Thursday, November 29, 2007
I'm not really a cold-weather/snow kinda guy.
I skied as a youth in NM, and in Germany as a GI on leave, too. I ice-skated too, when we lived in Ohio. My pop taught me. He'd been a 'figures skater' (that's what they did: they skated classical figures in the ice, over and over again) as well as an inter-collegiate fencer in college before WW II. I remember the skating rink in the winter in lakewood, where all the kids hung out and flirted and skated after school in my early jr.high (6th/7th grades). I had crushes on Carol Lombardi, Marybeth cohan, and Connie Burke...oh yes, and Madonna Elwell...who, iirc, were the first girls in our grade to grow their breasts. Skating in pairs was the designated style of flirtation, and gave one the opportunity to hold hands and exchange glances with one's 'crush(es)'...I skied pretty regularly between 1962 and 1975. Tweaked a knee, and gave it up.
It has been snowing here (northern New Mexico) for about a month, depending on altitude and latitude--which, I had not noticed until this very moment, are anagrams. There was fresh snow on the ground in Santa Fe Friday, after relatively gentle storms the day before. Snow in all the mountains, from the Black Range and the Gila down south up up to the Arctic, really.
The forecast here for the next day or so is for rain/snow (what they call "wintry mix," like some snack-food at and egg-nogg party--i had low-fat eggnog (mixed with Old Crow) over the holiday and was pleasantly surprised that it was not awful) through the night and tomorrow...Moisture coming in from the south, cold from the north. The first big winter storm; in a La Nina year, it may be the last.
Farther north, around Taos or Chama, and up on the Res, there's talk there could be a couple of feet of snow; mere inches in Abq, and that mostly in the foothills of the Sandias; a little more in Santa Fe, and Los Alamos...
Chilly, though. 39 F now, spitting cold rain/sleet.
I finally lit the gas furnace this afternoon.
I like the smell of the pinon in the fire place. There's a lot of it around because of the drought and the blight that the drought loosed upon them killed pinon trees and bushes in their thousands. Gotta clean the chimney more often cuz of the resins...
In the main, i find it easier to cool off when too hot than to warm up when too cold.
Results 1 - 100 of about 291,000 for street value of one pound of marujuana. (0.27 seconds)
To the manner born...
From UPI's "Emerging Threats - Analysis" page
Verasun and U.S. BioEnergy to mergeI suppose some might take it to be a good sign that there are already multi-billion-dollar mergers occurring while the scramble starts to corner the bio-fuels markets, I for one am not so sanguine.
Published: Nov. 29, 2007 at 3:58 PM
BROOKINGS, S.D., Nov. 29 (UPI) -- Verasun Energy Corp. and U.S. BioEnergy Corp. are entering into a merger agreement.
The ethanol producers announced they have entered into an all-stock definitive merger agreement, which has been unanimously approved by the board of directors of both companies.
According to the agreement, VeraSun Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President Donald Endres will remain head of the combined company and U.S. BioEnergy President and CEO Gordon Ommen will serve as chairman. The employees of both companies will be integrated into a combined work force.
The merger is expected to close during the first quarter of 2008 and is projected to have a market value of about $1.5 billion.
Combined, the company will have nine ethanol production facilities in operation and seven additional facilities under construction. By the end of 2008, the company is expected to have a total production capacity of more than 1.6 billion gallons per year.
One reason parts of Iraq have quieted down, at least for a while, has received widespread attention: the Sunni split from al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda's own tactics alienated its base, which is usually a fatal political mistake, and for once we were wise enough not to get in the way of an enemy who was making a blunder.Gold quote, 11/29/07 @ 12:40 MST: $794.83, down from historic highs of over $808/troy oz.
But there has been little comment on an equally important reason for improved stability in Iraq, Muqtada al-Sadr's stand-down order to his Mahdi Army militia. Just as it seemed we were headed straight for a war with the Shi'ites, they sheered away. We now appear to be doing the same; at least the papers here no longer report daily raids and air strikes on Shi'ite areas. That too suggests we may have learned something.
But it does not explain the Mahdi Army's quiescence. I have no secret agent in the Desert Fox's lair, so I cannot report what Mr. al-Sadr is thinking. I doubt he is afraid of a confrontation with the U.S. military. Fighting the Americans is more likely to strengthen than weaken his hold on his own movement. So what gives?
The Sunday, November 18 New York Times made passing mention of a possible clue. It suggested that the Mahdi Army and some other Shi'ites have backed away from confronting the U.S. because Iran asked them to.
If that is true, it bumps the same question up a level. Why are the Iranians asking their allies in Iraq to give us a break? I doubt it is out of charity, or fear, although elements within Iran that do not want a war with the United States seem to be gaining political strength.
Here's a hypothesis. What if the Iranians had determined, rightly or wrongly (and I suspect rightly), that the Bush administration has already decided to attack Iran before the end of its term? Two actions would seem logical on their part. First, try to maneuver the Americans into the worst possible position on the moral level by denying them pretexts for an attack. Telling their allied Shi'ite militias in Iraq to cool it would be part of that, as would reducing the flow of Iranian arms to Iraqi insurgents and improving cooperation with the international community on the nuclear issue. We see evidence of the latter two actions as well as the first.
Second, they would tell their allies in Iraq to keep their powder dry. Back off for now, train, build up stocks of weapons and explosives and work out plans for what they will do as their part of the Iranian counter-attack. Counter-attack there will certainly be, on the ground against our forces in Iraq, in one form or another. In almost all possible counter-attack scenarios, it would be highly valuable to Iran if the Mahdi Army and other Shi'ite militias could cut the Americans' supply lines running up from Kuwait and slow down their movements so that they could not mass their widely dispersed forces. In John Boyd's phrase, it would be a classic Cheng-Chi operation.
Again, I cannot say this is what lies behind the Mahdi Army's stand-down; Zeppelin reconnaissance over Iran has been inconclusive. But it is consistent with three probabilities: that the Bush administration has decided to bomb Iran, that the Iranians plan in response to roll up our army in Iraq and that Muqtada al-Sadr and other Iraqi Shi'ite leaders coordinate their actions closely with Tehran.
In past wars, quiet periods at the front have often preceded a "big push" by one side or both. Such may prove to be the case in Iraq as well, at least as far as Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army are concerned. If so, in view of the situations in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Lebanon and the almost certain failure of the Tea Lady's Annapolis initiative, 2008 may see the Islamic world in flames from the Himalayas to the Mediterranean.
To paraphrase Horace Greeley, buy gold, young man, buy gold.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
The last time there was anything even remotely resembling a 'liberal/progressive' agenda in DC (which is where it matters that there be one or not) was 1965.
The LBJ civil rights and anti-poverty initiatives--which was of what those died-aborning progressive agendas consisted--have been arrested and are being slowly but surely, but inevitably and irresistably reversed.
Roe-v-Wade is steadily being rolled back, one state at a time, not on ballots, but in legislatures and state houses; the new SCROTUS membership has signalled its hostility towards stare decisis, e.g., schools have been invisibly but irreversibly re-segregated by the both judicial fiat and the ever-growing divide between economic classes.
The Church committee in '75 was the last serious effort to rein in US excesses in intelligence gathering and domestic surveillance; and it was recently blamed for the laxities and failures which are blamed for the success of the IX/XI attacks.
The Raygunauts saw to it that media concentration would proceed pretty much unfettered by oversight or unchecked by law or custom; and that there would be no undue (uncomfortable, costly) restrictions on what banks and other financial institutions could do to collect more ever more of the national treasure.
The invasion, conquest, and occupation of Iraq, and the increasing and altogether predictable heightening of global military tensions in the run-up to the USer 'election' in '08, provide both incentive and opportunity for the corporate operatives in the entails of the State to abscond with ever larger bags of swag.
The Dems elected this year have evidently not a chinchilla of an inclination to pursue any agenda that is not in lock-step with what CorpoRat Murka insists upon. Their otherwise inexplicable failure to use the Rules of the Congress to even IMPEDE the Bush-cabal agenda suggests they at least sympathize with (or hope to inherit) the powers the Busheviks have so illegitimately arrogated to their own political advantage.
Hence there will be no more tax credits for alternative fuels/energy sources, or small-scale energy-efficient technologies--but there will be a major, sustained push to build more nukes, and to develop off-shore oil puddles (Pete Domenici just called for the end of the off-shore drilling moratorium, and (also NM senator) Bingaman will likely follow suit--after a bout of public and lugubrious hand-wringing...
The Dems have not the numbers to make an issue of national, universal, single-payer health care; at least not over the objections of the Insurance and Health Provider industries which are hugely, enormously, unimagineably profitable, and growing more so with every passing day, as more and more of the populace descends in to the morass of preventable diseases, cleanseable pollutants, and the accompanying toxicities necessitated, and exacerbated, by our 'life-style.'
To look for political solutions, in a nation divided 51/49 along so many crucial and definitively determinant fault lines is risible...
I'd have been happy if the New Dems would have just tied to cripple the Busheviks, but they've pledged to bi-partisanship, and have caved in on far too many crucial votes to be trusted as a true opposition...
None of the Democratic candidates has spoken explicitly and forcefully about restoration of the civil rights and liberties so critically eroded and diminished under the anti-Terror rhetoric propogated by the incumbent Regime.
Oh yeah, the economy is collapsing, too. Which will overshadow the clusterfuck in Iraq as the dominant issue of the coming campaign. Watch out fot tax-cut rhetoric rising. Surprise, surprise!
These are some of the conditions which it seems to me are basically irreversible, no matter which of the allegedly contending Parties takes nominal charge of the Government next year.
Shit! My lip is fucking lacerated pretty nearly clean off.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Now Klein has weighed in on the FISA bill. Apparently relying on his impeccable GOP/Bushit Cabalista sources, Klein reported in Time Magazine that the FISA law fixes promised by the Dumbocrap leadership when they caved to the Bushits last summer will FORBID agents from intercepting and/or listening to conversations between suspected terrorists outside the US. This is false, of course, as anyone with the least chinchilla of competence in reading English would know by reading the Bill.
Klein, a lazy, feckless, gutless hack and shill for the Rightard agenda from within the ostensible middle, has refused to acknowledge his lies. Glenn Greenwald took Klein to task at Salon recently for his egregious, unprofessional mendacity. Klein has tried to correct the record withOUT actually admitting his curr-like nature. ThinkProgress has a summary:
In an attempt to put to rest concerns over his ignorance about FISA reform legislation, Time magazine columnist Joe Klein writes, “I have neither the time nor legal background to figure out who’s right.” Glenn Greenwald responds by noting “the extreme lack of professionalism and corruption required” for Klein to say he “isn’t interested in bothering to find out (and isn’t even capable of determining) if anything he wrote was accurate.”My Two Bits? Joe Klein is a worthless, lazy shitheel. Period. If he cannot be bothered to get it right, he should shut the fuck up, already!
Monday, November 26, 2007
Maliki's trying to secure his place as 'strongman.' But I don't think he'll succeed. To earn his 'keep' (so to speak), he's gotta deliver the last piece of the puzzle.
To retain the support of the US/Bush Cabal, the Maliki puppet govt has to supply the keystone for the invasion & conquest of Iraq: the Iraq Oil Law, which delivers to Anglo/US energy corporations about 70% interests in Iraq's oil production for the next 20 year.
Saddam and his govt had signed concessions with a lot of folks who weren't allied with Standard Oil or BP (e.g.). And he threatened to trade in Euros. He had to go.
The new "Oil Law," the terms of which are those which made the likes of Wolfowitz say the war would finance itself, is the litmus test for any Iraqi 'leader' proposing to sell the country for security, has been held up in the Iraqi Parliament for many months, very likely as a result of legislative/parliamentary insurgency.
Oh, you don't know about the Iraq Oil Law? Read all about it here. The finest points are:
# Allow two-thirds of Iraq’s oil fields to be developed by private oil corporations. In contrast, the oil industry has been nationalized in every other major Middle Eastern producer for over 30 years.Along with the permanent bases and the dissolution--by hanging--of the threat against Israel posed by Saddam, the oil law is the last piece of the Bush Cabal's reason for going into Iraq in the first place. Without it, the rest turns to ashes in their mouths.
# Place governing decisions over oil in a new body known as the Iraqi Federal Oil and Gas Council, which may include foreign oil companies;
# Open the door for foreign oil companies to lock up decades-long deals now, when the Iraqi government is at its weakest.
So Maliki MUST deliver the Oil Law or lose the Bush cabal's patronage. I do not think he can. So even though he's opened the door for the eternal occupation of Iraq, he probably won't live to enjoy it.
I STILL think Ahmad "Judy, Judy, Judy" Chalabi may be the final guy who ends up as the approved "authoritarian leader" of Iraq.
Monday, November 19, 2007
GOP = Gauche, Ostentatious, Pretentious
Hill'd have a FANTASTIC, matched 9mm necklace, with a small diamond on the clasp. But the 'bling' would be purely pearly. She's a WHITE girl, after all.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
What shit-list, you ask?
Why, I blandly reply, THIS Shit List. The covers are coming off Ted Stevens, the meanest, craziest, nastiest, vilest, filthiest, shittiest old Puke in the Senate; plus his whole corrupt family/machine/crony apparatus of kick-backs, pay-offs, and quids-pro-quo... And he's vowing to get even. And, cuz I think there'd be fuel for a wonderful law suit in it if he did, I want him to notice that I, too, think he's a dirty, rotten piece of shit.
Catholic Bishops' Indifference To Bush Cabal War Crimes Casts Doubt On Church Calls To "Revere" Life
One fellow, a certain William Hughes, over at The People's Voice dot org makes an interesting case for that interpretation.
Such a deal is worth it to the Bushes and the Bishops. To the BCF (Bush Crime family) because the Catholics are (still) the largest, wealthiest, most powerful religious sect in the country, and bringing the Bishops on board--getting them at least not to publicly DENOUNCE the regime for its crimes--is a major 'pr coup' for the Coup.
The Bishops price for this complicity likely was the recent appointment of the two proto-fascist, "pro-life," Opus Dei mackerel-snappers to the Highest Court, where they will invariably vote to uphold the rights of the fetus, an important constituency for the Bishiops, because each one represents another 'soul' to be harvested for the greater glory of their blood-thirsty, greedy, selfish, murderous God. Not incidentally, it also preserves one of the Bishops' most formidable weapons against the uncontrollable lusts of women, as well. Win-Win-Win!
William Hughes tells his version of the story, with footnotes, even. The money grafs (imho):
The truth is that the Bishops are pro-fetus and not really pro-life! If they were truly pro-life, they would have been against this illegal and immoral war in Iraq from the very beginning--in the streets--from the pulpits. But, they weren’t. They have documents stating that they opposed the war, but that didn’t translate into a genuine opposition from the top down to the laity, like it does on the abortion issue. Besides, the Bishops have been in bed--politically--with the Bush-Cheney Gang. I suspect, but I can’t prove, that they made a deal with the White House to get two pro-fetus jurists on the U.S. Supreme Court. (4) As part of that unholy bargain, the Bishops have, in effect, looked the other way, while the Bush-Cheney Gang is driving our Republic into an early grave.Just so. The Church in the USA has long been a lackey to big money and power. It is utterly LOATHE to rebuke the rich and powerful among their congregants whose largesse greases so many parishional wheels. As such, it is both archetype and paradigm for the rest of the "main-stream" churches in the country.
Here is just one example of how flawed the Bishops’ thinking is. They’ve instructed the Catholic laity not to vote for anyone who supports abortion rights! (1) So, in 2008, you could have V.P. Dick Cheney, who opposes abortion, running for president on a Republican ticket. And, let’s just say by way of a hypothetical, that his opponent is someone in the mold of a Thomas Jefferson, who is pro-choice. The Catholic would be required to vote for Cheney--a warmonger and pro-waterboarder! (2) Now, how is that good for America? I submit that this latest manifesto from the Bishops is another nail in America’s coffin. They should have condemned the Bush-Cheney Gang for their outrageous abuses of power and directed the laity to let their conscience be their guide on election day. I’m afraid that Catholics who love this country, will wake up one day and see how the Bishops have lead them astray. By then, however, it may be too late to do anything about it.
And surely I cannot be the only person who would reasonably read the Bishops' injunction against voting for any candidate who was explicitly pro-choice as worthy of a nation-wide loss of tax preferences, can I?
Consumers Union has created another funny video with a song by the Austin Lounge Lizards. This time it's about America's hilarious lack of food and product safety inspections. You can watch it, and get involved in the Consumers Union campaign on inspections, here.I am signed on. You should be too.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
But the thought is right:
8 million tons of trees are consumed annually for catalogs alone, contributing to 25% of carbon pollution, destroying the livelihood of over a billion impoverished people around the world, etc....pass it on!I signed up. The last year my folks were alive, I lived at the old homestead and got the mail daily. Some days, this time of year, there were a couple of POUNDS of catalogues in the old tin mailbox under the cottonwood on the curve...I mean, we moved the plumbing in-doors years ago, and besides, that slick paper's no damn good for wiping your ass anyway.
>Begin forwarded message:
>From: Catalog Choice
>Date: November 16, 2007 9:55:54 PM MST
>Subject: [Catalog Choice] Ariel Tracey Gimble has invited you to join.
>Reply-To: Ariel Tracey Gimble
>I would like you to join me on Catalog Choice.
>Catalog Choice is an easy, free service that allows you to decline unsolicited >catalogs, reducing the number of catalogs in your mailbox and the number of trees >that get sent to the paper mill.
>Join me by clicking the link below:
>Ariel Tracey Gimble
Friday, November 16, 2007
Lispin' Lindsey's all wet on this, of course. It might be true about a draftee military machine, with conditional soldiers. Being a "winner" matters to the amateur. Washington ran into a bit of that, iirc.
But a "professional military" knows that the last battle is always over. Such an inveterate mob of killers should not--cannot--be susceptible to such 'civilian' insecurities; it ought not--cannot--invest so much in one conflict that a 'defeat' could be truly consequential. For a standing, truly 'professional' military, there'll always be another war in the course of which the Soldaten can rebuild their (super)egos from the blood, flesh, and bones of their foes.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Published: November 14, 2007In the genteel world of bridge, disputes are usually handled quietly and rarely involve issues of national policy. But in a fight reminiscent of the brouhaha over an anti-Bush statement by Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks in 2003, a team of women who represented the United States at the world bridge championships in Shanghai last month is facing sanctions, including a yearlong ban from competition, for a spur-of-the-moment protest.
At issue is a crudely lettered sign, scribbled on the back of a menu, that was held up at an awards dinner and read, “We did not vote for Bush.”
By e-mail, angry bridge players have accused the women of “treason” and “sedition.”
“This isn’t a free-speech issue,” said Jan Martel, president of the United States Bridge Federation, the nonprofit group that selects teams for international tournaments. “There isn’t any question that private organizations can control the speech of people who represent them.”
I sent the following e-mail to Ms Martel (email@example.com):
If they were known at the event to be an "American team," it was not a 'non-political' event. Therefore the protesting participants were engaged in protected speech. Silence preserves the status quo. Preserving the status quo is a political position. Doing nothing is always doing something. You are doing nothing other than controlling the content of speech. You should be ashamed.
If you cannot, in fact, champion their sentiments, you should at least refrain from using the power of your office (you guys are the AMA of the trick-taking set) to rebuke them for it. Theirs is a perhaps more genteel expression of dissent, but it is exactly the equivalent of Tommy Smith's and Juan Carlos' clenched-fist salute on the medal stand at the Mexico City Olympics. These women are heroes. They deserve your respect and you owe them an apology. It is NOT the other way around.
Monday, November 12, 2007
The Pilot of the Ship that Struck the Bay Bridge, and dumped 58 THOUSAND fucking gallons of Bunker Fuel" into SF Bay
Capt. John Cota, the veteran master mariner who was piloting the container ship Cosco Busan when it hit the Bay Bridge on Wednesday, has been involved in a number of ship-handling incidents and was reprimanded last year for an error in judgment when he ran a ship aground, state regulatory documents show.
He's a drunk, I'd bet the ranch on it...
And as Stormbear remarked, on his blog and at MLW, I hope the cargo--what, rufie-covered stocking-stuffers, lead-painted toys, toys with tiny, dangerous magnets, rubber-fucking-duckies?--is/was worth the devastation of the Bay. But of course, everybody (except business people) isw forced to pay the price for 'bidness.' That's the Murricun Way: Socialize costs, privatize profit.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Leaving apart for a moment that it was NOT and NEVER WAS 'incompetence,' but carefully worked out plans, which got "us" where we are today, the motherfuckers who organized and directed this clustefuck of a 'regime,' deserve to be in exile, in prison, or dead. Those are really the only 'sane' alternatives.
Take for example the latest Alan Dershowitz column in the Wall Street Journal. Aside from getting the new meme on Mukasey about how the Democrats are beholden to MoveOn.org - echoed by meister Rove, President Bush, Dick Cheney, and the right wing propaganda machine as if one ring ruled them all - Dershowitz actually writes this:Fine, Larissa. I'll buy that...exactly when the majority of Jews/Israelis PUBLICALLY ANNOUNCE THEIR REPUDIATION OF/REVULSION WITH the Dershowitzs and Liebermans (to say nothing of the Doug Feiths, Paul Wolfowitzs, Richard Perles, the Elliot Abrams, the Podhoretzs, pere et fils, the Kristols, et al)."There are some who claim that torture is a nonissue because it never works--it only produces false information. This is simply not true, as evidenced by the many decent members of the French Resistance who, under Nazi torture, disclosed the locations of their closest friends and relatives."
This statement defies logic. Even if in some instances Nazi tactics worked, why would anyone endorse them for any reason, especially a Jewish man? Dershowitz, and others like him - Joe Lieberman, et al - do not speak for Jews, nor do they speak for Israel. In fact, the far right regime that has co-opted Israel and the US both is not representative of Judaism or Christianity for that matter. Whatever or whomever it is they represent, it is not the Israeli people or the American people. It is as though a multi-national organized crime syndicate has taken over both countries and is using the cover of religion as a shield against criticism.
Exactly the way I'll accept the 'honest charity of Christians" when the expel the Fred Sheltons, Pat Robertsons, James Dobsons, et al.
These religious fux cannot have it both ways: Either the fundie fux (Jewish or Xian) are members of their 'confessions,' or they are not. If they are not, then the 'leaders' of the 'responsible sects' need to disavow their bug-shit crazy 'bretheren' and join the SECULAR community of citizens in abhoring the shitwhistling fucknozzles in their ranks who yearn for Armageddon, their Rapture, and the 2nd fucking Coming.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Friday, November 09, 2007
"Yesterday's excesses" now haunting Paulson, who helped create themSomething about sending the fox to guard the hen-house??? As a Noted Troubador once noted: There's bandits who'll rob ya with a pistol, and there's them that'll rob ya with a fountain pen. (Epic synechdoche at its best.)
By Mark Pittman Bloomberg News
Published: November 6, 2007
NEW YORK: Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says that the United States is examining the subprime mortgage crisis to ensure that "yesterday's excesses" are not repeated. He could be talking about himself and his former firm, Goldman Sachs.
Paulson does not mention that Goldman still has on the market an estimated $13 billion of almost $37 billion in bonds backed by subprime loans or second mortgages that it created while he was its chief executive. Those bonds have an average delinquency rate of almost 22 percent, higher than the average of other subprime bonds from the period, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Goldman, the most profitable investment bank, was one of 14 primary dealers of U.S. Treasury notes that contributed to a three-year binge as $1 trillion worth of subprime mortgages were packaged and sold to investors. The value of its remaining subprime bonds trails the $33 billion at Lehman Brothers, out of $106.8 billion created during the time Paulson was at Goldman, and $28.8 billion at Morgan Stanley, out of $82.5 billion....
"I can't help but notice that when middle-class homeowners were losing their homes to foreclosure, he was pretty nonchalant about it," Congressman Brad) Miller (D/NC) said of Paulson. "But when Wall Street CEOs start seeing trouble in their absurdly complicated financial instruments built on the mortgages of middle-class homeowners, he feels their pain."
Paulson declined to comment, said spokeswoman Michele Davis. Michael DuVally, a Goldman spokesman in New York, declined to say how much subprime mortgages contributed to profits at the investment bank, or to Paulson's compensation during his tenure from May 1999 through June 2006.
Goldman paid Paulson $38.5 million for 2005, and he received an $18.7 million bonus for the first half of last year.
I won't say a majority of Murricuns Don't WANT every child to have the same high quality of educational environment. I WILL say, however, that a majority of Murricuns don't CARE if every child has a high-quality educational environment.
Because if they did care, the kids would have those conditions. Jonothan Kozol has documented these situations exhaustively.
I have sat in legislative education-funding committees in two states. My own observatrions, and a LOT of research (see, especially, Joel Spring) State legislatures fund public schools in their states with one thought: what is the least amount necessary to provide the poorest of the poor with the absolute bare minimum of buildings, supplies, and teachers to save face in state-by-state comparisons. They rely on the ability of more affluent communities, or communities with higher tax bases, to supply for their children the advantages that the State cannot or will not afford to those whose resources are not so developed.
So taking the kids from the poor (must I say, "black") Chicago school and bringing them, bag and baggage, to the (need I say, affluent, White) Texas school would have no appreciable effect on the students' performance on tests, because the tests are predicated--normed--on the performance of middle-class/bourgeois kids. Cuz you don't turn into a middle-class/bourgeois kid just by attending a bourgeois/middle-class school.
The only way to ensure that all kids demonstrate proficiency on tests normed to middle-class/bourgeois standards is to raise ALL kids in middle-class/bourgeois homes, with parents who have had and benefited from education, who have expectations of success/advancement in their own histories, who have read and enjoy reading, and have enjoyed the rest of the perqs and privileges of middle-class up-bringing.
I remember in grad school I encountered a statistic which has stuck with me ever since: Student achievement on 'normed' examinations varies directly with the Socio-Economic Status of the parents. The single variable, Parents' SES, accounts for around 70% of ALL variance on within-group measures. One sub-variable accounted for about half that variance: whether the mother had attended ANY institution of higher education.
American Eduction is not all that bad: After 100 years of intensive research, we pretty much know what works (Dewey was right): individual attention, recursive instruction, writing-across-the-curriculum, etc.
But the American School is NOT a Deweyan operation. It is not an instrument of emancipation, or empowerment, or critical thinking, which educators agree should be the telos of the Art. Rather, it is devoted to the proposition that no child (at least, as few as is humanly practicable) should escape the social niche into which she/he was born.
The purpose of 'schooling' (as distinct from 'education') is to supply retro-actively the evidence that supports and rationalizes the decisions made about students long before they ever went to school. That's what 'grades' are for, and that's the only reason for having them.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
It's hard to applaud her resolution to be forthright in her slavish, obeisances to her CorpoRat masters, instead of her attempting to hide her slavish obeisance to them behind some tactical flim-flammery in the Senate, when she tries (without much visible success) to win support by portraying herself as a friend of the working class...
Hillary Clinton, NAFTA & Triangulation 2.0For your homework, examine the voting records of ALL the Congressional candidates for the presidency and list similar evasions (Obama on the Bankruptcy Bill comes immediately to mind; and that wasn't even in the heat of a campaign, just a matter of cold calculation.)
By David Sirota on November 7, 2007 - 12:09pm.
Harold Meyerson's column in the Washington Post today is a terrific read - and got me thinking about just how unprincipled and smarmy Hillary Clinton really is on this one. You'll notice Meyerson reports that "Clinton has yet to take a position" on the NAFTA expansion that will be voted on in the House today.
My guess is that Clinton will vote against the first part of the NAFTA expansion - the Peru Free Trade Agreement. That "no" vote would be a good thing. But her silence in the lead up to the vote is really the bigger story that's already been written, no matter how she ends up voting. She wants to please the Big Money interests who are underwriting her campaign and who are pushing this trade policy, but she also faces an increasingly competitive primary challenge from John Edwards, who has come out strongly against NAFTA-style trade policies (more on Edwards in my upcoming nationally syndicated newspaper column out on Friday).
So my guess is that what's going on is that she has told the lobbyists, corporate executives and other Big Money interests financing her presidential run that she'll stay quiet in the lead up to the vote, so as to not change the dynamic of the vote in Congress by getting more Democrats to oppose the Peru deal. Then, when its clear the deal is going to sail through because folks like her haven't stepped up and been leaders, she'll quietly cast her vote against it, and then during select campaign appearances with select groups, she'll brag about her supposed courage and pretend she took a strong stand for the middle class.(Emphasis added)
You can call this smart politics, and sure - if Clinton votes against the deal in the end, that's good. But what this really is is Triangulation 2.0. And, as I said, it's unprincipled and smarmy - the opposite of, ya know, "leadership."
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Top Yahoo officials on Tuesday were forced to defend their company’s role in the jailing of a Chinese journalist. They ran into withering criticism from United States lawmakers who accused them of complicity with an oppressive Communist regime.
“While technologically and financially you are giants, morally you are pygmies,” Tom Lantos, Democrat of California and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said angrily after hearing from the two executives, Jerry Yang, the chief executive, and Michael J. Callahan, the general counsel.
The journalist, Shi Tao, was sent to jail for 10 years for engaging in pro-democracy efforts deemed subversive after Yahoo turned over information about his online activities as requested by Chinese authorities.
Mebbe we shouldn't be surprised, or be too judgmental, though, considering the close cooperation of the giant US Telecos in the Bush regime's illegal, unauthorized data mining through the correspondence and communications of American citizens.
Grenada was the original "wag-the-dog" exercise of our current Imperialistic regimen, designed to distract the People and (to the extent that they needed it) the Press from the disastrous, murderous, fatal blunders of the Raygunauts in Lebannon, where nearly 300 US Marines, ostensibly on a 'peace-keeping' mission to support the Israeli attempted annexation of Lebannon, died in a horrendously effective truck-bombing. This was followed a few years later by the Bush41 illegal, albeit fig-leafed, invasion and conquest of Panama to remove Noriega. With a new coat of 'multi-national- lipstick, Clinton continued the course with the bombing campaign against Serbia--during which the PRC delegation was decimated by an 'errant' bomb'-- and the overthrow of Milosovich.
In all of this, we may observe the trajectory of the decline of USer moral authority in the world, from (at least ostensible) up-holder of democratic rights and human freedom to an aggressive, bellicose, drunk bully swinging its weight in the room.
I have a theory about cell-phones' extravagant popularity. It is that cell-phones are surrogates for the instantaneous communication of the simian/hominid ’tribe.’
If you’ve ever been around groups (troops/bands/tribes) of our less evolved relatives, in zoos, for instance, one is struck by the almost incessant noise. The only time they're quiet is when they're asleep. Otherwise, the screeching, chattering by-play is endless. It’s the same in jail: the din of conversation never ceases, making sleep a matter of practice rather than weariness…
These conversations serve one pre-eminent purpose: they represent and reproduce customary hierarchical orders, and re-inforce the position, but also the membership, of the individual in the pack. Cell-phones serve the purposes of binding pack/troop/band solidarity through the (virtual) connections that are lost when individuals are forced, culturally, to depart from their secure, identity-binding groups. By staying in direct contact with their identity-groups, cell-phoners retain their group membership and gain continued reinforcement of their status.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
#2: Bush prepares and Congress acquiesces to Bushevik Cabal preparations for martial law.
#3: AFRICOM: Regime moves to organize and extend USer military "influence" in resource-rich, politically desolate sub-Saharan Africa.
#4: Metastacizing "Free-Trade" Agreements, and
#5: Operation Falcon (if you gotta ask, it proves the point, innit?).
Go check out the rest. They are pretty exhaustively explained, and substantially annotated.
And abandon hope, all ye who enter here.
Monday, November 05, 2007
There are laws against civilians negotiating with foreign powers. It's a felony, and arguably treason. It's undeniable that Casey and Bush were both guilty of treason for making their nefarious deal. Casey's dead (his death was probably orchestrated by Bush to keep him quiet: he was scheduled to testify on the Iran connection the very day he was struck down by a "stroke." That very day, military doctors performed an operation to permanently disable his speech center. Just a coincidence. I'm sure.
Since then, Raygun and his acolytes have done their best to wreck the whole concept and practice of the New Deal, and to throw the Country back into the cultural patterns of the "Gilded Age."
John Hinckley should be consigned to prison for eternity, not for attempting to assassinate Raygun, but for failing.
My point: I'll bet you anything you want that--on the slim chance that there are no occurences of 'terror' to distract the populace and cement GOP rule forever between now and Nov 4, 2108--that the Busheviks will threaten to REFUSE to relinquish power if they are not granted blanket, retroactive immunity by the in-coming regime.
In any case, there is not a one of them into whose face I would scruple to spit.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
There are 68,300 'page hits' on "Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007."
The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed HR 1955 titled the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. This bill is one of the most blatant attacks against the Constitution yet and actually defines thought crimes as homegrown terrorism. If passed into law, it will also establish a commission and a Center of Excellence to study and defeat so called thought criminals. Unlike previous anti-terror legislation, this bill specifically targets the civilian population of the United States and uses vague language to define homegrown terrorism. Amazingly, 404 of our elected representatives from both the Democrat and Republican parties voted in favor of this bill. There is little doubt that this bill is specifically targeting the growing patriot community that is demanding the restoration of the Constitution.Like I said, a little hyperbolic. But, if you couple this bill, and its companion in the Senate, with the National Security Directives the Bushevik Cabal signed into action last summer (NSID 51?), making the president the sole authority and power in the case of a national emergency, it's hard to escape the feeling that these folks aren't really planning to leave in Jan, '09.
In such a situation, this little piece of legislative legerdemain would have inestimable political use in suppressing such resistance as might arise to the unprecedented but by then undeniable Pakistanization of the USofA.
And by the way: what the FUCK is wrong with Jane Harman? She's like the Joe Lieberman of the House?
“Uniting The Country” is the generic phrase which permeates the national campaigns this year…But I wonder if I (or ’we’) want to BE ’unified’. I’m realllllly ambivalent about it…
Unified around what? GWOT/TWOD? Persecuting ’illegal’ immgration? Health INSURANCE for all? Homophobia? Racialism?
Well, yeah, I could unite against those things. But to ’unify’ the country as a whole, wouldn’t we on the left have to be prepared to accept some part of that hateful, fascist agenda in the name of “unity?”
I could unify/find solidarity with OPPOSITION to the agenda of the global expansion of militarism and ’free trade,” etc…
Sher a lot of folks who could get behind that. But it wouldn’t unify the country, cuz there’s enormous shit-pots of money to be made by NOT unifying around opposition to corpoRat metastacization. The people who stand to get their hands on all that money won’t ’unify’ with the people who won’t get any of it.
Opposition to increased civilian surveillance? Sure; but how do you “unite” with folks who want MORE surveillance, less free speech, less dissent, less heterodoxy in the public sphere?
I have no desire at all to compromise principle in the name of spruious, specious “unity.”
It strikes me that the folks extolling the merits of “unity” just wanna make sure the status quo ante survives and is strengthened, and with it (not coincidentally) their power and influence…I don’t want to ’unify’—I WON’T ’UNIFY’—with the people who wish me dead or imprisoned for my opinions.
That’d just be stupid. Compromise with fascists amounts to no more than the freedom to choose your mode of execution. You want a single bullet in the back of the head? Firing Squad? Hanging? Gas Chamber? Electric chair? Torture? Remember, freedom = choice.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Racist, trailer-park douchebags. Chuy! It's not like it didn't just reek from his every pore.
HONOLULU - Television bounty hunter Duane "Dog" Chapman's show has been pulled from the air indefinitely by A&E, two days after a private phone conversation in which the reality star used a racial slur repeatedly was posted online.
"In evaluating the circumstances of the last few days, A&E has decided to take `Dog The Bounty Hunter' off the network's schedule for the foreseeable future," the network said in a statement Friday. "We hope that Mr. Chapman continues the healing process that he has begun." (Ed. Note: Yeah, right. Heeling process, more like)
A&E officials said the series, one of the network's top-rated programs, has not been canceled.
Chapman, 54, has been under fire and accused of being a racist ever since the private conversation with his son, Tucker Chapman, was posted online Wednesday by The National Enquirer. Chapman used the N-word repeatedly about his son's black girlfriend.
At least two advertisers have pulled out from the show and civil rights groups have called for its cancellation.
Soon after the clip was posted, Chapman issued an apology and A&E suspended production of the series.
In the conversation, Chapman urges Tucker to break up with his girlfriend. He also expresses concern about the girlfriend trying to tape and go public about the TV star's use of the N-word. He used the slur six times in the first 45 seconds of the five-minute clip. (Ed. Note: "You gotta drop dat nigga bitch 'fore she rats me out for a n igga-hating racist asshole," sumpin like dat?)
Chapman has said he was "disappointed in his choice of a friend, not due to her race, but her character. However, I should have never used that term." He also said he was ashamed of himself and pledged to make amends.
His attorney, Brook Hart said his client is not a racist and vowed never to use the word again. Hart said Tucker Chapman taped the call and sold it to the Enquirer for "a lot of money." (Ed. Note: Such a paradigm of filial devotion! His son KNEW he was a racist douchebag.)
David Perel, the Enquirer's editor in chief, would not comment on how it obtained the tape.
Civil rights leaders said they were not satisfied with the removal of the show from A&E's schedule. A coalition of groups in Los Angeles sent a letter to network executives Friday demanding a cancellation.
The coalition said the comments were more than racially demeaning and hurtful to black women. "They are a vicious attack on and call to end interracial relations, as well as an incitement to violence," the letter said.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, said the coalition believes Chapman's language was much more damaging than shock jock Don Imus' comments.
Imus was fired by CBS in April over his "nappy-headed hos" remark about the Rutgers University women's basketball team. Citadel Broadcasting Corp. Thursday announced Imus' return to radio in December.
"If they can essentially say, 'We're firing Imus in the front door and bring him in the back door later on,' they can also do the same with this guy and his show," Hutchinson said. "It seems like to me A&E is keeping their options open."
The TV series follows Chapman and his tattooed crew as they track down bail jumpers in Hawaii and other states. The show also stars some members of Chapman's family, but Tucker Chapman is not regularly featured.
The Honolulu-based bounty hunter first grabbed headlines for apprehending serial rapist and Max Factor heir Andrew Luster in Mexico in 2003.
Friday, November 02, 2007
Tests performed by a consumer safety group found that nearly two-thirds of 33 brand-name lipsticks contained lead, often in excess of the FDA's maximums for lead in candy.A Poison Kiss: The Problem of Lead in Lipstick [Campaign for Safe Cosmetics]
The FDA currently sets no limits on lead in lipstick, and while they told the Associated Press that they'll look into the findings, produced by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, they also told the Baltimore Sun that action is unlikely.
Given the recent outcry about lead in toys, it seems strange that the FDA is so nonchalant about this. No, company-run tests on animals haven't found problems -- but were they looking for it? And might it make sense for companies to take some precautions and remove the lead anyways, even if there isn't clear evidence of harm? After all, lead is a dangerous heavy metal, one which poses extra dangers to pregnant women and their babies, and once in your body it doesn't go away.--By Brandon Keim
Lead detected in U.S.-made lipstick [Baltimore Sun]
FDA to examine claim that lipstick lead levels unsafe [Associated Press]