Monday, April 25, 2005

Separation of church & state

Frist speaks to Christian anti-filibuster rally Other religious leaders call rally a false union of faith, politics (Monday, April 25, 2005 Posted: 5:01 AM EDT (0901 GMT) CNN.COM)

Remember that one of the values enshrined in the U.S. Constitution is the separation of Church and State. There is no official state religion in the U.S., unlike many countries. The two institutions operate in their own spheres, and this gives individuals the freedom to choose the religion that suits their taste, etc.

Can someone to me explain an event held over the weekend?

In a Baptist church in Louisville KY (I lived just down the road in Lexington KY for nearly 20 years) was used as the rallying stage for a joint appearance by several ministers and members of congress. The rallly was a telecast program, named "Stopping the Filibuster Against People of Faith", and was aired in churches around the country.

At issue are judicial nominations. The Bush Administration has nominated several radical right-wing nutjobs, and now are complaining that they aren't being approved. As a result the Congressional leaders are moving to end the ability to filibuster as a tactic to stop a judicial nomination. The Republicans are complaining that the Democrats have filibustered a couple of their judicial appointments.

Well, excuse me, but when the shoe was on the other foot the Republicans were fighting Clinton's appointments just as hard as the Democrats are fighting Bush's appointments.

Frist's participation in the event drew fire from Democrats and hundreds of religious leaders, who accused Christian conservatives of raising unsubstantiated allegations of religious persecution.

Four hundred thirty religious leaders from across the country signed a letter to protest Sunday's rally. And the FRC rally prompted opposition rallies, including one in Louisville.

"What we detect instead is the work of a political organization using Christian language to exploit Americans' desire to preserve religious values by framing their political strategy in terms of religious liberty," wrote the Rev. Joe Phelps of Highland Baptist Church in Louisville, which held the opposition rally. "This is deceptive, manipulative, and false."

Monday, April 18, 2005

The elite's plan to reshape the world, one disaster at a time

There's a recurring claim various people make of a global "conspiracy" to keep control of the world by the money'd elites. For example you can look at the current U.S. administration and see the hands of the money'd elites, from GW Bush whose family made their reputation from doing whatever the money'd elites want them to do, to the rest of them.

The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (By Naomi Klein, The Nation. Posted April 18, 2005. ALTERNET.ORG)

This article talks about one leg of that story. It's about what has been happening with each new nation-building exercise that follows some disaster or war. Think back over the years and you have several examples, the parts of the former Yugoslavia, Ruwanda, Angola, Somalia, and now Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Sri Lanka, or Aceh, etc.

Few ideologues can resist the allure of a blank slate--that was colonialism's seductive promise: "discovering" wide-open new lands where utopia seemed possible. But colonialism is dead, or so we are told; there are no new places to discover, no terra nullius (there never was), no more blank pages on which, as Mao once said, "the newest and most beautiful words can be written." There is, however, plenty of destruction--countries smashed to rubble, whether by so-called Acts of God or by Acts of Bush (on orders from God). And where there is destruction there is reconstruction, a chance to grab hold of "the terrible barrenness," as a UN official recently described the devastation in Aceh, and fill it with the most perfect, beautiful plans.

"We used to have vulgar colonialism," says Shalmali Guttal, a Bangalore-based researcher with Focus on the Global South. "Now we have sophisticated colonialism, and they call it 'reconstruction.'"

In the wake of every disaster (or war) you have waves of "help" arriving. The help arrives in the hands of the usual suspects in the NGO community. But along with the help comes ideology. The blank slate phenemona means they can force the local government, if it survived whatever the disaster befell them, to radically change their governance towards the moderate pseudo-democracy preferred by the money'd elites. Further, they'll force a reshaping of the economy to support the market-driven model preferred by the money'd elites.

Or from Sri Lanka, where 600,000 people who lost their homes in the tsunami are still languishing in temporary camps. One hundred days after the giant waves hit, Herman Kumara, head of the National Fisheries Solidarity Movement in Negombo, Sri Lanka, sent out a desperate e-mail to colleagues around the world. "The funds received for the benefit of the victims are directed to the benefit of the privileged few, not to the real victims," he wrote. "Our voices are not heard and not allowed to be voiced."

... the reconstruction industry works so quickly and efficiently that the privatizations and land grabs are usually locked in before the local population knows what hit them. Kumara, in another e-mail, warns that Sri Lanka is now facing "a second tsunami of corporate globalization and militarization," potentially even more devastating than the first. "We see this as a plan of action amidst the tsunami crisis to hand over the sea and the coast to foreign corporations and tourism, with military assistance from the US Marines."

What of the preferences of the local people? What of the historical reasons they might have for the governance system that people have put into place?

It seems that, in 2004, the Bush Administration stepped it up a notch.

On August 5, 2004, the White House created the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization, headed by former US Ambassador to Ukraine Carlos Pascual. Its mandate is to draw up elaborate "post-conflict" plans for up to twenty-five countries that are not, as of yet, in conflict. According to Pascual, it will also be able to coordinate three full-scale reconstruction operations in different countries "at the same time," each lasting "five to seven years."

So, I guess it's official. The U.S. government is being used as a tool by the money'd elites to reshape the world to serve their purposes. They're using the cover of disasters around the world, ones which their news teams conveniently beat up a frenzy of concern and calls for the government to "do something", and along the way of helping they force "reform".

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The 9/11 attack a conspiracy?

Inside Job: Unmasking the Conspiracies of 9/11While glancing through the Project Censored 2005 report, one item stuck out.

#9: Widow Brings RICO Case Against U.S. government for 9/11

RICO is the "Racketeering" law, normally used against organized crime. This woman, Ellen Mariani lost her husband, Louis Neil Mariani, and launched herself into an investigation. The more she connected the dots, the more convinced she became that the highest levels of the Bush administration knew about the attack beforehand, and purposely allowed it to continue.

The suit documents the detailed forewarnings from foreign governments and FBI agents; the unprecedented delinquency of our air defense; the inexplicable half hour dawdle of our Commander in Chief at a primary school after hearing the nation was under deadly attack; the incessant invocation of national security and executive privilege to suppress the facts; and the obstruction of all subsequent efforts to investigate the disaster. It concludes that compelling evidence will be presented in this case, through discovery, subpoena power and testimony, that defendants failed to act to prevent 9/11, knowing the attacks would lead to an international war on terror.

Project Censored: 2005 report

Censored 2005 : The Top 25 Censored Stories (Censored)Project Censored ( is a research organization based in Sonoma County CA dedicated to exposing newsworthy stories that do not get covered by the mainstream press. Every year they publish a list of 25 under-reported stories.
Censored 2004: The Top 25 Censored Media Stories of 2002-2003


#1: Wealth Inequality in 21st Century Threatens Economy and Democracy

In the late 1700s, issues of fairness and equality were topics of great debate—
equality under the law, equality of opportunity, etc. Considered by the framers of the Constitution to be one of the most important aspects of a democratic system, the word “equality

#1: Wealth Inequality in 21st Century Threatens Economy and Democracy

#2: Ashcroft vs. the Human Rights Law that Holds Corporations Accountable

#3: Bush Administration Censors Science

#4: High Levels of Uranium Found in Troops and Civilians

#5: The Wholesale Giveaway of Our Natural Resources

#6: The Sale of Electoral Politics

#7: Conservative Organization Drives Judicial Appointments

#8: Cheney's Energy Task Force and The Energy Policy

#9: Widow Brings RICO Case Against U.S. government for 9/11

#10: New Nuke Plants: Taxpayers Support, Industry Profits

#11: The Media Can Legally Lie

#12: The Destabilization of Haiti

#13: Schwarzenegger Met with Enron's Ken Lay Years Before the California Recall

#14: New Bill Threatens Intellectual Freedom in Area Studies

#15: U.S. Develops Lethal New Viruses

#16: Law Enforcement Agencies Spy on Innocent Citizens

#17: U.S. Government Represses Labor Unions in Iraq in Quest for Business Privatization

#18: Media and Government Ignore Dwindling Oil Supplies

#19: Global Food Cartel Fast Becoming the World's Supermarket

#20: Extreme Weather Prompts New Warning from UN

#21: Forcing a World Market for GMOs

#22: Censoring Iraq

#23: Brazil Holds Back in FTAA Talks, But Provides Little Comfort for the Poor of South America

#24: Reinstating the Draft

#25: Wal-Mart Brings Inequality and Low Prices to the World

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Unconstitutional: The War on Our Civil Liberties

Unconstitutional: The War on Our Civil Liberties"Unconstitutional: The War on Our Civil Liberties" is a new movie sponsored by Robert Greenwald. This time the director is Nonny de la Pena.

"We created Unconstitutional to show Americans the extent to which our civil liberties and our freedoms have been trampled upon by our government since 9/11," said Robert Greenwald, the film's executive producer. "The more Americans understand what is at stake, and what has already been lost, the more determined we become to protect our rights."


The Bush Administrations "energy plan"

Bush pushes his energy policy (Saturday, April 16, 2005 Posted: 10:06 AM EDT (1406 GMT) CNN.COM)

Bracketed by a gas-price sign in San Fransisco that reads $2.99 per gallon, CNN offers a writeup of the Bush Administration energy policy. It is coming up for a vote this coming week, the major difference being that in the House version are provisions allowing drilling in ANWR and protecting the oil and chemical industries from MTBE lawsuits.

"Today our energy needs are growing faster than our domestic sources are able to provide," Bush said. "Demand for electricity has grown more than 176 percent in the past decade, while our transmission ability lags behind. And we continue to import more than one-half of our domestic oil supply."

Well, duh. It's them gas guzzlers and other wasteful ways of living that's the root cause. And, we continue to import more than 1/2 of our oil needs because, well, the U.S. hit its oil peak in 1970. He seems to want us to believe ANWR will save us, when it won't. It'll just be a drop in the bucket, and he's spending a lot of political strength trying to piss into the wind when he ought to be pushing for reasonable alternatives.

Instead of continuing our dependance on oil, we need to develop alternatives. Alternatives that can be fielded today, and are known to work. The hydrogen fuel cells he's pushing are a ridiculous option.

Sure, when a fuel cell runs hydrogen what comes out is electricity and water. That sounds great, what could be polluting about water? Well, there are two problems:

  • Where does the hydrogen come from?
  • How can you store enough hydrogen in a vehicle for decent range?

And a third glaring problem is that the car companies are predicting another 10+ years before fuel cells will be ready. Okaaaaay, so is this just another way for them to continue their duopolistic dance with the oil industry?

Where does the hydrogen come from? Well, hydrogen is not an energy source. It takes energy to extract hydrogen from whatever material it's embedded in. It's well known that if you crack water to make hydrogen+oxygen, and later reform the hydrogen+oxygen to make water again, you end up with a net deficit of energy. This comes from breaking the atomic bonds, and is true no matter where you get the hydrogen from. This means that any system you build around hydrogen will suck energy from elsewhere. Where are you going to get that energy?

Hydrogen storage The car companies seem to believe that Americans won't buy a car unless it gets 300 mile range and refuels within the five minutes (or less) you spend at a gas station. Hence, electric cars aren't suitable because they take hours to recharge, but you can imagine being able to fill a hydrogen tank within a couple minutes. The problem is that hydrogen tanks at 5,000 psi pressure in a car with a hydrogen fuel cell end up with a 100 mile range. To get a 300 mile range the pressure needs to be more like 15,000 psi. And the higher the psi (pounds per square inch), the greater the danger the tank presents (e.g. in a collision), and the more energy is required to pump the hydrogen to that pressure. One tank alternative exists that doesn't require high pressures, but it's made of solid metal that's able to absorb hydrogen, and the metal needs to be heated to 600 degrees centigrade to re-extract the hydrogen, and the metal itself is rather heavy.

Democrats have criticized the measure for failing to deal with gas-guzzling automobiles. They also oppose drilling in the Alaskan wildlife refuge -- an item that likely would be left out of the Senate's energy bill because it would attract a Democratic-led filibuster and could jeopardize passage of the legislation.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Dave Emory, politics conspiracy theorist

Dave Emory has been researching a peculiar line of reasoning for a couple decades, namely the continued existance of elements from Nazi Germany. His research draws from material published in mainstream newspapers, magazines and books. What he does is connect the dots which are otherwise separated too widely for the general public to make the connections themselves. The conclusion one draws from his research is that these elements from Nazi Germany are alive, well, and greatly influencing world events.

How could they have survived the fall of Nazi Germany in WW II? There's a few aspects to this as covered by his research. First is the Martin Bormann organization (Martin Bormann: Nazi in Exile) which secretly created control over a huge number of companies around the world, and funneled the wealth of Nazi Germany out of the country. It is through this quiet corporate control which these Nazi remnants are greatly influencing world events. The other aspect is collaboration with and protection by certain peoples in power in other countries, of particular interest here is the Bush Dynasty. Prescott Bush was deeply involved with funding Hitler beginning in his early rise to power, and was involved with the coverup of the control over some of the German corporations after WW II ended.

Perhaps, Dave draws too broad of a conclusion? Nazi's still in power? How can that be? Well, it's really for you to decide.

His work is broadcast freely on an elite collection of public radio stations (KKUP, WFMU and occasionally KFJC). The radio programs and copious notes are archived on these web sites:

Excerpts from Dave Emory's broadcast archive:

  • Trouble on Oiled Waters: Detailing various shenanigans over the decades around oil and U.S. electoral politics.
  • The Bush League - The Associates and Actions of the Georges Bush: Detailing the associates and some activities of the Bush family.
  • German Corporate Control over American Publishing: It's fairly well known that corporate control over the American media (news and otherwise) is devolving into a smaller and smaller circle of control. This circle of control, or locus of decision-making, means that a smaller and smaller group of people have control over what's said to the public through that media. What's interesting is that a large part of this ever-shrinking locus of control over the American media are German conglomerates who have ties to the Nazi past history of Germany. These same corporations, Bertlesmann especially, have recently made several moves to take over media distribution on the Internet via such portals as Barnes & Nobles and Napster. A particular thing to consider while reading this is: Are these moves he describes sinister attempts to control the thought of American people (via controlling their news sources), or is it just the normal power grabbing done by business leaders?

NOTE: These excerpts are the work of Dave Emory, and not the work of David Herron. He gives permission to republish or rebroadcast his work, and that is what I am doing. My contribution is to clean up the formatting, and make cross-referencing links to as many of the sources as I can. I do not agree with everything he says. I do find the information he presents to be well researched and thought provoking, even while disagreeing with some of his conclusions. As Dave says, do your own research, and make up your own mind.



Gonzales: CIA leak probe moving forward

Gonzales: CIA leak probe moving forward (Friday, April 15, 2005 Posted: 10:47 AM EDT (1447 GMT) CNN.COM)

The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity: A Diplomat's MemoirRemember that in the summer of 2003 Ambassador Joseph Wilson went public with allegations that the Bush Administration ignored his findings that Iraq had not been trying to buy Uranium. This allegation was one of the false cornerstones of the Bush Administration so-called justifications for the war we are now losing. In part of the resulting rancor against him, someone leaked to several journalists the fact that his wife, Valerie Plame, is a CIA agent working under cover.

Democratic members of the House Intelligence Committee wrote Gonzales on Thursday asking him to "provide an explanation as to why no charges have been brought" against government officials who leaked the name of Valerie Plame.

Note that revealing the identity of a secret agent is highly illegal, and possibly treasonous.

In response to the Democrats, Gonzales said he is confident that Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney from Chicago who is the lead prosecutor on the case, is "proceeding on a basis that he thinks is appropriate and that at the appropriate time the matter will come to a head."

Now, it's important to remember that Gonzales is the guy who wrote the memos that provided the screwy legal justification for the torture of prisoners in Iraq and Guantanamo and ghod knows elsewhere.

I ask you, just HOW can it possibly take this long? There was a small number of people who knew this information, most of them high level White House officials. And it is the White House officials who had the clear motive. So, obviously one of them did it. It ought to be a simple matter to come to the truth.

They are whitewashing this ...

Is invading your privacy?

Go to and click on the link named "Satellite" (upper-right-corner).

Next, type in your home address.

Now, apparently Open Maps, as Annalee Newitz is calling them, have peoples knickers twisted up. INVASION OF PRIVACY they are shouting.

Nonsense, I say. This service has already been available for years. All it's doing is showing you just how invasive the government spy satellites are. Because, the images Google are showing are nothing compared to the detail that's really available.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Should you want to blog anonymously ...

Blogging and Running Your Website Anonymously - An Introduction

It's a set of recommendations by someone who says:

I blog everyday. I blog about my company. I enjoy talking about stuff that could get me fired. The hot and sexy stuff that is dangerous is what draws tons of people to my blog everyday. By using the tools listed above (and a lot of common sense), I exercise my freedom to whine and moan and groan and complain. All in the safety of my own blog.

Sidelining Homeland Security's privacy chief

This is bordering on the bizarre, but it fits the pattern the Bush administration has followed. Said pattern is to, when filling an administrative post, to put someone in that post who has opinions and work history opposite to the posts intent.

For example, Opposing the nomination of Bolton as U.N. Ambassador, they are proposing as the U.N. Ambassador a man who famously criticizes the U.N. and openly questions whether it ought to exist.

Sidelining Homeland Security's privacy chief (April 11, 2005, 4:00 AM PT, By Declan McCullagh, CNET.COM) A part of the Department of Homeland Security is a privacy officer (Nuala O'Connor Kelly) charged with: "impressive-sounding tasks such as 'assuring' that new technologies do not erode privacy and 'evaluating' the impact of new government programs". Despite being officially hobbled by the lack of real power given to the job, Ms. Kelly also has a strange choice in deputies.

Homeland Security panel picks controversial chief (Published: April 6, 2005, 5:10 PM PDT, By Declan McCullagh, Staff Writer, CNET

The Department of Homeland Security's privacy board chose as its chairman Paul Rosenzweig, a conservative lawyer best known in technology circles for his defense of the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness project. Bowing to privacy concerns, Congress pulled the plug on the program two years ago.
In case you don't know what the TIA is, here's a little paper I researched and wrote a couple years ago. The idea is for the government intelligence agencies (or agency) to snoop on practically everything that happens. They would program computers to automate the snooping. The computers would be empowered with automated language translation, so that documents and voice conversations can be automagically translated to English. They would have software that looks for patterns, dangerous patterns presumably, but ones they deem worthy of tracking. The computers would recognize certain events, and when triggered it would send an alert message to a human intelligence officer. There's a lot more.

The project was officially shut down a couple years ago when the public became a little too informed about its existance and purpose. But the various aspects of the program have been quietly slipping into government programs, so that piece by piece "they" are building it anyway, regardless of the public qualms about invasion of privacy by the government.

And so now we learn that one of the participants in that project is now in charge of "enforcing" privacy.


"Global Warning", interview w/ James Howard

The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of the Oil Age, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-first CenturyI have in front of me an interview with James Howard, a longtime critic of urban sprawl and the innefficiencies associated with it. With his latest book, The Long Emergency, he has joined the chorus singing the dangers of the Peak Oil story.

This is a more rational version of the "we're going to run out of oil" scenario. A bunch of scientists, beginning with Oil Company Geologist Hubbert, have put together a most enlightening and alarming story. What they've done is make a picture of the oil available, and the production levels. Charted over time the picture is very alarming.

A historical perspective on the Age of Oil. (ASPO newsletter #35)

The ASPO web site ( has more detailed pictures available, but the important message is conveyed in this one very well. There will be a peak in oil production capacity, and it will happen sooner rather than later. This isn't a cliff that once the world hits the peak, there's no more oil. Instead it's more of a mountain like in the above picture. Once we hit the peak, oil supply begins to decline but its still available.

The demand for oil is inexorably growing. Not only is there the organic growth in demand from the industrialized countries, but there are several countries currently experiencing hyper growth as they industrialize. Most especially India and China, and between the two of them they have 2/3rds of the worlds population.

Consider some basic economics. What happens when there is continued demand for a product, but the supply for that product cannot expand to meet the demand?

Doesn't the law of supply/demand dictate that the price for must product rise?

Consider the effects on the U.S. and world economy of a rising price for oil?

The availability of abundant energy is interwoven with every part of our societies existance. We couldn't live in suburbia, far from our jobs, without cheap energy. We couldn't afford well lit or well heated homes, without cheap energy. We couldn't afford to let our computers run 24x7, without cheap energy. Cheap energy supplies us with everything from plastics (that we tend to use once, and throw away) to airplanes, and everything in-between.

But the energy was "cheap" because we thought the supply of oil was limitless. Well, my friends, that was a pack of lies told to us by the leaders.

James Howard Kunstler: We poured our national wealth into the construction of a living arrangement that has no future -- and the future is now here. The infrastructure of suburbia can be described as the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world. It was deficient and problematic as a human habitat even apart from the question of its sustainability. The way we live in America represents a tragic set of collective and individual choices we made at a particular point in history, the mid-to-late 20th century, when circumstances seemed to suggest there were no limits to our quest for comfort, convenience and leisure. These things turned out to be a poor basis for a value system and for an economy.

...The Germans and Brits are paying $5.50 a gallon and their societies are not collapsing. If they can handle $6 gas, why can't we?

The Europeans have very different ways of life and standards of living. They have cars but are not car-dependent, certainly not to the degree we are. They did not destroy their towns and cities. We did. They did not destroy their public transit. We did. They did not destroy local agriculture or the value-added activities associated with it. We did. If Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia got bumped off by a Wahabi maniac tomorrow and the West was put under a new oil embargo, the Europeans would still be able to get around. We would not.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Opposing the nomination of Bolton as U.N. Ambassador

It's been curious this trend in the Bush Administration to put people in charge of organizations they had previously slammed.

Case in point is this Bolton fellow who had famously been slamming the United Nations for years. Yet, GW Bush has nominated him to be the U.N. Ambassador. Curious, that.

But there is interesting opposition happening in the nomination hearings.

Bolton's Fitness for UN Post Challenged at Hearing ( April 12 (Bloomberg) )

Carl Ford, former head of the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research ... Bolton ``abuses his authority and power'' over subordinates. Ford, who described himself as a ``loyal Republican,'' said Bolton's conduct was one of the more memorable moments in his 30-year career in public service.

``Secretary Bolton chose to reach five or six levels below him in the bureaucracy, bring an analyst into his office and give him a tongue lashing,'' Ford said. ``He's a quintessential kiss up, kick down kind of guy'' whose conduct ``brings real question to my mind about his suitability for high office.''

... Ford said Bolton sought to have State Department analyst Christian Westermann and an unidentified CIA analyst fired after they refused to approve a Bolton speech in 2002 that they said contained unsupported intelligence about Cuba's biological weapons capability. Bolton was ordered to revise the speech.

... Barack Obama, an Illinois Democrat, said the Westermann issue is important given intelligence failures surrounding the decision to war with Iraq in 2003.

The testimony suggests that Bolton ``is intimidating intelligence officers so that the facts will fit his positions, which is exactly what the debate was about with respect to the Iraqi war,'' Obama said. ``It is troubling in the extreme for us to brush that aside as something that is not significant.''

Sunday, April 10, 2005

"In theocracy we trust"

Earlier I asked How did DeLay get to his post?, because I was incredulous over a demand by Senator DeLay that Congress reassert its "authority over Congress".

I don't know which country he lives in, but the one I live in there is a separation of powers, and the Legislative, Judicial and Administrative branches of government are separate and distinct.

In any case, the full story is worse than I could have imagined. Because DeLay's comments were part of a convention bent on reestablishing the U.S. as a Theocracy.

In theocracy they trust (By Michelle Goldberg, April 11, 2005, SALON.COM)

The article puts this vision forward

Having won control of two branches of the federal government, the activists of the religious right have come to see the courts as the intolerable obstacle thwarting their dream of a reborn Christian nation. They believe in a revisionist history, taught in Christian schools and spread through Christian media, which claims biblical law as the source of the Constitution. Thus any ruling that contradicts their theology seems to them to be de facto unconstitutional, and its enforcement tyrannical.

Some believe that the problem can be rectified by replacing liberal judges with conservative ones. Others, noting that even judges appointed by Republicans often rule against them, have become convinced that they must destroy the federal judiciary itself. Thus, ideas offered at the conference ranged from ending the filibuster and impeaching all but the most right-wing judges to abolishing all federal courts below the Supreme Court altogether. At least one panelist dropped coy hints about murder.

And, we see that Stalin is their role model:

What to do about communist judges in thrall to Beelzebub? Vieira said, "Here again I draw on the wisdom of Stalin. We're talking about the greatest political figure of the 20th century…He had a slogan, and it worked very well for him whenever he ran into difficulty. 'No man, no problem.'"

Fortunately the conference was only 200 people. But they are influential, and we can expect the Republican Party will end up pushing some of the agenda.

Here's a little more about their point of view:

Christian Reconstructionism calls for a system that is both radically decentralized, with most government functions devolved to the county level, and socially totalitarian. It calls for the death penalty for homosexuals, abortion doctors and women guilty of "unchastity before marriage," among other moral crimes. To be fair, Phillips told me that "just because a crime is capital doesn't mean you must impose the death penalty. It means it's an option." Public humiliation, he said, could sometimes be used instead.

Indeed, the whole article paints a very scary picture of a fundamentalist Christian government bent on stomping real hard on any activity that doesn't fit within their narrow minded version of reality. And, whats worse, is that they intend to use the Bible as the source for their authority, claiming the Bible to be the "Word of God" when in truth it is anything but that.

Count Every Vote, because every vote COUNTS

Kerry cites voter intimidation examples (Sunday, April 10, 2005 Posted: 7:37 PM EDT (2337 GMT) CNN.COM)

I suppose he's risking accusations of sour grapes. However, John Kerry appeared at a League of Womens Voters event and said:

"Last year too many people were denied their right to vote, too many who tried to vote were intimidated," the Massachusetts senator said at an event sponsored by the state League of Women Voters.

"There is no magic wand. No one person is going to stand up and suddenly say it's going to change tomorrow. You have to do that," he said.

As I've previously covered (look backwards in the 2004 election category) the 2004 election did have quite a few irregularities. And despite the denials of the Republican camp, the irregularities were at their behest, and performed by people in close cahoots with the Republican leadership.

Some Jews bent on ... what? ... armagedden?

Both the Jewish and Muslim religions preach forgiveness and acceptance of others. So why can't they just get along?

Here's an example:

Protests target Jerusalem holy sites (Sunday, April 10, 2005 Posted: 10:21 AM EDT (1421 GMT) , CNN.COM)

The story talks of hardline Jews in Israel who are trying to attack the Al Aqsa mosque and other buildings. Jerusalem is the 3rd most sacred site to Islam, and it is this site in Jerusalem that is sacred to Islam, Jews, and Christianity. To the Hebrew and Christians, this is the Temple Mount, the place where King David built the Temple, where the Temple was rebuilt, and there's a tradition about trying to rebuild the Temple on the Temple Mount.

The problem is that Islam reveres the same site as the place where Mohammed ascended to heaven.

A visit to the site in September 2000 by then-opposition leader Sharon led to rioting that escalated into more than four years of violence. Jews revere the Temple Mount as the site of their biblical temples, while Muslims tradition says the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven from the spot.

The current wave of violence in Israel was sparked, as it says, when Sharon visited the place. One guy visiting that site sparked over four years of violence, so think what would happen if the hardliners were to succeed with this plan:

Security officials say they fear hardliners will attack the hilltop shrine, home to the Al Aqsa and Dome of the Rock mosques, with the aim of blocking the Gaza pullout. Possible scenarios include the firing of shoulder-launched missiles at the mosque.

Also in the article is discussed the dismantling of settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. These were established illegally, but apparently with some backing from the Israeli government. These settlements are an encroachment on the Palestinians, and is surely part of what's incited the violence.

But, for the purpose of stopping that pullout, the hardliners would wish to attack the Al Aqsa shrine? Don't they realize what kind of war that would unleash?

How about this? These people pretend to be religiously minded, and following their spiritual traditions. How about they study up on forgiveness and the concept of loving their neighbors?

Friday, April 8, 2005

How did DeLay get to his post?

Apparently Senator DeLay recently made a statement about how "independant" judges are running amok and that Congress should crack down on them.

I don't know where Senator DeLay went to school, nor how much of the Constitution he has studied, but there is this core principle to American Politics known as the separation of powers. The Legislative, Administrative and Judicial branches of government are separate but equal.

Congress simply cannot "crack down" on the Judicial branch, because that would be a violation of the separation of powers.

It is Senator DeLay that is running amok, and perhaps it is he that ought to be cracked down upon. But, then, it is he who is under strain from allegations of impropriety circling around him and his cohorts.

After DeLay Remarks, Bush Says He Supports 'Independent Judiciary' ( By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK , Published: April 9, 2005, NYTIMES.COM)

Congress may be backing off on privatizing social security

GW Bush has been proposing a partial privatization of social security, under the fiction that such a move will save the program. Setting up private accounts will do nothing to save social security, especially as it would take money out of the system. All it would do is give a huge handout to Wall Street (in the form of increased transactions, hence transaction fees) and as I've pointed out before, the Bush family has been beholden for years to Wall Street moguls.

There's a curious article on CNN.COM that sounds like the Senate Republicans may be backing off from the privatization in order to find a way to a bipartisan bill that will save social security.

Private accounts might be put on hold (Friday, April 8, 2005 Posted: 9:38 AM EDT (1338 GMT) CNN.COM)

The phrase "private accounts" is Washington-speak for the privatization proposal.

Here's the key:

Several GOP officials said Thursday that Republican leaders discussed the possibility privately this week, recognizing that unified Democratic opposition to the accounts has so far stalled efforts to advance the president's top domestic priority.

At the same time, these officials said GOP leaders were wary of leaving the impression they intend to abandon the president's proposal to allow younger workers to invest a portion of their payroll taxes independently.

In the end, leaders remain determined to deliver what Bush wants, they added.

"The attempt ... has always been to find Democrats to come on board with a bipartisan plan, and what has been stopping this is the issue of personal accounts," said one official familiar with the deliberations.

This set of conditions seems self-contradictory. GW has said repeatedly he wants the private accounts (to privatize the system). So if the Republican Senate leaders are planning to shelve the private accounts idea, then how do they intend to deliver what Bush wants?

To support their call for an overhaul of the program, they cite forecasts that without action, the Social Security trust funds will be depleted in 2041 and all benefits will be reduced.

This is one of the problems with the proposal. To make a prediction that far out into the future is sheer guesswork. How can they, with a straight face, make such a prediction?

EFF's guide to anonymous blogging

I have mixed feelings about total anonymity. While I'm alarmed by the massive intrusions on privacy going on around us in our society, anonymity is also the refuge of rascals.

For example, one thing that makes the virus problem on MS Windows so insane is the easy anonymity with which the virii can be distributed. If there were strong accountability in the email system then virus writers, spammers, etc, would think twice or thrice about distributing their "wares".

On the other hand, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) clearly sees this differently.

How to Blog Safely (About Work or Anything Else) (Published April 6, 2005 - EFF.ORG)

Here is their warning:

If you blog, there are no guarantees you'll attract a readership of thousands. But at least a few readers will find your blog, and they may be the people you'd least want or expect. These include potential or current employers, coworkers, and professional colleagues; your neighbors; your spouse or partner; your family; and anyone else curious enough to type your name, email address or screen name into Google or Feedster and click a few links.

The point is that anyone can eventually find your blog if your real identity is tied to it in some way. And there may be consequences. Family members may be shocked or upset when they read your uncensored thoughts. A potential boss may think twice about hiring you. But these concerns shouldn't stop you from writing. Instead, they should inspire you to keep your blog private, or accessible only to certain trusted people.

Now, I don't know about you, but for me blogging is a way to publish articles and writing. It's not necessarily "uncensored thoughts".

Their general recommendation? Blog anonymously. That would mean, find a vehicle through which you can blog without giving away any identifying factors of yourself.

In practice being totally anonymous is going to be difficult. For example if you register a domain name, you must provide name and address information. So if you blog on your own domain, like I'm doing, then someone need only look up the domain registration to find out who it is writing. But the EFF kindly points to a couple of anonymyzing services.

One of their recommendations is really weird. Namely, to make your content ungooglable. Okay, strange, because to my eyes you want google to find you because then your writings are useful because they are findable.

It's as if the writers of these recommendations believe a) that everybody who blogs is writing stream of conscious uncensored thoughts, that 3) those uncensored thoughts will offend people, q) that offended people will fire or shun the blogger.

I believe that the place to write uncensored thoughts is in a diary you keep private somewhere. They don't belong being plastered on the Internet for the world to see. That still leaves a lot of room for blog usefulness, as a blog is merely a web site where the articles are arranged in chronological order. For my purposes it is perfectly fine to expose who I am, though I am careful of exposing things like my address or phone number.

On the other hand, a "whistleblower" might find an anonymous blog a convenient avenue to blow their whistle in safety. There are many whose life purpose involves exposing information that the authorities in charge would find dangerous. If they had to identify themselves in order to publish the information, they would be threatened. In such cases the anonymizing services are entirely appropriate.

Turning neocons green

The energy policies being promoted by the Bush Administration are very disfunctional. GW says he wants "energy independance", but to get there he wants more domestic drilling for oil (ANWR), ignoring the fact that domestic oil is practically nonexistant. If he were to tie the country's future on domestic oil, then this country has little future.

The reality is that the world we enjoy and all the richness of our lives, all of that is utterly dependant on gushing quantities of energy available all the time. This in turn means a dependancy on the fossil fuels, such as oil, that provide the energy. At least, this is true under the current way we gain the energy that drives the economy.

There are several ways to get the energy. We don't have to create continued reliance on fossil fuels, and the myriad of problems associated with them.

Turning neocons green
: (By Amanda Griscom Little, Salon.COM, April 7, 2005)

This article is an interview with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who offers a "geo-green" policy framed to be appealing to the most hardline of the neocon's.

Here's a few highlights.

I would say that geo-green is the natural successor to neocon. The neocons basically believe in using American military power to drive the democracy agenda in the Middle East, and that, idealistically speaking, was the purpose of the invasion of Iraq. The reality is we do not have the resources to do that again -- not in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan or anywhere. Yet we have a fundamental interest in promoting political and economic reform in that part of the world so people have better governance, more opportunities, and less frustration. Like the president, I want to see that political reform agenda go forward.

I disagree we have a fundamental reason to care about the governance in the Middle East. I think that historically the reason the West (the U.S. and Britain) have been meddling with the Middle East is so that we could get their oil. Lacking a need for their oil, then we lack a reason to meddle with them, and they would also lack a reason to hate us for meddling with them.

But his point of lacking the resources for another war (Iran, Syria, etc) is interesting. What's interesting is there are two ways of promoting change in the world. One is the Big Stick approach, where we say "Hah! We're the biggest, baddest, we have the strongest army, and we'll pound you into submission", which is the Neocon agenda for the world.

Another approach would be more cooperative.

Which approach would lead to more peace in the world?

This is about leadership. The hallmark of George Bush's presidency is that he's never asked Americans, let alone his own base, to do anything hard.

Yup, that's interesting. I suppose fighting a war is hard enough? In any case he goes on to equate a proper quest for energy independance, that is one based on developing the technology for "alternate energy", with Kennedy's quest for the Moon. Kennedy left a lasting legacy, whereas Bush is merely saddling us with debt and a pissed off world.

The Republican Party is much greener than George Bush or Dick Cheney. Even evangelicals are increasingly speaking out about the need for us to protect God's green Earth. If you're obsessed with the right to life, you have to be obsessed with sustaining the environment -- that is also God's creation. He didn't create human beings to live in parking lots.

I really like this point. LOTS.

Resources mentioned in the interview:

The Geo-Green Alternative (By Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times, January 30, 2005, Davos, Switzerland)

Geo-Greening by Example (By Thomas L. Friedman, March 27, 2005, The New York Times)

The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century
( by Thomas L Friedman )

Energy Future Coalition

Thursday, April 7, 2005

Privatizing social security

GW Bush is proposing the privatization of the social security system. That is, he's daring to touch the third rail of american politics. But this was highly telegraphed, as he's been talking about it for years such as during the 2000 election cycle.

He's proposing this as a way to save social security, as if social security needs it. Thing is, the system needs no savings as it is. A couple small tweaks to the existing system would be enough to keep the existing system solvent, so therefore no need to radically change it.

Of course we can expect nothing less than lies from this President, so we shouldn't be surprised he's lying about the purpose for privatizing social security.

For example, if the privatized social security had lots of participants, it would increase the amount of stock trading. Hence, it would lead to lots of fees heading to Wall Street. And remember that GW Bush's great-grandfather was a Wall Street Mogul. Who was he? Why, Herbert Walker. That name ought to be familiar, as GW's fathers name is George Herbert Walker Bush, and his name is George Walker Bush. Not only was his ancestor a Wall Street Mogul, his grandfather, Prescott Bush, worked for a Wall Street Mogul, and both he and his father were repeatedly bailed out of business failures by Wall Street Moguls.

As Michael Moore asked in his film, "Who's your daddy?"
Fahrenheit 9/11
(and, in this case, the answer is a bit literal)

But, I started this wanting to talk about an article I just read.

There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos : A Work of Political SubversionThe Reality of Social Security Privatization (By Jim Hightower, AlterNet. Posted April 6, 2005)

What he's done is analyze what's happened in places where private retirement accounts were established. Several U.S. states have done this, as has Chile.

In every case he claims two things. First that the programs turned out to be highly unpopular, once the people saw the actual benefits. Second, that the governments in question had to pour in megabucks to prop up the systems.

I'm sure the Conservatives, if they were being honest, wouldn't want to be pouring in megabucks to prop up any system.


Tuesday, April 5, 2005

Patriot Act's secret searches used 108 times

Here's why I'm concerned about the PATRIOT act provisions:

Patriot Act's secret searches used 108 times

(Published: April 5, 2005, 7:44 AM PDT - By Declan McCullagh - Staff Writer, CNET

It's because, under the PATRIOT act, the police (FBI, etc) now have the power to secretly invade your house and take whatever they want.

Section 213 of the Patriot Act authorizes so-called sneak-and-peek entries in cases where alerting someone that a surreptitious search took place may have an "adverse result" on a police investigation. Eventually the owner of the home or office is supposed to be notified, though the law says that deadline can be "extended" without limit if police make a good case for it.

Uh huh, and this is supposed to make me feel warm and cozy that the police can do this to me?

The PATRIOT act renewal hearings have started

Attorney general defends Patriot Act
(Tuesday, April 5, 2005 Posted: 11:44 AM EDT (1544 GMT) - CNN.COM)

It's probably important to remember that this man, the current Attorney General, previously wrote the memo's that provided the screwy legal schmegal justifications for the strange imprisonment system used at Guantanamo and the torture in the Iraqi prisons.

FBI Director Robert Mueller also asked lawmakers to expand the bureau's ability to obtain records without first asking a judge.

I'm sorry, but the constitution has protections against unreasonable search and seizure. The system we've had in place for a long time involves judicial review for a good reason. It's so that the police (FBI, etc) don't get too overzealous.

"It's important that these authorities remain available," Gonzales told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Of course they see it this way. They're the police, and it is to protect us against overzealous police that the protections have been in place. But can you ever trust the police to have the peoples best interest at heart? Aren't they always going to want powers that make their job easier?

Monday, April 4, 2005

Celebrate? Parts of PATRIOT act due to expire?

Parts of the hated PATRIOT act are due to expire on December 31, 2005 (this year). It's too early to celebrate as there's a a long trek ahead to ensure that they do expire. See, Congress is beginning debate this week over what to do about it, and part of the debate is over extending the provisions set to expire.

See here:

The next chapter in the Patriot Act

(April 4, 2005, 4:00 AM PT; By Declan McCullagh; CNET News)

The CNET News article above has a great wealth of information.

In case you, like almost everybody, including Congress, did not read or do not understand the PATRIOT act, here's a great place to start:
EPIC USA PATRIOT Act Page as well as the
text of the PATRIOT Act.

In particular the CNET article draws on this EPIC resource: USA Patriot Act Sunset: Provisions That Expire December 31, 2005 (PDF), CRS Report for Congress RL32186, January 2, 2004.

There is a select group of people debating this at

Sunday, April 3, 2005

San Francisco to regulate political blogging?

On slashdot we have an article claiming that San Francisco is going to regulate blogging. Namely, that a new ordinance would require bloggers to register with the city Ethics commission. This follows on the heels of a couple reports that the Federal Election Commission wants to regulate blogging. Fortunately in the San Francisco case the claim is overblown.

The source is a posting on the Personal Democracy Forum, San Francisco May Regulate Blogging which refers to an ordinance filing. Apparently Michael Bassik didn't read the ordinance, or else wishes to blow it out of proportion for some ends of his own.

The ordinance says over and over, that the ones who must register with the city ethics commission are those who are either paying, or receiving money, for electioneering communictions.

How this would apply to a blogger is that if the blogger is writing about candidates in an election. Hence, they would be doing electioneering communications. NOTE that the ordinance doesn't mention blogging by name.

But the ordinance applies only when there is an exchange of money meant to pay for that electioneering communication. Which is very fair, because it is only appropriate that payments for electioneering communications be made clear. When a political message goes out, we ought to know who paid for that message, because part of interpreting a message is knowing who it is that's speaking. This applies to blogging as well as handing leaflets out at the train station, putting door hangers on peoples front doors, running television advertising, and more.