Friday, December 18, 2009

More Important than Polls and Constituents

2009 will be remembered as the year when politicians quit pretending to listen to their constituents and actually stopped paying attention to polls. Instead, they paid attention to who pays for their attention - their contributors.

Sen. Joe Lieberman leads the list as we now know that the (I) that usually follows his name stands for "Insurance Industry," rather than "Independent." Republican'ts as a group stood up for their industry backers and did all they could to kill reform that their constituents overwhelmingly supported.

Of course, there was a different response when the favorite envelope stuffers on Wall Street came begging. Quickly, funds were dispersed, the bail out floundered and the bankers who caused the near catastrophe got even richer, laughing all the way to, well, their place of employment. Bipartisanship flourished in a spirit of politicians having their backers yank their chains like lap dogs.

A special tone deaf award goes to Sen. Max Baucus (D-Montana) (or is it Baccus (X-Sextopia)?) for his shameless attempt to nominate his girlfriend to be a judge. It is true that his girlfriend, Melodee Hanes, who now works at the Justice Department is probably qualified for the post. But to nominate your girlfriend, I guess that Baucus has never heard of avoiding the appearance of impropriety. Who does he think he is - a "C" streeter? But why would he worry about such minor things after selling us all out with his health care negotiations.

The Ironic Honesty award for all of 2009 must go to Sarah Palin. Quitting halfway through her first term so she could "better serve" her constituents, she did so in spite of herself.

Most Lawless Nation or Twisted Priorities

Nothing is as easy as denouncing an evil doer. Nothing so difficult as understanding him. -Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

The United Nations recently released figures that note that the United States has 100,000 more people incarcerated just for drug offenses than the entire European Union has locked up for ALL crimes. Making this statistic even more striking is the fact that the EU has 100 million more citizens than the U.S.

It should further be noted that the United States has more people incarcerated per capita than any nation that has ever existed including the Soviet Union in the days of Stalin and apartheid South Africa. Add in that we are one of the top ten nations as regards executions and we appear to be particularly lawless.

Is that really the case. No, in fact, it is not that the U.S. is any more lawless we have just chosen to incarcerate as the primary means to deal with our social woes. No money for social services, no money for juvenile delinquency prevention programs, no literacy, no after school care, no education. Certainly, no health care. Just prisons and war.

It's a matter of priorities.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

In Case You Missed It

In case you missed it among the many news stories tallying Tiger Woods dalliances or climate deniers screaming about stolen emails, a truck load of radioactive waste wrecked somewhere in Nevada last week.

The relative amount of news coverage given to each story shows how out of whack our priorities have become.

If we focused on real news we might see how a few Senators are selling out the nation on health care reform.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ronald Dumbsfeld

The Senate Foreign Relations committee has just released a report in which it is revealed that the military had Osama bin-Laden cornered in Tora Bora in the immediate aftermath of the invasion in 2001. It is also noted that then Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, apparently feared that to capture or kill bin-Laden would produce a backlash. An absurd fear given the backlash that happened anyway.

Of course, the report from the Senate committee provided little information about the facts on the ground, i.e. that bin-laden was cornered. It seemed inevitable at the time that he would be captured. There were even questions about whether he had been killed or not. It only added to his mystique and elevated him to some quasi-hero status to those we most wanted not to follow him. Then suddenly, we didn't "think that much about him," to quote W.

But was it really that Rumsfeld and the rest of the Bush (mis)Administration feared a backlash if they caught bin-Laden. If they had perchance caught him or killed him, again, as seemed inevitable at the time, that might have really disrupted the momentum to invade Iraq. If bin-Laden were gone, the public would have likely been satisfied that 9/11 had been avenged.

Could they really have been this incompetent?

In retrospect it can be seen that Iraq was far more important to the Bush-ites than Afghanistan. Saddam is gone, executed. Most of his inner circle is dead. Osama bin-Laden, Mullah Omar, and others, still in charge.

When satellites can read license plates from space, how do you miss a 6'5' guy on dialysis traveling around in the rural mountains? Answer: You try very hard.

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