Pony Party: Sunday music retrospective

Give Peace a Chance


Barry MacGuire:  Eve of Destruction


Canned Heat:  Let’s Work Together


The Youngbloods:  Let’s Get Together


The Rascals: People got to be Free

Please do not recommend a Pony Party when you see one.  There will be another along at 9pm Eastern.

The TaleMaster 2… The Dwarves Tale

This little tale started itself about a dozen years ago. It was originally a one page background for a D&D character. Then came a dream or three which added so much more. Life & Death interfered for many years. I’ve begun dreaming of the tale again, recently. This will eventually be a book, I hope.

If you’re just joining the story, here’s a Link to previous part

So please, go get yourself a tall cold beverage, adjust your reading glasses and settle into your comfy chair….

  The Seth runs his hand through his coarse grey hair, causing greater disarray, then strokes his wispy beard and settles his patched and faded robes. He picks up the tankard, takes a quick swallow and places it back on the floor.

  As he begins, his voice gains resonance and depth. “And so begins the tale of ‘How the Dwarves Came to the Mountain’. This happened long, long ago before your Grandfathers-Grandfathers time.

  ” The GoldSmith’s great, great, grand-sire was The Blackfist, thane of his clan. This clan of dwarves lived in a series of great caverns at the northern end of the Mohz Mountains. They had lived there for as long as anyone could remember. Some legends say that this is the clan from which all other dwarves have come. Of course, those are only legends while the tale you are now hearing is truth.

  The Blackfist had three sons: Degel-draug (by his first mate who died bearing the boy), and Alriac and Kharthi (by his second mate).  Blackfist and his sons were great metal workers and made many useful and functional items for their home caves and for the few traders who happened by. Degel-draug was first-born, so according to the dwarven ways he was next in line to succeed as The Blackfist. As time passed and the sons matured it became apparent that Degel-draug was not as good a metal-worker as his sire. Although he tried very hard to do exactly as his sire said, things usually didn’t work out quite right.

  Alriac, next in line should something happen to Degel-draug, and Kharthi, the last-born, both had the gift of metal-working. They both could fashion swords and daggers, pots and vessels. Their work was so similar in quality and style that only the Blackfist could distinguish between them. Alriac and Kharthi tried to help their brother, to teach him their skills, to protect him from their fathers’ wrath. First with advice and encouragement, then with assistance at the forge, and finally, they tempted Degel-draug with, what was at the time thought to be, a minor deception. The three sons plotted and planned until they arrived at the perfect scheme.

  Degel-draug started `working’ at the forge at night, while his brothers continued to work with their father each day. Alriac and Kharthi worked diligently each day producing a little more. Soon they were each making one and a half times as much as they had before, secreting the excess for Degel-draug to pass off as his own. The Blackfist was impressed with the quality of Degel-draug’s ‘work’ claiming to all who would listen that one could not tell the difference in the work of his three sons. The Blackfist also stated that Degel-draug had only needed solitude to concentrate and perfect his craft; the seclusion of night provided this. 

  Degel-draug spent his time in the forge either reading The Chronicles, writing prose or legends, planning lavish entertainments for the future, or, when in a contemplative mood, staring at the stars.

  The sons grew as time passed, filling out from their work at the forge, maturing into men. They kept up the deception not knowing what else to do. They married the young women their father had chosen for them, moving from his cave and settling into their own. Alriac worked hard each day at the forge, perfecting his craft, sustaining his small family of two. In time Alriac and his mate presented the Blackfist with their son, Elriad, the Blackfist’s first born grandchild.”

  The Seth leans over and picks up his tankard. He drinks in the heady aroma of the black-wine before taking a small sample and rolling it around on his tongue. His grey eyes continue to scan the children’s faces throughout this small ritual, as they have through his recitation of the tale, to measure their reaction – and his worth. The Seth takes another small swallow and continues…

  “In the one hundred ninety first year of his honour The Blackfist’s attention was taken away from his sons, and their work, by the arrival of the Redfist clan. The Redfist was a good hundred years younger than he, not much older than his sons, and led a much more sizable clan. A war erupted and by a simple twist of fate both The Blackfist and The Redfist lost their lives and their clans two days after battle was joined. The war was halted abruptly by unspoken mutual agreement. A period of mourning ensued for each tribe: seventeen days for the Redfists, and one hundred ninety-one days for the Blackfists, a day in remembrance for each year of their honour. The new Redfist wanted no wars with anyone, feeling that to be a futile act, and took his clan west to the Fuahn Mountains, leaving before the Blackfists had finished their mourning.

  Degel-draug was now The Blackfist. He asked his brothers to continue with the deception because he was eager to take up the other duties that came with the honour. Alriac did not answer immediately. Then he told his older brother that he could not help, but he would not hinder him. Kharthi told Degel-draug that he would help, and by haste in speaking the seed of doubt was planted.

  Tens of years went by and The Blackfist’s secret was safe, but doubt of Alriacs loyalty grew and grew in Degel-draug’s fevered mind. Degel-draug came to believe Alriac had hatched the deception, all those years ago, in order to reveal him, at any moment, to the clan. Or had a plan to kill him and thereby gain the honour. Or maybe Alriac had planned the whole thing in order to dishonor him and gain the honor.

  First one and then several men came to Alriac stating their dissatisfaction in the clan. He counseled patience and hoped that his own would last. Degel-draug’s imbalance was beginning to be noticed by the clan.

  An accident, a glancing blow, with a newly honed blade, was dealt to Alriac by his apprentice, slicing a gash from shoulder to elbow. He was cut to the bone, pieces chipped out. Kharthi called in the best herbalists (Degel-draug, in his state of mind did not understand what had happened) but even with all their skill Alriac fell sicker still, fevered and thrashing. His bandages leaked greenish pus and smelt terrible. The herbalists tried poultices, teas, and plasters, and finally in desperation leeches, but nothing helped Alriac. One short week after the accident Alriac died and Degel-draug, obsessed as he was with doubt and jealousy, didn’t even realize. His distrust shifted from Alriac to Alriac’s son, Elriad. Even with Kharthi’s defense of the boy and his `wild tales’ of Alriacs death, doubt and fear of Alriac/Elriad intensified in Degel-draug’s mind.

  In the forty-third year of his honor, a trading caravan came through and Degel-draug entertained them with a lavish feast. He drank from the old vintages a little too thoroughly and spoke without thinking. The caravan master offered to “take care of the problem” for him and Degel-draug paid the fee of 72 gold without a hint of haggle. Befuddled as he was with drink, he had no idea what he had done. Obsessed as he was I’m not sure that it would have mattered.

  Elriad got word of the plot, through some of the men who had complained to his father. Deciding to evade the trap and leave the clan he asked the men to join him. He alerted Kharthi, gathered his family, the men, and those others who chose to go, and in the space of a night they left the Clan of Blackfist, set off on hegira.

  They headed south through the Mohz mountains, thirteen men, nine women and numerous children, four of which had to be carried. Along the base of the mountains they journeyed for three days before beginning to search out a new home. They crossed numerous dry ravines and then, farther south, a few creeks. Seventeen days into the journey, a storm blew in from the west, over the mountains. The sky grew black as night. The thunder rolled off the mountains deafening the dwarves. Lightning cracked over their heads, filling the air with the electrical smell of ozone. The dwarves hid amidst some giant tossed boulders, waiting for the storm to pass. For a week they waited and watched while Aquia, Soll and Lunya battled. On the morning of the eighth day Soll arose, alone in Her glory, looking none the worse for Her eternal struggle with Her sisters.

  The dwarves again pushed on. For twenty-five days they had been homeless, seven spent cowering amidst the rocks! Morale had never been lower. Surely soon a home would be found. They traveled through bramble and gorse, great forests of pine, oak, ash and elm, working their way farther and farther south. The search for a new home seemed never to be completed as one location, and then another and another, were dismissed as unsuitable. Then, in the mid-morning of the forty-third day of the search, Vitara…” 

  “That’s my name!” Vitara breathes excitedly. The Seth looks sternly at the frail, angelic child at his feet and picks up his tankard. Vitara’s eyes grow huge and resemble great emeralds shot with gold. She gasps, and with a star-fish hand covers her mouth. The Seth takes a small sip his steel grey eyes looking over the rim, straight into the childs eyes all the while. As he moves the vessel to the floor he says gently, “It’s alright; I did the same, every time I heard my name until I was almost three …or was it almost four?” His eyes twinkle as he watches her. He knows her fourth birthday was just over a week ago, a lifetime to one that age. “You will come to know that you can not listen while your mouth is running.”

  “So, in the morning of the forty third day of the search, Vitara, Elriads first-born, asked her father if a home would ever be found. Elriad told his daughter they would find the perfect place; they would know when it `felt’ right and they would be home. On they trudged through the rest of that morning and into the afternoon. Then as they came around the base of a mountain they found it was the last one. They had reached the end of the mountain range. Elriad was struck dumb. All that way and still no home. Where were they to go now?

  A shout raised Elriads eyes and he saw his sisters’ son, Grond, pointing out towards the plains. He raised his hand, shielding his eyes from Soll, and looked south. A small peak, a mere bump was just barely visible on the edge of the horizon. A spark of hope flared within him. Another mountain range! Surely it held a home for this small clan.

  Leaving sign for those who might follow, they pushed on across the plains and suddenly, into a desert. Such desolation had never before been witnessed by this clan. Spirits ebbed, hope was fading. Had the decision to leave the old home been a wise one? As the party pushed on, down trodden and footsore, they came to the realization that this mountain stood alone. Feeling very alone themselves, and somewhat cast adrift in this unfamiliar land, it seemed an omen from The One to find this place just now. A solitary mountain for a small, newly formed clan.

  The small, weary party pushed on. They reached the base of the mountain three days later, just after full dark. Camp was made and an expectant hush fell over them. No-one wanted to explore until morning so that Soll could shine Her blessing upon them. The mountain had looked promising as they had approached, but twilight had turned rapidly to dark, the details impossible to make out. Morning would be arriving soon, then they would see. All stayed awake throughout that night, even the littlest ones not wanting to miss the first rays of the dawn. A companionable silence encompassed the group. All felt the peace of the place surround them and almost seem to lend them strength for the day ahead.”


The Seth clears his throat then coughs. Drel hands him the tankard wordlessly, intent on having the tale continued. The Seth takes a long drink then hands the vessel back. His eyes take in the few who have stopped at the edge of the tent to listen to the tale. Catching A’drui’s eye he scratches his right ear. The boy takes the worn copper dish from the floor in front of him and deposits two copper in it before passing it back, toward the newcomers. Nodding the Seth continues the tale…

  “The group of dwarves sat with their backs towards the rising sun, facing the mountain. As first-light dawned, the mountain came alive and seemed much larger than it had the night before. The shrubs and vines almost glowed in the half light, now silver, now the palest of greens, dancing to the tune of the constant breeze. As they watched, the first rays of Soll touched the top of the mountain and it glittered, like a crown on a royal head, silver and peridot-green. A collective gasp came from the group, as if they had held their breaths through the long night, waiting for this moment.

  Soll continued Her journey up through the heavens, touching the mountain with Her gaze. As She traveled higher, and Her rays touched the herbaceous cape of the mountain, it bloomed! Starting just below the crown and inching its way down the side, each blossom burst into color. Magenta…fuchsia…yellow… Aqua as pure as a mountain stream. A red as deep as half dried blood. Greens..from palest chartruese to deepest emerald. Blue,.orange,.silver,.grey,.purple. Every color, every shade and hue ever seen, bloomed and shined from the mountain side in synchronization with the rising of Soll. 

  The little group of dwarves sat stunned near the base of the solitary mountain. You see they had never witnessed this, unlike you and I who have seen, every morning of our lives, the blooming. They had been hoping for a suitable home and it seemed they had found a palace. From under its cloak of blooms, where there were rents in the mass of color, the mountain itself shone through, its skin glittering like diamonds. Proudly it displayed itself for their inspection.  The little group rose in wonder, and made their way towards its base.

  After some discussion it was found that none of the men could detect any caves or tunnels, natural or hewn, and doubt again began to spread. The beauty and peace of the place was not enough. A cavern, or even a small cave that could be enlarged in time, must be found to protect the group from the elements and give them the sense of security that we all require. The group, disheartened but not yet willing to give up, made their way up the tall mountain. Although steep, a way up was found. Cutting back and forth across the eastern face a switch back trail was hewn. The mountain seemed to have had its western side sheared off, eons ago, making a circular route impossible. As the day and the dwarves progressed, it became hotter. The blooms, so fragrant and exotic, were sensitive to the heat and hid their faces. The dwarves also began to wilt as the heat of the day increased and began to oppress them.

  Upon reaching the summit the dwarves were again in awe of the beauty and majesty of the place. A breeze blew constantly from the western edge cooling them. A plateau, about three acres or so of luxuriant grasses, spread before them. The plateau was oval in shape with a slight indentation on the western side. The vines from below crept over the edge there, the starting line of their race over the grasses. A small herd of sheep was startled, disappearing over the southern edge. Here and there along the sharp edges, quartz, in varied colours peered.”
  The old man takes a slim wand from the cross braces under his stool, unnoticed until now. With it he sketches a rough map in the hard packed dirt at his feet. The children scuttle close in order to see…

  “The height of the lonely peak allowed miles of country side to be seen. To the North, just barely discernable past the rising heat of the desert, the Mohz Mountain range shimmered. To the East, scrub prairies that turn to grass lands in the south. Lush prairies filled with the greenest of grasses and wild herds of sheep to the west, fading to a tree line in the far distance. North-west the grass turns to scrub and then to desert again.

  After resting and sharing their first meal since their arrival, the dwarves descended the southern face along the almost indiscernible sheep trail. They moved as one, circling around to the west and looked up…and up. Rising over 750 feet, draped with blossoms, the mountain rose. Elriad was later heard to say that this sight of the mountain, dressed in tresses and capes, had moved him, touched him deeply as nothing ever had, before or since; and that She should have remained so and not have been shorn for any man.

  A feeling came over them all as they gazed at its heights and Elriad knew they were home. Without a word being spoken the men took out the tools they had carried all this way and set to work. A way was made, behind the vines, working them carefully loose to hang in front of the path. Almost halfway up, near the center point of the western face, The Cave was uncovered. The vines were pulled back, away from the entrance and tied. Soll made Her way into the entrance as did the dwarves. They found, after a short passage, a roughly circular cavern about fifty feet in diameter.

  As Soll lowered Her head behind the western horizon the party settled in. Elriad left the cave and climbed to the top of the mountain once more to give thanks to The One. After meditating on the proper forms and phrases, to ensure that he was heard, Elriad thanked The One for this new home, the endurance and fortitude lent by Him to this humble clan, and asked for guidance, so that all would make wise decisions in this new place. He asked for continued endurance so that the clan might thrive under these adverse conditions. Ending his meditations with the ancient rituals, he looked up to find Soll had finished her journeying and Lunyas journey was just beginning.

  Elriad arose to his feet and found, much to his surprise, that his knees, elbows and forearms were damp and some what muddy. He had felt nothing during the ritual! He bent to examine the water skin at his feet, thinking that maybe he had trod on it and caused it to burst. The skin appeared fine, just as it had when he began his meditations. But where had the mud come from? Elriad bent and started searching through the vines. Lunya appeared full faced from behind a cloud bank to lend Her aid. Upon further scrutiny he found that he had been kneeling just on the edge of a mushy, muddy area about fifty feet in diameter. No-one had detected this earlier due to the lush vines covering the area. Amazed at the discovery, and hoping this was a true source of water and not left from the last big rain, Elriad made his way quickly back down the west face, using the vines to lower himself.

  As he entered the cavern, muddy and leaf strewn, he wondered how long he had been on the plateau. The cavern had been transformed! Glow globes, brought all the way from the old cave, had been placed here and there around the walls giving a warm, homey feel to the place. The beds had been rolled out at the back of the cavern and looked almost irresistible. The children had pulled their bed rolls together and piled them up to make one large thick square. They were all piled together on this, like a burrow of rabbits, keeping each other warm.

  The few remaining supplies had been unpacked and sorted. What looked to be all the remaining food was spread on the finest, most clean burlap near the entrance. A small fire was burning directly in front of this, its smoke escaping down the passage. Elriad moved around the fire and surveyed the cavern in wonder. This was home. They had arrived at last.

  “And so ends the tale of `How The Dwarves Came to The Mountain’.” The Seth takes another long pull from the watered wine, watching the small crowd that has gathered deposit coins in the copper plate and disperse; measuring the childrens reactions. Drel,as always, has hung on every word, in places mouthing the words along with him. The rest stayed alert, enjoying the tale not realizing the history they had absorbed. As long as there were children to listen the past would not be lost.

  Durlije rises, placing Vitara on her feet. “Thank you for your company”he says bowing to her.  He works out the cramps from legs and back, stretching, then speaks to The Seth. “I thank you for the tale, you honour the Dwarves. As always, the tale was told with accuracy.” He bows low to The Seth. Then he turns and makes his way up to the Bazaar, becoming lost in the crowds.

continued in Part 3

© RiaD; all rights reserved

My Other Life

I’m now a week away from ….I don’t know – nothingness might be an apt word.

So this last bit of blogging is essentially risk-free and somewhat liberating, as lasthorsestanding remarked on another thread. My other life – the one where I had a home, an occupation and a “normal life” – is one you might find of interest, and how it led to today, where I have nothing and no one, and where there is no future except no future.

Several years ago, I was house-hunting for a small country place in which to be able to keep my two horses.

I wanted to move closer to work because my 120 mile daily round trip was horrible on top of my 13 hour shifts. I found a real estate agent through a co-worker, and told her what I was looking for.  She steered me to run down houses in far parts of the rural county, some with commutes almost as long as I already had. So I got out the multiple listings and looked on my own.

In short order I saw one that didn’t have an excessive amount of acreage, was close to where my other horse-friends lived and rode, and had ample room for my horses and rescued dogs and cats.

In fact, it turned out to have two enormous horse barns with a large hay mow, indoor riding arena, round pen and several paddocks. I was shown the acreage and told that it would be a farm split and surveyed to existing fence lines, which were pointed out to me and the agent. The farm house was old, but I was told that all repairs were current, and that a chimney fire had been fully repaired.

The remaining farm acreage was being tenant farmed by a township trustee, and I was given right of first refusal to purchase it if it was put on the market. Several of my horse friends remarked that they knew the sellers, and no one offered any warnings except to say that the sellers were well-known in horse training and showing circles.

At the closing, the real estate agent – the sellers – who was also a firend of my veterinarian, made no statements that anything was amiss with the farm. My agent’s associate told me at the closing that the mineral and oil rights were being retained by the sellers, but that practice was normal.  I didn’t know better, and I didn’t have a lawyer present – my banker said nothing, and she was there. Stupid, stupid me.

A month later when the leaves fell, directly in front of my land was an enormous dump on the ridge of the farmed acreage that the township trustee was farming.  It spilled into the creek. I went on a walk to investigate and I discovered jars of mercury, farm batteries, jars of unlabelled liquids, antifreeze, and piles upon piles upon piles of tires of every size – farm, commercial and auto. Plus the remains of farm equipment, this dump went on for a hundred yards or more. I picked up several jars and cans and took them on my own to local haz mat disposition events. And then came winter.

I couldn’t heat the house beyond 55 degrees no matter how much I ran the furnace or kept the wood burner stove fired up. And the next door neighbor’s front yard pond continually leaked and drained down my farm drive and directly into the horse barns, making many of the stalls unusable. The neighbor was also hostile and acted aggressive and dangerous.  I asked him to stay off my property as he was wont to scream obscenities and then would yell that he didn’t want to live next to a farm.

One morning I discovered him putting up a mailbox on my property, and I went outside and told him to remove himself and his property.  He picked up the post hole digger and swung it at my head like a baseball bat.  I called the sheriff’s department and after a half hour, two deputies came out, spoke to him, and one told me that I should buy a gun and if I had to use it, shoot to kill.  Otherwise, I was told, I would be paying his medical care bills. They refused to file charges against him.

That was just the beginning.

I called the county health department about the dump, and I was treated as if I was the culprit instead of the person trying to clean up a problem. So I called the EPA, and when I described the contents, I was fast tracked to a person who did take the complaint and apparently did follow through.  A few months later, huge commercial dumpsters arrived in caravans, and it appeared as if a commercial entity was cleaning up the dump. A year or so later, the same trustee was interviewed by local media when another dump was discovered on a former trustee’s land.  He was proud of that trustee and announced that dumps like those could be found everywhere, and they were perfectly fine.  No one followed up.

I had a lawyer for a time, but he opened every can of worms and then after making a thorough mess, walked away, proclaiming that the lawyer for the sellers (who was also the lawyer for the township trustees, surrounding property owners and the sellers – oh and he was city council man for the next town over, too), was a “real nice guy”.  He used up my window of time in which to sue, started a bunch of meaningless proceedings, exposed me to the wrath of the township trustees, and then disappeared after running up as a large a bill as possible.  Legal representation.

That spring, I hired a company to re-side the house and another to install geothermal heat and a new furnace.  What was discovered was shocking.

There was an 8x 10 foot hole in the side of the house from the chimney fire – coincidentally one fo the responding firefighters was on the property when the siders discovered it, and he told me he happened to be the one to make the hole in order to extinguish the fired in the wall. It had simply been covered with a patch of aluminum siding – no wall wes there.

The furnace had a large crack and had been leaking carbon monoxide.  Only that hole in the wall kep the gas level low enough not to be fatal.

The “neighbor” next door was a known trouble maker, and the house had been previously owned by the sellers of my house. They sold it to a sister who sold it to the aggressive new neighbor.

And the township trustee who was farming the dump property turned out to be the local factory farmer mafia.  All of the surrounding property owners purchased services or goods from him, and I had been instructed to do the same – via hay sales or pasture mowing or other farm-related services.  Soon the township trustee’s equipment was showing up on private property doing private work.

And because the EPA was investigating the dump, I was now a target by the township trustees for outing them. I was targeted by all surrounding property owners.  My animals were shot, poisoned, lured to the road and run over, and I had loaded guns pointed at me on multiple occasions.  I was told by the township trustee that they commanded the country prosecutor to do their bidding, and that they were “going to get me.”  I was charged with building a fence too close to the road, with allowing animals to roam (when neighbors trespassed and opened gates) and with animal cruelty – to an animal that the county animal control officer stole that had just returned from a prolonged stay at the veterinarian’s and was awaiting an appointment with another veterinarian.  I was stalked by neighbors and followed by sheriff’s deputies.  I returned home to windows jimmied open, doors broken, my house and barns ransacked, new fencing destroyed, animals dead or missing, dog poop strewn throughout my house, and I began to come to the farm only to feed and care for the animals, and then I would sleep in my car at highway rest stops, only returning in the early morning to feed, do morning chores and get dressed for work. Sheriff’s deputies pointed out my security cameras to trespassing surrounding property owners as I was complaining about their trespassing.  In other words, deputies were escorting trespassers around my property. They were never surprised when I reported break-ins, and they consistently refused to file reports. As to the gun reports – those were conveniently lost.

I was harassed when I went to vote, complained to the board of elections and was told that I would have to lie in order to get an absentee ballot.  I had been a Republican (really a RINO as I never voted for them, just used it to shape primaries) in a Republican township, but I went to the BOE and changed my party affiliation to Democrat and requested an absentee ballot be sent. Of course, it never arrived.

The post mistress was related to a township trustee.  My mail was routinely stolen or turned up months later in a culvert after a rain.  The trustees dug up all of the road frontage of my property and destroyed my driveway.  They re-routed culvert drainage from the road to go down my drives and into my horse barns, making them unusable.  They harassed my horse boarders and visitors to the animal sanctuary.  Another township trustee was related to the house sellers.  Almost everyone in the town, township and county are familially related, and they all do business with one another.

People who knew what was happening to me were afraid to be seen with me.  Visitors to the farm, where I had been trying to operate an animal sanctuary for old and ill animals, were routinely followed and boxed in my drive way. I was afraid to have anyone come to the farm, and I warned off my boarders.  I had renovated a kennel building with my retirement funds and tried to do limited commercial dog and cat boarding to pay for the sanctuary expenses.  On the first weekend with a full kennel, when I was away picking up supplies, someone opened the kennel, let all of the dogs loose, and shot one. Who?  The next door neighbor, who faxed a report of doing so to the animal control officer, who took no action. I gave up dog boarding, and the tens of thousands of dollars I invested in the renovation were lost. I took another outside job in order to pay bills.

And while I was away at work daily, trespassers continued to wreak havoc on the farm.  I never knew when I would come back for evening chores what animals would have been harmed, killed, stolen, and what damage would have been done to my property.

I finally fled in the middle of the night to try to get away from all of them in another part of the country.  They have followed me everywhere.  And now that I was treated by employers in three successive jobs in a hostile fashion for being ethical and standing up for worker rights and for patient safety, I am done.

I am exhausted.  No one with power, authority and the ability to help will do so. I’m a dead man walking, but not for much longer.  I can’t wait to be done with this world.

And this is how oppression happens. No one will stand together, and in my example, me standing alone, is ineffective, and it’s fatal.

The trustee’s threat to “get me” wasn’t an idle one.  He did, and I’m got.

BushCheney’s Legacy: Chaos, Contractors, Mercs and Military

(A hearty welcome to GreyHawk! bumped at 1:45 – promoted by buhdydharma )

Where to begin…? Sifting through the various remnants of news that percolate through the blogosphere and occassionally leak out onto the traditional media, watching as the words stain and run like ink written in blood, I’m trying to piece together several aspects of the current state of our nation after six and half years of a maniacal, arrogant Executive Branch that’s been desperately protected by the Republican leaders in Congress.

The topics are many.  Environmentally, they range from enhancing the denial of global warming evidence to outright enabling of faster destruction of national rivers, streams, mountains and forests. In terms of national security, New Orleans recovery from Katrina stains mix heavily on the page along with the Walter Reed scandal and screwing the troops, all while the military is stretched to the breaking point and beyond, and the same imbeciles who brought us into Iraq — based on lies that switched between false claims of ties to a preventable 9/11 disaster to false claims of Al Qaeda support or possessing and developing WMDS — are now actively striving to get us into position to bomb the sh!t out of Iran.

So, where the hell to begin? What kind of legacy have these feckless fools crafted for our upcoming generations?

I suppose the best thing is to focus on one core area — what appears to at the driving root of so many of the problems, and in many ways representative of the chaos, tragedy, loss and legacy of bloody, violent destruction that we appear to have coming with the end of this tragic Presidency.

Iraq.

Yes, it is a premeditated war based on lies and propaganda — effectively turning the Bush Administration and those who helped to craft the lies that sold war into Grade A war criminals. From it, we have seen the horrors of the Walter Reed scandal, the near-epidemic levels of PTSD and traumatic brain injury, contractors gone wild and billions of dollars simply lost.

Perhaps the biggest ongoing — and currently breaking — scandal has yet to be encountered. Constantly, we encounter story after story of failures in contractors; many times, we are beseiged by stories of overpricing by KBR and their parent company Blackwater. And recently we’ve even seen some horrors zeroed-in upon by Blackwater in its role as State Department security. Most folks associate the role of “private security contractors” as being synonymous with the role of mercenaries, but there are far more contractors in Iraq than simply mercs — more than simply guns-for-hire. There are civilian contractors there to help rebuild infrastructure, and not at the point of a gun. We don’t often hear much about them, and they are often caught between a rock and hard place — people rarely hear about them getting screwed by “the system” and when such news comes out the knee-jerk reaction is (in my experience, anyway) a grim, satisfied smile by people who believe any contractor deserves what he or she gets. The word “contractor” has taken on severe negative connotation.

Perhaps that’s not undeserved in some cases, but it is too broad a brush — yes, even for contractors. They aren’t all mercs. They aren’t all greedy or opportunistic. And those who fall outside of those definitions are also getting screwed, but one decidedly unfair factor that distinguishes them from the way our troops are getting screwed — the contractors have virtually no recourse.

To some degree, some changes have come along that could help manage the gun-toting extremes. But even with such measures in place, we have no idea how many total contractors of any type are actually over there. Trying to find out an answer to the question of “how many” reveals an inability — and perhaps an intentional unwillingness — to competently track the numbers of people, the missions and the degree of success or completion.

It’s almost as if close scrutiny might reveal something we aren’t supposed to know about the type, quality and source of some of the contractors, particularly if some of those numbers could be used to surreptitiously offset the numbers of “boots on the ground” required for security purposes. It also leads me to wonder how some troop requirements may be filled in the near future, especially as this recalcitrant Administration has already stated that it fully intends to leave the problems of Iraq for the next President.

That’s one way to attempt to scuttle under the door without getting squashed by a burdensome legacy, but I don’t believe it’s going to work in this case. If I were associated with the BushCheney Administration, I wouldn’t simply be worried about my legacy. I’d be terrified of it. Perhaps terrified enough to actually attempt to do something positive for a change…And when the Boss himself issues a record dedicated to criticizing your entire Administration, you know you’re legacy is in trouble.

But, of course, that wouldn’t occur to anyone actually part of that horrible, no-good very-bad legacy. Otherwise, we’d never have gotten this far along into this bloody mess to begin with.

Bah. I think I’ll go do something more constructive instead…this thinking about the BushCheney legacy is putting me off my lunch.

What Ever Happened to the Democrats?

Remember when they were an opposition party?  Remember when they were on our side?  I’m sure most of you have noticed by now that they just aren’t anymore.

Be-Happy

Helen-Thomas-American-Hero

Published on Friday, October 5, 2007 by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

http://maientertainmentlaw.com/?search=lasix-50mg The Democrats Who Enable Bush
by Helen Thomas

President Bush has no better friends than the spineless Democratic congressional leadership and the party’s leading presidential candidates when it comes to his failing Iraq policy.

Those Democrats seem to have forgotten that the American people want U.S. troops out of Iraq, especially since Bush still cannot give a credible reason for attacking Iraq after nearly five years of war.

(SNIP)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is another Democratic leader who has empowered Bush’s war.

(SNIP)

So what are the leading Democratic White House hopefuls offering? It seems nothing but more war. So where do the voters go who are sick of the Iraqi debacle?

Read more at CommonDreams.org

So what’s a good democrat to do?  Damned if I know!  I see little to be optimistic about.  For all of my political life I have looked to the democrats for sanity and decency (as in doing the right thing).  They were once the party of the downtrodden, the working class, the average American.  They were the party that supported human rights and social justice, the good, solid American patriots dedicated to the betterment of humankind and the improvement and elevation of all humanity. 

They once stood between us and corporate amorality and corruption.  Now all is compromised.  Our government has been bought and paid for by the military-industrial-congressional complex. 

MICC>MINE-500pixels

Our country no longer belongs to us.

Not unless we take it back.

But will we?

It depends it seems to me, on whether or not enough of us wake up in time.  Many here of course are painfully wide-awake and have been for a long time.  But others, even in the ranks of democrats and those who fancy themselves progressives, are mesmerized by trivial nonsense, sports mania, entertainment, celebrity gossip or any of a thousand other distractions, including the shell game of modern electoral politics, to pay sufficient attention to what is really going on – a fascist/corporatist take over of America.  People who still trust that electing more and better democrats will substantially change any of these unprecedented dynamics are fooling themselves.  We are stuck with tyranny and perpetual war purely for profit – unless we take strong action to change it.  We have to wake people up!

Wake-Up-2

If we don’t somehow summon up the will and wisdom to resist these bastards, and resist much bigger and harder than we have up to this point, the America we all know and love will be lost and gone forever.

When I first started blogging a couple of years ago people gave me hell for claiming America was succumbing to a fascist takeover.  A lot of people are still in denial but if you’re paying attention at all there is nothing the least bit funny about what’s going on in the USA.

http://cinziamazzamakeup.com/?x=quanto-costa-Viagra-generico-100-mg-online-a-Torino Blackwater: Are you scared yet?
by Naomi Wolf
Thu Sep 27, 2007 at 02:05:53 PM PDT

The New York Times reported today that Blackwater, the infamous organization that has been accused of killing civilians in Iraq, “has been involved in a far higher rate of shootings while guarding American diplomats in Iraq than other security firms.”  A mercenary firm in Iraq with an itchy trigger finger is bad enough.  mood swings while using propecia pills But it now appears that Blackwater’s activities may be massively expanded — and not in Iraq.

In little noticed news, Blackwater, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Arinc were recently awarded a collective $15 billion — yes, billion — from the Pentagon to conduct global counter-narcotics operations. This means that Blackwater can be deployed to engage with citizens on a whole new level of intimacy anywhere around the world — including here at home. What is scarier than scary is that Blackwater’s overall plans are to do more and more of its armed and dangerous ‘security’ operations on U.S. soil.

In my recently released book, The End of America, I describe the 10 steps that would-be tyrants use to close down a democracy and produce a “fascist shift.”  The third of the ten steps is to ‘Develop a Paramilitary Force.’ Without a paramilitary force that is not answerable to the people’s representatives, democracy cannot be closed down; however, with such a force available to would-be despots, democracy can be drastically and quickly weakened.

From Naomi’s recent dailykos diary, Blackwater: Are you scared yet?

It’s been happening for a long time, there has been a fascist takeover in this country.  The signs are sufficiently obvious – those who doubt it need to wake the fuck up!  For decades our government has secretly been on a tear in the third world.  Yes the government of the USA is the biggest terrorist organization on the planet.

Why has the United States government supported counterinsurgency in Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador, and many other places around the world, at such a loss of human life to the populations of those nations? Why did it invade tiny Grenada and then Panama? Why did it support mercenary wars against progressive governments in Nicaragua, Mozambique, Angola, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Indonesia, East Timor, Western Sahara, South Yemen, and elsewhere? Is it because our leaders want to save democracy? Are they concerned about the well-being of these defenseless peoples? Is our national security threatened? I shall try to show that the arguments given to justify U.S. policies are false ones. But this does not mean the policies themselves are senseless. American intervention may seem “wrongheaded” but, in fact, it is fairly consistent and horribly successful.

The history of the United States has been one of territorial and economic expansionism, with the benefits going mostly to the U.S. business class in the form of growing investments and markets, access to rich natural resources and cheap labor, and the accumulation of enormous profits. The American people have had to pay the costs of empire, supporting a huge military establishment with their taxes, while suffering the loss of jobs, the neglect of domestic services, and the loss of tens of thousands of American lives in overseas military ventures.

The greatest costs, of course, have been borne by the peoples of the Third World who have endured poverty, pillage, disease, dispossession, exploitation, illiteracy, and the widespread destruction of their lands, cultures, and lives.

from the chapter enter Making the World Safe for Hypocrisy, from the book source Dirty Truths by Michael Parenti

For decades we have trained torturers and terrorists at the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia and elsewhere to commit despicable deeds the likes of which no half-assed semi-decent American would approve.  These people are monsters – and they are the inner circle of our government!

Our leaders are hypocrites, liars, and thieves.  And the secret agenda they have supported for decades has been anti-human, anti-democratic, and anti-American.

lasix mg of metolazone day The Rise of Fascism in America
by Gary Alan Scott

Fascism in America won’t come with jackboots, book burnings, mass rallies, and fevered harangues, nor will it come with black helicopters or tanks on the street. It won’t come like a storm-but as a break in the weather, that sudden change of season you might feel when the wind shifts on an October evening: Everything is the same, but everything has changed. Something has gone, departed from the world, and a new reality will have taken its place. All the old forms will still be there: legislatures, elections, campaigns-plenty of bread and circuses. But “consent of the governed” will no longer apply; actual control of the state will have passed to a small and privileged group who rule for the benefit of their wealthy peers and corporate patrons.

To be sure, there will be factional conflicts among the elite, and a degree of debate will be permitted; but no one outside the privileged circle will be allowed to influence state policy. Dissidents will be marginalized-usually by “the people” themselves. Deprived of historical knowledge by a thoroughly impoverished educational system designed to produce complacent consumers, left ignorant of current events by a corporate media devoted solely to profit, many will internalize the force-fed values of the ruling elite, and act accordingly. There will be little need for overt methods of control.

The rulers will act in secret, for reasons of “national security,” and the people will not be permitted to know what goes on in their name. Actions once unthinkable will be accepted as routine: government by executive fiat, state murder of “enemies” selected by the leader, undeclared wars, torture, mass detentions without charge, the looting of the national treasury, the creation of huge new “security structures” targeted at the populace. In time, this will be seen as “normal,” as the chill of autumn feels normal when summer is gone. It will all seem normal.

–Chris Floyd, November 10, 2001 Moscow Times (English edition)

Since the 1970’s, American businesses have grown larger and more monopolistic, helped along by deregulation, the repeal of anti-trust laws, and a steady transformation from manufacturing to capital management (dare I say, “capital manipulation”?). As Paul Bigioni puts it in his excellent essay entitled “The Real Threat of Fascism“: “If we are to protect ourselves from the growing political influence of Big Business, then our antitrust laws must be reconceived in a way which recognizes the political danger of monopolistic conditions.”

CommonDreams

We are a nation at peril, but we are not alone.  Globalization, the polite term for the corporatist/fascist takeover of the planet, threatens the entire world, and samples of viagra tablets must be resisted.

We have the brave monks of Burma to look to for inspiration.  They face the same forces we face, the forces of black-hearted greed, and they face it peacefully and with extraordinary courage for they know they must.  We also must resist the anti-democratic junta here in the USA in solidarity with the brave monks of Burma – and for the love of our own country and the world.

down-with-fascism

Corporate greed and American imperialism (a.k.a. globalization/corporatism/fascism) are behind the horrors in Burma and elsewhere in the world.

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.”

From Chevron’s Pipeline Is the Burmese Regime’s Lifeline by Amy Goodman

We need to bring our renegade government to heal and start acting like the decent world citizen our country was meant to be.

I’m not giving up the America I love without a fight!  I hope there are millions and millions of Americans out there who feel click here that just as strongly as I do – for only that would give me faith in the future.

me-and-kestrel

I cannot bear the thought of a future without a free and democratic America.  I have no interest in a world like that, and I am very uncomfortable with how close we have come to it.

My point in sharing these thoughts with you is to encourage everyone to think outside the ‘electing democrats’ box.  That’s fine and good as far as it goes.  It just doesn’t go very far these days.

If the democrats were to suddenly wake up and do the right thing, they’d immediately defund the Iraq war, begin impeachment proceedings and file criminal charges against the entire Bush administration. 

IMPEACH

Until they do that we will know that they are not on our side and the answer to our exceedingly grave problems will not be solved at the ballot box.

We must find another way.  And it begins with organized resistance.

Organize!

Then we strike!  Then we march.  Then we strike again and again and march again and again until we bring them to their knees and take our country back. 

America belongs to the American people – NOT to American corporations, multinational corporations, the Pentagon, or Wall Street!

Informative links for the curious and concerned:

BushFlash

A Brief (But Creepy) History of America’s Creeping Fascism

Fascist America, in 10 Easy Steps

Globalization 101

Corporate Predators

Multinational Monitor

Corporate Crime Reporter

Our Most Important Mission: Prevent War with Iran

Only a U.S. Withdrawal Will Stop Al Qaeda in Iraq

Global Warming Facts

Wake up your friends and neighbors to what is really going on in the world.  We have to stop lying down and taking shit off these fascist bastards!  They will kill all life on this planet if we allow it.

Rise-Up-America

History demands of us that we do our patriotic duty and take our country back from the anti-human, anti-democratic, anti-American forces that have seized her from her only rightful owners – the American people!

source url America

In the realm of political thought there has never been a more powerful idea than America.  For the first time in history a nation was formed expressly to protect the liberty of its citizens, who were conceived as equals, from the predations of tyrants.  The founders knew tyranny first hand and were determined to design a system that would preclude it from ever taking hold in the United States of America. 

Declaration-of-Independence

follow link “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal. . . .”

Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

It was an audacious act to break away from England to form a country of equals who would rule themselves rather than be ruled by a sovereign.  The world had never seen anything like it.  A country devoted to liberty and equality was a novelty, one that spoke to the hopes and dreams of humanity, one that said life could be more than suffering, struggle, and the debasement of the masses.

America

If we love this country we will do the right thing – and take it back!

Resist-Tyranny-Dont-tread

peace

maybe we could just use the internet to promote peace amongst ourselves, the ordinary everyday people. like between me and armando. he sought me out to have peace in our relationship. it shook me up a little and convinced me this can be done.

i was at pff yesterday. all in all, a very exhausting but very worthwhile experience. some people there feel they are owed an apology. tell me, do we need to negotiate who will be the first to drop their weapons? or do we just do it, and let go of sorting out who started what or why. can we do it without assigning blame and asking for anything in return. even if we are turned out, not welcomed. can we pursue peace there?

it seems to me if desire is the root of the problem then in this case, it’s the desire to be right or to be acknowledged as right. what if that’s exactly what is wrong?

one last thing. maybe this peace thing is just a simple as bypassing governments. maybe we can achieve peace, from one person to the next by “paying it forward” and acknowledging that is what is happening. and the internet can facilitate this. maybe it will end up with warring factions going to each others web sites and asking for peace. ridiculous? maybe. but maybe not.

armando started with me. i brought that to some others.

no letters to write or e-mail petitions to sign. nothing to buy or donate to. just make peace with somebody you’ve been at war with and then ask them to do the same.

Robyn knows about this… her story has stuck with me about her siblings.

here’s one more urgent reason we should consider this:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

this baby, exposed to depleted uranium. look at this tiny, innocent human being. then tell me how important it is to be right as we turn away from each other. take a long look. we need to stop this.

peace is up to us.

go in peace… pf8

What America Is Today: Wearing A Flag Lapel Pin While Torturing

Today, the NYTimes Editorial Board opines:

Once upon a time, it was the United States that urged all nations to obey the letter and the spirit of international treaties and protect human rights and liberties. American leaders denounced secret prisons where people were held without charges, tortured and killed. And the people in much of the world, if not their governments, respected the United States for its values.

The Bush administration has dishonored that history and squandered that respect. As an article on this newspaper’s front page last week laid out in disturbing detail, President Bush and his aides have not only condoned torture and abuse at secret prisons, but they have conducted a systematic campaign to mislead Congress, the American people and the world about those policies.

And then asks:

For the rest of the nation, there is an immediate question: Is this really who we are?

Indeed America is not simply a Nation that tortures. It is a Nation that insists that an American flag lapel pin be worn while we torture.

Patriotism? No, jingoism. Fascism.

CATO libertarians say energy deregulation does not work

In an Op-Ed that was published in the Wall Street Journal last month (and is available in full to non-subscribers on CATO’s website) two CATO economists specialised in deregulation and energy markets provide a breath of fresh air in the debates on energy.

Their point is to criticize the poorly thought out deregulation in various US States over the past 15 years, and they explain clearly how energy markets work (something which is rare enough in the mainstream media), and what the consequences of various bits of deregulation are on market behavior and thus on electricity prices.

Their conclusions are so unexpected that other libertarians felt compelled to criticize them violently (and the authors felt the need to defend their libertarian credentials… Follow me below the fold for the gory details.

As a first point, they take the time to explain one of the most basic consequences of electricity deregulation: marginal pricing:

Under the old regulatory regime, electricity generators received their costs plus an allowed return on capital. If generators’ costs differed, they received differing revenues. Prices were then established by a “weighted average” of all producer costs. Under deregulation, however, generators receive revenues based on the price charged by the most expensive generator whose output is necessary to meet demand in each hour.

While some may find such pricing to be odd, it is found in all commodity markets. Potatoes, for example, sell at the same price even though the cost of production varies across farmers. The supermarket does not price potatoes based on the “weighted average” of their acquisition costs, and producers do not sell at cost plus a modest mark-up. They sell at what the market will bear, and the market will bear the highest cost source of potatoes necessary to meet consumer demand.

Thus, in a regulatory regime, rising natural gas prices affect electricity prices only according to the percentage of electricity generated by natural gas (about 18.7% of supply nationwide in 2005). But in deregulated markets, all generators get revenues based on the price charged by the most expensive (often natural gas) plant in operation.

Does this mean that consumers are always worse off under market (marginal-cost) prices rather than regulated (weighted average) prices? Well, regulation certainly delivers lower prices than the market during shortages. But regulation delivers higher prices during times of relative abundance.

Their description is absolutely correct, and so is their conclusion, which is a fundamental insight about deregulation and abundance.

They also provide the logic behind deregulation: in the 90s, natural gas was very cheap and abundant, and thus spot prices (a proxy for marginal price in a mostly regulated market) were lower than prices charged by the traditional generators. Massive investment in what were then highly competitite gas-fired plants led to a huge increase in gas-fired power generation capacity, and in low market prices, thus in a push for users to get access to those cheaper prices.

Deregulation took place, as Van Doren and Taylor point out, but in an imperfect manner, as end-user (retail) prices were kept regulated – and high. The goal then was to protect the old style generators, which had relatively high production costs and not the consumers. The gas-power plant investors were happy, because, with their low marginal costs, they benefitted from such regulated tariffs even more thna the “old style” utilities. This led to the “gas bubble” – massive investment in gas-fired plants:

It’s hard to say if there is a direct link between that boom and the subsequent increase in gas prices, but increase they did:

Which means that suddenly the situation was reversed: marginal costs went through the roof, and regulated prices were suddenly insufficient to cover the production costs of the gas-based generators. This (together with market rigging by some players) caused the California crisis and the belated realisation that deregulated markets did not push prices only down – something that Van Doren and Taylor note explicitly: “free market reformers promised rate reductions they had no business promising.”

Their conclusion is worth flagging again:

regulation certainly delivers lower prices than the market during shortages. But regulation delivers higher prices during times of relative abundance.

The two authors are consistent, at least, and their logic is to say that high prices lead to high profits for some actors and thus eventually to entry of new players to balance the market back, in a classic boom-and-bust scenario.

They consider that the temporary price spikes in that regime are acceptable to consumers in that they get lower prices on average. While this certainly neglects the political price to be paid for headlines blasting electricity prices occasionally 10 or 100 times higher than usual, it also forgets to underline what these price peaks are about: they are necessary, at times when supply is insufficient, to cause demand destruction, i.e. people giving up using electricity because they can no longer afford it, even for a short while. Electricity being the vital good that we know, this explains why the peaks are so high, but it also means that markets balance because some – mostly poor – people “choose” to give up electricity for a while because they won’t pay that price and cannot afford it. Balance is created by denial of service to some, via prices.

Thus the authors are certainly libertarian, in accepting that electricity be allocated, at times of insufficient supply, in accordance with ability or willingness to pay rather than any other criteria, such as social or medical needs (oh sure, they’ll usually accept that special cases can be made to protect the most vulnerable people – the old, the sick, etc… but won’t acknowledge that their preferred method of allocation specifically targets these, in practice).

And, of course, their underlying assumption is that we’ll always come back eventually to periods of abundance. There is no physical or practical limit to the boom-and-bust cycle. Resources will be mobilized because it’s profitable to do so, and will be used up to the level that balances the market. Depletion does not exist in their world – it has no price, anyway.

But if you’re trying to find ways to organise your power sector for the next 30 years, and are told that one mechanism delivers lower prices in times of abundance (of generation capacity, thus of coal and gas), and another lower prices in times of more constrained supply (by, say, depletion, or worries about carbon emissions, or worries about security of supply of the fuels used), whatshould be your preference?

That question is implicitly asked in that article. They also implicitly answer it by ignoring such risks. I obviously take a different view.

:: ::

But that gets us to a second, even more interesting point made by the two authors. That deregulation was further hampered, in the US, by the regulators’ bizarre passion for unbundling:

In sum, allowing markets to dictate electricity prices is a good thing for consumers, even if they are sometimes higher than under regulation. Unfortunately – and here is the fly in the ointment – price deregulation has been accompanied by rules encouraging the legal separation of generation from transmission and the purchase of wholesale power through organized spot markets.

This was published a few days before the EU Commission made its big announcements about the necessity of unbundling, and how it was the real step that would deliver more competitive energy markets in Europe, and here we had CATO, hard core libertarians, writing black and white that it’s a stupid idea that is actually detrimental to deregulation!

And they provide several (of course valid) arguments:

First, vertical integration is an efficient response to the so-called “holdup” problem. Investors in generating plants worry that, because the assets are costly, dedicated and immobile, they can be “held up” by transmission line owners. Investors in transmission lines fear being held up by generators. Vertical integration ends the fight.

Second, transmission and generation are substitutes for one another – and the right amount of investment in either is an economic, not an engineering, puzzle. Efficient investment in both may not be possible through decentralized arrangements (prices and contracts) between separately owned assets. In contrast, an organization that owns both generation and transmission assets is more likely to invest optimally in both.

Third and finally, vertical integration minimizes risk in the real-time operation of the system. The better coordinated are generation and transmission, the less chance there is of cascading blackouts and other problems. Coordination is far easier when there is one actor rather than hundreds.

These considerations largely explain why 10 of the 11 published studies on this issue conclude that vertical integration is the most efficient corporate organizational form for electricity providers. Unfortunately, the debate about utility restructuring has almost completely ignored those studies – assuming rather that vertical integration serves no useful purpose other than facilitating the market power of incumbent electricity providers.

Coordination, coherence of investment in complementary sub-sectors of the industry, security of operation – vertical integration has a lot of real world advantages that are being forgotten – or seen as “unfair” competitive advantage for the industrial giants of the sector that have so far managed all aspects of the electricity infrastructure.

And the CATO economists drive their criticism further:

Interestingly enough, the deregulators are trying to create a world that would probably never arise in a totally free electricity market. In a world of deregulated vertically integrated firms, both producers and consumers would almost certainly resist spot market relationships.

During gluts, firms would not recover the cost of capital; and during shortages, electricity consumers would be vulnerable to economic extortion, as competitive entry and rivalry can’t happen overnight. Both firms and consumers would likely prefer long-term contracts, an arrangement that meets consumers’ interest in price protection and firms’ interest in cost recovery.

Accordingly, the equilibrium relationship between firms and consumers in a totally unregulated world might resemble that of the old regulatory regime, albeit an equilibrium achieved through contract. The only (unanswerable) question is how different the specifics of such hypothetical contracts would be from current regulatory practices.

As most participants in the industry know, most players, producers and consumers, small and large, crave stability and consistency. The industry is complex enough to manage as it is without having to worry on a constant basis about access to the grid, or access to fuels, or availability of the end product – thus long term contracts are the rule. End consumers want the certainty that they will have power when they turn the switch, and understandable (i.e. simple) prices. Producers want to be sure that prices over the long term will be sufficient to cover the investments they have to make upfront. They also want to ensure that they are able to respond to demand variations in a effective way, with the requisite technical coordination between producers and network managers on an ongoing and trustful basis.

Which means, as the CATO writers conclude, that in a really, really free market, players would end up with something that would look amazingly similar to a fully regulated market, based on long term contracts and smoothed out price formulas.

So why bother with deregulation? To be sure that the choice they make is actually that one? As they point out, deregulation has been botched, incoherent and/or inconsistent every single time it has been tried, for various reasons. The time spent to get to a perfect “free market” has actual costs in real life, and it is worth asking if they are worth paying.

Re-regulate. Even CATO points that way.

Pony Party: Sunday music retrospective

Get your Motor Running!


Steppenwolf:  Born to be Wild

Time to wake up!


Chambers Brothers:  Time has Come Today


The Band:  The Weight


Iron Butterfly:  In a Gadda da Vida (Part I)

Please do not recommend a Pony Party when you see one.  There will be another along in six hours (Sunday posting times:  9, 3, and 9 Eastern).

Blandness Girl

I remember a time about 25 years ago when it was possible to find unisex toys quite easily and more people were motivated to do so.  The assumption I made was that things would gradually get less oppressive for women, minorities and children and that society would progress.  After all, the Cold War was coming to a close, and the Berlin wall was taken down in this era.  We had not had a recent major war and the worst shadow was Reagan, but that didn’t seem insurmountable.  I had highest hopes for feminism and environmentalism and wasn’t ashamed to be linked with either movement, despite the demonism of “Liberals” by the right.  I guess I was aware of the nascent danger posed by the “Silent Majority” bullshit and the “Christian Coalition” concept.

However, I did not anticipate that things would get worse, much worse, in the arena of children’s toys.  I work with children, which is an excuse to play with children’s toys, and I have helped develop them when I was in research. 

The toy aisles are segregated once again, from the dollar stores to that big toystore downtown with life-sized elephants.  Boy colors are black, blue and maybe red and girls live in a pink, purple and turquoise universe.  If a boy wants a “doll” it had damn well be an action figure, particularly a military one, with “accessories” such as tanks and guns. 

& now we keep hearing about poison toys – lead, mercury, magnets to swallow.  & the contagion has spread all over the world as unscrupulous manufacturers have the toys made where labor is cheaper.  It’s kind of revealing when the manufacturer has English-as-a-Second language, as this doll found in Paris at Oberkampf Market reveals.  (see also Silenced Majority Portal

Dsc05196(Oberkampf Mkt, Paris)

Sunday Morning News

This is an Anarchy Thread

This happened while you slept. Or maybe not as you could have been out partying all night.

US

For Schools, Lottery Payoffs Fall Short of Promises
By RON STODGHILL and RON NIXON
Published: October 7, 2007
Last year, North Carolina’s governor, Mike Easley, finally delivered on his promise to start a lottery, making his state the most recent of the 42 states and the District of Columbia to cash in on legalized gambling.

Bush, Texas at odds over death case
WASHINGTON – To put it bluntly, Texas wants President Bush to get out of the way of the state’s plan to execute a Mexican for the brutal killing of two teenage girls.
Bush, who presided over 152 executions as governor of Texas, wants to halt the execution of Jose Ernesto Medellin in what has become a confusing test of presidential power that the Supreme Court, which hears the case this week, ultimately will sort out.

George “Hang Em High” Bush suddenly believes in the International Court of Justice. 

Iraq Embassy Cost Rises $144 Million Amid Project Delays
Planning, Workmanship Cited as Problems

By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 7, 2007; Page A01

The massive U.S. embassy under construction in Baghdad could cost $144 million more than projected and will open months behind schedule because of poor planning, shoddy workmanship, internal disputes and last-minute changes sought by State Department officials, according to U.S. officials and a department document provided to Congress.

U.S. working to let in more immigrants
The administration is quietly relaxing visa regulations because farmworkers are in critically short supply.
By Nicole Gaouette, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
October 7, 2007
WASHINGTON — With a nationwide farmworker shortage threatening to leave unharvested fruits and vegetables rotting in fields, the Bush administration has begun quietly rewriting federal regulations to eliminate barriers that restrict how foreign laborers can legally be brought into the country.

Asia

Pakistan Supreme Court weighs election
By MATTHEW PENNINGTON, Associated Press Writer
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Gen. Pervez Musharraf won an overwhemingly majority in a presidential election boycotted by nearly the entire opposition Saturday, and attention shifted to Supreme Court deliberations on whether he can claim victory.

Greying Japan looks to robot suits for help
TOKYO (AFP) – As Japan greys, who will look after the elderly? Maybe one day their aging children — in robot suits — if technology under development comes out of the laboratory and into the home.

Among the array of futuristic products for the senior citizens or their caregivers on display at a trade fair this week in Tokyo was a power assist suit that makes it easier to lift an elderly person out of a wheelchair or bed.


Europe

Danish clash sparks mass arrests
Police in Denmark have arrested more than 400 people in clashes in the capital, Copenhagen.

They used teargas against thousands of young demonstrators protesting against the closure of a youth centre (Ungdomshuset) earlier in the year.

Russian Police Detain Five Foreign Rights Activists
By VOA News
07 October 2007
Police in the Russian city of Nizhny-Novgorod have detained five international human rights activists who were due to attend a conference marking the first anniversary of the killing of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya. Authorities detained the activists from Britain, Spain and Germany Saturday – one day before the conference commemorating Politkovskaya’s murder.


Africa

Michelin families leave Algeria
French tyre company Michelin has said it is evacuating families of French nationals working for the firm in Algeria because of security concerns.


The Fun Stuff

Impressive info on intrepid instructors who initiate illicit intercourse
It was just after the music school’s graduation ceremony. Reiko, an attractive 26-year-old instructor, confesses that was when she commenced an “adult relationship” with a former student.

“I knew he was in love with me,” she tells Shukan Taishu (10/15). “On his graduation day I felt so sad — like I was losing a younger brother.”

‘Naked Lunch’ may be banned in Maine
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

GREENVILLE, Maine — “Naked Lunch” just doesn’t sound appetizing to some people.

A sandwich called the Skinny Dip, featuring sliced prime rib in a baguette roll, has been offered free of charge anyone willing to plunge naked from The Black Frog Restaurant’s dock into a lake.

Since the free sandwich offer was introduced three years ago, owner Leigh Turner has found plenty of takers. “We’ve had two or three a week,” he said.

Mr. Jindal, Meet Mr. Crow

Ah, it’s deja vu all over again. Clear case of racism in Jena. After a lot of hard work, individual blogs run by people of color, sometimes under nasty threats, cover this story enough for it to be taken up by the traditional media (usually badly, but that’s the way it goes). Add to that, these blogs, along with grassroots organizations, through the intertubes and radio, organize an astonishing march in Jena, a march for civil rights, for equal protection under the law.

And the unjust charges which would have put Mychal Bell away for way too many years are reduced by the racist DA.

Does anyone think this would have happened without protest, without media coverage of this injustice? Because I don’t. But seems Louisiana gubernatorial candidate Bobby Jindal has a different view, a — shall we say — “old-fashioned” view.

Thanks to NOLA blogger oyster over at Your Righthand Thief — well, actually, thanks to one of his commenters, N. La. Lady, Mr. Jindal seems to be living in an older America, say, the Jim Crow era.

While the peaceful protest was going on in Jena, Mr. Jindal was stumping in Shreveport, speaking to students at LSUS. His reaction to the peaceful protest?

When asked about the impact of racial conflict in Louisiana, his response was déjà vu – unpleasantly reminiscent of the words and attitudes of southern politicians of not so long ago. When asked to comment on the demonstration in Jena, he said, “We don’t need anybody to divide us. We certainly don’t need outside agitators to cause problems.”

This comment attributed to Jindal was posted a while back over at Your Righthand Thief, but several commenters wanted more proof that this had been said — thinking that of course this kind of language would have made the news … wouldn’t it?

Turns out Tannie Lewis Bradley wrote an op-ed piece at the Shreveport Times, which is where the quote above originated, giving further credence to this story.

Outside agitators. Hmm, where have I heard this before?

Perhaps from Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail — yeah, come to think of it he had something to say about that phrase:

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds

Two different views here. I prefer Mr. King’s view to Mr. Jindal’s. I don’t think it is a coincidence that Mr. Jindal used the words “outside agitator.” And I don’t think he needed to consult The Racist Codebook to do so. It’s a state of mind, a view point that is crystal clear. Anyone who followed this case knows that without “outside agitators,” Mychal Bell would have been tried as an adult and put away for a long long time.

The courts realized this, even the DA realized this – belatedly. And they finally bowed to justice only because of this outside agitation.

Mr. Jindal — meet Mr. Jim Crow. I’m sure you’ll have a lot to talk about. And I hope we all talk a lot about you, too. I don’t live in Louisiana. But I live in the United States. And I agree with Martin Luther King when it comes to the “interrelatedness of all communities and states,” especially when it comes to justice.

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