Wednesday, January 31, 2007
gops complained they weren't allowed to offer amendments to house joint resolution 20.
dems say gops blew their chance last year, because HJRes20 is really nine spending bills totalling over $460B that the last congress didn't get round to passing to complete the current budget, leaving a mess to be resolved by the new majority.
tho gen david petraeus favors the "surge" and most senators oppose it, they confirmed him 81-0 as commander in iraq.
on its face that sounds contradictory, so c-span began the week by asking washington journal viewers to phone in or eml their opinions on whether the senate is sending a mixed message.
it certainly looks mixed, but good strategic reasons argue in favor of dems voting as they did.
if and when a bigger force fails to stabilize iraq, they don't want bush to be able to point the finger of blame at them for not giving him the general he wanted.
he asked them to give the supposedly new strategy a chance. as jon stewart says, everybody deserves a seventh chance. but this chance hangs from a gallows, and it's all the rope mr compassion needs.
george w still appears to be acting as if he thinks he's in a comic book, but when this particular spiderman finally wakes, he'll find he's in the real world, the ink on the page is human lives, and he's become tangled in his own web.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
henry waxman's house committee on oversight and govt reform is holding hearings on political interference with govt climate scientists.
witnesses have been testifying about hundreds of documented cases of white house alteration or suppression of scientific reports that failed to toe the party line.
preliminary conclusion: during the past 5 years the bush administration has distorted scientific information to foist on the public an agenda that protects short-term interests of a handful of corporations at the expense of the health and safety not only of this country but of the entire planet.
• Attacks kill 58 on Shiites' holiest day
• Hamas, Fatah swap hostages in ceasefire deal
• Litvinenko's photo used in Russian forces' target practice [not dead enough yet?]
• Judith Miller's testimony contradicts Libby's story
• Economists give Bernanke high marks for first year at Fed
• Eiffel Tower to turn off lights in energy campaign
• Somali leader agrees to reconciliation
• Court rejects Japanese 'war orphan' suit
• British gas guzzlers to pay more to park
• Shiites throughout Mideast mark holy day
• More money sought to aid Darfur refugees
• Stolen scooter enlivens French politics
• Northern Ireland faces March 7 election
· Sen. Joseph Biden (D-De) To File Papers for Presidential Run
· Pres. Bush Directs $86.4M to Aid Palestinian Security Forces
· Pres. Bush Proposes to Balance Federal Budget Within Five Years [o'course, if he doesn't succeed, he'll be accountable. ri-i-ight!]
· Court Reinstates Terrorism Charge Against Jose Padilla [just reading about it gives me PTSD.]
· Seven Tunnels Under Mexican Border Remain Unfilled
Women’s Orgasms Would Kill Men!!!
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Thursday, January 25, 2007
lieutenant ehren watada willing to go to afghanistan, but says iraq war illegal, so nuremberg precedent requires he refuse to obey orders to go there.
army says he can refuse to shoot but can't refuse to deploy and court-martials him.
judge rules entire defense inadmissable.
so much for fair trials.
so much for military law.
• Democrats wary of Iraq reconstruction cost
• Curfew imposed in Beirut after campus clashes
• NATO sending another combat brigade to Afghanistan
• Iraq insurgents post video of downed US civilian copter
• Russia silent on Georgian uranium sting
• North Carolina judge puts two executions on hold
• California bans utilities from buying dirty power
• Group wants flu shots required for US health workers
• Ex-Cheney spokesperson contradicts Libby
• Pentagon study narrows down Iraq options
this is reported as if for the first time, but the post actually already ran it 2 months ago, and npr repeated it the same day.
· Chertoff Warns World Will Get More Dangerous This Century
i wonder why...
· Educ. Dept. Makes Proposals to Improve Student Performance
what? you mean teaching to the test didn't work? gosh!
· UN Report Says Sea Levels to Rise Over Next 1000 Years
actually, that's "(human) carbon dioxide emissions will contribute to warming and sea level rise for more than a millennium..."
· US Motorists Drove Slightly Less in 2005
· Entertainment Execs Hosting Fundraisers for Sen. Obama (D-IL)
· Sen. McCain (R-AZ) Works on Bill to Set Benchmarks for Iraq
· White House Spokeswoman Testifies in CIA Leak Case
· Federal Health Panel Urges Approval of 5-in-1 Childhood Vaccine
· Russia To Build Four Civilian Nuclear Reactors in India
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
"But virtually nobody -- not even top CBO officials -- believes it."
· Bush Admin. to Ask for $1.6B for Renewable Energy Research
nice to know our govt officials are so well-informed, isn't it?
· Pres. Bush Orders Federal Gov't to Purchase Hybrid Vehicles
repeat comment above
· Senate Panle Confirms Gen. Petraeus as Commander in Iraq
· AP: Civilian Helicopter Crew in Iraq Shot Execution Style
finally figgered that out, eh? so what else is new?
• Russia reportedly delivers defense missiles to Iran
dat ol' axis o evil jus keep gettin bigga...
• US to pledge $770M in aid for Lebanon rebuilding
• Activists preparing for Iraq war protest in Washington, DC
• Europe snowstorms kill four, thousands stranded
• Japan conference aims to save declining tuna stocks
• 'Grey's Anatomy' actor begins therapy over anti-gay slur
serves'em right for naming a tv show after a textbook
Sunday, January 21, 2007
"They will go under investigation. If there is a case against them, they will go to the courts. If not, they will be freed," said a somali spokesman.
what? somalia doesn't have its own gitmo? they obviously need US aid. this is a job for AG gonzo!
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Friday, January 19, 2007
then again, how could i not? his tortuous, tangled, labyrinthine adumbrations, obfuscations, and obscurations befog, becloud, and mist over any possibility of finding meaning in his responses to questions. i don't know about your mind, but it boggles mine.
gonzo's virtually hermetically sealed, but not quite a black hole: once in a great while, a little light escapes. i actually heard two clear statements in his senate judiciary committee testimony thursday.
one was that the administration will get warrants when it eavesdrops. the other was that the AG still believes his president had proper authority to bypass the FISA-mandated procedure.
in other words, if on some indefinite future occasion the d cider d cides getting a warrant is more trouble than it's worth, it'll be a-ok by gonzo.
along similar lines, guidelines have been issued for "military commission" trials of accused "enemy combatants." evidence obtained by torture will be prohibited, but coerced testimony and hearsay evidence will be admitted.
a pentagon spokesman said the new
procedures contained in this manual will ensure that alien unlawful enemy combatants who are suspected of war crimes and certain other offenses are prosecuted before regularly constituted courts, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized people.by no coincidence, the last part of that appears in common article 3 of the geneva conventions, which prohibits "at any time and in any place whatsoever"
the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensible by civilized peoples.but coerced testimony and hearsay evidence will be admitted.
i can't help recalling some words traditionally attributed to abe lincoln:
If you call a tail a leg, how many legs has a dog? Five? No; calling a tail a leg don't make it a leg.
well, yes and no. forbes was right in principal, but he flunked the math. the same is true of dick armey.
if we're crediting flat tax pioneers, let's not forget jerry brown, who proposed one 4 years before forbes and armey. from the little i've read about it, it was even dumber than the gop plans. in any case, it fell by the wayside when brown lost the dem nomination to clinton.
both forbes' and armey's plans would've shot the federal deficit out of the solar system, because both picked their rates out of thin air for political purposes instead of computing one that made sense, but a flat (i.e., single-rate) tax could simplify the federal income tax structure and balance the budget if the rate were set high enough, and it would be truly progressive if most loopholes were eliminated and the standard deduction were made big enough. (the same principle applies to estate taxes.)
anyone who's given sufficient thought to the idea knows that's true. it's really no mystery.
what's mysterious is that neither major party has backed such a plan: a standard deduction high enough to exempt more than half the population would win a lot of votes.
then again, rich people would oppose it. you know who i mean, right? they're the ones who never say "rich." they say "wealthy." they have more money than everybody else. way more. over 70% of US personal income goes to 40% of families. that leaves less than 30% to be divided among 60% of us.
most of that 60% are hard-working folk who will never get an equal share because their ancestors didn't make a timely investment in an eventually successful venture.
riches therefore appear to result from chance in most cases. any seeming unfairness in that gets compounded when government shows favoritism to the rich.
the lower your income, the bigger the fraction you spend on the necessities of life. any tax you pay leaves you less to spend. any tax everyone pays at the same rate disproportionally lowers the spending ability of many who can least afford it.
that's called a regressive tax, and it's why we have progressive income taxes.
progressive taxes take less from those with less and more from those with more. there are at least two possible types: graduated and single-rate.
a graduated progressive tax applies higher rates to higher groupings of income. for example, the first $15k might be taxed at a 10% rate, the next $45k at 15%, the next $60k at 25%, &c. the US tax code combines that sort of formula with deductions and exemptions, partly to augment progressivity, partly to alleviate hardship, partly to encourage socially desirable behavior, partly so politicians can gain popularity.
a flat tax uses one rate, but it can be made progressive by exempting a portion. it's a continuous sliding scale.
for example, if the tax rate is 40% and $50k is exempt, no one pays any tax on the first $50k of income, and the government takes 40 cents of each additional dollar. the actual tax percent of gross income for $60k is 6.67%, for $100k 20%, $200k 30%, $500k 36%, &c. the 40% of gross income limit is never actually reached, because the increments keep shrinking.
the US government analyzes economic data and looks for trends. if we had a progressive flat tax law that required setting a standard deduction at a level that exempts families that earn the lowest 30% of aggregate income, it would be fairly simple for congress to make small annual rate adjustments to balance the budget or stimulate the economy as needed.
most gops won't go for that, because it would take more from the rich. gops favor the rich because they've got it firmly entrenched in their brains that everyone gets paid what they deserve, plus the rich do the investing that stimulates the economy, so keeping their taxes low lets them keep what they earn and keeps the economy healthy.
unfortunately, tax cuts for the rich mainly stimulate only financial investment. they don't stimulate investment in the capital assets needed to produce goods and services. rising sales stimulate that kind of investment, and sales rise when consumers have more money to spend.
tax cuts that go mostly to the rich are great for stockbrokers and the dow jones average, but at best they give a minor boost to the economy. that's why the recovery from the 2001 recession has been so gradual as compared, say, to the recovery of the '90s, which followed a hike on the top tax bracket.
the idea that the rich deserve their riches because they work hard is absurd. manual laborers work harder, especially those with two or more jobs. why does bill gates deserve to have so much more than mauchly and eckert, who invented the computers that made gates rich?
tho there are exceptions, the rich really do get richer. that's because the economic and political systems provide a climate that helps wealth expand. rich people have benefitted disproportionally, so why shouldn't they give back to society disproportionally, both thru charity and taxes?
as to why dems haven't supported a progressive flat tax, well, maybe they hesitate because they can't imagine what they'd do for an encore.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
8 November 2006 Volcanic aerosol clouds and gases lead to ozone destruction
19 October 2006 NASA and NOAA Announce Ozone Hole is a Double Record Breaker
3 October 2006 2006 Antarctic ozone hole is most serious on record
2 October 2006 Record ozone loss during 2006 over South Pole
28 September 2006 Upper Stratospheric winds increase ozone-depleting gases
22 September 2006 Antarctic ozone hole nears record: UN agency
Monday, January 15, 2007
Friday, January 12, 2007
· Gov't Posts Record $44.5 Billion Budget Surplus for December
· Retail Sales Rise Seasonally Adjusted 0.9 Percent in December
· British PM Blair Urges Successors Not To Turn to Isolationism
· Defense Sec. Gates: Plan in Iraq Could Lead to Troop Withdrawal
it's not a charge you hear every day. it got my attention, tho i've already forgotten if the accuser was tom cole or john boehner or some other guy i may've heard interviewed on npr.
the context was that the party he criticized wanted to pass a nonbinding resolution against the iraq war. he said that if they're against the war they ought to cut off funding, not make a hypocritical symbolic gesture.
that from a man whose party led us to war with false evidence and scare tactics, a caucus whose recent leaders include a man under indictment for money laundering and another who, 4 months after the invasion, said
...we do know that Saddam Hussein possessed, even today, that it’s there, barrels, as a matter of fact tons, of plutonium, some of it this yellow cake plutonium from Niger....now i don't expect everybody to see what's incongruous about that, but let's see if you can reconcile the charges of hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty with the fact that the accuser's leader until a week or so ago—a man "2 heartbeats from the presidency"—didn't know yellow cake plutonium doesn't exist!
what's so intellectually honest about choosing one leader so ignorant and another so unethical?
where's the integrity in building support thru a college organization that recruited members and raised funds by plagiarizing a general patton speech with the word "nazi" changed thruout to "democrat"?
how sincere is it to continually conceal an agenda behind shibboleths like "clear skies," "colorblindness," and "right to life," that imply something other than what they're really about?
i have this theory—well, not theory, actually, more conjecture, but, after all, don't billions of people follow faiths based largely on the mere supposition of a supernatural reality?—that the guys we see banging gavels and signing laws aren't always the ones making the real decisions that affect our lives, that the guys calling the shots often shield themselves from the enormous risks of power by putting essentially ignorant stooges up front to take the heat if something goes wrong.
and things did go wrong, didn't they?
trying to excuse the driver, i concluded—nonjudgmentally—that he might just have his head up his ass.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
yes. you read it right. billion with a B.
the bill passed the house by 145 votes and the senate by 61, so the change of party isn't enough to repeal it. it'll take a change of mind.
• Bush troop plan faces challenge of public support
• Sudan leader says UN forces not needed in Darfur
• Pelosi bans smoking near House floor
• EU says Russia, Belarus close to oil deal
• Brain scans may help predict shoppers' choices
• Japan school to give chopstick aptitude test
· White House Budget Director Says Balanced Budget Possible
· Speaker Pelosi Says Surge Would Threaten Military Readiness
· LA Times: Anti-War Activists Pressuring Democrats on Iraq
· Wash Post: Ex-Deputy Interior Sec. a Target of Abramoff Probe
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
· Former VA Gov. Gilmore Forms Presidential Exploratory Cmte.
· Bloomberg Criticizes Antiterrorism Fund Distribution Formula
· Four Appeals Court Nominees Ask to Withdraw Nominations
· 2006 Declared Warmest Year in US History
· Gov. Sonny Perdue (R-GA) Plans to Crack Down on Meth Use
• Suspected al-Qaida in Somalia attacked
• Bangladesh police clash with protesters in capital
• Murder rate doing 'real damage' to New Orleans' recovery
• US health-care spending hits nearly $2 trillion
Monday, January 08, 2007
i truly resent folk who play games with human lives. word games are no exception, and frank luntz is the amoral genius behind a lot of bloodshed.
i don't know if luntz gave curious george the idea to say "surge," but it's the kind of word he might've thought of as a rhetorical device to generate support for a troop buildup.
it sounds vaguely comforting, like gentle waves roll in, then swell into a surge, then go out again.
but the surge isn't the part going out, only the increase, so "troop surge" doesn't necessarily imply they'll leave anytime soon. we may just be talking about escalation, not redeployment.
and don't forget how else we use the word. a power surge can blow out your pc. a storm surge can destroy a city. neither thought is in any way comforting.
you guard against one by plugging a surge protector into your electric outlet. you guard against the other by running like hell.
· Pres. Bush to Nominate Zalmay Khalilzad As UN Envoy
· Commander in Iraq Says Stability Could Be Years Away
· Over 17,000 Civilians, Police Died in Iraq in Latter Half of '06
· Sen. Inouye (D-HI) Says Sen. Obama Should Wait for WH Bid
• Bush picks Fred Fielding as White House counsel
• More Guantanamo detainees join hunger strike
• Basque party leader urges ETA to maintain peace
• Nine slain in New Orleans in first eight days of 2007
• 150th anniversary of little-known Calif. quake remembered
• NY fashion group to issue guidelines on skinny models
Thursday, January 04, 2007
But let's be clear. If the court decides to strike down the Seattle and Louisville plans, it will not have resolved any "ambiguity" in Brown. Brown unambiguously held that racial apartheid has no place in public schools or elsewhere in public life. The justices who decided Brown and their successors who enforced Brown saw no constitutional equivalence between race-conscious efforts to segregate and race-conscious efforts to integrate public schools.
A contrary holding would mark a novel application of colorblindness in contemporary doctrine—but a regrettable departure from the meaning of Brown.
If the justices rule them unconstitutional, the tenuous advance of equal opportunity could be undermined or even reversed.
still wants to be US citizen after abuse of his rights (for which he's suing govt)
Seattle case raises questions about war on terror
phones FBI from somalia, says he jumped bail, bye-bye
Humanitarian aid: winning the terror war
navy doing something right
Give habeas a chance
darlin' arlen won't wait for court to "clean up" his bad vote after all
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
starting the new year right!
george walker bush's share of the texas rangers baseball franchise was less than one percent of the purchase price (before anyone could know his political future), but he got about 6 percent of the sale 9 years later (when governor and about to run for president). the average investor made almost 200 percent profit. george walker bush made more than 2000 percent, over 12 times the average, or a bit more than $13 million above his fraction of the investment.
that means other investors voluntarily took cuts in their shares of profit.
how is that possible? i don't get it.
G W Bush's share of Texas Rangers baseball team franchise 1989-1998_______ _total_ _____Bush_______
purchase . $86M $606,302 (0.71%)
sale .... $250M . $14.9M (5.96%)
profit ... 191% .. 2358% (>12x)
guess we just got lucky two months ago, eh?
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
i really didn't need to hear denny hastert parrot the platitudinous wound-binding crap.
except for diehard nixonians, this country got all the healing it needed the night tricky dick resigned.
i feel perfectly ok saying again that prosecution, conviction, and punishment—even if only a few months' house arrest—might have provided the best possible preventive medicine against the kind of constitution defilement we've suffered these last years.
a bit late, ain't it?
Bush 'to reveal Iraq troop boost'
you've got to see this head shot of bush!
Dems to inherit agenda dominated by war
does that mean it'll be like nixon's first 4 years all over again?
Iraq says 12,000 civilians killed in 2006
but the UN says it's twice that...
With Iraq War Come Layers of Loss
and not just for iraqis
Funding the Iraq war on the QT
just one of the ways they hide the real size of the deficit
Poll shows support for Democrats' goals
i think that means they don't have to give d cider all he wants...
What about a war for democracy here?
c-span regularly describes book tv weekends as 48 hours of nonfiction book events, but apparently they make exceptions.
in the last seven months former gop senator and clinton cabinet officer bill cohen has been granted three separate opportunities to promote his novel, dragon fire: a 1-hour talk and two short interviews. lucky him.
this weekend i finally listened long enough to get a brief plot summary: a couple guys conspire to commit acts of terror and make them look like accidents.
imagine! a secretary of defense who has no grasp of the objective of terrorism.
at least now i know rummy's not unique.
for those of you scratching your heads, let me put it this way:
9/11 was terrorism and katrina wasn't, right? think of how the feds dealt with them.
post-9/11 the world changed, it's a whole new kind of war, we need to fight'em there so we don't have to fight'em here, we need stronger homeland security and border security, you get tapped if you talk on the phone with anyone outside the country suspected of having terrorist ties, anyone someone decides is an enemy combatant gets locked up indefinitely without lawyer or hearing and often gets treated very badly and sent to another country and/or tortured or maybe if lucky a military trial in cuba of all places, if you enter the US illegally or overstay your visa you get called an invader, we intimidate and threaten and attack anyplace we think aids terrorists or might make a weapon we fear, crusade, you're either with us or with terrorists, WMD, freedom fries, preemption, they hate us because they hate freedom, a liberation not an occupation, flip-flop, swiftvet, ketchup king, abu ghraib, gitmo, waterboard, warrantless eavesdrop, extraordinary rendition, signing statement, stay the course, cut and run, troop surge....
you think anyone would ever suggest the govt overreacted to katrina?
not likely, right?
that's why a terrorist wants us to know an attack is no accident.
not to be confused with new yahoo, which is sad, very sad.... :(