June 12, 2009 archive

Out of Outrage, Dealing with Disgust

Being a politically aware member of American society is reflected perfectly by a bumpersticker:

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I first became confused at the tender age of nine, watching the Viet Nam war and the protests that accompanied it, outrage quickly followed. It peaked watching coverage of the Police Riot at the Democratic Convention.

Since then….despite frequent breaks, and even a long period of consciously removing myself from politics and as much as possible, American society….my ‘condition’ has not really changed.

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Four at Four

  1. The Guardian reports the U.S. says it will not demand binding carbon cuts from China. Instead of binding cuts, “Jonathan Pershing, head of the US delegation in Bonn, said developing nations – seeking to grow their economies and alleviate poverty – would instead be asked to commit to other actions”, including “sting energy efficiency standards and improving the take-up of renewable energy”.

    “Only developed nations, including the US, would be expected to guarantee cuts… China and the US are the two biggest polluters in the world, making their positions on the deal critical.” China has called on “the US to cut emissions by 2020 by 40% on 1990 levels.”

    While the Obama administration may be able to negotiate a climate treaty, without requiring binding cuts by China and other ‘developing’ nations, I am not optimistic of seeing such a treaty ratified by the U.S. Senate.

  2. The NY Times reports As wind power grows, so does the push to tear down dams in the Pacific NorthWest. The Bonneville Power Administration transmission system has quadrupled the amount of wind power “in the last three years and is expected to double again in another two. The turbines are making an electricity system with low carbon emissions even greener – already, in Seattle, more than 90 percent of the power comes from renewable sources.”

    Environmental groups contend that the Bonneville Power Administration’s shift to wind turbines buttresses their case for tearing down dams in the agency’s territory, particularly four along the lower Snake River in Washington State that helped decimate one of North America’s great runs of wild salmon.

    Bonneville wants to keep all the dams, arguing that they not only provide cheap power but they also make an ideal complement to large-scale installation of wind power. When the wind slows and power production drops, the agency argues, it can compensate quickly by telling the Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation, which operate the dams, to release more water from reservoirs to turn the huge generators. When the wind picks up, dam operations can be slowed.

    The dams help alleviate a need for natural-gas-fired power plants, which are used in other regions as a backup power source when the wind stops blowing, but which release carbon dioxide that contributes to global warming.

Four at Four continues with Amazon destruction and gray hair.

The Wisdom Of Conscious Suffering

When I had cancer, a close friend asked if I ever wondered: why me? I told her that I didn’t. I told her that given that one in three Americans will, at some point, be diagnosed with cancer, I felt why not me? Cancer happens. It’s sometimes random. It happened to me. There was neither rhyme nor reason. It just did.

A different friend recently asked the same about a close friend of mine, who was just killed in an auto accident. A speeding semi veered into his car, in a national park, in Uganda, killing him and leaving his wife widowed for the second time and seriously injured. My friend wondered: why? Why him? Why her?

Another friend asked how I took the news. If I tried to think my way through it. If I tried to look for cosmic explanations, or if I was angry at the Universe, or if I was trying to look for silver linings. I wasn’t. My friend wanted to make sure that I wasn’t trying to think my way through it, because he wanted to make sure I was allowing myself to feel my way through it. To allow the pain to wash over me, and through me. Which is the only real way to respond to emotional trauma. Did I allow myself to cry? I certainly did. And I have, off and on, for days.

Sun Tzu: “Treat the captives well, and care for them.”

     Treat the captives well, and care for them.

    All the soldiers taken must be cared for with magnanimitty and sincerity so that they may be used by us.

    This is called ‘winning a battle and becoming stronger.’

    Hence what is essential in war is victory, not prolonged operations. . .

                               –  The Art of War

    Military contractors do not seek victory, but, “prolonged operations.”

    Instead of breaking minds and bodies in order to win hearts and minds, maybe we should have read more history.

    I have recently read Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War”. Although this book was written over 2300 years ago and in a time before drone missiles, military contractors and Military Industrial Complexes, I feel that it is a good book to read for everyone who would like to learn the age old and time tested concepts of military strategy.

NewsFlash: First Results from Iran, Mousavi Wins! UPDATE!

Just over the wire and FAR from official, reports are that Ahmadinejad has been ousted.

The new (maybe) President of Iran:

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Some are citing the Obama effect, everyone is cautioning that Khamenei’ is still the real ruler…

But the real question is….

Who will America focus our need for an Evile Enemy on NOW?

UPDATE: Now Ahmadinejad is being projected…by the State media and State election authorities….that he controls as President, lol, as being far ahead.

Iow….tune in in about 48 hours for preliminary results, and at least a month for final results!

White House Threatening Progressive Reps. over War Supp. Vote

Well, they sure know how to play hardball with Progressives over at the White House:

The White House is playing hardball with Democrats who intend to vote against the supplemental war spending bill, threatening freshmen who oppose it that they won’t get help with reelection and will be cut off from the White House, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) said Friday.

We’re not going to help you. You’ll never hear from us again,” Woolsey said the White House is telling freshmen.

HuffPo: White House Browbeats Dem Freshmen On War Money: “You’ll Never Hear From Us Again”

More, after the fold.

Wild Wild Left Radio #23 Iran, Right-wing Violence and Health Care

Join Ed Encho, Gottlieb, and I tonight at 6pm EDT on Wild Wild Left Radio, via BlogtalkRadio.

Tonight we will be discussing the election in Iran, The Holocaust Museum violence (and the rise of right-wing violence in general) and attempt to make a dent in the Health Care debate. If time, we will op/ed on the douchebaggery of Lieberman and Graham, and discuss Rev. Wrights rights and wrongs.

Don’t be surprised if the shoe-ish conspiracy of Obama’s loafers comes up. Heh.


Please call with any questions you may have, or respectful commentary.

The call in number is 646-929-1264

Listen to The Wild Wild Left on internet talk radio

The live chat link will be added around 5:15.

Come On Take the Money and Run

The well respected teacher, broker Jim Sinclair has been mentoring investors since 1977. Mr. Sinclair is a level headed, cautious investor void of the alarmist mentality. So when he says “Take the money and Run” you might want to pay attention.  

[..]You know that information that comes to me has been reliable. You also know that the entire purpose of all of working here at JSMineset has been to get you through this safely. You also know that if we had not been here hundreds of thousands of people now holding gold would not be.

So please pay attention to the following.

I have heard rumors for some time, but today it was confirmed to me, that the Canadian mint’s present problems are not unique and that other depositories (vaults) have had an army of auditors descend on them in the last two weeks. Some of these depositories have names so famous that it would scare the hell out of you. The repercussions would be drastic if they turn out to be troubled.

I suggest to you now that you take delivery of all gold held in vaults and depositories on your behalf, but this time even from the most prestigious.

[..]

What made Mr Sinclair issue this statement? In April a “discrepancy” in the Canadian Mints books turned up.

External auditors are investigating a discrepancy between the mint’s 2008 financial accounting of its precious metals holdings and the physical stockpile at the plant on Sussex Drive in Ottawa.

The mystery raises possibilities from sloppy bookkeeping to a gold heist.

Officials with the commercial Crown corporation are saying little and refuse to confirm the amount and value of the unaccounted for gold, silver and palladium.

“An unprecedented demand in gold in 2008 has led to an unreconciled difference between the mint’s financial statements and the physical count of precious metals. There’s a difference there that we’re looking into,” Christine Aquino, mint spokeswoman, said in a prepared statement Tuesday in response to questions from the Ottawa Citizen.

“We’re taking this very seriously. We’re conducting a thorough review and we’re expected to have that completed within the month. (It) includes the analysis of precious metal by-products and financial data. We’ve allocated all necessary resources to this review.”

She stressed police have not been called into what mint officials consider an internal matter. She would not say whether the gold and other metals in question were part of the refinery and bullion operation or one of the mint’s three other business lines: producing Canadian circulating coins, designing and producing coinage for foreign countries, and numismatics.

“We’re looking at many different angles right now,” she said.

That was April. Well low and behold it is now June and the

Mint’s conclusion?
Call in the Mounties!

OTTAWA – On government orders, the Royal Canadian Mint has called for a criminal probe into as much as $20 million in unaccounted-for gold and precious metals at its Sussex Drive headquarters.

The looming police investigation comes eight months after the Crown corporation first learned it had lost track of the riches last October. The Citizen revealed the mystery last week.

The call for a police investigation is the third effort to determine whether theft or an accounting error is behind an “unreconciled difference” between the mint’s 2008 financial records and its physical stockpile of gold and other precious metals.

An internal “precious metals reconciliation” project was initiated by the mint last fall. In March, with that reckoning apparently no nearer to finding answers, an external audit was commissioned.

Security at these facilities is unsurpassed. So where did it go? This will continue to play out in the coming weeks. What is interesting (and yet alarming) is … it doesn’t appear to be an isolated incident, at least according to Jim Sinclair.  

Limbaugh admits he’s a Liberal

Last night on Hardball I watched a clip of Rush “anal cyst” Limbaugh contorting facts until they were unrecognizable, which is usually not surprising, but for the blatant hypocrisy of the direction he was going.

He was trying very hard to convince his audience of drooling idiots that the elderly Annapolis resident that spent his life on the extreme political fringes even further to the right of the Ku Klux Klan was actually, you guessed it, a lefty liberal pinko Berkenstock wearing Prius driving hippy.

He made this convoluted and dubious argument in part by stating that James von Brunn, the 88 year old white supremacist and vile racist that went to the Holocaust Museum exercising his Second Amendment Right by killing an innocent employee was a liberal because he opposed the nomination of John McCain.

That’s right, the same Rush Limbaugh that opposed the nomination of John McCain.

Top tricks of Obama’s Ministry of EconomicTruth

Faced with a slide into public economic madness, I have taken up the analysis of collective irrationality as a form of therapy. Herewith I offer a convenient summary of the new and improved Orwellian methods America’s Ministry of Truth applies to economic statistics under the Obama Administration:

1. Cherry picking. If you have three negative numbers on employment and one slightly positive one, you tout the positive one and ignore the negatives.

2. Making data out of noise. Since the self-deluded citizenry doesn’t apply the concept of statistical margin of error, any positive fractional improvement, like a .3% improvement in consumer confidence or unemployment numbers can be represented as a “turnaround” or an occasion for celebration.

3. Quiet negative “revisions.” Almost every month, the government employment statistics are revised in a manner that makes them less positive. This is not a coincidence.

4. Promotion of amnesia. Important and highly-touted programs, like PPIP, are made to “disappear” from public consciousness when they fail.

5. Moving goalposts. Can’t control an exploding deficit? Just set your goal to reduce it by “half” at a date that constantly moves into the future. Don’t want to mark bad assets to market? Mark them to whatever “model” makes them look good.

6. Magic hats. Need to come up with a few hundred thousand jobs every month to take the sting off depression-level job losses? Just cook up an unverifiable jobs generator, like the BLS “birth/death” model that hallucinates jobs out of invisible new businesses. Hey presto! Unemployment is down again.

What upsets me most about all this shoddy behavior is that it is tolerated and encouraged after it has been repeatedly and thoroughly documented by journalists, economists, academics, and bloggers. Any informed citizen knows about the deceptions of our Ministry of Truth, and any curious citizen could learn about them in 30 minutes of Google searching. For the serious investor, $175 a year is the cost of unfalsified economic data from www.shadowstats.com. But the public much prefers the MOT product: cheerful lies.

Let us be very clear about this. Handsome, intelligent, and earnest President Barak Obama presides over an administration that knowingly prepares and distributes false information about the US economy in order to provide political and financial advantages to the people who put him in power. A nation of liars has placed the most attractive and persuasive available liar in charge of its government.

Down and Out in Shah Mansoor

Kathy Kelly (kathy@vcnv.org) and Dan Pearson (dan@vcnv.org) are co-coordinators of Voices for Creative Nonviolence (www.vcnv.org).  With Gene Stoltzfus and Razia Ahmed, they are traveling in Pakistan.  This report is posted at their request.

by Kathy Kelly and Dan Pearson

In Pakistan’s Swabi district, a bumpy road leads to Shah Mansoor, a small village surrounded by farmland. Just outside the village, uniform size tents are set up in hundreds of rows. The sun bores down on the Shah Mansoor camp which has become a temporary home to thousands of displaced Pakistanis from the Swat area. In the stifling heat, the camp’s residents sit idly, day after day, uncertain about their future. They spoke with heated certainty, though, about their grievances.  

As soon as we stepped out of the car, men and children approached us. They had all arrived from Mingora, the main city of Swat, 15 days prior. One young man, a student, told us that bombing and shelling had increased in their area, but, due to a government imposed curfew, they weren’t allowed to leave their homes. Suddenly, the Pakistani Army warned them to leave within four hours or they would be killed. With the curfew lifted long enough for them to get out of Mingora, they joined a mass exodus of people and walked for three days before reaching this camp.

After being assigned to a section of the camp coordinated by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees(UNHCR), they were provided with tents and plastic mats. So far, 554 tents are set up in this section, with an average of 6 – 10 people living in each tent.  

Albany circus maximus

For those not familiar with the issue, the New York State Senate is having a collective hissy fit because two of it’s Democratic members, Pedro Espada Jr. (“R for hire”, “Bronx on alternate Tuesdays”) and Hiram Monserrate (“Who’s got more money and power to wave at me?”, Queens), both respectively under investigation for dalliances outside the law have jumped the aisle, sold what’s left of their tattered souls and become Republicans.

The reason outlined by the NY Times is apparently that Tom Golisano, a billionaire who supposedly financed State Majority Leader Smith and several other Democrats into office “wasn’t getting what he paid for”, so in turn he worked to woo these two turncoats across the aisle.

While news comes out that Monserrate apparently hit his female partner in the face with a broken bottle, the Times details Espada’s issues as somewhat more serious:

Mr. Espada has been fined more than $60,000 for ignoring state law requiring disclosure of campaign contributions. A nonprofit organization that he ran for decades, Soundview HealthCare Network, is being investigated by the attorney general on suspicion of having misappropriated funds. And the Bronx district attorney is investigating whether he lives in the Bronx district he represents.

The dismissive term being applied to this situation by most of the press is “the circus in Albany”, with the New York Post even sending a person dressed as a clown. The rest of the story is a bit more insidious and concerns end game machinations which will attempt to put Republicans back in power state wide.

With his fragile coalition, Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) is positioning his party for the 2010 State Senate races that could make or break it in New York for the foreseeable future.

The reason: Whoever controls the legislature after 2010 will help draw the boundaries of congressional and legislative districts. And with the Democratic enrollment edge growing fast, Republicans need to help draw those district lines to have any chance of remaining a relevant statewide force.

One reason many observers say that Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) is seriously looking at a run for the U.S. Senate, Levy said, is the fear that if Democrats control redistricting after 2010, it may be easier for him to win election statewide than in his own district.

More here…

Since I live in that fearmongering creep’s district, currently suffering under the weight of his cack-handed misappropriation of our tax dollars away from local interests and into the hands of corrupt DoD contractors and their cronies, that is a very, very real fear for him to have. Next to Bush himself, Peter King is mostly responsible for the continued existence of the completely useless Department of Homeland Security – an organization that was pushed into existence by the Bush regime after 9/11 and packed chock full of compliant Bush cronies and boondogglers to circumvent the legitimate operations of the other intelligence agencies, and to otherwise be yet another flea sucking blood out of the asses of Bush’s dogs of war.

King’s current district, NY-3, has been carefully carved out of Nassau County to include some of the richest neighborhoods IN THE NATION. He panders exclusively to the interests – and carefully cultivated fears – of the nation’s New York based right wing power elite. He ignores everyone else, and the ONLY reason he can because of the way his district is structured.

I’ve never voted for the man in my life and I never will. I went to directly lobby him in DC as a member of CodePink and he didn’t even have the guts to meet with me face to face, but as a Bush enabler he’s sent many a far better man and woman than he will ever be to their deaths across the sea.

We don’t need any more Bush dinosaurs, and they are not yet gone nor forgotten. They may be dying the death of the cornered rat, but you don’t want to be getting to close to the corners they’re in unless you’re prepared to deal with lots of fang and claw. That’s how it is in Nassau County, and that’s how it is in Albany, and indeed that’s how it is in other select corners of the nation.

Not a circus. A circus maximus – and we’re running short on bread around here, too.

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