Sunday, December 31, 2006

Journalists who got Iraq right from the beginning

Paul Krugman was one of the few.
For this foresight, he was called "deranged" on the pages of a competing, national newspaper. He was called shrill, gnome-like, disgusting by right-wing bloggers. He was threatened with bodily harm in the landslide of hate mail driven by attacks from Bill O'Reilly and others. The National Review even instituted an on-line column dedicated to "debunking" Krugman's arguments.

If his status as Right Wing Target Number One is any indication, he clearly scared the crap out of Bush supporters.
The Atlantic Monhtly also had a very astute article asking if we really wanted a long term relationship with Iraq. The Atlantic editor was also right.

BTW - The long history of not taking the oath on the Bible in America.

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New poll detects Texas turning Purple

Texas Democrats have pulled even with Republicans, and the state is now about half red, half blue. At least, that's according to 1,053 Texans surveyed by an independent Democratic pollster.

The poll's news announcement focused on one specific response: By 46 percent to 35 percent, respondents said Democrats "care" more about "people like me." That's a reversal from two years ago.

But most eyes went immediately to the bottom line of the poll, conducted in early December by Austin-based Montgomery & Associates:

Asked which political party they lean toward, 45 percent chose Democrat.

Only 43 percent chose Republican. If you figure in the poll's margin of error, that's a tie.

Two years ago, in the same Democratic poll, Republicans led by 55 percent to 34 percent.

"There is an attitude change nationally that is affecting Texas," said Cal Jillson, the Southern Methodist University political science professor who correctly foresaw a Republican sweep of state offices in the November elections and also the Democratic gains in the Texas House.

"People are increasingly concerned with the results they see from the Republican majority," he said. "In Austin, those numbers are playing themselves out in the hanging of Tom Craddick. Republicans have begun to panic that the unease in the public is going to be taken out of their hide."
I first saw the news here.

Don't have anything much more to add to it but it fits my impression that local voters are turning 50-50 right now. I think this shift will continue through 2008. In talking politics in restaurants will now get someone from another table coming over to also talk about Bush and the GOP not being worth spit - in red, red, Deer Park.
Political parties Texans say they lean toward:

___________ __ 2006_ _ 2005_ _ 2004
Democrat___ __ 45.1% _ 37.2% _ 33.9%
Republican___ __ 42.6% _ 49.2% _ 54.7%
Independent_ __ 06.4% _ 10.5% _ 10.2%
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Saturday, December 30, 2006

One Corps - Together We Can Make a Difference

Make a New Year's Resolution to start a revolution and actually work for change. John Edwards - 2008.

Edwards: No more troops for Iraq, Deficit Reduction lower priority than healthcare and poverty reduction.

Is Edwards the best positioned Democrat to win?

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Ann Althouse meets a bunch of Libertarians

She is shocked they value abstractions over real life and support bigotry if it is not government bigotry.

I am surprised she is shocked, that fits the Libertarian Party I know to the T. I would add they support any oppression as long as it is not government oppression. Inequality is not a problem with Libertarians as long as it is not government meddling. Inequality is seen as a virtue and a reflection of their version of Darwinism.

Ann is a conservative idiot but you can't call her a racist and I am glad she got mad and walked out of a racist gathering.

Radley Balko of Reason Magazine defends their racism as umm, not racism but a belief in a higher equality inequality freedom don't you tell me what to do you commie or something.

Dave Berry's Year-End Review

"U.S. Double Standards are Fueling Arab Hate"

Reaction to Saddam's hanging from our friends the Saudis.

Fisk notes the US created Saddam and then destroyed him.
When he was captured in November of 2003, the insurgency against American troops increased in ferocity. After his death, it will redouble in intensity again. Freed from the remotest possibility of Saddam's return by his execution, the West's enemies in Iraq have no reason to fear the return of his Baathist regime. Osama bin Laden will certainly rejoice, along with Bush and Blair. And there's a thought. So many crimes avenged.
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Friday, December 29, 2006

Debunking the top myths of liberal talk radio of 2006

I was getting depressed after flipping the radio dial in Houston the other day and this cheered me up.

Saddam executed

Rushed execution before a Muslim holiday came only after a meeting with US advisors.

"The age of GOP neo-insanity is not over."

And other articles from The Progressive Daily Beacon

Baghdad Burning - The Worst Year Yet in Iraq

Will Saddam's execution confirm the Civil War that has already started?
"Bush has effectively created more terrorists in Iraq these last 4 years than Osama could have created in 10 different terrorist camps in the distant hills of Afghanistan. Our children now play games of 'sniper' and 'jihadi', pretending that one hit an American soldier between the eyes and this one overturned a Humvee."

Blood in the Austin Water

OK, my few fans live for my political gossip from unnamed sources so sit down and enjoy.

Craddick is up the creek and now has Republican challengers swarming out of hiding seeking his job, or at least more power, in the new Texas house. This would not be happening unless there was a strong likelihood he doesn't have the votes to remain Speaker of the House. However, as a prime example of the corrupt take-no-prisoners GOP leadership, he is prepared to fight back and fight back dirty.

Maybe you should read Kuff to get up to speed.

Here is what Kuff isn't saying. The nastiness that looks about to break out comes in two forms - sex and illegality.

Craddick is the only one of our current GOP leaders who does not have rumors, and more than rumors, of being in the crowded GOP gay closet. He or his conservative backers have threatened to out two or three, or more, of the GOP state representatives who are opposed to his bid to remain speaker. Now, not all of the anti-Craddick people are tolerant of the gays. Craddick's team are hoping that the conservative homophobes, like Rep. Talton, may come back to the fold if they can be convinced that the opposition to him is part of the "gay agenda." At the very least, having a public witch-hunt for gays and outing a few prominent GOP examples is not how most of the Republican party wants the new year to start. Besides, if it starts in the Texas House who knows how far it will spread?

The other element that may break out is that there is a lot of horse-trading and favors offered going on in the Speaker's race. Offering any inducement to vote for a Speaker is illegal. Amazing but true. Rumors are that offers were made in the presence of more than one person and that this may have been recorded. Oops. It is pretty amazing that Craddick, one of the leaders of arm twisting and payoffs for votes and breaking the law in regards to soliciting corporate contributions, will now try to go after opponents for payoffs for votes and breaking the law.

On the Democratic side I don't see it posted according to the Houston Chronicle Senfronia Thompson has bowed out and is supporting McCall, who clearly seems the best choice now. The only thing McCall has going against him for getting elected is that Democrats outnumber Republicans among his supporters at this time. Pitt has thrown his hat in the ring with a 50-50 bipartisan show of current supporters, unless he is just a stalking horse for Craddick who when it comes down to the wire will support him.

Pass the popcorn and send me more reports on the gay Republican hound dogs of Austin. Aahhhooo, going to listen to some Warren Zevon and take a nap now.

UPDATE: X-posted at Daily Kos, slightly different version for non-Texans. Kuff has noticed my expansion.

Year in Review: Best of the Best of Lists

Check out the 20 funniest political videos of 2006

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Religious diversity in Congress

Overlooked in the controversy fanned by some bigots of the first Muslim in Congress, we also elected our first two Buddhists. What sacred Buddhist texts could they not swear on? (As you should know, Congress does not take the oath of office on a Bible or any text.) Zen Buddhists would be very happy with nothing.

National Review regards year-old email spam as news

Over a year ago there was an email circulating about the "good news" from Iraq that was some seriously off GOP propaganda mixed in with some observations about guns and weapons. Someone at NRO today, Cliff May, thought it was current news, not from November 2005, that the damn liberal media wasn't reporting.

You don't have to be an idiot to be a conservative, just to get a column or be paid as a pundit.

Cliff May who posted the old email was also named the National Reviews best prognosticator from last year with a claimed score of 83% correct. I believe he could be their least bad forecaster but that their scorer can't count. I have my count of May's predictions: 11 correct but some obvious, 4 partial credit and 6 incorrect - several of these could be disputed.

The Anti-Imperialist League and the Battle Against Empire

Just over 100 years ago in the name of freedom the United States liberated a country. Our military was shortly engaged in a full scale war against those who felt the need to liberate themselves from us their new occupiers. At home, there was an active resistance to the occupation and the shame it was bringing to those who believed in the ideals of America. You just didn't hear much about it in the mainstream media.

Mark Twain was VP of the Anti-Imperialist League and wrote one of his most famous stories during the American occupation of the Philippines. He did not get it published in his lifetime.
One of Twain's most compelling antiwar writings, a short story called "The War Prayer," was considered too radical to be published in Twain's lifetime. "I don't think the prayer will be published in my time," Twain said. "None but the dead are permitted to tell the truth."

"The War Prayer" was a vivid commentary on the misappropriation of religion on behalf of nationalistic causes. It begins with a church service in which the pastor calls down the blessings of God upon American military forces and concludes with, "Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!"
A frail old man makes his way into the church and, waving the pastor aside, explains that he has spoken with God Himself, who wishes to hear the other half of that prayer — the half that was only in their hearts and uttered but implicitly.

O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle — be Thou near them! With them — in spirit — we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it —

for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet!

We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.
The story ends abruptly, with the people considering the man a lunatic — and, presumably, carrying on as before.

Gavin is reading the elephant asses for me

He titles his 15 minute adventure Today In Sociopathy.

Ford called war in Iraq unjustified

I had my problems with Ford as President and still do.

Nixon appointed him because he was non-controversial and had many friends in the House and Senate. He was also dull and not very smart, our only football scholarship President. Democrats joked that Nixon appointed him to help safeguard his job as no one could imagine him as being smart enough to be President. He is not remembered in Congress for any legislation or in the Presidency. He was most known for being loyal to the Republican Party.

I can never forgive him for pardoning Nixon. Nixon got into trouble for believing the President was above all laws and Ford showed that he agreed. There should be a law that elected officials can never be pardoned. Pardoning Nixon did not help the nation heal, it let the Republicans and Nixon off the hook. We have a President today doing things worse than Nixon because the lesson did not sink in that the President is the servant of the people, not the people's master.

That said, he had no real scandals associated with his life. He may have been wrong and thick-headed and slow, but he was not a crook. He did what he thought was right.

One legacy of Ford is his work on the Warren Commission, where he was dishonest in the write-up in the political Kabuki of the commission to assure the country that Oswald was a lone crazed gunman. The initial draft of the report stated: "A bullet had entered his back at a point slightly above the shoulder to the right of the spine." Ford wanted it to read: "A bullet had entered the back of his neck slightly to the right of the spine." The final draft is closer to his and misleading. Dismissing and covering up evidence for the good of the nation, pardoning a crooked tyrant for the good of the nation... Contrary to what the elites at the top would want, loyalty is not the highest virtue but it was Ford's.

Even this late in life he could see that Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld were wrong on Iraq. Unfortunately, he also still believed in loyalty - both to the GOP and to the office of the President. He would not publicly say that but gave an interview to be published only after his death. This was Fords greatest flaw, loyalty over doing what was right. He was not a well liked or even seen as a competent President at the time and had disputes with the more liberal Congress, 36 vetoes in his short time in office, but his reputation has slowly improved at least partially due to the establishment media.

While I can't get excited about Ford or join in the accolades it is nice that the old conservative manages to bite Bush and Cheney from beyond the grave.

UPDATED - The Mayaguez Incident is considered his biggest victory. All the details weren't released until 20 years later. Wonder why? He sent the US military in to rescue men captured off a US transport ship by Cambodia. We lost 41 men attacking wrong targets after the crew had already been released. This was all sadly typical.

Duncan caught the reaction to Ford's pardons at the time in Time magazine. Ford had said he would not pardon Nixon because the country wouldn't stand for it during his confirmation hearings.

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Crooks and Liars » Moonies and the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy

The Washington Times, just one Right-Wing Newspaper, has been subsidized by billionaire cult leader and new Messiah Rev. Moon by one to three billion dollars. Other right wing groups and individuals subsidize media by many hundreds of millions a year, $400 million from 80 tax deductible non-profit organizations alone.

Defense Secretary Gates AND Democrats oppose more troops

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Democrats should trashcan electability and go for the best president

Things don't look good for the GOP in 2008. In order to secure the nomination McCain has taken stands that alienate Independents. With the odds in their favor Democratic primary voters should rethink their pattern of voting. After decades of always going for the most electable candidate, many of which proved a joke come November, shouldn't Democrats just vote for the best person?

It is odd to already speculate that what may happen could be that Edwards wins Iowa in a virtual tie with Obama, Obama narrowly wins Nevada, Clinton wins New Hampshire in a virtual three-way tie, Edwards wins South Carolina and on February 5 there could be five winners in the seven primaries - none getting over 35%. Wouldn't that create excitement?

ADDED: The seven states apparently holding primaries on 5 February 2008:

New Jersey
New Mexico
North Carolina

The 2008 election will continue the battle for the soul of the Democratic Party that started in 2003. The establishment is represented by Clinton and the Clintonistas and the DLC. The Clinton backer attacks on DNC head Dean, who isn't even running, are due to his being the figurehead for the non-DC anti-establishment players who oppose the insiders as being, until this year, best at losing elections. The MSM got a steady stream of stories from the Democratic establishment recently about how the election results were the work of the establishment and not Dean and not the grassroots and definitely not the populist and progressive elements of the party. This is all part of the war for control of the Party and the White House in 2008.

Brains and Eggs: "If you strike the king, you must kill him"

Perry Dorrell, aka PDiddie, hopes that the Democrats and Republicans can overturn Craddick's corrupt regime in Austin.

What isn't clear to me is how the breakdown in the vote would go. Is this a Democratic or Republican lead attempted overthrow? Is there a clear advantage to voting for a Republican over Democratic Rep. Senfronia Thompson, aside from that she probably could not carry all Democrats and likely no GOP votes? What kind of deals are being offered for votes?

Edwards Announcement Eve?

Or will Ford's death push this back?

Senate report rejects Curt Weldon's 'Able Danger' fantasy

Capitol Hill Blue Goes on the Campaign Reform Trail

Launches Campaign for Our America, a non-partisan educational political organization that plans to serve as a platform for real campaign reform in America, operate as a watchdog for bias in media and promote education for voters.

They are not a 527 political organization. They will not spend money trying to elect or defeat any specific candidates but will use resources to spotlight fraud in government and abuse of the public trust and educate the electorate.

"I feel good" dead singer's 'wife' locked out of home

Nixon Pardoner Dies at 93

The Top 10 Myths about Iraq

Juan Cole's list. I agree with this and think you can measure someone's right wingnuttery by the number to which they agree.

1. "The US can still win."
2. "US military sweeps of neighborhoods can drive the guerrillas out."
3. The United States is best off throwing all its support behind the Iraqi Shiites.
4. "Iraq is not in a civil war."
5. "The second Lancet study showing 600,000 excess deaths from political and criminal violence since the US invasion is somehow flawed."
6. "Most deaths in Iraq are from bombings."
7. "Baghdad and environs are especially violent but the death rate is lower in the rest of the country."
8. "Iraq is the central front in the war on terror."
9. "The Sunni Arab guerrillas in places like Ramadi will follow the US home to the American mainland and commit terrorism if we leave Iraq."
10. "Setting a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq is a bad idea."

Think Progress: In 1999, Governor George W. Bush criticized then President Clinton for declining to set a withdrawal timetable for Kosovo, saying "Victory means exit strategy, and it’s important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is."

Right now Bush-Cheney's exit strategy is Vietnamization and escalation after the couple years of seeing "the light at the end of the tunnel" has been proven wrong.

Best of the Year - Boondocks had a dream

Cartoon Network's Adult Swim had an alt. history episode of Aaron McGruder's Boondocks where Martin Luther King did not die but went into a coma for 32 years.

Episode Summary - Return of the King - wikipedia

You Tube - clip "Is this what I got all those ass-whoopings for?"

The episode ends with Oprah being elected president in 2020.

Republican supported Al Sharpton, they finance and help his presidential campaigns because he boosts conservative white racist GOP turnout, hated this episode.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Small Nuclear War Would Devastate Global Climate

In an exchange in which each side uses only 50 Hiroshima-size bombs—just 0.3 percent of the world's arsenal—the initial explosions could kill more than 20 million people, the scientists calculate.

But more far-reaching would be the resulting fires, which would fill the upper atmosphere with soot—destroying the Earth's ozone layer, blocking sunlight, and reducing average global temperatures by 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.25 degrees Celsius), said co-author Alan Robock of Rutgers University in New Jersey.

The effect would persist for several years and be stronger at mid-latitudes, including the U.S. and Europe

The soot would absorb sunlight before it reached Earth's surface, reducing temperatures and causing the soot to rise dozens of miles higher.

Eventually the soot would settle into the upper layer of the atmosphere known as the stratosphere, where it would block sunlight for many years.

This would have a devastating impact on agriculture, causing a 10 percent reduction in rainfall and shrinking the growing season in some parts of the globe by as much as 30 days.

Stephen Schneider of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, said, "Nobody can use these things without the effects spilling over to the rest of the planet."

First Populated Island abandoned to global warming

The Indian island of Lohachara, former population of 10,000, has been abandoned and swallowed by the Bay of Bengal. Eight years ago the first uninhabited islands disappeared. In the next 10 years a number of other populated islands around the world will be evacuated and the people lose their homes to raising sea levels.

Choices, choices, NBC News or cat videos?

At least cat videos are not spreading falsehoods and are entertaining. Media Matters also names ABC News as misinformer of the year against stiff competition.

Troop 'escalation' plan for Iraq may be blocked by Democrats

Only about 10% of the people support this stupid plan which would require funding from Congress.

Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Christmas Terrorist!

The Century of the Self - Google Videos

BBC video documentary of how those in power have used psychology and modern marketing to control the masses. Four one-hour shows. Even better may be Adam Curtis's follow-up the politics of fear and nightmares series of 3 shows.

Dennis Lim:
It's clear from The Century of the Self and The Power of Nightmares, which charts the mirror image evolutions of radical Islamism and neo-conservatism, that Curtis is a skilled essayist and a prodigious researcher ( Century brims with amazing clips: vintage ads, early focus groups, primal therapy workshops, hidden-camera footage of WW II vets in analysis). But more than that, he's a historian of ideas who can bring them to life, not least because he recognizes how they mutate, cross-pollinate, and are susceptible to distortion. He's a gifted storyteller and an unabashed polemicist, guided by a crusading mistrust of the rich and powerful. His bold, broad-stroke arguments occasionally iron out nuance and sacrifice detail for the sake of elegant symmetry and paradox, but Curtis's telescopic vantage ensures that the view is worth it.

Making Light: The top ten underreported news stories of 2006

I already had a link to the original but this has intelligent discussion and comments.

How our Polticians and Pundits Don't Read Middle East History

Mary links to Fisk talking about the history of the last 100 years of the region and even what Churchill forsaw about a Jewish state there.

Eleanor Clift | Bush's Worst Lies of 2006

10 myths -- and 10 truths -- about atheism

A nice article about misconceptions of atheists especially prevalent in the current United States.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Tell Tom Craddick To Go - Common Cause

Texas can sure do a lot better than Tom Craddick as Speaker of the House. He is not very effective, which is good considering his beliefs about the role of government, and what he does get done he gets done by the pressure he puts on house members. Democrats, while I don't see how they can elect one of their own, can now team up up with enough unhappy GOP representatives to but a more moderate, bipartisan and effective Speaker of the Texas House in. Brian McCall looks like he may have enough GOP votes if he can get most of the Democrats. That would be a good thing for Texas and the Democrats who, except for a very few DINOs, have been locked out of having any say in Craddick's DeLay style of government. Common Cause wants Craddick to step down for his possible influence peddling but I am sure there will have to be a nasty battle to replace him.
McCall has a reputation of getting along with different factions. If elected, he is expected to bring a more even-handed approach to the role, allowing members to vote the interests of their districts, rather than succumb to the dictates of the speaker.
Kuffner has a long informative post. Janette Sexton would have voted him down if she had defeated Talton but may have voted for having Senfronia Thompson as Speaker despite the unlikelihood of that happening. You can call your state rep. and ask they vote a better Speaker in. More here and here and here. An earlier post by Burka shows Talton is taking some of the action.


Inteligenta persono lernas la lingvon Esperanto rapide kaj facile. Esperanto estas la moderna, kultura lingvo por la tuta mondo. Simpla, fleksebla, belsona, ?i estas la praktika solvo de la problemo de universala interkompreno. Esperanto meritas vian seriozan konsideron. Lernu la internacian lingvon Esperanto.

Check your translation:

An intelligent person learns the language Esperanto rapidly and easily. Esperanto is the modern, cultural language for the whole world. Simple, flexible, musical, it is the practical solution for the problem of universal mutual understanding. Esperanto deserves your serious consideration. Learn the international language Esperanto.

Happy Birthday of the Sun

Before Christianity became the required police-state religion it had already merged with the non-Christian beliefs of Rome. Constantine saw no difference between Christianity, Sol Invictus and Mithras. The leaders of the Church consented to be part of the Empire, rulers instead of a hunted underground, and further merged beliefs and practices already common in the empire. Christmas has no connection with the birthday of Christ.

As a side note, I see historians are again making the case for the Dark Ages, a term and belief which had fallen out of favor. Unsurprisingly, it was conservatives and/or Catholic historians who seemed to lead in claims that the Dark Ages and the Enlightenment were erroneous terms without factual basis as part of a humanist ideological campaign to foster one cultural ideal over another and paint the Middle Ages in a negative pejorative light.

Britons: Religion does more harm than good

The secular UK public is down on religion. Most British are not religious and are dismayed at those who are.
Most people have no personal faith, the poll shows, with only 33% of those questioned describing themselves as "a religious person". A clear majority, 63%, say that they are not religious - including more than half of those who describe themselves as Christian.

The poll also reveals that non-believers outnumber believers in Britain by almost two to one. It paints a picture of a sceptical nation with massive doubts about the effect religion has on society: 82% of those questioned say they see religion as a cause of division and tension between people. Only 16% disagree.
While our politicians often refer to the United States as a Christian nation, only 17% consider Great Britain to be a Christian nation. Of course, any nation that thinks The Life of Brian is a more religious movie than The Passion of The Christ must be doing something right.
At a time when secularism is being blamed for the erosion of Christian values, cinemagoers should perhaps ask themselves whether the true spirit of Christmas can indeed be found in such flawed fare as The Nativity Story. Or whether, as has so often been the case, we should look outside of the evangelical canon for films which best embody the values of peace on earth and goodwill to all men.
Most Christian know little about their religion, how many know that a more comprehensive story of Mary is told in the Koran?

It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. - Thomas Jefferson

The Golden Rule in religions. We all know the Golden Rule in politics and business - He who has the Gold makes the rules. Not all believe in the Golden Rule - "this form of reciprocal ethics only can support the status quo, it does not create any better moral system than what already exists."

Is the UK more Hellish than the US with its fewer born-agains? I would say the opposite. This is much like surveys that show belief in Hell is much stronger among those in prison than those outside. I can't find an online source of this now. It was from an article debunking some conservative Christian beliefs in the necessity of Hell to compel people to be good. All that is needed to debunk that is that less than 1% of Americans believe they will go to Hell. It is possible a belief in Hell and damnation lead to more hateful behaviors.

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I can't be stopped, my contract runs another 2 years

Deborah Howell, the somewhat dense or somewhat biased Washington Post ombudsman, gloats that she has two years left on her contract no matter what readers and bloggers say. She also reveals that she thinks the Post should put in less news, people don't like to read those long articles. So not much of a problem with the layoffs.

She has never apologized for insinuating that Democrats were illegally on the take from Jack Abramoff as well as Republicans. She has never grasped that stating as fact things her newspaper reports as untrue are problems she should try to correct in herself and in the rest of the paper.

Over at Firedoglake, Christy wishes:
You know, I can't speak for every liberal in the blogosphere, but what I would honestly like is simply for reporters to be able to do their jobs properly: report the honest facts, not some "he said, she said" version of them that skews things toward a false sense of "balance" because the management is afraid of ticking someone off by being truthful. That reporters are allowed to dig into the difficult stories and really follow-up, rather than being asked to move on to the next "popular" story that might sell more papers or advertising time on the TV.
Daily Kos also dislikes her column.

Texas Narc Cop selling video - how not to get busted

Barry Cooper, who has come to realize that the war on drugs is a dismal failure, releases a video on what to do when the police come a knocking. Other DEA and police agents are furious. "Never Get Busted Again" has generated reaction from around the globe on its planned released December 26th. Learning how to hide, stash, and fool drug officers is probably a good investment if you go into that risky line of work.

The Tyler newspaper broke the story. The DEA is looking to see if they can stop the DVDs according to an update on Grits for Breakfast.

My other favorite Texas breakfast food blog posts an imagined conversation between sellers of "opiate for the masses" who make a very good living with their videos.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Are Bush & Cheney Planning Early Attack on Iran?

With finally getting UN sanctions and open acknowledgement of their increasing deployment of military forces facing Iran, Bush-Cheney war plans continue.

Iran has denounced UN sanctions imposed on its nuclear programme, and has accused the Security Council of double standards for ignoring Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's recent admission of its nuclear capabilities. Ehud Olmert had said Iran must be stopped as it is within months of developing nuclear weapons capability last May. Iran is actually closer to 10 years away from being able to make a nuclear weapon. "We will not tolerate the possession of nuclear weapons by Iran," Olmert told NBC television's "Today Show" program. Iran accused the U.N. Security Council on Saturday of pursuing a double standard in imposing sanctions on what it said was Tehran's peaceful nuclear program while ignoring Israel's 200 bomb strong nuclear arsenal.

Experts agree: No good military options for Iran.

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Miss USA Gone Wild photos

Drinking and nudity and sexual hijinks with Miss Teen USA - who lost her job as MADD spokesperson.

Link from People's Republic of Seabrook.

Jon Stewart and neocons and libertarianism and Festivus


'90 Minutes in Heaven'

A local fundamentalist Baptist pastor from Pasadena has written a New York Times best-seller. I have some problems with it.

Twenty years ago Don Piper was in a horrible car accident. He says he died and spent 90 minutes in Heaven. Two years after his heavenly visit he finally told his wife. Almost twenty years later he gets a ghost writer and tells the story of his recovery and a very brief account of his 90 minutes in Heaven.

What is Heaven like? From his background what you would expect - Pearly gates, streets paved with gold, heavenly music, the feeling of love. God as an interior fashion designer with an unlimited budget and no imagination.

Every few years another book like this is published. This one doesn't appear well-written and tells little about his heavenly experience. He is making a good deal of money lecturing and selling this and related books. This also helps him in his chosen work - bringing people to Baptist beliefs. (I discovered there is a Mayor Manlove connection. His son works for Manlove's printing company.) A brief promotional video is available that doesn't show Heaven but does have a few views of his wrecked car.
Thus far in 2007, Don Piper is already scheduled to speak in 23 states and four foreign countries. His message of answered prayer, miracles, new beginnings, and the reality of Heaven, has led him to be known as, "The Minister of Hope."
This book I suppose is slightly better than 23 Minutes in Hell where the author has a vision(?), out of body experience(?), that exactly parallels all these verses he lays out from the Bible that he follows about his visit and rescue by Jesus. Then he also goes on the Christian lecture circuit. Videos are available of this lecture.

The best visit to Heaven story is Mark Twain's Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven. I'll introduce you to it after he has gone through the pearly gates.

All of these books should be classified as fiction, in whole or in part. At least Mark Twain's is satire. Even Christianity Today has problems with these two examples of Travel Writing from the Afterlife.

Things that might get you fired at work

Two University of Texas at Arlington employees have filed a lawsuit protesting their dismissal on grounds of religious discrimination. The immediate cause of the two women's dismissal is their going into another women's cubical after work and praying over it and anointing the cubical with olive oil. They also claim age discrimination as a younger male colleague who joined their activities was not dismissed. Other unspecified incidents are cited and it is not known what reasons they gave for blessing and anointing the women's cubicle with olive oil.
CBN News spoke with the university's Director of Public Affairs, Robert Wright.

Wright issued this statement: "The university respects all our employees' rights, and we do not discriminate on the basis of religion."

While Wright said he could not discuss details of the case, he added, "We do not fire employees for just praying."

In another statement, the University of Texas at Arlington calls the women's accusations "a gross distortion of the truth" and says their dismissals were upheld by the Texas Workforce Commission and the Texas Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Comments here. This is somewhat similar to a hearing room of Congress and selected seats being prayed over and anointed with oil by some fundies earlier this year.

Ohio undervotes on Diebold machines similar to Florida house race

An examination of Ohio voting records shows that six counties had an undervote in the recent Senate race of over 11% up to 16.3%. All other counties had undervotes in that race of 0.62% to 6.76% with an average of 3.37%. All the counties with the large undervotes used Diebold machines. Other Diebold counties had an undervote of 3.47% in the Senate race.
Why did this occur? It seems highly likely that there was something wrong with the Diebold machines, at least a good portion of them in six Ohio counties, which caused the relatively high undervote rates. That could have been due to difficulties voters had in finding the Senate candidates on those Diebold machines, or it could have been due to failure of the machines to record the votes that the voters intended. Alternatively, it could have been due to the fact that 11 to 16% of voters in six Ohio counties decided not to vote for Senator – but that seems quite unlikely.

Venezuela starts to construct single ruling party

It is difficult to get real news about Venezuela in the US media that does not display bias against Chavez. Venezuela is really ruled by a bunch of left parties - 24. This article states the leading Chavez party hopes to combine with others to make a larger party. This article implies that is the beginning of one party rule like Cuba. Maybe, maybe not. More troubling is Chavez wanting to eliminate term limits for himself. A major appeal of Chavez is that he is democratically elected. To the extent he moves away from democracy he will lose left support in the United States. The right and business class in the United States, if they pay attention to Chavez, ranks him with Castro already.


I finally saw Syriana. The plot is overly complex for the amount of time and demands close attention or reviewings. It is about family and oil and the Middle East.

Things that are helpful to keep in mind: the Emir of Syriana has to pick which son will succeed him. The older son helped the Chinese get the oil contract from the American company and also wants to liberalize the country, reduce dependence on oil, and loosen the closeness with America. No one in the movie understands all that is going on. Bob feels he has been played too much, too long, to his detriment.

If you want to know the plot including the spoilers see here.

Season's greetings from the nation's governors

I like the Afghan girl card but a Tennesee pastor doesn't.

Federal Subsidies are eliminating small farms

Billions in subsidies are increasingly going to giant profitable farms as small farms struggle. One of the biggest scams of the federal government is the subsidies paid to farmers which under Reagan were scheduled to be phased out.

Honest Talk About Farm Policy -
Stop Calling Them "Farm Subsidies"; It's Corporate Welfare!

Harold Meyerson - Virginia Episcopalians Against Equality

Rather than tolerate gays and a women leader some Virginia Episcopalians secede and choose a leader who wants gay sex to be illegal and all gay organizations outlawed.
The founders of the church believed, within the context of their time, that all men were created equal. Today's defectors have thought it over in the context of our own time, and decided that they're not.

The shrinking GOP Latinos

Our Punk President Hasn't Changed a Bit

A Bush university professor has strong recollections of Bush that don't show up in the SCLM - a lazy habitual liar with radical conservative prejudices. This writer, I picked up the link from BuzzFlash, calls Bush a college punk who is still a punk.

Former Republican political operative and corporate lobbyist Doug Thompson has another opinion of Bush - f*cking nuts.


Voting Machine Vendor - Democrat should have won Florida election except for flaws

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The problem with the Cook PVI

This is for the map and election geeks out there. Many times an organization will latch on to the Cook Partisan Voting Index or use another that uses the presidential vote to measure partisan leanings. This overstates the Democratic disadvantage in rural areas. What is needed, and what I do, is take minor races that people are not getting much information on to determine the partisan leanings of precincts or political districts. As shown in this look at Ohio and Indiana, this paints a very different picture. You can then compare actual performance of a local candidate with base performance. A good candidate with strong organization can beat a correctly computed PVI by 10 points or more.

McCain Hires Sockpuppet-in-chief

MyDD catches one of McCain's new hires as an experienced sock puppet. McCain has been going around snatching up all the dirtiest political operatives. This new one pretended to be a Democrat in comments on blogs while working as press secretary to the Republican opponent of the the Democrat she bad-mouthed. As typical, she had a number of lies when caught.

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Jefferson Davis Would Be Horrified By George Bush

Bush has magnified all the worst vices of the GOP.

link from Jim.

Capitol Annex - The Winners in the last Texas election of the year

Round up of Texas politics both online and off this year.

Hullabaloo on the miltary contractor debacle

Richardson to join Presidential race in January

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Amarillo almost blew up last year

In March 2005, a nuclear warhead almost exploded in Texas. The near miss accident occurred in Amarillo, when workers at the Pantex nuclear weapons plant bungled the dismantling of a W-56 warhead, a weapon 100 times stronger than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima during World War II.

Details of the averted catastrophe have been kept under wraps until last month, when the Department of Energy (DOE) fined the company that operates the plant, BWX Technologies, $110,000 for safety violations.

In a letter obtained by the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), technicians at the plant blamed the accident on severe working conditions, including mandatory 72 to 84 hour work weeks. One nuclear scientist told POGO that he "would not work on his car engine if he were fatigued from a 72-hour work week, and sure as hell would not work on a nuclear weapon."

Besides hellish hours, workers described the "degrading" physical state of the plant in the letter to the BWX board. "Look around the plant. You will find leaking roofs, crumbling buildings, waist-high weed-infested landscapes, barricades and safety tape that makes this once-proud plant look like a crime scene."
Just what you want, tired overworked workers working on nuclear weapons. Pantex is America's only nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly facility. Located on the Texas Panhandle, 17 miles northeast of Amarillo, Pantex is just north of U. S. Highway 60 in Carson County. Weapons disassembly takes place within the large crooked square complex on this map.

I see Blue Bayou was already on the case.

What The DiNovo Campaign HQ looks like today

Half Empty and Burnt Orange are covering this election.

UPDATE - DiNovo came in third - Pat worked for the campaign at one precinct. She was supposed to be hired as a poll watcher before they realized she was out of the district.

Democrats should let the GOP expose itself into political oblivion

Most people -- including a lot of rank-and file Republicans, I think -- simply don't realize just how radical the modern, Texified GOP is. But with majority control Democrats now have the institutional power to expose this at every turn, and Republicans have far less ability to hide it. If they're smart, Dems will use this newfound power at every opportunity.
I hadn't seen "Texified" used in this pejorative way against the Republicans before. Should it be Texasfied or Texafied or Tejasified?

Woman beaten on Jerusalem bus by Orthodox Jews for refusing to move to rear seat

Is this the Israeli Rosa Parks?

The PLAN from the neocon with the President's ear

The AEI, neocon, plan for massive military spending to save Iraq.

Originally, I just thought the PNAC and the neocons were imperialists. Gung Ho for an American Empire. I am coming around to thinking they are for any plan, any actions, that sends massive amounts of government dollars to contractors.

This is the plan presented to Bush that the White House is trying to force the Pentagon to use. The Kagan AEI, neocon plan reinforces our Iraq failure, not learning from the Art of War: "Reinforce success, starve failure". What can you expect from the same reality deniers who say we won in Vietnam and it was later Congress who gave the country to the commies.

History: the origin of creeping Dowdism 1992

The Blasphemy Challenge

Do you have a soul you are not using? The God Who Wasn't There website Rational Response Squad is giving free DVDs to people who upload a video of themselves giving away their soul.

You may damn yourself to Hell however you would like, but somewhere in your video you must say this phrase: "I deny the Holy Spirit." Post it to YouTube and get your DVD. I deny the Holy Spook, arrrgh.

Why? Because, according to Mark 3:29 in the Holy Bible, "Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin." Jesus will forgive you for just about anything, but he won't forgive you for denying the existence of the Holy Spirit.

Viral messaging in action.

Dennis Kucinich - how I was forced out of office by the banks and corporations

Cleveland's youngest mayor explains why he allowed the city to default rather than agree to privatizing the public power plant.

Interesting read as the Democratic party is still dividing between pro and anti privatizers. Gregg, in the pro camp, the other day was complaining he might have to attend another convention with all those Kucinich whackjobs. I like the whackjobs, I used to be neutral on privatization but now regard it as almost unmitigated evil, bad for people, bad for government, bad for politics.

From Dennis Kucinich's Prayer For America speech.
America, America. Let us pray for our country. Let us love our country. Let us defend our country not only from the threats without but from the threats within. Crown thy good, America. Crown thy good with brotherhood, and sisterhood. And crown thy good with compassion and restraint and forbearance and a commitment to peace, to democracy, to economic justice here at home and throughout the world. Crown thy good, America. Crown thy good.

Voices from Queer Lands

Morford! America Loses Another War Iraq: a shameful ass-whupping, or just a pathetic trouncing? Ugly disgrace? Choices, choices. Why is gay marriage evil?

As another Evangelical preacher resigns conservative church group admits hundreds of pastors have a problem with their homosexuality.
Rev. H.B. London heads up the pastoral ministry of Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family. He says his staff gets hundreds of phone calls from pastors struggling with the kind of sins that caused the downfall of Haggard and Barnes.

2008 Begins Now

MyDD jumps to an early start with the 50 GOP Congressional seats that Democrats should go after.

A DailyKos dairy had the closest House races in 2006.

UPDATE: The ACLU is also starting to raise money for ads in 25 districts.

Texas now paying millions to contractors who don't get the bid

The 2003 Texas transportation bill had an odd provision that has contractors grinning all the way to the bank. If they make a bid on a state transportation contract and they don't win the bid they will be paid just for bidding.

This is all part of the biggest boondoogle in Texas history - the billions of dollars going to mostly foreign firms to build massive toll road projects.

Why is this happening, who approved it?

The lobbyists who write the bills and fund the candidates found very willing partners in the GOP leadership. Voters approved many of these measures in the unclear language of consititutional amendments that Gov. Perry pushed. Who benefits - the corporate friends of the politicians and the politicians.
Some toll roads, as well as the super-corridors, will overlay portions of existing highways or rural farm-to-market roads. Since they’ve already been paid for through the taxes at the pump, critics maintain that Texans are paying twice for the roads, a concern that was echoed by legislative analysts. “Toll roads represent double taxation,” they wrote. “Motorists already pay for highways at the gasoline pump, vehicle registration counter, and at auto supply retailers. They should not have to pay for highways again when they exercise their right to travel on them.”

Far less attention has been paid to other ways the public is underwriting the privately operated toll roads: the large, multinational companies and global investment firms are often using taxpayer-supported bonds, loans, and grants from sources such as Texas’ State Infrastructure Bank, the Federal Highway Administration, and the Federal Department of Transportation. These private firms will be able to deduct millions from their income taxes for interest payments on the huge debts and won’t be paying property taxes because the state will still own the roads. (With large swaths of property removed from the tax rolls, property owners may find themselves making up the difference.) The state will also be helping to subsidize the profits these firms earn by performing a lot of the advance environmental work and providing emergency services and law enforcement personnel once the roads are up and running.

Among the greatest ironies is that the super-highways won’t really do much to reduce congestion, a fact that Chairman Williamson confirmed during a recent commission meeting while trying to allay the fears of businessmen and communities who worry they’ll become ghost towns once the new roads go through. In a question-and-answer session with Amadeo Saenz, TXDOT’s assistant director of engineering operations, he asked, “Is it also my understanding that we have a congestion relief study ongoing to determine what percentage of traffic moves off of Interstate 35 and onto the parallel?”

“Yes sir,” responded Saenz.

“Is it safe to say that no less than 2.5 percent and no more than 10 percent of the traffic is going to fall somewhere in that range?” asked Williamson

“Yes, sir.”

“So for those who live in, for example, Hillsboro who believe that Interstate 35 is their economic lifeblood and the parallel might have the same impact on their city as Route 66 had on some cities in Oklahoma, we can represent to them that it appears, least-case your traffic shrinks 2.5 percent, worst case it shrinks 10 percent, and in no circumstance should that be enough to markedly impact your local economy?”

“That’s correct,” Saenz responded.
Very good Texas Observor article, read it all.

Foreign Policy: The Top Ten Stories You Missed in 2006

Tamiflu vacine proves worse than bird flu, countries abandoning the dollar is bad news for the economy, US aid going to the Taliban for arms, and India helps Iran with its bomb while Bush guts the non-proliferation treaty for it are some of the stories.

These are more substantive than Project Censored lists. The number one on Project Censored, “net neutrality,” has had some coverage in the media contrary to their belief.


Only 12% support the Bush-McCain plan of more troops to Iraq

Among the people opposed - all the Joint Chiefs at the pentagon.

Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion videos

Google video has a number of documentaries and interviews with scientist Richard Dawkins about religion being the cause of a great deal of evil and the myth of God.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Texas Democratic Party to get reading material from the grassroots

On January 8, members of the TexasKAOS staff are going to hand deliver a copy of Crashing the Gate to every TDP officer and SDEC member.
Crashing the gates and burning some bridges is what the TDP needs to be doing now. Who in party leadership is still supporting their old friends who years ago switched to the GOP? Who is not interested in building up the local party? I will have a report soon on a difference between a local GOP get together and our Democratic parties. It ain't pretty, for the GOP, and illustrates why I am not a Republican.

Bush’s New Strategy: Copy The ‘Success’ of Vietnam

Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas! Can we have a bombing lull in Iraq? I mean, as long as we are going back to our famous "victory" thirty years ago. Why come this time we get to torture the prisoners, too?

Newsweek ignores own poll showing Hillary beating McCain

They ignore their poll despite, or maybe because of, their cover story on Clinton and Obama. Their story has a narrative of "are Americans ready to elect a woman or a black as President." I guess they didn't want their poll showing in Hillary's case the answer appeared to be yes - Hillary Clinton 50% -- 43% McCain.

FBI informant in Iraq detained without charges for 97 days

Good thing he was an American or he might still be there. He was investigating possible illegal arms sales to the Shiite militia controlled Iraq Interior Ministry. You know, the one the wingnut bloggers believe instead of the AP.

New Jersey case of history teacher teaching Hell and damnation back in the news

Missing in this article is the teacher, who is also a preacher, lying about what he said and did until confronted with the tapes. We do get that he told his class: Noah had dinosaurs on his Ark, the Big Bang is a dud of a theory, evolution is garbage, only Christians may enter in heaven and that this Muslim girl everybody in class knows is going to Hell.

Of course, the agnostic student who taped this is really going to Hell. The student has asked for an apology. The school district has provided a lawyer - for the teacher. The student has received death threats. The school district has praised the teacher's record.

Letters from former students - the one who wants to be a teacher has a distorted view of American history because of this teacher.

This Time, Judith Regan Did It

Disputed AP Sunnis burned alive source possibly located

A blogger named Marc Danziger who has followed the debate claimed late Saturday that he believes he has positively identified the captain at the Yarmouk police station, just as the AP had claimed, although (if this checks out) his first name may be spelled Jamail, not Jamil.

Though far from definitive proof, it was strong enough to cause at least one conservative blogger to wonder if those who had mocked the AP might have to eat “a huge shinola sandwich.”
The main source of the right-wing freaking hysteria over the "lying" AP is trying to make a case out of Jamail vs. Jamil not knowing that Iraqi names get translated from Arabic.

Michelle Malkin's Hot Air blog asks - does anyone have any recipes for crow?

Vacation Days Off - Who Is Our Economy FOR, Anyway?

Americans get the fewest vacation days of any major industrialized society. Why?

War on Terror, the Board Game

Confirming that all of my separate interests and separate blogs may need to come back together - War on Terror - The Board Game has appeared in England to fun, success and big controversy. This satirical but truthiness game contains a few elements homages to Sid Meier's Civilization the Board Game and the newer Risk's, like 2210 as well as the Catan games. It looks very easy to convert my SM's-CTBG to this. I mentioned my plans to convert this to a real war game several days ago and plan to convert it to another game this coming year.

Check out all the WoT game site and blog - fun times. This is jokes and satire and beer and games when nothing else seems appropriate like the Nuclear War card game from 1965. As a play test showed at Board Game Geek - educational and a good game too.

Link from Boing Boing.

UPDATE: Some people say this is in poor taste, you're right - this war is in very bad taste. The story made the Buzz Feed.

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Colin Powell takes on St. McCain’s “troop surge”–”The army is broken.”

We are going to scrape together a 15% increase before we bow out. We get the troops by making what we have stay in Iraq longer. If they really start screwing with the Army to make the numbers my nephew who has already been three times to Iraq will be pulled out of his instructor position and send again. His wife and kids and he won't like that.

As excellent plan on how to win in Iraq, too late. But Bush has his own plan - its the same one we used to win in Vietnam according to the neo-cons.

Iraq is a terrible disaster now, isn't it?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

TIME: Person of the Year: You

Merry Christmas, go out and celebrate you world-shaker.
Who are these people? Seriously, who actually sits down after a long day at work and says, I'm not going to watch Lost tonight. I'm going to turn on my computer and make a movie starring my pet iguana? I'm going to mash up 50 Cent's vocals with Queen's instrumentals? I'm going to blog about my state of mind or the state of the nation or the steak-frites at the new bistro down the street? Who has that time and that energy and that passion?

The answer is, you do. And for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME's Person of the Year for 2006 is you.
And me, and all the bloggers and posters and creative people out here reading this.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


I am not sure we should wiretap the unAmerican Republicans trying to subvert our country either.

Susan's place gets a makeover

I would say it was a face-lift but she'd kick me.

White House Forbids Criticism, Again

From Tennessee Guerilla Women and Think Progress comes word that the White House has prevented publication of a NYT Op-Ed by a former White House official criticizing the administration for not talking to Iran.

What makes The New York Times and the White House think they can do that? Also, doesn't anyone in the White House know that this just makes it an even bigger story? Makes me realize The White House Mess was not a satire but reality on the dysfunctional mess that often develops when idiots get elected to that office.

Bayh Out, Edwards In, Thompson In

It's Official: Long-shot moderate candidate U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind. has decided not to run for President. Everyone is now wondering what he will do with his over $10 million war chest.

Officials say Democrat Edwards to enter 2008 presidential race - I have picked him as the best candidate.
Edwards, who represented North Carolina in the Senate for six years, plans to make the campaign announcement late this month from the New Orleans neighborhood hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina last year and slow to recover from the storm.
If you went based on sales of name gear - Al Gore and Obama are leading the Democratic pack.

On the GOP side, former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson is in. Other possible Republican candidates include Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia to join the all-but-official Sen. McCain and former New York Mayor Giuliani front-runners.

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"Rats" Gold to guest host on KPRC 950 in Houston, Dec 21 & 26

In a budget related move by troubled Clear Channel, KTRH 740 is set to compete with 700 KSEV for daytime fascism central for Houston for Christmas. Rush Limbaugh is moving permanently into 740 and sister station KPRC 950 is being sold and possibly going Latino.

This might be an improvement for Houston - KTRH has been declining as a respectable news source for some time and having them just join the Evil Empire's conservative airwave army in exchange for the Empire losing KPRC might be a fair trade. Just not as fair a trade as if the real nuts at AM 700 were the lone Imperial Outpost and AM 740 went to straight news or even picked up the advancing Rebel Force liberal cause of Ed Schultz live and added Thom Hartmann and Randi Rhodes and maybe others.

Sister station KPRC will be getting a shock jock compared to Savage guest hosting this holiday season.
"David Gold", a talk show fascist who has been fired from just about everywhere will be "guest hosting" on The Party's Ministry of Propaganda Official AM outlet, KPRC in Houston. This is the guy who loves to refer to the Democrats as "the rats" the same way Goebbels referred to the Jews in Nazi Germany in his radio broadcasts.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Novelist Crichton puts critic in his novel as a child rapist

Michael Crichton's last book was fiction but was extremely critical of global climate change and scientists working in that field. He had numerous critics of the bad science he used especially as his views was warmly praised and adopted by conservatives. One of his most prominent critics is placed in his new novel as a child rapist with a small penis.

Shorter Jonah Goldberg: Pinochet teaches us that torture is good for the economy.

Or at least the security and pocketbooks of the elites.

Those ever reliable conservative columnists

Interesting Poll Numbers

The best news is at the end - Edwards in 2008.
Only 23 percent approve of Bush's handling of Iraq — his lowest mark on this question and an 11-point drop since the last NBC/Journal poll in late October.

McCain leads Clinton by four points (47 to 43 percent) and Obama by five points (43 percent to 38 percent). But — in an interesting twist — the Arizona senator trails Edwards by two points (43 percent to 41 percent).

Things you didn't see reported about Princess Di's death

The US NSA was monitoring her conversations. This has now been officially dismissed as a wild rumor.

The driver of the car, Henri Paul, was getting paid by both the French Intelligence service and the UK secret service. Although he had a recent medical test showing no signs of alcoholism, he was over three times the legal limit and had other drugs in his system at the time of the accident.

Her car was possibly hit, very disputed, by one of the photographer's cars chasing them before it crashed. That car was repainted several days later. That photographer had worked for UK intel services. His body was found several years later in a burned out car.

The tunnel where she crashed had many security cameras. It is claimed they were either not working or pointed in the wrong directions at the time.

My current thinking - there is no evidence this was a planned murder but there was a cover-up because intelligence services don't like to reveal who works for them or what they do. The British royal family would not have liked the popular former princess marrying a Muslim Arab but there is no evidence extreme measures would be taken to prevent this.

Democrats need to understand the game

People don't know the issues - they know the feel of the candidates

Should Bush get another $100 B for Iraq early next year?

Yes or no people, your Congressperson might like to know your opinion.

Bush may start finding out what division of power means and who controls the purse strings.

All In or All Out?

This may not be the best post. I have a lot the say and I am going to wrap a metaphor and bad song around it.

The Bush administration seems to have been privately pushing an 80% solution in Iraq. Throw US support to the religious Shiites and just forget the Sunnis.

The other popular consideration is the "double down" plan of building up the military and concentrating them in the short run to beat back the insurgency. This is badly named as there are barely enough available troops to increase them 15% for a few months with a big effort.

It looks like both plans will be pursued. A better name for both of these two plans comes from a different game than Blackjack. It is "All In" from Texas Hold'em.

The increase troop strength to maximum for a few months in hope that they break before we will is only a bad idea unlikely to work. When we increased troop strength in Baghdad resistance got stronger, not weaker. When we killed more we created angrier relatives and friends more willing to die.

The 80% solution is an insane idea that can only have come from neo-conservatives. Turns out, they had suggested it as part of their grand hubris scheme "spreading democracy except for women, gays and secularists" plan. According to TPM, some neocons believe the Shiites in Iraq would decide the Great Satan America's democracy was better than the theocracy they had in Iran and help start a revolution there.

There is a crazy symmetry to that dream - Fundamentalists in the United States and the Arab World Unite! But the fundies in the U.S. have just lost big, even if large numbers of them haven't accepted that. And the two groups hate each other. This is also why this 80% solution is such a desperate gamble in Iraq as well. The leaders of the Shiites are the religious fundamentalists that hate us. Why would the US favoring them in a game we are losing change that?

One other reason this is such an insane idea is that Saudi Arabia is dead set against it. This explains the Saudi royalty summoning Cheney, their US ambassador's resignation, and statements they will arm and support the Sunnis in Iraq against attack. When the Saudis determine that this is the plan Bush is proposing expect no special favors on oil prices and the Sunni resistance to get much better weapons.

Considering this option means that you have no other alternatives left than to go with the last remaining idea that someone had suggested to salvage this. All the other ideas hadn't worked, let's throw this insane idea out and see if this changes things. When the Sunnis see we are prepared to do this maybe they will back down and it might give the Iranian Shiites pause.

Facing reality - Iraq looks like a civil war stage one right now. Do we want our troops patrolling a failed state in stage two with many strong neighbors all arming different factions that may explode into an even larger conflict? We also shouldn't forget the Turkish threats against the Kurds if they gain too much control either. Add Israel and Syria and Iran with active intelligence and smuggling operations and vital interests at stake.

Why the new strategy? The Gambler.

In many ways, the neocons and the Bush administration seem like incompetent foolish gamblers playing at Middle Eastern policy. In Texas Hold-Em when things go bad there is the temptation of going "all in" and hoping the other players back down and so steal the pot. Both the 80% solution and the badly misnamed "double down" military strategy are different versions of "all in." You are putting all your resources into what looks like a long shot because you will lose what you have put in the pot already otherwise and the other players may back down allowing you to steal it.

Unfortunately for Bush, that strategy depends on your opponents not knowing how bad your hand is. Everyone in the world except a few die hard Republicans knows Bush hardly has a pot to piss in now.

The Iraq Study Group plan, as bad as it is, is at least a continuation of past US policies, pursued by Baker among others, of favoring Saudi interests and control of oil. This is the favorite conservative Washington consensus that has been wrong before but at least it is not a radical plan and it doesn't embarrass anyone too badly. The new policies being considered seem more desperate risky hallucinations.

Elements of the strategy even appear to be in conflict. The military plan is to use the more troops to go after the more radical of the Shiite leaders. Yet the long term 80% plan calls for the surviving Shiite leaders to ignore that and accept that we support them and are better than Iran.

You've got to know when to hold'em, know when to fold'em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.

Right now it is fold'em and walk away time. If we don't acknowledge that relatively soon - we will later have to see a run strategy of evacuating thousands of people under fire.

UPDATE: I found others thinking of the same song recently.

And the night got deathly quiet
And his faced lost all expression
He said, "If you're gonna play the game, boy
You gotta learn to play it right

You've got to know when to hold 'em
Know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away
Know when to run
You never count your money
When you're sittin' at the table
There'll be time enough for countin'
When the dealin's done

Every gambler knows
That the secret to survivin'
Is knowin' what to throw away
And knowin' what to keep
'Cause every hand's a winner
And every hand's a loser
And the best that you can hope for
Is to die in your sleep"

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Rolling Stone: Paul Krugman on the Great Wealth Transfer

There should be one clear thread in domestic politics - there is the party for the few wealthy or the party for the majority workers. Supporting the workers does not mean turning off the economic engine that generates the jobs. Most jobs come from new business while most wealth is from old cash-cow businesses.
The reason most Americans think the economy is fair to poor is simple: For most Americans, it really is fair to poor. Wages have failed to keep up with rising prices. Even in 2005, a year in which the economy grew quite fast, the income of most non-elderly families lagged behind inflation. The number of Americans in poverty has risen even in the face of an official economic recovery, as has the number of Americans without health insurance. Most Americans are little, if any, better off than they were last year and definitely worse off than they were in 2000.

But how is this possible? The economic pie is getting bigger -- how can it be true that most Americans are getting smaller slices? The answer, of course, is that a few people are getting much, much bigger slices. Although wages have stagnated since Bush took office, corporate profits have doubled. The gap between the nation's CEOs and average workers is now ten times greater than it was a generation ago. And while Bush's tax cuts shaved only a few hundred dollars off the tax bills of most Americans, they saved the richest one percent more than $44,000 on average. In fact, once all of Bush's tax cuts take effect, it is estimated that those with incomes of more than $200,000 a year -- the richest five percent of the population -- will pocket almost half of the money. Those who make less than $75,000 a year -- eighty percent of America -- will receive barely a quarter of the cuts. In the Bush era, economic inequality is on the rise.

Ciro wins - two elections left

House Democrats Extend '06 Gains to 30 Seats

House Democrats increased their 2006 election gains to 30 seats Tuesday, with former Rep. Ciro Rodriguez 's (D) surprisingly convincing victory over Rep. Henry Bonilla (R) in a runoff election in Texas's massive 23rd District.

"It is never easy to defeat a sitting Republican incumbent with a financial edge in a special election, but tonight, Ciro Rodriguez's victory proves that voters want more than Henry Bonilla's rubber stamp support for failed Republican policies," said Texas Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie .

Rodriguez's win comes just five weeks after Bonilla received 49 percent of the vote in a special primary on Nov. 7. Rodriguez won just 20 percent that day, while a handful of other Democrats split up the remaining votes.

The apparent key to Rodriguez's come-from-behind victory was a heavy focus by national Democrats on identifying and turning out Latino voters -- especially in Bexar County. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent $100,000 on ads on Hispanic radio in the district and paid for thousands of get-out-the-vote calls. All told, the DCCC spent more than $900,000 on this race -- more than two-thirds of which went into television advertising that sought to undermine Bonilla's seeming strengths on military issues. The DCCC also gained considerable traction with spots that attacked the incumbent for supporting multiple congressional pay raises.

In contrast to the heavy spending by the DCCC, the National Republican Congressional Committee chose not to spend a dime on this race -- under the belief that Bonilla's massive financial edge (he outspent Rodriguez at a better than four-to-one clip) would be more than enough to hold the seat. It's hard not to wonder if the chaos caused within the Republican Party following its losses on Nov. 7 led to a lack of focus on the Texas runoff.

Rodriguez's victory is doubly sweet for national Democrats, since they not only pick up another seat but also scored another direct hit on the legacy of former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas). DeLay engineered the congressional re-redistricting in 2003 that led to a six-seat Republican gain in Texas in 2004. But those gains came at a price. Portions of the 2003 map, including the removal of 100,000 Hispanic voters from the 23rd District, were ruled in violation of the Voting Rights Act by the U.S. Supreme Court last June. The resulting changes in the district's boundaries reinstituted a strong Hispanic presence in the 23rd and led to Bonilla's loss.

Delay himself resigned amid allegations of ethical improprieties related to the 2003 remapping effort and watched from the sidelines as former Rep. Nick Lampson last month claimed the strongly Republican 22nd District that DeLay had held since 1984.

The conclusion of the 23rd District race leaves just one House contest in limbo: the one in Florida's 13th District.
While auto dealer Vern Buchanan (R) has been certified as the winner, banker Christine Jennings (D) has sued the state to force an investigations into thousands of "undervotes " in the Nov. 7 election. Jennings has also asked the House Administration Committee to look into the matter when Congress reconvenes in January.
Kuff and others on how he won.

The other election still awaiting results that I am following is in Alvin-Brazoria where the Republicans are scared of losing a special election to the state house. There have been a few reports of officials at polling places misinforming voters they were at the Republican only voting precinct. Democrat Dr. Anthony DiNovo should be favored to win this special election because three ill-informed cookie-cutter Republicans will be splitting the vote and there is no runoff. Meanwhile, in neighboring Fort Bend County the Republican Party continues its breakdown with the war between various factions after DeLay's defeat still churning. Other stories and comments at Fort Bend Now are worth getting the popcorn made for.

Light blogging through the holidays. Why don't you subscribe to the RSS feed in the upper left corner?

UPDATE - Ciro race - I love graphics. What a disaster for the GOP their fence policy is. What the win doesn't show is Dems moving to the right.

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