Pony Party, something silly

Shitty Day:

I wanted to do something ‘light’, hopefully make someone smile today.  I hope you can find a smile somewhere today if not here. 

Hey, Kool-Aid:

Letterman, top 10 O.J. excuses:

Thanks, but no thanks; ponies don’t need recommends. 

Without further ado, the floor is yours….


Wakey, Wakey It’s Morning News

Grab your morning cup of coffee and I’ll have a beer and let’s discover what’s been happening in the world while you slept.

viagra generico 200 mg in farmacia senza ricetta pagamento online a Genova Remember Morning News is an Open Thread

Myanmar democracy leader Suu Kyi considers offer to meet top general
YANGON (AFP) – Myanmar’s democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi will consider positively a heavily conditioned offer to meet the junta leader, her party said Friday, as a US envoy headed to meet leaders of the isolated regime.The ruling generals made the offers of dialogue as the United Nations readied to discuss the violent crackdown on the largest pro-democracy demonstrations in almost 20 years in the country formerly called Burma.

U.S.: 25 killed in firefight with Shiite militia
Military says troops were targeting commander believed linked to Iran
BAGHDAD – U.S. forces killed at least 25 members of a rogue Shiite militia in a heavy firefight early Friday, the military said.

The troops were targeting a militia commander believed to be associated with members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force and responsible for moving weapons from Iran into Baghdad, the military said.

Pakistan court ruling a setback for Musharraf
Court OKs election, but rules that announcement of results has to wait
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled that the country can hold its presidential election Saturday but may only declare the winner after the court rules on whether President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the expected victor, is eligible to run.

Misleading Spin on Children’s Health

Trying to justify his ideologically driven veto of a bill to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, President Bush and his staff have fired a barrage of misinformation about this valuable program. Before the House votes on whether to override the veto, all members – especially those from Mr. Bush’s party who say they are concerned about millions of uninsured children – must look behind the rhetoric.

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Guilty Plea Stands, but Craig Won’t Quit Senate
Published: October 5, 2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 4 – Senator Larry E. Craig of Idaho, defying the wishes of many in his own Republican Party, said Thursday that he would remain in the Senate through next year despite a court ruling against him in Minnesota, where he had sought to rescind his guilty plea stemming from an undercover sex sting.

Sniper team tells of pressure from above
Members of a U.S. Army unit in Iraq, three of whom are on trial for murder, say they felt pressured to notch more ‘kills.’
By Ned Parker, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
7:45 PM PDT, October 4, 2007
BAGHDAD — Here they were, hardened combat soldiers, grounded on a military base far from the palm groves, canals and marshes where they once prowled.

But at least for a moment this week, they were still the Painted Demons, the elite sniper unit that struck fear in the so-called triangle of death south of Baghdad. That couldn’t be taken away: not by breaking them up, as the Army had done, and not even by the murder trials of three of their members at Camp Victory.

Charges for Blackwater ex-guard? Lawyer doubts it

By Mike Carter

Seattle Times staff reporter
The Seattle attorney representing a former Blackwater contractor under investigation in the high-profile shooting death of an Iraqi said his client is being pilloried by Congress and the media, and he questions whether criminal charges can ever be filed.

“There are jurisdictional issues. And there are factual issues, including the issue of self-defense,” said Stewart Riley, who represents Andrew Moonen of Seattle. “You have to remember that the Green Zone is still a war zone.”

The Politician and the Absent American Flag Pin
Published: October 5, 2007
INDEPENDENCE, Iowa, Oct. 4 – Senator Barack Obama said Thursday that he stopped wearing an American flag pin on his lapel years ago, saying the symbol has become an empty substitute for true patriotism.
“My attitude is that I’m less concerned about what you’re wearing on your lapel than what’s in your heart,” Mr. Obama told an audience here. “You show your patriotism by how you treat your fellow Americans, especially those who served.”

go here Americas

Pinochet family arrested in Chile
The widow and five children of Chile’s former military ruler, Gen Augusto Pinochet, have been arrested on charges of embezzlement.

They are accused of illegally transferring $27m (£13.2m) to foreign bank accounts during the general’s time in power between 1973 and 1990.

follow url Asia

Myanmar Junta Admits Mass Arrests
Published: October 5, 2007
BANGKOK, Oct. 4 – For the first time, Myanmar’s military rulers late Thursday acknowledged mass detentions in their brutal crackdown on protesters, saying that about 1,400 people were being held. They also made a heavily qualified offer to meet with the pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

India cuts to the chase with Myanmar
By Siddharth Srivastava

NEW DELHI – There is international pressure on India not to engage with the military junta in Myanmar that severely cracked down on pro-democracy protestors recently. But it seems New Delhi has other ideas.

Betraying its soft approach towards Myanmar, New Delhi has advised the United Nations Security Council against imposing sanctions, which should only be used as a “last resort”,

The Kite Runner’ Is Delayed to Protect Child Stars
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 3 – The studio distributing “The Kite Runner,” a tale of childhood betrayal, sexual predation and ethnic tension in Afghanistan, is delaying the film’s release to get its three schoolboy stars out of Kabul – perhaps permanently – in response to fears that they could be attacked for their enactment of a culturally inflammatory rape scene.

source Africa

All trapped miners rescued in S. Africa
By MICHELLE FAUL, Associated Press Writer
CARLETONVILLE, South Africa – Singing and dancing despite exhaustion, the last of 3,200 miners trapped deep underground for more than a day emerged safely Thursday night, delivering a happy ending but raising questions about the safety of South Africa’s important gold mines.

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Policeman shot in butt with own gun while battling porn vending machine bandits
TAGAWA, Fukuoka — A police officer is in a serious condition after being shot in the buttocks with his own pistol while scuffling with porno vending machine thieves here Friday, police said.

The 29-year-old sergeant from Tagawa Police Station is being treated for the wound to his buttocks.

Comparing Two LA Times Pieces on Guantanamo and Torture

The LA Times is today running a news story and an opinion piece that together make for an interesting contrast.

The news story is about congressional efforts to obtain copies of the two recently revealed secret Justice Department memos.  These memos, it appears, reversed an earlier abstention from cruel and painful treatment of terrorism suspects.

The opinion piece is by Clive Stafford-Smith, a lawyer for detainees in Guantanamo Bay.  He describes some of the things he sees every time he visits his clients.  That is, things about which there is no dispute at all, unread memos aside. 

Reading these two pieces side-by-side leaves the reader slightly dizzy, bewildered.  Congress is demanding memos which may disclose that Justice is secretly allowing the infliction of inhuman, painful, or degreading treatment of prisoners. 

Meanwhile, Mr. Stafford-Smith sees inhuman, painful, or degrading treatment of prisoners every time he visits Guantanamo.  For example, he is not allowed to bring throat lozenges to an imprisoned journalist whose anti-hunger-strike feeding tubes are inserted and removed twice a day by Guantanamo guards, unnecessarily, increasing the discomfort and pain he endures.

Let’s read snips of these pieces, side-by-side.

Democrats demand interrogation memos

The secret Justice Department legal opinions reportedly allow painful tactics on terrorism suspects.

From the Associated Press
October 5, 2007

WASHINGTON — Senate and House Democrats demanded Thursday to see two secret Justice Department memos that reportedly authorize painful interrogation tactics against terrorism suspects.

Gitmo: America’s black hole

A lawyer for prison detainees is struck by how the immoral mistreatment of inmates has become so mundade.

By Clive Stafford Smith
October 5, 2007

— snip —

It is sometimes a minor rule change, imposed from far above, that inflames me. I always carry lozenges, and some months back, a hunger-striking client agreed to take one to soothe his sore throat. By my next visit, the list of “contraband” had expanded to bar this insignificant salve.

news story . . .

— snip —

White House Press Secretary Dana Perino told reporters: “This country does not torture. It is a policy of the United States that we do not torture, and we do not.”

Mr. Stafford-Smith . . .

— snip —

Sami looked very thin. His memory is disintegrating, and I worry that he won’t survive if he keeps this up. He already wrote a message for his 7-year-old son, Mohammed, in case he dies here.

news story . . .

— snip —

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) sent a letter to the acting attorney general saying the administration’s credibility was at risk.

The memos are “critical to an appropriate assessment” of tactics approved by the White House and the Justice Department, Rockefeller wrote to Acting Atty. Gen. Peter D. Keisler. “Why should the public have confidence that the program is either legal or in the best interests of the United States?” he asked.

Mr. Stafford-Smith . . .

— snip —

Tonight, I must plan tomorrow’s visit with Shaker Aamer. Shaker has never met his youngest son, Faris, who was born after his imprisonment and who waits in London, hoping to meet his father. I’d love to ask Shaker about the Speedos I supposedly gave him, but he was floridly psychotic the last time I saw him. He’s been on a hunger strike even longer than Sami — almost 300 days — and an interrogator told him I was Jewish to sow discord between us. He is fairly certain that I work with the CIA.

(Note, Mr. Aamer is the prisoner to whom Mr. Stafford-Smith allegedly smuggled speedos.  Mr. Stafford-Smith denies the charge.)

news story . . .

— snip —

“The program, which has taken account of changes in U.S. law and policy, has produced vital information that has helped our country disrupt terrorist plots and save innocent lives,” Little said in a statement. “The agency has always sought a clear legal framework, conducting the program in strict accord with U.S. law, and protecting the officers who go face to face with ruthless terrorists.”

Mr. Stafford-Smith . . .

— snip —

In more than 20 years trying death-penalty cases, I have visited all the worst prisons in the Deep South, yet none compares to Camp Six here. To the military, this tribute to Halliburton’s profiteering is state-of-the-art; to the human being, it is simply inhumane.

— snip —

It is worth wondering, then, what exactly congress expects to discover that is not already well known. 

Guantanamo must be closed. 

What are you reading?

Another regular list.  If anyone has a book topic they’d like me to cover, feel free to suggest it.

If you like to trade books, try BookMooch.

cfk has bookflurries on Weds. nights
pico has literature for kossacks on Tues. nights

What are you reading?  is crossposted to Daily Kos

vardenafil contrassegno senza ricetta online in italia Just finished:
Making Money by Terry Pratchett  –
Last week I wrote:

A new Discworld novel!  Enough said!  And, if it isn’t enough, then you need to start reading Pratchett!


Actually, this is not the top of Pratchett, but it’s still very very good. 

http://maientertainmentlaw.com/?search=propecia-sale Continuing with

John Adams by David McCullough.

Last week:
An excellent book about a fascinating man.  The more I read about this era, the more I am impressed by the fathers, but the less I understand the Jefferson cult.  I like Adams more. 

I continue to be impressed with this book and with Adams

The Indian Clerk – by David Leavitt.

Last week:
  Absolutely wonderful.  A novel, a history, a math book.  A primer on sexual mores in the era of WWI in Britain.  A love story (several).  And a dual biography of two fascinating people: GH Hardy and Ramanujan.  I can’t recommend it highly enough.

A little about Hardy and Ramanujan.  Hardy was the quintessential eccentric English don at Trinity.  Although the few photos that exist show a normal looking, even handsome man, he was so convinced of his hideousness that he had no mirrors in his house.  A militant atheist, he refused to set foot in a church.  A brilliant mathematician.  Ramanujan was a self-taught mathematical genius.  In contrast to Hardy, he was also a mystic, who thought a goddess wrote math formulas on his tongue while he slept.

How Mathematicians Think by William Byers.

Last week:
Fascinating ideas about ambiguity, paradox, and math.

Really quite an amazing work, and relatively accessible.  I recommend it to anyone interested in math.

Causality by Judea Pearl.  Fascinating but deep.

Intro to Probability Theory by Hoel, Port, and Stone.  A good text.

The Elements of Statistical Learning by Trevor Hastie and Robert Tibshirani.  An in-depth look at a wide range of statistical techniques.  Beautifully produced.

Just started:
Find Me
by Carol O’Connell.  This is another in the Mallory series.  Unlike many series, you could start in the middle.  I am about 50 pages into it, and it looks very good.  This is a mystery…. Mallory, the heroine, is a former homeless child who was adopted by a policeman; now grown, she is brilliant, beautiful, and as cold as ice.  The first volumes of the series were great, in the middle it got too mystical for me, but O’Connell seems back on her game.  There are 8 books in the series so far
list of Mallory books

(that link is great for those of us who like series!)

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

The muses are ancient.  The inspirations for our stories were said to be born from them.  Muses of song and dance, or poetry and prose, of comedy and tragedy, of the inward and the outward.  In one version they are Calliope, Euterpe and Terpsichore, Erato and Clio, Thalia and Melpomene, Polyhymnia and Urania.

It has also been traditional to name a tenth muse.  Plato declared Sappho to be the tenth muse, the muse of women poets.  Others have been suggested throughout the centuries.  I don’t have a name for one, but I do think there should be a muse for the graphical arts.  And maybe there should be many more.

Please join us inside to celebrate our various muses…

[Inside: Part II of America the Ugly]

State of the Onion XIX

America the Ugly

Amber Waves

Amber Waves

America, Amerika
Amber waves the grain.
I’m just not sure
what’s saying

Maybe it’s the grain
genetically modified
at least gone
from the bellies
of too many
of the people
of this once great land
from Gulf Coast
to Appalachian valley.

Possibly it’s the nation
deserting the greatness
the fertile land
and its founders
In forcing democracy
on others
we have lost
our own.

Probably it’s both.

–Robyn Elaine Serven
–March 21, 2006

I know you have talent.  What sometimes is forgotten is that being practical is a talent.  I have a paucity for that sort of talent in many situations, though it turns out that I’m a pretty darn good cook.  🙂 

Let your talent bloom.  You can share it here.  Encourage others to let it bloom inside them as well.

Won’t you share your words or art, your sounds or visions, your thoughts scientific or philosophic, the comedy or tragedy of your days, the stories of doing and making?  And be excellent to one another!

Skeleton of a Manifesto

see What does should the Democratic Party stand for, as determined by you and me, a wild bunch of liberal/progressive bloggers?

There are issues, and then there are principles.  I’m a principles and process person, so this post is about principles.  (It’s okay, you can put the stem cell research funding on the entry table, it’ll still be there for you on your way out.)  Of course issues are hugely important, since they’re what impact people’s everyday lives.  To have a coherent platform – to have something which the whole party stands for – I believe those positions on issues must flow from our principles.  I want you to question the biiiiiiiiiiig, obvious ones.  I want you to ask “Why?” ad nauseam, like a seven-year-old child questioning a parent.

viagra generico 200 mg prezzo a Venezia What principles of government can we all agree upon?  Pointedly, I am not saying, “Why can’t we all get along?”  If you disagree on a point, I want to hear why.  If there’s nothing you disagree with off the bat, I challenge you to find something.  What is missing or miscategorized?  If you think something is of core importance, even if it’s blindingly obvious, I want to hear about that most of all.

Crossposted at Daily Kos

First, let’s throw out some overarching constructs (feel free to skim down to the Principles of Government section if you like):

Government exists for people to obtain individual liberty, limited by the prevention and amelioration of harm to others.

To the traditional core value of freedom/liberty, we add equality of opportunity.

Freedom – It is part of the meaning of life.  It means one can use one’s mind.  It also means one has the capacity, responsibility, and resources to keep oneself alive and choose one’s course.  A human being is sovereign over oneself; a person possesses self-determination.  Without that, one is a slave, less than human.

Responsibility – One is also responsible for oneself, both to oneself and to other people whose lives one influences.  A citizen must be well-informed and must proactively claim one’s liberty, or else one is not fully free.

Accountability – This is the means for enforcing responsibility upon those with power.  Its elements are:

  • Information – Objectively factual information is a prerequisite for rational government.  In its absence, anyone can come up with postulates that justify anything.  In our dealings with each other, we are empiricists.
  • Consequences – Accountability must be consequential, or it is meaningless.  (For example, subpoena power does not truly exist with impeachment “off the table.”)

Internally to our federal government, accountability is also known as “checks and balances.”  Between the federal government and the citizens, the accountability mechanisms are speech, petition, assembly, election, demonstration, disobedience, revolt, and some more in between.

Power – Although there are many kinds of power, most fall under two categories:

  • Political power – Ability to influence what people do, can do, and can’t do
  • Economic power – Control of property, physical objects, and money

Power over others is fine so long as it falls within the consent of the governed.  When an individual accrues too much power, that person can break down the other guiding principles and destroy liberty.

When we rely upon the good will of someone who has power, we lose.  A deal lacking incentives or consequences is folly.  (The root of our current predicament isn’t that the President violated our trust, it’s that anyone ever trusted him in the first place.)  Unaccountable power corrupts unaccountably.

To keep the scope manageable, this exploration is intentionally strong on individual rights and light on powers of government, federalism, and military matters.  Yes, most of this is straight out of the Constitution, but when much of the Constitution isn’t in effect, it’s past time we questioned its content.  Now, on to our compilation of principles.

Principles of Government

Individual liberty and self-determination

Consent of the governed

Social contract (Constitution)

Rule of law

Limited power of government

  • Officials’ power only what the law allows, no less and no more
  • Separation of powers among the legislature, executive, and judiciary
    • Legislature makes the law
    • Executive carries out the law
    • Judiciary interprets the law

  • No ex post facto law
  • Human rights
    • Freedom of speech
    • Freedom of belief
    • Freedom of assembly
    • Petitions
    • Freedom and independence of the press
    • Self-defense
    • Privacy
    • Property

  • Individual judicial rights
    • Innocent until proven guilty (better ten guilty people go free than one innocent person go to jail)
    • No double jeopardy
    • No mandatory self-incrimination
    • Trial by jury of peers
    • Legal representation
    • No excessive bail
    • No cruel punishment

Political accountability

  • Open election of lawmakers
  • Representation proportionate to population
  • Checks and balances between the legislature, executive, and judiciary
  • Governmental transparency and openness
  • Civilian power over the military
  • Prosecutorial and judicial accountability
    • Ability to challenge detention before an impartial judge (habeas corpus)
    • Judge-issued warrant with probable cause for searches
    • No detention without formal charges
    • Public charges
    • Trial in jurisdiction of the alleged offense
    • Speedy trial
    • Ability to face accusers

Individual accountability

  • Equality before the law

Limited individual economic power

  • Competitiveness/antitrust
  • Worker protection
  • Consumer protection

Equality of opportunity

  • Medical care
  • Welfare
  • Retirement security

What do you think is essential for government?

Most of all, I’m pushing for a logical construct wherein any liberal/progressive making a point about a principle or issue can point back to the big-picture principles which we all share.

This post is in response to buhdydharma’s call for a liberal/progressive manifesto.

[poll id=”



Western Media see Democracy in Burma, where Monks see Food (posted from Dailykos)

The untold story of the recent unrest in Burma has just been told told to the West.

Despite what most people have been told, the monks were not into revolution, and their protests were not pro-democracy. They were not trying to overthrow the government because they knew that to be impossible.

This was an economic argument, inflation in Burma is running high, the cost of petrol has skyrocketed since the government stopped subsiding, this has left the economy of Burma and its 48 million people, in a hellish downward spiral, so bad that the normally incredibly generous poor of the country are starving and can’t possibly give alms (food and other goods) to the monks, who otherwise have no way of getting food.

For a monk who has spent his entire life in mediation and contemplation on the teachings of Buddha there is no chance of leaving the monasteries to make a living, this lead to the protests. When they protested, they advised the civilian population not to join, and they never changed this advice. This was their fight, and it wasn’t people power, it was the fear of starvation that urged these monks out of silent contemplation.

The military junta had heard the monks message clearly “we need food!”, the protests were untouched, allowed, even tolerated by the regime in the first few days.

Western media reported that the monks were allowed to protest because of their “status” in Burmese Buddhist culture, but that is another media lie, the junta never cared about the monks “status”, they knew what they were protesting about, their no touch policy was probably because they were trying to figure out a way to feed the monks, or at least ask another country to do it.

However within 48 hours and using the terms of a PR firm, the monks “lost control of the message”.

Only when the Burmese people, and the rest of the world, started hearing the words “democracy protests” on BBC World Service and CNN, did the peaceful protest start turn nasty.

As the heat was turned up on the junta to step down, no less from the podium of the UN by George W Bush calling on “regime change”, the world got sucked into a side track issue about the barbaric Burmese regime. The agenda was meant to be about Climate Change and Iran, since Bush was weak in both area’s in an UN ambience, it fitted that the message in New York get changed to pro-democracy in Burma, as much as it did on Radio Free Asia.

The people in Burma hearing Bush on Voice of America in Burmese lost all local sense, and believing what they heard, America would stand up, and so started to march alongside, but out of step with the monks. After all who were they to trust, the local media, always full of propaganda, or the BBC? 

With an ever “decreasing” numbers of monks and increasing pro-democracy protestors in the streets of Burmese cities, the Junta could tolerate no more! And the whole situation became violent.

No matter if the government knew the true intentions of the monks or not, to the world this was no longer about poverty it was about power, and the junta can not tolerate any attacks on their power, as the monks originally recognised.

The story ends with the monks removed from their monasteries, taken to universities and other government facilities, and -blamed for starting the fire, and unofficially as many as 1000 were killed and 2000 tortured as a result.

As a side note, Australia denounced the Junta’s policy also at the UN, and there was some tough short term talked about upping the sanctions on the country. But just a week later a report reveals that the Australian Federal Police has been teaching Burma’s military, counter terrorism techniques, some of those techniques would have been used on the monks. When the Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer was asked about this contradiction he said “We will not be shutting down this program, it is vital to our interests”

The people of Burma shake their heads, and wonder if anyone really gives a cracker about them. Burma is Asia’s political football, always part of the bigger picture. The power games of the west and South East Asia, USA and China, and Australia and Muslim Asia. It’s never about Burma.

Beware the Nats of Burma (reposted by request)

Buhdy asked me to repost this essay, so here it is again.

Prior to Theravada Buddhism, the Burmese were animists who worshiped a series of nature spirits called Nats. The term Nat derives from the Pali-Sanskrit, natha, meaning lord or guardian.

There are 37 officially recognized Nats (inside Nats), each with its own history. The Nats are spirits of natural forces, such as water, wind, stones and trees and take many guises. All Nats are  ghosts or spirits of heroes.  There are many lesser nats (outside Nats) that are characterized as mischievous when they are disturbed.

…Some were martyrs, people who had been betrayed or had suffered a premature and frightful death. One had died of diarrhea and was reputed to inflict that on those who displeased him.

Regardless of their origins, they were easily disturbed, given to making a fuss when they were not treated with respect.

~Amy Tan, Saving Fish From Drowning, a novel combining Myanmar politics, Burmese superstition and spirituality, plus a touch of humor.

A pious man explained to his followers: “It is evil to take lives and noble to save them. Each day I pledge to save a hundred lives. I drop my net in the lake and scoop out a hundred fishes. I place the fishes on the bank, where they flop and twirl. ‘Don’t be scared,’ I tell those fishes. ‘I am saving you from drowning.’ Soon enough, the fishes grow calm and lie still. Yet, sad to say, I am always too late. The fishes expire. And because it is evil to waste anything, I take those dead fishes to market and I sell them for a good price. With the money I receive, I buy more nets so I can save more fishes.” – Anonymous

The home of the Nats is Mount Popa, in central Burma and on the summit of this mountain shrines to all 37 Nats can be found. The Nats are still worshiped and honored with national and local festivals in Burma.

Each of the Nats has a story that tells how that person became a Nat. For example, the story of Popa Medaw, the mother of Mount Popa, tells how her two sons were executed by the king. Legends say they were castrated and left to bleed to death.

From beyond the veil, the brothers, now nats, continued to hassle the sovereign, and the King eventually made the them the spiritual lords of Taungbyon. The annual festival held in their name grew and grew, and when a later sovereign, King Mindon, proclaimed that he would cancel the festival, the two Nats made his balls swell until Mindon relented.

The regime has accumulated enough bad Karma and will suffer in future life times according to Buddhist beliefs, but the punishment from The Nats  will be dealt out in this life according to the beliefs of most of the people of Burma.

Each soldier that pulled a trigger or beat a protesting monk to death will be haunted by the Nat they have created. Perhaps they will lie in bed every night fearing that their balls will swell and explode or they will contract a fatal case of diarrhea or worse. Perhaps they will refuse to obey future orders that would offend the Nats.

Many world leaders have condemned these atrocities but so far there has been little or no action taken to help the people of Burma.

I guess it’s up to the Nats.

Old South Meeting House

I left this site a few hours ago and return to find not discussions about Burma, nothing about the torture and terrorism revelations today, but essay after essay discussing Daily Kos.

So what and who cares?

How is discussing another blog’s meta significant to the events and mission of this site?

If the mission gets sidetracked by constantly rubber necking in other blogs’ business, then it doesn’t really serve as the mission.

How is it that discussing an oil company advert. receives hundreds of comments and the investment of time, while several well-researched and presented essays are virtually ignored here?

We all of us have limited resources, and it is becoming evident where the interests are on this blog.  Those interests are not trending toward broad, deep and well-referenced discussions of politics, policy and issues.

And yes, I’m cranky about this, because it’s important.

Is this a site for pie fights and meta and trivia and overriding silliness?

Is it a site from which to rubber neck other blogs?

Or is it a site that really encourages “blogging the future” and mandates “being excellent to each other”?

To that end, if you are at all interested, I wrote about Charlie Savage’s discussion of his new book which just possibly has some application to today’s revelations about Bush and Cheney’s program of torture and terrorism.

If you’re not, please let me know that as well, so that I don’t waste my very limited resources where they aren’t valued.

I just came from hearing Charlie Savage speak about his new book,Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy at the Boston Old South Meeting House. The ghosts are restless in that place, and there is a palpable sea change in the air.

Charlie spoke to his pursuit of the history and mystery of the presidential signing statements, the recalcitrance of the current crop of presidential candidates to speak to what they believe about inherent and concentrated executive power, and what they intend to do about it and with it if elected to office.

During the question and answer portion, questioners were often asking about the seeming disconnect between the will of we the people to impeach and Congress’ obvious reluctance to do so.

Charlie’s response was that it was interesting for him on his nationwide book tour to routinely get these questions and animated discussion about the imperative to impeach, while within the Beltway, there is no impeachment discussion at all – by anyone.

His view is also that once executive power has been claimed, it rarely is reduced via remediation by Congress. There is even a huge question about who holds the legitimate authority to question presidential signing statements in the courts, and individual members of Congress do not have that authority, according to his research findings. – Maybe Glenn would write to this.

The bottom line is that we the people, having been publicly informed, are now aiders and abettors of torture and terrorism as a state sponsored and sanctioned program as long as we do nothing.

As citizens, we have a clear mandate:

To collectively call for impeachment of the president and the vice president and any elected or appointed official who has broken the oath to uphold and to defend the Constitution

To call for a Constitutional convention and restore government function to that under the Constitution


Nothing – and to be collectively responsible for living as citizens in a terrorist state.

The shadows of the Sons of Liberty cast darkly over the audience tonight. Imperial presidency or inherent power of the king: the oppression of the people is evident, and the people are fomenting a rebellion.

writing in the raw: the power of one

Horror happens every day… and it can shrivel your very soul. This is dedicated to those among us defying the horror.

It was one of those unexpected things. It just sort of happened on a trip to Washington DC. A friend lived in one of the row houses near Capitol Hill… one of the neighborhoods making a comeback. It was a girls’ weekend thing… starting with dinner on Friday night and Marg, she makes the most delicious Bloody Mary.

Saturday we started at Lincoln Center, then to the Washington National Cathedral where I especially loved the children’s chapel there. We went to the United States Botanic Garden in the mall, and I had to see Foucault’s Pendulum swing from its fixed point in the National Museum of History. For good measure, just before 3:30pm, Betty decides I have to be taken to United Stated Holocaust Memorial Museum.

To say it was overwhelming is but a start. Sitting in a cattle car and feeling sensations and vibrations… and Betty taking my hand, saying, they close at five and there’s so much to see. You’ll come back, she said, but now just go through it.

Each assault made me move slower and feel more hopeless. But Betty didn’t let me experience anything for too long, as she kept pulling me through the museum. Anyone who’s been there knows about the mounds of shoes… it is a show-stopper, I can tell you.

It was then that I could understand it: they first crush your humanity. And then they deconstruct your humaness, objectify you so that those not being hauled away can kill and defile you. I felt like I would get sick or faint or give up because how can you explain it? Ordinary people … killing and defiling their fellow human beings by the millions… And it was soooooo easy to do. I mean, what’s left after that. How can life have meaning after you understand that?……..

Before leaving, we saw a film about survivors who had been hidden by Poles or the Dutch or the French. I think a few stories went by before I could understand anything. As the world came back into focus, so did this old woman, telling her story of hiding in the house of a Polish woman. She said the woman hated Jews, but did not think they should be hauled away. They hid in her attic for I don’t remember how long… but long enough to see the liberators come.

Before leaving, they wanted to give the Polilsh woman the few things they had of value: their jewelry. The woman refused the gift, and only asked this one thing: Don’t let anybody see you leave here and never tell anyone you stayed here; if my neighbors knew, they would kill me.

Suddenly I understood: it is the power of one. One person to say NO… who would stand up to the entire German army and all of her neighbors… be willing to die to do the right thing. I starting crying… sobbing for joy and relief and redemption. She saved me, that Polish woman. She and everyone like her save us every day, in ways we will never know.

There is your big bang, the strength of us all, wrapped up in the act of just one human being. So screw BF Skinner and Karl Rove and all those Madison Avenue marketing firms that think they can ultimately control what we think or how we behave. The one outlier, that one stubborn exception changes everything…

It’s all in the power of one

Boycott Kos until Chevron Ad is Dropped – *UPDATE*

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Everyone has seen it and marveled at the disconnect between progressive ideas
and taking money from a evil petrocorp.  Its been rationalized and
poo-poo’ed.  I saw the ad myself just a couple of days ago. In the past
week it has taken on a new significance as the situation in Burma has gone from
bad to worse. It is especially significant today since this is
International Blogger’s Day for

Several kosnics have brought it up the past week
.  And the usual
suspects just say something sarcastic about how this has "been discussed before"
so shut your fucking pie hole and don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

here we go
. . (31+ / 0-)
Recommended by:  taylormattt,
Elise, citizenx,  trashablanca,  MBNYC,  GoldnI, , TomP,

by andgarden on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 11:14:51 AM PDT

The Kos junta can not be moved by the pleas of of the people in the
people-powered movement. But the greater blogosphere is a buzz with Anti-Chevron fervor

Amy Goodman poked a stick in their eye

The image was stunning: tens of thousands of saffron-robed Buddhist monks
marching through the streets of Rangoon [also known as Yangon], protesting
the military dictatorship of Burma. The monks marched in front of the home
of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who was seen weeping and
praying quietly as they passed. She hadn’t been seen for years. The
democratically elected leader of Burma, Suu Kyi has been under house arrest
since 2003. She is considered the Nelson Mandela of Burma, the Southeast
Asian nation renamed Myanmar by the regime.

After almost two weeks of
protest, the monks have disappeared. The monasteries have been emptied. One
report says thousands of monks are imprisoned in the north of the country.

No one believes that this is
the end of the protests, dubbed “The Saffron Revolution.” Nor do they
believe the official body count of 10 dead. The trickle of video, photos and
oral accounts of the violence that leaked out on Burma’s cellular phone and
Internet lines has been largely stifled by government censorship. Still,
gruesome images of murdered monks and other activists and accounts of
executions make it out to the global public. At the time of this writing,
several unconfirmed accounts of prisoners being burned alive have been
posted to Burma-solidarity Web sites.

The Bush administration is
making headlines with its strong language against the Burmese regime.
President Bush declared increased sanctions in his U.N. General Assembly
speech. First lady Laura Bush has come out with perhaps the strongest
statements. Explaining that she has a cousin who is a Burma activist, Laura
Bush said, “The deplorable acts of violence being perpetrated against
Buddhist monks and peaceful Burmese demonstrators shame the military

Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice, at the meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, said,
“The United States is determined to keep an international focus on the
travesty that is taking place.” Keeping an international focus is essential,
but should not distract from one of the most powerful supporters of the
junta, one that is much closer to home. Rice knows it well: Chevron.

Fueling the military junta that
has ruled for decades are Burma’s natural gas reserves, controlled by the
Burmese regime in partnership with the U.S. multinational oil giant Chevron,
the French oil company Total and a Thai oil firm. Offshore natural gas
facilities deliver their extracted gas to Thailand through Burma’s Yadana
pipeline. The pipeline was built with slave labor, forced into servitude by
the Burmese military.

The original pipeline partner,
Unocal, was sued by EarthRights International for the use of
slave labor
. As soon as
the suit was settled out of court, Chevron bought Unocal.

Chevron’s role in propping up the
brutal regime in Burma is clear
. According to Marco Simons, U.S.
legal director at EarthRights International: “Sanctions haven’t worked
because gas is the lifeline of the regime. Before Yadana went online,
Burma’s regime was facing severe shortages of currency. It’s really Yadana
and gas projects that kept the military regime afloat to buy arms and
ammunition and pay its soldiers.”

The U.S. government has had
sanctions in place against Burma since 1997. A loophole exists, though, for
companies grandfathered in. Unocal’s exemption from the Burma sanctions has
been passed on to its new owner, Chevron.

Rice served on the Chevron
board of directors for a decade. She even had a Chevron oil tanker named
after her. While she served on the board, Chevron was sued for involvement
in the killing of nonviolent protesters in the Niger Delta region of
Nigeria. Like the Burmese, Nigerians suffer political repression and
pollution where oil and gas are extracted and they live in dire poverty. The
protests in Burma were actually triggered by a government-imposed increase
in fuel prices.

Human-rights groups around the
world have called for a global day of action on Saturday, Oct. 6, in
solidarity with the people of Burma. Like the brave activists and citizen
journalists sending news and photos out of the country, the organizers of
the Oct. 6 protest are using the Internet to pull together what will
probably be the largest demonstration ever in support of Burma. Among the
demands are calls for companies to stop doing business with Burma’s brutal



EarthRights continues to pound Chevron

The protests began on August
19th, when the military’s decision to sharply increase the price of natural
gas and other fuels sent shockwaves through the economy.  The military has
recently responded with violence, killing at least several protestors
(including monks) and arresting hundreds more.  But the oil and gas
corporations themselves, who are partnered with the military government in
gas export projects, have shown no sign of trying to prevent further
bloodshed.  Instead, Daewoo International and the Thai gas company PTTEP
initially announced plans to export more of Burma’s natural gas, and on
September 25 PTTEP issued a statement assuring the public that their
investment was not jeopardized by the unrest.  A third company, India’s ONGC
Videsh, along with India’s Petroleum Minister Murli Deora, traveled to Burma
amidst the protests to sign three new deals to extract and export natural
gas.  And Chevron Corporation, the largest remaining U.S. company in Burma,
has simply remained silent.

“The corporations who can
influence the military junta know who they are. They must pressure the
regime to maintain peace, and respect the rights to speech and association
of the people of Burma. Instead, however, they are pursuing their business
interests while people’s lives are at stake,”
added Chana Maung,
Director of ERI Southeast Asia. “The regime has resorted to violence
against the peaceful protestors, and the companies now also have blood on
their hands, but it is not too late for them to act.”

According to ERI Burma Program
Coordinator Naing Htoo
, “Whether they like it or not, the companies
are not socially or politically neutral in the current unrest in Burma. They
say that their presence in Burma helps, not hurts, our people.  It’s time
for them to put their money where their mouth is.”

For example, Chevron, through
its takeover of Unocal, is a partner with the junta in the notorious Yadana
natural gas pipeline project. Unocal’s construction of that project involved
mass forced labor and other human rights abuses, committed by the army on
Unocal’s behalf. Moreover, Chevron Corporation is one of the largest foreign
investors in Burma. Their Yadana project funnels tens of millions of dollars
to the regime, money the military desperately needs to retain its
stranglehold on power.  Despite Chevron’s material support for the regime,
and direct complicity in extensive human rights abuses, Chevron claims that
it can play a positive role in contributing to the protection of human
rights. Empty rhetoric is not a substitute for action, however, and now
is the time for action. Given Unocal/Chevron’s shameful behavior thus far,
Chevron owes the people of Burma a moral obligation to immediately use its
influence with the regime to help prevent the mass slaughter of peaceful


Other bloggers are joining in. 

Here is what was on the Huffington Post – The most widely read lefty blog

had to say on the ads and the Burma situation.

Chevron’s green wash of an ad campaign could shape its global policy
. My
colleague, Judy Dugan, at OilWatchdog.org makes a great argument in calling on
Chevron CEO David O’Reilly to "immediately sever Chevron’s ties to Myanmar’s
brutal government and personally speak out against its violent suppression of
peaceful protest."

Judy really socks it to O’Reilly on the hypocrisy front. Her letter:

"Dear Mr. O’Reilly,

"Chevron’s lavish new image-advertising campaign makes your 65,000
employees look like the Peace Corps, sowing harmony and good feeling
across the world. Yet as you well know, the smiling families, poets and
sports coaches shown in your 2.5-minute debut television ad, "Human
Energy," don’t make corporate policy.

"Chevron’s continued lucrative investment in the natural gas fields of
Myanmar fuels a despotic regime that has focused its "human energy" on
violently suppressing its citizens — including the murder of Buddhist
monks and the apparent point-blank killing of a Japanese news

"You could have divested the Myanmar fields when Chevron bought their
operator, Unocal, in 2005. Chevron said last year that it was considering
such action, but failed to take it.

"You and your corporation have been silent as Myanmar troops fired on
democracy proponents, beat them and incarcerated them. You have been
silent about the continued imprisonment and intimidation of Aung San Suu
Kyi, whose overwhelming 1990 election to lead the nation was overturned by

"Your ad campaign, which a Chevron official said would cost ‘in the high
tens of millions’ of dollars, portrays a company that deeply cares about
the world and its future. Given your investment in Myanmar alone, that is
a gauzy, gorgeous lie.

"We urge you to immediately sever Chevron’s ties to Myanmar’s brutal
government and personally speak out against its violent suppression of
peaceful protest."

Now let’s see if Chevron finds any truth in its advertising.


Human Energy.  Is that like people-powered? Even Kos sister Firedoglake nipped at Chevron

Brave bloggers and their friends outside Burma
are trying to keep
information flowing to the outside world. Firepup Bob in HI sent me a set of
great links he found in the

– including Mizzima News,
Irawaddy News which reminds us
of the international oil companies including Chevron still doing business in
Burma, and Democratic Voice of Burma.


Many Blogs will be staging more protests in the upcoming days. Docudharma is onboard too. Kisses Budda CORRECTION: 
Buhdy and DocuDharma just support posting images and not doing much else. 
fully support Kos running the ad


We will be holding the CHEVRON PROTEST through FAX and PHONE calls on TUESDAY
October 9th from 1:00pm-3:00pm Pacific Time (9:00pm-11pm GMT).

Chevron pays millions of dollars in oil and gas royalties to the current
military junta. We will demand that they put these royalties in escrow for the
legitimate, elected government of Burma headed by Aung San Suu Kyi. These monies
are being pocketed by the military leaders – it is not their money.

Below is the contact info for each
Chevron office throughout the world.


Will Kos just stop running the Chevron ad once and for all.  Or at least run this as

Free Burma!

But we all know when it comes to
MAMZ, its all about
the money.


*** UPDATE ****

Kos blinks. 
Sort of.
Bending to the Pressure HERE and by a brave martyr at DocuDharma
they sent out Meteor Blades since he is their Trojan caring liberal to post on
Burma.  Day is nearly over but still its something.  NO OFFICIAL
WORD THE AD HAS BEEN DROPPED.  Or for that matter that they even have the
ad.  I found Meteor’s post ironically funny.  Once again special
thanks to Big Tent Dharmacrat for building a fire under the poseurs. Had Budhy joined in the boycott maybe they would have trotted out MB sooner.

*** UPDATE 2****

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This is NOT a photoshop. This is the page I got not one minute ago. Is this supposed to be Kos sticking it to the man? A bad joke? Or just sloppy webmastering. I will leave it to the blogosphere to decide. So very Crass. Will you join us now Buhdy?

*** UPDATE 3****

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

As of 11:15 AM this morning the ad is STILL running. They just dont care. Or like other petty dicators MAMZ will just keep running it to prove how macho he is. Fuck you dirty hippies.

PRAISE THE MARTYR carlos oaxaca!!


The Crusty Arms Hotel

Location: if you have to ask you’re a dick
Rates: way beyond your expectations
Services: none
Things to do: sleep – fuck – shit
Other: Must supply your own linens, toiletries, and any other thing your whiny little ass needs.
Reservations: We’ll call you.

A rant on real estate below the fold:

My aunt was a Real Estate Agent in Texas, that means anyone can become a real estate agent in Texas.  But only recently have I discovered that this scenario exists even closer to home. 

Translation of popular Realtor terms:

cozy – your dog will love the 3 ft tall doorways

amazing views – of your neighbor’s rusting VW bus and a pile of wood and asphalt that used to be a barn.

river frontage – swampland

no neighbors – cuz your new land is on the old town dump

close to town – non stop truck traffic whizzing by at all hours

formal dining room – a table of some sort

country kitchen – dangerous appliances

finished attic – plywood over the insulation

field stone foundation – good luck

private yard – if you don’t count neighbors that can see over your 6 ft privacy fence from their upstairs windows

completely redone electrical – by my drunk uncle Earl on a bad week

surrounded by pastoral views – landlocked

fixer upper – demolisher

Things Realtors should consider:

Will only local people be buying my properties?  Most likely the answer is no.  So providing information about the area, lay of the land, proximity of neighbors, bodies of water, trail systems, maps and deeds, local laws concerning right of ways,  easements, septic design, land use, etc. would prove very worthwhile to your future clients.

In other words, work a little bit for the money.  You bastards.

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