Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Kissinger?! And some people called Mondale a tired retread!
Oh, Mr. Bush. This is the enemy.
There can be no peace until such people either forsake violence or become victims of it. I wish some clerics would set up a MacMujihad where all entrants could be certified genuine mujahideen and given the choice of becoming isolated from civilised society with honorable imprisonment or an honorable death in the name of the cause. Then innocent people could go about their lives unendangered by the fanatics.
Kiss it goodbye
With the current administration and the new Congress we can expect our environment to be regulated the same way the accounting industry has been regulated. We can also expect the same level of enforcement from our government, that is, nada. At least I voted against this kind of thing when I had the chance. Are you one of the ones responsible for this mess?
Timothy Noah takes on E.J. Dionne for the brain-dead idea that the poor need to pay more taxes. The rich purchased this government. It only seems fair that they pay for its policies too.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

We've been here before. The result was the war in Vietnam.
"There is tremendous pressure on [the CIA] to come up with information to support policies that have already been adopted," says Vincent Cannistraro, a former senior CIA official and counterterrorism expert. What's unfolding is a campaign by well-placed hawks to undermine the CIA's ability to provide objective, unbiased intelligence to the White House.
Another proven strategy for the Democrats to use in the future.
Spitzer's reforms weren't designed to punish or rein in inherently corrupt executives. They were designed to give essentially amoral corporations incentives to better serve their customers. Spitzer, in other words, wasn't anti-business so much as pro-consumer. And that made all the difference in the world.
The Right has mounted an attack on low-income taxpayers.
Prepare yourself for the latest cause of the political right: You are about to hear a great deal about how working Americans at the bottom of the economy are not paying enough in taxes.

I am not making this up.
Yes, the wealthy are paying more in federal taxes, but for reasons that are good news for the wealthy -- "largely because they receive a much larger share of the total income in the nation,"

The Texas Legacy
It's a documented fact that Texas has one of the worst air qualities in the nation as a result of George W. Bush's doctrine of leniency towards industry's dirty little habit of polluting. Texas's air quality is the direct result of Bush's permission to let industry clean up its polluting practices voluntarily.
And from those who know:
A rule change genuinely designed to reduce pollution while increasing industrial efficiency would not be announced late on a Friday afternoon. One that betrays a long, bipartisan legacy of improved air and water quality would be.
A strategy for the future. Keep banging that drum.

Monday, November 25, 2002

It's the season of Thanksgiving again and time to reflect on the good things in life that we enjoy. Feasts will be consumed and gridirons will be contested. However we will severely cheapen our thanks if we just stop there.

While being thankful for the standard of living we enjoy, we need to acknowledge that this standard of living is rare in this world. We need to acknowledge that few, if any, of us are worthy and deserve such fine things. They come to us as a gift of circumstance, the circumstance of having been born into a country with a functioning economic system. Our affluence is a gift of that circumstance. On this day while we feast many will die in hunger. Such an unearned gift in my mind comes with attached responsibilities. Those so gifted have the responsibility of making the necessary changes in the world so that every individual can have the same kind of gift.

While being thankful for blessings of health, we need to acknowledge that the level of medical benefits we enjoy is far from universal. Many will die today from diseases that are preventable. Many will become crippled and undergo suffering because they have no access to even minimal health care. We are obligated to use the energy and health that have been given to us to make good health care available to everyone.

While being thankful for our political and social freedoms, we need to acknowledge that many live in fear of their own governments and of their own cultural restrictions. We need to use our freedoms to bring more freedom and justice into the socially dark places of the world.

Let our time of thanksgiving not be an idle exercise of gluttony. Let us accept the gifts given to us with grace and renew our commitment to use them to make a difference. For if we don’t there simply is no point.
More good guidance.
Before life can be breathed into the moribund Democratic Party, significant changes must occur. Over the past two years, most democrats in Congress have failed to display the courage of their convictions. They have failed to uphold the fundamental principles upon which the Party was founded, opting instead to place politics ahead of principle. Where have our representatives gone? What we see is a group of confused, unorganized, message-less individuals being led by politicians who are too scared to voice their opinions and convictions because they covet a higher job in 2004. There are, of course, notable exceptions; unfortunately, too few and none are considered as "leaders" of our Party.
Trust comes when the givers are convinced they are not only being heard, but listened to. No need to vilify, to go blatantly negative. Simply state the facts, without spin, and cite what is unacceptable, why it is unacceptable, and, above all, provide alternatives together with how you plan to accomplish those alternatives. Stop the rhetoric and finger-pointing. Lose that deity complex and truly listen to the people you were elected to represent. If you regain your voices, stand on your principles, and offer viable solutions, the people will respond positively and Democrats will unite.
Good guidance as the Democratic party rebuilds.

It's not, after all, the people who are running the show who are confused. It's pretty clear that they know what they're after: power and money. It's everybody else - the people who are going to be left poorer and more powerless - who are confused about what is going on.
I have suggested before that Israel could reduce the incidence of suicide bombing by banning concealing clothing. It seems that others have had similar ideas.
For all that is wrong with the quick legislation that was passed shortly after 9/11, the Air Transportation Stabilization Board seems to actually be doing a good job.
Fears that the loan guarantees would amount to a giveaway to an inefficient industry haven't materialized. Far from it. In fact, the board has behaved more like Harry Zale, the cram-down artist in Tom Wolfe's A Man in Full, than like Jimmy Stewart's accommodating George Bailey. The board's first answer always seems to be no. And as it wields the sharp elbows of a vulture investor, it has extracted potentially valuable concessions for its investors, the American public. What's more, its rapid posting of minutes, decisions, and correspondence to airlines on its Web site make it a model of transparency.
Unlike the normal pattern of the Bush administration to conduct its business away from the public eye. this agency is fully exposed. And that looks like a good thing.

Friday, November 22, 2002

Blogging resumes.

From the New Republic.
While PMCs like DynCorp may be popular in Republican Washington, which is now enthusiastically outsourcing many of America's military duties to the private sector, using them in Afghanistan could be a dangerous mistake. Private contractors seldom prove cheaper or more effective than uniformed soldiers. Worse, they are virtually impossible to control and have committed a litany of abuses in America's name. Using these unproven freelancers to guard Karzai thus will send precisely the wrong message to Washington's friends and enemies around the world and will increase the risks of a foreign policy disaster in Afghanistan.

Now that American electorate has abdicated its power to Emperor George, we can expect the slide of our foreign policy and sputtering economy to continue. Before too long the Karzai regime will be history and the warlords will rule again in Kabul. And the remnants of Al Qaida will return to continue their mischief.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Very limited blogging this week. On the road in New Orleans.

Thursday, November 07, 2002

Pitt is history, but the foxes are still guarding the henhouse.
Harvey Pitt wasn't the only predator that Bush and his cronies have nominated to rend farm-animal flesh from bone. When the Bush administration nominated to the Commodities Future Trading Commission two individuals who had been responsible for drafting the regulations that let Enron do whatever it wanted with energy derivatives, those who were paying attention could only shake their heads in amazement. What could be more brazen?
The system is currently broken. Corporations run amok, and instead of tightening up the rules, the powers that be are continuing, criminally, with business as usual. Instead of cleaning house, the current administration is appointing and promoting the very people who trashed the house in the first place.
Garrison Keillor on Norm Coleman:
But I don't envy someone who's sold his soul. He's condemned to a life of small arrangements. There will be no passion, no joy, no heroism, for him. He is a hollow man. The next six years are not going to be kind to Norm.
This is what worries me about this administration. Too many people have forgotten about Vietnam. Then, the people in charge ignored the truth about what was happening. They are about to do it again.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Bye-bye balanced budget.
Such moves may or may not help jump-start the sputtering economy. But they will virtually guarantee a return to the era of structural budget deficits. That may be the most far-reaching economic implication of yesterday's unexpected Republican sweep. We are now blessed with a Congress and executive branch devoted to the proposition that the government should spend, but not tax. (And what's more, it shouldn't try too hard to collect the taxes that are owed, especially if they're owed by companies or the cheating wealthy.)
Where is Pakistan headed?
This is the Catch-22 America created for itself by nurturing Islamic fundamentalism in Pakistan during the Afghan jihad. Propping up authoritarian regimes in the Muslim world betrays our values and nurtures the grievances that give rise to terrorism, but in many places abandoning or undermining these regimes would empower radical Islamists or separatists. The choice may not be between democrats and dictators, but between different kinds of dictators and bloody chaos. It's a reality that contradicts every humanistic impulse most Americans have, but one that needs to be considered as our government goes charging off on its messianic campaign to remake the world.
More Bush leadership to the rear.

To seek the votes of the right-to-life caucus by mucking about with the excruciatingly complex and difficult task of reining in world population is as dangerous in its effect as it is tawdry in its motive.

And, once again, our arrogant unilateralism will cost us strategically as well as morally. When overpopulated China, India and Indonesia, as well as nations in Europe dealing with myriad crises arising from immigration, all react bitterly to this latest American isolationism, can we be surprised that they are hesitant to support Bush's jihad against Iraq?

Of course, this won't bother the aggressive claque of right-wing think-tankers currently running the foreign policy of the most powerful nation in the existence of humanity, who seem to think that power makes us God.
Meanwhile, France has some real civil trouble on their hands. (Courtesy of DenBeste)
I hate it when someone takes the words right out of my mouth. Hail Hesiod! Truth and integrity is the only true path to success.
While the all-wise Bush administration has been sneaking money into spending bills for the brain-dead, impractical, couldn't-hit-the-side-of-a-barn national missile defense program (a gift to their corporate supporters), the Army has been quietly developing a laser-based system that actually works. And it works rather well, even against small supersonic artillery shells and targets like Katusha rockets. I'm not an expert but doesn't that seem harder than big fat ballistic warheads?

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

And Pitt is outta there!!
The Consortium has an excellent summary of the shortcomings of the Bush administration.
W to Saddam:We are coming for you.
I'm sure glad this group of worthies are in the highest offices of my country.
Some suggestions for Democrats
They call this appropriate technology.
More evidence for a biological basis for male homosexuality. In sheep a correlation in brain structures has been documented. Furthermore it appears that there may be a genetic component.

I look forward to the time when the morality of being homosexual is equivalent to the morality of having natural curly hair. That is, simply irrelevant.
Some real hope for dyslexics.
The children who did the exercises showed significant improvements in reading and verbal fluency, with the percentage of those with reading difficulties dropping from 78 per cent to 56 per cent.

They also went on to show dramatic increases in writing, reading and comprehension scores on standardised attainment tests (SATs). In writing, in particular, their rate of year-to-year improvement increased by 17 times.

Monday, November 04, 2002

Michael Ledeen on Iran
A struggle goes on out of sight of major news media.

Like the rest of the terror masters, and their appeasers in Europe, the Iranians are trying desperately to buy time, hoping against hope that President Bush will lose his nerve and call off the revolutionary war. They will say and do anything that gets them through another day, but they know that once the war starts they are doomed.

Faster, please. Don't let the war against terrorism turn into a replay of the Gulf War, with the tyrants still in power.
Darryl's House
In the noise of the elections, why is it that the real human tragedies in this country are not an issue?

There's an election next week and it’s easy to look at the story of Darryl and blame him on conservatives and Republicans but unfortunately Darryl never really creeps into the priorities of liberal politicians these days either. It’s a political death wish to even acknowledge that people like him exist. They don’t vote and they don’t make campaign contributions and so they don’t really even enter into the consciousness of either of the political parties. America has ignored him and his grandmother and the other children in that dreadful home for the past 30 years and in the process we’ve created a whole new generation of Darryls. And tragically we’re probably going to create yet another generation whether the elephants or the donkeys celebrate the most on Tuesday night.

The people at the bottom of the economic scale will not reach out to the political process because they have little incentive to do so. Since Lyndon Johnson and Robert Kennedy and Michael Harrington are gone there have been precious few willing to advocate for them. Paul Wellstone and to his credit Jack Kemp have done so in recent years but sadly Wellstone is silenced and Kemp is retired. Somebody in our national leadership and, yes, our Democratic Party leadership should stand up for the millions of Darryls who are still on Americas city streets. The fact that they don’t is as sad as the things I saw in Darryl’s house all those years ago.
Wellstone was right
Twenty-three senators and 133 congressmen voted against Bush's Iraq resolution in October, authorizing the president to strike against Saddam. And in not a single case, contrary to Washington's conventional wisdom, does it appear to be hurting any of their chances for reelection. It might actually be helping them.

Friday, November 01, 2002

Dissembling Sean played the Horton Card. Behind that, there lies a long story
Hertzberg on an assault to America that wasleft unchallenged.
Getting out the vote, Florida-style(Salon premium). So just when will Florida end the disenfranchisement of maybe 91,000 mostly black voters? Not until bubba Jeb gets reelected I suspect. I really love the integrity this demonstrates.

And even though the list has been widely condemned -- the company that created it admits probable errors -- the same voter scrub list, with more than 94,000 names on it, is still in operation in Florida. Moreover, DBT Online, which generated the disastrously flawed list, reports that if it followed strict criteria to eliminate those errors, roughly 3,000 names would remain -- and a whopping 91,000 people would have their voting rights restored.

Eventually the list will be fixed, state officials have promised, in accordance with a settlement with the NAACP in its civil rights suit against Florida following the 2000 election. But not until the beginning of next year -- and after Jeb Bush's reelection bid is long over.
Top 10 Harvey Pitt Excuses [Motley Fool Take]
No Significant Rise In Cancer Deaths In 3-Mile Island Residents Over 20 Years. Only the technically illiterate expected anything different.