Friday, November 24, 2006

Sunday, November 19, 2006

This is not going to work...

Fox News, it seems is going to try and copy the Daily Show. But they had fake news all along you say.


It wasn't funny then, either. It was stupid and annoying. I'm sure that whatever they create will be in the same vein. Stupid, and annoying.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Our fabulous reporting of financial stuff...

As probably nobody who regularly reads this blog knows, I recently realized that I had enough cash lying around to buy some Berkshire Hathaway Class B stock, and lo and behold, a few days after buying it, it turned out that they had made a whole bunch of money because they made a killing on 2006 not being like 2005, storm-wise.

A couple of days ago I noted that the Berkshire Hathaway annual report transcends the annual report genre; it is to annual reports as Raymond Chandler is to pulp fiction. In fact, Berkshire Hathaway annual reports should be required reading somewhere...

But that lead me to consider, "How come other companies aren't reported like they are?"

And then I realized.

Not many analysts outside of the folks at the Motley Fool mention the stock. (Check out Marketwatch on this.) Sure, it's been covered in Business Week and Forbes. My Schwab account says it's a large cap stock, but it's not in the S&P 500. They don't follow it either. Neither does Morningstar.

Odd, wouldn't you say, for a stock that's had a humongous return for 30 years?

I don't think so; I think rather they'd rather not have small investors dabble in this stuff.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Have you ever read the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Report?

If you haven't you ought to (behold their flashy site here) ; they are like the no other annual report you've ever seen. Here's the 2005 version.

It's like reading Stephen Roach of Morgan Stanley except you know that these folks, having lion's share of their wealth on the line, aren't bullshitting you.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

My election post-mortem: with op eds

I figure before my mind gets polluted with Week in Review crap, I might as well lay out my observations of why we won and they didn't...

So here it is in no particular order:

1. It's the corruption stupid. I actually can't believe and have seen no evidence for why Iraq alone painted the map blue; I mean is it truly the difference between folks that they'd go 2 years for a failing war but 4 would be out of bounds? Well, granted Iraq was a mess, and Bush saw no reason whatsoever for cleaning up the mess (I can't imagine how much dried puke was in his frat-boy quarters when he was "in college.") But no, it's the corruption. And that includes Mark Foley. I noted this on another diary that the righties are completely silent about this. (Maybe recently they've changed their tune here and there.) But "hey, we've got a corrupt bunch of bastards pilfering from the public kitty!" was definitely not their first thought. The religious right's silence on this especially is deafening, and telling. Forget gays, forget Terri Schiavo: their inability to articulate a scintilla of moral indignation at this has dug their own graves and outed them as nothing more than cheap cardboard astroturf propagandists for the Republican party, and there's nothing "godly" or "holy" about that.

2. Ted Haggard played a role. Don't kid yourself. Look how freakin' blue Colorado is these days.

3. Here in the Pacific NW, this election went way, way down the food chain. Yeah, state houses. Local elected officials who were long term incumbent repubs were beaten by folks who were long term losers (D). Un - freakin - believable. State measures passed here largely on liberal lines. (A personal favorite of mine, in WA, was a measure to repeal the estate tax - it went down in flames.)

4. It was the 50 state strategy. Thanks to all who lost, because since we nationalized this election, you helped elect those who did get elected.

5. He who lives by the gerrymander, dies by the gerrymander: by spreading out Repubs to maximize turnout, you happen to spread them thinly. This little bit of common sense was not widely reported in the paper for months before the election, and I think still is not: if you maximize the number of Repub seats by putting 51% or 50.5% majorities, guess what happens when 2% of the voters get pissed off?

6. Regarding the Senate: I think the close margins here is the failure of "microtargetting" combined with a real get out the vote operation. Yes, folks the failure. Rove is an asshole to do this, because it basically shows that he can't put together a brand with mass appeal. Screw microtargetting. Consider the NW microbrews (or Sam Adams) instead of O'Doul's, to make a beer metaphor: they are flavorful, authentic, and effective, whereas O'Doul's is for tee-totalers who want to pretend they're drinking beer. How many ways can you make O'Douls? And which of the two will beat Budweiser any day of the week?

7. I bet the phone jamming crap and vote suppression and vote buying was real. And Allen and others should be called to account.

Now, watch the spin begin...

  • OK, for once Maureen Dowd's snark is apt:
    Poppy Bush and James Baker gave Sonny the presidency to play with and he broke it. So now they're taking it back.
  • Bernie Sanders is still dead to James Brooks...and he still doesn't get or denies the 50 state strategy. Dummy, it wasn't about only Ned Lamont. It was about Jim Webb. It was about putting pressure on folks like Maria Cantwell. It was about Darcy Burner. And Whitehouse. And Sherrod Brown. Dummy.
  • David Broder is simply not on the same planet as I am on, but even he gets that corruption was playing a part...
    When Congress quit work without addressing immigration, energy prices or health-care inflation in any serious way, the majority Republicans were clearly asking for trouble. And the scandals that kept erupting just added to the public disgust... The only people who seemed oblivious to the warning signs were President Bush and his political adviser, Karl Rove. Against all evidence, including the warnings of other Republicans, they kept insisting that Republicans would hold the House and Senate. Bush said at his news conference yesterday, "I knew we were going to lose seats," but he acknowledged he was shocked that the twin themes he kept pushing -- taxes and security -- didn't save the GOP from "a thumping."
Say it with me, folks: Nobody could have predicted the Democrats would take the Congress! This concludes our pundit screen for today...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

6 days to go...

Vote out the Republicans.

They're the folks who brought us the worst of the past 30 years...

Get rid of 'em.

They'd make the US like El Salvador in the 80s if given a chance.

They made El Salvador like El Salvador in the 80s.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Another post here...

It's been a while since I've posted here, mostly because a) I've been too busy at work, b) I've been too busy at home, and c) anything I've been blogging has been by and large political; and frankly, putting at Kos gave me a bigger audience.

I haven't forgotten about this place, but there's simply much more to do that's interesting, important, necessary, and good.

And not totally finished...

So I could go on and document the astounding hypocrisy and dishonesty on the right, but most of you all know that by now. Most folks by now know that, and they probably also know that talking to them about that in some vain hope that they will change their ways is like talking to cheese.

I could document developments here; there's so much more I haven't documented lately, but these things will periodically re-emerge and right now, there's more pressing things.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Mark Foley: hoist by his own petard...

It's about time one of them got snagged in one of their own bad laws, and that may be what Mark Foley's done... I personally think he shouldn't go to jail over an idiotic law that says talking about sex over the internet with someone under 18 (under what guise?) shouldn't be illegal if the sex itself isn't.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

More obscenity...


An award-winning Texas art teacher who was reprimanded after one of her fifth-grade students saw a nude sculpture during a trip to a museum has lost her job. The school board in Frisco has voted not to renew Sydney McGee's contract after 28 years. She has been on administrative leave.The teacher took her students on an approved field trip to a Dallas museum, and now some parents are upset.

The Fisher Elementary School art teacher came under fire last April when she took 89 fifth-graders on a field trip to the Dallas Museum of Art. Parents raised concerns over the field trip after their children reported seeing a nude sculpture at the art museum.The parents had signed permission slips allowing their children to take part in the field trip. McGee's lawyer said the principal at Fisher Elementary School admonished her after a parent complained that a student had seen nude art. McGee said the principal had urged her to take the students to the museum.Now, McGee, who was honored with a Star Teacher Award two years ago, is on paid administrative leave until her contract with the school district expires in March.

What is Texas, Iran?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Light blogging for the next few days...

I have an upcoming trip, a report, a presentation, and oh, yeah, I just discovered the best thing since sliced bread, and I've got to prove it's the best thing since sliced bread in triplicate a week before my upcoming trip.


Saturday, September 23, 2006

The "bin Laden is dead" rumor

It's either:

  • Black Ops designed to "smoke him out" through generating chatter on the "terrorist network" and thereby spring "the October Surprise" OR
  • Designed to get bin Laden to make a video, hopefully before the election, which the Repubs will use to claim that "bin Laden really hates us Repubs, so vote for us."
Nonsense however you put it.

Don't follow leaders, watch the parking meters, Dylan said.

Great advice.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Work, Family Practice and the Blogosphere

This is one of those posts, that posted on Kos, would go nowhere. It'd be posted at the wrong time, for one thing. Posting in the early morning puts in right in a rush-hour at Kos...

And besides, this post isn't really so well suited for Kos. Street Prophets, maybe.

This post is about work and family practice...and blogging.

Blogging often threatens to get in the way of the other two. As people who have visited this site regularly know, it isn't being as updated as it used to be. That's for two reasons, or three...

  1. It's political season, and frankly the stuff at Kos is more fascinating. The left blogosphere threatens to be the first method of organizing people to take on the religious rights. I don't often see the need to cross-post here in any depth.
  2. Work practice: Recently work has increased in its intensity. It is amazing the degree to which mindfulness directed in a stressful work environmnent allows one not only to simply get by, but to flourish. True; I need a vacation. The three or so days off in the summer haven't been enough, and it's time for me to schedule them. But the blogging just doesn't seem as interesting as the work.
  3. Family practice: This I could increasingly write a book about.
The zennist recently wrote:

Much of what is marketed as Zen in popular books and in Zen centers, bears very little resemblance to Zen as described in its own traditional texts. When Zen master Tsung-mi explains the principle of Zen he writes:

“The fundamental source of Zen is the fundamentally awakened True Mind also called Buddha Nature which is the primordial mind. Awakening to our Buddha Nature is called "wisdom" (hui, prajñâ). Practicing this is called "concentration" (ding, samadhi).”

How many Westerners who attend Zen centers have heard this? For the most part, not even Asian Buddhists hear such ideas from their teachers. All of this is buried in the voluminous Mahayana canon. Often, it only comes to the light of day when students are doing their dissertation or scholars are doing research.
I like this guy, and I guess you could say I go to an American Zen center (though my teacher is more in Asia these days than the US). But I can assure zenmar where the rubber meets the road is practiced today.

But as I do this I do find that one aspect of zenmar's criticism is spot on...this teaching is indeed not prominently displayed in the world...

Which brings me to the blogosphere... and Beliefnet's Blog Heaven.

It's high time they updated it.

When I think about the deep richness of the moments when I'm trying to figure out some obscure link between aspects of a particular protocol and a Stiefel manifold, and am completely, utterly, absorbed in it to the extent that the ki (気) being generated is causing me to sweat...frankly, the blogs that beliefnet pushes don't seem that relevant (with the notable exception of....Woodmore Village).

They skew way too far to the right, and ought to include Street Prophets.

But I think so much of this is so irrelevant.

I can understand zenmar's point: so much "dharma," so much "religion" so much "spirituality" is completely useless.

I think there are sites that I just won't visit because they never edify...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

What he said...

Geez, even in print Olbermann's eloquent:

Half a lifetime ago, I worked in this now-empty space. And for 40 days after the attacks, I worked here again, trying to make sense of what happened, and was yet to happen, as a reporter.

All the time, I knew that the very air I breathed contained the remains of thousands of people, including four of my friends, two in the planes and -- as I discovered from those "missing posters" seared still into my soul -- two more in the Towers.

And I knew too, that this was the pyre for hundreds of New York policemen and firemen, of whom my family can claim half a dozen or more, as our ancestors.

I belabor this to emphasize that, for me this was, and is, and always shall be, personal.

And anyone who claims that I and others like me are "soft,"or have "forgotten" the lessons of what happened here is at best a grasping, opportunistic, dilettante and at worst, an idiot whether he is a commentator, or a Vice President, or a President.

However, of all the things those of us who were here five years ago could have forecast -- of all the nightmares that unfolded before our eyes, and the others that unfolded only in our minds -- none of us could have predicted this.

Five years later this space is still empty.

Five years later there is no memorial to the dead.

Five years later there is no building rising to show with proud defiance that we would not have our America wrung from us, by cowards and criminals.

Five years later this country's wound is still open.

Five years later this country's mass grave is still unmarked.

Five years later this is still just a background for a photo-op.

It is beyond shameful.

At the dedication of the Gettysburg Memorial -- barely four months after the last soldier staggered from another Pennsylvania field -- Mr. Lincoln said, "we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

Lincoln used those words to immortalize their sacrifice.

Today our leaders could use those same words to rationalize their reprehensible inaction. "We cannot dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground." So we won't.

Instead they bicker and buck pass. They thwart private efforts, and jostle to claim credit for initiatives that go nowhere. They spend the money on irrelevant wars, and elaborate self-congratulations, and buying off columnists to write how good a job they're doing instead of doing any job at all.

Five years later, Mr. Bush, we are still fighting the terrorists on these streets. And look carefully, sir, on these 16 empty acres. The terrorists are clearly, still winning.

And, in a crime against every victim here and every patriotic sentiment you mouthed but did not enact, you have done nothing about it.

And there is something worse still than this vast gaping hole in this city, and in the fabric of our nation. There is its symbolism of the promise unfulfilled, the urgent oath, reduced to lazy execution.

The only positive on 9/11 and the days and weeks that so slowly and painfully followed it was the unanimous humanity, here, and throughout the country. The government, the President in particular, was given every possible measure of support.

Those who did not belong to his party -- tabled that.

Those who doubted the mechanics of his election -- ignored that.

Those who wondered of his qualifications -- forgot that.

History teaches us that nearly unanimous support of a government cannot be taken away from that government by its critics. It can only be squandered by those who use it not to heal a nation's wounds, but to take political advantage.

Terrorists did not come and steal our newly-regained sense of being American first, and political, fiftieth. Nor did the Democrats. Nor did the media. Nor did the people.

The President -- and those around him -- did that.

They promised bi-partisanship, and then showed that to them, "bi-partisanship" meant that their party would rule and the rest would have to follow, or be branded, with ever-escalating hysteria, as morally or intellectually confused, as appeasers, as those who, in the Vice President's words yesterday, "validate the strategy of the terrorists."

They promised protection, and then showed that to them "protection" meant going to war against a despot whose hand they had once shaken, a despot who we now learn from our own Senate Intelligence Committee, hated al-Qaida as much as we did.

The polite phrase for how so many of us were duped into supporting a war, on the false premise that it had 'something to do' with 9/11 is "lying by implication."

The impolite phrase is "impeachable offense."

Not once in now five years has this President ever offered to assume responsibility for the failures that led to this empty space, and to this, the current, curdled, version of our beloved country.

Still, there is a last snapping flame from a final candle of respect and fairness: even his most virulent critics have never suggested he alone bears the full brunt of the blame for 9/11.

Half the time, in fact, this President has been so gently treated, that he has seemed not even to be the man most responsible for anything in his own administration.

Yet what is happening this very night?

A mini-series, created, influenced -- possibly financed by -- the most radical and cold of domestic political Machiavellis, continues to be televised into our homes.

The documented truths of the last fifteen years are replaced by bald-faced lies; the talking points of the current regime parroted; the whole sorry story blurred, by spin, to make the party out of office seem vacillating and impotent, and the party in office, seem like the only option.

How dare you, Mr. President, after taking cynical advantage of the unanimity and love, and transmuting it into fraudulent war and needless death, after monstrously transforming it into fear and suspicion and turning that fear into the campaign slogan of three elections? How dare you -- or those around you -- ever "spin" 9/11?

Just as the terrorists have succeeded -- are still succeeding -- as long as there is no memorial and no construction here at Ground Zero.

So, too, have they succeeded, and are still succeeding as long as this government uses 9/11 as a wedge to pit Americans against Americans.

This is an odd point to cite a television program, especially one from March of 1960. But as Disney's continuing sell-out of the truth (and this country) suggests, even television programs can be powerful things.

And long ago, a series called "The Twilight Zone" broadcast a riveting episode entitled "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street."

In brief: a meteor sparks rumors of an invasion by extra-terrestrials disguised as humans. The electricity goes out. A neighbor pleads for calm. Suddenly his car -- and only his car -- starts. Someone suggests he must be the alien. Then another man's lights go on. As charges and suspicion and panic overtake the street, guns are inevitably produced. An "alien" is shot -- but he turns out to be just another neighbor, returning from going for help. The camera pulls back to a near-by hill, where two extra-terrestrials are seen manipulating a small device that can jam electricity. The veteran tells his novice that there's no need to actually attack, that you just turn off a few of the human machines and then, "they pick the most dangerous enemy they can find, and it's themselves."

And then, in perhaps his finest piece of writing, Rod Serling sums it up with words of remarkable prescience, given where we find ourselves tonight: "The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men.

"For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own -- for the children, and the children yet unborn."

When those who dissent are told time and time again -- as we will be, if not tonight by the President, then tomorrow by his portable public chorus -- that he is preserving our freedom, but that if we use any of it, we are somehow un-American...When we are scolded, that if we merely question, we have "forgotten the lessons of 9/11"... look into this empty space behind me and the bi-partisanship upon which this administration also did not build, and tell me:

Who has left this hole in the ground?

We have not forgotten, Mr. President.

You have.

May this country forgive you.

Sept. 11, 2006 | 3:19 p.m. ET

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Lao Tzu vs. Dobson via Lakoff: The essential danger of conservatism

I said I was going to write more on Lakoff and Dobson, and while I forgot why I was going to do that, I'm not at a loss for a viewpoint.

First, let's start here:

The conservative family values agenda is, at present, being set primarily by fundamentalist Christians. This is not a situation that many people are aware of. Probably the most prominent figures in the fundamentalist Christian family values movement are Dr. James Dobson, who is president of Focus on the Family, based in Colorado Springs, and Gary L. Bauer, who runs the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. These groups have been most explicit in developing a Strict Father approach to childrearing and have been extremely active in promoting their approach. On the whole, they are defining the conservative position for the current debate about childrearing, as well as for legislation incorporating their approach. Since the ideas in conservative Christian childrearing manuals are fully consistent with the Strict Father model of the family that lies behind conservative politics, it is not at all strange that such fundamentalist groups should be setting the national conservative agenda on family values.

I should say at the outset that virtually all of the mainstream experts on childrearing see the Strict Father model as being destructive to children. A nurturant approach is preferred. And most of the child development literature within the field of developmental psychology points in one direction: childrearing according to the Strict Father model harms children: a Nurturant Parent model is far superior.

Lakoff has it wrong: the "Strict Father model of the family" is really the undisciplined Father model of the family...

Here's a few choice quotes from Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching...

Chapter 29

1. If any one should wish to get the kingdom for himself, and to effect
this by what he does, I see that he will not succeed. The kingdom
is a spirit-like thing, and cannot be got by active doing. He who
would so win it destroys it; he who would hold it in his grasp loses

2. The course and nature of things is such that
What was in front is now behind;
What warmed anon we freezing find.
Strength is of weakness oft the spoil;
The store in ruins mocks our toil. Hence the sage puts away excessive
effort, extravagance, and easy indulgence.

No matter how much one tries to actively "seize the empire," whether the empire is one's domicile or the United States of America, one will come to failure.

What Lao Tzu is referring to here - and this Taoist perspective mirrors similar sentiments in Buddhism- is that neither a "strict" nor "indulgent" stance in executing authority will be useful.

Chapter 57

1. A state may be ruled by (measures of) correction; weapons of war
may be used with crafty dexterity; (but) the kingdom is made one's
own (only) by freedom from action and purpose.

2. How do I know that it is so? By these facts:--In the kingdom the
multiplication of prohibitive enactments increases the poverty of
the people; the more implements to add to their profit that the people
have, the greater disorder is there in the state and clan; the more
acts of crafty dexterity that men possess, the more do strange contrivances
appear; the more display there is of legislation, the more thieves
and robbers there are.

3. Therefore a sage has said, 'I will do nothing (of purpose), and
the people will be transformed of themselves; I will be fond of keeping
still, and the people will of themselves become correct. I will take
no trouble about it, and the people will of themselves become rich;
I will manifest no ambition, and the people will of themselves attain
to the primitive simplicity.'

This is neither strict nor indulgent: but rather empowers all.

Contrast that with Dobson, as interpreted by Lakoff:

Dobson is clear about the need for punishment, as are the others.
Rewards should not be used as a substitute for authority; reward and punishment each has its proper place in child management, and reversals bring unfortunate results. (Dobson, 91)

The point of punishment is not for some specific offense, but to enforce the parent's absolute authority in general, as a matter of principle. Any rebelliousness of spirit must he broken.

When youngsters display stiff-necked rebellion, you must be willing to respond to the challenge immediately. When nose-to-nose confrontation occurs between you and your child, it is not the time to discuss the virtues of obedience. It is not the occasion to send him to his room to pout. Nor is it the time to postpone disciplinary measures till your tired spouse plods home from work.

You have drawn a line in the dirt, and the child has deliberately flopped his bony little toe across it. Who is going to win? Who has the most courage? (Dobson, 20)

The only issue in rebellion is will; in other words, who is going to rule, the parent or the child. The major objective of chastisement [that is, physical punishment] is forcing the child's obedience to the will of his parents. (Fugate, 143)

The spanking should be administered firmly. It should be painful and it should last until the child's will is broken. It should last until the child is crying, not tears of anger, but tears of a broken will. As long as he is stiff, grits his teeth, holds on to his own will, the spanking should continue. (Hyles, 99-IOU)

In the [biblical] command of obedience given to children, there is no mention made of any exception. It must be set forth and impressed on them without any exception. 'But what if parents command something wrong?' This is precocious inquisitiveness. Such a question should perish on the lips of a Christian child. (Christenson, 59)

Require strict obedience. The obedience should always be immediate, instant, without question or argument. What the father says to do, the son does. He does 'a well, he does it immediately, he does it without argument. The parents allow no exceptions to the rule. Hence, obedience is the law of the land and the child should not deem it necessary to have an explanation for orders he has received from his parents. (Hyles, 144)

Obedience is the most necessary ingredient to be required from the child. This is especially true for a girl, for she must be obedient all her life. The boy who is obedient to his mother and father will some day become the head of the home; not so for the girl. Whereas the boy is being trained to be a leader, the girl is being trained to be a follower. Hence, obedience is far more important to her, for she must some day transfer it from her parents to her husband. This means that she should never be allowed to argue at all. She should become submissive and obedient. She must obey immediately, without question, and without argument. The parents who require this have done a big favor for their future son-in-law. (Hyles. 158)

Swift and painful punishment is thus seen as the basis for all character development:

Obedience is the foundation for all character. It is the foundation for the home. It is the foundation for a school. It is the foundation for a society. It is absolutely necessary for law and order to prevail. (Hyles, 145)

The means of punishment is also generally agreed upon. The "rod" in "Spare the rod and spoil the child" is meant literally:

The Biblical definition of the rod is a small flexible branch from a tree (a wooden stick) ... a number of rods [should be kept] throughout the house, in your car, and in your purse (so that you can] apply loving correction immediately. (Tomczak, 117)

The rod is to be a thick wooden stick like a switch. Of course, the size of the rod should vary with the size of the child. A willow or peach tree branch may be fine for a rebellious two-year-old, but a small hickory rod or dowel rod would be more fitting for a well-muscled teenage boy. (Fugate, 141)

The use of the rod enables a controlled administration of pain to obtain submission and future obedience. If a child's rebellion has been to disobey an instruction willfully, the parent can stop after a sufficient number of strokes and ask the child if he will obey instructions in the future. The parent is the best judge of the correct number and intensity of strokes needed for a particular child. However, if the child repeatedly disobeys, the chastisement has not been painful enough. (Fugate, 142-43)

Since such punishment is necessary to form character, it is a form of love.

Disciplinary action is not an assault on parental love; it is a function of it. Appropriate punishment is not something parents do to a beloved child; it is something done for him or her. (Dobson, 22)

Because I love you so much, I must teach you to obey me. (Dobson, 55)

This is clearly a) bound to fail, and b) cruel. Moreover, it creates a cycle of increasing abuse. Not a pretty picture for society.

If this is the Republican model, then it is simply Americans' patriotic duty to keep these people from power.

Just this...


A monk told Joshu, "I have just entered this monastery. I beg you to teach me." Joshu asked, "Have you eaten your rice porridge?" The monk replied, "I have." "Then," said Joshu, "Go and wash your bowl."
At that moment the monk was enlightened.

Mumon's Comment:
Joshu opened his mouth, showed his gall-bladder (true mind) and the depth of his heart. If this monk did not really listen to and grasp the truth, he indeed mistook the bell for a pitcher.

He made it so simple and clear,
It might take a long time to catch the point,
If one realizes that it's stupid to search for fire with a lantern light,
The rice would not take so long to be done.

Suzuki Shosan's response to a practitioner who asked about this koan was amazingly brilliant: in giving a down to earth answer advising the practitioner just to mindfully go about is everyday business and not to engage in any kind of meta-speculation beyond that, (and never, in fact, explicitly referring to this koan), Shosan provides one of the most profound, yet down to earth explorations of this koan ever.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

I am optimistic

There's some teeth gnashing over at Kos about the fact that it is unlikely the mokumentary whitewashing the failure of the Bush regime to do anything about 9/11 will be pulled from ABC's Sunday lineup. But I'll have none of that: I am very hopeful, especially because of the firestorm this has ignited.

The truth - operating from within it, operating with sincerity, is the only way to live one's life.

Being true to yourself is the only way to live one's life, and I think that is true for the nation, as well.

That's why I'm optimistic: the liars and deceivers and schemers who currently rule us are destined to fail, simply because their lies cannot, will never, keep track with reality, and the more lies they tell the more warped and distorted lies and actions they have to create to keep the inevitable from happening. But the inevitable will happen; maybe not Sunday, maybe not election day, but soon, and eventually decisively in American history, just as surely as the defeat of Nazism was decisive to eradicating it as a serious political philosophy in Germany, just as even today the vast majority of Japanese reject their militarism, and as today in China the Cultural Revolution is an event of shame.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Another site worth exploring

I'll have more, much more to say about this bit on Dobson and families.

Joe Carter: career trajectory

Joining the FRC? I myself would have a problem - especially if I were formerly a marine - working for an outfit that was headed by a guy who saw little trouble with buying David Duke's Rolodex or the C of C.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Mike McGavick: Good website

Is this Mike on?
Will he be accountable?

I have other questions...

Keith Olbermann channels Edward R. Murrow.

If you haven't seen this video at MSNBC, now at C&L, do so.

Olbermann uses one of my favorite points: these people in Washington are our employees, not our "leaders."

That truth something that I haven't heard expressed in the media until now.

Friday, August 25, 2006

This is interesting...

Improv Everywhere has interesting crowd things...

1000 words

This is the photo accompanying the NY Times article on the Iranian Holocaust Cartoon festival.

Notice I haven't been posting here much lately

The demands of work, coupled with the political season have gotten more time at Kos than here.

This blog ain't dead, although it's not been helped by Blogger's weird interface issues of late.

Certainly if this site looks blank, come visit my area at Kos.


Incidently, this attack piece on Markos by the Repugs is the funniest thing I've read in a long time. Evidently the Repugs simply can't figure out the blogs, and don't realize that scaring isn't going to work anymore...

Monday, August 21, 2006

Iraq is probably worse than you think

if what Michael Schwartz says is true.

1. The Iraqi Government Is Little More Than a Group of "Talking Heads"

A minimally viable central government is built on at least three foundations: the coercive capacity to maintain order, an administrative apparatus that can deliver government services and directives to society, and the resources to manage these functions. The Iraqi government has none of these attributes -- and no prospect of developing them. It has no coercive capacity...

2. There Is No Iraqi Army

The "Iraqi Army" is a misnomer. The government's military consists of Iraqi units integrated into the U.S.-commanded occupation army. These units rely on the Americans for intelligence, logistics, and -- lacking almost all heavy weaponry themselves -- artillery, tanks, and any kind of airpower. (The Iraqi "Air Force" typically consists of fewer then 10 planes with no combat capability.) The government has no real control over either personnel or strategy...

4. Most Iraqi Cities Have Active and Often Viable Local Governments

Neither the Iraqi government, nor the American-led occupation has a significant presence in most parts of Iraq. This is well-publicized in the three Kurdish provinces, which are ruled by a stable Kurdish government without any outside presence; less so in Shia urban areas where various religio-political groups -- notably the Sadrists, the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), Da'wa , and Fadhila -- vie for local control, and then organize cities and towns around their own political and religious platforms. While there is often violent friction among these groups -- particularly when the contest for control of an area is undecided -- most cities and towns are largely peaceful as local governments and local populations struggle to provide city services without a viable national economy.

This situation also holds true in the Sunni areas, except when the occupation is actively trying to pacify them. When there is no fighting, local governments dominated by the religious and tribal leaders of the resistance establish the laws and maintain a kind of order, relying for law enforcement on guerrilla fighters and militia members.

All these governments -- Kurdish, Shia and Sunni -- have shown themselves capable of maintaining (often fundamentalist) law and (often quite harsh) order, with little crime and little resistance from the local population. Though often severely limited by the lack of resources from a paralyzed national economy and a bankrupt national government, they do collect the garbage, direct traffic, suppress the local criminal element, and perform many of the other duties expected of local governments.

5. Outside Baghdad, Violence Arrives with the Occupation Army

The portrait of chaos across Iraq that our news generally offers us is a genuine half-truth. Certainly, Baghdad has been plunged into massive and worsening disarray as both the war against the Americans and the civil war have come to be concentrated there, and as the terrifying process of ethnic cleansing has hit neighborhood after neighborhood, and is now beginning to seep into the environs of the capital.

It's kinda like conservative religious wingnut heaven: government is highly decentralized, and controlled at the local level by religious conservatives.

It's exactly the kind of government Bush's religious cronies would bring to the United States if they were to exercise "the crown rights of King Jesus," except in a Muslim paradigm.

So, it looks like we've got victory here as far as religious righties ought to be concerned, so why the heck don't we bug out?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

It's about time we stopped with the airport bullshit

I'm serious. I said this right after 9/11: the system didn't work, and it was clear that all the hoo-hah then about "take your shoes offf" and what-not was Kafkaesque nonsense(some jerk even asked me to scan my wallet in SJO, until I protested).

Now it seems, both Matthew Iglesias at the Prospect and Patrick Smith at Salon have started on a similar take. First Yglesias:

Precisely zero people have been killed in liquid explosive attacks on airplanes. The historical record indicates that we're pretty secure as things stand. But perhaps that's too flip. British law enforcement and intelligence services might not have done such a good job and hundreds could have died as a result of this bomb plot.

Nevertheless, people have been allowed to carry liquid onto planes since time immemorial and we're clearly not awash in exploding aircraft. What's more, inconveniencing air travelers isn't simply a matter of inconvenience. The more hellishly annoying you make it to fly, the more people will drive, either by switching methods of getting to the same destination or by choosing closer destinations. And air travel remains -- despite the risk of a bomb disguised as perfume -- enormously safer than driving. Despite our best intentions, in other words, security can kill.

It's not even clear how many lives can be saved by bomb-proofing airplanes. The dangerous thing about a guy with a bomb on a plane is primarily the fact that the guy has a bomb. Put him on a crowded rush-hour subway platform and he could kill a bunch of people with the blast and let the ensuing stampede do further damage. Or he could derail an Amtrak train. Most likely, such attacks would be less deadly than an exploding plane, but they'd still be pretty deadly. The ultimate number of lives saved could be quite small.

Indeed, as John Mueller pointed out in his seminal article, “A False Sense of Insecurity,” there's good reason to be very skeptical of terrorism-prevention schemes in general. Terrorism is exceedingly rare. We're blessed to live in a world where the actual number of people inclined to murder Americans in terrorist attacks is very small. As Mueller writes, "The number of Americans killed by international terrorism since the late 1960s (which is when the State Department began counting) is about the same as the number of Americans killed over the same period by lightning, accident-causing deer, or severe allergic reaction to peanuts."

Next, Smith:

News of last week's foiled London terror plot had finally begun to drop from the headlines, but not before spring-loading us to act like fools, and touching off massive changes in airport security that are destined to serve no real purpose. Liquids, gels and even certain cosmetics are no longer permitted aboard commercial flights in the United States. Prescription medicines and infant formula are exempt, but the list of contraband includes everything from drinking water to hairspray. Among the forbidden materials: mascara and liquid-filled baby teethers.

On flights to and from the U.K., hand baggage was banned entirely for several days. Passengers may now bring aboard one small parcel no larger than 17 by 13 by 6 inches -- roughly the dimensions of a laptop case. Computers and music players are allowed, but they must be removed from luggage for separate inspection.

It's difficult to tell how long the new prohibitions will last, or to what scope they might be expanded, but the rumblings are ominous. According to officials at TSA, the ban on liquids and gels is set to last indefinitely. Rumors have surfaced that laptop computers and other electronic devices could soon be restricted as well. Is airport security about to experience another, even more powerful paradigm shift than we saw in the aftermath of Sept. 11, resulting in even greater hassle than we're already used to? It's disheartening to think so, but certainly the stars are lining up that way.

To properly get our arms around the folly of it all, we need to look back at what happened in 1995. I'm referring to the notorious "Oplan Bojinka" -- which I wrote about last week -- a conspiracy linked to al-Qaida that was broken up by Philippine police only days before 11 U.S. jetliners were targeted for destruction. The parallels between the Bojinka and London operations are truly remarkable, involving similar explosive materials and a strikingly similar modus operandi. Yet on the heels of Bojinka, airports remained calm. Passengers were free to step aboard with their cups of coffee and bottles of shampoo. This forces us to wonder: If it is truly in the interest of air safety to stop passengers from bringing the most basic and commonplace personal items on board, why was it not done the first time?

Mostly because authorities then had sense enough to understand such rules would be highly disruptive, tediously work-intensive, and in the end not very useful. Ban what we may, it doesn't take the world's smartest criminal to realize there are an unlimited number of ways to smuggle a potentially dangerous item onto a plane: be it an improvised knife hewn from plastic, or explosives or flammables made from many different substances -- solids, liquids and powders. A person could spend all day concocting nefarious, and ultimately undetectable, instruments of destruction.

"We can't keep weapons out of prisons. How can we hope to keep them out of airports?" poses Bruce Schneier, a prominent security expert and the author of "Beyond Fear."

Eleven years ago we were sensible enough to accept this -- and it's not as if terrorism was something new, with the Lockerbie bombing and '93 World Trade Center attack still fresh in our minds. Lo and behold, no American planes were bombed with liquid explosives -- or any other kind -- in the interim. The true nuts and bolts of keeping terrorists away from planes, meanwhile, was going on out of view -- the responsibility of law enforcement and intelligence agencies, not part-time screeners at the airport. Numerous intelligence failures were brought to bear on Sept. 11, certainly, but unfortunately our initial reaction was to scapegoat airport security, whose role in the attacks was all but irrelevant. At the time, box cutters were not prohibited items. If they had been, the hijackers would have fashioned some other weapon.

The X-ray machine and metal detector are what they are: a serviceable final line of defense, chiefly helpful for keeping obvious weapons -- a handgun, for example -- away from commercial aircraft. They are not, and we should not expect them to be, front-line anti-terror tools.

"Terrorism needs to be stopped at the planning stages. That's where our security can do the most good," Schneier says. "By the time the terrorist gets to the airport -- or the shopping mall, or the crowded movie theater -- it's too late."

To wit, neither the Bojinka plotters nor the London cabal ever made it to the airport. They were outfoxed ahead of time through the hard work of behind-the-scenes investigators.

Really, this has gotten past the point of absurdity. If you're flying, and you're doing that St. Vitus dance at the security checkpoint, there's only one reason, and one reason only: Bush failed to head the Aug. 6 2001 presidential daily briefing, and has failed to address the real issues involved in 9/11...other than caving into al Qaeda's demand and removing almost all troops from Saudi Arabia.

Anybody who's seen a prison drama knows that you can't make something 100% secure. So let's give up the damn illusion that we can. Or let's stop the "power play" with the passengers. We're the ones who're supposed to be in power anyway, in this country.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Jim Cramer or Stephen Roach? You decide...

I watched in horror that somebody would actually take Jim Cramer seriously last night as he poo-pooed the idea that the economy wasn't going into a downturn, that the historical prices of the markets trended downard, and that in general all the things Stephen Roach is saying doesn't mattter. Roach prognosticates:

The world’s main growth engine, the US, is slowing. That is the verdict from the labour market, with job growth in the past four months running 35 percent below average since early 2004. It is the verdict from the housing market, where an emerging downturn in residential construction activity is knocking at least 1 percentage point off the GDP growth trend of the past three years. And notwithstanding July’s temporary bounce-back in retail sales, it is a message from the consumer, whose inflation-adjusted spending growth fell to 2.5 percent in the spring period – one percentage point below the heady trend of the past decade.

America’s slowdown represents an important transition in the sources of economic growth, away from the vigorous wealth creation of asset bubbles – first equities, then housing – and back towards more subdued labour income generation. The delayed impact of higher interest rates is also taking a toll. Even though the Federal Reserve has put its two-year monetary tightening campaign on hold, there is a risk it has already gone too far. The confluence of higher energy prices, rising debt-servicing burdens, and negative personal saving rates reinforces the possibility of a pullback in discretionary US consumption and GDP growth.

This is an equally critical transition for the global economy. The world is about to lose significant support from the key driving force on the demand side of the equation – the American consumer. In a post-bubble climate, US households will be unable to save through asset appreciation, prompting America to increase income-based saving and reduce its claim on the pool of global saving. That points to a long-awaited reduction in the big US current account deficit – initially painful for export-dependent economies elsewhere in the world but ultimately a welcome resolution for global imbalances.

But who ill fill the void as the US consumer pulls back? The simple answer is; maybe no one...

I'll take Roach until after the elections...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Holy Cow the Limbats' Racism Flows Like Diarrhoea on a Cool Semptember Morning

And evidently Rush is proud of this...

CALLER: Right on. Hey, this is an honor, man, seconded only if I could shake the hand of President Bush.

RUSH: Thank you, sir.

CALLER: Yeah, you're a great guy. Love the show, I've been listening since the nineties.

RUSH: Thank you.

CALLER: Hey, I'm a typical out-for-himself Irish mick from the highest lands in North Dakota and I am insane. I've had enough of this. I call for a reverse jihad. The next American that dies, I want 10,000 towel heads gone. The next Israeli that dies, 10,000 gone. I'm just so sick of how we're pussyfooting around these people. They want us dead. My father, let me segue here, Air Force colonel retired in the 1980s, sold some aircraft to the Israelis back in the mid-seventies and he came back with these stories of the Israelis saying, "My God, I'm glad they're on our side, they're tough, they will not take it, and their motto of the Massad is, 'Never again,' and we have got to develop that mind-set, I swear to God, we have got to do this, or we're going to be done.

RUSH: True on most of what you said, except that we're not there. There's a certain sizeable percentage of the country that is not there.

CALLER: Who are these people, Rush? Come up to North Dakota once, man, you know, we're an oxymoron here, we're a very conservative people. We put liberals and Democrats into -

RUSH: I'll tell you who they are.

CALLER: The only state of the union that has a state bank but yet we're as conservative as they get. We come from the mind-set, Rush, of "you screw me a dime, I'll screw you a dollar." And why is the rest of the nation not like this?

RUSH: Well, let me try and explain this to you, and if you've listened since 1990, you've probably heard this. Pardon the redundancy. There are many, many factors. One of the factors is our affluence in this country. We don't have to take this seriously because since 9/11, an attempt to us, I mean, we stop the port deal, gasoline prices are a little bit high but besides that, hey, everything's pretty cool. Baseball games are being played, the NFL starting up, had a little heat this summer, that's pretty normal, but what the hell should we care about all that stuff going on over there? It's been going on since biblical times! Why is it our job to stop it and care about it? Because most people haven't yet arrived at the point of view that you have about this, and it's just going to take more such incidents. It's going to take a little bit longer. Look, when you get down to brass tacks, I have full faith in the American people, but they're last to act. When signal goes out, it's unmistakable that there is a genuine threat that we face, that threatens this affluence, threatens our way of life. Then the American people en masse, well, not en masse, we got a lot of libs, that's factor number two. You got people in this country, Jason, who actually don't like this country, blame this country. I've got a piece in the stack, the LA Times -- I'll have to find it before the show ends -- what are we doing to deserve this? Why do they hate us?

CALLER: I don't care. I don't care why.

RUSH: I don't either but the point is you asked why people are not like -- there's more than you care to think that think all this is our fault and if we would just change the way we live and change the way we act and change who we elect, why, then we wouldn't be threatened, and the world wouldn't hate us.

CALLER: I look at this tongue-in-cheek, but this is beyond fun, this is beyond good times from noon to three, we've got to convince America that they hate us. When they yell "death to America," they're talking about me and you, they're talking about my kids and they would love to see every one of us hanging by piano wire off street poles. I'm baffled. Your grandfather said, "surreal people and surreal environments make surreal decisions," and I'm convinced that the east and west coasts are just so far removed from reality, from, hey, bread comes from grain which is grown in the ground and not a store, that some of these ideas that come out of these people's minds are beyond insanity, they're dangerous!
RUSH: I agree totally.

CALLER: -- (unintelligible) man, thank you.

RUSH: (Laughing.)

CALLER: I don't know what I'd do without you. I really wouldn't.

RUSH: We need more like you. There's only one of me, but we need more like you.

CALLER: Come to Fargo, come to North Dakota, shake hands with anybody I see during my day, and you will see there's a lot more of us --

RUSH: By the way, is Fargo really where that big statue of Paul Bunyan is?

CALLER: No, that's in Bemidji, Minnesota.

RUSH: Yeah, okay.

CALLER: Yeah, you betcha, I've heard all that crap my whole life. You know, the Cohen brothers, I would love to line them up and give them a good kick in the nads. They did nothing for Fargo, nothing. By the way, everybody from the cereal state in California, I was born in LA, fruits, nuts, and flakes. Stay out. We don't need you in North Dakota, stay out, but thanks to you.

RUSH: Jason, you bet, thanks for the call. One more thing about this. I cannot emphasize this enough, ladies and gentlemen. I mentioned this at the top of the program. When you do see these militant Islamists shouting "death to America" and all that, it's easy to turn off the television and just think, "Well, they're thousands and thousands of miles away." They're really not. They're much closer than you think, and for all this talk about "peaceful Muslims," and I know there are some, I really have to tell you I'm stunned when things like this happen there isn't any condemnation of it from them. For example, let's talk about London for just a second. In London, in the latest attack, we're told that 24 Muslims -- British citizens, Pakistani natives, they're still Muslims -- were involved in this plot.

What is with Charles Krauthammer and his ilk?

Glenn Greenwald has a nice quote collection on the right's high dudgeon over Israel's invasion interruptus.

These folks are simply nuts; there's no other way to put it. Peace is always better than war. There is at least now the opportunity to obtain political objectives without killing people.

Plus, Israel wasn't exactly doing any blitzkrieg-like victories.

And, as I noted on Kos yesterday, the real problem may be that Bush has jinxed the whole Middle East with another "Mission Accomplished"-like utterance.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has a blog...


Why do folks even try stuff like that? If you want a fundamentalist blogger, you can read Joe Carter instead...

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Indeed, what are these guys smoking?


I know I’m on vacation, but this seems important: for the first time, the Department of Homeland Security has deemed an entire state of matter to be a national security risk.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

You can't make this up...

Via Crooked Timber, may I respectfully present the complete, detailed, and oh, so specific version of the Iraq "exit strategy?"

Yeah, it's PowerPoint. That should tell you all you need to know.

It seems Matt Bai kind of gets it...

From a soon-to-be--in the Magazine in the NYT:

In the aftermath of the primary, Democrats settled on the idea that Lieberman fell because of his support for the Iraq war. This was technically true, in the same way that a 95-year-old man might technically be said to die from pneumonia; there were, to say the least, underlying causes. The war was a galvanizing issue, but Lieberman's loss was just the first major victory for a larger grass-roots movement. While that movement is identified with young, online activists, it is populated largely by exasperated and ideologically disappointed baby boomers. These are the liberals who quietly seethed as Bill Clinton worked with Republicans to reform welfare and pass free-trade agreements. After the ''stolen'' election of 2000 and the subsequent loss of House and Senate seats in 2004, these Democrats felt duped. If triangulation wasn't a winning strategy, they asked, why were they ever asked to tolerate it in the first place? The Web gave them a place to share their frustrations, and Howard Dean gave them an icon.

Iraq has energized these older lapsed liberals; for a generation that got into politics marching against Vietnam, an antiwar movement is comfortable space. But it was the yearning for a more confrontational brand of opposition on all fronts, for something resembling the black-and-white moral choices of the 1960's, that more broadly animated Lamont's insurgency. Connecticut's primary showdown (which now appears to be headed for a sequel in November) marked an emphatic repudiation not just of the war but also of Clinton's ''third way'' governing philosophy - a philosophy not unlike the Republican ethos of ''compromise'' and ''pragmatism'' that so infuriated Reagan conservatives.

If history were to repeat itself, this outpouring of new liberal passion would portend trouble for the party's establishment candidates in 2008 (especially one possible candidate whose last name happens to be Clinton). But there is at least one crucial difference between insurgents of the 1970's and today. When Bell ran for the Senate in 1978, he was so obsessed with his plan to slash taxes that he went to the extraordinary length of bringing in Arthur Laffer, the renowned conservative economist, to draw his famous Laffer Curve at a news conference in Trenton. By contrast, Lamont's signature proposal as a primary candidate - and the only one anyone cared to hear, really - seemed to be the hard-to-dispute notion that he is not, in fact, Joe Lieberman. He offered platitudes about universal health care and good jobs and about bringing the troops home but nothing that might define him as anything other than what he is: an acceptable alternative.

Leaders of the Netroots, as the Internet activists have been named, will tell you that big ideas are way overrated in American politics - that you first have to master the business of getting elected before you can worry about how to govern. (Most powerful Democrats in Washington now believe this too.) But even with legions of outraged conservatives at his back, Reagan would not have taken over his party in 1980 - let alone the White House - had he not articulated an affirmative and bold argument against his party's status quo, vowing to devolve the federal government and roll back détente with the Soviets. Passion and fury started the revolution, but it took a leader with larger vision to finish the job.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Little Tommy Friedman is serious money

Via David Sirota's post today on Kos, Sirota quotes his blog quoting Washingtonian magazine...

As the July edition of the Washingtonian Magazine notes, Friedman lives in "a palatial 11,400-square-foot house, now valued at $9.3 million, on a 7½-acre parcel just blocks from I-495 and Bethesda Country Club." He "married into one of the 100 richest families in the country" - the Bucksbaums, whose real-estate Empire is valued at $2.7 billion.

Let's be clear - I'm a capitalist, so I have no problem with people doing well or living well, even Tom Friedman. That said, this does potentially explain an ENORMOUS amount about Friedman's perspective. Far from the objective, regular-guy interpreter of globalization that the D.C. media portrays him to be, Friedman is a member of the elite of the economic elite on the planet Earth. In fact, he's married into such a giant fortune, it's probably more relevant to refer to him as Billionaire Scion Tom Friedman than columnist Tom Friedman, both because that's more descriptive of what he represents, and more important for readers of his work to know so that they know a bit about where he's coming from.

Mind you, I don't think everyone needs to publish their net worth. But Friedman's not everyone. He's not just "doing pretty well" and is not just any old columnist. He's not just a millionaire or a multimillionaire - he's member of one of the wealthiest families in the world, and is one of the most influential media voices on the planet, who writes specifically about economic/class issues. If politicians are forced to disclose every last asset they own, you'd think at the very least, the New York Times - in the interest of basic disclosure - should have a tagline under Friedman's economic columns that says "Tom Friedman is an heir to a multi-billion-dollar business empire."

You'd think that the NY Times would have more columnists representative of its readership, and less addicted to the current power structure.

Really, "full disclosure" ought to be a tight requirement for all major media columnists, pundits, and talk radio hosts.

5 will get you ten will delete this:

The shocking thing to me is only 51% of Dems get that right now: if Bush were to "succeed," we'd be unemployed, poor, with no security in our old age, with no health care, with no education, with born humans equated legally to blastulae and brain dead popele and constantly in "fear" of "terrorists."

The depths to which the modern Republican party have sunk never lose their ability to shock me. In the 1990s, I - and many other progressives- couldn’t stand Bill Clinton but I didn't root for him to fail, although some Republicans - Jesse Helms comes to mind- made the equivalent of death threats against him.
Which is a repsonse to this.

Adam Nagourney: Times shill

I blogged about it on Kos here.

I wish Harper's would put "The Last of England" from the November 2005 issue up.

As the blurb on the cover web page puts it, "Churchill gave Londoners courage, Blair is serving them fear."

Indeed, and how much more so the Bush regime vs. Roosevelt.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Well, somebody's channeling me to make conventional wisdom...


HARTFORD, Conn. - Democrats in the state's three hot U.S. House races have been largely overshadowed by the party's U.S. Senate primary, but they're hoping Ned Lamont's victory will help them in November.

oe Courtney, who is running for the second time against Republican U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons in the 2nd District, pointed to record voter turnout in Tuesday's primary as evidence that Democrats are motivated to vote this year.

"If we can get the turnout above 60 percent on Nov. 7, that's a good thing for me," he said. "If the three-way race continues, you're still going to have a tremendous amount of noise and energy and interest, and I think that's something we can feed off."

In the 4th District, Democrat Diane Farrell is waging a rematch of her close 2004 battle against U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays (news, bio, voting record), a Republican. In the 5th District, Democrat Chris Murphy is challenging 12-term Republican U.S. Rep. Nancy Johnson (news, bio, voting record). Both Democrats said in statements Wednesday that Lamont's victory over Sen. Joe Lieberman has energized voters.

U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (news, bio, voting record), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Lamont's victory shows incumbents in both parties are vulnerable and "should be a flashing red light to the Republicans in Connecticut about the energy on the Democratic side."

But Republicans hope to capitalize on any lingering Democratic division over the bitterly fought primary. State Republican Chairman George Gallo said Lamont's victory came out of the extreme left wing of the Democratic party and sent a message that moderate Democrats aren't welcome.

"I'm saying that from a Republican standpoint, because, quite frankly, that's where our candidates are. We're independent, we're moderate," Gallo said.

Gary Rose, a professor of politics at Sacred Heart University, said Lamont's victory will embolden and empower the Democratic challengers and force the Republican incumbents to downplay any associations with

President Bush. Lamont painted Lieberman as too close to Bush and Republicans.

Back on July 2, I wrote over at Dailykos:

Take a look at one race, for example: Lieberman versus Lamont. Lieberman and his drones claim that the Lamont fight will hurt down-ticket and Congressional races, but it should be obvious to all by now that the exact opposite is true. Where does Lieberman get his funding? Maybe he does have a couple of union endorsements, but you can be sure that whoever's corporately funding him is getting their money sucked out from potential Republican challengers. Therefore, regardless of whether Lamont wins this aspect alone helps down-ticket and Congressional races! And I haven't even mentioned the fact that by getting the base out for Lamont, it gets them out for the other races.


We're still not safer...

Really, if they're still thinking of hijacking airliners & blowing them up, how far have we really gotten?

On the other hand, it wouldn't suprise me if this were a hoax, either.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Lieberman: rest in peace....

Yeah he's gong independent - at least as of last night- but the fact is I can't imagine anyone who'd actually vote for him- he's a man of no principles.

The NY Times editorial page, for once, nails it

The defeat of Senator Joseph Lieberman at the hands of a little-known Connecticut businessman is bound to send a message to politicians of both parties that voters are angry and frustrated over the war in Iraq. The primary upset was not, however, a rebellion against the bipartisanship and centrism that Mr. Lieberman said he represented in the Senate. Instead, Connecticut Democrats were reacting to the way those concepts have been perverted by the Bush White House.

Ned Lamont, a relative political novice, said he ran against Mr. Lieberman because he was offended by the senator’s sunny descriptions of what was happening in Iraq and his denunciation of Democrats who criticized the administration’s handling of the war. Many other people in Connecticut may have felt that sense of frustration, but no one else had the money and moxie to do what Mr. Lamont did. Mr. Lieberman was stunned to find himself on the defensive, and it was only in the last few weeks that the 18-year veteran mounted a desperate campaign to reclaim his party’s support.

Senator Lieberman says he will run as an independent in November, taking on Mr. Lamont and the Republican, Alan Schlesinger. Mr. Schlesinger is a very weak candidate, but Mr. Lieberman should consider the risk of splitting his party if the Republicans are able to convince Mr. Schlesinger to drop out of the race in favor of a stronger nominee.

Mr. Lieberman’s supporters have tried to depict Mr. Lamont and his backers as wild-eyed radicals who want to punish the senator for working with Republicans and to force the Democratic Party into a disastrous turn toward extremism. It’s hard to imagine Connecticut, which likes to be called the Land of Steady Habits, as an encampment of left-wing isolationists, and it’s hard to imagine Mr. Lamont, who worked happily with the Republicans in Greenwich politics, leading that kind of revolution.

The rebellion against Mr. Lieberman was actually an uprising by that rare phenomenon, irate moderates. They are the voters who have been unnerved over the last few years as the country has seemed to be galloping in a deeply unmoderate direction. A war that began at the president’s choosing has degenerated into a desperate, bloody mess that has turned much of the world against the United States. The administration’s contempt for international agreements, Congressional prerogatives and the authority of the courts has undermined the rule of law abroad and at home.

Yet while all this has been happening, the political discussion in Washington has become a captive of the Bush agenda. Traditional beliefs like every person’s right to a day in court, or the conviction that America should not start wars it does not know how to win, wind up being portrayed as extreme. The middle becomes a place where senators struggle to get the president to volunteer to obey the law when the mood strikes him. Attempting to regain the real center becomes a radical alternative.

Monday, August 07, 2006

There goes 8% of our oil...


LONDON (MarketWatch) -- BP Plc's shutting down its Prudhoe Bay oil field in Alaska, taking some 400,000 barrels a day of crude oil off world markets, in the aftermath of the discovery of a corroded pipeline and a small leak.
The shutdown ordered by the British energy giant, one of the three major operators in the North Slope, was disclosed Sunday night and is expected to take several days to complete. The reduction represents almost half the total daily production from the North Slope, and about 8% of daily U.S. output.

Now he feels a "heavy responsibility?"

Joe Lieberman has a conversion moment:

Mr. Lieberman said that while he believed his vote to authorize the war in 2002 was correct, he now felt a “heavy responsibility” to end the war quickly. He said he wanted to withdraw American troops “as fast as anyone,” yet insisted that leaving Iraq now would be a “disaster” that could worsen the sectarian violence there. And while President Bush may share that view, he added, Connecticut voters were free not to.

“I not only respect your right to disagree or question the president or anyone else, including me, I value your right to disagree,” he said at a community center in East Haven.

I never liked Joe Lieberman.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Good riddance to Lieberman, I hope...

Joe Lieberman represents the worst aspects of the Democratic party in recent years; he is a man without principle. One can hope that this time, the Democratic wing of the Democratic party prevails against people like Lieberman, who have only been representing themselves, and not acting on behalf of the people.

Back in the USA...

I have my latest musings over at Kos. Not that I expect it to be widely read, but I figured it'd be good to put it there.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Travel Reading: War Reporting for Cowards

Having lots of time in the Seattle airport waiting for my trip to Japan, I succumbed to the urge to buy reading material, and among the material, I picked up Chris Ayres's book.

Ayres, as the book notes mentioned, was too much of a coward or too centered on his career to try to get out of going to Iraq as a war correspondent.

The reviews of the book were quite a bit out of kilter with what was inside; while Ayres's book is a great read, with lots of Gen-X type references, what strikes me as odd is the cover reviews that tout this book as "hilarious" ( from Michiko Kakutani of the NY Times), and "laugh out loud" (Time). There was one place where I caught a chuckle, but what strikes me is the extreme naievete and almost stupidity of Ayres. This is a guy who aparently did virtually no meaningful research on how a modern army is put together, logistics, and so forth.

That said, there are some themes in this book worth pursuing; among them, Ayres (somewhat dully) figures out that he's embedded to create propaganda, and understands and appreciates the military.

His take on Iraq is equally naieve, with no conception of the tribal nature of the Iraqis, the history of the region in the last century, the relationship to oil, etc. It is apparent that Ayres simply wasn't using the same set of information that those of us who opposed the war did, and that's the big shocker: this "media dude," intelligent, articulate, and connected, was hopelessly clueless when it came to the geopolitical strategic circumstances and implications of the invasion of Iraq.

That's the type of folks that make the mainstream media today.

All that said, Ayres is indeed a damned fine writer, and you could do far worse with other books.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Japan blogging...

I've had a cold since getting here. Due to the cold meds, I accidentally dropped my toothpaste in the toilet bowl. I cannot throw it out; the cleaning folks won't remove it...

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Back in Makuhari...

Japan hasn't changed all that much, but the change in the weather has kind of caught me by surprise, yielding one nice cold coming on...

Anyhow, I must be getting old; I sat among these guys on the plane, having decided that the plane was delayed enough to justify a business class upgrade.

Amazing; I am amongst popular musicians and I don't even recognize them, and they are apparently successful enough to fly business class.

Friday, July 28, 2006

See you in a day or so...

Time for travel to Japan...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Before I go: That mess in Lebanon

The latest news about Lebanon makes me cringe; this is simply one sh!t train of lies and obfuscation all around:

JERUSALEM, July 27 — Israel’s security cabinet met today to discuss expanding the offensive against Lebanon, a day after the heaviest fighting in the two-week-old conflict killed 9 Israeli soldiers and dozens of Hezbollah fighters, as well as at least 23 Palestinians who died in the continuing battle in Gaza.

Before the meeting, Israeli officials said they regarded the failure of an international conference to reach agreement on a cease-fire plan as clearing the way for further assaults on Hezbollah.

“We received yesterday at the Rome conference permission from the world,’’ Justice Minister Haim Ramon told Israeli radio, “to continue this operation, this war, until Hezbollah won’t be located in Lebanon and until it is disarmed.’

I didn't give them permission...

Mr. Ramon [said] “all those now in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah.’’

IOW, get ready for some ethnic cleansing...

Arriving today in Kuala Lumpur for a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice defended her resistance during the Rome conference to the push for a quick cease-fire. She said she was “willing and ready to go back to the Middle East at any time’’ for talks on a “sustainable’’ peace plan...

Wonderful; we now have the equivalent of our highest diplomat saying we don't give a shit about the carnage...that'll sure win us friends and influence people.

And sure enough, not to be left out of our attention, and expressing solidarity usually hostile Muslim sects...

Also today, Ayman al-Zawarhiri, al Qaeda’s second-in-command, vowed in a videotape released today that the group “will not stay silent with regard to what is happening to Muslims in Palestine and Lebanon.”

"What is happening to Muslims is a Crusader and Zionist war," Mr. Zawarhiri said, promising “we will attack everywhere’’ in response.

Off to present my recent research...

Patti Smith put it well:

what i feel when i'm playing guitar is completely cold and crazy, like i don't owe nobody nothing and it's just a test just to see how far i can relax into the cold wave of a note. when everything hits just right (just and right) the note of nobility can go on forever. i never tire of the solitary E and i trust my guitar and i don't care about anything. sometimes i feel like i've broken through and i'm free and i could dig into eternity into eternity riding the wave and realm of the E. sometimes it's useless. here i am struggling and filled with dread—afraid that i'll never squeeze enough graphite from my damaged cranium to inspire or asphyxiate any eyes grazing like hungry cows across the stage or page. inside of me i'm crazy i'm just crazy.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Relatively light blogging for the next few days...

I'm off to Japan on Friday, and there's tons of preparations.

If you need an outrage, consider that a senior UN official says there's about 250,000 active child soldiers in the world.

If you want to worry about things you haven't been lately, consider that bird flu has infected some cats, and it's not being well controlled in Indonesia.

On the other hand, if you've got a drunk rat you need to sober up, offer the creature a cigarette.

And on still another hand, GlaxoSmithKline says they've made a breakthrough on bird flu vaccine.

If you want something that's more useless than usual, consider designer ice.

Finally, be sure to check and see how many earthquakes we've been getting and where. It's looked really quiet lately...

Oh, might as well be topical: Hezbollah, in their own words can be found here. I cannot say I sympathize with them, despite the carnage in Lebanon - in fact I find a great deal of this stuff repugnant. They're certainly not doing what I would do.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Not a good defense of the theocracy charge...

One Ross Douthat at First Things has "reviewed" some of the recent works that point to the troublesome rise of the influence of "conservative Christians..."

The fact is, there have been folks that are theocrats, and James Dobson and D. James Kennedy are among them.

And yeah, they're far more of a threat to America than our indigenous Communists ever were.

What the hell is the difference between Iran and Pakistan?

Only one side has a bunch of ayatollahs, the other is one shah-like creature from being ruled by a bunch of ayatollahs.

And so that's why Bush stayed mum on nuclear proliferation in Pakistan

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Today's NY Times "Let them eat cake" quote...

It's not really so bad that cities shed their middle class residents, you see...

SOME big American cities are flourishing as at no time in recent memory. Places like New York and San Francisco appear to be richer and more dazzling than ever: crime remains low, new arrivals pour in, neighborhoods have risen from the dead. New York is in the throes of the biggest building boom in 30 years, its population at an all-time high and climbing. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg proudly promotes his city as “a luxury product.”

But middle-class city dwellers across the country are being squeezed.

n the San Francisco Bay Area, the percentage of households earning more than $100,000 a year rose to over 30 percent in 2000 from approximately 7 percent in 1970, said Joseph Gyourko, a professor of real estate and finance at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. “Is that area worse off?” he asked. “At least so far, there’s a lot of evidence that economically they’re better off. Land prices are really high, lots of people want to move there.”

Edward L. Glaeser, a Harvard economist who studied 300 large cities with a range of levels of income inequality in the 1960’s and 1970’s, says he found little evidence that those levels later affected the growth of housing prices, income or population there.

Of course, cities need police officers, firefighters, teachers. But as long as they can get the labor they need from somewhere nearby, some economists say, middle-class shrinkage may not hurt. In Southern California, developers import construction workers from Las Vegas and put them up in hotels; costs go up but rich clients can pay. Firefighters who want to live in high-priced cities can work two jobs, said W. Michael Cox, chief economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. “I think it’s great,” he said. “It gives you portfolio diversification in your income.” Pay for essential workers like plumbers and cabdrivers will tend to go up, he said.

You're not poor, you see, you just need "portfolio diversification in your income."

Saturday, July 22, 2006

No kidding...

This "don't be afraid to shop for art" story from the NY Times, is illustrative of why some folks think they're elitist.

Kenise Barnes, who owns a gallery in Larchmont, N.Y., was formerly the specialist in charge of contemporary paintings and drawings at Christie’s East, which was the section for work under $50,000. She says she knows the feeling.

After moving to the suburbs, “I’d walk into galleries in Chelsea with my stroller and I’d been in the business and I’d be intimidated by the snooty little girl behind the desk.”

But it’s time to get over it.

“People don’t know they can go into an art gallery just like they can go into any other store,” said Judith Tannenbaum, curator of contemporary art at the Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Design. “There seems to be some sort of mystique about it.”

Barbara Guggenheim, an art consultant and author who has built up the art collections of numerous celebrities and major corporations, goes even further: “There’s no difference between an art dealer and a used-car dealer — they both want to sell you something.”

It might be nice if the used-car world adopted some of the common practices of many galleries: they often will allow prospective buyers to take a piece of work home “on approval” for a short time to see how it looks en situ.

And, like Ms. Barnes, they can do an awful lot of hand-holding. While I was sitting in her gallery, she received a call from a repeat client who has a painting out on approval.

“Her husband has looked at it, the designer has looked at, she wants me to look at it, although I’ve looked at it many, many times,” she said. “It looks amazing, and I’ll say that again.”

Prospective purchasers should remember that gallery owners don’t just want one-time buyers, they want to develop collectors. So don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Ms. Guggenheim suggests that when starting out, don’t grab the first piece in your price range. Browse for a few months, because as you look, your eye will develop and change. Most galleries rotate exhibits fairly often, so if you discover one whose work you like, drop by frequently.

In the world I live in, people tastelessly decorate $1 million homes to sell to other people who are over-leveraged; if they can muster up the fortitude to buy one of them, you'd think they'd not care about snooty art types.

I don't.