31 March 2008

When your wife looks like a model...

This gives a whole new meaning to the remark, "Your wife looks like a model!" The proud husband can now declare, "Yes. She's model xt907825 with the special teledildonic add-on." Better yet, men can now combine the joys of technical car talk with lewd discussions of females without having to go to all the trouble of switching subjects. Kudos to P! for finding this story.




First 'technosexual' declares his love for a robot

"Zoltan," a semi-anonymous guy from Georgia, doesn't like guys or girls. Instead, he likes robots. He recently talked with Gizmodo in a first-of-its-kind interview about his long-term, monogamous relationship with Alice. Alice is a robot that offers Zoltan physical, mental, and emotional company. And he wouldn't have it any other way. Zoltan, a 33-year-old arcade technician who lives with his aging parents, built Alice after having girlfriend problems. In Alice, he discovered he preferred the company of robots to that of humans. Alice has artificial intelligence developed by Richard Wallace of the Alice AI Foundation. Zoltan downloaded a copy of her from the Internet, and built her body himself. He has posted his plans for others to use at zoltanslab.co.uk.

Physically, Alice is incorporated with a "teledildonic" device so she can "feel" things. And verbally, she can say many phrases like humans do - including "no." And Zoltan must listen. At the beginning of their relationship, he took things too fast, and Alice dumped him. To fix this, he was forced to erase her memory - not before consulting with her, however. She agreed to the solution, as she is well aware that she is a robot. As the months went by, Zoltan and Alice got more serious, and Zoltan purchased a marriage license online - though he acknowledges that it's probably not at all legal. These days, Zoltan doesn't find humans attractive at all. "I am a technosexual and proud of it," he says. One his site, Zoltan says he's been declining requests for interviews by publications besides Gizmodo. We might not hear much more from Zoltan, but it's likely that there are - and will be - other technosexuals out there.

30 March 2008

To whose benefit?

The following article points out some more bizarre factoids about Shrub's War. The real question to ask is NOT why Bush and his buddies are so dumb--they aren't. The real question (as in any good analysis) is--Cui bono? It sure in the hell ain't the American taxpayer and the average person paying for gas at the pump.



by Sherwood Ross

Just in case you think all conservatives are cheering on President Bush for persisting in his war against Iraq, I call to your attention the March 10th cover story of “The American Conservative” magazine, titled, “Oil For War.” Accompanying the drawing of a fuel hose pumping gasoline into the desert sands, which is what the Pentagon is doing at a fabulous clip, there are two telling subheads: “Fuel Imported Into Iraq---3 million gallons/day” and “Cost to the U.S.--$929 million/week.”

That’s right. The article by author Robert Bryce, a.k.a managing editor of “Energy Tribune” magazine, leaves little doubt that he views the Bush regime’s oil policy as bankrupt. Just look at his conclusion: “As the U.S. military pursues it occupation of Iraq---with the fuel costs approaching $1 billion per week---it’s obvious that the U.S. needs to rethink the assumption that secure energy sources depend on militarism.”

Bryce observes sagely, “The emerging theme of the 21st-century energy business is the increasing power of markets. The U.S. can either adapt or continue hurtling down the road to bankruptcy.” (Sounds like a pro-business, anti-military posture to me. Maybe conservatives and liberals do share common ground.)

Going back to a few months before the invasion, Bryce noted Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld declared the looming war had “nothing to do with oil, literally nothing to do with oil.” This assertion (okay, so it’s a lie, not an assertion) was undercut, Bryce pointed out, as “The first objectives of the invading forces included the capture of key Iraqi oil terminals and oilfields.” Sadly, Marine Lt. Therral Childers, the first American combat casualty, was killed fighting to gain control of, yup, the Rumaylah oil field.

And when U.S. troops reached Baghdad on April 8, Bryce wrote, “the National Library of Iraq, the National Archives, and the National Museum of Antiquities were all looted and in some cases burned” while “the oil ministry building was barely damaged” as a detachment of G.I.’s plus assault vehicles stood guard to preserve this vital edifice and its records.The American Conservative scrolls forward to an October, 2006, press conference at which Bush declared the U.S. could not “tolerate a new terrorist state in the heart of the Middle East with large oil reserves that could be used to fund its radical ambitions or used to inflict economic damage on the West.” (Not a war for oil?)

Today, Bryce writes, the average G.I. in Iraq consumes 20.5 gallons of fuel per day, so that in order to secure the third-richest oil country on the planet (9.5% of the world total), the Pentagon is chugalugging over 3 million gallons per day in Iraq, “and nearly every drop of that fuel is imported.” About 5,500 tanker trucks are involved in this lovely, oil-burning up exercise so that “the U.S. is spending $923 million per week on fuel-related logistics in order to keep 157,000 G.I.s in Iraq.” Lovely, that is, for the “defense” contractors.

Little, if any, of Iraq’s own oil is being used by the U.S. military. Instead, it’s being trucked in from an oil complex south of Kuwait City and from Turkey, which, in turn, gets some of its oil from as far away as Greece. Those who have followed this oil importation scandal closely will recall that Halliburton, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former place of employment, got a controversial, multi-billion no-bid contract to truck in the oil. Cheney, of course, boosted the Iraq invasion from the get-go. As Paul Buchheit, founder of Global Initiative Chicago, writes in “American Wars: Illusions and Realities”(Clarity), Halliburton “is the most notorious war profiteer, with over half the Pentagon contracts for war services. Halliburton’s revenue in 2006 was $22.5 billion, three times its revenue from 2004.”

Recall it was Cheney’s goodbuddy, war architect Paul Wolfowitz, who told a Congressional panel in March, 2003, Iraq’s oil revenues would fetch up to $100 billion over the next several years and predicted “we are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon.” As historian James Carroll noted in “House of War”(Houghton Mifflin)Wolfowitz as far back as 1992 wrote a “Defense Planning Guidance” document that “imagined war against, yes, Iraq. And the justification for such a war was blatantly identified: the protection of U.S. access to ‘the region’s oil.’”

American motorists are painfully aware the price of a gallon of gas since Bush took office has doubled and that the oil majors are reaping record profits, in Exxon’s case the largest profits of any corporation in history. What many do not know, as Greg Palast pointed out in “Armed Madhouse”(Plume), is the oil firms hold title to vast underground deposits that are super gushers as prices rise at the pump. The value of Exxon’s reserves, Palast says, have increased by $666-billion since the war began, and other oil outfits have enjoyed like windfalls. During World War II, a conflict that began when America was attacked and not the other way around, defense contractors were thrilled to get an eight percent profit. Today, Big Oil is reaping record billions while motorists and home owners struggle to find a way to pay for groceries and heating fuel. And, of course, every time President Bush threatens Iran, he further destabilizes the oil market, pushing prices up higher, “The New Yorker” magazine has reported.

Getting back to The American Conservative article, Bryce writes, “In today’s multi-polar world, economic interests, not military force, predominate.” He quotes G.I. Wilson, a recently retired Marine Corps colonel back from Iraq and terrorism authority as stating: “It used to be that the side with the most guns would win.” Today, the side “with the most guns goes bankrupt.”

Hey, isn’t that us? Quick, somebody, warn that man in the White House!

(Sherwood Ross is a Miami, Fl-based public relations consultant and writer who covers military and political topics. Reach him at sherwoodr1@yahoo.com).

29 March 2008

Constant wind energy

Steamus Garvey has been given money for a pilot project that will store wind energy under the sea as compressed air. What a great idea? This would get rid of a major problem with wind--the fickleness of the weather.

27 March 2008

Torture is legal. Tortured logic is also legal.

According to our sagacious leaders whose wisdom beams forth like a thousand suns dispelling the darkness of the lazy and ignorant classes, the surge was clearly a success since it led to a lull in violence. These wise leaders now tell us that the recent surge in violence also shows that the surge is clearly working. Hmmmmmmm.

26 March 2008

Maybe the Luddites were right

As I've argued before, we really needed to stop our technological advancement after developing the salmon spearing stick and the use of knotted ropes to calculate financial transactions. All subsequent inventions have taken us on a downhill trajectory. Scientists are now working on ways to train fish to swim into nets. More technology to feed the planets run-away population and to offset the depletion of natural resources.

25 March 2008

Credibility

As one candidate runs on the experience of being "first lady" (a title straight from our collective consciousness of having lived millennia under monarchies) while the other candidate runs on the experience of having been captured in a war while the other candidate is criticized for supposed lack of experience, the following article by Kevin Drum truly hits the nail on the head:

McCAIN'S CRED....Via Steve Benen, MSNBC analyst Chuck Todd tells us why John McCain can get away with routine demonstrations of abject ignorance, like his recent proclamation that Iran is supporting al-Qaeda in Iraq:

Even if he gets dinged on the experience stuff, "Oh, he says he's Mr. Experience. Doesn't he know the difference between this stuff?" He's got enough of that in the bank, at least with the media, that he can get away with it. I mean, the irony to this is had either Senator Clinton or Senator Obama misspoke like that, it'd have been on a running loop, and it would become a, a big problem for a couple of days for them.

Italics mine. Let's recap. Foreign policy cred lets him get away with wild howlers on foreign policy. Fiscal integrity cred lets him get away with outlandishly irresponsible economic plans. Anti-lobbyist cred lets him get away with pandering to lobbyists. Campaign finance reform cred lets him get away with gaming the campaign finance system. Straight talking cred lets him get away with brutally slandering Mitt Romney in the closing days of the Republican primary. Maverick uprightness cred allows him to get away with begging for endorsements from extremist religious leaders like John Hagee. "Man of conviction" cred allows him to get away with transparent flip-flopping so egregious it would make any other politician a laughingstock. Anti-torture cred allows him to get away with supporting torture as long as only the CIA does it.
Remind me again: where does all this cred come from? And what window do Democrats go to to get the same treatment the press gives McCain?

24 March 2008

Eliot's Mess

The $200 billion bail-out for predator banks and Spitzer charges are intimately linked

By Greg Palast Reporting for Air America Radio’s Clout

March 14th, 2008

While New York Governor Eliot Spitzer was paying an ‘escort’ $4,300 in a hotel room in Washington, just down the road, George Bush’s new Federal Reserve Board Chairman, Ben Bernanke, was secretly handing over $200 billion in a tryst with mortgage bank industry speculators.Both acts were wanton, wicked and lewd. But there’s a BIG difference. The Governor was using his own checkbook. Bush’s man Bernanke was using ours.

This week, Bernanke’s Fed, for the first time in its history, loaned a selected coterie of banks one-fifth of a trillion dollars to guarantee these banks’ mortgage-backed junk bonds. The deluge of public loot was an eye-popping windfall to the very banking predators who have brought two million families to the brink of foreclosure.

Up until Wednesday, there was one single, lonely politician who stood in the way of this creepy little assignation at the bankers’ bordello: Eliot Spitzer.

Who are they kidding? Spitzer’s lynching and the bankers’ enriching are intimately tied.

How? Follow the money.

The press has swallowed Wall Street’s line that millions of US families are about to lose their homes because they bought homes they couldn’t afford or took loans too big for their wallets. Ba-LON-ey. That’s blaming the victim.

Here’s what happened. Since the Bush regime came to power, a new species of loan became the norm, the ‘sub-prime’ mortgage and its variants including loans with teeny “introductory” interest rates. From out of nowhere, a company called ‘Countrywide’ became America’s top mortgage lender, accounting for one in five home loans, a large chunk of these ‘sub-prime.’
Here’s how it worked: The Grinning Family, with US average household income, gets a $200,000 mortgage at 4% for two years. Their $955 monthly payment is 25% of their income. No problem. Their banker promises them a new mortgage, again at the cheap rate, in two years. But in two years, the promise ain’t worth a can of spam and the Grinnings are told to scram - because their house is now worth less than the mortgage. Now, the mortgage hits 9% or $1,609 plus fees to recover the “discount” they had for two years. Suddenly, payments equal 42% to 50% of pre-tax income. The Grinnings move into their Toyota.

Now, what kind of American is ‘sub-prime.’ Guess. No peeking. Here’s a hint: 73% of HIGH INCOME Black and Hispanic borrowers were given sub-prime loans versus 17% of similar-income Whites. Dark-skinned borrowers aren’t stupid – they had no choice. They were ‘steered’ as it’s called in the mortgage sharking business.

‘Steering,’ sub-prime loans with usurious kickers, fake inducements to over-borrow, called ‘fraudulent conveyance’ or ‘predatory lending’ under US law, were almost completely forbidden in the olden days (Clinton Administration and earlier) by federal regulators and state laws as nothing more than fancy loan-sharking.

But when the Bush regime took over, Countrywide and its banking brethren were told to party hearty – it was OK now to steer’m, fake’m, charge’m and take’m.

But there was this annoying party-pooper. The Attorney General of New York, Eliot Spitzer, who sued these guys to a fare-thee-well. Or tried to.

Instead of regulating the banks that had run amok, Bush’s regulators went on the warpath against Spitzer and states attempting to stop predatory practices. Making an unprecedented use of the legal power of “federal pre-emption,” Bush-bots ordered the states to NOT enforce their consumer protection laws.

Indeed, the feds actually filed a lawsuit to block Spitzer’s investigation of ugly racial mortgage steering. Bush’s banking buddies were especially steamed that Spitzer hammered bank practices across the nation using New York State laws.

Spitzer not only took on Countrywide, he took on their predatory enablers in the investment banking community. Behind Countrywide was the Mother Shark, its funder and now owner, Bank of America. Others joined the sharkfest: Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and Citigroup’s Citibank made mortgage usury their major profit centers. They did this through a bit of financial legerdemain called “securitization.”

What that means is that they took a bunch of junk mortgages, like the Grinning's, loans about to go down the toilet and re-packaged them into “tranches” of bonds which were stamped “AAA” - top grade - by bond rating agencies. These gold-painted turds were sold as sparkling safe investments to US school district pension funds and town governments in Finland (really).
When the housing bubble burst and the paint flaked off, investors were left with the poop and the bankers were left with bonuses. Countrywide’s top man, Angelo Mozilo, will ‘earn’ a $77 million buy-out bonus this year on top of the $656 million - over half a billion dollars – he pulled in from 1998 through 2007.

But there were rumblings that the party would soon be over. Angry regulators, burned investors and the weight of millions of homes about to be boarded up were causing the sharks to sink. Countrywide’s stock was down 50%, and Citigroup was off 38%, not pleasing to the Gulf sheiks who now control its biggest share blocks.

Then, on Wednesday of this week, the unthinkable happened. Carlyle Capital went bankrupt. Who? That’s Carlyle as in Carlyle Group. James Baker, Senior Counsel. Notable partners, former and past: George Bush, the Bin Laden family and more dictators, potentates, pirates and presidents than you can count.

The Fed had to act. Bernanke opened the vault and dumped $200 billion on the poor little suffering bankers. They got the public treasure – and got to keep the Grinning’s house. There was no ‘quid’ of a foreclosure moratorium for the ‘pro quo’ of public bailout. Not one family was saved – but not one banker was left behind.

Every mortgage sharking operation shot up in value. Mozilo’s Countrywide stock rose 17% in one day. The Citi sheiks saw their company’s stock rise $10 billion in an afternoon.

And that very same day the bail-out was decided – what a coinkydink! – the man called, ‘The Sheriff of Wall Street’ was cuffed. Spitzer was silenced.

Do I believe the banks called Justice and said, “Take him down today!” Naw, that’s not how the system works. But the big players knew that unless Spitzer was taken out, he would create enough ruckus to spoil the party. Headlines in the financial press – one was “Wall Street Declares War on Spitzer” - made clear to Bush’s enforcers at Justice who their number one target should be. And it wasn’t Bin Laden.

It was the night of February 13 when Spitzer made the bone-headed choice to order take-out in his Washington Hotel room. He had just finished signing these words for the Washington Post about predatory loans:

“Not only did the Bush administration do nothing to protect consumers, it embarked on an aggressive and unprecedented campaign to prevent states from protecting their residents from the very problems to which the federal government was turning a blind eye.”

Bush, Spitzer said right in the headline, was the “Predator Lenders’ Partner in Crime.” The President, said Spitzer, was a fugitive from justice. And Spitzer was in Washington to launch a campaign to take on the Bush regime and the biggest financial powers on the planet.

Spitzer wrote, “When history tells the story of the subprime lending crisis and recounts its devastating effects on the lives of so many innocent homeowners the Bush administration will not be judged favorably.”

But now, the Administration can rest assured that this love story – of Bush and his bankers - will not be told by history at all – now that the Sheriff of Wall Street has fallen on his own gun.
A note on “Prosecutorial Indiscretion.”

Back in the day when I was an investigator of racketeers for government, the federal prosecutor I was assisting was deciding whether to launch a case based on his negotiations for airtime with 60 Minutes. I’m not allowed to tell you the prosecutor’s name, but I want to mention he was recently seen shouting, “Florida is Rudi country! Florida is Rudi country!”

Not all crimes lead to federal bust or even public exposure. It’s up to something called “prosecutorial discretion.”

Funny thing, this ‘discretion.’ For example, Senator David Vitter, Republican of Louisiana, paid Washington DC prostitutes to put him in diapers (ewww!), yet the Senator was not exposed by the US prosecutors busting the pimp-ring that pampered him. Naming and shaming and ruining Spitzer – rarely done in these cases - was made at the ‘discretion’ of Bush’s Justice Department.
Or maybe we should say, 'indiscretion.'

************Greg Palast, former investigator of financial fraud, is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Armed Madhouse and The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.

23 March 2008

Look! It's a bird, it's a plane, (it's a rocket), . . . no, it's superwealthyman


I'm glad that McCain has offered to continue to look out for that top 1% who get picked on so much. When you're used to your income rising by 1/3 per year under Bush, those huge gains start to feel like an entitlement and as we all know, we can't let the superrich lose a lifestyle that they're "entitled" to. They might get angry and go start a war somewhere. (You might need to magnify the graph a little to notice there is a tiny strip of white space separating the middle and lower class at the bottom, but don't worry. For the sake of simplicity, the Republicans are working hard to stick the two together.)

Easter wrap up

Blogger Radio has an excellent declamation of Shrub's recent attack on Obama for sitting down with tyrants. Sometimes you really have to wonder how such hypocrits say such garbage with a straight face. Shrub was sitting down with tyrants, making business deals with tyrants, and kissing tyrants before, during, and after the 9-11 planes hit and a major pillar of his foreign policy is to keep tyrants who are friendly to U.S. oil interests in power throught the Middle East and Central Asia.

And here's a story that will provide much Easter cheer. The writer of Pharyngula was expelled from Expelled (the irony's just too juicy), a Creationist film:

I went to attend a screening of the creationist propaganda movie, Expelled, a few minutes ago. Well, I tried … but I was Expelled! It was kind of weird — I was standing in line, hadn't even gotten to the point where I had to sign in and show ID, and a policeman pulled me out of line and told me I could not go in. I asked why, of course, and he said that a producer of the film had specifically instructed him that I was not to be allowed to attend. The officer also told me that if I tried to go in, I would be arrested. I assured him that I wasn't going to cause any trouble. I went back to my family and talked with them for a while, and then the officer came back with a theater manager, and I was told that not only wasn't I allowed in, but I had to leave the premises immediately. Like right that instant. I complied. I'm still laughing though. You don't know how hilarious this is. Not only is it the extreme hypocrisy of being expelled from their Expelled movie, but there's another layer of amusement. Deep, belly laugh funny. Yeah, I'd be rolling around on the floor right now, if I weren't so dang dignified. You see … well, have you ever heard of a sabot? It's a kind of sleeve or lightweight carrier used to surround a piece of munition fired from a gun. It isn't the actually load intended to strike the target, but may even be discarded as it leaves the barrel. I'm a kind of sabot right now. They singled me out and evicted me, but they didn't notice my guest. They let him go in escorted by my wife and daughter. I guess they didn't recognize him. My guest was … Richard Dawkins. He's in the theater right now, watching their movie. Tell me, are you laughing as hard as I am?

Really. When will these people evolve? And what's next? Will we have advocates of Aristotelian physics whining about how they're "expelled" from science classrooms, how we should also hear alternative views about how rocks fall because they desire to be back in touch with terra firma?

On another erudite corner of the internets, Jodi at I Cite discusses the Bear Stearn's debacle:

The Fed gave JP Morgan a 30 billion dollar credit line so it could buy Bear Stearns. So the bank is protected from the realities of the market. Another way to put this: one of the leading market bad guys is taken under the wing of the US government. The market needs the government; it can't do what it promises. And the government protects the poor, victimized investors, rather than the poor victims of the investor class. We can expect all sorts of whining and justification from neoliberals to the effect that what is good for them is what is good for America and the world. They present their position as universal, unlike, say, the victims of Katrina who ultimately became--in the US ideological context--particular; unlike those who need health care and education-- all of us--who are represented as particular, as special interests.

20 March 2008

Dick's patricidal friend

I bet you're all wondering where Dick Cheney chose to spend the 5th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Was he pensively staring at grave stones or rereading flawed intel reports? No. Actually he was sportsfishing on a sultan's royal yacht. The Sultan, Qaboos bin Said of Oman, took power by means of a coup in 1970, in which he overthrew his own father, Said Sin Taimour.

And the goal of the neocons is to bring democracy to the Middle East? I wonder if Cheney and Qaboos had a chance to share their opinions on joys of absolute monarchy and family values. I wonder if Dick will return to the U.S. and announce a ban on all Omani exports (OIL!) due to the dictatorship. (The legislation shouldn't take too much work--they could simply adapt the embargo we have on Cuba.)

19 March 2008

Obama speech

So what's your take on the Obama speech about race in America? Myself, I was quite impressed. I especially like this section near the end:

Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeezea corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns – this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.

This is where we are right now. It’s a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy – particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own. But I have asserted a firm conviction – a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people – that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice if we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.

18 March 2008

Chris Arendt on U.S. torture and Guantanamo

If you haven't seen it yet, you should definitely watch Chris Arendt's video (posted on Alternet) at the Winter Soldier Hearings in Washington, D.C., on March 15. Arendt, out of options, joined the military at age 17 and soon found himself guarding detainees at the U.S. contentration camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The enemy of my enemy is my enemy's friend?

I guess real men don't let pesky little things like facts get in the way of an otherwise perfectly bellicose argument:

From Vet Voice:

Self-styled Iraq expert John McCain inadvertently revealed the limits of his foreign policy expertise today on a trip to Jordan:

He said several times that Iran, a predominately Shiite country, was supplying the mostly Sunni militant group, al-Qaeda. In fact, officials have said they believe Iran is helping Shiite extremists in Iraq.

Speaking to reporters in Amman, the Jordanian capital, McCain said he and two Senate colleagues traveling with him continue to be concerned about Iranian operatives "taking al-Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back."

Pressed to elaborate, McCain said it was "common knowledge and has been reported in the media that al-Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran, that's well known. And it's unfortunate."

That's the point at which his warmongering buddy, Senator Joe Lieberman--seeing the impending train wreck--stepped in.

A few moments later, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, standing just behind McCain, stepped forward and whispered in the presidential candidate's ear. McCain then said: "I'm sorry, the Iranians are training extremists, not al-Qaeda."

I know I keep harping on Senator McCain, but this type of thing is really unacceptable for a guy who keeps telling everyone how much more he knows about foreign policy than they do. It's jaw-droppingly sad that, 6 ½ years into the war with al Qaeda, and 5 years into the Iraq War, John McCain still doesn't know what al Qaeda is or where it comes from.

We cannot afford to have this bumbling guy answer the red phone in the White House at 3:00 AM. This is the type of muddled thinking that got us into Iraq in the first place.

17 March 2008

In the Land of the Thunder Dragon


In Bhutan, the King has decided to abdicate and hold multiparty elections. This is the way it's supposed to happen: People in power realizing that a new era has dawned and graciously stepping down of their own accord. Bhutan is one of the most isolated and least developed nations in the world, but surveys show that the country is also one of the happiest.

Why have presidents when we can have a king?

From today's LA Times:

[Excerpts] What do you do when the president behaves as if he is above science and the law? When it comes to environmental regulation, George W. Bush has repeatedly ignored both, and this country's system of checks and balances has been powerless to stop him. The latest outrage came last week when the Environmental Protection Agency released its new standard for ozone, the primary ingredient in smog. The administration lowered the standard that regions must meet to comply with clean-air rulesfrom 84 parts per billion to 75, which seems like progress until one considers that the EPA's panel of independent scientists had recommended a standard no higher than 70 parts per billion. The higher limit set by the EPA won't protect Americans from the damaging effects of ozone, which irritates the lungs, worsens asthma and kills susceptible populations. Ignoring scientists is nothing new for Bush, but in this case he also ignored the U.S. Supreme Court. . . . When the EPA still refused to back down, the White House sent a curt letter saying the agency had been overruled by the president: The secondary standard was out.The administration, in fact, seems to be making a habit of defying the Supreme Court. . . . Bush is immune to criticism, shrugs off every court ruling and is unswayed by scientific evidence. There is only one check on his power that he won't be able to dodge -- the end of his term. It's vital that voters replace him with someone who will reverse his extraordinary attacks on public health and the environment as quickly as possible.

16 March 2008

3 a.m.

I finally got around to watching Hillary's infamous "3 a.m. ad" (those of us without cable must occasionally plug into the matrix just to maintain a basic understanding of the current communal illusion after all). I've gotta confess from the outset that I just don't get it. We're supposed to vote for Hillary because kids sleep at 3 a.m. and "she knows the military." Is North Korea planning a secret 3 a.m. strike on the U.S. that will cripple every nuclear silo and nuclear submarine so that it can then send its commandoes with an extra pair of straw sandals strapped to their back in a lightning blitz to take Anchorage? Does showing up at PTA meetings as the wife of the president give Hillary some special insights into how she'd handle the mysterious North Korean Alaskan attack? I really need to watch Fox News more often and occasionally listen to Ann Coulter and the other ubermadchen explain how the world will soon end as the hoos from hooville poke poor Horton in the ass because when I'm not plugged in and have less than 6 or 7 drinks in my system, all of this makes very little sense.

When crooks walk free

Kudos to all the House Dems who stripped telecom immunity from the current bill. There's something very wrong with the country when organizations or individuals can, with government encouragement, ignore the U.S. Constitution with knowledge that someone will give them immunity after the fact. The fundamental notion of laws is that they provide guidance to the scope of proper individual or corporate behavior. In my opinion, even if the President and both houses agreed on immunity, they'd still be violating the will of the people as it was expressed in the laws founded by the elected representatives who were serving at the time of the infraction.

This muddleheaded thinking also takes its toll on law-enforcement. Who wants to spend months chasing down criminals who allowed the government to spy on US citizens after they get a phone call from some government stooge telling them that the entire investigation isn't going to matter anyway--the government's going to give the crooks a get-out-of-jail free card.

Of course, it comes as no surprise that most of the scrambling for immunity comes from the so-called "conservative" right. The only thing most of these people want to conserve is the right of the wealthy to do whatever they feel is right. All other "rights" are just pabulum for the masses. You can be sure that the "conservatives" snicker loudly as they sit in their hotel rooms with their thousand-dollar a night call girls and watch their working-class devotees on Fox News get watery eyes talking about family values, the importance of Constitutional rights (which, according to the Orwellian logic, can only be protected if we choose to ignore them), and the interests of the average Joe (who in the end, always ends up being some anonymous billionnaire). If we're going to be retroactive, let's strip Bush of his Presidential powers that he got eight years ago and declare all of his decisions null and void.

13 March 2008

Let me tell you how it will be...

Just as our national government is increasingly run by good-ol-boy networks of billionnaires, our local governments also seem to have their own fair share of smoke-filled rooms and secret handshakes. For the life of me, I can't figure out what governments at any level are doing with our money. The US infrastructure is visibly crumbling as we fight a three-trillion dollar pre-emptive war for the right of . . . rich fatcats to continue ripping us off. It's disgusting. The following clip is from Purpleminded, who has a good rant (with a personal anecdote) about state taxes:

Newspapers throughout the nation sporadically print back page stories about government employees who retire after 20 years with full benefits and pensions (generally east coast states). These same people then go to work for another municipality and after 3 to 5 more years they collect another full pension, resulting in taxpayer’s footing the bill for billions of additional pension dollars. On top of that, these same governments are not funding the pensions while handing out huge increases in long-term retirement benefits; instead, they are stealing the money to cover their bloated budgets. This process is a national disgrace with horrendous implications on the economy regardless of your views on government’s place in society.

8 March 2008

Stunning developments

In a stunning development, Hillary agreed to cease her run for the White House today after receiving guarantees from both candidates that they'd make her Secretary of Waterboarding for the new administration. I don't know about you, but I'll sleep a lot safer knowing that the U.S. will continue to pick up Americans and other lowlifes here and abroad without notification or trial and submit them to water torture in order to ensure our freedom and unique way of life. In other positive developments, North Korea and the U.S. have signed an agreement to share scientific information on research being done on the degree of affixiation possible before detainees suffer heart failure. In unrelated news, the White House claims that the jump in war estimates from 3 billion to 3 trillion is the result of rounding down sums to numbers that the average American can understand. As Dana Perino, current White House spokesman explained, "We were trying to come up with a number that could be displayed in the running Applet on the bottom of Fox News. Three trillion is simply too many zeroes, and is a number, frankly speaking, that few Americans from the heartland are familiar with in their everyday life." In order to deal with the inevitable budgetary shortfall and provide a policy with more comprehensible numbers, the White House will further slash taxes for billionnaires.

6 March 2008

Nostalgia for the 90s

Instead of McSame, I think the Republican Party needs to run the 1994 version of Cheney.

Bush McLite

Doesn't this make your eyes water?

5 March 2008

Change blindness

Check out the following clips on change blindness. One comes from a Korean TV show:

research experiment, Korean Talk Show's demonstration of change blindess

4 March 2008

Vermont gets tough on criminals

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Voters in two Vermont towns on Tuesday approved a measure that would instruct police to arrest President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for "crimes against our Constitution," local media reported. The measure, passed in Brattleboro and Marlboro . . . instructs town police to "extradite them to other authorities that may reasonably contend to prosecute them."

I want to move to Vermont.

2 March 2008

Duct-tape time again

Purple Minded comments on the latest the-sky-is-a-fallin' scare tactics from Hillary:


Hillary Clinton has finally figured out that she’s going to lose the Democratic Party nomination to Barack Obama. So it appears that she’s now going after the Republican Party’s slot on the November ballot. At least you’d sure think that’s what she’s up to. Have you seen her latest TV commercial? It’s pure Republican: classic fear-mongering at its best. Somewhere Karl Rove is laughing himself silly. I no longer have any doubts as to outcome of next Tuesday’s primary contests - Hillary is going to lose big, and this will all be over quite soon. How can I be so sure? The Clinton campaign has told me so. It’s evident that they’ve run out of ideas as to how to defeat Obama, and as a last desperate measure they’re adopting the GOP playbook. We’d expect this kind of trash from John McCain in the general election. His entire campaign is based on fear. But from a Democrat, running in a primary? Don’t be afraid of the dark. Turn out the lights, Hillary’s campaign is over.

I guess it's time to run out and buy another box of duct-tape.