Thursday, December 11, 2008

"My horns? They look like this."












Former Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other senior U.S. officials share much of the blame for detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, according to portions of a report released on Thursday by the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The report's executive summary, made public by the committee's Democratic chairman Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan and its top Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, said Rumsfeld contributed to the abuse by authorizing aggressive interrogation techniques at Guantanamo Bay on December 2, 2002.

Click for the story at Reuters.com.

Kudos are due to John McCain for making this his first major deed since the election.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Paying the Price

Governor Bush
















Candidate Bush, hanging out with Nancy Pelosi's daughter.













President Bush - 2001 Inauguration














President Bush 2005

























President Bush 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What Climate Change Means to America

CALIFORNIA EDITION

























Monday, November 10, 2008

Friday, November 7, 2008

Hope

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Read all about it!

This is a must see - a collection of the front pages of hundreds of newspapers from around the world on November 5, 2008.

I ran across this on the excellent election meta-polling and analysis site, electoral-vote.com, which I have been studying compulsively for the last 6 weeks or so.

There is some fascinating info posted now, including an analysis of the accuracy of the pollsters (Quinnipiac = 100%, Rasmussen = 43%) and an analysis for evidence of a Bradley Effect that concluded it did not exist in this election.

Finally, a very cool slideshow of electoral-vote.com's daily metapoll maps from the end of the primaries until Election Day.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New Footage from MERCURY!


The imaging of Mercury began in 1970 with the Mariner missions, a project that was successful in documenting 45% of the planet's surface. NASA's Messenger spacecraft has captured an additional 45%, as shown in this striking photo. The planet is shown in double - actual coloration and a the output of 11 color filters.

Even more amazing, check out this clip - actual footage from the planet Mercury!



Its so surreal, especially getting this footage seemingly out of the blue at a time when everything is going so crazy in the world right now. If this were all a movie, the scrolling view of the planetary surface would suddenly reveal either a black monolith, an alien missile base or Jesus Christ himself taking a final rest break before rolling on down to Earth to reveal the end of the human race as we know it.


Read all about it at Wired Science!

Weekly Reader Poll

The Weekly Reader poll of students ranging in age from kindergarten to 12th grade has successfully predicted the winner in all but one of the presidential elections over the last 52 years - 12 of the last 13 races. Here are the results for 2008.















Weekly Reader has been a leading publisher of supplemental educational products for schools and libraries for more than 100 years.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Introducing: The Constitution Free Zone!

A report from the ACLU!

Expanding Border Powers Creating ‘Constitution-Free Zone’ That Covers Two-Thirds of Americans (10/22/2008)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (202) 675-2312; media@dcaclu.org

WASHINGTON – The extraordinary powers of customs and border agents to invade the privacy of individuals at the U.S. border are spreading inland and creating what amounts to a “Constitution-free Zone” that covers fully two-thirds of the American population, the American Civil Liberties Union said today in a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

“The authorities can do things at the border that they could never do to citizens and residents inside our country under the Constitution,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Yet the government is asserting that some of these powers extend as far as 100 miles inside the actual border. It is a classic example of law enforcement powers expanding far beyond their proper boundaries – in this case, literally.”

At the press conference, the ACLU released a map showing the 100-mile “border region” claimed by the government, and cities and states that fall within it. The map, which was created using the latest census data, shows that fully two-thirds of the U.S. population, including 9 of the nation’s top 10 largest metro areas, is within the border zone.

This map illustrates the scope of these powers:




Make no mistake, these powers are not simply being used to make a quick check of your license or passport for citizenship, or "Checking your papers," as they used to say in Nazi Germany. This is about your wife sobbing by the side of the road while enduring a complete shakedown, a jagoff Border Patrol agent screaming "Where are the drugs? What are you hiding?" while ransacking the belongings of your RV, looking for any example of possible wrongdoing... yet was so incompetent that he could not find the full-length shotgun at the foot of the tiny RV bed.

Ask me how I know.

Open your eyes and know that the police state is nigh upon us. The gold ring on that map is a noose that will close to leave us a disarmed, pacified and imprisoned American People, every Constitutional Right thrown away in the name of that oh-so-illusive wraith: security.

Take off the blinders and put together all the pieces that show how far we've fallen since 9/11:

* FREEDOM OF SPEECH: At both party's conventions your right to freedom of speech was offered from razor-wire topped detainment areas that were conveniently located a long way from everything else.

* EAVESDROPPING: The United States government now has the power to eavesdrop on Americans "believed to have ties to terrorism", an accusation that can be creatively applied to include anyone at all. We all know a prominent US Senator who stands thus accused from the mouth of the other candidate. How many thousands of people has Barack Obama alone met who may now be "tied to a terrorist" through a holistic interpretation of the eavesdropping standard?

And do you know the detailed histories of everyone you know or work with? Only today a tenured UGA professor was summarily dismissed when it was found he had a serious crime hidden in his past. He must have known hundreds and hundreds of people in his capacity as a departmental Graduate Coordinator and educator over the years. What random person in your life will provide the "legal grounds" to tie YOU to terrorism when they decide to come and get you?

Eventually it will be deemed most efficient to go ahead and keep track of all of our calls and emails, let an army of computers screen for evidence of criminal activity and - depending on the religious stripe of the executive in charge - perhaps even "moral" crimes.

* TORTURE: The United States abandoned all moral authority on the global stage with the decision to torture its enemies. Torture puts us in the company of such countries as China, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Malaysia, Morocco, Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Syria, Turkey, Uganda, and Uzbekistan, as well as such all time greats as Stalin's USSR, Hitler's Germany and, ironically enough, Saddam Hussein's Iraq. It's a moral disgrace, an act of evil institutionalized. How much longer until your "ties to terrorism" are deemed sufficient to give you a turn on a waterboard?

* HABEAS CORPUS: Immigrants can now be held indefinitely, without charge, even if they are NOT found to have links to terrorism. As a human being you either have a right to a fair trial or you do not. Once again, a noose that will be drawn slowly tighter against all of us until one day it is completely gone.

The list of civil liberties lost goes on and on, but the combined threat to our freedom does not end there.

* PERSONAL TRACKING/SURVEILLANCE: The movies always told us that we would be chipped or implanted for purposes of tracking. Who would have ever guessed we would voluntarily carry around the cell phones that allow authorities to plot you on a Google map just as easily as they track the buses on the streets of Athens, Georgia.

At the same time the US spy drones fly over the Middle East and our towns and cities are watched by security cameras.

All of this technology is ready to help protect us.

* BLACKWATER: Unlike US troops they have not taken an oath to the Constitution, yet they were selected to perform key security functions in Iraq, including protection of US diplomats.
In practice they have answered to no one, and have been exempt from prosecution for their murderous actions.

This private, mercenary army only recently abandon efforts to build a remote "training center" near the border in the deserts of California and their presence was documented on the ground in New Orleans after Katrina. How much longer until this private gestapo force is ready to take on "enemies of the state" without those few boundaries still binding the action of the government?

* INCARCERATION RATES:
The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world at 737 persons imprisoned per 100,000 (as of 2005).[15] A report released Feb. 28, 2008 indicates that in the United States more than 1 in 100 adults is now confined in an American jail or prison.[8] The United States has 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's incarcerated population.[6]

For comparison, in 2006 the incarceration rate in England and Wales is 139 persons imprisoned per 100,000 residents, while in Norway it is 59 inmates per 100,000, whilst the Australian imprisonment rate is 163 prisoners per 100,000 residents, and the rate of imprisonment in New Zealand last year was 179 per 100,000.


---

No one ever thinks it can happen where they live, in their countries, in their lifetimes. But happen it does, over and over again in history. And unless we drive the new government to wholesale restoration of our Constitutional rights we may find that we have suddenly slipped past the point of no return, that we are a nation of concentration camps and reeducation centers where dissenters will be taught to be a member in good standing of the "Real America" that the GOP would have us use to measure up the nation.




-------

Thanks to Ryan Singel at Wired BLOG and, most of all U-BOT!

VOTE!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Candidates



John McCain's Ace in the Hole?

Today the BBC reported that the US is being accused of violating the border with Syria.
'US troops' carry out Syria raid

US helicopter-borne troops have carried out a raid inside Syria along the Iraqi border, killing eight people including a woman, Syrian authorities say.

*snip*

The Syrian foreign ministry summoned the US envoy in Damascus to protest at the raid.

A government official told Sana: "Syria condemns this aggressive act and holds American forces responsible for this aggression and all of its repercussions."

I would have assumed US Spec Ops have been conducting raids into both Syria and Iran throughout the Iraq War. Why is this one attracting international coverage? Is it possible that this is John McCain's Electoral Ace in the Hole, a parting gift from W.?

Conventional wisdom has always held the nation would rush to stand behind John McCain if there were another 9/11 type incident . W. and Cheney have tested the waters regarding attacking Iran many times, both convinced that history would hail them as visionaries and heroes for their transformation of the Middle East.

If John McCain seemed destined to take the presidency they could allow him to further press the attack on Iran in his own good time. But with all polling pointing to an Obama landslide, W. and Cheney will have to move quickly if they are to execute their end game - a debilitating attack on Iran.

Now, a week before the election it would be easy to send a Blackwater unit over the border to shoot up some civilians, stir up a regional problem with Syria (and thus Iran) that could be cited as the justification for further action - an attack on American soil that would be attribute to Syrians, Iranians and possibly even Bill Ayers. And then low and behold - George Bush has an excused to attack Iran and also possibly deliver McCain/Palin to the presidency - a Gulf of Tonkin incident cranked up to 21st century proportions.

That's a whole heap of speculation, but it does bear watching to see how this one plays out.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Look Into the Future of the Nation!

There is no reason to expect the presidencies of the candidates to be any different from the campaigns in terms of tone.

Barack Obama has inspired hope in millions as evidenced not only by a gigantic nationwide volunteer effort that has yielded millions of newly registered voters and donations by more than 2.5 million individuals, but also through the huge, peaceful crowds that turn out to greet him:

May 18, 2008 - Portland, Oregon













July 24, 2008 - Berlin















Oct. 18, 2008 - St. Louis, Missouri















I never understood how the GOP managed to add a negative connotation to Obama's enormous popularity in the USA and abroad. Wouldn't that be a good characteristic for our President?

In addition to being wildly erratic, the McCain/Palin campaign has been one of divisiveness, suspicion and fear. It's more of the same Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rove fear mongering that was used to drive us to war with Iraq, steal our civil liberties, shame the nation with torture and whore out the American Taxpayers to Big Oil and Halliburton. McCain has cranked it up a notch further, inciting the rally attendees with the sort of speeches you imagine to be made to peasant mobs immediately prior to the storming of castles with torches and pitchforks.

Are we really considering turning the nation over to the Angry Mob contingent of the Republican party?





If anything ever happens to Barack Obama his blood will be on the hands of John McCain for stirring up all the right wing lunatics in the nation.

It worked for Paris Hilton!

In Ohio, battle of the plumbers (actual and otherwise) breaks out

As if further evidence was needed of the phenomenon that is "Joe the Plumber" (however brief it may be), there comes this e-mail advisory:

Real Toledo Area Plumbers to Hold Press Conference to Express Their Grave Concerns with Senator McCain’s Economic Policies

The message goes on to advise that in Northwood, Ohio, today "members of Local 50 Plumbers, Steamfitters and Service Mechanics" will not only take questions but "share their concerns with several of Sen. McCain's proposals, including his plan to tax employer-based healthcare insurance, his tax proposal which favors the wealthy over working Ohioans and other issues that will impact working families."

The gathering takes place shortly before a scheduled McCain appearance in nearby Westerville, Ohio.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Wonderful!





Thanks to Jim in Real Life

Friday, October 17, 2008

Barack Obama for President

Mr. Obama's temperament is unlike anything we've seen on the national stage in many years. He is deliberate but not indecisive; eloquent but a master of substance and detail; preternaturally confident but eager to hear opposing points of view. He has inspired millions of voters of diverse ages and races, no small thing in our often divided and cynical country. We think he is the right man for a perilous moment.


Oct. 19, 2008 - Los Angeles Times

We need a leader who demonstrates thoughtful calm and grace under pressure, one not prone to volatile gesture or capricious pronouncement. We need a leader well-grounded in the intellectual and legal foundations of American freedom. Yet we ask that the same person also possess the spark and passion to inspire the best within us: creativity, generosity and a fierce defense of justice and liberty.

On Nov. 4 we're going to elect a president to lead us through a perilous time and restore in us a common sense of national purpose. The strongest candidate to do that is Sen. Barack Obama. The Tribune is proud to endorse him today for president of the United States.


It is worth noting that this is the first time in its 161 year history that the Chicago Tribune has endorsed a Democrat for president.

He is not George Bush!

All Aboard!























Thanks to Clooperbot!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Fear The Palinator!

Make no mistake, Michael Wooten sounds like a redneck and a jackass and was probably a pain in the ass as a brother-in-law and even worse during the divorce, but we should be very, very alarmed at the prospect of a president who is willing to turn the full force of an Executive Office to pursuit of a personal vendetta with this degree of unyielding obsession.

ANCHORAGE — The 2007 state fair was days away when Alaska’s public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, took another call about one of his troopers, Michael Wooten. This time, the director of Gov. Sarah Palin’s Anchorage office was on the line.

As Mr. Monegan recalls it, the aide said the governor had heard that Mr. Wooten was assigned to work the kickoff to the fair. If so, Mr. Monegan should do something about it, because Ms. Palin was also planning to attend and did not want the trooper nearby.

Somewhat bewildered, Mr. Monegan soon determined that Mr. Wooten had indeed volunteered for duty at the fairgrounds — in full costume as “Safety Bear,” the troopers’ child-friendly mascot.

*snip*

Ms. Palin has denied that anyone told Mr. Monegan to dismiss Mr. Wooten, or that the commissioner’s ouster had anything to do with the trooper. But an examination of the case, based on interviews with Mr. Monegan and several top aides, indicates that, to a far greater degree than was previously known, the governor, her husband and her administration pressed the commissioner and his staff to get Mr. Wooten off the force, though without directly ordering it.

In all, the commissioner and his aides were contacted about Mr. Wooten three dozen times over 19 months by the governor, her husband and seven administration officials, interviews and documents show.


Also alarming is the level of authority that seems to exist for First Husband Todd Palin. Ostensibly he's a seasonal fisherman and oil industry employee, but the truth is that his involvement in state business has been so significant that the governor's own staff would regularly quip "What would Todd do?" on most serious decisions.

Ms. McCann “wanted to know what relief was available to her” without spending the money to return to court, the lawyer said, adding, “As a close family, the Palins did their best to help her by reaching out further to the trooper hierarchy, with Todd taking the lead.”

On Jan. 4, 2007, a month into the Palin administration and his tenure as public safety commissioner, Mr. Monegan was called to the governor’s Anchorage office to meet Todd Palin. Mr. Palin was seated at a conference table with three stacks of personnel files. That, Mr. Monegan recalled, was the first time he heard the name Mike Wooten.

“He conveyed to me that he and Sarah did not think the investigation into Wooten had been done well enough and that they were not happy with the punishment,” Mr. Monegan said. “Todd was clearly frustrated.”


Also troubling: Sarah Palin was having this man watched, a fact that was revealed in 2007 - two years after Trooper Wooten's divorce from Palin's sister.

Several evenings later, Mr. Monegan’s cellphone rang. “Walt, it’s Sarah,” the governor said before echoing much of what her husband had said. Mr. Wooten, he recalls being told, was “not the kind of person we should want as a trooper.” He told the governor, too, that there was no new evidence to pursue.

Soon after that, Mr. Palin and several aides began pressing the public safety agency to investigate another matter: whether Mr. Wooten was fraudulently collecting workers’ compensation for a back injury he said he had suffered while helping carry a body bag.

Mr. Palin’s evidence: He told Ms. Peterson, the commissioner’s assistant, that he had seen Mr. Wooten riding a snowmobile while on medical leave, and that he had photographs to prove it.


John McCain has consistently stated "look at the record" if you want to know the future. In this case Sarah Palin has shown herself to be perfectly willing to use - and thus abuse - the power of her office to try to take someone down for personal reasons. This is the kind of leadership we have seen around the world with such all time greats as Kim Jong Il, Saddam Hussein and Joseph Stalin.

John McCain is liable to croak at an inaugural ball on the night of January 20th, 2009. Do we really want to risk putting the unlimited power and resources of the United States of America in the hands of Todd and Sarah Palin?

-------

Here's the full story:
Palins Repeatedly Pressed Case Against Trooper

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sarah Palin's Debate Notes

Ever wonder what's in Sarah Palin's debate notes? The truth is revealed here by my supersecret ally, Speedbot.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Haw haw...

This graphic, from the Christian Science Monitor's site, would be even funnier if she were not in reach of the vice presidency...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

McCain Craters with Letterman

In much the same way that SNL blew all the magic hockey dust off Sarah Palin with Tina Fey's brilliant... um, you know... I dunno... mockery of her, Letterman may be personally responsible for driving a stake through McCain's campaign suspension stunt.

From a campaign PR standpoint it was the worst yet. Letterman was so pissed off by John McCain's last-second cancellation in support of this proposterous stunt that he would proceed to lambaste McCain hilariously for an hour in front of something like 3.4 million amused Americans. Worse yet, halfway through the show it is revealed that McCain lied to Letterman about the fact that he was heading straight to the airport to fly back to Washington. (As it turned out, McCain didn't even leave New York until the next day!)



Whatever you think of McCain or Letterman, it was one-of-a-kind television moment at a pivotal point in this election. It will be interesting to see if the negative effects disappear in the media clutter or resonate further. A certain percentage of the millions who saw that show on teevee or have since watched the clips on YouTube came to the conclusion that I did:

John McCain is a man that will tell you a big fat lie right to your face to serve himself.

Remember when the Republicans were very concerned about the lies a Presidents might tell? "We don't care that Bill got a blowjob from Monica, its the fact that he lied about it," they said on their way to launching Clinton's impeachment on charges of perjury.

Well whether they care about it now or not, the rest of us had better beware. You'd better believe that if McCain will lie to an "important" guy like David Letterman he'll sure do it to the American People.

McCain = Jimmy Carter?

Short but fascinating commentary by Thomas Defrank on McCain's latest Hail Mary pass against shifting polling numbers.

OXFORD, Miss. - At a difficult moment in the Vietnam War, crusty Republican Sen. George Aiken of Vermont offered a novel solution - simply declare victory, and leave.

John McCain resurrected Aiken's playbook Friday - except he declared defeat, and left.
Based on what we have seen of so far, I have to believe the theory that Keith Olbermann expressed on Letterman the other night - that it was a desperate attempt by McCain to screw up the debate schedule so that the Biden/Palin debate would end up being canceled.

Biden
was on Olbermann's show after the debate tonight and it was plain that he intended to stand back and let her hang herself with her own mouth.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Palin Doctrine - CNN Reports (first 3 min)

I bet you didn't even know that God had a special plan for Alaska during the End of Days!

I can see Russia from my house!

The reality is worse than SNL. Put to the question once again, we find ourselves in the company of a woman who cannot complete a sentence.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Couric - Palin Interview!



Key moments:

0:00 A pre-interview statement by Katie Couric noting that John McCain's campaign manager has been receiving payments of $15,000 a month from Freddie Mac up until last month. Freddie Mac, of course, just received a $200 billion taxpayer bailout.

0:30 Sarah Palin's response, in which she not only refuses to address the question put to her, but then has the audacity to use the question as a rhetorical jumping off point for the need for a good clean Washington. Palin starts to sound less pained in trying to come up with an answer when she can click back into the "we're going to clean up Washington" section of that one speech she has been giving since the Republican convention.

Her claim is preposterous. A total of 115 lobbyists are working on the campaign of John McCain, including campaign manager Rick Davis, who - you might of heard - was being paid $15,000 a month by Freddie Mac right up to the completion of the bailout, when they took him off the payroll. Mission accomplished, thanks very much for a job well done!

No one in their right mind can possibly believe that John McCain is going to run the lobbyists out of Washington if lobbyists are literally managing his campaign and profiting - right now - from the crisis that we are in.

1:52 Don't miss this - its the first escalation of the price tag of the bailout in the public spotlight, when Palin notes that this is probably more likely to be a $1 trillion buy-out. Watch to see this new number eased into the conversation once people have swallowed the initial $700 billion price tag.

I don't think anyone has any idea what the real number will be, but before you believe even the brand new $1 trillion estimate I would remind everyone of what happened the last time the American People were asked to write a blank check. On October 1, 2002, the Congressional Budget Office told the nation that the War in Iraq would cost between $9 and $13 billion. Cost to date: $646 billion and no end in sight.

3:11 Lately the news has been filled with a lot of facts and figures where "since the Great Depression" was cited. Now the language has suddenly moved to a Depression all our own. Is this our financial 9/11, or is this Wall Street's version of the WMD's?

4:10 Palin has made it clear that this Wall Street bailout package must be passed or the world will end. Without a trace of irony she then goes on to make it clear that there is no reason to protect average Americans from losing their homes, noting "decisions that have been made poorly should not be rewarded". Unbelievable! Sarah Palin is ready to step up to bat for Wall Street, but not a dime for the one million Americans who have lost their homes in the last two years.

4:26 Another red flag shoots up when Palin notes that it needs to be a "comprehensive, long-term solution". Hide the checkbook! Its the rebranding of Iraq as the "Long War" all over again!

4:43 Couric asks Palin to cite an example of John McCain's leading the charge on reform over the course of his 26 years in Congress, aside from supporting the 2006 Fannie/Freddie regulations. Couric dismisses her "he's done a heckuva lot more than the other Senators" rebuttal by noting that his legislative record has been consistently in favor of less regulation. Like a doll that will recite random statements when you pull the string in its back, Palin announces "He's The Maverick!" Pressed again, she cannot come up with a single example.

Well I've got an example of John McCain's track record of success in the area of regulation of the financial industry! In the late 1980s and early 1990s McCain was one of five US Senators who received a total of $1.3 million in contributions from Charles Keating, chairman of Lincoln Savings and Loan, with the express purpose of shielding them from regulation. Freedom from government oversight led directly to a debacle that included the failure of 747 Savings and Loans Associations and a taxpayer bailout of $124.6 billion. McCain would eventually be cleared of legal impropriety by the Senate Ethics Committee, but would be condemned for poor judgement.

Just as Palin promised, John McCain has a track record of experience that directly applies to the current situation!

WAKE UP PEOPLE!

I'm not that fond of heights

It is increasingly clear that we truly are poised at the brink of a monumental financial collapse.

The strength of the language being used by all parties tells us the truth is finally being revealed, that we are at the nexus of a perfect storm of negative economic forces:
  • The end of the era of easy, inexpensive petroleum due to massive oil field production collapses around the world, the impact of which on prices has been compounded by exploding growth in global demand and the uncertainty in the market generated by the Iraq war.
  • The collapse of the pyramid scheme of subprime mortgages that began in 2006.
  • The subsequent collapse of the home building industry with its tremendous demands for economy-fueling labor, raw materials and the vast collection of finished goods needed to fill them all up.
  • The wave of collapsing investment banks that ended this week with the dissolution of the "investment banking concept", which was a 75 year experiment in dodging the scrutiny, oversight and regulation that is delivered to regular deposit-accepting banks.
  • Most importantly of all, a trillion dollar debt that was raised to finance the Iraq war - the first time in history that an American war (let alone two) was not at least partially paid for with an increase in taxes. Now the value of the once mighty dollar has literally sunk to zero on the global market; today the value of a one month Treasury bond actually dipped below zero before returning to 0.5%.
And there is the crux of the thing. The country is officially bankrupt if that treasury rate finally settles on zero and stays there. Once that happens no other country will loan us the money that is currently allowing the nation to continue to function.

At the center of this storm is the $700 billion proposal from Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, which was a naked attempt to hang the entire bill for this massive bailout on the American people, with no restrictions of any kind. I was STUNNED, absolutely STUNNED to learn that the first proposal delivered by Paulson includes this language:

“Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency."

The incredible balls of the man to even put that forward! It sounds a lot like what Naomi Klein calls:
"the shock doctrine”: using the public’s disorientation following massive collective shocks – wars, terrorist attacks, or natural disasters -- to achieve control by imposing economic shock therapy.

Hank Paulson, of course, had a 22 year career at banking giant Goldman Sachs that ended with his nomination to the current position of Treasury Secretary in 2006*. Interestingly, Goldman Sachs is one of the two giant investment banks that was left standing after the wave of collapses over the last two weeks, a fact that would be rewarded by investing giant Warren Buffet with a $5 billion influx of cash this week, perhaps to help them celebrate their transition into the world of deposit-accepting banks along with a much tattered Merill Lynch.

The whole experience would be a win-win for Paulson and his many friends in the investment banking industry, having made all that money while constructing that giant pyramid of subprime mortgages, and then again through an unregulated, unscrutinized taxpayer bailout after the balloon finally popped.

Undoubtedly he got the idea to bleed the taxpayers from Vice President Cheney, whose previous employer - Halliburton - has enjoyed record growth in the course of implementing the war plans first written when Cheney was Sec. Defense for George H. W. Bush. Or perhaps he was inspired by W. himself, an oilman whose friends back home have realized all time record high profits since W. took office.

Three cheers for the big brass balls of Hank Paulson! Its good to know his first thought was on protecting his personal net worth of between $500 and $700 million. Perhaps he will agree to fund a few soup kitchens if the rest of us go down the drain.

Senator Obama is demanding that any bailout include these four features:

1. The plan must include protections to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used to further reward the bad behavior of irresponsible CEOs on Wall Street. This plan cannot be a welfare program for Wall Street executives.

2. Second, the power to spend $700 billion of taxpayer money cannot be left to the discretion of one man, no matter who he is or which party he is from.

3. If taxpayers are being asked to underwrite hundreds of billions of dollars to solve this crisis, they must be treated like investors. The American people should share in the upside as Wall Street recovers. And after the economy recovers, we should institute a financial stability fee on the entire financial services industry to repay any losses to the American people and make sure we are never asked again to foot the bill for Wall Street's mistakes. We can ask taxpayers to make an investment in the stability of our economy, but we cannot ask them to hand their money over to Wall Street without some expectation of being made whole.

4. The final plan must provide help to families who are struggling to stay in their homes.

For his part, McCain is seeking to flee the scheduled debate, incomprehensibly throwing away his opportunity to stand up and tell the nation what he plans to do to lead us from this catastrophe. Either McCain or Obama is going to be running the country in roughly three months. We, the American People, have a right to know what McCain plans to do about all this.

It is possible that has caught whatever ailment is afflicting Sarah Palin, whose exposure to real questions from the press or the public has still been limited to practically none at all. We have had eight years of continuous stonewalling from the Bush Administration. Can we expect anything else from a McCain/Palin administration that had already raised their force fields 39 days from the election?

* A little known piece of trivia - immediately prior to joining Goldman Sachs in 1974, Paulson worked in the Nixon administration as John Ehrlichman's assistant. He lost this position when Ehrlichman was forced to resign by the Senate Watergate Committee, the first step toward a road that took Ehrlichman on to an 18 month stay at Safford Federal Correctional Institution for convictions in conspiracy, obstruction of justice and perjury.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Back to you, Larry!
















Click to learn more about this amazing 7 acre corn maze tribute to the Voice of the Dogs, Mr. Larry Munson. Its located at Southern Belle Farm in Henry County, south of Atlanta.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Palin Doctrine - Bring About the Rapture

Since 9/11 George W. Bush has been plain about the fact that he is driven by a higher power. Not only did he famously tell Bob Woodward that he consulted a "higher Father" before going to war in Iraq, but he also told the Prime Minister of Palestine that God himself told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq.

Nabil Shaath says: "President Bush said to all of us: 'I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, "George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan." And I did, and then God would tell me, "George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq …" And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, "Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East." And by God I'm gonna do it.'"


The 28% of the nation responsible who still holds W. in high regard are undoubtedly the ones who believe that George W. Bush will be heralded by history as the man who fired the first shot in the Final Crusade against Islam that would be necessary for the return of the Messiah - Jesus Christ. Based on the apocalyptic nature of the faith she has followed her entire life, there is a very significant likelihood that this is the plan that Sarah Palin was talking about when she said, "Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God. There is a plan and it is God's plan."

That is to say, she was not talking about God's plan as a euphemism for destiny. She was talking about the plan that is spelled out in a literal interpretation of the Bible, which includes the many unfortunate things that has to happen before Jesus will return to deliver the Rapture.

Key among these is that the Jews must be allowed to build their Third Temple on the exact site of the original - King Solomon's Temple, which was built 1,000 years before the birth of Christ. Unfortunately, this particular bit of real estate is currently the home of both the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, which are Islam's third holiest site and oldest Islamic building in the world, respectively. Needless to say, the Muslim faith would have to be completely defeated once and for all before they would ever let these two important structures be razed in preparation of the construction of the Jewish Third Temple.

Of course, there are other chores to complete until the Palin Doctrine can be established atop the already broad foundation of unfettered aggression laid by the Bush Doctrine. For example, a Mississippi rancher named Clyde Lodt is currently working on breeding the perfect red heifers that will be required for sacrifice as dictated in the Old Testament (Numbers 19:2). A google search will reveal a great many enthusiastic supporters for the rebuilding of this temple and all that it implies, some even with such breathless promises as "The fruit of the Rapture is waiting for you" and "Utopia at last".

Sam Harris best describes the threat of the Palin presidency in the Sept 29 issue of Newsweek, (published online on September 20 and sent to me by the Lobot on September 21):

In the churches where Palin has worshiped for decades, parishioners enjoy "baptism in the Holy Spirit," "miraculous healings" and "the gift of tongues." Invariably, they offer astonishingly irrational accounts of this behavior and of its significance for the entire cosmos. Palin's spiritual colleagues describe themselves as part of "the final generation," engaged in "spiritual warfare" to purge the earth of "demonic strongholds." Palin has spent her entire adult life immersed in this apocalyptic hysteria. Ask yourself: Is it a good idea to place the most powerful military on earth at her disposal? Do we actually want our leaders thinking about the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy when it comes time to say to the Iranians, or to the North Koreans, or to the Pakistanis, or to the Russians or to the Chinese: "All options remain on the table"?
It would be lunacy to put this woman in the position where a single fundamentalist Christian zealot who is willing to be a martyr can "clear the path" for her to assume the presidency of the United States of America where she could either launch the predestined nuclear war or take who knows what other civilization-destroying actions in preparation for the times spelled out in the Book of Revelations.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

FDIC: Closed for Remodeling

Buried in today's New York Times story on the collapse of Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch was this distressing bit of news:

And Merrill Lynch is hardly the only troubled financial institution on the horizon. Administration officials acknowledged this week that more bank failures are inevitable, and the main protection for depositors — the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation — is likely to exhaust the reserves it has built over the years from bank insurance premiums.

After the reserves at the FDIC run dry I'm sure if our home town banks implode with our deposits we can expect to be issued vouchers for repayment in some later decade . Hopefully the middle class will not have any more pressing needs for their cash during the immediate future.

SNL: Stunning Impersonation + Perfect Message

She needs to answer to the charges of abuse of power and cronyism that are being leveled as the press completes the vetting that McCain clearly skipped. Is this woman an example of the kind of decisions John McCain might make when he gets that 3:00 am phone call?

A Dramatic Reading: Town Meeting, Wasilla, Alaska

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sarah Palin - Look but don't talk!

I am amused to see that the McCain campaign is afraid to let their beauty queen speak to either the press or the public! I can only chuckle with delight at the possibility that sooner or later she will begin to make asses of all of them once she starts getting hit with real questions.

A good place to start would be with the long list of accusations made by Wasilla resident Anne Kilkenny, who has known Mrs. Maverick since 1992 and has a few things to say about the Governor's claims in a letter that has been circulating like mad (reproduced below for your convenience). Read this thing and be amazed at how much she sounds like our sitting President.

And that really brings me to my greatest fear regarding Sarah Palin; like George W. Bush, she is merely a figurehead selected for her natural philosophical alignment and a malleability that will allow her to be steered to continue forward with the agenda of the neocon cabal that has delivered us two unwinnable wars and flushed the Bill of Rights down the drain. Lets not even get into whether or not the whole thing is actually cover for a holy war designed to crush Islam, secure the oil and rebuild the Temple so that Jesus will finally return.


ABOUT SARAH PALIN

I am a resident of Wasilla, Alaska. I have known Sarah since 1992.
Everyone here knows Sarah, so it is nothing special to say we are on a first-name basis. Our children have attended the same schools. Her
father was my child’s favorite substitute teacher. I also am on a
first name basis with her parents and mother-in-law. I attended more
City Council meetings during her administration than about 99% of the residents of the city.

She is enormously popular; in every way she’s like the most popular
girl in middle school. Even men who think she is a poor choice and
won’t vote for her can’t quit smiling when talking about her because
she is a “babe”.

It is astonishing and almost scary how well she can keep a secret. She
kept her most recent pregnancy a secret from her children and parents for seven months.

She is “pro-life”. She recently gave birth to a Down’s syndrome baby.
There is no cover-up involved, here; Trig is her baby.

She is energetic and hardworking. She regularly worked out at the gym.

She is savvy. She doesn’t take positions; she just “puts things out
there” and if they prove to be popular, then she takes credit.

Her husband works a union job on the North Slope for BP and is a
champion snowmobile racer. Todd Palin’s kind of job is highly
sought-after because of the schedule and high pay. He arranges his
work schedule so he can fish for salmon in Bristol Bay for a month or
so in summer, but by no stretch of the imagination is fishing their
major source of income. Nor has her life-style ever been anything
like that of native Alaskans.

Sarah and her whole family are avid hunters.

She’s smart.

Her experience is as mayor of a city with a population of about 5,000
(at the time), and less than 2 years as governor of a state with about
670,000 residents.

During her mayoral administration most of the actual work of running
this small city was turned over to an administrator. She had been
pushed to hire this administrator by party power-brokers after she had
gotten herself into some trouble over precipitous firings which had given rise to a recall campaign.

Sarah campaigned in Wasilla as a “fiscal conservative”. During her 6
years as Mayor, she increased general government expenditures by over
33%. During those same 6 years the amount of taxes collected by the
City increased by 38%. This was during a period of low inflation
(1996-2002). She reduced progressive property taxes and increased a
regressive sales tax which taxed even food. The tax cuts that she
promoted benefited large corporate property owners way more than they
benefited residents.

The huge increases in tax revenues during her mayoral administration
weren’t enough to fund everything on her wish list though, borrowed
money was needed, too. She inherited a city with zero debt, but left it
with indebtedness of over $22 million.

What did Mayor Palin encourage
the voters to borrow money for? Was it the infrastructure that she said
she supported? The sewage treatment plant that the city lacked? or a
new library? No. $1m for a park. $15m-plus for construction of a
multi-use sports complex which she rushed through to build on a piece
of property that the City didn’t even have clear title to, that was
still in litigation 7 yrs later–to the delight of the lawyers
involved! The sports complex itself is a nice addition to the
community but a huge money pit, not the profit-generator she claimed it
would be. She also supported bonds for $5.5m for road projects that
could have been done in 5-7 yrs without any borrowing.

While Mayor, City Hall was extensively remodeled and her office
redecorated more than once.

These are small numbers, but Wasilla is a very small city.

As an oil producer, the high price of oil has created a budget surplus
in Alaska. Rather than invest this surplus in technology that will
make us energy independent and increase efficiency, as Governor she
proposed distribution of this surplus to every individual in the state.

In this time of record state revenues and budget surpluses, she
recommended that the state borrow/bond for road projects, even while
she proposed distribution of surplus state revenues: spend today’s
surplus, borrow for needs.

She’s not very tolerant of divergent opinions or open to outside ideas
or compromise. As Mayor, she fought ideas that weren’t generated by
her or her staff. Ideas weren’t evaluated on their merits, but on the
basis of who proposed them.

While Sarah was Mayor of Wasilla she tried to fire our highly respected
City Librarian because the Librarian refused to consider removing from
the library some books that Sarah wanted removed. City residents
rallied to the defense of the City Librarian and against Palin’s
attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew
her termination letter. People who fought her attempt to oust the
Librarian are on her enemies list to this day.

Sarah complained about the “old boy’s club” when she first ran for
Mayor, so what did she bring Wasilla? A new set of “old boys”. Palin
fired most of the experienced staff she inherited. At the City and as
Governor she hired or elevated new, inexperienced, obscure people,
creating a staff totally dependent on her for their jobs and eternally
grateful and fiercely loyal–loyal to the point of abusing their power
to further her personal agenda, as she has acknowledged happened in the
case of pressuring the State’s top cop (see below).

As Mayor, Sarah fired Wasilla’s Police Chief because he “intimidated”
her, she told the press. As Governor, her recent firing of Alaska’s top
cop has the ring of familiarity about it. He served at her pleasure
and she had every legal right to fire him, but it’s pretty clear that
an important factor in her decision to fire him was because he wouldn’t
fire her sister’s ex-husband, a State Trooper. Under investigation
for abuse of power, she has had to admit that more than 2 dozen
contacts were made between her staff and family to the person that she
later fired, pressuring him to fire her ex-brother-in-law. She tried to
replace the man she fired with a man who she knew had been reprimanded
for sexual harassment; when this caused a public furor, she withdrew
her support.

She has bitten the hand of every person who extended theirs to her in
help. The City Council person who personally escorted her around town
introducing her to voters when she first ran for Wasilla City Council
became one of her first targets when she was later elected Mayor. She
abruptly fired her loyal City Administrator; even people who didn’t
like the guy were stunned by this ruthlessness.

Fear of retribution has kept all of these people from saying anything
publicly about her.

When then-Governor Murkowski was handing out political plums, Sarah got
the best, Chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission: one
of the few jobs not in Juneau and one of the best paid. She had no
background in oil & gas issues. Within months of scoring this great
job which paid $122,400/yr, she was complaining in the press about the
high salary. I was told that she hated that job: the commute, the
structured hours, the work. Sarah became aware that a member of this
Commission (who was also the State Chair of the Republican Party)
engaged in unethical behavior on the job. In a gutsy move which some
undoubtedly cautioned her could be political suicide, Sarah solved all
her problems in one fell swoop: got out of the job she hated and
garnered gobs of media attention as the patron saint of ethics and as a
gutsy fighter against the “old boys’ club” when she dramatically quit,
exposing this man’s ethics violations (for which he was fined).

As Mayor, she had her hand stuck out as far as anyone for pork from
Senator Ted Stevens. Lately, she has castigated his pork-barrel
politics and publicly humiliated him. She only opposed the “bridge to
nowhere” after it became clear that it would be unwise not to.

As Governor, she gave the Legislature no direction and budget
guidelines, then made a big grandstand display of line-item vetoing
projects, calling them pork. Public outcry and further legislative
action restored most of these projects–which had been vetoed simply
because she was not aware of their importance–but with the unobservant
she had gained a reputation as “anti-pork”.

She is solidly Republican: no political maverick. The State party
leaders hate her because she has bit them in the back and humiliated
them. Other members of the party object to her self-description as a
fiscal conservative.

Around Wasilla there are people who went to high school with Sarah.
They call her “Sarah Barracuda” because of her unbridled ambition and
predatory ruthlessness. Before she became so powerful, very ugly
stories circulated around town about shenanigans she pulled to be made
point guard on the high school basketball team. When Sarah’s
mother-in-law, a highly respected member of the community and
experienced manager, ran for Mayor, Sarah refused to endorse her.

As Governor, she stepped outside of the box and put together of package
of legislation known as “AGIA” that forced the oil companies to march
to the beat of her drum.

Like most Alaskans, she favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge. She has questioned if the loss of sea ice is linked to
global warming. She campaigned “as a private citizen” against a state
initiaitive that would have either a) protected salmon streams from
pollution from mines, or b) tied up in the courts all mining in the
state (depending on who you listen to). She has pushed the State’s
lawsuit against the Dept. of the Interior’s decision to list polar
bears as threatened species.

McCain is the oldest person to ever run for President; Sarah will be a
heartbeat away from being President.

There has to be literally millions of Americans who are more
knowledgeable and experienced than she.

However, there’s a lot of people who have underestimated her and are
regretting it.

CLAIM VS FACT
•“Hockey mom”: true for a few years
•“PTA mom”: true years ago when her first-born was in elementary
school, not since
•“NRA supporter”: absolutely true
•social conservative: mixed. Opposes gay marriage, BUT vetoed a bill
that would have denied benefits to employees in same-sex relationships
(said she did this because it was unconsitutional).
•pro-creationism: mixed. Supports it, BUT did nothing as Governor to
promote it.
•“Pro-life”: mixed. Knowingly gave birth to a Down’s syndrome baby
BUT declined to call a special legislative session on some pro-life
legislation
•“Experienced”: Some high schools have more students than Wasilla has
residents. Many cities have more residents than the state of Alaska.
No legislative experience other than City Council. Little hands-on
supervisory or managerial experience; needed help of a city
administrator to run town of about 5,000.
•political maverick: not at all
•gutsy: absolutely!
•open & transparent: ??? Good at keeping secrets. Not good at
explaining actions.
•has a developed philosophy of public policy: no
•”a Greenie”: no. Turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores
and disconnected parking lots. Is pro-drilling off-shore and in ANWR.
•fiscal conservative: not by my definition!
•pro-infrastructure: No. Promoted a sports complex and park in a city
without a sewage treatment plant or storm drainage system. Built
streets to early 20th century standards.
•pro-tax relief: Lowered taxes for businesses, increased tax burden on
residents
•pro-small government: No. Oversaw greatest expansion of city
government in Wasilla’s history.
•pro-labor/pro-union. No. Just because her husband works union
doesn’t make her pro-labor. I have seen nothing to support any claim
that she is pro-labor/pro-union.

WHY AM I WRITING THIS?

First, I have long believed in the importance of being an informed
voter. I am a voter registrar. For 10 years I put on student voting
programs in the schools. If you google my name (Anne Kilkenny +
Alaska), you will find references to my participation in local
government, education, and PTA/parent organizations.

Secondly, I’ve always operated in the belief that “Bad things happen
when good people stay silent”. Few people know as much as I do because
few have gone to as many City Council meetings.

Third, I am just a housewife. I don’t have a job she can bump me out
of. I don’t belong to any organization that she can hurt. But, I am no
fool; she is immensely popular here, and it is likely that this will
cost me somehow in the future: that’s life.

Fourth, she has hated me since back in 1996, when I was one of the 100
or so people who rallied to support the City Librarian against Sarah’s
attempt at censorship.

Fifth, I looked around and realized that everybody else was afraid to
say anything because they were somehow vulnerable.

CAVEATS
I am not a statistician. I developed the numbers for the increase in
spending & taxation 2 years ago (when Palin was running for Governor)
from information supplied to me by the Finance Director of the City of
Wasilla, and I can’t recall exactly what I adjusted for: did I adjust
for inflation? for population increases? Right now, it is impossible
for a private person to get any info out of City Hall–they are
swamped. So I can’t verify my numbers.

You may have noticed that there are various numbers circulating for the
population of Wasilla, ranging from my “about 5,000″, up to 9,000. The
day Palin’s selection was announced a city official told me that the
current population is about 7,000. The official 2000 census count was
5,460. I have used about 5,000 because Palin was Mayor from 1996 to
2002, and the city was growing rapidly in the mid-90’s.

Anne Kilkenny
annekilkenny@hotmail.com
August 31, 2008

Cable News Douchebags

Karl Rove, O'Reilly and other teevee jackasses are brilliantly skewered with their own words. Thank you Jon Stewart!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Long Live UGA VII - a Damn Good Dog!

Relive the coronation of UGA VII, the University of Georgia new mascot, through this nifty audio slideshow produced by UGA's Office of Public Affairs.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Mean Kitty Song

Thanks to the Grimmdroid for putting the eye on this one!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Mine Tour

I've been excavating an access trench into the back area of my crawlspace in order to install some new support pilings and beams. Here's the progress after 71 loads pulled out in a little green garden wagon - just over six tons of hard red clay. A 36" tall yellow rod is provided for scale.




















































Here's a comparison shot of the progress between the 36 load mark (June 19) and now (August 10). Every bit of has to be chopped loose with a pick before you can muck it out with a shovel. Needless to say, its pretty slow going.
































Sometimes I get a visitor!