horses and saddles sold cheap and other metaphors

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Bush: the most inept president in the last 100 years

Pesticides In The Nation's Streams And Ground Water
The U.S. Geological Survey has released a report describing the occurrence of pesticides in streams and ground water during 1992-2001. The report concludes that pesticides are typically present throughout the year in most streams in urban and agricultural areas of the Nation, but are less common in ground water. The report also concludes that pesticides are seldom at concentrations likely to affect humans. However in many streams, particularly those draining urban and agricultural areas, pesticides were found at concentrations that may affect aquatic life or fish-eating wildlife.

U.S. Is Reducing Safety Penalties for Mine Flaws
In its drive to foster a more cooperative relationship with mining companies, the Bush administration has decreased major fines for safety violations since 2001, and in nearly half the cases, it has not collected the fines, according to a data analysis by The New York Times.

Federal records also show that in the last two years the federal mine safety agency has failed to hand over any delinquent cases to the Treasury Department for further collection efforts, as is supposed to occur after 180 days.

True Blue Liberal has Paul Krugman's latest, George the Unready
Iraqi insurgents, hurricanes and low-income Medicare recipients have three things in common. Each has been at the center of a policy disaster. In each case experts warned about the impending disaster. And in each case — well, let’s look at what happened.

Knight Ridder’s Washington bureau reports that from 2003 on, intelligence agencies “repeatedly warned the White House” that “the insurgency in Iraq had deep local roots, was likely to worsen and could lead to civil war.” But senior administration officials insisted that the insurgents were a mix of dead-enders and foreign terrorists.

Intelligence analysts who refused to go along with that line were attacked for not being team players. According to U.S. News & World Report, President Bush’s reaction to a pessimistic report from the C.I.A.’s Baghdad station chief was to remark, “What is he, some kind of defeatist?”

Many people have now seen the video of the briefing Mr. Bush received before Hurricane Katrina struck. Much has been made of the revelation that Mr. Bush was dishonest when he claimed, a few days later, that nobody anticipated the breach of the levees.

But what’s really striking, given the gravity of the warnings, is the lack of urgency Mr. Bush and his administration displayed in responding to the storm.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Bush and conservatives - The sell-off of America continues

The sell-off of America continues
Even as fury over the sale of U.S. seaport management to the Dubai government still blazes in Congress, the Bush administration reveals that another Dubai company and an Israeli firm want to buy U.S. companies that produce military products for the Defense Department.

As the sell-off and outsourcing of corporate America accelerates, President Bush isn't far behind with plans for selling off assets that belong to the American people.

The administration's shortsighted advisors have proposed outsourcing two-thirds of the U.S. Forest Service's 31,625 jobs to private companies.

Presumably, bidding would be open to companies and governments throughout the world, including those with plenty of cash, but notably short on hospitality toward U.S. policies.

The winning bidder likely would be free to hire and fire 21,350 full-time Forest Service workers, including firefighters, law enforcement officers and rangers, 1,000 biologists, 500 geologists, 2,000 scientists and researchers and 3,000 foresters.

This would not be the first hit on the Forest Service by the Bush White House, which seems to harbor a special hostility to parklands and the environment.

It gets better,

Don't sell off Ocala National Forest

President Bush's proposal to sell 300,000 acres of our national forests, including almost 1,000 acres of the Ocala National Forest, to raise federal funds is unbelievable and frightening. If anything, the forest needs more protection, not less.

If Congress approves this sale and creates a precedent for the future, we may never be able to stop politicians from selling off the rest of America's national forests to the highest bidders. Selling off our resources is no way to responsibly address our growing national debt.

Now is the time to draw a line in the sand. We can't sell our heritage and that of future generations - not now, not ever. After all, the purpose of setting up national forests in the first place was to make sure the timber and recreational benefits would be in place forever.

The real estate industry doesn't need federal giveaways to prosper in Florida. There is plenty enough activity in the private sector to accommodate them. After all, the nation's population will double in 40 years, and Florida's will do the same in 15 years. The real estate transactions generated by this growth will surely enrich many realtors. Even if the Bush proposal fails, the national forests may be all the green space Americans have left once Florida is built out.

Moreover, the Ocala National Forest yields more than just recreational, conservation, water-recharge and other environmental benefits. For instance, it provides Marion County with hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in timber sales, in lieu of property taxes. The county also benefits from revenues from approximately 2 million visitor days a year to the forest.

The president says proceeds from the proposed land sale will benefit local schools. Lottery money, however, proved to be no panacea for education in Florida; neither will the auctioning off of our forests. Would this plan continue until all public lands are sold? How many years would it take for forest ecosystems to crash? They are already under stress from overuse and encroachment from development.

Bush is also at odds with the state of Florida's efforts to set aside lands for future generations. For instance, this year the state has allocated $350 million for the purchase of the Babcock Ranch - a huge tract of land near Lake Okeechobee that runs to the Gulf of Mexico. Another $300 million has been earmarked for the Florida's Forever Land Acquisition program to purchase lands for preservation and recreation.

Such programs make sense given that approximately 1,000 new people arrive to live in Florida every day. Public lands - only if they are preserved - may one day be the only open places that hunters, fishermen, campers, hikers, nature lovers, and others will have to enjoy.

How shortsighted it would be to go against the state's preservation efforts by selling off Florida's natural assets! One can't help but think that government's right hand doesn't know what its left is doing.

I wonder what the thinking is here. Bush is clearly out of step with moderate America. One of these stories is from Idaho, the other is from Ocala, not exactly eastern establishment fringe left ( not that there is such a thing in the real world). If Bush is racing against time to do as much damage to America as possible before he's out of office Unka Karl should give him a big pat on the back. Maybe he's trying to see how low he can get his approval ratings, its the only thing he seems good at..

Thursday, March 02, 2006

James Peterson, conservative and phoney evironmentalist

Evergreen Foundation , sounds pretty environmental doesn't it. How about Evergreen Magazine? If you were a moderate conservative from Main St. America or a conservative Democrat, but thinks America as a matter of policy should protect our environment and our natural heritage they sound like organizations that would appeal to those folks. Only that they're run by James Peterson and Evergreen Magazine is pro-logging industry.
Owls Learning to Love Logging

Peterson argued in a Wall Street Journal opinion article that the decline of the spotted owl in the U.S. Pacific Northwest is not due to logging in old-growth forests. Peterson, who has been given a string of awards by various logging industry groups, referred to an unspecified "privately funded" study which "infers an inverse relationship between harvesting and owls." [4] ( This, he argues, justifies "a long-term thinning program," an oblique reference to the Bush administration's Orwellian-sounding Healthy Forests Initiative, a program to log national forests. The Evergreen Foundation says it works to "restore public confidence in forestry."

The foundation's website states ( that funders include logging and logging equipment companies, including Boise Cascade, Potlatch, Westvaco, Mead, Caterpillar and Timberjack. The foundation's logging industry funding, however, wasn't mentioned in Peterson's Wall Street Journal article.

Thses are the folks that run on the issue of values. I always thought values were directly related to being honest and plain spoken so that folks know we're you're coming from.Now I realize this is a stretch for most politicians, but too many conservatives have taken doublespeak to new levels.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

a working class nightmare, a large gas tax

a too high gas tax is more then this old beater can take
I really hate to see the gas tax swaggering back into the debate among progressives. If there's any instance where the liberal urges towards environmentalism and populism collide, it's here. Since I'm supposed to be writing an article right now, I'll make this quick, but assuming a serious gas tax (we're talking $1.50+ if you want to affect behaviors) is politically feasible, is there a single legislative instance in the last decade or two or three that should make anyone believe it'll end up with a progressive structure?

I still like Ezra. The reason I started taking a serious interests in politics was because of the environment and associated issues. As nice as a gas tax sounds on the surface it will punish people that depend on their cars to get back and forth to work. Some of those people earn not much more then minimum wage, some are strapped with kid's dental bills, etc. I just can't see conservatives implimenting a gas tax that only hits the people that can afford it. I could see a bigger tax on bigger passenger cars and SUVs that get poor mileage, but even that could be tricky. Some lower income folks drive old beaters that get poor mileage because thats all they can afford, so you'd have to work out some kind of rebate program for them. I think the public would support and could handle a small gas tax, expecially if it went to alternative energy research, building some solar or wind power generators for small communities, or even getting down the huge national debt.

Ezra has more here, MORE ON THE GAS TAX

Ezra touches on it, but the larger long term issue is the way we live. Rebuild our cities, make them more livable and restricting this runaway, almost decadent sububan sprawl. Get people back to living where they work, but we'd have to have local and national leaders with vision - oh well so much for that idea.

most Americans are at least questioning Bush's UAE port deal

I glad that most Americans are at least questioning Bush's UAE port deal, even if a percentage of it is because of some distrust of Arab countries that has arisen over the last few years. Though that is not the right reason to oppose it. The ones that oppose it for the wrong reasons on the conservative side are doing so because its an extention of their political brainwashing, brainwashing which Bush has done since 9-11 and wing-nut pundits have been doing for years. As Digby points out as recently as 2003 France and Germany were the enemy and I predict that in a few months or a year down the road that the right will forget their cartoon alligance to the Danes when it kicks in that Denmark has a progressive safety net that the right has traditionally called a form of socialism. If there is an actual conservative philosophy, rather then a hodgepodge of reactionary positions and a culture of greed, it sure is pliable enough to justify a continuing series of false outrages.
I have been quite amused to see all of the rightwingers clutching their pearls about "alienating our friends" after their performance in 2003 in which some of them were actually agitating to attack France and Germany. Watching them stutter and dissemble about our great and valued ally the United Arab Emirates is just funny. Freedom falafels anyone?

But then this port deal doesn't really fit the storyline, does it? It's not about an international institution or a real ally. From what we've seen these last few years, they would never have gone to such lengths to defend it if it were. It's about an international corporation and that goes beyond borders, beyond alliances and beyond institutions. That's sacred ground to the big money boys of the Republican establishment.

I don't know if people are consciously aware of this distinction, but if they were I don't think they would be impressed by it. Basically, the Republicans are saying that we cannot trust long standing internatinal institutions, long standing international law or even long standing close allies --- but we should take it on faith that international corporations, even those owned by dodgy middle eastern monarchies, can be trusted not to harm our national security. Their all encompassing belief in the market has extended to national security.

Housing: Slowing, but Not Crashing

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Why Mommy is a Democrat

via From the Desert to the Sea, Get ‘em While They’re Young or Why Mommy is a Democrat
As a political scientist, Zilber is surely aware of the cliche that the Democrats are the “mommy party,” while Republicans are the “daddy party.” In troubled times like now, these identities don’t do the Democrats much good. But I give Zilber a lot of credit for being unafraid to steer right into that reputation; I expect this book to be very successful. The worst nightmare of a committed Democratic activist is for their child to grow up and become a Republican. I’m not sure this book will prevent it, but why not go down fighting?

Since everyone has or had a mother I can't see where being associated with what most people see as a universial symbol of nurturing, protection, and wisdom is a bad thing.

The War on Poverty: Democrats didn't win, but we placed and showed.

I can understand a war on poverty, but I never could understand a war on the poor. I think for some people seeing the poor is like going to a funeral where you're reminded of your own mortality; the poor remind the well off that the world is a tough place, that maybe poverty could happen to them too. Kind of a reminder not of their mortality, but their vulnerability to hard luck. I don't know when or how it started, but somewhere along the way American society started associating wealth with virtue. You don't have to meet many upper income Americans to have that myth shattered, yet it still persists. Its not that the reverse is true that all the poor and lower middle class are sweet and thoughtful, its just that they're no worse then someone that belongs to two country clubs. Poverty
The jab was classic Reagan. Even now, the chuckles echo, preserved in the transcript as stage direction for future conservatives. But, in classically Reaganesque fashion, the line lacked a sort of historical, well, accuracy. The money had done much. The Great Society had not failed, its programs were not bureaucratic black holes whirling destructively through the inner city. While poverty had indeed weathered Lyndon Johnson’s assault, it stumbled forth a withered shell of its former self. Where in 1959 it could claim a robust membership of 22.4 percent of Americans, by 1973 it was at an emaciated 11.1 percent. In 2004, it rested at 12.7 percent.

And there’s good reason for that success. Since Lyndon Johnson, only the two Presidents Bush failed to substantively address poverty. Richard Nixon created Supplemental Security Income and considered guaranteeing a minimum yearly wage, Gerald Ford resurrected the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Jimmy Carter passed the Comprehensive Employment and Training Administration Act, and even Ronald Reagan vastly expanded the EITC. To paraphrase Bush’s favorite philosopher, the poor we have always had with us, even during Republican administrations.

But for conservatives, halting attempts to eradicate poverty slowly gave way to more successful efforts to vilify it. Conservative leaders kept a dark (literally and figuratively) picture of the underclass visible to the nation’s white middle class. The faces of poverty became more sinister: the Willie Hortons and the Linda Taylors (Linda Taylor was Reagan’s ubiquitous welfare queen whose ill-gotten payouts totaled no more than $8,000). These visages transformed a discussion over alleviating economic despair into a subtly racist wedge issue that resonated with white males. And so it was easier, after that, to suggest that, irrespective of the facts, the Great Society was a disaster, poverty the intractable affliction of an unsocialized underclass. Egghead liberals with more good intentions than common sense had surrendered to instinct and offered cash prizes to every unwed black mother able to bear a child, creating a culture of government dependency that fostered criminality, broken families, and joblessness.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Safety of Post-Hurricane Sludge Is Disputed
"State and some federal officials have been consistently denying there are any significant risks from the toxic mud that has spread across the city," said Erik Olson, a senior NRDC lawyer. "The data they themselves have collected show that, to the contrary, there are significant risks from arsenic and toxic chemicals that have blanketed much of New Orleans."

Environmental activists are calling on government agencies to clean up contaminated sediment; test schools and playgrounds; and provide information and protective equipment to residential and business property owners. Many toxins are especially dangerous to children, and metals such as lead can stunt development.

Thats the human side of the story, then there's the effects on wildlife.
Rita was not as fierce a storm, but it devastated wildlife refuges in southwestern Louisiana. The report on Sabine, which was commissioned by Fish and Wildlife but has not been publicly released, found that more than 1,400 barrels of toxic liquids and gases blown in by the hurricane are sinking into the low-lying marsh that is home to hundreds of thousands of migrating waterfowl each winter.

The figures to clean up New Orleans seem high, but not when compared to going to war based on lies, distortions and exaggerated threats.
Government officials estimate the two hurricanes took a toll of up to $250 million on national wildlife refuges.

We're spending enough in Iraq to restore these refuges about 40 times over. I haven't seen the latest numbers on what it would take to rebuild New Orleans, but I would guess that it would cost less then we're going to spend on Iraq, and of course that doesn't count the American and Iraqi lives lost.

The Long View from Antarctica
Antarctica will do that to you. It will make you wonder about beginnings and endings: gases coagulating, continents shifting, oceans churning, suns exploding. Perhaps because it is the most extreme, contrary place on this planet, and has never nurtured or sustained any human civilization. Perhaps because it is free of such markers as towers of iron, pyramids, trees; chances are, when you first catch sight of the continent, you'll be forced to think about what the earth was like before humans came along.

Antarctica embodies all that is prehistory: continental crust, cordilleran folds, pre-Cambrian granite shields; trenches, plates, rifts. Trapped in the layers of ice cores, are bubbles of air that have kept a careful record of climate changes over the ages. From these we can derive clues to the extinction and evolutionary processes that have preceded us.

Then there's the scale. Where else can you find the largest recorded mammal, the blue whale, coexisting with a tiny mite growing on a century-old plant? Penguin colonies that number in millions; nights that run into days, and days that run into nights; katabatic winds that scream down the ice sheets at a terrifying 180 miles per hour, and then remain equally terrifyingly still.

That Antarctica is the last bastion of nature in her most uninterrupted glory, is unquestionable. And that nature is the only lasting basis for any civilization's success and survival, is something our history has repeatedly proved to us. Preserving Antarctica, therefore, seems like a smart thing to do. Because while it has no indigenous people, it is still in the best position to predict the future of our species; tell us where we're going to end up if we continue to go the way we're going.

Here's the other thing: Everything connects. If the present Antarctic ice sheet were to melt, it would raise the levels of the oceans by 200 feet.

More details on Mitchell Wade's guilty plea.

First off, we can identify the two members of Congress: Reps. Virgil Goode (R-VA) and Katharine Harris (R-FL), who are reportedly "Representative A" and "Representative B," respectively, in Wade's plea.

According to the USAO's press release and the guilty plea, Wade made about $78,000 in "illegal campaign contributions" to these two - $32,000 to Harris and $46,000 to Goode. The contributions were illegal because Wade had his MZM employees and their spouses contribute under their own names, and then reimbursed them.

Wade says he did not tell either Harris or Goode that the contributions were illegal. But that doesn't mean they come out of this looking good, either.

Harris claims she don't know 'nuttin. Seems like eveverytime she is asked about something, she doesn't know anything. In that case what is she doing in Congress. She doesn't know who gave her money, she doesn't know anything about treating retired Americans like second class citizens, she doesn't know anything about election ballots. I bet she knows how to file a claim for the free health care she gets at tax payer expense.

Paul Wellstone: The Life of a Passionate Progressive

Paul Wellstone: The Life of a Passionate Progressive
by Bill Lofy
Yet Lofy's book is more than just the chronicle of Wellstone's life and political career; it's also an indispensable guide to what ails political life today. Readers politically inclined or not will find in its pages a handbook to the uncertain and often treacherous business of politics and a stirring example for living a courageous and honest life---whether as public servant or private individual.

My Ecosystem Details