Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Reality of War

From Today in Iraq a few days ago:

Pictures from Iraq and Afghanistan - Gory

I'm only posting this link because I don't want to lose sight of war really looks like.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Toxic Gumbo, the Dead Zone Delta, & the MIssissippi

Others have already posted or written on this. I'll supply links when I can.

My contribution to this topic is to highlight the thoroughly un-individualistic nature of human activity in nature. Beginning at the headwaters of the Mississippi up here in Minnesota, the Gulf Coast is deeply interconnected to what we in Minnesota and everyone downstream puts into the mighty, but greatly toxic river. Fish advisories are quite telling. What I can personally attest to is that in 1979 the fish in the river in Illinois were already not fit to eat. Too many of them had open sores on their bodies. I have no idea what caused the open sores but I wasn't going to eat them. This is over 25 years ago and so far, our rivers are no better even if we do not see them catch on fire anymore.

The stretch of the Mississippi between Baton Rouge and New Orleans is known as Cancer Alley. The Gulf coast stretching from the mouth of the Mississippi and moving west along the Gulf shore is a "dead zone" where fish and other marine life die from lack of oxygen. This is caused by the nitrogen that make algae blooms which the bacteria eat when the algae dies and that takes out the oxygen.

And this doesn't even include all the petroleum, by-products, and toxic waste that ends up in the river. No wonder people are getting cancer at higher rate than the national average along Cancer Alley.

We need to move to a wholly different model on which to base human activity. We must cease being a purely profit seeking critter and instead seek our humanity, both individually and collectively, and live as if life is actually worth living and enjoying rather than as an escape from work and boredom.

I want good food, clean water, and a healthy planet. I just don't think this will happen while humans remain in existence unless there is a profound change in the collective consciousness. I remain hopeful but not very optimistic.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Eternal Vigilance

Contained in Bush's speech from the French Quarter last night (9/15/05) is this:
Yet the system at every level of government, was not well coordinated and was overwhelmed in the first few days. It is now clear that a challenge on this scale requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces -- the institution of our government most capable of massive logistical operations on a moment's notice.


So I have ordered every Cabinet secretary to participate in a comprehensive review of the government response to the hurricane. This government will learn the lessons of Hurricane Katrina. We are going to review every action and make necessary changes so that we are better prepared for any challenge of nature, or act of evil men that could threaten our people.

If these statements were made by a different administration, one not controlled by the neo-cons, I would be less concerned about them. But, this administration's track record is not known for its transparency, its diplomacy, or its concern for life.

It has shown itself to be a liar going to war with a country that had nothing to do with 9/11. In going to war it sent its soldiers without sufficient number or proper armor. It allowed or was complicit with what happened at Abu Ghraib. And now, it has left its own people to starve and die in New Orleans.

Our federal legislators have no better record by letting this administration go to war in Iraq, passing the Patriot Act, and doing all it can to ensure that the wealth of the nation goes to only a few people who couldn't care less that New Orleans' levies were breached from lack of funding.

Given the way we went to war with Iraq, the lack of armor for its soldiers, the kind of stories to come out of Abu Ghraib, the massive killing of innocents and the flattening of Najaf, and now New Orleans after Katrina added together with the kind of secrecy this administration likes to practice, I am far less inclined to believe anything noble about Bush's statements expanding federal authority in the states and broadening the role of the Armed Forces within the country.

I'm not the only with these thoughts. See this and this at DailyKos and this by Stan Goff. Be vigilant. Be very vigilant.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The price of freedom

I had posted a story about an account that made allusions to Nazi Germany to an email list. I was told in no uncertain terms that such references were, get this, "offensive." My initial response was to tell that person to "go Cheney yourself." The remainder of this post is my long response to all the emails posted on this topic.

I'm not interested in what is or is not offensive. I'm interested in getting people to think far more critically about what is happening. Fascists, like cockroaches, operate best in the dark, not the light of day, until there are so many it no longer matters.

You're making the mistake of comparing what was happening in 1945 Germany versus 1933 to 1939. This isn't about Jews per se. It's about the way an entire country became so deluded and benighted as to exterminate millions and millions of human beings without it being popularly known until it was far too late to resist. Nazi Germany is simply the most obvious example to use to illustrate that point.

I can understand your doubts about what I see and read because it seems so impossible to be happening here. No, it's not going down in exactly the same way just as fascism was different in different parts of Europe. I only ask that you consider the information below. Please be advised that this is only a tiny sample of what goes into my observations.

For fascism: <--a flash presentation <--excellent commentary <--the economic aspect, raises thorny issues <--an international perspective

Trends in America: <--ref'd by the article above <--very important by Bill Moyers <--don't skip this one

Religious aspect: <--an env. org in legacy to Rachel Carson about nukes <--how to understand fundamentalism <--see all Davidson Loehr's sermons here (I really like this guy)

Propaganda: <--might want to read "The Cows Have Come Home" <--book by Alex Carey

Recent happenings: <--ref's book by Sinclair Lewis "It Can't Happen Here" (1935) <--compilation of refs to recent fascist-like events or reports <--the story "Welcome to the Rockies..." <--source of the above post "Welcome to the Rockies..."

FEMA & Concentration Camps: <--extensive list of links and executive orders

While these executive orders can be taken neutrally and thought benign, I am less inclined to believe that the Bush administration is benign. Power is not inherently good or bad. The goodness or badness depends on its use, whether to protect and save lives, or, to commit murder.This is why eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.

Yo, Livin' large...

see it here or copy this in:

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

For you anti-government folks

Via Monastro at Xanga comes this tidbit:

Comparison: USA v. USSR
Is life today in the USA like life yesterday in the USSR?
Part 1 and Part 2

[Note: all bolds are mine]

The article began well enough but I didn't get very far before I hit the libertarian streak when I read this:
In the event that tax revenues become insufficient to pay these salaries, federal judges decided in Kelo v. City of New London that private property can be grabbed and sold in order to generate more taxes.

Many would agree that the federal government has an essentially parasitic nature.
In the first place, Kelo v. New London is not about the federal government getting to increase its tax revenue. It's the use of government and the judiciary by thieves to steal it from those who live there and then NOT paying any taxes through the instruments of tax increment financing or tax abatements. It's not government that's bad, but the people in it and who own it that use government for their own profit-seeking ends that are bad. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

They also have this article at their website which opens with:
In these final years of Federal Empire, the classic financial crimes of bribery, usury and monopoly have become rampant. Indeed, they are so prevalent it could be said that we are governed by criminals: a kakourgocracy, if you will.
Most of us just call it "kleptocracy" since theft is itself a criminal act. More importantly, it is an immoral act since it does not require a "law" to know that taking what is not given is a fundamental injustice violating the basic notion of fairness. But I digress.

In the first quote above the argument goes that the federal government is stealing money from its citizens and are therefore parasitic on the body politic. In the second quote the argument goes that criminals populate the federal government and thus America is governed by criminals. However, the argument is not against government per se but only the "federal" government as stated in Part 2 as follows:
The National Guard’s deployment to the Middle East has rendered it less capable of protecting our country’s borders or responding promptly to a natural disaster. The National Guard is part of the organized Militia of the Several States, but the federal government has usurped its Constitutional mission, which is “to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.” U.S. Constitution Article 1, Section 8.

In the face of these domestic calamities, Bush II and the Republicrats remain fixated on foreign countries. They are telling U.S. citizens to “stay the course” on federal government’s military occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.
One question that pops up is: If the federal government is run by criminals, what makes state and local government any less susceptible, especially when you consider that many state governors go on to become President of the United States or that many state legislators get elected to the federal capitol? Doesn't the argument made for "kakourgocracy" indicate that no level of government from the federal down to city government is exempt from this assertion? If this is the claim, then the natural progression of the argument is that all government is corrupt regardless of level. Their conclusion in Part 2 is:
The domestic failures of totalitarian States eventually cause widespread dissatisfaction in their citizens. Then, the political upheaval involved in dissolving their federal governments will appear to them no more threatening than what they already face - the collapse of public order or the disappearance of their nations’ borders.
The question then becomes, why wouldn't state and local governments also collapse? And, despite what happened in New Orleans with a few folks exercising their "Constitutional right" to own guns, the vast majority of people were far more civilized than they were given credit for given many of the TV news reports (unfortunately not available for streaming) that I personally saw by Shepard Smith and others on all three major news stations (CNN, MSNBC, Fox), and, many personal accounts making the rounds on various blogs. Not to mention it wasn't the "federal" government that prevented people from crossing the bridge but the Jefferson Parish Sheriffs that did that. Nor is it just the federal government that is bloated with parasites. Joe Scarboro said in his newscast yesterday (9/12/05) that he personally witnessed (and experienced himself from the sound of it) the prevention of any help getting to those in need by the Red Cross and other NGOs in some kind of turf war. According to Scarboro unless they, menaing the Red Cross or NGO, got the credit they weren't going to let anyone else help. I don't like Scarboro's attitudes generally but on this I share his anger in the face of this kind of inhumanity.

The real problem in the Libertarian argument is that they have made the federal government to be inherently evil while state and local governments apparently are not. And as Scarboro's newscast indicates, it is not reserved for government alone. Since the article about governance by criminals is also at this site, I consider it only fair to point out that the federal government is no more or less evil than any other level of government whether state or local. But the real elephant here is that no level of government, or any organization whether for-profit or non-profit for that matter, is any more or less evil than the people in it. Just as the argument is often made that "guns don't kill people, people kill people," so too government, including the federal government and all organizations, are merely a tools that can be used for good or ill.

The real failure of arguments against the federal government is that it never addresses the real purpose of any government beyond establishing "law and order" as if people by themselves are incapable of such things. And yet, they want their cake and eat it too by saying "we don't need no stinking federal government" while allowing for more localized forms as if local governments are any less susceptible to criminality. The problem isn't government. The problem is criminality and the use of government to do it under the appearance of legality because under the "rule of law," morality and human decency can be buried in the fine print.

The other biggest problem in their thinking is that as a nation and a society we need to have a way to ensure that there is some consistency across the "Several States." Otherwise the states are not just states within a United States of America but sovereign States unto themselves requiring all the same legal entanglements as if dealing with foreign nations. All activity within a State then becomes a national activity and all cross-border activity between the States becomes inter-national by definition. Which is precisely why the federal government was created with the establishment of the Constitution of the United States of America* superceding the Articles of Confederation.

*Which Libertarians like to quote so much but then like to ignore the very first clause of the Preamble which states, "in order to form a more perfect union."

I believe the energy directed against the "federal" government would be much better spent on making it live up to the Preamble than in trying to get every state in the union to become their own nation. In such a case we'd have to re-start the Indian Wars since they were here first and "possession is 9/10 of the law."

And as I pointed out earlier, it is not the "federal" government that is the problem. It is the criminals in it that is the problem. The only way out of this is to start identifying what is truly meant by "criminal." Because if the gripe is that your money is being "taken" by another then it is not actually the federal government that does that. It is the usurers who do it by convincing people to elect "private-profiteers" to government. This is like electing foxes to guard the hen house and then bitching that we need to get rid of the institution of guarding rather than working to get better guards. As Jefferson put it in the Decl. of Independence:
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
So, if I call Libertarians and other anarchists dipshits this is why.

Katrina, Poltics, & Governance

Mencius said, "All men have the mind which cannot bear to see the suffering of others. The ancient kings had this mind and therefore they had a government that could not bear to see the suffering of the people. When a government that cannot bear to see the suffering of the people is conducted from a mind that cannot to see the suffering of others, the government of the [country] will be as easy as making something go round in the palm."

It is obvious we have a government that does not care about the suffering of the people because they have minds that do not care about the suffering others. If it did care, it would employ people with brains and experience who would do their jobs to make life better and saner for everyone instead of the clusterfuck we've always had in this country. We have yet to live up to the Preamble of our own Constitution which says:
We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America."

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Breaking News

Friday, September 09, 2005

America after Katrina

I just got back from a FEMA Detainment Camp

I got this story from an email. I wish I could repost it but there are pictures with this story that need to be seen. So, visit here to get the whole thing.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Just sent this off through Democracy for America asking for an Independent Commission to investigate the travesty in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Here's my message:
I believe that the Hurricane Katrina tragedy is a travesty. As an American citizen I demand an explanation for the sluggish response of FEMA. I want an Independent Commission to investigate so that partisanship does not control or interfere with the inquiry. There is no excuse for what happened and I expect those responsible for it to be held accountable.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

1984 anyone?

I was doing a Google search on when Gov. Kathleen Blanco declared a state of emergency. I certainly recall her doing it very early on. The first hit comes up with this:
Sunday, August 28, 2005
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Gov. Blanco declares emergency as Katrina churns

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Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco declared a state of emergency on Friday and planned to discuss preparations for south Louisiana as Hurricane Katrina continues to gain strength in the Gulf of Mexico.

Further down the search page I found this little snippet for the KATC website:
Hurricane HQ Updated 8:30PM Friday: Katrina: Blanco Declares Emergency. Governor Katherine Blanco declared a state of emergency Friday evening as a ...

I did a search at the website and found this:
Bush Declares Louisiana Emergency
Aug 28, 2005, 03:55 PM

CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) - President Bush declared a state of emergency in Louisiana on Saturday because of the approach of Hurricane Katrina and his spokesman urged residents along the coast to heed authorities' advice to evacuate.

Bush, vacationing at his ranch, was being regularly updated about the storm, which is expected to hit land early Monday, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.

Officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency continue to coordinate with state authorities in Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama, and have prepositioned supplies in areas expected to be affected, he said.

The president's emergency declaration authorizes the FEMA to coordinate all disaster relief efforts and to provide appropriate assistance in a number of Louisiana parishes, or counties.

Authorities told residents of low-lying coastal communities to head for higher ground.

The storm was expected to strengthen as it crosses the Gulf of Mexico and could become a Category 4 hurricane with wind of at least 131 mph. "We urge residents in the areas that could be impacted to follow the recommendations of local authorities," McClellan said.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

But Gov. Blanco's declaration of emergency for hurricane Katrina doesn't seem to be there anymore. It's getting to the point you need to have 24/7 multiple channel video recording and webpage snapshots just to prove you didn't make it up.

Isn't this the kind of thing they did in the book "1984"?

Incompetence is a cover

I posted this response at Kevin Drum's Washington Monthy.

I hope you people realize the far greater implications of what happened in New Orleans. This has nothing to do with incompetence. There was a major tug of war between Blanco and Bush about Blanco handing over total control to the Feds. Brown and Chertoff did their jobs perfectly saying stuff is on the way. The SS... er National Guard were extremely effective at making sure no one got in or out except the media. What we have is a fascist government dressed up to look like incompetence with the ready availability of sacrificial lambs for slaughter.

In the meantime, the DLC is mightily silent on all this and I gotta wonder why they aren't using this opportunity to score major political points for '06 and '08. Instead, they are focused on John Roberts and the Supreme Court and not going near Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans with a ten foot pole. Odd that. Except for the Black Caucus that is.

However, despite all this, and despite what the media does after the major focus is off New Orleans, is that the media was there. Many of the reporters (Shep Smith, Joe Scarboro, Tucker Carlson, Geraldo, and others) were faced with a humanitarian catastrophe and they showed us what was going on and asked the same questions any sane person would ask. It doesn't get any more real than this and it threw political ideology right out the window.

Though I am very cynical and still consider the march of fascism a genuine danger, I am going to hope that the political fallout from this marks Hurricane Katrina as a watershed event. Also, be advised that the reverberations of this through the economy will bring on a major recession.