Tuesday, January 31, 2006
yesterday i suggested the complexity of the medicare prescription drug program makes me suspect they're trying to put something over on us, but i didn't say what, because i had no idea.
today, thanks to a washington journal caller, i have a possibility:
they're trying to break medicare!think about it:
- the gops historically have opposed any kind of government involvement in health care.
- they call it "socialized medicine," trying to make it sound communistic.
- the new program got passed in the wee hours of the morning after hours of arm-twisting.
- it's going to cost at least twice what was claimed by its sponsors.
- and, of course, it's so complicated it's driving seniors crazy, so they don't sign up.
People born in the Year of the Dog possess the best traits of human nature. They have a deep sense of loyalty, are honest, and inspire other people's confidence because they know how to keep secrets. But Dog People are somewhat selfish, terribly stubborn, and eccentric. They care little for wealth, yet somehow always seem to have money. They can be cold emotionally and sometimes distant at parties. They can find fault with many things and are noted for their sharp tongues. Dog people make good leaders. They are compatible with those born in the Years of the Horse, Tiger, and Rabbit.
Monday, January 30, 2006
it sounds common for folk to get put on hold for an hour when seeking info.
most outrageous: a caller with a PhD took 100 hours to research the best plan for her mother and disabled brother. when she got to the point of feeding the final data into the computer, it crashed repeatedly.
i've heard we have over 50 different plans here in pennsylvania. i heard of a much smaller state that has 40 some.
like i've said before, when are these politicos going to figure out too many choices is no choice at all?
but i'll go further:
anything that complicated is bound to make you suspect it's that way on purpose. why would they make it so hard to figure out if they're not trying to put one over on you?
but i can't resist pointing out that some of the state of the union is quite predictable.
like, da prez will
• squint a lot so as not to smirk
• brag about the economy and iraq's elections
• repeat his call for medical savings accounts and making his tax cuts permanent
• talk again about the importance of developing new energy-saving technologies like hydrogen fuel cells, but won't ask congress to fund it
• defend eavesdropping again, but won't give any meaningful reason it has to be warrantless, because he doesn't want to admit the program is fruitless and the NSA runs too many taps for arabic translators to listen to within 72 hours; and, of course, he'll use the "terrorist threat" to justify it and any other lawbreaking he does
• depending on what happens today, either congratulate the senate for confirming sam alito or lecture them on their (fictional) constitutional obligation to give him an up-or-down vote, and
• not admit he's destroying america.
tweedleden and tweedledick will stand behind him leading the gop side of the aisle in a record-setting number of orchestrated standing ovations while the dems sit on their hands.
my favorite caller to washington journal this morning said he's a republican who has no complaints about his party, but he hopes bush will say nothing, "so i'll know he's not lying to me again."
i'm hoping he'll change the world with those 2 magic words "i resign."
in yesterday's washington times, oliver north wrote that the economy grew at a 4.1% rate in the last quarter of 2005, that unemployment is down to 4.9%, and that our casualty rates in iraq have fallen since a year ago. in other words, bush is doing great.
There are 3 kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.
—Benjamin Disraeli, quoted in Mark Twain's Autobiography
unfortunately, the official version of GDP growth is actually 1.1%, not 4.1. unemployment is indeed down compared to bush's high but up compared to when he took office. (4.0% at the end of 2000.) the number wounded may be down, but by some weird coincidence 2005's deaths almost exactly matched 2004.
my question is, does ollie really believe what he says, or is he intentionally misleading his readers, because this looks suspiciously like the kind of disinformation that keeps folk ignorant and ripe for exploitation, and ollie north is just the kind of guy who could come up with it.
i don't want to make this into an ad hominem, but you recall ollie, right?
here's a compilation of iran-contra events i got from my ragged 1997 world almanac [in brackets] and relatively pristine 2002 time almanac:
• world court rules US broke international law in mining nicaraguan waters(jun 27)
• [press reports nov 6 broke first news of iran-contra scandal, involving secret US sale of arms to iran]
• secret initiative to send arms to iran revealed (nov 6 et seq)
• reagan denies exchanging arms for hostages and halts arms sales (nov 19)
• diversion of funds from arms sales to nicaraguan contras revealed (nov 25)
• [public hearings by senate and house committees investigating iran-contra affair held may-aug. lt col oliver north said he had believed all his activities were authorized by his superiors. pres reagan, aug 12, denied knowing of funds' diversion to contras.]
• oliver north jr tells congressional inquiry higher officials approved his secret iran-contra operations (jul 7-10)
• adm john m poindexter, former national security adviser, testifies he authorized use of iran arms sale profits to aid contras (jul 15-22)
• sec of state george p shultz testifies he was deceived repeatedly on iran-contra affair (jul 23-24)
• defense sec caspar w weinberger tells inquiry of official deception and intrigue (jul 31, aug 3)
• reagan says iran arms-contra policy went astray and accepts responsibility (aug 12)
• robert c mcfarlane, former national security adviser, pleads guilty in iran-contra case (mar 11)
• [former national security council staff member oliver north became first person, may 4, convicted in a jury trial in connection with iran-contra scandal]
• US jury convicts north in iran-contra affair (may 4)
• US appeals court overturns north's conviction (jul 20)
• [iran-contra case against oliver north "terminated," with all charges dropped, sep 16]
• caspar w weinberger indicted in iran-contra affair (jun 16)
• bush pardons former reagan administration officials involved in iran-contra affair (dec 24)
near the start reagan called north a hero. somewhere along the line i believe they publicly called each other liars.
ollie later said he'd been "exonerated," which startled some folk who knew the conviction had merely been thrown out on a technicality.
see, before ollie went before congress, he negotiated a highly sophisticated immunity agreement that shielded him against use of his testimony to prosecute him. then, when he testified, he made sure he slipped in a lot of stuff that wasn't relevant to the questions he got asked. his appeal lawyers were able to show some important evidence used in his trial was inadmissible under the immunity pact. the justice dept at first meant to retry the case but eventually decided so much evidence was tainted that pursuing retrial was likely to be a waste of taxpayers' money.
so, strictly speaking, both exonerate and absolve are accurate, but neither exculpate nor vindicate would be, if you get my drift.
and ollie north, media star, seems to be living on the flip side of "no good deed goes unpunished."
Saturday, January 28, 2006
in view of the election victories by the shi'a in iraq and hamas in palestine, a panelist, peter baker of the washington post, on last night's washington week said bush's drive to spread democracy round the world has become "a case study in the law of unintended consequences."
Friday, January 27, 2006
Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind?And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded with patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader, and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
War: The imposition of, or attempt to impose will by one political entity upon another regardless of, and frequently at the cost of the will of the other.
(Derived from von Clausewitz)
[found on amazon.com]
so i guess that means, say, stealing an election would be war against the electorate....
whether we know it or not, we teach by example.
some set a good example. some, a bad example. some, both, at different times.
examples set by widely known folk have the broadest reach.
generally, breaking a law sets a bad example.
when a leader breaks a law, children will learn of it.
is setting a bad example for children a family value?
have you noticed how the right-wing attacks michael moore and barbra streisand all the time but never jon stewart or george carlin or bill maher?
i think it's because fimmakers and movie stars don't make many public appearances, so they're safe, easy targets who can be counted on not to hit back too hard or too often.
political comics, on the other hand, are out there a lot, and they've got quick wits and sharp tongues.
it's the difference between chicken-guts and rubber chicken, or iraq and north korea.
the chicken-guts right is scared to take them on.
google has agreed to china-wide censorship of access to sites that discuss things govt doesn't want citizens to know.
google accepted the condition because it wouldn't have been allowed into china otherwise.
i can understand that. restricted web searches are better than none at all. the agreement also keeps google safe from the ethical bind yahoo found itself in when beijing demanded the identity of a user who then got imprisoned.
but i still find it troubling.
people have a right to know what's going on in the world. if they don't, how can they make informed decisions? if any govt keeps its people ignorant, the country will be backward, no matter how strong the economy. eventually no one will have sufficient knowledge of the suppressed information, and well-informed citizens will become so rare they'll have too few qualified individuals to lead later generations.
it doesn't bode well for china's future.
is that really what they want?
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: 'I don't really understand. How is the new plan going to fix the problem?'
PRESIDENT BUSH: 'Because the—all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculated, for example, is on the table. Whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those—changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be—or closer delivered to that has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the—like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate—the benefits will rise based upon inflation, supposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those—if that growth is affected, it will help on the red.'
Forward this to others—so they, too, can understand....
Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
i'm pretty sure the majority of callers said they don't want to give up liberty to make it easier for the government to protect them, but quite a few said security trumps everything else.
none seemed fully aware they disagreed with franklin.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
• he'll follow the law—as if he would say otherwise—and agrees with 300 million other americans that no one is above the law—as if he would say otherwise,and
• his wife cries.how reassuring.
the outcome of it was what?: the judges they opposed got confirmed.
and what did they get in return?: cheney didn't use the "nuclear option."
was avoiding the "nuclear option" really that vital?
i say give cheney his head and all the rope he can take. let the people see him wield his raw power as nakedly as he wants. let him rewrite the senate's rules and precipitate his constitutional crisis.
then make it an article of his impeachment.
after that quick, easy, cheap triumph, elder bush exulted. if memory serves, he crowed "by god, we've kicked the vietnam syndrome once and for all!"
in the next few years his successor got branded a draft dodger and attacked as a traitor for taking part in an antiwar demo on foreign soil during his school days.
that gave but a hint of vicious things to come. 2004 confirmed that 41 had spoken way too soon, as old resentments vigorously bloomed anew and not so swift vets and nonvets climbed aboard the sinking ship of this warfare state, fighting here so we can keep fighting there so we don't have to fight here.
has anybody noticed they're using the same tactics they used 3 years ago to whip up support for invading iraq?
sure, the arguments are different, and the metaphors have changed, but the essence is the same: back us or die!
maybe the c-span caller i heard today had something when he said 9/11 was bush's reichstag fire.
Monday, January 23, 2006
he insisted that domestic spying was limited to international communications that had at least one party involved with al qaeda or an affiliate.
but he sidestepped the key question posed by bruce fein the other day:
if they had the evidence, why didn't they just go to the FISA court and get a rubber stamp?
that would've prevented the whole controversy and subsequent loss of public confidence.
until now da prez had to take the heat. the white house may've ordered the briefing to divert attention into criticism of the NSA.
it's a very subtle way of passing the buck.
hayden may've made a strategic error by going along with it.
announcement of ford assembly plant closings reminds me this is the 4th straight month [links: 1, 2, 3] i've said something about how detroit fools and manipulates its workers with fear of job loss.
the fact that they've been able to do it so easily and so effectively for so many decades tells us at least 2 things:
1) workers have for a long time lacked confidence in their own resilience and in the US economy's ability to keep them employed and create new jobs;
2) if they can get away with it with a group as savvy as UAW members, they can do it to anybody.
point #1 comes from:
• actual direct or indirect experience of insecurity, such as recessions, inflation (especially in cost of critical necessities like food, health, fuel, housing, &c), big layoffs, high interest rates, falling real wages, &c, and
• corporate strategies that build on and promote those feelings of insecurity, often by using racism or other phobias to divide workers against each other.
point #2 is a result of americans' failure to learn to think critically and strategically.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
the one on domestic spying the other day was exceptional, tho. as usual, no gop congress members showed, but—unlike similar events i've seen before—a couple witnesses came who almost always side with gops: bruce fein and jonathan turley.
the main issue, as you must know, is why does da bugger prez insist on allowing electronic spying without a judge's order even tho the law lets him wait before going to the secret court to ask for a warrant (which almost never gets refused) up to 3 days after the NSA initiates the tap?
fein slipped in a pithy summary near the end, which i paraphrase: if he had the evidence [that the tapped calls involved al qaeda members or supporters] why didn't he just go to the FISA court and get the rubber stamp?
i still wonder what they thought and felt when they heard the 1980 reagan campaign made a deal to prevent their release before the election.
yes, folks, in case you hadn't heard, the gop 1980 october surprise hostage fix conspiracy theory turned out to be true.
Saturday, January 21, 2006
to do any of the above he must override the law and constitutional checks and balances vested in congress and the courts.
it is highly unlikely his majority party will do anything to stop him.
all that stands in his way is the next congressional election—in other words: the people!
but how do we, the people, stop him from canceling the election?
Friday, January 20, 2006
I'm gonna wait till the midnight hour,
That's when my love comes tumblin' down,
I'm gonna wait till the midnight hour,
A when there's no one else around.
I'm gonna take you girl and hold ya,
And do all the things I told ya,
In the midnight hour - Oh baby, yes I am.
I'm gonna wait till the stars come out,
And start to twinkle in your eye,
I'm gonna wait till the midnight hour,
That's when my love begins to shine.
You're the only girl I know,
That really loves me so,
In the midnight hour.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
the message is lost on lazy viewers who don't bother to read graphics but do hear the judge's voice and perceive him to be sincere and a "nice guy."
tho specifics vary, public support for alito's confirmation may be typified by a washington journal caller who chewed out the host for asking how a justice alito might vote: "judges don't vote. they make decisions."
no, with apologies to cj john roberts, judges really aren't like baseball umpires: they do vote. that's how decisions get made when more than one judge is involved.
i don't know if that caller's ignorance is her own fault or caused by poor schools, but it's a shame either way, because our liberty and justice both depend on informed decisions by citizens.
incidentally, some pro-alito callers seem to think the best defense of alito is a good ad hominem offense against ted kennedy (using his college record and chappaquiddick). all i can say to them is it's not up to you, no matter what he did in the 1950s and '60s. massachusetts voters keep sending kennedy back to the senate. if you don't like it, move there and vote against him. he's up for reelection this year.
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
i can't change the last one, so i'll just point out that when the gop hypocrites claim the clinton admin did the same thing as bush, the law was different and not changed till later.
al gore started out with domestic surveillance—as advertised—but then branched out to discuss torture, lack of accountability, lack of meaningful congressional oversight, abuse of power, the "unitary executive" theory, the "government of laws" in jeopardy, the current constitutional crisis, and related subjects. he didn't use the "i" word, but he specifically charged bush with lawbreaking.
his stature's definitely grown in my eyes since 2000.
the white house counterattacked, of course, but got their facts wrong.
looks an awful lot like gore's hat's in the '08 ring, folks.
classifying one document costs $462.
90% of the world's executions take place in just 4 countries: china, north korea, iran, and the good ol' usa.
by the late 1990s and until 2001, fema was the best-run agency in government.
the hart-rudman commission on national security did a 2½-year study and in january 2001 made recommendations to the incoming bush administration on methods to deal with terrorism. the white house turned it over to fema, then began to gut the agency.
Sunday, January 15, 2006
Gary Hart God and Caesar in America
John Perkins Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
Page Talbott, ed. Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World
Craig Crawford Attack the Messenger: How Politicians Turn You Against the Media
Saturday, January 14, 2006
Friday, January 13, 2006
UPI: U.S. Seeking Arab Peacekeepers in Iraq
U.S. Commander: Recent Attacks in Iraq Are Not al-Qaida
Clinton Foundation Negotiates Agreements on AIDS Drugs
Sen. Santorum Tops '06 Candidates in Lobbyist Contributions
Abramoff Ties Raise Problems for Doolittle (AP)
U.K. Says Sanctions Against Iran Possible, Not Military Action
Wash Times: U.S. Sends Additional Warplanes to Southwest Asia
RNC to Consider Resolution Opposing Bush Guest-Worker Plan
Spain to Sell Military Planes to Venezuela
Twelve States Oppose Bush Plan Revising Pollution Rules
CNET: 66 Lawmakers Use Tracking Technology on Their Websites
AP: Defense Team Outnumbered in Guantanamo Trials
Bush Admin. Asks Supreme Court to Avoid Detainee Ruling
US asks top court to dismiss Guantanamo case (Reuters)
Pres. Bush Rejects Proposal by German Leader to Close Guantanamo
FEMA Increases Count of People Displaced by Hurricanes
Labor Dept. Reports Wholesale Prices Rose 5.4% in 2005
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
what matters is whether anybody—journalist or prosecutor—has looked up "need-to-know" yet, because when they do they'll suddenly realize dark lord cheney violated national security regs when he told libby about valerie plame.
that may very well be a high crime &/or misdemeanor, and you know what that means....
if you don't see the above image, try pasting this url into your browser: http://www.indospectrum.com/10dimages/nyc2/cd031_03May04_nyc_wall_st_bull_0177.jpg
well, for the 3rd time in history, the dow is closing above 11k.
the first time was 6 years ago, the 2nd time 4½. both times a lot of people expected—and even predicted—that it would stay up there.
they were wrong.
sooner or later—assuming civilization survives—they'll be right.
i'm fairly confident of that because of my experience. back in the '90s i predicted the dow would hit 10k. i didn't say when. eventually i turned out to be right, of course.
it's a basic law of nature: given enough events, whatever can happen will happen.
that's $1 out of every $6 everybody—including government and business—spends on the final cost of all goods and services we buy in this country all year long.
i'm speechless. (does my health plan cover that?)
since i too oppose imprisoning, torturing, and killing folk for their beliefs, i suppose i should have been there with them.
i'll do my best to atone for my negligence the next time falwell santorum & co lynch a judge.
Sunday, January 08, 2006
Saturday, January 07, 2006
just maybe it was his weight, his age, and stress.btw, pat, when was the last time you had a brainscan?
unfortunately, tho the november figure was revised upward, 100k new jobs last month is too weak to support his claim of an economic boom (supposedly caused by those cuts, natch), plus the housing bubble may have burst, the trade deficit continues to set new records, where i shop a loaf of bread costs 33% more than a month ago, and the price of gasoline is going up again, not to mention natural gas.
is that why he tried to distance himself from pat robertson's latest episode of speaking for god?
jersey wants to hold off a commitment pending an environmental impact assessment—and with good reason: deepening the channel might slow the river's flow rate, letting seawater go further upstream. added salinity could harm sensitive ecosystems, not only in nj and pa, but in the state of delaware, which has 4 wildlife refuges along the river and bay.
what's the rush, rickie?
Thursday, January 05, 2006
but i encourage you to go back and express an opinion, and i'm going to try again today.
this one comes from about a decade ago. i was rummaging around in a bookshop in greenwich village. another customer spoke to me in a foreign accent. he asked me to recommend a book that would make him understand america.
i drew a blank. i mean i thought of a bunch of possibilities like moby dick, leaves of grass, the jungle, various books by mark twain, norman mailer, and others, but i couldn't come up with one that covered enough ground yet stood alone, without a background or context that had to include the bible, shakespeare, the declaration of independence, and more, so i gave up and told him i couldn't do it.
maybe i took his request too narrowly. he might've been willing to read 2 or 3 books, and i may've taken "a book" too literally. it's a bit late to think of that.
anyway, it came back to me last week when i thought of posting topics to discuss, and i also thought of an answer i'd overlooked: a collection of arthur miller's plays, if such a volume exists. his best-known dramas deal with issues still current and going back to early colonial times, and show the impact of public and work-related actions on relationships between individuals and within families, tho some important ground gets left uncovered. like, maybe i should've said the autobiography of malcolm x.
any other suggestions? your thoughts, please.
bush abuse of recess appointment provision shows constitution may be a suicide pact after all (link)
The Constitution is not a suicide pact.
—Justices Robert Jackson and Arthur Goldberg,
attributed to both
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
i agreed when bush critics said his claimed wartime power to override laws means he could sign a law limiting his power one day and ignore it the next—but i never expected him to push that envelope before the ink was dry.
that's really rubbing congress's collective nose in it.
this might not be a tactful time to say it, but, personally, i think he has a hole in his head, and not from the stroke. anybody with half a milliliter of common sense could foresee his unilateral gaza pullout would hand hamas a perfect opportunity to claim they'd forced israel out.
all he had to do to avoid giving them that propaganda ammo was to negotiate the withdrawal so the palestinian authority could claim it as their victory.
the best way to weaken hamas is to strengthen mahmoud abbas's hand.
it's easy to take the cynical view that he's only doing so to get a lighter sentence—and i'm sure that's part of it—but i'm convinced from seeing it up close that some folk forced to face their wrongs feel real shame and sincerely want to atone, so i give him the benefit of the doubt.
tom delay, on the other hand, appears entirely unrepentant. he's said to be the biggest recipient of abramoff payoffs—tho so far his indictments are unrelated—so it'll be interesting to see how it shakes out.
confession's good for the soul, tom.
then again, delay may really believe he did nothing wrong. i knew a guy who killed his ex-girlfriend and insisted he got framed. the usual assumption is that somebody in his shoes is lying, but i'm pretty sure he had no conscious memory of the deed. he normally got his way by force of personality and never resorted to physical brutality, so when he lost control and beat someone to death, he may very well have repressed it so deep it will take years to recall.
delay's different. he's a true believer in the gop cause. like a lot of folk, he's convinced it's best for this country to have gops run it, so anything they do to get power is justified and therefore should be legal. he used the dough to build gop power, not to buy houses and yachts, so that makes it ok in his mind. it means nothing to him that he deprived some texans of effective representation, because he really thinks they're better represented by gops.
it's essentially the same mentality that got us into the iraq mess: our system's best, so we have a right—no, a duty!—to impose it on others.
or should i say "supremacy"?
vladimir putin had used similar tactics against turkmenistan, and russia became the new head of the g-8 after promising to safeguard europe's energy supply, so putin's reliability comes into question, and he still comes out as the bad guy.
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
yes! the wardrum's sounding again!
and who's doing the beating? why, the same crazy, trigger-happy mfers as last time, o'course.
this time the target's iran, naturally. who else has a certifiably nuts leader and a nuke program but no nukes yet? who else can we tie to terrorists and has an army so weak that an army we crushed fought it to a standstill? who else have we surrounded on 3 sides (including water)? who else—other than ourselves—is run by fundamentalists? and don't forget that oil.
i luv a parade!
then there's the sandstorms. and surely at least as high a fraction of the people would resist us as in iraq, and iran has 3 times as many....
but that's ok, because those folk want to be free and will welcome us as liberators with hugs and flowers.
all we need's a little creative redeployment....