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'my profile' and other stuff... Anybody with a fix, please leave a comment. Many thanks in advance.

That said, if you must use Firefox (and I don't blame you, it's become my browser of choice, too)
...get the "IE Tab" extension. This allows you to view problem pages with the IE rendering engine. Very cool!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

'Will the military choose the Constitution or the party?'

So, here we are, waiting to see if there are indictments of White House officials. What will Bush and the "conservative movement" do if the PlameGate, Abramoff, DeLay, Reed and/or other crime/corruption investigations finally threaten to bring down the Bush Presidency -- along with Republican control of the House and Senate?

Let's look back at what happened when Nixon was being forced out.

But first, here's what got me thinking about this. I came across the following, Military's Advice to Reporters: 2,000 Dead in Iraq 'Not a Milestone',

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Steve Boylan, director of the force's combined press center, wrote in an e-mail to reporters, "The 2,000 service members killed in Iraq supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom is not a milestone. It is an artificial mark on the wall set by individuals or groups with specific agendas and ulterior motives."

And this, The Party's nominee for chief Pentagon Spokesman, claiming the America media are in "partnership" with al Queda,

"Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Al Qaeda have a partner in Al Jazeera and, by extension, most networks in the U.S.," Mr. Smith wrote. "This partnership is a powerful tool for the terrorists in the war in Iraq."

Our media "in partnership" with al Queda...

The first was from a Lt. Col., the second from a political appointee, both in the Pentagon. When I hear official military spokesmen echoing Rush Limbaugh and saying that the press is "in partnership" with terrorists, or insinuating that I am somehow anti-American it makes me nervous. That's because I remember Nixon.

When Nixon was in his last days in office, drunk, paranoid and raving, the Secretary of Defense instructed the Joint Chiefs to ignore any orders given by Nixon, in case he attempted a coup. From The Modern History Project:

Then in October, came the rumor that Nixon may be considering a military coup to stay in office. Gen. Alexander Haig told the Congress during his confirmation hearings for the position of Secretary of State on January, 1981, that some people in Washington were "flirting with solutions which would have been extra-Constitutional". Watergate Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski warned the grand jury that if they decided to indict Nixon he might use force to remain in office. In June, 1982, Harold Evans, Watergate grand juror, appearing on a segment of the ABC-TV news show "20/20." said that Jaworski told them that if they indicted Nixon he might "surround the White House with armed forces."

On October 26, 1973, in a Washington Star article called "Has President Nixon Gone Crazy?" syndicated columnist Carl Rowan wrote: " the face of a vote to impeach he might try, as 'commander-in-chief' to use military forces to keep himself in power." In another article called "The Pardon," in the August, 1983 edition of the Atlantic Monthly, Seymour Hersh, one of Nixon's Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote that in a December 22, 1973 meeting:

"He kept on referring to the fact that he may be the last hope, (that) the Eastern elite was out to get him. He kept saying, 'This is our last and best hope. The last chance to resist the fascists'. His words brought me straight up out of my chair. I felt the President, without the words having been said, was trying to sound us out to see if we would support him in some extra-constitutional action ...

(Secretary of Defense James) Schlesinger began to investigate what forces could be assembled at his order as a counterweight to the Marines, if Nixon -- in a crisis -- chose to subvert the Constitution. The notion that Nixon could at any time resort to extraordinary steps to preserve his presidency was far more widespread in the government than the public perceived..."

He felt it would be led by General Robert Cushman, the Marine Representative on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who had been loyal to Nixon ever since he had been his military aide while he was the Vice President under Eisenhower. Schlesinger, in July, 1974, believing the Washington contingent of Marines to be the probable force used in a coup attempt began developing a strategy to bring in the Army's 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

On August 2, 1974, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger admitted that General Haig had informed him that Nixon was considering the idea of surrounding the White House with troops. In an August 27, 1974 article in the Washington Post titled "Military Coup Fears Denied," the fact was revealed that:

"Defense Secretary James Schlesinger requested a tight watch in the military chain of command to ensure that no extraordinary orders went out from the White House during the period of uncertainty (and) that no commanders of any forces should carry out orders which came from the White House, or elsewhere, outside the normal military channels."

Tantamount to a military coup, and contrary to the Constitution, the Joint Chiefs of Staff sent a secret communiqu� to all Commanders of the U.S. military forces around the world: "Upon receipt of this message you will no longer carry out any orders from the White House. Acknowledge receipt."

More graphically, from a review of the book "THE ARROGANCE OF POWER, The Secret World of Richard Nixon",

The inescapable conclusion, well bodyguarded by meticulous research and footnotes, is that in the Nixon era the United States was, in essence, a "rogue state." It had a ruthless, paranoid and unstable leader who did not hesitate to break the laws of his own country in order to violate the neutrality, menace the territorial integrity or destabilize the internal affairs of other nations. At the close of this man's reign, in an episode more typical of a banana republic or a "peoples' democracy," his own secretary of defense, James Schlesinger, had to instruct the Joint Chiefs of Staff to disregard any military order originating in the White House.

Schlesinger had excellent grounds for circumspection. Not only had he learned that Nixon had asked the Joint Chiefs "whether in a crunch there was support to keep him in power," but he had also been told the following by Joseph Laitin, public affairs spokesman of the Office of Management and Budget. On his way to the West Wing in the spring of 1974, Laitin recalls:

"I'd reached the basement, near the Situation Room. And just as I was about to ascend the stairway, a guy came running down the stairs two steps at a time. He had a frantic look on his face, wild-eyed, like a madman. And he bowled me over, so I kind of lost my balance. And before I could pick myself up, six athletic-looking young men leapt over me, pursuing him. I suddenly realized that they were Secret Service agents, that I'd been knocked over by the president of the United States."

Well I'm old enough to remember Nixon. And I have to tell you that this Bush crowd just picks up where Nixon left off. It's not even a comparison. This crowd is much more corrupt and ideologically crazed and cynical and dangerous that Nixon.

So here's the thing. Times have changed since the days of Nixon. The far-right is far more powerful and entrenched, far more self-righteous, have an extreme persecution complex and have become very insular and cult-like. Their ideology has spun itself so far that regular people have a difficult time even understanding the language and references they use in their "home" discussions at discussion centers like Free Republic.

As I said, times have changed. The Right has made great inroads infiltrating and indoctrinating the institutions of society -- the churches, business, media and the courts. They have been purging the agencies of the government and installing Party hacks. And they have largely purged the reasonable people and the moderate and civil voices from their ranks. Who is there in place today to defy the Dobsons and Norquists? Here we are amazed at Patrick Fitzgerald because we no longer expect to see even ONE person who is willing and able to go against the Right's machine.

So it comes down to whether they're willing to pull the trigger or not if backed up against the wall. How does Bush stack up against Nixon when pressed? (I keep thinking about the 1991 coup attempt against Gorbechev, tanks surrounding the Soviet Parliament building.) Under Nixon we came close, but our traditions of democracy and moderation saved us. It was Nixon's Secretary of Defense who ordered the Joint Chiefs to check before following Nixon's commands. In the Gorbechev coup enough of the military refused to go along. But infiltration and indoctrination have been the hallmarks of the Right for the past thirty years and the military has been a natural target for such activity.

If Bush decides to pull the trigger, will the military follow The Party or the Constitution?

Source: Seeing The Forest

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Friday, October 28, 2005

Bill Bennett, Bob Bennett and the Criminal Element

Bill Bennett, Bob Bennett and the Criminal Element

by Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman
Oct. 20, 2005

Bill Bennett and Bob Bennett are brothers.

Bill Bennett is the social conservative pundit.

Bob Bennett is the white-collar criminal defense lawyer.

Bob Bennett is the lawyer for New York Times' reporter Judith Miller.

As you might recall -- and how could you forget? -- Bill Bennett took to the airwaves a couple of weeks ago espoused that "you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." He then quickly added, "That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down."

Of course, Bill Bennett was talking about street crime.

If he were to address the issue of white collar and corporate crime -- the kind that his brother Bob defends every day for a very nice living -- then he might have said something like -- "you could abort every white male destined to go to Harvard Business School, and your crime rate would go down."

Now that would be impolite.

But the reality is that all crime committed by the powerful -- both in government and in corporations -- inflicts far more damage on society than all crime committed by the powerless.

Let's take the crimes of Harvard Business School graduate George Bush.

The President's cronies are being investigated for leaking classified information to various reporters, including to Judith Miller.

(By the way, we agree with Patrick Buchanan who was on MSNBC's Hardball Show last night and observed that Bush and Cheney's real success in the whole Judith Miller/Valerie Plame episode was turning "the New York Times, the newspaper of record in this country, into a propaganda organ for the war party.")

Why not an investigation for war crimes?

In the words of former Supreme Court Justice and Nuremberg prosecutor Robert Jackson -- whom newly confirmed Chief Justice John Roberts says he "admires" -- the supreme international crime is the war of aggression.

And guess who are the architects of the most recent war of aggression?

George Bush and Dick Cheney and their associates.

With an assist from Congress -- including Presidential hopefuls John Kerry and Hillary Clinton -- which for voted to authorize the war.

Do you see any of the architects of the illegal war in Iraq on trial for mass murder?

Why not?

If putting Saddam on trial for mass killing is a good thing, then putting the architects of the most recent war of aggression is a good thing too.

(And by mass killing we mean approaching 2,000 young Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis in an unjustifiable war of aggression.)

Despite the wave of crime by the powerful that has swept over the country in recent years -- and inflicted far more damage on society that all street crime combined -- when people with the institutional megaphones like Bill Bennett use the word "crime," they mean street crime.

(When Bob Bennett talks about crime, he invariably means white-collar and corporate crime -- but that's because his clients are paying him big bucks to clear their names.)

As a result, this bias has been hard wired into our brains.

Here's a quick test.

We will write down a word.

And you tell us the first image that comes to your mind.



Okay, and the first image to come to your mind?

Do you conjure up a black kid in New Orleans wading through the waters with DVDs stuffed in his pockets?

Why not Conrad Black, also known as Lord Black of Crossharbour?

Lord Black is under investigation along with his associates -- by the same Patrick Fitzgerald who is investigating the Bush leak affair -- of looting $400 million from Hollinger International, the esteemed publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times and the Jerusalem Post, among myriad other publications.

A special 513-report on the looting at Hollinger, issued by Richard Breeden, former chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, called Black's management team at Hollinger a corporate kleptocracy.

That would be a bureaucracy of kleptomaniacs. (Credit for the looter imagery goes to Joe Loughran, a Republican white-collar crime pundit we interviewed recently.)

So the image of a looter is that of the black kid with some DVDs stuffed into his coat pocket.

And not of Lord Black of Crossharbour?

And the image of the war criminal is that of Saddam Hussein.

And not George Bush?

And Bill Bennett says that if we aborted all of the black kids, the crime rate would go down?

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime / Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor,, and on the steering committee of the Center for Corporate Policy. Mokhiber and Weissman are co-authors of On the Rampage: Corporate Predators and the Destruction of Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press).

© 2005 Russell Mokhiber & Robert Weissman

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This Modern World ? Blog Archive ? How It Went Down

This is just t-o-o funny. Be sure to read the rest. —pseudolus


Greg Saunders:
How It Went Down

Bush Gives Christ SCOTUS Nod
Monday, November 21, 2005

WASHINGTON (AP) - Reeling from the rebuke he received over the nomination of Harriet Miers, George Bush nominated former carpenter Jesus Harold Christ today to the nation’s highest court. “I’ve been saying for years now that he’s my favorite philosopher,” the President remarked, “so I think the American people will be proud when they get to know J.C.’s judicial philosophicalness.”

Bush called on the Senate to “review every aspect of Jesus’ qualifications fairly and with haste. It’s important that we get an up-down vote on this nomination by the end of the year”.

Holy Nomination Deemed Controversial
Wednesday, November 23, 2005

WASHINGTON (NYT) - Despite being the figurehead of one of the world’s largest religions, the nomination of Jesus Christ to replace Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court is getting a mixed reaction on the Hill from Democrats — and Republicans.

“Who is this guy?”, universally-beloved maverick John McCain asked reporters. “I find it hard to believe that this guy has gone thirty-three years without ever taking a stand on Roe v. Wade.”

In an off-the record interview with the Times, Senator Chuck Schumer added “He seems like a nice guy, but I’ll need to see what comes out during the conformation process before making any decisions”.


read the rest…

This Modern World » Blog Archive » How It Went Down


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Friday Foobar blogging

What? Foobar blogging? Yes, well, I don't own an i-Pod so this is the best I can do (don’t pity me). I load up Foobar 2000 and randomize the playlist and voila! today’s Top-10.  Go check out Foobar if you want a totally FREE music player for Windows or Linux. Very powerful yet very simple. No skins, just a tabbed playlist interface with a ton of hotkeys for control. Plays and converts loads of different music formats, burns CDs, does live streaming audio, downloads & edits tags (you can even rename the files on disk according to tag info), fixes mp3 headers and can create and utilize Replaygain info. I use it to listen to radio programs like Thom Hartmann at work. I can pause and back up any number of minutes or seconds in pre-recorded shows with the flick of a hotkey (you can configure your own or accept the defaults). Makes it very handy when interrupted at work. There’s a lot more to it than all that. Highly recommended for techgeeks and newbies alike.

today’s show:
01. Kenny Wayne Shepherd - [Ledbetter Heights #07] While We Cry [Live]
02. Rain Dogs - [Lost Souls #00] Dest10
03. Cold Blue Steel - [Headed Out Of Memphis #11] Month Of Sundays
04. Cross Canadian Ragweed - [Live & Loud at Billy Bob's Texas #11] Alright
05. The Art of Noise - [The Seduction of Claude Debussy #06] Rapt: In the Evening Air
06. Robben Ford - [Blues Collection #07] Still a Stranger
07. The Beat Farmers - [Loud, Plowed and...LIVE! #00] 21-King Of Sleaze
08. Preacher Boy - [Preacher Boy & The Natural Blues #12] Hurry Down Some Good Luck
09. Al Di Meola, Paco de Lucia & John McLaughlin - [[The Guitar Trio] #02] Beyond The Mirage
10. Mojo Nixon - [Whereabouts Unknown #13] If I Can Dream


Copy and paste the following into the Foobar2000>Preferences>Display>Title Formatting>Main Window Title field for a handy display of the file currently playing and the “elapsed time/total time”.

$if(%_time_total%,[%_time_elapsed%]' / '[%_time_total%],[%_time_elapsed%])
[%artist% - ]$if(%title%,['['%album%[ #[%disc%/]$num(%tracknumber%,2)]']
']%title%,%_filename_ext%)     '['%_foobar2000_version%']'

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Critiques Of Libertarianism

The Raw Story | Vice President Dick Cheney's
chief of staff Libby indicted

The Raw Story | Vice President Dick Cheney's
chief of staff Libby indicted

Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby has been indicted for five counts by the federal grand jury investigating the outing of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame for perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements to the grand jury, RAW STORY can confirm.

Libby will resign. ABC News, citing a White House source, said his "boxes are packed." According to the New York Daily News, his post will be filled by Cheney's chief counsel David Addington. The announcement will be made at 2 p.m. ET.

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Deconstructing Nation Building

Deconstructing Nation Building

 By James L. Payne

When plunging into war, hope generally triumphs over experience. The past—the quiet statistical tabulation of what happened when this was tried before—tends to be ignored in the heat of angry oratory and the thump of military boots. At the outset, it is easy to believe that force will be successful in upholding virtue and that history has no relevance.

Lately, this confidence in the force of arms has centered on nation building, that is, the idea of invading and occupying a land afflicted by dictatorship or civil war and turning it into a democracy. Alas, in their enthusiasm for nation building by force of arms, neither the theorists nor the practitioners have seriously looked at the historical experience with this kind of policy. If, after the troops leave, another dictatorship or another civil war ensues, then one has ploughed the sea. One has suffered the costs of the invasion—Americans killed, local inhabitants killed, destruction of property, tax money squandered, loss of international support, and so on—to no lasting purpose.

To see how nation building in general works out, I have compiled a list of all the cases since 1850 in which the United States and Great Britain employed military forces in a foreign land to cultivate democracy. I included only those cases where ground troops were deployed and clearly intervened in local politics. I have left aside the cases involving lesser types of involvement such as sending aid or military advisors or limited peacekeeping efforts or simply having military bases in the country.



read the rest:

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Pan Critical Rationalism

Pan Critical Rationalism

One of Bartley's three Metacontexts in his Ecology Of Rationality.

Pan Critical Rationalism sponsors the growth of knowledge aided and abetted by relentless creative and imaginative criticism. This provides a healthy environment for the generation of new ideas and the elimination of error. Some species of thought may not survive easily in this new intellectual econiche while others are likely to flourish and multiply.

Currently, Pancritical Rationalists are people who believe that there is an external reality but that they will never be sure they know it, that no position can be positively justified but it is quite likely that one, (or some) will turn out to be better (closer to reality) than others in the light of critical discussion and tests. This type of rationality holds all its positions and propositions open to criticism.

A standard objection to this stance is that it is empty; just holding our positions open to criticism provides no guidance as to what position we should adopt in any particular situation.

This criticism misses its mark for two reasons:

1. The stance of Pan Critical Rationalism is not a position, it is a metacontext and as such it is not directed at solving the kind of problems that are solved by adopting a position on some issue or other. It is concerned with the way that such positions are adopted, criticised, defended and relinquished.
2. Bartley does provide guidance on adopting positions; we may adopt the position that to this moment has stood up to criticism most effectively. Of course this is no help for dogmatists who seek stronger reasons for belief, but that is a problem for them, not for exponents of Pan Critical Rationalism.

"The new framework permits a rationalist to be characterized as one who is willing to entertain any position and holds all his positions, including his most fundamental standards, goals, and decisions, and his basic philosophical position itself, open to criticism; one who protects nothing from criticism by justifying it irrationally; one who never cuts off an argument by resorting to faith or irrational commitment to justify some belief that has been under severe critical fire; one who is committed, attached, addicted, to no position." [The Retreat To Commitment p118]

Very popular with Extropians apparently.

"The claim that a rationalist need not commit himself even to argument is no claim that he will not or should not have strong convictions on which he is prepared to act. We can assume or be convinced of the truth of something without being committed to its truth." [The Retreat To Commitment p121]

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Yep, another Goddamned blog: Message to Al Gore: Good. Who needs you?

I�m not one for rocking the boat, Lord knows. I�m a humble little Left wing political blogger and just because I call George Bush an intellectual Karen Carpenter and that the GOP�s corruption is about as subtle as a Swedish orgy at an Amish funeral, I am not going to delude myself that I am influential enough to effect any change on Capitol Venture Hill or anywhere else.

Because I am not one to rock the boat.

Al Gore, who instructed the Senate not to raise a stink in the wake of the Three Stooges-run Diebold vaudeville burlesque show of an election, would agree.

But you know, I�ve also never been much for sitting idly by and watching stuffed-shirt, cigar store Indian politicians protect their reputations against charges of partisan bitterness at the expense of the voting rights of their constituency. I�m speaking, of course, of you, Al Gore, leaving Florida�s African-American voters to twist in the wind and hold unsigned petitions asking for an investigation into George Bush and his GOP tribal thugs stealing Florida and making those voters look like shrill fools on CSPAN while you made lame jokes and laughed.
read the rest:
Yep, another Goddamned blog: Message to Al Gore: Good. Who needs you?

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The Limits of Bush's Mind

by Gordon Livingston

President Bush persists in his defense of the policies that have resulted in the decline of his fortunes.

In his recent rehearsed television conversation with 11 soldiers in Iraq, he said, "So long as I'm the president, we're never going to back down, we're never going ... to accept anything less than total victory." Twice he told them that the American people were behind them: "You've got tremendous support here at home." In an Associated Press poll taken in September, over half the public now says the Iraq war was a mistake.

What's happening? Is the man so insulated from the reality of events that he has come to believe his administration's propaganda? Or is there a more ominous and pervasive problem that calls into question something other than political ideology, that is influenced by a world view marked by an inability to reason logically and learn from experience?

The ability to reason accurately is not randomly distributed; some people are better at it than others. Though this is only one form of intelligence, it is an important one, and the lack of it tends to have adverse consequences on one's chances for success at tasks that require good decision-making.

While reason affects our beliefs, the process of correctly perceiving how the world works requires an understanding of the scientific method, and is fundamentally different from religious or philosophical inquiries that are concerned with questions of meaning and faith. When the two ways of thinking become confused, as in the controversy over evolution and "intelligent design," we are engaging in a kind of dialogue of the deaf in which scientific theory is pitted against religious belief.

A 2004 Harris poll on religion is instructive. Ninety percent of adult Americans professed a belief in God. More interesting, half believe in ghosts, nearly one-third believe in astrology and more than one-fourth believe that they were reincarnated from other people. Two-thirds believe in the devil and hell (but very few expect that they will go there themselves).
read the rest:

The Limits of Bush's Mind

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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Gun Industry Buys Bulletproof Political Protection

by Robert Scheer

October 25, 2005 � Maybe it's because I recently was awakened by a volley of gunshots that resulted in the death of an innocent college student � a budding leader in her community � that I am so outraged that Congress has decided to grant the gun lobby its most fervent and irresponsible wish: blanket immunity from civil lawsuits.

That protection, offered to no other industry, was assured last week when the House ratified a bill, previously passed by the Senate, shielding gun manufacturers and retailers from civil lawsuits by the victims of gun violence. The bill, now heading to the president's desk for certain approval, is a reward to the National Rifle Assn. and the rest of the gun industry lobby for doing so much to put the Republican Party in power.

Although the Senate passed the bill with the Bush administration's blessing before Hurricane Katrina, the gun lobby is justifying its victory as a logical response to the breakdown of civil order in the aftermath of the storm.

When "no police protection was available, [New Orleans residents were] defending their lives and their property with a firearm," said NRA leader Wayne LaPierre, who labeled the new legislation a "historic victory for the NRA."

What irony that the NRA once again invoked the 2nd Amendment, which was intended to preserve the states' right to maintain "a well-regulated militia."

The National Guard is the modern incarnation of the state militias that the framers of the Constitution had in mind. Its failure to protect New Orleans had nothing to do with a lack of a lawsuit shield for gun manufacturers and everything to do with this administration depleting the local National Guards through deployment to Iraq while dragging its feet in responding to a natural disaster at home.

Nevertheless, the hurricane has proved a wonderful cover for politicians, including 59 House Democrats, to stay on the right side of the gun lobby and its massive campaign support.
read the rest:
Gun Industry Buys Bulletproof Political Protection

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Biodiversity May Help Slow Disease Spread: Experts

by Alister Doyle

Better protection for the diversity of the planet's creatures and plants could help shield humans from diseases like AIDS, Ebola or bird flu and save billions of dollars in health care costs, researchers said on Tuesday.

They said human disruptions to biodiversity -- from roads through the Amazon jungle to deforestation in remote parts of Africa -- had made people more exposed to new diseases that originate in wildlife.

"Biodiversity not only stores the promise of new medical treatments and cures, it buffers humans from organisms and agents that cause disease," scientists from the Diversitas international group said in a statement.

"Preventing emerging diseases through biodiversity conservation is far more cost effective than developing vaccines to combat them later," it said ahead of a November 9-10 conference of 700 biodiversity experts in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Peter Daszak, a scientist who helped find links between Asian bats and the SARS virus, said the 2003 outbreak of the flu-like disease cost about $50 billion, largely because it cut travel and trade from Asia. About 800 people died.

And AIDS, widely believed to have originated in chimpanzees, killed an estimated 3.1 million people in 2004 and the United Nations estimates that $15 billion will be needed for prevention, treatment and care in 2006 alone.

"Emerging diseases are causing a crisis of public health," Daszak, executive director of the consortium for conservation medicine at the Wildlife Trust, New York, told Reuters.


Diversitas experts urged governments to work out policies to protect biodiversity, including tougher regulations on trade, agriculture and travel to reduce chances that diseases like avian flu can jump from wildlife to people.

"We're not saying that we should lock up nature and throw away the key," said Charles Perrings, a biodiversity expert at Arizona State University. But he said humans should be more careful about disrupting areas of rich biodiversity.

He said diseases had spread from wildlife to humans throughout history but the risks were rising because of the impact of growing human populations on habitats.

The experts said the preservation of a wider range of species could also ease the impact of disease.

A factor helping the spread of Lyme disease in the eastern United States, for instance, was the absence of former predators like wolves or wild cats that once kept down numbers of white-footed mice -- a reservoir of the infection.

Lyme disease was also less of a problem for humans in U.S. states where the ticks that transmit the disease had more potential targets, like lizards or small mammals.

"The value of services provided by nature and its diversity is under-appreciated until they stop," said Anne Larigauderie, executive director of Paris-based Diversitas, a non-government organization.

She said China had to employ people in some regions to pollinate apple orchards because the over-use of pesticides had killed off bees. "It maybe takes 10 people to do the work of two beehives," she told Reuters.

And the Australian gastric brooding frog had once been seen as key for anti-ulcer drugs because it bizarrely incubated its young in its stomach after shutting off digestive acids. It has since become extinct, taking its secrets with it.

Copyright � 2005 Reuters Limited.
Biodiversity May Help Slow Disease Spread: Experts

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Why Bush Is Unimpeachable

Cracks Appear in the Constitution
by Ted Rall

New York -- The phone rings with a blocked caller ID but I know who it is. My friend the film critic has just put down the same article I've just finished reading, a front-page blockbuster in the New York Daily News. It says that George W. Bush knew about Karl Rove's scheme to blow CIA agent Valerie Plame's cover for years, that he was Rove's partner in treason from the start, that his claims of ignorance were lies. The News article is anonymously sourced but we know it's 100 percent true because the White House won't deny that Bush is a traitor.

"So they'll impeach him now, right?"

My friend asked the same thing in 2001 when recounts proved Bush lost Florida, when the 9/11 fetishist admitted that he'd never even tried to catch Osama, when WMDs failed to turn up in Iraq, and when his malignant neglect killed hundreds of Americans in post-Katrina New Orleans.

"This means impeachment. Right?" Wrong.

Any one of Bush's crimes towers over the combined wickedness of Nixon and Clinton. And there are so many to choose from! How many times has Bush "made false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States" (a key count in the Nixon impeachment)?

Stop laughing, you.

Unfortunately for my friend and the United States, impeachment is a political process, not a legal one. Nixon and Clinton faced Congresses controlled by the other party. Because Bush belongs to the same party as the majorities in the House and Senate, nothing he does can get him impeached.

Our failed Constitutional system means we're stuck with this disastrous demagogue for three more years. Gloat now, Republican readers, but party loyalty's stranglehold on impeachment can easily take the form of a complacent Democratic Congress overlooking the misdeeds of a batty Democratic president.
read the rest:
Why Bush Is Unimpeachable

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Paging Dr. Ross

A doctor who defends corporations from "inconvenient" science has a secret of his own.
By Bill Hogan - Mother Jones magazine

When American corporations come up against inconvenient science, say, a study showing that mercury in fish can damage a developing fetus, or that a blockbuster drug has nasty side effects, they call in the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH). Industry-funded ACSH is the most aggressive debunker of pesky research reports emanating from government and academia. Its medical/executive director's calm, soothing voice can be heard on television and radio, quelling public fears about the latest bad news about health and the environment.

That man is Dr. Gilbert Ross. It was Ross who defended the Wood Preservative Science Council, saying that, contrary to reams of scientific evidence, the arsenic in pressure-treated wood poses "no risk to human health"; Ross who wrote on behalf of the farmed-salmon industry that the PCBs in fish "are not a cause of any health risk, including cancer"; and Ross whose organization once asserted that the jury's still out on whether environmental cigarette smoke really is hazardous to your health. Much of his time is spent tarnishing noncorporate-sponsored work as junk science of questionable motive.
read the 'shocking' secret:
Paging Dr. Ross

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Free Windows file manager - VCOM - PowerDesk Standard Edition

A very good file manager, dual pane, lots of features over the regular Windows Explorer. I have purchased the "Pro" version now for over a decade. The added functionality is worth it to me, but you may well be satisfied with the free Standard edition.

Check it out here:
VCOM - PowerDesk Standard Edition

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The Truth (with jokes) Al Franken -

Check out the reviews, especially the negative ones, by folks who haven't even read the book yet!!
Also, a video is on the page that has set all the neocons' & freepers' hair on fire. Hilarious!
(And, no, I am not making one red cent on this link. Damn!)--pseudolus
The Truth (with jokes)

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Steal This Vote

Mother Jones interviews with the author...Andrew Gumbel.

Florida's election meltdown in 2000 was a one-off, a bizarre deviation from the exemplary norm of American democracy. If the fiasco contained a lesson, it was that the old punch card voting machines (of chad fame) were past due for replacement by newer, more efficient electronic models. Or so the conventional wisdom had it at the time.

In reality, the corruption, incompetence, and bare-knuckle partisanship on such vivid display in Florida stood in a long, inglorious American tradition. If there were problems with the voting machines used in 2000�as there undoubtedly were�that was less a cause than a symptom of a much graver malady�the rot at the very core of the United States' electoral system. Swapping out the machines did nothing to remedy this deeper problem, and indeed introduced a whole host of new troubles.

"People have been manipulating and stealing votes more or less since the dawn of the republic," writes Andrew Gumbel, author of the excellent Steal This Vote, a book that, among other things, recounts the eventful history of electoral shenanigans in the United States from the Constitution to the 2004 presidential election. In Gumbel's account, both parties are to blame for creating and sustaining a political environment rife with perverse incentives for fraud, manipulation, and the maintenance of a dysfunctional status quo. And until this culture is fundamentally reformed, he argues, insecure machines, purged voter rolls, missing ballots, unequal access to the polls, and widespread disenfranchisement will remain standard features of U.S. elections.

Gumbel, an award-winning U.S. correspondent for the London Independent, was one of the first journalists to sound the alarm about electronic voting machines. He recently spoke with Mother Jones by phone from his home in southern California.
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Steal This Vote

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The New Yorker: LONE STAR - Kinky Friedman on the campaign trail

Here are a few lessons from modern American music. First, he not busy being born is busy dying. Second, you can't hang a man for killing a woman who is trying to steal your horse. And, third, you come to see what you want to see; you come to see, but you never come to know.

These are good lessons. Bob Dylan provided the first, Willie Nelson the second. The third belongs to Kinky Friedman, who, in the nineteen-seventies, travelled around the country with his country-and-Western band�Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys�annoying audiences with a series of goading, satirical songs with titles like �They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore� and �Asshole from El Paso.� In the eighties, after the band broke up, Kinky reinvented himself as a mystery novelist. In the past twenty years, he has written seventeen mysteries starring a detective named Kinky Friedman�a Jewish cowboy from Texas who has quit a singing career for a life of sleuthing and one-liners in New York City. Today, Dylan and Nelson, whose onstage thrones in the great concert hall of musical divinity were installed decades ago, seem to intend to ride their tour buses forever. Kinky, who never learned to sit still much, has grown tired of his second career�this year, at the age of sixty, he announced that his most recent mystery will be his last�and has sought out a third. He intends to be the governor of Texas.
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The New Yorker: PRINTABLES

visit Kinky's website:
:: Kinky Friedman Official Site :: - News

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Business Climate Hoax

This is why I am not just a Liberal but a Progressive. The only organization big enough to rein in corporations is the Federal government. The bonding of Big Business with Big Givernment is known as Fascism. It is an evil we had hoped to have destroyed 50+ years ago. With this kind of development we can honestly say that the sacrifices of our "Greatest Generation" may have been in vain.
... It's easy enough to say the administration never misses an opportunity to cut taxes and do favors for its big business backers. And that's true. It's also easy enough to point to the influence of right-wing think tanks like the Heritage Foundation in designing the administration's plan. And there's no disputing that, either.

But something more is going on, too -- a decades-long effort to promote the idea that cities and states (and nations, for that matter) will best develop by cutting taxes and providing subsidies to big business.

Greg LeRoy, executive director of Good Jobs First and author of The Great American Job Scam (Berrett-Koehler Press, 2005), shows that these policies are not only unjust, they are unwise.

In The Great American Job Scam, LeRoy, whose organization has led the way in trying to counter the business climate ideology, provides case study after case study of corporate rip-offs of communities and states. One example is Marriott's leveraging of a threat to locate its headquarters in Virginia to extract more than $50 million in gifts from Maryland -- even though the company had already decided to build its new headquarters in Maryland, where it was already located. Another is Dell Computer's finagling of a roughly $250 million subsidy package from North Carolina -- as an incentive to invest $100 million to $115 million in the state. The Louisiana Coalition for Tax Justice found that, over the course of the 1980s, Louisiana granted $2.5 billion in property tax exemptions, nearly a billion of which would have gone to schools in the state.

States and cities do not get much in return for these donations to the corporate coffer, which is part of what makes them so flawed as development policy. LeRoy shows how blind faith, bad negotiating and illusory promises leave local and state government officials with little or no guarantee that new and permanent jobs will be created.
read the whole damn thing:
The Business Climate Hoax

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King Straggler (2005)

Yowzah! Got this album when I bought The Farmers latest "Loaded", and needed to pad out the order. And I'm dang glad I did. It is a nice roots-rock disk that really slays me. A fine companion to the aforementioned "Loaded". A gritty and sometimes humorous batch of ditties that roll around in my head nicely for a while after a listen. --pseudolus
read more about it here:

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Student's deployment brings home Iraq war to Bowdoin College campus

Most disgusting "Young GOP" moment ever...

Others on campus, particularly his political opponents in the Bowdoin College Republicans, feel differently about his service. Daniel Schuberth, a leader of the Bowdoin College Republicans and College Republican national secretary, said, "I applaud Mr. Houx for his service, just as I applaud any other soldier who is brave enough to take up arms in defense of his country. I find it troubling, however, that one of the most vocal opponents of our president, our country and our mission in Iraq has chosen to fight for a cause he claims is wrong. Mr. Houx's rhetoric against the war on terror places him in agreement with the most radical fringes of the Democratic Party, and I am left to question his logic and motivation."


Hey, shit-for-brains, it's called living up to his duty. He commited long before there was a war and now he is laying his butt on the line, like he said he would. That's something you "Yellow Elephants" and "Keyboard Kommandos" will never understand. You let the truth about Seargeant Tilman throw you off, too.

Get out of your jammies and into some cammies, you pimple faced GOPtard. You love this Preznit and His GWOT so much, go fight it for him, don't let a treasonous "LIE-beral" show you how it's done. Come on, rally your fellow bedwetters of the "82nd Chairborne" and scrape together a couple of battalions to march off to kill them "sand niggers" you hate so much.

No, you won't. Like your hero "chickenhawk" Dick Cheney, you have 'other priorities', like earning your MBA so you can screw America out of some big green. Let someone else fight your beloved war.

Chickenhawk? More like chicken shit, I say.
read the whole piece:
The Times Record News

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Remote Control Device 'Controls' Humans - Yahoo! News

ATSUGI, Japan - We wield remote controls to turn things on and off, make them advance, make them halt. Ground-bound pilots use remotes to fly drone airplanes, soldiers to maneuver battlefield robots.

But manipulating humans?

Prepare to be remotely controlled. I was.

Just imagine being rendered the rough equivalent of a radio-controlled toy car.
Remote Control Device 'Controls' Humans - Yahoo! News

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Windfall Profits Tax Needed

by Amy F. Isaacs

Everyone should be particularly careful in the aftermath of disaster. There are shady characters who would use the vulnerability present in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita to take advantage of a devastating situation for their own gain.

You may think that describes street thugs or seedy Internet scammers, but the lion's share of looting and con-artistry is coming from political, ideological and corporate special interests. They are supported by our own government, with White House and congressional leaders joining forces with their supporters to cash in on disaster.

They look at disaster and see the opportunity to further their long-term goals, often at the expense of those hardest hit -- the poor who are now homeless and jobless.

The lifting of labor laws protecting wages, the removal of diversity in government contract acquisition, the introduction of a private-school voucher program, oil company profiteering and potential devastating budget-cutting proposals are but a few examples of the rush to fulfill a reactionary agenda.

Outside of the government, the multinational conglomerates that control most of the oil and gas industry here in the United States, as well as around the world, have been among the greatest offenders.

According to figures reported in The Washington Post and attributed to the financial reports from the first quarter of 2005, crude oil producers enjoyed a nearly 50 percent increase in profits since the first quarter of 2004, while oil and gas refiners realized profits of more than 250 percent of those recorded in the first quarter of 2004. Those figures represent profits, not income.
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Windfall Profits Tax Needed

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Weaponsgate is a Media Scandal

by Jeff Cohen

I admit it: I'm gleeful about the White House scandal, as indictments appear imminent. These last days have been some of the happiest since Team Bush seized power 57 months ago. It couldn't happen to a more reckless bunch of bullies-- who launched one of the most disastrous wars in history.

It's traditional in elite punditry to grouse about how such a scandal hurts our country or our image abroad. I take a different view: If the White House is demoralized and paralyzed, our country and world can breathe easier.

But there's a special reason this scandal is so personally satisfying to me as a media critic. It's because elite journalism is on trial. Powerful journalists are playing the role usually played in these scandals by besieged White House operatives. They're in the witness dock. It's a New York Times reporter who is failing to recall key facts...mysteriously locating misplaced documents...being leaned on to synchronize alibis.

Elite journalism is at the center of Weaponsgate, and it can't extricate itself from the scandal. Because, at its core, Weaponsgate (or, if you're in a hurry, "Wargate") is about how the White House and media institutions jointly sold a war based on deception -- and how the White House turned to these media institutions to neutralize a war critic who challenged the deception.
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Weaponsgate is a Media Scandal

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Monday, October 24, 2005

Talking About Testicles and Toughness, Instead of Actually Having Those Things

by David Sirota

Sometimes you have to just sit back and laugh when Washington elites bloviate about how brilliant they are - even though their behavior has landed their party in a permanent minority status. One of those times is today if you read the new Rolling Stone piece on Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL).

As chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), Emanuel is billed as one of the key figures in the battle for control of Congress in 2006. The article repeatedly trumpets Emanuel's "toughness" and supposedly hard-nosed nature - with Emanuel's friends from the Clinton administration echoing that sentiment. "He's got this big old pair of brass balls, and you can just hear 'em clanking when he walks down the halls of Congress," says Paul Begala, as just one example.

It's certainly true, Emanuel and his pals talk the talk. "We're the party of change," Emanuel says. "We're the party of a new direction." The DLC's Bruce Reed - another guy who has made a long career driving Democrats into the ground - says Emanuel "understands how much ideas matter, he always knows his message, he takes no prisoners and he only plays to win."

Out here in Red America, we live in a place seemingly unknown to people like this in Washington: it's called reality. And we have a name for talk like that: it's called B.S. Because here's what Emanuel never seems to answer: how is someone "tough" if they are so wimpy as to refuse to push their party to take clear contrasting positions on the most important issues facing America? What "ideas" that matter is Emanuel proposing? What position on key issues shows Democrats really represent serious "change" from Republicans? And are Democrats like Emanuel so arrogant/elitist to think that the American public doesn't inherently understand that all this rhetoric hides the fact that the party still is afraid of its own shadow?
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Talking About Testicles and Toughness, Instead of Actually Having Those Things

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Delphi's Message to Workers: Using Bankruptcy Court to Trim Labor Rights

by John Jordan

One by one, America's great industrial unions are being defanged. Where once presidents of these unions could march into the White House and leave with a pledge by President Kennedy to end a strike on favorable terms, they are now sitting in federal bankruptcy court watching as unelected judges rip their contracts to shreds.

The first union to be "broken" in this way was the United Steelworkers of America (USWA). In 2002 and '03, the global steel industry was in crisis; every major American steel company was insolvent or nearly so. The USWA worked with management to save certain companies through wage-and-benefit cuts and elimination of some work rules. The steel companies' pension obligations were shifted to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, run and guaranteed by the federal government.

The union cut the best deals it could for its members, but its overarching goal became working to ensure corporate profitability. For all practical purposes, the once mighty steelworkers' union is now a management subsidiary.
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Delphi's Message to Workers: Using Bankruptcy Court to Trim Labor Rights

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Desperation Deal at GM

by Robert Kuttner

The United Autoworkers union has agreed to save General Motors over a billion dollars a year in health insurance costs. This is a disguised pay-cut, since workers will now pay more out of pocket for their healthcare.

The union agreed to this desperation deal to help keep GM alive. The once-dominant auto-maker posted a record $1.1 billion loss in the third quarter; and its former parts division, Delphi, with 34,000 union jobs, has just gone into bankruptcy. If and when it emerges, Delphi's $26-an-hour workers will be cut to something like $12. That gets your attention.

The union leadership was so eager to help GM survive that the UAW filed an unusual suit intended to block its own union retirees from challenging the negotiated health-benefit cuts. Now Ford has just reported a $284 million third-quarter loss, and wants the same kind of deal the UAW gave GM.

Even with these concessions, the industry that once was the core of America's blue-collar middle class is continuing its downward spiral, cutting jobs and cutting the pay and benefits of the workers that remain. General Motors, which a generation ago had about half a million union workers, will soon be down to 84,000.

But it would be a mistake to conclude that high wages or excess health benefits are bankrupting US industry. Look at our competitors. Japanese labor costs in the auto industry are comparable to American ones and German wages are far higher.

There are, however, two offsetting differences. First, the Japanese and Germans are ahead technologically and have a knack for making reliable cars that consumers want to buy. Second, their healthcare is financed socially.
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Desperation Deal at GM

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The Most Important Criminal Case in American History

by James Moore

If special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald delivers indictments of a few functionaries of the vice president�s office or the White House, we are likely to have on our hands a constitutional crisis. The evidence of widespread wrongdoing and conspiracy is before every American with a cheap laptop and a cable television subscription. And we do not have the same powers of subpoena granted to Fitzgerald.

We know, however, based upon what we have read and seen and heard that someone created fake documents related to Niger and Iraq and used them as a false pretense to launch America into an invasion of Iraq. And when a former diplomat made an honest effort to find out the facts, a plan was hatched to both discredit and punish him by revealing the identity of his undercover CIA agent wife.
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The Most Important Criminal Case in American History

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Puzzle of the penguin trek parable

Just more evidence that one tends to see what one wants to see. --pseudolus
click here

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FBI Papers Indicate Intelligence Violations

Why politicians go bananas

By Chris Williams
Published Friday 21st October 2005 13:46 GMT
American scholars have blamed the woes of the world on the primate in all of us.
A paper in the Chicago Kent Law Review say that government decisions in crisis situations are directed by the primitive inner brain. The paper was produced by a lawyer and a psychologist, who obviously know what they're talking about.

Lawmakers rushing into making hot-headed judgments lies at the heart of the problem, they say. The response to September 11 is a prime example of "Emote control" - tight security at airports is meant to save lives, but instead causes more people to drive rather than fly and so causes more deaths.
Professor Jules Lobel notes: "Fear is a particularly strong emotion, impervious to reason."
The more complex deliberative system evolved in humans so we could weigh up the long-term consequences of our actions. Moderate levels of negative emotions warn the higher brain that its slower, more reasoned powers will be required. Intensifying fear or anger will soon take over though, kicking in the faster responding primitive brain, as the paper's co-author Professor George Lowenstein explains: "One may realize the what the best course of action is but find one's self doing the opposite."
It?s not all bad though, the researchers credit emotional decision-making for putting a man on the moon, vanquishing Hitler and, er, reducing air pollution.
Emotions are also more vulnerable to manipulation by marketers, since they are attuned to respond to novelty, and visual stimulus. I'm off to order a video iPod.�

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Sunday, October 23, 2005

Brother Consolmagno's Cosmogonic Space Sheep Earth Ranch

Heh heh, read this commentary on the latest from the Vatican. --pseudolus
ET lives . . . and he's Christian!
The Times, UK, Ruth Gledhill, Oct. 18, 2005

There is probably intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe, and there is evidence in the Bible to suggest that it could be Christian, according to the Roman Catholic Church.

In a document published by the Catholic Truth Society, the official publisher for the Vatican, a papal astronomer speculates that �sooner or later, the human race will discover that there are other intelligent creatures out there in the Universe�.
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farm runoff...: Brother Consolmagno's Cosmogonic Space Sheep Earth Ranch

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The Farmers - Loaded (now updated with my review)

I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet, but I wanted to get this posted before I forget. Amazon has a listing and says it won't be available until Nov. 15. You can go to the link below and buy it right now from Miles Of Music, if you can't wait. --pseudolus

In 1984, Billboard tagged The Beat Farmers "the best American band to come down the pike since Creedence." More recently, No Depression said they "meshed together with grit and nerve every good style of American music with greater versatility than The Blasters or Rank & File." Well, after 20 years founding members Buddy Blue, Jerry Raney and Rolle Love have finally reunited (under the abbreviated name The Farmers) to record a new album of chooglin` country rock, throbbin` swamp blues and meltdown psychedelia. Loaded is a big rockin` record that covers a lot of musical territory, yet is bound together by their un-douse-able spirit. When not exploring the twangier side of life, The Farmers are tilling other musical soil on this collection of songs by both Raney and Blue. For instance, the Faces-esque jangle pop of "Impressed" leads into the harder edged, Ventures-inspired "Sunbeam Lake", which in turn precedes the gospel-tinged "Watchin` The River". They haven`t lost their zany edge either, and with songs such as "Lost In My Car", "Uncle Stinky" and "Beans `N` Weenies" how could you not believe it. (Clarence Records)
to order now:

OK, I got this in my hot little hands and I must say I am not disappointed in the least. Well, I miss Country Dick, and there is no way to replace him, so, yes, I am just the teeniest bit disappointed. But I knew he wouldn't be on here, and I was still willing to fork over the simoleons.

Country Dick was a big part of the Beat Framers' sound and live show, but he was never the whole of it. I was lucky enough to be one of the few who ever got to see the boys on a rare trip to Maine at the now defunct Tree Cafe. A truly appropriate venue for them. I sat front row in the balcony of that tiny club and I could have almost knocked Country Dick's hat off his head, it was that intimate. And the stairway to the balcony was in easy reach for Dick, so he could run up the steps during 'California Kid' ("She dragged me upstairs by my lower lip"). He jumped up on the railing at the top and teetered precariously above our heads for a few bars before heading back down. He tripped on the bottom step, slid to the stage sprawled on his back, leapt to his feet and finished without missing a note.

Jerry Raney is still the world's most underrated guitarist (IMHO) and he smokes on this cd. Buddy Blue contributes as he did on a few early BF albums, he's no slouch on the guitar himself. Rolle keeps things chugging along admirably on bass, and 'newcomer' Joel Kmak bangs the skins as well as Dick ever did. All in all, it is another great addition to any Beat Farmers fan's collection.

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JREF - "Swift" for October 21, 2005

The latest JREF "Swift" is online and available at the link below.

Commentary, October 21, 2005

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Think Progress � Miers�s Integrity In Question

Something that was hammered on repeatedly during the run up to the Clinton impeachment and for quite a while afterwards by the repuglicans: "Character matters!"

So, what do you think of the character of this Bush nominee?
Does it matter? --pseudolus

read here:
Think Progress � Miers�s Integrity In Question

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