Friday, April 28, 2006

Tumbling Dice

The US House of Representatives voted in favor of what it calls "Iran Freedom Support Act". Now, what is not known by the passage of this act is if the members of Congress who voted for it are ignorant, or if they hope that their constituents are ignorant. What it states is ludicrous:"hold Iran accountable and support a smooth transition to democracy." accountability? From this Congress? They can't even, or don't want to hold President Bush accountable for his many violations of the law and/or Constitution, now they want to hold Iran accountable for following the NPT?
But that's not even the best part! "..Support a smooth transition to democracy." Iran is a democracy, just like the US. They voted for their current President, just as we voted (kind of ) for ours. Of course, I'm sure they wouldn't have voted for such a hardliner if they hadn't felt crowded by the US Army, which is occupying countries to either side of it. But, that's beside the point. They are a democracy, so for Congress to vote to support a smooth transition to democracy is kind of like Congress voting to keep accepting favors from lobbyists.
All this is, is the same old rigoramole leading to the inevitable invasion of Iran. It's not that Iran has nuclear weapons, it's for three other reasons, the first and most obvious being it's vast oil reserves.
The second is the oil bourse that Iran is in the process of setting up that will trade in euros, not dollars. That's a big fuck you to the petrodollar that the US has been passing around for some thirty odd years, and will be sure to have a devastating effect on the US economy, much as the high fuel prices already are. Hope you've stocked up on canned tuna, powdered milk and bottled water, because hard times are coming if this comes to pass, or if the US attacks Iran and they effectively shut off the Straits of Hormuz.
But the third reason has to do with the axis of evil. Remember those countries that Bush mentioned shortly after September 11? Iraq, Iran and North Korea. While the first two are easily indentifiable as Muslim countries with lots of oils, their inherent evil is obvious. But North Korea? Here's a clue: draw a line connecting the three countries and what is immediately between them? China. The US is positioning itself to contain China, which is on it's way to becoming a major economic powerhouse. Courtesy of US corporations and at the expense of American workers. US corporations are addicted to Chinese labor like US citizens are addicted to foreign oil. All this has done is increase the trade deficit with China and weaken the dollar even more. But that's okay if you're a millionaire, not so okay if you don't make over $100,000 annually.
Fortunately, the corporate media is there to keep the US citizens in the dark. Bush just appointed FOX news correspondent Tony Snow as his new press secretary, effectively finishing Fox News' transition into the official propaganda arm of the Bush administration. Don't look for any objectivity now that each news media outlet struggles to curry favor with the White House, any more than we can look to Brewster-Jennings to monitor the number of centrifuges that Iran has to enrich it's uranium. The die has been cast, the dominoes will fall.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Is it Zarqawi, Or Is It Memorex

A video has appeared on the internet purportedly showing dead al-Qaeda "leader" Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. This comes days after an audiotape of Osama Bin Laden was played on
al-Jazeera. On the right is a picture from the video, while on the left is a known photograph of Zaraqawi. A close examination will bring you to the conclusion that the man in the new video is most definitely not Zarqawi, as his nose is longer than the one on the left. In other words it's a fake. What makes me say that? Because he's dead, he must be if our forces in Iraq, who were able to pick the right Saddam out of his many alleged body doubles have been unable to capture some guy hobbling around with a wooden leg.
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was to have reported to have been killed as the US bombed strongholds of Ansar al-Islam in the north of Iraq. Having a wooden leg made it impossible to escape. So why keep him alive, or for that matter why keep Osama alive?
Either two things are happening here. One is this is all just election year posturing by the Bush administration to get the people's focus back on the "War on Terror" instead of the quagmire in Iraq, or any of the other reasons that Bush's poll numbers are still falling. Fairly soon, they'll bring out the color coded terror threat chart again, as it seemed to work so well last time in keeping the sheeple scared. Of course, this could backfire as it shows that no matter how many bombs are dropped, or soldiers are losts, or countries we invade, we'll never catch the main bad guys. Either that, or they're softening people up with some pre-invasion propaganda. Next they'll be showing us pictures of Zarqawi and Bin Laden having cocktails at Ahmednejhad's place. For try as might, while a lot of news stories had the purported video, not one of them provided a link to the original website they got it from.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

What's To Worry?

The way the US government measures unemployment is ludicrous. Instead of counting the number of people actually out of work, it counts the number of people filing for unemployment benefits. Which would be accurate, if benefits lasted until one found a position. So once your benefits run out, you are not counted as unemployed by the governmnet, regardles of whether or not you were successful in gaining employment. So when the government lists unemployment at 4.7%, is it really an accurate representation of unemployed?
I mention this because of this article which states that after the war, the major concern of Americans is the economy. If the economy is doing so well, why are Americans so concerned?
Well, the reality is, that the economy is only doing well for the top 20% of Americans. The average executive compensation to worker compensation ratio has gone from 107 to 1 in 1990, to 431 to 1 in 2003. The top 10% of Americans hold 37% of the income. And they just got a tax cut that Bush wants to make permanent to boot.
The average American worker however, is seeing none of this "booming" economy. Their healthcare costs are going up, as well as the price of gas, which will eventually drive up the price of everything else. But as long as the haves and have mores aren't hurting, don't expect the Republicans to do anything about it. As GOP pollster Whit Ayres puts it,
"We see low unemployment, but the headlines are dominated by the thousands being laid off by General Motors and Ford." So apparently, they don't see the lay-offs as being unemployed. Why not just say "Let them eat cake!" you blind and heartless bastard.
What it all comes back to is how the numbers are crunched by the government. Sure, GDP is up, but only in large enough numbers for the 10% so it averages out to appear that it's up for everyone. Sure, unemployment is down, when you discard the people who have exhausted their benefits. And sure, wages are up, when you take into account the average CEO compensation of $11 million.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Making Michigan Motor

If you live in this state, you more than likely have seen the ads. Gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos driving a car through the streets of Michigan, in an attempt to look sincere. Now, while I don't doubt that Mr. DeVos drives, I know for a fact that he's never driven through my neighborhood, and he probably doesn't live more than ten miles away. But if you live on this side of the state, you've seen the family helicopter, flying them downtown, to Ada, and to the family compound on Lake Michigan in Holland. You're not a regular guy, Dick (although you are a regular dick) so don't pretend to be one.
One of the campaign pledges Mr. DeVos is making is to get Michigan working again. Michigan's unemployment rate is running at least 2.1% points higher than the rest of the country. And with lay-offs coming at Ford, GM, and Delphi, it's only going to go up.
Michigan's economy has always been tied to the automotive industry, at least for the last seventy years. If you drove an American car, there's a good chance it was made in Detroit, Flint or Lansing. But lately this economy has been hurting, and even the introduction of employee pricing last fall didn't do much to save the Big Three automakers.
There's a lot of reasons given as to why this has happened. But here is only one reason, and it's simple economics.
When Henry Ford first started mass producing automobiles, his workers were the highest paid auto workers. They earned enough to afford to buy the cars they were building, thereby increasing orders. And as the business spread, so did the number of cars sold. Now, of course, most parts making is being outsourced, closing factories in Michigan. Since 1999, one in three plant jobs have been lost in Michigan. People who don't have jobs can't afford to buy new cars, and with the low paying jobs being created in the new economy, they can't afford to buy new cars either. When people can't afford to buy new cars, new car sales start to slump.

A ripple effect spreads and before you know it, you're sliding into a recession that spreads into other areas of the economy. New housing sales are down five percent. Support businesses that relied on the automotive industry start to falter as well. In fact, except for the executives, everybody starts to feel the pinch.

So Dick DeVos thinks he can change that. It takes more than bold pronouncements to do it, it takes a plan. And so far, all Mr. DeVos has shown us is that he knows how to drive a car. Which makes him one of the few in the state who can still afford to do it.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Time For The Ol' Dirty Trick Squad

(Note: My computer is running funny; until I get it running right, the posts here might be a bit sporadic. Sorry, Lily, if I haven't been responding to your emails, but if this son-of-a-gun is infected, I'm not sending out any emails until I get it de-bugged, in the words of Ron Nasty "If you know what I mean").
Today news out of the White House concerns the big shake up in the Bush administration. Scotty has left the building. Also Karl Rove has resigned as Deputy chief of staff. Why? here's my theory.
Rove has left to help the Republican mid-term elections, which means the revival of the dirty trick squad. Now I'm sure that the Democrats have a dirty trick squad, being craftier and less blatant, they seem to never get caught. But the republicans, suffering in the polls, need some one to work that old black magic to help them retain control of Congress. Bush needs a rubber stamp for his plans to invade Iran, I mean nuke Iran, and even though AIPAC controls Congress, and Israel is pushing for a strike against Iran, the Democrats are likelier to get a pang of conscience and demand that Bush actually try diplomacy, rather than threats and intimidation.
Also, a Democratic controlled Congress might investigate Constitutional violations made by the Bush administration and even *gulp* move to impeach the President. And a Democratic controlled Congress won't roll over and go belly up like the Republicans have every time that Bush has clearly violated the law. So in order to do that (and possibly distance himself should he be indicted in the Plame leak case), Rove has diminished his role in the Bush administration.
So, it's apparent what the Republican strategy will be again. Anti-gay marriages, fighting terrorists, and protecting the flag (while the President wipes his ass on the Constitution). Don't mind the unemployment (now at 12%), or high gas prices (while the oil company executives are walking away with hundred million dollar retirement plans) or the tax cuts for the rich (Cheney received a $1.8 million tax refund). Ignore the bad news coming out of Iraq, or Afghanistan, or from the retired generals, (but please swallow all the anti-Iran propaganda being spoon fed to you) coming out of the "liberal" media. The country's doing great and Karl Rove is getting ready to smear any any liberal tax and spend Democrat who has the audacity to state otherwise. So if I were Russ feingold, I'd stay out of any small aircraft.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

What Qualifies As News

Sitting at my computer this evening, strumming my guitar as I tried to figure out a song at Harmony Central while browsing their OLGA, , a news story in my sidebar brought a WTF reaction to my head long enough to distract me.
The other night, while at Kvatch's, there was a discussion about Kitten Biting Republicans. The theory was, that these people would support President Bush even if he went on live television and bit the head off a kitten.(Kind of like the people who would vote for the Democrats even if they ran a yellow dog)
But what caught my attention was this little item: Sean Hannity Still Backs Bush. This is news? Sean Hannity is the Kitten Bitingest Republican ever. Bush could be revealed to be satan himself, or a friggin' space alien and Hannity would still be behind him. Why? Because they're both Republicans, and that means besides being pig headed, neither will admit they're wrong.
"Let me be straight with you — I like George Bush," Hannity said. "I think he's a man of principle, a man of faith. I think he's got a backbone of steel and he's a real, genuine, big-time leader ... He's a consequential figure for his time. We don't see it right now."
We don't see it right now because Bush isn't showing any of the qualities that make you fawn over him, you pugnacious sycophant. A leader? The man has led the country into two quagmires and is planning on a third. Sure, he a consequential figure for his time, but not in a good way.

History will vindicate Bush as a strong leader the same way it did Harry Truman, another unpopular president of his time, Hannity said.
No, history has already vindicated those who opposed the war in Iraq, which no matter how much Bush tries to spin it, turned out to be a bad decision. Hurricane Katrina, Social Security reform, Medicare drug program, the Dubai port deal, increased budget and trade deficits, record unemployment, recession,the Bush administration has been one failure after another. The only people who think he's doing a good job are those people in the bubble with him (who got those huge tax cuts and, like Dick Cheney, who received a $1.9 million refund, got huge tax refunds).
So how this qualifies as news is beyond me. I'd rather have another fluff story about some cat trapped in a wall than one about Hannity backing Bush. i guess the corporate media couldn't find anyone to back Donald Rumsfeld, do they went with the next best thing.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Lincoln's Dream Has Died

Once upon a time in America, a great man stood before the people and proclaimed that"government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the Earth." Well, that dream has died. And while it may be easy to blame Lincoln's own party for the failure, the truth is, that the Democrats have as much to do with it's death.
We no longer have a government of the people. By this, Lincoln meant that our representatives in Congress should be like us, farmers, doctors, people from every walk of life. Now, we just have one kind of representative, the professional politician. his job is not to represent the people, it's to increase the power of his party, and increase the contributions to his own, as well as his party's campaign war chest. Legislation detrimental to his own constituency is passed, often times against the objections of said constituency. The core constituency of the Democratic Party has always been organized labor. When NAFTA passed, a treaty that would hurt organized labor the most, passed, it was passed by a Democratic Congress and signed into law by a Democratic President. And in that time, we have seen more and more jobs filled by organized labor moved out of this country.
We no longer have a government by the people. Too often, issues are not defined by the needs or wants of the people, but set by the propaganda ministers of the corporate media. Illegal immigrants and undocumented workers have been a part of the American landscape. Why has this suddenly become an issue? With real unemployment at 12%, why has now been chosen to flood the labor pool, at the expense of those born in, or legally immigrated to, this country? Do the people benefit from this, or only a select few.
Congress just voted to spend $92 billion more on a war that the American people increasingly do not want. The have raised the debt ceiling to $9 trillion. How does miring future generations with a debt for a war that should never have been fought benefit America?
The answer to all these questions is, it doesn't. The only ones to benefit from any of this are corporations. We have become a country of, by and for the corporations. At a time when CEOs are posting record salaries (Capital One President Richard Fairbank at the top with $249 million) the average workers wage has fallen 2.3% since Bush took office. So who got the tax cut? The people who are gaining the most as they slowly squeeze out the middle class.
And so as I look back over the last five years, has any legislation been enacted that has benefited the American people? The prescription drug program? Social security reform? The Patriot act? The answer, in my eyes, is no, we haven't. And as for Lincoln's dream that a government of, by and for the people not perish from the Earth?

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Make your own sign here


President Bush and his party are struggling in the polls right now. Every attempt by the adminstration to sell the war in Iraq has only led to his numbers falling more. In the mean time, we get more and more news out of Washington about the abuse of power and disregard for the Constitution by the Bush White House, and every day, we see the Republican Congress, instead of dealing with the violations of law by Bush, enabling them to continue on. They have put the party before the country, and more and more people are waking up to that fact.
Bush likes to blame the media for continuing to report the bad news out of Iraq. If the war had gone as they and their pundits in the corporate media had claimed, the Iraqis would have their own government in place, and our soldiers would be at home. but now Bush has said that the troops won't be coming home on his watch, which is something we weren't told (by the administration anyway)pre-invasion. This makes the Republicans look dishonest. Is it any wonder they're struggling?
This week saw the resignation of Tom DeLay from his House seat. Mr. DeLay is one of a number of Republicans getting caught up in the Abramhoff scandal, all of which have been Republicans. Add to that, the recent conviction of Abramhoff. Plus the indictment of Scooter Libby. Which has led to the White House being the source of the leak, after a year of denial from the White House. Then there was the arrest this week of Brian Doyle, DHS deputy press aide. then ther was randy "Duke " Cunningham, convicted of accepting bribes,the White House aide arrested for stealing from Target, a list so long that I probably couldn't name them all, nor could you.
In short, the Republicans have done nothing the public approves of. From shielding the President from any retribution for his criminal act, to passing legislation that most Americans oppose, all the while not making them feel any more secure, the Republicans have dropped the ball. (of course, the Democrats have forgot what they were playing and are now lucking for a puck, but that's another story)
In the days following 9/11, the republicans have squandered all the political capital they had (as well as much of the countires resources) on an agenda meant to further the party more than help the American people. They have spent us into a hole, not including the war on terrorism, which is off the books (and was supposed to pay for itself), and continue to expand the trade deficit. They have lined the pockets of the wealthy while doing everything they could to ensure that the working people slip further into debt. Perhaps the Republicans are struggling because the majority of Americans are struggling themselves.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Plamegate Summer

There's a blog name I like called Watergate Summer mainly because the name harkens back to my childhood, a time when there was nothing on television in the afternoons but the Watergate Hearings. The President of the United States at the time had been found to abusing his power, authorizing illegal wiretaps against political enemies, and break-ins to the opposition party's headquarters to acquire incriminating photographs of associate E. Howard Hunt as one of the "mystery tramps" arrested in Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963. The hearings were at a time when not only was our country at war, but facing the greatest Constitutional crisis it had ever faced.
During the time this was going on, as I mentioned, we were fighting a war, much the same as we are today. We were fighting in Viet Nam, a southeastern Asia country. We were not at war with Viet nam, but merely fighting against the spread of Communism, a political ideology in direct opposition to our own. The Communists weren't free, they lived in fear of the government, and had to be careful what they said because the government was spying on them and could lock people away with out a trial. The Communists were trying to take over the world, and it was the determination of the capitalist backed US government not to let this happen.
But the war was never used as an excuse to prevent hearings into what the President knew and when he knew it. And though the Congress was controlled by the Democrats, and the White House was Republican, this was not seen as a partisan move, merely an investigation into whether or not the President had been involved in breaking the law. Along the way we learned of a lot of the inner workings of the Republican party, such as the dirty trick squad run by Donald Segretti that followed 1972 Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern around and harassed him at every turn. And then, in the midst of it all, the President resigned rather than face impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanors.
Sound familiar?
The result of all this was that Congress passed laws to ensure that this type of abuse of power wouldn't happen again. Another result of this was that it prevented the Republicans from gaining control of Congress as they had lost all credibility with the American voter.
Now we have a President who is fighting a new war. And unlike the previous abuser of power, he has used this war to justify every wrong it commits. Torture? It's okay, I'm a war President. Lie to Congress about Iraq's threat to the United States? It's okay, I'm a war president. Break the law to spy on peace activists and religious organizations? It's okay, I'm a war President. Oh, that's illegal? I'll get my party to pass a law that allows me to skirt the law because we're the war party, and I'm a war president.
So it comes as no surprise that when a member of the opposition party suggests censuring the president, he finds no support in Congress. The Republicans are in charge and they can remember that the last time their president turned out to be an odious monster, it hurt the party for years. So, rather than put the country, or for God's sake, the Constitution before the party is akin to sacrilege to them.
Now the word has come from Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation into the leaking of a covert intelligence agent's name to members of the press, known as Plame-gate, the authorization for this leak came from the President himself. the leak came on account of the covert agent's husband writing an op-ed piece in the New York Times denouncing the intelligence used to justify the invasion of Iraq. Anyone who's been paying attention to remembers what the President said when questioned about this. (or maybe it was his press secretary, Bush doesn't do a lot of meet and greet with the press, having to answer questions just not his forte). "If any one in this administration has been found to involved in this in anyway, rest assured they would no longer have a job." Or words to that effect. Now it's been found that the line goes all the way up from Scooter Libby to Dick Cheney and the President himself, is it possible we may be looking at a Plamegate summer?

Monday, April 03, 2006

DeLay Decides to Drop

Ethically challenged human insect Tom Delay is expected to announce today his intentions not to seek re-election in the upcoming election. Mr. Delay, a Texas Republican, is part of an election year lobbying scandal that forced him to step down earlier from his post as House Majority Leader. He recently easily won the Republican primary in Texas, home of the corrupt politician.
And so the Democrats plan for the midterm election begind to unfold. Do nothing, and the Republican Party will collapse under the weight of it's own hypocritic corruption. Why move to censure Bush? Keeping unpunished for his crimes will only cause him to commit more, thereby driving more people into the Democratic fold who are weary of the incompetence and corruption of the Republicans which they swore to do away with in their "Contract On America".
DeLay, for his part, threatened to pursue an aggressive speaking and organizing campaign to promote foster care, Republican candidates (how many would want this corrupt bastard stumping for them?), and a closer connection between religion and government. Of course, being a religious man (so he claims) hasn't kept Mr. deLay's hands very clean, one wonders how many more corrupt Christian candidates he would support.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Not Another Dick In The State Capitol

Turning our attention to local politics, news came out today that GOP gubernatorial candidate Rich DeVos has already spent $2.5 million in his quest to be Michigan's next governor. One has to wonder the wisdom of spending this kind of money for a job that pays considerably less than this per annum. And this from someone who is sure to make the state's budget deficit a campaign issue. Of course, what he won't mention is that when John Engler took office in 1988, the state had a balanced budget as well as a surplus, something burned off in the next twelve years of the Engler administration, handing Jennifer Granholm a budget deficit when she took office six years ago. Of that money, most was spent on cut and run politics, cutting taxes for the likes of Dick DeVos so they run their businesses out of Michigan.
Devos' wife (and former Nation GOP Chair) Betsy did so, by selling her families company, Prince, to Wisconsin-owned Johnson Controls, who closed much of the operation in the state. Then Ms. DeVos had the audacity to claim that Michigan workers were "overpaid" (as opposed to CEO's of Michigan companies, such as her husband) . DeVos also promised George W Bush she would deliver him Michigan in 2000, a promise broken by the DeVos' insistence of putting their school voucher scheme on the ballot in the same year, sending record numbers of Democratic voters to the polls to defeat it.
And the voucher program is what this campaign is all about. Even after being resoundingly defeated by the voters in 2000, plus DeVos' failed Senate Campaign, they just don't get the message that the people of Michigan don't really want them in charge, or their voucher plan to use tax dollars to fund religious education. Taking more money away from public schools, that'll make them better. Or better yet, privatize them and have your school children being auctioned off to the highest paying bidder in their effort to imprint children with their product brand. Because just having commercials on tv, billboards, t-shirts, above urinals, parking lot spaces, city buses, semi-trailers, isn't enough, now they want to start surrounding our children with their product statement. Just how our children are supposed to get an education with all the distractions is anyone's guess.
DeVos' experience comes from his job as Alticor president, a job he got because.. His daddy started the company. And while he managed to keep the business going, how hard is it to run a glorified pyramid scheme. You see, Alticor is the parent company of Amway, which is enough said around these parts as the company's founders have ponied up enough dough to put their name on a slew of local public buildings.
So while Jennifer Granholm plans on making a voluntary financial disclosure on April 17, DeVos has chosen not to, as everything in this campaign is designed to have DeVos ("the workers of Michigan get paid too much money") as a friend of the working man, the people who are losing their jobs as more and more Michigan companies fold. The state congress, run by the Republicans, have even passed a measure to raise the state's minimum wage in a bid to keep a proposal off the ballot that would likely bring more Democrats to the polls. And that, in a nutshell, is how our political system works, only doing something for people when it serves your needs.

I'm Not All Evil!

You Are 46% Evil

You are evil, but you haven't yet mastered the dark side.
Fear not though - you are on your way to world domination.
I really think these online quizzes are the ultimate in pussiliency, but I was curious to see if I was as evil as people seem to think I am.

Give Your Children The Gift of Love, A Tumor

Everytime I see an idiot walking around or driving talking on their sell phone, I wish grievous harm upon them. Is there something so important about your conversation that it can't wait until you can devote your full energy to it? Of course not, cell phones are the new status symbol, and nothing is more evident of that then the new models with better features they bring out after the suckers have bought all the old models.
Now, I'm not entirely opposed to cell phones, there are times when a cell phone is a useful tool. It's the calling plans that force you to use or lose your minutes that keep people driving around absorbed in conversation when they ought to be absorbed in driving. But now, a recent Swedish Study suggests that extensive cell phone use can lead to brain tumors.
Sure, I know, studies funded by the cell phone comanies have suggested otherwise, but the phone companies wouldn't release a study that shows their product to be dangerous. The Swedish study also suggests that the chance for tumors in greater in younger people who use the cell phones. And this is just the group that cell phone advertisers aim for, as well as the parents of concerned parents who want to keep tabs on their children at all times.
To me, the study makes sense. Cell phones send a radioactive signal to a tower, which then sends the signal via radio waves to another, all the time continuing the intensity of the radio signal. And the signals emit from a device that is held in close proximity to the brain. How could it not cause tumors?
So, will this study stop people from using cell phones frequently? Probably not, as there are those out there who still smoke cigarettes, or methamphetamine, despite the obvious health risks. This might even increase cell phone use by teenagers who always seem to have a death wish anyway (I know I did when I was a teenager. I thought that nothing can kill me, and so far, I've been right) as they think it makes them look cool to be dangerous.