Saturday, June 11, 2005

See Ya'

I'm going to be out of town for a few days. I'll catch up with everything later on.

Friday, June 10, 2005

A Higher Plane

I just went to The Daily Kos and read a discussion thread about Howard Dean. I detected a lot of "screw it...we're tired of getting steamrolled by these holier-than-thou self-righteous jerks (re: the Repugs)" reactions from people who acted like it's high time that somebody talked straight about all things political.

Let me say this...I admire Howard Dean a great deal. If it weren't for him, the Democrats would have virtually no spine at all. But he can't keep telling everyone that he thinks the majority of Republicans are crooks, even if it's true. That kind of talk assumes that the Democrats have some kind of locked-in base towards whom Dean and other leadership types can toss red meat whenever they want, and that is definitely not true.

The Democrats, rightly and wrongly, have been losing ground among their traditional base constituencies for years. I see some people in the party who have some answers for some issues, but I still don't see everyone pulling together. Of course, they're better than they were (the convention last year was a great show of unity), but that's still not good enough to beat the Repug organization...yet.

Dean is definitely not Bill Clinton, but he has to find a way to take a page out of Clinton's book and reach out to people who used to be Democrats who feel nothing but resentment to the party now. Some of these people are just plain gone, but some of them can be reached. And crying about the media echo chamber favoring the Republicans isn't going to help either. Yep, the whole game is rigged against the Dems and could keep them in minority party status for awhile, unfortunately (though I definitely would hate to see that).

The Dems can get back on their feet in two ways: 1) Hammer the Repugs over and over concerning the fact that the voters of this country gave them the keys to Dad's roadster, and all the Repugs did was drive it off a cliff, 2) Don't leave off at that and come up with some better vision of how things should be that involves grass-roots activism and not a solution that can be easily attacked as "more big government."

If they need any help concerning ideas, all the Dems have to do is check out David Sirota's blog. He comes up with new stuff in this area every day.

My Choice Would Be "Duuh"...

Today's CNN Quick Vote question is, "Is the fight over the John Bolton nomination (as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.) about principles or politics," and the choices are "yes and no."

See, they're having a tough time at CNN today, so I guess we have to be sympathetic. They're reporting on BOTH a hurricane getting ready to hit FLA (isn't it early for that sort of thing? Oh, no, I guess not. Bushco says there's no "global warming" and climate change isn't a problem, you see) and a woman in trouble in Aruba (not trying to trivialize that awful story, but let's face it - it gets people's attention). Given that, they're bound to make a screwup like the one I mentioned, right?

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Still Breathing, Huh?

Jesse Helms is back to promote a book. In it he apparently says he was wrong on AIDS but right on segregation, since it was “brought on by agitators with outside agendas”.

Gee, I wonder if he’s referring to 60s civil rights workers Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner, who were murdered during the voting registration and anti-segregation campaign of Freedom Summer?

I’m not going to waste further words discussing this maggot. The text from the links below say all I can say and more.

Punch My Ballot, Baby!

I happened to come across a news item from CNN that porn star Mary Carey, who ran in the California election that recalled Gray Davis and enabled Ahh-nold to becahm ze govanah…oh, excuse me, to become the governor of the land of fruits, nuts, and flakes…will attend a White House fundraiser to raise money for the party of “moral values” (“You are now entering Bushco land. Please leave your common sense behind as you depart with your carry on bags, and remember to make sure your tray is in the locked and upright position.”). Here is the link:

As I thought of this, I was visited by the muse…

(jazz saxophone plays slow, steady melody in the background along with 70s-era “wah wah” guitar…)

(Establishment shot)

Scene: A suburban home in an affluent bedroom community. A tall, willowy blonde stands over a kitchen sink washing dishes with a skewering pad. As she does so, the steam slowly rises in front of her. She purses her lips and closes her eyes, lifting her head up slightly as she takes a deep breath. At that moment, the doorbell rings, and she opens her eyes quickly as if startled awake.

She then struts slowly over to answer the door, wearing her black Manolo Blahnik inch-high pumps and form-fitting black negligee to accentuate the enticing curves of her body. Except for bra and panties, this is all she is wearing.

She opens the door and a tall, handsome gentleman with a black suit and a clipboard awaits her. He opens his mouth to say hello, but stops momentarily, frozen as he gazes upon this gorgeous creature.

(Mid close-ups)

“Good…good morning m’am,” he finally says. “I work for USA Next, an affiliate organization of the Republican National Committee, and I was wondering if I could take a few minutes of your time for some questions.”

“Why..ooh,” she coos, tossing her long hair over her shoulder, “I guess I could…answer some questions, sure. But…well,” she smiles, “I really don’t follow politics much. I let my husband take care of that.”

“Oh,” the man says with a trace of disappointment. “Well, then, can I speak with him?”

“Oh, he’s gone to work,” she says sadly with a pouty expression, looking down for a moment, then back up again, gazing into the man’s eyes. “I’m here by myself,” she purrs.

The man smiles slowly and steps forward. “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” he says quietly but disingenuously. “Of course, if Congress had acted sooner on the President’s plan for tax relief,” he says, reaching out to stroke her neck, “he would have been able to keep more of your money and not have to work so much, and he would be home with you now,” as he slowly wraps his arm around her waist.

(music gets slowly louder…)

“Oh,” the woman sighs, turning her head away from the man as he leans forward to kiss her neck, “it thrilled me to hear the President’s plan for tax code reform and easing restrictions on relief. I’m completely in favor of lowering barriers.” As she whispers enticingly, she brings her hand up across his back.

(Tight close ups…both of them pull back slightly)

“What’s your name?,” the woman asks, slowly stroking the back of his neck as she gazes deeply into his eyes.

“Hanging Chad,” he answers, smirking slightly as he cups his hand on her hip.

“I’m Mary Missionary,” she whispers. “Family values…make me hot!”

“I loved the plan to reduce the marriage penalty!,” the man says loudly, finally dropping the clipboard as he unties the sash of her negligee, opening it. He then leans forward once more, burying his head against her neck as he kisses her.

“And…unh!,” the woman calls out as he pulls her forcefully towards him, kissing her all around her neck and starting to lower himself against her, “no…more….death…tax!”

(music still louder…)

“The President thinks you’re a great American!,” the man calls out again as they both sink to the floor and begin to further undress themselves. “Our freedom is on the march!”

“GROVER NORQUIST IS MY DADDY!,” the woman screams out as the man climbs atop her and they begin to engorge themselves in carnal bliss.

(dag…anybody have a cigarette?)

(A transcript can be delivered to you in a brown paper wrapper. Act now on our limited-time-only $39.95 offer.)

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Brother, Can You Spare A Mil?

I’m glad I don’t live in New Jersey.

Let me explain…parts of it are really nice, such as Hopewell, the Princeton area, the shore points, etc. But I would hate to be subject to the incredible media assault awaiting those in the garden state that surely will come now that the stage has been set for two mega-millionaires to duke it out in the election for governor.

Douglas Forrester defeated Bret Schundler in the Republican primary yesterday, meaning that Forrester will run against incumbent Democratic senator Jon Corzine, former chairman and CEO of the investment firm Goldman Sachs.

As reported in the Trenton Times (which, as far as I’m concerned, emphasized these guys’ incomes WAY too much)…

Corzine (according to people familiar with the campaign) raised huge amounts of money for fellow senators in two national campaigns and is a sitting senator. He will also be running as the favorite, at least in the early stages of the campaign.

Whether national Republican leaders are willing to go all out for Forrester is another question. Forrester has raised big bucks for President Bush’s campaigns, but big-time Republicans have written off New Jersey and many of its candidates as a losing cause for years.

Corzine is in charge of the national Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, for what it’s worth.

The Times article goes on to describe how Forrester won the GOP primary in the election for the U.S. Senate against Democrat Robert Torricelli in 2000 (was it really that long ago?), but ended up losing the general election to Frank Lautenberg who emerged as a last-minute replacement for Torricelli.

(What really got me about Torricelli, by the way, wasn’t what he did – he took some jewelry and a big-screen TV, as I recall – but the way he bawled like a baby about how much he thought he was being persecuted. Hey, you’re in “the show.” Suck it up, for God’s sake.)

The article also mentions how El Grande Sleazeball Ken Mehlman, honcho of the Repug National Committee, is coming to NJ to whip all his Repug brethren into line to support Forrester and, in the process, do everything to tar Corzine with the whole Jim (I’m-a-gay-American-who-put-an-Israeli-national-without-clearance-in-charge-of-Homeland-Security) McGreevey thing.

I’m afraid this election is going to do absolutely nothing to advance anything related to a progressive cause. Based on the little bit I’ve read, Corzine is an effective mover and shaker behind the scenes, and Forrester isn’t a dummy either, but will probably play one on TV. However, dear New Jersey-ites (?), I think you should get ready for a mud slinging fest the likes of which you haven’t seen since, well, at least last year.

The Smoking Gun

We know this now, but it bears repeating, despite the Bush/Blair denials LONG after the fact.

From Tom Hughes and Democray for America:

Since the United States went to war in Iraq, nearly 1,700 of our troops have died there -- most of them long after President Bush put on his flight-suit to boast of an end to "major hostilities."

Despite his declaration, though, the war rages on for our nation's sons and daughters -- with no end in sight. Senior military officers have started to admit off the record that, even if we stay for years, we may ultimately fail. Our country has paid a terrible price in blood, in tax dollars, and in the global reputation that generations of Americans have built.

It gets worse. A secret British document revealed last month -- the Downing Street Memo -- all but confirms a sickening truth. Obsessed with Saddam no matter what the cost, President Bush and his aides dragged the nation to war with fixed evidence and false claims about non-existent Iraqi WMD's.

Despite pressure from ordinary people who have read the few reports of the memo in the American press, the White House has stonewalled on the issue. And the vast majority of our complacent media allows it.

Enough is enough. I'm tired of waiting for President Bush to own up to the facts -- and we apparently can't count on our own media to ask the simple, tough questions.

So, first things first -- read the memo and commit to making sure every other American does, too:

The Downing Street Memo makes clear that Bush wanted intelligence that justified a war, no matter how the facts had to be bent to get it.

The memo consists of the minutes of a meeting where the British intelligence chief, just back from the White House, told Prime Minister Tony Blair that "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and [weapons of mass destruction]. But the intelligence and facts," the Downing Street Memo continues, "were being fixed around the policy. The [National Security Council] had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action."

Today, American soldiers and their families deal with the aftermath of a war hastily planned and poorly executed by an ideologically obsessed White House that finds money for corporate welfare, but not for armor for our troops.

The American people deserve an explanation -- but it's clear that even with Blair in Washington this week, the press won't do the job on its own. So we will have to take the memo directly to the people. Ask your friends, family and co-workers: have they read the memo? Ask them here:

Read the memo for yourself -- the full-text is at the end of this email.

We all have to spread the word about the deceptions it reveals. Together, we can put the truth on our leaders' agenda.

But it's going to take a lot of work. That's why grassroots DFA groups across the country will be setting up tables, handing out copies, and asking Americans: have you read the memo?

When it comes to matters of war and peace, doesn't every American deserve the truth?

Tom Hughes
Executive Director
Democracy for America
P.S. -- At, you can find a print version of the memo to post or hand out in your community, along with a print petition you can use to inform your friends and neighbors. And through our event planning tool, you can set up a Downing Street Memo table right at your own town square, student center or neighborhood corner.

*** FULL TEXT ***

As originally reported in the The Times of London, May 1, 2005

From: Matthew Rycroft
Date: 23 July 2002
S 195 /02
cc: Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Attorney-General, Sir Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, CDS, C, Jonathan Powell, Sally Morgan, Alastair CampbellIRAQ: PRIME MINISTER'S MEETING, 23 JULY

Copy addressees and you met the Prime Minister on 23 July to discuss Iraq.

This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents.

John Scarlett summarised the intelligence and latest JIC assessment. Saddam's regime was tough and based on extreme fear. The only way to overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action. Saddam was worried and expected an attack, probably by air and land, but he was not convinced that it would be immediate or overwhelming. His regime expected their neighbours to line up with the US. Saddam knew that regular army morale was poor. Real support for Saddam among the public was probably narrowly based.

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.

CDS said that military planners would brief CENTCOM on 1-2 August, Rumsfeld on 3 August and Bush on 4 August.

The two broad US options were:

(a) Generated Start. A slow build-up of 250,000 US troops, a short (72-hour) air campaign, then a move up to Baghdad from the south. Lead time of 90 days (30 days preparation plus 60 days deployment to Kuwait).

(b) Running Start. Use forces already in theatre (3 x 6,000), continuous air campaign, initiated by an Iraqi casus belli. Total lead time of 60 days with the air campaign beginning even earlier. A hazardous option.

The US saw the UK (and Kuwait) as essential, with basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus critical for either option. Turkey and other Gulf states were also important, but less vital. The three main options for UK involvement were:

(i) Basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus, plus three SF squadrons.

(ii) As above, with maritime and air assets in addition.

(iii) As above, plus a land contribution of up to 40,000, perhaps with a discrete role in Northern Iraq entering from Turkey, tying down two Iraqi divisions.

The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.

The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.

The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult. The situation might of course change.

The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors. Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD. There were different strategies for dealing with Libya and Iran. If the political context were right, people would support regime change. The two key issues were whether the military plan worked and whether we had the political strategy to give the military plan the space to work.

On the first, CDS said that we did not know yet if the US battleplan was workable. The military were continuing to ask lots of questions.

For instance, what were the consequences, if Saddam used WMD on day one, or if Baghdad did not collapse and urban warfighting began? You said that Saddam could also use his WMD on Kuwait. Or on Israel, added the Defence Secretary.

The Foreign Secretary thought the US would not go ahead with a military plan unless convinced that it was a winning strategy. On this, US and UK interests converged. But on the political strategy, there could be US/UK differences. Despite US resistance, we should explore discreetly the ultimatum. Saddam would continue to play hard-ball with the UN.

John Scarlett assessed that Saddam would allow the inspectors back in only when he thought the threat of military action was real.

The Defence Secretary said that if the Prime Minister wanted UK military involvement, he would need to decide this early. He cautioned that many in the US did not think it worth going down the ultimatum route. It would be important for the Prime Minister to set out the political context to Bush.


(a) We should work on the assumption that the UK would take part in any military action. But we needed a fuller picture of US planning before we could take any firm decisions. CDS should tell the US military that we were considering a range of options.

(b) The Prime Minister would revert on the question of whether funds could be spent in preparation for this operation.

(c) CDS would send the Prime Minister full details of the proposed military campaign and possible UK contributions by the end of the week.

(d) The Foreign Secretary would send the Prime Minister the background on the UN inspectors, and discreetly work up the ultimatum to Saddam.He would also send the Prime Minister advice on the positions of countries in the region especially Turkey, and of the key EU member states.

(e) John Scarlett would send the Prime Minister a full intelligence update.

(f) We must not ignore the legal issues: the Attorney-General would consider legal advice with FCO/MOD legal advisers.

(I have written separately to commission this follow-up work.)


[Rycroft was a Downing Street foreign policy aide]

[emphasis added]

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Much More Than Elaine's Mom

We'll miss you, Annie (sniff).

Best to Mel...

(And I'm not referring to Julia Louis-Dreyfus, by the way.)

Values In Word And Deed

This is going to be a bit long. Sorry…

I can’t recall the context exactly, but former President Clinton was interviewed last week, and he said that he thought the Democrats could do a better job of promoting “moral values,” or “connecting with values voters”…something like that. I first thought he could have done more of that himself when in office, but then I recalled the inquisition led by Ken Starr, Richard Mellon Scaife, etc. after Bill finally admitted to getting “The Big Lewinsky” and realized that Clinton had effectively ceded that issue.

As far as I’m concerned, these are the only issues that are important to these so-called “values voters”: 1) Doing anything to fight abortion (and many of them use both carrot and stick on that issue, I’ll give them that, but too many more are just plain nuts); 2) Not letting the gays marry; and 3) Bombing the crap out of both innocent and guilty dark-skinned people half a world away.

The whole “values voters” myth took on a life of its own after the election last year, covering up Dubya’s fear and smear show (aided ably by the Swift Boat Liars), the fits-and-starts campaign of John Kerry (not helped much by the Clintonistas, as it turned out), and voting impropriety, shall we say, and undiscovered fraud in Florida and Ohio (see recent articles by Jim Lampley at The Huffington Post for more on that).

With this in mind, I went searching for a legitimate analysis of the whole “moral values” angle, and I found this column written last year by Jim Wallis of USA Today (in block quotes). As I share excerpts of his thoughtful words, I want to mix in some current context:

In the 2004 campaign, the religious right and the Republican Party chose a “moral values” strategy. While it might have helped them win (that) election, a serious focus on moral values in American politics could turn out to be a big mistake for the right — especially for its economic and foreign-policy agenda.

According to Craig Murray, former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan,
"We back a dictator in Central Asia (President Islam Abduganievich Karimov of Uzbekistan) to get access to oil and gas, and we remove a dictator in Iraq to get access to oil and gas. Explain American policy in terms of freedom and democracy and you get a contradiction. Explain it in terms of oil and gas and it's completely consistent."

Its efforts to reduce the values discussion to one or two controversial social issues — gay marriage and abortion — is unlikely to be successful over the long run. The conservative political agenda could come under great scrutiny when religious and moral values are applied to policies that favor the wealthy and choose war as the first, not the last, resort to threats of terrorism and tyranny.

From David Sirota’s blog dated today:

This is truly unbelievable. Public Citizen has discovered a provision buried in President Bush's energy bill "that provides hundreds of millions of dollars worth of federal loan guarantees for a power project apparently to be built by four former Enron executives." In fact, "one of the former executives is Thomas White, former head of Enron’s retail and energy trading in California during the energy crisis who later served as President Bush’s Secretary of the Army." See the full report here.

Who put this provision in there? Was it the White House? Or was it one of the White House's allies in Congress? The American people deserve to know before this bill is passed.

Polls taken since the election have consistently shown that Americans care about moral values — and don't restrict them to one or two issues. For instance, a Zogby International poll found that, when asked to choose the “most urgent moral problem in American culture,” 64% of respondents selected either “greed and materialism” or “poverty and economic justice,” while 28% chose abortion or gay marriage. Voters don't want to ignore these broader issues.

From the Al Franken Show blog today on the Air America web site:

On New Years of 1997, Tom DeLay visited the Marianas Islands, where he praised the work environment and vowed to stop Washington efforts to change their immigration and labor laws.

In the process, DeLay ended up providing de facto aid to Saipan’s sweatshops, as they continue force a sizeable number of the workforce of Chinese women, numbering about 11,000, into illegal abortions so they could continue to work.

Neither do our religious traditions. Thousands of verses in the Bible make poverty a moral and religious issue. The environment — protecting God's creation — is a religious matter and moral concern. Important issues of war and peace are deeply theological and just as much a “life issue” as is abortion. And human rights are rooted in the religious concept of the image of God in every person.

Former EPA Administrator Russell Train, a Republican who served in this role under presidents Nixon and Ford, accused President Bush of weakening the Clean Air Act in July 2004. Bush’s record, which Train found to be “very, very appalling,” falls short of those set by former Republican presidents ranging from Theodore Roosevelt, who advocated creating national parks and forests, to George H.W. Bush, who supported new anti-air-pollution standards.

Aimee Christensen, executive director of Environment 2004, described Bush’s record as "the worst…in modern history, unfortunately. They (the administration) are systematically weakening our keystone public health protections and undermining decades of bipartisan leadership on the environment."

Also, the G-8 leaders today criticized inaction by Bush on global warming, with Lord May, president of Britain’s Royal Society, calling Bush’s policy “misguided.”

"The Bush administration has consistently refused to accept the advice of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. The NAS concluded in 1992 that, 'Despite the great uncertainties, greenhouse warming is a potential threat sufficient to justify action now,' by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.

Right now, neither party gets the values question right. The Democrats seem uncomfortable with the language of faith and values, preferring in recent decades the secular approach of restricting such matters to the private sphere.

But where would we be if Martin Luther King Jr. had kept his faith to himself? The separation of church and state does not require the segregation of moral language and values from public life. The Republicans are comfortable with the language of religion and values. But the GOP wants to narrow the focus to hot-button social issues it then uses as wedges in political campaigns, while ignoring or obstructing the application of such values where they would threaten its agenda.

So, yes, let's discuss moral values. It might be the best way for people in the red and blue states to start talking to each other. Religion and moral values don't fall neatly into right and left political categories. Personal and social responsibility are both at the heart of religion and define what we call “the common good.” The two together could make a very powerful and compelling political vision for the future of our nation.

"Overcome What?" She Asked

As she heads towards a sure confirmation on the U.S. Appeals Court now that her filibuster has ended, let’s keep in mind the following about Janice Rogers Brown (from

A review of California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown's record to date raises serious questions and grave concerns about her persistent and disturbing hostility to affirmative action, civil rights, the rights of people with disabilities, workers' rights, and criminal rights. In addition, Brown has often been the lone justice to dissent on the California Supreme Court, illustrating that her judicial philosophy is outside the mainstream. Not only does she show an inability to dispassionately review cases, her opinions are based on extremist ideology that ignores judicial precedent, including that set by the U.S. Supreme Court.
And with her getting sent for this type of appointment, I’m supposed to actually be happy about the filibuster deal?


Outsourced American is hammering GM for laying off 25,000 workers in the next few years, and rightly so (oh please – spare me your “lean and mean” competitiveness, “work smarter not harder” rap; how are these people supposed to survive without health benefits, among other things?)…The Al Franken Show blog has information on Marla Ruzicka, a longtime aid worker in Iraq killed recently by a car bomb, as well as evidence that Alan Colmes actually has a spine and Matt Drudge is a liar…David Sirota notes that John Kerry recently released his naval records which showed commendations from officers who later smeared him…Molly Ivins has yet more scummy dirt on Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff (are we talking “bottomless pit” here, though much of the column has to do with Grover Norquist and other scumbags shilling for Dubya and extorting from Indian tribes), and Arianna Huffington gelds “bulldog” Tim Russert (“lapdog” is more apropos - "through the looking glass" MSM at its worst)…The Daily Kos reports that Katharine Harris actually will run for the Senate in FLA against Bill Nelson (God, I hope Nelson destroys her and rends her entrails into tiny, microscopic pieces), Atrios has some interesting information into some possible corruption between Boeing and the DOD/White House, and Brandoland has some nice stream-of-consciousness riffs on a commencement address by Dick Cheney (bleaugh!)…too much good stuff on the Huffington Post and The Smirking Chimp to mention here (and please sign John Conyers’ petition to Bush demanding answers related to Iraq War II and the Downing Street memo).

Monday, June 06, 2005

The Cost of Bushco

Also from today's Inquirer...

SPENCER, N.C. - The Bush administration is giving coal-fired power plants up to 20 years to remove 70 percent of the toxic mercury in smokestack emissions, citing as one factor that a key technology remains unproven.

But here on North Carolina's Yadkin River - at a type of plant where mercury removal was thought to be near impossible - a test shows that technology is already close to getting the job done.

"By 2010, we could outfit easily every plant in the country," said Sid Nelson Jr., president of the Ohio company that supplied the plant with a mercury-capturing "sorbent."

You know what's coming next, and here it is...

Officials at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency say that such claims are overly optimistic and that more testing is needed. Environmentalists accuse the agency of favoring industry at the expense of public health, filing lawsuits almost immediately after the EPA rule was published last month.

("Overly optimistic" meaning that we think it would cost businesses too much to perform these tests until we're all safely out of office.)

The article goes on to describe a couple of different types of mercury removal tests, one by blowing carbon treated with bromine into the stream of plant exhaust gases, and another by installing plant scrubbers currently used to remove sulfur dioxide, though they can be used to capture mercury.

And the payoff...

A study by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, funded partly by the EPA, pegged the potential impact of mercury control at 800 fewer fatal heart attacks a year, for an annual benefit of $4.8 billion. That's 96 times the health benefits estimated by the EPA.

Critics say if the EPA had included the heart benefits in its analysis, it would have been forced to require faster cleanup. (Jeff) Holmstead (head of the EPA's air pollution control program) countered that the evidence of a connection between mercury and heart attacks was "speculative."

Somehow I don't think it would be "speculative" if he ingested too much mercury from contaminated fish and then dropped dead on the spot (I certainly don't wish that).

To me, this is what Bushco does. It makes lazy, uninformed and downright evil (at times) decisions affecting us and our families, and one way or another, we always lose.

What Would Johnny Ring Say?

Let me guess…if I had to enroll now, I couldn’t get in? (from today’s Inky…)

In the last five years, Temple has morphed from a commuter college known as "Diversity University" into an institution far more academically selective - with a 34,000-member student body that is whiter, wealthier and more suburban than ever.

"The old shibboleth 'Temple who?' is anathema to us," said Howard Gittis, chairman of the board of trustees. "To make it a truly great institution... means pushing the administration, pushing the faculty, and, yes, looking for better students."

Yet as Temple works to catapult itself out of the mediocre "third tier" in US News & World Report's rankings, there is deepening concern that it will leave behind the constituency for which it was founded in 1884: the urban working class.

"We're trying to become a different kind of institution, and, frankly, that saddens me," said William Nathan, a mathematics professor for 33 years who has held many administrative posts. "Do I like that we are getting better students? Sure." But, he continued, that carries "far too high a price."

I would say so.

Somewhere, Joe Goebbels Is Smiling

From the Air America site last week…

"The Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries"

(I’m surprised these “whited sepulchers” didn’t add “Catcher In the Rye” to the list, seeing as how it has all of those bad words and all…)


As The Daily Kos reports, Christina Gregoire’s election as governor of Washington state has been upheld, which in all probability marks the end of the line for Repug Dino Rossi and his idiotic court challenges…The Supremes in D.C. have ruled against medical use of marijuana, turning a whole bunch of cancer patients into criminals (how constructive)…The Huffington Post has a lot of news and chatty stuff (great site, but why the #@$! should anyone care about whether or not Paramount Studios pulls the financial plug on Tom Cruise and “Mission: Impossible” 3…speaking of show biz, that great actor/idiot Russell Crowe was arrested in NYC for throwing a phone at a hotel employee: why on earth would a guy like him who has the world on a string do something that DUMB?!)…The Al Franken Show blog has a lot of great stuff documenting Bush’s criminal ignorance prior to and subsequent to Iraq War II…David Sirota tosses his support towards Howard Dean (as do I, even though I wish somebody would zap him the moment he gets an urge to say something dumb).

Wallowing in Watergate

God bless David Brock and the folks at Media Matters for America for trudging through the swill of conservative garbage in search of the truth. Last week, W. Mark Felt (who, as we all know by now, recently came forward and identified himself as Deep Throat in the Watergate story) was criticized by Charles Colson and G. Gordon Liddy as unethical, dishonorable, "hypocritical," and "not a hero." Colson has reformed himself a bit, I must admit, but Liddy, in a manner befitting cockroaches, have morphed from a convicted criminal into a new strain of life form, and that of course would be a right-wing media barking head.

If you don’t like what Felt did, fine (personally, I think he’s a hero – I don’t care what his motives were). However, you shouldn’t include comments from Colson and Liddy without explaining their roles in the scandal and what happened to them. However, that is exactly what too many of our dear cousins in the dreaded “MSM” did, though fortunately, Media Matters called them on it.

Since the context on Colson wasn’t provided, here is some for your consideration:

Colson was a member of the Republican Party and in 1956 he became Administration Assistant to Senator Leverett Saltonstall. In 1961 Colson became a partner in the Gadsby and Hannah Law Firm.

In 1969 Colson was appointed to the White House staff as Counsel to President
Richard Nixon. Colson also began involved (sic) in the activities of the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP). On 20th March, 1971, at a meeting of CREEP it was agreed to spend $250,000 "intelligence gathering" (sic) operation against the Democratic Party.

Colson and John Ehrlichman appointed E. Howard Hunt as a member of the White House Special Investigations Unit. On 15th May Arthur Bremer attempted to assassinate George Wallace. As a result Colson ordered Hunt to break into Bremer's apartment to see if he could find any information that the Democratic Party was involved in the assassination. However, some have claimed that Hunt's role was to remove incriminating documents from Bremer's home.

The site goes on to discuss the origins of Watergate and the break-in at the Democratic National Committee Headquarters (and that’s always been one of the big mysteries to me about Watergate. What on earth was so important about Larry O’Brien or what he may have had to justify the break-in?). The site also explains Colson’s conversion to Christianity in prison following his conviction and his work with Prison Fellowship Ministries.

The site also mentions another genius idea from Colson at that time when he worked for CREEP, and that was to firebomb the Brookings Institution. I wonder if that came up when he was interviewed recently about Felt by Faux News?

And (let us not forget), there is mention at the end of how Colson signed a letter in October 2002 explaining what he considered to be the theological justification of Iraq War II. The letter is pretty well thought out, and leads me to believe that, given the fact that the war is being waged in direct opposition to what he stated, he should be a leading protestor by now.

As for Liddy (from the same source as above)…

In 1971, Liddy joined the White House Staff. Working under Egil Krogh, Liddy became a member of the Special Investigations Group (SIG). The group was (informally known as "the Plumbers" because their job was to stop leaks from Nixon's administration)(sic).

Later that year the SIG became concerned about the activities of
Daniel Ellsberg. He was a former member of the McNamara Study Group which had produced the classified History of Decision Making in Vietnam, 1945-1968. Ellsberg, disillusioned with the progress of the war, believed this document should be made available to the public. Ellsberg gave a copy of what later became known as the Pentagon Papers to Phil Geyelin of the Washington Post. Katharine Graham and Ben Bradlee decided against publishing the contents on (sic) the document.

The article goes on to discuss the break-in and Liddy’s conviction and sentencing in 1973 (to 20 years in prison, though he served four before then-President Jimmy Carter ordered his release).
I also found out about this little gem…

In 1992 John Dean began legal action against Liddy. Dean objected to information that appeared in books by Liddy (Will) and Len Colodny (Silent Coup) that claimed that Dean was the mastermind of the Watergate burglaries and the true target of the break-in was to destroy information implicating him and his wife in a prostitution ring. The case was dismissed by the U.S. District Court in Baltimore after jurors could not reach a verdict. The publisher of Silent Coup settled a similar suit by Dean and his wife for an unknown amount of money.

So the next time you hear Colson and Liddy describe someone as unethical, dishonorable, "hypocritical," and "not a hero,” please just consider the source.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Want Fries With Your Malaise?

I spent another fun Sunday with the young one at the Golden Arches on Business Route 1 in Penndel, PA. When you enter the place, there is an enormous fish tank in the lobby, about six feet long by three feet high by two feet deep. In it are fancy guppies, swordfish, koi, angel fish, goldfish, a sponge or two, and I think we even saw a panda cory catfish. My son, however, wanted to see the hermit crab.

Disappointed that he was apparently missing, we stepped up to the counter and ordered the typical fare of salted, grease-fried, shortening-blasted, sugary, artery-clogging sludge we always order the few times we actually patronize this place.

We found a table in the play area and sat down to eat. This usually is impossible on a weekend, but most everyone else actually had the good sense to be outside on this beautiful day instead of holed up in this washed-out, sweltering, beaten-up tub of crumbling gym toys, stepped-on food and cracked floor tiles, awash in violently-designed primary colors and images of demented corporate cartoon characters.

In the midst of all of this, we could view and listen to CNN on a TV in the background. The caucasian male anchor with the salt and pepper hair and blue suit told us:

“President Bush said on Saturday that the U.S. economic expansion was solid, with thriving small business and factory sectors, despite a report showing weak payroll growth.”

Well, if Dubya is actually telling the truth for a change, then this place should be hanging the “Help Wanted” shingle any day now, I thought. Beyond this place, though, I don’t see much activity. Then again, the Home Depot up the road near Oxford Oaks may need somebody to sweep the floors on all shifts.

“Dad, I’m going to go down the slide,” he calls out to me as he climbs the mesh rigging up to the jungle gym, apparently giving up on his cheeseburger. I respond in approval, trying to wash down my McCluck Burger with some previously unknown colored carbonation.

“America’s economy is on the right track,” Bush said in his weekly family address. “Small businesses are flourishing. Factory output is growing. And families are taking home more of what they earn.”

I listen to this nonsense and shake my head while my child stomps overhead in the plastic tube en route to the slide. He is soon joined by other newfound friends, and I talk politely with other parents, each of us happily oblivious to the propaganda oozing out of the tube.

The rest of the visit proceeds, for the most part, uneventfully. The TV anchor changes on CNN to a clean-cut, well-coiffed young woman, again caucasian, with well-styled but barely noticeable “war paint” so as to look attractive but not actually alluring. She repeats the same news item of Bush telling us how rosy everything is, but adds that the Labor Department issued a report on Friday telling us that U.S. employers only added 78,000 workers to their payrolls in May, the weakest job growth in nearly two years.

Gradually, all of us, parents and children in tow, politely say our goodbyes and leave. As we depart, we notice Condolezza Rice on TV making a speech about the importance of democracy in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Haiti (good luck on that last one, I think to myself).

While we leave, my son and I pass the aquarium and notice that the hermit crab has emerged from behind a shipwreck and a piece of coral. As nearly as I could tell, he was glancing up to the TV and noticing Secretary Rice speaking. As he did so, he rubbed his body up against a stone in what could be a suggestive manner, quite possibly trying to diddle himself.

Bleat The Press

In a Letter to the Editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, "Mad Max" Mastellone of Washington Township (NJ, I assume) responds to the paper's latest "mea culpa" in an attempt to show some liberal/progressive balance while it kow tows to the right-wing nut jobs who will do a better job of patronizing the paper's advertisers than the poor leftys who have to make due without a Bimmer or a Club Med outer islands vacation every year (like me)...

Re: "Newspapers admit mistakes - unlike most other industries," Currents, May 29:
Editor Amanda Bennett appears to be patting herself and her colleagues on the back. Perhaps she felt it necessary to defend the media and her newspaper because of the intense level of criticism of the media from both the right and the left.

The Bush administration and its radical right cronies are working overtime to keep the media heeled (one wonders why, since the media, far from playing their "watchdog" role, have been Bush's lapdog since at least 9/11). Progressives have been criticizing this lapdog role for some time now. At the National Conference for Media Reform on May 22, Bill Moyers told the audience, "Instead of acting as filters for readers and viewers, sifting the truth from the propaganda, reporters and anchors attentively transcribe both sides of the spin, invariably failing to provide context, background, or any sense of which claims hold up and which are misleading."

Unfortunately, Bennett did not address this crucial issue of modern journalism. In so doing, she reveals the limited nature of the self-criticism that The Inquirer is prepared to do.

There are so many examples of what Mr. Mastellone is referring to that I can't recall all of them. However, here is one from today's Inquirer:

CRAWFORD, Texas - Bending the ears of lawmakers and their constituents, President Bush yesterday used his weekly radio address to ask Congress to set aside partisan differences and act on energy, trade and spending issues and fix Social Security.

Yep, Dubya has that "whining like a spoiled brat, give me everything I want" thing down pat...

Bush said that he wanted to see an energy bill that would reduce the nation's dependence on foreign sources of oil by Congress' August recess.

He keeps saying stuff like that, and we keep going to the Saudis for a handout...

He also urged lawmakers to restrain spending: "The House and the Senate have worked together to pass a responsible budget resolution that keeps us on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009. Now, Congress must keep its promise to exercise restraint on spending bills and to rein in mandatory spending."

Yep, trying to cut down the deficit that HE CREATED after inheriting a surplus...

The President pushed Congress to change Social Security to ensure its future solvency. And he asked the lawmakers to ratify the Central American and Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement, known as CAFTA.
"About 80 percent of products from Central America and the Dominican Republic now enter the United States duty-free," said Bush, who is flying to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., tomorrow to discuss CAFTA with other Western Hemisphere leaders.
"Yet American exports to those countries face hefty tariffs," he said. "CAFTA will level the playing field by making about 80 percent of American exports to Central America and the Dominican Republic duty-free."
Bush said the pact would lower barriers in key sectors such as textiles, which he said would make U.S. manufacturers more competitive globally. "CAFTA will make our neighborhood more secure by strengthening young democracies," he added. "CAFTA is a practical, pro-jobs piece of legislation. And Congress needs to pass it soon."
Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota argued in the Democrats' radio address that Bush and his congressional allies were not interested in resolving differences. "They demand that it all be done their way," he said. "But, of course, that is not the way a democracy works."

Dorgan also said the administration needed to be doing more to address a different set of issues, such as American jobs moving overseas, rising health-care costs, federal budget deficits, and high gasoline prices.
More jobs will be lost and the trade deficit will widen if CAFTA is approved, Dorgan said. He and other Democrats complain that it lacks labor and environmental protections to stop abuses of workers in poor, low-wage Central America.

(I love the phrase "partisan differences"...what kind of "differences" can be allowed when the majority party has its foot on the throat of the minority party, so to speak, a position the minority party deserves somewhat, by the way?)

Better writers than I have thoroughly uncovered Dubya's Social Security fraud, so I won't deal with that. Also, anyone who doesn't realize that anything he does regarding energy (everything really, but especially energy) is meant to reward the investor class for whom he fronts has been living under a rock since January 2001. Finally, I got suckered into NAFTA years ago by Clinton and the Repugs, so I won't make that mistake like that again on CAFTA, SHAFTA, or any other cutesy-sounding acronym some politico chooses to come up with.

To illustrate what Mr. Mastellone said about the press, though, take a look at how the Inquirer/AP treated the concerns about CAFTA raised by Sen. Byron Dorgan. They stuck what he had to say at the very end of the story instead of analyzing it along with what Bush said in context! "Oh, by the way, here's an opposing point of view," by which time most people have skimmed off the story and are looking at the Macy's ads for bras and panty hose before they get ready to hurry off to church.

(or, as Warren Zevon once sang, "the less you know, the better off you are".)