Blog
18 May 2008

Operation Rescue!

by: Minstrel Boy

Ha! Ha! Ha!

If you're here because you were searching for ways to fuck with women who want to exercise their still barely legal rights to health care without interference from assholes like you; or, if you're here because you want to destroy labs and other venues of science because you care about animals more than you care about people or the advance of knowledge,


This isn't about cute bunnies being tortured in the lab. This isn't about being self righteous bullying assholes to young women facing a crisis in their life, this is about Chocolatissimo Nutella Bomb Ice Cream!

You're still an asshole, but who knows? Maybe if you ate more ice cream you'd be more tolerable to be around.

When I went to take the custard out of the refrigerator for its final freeze, I discovered that it had set up to a consistency that was too thick for freezing. This happens with frozen custards and is not a cause for panic or despair. It is easily remedied by adding a little more liquid, in this case, a bit more Frangelico and a bit more whole milk while it is all stirring in the stand mixer.

I don't have measurements to give you because I was working purely by eye and feel. The only way to develop that eye and that feel is to make lots of ice cream. Tough assignment to be sure, but, I'm certain you have the will and the courage to achieve it.

Put it all back into the freezer container and go through the steps in the freeze just as before. Layers of ice and of rock salt. As the ice melts keep adding more and laying on the salt with a will.

An important thing I just noticed is that you can see the mark of the fill level on the container. Note where that line is, and where the top of the ice cream is. That growth in volume during freezing is why it is important not to exceed the fill line before you freeze. That is all. Carry on.

Remove the container from the freezer unit, it's helpful to give it a quick wipe down so you don't chance contamination from rock salt or ice brine. Remove the dasher and scrape off the accumulated ice cream into the final container. Don't be all fussy about getting it all, this is one of the best times to stick the dasher into a big bowl and give every kid in the house a spoon.

I'm using the standard, green rectangular Ziplock® plastic containers to lay up ice cream for the parties of the weekend. There's always about a solid quart of overflow for my own enjoyment. In this case it's an old cottage cheese container.

Put it back into the freezer for two or three hours to firm up the consistency, and serve.

This is an intensely rich, silky smooth ice cream. Using the 72% cocoa mass bittersweet chocolate give it an amazing chocolate presence which subtly gives way to the more delicate flavors of the Nutella and Frangelico. Dark, dangerous, intriguingly complex. This stuff is absolutely incredible.

As I gave April her serving, I watched as she took her first taste of it. I watched her eyes widen with delight. I figured why waste the moment so I said "Tell me I'm a genius and you love me."

As soon as the shivers of ecstasy passed she blurted without hesitation, "You're a genius and I love you."

Hey, I takes 'em where I gets 'em. It's always nice to hear.

harp and sword

Flip Flop Express

by: Foiled Goil

From Brave New Films:

There's no question John McCain is getting a free ride from the mainstream press. But with the power of YouTube and the blogosphere, we can provide an accurate portrayal of the so-called Maverick. We can put the brakes on his free ride! [snip]

Clearly, John McCain's record is something the public wants to discuss, and yet the corporate media is doing NOTHING to present the truth. We feel obliged to continue countering the mainstream media's love of McCain. And so we thought it was high time for a sequel: The Real McCain 2.

· · · ·

Let's All Wring Our Hands

by: Debra

The world is worried about Burma. Again. Just as it was obvious that the Bush administration had no intention of helping the drowning people of New Orleans, it's obvious that the junta in Burma is hoping, and actively preventing assistance, so that most of their citizens troublemakers perish in the aftermath also. While the world waits and discusses what to do, innocent men, women and children are dying by the minute. Like the crisis a few months ago didn't give everyone a clue as to how the junta would respond.

People are talking all kinds of smack because the Democratic Convention isn't locked up tighter than a black person with a stick up his ass months before the actual convention. Heaven forbid that every citizen have an opportunity to express their vote. Since I didn't really start paying attention to the conventions until Shirley Chisholm received 152 delegates in 1972 "in spite of hopeless odds", I am having a difficult time understanding why it is so important that Hillary drop out, we present a united front, yada, yada, yada. James Polk (POTUS #11) wasn't added until the eighth ballot. What are we? Sheep or Republicans? Ron Paul hasn't given up and the Republicans don't have their panties in a bunch. Whatever we are, we aren't being democratic, we are being autocratic. At the rate our democratic process is disappearing we might as well be Russia and let the Chimmpleton become Prime Minister. Oh, we don't have one of those in our Constitution? Well, we didn't have illegal search and seizures, ridiculous (unless you're a corporation) interpretations of eminent domain, torture or poll taxes before 2001 either. Speaking of traitors, NARAL can kiss my black ass. In Macy's window. At lunchtime.

I never thought I would dislike a candidate more than Bush, but Obama finds the one nerve that Bush missed. He can claim all the victory he wants, he will never be able to claim my vote. McCain will also never get my vote but I absolutely will not vote against my conscience just so a "Democrat" can win. Over 300 million people in America and we get these two boobs as a choice for president. I'd rather have a president with real ones. And we all know that isn't going to happen in my lifetime. According to the Death Clock that's at least seven more presidential elections. Isn't it odd how many female leaders there are in the world and we think their countries are backwards? Even the Vatican has an assistant Vice Minister. We're lucky we have female Governors. Equality is not a way of life in America. Sexually, racially, economically or representatively.

In a further continuation of Support The Troops, but only in your dreams, Bush will be the first President in history to veto benefits. This isn't really a surprise since he went to war with the military we had and not the one he wanted. But Blackwater is coming along and I'm sure things will work out the way he wants. Too bad about all those dead soldiers, their sad families and the all the brain injured vets who will be left as roadkill. Not in the country they were injured in, but in the country that supposedly supports them. How are the sales of those car magnets doing these days?

I haven't posted a joke in so long, so here is a clean one. What do you find on the inside of a clean nose?


People forget that Barry Cowsill was one of the victims of Bush's determination to let New Orleans drown.

Dangerous wasn't he?


· ·
17 May 2008

Chocolatissimo Nutella Bomb Ice Cream

by: Minstrel Boy

Originally, I intended to use the recipe, here. It's a fine recipe that includes a lot of basic techniques essential to the education of any cook.

Only thing was, that recipe is mainly a chocolate frozen custard with some nutella thrown in. I already have an incredible chocolate frozen custard recipe that I've done a bazillian (or is it brazillian?) times. Turning the one I already know backwards and forwards and have already made to great acclaim a bunch of times into a recipe that uses Nutella would not be hard at all.


4 cups whole milk
14 egg yolks (note the symmetry here with the angel food cake)
1/2 cup + 4 tbsp sugar
2 cups heavy cream
20 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted
1/2 cup Frangelico
1/2 cup Nutella

To melt the chocolate, break it into reasonable chunks in a microwave safe bowl
Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir. Repeat. Stir. Until the chocolate is around 2/3s melted. Then reduce the microwaving time to 10 seconds until the chocolate is smooth and glossy. Any little chunks still remaining will melt while you do the rest of it. If the chocolate looks like this:

You're cool.

In a stand mixer put the egg yolks and sugar together and mix well on a medium speed.

Scald the milk

Use a ladle to put the scalded milk a little at a time (this is called tempering the eggs, remember?) into the egg and sugar mixture while the mixer is running on low.

Add 1/2 cup of Frangelico

Mix well and transfer to a large saucepan over a medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. There's no substitute for the wooden spoon here. Don't even fucking try. Just use a wooden spoon.

Cook until the custard thickens and begins to coat the back of your wooden spoon.

Pour this back into the mixer's bowl through a strainer.

Use a spatula to gently force some of the curdles through. Gently.

With the mixer at a medium stirring speed, add in the melted chocolate,

the cream,

and the Nutella.

Mix at medium until smooth and glossy.

Transfer this to the freezer container for your ice cream freezer, use heavy cream, or milk, or a combination of the two to bring the level up to the full mark.

Chill for at least six hours before freezing.

This one looks totally fucking epic. I'm certain it is going to taste monsterously good when frozen.

Get your drool bibs ready for the pictures of the freezing I put up tomorrow, or late tonight. Make that late tonight. There's no way in the blue-eyed world I will be able to wait until tomorrow to get this done.

harp and sword

What is going on??

by: blackdog

Seemed like last time I paid any attention these types were ignoring and simply making talking points about the shitstorm from the neo-con bastards that we are under.

Any ideas? Does the truth now sell more soap?

Not that I'm for Tweety acting the fool, there used to be a time when he seemed to get it correct, but then fell off the wagon to sell the "talking points" that misled so many idiots.

As in the title, WTF is going on?

Is this some sort of awakening?

Oh, almost forgot, courtesy of Democratic Underground.

A definition of appeasement. Worth a look.

Peace be with you.


Redundant but so what.

I'm taking the Woof to bed, got to mow grass tomorrow, not in a great mood right now.

So I listen to these a few more times and can relax.

Woops, got the wrong link. but it seems to work out well.

I miss my rabbit.

An Open Letter To Work Comp

by: Debra

This is a personal rant and if one of the Barbarians could bring a printed copy to our next outing, I would greatly appreciate it. I don't have a printer and need a copy for my records. Plus, I need to vent.

My worker's comp representative never returns my phone calls and after leaving her a message last week about the latest refusal to hire me for a job that I really wanted, and which could have substantially improved the quality of my life, I finally received the doctor's determination yesterday and I have to say that I disagree. Not only did it not address my issues, but after two years and a private investigator, they are still trying to blame it on a previous injury. One I have never had. And just for the record, I have never complained about my ankle. It has never been twisted or strained, was never mentioned as part of the work comp injury and I really don't understand why it was included in the QME report. I read for a hobby, I don't ski, play tennis or basketball, jog or do any type of high impact sports. I have never had a broken bone.

Work comp believes that my toe (the one that's fused with two screws in it) is only 5% disabled. The toe itself may be only 5%, but it affects the quality of my life every day, both waking and sleeping. The weight of the covers on the toe wakes me up at least five times a night. And heaven forbid that I get twisted under the covers. That pain is a real eye opener, complete with stars.

Previous to the injury I walked my dog daily, could move quickly through Costco at least 25 times a shift and had successfully taken off 50 pounds. Just by walking daily. Since the accident I have been unable to walk my dog around the park without my knee swelling and my toe becoming numb, red and I am unable to stand in an anatomically correct manner. I have always had good posture (courtesy of the Army) until recently but now I find that I balance most of the weight on my left leg and hip which is causing its own little problems with my back. I am constantly shifting my weight from side to side and if forced to stand more than a few minutes (like in a grocery line) I look for ways to prop my right foot higher than the left.

I have also regained 45 of the 50 pounds (and my dog has gained five), can no longer walk more than a mile without pain and have to use a step stool to get things off the back of my kitchen shelves since I can't stand on my toes. It's a good think I'm not a ballerina. It's a bad thing that I am 5'1".

My work and everything that I have been trained to do requires that I stand for 8 to 9 hours with constant walking in between, so saying that I am fully able to return to work is a crock and is a decision made by someone who thinks that walking to their car constitutes getting around. Who cares if I can't and could never do squats? As I told Dr. B, this was first noticed at fourteen (not 17) when my dad came back from Korea and was showing us how the natives sat. I now walk on the outside of my foot because my big toe only contacts the ground if I deliberately force it by rolling my foot to the inside with every step and then my knee has sharp lances of pain horizontally across the kneecap. In what way am I capable of working a 10 hour shift on my feet, carrying an average of 40 pounds at the same time and then do it all over again the next day? And the day after that.

Previous to the injury I wore a size 6 shoe, a 6 1/2 if they were of the skinny variety. Now I require a 7 to 7 1/2. They must be completely flat with a hard sole, a rounded toe and a large toe box to accommodate the angle the toe is fused at. For some reason, the scar from the fusion is exactly where the edge of the top flap of the shoe presses on the foot and the pain located on the ball of the foot, where most people put pressure while walking or running. Any type of heel is totally out of the question. I have taken witnesses (you should try shopping for these requirements if you don't believe me) to show the difficulty of buying shoes. I usually spend about three hours, seven or eight stores and end up with a pair of sneakers or sandals with an adjustable strap across the top of the foot. The sneakers have soft tops and don't put pressure on the fusion. Sandals are for casual summer wear.

The shoes the doctors recommend start at $250 a pair and are not covered by work comp, (but work comp is willing to pay me $230 a week, which I use for rent, food and gas. All my other bills obviously fell by the wayside and I'm still trying to get the money together to declare bankruptcy), they still look like sneakers and none of them are appropriate for dress wear. You know, the stuff you are supposed to wear when you go to an important function or, in my case, job interviews. I have been told to my face that my footwear is not appropriate for work. Or interviews. Isn't that special, to say nothing of embarrassing. When I was in the Army, my platoon sergeant used to try and match the shine on his jump boots with mine. Now I wish long dresses were in again so I can hide my shoes.

Previous to this injury I had my own personal chef business. I was only doing the weekend work for Aidell's to try and get my foot in the door (Rachael Ray and Martha Stewart started somewhere) and to earn a little extra money for my 50th birthday. Well, my personal chef business is history, all the money I spent training, buying extra equipment, designing and running my own web page has been wasted. For my birthday I was poor and in pain and the birthday this coming Monday doesn't look much better and in many ways worse because now I have no savings at all. Cooking holiday dinners (something I've done for most of my life) for family and friends practically destroys me. I have to take way too many breaks which makes dinner later than usual and the next two days I lay around taking aspirin, icing the knee and toe and moaning in pain.

Speaking of pain, let me reiterate this one more time since the doctors seem to have a hard time reading a chart or listening when they ask you what your allergies are. I am ALLERGIC to NSAIDS (they affect my breathing adversely), I am also ALLERGIC to morphine codeine, tylenol, hydrocodone, oxycodone, fentanyl, tramadol (Ultram), talwin, and amesec, to name a few. I don't make a big fuss about my pain because there isn't anything other than demerol that works on me and I would prefer to save that for something like a car accident or other major trauma. So no, low dose NSAIDs and opioids aren't an option.

After the tsunami in the Indian Ocean I wondered if I would be able to run fast in an emergency. Due to the size of my breasts, this was impossible so I opted to have them reduced. While now it doesn't hurt my chest to run, I still can't move in a hurry because I can no longer push off with the injured foot. As a matter of fact, anything that requires stretching the leg and pointing the toe causes painful cramps and spasms in the calf and directly behind the knee. None of this was an issue before my accident. By the way, have you spoken with my former supervisor who saw me within 30 minutes of the accident and can testify that the knee was swollen, purple and immobile? Or that I used to move quite quickly while at work?

When work comp decided not to approve acupuncture as a modality, it put me out of business. Yes, I am an Acupuncturist and used to be licensed by the State of California. At one time it was determined that acupuncturists weren't capable of running a case appropriately. Well, I was the primary care on a few cases and believe me, I ran a much tighter ship than the one I've been sinking on for the last two years. Pain was assessed every time, you guys didn't do that for me for six months and then again briefly during the QME. My "treatment" consisted of being told to go home and stay off it to see if it would get better. Period. Well, it didn't and it got progressively worse. If proper procedures had been followed there would have been a record of my pain, what made it worse, what made it better. But none of those questions were asked of me. Six months after the accident the foot was authorized for surgery and Dr. N and I discussed that wearing the walking boot while healing from the foot surgery would aggravate my knee but it had to be done. From that point on, the knee became worse and nothing was done until the following May, nine months later. When I asked for physical therapy to help rebuild the calf muscle after being in a cast for several months, Dr. J wasn't that helpful, didn't think I needed it even though the right calf was just a stick and the left calf was muscular. I finally got physical therapy which consisted of telling me to ride a bike, spread my toes and lift my heel off the floor ten times a day. Whoop de doo.

I finally saved up enough money to buy a bike and rode it faithfully because Dr. P said it would help build up my quads and that would take pressure off my knee. The knee felt pretty good (I was up to almost 20 miles a day), but I started to develop problems with the foot. I told Dr. P in August that I was having trouble and he told me to continue riding and to come back in a month. By the end of September the toe was constantly swollen. The beginning of October he expressed surprise that I had a fusion and told me to quit riding the bike because how one puts pressure on the pedal was exactly where the fusion was and that I should take up the elliptical machine instead. I joined the YMCA at the cost of $52 per month, had a personal trainer work out a program to strengthen my legs as Dr. P suggested and I still have pain. But now I can no longer afford to attend the gym and buying a home system is completely out of the question.

I quit riding the bike but the toe was still swollen and numb. On October 10, 2007 my foot slipped off the brake and back onto the accelerator while I was parking and the police determined the swelling in my right foot to be the cause of the car accident. This accident totaled my car and caused me to jump through several hoops for the Department of Motor Vehicles in order to get my license back. It took almost three weeks to get an appointment with my work comp doctor and by then I had been taking aspirin four times a day and icing the foot to get the swelling down. It looked pretty normal by then, but the damage to my life and my car was done. Now instead of driving the just paid off car that got 35mpg, I drive an eight year older car that gets 18 mpg and my car insurance has doubled.

I used to make several thousand dollars a month, now I make less than one. Instead of giving me a lump sum, you want to stretch it out so that it is basically useless to me, other than to keep my head barely above water, until I have used up the $3K that you think destroying my life was worth. Then I am on my own, for the rest of my life. In pain and with difficulty walking. Problems I did not have before the accident. I can't go back to being a massage therapist because I can't push off with my right foot, it's painful and then my knee buckles. I can't go back to practicing acupuncture because I don't have the money for the license fees (now that acupuncture is accepted by work comp again) or the continuing education credits that are required.

This small, part-time job and the ensuing accident have had seriously negative consequences for my life. Everything that I have been trained to do ($100K for the AP degree), my hobby of cooking that I was turning into a profession and now the ability to find a job that will allow me to survive in today's economy, are further out of reach than they were when I was twelve. I'd like to say thank you, but I usually require a kiss when I'm being... shafted.

Oh, and by the way, Dr. B spent 19 minutes with me as actual face time, not the hour that he says. It took me longer to get back and forth to the X-Ray place than he spent talking, or more importantly, listening to me. If I could afford a lawyer, they would be the one writing this letter and handling this case from this point on.

Debsweb and IIRTZ.
16 May 2008

Bill O's Blast From The Past

by: Foiled Goil

Bill O'Reilly's Producer (Unseen Footage)

From Barely Political:

The man behind the Inside Edition camera when Bill O went on a tirade.

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Angel Food Cake - With Pictures and Stuff

by: Minstrel Boy

Since the recipe I found for Chocolate Nutella Ice Cream calls for several egg yolks I figured I'd use the whites on an Angel Food cake. If Blogger continues to be well behaved I have gotten some positive and grateful feedback on the pictures with the steps stuff. So, here goes. Right out of Annie Peaches Begay's (Great Grandmother) legendary recipe box:

Measure and sift together three times

1 cup (measured sifted) cake flourand 7/8 cup sugar (3/4 cup + 2 teaspoons)

In a large mixing bowl (I'm using the bowl from my stand mixer here because of the deep sides and the handle on the side) take 14 egg whites
Notice that when I'm separating my eggs I have a small bowl in the middle to catch the whites. This is so, if a yolk should break,
it will not contaminate the other egg whites.The bowl with the one egg can go for scrambled eggs, or an omlette later, ordown for the dog, who cleans up the egg,then, the floor, and retires back to her duty station,to patiently await the next spill or minor mishap.

I always whip my egg whites for angel food cake by hand. I have Grammy Anna's trick tool, which was one of her prized tools that was passed on to me because she said I was the one who would put it to the best use. When an angel food cake, or a souflée is whipped by hand, even without any scientific explanation for it, I can tell the difference. If anybody out there can give me a scientific explanation for that I would love to hear it. Otherwise I will have to go to my grave wondering if I've been hallucinating this for all these years.

To the egg whites add 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon almond extract (you'll notice that I am using my measuring spoons here, on a recipe like this exact measurements are the rule) and have 3/4 cup sugar off to the side. Whip the egg white mixture until it is foamy and has grown in volume by half.Then whip it some more, adding in the sugar you reserved a couple tablespoons at a time, past the soft peak stage, which looks like this:until you reach stiff peaks.

Next gently fold in the flour and sugar you sifted at the beginning. Take care here, be gentle, you worked hard to get all those lovely little air bubbles into the egg whites, don't be ham handed and break them down.

Be Gentle. But also, be relentless. You need a good smooth batter here.
This gets turned into an Angel Food Cake pan. Draw a knife through the batter, give it a few sharp raps on a folded towel on the counter to release any big air pockets
Place the cake on the middle rack of a cold oven
nullBake at 300° for an hour.Invert the cake on a bottle and cool upside down.

When completely cooled use a regular table knife to loosen the edges of the cake
Pop out the center section of the pan, loosen around the center postand the bottom of the pan. Invert the cake onto a cutting board,and dig the fuck in.

That's angel food cake. If you want a little bit of sublime, slather a slice of angel food cake with Nutella, slap another slice of cake on that to make a sandwich.

Decadent, sweet, delicious. Just how I like things. If politics continue to stay this stupid everywhere else but California where a Republican State Supreme Court decided that fully equal marriage is the only acceptable equality for our gay citizens, expect me to be in the kitchen a lot from now until November.

Ice Cream is on deck.

harp and sword
15 May 2008

Even Tweety Gets in on the Act

by: blackdog

When Tweety gets it right (never left) I have to pay attention. Slapping down a dimshit is a fun task, but then you have to ask just why this idiot was asked on in the first place.

Thanks to Democratic Underground.

What a dipshit. At least some of the time I don't know my ass from a hole in the ground I just might shut the fuck up.

No promises though. I am a windbag, when on a roll...

But I did find a bag of heptachlor, so any newfleas that show up should be warned, this shit lasts forever.

It's so damned potent that my mouse gave up the ghost a bit ago just at the mention, I actually had to suffer the horrible indignity of going to wally-world for the first time in several years to get a replacement.

Wonder where it was manufactured? Duh.

I tried to contact the Chinese Embassy the other day to offer my condolences for their horrific earthquake, but their comment page had been shut down. Wonder if that might have had something to do with Tibet.

Regardless of how nasty the Chinese Government may be, or our's is, I do feel for the victims of that tragedy. I remember not too long ago being about 140 miles from the epicenter of a 7.3. Woke me up with a bang.

Biden Blasts Bush for Anti-Obama Belch

by: Dark Wraith is reporting that Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) used the word "bullshit" to describe President Bush's statement before the Israeli Knesset that "some" Democrats want to "appease terrorists" by trying to negotiate with Iran. Senator Biden further coarsened the political dialogue by calling Mr. Bush's accusations "malarkey" and pointing out that both Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have both called for talks with Iran.

In his speech before the Israeli parliament marking the 60th anniversary of the birth of the Jewish State, Bush invoked memories of the military expansion of the Third Reich across Europe, describing those who would sit down with "terrorists" as laboring under "foolish delusion" similar to those who sought negotiations with Adolf Hitler. The remarks were met with substantial applause from the audience of lawmakers of our most subsidized ally, which has threatened to attack Iran if the United States does not do so.

Although the White House is publicly denying that the comments were aimed at Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, who has called for negotiations with Iran, aides to the President privately acknowledge that Bush was taking direct aim at the man who is appears likely to be the Dem nominee.

At the end of the article published about Sen. Biden's response to President Bush's remarks, readers were invited to comment on the story. As I have done with previous articles at, I did so, although none have ever been subsequently presented anywhere at the Website. To diminish the importance of CNN's disinterest in publishing my response, below is the comment I submitted.

Yes, what Mr. Bush said is, indeed, bovine by-product.

It is, however, also the sign of a desperate man, one who uses incendiary, false assertions to buttress the flagging ramparts of a unitary executive for whom defiance of the rule of law offered no protection from the lessons of history. To the same extent that he has crafted from the whole cloth of delusion the claim that the economic crises now looming are somehow the fault of the Democrats, he now erects his ludicrous monument of self-exoneration for the utter collapse of our foreign policy into miserable, useless, lost wars that have debilitated our military to the point where genuine threats to our security, threats that will loom larger and larger in the coming decades, face no clear, present, and viable long-term deterrence from what was once a credible war machine in the United States. Instead, Mr. Bush has squandered our future security on a Global War on Terror that is nothing more than a staggeringly expensive exercise in chasing a handful of bearded religious maniacs around the world while imposing greater and greater degradations of personal privacy at home.

Mr. Bush will soon be at the end of the time in which his incompetence can blight the American experience. Although he will likely be replaced by one fool or another from one party or another, at the very least we shall be relieved of the tiring nonsense of a unitary executive without a clue.

The other bright note, of course, is that the likes of mainstream news media outlets like CNN, along with The New York Times, the Washington Post, and far too many others, will be able to claim to an ever-gullible public that they were not really every bit a part of the madness of these first eight years of the 21st Century in America.

The great news is thus: the more the mainstream media cry their lack of culpability, the more they will sound just like the President who disclaims his own failure.

History will be most unkind both to Mr. Bush and to his propagandists. That's what makes history so much more fun to those who read about it than to those who must live through it.

The Dark Wraith still cannot imagine why CNN did not publish this erudite reply to one of its articles about President Bush.

Cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums

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Why I Gave Up Golf

by: Minstrel Boy

My back hurt, oh, yeah, I also sucked.

Back pain is treatable, my persistent slice wasn't.

harp and sword


by: blackdog

Finally getting somewhere. From Hoffmania.

Powerful stuff, and it's about time. I invite your comments, and hows about John Edward's endorsement a bit ago? Interesting evening. I may sleep well tonight. Providing that the Woof doesn't chew my ears and toes too much. He enjoys that sort of thing.

14 May 2008

The Dragon

by: Missouri Mule

From the Chinese poet Laotzu:

People stave
If only the wealthy eat grain
And the faults of starving people
Are the fault of their rulers
That is why people rebel.

Men who have to fight for their living
And are not afraid to die for it
Are higher men than those who, stationed high
Are too fat to dare to die

Legend has it that Laotzu was immaculately conceived by a shoot-star, carried in his mother's womb for sixty-two years and born, it is said, white -haired in 604 B.C., he became in due time keeper of imperial archives at Loyang, an ancient capital in what is now the Chinese province of Honan.

Speaking wisdom which attracted followers, he had refused to the end of his life to set it down: considering the way of life and the ways of the world, he had decided that a great deal was done and said in the world which might better be spared. Aware of the dangers inherent dogma, he was reluctant to leave a set record of his own spoken belief, lest it become to followers an outer and formal rather than an inner an natural faith, an outside authority rather than intuition.

Herrymon Maurer in a postscript to The Old Fellow, his fictional portrait of Laotzu, notes how closely the use of life according to Laotzu rellates to the principles of democracy. Maurer is right that democracy cannot be successful general practice unless it is first a true individual conviction. Many of us in the West think ourselves believers in democracy if we can point to one of its fading flowers even while the root of it in our own lives is gone with worms. Laotzu wanted the root of democracy clean. Not only democracy but all of life, he points out, grows at one's own doorstep. Maurer said, "Laotzu is one of our chief weapons against tanks, artillery and bombs." I agree that no one has bettered the ancient advice:

"Conduct your triumph as a funeral."

Legendary or true, it is told that Confucius, impressed by Laotzui's influence on people, visited him once to ask advice, ironically enough, on points of ceremonial etiquette. Baffled by the answers of the older man, to whom etiquette meant hypocrisy and nonsense, Confucius returned to his disciples and told them:

"Of birds I know that they have wings to fly with, of fish that they have fins to swim, of wild beats that they have feet to run with. For feet there are traps, for fins nets, for wings arrows. But who know how dragons surmount wind and cloud into heaven? This day I have seen Laotzu and his a a dragon."

The end of the life legend is that, saddened by man's tragic perversity, their indisposition to accept "the way of life," to use life with natural goodness, with serene and integral respect, Latozu rode aways alone on a water-buffalo into the desert beyond the boundary of civilizations, the great wall of his period. It is narrated that when he arrived at one of its gates, a warden there, Yin Hsi, who had had a dream of the sage's coming, recognized him from the dream and persuaded him to fore-go his reluctance and to record the principle of his philosophy. The result is said to have been the Tao Teb Ching, tao meaning the way of all life.

Third Term Bush = McCainomics

by: Foiled Goil

McCain’s Corporate Tax Cut Would Save Energy & Utility Companies Over $2.8 Billion

Think Progress:

A global warming plan that weans America off dirty energy requires taking a stand against the huge utility & energy companies. But John McCain’s tax plan seems slightly more interested in lining their pockets.

An analysis from the Center for American Progress Action Fund finds that John McCain’s massive corporate tax cut would save America’s ten largest electrical utility companies and ten largest energy companies over $2.8 billion. (This is in addition to the $4 billion tax break for America’s five largest oil companies.)

Read the full analysis and see the chart here. [PDF]

Leading Senate Republican: McCain offers a third Bush term on the economy

Carpetbagger Report:

What’s the top message priority for Democrats hoping to win this year’s presidential election? When it comes to defining John McCain, it’s pretty obvious: he’d offer more of the same. On the key issues, McCain and George W. Bush share a script.

McCain is aware of the dangers here — no one wants to be closely associated with the most unpopular president since the dawn of modern polling, and no one wants to run on a “stay the course” platform when four out of five Americans believe the country is on the wrong track.

With that in mind, it’s always encouraging when some leading Republicans seem anxious to make it easier for Democrats to hammer their message home. Take Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the second highest-ranking Republican in the House.

As a rule, Republicans are supposed to disagree with the Democrats’ central criticism of the GOP presidential candidate. But if Blunt & Co. want to tell national television audiences that we’re right, I couldn’t be more pleased.

As Faiz explained very well:

McCain is promising more of Bush’s economic agenda — unaffordable massive tax cuts for the rich that offer no help for the average family.

The McCain economic agenda includes: $1.7 trillion tax cut for corporations, $300 billion a year in tax cuts that aren’t paid for, and a plan that delivers 58 percent of the benefits to the top 1 percent of taxpayers and only 9 percent to the bottom 80 percent.

All of this sounds familiar, of course, because it’s the same approach embraced by the Bush gang for the last eight years. McCain isn’t in a position to deny his support for Bush’s economic policies, and apparently, neither are his campaign surrogates in the Senate.

Will McCain Fund His Corporate Tax Cuts With Massive Cuts In Social Security?

Think Progress:
John McCain’s ‘economic plan’ packs a solid one-two punch for the middle class. His first hit is in his sweeping, unprecedented tax cuts–tax cuts that that go primarily to corporations and high-income tax payers, stripping the government of $300 billion in annual revenues.

◊ ◊ ◊

To balance the budget, McCain would need to cut federal programs down to a level they haven’t seen since 1976–decreasing spending by programs like the Department of Education, Department of Agriculture and Department of Labor over 40% [PDF] if you hold constant defense spending, which the senator has agreed not to cut. No president would propose and no Congress would pass such draconian cuts.

So how will McCain balance the budget? James Pethokoukis of U.S. News thinks he has the answer: massive cuts in Social Security benefits. The cuts Pethokoukis outlines would not only eliminate the Social Security shortfall but also generate $2.9 trillion to help pay for McCain’s tax cuts. He points to McCain aides’ suggestions that he might raise the retirement age and cut the growth in benefits over time.

◊ ◊ ◊

If Pethokoukis is right, McCain is attempting to do something that no president has ever done before: using payroll tax revenue to fund other functions of government. The result would be huge cuts in the program that lifts 13 million seniors out of poverty and a shift of the tax burden from progressive corporate taxes onto regressive wage taxes.

The gaping whole in McCain’s budget plans has left us all to speculate. But it cannot be a good sign for the McCain campaign when even McCain sympathizers think they detect a plan for massive cuts in arguably the most popular government program in history.

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Peppermint Stick Ice Cream, Freezing and Serving

by: Minstrel Boy

Normally I prefer my old throwback hand crank ice cream freezer. Like with the Anglefood cake I have not a shred of evidence, scientific or otherwise to back my assertion of superior texture when things like this are done by hand. But, Goddammit, I can tell the difference. Today that didn't get to happen though. I've been dealing all day with air conditioning technicians and getting the final grades ready for the intermediate strings class. The best part is getting to tell most of them that they are more than ready to move on to private classes and up to the college's main orchestra. Anyway, with all the distractions of the day, oh yeah, I took my german shepherd to the groomer today too, I just went with the electric freezer.

You alternate layers of ice, with layers of rock salt. The objective here is a fast and smooth freeze. Check your ice and salt levels often. You want the ice coming all the way up the freezer container. When you can't crank anymore, and the kids are worn out too is the signal for a hand crank. With the electric just listen for that annoying motor sound to stop.

Remove the container from the freezer, take out the dasher (which is a great job for a couple of kids with long spoons). At this point you can also mix in things like tiny chips of peppermint candy, or chocolate chips. I have fun using the stuff that gets left over when I trim the chocolate truffles. Mostly though, for an ice cream this superb, I go with no embellishments. I usually transfer it into plastic, freezer safe containers of about a half gallon size. This recipe made three containers like this:
which go into the freezer for at least two hours to really set the ice cream.

To serve, you can top with chocolate syrup, nuts, whipped cream or:nuthin' at all.

Just exquisite, rich, silky smooth, delicately flavored ice cream.

Bon appetite. I am building up a stock of ice creams in the freezer for a couple of parties on the horizon. Expect Ginger Ice Cream to come soon.

This is way more impressive than Hillary's winning the redneck vote.

harp and sword

13 May 2008

I Won't Back Down

by: Debra

The never ending election disgusts and disheartens me. The news is pitiful, just pitiful. And depressing. Thousands of people have died in the last few weeks from Mother Nature's influence and they barely get air time, but some candidate stubbed a toe and our nation needs to kiss the boo boo or the world as we know it will come to an end. Now, if someone could prove that it was a terrorist plot for all those poor people who weren't contributing anything to the US economy to die, that would be front page news. With its own catchy phrase. And whatever happened to missing blond women? They must be with Osama been Forgotten since we haven't heard from any in a while.

My birthday is coming up next week and I have no way to celebrate and nothing to really celebrate. I'm usually happy that of all the people born on the same day, I'm still here. Now all I can think is BFD. I've given up so much to take care of my mom, that I never had a life and by the time she's gone, I won't have the energy to start one of my own. My brothers did nothing for Mother's day other than to call, which is more than they did for her anniversary, last Christmas or her birthday.

I joke about how other people's grandkids are going to be responsible for paying off our generation's debt, but it really isn't funny, it's pathetic. I'm in pain, have no money for groceries (the garden won't be producing for a few more weeks) and I'm pretty sure that E does not mean enough on the gas gauge. I try to keep this song in the back of my head but it's getting harder every day.

Plus, they canceled New Amsterdam and a few other shows I enjoyed watching. The replacements look really boring. I am so tired.


Peppermint Stick Ice Cream, With Pictures and variations

by: Minstrel Boy

I'm watching the news from West Virginia and thinking to myself Wow, Hillary Clinton has the racist, hillbilly, cousin marrying, mouth breathing, ignorant, redneck, motherfucker's vote sewed right up. Keep playing to your benighted southern cracker ass base of voters Hills. Why not go all the fucking way and name Huckabee or Trent Fucking Lott as your VP? Out west, I'm making ice cream. That's how much West Goddamned Virgina and Kentucky matter to me. Once a year when they wear silly hats, sing Stephen Foster songs and try to kill a few more young horses is the amount of time I'll spend on Kentucky.

For Peppermint Stick Ice Cream I use Great Grandmother Anna's recipe, although I'm trying some variations for this batch.

We first beat up a pound of peppermint candies. Notice the folded towels underneath the cutting board, this makes the noise of hammering the candy a bit muted. Napping critters will appreciate this little touch.

Melt the candy chunks in 2 cups 1/2 and 1/2 over a high flame, stirring constantly.

Turn off the heat and go to the stand mixer. Beat 4 large eggs until smooth and lemon yellow.

Add in 3/4 cup sugar (I'm using raw sugar that has been sitting with vanilla bean husks), and three tablespoons cake flour.

Yes, I have a fine set of measuring spoons. Sometimes I even use them. I've won money in kitchens by measuring out teaspoons, 1/2 teaspoons, and tablespoons into my cupped hand and then using the measure to prove that I had it right.

Instead of 3/4 cup Karo® syrup, I'm using a vanilla coffee syrup. It's about the same consistency, and I figure that the added flavoring will be better than just overpowering sweetness.

Instead of a can of Eagle Brand, sweetened condensed milk I'm going with a cup and a half of heavy cream.

This is all mixed until smooth. It will be a lovely pink color, although if you want a little more throw in some liquid red, or powdered food coloring.

This goes into the container for your ice cream freezer, use equal amounts heavy cream and 1/2&1/2 to bring the volume up to the full line on your container; and, with the dasher in place and capped, refrigerate until chilled and ready to freeze.

The freezing process post will happen after Hillary Clinton wins a landslide victory in West Fuckyercuzzin Virginia and I still won't fucking care who those idiot bastards want for President.

harp and sword
12 May 2008

Dance Me To The End

by: Foiled Goil

Leonard Cohen - Dance Me To The End Of Love

11 May 2008

The Gospel of Impending Doom

by: Dark Wraith

American Highway to the FutureThe YouTube video below is a capture of the CNNMoney interview of February 28, 2008, with economist John Williams of Shadow Government Statistics, a site that keeps track of key economic data, including figures no longer published by the federal government, as well as data for which government calculation methods have been altered over the years, often with the effect of casting economic conditions in a better light than would have been the case under previous methods. Among the crucial numbers Williams reports is the year-over-year growth rate of the broadest measure of money, M3, a key economic indicator on which the Federal Reserve stopped publishing information in early 2006 under various pretenses, none of which can be characterized as anything other than disingenuous and self-serving. In my two-part series, "The Federal Reserve under Fire," I set forth the importance of the growth rate of the money supply and, in particular, the growth rate of the broadest aggregate, M3, which is critical to an understanding of the direction of the economy insofar as inflation is concerned. Previously, in my series "The Economics of Wreckage," particularly in Part Two and in Part Three, I laid out the neo-Keynesian theory and policy of aggregate demand management and how it had gone awry on several occasions prior to the current era, illustrating why the policies that have been pursued by the Bush Administration and its rubber-stamp Federal Reserve, first under the addled Alan Greenspan and then under the obsequious Ben Bernanke, are predictably and inexorably leading the nation to the brink of hyperinflation coupled with deep recession.

The above-mentioned articles at The Dark Wraith Forums incorporate by reference links to a number of other published articles I have written over the past nearly three-and-a-half years forewarning of the coming economic catastrophe. In my January 2005 article, "Prologue to the Book of Consequences," I wrote the following:

The calculus of where the economy is headed is quite simple. Mainstream news media outlets bend over backward to avoid appearing biased, so they avoid describing the future consequences of current political actions, even though the consequences are governed by rock-solid principles of economics and finance that are not open to disagreement among the learnéd. Unfortunately, the neo-conservatives have made a craft of disputing the indisputable, giving observers an impression of debate where none exists.

All Seeing StupidityAt that time, I still had hope that the Federal Reserve, which had begun to clamp down on the growth rate of the money supply, would stick to its guns, even though that course would have thrown the economy into a recession. Financial markets were sending the classic signals that this is, indeed, what was coming, as I pointed out in several articles, including "Toward Full Yield Curve Inversion," which I wrote and published in March of 2006.

By that time, however, the reckless mendacity of this Administration was returning to fashion at the Fed: as it turned out, the Fed had rather swiftly and quietly untethered the broad monetary aggregates M2 and M3, once again causing them to grow out of control, leaving only M1—the kind of money ordinary people use—under an approximately zero growth rate regimen. The broader aggregates M2 and M3, feeding as they do the financial sectors and the wealthy, are now growing at rates that have absolutely no justification whatsoever other than to forestall economic catastrophe until the Bush Administration leaves office.

The growth rates of M2 and M3 are breath-taking. As mentioned above, the Fed no longer publishes M3. Including as it does M2, which in turn includes M1 (which, until recently, was not growing), this broadest measure of the money circulating in the economy is now in the growth rate range of 20 percent.

Two years ago, the yield curve inverted, which has historically signaled a good possibility of economic downturn that might become a recession. Shortly after full inversion, and notably in what was the Spring of a mid-term election year, the Fed panicked, backing down from tight monetary policy and thereby leaving only the people who use cash and checking account types of money to labor under a money supply being held at zero growth. As it turned out, the Fed was commencing the second phase of what would be a nearly unprecedented expansionary monetary policy that continues to this very day. Under this regime, not only is the Federal Reserve increasing the money supply at a rate in excess of the real growth rate of the economy, but the Fed is accelerating this growth rate! Although the chart below has been published here on several recent, prior occasions, it is worth publishing again, and it should be noted that John Williams of Shadow Government Statistics showed an almost identical chart in the video offered above.

M1, M2, and M3 Money Stocks, 2000 to Present

The Federal Reserve is pouring hundreds of billions of excess dollars into the economy to hold off an economic crash. The longer it does this, the worse the resulting inflation will be; more importantly, however, the longer it pursues this radically irresponsible policy, the worse the recession will be when a new Federal Reserve Board must crush the money supply long enough to drain out the staggering greenback overhang. Interest rates, which will already be rising because of inflation expectations embedded in them, will skyrocket because interest rates are the price of money, and when the supply of anything contracts, its price goes up. Business investment, already laboring under tight credit conditions, will grind to a standstill, as will consumer spending on anything other than basics, which will absorb a greater and greater share of income in the spiral of accelerating inflation caused by the almost incomprehensible oversupply of money progressively eroding the purchasing power of each dollar circulating in the economy.

Dollar against Euro and Yen as of May 9, 2008On the international front, as the dollar continues its inexorable plunge into Second World currency weakness, U.S. exports to other countries will rise as our goods become cheaper overseas, and foreign imports to the United States will become more expensive. That has two sour notes. First, as imports become more expensive on American shelves, the domestic substitutes right beside them on the shelves will rise in price by the so-called "substitution effect," fed as it will be by the excess money that will fuel the demand-pull inflation at the retail level. Second, as Americans buy fewer imports, foreign reserves of dollars, which are the means by which our government, our businesses, and our households have been able to borrow so much money for the past several decades, will begin to dry up; and with the U.S. government spending in stupendous excess of the tax revenues it draws, the U.S. Treasury in the years ahead will suck up what little there will be of foreign capital available for lending, leaving both households and private businesses with virtual bread crumbs of lendable funds, especially once the Fed begins the long, gruesome process of letting the economy slowly absorb in real output gains what will ultimately be the trillions of dollars in excess liquidity poured in by the Bush Administration's Federal Reserve.

All of the righteous, legitimate, and perhaps even understated condemnation of the Bush Administration and its Federal Reserve aside for a while, the pertinent questions on most people's minds revolve around what is to come; and by no means are the answers pleasant. Even under the most responsible, intelligent, and take-charge President—of which none appear to be on hand for the up-coming election—the economy and its constituents will suffer, and the suffering will be severe.

No, the United States economy is not in a "recession," yet, despite the premature squealing of quite a few people. Although some parts of the country might already be experiencing negative economic growth, according to the latest figures released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the Commerce Department, the overall economy actually grew in the first quarter of 2008, albeit at an anemic rate of just 0.6 percent, matching the growth rate for the final quarter of 2007; and, although the Commerce Department is notorious for revising such GDP growth rate numbers several times, the signs simply are not there of a widespread recession underway for the U.S. as a whole. Americans have not seen a severe recession in more than a generation. The last bad one was caused by the contractionary monetary policy of the Federal Reserve under the leadership of Chairman Paul Volker, President Jimmy Carter's appointee; Volker's Fed aggressively clamped down on the money supply to drain out the excess money that had been building at a greater or lesser pace for more than a decade. Volker did not let go until not only the inflation had abated, but so too had the far more important expectation of future inflation. Recessions since then have been relatively short and mild by comparison, and the "recession" that heralded the beginning of the current Administration was not a recession by the technical measure of two consecutive quarters of negative real GDP growth, but it was certainly more than enough of a pretext for George W. Bush and his Republican allies in Congress to get their way with drastic tax cuts to "stimulate" the economy, a siren call the GOP has used in the past, most notably at the outset of the Reagan years and, before that, near the end of the Eisenhower Administration. Unlike Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, who led their party's parade to the trough of wildly generous tax cuts for the rich, Eisenhower resisted the tax cut bleatings of his fellow Republicans and, in so doing, was able to deliver several years of balanced federal budgets, unlike either Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush. Of course, in all fairness at least to the current President of the United States, few are those even among the professional apologists for Mr. Bush who would accuse him of being the latter-day incarnation of President Eisenhower in fiscally responsible leadership, much less in statesmanship and general intelligence.

As a touchstone for reference, the table below presents the record of recessions in the United States from the third decade of the 20th Century to the present.

U.S. Recessions
1920 to Present
Peak before RecessionTrough of RecessionDuration of Recession
(months from peak to trough)
Decrease in Real GDP
(percent from peak to trough)
Duration of Following Expansion
(months from trough to peak)
December 1969
*As of end of First Quarter 2008

With that data providing helpful historical guidance, and with some well-established macroeconomic principles being applied, what follows is a summary, if highly preliminary, assessment of what interested readers should expect of the economy in the coming months and years.

First, the economy will not go into recession for a while. The current scenario appears too much like the U.S. economy in 1979, except that the incumbent Federal Reserve is far more out of control than the pre-Volker Fed was. We will experience what in Carter's time was called "stagflation": paltry real growth of GDP coupled with accelerating inflation. Eventually, as that inflation becomes more and more embedded in interest rates, the Fed's efforts to hold interest rates down by pouring money at greater and greater rates into the economy will begin to fail, and the economy will teeter closer and closer to the brink of negative real growth in GDP.

As far as inflation is concerned, a quick, dirty way to generate a forecast is to take the year-over-year growth rate of the money supply and subtract from it the real growth rate of GDP: that's the "overhang" of dollars the economy's real (that is, production-based) spending growth cannot use, so that overhang must, sooner or later, become inflation. If the broadest money aggregate, M3, is growing at close to 20 percent, and the real GDP is growing at around half-a-percent, that means inflation will eventually hit 19.5 percent or so on an annualized basis. As a nice, round number, call it a forecast of 20 percent inflation. As mind-numbing as that number is, the worse part is that, the longer the Federal Reserve under the new President fails to crush the money supply, the closer expected inflation will get to that 20 percent figure, which means interest rates will climb to the point where economic activity in the United States will grind to a virtual halt; but that's not the worst part.

The expected inflation premium does not affect only interest rates; it becomes embedded in the forward expectations of compensation for all factors of production, perhaps most notable among them being labor, which has been on its back for years in terms of its ability to successfully project bargaining power into management-labor wage negotiations. That will change: under mounting pressure from rank-and-file workers who will begin to experience real deprivations as their nominal purchasing power withers in the accelerating inflation, people will forcefully demand far greater performance from their unions and, in the absence of union representation, from the employers themselves. Long dormant (in some cases, even intergenerational) frustrations with the inability to get ahead economically will translate, at best, into far more active, vociferous workers and, at worst, widespread agitation and activities that will bring down what has become a swift, efficient, often merciless fist of retributive law enforcement surveillance, actions, and violence, which will be wholly and prejudicially supported by courts packed by the Bush Administration with extemist conservative and Right-wing judges.

The next President, regardless of which nominee it is, will be faced with the choice of either forestalling the application of draconian remedies for the hyperinflation or forcing the Fed to quickly and resolutely clamp down on the money supply, this latter choice sending the economy into a hard recession near the depth and length of the Great Depression. Either way the new President decides to play it, by 2010 or 2011, unprecedented, severe, unavoidable demands on the federal budget will emerge, and they will get worse with each successive budget cycle. At the same time, the utter debilitation of the U.S. armed forces will have become apparent not merely to the U.S. brass, but to the heads of state of adventurous countries in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a nascent South American alliance, the European Union, and loner countries like Japan, all of whom will shed at least some pretense of disinterest in taking command of land, the seas, the sky, and space in the growing chasm between continued American military posturing and viable, multi-theater engagement capability.

And if all of that is not enough, the growing independence of the world economy and its sovereign participants from the U.S. dollar will mean that U.S. goods and services, although cheap and well received in other countries, will become not just more expensive here at home, but also subject to much more price volatility as the greenback no longer serves as the anchor in international contracts for everything from foodstuffs to hydrocarbon products.

Other catastrophes will attend and succeed those listed above, but that's a good start, although, as cautioned earlier, this is just a preliminary and quite summary impression of what is to come. Indeed, it could get much worse.

One way or the other, despite the greatest efforts of the stupefyingly irresponsible Bush Administration and its swirling cacophony of apologists in the Right-wing think tanks, the mainstream media, academia, the courts, the religious community, and the general population, reality will soon arrive on the unstoppable freight train of dire consequences to which each of the aforementioned groups will no doubt find its own means by which to dismiss personal responsibility for national calamity. That, no doubt, was why the gallows were so popular in a by-gone era: a good noose not only kills the mendacious, it shuts them up, too.

The Dark Wraith will offer further economic forecasts as events merit.

Cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums

· · · · ·

As Much as I Would Like to Avoid This

by: blackdog

I can't help myself. This is illustrative about the message our idiot-in-chief conveys whenever it is on patrol, wreaking mayhem and catastrophe around the world.

Makes me proud to be an American, how about you?

How Much Lower Can We Go?

by: Debra

Are there any depths to which this current administration will not sink? I know it seems like a stupid question considering everything they've screwed up over the last seven years, but even this one boggles what little mind I have left. It seems that those who have served faithfully in this misbegotten war, are not eligible for the tax stimulus checks that the country really can't afford. Yes, I know people have conveniently ignored the fact that quite a few military families are forced to used food stamps to survive, but how anyone in their right mind would think that the troops don't deserve the maximum amount of the stimulus package totally baffles me.

Every morning I'm greeted with some stupid ass story about how the troops are being supported. But not by the government that sends them into harm's way time after time without adequate armor, decent food or water, poor housing when they get back and an atrocious medical system that punishes them for being injured on the field of battle. If they were in the Reserves or the National Guard, even though it's against the law, their jobs aren't waiting for them when they get back and due to the high rate of PTSD that everyone except the government recognizes, our military veterans can't find decent employment while they wait for the next time they are called up. Even if it's three years after their last tour.

What kind of country are we that we can obsess about flag pins and not worry about those who have been injured or killed supposedly defending this nation from terrorists from without while the terrorists from within destroy everything this country used to stand for?

Our troops passed fucked up without collecting $300 and the rest of us are on our way to cultural armageddon. The rich continue to get richer, the poor continue to get poorer and our troops continued to get screwed.


Happy Mother's Day

by: Debra

10 May 2008

Mom, Apple Pie and GOP SOBs

by: Foiled Goil

Republicans Vote Against Moms; No Word Yet on Puppies, Kittens

Dana Milbank:
It was already shaping up to be a difficult year for congressional Republicans. Now, on the cusp of Mother's Day, comes this: A majority of the House GOP has voted against motherhood.

On Wednesday afternoon, the House had just voted, 412 to 0, to pass H. Res. 1113, "Celebrating the role of mothers in the United States and supporting the goals and ideals of Mother's Day," when Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), rose in protest.

"Mr. Speaker, I move to reconsider the vote," he announced.

Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), who has two young daughters, moved to table Tiahrt's request, setting up a revote. This time, 178 Republicans cast their votes against mothers.

It has long been the custom to compare a popular piece of legislation to motherhood and apple pie. Evidently, that is no longer the standard. Worse, Republicans are now confronted with a John Kerry-esque predicament: They actually voted for motherhood before they voted against it.

Republicans, unhappy with the Democratic majority, have been using such procedural tactics as this all week to bring the House to a standstill, but the assault on mothers may have gone too far. House Minority Leader John Boehner, asked yesterday to explain why he and 177 of his colleagues switched their votes, answered: "Oh, we just wanted to make sure that everyone was on record in support of Mother's Day."

By voting against it?

* * * * *

"The majority has taken, once again, their go-it-alone policy," Boehner lamented yesterday. "It's time for Democrats and Republicans to work together."

To induce this working together, Boehner decided to stop the House from working at all.

· ·


by: Debra

It's the fifteenth annual KFOG Kaboom in San Francisco. This year's line up includes Matt Nathanson, Collective Soul and Los Lobos. It's all wrapped up at the end with the most spectacular fireworks display on the west coast.

Last year we felt like we were freezing to death, the temperature on the bay had dropped into the thirties, so this year we're bringing a sleeping bag in addition to the coats, blankets and sweats. Meanwhile, for those of you who can't get to SF today (the fun starts at four), here's a little SF feeling for you.

It never ceases to amaze me how the lyrics from the 60s are still topical today. I really do hope that it is a warm San Franciscan night.

09 May 2008

Best Laugh Today

by: Foiled Goil

Breaking news....there's a big-ass hole in Texas. What will the Department of Republican Nomenclature do with this new challenge?

Big-ass Hole in Texas

Kennebec Blue:

Breaking news! There's a big-ass hole in Texas, and even the experts don't know how far it will go, or how much damage it will cause. Thus far its appetite for destruction seems to know no bounds. One theory is that it got its start from oil drilling. The Department of Republican Nomenclature hasn't settled on a name for the Big-ass Hole in Texas yet, but is expected to go with something like the Normal Terrain Initiative, Perfectly Safe Backyards for America, or simply the Democrats' Fault.

To the tune of "Yellow Rose of Texas":

There’s a Big-ass Hole in Texas, that’s wide and fairly deep,
No other state will claim it, we say it’s theirs to keep,
It got its start from drilling, destruction knows no bounds,
Republicans have seen it, and named it "Level Grounds."

Go ahead, I bet you can write the next verse without half trying.

· ·

dat ol delusional theology...

by: astraea

I've been tracking it for a good while. May I share this from my archive.

from dec 20 2000

Message #704 of 30961 group/Negative-Capability
deb wrote:
Re: [Negative-Capability] Fw: [AnInformedPublic] Cheney shatters
Clinton push for peace in Israel
Nietzsche and Goethe also very big influences on Carl Jung, even Oscar
Wilde. Wagner is the only one I can think of who was rabidly and
consciously involved in myth making in the same destructive vein as Hitler.
But then, eugenics was just part of the late 19th early 20th C. The
planning for 'The Shape of Things to Come' was something Wells learned to
regret, something GBShaw is now pulled over the coals for. But it was just

part of the thinking, a natural part of early Socialist problem solving --
trying to plan, an attempt at making the world better. Oh yes:
full of good intentions! That it turned into the final solution was all
shadow projection, positivism, possession and obsession. The Dark isn't
dangerous, but our attitude toward it can be. Same goes for the Light.
Ultima Thule and the grail myth were turned into something diabolical when
they were married to complexes. But these things are not diabolical in

It's exactly what Jung addresses in The Spirit Mercurius.

One of the first groups Hitler came for (and I had a lovely old Swiss man
write me about this): The Freemasons. Why? Because Masonry (MPB was an
honorary Mason and there are those whackos now who now claim SHE fed the
Nazis...) was the 'study of the science of symbols.' Freemasonry understood
ritual and metaphor as keys to the inner self through the EXPERIENCE of the
Divine as the ineffable numen. Scripture was understood in the Deistic
sense of a mortal heart speaking as the divine moves it.* Yes, pure Jung. I
can't think of anyone more pointedly Masonic than Jung -- who's grandfather
was the Swiss Grandmaster (George Washington was the first GM in the US).

So... it wasn't these writers who were dangerous, but they way they were fed
into an already sick, archetype possessed group of people who supposed their
intuition was, like everything about themselves, the infallible work of the
only true deity.

Lord knows, we have that here, now. Even Newt is undstanding they've
created a Frankenstein in the radical Christian Right. I'm praying, as they
are, that the moderates in their party can get hold of this mad and slippery
thing they've fed. A mass mind with all the potential destructiveness of
the Nazis.

Atlantic Monthly has a big story this month (that I can't get to scan!) on
the Goddess and the Scholars: Debunking the Goddess myth. You fools, you
crazy cultists! That's one of their Al Gore straw men: WE NewAgers
'worship' mother earth and want 'one world'. Well -- jeez. What is, is!
It's the worship thing they're stuck on. Symbols speak to us. As symbols.

The toad preacher John Egee(?) on the Christian Network gave an especially
rabid speech last night, saying we can choose God's law (their patriarchal
spin if the Bible ala Handmaid's Tale) or 'the law of the jungle.' They are
ready to go onto the Next Level of Christianity. He told some whoppers
about the meaning of 'The International Year of the Child"... "...allows
children to sue their parents, encourages them to buy condom... they don't
know the last three presidents when the graduate, but they've got a diploma
and a condom!" On and on... But what got me was the look in the eyes of
the people listening. It wasn't Christian love. It was hate.

----- Original Message -----
From: mike
Subject: Re: [Negative-Capability] Fw: [AnInformedPublic] Cheney shatters
Clinton push for peace in Israel

mary wrote:
| > Goethe and Nietsczhe (can't spell) were part of its happening if I'm not
| > mistaken? Hitler was more than a man with big hypnotic eyes and an
| > irritating voice, he was a man in a time and a place who was close to
| > collective unconscious and used it -- I bet he thought that was love --
| > including its mythology and sacred texts. Goethe and Nietschze were
| > the sacred texts. Also: Struwwelpeter.
| *Unfortunately all too true.
| m
| "....several things dovetailed in my mind, & at once it struck me, what
| quality went to form a Man of Achievement especially in Literature &
| which Shakespeare possessed so enormously -- I mean Negative Capability,
| that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries,
| doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason -- " ~John

*which applies to all, yes?
In the floods of life, in the storm of work,
In Ebb and flow,
In warp and weft,
Cradle and grave,
An eternal sea,
A changing patchwork,
A glowing life,
At the whirring loom of Time I weave
The living clothes of the Deity.
~Goethe, the Earth Spirit to Faust

SYMBOLS, beloved.

That which is creative, creates itself. ~John Keats

Message #672 of 30961
the original article:

deb wrote:

As expected.

Let's see... it's all falling into place. Bush will make a fine antichrist,
war in the middle east, the restoration of the Temple of Solomon... then the
Righteous get to watch all of us burn from their heavenly vaunt. Should
make them all very happy.

That ain't my God, folks. And it ain't the mask 'he' wants to wear.
Yahweh's very tired of the whole drama. I wonder how far they can project
this shadow, though?

What are we to do alice, mary, carroll, mike, anand, phoebe -- all my
friends who see beyond what I can see as Hanging Man? I think I'm here to
usher paradox in and out, to remain a zwitterion. How do I keep faith?
Because I do somehow. We have to. I'll hang... the tree will blossom on
its own. I'll smell their scent. But maybe watered with tears of -- love?

| rrrrrq&pg=/et/00/12/18/wmid18.html
| 18 December 2000
| Cheney shatters Clinton push for peace in Israel
| By Patrick Bishop in Jerusalem
| AN attempt to salvage a Middle East peace deal in the dying days of
| the Clinton presidency appeared seriously undermined last night as
| the incoming administration said recent American diplomacy had
| hindered a settlement.
| Israeli and Palestinian delegations are expected to go to Washington
| this week to try to find common ground that could pave the way for a
| peace summit. Both sides are due to hold separate talks with American
| officials in the first serious attempt to resume negotations, which
| have been in abeyance since the Palestinian uprising erupted in the
| West Bank and Gaza Strip at the end of September.
| The already slim chances of success were reduced further yesterday
| when Vice-President-elect Dick Cheney voiced the incoming
| administration's "concerns that the way the Clinton administration
| operated in the [last] year or so in the Middle East has made it more
| difficult to reach a settlement".
| He singled out the decision to put the future of Jerusalem, one of
| the most intractable of the many issues under negotiation, at the
| centre of the failed summit at Camp David last July. He made it clear
| that the Bush presidency had its own ideas about how to "regenerate"
| the peace process, which he said had now broken down.
| On the face of it, the parties have an interest in reaching
| agreements before President Clinton steps down on January 20. Ehud
| Barak was eager to strike a deal that would allow him to show
| substantial progress in building peace with the Palestinians in
| advance of an election for prime minister in early February which on
| current form he is expected to lose.
| Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, had the choice of doing
| business with Mr Barak or waiting until after the poll, which in the
| absence of a peace breakthrough seems certain to result in a
| hardliner at the Israeli helm. Yesterday he said he was willing to
| meet Mr Barak to talk peace.
| Mr Clinton was anxious to see some results from a process which had
| absorbed much of his energy since he decided to try to forge a solid
| Middle East settlement as his lasting presidential legacy. That hope
| would now seem to be unrealistic following Mr Cheney's intervention.
| Despite the peace rumblings blood continued to flow yesterday with
| Israeli soldiers shooting dead Iyad Daoud, 27, and Ahmed Al-Kassas,
| 38, in the Gaza Strip near the border with Egypt. Palestinians said
| they had been going to the rescue of another man who had been shot
| and wounded. The army said they had returned fire after coming under
| attack.
| A leader of Mr Arafat's Fatah group was killed in a mysterious
| explosion at the Kalandiya refugee camp near Jerusalem. Fatah
| officials said Sami Mala'b eh, 28, was the latest victim of an
| Israeli assassination campaign against activists. The army had no
| official comment about the incident.

McCain courted Hagee for endorsement...

by: astraea

Aha. This is what was lost in the static from Charlie Rose's interview with Bill Moyers last night. It begins at 42:26 on the video as they're speaking about Republicans and the endorsement of religious leaders. Moyers mentions the free ride the press gave McCain on Hagee and his delusional theology and goes on to tell us Hagee didn't go to McCain, McCain went to Hagee for endorsement. Now that puts things in a whole new focus, a place McCain can't wriggle away from.

So Google "McCain courted Hagee."
Read. For instance --

McCain Courted extremist Hagee for at least a year

Frederick Clarkson highlights the fact that Senator John McCain courted the endorsement of anti-catholic and anti-semitic preacher John Hagee for at least a year. John Hagee is also what I call an eschatophile: he's obsessed with eschatology, frequently holding forth about the "End Times" according to interpretations that no doubt 50 years from now (probably just 10 or 20 years from now) are going to appear ridiculous.

Thinking, a Dangerous Thing for Me

by: blackdog

This is awfully personal for me and I have little recourse to talk with anyone about it, the Woof looks kindly at me but offers nothing beyond that, so in many ways, being a reclusive bastard I have no other audience. I have attempted to be slow and stand-offish about a recent issue and have done a fairly good job in that direction, but I find that my heart can barely stand it. Like the dim one that I am I fall into temptation, time and again. Maybe this will explain some. From my recently re-divorced X.

As I said before, you do hold a special spot in my heart and always will. That was so long ago, but I do remember how wonderful our love was. All fresh and new. But now I am old and tired. Thanks so much for being so honest with me, I hated to ask you about it but I just had to (if I still drank, yes, I do). Please don't ever think that you bother me, you bring a smile to me more than you think, and right now I need those smiles. I'm having alot of trouble dealing with this divorce. Funny I never thought that John and I would part, he just got the middle age crazies and had to go. Oh well, I'll figure out how to make this work.
Anyway Thanks again for Roy (Orbison) and it really makes me sad to think that I make you cry. If you want I'll stop contacting you. I don't want to make you unhappy so just say the word, it won't hurt my feelings, I'll understand.

On Thu, May 8, 2008 at 9:06 PM, blackdog wrote:

Damn, I have to do this again, the first time for some reason or other it didn't work. (In answer to her question about beer).
Yes I do, not in the same way, some measure of peace has found me and I don't rail at the world anymore all the time, the world has seemed to have beaten me to a point where I just shutup. I have my Woof to take care of and that is about all I need.

I should note my posts over at the 3Bs if you would know something about me these days, I haven't changed that much but one thing is clear to me is that I never quit loving you over all these years. There, I said it. Although I would never want to get involved again and have any potential to ruin your life another time, we did enough harm to each other already.

You deserve something better. I'll never hold you again and call you rabbit, but to my death I will remember the time we played in the snow at Scott, where I tripped you by the silo and we fell together in the snow kissing.

Sorry for being such a sentimental bastard, but there you have it. This represents better than any other bs how I feel, and most important, you take care.

This may be the last post I make for a while. Got to get some healing.

I know that I am full of crap, but this is pretty funny. All the dogs in the neighborhood are sounding off for some reason or other, so sleep isn't an option just now.

Monsters, under your bed no less.

One more and then I really go to bed.

This one is pretty good.

i more and it's pretty good too.

Just had a long conversation with my older brother, it was pretty good, As I've said before he is me x 10. Wish I could post it here but he won't allow it, not at all. First time I've spoken with him in more than a while. He's pretty intelligent, makes me look like a blackdog.

Bill Moyer's comments on John Hagee

by: astraea

The video isn't out yet on Charlie Rose's website, but yes, it happened here too. Wonder what Moyers said. Act of Yahweh, the static? Problem is, people have more of a problem with our fear of possible tampering than they do with Hagee's vision, the world wide political and personal support of it (see links below) -- and most of all -- McCain's honoring his endorsement.

comment from rose website:

Comment by Paul Buerkle on Friday, May 9 at 10:41 AM

I look forward to seeing the Moyers interview here. Our local PBS (WHYY) has what appears to be someone's attempt at censorship. Moyers spoke about Rev. Hagee, and had just uttered the words "delusional theology" when the sound cut out, and picture went blank. After 3 minutes, it returned, when the subject had changed. Could be just a technical problem, but the timing was such as to raise suspicion, especially as the rest of the program had no problems.

more background on Hagee:
where Bill Berkowitz notes:
To better comprehend the scope of the right's initiatives, consider one of The Heartland Institute's projects. In April 2000, Z magazine published a piece I wrote about Heartland that I had written for CultureWatch, a monthly newsletter tracking right-wing movements and published by the DataCenter from May 1993 through October 2000. Founded in 1984, Heartland, I wrote in 2000, "spent its early years as a no-frills, conservative, free-market, tax-exempt research organization applying, 'cutting-edge research to state and local public policy issues'--and not really distinguishing itself."

In 1996, however, Heartland created a program that linked the conservative advocacy of a think tank with state-of-the-art technology to become one of the country's leading information clearinghouses. At a time when paper was still premium, Heartland's PolicyFax project delivered documents -- 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and free of charge -- on a host of public policy issues to public officials crafting legislation, editorial writers and op-ed columnists preparing a piece, advocacy organizations prepping for an anti-environmental campaign. The kicker: Every elected official in the U.S. (regardless of position), every significant media worker, and researchers from all the other think tanks received Heartland's complete set of resources delivered directly to their desks.

Heartland is still on the cutting edge of information delivery: PolicyFax has evolved into PolicyBot, a project that Heartland claims "is the Internet's most extensive clearing-house for the work of free-market think tanks, with more than 22,000 studies and commentaries from over 350 think tanks and advocacy groups."

AND lest ye doubt...

Hill talked about the vast right wing conspiracy. (Then she sits down with Scaife?) McCain is endorsed by same, yea, verily, anointed re Hagee. Isn't time the candidates addressed this for us, head on?

xpost big brass and robot sex

Commentary Analysis

by: Foiled Goil

James Pence Video

08 May 2008

Maybe the best show on TV

by: blackdog

From the BBC, later on PBS, then picked up by one of the networks. Can't remember which, but it was great. Patrick McGoohan as the Prisoner.

A really great show that illustrates where we are now, trust the Brits to figure it out 30, pardon me better than 40 years ago. Patrick even drives a Morgan.

Now I quit, I have some new mail. Enjoy.

I Wouldn't Vote For Obama

by: Debra

If he was the only candidate running. Change. That's the biggest joke since the 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner. This election cycle has been a mainstream farce, specializing in marginalizing the candidates that the people were interested in and forcing us to decide between three of the worst choices since the last two bad options in 2004. Does this mean I'm not voting? No, I'm just not voting for President. It isn't going to make a positive difference to this country no matter who we get stuck with. We moved from being a republic to a corporatacracy a long time ago. And for those who think the United States was or is a democracy, you need to take American Government 101 again.

But I doubt if they still offer it.

07 May 2008

Pentagon Propaganda Profit Pundits

by: Foiled Goil

What the Pentagon Pundits Were Selling on the Side

The Pentagon pundit scandal was not only a corrupt marriage of propaganda and corporate lobbying -- it was completely illegal.

Diane Farsetta, senior researcher at the Center for Media and Democracy
The Pentagon launched its covert media analyst program in 2002, to sell the Iraq war. Later, it was used to sell an image of progress in Afghanistan, whitewash the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, and defend the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping, as David Barstow reported in his New York Times expose.

But the pundits weren't just selling government talking points. As Robert Bevelacqua, William Cowan and Carlton Sherwood enjoyed high-level Pentagon access through the analyst program, their WVC3 Group sought "contracts worth tens of millions to supply body armor and counterintelligence services in Iraq," reported Barstow. Cowan admitted to "push[ing] hard" on a WVC3 contract, during a Pentagon-funded trip to Iraq.

Then there's Pentagon pundit Robert H. Scales Jr. The military firm he co-founded in 2003, Colgen, has an interesting range of clients, from the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. Special Operations Command, to Pfizer and Syracuse University, to Fox News and National Public Radio.

Of the 27 Pentagon pundits named publicly to date, six are registered as federal lobbyists. That's in addition to the less formal -- and less transparent -- boardroom to war-room influence peddling described above. (There are "more than 75 retired officers" who took part in the Pentagon program overall, according to Barstow.)

◊ ◊ ◊

As The Nation pointed out shortly after the U.S. invaded Iraq, many of the retired officers hired to provide war commentary had significant conflicts of interest. At the time, Fox and NBC brushed off questions about their military analysts' financial and other interests as irrelevant to or separate from their on-air commentary.

Today, the broadcast and cable networks are steadfastly refusing to cover or otherwise address the Pentagon military analyst program, with very few exceptions. In this case, though, the pundits' undeclared financial interests are only part of a larger and much more serious problem. These officers participated in a covert government program designed to shape U.S. public opinion -- an illegal program, and one that relied on the willingness of major media to play along, without asking too many questions. And that's exactly what happened.

The media outlets that featured the Pentagon's pundits need to address both aspects of this debacle -- that they failed to identify or disclose conflicts of interest, and that they helped propagandize U.S. news audiences.

◊ ◊ ◊

Increasingly, news audiences are realizing the many ways in which interested parties skew media coverage. Media outlets need to wake up to that reality and work to strengthen their safeguards in defense of the public interest. Their only alternative is to start composing their next weak and belated mea culpa, in a desperate attempt to protect their ever-dwindling credibility.
Entire story here.

Related post.

· · ·

Konagod's Drunken Peanuts Recipe

by: Konagod

A quick and easy and very satisfying meal, especially while txrad is preparing dinner, or when you are ready for Hillary Clinton to accept a VP slot on the Obama ticket so we can get on with shit.



Open peanuts

Pour a desirable portion of peanuts into hand and chew.

Drink one shot premium tequila and a generous swig of local beer. Repeat as often as necessary for desired effect or until peanuts are feeling toasty.

I'm so jaded right now I don't even care what Rachel Maddow has to say.

Crossposted from konagod

The Silver Toung

by: blackdog

This fellow has a gift, no doubt about it, and I like what he says, I noticed no notes, script or teleprompter, could it be that he just thinks on his feet? It's about 21 minutes long, but if you will, check it out and tell me what you think. Courtesy of Hoffmania.

Here it is.

06 May 2008

Julie in the Sky with Diamonds

by: blackdog

She flies tomorrow with her husband Rick and will be in San Diego to meet their son. She is on her last legs now and any support of the communicative sort would be most appreciated. I just spoke with her and she is not too worried, but Rick is.

I think they are going to have a good time.

Rick or Julia Harrison
E-mail Address(es):

Sorry if I sound obsessed about this but there are some that you just don't want to lose.

Just to lighten the mood, here is this. This may be for me more than anybody else. Pardon.

I used to do a pretty good blackbird at a friends wedding.

Tomorrow will be a new day. I hope.

Minor Update

Drug Convictions in Black and White

by: Konagod

Hey Barack and Hillary, I'm not sure which of you will capture the nomination. It honestly doesn't much matter to me at this point. But it would be refreshing to see either one, or preferably both, of you address this problem:

The Drug War (aka the War Against Black Men).

While drug usage among whites and blacks is relatively even, black men are almost 12 times more likely than white men to be convicted and sent to prison.
Two new reports, issued Monday by the Sentencing Project in Washington and by Human Rights Watch in New York, both say the racial disparities reflect, in large part, an overwhelming focus of law enforcement on drug use in low-income urban areas, with arrests and incarceration the main weapon.

But they note that the murderous crack-related urban violence of the 1980s, which spawned the war on drugs, has largely subsided, reducing the rationale for a strategy that has sowed mistrust in the justice system among many blacks.

Drug-related arrests continue to climb year after year, and according to the FBI, based on the most recent data available, marijuana arrests account for 40% of the total. This needs to be a political issue, but unfortunately both Obama and Clinton seem to be afflicted with Bushitis when it comes to a solution.
Both Democratic presidential candidates, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, have strongly condemned the racial disparities in arrests and incarceration during their campaigns, although neither has said how they would end them.

Call me. I have more than a few ideas. In the grand scheme of things, with all our problems which include Iraq, oil prices, the housing crisis, poverty, and disappearing jobs, the injustice inherent in the drug war is relatively easy to solve.
“The race question is so entangled in the way the drug war was conceived,” said Jamie Fellner, a senior counsel at Human Rights Watch and the author of its report.

“If the drug issue is still seen as primarily a problem of the black inner city, then we’ll continue to see this enormously disparate impact,” Ms. Fellner said.

Her report cites federal data from 2003, the most recent available on this aspect, indicating that blacks constituted 53.5 percent of all who entered prison for a drug conviction.

Appalling. No wonder I like to fire one up for presidential debates and primary election returns.

Crossposted from konagod

· ·

Gas Tax Holiday Frenzy at the State Level

by: Konagod

It's not just Clinton and McCain on the wrong track with calls for suspending the 18.4-cent federal excise tax; governors and lawmakers in many states are calling for a similar tax holiday by suspending their own state gasoline taxes. This is probably the most foolish idea idea I've heard in eons.
Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida has been fighting to cut 10 cents from the state’s gasoline tax for two weeks in July. Lawmakers in Missouri, New York and Texas have also proposed a summer break from state gas taxes, while candidates for governor in Indiana and North Carolina are sparring over relief ideas of their own.

If experience with such gas tax “holidays” is any guide, drivers would save less than politicians suggest. But that is not necessarily the point.

“It’s about trying to serve the people and trying to understand and have caring, compassionate hearts for what they’re dealing with at the kitchen table,” said Mr. Crist, a Republican.

What's interesting is these politicians don't seem to give a damn about long-term solutions to either fuel prices, fuel economy, energy alternatives, or people living below the poverty line regardless of whether or not we have cheap fuel.

But they certainly do know how to jump on the quick-fix bandwagon to appease a public which seems to believe quick-fixes and cheap energy are an American birthright.
The response speaks not just to the reality of skyrocketing gas prices. It also highlights the political potency of anything that affects Americans’ bonds with their cars. Gas is a product that no one can ignore — and one that inspires intense emotion.

The time to bite the bullet is now. Oil futures surpassed $120 a barrel on Monday and if that isn't a wake-up call to start pouring huge resources and attention into long-term energy alternatives, then we reap what we sow. The idea that a suspension of the tax is going to help million of Americans "put food on the table" during the summer is preposterous.

Assuming prices don't continue to rise more than the amount of the suspended tax, then many American may indeed be able to buy a week's worth of groceries. Unfortunately, we can't assume fuel prices won't continue to rise during the summer months. State coffers will suffer and in the end, the lost tax revenue will need to be recouped. And in the end, if by chance fuel prices at the pump have risen another 10-cents to 20-cents a gallon by Labor Day, it's going to be a double whammy when the state and/or federal taxes on fuel are reinstated.

Changing our driving habits can do far more to put food on the table than a temporary suspension of the tax. Eliminating unnecessary trips and driving more conservatively could accomplish a lot. And we have the power to do that on our own, without the involvement of politicians.

What we should be demanding of our politicians is honesty, and a pledge to work sincerely on energy reform, without influence from big oil interests. We don't seem to be there yet.

Crossposted from konagod


Serving the Soup

by: Minstrel Boy

The mystery of who dropped off the onions is solved. An old friend who is a farmer here has a beautiful little five year old girl. She is entranced by my harps and is always agitating to get some time to try and play them. He left the onions as a thank you. He also told me about another reason the only market for them is local. Because of the high sugar content they do not store well. You can't just get a bag of them and stick them in cold storage to wait for your sales.

We get to keep all these beauties ourselves.

To serve you take a thick crockery bowl. It has to be a bowl that will survive being under the broiler. Fill the bowls 3/4 full with hot soup, lay your croutons over the top, then lay on a layer of grated cheese. I use about a half and half mixture of grated swiss, I love the nutty flavor and the texture, mixed with an equal amount of freshly grated Parmesian Reggiano.

This goes under the broiler until it looks like this:


A couple of hints. If your croutons are extremely dry they will soak up all the delicious broth. No problem, if you see that this has happened when you remove the bowls from the broiler just lay another ladle of soup over the top. Don't forget to warn your guests about the very hot bowls. A thoughtful host will always include a sharp knife to cut through the croutons if the spoon can't get through the crusts, and also for trimming the strings of cheese from the spoon.

Our performance was the hit of the night. More about that later. Right now, soup's on and stuff.

harp and sword
05 May 2008

Potage d'Oignon Gratinée

by: Minstrel Boy

When I got home from doing some shopping for supplies to make Peppermint Stick Ice Cream for the Cinco de Mayo celebration tonight, I came home to find this.

Friends and lovers of food porn, that is a box of Imperial Valley Sweets. These rare, because they don't ship well at all, gems of the farmer's art are simply the finest sweet onions in the world. You can have your Vidalias, they're good, hell, they're very good, but, one has to put up with folks from Georgia to get them. Fuck that sez I. The Walla Wallas have their own cult and their own press agents. They're good too. Mauis are wonderful.

These are better. They are more versatile. They do everything onions are supposed to do and more. These are also incredibly good for eating out of hand. Or, one of my favorites, a thick slice of onion between two slices of buttered and salt and peppered bread for an onion sandwich. Another great way for these is to put a pat of butter on top of a whole peeled onion, cover with plastic and microwave three to four minutes until the onion is hot and tender, sprinkle with Pico de Gallo or Tapatio and dig in.

Since my jaw is still hurting I will go with the classic Potage d'Oignion Gratinée. Or to the unwashed and monolingual, French Onion Soup. There are several cults involved with this classic dish. I chose the one that doesn't involve small animal sacrifice.

First, you need to cut your croutons. Simply slice up a loaf of French Bread into about half inch disks. The next choice is air dry or toast? To toast the croutons brush them liberally with olive oil and bake until they are dry and crunchy but not toasted brown. To air dry simple expose them to air. I prefer the sturdier texture of the air dry. I just so happened to have these babies up on top of the fridge.

Now, it's time for the onions. These sweets are what I'm using, but any good yellow or brown onion will be just fine. The onions need to be peeled, sliced and ringed.

Do enough to fill your stockpot nearly to the top.

I used eight onions for the start. These go into the stockpot, then drizzled with olive oil (you don't need any lahdeedah EVOO, use good old pedestrian olive oil here) and cooked on a high flame, covered, until they begin to soften and wilt. Stir occaisionally. What we are wanting is for carmelization to occur. Cook these babies down.

To this:

Add in half again as many onions as you used in the first cooking, sliced and ringed as before and cook them covered until they are tender and clear. This is called staging an ingredient, this is so that there will be two levels of onion flavor and texture in the finished soup. It makes a huge difference. Remember that box of onions? Now it looks like this:

Drain the onion slices of most of the olive oil. Deglaze the pot with a quarter inch of dry sherry. Add the onions back in. Salt and pepper. Pour in equal parts beef and chicken broth. Simmer, uncovered, until volume is reduced by a full third.


You can add in a coloring or sauce strengthener like Kitchen Bouquet® if you so desire, but, if you were patient enough with carmelizing your onions it should not be something you need to do. If you want a deep brown broth in your finished soup, by all means, go right the fuck ahead.

The assembly and serving process will follow tonight when I do it after our Cinco de Mayo fiesta. My four Mariachas from Intermediate Strings class have been invited to play tonight. They are very excited and very honored. They have invited me to sit in with them on the harp. We are going to play "La Mujera de los Dos Pistoles" which is a famous corrida from this revolution. There was a celebrated Puta (whore) near Vera Cruz who when she saw a train carrying food, armaments and 2,000 French soldiers took a group of her girls down to the train at a coal and water stop. They did their business, collected their money, but La Mujera drugged the wine she was plying the train crew with and while they were passed out she drove the train 200 miles past its intended stop. She drove it, and the French soldiers, their horses, their food and all their equipment straight into the arms of Benito Juarez. He asked her how she learned to drive a locomotive. She said "In bed." She was famous throughout the next years of revolution for her brace of revolvers, her quick use of them when anybody referred to her previous occupation or disparaged the contribution of women to the cause, and her elegant and beautiful Palomino stallion which was a gift from a grateful Juarez. It's a great song and we will kick revolutionary ass with it tonight.

harp and sword

Ostrich Presidency

by: Foiled Goil

Head in sand, brain in bubble:
This week the White House remained resolutely silent about the fifth anniversary of George Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech. For this administration, it was an especially appropriate way to commemorate the infamous event.

After all, five years ago the White House had remained resolutely silent about the actual situation in Iraq for a period of 50 days after the "Mission Accomplished" speech. During May and most of June 2003, there wasn't a word from Bush about the mayhem in Iraq. In fact the administration focused on everything but Iraq - pretending that all was well until the scale of the unfolding disaster finally forced Bush to abandon his silence and acknowledge publicly that our troops were indeed facing "deadly attacks" there.

That fifty days of silence was fatal in more ways than one. It reflected the determination of Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld to ignore the unfolding fiasco in Iraq, to remain wedded to their own triumphalist propaganda. It's well known that this triumvirate was addicted to propaganda during the rush to war. And the danger of believing your own propaganda could hardly be more obvious, particularly when you've gone to great trouble to spread misinformation on a global scale. But George Bush evidently is pathologically incapable of moving beyond wishful thinking, of facing up to unwelcome facts or re-examining flaws in his thinking, no matter how urgently introspection is needed. It's why Bush never acknowledges mistakes; he can't see them.

So the fifty days of silence was both a destructive period of paralysis in the American occupation, in itself, as well as a harbinger of many more years of policies toward Iraq based on wishful thinking. Bush's failure to address the burgeoning violence in Iraq following his "Mission Accomplished" speech was not accidental. It was characteristic of his refusal to live outside his own propaganda.

"Progress" would be trotted out again and again in subsequent weeks as other administration officials sought to blunt the admission by Bush that the US was still mired in war. In other words, Bush & Co. leapt directly from "mission accomplished" to the equally absurd propaganda of "progress", that leitmotif of quagmire.
Mission Accomplished? Making progress? How many corners must we keep turning?

· · ·

A Conspiracy Theory Primer

by: Dark Wraith

The 2002 horror movie The Ring wove a tale about a horrific video that would predicate the death in seven days of anyone who watched it. The only way to avoid this fate was to further propagate the video, allowing others to suffer its fatal curse. Personally, I enjoyed the movie; but, then again, I'm a sucker for scary movies, although I can pretty much always do without gore-galore festivals (unless the victims were really, really bad actors). The Ring was satisfying for me to the extent that it presented a kind of terror too remote to make me worry about some real-world version of its central premise coming true.

Therein was my potentially grave error in assessing the story line of The Ring, and I have now decided that the only way I can dispense with what could otherwise be an unwanted curse upon my soul is to invite—indeed to encourage—readers to watch a 139-minute film by über-conspiracy theorist Alex Jones of Prison Planet. The movie is herewith embedded near the end of this article.

Long-time readers of my articles might recall that I have mentioned Mr. Jones in the past, specifically with respect to the fact that maverick Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul appeared in a film of his. In my tradition of diplomatic understatement, I wrote of Alex Jones that, "[He is] believed by at least some rational people to be a few cheese cubes short of a snack tray..."

That aside, for readers who want a remarkable, although incomplete, rundown of a principal branch of conspiracy theory, allow me to recommend Alex Jones's 2007 movie, Endgame. It is sweeping, and it is compelling. It is also deeply flawed, primarily by the way it, like most conspiracy theories, constructs conspiracy by virtue of mere associations, some of them familial, others chronological, still others even less well-defined. For example, Jones connects the evolution theory of Charles Darwin to a cousin's twisted ideas on eugenics, and then he goes on to associate the early eugenics whackos—admittedly including a number of Charles Darwin's subsequent family members—to the later eugenics whackos like Adolf Hitler and the better-race promoters in the U.S., including the predecessor to Planned Parenthood. In all fairness to Jones, however, he does not directly attack the theory of evolution, nor does he condemn the idea of the right of women to choose abortion; but he does seem to have an intense interest in offering a less-than-dim view of the foundations of many modern-day organizations, including everything from the World Wildlife Federation to the Federal Reserve system. Along the way, as well as going after the predecessor to Planned Parenthood, he jumps on the usual list of conspiracy theory hot buttons like the United Nations, the European Union, and NAFTA. I roll my eyes every last time the conspiracy theorists trot out these worn-out whipping boys, although the matter of that trans-America highway corridor is a little less of an eye-roller than meets the eye, particularly since officialdom in Washington acts to this very day like the thing doesn't even exist.

I must admit that, within the sweep of his attack, Jones goes after some of my favorite rich-boy charlatans. One of them is Al Gore, a gentleman who in my own, personal opinion is a PowerPoint-wielding, sky-is-falling elitist-opportunist. My published writing and comments about him are harsh and unyielding, and I am not in the least impressed by his Nobel Peace Prize, awarded as it was to a quite comfortable, upper-class gentleman at the same time in history that genuine heroes the world over are rotting in prisons, being tortured, and getting executed for demanding such trivial things as freedom in unfree lands. Yes, the Presidency of the United States was stolen from Mr. Gore; but, no, sometimes it is not better for the Republic that its wronged meekly stand down, for their surrender is not theirs alone, but is also the sacrifice of the millions who will then suffer under the reign of the venal thieves wretchedly proclaimed victor.

Enough with grinding the personal axes; this post is about Endgame, which is, as noted above, incomplete. While it fabulously explains the Bilderberg Group—a favorite sore spot of any self-respecting conspiracy theorist—it completely avoids mentioning the Illuminati, Opus Dei, Freemasonry (although a stylized version of the All Seeing Eye is presented several times), the Jewish conspiracy, and anything whatsoever having to do with UFOs. (Those who know about these matters will, however, notice in the movie all kinds of visual hints of other conspiracy theory threads.) Strangely, avoiding a free-fall involvement of all these other branches of conspiracy theory keeps the movie from drifting into complete silliness.

Along the way, the movie gets a little slow in some places, but the tenor re-attains fever pitch at several places in the last half. Without giving away too many details, the mention that Hillary Rodham Clinton did a half-day appearance at the 2006 Bilderberg Group conference is worth noting. No, she's not a Bilderberger: a half-day visit would mean she was there to briefly present herself for the core group to consider. At that 2006 conference, by the way, Jones got photographs of none other than the disgraced Ahmed Chalabi of Iraq pre-invasion disinformation fame; Chalabi was slithering around at the hotel like some kind of creepy denizen from the depths, apparently a welcome participant in the confab of the rich and powerful.

Another fun part of the movie is the interview into which Jones suckered a young Rothschild heir, a fellow heavily into promoting save-the-planet concerts. Jones threw a rather ludicrous "fact" at the dear boy, who took the bait like an idiot and responded with one of the most self-defeatingly stupid answers I've ever heard from an ostensible heir to shadowy greatness. I actually had to get out of my chair and walk a few feet away during the Rothschild pup's blithering oral dance. Whether or not Jones knew his "fact" about other planets in the solar system exhibiting signs of warming was ridiculous, he certainly got a future Bilderberger to make an ass of himself.

I should also point out that Endgame touched a soft spot in my heart as it took on such historical icons as Bertrand Russell, a man whose bizarre statements about depopulation made him someone I have reviled both as a person and as an intellectual inspiration my whole adult life; Russell resides in the same level of my esteem with self-fawning sods like Ayn Rand and Henry David Thoreau. Another joy to my heart came in the mention that Vice President Dick Cheney, in making his triumphal return to the Council on Foreign Relations some years back, commented on the use of ethnic bio-weapons. (Gee, with stuff like that being talked about by White leaders of the Free World, it's no wonder people like Rev. Wright are considered total lunatics when they start their bizarre rants about AIDS being human-manufactured to kill Blacks.)

I tell you, if all that wasn't enough, I became downright giddy when Bill Gates and Warren Buffet were trotted out for a brief flogging.

Yes, for me, Endgame was a veritable orgy of evil, sinful, wrongful delight, the kind of stuff I know very well is just plain mind-rotting in the same way a rare, fatty, 20-ounce steak cooked on an open fire and a nose-piercing, mucous-clearing cigar are bad for me. God! but it was sweet.

For me, the list of pleasure points in Endgame was rather long; but just because Jones and I have a common manifest of disliked creeps and just because we share a deep concern for the emergence of an authoritarian state, I simply cannot allow that I agree with the scope of his conspiracy theory. I do not, and the reason is quite simple: even though the Bilderbergers really do imagine themselves controlling the fate of the world, and even though their idiocy has caused actual harm, they are pathetically incompetent in their silly plans, schemes, and dreams. Unless their master plan really was to crater the world economy with a blithering combination of neo-liberals, neo-conservatives, communists, Right-wing thugs, religious nutcases, and assorted other thunderously ignorant operatives, where we are headed would be the very last place putative global controllers would have wanted to go: down this path we are plunging lies what will in all likelihood be a horrendous, destructive clash of classes over everything from food to shelter to freedom. As enfeebled of mind as Americans have been for a long time, and as weak and reckless as political opposition has been to the insanity of the Bush Administration, its military adventures abroad, and its ever-expanding, ever-more-intrusive law enforcement machinery at home, the dynamic will change, and the change will be dramatic.

It will also be ugly.

Shadowy, filthy rich cretins who meet once a year to plan the fate of the world would be awfully stupid to risk a global economic collapse that could just as easily lead to anarchy as it could to some pretext for a one-world, authoritarian government solution.

Certainly, those shadowy, filthy rich cretins are not that stupid. Such an idea is every bit as crazy as saying that the richest, most powerful nation on Earth would allow itself to be ruled, and thereby economically destroyed, for eight long years by a vicious, moronic, inarticulate, power-mad, secretive, incompetent fool.

The very idea is laughable.

Anyway, grab some popcorn, pour a drink, close the curtains, and spend a little more than two hours watching Endgame. If nothing else, it's certainly worth a laugh.

The Dark Wraith gives it two thumbs way up.

Cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums

· · · ·
04 May 2008

Going to bed tonight with good feelings

by: blackdog

On various occasions I have felt that either I was cursed or saved, depending on the particular situation. Fooling around at this site, where I hold that I am the intellectual lightweight (I will fight you over that) I have been more than somewhat fortunate. The site administrator has spoken with me, does not hide under the bed with a bad attitude, and is in a way, kinda human. Wish he would get some more chips and freshen his wine.

Then there is another fellow over at who has a sense of humor that is refreshing at worst and welcome at best who goes by Father Tyme. He is obviously someone who attempts to claim that he knows something about reconnaissance and astronomy, but the better informed of us know this is not true. Poor fellow, his eyes might be as poor as mine. But maybe not, his mind is definitely sharper but he remains delusional. Living in a commonwealth can do that to you.

Then there is Peter of Lone Tree, a strange fellow who can not resist a conspiracy. But one who will keep you informed on a level that you will not see on the MSM. I have offered several times to pee on his lone tree in the hope that it would flower and become robust, but he is strangly silent, danged thespian. Must be an English Major. Bet he can't even sing "powdermilk biscuits".

Then comes the surprise of the day, a really wonderful exchange with a lady from Montana who goes by the name of Tali. What a great conversation, I felt I was privileged by this. So my mishap with the phone number had a net positive benefit, so far. "Moving to Montana soon, gonna be a dental floss tycoon".

And to top it off was a conversation with the Minstrel himself, I am aware that I am just a small fart in a universe of methane, and sometimes I will not light a match.

Maybe I overstate the issue, but to even be here and speak with any of you at all is an honor. Again, I feel humbled tonight, and thanks.

To all who have given me what I may not have deserved and I did not mention thanks as well, you know who you are.

You would think I just won an Oscar.

Just have to find a funny pic after all this, otherwise the Woof may chew my toenails all night long.

Stay away from that shit, it will mess with your mind, meow.

Did I ever screw up? You bet, didn't mention specifically the important ladies MOMule and Foiled Goil, they make my heart beat a little faster.

03 May 2008

Weather can Suck

by: blackdog

After several warnings and normal events that happen every winter and spring around here we finally did get a tornado yesterday. I shut down and covered me and the blackdog in the bathroom as it went through, thankfully it was not a big one, but it was big enough. It screwed this town up more than a little, trees that are as big as aircraft carriers went down through several houses, it passes me by just two blocks south. I lucked out.

Funny thing, my friend who does not want their name mentioned just went through a similar event a few weeks ago in Little Rock. We are tired of this shit.

My power just came on a few minutes ago so I can even say this. Now I do know what a tornado sounds like. It is loud and troublesome. Sorry, no pictures yet, I just got back on line. Updates coming. 8 people dead though, that is bad.


Not a good one, but this is the storm that got to me later, started in a town named Keo." rel="external">Keo.

Just south of Scott where I used to be with goats, horses, dogs, cats and all sorts of critters. Not my fault, had something to do with my X.

Kona, you might know something about this.

I am not even going to try to fix this tonight, I'm going to bed with the Woof. Maybe tomorrow. The last day or so has put me out of sorts.surprising that there is not muck news coverage around here, from KARK TV is about all I can get.

Update II

This funnel cloud Was located on Hwy 70 Between Lonoke and Carlisle

Link to one of the few stories I can find about Carlisle. In the AR Dixiecrap-Gazette, two days of three page articles about the storm have mentioned this town in only one small paragraph.

One reason I kind of like it here, this is my barber, he's also the Mayor.

Taken From My Porch Five Minutes Ago

by: Minstrel Boy

Great. Blue. Heron.

The wingspan on this guy has got to be six feet, easy. Stuff like this is what makes it easy for me to stay in my "fuck politics" mindset.

harp and sword

Coming This Fall. Just In Time?

by: Foiled Goil

Coming this fall? Just in time... the one you've been waiting for:

Just in time… for the elections?

Just in Time:
Homeland Security Rapid Response Team to be Ready by Fall

The fact that seven years after the attacks on the WTC and Pentagon, and some six years after the formation of the Department of Homeland Security, the department designed to protect us, is just now finalizing a so-called rapid response plan for a terrorist-driven catastrophe, to me, is disturbing. However, the fact that the aforementioned plan will be in place just in time for the 2008 presidential election, is downright ominous.
"No, I’m not putting forth a conspiracy theory here but if you really think about it, it’s not much of a stretch to admit that the timing is dubious to say the least. After billions upon billions of our taxpayer dollars have been spent hand over fist at the federal, state and local levels for years, are they telling us that that they don’t even have an effective plan in place for another national disaster right now? How can that be?

◊ ◊ ◊

"I would be remiss at this point not to point out that this elite national rapid response team would not even be possible if it wasn’t for the suspension of the Posse Comitatus Act by President Bush back in 2006, which paves the rocky road to martial law.

"Feeling reassured yet?"

· ·
02 May 2008

killed a lot of ants.

by: astraea

A bit ago I posted the blogs below related to prayer. Since today has been declared its national day, I thought it was good to share my 7 yr old son's full list of sins from his First Holy Confession, which -- by some small serendipity (honest!) -- I found cleaning out a shelf of teapots. (I don't go in for collecting things much, except for teapots. And things the kid's write and draw.) The list, verbatim:

1)Punch my sister.
2)lie about brushing my teeth.
3)want a nintendo*
4)say bad words
cool bad names
10)say I hate mysister.
11)tatle tale.
12)kill ALot of ants.
13)break a lamp
14)break a cup
15)yell a bad name
17)kick Ariel
1 cool blank

(Hey, he gave it his damnedest, dinne?)

That no. 3, --*want a nintendo--, really gets me. What a puritan I was, poor thing. He did get the thing, btw. I made him save up credits by reading books to buy it. Forgive me, Santa.

And here's the blogs:

I remember my kids in first grade, Catholic school, being asked to write a prayer, which was graded. Odd, it seemed, a teacher judging such an intimate thing between creator and created. And, yes, that cause and effect relationship my italicised words imply simply reflects the limits of human understanding. Time and space, requirements for action, after all, are properties of matter, and thinking about that will ultimately cross your eyes. So to grade the approaches of the humble mortal, most especially a small mortal, to the question of What Beats Our Heart seems impious to me. I would cut out the middlemen in the equation entirely, but that's just a general hands on tendency here. As Jung said (all things being equal ultimately, that 1st Law of Thermodynamics), any interaction changes all parties involved, transforms all the players.

At the same school, my oldest son made his first Communion, which also requires first Confession, a spotless white soul. He had to write it all out, his sins, with hesitant yet firm pencil on brown, blue-lined paper. And being a mother, I kept it. (Hell, I have their umbilical cord stumps. Some distant day, they might be cloned.) His first sin was saying bad words. Second, being mean to his sister. Third -- best of all, yet troubling -- was killed alotta ants.

I suppose my reaction tells me more about me than him... and maybe that's the whole reason for these exchanges, on all sides... the ritual, the robes, the bread, the wine. Hm.

Anyway -- THE BELOW. Whose nation? Whose prayer?

from JewsOnFirst

Christian Right group that controls National Day of Prayer
bars all but fundamentalist Christian clergy

A "Task Force" linked to Focus on the Family excludes Jews, Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists and even moderate evangelical Christians from participation in the thousands of events it organizes around the United States on the first Thursday in May -- May 1st this year. "Task Force" organizers must sign a fundamentalist statement of faith and a commitment to invite only Christians to participate, JewsOnFirst reports.

Nevertheless, last year the group obtained proclamations from every governor in the nation. This year, is encouraging our readers to get involved in exposing the group's discriminatory behavior. If you are interested, please reply by email or use the contact information in our report, which you can obtain here.

from the website...

from people of many faith traditions calling for an inclusive National Day of Prayer
The National Day of Prayer has been hijacked!

What began in 1952 as President Truman's declaration of a National Prayer Day for all Americans is now excluding and dividing us on religious lines. The "Task Force" excludes Jews, Muslims, Catholics and even mainline Christians from participation in the events it coordinates around the country. Many of those events are staged in government venues with elected officials, in a deliberate affront to the separation of church and state.
Our Inclusive National Prayer Day project aims to work with activists in as many states as possible to lobby governors to refrain from proclaiming or endorsing the National Day of Prayer in ways that enhance the Task Force's exclusive control of the day and its efforts to create the appearance of government-sponsored religious ceremonies.
In some cases this could be as simple as asking the governor to refrain from issuing a proclamation -- or to craft a proclamation that calls for inclusive events to mark the National Day of Prayer. We believe that once governors realize how narrow and exclusive the Task Force is, they will welcome requests from inclusive interfaith groups.
We have compiled talking points and documentation about the National Day of Prayer Task Force. Please
click here.

The call for an Inclusive National Day of Prayer is a project of

xposted the moon's favors & robot sex

Fun With War Crimes

by: Foiled Goil

From Brave New Films — Fun With War Crimes:

Episode 1"Heckuva Job!"

From the "I kid you not" department:

Citing the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution, President George W. Bush proclaimed May 1, 2008 as "Law Day, U.S.A."

That's a good one... It's almost funny, in a very dark kind of way.

Month 61 Since 'Mission Accomplished'
Progressives should never declare our mission accomplished until justice is delivered to those who lied us into this war. Justice for the 52 Americans who died last month, for the 4065 who have died since March 2003, for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have also died. Without justice, they truly will have died in vain.

A war founded and continued to this day on exaggerations, distortions, fabrications, concoctions and lies. A war which a smirking, strutting, absurdity of a president told us 60 months ago was Mission Accomplished.

· ·
01 May 2008

Go Figure

by: Debra

Baby boomers are leaving California because it's too expensive to retire here and Hispanics prefer Texas to California because it's too expensive to live here. Proving that other regions of the country don't have a lock on prejudice, the commenters want to blame the Hispanics for the state's financial woes. Oh, and the taxes that they have to pay. I remember the seventies and the taxes were higher. Of course we had good roads and even better schools. Hmm, do you suppose there's a connection?

While people are enamored with the Time 100 Most Influential People (Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Oprah, Peter Gabriel, Mia Farrow and Andrea Agassi are listed under Heroes and Pioneers, not entertainers. Weird.), Electronic House has its Home Of The Year and the runners up available for viewing. They look a little different from my castle. To say the least.

This is so not right. Seven tours to Afghanistan and Iraq, two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart but he's still dead. No Osama in return. No mission accomplished either in Iraq or Afghanistan and our military is so stretched we have to send our troops seven times in seven years. My condolences to Sgt. 1st Class David L. McDowell's family, may he rest in peace.

Considering the trillion dollars that have been wasted in Iraq, the six billion wasted on a stupid educational program that didn't work doesn't sound like much. Unless the goal is to turn teachers and students into unthinking automatons. Reading may be fundamental but math basics seem to escape this administration.


· ·

Low Budget

by: Debra

Yes, I like The Kinks, the way they get along reminds me of my own family. But with talent. And who doesn't understand lyrics that says things like
I'm on a low budget
I'm not cheap, you understand
I'm just a cut price person in a low budget land
Excuse my shoes they don't quite fit
They're a special offer and they hurt me a bit
Even my trousers are giving me pain
They were reduced in a sale so I shouldn't complain
They squeeze me so tight so I can't take no more
They're size 28 but I take 34


I'm shopping at Woolworth and low discount stores
I'm dropping my standards so that I can buy more
Quality costs, but quality wastes,
So I'm giving up all of my expensive tastes.
Caviar and champagne are definite nos,
I'm acquiring a taste for brown ale and cod roes