Tuesday, December 16, 2003
Monday, December 15, 2003
Welcome to the homepage of BloopWatch, where the Mythos meets Reality. This webpage was founded in tribute to H. P. Lovecraft, the Providence-born writer of "weird tales" who has sometimes been called the father of modern horror. The mission of this page is to document ways in which Lovecraft's writings intersect, or seem to intersect, reality.
Thursday, December 11, 2003
by Richard Freeman
During the last 20 years, Wal-Mart has moved into communities and destroyed them, wiping out stores, slashing the tax base, and turning downtown areas into ghost-towns. This is accomplished through Wal-Mart's policy of paying workers below subsistence wages, and importing goods that have been produced under slave-labor conditions overseas. Often, communities will even give Wal-Mart tax incentives, for the right to be destroyed.
Wal-Mart both reflects, and is, a major driving force for America's deadly implementation of the Imperial Rome model. Unable to produce physical goods to sustain its own existence, the United States, like Rome, sucks in imported goods from around the world, using, in this case, a dollar that is over-valued by 50-60%. America has been transformed from a producer to a consumer society. From the 1940s through the early 1960s, through its technologically-advanced manufacturing-agricultural economy, America produced new value that contributed
to mankind's advancement. Through a "post-industrial society" policy, the bankers have pushed Wal-Mart to the top of the heap, so that it is now the world's largest corporation, with $245.5 billion in sales last year. Wal-Mart,
which produces no value-added whatsoever, dominates the geometry that governs the U.S. consumer society. America consumes goods that others produce, which Wal-Mart markets. Wal-Mart dictates, through its demand for low prices, that its suppliers outsource their production to foreign nations, further ripping down America's battered domestic manufacturing and agricultural capability, in a self-feeding process.
Here, we look at how Wal-Mart has laid waste communities from Iowa to Mississippi, from Ohio to Oklahoma.
Iowa represents the paradigm of Wal-Mart's destruction of a state and its communities. Iowa is a leading agricultural state, with an industrial center in its northeast. In 1983, Wal-Mart opened its first store in the state. Since that time, the number of other retail stores that Wal-Mart has forced to close in Iowa, in communities of
5,000 or fewer people, is immense.
Sam Walton started Wal-Mart in his home town of Bentonville, Arkansas in 1962. At first he concentrated on Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, along with a few other southern states. Beginning in the 1980s, he spread Wal-Mart out as a national chain, shifting from discount stores with 40-70,000 square feet of sales space, to increasingly building Sam's Club and supercenters, which typically have 150-200,000 square feet. The idea was to use its ability to sell a huge volume of goods, its sweat-shop pay to American workers, and its flood of cheap imports, to blow apart any competition. In the October 1996 issue of Wal-Mart Today, an internal company newsletter, Tom Coughlin, executive vice president for operations, summed up the approach: "At Wal-Mart, we make dust. Our competitors eat dust."
In looking at Iowa, we encounter a myth: that when Wal-Mart opened a store in Town A, it may have hurt by a small amount the sales of stores in other towns neighboring Town A-as the people from the other towns went to Wal-Mart to do some of their shopping; but nonetheless, Wal-Mart so increased the volume of sales at its own store and other stores in Town A, that the stores in the overall region experienced significant sales growth and job growth. Wal-Mart hired compliant research and marketing firms to "prove" this point. This is a lie.
We look at what happened to Iowa communities of 5,000 or fewer people. Significant research has been done in this area by Prof. Kenneth Stone of Iowa State University, which we draw upon. Since it is difficult to see what effect occurred after only one or two years, we look at the effects after ten years or longer.
Using sales tax records, Professor Stone compared the change in sales volume at stores located in towns where Wal-Mart opened one of its stores (a "Wal-Mart Town"), and in the neighboring towns where Wal-mart did not open a store ("Neighboring Non Wal-Mart Town"). In cases selected from the study, the sales at Wal-Mart stores themselves are not included, since the focus here is to measure the "Wal-Mart effect": Once Wal-Mart opens a store, what happens to all the other stores in the neighboring communities, in Iowa communities of 5,000 or fewer people?
Figure 1 presents the change in sales volume for Iowa home furnishings stores (furniture stores, major appliance stores, drapery stores, etc.). One year after Wal-Mart opened a store in a town, in the Neighboring Non Wal-Mart
Towns, at home furnishing stores the sales volume collapsed by 14%. People from the Non Wal-Mart Towns travelled to the towns where a Wal-Mart had opened, to purchase a share of their home furnishings at the Wal-Mart store. However, by the tenth year after the Wal-Mart store had opened, in the Neighboring Non Wal-Mart Towns, at home furnishing stores the sales volume had fallen a stunning 31% below the level it had been ten years earlier. A large number of home furnishing stores were forced to close.
In the Wal-Mart Towns, by the tenth year after the Wal-Mart store had opened, the sales volume at home furnishing stores had declined by only 1%. Clearly, the home furnishing stores located at Neighboring Non Wal-Mart Towns, had suffered the brunt of the damage.
Figure 2 presents the change in sales volume for Iowa specialty stores (sporting goods stores, druggists, jewelry stores, card and gift shops, florists, etc.). In the Wal-Mart Towns, by the tenth year after the Wal-Mart
store had opened, the sales volume at specialty stores had plunged by 17%. In the Neighboring Non Wal-Mart Towns, by the tenth year after the Wal-Mart store had opened, the sales volume at specialty stores had tumbled by 28%.
Figure 3 presents the change in sales volume for Iowa apparel stores, showing a 28% decline by the tenth year in both Wal-Mart Towns and Non Wal-Mart Towns. The Wal-Mart Towns had not escaped the Wal-Mart effect.
Thus, Wal-Mart's assertion that the sales by a range of stores in Neighboring Non Wal-Mart Towns would fall by a small amount, and that the sales volume by a range of stores in Wal-Mart Towns would rise significantly, is completely false.
Putting aside this myth, Figure 4 shows the catastrophe caused by the Wal-Mart effect in Iowa, inclusive of towns that did and did not have a Wal-Mart store. The period under consideration is 1983-96, three years longer than the
earlier study, giving three more years of the devastation. By 1996, 13 years after a Wal-Mart had opened in a town, the volume of sales at department stores, which includes Wal-Mart and other large discount chains, rose by 42%. However, since 1983, sales at grocery stores fell by 11%; sales at drug stores fell by 32%; and sales at men's and boys' stores dropped headlong by 59%. Iowa's retail and grocery stores, which form the underpinning of communities, had been ravaged.
Table 1 shows the second phase of the Wal-Mart effect: the closing of stores whose revenues had collapsed. All told, a staggering 7,326 stores closed in Iowa communities of 5,000 or less people (the table covers a ten-year period through 1993; were it to cover the longer period through 1996, the number of store closings would be even greater). The health and vitality of these communities, including employment at rising wages and benefits, the generation of taxes, etc., will not be restored.
Wal-Mart destroyed other communities and cities. For example:
Toledo, Ohio. Author Al Norman describes the effect of Wal-Mart and Home Depot (another outsourcing chain) on Toledo: "When I went for a walk in downtown Toledo, I passed the old Lamson dry goods store: 9 stories of empty retail space. Each floor is the size of a football field. The building served as the home of a Macy's Department store from 1924 to 1984. For the past fourteen years, the store has been empty. The City now owns it, which means the taxpayers of Toledo are paying the freight for its upkeep."
Nowata, Oklahoma. In 1982, Wal-Mart opened a store on the outskirts of Nowata, a town of 4,000 people. Half of the small businesses in downtown Nowata shut down. Then in 1994, Wal-Mart abruptly closed this store, as well as another in a nearby town, and opened up a supercenter in Bartlesville, which is 30 miles away, leaving Nowata prostrate.
Mississippi. A study found that in small towns in the state, five years after the opening of a Wal-Mart, the dollar volume of grocery store trade had collapsed 17%.
Vermont. In an attempt to stop Wal-Mart from becoming large in the state, various towns passed restrictions that would halt Wal-Mart construction. Wal-Mart built stores in the neighboring New Hampshire and New York, which
sucked business out of Vermont.
Collapsing Tax Revenue
Despite all this, many states and communities are using taxpayers' money to finance subsidies to Wal-Mart, to come in and rape them.
In 1999, it was reported that in Olivette, Missouri, a developer received a tax incentive of up to $38.9 million for a construction project including a Wal-Mart and a Sam's Club-more than a third of the projected total cost of the
project. In 1998, it was reported that the city of Chesterfield, Missouri was supplying $25.5 million in tax incentives toward the construction of a $100 million-plus mall, anchored by a Wal-Mart. In 2001, Ohio approved $10 million in tax credits and other assistance for Wal-Mart to build two distribution centers and an eyeglass-manufacturing facility.
These insane subsidies draw down the public finances. At the same time, Wal-Mart decimates the tax-base through other methods:
* Many stores which, unlike Wal-Mart, did not get tax breaks, are closed.
This causes the loss to many states of sales taxes, and to all states of corporate profit taxes.
* Workers at established stores that have been closed by the Wal-Mart effect, who were paid higher wages than workers at Wal-Mart, have been fired,causing a drop in state income taxes.
* Wal-Mart's outsourcing caused the loss of 1-1.5 million manufacturing production jobs, and thus the taxes that these workers and the manufacturing plants that they worked at, would have paid.
* States and cities often have to finance downtown revitalization programs for the areas devastated by Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart certainly produces a wealth effect: the loss of wealth. Just walk through any community downtown with its empty or boarded-up stores, to see the workings of the Wal-Mart effect.
This article appears in the Nov. 21, 2003 issue of Executive Intelligence
Science confirms that men can't think rationally when confronted with a beautiful woman.
Tuesday, December 09, 2003
Animals with an innate phobia of novelty have higher levels of stress hormones after a new experience and die significantly younger than their braver kin, new research has found. The work suggests that a lifetime of fearful stress can take an accumulated toll on health.
Report from Baghdad by member of the Global exchange delegation. He says things are much WORSE than what is being shown on TV.
Sunday, December 07, 2003
This person blogs about a letter her husband has received from the National Institute of Standards requesting his aid with their investigation into the collapse of the towers during the attack on the World Trade Center. They are requesting reports from all tenants of the building. Only one problem. He died in the collapse. Are these people complete and utter fools or what? Didn't they even consider crosschecking the tenant list against the casualty list? UN-FUCKING-BELIEVABLE!!!!
Miss Molly on why W seems unable to see the connection between his actions and the damage done by them.
Saturday, December 06, 2003
Looking for the perfect place to take the new date you just met over at ImSoLonely.com? Check out this great resource. 100's of gross and disgusting bars from all over the world, from Moscow, Russia to Bellefonte, PA. Sure to impress.
Slipstream does not define a category, but suggests an approach, an attitude, an interest or obsession with thinking the unthinkable or doing the undoable. Slipstream can be visionary, unreliable, odd or metaphysical. It's not magical realism: it's a larger concept that contains magical realism. Some familiar recent slipstream examples: Margaret Atwood's novel The Handmaid's Tale, the films Memento or Being John Malkovich, the opera Jerry Springer. Other novelists who have from time to time carried the slipstream torch include Anthony Burgess, Haruki Murakami, Don DeLillo, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, John Banville, John Fowles, Paul Auster and Dino Buzatti.
Teresa Nielson-Hayden on the art of the Mary Sue. A nice intro to the hidden complexities with many good links. Especially good on the use of Mary Sue-ism as lit-crit. Is "The Left Hand Of Darkness" really a Mary Sue? Who'd have thunk it?
The Grand PooBah Sleeze of All Sleezes among the neocons has outdone himself. His financial chicanery has been so blatant this time that even BushCo might have to act against him. Tsk...Tsk...Tsk...
A Chick Tract crossed with The Old Ones. It's a Truth that had to be told.
View from Australia of the general cultural failure of globalization.
The terrorist group that BushCo forgot (so that they could go after Saddam) has returned with a vengence. Scary footage of a training camp and new views of the 9/11 attacks that prove these guys aren't a bunch of pathetic amateurs. These guys are the main threat.
Good article on the use of computers in the Republican gerrymandering effort in Texas and elsewhere. Scary stuff.
Friday, December 05, 2003
Clarke on the future of communication, from OneWorld.SouthAsia
A BBCinteractive channel webcasting classic BBC Radio comedy, drama, and book intepretations. A spoken word lover's dream. The Goon Show, Dr. Who, Terry Prachett's Wyrd Sisters, Pickwick Papers, 39 Steps and more this month. A real feast.
OH HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY! Mike Nichols is planning to bring "The Search for the Holy Grail" to the Broadway stage...as, of course, "Spamelot." At last, a reason to think past next year's fearsome elections. A reason to carry on regardless...
(and about an hour of editing by the poster...)
On my Harley Davidson I ride
Dear Persephone at my side,
Thanks to plans well thought and laid
For the easy smighting of sweet Hades.
Beginning past our castles dear.
Swiftly diving into lakes of drear
Slowly now appears the sea.
No silk'd ever known arranity,
We're idly watched by distant kin,
So sound of mind, yet not true in.
'Til then I had never been a madman
Made of shiny uncontrolled abandon,
Singing loudly of my soul's contempt,
Of hair brushed dreams I'd sadly dreamt,
Yet how easily did those dreams depart,
When shown the opium den of your heart.
O Love profound, what strange thing are ye?
Clearly now thou doest unnerve me.
Upon fresh bellflowers dripping dew
I cry hard now, the loss is you.
Quickly then, claw doors held closed
Cast in circles--pain exposed
But hope for me no morning dove,
Rather sits here a mourning love.
This will sure rev up that 18th level half-orc assassin you've been playing lately.
Lot Description: A ROMAN GLASS GAMING DIE
Circa 2nd Century A.D.
Deep blue-green in color, the large twenty-sided die incised with a distinct symbol on each of its faces 2 1/16 in. (5.2 cm.) wide
Estimate: 4,000 - 6,000 U.S. dollars
Provenance: Acquired by the current owner's father in Egypt in the 1920s.
Lot Notes: Several polyhedra in various materials with similar symbols are known from the Roman period. Modern scholarship has not yet established the game for which these dice were used.
Christopher Allbritton is returning to Iraq as an indepedent journalist. This is A VERY GOOD THING. We will have a source we can trust for information on how the war is going. He is looking for donations to help pay his way to Baghdad.
Welcome to Poetry 180, a project from Billy Collins, Past Poet Laureate of the US. Poetry can and should be an important part of our daily lives. Poems can inspire and make us think about what it means to be a member of the human race. By just spending a few minutes reading a poem each day, new worlds can be revealed.
Top US climate scientists say (listen up BushCo) there is no doubt about the human cause of global warming.
Thursday, December 04, 2003
Once again, the totally surprising Robert Byrd proves why he is becoming known as the conscience of the Senate.
Bravo, Senator! Bravo!
Website promoting the art of freeway blogging, using large signs on overpasses as protest venues. Lots of examples and a decent how-to section. Good Stuff.
Peter Jackson returned home for the triumphant premiere of the third LOTR film.
Well, now there's hard evidence that males have been around for at least 425 million years. Lots of time for us to have gotten into trouble...
Thanks to a swan dive in the price of swans, the 12 Day Index is sharply lower this year.
This is good news indeed. It means that we may be able to replace our use of oil as a fuel and use a greater part of our remaining oil reserves as material for manufacturing instead.
A blending of two of my favorite things, SF and opera. Sadly, the great SF operatic masterpiece has yet to be written.
A congressional candidate in Alabama, Michael Williams, has a unique proposal: Create a Science Fiction tax.
A nice fat monetary prize for poetry.
So, scoff not, thou ticklish fiend
Fetched like this bone,
That the fair dog gripped in his teeth.
Solstice hunted, but did not find thee,
Tossed and turned, his lustful eye useless,
For, as ever, thy beak had taken its toll.
The US military has discharged nearly 40 Arabic translaters because it has found out that they were -GASP- gay. So this rabid homophobia serves as a justification for weakening our fight against terroism. Of course, we have so many Arabic speakers in the military already that losing a few shouldn't matter, right? It is to weep.
Kevin Phillips on the hidden dangers to the Republicans of having their convention in New York. And the opportunities that a vigorously fought primary season could present to the Democrats
As an asthma sufferer, I take BushCo's attacks on the Clean Air Act personally. Here is Dr. Dean's position paper on the issue. It's another in a growing list of reasons I will vote for him for President.
Lesley at Plum Crazy reminds us that even on the best of days life is merely a Monty Python skit.
Peter Bergen on Laurie Mylroie, the Neocons' favorite conspiracy theorist. She seems to find it easier to believe in the existence of a vast cabal of thousands of bureaucrats in the US government dedicated to protecting Saddam rather than overwhelming evidence showing al Qaida to be a loose organization of independent terrorists.
Wednesday, December 03, 2003
In the latest attack on the Clean Air Act, BushCo proposes loosening the standards on mercury emissions from power plants.
Mercury is a potent neurotoxin, particularly dangerous to pregnant women, babies and small children.
It has become obvious that the only thing miraculous about the performance of the Houston school system was its ability to teach kids how to take the Texas Achievment Test. Most graduates do no better, many in fact even do worse, than their national counterparts when in college. The kids are scammed on two counts. They are cheated out of an education and they are set up for failure in the real world.
A perspective on BushCo from one of the more 'liberal' Egyptian newspapers. This view is shared by most in the Middle East and many people are even harsher in their rhetoric. It's information I'm certain the Resident is not being given by his news screeners.
Umberto Eco on the future of the book and why we will always want and need it.
Correspondents' Corner, if this were still Friday:
Name: Charles Pierce
Hometown: Newton, MA
Eric - Because Every Day - even Thanksgiving Day - is Slacker Friday. Part XXIII.
During the extended JFK obsequies last weekend, I had one of those toss-the-remote moments when I heard Gerald Posner explain the stubborn persistence of conspiracy theories concerning the events in Dealey Plaza. It happened when Posner's speculated that conspiracy theories survive because We - you know The People, see Madison, James: The Collected Works - find it hard to believe that a nut with a $12 rifle can take down a major historical figure.
I'm sorry, but this is all bollocks, as my cousins say. It is a perfect statement of the kind of infantilization that is central to our devalued national discourse. You heard the same sort of thing during the extended mishigas in Florida three years ago. 'We' had to short-circuit the constitutional process because 'We' couldn't stand the length of time those processes would have taken. This, despite the fact that the country was doing just fine, and it had a president who, you know, really liked the job and likely would have worked the extra couple of hours it would have taken for Tom DeLay to steal the election in the House, the way the Founders intended. Instead, we had Tim Russert holding our binkies for us while Nino and Silent Clarence threw the Constitution under a bus.
Look at the pathetic doings in Washington this week. The Republicans passed a campaign commercial.There is not a single serious person who believes that the new Medicare feedbag - Subsidies for HMO's and the Democrats couldn't beat that? - will affect no change on any public problem at all. (And I will bet Bill Frist a dead cat that, when the prescription drug benefit is supposed to kick in in ?06, 'budgetary considerations' will call for it to be 'postponed.') It has to do with positioning for the 2004 race, because all 'We' are interested in is the horse race. The Congress passed a myth, a fairy tale, the equivalent of a Sense Of The Senate resolution that Unicorns Shall Be Preserved On All Federal Lands. But we got coverage of The Big Win and The Big Loss.
Bad things are making themselves permanent, and it's time for people to notice. Barney Frank, who does not easily panic, has looked around himself and has seen the 'end of parliamentary democracy' in America. HRC sees it, too. A general says one more bad terrorist episode and we're Pinochet's Chile. Mainstream political journalism is bad kabuki theater at best. We are spoken to like children, and we deserve (and should demand) better. Grow up, the lot of you down there. We're already there, waiting.
Time reports on the hell that is Guantanamo. A place where attempted suicide is branded "manipulative behavior" by those administering the base, where innocent men who have been sold to the US by Afghan warlords out for the al-Qaida bounty wait years for "a politically propitious moment" to be released, a place in Cuba where the US does all the things to its prisoners that we have accused Castro of doing to his. It makes you proud to be an American. .... Gag......Retch.
A review of a new collection of the work of Franz Rosenzweig, German theologian and teacher of Leo Strauss.
From the review: "The coming millennium will go down in world history as a struggle between Orient and Occident, between the church and Islam, between the Germanic peoples and the Arabs," proclaimed Franz Rosenzweig in 1920. These ominous words appear in a collection of the German-Jewish theologian's writings about Islam, published in Berlin earlier this year. It is the most dangerous book I have read in a generation, for Rosenzweig (1886-1929) considered Islam a pagan "parody", "caricature" and "plagiarism" of Christianity and Judaism.
Object shows that neanderthalers were sophisticated enough to produce 'art.'
Get your mojo working. Origins and usage of some familiar idioms.
Paul Krugman on the electronic voting machine scam.
Tuesday, December 02, 2003
The imminent and inevitable decline in world oil production is leaving politicians speechless. None of them want to talk about it.
New York is a major battleground for the SuperTuesday primary on March 2.
With jobs running for the border and their bravest coming home dead and wounded from Iraq, are the "red" states really that secure for BushCo? Never underestimate the common sense of the American middle.
Is this the end of the local community booksale? Will used bookstores lose one of their traditional sources of stock and will local donators lose the chance to keep books in their community?
Monday, December 01, 2003
Ah, that's much better. Another web quiz reveals that I am actually Fidel. Light me up a nice cigar. The truth at last....
Revolutionary Dictator - Down with the System!
What Kind of Dictator Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla
I'm so utterly embarrassed to report that the best I could do was being Tony Blair. I'm terribly sorry, Mom. Don't let Grandad throw me out of the Wobblies. I'll do better next time.
To the outside world, Post executive editor Leonard Downie is a mild-mannered working stiff who will never be Ben Bradlee. Inside the Bush White House, he's a journo-terrorist. One senior administration official called him "Osama bin Downie" and said the Post was "leading a jihad against the Bush administration."
Once again, the Bushies show that they want to dish it out, but are unable to take it in return.
Sunday, November 30, 2003
I look upon this report with much skepticism. As a lifelong sufferer of a true phobia (birds, of all the stupid things), a sometime claustrophobe, and a person decidedly uneasy when near the edges of high places, (not to mention dozens of competing and conflicting neurotic tensions), I've tried just about everything in the therapy arsenal to try to get a grip. Now they are telling me I just have to take a pill? We'll see.
Saturday, November 29, 2003
Soon the horribly inefficient lightbulb will be a thing of the past. Imagine lighting a room with 4 watts of power, using a bulb that will last 60 years, and costs about $3.
1. Successfully catered to heavily bankrolled special interests and giant multinational corporations while totally ignoring the needs of working Americans, retirees, and the environment.
2. Successfully squandered the entire stock of worldwide empathy and goodwill that accrued to America following 9/11 by invading Iraq under false pretenses and without the approval of the United Nations.
3. Successfully told all other nations 'you are either with us or against us,' thus reducing the art of American diplomacy to the language and tactics of schoolyard bullies.
4. Successfully avoided his military responsibilities by deserting from the U. S. Air Force, and then used his father's connections to avoid prosecution.
5. Successfully attended over 40 political fundraisers in 2003, but did not attend any of the funerals for the hundreds of U.S. soldiers who lost their lives.
6. Successfully rammed a prescription drug program through Congress that promises to destroy Medicare by providing windfall profits to drug companies, HMOs, and insurance companies, and hardly any benefits for seniors.
7. Successfully presided over more executions than any other governor in America's history.
8. Successfully rammed the USA Patriot Act through an unwary Congress, thus dealing the greatest blow to civil rights ever experienced in America.
9. Successfully expanded the role of the military to spy on Americans, a mission unprecedented in American history.
10. Successfully ignored the statement of General Tommy Franks, the man appointed by Bush II to plan and execute the disastrous American invasion of Iraq, that any future terrorist attacks on the U.S. would lead to the suspension of the U.S. Constitution and military rule in America.
11. Successfully used counterterrorism law to chill free speech and the right to peaceably assemble by directing the FBI to investigate individuals and groups protesting his pre-emptive military doctrine and elective wars.
12. Successfully smears all those who disagree with his new American militarism as unpatriotic.
13. Successfully ordered American reserve units into action in Iraq without upgrading their equipment to the level of protection afforded regular Army units.
14. Successfully parades as a deeply religious Christian, yet he daily ignores Jesus as he pursues war instead of peace.
15.Successfully looted the U.S. Treasury of nearly $3 trillion to provide payoffs to the 1% of Americans who are already wealthy, effectively saddling 99% of us, and future generations, with new debt of $125,000 to $250,000 per person.
16. Successfully labeled his looting of the U.S. Treasury as tax cuts for for everyone. Actually, the zero to $200 in tax relief that low and middle-income groups did receive was more than offset by increases in local property and state taxes, tuition hikes, and increased energy costs, all made necessary to offset Bush II budget cuts and military adventurism. Meanwhile, the average millionaire (Bush II campaign contributors) received payoffs averaging over $90,000.
17. Successfully transfigured the huge federal budget surplus created by Democrats into an endless sea of Republican red ink (deficits).
18. Successfully cut federal funding for the delivery of vital state and local services to disadvantaged and needy people, deviously labeling the cuts as necessary to reduce the Republican-created deficit.
19. Successfully ignored intelligence reports warning that a 9/11-type attack was imminent, and refuses to cooperate with legally constituted commissions that are investigating what really happened on and before 9/11.
20. Successfully avoided responding to the inquiries of the families of the 9/11 victims, calling their unanswered questions unimportant and unnecessary. By and large the mass media, with only rare exceptions, ignores the unanswered questions.
21. Successfully leaked the name of an undercover CIA agent (a felony) to the press, and has refused to cooperate in the continuing criminal investigation of White House personnel to find the leaker.
22. Successfully expanded weapons spending (including vast new funding for the research and development of new nuclear weapons) beyond anything needed for real national security for the sole purpose on enriching family and friends.
23. Successfully ignored the needs of 45 million Americans, mostly women and children, who cannot afford health insurance.
24. Successfully staged a chauffeured landing on an aircraft carrier to announce victory in Iraq, thus falsely portraying himself as a hero when in fact no such victory had obtained.
25. Successfully promised to find bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but failed to deliver on the promises.
26. Successfully protected approximately 20 members of the bin Laden family by secretly spiriting them out of the U.S. the day after 9/11.
27. Successfully stalled an investigation into whether or not NORAD received orders to stand down on or before 9/11.
28. Successfully drafted a Roadmap for Peace in the Middle East, but has instead pursued a policy of war, war, and more war.
29. Successfully told hundreds of lies to the American people.
30. Successfully aided and abetted the consolidation of the mass media so that a few billionaires now control what is euphemistically called America's free press.
31. Successfully created heightened global instability and insecurity by withdrawing America from important longstanding treaty obligations.
32. Successfully encouraged anti-democratic campaign fund-raising and special interest lobbying practices that are really nothing but outright bribery.
33. Successfully waged a continuing war on women by aggressively trying to restrict a woman's right to choose.
34. Successfully waged war on the environment by dismantling sections of landmark environmental legislation including the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.
35. Successfully waged a continuing war on working Americans by promoting the export of their jobs overseas and hindering the rights of workers to form unions and receive overtime pay.
36. Successfully waged a continuing war on the elderly and on future generations of Americans with efforts to cripple Medicare and Social Security, and failed to do anything protect employee pension plans from unscrupulous employers.
37. Successfully waged a continuing war against the bedrock American principles that separate church from state by attempting to transform our public schools into houses of worship and funding faith-based organizations with taxpayer dollars.
38. Successfully curtailed the development of cures for major diseases by overly restricting stem cell research.
39. Successfully violated two international laws (The Hague Regulations of 1907 and the Geneva Convention of 1949 and the US Army code of war) by ignoring the Iraqi Constitution which forbids the privatization of key state assets and bars foreigners from owning Iraqi firms.
40. Successfully aided and abetted the expansion of the anti-democratic powers of giant multinational corporations, and failed to prosecute gross corporate criminality.
41. Successfully destroyed America's credibility in the United Nations and throughout the world by opting to pursue elective wars, thereby creating conditions favorable for the intensification of terrorism, and removing America from the world's family of nations.
42. Successfully introduced an inept economic program that failed to create a single American job, lowered wage rates, and lost 3 million American jobs.
43. Successfully implemented schemes (phony tax cuts and excessive weapons spending) that served as means to transfer large chunks of our national wealth from working people to the 1% who are already wealthy.
44. Successfully transformed America into the target of choice for ridicule from abroad.
45. Successfully created a Department of Homeland Security to protect Americans from terrorist attacks, but did not provide the funds necessary to do the job.
46. Successfully invaded Iraq without any exit strategy, a catastrophic planning blunder that is now costing hundreds of American lives, thousands of American casualties, thousands of Iraqi lives, and hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars.
47. Successfully created near total chaos in Afghanistan by installing a puppet regime whose authority is limited to Kabul (the capitol city), allowing the rest of the country to fall into violent anarchy and become the world's # 1 supplier of heroin and safe haven of choice for terrorists.
48. Successfully handed global terrorism victories by failing to destroy al Qaeda and the Taliban, and by curtailing the civil rights of every American. Al Qaeda is regrouping and stronger than ever. The Taliban are regrouping in Afghanistan and positioning themselves to topple the American installed government.
49. Successfully cut funds for veterans' health care and raised eligibility requirements.
50. Successfully reduced hazardous duty compensation for veterans.
51. Successfully created an energy plan that entirely fails to address America's strategic need to become energy independent, while providing substantial tax relief to the full array of Republican-run energy companies. Fortunately, the plan failed to win Congressional approval.
52. Successfully aided and abetted the recall of Governor Gray Davis for the purpose of delivering California in 2004 presidential election.
53. Successfully elevated the sophistication of political rhetoric by calling environmentalists 'green, green, lima beans.'
54. Successfully portrays himself as a Texas rancher when even his wife refers to him as a 'windshield cowboy.'
55. Successfully promotes himself as a self-made rugged individualist when, in fact, his entire education and career was built on the use of his father's name to gain entry into Harvard and Yale and to attract large sums of investment capital.
56. Successfully promised to leave no child behind (educationally speaking), and then delivered nothing but an unfunded mandate that thwarts all efforts to level America's educational playing field.
57. Successfully destroyed the infrastructure of Iraq and then committed hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to rebuilding it; meanwhile, the rebuilding of America's crumbling infrastructure is all but ignored.
58. Successfully created numerous opportunities for Republican-run companies to profit from his disastrous pre-emptive war policy (the invasion of Iraq was based on pre-emption even though Bush knew Iraq posed no threat to the U.S. or its neighbors). An example of Republican war profiteering is Halliburton (Cheney's old company), which charges the U.S. Army in Iraq nearly $2.00 a gallon for gas that they could purchase from Iraqis for five to ten cents a gallon.
58. Successfully but unnecessarily put our troops in harms way in Iraq.
60. Successfully announced a series of false terrorist threats that unnecessarily spread fear and loathing throughout America for the sole purpose of promoting Bush's elective wars and fooling the Americans into thinking their government was hard at work protecting them.
61. Successfully transformed the executive branch of government into an operation more secretive than the CIA and far more threatening than organized crime or any terrorist organization ever could be.
A more intimate look at Dean, a candidate who refuses to use the personal for the political.
Many of Dean's staunchist political opponents in Vermont none the less will support him for the Presidency.
Even the normally loyal Robert Novak is taken aback by the viciousness of the methods used by the leadership to pass the medicare fraud.
More on the tactics used by BushCo to win approval of the disgraceful medicare payoff to the pharmo-industry.
Article discusses how the West has cast al-Qaida as a mythical multinational all encompassing centralized organization. In fact it is not even a formal alliance of groups. It is a range of groups united more by commonality of ideology rather than control. And not recognizing this fact makes fighting it so much more difficult
Molly uses her normal tact to discuss the Medicare bill and the big energy company welfare act.
Nice article on the regional flavor of Texas dialect.
The view from Moscow on the latest Ashcroftian maneuvers against our freedom. Particularly useful to read in light of Putty-Put's recent actions against the oligarchs of Russia.
Erik Alterman on that prize war criminal, Robert McNamara.
American troops in Liberia refused to take malaria pills, because they feared the side effects more than bullets. How rumor, myth and official indifference led to over half the Marines in Liberia contracting serious cases of malaria.
Fifty years after being proclaimed a forgery, the Piltdown Man still raises a controversy. Who actually perpetrated the fraud?
A protein implicated in hypertension may be the point of attack used by the SARS virus.
George Soros continues to put his money where his mouth is. The world's most leftest billionaire strikes again.
Howard Dean receives endorsement of the powerful NYC Queens Boro party leaders.
Nicholas Kristof suggests that part of our problem in Iraq is the lack of a catchy title for the war. His readers respond.
Another bit of the spiritual heart of Native America is targeted for destruction. The reason, why thar's gold in them there hills!
Hard on the SARS outbreak, Canada plans for a difficult flu season.
The Fijian long legged warbler, thought extinct for over a century, reveals itself to birders cataloging the forrests of Fiji.
Interesting. The BBC seems to be able to find information on Mullah Omar. Why can't we?
The New Big Thing in Irish cinema.
The official response from the CIA to the criticism of US intelligence efforts prior to the start of the war. Most interesting to read in light of the strong efforts by the neocons to lay the blame for the mess at the feet of the CIA.
Article on research into advanced space propulsion systems. Most interesting.
The latest thing, religious fantasy epic rpg computer games. A couple of them don't sound half bad...
The scientific consortium trying to develop fushion power has narrowed its choices of reactor locations to two, France or Japan.
Friday, November 28, 2003
This site collects opinion polls from all over the net. Very Useful.
The perfect solstice gift. So many to choose from....
More Galactic languages fun.
For your next apperance before the High Council.
Ahh, the joy of fractured English. All you base is ours!
The mother of all paranoia sites, Steve Quayle tracks everything. Aliens, Mad Cow Disease, missing microbiologists, terrorism, suitcase nukes, unexplained natural phenomena. A modern day Charles Fort with enough scientific information to make his stuff disquieting in extreme. Delightfully full bodied paranoia.
'Sick building syndrome' may literally be caused by bacteria.
The American Verse Project is a collaborative project between the University of Michigan Humanities Text Initiative (HTI) and the University of Michigan Press. The project is assembling an electronic archive of volumes of American poetry prior to 1920. The full text of each volume of poetry is being converted into digital form with access provided through the WWW. A great resource.
Absolutely the best environmental information/statistics site on the web. LOTS of maps and graphs. Just the place to start research on an environmental question.
British firm develops affordable home based wind generation power units. Units cost about $1200 and generate 750 watts of power at 240 volts with as little as 3 mph of wind.
An academic archive of the important documents, visual and written, of the Nazis. Most of Goebbels' major articles and speeches are presented here in translation. A scary and dreadful assemblage. Read. Learn. Remember. Never again.
Tools for reducing your footprint on the Earth.
Many links to material on the peak oil scenario. This is the big one folks. The one that's going to change things more than anything else in our lifetimes.
Need a quick bit of verse? Feeling uncreative. Use the handy poetry creator. Enter a few words, hit generate, a bit of judicious editing and viola!
Not bad for five minutes work, eh?
The Swift Meow
Eating sharks as snack food,
The purring for each slaying
Like Semper Fi in the eye,
Or Hermes humming to his scale.
Then onward, watching her sweet Jesus cry,
As he tiptoed homeward in the blood,
And her ghost was stifled in its fit of rage,
Just as the brittle leaf has maimed the tree.
Heads whip back when crushed,
Against The Crab Exploded,
Leaving in its wake
A litter of shiny unused subway tokens.
Thursday, November 27, 2003
HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HAH. Delightfully sick.
How Wal-Mart's clout makes life more difficult for workers in their suppliers factories.
As the stench of corruption grows, BushCo doesn't even try to spray a bit of room deodorant about.
Has Harold II's grave been found at last?
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
Just in case you last ex wasn't selfish enough, try looking here at the new dating service just for followers of Ayn Rand. Frankly, I didn't know that Objectivists even acknowledged needing any relationship other than the ongoing one with themselves.
If races are defined as genetically discrete groups, no, race does not exist. But researchers can use some genetic information to group individuals into clusters with medical relevance.
More on the continuing efforts to authenticate the "Vineland" map.
A diet high in choline may clear the middle aged fuzzies.
Ah, the Glory of Old State. The Trustees still have no accountabilty.
14 reasons to be thankful this year, on Thanksgiving Day. Amen to all that.
WalMart vs. Unions in southern California. Long article on the growing battle.
More on the repercussions of the badly flawed Medicare drug "benefit."
Howard Dean is not a "tax and spend liberal" no matter how hard his opponents try to tar him with that brush. In fact, his record in Vermont shows him to be a determined fiscal conservative. More power to him. I say.
Will retirees scream bloody murder once they realize the fraud Congress has committed in the new drug "benefit" law? Only time will tell.
The next step in the free speech war. Don't be too liberal, Mr. Scholar, or you will end up on our little list.
Once again, the Bushies show their fear of criticism. Ideas with merit stand up to questioning. Only people unsure of the truth of what they are saying react so strongly.
Ashcroft tightens the information gathering web another notch. Getting harder to breathe free by the minute.
Friday, November 21, 2003
Catchy little tune about the horrors of buying the wrong fruit.
French police chief gloats as he locks up recaptured garden gnomes who had been thought freed by the Gnome Liberation Front.
Nice graphical site full of info and comparisons on the fund raising aspect of the presidential election. Info down to the county level for each candidate and a combined map showing which party has done the best on a county by county level. Also has the same info mapped state by state.
The first part of the new animated Dr. Who episodes are available on the BBC website. Quite nice, and I say that as one not particularly disposed to seek out The Good Doctor.
It's official. The cause of the summer blackout is laid squarely at the foot of FirstEnergy, the Ohio based utility that is one of the largest contributors to the Resident's campaign.
The Resident was welcomed with open scorn from hundreds of thousands of British citizens, who urged him to return home and clean up the mess he had made in Iraq.
Thursday, November 20, 2003
Hope on Appalachia Alumni Association links to two reports discussing the proposed changes in Medicare. As written, the seniors with the most need for help would see their fees escalate. Compassionate Conservatism strikes again.
Hope on Appalachia Alumni Association links to results from a new and damning poll by the Program on International Policy Attitudes of public opinion toward the Iraq War. It is not good news for the Resident. Links also to the questionaire used and a discussion on survey methodology. A very useful site.
Tuesday, November 18, 2003
Computers to aid in the study of word patterns and usage.
More exciting events from the outer reaches of the Solar System
BushCo continues its relentless attack on the puny rights of those now serving in or with past service to our military. Bush, who will receive a pension of $200,000 a year upon leaving the White House, is trying to lower medical and pension benefits for war veterans. Everything for the Men he has stated. Apparently by this he meant Halliburton execs, not people serving in the Armed Forces.
Tony Blair is likely to pay a high price for his support of The Resident Idiot. It's our job to see that The Bush Baby is also put out on the unemployment line come next November.
$28 Million to get DRAFT READY BY JUNE 15, 2005!!
Oh, so there are "no plans" to re-instate the draft? No, there are just EXERCISES and $28 million extra to get the whole Selective Service ready and open for business by June 15, 2005!
Read this official budget carefully and you will see that Bush is gearing up the draft--there is no longer any doubt about it. Selective Service must report to Bush on March 31, 2005, that the system is ready for activation within 75 days. So on June 15, 2005, expect the announcement that the first draft lottery since Vietnam will be held for 20 year-olds.
To put this all into context, the SSS has lain basically dormant for decades and now in the 2004 budget, Bush has added $28 million to get the whole thing ready to fly in 2005. The 4 performance goals below basically make the system ready for activation.
This FY 2004 APP identifies the activities and strategies that will take place during the fiscal year to achieve Agency goals and objectives. It also identifies relevant performance
measurement target goals to be achieved. The performance goals for FY 2004 are:
1. Develop an Area Office Prototype Exercise that will test the Health Care Personnel Delivery System (HCPDS) work flows and support programs.
2. Redefine Agency infrastructure based on a Quinquennial Workload Study.
3. Prepare and conduct an Area Office Prototype Exercise which tests the activation process from SSS Lottery input to the issuance of the first Armed Forces Examination Orders.
4. Ensure 90% of people tested are capable of implementing activation procedures.
5. Ensure that 95% of the predefined readiness objectives are attained and validated during an Area Office Prototype Exercise.
6. Train 90% of assigned State Directors (SDs) and Reserve Force Officers (RFOs) on HCPDS and Timed-Phased Response (TPR) functions and responsibilities.
7. Attain a 92% or greater compliance rate for men 18 through 25 years old.
8. Attain and appoint Registrars in 85% of the Nation’s high schools.
9. Obtain 75% of all registrations electronically.
10. Maintain an average systems change request implementation time of 39 days.
11. Maintain a functional proponent and customer satisfaction level of 87%.
12. Have a telephone call completion rate of 93% or higher.
13. Answer correspondence in less than 10 days.
14. Train 90% of assigned SDs and RFOs on Alternative Service plans and procedures.
ANNUAL PERFORMANCE REPORT
An annual report providing the results of the implementation of these performance measures will be submitted by March 31, 2005. This report will address attained versus planned levels of performance, explain unattained target levels, and identify where and how strategies, performance goals, and performance indicators should be changed to ensure that the SSS reaches its strategic and annual goals and objectives.
"Embarrassed" by questions shouted to him by MP's during his speech at the Australian Parliament, The Bush Baby has decided he can't face the questioning he would receive in Britain.
Somehow, there's just something fundamentally wrong with the idea of Scottish wines.
Two new studies strengthen the case for human modification of the climate during the second half of the 20th century.
Monday, November 17, 2003
This has major implications. I wonder if it holds true for sexist attitudes, homophobes and religion as well?
Ahh, a nasty little bit of paranoia for you today, kiddies. Nothing to worry about immediately, this one is rarely fatal during the initial infection. But 30 years or so later your heart and liver literally explode. Happy dreams.
Friday, November 14, 2003
This just looks wonderful.
Having problems keeping things straight without a scorecard? Here's a guide to the 20 odd factions, parties, and governments tangled up in the Palesinian/Israeli morass.
One more bit of shabbiness from the government that 'says' the soldiers come first. I'm sure Rumsfeld's checks came on time.
Thursday, November 13, 2003
Will the ET's try to take over our keyboards? Lord knows, if they're using Windows XP themselves, they'll be lucky if they don't end up spamming themselves to death.
The Tamil State Prime Minister who took on the press comes out swinging. Other papers In India call her a 'fruitcake." Oh what will she do next?
Once more, Hoover's Boys defended us against the Marxist threat.
The infamous Nazi poison-gas manufacturer IG Farben is insolvent, possibly leaving thousands of former forced laborers trying to claim compensation out in the cold.
Since it's the time of year we honor those who have served our country by defending it from external enemies, I thought it would be useful to remind ourselves of the true extent of Resident's role in that defense while in the Texas Air National Guard.
Ahh, the land of the free apparently isn't the home of the brave as anti-war vets find out when they are ejected from a Veteran's Day parade in Florida
Long article detailing AG Ashcroft's lifelong history of ties to racist organizations. Many links.
Despite proclaiming official policy to the contrary, in the past two months the military has sharply increased its harassment of journalists in Iraq .
A GREAT source for progressive news. Sign up for their free daily news email.
And people on the right are worried about Dr. Dean's temper? Oh the humanity!
The next big unionization fight will be between the big box retailers and their underpaid, underinsured employees. Since the big boxes operate on a cut staffing costs to the bone, then cut below that basis, it promise to be a bitter battle. This is a link to the blog of the union that is fighting for representation at the Border's home store in Ann Arbor.
Wednesday, November 12, 2003
A great idea: free lessons from a great music school. Check it out.
Tuesday, November 11, 2003
Essay on the "tragic flaw" in the American character that makes winning the intelligence war against terrorists so much more difficult. Quite insightful, and to the point.
The Mayor of London has made it clear to his police chief that he wants no interference with the exercise of free speech during W's London visit. The Americans have made it clear that all demonstrations are to be kept at maximum distance, perhaps in Moscow or Capetown. Who will prevail?
Wee, at least something went right in the world this week.
New proposal would ok fox hunting (complete with hounds) on private preserves in Pennsylvania. What's next, a PA upperclass twit of the year competition?
'I feel guilty to be alive'
The Iraq conflict was John Simpson's 34th war and, thanks to the American bomb that killed his translator, it was nearly his last.
Another country's citizens see their right to peaceably assemble denied so that Our Dear Leader won't be seen in the same TV frame as the protestors, thereby saving his image of being universally loved.
Another hidden cost of the war is revealed.
Anti-war groups plan protests in London, which have contributed to a decision by Downing Street to cancel plans for the (P)Resident to address both Houses of Parliament.
Hey, that's not fair. We had to listen to that fatuous idiot Tony Blair speak before Congress. They should have to listen to our fatuous idiot mumble before Parliament as well.
Nyah, Nyah! Our Billionaire can beat your Billionaire!
Al-Qaida claimed responsibility for the attacks in Riyadh and warned "those 'who work and live with Americans', adding that 'their killing was permitted' according to religious edicts."
Looks like the Republicans really do intend to take their ball and go home.
Once again, Rummie is trying to pay for the growing cost of the Iraq War by cutting the pitiful benefits given the families of service personal. Have they no shame at all? And I'll lay odds he's still riding around in a DOD limo.
Science Times ask the what are the 25 most provocative questions?
Select the year you were born, press submit, and via computers on the "internet" we will tell you your own individual time frame for "back in the day".
Monday, November 10, 2003
Determine the level of good or evil inherent in a website by textual numerology. The Daily Blatt sadly proved too complex for this little engine to parse, but it determined that our sister rantblog, Ruptured Spleen, is 45% evil. A bit light, if you ask us.
God, are we starting to shoot the 'collaborators' ourselves now? Is this just some new way to save time?
Good explanation of weapons being used by "insurgents" in Iraq and elseware
Heaven forfend that the Dear Leader should be questioned. String this guy up by his toes. Flog him!
Creates 20,000 Jobs for Halliburton in Last Quarter
Bush's use of fear as a tactical political weapon is enough to take the fun out of Paranoia.
This piece asks a good question, where have all the white Democrats in the south gone? And if you are one, why don't you say so?
Where do BID's belong on the public/private spectrum?
Another useful online journal, full of paranoia inducing information.
The online archive of the CDC's journal on new infectious dieases. A marvelous source of both usable information and paranoia.
Results indicate that any of the major plans can yield good results. Since the issue becomes your ability to stick to a diet for a sufficient period, the best indicator of success would seem to be picking the diet which you "like" the most.
The entire run of the medical journal Lancet is now available online.