Help Send Three Kossacks to Congress

As many of you know, three members of the netroots community are running for Congress. We all talk the talk. They’re daring to walk the walk. All face uphill battles, but with a little luck, lots of hard work, and your help, all three can win.

We’re coming to the end of the quarter, for filing campaign contributions. A late rush is always helpful, not only for the obvious reasons, but for the buzz it creates. They can all also use volunteers and cyber-volunteers. Please do what you can, and do it by Sunday. Thanks!

Here are some diaries about our three candidates, plus links to their campaign webpages, ActBlue pages, and volunteer sign-up pages:

Jerry Northington for Congress- DE-AL

His Daily Kos page: possum

My introductory diary: (DE-AL) Kossack Jerry Northington (possum) for Congress!

We’re used to politicians who posture and spin, and whose every move is meticulously calculated. How often do we see politicians who think and write like Jerry Northington? He’s a warrior for peace, a teacher and healer, a scientist with the soul of a poet. We don’t often have the chance to send such a person to Congress. We now do.

Jerry’s announcement diary: possum for Congress

The issue on which my campaign is based is the war. As a Vietnam veteran I know from firsthand experience what war can do to the troops and to civilians. We must end this war and end it as soon as possible. So many other issues are not being addressed in this country today. The monies being squandered on a failing Iraq occupation need to be redirected. In addition we must work to see our freedoms restored. We have lost so much in the past six long years. If we fail to begin soon to change direction we may lose all in the end.


Contribute, through ActBlue!

(and two more, below the fold…)

Gilda Reed for Congress- LA-01

Her Daily Kos page: gildareed

Gabriella’s introductory diary: Another Kossack Running for Congress

Gilda Reed represents all that is good in the Democratic Party. Her goals of improving the quality of life for our hard-working citizens, providing affordable health care for all, ending this dreadful occupation of Iraq, restoring health to our environment and, in all, standing for the common good. We “need more sensitive leaders paying attention to the problems facing everyday Americans –elderly, disabled, gay, working-but-not-making-ends-meet folk.” We, this most extraordinary community, can “spread the word that an honest, kick-butt Democrat is running for Congress.”

Gilda’s campaign diary: Hypocrisy no more

Besides being a lifelong resident of District 1, I am the dedicated mother of 7 children, including 2 adopted with special needs, the grandmother of 11, and the teacher of thousands of university students. With a polio disability, I raised my large family and earned a Ph.D. in Applied Biological Psychology at the same time. Then I went on to teach more classes at the University of New Orleans at 1 time than any of my colleagues. During Katrina, I did not miss a beat and recorded all lectures for the semester so that my students could hear what they would have heard if there were buildings to house them. To this day, I am still fighting for the rights of my adopted children with disabilities. So I am accustomed to weathering adversity. Washington will be a piece of cake compared to all of this.


Contribute, through ActBlue!

Ron Shepston for Congress- CA-42

His Daily Kos page: CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream

Major Danby’s introductory diary: CA-42: I’m managing a netroots U.S. House campaign

Our candidate believes in:

* restoring the Constitution and rule of law by reining in the Imperial Presidency
* removing our troops from Iraq and concentrating our foreign policy on fighting terrorism, poverty, and human rights abuses
* reverting to the fiscal sanity and responsibility that this Administration squandered and dedicating the government to helping people avoid the catastrophes that come from lost health care and pension protection
* respecting facts rather than convenient wishes when it comes to federal policy in areas such as the environment, energy, education, and health
* refusing to use the power of office to enrich oneself and one’s friends at the expense of the public good

And our opponent believes in none of those things. This is a netroots kind of race — a fight to make us all rightfully proud.

Ron’s announcement diary: CA-42: Hi, I’m Ron Shepston and I’m running for Congress

This is not a vanity or protest campaign. California’s 42nd district is Republican-dominated, but increasingly independent – which means that it’s full of people who think like Democrats whom we have to convince to vote the way they think. It’s a district I can win. The local party establishment supports me. My opponent, Gary Miller, has been swimming so long in the ethical cesspool of Congressional privilege that he’s grown gills. He’s vulnerable – but no one was on the ballot against him in 2006. No local elected politician in the district – which has too few elected Democrats – is running against him next year. So I’ve rashly stepped up and strapped up; now I’m going to show up and make people sit up and pay attention.


Contribute, through ActBlue!

We all want change. We all want fewer Republicans in Congress, and more good Democrats! Here’s a chance to help make that happen.

Let’s send these three great Democrats to Congress!

Pony Party: Obscure Sport Edition

The whole world is full of sport, competition, and bored people who can turn any kind of competition into a sport.

It does seem as we become less physically active as a society, we put more energy in cherishing our our passive past times of watching other people who are in shape do fascinating things.

I am married to a huge minority in the south: a man who watches neither football nor NASCAR. And yes, that was somewhat deliberate on my part. He introduced me to Formula One racing and I dropped hockey on his lap.
I also learned how to shoot a compound bow mainly out of curiosity.

There really is a sport for every type of person, you just have to look for it and be imaginative.

Ever hear of extreme ironing?

I am extremely not interested in ironing for any occasion so I don’t think this would be the sport for me.

Did you know there was a professional putt putt association?

I wonder if there might be a pro marshmallow toss competition out there somewhere?

Dunno…. Put this cartoon in for no reason at all…

Stay and chit chat but don’t rec pony party, check out some of the other fantabulous diaries DD offers.

Juan Williams’ Pathetic Attempt To Curb Criticism of O’Reilly

Time magazine gives space to Juan Williams to attempt to shut down criticism of Bill O'Reilly. Jaun Williams, like O'Reilly, is an employee of Fox News. Williams writes two things that struck me as pathetic and ridiculous. The first:

That twisted assumption led me to say publicly that the attacks on O'Reilly amounted to an effort to take what he said totally out of context in an attempt to brand him a racist by a liberal group that disagrees with much of his politics.

Um, so Juan, you feel comfortable smearing poeple while at the same time taking umbrage that you were smeared by ONE commentator on CNN?

But the out-of-context attacks on O'Reilly picked up speed and ended up on CNN, where one commentator branded me a “Happy Negro” for allowing O'Reilly to get by with making racist comments without objection.

Well, shame on that commenter Juan, but shame on you for smearing people yourself. For smearing people like Eugene Robinson:

ROBINSON: Well, you know I'm not going to go inside of Bill O'Reilly's head — you know, is he racist, what does he know? You know, all I know is that it was, at best, a casually racist remark. But you know, what really ticks me off is that when you say that, when you point that out, you know, immediately you get charged by O'Reilly and cohorts with, you know, you're the thought police, you're the thought Gestapo, you're the word Nazis, you're interfering with free speech, and somehow cutting off an honest debate about race. . . .

And for the record Juan, Eugene Robinson is  a black man too. I wonder if Time will give him a chance to respond to your smears.

Four at Four

This is an OPEN THREAD. Here are four stories in the news at 4 o’clock to get you started.

  1. When George W. Bush decided to go after Iraq’s oil rather than finish the job in Afghanistan, I wonder if he thought he would see this headline, Afghan president offers to meet Taliban leader, in the Los Angeles Times four years later? Heckuva screw-up, George. “President Hamid Karzai, expressing horror at a suicide bombing here in the Afghan capital that killed at least 30 people and wounded dozens more, offered today to meet with Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar to stop the carnage. Karzai spoke at an emotional news conference hours after an early morning blast tore through a bus carrying soldiers to their posts.”

    Saturday’s appeal, aimed directly at fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Omar and warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, carried more raw urgency than the U.S.-backed president’s previous overtures.

    “If I find their address, there is no need for them to come to me — I’ll personally go there and get in touch with them,” Karzai told reporters at his presidential palace.

    Apparently paraphrasing the question he would put to them, he asked: “‘Esteemed mullah, sir, and esteemed Hekmatyar, sir, why are you destroying the country?’ “

    There is more on the Kabul suicide attack in the Washington Post, suicide bomb attack kills dozens in Kabul. “The massive explosion, one of the largest suicide attacks in Afghanistan since the U.S. invasion almost six years ago, ripped through the roof and sides of the bus, leaving it an unrecognizable chunk of twisted and charred metal. The blast broke shop windows up to a block away and scattered splinters of glass, chunks of flesh and chards of metal for hundreds of yards… ¶ The 6:45 a.m. blast in the central Kabul neighborhood of Baharistan could be heard for miles in a city that was just waking up… The explosion occurred in front of a large movie theater, at a place where Afghan soldiers gather every morning to be picked up by a bus that takes them to their jobs, army spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi said in a telephone interview. He said the bomber, apparently wearing an explosive vest, boarded the bus at the stop dressed in a regular Afghan army uniform and blew himself up almost immediately.”

    The explosion comes on days after NATO’s top commander in Afghanistan, U.S. Army General Dan McNeill expressed doubts the Taliban was ever defeated by the American invasion and said he didn’t have enough troops to hold captured ground. McNeill told the BBC that he expected the Taliban will recapture territory this winter. With the United States’ attention not diverted to Iraq, things in Afghanistan could have been different as this Washington Post story, A haven of prosperity in Afghan’s Panjshir valley suggests. “This is the way reconstruction in Afghanistan was supposed to be. A little bit of U.S. pump priming, combined with profit motive and human need, would be harnessed by a grateful, liberated population to transform their lives and country. In the process, the people would become loyal allies in the fight against terrorism. ¶ It hasn’t always worked that way. Instead, Afghanistan is besieged by a growing insurgency that is shifting U.S. money and manpower from reconstruction to security, undermining vital road, electricity, school and other projects that are designed to extend the authority of the national government and win hearts and minds.” The U.S. never secured Afghanistan and defeated al-Qaeda and the Taliban before going after Iraq’s oil. Now the Afghans and the West will be paying the price of the Madness of King George.

  2. I appears that early September’s propaganda surge by the White House and Gen. David Petraeus could not withstand reality for even a month. The Los Angeles Times reports, Petraeus acknowledges rise in Iraq violence. “Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, acknowledged today that violence had increased since Sunni Arab militants declared an offensive during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. ¶ ‘Certainly Al Qaeda has had its Ramadan surge,’ Petraeus said in his first comments to reporters since he returned from Washington to give lawmakers a status report on the war in Iraq. But he said the level of attacks was ‘substantially lower’ than during the same period last year.” Right… Petraeus “saw no need to revise the projections he presented to Congress” regarding the planned-since-the-Spring troop withdrawal due.

    After years of war and occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq, their is finally recognition that the troops face a serious threat from improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The Washington Post reports they are ‘The single most effective weapon against our deployed forces’. The first IED attack was on the morning of March 29, 2003, over a month before George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” day. “Since that first fatal detonation of what is now known as an improvised explosive device, more than 81,000 IED attacks have occurred in Iraq, including 25,000 so far this year, according to U.S. military sources. The war has indeed metastasized into something ‘completely different,’ a conflict in which the roadside bomb in its many variants — including ‘suicide, vehicle-borne’ — has become the signature weapon in Iraq and Afghanistan… ¶ IEDs have caused nearly two-thirds of the 3,100 American combat deaths in Iraq, and an even higher proportion of battle wounds. This year alone, through mid-July, they have also resulted in an estimated 11,000 Iraqi civilian casualties and more than 600 deaths among Iraqi security forces. To the extent that the United States is not winning militarily in Iraq, the roadside bomb, which as of yesterday had killed or wounded 21,071 Americans, is both a proximate cause and a metaphor for the miscalculation and improvisation that have characterized the war… ¶ Despite nearly $10 billion spent in the past four years by the department’s main IED-fighting agency, with an additional $4.5 billion budgeted for fiscal 2008, the IED remains ‘the single most effective weapon against our deployed forces,’ as the Pentagon acknowledged this year… ¶ In Afghanistan, although IED attacks remain a small fraction of those in Iraq, the figures also have soared: from 22 in 2002 and 83 in 2003, to 1,730 in 2006 and a thousand in the first half of this year. Suicide attacks have become especially pernicious, climbing to 123 last year, according to a United Nations study, a figure that continues to grow this year, with 22 in May alone.” I think it can be argued that the Taliban learned IED tactics from observing their deadly effectiveness in Iraq.

  3. The scrutiny on Blackwater USA by the traditional media thankfully continues.

    • The AP reports that five Blackwater incidents in question. “Five cases this year in which private Blackwater USA security guards killed Iraqi civilians are at the core of a U.S. review of how the hired protection forces guard diplomats in Iraq, officials said Friday. Iraqi authorities are also concerned about a sixth incident in which Blackwater guards allegedly threw frozen bottles of water at civilian cars, breaking windshields. No one was killed.” Only five or six? Come on, they’re barely looking.

    • MSNBC’s Richard Engel reports on Blackwater’s Ugly Americans. “They are becoming the poster boys for excess. A new ‘photo cartoon’ circulating in Baghdad among security contractors and some U.S. soldiers – and the laughter it’s generating here – speaks for itself.” Engel reports that “a picture is emerging” of the September 16th Nisour Square massacre. “Two American sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity have told me that during the incident at least one Blackwater guard ordered his colleague to ‘stop shooting.’ The guard went so far as to draw a weapon to try to force him to stop. ‘It was a Mexican standoff,’ a contractor said.” Engel writes:

      I met Mohammed Abu Razak today. He’s a well-spoken automotive parts importer, who survived the Sept. 16 incident. His 10-year-old son Ali did not.

      Ali was in the seat behind Abu Razak when a bullet hit him in the head, shattering his skull. Abu Razak picked up the pieces of his son’s skull and brain with his hands, wrapped the boy in a cloth and buried him in Najaf.

      “I can still smell the blood, my son’s blood, on my fingers,” he told me, looking down at his hands, fingers spread wide.

      Razak gave NBC News cell phone video (available here) he took shortly after the shooting. “Abu Razak says the shaky video proves that Blackwater did not fire with directed shots at clearly defined targets – the standard of military professionals – but shot multiple times at unarmed civilians cars like his.” The horror no father, no parent should ever have to face. The murder of their child. Congress needs to outlaw Blackwater and the rest of these mercenaries immediately. The murdered must be brought to justice and held accountable.

    • The Washington Post reports more on Krongard intimidation threats in State Department agents say their jobs were threatened. “Two career investigators in the office of State Department Inspector General Howard J. Krongard have charged that they were threatened with firing if they cooperated with a congressional probe of Krongard and his office. ¶ Told by Terry P. Heide, Krongard’s congressional liaison, that he should not agree to a request for a ‘voluntary’ interview by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Special Agent Ron Militana said he was then advised that reprisals could be taken against him. ‘Howard can fire you,’ he said Heide told him. ‘It would affect your ability to get another job.'” “In recent weeks, the agents relayed their concerns about Krongard to Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the oversight panel. Waxman has said he is investigating allegations that Krongard has repeatedly thwarted investigations into alleged contracting fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan, including construction of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and weapons smuggling allegations against Blackwater USA, a private security firm working under government contract in Iraq… ¶ In a letter, Waxman “included an internal e-mail that indicated Krongard had intervened to stop his office from cooperating with a Justice Department investigation into alleged arms smuggling by Blackwater. In a North Carolina case, two Blackwater employees have pleaded guilty to weapons charges and are cooperating with Justice officials.”

    • A bit more on the cancelled Blackwater real estate deal in North Carolina first covered in yesterday’s Four at Four. The News and Observer reports Amid uproar, Blackwater stops land deal. Blackwater “canceled a $5.5 million real estate deal to buy 1,800 acres of farmland near Fort Bragg”. The real estate deal was initiated by another company. “TigerSwan wanted to set up a training center near Fort Bragg with firing ranges, Miller said. TigerSwan planned to train soldiers from Fort Bragg, as well as corporate executives from Research Triangle Park and elsewhere.” The seller, Wayne Miller, president of Southern Produce Distributors, “said he was impressed with [TigerSwan President Jim] Reese and his project but wanted to know whether TigerSwan could finance such a land purchase… ¶ Miller said he had a hunch that Blackwater was backing the deal. When he asked, Reese confirmed it.” The contract allowed Blackwater to backout of the sale through September 27. What I am really curious about are these corporate executives that are being trained by Blackwater. If that doesn’t smack of class warfare, then I don’t know what would. (Hat tip Anglico.)

  4. Finally, a story about how the Bush administration’s weak U.S. dollar and the stupidity of ethanol impacts America’s ability to provide foreign aid. Celia Dugger of The New York Times reports that as prices soar, U.S. food aid buys less. “Soaring food prices, driven in part by demand for ethanol made from corn, have helped slash the amount of food aid the government buys to its lowest level in a decade, possibly resulting in more hungry people around the world this year. ¶ The United States, the world’s dominant donor, has purchased less than half the amount of food aid this year that it did in 2000, according to new data from the Department of Agriculture… ¶ Corn prices have fallen in recent months, but are still far higher than they were a year ago. Demand for ethanol has also indirectly driven the rising price of soybeans, as land that had been planted with soybeans shifted to corn. And wheat prices have skyrocketed, in large part because drought hurt production in Australia, a major producer, economists say. ¶ The higher food prices have not only reduced the amount of American food aid for the hungry, but are also making it harder for the poorest people to buy food for themselves, economists and advocates for the hungry say.” The New York Times also reports that ethanol’s boom is stalling as supply glut depresses price. “The ethanol boom of recent years — which spurred a frenzy of distillery construction, record corn prices, rising food prices and hopes of a new future for rural America — may be fading… ¶ Companies and farm cooperatives have built so many distilleries so quickly that the ethanol market is suddenly plagued by a glut, in part because the means to distribute it has not kept pace. The average national ethanol price on the spot market has plunged 30 percent since May, with the decline escalating sharply in the last few weeks.” So not enough food, but too much ethanol. Also keep in mind the story Spiegel ran earlier in the week — Biofuels ‘Emit More Greenhouse Gases than Fossil Fuels’.

So, what else is happening?

On Becoming Way Too Fucking Serious

I HATE it when that happens!

In the timeline of the Universe which stretches out for billions of years of planets and stars and such….the existence of we as humans Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
is like unto fresh lemon custard.  We are n00bs. If we are lucky we will be converted into some sort of pie and be thrown at an advanced race of beings.

Preferably Vogons.

Yes we face serious problems and are at a critical point in our species’ history…but we do have to have a bit of perspective and not take ourselves TOO seriously. After all just about everyone who has ever had the bad luck to live on this ridiculous planet have had to face serious problems and were (in their perspective) at a critical point in our species’ history.

Becoming a big time blogger (ha!) has nearly fatally enabled the horrible process of “taking myself seriously,” AND THIS MUST STOP! (Hits self in face with red rubber ball from I Heart Huckabees.) Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
As liberal progressive radicals whateverthefuckweares in the whiteOsphere, I fear we are all subject to the deadly terror of self-seriously taking. But I KNOW that I have been engaging in this egoic onanism for the past couple of weeks.

We are a new blog, I am new at running a blog, and this is a relatively new kind of community blog. So it is good that we remember we are young and both try to NOT take ourselves to seriously and to keep our goals somewhat modest at the beginning. So far we are doing ok.

All we have adopted as goals to this point is writing a manifesto for all progressives, uniting the entire blogosphere, supporting a national general strike and defunding the Iraq occupation. All so easily achievable it leads one to ask what will will find to do NEXT month!

Blog time makes us all feel hurried, Bushco time makes us frantic to change things, Climate Crisis leers at us from the face of the clock. But as Emma said If I can’t dance I don’t want to be part of your revolution….and that goes for laughing too. Our strength is our humanness in the face of inhumanity, our individuality in the face of mindless conformity and our joy in celebrating life when the merchants of death surrounds us. Our strength is in being us. And part of us is the laughter. I am incredibly serious about laughter.


So when I DO start taking myself to seriously I expect you, my friends, to send the Red Rubber Ball after me. Even though I am Number 3 and not Number 6.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket



That’s Turkana!!!



(God I loved that show!)

Now excuse me while I go write something substantive and incredibly meaningful….after all, we have a world to save!




You say it’s your birthday…

Crossposted in Orange at Teacher’s Lounge

Best laid plans sometimes get derailed.  I know I had a topic somewhere I was planning to write about.  But stuff has been looming for the past couple of weeks and now it is past the looming stage.

So I’ve decided to start writing about it here.  Whenever I write more personal stuff at Teacher’s Lounge, reader participation is low.  Maybe that will be a blessing in disguise and I can get the diary I feel obligated to write done so I can post it tomorrow and it can be resoundingly ignored.  Or maybe this time I’ll be pleasantly surprised. Given the lesson of yesterday I’ll not count on the latter.

I’ve had this huge meeting (from my perspective) with the academic dean approaching over the past couple of weeks.  The purpose was an attempt to solicit some aid in trying to get my words published into book form.

I wrestled with how to prepare all week…or maybe all 2.5 weeks that this meeting was on the schedule.  In so doing it also came to my attention that 15 years ago tomorrow is the day I came out/was outed. In Teacher’s Lounge #49, I believe (Answers in Search of Questions, I posted a bit about that.  But that was one of those TL‘s which people avoided in droves.  I did include links to coming out stuff at the time: 

…my two “coming out letters”, to the Chair and to my colleagues.

It also occurs to me that it is now two years since I became a member of DailyKos.  In the first diary From the Heart on September 25, I laid out my purpose for being there.  Here I am, 194 diaries later (101 weeks of Teacher’s Lounge and 4 other diaries about it) and in all of the diaries about our exclusion from ENDA, I have seen something akin to this:

I think dKos could use some trans education

from folks in the know.

It makes me wonder why I have wasted so much effort.  Because that effort was made so that we wouldn’t get dumped from legislation like ENDA. 

If I don’t get so disgusted with some of the people here that I leave DK forever, you may see more about that particular birthday tomorrow.

So what spoiled everything?  First inkling that we were being dumped from ENDA was Wednesday…or maybe it was years ago when we started getting dumped from any sort of protective legislation for gays and lesbians that was put forward anywhere.  It got worse over the next couple of days.

Being discarded from the society as not important enough to worry about is never a good feeling, for an individual or a group.  Fortunately we transfolk have plenty of practice.  We will survive.  Well, at least some of us will survive.  Many don’t.

But that should be withheld for tomorrow, I suppose.

I gave the short report of my meeting with the dean in Happy Stories last night:

Okay, so I met with the Dean.  Marion was very interested in helping me make this publishing thing happen.  She has some connections with some alternate press people.  Well see if maybe we can do a book that is more biography and one that is more philosophy and politics.

She also was interested in the concept of trying to get the three collections of poetry (An Opened Mind, State of the Onion, and A Transition through Poetry published into chapbooks.  Or maybe more.  The faculty member who would have the most information about the process is on sabbatical, but we’re going to try to get this done, perhaps using our state of the art printing facilities (our Creative Arts and Technology division is top-flight).

She also asked if it would be easier for me going forward if my faculty line was changed in order to facilitate my creative work.  I’m not positive what that exactly means, but I am, as always, open to change.

How’s that for an understatement.


I’m really going to have to find out what that faculty line change thing is about.  When she said that, I was as stunned as a carp in a pond someone threw an M-80 into.  Maybe you can help me flesh out what this might mean in the comments.

“Phony Soldiers”

Via the Out Of Iraq Blogger Caucus, Alex, a “phony soldier”, at his site Army of Dude. A great post. Make sure you read it.

Seymour Hersh: Bush “has accepted ethnic cleansing”

Spiegel Online has a powerful and terrifying interview with legendary investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, the man who won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking the story of the My Lai massacre and cover-up, and more recently broke the story about the atrocities at Abu Ghraib prison. The interview covers a lot of ground, so let’s just look at some key parts, and then you must go read it!

On Iran:

(I)t’s been underestimated how much the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) knows. If you follow what (IAEA head Mohamed) ElBaradei and the various reports have been saying, the Iranians have claimed to be enriching uranium to higher than a 4 percent purity, which is the amount you need to run a peaceful nuclear reactor. But the IAEA’s best guess is that they are at 3.67 percent or something. The Iranians are not even doing what they claim to be doing. The IAEA has been saying all along that they’ve been making progress but basically, Iran is nowhere. Of course the US and Israel are going to say you have to look at the worst case scenario, but there isn’t enough evidence to justify a bombing raid.

As Hersh explains- and I love this phrasing:

We have this wonderful capacity in America to Hitlerize people. We had Hitler, and since Hitler we’ve had about 20 of them.

Yes- Godwin is a staple of American political life. Hersh points to Kruschev, Mao, Stalin, and Gadhafi, and now Ahmadinejad. Of course, we’re now on friendly terms with the apparent ex-Hitler, Gadhafi- if a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, Bush need not worry, because he appears to have no mind at all. 

Hersh also points out that Ahmadinejad is not actually in control, in Iran, so whatever rhetorical blather he blithers is not necessarily related to actual Iranian policies.

And then, there are these comforting words, about the real intent, behind Bush’s warmongering:

We’re going to build democracy. The real thing in the mind of this president is he wants to reshape the Middle East and make it a model. He absolutely believes it. I always thought Henry Kissinger was a disaster because he lies like most people breathe and you can’t have that in public life. But if it were Kissinger this time around, I’d actually be relieved because I’d know that the madness would be tied to some oil deal. But in this case, what you see is what you get. This guy believes he’s doing God’s work.

Worse than Kissinger. Worse than Reagan. Worse than Nixon. In American history, it just doesn’t get any worse. Or any more dangerous!

Hersh makes clear that there is only one answer, in Iraq: get the hell out! As soon as is possible! Our presence there fuels the violence. Yes, we all know that, but it’s rare to see someone in print actually say it.

And the “surge”?

Hersh: The Surge means basically that, in some way, the president has accepted ethnic cleansing, whether he’s talking about it or not. When he first announced the Surge in January, he described it as a way to bring the parties together. He’s not saying that any more. I think he now understands that ethnic cleansing is what is going to happen. You’re going to have a Kurdistan. You’re going to have a Sunni area that we’re going to have to support forever. And you’re going to have the Shiites in the South.

Now, it needs be clarified: Hersh does not seem to be saying that Bush is actively pursuing genocide; it’s that he knows that the different Iraqi factions will pursue it against each other, and he doesn’t care. To Bush, no amount of human suffering matters. He is without human conscience. He seriously believes he is doing God’s work, so demonstrable facts do not matter. Nothing in this world matters. It is all an illusion, while his own delusions are of a higher reality. If Kissinger was the personification of the sinister abuse of power, Bush is simply deranged.

Hersh says comparisons to Vietnam are absolutely valid, and that we don’t learn from our mistakes. He also excoriates the media, for having failed to prevent the war, and for having failed the Constitution. He says that the damage from those failures, and the damage from the war, will be much worse than that from Vietnam.

In case you didn’t know it: we’re going to be living with the consequences of this disaster for a very long time.

Pony Party: Local Grub Edition

In Memphis, pork is king. Not a friendly place to be a vegan although it is possible.

Memphians believe that they have the best barbecue and there are several places from which to chose and impress visitors. My personal favorites are
Neely’s a family owned and operated joint and the Bar-B-Que Shop also a family owned joint. I think the slaw is slightly better at Neely’s and the beans are slightly better at the Bar-B-Que shop. Both places routinely win best of when the local paper does food surveys. In Memphis, you put the slaw on the sandwich.

Corky’s probably has better national name recognition but the sauce is not flavorful enough for me although the meat is fine. The best ribs in town are at Blues City Cafe just off Beale Street. The meat is velvety tender and there are no small portions.

People think and talk about barbecue pretty seriously….

One of the fellas talking is from Cozy Corner which is also a great place…

The best burgers in town are from Huey’s and while the burgers are great they also serve up some fine local music every Sunday afternoon and evening.

Here is a blurb on Huey’s from the travel channel…

Tell me about the local grub your area is known for.

Stay and chit chat but don’t rec the pony party.

Doing it for Ourselves, 1.2: Water Conservation

When the well is dry, we know the worth of water. 
~Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac, 1746


There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed. 
~Mohandas K. Gandhi


We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. 
~Native American Proverb


Opie, you haven’t finished your milk.  We can’t put it back in the cow, you know. 
~Aunt Bee Taylor, The Andy Griffith Show


Water is the best of all things.  ~Pindar (C. 522-C. 438 B.C.), Olympian Odes


Water has no taste, no color, no odor; it cannot be defined, art relished while ever mysterious. Not necessary to life, but rather life itself. It fills us with a gratification that exceeds the delight of the senses.  ~Antoine De Saint-Exupery, Wind, Sand, and Stars, 1939

General Water Conservation Information Resources

State Water Conservation Programs and local tips

Encylopedia of water conservation resource links


*Learn about plants appropriate to your climate zone that require less water
*Install a drip based irrigation system
*Install waterswitch moisture sensors onto your irrigation system that will monitor soil moisture and kick your system on only when necessary.
*Harvest Rainwater
*Reclaim and utilize your household greywater in your yard

Irrigation system tutorial

Low water Plants list

Rainwater Harvesting (pdf)

Rainwater Harvesting site

Rainwater harvest from rooftoop catchment

Rain barrels

Greywater Reclamation

“Any water that has been used in the home, except water from toilets, is called grey water. Dish, shower, sink, and laundry water comprise 50-80% of residential “waste” water. This may be reused for other purposes, especially landscape irrigation.”

Grey water systems for sustainable landscapes

Waterswitch supplier


*Leak Detection
*Purchase water efficient fixtures and appliances to reduce water use


This website was developed by the California Urban Water Conservation Council under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It provides a room by room guide to steps to take to increase water use efficiency. It’s link page (listed above) is a great online resource.

Fixtures and Appliances: General

EPA Watersense

Watersense Label

WaterSense, a new voluntary public-private partnership program sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is making it easy to find and select water-efficient products with a label backed by independent testing and certification. WaterSense will also recognize professional service programs that incorporate water efficiency.

In order to use the label, a company must sign a WaterSense partnership agreement. Among other things, the partnership agreement defines the roles and responsibilities of EPA and the partnering organization, as well as proper use of the label on products, on packaging, and in marketing and other promotional materials. Products that bear the WaterSense label meet all the criteria in EPA’s specifications for water efficiency and performance.

High efficiency toilets

Toilets are by far the main source of water use in the home, accounting for approximately 30 percent of residential indoor water consumption. Toilets also happen to be a major source of wasted water due to leaks and/or inefficiency. WaterSense, a program sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is helping consumers identify high-performance, water-efficient toilets that can reduce water use in the home and help preserve the nation’s water resources.

Under federal law, toilets must not exceed 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf). High-efficiency toilets (HETs) go beyond the standard and use less than 1.3 gpf. The WaterSense label will be used on HETs that are certified by independent laboratory testing to meet rigorous criteria for both performance and efficiency. Only HETs that complete the third-party certification process can earn the WaterSense label. link link

Bathroom Sink faucets

Bathroom sink faucets bearing the WaterSense label will use no more than 1.5 gallons per minute (gpm). If every household in America installed a WaterSense labeled faucet aerator or faucet adaptor, it could save more than 60 billion gallons. WaterSense labeled faucet accessories-products that can be easily attached to existing faucets to save water-will also be available in 2008.



Showering is one of the top uses of residential water in the United States, representing approximately 17 percent of residential indoor water use-more than 1.2 trillion gallons of water consumed each year. To raise consumer awareness and help improve the water efficiency of showerheads, WaterSense has issued a notification of intent (NOI) (PDF) (5 pp, 46K, About PDF) to develop a specification for high-efficiency showerheads. 

Shower start

Clothes Washers

Unlike standard vertical axis washing machines, which immerse clothes in water and scrub them clean by agitation, horizontal axis (h-axis) machines use a tumbling action to clean clothes. Clothes are gently lifted and plunged through the detergent and water.

Saves on water use
Saves on use of detergent/bleach
Saves on energy use
Saves on wear and tear of clothes, making them last longer

Consortium for Energy Efficiency – Residential Clothes Washers 

Horizontal Axis Machines

Qualifying products (pdf)


Water is a precious and necessary thing. Use it wisely.

Pony Party: No Talent Edition

As I take a deep and sweeping inventory of myself in the prime middle of life I have come to realize there is an astonishingly long list of talents I lack.

Some deficiencies bother me more than others.

Despite being in the kitchen with my 85 year old grandmother many, many, times my roast beef still does not turn out as well as hers. It is good but not quite there yet. Heck, I even took notes once.

My math skills are rudimentary and I fear if went back to school I might say flunk out of grade six.

I am a procrastinator.

I have a singing voice that could be generously described as horrid. It is all the more galling because I work with an amateur opera singer, two women who sing in choirs, and a woman who does folk and rock very well. Those are just my direct colleagues all of whom share an office.

My dancing is a kind of shuffle jerk thing.

I still cannot drive stick the smooth and efficient way my mother and husband do.

I can’t draw anything beyond stick people, and I have a few friends who are pretty decent painters, plus a niece and a father who “tried it out” to “relax” and has proved to be better than mediocre.

Sigh…. Well,these folks have talent….

Did I mention I like tap? Nobody beats the Nicholas brothers.

You can just close your eyes and hear the perfection of the universe from the Queen of gospel.

The man who cheers me with soul perfection when I am grumpy.

And give it up for Dusty…

Any talents you wish y’all had?

Drop by, chit chat , but don’t rec the pony party…

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