Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Why should I ...

I was just watching CSNBC and the anchor was interviewing an irate, indignant, conservative voter and tax payer who was asking the question, "Why should I help bail out anyone with my tax dollars who made irresponsible financial decisions."

Spoken like a true conservative who lives in a vacuum.

The answer is relatively simple. If you don't:
  • the housing market will collapse
  • along with all the lenders, spreading to the entire financial community
  • your house will become worth even less than it is today, crushing your net worth
  • the country will spiral into a depression
  • your life savings will disappear as a result of inflation that seems to ba a part of this particular cycle
  • your company will close its doors and you'll loose your job because nobody is buying what they're selling and they can't get a loan to bridge out of the bad times because the financial institutions collapsed
and it's not a situation where you can pick one that you feel is the lesser of the evils. It's one of those "all of the above" situations.

But then you voted for candidates who promoted tax cuts while borrowing to cover the shortfalls. You voted for candidates who favored no regulation on business instead of reasonable regulations. If anyone was irresponsible, it was you ... at the very least, you're included on the list of those who were. All because you live in a vacuum and think that YOUR actions have no consequences. Only the other guy's actions have consequences! You helped create this mess with you attitudes and your "me first" philosophy, so you can jolly well grin and bear it while you help us all get out of this set of unfortunate circumstances.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Al Gore's New Slide Show

In Al Gore's brand-new slideshow (premiering exclusively on, he presents evidence that the pace of climate change may be even worse than scientists were recently predicting, and challenges us to act with a sense of "generational mission" -- the kind of feeling that brought forth the civil rights movement -- to set it right. Gore's stirring presentation is followed by a brief Q&A in which he is asked for his verdict on the current political candidates' climate policies and on what role he himself might play in future.


"Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your governmant when it deserves it."

-– Mark Twain

Monday, April 07, 2008

Truckers Protest, the Resistance Begins

from Barbara Ehrenreich

Until the beginning of this month, Americans seemed to have nothing to say about their ongoing economic ruin except, "Hit me! Please, hit me again!" You can take my house, but let me mow the lawn for you one more time before you repossess. Take my job and I'll just slink off somewhere out of sight. Oh, and take my health insurance too; I can always fall back on Advil.

Then, on April 1, in a wave of defiance, truck drivers began taking the strongest form of action they can take - inaction. Faced with $4/gallon diesel fuel, they slowed down, shut down and started honking. On the New Jersey Turnpike, a convoy of trucks stretching "as far as the eye can see," according to a turnpike spokesman, drove at a glacial 20 mph. Outside of Chicago, they slowed and drove three abreast, blocking traffic and taking arrests. They jammed into Harrisburg PA; they slowed down the Port of Tampa where 50 rigs sat idle in protest. Near Buffalo, one driver told the press he was taking the week off "to pray for the economy."

The truckers who organized the protests -- by CB radio and internet -- have a specific goal: reducing the price of diesel fuel. They are owner-operators, meaning they are also businesspeople, and they can't break even with current fuel costs. They want the government to release its fuel reserves. They want an investigation into oil company profits and government subsidies of the oil companies. Of the drivers I talked to, all were acutely aware that the government had found, in the course of a weekend, $30 billion to bail out Bear Stearns, while their own businesses are in a tailspin.

The rest after the click ...

My comment:

This is it! This is the article I've been waiting for. I've expected this for close to a year now and here it is. I didn't know what form it would take or where the starting point would be ... but I know it when I see it and this is it. This is the first rent in the fabric of our society and now we are in danger of the whole thing unraveling like a cheap sweater.

Hang on to your seat, baby! Stock up on SPAM and Ramen noodles because it's going to be one hell of a ride from here on.

When the trucks stop, everything changes.

Minor errors

"I have spoken to a lot of science teachers in schools here in Britain who are finding an increasing number of students coming to them and saying they are Young Earth creationists. Now this is a belief that the Earth is only 6000 years old, and it is such a staggering mistake that it is very concerning to hear this. It is no small error – it is equivalent to someone believing, despite the evidence, that the width of North America from one coast to the other is only 7.8 yards."

More after the click ...

The Green Light

from a yet to be released book about the origins of torture in the Bush Administration
by Phillippe Sands / Vanity Fair

The abuse, rising to the level of torture, of those captured and detained in the war on terror is a defining feature of the presidency of George W. Bush. Its military beginnings, however, lie not in Abu Ghraib, as is commonly thought, or in the “rendition” of prisoners to other countries for questioning, but in the treatment of the very first prisoners at Guantánamo. Starting in late 2002 a detainee bearing the number 063 was tortured over a period of more than seven weeks. In his story lies the answer to a crucial question: How was the decision made to let the U.S. military start using coercive interrogations at Guantánamo?

The Bush administration has always taken refuge behind a “trickle up” explanation: that is, the decision was generated by military commanders and interrogators on the ground. This explanation is false. The origins lie in actions taken at the very highest levels of the administration—by some of the most senior personal advisers to the president, the vice president, and the secretary of defense. At the heart of the matter stand several political appointees—lawyers—who, it can be argued, broke their ethical codes of conduct and took themselves into a zone of international criminality, where formal investigation is now a very real option. This is the story of how the torture at Guantánamo began, and how it spread.

More after the click ...

My comment:

Perhaps it would be worth while, at this point, to review the proceedings of the Nuremburg War Crimes Trials that followed the Second World War and count the parallels between the current administration and the Nazi defendants.

So much for "Never Again!" It's only taken 60 years for "Again" to come full circle.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

A useful reminder

"It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism."

-- George Washington, Farewell Address, 1796

My comment:

Is anyone favoring a "unified presidency" listening?

If men were angels

"If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary."

-- James Madison, Federalist #51

My comment:

Those who would undermine our government, and who, believing less government is better government to the extent that they would tear down all of our government in search of that ideal state, appear to believe that they are angels; forgetting that they are merely men and subject to the same corruptions as all men.

It is possible for government to grow too big but to "starve the beast" is an indiscriminate policy that sacrifices a large good to reform a relatively small evil ... replacing the relatively small evil with one yet larger in the end.

Oh When the Troops / Come Marching In...

from Jesus' General

If you found the military knocking on your door in the middle of the night, what would you do? You might not have many choices about what to do if the president has authorized them to sweep your neighborhood because Bush has assumed the authority to use the military in "anti-terrorism" efforts without the oversight of the courts. Your home could be searched and you can be taken into custody without warrant. You wouldn't be able to assume that you'd be provided with the niceties of civilized societies like lawyers, a judge, or a court of law.

Perhaps if the military appears at your door, you should be thankful that they are knocking and haven't already knocked the door in. It wasn't that long ago — ah, the good old days — when speculations about sending the military to conduct warrantless searches and arrests would have been limited to just the the farthest extremes of nutty conspiracy theorists. In today's climate, such speculations sound almost conservative in nature.

We don't have a Congress that is quite craven enough to pass a law giving Bush dictatorial powers, but we have a president arrogant and authoritarian enough to ignore the parts of the laws he doesn't like, to amend them to his liking, and to interpret them in whatever manner is most consistent with his desire to act without checks, balances, or oversight. How so? According to a footnote in a John Yoo memo, his office had concluded that "the Fourth Amendment had no application to domestic military operations."

More after the click ...

Where in the World is Ossama bin Laden

or watch the video here ...

Fill in the Blank

an echo from the past:

"Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of [fill in the blank]. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in [fill in the blank]. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.

"This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of [fill in the blank]. Recently one of them wrote these words:

"'Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the heart of the [fill in the blank] and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism.'

"If we continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in [fill in the blank]. It will become clear that our minimal expectation is to occupy it as an American colony and men will not refrain from thinking that our maximum hope is to goad [fill in the blank] into a war so that we may bomb her nuclear installations. If we do not stop our war against the people of [fill in the blank] immediately the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horribly clumsy and deadly game we have decided to play.

"The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in [fill in the blank], that we have been detrimental to the life of the [fill in the blank] people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways.

"In order to atone for our sins and errors in [fill in the blank], we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war."

-- from Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech in 1967 at the Riverside Church in New York criticizing American's war in Vietnam (minor edits limited to [fill in the blank].).

My Comment:

The more things change, the more they remain the same. When war becomes a private enterprise and a profitable business, there can be no end to war. There can be no peace - for if there were peace, the profits from war would cease.

Strategic Manure

by Charley Reese / on AntiWar

Sen. John McCain is already spreading the old "strategic interests" fertilizer along the presidential campaign trail while pretending to be an expert.

Let's hope he really can explain what interests require us to maintain troops in Germany and Japan 63 years after the end of the war. What exactly is the purpose of those troops? Are we expecting the Mongols to descend on Japan? Does he expect the Cossacks will ride across the plains to attack Europe? Does he think that two of the greatest economic powers on Earth – Japan and Europe – are too poor to defend themselves? The old boy is living in the past.

When American politicians talk about strategic interests, they are talking about just what I called it, manure. We have no strategic interests in the Middle East whatsoever. We wish to buy oil there. Last time I checked, those countries that produce oil were selling it to any country willing to buy it, whether that country had troops in the area or not. Since oil isn't edible, there's not a heck of a lot you can do with it if you don't sell it.

More after the click ...