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"Disorder in the house. . . reptile wisdom . . . zombies on the lawn, staggering around; Disorder in the house, there's a flaw in the system, a fly in the ointment's gonna bring the whole thing down."
Warren Zevon

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Words Fail Me 

Okay, not totally, but it's close. I really shouldn't be surprised by this, but it seems the LA Times is reporting that Tom Delay, one of the primary supporters of the GOP's politically motivated "emergency" Terry Schiavo legislation, took exactly the opposite position with his own brain-damaged father in 1988. Delay joined with the rest of his family in deciding not to connect Charles Delay to a dialysis machine, but still has the gall to denounce the removal of Terry Schiavo's feeding tube as "an act of barbarism." Typical conservative hypocrisy, you might say, and you'd be right. But, it gets worse.

Yes, it seems that the conservative Delay family also opted to sue the manufacturer of a railroad coupling which they contended was defective and led to Charles Delay's death. Somehow, I suppose, this litigation was different that the "frivolous, parasitic lawsuits" that Delay now claims are undermining our legal system. And, as the LA Times reminds us, after the Delay family lawsuit was settled, Tom Delay cosponsored a bill specifically designed to override state laws on product liability such as the one cited in his family's lawsuit [which] provided sweeping exemptions for product sellers."

Hypocrisy and family values, GOP style.

(via Buzzflash)

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Two Approaches 

The hypocrisy of the Republican position in the Terry Schiavo matter is none too subtle, and neither therefore, is William Rivers Pitt:

"The next time you find yourself in a debate about Ms. Schiavo with a person who agrees with Bush and the Congressional majority on this, ask them about Sun Hudson. Hudson was born with a genetic disorder and was sustained by machines from the day of his birth. The Texas hospital housing him decided there was no point in sustaining his care, and Hudson was removed from his machines. He died at five months old.

This happened last week.

Five-month-old Sun Hudson was removed from his life-sustaining machines by a Texas law signed by then-Governor George W. Bush in 1999. The law allows patients deemed unsalvageable by the hospital to be removed from ventilators and other medical apparatus, with a ten-day window given to the families of the stricken to find another facility before the plug is pulled.

Sun Hudson was African-American, and neither Congress nor Mr. Bush came storming to his rescue before his death last week. Believe this: If Ms. Schiavo were an African American child, a Hispanic mother, an Iraqi wife, an Afghani grandmother, an American soldier suffering massive brain trauma from an explosion in Mosul, anyone from Darfur or the Congo, if she had been anything other than a white woman in a Fundamentalist-controlled state, we would have never, ever, heard of her.

The piercing hypocrisy found in this hue and cry over Schiavo is the simple fact that the GOP majority pushing this doesn't give a tinker's damn about her condition or her fate. They want to cobble together some kind of bastardized precedent with this to knock down a woman's right to choose, and they'd like to tag Nelson while they're at it. Beyond that, this is a smokescreen to cover their true intentions."


As usual Pitt is right on the mark. Read the rest.

Another approach, different but equally effective, is Jon Stewart's brilliant sketch "Congressional Meddle," helpfully linked here by onegoodmove.

"Culture of Life," my ass.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Six Months 

George W. Bush says that drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will strengthen both the economy and national security. George W. Bush says that expoliting the Alaskan wilderness is "a way to get some additional reserves here at home on the books. In terms of world supply ... demand is outracing supply, and supplies are getting tight. This project will make America less dependent on foreign sources of energy, eventually by up to a million barrels of oil a day." George W. Bush is a damn liar.

According to the US Geological Survey, there are likely to be somewhere between "5.7 billion and 16 billion barrels of recoverable oil" in the Arctic Refuge, with the most likely amount being around 10.4 billion barrels. As America currently consumes about 20 million barrels of oil a day, the recovery of 10 billion barrels would equate to a supply of oil that the country would deplete in six months. And, with drilling projected to begin in 2007, with ten years of work necessary before production is maximized, we're talking 10 years work for a six month supply.

What were not talking about is a recovery that will in any way reduce our dependence on foreign oil. As the Atlanta Journal Constitution points out, "If Congress and the Bush administration were serious about making the nation more energy independent, they should raise fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks. Increasing fuel economy by a mere 3 miles a gallon would save more oil in a decade than could be recovered from ANWR in a lifetime." But we know that's not going to happen, that would mean tighter profit margins for Bush's corporate supporters. No, we can't have that. Far better to drill in the wildlife refuge, screw those alarmist environmentalists, and cater to the oil industry all at the same time.

Six months. Doesn't sound like a benefit to national security to me. Doesn't sound like a significant reduction in our dependence on foreign oil. Sounds to me like another lie from an ignorant man with his head up the ass of corporate interests who have no qualms about destroying one of the last pristine wilderness areas in America.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Toss the Bouquet 

In the wake of Monday's ruling that California's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, Athenae at First Draft has posted a truly moving essay on marriage. Read it to be reminded of what's really important in this debate.

When I first read it, I could hear in my mind the words of the song you're now listening to, "Toss the Bouquet," written by an incredibly talented friend of mine, Sam Frazier.

"Toss the bouquet, don't hit the chandelier; Strike up the band, and dance."

Monday, March 14, 2005

Conversation For Dummies 


Great. As Maru reminds us, five years of paid-off "journalists," propaganda outlets, and staged, carefully rehearsed "townhall meetings" and the Washington Post just now decides to write about it. As anyone with a brain knows, Bush's "conversations on Social Security" are anything but:

The White House follows a practiced formula for each of the meetings. First it picks a state in which generally it can pressure a lawmaker or two, and then it lines up panelists who will sing the praises of the president's plan. Finally, it loads the audience with Republicans and other supporters.

. . .

The night before the event, the chosen participants gathered for a rehearsal in the hall in which the president would appear the next day. An official dispatched by the White House played the president and asked questions. "We ran through it five times before the president got there," [a participant] said.


. . .

The few dissenting voices in the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts were quickly silenced or escorted out by security. One woman with a soft voice but firm opposition to Bush was asked to leave, even though her protests were barely audible beyond her section in the back corner of the auditorium. The carefully screened panelists spoke admiringly about Bush, his ideas, his "bold" leadership on Social Security.

Yeah, we know how "bold" he is.

(Link to the Washington Post, photos of the "smirking chickenshit," and damn near everything else in this post, shamelessly stolen from Maru.)

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Attention: Deficit Disorder 

No, not the budget deficit. We've all seen the commentary on Bush's shameful, irresponsible, immoral and deceptive federal budget. We all know how bad that deficit is; hell, it's so bad that not only did the democrats grow a spine and decry it, even confirmed Bush apologist Alan Greenspan says it's a "significant obstacle to long-term stability." Indeed, Robert Hormats, Vice-Chairman of Goldman Sachs International, even makes a compelling case that the current budget deficit makes us significantly more vulnerable to terrorism.

No, this post is devoted to yet another deficit, the ever-critical trade deficit, and the Bush policies that are pushing us to the brink of global economic suicide.

"It Takes a Pillage," by Avedon Carol is a good place to start. As she quite correctly points out, the corporate giveaways and budget priorites that encourage American outsourcing are as shortsighted as all the rest of Bush's policies, because "out-sourcing means more than just giving your job to some guy in China; it means that while the Chinese are learning to do your job, Americans are not."

Then, follow her link to Paul Craig Roberts' column, "Turning Chinese." Like his earlier writing on outsourcing, http://www.counterpunch.org/roberts02152005.html" Roberts pulls no punches:

"America's remaining job market is domestic nontradable services. While India and China develop first world job markets, the US labor market takes on the characteristics of a third world work force. Only jobs that cannot be outsourced are growing.

The Bush economy has seen a loss of 2.8 million manufacturing jobs, a rise in the unemployment rate of 1.2 percentage points, and a stagnation in real weekly earnings.

How bad will things have to get before economists realize that outsourced jobs are not being replaced? Indeed, many American companies are ceasing to have any presence in the US except for a sales force."


Roberts' case in point is Cisco, Inc., whose CEO, John Chambers, recently stated, "What we're trying to do is outline an entire strategy of becoming a Chinese company." More on that particular situation can be found through Avedon's update link to a post by Charles Dodgson.

Then consider Simon Bowers' March 7, 2005 article for The Guardian, based largely on the recent comments of Warren Buffet to the effect that our current administration seems intent on creating not an "ownership society," but a "sharecropper's society:" "In his annual letter to investors in Berkshire Hathaway, the fund he has run for more than 30 years, Mr Buffett painted a bleak picture of a future US in which ownership and wealth had continued to move overseas, leaving the economy in thrall to foreign interests and faced with financial turmoil and political unrest. He said his performance last year had been "lacklustre". He explained his mounting bet against the dollar in terms of a spiralling US trade deficit - which, he warned, may be approaching crisis point. . . . This force-feeding of American wealth to the rest of the world is now proceeding at the rate of $1.8bn daily."

Avedon Carol calls it "asset-stripping," others refer to it as outsourcing America, but how ever the current trend is described, the status of our trade deficit, and the percentage of America now owned by foreign interests is as least as much a concern as our fiscal deficit.

And for those who continue to trust in the global value of the dollar to save us, as if on cue, the New York Times just yesterday reported that "the U.S. dollar fell against the euro and the Japanese yen Friday after the United States reported its second-highest monthly trade deficit ever, reinforcing concerns about the health of the economy. . . .The soaring U.S. trade deficit must be financed by foreigners willing to hold U.S. dollars in exchange for the products they sell to the United States. The concern has been that has been that the trade deficit at some point could rise so far that foreigners become reluctant to hold dollar-denominated assets like stocks and bonds."

And when that happens, well, as Paul Craig Roberts stated earlier in the week, "the dollar's value and status as reserve currency cannot forever stand the trade and budget deficits that are now part and parcel of America's economic policy. Unless there are major changes soon, America's economic future is a third world work force with a banana democracy's worthless currency."

74-25 

The MBNA-penned, creditor-friendly Bankruptcy "Reform" bill passes in the Senate, and is expected to easily pass in the House of Representatives. Included in the 25 "Nay" votes was Joe Lieberman, who posted this comment on his website yesterday. Bull Moose buys it, Atrios doesn't. I'm with Atrios. You don't vote to limit debate on a bill, then say you did your part to prevent its passage.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Thing I Learned This Week 

I learned that I'm in good company when I say that the Bankruptcy "Reform" bill is worse than even the Patriot Act.

I learned that sometimes, as with S. 256, even the good guys can be bought and sold.

I learned what the autopsy photos of a three week old baby girl look like when she's born into a home that operates as a crystal meth lab.

I learned that Ken Layne reads The Stinging Nettle, but not Reptile Wisdom.

I learned that Faithful Progressive knows what it's like to have a week like this one;

And, I learned that even after a week like this, a bottle of 1998 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon is best enjoyed with microwaved Ballpark franks, your wife, and a fourteen month old little girl;

And that afterward, you should put the little one to bed and watch "Avatar" with the four year old on the couch. He really is the last of the Airbenders, you know.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Go, and Sin No More 

And while you're going, read Faithful Progressive's ongoing, well written and exhaustively researched series on the religious right, with its recent tie-in to the "Most Influential Evangelicals" profiled last month in Time magazine.

Then read Avedon's typically excellent post on truth and the media, as manipulated by the right, then follow her link to Mahablog's post on the travesty of the current bankruptcy "reform" bill.

Then, on that note, Read Maryscott O'Connor's knowledgeable and righteous rant on the bankruptcy bill, the defeated amendments, and the outrage we should all feel based on Democratic acquiesence to the worst piece of legislation we're likely to see in our lifetime. Yes, I think it's worse than the Patriot Act. Read the amendments that were rejected and you'll see what I mean. (Thanks to my fellow Stinging-Nettle blogger, DrFrankLives, for the link, and for an excellent post on the bill from a corporate practitioner's perspective.)

Then go read Apostropher, not for any particular post, but because he's one of the best writers on the net, or anywhere else for that matter.

Some Days 

Some days, I have a lot to say, and plenty of time and energy to say it. Other days, when I've spent my week involved in endlessly complicated legal controversies between petty, vindictive people who have more money that I'll ever see in my lifetime, or when I'm completely drained after advocating for the rights of grandparents to custody of their three-year old grandson, whose three-week old sibling died suddenly of "undetermined causation," but whose autopsy revealed methamphetamine, cocaine and opium derivatives in her bloodstream, well, sometimes I just turn on some music, sit in the floor and watch my own daughter play with her toys. What a world I've brought her into.

Turn It Up 

I'm not sure how significant it is that Ken Layne's son was born the day before Hunter S. Thompson shot himself, but Brian Linse hopes there was a connection, in a cosmic continuity sort of way, and that was the comment that finally got me to check out "Fought Down," by Ken Layne and the Corvids.

To be sure, Layne's songs and recordings have gotten all manner of rave reviews. Ken's vocals have been compared to Steve Earle and Mick Jagger, and the recording itself has been hailed as a modern incarnation of "Exile on Main Street." But, as any self-respecting music snob knows, accolades like that are a dime a dozen in any number of music magazines, and any given band has some reviewer convinced that they're the only "real" rock-and-roll/roots rock/alternative/alt-country band out there. So I had previously just stifled a yawn and kept clicking. But, for whatever reason, the Hunter S. Thompson comment piqued my interest, so when Avedon Carol linked to Ken's cdbaby webpage, I clicked through and I bought the record.

And, well, it's good. It's really good. Actually, it's better than good. Great songs, great band, great production values, great music. No corporate agenda, no songs tailored for radio formats, just twangy, soul-deep rock that'll stick in your head from the first listen. If you're like me, you know you've got a great record when you're heading down the road, thinking about something else, and then you notice that you're unconsciously reaching for the CD player volume knob with a big grin on your face. This is that kind of record. Turn it up.
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