Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Just when America needs a real hero

Howard Kurtz covers a lot of ground on the illustrious House Majority Leader in this article, but then there is a lot of ground to be covered.

Turning on DeLay

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff WriterTuesday, March 29, 2005; 8:37 AM


Let's be clear: The Journal's editorial page, champion of conservatives and scourge of liberals, has a biblical quality for many on the right. They look to it for guidance, if not divine inspiration.


Which is why yesterday's editorial slapping the Texas congressman is likely to reverberate for some time to come, and perhaps embolden DeLay's critics. The Republican Party has been solidly behind DeLay (except for the likes of the former House ethics chairman who got bounced by the leadership after the panel admonished the majority leader three times last year). The Washington Post, New York Times and Los Angeles Times have written numerous pieces about ethics allegations involving DeLay, from fundraising questions (three of his associates are under indictment back home) to lobbyist-financed foreign junkets. But it hasn't been much of a television story--too complicated and all that--and conservative commentators haven't really broken ranks, until now.

Some added fuel for the cognitive process comes from thinkprogress.org in the form of :

DeLay’s Dirty Dozen

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has been a busy man these last few years. Whether bribing congressmen, threatening political opponents, vacationing with lobbyists, or gutting House ethics rules, it’s been hard to keep up with all the Hammer’s activities. Here are twelve highlights from DeLay’s illustrious career:

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Bohemian Mama on “Monsanto”


Some fun facts about Monsanto's stalking and bullying of farmers:

500: the number of US farmers under investigation annually by Monsanto

$15,253,602: the total recorded judgments granted to Monsanto for farmer lawsuits

$3,052,800: The largest recorded judment in favor of Monsanto as a result of a farmer lawsuit

8 months: the prison sentence given to a Tennessee farmer convicted of violating an agreement with Monsanto

Read the entire post with excellent links.

News that isn't covered so A** can be

From Hugh Hewitt regarding Aaron Brown’s comments that lack of coverage on the Red Lake school shootings didn’t have anything to do with the victims being Native American.

Mr. Hewitt opines:
I have noted the disparity in coverage between other school tragedies and the one in Minnesota, and speculated that remoteness, the lack of video, and the fact that the slayings involved Native Americans may have all contributed what is an obviously less pervasive coverage of the attack than attached to Columbine. Other factors include the Schiavo coverage and the fact that this is not the first school massacre, or even the second or third. Brown's show had devoted a large amount of time to the murders, but somebody at CNN has got to put Brown on a prompter leash, as the picture is not "cool," and the "Playing the story hard" is pseudo-insider talk intended to what, impress his eight viewers inside CNN? Further, there is a legitimate question about the scale of the coverage, and dismissing the idea that the ethnicity of the victims might play a role in that scale is to pardon yourself out of knee-jerk arrogance. Why not at least compare the number of minutes CNN devoted to Columbine on the day after that tragedy with the number of minutes concerning Red Lake broadcast yesterday before issuing the defensively dismissive "Come on?"

I don’t pretend to understand why a story gets preferential treatment when it comes to the amount of air time, but I know that issues of importance to me are usually last in line to be aired. This issue of school shootings should be the community topic until we come to our senses about how people are treated in this society. Unfortunately, it will probably see the same level of emphasis as the need for equitable voting practices.

It is possible that the effort Tom DeLay has been making to project a positive image could have been undermined by the very mention of Native Americans, or the news media preferred to highlight a type of suffering that didn’t require Americans to think about the aura of hopelessness that permeates vast segments of our society. It is always easier to look at a situation like Terri Schiavo’s where the fault and blame can righteously be assigned to everyone in the husband’s camp.

There are numerous stories that could (and should) be told, but who really cares if Paul Wolfowitz has a mistress? After all Karl and Scotty might have one also.

Friday, March 25, 2005

What was that about “tax exempt status”?

Last Friday, as the House and Senate were working out their differences over legislation to stop the removal of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube, embattled House Majority Leader Tom DeLay discussed the issue at a gathering of the Family Research Council at the Willard Hotel in Washington. In the speech, he drew parallels between Schiavo's situation and his own as he faces a barrage of ethics allegations, and he implicitly asked the conservatives to come to his defense as they have Schiavo's. A recording of the speech was supplied to TIME by Americans United for Separation of Church and State, an advocacy group:

(Excerpt from Time article)

"You know, one way they stopped churches from getting into politics was Lyndon Johnson, who passed a law that said you couldn't get in politics or you're going to lose your tax-exempt status, because they were all opposed to him when he was running for President. That law we're trying to repeal. It's very difficult to do that, but the point is, when they can knock out a leader, then no other leader will step forward for a while, because they don't want to go through the same thing. If they go after and get a pastor, then other pastors shrink from what they should be doing. It forces Christians back into the church. That's what's going on in America. The world is too bad and I'm going to get inside this building and I'm not going to play in the world. That's not what Christ asked us to do.

"And so they understand that. It is a political maneuver, and they are going to try to destroy the conservative movement, and we have to fight back, so please, this afternoon, each and every one of you, if you know a senator, give them a call. They'll say our bill can pass in the House. Tell them, okay, your bill is fine, but the House bill is better, and I want the House bill. Particularly if you know Democrats. Don't let them get off the hook by hiding behind one House and the other is adjourned. We can do anything we need to do to pass any bill that we need to pass."

Use the off year for education

With all the noise being made about a multitude of political issues, it is always a good thing to remember the issues that aren’t being touted so loudly.

Slowly but surely, the American public is becoming aware of a level of greed and corruption that permeates the political structure from top to bottom. The answers to this dilemma are certainly not obvious, nor will they ever be discovered through the level of discussion currently taking place in the public square. The only hope I can see to elevate the discussion to two sided is through an elevation of knowledge about “how things actually work”.

The following item can be found on the sidebar at Black Box Voting.

Vote fraud 101:
Here is your primer

If you haven't read this, you aren't yet up to speed on how votes can be tampered with using modern voting systems. Chapters download quickly. These will help you hold your own in an informed debate with anyone!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Why drill in the Artic Wildlife Refuge?

If the country in control of oil resources maintains a position of dominance in the world due to the mobility of their armed forces, what will happen to the (currently dominant) countries reluctant to develop alternative sources of energy when mass quantities of oil are no longer available?

Is it feasible that a country or group of countries (EU) can alter the strategic balance of world power by simply ramping up their investment and involvement in the development of cheap, re-useable energy?

It is extremely chilling to think about the possible ramifications of our current foreign policy when we no longer have the ability to move our armies throughout the world. We can only hope and pray that no other group of leaders will ever be as small-minded, self-centered, corrupt or greedy as those currently orchestrating the social downward spiral we have come to know as uniquely American.

Even though it is senseless to blog around in panicked circles, it makes a lot of sense to stay somewhat informed, which you can do by reading the article below.

The Energy Crunch to Come
By Michael T. Klare


Today, the concept of global peak oil is widely accepted in the energy field, though debate rages over when this moment will actually occur. Those who believe that oil supplies are abundant tend to put this date far in the future, well beyond our immediate concern. The DoE, for example, noted in its International Energy Outlook for 2004 that it expects "conventional oil to peak closer to the middle than to the beginning of the 21st century." But other analysts are not so sanguine. "It is my opinion that the peak will occur in late 2005 or in the first few months of 2006," says Princeton geologist Kenneth S. Deffeyes in a new book, Beyond Oil. A more conservative estimate by Mike Rodgers of PFC Energy locates the peak somewhere in the vicinity of 2010-2015. If either of these predictions proves accurate, global oil supply can never climb high enough to satisfy the elevated consumption levels projected by the DoE for 2025 and beyond.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Erection results and polling data may differ

Enzyte maker calls raid 'unwarranted'


Forest Park-based Berkeley is the maker of Enzyte, the "natural male enhancement" product advertised on television by "Smiling Bob." The company's other supplements include Avlimil, Altovis and Suvaril.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service led yesterday's raid, accompanied by the FBI, IRS, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Hamilton County Sheriff's Office and local police departments. A spokeswoman for the Postal Inspection Service said the raid was based on consumer complaints about questionable business practices.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

James Wolcott on some stuff to think about...NOW

(Excerpt from JamesWolcottdotcom)

Call me a pessimist, a proud Eeyore, because I don't think America will smell the fine aroma of Gevalia anytime soon, if ever. This country is wearing a blindfold, staggering backwards, and slitting its own throat in slow motion. Watch the cable news, listen to our elected leaders: there's no more urgency about the economic decline in living standards dead ahead than there is about addressing global warming or loosening the chokehold of military spending. A country where "evolution" is becoming a bad word is not a country interested in facing reality. Instead, as the passage of the bankruptcy bill shows, corporate-political power is going to grind every last dollar out of the desperate and destitute rather than confront the difficult macro decisions. The elites in this country have never had it so good, and as long as they're prospering the distress will smothered under the surface, kept under a lid.

"Many Americans have virtually no leeway on their monthly budgets," writes Alexander Cockburn in
Counterpunch. "A co-pay on some relatively minor health emergency sends them scrambling to the loanshops. If interest rates start to move upwards many households on flexible mortgage rates will default, and plummet into bankruptcy and debt peonage for the rest of their lives.

"If the current trend among countries such as China, Japan and India to reduce their dollar holdings continues, the dollar's status will plummet, and eventually its role as the world's reserve currency will come to an end. No longer will the Asian nations subsidize America's debt, and in consequence the cost of living for ordinary Americans will start to soar, pushing even more over the edge.

"And as the dollar tumbles, so does one of the keystones of what in the 1950s used to be termed reverently, the American Way of Life, meaning in coarse material terms a civilization that guaranteed its middle class affordable higher education and the decent jobs consequent upon same."

You can kiss that dream goodbye.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Lighten up, brighten up and loosen up


Dear Abby,
A couple of women moved in across the hall from me. One is a middle-aged gym teacher and the other is a social worker in her mid-twenties. These two women go everywhere together and I've never seen a man go into or leave their apartment. Do you think they could be Lebanese?

Dear Abby,
What can I do about all the Sex, Nudity, Fowl Language and Violence On My VCR?

Dear Abby,
I have a man I can't trust. He cheats so much, I'm not even sure the baby I'm carrying is his.

Dear Abby,
I am a twenty-three year old liberated woman who has been on the pill for two years. It's getting expensive and I think my boyfriend should share half the cost, but I don't know him well enough to discuss money with him.

Dear Abby.
I've suspected that my husband has been fooling around, and when confronted with the evidence, he denied everything and said it would never happen again.

Dear Abby,
Our son writes that he is taking Judo. Why would a boy who was raised in a good Christian home turn against his own?

Dear Abby,
I joined the Navy to see the world. I seen it. Now how do I get out?

Dear Abby,
My forty year old son has been paying a psychiatrist $50.00 an hour every week for two and a half years. He must be crazy.

Dear Abby,
I was married to Bill for three months and I didn't know he drank until one night he came home sober.

Dear Abby,
My mother is mean and short tempered. I think she is going through mental pause.

Dear Abby,
You told some woman whose husband had lost all interest in sex to send him to a doctor. Well, my husband lost all interest in sex and he is a doctor. Now what do I do?

The abstinence boogey

You can do it in the kitchen
You can do it on the floor
You can do it in the bathroom behind the door
It’s the abstinence boogey

A telling tale from the Globe and Mail


Although many avoided vaginal intercourse to "technically preserve their virginity," Prof. Bruckner said, they were more likely than their counterparts to have oral and anal sex, and to do so without condoms.

"If [pledgers] do have sex, they go into this experience with the idea that, 'Oh nothing can protect me anyway, so why even bother to think about uncomfortable stuff and gross stuff like condoms.' That's the problem."

As a result, those who took virginity pledges had similar rates of STDs, including chlamydia and gonorrhea, as their counterparts who did not vow to remain virgins until marriage. Of the non-pledgers, 6.9 per cent had STDs, compared with 4.6 per cent of those who did pledge their virginity. (The difference is not statistically valid because it is lower than the margin-of-error estimate, Prof. Bruckner said.)

Another reason behind the findings may be that parents and doctors and other health professionals believe discussing contraceptives and STD tests is unnecessary with those who make virginity pledges.

As well, such adolescents "might just not perceive their risk in the right terms," she said. They also have a compelling reason to keep their activities secret.

"If young people take a public virginity pledge to remain virgins until marriage, having sex before marriage means that they break their pledge. Thus, sexually-active pledgers have a greater incentive than non-pledgers to hide that they are having sex," the study says.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

I'll take conspiracy theory for $100, Alex

Unfortunately, this rings too true...

The following from Rigorous Intuition


The Café and GATA (Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee) have developed quite the information network around the world. On that note I am passing on what I am hearing from a solid source. None of this can go in the verified camp, so it all must be treated as rumor until we receive proper verification:

Russia is preparing for possible war and its actions on the dollar indicate just that; they are going to back Syria, Iran. China will back Iran.

Russia has made deals on oil and gas projects and opened its minerals to trading. This should show soon in response to Chinese raw materials buying.

Russia has also abandoned efforts to tie the ruble's movement closely to the dollar and switched to shadowing both the euro and the US currency. This is the first step to war. Other countries operating de facto dollar pegs will follow suit. With 81 per cent of Russia's oil exports currently sold to Europe, the move means that Russia will eventually denominate its oil in euros.

Asia is following Russia, or should I say leading, and is about to dump dollars in sizeable chunks; they believe that the U.S. dollar is no longer seen as a stable currency and it appears that Malaysia will be the first major Asian economy to dump the dollar. China has already calculated when they will optimize the dumping of the dollar to provide the greatest strength to a newly un-pegged Yuan. Both events will occur very close together and it will be planned to do the most damage to the US.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Social Security Reform (who really benefits?)

(From Mother Jones)

The Siren of Santiago
How a Pinochet protégé helped charm Bush into privatizing Social Security.


But while the reform's supporters argue it has been a major success story, officials both inside and outside Chile now increasingly question whether the high costs and modest investment returns have doomed Piñera's original promise: a decent retirement income for workers at a savings for the government. Last year, the World Bank, which until recently encouraged countries to privatize pensions, published a highly skeptical report on private retirement systems in Latin America; Truman Packard, one of the report's authors, says the bank has told the Chilean government that it must spend more to subsidize the private system and "increase its role in preventing old-age poverty."

The bank found that exorbitant fees and other costs charged by private pension fund managers eat up as much as 15 percent of the contributions made by average Chilean workers, and even more for poorer workers. Investment returns have been far more modest than the hefty 11 percent return claimed by the private managers. The Chilean government's pension superintendent says actual returns for someone earning Chile's minimum wage were only 3.7 percent between 1994 and 2000.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Is EPA smoke contaminating YOUR colon?

This would be a good starter for a deep consuming conversation about the Kyoto Treaty or any of the environmental problems addressed by legislation in the past four years.

With the indication that dust is thickly distributed around the globe, it would be greatly in the world’s interest to concentrate on tracking the Depleted Uranium dust that is emanating from the Middle East (and the Balkans) these days.

(From USA Today)

Air pollution from other countries drifts into USA


• Mercury emitted by power plants and factories in China, Korea and other parts of Asia wafts over to the USA and settles into the nation's lakes and streams, where it contributes to pollution that makes fish unsafe to eat.

• Dust from Africa's Sahara Desert blows west across the Atlantic Ocean and helps raise particle levels above federal health standards in Miami and other Southern cities.

• Haze and ozone from factories, power plants and fires in Asia and Mexico infiltrate wilderness spots such as California's Sequoia National Park and Texas' Big Bend National Park, clouding views and making the air less healthy.

Scientists who study air quality have long known that air pollution seeps into the USA from abroad. But only recently have they realized that the problem has an enormous reach - an idea that at first met with resistance.

"A lot of scientists were skeptical," says Daniel Jaffe of the University of Washington at Bothell, recalling the reaction to his early findings. "There was a lot of, 'Oh, come on now.' "

But aerial and ground-based sensors that detected the chemical fingerprints of pollutants floating across oceans helped erase doubts. So did new satellites that in the last 10 years gave scientists a bird's-eye view of clouds of pollution drifting from continent to continent.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Now that we have closed the door to Bankruptcy Court…

30% interest rates: Sound business or loan sharking?


•Hiking rates. Several top issuers now hit consumers with "penalty rates" just below 30% - rates that would violate usury laws in a number of states. At that rate, a consumer paying $300 a month on a $10,000 debt would take more than 44 years to pay it off. Consumers are punished for everything from making one or two late payments to using too much of their available credit limits, even if they have paid on time.
Judy Reid, of Johnson City, N.Y., said her rate on one card nearly tripled to 29.49% recently, despite a good payment record. She said the issuer told her that something in her credit report triggered the increase.
Consumers saddled with onerous rates and fees may well be driven into bankruptcy. Under the bill moving through Congress, most won't find a haven there.
Reining in irresponsible consumers is a worthwhile goal - but only if it's coupled with responsible lending. In biblical times, those who made usurious loans were said to be banished from God's presence. These days, they are rewarded with record profits and new laws tilted in their favor. At a minimum, they deserve a plague of boils.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Money talks, but it don't sing and, etc.

On February 13th, I put up a post (read it here) that compared the value of the US Dollar to the Euro.

At that point in time, the USD was worth 77 cents in comparison to the Euro.

Today, the US Dollar is worth 74 cents in comparison to the Euro (as shown here).

Thank God we will be forced to convert to the Chinese Yuan (8.3 Yuan for each Dollar) way before we have to think about using Euros.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Second hand smoke, dairy, and beef

God forbid if cows ever take up smoking.

(Excerpt from USA Today article)

SAN FRANCISCO — Scientists at an influential California agency have concluded that secondhand smoke causes breast cancer, a finding that could have broad impact on cancer research and lead to even tougher anti-smoking regulations.
Although recent studies have linked smoking to breast cancer, no major public health group, including the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute, has declared it a cause of the disease that kills 40,000 women each year in the USA.

(Excerpt from not milk website article)

The following ten references provide converging lines of evidence that focus upon one central point.
There are hundreds of millions of different proteins in nature, and only one hormone that is identical between any two species. That powerful growth hormone is insulin-like growth factor, or IGF-I. IGF-I survives digestion and has been identified as the KEY FACTOR in breast cancer's growth.

(Excerpt from Organic Consumers Association article)

Hormones and Cancer
The European Union (EU) has banned the importation of American and Canadianbeef grown with the use any growth hormone, including 17 beta-estradiol because studies have shown that it is a “complete carcinogen.” [vii] <#7>
This synthetic form of progesterone shares similar characteristics with aclass of other molecules called endocrine disruptors that imitate other human hormones in the body and have been linked to diseases such as cancer.
Zeranol, another progesterone-imitator, has also been linked to cancer in a recent study done at Ohio State University. Scientists exposed breast cancer cells to zeranol-treated beef. The results indicated significant increases in cancer growth ­ some showed an increase even with zeranol levels 30 times below the level the FDA considers safe [viii] <#8> .
It should also be noted that the FDA does not permit any residual MGA to show up in beef residue testing [ix] <#9> . It is considered a suspected carcinogen by the USDA [x] <#10> .

For information about your state (and nationwide)

Who offers rBGH-Free Milk? This covers Organic and Non-organic farms.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Milk Debate, is it good science or misinformation?

Milk Getting Bad Rap from 'Animal Activists,' Says Dairy Council


The U.S. Surgeon General, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and many other reputable nutrition organizations confirm that milk and milk products are a good way for kids and teens to get the bone-building calcium they need.
In addition, the positive role of milk and milk products in the diet has been established through numerous clinical trials, which are considered the "gold standard" for evaluating cause-and-effect relationships, says the dairy group.

In the interest of being “Fair and Balanced”, the following info is from the “Not Milk” website.

Thank you, Dr. McDougall!


Dairy products were the foods most often recalled by theU.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from the periodOctober 1, 1993 through September 30, 1998 because ofcontamination with infectious agents, mostly bacteria. (2)

They are commonly tainted with disease-causing bacteria,such as salmonella, staphylococci, listeria, deadly E. coliO1573 and Mycobacterium paratuberculosis (4) (possibly oneof the agents causing Crohn's disease; a form oflife-threatening chronic colitis), as well as viruses knownto cause lymphoma and leukemia-like diseases, and immunedeficiency in cattle.

If you have children and/or your family is big on dairy products, I would encourage you to spend some time reading about the links between current dairy products and obesity, as well as any other common disease that has been on the upswing in America during the past thirty years.

I would also encourage you to investigate the organic consumers link on my side bar.

You may justly feel an inability to control your destiny as a voter, but there is absolutely no excuse for feeling that way as a consumer.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Critical information regarding the proposed budget

The following is from an e-mail I received from True Majority:

Most draconian budget in recent memory cuts social programs by $238 billion over next five years

Call Congress NOW at 202/224-3121.Tell the Capitol operator your state,and get connected to your senator's office.

Dear Daily Read,

If this budget passes:

The program that feeds pregnant women, babies and young children in need will be cut by $658 million over the next four years.

That's assistance for 660,000 women and children.Families who need low income housing assistance won't get it.

By 2010, 370,000 fewer families would receive rental vouchers than this year.

Elementary schools (No Child Left Behind) will receive $12 billion less than was promised. Special education programs would lose nearly $7.6 billion in the next four years.

TrueMajority has joined with Children's Defense Fund, the National Council of the Churches of Christ and the entire Coalition on Human Needs to block these cuts.

Our country's budget is a moral document. It shows what we care about and what we value enough to spend our money on.

This budget is by no means compassionate. And with the huge deficit engendered by runaway Pentagon spending, it's not conservative, either.

Right now the congressional budget committees are debating the budget.

This is the time to let them know your priorities.

Just pick up your phone and call the number.
It takes two minutes to call your senator's office.
You don't have to be a policy expert to lodge your opinion; congressional receptionists are trained to quickly and politely record your views.
Just call 202/224-3132 and tell the operator what state you live in, and you'll be connected to one of your senators.

To make your call easy, here are some things to say:

I live in _________, and I'm calling to ask my senator to strengthen programs that help people survive during tough times.
Our government should provide Head Start and health care for poor kids.
We should provide housing assistance for those who need it.
Please, let the Senate Budget Committee know that these kinds of basic programs should not be cut.
Thank you for lodging my request.

(Short paragraph deleted – Daily Read's personal info)

Thank you for looking after America's children.

Working to make your voice heard in Washington,
Darcy Scott Martin

More information on serious budgeting

The many groups that make up the Coalition on Human Needs have analyzed President Bush's proposed budget and determined that programs children rely on would be cut in unprecedented ways.
See http://www.chn.org/pdf/budgetcuts22705.pdf

Our friends at the Children's Defense Fund assembled a fact sheet with talking points on the proposed budget's effects on children at http://www.childrensdefense.org/action/talkingpoints.pdf

This newspaper column by Molly Ivins captures the situation in concrete terms:http://www.truthout.org/issues_05/H022105B.shtml

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Intolerance will not be tolerated

I am an equal opportunity hater. I don’t select the things I am going to hate based on race, religion, sex, sexual preference, physical abilities, physical attributes, ethnicity, wealth, education, social or political affiliations, or personal beliefs. There are probably more, but I can’t think of them at the moment.

What I hate is hypocrisy, abuse of power, and allowing your ignorance to delude you into believing that being highly emotional about a topic makes you an expert on it.

These things that I hate, I will call sins (the greatest of these being abuse of power followed by hypocrisy). Use of these sins will be transgressions, and the sinners will be referred to as transgressors. (I could be reaching here because transgression means going beyond a law, and our society obviously doesn’t hold these sins to be above or beyond the law).

In any case, I am trying to establish that hypocrisy, abuse of power, etc. are not dictated by whom you are or what you believe. They are dictated by your behavior.

Let’s consider Abuse of Power. A common transgression (in my mind) would be using a piece of legislation (that is originally authored to address an issue that would greatly improve the lives or condition of a large segment of the American population) to enhance the political or financial stature of one or more legislators or a select group.
An example of this might be difficult to produce because most legislation is actually written on pretense, and is designed to further interests other than those of the American people. Verified voting legislation may be the exception here.

Hypocrisy and self-delusion are often difficult to separate; especially when the transgressor professes to be the arbiter of moral values (i.e., Gingrich, Bennett, and O’Reilly) or an expert on the inner workings of any class of people, especially those with some opposing viewpoints.
An example of this transgression was highlighted by Karlo at Swerve Left when he dissected and linked to this article.

I think it is very important to understand that the political and social environment we are currently bathing in is pretty much an illusion. When people interact one-on-one, it is generally with some respect and seldom saturated with hatred and vitriol. For the most part, the intense debate you see taking place on the factor or hear on a multitude of radio talk shows is one-sided or completely fabricated to draw an audience. Of course, there is additional consequence at times, but not as the result of intelligent thought.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

6th Global Women’s Strike (happening) Tuesday, March 8

From the SF Bay View... something to enlarge your knowledge base, and hopefully engage your mind.

(Excerpt) Read the entire article

The Strike always aims to bring women (and men) together across many divisions. It begins with those of us who are invisible as workers: mothers and other caregivers, grassroots activists; those struggling on disability benefits, welfare, social security; homeless people; immigrants with or without papers; domestic and homecare workers; sex workers; prisoners and ex-prisoners; refuseniks; students; rape survivors and others working for justice; whatever our race, nationality, religion, age, sexual choice . . .

Men’s support and participation internationally in Payday, a multiracial network of men, pulls together men’s participation in the GWS. In addition to supporting women’s Strike actions, they have also organized with women and men who refuse to go into the military or to go to war, to be torturers, rapists or killers.

The “poverty draft” which forces thousands of people – mainly people of color and immigrants – to join the U.S. military in order to get money and benefits they can’t get someplace else, makes it possible for the U.S. to wage “endless war.” Those refusing the military are a central part of the movement to end war and poverty. Payday will soon be premiering its film “Refusing to Kill.” Email payday@paydaynet.org and visit www.refusingtokill.net.

There is a peaceful and democratic revolution going on in Venezuela; they call it a Bolivarian Revolution. Also, the people of Haiti, which became the first Black republic in the world after the slaves rose up and beat the French who were in charge of that island nation, are now fighting again to oppose a U.S. invasion and occupation.

Both of these struggles are largely woman-led, although that is often not mentioned, and are important points of power for the Strike. The Strike will be launching its third film on Venezuela, showing that what the grassroots wants and is demanding everywhere is possible to win.

Gender Blogging?

Is it true that the way to tell the difference between a blog written by a male and a blog written by a female is the blog written by the male will have the biggest or the most of something primarily useless while the blog written by the female will have the nicest links? I guess, in some cases, I would have to say TRUE.

With that in mind, it is probably time for you to jump over to read some things by Morgaine at What She Said.

It seems the discussion about gender blogging has been (and will continue to be) in full swing for better or worse. While you are getting a wonderful dose of opinion, make sure you check out the blogroll down the right side bar. Like I said, nice links.

The search for credibility

The Bush Administration is out pounding the pavement in an effort to push a story about Social Security down the American Taxpayer's throat that is also being hotly disputed in the opposition party's camp.

This is just one of many issues (all issues) in which the "yes it is", "no it isn't" level of discourse is prevalent. Why are we not having a constructive discussion between both parties, front and center for the American people, which would go a long way toward regaining some degree of credibility in our political system.

Consider this story:

Treatment for pot triples in decade

March 5, 2005

WASHINGTON -- The admission rate for those who seek treatment for marijuana use almost tripled between 1992 and 2002, latest data compiled by the federal government shows.
The numbers released Friday reflect a growing use of marijuana in the 1990s and an increase in the potency of marijuana, said Tom Riley, a spokesman for the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy.
''This report makes clear what people in the public health community have known for years, which is marijuana is a much more dangerous drug than many Americans realize,'' Riley said.
The study was conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. AP

This is a typical article of news put out by the Administration, and doesn't really tell us anything more than the possibility that two people ran out of pot in 1992, while six people ran out in 2002.

These are also very interesting:

Drug Control Office Faulted For Issuing Fake News Tapes

Prepackaged ONDCP "News" Segments Called Illegal Propaganda

This is interesting

If you think it is cute that Rush has a near death experience every time he farts, then you will enjoy trying to figure this out.

The Mind Reader

Friday, March 04, 2005

A new friend

I was informed by my oldest son that the next blog thingy at the top right of most blogs will transport you randomly to other blogs that you might never otherwise see.... so, I have spent a few evenings reading bits and pieces of blogs that were randomly selected by blogger.

I have stumbled across some very good stuff out there including Josie's Small Town Lesbian blog that is hanging out there like a light for individuals who are searching for someone like Josie to share their thoughts and ideas with.

In this hostile political environment that is forcing its way into the lives of people who definitely don't need it, Josie will be a really good find for a lot of people. I recommend her wonderful energy.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Are we just too stupid to understand?

As a reward for being faithful about my mortgage and credit card payments, I receive a continual ration of offers to participate in different programs designed to lower my interest, lower my payments, and lower my overall level of debt. The most notable of these programs (at the present time) is the Debt-Free Plan administered by MBNA.

The Debt-Free Plan offers five different loan amounts from $5,000 to $25,000 (in $5,000 increments) with a set payment schedule (X amount per month for Y months). Each of these loan amounts is listed on the mailer showing the required monthly payment for contract lengths of 72, 60, 48, or 36 months based on 6.99% Variable APR assuming rates do not change. APR increases and additional advances will lengthen term or increase payments.

One of the samples is:

Borrow $15,000.
Monthly payment is $266 for 72 months.

Basic scrutiny yields the following:

Total amount paid back is $19,152.
Total interest paid is $4,152.
Portion of monthly payment going to interest is $57.67
Percent of monthly payment going to interest is 22%

How in the hell can this be based on 6.99% APR?

By working through each of the separate loan structures (17 in all), I came up with a value that reflected the percent of monthly payment going to interest from a low of 13.3% to a high of 22% (the sample shown).

The scary part of all this is the up front statement that your APR is not guaranteed for any period of time and may be changed by MBNA as well as adjusted on a monthly basis due to changes to the Prime Rate. You will need to make extra payments or larger payments if the APR increases.

Why in the world would anyone choose to sign up for a game where the rules can be changed simply at the whim of the opposing team? And how is it legal for a loan structure to be advertised at 6.99% when the pay back reality requires a minimum of 13.3%?

I have a feeling that it all boils down to the notion of overhead and administrative (lobbying) costs being passed on to the consumer.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Downward Mobility

This nasty cold packed up in the middle of the night and moved about 80 percent of its crap downstairs to my lungs. Just when I was beginning to feel a little better, and not sneezing and blowing my nose every two minutes...I wake up with a tight chest, coughing very shallowly because it hurts to do it any other way.

I have been informed by various friends and family members that everyone knows someone who has been down with this crud from three to five weeks. I sincerely hope they are just trying to make me feel better. Well, I don't.

We are still being blessed with spring-like weather which makes being ill even worse.

At least my couch is comfortable enough to sleep on, and I can learn something about why I won't be able to file for bankruptcy from Senator Sessions while I am napping.