Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Now THIS is holiday cheer....

One of the best covers I have ever heard....

Check out their other stuff..  Phenominal group...

Tip of the old sombrero to Kolchak for turning me on to these guys. I was having a truly horrible day...and it just went away....

Monday, December 15, 2008

Thank You Weird Al

The only Christmas carol I can abide...


Of course I was immediately proven wrong about that as my bloggy buddy Neddie reminded all of us here.

"Bark us all bow-wows of folly"   Ain't it the truth...

Monday, December 01, 2008

On the shuffle this afternoon

1.  Namania                      Habib Koite                                
2.  Toubala Kone              Amadou Et Mariam                
3.  Here                              Salif Keita                                    
4.  Diaraby                        Ry Cooder & Ali Farka Touré    
5.  7 Seconds                      Youssou N'Dour                          
6.  Diablo Rojo                    Rodrigo Y Gabriela  
7.  Petit Pays                      Cesaria Evora  
8.  USA                                Akoya  
9.  Tessassategn Eko         Bahta Gebre-Heywet    
10. On verra ça                   Orchestra Baobab  
11. Sunday Arak                 Balkan Beat Box  
12. Uhiki (Pinye's Rmx)    Hardstone  
13. Massakè                        Habib Koite  
14. N’Teri                            Habib Koite  
15. Safarini                          Frank Ulwenya and Afrisound  
16. Silent Moon                   Jia Peng Fang  
17. Mouna                            Amadou Et Mariam  
18. Ana Na Ming                 Salif Keita  
19. Soixante Trois               Tinariwen  
20. Lasidan                           Ry Cooder & Ali Farka Touré  
21. Mustt Mustt                   Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan  
22. Ndeleng Ndeleng           Orchestra Baobab  
23. Aicha (Version Mixte)   Khaled  
24. Orion                                Rodrigo Y Gabriela  
25. Chan Chan                       Buena Vista Social Club 

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Poem of the Day

The Poet in the Box by Martin Espada
  for Brandon
We have a problem with Brandon, 
the assistant warden said.
He's a poet.
At the juvenile detention center
demonic poetry fired Brandon's fist
into the forehead of another inmate.
Metaphor, that cackling spirit, drove him to flip 
another boy's cafeteria tray onto the floor.
The staccato chorus rhyming in his head
told him to spit and curse 
at enemies bigger by a hundred pounds.
The gnawing in his rib cage was a craving for discipline.
Repeatedly two guards shuffled him 
to the cell called the box, solitary confinement,
masonry of silence fingered by hallucinating drifters, 
rebels awaiting execution, monks in prayer.
Then we figured it out, the assistant warden said.
He started fights so we'd throw him
in solitary, where he could write.
The box: There poetry was a grasshopper in the bowl of his hands, 
pencil chiseling letters across his notebook
like the script of a pharaoh's deeds on pyramid walls;
metaphor spilled from the light he trapped
in his eyelids, lamps of incandescent words;
rhyme harmonized through the voices
of great-grandmothers and sharecropper bluesmen 
whenever sleep began to whistle in his breath. 
So the cold was a blanket to him.
We fixed Brandon, the assistant warden said.
We stopped punishing him. He knows
that every violation means he stays here longer.
Tonight there are poets 
who versify vacations in Tuscany, 
the villa on a hill, the light of morning; 
poets who stare at computer screens 
and imagine cockroach powder 
dissolved into the coffee
of the committee that said no to tenure;
poets who drain whiskey bottles 
and urinate on the shoes of their disciples;
poets who cannot sleep as they contemplate
the extinction of iambic pentameter;
poets who watch the sky, waiting for a poem
to plunge in a white streak through blackness.
Brandon dreams of punishment,
stealing the keys from a sleepy jailer
to lock himself into the box, where he can hear
the scratching of his pencil
like fingernails on dungeon stone. 
from Alabanza: New & Selected Poems

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Some modest suggestions

My decidedly old school recommendation wishlist for the new administration. I look forward with wonder and delight (and probable amazement) to President Obama's actual choices.

Agriculture:  Kathleen Sibelius

Attorney General: Robert Kennedy, Jr.

Commerce: Michael Bloomberg

Defense: Wesley Clark  (when he becomes eligible)

Director of National Intelligence: Jane Harman

Education: Graham Spanier

Energy: Amory Lovins

EPA: Al Gore

FEMA: Douglas Wilder

Health & Human Services: Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg

Homeland Security: Janet Napolitano

Housing & Urban Development: Ellen Sahli

Interior: Olympia Snowe

Labor: Andy Stern

National Security Advisor: Richard Clarke

Poet Laureate: Martin Espada

Special Prosecutor: Dennis Kucinich

State: Bill Richardson

Transportation: Susan Kupferman 

Treasury: Paul Krugman

UN Ambassador:  Bill Clinton

Veterans Affairs:  Max Cleland

Poem of the Day

Joy, Shipmate, Joy! by Walt Whitman

  Joy! shipmate--joy!
(Pleas'd to my Soul at death I cry;)
Our life is closed--our life begins;
The long, long anchorage we leave,
The ship is clear at last--she leaps!
She swiftly courses from the shore;
Joy! shipmate--joy! 

Tuesday, November 04, 2008



Voter Diary

Just back from voting.  At 11am I was number 526 to vote. In 2006, I was number 178 at 4 pm. 2004, around 425 at that same time. This is shaping up to be a VERY high turnout.

All going smoothly in my precinct except for the common error of dividing the alphabet evenly at j/k and expecting even length lines.  From the personal experience of years of convention registration work I can tell you  that American names are weighted very heavily to the first quarter of the alphabet. Dividing registration at E or even D will get you equal length lines in most groups. As a result, the a-j line had 50 people in it while I, being R surnamed, was behind 3 when I entered the building and voted quickly.

Another pleasant surprise, my county has completed the change back to paper scan ballots since last fall. No more Dieboltian vote swallowers here.

No McCain workers outside the polling place. 4 Obama workers and a lone sad looking supporter for the local Congressional candidate.


Update: Reports on local radio say that over 1000 Penn State students were in line before polls opened at one of the downtown State College precincts. Go Lions!


A reminder:

Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote

Monday, November 03, 2008

For John McCain

Create a playlist at MixPod.com

Since we had a singing shout out to Barack Obama earlier this month, we thought it only fair to do the same for John McCain. Enjoy John.

Election Predictions

from my post to the Blatt on July 5th:


Obama will win by 323 to 215 electorial votes. The Dems will hold all the states they had in 2004 and add AK CO IN IA MT NM NV OH VA and possibly NC.

In the Senate, the Dems will pick up 10 seats in AK CO ME MN MS NC NH NM OR VA, leaving themselves one vote short of being fillibuster proof.

In the House, the Dems will have a net pick-up of 18 seats. They will give the GOP a strong run for our congressional district (PA 05), but will probably lose...it will depend on turn out in State College.


Looking back, it seems that I was too conservative on the EV count.  Obviously I am wrong about AK, but I still feel pretty confident about the rest. I'm moving NC to a win and adding MO and IN as strong possibles. Weak possibles are WV, GA, MT and ND.

O 346 to M 192  5.8% spread in popular vote

In the Senate, I am certainly wrong on ME, I stand on predicting wins in AK CO MN NC NH NM OR VA and add GA and MS as  strong possibles, meaning there is a shot at being rid of Traitor Joe.

In the House races, I now think 18 is too few, but I am not sure how many more...say a total of 32 seats picked up...

Glenn Thompson (R-unqualified idiot) will win in our local Congressional race, but Mark McCracken will do a lot better than the average someone who has spent less than $1 for every $6 of his opponent does. I say an 8% spread

All the local State House and Senate incumbents will win handily.

The water system finance bond will pass easily.

The Dems will continue to hold all the State row house offices (Auditor General, Attorney General, Treasurer, etc) 

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hey Joe Six-Pack...

via Doghouse Riley over at Bats Left/Throws Right:

The Republican National Committee paid more than $150,000 for clothing, makeup and accessories in September that apparently went to Gov. Sarah Palin and her family, according to an article on Politico.com.

That included $9,447.71 to Macy’s, $789.72 to Barneys New York, $5,102.71 to Bloomingdales; $49,425.74 to Saks Fifth Avenue and $4,902.45 to Atelier.

In one heavyweight shopping trip in early September, $75,062.63 was spent at Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis, a host city of the Republican National Convention.

The expenditures were listed on the R.N.C.’s monthly financial disclosure forms.


NEWSWEEK has also learned that Palin's shopping spree at high-end department stores was more extensive than previously reported. While publicly supporting Palin, McCain's top advisers privately fumed at what they regarded as her outrageous profligacy. One senior aide said that Nicolle Wallace had told Palin to buy three suits for the convention and hire a stylist. But instead, the vice presidential nominee began buying for herself and her family—clothes and accessories from top stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. According to two knowledgeable sources, a vast majority of the clothes were bought by a wealthy donor, who was shocked when he got the bill. Palin also used low-level staffers to buy some of the clothes on their credit cards. The McCain campaign found out last week when the aides sought reimbursement. One aide estimated that she spent "tens of thousands" more than the reported $150,000, and that $20,000 to $40,000 went to buy clothes for her husband. Some articles of clothing have apparently been lost. An angry aide characterized the shopping spree as "Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast," and said the truth will eventually come out when the Republican Party audits its books.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Pettigrew principle


Barack Obama’s campaign for the presidency is nothing less than a history-marking event, regardless of how it turns out. For those of us who attended Catholic school in the 1960s, however, the campaign is not entirely unfamiliar.

If you were attending Catholic school at that time, you could subscribe to a comic book called Treasure Chest. As you might imagine, given the time and the audience, there were lots of “educational “and “inspirational” stories in Treasure Chest. As an adult, I would probably find these stories stupid or offensive, or both…if I remembered them. Fortunately, the stories I remember are the ones that slipped in under the radar. There was a series about kids living on a space station that I remember liking, and there was 1976: Pettigrew For President..

From what I’ve been able to put together so far, 1976: Pettigrew For President ran for 10 chapters in 1964. Treasure Chest came out every two weeks, so the story played out over roughly half a school year. The title character was Gov. Timothy Pettigrew, who was running for his party’s presidential nomination in that exotic future year of 1976. I would’ve been in fifth grade when the series ran, but my parents were already wondering how much longer would I be reading those weird funnybooks.

It probably took me a couple of chapters before I realized that there was something strange about “Pettigrew.” We would never see the governor’s face. We would hear his voice as part of a telephone conversation, but, if he was in the room, his head would always be blocked by something, or someone. I knew that the strip’s creators were building up to something, but I don’t think I had any theories about what it was. So I was definitely surprised when, on the last page of the story, as he accepts his party’s nomination, Tim Pettigrew is revealed to be African-American.

I know: to an adult, this all sounds heavy-handed, at best. To a fifth-grader, though, it was anything but, even though we never find out if the governor was elected president.
For what it’s worth, there’s a similar reveal in “Judgment Day,” a story that appeared in one of the classic EC science fiction comics. In this story, a man from Earth comes to Cybrinia, a planet where humans had deposited a colony of super-intelligent robots sometime in the distant past. The visitor was to evaluate the culture the robots had developed, to see if Cybrinia was worthy for inclusion in the Galactic Republic.

While many aspects of the cybernetic culture are positive, the Earthman quickly discovers that the robots with orange skins are discriminating against the robots with blue skins. This disqualifies the Cybrinians for membership in the Republic. Throughout the story, the human visitor wears a spacesuit that obscures his face. In the last panel, though, he takes his helmet off and “the instrument lights made the beads of perspiration on his dark skin twinkle like distant stars.”

“Judgment Day” first appeared in 1953, but I first read it in Tales Of the Incredible, a paperback reprint which came out in 1965 (and is sitting beside my computer right now).

Someone named Bob Wundrock—another survivor of the Catholic School system, I’m guessing—has posted some pages from 1976: Pettigrew For President on YouTube. They confirm another memory I had of the series—Pettigrew actually looks a bit like Obama—and they provide some plot points that I’d forgotten.

Pettigrew’s major opponent for the nomination is the ominously-named Senator Oilengass. The governor picks Oilengass to as his vice president , but a typo adds some unintentional humor to the invitation. The word balloon reads: “Senator, will you run as vice-president with me? I’d be proud to have you?”

Go ahead, look at it again. I’ll wait.

Even in fifth grade, I was far enough into comics that I was looking at credit boxes and noticing artists’ signatures. So it registered on me at the time that 1976: Pettigrew For President was drawn by Joe Sinnott. Sinnott is probably best known as Jack Kirby’s inker on the Fantastic Four comic, but he was providing both pencils and inks here.

As for the writer, I still don’t know much about him. He appears to be someone named Barry Reese, but that’s all I’ve been able to find out. For the record, “Judgment Day” was drawn by Joe Orlando. I haven’t been able to find a writing credit for this story either, but stories in the classic EC comics are usually credited to Al Feldstein.

1776:Pettigrew For President may have been an indicator of the liberal trends in the Catholic Church at the time. Or it may have just slipped in under the radar. In either case, the so-called real world is finally catching up to it.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Barack O'Bama

 Obama is as white as he is black.

And he is neither as well.

This song hits exactly the right tone about something that has always baffled me about the subject of race in America. Oh I understand the "reasoning" about a "drop" of the fatal blood and all that. But if being white is so superior you'd think that well, the "good" would overcome the "bad'. Seems to me.

Of  course that doesn't stop someone who has a cousin who dated a woman who once kissed an Irishman from claiming that that makes him Irish as well.

Oh and by the way, you fucking racist asshats coming out to Gov. Palin's rallies..


Submitted without comment

From the end of last night's debate

Thursday, October 09, 2008

This is so appalling

These are the people Sarah Palin is bringing out. My God. If I were McCain I'd hang my head in shame that I'm depending on them for their votes. Unbelievably foul human beings.

This is scary friends

And all McPalin can talk about is Bill Ayers, a former radical activist who is now a Distiguished Professor of Education at the University of Illinois in Chicago. A man who has worked closely with that known bunch of radicals The Annenburg Education Foundation (snark). A man who was named "Chicago Citizen of the Year" in 1997.

The economic world is crashing down around us largely because of the policies championed by McCain and his chief economic wiz, Phil Gramm.

And all they can talk about is this meaningless gossip. 

It is to weep.

From the Mighty Pen of the Great John Cleese

via TPM:

Ode to Sean Hannity

by John Cleese

Aping urbanity 
Oozing with vanity 
Plump as a manatee 
Faking humanity 
Journalistic calamity 
Intellectual inanity 
Fox Noise insanity 
You’re a profanity 

Monday, October 06, 2008

Mr Maverick Republican

Feel the Love.

John McCain voted to support Bush over 90% of the time.

Has your life gotten better under Bush?

Has the country been made stronger?

John McCain, the original Bush Baby.

Go ahead George, you can burp him now.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

OH JOY!!!!


Bring out the fatted neocons. Line up  innocent conservative students so that their lives, spirits, and careers may be properly crushed by inappropriate leftist mental touching. Fire up the zamboni. Let the merrymaking begin.

Michael Berube, Penn State's own  member of David Horowitz's axis of academic evil  and the ONLY person who has ever been able to make it possible for me to both understand a discussion of critical theory and to then have me believe that it in any way matters,  has restarted his superlative blog.

The political whirlwind is now in full storm.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

VP debate prediction

At some point, when faced with a particularly hard hitting point from Mr. Biden, Ms. Palin will quietly begin to cry. Brushing away her tears she will then make a speech about how much she loves America and that she trusts in God to show her the way.

This will not be an accident. It is standard Rovean politics.

Mark my words.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Debate scoring

60/40 Obama

Bad news for McSame who needed a clear win in the debate that was about his supposed strong suit, foreign policy.

Obama responded with quiet strength when attacked. McSame looked like a chipmunk on meth at some points and as if he was falling asleep at others. He never looked at Obama, averting his gaze in a most curious manner. Obama always turned toward him and looked at him when answering him.

Obama scored his biggest points during  the Iraq section, telling McSame that "he was wrong" to take his eye of the ball in Afghanistan, wrong about the WMDs, wrong about  our troops being greeted as liberators and wrong about there being no great enmity between the Sunnis and the Shites.

McSame made some strong points during the section on Russia but  once again spewed forth the lie that the Russians started the Georgia crisis.

All in all, a credible performance by Obama who clearly looked "presidential', whatever that means.

He scored well with Independents and Democrats. MsSame scored well with the ill-informed and the brain dead.

Now on to Sarah "I can see Russia from my porch" Palin.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dear lord....

How Alaska's Proximity to Russia is Relevant

An excerpt from Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's interview with Katie Couric to be aired later tonight on the CBS Evening News:

COURIC: You've cited Alaska's proximity to Russia as part of your foreign policy experience. What did you mean by that?
PALIN: That Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and on our other side, the land-- boundary that we have with-- Canada. It-- it's funny that a comment like that was-- kind of made to-- cari-- I don't know, you know? Reporters--
PALIN: Yeah, mocked, I guess that's the word, yeah.
COURIC: Explain to me why that enhances your foreign policy credentials.
PALIN: Well, it certainly does because our-- our next door neighbors are foreign countries. They're in the state that I am the executive of. And there in Russia--
COURIC: Have you ever been involved with any negotiations, for example, with the Russians?

PALIN: We have trade missions back and forth. We-- we do-- it's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where-- where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is-- from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to-- to our state.

You just can't make this stuff up...

Sarah Palin, the gift that keeps on giving....

A brief history of McSames's experience in an economic Crisis

McSame was a central figure in the first major Republican buyout to save their rich buddies' asses. I guess that's what he means by using his expertise to solve this crisis.

And for the record, McSame has made exactly one vote in the Senate this year. He wasn't present for the GI Bill vote nor for the economic stimulus package vote. What makes this vote so special?

My guess, he wanted to get the debate moved to next week so that they could finese the VP debate off the table. Ms. Palin is clearly not ready for prime time. Her "interview" on CBS was so lightweight that I thought I was watching a bad Saturday Night Live sketch. Nobody in national politics could actually mutter that mealy mouthed bilge with a straight face and mean it, right?

Letterman tears Mr. Maverick Republican a new one

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hoist. Petard. Even...

From the 2008 platform of the Republican Party, presented at its convention early in September:

"We do not support government bailouts of private institutions. Government interference in the markets exacerbates problems in the marketplace and causes the free market to take longer to correct itself. We believe in the free market as the best tool to sustained prosperity and opportunity for all."

Just saying....

Elite -- (NeoCon-ese)

1. (adj) Uppity, not keeping to one's place,

2. (n) One who tries to move beyond his place


Democratic challenger Bruce Lunsford has closed to within a statistical tie with Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell in their U.S. Senate race, according to a new poll by SurveyUSA released Tuesday.

With six weeks remaining until election day, McConnell, the Senate minority leader, now holds a 49%-46% lead over Lunsford, which is within the poll's 3.9% margin of error. Compared to an identical SurveyUSA poll released six weeks ago, Lunsford is up six points, McConnell is down three.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A novel approach to CEO management...

Sacked staff of Italy-based firm lynch CEO in Greater Noida

Pragya Kaushika
Posted: Sep 23, 2008 at 0150 hrs IST
Greater Noida, September 22
Sacked employees of an Italian auto-parts maker bludgeoned the chief of the company’s India operations to death following a violent disagreement with the management on the firm’s premises in Greater Noida’s Udyog Vihar on Monday afternoon.
Certain banking CEOs better take note....

Is he trying to lose?

“Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.” — John McCain

My God, the man hasn't a clue.....

Joan Winston, ‘Trek’ Superfan, Dies at 77

from NYT:

Published: September 20, 2008 

For the “Star Trek” faithful, it was a historic event. Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the series, showed up. So did the science fiction writer Isaac Asimov, not to mention fans dressed as Klingons, Tribbles and Bele from the planet Ceron. NASA delivered a scaled-down lunar module and a spacesuit.
It was January 1972, and the first Star Trek convention was under way in a rented ballroom at the Statler Hilton in Manhattan. The organizers had expected a crowd of about 500. In the end, more than 3,000 fans turned up, so many that by the final day of the event registrars were issuing ID cards made from torn scraps of wrapping paper. For fans of the series, the convention marked the moment when a diaspora became a nation.

And it made a subculture celebrity of Joan Winston, who played a leading role in creating the event and went on to achieve a second-order fame as one of world’s most avid “Star Trek” fans. She died of Alzheimer’s disease on Sept. 11 at age 77, her cousin Steven Rosenfeld said. She lived in Manhattan.

Like many SF fans from the period, I "knew" Joan mostly by sight and reputation. She truly was a force of nature.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Demand that McCain release his medical records

The multiple melanoma McCain has been treated for is one of the most life threatening types of cancer. Yet he refuses to allow his medical records to be scrutinized. How can we determine his fitness for office? If the cancer were to reappear, the treatment he would have to undergo is so debilitating he would become unfit for office. That makes Sarah Palin's lack of qualification for office even more critical.

McCain has allowed a small group of reporters only 3 hours to view  over 1000 pages of records covering only the last 10 years of his life. What is he hiding?

Friday, September 19, 2008

McCain Attacks Wall Street Greed—While 83 Wall Street Lobbyists Work for His Campaign

From MoJo:

Here's the list of the McCain aides and bundlers who have worked for the high-finance greed-mongers McCain has pledged to take on. So far, it seems, none of them have been cast out of the campaign. If McCain were serious about his outrage, he might throw these money-changers out of his own temple.

Phil Anderson: American Council of Life Insurers, Aetna, AIG, New York Life, MassMutual, VISA

Rebecca Anderson: Aegon, American Council of Life Insurers, Cigna, Barclays, Credit Suisse First Boston, HSBC

Stanton Anderson: The Debt Exchange

David Beightol: Allstate, Amerigroup, Charles Schwab, HSBC

Rhonda Bentz: VISA

Wayne Berman: American Council of Life Insurers, AIG, Americhoice, Shinsei Bank, Blackstone, Carlyle Group, Broidy Capital Management, Credit Suisse Securities, Highstar Capital, VISA, Ameriquest Mortgage, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Fitch Ratings

Charlie Black: JP Morgan, Washington Mutual Bank, Freddie Mac, Mortgage Bankers Association of America, National Association of Mortgage Brokers


It still takes a village...

From Kolchak:

Much like Number Six himself, I'm back in the Village.

Production has started on the remake of The Prisoner, the cult classic TV show from the 1960s, and, so far, even a hardcore fan like yours truly can't find much to complain about. There are still some questions that need to be answered--which is only fitting for The Prisoner, I guess--but the producers of the new show may actually know what they're doing.

Hey, it could happen.

The original "Prisoner." for the record , is a British television series from the late 1960s, which also ran here in America. It starred Patrick McGoohan, who also co-created the show and wrote several episodes. Over the course of 17 episodes, the show went from being a weird variant of the then popular spy shows to a surrealistic parable about paranoia, identity and the misuse of technology. My first post about The Prisoner here at the Blatt was back in April, and it looks like I'm going to geek out again. But don't worry: I'll wash my hands afterwards.

The new "Prisoner" is a co-production of ITV in Britain and AMC. It will run for six episodes on AMC in 2009. It will star Jim Caviezel as the title character, Number Six, and Ian McKellen as Number Two, Number Six's jailer and the man trying to break his spirit. As one website put it: it's Jesus versus Gandalf.

I've not seen Caviezel in anything, but I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on this (though I have to wonder whether going from Jesus to Number Six qualifies as typecasting).

I think Caviezel may have benefited from some old-school networking, for whatever that's worth. McGoohan worked with Mel Gibson in the movie Braveheart, and during the promotional drive for that movie, McGoohan said that Gibson would make an excellent Number Six. If they're still friends, it's easy to imagine Gibson recommending Caviezel for the part.

This isn't really on-topic, but I can't resist mentioning it. I went to the Internet Movie Data Base and called up The Passion of the Christ, in order to double check the spelling of Caviezel's last name. There are a number of pre-set categories in IMDB's basic listing for each movie and one of them is "Plot Keywords." The first words under this heading were "Spoiler Alert!" The story of the crucifixion needs a spoiler alert?

As for McKellen , I've no doubt he'll do a fine job as Number Two. His casting, though, does represent an interesting departure from the original. In the original series, a different performer played Number Two every week. The only exception to this rule was Leo McKern, who appeared in three episodes.

I think they should've kept this system. If nothing else, the parade of Number Twos in the original series could be interpreted as a victory of sorts for Number Six, which was much needed, since he clearly wasn't escaping. Still, that may not be needed in a shorter series.

I'm a little more concerned about the casting of a woman named Hayley Atwell for the remake. She's describing her role as Number Six's "love interest", and the original series did quite well without giving Six a love interest. Oh, there were women in the original show.There were even women serving as Number Two, which was a fairly progressive idea for the time. There wasn't much in the way of traditional romance, though. I'm hoping the phrase was slip of the tongue on Atwell's part. But we could be in for an unpleasant surprise there.

On the other hand, there was a pleasant surprise concerning where the new "Prisoner" is being filmed. Originally, the role of the Village, the bizarre town where Number Six is held captive, was played by Porteirion, a resort in Wales. The Victorian design of Portmeirion made a striking contrast with the surveillance and mind-control technology operated by the overseers of the Village.

So I was getting ready to go into a geekfit when I read that the new version would be filmed in Swakopmund, Namibia. Err, excuse me a minute. My spellcheck just threatened to quit.

Okay, we're back. When I googled the name, though, I quickly learned that Swakopmund is a resort town, settled by the British and many of the buildings have a pronounced Victorian look to them.

I'm still not positive as to why the show is being filmed there. Money is the usual reason, but is really cheaper for a British production company to go to Africa than it is to Wales? In any case, I was pleased to see that the creative staff is respecting the look of the original series.

There are some good, if small, photos of Swakopmund, at www.sixofone.org.uk/prisoner-remake.htm Another good source of information is at www.theprisoneronline.com.

AMC is promoting the show through a blog at www.amctv.com/originals/theprisoner. There is also a site called www.seekthesix.comwhich is probably going to lead to some sort of game or viral promotion. If anyone can unlock the first image, let me know, will you? I haven't had any luck so far.


It's National Talk Like a Pirate Day. Go forth and plunder, me hardies!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

McCain campaign: Our candidate is crazy, not senile

from Lawyers, Guns and Money:

This story is getting better all the time.

It's pretty clear from the interview that McCain is a very tired old man who was having trouble concentrating, while being interviewed by a native Spanish speaker with an accent who was speaking pretty fast. And even though she asked him four separate times if he would invite Zapatero to the White House, and helped him out a couple of those times by mentioning that Zapatero is the head of the Spanish government, McCain was confused about who Zapatero was (even though he was doing an interview with a Spanish radio network).

But instead of owning up to this, the McCain campaign, using their standard operating procedure, decided to think up a lie and think one up quick, to wit: McCain was fully intending to say that he would refuse to meet with the head of the government of a NATO ally -- a country we are by treaty required to defend with military force if they're attacked (by someone other than us I suppose). As Kevin Drum and others are pointing out this is a fairly insane position to take, but the campaign people have clearly calculated it's less damaging than to admit that he was just out of it.

EFF sues NSA, Bush, Cheney over illegal wiretaps

From Boing Boing:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a lawsuit against the National Security Agency (NSA) and other government agencies today on behalf of AT&T customers to stop the illegal, unconstitutional, and ongoing dragnet surveillance of their communications and communications records. The five individual plaintiffs are also suing President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Cheney's chief of staff David Addington, former Attorney General and White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and other individuals who ordered or participated in the warrantless domestic surveillance. 

The lawsuit, Jewel v. NSA, is aimed at ending the NSA's dragnet surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans and holding accountable the government officials who illegally authorized it. Evidence in the case includes undisputed documents provided by former AT&T telecommunications technician Mark Klein showing AT&T has routed copies of Internet traffic to a secret room in San Francisco controlled by the NSA.


Undoubtedly a futile gesture given the Roberts Supreme Court will have to agree that the suit is even possible, but maybe it will keep the heat on their lying thieving asses through the election...

Palin is a "hunter" who believes in a stacked deck

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How an adult speaks of politics

More news on the 'fundamentally sound'* US economy

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Stocks plummeted Wednesday, with the Dow industrials falling 449 points in its second worst session of the year, as the government's emergency rescue of AIG amplified fears about the stability of financial markets. 

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) lost 449 points, or 4% and fell to the lowest level since November 2005. The Standard & Poor's 500 (SPX) index lost 4.7% and fell to its lowest point since April 2005. The Nasdaq composite (COMP) lost 4.9% and ended at its lowest point since August 2006.

*John McSame - 9/15/2008

That's nearly a 9% drop in stock market value in 3 days. 

Debunking McSame's LIES

from NYT:

During the last week, the McCain campaign has unabashedly engaged in the active spreading of mistruths and falsehoods.

It said that Barack Obama supported “comprehensive sex education” for children in kindergarten (“dishonest” and “deceptive” said The Washington Post);

that Mr. Obama used the colloquial expression “lipstick on a pig” to describe Sarah Palin (G.O.P. Senator Orrin Hatch labeled the charge “ridiculous”);

that Ms. Palin never accepted earmarks as governor of Alaska; (this is patently false, she actually requested $450 million in earmarks as governor);

that Mr. Obama will raise taxes on middle-class families (his plan would actually give a tax cut to 80 percent of Americans);

that his health care plan will force families into a government-run health care plan; (a public health expert quoted in this paper called that “inaccurate and false”);

that Ms. Palin told Congress “thanks, but no thanks” on the Bridge to Nowhere (she initially supported the bridge and kept the Congressional funds earmarked for the project);

that Ms. Palin visited Ireland and Iraq (her airplane refueled in the former and never crossed the border into the latter).

Now there are even reports that the McCain campaign fabricated crowd estimates for a recent rally in Virginia.


Some more of the howlers from McSame/Palin:

here and most of all here

Cheery Thought for the Day

If McSame and his friends had had their way, it would be your Social Security money that would be going down the tubes in the Stock Market today. The market  that they all deregulated with the  Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.

That's the Phil Gramm that says we are a bunch of whiners and that the recession is all in our heads. The Phil Gramm who is the architect of McSame's economic policy. And the Phil Gramm who is still one of McSame's closest advisors and FRIENDS.


Monday, September 15, 2008

from Sarah Palin's reading list...

Robert Kennedy Jr. via Huffington Post:

Fascist writer Westbrook Pegler, an avowed racist who Sarah Palin approvingly quoted in her acceptance speech for the moral superiority of small town values, expressed his fervent hope about my father, Robert F. Kennedy, as he contemplated his own run for the presidency in 1965, that "some white patriot of the Southern tier will spatter his spoonful of brains in public premises before the snow flies."

It might be worth asking Governor Palin for a tally of the other favorites from her reading list.


from Wikipedia:

Pegler was a rabid Joe McCarthyite who loathed F.D.R. and Ike and tirelessly advanced the theory that American Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe (“geese,” he called them) were all likely Communists.


Perhaps she could use some of Pegler's other bon-mots such as his assertion in November 1963 (at the height of the civil rights movement) that it is "clearly the bounden duty of all intelligent Americans to proclaim and practice bigotry" or his proposal for "smashing" the AF of L and the CIO by having the state  take them over. "Yes, that would be fascism," he wrote. "But I  see advantages in such fascism."

So are the Fascists are being overt now. Not even hiding their roots this time... It is to weep.

Friday, September 05, 2008

From FactCheck.Org:

FactChecking McCain

September 5, 2008

He made some flubs in accepting the nomination.

We checked the accuracy of McCain’s speech accepting the Republican nomination and noted the following:

McCain claimed that Obama’s health care plan would "force small businesses to cut jobs" and would put "a bureaucrat ... between you and your doctor." In fact, the plan exempts small businesses, and those who have insurance now could keep the coverage they have.

McCain attacked Obama for voting for "corporate welfare" for oil companies. In fact, the bill Obama voted for raised taxes on oil companies by $300 million over 11 years while providing $5.8 billion in subsidies for renewable energy, energy efficiency and alternative fuels.

McCain said oil imports send "$700 billion a year to countries that don't like us very much." But the U.S. is on track to import a total of only $536 billion worth of oil at current prices, and close to a third of that comes from Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom.

He promised to increase use of "wind, tide [and] solar" energy, though his actual energy plan contains no new money for renewable energy. He has said elsewhere that renewable sources won’t produce as much as people think.

He called for "reducing government spending and getting rid of failed programs," but as in the past failed to cite a single program that he would eliminate or reduce.

He said Obama would "close" markets to trade. In fact, Obama, though he once said he wanted to "renegotiate" the North American Free Trade Agreement, now says he simply wants to try to strengthen environmental and labor provisions in it.

Palin speaks to her church

Pay particular attention to her coments about the "sacred" mission in Iraq. This video is from three months ago.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

More About Sarah Palin

from AlterNet:

Since the McCain campaign apparently didn't even bother Googling Sarah Palin before picking her to join the Republican ticket, we've taken it upon ourselves to compile some important -- and terrifying -- revelations about Palin.

Yesterday AlterNet ran a piece titled "Top Ten Most Disturbing Facts and Impressions of Sarah Palin." And in only 24 hours, almost as many exaggerations, misrepresentations and outright lies have reared their ugly heads. If you already read yesterday's piece, here's the next installment:

1: Palin Tried to Ban Books From Local Library

Thanks to Bush, the Republican Party is not strongly associated with intellectualism. But Sarah Palin has apparently taken the conservative derision for book-learnin' to a whole new level: Time reports that as mayor of Wasilla, Palin asked the town librarian how to go about banning books from the local library. News reports from the time show that the librarian, who, strangely enough, was opposed to a tactic commonly employed by totalitarian regimes, had her job threatened for not giving her "full support" to the mayor.

The People for the American Way have issued a statement condemning Palin's actions and demanding an explanation from her:

People can disagree about a lot of things, but censorship is completely beyond the pale. Our democracy was founded on the belief that government shouldn't tell people what kinds of books to read or what kind of beliefs to hold. No one with that kind of history should be anywhere near the White House. Sarah Palin needs to clarify her stance on freedom of speech immediately, and John McCain needs to explain why he chose a running mate with so little regard for the Constitution.

So far the McCain campaign has been quiet about Palin's attempts to legislate what books people should be allowed to read.

2: Palin Apparently Doesn't Put "Country First"

A central and integral part of the McCain campaign's message is "Country First." McCain is a POW who has always put country before personal gain, as he and his handlers have reminded the public time after time after time. So if the vetting process of Palin was as thorough as McCain's people (and McCain himself) have been claiming, how is it that they missed this:

Officials of the Alaskan Independence Party say that Palin was once so independent, she was once a member of their party, which since the 1970s has been pushing for a legal vote for Alaskans to decide whether or not residents of the 49th state can secede from the United States.

And while McCain's motto -- as seen in a new TV ad -- is "Country First," the AIP's motto is the exact opposite -- "Alaska First -- Alaska Always."

Lynette Clark, the chairman of the AIP, tells ABC News that Palin and her husband Todd were members in 1994, even attending the 1994 statewide convention in Wasilla. Clark was AIP secretary at the time.

"We are a state's rights party," Clark -- a self-employed gold miner -- tells ABC News. The AIP has "a plank that challenges the legality of the Alaskan statehood vote as illegal and in violation of United Nations charter and international law."

"Alaska First -- Alaska Always." Huh, I don't suppose there's an unless-you-are-nominated-to-be-vice-president clause, is there? No, probably not.

3: Palin's Love Affair With Earmarks

McCain, when introducing Palin on Friday in Ohio, praised her as a champion for "reform to end the abuses of earmark spending." When it was Palin's turn to speak, she mentioned her claimed opposition to the famous pork barrel project, "the Bridge to Nowhere," as an example of her tough stance on earmarks. Well, we all know now that she was actually for the bridge long before she was against it. Apparently her love affair with earmarks doesn't end there:

… under her leadership, the state of Alaska has requested 31 earmarks worth $197.8 million in next year's federal budget … 

But hey, it was her first shot at being governor of Alaska. Maybe things were different when she was mayor?

As mayor of the small city of Wasilla, Alaska, Palin appears to have made use of the system she now decries, hiring a Washington lobbyist, Steven Silver, to represent the town. 

After he was hired, the city obtained funding for several projects, including a city bus facility that received an earmark valued at $600,000 in 2002. That year a local water and sewer project received $1.5 million in federal earmarks, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan watchdog organization.

Hmmm, Steven Silver, why does that name sound familiar? Talking Points Memo is quick to remind us:

… Silver appears to have additional ties that could further undercut Palin's image as a squeaky-clean reformer. According to Senate lobbying disclosure reports examined by TPMmuckraker, from 2002 to 2004 Silver listed as a client Jack Abramoff's lobbying firm, Greenberg Traurig. On Greenberg's behalf, Silver lobbied the federal government on "issues relating to Indian/Native American policy," "exploration for oil and gas" and "legislation relating to gaming issues" -- the very issues that Abramoff headed up for Greenberg at the time. In other words, Silver appears to have been a part of "Team Abramoff.

So this is the breath of fresh air that McCain wants in Washington? Earmarks aplenty and links to the infamous Jack Abramoff? If that's a step in the right direction, I don't want to see the step in the wrong one.

4: Palin Slashed Funding for Teen Moms

Not many pregnant teens are as privileged as Bristol Palin. And for those who are not, Sarah Palin made things a little harder a few months ago when she used a line-item veto to cut funding for a transitional home for teen moms in Alaska. According to the Washington Post:

After the legislature passed a spending bill in April, Palin went through the measure reducing and eliminating funds for programs she opposed. Inking her initials on the legislation -- "SP" -- Palin reduced funding for Covenant House Alaska by more than 20 percent, cutting funds from $5 million to $3.9 million. Covenant House is a mix of programs and shelters for troubled youths, including Passage House, which is a transitional home for teenage mothers.

According to Passage House's Web site, its purpose is to provide "young mothers a place to live with their babies for up to eighteen months while they gain the necessary skills and resources to change their lives" and help teen moms "become productive, successful, independent adults who create and provide a stable environment for themselves and their families."

(It certainly doesn't sound like the teen moms were joyriding in Cadillacs on the government's dime, but you never know.)

In classic "compassionate" conservative fashion, Palin opposes programs that teach girls how not to get pregnant, lobbies against their right to decide whether to have a child, then kills social programs that exist to cushion the impact of those policies. She then has the gall to trot out her own pregnant daughter as a symbol for "family values."

5: Crazy Reverend, Crazy Church

From the age of 12 and for most of her adult life, Sarah Palin attended the Wasilla Assembly of God. Apparently, Sarah Palin's God was a vengeful God -- one that made Himself helpful to the Bush administration from time to time by damning critics of the president, Democrats and other irredeemable sinners. The Huffington Post writes that the church's preacher, Ed Kalinins:

… preached that critics of President Bush will be banished to hell; questioned whether people who voted for Sen. John Kerry in 2004 would be accepted to heaven; charged that the 9/11 terrorist attacks and war in Iraq were part of a war "contending for your faith;" and said that Jesus "operated from that position of war mode."

Kalinins also offered a nuanced view of foreign policy, preaching that 9/11 and the Iraq war were part of a greater struggle over Christianity, with Jesus playing an important role as a very exacting general:

"What you see in Iraq, basically, is a manifestation of what's going on in this unseen world called the spirit world. … We need to think like Jesus thinks. We are in a time and a season of war, and we need to think like that. We need to develop that instinct. We need to develop as believers the instinct that we are at war, and that war is contending for your faith. … Jesus called us to die. You're worried about getting hurt? He's called us to die.

It can't necessarily be assumed that Palin agrees wholeheartedly with her former pastor. But in an address to the church three months ago, Palin also used disconcertingly religious language to frame the conflict in Iraq:

"Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending (U.S. soldiers) out on a task that is from God," she exhorted the congregants. "That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan."

Considering how much flak Obama got for the statements of his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, this is an issue Palin needs to address.

6: McCain Picking Palin Reeks of Sexism

The McCain campaign is already doing its best to deflect all the negative stories that are coming out about Palin by calling Democrats sexist, and by claiming that they are the party that values women's rights. Of course, Dems had a woman on the presidential ticket in 1984 (Congresswoman Geraldine A. Ferraro), so Republicans aren't breaking glass ceilings here but are actually 24 years late to the party. When it comes to sexism, it seems the party that isn't for equal pay or for a woman's right to choose should take a quick look in the mirror before accusing others of sexism. In fact, McCain's idea that women will vote for the McCain/Palin ticket just because Palin has a vagina is incredibly condescending, as Ann Friedman at the American Prospect writes:

Palin's addition to the ticket takes Republican faux-feminism to a whole new level. As Adam Serwer pointed out on TAPPED, this is in fact a condescending move by the GOP. It plays to the assumption that disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters did not care about her politics -- only her gender. In picking Palin, Republicans are lending credence to the sexist assumption that women voters are too stupid to investigate or care about the issues, and merely want to vote for someone who looks like them. As Serwer noted, it's akin to choosing Alan Keyes in an attempt to compete with Obama for votes from black Americans.

A candidate should be chosen because they are qualified for the job, not because of their gender. Any hardworking woman who has been passed over for a promotion could have told the McCain campaign that.

7: Palin Can't Even Run a Car Wash

Many politicians have a strong background in business: CEOs, executives, business presidents, self-made millionaires, etc. The thinking is that a businessperson is economically savvy, has executive experience, and can make tough calls and quick decisions. Well, Palin has some experience in the private sector: While she was mayor of Wasilla, Palin had time to open up a car wash in Anchorage. Good for her, nothing wrong with a little public service cushioned by some private business while raising a family. But by the time Palin was governor of Alaska, her business had run into trouble, as Matthew Mosk reports for the Washington Post:

State records show the business ran into trouble with Alaska's division of corporations business and professional licensing after Palin became governor of the state in 2006.

A Feb. 11, 2007, letter to the governor's business partner advises that the car wash had "not filed its biennial report and/or paid its biennial fees," which were more than a year overdue.

The warning letter was written on state letterhead, which carried Palin's name at the top, next to the state seal.

On April 3, 2007, the state went further and issued a "certificate of involuntary dissolution" because of the car wash's failure to file its report and pay state licensing fees.

The least you can accuse Palin here is of mismanagement (of a car wash!); at worst, she was abusing her political clout by trying to cut corners. Either way, Palin doesn't come off as the kind of executive you'd want running your business, let along your country.

8: Lied About Foreign Travel

In an attempt to inflate her nonexistent foreign policy credentials, Palin's spokespeople stated shortly after her nomination that she had traveled to Germany, Kuwait and Ireland: you know, the three countries most likely to give rise to catastrophic national security emergencies in the next four years.

But not only is Palin's travel history unimpressive, it was also being blatantly misrepresented. According Jim Aravosis, an Irish blogger has just revealed that Palin was in Ireland for a brief refueling layover.

And as Aravosis argues, Palin's lack of travel experience outside of "duty-free diplomacy" has major implications:

… John McCain, who is 72 and has had 4 bouts of cancer, (has) picked Sarah Palin to replace him as commander in chief should he die or be incapacitated in office.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Sunday, August 31, 2008

One from the vaults....

via Reuters:

Gustav disrupts McCain's Republican convention

(Poor Baby. Of course a couple of million 'evacuees'/refugees might argue about who is having what disrupted)

* Bush, Cheney to miss Republican convention

(Much to McSame's relief we might add)

* Most convention work suspended for Monday

(Well the country is better off for that at least)

* McCain may address Republicans from Gulf area

(But only Republicans. The rest of us can go fish (probably along the new Gulf shore just south of Memphis))

By Steve Holland

ST. PAUL, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Republican John McCain on Sunday ordered political speeches canceled for his Republican nominating convention on Monday to avoid a festive atmosphere while Americans cope with Hurricane Gustav.(more)


My little meditation on another September day a few years back....

Somewhere over Louisiana, a brain is abuzz

"... Boy there's some champion brush cuttin' to be done down there ... hard bike ridin, tho with all that stuff on the roads ... have ta use the truck ... wonder if Lance would wanna come? he's got such a cute little bald spot ... wonder if Bandur would like to join us ... probably not, he'll just say he's too busy being king like he always does when I want to do something special... damn Secret Service probably wouldn't effin' let me go anyway ... 9/11 ...

... What's for lunch? ... hope they don't forget the pretzels this time ... why did Cheney make me call Da and that nice smiling Clinton boy from next store to come bail me out ... it's like he thinks I'm dumb or sumthin' ... they never let me do what I want ... always making me go to damn meetings ... telling me I can't bomb Terrorhan ... making me wear that dumb thing in my ear so I always have to be listening to Rove blathering on about something when I'm trying to talk ... 9/11 ... won't even let me finish a good book when I find one ...

... And I mean who gives a frog exploding fuck about this New Orleans place ... not our kind of people ... libruls ... poor ... gays ... effin' preverts .... always yelling about the oil bizness ... always complaining about the damn river overflowin, as if spending money I needed elsewhere for the war and bribes was gonna help ... damn levees anyhow ... hey, is that a Jewish name? ... sounds Jewish to me ...gotta have Rove check it out ...

... don't see why we don't just bulldoze the damn place anyhow ... send all those smelly old poor people back to where they came from ... tho it's gonna be easier to do stuff now that the place is a chemical sty ... betcha those smartass environmentalists won't be going on about wetlands now ... just created a whole lot more for 'em, heh heh ... 9/11 ...

... and sure we're showing them Al Kayda creeps how real 'Murikans handle a disaster ... this'll make them think twice before hitting us again. ... hey, maybe this whole thing was an Al Kayda plot all along. ... did those levees really 'break' or were they 'helped' ... maybe it was a moozlum weather machine or super prayers to Devil Al Law or somethin' that steered the storm ... better ask Pat about steerin' hurricanes with prayer ... 9/11 ...

Gotta talk to Karl 'bout all that right away. 
Right after I rub my hands all over his shiny, shiny bald head and calm down a bit."

...9/11 ...


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

 -- The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America

The whole country is a "free speech zone".  Get it NeoThug assholes?

Supposedly police intimidation of legitimate protest only happens elsewhere, or so we were led to believe by all the tut-tutting during the Olympics.

And to those who say that "well, something must have been behind it" I say, the police showed no warrants,  forcibly entered homes in armed gangs,  made unreasonable seizures of personal property,  intimidated journalists, and arrested lawyers ... so how is this any different from what went down in China?

The NeoThugs are so afraid of answering for their behaviour that they ran from the very idea that a group of college kids might protest them. I guess McSame and the Rezident might have their feelings hurt or something if they realized someone disagreed with them.

What a bunch of totalitarian imbeciles.

It's started in St Paul

from Glenn Greenwald: Conclusive evidence of Federal involvment in the raids in Minneapolis.

from OpEdNews:

Protesters here in Minneapolis have been targeted by a series of highly intimidating, sweeping police raids across the city, involving teams of 25-30 officers in riot gear, with semi-automatic weapons drawn, entering homes of those suspected of planning protests, handcuffing and forcing them to lay on the floor, while law enforcement officers searched the homes, seizing computers, journals, and political pamphlets. Last night, members of the St. Paul police department and the Ramsey County sheriff's department handcuffed, photographed and detained dozens of people meeting at a public venue to plan a demonstration, charging them with no crime other than "fire code violations," and early this morning, the Sheriff's department sent teams of officers into at least four Minneapolis area homes where suspected protesters were staying. (more)

This kind of police intimidation has become a staple of cities hosting the Republican National Convention. It was rampant in NYC in '04 and done in plain view in Miami in '00. Apparently the mere idea of protest is now a crime as most of those being arrested are being charged with "conspiracy to riot" simply for being at meetings where protests were being discussed. This is a rather novel interpretation of the First Amendment's guarantee of the right to peaceably assemble. My guess is that the NeoThugs think that right applies to model building or something.

More from Glenn Greenwald of Salon, including video. Police have been seizing computers, personal papers, flyers, diaries....

Thursday, August 28, 2008

So Cheney chaired a slaver firm it seems...

..and he still owns a large block of stock options in the scum.

from BBC:

A Nepalese man and relatives of 12 others who were killed in Iraq four years ago are suing American firm KBR on charges of human trafficking. 

The men were recruited in Nepal to work in a hotel in Jordan, but were later told they would have to work at a US air base in Iraq, their lawyers said. 

Twelve of the men were kidnapped and killed by Islamic militants while being transported inside Iraq. 

The 13th man was made to work against his will at the air base, lawyers said. 

The execution-style killing of the hostages was recorded by the extremists and posted on a website. 

The incident sparked riots in Nepal with angry demonstrators targeting a mosque, some government buildings and offices of employment agencies. 

At least two people were killed in the protests. 

'Passports seized' 

The lawsuit filed in the US District Court in Los Angeles on Wednesday alleged "that the illicit trafficking scheme... was engineering by KBR and its subcontractor", identified as Daoud & Partners. 

The men, between the ages of 18 and 27, were recruited "to work as kitchen staff in hotels and restaurants in Amman, Jordan", said a statement from Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, one of the law firms handling the case. 
Some recruitment agencies are blamed for sending workers to Iraq

But once they arrived in Jordan "they were not provided the expected employment," the statement said. 

Their passports were seized, and they were told they were being sent to Iraq "to provide menial labour" at the Al-Asad air base, it added. 

"For 15 months, the 13th man Buddi Prasad Gurung, was held in Iraq against his will, before KBR and Daoud allowed him to return home to Nepal," the statement said. 

"It doesn't appear that any of them knew they were going to Iraq," news agency Reuters quoted attorney Matthew Handley as saying. 

KBR would not comment on the lawsuit, but in a statement, the company said it "in no way condones or tolerates unethical or illegal behaviour". 

Nepal banned its citizens from going to Iraq to work there in 2003 because of safety concerns. 

But a lack of employment opportunities back home meant that private recruitment agencies continued to send Nepalese workers to Iraq through countries like Jordan and Kuwait.

But remember, it was never about the oil.....

from BBC:

China's state-owned oil firm CNPC has agreed a $3bn (£1.63bn) oil services contract with the government of Iraq. 

The two parties renegotiated a 1997 deal to pump oil from the Ahdab oilfield, the Iraqi oil minister said. 

Under the new deal, output from the oilfield will be 110,000 barrels per day, up from the 90,000 barrels forecast in the original deal. 

The deal is the first major oil contract with a foreign firm since the US-led war in Iraq, reports say. 

As security improves, Iraq - which has some of the biggest oil reserves in the Middle East - is trying to bring in foreign oil companies to boost crude output. 

It needs billions of dollars of investment after years of war and sanctions. 

Other foreign oil companies, such as Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil, are also negotiating deals with the Iraqi government. 

The Iraq government says its aim is to increase crude oil production from the current 2.5m barrels per day to 4.5m by 2013. 

Final agreement 

Production is set to begin at the Ahdab oilfield three years from now and the contract will run for 20 years. 

"Finally we have reached an agreement," Hussain al-Shahristani, the Iraqi oil minister told Reuters. 

"The total investment of the project is expected to be about $3bn." 

CNPC would own 75% of a joint venture to be set up for the contract, with the remainder held by Iraq's Northern Oil Company. 

The field is located in Wasit province, 160 kilometres (100 miles) south of Baghdad, in a Shiite-dominated area that has seen sporadic violence.

Arctic Climate Tipping Point Happening Now! Sea Ice in Its “Death Spiral” Scientist Claims

from Treehugger and BBC:

After yesterday’s ominous news that North American permafrost (and presumably European and Asian, as well) stores 60% more greenhouse gases than we thought, here’s another siren announcing that we are rushing full speed ahead towards a climatic tipping point: 

Scientists are reporting that the extent of sea ice in the Arctic is at the second lowest point on record. Currently ice covers 2.03 million square miles; last year's sea ice coverage, 1.59 million square miles, set the record. In the past ten years Arctic sea ice has declined 10 percent.

Given the seriousness of the situation, I’ll let the scientists speak for themselves:

We Are Watching the Tipping Point Happen

Mark Serreze, a scientist from the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado was quoted by Reuters:

No matter where we stand at the end of the melt season it’s just reinforcing this notion that Arctic Ice is in its death spiral.

Serreze also told the AP that:

We could very well be in that quick slide downward in terms of passing a tipping point. It’s tipping now. We’re seeing it happen now.

Climate Change Happening More Quickly Than Models Have Predicted

The same article quoted NASA ice scientist Jaw Zwally as saying that within 5-10 years the Arctic could be ice-free in the summer. He added that this also means that:

Climate warming is also coming larger and faster than the models are predicting and nobody’s really taken into account that change yet.

As a commenter pointed out in my post on permafrost from yesterday, this is really the sort of news that should be on the front page of every newspaper, at the top of the broadcast of every nightly news service. I wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment. 

It's hard to not sound shrill with this: Climate change is happening more quickly than we thought in the Arctic and the frozen soils in the region contain a lot more stored carbon than the models used so far. Unless we get a handle on this now (yesterday would've been even better) global warming could very well overtake our efforts to slow it. That's not to say that we should throw in the towel (as no doubt some people will think) but rather is another sign that we have to redouble our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a global level.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Government Statistics: Perfecting the Art of Mass Deception

“The truth that survives is simply the lie that is pleasantest to believe.” 

H. L. Mencken

We have often questioned why our most reliable market (and economic) indicators have been pointing toward a recession for more than a year (and in one case, three years) even as government statistics have shown the economy to be growing and inflation relatively benign. This week we examine why.

But first, here is a noteworthy quote that appeared in the opening screen of Chris Martenson’s excellent 16 minute video entitled Fuzzy Numbers that provides a hint.

“Ever since the 1960s, Washington has gulled its citizens and creditors by debasing official statistics, the vital instruments with which the muscle and vitality of the American economy are measured.” – Kevin Philips, April 27, 2008 Harper’s magazine entitled Hard Numbers: The economy is worse than you know. 

It is no secret how fast overall debt has grown and how government agencies fudge the numbers to make the economic picture appear far more pleasing than it really is. This week we take a closer look at how they do it. (more)

McCain on women's reproductive rights

McCain said in 2006 that he would repeal Roe v. Wade.

His campaign website calls for overturning Roe, returning the issue of abortion to the states, and then building "the necessary consensus to end abortion at the state level."

"I will be a pro-life president and this presidency will have pro-life policies," he told Pastor Rick Warren this month.

Planned Parenthood and NARAL have both given him a zero rating on abortion issues. According to NARAL, of 130 congressional votes by McCain related to reproductive freedom, 125 have been against abortion. "I've got a consistent zero from NARAL throughout all those years," he trumpets.

On other reproductive health issues, McCain toes the right-wing line, having voted against requiring health care plans to cover birth control, comprehensive sex education, public education for emergency contraception, and restoring Medicaid funding for family planning for low-income women.

"The guy I really respect on this is Dr. Coburn," McCain told the New York Times in March 2007, referring to the vociferously anti-abortion Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK).

McCain has also supported anti-women's rights judges such as Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas.

Watch this....

One of the reasons I like Biden as a VP

from Grist:
Joe Biden, Barack Obama's running mate, has earned an 83 percent lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters during his 35 years representing Delaware in the U.S. Senate, voting fairly consistently with environmentalists and the mainstream of his party. In 2007, while running for president, he said "energy security" was his top priority, and argued that he was well-suited to deal with the challenge thanks to years of experience on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he now chairs. Biden is also a big booster of biofuels. 

Key Points

Primary cosponsor of a "Sense of the Senate" resolution calling on the U.S. to participate in U.N. climate negotiations. He introduced it with Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) in the current Congress and the previous one.

Cosponsor of the Boxer-Sanders Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act, the most stringent climate bill in the Senate. It would establish a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse-gas emissions and require the U.S. to reduce its emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. (Biden became a cosponsor of it more than three months after it was introduced and just days after both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama signed on.)

In 2007, during his most recent run for president, called for raising fuel-economy standards for automobiles to an average of 40 miles per gallon by 2017 by increasing fuel-economy targets within vehicle classes by about one mile per gallon per year.

Called for increasing ethanol and biodiesel production by upping the national renewable-fuel standard to require that the fuel supply include 10 billion gallons of renewable fuel a year by 2010 and 60 billion gallons a year by 2030.

Called for 20 percent of the U.S. electricity supply to come from renewable sources.