Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The sheer chutzpah of the Republicans

Fun hearing in the Senate yesterday to work on confirming or rejecting Sam Fox. The same Sam Fox who funded the Swift Boat Veterans and thus helped malign Kerry's military service record in the last presidential election. The same Sam Fox who claims to abhor 527 groups and everything they do. That Sam Fox called Kerry a hero yesterday. And toward the end of the hearing Senator Coleman stated:
"it would be a terrible shame" if Fox was disqualified because of his political donations.

It would be a terrible shame, just like every time the Republicans have appointed someone or barred them merely on the basis of that person's loyalty to the administration and the Republican Party.

42 erroneous words

I really love the special commentary by Keith Olbermann. He incisively destroys the silliness spewed forth by the right wing. His latest edition calls out Condeleeza Rice for getting her history wrong and making a pathetic analogy between Germany and Iraq. You can watch it here if you have a good connection. Crooks and Liars also provides the whole transcript of the commentary for your reading pleasure if you have a slow connection.

Favorite quote:
But then there's this part about changing "the resolution" about
Iraq, that it would be as ridiculous in the Secretary's eyes, as
saying that after Hitler was defeated, we needed to go back to
Congress to "deal with creating a stable environment in Europe after
he was overthrown."

Oh, good grief, Secretary Rice, that's exactly what we did do!

We went back to Congress to deal with creating a stable environment
in Europe after Hitler was overthrown!

It was called the Marshall Plan.


General George Catlett Marshall!

Secretary of State!

The job you have now!


Monday, February 26, 2007

For the love of the experience

A philosophical rejection of alpinism's "highest honor" by this years winner, Marko Prezelj. Even with broken English, he eloquently expresses the problems with competing for a first place among those who climb to the rarefied realms:
Fame is a cheap trap set by the media in which the complacent are quickly caught and exploited, realizing too late that trust and honor do not live in the same house as notoriety. The public doesn't truly care about climbers, who are links in an incestuous chain binding sick hunger for attention to media that promote or criticize according to their interests. The Piolet d'Or show organizers know and count on the cruel fact that they will always find plenty of desperate, passionate gladiators and clowns to role-play in the fame game. The more interesting question is whether it is Reality Show or Soap Opera?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

You aren't special, yet you are

Fun thoughts at DailyKos:
No, you are not that special. And yet, you are a wonder, absolutely unique and irreplaceable. Your species is a wonder, gifted with physical and mental resources that provide boundless opportunity. Your planet is a wonder, swarming with life in infinite variety and complexity. Your universe is a wonder, based on laws so precisely balanced that the slightest variation in any of them might have caused everything -- space, time, and everything that moves through both -- to never have appeared.

A bit schizophrenic, but fun nonetheless.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

More proof that biofuels are not the answer

ADM works wonders in Mexico. Apparently tortillas are too expensive for many Mexicans to buy now. And the push for ethanol as a fuel source causes part of the problem.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Budget woes

Matt Taibbi has a wonderful screed about jacked up priorities in the press. And he works to confirm the truism that we get the government we deserve.

Favorite quotes:
I awoke this morning in New York City to find Britney Spears plastered all over the cover of two gigantic daily newspapers, simply because she cut her hair off over the weekend. To me, this crosses a line. My definition of a news story involves something happening. If nothing happens, then you can't have "news," because nothing has changed since the day before. Britney Spears was an idiot last Thursday, an idiot on Friday, and an idiot on both Saturday and Sunday. She was, shockingly, also an idiot on Monday. It will be news when she stops being an idiot, and we'll know when that happens, because she'll have shot herself for the good of the planet. Britney Spears cutting her hair off is the least-worthy front page news story in the history of humanity.

Even if you're a traditional, Barry Goldwater conservative, the kinds of budgets that Bush has sent to the hill not only this year but this whole century are the worst-case scenario; they increase spending generally while cutting taxes and social programming. They commit taxpayers to giant subsidies of already Croseus-rich energy corporations, pharmaceutical companies and defense manufacturers while simultaneously cutting taxes on those who most directly benefit from those subsidies. Thus you're not cutting spending -- you're just cutting spending on people who actually need the money. (According to the Washington Times, which in a supremely ironic twist of fate did one of the better analyses of the budget, spending will be 1.6 percent of GDP higher in the 2008 budget than in was in 2000, while revenues will be 2.6 percent of GDP lower). This is something different from traditional conservatism and something different from big-government liberalism; this is a new kind of politics that transforms the state into a huge, ever-expanding instrument for converting private savings into corporate profit.

That's not only bad government, it's bad capitalism. It makes legalized bribery and political connections more important factors than performance and competition in the corporate marketplace. Beyond that, it's just plain fucking offensive to ordinary people. It's one thing to complain about paying taxes when those taxes are buying a bag of groceries once a month for some struggling single mom in eastern Kentucky. But when your taxes are buying a yacht for some asshole who hires African eight year-olds to pick cocoa beans for two cents an hour ... I sure don't remember reading an excuse for that anywhere in the Federalist Papers.

Meet the new boss

Same as the old boss.

(with apologies to The Who)

Do the Dems really think they can ignore scandal in their own house just because they won the midterms?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Their terrorists support our fascists

Big surprise:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A New York man accused of trying to help terrorists in Afghanistan has donated some $15,000 to the House Republicans' campaign committee over three years.

Read the whole story here.

Irony really isn't dead.

Cheney's other offfspring

Well, kind of. His son in law has been working overtime in the DOJ and and the Office of Budget and Management and the Department of Homeland Security to help corporate interests dodge the necessity of increasing security at their facilities.

Salon paints a good (or bad) picture here.

While the press salivated about Mary Cheney's new infant, they ignored this fun information;

As the Washington Monthly reveals in its current issue, Perry has
spent the past few years at DHS obstructing federal and state
regulation of the nation's chemical industry, which still remains
vulnerable to a devastating terrorist attack -- and which has paid
millions of dollars to Latham & Watkins, the Washington law firm
where he has been a partner and lobbyist, earning as much as $700,000
a year. (Having just resigned from Homeland Security last month,
Perry could soon return to Latham, thus completing his third circuit
through the revolving door.)

Perry's crowning achievement in the months before he quit the federal
government is a set of laws and regulations that permit chemical
manufacturers to decide whether and how to improve the notoriously
lax security at their plants. Last fall, with Perry overseeing the
legislative process, Congress passed a feeble bill that was supposed
to force reform before a disaster occurs. The hardworking Perry made
sure that the bill was rendered even more toothless when he and his
staff set up the regulations to enforce it. Those rules include a
special provision designed to frustrate vulnerable states such as New
Jersey from passing stronger regulations, which will be preempted by
the weak federal law.

In an interview with the Washington Monthly, Sen. Frank Lautenberg,
D-N.J., furiously excoriated the Bush administration for coddling its
corporate friends. "In order to please their cronies in the chemical
industry, the Bush administration is willing to put the health and
safety of millions of people at risk," he said of Perry's handiwork.

The new McCarthy-ism

Simply amazing.

The face of blacklisting.

Another new toy

Powells Books here in Portland has a blog with daily updates. They link to reviews of current releases. They provide commentary on the show Lost. They have op-ed pieces by their staff. I linked up to the RSS feed and now I have one more really informative time-sink in my repertoire. Hours lost. Hours.

Friday, February 16, 2007

The "new" idolatry

This article in Counterpunch raises some good points. I think one of the most important quotes comes towards the end:

There is a sharp divide between a "deep green" look at the social nature of ecological problems and the "shallow green" approach of corporate environmentalism. Deep greens emphasize that America can improve its health and quality of life while manufacturing fewer objects and shortening the work week. Shallow greens are loathe to say anything about the need to produce less and flee from addressing moral and political dilemmas of a growth economy.

Shallow greens often accuse deeps of being uncompromising and refusing to accept small steps in the right direction. Mass transit shows the opposite to be true. While mass transit has negative aspects, it is a step in the right direction because it reduces the number of cars.

Don Fitz manages to express succinctly some of the main things that have been knocking around in my head about this topic. But his article raises a few very important questions. Primarily, how do we change the social landscape of the consumer-capitalist economy of the United States of America (or the entire first world even) by opting out of it's norms?

Examples of how you can live life without an automobile help illustrate the point, but they do little to actually reshape the communities where we live until more than the early adopters join in. How do we help people transition from car-dependency to pedestrian/bicycle-riding freedom? And a lower speed lifestyle inherently means a lower material wealth lifestyle by our current standards. Many people balk at the very suggestion that they give up the shiny toys even with the proof of very real health benefits from eschewing techno-wizardry.

And the science behind many of these diversions provides very real benefits in materials technology, deeper understanding of physical mechanics and medical advances. If we remove the consumer sector, how does the current technology development model adapt? Do we accept slower advances as part of the price?

Fun new car

This new car/cycle/trike hybrid doesn't solve the problem of everyone wanting their own auto, but it does reduce the amount of space needed for parking and operation.

More depressing thoughts

Found this on Daily Kos.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


I thought Tommy Franks was one of the good guys?

From the BBC:
Iraq invasion plan 'delusional'

The US invasion plan for Iraq envisaged that only
5,000 US troops would remain in Iraq by December
2006, declassified Central Command documents show.

The material also shows that the US military
projected a stable, pro-US and democratic Iraq by
that time.

The August 2002 material was obtained by the
National Security Archive (NSA). Its officials
said the plans were based on delusional

The US currently has some 132,000 troops in the violence-torn state.

'Completely unrealistic'

The documents - in the form of PowerPoint slides
- were prepared by the now-retired Gen Tommy
Franks and other top commanders at the time.

The documents were presented at a briefing in
August 2002 - less than a year before the US
invasion of Iraq in April 2003.

The commanders predicted that after the fighting
was over there would be a two- to three-month
"stabilisation" phase, followed by an 18- to
24-month "recovery" stage.

They projected that the US forces would be almost
completely "re-deployed" out of Iraq at the end
of the "transition" phase - within 45 months of

"Completely unrealistic assumptions about a
post-Saddam Iraq permeate these war plans," NSA
executive director Thomas Blanton said in a
statement posted on the organisation's website.

"First, they assumed that a provisional
government would be in place by 'D-Day', then
that the Iraqis would stay in their garrisons and
be reliable partners, and finally that the
post-hostilities phase would be a matter of mere
months'," Mr Blanton said.

"All of these were delusions," he added.

The NSA said it received the documents last
month, after making a request in 2004.

The NSA is an independent research institute at George Washington University.

It obtained the papers under the Freedom of Information Act.

Published: 2007/02/15 12:41:14 GMT


Just found my dream commuter

I found it at REI of all places. Novarra made the Fusion new for 2007. This bike has most of the items I want on a daily rider:

-7- or 8-gear internal hub on rear wheel
-fenders - though this can be added to most any bike)
-cargo rack - again, this can be added to most bikes)
-road tires - many hybrid bikes have the fatter mountain bike style tires. I like the lower rolling resistance of road tires that run about 80 psi inflation.
-internal brakes - so I don't have to clean the rims every night when it rains.

Had I great riches, I would buy the Opa from Jorg & Olif. The bike has style and practicality. And allure. But the price tag weighs in at more than twice what I'll pay for the Fusion.

What he said!

This rant by Joel Johnson over at Gizmodo hits the nail on the ever-so-obvious head.

Best quote:

Stop buying this crap. Just stop it. You don't need it. Wait a year until the reviews come out and the other suckers too addicted to having the very latest and greatest buy it, put up a review, and have moved on to something else. Stop buying broken products and then shrugging your shoulders when it doesn't do what it is supposed to. Stop buying products that serve any other master than you. Use older stuff that works. Make it yourself. Only buy new stuff from companies that have proven themselves good servants of their customers in the past. Complaining online about this stuff helps, but really, just stop buying it.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Not just a good idea...

Let's make it law. Sign's petition to Congress asking that they ban paperless voting machines in time for the 2008 elections. Takes 2 seconds.

Post a comment once you sign the petition, that way I can keep track. :)

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Frickin' Unbelievable...

So the last renewal of that masterpiece of civil rights detroying legislation, The Patriot (Unpatriotic) Act includes an interesting amendment. The amendment inserted by Arlen Specter (who denies ever having seen it prior to the interview asking about it!!!) moves the power of appointment of U.S. Attorneys from the Senate to the White House and removes the need for Senate confirmation.

U.S. Attorneys investigate and prosecute government malfeasance. They follow up on whistle blowing. They find out who got bribed by who or who leaked what and so on. And now they can be appointed by the President without Senate confirmation. I wonder who exactly benefits from this arrangement. Not the taxpayers. Not the Senate. Hmmmm.

See this article for more details.

Then go to the Senate page with contact forms for your Senators and send them an email or call them about this amazing travesty. Urge them to revoke this transfer of powers as rapidly as possible.

And then email everyone you know to do the same thing.

This is really big. This provision undermines one of the most fundamental safeguards to the integrity of government. Even if you don't believe that an email can make a difference, spend 5 minutes and send one anyway. Here's a sample letter you can use:

The hidden clause in the Patriot Act that transfers power of appointment for US Attorneys to the White House is unconscionable. I urge you to introduce a bill to revoke this usurpation of Senate authority. The ability to pack US Attorney positions with partisan hacks backing the White House agenda subverts the entire legal process in the government. Appointment of handpicked cronies to a position that monitors and polices the government for abuse of power and corruption leaves our entire Republic vulnerable. Please make the reversal of this tragic provision one of your highest priorities in the coming months.

Thank you,
Your constituent,

We can take our government back.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Late start

Rolled out of bed a little bit late this morning. Even with that, I managed to eat breakfast, walk the dogs (a 30 to 40 minute process) and get out the door on my bike by 8:15. Then I nearly set a personal record for my commute to work - 37 minutes. I was just screamin' along. Good way to start the morning. A little cardio. A little adrenaline. A little movement.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Tastes like chicken

Sunday night I bought an 8 piece box of fried chicken. I haven't had fried chicken for 3 or 4 years now. Generally I eat a pretty balanced diet. Lots of fresh fruits and veggies. Pasta and beans and rice as starches. Lean meats. And I like the way I eat.

I took 3 days to polish off the box. I enjoyed every second of picking the bones clean and gnawing at bits of fried flour and meat, and I'm set for another 3 or 4 years. But really, fried chicken tastes so good and is so bad for you I really don't see how it ain't illegal yet.