Monday, February 26, 2007

Over 513,000 tractors built in the last three months alone!

So one thing I've learned over the last 6 years is that when the President says something in public, you can bet that the exact opposite of that statement is actually the truth.

Take, for example, this statement on the official White House "Jobs and Economic Growth" website.

"Real After-Tax Income Per Person Has Risen By 9.8 Percent – More Than $2,800 – Since The President Took Office."

Hooray!! Really? That's a bunch. Gee, thanks, Mr. President for making all of that income growth.

And yet we hear that an "American Journal of Preventive Medicine study... found that since 2000, the number of severely poor — far below basic poverty terms — in the United States has grown 'more than any other segment of the population.'"

So who do we believe? Do we believe the President's statement that "When people across the world look at America's economy what they see is low inflation, low unemployment, and the fastest growth of any major industrialized nation,"?

Or do we believe one of those "scientific" studies based on data from the Census Bureau that says things like this:

"Worker productivity has increased dramatically since the brief recession of 2001, but wages and job growth have lagged behind. At the same time, the share of national income going to corporate profits has dwarfed the amount going to wages and salaries," the study found.

"That helps explain why the median household income for working-age families, adjusted for inflation, has fallen for five straight years.

"These and other factors have helped push 43% of the nation's 37 million poor people into deep poverty — the highest rate since at least 1975."

Now, personally, I don't know why USA Today has to go all the way to Agence-France Presse to get economic news. It seems like they could have just pulled some fun facts off of the White site, slapped a happy picture on it, and called it a day. We would never have been the wiser. But now they've gone and published foreign stories about our illustrious economy that might make our national balls shirk in embarrassment. Shame on AFP for writing such blatant unvarnished truth. And shame on USA Today for publishing propaganda that hadn't been approved by our government. And worse, it was written by those Frenchy tarts at AFP. If it's not good enough to get Americans to write about, then it isn't true.

I guess in New America, everyone really is entitled to their own facts. You're free America. You're free to believe everything the government tells you to believe.

Now go back to sleep, America. I'm sorry I woke you. Don't mind me.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Conservapedia Insanita

Many people are doing posts on the new conservative alternative to Wikipedia called Conservapedia. I was not going to jump on that bandwagon until I read some of it myself. This is proof that there are some people in this country that really do want to create their own reality. Here are some nuggets that I found:

Ninteenth [sic] Amendment

"In an early example of judicial activism, this amendment was ratified in 1920, as advocates ("suffragettes") cited women's support of World War I to persuade President Woodrow Wilson to change his position from opposing this amendment to supporting it. Women could already vote in many areas of the country, but this amendment guaranteed the right, in violation of the principle of states' rights."
Judicial activism? Really? How?

A slightly more disturbing passage is the one on the Crusades. I find the following point quite scary:
"Some Christians fully defend the Crusades, and proudly compare the United States’ invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq to a modern version of the Crusades."
How about some more crazy:

"Modern liberals are treasonous and generally hate America."
Hate Crime:
"Liberals promote hate crime legislation for two reasons: (1) to publicize and sometimes exaggerate the importance of prejudice and (2) to legitimize certain lifestyles by declaring them to be protected by law. Under the second reason, hate crime legislation is a stepping stone for a lifestyle to become protected under anti-discrimination laws."
"The Left is this guy. He must be stopped."
I wish I were making that last one up, but I am not. See here.
But, this is enough for now. There is plenty more to sift through and I may post more in the future. Until then, enjoy these:

Encyclopedia Red State and

I'm assuming many conservatives are embarrassed by Conservapedia

Saturday, February 24, 2007

March Protest

I think there needs to be a conversation about the March 17th protest. I haven't seen any left wing sites talk about the right wing chatter that has been culminating, so I will start the conversation. The thinking people in the blogosphere need to address this "chatter" before the protest, not afterwards. From scanning the internets, it seems that the right wingers are frothing at the mouth to make this thing go sour. The Fr**pers are all on alert. They have all but said that they will try and start a riot. Some quotes from a thread about the protest are:

- "This is the big one"
- "A riot is an ugly thing, and it's about time we had one."
- "Blackwater ops on the way."
- "One riot = One Ranger."
- "5.56mm"

I think everyone that is planning on attending the protest needs to realize that there is a chance that some right wing militants will try to make this thing turn ugly. There is a history of instigators infiltrating peaceful protests in this country. As the fr**pers clearly state, it only takes one person to start a riot. It seems that this is their goal.

I know that some protest veterans may say that this is always a possibility and there is nothing to worry about. However, this is the first major protest since the republicans lost Congress. The right-wing fringe is feeling threatened and there is no telling what they may do. Like they said, "this is the big one." The alternate world that these people have created in their heads is falling apart around them. Personally, I think they are capable of anything at this point. (Note the reference to the 5.56mm round)

What does this mean?
This post is not intended as fear-mongering. I am not trying to dissuade people from going to the protest. I think that everyone that can go should go. What I am doing is trying to start a dialog. We need to be talking about this before something happens to ensure that more people will understand what happened if things turn ugly. These things tend to get covered up or not even talked about. Why? Tell me your thoughts.

Also, if you have been to protests like this before, what should one expect?

Friday, February 23, 2007

How Far Must We Fall?

How much further do we have to go before hitting rock bottom? How far do we go before we see more than just rhetorical wars of the words? When can we begin to have intelligent conversations about the direction that this country has taken? Will it be after another war is waged, or the economy has crashed, or the middle class disappears? How long must we let this failed conservative experiment play out before we can finally change course? Because that is what we are seeing right now. Everything from foreign to domestic policy is a failure that is continually getting worse.

I scour the blogosphere desperately looking for some semblance of serious discussion of important issues, usually to no avail. There are only a few blogs that even bring up these important issues. Unfortunately, too often, I see that these are the least commented on posts. And even when the posts do get attention, they quickly fall prey to a diversion troll. It almost seems that after the November elections, the nation went back to sleep.

People think that the stupid little victory in November is meaningful. Only slightly. While the democrats can bring some balance back to the government in some cases, the big problems that plague our country still exist and they are still festering. Health care costs are still rising. The "war" in Iraq is not ending anytime soon. (The newest estimate is that it will be another 10 years before we even think about leaving!! ) The gap between the rich and the poor is rising at a fast pace. Housing, food, and fuel costs are rising. The deficit is soaring. Meanwhile, we are giving tax cuts to the rich. The US is threatening Iran. Ships are piling up just outside their border. Our rights have been chipped away little by little. Religious fundamentalism is on the rise. How long can we sustain the current course we are on? What can we do to stop it? And how do we do anything when the rhetoric from both sides of the American political spectrum sound so much alike?

As far as I see it, there are two main groups that are shaping the rhetoric. There are the American centric nationalists on the right and the American centric populists on the left. (Not the true left. American politics is skewed to the right, so the "left" I am referring to is probably the middle in any balanced nation.) These two groups are made up of mostly the same type of people. They are both hurting and they have both been conditioned to redirect their frustrations on some foreign entity. Both groups are very similar in the targets of their frustration. The right is more fervent in their hatred of the target groups, but in general, both sides are guilty of projecting their frustrations. You will find the same American centric racist slant from both the nationalists and the populists in regards to Muslims and Hispanics.

For example, this week Rush Limbaugh was railing against the US allowing 7000 Iraqis take refuge in this country. At crooks and liars, there was a post about the democratic governor of Ohio who said that he didn't want the Iraqis in his state. I thought, for sure, that the comments would consist of disgust towards the callousness of the governor's statements. But, about 50% or more of the comments were in agreement with the governor and Rush. However, to be fair, the commenters on C&L are a new group of the populist democrats I mentioned above. I am not sure what happened to some of the real liberals that made that site great, but it has greatly deteriorated since they have left.

The scary thing is it seems that we have actually went a notch further to the right over the last few months rather than moving back towards the middle. And, yes, I said towards the middle. Right now, we are so far right as a country, that a large portion of the democrats can be characterized as right of center. Which basically means that we barely have a democracy, at least not a true democracy. It seems that if your ideas do not fit into a small window between center and extreme right, you are not seen as a true American. How is that democracy? How is it that so many of us have NO voice in politics? The way I see it, we nearly have a oligarchy. Businesses have more say in how the government acts than the millions of citizens. And, yet, we continually obsess over whether gays should marry or whether Hillary should be president? (NO. She should not! Are two families the only ones capable of running this country? Why not just declare that we are an aristocracy?)

We are screwed. We, as a nation, have let the wealthiest people and corporations completely take over our government and it will be damn near impossible to get it back. The corporations and the wealthiest people in the world are screwing us and other poor people in other nations, but too many of us take their cue and blame who they tell us to blame for the mess they made. CAFTA and NAFTA really hurt Central and South American families. That is one of the main causes in the increase in people over the border. Our companies made the families there destitute. Our jobs are then shipped off to China and India because the corporations know that they can take advantage of the people there. By doing this, they leave entire towns destitute here in the states. And who do they tell us to blame? They tell us that it is the Mexican's fault. Although, the Hispanic peoples are suffering from the same ills we are. And the masses eat it up. Our jobs have been shipped to China because of corporate greed, and the Mexicans are to blame. It doesn't make sense when you spell it out like that, but people will still eat it up.

And for another twist, China is now outsourcing some of the jobs that we have outsourced to them to poorer countries such as Vietnam. So, when does the chain stop? And what happens when it does? What is driving this whole corrupt machine is the need for quick, easy money. The corporations move their businesses to poorer and poorer countries and pay the people crap. We get somewhat cheaper crap than we were getting. However, we all need cheaper crap because the corporations took the good paying jobs away and we are all working in the service sector. Maybe when the republican dream is realized and we have shanty towns full of our own destitute people who are desperate for any work at all, they will move the manufacturing sector back here. Then China can buy some cheap American made products.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Tao and the Art of Climate Repair

"A sage governs this way:

He empties the people's minds and fills their bellies.
He weakens their wills and strengthens their bones.
Keep the people always without knowledge and without desires,
For then the clever will not dare act.
Engage in no action and order will prevail."


The religious right's never ending War on Science seems to be an effort to follow this 2300 year old nugget of Chinese philosophy. Laozi's idea was that if the people are ignorant and plain, they will be good little worker bees with no thoughts of advancement, either social or technological. In his mind, this would lead to an introverted, simple, peaceful society.

Perhaps more accurately, I believe it would lead to a society of minds that are more easy to mold to the whims of the leader. At the time, Laozi was also advocating inaction on the part of the king or governor. However, with today's religious and political leaders taking a more active (and destructive) path, the simple-minded population they are bent on creating will only be more likely to follow them blindly down the destructive path they are creating.

From Burnt Orange Report, via C&L:

Evolution is a religious conspiracy

"It's enough to set the world a-spinning that the chairman of the [Texas] House Appropriations Committee, the most powerful committee in the House, distributed to legislators a memo pitching crazed wingers who believe the earth stands still -- doesn't spin on its axis or revolve around the Sun -- that Copernicus was part of a Jewish conspiracy to undermine the Old Testament.

Why fund public schools or keep colleges available to the middle class if they are filling our children's heads with damaging Kabbalistic fantasies? (Yes, Copernicus, Darwin et al are part of a Kabbalistic Conspiracy according to the fixed-earth crowd)."

This was brought on by a letter written in the name of a member of the Georgia state House by the proprietor of, a purely batshit crazy place where they ignore and/or manufacture science in the interest of getting evolution out of schools and replacing it with creationism. They just want to use a Jewish conspiracy to do it. A lot of people were all upset over the Jewish thing, including the ADL, but that was just the means to an end, as far as I can see. The end they want to accomplish is the same as the B of E in the Dover case, and the same as the Kansas B of E. They want their particular religion implanted in the school system, at any cost.

It really does require a particularly stunning ignorance of physics and astronomy to arrive at some of the conclusions this guy reaches. I tried to sift through some of it, but i couldn't find (1) any purported scientific evidence to support his claim of a fixed earth or (2) any correct information about the currently accepted cosmology he was supposedly trying to refute. He missed some really basic things about modern cosmology, like the age of the universe. When you claim that an ancient Kabbalah text set the age of the universe at 15 billion years, and that proves that modern cosmology is a Jewish conspiracy, it might be interesting to point out that the currently accepted age of the universe is more like 13 billion years. That might not be important to him, but it's pretty important to astrophysicists. And when you talk about Newton's "invented math" (i.e. calculus) that he used to solve the planetary motion problems, you should probably mention that he invented calculus because the systems were a little too complex for simple algebra. I mean, you could do it with algebra, but it would take so much more paper. What if Newton's hand had cramped halfway through doing all that algebra, and he just said, "Ahhh, fuck it! Who cares why the planets go around in circles. I'm going to go sit back under that nice apple tree." I suppose as a corollary to his designs on ending evolution, he should also advocate stopping math education at algebra. And I guess he would want Pythagoras' "occult" geometry taken out as well. I suppose he wants school to cover reading skills to the point where a student can read the Bible, and then send them home to work in the factory.

Anyway, the fact that the chair of the National Council of State Legislators committee on Agriculture, Environment, and Energy seems to give this crackpot enough credence to pass his tripe around to the entire Texas state legislature is scary enough. Is there no one in government with enough scientific background to refute these claims outright? Apparently not. It seems everyone wants to jump on the Anti-Semite bandwagon first, rather than the Anti-Science this guy was trying to push onto people.

Maybe this has something to do with it:

Knowledge of core subjects increasing, but so is belief in pseudoscience

"In 1988 only about 10 percent knew enough about science to understand reports in major newspapers, a figure that grew to 28 percent by 2005.

People are giving increasing credence to pseudoscience such as the visits of space aliens, lucky numbers and horoscopes.

In addition, these researchers noted an increase in college students who report they are “unsure” about creationism as compared with evolution.

There also has been a drop in the number of people who believe evolution correctly explains the development of life on Earth and an increase in those who believe mankind was created about 10,000 years ago.

Miller said a second major negative factor to scientific literacy was religious fundamentalism and aging."

So here we have a direct correlation between religious fundamentalism, belief in creationism, and belief in aliens and horoscopes. Well, to be fair, the article did suggest that the belief in astrology may be tempered by people's confusing astrology and astronomy. I would argue that people who confuse the two don't actually know that much about astronomy.

Anyway, while religion serves a social function, providing a place for communities to grow, a place for social structure and trust to form, etc, when religion gets in the way of human advancement, it presents a larger negative social impact than the positive influences it brings. If you have a very strong sense of community, but your city is going to be underwater in 30 years when the glaciers melt, it doesn't really matter how many people brought you a casserole when you were sick or how everyone coo-ed over your niece at her baptism. Your city is underwater.

Which brings us to this:

Poll Finds High School Students Don’t Understand Climate Change Issues

"[T]he average high school student believes climate change has no consequences for them in their lifetime, according to the survey. The average high school student fails a quiz on the causes and consequences of climate change...

Students who are not affiliated with any religious denomination know more about climate change, and are 13 percent more likely to believe the U.S. should reduce greenhouse gases."

This particular type of scientific ignorance is, perhaps, the most dangerous, simply because of the potential level of disaster involved. The International Panel on Climate Change released a major report earlier this month. It didn't seem to make much of a splash in the major media outlets here, at least compared to the relative significance of the report to other "news" stories at the time (i.e. diaper on an astronaut, some lady died, etc) that got played out over a painfully long time. Why didn't a major report of several hundred scientists from around the world get more attention and respect payed to it? I have an idea. This was the Working Group 1 report on the Physical Science Basis for climate change. That's going to have a bunch of big words and science-y terms in it, like "paleoclimate" and "radiative forcing" and "biogeochemistry". No one understands words like that, so no one would "get" a news report about the report.

Maybe when WG 2 report comes out in April on "Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability", it will get more attention. I sure hope so, because that one will probably have more direct application to our lives, like the projected outcomes of our inaction that we will have to adapt to, the potential cultural and socio-economic impact of climate change, etc. And then WG 3 in May will tell us how we can maybe stop some of this from happening at all. Please America, learn a little when these reports come out. I'm sure other people around the world would like you to. It's OK, really. You don't have to be science dumb. It's not hard and it doesn't hurt. The reports explain everything for you. Just give it a try.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Erratic behavior

My internet connection has been sketchy. I have had a hard time getting and staying connected. So, if I am not around, I am probably not able to get online.

On other topics:

I am not sure why I even bother with this blog. Who cares? Who listens? I am not sure anymore. People seem to get more and more stupid as time goes on. I am surrounded by kids who have no idea why we went to Iraq or anything about the lies that led us to the war. They were only in junior high when we invaded and they think that we should 'stay the course' because their parents are conservative republicans who obviously teach them that phrase along side the alphabet. When asked why we went to Iraq, they cannot answer. They have no clue about what is going on. You may think I am over exaggerating, but these kids don't know anything at all.

When asked in a political science class when Bush made the axis of evil speech, one student said 2004. The same student, when asked, said that the Iraq war started in 2001. How's that for critical thinking? The poor kid somehow thinks the Iraq war began three years before the 'axis of evil' speech. Another student, when asked to label a map of the Middle East, put North Korea next to Iraq. These are college students!

There really is no point to this post and that is why there is no clear definition to it. If you find that I am just all over the place, I am. I don't care. It is 3:00 a.m. and I got a glass of wine, and I could care less.

A final word on stupidity:

Paid for by your tax dollars, a word from a soon to be military officer:

"I hope Stephen Colbert runs for President. We need a good South Carolina republican running for president."

That was a serious comment. I wish it were a joke, but it is not. Maybe more frightening, however, is that he is a political science major. I am sure he has a future job at the AEI.

I guess the better part of the above story was the look on his face when he was corrected. I am told that he looked like he was about to cry. I think about this guy and how he must have worshiped this fake character on TV and I laugh my ass off. It is so sad, but so fucking hilarious at the same time. What a dumbass.

I guess I should wrap this up. I am on my third glass of wine since I started this post. If I keep writing, I will end up at four glasses and an inability to write correctly. So, goodbye for now.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Deja Vu

For anyone that has noticed the increased rhetoric from the Administration about Iran:

Tony Snow cleared it all up for us yesterday in his press briefing:

Tony Snow: We've declared it over and over — we're not going to war with them. Let me make that clear. So anybody who is trying to use this as "the administration trying to lay the predicate for a war with Iran" — no, we're committed to diplomacy with Iran. But we are also committed to protecting our forces.

Now, see? All cleared up. No reason to doubt Mr. Snow. It's not like our leadership would lie right to our faces about such an important issue. And it's not like there is a precedent for this kind of behavior. It reminds me of 2002 when good ole Rummy let us know the truth about Iraq:

WASHINGTON — The United States has no plans to invade Iraq or any other country, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Friday, but he refused to discuss the Bush administration's thinking about how to deal with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Think about this for a while:

"It may be hard to follow George W. Bush's path to [...] because he is walking down two roads at once. The only way diplomacy can succeed is if Bush is fully prepared for it to fail."

"So word spreads that his generals are planning to mount a military exercise in the Persian Gulf ....... even as his diplomats are hard at work on a United Nations resolution..."

(and before you click the link, try to guess what country the passage is referring to)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

What Are You Fighting For?

This is my first attempt at making a video. I hope you enjoy it.

The interesting thing about art is that the feelings you have, that you can never quite put into words, all come streaming out. - me

Been gone too long

Sorry for the disappearing act...again. I have been working on a side project for the blog. I can't tell you what it is, but it will be a first for me. It should be ready soon. I hope it will make up for my absence.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

American Education

How much have things changed? I graduated high school in 2000, and I would say...not much.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Word Games

When does a word end in -ous and when does it end in -us? I am not an English major or anything, so I am not going to be technical and drone on about any rules to follow etc. But, I will try to help by pointing out something I was thinking about tonight when I couldn't get to sleep.

Let's take ridiculous, or is it ridiculus?

It is ridiculous.
(I sometimes accidentally write rediculous, but I try to remember the root word is ridicule)

How can we remember this? Well I was going over the English language in my head and I realized something. More often than not, the word will end with -ous. Also, you will notice that the words in the first list that end with -ous are all adjectives while the second list that ends with -us are nouns. If in my sleepiness, I got one incorrect, let me know (it is 4:00 in the morning). I am not sure if that is always the case, but it seems to be more likely the case. I am sure there are exceptions, there always are.

Here are some examples of -ous:


Here are some examples of -us:

An interesting thing about this second group is the plural version of some of them:

I am not sure what the point of this was, but I hope someone found it useful.
*I couldn't sleep until I wrote down all these words that were swirling in my head.*

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

I see London, I see France

I see Europe's underpants.

And they are gross 70 year old underpants. They are nasty, shit-stained, fascist colored underpants.

Haven't we done all of this before? What happened to Europe the shining star of liberalism? What happened to the Europe that learned from the mistakes of their predecessors? I don't expect as much from Americans, but the Europeans have made such a big deal about how they have moved on since WWII and everyone is all enlightened since the end of the Cold War. Aren't they all just one big happy European family with a regional parliament and everything? Isn't the EU supposed to be some kind of model for something?

Then explain this one.

"The "Identity, Tradition, and Sovereignty" caucus, born Jan. 16, is constituted inside the European Parliament. It includes the "Attack" party from Bulgaria, which published lists of Bulgarian Jews on its website; the party of Alexandra Mussolini, grand-daughter of Italy's World War II fascist leader; and is led by Bruno Gollnisch of Jean-Marie Le Pen's far-right French party, who faced trial in Lyon this fall for Holocaust denial...

European democracies are "now under the influence of a ultranationalist current," argues Pascal Perrineau, a university professor at the Fondation National de Sciences Politiques in Paris. The right is given a boost by East European groups: "In less than a year, we saw in Poland a government with the hardest extreme-right representatives. We saw in Slovakia the building of an coalition with social-democrats, nationalists, and right populists. We saw in Hungary increasing agitation maintained by the extreme right, in reaction to declarations of Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany.

"All these are examples of a rapid populist development, waiting since the end of the fall of the Iron Curtain, but more noticeable when these countries joined the European family."

Europe now has two variants of the far right, "the respectable far-right parties, and the unrepentant extremist far right. In fact, they don't have much difference between them."

"We had 23 million voters for our party, so I hardly think we are extremists," counters Claeys. "We expect by 2009 [the next European-wide election] to be in much better shape."

Hell, 23 million voters in America is enough support to justify a war. What's happening to this place? How can anyone get so upset over an imaginary line someone drew on a piece of paper 800 years ago?

For your continued reading pleasure:

In Spain, signs that far right is on the rise

"[Spain] hosts a bewildering array of smaller extremist groups. Their numbers appear to be expanding as old-style fascists and Franco-supporters are joined by young neonazis, skinheads, and the "ultras," or politically extremist hooligans, who congregate at soccer games. Most of these groups espouse racist, anti-Semitic, and xenophobic ideas; many promote "white pride." All embrace violence."

And I know Japan isn't in Europe, but read this one too.

So much for Abe's reconciliation policy

"Whether it is on education, textbook revision, the emperor system, relations with Taiwan or any of the other touchstone ideological issues facing Japan, Abe belongs to the very far right. A key tenet of this far right is that Japan is destined to confront China in Asia. Abe has surrounded himself with defense and foreign-policy advisers who make no secret of their hostility to China. Among them is former diplomat and prominent rightwing ideologue Hisahiko Okazaki, who is quoted by Time Asia as saying: "The balance of power will be between the U.S.-Japan alliance and China. China has to deal with this reality. We have to be prepared for war." Is Beijing really doing itself a favor by seeming to want to accept the presence and attitudes of these people?"

Personally, I would like to know if it is in America's interests to accept the presence and attitudes of these people. Do we really want to hang out with a bunch of guys who think it is their destiny to go to war with China? By the way, it is another of Abe's stated policy positions that he wishes to amend the Japanese constitution to provide for either the creation of an offensive military or for a "defensive" nuclear arsenal. He then would like to "defensively" use this nuclear weapon against N. Korea. You know, following the Bush doctrine of preemptively "defending" yourself against any potential future threat, whether real or imagined, by completely destroying it now, thus guaranteeing that at some point in the future, that entity will be strong again, and will surely seek retribution, even though it may not have ever been a threat to you in the first place. Oh, just read the rest of the article. You'll see what I mean.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Let Them Eat Cake

Bush sends $2.9 trillion budget to Congress
Big increases for the military, cuts for domestic programs

WASHINGTON - President Bush sent a $2.9 trillion spending plan to a Democratic-controlled Congress on Monday, proposing a big increase in military spending, including billions more to fight the war in Iraq, while squeezing the rest of government to meet his goal of eliminating the deficit in five years.

Bush's spending plan would make his first-term tax cuts permanent, at a cost of $1.6 trillion over 10 years. He is seeking $78 billion in savings in the government's big health care programs - Medicare and Medicaid - over the next five years.

"The president's budget is filled with debt and deception, disconnected from reality and continues to move America in the wrong direction," said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D.

The arrival of the massive four-volume set of green budget books, which will cover the budget year that begins next Oct. 1, will be followed by months of debate in Congress. Democrats charged that Bush wants to make painful cuts across a wide swath of government programs while protecting tax cuts that will make the deficit worse after 2012.

“In real terms, Bush’s plan is going to have very substantial cuts by the fifth year of this budget in all of the domestic priorities from education and health care to law enforcement and veterans,” Conrad said. “With Democrats in control, we will have different priorities.”

To accomplish those reductions, Bush would allow only modest growth in the government programs outside of defense and homeland security. He is proposing eliminations or sharp reductions in 141 government programs, for a savings over five years of $12 billion, although Congress has rejected many of the same proposals over the past two years.

Bush’s budget would achieve nearly $100 billion in savings over five years by trimming increases in Medicare, the health insurance program for 43 million retirees and disabled, and Medicaid which provides health care to the poor.

I hate this man. Greedy asshole. He will pay for his wars and fund tax cuts for the wealthy while killing social programs and putting this nation in further debt. When will we wake up and realize that we are heading toward feudalism with the ever widening gap between the rich and the poor. Sick.

No More War

Retired officers ask for diplomacy, not war, with Iran. From MSNBC:
Three former high-ranking U.S. military officers have called for Britain to help defuse the crisis over Iran's nuclear program, saying military action against Tehran would be a disaster for the region.

In a letter to the Sunday Times newspaper, the three former officers urged President Bush to open talks, "without preconditions," with the Iranian government in a bid to find a diplomatic solution.

The signatories were retired Lt. Gen. Robert G. Gard, a senior military fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation in Washington, D.C.; retired Marine Gen. Joseph P. Hoar, former head of U.S. Central Command; and Vice Adm. Jack Shanahan, former director of the Center for Defense Information.

They said Britain "has a vital role to play in securing a renewed diplomatic push" and urged Prime Minister Tony Blair to make it clear he would oppose any military attack on Iran. The officers said an attack "would have disastrous consequences for security in the region, coalition forces in Iraq and would further exacerbate regional and global tensions."

"The current crisis must be resolved through diplomacy," they said.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Breaking News: Terrorist Video Found on YouTube

We must be vigilant against the threats these "terrorists" pose.

Gulf of Tonkin Redux and the Coming Wider War

So MSN is reporting that because tensions are so high between the US and Iran that some small "accident" could suddenly flare into a direct conflict between the two countries. According to some unnamed military officer, we could find ourselves back in 1914 all over again. But he assures us that he "really believe[s] neither side wants a fight.”

And earlier this week, Bush said as much to a reporter. He literally laughed off the suggestion that America would go to war with Iran, while in the same breath reaffirming that, like always, "all options are on the table."

It's Deja Vu all over again. Tonight, Olbermann spliced together Bush speeches from 2002 and 2007 about Iraq and Iran, respectively. His argument was that the rhetoric in both speeches was the same. Bush claims to seek diplomatic resolution to the Iraqi situation months after Special Forces are already in country prepping for the war that has already been decided upon. At that point in late 2002, he is still trying to make the argument for legal justification for a war that is already happening. Meanwhile, back in 2007, Bush makes similar noises about diplomacy and freedom and loving the people but hating the leaders, in Iran this time.

And now, for those who still aren't paying attention, the rhetoric reaches a painfully idiotic tenor today. With entirely unfounded claims and admittedly baseless speculation, administration personnel are claiming that Iranian agents might have planned or carried out the raid on the security office in Karballah the other day. Apparently, it was much too sophisticated for the Iraqi militias to have carried it out (and what that sentiment says about the level of training we have imparted to the Iraqi Army in the 4 years we've been there is disheartening at best). And apparently it would be easier for Iranians to get ahold of American military uniforms, weapons, vehicles, and communication equipment than for the Iraqis to have done it themselves.

And with the number of US Navy vessels in the Gulf region growing at an alarming rate, admittedly in a show of force against Iran, it becomes harder to believe that Bush is not willfully trying to provoke action.

And then, back to that anonymous military officer where we started:

"Iranian coast guard vessels recently veered into territorial waters on the Arab side of the gulf, an event that could have been viewed as either a mistake or a provocation, the officer said. Both sides are on tenterhooks. “A boat crosses a line ... but what does it mean? You’ve got to be very careful about overreacting,” the officer said."

Which brings us to the Gulf of Tonkin. For those of you long on reactionary impulses and short on brains, I'll remind you what, to the best of anyone's knowledge, happened that day.

Nothing. Nothing at all of any significance happened that day. That's what really kicked off the Vietnam war. A sonar tech who thought he heard something. Everyone was worried it was a torpedo fired by a NV patrol boat. So, naturally, word got sent back to Washington that the NV were definitely firing torpedoes on our ships, even though there was pretty solid evidence by the next day that there were no torpedoes, as evidenced by the thorough lack of explosions in the Tonkin Gulf. You can read about this here. And please don't bring up how the US patrol boats were only 11 nautical miles off the coast of Vietnam. That makes people uncomfortable.

Which brings us to Havana, late 19th century. "Remember the Maine" they would all shout. Those dirty Spaniards blew up our ship. Kill, conquer, death, colonize! To this day, no one is really sure what blew up the USS Maine, but historians are pretty sure it WASN'T the Spanish setting bombs. Leading theories involve a mechanical failure in the boiler or sabotage by the sailors on board.

Which brings us to Bush. He claims that he has no plans of escalating the situation or leading us into a wider war. He assures us that he has no plans to start a war with Iran.

Which brings us to a song by Phil Ochs. It goes like this.

We Seek No Wider War