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Can We Reunite the United States of
|A Toast to Charles
Darwin on his 200th Birthday.
February 12th 2009
One hundred and fifty years ago the Universe was a perfect clockwork
mechanism, with humankind as the mainspring around which the
intricate machine was built. The heavenly bodies moved according to
The Creator’s plan, and all the Earth and the myriad web of life
upon it were put here for our benefit. The Universe had design, it
had purpose, it had a center.
hundred and fifty years ago, Charles Darwin changed that Universe.
Upon publication of his life’s work, “On the Origin of Species by
Means of Natural Selection”, humankind was no longer the center of
the Universe, and the Universe had lost its purpose, its center.
Humans were just another part of nature, just another animal. The
year 1859 was a bad year for anthropocentrism.
Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday, and he deserves a hearty
toast from us all on this occasion. Not because he set modern
biology on its current path 80 years before biologists begrudgingly
acceded to his insight, but because he brought biology to the
masses. At once, biology became both controversial, and exciting. No
other single theory in biology has so thoroughly and simultaneously
set biologists and laymen alike at each others throats.
theory has so thoroughly shifted the ground of the debate over human
origins and the place of humans in the Universe.
mechanisms and details of evolution will be debated for centuries to
come, the basic premise set forth by Charles Darwin, that “descent
with modification” and “natural selection” of the most successful
offspring are the two bases of evolution, will endure.
biology, the debate still rages over the mechanisms of “descent with
modification”. But the idea that natural selection, operating
inexorably at many levels, is responsible for ensuring that the most
highly fit organisms survive and reproduce, is unquestionable.
So I offer
a toast to one of the greatest biologists and thinkers of all time.
Happy birthday Charles. Here’s to you.
Can’t Win Elections Fairly
October 23rd, 2008
They purge voter rolls of eligible Democrats while simultaneously
undermining groups such as ACORN which work diligently to register
poor people so they can vote.
control many local voting districts, and willfully limit the size of
polling places, and the number of machines available, especially in
Democratic strongholds, in order to make voting as difficult as
tirelessly to change the laws to limit the number of poor and
disenfranchised who would be able to vote with everything from laws
mandating photo IDs, to laws that limit the number of places where
voting machines can be set up, in order to ensure long lines in
hand out pamphlets in Democratic precincts that tell voters that
their candidate is a Democrat, when they are actually a Republican
(e.g., the Robert Ehrlich campaign in 2006 in Maryland).
the smears. Barak Obama is a terrorist “Who is the real Barak
Obama?”. He’s not a real American.
followed by Robocalls which pump out more ad hominem smears, without
a shred of information on what a McCain/Palin administration would
do for you. They don’t want you to think about what they would (or
wouldn’t) do to fix the economy, or fix our infrastructure, or
improve our schools. Nothing about healthcare costs, or college
costs, or anything else that might be important to the public.
they do these despicable, un-American, un-Democratic things?
Because they are a minority within our country.
Conservatives make up no more than 35% of our country’s electorate.
In order to win, they need to depress the overall turnout, turn off
independents, put impediments in the way of voters in Democratic
districts, illegally purge voter rolls of eligible Democrats, smear
the other party with ad hominem attacks, and lie, lie, lie.
no other recourse if they want to win. The fewer people who vote,
the better their chances of winning.
don’t want you to think about any of these things. They just want to
poison the well. They want you to say, “a pox on both their houses”.
They want you to stay home, or give up if the line at the voting
booth is too long.
mad, get even. If you want to poke a sharp stick in the proverbial
Republican eye, then first you need to make sure you haven’t been
purged from the voting rolls. Contact your local election board or
go here to check:
sure you bring a book or MP3 player to the polling place when you go
to vote. There is nothing that angers anti-Democratic Republicans
more than patient, determined Democratic voters.
||DON’T VOTE FOR
October 8th, 2008
A vote for Obama is a
vote for the status quo.
A vote for Obama is a vote
for the two party system.
All politicians are the
Your vote will be stolen
The machines don't work,
and no one counts provisional ballots.
The duopoly is broken.
If voting could change
things, it would be illegal.
Don't vote for the lesser
of two evils. Evil is evil.
The elections are fake
If it's close, the Supreme
Court will have the last say.
You are powerless. Your
vote is meaningless.
||Is McCain the
Sept. 2nd 2008
Current common wisdom
suggests that John McCain will be the next president of the United
States, in part because he is supposedly experienced, and in part
because he has “earned” the privilege through his years in the
Senate. However, the parallels to the Mondale campaign of 1984 seem
inevitable, and do not bode well for Mr. McCain and his vice
presidential pick, Sarah Palin.
In the 1984 presidential campaign, Democrats were hopeful that
Walter Mondale had the experience and temperament to beat Ronald
Reagan and George Bush Sr. for the White House. Senator Mondale then
chose the inexperienced and wholly unknown congresswoman Geraldine
Ferraro from NY as his vice presidential pick, a choice which in
retrospect did not improve the chances of winning the election.
Reagan and Bush won in a landslide, with Mondale and Ferraro only
taking Minnesota and the District of Columbia. This was one of the
worst defeats in modern presidential campaign history.
If we take a quick look back at the politics of the mid 1980s, the
so-called Reagan revolution was underway, and the
Democratic-controlled Congress was increasingly unpopular. The
liberal politics of the 1960’s and 1970’s were coming to an end, and
“trickle down economics” and pro-business policies were on the rise.
The political pendulum was swinging fast. This era then led to the
Republican takeover of Congress in 1994 during Bill Clinton’s first
term, and the rest is history.
If we examine the McCain campaign with respect to the Obama
campaign, several striking similarities to the election of 1984
stand out. First is the political ascendancy of the Democrats as the
Bush era comes to a close. The Bush era is marked by greater public
disdain, distrust, and disgust than even the “stagflationary” Jimmy
Second is the star power of Barack Obama as compared with McCain,
who seems out of touch, grouchy and sour. Senator Obama draws huge
enthusiastic crowds, while McCain has trouble even getting reporters
to attend his speeches. This star-power effect was clearly the case
with Ronald Reagan, who was B movie Hollywood star, but a grade-A
political star in the mid 1980’s, at least as far as Republicans and
many independents were concerned. Mondale couldn’t even begin to
match Reagan’s popularity at the time. This is also true of Obama
and McCain, except in reverse.
Then there is the cross-over vote potential. Reagan was known for
drawing in many so-called Reagan Democrats, which helped usher in
the landslide of the 1984 election. However, this time around it
looks like a great deal of the cross-over voting will be
independents and Republicans voting for change.
Problems with the economy helped Reagan win reelection in 1984,
whereas the current economic problems are almost certain to help
Obama rather than McCain. Of course, after winning re-election,
Reagan’s economic policies led to the S&L crisis and massive
tax-payer funded bailout, but that’s a another story.
The one similarity to the 1984 campaign that now seems inevitable is
the choice of an unknown woman politician as the vice presidential
candidate. Walter Mondale chose a New York congresswoman that
virtually no one outside of New York had ever heard of. Similarly,
John McCain chose Sarah Palin, a governor virtually unknown outside
the state of Alaska. Palin’s current “trooper-gate”, and unwed
pregnant daughter problems aside, it is clear to most people that
McCain chose her as a running mate for purely political reasons in
an attempt to lure Hillary Clinton supporters to the McCain camp.
This was the charge leveled at Mondale back in 1984. The choice of
Palin will certainly not help bolster McCain's maverick status, and
will paint him instead as a faux maverick.
It will be very interesting to see if the election of 2008 plays out
as a mirror image of the election of 1984. I doubt highly that
Barack Obama will be able to manage the same type of landslide that
Ronald Reagan did in the election of 84, but I am growing more
hopeful every day that after the public has a chance to listen to
McCain and Obama over the next two months, that they are going to
opt for a reversal of politics, with the pendulum swinging rapidly
away from the Bush era, and toward the Obama era.
Round Torture and Imprisonment without Trial
June 14th, 2008
It used to be the case that Republicans would
rally around flag burning, gays in the military, assault gun bans
and other non-issues that really don't affect our country at all.
How many here have been personally harmed by assault gun bans? But
now, in this election year where they are trying to paint the first
African-American candidate for president as a terrorist sympathizer,
they've decided such trivialities are just not up to the task.
have neocon conservatives decided to rally around this election
You guessed it, the pressing need to torture prisoners and
hold them indefinitely without trial.
will still go after missing lapel pins, pledge of allegiance, and
terrorist fist-bumping, because they are morally and politically
bankrupt when it comes to policies, or priorities. But these
Neanderthal, tribal tirades against Senator Obama and his wife are
not resonating beyond the ditto-head, neocon authoritarian
followers. They need something with a bit more edge than mere verbal
association with al Qaeda and the Taliban.
time around, they need to try a different tactic, and the one they
seem to be settling on is to rally around ending habeas corpus, and
legalizing torture. The recent Supreme Court decision (5-4 split) to
uphold habeas corpus (the right to a trial by jury) for Iraq and
Afghanistan detainees has sent the neocons into a fit. Supreme Court
Justice Scalia called the decision to uphold the Constitution
disastrous, devastating and tragic.
Friday on the nationally syndicated Diane Rehm radio talk show, a
conservative commentator, I believe it was David Brooks, argued
forcefully that waterboarding did not constitute torture because
there were no lasting effects (except, of course, when it leads to
actual drowning). It is doubtful that conservatives really believe
that waterboarding isn’t a form of torture, or that indefinite
detention without the right to a trial is constitutional. That's not
the point. They need rallying cries to get their base motivated.
They know that their base of authoritarian followers and ditto-heads
aren’t well informed, and that they love the tough guy, red meat
kind of issues that will quickly enrage them against the Democrats.
Richard Samp, who is the chief counsel of the conservative
Washington Legal Foundation, was quoted as saying; “as a political
matter, it will help to rally those inclined to believe the Supreme
Court is out of control.”
McCain opined that the Supreme court; “rendered a decision yesterday
that I think is one of the worst decisions in the history of this
you have it. As far as neocons are concerned, Supreme Court justices
ruling in favor of the constitution are “out of control”. Ergo, “we
must elect John McCain so that we can finish stacking the Supreme
Court with more Antonin Scalias”.
that seems more like a rallying cry for liberals, progressives and
independents to elect Barack Obama the 44th president of the United
with a Conscience?
May 28th, 2008
Scott McClellan, ex-White House spokesperson,
has written a book about his experience as resident Bush
administration propagandist. His main conclusion is that the
Bush administration is in permanent campaign mode, and will lie,
distort and manipulate to get its political way, even when going
to war against a nation that did not attack the US.
book "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and
Washington's Culture of Deception”, is scheduled to be released
on Monday. Scott McClellan was known for his
“deer-in-the-headlights” style of press conference, constantly
looking flummoxed and off balance. This turns out to be the
case, as he describes how "I could feel something fall out of
me into the abyss as each reporter took a turn whacking me. It
was my reputation crumbling away, bit by bit."
many have hoped over the last 7 years, it looks like some
conservatives do have a conscience, and need to set the record
straight after being forced to lie and deceive as a part of
their job description. Let us hope further that this is the tip
of the iceberg, and that more conscience-tattered administration
officials end up spilling their guts to assuage their guilt.
is really nothing new in the book that we haven't heard before,
it’s just that we haven't heard some of the details straight
from one of the perpetrator’s mouth. McClellan details how the
Bush administration, through him and others, lied the United
States into a war in Iraq: “Over that summer of 2002, top
Bush aides had outlined a strategy for carefully orchestrating
the coming campaign to aggressively sell the war. . . . In the
permanent campaign era, it was all about manipulating sources of
public opinion to the president's advantage. What I do know is
that war should only be waged when necessary, and the Iraq war
was not necessary."
McClellan confirms what the White House has denied since the
run-up to the Iraq war, that it was a war of choice undertaken
for political reasons. Untold thousands are dead as a result.
McClellan also confirms that he was lied to about Scooter
Libby’s and Karl Rove's involvement in the CIA leak case. They
were not only involved, they had private meetings at the White
House in order to get their falsified testimony straight.
the more important confirmations in McClellan’s book is the fact
that Bush is insecure and incapable of admitting mistakes.
McClellan noted that a more secure person would have had the
wherewithal to admit error. But not Bush Jr., who is so insecure
and stubborn that he cannot change his mind, and cannot admit
that he has made any mistakes. Combined with the unyielding,
toxic political atmosphere created by Bush, Cheney and Rove,
this intransigence has harmed the United States domestically and
internationally in ways that will continue to play out for years
Conservatives with a conscience? Bring ‘em on!
May 22nd, 2008
order to fully control the oil supply from the Middle East the Bush
administration needs to destabilize Iran, and then attempt to
install a US friendly government there. The US military currently
occupies Afghanistan to the east, and Iraq to the west of Iran, but
as long as the US has little or no sway with the Iranian government,
the US does not have full geopolitical control of Middle Eastern oil
administration's plan for geopolitical domination of Middle Eastern
oil has always involved destabilizing the Iranian government, even
if this means limited airstrikes under the pretense of eliminating
the stalled, incipient Iranian nuclear program. Indeed, the Bush
administration has spent untold billions flexing its muscles by
moving the US military into and around the Persian Gulf, and using
covert assets to undermine confidence among the Iranians.
the Bush administration's slavish adherence to supply side
Reaganomics, and their stubborn insistence that it is best the way
to a strong economy, may eventually be the undoing of their
imperialist plans for Iranian oil.
dilemma: Bush's military occupations of both Afghanistan and
Iraq, while simultaneously saber rattling at Iran, have had a
significant impact on the price of oil over the last several years.
Instability in the world’s most oil-rich region resulting from the
US military occupations, lack of international dialogue, and
demonization of political leaders in Iran and neighboring countries,
account for the lion's share of increases in the price of oil. As
the price of oil shot through $100 a barrel, and now resides above
$130 per barrel, at the same time that the US dollar is nearing
all-time lows against foreign currencies, the buying power of the
average American family has declined precipitously. As the economy
moves more certainly into a recession, and as home values continue
to decline, the Bush administration's economic policies are becoming
less and less popular with the public.
to Bush's dilemma. Any air strikes against Iran directed at
destabilizing that nation's government will immediately send oil
prices above $150 per barrel. At this price, the recession will
worsen greatly as energy costs bleed over into almost every other
sector of the economy. But the status quo is barely better for Bush.
this is an election year, and the country is headed into a deeper
recession, Bush needs to do something more than send out checks for
a couple hundred bucks to taxpayers in order to turn the economy
around. This is an essential aspect for any incumbent administration
in the run-up to an election. However, they are also desperate to
play the war card one more time to try and rally the American people
again behind Middle Eastern adventurism in the name of fighting
Catch-22. If they don't attack Iran, they don't get the “rally round
the flag” effect, but if they do attack Iran, they drive the price
of oil even higher, further deepening the recession here at home. Is
there a way out for Bush & Co.?
certain that the talk in the West Wing regularly turns to ways that
the government can accomplish the incompatible goals of repairing
the economy while simultaneously bombing Iran into submission.
However I do not see any way to reduce oil prices other than to
reduce tensions and instability in the Middle East. That not only
involves negotiations with Iran but also negotiations with Hamas,
Hezbollah, and the Taliban, while simultaneously reducing the US
military footprint throughout the region. This is clearly not going
to happen on Bush's watch. As such, we will be heading into the next
election with high oil prices, high tensions throughout the Middle
East, and a sagging economy at home. This could drive Bush to
desperate measures as the election approaches. Only time will tell
if they can figure a way out of Bush's dilemma.
||Death Toll Due to
Tainted Heparin in US Rises to 81
April 22nd, 2008
Federal officials in the US now say that the
death toll due to adverse reactions to contaminated heparin coming
from China has risen to 81, whereas Chinese officials dispute that
any deaths were caused by the contaminant. In a tit-for-tat
finger-pointing exercise, officials from both countries insist that
they be allowed to inspect the manufacturing plants in the other
the US does not have an agreement with the Chinese government to
allow inspection of Chinese food and drug manufacturing facilities.
Chinese officials insist that this would only be allowed if Chinese
officials were granted the reciprocal right to inspect all US food
and drug manufacturing plants.
According to the NY Times, however, based on the current funding
and staffing levels, the F.D.A. would take 27 years to inspect every
foreign medical device plant that exports to the United States, 13
years to inspect every foreign drug manufacturing plant, and 1,900
years to examine every foreign food processing plant.
Congressman John Dingell, Democrat from Michigan, is calling for
increased funding for the FDA, but has met resistance from the Bush
administration which does not think that significantly increased
funding is necessary. Funding for agencies that are actually tasked
with protecting American lives, such as the FDA and the USDA, is not
considered as important by the Bush administration as funding the
military, supposedly to protect the American public from terrorism.
FDA’s website, the FDA is requesting $2.4 billion for fiscal
year 2009 to protect America's food and drug supply. This is
approximately the same amount of money that the US government spends
on the Iraq war every week. This puts Iraq war funding at
approximately 50 times greater than the government's attempt to make
sure the food you eat and the drugs you are given at the hospital
as US citizens, we are not getting the types of protections we need
from our government, and that we pay for with our taxes. The war in
Iraq is costing American lives, not protecting them. Taking a single
week’s worth of funding from the Iraqi budget and putting it into
the FDA budget would double the FDA budget overnight. But as long as
the Bush administration has any say in the matter, that will not
senators and congressional representative and ask them to support
increased funding for the FDA. That money could easily be pulled
from the Iraqi war budget if troop levels were dropped
significantly. When the Bush administration tells you they are
protecting you from terrorists, don't believe them. More people have
died from tainted heparin in the last several months in the US (81)
than have died from terrorism in the US in the last six years (0).
April 20th, 2008
The NY Times was shocked, shocked! to learn
that major news outlets have been spinning the Iraq war for 6 years
using “military analysts” with direct financial connections to
military contractors who were reaping huge war profits. I am certain
they were also shocked to find out that one of those major news
outlets that was spinning the war with the help of paid
propagandists was the New York Times itself.
7600 word account that had the feel of an article that had been
written years ago, and shoved in a drawer to rot because managing
editors didn't want to touch it, the Times details the nepotistic
connections between military analysts featured in news reports and
the military contractors profiting from the Iraq war. I wouldn't be
surprised if the article was pulled from the drawer, dusted off, and
updated before publishing this Saturday on the front page of the New
notable quotes from the article include:
years into the Iraq war, most details of the architecture and
execution of the Pentagon’s campaign have never been disclosed. But
The Times successfully sued the Defense Department to gain access to
8,000 pages of e-mail messages, transcripts and records … These
records reveal a symbiotic relationship where the usual dividing
lines between government and journalism have been obliterated.”
Pentagon itself has made covert payments to Iraqi newspapers to
publish coalition propaganda. Rather than complain about the “media
filter,” each of these techniques simply converted the filter into
an amplifier. This time, Mr. Krueger said, the military analysts
would in effect be “writing the op-ed” for the war.”
Referring to the Vietnam War, Paul E. Vallely, a Fox News analyst
from 2001 to 2007 noted:
lost the war — not because we were outfought, but because we were
out Psyoped,” he wrote. He urged a radically new approach to
psychological operations in future wars — taking aim at not just
foreign adversaries but domestic audiences, too. He called his
approach “MindWar” — using network TV and radio to “strengthen our
national will to victory.
analysts said that even before the war started, they privately had
questions about the justification for the invasion, but were careful
not to express them on air.”
e-mail messages between the Pentagon and the analysts reveal an
implicit trade of privileged access for favorable coverage. Robert
H. Scales Jr., a retired Army general and analyst for Fox News and
National Public Radio whose consulting company advises several
military firms on weapons and tactics used in Iraq, wanted the
Pentagon to approve high-level briefings for him inside Iraq in
2006. “Recall the stuff I did after my last visit,” he wrote. “I
will do the same this time.”
strategic target remains our population,” General Conway said. “We
can lose people day in and day out, but they’re never going to beat
our military. What they can and will do if they can is strip away
our support. And you guys can help us not let that happen.”
“General, I just made that point on the air,” an analyst replied.
work it together, guys,” General Conway urged.
analyst said at another point: “This is a wider war. And whether we
have democracy in Iraq or not, it doesn’t mean a tinker’s damn if we
end up with the result we want, which is a regime over there that’s
not a threat to us.”
as they assured Mr. Rumsfeld that they stood ready to help in this
public relations offensive, the analysts sought guidance on what
they should cite as the next “milestone” that would, as one analyst
put it, “keep the American people focused on the idea that we’re
moving forward to a positive end.” They placed particular emphasis
on the growing confrontation with Iran.“
spokeswoman for Fox News said executives “refused to participate” in
the most amazing thing about the entire sordid affair of turning the
corporate media into a propaganda wing of the Pentagon and the Bush
administration is that even when news outlets understood the
connections between their analyst and contractors in Iraq, they went
out of their way to avoid asking them any tough questions about
conflicts of interest. What you don't know can’t hurt you, right?
can certainly hope that this article will not just be a one time
deal with the corporate media getting back in lockstep with the
Pentagon Monday morning. They have lost all credibility now even
with much of their own staff, and certainly with a large proportion
of the American public.
also be interesting to see if there is any reaction from Congress in
terms of investigating the links between military contractors and
media outlets. My guess is, based on their past performance, that
they won't touch it.
you will never hear from the corporate controlled news media is the
fact that they have been scooped time and time again for the last
five or six years by liberal blogs and websites such as
indeed. Where do you get your news from?
||The Coming War with
April 12th, 2008
If the Bush administration, the New York Times, and the Washington
Post get their way, the US military will commence with missile and
air strikes against Iranian targets before the November elections.
this morning both the
Washington Post and the
New York Times
reprised their roles in the run-up to the Iraq war by beating the
drums for war against Iran. Al Qaeda is no longer their favorite
bogeyman as their focus has shifted to the regime in Iraq's neighbor
to the east.
both the New York Times and the Washington Post understand full well
that their unquestioning regurgitation of administration talking
points in late 2002 and early 2003 were low points in their
journalistic enterprises. As such, it is difficult to understand how
both news organizations could be retracing the same journalistic
mistakes they made before the Iraq war with highly unreliable
reporting from the likes of Judy Miller.
clear, we are not fighting Iranians or Al Qaeda in Iraq. We are
fighting the Iraqis who are trying to gain control and drive out the
US military occupation force. Any marginal influence by Al Qaeda or
Iran is irrelevant compared to dealing with homegrown, Iraqi
always the case with protracted military occupations of foreign
countries. We tried to blame Cambodia for the problems in Vietnam,
and began secretly bombing that country during the Vietnam War. As
long as the US military occupies Iraq, and sows the seeds of civil
war in that nation by our very presence, we will be fighting Iraqi
militias on both sides of that civil war. A civil war made possible
by US military intervention.
Iran under the pretense that they are engaging in a proxy war in
Iraq will not solve any problems, but will exacerbate all problems
faced by the US military there. It is possible that the
administration is bluffing in order to prod Iran to back down on a
number of issues. But that does not seem to be the Bush
administration’s style, which prefers riding in on horseback and
shooting wildly in all directions. Don't even bother asking
Considering the now constant din of administration warnings
concerning Iran it seems likely that they are intent on widening the
war in the Middle East before the fall elections here in the US.
With the help of news organizations such as the Washington Post and
New York Times they hope to drum up enough support for such actions.
But if the American people have any say in the matter, the US will
pull its troops out of the Middle East, rather than widening and
deepening the conflict.
America’s drug supply
March 24th, 2008
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the
US agency charged with ensuring a safe food supply, and that drugs
sold in the US are both safe, and effective.
According to a number of
reports in the
New York Times and elsewhere,
understaffing and underfunding at the FDA has made them
performing those tasks adequately.
We have heard quite a bit
over the last year about toxin-tainted pet foods and children's toys
containing high levels of lead coming into the United States from
China's unregulated industrial system. Without pollution standards,
work safety standards, or quality control standards, China's
industries are virtually beyond any form of serious oversight at
this point in time. In contrast with stories about tainted pet food
and lead-filled children's toys, problems with tainted
pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical ingredients coming out of China
have gotten somewhat less attention, in part because most adverse
reactions and deaths had occurred outside the US.
That is until a number of
heparin-related deaths in the US were reported recently in the
Washington Post. The number of deaths in the US due to tainted
heparin coming from China is still in question, but the death toll
ranges from 19 to over 40 since last Fall. Heparin is a complex
carbohydrate containing large amounts of sulfur which has been used
for decades to prevent blood clotting during operations, patient
dialysis and when collecting blood. Heparin if found at high levels
in certain tissues of the body, and pharmaceutical grade heparin is
typically extracted from cow lungs and pig intestines.
How did seriously
contaminated heparin end up in US hospitals when the FDA is supposed
to prevent such incidents from occurring?
The story begins in 2006,
in Guangdong province on the highly industrialized southeast coast
of China. Pig farmers were noticing that their pigs were getting
very sick. Pregnant females would deliver sick or dead piglets, and
infected young pigs developed a number of respiratory symptoms, and
characteristic skin and ear discoloration. The pathogen that caused
the outbreak is apparently a virus known to cause “blue-eared pig
disease” as farmers call it, and “porcine reproductive and
respiratory syndrome” as it is known to scientists. Most Chinese pig
farmers call the new illness “high fever disease”. The disease
spread rapidly among pig farms along the eastern coast of China
throughout 2006 and into 2007. The Chinese government has not
released statistics on the magnitude or scope of the outbreak, and
initially they resisted all requests for virus samples from
scientists around the world.
This particular viral
disease was first identified in the United States in 1987, and then
in several other countries in 1991 including the Netherlands and
Canada. The original virus strains have now spread worldwide, but
the those strains isolated in North America and Europe were usually
not fatal for infected pigs. Based on genetic analyses, the outbreak
of the virus in China appears to involve a much more deadly variant
of the virus. Because it affects the pigs reproductive systems and
respiratory systems more severely than other organs, the virus is
known as PRRS, standing for “porcine reproductive and respiratory
syndrome”, as noted above. The
newly mutated form of the PRRS virus arose in the same area of
China’s highly industrialized southeastern coast (Guangdong
province) that saw the rise of the mutated avian flu virus. As a
scientist, this makes me wonder if industrial pollution in the food
and water fed to livestock may be compromising the animal’s immune
systems, and making it easier for viruses to mutate and spread
throughout large, crowded herds with diminished immune responses.
But I digress from the story.
As the disease spread, and
pigs started dying in large numbers, Chinese farmers began to panic,
and rushed the remaining animals to market. It is not known if the
infected animals presented any risk to those who consumed the
resulting pork products, but nonetheless, the viral epidemic that
spread throughout Chinese pig farms has had far reaching
consequences not only in China, but throughout the world.
The story takes a turn in
2007 as pig populations declined precipitously in China. It is not
known outside of China how many pigs had to be destroyed in an
attempt to prevent the spread of the disease to the entire country.
But one estimate reported in the
Public Library of Science estimated
that over 2 million pigs were infected. Reports of the disease
surfacing in nearby countries suggest that any effort to at
containing the outbreak were unsuccessful. Pork prices in China
skyrocketed and the decline in the size of pig herds led directly to
the problems that surfaced in 2007 with tainted heparin produced in
Heparin is present in
granules in cells of the body called “mast cells”, which are found
in pig intestines in large numbers. The process of making heparin in
China begins at small farms and larger slaughterhouses where pigs
are processed for pork products. The intestines are collected and
can be processed by steam or by chemical extraction methods which
yield a crude heparin product that must be processed further before
use in humans. As pig populations in China plummeted through 2007, a
severe shortage of pig intestines threatened the heparin supplies.
As reported in the Wall
Street Journal: “Wang Xiangyang, a factory
director at the Zhaoyang Intestine & Casing Factory in Shandong, for
instance, says his company has been forced to use sheep innards in
addition to pig intestines because of a shortage of pig supplies.
"We can't get enough pig intestines," Mr. Wang says. "There are a
lot of people around who need them."
The company that produced the tainted heparin is “Scientific Protein
Laboratories” (SPL), a Wisconsin based company that has supplied
heparin to the US for 3 decades. In 1999, SPL partnered with a
Chinese firm and set up a processing plant in Changzhou China to
collect and process heparin locally. The plant was approved by the
FDA to provide heparin to the US in 2004, despite the fact that the
plant in Changzhou had not been FDA inspected. The FDA admitted last
month that it had violated its own policies by neglecting to inspect
SPL’s Chinese plant before approving the drug for sale in the US.
Most of the raw heparin supply comes from small, family-run
workshops near slaughterhouses, which send the extracts to larger
"consolidators" before they reach refining plants like the one owned
by SPL in Changzhou, near Shanghai. It is still unclear where the
problem originated, but it most likely began in the family-run
workshops that extracted the crude heparin from hog intestines. As
the supply of pig intestines declined in 2007 those family workshops
more than likely had severe difficulty in meeting supply quotas.
They were faced with the choice of informing SPL in Changzhou that
they could not meet demands for the crude extract, and lose
much-needed income, or they could try to find a cheap heparin
substitute to spike the extracts with. This second option would be
difficult unless the substitute purified and tested as though it
The two graphs
here are so-called “mass spectrograms” from the FDA
of a tainted heparin sample (top) and an uncontaminated sample
(below). In mass spectrometers compounds are ionized, and the ions
separated based on their mass. Ions of different mass show up at
different positions along the graph. The height of the peaks on the
graph are proportional to the number of ions detected.
As you can see from FDA's own analysis of a tainted heparin product
there is nearly twice as much of the contaminant (“additional
feature”) as there is actual heparin. However, heparin and the
contaminant are very near one another in terms of size so they come
out very close to one another on the mass spectrograms. The fact
that the compound was chemically similar to heparin, and did appear
to have blood thinning properties, made it very difficult initially
for the FDA to determine what the contaminant was. Obviously,
someone along the supply chain figured out a way to make a heparin
like substitute which was difficult to differentiate from the real
After much additional work
the FDA came to a conclusion about the tainted batches - the
“heparin-like contaminant” is a highly sulfated form of
sulfate, a much less expensive extract of animal cartilage.
Chondroitin sulfate is one of the main ingredients in many
over-the-counter arthritis relief supplements. It is extracted from
the cartilage of animal carcasses. It is chemically similar to
heparin except that it lacks the high level of sulfur content. As
such, the chondroitin sulfate extracted from cartilage would have
to be chemically modified to make it similar to heparin.
Now that the contaminant
has been identified it becomes much simpler to outline a possible
scenario for what happened. It is not known if the pig farmers who
collected the pig intestines and processed the crude heparin
extracts could have known enough to have produced the contaminant.
However, it would be a simple matter of reacting the cartilage
extract with sulfuric acid in order to increase the sulfur content
to that found in heparin. It may be some time before we find out
which portion of the supply chain from crude extracts to finished
heparin that batches were spiked with highly sulfated chondroitin
sulfate, but it is virtually impossible that this could have
happened accidentally. To my knowledge there is no possible
commercial use for sulfated chondroitin sulfate except that it would
have heparin-like properties and be difficult to differentiate from
real heparin. That is until it was injected into human patients,
many of whom became extremely ill, while some became so ill they
The F.D.A. has received over 785 reports of injuries and serious
adverse reactions associated with the use of tainted heparin in the
US, with at least 19 deaths attributed to the contaminated blood
thinner. As reported by the Washington Post, a series of independent
assessments, including one by the FDA’s own Science Board, have
found that the FDA is increasingly overwhelmed by its
responsibilities, and is no longer capable of protecting the public
from unsafe drugs and food, particularly those coming from China.
There is a growing consensus on Capitol Hill that the FDA needs a
rapid infusion of money if it is to protect the US food and drug
supplies. Based on recent stories of toxic pet food, lead-filled
children’s toys, and toxic pharmaceuticals, that is probably an
The US government under George Bush is spending billions of dollars
a week to supposedly protect you from terrorism, while at the same
time spending far, far less to protect American’s food and drug
supplies. Obviously, the government’s priorities are not matched to
the realities of our modern, globalized world.
||Open Letter to the
February 15th, 2008
with great dismay the
opinion piece by Director of National Intelligence Mike
McConnell supporting pending legislation on the administration’s
spying program and retroactive immunity for the telecom companies
that carried out the domestic spying.
McConnell gave us was more of the same vague fear mongering, without
any substantiation that spying on Americans without court order was
necessary to prevent terrorist attacks. There has never been one
shred of evidence that spying on Americans is the way to protect
America, nor is there any evidence that spying on Americans will
stop future terrorist attacks.
the administration had plenty of warning before the attacks on the
World Trade Center and Pentagon, but failed to act, undermining the
notion that acquiring information invariably leads to proactive
deterrence. Intelligence agencies are awash in information from many
sources, and can not possibly sort and analyze the data they are
currently receiving. Adding to that flood of information with
warrantless wiretapping will only exacerbate that problem.
Intelligence agencies need better information, not just more of it,
and you don’t get that type of good intelligence with blanket
wiretapping of US citizens.
McConnell and the administration have not offered any evidence or
rationale as to why they, and the telecom companies, should be above
the laws of our nation. Playing the fear card is not a rationale, it
is an appeal to emotion. If we are a nation of laws, then there can
be no such thing as retroactive immunity for corporations that have
potentially broken the law. Without congressional investigations, we
would have no idea what we were granting immunity for.
The “Let McCain
February 2nd, 2008
In the last couple of weeks, as it became more
likely that John McCain would be the Republican nominee, and as
Dennis Kucinich and John Edwards were tossed aside by early
Democratic primary voters, a bizarre idea kept cropping up in my
head. That Americans need to suffer significantly greater hardships
before they will finally reject Republican political philosophy.
to John McCain on the stump talking about 50 to 100 more years of
war in Iraq, and more wars to come, it got me thinking that maybe a
four year dose of McCainian hegemony is exactly what the US
electorate needs to snap it out of its apathy and indifference. Just
maybe, America will need to suffer a severe Republican tax cut,
trickle-down economics-induced recession, and protracted wars across
the globe before they will finally have had enough of Republican
economics and empire building. Much more death and destruction meted
out by the American military-corporate complex.
I have heard it from others, what America needs is four more years
of unbridled, psychotic Republican rule and oppression, and just
maybe John McCain is the right man for that job. Maybe Democrats who
find the two remaining Democratic candidates much less than what
they had hoped for in a progressive choice for president, should
just sit this one out and let McCain win so that the bad times will
continue to roll. Indeed, four years of McCain could be the final
nail in the Republican Party's coffin. Like a drunk, or a drug
addict, maybe America needs to hit bottom before it can start the
process of recovery.
after I regain control of my hypothalamus and limbic system, I find
it relatively easy to suppress those urges. Emotional responses are
really great when you're getting married or being chased by a lion.
They probably don't play out so well when picking a president.
wasting any more of your time, I'll just quickly go over some of the
rational reasons why almost any Democrat other than Joe Lieberman
would be a better choice for President than John McCain or any of
the current Republican candidates.
John McCain thinks we can “win” the Iraq
war by staying indefinitely
Bolstering the five vote Republican
majority in the Supreme Court
American spending priorities will never
shift from the military to the US infrastructure with McCain as
say goodbye to any kind of universal
health care coverage
say hello to even more regressive,
pro-corporate tax policies
forget about any kind of middle east
paint a nuclear bunker buster bull's-eye
plenty more reasons, but you get the idea. Just calculating the
number of lives saved by getting out of Iraq sooner is more than
enough reason to make sure John McCain never becomes president of
the United States. The Supreme Court has been handing down some
terrible rulings recently, and that will only continue unabated if
the court is stacked with more ultraconservatives.
that little voice in your head says, “maybe America hasn’t suffered
enough at the hands of the Republican party yet”, take out that
mental stick and beat your hypothalamus into submission.
||Open Letter to My
Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Concerning the "Homegrown Terrorism
Prevention Act" HR1955
Monday, January 14, 2008
Congressman Van Hollen,
greatly dismayed at your response (given below) to my letter
opposing HR 1955, a bill which has nothing to do with protecting
America from any real threat. Stopping “domestic terrorism” requires
standard law enforcement, and you don’t need to enhance the Bush
administration’s citizen spying program any further. Even looking
into ways that other countries spy on their citizens is not an
acceptable approach. There is virtually no domestic terrorism, so
“studying it” is a waste of time and money. That money could be much
better spent on biomedical research, if your aim was to save lives.
It is time
for the Democrats to forcefully reverse the anti-constitutional
actions of the Bush administration, not further them. It is time to
subpoena Bush administration officials, and make sure they appear,
unlike Harriet Miers and Karl Rove. Congress is supposed to be a
coequal branch in protecting and defending the Constitution from
enemies, both foreign and domestic. Currently, the gravest
domestic threats to our constitution do not come from terrorists,
they come from the Bush administration’s disregard for US and
I do not
want the government to protect me from terrorists. That is not the
government’s function. Your function is to represent your
constituents in your legislative actions, and protect and defend the
constitution, not help an out of control administration spy on
Americans in order to “protect them”.
that after hearing from more exasperated constituents, you will
reverse your decision to support HR 1955. Simply bolster standard
law enforcement agencies, and let them do their jobs, within the law
and constitutional limitations. I am sick and tired of hearing about
terrorism. More people die from drunk drivers in a few months than
in all US terrorist attacks throughout history.
I am not
sure that you understand how vehemently people oppose the Bush
administration’s policies, and how that anger is rubbing off on the
Democrats for going along with just about every aspect of these
greatly disappointed with the Democrats, and my future political
activism will be directed toward much more drastic change in the
status quo than many of the current Democrats are offering.
a specific reply.
letter from Congressman Van Hollen
Thank you for
contacting me to express your opposition to HR 1955, the Violent
Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act. I appreciate
hearing from you.
seeks to provide mechanisms to gather information about domestic
terrorism like the 1995 Oklahoma City
bombing. It sets up a Congressional
Commission and a university-based Center
for the Study of Violent
Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism in the United States
to research causes, motivations, and
potential means of domestic terrorism. It also allows the
Departments of Homeland Security and State, in cooperation with the
Attorney General and other federal entities as appropriate, to look
into methods countries like the United Kingdom
, and Australia
, have implemented to stop domestic
terrorism and, if appropriate and permitted by the Constitution,
develop similar solutions in the United States
The bill is
meant to explore motivations and means of domestic terrorism and
provide legislative recommendations on how the United States
can address it. It does not provide
authorization for any action against people or organizations.
The bill also
explicitly states, "The Department of Homeland Security's efforts to
prevent ideologically based violence and homegrown terrorism as
described herein shall not violate the constitutional rights, civil
rights, or civil liberties of United States citizens or lawful
permanent residents." It requires that the Civil Rights and Civil
Liberties Officer of the Department of Homeland Security monitor all
actions under the bill to ensure that no constitutional rights are
violated and report annually to Congress.
important that we understand domestic terrorism, as we must
understand international terrorism. Ultimately, the bill gives us
the means to learn more about domestic terrorism while protecting
our vital constitutional rights
you for sharing your concerns with me, and please do not hesitate to
let me know whenever I may be of service.
Chris Van Hollen
Member of Congress
||Though the mills of
politics grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small.
Jan 7th, 2008
For the past five or six years the political winds, or the political
pendulum if you will, has begun to swing back from Reagan era
conservatism and trickle-down economics towards American populism
and Jeffersonian democracy. This shift has not occurred among
politicians, or the corporate media talking heads, but at the
grassroots level of American politics. We the people.
required an unprecedented, and unconstitutional wake-up call from
the likes of Bush and Cheney to alert the American electorate to the
dangers posed by a government whose checks and balances have been
thwarted by the executive branch. Just maybe, the Bush and Cheney
administration’s blatant malfeasance is exactly the tonic that a
somnolescent American public needed to stir them to political
hear politicians talk about change, listen carefully to what they
say next, when they try to explain what precisely they mean by
change. If that recipe for change does not include a serious
challenge to the current corporate mentality that puts profits above
people, economy above equality, and corporations above the law, then
it may not be the type of change you had in mind.
movements don’t happen in a moment, even if heads are lost at the
gallows. The Republicans worked slowly over the last 3 decades, step
by step, to take the Congress and White House. The Democrats can’t
expect to move the political pendulum faster than it can naturally
go. Political mills grind slowly, but in the end, they produce the
results that the majority dictates. Be part of the progressive
political mill, and help the progressive majority grow. Once
Democrats have control, then the political mill can begin to work on
them to move the agenda to the left.
change doesn’t move like a bullet train, it grinds like a mill,
seeming at times exceeding slow.
||Dear New Hampshire,
Please Draft Al Gore
A small but well organized campaign staffed by
volunteers is working hard to draft Al Gore in the New Hampshire
Democratic primaries by write-in vote. Al Gore has not decided to
run, but the Draft Gore campaign is designed to get enough write-in
votes in the NH primary to convince Mr. Gore that there is massive
grassroots support for him to run for president
over the reasons for drafting Al Gore to run for president. First
off, he actually won the 2000 election and had the presidency taken
from him by five members of the Supreme Court, several of whom had
been appointed by Pappy Bush. Righting this wrong will go a long way
toward healing our nation
one running on the Democratic side has anywhere near the level of
experience in running this country that Al Gore has. If you want
someone who is progressive in the White House, someone who cares
about our Constitution and who knows what they are doing, you want
you are concerned about our environment and how it is being degraded
on a daily basis, no other Democratic candidate even comes close to
a total commitment to the environment as Al Gore.
you are concerned that your civil rights and freedoms have been
eliminated one after the other, and this worries you, then you want
someone like Al Gore in the White House who will work tirelessly to
reverse the Bush administration's domestic agenda.
you think that far too many US tax dollars have been squandered in
unnecessary wars overseas, and that that money would be much better
spent in the United States on things like education and
infrastructure, then you want a progressive like Al Gore in the
if you think that the United States has shunned diplomacy and
foreign relations over the last seven years, and you believe that
this makes the United States less safe and less influential, then
you want someone with a solid record in diplomacy as president. That
would be Al Gore.
live in New Hampshire and you think that Al Gore should run for
president, you can donate your time to help the draft Gore movement
leading up to the New Hampshire primaries on January 8th.
If you don't live in New Hampshire you can still help by donating to
name will not be on the ballots in the upcoming NH primaries, but
you can still vote for him by write-in vote. If everyone who is
interested chips in time or money, and Al Gore gets more write-in
votes than candidates like Biden and Dodd, it could just be enough
of an impetus to bring Al Gore into the race.
help out here:
Al Gore NH
Democrats, Progressives, Independents and Leftists Should Unite Now
December, 5th, 2007
I have heard all the arguments about spineless, corporate Democrats
in Congress, and I agree completely. They have let us, and the
constitution, down. So what is our course of action for the next
election? We work to unite the left behind the most progressive
primary reason for needing to unite and work together now is
obvious. The primaries are fast approaching. The candidate that the
primaries choose will limit our voting options for 2008 on the
Progressive/Liberal side to one. There isn’t going to be a viable
Green Party or any other candidate, so you will be forced to vote
for the Democrat, or no one. If you want to have any choice at all
on who that person on the Progressive side is, you need to do
something now, not in November 2008.
all of us who are not right-wing conservatives still have the
opportunity, we need to work together to get the most progressive
Here is an
approximate ranking of the current Democratic candidates from
conservative (first) to liberal (last). The order is very fuzzy, of
course, because the issues and opinions are very diverse.
Clinton > Dodd > Richardson > Obama > Edwards > [Gore] > Kucinich
count Mike Gravel, he would be the most liberal of the bunch, but he
is an even longer shot than Al Gore.
think that Ralph Nader or Michael Moore are going to win the
presidency, you might as well just give up now. I’m not saying don’t
work to build up third parties, I’m saying it is too late to try to
field a viable 3rd party candidate for 2008. That is a
Paul fanatics… Ron Paul is not a liberal or a progressive, he is a
right-wing, anti-government conservative. If you’re a progressive
who thinks that government is (or is supposed to be) a critical and
beneficial part of our society, you don’t want to have anything to
do with Ron Paul.
want a sure bet, highly-qualified and honest progressive as
president, just work your ass off to draft Al Gore and help get him
elected. The deadline to get him to commit is fast approaching.
that, work for and vote for your favorite progressive Democratic
candidate, keeping in mind that the Joe Lieberman (DLC) wing of the
Democratic party is very much like the George Bush (Neocon) wing of
the Republican party as regards corporate ties and proclivities.
that any of the more progressive Democrats (Richardson > Obama >
Edwards > Gore > Kucinich) would make a good, or maybe even a great
president. I’m not so sure about the other, more corporate/defense
industry friendly Democrats. They would be a lot better than Bush,
but then again, that’s setting the bar really, really low.
All of us
also need to research, and work to nominate the most progressive
candidates in our state and local governments. It is critical that
we all do the necessary research on our local candidates online, and
in local papers, early in the process, so that we can work to make a
difference. Waiting for the general election, and then just checking
boxes or pressing buttons isn’t going to get you the government you
want. You’ll need to put in some effort now, before your choices are
both limited, and undesirable.
||“Discoverer” of DNA
gets Foot in Mouth Disease
October 19th, 2007
Dr. James Watson of the famous Watson and Crick team credited with
the discovery of the structure of the DNA molecule is embroiled in
controversy after stating in an interview that Blacks were not as
intelligent as Whites.
Dr. Watson, now 79 and
Chancellor of the Cold Spring Harbor laboratory in New York, was
quoted as saying that he was “inherently gloomy about the prospect
of Africa.” And then continued “All our social policies are based on
the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours — whereas all
the testing says not really.”
Dr. Watson has had a
somewhat controversial career from the beginning. Despite the fact
that he and fellow scientist Francis Crick received the Nobel Prize
in 1962 for their work on the structure of nucleic acids, many
scientists have noted that Watson and Crick did very little research
themselves on the structure of DNA. Rather, they were known for
schmoozing Dr. Rosalind Franklin in the early 1950s as she
laboriously and carefully collected x-ray diffraction data of
crystallized DNA molecules. Watson and Crick used the x-ray data,
which gave the overall structure and dimensions of DNA, and then
used ball and stick models to work out the precise structure of the
DNA molecule. Dr. Rosie Franklin didn't even get a T-shirt that said
“I did all the hard work, but they got the Nobel”.
Where Dr. Watson ran into
trouble in his recent interview was with the age old canard that
equates intelligence and test scores. The funny thing about testing
is that it is done with tests. And where do you learn how to take
tests? Usually at school. Anyone who is as intelligent as Dr. Watson
should know all too well that testing shows how well you take tests,
not how intelligent you are.
Overall, when ranking
humans by so-called racial groups, Oriental people score highest on
standard tests, Jewish people score high but slightly lower than
Oriental people, Caucasians score slightly lower still, and Blacks
usually score lower than whites on average. Such test results do not
indicate that Oriental people are the most intelligent, it indicates
that they have been trained better to take tests. It says nothing
about inherent underlying intelligence. The rank order on test
scores simply shows that different groups of humans receive
different amounts of test training in school. If Whites were trained
to take tests as thoroughly as Oriental children they would score
just as high, and it works that way across all groups.
All that such test scores
show is that education is not doled out evenly among the population.
It is an indictment of education systems not a measure of innate
Dr. Watson should know
better than to give himself such a serious case of foot in mouth
||Phasers, the World
Trade Center, and Discrediting the Left
September 30th, 2007
According to some, the World Trade Center buildings could not have
collapsed as fast as they obviously did, and therefore must have
been destroyed by directed energy weapons which caused “molecular
dissociation” of the building materials.
hero of this movement is Dr. Judy Wood, formerly of the Department
of Mechanical Engineering at Clemson University. Dr. Wood has a
on her supposed evidence that the World Trade Center buildings did
not collapse, but in fact were destroyed by energy beams.
reading through the tedious article, which was filled with leaps of
ill-logic and lots of photos that showed no evidence of directed
energy weapons, or phaser fire, or “molecular dissociation”, I am
amazed that people can so easily confuse science fiction with
I am not
going to bother refuting the arguments anymore, that has been done
very well by others. I am much more interested in what I feel is a
concerted effort to divide, demoralize, and discredit the
you conspiracy theorists, this may be a new one that you had not
thought of, which is much more plausible than the idea of phasers
taking down the World Trade Center buildings.
Bush and Dick Cheney were in charge during the worst attack against
Americans on US soil in US history. They blew it as badly as anyone
in charge could have blown it. They ignored all the warnings and did
absolutely nothing to protect the country. As Democrats and
progressives began scoring points against the administration by
pointing out their extreme ineptitude and negligence, Karl Rove
comes up with the idea of circulating wild 9/11 conspiracy theories
all over the Internet to discredit detractors.
knows that hired Republican trolls prowl progressive websites and
comment sections. It would be very easy for them, posing as liberal
commenters, to begin spreading rumors that were outlandish to most
people, but intriguing to some. The initial conspiracy theories
suggested that pre-planted explosives and cruise missiles were
involved in the destruction of the World Trade Center and the damage
to the Pentagon. All sorts of details were eventually added,
including who had access to the buildings in such a way that the
detonation charges could have been planted, who might have actually
pressed the button to detonate the charges, etc.
recently, the conspiracy theories have turned clearly away from
doubtful yet plausible explanations such as controlled demolition to
the idea that top-secret military molecular dissociation energy
beams were used to deliberately destroy the buildings. In case you
hadn't noticed, this is precisely what phasers from Star Trek were
supposed to do.
I am sure
that many conspiracy theorists are well intentioned progressives,
and are also very sincere, yet I have a very strong feeling that
some small proportion of the 9/11 conspiracy movement includes
planted conservative trolls. That's my conspiracy theory. And it's
just a theory, not a fact. Their purpose would be to discredit all
9/11 conspiracy theories as outlandish. It also helps confuse the
issue, and tarnish the left-wing progressive movement in general
because the movement is composed of people who can not even agree on
simple basic facts such as the fact that there are no such things as
Bush and Dick Cheney had taken the presidential daily brief’s
warnings seriously throughout August 2001, and had implemented
tighter security measures at airports, the disasters of September
11, 2001 could have easily been avoided. I believe that the
conspiracy theory they wanted to distract everyone's attention away
from is the one that seems most plausible. The administration was
looking for a so-called “Pearl Harbor-like event” to galvanize the
country behind a war against Iraq. The news that an attempted
terrorist attack against the United States was imminent, maybe a
small bomb on a Subway train for instance, might have actually been
considered good news to Bush and Company.
a Pearl Harbor-like event beyond their wildest imagination.
the expression on George Bush's face as he sat reading My Pet Goat
to a gradeschool class, and then was told about the second plane
striking the World Trade Center. His expression was completely
consistent with them expecting a small, ineffective attack, and just
like everything else he has ever done, getting it completely wrong.
still the only 9/11 conspiracy theory I have heard that makes any
sense whatsoever, and it is the one I believe they are trying to
distract everyone from with the outlandish ideas being offered by
people like Dr. Wood. Whether Dr. Wood believes these things, or has
other motives, I can not say, but this type of conspiracy theory
divides progressives, and tarnishes them all with an unfairly broad
President, the honor is yours”...
Morning, Do You Know Where Your Nukes Are?
September 23rd, 2007
My colleagues and I went to the NIH the other day to meet with a
doctor who is interested in trying an experimental treatment for a
fatal genetic disorder. Our lab has been developing the treatment
for several years. The meeting was to coordinate efforts to get
rapid FDA approval for testing the treatment on one afflicted baby,
who will die without treatment. What does this story have to do with
nukes? Bear with me.
arrived at the entrance gate to the NIH we had to stop our car at a
checkpoint populated with many armed guards and had to show our IDs,
which indicated that we were from the military university across the
street from the NIH. We were nonetheless ordered out of the car, and
asked the deposit the contents of our pockets into trays before
being herded through not one but two separate metal detector
devices. The car was then searched as we waited. We were allowed to
collect our belongings and given temporary NIH IDs, and then got
back in the car and proceeded slowly down the road into the NIH
stopped again a short while later and had to show the temporary NIH
tags that we were just given. Preceding again into the NIH campus we
got to the building where the meeting was to take place. We were
stopped again and this time the steering wheel of the car was
swabbed and the trunk of the car searched again. Finally, we were
allowed to park the car and go to the meeting.
in bringing all of this up is that security at government and
military facilities in the United States is at an absurdly high
level. Far higher than necessary considering that the NIH is
basically like a university campus, not a military nuclear storage
And yet an
article in the Washington Post today which details how six
nuclear tipped cruise missiles were “accidentally” flown from Minot
air base in North Dakota to Barksdale base in Louisiana chalks the
whole incident up to lax security procedures… at a nuclear storage
official story so far goes like this. Minot air base stores nukes
with non nukes in the same igloo bunkers. The type of cruise
missiles that were being retrieved from the bunker were AGM-129s,
which can only take two types of warhead; nuclear, or dummy nuclear.
The nuke warheads are color coded red, and the dummies color coded
silver. Silver good… red bad.
munitions custodian officer who was in charge of retrieving the
missile pods from the bunker reportedly “did not notice” that 6 of
the missiles had red warheads, and proceeded to move them to the
tarmac for loading onto the wings of an aging B52H bomber. After
loading 6 nukes on one wing, and 6 dummies on the other wing, a
flight officer reportedly only bothered to check the wing that
contained the dummy warheads, and then without looking at the other
group of missiles, cleared the plane for takeoff.
from the rest of the world only by a chain link fence, the plane sat
on the tarmac for 15 hours unguarded, with the unguarded missiles
having the equivalent nuclear destructive power of 60 Hiroshima
bombs. The next day, the nukes were flown to Louisiana in a plane
that was not rated for transportation of nuclear weapons, creating
what nuke experts call a “bent spear” incident, meaning an
unauthorized movement of weapons outside the chain of nuclear
landing at Barksdale air base, the plane and nukes sat unattended
again for 9 hours before the nukes were “noticed” by one airman who
was involved in removing them from the wings. All in all, the nukes
were out of authorized command and control for over a day.
official story of confusion and negligence is very disturbing. If
true, it indicates that our nuclear weapons supply is very poorly
guarded, at a time when military security is supposedly at an all
time high due to be so-called “war on terror”. The other
possibility, that munitions officers and flight crews were ordered
to move the missiles secretly, listed as AGM 129 cruise missiles
with dummy warheads, is even more disturbing. Either way, something
is very wrong here.
does this all have to do with our meeting at the NIH? Security at
the NIH was extremely high, and even though we had ID cards from a
neighboring military university, the guards went through all the
motions. Considering that nuclear weapons were involved at Minot, it
is hard to understand how security there could have been so much
more lax. The question remaining in my mind is, was it simply lax
nuke security, which is terrifying, or was it ordered from higher
up, which is even more terrifying? I wonder if we will ever have an
Oh, and by
the way. The FDA refused our request to try to save the baby with
the fatal genetic disease.
September 19th, 2007
From the beginning, George Bush and friends
have insisted that there was only one plan for Iraq… Plan A.
not even Condi Rice, wanted to speculate about any Plan B.
go over plan A.
invade a beaten, sanction-starved and bombed-out country that
happens to be sitting on the third largest oil reserve in the world,
and then grab the oil fields, while letting everything else descend
happens” says Don Rumsfeld.
disband the Iraqi army and the police force, who might have been
able to keep law and order in the chaotic situation, and then
institute CPA order #17 which states that US military personnel and
contractors can not be prosecuted under Iraqi law for crimes they
the previous leader over to a gang of thugs who hang him, and then
start a multi-year occupation of the country, using strong-arm
tactics on the population, and causing untold “collateral damage”.
As things get worse, continue to occupy the country without end,
killing tens of thousands of Iraqis, many being innocent bystanders
caught in the crossfire.
maintain the conditions for mass sectarian killings, low grade civil
war, mass refugee movements, and further chaos everywhere. Let the
local militias do whatever they want in their areas of influence.
the American public on the TV that a continued heavy-handed military
occupation of Iraq is essential to quell the same violence caused by
the invasion and draconian occupation of Iraq. Tell the American
people with a straight face that leaving Iraq will result in the
very same problems that invading Iraq caused.
oil-rich country into cauldron of death so that you have an excuse
to stay there forever with your military. Cause all the death and
destruction, and then warn that the obvious solution - ending the
military occupation - will make the chaos you caused worse. This is
akin to stepping on a hornets nest, but then refusing to back away
from the swarm of stinging hornets because moving away will make the
hornets angrier… “they might follow you home”.
have made a total mess of Iraq, and allowed sectarian killing and
mass displacement to go unchecked for years, then you could threaten
to repeat the entire process in Iran to ensure you have an endless
excuse to keep your military in the region… right near the oil.
someone asks you, “why would they consider something so crazy as
bombing Iran?” You can reply “Plan A friend, Plan A”.
||Paranoia Are Us
September 5th, 2007
I have always wondered why so many Americans seem so completely
disconnected from the political process, despite the fact that what
politicians do can drastically affect their everyday lives. Laws
that are passed determine your country’s direction, the wars we
fight, your taxes, your freedoms and your family’s benefits as
members of our society.
level, this disconnection from the political process is not unlike
children ignoring their siblings, hoping they will go away and let
them play the videogame. But your siblings dramatically affect your
life as you grow up, and politicians dramatically affect your life,
and your family’s wellbeing, every single day.
inquired among friends, both those vocal about politics, and those
quiet on the subject, and rarely do I get any meaningful answers as
to why they do not contact their congressperson or Senators about
what is going on in our country right now. However, yesterday a good
friend who is often vocal about politics, but who never contacts
their representatives, admitted that he never contacts
representatives or write newspapers because he did not want to be on
some list with the FBI or NSA.
me to thinking in more detail about the age-old question of the
government utilizing fear and paranoia to silence any opposition
among the citizenry. Clearly, many Americans now fear their
government sufficiently to remain silent.
back to pre-Kristallnacht Germany and the silence of the many, this
is an ominous sign.
I do not
know what can be done to rouse the courage of citizens, who rightly
fear their government now, to make their voices heard by their
I do know
that widespread fear-induced complacency is a sign of a serious
reasons for silent Americans to take heart, and to finally speak
out. First, there is safety in numbers. There are too many strong
voices at play in America now, on the Internet, on the radio with
hosts like Randi Rhodes and Thom Hartmann, and with journalists like
Keith Olbermann, even on TV. It isn't possible at this point for the
fear mongers to put the genie back in the bottle.
fear mongers are losing control. Their fear tonic is slowly losing
its potency as they cry wolf far too often, and then point their
fingers at sheep and cry wolf again.
the fear mongers organizational structure is breaking down. Between
the pending court cases, congressional investigations, resignations
right and further right, and in-fighting among the fear mongers as
to how to maintain control, their ability to play the fear card is
diminished further with every passing day.
many other reasons why Americans are disconnected from politics and
their government, from pure apathy, to ignorance to just being too
damn busy. But a significant proportion of silent Americans are
afraid of their government, and don’t want don’t want to be put on
have thought that your voice is not important, and that the
politicians don't care, and if you have worried that writing
Congress will put you on a list that you do not want to be on, but
you nonetheless still have hope that America can be turned around,
then do the right thing and tell your congressional representatives
how you feel. Write them, call them, stop by their office, whatever
you feel you can do.
As I have
said before, the silent wheel gets the shaft. Don’t be a silent
partner to some possible future American Kristallnacht. Become a
squeaky wheel and help take your country back from the fear mongers.
||Hey GI Joe, What
You Doing With That Gun in Your Hand?
August 16th, 2007
Bush, Cheney and Rove say that the army supports the war in Iraq,
and that our soldiers are getting all they need. But one statistic
you won’t hear out of George Bush, Dick Cheney or Karl Rove’s mouth
is that the active duty soldier suicide rate has reached a 26 year
statistics they won’t want you to know include that 20 % of our
soldiers have symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder, and that
more than 1 in 3 returning soldiers have sought mental health
findings, while possibly shocking to George A’W’OL Bush, will not be
surprising to psychiatrists or mental health professionals, who
understand that long term military occupations in the midst of
insurgencies inevitably cause extreme stress, depression, and even
suicide among the over-extended troops.
administration continues to declare that they have strong support
for the Iraq war among our troops overseas, but the statistics tell
another story. Suicide and PTSD rates don’t reach multi-decade highs
when the troops are doing well, and when they support the
government’s policies. They reach such highs when troops are
demoralized, and see no end in sight - no hope on the horizon.
most obvious solutions to the problem are 1) Bring the troops home
now, and 2) triple funding for the Veterans administration, and hire
on many more health care professionals.
things will not happen until George Bush is either impeached, or if
the troops are very unfortunate indeed, in early 2009 after Bush is
put out to pasture in Crawford. How he will then live with his
conscience, if he has one, is another matter altogether.
||Ronald Reagan said
“Government IS the problem”
August 4th, 2007
Twenty five years later, I’ll turn it around
for the sake of historical symmetry.
business IS the problem.
think tanks, corporate leaders, media moguls and rich Republicans in
the government have long been working together to grease the wheels
of industry, but before they can fully realize that goal, they first
need to finish the job of demonizing, hobbling, de-funding,
disparaging and finally using the very power of the government to
eliminate government functions, oversight and prosecutions.
nearly accomplished what they set out to do. From the Justice
Department to the courts, and FEMA, FDA, and all other agencies, the
US Government is dying.
records indicate that perhaps as many as 80,000 bridges in America
are rated structurally marginal or poor. The electrical, phone,
water, sewage, highway, port, railway, airport, education and even
industrial infrastructures of this country are aging, and in many
cases could be considered marginal, or poor. That includes not just
decrepit bridges you may drive on every day, but also deteriorating
nuclear power plants, octogenarian skyscrapers in earthquake zones,
suspect water treatment systems, the pothole-ridden roads you drive
on, the sub-standard levees in places like New Orleans, and the
laughing stock power grid that fails everywhere on a regular basis.
collapse in Minneapolis is already being used by corporate America
to push for privatization of the highway system. Just imagine toll
roads everywhere, roads that will become even more decrepit over
time in order to ensure maximal profits. Corporate reps ask
defiantly, “why shouldn’t somebody make money on it?”
government is always sluggish to do what is right, and what is
necessary, but eventually, critical things often eventually get
done, even though they may be a more than “a dollar long and a day
late”. But ever since half of the American electorate, with the help
of the Supreme Court, put government-hating businessmen in charge of
everything for the last six years, the national infrastructure,
public health, education and even our troops have been far more
neglected than usual.
neglect is not negligent, it is planned. Corporatists have
endeavored for years to make everyone hate all politicians, hate the
government and hate everything associated with them. As you can
tell, the plan is working.
complete and permanent marriage of government and corporations in
America is not an inevitable fate. Government in America can be what
the people make of it… if they work hard enough. It took blood
during the Revolutionary war, and the reign of the Pinkertons in the
Gilded Age, but it will only take organization and perseverance now
if the people can unite against the Corporateocracy.
uniting part is hard. Very hard.
business IS the problem. Until we return to the ancient and now
quaint Aristotelian idea that the purpose of business craft is to
excel at what they do, to serve their customers, make a fair profit,
and to be a productive part of the community, we will be the victims
of a perverted system that puts quarterly profits and shareholders
above everything else, including the quality of life, and indeed,
above life itself.
that progressive organizations coordinate rolling “buy boycotts” for
various goods and services targeted at the large corporations that
are part of the problem. This would focus initially on corporate
media, and their advertisers. It would have to include letter
writing and phone call campaigns to make our intentions
unmistakable. It could move to energy companies and other sectors
that have a stranglehold on our government, media and society.
only work if progressives were willing to do the hard work
necessary. If most progressives are too busy, and would rather not
be bothered, then there is no chance that this could work. It would
be both difficult, and time-consuming. But if you want to do
something, I suggest that you pick your favorite progressive
organization, join it, and work to coordinate with other
organizations, local and nationwide, to plan and execute consecutive
and effective boycotts. If this became a national news story due to
the persuasive effects on businesses, it could help shift the debate
and the political center of gravity to the left, and away from
said before, money doesn’t talk, it screams bloody murder. We’ve got
to use our collective buying power as consumers to scream bloody
murder. If you’re mad as hell, and don’t want to take it anymore,
there is no better way to express it than what you do with your
money. And besides, money is the only thing that the corporatocracy
Republican Spending Priorities Part II
August 2nd, 2007
As I was getting ready to write about how the Republicans have let
the country’s infrastructure collapse, just like the 8-lane
Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis collapsed yesterday at rush
hour, I saw Stephen Crocket’s
article on misplaced Republican spending. This got me all riled
up about wasted lives and wasted money again.
difficult to pick apart the US budget in an itemized fashion, but it
is undeniable that the US is spending a massive amount of taxpayers
money on the military and secret programs… money that many Americans
would most likely prefer to be spent other ways. Estimates of how
much the US spends per year on the military, “homeland” security,
intelligence agencies and secret projects (like the terrorist
surveillance program) can not be accurate, because these figures are
not fully public. But the number is between $700 billion and a
trillion dollars (1000 billion dollars) per year.
this with somewhere around $28 or so billion for The national
Institutes of Health. That means that we spend about 30 times as
much money on our military industrial complex as we do on biomedical
research into potentially curable diseases.
Norman Schwarzkopf once said… if hundreds of thousands of Americans
died in a foreign attack, we would mobilize the entire country to
fight back. He then said that is exactly what happens every year
when hundreds of thousands of people die unnecessarily every year
from potentially curable diseases. But instead of putting more money
into research, we put it into the military industrial complex.
dollar, spending money on NIH saves many more lives than military
spending, which actually takes lives, rather than saving them. There
is no threat to the US now that is going to take even as many lives
as are lost from a single type of cancer, let’s say breast cancer
(about 40,000 per year).
Americans still have a love affair with the military, as though it
were something romantic and majestic, rather than something
destructive and harmful, even to the soldiers who serve. Biomedical
research just doesn’t have that ability to capture people’s
imaginations. But it is one of the most important things we can do
with our tax dollars.
horrific collapse of the Interstate Highway bridge in Minneapolis
yesterday highlights the other major victim of our perverse military
spending. The infrastructure of the country is crumbling, but we are
trying to rebuild Iraq, rather than rebuilding America. The steam
pipe explosion in Manhattan, the power blackouts, the repetitive
explosions and fires at oil refineries all are symptoms of an aging
infrastructure that needs immediate attention.
long as we occupy Iraq, we will be spending money that we don’t even
have, money that we must borrow from foreign banks and will have to
repay with interest, to keep the oil fields of Iraq in US hands.
That money should be spent here in the US, on biomedical research,
infrastructure, education and to meet other critical needs right
here at home. By the way, we spend about 10 times as much to finance
the debt every year as we spend on NIH research, just to put the
debt in perspective.
honest, you shouldn’t write congress about this right now. Right now
we need to push for investigations and impeachments, and to get out
of Iraq immediately, so unfortunately, these other critical issues
need to go on the back burner for now. Just keep in mind that your
family members will most likely die prematurely from a potentially
curable disease like cancer or heart disease, not from a terrorist
July 31st, 2007
Speaking of the September 11th 2001
attacks Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska said, “This is
the second Pearl Harbor. I don't think that I overstate it,".
administration and it’s supporters wanted Americans to be afraid,
cooperative and compliant. That is still what they want.
been quite of bit of discussion lately about Bush and Cheney
declaring martial law and canceling the 2008 election. I personally
don’t think they could pull it off, but the bits and pieces of
information that have come out certainly makes the suggestion seem
to have some merit. Many of these have been outlined is a recent
article by Harvey Wasserman & Bob Fitrakis.
the evidence that points toward a non-electoral power grab:
“Unitary Executive theory”, Bush has issued many signing statements
that preclude him and his administration from being bound by
legislation passed by Congress.
particularly worrisome directive is National Security
Presidential Directive 51, which states in part: "Enduring
Constitutional Government," or "ECG," means a cooperative effort
among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the
Federal Government, coordinated by the President… to execute
constitutional responsibilities and provide for orderly succession,
appropriate transition of leadership, and interoperability and
support of the National Essential Functions during a catastrophic
clearly states that the President can declare an emergency, and then
do what he deems necessary to “…provide for orderly succession,
[and] appropriate transition of leadership…” That pertains
directly to succession of power… for example, during elections.
awarding of a $385 million contract over five years to Kellogg,
Brown and Root (KBR), a subsidiary of defense contractor
build internment camps in the US to deal with a possible future
“immigration emergency”, or in the case of a “national emergency”
could be used to house “relief workers”.
domestic spying program which bypasses the FISA court could most
certainly be used to follow the activities of citizens who would try
to organize to stop any Bush power grab.
ability to declare almost anyone an “enemy combatant” which then
precludes them from exercising their habeus corpus rights is also
troubling in this regard.
many other facts that are also troubling, but there is one thing
that is critical, which is missing from the proposed scenarios.
“Pearl Harbor Type Event”.
see increased illegal immigration, or progressive’s protesting in
the streets, or any of the normal things that happen in the country
every day would provide the cover they would need to pull off a
non-electoral power grab. That leaves another large terrorist
attack, or other national emergency, to present itself at just the
right time. Bush can’t count on bin Laden for this one.
and FEMA apparently don’t consider a category 4 hurricane destroying
a major US city as a national emergency, I think we can safely say
it would have to be a massive “terrorist attack”, in order to be
elevated to an election-canceling event.
has no current incentive to attack the US, because it would give
Bush more power and prestige. So if Bush and Cheney can’t count on
terrorists to give them the excuse they need, they will have to come
up with an excuse of their own.
personally am not much of a conspiracy theorist. However, if you are
then you need to round out this coup plot to make it believable and
workable. You also need all the pieces of the puzzle in place if you
are going to try and thwart the plan. As such, you will need to try
to determine based on their actions and public statements what type
of third Pearl Harbor event they might be planning.
possibilities come to my mind that could scare everybody to death
without causing loss of life, including for example an explosion at
an aging nuclear power plant. If done properly, the reactor could be
shut down safely without loss of significant radiation, but if the
incident were blamed on terrorists it would still provide the
requisite emergency and public panic.
plausible theory that involves the implementation of presidential
executive order 51 and the use of internment camps to deal with the
rabble requires the so-called third Pearl Harbor type event. If such
an event occurs in the next 15 months, I may be forced to join the
ranks of the conspiracy theorists.
||Want to Fight Back
Against the Right Wing Noise Machine?
July 28th, 2007
Last week O’Reilly made a pitiful attempt to
undercut funding for the Yearly KOS meeting by trying to get Jet
Blue to pull support. O’Reilly said that the Daily KOS was a “hate
site”. His miniscule attempt pretty much fizzled, but O’Reilly
nonetheless claimed total victory because Jet Blue asked for their
logo to be removed from the list of sponsors.
KOS and other progressive web sites are turning the tables on Bill
O’Reilly and asking their readers to flood his advertisers with
complaints about the hateful nature of his broadcasts.
Two of the
advertisers for O’Reilly’s show are Lowes and Home Depot. Lowes
appears to have received enough calls to pull ads from O’Reilly’s
show (they may have actually pulled them back in January), and now
the focus may be turning to
If you are
tired of writing your representatives in Congress and getting form
letters in return, now is your chance to do something that will have
a real effect. Nothing sends conservatives running for the hills
like a threat to their revenue streams. Money screams, so let your
money do the work for you by shopping elsewhere, and by telling Home
Depot that you are doing so because they advertise on a “hate show”
called the O’Reilly Factor, which airs on “Fox News”.
is going to go crazy if that all-powerful “hate site”, the Daily
KOS, with our help and the help of other progressive sites, can
actually convince more advertisers to pull support for his lying
1-800-430-3376 to speak directly with a Customer Care specialist
about your comment or complaint, or email the
Progressives: Organize or Squabble, Which Is It?
July 26th, 2007
There is an enormous chasm forming among
liberals, progressives, and leftists, and the reason why is obvious.
perusal of the comments sections on many recent articles at
demonstrates that traditional Democrats and more progressive or
liberal leaning activists are no longer in agreement about the way
forward for the United States. The primary reason for the lack of
coherence in the movement to undo what Bush Co. have done can be
laid squarely at the feet of the Democrats in Congress. They're
hesitance to move forward with articles of impeachment have
infuriated the left.
obvious fact has apparently still not sunken in with the myopic
congressional Democrats. They think that Bush Co. will destroy
itself without any help from them. Yet history shows that the
electorate rewards strong words followed by strong actions, and
rejects weakness and capitulation when important principles are at
also a history lesson that progressive activists should consider
taking home as well. That lesson is that the Republican Party got
where it did by holding together a tenuous coalition of completely
disparate political groups including evangelicals, libertarians,
corporate CEOs, and redneck Joe six-packs. These people not only
have nothing in common, they would probably kill each other if
locked in the same room for several hours.
feel that Democrats and progressives/liberals/leftists have far more
in common than the Republican Party's factions do. What they don't
have is organization. Instead we have many disorganized political
and issue groups.
Republican Party has never been in more disarray in my lifetime.
This is the best opportunity that liberals and progressives have had
in recent memory to crush the corporate controlled power structure
that the Republicans have built up since the 1980s. But it is not
going to happen if Democrats, liberals, progressives, and leftists
spend as much time as they have been squabbling with each other
rather than organizing and moving forward.
astounded at how much disarray the left is displaying now. If we
can’t rally at times of such threat to our democracy, and instead
argue back and forth about how we need a third party, then we will
never take back the country. The Republicans didn’t take control by
squabbling, they took control by organizing.
really are interested in taking the country back from the corporate
puppet masters, then I urge that we start organizing far better than
we have to date. If liberals and progressives organize well enough
and early enough in the election process, they can shift the debate,
and even make a huge difference as to which candidate we nominate to
run for president. Don't like Hillary Clinton? Then organize to help
Dennis Kucinich get the nomination. I’m with you. Don’t like
corporate-loving Democrats? Then work to nominate someone who does
not have such strong corporate ties. Think a third party candidate
can win? Then you’d better start organizing right now, rather than
would like to see in response to this post is a series of
suggestions for improving organization, and a list of candidates and
issues that we can support. If a majority of responses are about how
Democrats have failed us, with no suggestions for actually fixing
the situation offered, then I’m afraid that we are doomed to more of
||When Comity Turns
to Tragic Comedy
July 23rd, 2007
The Democrats in Congress have a lower approval rating than George
Bush despite the fact that the Democrats have not broken any laws,
tortured any prisoners, or stripped away the rights of any citizens.
The reason is not too surprising - the Democrats were elected by a
majority of Americans to investigate the reasons for going to war,
and to begin undoing the mess that Bush and Cheney have put us in.
But so far, the Democrats in Congress have resisted doing the hard
things that are necessary to hold the administration accountable for
What are the major reasons for the Democrats reticence?
The first is money. The Democrats are just as dependent on donations
from large corporations whose lobbyists are swarming Washington like
locust in a wheat field. Many of these corporations are defense
manufacturers and contractors, and they are not about to let
Democrats spoil their military contract gravy train. Even liberal
Democrats like Ted Kennedy are putting multi-million dollar earmarks
into bills to keep the money flowing to their donors. If the
Democrats push an anti-war agenda too hard, they will lose all
monetary support from the defense industry.
But that doesn’t explain the lack of investigations aimed at
possible impeachment charges against Cheney and Bush. Theoretically,
they could pursue impeachment while still funding the military, thus
not jeopardizing their friendly connections to the military
I believe that the primary reasons for the lack of impeachment
proceedings are a combination of concern about being perceived as
too partisan (Hatfield/McCoy syndrome), and the fact that Democrats
are still caught in the archaic Congressional mental trap known as
“comity”. Comity is the notion, long ago abandoned by Republicans,
that doing the people’s business was a cooperative effort requiring
civility, and respect for other’s points of view. Indeed, the
Republicans long ago abandoned all comity, and all decency in their
interactions with Democrats in Congress, so it is a tad quaint that
the Democrats are still locked in a 1950’s mindset where they think
the Republicans will play fair, and respect the Democrat’s input.
They don’t, and they won’t.
Democrats need to wake up, and realize that the Republicans will
always play hard ball, and will do anything to pass their preferred
legislation, while blocking the Democrats efforts by any means at
their disposal. If Democrats intimate they might filibuster a
terrible, partisan Supreme Court nominee, the Republicans bring up
the “nuclear option” of eliminating all filibusters permanently. As
soon as the Democrats suggest they might set a timetable for
withdrawal of troops from Iraq, the Republicans immediately rush to
filibuster. No shame, no honesty, no decency, and certainly no
At this point the Democrat’s comity is becoming more like a tragic
comedy than bipartisanship. Call your congressperson immediately and
urge them to support HR 333, which is Dennis Kucinich’s bill to
begin impeachment proceedings against Dick Cheney. Representative
John Conyers has said if he gets three more co-signatures on HR 333
he will bring it before the House. It does not guarantee it will go
forward or that it will get enough votes, but it needs to be done as
soon as possible. While you're at it, urge your congressperson to
invoke “inherent contempt” charges against Harriet Miers and bring
her before the Congress to testify.
It's high time that the Democrats stop slathering comity all over
the Republicans when they only get black eyes in return. Comity
Schmomity… it's time for a bare knuckles fight.
||Why Liberals are
More Dangerous than Terrorists
July 17th, 2007
Think about it. Terrorists are an absolute
necessity for furthering the Bush regime’s plans. Without
terrorists, they could not justify Afghanistan, Iraq, torture,
illegal spying on US citizens, stripping away habeus corpus rights,
Guantanamo, outing Valerie Plame, or any of the other debacles they
have foisted upon America and the world.
only one thing standing it their way, preventing them from doing
whatever they think will bring them more power and wealth.
absence of a functioning media to inform the public, liberals and
progressives are the only thing standing in the way of a complete
power grab by the neo-cons. This makes them far more dangerous than
the terrorists are a necessary part of their plans, so terrorists
must not be brought to justice (think Osama Bin Forgotten).
liberals threaten to bring back fiscal responsibility, including
higher taxes on the wealthy, which is akin to a “war on wealth”,
according to Kudlow the Crackpot on CNBC.
threaten their plans to dismantle government, deregulate business,
wage endless and highly profitable wars, and control the strings of
power in perpetuity. Terrorists aren’t a threat, they are a critical
tool… a prop… a crutch.
on the other hand, are the most dangerous thing in the world.
||Welcome to the New
July 15th, 2007
The New York Times has a must-read
article on its front page today for all of you working folk who
have been patiently waiting for manna from heaven. The article
describes how we have entered a new Gilded Age where government
becomes irrelevant, and the philanthropy of the super-rich will take
care of the teeming masses. Indeed, the Times states that the
super-rich are proud of the role they are playing in the new Gilded
Age, creating vast wealth which they can someday trickle down upon
the rest of us.
And who, in its
inestimable wisdom, has the Times credited with helping usher in the
new Gilded Age? Was it that old stalwart of conservatism, Ronald
Reagan? No, in fact they credit Bill Clinton, the president who
never missed a chance to deregulate big business, as a principal
architect of the new gilded age. Mr. Clinton was the president who
revoked the 2nd “Glass-Steagall Act” in 1999,
legislation which was enacted in 1933 after the great depression.
This legislation prohibited banks from being involved in both
commercial and investment banking, and set up the Federal Deposit
Insurance Company to insure customer deposits.
Elimination of this
prohibition, along with a relaxation of anti-trust scrutiny,
permitted American banks to merge and move into multiple sectors
without regulation. This repeal is credited, in part, for letting
the good times roll. The Times notes that not all economists are
on-board with the repeal, and the deregulation. Arthur Levitt Jr., a
former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, has
publicly lamented the end of Glass-Steagall. Mr. Levitt was quoted
as saying, “I view a gilded age as an age in which warning flags are
flying and are seen by very few people,” referring to the potential
for a Wall Street firm to fail or markets to crash in a world of too
much deregulation. “I think this is a time of great prosperity and a
time of great danger.”
Talk about raining on the
parade! Mr. Levitt obviously needs to get with the program.
Corporate CEOs are now worth hundreds of millions, or billions of
dollars, and they swear they are not going to take it with them.
Honest. They are all going to become philanthropists and give it
back to the little people who toiled under them for so long.
Considering that many of these guys are already in their 40s or 50s,
and some even in their 60s, we only have a few more decades to wait
before all the trickling down begins.
In the meantime, we can
revel in their continuing generosity as they, for example, refurbish
Carnegie Hall. It was getting so run down after all. There is
nothing worse than going to the opera in a rundown theater!
Note to teeming masses:
get out the popcorn and plop down in front of the tube. It won't be
long now before the new Gilded Age culminates, and then rains riches
down upon your head, like manna from heaven. Oh lucky you.
July 11th, 2007
When Donald Rumsfeld set about to “modernize”
and reduce the size of the US military, he was actually working to
more fully privatize and monetize the US military. As taxpayers,
what we get is less bang for the buck, literally.
costs of the Iraq war are well over 442 billion dollars to date, and
this figure does not include veterans care or benefits, lifetime
medical costs for seriously inured and maimed troops, mental health
care, re-equipping the military and repairing damaged equipment, the
construction and maintenance of massive, permanent military
complexes all over Iraq, and unaccountable future “blowback costs”
associated with increased anti-US violence and terrorism. It also
does not include hidden costs (black ops, covert initiatives, bribes
to foreign officials, etc.), of which we know little or nothing
other than they are certainly adding significantly to the overall
costs of the occupation of Iraq.
these huge costs, our military remains under-equipped, under-trained
and over-extended. How could this be the case with the United States
military - the largest, most far-reaching and expensive military
system ever assembled in the history of the world? How is it that
military families have to organize local bake sales to raise enough
money to get flack-jackets, helmet liners and even air conditioners
to their sons and daughters serving in Iraq and Afghanistan? How
could it be that our military personnel have to rummage through
dumps to find additional armor to bolt to their humvees?
the another in a long line of neo-con con-jobs on the American
people. The US spends more taxpayer dollars on the military than all
other nations combined, but where does all that money go? Powerful
people are getting very rich on the war and occupation at both the
troop’s, and taxpayer’s expense.
Chicken-Hawk Military Formula: Declare that “Democrats want to cut
and run”, then say “the President supports the troops”, and then cut
veterans benefits and leave the troops in harm’s way without an
occupation strategy or an exit strategy. Don’t forget to save money
by under-equipping the troops so you can hire a hundred and thirty
thousand expensive contractors to do military jobs. Halliburton’s
profits are through the roof. The military industrial complex is
loving this war.
neo-cons will keep attacking the Democrats for “not supporting the
troops” if they try to cut off the Halliburton gravy train, while
all the time stifling military concerns about over-deployments,
under-equipment, and the unaccountability of military contractors
who are creating enemies in Iraq much faster than we can deal with
of the matter is that Iraq is the most “for-profit” war that the US
has ever engaged in, and it was accomplished with the foreknowledge
and direct complicity of the members of the Cheney secret energy
task force (the oil companies, and major military suppliers).
However, the Iraqi government, as weak and compliant as they are,
have so far refused to pass the oil-sharing legislation handed to
them by Cheney. This puts a bit of a monkey wrench into Cheney’s
plans for unfettered access to, and enormous profits from Iraqi oil.
But nonetheless, the profits continue to pour into Halliburton, and
all the other military contractors.
reason that our troops are under-equipped and over-deployed is
shift the US military from a government run operation into a
private, for-profit organization, you will end up short-changing the
troops in order to boost the bottom line. It’s the same logic as
when you privatize schools, FEMA, health care, or any other critical
government function. The profit motive bleeds the system until it no
longer functions properly, while costs skyrocket. Profits soar as
functionality and accountability decline.
If we are
going to use corporate metaphors to frame the issue, then We the
People constitute millions of board members and investors for our
government. We pay the taxes that make the system run, and we decide
who the next chairman of the board is.
It is high
time that We the Board Members of the United States government push
to fire the CEO, and his CFO, Dick Cheney, and take the country back
from the huge multinational corporations. It is time to stop
spending our national treasure on foreign wars, and instead use it
to rebuild our schools and the national infrastructure. We need to
keep constant pressure on the Congress to end the Iraq war, and to
de-privatize our military. We need to de-privatize the entire
government. In a nutshell, we need to rapidly undo the neo-con
con-job of monetizing our government for the benefit of a small
handful of corporate executives. It is time to end the Bush/Cheney
corporatocracy. Maybe then, military family bake sales will become a
thing of the past.
||Darwin Strikes Back
(Of Molecules and Men)
June 30th, 2007
Proponents of Intelligent Design have used the
notion of irreducible complexity to bludgeon evolution theory by
insisting that complex biological structures ranging from the human
eye to the bacterial flagellum could not have evolved in stages
because none of the intermediate versions would have functioned
properly. They have never offered evidence for this notion of
irreducible biological complexity, they simply declare it by fiat as
an inescapable logical conclusion. Unfortunately for Intelligent
Design, scientists are striking back and providing detailed evidence
about the evolution of complex biological structures.
Intelligent design advocates chose poorly when they selected the
compound eye of vertebrates as one example of a complex biological
structure that could not have evolved in stages. Even first-year
biology students know about eye spots in planarians which are simple
pigment patches at the front of the worm that are connected to their
simple nervous system. They can only sense light versus dark, but
that is enough for them to get by as planarians. There are many
intermediate forms of eyes in the animal kingdom ranging from simple
pits in the skin lined with receptor cells, all the way up to the
compound eyes of animals with their cornea and lens arrangement.
Fossils of trilobites that are over 500 million years old show they
possessed eyes very similar to those of modern day insects. Our
complex eyes clearly evolved from the simpler eyes in ancestral
species, and the presence of the critical light-receptive pigment
called “opsin” in all animals highlights this shared ancestry. The
same molecule is used to sense light in worms, jellyfish, eagles and
about the evolution of complex molecular structures, such as
Intelligent Design’s perennial favorite, the bacterial flagellum?
For details on how the flagellum most likely evolved stepwise from a
bacterial secretory system, see this excellent
are increasingly using genetics and molecular biology to dissect
probable evolutionary steps in the formation of various molecular
devices in animals, and one such
recent study by Ken Kosik and colleagues has looked at cellular
junctions in certain species of sponges.
sponges really are primitive animals, not just absorbent kitchen
cleaning items. Sponges are among the simplest of multicellular
animals, and they lack internal organs, including a nervous system.
However, the mobile larval form of a species of sponge which has
been studied extensively has been found to possess the majority of
genes for making a critical part of neural synapses, even though the
sponge larvae do not even have nerve cells. Instead, they have cells
called flask cells.
cells of these larval sponges have many features of primitive
sensory cells, including a cilia and secretory vesicles. Despite the
fact that the larva have no nervous system, they nonetheless possess
approximately 70% of the genes required to make the complex
structure of neural synapses known as the “postsynaptic density” (PSD).
PSD’s are the receptive part of a synapse which receives signals in
the form of neurotransmitters released by other nerve cells. So if
these sponges don’t have a nervous system, why would their larvae
need so many genes associated with synapses?
is that they appear to be using these genes to make signaling
structures that are distantly related to neural synapses in animals.
The genes associated with PSD’s in the sponges show a remarkable
similarity to the related genes in animals that possess nervous
systems, including the structural elements that hold the molecules
into a functional array. The authors note that these proto-synaptic
structures are not only likely candidates for the evolutionary
stepping stones to synaptic contacts between neurons, they may
represent prototypical cellular junctions in general which could
have led to the development of many specialized junctions between
cells found in later-evolving animals.
home message from such studies is that the same genes and molecules
are used over and over again by different animals to perform many
different functions, and that these simple building blocks can be
mixed and matched in differing ways to produce increasingly complex
molecular devices and organ systems. This derived complexity in no
way undermines the notion of evolution, it fortifies the theory
immensely. Rather than being another gap in human knowledge about
evolution, molecular biology is demonstrating how very complex
biological structures can evolve from simpler systems by making use
of modular units that can be combined in many different ways, with
each change making the system function more robustly. Eye spots are
just fine for worms, but not for eagles, and yet the 550 million
years of evolution between them provided innumerable opportunities
for step by step improvements in vision.
Intelligent Design proponents don’t provide us with scientific data,
they provide us with uninformed commentary and conjecture. Their
arguments may work well with the uneducated public, but they are not
based on scientific facts. The main underpinning of their arguments
rests entirely on the concept of irreducible complexity. But Darwin
is striking back with scientific data that shows how life is like a
self-assembling Lego set, mixing and matching simple building blocks
to make increasingly complex structures. When Darwin strikes back,
he does so with great vigor and eloquence.
||More US Personnel
Killed in Iraq than Reported
June 16th, 2007
Because of their abuse and extreme overuse and
over-extension of our military troops in Iraq, the Bush
administration has been forced to rely more and more on private
contractors to fill various roles in Iraq that were previously
restricted to military personnel. These private contractors are
being drawn into conflicts on a daily basis, essentially making them
paid military mercenaries. They operate outside of US and Iraqi law,
and they are being killed and wounded in a private war that has gone
mostly unreported in the US press.
Washington Post reported that the number of
contractors/mercenaries that have been killed and wounded has gone
that contractors have been “…taking hundreds of casualties that have
been underreported and sometimes concealed, according to U.S. and
Iraqi officials and company representatives.”
military has never released complete statistics on contractor
casualties or the number of attacks on privately guarded convoys.
The military deleted casualty figures from reports…”…the military
wanted to hide information showing that private guards were fighting
and dying in large numbers because it would be perceived as bad
list alone that included only a small portion of the total
contractor force, 132 security contractors and truck drivers had
been killed, and 416 had been wounded since the Fall of 2004.
particularly terrible incident was described in the Washington Post
article this way: “On May 8, 2005, after dropping off a load that
included T-shirts, plastic whistles and 250,000 rounds of ammunition
for Iraqi police, one of Holly's convoys was attacked. Of 20
security contractors and truck drivers, 13 were killed or listed as
missing; five of the seven survivors were wounded. Insurgents
booby-trapped four of the bodies. To eliminate the threat, a
military recovery team fired a tank round into a pile of [US]
corpses, according to an after-action report.”
shifts in US policy mean that the United States is privatizing its
military on a massive scale. Among the troubling aspects of this
trend is that private contractors operate outside military law, and
outside of Iraqi law, and are not accountable to anyone except for
their employers. Further, deploying as many as 100,000 contractors
in Iraq is costing US taxpayers up to 10 times more than it would
cost to deploy the same number of military troops. Finally, there is
the fact that both contractors and Iraqis are being killed in large
numbers beyond the sight of the press and the American people.
will only continue under Bush, because of the massive corporate
profits being realized by “security” and “supply” companies, and in
fact this may be the blueprint for the Bush/Cheney remaking of the
entire US military into a substantially privatized “for profit”
The US is
building dozens of permanent military bases in Iraq, and is planning
up to two dozen more spread across Africa “to fight global
terrorism”. Obviously, Bush and Cheney want a vastly expanded
military presence throughout the world, and it will be a presence of
a highly privatized nature.
Senators and Representative, and tell them that you not only want
the war in Iraq ended now, but that you want our military to return
to a defensive military posture, one that does not include private
contractors. Privatizing military functions can even put military
troops in greater danger, because profit motives can outweigh safety
procedures. If these companies were not making huge profits, they
would never even consider sending their employees into harms way.
But money talks… no, it screams bloody murder.
June 5th, 2007
No, I’m not talking about those rhetorical bombs lobbed by
chicken-hawk Republicans at the Democrats who want to bring the
troops home, I’m talking about the progressives, liberals and
democrats that have already thrown up their arms in disgust, and
given up after the passage of the supplementary Iraq funding bill.
listened carefully to both sides of the arguments that have played
out across the internet and mainstream media. I have heard how
disgusted anti-war activists are at the passage of the supplemental
funding bill, and I have listened to the Democratic candidates
excuses for passing the bill at the recent CNN debate. Joe Biden
made the case for passage (not enough votes until we have a
democratic president), and Mike Gravel and John Edwards chastising
the others for their compliance with Bush on war funding.
all heard both arguments, and most of us probably find neither
Let me try
to put the frustration into perspective. If you were Karl Rove
planning on how to divide and conquer the resurging Democratic
party, what would you do? You would use the frustration over the
passage of the Iraq funding bill to divide democrats and
even have your minions, posing as liberals, post comments at
progressive web sites saying that they are tried-and-true
progressives that have “given up on the democrats”. Hopefully, they
would get other progressives to agree, and chime in.
It is the
same old story of trying to reduce the progressive and democratic
turnout in the next election. These are the common canards:
politicians are the same”
didn’t stand on principle”
them in power, and they let us down”
heard them all. But all the complaining doesn’t get us anywhere, and
it doesn’t fix the massive number of problems confronting our
progressives fragment this easily, on losing one vote, even on the
biggest issue facing us, then we are in big trouble. We have to be
more resilient than that. You can’t ignore the congressional
investigations that have finally begun after 6 years of Republican
rubber stamps, and you can’t expect the Democrats to fix 6 years of
malfeasance, plunder and deceit in 6 months.
me wrong, I don’t think the Democrats are faultless, far from it.
But if you want honest, concerned politicians running this country,
you’re going to have to work harder to change the system, and get
money out of the picture. That’s not just the next chapter, that’s a
whole different story.
let me say that I am looking at this with both principle, and
strategy, in mind. Both converge at the same point, which is that
Democrats and progressives need to come together and redouble their
efforts. If you try to form a third party now (Green Party al la
2000) you will divide the vote, and lose the election. Let’s worry
about third and fourth parties after we take our country back.
don’t need now is for progressives to curse, declare failure, and
take our ball home. Think of what Karl Rove would want… and do the
May 21st, 2007
Was our government complicit in the 9/11 attacks?
file linked to below is from Skeptics Magazine earlier this spring.
It goes over all of the evidence in great detail. Anyone researching
the topic must read this article before coming to any conclusions.
Personally, I think Bush and Cheney are far too incompetent to pull
off anything like the conspiracy theorists propose. Instead, I think
they just played the tragedy for all it was worth, and then a whole
"9/11 Conspiracy Theories"
||King George says:
“Let Them Eat Poison”
May 20th, 2007
“Mom! This food tastes funny…”
poisoned food from China Tommy; it’s good for… um… the economy”.
story slowly unravels from the sluggish, mostly quiescent US press
it turns out that China has been shipping toxic food products to the
United States for years, and over-worked, under-funded federal
inspectors have known all about it.
Post today: “Under the Bush administration in particular… if
a proposed regulation does get past agency or department heads, it
hits the wall at the White House Office of Management and Budget.”
Office Of Management and Budget has never seen a food safety
regulation it liked, and indeed plans are in the works to allow
chicken to be imported from China despite the obvious risks to
from the Post: “Trading with the largely unregulated Chinese
marketplace has its risks, of course, as evidenced by the many
lawsuits that U.S. pet food companies now face from angry consumers
who say their pets were poisoned by tainted Chinese ingredients.
Until recently, however, many companies and even the federal
government reckoned that, on average, those risks were worth
Unfortunately for US consumers, as outlined in the article, cheap
Chinese imports have driven many US manufacturers out of business so
that for example, 80% of the ascorbic acid used to preserve foods in
the United States comes from China. Many other products such as the
now infamous wheat gluten are made almost exclusively in China now.
Avoiding Chinese food products or additives is almost impossible in
the United States because there are no labeling laws that mandate US
manufacturers to list the country of origin for their ingredients.
So all of
you out there who are arguing in favor of libertarians and further
deregulation, beware of what you wish for, you might just get a
mouthful of toxins, with love, from China.
||A Letter to
Congress From an
May 7th, 2007
It is time to impeach the President and Vice President.
failure of the State Department to allow Mr. Simon Dodge to testify
to Congress about his warning regarding the Niger uranium hoax is
the final straw for me. This administration has nothing left to
offer our country. Moreover, its behavior strengthens my belief
that it continues to do lasting damage to the governing of the
country. I say “no”. This administration must end before more
they do more damage.
Impeachment is the way to end it. There is more than enough evidence
to suggest that the president and vice president deliberately lied
to the American people in order to foster support for a war of
aggression against a country that was no threat to the United
States. This crime alone demands investigating.
horrors and destruction unleashed by this devious act make it clear
to the entire world that my country has lost its way. Not only has
my country violated the lofty principles that my ancestors fought
for, but it eroded the goodwill built up by the sacrifices that
generations of Americans have made to our friends overseas in the
name of democracy, justice, and charity. We need to end the
hypocrisy by judging this administration as we would any other
government who defied the will of its people and who caused the
deaths of tens of thousands of civilians. Without doing this, we
will lose what moral suasion we have left.
back to see the sweep of events since September 11, I’m aghast that
the Bush Administration so blatantly used the most horrific act in
American history for such narrow-minded, self-serving and
destructive ends. One simply has to see that Osma bin Laden has
never been found and yet a country unrelated to 9/11 is now in ruins
in the name of a “war on terror”, whatever that means. One simply
has to see that it was the oil ministry that was protected by troops
during the siege of Bagdad 4 years ago, not the precious cultural
heritage of the people of Iraq housed in their national museum.
How more obvious can it be that this war isn’t to save the Iraqi
people and it isn’t to protect the United States?
And it is
not just the war. The arc of possible corruption by this
administration covers election fraud, firing of attorneys for
political reasons, using government resources for political reasons,
and illegal wiretapping of US citizens. It is setting an example
world-wide for debasement of fair and responsible governing.
legislative branch of my country has the responsibility and
authority to correct criminal behavior on the part of the executive
branch. I have watched the new Congress act. It has done well, but
still doesn’t have the teeth to stop this travesty of the executive
branch. Impeachment proceedings will give it teeth.
this letter from Argentina, where I have been living for 3 months.
You are probably well aware this is a country where 20 years ago
citizens were kidnapped, tortured and killed for political reasons.
You may not be aware how corrosive those memories are to Argentines
today. My friends here still flinch at the thought of those days and
speak bitterly of the government of that time. They are left with a
core distrust of their country’s leaders. Perhaps it will take
another generation for Argentina to come out from under that evil
Bush administration become the “evil” that it sought to displace by
overthrowing Saddam Hussein? Perhaps 20 years from now, the deaths
of our soldiers and deaths and the horrors suffered by the Iraqi
people in these days as a result of this war will make American’s
distrust their government and feel lasting shame for what was done.
If this administration is not held accountable, then America may
never get the healing it needs to overcome the shame of our deeds.
poisoning the World…
May 6th, 2007
In a masterful piece of investigative
reporting, the New York Times describes today how unregulated
Chinese chemical companies have shipped tons of deadly diethylene
glycol (anti-freeze) around the world mislabeled as
food/pharmaceutical grade glycerin, killing thousands of people in
at least seven countries.
by the time the diethylene glycol wound up in countries ranging from
Panama to India and Bangladesh, the manufacturer's name had long
been removed from the containers, and falsified test results had
been added stating that the contents were 99.5% pure glycerin.
Instead, the drums contained almost pure diethylene glycol with
least one drug poisoning incident in Bangladesh, doctors estimate
that thousands, or even tens of thousands of people were killed
after taking a fever medication made with diethylene glycol rather
than glycerin. In a more recent incident in Panama, hundreds of
people were killed after drinking cough syrup made with diethylene
article at the New York Times is very well written and I recommend
that everyone read it carefully, and then think about how many foods
and pharmaceuticals they and their families consume without any idea
where the ingredients in those products came from. The USDA and FDA
currently only test a minuscule fraction of the foods and drugs sold
in the US.
giving us a firsthand look at what happens when America exports
unregulated capitalism to the rest of the world. Republicans and
Libertarians alike believe that capitalism can be self-regulating in
the absence of government oversight. China and other developing
capitalist countries prove this notion completely false.
Republicans and Libertarians want to further deregulate American
industry while simultaneously dismantling oversight agencies such as
the FDA and the USDA. If they can't eliminate these agencies, they
will de-fund them and staff them with corporate cronies.
likely that the recent revelations about tainted pet food and now
tainted pharmaceuticals are just the tip of the iceberg. The
diethylene glycol contamination from China has been going on since
at least 1992 without being disclosed to the general public. It
seems very likely that many more such incidences of food and drug
contamination have gone unreported as yet.
It is also
interesting to note that glycerin is a common ingredient in certain
pet foods and that diethylene glycol causes kidney failure as in the
case of the recent pet poisonings. It would be useful, I think, for
the FDA to test tainted pet foods for the presence of this toxic
Republicans and Libertarians beware of what you wish for, you just
might just reap the “benefits” of unregulated capitalism in your
child’s next bottle of cough syrup.
May 1st, 2007
Yesterday the New York Times
confirmed what I reported here last week, that the Chinese
contaminant found in pet food, melamine, is not particularly toxic.
It is virtually impossible to
reconcile the number of animals made sick or killed by the pet food
contamination originating in China with the fact that the major
“contaminant” does not cause kidney failure, or death. So what is
sickening pets, and what about the fact that farm animal feed has
also been found to be contaminated?
When melamine was first reported
to be the source of the poison in pet food, my first reaction as a
pet owner and scientist was to check the material safety data sheet
(MSDS). This is the official safety documentation that chemical
companies must ship with their products.
listed as causing skin, lung and eye irritation, but it is not
particularly toxic. Indeed, even prolonged exposure is not known to
aggravate existing medical conditions. With just a little bit of
digging, the New York Times found that farmers in China have been
using melamine for years to artificially boost protein ratings in
low-quality plant protein products. One signature characteristic of
protein, unlike fats and carbohydrates, is that it contains a
significant amount of nitrogen. Melamine is a nitrogen-rich compound
that fools the color test in laboratories to erroneously report high
levels of protein when in fact little or no protein needs to be
Unless there is something
important about melamine toxicity that is not known by scientists,
then it is probable that melamine is not the major or only culprit
in the pet food illnesses and deaths.
So then what exactly is causing
the recent spate of pet illnesses and deaths? As a scientist I must
initially conclude that there is not enough data to come to a firm
conclusion. However, that does not mean that we cannot make well
educated assumptions. Because melamine is not particularly toxic and
is not known to cause kidney failure, it is logical to assume that
there are other contaminants in pet food in addition to the
Obviously, Chinese farmers,
chemical producers, and food additive distributors have no
compunction against putting harmful or even toxic compounds into
products that are to be consumed by either animals or humans. China
has a history recently of putting business interests far ahead of
human interests. Manufacturers in China have few restrictions on how
they operate and whether or not they are permitted to pollute the
air and water. Cancer rates have soared in many parts of China that
have become industrialized. It has been noted by Western journalists
that the smog is so thick in some Chinese cities in that you can
stare at the sun without worry because it looks like a dim orange
ball in the sky.
Another assumption that we can
make based on what is known about toxicology is that it is not
uncommon for two mildly toxic compounds to have a cumulative effect
that is far more toxic than either compound alone.
As such, it seems quite likely that other chemical contaminants
originating in China, which have not yet been identified, are also
present in Chinese food products. Melamine would almost
certainly put a strain on the kidneys because it contains a great
deal of nitrogen, and one of the major functions of the kidneys is
to clear excess nitrogen from the body in the form of urea (present
at high levels in the urine). If Chinese farmers and food product
distributors have been putting other toxic compounds into their
products for similar, nefarious reasons as they have been using
melamine, then it seems quite possible that two or more mildly toxic
compounds are having a synergistic effect in causing kidney damage,
and eventually failure.
The New York Times and
other sources have reported that melamine has also been found in
livestock feed in the US, and in several cases in the livestock
as well. This suggests that melamine and other contaminants have
also entered the human food chain here in America, as well as
I suggest that the presence of
melamine in food products be considered as a “marker” of
contamination, rather than being the primary, toxic contaminant.
As China's industrial base grows
exponentially without the benefit of government regulations for
public safety, the deadly effects which
are so clearly in play in that country will spill over to other
countries that import Chinese food products. As China's
burgeoning industries slowly poison the Chinese people, they are
also slowly poisoning the rest of the world. I hope that Western
governments crack down on Chinese food product imports until, in the
future, Chinese government policies provide substantially more
protection for consumers than is now the case.
Notes Added 5/2/07: Today, the Washington
reported that 2.5 million chickens were fed tainted food and
subsequently entered the human food supply. An additional 100,000
chickens in Indiana have been scheduled for destruction.
Recently several laboratories
reported the presence of three other compounds in the urine of
animals fed melamine contaminated food. The three compounds included
cyanuric acid, amilorine and amiloride. All three of these compounds
breakdown products of melamine, indicating that the melamine is
being metabolized by the animals it is fed to. None of these
chemicals is considered particularly toxic at the concentrations
found in animal urine. Some investigators have noted that when
melamine and cyanuric acid are combined they can result in crystal
formation which is similar to that observed in the kidneys of
However, this does not explain
the spike in animal illnesses and deaths that occurred recently
because as the New York Times reported, Chinese farmers have been
adding melamine to protein concentrates shipped to the United States
for years. The outbreak in pets was acute, and did not appear to be
due to chronic exposure to low levels of melamine.
As such, it still seems likely
that other contaminants were being added to Chinese food products in
recent months, and that these may have interacted with melamine and
its breakdown products to cause kidney failure. What is clear from
the information so far discovered is that the human food supply has
definitely been contaminated with non-food chemicals originating in
China. What is not known is what other possible contaminants were
present, or how they might accumulate in people eating tainted meat,
possibly leading to adverse health effects that may not show up for
some time to come.
||You Are What You
The Politics of Pet Food
April 24th, 2007
If you are a
cat or dog owner, you almost certainly know about the pet food recall
associated with numerous pet illnesses and deaths in recent months. But
you probably don’t know much about the details, or the politics and
economics behind the pet food debacle, or how these relate to your
family’s food. If you thought the food safety problem was limited to pet
foods… think again. The Bush administration has
gutted the FDA, and all foods are now less safe.
What’s in pet
food anyway? Why is it “pet food”, and not just regular food? Is it
especially nutritious and wholesome for pets as most vets would have you
believe? The answer is no, pet food is not especially wholesome or
nutritious, and in fact it can contain things that should not be in food
at all. There are two independent food streams in the United States,
human food and pet/animal food. Neither is completely safe, but the
animal food stream is particularly suspect.
Pet food is
made from what giant, multinational agribusiness considers “byproducts”
of human food production - stuff that is mostly unfit for human
consumption. Much of it would become costly garbage if industry could
not legally make it into dog and cat food. Basically, you would never
feed it to your pet if you knew what was in it. Pet food agribusiness is
$30 billion a year mega-industry in the US, and it is growing every
industry term for animal byproducts is “offal” - carcass parts that
cannot be used for human food, which are automatically slated for animal
food production at the slaughterhouse. “Offal” has been estimated to
amount to approximately 40 billion pounds per year in the US, and often
contains significant amounts of rancid rendered fats, oils and grease.
It also includes bacterial- or parasite-contaminated carcass parts which
could not pass human food inspection. This is especially true because
offal contains animal intestines and their contents, which are rich in
e-coli. Next time you scrutinize the stuff in a can of cat or dog food…
On top of the
issue of contaminated or diseased carcass parts there is now the looming
issue of toxic Chinese food-additive
contamination in many pet foods in the United States. It was a
wake-up call for pet owners that so many different products produced
by so many different pet food companies could all become contaminated.
This fact showed clearly that both “premium” and plain pet foods
contained low-quality ingredients from uncertain sources.
At first the
contaminated pet food showed up mostly in the US, but eventually
surfaced in other places, such as
South Africa and
Puerto Rico. The critical questions quickly became “what poison” and
“what source”? At first it was thought that a rat poison called
aminopterin was responsible. Then the focus quickly shifted to a
chemical called melamine, which is used primarily in the making of
plastics. The culprit “food product” was thought to be contaminated
wheat gluten from the Chinese manufacturer “Xuzhou Anying Biologic
Technology Development Co”. Because melamine contains a huge amount of
nitrogen, it would give a very high “protein reading” when inspectors
employed the simple chemical color test typically used to quickly assay
protein content in a food product. This made some sense as to why
melamine would show up at high levels in cheap Chinese wheat gluten
product – as a despicable, unethical attempt to artificially jack up the
is a slight problem with the melamine hypothesis. The affected pets are
thought to have died from kidney failure, but melamine is not known to
cause kidney failure. The amount of melamine required to cause death is
very large, far beyond the amount found in contaminated pet foods. The
main health issues associated with chronic melamine exposure include
cancer and reproductive damage. Indeed, there is no data that suggests
that melamine even in significant doses can cause acute adverse effects
such as kidney failure and death. The levels of melamine found in the
pet food were far below those considered acutely toxic.
So what caused
the animal sickness and death, and where did it come from? Some
investigators have noted that ethylene glycol, the main ingredient in
anti-freeze, does cause acute kidney failure in animals. Many pets die
every year from drinking anti-freeze drained out of car radiators
because it has a sweet smell and taste. However, it does not seem likely
that sufficient levels of ethylene glycol could get into pet foods.
As such, it
seems very likely that the actual culprit has still not been found. It
may turn out to be melamine, but more likely it will turn out to be
something else not yet identified. In either case, the FDA would very
much like Americans to think that the situation is well in hand. It is
far from well in hand, and in fact, the FDA is
overwhelmed, underfunded and understaffed. It is also being
hamstrung by an administration that despises government oversight of
So what can
Make your own pet food. It is more time-consuming than opening a can
or dumping some kibble in a bowl, but a varied and nutritious diet based
on human-grade foods will greatly increase the chances that your pet
will have a healthy diet, and a long life. Dogs and cats are fully
domesticated animals, and have evolved over thousands of years along
side people, eating left-over scraps of food. They are well adapted to a
human-centered diet, and anyone who tells you otherwise is just wrong.
critically important to note that the problem isn’t limited to the food
your pet eats - there are serious problems with the food you eat too.
It’s the same functionally deficient FDA that is supposedly watching out
for you and your family by inspecting foods produced in the US and those
imported from other countries. There have never been so many food
producers as there are now, and in modern times there has never been
less FDA action. As this situation worsens, people are getting sick from
contaminated spinach, peanut butter, and now new cases have been
reported, again, about people getting sick from
e-coli tainted beef.
further - it has been reported that livestock have been fed large
amounts of animal feed which was
contaminated with melamine, or whatever unidentified toxic substance
has been killing pets, thus putting people at risk from the “pet food
contamination problem”. By eating animals, people are thus subjected to
the animal food stream.
meat, and more organic produce is a great way to improve your health,
and reduce your exposure to potentially toxic compounds in the food
supply. Dogs also do very well on a diet rich in rice, vegetables,
oatmeal, eggs, and other non-meat items, but cats need to eat mostly
meat. Both cats and dogs should be given appropriate amounts of
calcium and vitamin supplements if they are getting human food.
human food stream is far from perfect, it is still substantially better
than the animal food stream.
You are what
you eat. So be highly vigilant about what you, your family, and your
||Save Air America
April 16th, 2007
The new president of Air America Radio, Mark Green, has taken it
upon himself to gut the progressive network and fill it with bland,
middle-of-the-road talk show hosts.
It is ironic that the big
discussion issue on AAR today is the "firing" of US attorneys. The
irony is that Mark Green basically just fired Sam Seder, one of Air
America's most popular daytime hosts. He is going to put a New York
City talk show host who calls himself "Lionel", virtually unknown to
the Air America Radio audience, on in Sam Seder's place. This is a
slap in the face to AAR's loyal audience.
If you are a fan of Sam
Seder, consider writing to Air America to tell them that Sam is the
heart and soul of AAR, and that killing his daily show will hurt the
network, not help it. The address is
email@example.com. Be polite, but make sure that Mark
Green knows that you are not happy.
||Why CNN Can’t Tell
You the Truth
April 9th, 2007
Progressives have long wondered why CNN and
other TV news media have been so incapable of focusing on real
issues and coming to conclusions based on reported facts. Why do
they bash Democrats and puff-piece Republicans? The answer is
simple. The TV news media are gaming the system for their own
organizations are not in the business of providing the audience with
the information necessary for them to be well-informed citizens, but
rather are in the entertainment business dedicated to making
profits. However, in order to be profitable, TV news organizations
have, I think erroneously, decided that they must also play the
politics game to stay in the black.
of slanted reporting and misinformation abound. Listening to the
corporate media denigrate Speaker Pelosi’s recent diplomatic efforts
in the Middle East was enough to make Progressives both concerned,
and nauseous. From Suzanne Malveaux's “big wet kiss” comment on CNN
to the news ticker declaring “Pelosi's bad trip”, and implying
collusion with terrorists, the corporate media truly outdid
themselves this time.
But if you
think about it, the news media have a lot to lose if the American
public catches on to their little game. The truth of the matter is
that the corporate media enjoys the unregulated and highly
profitable news/entertainment environment at play in the United
States today, and the way that system is insinuated with political
money. Every two years hundreds of millions of dollars flow from
political contributors to politicians and their action committees
and then on to the news media ad departments. Many news
organizations operate in the red until the next election cycle comes
around, when the profits begin pouring in again.
always at the forefront of all journalists minds when election years
come around, even if they don’t seem sure why the issue is so
important to news organizations. They blather on about who is making
more money, and what that money race means for the election, as
though money could be equated with competence, temperament or any
background that might make the candidates suitable for the job in
George Bush was the journalist’s pet candidate in both 2000 and
2004, not because he was qualified to be president, but because,
they say, he was more personable than Al Gore or John Kerry. Gore
and Kerry never had nicknames for the White House press corp.
Backslapping fun on Air Force One being apparently more important to
“journalists” than competence or capacity. But behind all that
joviality remained the facts that Bush would be more corporate
friendly, would cut corporate taxes, and would permit media
corporate media not only have no reason to tell you the truth about
how corrupting the influence of money in politics is, they have
every reason to keep you in the dark, or at least misinformed. We
will never have meaningful campaign finance reform in the United
States as long as the news media make dirty money through slanted,
sensationalist politicking. It is clearly in their best interest to
attack anyone who threatens the current campaign financing system.
And that explains the constant attacks on Democrats who might
actually bring campaign finance reform laws to the table.
tell you the truth because the truth would destroy the very gravy
train that feeds them. Write CNN and tell them you are sick and
tired of their slanted reporting, and tell them you are going to
boycott their advertisers unless they get back to unbiased
reporting. That might actually get their attention.
April 7th, 2007
It is time to end the charade. If our country
attacks foreign nations preemptively, then our Defense Department
becomes an Offense Department, and defense spending becomes offense
spending. The concept of offense spending has many disturbing
Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the nation on his
departure from the White House to beware the military-industrial
complex, the United States has increasingly engaged in aggressive
wars more for economic reasons than geopolitical ones. During the
Korean War President Eisenhower learned firsthand about the
insatiable nature of war profiteering.
and Cheney administration have, however, elevated the size and scope
of the military-industrial complex to something that even President
Eisenhower would not have thought possible. Combining huge no-bid,
cost-plus contracts with massive military supplemental bills and a
complete lack of congressional oversight by Republicans, the Bush
administration has managed to chew through over half $1 trillion on
the Iraq war in just four years. Impressive, even by
military-industrial complex standards.
money, virtually all of which was borrowed from foreign banks, has
not simply evaporated into thin air, but rather has gone into the
bank accounts of many large corporations including Halliburton/KBR,
Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, GE, Boeing, Raytheon and many,
is not ordinary war profiteering, this is coordinated
industry-government collusion and manipulation that benefits
corporations with huge no-bid contracts and unprecedented profits,
and the government with “economic growth” that can be used in
campaigns to gain and retain power in Washington.
secret “energy taskforce” meetings brought together oil company
executives to get them onboard with the invasion of Iraq long before
the war began, and even before 9/11 ever offered up the excuse of a
“war on terror”. These meetings led to exclusive, no-bid contracts
being awarded to American and Brit oil companies for “extraction
rights’ in Iraq.
the deal was greatly reduced taxes on oil companies, with
concomitant drastic increases in profits. But there is much more in
it for the complicit corporations. Enactment of Iraqi hydrocarbon
law, written by oil company lobbyists, ensures that US and British
oil companies will get extraction rights amounting to at least 80%
of the oil reserves in Iraq. This is a bold and brazen grab for the
natural resources of Iraq, which will not benefit the Iraqi people
in any way.
Petroleum (BP) has been keenly interested in Iranian (Persian) oil
since it’s inception in the early years of the 20th
modern world, corporate collusion with government is considered by
oil executives as essential for monetizing oil reserves around the
world for their profit.
also be noted that the privatization of the US Armed Forces has
proceeded at a highly accelerated rate during the Bush
administration. Nearly as many private contractors are deployed in
previously military positions in the Middle East as enlisted
personnel. This is unprecedented and dangerous. There is no chain of
command, and no system of accountability for mercenaries and other
private contractors deployed in war zones. It is costing the
taxpayers tens, or perhaps hundreds of billions of extra dollars to
privatize our military industrial complex. Our money is flowing to
these corporations like never before.
result of gusher up economics is that taxpayers will be funding the
military-industrial complex and offense spending ad infinitum, as
will their children and grandchildren.
For me the
truly sad part about all of this is that the American government
should be working for the benefit of the greater common good rather
than for the benefit of oil companies and war profiteers. When a
huge proportion of our tax dollars go to funding offense spending on
offensive wars the big losers are not only the victims in countries
like Iraq, but the US taxpayers whose money is being funneled
directly to those running large energy companies and military
contractors. The rest of us are on the losing end of this deal.
taxpayer dollars would be far better spent rebuilding the
infrastructure of our country, and on biomedical research to prevent
unnecessary death from cancer, heart disease, stroke and other
potentially treatable disorders. Instead, our government spends
nearly 50 times as much of your money on offensive military actions
as they do on biomedical research. Lobbyists for the large
corporations are swarming Washington, but almost none of them are
there seeking funding for the NIH or other research institutes.
Write your representatives and demand that less money be spent on
the military, and more be spent on biomedical research which will
actually save American lives. Stop funding offensive military
actions around the world, and make the world a better place.
||Open Letter to
March 29th, 2007
As a constituent of yours I am extremely dismayed that Maryland
opted to purchase and use highly unreliable proprietary electronic
voting systems for our elections. I and many others in Maryland
wrote prior to that decision urging you to not purchase the
questionable equipment, unfortunately without success.
I now urge you to pass
legislation this session that would mandate an official, voter
verified, auditable paper trail for all Maryland elections.
Unfortunately, the voting machines our state currently uses provide
no way to ensure votes are counted accurately, and no way to recover
lost votes if equipment fails.
The Maryland House
recently passed a bill (HB18) that includes 3 provisions 1) a paper
record of each vote, 2) the paper record would be the basis for
official ballot recounts and audits, and 3) random audits to verify
the accuracy of election results.
These provisions are only
a start, because I believe that private companies MUST not be
allowed to control the proprietary software running on these dubious
Further, the Senate
version of the bill has been amended in committee and now includes
none of the above noted provisions. This is outrageous, and
unacceptable. It is time to fix the problem NOW, before the next
Marylanders are watching
closely and will accept nothing less than completely transparent and
fully auditable voting systems that can be verified to be accurate
and secure. That is not possible as long as the software running on
these machines cannot be examined. I demand that corporations which
manufacture these machines provide the source code for their
software to be analyzed by experts. Nothing else short of that is
acceptable and no excuses should be accepted.
||Terror Me Once,
Shame on You...
March 26th, 2007
Brzezinski has an important
Op Ed at
the Washington Post, that should be mandatory reading for all
members of Congress, Republican or Democrat. Liberals have been
saying for years that you can't have a "war" against "terror".
Terror is a tactic used by many different groups around the world to
disrupt and demoralize people, and you obviously can't have a war on
a tactic. Can you have a "war on flanking maneuvers"? A war on
"overwhelming force"? No.
There is no war
on terror. There is a concerted effort by our government to panic
the American people so that BushCo can funnel billions to war
profiteers, while simultaneously making a power grab for the oil
wells in Iraq.
The only way to fight
terrorism is with international law enforcement. You can't find and
kill small groups of terrorists with the US
military. It is a sham, and the
public needs to demand an end to the war in Iraq, and the obscene
spending on the military.
More people die prematurely
every day in the US from
potentially treatable conditions than have ever died from terrorism
in all of history, but we spend 30 to 40 times more money every year
on the military than we do on medical research in the US. Why? It is
time to reverse those numbers, and cure diseases like cancer,
diabetes and Alzheimer disease. Write your representatives and tell
them to fund biomedical research, not the phony 'war on terror'.
||How They Put the
‘Con’ in Neo-Con
March 11th, 2007
It is no coincidence that the Republicans give lip service to so
many causes while actually ignoring them, or worse, working to
undermine them. It is their modus operandi. This is how con-men
schemes only work if the victims are properly distracted and
properly misled. Con men steal people's money by simultaneously
appealing to their self interest, while secretly working to
Scott’s famous quote from the movie, The Flimflam Man; “you can't
cheat an honest man”, is unfortunately untrue. Con-men can, and
often do cheat honest men.
Republican Party of George Bush and Dick Cheney is nothing like the
Republican Party of days gone by. They have rapidly and recklessly
morphed the Republican Party into a gang of modern day con men.
Reed, VA Hospital scandal clearly makes this point. The Republicans
continually bash Democrats for not supporting our troops because the
Democrats want to bring the troops home. The whole time the neo-cons
are yelling and screaming about the Democrats wanting to cut and
run, they are actually cutting veterans benefits and letting wounded
soldiers languish in appalling conditions without proper care. For
the neo-cons, our troops are pawns in their political games, acting
as both cannon fodder for their elective war, and a bludgeon to
attack Democrats with.
examples of their con man methods abound. Everything from their
Clear Skies Initiative to their Healthy Forests Initiative to the
Patriot Act to the No Child Left Behind Act does exactly the
opposite of what the name implies. The clear skies initiative
permits more pollution by industry, the healthy forests initiative
permits more logging, and the patriot act would never have been
signed by true patriots. The No Child Left Behind Act leaves many
children far behind.
gotten to the point where you can literally assume that the
administration will be feverishly working to do the exact opposite
of what they say in public. When President Bush insists in a speech
that domestic spying requires a warrant, you can be darn sure they
are bypassing the FISA court. When the president declares that he
values the Constitution, you know that he actually thinks it's a
quaint old document that does not apply to him. When Bush said in
public that they are not planning for attacks on Iran, you can be
sure that carrier battle groups have already been dispatched and
that the planning is well underway.
neo-cons chose an oddly appropriate name for their movement. Based
on their MO, you would have thought they would have called
themselves the “Honest Party”. At least that way they would have
||Open Letter on
February 28th 2007
Dear Congressman Conyers,
First I want to thank you
for your work in the Congress for all these years. I have always
appreciated the fact that you fight for progressive causes.
As an owner of two XM
satellite radios and an IT professional,
I urge you to reject the XM -
Sirius satellite radio
merger for a number of important reasons.
1) the agreement signed by the two companies
must be more than just a piece of paper that can be thrown in
the garbage. Both companies agreed that they would not merge in
order to to maintain competition in this small but growing
2) nothing has changed since that agreement
was signed. Public airwave radio, MP3 players, Internet audio
streaming, etc. were all in place long before XM and Sirius
satellite radio signed the non-merger agreement. No new
technologies that compete with satellite radio have come out
since that time.
3) the argument that the merger will benefit
consumers is ludicrous. What will prevent the merged company
from raising rates, or forcing customers to buy new equipment in
order to access both networks? There will be no competition
4) the idea that Internet audio streaming can
replace satellite radio is absurd on its face. The whole point
of satellite radio was that it was going to give us much better
audio quality than streaming audio on the Internet. When there
is only one company to go to, consumers will be forced to pay
for the services of a single satellite monopoly without any
5) currently many
new automobiles come with either a Sirius or XM satellite radio
preinstalled. As soon as the companies merge this will basically
force all new automobile owners to ante up to a single company
in order to activate their car radio. The idea that AM/FM radio
competes with satellite radio is also ridiculous. Why did they
even start new satellite radio companies if AM/FM radio provided
the same services?
Finally, I do not see how this proposed
merger will fix the problems at the two satellite radio
companies. Both companies paid way too much money to a few
celebrities in the hopes that it would bring on many more
listeners. That did not happen to the extent that they expected
and they probably should renegotiate those contracts in order to
get costs down. Consumers should not be saddled with that bill
because executives made the wrong choices. I do not listen to
Howard Stern or Oprah Winfrey and could care less about their
Please do not let these duplicitous corporate
officials confuse the issue and make it seem as though
everything has changed since that agreement had been signed.
There is absolutely no benefit for the consumer, only the
probability that new equipment will need to be purchased and
increasing fees will have to be paid.
Dr. John R.
February 24th, 2006
It is impossible to exaggerate the stark
difference between the impeachment of President Clinton and the
impending impeachment of President Bush.
currently no talk of impeaching President Bush or Vice President
Cheney in the US House of Representatives, but there are
measures moving through the state legislatures in at least three
states, Washington, Vermont and New Mexico. Hopefully more states
will take up similar legislation.
grassroots movement around the country to bring law and order back
to our executive branch is precisely the opposite type of proceeding
from the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. President Clinton's
impeachment was initiated at the top levels of the Republican elite
hierarchy, and pushed through the House by rich, white,
ultra-conservatives without significant public support. By the time
those proceedings were done, President Clinton had an approximately
70% approval rating with the public.
Bush's current approval rating is approximately 30%, and even that
hard core conservative base of 30% is very uneasy about President
Bush's capabilities and proclivities. There is currently little
impetus in the House of Representatives to initiate impeachment
proceedings, but the grass roots movement is expanding rapidly. If
enough states pass joint resolutions to initiate impeachment
proceedings, it may force Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats to take up
impeachment hearings in a serious way.
the big difference between the Republican and Democratic parties,
Republicans are authoritarians who do things from the top down,
whereas Democrats and progressives are populists and do things from
the ground up. It will be a wonderful expression of our democratic
society if the impeachment of Bush and Cheney are brought about by
the actions of hundreds of thousands of patriotic Americans who want
to reclaim their country from the corporate, Republican elite.
||Money Trumps, uh...
February 16th, 2007
Cindy Sheehan has written a very good
piece on George Bush's comment at a news conference that "Money
Wow, how could this not be a huge
controversy that Mr. Bush thinks that financial interests are more
important than human lives? Despite the fact that Bush was referring
to the European Union, he clearly said what he said because he
believes it to be true, that profits are more important than lives.
To those who say that impeachment is
impossible, or a waste of time, I simply say that George Bush is a
criminal by every definition of the word, and he must be brought to
justice, or his crimes against our country and the world will be
||Victory is Not an
February 11th, 2007
There is a must read Op-Ed at the Washington Post
today, written by William Oden, President Reagan's director of
the National Security Agency. He lays out the hard, cold facts about
President Bush's failure in Iraq, and the absurdity of the neo-con
arguments for staying there. It's nice to see the Washington Post
waking up to the disasters wrought by Bush and Company. Let's hope
that dinosaurs like the NY Times stop supporting the neo-con agenda,
and start scrutinizing the Bush administration and it's destructive
Goose That Laid the Rotten Eggs
February 5th, 2007
The Democrat's approach to dealing with George Bush and the
Republicans in Congress has basically been to let them destroy
themselves through their own incompetence and blundering. This
tactic, while frustrating for Democrats, has been wildly successful.
George Bush’s poll ratings hover around 30% positive and 60%
negative, and those numbers reflect Bush's performance in the
absence of any sustained or focused criticism from Democrats.
Cheney has been highly instrumental in facilitating anti-Bush
sentiment, it must be noted that George Bush himself deserves the
lion's share of credit for his own low poll numbers. Indeed, George
Bush's low approval ratings have helped drag down the Republican
Congress's poll numbers in concert. George Bush is most certainly
the goose that keeps laying rotten eggs in the lap of the Republican
brings up the question of the rationale of pushing for impeachment.
I personally am a strong proponent of the idea, because no one
should be above the law, including the president. However, there is
something to be said for the counter argument that impeachment of
Bush and Cheney would be like killing the goose that laid the rotten
eggs in the Republican’s lap. George Bush and Dick Cheney are the
best thing that has happened to the Democratic Party since John F.
Kennedy was elected. They are the gift that keeps on giving over and
over and over again. No amount of rhetoric coming from the Democrats
could have achieved the same goal.
mention that this line of thinking might eventually seep into the
clouded minds of Republicans, who must at this point start to
recognize the immeasurable harm that Bush and Cheney have done to
their party. In fact, if they were smart, they would help the
Democrats initiate impeachment against both of these men. It would
be the best thing they could do for their party, while at the same
time having the beneficial side effects of being good for the
country and the world at large.
tough choice for Democrats, but I still say that we are a nation of
laws, not men, and as such we need to cook the goose and move on.
||The New US
For most of American history, the United States has been an
isolationist nation which shunned foreign entanglements. Even during
the Revolutionary war there was much argument over whether or not to
enlist the help of the French to defeat the British. Isolationism,
and non-interventionism were championed by our founding fathers. In
his farewell address as the first president of the United States
George Washington commented:
has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very
remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies
the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence,
therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by
artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or
the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or
Isolationism and non-interventionism persisted through the 1800s,
including the Civil War, right up until the US intervened in World
War I in response to Germany's unrestricted submarine warfare
against US merchant ships.
Isolationism returned to the US throughout the 1920s and 30s, but
was subsequently wiped from the political landscape after the
Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Since World War II the US has
increasingly taken on the role of policemen of the world, often with
very negative consequences, including protracted wars in North Korea
and Vietnam. The war in Iraq ushered in a new imperialist phase in
modern US interventionism with the Bush administration’s clumsy
attempt to control a portion of the Middle East’s oil fields.
the Bush administration's nearly unilateral interventionist approach
in Iraq has ironically led to a new form of US isolationism, an
isolationism from without rather than from within. With their
heavy-handed tactics, unwillingness to negotiate, and insulting
rhetoric the Bush administration has alienated many traditional
European allies such as France and Germany. They have inflamed
anti-US sentiment throughout the Middle East and among Muslims
everywhere, while at the same time disillusioning the rest of the
civilized world from the notion that the US is playing a positive
combination of unnecessary military force, disdain for the Geneva
conventions, disregard for international treaties and laws, and shunning any form
of negotiation with nations we deem unfriendly has precipitated
strong anti-US sentiment across the globe. This burgeoning anti-US
reaction is diplomatically isolating the United States further and
further from both allies and non-Allied nations alike. The result is
a self imposed neo-isolationism that is neither desirable nor
intended. Consequently, the US is losing its ability to influence
events around the world, while becoming increasingly isolated and
Bush’s isolationism is the unintended consequence of unilateral
policies which are perceived as both irrational and aggressive by
most nations of the world. But unlike the isolationism of pre-World
War II America, we may find it much more difficult to extricate
ourselves from this new form of isolation. It is still unclear how
difficult it will be for the next president to undo the diplomatic
damage wrought by George Bush. President Bush seems congenitally
incapable of negotiation, and as such the United States will remain
isolated from the rest of the civilized world until he is no longer
president. Both America, and the world, wait impatiently for that
||What are American
January 23rd, 2007
So President Bush can stall
as long as possible before admitting failure in Iraq.
Robert Freeman has a
must-read piece at Common Dreams on the parallels between why we
failed in Vietnam, and how chicken-hawks Bush and Cheney made
certain we would fail in Iraq.
Ever heard of running down
||To Serve the
January 12th, 2007
When our government prioritizes secrecy above
all else, and the political and corporate elite form national policy
in secret, our country is no longer led by a government that is by,
for, and of the people, but rather we are led by a government that
is by, for and of the very same elite who make policy in secret. The
rest of us simply live and toil to pay the taxes and to serve their
current economy operates according to the neo-conservative fiscal
doctrine of supply side economics. It is time to end the long
backward march toward robber barons, corporate trusts and indentured
servitude. The minimum wage is going up slightly, but that trend
needs to continue with cost-of-living increases every 2 years. We
also need to stop the insane level of “M&A” (mergers and
acquisitions) being permitted with little oversight or concern for
true competitiveness in the market place.
need to work for universal health coverage, and we need to stop
spending social security funds on other projects.
immigration reform simply requires strong legislation with stiff
penalties for companies hiring illegal immigrants to do labor in the
US. This will drive some prices up, but that is the price of
putting more Americans back to work.
we need to start moving jobs back to America, rather than sending
more jobs overseas.
to bring back the middle class in the United States of America, so
that millions of Americans don’t feel like they toil endlessly
simply to serve the corporate machine.
||The No-Legged Stool
January 12th, 2007
The new Bush plan for Iraq was described in the
Senate armed services committee hearings this morning as a
three-legged stool. The analogy was that a stool would not support
its occupant without all three legs. The three legs of the Bush plan
for Iraq are 1) additional troop reinforcements being sent to
Baghdad and Anbar province, 2) a new willingness by the notoriously
unwilling Iraqi puppet government to start cracking down on
sectarian violence, and 3) more money to bribe the Iraqis that we
Unfortunately for our troops and for the world, President Bush's
plan is more like a no-legged stool than a three-legged stool. There
is no reason to think that another surge of 20,000 US troops would
be enough to clear and hold a country of 24 million people with
porous borders to Iran and Syria. Further, there is absolutely no
reason to think that the Iraqi government can or will do anything
about the growing sectarian violence in that country. Finally, much
of the money we have dumped into Iraq in an attempt to either
rebuild infrastructure destroyed by us, or to get the Iraqi people
back to work has disappeared without a trace. The infrastructure has
not been rebuilt, and most Iraqi men are still not gainfully
employed, although they may be working for the insurgency pro bono.
of the matter is that a functional stool must have three sturdy
legs. A no-legged stool ensures you will fall flat on your ass.
Personally, I doubt this plan would work even if all three parts
were realized, but I think just about everybody would agree that it
will be a miracle if all three legs of the plan can be successfully
rational way out of Iraq is the Baker-Hamilton Iraq study group
plan. Virtually none of that plan is being implemented by our
decider in chief, so we can expect a further erosion of the
situation in Iraq over the next several months. Chicken hawks like
Joe Lieberman say that no one has presented a viable alternative
plan, but he knows that is a lie. He knows as well as everyone else
that the Baker-Hamilton plan is much more likely to succeed, but it
doesn't concur with his neoconservative beliefs. As such, the plan
does not exist for him.
It will be
interesting to see how long the Bush administration can string the
Congress and the American people along in this failed endeavor by
claiming that failure is not an option. Failure has already
occurred, and all that a troop escalation will reap is more violence
||Great News for
January 11th, 2007
The next election is almost 2 years away.
That's the best possible news for Bush & Co., because it means that
their policies and blunders will not be subject to voter anger,
frustration, and disgust for a long time to come.
Bush's speech to the nation last night was three years, 3000 dead,
$500 billion and a shattered army too late. And his solutions to the
disaster he has created in Iraq were nothing short of insane.
says that we will take and hold neighborhoods in Baghdad? Why not
three years ago?
says he will get the Malaki government in Iraq to do their job? Why
didn't he do that last year?
says more troops will fix the problem? Why didn't he arranged for
that before the invasion?
disturbing thing about President Bush's speech was not the air of
unreality and the intransigent denial, but instead was the threat to
drastically escalate violence in Baghdad as a means of freeing the
Iraqi people. He lamented that the US Army had not been tough enough
on the people they were trying to free, and that this was going to
change. If I were living in Baghdad, I'd be gathering my valuables
and running for the hills as fast as I could.
the problems our troops encountered in Iraq were due to the heavy
handed tactics they used on the Iraqi people. Escalating that
violence against the residents of Baghdad and Anbar province will
most certainly result in even greater violence against US troops and
even more injuries and death.
Congressional Democrats will throw a few roadblocks in the way of
President Bush's escalation debacle, but in the end if he orders
troops deployed, then they will be deployed into harms way no matter
what. Nonetheless, the Democrats need to make it as difficult as
possible and make absolutely certain that everyone knows it's Bush's
company are sending another carrier battle group and Patriot missile
batteries to the Middle East which suggests that he delusionally
believes that he can attack Iran without serious consequences.
Heaven help the world if Bush is that delusional.
news for President Bush remains the fact that the next election is
still almost 2 years away. Impeachment sounding better to any of you
January 5th, 2007
President Bush's hollow new slogan for his
impending troop buildup in Iraq is certain to join his infamous
repertoire of Orwellian doublespeak, for which his administration
will most assuredly become noted by future historians.
Bush's “new way forward” in Iraq is the same as his old way, which
is, of course, “stay the course”, with more overextended troops
being put in harms way.
goodness Nancy Pelosi mentioned yesterday that the greatest issue
facing the new Congress now is the problem in Iraq. Simply stating
this fact should be enough to calm Democratic fears that the new
Congress is not going to work quickly toward fixing Bush's disaster.
Democrats need to show some real backbone here and demand that the
Bush administration and Defense Department outline what they are
trying to accomplish, and offer a detailed plan and timetable on
how they will do so. Clearly, the Bush administration is unwilling
to negotiate with anybody in the Middle East except at the point of
a gun, and as such the situation will continue to deteriorate there
unless Democrats intercede.
war is one of the greatest debacles ever embarked upon by the United
States, and prolonging that disaster will only increase its infamy
in the history books. The Democrats must not be a party to this
ongoing disaster, and must instead reverse course and begin to
remove troops from the war-torn Middle East.
Republicans and Neo-con-artists whispering in their ears have been
wrong at every turn about everything. It is almost impossible to bat
zero, but somehow they have managed just that. It's time to take
control of the situation and to rescue our beleaguered troops from
the civil war that Bush has created in Iraq. If the Democrats do not
act to reverse course there, they will inherit some of the blame for
Bush’s disastrous war.
Kings Go Mad
December 24th, 2006
King George was going mad, and his council did
not know what to do with him.
No, I do
not speak of King George III in his latter years as monarch of
England, I speak of George W. Bush, and his slide into what can only
be described as a self-made mental purgatory, a form of madness as
real as any suffered by George III.
analogy may not be totally daft. The war with the colonies hadn’t
gone the way King George had planned, and then the whole Napoleon
mess made matters even worse. King George’s appointed Prime
Minister, William Pitt the Younger, and all the other ministers and
magistrates, didn’t know what to do with the addle-brained King as
he slowly and recurrently lapsed into madness.
centuries later we in the colonies find ourselves strapped with our
own King George, this time anointed by five appointed magistrates,
but again a king who seems to be slipping inexorably towards
madness. Those around him in his administration are not sure what to
do with the troubled King. He babbles on about success and
victory even as his blundering defeat stares him squarely in the
cannot simply replace our King George with something like the Regency Act of
1811, we can certainly consider the United States equivalent,
congressional investigations followed by articles of impeachment, if
they are warranted by the evidence.
go mad, the country, and the world, suffer greatly. Inaction only
prolongs the suffering.
The Winning Game
December 6th, 2006
When the war in Iraq is framed as a win or lose proposition it seems
apparent that there is no option but to win. However the way we
frame questions is critical.
Secretary nominee Robert Gates says we are not winning in Iraq, but
he says that does not mean our troops aren't putting in 110%.
But I suggest the question is framed incorrectly. The question is
not whether we are winning or losing, but whether we are achieving
tactical goals. Winning and losing refer to outcomes in games,
rather than strategic or tactical applications of military force.
When applying strategic or tactical force around the world, it is
important to achieve tactical, as well strategic goals that have
been clearly defined prior to conflict.
president and Republicans say that we must “win” or “succeed” in
Iraq they are completely missing the point. If you are actually
trying to achieve military goals, you obviously need to define both
the tactical and strategic goals, and you must achieve them
effectively in a reasonable period of time with a minimal loss of
life. But if you fail to define the goals, then how can you even
define winning or losing?
Bush’s simpleminded approach to everything he does undermines his
ability to accomplish anything, or succeed at anything. If you put
together a great football team but fail to tell them that the object
of the game is to get the ball to the goal line, then how are they
supposed to win? If you project military force around the world but
fail to tell the generals what the strategic and tactical goals of
the operation are, how are they supposed to accomplish nonexistent
goals? Only an idiot would set up such an obviously ill-conceived
situation is deteriorating on a daily basis in Iraq and there is
nothing that the Iraq study group can do to fix the problem at this
point. We are past the point where a change in tactics, or
definition of what the goals in Iraq are could possibly make any
difference. What are our options? My guess is that now the only
viable option is to begin withdrawing troops and hope that the Iraqi
military and police forces can deal with the growing violence. It
will certainly leave the country in chaos, but how is that any
different than what we have now? It's going to be chaos whether we
are there or not.
question is will the violence spread to other countries? Bush has
botched the job so badly, and inflamed tensions so thoroughly in the
Middle East that such an outcome is becoming more and more likely.
Congressional investigations into the malfeasance of the Bush
administration, if they lead to impeachment of the president and
vice president, could put our country in a position to begin
negotiating with the various factions in Iraq, as well as with its
neighbors, in a meaningful way. That may be the only way out that
does not result in decades of intense violence throughout the
The Times are not a changin’
November 30th, 2006
I have noticed that the Washington Post has
been trending toward some level of criticism of the Bush
Administration, especially since the election mandate, but the even
more sluggish and procrustean NY Times still remains in a
pre-November 7th mindset. As a perfect example, I note
how both brontosaurian establishments described the announcement
that Governor Tom Vilsack of Iowa was running for president as a
Democrat in the 2008 election. First, the Post’s headline:
Running for President
governor criticizes President Bush, calls for changes in energy and
the headline from the once-estimable Times:
Democrat Joins White House Race
Vilsack's candidacy could – charitably – be called an uphill climb.
yourself - which headline provides information, and which provides
slanted opinion? Does the NY Times headline mention which state
Governor Vilsack is from, or that he is the Governor? Does it
mention anything about what he is calling for, or his criticism of
not. That would be informative, rather than anti-liberal rhetoric.
desperate attempt to not be liberal… indeed to be anti-liberal, the
NY Times will continue for some time to fret more over Nancy
Pelosi’s wardrobe, and John Kerry’s jokes than over the incendiary
Mid-East policies of the Bush administration. They seem to still be
in some sort of Judy Miller induced trance – incapable of
recognizing that the country has rejected the Republican’s so-called
agenda, and is crying out for change.
November 18th, 2006
George W. Bush finally made it to Vietnam, about 37 years too late
to help those of his generation who fought and died there. He used
his rich and powerful father's family connections to avoid that
potentially deadly fate, so he could stay home and drink beer with
the other rich kids who were able to avoid the draft.
tour-de-force of irony, George Bush traveled to Vietnam this week
and proclaimed that he learned the lesson of that failed war when he
said; “One lesson is, is that we tend to want there to be instant
success in the world, and the task in Iraq is going to take a while.
We'll succeed unless we quit.”
implication is that if we had stayed in Vietnam, we would have
succeeded. This despite the fact that it was only after we left
Vietnam that the country eventually turned itself around and
embraced capitalism. Bush’s remarks display a complete lack of
cognizance of history, or geopolitics, and instead seem to be a
stark affirmation of his delusional view of the world, and disregard
for the harm his policies have wrought.
failure will be Bush’s epitaph, and history will not look back
kindly on his authoritarian presidency, and the war of choice he
prosecuted in Iraq. The long-term repercussions of stay the failure
in Iraq will ensure distrust and even hatred of America throughout
many parts of the world where goodwill would have had much more
failure sounds like a plan to continue war profiteering for the
military industrial complex for years to come, rather than a plan to
calm a riotous Middle East. It is time to admit that military force
can not solve social and political problems in the Middle East, but
that it can exacerbate them. Stay the failure? Only if you don’t
care about America, or the rest of the world.
America's 12 Step Plan for Recovery (from Republican
corruption and malfeasance)
November 9th, 2006
1. Begin to move the troops from Iraq to nearby
bases in Saudi Arabia and Turkey, rotate the troops who have been
deployed the longest back home.
the UN forces in Afghanistan and finish the job going after Osama
3. Pass a
federal election bill that mandates that all elections in the US
meet certain criteria in terms of machine reliability and rules for
counting and recounting votes.
lobbying reform that opens all meetings between lobbyists and US
Representatives at any level of government to the press and public.
5. Pass a
new fairness doctrine for public airwaves media behavior that is
immune to Supreme Court intervention - strengthen laws against
government funded propaganda.
habeas corpus and eliminate military tribunals. All US detainees
must go through the US court system. Outlaw all forms of detainee
mistreatment with very stiff criminal penalties for those who break
Legislate against war profiteering with severe penalties including
Eliminate the Homeland Security Department and restore FEMA to its
previous cabinet position. Restore the FISA court to mandatory
status and shut down the secret spying programs implemented by the
the minimum wage to at least $7.50 an hour.
legislation that provides public funding for all US elections and
eliminates all private donations. It's time to stop legislator
"dialing for dollars". Our representatives need to be doing their
jobs, not schmoozing on the phone.
new House and Senate ethics rules with severe criminal penalties
laws that prevent gerrymandering of congressional districts and
legislate new rules for how boundaries can be drawn and redrawn.
just the beginning of getting our country back on track. Additional
moves will be required including a much fairer tax system, and a
reduced commitment to obscene military expenditures. We need to pay
down the national debt while also increasing funding for biomedical
research. We need strong "sunshine laws" for the Federal Government
- no more secrets from the American people. We need to improve
international relations. We need a single-payer national healthcare
system. And finally, we need to make sure that Social Security is
fully funded, and yes those funds need to be locked away so they
can't be squandered on government projects that they were not
intended for. It's going to take a long time, and it's going to be a
very hard fight against the corporatists. Now that we've taken the
Congress back we need to start taking the media back and redirecting
our national priorities to benefit all of the American people, not
just those at the top.
From the People's House to the Jail House
Election Day: November 7th, 2006
If the votes are counted properly today, the Democrats should easily
win back the House of Representatives. The Senate is up for grabs.
But there is a good reason why Republicans are so desperate to hold
onto both the House and the Senate - Republicans would much prefer
to serve in the People's House than to serve time in the jailhouse.
The scandals that have so far racked the Republican Party are just
the tip of the iceberg. The Jack Abramoff scandal will end up
tainting dozens of additional Republicans in the House and Senate,
and there are certainly more heads to roll in the Mark Foley
scandal, and in the appropriations scandals swirling around billions
of dollars of missing money in Iraq.
As soon as
Democrats have subpoena power in the House of Representatives things
will certainly turn vociferous. Expect many close races and probably
a spate of lawsuits in various counties throughout the country.
Expect extreme acrimony on your TV as Republicans charge Democrats
with every conceivable election day offense, despite their own
efforts to suppress the Democratic turnout and flip votes using
electronic voting machines.
expect the Republican talking heads on TV to blather on about how
the Democrat’s victories were smaller than expected and therefore
that they do not constitute a mandate. In other words, don't expect
the Republicans to do anything other than what they've done for the
last 12 years - attempt to absurdly spin everything to their own
Democratic today, and help send the House Republicans to the
Party of Fear
November 5th, 2006
The Republicans favorite tactic in the last
several elections has been to try to induce as much
fear in as many
Americans as possible. They say they are protecting us from
terrorists, but it is no longer the terrorists who are trying to
instill fear in the US populace. The terrorists only had to do that
once back in 2001 shortly after a small man with a small mind had
been handed the White House by five Republican Supreme Court
justices. The rest is now history.
terrorists did not force us to go to war in Iraq, Bush did.
terrorists did not force soldiers to torture our prisoners, Bush
terrorists did not demand that we eliminate the right of the accused
to a trial, Bush did.
terrorists did not send our troops into harm's way based on lies,
terrorists did not cut corporate taxes and ring up a $9 trillion
national debt, Bush did.
terrorists did not set up the secret illegal program to spy on
American citizens, Bush did.
terrorists did not send our troops to war without proper equipment,
terrorists did not set up secret detention centers throughout the
world, Bush did.
terrorists did not say that we would have to fight them over there
so we did not have to fight them here, Bush did.
indeed being terrorized on a continual basis, but it is not by the
terrorists who attacked us on September 11, but rather by our own
government who is using fear tactics, like the color-coded terror
alert system to divide the electorate and attempt to retain power.
election approaches you’ll hear lots of scare tactics from the
Republicans including their age old favorite that the evil Democrats
are going to raise your taxes. Every fiscally responsible person in
the country knows that we need to do something about the $9 trillion
national debt. It can't be ignored, and it won't go away all by
itself. Fiscal responsibility is one of the primary jobs of the
president and Congress, and it is one that the Republicans have
botched just as badly as they have botched the Iraq war.
think the Republicans are going to keep you safer than Democrats,
then you have fallen for their big lie. Republicans have no
intention of keeping you safe, but instead are intent on keeping you
to say that there is nothing to fear but Republican fear mongering
itself, not to mention two more years of unchecked Republican power.
If you want the fear mongering to end, vote the Republicans out of
office and bring back divided government with its checks and
balances. And don't worry about the Democrats raising taxes, they
are only going to raise taxes on corporations and rich people. They
will probably reduce taxes on poor and working people.
it going to be on Tuesday? A vote for the party of fear, or vote to
bring back checks and balances and fiscal responsibility, as well as
congressional oversight of the administration? You get to decide.
Republican Plan for Victory
November 3rd, 2006
How do the Republicans plan on winning this election? They will lie,
cheat and steal of course. We've heard all about the illegal purging
of voter rolls to eliminate eligible Democratic voters, and all the
shenanigans with electronic voting machines made by
Republican-controlled corporations, but now we hear about the
nitty-gritty local attempts to suppress the Democratic turnout.
got a hold of the Republican "poll watcher"
pamphlets in Maryland recently and much to their surprise (not),
it turns out that the pamphlet instructs poll workers to challenge
Democratic voters to prove that they are eligible to vote. The
pamphlet goes on to tell Republican poll workers not to worry about
offending anybody, and even offers the advice of threatening
election judges with jail time if they try to interfere.
precisely does the Democratic poll worker pamphlet tell Democratic
poll workers to do? To try to make sure that no one is turned away
and everyone gets a chance to vote.
you have it - the starkest most unmistakable distinction between the
Republican Party and the Democratic Party. The Republicans are
polling in the low 30% range or less, and their only hope of pulling
out any kind of victory is to beat down the Democratic vote any way
you're a Democrat, don't forget to bring multiple forms of
identification on Tuesday, and you might even want to bring your
camcorder so that you can film Republicans trying to block Democrats
from voting. It will make wonderful viewing on the evening news on
election night. Let's catch the bastards at their dastardly acts and
bring democracy back to America.