Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas. Being an atheist, I obviously don't celebrate the Holy Day just the holiday. Some, I know, reject all the trappings of the season but I have no problem in enjoying the non-religious aspects. Just as the Romans stole many of the traditions of the Pagan religions to overlay them on Christianity, so do we non-believers adopt the parts which fit into our lives. I have a christmas tree every year and love that symbol of the rebirth of the land without believing in any religious rebirth. And I'm sorry, but only Scrooge doesn't like to give and receive gifts regardless of the season.
So anyway as we crawl out of the trenches of the no man's land of the WAR ON CHRISTMAS (TM Fox), I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year and have a cold (or hot) beverage on me!

Monday, December 17, 2007


I missed the original story on Nov 11th when someone defaced the Confederate Monument in Montgomery Alabama. It seems the hands and faces of the Confederate soldiers depicted were painted black and "N.T. 11 13 31" was scrawled on the base. Freedom fighter Nat Turner was hanged on Nov 11,1831. As a Northerner (whose family fought in the Union army) I've always had a certain disdain for the Southern penchant for memorializing secessionists. I mean in most civilized countries people who display the battle flag of the losing side in a civil war are hung, but we here in America have always treated the south like an uncle who drinks a little too much. Obnoxious, but what the hell he's family.
Now this would appear to be the work of African Americans upset over a monument to those that fought for slavery, and who could blame them? I mean one really can't expect American Blacks to celebrate their enslavers. The interesting take on this story is that three white teenagers were arrested on Dec 14th for the vandalism. Now I guess my days of cheering on militant acts against are over, but I just can't help feeling that this could be a good thing. It might be that the white teens were really provocateurs trying to stir up resentment between the races but I would like to believe that the youth of Alabama have come so far beyond their Jim Crow past as to feel shame over these outdated monuments to oppression. It'll be worth following the story to find what the motivation really was.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Lies, damned lies, and statisics

The Flyover Times (Your PROGRESSIVE Newspaper) has, as it has done every Wednesday for several years, published on it's front page the Human Cost Of The Iraq War. This consists of the number of US deaths (3886), wounded in action (28661), and estimated Iraq civilian deaths (81717). The first two figures are pretty much accurate without question but it boggles the mind that a "progressive" newspaper would use the absolute lowest figure they could find for our carnage in Iraq. Two years ago respected analysts in England put the figure somewhere between 500,000 and 800,000. Just looking at the numbers of car bomb and execution victims that have been in the papers for the last two years makes the 81,000 figure absurd. I guess that if we, as a people, were responsible for a milliom deaths we might have to launch a campaign to remove everyone who had sent us into this immoral and illegal war. Nah, might not play well with the advertisers.


Six years after it was first proposed and after months of wrangling with the current legislature the Compassionate Care For Rape Victims was passed last night. The Republican State Journal reported this morning that the bill was dead, but just before midnight the Assembly passed the act 56 to 41. Apparently this was after the bedtime of the WSJ reporter. Kudos to Rep. Terry Mussser, R-Human Race for his co-authoring of this much needed bill.
If you are not familiar with this bill, it requires hospitals to offer emergency contraception to sexual assault victims. "Plan B" is essentially a high dose of birth control pills which will prevent pregnancy if taken within 72 hours after intercourse. Radical members of the American Taliban oppose this because women might get even more uppity than they already are.
The Rethuglican party of course had to get one last bit of obstruction in and blocked reading of the bill which stops signing of the legislation until the Assembly re-convenes in January. This benefits the Rethugs because they believe the unwanted products of conception due to rape almost always grow up to vote for them.
Now if only we can get that "Holiday Tree" renamed.

Monday, December 10, 2007

For those of you who don't watch TV you are missing the time of your life. For example last night I saw an Ad for {I shit you not} H.O.P.E., the Hummer Owners Prepared for Emergencies. The Ad depicted hummer owners driving through horrendous weather to save lives. Just when you thought that hummer owners were selfish eco-saboteurs, you find out that they're really working for Fatherland Security. I've never felt safer.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Blank Slate of Fear

I didn't bother to watch the Bill Maher show clip where he was heckled by 9/11 Truthers. I don't like Maher much and I really don't care about conspiracy nuts. Way too often the important aspects of an issue are obscured by trying to bring everyone from god to Santa Claus in on the crime. The right wing assholes love the 9/11 crowd because it's another way to make the Left look looney and out of touch. Honestly at this point I don't give a rat's ass who killed the Kennedys.
Having said that, it's time for me to don my tinfoil cheesehead.
I have lately become more and more convinced that the neocon extremists were aware of the plot that we now simply call 9/11. Maybe not to the extent that they for saw or necessarily wanted the massive destruction and loss of life on that day, nor certainly with any collusion with bin Laden other the support we had given him for years in Afghanistan, but certainly to the level that they knew an action was being planed and when it was going to happen. The look on Chimpy's face as he read My Pet Goat was not that of shock that an attack had happened but that the attack was so devastating. The dismissal of the aide that briefed him before the attack with "you've covered your ass, now get out of here" makes much more sense in this light. For years this crowd was looking for a "Pearl Harbor like event" on which to drape the fabric of the New American Century. Somehow I can see them salivating for another incident like the first Trade Center bombings. Lots of smoke, a few dead and the perfect reason to institute the draconian measures they love so much. It's revealed now that they were setting up the Telecoms for eavesdropping long before September 2001, why would we believe that they didn't have other ideas as well?
Unlike most conspiracy theories that require a cast of thousands, this could have happened with just the knowledge of a few intelligence personnel (notoriously tight lipped when involved with illegal ops) and some in the White House (even more notoriously tight lipped). Once the deed was done, I could imagine how they would view it as the biggest windfall of all time. A blank slate of fear on which they would write a new way of doing business in America.
Maybe I'm wrong. Way off base. Maybe they were just so bumbling that all the facts that were laid at their feet didn't click and they just missed this enormous crime. Maybe but I don't think so.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Interesting article hidden away in the NY Times today. Celia Dugger writes about the striking reduction in the amount of food aid in the Third World this year. The gist of the article is not that the US is cutting back on it's commitment in terms of dollars, but that those dollars buy 35% less food then they did in 2006. Her sources suggest that there will be a similar drop in buying power over the next two years.

This is yet another domino in the global food cost inctrease being driven by high oil prices and probably more quickly by the rapidly increasing cost of corn on the world market. The corn price increase is of course due to the drive in the US to use corn for fuel instead of food.

Couple this with the US insistance that American farm products be shipped over-seas and then sold to finance the buying of food relief supplies, and you have a recipe for increased world hunger rather than hunger relief. The entire article can be read here.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Kerry lecture at F.U. shows just how much the Dems differ from the Rethugs. The Rethugs have protest areas miles away from the event and never let anyone who is un-vetted near the speaker. The Dems give you a full two minutes to rant and then have you Tazered.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


Fact checker Kangaroo
My editor Moe

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Kill Your TV Not!

Recently I was following a thread on another blog when someone posted a link to pictures of Amy Winehouse after her latest reason to go to rehab. Now, I'm not a fan of Winehouse, but following her spiral into oblivion has a certain fascination. Much like the need to slow for a car wreck. The thing that interested me was when someone else asked who Winehouse was. When informed that she was the singer of that "rehab song" that was all over the airwaves, the asker replied "I never listen to commercial radio or TV".
I run across this attitude seemingly more often all the time. I am always amazed when I hear someone call into a talk radio show and say "I don't own a television". And of course the prevalence of the Kill Your Television bumper stickers. Now I certainly don't want to force anyone to listen to or view anything they don't wish to, but I'm at a loss to know how you can even start to gage the mood and the prevailing feelings of the majority of Americans who use the airwaves to gain the bulk of their (admittedly limited) knowledge of the world around them.
I don't want to hear about how the MSM is nothing but crap and you can't use it for real information. The fact is most Americans do. If you don't gain a feel for the dis-information that that they are being fed, then you will be just as misinformed as they, are albeit in a different manner. If you care about what is happening in this country, then you should call bull-shit when you see it and that includes calling the media when they are at their worst. Every single person should write their local paper when they print nonsense and call them on it. Imagine what would happen if thousands and thousands of Americans called NBC or CBS or ABC and said "The occupation of Iraq is the most important story you can report on. Why do you spend 30 seconds a day on it and never have any real reporting of what it's really like on the ground?" That kind of pressure would have real effects on what Joe Six Pack sees every day.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

I didn't have much time to watch the talking heads this morning but I did listen to Meet The Press on the radio on the way to work. I caught some of Senator Warner with Timmeh. Most of it was the predictable rethuglican "I'm trying to distance myself from Iraq without saying anything bad about Bush" but one thing he said struck me so much I had to go back and read the transcripts. After telling about how sad chimpy was at Arlington Cemetery he emphasised that the Senate had no desire to override the president. His next line floored me. He stated "—we’re an independent branch of our government, co-equal in many respects with authority and responsibility—". Now I'm no constitutional scholar, but it seems to me that the basic concept of our government was that the three branches of government were wholly equal and that while each had its duties, none was subservient to the other except in specific areas clearly spelled out within the constitution. That a Senator believes that his own house is in some way beneath the executive branch goes a long way in explaining just how we got intotheconstitutional crisis that we are in today. If you woud like to read the quote in situ you can link here.

Friday, August 17, 2007

One Nation.......With Liberty And Justice For All

Well the jury is in and Jose Padilla has been found guilty. Just not for what he was arrested for. The charges put before the court were that he conspired to murder, kidnap and maim. Just who he was planning on murdering or kidnapping or maiming is not quite clear. Americans in general I guess. Oddly enough, I have no idea if Padilla really planned on doing these heinous crimes or not. Neither did the jury that convicted him. The main evidence against him was a job application to join the Taliban, complete with his fingerprints on it. One would think that a man facing up to twenty years in prison would try to put up a defense against such thin evidence but Padilla offered almost no help to his lawyers in fighting these charges. Therein lies the greater crime committed here.

Padilla was arrested in May of 2002 coming back into this country and subsequently charged as an enemy combatant. Under this status he was the first American to be held solely on the basis of anti-terrorism laws without recourse to lawyers or law. He was held in a Navy Brig without access to council for two years. The lack of basic rights was bad enough but the conditions of his imprisonment are more than horrendous. He was kept in a 7 by 10 foot concrete cell with no window. The lights were on 24 hours a day. The cell had a toilet, a concrete slab and a concrete bed with no pillow, mattress or even a sheet. His meals were passed to him through a slot in the door. No radio, no tv, nothing even to read including the Koran. The only people he ever spoke with were his interrogators and when he left this cell he was cuffed, chained, blindfolded, and his ears were covered. There were also accusations that he was given mind altering drugs.

By the time he was given access to legal council his mind was so deranged that he refused to tell them of his interrogation because it was "classified". His lawyers have stated that he was terrified of being found innocent because then he would have to go back to the Brig. If he was found guilty he could go to a regular jail! Of course his jury was never told of any of this.

James Oliphant of the Chicago Tribune writes today that the conviction was a "victory in the Bush administration's campaign against terrorism" and that "The conviction could also help to moderate criticism of the way Padilla was handled by the government." One wonders how this could be until one reads the entire article and realizes that the MSM is mostly skipping over the three and one half years of torture that got them here. Even the Flyover Times (with the banner "Your Progressive Newspaper" over the masthead) buried the story on page seven with nary a mention of impropriety by our government!

The next time someone says to you "I can't understand how the people of Germany allowed Hitler to do all those awful things", think back to Jose Padilla. If you look in the mirror you will see Herr Schmidt or Herr Johannas who voted National Socialist Workers Party because they promised Fatherland security. I titled this post with the end of the Pledge of Allegiance. Perhaps it is time to go back to the roots of this pledge over one hundred years ago. It was originally supposed to be recited with arm outstretched, palm down.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

I just got a new cell phone this week. Actually it is the same as the old one which I lost. (Very disconcerting. For a week I kept calling it in the vain hope I might hear it ring and find it. Almost like I was lost!) I waited a couple of days because my cell phone guy, Jay, was up in Minneapolis at a wedding.
When I went in I asked him if he was there when the bridge went down. He told me was at the Metrodome for the Twinkies game when it happened. His niece's boyfriend had walked across the adjoining bridge just as it fell and was in a cloud of dust but never knew the bridge fell! One other person at the wedding was literally feet away from being on the bridge when it went down and his daughter was in the car behind him.
I think that people outside of flyover country don,t realize just how close this tragedy was to being hugely worse. I have not spoken with one person since it happened that has not said to me "Oh, I was there a week (day, month, two months) ago." There were literally thousands of people on, around or under that bridge every day. I still can,t believe the death toll wasn't one hundred times what is being projected.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

I have felt very bi-polar this week. On Saturday night I was reading another blog when word came through that the Congress had passed the FISA court changes. Others on the blog felt that the world (or at least America) had come to an end. I must say I felt very discouraged myself.

Come Sunday, apparently, the world had righted itself as not one of the Sunday talking heads appeared to even have noticed. The only mention was a passing comment as to how the Dems were protecting themselves from bad press.

Sunday night and I'm reading posts from people who are saying they think they want to leave the US.

Monday it had become old news.

I can't help but feeling that this is not a watershed moment, but just another milestone on a slow downward spiral. With just over 500 days left (I hope) of this criminal administration, I can only continue to believe that America will live through this.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

I just saw the disaster in Minneapolis. I've not been in the area in quite a few years, but I have been over that bridge. I know that the Response Services in the Cities are up to the task and that the medical services are second to none. I can not but think about all the loved ones who are looking and worried about the missing.
There will be plenty of time in the future to determine what caused this disaster, but right away we can look at the horrendous state of the infrastructure of the United States. While the general loss of infrastructure dates back much further than the current administration, the Bush Crime Family has accelerated it immensely. Remember this crowd believes in transferring all public functions to private companies, letting them loot the treasury, and then complaining that Government can't help you. I doubt that this tragedy can be directly linked to Bushco, but prepare yourself for more of these events in the future. Remember real Americans don't rely on government help!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

It will be interesting to see what happens this week. This Sunday has been a day completely away from the MSM drivel. Temps in the mid 80's with no humidity. Sunny skies. A beautifully perfect summer day. I barely read the Sunday papers and couldn't bring my self to really watch the day's talking heads on TV.
The next week could be exciting, but I fear it will be another week of consolidation in the Congress and another week of stonewalling from the administration. Unfortunately, it will also be a week of 100+ temps in Iraq and another week of dead and injured service people. It continues to amaze me that the American public lets this go week by week by week.
One of these weeks maybe the people will finally decide that this is the week it has to stop.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Flyover legislature is fighting over the budget. The Dems and the Repugs are light years apart and we may not see a budget for a while. One of the things on the table is an expansion of health care into the middle class. Guess who's for it and who's agin' it.

My greatest hope is that the business community begins to realize that universal health care is in the long run, a boon for business. The US is behind most other industrialized countries right off the bat because the cost of manufactured goods in the US is instantly higher because the manufacturer has to factor in the cost of health care into the price of their product. In other countries this is spread over the entire country and costs substantially less. This alone should have major companies clamoring for a change. Secondly while health care is good for the upper portion of the public, it is exceedingly expensive in the US. We pay way to much for the care we get compared to other countries, and yet almost all of them show better health statistics.
Thirdly preventive medicine, especially prenatal and early cancer detection save millions over trying cure the problems after they develop. The last factor is that we already have universal health care for the poor: it's called the emergency room. Can you even begin to imagine a less efficient, more expensive way to deliver health care?

Oh, and by the way just to keep up my bleeding-heart-liberal creds: IT"S THE RIGHT THING TO DO!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

I had a short online exchange with a social studies teacher today. We both agreed that today's students receive an abysmal education in History. I also opined that they receive almost no education in the traditional social studies. He brought up the fact that there is almost no civics education today. This country is unique in the world in that we spend almost no time in educating our youngest citizens into the concept of being a citizen. When I talk with my younger employees, I find almost 100 per cent of them do not have the slightest idea of how our political system works. Not nationally, not statewide or even on the most basic of local levels. They have no idea of who any of their representatives are, or what the do. Unfortunately, most parents are only interested in their children's grade point and give no thought as to whether their their little darlings will ever become educated as citizens. This may be the most dangerous trend in America today. I implore any parent to make sure that their children learn that being a good citizen more than paying taxes and not avoiding jury duty.
Doctors today report that after the special rectal brain scan of the President today that they found no evidence of grey matter in the President's colon. Doctors were surprised as the President has had his head up his ass for over twenty years. Subsequent review of previous colo-rectal examinations revealed that the tiny amount of Presidential Grey Matter that had been there was removed eight years ago mistakenly believed to be polyps. Luckily the President has been able to live semi-normally as Karl Rove has essentially served as Bush's brain for years. Doctors believe that the President will be able to continue his normal duties as they really consist of nodding to vicePresident Cheney.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Flyover Times has shocked me! The day after I complained about their inability to write the F-word (filibuster) they used it in an op-ed! Twice! I'd love to think it was me but that would truly be delusional. They also ran a piece on the importance of net-neutrality.

Net-neutrality is a subject that either gets you a "wha?" look or a yawn. Unless you are part of the net-roots. Then it's a question of life or death, at least for bloggers. The concept of equal access to the net is the life blood of the diversity of the Internet. This may on first blush look like a matter that is important only to the few that blog or read blogs, but I contend that it goes much deeper.

It the 1770's political fever was stirred up by a dedicated group of citizens who wrote tracts and had them printed up at small print shops by like minded printers. Not that many years before this would have been unthinkable because printing was too expensive and the presses were tightly controlled in other countries. These tracts would be passed out on village greens and taverns (think Drinking Liberally). They would work their way to small villages by travellers. Often one writer's pamphlet would draw a response from another. These transfer of thoughts were instrumental in fomenting the revolution. The British authorities did little to stop this because they believed there was no way this was a danger to their rule.

Jump forward to the 21st Century and we find that the press is almost entirely in the hands of Big Money and there is no real access there. Certainly I or anyone else could go to the print shop and run up a thousand broadsheets and hand them out, but where is the Village Green that allows you to contact thousands? That Village Green is now the Internet. For the price of a cheap computer and an Internet connection or even access to a Public Library, today's Broadsheet writer can reach millions. This brings us back to net-neutrality. If the money interests have their way, the cheap printing presses will be taken away from the masses. Now I don't suggest that the net-roots should be fomenting revolution, but certainly this is a valid route to change the way that large groups of people think about things. Not through propaganda but through discourse (even with the Trolls about). It is critical that as a group we talk to the "Wha?ers and the yawners to let them know that is about their world too.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

It appears as if the MSM has abandoned the F-Word. It was well used several years ago but it seems as if has become the word-that-can't-be-uttered. Luckily there are euphemisms to replace it that won't offend the reader/viewer. You know like time wasting, grandstanding, and the popular Democrat stunt. God knows that the Repugs would never do anything to stop an up or down vote! Oh wait the Repugs staged a fili***ter. Don't they want an up or down vote?
Even the newly redesigned Flyover Times, that heralded progressive newspaper couldn't bring it's self to use the dreaded word. Of course their progressive credentials are based on the fact that they supported The Original Progressive 100 years ago. That and that over 50 years ago they pulled a stunt where local flyover citizens were asked to sign a statement comprised of parts of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Of course the McCarthy fearing crowd wisely refused to have anything to do with something that smelled of politics. Since then their progesiveness has consisted of endorsing Democrats at election time and weeky (weakly?) listing the number of deaths in Iraq. The civilian figure is the one given out by the government and right now is around 35000. You wouldn't want to use the leftist British Lancet figures of more than 600,000. So goes the vaunted left wing media.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Harry Reid goes for the filibuster, Harriet Meier refuses to appear before Congress, what-will-happen reports are all over about Iraq, it's hard to tell if we are getting ahead or spining our wheels. I'd love to think that we are seeing the beginning of the end of this merry band of fools. The filibuster hopefully will start to show the people that the congressional gridlock is the fault of the Rethuglicans and the recent after action report suggests that a three state Iraq is possible after a withdrawal of American troops. What I really hope for is a legal confrontation with the Bush junta. The Meier situation may well be the turning point. It's one thing to go before Congress and refuse to testify, but to refuse to show up is unheard of. It will have to be seen if John Conyers and other D leaders have the goods and the balls to take this thing where it can go. The scary thing is these fights can end up in the Supreme Court. As we have seen the odds are stacked badly in that arena.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Breaking news. Senator Vitter has met with press in his home district to let them know that he plans on returning to the Senate this week and has no plans to quit politics. At his side was his wife, Wendy. Wendy commented that her husband has "come home to Mama". No word on whether Mama will diaper him.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

We spent the afternoon on a pontoon boat on the largest of four lakes surrounding the capitol of Flyover Country. The weather was beautiful and it couldn't have been a better time. The owner (and captain for the day) of the boat is a full time Army Guard member. He served 9 months in Kuwait in 2002. His unit is responsible for copter maintenance. I've known him for years but don't have the slightest idea what his politics are. I've always felt that for the sake of our friendship it was best to not ask. When ever I've asked him about chances for redeployment, he laughs and says that his unit has been so stripped to supply the regular Army that there is no way they can possibly go into a combat zone any time soon. I've meet friends of his who are in the reserves. It seems like they are all getting out. Reserve members can be called up for replacement in existing units while guardsmen stay with their own outfits. Again I don't discuss politics (or the war) with these people but my feeling is they have no support for the mess-o-potamia. I don't mean for a minute to suggest that any of these guys wouldn't suit up and be back in the fray in a second if they felt our country needed them, but there seems to be a feeling of malaise about the war (occupation) .
Senator Webb on Meet The Press showed once again what a real stand up guy he is this morning. When Timmy asked him about the war, his reply was that the war was over years ago and what we are in is an occupation. Of course Timmy's next question was "Should the congress run the war?" completely ignoring Jim's point. The best part was Jim doing a slap down on that weasel Lindsey Graham. I really thought he was goin to bitch slap the little prick.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The protest by Christian Extremists in the Senate this week highlights the real motives of the nutty christian right. By trying to disrupt the opening prayer being done by a Buddhist priest they show just how much they are the American Taliban. The only thing President Chimpy had right about Osama was that they hate us for our freedoms. They do. They hate that America doesn't force it's citizens to live a non-secular life. It's not so much that we're not Muslim, but that we're not a Christian State. If we forced people to church, made women subservient to men, taught prayer in our schools and had a religious litmus test for all office holders, I'm sure they would find a way to overlook that Jeebus thing. Luckily for us the Constitution (that's the thing hanging on the paper dispenser in Chimpy's office bathroom) specifically protects us from that insanity. At least for a little while longer.

Monday, July 9, 2007

The Army missed it's recruitment goals for June. It also missed for March. The military's response to this is to lower standards once again. I remember back to the Vietnam days when the Army took everyone who passed the physical. This was not the high point of the Armed Forces. The military was swamped with people who couldn't figure out how to not get drafted.
I absolutely do not want to disparage anyone who is willing to serve his (or her) country but the situation with the Army today is indicative of what the Bush Administration has done to the country as a whole.
Five years ago the US military was the absolute best fighting force the world has ever seen. All volunteer with high standards, well equipped with the best equipment, and ready to be deployed to anywhere in the world that they were needed.
Today the Army and Marines are under-manned poorly equipped for the job they are being asked to do and in many cases demoralized by repeated deployments. They are having trouble filling the holes caused by 30000 casualties in Iraq and the loss of desire by the best and the brightest to become part of the military.
This ruining of our military is just one more part of the Bush Administrtion's ongoing destruction of what has made America great.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Road Trip! Actually we went south from Fylovercountry to the Flatlands. It is hot as hell. The drive was very nice though. The corn and soybean fields look as good as I've ever seen them. I only hope they go for food as opposed to fuel. Either way good crops are a good thing.
The trip was actually to go a wedding. The wife's niece was getting hitched. Very nice wedding and the dresses all looked good! Key thing as the wife does bridal gowns for a living.
The drive back was beautiful as the sun set over the very green fields. As it darkened, we became aware of massive amounts of fireflys in the fields and along the road side. It seemed that there were alot this year in the yard, but obviously this is a bumper crop every where.
As we drove, the occasional strike on the windshield would result in a small flash of light. Very surreal. We by-passed the highway for a couple of miles at the end of the drive and looked out over the fields. The light show was fantastic and we could have driven for miles watching. As it was the road home came to quickly and the drive ended too soon.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

I just watched the PBS Ken Burns documentary about the Statue of Liberty. I love these docus from Ken. Sometimes they can be a little over the top but this was very entertaining. I know the story of the statue pretty well, but the photos from the construction were really neat.
The interview that I really liked was ex-New York Governor Mario Cuomo paraphrasing his mother's interview at Ellis Island. Husband? ditch-digger, money? none, prospects? my son will become Governor of New York. Certainly a little over the top, but very indicative of what the immigrant experience has been to America.
This brings us to horrendous immigration problem in the US today. Millions of Mexicans rushing across the border to take all the po folks jobs and suck social security to death!
I'm am compelled to look at the history of immigration in this country to get a little perspective. In the 1880's thousands of Chinese were brought in to the US mainly to work on the construction of the intercontinental railroad. As these immigrants moved out of the railroad market and into other areas the US forbade them from becoming US citizens. San Francisco's China Town is a well known remnant of this influx. (I won't get into the Japanese internment camps. Left overs of the anti Asian sentiment of the turn of the century.) Later we saw large numbers of Italian, Irish and German immigrants at the turn of the century. All of these immigrants were looked at as a pox on this country. (Side note: All my HO-Chunk friends have T-Shirts with Geronimo's picture. Caption: Home Land Security Since 1492) Where I'm going here is, the immigration situation in the US is little different then what it was 100 years ago.
"They won't learn English" In Milwaukee in the first quarter of this century there were neighborhoods where you couldn't buy a loaf of bread with out speaking German, or Polish, or Lithuanian. Nana barely spoke any English, Mom and Dad spoke it with a thick accent and spoke their native language at home, the kids speak English and appease the family with a few words of the "Mother Tongue" here and there. What we need to understand here is that this country has been built on the the labor of immigrant groups and this has not destroyed us in the past and won't in the future.
I really want this to be my last post on Scooter, but I'm so disgusted that I have to go at it one last time. Bush says that he only made his decision after much deliberation and consultation with others in his administration.
Its too bad that he didn't have the same consideration about the 157 prisoners he had executed while he was governor of Texas. This includes Karla Tucker the first women executed in Texas since statehood and the execution of a man so retarded that he asked the guards to save his desert from his last dinner until he returned. The standard for the Bush clemency appeal was a short precise from Gonzo, and 30 minutes for consideration from Herr Bush. The affidavit for the severely retarded man did not mention his retardation or the fact that his defense lawyer was not allowed to bring it up to the jury.
No suprise tht 3000 Americans died on 9/11 because he was too preoccupied and that 20000 Americans are casualties of his inattention and that America is responsible for the deaths of another 500000 people in Iraq. Attention to detail is a bitch.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Sorry, I thought the first post was lost. As I look at them both, they both make sense.
I have to rethink my previous post about ScooterGate. Many have suggested that the commutaion keeps Scooter from having to come clean as long as the appeal process continues. This fits in with the Sopranos theory of how the Bush Crime Family works. You serve the Don and you are taken care of. Hopefully the congress will eventually break through the code of " omerta"
My second look at ScooterGate makes me rethink that there is no difference between commuting and a pardon. It has been suggested that a pardon would leave him open to having to testify against the rest of the Bush administration with no fear of prosecution while commuting leaves the appeal open. I leave no ulterior motive unturned with this administration, and I have to believe in the Sopranos theory- you take the fall for the Don and let them figure out what is best for you. I await the American Public rising up in righteous indignation!

Monday, July 2, 2007

No real surprise from the Scooter Libby commutation. The only question was when. My money was a little later and a full pardon. Commuting the sentence achieved the same thing, as the prison sentence was the only real punishment. The fine will be paid by the "Friends of Scooter" crowd and the loss of his law license means nothing since the practice of law is only a means to make money. The Law and Justice are foreign concepts to this mercenary crew.
The lefty pundits are suggesting this will not play well with the public (I just watched Olbermann) but here in Flyovercountry the Libby case never struck the chord many thought it would. I fear the lying under oath case was too removed from the possible treason case that engendered it. The only thing left to wait for is the inevitable right wing response of (lets all say it together!) "but Bill Clinton didn't go to jail!"

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Last week the University of Flyovercountry received a 100 million dollar plus grant from the Dept of Energy to research turning biomass into energy. While I'm always happy to see the rare occasion of Federal tax dollars flowing back to Flyovercountry, I have reservations about the rush to generate energy from Ag products. There is a cascade of effects from this that seem to be overlooked by many involved.
The first problem is the same as the rush to drill in Alaska and the Gulf, it tends to obscure the fact that conservation is far more effective in reducing dependence on foreign oil imports.
Far more troubling is the disruption in the food market. The US is used to a surplus of low priced food products and this has helped to keep inflation low. The enormous shift of corn to fuel production has done almost nothing to lower fuel costs, but has already raised the price of corn markedly. Don't think that this means sweet corn is now a buck an ear. (Bad old Flyovercountry pun) This mean beef is more expensive (corn fed). This means chicken is more expensive(corn fed again). Almost any processed food you eat used corn sweeteners. I think I'll have refreshing soft drink and ponder this, oops corn sweeteners again.
The one plus should be that farmers are making a lot more, but Ag prices are not set like other products in this world. Farmers can not sit on their products and sell to the highest bidder. Ag prices are set in the commodity markets. Markets controlled by the huge Ag mega- businesses like Acrcher-Daniels-Midland. The farmer sees little of the increase and loses most of the gains to the huge increase in fuel and fertilizer prices. (Fertilizer is made from oil!)
The final cascade effect I worry about, is the trend of these Ag businesses to use food as an economic tool. NAFTA has allowed these companies to flood Mexico with corn grown in the US. This flood has caused many local Mexican farmers to quit growing corn and leaving them with no alternative crop. The loss of farm related jobs increases the immigrant pressure in the US. Within the last year corn prices in Mexico have risen to the point that poor people are unable to afford tortillas. This does not mean no "Taco Tuesday". This means children go hungry! The Mexican government has had to subsidize tortilla prices.
The bottom line here is that people need to examine the effects of simple or easy solutions to dificult problems.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The MSN is of course all over the Scooter Libby sentencing. It is the lead story in the Bushco Treasongate saga, but I find the story of the military judges dismissing charges against two Gitmo prisoners far more telling in the Neo-con administration's long slow slide into total disarray. It's not the fact that the officers dismissed charges against an Afghanni who was fifteen when he was impressed into the Taliban and was targeted by our side because he was driving Osama around nor is it because they found the Pentagon's designation of them as Enemy Combatants insufficient under the Military Commissions Act. The key factor here is that mid-level officers in the Army are beginning to resist the criminal actions of this government.
Numerous General Staff personel have already started to speak out against this administration's illegal actvities, but they can easily move on to high paying civilian jobs. When you start to see Majors risking their careers, you know there is an under-current of dissent within the regular army.
The Army, in all but revolutionary states, is by nature a very conservative group. In the US it is strongly supportive of the Republic Party. They perceive the Republicans as more likely to provide funding for the armed services and therefore are likely to vote for them. It will be interesting to see if there is weather change in the prevailing feelings amoung the officer corps.
An even deeper question is do some officers feel they need to protect themselves from an invitation to testify at the Hague?
On Flyover Country home front news, the local school board is back-pedaling furiously on the decision to name an elementary school after the recently arrested Hmong military leader Vang Pao. This proves the theory that you never want to look to closely at the actual lives of revolutionaries or resistance leaders. They are always better viewed from afar. If war is a dirty business, insurgency is truely ugly.
This also brings back my desire to see the school named after Eugene Parks. Gene was a fiery orator, a leader of the early civil rights movement in Flyover Country, one of the first Black elective officials, and an enormous irritant of the body politic. American children could well use an example that the powers-that-be need to be poked, prodded, and needled as often as possible.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

I went to an event a week ago tha featured Stephanie Miller. She is, as you no doubt know, host of a nation-wide morning radio show. She is on the local Air America affiliate here in Flyover Country. The event was to honor the local activists that had saved the station from changing to a sports format. The local lefties had picketed, protested, and started an on-line petition to save 92 Themike from a fate worse than easy listening. It didn't hurt the cause that 92 is owned by Clear Channel Radio, octopus of the airwaves. The evening was complete with a video documentary of the activists endeavors and interviews with all involved. The air was rife with the sound of one hand clapping (Thats the sound of people patting themselves on the back).

The interesting thing about this whole story is that Clear Channel announced the format change in October of 2006. The change was to happen in December. Now I am not intimately familiar with the practices of radio broadcasting, but its been my experience that the way format changes are usually done is that they most often fire everyone at 5:00 PM Friday, play easy listening music all weekend, and then open Monday morning with "The Big Sound In The Big Town". Even more interesting is that the ratings for 92 were quite good, a fact that was repeated often by those dedicated to saving the station but that revenues were weak. The under current of the evening was that Right Wing Clear Channel was ending the format to censor the Left. By the end of the program everyone was being exhorted to advertise with 92 or buy the products advertised there and to let everyone know that you were.

The lesson of this whole episode is that while I applaud the Lefties for organizing and grass roots work, this a classic case of confusing Politics with Capitalism. While Clear Channel owners have consistantly supported the Repugs and the Bushies, they have shown their true capitalist side by not really caring what airs on their stations, right wing or left wing, if it makes them money. They don't really believe the content matters one way or the other. Their maneuver here cost them nothing and energised the political base to go out and generate revenue for them.

Oh, and by the way you got to love Stephanie. Rush is right she is a Babe!

Saturday, June 2, 2007

whence Flyover Country

Many, many Boomer years ago when I was a Freshman at University of FLYOVER, I was conversing with an Out-Of-State Student (this was then the code for Jewish from New York), when I happened to mention Saks Fifth Avenue ( of what this conversation was actually about I have absolutely no recollection). My friend, the OOSS, pulled back, gave me a "who is this?" look, and asked "How do YOU know about Saks?". At the time I thought "Who doesn't know what Saks Fifth Avenue is?" It took a little time before it dawned on me that I was born into a world that is viewed by both the East and West Coast Trend Setters and Newsmakers as just an adjunct to the "Real World". You know, the part you fly over to get to somewhere else that matters.

This feeling came back to me in 2002-2003 into the lead-up to the Iraq invasion. It seemed to me (and most of my friends) that there was plenty of evidence in the public domain to show that Iraq was of no immediate danger to the US, and yet, the Wise Men of the MSN told us this was not so and we were in imminent peril. My imaginary OOSS here is Hillary Clinton "How did YOU know ther were no WMD's?" The answer here is the same as it was 30 plus years ago: There is plenty of information out there to learn what' s real in the world if you are willing to look for it and care enough to sift the truth from the lies.

The bottom line here is I hope to winnow a few grains of truth from the incredible amount of BS that fed to us daily. Hopefully we can have some fun along the way and all learn a bit more today then what we knew yeaterday.