Thursday, July 31, 2008

Murdering a US soldier OK with US Army, Bush Admin, all GOP and most Dem leaders also?

Rob Christensen, just another hack writer? ...

The completion of a three year pilot program set up by John Edwards is morphed by Rob Christensen into a case to attack Edwards' reputation. Christensen writes in the second paragraph:
Edwards' presidential hopes have evaporated. And he recently informed Greene County officials that he would end the pilot program at Greene Central High School.
Funny how those two sentences are tied together neither by facts nor logic. It's not until much later in the article that we learn that this program was established as a three year pilot program. The apparent success of the program seems unimportant to Christensen. After all, providing opportunities and encouraging the education of all America's young'uns is the last thing the GOP would look forward to.

Is Rob Christensen just another good little 'staff writter' doing his imperialist GOP duty by turning the completion of a successful pilot program into a cement block aimed at John Edwards?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

On senior moments, older rats, whippersnappers and science writing ...

Perhaps my senior moments are comprised more of déjà vu than forgetfulness. ScienceNow has an article titled 'To Sleep, Perchance to Forget' that informs us that
[w]hile we snooze, scientists think, our brains are busy forming new memories by replaying the events of the day. But aging may rob us of this process and set us up for having "senior moments." A new study has found that older rats seem to replay previous events less and, as a result, have more trouble remembering than younger animals.

How our brains form memories is not entirely understood, but sleep may be vital. The hippocampus region of our brain seems to rerun experiences we had while awake, a process that scientists believe helps cement memories. A team led by neuroscientist Carol Barnes at the University of Arizona, Tucson, noticed that older rats--just like older people--sometimes have trouble remembering. Could those memory problems be due to a decline in the brain's replay during sleep?

OK? What exactly in this article is new?

The findings suggest that at least some of the short-term memory loss experienced by elderly people could be due to a decline in automatic replay during sleep, says Michael Hasselmo, a neuroscientist at Boston University. The results could pave the way for treatments to improve memory, Hasselmo says, by targeting brain chemicals that play a role in replay.

So, is this a case of acquiring more information to 'suggest' that what we already 'suspect' about aging and memory loss is valid?

The study is interesting but the presentation is atrocious. Turning over the writing of science to wannabe novalists has been a monstrous mistake. Example:

Further experiments showed that the whippersnappers had a sharper memory; they were faster and more accurate than the older animals in remembering where a hidden platform was located while swimming in a tank of water.

Older rats and whippersnappers, oh my.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ed Kilgore misses the point ...

Ed Kilgore and Glenn Greenwald have articles (here and here) stating their thoughts about the blue dog pseudo Democrats.

The subheading shows Kilgore's failure to understand the issues.
Activists are calling for the heads of conservative congressional Democrats. Wait till George Bush is history, and then decide.
He calls the blue dogs conservative. They are not Democrats but just a little to the conservative side. The blue dogs are warmongers who have enabled Bush in bankrupting this country and killing its citizens, not to mention untold numbers of Iraqis and others. They look at the citizenry of the US as something to control. Not as the people they work for. The blue dogs might as well be Republicans. They have actively supported the crimes of the Bush Administration. But Kilgore would not have us hold them accountable, just like Congress will not hold lawbreakers accountable unless they are ordinary citizens and not the exalted 'leadership' of the once respected United States of America.

Kilgore writes:
And naturally, the unhappiness is leading to revived talk about a systematic effort in the future -- presumably in 2010 -- to intimidate or even defeat selected Democratic members of Congress, preeminently Blue Dogs, through primary challenges.
Kilgore would have us leave the systematic effort to keep elected Democrats 'intimidated' to the Republican party. Sounds like blue dog wisdom to me.

Something is really, really messed up when ...

... the Democratic-led Congress is actually more unpopular among Democrats than among Republicans, with 23 percent of Republicans approving of Congress compared with only 18 percent of Democrats.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Plagiarism is and is not ...

Cut and paste 'not plagiarism'
HIGH-PROFILE educationalist and long-time commentator of online learning Dale Spender has accused universities of being out of touch with their students in seeking to clamp down on "cut and paste" appropriation from the internet, arguing that what is dubbed plagiarism is just part of the way students learn.

Wikipedia page on Dale Spender here. She certainly has a point that the goal of education should be to instruct and then determine what has been learned. Counting similar phrases and wording is so much easier, however. Numbers never lie. Oh my, did I plagiarize that?

From Wikipedia page on plagiarism: "... plagiarism is concerned with the unearned increment to the plagiarizing author's reputation that is achieved through false claims of authorship."

So if I state that I have a dream will I be committing plagiarism or copyright infringement or both.

Matthew Yglesias doesn't use the word farce ...

Though Yglesias doesn't use the word farce in this post (Process in 2009), farce must be what he's thinking when he reviews the workings of the Senate and Harry Reid.

We can blame this GOPer auditioning for his place in Hell, Senator Tom Coburn, all we want for his obstructionism.

But really ... Harry Reid 'honors' Coburn's legislative holds. Harry Reid did not 'honor' Democratic Senator Chris Dodd's hold. So really, the problem is STILL Harry Reid. Reid gets to choose whether to 'honor' a hold or not.

This game Harry Reid is playing is a destructive farce that works for the GOP. With Harry Reid around the Republicans control the Senate whether they have a majority or not.

It's way past time to fire Harry Reid, a joke of a Democrat.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

American Vacuum of Change Only Pulls So Far

Read: American Vacuum of Change Only Pulls So Far by paradox at The Left Coaster

Warren P Strobel

Remember Warren P Strobel from yesterday's McClatchy article where what I believe is intended as a news article appears more like a negative editorial?

Strobel also writes he said/she said articles. But where Strobel jumped to invent a case against Obama's premise of change in this article Strobel is just oh so gentle on Bush and his Orwellian time 'horizons.'

So it appears that Strobel will go after Obama's message of change, even if it requires manipulation. But Bush's Orwellian language of deceit gets a pass from him.

This is what McClatchy has to say about Strobel:
Warren P. Strobel, the foreign affairs correspondent, has covered that topic for more than 15 years. Before joining the bureau, he covered national security and intelligence for U.S. News & World Report. He began his career at The Washington Times and is the author of the book "Late-Breaking Foreign Policy," a study of how CNN and other news media affect U.S. foreign policy and the deployment of American troops abroad. He speaks and writes frequently on the topic of media-military relations. In 2005, he was part of a team that won a National Headliners Award for "How the Bush Administration Went to War in Iraq.''
More information is here:

Warren P. Strobel is a senior editor at U.S. News & World Report, responsible for covering national security and intelligence. He joined the magazine in October 1998.

For three years before that, Mr. Strobel was White House correspondent for The Washington Times, covering the Clinton White House and traveling extensively with the president domestically and abroad. From September 1994 through September 1995, Mr. Strobel was a Jennings Randolph Peace Fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based United States Institute of Peace. At the Institute, he conducted research for a book on how the U.S. news media report on modern peace operations and the media's effect on American foreign policy and public opinion. The book, Late-Breaking Foreign Policy, was published in June 1997. An article based on his research appears in the May 1996 issue of the American Journalism Review. Mr. Strobel also has been a co-investigator on an Institute grant to study how the Internet has been used as a new tool by those seeking nonviolent change in Burma. The resulting paper, "Networking Dissent," has been highly acclaimed.

Prior to being selected as a fellow, Mr. Strobel spent nine years with The Washington Times. From June 1989 until August 1994, he was the Times' chief State Department correspondent, covering the department and American foreign policy under Secretaries of State James Baker, Lawrence Eagleburger and Warren Christopher. In this post and his others, he has reported from more than 70 countries and been on assignment to Iraq, Germany, the former Soviet Union, Israel and the West Bank, Vietnam and at the United Nations.

From 1986 until 1989, Mr. Strobel was national security correspondent, reporting in depth on the U.S.-Soviet arms control negotiations, the Reagan administration's Strategic Defense Initiative, and both military and civilian space programs in the United States, Russia and Europe. In 1989, he wrote an award-winning story on how incorrect launch codes had been inserted into nuclear-tipped Minuteman III ICBMs, meaning that, unbeknownst to anyone, they could not have been launched, if needed, for an entire year.

He was a general assignment reporter on the Metro and National desks in 1985 and 1986, where he wrote extensively on the beginnings of the AIDS crisis.

Mr. Strobel has lectured at the National Defense University, U.S. Army War College, Quantico Marine Base, Fort Bragg, the U.S. Naval Academy, Harvard University, George Washington University, American University and elsewhere. He is frequently a guest on C-SPAN, and has appeared on CNN-FN and NET.

In July 1998, he served as a member of a joint International Republican Institute-National Democratic Institute team observing the elections in Cambodia.

Mr. Strobel received a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia in December 1984. He was editor-in-chief of the student newspapers both at Missouri and at St. Mary's College of Maryland, which he attended from 1980-82.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Is McClatchy implying inconsistency?

Obama's foreign policy: moderation, not change by Warren P. Strobel and Margaret Talev
WASHINGTON — Barack Obama has presented himself to American voters as the candidate of change, but on a weeklong foreign trip that ends Saturday he sounded more like a traditionalist when it comes to foreign policy.
The implication in the title and the 1st paragraph of this article would seem to imply that Obama is being inconsistent in his call for change. After all a change from Bush and the way that 'Washington' works could never go along with a 'traditional' foreign policy where the President of the US actually talks to other heads of state like one adult to another. And doing so wouldn't be a 'change,' would it, from the Khrushchev-like spoiled brat that currently resides in the White House?

Obama may be inconsistent, may change his mind, or may lie like any other politician (or human being for that matter). But no need to invent such events. McClatchy usually does better than this. This is not reporting but a negative editorial masquerading as news. Will have to watch out for Warren P. Strobel and Margaret Talev in the future ...

Friday, July 25, 2008

For this I'm more than happy to renounce my special ability, for a girl, in math ...

Overall, the researchers found "no gender difference" in scores among children in grades two through 11. Among students with the highest test scores, the team did find that white boys outnumbered white girls by about two to one. Among Asians, however, that result was nearly reversed. Hyde says that suggests that cultural and social factors, not gender alone, influence how well students perform on tests.
Unrelated to the boy-girl-who's-the-stupidest issue:
The study's most disturbing finding, the authors say, is that neither boys nor girls get many tough math questions on state tests now required to measure a school district's progress under the 2002 federal No Child Left Behind law. Using a four-level rating scale, with level one being easiest, the authors said that they found no challenging level-three or -four questions on most state tests. The authors worry that means that teachers may start dropping harder math from their curriculums, because "more teachers are gearing their instruction to the test."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The USDA is not our friend ...

The USDA does the minimum they can get away with in regards to public health. Where possible the subvert the law and support the corporate hierarchy.
Organic Bad Actor Decertified - USDA Criticism

Does anyone really believe ...

Does anyone really believe ...
... that the those who hold corporate and political power in the U.S. actually believe in those 'free markets' they tout so repetitively?
Free Market definition: an economic system in which prices are determined by unrestricted competition between privately owned businesses.
Those who hold corporate power believe in a market where they control the rules which change (or can be ignored) as needed to ensure their continued ascendency. And apparently the vast majority of our elected politicians and political appointees either agree or have been effectively neutralized. Greed and power are the characteristics of this environment. The health of our society has no importance. The welfare of our citizens has no importance.

Does anyone really believe ...
... that insurance is the proper approach to providing health care for all of us?
Healthcare definition: the maintenance and improvement of physical and mental health, esp. through the provision of medical services
Insurances definition:
1) a practice or arrangement by which a company or government agency provides a guarantee of compensation for specified loss, damage, illness, or death in return for payment of a premium : many new borrowers take out insurance against unemployment or sickness.
  • the business of providing such an arrangement : Howard is in insurance.
  • money paid for this : my insurance has gone up.
  • money paid out as compensation under such an arrangement : when will I be able to collect the insurance?
  • an insurance policy.
2) a thing providing protection against a possible eventuality : seeking closer ties with other oil-supplying nations as insurance against disruption of Middle East supplies | young people are not an insurance against loneliness in old age.
Does anyone really believe ...
... that insurance companies which were designed to provide a hedge against a 'possible eventuality' in an economic system based on greed and control where denying service is a sign of success will ever be able to provide acceptable healthcare? The requirement for healthcare is not a 'possible' eventuality, but instead an eventuality that everyone will eventually, is not sooner, require.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It sure is nice ...

... to have someone who is NOT an idiot be the face of America. I must admit he does it well but I sure do wish he believed in some of the things I believe in, such as the Constitution, the rule of law, universal health care for starters.

How do you talk to these people? The insurance company mentality ...

My eye doctor (ophthalmologist if you prefer) increased an eyedrop prescription from a drop in each eye twice a day to three times a day.

Walgreens gives me a 10ml bottle and charges the rate for a 30 day supply. At the window I ask whether 10ml will last 30 days. The pharmacist says it 'should.'

I used google and found that 10 ml of a thick solution (which this is) would provide around 120 drops. I need 180 drops for 30 days (what we're supposed for those months that have 31 days I have no idea). I called Walgreens and was told over the phone after she 'checked the computer' that the supply was for 25 days though they were happy to charge the full monthly co-pay.

At this point Walgreens is saying that they will order a 15ml bottle (with a sigh evidently because 'they don't usually carry that size'). I haven't opened the box the prescription came in so I'm taking it back and supposedly I'm going to get a 15ml bottle in it's place (don't hold your breath).

To the pharmacist at Walgreens I said I was concerned that they would give me a 25 day supply, charge me the rate for a months supply and never say a word about it. What were they going to do when I came back early to refill the prescription? The answer is they cannot fill the request with part of a bottle. Well I know that. As if I would accept an opened bottle. Good grief. What about prorating the charge. That concept, evidently, is taboo.

[Note: I like the pharmacist herself. I assume she's just caught up in the system and has to work within the environment. Pharmacists are dependent on their corporate bosses and the insurance companies. They are not accountable to us the customers. There must be a great deal of strain in the job as they have to deal directly with us, the customer, while following the money grubbing directives of the corporate mafia.]

I called AARP, who sells this insurance coverage. I explained what had happened at Walgreens and explained that I was told that Walgreens would supply a 15ml bottle and that I was calling to express a concern about how the program was administered. I was concerned that Walgreens filled my prescription with a quantity (est 25 days worth) that they knew would not last for the month and that when I mentioned that they didn't really seem concerned. The first response from the AARP rep was 'yes?' as if that sounds right to me. There's no point to trying to recall the rest of the conversation. It's like talking to a wall. I don't think they even understand the concept of fairness. If they offer a policy with a $30.00 co-pay for 30 day supply then for $30.00 one should receive a 30 day supply. If because of the arbitrary size of certain medications that is not possible then prorate the co-pay. This is absolutely incomprehensible to them. Does not compute, period. Anyway the conversation ended with her putting me on hold to check on something. I was on hold for what seemed like quite a while. When she came back on the line she apologized for leaving me on hold so long and said she was going to transfer me to an 'expert' (I think she said expert) in 'this.' Well then I went on what seemed like permanent hold. I hung up after what seemed like a long time (I didn't time it).

Voilà, problem solved, from their perspective at least.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

ACLU, and others, suing Sheriff Joe ...

The Feathered Bastard gets to the heart of the class action suit against Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office [MCSO] by the Arizona ACLU, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, (MALDEF) and the Phoenix law firm Steptoe and Johnson with this terse paraphrase: " ... all Latinos targeted by the MCSO because their skin is brown."

Some of Sheriff Joe's accomplishments:
... A Mexican national in the country legally and with the papers to prove it is arrested and held for nine hours, before finally being released. Hispanic Americans are stopped and subjected to the sort of interrogation and humiliating treatment that their Anglo counterparts escape. In perhaps the most egregious example, a Hispanic American man is arrested and handcuffed in front of his family's auto repair shop, all because his sister was singing along to some Spanish music. A swarm of vindictive Sheriff's deputies surrounded the man with their weapons drawn, even though he's done absolutely nothing wrong. Ultimately, he's released without being cited.

Money really is the 'root of all evil,' isn't it? ...

From Wikipedia: "Money is the root of all evil" is misattributed to Jesus Christ (actually stated as "the love of money" by Paul the Apostle in his letter to Timothy the Apostle: 1 Timothy 6:10)

OK, let's say the love of money is the root of all evil is more accurate. But sometimes the evil begins with an attempt at survival or from getting caught up in events beyond one's control. Was stealing that loaf of bread evil or did it make Jean Valjean evil?

Yet we have created an absurd 'war on drugs' where we encourage the very thing we claim we want to stop. And it will never stop until we remove the huge financial incentives involved in dealing in illicit drugs. In my opinion, we can only begin to correct the damage we have dome by removing money's corrupting influence and reversing the 'war' approach to this social problem. An approach more along the lines of the way we deal with alcohol would be my suggestion.
Large pot grow found south of Flagstaff by LARRY HENDRICKS, Assistant City Editor, Monday, July 21, 2008

Authorities raided a marijuana growing operation about 25 miles south of Flagstaff last week and seized more than 4,000 plants with an estimated value of $1.5 million.

No arrests were made. According to information from the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office, officers from several local, state and federal agencies descended on the grow Wednesday. It was located in the Coconino National Forest at the bottom of Woods Canyon, which is about two miles south of Schnebly Hill Road and near the Fox Ranch Road exit.

Two hikers had stumbled onto the grow on July 7 and contacted the Metro anti-narcotics task force.

If we hadn't made war on drugs such big business with the potential of gigantic monetary rewards both to the criminal and the 'law' enforcement segments of our country (and other countries as well) the criminal element would not be destroying our national parks to grow marijuana (destroying the parks would be the sole province of the Bush gang instead). If we hadn't made war on drugs such a big business we might be able to focus on our fellow human beings who have addictions and begin to address these problems constructively. Warehousing addicts in prisons may provide jobs for low paid guards and much profit for private prison firms but it has a negative impact on our society. But, of course, the present day robber barons and religious fanatics like this medieval world they're creating.

[Note: this post was edited for spelling and sentence construction, not that it helps much.]

Monday, July 21, 2008

A fire story ...

Flames danced atop lodgepole pines, smoke darkened the sky, and residents of the tiny mountain hamlet north of McCall prepared for the worst. ... as the raging East Zone Complex fire reached the cluster of loosely-spaced homes, the flames dropped to the ground, crackling and smoldering. The fire crept right up to doorsteps. But without the intense flames that spurred the fire just moments before, no homes burned ...

Link: Idaho Statesman

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Kansas City has plans ...

McClatchy is just a mine of interesting articles today. They point to this article: Kansas City plans green scheme for sewer system by Karen Dillon and Lynn Horsley, The Kansas City Star

The following are listed as part of the 'green design:'

•Porous paving, an alternative to conventional asphalt and concrete, is designed to allow rainfall to soak through the paving to reduce runoff.

•Rain gardens usually are built in a shallow depression using conditioned soil and a gravel bed with native plants that slow rain water while filtering it.

•Storm-water planters, built either above or below ground, use conditioned soil and native plants to slow and filter rain water. They can sit on porous paving, allowing rain water to soak into the ground.

•Green roofs are installed on flat or sloped roofs and consist of a layer of soil and vegetation that slows runoff and can provide insulation from the heat and cold, reducing extreme temperature fluctuations.

•Rain barrels catch rain water flowing from eave troughs and divert it from the sewer system. It then can be used in irrigation systems and to water lawns and gardens.

•Tree boxes are built along sidewalks and streets, capturing runoff and channeling it to be cleaned by vegetation and soil before entering a catch basin. The runoff helps irrigate the trees.

•Vegetative swales are open-channel drainage-ways that carry runoff in place of sewer pipes. Water doesn’t pond in the channel for long periods. Instead, channels allow the water to soak into the ground.

Arizona, including Tucson, being in the clutches of the real estate and developer mafia, can only manage to come up with plans such as re-vitalizing downtown Tucson, for the umpteenth time, building LA type freeways that never quite handle the volume of traffic and building big and little boxes across the desert. It's called progress.

Ah, now we learn that Speaker Pelosi has power ...

Amazing, she can work to save the California coast but not the Constitution of the United States which she has sworn to uphold.
A plan to lift the ban on coastal drilling is stalled on Capitol Hill, for one simple reason: A Californian who opposes President Bush's proposal is calling the shots in the House of Representatives.

Despite growing public support for ending the ban, even in California, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she won't allow a vote.

"I have no plans to do so," Pelosi said Thursday.

It's an example of the vast power placed in the office of the speaker, who sets the agenda for the 435-member House. Members can force a vote if enough of them sign a petition, but that's a rarity because it requires rank-and-file Democrats to line up against their boss.

I agree that there is no reason to end the ban (not that, based on passed history, she won't cave on this). This demonstrates even more that Nancy Pelosi needs to be fired as she will not fight for the Constitution. She is part of the problem and complicit in moving the US to an authoritarian state with UNequal justice for all.

LINK: Power of one: Pelosi vows to block offshore drilling vote by Rob Hotakainen, McClatchy Newspapers

"The Muslims have said either we kneel or they're going to kill us.''

If we assume that an idiot such as Col. Bud Day who is quoted in this post's title represents all of the citizens of the United States then those outside the US would be justified in assuming that all US citizens are idiots. But Bud Day does not represent us and we are not all idiots such as he (though all humans seem to have some brand of idiocy in varying degrees).

Some Moslems do apparently believe that forceful conversion or death is the only options for dealing with non-believers but it's rather obvious that not all do believe so. (Christians are not so innocent in this regard either, by the way.)

And even if all Moslems did believe this way, what idiot thinks that before we invaded Iraq they had any chance of accomplishing such a feat. Before we invaded Iraq we could have just laughed in anyone in Iraq that claimed such a preposterous goal. We could have taken steps to protect us from the few crazies. We could have used old fashioned detective work to find those who actually did threaten us or did act out on those threats. And right after 9/11 we would have had the worlds support in going after those who actually planned and engineered 9/11.

After invading Iraq without cause and without benefit, we are weaker than we were (though 'the people who matter' are much, much richer). And if the Bush gang continues down this road and invades or bombs Iran we will be weaker still. We are collecting the hate of the world. We, as a country are very, very stupid. And too few of the non-stupid are in power at present.

Link: McCain backer's comments anger Muslims by Marc Caputo and Beth Reinhard, The Miami Herald

ADDED: Just think, we placed Americans in Iraq as handy targets for any who would like to take a shot at them and then proceeded to treat the country in such a manner to increase the number of people who, and not necessarily for any reasons having to do with religion, want to kill and humiliate as many of us as they can. It's called hate and the monkey in the White House, George W. Bush (a self proclaimed Christian who evidently believes he is doing Gods work), is very, very good at engendering hate, cruelty and all that is base about humanity. What a legacy.

ADDED II: Speaking of God. Since the Moslem, Christian and Jewish God are the same God wouldn't 'believers' begin to wonder if they have understood the message correctly? Either this god is very much like George W Bush(cruel, vindictive, petty, and shallow) and deliberately setting his 'children' at each others throats for some cruel purpose of his own (which I'll admit I am unable to fathom) OR based on the more uplifting teaching of these same religions many are perverting the true teachings OR there is no god and those in power manipulate the message to whatever works to keep and increase their power.

Ya think?

Friday, July 18, 2008

After more than 7 years of lies and deceit ....

... why would anyone take anything the Bush mafia says at face value?
Iran: Engagement, Finally
Really think so? On what basis would you judge their objectives? Their word?

Yesterday's QUOTES ...

The 265 current or former members of the British Parliament and 111 current or former members of the European Parliament ... contend that continuing to proceed with Hamdan's military commission trial now would cause "incalculable harm to the fabric" of international law

Veto overriden on important Medicare bill: So Congress has overridden Bush’s veto on the Medicare bill. This is huge news. As I tried to explain last week, it’s not really about maintaining doctors’ payments — some fudge would have been found to avoid drastic cuts. It’s about rolling back Medicare privatization — and it’s a big win for reformers against the insurance companies.

All of which makes it puzzling how little coverage this is getting in the news media.

-- I also wonder why there seems to be such non-interest in this. Everyone holding their breath?

-- In the world of people who own their own jets, the recession really is just in the minds of whiners--

Is John McCain having more 'let-them-eat-cake' moments lately?

... She has convinced herself that she understands the Everyman American when in reality she is nothing but a ventriloquist to a legion of straw men. --Who could dat be? NPR’s Mara Liasson

... The carceral state has grown so huge that it has begun to transform fundamental democratic institutions, from free and fair elections ...

... Forcing private insurers to operate as efficiently as the federal government is apparently asking too much of the GOP's free market acolytes. Better to cut doctors' fees instead.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I read this differently ...

From the Washington Monthly:

Too Weird for The Wire

How black Baltimore drug dealers are using white supremacist legal theories to confound the Feds.

By Kevin Carey

The tactics used by the defendants in the case may have no legal standing and their behaviour may be a joke to the well ordered establishment lawyers and judges, but these individuals know, have probably known most of their lives, that they have no real place in this well ordered world other than as targets of those same well ordered authorities. Individuals react differently to such a state of affairs. Some find a way out and are able to join the 'establishment' in some degree or another. Some hunker down to lives of desperation. Others act out and take what they can. Don't misunderstand me. If they committed these crimes --and I will assume that the prosecutors are acting in good faith and with real evidence even though they are also obviously very heavy handed in their use of prosecutorial power in charging some with crimes committed while they were in jail-- they must be prosecuted.

But once these individuals realize their crime spree is over and they are destined to be imprisoned for the rest of their lives (or executed) why should they fall in line for a well ordered trial like good little boys? What good would turning into model defendants at this point serve them. As it is, it seems that acting up as they did has spared them the death penalty (if I understand the article).

Society must protect itself from killers like these (again, I'm assuming the prosecutors are on the up and up, not necessarily a good assumption).

Justice, however, won't begin until all serious crimes are investigated. As long as certain politicians and public officials are immune from prosecution because of their political affiliations and others are specifically selected for prosecution because of their political affiliations justice in the country will be a corrupt endeavor.

Additionally justice cannot begin until all parents can expect that all their children will have 'equal' education and career opportunities.

Since we are racing in the opposite direction both in equal opportunity and equal justice, don't expect much justice in this country. Increasing draconian control is what to expect.

Is it my imagination that we always seems so surprised that animals could be quite similar to us in many ways?

Again, from McClatchy:
  • Humans aren't the only creatures whose regional drawls and twangs give them away. The same thing goes for songbirds. A scientist at Duke University has found that birds, just like humans, learn their songs from one another and "talk" like the birds they grow up with.

Whether one believes in evolution or that God created the world in six of our current calendar days and then rested on the seventh day, it's difficult to have all that much respect or admiration for an animal, or a creation, that fouls its own nest so thoroughly. That's us, not the birds I'm referring to!

If you can't catch the one you want to torture, torture the one you got ...

From a McClatchly Newsletter:
  • Salim Hamdan, who the U.S. now accuses of providing material support for terrorism, provided U.S. authorities with guided tours of Osama bin Laden's haunts in Afghanistan, before he was shipped off to Guantanamo. One FBI agent testified it didn't occur to him to read Hamdan his rights because he considered him an intelligence source, not a criminal suspect.

Just like the kings of old, the royal and petulant president of the United States of America is self authorized to proclaim that anyone who 'provides material support' for someone he has declared an enemy is a criminal, a terrorist, a cretin and a thief. No treatment is too low or vile that King Bushie the Second and his gang won't enjoy watching the king's 'enhanced treatments' performed on those they have declared 'beyond all hope and not entitled to grace, salvation or respite of any kind.' King Bushie has been overheard promising all his enemies, and a few of his friends, Hell right here on earth. Shock and Awe was just the beginning as far as he is concerned. Bushie has confirmed that nothing, and I mean nothing, is off the table.

So drivers, restaurant owners and their staff, mail and package delivery personnel, store owners and their staff, communications companies (except the ones in Bushie's gang) and their staff, airplane charter companies, in fact anyone who gives one of Bushie's special enemies the time of day could be, unknowingly, providing material support and thus be a special enemy of Bushie's State of Corporate America and subject to whatever Bushie desires. Bushie's desires lean toward the Medieval.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Congress does something right ...

They passed the Medicare bill and then overrode the monkey's veto. Congratulations.

Krugman explains the significance of this bill: Saving Medicare

The LA Times writes: "... The president said the bill would take funds from private health insurers." Well whoop-de-do! As if our goal should be to give funds to private health insurers. Don't get me wrong, I DO realize that giving away funds (i.e. our tax dollars) to private corporations IS Bush's goal. But it certainly is not my goal. And it's good that Congress has actually done something right for a change.

Jon Kyl, Arizona's other Senator, is quoted as saying: "This is an attempt to undercut the private insurance part of Medicare that many on the other side of the aisle have never liked. It's one of the signature achievements of the Bush administration," said Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.).

Jon Kyl is one of those politicians, like George Bush, who thinks that rich corporations should have a direct pipeline into the treasury and should be paid extra to provide a service that the government provides much cheaper. He also thinks the Soc Sec contributions workers have made for decades in preparation for their retirement mean nothing and the funds should be used to make war on other countries instead of for their intended purpose.

Repugs, wrong (or lying) as usual ...

C&L reports that various Republicans, including John McCain are claiming that oil spills did not occur, or were insignificant, during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and then links to a post at Think Progress that gives some actual facts as apposed to lies and rhetoric.

McCain Falsely Claims Katrina And Rita Did Not Cause Significant Oil Spillage
The 9 million gallons reported spilled were comparable with the Exxon Valdez’s 10.8 million gallons, but unlike the Exxon Valdez, were distributed throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, and other Gulf Coast states, many in residential areas.

Sanity will out?

Every time the Doddering Imbecile pushes Obama this fall on this subject, Obama should simply state that he is only interested in finding and eliminating terrorist threats with the help of our friends before they can hit us first. He should point out his differences with McCain and the Bush Administration, who have a penchant for launching trillion dollar wars and nation-killing occupations that let the killers run free while others profit.
Probably not ...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The answer to this question is obvious ...

Has a U.S. Attorney Knowingly Prosecuted Innocent People?
--The government is investigating cases brought by Alice Martin, U.S. Attorney in Birmingham, Ala. by Scott Horton, The American Lawyer, July 15, 2008
And Repug Warrior Birmingham U.S. Attorney Alice Martin runs through it ...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Why does the food industry hate us?

If they're not feeding ground animals to herbivores or adding bacteria and other unpleasant things to our meats and vegetables they are shoveling salt into the processed convenience foods they engineer for attractiveness, tastiness and addictive qualities. Their engineering and marketing talents cover everything except nutrition and wholesomeness.
  • 2300 milligrams (1 teaspoon) a day is the recommended upper limit for sodium.
  • Most Americans get at least 4000 mg per day.
  • 75% of that salt come from processed foods.
So the easiest way to reduce salt intake would be to cut out processed foods.

The food industry could reduce the salt they use to help make their concoctions palatable and addictive but have you noticed that when they reduce the salt they increase the sugar or the fat or both?


Children raised on soda and juice are growing up with weak bones.
This is a short video at WebMD. Of course the short ad at the beginning is for juice. And the solution is Tums. I think WebMD is too dependent on advertising to trust them to do any more than present corporate controlled 'wisdom. '

Republicans are so brave ... with other peoples lives!

Karl Rove Ran Away! Karl Rove set out to corrupt the US legal system! Karl Rove Ran Away! Karl Rove had Democrats who were in his way prosecuted inventing 'evidence' when there was none! Karl Rove Ran Away! Karl Rove corrupted the US Attorneys' offices around the country to focus on Democrats and give Republicans a pass for the same or worse crimes. Karl Rove Ran Away! Karl Rove Ran Away!

Link via

Saturday, July 12, 2008

What am I missing?

Schools are searching kids for ibuprofen?

Has ibuprofen become part of the war on drugs? Is this country nuts?

Even worse than the fact that this girl was forced to strip in front of three adults and have her clothes and her person inspected is the fact that 5 of the 11 judges thought that a 13 year old being stripped and inspected for possible ibuprofen capsules was just OK with them. Were they sorry they weren't invited?

ACLU Challenges Unlawful Strip Search Over Ibuprofen Allegation In School (3/3/2008)

The School Crotch Inspector --Fighting the Advil menace, one strip search at a time by Jacob Sullum, April 2, 2008

Federal Court Rules Strip Search Of 13-Year-Old Student For Ibuprofen Unconstitutional (7/11/2008)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Reid is still a guilty party ...

In fact Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi head the list of guilty parties to the FISA capitulation by a weak kneed, craven, cowardly, putrid, morally bankrupt, weasely, slithering Congress.

No matter what their individual votes Reid and Pelosi had the power to keep this disastrous bill from even coming to the floor of their respective houses. These two just do not get the credit they deserve for handing over to Bush even more than his 'republican' congress would give.

Nothing gets through to these insular wagon circling throw backs to pre-guillotine France.

Do they even understand why their popularity has plummeted. Somehow the words they spout that get them elected as Democrats never make it to the reasoning portion of their brains. Their brains must be so barricaded that concepts of Constitution, Treason, Betrayal, Integrity, Truth never come in contact with each other. They are exceptional at giving speeches about Freedom and upholding the Constitution and then voting for excrement that utterly defies both concepts.

There are too few exceptions to the 'Congresspeople as slithering snakes' portrait. Russ Feingold is one of the exceptions and expended great effort to educate a mostly hidebound and unresponsive Senate.

For a rational, reasoned and polite analysis of the FISA betrayal read Glenn Greenwald:
Congress votes to immunize lawbreaking telecoms, legalize warrantless eavesdropping
Today's coverup of surveillance crimes and Barack Obama
Aug. 8, 1974 vs. July 9, 2008
Beltway myth: "The left-wing base" vs. "the American people" on Iraq
The political establishment and telecom immunity -- why it matters
The Al-Haramain ruling and the current Congress
Obama advisor Greg Craig: Adding insult to injury
And on and on ...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Truth instead of propaganda will not be their choice ...

At the same time, the barons of old-line newspapers and broadcast TV seem to have realized it's pointless to keep fighting the shift online, but they're still unsure how to embrace it. And they're struggling to attract new online users just to survive.

No matter how bad it gets, these 'baron' of lies, filth and garbage will never convert their products to real journalistic outlets any more than their paper products have much journalistic cred. Instead they will look for ways to control the internet as the solution to their problems. Even if the theory of competition as the way to stimulate and drive growth and prosperity was ever more than propaganda, the current crop of 'barons' certainly don't believe in it.

It's too bad for the United States, of course, because barons, with or without royal titles, are a sign of deteriorating times. The media, the banking industry, the telecomms, the energy industry, the auto industry. All barons of the power of inflexibility and overarching mismanagement.

Statistics are always right ... except when they are beside the point.

In any case, Gerberding cites the well-known evidence that eliminating access problems would resolve -- at best -- 25% of health disparities.
Only 25% huh. In other words, if I were uninsured [and I have been] and I break my foot then most likely I will go to the emergency room and might even get it treated adequately right there [after they attempt to get my house and everything I own] or I may have to suffer for a week or so to get into someone's office who will treat my foot as long as I max out the remainder of my credit card (assuming I have one to max out) but in the end my broken foot will probably be addressed and I even may be able to walk on it. Ojalá.

So this encounter with the medical establishment will probably fall in to the 75% of the medical problems which get resolved, albeit at the cost of additional pain and suffering and the loss of my house, perhaps. But no big deal, that, to certain people at least. So there's a case that demonstrates the 'well-known evidence' that universal health care only solves 25% of the problem. No, you say? I don't think so either.

The health 'issues' that aren't addressed by access alone is the actual subject of the post: On the Very Idea of Health
Prevention, understood in the sense Starfield et al. intend it, is too important a concept to let become so conceptually diffuse.
I suppose it's too late for them to come up with new terminology but they need it desperately. Prevention is to weak a term to encompass humanity's entire life conduct, behavior, customs, culture, habits, ways, mores, genetic predispositions etc.

ADDED: A particularly interesting post at the same blog (Medical Humanities Blog):
On Income Inequality and Population Health

Monday, July 7, 2008

Yesterday's QUOTES ...

Unless the last eight years were a horrible dream, George W. Bush weakened restrictions on air pollution under the Clear Skies Act, turned forests over to loggers under the Healthy Forests Initiative, detained prisoners indefinitely in the name of the law, tortured people in the name of civilization, censored scientists in the name of objectivity, alienated allies in the name of security, and is occupying another country in the name of freedom.

... Just like the pardon of Nixon, the protection of Iran-contra criminals, and the commutation of Lewis Libby's sentence, this bill is yet another step in cementing a two-tiered system of justice in America where our highest political officials and connected elite can break our laws with impunity.

[...]Our Congress, with the political and media elite cheering, is about to violate every one of these principles. They are taking away from the judiciary the power to adjudicate allegations of lawbreaking. They are creating a two-tiered system of justice in which our most powerful corporations can break the law with impunity and government officials remain immune from consequences. And they are, in unity, spewing rank propaganda to the commoners -- who continue to be subjected to the harsh punishment for violations of the law -- in order to convince them that granting license to our political and corporate elites to break the law is necessary for their own Good and for their Safety.

... and just think: "Protecting government and corporate elite from flagrant lawbreaking is what our own political establishment always claimed was the hallmark of third-world, under-developed tyrannies."
... Of course, America has the meanest drug laws in the world and yet still has the highest consumption of drugs. I wonder what causes that, she said archly.

There's something horrible about all this being discussed all over the world, actually. We should be discussing the uncle's alleged behavior and he's the one who should be in the court of world opinion, not this little girl.

If Club Obama plans to let Israel keep leading us around by the foreign policy tool, we might just as well hand the keys to McCain. With Gramps behind the wheel, there's at least a chance he'll doze off before he backs out of the driveway.

... Over the last century climate warming has resulted in an average upslope movement of plant species' optimum elevation of 29 meters per decade.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The US government of fantasy ...

Are we really this afraid of the boogyman. Does everyone in the US government check under their beds at night and fear what may be entering their closet through an alternate universe?
The FBI team fingerprinted 3,800 fighters. More than 40, Shannon said, had previous criminal records in the agency's database.
Seems the US is fingerprinting the world. Imagine out of almost 4K 'fighters' the US has identified 40 who have criminal records in the US. Are you shaking in your boots yet? From these figures invasions can be fantasized. If we weren't living through it, this could be the plot of a good movie.

The people being fingerprinted had come from the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan. One of the first men fingerprinted by the FBI team was a fighter who claimed he was in Afghanistan to learn the ancient art of falconry. But a fingerprint check showed that in August 2001 he had been turned away from Orlando International Airport by an immigration official who thought he might overstay his visa. Mohammed al Kahtani would later be named by the Sept. 11 Commission as someone who reportedly had sought to participate in hijackings. He is in custody at Guantanamo Bay.

The logic in the above quote is just overwhelming. It can't be be questioned nor denied just like the fact that waterboarding is torture if used against certain Americans (Mukasey comes to mind) but not torture when used on those with a different skin shade.

I think 'reporter' Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post has missed her calling as a great novelist:
Post-9/11 dragnet turns up surprises; Record-sharing links foreign detainees with U.S. arrests

The team, led by Paul Shannon, a veteran FBI agent, traveled to the combat zone toting briefcases outfitted with printer's ink, hand rollers and paper cards. The agents worked in Kandahar and Kabul. They traversed the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. They hand-carried the fingerprint records from Afghanistan to Clarksburg, W.Va., home to the FBI's criminal biometric database.

As they analyzed the results, they were surprised to learn that one out of every 100 detainees was already in the FBI's database for arrests. Many arrests were for drunken driving, passing bad checks and traffic violations, FBI officials said.

Beware all Americans who have been arrested for drunken driving, passing bad checks and traffic violations. The US government has postulated an invasion on the startling fact that some foreigners they found in Afghanistan had arrest records in the US for these horrendous offenses. The US government has seen through the vast conspiracy of power, will and capability of these previously fingerprinted foreigners (even without Bushie's help) to bring down the United States. If the US government can discern the danger that foreign drunk drivers, bad check writers and traffic violators pose for the US then what kind of analogies might they use against all the US born who have passed bad checks, been arrested for drunk driving and other traffic violations. They may just decide 'we' would all be safer if these people were also incarcerated for our protection.

Is that really so far fetched given the fantastical nature of this Washington Post article which is providing the fictional foundation for the complete elimination of personal privacy in the United States?

Can't expect Democratic candidates to pay attention ...

... to this anymore than they pay attention to anything else the public (which includes bloggers, by the way) thinks or should be thinking about:
What's the USA Future: Democracy or Empire?

[ ... ]

So perhaps those Democratic strategists that think we don't have to have this discussion right now need to reconsider. We are on the path of collapsing just like our archenemy did a few decades ago. We might need to find a way to wake the American public about this threat so they too can have a voice in the outcome. It really is about guns and butter.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The demonization of Cynthia McKinney and how the media trains us all ...

Avedon at The Sideshow reviews the case of the Demonization of Cynthia McKinney.

What was her problem? She asked the wrong questions, questions our betters didn't want asked. McKinney kept asking, but most don't.

Journalists learn what they can and cannot ask and what they can and cannot write. That is they quickly learn if they want to work. Even journalists who've established themselves outside the usual corporate structures are affected by the pervasive repetition of the corporate message.

Most Democrats in Congress also accept the terms established through GOP/corporate control of the media. Few go up against the media whip for long. Think just how compliant Reid is. Think just how agreeable Hoyer is. And Polosi? Is there the possibility that she started out thinking she could actually perform her job as Speaker of the House without being demonized by the media? Whatever her goals to begin with she's been mauled into line now. She's following Reid's example. Reid repeatedly says one thing while quietly working to accomplish the opposite.

And Obama? Notice that once he and the media eliminated Clinton from the race Obama now follows the dictates that requires he betray his supporters and his own stated beliefs and demonstrate that he will be a good and compliant little Democrat should he still have a chance of getting elected after he's run the gauntlet on the corporate press' terms.

So who's the crazy one? McKinney? Obama? Us?

UPDATE: Anonymous, in the comment section, appears to think it's the media which is being maligned and not McKinney. Perhaps? But was the media being maligned when they correographed the accusation that Gore said he invented the internet. Was the media being maligned when they correographed the 'evidence' of the Dean Scream. It goes on and on. But I'm sure Anonymous must have the inside story. He/she just didn't see fit to give it to us here. She/he just commented like any blogger would ...

Friday, July 4, 2008

Quantum privacy ...

Vittorio Giovannetti from Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, Italy is one of the developers and says:
“In simple terms, you may say that the main advantage of the protocol is that it allows us to perform a task that, as far as we know, would not be possible to achieve by classical means: that is, it guarantees both user and data privacy without requiring any costly communication and computational overheads, ..."
From the article:
When an Internet user types a word or phrase into a search engine, the Web server has the ability to find out that inquiry. As more people and businesses are becoming concerned about privacy, researchers are developing new ways to make online activity more secure for both users and servers.

Recently, physicists have created a cheat-sensitive protocol called quantum private queries (QPQ). The quantum-based system allows a user to search for and retrieve an item from a database without revealing that item to the server. If the server tries to find out the item, the user can tell, and modify their use accordingly.
I found it interesting that in describing the interchange between the person looking for information and the repository of that information, the names of Alice and Bob were used. Distracting sort of shortcut (until one gets used to it, I suppose, as with most shortcuts):
As the physicists explain, the QPQ strategy is designed to protect the user’s privacy and the server’s information. Normally, these two goals are in conflict, since complete privacy for one side means vulnerability for the other. But QPQ takes advantage of elements of quantum theory to provide a compromise.

In the QPQ strategy, the user Alice performs a search query, and receives a limited number of answers from the server Bob. If Alice suspects that Bob is trying to figure out her queries, she can perform a search query that is a quantum superposition of different queries. Her answer from Bob will reveal whether the superposition has been altered or not, and she will know if he has been trying to read her queries.

In order for the strategy to work, Alice must send her queries in random order, one at a time. This way, Bob doesn’t know if a query is a normal query or a superposition query intended to detect his attempts at cheating. Sending queries one at a time prevents Bob from making joint measurements, which might go unnoticed.

Although Bob may be lucky and successfully determine one of Alice’s queries by choosing to intercept the normal query instead of the superposition of queries, chances are that he will get caught sooner or later. In fact, the physicists showed that, no matter what sophisticated methods Bob might use to try to intercept Alice’s queries, she will likely discover his attempts.
Continue reading: New Quantum Strategy Keeps Web Searches Private

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Liberal Oasis argues that Obama FISA stance is no big deal ...

Obama's FISA stance is 'reluctant.' He doesn't want to give those big bad law breaking telecomms immunity. No he doesn't. But he reluctantly must. He must, don't you see. He must because he must spy on Americans without warrants so we will be safe from ... something. Not safe from being spied upon secretly, whenever, with out warrants or recourse, but safe from ... something. Something the government, including Obama, wants us to be safe from. But that's OK because it's Obama and we TRUST (with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stand for patootie) him and we're sure he, and not McCain, will be elected so that it will be Obama's administration who is spying on us and not the McCain administration.

So even if Obama votes to undermine core Constitutional principles it's OK because his vote doesn't necessarily mean he shares Bush's disrespect of the Constitution:

2. Is it fair to extrapolate the position to fully undermine the core principle?

Consider Obama's position in offering reluctant support for the FISA bill even though he disagrees with the provision effectively granting immunity to telecom companies.

Core principles of constitutional check and balances, as well as privacy rights, are involved. But does Obama's vote necessarily mean he shares Bush's disrespect of the Constitution, and would act in a similar unconstitutional manner if he assumed the presidency?

Oh, I feel so much better now. I see the light. We don't need no stinking Constitution. We have Obama. Yae ...

I do have one little question. Will Obama put the Constitution back together before he leaves office?

My God, a conservative who still has a brain ...

... and writing lucidly, oh my. The GOP hasn't turned them all into robots as yet. This made my day.

[Please note, I think many Dems are also brainless. Seems to be a genetic problem associated with leadership, or maybe it's follower-ship that's the cause. We could blame evolution, unless of course you believe in creationism, then you already know Who's to blame.]

Daniel Larison at the American Conservative writes about Obama's FISA fiasco:
Think about it from their perspective: they see a tremendous opportunity in an overwhelmingly pro-Democratic year to win an election that also could provide something like a mandate for a progressive agenda, and in the interests of winning they have swallowed their objections to Obama’s relatively less progressive platform (as compared to Edwards or Clinton) only to be betrayed on an issue as fundamental and central as constitutional liberties and derided in the process as part of the problem with our political system. “Be practical,” someone says, “we’re trying to win an election.” To which they might reasonably reply, ”To what end, if our candidate caves in on major issues?”
via Glenn Greenwald

Let me count the ways that US Today is ...

... is full of crap. [Ok, I broke down and used modern day vernacular undoing years of training and conditioning and usage.]

Here's a couple paragraphs from US Today's article: Obama faces online backlash for centrist views

Obama, rated last year as the most liberal senator by the non-partisan National Journal magazine, said he supports the domestic wiretapping bill because it is "a compromise that, while far from perfect, is a marked improvement" over a previous version. His aides insist Obama is not tempering his positions.

"Over the course of his career, Barack Obama has made decisions not on party or politics, but on what he thinks is best for America," spokesman Hari Sevugan says.

Clues to US Today's moronic style of journalism: National Journal is non-partisan. Good grief. Obama the most liberal Senator. A Moronic Journalism Award for US Today for passing on the National Journal's proclamations as if they were in any way credible. Obama, even in the primary phase of this campaign has never appeared to be very liberal. He seems to hover around the center of the Democratic Party. Progressive issues don't really seem to inspire Obama very much. Clinton herself is a centrist but at least she does care about universal health care. Obama is even further right than Clinton. Most liberal Senator indeed.

Repeatedly we keep hearing/reading that Obama, and others, are supporting the FISA capitulation because it is an improvement over a previous version. How is this a reason to support a bad bill?

The leaders of the Democratic Party (Obama, Reid, Pelosi, Hoyer), which is the majority party in both the Senate and the House, in case you can't tell by their behaviour, are telling us that all they can do is produce bad bills and that that's OK because they could really produce even worse bills?

According to the quotes presented in this article, Obama thinks that warrantless spying on Americans is what is best for America. Funny, he said he didn't think that before the Senate completely caved to Bush and his GOP mafia even though they are some of the most unpopular people in the whole US of A.

Next US Today lectures us with Obama talking points that sound like they've been channeled to him via the D.C. people-in-the-know - that is in the know as to how to help Democrats pull defeat from victory.

Some political strategists, however, note Obama is making a calculated shift to win over voters in a country where neither major party claims a majority.

"His supporters should understand this," said Emory University political scientist Merle Black. "He needs to reach out."

So Obama is making a calculated shift to disregarding the Constitution so he can appeal to who? Hard core Republicans? They aren't going to vote for him no matter what he does? Just who wants to be able to spy on Americans? Obama is either one such person and/or he's being very careless with our freedoms and/or he's being conned. Reach out, my foot. I don't know what Obama is thinking with FISA and telecomm immunity, but whatever it is it is NOT good for America and it is probably NOT good for him. For a smart man he is doing a very stupid thing, so stupid he can't even explain it coherently.

The title of the article itself starts the journalistic bouncing ball of errors rolling. Obama faces online backlash for centrist views How is spying on Americans a centrist goal? How is giving freedom from prosecution for crimes to telecomms and BushCo a centrist goal? These all seemed to be extreme rightwing GOP goals? When did they become centrist?

UPDATE: Senator Obama - Please Vote NO on Telecom Immunity - Get FISA Right posts at Obama's community blog (via digby) are quite compelling.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Medical Evacuation Helicopters: Free-for-all over Flagstaff skies ... ?

Local flights have optional radio protocols by : At FMC [Flagstaff Medical Center] for example, the hospital does not maintain a control tower to direct and tracks flights. Also, it is considered optional for pilots of emergency medical helicopters to give their movements to controllers at Flagstaff Pulliam Airport if they are not entering the airport’s three-mile airspace.

Six people were killed in the collision of two medical helicopters collided over Flagstaff on June 29. Both helicopters were making a beeline to the Flagstaff Medical Center.

Torture is for Confessions ... true or false is not the issue as John McCain who confessed for his torturers must know.

Confession is the goal of the torture state. Confession acknowledges and affirms the power of the state and lends the torturers cover for their sadism. Whether what is confessed is true or false, partially true or partially false is irrelevant. The goal is to get the confession that the torture regime is after, whether that be the Nazi's or George Bush's America.

All should read at-Largely's Torture And Moral Causistry, specially the quote of Christopher Hitchens' recounting of his waterboarding torture 'test.'
There's no doubt in my mind, certainly, that the Bush administration knew that these techniques were best for eliciting false confessions - after all, that's the main use torture has always been put to by authoritarian regimes since the Witch Trails of Europe and before. The same techniques were used to elicit a false conviction from John McCain when he was incarcerated during the Vietnam War - yet he's just fine nowadays with accepting the Bush administration's parsing of such methods as somehow not being, precisely, torture.

Christopher Hitchens used to join in that parsing - he has now tried waterboarding for himself and has now unequivocally changed his mind.

Determined to resist if only for the honor of my navy ancestors who had so often been in peril on the sea, I held my breath for a while and then had to exhale and—as you might expect—inhale in turn. The inhalation brought the damp cloths tight against my nostrils, as if a huge, wet paw had been suddenly and annihilatingly clamped over my face. Unable to determine whether I was breathing in or out, and flooded more with sheer panic than with mere water, I triggered the pre-arranged signal and felt the unbelievable relief of being pulled upright and having the soaking and stifling layers pulled off me. I find I don’t want to tell you how little time I lasted.

...The interrogators would hardly have had time to ask me any questions, and I knew that I would quite readily have agreed to supply any answer. I still feel ashamed when I think about it. Also, in case it’s of interest, I have since woken up trying to push the bedcovers off my face, and if I do anything that makes me short of breath I find myself clawing at the air with a horrible sensation of smothering and claustrophobia. No doubt this will pass. As if detecting my misery and shame, one of my interrogators comfortingly said, “Any time is a long time when you’re breathing water.” I could have hugged him for saying so, and just then I was hit with a ghastly sense of the sadomasochistic dimension that underlies the relationship between the torturer and the tortured. I apply the Abraham Lincoln test for moral casuistry: “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.” Well, then, if waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture.

America under Bush tortures people - bad people and people it believes are bad who later turn out to be innocent. It gets confessions - many false - from those people. It parses - lies by ommission and misdirection - about whether it actually does torture or not. It commits war crimes thereby. And John McCain, despite having had these things done to him, would continue that program by continuing to parse reality. He may have spoken up against waterboarding, but he's just fine with following the Bush lead in defining other torture techniques as 'enhanced interrogation". It is, as Hitchens says "moral causistry" of the most horrid sort. Do you really need another reason why he shouldn't be president?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Obama slaps his supporters ...

From the last two weeks (per Greenwald):

*intervened in a Democratic Congressional primary to support one of the worst Bush-enabling Blue Dogs over a credible, progressive challenger;

* announced his support for Bush's FISA bill, reversing himself completely on this issue;

* sided with the Scalia/Thomas faction in two highly charged Supreme Court decisions;

* repudiated Wesley Clark and embraced the patently false media narrative that Clark had "dishonored McCain's service" (and for the best commentary I've seen, by far, on the Clark matter, see this appropriately indignant piece by Iraq veteran Brandon Friedman);

* condemned for its newspaper advertisement criticizing Gen. Petraeus;

* defended his own patriotism by impugning the patriotism of others, specifically those in what he described as the "the so-called counter-culture of the Sixties" for "attacking the symbols, and in extreme cases, the very idea, of America itself" and -- echoing Jeanne Kirkpatrick's 1984 RNC speech -- "blaming America for all that was wrong with the world";

* unveiled plans "to expand President Bush's program steering federal social service dollars to religious groups and -- in a move sure to cause controversy . . . letting religious charities that receive federal funding consider religion in employment decisions," a move that could "invite a storm of protest from those who view such faith requirements as discrimination" -- something not even the Bush faith programs allowed.

We've run out of cheeks.

Bank of America's involvement with 'dirty coal' inspires ...

... an outing.

“We don’t snoop into private citizens’ lives. We aren’t living in a communist state.”

Oh, yeah? (via Sideshow)