Tuesday, December 16, 2003

I love to read good news. Most of the agricultural products we produce and consume in the U.S. are produced on large, corporate owned factory farms, which, specifically in the case of hog farms, produce tons of hog waste (manure, urine etc) a year. The waste is kept in big, stinky shit lagoons which are filled then buried or covered with a tarp,wreaking havoc on the surrounding environment, ruining the ground water and plumetting property values near them. The cost to dispose of the waste or bury it is around $40,000 an acre. That's why I was so happy to see this story on MSNBC today. Apparently now some brilliant scientists from Oregon have bred a hybrid form of the poplar tree that sucks up the waste like a drinking straw, making the ground useable again in about ten years, and costing $15,00-$20,000 for an entire 3-4 acre lagoon. Science kicks ass!!

Monday, December 15, 2003

My computer went down over the weekend so I've fallen a bit behind (what a weekend to fall behind huh?) I think it totally rocks that they caught Saddam. Who wouldn't? We've watched a growing insurgency and uncertainty in Iraq since the president declared an end to major combat, and the capture of Saddam is one big step that the people of Iraq needed us to accomplish so they can feel safer, and get on with their lives. Plus, no lover of freedom could possibly view Saddam Hussein as anything but a monster. Yet I have to endure hearing Robert Novak attack democrats by saying we're less than happy at Saddam's capture. I assume he meant because it makes bush look good-but that part of the statement was dropped from the end. How dare you Mr. Novak. How dare you imply that liberal democrats would be anything less than jubilant at the arrest of a man who inspires fear and symbolizes some of the most horrible human rights atrocities the world has known. Liberals are for human rights, social and economic justice, and protection of civil liberties. All I'll say is this-as a democrat I know Saddam Hussein is a bastard-I just happen to also believe that George W. Bush is no peach either. Maybe he hasn't gassed a group of his own citizens with chemical weapons-but he eases restrictions that allow his contributors to gas us with pollution. Maybe he doesn't kill those who disagree with him, but he has his attack dogs publicly question their patriotism, and in the case of Joeseph Wilson, threaten their families. The world is better for Saddam Hussein being in custody-That is a fact. I just also happen to believe that the world would be alot safer without George W. Bush in power as well.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

I was having a great post-debate political discussion with my better half last night, and,as usually comes out of our discourse, I garnered some insight. This time into the coming campaign season. As the campaign picks up, and primaries draw near, let's put aside all else and admit that Ted Koppel's opening question last night points squarely to the real issue here- Who can beat Bush next year? Let's admit it Dems-that's the one thing we care about the most. So let's break it down-Yes, Clark has the defense credentials. And Clark is a smart guy, I've heard interviews with him (notably, Josh Marshall's from a month or so ago) and he really knows his foreign policy stuff. Honestly he'd be a great guy in a secretary of state or other comprable foreign policy position. But his domestic policies are underformed by a campain team that's trying to run a one trick pony in a military uniform. Plus you really get that sense sometimes that Clark's not so much running, as being run, and that comes across. Kerry is also a great guy, but he's picking up steam too little too late ( I, personally thought it was great when he told Rolling Stone that Bush "fucked up" the war with Iraq) but in the beggining he really didn't generate too much excitement and that's cost him. Let's skip the rest and jump right to Governor Dean. I've been backing him for awhile for a few reasons. Mainly because in the first debate he was the first one out of the gate (besides Kucinich) to spew anger at Bush. I'm angry so I liked that. And now that he's gathering insider support, not just from Gore, but from an obviously capable stable of advisors and policy sculptors, he sounds better than ever. What he said last night about holding the elections in Iraq first so that when the new Iraqi constitution is written it will have credibility and strength was very insightful and sounded like real leadership. I get the campaign emails, and his speeches are phenominal. And the style in which he delivers them is no less dynamic-I saw him speak, and the excitment and sense of empowerment he generates is palpable. He's tapped into something that will definately get him votes. But can he beat Bush? I think so-but it's gonna take guts, and strategy. He's not afraid to call Bush out on his policies, and that's important. But it makes it easy to paint him as angry, and that could be unappealling to some, unless you do one important thing, get other people angry too. The one thing I've read to date that got me the most angry was Molly Ivins book, "Bushwhacked". It brings home the way Bush's policy affects the peopple of this country on a personal level. If, during a debate with Bush, Dean attacks Bush's environmental policy, then puts up a big glossy picture of a newly unfunded superfund site, or an industrial waste filled cesspool right behind a residential area (houses in the picture, kids playing near the waste), then ties Bush's easing of restrictions with the companies who fund his campaign.....Well, lets just say that might piss people off. Especially those small towners who think Bush is a great guy who cares about them, but can't drink their water. All I'm saying is, as the cheerleaders say, B-E-A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E!! The anger could be eased a bit tho (just a bit) so that Dean looks cool, and in control of the debate. It'd be really funny to see him get Bush angry. Get him on the defensive. Then let him sputter his way out of the White House. I guess we'll see what happens as the campaign season progresses. So far though, as Dean gathers momentum, and his confidence grows, he seems to me at least to be looking more presidential. Let's hope that only becomes more so in weeks to come.

Joe Lieberman is understandably upset over the Gore endorsement of Dean. The one lingering question he seems to be asking is, "what's changed?", since Gore tapped him as a running mate in 2000. It seems to me as a candidate for president he should be able to figure that out. What's changed has alot to do with Gore, and many other democrats realizing that the centrist leanings of the "new" democratic party cost us alot of votes in 2000. Democrats were driven more to the center by bullies from the right leaving our left flank so wide open that the Greens, led by Ralph Nader, saw an opportunity, not so much to win, but to get a large enough percentage of the vote to qualify for federal matching in 2004. This scattered a large segment of the traditional democratic base and made the race tight enough to cost Gore the electorate. Once the full nightmare of George W. Bush was realized, the democrats, left and center alike, strengthened their resolve, shook off the right's bullying attacks, and worked to solidify around a singular purpose, defeating Bush in 04. And smart democrats realize we're not going to do it using the same strategies of middlehood used by Gore in 2000. Smart democrats, except it would seem, Joe Lieberman. He's still running toward the center, banking that since Al Gore and he won the popular vote and there's no Nader (yet) this will be a replay where the real winners will come out on top.But things have changed, and he needs to see that. Beyond the enormous changes 9/11 caused in our collective national Psyche, are the enormous changes in his own party. We're not as ashamed of our leftist leanings as we were three years ago. Most democrats are against the war. He not only voted for it, he's the only one running who seems to be for it wholehartedly. And that's an example of his biggest misstep to date-he seems to be with the president on alot of things. Maybe he was right leaning before, (I don't know myself. I personally didn't pay much attention to Lieberman before 2000) and that's why he can't see what's changed. But his name on the 2000 ticket gave him name recognition for good or ill. And with that recognition comes a large group of democrats who payed more attention to his views over the past three years, and who've seen him go with Bush quite a few times on major issues. We're democrats, Joe, we hate Bush, remember? And going right isn't going to get you any votes away from Bush-his supporters are pretty solid. We're supposed to be the alternative to Bush. Another mistake Gore made, and Joe's making now is not playing to his strengths as a leader and policy maker. The climate stewardship act he co sponsored is a great piece of legislation but he has yet to bring it up noticably in the debates or in interviews-all he can talk about is what he thinks is wrong with Howard Dean. That doesn't really make people want to vote for Joe Lieberman-at most it might make people not vote for Dean. And if it becomes a Dean/Bush race, which looks more and more like a possibility, it hurts the party. (And it should be noted, that his bitter, attacks on Al Gore over the past two days greatly hurt the party as well) So if Joe wants to see what's changed, all he needs to do is step back and realize it may not be him, it's the rest of the world. He may not have changed a bit, but maybe his style of leadership isn't what we need anymore. And if someone who wants to hold the mantle of this nation's leadership can't even step back and see the changes in this country, or even in his own party, (I mean, he's gone so far as to actually have to ask, "what's changed?" several times, ) it only serves to paint a picture of someone who's far from fit to lead us right now.

Monday, December 08, 2003

This just in... Former Vice President Al Gore is going to endorse Howard Dean. Wow-I wouldn't want to be ten feet from Joe Lieberman right now.

Friday, December 05, 2003

I was reading the latest terror warnings on CNN this morning. I haven't read many of them recently but this one caught my eye since it focused on a possible threat to shopping malls and with the holiday season here and the economy sucking there's no reason to scare people out of malls unless there is some danger. Anyhoo- the only reason I'm even commenting is the last sentence in the story. It reports on video tape and chatter from Militant Islamist websites and closes with....

"The video shows al Qaeda training camps inside the Saudi kingdom, while praising Ilah's actions"

Training camps inside Saudi Arabia. I think this made it's way to CNN as a test to see if the Saudi's are really our partners in terror. If these camps get bombed by the Saudi's they pass, if not....There's no other reason I can see for this sentence to be on CNN.com. But then again, what I know about these matters could fill a thimble so don't take my word for it.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Hooray for Hollywood

Now that the left has started organizing and consolidating their PACs in an effort to oust Bush in 04, the Republicans are fuming. They claim that the soft money raised by groups like America Coming Together, and MoveOn.org, are pushing campaign finance laws-oh, OK. Cuz The Heritage Foundation does nothing to advance Republican agenda. Plus you have millions being raised by the oil, coal, and lumber industries for Bush, (where do you think that 200 million he's trying to raise comes from? A bake sale?) The left has always had a ton of little groups hoping to effect policy on medicare, or gun control, or the environment, the republicans are just pissed off now that they've focused their efforts and fund raising power on a common enemy-the Bush White House. I really think in that case all this amounts to is - too bad. Deal with it. No one has seen the left this angry and cohesive in a long time-and as Bruce Banner says-"You wouldn't like [them] when [they're] angry" Besides-as far as special interests go, I'd rather see Tom Hanks have influence than Ken Lay any day. I know my big deal is campaign finance reform-it still is and will be until there's real change-but this next year is about a greater purpose-getting the radical right out of the White House. If Bush is going to have hundreds of millions of dollars at his disposal the least the Democratic challenger deserves is an equal chance. Once regime change is accomplished then the real reform can begin. For now though if Hollywood wants to make the Democratic side of this contest as big budget a production as the Republicans will for Bush I'm getting my popcorn ready for the show.

On one hand, it's good to finally see the goods on Diebold touch screen voting systems exposed in the New york Times-Paul Krugman's latest column pretty much rehashes all the stuff I've cited previously on the topic. However, he writes for the Times, and I write for a weblog nobody reads. On the other hand, there has been a marked increase in the number of right wing pundits who are trying to paint Krugman as a nut-job. There's little wonder why. No respectable right winger wants a conservative economist who teaches at Princeton to go full boar Anti-Bush. Mostly because when sane, educated economists make sane, educated arguements against your president they don't seem quite so flaky as, say, the assertations of your average web logger might sound. I'm actually reading Krugman's book, "The Great Unravelling", right now, and I for one can attest that he's not a nut-job. I suspect that most conservatives know that-which is why he's so scary to them. But judge for yourself-it's a great book and I recommend it. And as for Diebold-hopefully soon it will find it's way out of the weblogs and op-eds and into the mainstream press-we'll just wait and see...

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

So Bush is signing Healthy Forests as we speak. He has the balls to have members of the firefighting teams that fought the California wildfires up there with him. The same people he denied funding to when they asked for money to cut brush before the fires started.Now he's signing a so called "environmental" bill that is nothing more than an early Christmas present to the logging industry. Ho Ho Ho. As if I didn't already feel sick enough today.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Sorry I've been off-I have a cold and my head is a bit swimmy-But in my haze I was up to my usual tooling around my web haunts and in reading Joe Coanson's JournalI hit a link he had to a commentary in The Scotsman by Andrew Neil. This sentence in Mr. Coanson's column was what made me read the Scotsman article-

"A former Tory Party staffer who has worked in America, Neil has ample conservative credentials -- and during the months leading to the invasion of Iraq, he established himself as one of the United Kingdom's most voluble hawks. The former Murdoch editor is rightly concerned about the progress of the war against Islamist terror, and he doesn't flinch from admitting that he is deeply disturbed by what he learned during a recent visit to Washington[.]"

The story is baisically a first hand account of off the record intelligence briefings about the war on terror that Mr. Neil observed during a recent trip to Washington. Here's a bit of what he heard-

"President Bush’s bold Thanksgiving trip to Baghdad gave US troops a much-needed fillip and he said all the right things. But behind the scenes the war on terror is going badly wrong in its two main theatres. "In both places it is worse than you think," I was warned before arriving in the US capital for a series of off-the-record briefings. The warning was accurate."

That's not remotely all, of course, and the whole article is what I would file under required reading. But the passage that caught my attention as "should be common knowledge" was a quote from Ahmad Chalabi about the recent administration rush to hand over power in Iraq to the Iraqis-

"The whole thing [the speedier transfer of power] was set up so President Bush could come to the airport in October [2004] for a ceremony to congratulate the new Iraqi government."

Remember that-If the handoff goes to shit after the first tuesday in November he's already reelected-or some other poor schmuck will have to deal with the fallout-I call on all concerned to contact your representatives in Washington and tell them the transfer of power in Iraq can't be used solely for political gain, and a sloppy job will further the cause of terrorism and endanger American interests around the world. This is too important to be a campaign ad. Read the article yourself. Then decide if the term leadership applies to any of these people in Washington now who want your vote next November. And speaking of campaign ads-remember this article when you start getting bombarded with Bush ads in a few months saying how he's the man to protect us from terror...I don't feel particularly safe-do you?

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