Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hey Joe

Hey Joe, where you going with that envelope full of contributions in your hand? Found a new boss, going out to shoot health care down.

What good is the Democrats having sixty votes if they can only count on fifty-nine. Joe Lieberman, henceforth Loserman on this site, has decided to prepare for his life after he is thrown out of office in the next election. Caucusing with the Democrats, his vote can only be counted on when it is not needed.

After selling out his former party in the last election he leveraged his position as an important member of the Democratic caucus into chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. Since that time, whenever it matters, droopy dog Loserman sides with the Republicans. With him, they really don't have sixty votes, just fifty-nine and a political manipulator out for all he can get. It is time for the Democrats to expel him from the caucus, strip away his chairmanship and all committee assignments. He needs to be treated like the sell out he is.

If I believed Joe Loserman's position was based on principle I might have a different opinion. However, it seems abundantly clear that the Senator from the insurance industry is more interested in sabotaging Obama and settling old scores than doing what is right for the country.

Pretending to represent a state where the majority heavily supports the public option, Loserman is opting to support the insurance industry. He has become their lap dog.

Hey Joe, have you picked out the curtains for your industry job? Your constituents no longer want you. They caught you messing 'round with another boss.

With apologies to Jimi Hendrix.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Our Friends in Afghanistan

The New York Times reported yesterday that Hamid Karzai's brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai, has been on the payroll of the CIA for some time. This is the same brother who has long been accused of having ties to the drug trade. The CIA and heroin together? This war is really starting to look like Vietnam.

This connection between drug trafficking and the CIA should surprise no one. It part of a long tradition. In addition to the above mentioned involvement in heroin smuggling in Vietnam the CIA has also been implicated in cocaine smuggling (see Gerald Hausenfuss) and other such actions.

Will we ever learn?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Conventional Wisdom and a Bucket of Spit

In the past week, former Vice-president Dick Cheney has argued with the tactics taken by the Obama Administration towards Afghanistan. Cheney referred to Obama as "dithering" about the issue. This from a man who, in the eight years he largely directed the war, utilized a strategy that can be summarized by the words ignore and under-resource. Cheney's advice should be seen for what it is worth - a warm bucket of spit.

Also in the news this week was the action of the Obama Administration to limit the pay of executives of bailed out banks. As soon as this was announced, pundits began to offer the conventional wisdom that limiting the pay of these executives would lead to a "brain drain." Their stated fear was that the best talent would flee the industry. First let me take issue with the idea that the very people who caused the financial crisis are talented. If these people had known what they were doing to begin with the world's economy would not have teetered on the brink of collapse. A collapse averted only because the U.S. taxpayer bailed them out. The other notion, that they would flee the banking industry for other jobs that paid similarly shows just how out of touch they are with reality. Where else will they find a job that rewards them millions in bonuses for failing? They want what they are worth - then let's give them their bucket of spit.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Repeal Anti-Trust Exemption for Health Insurance

In 1945, the McCarran-Ferguson Act granted an anti-trust exemption to the insurance industry. Since that time it has been legal for the insurance industry to essentially engage in price fixing. This little known exemption has been as the base of the outlandish rise in health care costs and likely contributes to the excessive costs for insurance more than any other single factor.

The exemption allows the Insurance Cartel, the actual name of a group comprised of Aetna, Cigna, Blue Cross, United Health Care and Well Point, to collude with each other to carve up the market and run it like a monopoly. This explains the reason that one or the other of these companies tends to control and dominate the markets of the various states. They have simply colluded with each other to split up the spoils of their monopoly.

This fact of anti-trust exemption seems to run counter to the cries of competition and free market values being espoused by those opposing health care reform. Anti-trust exemptions are at their very heart contrary to competition.

It is no wonder that health care costs and insurance costs have skyrocketed over the past 60 years. Price fixing and monopolistic practices have never done anything but guarantee profit at the expense of service. The fact that this practice is not being immediately repealed shows that the game is still rigged.

About the only other industry that I can think of that has an anti-trust exemption is baseball. It's exemption is based on the tenuous logic that it is the national pasttime and should be treated differently. The logic behind an anti-trust exemption for health insurance seems even more tenuous. If we are going to have monopolies in health care, let's do it the right way - national health care, run by the government. Oh, I forget, the debate is not about health care, it's about the right of these companies to make a profit.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

One Less Holiday

Today marks the invasion of the Americas in 1492 by Christopher Columbus. Yesterday, most of the nations banks and all of its federal buildings were closed to honor this date. While I like a day off as much as anyone, if there is ever one holiday that needs to go, it is this one.

Columbus should not be celebrated, he should be reviled. He was a genocidal slave trader who allowed his men to hunt native peoples like animals. He sold children as sex slaves and bragged in letters to his brother Bartholomew about the price he could get for these children.

He also must have been the worst sailor in the world. Columbus thought he was in India and seemed unaware of maritime knowledge common in his own time. To honor this man is an insult to everyone who cares about humanity. He was a murderer driven by greed. It would make more sense for Vietnam to have "LBJ Day" than for anyone to honor Columbus.

For more on Columbus and his cruelty please read Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen.

Friday, October 9, 2009

What Would Victory Look Like?

As we contemplate pouring more troops and more resources into Afghanistan, certainly assuring that this will become the longest war in which the U.S. has ever been involved, we seem to have lost sight of what we are trying to do.

Can someone please tell me what victory looks like in Afghanistan? We certainly have no role models. Not the British, not the Russians, not the Moghuls, not even Alexander the Great managed to conquer this land. It's not called the "Graveyard of Empires" for nothing.

It is not even clear who could surrender to provide a military victory. Our puppet, Karzai, has no moral authority with the Afghan people and even our government doesn't think he's in charge. In fact, this very question of who is in charge is the rub.

If the U.S. managed to kill every identified opposition leader and we occupied the country for ten years, what would happen when we left? Everything would return to the same -perpetually the year 1300.

Where does that leave us? Occupying Afghanistan forever in what at best might be a stalemate. Have any doubts? Ask the Russians - they're better at chess. They at least knew the game was not winnable and finally resigned.

Remembering Che

Today, October 9th, marks the anniversary of the assassination of Che Guevara in 1967. Che Guevara was an Argentinian physician who was instrumental in the Cuban revolution and dedicated his life to the struggle for the people against the tyranny of capitalism. He was gunned down in Bolivia by elements of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

His life was one marked by a commitment to ideals and concern for others. He could have easily led the life of privilege but instead chose to give himself to something greater. To those familiar with his struggle he is an icon.

Viva Che!

British Petroleum Gulf Oil Spill Costs

  • 11 workers killed in initial blast
  • Damage to Ocean Ecosystem
  • 35,000 to 60.000 Barrels of Oil Per Day. That's somewhere between 1,500,000 to 2,500,000 gallons a day or 150 to 300 million gallons already spilled into the ocean as of July 27th by that estimate.
  • Gulf Fisheries Industry
  • Gulf Tourism (ongoing costs)
  • Long Term Health Effects to Humans and Wildlife (to be determined)

Worst Oil Spills

  • Kuwait 1991 - 520 million gallons: Gulf War I
  • Gulf of Mexico 2010 - 206 million gallons: BP Oil
  • Mexico, Bay of Campiche 1979 - 140 million gallons: Pemex Oil
  • Trinidad & Tobago 1979 - 90 million gallons: Greek Oil Tanker Atlantic Empress
  • Russia 1983 - 84 million gallons: Leaky Pipeline collapsed into Kolva River
  • Iran 1983 - 80 million gallons: Tanker collided with Oil Platform
  • South Africa 1983 -79 million gallons:Tanker Castillo de Bellver sank
  • France 1978 - 69 million Gallons: Amoco Cadiz ran aground and broke in half.
  • Angola Coastal Waters (700 miles at sea) 1991 - 51-81 million gallons: ABT Summer exploded at sea.
  • Italy 1991 - 45 million gallons: M/T Haven Oil Tanker exploded.
  • Source: Mother Nature Network. The 13 largest oil spills in history. by Laura Moss. Friday July 16, 2010.

Nuclear Accidents (Under Construction)

  • 1957 Windscale, UK
  • 1961 Idaho Falls, Idaho, US
  • 1979 Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania, US
  • 1984 Athens, Alabama, US
  • 1985 Athens, Alabama, US
  • 1986 Plymouth, Masachusetts, US
  • 1986 Chernobyl, Ukraine, USSR
  • 1996 Waterford, Connecticut, US
  • 1989 Griefwald, Germany
  • 1999 Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan
  • 2002 Oak Harbor, Ohio, US
  • 2004 Fukui Prefecture, Japan
  • Source: Benjamin Sovacool

Mining Disasters (Under Construction)

  • China 1942 - 1549 deaths
  • France 1906 - 1100 deaths
  • Japan 1963 - 447 deaths
  • Wales 1913 - 438 deaths
  • South Africa 1960 - 437 deaths
  • Source: Epic Disasters Website
  • Note: Do not look at the dates herein and conclue that mining disasters are a things of the past. Every year thousands of miners die worldwide in largely unreported accidents.

OIL IS OVER! - Resources

  • Hibbert's Peak - "The" source that explains why Oil is Over.
  • Tragedy of the Commons -Garrett Hardin
  • The Land Ethic - Aldo Leopold
  • Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight - Thom Hartmann
  • Eco-Defense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching


  • The Dirt People - Ray Bawarchi (yes, that's me)
  • The Razor's Edge - Somerset Maugham
  • Demian - Herman Hesse
  • Black Elk Speaks - Black Elk (as told to R. Neimur)
  • The Quiet Don - Mikhail Sholokov
  • Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
  • Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
  • 1984 - George Orwell
  • Delicious Laughter - Jallahudin Rumi
  • The Sybil - Par Lagerksvitz
  • The Fixer - Bernard Malamud
  • Spirits Rebellious - Khalil Gibran
  • The Quiet American - Graham Greene
  • Midaq Alley - Nagib Mafouz
  • Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Farenheit 451- Ray Bradbury
  • We - Yevgeny Zamyatin


  • John Coltrane - St. John the Divine
  • Patti Smith
  • The Clash - the only band that matters
  • Billy Bragg
  • Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band
  • Art Blakey
  • Death - pre-punk visionaries from Detroit
  • PJ Harvey - Polly Jean, Polly Jean
  • Woody Guthrie
  • Michael Franti (Spearhead)
  • Public Enemy
  • Ray Charles - the Genius
  • Bob Dylan
  • Velvet Underground
  • Flaming Lips
  • John Doe & X
  • The Beatles

opiate of the masses

  • God is a comedian, playing to an audience too afraid to laugh. - Voltaire
  • I do not feel obliged to believe that the same god who has endowed us with sense, reason and inellect has intended us to forgo their use. - Galileo Galilei
  • The ink of a scholar is worth far more than the blood of a martyr.- Mohammad
  • If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him. - Sheldon Kopp
  • No one will be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest. - Louisa Mae Alcott
  • When it is a question of money, everyone is of the same religion.- Voltaire
  • If God were alive today, he'd be an athiest. - Kurt Vonnegut
  • The god I worship is not short of cash, Mister. - Bono
  • Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine. My sins they only belong to me. - Patti Smith
  • God sure baked a lot of fruitcake baby, when Adam met the Eden lady. - Joe Strummer