Sunday, September 30, 2007

No Comment

In case you have not seen this, I found it over at Crooks and Liars. No one distinguishes Limbaugh better than Limbaugh himself.

Idiocracy

Bill Clinton Questions Obama’s Experience
...he said that Senator Barack Obama had about as much experience as Mr. Clinton did in 1988 — the year Mr. Clinton decided not to run for the presidency.

“I was, in terms of experience, was closer to Senator Obama, I suppose, in 1988 when I came within a day of announcing,” Mr. Clinton said in a interview on “Political Capital with Al Hunt” that was scheduled to be broadcast tonight on Bloomberg television and again this weekend.

Mr. Clinton did not run that year, he added, because “I really didn’t think I knew enough, and had served enough and done enough to run.”

Bill Clinton adding his ill advised wisdom to the inevitable collapse of the Democrats' chances in 2008.

Bill, take a cold shower.

Just an Itty Bitty Mistake

Thousands upon thousands maybe even as many as a million killed, millions exiled, the complete disintegration of a society, the blatant lusting after taxpayers billions and billions of dollars by unscrupulous and corrupt profiteers, and all of it based upon the utter lies of a megalomaniac and his looney neocon screwballs. And what does the main stream media characterize it as, "a mistake."

Katie Couric weighs in on Iraq, Rather
“Everyone in this room would agree that people in this country were misled in terms of the rationale of this war,” said Couric, adding that it is “pretty much accepted” that the war in Iraq was a mistake.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Continued Disgrace

Bush continues in his quest to dismantle the United States and to make certain that no non billionaire individual will benefit directly from the government.

Bush vows to veto insurance expansion
President Bush insisted to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Friday that he's going ahead with his promised veto of a major expansion of a children's health program despite its overwhelming approval by Congress.

Nope, can't increase funding for kids' healthcare but we can sure waste money on a war started with Bush's intentional lies, and waste it for years to come.

Ultra Extreme Right

Cheney heads to Utah for a private speech on Friday
Vice President Dick Cheney will speak to a super-secret, conservative policy group in Utah on Friday during his second trip to the state this year.
Cheney will address the fall meeting of the Council for National Policy, a group whose self-described mission is to promote "a free-enterprise system, a strong national defense and support for traditional Western values."
The organization -- made up of few hundred powerful conservative activists -- holds confidential meetings and members are advised not to use the name of the group in communications...
Glad to see that our Vice President is a real worker for the common good of the land and fully embraces a bi-partisan multicultural perspective.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Buddha's Lost Children

Excellent film!

Buddha's Lost Children

A real documentary - Thai kick boxer turns Monk, opens orphanage and gives some of Thailand's malnourished, poor, and thrown away boys, a new life. Very uplifting and genuine.

Head Shaking Fodder

Saddam asked Bush for $1bn to go into exile

Saddam Hussein offered to step down and go into exile one month before the invasion of Iraq, it was claimed last night.

Fearing defeat, Saddam was prepared to go peacefully in return for £500million ($1billion).

Who can even possibly comment on this. Where does one start?

Burma



US Campaign for Burma

OK this is getting personal. When they start killing and arresting Buddhists monks, the world is speeding to hell in a handbasket.

China is involved and we all know how horribly the Chinese regard Buddhist monks. At this point and partly thanks to our own fearless leader, Tibetan monks can be regarded as terrorists in Tibet.

Guaranteed things are out of control in Burma, far worse than is reported.

Peace Gathering for BURMA

Please join us on Sunday, September 30th for a gathering at the New England Peace Pagoda in Leverett, MA.

We will be circumambulating the Pagoda for peace from 12:00 p.m. until 4 p.m.

At 2 p.m. we will pause for a prayer for peace in Burma led by the Nipponzan Myohoji monks of the Peace Pagoda.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

STFU

Turns out that Blackwater is not at liberty to reveal information about their doings in Iraq.

A code of silence is built into their contract with the government.

Here's the salient part of the reminder to "be still and quiet" regarding the recent shooting deaths of 20 Iraqis (and however many were wounded). Read it for yourself.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Shooting Star

video

Bait


US forces 'lure Iraqis with bait'

US Army snipers in Iraq are ordered to "bait" areas with explosives and ammunition and then kill whoever picks them up, according to court documents.

"If someone found the item, picked it up and attempted to leave with the item, we would engage the individual as I saw this as a sign they would use the item against US Forces."

One wonders what the accepted appearance of the "bait" taker is. For example only those between 13 years old and 65 years old, or perhaps only males, no amputees only the able-bodied.

Hopefully the standard will remain at the immaculate threshold of picking up the "bait" as opposed to simply noticing the "bait" or walking within a mile range of the "bait", or tripping over the "bait."

One could never accuse the Bush administration of morally under-reaching.

Order 17


This from a weekly 'The Nation' update, explaining the order issued by proconsul (very strange title) Paul Bremer right before he high tailed it out of Baghdad. This goes directly to the issue of Blackwater killing 20 Iraqis in an alleged unprovoked confrontation.

On the eve of his departure as proconsul in Baghdad Paul Bremer issued a remarkable document that went by the name of Order 17 and that, in the US mainstream media, is still often referred to as "the law" in Iraq.

... Order 17 essentially granted to every foreigner in the country connected to the occupation the full freedom of the land, not to be interfered with in any way by Iraqis or any Iraqi political or legal institution. Foreigners--unless, of course, they were jihadis or Iranians--were to be "immune from any form of arrest or detention other than by persons acting on behalf of their Sending States," even though American and coalition forces were to be allowed the freedom to arrest and detain in prisons and detention camps of their own any Iraqis they designated worthy of that honor.

Order 17 and the Blackwater mercenaries who are taking full advantage of it raises, as John Nichols argues in The Online Beat, the fundamental question of who runs Iraq.

Something about Order 17 reeks of the situation told in the movie 'Braveheart.'

King Edward grants the noblemen of Scotland the right to have first sex with the wife from the newly married. Its a form of extreme repression of the people and a way to maintain control and dominance. Also it a way to simply abuse the people in any way you see fit. In my opinion the Iraqis have it worse than the folks from 13th century Scotland.

Iraqi Blogs


From the BBC: Iraqi bloggers at home and abroad

"I remember Baghdad before the war - one could live anywhere. We didn't know what our neighbours were. We didn't care. No-one asked about religion or sect. No-one bothered with what was considered a trivial topic: are you Sunni or Shia? You only asked something like that if you were uncouth and backward."

"Our lives revolve around it now. Our existence depends on hiding it or highlighting it - depending on the group of masked men who stop you or raid your home in the middle of the night."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Unreal

Watch Out

Podhoretz secretly urged Bush to bomb Iran

Is Guiliani, all that bad. If you take a look at who is advising him on foreign policy, you will see that it is neocon stalwart Norman Podhoretz.

The term neocon alone should stop any attuned politically minded person in their tracks.

If one were to simply examine the PNAC document, "Rebuilding America's Defenses", and directly link it to Podhoretz then a Guiliani presidency would consist of the same all war all the time "foreign policy" that the Bush neocon presidency dispenses.

Expect to hear fear mongering as the basic political ploy of the Guiliani campaign.

No less a figure than Rush Limbaugh said on Wednesday, during his radio show, that Podhoretz’s most recent book is “a no-holds-barred, brilliant explanation of just what we face around the world, not just here in our country.”

He is a senior foreign policy adviser to Republican front-runner Rudy Giuliani. He participates in weekly conference calls with the campaign and says he is in constant contact via e-mail with the foreign policy team.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Yes But...

The charge that Blackwater opened unprovoked fire on Iraqis is being supported by a video tape: Iraq: Video Shows Blackwater Overreacted

In the supporting ABC article comes this paragraph:
There are 20,000 to 30,000 private security contractors in Iraq guarding the U.S. embassy and other civilian agencies....
Compare this to the testimony of Jeremy Scahill on May 10 before the House Appropriations Subcommitte on Defense: Outsourcing the War
While tens of thousands of these contractors provide logistical support, thousands are heavily armed private soldiers roaming Iraq. We do know that there are some 48,000 employees of private military companies in Iraq alone.

Many Americans are under the impression that the US currently has about 145,000 active duty troops on the ground in Iraq. What is seldom mentioned is the fact that there are at least 126,000 private personnel deployed alongside the official armed forces. These private forces effectively double the size of the occupation force, largely without the knowledge of the US taxpayers that foot the bill.
Why would a main stream media powerhouse like ABC report that there are 20,000 to 30,000 private security workers in Iraq while the present investigative expert says before the Senate that there are 126,000 private personnel of which 48,000 employees are of private military companies.

Why would they under report the number.

The Neo-Con Fundamentalist Republican Party


As the Republican Party adapts to its new base, which is the heady mix of Christian fundamentalists and neo-con sympathizers, a noticeable difference between the makeup of the two parties emerges. Gone are the days of the moderate Republican. The party is about as far right as right can go. Think complete loss of personal freedoms including freedom of speech, freedom to assemble, freedom of religion, the right to habeus corpus etc etc, the present and future Republican Party has complete contempt for these constitutionally provided freedoms. Moderate Republicans where are you?

Many people talk about the one party system that simply has two bodies. There are differences and one can clearly see that the base of the Democratic Party is not exclusively fundamentalists and neo-cons.

If Hillary Clinton becomes the Democratic presidential candidate in 08, I personally may not vote for her, instead I might seek out a 3rd party candidate. I do see her as infinitely better than Guiliani. Guiliani is a terrifying prospect on the American stage, think George Bush with a NYC accent.

The news still reports on a movement away from the ultra-right and back to a more level headed political atmosphere.

Independent voters tilt toward Democrats

...From coast to coast, independent voters tilt tellingly toward Democrats in their opposition to the Iraq war, their displeasure with Bush and their feeling that the country is moving in the wrong direction, according to data from recent Associated Press-Ipsos polls.

That could be decisive in next year's contests for the White House and Congress, starting with the crucial early presidential primaries in New Hampshire.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Ginsberg and Paul McCartney

Without YouTube, who would even know of such collaborations.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Olbermann On Bush and Paetreus

Keith Olbermann On Bush and Paetreus
This is a must watch. The clip is on the bottom of the linked page.

Bush Democracy

Blackwater has resumed convoys in Iraq, even though the Iraqi government has found that the recent shooting of Iraqis by Blackwater agents was an unprovoked situation. The Iraqis want Blackwater out.

Guards’ Shots Not Provoked, Iraq Concludes

" Iraq’s Ministry of Interior has concluded that employees of a private American security firm fired an unprovoked barrage in the shooting last Sunday in which at least eight Iraqis were killed and is proposing a radical reshaping of the way American diplomats and contractors here are protected."

What is important to note is that no credibility or authority in the matter is actually ascribed to or permitted of the Iraqi government. From the point of view of the American government, Blackwater must resume its role in Iraq.

Privately, those officials have warned against drawing conclusions before American investigators have finished interviewing the Blackwater guards. In the Interior Ministry account — made available to The New York Times on Thursday — Iraqi investigators interviewed many witnesses but relied on the testimony of the people they considered to be the four most credible.

Let's call it the way it actually is - the Iraqis can outlaw Blackwater all day long and until they are blue in the face, however if the US wants Blackwater to work in Iraq, Blackwater will work in Iraq.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Kudos to Bowie

Rocker Donates to Jena 6 Defense Fund

David Bowie has donated $10,000 to a legal defense fund for six black teens charged in an alleged attack on a white classmate in the tiny central Louisiana town of Jena.

What Hypocrisy?


At this point we know that the neo-conservatives under the guise of the Project for a New American Century and other neo con think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, and the American Enterprise Institute bundled up the Iraq War well in advance of 9-11.

We also know that the neo con bundle was thick. It includes economic shock programs for Iraq, pumping up the military contractors ie hardware manufacturers and mercenaries like Blackwater, and taking over the world's oil resources a good portion conveniently found under Iraq's land mass.

No expense was spared to sell this war to the American people, all lies were and are on the table.

It is remarkable that a significant part of the American people believe that Iraq is the focal point of an Islamo Fascist (sic) confrontation with Christian fundamentalism. These same Bush stalwart believers are also in the dark about the neo-cons. They are simply part of some elusive process. The neo-cons invented the war, and then proceeded to sell it to America as a confrontation of religions. Could there have been a dirtier deception?

In direct opposition to this belief held by the Bushies, are the actions of large corporations. In particular Halliburton has moved its world headquarters to Dubai in the U.A.E. The U.A.E. also happens to be the largest trading partner of Iran. Halliburton is also the alma mater of Dick Cheney, president and CEO of Halliburton in the late 90s.

Halliburton of course is a big Republican contributor and their no bid contracts in Iraq are massive and frequently under investigation.

The irony is that the Bushies do not make any link between the Republican based Halliburton, its move to Dubai, Dubai's dealing with Iran, and the utter hypocrisy of using terms like Islamo Fascism.

Now we read that yet another Republican Conservative corporation Carlyle is selling a minority stake to the U.A. E. (United Arab Emerites.)

Now can you please explain to me why the right wing hate radio with its calls against Islamo Fascism, are not all over this move by Carlyle? What does it take for these bright lights to put one plus one together? How can they even utter a term like Islamo Fascism while at the same time Republican based corporations are now intricately linked within, dare we say it, Arab countries.

Carlyle to Sell Minority Stake to Abu Dhabi

The Carlyle Group has agreed to sell a minority stake to the Abu Dhabi government in a transaction that values the Washington-based private equity giant at nearly $20 billion.

Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates, an oil-rich region that has been actively investing abroad. On Thursday, the government-controlled stock exchange in Dubai, also part of the U.A.E., agreed to buy a large stake in the Nasdaq stock exchange in New York and the London Stock Exchange.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

No Habeus For You


The move to bring back the right of habeus corpus in respect to the enemy combatant has failed.

Senate Blocks Detainees’ Rights Bill

The legal concept of habeas corpus (“You have the body” in Latin) dates back to medieval England, and is meant to protect people from being locked up indefinitely without a court review. Last year, Congress passed and President Bush signed an act eliminating the right of habeas corpus for non-Americans who are labeled “enemy combatants” in the continuing campaign against terrorism.

Without a doubt this is a significantly ugly situation. If there are any core American values this is one.

Lieberman along with only Republican senators voted against habeus corpus. The Republican Party has the reputation of diminishing democratic principles, no matter how you parse it, this is the case.

At present the Congress and Senate seem content with an authoritarian ruler and the American people are complacently unaware and disinterested.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

More Iraq Coverup


Is it possible to list all the information that falls into Iraq War deception and scandal? And how come right wing hate radio and pundits stay completely clear of these revelations? Ron Paul says it most succinctly, if the country is going wrong, then you fix it, you don't blindly follow the blind.

State Dept. Official Accused of Blocking Iraq Fraud Inquiry

Modular Green House

This seems to be very cool. A modular green 500sq ft house with many usage possibilities.

Video: Modular and green, the PowerPod seeks a home

Swedish Synth House Meets Fundamentalism

Having trouble embedding youtube lately so:

Familjen - Det snurrar i min skalle

I think its "the spinning in my skull." Perhaps its, "My skull is spinning?" A little help here...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Shock Doctrine

Listening to Democracy Now with Naomi Klein on Monday morning was a revelation.

Klein's new film is stunning and intensely disturbing. It goes through the connections between the torture of Iraqis and the total intentional destruction of societies on all levels in order to implement economic changes that generally favor the rich and to install totalitarian measures that remove democratic rights.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Love

Take another look at this Beatles clip.

The arrangement is unique from the point of view of a standard hit tune: bongos, claves (who played the claves?), steel string acoustic guitar, nylon string classical guitar, and electric bass. This is very unusual and unorthodox.

This mix is outstanding in that you can clearly hear the classical guitar work. Here George Harrison is plucking the classical guitar with a pick, usually it would be played finger style, apoyando and free stroke.

McCartney wrote the song with fine skill - Fm to Cm as he sings the verse, then as the chorus arrives - "and I love her" - the chords change to the relative Major. George takes a great solo as the entire song lifts a half step in key, and Paul finishes the song in that slightly higher new key.

The Beatles used a vast range of influences in constructing their songs. This one is Beatles go Spanish.

Exit Stage Fringe Right

As Gonzales heads off into the sunset, we stroll down memory-less lane.

"After weeks of mock testimony, there you have it. Alberto Gonzales doesn't know what happened, but he assures you, what he doesn't remember was handled properly." --Jon Stewart

"It's so hard to follow. That is exactly why the president was so impressed. ... Legally, Gonzales had to appear before Congress, so his choice was either to expose the administration's political machinations, or appear to be a functioning pinhead. He went with pinhead. And if I may say ... nailed it" --Daily Show correspondent John Oliver, on Alberto Gonzales' Senate testimony

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Internet Policing

It appears that readers of Truthout news letters are not getting their emails. AOL/Microsoft is the company that has determined what Truthout subscribers cannot read.

This is an outrage.

We can't sit back and let corporations take over the internet.

Bush is all about turning the publicly held common property of the American people over to the hands of corporations. Privatization is Bush's lifeblood. This is scary.

Complain, write, scream, and protest this outrage. This is hardly a partisan issue.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Stupidity Prerogative

Never underestimate the great American willingness to be swindled by the latest and greatest snake oil salesman.

Public Gives Bush Slight Reprieve

U.S. War Dissatisfaction Eases a Bit, But Opinion Favors Democrats

Public discontent with the Iraq war has eased slightly...

Somebody's been watching Fox News again. Tsk, tsk tsk.

You Like?



Patraeus is interested in the US Presidency.

President Petraeus? Iraqi official recalls the day US general revealed ambition

"I asked him if he was planning to run in 2008 and he said, 'No, that would be too soon'," Mr Khadim, who now lives in London, said.

General Petraeus has a reputation in the US Army for being a man of great ambition. If he succeeds in reversing America's apparent failure in Iraq, he would be a natural candidate for the White House in the presidential election in 2012.

Turns out his recent grueling sessions with the Congress and Senate were much more than recycled Bushisms related to Iraq. He was auditioning for the American people.

Is America going to vote him back or is it the boot.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

77 Drummers

Fun time

I had a hard time embedding this clip, but I encourage you to check this out. 77 Drummers performing as a unit in NYC.

77 Drummers

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Absurdity


The reports from the alternate media are in direct opposition to the things that Patraeus talks about. From the Patraeus/Bush point of view the dead baby is a bright sign because this time the dead baby is not mutilated. The convenient lie and the PR spin are in full bloom, yet the brutality is self evident.

Part of the reason why there is a downward turn in violence in areas of Iraq is because those areas have been ethnically cleansed. Also it is said that somewhere in the neighborhood of six million people are now Iraqi refugees, those who have left the country completely and those who have been forced to resettle according to religious affiliation. If nobody is in a region, yes its going to be quiet.

This is not something to celebrate as if it were some kind of trend brought about through good American policy. It is just the opposite it is a tragedy brought about by disastrous American policy. Is the pail of rotting garbage, half full or half empty?

So after all this Patraeus wants another Friedman Unit, an F.U, six more months. Once again we will witness the re-return of the pathetic because the Iraq occupation isn't going anywhere, especially home.

Constantly Risking Absurdity

Constantly risking absurdity
and death
whenever he performs
above the heads
of his audience
the poet like an acrobat
climbs on rime
to a high wire of his own making
and balancing on eyebeams
above a sea of faces
paces his way
to the other side of the day
performing entrachats
and sleight-of-foot tricks
and other high theatrics
and all without mistaking
any thing
for what it may not be
For he's the super realist
who must perforce perceive
taut truth
before the taking of each stance or step
in his supposed advance
toward that still higher perch
where Beauty stands and waits
with gravity
to start her death-defying leap
And he
a little charleychaplin man
who may or may not catch
her fair eternal form
spreadeagled in the empty air
of existence

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Federalism

As Petraeus speaks, the term Federalism is invoked in reference to a future political entity for Iraq.

From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Federalism is the theory or advocacy of federal political orders, where final authority is divided between sub-units and a center. Unlike a unitary state, sovereignty is constitutionally split between at least two territorial levels so that units at each level have final authority and can act independently of the others in some area. Citizens thus have political obligations to two authorities. The allocation of authority between the sub-unit and center may vary, typically the center has powers regarding defense and foreign policy, but sub-units may also have international roles. The sub-units may also participate in central decision-making bodies. Much recent philosophical attention is spurred by renewed political interest in federalism, coupled with empirical findings concerning the requisite and legitimate basis for stability and trust among citizens in federations. Philosophical contributions have addressed the dilemmas and opportunities facing Canada, Australia and Europe, to mention just a few areas where federal arrangements are seen as interesting solutions to accommodating differences among populations divided by ethnic or cultural cleavages yet seeking a common political order.

Patraeus paints a nice picture of Iraq. All that I read states the opposite. The violence and disassembling continues. I give credit to Patreus based on his disciplined and steady manner in giving testimony and answering questions for 6 hours, that's a feat in itelf. Clearly he is a steady individual. Why is it that his testimony was supported by Republicans and rejected by Democrats?

Perhaps when he stated that troop levels could be reduced by the Summer of 2008, he might have added, "just in time for the presidential elections ."

The Convenient Lie

We continue to follow the policy moves of the Bush administration in Iraq.

We learned that following shock and awe that there was no real plan for getting Iraq back into the functioning semblance of a country. There was no plan for how to deal with the Iraq military except to fire them all, all the Iraqi troops, and consequently create the insurgency.

The blunders in handling Iraq are politely called mismanagement problems. Bush always gets the benefit of the doubt in spite of the continuous string of failures that he has produced. This is the role of the main stream media. Bush lost all credibility when weapons of mass destruction were not found in Iraq, supposedly the reason for going into Iraq in the first place.

Those who support the war fall into three categories.

The first group are those that watch Fox News and refuse to be challenged by anything that conflicts with a presumed outcome. If these people watched no news they would be better informed.

The second group are the neo-cons. A few neo-cons have jumped ship. These people were the main reason why the whole mess began. The neo-cons created then forced this policy onto the country.

The third group of Iraq war supporters are the partisan Republican politicians who would support Bush no matter what he did or does. Loyalty is the hall mark of the Republican Party. When does the entire health and welfare of a nation override the loyalties of the Republican?

Those who want the US out of Iraq are virtually the entire world population; the majority of the American people, the majority of the Iraqis themselves, and the majority of the remaining world population.

So many convenient lies have been told by the Bush administration surrounding this war that the sickle needed to cut down those weeds is massive. Al Qaeda entered Iraq after Shock and Awe, they represent less than 10% of the insurgency, yet Bush has no trouble bringing this up as if it were the entire matter and consistently links this to 9-11.

The lie that Saddam was responsible for 9-11 continues to be trumpeted by the White House and its subordinate news outlets particularly Fox News.

By all accounts the surge has not helped anything. There is no remaining centralized government in Iraq. It is a sham. In this light what is victory? Bush cannot say what victory is, yet the term is bandied about as if his Iraq blunder was Europe during World War II.

Iraq will disassemble into a group of provinces, separated by religious affiliation. There will not be a centralized government in any near or distant near future. American troops will continue to die and be wounded in great numbers, and for what purpose?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Surge is a Failure

Joe Biden just back from Iraq

Key Points:

- Disconnect in Washington DC, Bush policy is a failure
- Surge has not stopped sectarian violence
- Nowhere near being able to stand down as the Iraqis standup
- No real security whatsoever
- No possibility of a centralized Iraqi government
- Patraeus is dead wrong
- Only way to deal with sectarian violence is with local control


Sunday, September 09, 2007

Rob Riemen on Kitsch


I discovered Rob Riemen when the local radio station played a recording of one of his lectures.

This is a very bright man. One aspect of his lecture is about gaining perspective on the societal and cultural strains in America and Europe. He is a cultural critic of sorts but more so. In this context, culture includes entertainment, politics, religion, interpersonal relationships, in short the whole thing.

So much of what we hear is about what is going wrong. How society is crumbling. This type of lecture is normal. We seem to need intellectuals to help verify what we experience and witness.

Riemen does this as well but he also provides some models for the betterment, for the higher values, for what is possible and life gaining.

A few excerpts from one of his lectures. Here is the link to the complete talk.

...In a recent research in the United States it is stated that no real friendship is any longer possible because the intrinsic value of friendship no longer exist. It’s all about mutual interest. As long as we have our mutual interest, we are great friends. If something happened to this mutual interest, friendship will be gone.

...Their idea of being the best has nothing to do, whatsoever, with Socrates’ ideal of the highest values on truth, beauty, and good. But it is replaced by essentially the total meaningless success, because money is without meaning. To become the apprentice of Mr. Trump, you have to become as kitschy as him. If have had any personality left, you have to get it out of your system and become like Mr. Kitsch.

Politics used to be the discussion on, what is the good society. This is the discussion of your founding fathers, the federalist papers. At the very moment that kitsch takes over, you get the politics of useful lies. It’s all about useful lies. Read your newspapers and you can read a lot about useful lies.

In short, kitsch is the great reducer of everything: Truth will be reduced to facts, love will be reduced to satisfaction, beauty will be deprived of truth, knowledge will be reduced to information. You get this empty meaningless society, which is so much a cultivation of death.

...the essence of life is everything that gives life: truth, goodness, beauty, but also mercy, forgiveness, love, friendship, wisdom, and true art. All these acts give life; have the capacity of life-giving.

...strive for a lifelong commitment to what is truthful, to what is meaningful, to what is life-giving. Because this is the only way to step out of a kitsch culture and turn into a society in which, we are refocused on what truly and really matters.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

James Brown and Pavarotti

Not War



Politicians are like diapers. They both need changing regularly and for the same reason. ~Author Unknown

When we start to uncover the shrouded mess that is the American political reality, its easy to lose our sense of humor.

Liberals and progressives need to party more, get wild, go nuts, and live with distinction, occasionally even laugh.

I ran into some like minded friends in town and immediately the conversation goes to the degree of danger American democracy (sic) is in and the degree to which the world that we know is in a fragile and dangerous place. The atmosphere was thick with frustration.

Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy. ~Ernest Benn

You can live as a frustrated angry individual, that is all too easy. Its far more interesting to be politically astute and to cultivate humor and friendliness even happiness.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Paul

This guy is a Republican, hell is freezing over.

Suicide and Youth

This is a national tragedy - American girls' suicide rates spike

The suicide rate among preteen and teenage girls rose to its highest level in 15 years, and hanging surpassed guns as the preferred method, federal health officials reported Thursday.


Teen Suicide

If you look around a class of 25 students, at least five are likely to have seriously considered suicide, and at least two are likely to have tried to kill themselves in the past year.

If you are worried about a friend…

Ask directly if he or she is considering suicide. Ask whether he or she has made a specific plan and has done anything to carry it out. Listen openly to your friend, tell your friend that you care deeply, and that no matter how overwhelming his or her problems seem, help is available.

Then, help your friend to find someone trained to help, such as a doctor, community health center, counselor, psychologist, social worker, youth worker, or minister. Numbers for suicide hotlines and crisis centers should be available in your local phone book or call 1-800-SUICIDE.

If your friend has a detailed plan or appears acutely suicidal and will not talk, he or she could be in immediate danger and it is important to get help right away. Do not leave your friend alone, and seek help immediately, taking your friend to a hospital emergency room if necessary.

Even if it will anger your friend, talk with an adult you trust about your friend's situation so that you aren't carrying the burden by yourself. Do not try to "rescue" your friend or be a hero and try to handle the situation on your own. You can be the most help by referring your friend to someone with the professional skills to provide the help that he or she needs, while you continue to offer support.

More Bushco Smoke - Its Really Nobody's Fault


Paul Bremer III's recent op ed in the NYT - How I Didn’t Dismantle Iraq’s Army - explains his reasons for dismantling the Iraqi Army with the fall of Baghdad following Shock and Awe. Long story short, it wasn't his idea.

I encourage all to read his explanations.

What you will not see in his article is this simple and glaring set of facts. You will see nothing about this:

Take 500,000 previously employed people and then take away their jobs. Their jobs happen to be military personnel and they happen to have weapons and they can use them with precision and skill.

Now take those now unemployed 500,000 military people, start shooting up their families at check points, watch them lose their ability to provide the basic necessities for their families and themselves, erode their self worth, throw them into prisons and torture them, etc etc etc and you know what, you've got a huge insurgency.

Bremer seems to have forgotten all of this. His article is a smokescreen.

Tortured Foods

Briefly getting away from the torture of enemy combatants and other predominantly Muslim prisoners by the Bush administration enforcers theme, there is the issue of corporate control and the plethora of ways that corporate economic dominance has created multiple problems for people and the environment.

In this context, for me there are only two food groups; corporate food and organic food. There is no need to go any further.

Corporate food is mostly dead. There is very little to no life in corporate food. This is because it is food that is overly processed and preserved. Some of it is also radiated and some is genetically modified. Some is genetically modified, processed, and preserved. How's your appetite doing?

Genetic modification is accomplished primarily to enable agribusiness to farm without the 'hindrance' of insects. Less effort in combating the bugs equals more profit for the economically modified neo-billionaire.

Just a long shot guess here, but I'll wager those who consume genetically modified foods will also develop an as yet identified series of illnesses and health related physical problems. There's always room for more diseases in a society or world that is fundamentally out of balance. A few people will consume this stuff and do fine. Those same people will thrive in a corporate atmosphere while the rest of us wonder - how do they do that.

This rant comes as a result of seeing this BBC article: Additives 'cause bad behaviour'

Cocktails of food additives in children's diets may be responsible for hyperactive behaviour, say researchers.

A Food Standards Agency study on 300 randomly selected children found hyperactivity rose after a drink containing additive combinations.

Sunset yellow (E110) - Colouring found in squashes
Carmoisine (E122) - Red colouring in jellies
Tartrazine (E102) - New colouring in lollies, fizzy drinks
Ponceau 4R (E124) - Red colouring
Sodium benzoate (E211) - Preservative
Quinoline yellow (E110) - Food colouring
Allura red AC (E129) - Orange / red food dye

Seems to me that this is old news. But apparently many have not heard it the first few thousands of times it was elucidated over the past 30 to 40 years.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Interpreting Torture

Here is a document that needs to be parsed, as thoroughly as possible. How can the legal team of the Bush administration take article 3 of the Geneva Conventions and turn it into a model for torture.

From the White House itself - Executive Order: Interpretation of the Geneva Conventions Common Article 3 as Applied to a Program of Detention and Interrogation Operated by the Central Intelligence Agency

(b) The Military Commissions Act defines certain prohibitions of Common Article 3 for United States law, and it reaffirms and reinforces the authority of the President to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions.

"Interpret", this appears to be the word which gives wiggle room and then allows for the introduction of "safe practices." Recall that the APA (American Psychological Association) unlike the AMA and the Psychiatrists, has NOT issued an all out ban on having its members participate in the interrogation of prisoners. This is thought to be the main reason why Bush believes he can interpret and then introduce torture. You can call it a "safe practice" but its torture.

(b) I hereby determine that a program of detention and interrogation approved by the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency fully complies with the obligations of the United States under Common Article 3, provided that:

At this point any determination of Bush is suspect. In this administration reality and "policy" are distant strangers.

(i) the conditions of confinement and interrogation practices of the program do not include:

Whenever you are looking for a complete list of what someone is up to, the words "do not include" should raise the alarm. Certainly it is good to mention what it does not include but the issue is about what it does include.

(iii) the interrogation practices are determined by the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, based upon professional advice, to be safe for use with each detainee with whom they are used; and...

Here again it is the term "safe" which is sticky. Again it is the participation of the psychologist in the interrogation that legitimizes the president calling this safe.

Excellent Democracy Now on Wednesday which included Anthony Romero Head of the ACLU speaking with Amy on civil liberties in an age of torture. The transcript is here.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Bottoming Out

Gee I wonder how we can expalin this:

Bush Success Rating at Historic Low

President Bush's success rating in the Democratic-controlled House has fallen this year to a half-century low, and he prevailed on only 14 percent of the 76 roll call votes on which he took a clear position.

Hmm could it be because he's utterly and hopelessly out of touch with the people of the United States and utterly and completely in the pockets of corporations. Just a wild guess.

Article 3

In studying how the Bush Administration has allowed for torture, we can start by examining the model used by the rest of the world.

Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions relative to the treatment of prisoners of war:

In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

(1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed ' hors de combat ' by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.
To this end, the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) taking of hostages;

(c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

(2) The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.

An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict.
The Parties to the conflict should further endeavour to bring into force, by means of special agreements, all or part of the other provisions of the present Convention.
The application of the preceding provisions shall not affect the legal status of the Parties to the conflict.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Orwellian Freedom


There is a Washington Post article on the new book by journalist Robert Draper, "Dead Certain: The Presidency of George Bush." It is the first biography of the George Bush Presidency.

Book Tells Of Dissent In Bush's Inner Circle - White House Granted Author Unusual Access

There were many parts to this article that are deserving of examination and obvious questioning. I found this particular revelation to be somewhat problematic:

Bush considered whether to cooperate with the book for several months, Draper reports. The two men met for the first time on Dec. 12, 2006, and at the conclusion, the president agreed to another interview. In one of the interviews, he looked ahead to his post-presidency,TALKING OF HIS PLANS TO BUILD AN INSTITUTE FOCUSED ON FREEDOM and to "replenish the ol' coffers" by giving paid speeches.

Can you imagine a Bush institute focused on freedom. One can only surmise that that he is talking about ways of eliminating freedom. The Patriot Act, Military Commissions Act, the reintroduction of torture, and the pre-emptive and elective invasion of countries accompanied with no plan on how to rebuild the demolished country all point to the distinct elimination of freedom.

Bush has enabled the elimination of Habeus Corpus. He can determine based on his own incurious wealth of "knowledge" who is an enemy combatant and then proceed to throw that person into some hell hole for the rest of their lives without the prisoner even knowing why he or she is imprisoned.

Surely our president is joking with his biographer and is using this instant as a way of revealing his own personal style of humor.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Must See Movie

We saw "No End In Sight" over the weekend. The movie makes our worst suspicions of the Bush administration and their pre-emptive war seem like naivete.

The politically correct talking head point is to say that the war against Iraq was mismanaged. That is the mildest form of stating the reality of the situation.

Simply stated, George Bush and his neo-con cadre redefined inept. There was no post war plan -

Maj. Gen. Tim Cross, the most senior British officer involved in the postwar planning, said..."Right from the very beginning we were all very concerned about the lack of detail that had gone into the postwar plan and there is no doubt that Rumsfeld was at the heart of that process..."

Retired Gen. Sir Mike Jackson also singled out Rumsfeld for criticism, saying his approach to the invasion was "intellectually bankrupt," according to quotes excerpted from his autobiography and published by The Daily Telegraph Saturday. Source

There was no understanding of history particularly in relation to what would happen when Iraq's 500,000 strong military were fired. There was nothing but error upon error upon error in stumbling into what is kindly called policy. So arrogant and presumptuous in their ideology are and were Bush and the neo-cons that reality never got in the way one iota. They created the Iraq occupation on fantasy and the result continues to be monumental suffering.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Twist

At one point in my life I worked with people that had various disabilities. We were taught to always think in these terms, first say 'people', then say 'with disabilities.' The order was very important,

Its a matter of establishing the commonality between all people and then stating a handicap.

Saying disabled person is a negative set up. This was not politically correct.

In this light, I take exception to this story: Homeless Credited With Saving Woman, 93, From Burning Car

"Three homeless people who pulled a 93-year-old woman from her burning car Thursday are being credited as heroes."

I believe there is an implication in the wording of this article that is less than elegant.

The implication is that someone who is presently homeless is not capable of acting like a decent and reasonable human being. Gee, what a shocker. Turns out he or she is a human being, after all.

Mass Murderer


Paul Craig Roberts recent article compared Bush to one of the world's worst mass murders. The article was originally posted on AntiWar.com.

Its important that an article written by someone who was a close advisor to President Reagan, who is also highly critical of President Bush, be spread around the community as widely as possible. This is an accusation that is intense and deep, and Roberts' accusation needs to be understood.

"Bush has discarded habeas corpus and the Geneva Conventions, justified torture and secret trials, damned critics as anti-American, and is responsible, according to Information Clearing House, for over one million deaths of Iraqi civilians, which puts Bush high on the list of mass murderers of all time. The vast majority of "kills" by the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan are civilians." Source

This is quite a charge. He is comparing Bush to the all time mass murderers of human history. This list would include Hitler, PolPot, and Stalin.

September is the month when the US is to become convinced that Bush has a plan for Iraq that is working. However, there are a slew of articles out that conclude the surge is a spectacular failure.

Facts are important. In matters of war, human life is the most important thing. If there is a purpose to war, and many would say that there is no purpose, that purpose would be to somehow or other improve the overall situation for someone.

It might improve the situation for a power hungry ruler who wishes to control more territory. It might improve the situation for corporations that stand to gain huge profits through manufacturing the products used in war. I suspect that the 'just' war is supposed to improve the overall situation for a large segment of the population.

The facts out of Iraq are not good.

More Than 1,800 Iraqis Killed in August

At least 1,809 civilians were killed, compared to 1,760 in July, based on figures compiled from official Iraqi reports.

The August total included 520 people killed in quadruple suicide bombings near the Syrian border on Aug. 14, the deadliest day since the war began in March 2003. The attacks targeted Yazidis, a small Kurdish-speaking sect whose members are considered to be blasphemers by Muslim extremists.

In this light, how can Bush say that his plan is producing good results?

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Atta Boy

Craig will resign on Saturday. Makes sense. Saturday is a low level news day and its a three day weekend to boot. People are out doing their summer thing and nobody's paying much attention. Actually nobody pays much attention any day.

You have to wonder who the person is that gives Craig the call that says - "Son you were good for us, and we appreciate all the things you did. But now, now its time to retire. Now don't you go off thinking you're not going to get a little something for all your effort. Make it Saturday, short and sweet. Atta Boy."

Craig to resign on Saturday

Banned Cartoons

From 2007 hopefully we gain in perspective:

For Craig From Homer