Best Viewed with IE or Opera. Sorry, Firefox works, but loses some sidebar layout,
'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, December 03, 2005

Spock v Ann

Posted by Picasa

You know, it is just coincidence that I put this pic up and then came across this wingnut site praising Ann's latest column. It fits and the synchronicity couldn't be greater.---pseudolus

from "RANTING RIGHT WING HOWLER" (I am not making this up.)

I almost didn't read her column as I have so much to catch up on but I am glad I did.

She accurately describes all that I feel about our craven Republican Congress-critters especially over what they recently engaged in vis-a-vis John Murtha. Damn near all of them would preface anything they said about him with some ass-kissing tribute to his "service."

An example:
I don't know what Republicans imagine they're getting out of all this love they keep throwing at Democrats. I've never heard a single liberal preface attacks on Oliver North with a recitation of North's magnificent service as a Marine. And unlike Murtha, who refuses to release his medical records showing he was entitled to his two Purple Hearts, we know what North did.[see what North is like here--pseudolus]

Here's another:
We also know what Rep. Randy Cunningham, R-Calif., did to earn his medals. One of only two American Navy aces that the Vietnam War produced, Cunningham shot down five MiGs, three in one day, including a North Vietnamese pilot with 13 American kills. Cunningham never did something as insane as proposing that we withdraw troops in the middle of a war, but this week he did admit to taking bribes.

And yet, no Democrat breathed a word of Cunningham's unquestioned heroism before rushing to denounce him as "the latest example of the culture of corruption"? in the words of Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

And another:

Sen. Teddy Kennedy didn't issue a 20-minute soliloquy on what a wonderful man Judge Robert Bork was as a human being before attacking his judicial philosophy. Kennedy just laid into Bork like he was George Lincoln Rockwell.
Maybe the point was that Democrats were trying to establish Murtha's 'bona fides' for being taken seriously in his opinion and weren't just trotting out his CV to pull on America's heart strings and play people like little violins of pity. Maybe they aren't so used to whipping out the flag and rolling themselves and their heros in it to cover up and protect them from criticism of any kind. But that's what wingnuts do and it's the first thing they think others are doing or should be doing. Oh, yeah, and just maybe they aren't into highlighting the shame these criminals brought on their associated services, something this clown obviously doesn't think or care about. Murtha did not shame the Marine Corps with his proposal, but Ollie and Duke-stir certainly shamed the uniforms they wore and the men they served with.

She caps it all off with this:
The only Republican congressman who did not offer to have sex with John Murtha on the House floor was Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio. While debating Murtha's own proposal to withdraw American troops from Iraq in the middle of a war waged to depose a monstrous dictator who posed a threat to American national security, Schmidt made the indisputably true remark that Marines don't cut and run. (She was right! Murtha voted against his own proposal.)
Schmidt was not "debating" anything. Debate does not include ad hominem attacks on one's opponents especially on the House floor. Especially by a freshman congressmen against a highly respected senior member. Especially when said freshman promised she would behave in only the most honorable way in her term of office. Debate should also not include making up lies attributed to one's contituents and their claimed concerns as she did about Rep. Bbup back home. Oh, and Murtha didn't vote against his own proposal, which was to draw down troops over the next 6 months and not immediate withdrawal as proposed in the staged vote. By the way Pretzel-nit Bush himself announced this week that it was his plan to do just what Murtha so 'controversially' proposed.

And the topper of all toppers:
If Republicans were one-tenth as rough with the congressman who wants to withdraw troops in the middle of a war as they are on a congresswoman who calls it cowardly to withdraw troops in the middle of a war, we might have a functioning Republican Party.

Geez, the pity party again. "Poor us! We don't get no respect!" They only have contrived to take over the three branches of government. They wield power only dreamed of before in American history. And yet, they have a non-functioing party. Why? Because they haven't herded all the brown people, all the Lie-berals, all the gays into concentration camps? Because the U.S. treasury still holds money that should rightly be sitting in numbered accounts in the Cayman Islands? Because the Bible is not yet the Law of the Land?

GAWD, she's one hot lady! And still single! I'd love to change that!

Oh. Retch. You can have her, buddy!

UPDATE! 12-04-2005 2:32pm
Steve Gilliard has a good post that he picks up from Nitpicker. The comments there are also very informative be sure to read them!
click here

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

The Missing Thirteenth Amendment

An interesting bit of history I stumbled upon. Recommended reading if you are so inclined. Please comment if you find any problems with it. --pseudolus

The Missing Thirteenth Amendment
David M. Dodge, Researcher
Date 08/01/91


In the winter of 1983, archival research expert David Dodge, and former Baltimore police investigator Tom Dunn, were searching for evidence of government corruption in public records stored in the Belfast Library on the coast of Maine.
By chance, they discovered the library's oldest authentic copy of the Constitution of the United States (printed in 1825). Both men were stunned to see this document included a Thirteenth Amendment that no longer appears on current copies of the Constitution. Moreover, after studying the Amendment's language and historical context, they realized that the principal intent of this "missing" Thirteenth Amendment was to prohibit Attorneys of the Bar Associations from serving in government as an "elite" class, i.e., lawyers holding membership in a society with a charter that creates special privileges for the them. The Founders experience was that such men always have divided loyalties and conflict of interest.

read on:
13th Amendment

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Brad DeLong says: Donald Luskin is the Stupidest Man Alive

A correspondent asks me if it isn't time to surf on over again to Donald Luskin's "Poor and Stupid" website, find some egregious offense against intelligent thought, and lay down another marker saying that Luskin is indeed the "Stupidest Man Alive"TM, just in case there's somebody out on the internet searching for information on Luskin who doesn't already know.

Go! Read it all including the comments where there are some articles posted worth your time. Read how the the wingnuts like to manipulate numbers and "facts" to push the narrative their way. Learn how easy it is to bamboozle the illiterate and innumerate and see why the education of our citizens is not a major concern for them unless it is to reintroduce Xtianity back into the public schools.

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Friday, December 02, 2005

Dilbert Blog: Intelligent Design Part 3

go read the post if you will, link is above. I tried to comment and have faile dto register twice, so I will comment here, for what it's worth. One of the latest commenters Taras
needed a refutation, so here is what I attempted to post:

...Nor is it necessary that the Intelligent Designer be a deity; that human evolution was tampered with by an "elder race" is a common science fiction theme.


Oh, geez! So, science fiction is what you resort to? You aren't explaining anything with that ruse. You are merely being coy and trying to distract from the real purpose of ID and that is to put Christianity back in the public schools.

Where did the aliens come from? Did they evolve or were they created? You are only adding another level of complication to a problem that you are supposed to be simplifying.

Where did God come from? Did it evolve or was it created? If it can be uncaused why can't the universe be uncaused?

"It's aliens all the way up!" /snark


PZ Myers' take on the Scott Adams' ID series: (Beware! It be talk like a pirate day there. Arrr!)
click here

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Some Uncomfortable Findings for Wal-Mart

At a gathering sponsored by the retailer, economists will present studies of the giant's economic impact -- not all with flattering results

Is Wal-Mart good or bad for the U.S. economy? A group of economists is attempting to answer that question. And the surprise is that the economists' studies, which aren't all complimentary to Wal-Mart (WMT ), are to be presented at a Nov. 4 conference sponsored by the giant retailer itself.

read it all here:
click here

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Friday Night Foobar Blogging

"That'll do, pig. That'll do."

0001. Social Distortion - [Prison Bound #07] On My Nerves [4:24]
0002. Nazareth - [Loud 'n' Proud (Remastered) #03] Turn On Your Receiver [3:19]
0003. Walter Trout Band - [Transition #08] Playing With Gloves On [4:15]
0004. They Might Be Giants - [They Got Lost [Rarities] #03] On the Drag [2:18]
0005. Infected Mushroom - [Converting_Vegetarians #03] Drop Out [5:15]
0006. Pink Floyd - [Ummagumma #02] Sysyphus Part II [3:27]
0007. Loreena McKennitt - [A Winter Garden #05] Seeds Of Love [4:55]
0008. Jason and the Scorchers - [Thunder and Fire] When The Angels Cry [4:12]
0009. Hem - [Rabbit Songs #06] Leaving Me Here [3:50]
0010. Elmore James - [The Sky Is Crying - The History Of Elmore James [Rhino] #07] My Best Friend [3:21]
update: Social Distortion tune set me off and I actually played a few more of their tunes before returning to the lineup above. Did a quick search of the web and found the following article/interview:


>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Daily Kos: Last Night, In the Newsroom

Suspicious Character

The Growing Problem of Defense Industry Profiteering

If you thought it impossible to top the image of Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-CA) driving around a Rolls Royce and living on a yacht thanks to defense industry cash, just stop and take a look Lloyd Grove's story today in the New York Daily News. Yes, you are reading it right – a defense contractor has gotten so rich off taxpayer cash he actually held a $10 million bat mitzvah for his daughter, featuring 50 Cent, Tom Petty and Aerosmith, among others. That's right - a $10 million. On a bat mitzvah.

What do the Cunningham and $10 million bat mitzvah stories have to do with each other? In their own ways, they each touch on a subject that we rarely ever discuss in America: defense industry profiteering.

We hear a lot out of Washington about how we need to cut programs for the poor and middle class, in order to deal with the deficit or finance new tax cuts. The rhetoric makes it seem as if these programs are the real culprit driving our country into oceans of red ink.

But a quick look at the numbers shows that it is defense/security spending that is soaring, while non-defense discretionary spending has been flat. For a more local view of how most of your tax dollars go to defense and not "social programs," just see this 2005 study by the National Priorities Project.

To be sure - there has been a real need to shift more resources into homeland security and other specialized programs targeting terrorists. But few can argue that the stink of defense industry profiteering hasn't been wafting out of Washington since the Bush administration took over. We've heard countless stories of private defense companies with connections to the Bush administration pocketing multi-billion dollar contracts and then overcharging our government. We've seen sweetheart deals that have raised the ire of nonpartisan watchdogs. And now, with Cunningham, we've gotten a glimpse at the pay-to-play auction that is going on the Defense Appropriations Committees. Even many necessary defense programs get sucked into this profiteering net, with defense contractors charging exorbitant prices for their goods/services (for instance, the $10 million bat mitzvah sponsor produces armor - but having that much cash means there's likely more going on there than just "doing well by doing good").

Most politicians of both parties are either too bought off, or too frightened of being labeled "weak" to even talk about defense industry profiteering. They simply throw more and more money at the defense industry, with almost no regard as to whether what we are spending money on will actually help us effectively shore up our national security in a 21st century where we face unconventional threats. They are rewarded with huge campaign contributions from a politically well-connected defense industry swimming in cash.

But while politicians may be too corrupt or too pathetically wimpy to address defense spending seriously, former Reagan Pentagon official Larry Korb notes that there's one group of people who clearly support a major reevaluation of defense spending: the vast majority of Americans. As Korb notes:

"[A] survey conducted by the Program for International Policy Alternatives shows that 65 percent of the American public believes the federal government should transfer tax dollars out of several areas of the defense budget that have nothing to do with fighting the global war on terrorism."

And Korb points out there are ways to immediately start seeing savings - savings that could be put either into more important national security priorities, or other pressing priorities altogether:

"Over $40 billion in savings from wasteful Pentagon programs could be achieved quickly – by cutting only the most egregious examples of misplaced priorities. These programs include the F-22 Raptor fighter jet and Virginia Class submarines, designed to achieve superiority over Soviet jets and submarines that were never built; missile defense, proposed when terrorists were not our primary enemy; bases in Asia, Europe and here at home that are irrelevant in today's geopolitical reality."

Before anyone tries to paint these facts with the pathetically hackneyed "weak on national security" brush, remember - it was none other than neoconservative poster boy Donald Rumsfeld who recently advocated for military "transformation" - including major cuts to outdated weapons systems that contractors were getting fat off of.

And though Rumsfeld has since backed off his efforts, the Cunningham fiasco and the fact that a defense contractor has $10 million to throw around on a bat mitzvah should remind us that the defense industry is getting hugely wealthy off of America's misguided national security policy - a policy that allows defense industry profiteering to go on with no restriction, a policy clearly pushed by this industry as a way to make more money.

Whereas in eras past, courageous leaders like Harry Truman opened up investigations into this kind of profiteering, today, lawmakers go out of their way to actually prevent scrutiny. Remember, it was the Senate last year that voted down legislation to create stiffer penalties for war profiteers, and it was Vice President Cheney who went to the Senate floor to curse off the bill's sponsors for having the nerve to even raise the issue.

When will it end? When lawmakers of both parties start putting America's national security concerns over the concerns of their defense industry campaign donors. In an era where every politician wants to be "pro-national security" - allowing defense industry profiteering is exactly the opposite. It drains resources away from the programs that actually protect our troops but have been underfunded, and it undermines a more effective 21st century defense policy that would better protect America.

UPDATE: Joe Bua points out that the defense contractor whose owner held a $10 million bat mitzvah actually produced potentially defective products that may unnecessarily have put our troops in harms way.

David Sirota is a writer and veteran political strategist. He just completed a book for Random House's Crown Publishers entitled "Hostile Takeover" - it will be released in the Spring of 2006. Sirota is currently the co-chairperson of the Progressive Legislative Action Network (PLAN). - a position he took after finishing a two-year stint at the Center for American Progress. Sirota is currently a Senior Editor at In These Times magazine, and a regular contributor to The Nation magazine. He is also a twice-weekly guest on the Al Franken Show.

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

"...They can then spend their time in prison reading Clausewitz and Sun Tzu."

Interview with Martin van Creveld

When you talk about military history and strategy, you can't help but cite Dr. Martin van Creveld, author of such notable works as The Transformation of War and Supplying War: Logistics from Wallenstein to Patton. He has written 17 books so far and is a professor at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, where he has been teaching since 1971.

According to Dr. Chet Richards, van Creveld's Fighting Power was among the late Col. John Boyd's favorites. Any book worthy of John Boyd's attention is worthy enough for any serious student of strategy.

His book The Transformation of War tells us of fourth generation warfare (4GW) -- not the term he used but that�s what it is. Richards wrote, "Van Creveld has seen the future, and you won't like it: It's non-trinitarian, non-Clausewitzian, and probably not winnable by organized state armies." In other words, more like the world Sun Tzu competed in. Martin van Creveld, then, is not only a foremost thinker of warfare's history but also of its future.

As you will see in our interview with him, he did not mince words with us. And we wouldn't want it any other way. When we informed him of a news article about how Bush officials bristle at the suggestion the war in Iraq looks like Vietnam, he replied, "Well, let them do some bristling. These people should be impeached, tried and punished for misleading the American people into a senseless war. They can then spend their time in prison reading Clausewitz and Sun Tzu." Whether you agree or disagree, Martin van Creveld's words have substance and are not mere conjecture. Dismiss them at our nation's peril.

To read more about Dr. van Creveld and his works, go to Google's scholar feature. Enjoy the interview!
read it here:

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

"...They can then spend their time in prison reading Clausewitz and Sun Tzu."

Interview with Martin van Creveld

When you talk about military history and strategy, you can't help but cite Dr. Martin van Creveld, author of such notable works as The Transformation of War and Supplying War: Logistics from Wallenstein to Patton. He has written 17 books so far and is a professor at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, where he has been teaching since 1971.

According to Dr. Chet Richards, van Creveld's Fighting Power was among the late Col. John Boyd's favorites. Any book worthy of John Boyd's attention is worthy enough for any serious student of strategy.

His book The Transformation of War tells us of fourth generation warfare (4GW) -- not the term he used but that�s what it is. Richards wrote, "Van Creveld has seen the future, and you won't like it: It's non-trinitarian, non-Clausewitzian, and probably not winnable by organized state armies." In other words, more like the world Sun Tzu competed in. Martin van Creveld, then, is not only a foremost thinker of warfare's history but also of its future.

As you will see in our interview with him, he did not mince words with us. And we wouldn't want it any other way. When we informed him of a news article about how Bush officials bristle at the suggestion the war in Iraq looks like Vietnam, he replied, "Well, let them do some bristling. These people should be impeached, tried and punished for misleading the American people into a senseless war. They can then spend their time in prison reading Clausewitz and Sun Tzu." Whether you agree or disagree, Martin van Creveld's words have substance and are not mere conjecture. Dismiss them at our nation's peril.

To read more about Dr. van Creveld and his works, go to Google's scholar feature. Enjoy the interview!
read it here:

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Even Supporters Doubt President as Issues Pile Up

Published on Saturday, November 26, 2005 by the New York Times
by Katie Zezima

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Nov. 22 - Leesa Martin never considered President Bush a great leader, but she voted for him a year ago because she admired how he handled the terrorist attacks of 2001.

Then came the past summer, when the death toll from the war in Iraq hit this state particularly hard: 16 marines from the same battalion killed in one week. She thought the federal government should have acted faster to help after Hurricane Katrina. She was baffled by the president's nomination of Harriet E. Miers, a woman she considered unqualified for the Supreme Court, and disappointed when he did not nominate another woman after Ms. Miers withdrew.

And she remains unsettled by questions about whether the White House leaked the name of a C.I.A. agent whose husband had accused the president of misleading the country about the intelligence that led to the war.

"I don't know if it's any one thing as much as it is everything," said Ms. Martin, 49, eating lunch at the North Market, on the edge of downtown Columbus. "It's kind of snowballed."

Her concerns were echoed in more than 75 interviews here and across the country this week, helping to explain the slide in the president's approval and trustworthiness ratings in recent polls.

Many people who voted for Mr. Bush a year ago had trouble pinning their current discontent on any one thing. Many mentioned the hurricane and the indictment of a top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, which some said raised doubts about the president's candor and his judgment. But there was a sense that something had veered off course in the last few months, and the war was the one constant. Over and over, even some of Mr. Bush's supporters raised comparisons with Vietnam.

"We keep hearing about suicide bombers and casualties and never hear about any progress being made," said Dave Panici, 45, a railroad conductor from Bradley, Ill. "I don't see an end to it; it just seems relentless. I feel like our country is just staying afloat, just treading water instead of swimming toward somewhere."

Mr. Panici voted for President Bush in 2004, calling it "a vote for security." "Now that a year has passed, I haven't seen any improvement in Iraq," he said. "I don't feel that the world is a safer place."

A USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll in mid-November found that 37 percent of Americans approved of Mr. Bush, the lowest approval rating the poll had recorded in his presidency. That was down from 55 percent a year ago and from a high of 90 percent shortly after Sept. 11, 2001.

An Associated Press/Ipsos poll earlier in the month found the same 37 percent approval rating and recorded the president's lowest levels regarding integrity and honesty: 42 percent of Americans found him honest, compared with 53 percent at the beginning of this year.

Several of those interviewed said that in the last year they had come to believe that Mr. Bush had not been fully honest about the intelligence that led to the war, which he said showed solid evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

"I think people put their faith in Bush, hoping he would do the right thing," said Stacey Rosen, 38, a stay-at-home mother in Boca Raton, Fla., who said she voted for Mr. Bush but was "totally disappointed" in him now. "Everybody cannot believe that there hasn't been one shred of evidence of W.M.D. I think it goes to show how they tell us what they want to tell us."

Mark Briggs, who works for Nationwide Insurance here, said he did not want to believe that the president "manipulated" intelligence leading the country into war, but believed that, at least, Mr. Bush had misread it.

Still, however much he may disagree with Mr. Bush's policies, Mr. Briggs said, he admires the president for standing by what he says.

"There is the notion of leadership and sticking with the plan, which I believe in," he said. "George Bush is clear and consistent. He made a tough decision to go to war - and others voted for it, too. And I think he's right: those people may be trying to rewrite history."

Kacey Wilson, 32, eating lunch with Ms. Martin, said she, too, had concerns about the death toll from the war, but she felt that Mr. Bush spoke the truth, even if it might not be what the country wanted to hear. "I like his cut-and-dry, take-no-prisoners style," Ms. Wilson said. "I think people are used to more spinning."

Others, though, saw arrogance in that approach.

"We need to not be so stubborn," said Vicky Polka, 58, a retired school principal in Statesboro, Ga., who voted for Mr. Bush and described her support for him as "waning." "Something's not going right here. We need to resolve this. I hate to say it, but I think Iraq is going the way of Vietnam."

Few people said they were following the leak scandal, which led to the indictment of I. Lewis Libby Jr., Mr. Cheney's former aide. Some who could cite main characters and events dismissed it as little more than political theater. Even fewer said they had paid attention to other scandals preoccupying Washington: the indictment of Representative Tom DeLay, the powerful Texas Republican, and the guilty plea by his former spokesman.

But several people said that the leak scandal had left them with the sense that the president was not leveling with the public about his involvement.

"He has to give us more information," said Phil Niemie, 51, an elementary school principal eating lunch with his family in Columbus. "The longer it goes without closure, it begins to trigger those Nixon Watergate years. I felt the same way with Clinton."

But for Mr. Niemie, who voted for Mr. Bush, and others, the leak scandal raised the biggest doubts about Vice President Cheney.

"A lot of problems tie back to some of Cheney's shenanigans," Ms. Martin said. "It just seems like he could have done better for vice president the second time around."

In Atlanta, Selena Smith, a director at an advertising agency, echoed others when she said she thought too much time had already been spent on the investigation.

"The war is more important to me now," said Ms. Smith, 46. "What's the plan? Give us something to hang our teeth on. What's really top of mind for me is how many people are getting killed across the creek, and how are we going to get them home?"

Here in Ohio, the most hotly contested state in the 2004 election, the heavy toll on a local Marine battalion had played out on television and in newspapers throughout the summer's end, and the majority of two dozen people interviewed here said they wanted to see the troops come home.

Some, though, faulted Americans as having short attention spans.

"Anything that takes more than a couple of months, we get bored with," said Rich Canary, 35, an information technology specialist here. "Progress has been made. The Iraqis have a constitution. They're actually creating their own country. When you hear the soldiers talk, they feel what they're doing is important."

And there was much division about how to end the war. Some military families said it was important to finish the task the troops had begun; others said they resented accusations of being unpatriotic when they criticized the war. Some who said their approval of the president had not wavered nevertheless argued for a quick end to the war, while some of Mr. Bush's strongest critics said it would destabilize Iraq to withdraw the troops anytime soon.

"Too many people would get hurt," said Laurence Melia, 28, a salesman from Newton, Mass., who campaigned against President Bush last year. "There has to be a last foot on the ground in the end, and there might be more problems if we run away too fast."

In Houston, Geoff Van Hoeven, an accountant, said he thought the war in Iraq had aggravated the terrorist threat by creating "a breeding ground for Al Qaeda." Still, Mr. Van Hoeven said a quick withdrawal was not possible, "because America's going to be perceived as extremely weak and unreliable coming in, and when the going gets rough, they pull out."

Even those who voted against Mr. Bush a year ago saw little satisfaction in his woes.

"Part of me enjoys watching him squirm," said Shirley Tobias, 46, sitting with a colleague from Netscape at a coffee shop in Grandview, a suburb of Columbus. "But he's squirming on our behalf. We're all in this together."

Other reporters for this article include: Cindy Chang from Los Angeles; Bill Dawson from Houston; Brenda Goodman from Atlanta; Kelli Kennedy from Boca Raton, Fla.; Gretchen Ruethling from Chicago; and Katie Zezima from Boston.

� 2005 New York Times

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Vice President's Office Keeps Travel Expenses Under Wraps

Tuesday, November 29, 2005; Page A19

Open-government advocates say that Vice President Cheney is to executive branch secrecy what darkness is to the night.

In 2001, Cheney famously refused to disclose the names of oil company executives and others who attended meetings of a White House energy task force that he headed, which helped draft a national energy policy.

More recently, a government watchdog group has called attention to less noticed records that Cheney has sought to keep private: travel costs.

In a report this month, the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity said Cheney and his staff have sidestepped regulations that require annual reporting of travel expenses of more than $250 received from outside groups. The center, which focuses on ethics and public service issues, said previous vice presidents routinely disclosed such payments for lodging, travel and food when the veep and his staff made appearances at colleges, think tanks and trade associations.

"The private sector reimburses elected officials and bureaucrats for such trips, but laws require officials to disclose where they went, how much it costs and who paid for it," the report said, citing provisions found in Section 1353 of Title 13 of the U.S. Code.

Cheney's office says nothing is amiss. In three letters since 2002 to the Office of Government Ethics, which collects the travel reports, David S. Addington, then Cheney's general counsel, noted that the reporting requirement applies to the "head of each agency of the executive branch."

"The Office of the Vice President is not an 'agency of the executive branch,' and hence the reporting requirement does not apply," wrote Addington, who this month replaced I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby as Cheney's chief of staff.

Since 2003, President Bush's office has reported hundreds of thousands of dollars in such travel, the center noted. And all but one office within the Executive Office of the President -- the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board -- has done so.

It doesn't matter, according to Addington. In a Feb. 25 letter to Marilyn Glynn, acting director of the ethics office, he wrote that "none of the Vice President's employees . . . accepted payments under Section 1353."

Yet, according to the center's research, Cheney has given 23 speeches to think tanks and trade organizations and 16 at academic institutions since 2001 -- apparently all at taxpayers' expense.

"[I]t appears that his office labels them 'official travel,' " the center said. "As a result . . . the public is kept largely unaware of where he and his staff are traveling, with whom they are meeting and how much it costs, even though tax dollars are covering the bill."

-- Christopher Lee

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Of Darwinism and Social Darwinism

Published on Tuesday, November 29, 2005 by

by Robert B. Reich

The Conservative Movement, as its progenitors like to call it, is now mounting a full-throttled attack on Darwinism even as it has thoroughly embraced Darwin�s bastard child, social Darwinism. On the face of it, these positions may appear inconsistent. What unites them is a profound disdain for science, logic, and fact.

In The Origin of the Species, published 150 years ago, Charles Darwin amassed evidence that mankind evolved through the ages from simpler forms of life through a process he called "natural selection." This insight became the foundation of modern biological science. But it also greatly disturbed those who believe the Bible�s account of creation to be literally true. In recent years, as America�s Conservative Movement has grown, some of these people have taken over local and state school boards with the result that, for example, Kansas�s new biology standards now single out evolution as a "controversial theory." Until a few weeks ago, teachers in Dover, Pennsylvania were required to tell their students they should explore "intelligent design" as an alternative to evolution. (The good citizens of Dover just booted out the school board responsible for this, summoning a warning from Conservative Coalition broadcaster Pat Robertson that God would wreak disaster on them.)

Social Darwinism was developed some thirty years after Darwin�s famous book by a social thinker named Herbert Spencer. Extending Darwin into a realm Darwin never intended, Spencer and his followers saw society as a competitive struggle where only those with the strongest moral character should survive, or else the society would weaken. It was Spencer, not Darwin, who coined the phrase "survival of the fittest." Social Darwinism thereby offered a perfect moral justification for America�s Gilded Age, when robber barons controlled much of American industry, the gap between rich and poor turned into a chasm, urban slums festered, and politicians were bought off by the wealthy. It allowed John D. Rockefeller, for example, to claim that the fortune he accumulated through the giant Standard Oil Trust was "merely a survival of the fittest, ... the working out of a law of nature and a law of God."

The modern Conservative Movement has embraced social Darwinism with no less fervor than it has condemned Darwinism. Social Darwinism gives a moral justification for rejecting social insurance and supporting tax cuts for the rich. "In America," says Robert Bork, "�the rich� are overwhelmingly people � entrepreneurs, small businessmen, corporate executives, doctors, lawyers, etc. � who have gained their higher incomes through intelligence, imagination, and hard work." Any transfer of wealth from rich to poor thereby undermines the nation�s moral fiber. Allow the virtuous rich to keep more of their earnings and pay less in taxes, and they�ll be even more virtuous. Give the non-virtuous poor food stamps, Medicaid, and what�s left of welfare, and they�ll fall into deeper moral torpor.

There is, of course, an ideological inconsistency here. If mankind did not evolve according to Darwinist logic, but began instead with Adam and Eve, then it seems unlikely societies evolve according to the survival-of-the-fittest logic of social Darwinism. By the same token, if you believe one�s economic status is the consequence of an automatic process of natural selection, then, presumably, you�d believe that human beings represent the culmination of a similar process, over the ages. That the conservative mind endures such cognitive dissonance is stunning, but not nearly as remarkable as the repeated attempts of conservative mouthpieces such as the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal and the Weekly Standard to convince readers the conservative movement is intellectually coherent.

The only consistency between the right�s attack on Darwinism and embrace of social Darwinism is the utter fatuousness of both. Darwinism is correct. Scientists who are legitimized by peer review and published research are unanimous in their view that evolution is a fact, not a theory. Social Darwinism, meanwhile, is hogwash. Social scientists have long understood that one�s economic status in society is not a function of one�s moral worth. It depends largely on the economic status of one�s parents, the models of success available while growing up, and educational opportunities along the way.

A democracy is imperiled when large numbers of citizens turn their backs on scientific fact. Half of Americans recently polled say they don�t believe in evolution. Almost as many say they believe income and wealth depend on moral worthiness. At a time when American children are slipping behind on international measures of educational attainment, especially in the sciences; when global competition is intensifying; and when the median incomes of Americans are stagnating and the ranks of the poor are increasing, these ideas, propagated by the so-called Conservative Movement, are moving us rapidly backwards.

Robert B. Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written ten books, including The Work of Nations, which has been translated into 22 languages; the best-sellers The Future of Success and Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Reason. His articles have appeared in the New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. Mr. Reich is co-founding editor of The American Prospect magazine.

This article can also be found in The American Prospect, December 2005.

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Al Franken Overrules Antonin Scalia

Published on Tuesday, November 29, 2005 by The Nation
Al Franken Overrules Antonin Scalia
by John Nichols

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is, supposedly, a very smart man. Indeed, he is frequently referred to as the intellectual giant on the current high court.

Yet, when Scalia was confronted by comedian and social commentator Al Franken with a basic question of legal ethics, it was the funny man, not the "serious" jurist, who proved to be the most knowledgeable.

The confrontation took place last week in New York City, where Scalia was the guest of Conversations on the Circle, a prestigious series of one-on-one interviews with Norman Pearlstine, the outgoing Time Inc. editor-in-chief.

After Pearlstine tossed a predictable set of softball questions to the justice, the session was opened to questions from the audience. Up popped Franken, the best-selling author and host of Air America's The Al Franken Show.

According to a scathing article that appeared in the Scalia-friendly New York Post, "Franken stood up in the back row and started talking about �judicial demeanor' and asking �hypothetically' about whether a judge should recuse himself if he had gone duck-hunting or flown in a private jet with a party in a case before his court."

Franken's reference was to Scalia's refusal to recuse himself from deliberations involving a lawsuit brought by public-interest groups that said Vice President Dick Cheney engaged in improper contacts with energy-industry executives and lobbyists while heading the Bush administration task force on energy policy. A federal court ordered Cheney to release documents related to his work with the task force, at which point the Bush administration appealed to the Supreme Court.

After the administration filed its appeal but before the court took the case, Cheney and Scalia were seen dining together in November, 2003, at an out-of-the-way restaurant on Maryland's eastern shore.

After the court agreed to take the case, Cheney and Scalia spent several days in January, 2004, hunting ducks at a remote camp in Louisiana.

Watchdog groups called for Scalia to recuse himself -- Charles Lewis, director of the Center for Public Integrity, argued that fraternization involving a justice and a litigant with a case before the court "gives the appearance of a tainted process where decisions are not made on the merits" -- but the justice responded by announcing that, "I do not think my impartiality could reasonably be questioned."

Several months later, Scalia and the other justices remanded the case back to the appellate court for further consideration -- a decision that effectively made the issue go away during the 2004 presidential contest.

Scalia, a friend of Cheney's since the days when they worked together in the administration of former President Gerald Ford, had participated in a decision that was of tremendous benefit to the vice president in an election year.

Yet, when Franken raised the issue at the Conversation on the Circle event, according to the Post, Scalia "chided Franken as if he were a delinquent schoolboy." And Time Warner chairman Dick Parsons said of author: "Al was not quite ready for prime time."

In fact, it was Scalia, not Franken, who was caught with his ethics down.

Scalia took issue with the comic's use of the word demeanor. "Demeanor is the wrong word. You mean ethics," the justice claimed, before adding that, "Ethics is governed by tradition. It has never been the case where you recuse because of friendship."

Actually, Scalia was wrong on all accounts. Because U.S. Supreme Court justices decide when to recuse themselves for ethical reasons, they operate under looser standards and softer scrutiny than other jurists. Thus, the term "demeanor" was precisely correct. Legal dictionaries define "demeanor" as one's "outward manner" and "way of conducting oneself." By any measure, with his refusal to recuse himself from a case involving his friend Cheney, Scalia chose to conduct himself in an unethical manner.

How do we know that?

The American Bar Association's Model Code of Judicial Conduct, certainly a reasonable measure for such decisions, is blunt with regards to these questions, stating that:

1.) "(A judge) shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary."

2.) "A judge shall conduct all of the judge's extra-judicial activities so they do not cast reasonable doubt on the judge's capacity to act impartially as a judge."

3.) "A judge shall not allow family, social, political or other relationships to influence the judge's judicial conduct or judgment."

4.) "(A judge shall not) convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge."

Unfortunately, the ABA's model code does not apply -- in any official sense -- to high court justices.

But there is still no question that Scalia should have recused himself. The standard for U.S. Supreme Court Justices was set by the court itself in a majority opinion in the 1994 resolution of the case of Liteky v. United States. According to that opinion, recusal is required where "impartiality might reasonably be questioned." The opinion set a high standard, declaring that what matters "is not the reality of bias or prejudice, but its appearance."

Who was the stickler for ethics who wrote those words?

Justice Antonin Scalia.

An expanded paperback edition of John Nichols' biography of Vice President Dick Cheney, The Rise and Rise of Richard B. Cheney: Unlocking the Mysteries of the Most Powerful Vice President in American History (The New Press: 2005), is available nationwide at independent bookstores and at The book features an exclusive interview with Joe Wilson and a chapter on the vice president's use and misuse of intelligence. Publisher's Weekly describes the book as "a Fahrenheit 9/11 for Cheney" and Esquire magazine says it "reveals the inner Cheney."

� 2005 The Nation

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Link Wray - one of the founders of Rock & Roll - dead at 76

Sunday, November 20, 2005 Posted at 8:10 PM EST Associated Press Copenhagen, Denmark�

[Update 11/30/05: see Buddy's comments below]

Guitar player Link Wray, who invented the power chord, the major modus operandi of modern rock guitarists, has died. He was 76.
A native of Dunn, North Carolina, Wray's style is considered the blueprint for heavy metal and punk music. Wray is best known for his 1958 instrumental Rumble, 1959's Rawhide and 1963's Jack the Ripper. His music has appeared in movies like Pulp Fiction, Independence Day and Desperado.

His style is said to have inspired many other rock musicians, including Pete Townsend of the Who. David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Steve Van Zandt and Bruce Springsteen have also been quoted as saying that Wray and Rumble inspired them to become musicians. "He is the king; if it hadn't been for Link Wray and Rumble, I would have never picked up a guitar'." Townsend wrote on one of Wray's albums. Neil Young once said: "If I could go back in time and see any band, it would be Link Wray and the Raymen."

According to Wray's official website, he invented the fuzz tone by deliberately punching holes in his amplifier speakers. In 2002, Guitar World magazine elected Wray one of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time. Wray, known for his trademark black leather jacket, toured the United States and Canada from 1997 to 2002. He was half Shawnee Indian. The date of Wray's death was not known. He lived in Copenhagen. Denmark's Politiken newspaper said his funeral had already taken place in Copenhagen's Christian Church. No dates were given. His family could not be reached for comment. His official site does not mention his death. Wray is survived by his wife and son.
The Globe and Mail: Link Wray, 76

The man who taught Koody how to play power chords before they had a name for 'em. Thanks, Link... - Cub Koda (Brownsville Station)

Link Wray played the most important D chord in history. It opened "Rumble" and signaled the birth of the power-chord. With "Rumble" the guitar arrived as an instrument of pure menace. - Colin Escott (rock and roll historian)

The greatest rock 'n' roll guitarist ever. - Lemmy (Motorhead,Hawkwind)

"Rumble" is one of my all time favorite instrumentals. - Elvis Costello

"Rumble" is the best instrumental ever. - Bob Dylan

That's him! That's him! This is the guy! "Rumble" "Rumble" Keith Moon (The Who - while running around naked at the Record Plant studio in New York, 1974)

Gene Vincent and Link Wray, two of the greatest unknowns in rock 'n' roll. - John Lennon (The Beatles, Plastic Ono Band)

It'd be next to impossible to begin listin' all the string scratchers Link Wray has influenced. Really, anybody who's whacked a chord any harder than Al Caiola owes a supreme hat tip to the "Rumble" Man. - Billy Miller (The A-Bones, The Zantees, Norton Records)

Link is a quiet man to meet - easy and courteous. His music, though, betrays that deep inside he gets very very mean very often... I remember being made very uneasy the first time I heard Link Wray's "Rumble", and yet excited by the guitar sound. And his voice! He sounds like a cross between Jagger and Van Morrison, even sometimes like Robbie Robertson. We met him in New York in 1970 while recording "Who's Next"... this later inspired the b-side "Wasp Man", a tune we dedicated to Link Wray. - Pete Townsend (The Who)

more here: No Rock&Roll Fun

and here: Rolling Stone

and Buddy Blue speaks:

When I saw Link Wray in concert a few years back, he seemed very much the dead man walking. Or rather, limping. Or rather, tottering to the stage on frail, trembling pins, aided by his wife, who looked young enough to be his granddaughter. Where it not for his dyed hair, Ramones-styled get-up, impenetrable shades and the fact that he turned 25 again the moment his guitar was strapped on, Wray might have been just another ailing codger bound for the glue factory.
So I wasn�t outwardly shocked when I heard that Wray -- best known for malevolent �50s guitar instrumentals with titles like �Rumble,� �Run Chicken Run� and �Jack The Ripper� -- had died at 76 on November 5 in Copenhagen. On the other hand, I subconsciously figured the old fella would never go and kak off on us. He seemed very much a Mephistophelian figure whose personal connections with the bigwigs in Hell would preclude something so mundane as death from afflicting him.
Link Wray was and shall ever be the personification of every nightmare several generations of clenched-sphincter Falwellian types ever suffered over the sinister, corruptive, blasphemous nature of rock & roll. In his music and in his image, Wray was an anthropomorphized switchblade purchased illicitly in a Tijuana alleyway, honed to a razor�s edge and harboring the DNA evidence of countless victims.

�If you sit down and learn his songs, there�s an inherent violence in the structure,� says Dave Alvin. �There�s a raw, ominous dread inside those songs. He cut it down to the basics � bass, drums and very, very loud guitar. There�s a sense of menace and a threat inside all his instrumentals, like a film noir thing. It made you want to pick up a guitar and have that kind of power yourself.�

Alvin is hardly alone in that assessment. I recall reading �Guitar Player� magazine as a teen in the early �70s, and seemingly every contemporary axe-slinger interviewed cited Wray�s �Rumble� as a primary motivation for adopting the instrument. It was frustrating, as this was an era before obscure �50s rock & roll records were being reissued. Nothing by Wray was in print, and all I could do was wistfully wonder what Quicksilver�s John Cippolina meant, exactly, when he enthused, �Link Wray made his guitar bitch, man!�

Because of his hardcore greaser image, Wray was often wrongly cast as a rockabilly guy; in fact, his sound was far more innovative. In its primitive approach, square-one use of power chords and unambiguously �fuck off, Jack� attitude, Wray�s playing was nothing less than the foundation of punk rock. With his emphasis on volume over finesse and his rudimentary backing bands, Wray was also the originator of the hard rock power trio � rock minus the roll.

�With most guitar players, you can trace where they came from,� say Lee Rocker, �but Link Wray just came out of the blue. He invented something, tone and playing-wise�he just pulled it out of thin air. Nothing preceded it. To me, he�s the godfather of players like Hendrix, Page and Townshend. It�s like, �Where the hell did this guy come from, and how did he come up with this sound?� He was an unbelievably unique talent.�

It�s a mark of Wray�s dark, enigmatic persona that his death wasn�t even reported until two weeks after it had occurred. The reams of glowing prose accorded the recent passings of rock & roll innovators like Johnny Cash and Ray Charles weren�t evinced in the mainstream media; there was no awkward Blitzer-babble to be endured. At the end of the day, though, Wray�s legacy and impact on rock & roll was perhaps no less profound than Johnny�s or Ray�s. This was borne out when Bob Dylan opened his November 20th concert in London with a hellfire version of �Rumble.�

Even more to the point of Wray�s sway, some stinky outlaw somewhere out there is likely getting a garish tattoo of Link inked into his chest even as you read this memorial. The guess here is that Wray would have appreciated that tribute most of all.

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

LILEKS (James) the bleat (goes on and on and on)

Dept. of uh-oh: this story about the Iranian president�s Mahdi complex gave me pause; the man is not good for children and other living things, as the poorly lettered poster used to say. What made me depressed, in an instant, was knowing exactly how this would be received on, say, a Fark forum: it would take about three comments before someone compared his messianic religiosity to Bush�s, and did so either to make them equal or disparage Bush as the greater threat. Not to say some righty Farker wouldn�t step in and slap the idiots with a mackerel. But. I understand why some on the left loathe Bush; what I do not understand is why this is so often coupled with a reflexive desire to downplay the words and deeds of people like Ahmadinejad. It�s as if they fear that admitting the threat he poses means that the case for HATING BUSH 24/7 will be weakened, and there�s no possible way to justify such a thing.
ummm, no. James, it is because Bush is OUR asshole. Because he is our 'elected' leader (yes, James, I used the scare quotes, because anyone not wearing 'Bush Blinders' for the last 5 years knows he was NOT elected either time). It is all well and good to piss and moan about another country's leaders, but when you ignore the big glaring flaws of your own, it's a bit juvenile, is it not? --pseudolus
Read the story. �During his September speech at the UN, Ahmadinejad called for the reappearance of the 12th Imam. In mid-November, during a speech to Friday prayers leaders from across Iran, Ahmadinejad said that the main mission of the revolution is to pave the way for the reappearance of the 12th Imam.� If your response is to send me an email about James Watt saying there�s no point to saving the trees because Jesus is coming soon, you must also point out A) which nation Watt currently rules, B) which clandestine nuclear program he heads, and C) the speech Watt made in which he declares the need to destroy Israel and America. You could say this is something happening on the other side of the earth. But there is only one side to the earth now.

James, A) & B) see G. W. Bush - He's not worried about his legacy because we won't be here very long as the Rapture is due any day now, don't you remember? Google Does. Oh, and that covers C) as well. Armageddon will destroy everything, if you believe that crap, and the guy with his finger on The Button beleives just that, supposedly.

source: (Nov. 30th bleat)

LILEKS (James) the bleat

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Challenge and the Fear of Becoming Enlightened

Published on Monday, November 28, 2005 by the Daytona Beach News Journal (Florida)
by Pierre Tristam

Since Sept. 11, we've been living under a "clash of civilizations" doctrine that can be summed up this way: Over there, dogma, orthodoxy, Islam; over here, democracy, pluralism, Constitution. Over there, dark continents, dark ages, terrorism; over here, enlightened West, enlightenment, freedom.

The doctrine has been used to justify two wars (so far) and a wholesale shift in the way the United States deploys its aims abroad and projects them at home. The doctrine draws its power from the language of freedom -- the language of enlightenment -- both in the way we've gone about defining ourselves as a culture and in the way we've gone about defending our right to fight the war on terror on our terms, but on other people's turfs.

The doctrine is fatally flawed, and its consequences are lethal, both to American principles at home and to American interests abroad. There's no connection between the language we're using in defining ourselves and the reality being imposed at home and abroad. The language itself has become the mask of its very opposite. If you want absolutes, if you want black and white, if you want orthodoxy, look no further than the way American culture politically and legally has been evolving in the past several years.

That's not to say that those orthodoxies don't exist in the Muslim world. They do in spades. But the enlightenment ideal is not under attack from outside our culture. It is under attack from within it, in a context that increasingly fears pluralism, scorns dissent and erodes democracy. The very ideas of rational, critical thinking, of progress by way of challenging assumptions, is being replaced by a faith-based approach in policy-making and a fundamentalist approach in legal thinking (what some people call originalism) that is diametrically opposed to the ideals of enlightenment. If a battle for freedom is being waged, it is being waged on the wrong front.


First, a look at Islam as a world supposedly so incapable of solving its crises that only western intervention can help. We should be honest. Islamdom doesn't have a good reputation these days, and it brings a lot of the trouble on itself. But any religion in the wrong hands, beginning with Americans' own Christian creeds, can be violent, backward and evil. It so happens that few religions can lay claim to as much beauty of spirit, art, enlightenment and advancement of the human race as Islam did for the entirety of the Middle Ages, when nothing in Europe could hold a candle to Islamic civilization, when Islam was enlightenment before enlightenment was cool.

What was unique about Islam's early and middle period was its great tolerance for people of other faiths, its love and wealth of learning, its antipathy for dogma, its realization of pluralism -- in the great Abassid caliphates of Baghdad from the 9th to the 12th centuries, in Spain during the same period, in India during the 16th and early part of the 17th centuries. It's possible to see the Muslim Enlightenment literally as bookends, in time and geography, with Baghdad in the early period and the reign of Akbar the Great in the 16th and 17th centuries in India, who lived up to a famous verse in the Koran that speaks for all the potential pluralism in Islam: "There can be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from error" (which is actually a retelling of what Jesus said to his followers: "The truth will make you free.")

read the rest:
Challenge and the Fear of Becoming Enlightened

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Fascism Then. Fascism Now?

Published on Monday, November 28, 2005 by the Toronto Star (Canada)
by Paul Bigioni
When people think of fascism, they imagine Rows of goose-stepping storm troopers and puffy-chested dictators. What they don't see is the economic and political process that leads to the nightmare.

Observing political and economic discourse in North America since the 1970s leads to an inescapable conclusion: The vast bulk of legislative activity favors the interests of large commercial enterprises. Big business is very well off, and successive Canadian and U.S. governments, of whatever political stripe, have made this their primary objective for at least the past 25 years.

Digging deeper into 20th century history, one finds the exaltation of big business at the expense of the citizen was a central characteristic of government policy in Germany and Italy in the years before those countries were chewed to bits and spat out by fascism. Fascist dictatorships were borne to power in each of these countries by big business, and they served the interests of big business with remarkable ferocity.

These facts have been lost to the popular consciousness in North America. Fascism could therefore return to us, and we will not even recognize it. Indeed, Huey Long, one of America's most brilliant and most corrupt politicians, was once asked if America would ever see fascism. "Yes," he replied, "but we will call it anti-fascism."

By exploring the disturbing parallels between our own time and the era of overt fascism, we can avoid the same hideous mistakes. At present, we live in a constitutional democracy. The tools necessary to protect us from fascism remain in the hands of the citizen. [perhaps, perhaps not, if our vote is no longer sacred but now belongs to the 'vote counters'. --pseudolus] All the same, North America is on a fascist trajectory. We must recognize this threat for what it is, and we must change course.


read the whole thing:

Fascism Then. Fascism Now?

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

LA Times: Padilla is an American

I will have more to say on this later... --pseudolus

The L.A. Times has something to say about George W. Bush's own private personal prisoner...and it brings the Padilla case right down to the basic point: He's being fucked around as an example to anyone who Bush deigns to be a terr'ist.[sic]

Jose Padilla's America

WHATEVER ELSE HE IS, Jose Padilla is an American citizen. That inescapable fact explains both the Bush administration's decision last week to charge him with a crime - and the importance of the Supreme Court's upcoming decision on whether to hear his case.

The first decision represents a change in course for an administration still struggling, more than four years after the attacks of 9/11, to find a legal strategy in the war against terrorism. But it is the second decision, due in almost three weeks, that could prove to be more significant to Americans and the rule of law. The Supreme Court needs to rein in the Bush administration's war on the Constitution.

The question presented in the Padilla case, to paraphrase his brief before the court, is this: Can the president of the United States arrest any U.S. citizen in America and hold him indefinitely without charge in the name of the war against terrorism?

As long as this war continues, it is a question that will remain relevant. And it is a question begging for a resounding "no" from the nation's highest court.



>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Monday, November 28, 2005

Dumbing Down the Audience

Because it needs to be said. --pseudolus
Published on Saturday, November 26, 2005 by
by Ralph Nader

The debate between progressives and corporatists over the state of the mass media goes like this-the former say fewer and fewer giant media conglomerates control more of the print and electronic outlets while the latter respond by saying there has never been more choices for listeners (radio), viewers (television) and readers (magazines, newsletters and newspapers combined).

Progressives add that half a dozen big companies, which control so many media, lead to a sameness of entertainment, news and advertisement overload. Corporatists counter by saying that there are more and more specialized media available for just about every taste in the audience.

I want to take a different approach here from my personal experience with the fourth estate and appearing before national audiences. There has been a non-stop decline in access for serious subjects of contemporary importance, especially those topics that challenge corporate power.

Starting in the mid-Sixties until the nineteen eighties, the major daytime television entertainment shows were open to people with causes and authors with books. The Mike Douglas Show had me and my associates on during programs that featured high-profile entertainers such as John Lennon and the Jacksons. So did the Merv Griffin Show and others of a lesser note.

The Phil Donahue Show opened to national debate one controversial issue after another-women's liberation, consumer labor, environmental, gay-lesbian, anti-war, education, race and verboten diseases. Still Phil managed his share of titillating breakthroughs, including male strippers, along with the staples of fashion shows and celebrities.

No more. Replacing these shows are the sado-masochistic bizzaro shows like Jerry Springer's show or the warm and cuddly Oprah presentations or the middle ground parade of entertainment and celebrity performances such as Montel Williams' Show. There is virtually no chance of even getting one's calls returned; the producers have their formulae for shows on a revolving turnstile and need no further suggestions.

Montel Williams used to have a consumer advice show once in a while on matters that shoppers really care about-whether they relate to health, child safety or widely experienced rip-offs in the marketplace. Now, someone as towering and communicative as Dr. Sidney Wolfe of Public Citizen cannot even get on these shows, including Oprah's, when he releases his spectacular new editions of "Worst Pills Best Pills".

During the Eighties and early Nineties, Dr. Wolfe would take his life-saving, massive, inexpensive book onto the Donahue Show. There, in a gripping interaction with Phil and patients in the audience, he would communicate to millions how to use the information. He showed how to avoid drugs with bad side effects on select drugs with few side effects, though all were approved by the Food and Drug Administration for dozens of ailments such as high blood pressure, chronic pain, colds, allergies, diabetes, infections, osteoporosis, vitamin deficiencies, depression, heart conditions and eye disorders.

This show produced great ratings and the largest number of audience inquiries and orders in the history of the Donahue Show. Dr. Wolfe recently came out with his latest edition of "Worst Pills, Best Pills". None of the daily afternoon shows would have him on, even though more people are taking more drugs than ever before and adverse side-effects are growing in lethality.

Exclusion is the experience of many other prominent authors and advocates. Food and health writer, Jean Carper, who has had numerous best sellers to her credit, in part from appearing in major television shows, scarcely appears today. Authors of great contemporary research and substance, including William Grieder, Jim Hightower and Robert Kuttner, used to introduce their books on the national morning talk shows. No more. They're lucky to even get on the Charlie Rose Show-perhaps the only frequently serious over-the-air daily national television talk show left in the United States-population nearly 300 million! These morning network shows are heavily into entertainment, celebrities, when not reporting some important news.

Why, even humorist Art Buchwald, whose many books used to be staples of the afternoon entertainment shows, has been unable for years to sneak by the congealed silliness that swarms onto their stages. The audiences have become so hyped with the weird and sexual that the funny Buchwald is not seen as being able "to hold the audience."

Last week, Ted Koppel signed off a quarter century of anchoring ABC's Nightline. In his place, where for some 22 minutes an important contemporary situation or conflict was analyzed, will be a show with a lighter mix of segments. Who knows how long this experiment in reduced attention span will last?

"Dumbing down the audience" is the infelicitous phrase used by some media critics. You expect less and less of your audience and that is the audience you'll get. This also holds true for the evening television news which blots out civic actions in the home city in favor of ample sports, lengthy weather times, street crime, light news, a health story, an animal story and up to a minute of contrived, spontaneous chitchat between the anchors.

All this junk television is transmitted, without the stations paying rent, to us for the public airwaves that we the people own.

The examples abound. The point is clear. Overweening commercialism, a docile Federal Communications Commission, an unenforced Communications Act of 1934, and an unorganized viewer-listenership are leaving diverse thinkers and doers without a national or even a local audience.

We, the most powerful, technologically-equipped nation on Earth are left with C-SPAN and the suggestion that we an always start our own blog. Folks, they're laughing at us and taking their hilarity all the way to the bank-at our expense and that of our children's futures.

Dumbing Down the Audience

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Spocko's Brain: How to Talk to Wingnuts

Some excellent points on how to deal with 'ditto heads' come this holiday season. Sometimes it's best to just ignore them, but if you are getting hammered (and I don't mean drunk), you need to know how to fight back. I have some excellent links in the sidebar that may be of help as well (see Skeptics Toolkit & Critiques of Libertarianism). And you should check you local library or used book store for the following:

The Art of Always Being Right
Arthur Schopenhauer; with an introduction by A C Grayling Gibson Square Books, 190pp, �9.99
ISBN 1903933617

Reviewed by George Walden

read review here


Spocko's post here:
click here

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Democratic Veteran :: Welcome to Germany, 1933

Welcome to Germany, 1933

Holy Crap. This is some serious shit, and it's not being talked about much...or I've been sleeping waaaay too long. --demvet
go here and worry:

Democratic Veteran :: Welcome to Germany, 1933

This is something I have been saying for several years now. The similarities to the current admin to Hitler's Germany are many and obvious to any who have studied history. It has been pointed out on many blogs and it is not a product of imaginations run wild.

Every time I have pointed it out, someone has been quick to call me a conspiracy nut or a loon. "It can't happen here." "We are America! And totalitarianism can never take hold here." yadda yadda yadda.

But the question I keep asking and no one can answer is; "At what point should the German people have been wary? At What Point should the German people have stood up a renounced Hitler?" It came on so subtly at first. Hitler was democratically elected, right?
-- pseudolus

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

White House claims 'strong consensus' on Iraq pullout - Yahoo! News

This is so typical. Now the White House is claiming they have been planning a pull out all along and that the Democrats are stealing their ideas. feh! --pseudolus
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The White House has for the first time claimed ownership of an
Iraq withdrawal plan, arguing that a troop pullout blueprint unveiled this past week by a Democratic senator was "remarkably similar" to its own.

It also signaled its acceptance of a recent US Senate amendment designed to pave the way for a phased US military withdrawal from the violence-torn country.

The statement by White House spokesman Scott McClellan came in response to a commentary published in The Washington Post by Joseph Biden, the top Democrat of the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in which he said US forces will begin leaving Iraq next year "in large numbers."

According to Biden, the United States will move about 50,000 servicemen out of the country by the end of 2006, and "a significant number" of the remaining 100,000 the year after.

The blueprint also calls for leaving only an unspecified "small force" either in Iraq or across the border to strike at concentrations of insurgents, if necessary.

Less than two weeks ago, McClellan blasted Democratic Representative John Murtha (news, bio, voting record), saying that by calling for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, the congressman was "endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore," a stridently anti-war Hollywood filmmaker.

Biden's ideas, relayed first in a November 21 speech in New York, however, got a much friendlier reception.

read it all:

White House claims 'strong consensus' on Iraq pullout - Yahoo! News

>>> Print Article(always)...Read More(sometimes)

free webpage hit counter