Saturday, February 04, 2006

Yea. OK. But, Uhhhhh, Why?

Crew tosses out spacesuit stuffed with radio transmitter during spacewalk


February 3, 2006, 7:17 PM EST

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The crew of the international space station shoved an empty space suit stuffed with discarded clothing out the door Friday, creating a ghostly scene that resembled a cosmonaut tumbling away from the orbiting outpost.

Complete with helmet and gloves, the spacesuit floated past the Russian section of the space station, 220 miles above Earth, before rotating away feet first and beginning its orbit around the globe.

"Goodbye, Mr. Smith," Russian flight engineer Valery Tokarev said, giving the figure a nickname as he and U.S. commander Bill McArthur began a six-hour spacewalk to perform maintenance and photography tasks.

The Russian suit was equipped with a radio transmitter that will send recorded messages in six languages to amateur radio operators for several days before eventually re-entering Earth's atmosphere and burning up, NASA officials said.

The spacesuit project, known as SuitSat-1, was the brainchild of a Russian ham radio operator. It will send several words in code for schoolchildren listening on the ground. Radio operators will be able to pick up the messages by tuning into FM frequency 145.990 MHz.

Along with the radio transmitter, the stuffed spacesuit also has internal sensors to monitor temperature and battery power. As it floats along, it will transmit its temperature, battery power and time it has been in space to the ground.

Students and others can also follow its progress on a NASA Web site. The suit is expected to pass over the U.S. between midnight and 4 a.m. according to NASA.

"We expect the ham radio operators on the ground to be able to receive the suit signal for several days," said Kwatsi Alibaruho, flight director for the spacewalk at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Even on a simple story like this, the media can fuck it up, which really annoys me.

I mean, I realize space exploration funding is a low priority, but couldn't this purpose have been served just as easily by a Hefty bag? In that entire story, nowhere was it made clear why they chose a spacesuit. It took a little digging, but I found out why and came up with a really charming story:
such suits have a limited life — usually about 10 to 12 spacewalks. The equipment installed on the suits can be cannibalized for use on newer suits, but the bulky main shells must be disposed of. Sometimes they are stuffed into empty supply drones destined to dive back into the atmosphere. Once, a suit was loaded onto a visiting space shuttle for study back on Earth. But usually, the suits are literally thrown away into space, stuffed with other throwaway items such as empty food containers and dirty clothing.

In October 1993, two cosmonauts aboard the Russian space station Mir added a wry visual gimmick: They stuffed the suit full of trash, shaping it into the posture of a cosmonaut standing erect, arm waving goodbye. They then cast it off in full view of their external television camera. As it slowly cartwheeled away, the empty suit looked like that classic science-fiction staple of the doomed astronaut, saluting as it went to a fiery Viking funeral in Earth’s atmosphere.

For years afterwards, cosmonauts entertained guest astronauts by playing a tape of the spacesuit’s final salute. The images were never released to the public — perhaps for fear they could spark sensational rumors. But in 1993 Russia was still using communications relay satellites for television transmissions, and a few dedicated and highly skilled radio amateurs in Europe were able to eavesdrop on the channel and capture the image.
Was that so hard that the AP couldn't include even a blurb like "Russian cosmonauts historically dump their old overused spacesuits into space to burn up upon re-entry."?

And if the AP can screw up a story like this, which gets picked up by countless newspapers nationwide, imagine what it does on stories that actually have a little meaning?


Teach Dubya How To Speak!

This is great! A way to make him say nearly anything you want! You can even force him to make intelligible sentences!

Hat tip to Miss Cellania for pointing this out...

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Friday, February 03, 2006

File This Under "I Told You So"

I've been saying this for years now, ever since Madrid...

Beware the Ides of March
Posted by James Wolcott

"Osama bin Laden's latest message. Most observers, including the White House, seem to have missed its significance. In it, bin Laden offered us a truce (an offer we should have accepted, if only to attempt to seize the moral high ground). The Koran requires Muslims to offer such a truce before they attack. The fact that bin Laden himself made the offer, after a long silence, suggests al-Qaeda attaches high importance to it.

"Why? My guess is because they plan a major new attack in the U.S. soon. I would be surprised if the plan were for something smaller than 9/11, because that could send the message that al-Qaeda's capabilities had diminished. Could this be "the big one," the suitcase nuke that most counterterrorism experts expect somewhere, sometime? That would certainly justify, perhaps require, a truce offer from Osama himself. Of course, al-Qaeda's plan may fail, and it may be for an action less powerful than setting off a nuke on American soil. But the fact that Osama made a truce offer should have set off alarm bells in Washington. So far, from what I can see, it hasn't.

Since I live in NYC and Osama has basically sworn to level us, there may come a day when you don't hear from me anymore. Please, please, keep up the fight...

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Something To Chew On This Weekend


We are the world’s greatest democracy; if you don’t think so, just ask us. We brag about how free we are, how democratic.

How democratic? The past three elections have seen the entire membership of the U.S. Senate chosen. In those elections, Republican candidates have received an aggregate vote of about 90 million. Democratic candidates, in those same elections, got 93 million votes. As a result, the Republicans hold a 10-vote majority in the Senate.

Five years ago, we elected a President who finished second to his chief opponent in the voting.

We have just named, a man to the U.S. Supreme Court, who early in his career expressed serious reservations about the principle of one man-one vote.

That democratic.

How free? Let me count the way:

--The government is asserting the freedom of the National Security Agency to listen in on telephone conversations and monitor e-mail messages without having to go to the trouble of obtaining a warrant from a judge, a trouble that would require coming up with a good reason for doing it.

--It is claiming freedom to access library records to see what books you are taking out and to search Google’s records to find out what Internet sites you’re using.

--And, of course, it has exercised the freedom to arrest people without charging them and to hold them for as long as it chooses without even informing them of what they’ve been arrested for and to torture these prisoners so long as the torture stops short of death, although mistakes do happen.

The government, in other words, is free to do just about anything it damn well pleases and the rest of us will simply have to adjust. These are, after all, perilous times.

To be fair, the Bush administration says it will not use these powers indiscriminately. It will not use them on you, for example, just on the bad guys.

Which, I’m sure, makes us all feel a lot better.

One might imagine that an administration that sought so wide a curtailment of individual rights would be reticent about it. Even Richard Nixon had the decency to commit his burglaries under cover of night.

This administration is made of sterner stuff.

The other day Karl Rove, the administration’s chief political strategist, told the Republican National Committee that the party must emphasize its commitment to the war on terror in the fall elections in order to win. The administration’s refusal to be squeamish about wiretapping, Internet monitoring and the rest is an important part of that commitment, he indicated.

Meanwhile Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez and other administration officials were all over the telly flogging the President’s spying program.

Mr. Gonzalez even went so far as to compare Mr. Bush’s eavesdropping policy with George Washington’s interception of mail between Britain and the colonies during the Revolutionary War.

Mr. Gonzalez: I know George Washington; I’ve visited his monument. George Bush is no George Washington.

The thing is, Mr. Gonzalez, I don’t trust you guys nor do I have any reason to.

This is the most secretive administration in my lifetime. It absolutely refuses to tell the American public anything about anything. It dragged its feet on giving information to the 9/11 Commission, it is balking at releasing records of its response to Katrina hurricane disaster and it refused to name the people Dick Cheney met with while crafting the administration’s energy policy.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that once you guys get the powers you are demanding, you will use them for political gain. Everything is politics with you people.

And once we give up our freedoms to you, we will not get them back. The President has declared war on terror, which is not an enemy but a tactic. It is not a tactic that will disappear, thus neither will the war. Nor will the President’s extravagant powers.

That might add up to freedom and democracy to you. Not to me.

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A Public Service Announcement

Please Wear Red Today

Christie Whitman, George Bush: Murderers

Public Misled on Air Quality After 9/11 Attack, Judge Says

Published: February 3, 2006
Christie Whitman, when she led the Environmental Protection Agency, made "misleading statements of safety" about the air quality near the World Trade Center in the days after the Sept. 11 attack and may have put the public in danger, a federal judge found yesterday.

The pointed criticism of Mrs. Whitman came in a ruling by the judge, Deborah A. Batts of Federal District Court in Manhattan, in a 2004 class action lawsuit on behalf of residents and schoolchildren from downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn who say they were exposed to air contamination inside buildings near the trade center.

The suit, against Mrs. Whitman, other former and current E.P.A. officials and the agency itself, charges that they failed to warn people of dangerous materials in the air and then failed to carry out an adequate cleanup. The plaintiffs are seeking monetary damages and want the judge to order a thorough cleaning.

In her ruling, Judge Batts decided not to dismiss the case against Mrs. Whitman, who is being sued both as former administrator of the E.P.A. and as an individual.


In a statement yesterday, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton called the E.P.A.'s conduct "outrageous."

"New Yorkers were depending on the federal government to provide them with accurate information about the air they were breathing," she said. "I continue to believe that the White House owes New Yorkers an explanation."

About 2,000 tons of asbestos and 424,000 tons of concrete were used to build the towers, and when they came crashing down they released dust laden with toxins. After an expert panel failed last year to settle on a method for organizing an E.P.A. cleanup, the agency said it would proceed anyway with limited testing and cleaning of apartments in downtown Manhattan below Canal Street.
You tell 'em Hill.

Look, I breathed some of that crap in, not often (I live and work upwind of the site), but enough to know two things: 1) It was the second worst smelling shit I'd ever inhaled after a fat-rending plant was opened across the East River from the apartment I grew up in, and 2) There was a LOT more than flecks of burned flesh and concrete in those fumes. That fire burned for months (a side note to the crackpot conspiracy idiots who believe the buildings were collapsed: imploded buildings don't burn for months) and people daily breathed that crap in.

And we're starting to see the effects of that exposure:
WTC attacks claim latest victim _ four years later

Associated Press Writer

January 28, 2006, 9:58 AM EST

NEW YORK -- For James Zadroga, dying was as simple as breathing.

The highly decorated New York police detective was heading home from work on Sept. 11, 2001, when the mind-numbing news came across his car radio: A plane had flown into the World Trade Center. He rushed back to lower Manhattan, where the twin 110-story towers had collapsed into a toxic pile of burning rubble.

Zadroga spent 470 hours sifting through the smoldering ruins.

Inhale, exhale.

Twelve-hour shifts, nearly 40 of them.

Inhale, exhale.

More than 28,000 minutes, his only protection a thin paper face mask.

Zadroga barely avoided death when 7 World Trade Center tumbled down around him hours after the planes hit. The escape was temporary: By the time he was finished at ground zero, Zadroga was as much a Sept. 11 victim as anyone lost in the tower stairwells _ although his suffering was time-released.

His breathing became labored within weeks, his health deteriorated over months, he was on disability in just over three years. On Jan. 5, 2006, the 34-year-old Zadroga finally succumbed, betrayed by his failing body; the World Trade Center had claimed its latest fatality.

Exhale, one last time.
Jerry Nadler said it best:
U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat whose district includes the trade center site, said the many people who worked at the site and developed respiratory diseases deserve answers.

"It is my assumption that thousands of people -- workers and residents -- are being slowly poisoned today because these workplaces and residences were never properly cleaned up," Nadler said in a telephone interview.
Imagine if these assholes had been honest. Imagine if the White House hadn't edited EPA releases to play down the health risks. Yes, people might have been panicked.

But they would have taken steps to ensure their health, like wearing masks. This is criminal. This is murder.

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A Primer On Good And Evil

this is an audio post - click to play

I woke up an hour early this morning with a discussion rolling around in my mind.

It's about absolutism. Is there any one judgement that we can make about anything, that it's either good or evil. I made the statement that there is no such thing as "inherently good" or "inherently evil".

Naturally, as is my wont, I said that without giving it much thought, knowing I was right. And this morning, it hit me why I was right.

Ultimately, the final arbiter of good or evil is a moral code. Moral codes have all, without exception (OK, so there's one absolute, sort of) evolved from religious or spiritual teachings. "Thou shalt not kill," is available in all major religions and I am unaware of any society where murder is not a crime.


In the JudeoChristian tradition, we see that sometimes murder isn't a sin. Whole libraries are filled with books detailing these loopholes: thou shalt not kill, except in a time of war, or if you're life is being threatened, or your child's life. And yet, we look to the source material for this, and we see that, indeed, by His own admission, God Himself has killed, and indiscriminately.

Hell, he's committed genocide, something even the Devil never did! He wiped out everyone, even innocent babies, during the flood. Too, a careful reading of that story shows that God even ends up apologizing (the whole "rainbow covenant" thing), meaning not only is God not purely good, but He's not even the omniscient (and therefore infallible) God that the Christian right bases their whole belief system on.

This is our ultimate arbiter of good and evil? And if He can't keep it straight in his head, then how in the hell can anyone on this good green earth figure it out? And yet, 40% of this nation believes in black-and-white, including the President.

I wrote on Christmas about my theory that God was not God, but was a petulant mewling little child and that Jesus was really the Father. How can anyone dispute the fact that the God of the Old Testament is a snake-oil salesman? A fraud foist upon us by a bunch of old men who wanted to keep the "people" in line?

I dunno. I'm still a Christian, but damn, they have to get better writers!

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tags technorati :

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Welding Two Bricks Together

Having it all ways?

Looks like Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Weld is still, um, developing his positions on the issues. During the Atlantic Monthly's celeb-studded State of the Union dinner at the St. Regis, the former Massachusetts governor clapped heartily at President Bush's applause lines. Weld was often the only guy making noise in a Democrat-heavy group that included Julia Stiles, Jonathan Cramer, David Boies, Moby, Boykin Curry, Peggy Siegal and Joe Conason. But when The Atlantic's Jim Fallows asked Weld his opinion of Bush's performance, he answered: "The speech didn't do that much for me. I thought it was smarmy at worst." That's covering bases I didn't even know existed.
Yah huh. Poor Billy. He's about to have his ass handed to him in New York...


Addiction to Oil 2

There's Nothing Worse Than A Recovering Addict When it Comes To Judging Your Behavior

Bush on move is Guzzler in Chief


WASHINGTON - President Bush is one of the biggest gas guzzlers in the country and his first stop to sell the idea of breaking the nation's oil addiction burned up thousands of gallons of jet fuel and hundreds of gallons of gasoline.
The White House, Air Force and Secret Service keep a tight hold on the President's travel and mileage, but government and industry figures show that the Air Force One 747 jet gets less than the equivalent of a mile per gallon.

The President usually travels with a backup 747 as well as a huge C-17 aircraft packed with the presidential limo and the Marine One helicopter, which flies Bush from the White House to Andrews Air Force Base and around destination cities.

The C-17 gets even worse mileage than the 747s, and the chopper's mileage is pegged at .014 mpg.

Once on the ground, the President travels in a gas-gulping convoy. At the heart of that convoy are two Cadillac limos and several Chevy Suburbans.

Even without the bulletproof shields and other special measures, the limos get 18 mpg in the city.

The Suburbans get 15 mpg in the city, but that too is without the bullet- and blast-proofing and the communications gear the Secret Service and military travel with. Three to five Suburbans travel in a motorcade, which often stretches to more than a dozen vehicles.

Bush's 700-mile trip to give his State of the Union encore speech in Nashville yesterday cost $19,594.25 in fuel alone just for Air Force One, according to government figures.

He will carry his message over the next few days to Maplewood, Minn., Albuquerque and Dallas before heading back to Washington. That's another 4,341 miles.
Ah wish Ah could quet yew...
President Admits Petroleum Addiction, Enters Rehab

One day after claiming that “America is addicted to oil” in his State of the Union address, President Bush stunned the nation by confessing that he was personally battling a petroleum addiction and was entering rehab immediately.

In a nationally televised address from the Oval Office last night, a visibly agitated President Bush began his speech with the following simple statement: “My name is George W. Bush, and I am an oilaholic.”

The president, seeming to choke back tears, said that he had thought he was keeping his petroleum habit “under control,” but added, “When you start invading other countries to get more oil, you know you’ve hit bottom.”

Mr. Bush’s decision to enter rehab for his petroleum addiction drew applause from many quarters, including from James Frey, author of the bestselling memoir “A Million Little Pieces.”

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Short Attention Span Theatre

(A quick nod to Marc Maron's old gig)

Heating oil goes down wrong pipe
Driver dumps 50 gallons into basement of LI home that had switched to natural gas 3 decades earlier


February 2, 2006

A Benit Oil fuel truck driver misread the address of a refill stop in Bethpage, hooked up the truck's hose to the empty house and unloaded 50 gallons of oil, officials said.

The problem?

Unlucky recipients Juliann and Edward Tesoriero switched to gas heat three decades ago. Although an oil pipe protruded from the house, inside it was connected to nothing.

Within seconds Tuesday, their entire basement floor - part storage area, part unoccupied bedroom - was awash in 2 inches of dark red oil. The oil permeated the walls, raced down a sewer drain and splashed over detergent bottles, old exercise equipment, clothing and furniture.

"Oh, what a headache! This has been a nightmare," Edward Tesoriero, 57, said, explaining that he and his wife were grocery shopping when the oil was erroneously delivered. The correct address was several houses away on Parkview Circle.

County police and local firefighters, and a cleanup crew from Benit Oil of Smithtown, arrived within minutes and began spreading absorbent towels across the 20-foot by 30-foot concrete space and airing out the house.
Bounty. The quicker picker upper, no doubt...
Dennis Barlow, general manager of Benit Oil, called the spill an honest mistake. "Accidents happen," Barlow said, adding that the company's insurance intends to pay for damages. Barlow said the driver, whom he refused to identify, has been indefinitely suspended.

Bill Fonda, a spokesman for New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, said fuel refill mishaps happen periodically, usually when homeowners leave oil pipes extending from their home that are no longer in use.

Last March, a driver for an Oceanside fuel company poured 222 gallons of oil into an East Atlantic Beach home through a disconnected pipe, flooding the first floor and rendering the house uninhabitable.
$30,000 in estimated repairs.

Accidents happen, but this is pretty dumb. You'd think a) the driver would double check the address and b) the owners would have pulled a useless pipe at some point in the thirty intervening years, if for no other reason than to tstop varmints from crawling in...

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Bush v6.1

Before history is written down in books, it is written in courage. Like Americans before us, we will show that courage and we will finish well.
Cowardly Lion: Courage! What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the "ape" in apricot? What have they got that I ain't got?

Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman: Courage!

Cowardly Lion: You can say that again! Huh?

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Addiction To Oil

This is a theme I'm going to return to a couple of times over the next few days because it's important and well, it's damned funny.

Go read this post at Martini Republic first.

Alex, excellent points: alternative energy programs that do not involve fossil fuels are the only way we're going to take the tyranny of the oil hegemonists out of play.

Tom Friedman (give him a little credit on this one) was on the Today Show today and made an excellent point: you're never going to have democracy in countries where oil is the economy. The sheiks, emirs, kings and dictators don't need to rely on their populace for tax revenues or economic growth. They just need to tap another reserve and hell with the leftovers, can buy loyalty from the people.

This makes them wholly unaccountable to the people, and in fact makes them a bigger problem in the world overall than they need to be.

Bush can give credits for hybrid cars all he wants: all he's doing is making gas and oil cheaper for China and India (and thus making them even more competitive with our economy). We need to rethink energy completely.

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Don't Read More Into Alito's First Vote Than Necessary

Alito Sides With Mo. Inmate on Death-Row


WASHINGTON (AP) - New Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito split with the court's conservatives Wednesday night, refusing to let Missouri execute a death-row inmate contesting lethal injection.

Alito, handling his first case, sided with inmate Michael Taylor, who had won a stay from an appeals court earlier in the evening. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas supported lifting the stay, but Alito joined the remaining five members in turning down Missouri's last-minute request to allow a midnight execution.
OK, so why is this something we shouldn't take heart at?

Here's why:
An appeals court will now review Taylor's claim that lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment, a claim also used by two Florida death-row inmates that won stays from the Supreme Court over the past week. The court has agreed to use one of the cases to clarify how inmates may bring last-minute challenges to the way they will be put to death.

Alito replaced Sandra Day O'Connor, who had often been the swing vote in capital punishment cases. He was expected to side with prosecutors more often than O'Connor, although as an appeals court judge, his record in death penalty cases was mixed.
Did anyone honestly think that Alito would slap O'Connor in the face a day after she retired from the bench?

This is merely a stay. It does not stop the execution. And in truth, it merely brings up a technical legal question, not a look at the death penalty on the whole. This is the equivalent of a cop deciding not to give you a ticket for jaywalking after he arrests you for committing armed robbery.

This would have been the appeal that would have made me sit up and take notice, should Alito have sided with the defendant:
The court, acting without Alito, rejected Taylor's appeal that argued that Missouri's death penalty system is racist. Taylor is black and his victim was white. He filed the appeal on Tuesday, the day that Alito was confirmed by the Senate.
A challenge to the concept of a death penalty itself.

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Message: I Care

Bush Urges Confidence in His Leadership

By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer
40 minutes ago

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - President Bush said Wednesday he understands why the nation he has led for five years has become more anxious, and he urged people to have confidence in him.

Bush maintained his optimistic message in a lengthy speech at the Grand Ole Opry House that was designed to build momentum from the previous night's State of the Union address. But in a rare acknowledgment of the troubled times on his watch, he tried to show empathy with the public's worries.

"People are uncertain, in spite of our strong union, because of war, and I understand that," Bush said.
No, you fucking moron! We're not scared of the war, we're scared of who's running the fucking war!

Maybe the *Pentagon* Needs More Body Armor?

Apparently, the Pentagon got a little miffed by this sideswipe, clearly aimed at the White House...

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The Fool On The Hill

When they murder children at a school in Beslan, or blow up commuters in London, or behead a bound captive, the terrorists hope these horrors will break our will, allowing the violent to inherit the Earth. But they have miscalculated: We love our freedom, and we will fight to keep it.

By limiting it?
I am confident in our plan for victory; I am confident in the will of the Iraqi people; I am confident in the skill and spirit of our military. Fellow citizens, we are in this fight to win, and we are winning.

By letting our boys and girls be in harm's way of someone else's civil war? A war we instigated? A war specifically designed not to bring freedom to Iraq?
With so much in the balance, those of us in public office have a duty to speak with candor.

By appearing only in front of scripted audiences? By refusing to cooperate with independent investigations? By not allowing for the full release of information and data that Americans might need to better make up their minds?
Our nation is grateful to the fallen, who live in the memory of our country. We're grateful to all who volunteer to wear our nation's uniform -- and as we honor our brave troops, let us never forget the sacrifices of America's military families.

By not attending their funerals? By not showing their bodies as they are shipped home in the dead of night? By courtmartialing those soldiers who do?
Our offensive against terror involves more than military action. Ultimately, the only way to defeat the terrorists is to defeat their dark vision of hatred and fear by offering the hopeful alternative of political freedom and peaceful change. So the United States of America supports democratic reform across the broader Middle East. Elections are vital, but they are only the beginning. Raising up a democracy requires the rule of law, and protection of minorities, and strong, accountable institutions that last longer than a single vote.

By installing a corrupt puppet regime?
The great people of Egypt have voted in a multi-party presidential election -- and now their government should open paths of peaceful opposition that will reduce the appeal of radicalism. The Palestinian people have voted in elections. And now the leaders of Hamas must recognize Israel, disarm, reject terrorism, and work for lasting peace. Saudi Arabia has taken the first steps of reform -- now it can offer its people a better future by pressing forward with those efforts. Democracies in the Middle East will not look like our own, because they will reflect the traditions of their own citizens. Yet liberty is the future of every nation in the Middle East, because liberty is the right and hope of all humanity.

From Time:
The President, of all people, should know how difficult it is to take care of basic things like, say, prescription drugs for the elderly or shelter from the storm—especially if your government places a low priority on the efficient provision of public services and a high priority on the care and feeding of cronies (as Fatah did in Palestine). Bush's global-democracy, uhhh, crusade, is yet another triumph of spin over substance, a broad-brush carelessness that feeds off emotional election-day highs, flag waving and freedom rallies across the region but which has led, in every case, to severe hangovers.

From Afghanistan to Egypt, not one country that has had an election in the past year has emerged more stable as a result of the experience. In Iraq, three elections—the last one little more than a "census," in the words of Iraqi journalist Nibras Kazimi—have increased the probability of partition or civil war and installed a corrupt, Iran-leaning government of religious conservatives, which will undoubtedly remain in power when the new "permanent" government is formed. In Afghanistan, elections have brought narco-warlords to positions of significant power. Even the Potemkin elections in Saudi Arabia and Egypt resulted in the aggrandizement of religious extremists. There was the election—more a selection, really—of foulmouthed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran, who has turned out to be far more radical than the ruling mullahs anticipated. And now Hamas in Palestine.
How, Mr. President? How?
The Iranian government is defying the world with its nuclear ambitions, and the nations of the world must not permit the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons. America will continue to rally the world to confront these threats.

When half the world views YOU as the lead terrorists, when is your arm twisting and blackmail no longer going to have an effect?
To overcome dangers in our world, we must also take the offensive by encouraging economic progress, and fighting disease, and spreading hope in hopeless lands. Isolationism would not only tie our hands in fighting enemies, it would keep us from helping our friends in desperate need. We show compassion abroad because Americans believe in the God-given dignity and worth of a villager with HIV/AIDS, or an infant with malaria, or a refugee fleeing genocide, or a young girl sold into slavery. We also show compassion abroad because regions overwhelmed by poverty, corruption, and despair are sources of terrorism, and organized crime, and human trafficking, and the drug trade.

When you can't even repair New Orleans?
It is said that prior to the attacks of September the 11th, our government failed to connect the dots of the conspiracy. We now know that two of the hijackers in the United States placed telephone calls to al Qaeda operatives overseas. But we did not know about their plans until it was too late. So to prevent another attack -- based on authority given to me by the Constitution and by statute -- I have authorized a terrorist surveillance program to aggressively pursue the international communications of suspected al Qaeda operatives and affiliates to and from America. Previous Presidents have used the same constitutional authority I have, and federal courts have approved the use of that authority. Appropriate members of Congress have been kept informed. The terrorist surveillance program has helped prevent terrorist attacks. It remains essential to the security of America. If there are people inside our country who are talking with al Qaeda, we want to know about it, because we will not sit back and wait to be hit again.

By denying us our liberty?
Our economy is healthy and vigorous, and growing faster than other major industrialized nations. In the last two-and-a-half years, America has created 4.6 million new jobs -- more than Japan and the European Union combined. Even in the face of higher energy prices and natural disasters, the American people have turned in an economic performance that is the envy of the world.

Now that they've run out of home equity and their paychecks have shrunk because the 4.3 million jobs you claim credit for STILL don't pay the nation as much as they earned in 2000?
Protectionists want to escape competition, pretending that we can keep our high standard of living while walling off our economy. Others say that the government needs to take a larger role in directing the economy, centralizing more power in Washington and increasing taxes. We hear claims that immigrants are somehow bad for the economy -- even though this economy could not function without them. All these are forms of economic retreat, and they lead in the same direction -- toward a stagnant and second-rate economy.

When your economy is already stagnant and second rate (my god, FINLAND has a better economic growth than the US does!), how is staying a failed course helping? When Democrats raise taxes, the economy does better. How is that, Mr. President?
So tonight, I ask you to join me in creating a commission to examine the full impact of baby boom retirements on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. This commission should include members of Congress of both parties, and offer bipartisan solutions. We need to put aside partisan politics and work together and get this problem solved.

We already know what the problem is and what it's going to do! What is studying it further going to create?
Keeping America competitive requires us to open more markets for all that Americans make and grow. One out of every five factory jobs in America is related to global trade, and we want people everywhere to buy American. With open markets and a level playing field, no one can out-produce or out-compete the American worker.

When the American worker can't afford an education, or health care? How are we going to compete?
Keeping America competitive requires an immigration system that upholds our laws, reflects our values, and serves the interests of our economy. Our nation needs orderly and secure borders. (Applause.) To meet this goal, we must have stronger immigration enforcement and border protection. (Applause.) And we must have a rational, humane guest worker program that rejects amnesty, allows temporary jobs for people who seek them legally, and reduces smuggling and crime at the border.

How is going halfway on immigration going to help us? Either open the fucking doors, the way we've opened trade, or close them shut. You can't get the benefits without the risks, although maybe your own failed business experience tells you otherwise. Some of us weren't born on third thinking we hit a triple, Mr. President.
And because lawsuits are driving many good doctors out of practice -- leaving women in nearly 1,500 American counties without a single OB/GYN -- I ask the Congress to pass medical liability reform this year.

How is taking responsibility for negligence and error out of the equation helping America's patients OR doctors?
Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable alternative energy sources -- and we are on the threshold of incredible advances.

By burning more coal? By opening ANWR? a 22% increase in alternative energy plans sounds great, but that brings us up to maybe ten percent of our energy needs. That's not good enough!
And to keep America competitive, one commitment is necessary above all: We must continue to lead the world in human talent and creativity. Our greatest advantage in the world has always been our educated, hardworking, ambitious people -- and we're going to keep that edge. Tonight I announce an American Competitiveness Initiative, to encourage innovation throughout our economy, and to give our nation's children a firm grounding in math and science.

By dismantling the public education system which GAVE us that competitive edge in the first place? By forcing teachers into horrid teaching conditions for those least fortunate among us? By cutting back on Pell Grants? How, Mr. President, when children see basketball players making millions for stepping onto a court, yet a scientist has to struggle to make his car payments, because science doesn't want to consider superstition as a legitimate theory?
Before history is written down in books, it is written in courage. Like Americans before us, we will show that courage and we will finish well. We will lead freedom's advance. We will compete and excel in the global economy. We will renew the defining moral commitments of this land. And so we move forward -- optimistic about our country, faithful to its cause, and confident of the victories to come.

I can answer that: Vote Democratic.

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tags technorati :

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Bush's Carter Moment

This is truly the end of this man's Presidency:
Bush says U.S. addicted to oil

By Steve Holland 39 minutes ago
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush will say "America is addicted to oil" and must develop technologies to address soaring gasoline prices in a State of the Union speech on Tuesday night that argues against a U.S. retreat from Iraq and the war on terrorism.
Americans won't stand for being lectured to, especially by a hypocrite like this crude-stained jackass.

It reminded me immediately of this:
People & Events: Carter's "Crisis of Confidence" Speech

The Speech
On the evening of July 15, 1979, millions of Americans tuned in to hear Jimmy Carter give the most important speech of his presidency. After sharing some of the criticism he had heard at Camp David -- including an unattributed quote from the young governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton -- Carter put his own spin on Caddell's argument. "The solution of our energy crisis can also help us to conquer the crisis of the spirit in our country," the president said, asking Americans to join him in adapting to a new age of limits.

But he also admonished them, "In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does but by what one owns." Hendrik Hertzberg, who worked on the speech, admits that it "was more like a sermon than a political speech. It had the themes of confession, redemption, and sacrifice. He was bringing the American people into this spiritual process that he had been through, and presenting them with an opportunity for redemption as well as redeeming himself." Though he never used the word -- Caddell had in his memo -- it became known as Carter's "malaise" speech.

Boomerang Reaction
Perhaps appreciating the president's astonishing frankness, the public rewarded him with higher approval ratings in the days that followed. But then, as historian Douglas Brinkley notes, "it boomeranged on him. The op-ed pieces started spinning out, 'Why don't you fix something? There's nothing wrong with the American people. We're a great people. Maybe the problem's in the White House, maybe we need new leadership to guide us.'" Historian Roger Wilkins concurs: "When your leadership is demonstrably weaker than it should be, you don't then point at the people and say, 'It's your problem.' If you want the people to move, you move them the way Roosevelt moved them, or you exhort them the way Kennedy or Johnson exhorted them. You don't say, 'It's your fault.'"
Odd that both presidents are perceived as failures, and that both of them earned that perception in large part due to exorbitant energy prices.

In Bush's case, a failed oilman, the ironies not only abound, they're pretty obvious. But maybe Bush and his oil cronies realized something this week:
Exxon Profit Sets Record, Stirs Anger

By Elizabeth Douglass, Times Staff Writer

On the strength of energy prices that hit all-time highs last year, Exxon Mobil Corp. reported earnings Monday that broke records — that of Exxon and every other corporation — sparking a fresh wave of anger from consumer groups.

The world's largest publicly traded oil company posted fourth-quarter profit of $10.7 billion, equal to more than $116 million per day over the last three months of 2005. For the entire year, Exxon Mobil earned $36.1 billion, eclipsing the high-water mark for U.S. corporate earnings that it set in 2004.
That ought to feed RNC coffers for a lonnnnnng time.

By the way, the first site I visited to look up that quote for Carter was a right wing website. Why is it every right winger has ads for WEIGHT LOSS PROGRAMS on their sites?

Could it be....they're fucking obese????

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The Neverending War

Recently, but only in bits and pieces, military officials in Washington have acknowledged that after the U.S. and Britain withdraw the bulk of their ground troops, the American air component will be kept in the region to support the American-trained Iraqi ground forces who will be taking over the ground war. While the Pentagon doesn't say anything about increasing air power in Iraq, other military sources—speaking anonymously because the information is classified—confirm that the plans call for the air war to be beefed up and kept that way for years to come. These sources also point to Iran and its nuclear ambitions as a reason for keeping air power at a high-alert level in the region.

Since air strikes cause a significant percentage of civilian casualties, the air war's continuance ensures that the U.S. will wear a bull's-eye on its back indefinitely in the Middle East. It also means that the American press will have to push harder to provide more detailed and regular coverage of the air war.

Some reporters have already made the air war a separate, high-priority subject. The Washington Post's Ellen Knickmeyer, in a lengthy article this past December 24, described the air-strike toll on civilians during Operation Steel Curtain in far western Iraq. In the town of Husaybah alone, one week into the operation, a doctor, Zahid Mohammed Rawi, said medical workers had recorded 97 civilians killed. Rawi said "at least 38 insurgents" were also killed. "I dare any organization, committee, or the American Army to deny these numbers," Rawi told Knickmeyer. Her story pointed out that the military and Iraqi civilian casualty reports "often diverge sharply." She also clearly explained that the insurgents, in this mostly urban war, forcibly embed themselves amid civilian families—both as a shield and to make sure that the Americans will be unable to avoid killing civilians.

What we need is more reporting like hers, from the field and from Washington.
Sydney Schanberg, who has been one of my favorite reporters since his work in Viet Nam, is one of the most connected people in DC and NY, and his sourcing is impeccable. And obviously, as he covered (and uncovered) much of the Viet Nam war, his experience as a war reporter has been highlighted in this series of articles he's done, critiquing media coverage of Iraq.

Along with Seymour Hersh, he is the last of the giants in a field that has seen giantude diminished to easily-squashable-bugness.

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Wealth-Care, Not Health-Care

this is an audio post - click to play

Here's a shock: A Republican President proposing health care "reform" that benefits the rich and big business, while throwing crumbs to the poor and middle class.

Not that this is a new flaw feature of the Bush attitude towards health care. The Health Savings Accounts that Bush is going to tout tonight have been around since Congress passed them in 2003, and on the face of things, sound pretty reasonable: you sock away a little money, like in an IRA or 401(k), and when you really need it, you can withdraw it to pay for medical expenses that aren't covered by your insurance. Assuming you have some.

So what's new? Let's let tell us
Passed into law in 2003, HSAs allow consumers to save pretax dollars for health care expenses as long they are enrolled in a high-deductible plan. This year, people can either deposit up to the amount of their deductible or $2,700 for individuals and $5,450 for families--whichever is lower. Bush wants to lift this limit and let consumers pay their deductibles with tax-free HSA dollars.

But he may go further and call for legislation that would link portable electronic health records to HSAs and allow interstate competition among providers of the high-deductible policies meant to link the accounts, says Stephen Parente, an HSA expert at the University of Minnesota. Along with his colleague, Roger Feldman, Parente has been contracted by the Bush administration to model the growth of HSAs under varying assumptions.
A feature of this plan is that if you don't use the money in any one year, you can roll it over to the next.

But note two things: 1) A high deductible is required and b) You must have the savings plan in place in order to qualify for the insurance.

Now, who has that kind of money lying around? The answer's pretty obvious. So who stands to benefit the most from this plan? And once someone has retired, that money they've been socking away (mind you, the wealthy probably haven't spent nearly so much on health care, what with access to better food, better housing, transportation, and healthier neighbors) can be used to help pay for post-retirement health care.

Which tells me that Bush intends to phase out Medicare in favor of this useless plan. What he'll likely do is continue to phase in privatized health insurance under the guise of Medicare, so that once a 30 year old today retires, if he or she hasn't been socking money away (and staying away from catastrophic illnesses like cancer or heart disease), well, he or she is screwed.

And how many twenty or thirty year olds do you know that are even taking full advantage of their 401(k) plans at their jobs? Not many. And studies show that medical insurance for these age groups is historically underused and underbought.

Understandable. When I was twenty, my health insurance came with my job. When we were asked to kick in a little, I was OK with it, but I've worked jobs where I simply opted out, assuming that my immortality would prevent me from getting, you know, sick.

But who else benefits from this?:
Wall Street, too, will be eager to tap a fresh pool of investable assets. But it won't be quite the windfall that IRAs were to investment firms, because people will accumulate HSA cash slowly--one paycheck at a time--and then draw on it regularly in order to pay medical costs. "Eventually, you'll have to have big accounts to make this attractive to financial services," says Joe Antos, a health care expert
Uh huh. Nevermind that, companies who offer higher deductible policies to their employees on a shared-pain basis usually end up sloughing off a higher percentage of a lower premium onto the backs of the employees.

So this is wealth-care, not health-care.

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tags technorati :

Monday, January 30, 2006

A Quickie

Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., who is black, was asked on public TV what he thought about the president.

"Well," he said, "I really think that he shatters the myth of white supremacy once and for all."

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Flu And War

Iraqi Teenager's Death of Bird Flu Suggests Rapid Spread

Published: January 30, 2006
A 15-year-old girl has died of the bird flu in Iraq, health officials there and abroad said today, a finding that indicates that the virus has arrived in yet another country — one whose ability to control contagion is likely to be hampered by war.

The confirmation of the cause of the girl's death also suggests, officials said, that the disease may be spreading widely — and undetected — among birds in the countries of central Asia, which are poorly equipped to identify and report infections. Avian flu has never been reported in birds in Iraq.

As happened in Turkey earlier this month, the spread of the H5N1 strain of bird flu to a new part of the world became evident only through a human death. That is notable, and alarming to health officials, because bird flu rarely infects humans, and usually does so late in the course of an animal outbreak, after close contact with sick birds.

"We shouldn't be seeing human cases first, and this points to serious gaps in surveillance," a spokeswoman for the World Health Organization, Maria Cheng, said in Geneva. "But given the situation in Turkey, I don't think we'd be surprised to see isolated humans cases in surrounding areas."

The girl, Shengeen Abdul Qadr, died this month in Sulaimaniyah, in the Kurdish region in northern Iraq, three days after touching a dead bird infected with the virus, the Iraqi health minister said today. The girl's uncle, who died last week, is also presumed to have succumbed to the disease, although test results are pending.
It might be the height of irony that the war that Bush wages for no good reason may come back to hit home hard in the form of a virulent strain of flu that might kill thousands, more effectively than any Al Qaeda strike could, as scientists and health monitors have to duck bullets.

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A Peek In The African Bush

Religious Groups Get Chunk of AIDS Money

Associated Press Writer

January 30, 2006, 2:52 AM EST

New groups are springing up to win a piece of President Bush's $15 billion AIDS program, with traditional players and religious groups joining forces to improve their chances in a competition that already has targeted nearly a quarter of its grants for faith-based organizations.

The administration is putting out a call for new community and church groups to get involved in HIV prevention and care in 15 target countries, most in sub-Saharan Africa. It is reserving $200 million specifically for groups with little or no government grant experience.

Groups that have deep local ties in the countries and focus on abstinence and fidelity -- instead of just condoms -- are faring well.

"The notion that because people have always received aid money that they'll get money needs to end," Deputy Global AIDS coordinator Mark Dybul said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.

"The only way to have sustainable programs is to have programs that are wholly owned in terms of management personnel at the local level."

Those on the ground in Africa say Bush's 3-year-old effort is reshaping prevention efforts.

"You have community organizations, some that have operated for decades, asking for money and you have lots of new organizations popping up," said Sarah Lucas, a development assistance expert who recently toured four countries on the U.S. target list for HIV/AIDS grants.

Award recipients so far include a Christian relief organization famous for its televised appeals to feed hungry children, a well-known Roman Catholic charity and a group run by the son of evangelist Billy Graham, according to the State Department.
In other words, proselytization.

When Bush announced this sweeping effort to eradicate AIDS in Africa, a bell went off in my head. Did it go off in yours, as well? Thinks I, why would a man whose lifelong dedication to the free markets and whose avocation has been the dismantling of even GOOD government programs suddenly get it in his head to spend massive amounts of money to treat an epidemic on the poorest continent of this planet for people with skin color vastly different from his own?

Now I get it. It's a way to skim money to his Christian Coalition buddies. It's a way to tie that money to abstinence-only programs. It's a way to stop federal funding of helping humans overcome their weaknesses.

In other words, it's a scam! What happens, for example, in the Sudan, a country overrun with Islamists? Nevermind that, what happens in countries where women have had a hard time rising out of poverty, where equal rights is laughed at?

The abstinence emphasis, say some longtime AIDS volunteers, has led to a confusing message and added to the stigma of condom use in parts of Africa. Village volunteers in Swaziland maintain a supply of free condoms but say they have few takers.

"This drive for abstinence is putting a lot of pressure on girls to get married earlier," said Dr. Abeja Apunyo, the Uganda representative for Pathfinder International, a reproductive health nonprofit group based in Massachusetts.

"For years now we have been trying to tell our daughters that they should finish their education and train in a profession before they get married. Otherwise they have few options if they find themselves separated from their husbands for some reason," Apunyo said.
It's part of Bush's grand plan to force men, particularly white men, back in complete charge.

And it disgusts me.

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A Test of AudioBlogger

this is an audio post - click to play

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Campaign To Complain

Jaye Ramsey Sutter at Blondesense posts the following:

just a suggestion
Ann Coulter suggested at one of her performances in Little Rock that, "We need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice Stevens' creme brulee," Coulter said. "That's just a joke, for you in the media."

I have a suggestion, too. Since it is a violation of federal law to threaten the life of a judge, people who share my concern that Coulter is unfit to be an attorney should contact the New York State Bar Association and inquire if Ms. Coulter should be sanctioned or reprimanded for her "joke."
And a very good one. After all, Coulter wouldn't hesitate a bit in urging her collared minions to do the same to anyone on the left. Notice she wouldn't bother doing it herself.

To Complain About An Attorney In New York State

New York and Bronx Counties:
Departmental Disciplinary Committee for the First Department
61 Broadway, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10006
(212) 401-0800

Kings, Queens and Richmond Counties:
Grievance Committee for the Second and Eleventh Judicial Districts
Renaissance Plaza
335 Adams Street, Suite 2400
Brooklyn, NY 11201-3745
(718) 923-6300

I *think* she's resident in New York County (makes sense, she's probably an ex-limousine liberal who got mugged), so that's the address you'd use.

Let's get started! Pass the word around.

More Bad News For Bush On The Horizon

After four years, Enron's Lay and Skilling to face jury

By Matt Daily

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Four years after the dramatic demise of Enron Corp., former chiefs Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling will enter a federal courtroom in Houston on Monday to face charges linking them to one of the biggest business disasters in U.S. history.

The case against Lay, 63, and Skilling, 52, hinges on whether the two executives, who once enthralled Wall Street by creating a company that became the nation's seventh largest, were aware of Enron's financial shell game that pumped up earnings while hiding billions of dollars in debt.

The Enron Task Force, a special unit created by the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate wrongdoing at the Houston-based company, will parade several former Enron executives who have struck plea agreements in front of jurors to try to tie Lay and Skilling to criminal acts of fraud and conspiracy.

The government's case got a boost last month when Enron's former chief accountant, Richard Causey, who was due to go on trial with Lay and Skilling, struck a deal that will send him to prison for seven years and likely put him in the witness stand.[....]

Lay faces seven charges, including conspiracy and fraud, all of which stem from the few months when he returned to the chief executive post vacated by Skilling before the company's bankruptcy.
Now, couple that with this:
Price-gouging Inquiries Target Enron

Overcharges in California May Exceed $40 Billion

By Kathleen Sharp, Globe Correspondent, Mar 03, 2002

LOS ANGELES - The practices of Enron Corp. and other energy companies that designed California's energy-deregulation bill resulted in $40 billion to $70 billion in utility overcharges and ancillary costs, said a consumer group and the agency that operates the state's energy grid.

These figures are sharply higher than the $8.9 billion refund that the state has demanded from Enron and other energy firms. They have been calculated as four state entities - the state attorney general's office, the Public Utilities Commission, the Electricity Oversight Board, and a state senate committee - investigate price-gouging allegations.

"We've been ringing the warning bell for quite some time," said Greg Cook, manager of market monitoring for the California Independent System Operator, which runs the state's energy grid.

The collapse of Enron has prompted numerous lawsuits and investigations concerning its accounting practices, and media attention has focused largely on the plight of shareholders and employees. But the business practices that propelled a small gas-line operator into the nation's seventh-largest company are also coming under scrutiny, highlighting the costs to consumers and the markets where Enron operated.[...]

State Senator Steve Peace, in an October 2000 letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said Enron and other marketers cornered supply in order to get "exorbitantly high prices" for power. "This capability distorts [prices] and is purely the result of the unlawful exercise of market power in a market that was collusively structured," he wrote.

By 1999, the wholesale price of electricity had climbed from $20 a megawatt at the start of regulation to $250 a megawatt, even though demand had been relatively flat. The state's utility operator wanted to cap prices. But Enron and the other suppliers threatened to take their power elsewhere, said Woychik.

By late 1999, wholesale prices exploded to $750 a megawatt. The ISO declared that price gouging was widespread and capped prices. This angered the private companies, including Enron chairman Kenneth Lay. He wrote to the FERC, urging it to nullify the price caps. On Nov. 1, 2000, the agency removed the caps.

At the height of the state's power crisis, the price of electricity boomed to $3,000 a megawatt. Some household utility bills were $800 a month - more than rent. All told, the state's cost rose from $6 billion in 1999 to $27 billion in 2000 and $27 billion in 2001, according to the Third Annual Report from the California Independet System Operator.
OK, so how does all this tie into Bush?
Bush's Enron Ties

By Edward B. Winslow, AlterNet. Posted January 2, 2002.

The cozy relationship between the Bush White House and Enron enabled Kenneth L. Lay, then Enron's CEO, to meet in secret with Vice President Richard Cheney to help mold the nation's energy policy. Bush's presidential campaign received $1.14 million from Enron.

Shortly after taking office, President Bush waged a battle against the imposition of federal price controls in California that allowed Enron to price-gouge consumers by extending the energy crisis in California, costing the state billions of dollars. Enron reported increased revenues of almost $70 billion from the previous year.

Bush also resisted attempts to crack down on Enron's utilization of its 847 offshore subsidiaries in countries with lax banking-regulation laws. The consumer-rights watchdog organization Public Citizen alleges that some of these offshore havens helped Enron defraud its stockholders.
Now, add to this mix the whole Bush/Abramoff connection, ably reported by Time magazine last week:
The President's memory may soon be unhappily refreshed. TIME has seen five photographs of Abramoff and the President that suggest a level of contact between them that Bush's aides have downplayed. While TIME's source refused to provide the pictures for publication, they are likely to see the light of day eventually because celebrity tabloids are on the prowl for them. And that has been a fear of the Bush team's for the past several months: that a picture of the President with the admitted felon could become the iconic image of direct presidential involvement in a burgeoning corruption scandal like the shots of President Bill Clinton at White House coffees for campaign contributors in the mid-1990s.[....]

Abramoff knew the game. In a 2001 e-mail to a lawyer for tribal leader Lovelin Poncho, he crows about an upcoming meeting at the White House that he had arranged for Poncho and says it should be a priceless asset in his client's upcoming re-election campaign as chief of Louisiana's Coushatta Indians. "By all means mention [in the tribal newsletter] that the Chief is being asked to confer with the President and is coming to Washington for this purpose in May," Abramoff writes. "We'll definitely have a photo from the opportunity, which he can use." The lawyer had asked about attire, and Abramoff advises, "As to dress, probably suit and tie would work best."

The e-mail, now part of a wide-ranging federal investigation into lobbying practices and lobbyists' relationships with members of Congress, offers a window into Abramoff's willingness to trade on ties to the White House and to invoke Bush's name to impress clients who were spending tens of millions of dollars on Abramoff's advice.
(emphasis added) A pattern of corruption. People will make the connection between both scandals to Bush if we on the left make them see it.

So if Bush seems particularly distracted this week during the State of the Union Address, now you'll know why. The noose is tightening that will hang his legacy, if not him.

Photo courtesy of Blondesense

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