Covey was to break me, I was to break them; break and be broken–such is life

owlread.jpg

If you don't mind Java based desktop applications RSS Owl is a great free rss reader. A few minutes of clicking around the GUI and most folks should be ready to rss their way to information overload.

World's first beer health spa opens in Czech

London, Mar 28: A family brewery in the Czech Republic has opened the world’s first beer health centre in its cellar. The Chodovar Family brewery in Chodova Plana offers beer baths, beer massages and beer cosmetics.

As compared to here where anyone with a TV and three dollars sets up their own beer spa very Saturday and Sunday. And hey if you want to rub some beer on your face while watching the game just don't get any on the pile carpet.

The Enron Model of Irresponsible Capitalism

The Enron verdicts are one more blow to a new American model of capitalism already heavily criticized for its gross abuse of common-sense moral values.

The American economist Robert Lekachman has written (in the admirable "Harper Dictionary of Modern Thought") that "the ideology of capitalism makes an implicit assertion that inequalities of income and wealth measure, however roughly, the economic contributions of the men and women who embark their energies and resources in the productive process."

The new American economic and corporate model grotesquely departs from such a moral foundation, doing so in a way that suggests damaging ultimate consequences for society.

The usual defense of billion-dollar rewards for executives, for example, is the nihilistic one that the market settles business morality. That is, you get away with what you can.

The theoretical argument is that such rewards for managers are a necessary element in a modern system where creating value for investors generates prosperity for everyone. Wealth "trickles down." The rising tide lifts everyone.

This today is untrue. The globalized corporation identifies labor as usually its largest production cost, and its easiest cost to cut. This means that management regards itself as obliged to restrict to the maximum the "trickling down" of value to workers.

Sometimes as we're following stories in politics, the economy, science, sports, or popular culture we can get so immersed in minute details that some of the most obvious things fly by without notice. I don't read the various discussion boards as much as I used to, but one thing that I noticed was a tendency for some of the more progressive minded contributors to get a little tongue tied when it came to dealing with those that have passionately and wrongly embraced trickle down economics. Partly I think that is because the argument against trickle down is so obvious that progressives tend to think it is too self evident to spell out and maybe in part do to a lack of simple counter jingoisms with with to counter the far right's jingoisms. Trickle down didn't work for Reagan, the middle and working classes lost ground, yet the notion of it may have taken further root because, at least to some Reagan was likable. Part of Reagan's trickle down formula was big D deregulation. Even many who traditionally supported labor jumped on board the deregulation train with the notion that striping away all those regulations that protected consumers, investors, and the environment would mean more corporate profits which would translate into more jobs and better wages. Well here we are almost twenty years later and the poor and working class are still losing ground and the middle-class has been, for the foreseeable future locked into an economic box in which one foot is on the edge of a cliff; one wrong move and they're over the edge. Deregulation was not the key ( see Enron, Worldcom, Tyco, corporate profits, health care costs) and a perverse incarnation of capitalism that makes sure that the wealthiest Americans are taken care of wrapped in the doublespeak of "ownership society" is doing for American workers what the worship of deregulation did, absolutely nothing. Capitalism really only works when it is guided by a moral compass. Without that compass its like a car without breaks riding on bald retreads. I think there is a general fear, an underlying anxiety among the middle-class that they should not act, they should not rock the boat, that things can get worse. That fear is awful legacy to leave the next generation.
In a related piece in a diary over at Daily Kos, Catch-22 as prophecy: privatization vs. democracy that talks about how privatization, another right-wing panacea, which has proved deadly for the military that the far right conservatives claim to care so much about.

My fears were groundless. Their spree was over for the present, and the rascals now moved off as soberly as though their behavior had been natural and exemplary. On reaching the part of the forest where I had been, the day before, chopping wood, I filled the cart with a heavy load, as a security against another running away. But, the neck of an ox is equal in strength to iron. It defies all ordinary burdens, when excited. Tame and docile to a proverb, when _well_ trained, the ox is the most sullen and intractable of animals when but half broken to the yoke.

I now saw, in my situation, several points of similarity with that of the oxen. They were property, so was I; they were to be broken, so was I. Covey was to break me, I was to break them; break and be broken–such is life.

from My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass

they travel in a long circle like the loop of a lasso, whereas I was pointed as straight as a dart for the Hereafter

jewel goodbye.jpg
Jewel – Goodbye Alice in Wonderland

“I’m embarrassed to say / The rest is rock ’n’ roll cliché,” she sings, and these clichés suit her.

List of 1000 Jazz Standards

Here are this retired Navy veteran's thoughts on Memorial Day.

Our military might, on which we spend more that the defense budgets of the rest of the world combined, has been demonstrably ineffective at achieving America's foreign policy aims. We are, at present, engaged in a "generational war" that has no end in sight with an enemy that has no army, no navy, no air force, and no military budget whatsoever.

Just a snippet from Jeff Huber's essay and pretty sobering for those of us who are serious about getting terrorism down to a simmer rather then those consistantly taking the path that leads to just more of the same. OBL hardly has to lift a finger, the Bush cabal and his cheerleaders are doing a superlative job of squandering victory and extending hostilities to the middle of the century.

Audio book that you can download a chapter at a time, A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

General Hayden in Bush's Pocket

During his confirmation hearing, General Hayden displayed his deep concern for human rights—embodied in the international covenant against torture, which we have signed—when he was asked about these renditions. The administration repeatedly claims that before it outsources these suspects, it gets assurances from the participating nations that they will not torture the prisoners we send.

How, the general was asked, do we validate those assurances? His answer—which I've not seen in any of the coverage of the hearing—was: "Our judgment is whether the torture is less, rather than more, likely" in those countries. If we get more information to the contrary, he added, "we assume more responsibility." (No one asked how he would define "less torture.")

"Which officials, then, go to those countries to see?"

"I don't know," said the general.

There is a dark humor about Hayden's confirmation. Like Bush, Hayden has reached that level of power where accountability and conscience are irrelevant. Actually beyond irrelevant, taking responsibility, either legal or moral is a hindrance to obtaining some ill defined goals. For those that live thier lives quivering like little scared rabbits in their jammys like most of today's conservatives this is all big gov'ment at its best, a fuzzy blanket guarantee of security. Can anyone think of some other countries past or present in which the leaders made the false promise of absolute safety at the expense of liberty and got away with it, at least for a while? I knew that you could.

Well, when I had been dead about thirty years I begun to get a
little anxious. Mind you, had been whizzing through space all that
time, like a comet. LIKE a comet! Why, Peters, I laid over the
lot of them! Of course there warn't any of them going my way, as a
steady thing, you know, because they travel in a long circle like
the loop of a lasso, whereas I was pointed as straight as a dart
for the Hereafter; but I happened on one every now and then that
was going my way for an hour or so, and then we had a bit of a
brush together. But it was generally pretty one-sided, because I
sailed by them the same as if they were standing still.

from Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven by Mark Twain

I discerned, as I thought, beyond the picture

waterfall_2.jpg
PARADISE SOLD
What are you buying when you buy organic?

A Wellesley graduate is one of the company’s prize exhibits. “I just hang on to the fact that my job is good in some larger sense,” she says on the corporate Web site. “If people buy the sprouts, they’re eating healthier foods, the farmer is doing well, and it’s good for the planet because they’re grown organically.” Since 1998, Whole Foods has ranked high among Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For in America.” Although the company is as ferociously anti-union as Wal-Mart—John Mackey, the volubly libertarian founder and C.E.O., has called unions “parasites”—Whole Foods limits the compensation of its highest-paid executives to no more than fourteen times the employee salary average, and it likes to talk about how it rewards team members’ initiative. Mackey once told Forbes, “Business is simple. Management’s job is to take care of employees. The employees’ job is to take care of the customers. Happy customers take care of the shareholders. It’s a virtuous circle.”

" It’s a virtuous circle", that's just crazy talk. The idea that business isn't just some cold abstract about making money. I don't know what percentage of the population thinks that business is or should be a monolithic concept, a bullet train of sorts, whose sole purpose is the accumulation of money where the means don't really matter as long as there is a large stack of cash in a tiny group of people's bank account at the end of the day. If you think that business or more broadly capitalism should be run any other way, well let's just say there have been plenty of derivatives to describe people like you. One of those plain simple in your face truths that is so obvious that it is frequently overlooked is that because we're at least in theory a free society, many people are going to choose to be selfish in the most morally irresponsible way. Businesses like Wal-Mart where they think that unions are “parasites”. What do you think John Mackey is. Mackey hasn't the slightest clue what an honest day's work is. He has other people do the work while he racks in the cash. Mackey and people that think like him are the ideological decedents of plantation owners. As far as I know Mackey has never invented anything, never conceived of an original idea, and never broke a sweat providing food for his family or braces for his kids. He sits behind a desk a recipient and leecher of other peoples ideas and labor. Labor unions are not a perfect concept, they shouldn't be necessary, but they put pressure on people like old John to pay something that at least approaches a living wage. Whole Foods isn't perfect, but if companies like Wal-Mart operated more like Whole Foods or Costco labor unions wouldn't be a necessary counter balance to company king pins like John. To John and the thousands of corporate executives that think like him, employees are not people they're clogs in the money making machine; capitalism as nihilism. Mackey and his ilk live in a fantasy world. Where would the products he sells come from, how would those products be distributed, and who would consume them without labor. Mackey like most libertarians and conservatives live in a fantasy world where all of the gears, pulleys, and wheels of commerce run because they waved their pigskin from Stanford or Harvard or wherever like a magic wand and made it so. One has to wonder if somewhere along the way these pretend Kaptains of Kommerce didn't take a blood oath to never ever give credit to working class Americans for anything.

Well in my shot at libertarians I did say "most", here's one with the idea about individuals bringing financial pressure to bear on the telcos so they'll stop cooperating with the NSA, Divestiture, the Repeat Solution? . One thing you can do tomorrow, if you're not tied up in a long tern contract is which to Working Assets Wireless.

Badges? The president doesn’t have to show you

I thought this was an appropriate poem for Memorial Day

OTHERS taunt me with having knelt at well-curbs
Always wrong to the light, so never seeing
Deeper down in the well than where the water
Gives me back in a shining surface picture
My myself in the summer heaven, godlike
Looking out of a wreath of fern and cloud puffs.
Once, when trying with chin against a well-curb,
I discerned, as I thought, beyond the picture,
Through the picture, a something white, uncertain,
Something more of the depths—and then I lost it.
Water came to rebuke the too clear water.
One drop fell from a fern, and lo, a ripple
Shook whatever it was lay there at bottom,
Blurred it, blotted it out. What was that whiteness?
Truth? A pebble of quartz? For once, then, something.

For Once, Then, Something by Robert Frost

But that was just a dream

media-mic.jpg
First Amendment Applies to Internet, Appeals Court Rules

A California appeals court ruled Friday that online reporters are protected by the same confidentiality laws that protect traditional journalists, striking a blow to efforts by Apple Computer to identify people who leaked confidential company data.

One would think that the conservative contextualists that claim the constitution only applies to those things explicitly stated in the constitution carry the force of law would be outraged at this ruling. Neither The World Wide Web or MAC is mentioned in the constitution's main body or the Bill of Rights. Wait, they may think its the case that free speech protections are implied for new technologies. Yea I know catching conservatives on their constitutional moonbattiness is too easy.

In "Media Matters" James Foser writes,

The dominant political force of our time is the media.

Time after time, the news media have covered progressives and conservatives in wildly different ways — and, time after time, they do so to the benefit of conservatives.

Some days. most for that matter I can shrug the whole thing off, the whole lazy hypocritical mainstream media. Conservatives may really believe that the media has a liberal bias, but many do not. They just figure they have nothing to loose and may actually weasel in some psychological intimidation and the state of the media reflects that. Local news tends to be more of a showcase for the latest hair care products by the overly groomed talking heads then about actual news; they used to be at least a good source for weather information, but the net has made them superfluous on that score. Then there is the national media, which just can't bring themselves to say the "L" word,

Intrusive, irrelevant tabloid-style coverage of some candidates, while others are afforded an appropriate zone of privacy is even worse. And it can't go on.

It is possible that what Foser means to say is that it should not in good conscience go on, but if we take him literally he is mistaken, The Green Knight notes,

…the only incorrect sentence in Foser's analysis is the final one: "It can't go on." Sure it can. There's nothing to stop it. This is the script the American media follows; this is the world that American politics lives in. It will do so for the foreseeable future.

While This Modern World is also skeptical,

First of all, the corporate media has ALWAYS employed this double-standard, not simply “for years.” And of course it can go on. What would stop it?

Of all the things that drive me crazy about my progressive compatriots, it’s this belief that you can change the corporate media with accurate criticism of it. They believe at some point the people within the media will realize they’re wrong, and their behavior will improve.

This is insane. The corporate media is the way it is because it exists to make as much money as possible. It doesn’t exist to give people an accurate picture of the world.

They're both right of course. There have been and will always be an exception here and there, but for the most part the bulk of the media betrays its corporate laziness and mentality day in and day out. It is only natural that patriotic progressive minded Americans to feel a little frustrated, but think of it as a game. If real patriots throw up their hands in disgust, the mindless conservative hordes get a free pass to impose a twisted mix of theocracy and social darwinism on the world's greatest experiment in democracy.

Every whisper
Of every waking hour I'm
Choosing my confessions
Trying to keep an eye on you
Like a hurt lost and blinded fool
Oh no I've said too much
I set it up

Consider this
The hint of the century
Consider this
The slip that brought me
To my knees failed
What if all these fantasies
Come flailing around
Now I've said too much
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try

But that was just a dream
That was just a dream

from the song "Losing My Religion" by REM

Is that all there is, is that all there is

lifes road.jpg
SHAM Scam

SHAM takes advantage by cleverly marketing the dualism of victimization and empowerment. Like a religion that defines people as inherently sinful so that they require forgiveness (provided exclusively by that religion), SHAM gurus insist that we are all victims of our demonic "inner children" who are produced by traumatic pasts that create negative "tapes" that replay over and over in our minds. Redemption comes through empowering yourself with new "life scripts," supplied by the masters themselves, for prices that range from $500 one-day workshops to Robbins's $5,995 "Date with Destiny" seminar.

Do these programs work? No one knows. According to Salerno, no scientific evidence indicates that any of the countless SHAM techniques–from fire walking to 12-stepping–works better than doing something else or even doing nothing. The law of large numbers means that given the millions of people who have tried SHAMs, inevitably some will improve. As with alternative-medicine nostrums, the body naturally heals itself and whatever the patient was doing to help gets the credit.

This article is interesting for the specific cases sited, for also for a general pop philosophy that it touches on. If your life isn't going well, it is your fault pull yourself up by your boot straps. On the other end of the spectrum is the people that cast themselves as the eternal victim who have no control of anything. A few months ago I heard a member of the first camp on one of Bill Mahr's shows say that You are responsible for everything that happens in your life and a few months before that the famous Dr. Phil state that "there are no victims". Goodness knows that many people are caught in a trap of self pity and self sabotage, but to say that no one is ever a victim is beyond bizarre, not to mention morally repugnant. The opposite would have been just as mind boggling, if they had said that we have no responsibility for our lives and are perpetual victims on a tread mill unable to change or effect change. I don't understand why the truth of the matter is so difficult to see. That we all have some control off our lives and in some cases certainly more control then some people are willing to exercise at times, but it is equally true that we are subject to events and forces over which we have little or no impact. I can see why the control freaks are so successful, guilt is easy to exploit especially in those that lack self confidence(not to be confused with arrogance). Though one notices that no one is making much money off the everyone is powerless and has no control school of thought. It is also true that there may not be much profit in telling the truth, that sometimes we have control over some things, while sometimes not. Maybe the truth is too boring.

It may be a mistake on my part in terms of the never ending ideological wars, but I tend to look on right-wing pundits as petty and generally lacking in respect for facts. The right in general have a Neil Armstrong never landed on the moon the shadows were all wrong mentality. One of the over paid, over rated voices of the right, one Jonah Goldberg works at the L.A. Times, one of the top five most important newspapers in the country. Despite whatever circulation problems that daily newspapers may be having, Jonah through no intellectual or possessing any other merit that we're able to discern, has quite a nice soapbox to pontificate from. Rather then rise to the status of his soapbox he insists on lurking beneath it letting small bits of foaming spittle land on anyone in sight, generally unable or ill equipped to tackle any issues of real import. On the later aspect of his skills as a commenter, he belongs to the Limbaugh-Malkin-O'Reilly school of shallow imitation of seriousness. A Challenge To Jonah Goldberg

Gore told Huffington that this was his second trip to Cannes. “The first was when I was 15 years old and came here for the summer to study the existentialists — Sartre, Camus…. We were not allowed to speak anything but French!”… Though according to David Maraniss’ biography of Gore, the former vice president’s 15th summer was spent working on the family farm. [Ed note: Oh snap!] Remember those stories about how Al Sr. said, “A boy could never be president if he couldn’t plow with that damned hillside plow”? That was the same summer.

and Petty Goldberg adds,

As for Gore spending a summer at existentialist sleep-away camp in France, I’ve seen no evidence that this ever happened. I will gladly post any reliable evidence or testimony someone sends me saying he did.

I'll leave Vice-President Gore to defend himself. What we should all start with is why the L.A. Times is employing someone that is a serial liar, Unlikely Safire replacement Goldberg shares something with other possible Safire successors: a penchant for misinformation

In his November 12 nationally syndicated column, Goldberg stated that the controversy over government access to library records under the USA Patriot Act was due to "exaggerations" by Democratic public officials. Goldberg asserted that under the act, "not one library was ever searched. Ever." As Media Matters noted, since the Patriot Act prohibits libraries that have been served with a search warrant from publicly disclosing even the existence of such a warrant, Goldberg did not offer — and presumably could not have offered — any support for his assertion.

On October 22, Goldberg echoed the misleading charge that the Democratic Party's official policy is to make baseless allegations of voter intimidation against Republicans. This charge was based on Republican distortions of a Democratic National Committee (DNC) Election Day manual advising party workers on methods for combating potential efforts to intimidate minority voters. The manual does not encourage party workers — either explicitly or implicitly — to fabricate stories of voter suppression.

On July 27, in his first daily column from the Democratic National Convention for USA Today, Goldberg distorted a New York Times survey of Democratic delegates. In arguing that convention delegates are "far to the left of the mainstream," Goldberg claimed that "5 out of 6 say the war on terrorism and national security aren't that important," when, in fact, the survey's respondents never said that.

VP Gore isn't the one that should be explaining himself. Jonah has a general disdain for the truth which speaks volumes about his lack of character. When backed into a corner, Goldberg's modus operandi is well everyone lies so when a conservative president lies the nation into a war with a tiny nation that was no threat to us, that's OK because liberals did it too, only in the example he uses they didn't.

Los Angeles Times: Clare Boothe Luce… insisted that FDR "lied us into war."… Luce wasn't slandering Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Indeed, the evidence that FDR lied is far greater than the evidence that Bush did…

But Jonah Goldberg's claim that FDR "lied us into war"? That's a lie. America's war in the Pacific began when Admiral Nagumo's warplanes attacked Pearl Harbor. America's war in Europe began when Hitler declared war on the United States.

Save your powder, Kevin. The interesting thing for you to write about is not Jonah Goldberg's lies about FDR, but Jonah Goldberg's "Yeah. Bush lied. So what?"

SPOKEN:
I remember when I was a very little girl, our house caught on fire.
I'll never forget the look on my father's face as he gathered me up
in his arms and raced through the burning building out to the pavement.
I stood there shivering in my pajamas and watched the whole world go up in flames.
And when it was all over I said to myself, "Is that all there is to a fire?"

SUNG:
Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is

SPOKEN:
And when I was 12 years old, my father took me to the circus, the greatest show on earth.
There were clowns and elephants and dancing bears
And a beautiful lady in pink tights flew high above our heads.
And as I sat there watching the marvelous spectacle
I had the feeling that something was missing.
I don't know what, but when it was over,
I said to myself, "Is that all there is to a circus?"

SUNG:
Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is

SPOKEN:
Then I fell in love, with the most wonderful boy in the world.
We would take long walks by the river or just sit for hours gazing into each other's eyes.
We were so very much in love.
Then one day, he went away. And I thought I'd die — but I didn't.
And when I didn't I said to myself, "Is that all there is to love?"

SUNG:
Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing

SPOKEN:
I know what you must be saying to yourselves.
If that's the way she feels about it why doesn't she just end it all?
Oh, no. Not me. I'm in no hurry for that final disappointment.
For I know just as well as I'm standing here talking to you,
when that final moment comes and I'm breathing my lst breath, I'll be saying to myself,

SUNG:
Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is

IS THAT ALL THERE IS? by Peggy Lee

he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect

republican ken lay.jpg
It seems like there aren't too many small amusement parks anymore, so if I ask if you remember the Fun House it may not be the common reference it once was. First, to an adult Fun Houses were probably more of a way to produce a form of motion sickness and disorientation more then a feeling of fun, but most kids, their world not completely defined yet in terms of what constituted the norm usually got a kick out of them. The floors would move, mirrors would rotate and distort and elongate the viewer, sometimes strange life size dolls would appear out of nowhere. It turns out that an environment that constantly changes may give you a psychological lift. Not completely disorienting as the old Fun Houses, but by way of uneven floors, lots of mixed colors, and oddly placed light switches designers Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins think that these constant challenges or irritations are the real life fun house key to a longer life. The Discomforts of Home

Arakawa and Gins designed a building of nine apartments known as Reversible Destiny Lofts. Painted in eye-catching blue, pink, red, yellow and other bright colors, the building resembles the indoor playgrounds that attract toddlers at fast-food restaurants. Inside, each apartment features a dining room with a grainy, surfaced floor that slopes erratically, a sunken kitchen and a study with a concave floor. Electric switches are located in unexpected places on the walls so you have to feel around for the right one. A glass door to the veranda is so small you have to bend to crawl out. You constantly lose balance and gather yourself up, grab onto a column and occasionally trip and fall. Even worse, there's no closet space; residents will have to find a way to live there, since the apartment offers only a few solutions. "You'll learn to figure it out," says Arakawa. Ten minutes of stumbling around is enough to send even the healthiest young person over the edge. Arakawa says that's precisely the point. "[The apartment] makes you alert and awakens instincts, so you'll live better, longer and even forever," says the artist.

Maybe I'm a neat freak or not, but I cannot go through life without closets. Stuff, though I try to keep STUFF to a minimum, should never be on the floor to trip over. I'm pretty adaptable, I like change, but light switches must be easy to get to. Running into things in the dark, especially things at hip level can really ruin your day.

This is supposed to be straight up news, yet like the perennial attempts ro shoehorn music into nice little categories, sometimes so-called straight news spills over into the bizarre, Enron Chiefs Guilty of Fraud and Conspiracy

Kenneth L. Lay and Jeffrey K. Skilling, the chief executives who guided Enron through its spectacular rise and even more stunning fall, were found guilty today of fraud and conspiracy. They are among the most prominent corporate leaders to emerge from a wave of scandals that marked the get-rich-quick excesses and management failures of the 1990's.

snip

Mr. Lay later said, "I firmly believe I'm innocent of the charges against me."

In televised remarks, he said, "We believe that God in fact is in control and indeed he does work all things for good for those who love the Lord."

For a company that once seemed so complex that almost no one could understand how it actually made its money, the cases ended up being simpler than most people envisioned. Mr. Lay, 64, and Mr. Skilling, 52, were found guilty of lying – to investors, employees and government regulators – in an effort to disguise the crumbling fortunes of their energy empire.

The 12 jurors and three alternates, who all agreed to talk to about 100 reporters at a news conference following the verdict, said they were persuaded – by the volume of evidence the government presented and Mr. Skilling and Mr. Lay's own appearances on the stand – that the men had perpetuated a far-reaching fraud by lying to investors and employees about Enron's performance.

A truly repugnant little man who would use anything or anyone rather then admit responsibility.

While the White House has repeatedly described former Enron chairman Kenneth Lay as simply a "supporter" of George W. Bush, extensive correspondence between the two men paints a far cozier picture of their relationship, according to copies of letters obtained this afternoon (2/15) by The Smoking Gun.

Well I yield to Mark Kleiman and Matthew Yglesias on the small-c violation of separation of powers regarding the seizure of Jefferson's papers, here and here.
I have such a low tolerance for play for pay by any politician, from city registrar to federal big shots that perhaps I was too quick to be happy with the results without looking hard enough at the implications of the process. Bush has certainly pushed things up a notch. Which only reinforces my belief that conservatives have suddenly gone digging for their copy of the constitution purely for reasons of self interests and self protection from the ever widening web of Abramoff and company.

I am wondering if a blogger named California Conservative, or rather the California Coward and Liar, along with the usual cast of suspicious characters from Pajama and Hotair Cowards and Liars will be issuing an apology to Rep. John Murtha (D) , Military Expected to Report Marines Killed Iraqi Civilians

A military investigation into the deaths of two dozen Iraqis last November is expected to find that a small number of marines in western Iraq carried out extensive, unprovoked killings of civilians, Congressional, military and Pentagon officials said Thursday.

As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect. He was lying on his hard, as it were armor-plated, back and when he lifted his head a little he could see his dome-like brown belly divided into stiff arched segments on top of which the bed quilt could hardly keep in position and was about to slide off completely. His numerous legs, which were pitifully thin compared to the rest of his bulk, waved helplessly before his eyes.

What has happened to me? he thought. It was no dream. His room, a regular human bedroom, only rather too small, lay quiet between the four familiar walls.

from The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

They all took after the king, too, in being large, corpulent, oily men

denny-bird.jpg
Edgar Allan Poe is credited with inventing mystery fiction, and his own death is still a subject of intense speculation. Matthew Pearl investigates one of the most peculiar puzzles in literary history.

Today, the story of Poe's death is a subject of intense fascination. Downtown Baltimore has signs leading tourists to Poe's burial place. Fresh flowers can be found at the foot of the memorial obelisk built in 1875. Where there was once no gravestone, there are now two: one to mark the original spot of his grave and the other, the obelisk, where the body was later moved to. Every year, Poe's birthday brings a gathering at the cemetery, which is covered by the national press. By contrast, few Bostonians know where Poe's birthplace is in Boston, or even that it is in Boston. Poe's biography may be said, in a sense, to begin with his death rather than his birth.

Stop reading if you want to avoid a spoiler. The article fills out some very interesting details and clears up some of the urban type legends about Poe's life, but gives no definitive answers about the mystery of his death. It does serve as a very good teaser for the book, 'The Poe Shadow' by Matthew Pearl.

Return of Jefferson Files Is Sought in which someone I admire, Nancy Pelosi gets it half right. She has asked Jefferson a Louisana Democrat to " temporarily vacate his seat" and Jefferson in an ode to his false pride and disregard for the Democratic Party has refused. On the other hand Rep. Pelosi signed off on the ridiculous request that "the Justice Department must cease reviewing the documents and ensure that their contents are not divulged. Once the papers are returned, "Congressman Jefferson can and should fully cooperate with the Justice Department's efforts, consistent with his constitutional rights,". Unless the FBI seized evidence without a warrant I'm in doubt that any constitutional violations have occurred. It is notable that House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert(R) also is part of the chorus that thinks the FBI has overstepped its bounds. I admit a certain cynism regarding Hastert's sudden adherence to constitutional principles, or any principles for that matter, ABC News Update on Hastert Story

Despite a flat denial from the Department of Justice, federal law enforcement sources tonight said ABC News accurately reported that Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert is "in the mix" in the FBI investigation of corruption in Congress.

Speaker Hastert said tonight the story was "absolutely untrue" and has demanded ABC News retract its story.

Law enforcement sources told ABC News that convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff has provided information to the FBI about Hastert and a number of other members of Congress that have broadened the scope of the investigation. Sources would not divulge details of the Abramoff’s information.

"You guys wrote the story very carefully but they are not reading it very carefully," a senior official said.

One focus involves a letter Hastert wrote in 2003 urging the Secretary of the Interior to block an Indian casino that would have competed with tribes represented by Abramoff.

The letter was written within days of a fund-raiser held for Hastert at Abramoff’s restaurant in Washington. Federal campaign records show more than $26,000 was raised at the time from Abramoff and his clients.

Hastert has denied doing anything unlawful and says he has a long history of opposing certain types of Indian casinos.

ABC’s law enforcement sources said the Justice Department denial was meant only to deny that Hastert was a formal “target” or “subject” of the investigation.

"Whether they like it or not, members of Congress, including Hastert, are under investigation," one federal official said tonight.

Denny is playing the Rush Limbaugh gambit; law and order, warrants and investigations are all fine except when a conservative is the target. The Den-man isn't looking out for Jefferson, he's looking out for himself. While the WaPo story suggests that there are some disagreement between legal scholars over the searches of congressional representatives offices, this argument against would put lawmakers above the law. It is doubtful that legal precedent supports such a view. Den-man is going down and neither the whining of the fringe right-wing nor legal hemming and hawing are not going to save him.

HOP-FROG

I NEVER knew anyone so keenly alive to a joke as the king was. He
seemed to live only for joking. To tell a good story of the joke kind, and
to tell it well, was the surest road to his favor. Thus it happened that
his seven ministers were all noted for their accomplishments as jokers.
They all took after the king, too, in being large, corpulent, oily men, as
well as inimitable jokers. Whether people grow fat by joking, or whether
there is something in fat itself which predisposes to a joke, I have never
been quite able to determine; but certain it is that a lean joker is a
rara avis in terris.

from THE WORKS OF EDGAR ALLAN POE Volume Five
(rara avis in terris – a very rare bird. Usually a term of irony.)

The wisest thing you have done was to surround yourself with this mercenary body

king-bush2.jpg

When conservatives like Peter Wehner at Opinion Journal write tripe like " Revisionist History Antiwar myths about Iraq, debunked" ( I will not be providing a link) There might be a temptation to say that Pete is an idiot, though possible, that is probably not the case. Wehner is a loyal member of the conservative politburo. Regardless of the evidence, it is his job to lie, obfuscate, and generally create a reality that is reassuring to the other true believers of the politiburo. Pete writes,

Iraqis can participate in three historic elections, pass the most liberal constitution in the Arab world

We all love irony, but considering the current administration's penchant for signing statements that circumvent the constitution, Pete may want to remind George and Dick that a constitution isn't worth the paper it is written on if those in power decide that they will only abide by it when it is convenient. The Soviets had a constitution,  Chapter 7: THE BASIC RIGHTS, FREEDOMS, AND DUTIES OF CITIZENS OF THE USSR

Article 39. Citizens of the USSR enjoy in full the social, economic, political and personal rights and freedoms proclaimed and guaranteed by the Constitution of the USSR and by Soviet laws. The socialist system ensures enlargement of the rights and freedoms of citizens and continuous improvement of their living standards as social, economic, and cultural development programmes are fulfilled.
Enjoyment by citizens of their rights and freedoms must not be to the detriment of the interests of society or the state, or infringe the rights of other citizens.

A constitution that enumerates rights is obviously no guarantee of those rights. The people must support them and the people must have the cultural and institutional stability to enforce those rights. Also that the rights in refernce must be more then empty doublespeak. Iraq is far from stable and its institutions exists almost in name only.

"There is no question [the Bush administration] misled the nation and led us into a quagmire in Iraq," according to Ted Kennedy. Jimmy Carter charged that on Iraq, "President Bush has not been honest with the American people." And Al Gore has said that an "abuse of the truth" characterized the administration's "march to war." These charges are themselves misleading, which explains why no independent body has found them credible. Most of the world was operating from essentially the same set of assumptions regarding Iraq's WMD capabilities. Important assumptions turned out wrong; but mistakenly relying on faulty intelligence is a world apart from lying about it.

"which explains why no independent body has found them credible"- I don't know what Pete means. I don't that he does either, but it makes for a nice sounding positive piece of hollow rhetoric and that is what really matters. The world, well except Pete and assorted Bushniks knows that Bush lied about WMD and that the whole issue of WMD was a red herring anyway.
RUMSFELD heeds intel warnings on weak WMD case

"Donald Rumsfeld led a congressionally appointed commission [before the war] that reviewed current intelligence about the WMD…His commission's findings on Iraq's WMD didn't materially differ from" a previous commission that found "the CIA's intel on Iraqi WMD was largely speculative," and an "absence of hard evidence so striking that panelists recall discussing a theory 'that the whole Iraq WMD program was smoke-and-mirrors, and Saddam was just a little guy behind a curtain.'"

OCTOBER 8, 1997 – IAEA SAYS IRAQ FREE OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS: "As reported in detail in the progress report dated 8 October 1997…and based on all credible information available to date, the IAEA's verification activities in Iraq, have resulted in the evolution of a technically coherent picture of Iraq's clandestine nuclear programme. These verification activities have revealed no indications that Iraq had achieved its programme objective of producing nuclear weapons or that Iraq had produced more than a few grams of weapon-usable nuclear material or had clandestinely acquired such material. Furthermore, there are no indications that there remains in Iraq any physical capability for t he production of weapon-usable nuclear material of any practical significance." [Source: IAEA Report, 10/8/98]

SEPTEMBER 16, 2001 – CHENEY ACKNOWLEDGES IRAQ IS CONTAINED: Vice President Dick Cheney said that "Saddam Hussein is bottled up" – a confirmation of the intelligence he had received. [Source: Meet the Press, 9/16/2001]

JANUARY, 2002 – TENET DOES NOT MENTION IRAQ IN NUCLEAR THREAT REPORT: "In CIA Director George Tenet's January 2002 review of global weapons-technology proliferation, he did not even mention a nuclear threat from Iraq, though he did warn of one from North Korea." [Source: The New Republic, 6/30/03]

Sure the Bushies would have liked to have had some real evidence, but evidence didn't really matter, British Memo — Bush, Blair Agreed to Invade In Late Jan. 2003:

A memo of a two-hour meeting between [Bush and Blair] at the White House on January 31 2003 – nearly two months before the invasion – reveals that Mr Bush made it clear the US intended to invade whether or not there was a second UN resolution and even if UN inspectors found no evidence of a banned Iraqi weapons programme. [Guardian, 2/3/06]

Then Wehner goes and gets all officious on us,

Let's review what we know. The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) is the intelligence community's authoritative written judgment on specific national-security issues. The 2002 NIE provided a key judgment: "Iraq has continued its [WMD] programs in defiance of U.N. resolutions and restrictions. Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons as well as missiles with ranges in excess of U.N. restrictions; if left unchecked, it probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade."

A Tale of Two Intelligence Estimates

A close comparison of the unclassified version (CIA White Paper: "Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs," published in October 2002) and the original classified NIE (parts of which were declassified and released after the war), reveals striking differences. In addition to changes presumably made to protect sensitive sources and methods, the differences are of two types. Some convey the impression that the intelligence community was much more confident and more united in its views than it actually was. Others appear designed to portray a sense of heightened threat, and particularly of a threat that could touch the U.S. homeland. Sentences and phrases in the classified NIE expressing uncertainty were deleted while new formulations alluding to gathering danger were added.

The words "we judge" and "we assess" were deleted from five key findings of the classified document. For example, the classified version read: "We judge that Iraq has continued its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs." The unclassified version stated: "Iraq has continued its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs." The classified NIE opined: "We judge Iraq has some lethal and incapacitating BW agents." In the unclassified version, this was a certainty: "Iraq has some lethal and incapacitating BW agents." The classified version expressed the view: "We assess that Baghdad has begun renewed production of mustard, sarin, GF (cyclosarin) and VX." The unclassified version was unequivocal: "Baghdad has begun renewed production of chemical warfare agents." In each case, uncertainties turned into fact.

The unclassified version had no reference to the dissenting opinions of the Department of Energy, U.S. Air Force, or the extensive dissenting views of the Department of State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) on Iraq's nuclear weapons program and its attempts to acquire aluminum tubes. Instead, where there was agency disagreement, the unclassified version used the phrase "most analysts assess" or "most analysts believe." Only on one occasion did the unclassified version mention the reason why "some" analysts disagreed. We now know that entire government agencies rejected many of what were portrayed as consensus judgments and that they held less alarmist views of Iraqi behavior.

We have to assume that Pete has gone to the school of conservative school of public befuddlement in which it is considered a major sin to speak truth to words. Could the Department of Energy, U.S. Air Force, and Department of State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research be the "independent" bodies that like Bush, Wehner ignoredand still chooses to treat like an invisible elephant. Pete drags out the, let us just say incomplete Silberman-Robb Commission report,

Thanks to the bipartisan Silberman-Robb Commission, which investigated the causes of intelligence failures in the run-up to the war….

Followed by incoherent babbling. Did I mention that Pete is deputy assistant to the president and director of the White House's Office of Strategic Initiatives. Maybe Pete was out to lunch that day, but he needs to check his version of reality against the Congressional Research Service report, Scottie in Denial: White House Still Clinging to “Same Intelligence” Myth and here, Limitations on Congressional Access to Certain National Intelligence

The executive branch generally does not routinely share with Congress four general types of intelligence information:

* the identities of intelligence sources;
* the "methods" employed by the Intelligence Community in collecting and analyzing intelligence;
* "raw" intelligence, which can be unevaluated or "lightly" evaluated intelligence, (18) which in the case of human intelligence (19) sometimes is provided by a single source, but which also could consist of intelligence derived from multiple sources when signals (20) and imagery (21) collection methods are employed; and,
* certain written intelligence products tailored to the specific needs of the President and other high-level executive branch policymakers. Included in the last category is the President's Daily Brief (PDB), a written intelligence product which is briefed daily to the President, and which consists of six to eight relatively short articles or briefs covering a broad array of topics. (22) The PDB emphasizes current intelligence (23) and is viewed as highly sensitive, in part, because it can contain intelligence source and operational information. Its dissemination is thus limited to the President and a small number of presidentially-designated senior administration policymakers. (24)

In short, Pete continues to perpetuate the myth that Congress gets the same intelligence information that the president does, not true. Pete is under the both comic and dangerous impression that his foremost duty is to serve his president and not his country. I find it impossible to explain how conservatives have confused the prerogatives of a president of a democracy with the prerogatives of an all powerful king. Wehner slips off the deep end of the pool of kool-aid when he writes,

"A liberated Iraq can show the power of freedom to transform that vital region, by bringing hope and progress into the lives of millions. America's interests in security, and America's belief in liberty, both lead in the same direction: to a free and peaceful Iraq. . . . The world has a clear interest in the spread of democratic values, because stable and free nations do not breed the ideologies of murder.

All the same repressive regimes that existed in the middle-east five years ago still exists. Afghanistan has been allowed to slip back into warlordism and poppy production. Iraq is still not the country club that Bush and his supporters keep telling us it is. Iran has gone from leaning toward moderation to being more strident. If really given a choice tomorrow, majority rules and all, Iraqis would vote for being an authoritarian theocratic state. Majority rule without the checks and balances, and the stable institutions to enforce them do not a democracy make. Israel has been a middle-east democracy for over fifty years and the Arab world has hardly been impressed. Either Bush/Wehner don't understand the tribal, family, and religious tensions at play in the middle-east or they are playing the role of wilfully ignorant. Wilful ignorance is not a virtue in good governance. If it was Bush's approval ratings would be in the eighties, but I think Pete knows that and like all political propagandists and mercenaries he is just trying his best to create a reality outside the bounds of truth out of loyalty to his master.

The wisest thing you have done was to surround yourself with this mercenary body, whom you call the royal cuirassiers, only, instead of three hundred, you should have two thousand. Self-interest will make them true to you. You might find some means to pay them, for they would be a good buffer between you and your enemies. The president of the Diet and the members are passing bills which will eventually undermine you. How long it will take I can not say. But this last folly, the loan, which you could have got on without, caps
the climax. The duke was in the city last week unknown to you. Your minister of finance is his intimate. This loan was a connivance of them all. Why ten years, when it could easily be liquidated in five? I shall tell you. The duke expects to force you into bankruptcy within that time, and when the creditor demands and you can not pay, you will be driven from here in disgrace.

from THE PUPPET CROWN by Harold MacGrath

I think my shadow is the only living thing one sees over there

crowd of shadows.jpg

In There Are Two Kinds Of People In the World, Chris Bowers writes,

More to the point, the notion that there is a major divide in the Democratic Party either over whether to withdraw troops or not, or over which issue is more important, Iraq or terrorism, is simply untrue. For decades now, Harris has regularly polled the country on which issues it considers to be the most important. In their latest poll, only 3% of the country listed "terrorism," while 35% listed either "the war" or "Iraq." Further, numbers form Pew and CBS show less than 20% of Democrats opposing withdrawal.

This is not a major divide. This is a select few policy wonks ("a host of younger journalists and policy mavens-from newly formed groups like the Truman National Security Project and the Foreign Policy Leadership Council to New Republic editor-at-large Peter Beinart") standing almost entirely alone against the vast, vast majority of their party. Harris has found this to be the case for two years now. Further, the Pew and CBS numbers were taken months ago when the war was more popular than it is now.

Which reminds me of a frustration I have about Iraq – which is one issue, and another issue, fighting terrorism. They are two separate issues. That they are conflated daily by the media and of course any member of the Bush administration when they say that Iraq is the front of the war on terror. If one were to rank Iraq along with other nations on a list of where the most active terrorist organizations were they would have ranked below such U.S. allies such as Pakistan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. There were at most a few transitory terrorists in Iraq before Bush decided to kick out weapons inspectors. The idea that the invasion of Iraq would serve as flypaper and all the world's jihadists would flock to Iraq and be too occupied there to perpetrate any attacks against western targets has proven to be absurd – see Spain, England, Bali.I cannot find a single notable Democrat that does not support the battle against terrorists, though there are plenty that think we've accomplished as much as we can in Iraq and the further lose of life and tax dollars to continue to occupy Iraq is counter productive. It is draining resources away from fighting terrorism and dividing the country. The Democrat's dilemma is trying to correctly frame the two separate issues that have been joined at the hip by the Bushies and a lazy press. Those that think Iraq and the terrorism sponsored by Al-Queda are one and the same are an obstacle to victory over terrorism. The blockheaded refusal by the far right conservatives to separate Iraq from terrorism is more about loyalty to a political leader and his obviouslt failed policies then doing what is right for the country. Democrats certainly aren't taking advice from this blogger, but until they start to honestly frame the issues the public may stick with the dishonest and dangerous framing that is espoused by conservatives and the media. It is an a tired old phenomenon, the public's tendency to stick with what they "know" rather then accept a truth that requires some hard choices and admitting they put their faith in the wrong folks in 2004. From January 12, 2004, War College Study Calls Iraq a 'Detour'

A report published by the Army War College criticizes the Bush administration's global war on terrorism as "unfocused" and contends that the war in Iraq is "unnecessary" and a "detour" that has diverted attention and resources from the threat posed by Al Qaeda.

The report warns that the administration's global war on terrorism may have set the United States "on a course of open-ended and gratuitous conflict with states and non-state entities that pose no serious threat to the United States."

BellSouth Denies Giving Phone-Call Records to NSA

AT&T and Verizon have both declined to confirm or deny the USA Today report, saying they do not comment on national security matters.

AT&T confirmations or denials may very well be irrelevant at this point, Whistle-Blower's Evidence, Uncut

Klein supports his claim by attaching excerpts of three internal company documents: a Dec. 10, 2002, manual titled "Study Group 3, LGX/Splitter Wiring, San Francisco," a Jan. 13, 2003, document titled "SIMS, Splitter Cut-In and Test Procedure" and a second "Cut-In and Test Procedure" dated Jan. 24, 2003.

Here we present Klein's statement in its entirety, with inline links to all of the document excerpts where he cited them. You can also download the complete file here (pdf). The full AT&T documents are filed under seal in federal court in San Francisco.

Index of 500 Full Length Cartoons on YouTube

“I think my shadow is the only living thing one sees over there,” said the Learned Man. “See! how nicely it sits between the flowers. The door stands half-open: now the shadow should be cunning, and go into the room, look about, and then come and tell me what it has seen. Come, now! be useful, and do me a service,” said he, in jest. “Have the kindness to step in. Now! art thou going?” and then he nodded to the Shadow, and the Shadow nodded again. “Well, then, go! but don’t stay away.”

from The Shadow by Hans Christian Andersen