Friday, February 29, 2008

American Gulag

More than one out of every 100 adults in the United States is in prison or jail.

The highest prison populations, as you'd expect, are in Florida, Texas, and California.

The linked article implies correctly that this embarrassment will be remedied (or not) at the state, not the national level.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

President Robust

President Fillmore said today that the country is not in a recession, and not heading into one. "We've acted robustly," he said, prominently displaying one of the two words he's added to his vocabulary during his time in office.

"I believe that our economy has got the fundamentals in place for us to ... grow and continue growing, more robustly hopefully than we're growing now," he said. "So we're still for a strong dollar."

Wow. No wonder this guy's approval rating is at 19 percent.

He also chastised Congress for failing to pursue with sufficient robustitude legislation granting immunity to telecom companies who illegally spied on Americans.

More robustness here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


I will vote for the lesser of two weevils. I don't even have to think about it.

Whichever weevil is the choice of the Democrats, for him or her the lever I shall pull. Or make the "X" or punch the hole or draw the line or touch the little icon on the screen, or whatever.

Some people say voting for the lesser of two weevils is pointless, but think about what would happen if McCain was our emperor. On any given day he'd be liable to nut up in a supersized rage because somebody moved his cheese or something, and I don't want a loco like that having his finger on that little red button.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Economics and politics

That's Economics with a capital "E" and politics with a small "p." The degree to which our politics is driven by Economics is familiar already to those in the know, and will become very clear for everybody in the next few months, especially after one or two of our major banks (CITI for sure) default.

Home foreclosures shot up dramatically in January, increasing by 57 percent over the January '07 rate. Lenders are more frequently forced to take possession of the abandoned homes than in the past. These vacant properties blight suburban neighborhoods if they're not minimally maintained.

The AP story covering this development says that "The worsening situation came despite ongoing efforts by lenders to help borrowers manage their payments by modifying loan terms..." but of course sweetening the monthly doesn't remedy a situation in which the homeowner owes more than the property is worth.

Anybody who can read a bar graph saw this coming. A record number of adjustable-rate mortgages were scheduled to reset in the first three months of this year. We're in the fat part of the perfect storm, and once we've gotten through March we can begin to assess the damage, which will include bank failures, so keep a close eye on your money, if you've got any.


Wholesale prices rose one percent in January, which is the most radically steep ascent in the inflation graph in sixteen years. Increases in the prices of food, medicines, and fuel led the charge. Speaking of fuel, the price of oil dropped today, but it fell only slightly after rising above $99. The current price of crude is $98.85. A hundred bucks a barrel is the new normal. Happy motoring.


I'm all done with Clinton vs. Obama, which has now assumed the gravity and ambience of an election for student body president in a junior high school. I will neither read nor comment on any more of the charges, counter-charges, or ridiculous characterizations these two clowns are hurling at each other. This travesty of a campaign is the degenerated legacy of politics "as seen on TV," i.e., politics as show business. The 30-second television commercial is now the paradigm of political discourse, and even the "debates" consist mostly of traded insults and slogans rather than carefully articulated policy positions. I've decided I "deserve a break today," so I'm gonna "get up and get away." I'll come back in November and vote for either Tweedledum or Tweedledee -- whichever is left standing.

As for the portion of the American public which takes this twaddle seriously, "You asked for it, you got it."

Sunday, February 24, 2008

CO Too

While watching Saudi Prince Bandar flipping off Larry King, I was wondering: Is anybody else getting tired of all this yakkety yakking about alternative energy? And after years of endless words about it, except for ethanol, which is a bust, where is this alternative energy?

There's a wind farm a few miles from here, and that's a great idea, but wind is unreliable and insufficient to meet our needs.

The states' governors are meeting in D.C. right now, and they're talking a lot about coal. Reliance on coal is what Ken Deffeyes predicted in his book, "Beyond Oil," when he wrote: "For the five year time scale, we have a shortage of good adjectives. 'Diesel,' 'coal,' and 'nuclear' don't sound warm and fuzzy."

But as the price of oil continues to shoot up (it was up over $100 again this week), as worldwide production of the stuff flags and demand keeps rising, it's obvious that Deffeyes is right. We don't have a choice. We can generate electricity with coal, and that's what we're going to do.

The problem is, as everybody knows, coal is so intolerably dirty, and it produces tons of carbon waste. We can keep the lights on, it would seem, only if we're willing to poison dear old Mother Earth. The governors are talking about finding ways to make it burn cleaner, and Ken Deffeyes has a suggestion for using at least some of that CO2.

Talking about oil production, Deffeyes (a former geological engineer for Shell, now professor of geology at Princeton) notes that "Primary production extracts less than a quarter of the original oil (from a well). After secondary production, about half of the oil is still left in the underground reservoir." (page 27) Then he talks about several methods that have been tried for recovering that remaining half of the oil in the ground, and concludes, "The big winner has been the injection of carbon dioxide. Although carbon dioxide is soluble in water (seltzer, root beer, Perrier), it is even more soluble in crude oil. The carbon dioxide bulks up the oil droplets and they start to move again. After the oil comes to the surface, the carbon dioxide is sent back downstairs to hunt for more oil...Building a coal-fired electrical-generating plant near an oilfield that needs carbon dioxide is a possible winner." (page 27-28)

What this comes down to is the real-world possibility of using technology that already exists to solve two problems at once. Putting such a plan into effect is just a matter of finding the political will to do so.

You know, if our politicians listened to the right people, people who know what they're talking about, instead of chattering on and on about pie-in-the-sky fantasies like hydrogen cars (a unicorn from El Dorado if there ever was one), our energy troubles wouldn't end, but they'd be much more manageable. And our difficulties in the Middle East might soon be over.

Good-bye House of Saud. Good-bye Global War on Terror. Good-bye "Islamofascism," and good riddance to all that horse shit.

Looking back, it seems obvious now that the felonies and lesser crimes of the Bush Administration proceeded from the administration's total obedience to a corporate agenda, which is to say, the administration looked for solutions to all our problems from the very same people who caused those problems. And that's another way of saying they bailed on the one function any government must perform -- real attempts to find real solutions to real problems. They were as phony as a three-dollar bill from the jump, and what they did to us was nothing but class warfare, with every class except the ruling class ending up holding the shitty end of the stick, as usual. It's three and a half dollar gas I'm talking about here, among other things (see "foreclosure").

This guy Obama better be serious about all that "change" stuff. If he's not serious enough, then we'll have to get serious for him. There are solutions, but they won't arrive because the politicians "sit down and talk with" the oil companies, the insurance companies, the drug manufacturers, and all those other persons of interest.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

That Old Seattle Hunch

Looks to me like the Puget Sound region might turn out to be the one part of the country that avoids the depression.

Boeing is about to get a huge Air Force contract, the biggest military contract in quite a few years, and one which won't be equalled any time soon. True, Boeing hasn't landed it yet, but they've always gotten it in the past, and the competition doesn't look that keen.

The Air Force is going to replace its entire fleet of tanker planes. That's what makes this deal such an enormous chimichanga. And Boeing is already real busy, although I don't know what with. I know people who are working there, and they say it's hopping up in good old Seetle right now. Sea-Tac is the one urban area in the country where the price of housing is still going up. Amazing.

Maybe I should leave the desert for a while and go get a job at Boeing in Everett, in a parts warehouse somewhere, punching the keys and doing inventory control. They're going to be hiring all kinds of people, to go to work for the war machine and they'll be handing out the big bucks. Gummint money -- the best kind.

And why not? If you've got to live in an empire, you might as well get some of the juice.

The Cute Little Bearzy-Wearzy

I have nothing profound to say today, so I thought I'd just put up this picture of a cute little bearzy-wearzy playing with her plush toy.

Friday, February 22, 2008


Here we are nine months out from the election, and already the debate over the two remaining viable candidates has gone red hot. Whether it's the megabuzz generated by yesterday's New York Times story detailing McCain's financial, ideological, and physical relationship with a communications mogul's robobimbo lobbyist, or the intensifying rapture of Obamamaniacs enthralled by the platitudes, generalities, and bromides of his speech yesterday in Youngstown, Ohio, the level of excitement has reached an intensity that would appear impossible to maintain to the end of the electoral cycle.

Which is why we need a wiser head, like Howard Zinn's for instance, to remind us that the election really isn't as important as we might like to think.

In an op-ed piece in the March Progressive magazine, Zinn asserts that the election fever which currently has the country talking about little else "seizes the country every four years because we have all been brought up to believe that voting is crucial in determining our destiny, that the most important act a citizen can engage in is to go to the polls and choose one of the two mediocrities who have already been chosen for us. It is a multiple choice test so narrow, so specious, that no self-respecting teacher would give it to students."

Wake up folks. Barack Obama will probably be the next president, but he's not Jesus Christ. And he will never do what needs to be done, which is beat the money changers out of the temple (i.e., run the lobbyists out of D.C. at the point of a shotgun). Unless we force him to do it, that is.

Sure, I'll vote for him, and so will Howard, who says "I'm not taking some ultra-left position that elections are totally insignificant, and that we should refuse to vote to preserve our moral purity. Yes, there are candidates who are somewhat better than others, and at (sic) certain times of national crisis (the Thirties, for instance, or right now) where even a slight difference between the two parties may be a matter of life and death."

Much more important than voting is activism. Getting rid of one's car and not replacing it is a much more politically significant act than voting. And when your local Republican statehouse rep votes to cut food stamp benefits, if you're truly dedicated to actual change (as opposed to just the word) you'll be able to write a letter to that rep saying, "Yesterday I bought $100 worth of canned goods and produce and delivered it to Food Now. What have you done for hungry people lately, you mean-spirited bastard?"

"Let's remember," Zinn says, "that even when there is a 'better' candidate (yes, better Roosevelt than Hoover, better anyone than George Bush), that difference will not mean anything unless the power of the people asserts itself in ways that the occupant of the White House will find it dangerous to ignore."

And he concludes, "Historically, government, whether in the hands of Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals, has failed its responsibilities, until forced to by direct action: sit-ins and Freedom Rides for the rights of black people, strikes and boycotts for the rights of workers, mutinies and desertions of soldiers in order to stop a war. Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens."

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Stonewall, Jackson

I guess the first thing to do is go read the New York Times story about McCain's relationship with the blonde lobbyist eight years ago that everyone is buzzing about all over the net, in print, and you can bet it'll be in the number one slot on the evening news tonight. It's four pages long, and pretty sordid reading by everyday people standards, however typical of our nation's capital it might be.

Devastating as it is, the Polk-prize-winning journalist, blogger Josh Marshall at TPM, says it's watered down from what the Times was originally planning to run.

McCain is responding to this very badly, by stonewalling.

He's lamely saying "It's not true," meaning, none of it's true. That's a very inept and desperate response to such detailed bundle of charges, which are being made by people who were very close to him at the time. It bodes ill for him, and makes the situation worse than it already was.

He's gone into full "I've never once in my life done anything wrong" mode, which contradicts the admissions in his own autobiography of his culpability as one of the Keating Five back in the '80's. In other words, he's responding with a panic attack.

I feel kind of sorry for the guy, because the problem he's dealing with goes a lot deeper than just him. Washington D.C. is a sink of corruption, overrun with (as Carl Sagan might have said) "billions and billions" of lobbyists handing out cash, meals, rides on corporate jets, European junkets, donor banquets, and rolls in the hay. They do it, of course, to buy influence with lawmakers, the majority of whom are eagerly peddling that influence.

You can't go into the world's biggest whorehouse as a playa, as McCain has done, and give with a bunch of mealy-mouthed platitudes about "integrity" and a couple half-hearted campaign finance "reform" bills and get away with it forever. You can't play that game as long as he has without the truth coming out.

Barack Obama's biggest virtue may turn out to be his having been in D.C. such a short time.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Now it Can Be Told

Shocking! Riveting! Ripped from the headlines, like a broccoli fart ripped from the butthole of my cousin, the macrobiotic diet freak!

Now it can be told, how John McCain, once a straight-talking, moderately right-wing Republican Senator from Arizona, where his mild and polite conservatism appealed to a large geriatric constituency, was transformed into a pristeen and unadulterated wingnut, able to withstand any ideological examination the high priests and shamans of wingnuttery might administer to him.

They put him in the oven, and he became to fascism what oatmeal and raisins are to cookies. Tom Tomorrow has all the salacious details.

She's Not Gone, Just Moved Away

The brilliant, beautiful, and late Molly Ivins has posthumously endorsed Barack Obama. What a prescient being she was, and how I miss her.

S.L. at TPM discovered this when he or she googled "Molly Ivins and Clinton." The first hit she got was titled "I will not support Hillary Clinton for president," and it says in part:

I'd like to make it clear to the people who run the Democratic Party that I will not support Hillary Clinton for president.

Enough. Enough triangulation, calculation and equivocation. Enough clever straddling, enough not offending anyone This is not a Dick Morris election. Sen. Clinton is apparently incapable of taking a clear stand on the war in Iraq, and that alone is enough to disqualify her. Her failure to speak out on Terri Schiavo, not to mention that gross pandering on flag-burning, are just contemptible little dodges.


If no one in conventional-wisdom politics has the courage to speak up and say what needs to be said, then you go out and find some obscure junior senator from Minnesota with the guts to do it. In 1968, Gene McCarthy was the little boy who said out loud, "Look, the emperor isn't wearing any clothes."

She wrote that in January of '06, before either of the current Democratic candidates had announced. I remember reading and agreeing with it at the time.

Nit-pickers and hair-splitters will protest that Obama is the junior senator from Illinois, not Minnesota. But as the seventies band Three Dog Night pointed out, "Oklahoma, or Arizona, what does it madda, what does it madda?"

We lost Molly 13 months ago, on the last day of January, 2007, to breast cancer. She never wrote of her terminal illness in her column, but instead used that space to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable right up to her last day on earth, and this final endorsement shows just how irreplaceable she was.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Talkin' to Myself

Good Lord, good Lord, send me an angel down.
I can't spare you no angel but I'll send you a teasin' brown.
--Blind Willie McTell
"Talkin' to Myself"

The most revolutionary thing any of us could do right now is sell our cars and not replace them. Of course, this assumes either a walkable environment or effective public transit, which is what makes the idea so revolutionary.

No bird soars too high, if he soars with his own wings.
--William Blake

Every person in the world gives me pleasure; some by coming and some by going.

Any violence which does not spring from a spiritual base, will be wavering and uncertain. It lacks the stability which can only rest in a fanatical outlook.
--Adolf Hitler in "Mein Kampf," p. 171

I was instructed, early in my teaching career, not to self-identify as a hippie. "That makes a very bad impression," my mentor told me, and I agreed. After all, peace and love are dangerous, anti-social ideals compared with the manly, conventional, and entirely acceptable notions of war and hatred.

Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.
--James Madison
"Political Observations," 1795

I thought I was awake this morning when I was apparently asleep and dreaming. I dreamed we were still in Vietnam, but all the V.C. had grown big beards and they had tablecloths on their heads.

We need to be the change we wish to see in the world.

It's not enough to want peace; we have to be peace.
--Thich Nhat Hanh

(Portrait of Blind Willie McTell by Henry Wynn.)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Slime Bucket

The famous Republican strategist and anti-tax lobbyist Grover Norquist, who once famously said that the ultimate conservative objective should be to shrink government "to the size where we can drown it in a bathtub," has come up with what he believes is the right plan to torpedo an Obama candidacy.

As reported by the Times of London, Norquist says Obama is "open to being defined as a leftwing, corrupt Chicago politician."

Maintaining that the rising presidential contender and media popstar has the voting record of a "hard-right" socialist, as if the left side of the Democratic party were actually thoroughgoing economic socialists and collectivists, Norquist goes on gleefully to assert that "It will be easy to portray him as even harder-left than Hillary."

His choice of words gives him away. Rather than calling Obama a corrupt Chicago wardheeler, Norquist says he is "open to being defined" that way. He doesn't claim that Obama is actually "harder left" than Senator Clinton, but only that a proper Republican strategy is "to portray" him that way.

Norquist and others like him feel no shame when they lie and misrepresent the truth in this manner, and they illustrate the enormous gulf between those whose lives and works proceed from integrity and those in whom that quality is entirely absent. Some people, like Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, are the wind beneath our wings. Others are the dirt beneath our feet.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Rupert Murdick Strikes Again

Hey Joe, if you didn't pick up the info from my blog I wanted to tell you that I'll no longer visit the BeliefNet site.

The reason is that if I go there, my computer stops functioning. I either can't keep an internet connection at all, or response time gets slower and slower and slower the longer I stay on. It's probably because the place is loading our machines with adware and spyware.

Can't really blame Rupert Murdick because Bnet’s always been that way. If anything, he just made it a little worse. But the bottom line is I have avoided BNet for three days, and my computer is working great now.

I really miss my friends and enemies at Beliefnet, but what can I do? This is just basic survival.

Hope to see you at my blogsite.


In Your Name, and Mine

Sami al-Hajj was working as a photographer for the al-Jazeera news service in Afghanistan when the CIA picked him up in December of 2001. Since then he's been stuck in Gitmo, where he's been beaten, starved, frozen, and humiliated by having interrogators search his rectum in front of others.

Nicholas Kristof's column in the New York Times yesterday is about Sami, and the fact that although he appears to be completely innocent of any crime against the United States, he continues to be tortured by people who are being paid by you and me.

However, I'm not going to link directly with Kristof's column, and will insist instead that you access it through this link and comment by Bernard Chazelle, at Jonathan Schwarz's blog, A Tiny Revolution.

The abominations that have been committed in our names over the past seven years must not go unpunished, and must never be repeated. My biggest regret in connection with these matters, besides the fact that they happened at all, is that Dick Cheney will probably not live long enough after leaving office to ever see the inside of a prison.

We Need More Like This

Bush's pet FISA law, which the Senate cravenly passed a couple days ago, is now bottled up in the House and not going anywhere.

Yesterday Silvestre Reyes, a Democratic representative from the El Paso/Juarez area and Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, wrote to President Bush about the bill. Bush has been whining that if the current law is allowed to expire, the government's hands will be tied in the Global War on Terror, or whatever it is we're calling it now.

Reyes responded to Bush in part, "You have...suggested that Congress must grant retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies. As someone who has been briefed on our most sensitive intelligence programs, I can see no argument why the future security of our country depends on whether past actions of telecommunications companies are immunized."

The whole thing is very much worth reading.

The U.S. Constitution is not dead yet. There are still some people such as Silvestre Reyes who understand what it means, and George W. Bush's attempt to impose an imperial dictatorship on the country has taught us how important it is. I'll have to write to Dubya and thank him for that.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Annals of Edumacation

...But he wore a hat,
And he had a job,
And he brought home the bacon
So that no one knew...

--Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerald Casales (Devo)

To be able to accurately assess the condition of American education, we need to consider the case of the guy who taught high school for 17 years even though he was unable to read or write.

Now it can be told. Ashamed and frustrated, John Corcoran finally learned literacy skills at age 48, partly so he could write a couple books recounting the details of the life of a completely illiterate college graduate and secondary teacher.

I was neither amazed nor particularly surprised by Corcoran's story (as one of my former teaching colleagues said, "He would have made a great administrator."). I've personally known classroom teachers whose academic skills were so marginal that they had major problems passing California's little CBEST teacher qualification test, which is considerably easier than the high school exit exam currently imposed on California's students. However, I was impressed by his innovative and creative ways of dealing with his situation, and by his unusually brazen chutzpah.

During his primary years, Corcoran's strategy was to try to make himself invisible and, when teachers cornered and called on him, to completely clam up. In middle school he switched gears and decided to become a trouble-maker, successfully hiding behind a "troubled child" label. He blossomed as a kid who, in his own words "didn't have a reading problem as far as the teachers were concerned. He had an emotional problem. He had a psychological problem. He had a behavioral problem..."

When he got to high school he changed tactics again and learned to cheat effectively, and his book details how he raised the art of cheating to new and perhaps unprecedented degrees of refinement. He continued using that strategy all the way through college and into a classroom position, where he was apparently repected and well liked.

"I created an oral and visual environment. There wasn't the written word in there. I always had two or three teacher's assistants in each class to do board work or read the bulletin," said Corcoran.

I have a lot of questions about Corcoran that the linked news article didn't answer. Was he able to bubble in a grade sheet, or did his teacher's assistants do that for him? Was he able to sign his name to that sheet? Or was his "oral and visual environment" one of those progressive, forward-looking classes in which the instructor isn't required to keep or post grades other than "satisfactory" and "unsatisfactory?" I guess I'll have to read his biographical book if I want to find out.

However, this revelation, which amounts to an expose of the condition of American education in many, many places (not all) shouldn't surprise anybody. Consider: we have a president who can't speak English without mangling it, whose idea of history is the mythology routinely handed out in high school U.S. history classes (especially in those schools where the football coach is the history teacher), and whose grasp of ethics leads him to conclude that it's o.k. to attack a country that has committed no act of war against us, on the grounds that they might want to commit such acts at an unspecified future date.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Dogs in the House

The Senate's capitulation to George W. on the FISA warrantless spying legislation, engineered by a coalition of Republicans and Bush Dog Democrats, now goes to the House, where that chamber's litter of Bush Dogs is waiting to lubricate it and slide it on through.

Congressional Quarterly reports (via Kos) that "House Republicans engineered a series of procedural votes Wednesday in a bid to derail the Democrats’ prooposed (sic) extension (of the original FISA law), which President Bush said Wednesday he would veto. They argued that the House should simply take up and send to the White House a surveillance overhaul bill (HR 3773) that the Senate passed by 68-29 Tuesday.

"Because 21 conservative Blue Dog Democrats have endorsed the Senate-passed bill, Republicans might be able to win approval of the Senate bill through a motion to recommit the extension with instructions to amend it with the text of the Senate bill."

Kos also includes a complete roster of the House of Representatives Bush Dog coalition. Also see any Las Vegas sports book site for odds on whether the U.S. Constitution will ever be restored.


Riding the crest of a wave of rapidly increasing crude oil prices, Exxon Corporation raked in record-breaking profits for an American company during the last quarter of 2007. The petroleum giant was also the holder of the previous record.

Exxon, the world's largest publicly traded oil company, said fourth-quarter net income rose 14% to $11.66 billion, or $2.13 per share. The company earned $10.25 billion, or $1.76 per share, in the year-ago period.

The profit topped Exxon's previous quarterly record of $10.7 billion, set in the fourth quarter of 2005, which also was an all-time high for a U.S. corporation. Exxon, the world's largest publicly traded oil company, said fourth-quarter net income rose 14% to $11.66 billion, or $2.13 per share. The company earned $10.25 billion, or $1.76 per share, in the year-ago period.

If the Board of Directors is still not satisfied with what the company is making (after all, there's always room for improvement), they could close a couple refineries and create a shortfall that way. Then they could charge us more money for less production. It wouldn't be the first time.

All this makes Exxon CEO Lee-boy Raymond very happy.

Changing Times

Marylander Donna Edwards, on her second try, ended Al Wynn's congressional career last night with a strong primary victory.

Going back to 2006, Edwards has shown herself to be an Obama-ish sort of reformer, while Wynn, a corrupt, gangsterish backbencher, is exactly the kind of Democrat who needs to be targeted for demoliton.

The times they are a-changin'.

Devil's Dozen

That was a nice stiletto-in-the-back move California Senator Diane Feinstein and 17 other Democrats pulled on the American people yesterday by helping the Republicans vote George W. Bush's FISA bill into law. I'm picking on Feinstein, of course, because she's one of my Senators.

Led by Jay Rockefeller and enabled by Harry Reid, these wolves in sheeps' clothing betrayed us by siding with the Party of Roman Hruska and Mussolini, and legislating our fourth amendment rights away. It's now legal to spy on the phone conversations and internet communications of Americans, and the telecom corporations who have actually been doing the heretofore-illegal spying at the behest of the administration are now handed retroactive immunity.

Barack Obama took time off from the campaign trail and showed up to vote against this unconstitutional and treasonous stab in our collective back. Hillary Clinton didn't bother to show up, and McCain, of course, put in an appearance to stand with his fellow tools of the right-wing dictatorship.

I'm now an Obama supporter. I was waiting for him to stop talking in platitudes and show some leadership, and yesterday he did.

Down With Tyranny has more coverage, and the complete list of Democrats-in-name-only who need to have 666's painted on their foreheads and face serious challenges in the next round of primaries. They are:

1. Evan Bayh of Indiana. This little puke rode into the Senate on his dad's name, and is king of the Bush Dog Democrats.
2. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii is so old he's about to fall out of his chair anyway.
3. Tim Johnson of South Dakota. I hope he's all recovered from his recent medical crisis, so he can drive himself home.
4. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana has consistently shown herself to be an incompetent administrator and a corrupt tool of moneyed interests.
5. Claire McCaskill of Missouri.
6. and 7. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Bill Nelson of Florida, aka David and Ricky updated.
8. Debbie Stabenow of Minnesota.
9. Feinstein.
10. Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, and 11. Mark Pryor of Wisconsin. Ed Gein's home state manages to score another ax murder, this one a joint effort by Wisconsin's entire Senate delegation.
12. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, for whom a special place in hell is now reserved.
13. Ken Salazar of Colorado.
14. Tom Carper of Delaware
15. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland
16. Kent Conrad of North Dakota.
17. Jim Webb of Virginia. Not so long ago we had high hopes for this guy.
18. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas.

It's time for us to get serious about cleaning house in the Democratic Party. It may be a creaky old vehicle, burning oil and running on two cylinders, but it's the only ride we've got.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Game Over

I know it's not a good idea to count your boobies before they're hatched, but it looks to me like Hillary is down for the count, and will probably fold after she loses the primaries in Ohio and Texas.

She's been lending herself money, so as much of a fighter as she is, and as tough as she and Bill are together, they just can't afford to bankroll this thing to the bitter end.

This morning's New York Times pretty much tells the whole story in both present and future tenses, and says in part: Mrs. Clinton held a buck-up-the-troops conference call on Monday with donors, superdelegates and other supporters; several said afterward that she had sounded tired and a little down, but determined about Ohio and Texas.

They also said that they had not been especially soothed, and that they believed she might be on a losing streak that could jeopardize her competitiveness in those states.

“She has to win both Ohio and Texas comfortably, or she’s out,” said one superdelegate who has endorsed Mrs. Clinton, and who spoke on condition of anonymity to share a candid assessment. “The campaign is starting to come to terms with that.” Campaign advisers, also speaking privately in order to speak plainly, confirmed this view.

Several Clinton superdelegates, whose votes could help decide the nomination, said Monday that they were wavering in the face of Mr. Obama’s momentum after victories in Washington State, Nebraska, Louisiana and Maine last weekend.

It would help the Democrats if this war was settled by the time the convention starts. And of course, I'll support Obama, in spite of the fact that I find the mass intoxication surrounding his candidacy ominous and foreboding.

We have too many crises landing on our heads to be celebrating anything. For starters, we're in a war that has made us all murderers and bandits, and the rest of the world knows that and despises us for it. And now we're experiencing the economic meltdown that's an inevitable consequence of this administration's tax giveaways and its refusal to discharge any of its regulatory responsibilites.

But who am I to throw cold water on the ecstasies of Obamamania?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Different Day -- SOS

Look around today and you'll see the same old stuff (putting it delicately). People are passionately and, in some cases, almost evangelically embracing candidate A or candidate B, even to the point of taking opposition to their favorites as personal insults. Such people appear to believe that the cure for our rotted, stinking dinosaur of a political system can come from inside the system.

They must be hypnotized by the eerie glow of the indoctrination machine we all have in our living rooms. That's all I can think of.

Stop listening to a head in a box, even if it's Oprah Winfrey's head, and learn one of the essential, unavoidable lessons of world history: corrupt institutions don't reform themselves. They have to be forced open from the outside.

That's why the revolution is inevitable.

In 1510, Martin Luther went to Rome and got a noseful of the stench of the 16th-century Catholic Church, up too close and way too personal. He saw people like himself giving enormous amounts of money to priests in an attempt to buy God's grace, as if it could be bought and sold.

He didn't intend to start a revolution, and he didn't pick up gunpowder or a sword. Instead he simply nailed some words to a church door, and that's all it took to start the inevitable housecleaning.

Barack Obama is collecting a lot of small contributions from private citizens -- more than any other candidate -- but he is also taking beaucoup money from the same pharmaceuticals company lobbyists as Hillary Clinton, and from the same defense contractor lobbyists as McCain. (So did Edwards, for that matter.) Even more ominously, he and his handlers are making strenuous efforts to hide that fact. See this interesting item in the Washington Post.

You take money from those bastards and they own you. That's why nothing good can come out of this American political system, and why it has to be demolished if we're ever to restore any measure of democracy, equality, and peace to this society.

The past couple days I've been reading that Obama is now hanging out with Colin Powell. For moral guidance, I presume.

Yeah, I'll vote Democratic in November, but it won't be the most important thing I do that day.

You know, some of us remember being seduced by a pretty face and a charming line of talk back in 1960. Kennedy. Remember him? He's the guy who almost blew up the world.

A rotten tree can't bear good fruit, and by their rotten fruit, you know them.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Is Obama a Total Phony or Just Naive?

I really can't figure out if this guy believes his own b.s. or whether he's sold his soul to the devil, which is to say, Halliburton and Lockheed.

It's only February, and I'm already sick of hearing Obama's inspid and quite frankly insulting calls for bipartisanship -- insulting to anybody who knows the score. Does he think he's actually going to sit down with people like Grover Norquist and Duncan Hunter and come to some kind of mutual understanding?

He either doesn't know or doesn't care what kind of people have been running this country for the last seven years. When a strongarm robber sticks a pistol in your face and growls, "Gimme your money," do you say, "Wait, let's talk about this -- maybe we can come to some kind of an understanding..."?

It's true that the revolutionary, Gandhi, actually sat down with Winston Churchill on a couple of occasions, but he didn't do it so they could reconcile their differences. He did it in order to tell Churchill how it was going to be, and to set his intoxicated, fat, pink, English ass straight. Martin Luther King, our own revolutionary, was willing to sit down with his enemies, too -- after he'd won the battle and could dictate terms.

Please, folks, don't make the mistake of thinking that the creeps who stole YOUR money and sent YOUR kids off to fight THEIR war are reasonable people, and that if we just talk to them they'll see the merits of our position. They'll only interpret these wimpy chirps for reconciliation as a sign of weakness.

But they will understand if we tell them that what they've done is now a law enforcement matter.

No wonder Bill Clinton called the Obama campaign "the biggest fairy tale" he's ever seen. Bill's not my favorite person, but he's smarter than your average morally conflicted fork-tongued politician. And that's just one of the reasons I'd prefer to vote for his wife, the senator, this fall.

Everybody around here seems to be sick of contention and hostility. But you know, I'm just getting started, and therefore have nothing but admiration for Jonathan Schwarz at "A Tiny Revolution," who has this "Yes, We Can!" horse crap down cold.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Pimping Chelsea

Last night MSNBC's David Shuster, subbing for Tucker Carlson, said of Chelsea Clinton, "Doesn't it seem like Chelsea's sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way?"

Whyzzat Dave? Because she's been shown on the TV making campaign calls for her mom?

Denials don't do much good in an age of videotape, so instead of trying to deny saying it, Shuster today tried to defend himself by claiming that he'd also said we should "all be proud" of Chelsea, and that everybody "loved her." But he's lying because he never uttered such slovos as them.

At least he didn't call her a nappy-headed hoe.

In spite of that, today he was suspended from his job for I'm not sure how long. MSNBC is not right wing hate radio lite and with pictures, eh.

You know, guys like this are not like Rush Limbaugh. People like Shuster try to hide who they really are, unlike old Rushbo who just lets it all hang out for the world to see and marvel at. But even with oily little slicks like Shuster, the truth will eventually out. It has to. It's impossible to hide forever under those bright lights.

Fascist Rage

Yesterday I had a confrontation with a neighbor, one of those elevated-heartbeat situations that nearly escalates into violence suddenly and unexpectedly. I've dealt with some violent fools in my life, having taught high school a number of years, but I don't think I've ever had to confront another sociopath who behaved so badly as this baboso, and with so little justification.

The guy really had nothing -- but nothing -- to be angry about, but then I'm sure he doesn't need any provocation. He is, as it turns out, one of Rush Limbaugh's little storm troopers, and what I got yesterday is only what you or I should expect.

Suspicions confirmed.

I used to try to convince myself that cheerleading on the sidelines of an imperial war while little kids are getting clusterbombed was "just political," and didn't make fascists "bad" people. But that's not true. These are dreadful, broken people, with murder in their mouths and banditry on their minds, as incapable of empathy as they are of honesty.

"The problem," as Atrios (Duncan Black) said some time ago, "is not that people are calling them assholes. The problem is, they're assholes."

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Super Duper

This is a super week. The Super Bowl was on Sunday, then we got a day off, and now it's Super Tuesday.

Those two things have more in common than you might think. Both are very big TV shows, with sponsors and their own theme music.

It's also Mardi Gras.

It's also the day when they (the stock market people) realized we're going to get a Supersized(TM) recession. The Institute for Supply Management's service sector report came out, and it looks very bleak. The Super Recession of 2008 is also a TV show, but unlike the other two supes is a great deal more besides. It has the distressing characteristic of being real.

This particular ISM survey is a time-honored, respected, and reliable economic indicator.

"But how bad is it?" asks the New York Times's Paul Krugman. "The latest report has an employment diffusion index of 43.9 (50 means no change, anything less than 50 means job contraction)." He also supplies the historial graph, and it's not a pretty picture.

This is going to be very rough. There will be a lot of people out of work, and trying to squeeze by on little or no money. For how long? Nobody knows.

This is the last of the bouquet of poisoned blossoms the Neocon movement, beginning with Ronald Reagan, has cultivated for us over nearly 30 years in the toxic soil of its noxious garden.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Goodbye Britney

The right time for Britney Spears jokes, if there ever was such, is gone now, with the announcement that she'll be in the hospital another two weeks. Doctors and a person the AP describes as a "medical officer" decided she's not ready to leave.

We may never see her again. A Los Angeles judge has put the 26-year-old under the care of her father, naming him Britney's conservator. Both the judge and hospital personnel have drawn the justifiable conclusion that Britney Spears needs somebody to take care of her. Not long ago she was seen sitting alone on a sidewalk in Los Angeles, holding her miniature dog and crying.

This is no joke. There is a lot in this story that's the kind of stuff Greek Tragedy is made of -- the Olympian myth of a demi-goddess, like Icarus who flew too close to the sun, or King Midas who became the prisoner of his own good fortune.

An extraordinarily steep ascent to dangerous heights of fame and fortune at a tender age has worked its mischief. And a wise man once said, "At first a fool's mischief tastes sweet -- sweet as honey. But in time it turns bitter, and how bitterly he suffers."

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Watch out for Wedgies

John McCain looks like and has the personality of Captain Underpants. That's just one of his problems.

Keep a keen eye out for wedgies. PDF wedgies are the worst.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Cat Boxing

This morning I had forwarded to me an email message from Nancy Keenan, President of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL).

She reminds people that John McCain has voted to limit or rescind abortion rights 125 out of 130 times while in the Senate, that Mitt Romney once vetoed Massachusetts legislation making provisions for emergency contraception (his veto was overridden), and that Mike Huckabee has said he believes Roe v. Wade should be overturned.

On the other hand, Keenan advises us that both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are pro choice, or not to put too fine a point on it, will work to protect abortion rights.

For those reasons, I plan to vote for the Democratic candidate this fall, no matter who it is.

I realize that nobody has spent more time on this site bad-mouthing the Democrats than I have. I still think we need a better Democratic Party, and that not just the Democrats, but the entire political system, has failed us miserably because it has failed to articulate a foreign policy that acknowledges reality (I.e., that acknowledges that the U.S. does NOT own the world and everything in it), or an economic policy that makes sense.

However, in consideration of the difference between the parties regarding certain domestic issues such as abortion rights, I will never vote Republican and will always vote Democratic.

I still reserve the right to be a pain in the ass among Democrats.

Quit Iraq Now.