horses and saddles sold cheap and other metaphors

Friday, January 20, 2006

This is a commercial site, NatureMill...
How it works - sealed inner chambers

No more emptying the compost crock, or mixing the compost bin. Just add food and paper items at any time, on any day. For best results, cut items into small pieces, and add a tablespoon of baking soda to balance acidity. Waste is automatically transfered to the sealed inner reactor, where the computer controls mixing, air flow, temperature, and moisture (see diagram). The energy released produces "hot composting" conditions, eliminating odors, pathogens, and unwanted seed germination. The compost is later transferred to the cure tray, where it waits until emptied.

I used to keep a compost pile, but as free time tends to shrink with age, now I just buy compost. This NatureMill thingy sounds like a good idea though, easier then what I used to do with tables scraps and wilted veggies, I'd put them in a blender with a little epson salt and throw the mix in the compost pile over the winter. If you've never had a garden grown tomato you have no idea what a real tomato tastes like.
Hope I haven't spoiled that comical cliche that Democrats don't believe in being self sufficient.

While I have seen some pretty severe Founding Father bashing on the web, for the most part they have all taken on what is probably an unhealthy form of patriotic sainthood. I still find them remarkably wise about some things, Ben Franklin resources on the web
There is in Humane Nature a certain charming Quality, innate and original to it, which is called SIMPLICITY. In latter Ages, this has been almost universally exploded, and banished from amongst Men, as the Characteristic of Folly; whilst Cunning and Artifice have prevailed in its stead, and with equal Justice been dignified with the Titles of Wisdom and Understanding. But I believe the juster Account of the Matter is, that Simplicity is the homespun Dress of Honesty, and Chicanery and Craft are the Tinsel Habits and the false Elegance which are worn to cover the Deformity of Vice and Knavery.

Speaking of chicanery and craft.... The Justice Department tries again
(1) It is now beyond dispute that the Administration is claiming that George Bush has the right to order any activity or action on the part of the Government -- including against American citizens and even if it transgresses the limitations of the law -- as long as the President simply claims that such actions are necessary to protect America against terrorists. According to the Administration, then, neither the law, nor the courts, nor Congress, nor anything else, can interfere with, limit or even review the President's powers.

I don't remember not ever being able to swim. I have flashes of memory where someone is holding me up a little while I splashed around. I assume these memories were of my first swimming lessons, yet I am endlessly amazed at how quickly infants take to water......Little Urchins: Underwater Photography

Is Bush giving Democracy a bad name
The King has put his lies in black print on white paper, now if everyone would bow.....via Tapped and NYT, BUT TELL US WHAT YOU REALLY THINK.
Now they just suggest their critics are traitors helping the other side, respond to allegations of domestic spying by saying, essentially, "damn right we're spying on you," open McCarthyesque investigations into whoever leaks their illegal secrets, and justify their actions on the theory that the president can do as he damn well pleases. It's refreshing.

Sidelining Human Rights, is just one of the thorns in the argument that Bush is spreading democracy as the US continues to support repressive regimes, allow tortue and questionable detentions without due process. It turns out he does have company.
In an introduction to the report, most of which is devoted to assessing important rights-related developments over the year in more than 70 countries, HRW's Executive Director Kenneth Roth stressed that while the administration's detention policies were particularly destructive, its support—or at least tolerance—of abusive allies in the war on terror was also costly.

It cited in particular its backing for Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf; its equivocal response to the massacre of hundreds of protestors in Andijan, Uzbekistan, last May; its lifting of military sanctions against Indonesia; and its failure to speak out more forcefully against repression in Russia and serious rights abuses in Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

”The same calculus that led the administration to adopt policies of abusive interrogation and arbitrary detention—the belief that human rights can be sacrificed in the name of fighting terrorism—led it to disregard the promotion of democracy, let alone human rights, with respect to governments that it viewed as allies,” the report asserted.

But Washington was not alone in its hypocrisy, it went on.

It noted that the British government headed by Prime Minister Tony Blair had not only acted as an ”apologist” for U.S. detention policies, but had also proposed adopting Washington's controversial practice of ”extraordinary renditions”—sending terrorist suspects to foreign governments that have a history of torturing radical Islamists—in violation of the U.N. Convention Against Torture.

I can't find the exact quote right now, but in an interview with Karl Rove, he said, and I paraphrase, that if it wasn't on TV it didn't happen. The nation in general sees Bush on TV saying that he's protecting America and spreading democracy, there is the very boring echo by right-wing pundits, Main Street America goes to bed thinking all is well and anyone that questions this Whitehouse/media created reality is unamerican. There have been cracks in all the pretense, but not nearly enough of them.

This may explain in part why the far right freeper mentality has no problem with 30,000 dead Iraqis, or torture, or even sacrificing the rule of law for dubious reasons wrapped in legalisms and suppossed national security, Brain scans reveal men's pleasure in revenge

But tellingly, activity dropped much more in men when watching cheaters being buzzed. In addition, several other regions of male participants' brains "lit up" instead – areas linked to the experience of reward known as the ventral striatum/nucleus accumbens and orbito-frontal cortex.

The results suggest that men not only feel less empathy for cheaters but experience pleasure when they are punished.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Are Conservative Republicans Now America's Permanent Ruling Class?
The political pundits are wrong, but your high-school civics teacher was right: Thanks to federalism, separated powers, checks and balances, staggered elections, and myriad other constitutional contrivances, the party in power has to govern by the ABC's — forging interparty alliances, striking bargains with officials in other branches and at other levels of government, and effecting compromises that usually induce less loyalty from the winners than enmity from the losers.

Especially when, as today, national political elites are ideologically polarized into partisan camps, unified party government is constitutionally conditioned to be a splendid curse for the party in power. Once that party is "in control" in both Congressional chambers and in the White House, the ABC's rudely awaken latent intraparty divisions and spark new, high-stakes internal battles over both ideas (who believes what) and interests (who gets what).

Historically the Democrats' New Deal coalition — Southern whites, northern blacks, union members, Catholics, Jews, and disparate others — had pretty much fallen apart by the time Nixon resold himself to America in 1968. But the Republicans' grand old "Main Street and Wall Street" coalition has always been a true political witch's brew, bound to bubble and boil over whenever the GOP and its conservative base — that is, bases, plural — control both Congressional chambers plus the White House.

In an early October 2005 cover story, "What's Gone Wrong for America's Right," The Economist magazine listed the contemporary GOP's conservative cleavages: small-government conservitives versus big-government conservatives, conservatives of faith versus conservatives of doubt, insurgent conservatives versus establishment conservatives, business conservatives versus religious conservatives, and neoconservatives versus traditional conservatives.

Exhibit A is the libertarian Cato Institute's edited volume assessing what Republicans have wrought since taking back the House in 1994 and achieving unified party control under George W. Bush. As the small-government conservatives see it, 10 years after the "Republican revolution," Bush-led Washington and the Republican Party have backslid into "business as usual."

I like the spirit of articles like this that suggest or allude to areas of common interests and reasonable compromise, but the truth is that Democrats have compromised with conservatives to the point that it seems like many people don't see Democrats as an alternative. How many times has Bill Clinton and the DNC been called Republican-lite. The result hasn't been a tweaking of the New Deal, which may have been needed, but an aggressive rollback of both the progressive agenda of many Democrats and old school small government Republicans.Not a few people have noticed the link between the Bush-Republicans authoritarian approach to government and the increase in both size and ineptitude. If there are any progressive conservatives left, where are they. I know that the right-wing smear machine gears up fast anytime someone questions De Leader, but now is not the time to remain silent.

Speaking of ineptitude........USDA investigators have criticized the agency for poor oversight of biotech crops.
HONOLULU (AP) -- In a report released quietly just before Christmas, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's investigative arm disclosed that the department failed to properly monitor thousands of acres of experimental biotechnology crops.

The report by the department's inspector general said USDA didn't thoroughly evaluate applications to grow experimental crops and then didn't ensure the genetically engineered plants were destroyed after experiments.

In several cases, the agency didn't even know where so-called field trials were located.

''The system has been set up practically as a self-reporting system,'' said Greg Jaffe, biotech director for the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest. ''It's a 'don't look, don't find' policy.''

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

There Is No Reason to Despair
The most recent modeling suggests the carbon dioxide equivalent of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere needs to peak at around 450 parts per million if we are to avoid the worst consequences of rapid climate change. It is still possible to avoid breaching this threshold, if the range of technologies and policies that are already available are deployed urgently. If politicians are willing to take the necessary action, the solutions could flourish.

The writer is referencing the UK, but it could just as well be the USA. If the people that are now using large trucks and SUVs more because they're the current fashion trend in tranportation then because of actual transportation needs would just move to a four or even six cylinder we as a nation would be doing quite a bit to cut emissions and be less dependent on oil imports. Then there's always the benefit we can all relate to, a few more bucks in our pocket at the end of the month.

No Correlation Between Bush Tax Cuts and Job Creation, Report Shows
The report reviewed administration claims that "tax cuts create jobs" and found the following:

* Tax cuts have no predictable effect on employment, either in job creation or job destruction.
* Since 2003, job creation has fallen millions of jobs short of the administration's promises.
* The current weakness in job creation during an economic recovery is unprecedented since World War II.

To a liberal this matters, to most modern Republicans thats the way things are supposed to be. The Republican attitude comes along with the package of social-darwinism that links prosperity with some virtrue. A virtrue that as a whole, Republicans don't have. Some grab the golden ring and some don't, thats the way the wage cookie crumbles. The I got mine, if you didn't get yours it was because you're lazy or just didn't kiss the right ass on K Street.

Via Daily Kos, it looks like Hillary Clinton is not the only one to make political analogies involving "plantations". I especially liked this one from Robert Dinosaur Novak
Where would the Democrats be if they're not picking up around 90 percent of the black vote? What if black voters started moving off the Democratic plantation?:

This is idicative of the almost unconscsious racism of some conservatives, the implication that African-Americans do not have minds of their own, ears of their own, or eyes of their own. African-Americans in Novak's view just don't know how to vote for what's in their best interests. Isn't Novak, Townhall, National Review, etc. in fact proponents of trickle down economics, the the economics of the plantation era updated for another century.

Stumbling across the depth of Republican corruption

America the Beautiful or subdivsions from sea to shining sea
I was reading this roundup of the major players in the Republican/Abramoff corruption scandal at WaPo.....Unraveling Abramoff, which is essential is you're trying to get a handle on the major players. In the past I have naively mentioned the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy as an example of moderate Republicans that still care about America's natural heritage. The WaPo article lists Italia Federici as part of the Abramoff circle of corruption and president of CREA.
Italia Federici: Federici is president of the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy. Over three years, Abramoff directed Indian tribes he represented to contribute about $500,000 to her group. Federici had a personal relationship with J. Steven Griles and e-mails show that Abramoff sought to use this connection to secretly help him lobby the Interior Department and obtain inside information affecting his tribal clients.

The WaPo article lead to some background on Federici and J. Steven Griles ( deputy secretary of the Interior Department, 2001-2004).....E-Mails Show Ex-Interior Official's Links to
Lobbyist Evidence Suggests Abramoff and Griles Had Close Ties
The e-mails made public this week show that Abramoff's dealings with Griles began at a March 1, 2001, social event. Before Griles took office, Abramoff offered him "strategic advice" on two Interior bureaus -- Insular Affairs and Indian Affairs -- whose decisions could affect his clients.

In an e-mail sent in September 2002, Abramoff reported to his lobbying team that he had a "great dinner with Griles," during which they discussed tribes seeking casinos that would compete with those of Abramoff's tribal clients. Abramoff told his team that Griles "is very excited" about a proposed "legislative fix" that would hamper efforts by the Jena Band of Choctaws to get land for a casino in Louisiana.

E-mails show Abramoff tried to influence Griles through Italia Federici, head of the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, a group co-founded by Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton. Griles had a personal relationship with Federici. Abramoff's tribal clients donated at least $250,000 to Federici's group. When Louisiana took action that moved the Jena plan along, Abramoff messaged Federici: "Can you make sure Steve knows about this and puts the kibosh on it? Thanks."

In other words Federici and CREA are just Potemkin environmentalists, a public image symbol used to only project the idea that they are Republicans that care about the environment. On their web site front and center is,
CREA believes conservation benefits all Americans. President George W. Bush has made great strides in protecting and improving the quality of America's land, air and water. Yet, some excessive and intolerant groups are attacking the president because his policies don't exclude people from the environment in which we live, work and play...

Which is a load of horse crap. From the Sierra Club, THE BUSH RECORD - More than 300 Crimes against Nature - Source: Natural Resources Defense Council
JUNE 1, 2004
Federal court rejects EPA's proposed snowmobile standards
JUNE 1, 2004
Administration delays greater protection for marbled murrelet to benefit timber industry
JUNE 2, 2004
Exemption of military from migratory-bird-protection rules proposed by administration
JUNE 2, 2004
New EPA rules allow more fine-particle pollution from 1,000 industrial plants
JUNE 3, 2004
Bush's 2005 budget zeroes out funding for research on abrupt climate change
JUNE 7, 2004
Bush wins ruling to allow Mexican trucks into U.S. without meeting clean-air standards
JUNE 8, 2004
Reduction in Snake and Columbia River water releases, harming Northwest salmon, announced
JUNE 15, 2004
Administration's pro-oil, pro-nuke energy proposal stalled in Congress
JUNE 24, 2004
Supreme Court ruling allows Cheney to keep energy-task-force secrets until after election
JULY 8, 2004
Bush team pushes one of biggest timber sales in U.S. history under guise of fire protection
JULY 12, 2004
Administration proposes forcing states to pay 2.5 times more for public transit than for roads
JULY 12, 2004
Administration to eliminate Clinton-era roadless rule, ending protections for 58.5 million acres
JULY 16, 2004
Fish and Wildlife Service to end protection for eastern wolves and abandon reintroduction plans

Thats just for two months. Whatever CREA is, it is not an advocate of sound environmental policy.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Bananas and why do Republicans Love Islamic fascism

If you eat bananas you probably eat The Cavendish......Can This Fruit Be Saved?
That sameness is the banana’s paradox. After 15,000 years of human cultivation, the banana is too perfect, lacking the genetic diversity that is key to species health. What can ail one banana can ail all. A fungus or bacterial disease that infects one plantation could march around the globe and destroy millions of bunches, leaving supermarket shelves empty.

A wild scenario? Not when you consider that there’s already been one banana apocalypse. Until the early 1960s, American cereal bowls and ice cream dishes were filled with the Gros Michel, a banana that was larger and, by all accounts, tastier than the fruit we now eat. Like the Cavendish, the Gros Michel, or “Big Mike,” accounted for nearly all the sales of sweet bananas in the Americas and Europe.

As others have predicted the Abramoff- Republican corruption scandal has widened....Lobbying: The Web Widens

Jan. 23, 2006 issue - Ohio Rep. Robert Ney personally lobbied the then Secretary of State Colin Powell to relax U.S. sanctions on Iran. Who asked him to? A convicted airplane broker who had just taken the congressman and a top aide on an expense-paid trip to London, NEWSWEEK has learned.

Obviously Ney is sympathetic to Isalmic fascism. I say that because that seems to be the consistant narrative the far-right extremists like Dick Cheney and George W. Bush like to play. They want to make up this outrageous nonsense to paint their political opponents with, then the far right can live with the consequences when it comes back to haunt them.

via Brad DeLong...Two Lies from Washington Post Ombudsman Deborah Howell (Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps
Abramoff gave money to Republicans only. Some Indian tribes that hired Abramoff as a lobbyist also gave some money to Reid and Dorgan. But is that "Abramoff money"? Only for a certain definition of "Abramoff money"--and not an innocent one.

Brad is referring in part to this story from WaPo......Getting the Story on Jack Abramoff, the reporting or nonreporting of some very important caveates about who got money from who is truly awful. A professional reporter should know and tell the important details and not make false and sweeping statements.............Bloomberg gets the facts straight..
Lobbyist Abramoff’s `Equal Money’ Went Mostly to Republicans
Between 2001 and 2004, Abramoff gave more than $127,000 to Republican candidates and committees and nothing to Democrats, federal records show. At the same time, his Indian clients were the only ones among the top 10 tribal donors in the U.S. to donate more money to Republicans than Democrats.

via Pam at pandagon....Virginia’s marriage amendment proceeds
“I cannot stand by while this body uses gays and lesbians as scapegoats for what has happened to the institution of marriage. How many members of this body are divorced? How many have children that are divorced? Grandchildren? Parents? Brothers? Sisters? What do gays and lesbians have to do with any of those divorces? How many children are now raised by single parents? Can we really blame gays and lesbians for the fact that so many households are now headed by a single parent? How many of those marriages were celebrated or consecrated in a church or synagogue? Can we really blame gays and lesbians for those who have broken their vows?”

Which remined me of this quote from jefferson,
"The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."
-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-82
I can understand one group of people being uncomfortable with another groups behavior, but what seems to be missing in the war on eqaul rights for gay Americans is any rational reason for it. To turn a phrase, gays don't make people get divorces or have family problems, heterosexual couples do. As Jefferson admonishes in his thoughts on religion, you're free to have the life you want, practice a religion or set of beliefs of your choosing and as long as you're not forcing your religion or sexual preferences on others it shouldn't be a big deal.
Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one-half the world fools and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.
-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-82
It seems like Christianity and Islam have had a couple thousand years to prove that if everyone would just get on the same bus everyone would have a great life and we'd have haven on earth, while the actual history of the last thousand years shows that the world's dominant religions have in fact failed to bring peace and goodwill to all men/women. Maybe its not time for yet another religious revival, but a revival of the Age of Reason.

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