Saturday, December 31, 2005

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Constitution in Crisis

FYI: How did it come to this?

The Constitution in Crisis; The Downing Street Minutes
and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution, and
Coverups in the Iraq War
(the Investigative Status Report of the House
Judiciary Committee Democratic Staff) (This link will download/open
a PDF file) (click title of post for live link)


This report was released last week by Congressman John
Conyers' office and has not received much media
attention. Why not?

From Rapid Response. Thanks, Edwin ♥

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Monday, December 26, 2005

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Santa Claus is coming to town. . . .

Thanks, Free Spirit!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Bush job approval dips again to 39%

New Zogby Survey shows Iraq a Partisan War

In the face of rising gas prices, partisan sniping over Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, and a resumption of insurgent violence in Iraq, President Bush’s job approval rating has slipped into a post-holiday funk, again dipping below 40%, a new telephone poll by Zogby International shows.

His approval rating almost mirrors the percentage of respondents (40%) who said the nation overall is headed in the right direction.

The deterioration in the President’s numbers appears to be the result of eroding support among the investor class and others who supported him in his 2004 re-election bid, said Pollster John Zogby, President and CEO of Zogby International. And the problem is the Iraq war – just 34% of respondents said Mr. Bush was doing a good or excellent job managing the war, down from 38% approval in a Zogby poll taken in mid-October.

Bush’s overall job approval rating in that poll was at 46%.

Among investors, Bush’s support for managing the war dropped five points since October, from 45% to 40%, Zogby data shows. But Zogby said the glaring split between how Republicans, Democrats and independents think the President is handling Iraq is remarkable.

“The numbers in support for the war in Iraq are extremely low among Democrats and independents,” Zogby said. “This is a partisan war.”

While 61% of Republicans said he was doing a good job managing the war (down from 70% in October), just 11% of Democrats and 28% of independents gave him good marks in that area. Among Democrats, 71% said Bush was doing a “poor” job with the war, while 17% said he was doing only a “fair” job.

Among men, 36% said the President was handling the war well, while 31% of women agreed.

For the rest: click title

Presenting ~~ One remarkable cat; SWEENEY!!

For seashell with love



4cl Vodka

2cl crème (ou liqueur) de pêche
6cl jus de Cranberry Ocean Spray
6cl jus d'Orange

• Shaker tous les ingrédients dans avec des glaçons.
• Verser dans un grand verre à cocktail.
• Décorer avec une tranche d'ananas d'ananas sur un pic en bois.

And a tip of the beret to Oscar

Christmas wishes for all who are far from home this season

I'm a Stranger Here

Ain't it hard to stumble
when you've got no place to fall
in this whole wide world
yes I got no place at all

I'm a stranger here
I'm a stranger everywhere
I would go home, but Lordy
I'm a stranger there

Hitched up my buggy
and saddled my black mare
gonna find me a fair deal
in this world somewhere

I'm a stranger here
I'm a stranger everywhere
I would go home, but Lordy
I'm a stranger there

I looked down the track
as far as I could see
and a little bitty hand
just a-wavin' back at me

I'm a stranger here
I'm a stranger everywhere
I would go home, but Lordy
I'm a stranger there

Jim Hightower at the HEP blog [clicky!]

Contrary to the contrived wisdom of the cognoscenti, the American majority is amazingly progressive ... and pissed off.

How progressive? It doesn't get covered by the corporate media (imagine that), but mainstream polls consistently find that big majorities of Americans are not meek centrists, but overt, tub-thumping, FDR progressives who are seeking far more populist gumption and governmental action than any Democratic congressional leader or presidential contender has dared to imagine. In recent polls by the Pew Research Group, the Opinion Research Corporation, the Wall Street Journal, and CBS News, the American majority has made clear how it feels. Look at how the majority feels about some of the issues that you'd think would be gospel to a real Democratic party:

1. 65 percent say the government should guarantee health insurance for everyone -- even if it means raising taxes.
2. 86 percent favor raising the minimum wage (including 79 percent of selfdescribed "social conservatives").
3. 60 percent favor repealing either all of Bush's tax cuts or at least those cuts that went to the rich.
4. 66 percent would reduce the deficit not by cutting domestic spending but by reducing Pentagon spending or raising taxes.
5. 77 percent believe the country should do "whatever it takes" to protect the environment.
6. 87 percent think big oil corporations are gouging consumers, and 80 percent (including 76 percent of Republicans) would support a windfall profits tax on the oil giants if the revenues went for more research on alternative fuels.
7. 69 percent agree that corporate offshoring of jobs is bad for the U.S. economy (78 percent of "disaffected" voters think this), and only 22% believe offshoring is good because "it keeps costs down."
8. 69 percent believe America is on the wrong track, with only 26 percent saying it's headed in the right direction.

Americans might not call themselves progressive -- but there they are. On the populist, pocketbook issues that are rooted in our nation's core values of fairness and justice, there's a progressive super-majority. It flourishes in red states as well as blue, cutting through the establishment's false dichotomy of liberal/ conservative.

It's also a pissed-off super-majority, for its views are treated with infuriating disdain by the whole political system -- including corporatized Democrats who minimize and trivialize the grassroots populist fervor. By routinely dismissing the boldly progressive views of the people as unworthy of consideration, much less action, the political elites are coldly dismissing the people themselves and saying, "You don't matter."

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Daou Report

by Peter Daou

The Dynamic of a Bush Scandal: How the Spying Story Will Unfold (and Fade) - The third button on the Daou Report's navigation bar links to the U.S. Constitution, a Constitution many Americans believe is on life support - if not already dead. The cause of its demise is the corrosive interplay between the Bush administration, a bevy of blind apologists, a politically apathetic public, a well-oiled rightwing message machine, lapdog reporters, and a disorganized opposition. The domestic spying case perfectly illuminates the workings of that system. And the unfolding of this story augurs poorly for those who expect it to yield different results from other administration scandals.

Here's why: the dynamic of a typical Bush scandal follows familiar contours...

1. POTUS circumvents the law - an impeachable offense.

2. The story breaks (in this case after having been concealed by a news organization until well after Election 2004).

3. The Bush crew floats a number of pushback strategies, settling on one that becomes the mantra of virtually every Republican surrogate. These Republicans face down poorly prepped Dem surrogates and shred them on cable news shows.

4. Rightwing attack dogs on talk radio, blogs, cable nets, and conservative editorial pages maul Bush's critics as traitors for questioning the CIC.

5. The Republican leadership plays defense for Bush, no matter how flagrant the Bush over-reach, no matter how damaging the administration's actions to America's reputation and to the Constitution. A few 'mavericks' like Hagel or Specter risk the inevitable rightwing backlash and meekly suggest that the president should obey the law. John McCain, always the Bush apologist when it really comes down to it, minimizes the scandal.

There are five more ~~ to read, click the title.

Tip o' the hat to Maha.

Here comes the sun!!

Today: 9 hours and 28 minutes of sunlight
Tomorrow will be 0 minutes and 5 seconds longer.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


2 c. brown sugar
2/3 c. milk
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
4 tbsp. butter
1/2 c. walnuts, finely chopped
Mix ingredients in saucepan. Boil slowly until a small amount dropped in a glass of cold water forms a soft ball. Cool and then beat until creamy. Add vanilla and walnuts. Pour into a buttered pan and cut into squares or spoon onto waxed paper.





Spy vs Spy

Why not seek warrants? Perhaps because no court would grant them. We’ve seen these abuses in the past: Wiretaps on civil rights leaders, political opponents, anti-war protesters. That’s what the Church Committee found. That’s what the FISAC (Foreign Intelligence Security Act Court), a secret court whose purpose is to grant warrants for just such wiretaps as Bush claims he wants, was established to prevent. We know that not all those unwarranted wiretaps were against overseas communications involving foreign nationals: purely domestic calls were intercepted too.

Today’s news is that one of the judges (U.S. District Judge James Robertson) on that secret court has resigned in protest.

Dick “Vice President for Torture” Cheney and Alberto “The Torturer’s Friend” Gonzales like the program. They also like holding US citizens incommunicado, without charges and without counsel, for years. The excuse that “time is of the essence” in getting unwarranted phone taps is false: Under current law the President would have 72 hours retroactively to seek a warrant. All he’d need is a few signature, and there’s no reason to believe that he couldn’t get them if the requests were even marginally legitimate.

Even the right wing is in an uproar. The Chicago Tribune, under the headline “So Much for Protecting the Constitution,” says:

The facts of this case: In early 2002, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to monitor international telephone calls and international e-mail messages without any showing of probable cause to believe that a participant in the communication was involved in unlawful or terrorist activity, and without obtaining a search warrant from a court of law. This action was a direct violation of federal law and the United States Constitution.

The rest is at Making Light ~~ a good read.

Solstice is coming, the goose is getting fat. . .

Please to put a penny in the old man's hat!

Today will have nine hours and twenty-eight minutes of daylight. The shortest day of the year. Celebrate: the light is returning. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow will all have more light than today. Good trend, eh?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

~~ William Butler Yeats

World Is at Its Hottest since Prehistory, Say Scientists

By Geoffrey Lean
The Independent UK

Sunday 18 December 2005

The world is now hotter than at any stage since prehistoric times, a top climatologist announced last week. His startling conclusion comes as Nasa reported that 2005 has been the hottest year ever recorded.

Dr. Michael Coughlan, head of the National Climate Centre at the Australian Government's Bureau of Meteorology, said: "One probably has to go back into prehistoric times - and way back in them - to be seeing these sorts of temperatures."

Top British climatologists agree privately but are cautious of saying so in public because, naturally, no measurements were taken of temperatures then.

Dr. Coughlan is supported by research that shows carbon dioxide levels in the air - the main cause of global warming - are higher now than at any time in the past hundreds of thousands of years.

Scientists in Bern, Switzerland, and Oregon in the United States analysed levels of the gas in tiny air bubbles trapped in Antarctic ice during the past 650,000 years. They found current levels were 27 per cent greater than the highest level over that period.

Professor Sir David King, the Government's Chief Scientist, has said the last time levels of the gas were that high was 60 million years ago. And that was during a period of rapid warming in the Palaeocene epoch, which caused a massive reduction in life on Earth.

Meanwhile, top climatological bodies around the world report that 2005 is vying with 1998 as the warmest year on record. Nasa says it just beats it, while the Met Office says it is just behind it, and the US government's National Climatic Data Centre says the two years are statistically indistinguishable.

Whichever is right, 2005 has been a remarkable year, for 1998 was made much hotter by a strong El Niño, the warm Pacific current that strongly affects weather around the globe.

Last June, September and October were all logged as the warmest ever, world-wide. The past 10 years are all in the warmest 10 ever recorded, apart from 1996 whose place is taken by 1990.

This year Arctic sea ice dropped to its smallest ever extent, the Atlantic suffered a record hurricane season and an unprecedented drought reduced the flow of the Amazon to its lowest ever level. Canada and Australia had their hottest ever weather this year, while India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Algeria suffered heatwaves touching 50C.


Click title for source.

What Did You Think Would Happen?

IN the political haze following 9/11, back when the Republican noise machine was grinding out the first bars of its "you're with us or against us" waltz, Democrats ran around like Hollywood pool boys trying to get discovered. So fearful of appearing out of step with the Bold Leadership TM of the Bush administration that they crowded around the neocons' bellicose, nationalist dominionism.

So it's hard to watch those Democrats who so willingly gave away their powers to the President now cry foul when the President cites their surrender as the source of his extralegal powers.
NYT: "President Bush and two of his most senior aides argued Monday that the highly classified program to spy on suspected members of terrorist groups in the United States grew out of the president's constitutional authority and a 2001 Congressional resolution that authorized him to use all necessary force against those responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks."
Bush is, of course, pulling his legal defense strategy right out of Alberto Gonzales' tortured ass, but Bush's tendencies to consolidate power and avoid oversight were already evident by the time the Republican drum beating and the Democrats' prostration resulted in the 2001 resolution. Just as they later shoved each other aside in a fevered rush to sign the 2002 Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq, the Democrats were busily trying to be like the President. They wanted to be seen as manly. They wanted to be seen as bold. They wanted to be seen as common men with an abiding faith in Jeebus.

This is from Scrutiny Hooligans ~~ well worth reading the whole thing. Do it!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Radical militant librarians


Well, maybe her. . .

These guys?

Or maybe these gals?

Dangerous crew, all of them. They're striking terror into the hearts of seasoned FBI men

There was an internal FBI email sent in October 2003 that speaks volumes about why our legal system has been arranged the way it has. An unnamed agent was railing via email against the Department of Justice's Office of Intelligence Policy and Review. Specifically, the agent was frustrated by OIPR's failure to deliver authorization to use Section 215 of the Patriot Act for a search. "While radical militant librarians kick us around, true terrorists benefit from OIPR's failure to let us use the tools given to us," wrote the agent.

Radical militant librarians?

Radical militant librarians?

This, right here, is why the legal system is arranged the way it is. This is why officers must obtain warrants from a judge before they can conduct a search. Even in this time of watered-down civil liberties, warrants serve a vital purpose. At a minimum, the warrant firewall keeps walleyed FBI agents with wild hairs about radical militant librarians from bulldozing through the Fourth Amendment.


Thanks Edwin

Don't you feel better, now?

This morning the President of the United States of America denied he was a dictator.

Ah, such a relief to hear it from his own lips!!

Kurt Vonnegut

Persuasive guessing has been at the core of leadership for so long--for all of human experience so far--that it is wholly unsurprising that most of the leaders of this planet, in spite of all the information that is suddenly ours, want the guessing to go on, because now it is their turn to guess and be listened to.

Some of the loudest, most proudly ignorant guessing in the world is going on in Washington today. Our leaders are sick of all the solid information that has been dumped on humanity by research and scholarship and investigative reporting.

They think that the whole country is sick of it, and they want standards, and it isn't the gold standard. They want to put us back on the snake-oil standard.

Loaded pistols are good for people unless they're in prisons or lunatic asylums.

That's correct.

Millions spent on public health are inflationary.

That's correct.

Billions spent on weapons will bring inflation down.

That's correct.

Industrial wastes, and especially those that are radioactive, hardly ever hurt anybody, so everybody should shut up about them.

That's correct.

Industries should be allowed to do whatever they want to do: Bribe, wreck the environment just a little, fix prices, screw dumb customers, put a stop to competition and raid the Treasury in case they go broke.

That's correct. That's free enterprise. And that's correct.

The poor have done something very wrong or they wouldn't be poor, so their children should pay the consequences.

That's correct.

The United States of America cannot be expected to look after its people.

That's correct.

The free market will do that.

That's correct.

The free market is an automatic system of justice.

That's correct.

And so on.

If you actually are an educated, thinking person, you will not be welcome in Washington, D.C. I know a couple of bright seventh graders who would not be welcomed in Washington, D.C.

Do you remember those doctors a few years back who got together and announced that it was a simple, clear medical fact that we could not survive even a moderate attack by hydrogen bombs? They were not welcome in Washington, D.C.

The rest here.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

day that I have loved

Tenderly, day that I have loved, I close your eyes,
And smooth your quiet brow, and fold your thin dead hands.
The grey veils of the half-light deepen; colour dies.
I bear you, a light burden, to the shrouded sands,

Where lies your waiting boat, by wreaths of the sea's making
Mist-garlanded, with all grey weeds of the water crowned.
There you'll be laid, past fear of sleep or hope of waking;
And over the unmoving sea, without a sound,

Faint hands will row you outward, out beyond our sight,
Us with stretched arms and empty eyes on the far-gleaming
And marble sand....
Beyond the shifting cold twilight,
Further than laughter goes, or tears, further than dreaming,
There'll be no port, no dawn-lit islands! But the drear
Waste darkening, and, at length, flame ultimate on the deep.
Oh, the last fire -- and you, unkissed, unfriended there!
Oh, the lone way's red ending, and we not there to weep!

(We found you pale and quiet, and strangely crowned with flowers,
Lovely and secret as a child. You came with us,
Came happily, hand in hand with the young dancing hours,
High on the downs at dawn!) Void now and tenebrous,

The grey sands curve before me....
From the inland meadows,
Fragrant of June and clover, floats the dark, and fills
The hollow sea's dead face with little creeping shadows,
And the white silence brims the hollow of the hills.

Close in the nest is folded every weary wing,
Hushed all the joyful voices; and we, who held you dear,
Eastward we turn and homeward, alone, remembering...
Day that I loved, day that I loved, the Night is here!

Rupert Brooke

Hearts ease, Hearts ease O, an you will have me live,
play Hearts ease.

from "Romeo and Juliet"
Act 4, Scene 5

I'm the little "Heart's Ease"!

I'm the little "Heart's Ease"!
I don't care for pouting skies!
If the Butterfly delay
Can I, therefore, stay away?

If the Coward Bumble Bee
In his chimney corner stay,
I, must resoluter be!
Who'll apologize for me?

Dear, Old fashioned, little flower!
Eden is old fashioned, too!
Birds are antiquated fellows!
Heaven does not change her blue.
Nor will I, the little Heart's Ease --
Ever be induced to do!

~~ Emily Dickinson

Saturday, December 17, 2005

If this isn't an FBI page to catch child molesters, hope this kid has a guardian angel.


Reflections in the Evening Land

Huey Long, known as "the Kingfish," dominated the state of Louisiana from 1928 until his assassination in 1935, at the age of 42. Simultaneously governor and a United States senator, the canny Kingfish uttered a prophecy that haunts me in this late summer of 2005, 70 years after his violent end: "Of course we will have fascism in America but we will call it democracy!"

I reflected on Huey Long (always mediated for me by his portrait as Willie Stark in Robert Penn Warren's novel, All the King's Men) recently, when I listened to President George W Bush addressing the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was thus benefited by Rupert Murdoch's Fox TV channel, which is the voice of Bushian crusading democracy, very much of the Kingfish's variety. Even as Bush extolled his Iraq adventure, his regime daily fuses more tightly together elements of oligarchy, plutocracy, and theocracy.

At the age of 75, I wonder if the Democratic party ever again will hold the presidency or control the Congress in my lifetime. I am not sanguine, because our rulers have demonstrated their prowess in Florida (twice) and in Ohio at shaping voting procedures, and they control the Supreme Court. The economist-journalist Paul Krugman recently observed that the Republicans dare not allow themselves to lose either Congress or the White House, because subsequent investigations could disclose dark matters indeed. Krugman did not specify, but among the profiteers of our Iraq crusade are big oil (House of Bush/House of Saud), Halliburton (the vice-president), Bechtel (a nest of mighty Republicans) and so forth.

All of this is extraordinarily blatant, yet the American people seem benumbed, unable to read, think, or remember, and thus fit subjects for a president who shares their limitations. A grumpy old Democrat, I observe to my friends that our emperor is himself the best argument for intelligent design, the current theocratic substitute for what used to be called creationism. Sigmund Freud might be chagrined to discover that he is forgotten, while the satan of America is now Charles Darwin. President Bush, who says that Jesus is his "favourite philosopher", recently decreed in regard to intelligent design and evolution: "Both sides ought to be properly taught." . . . . .

~~ Harold Bloom

Oops! Some how this one got by me. . . .

On St. Lucia Day they wear candle hats. They get dressed up. They wear red ribbons. She has seven candles on her hat. They eat gingerbread biscuits. Two of the girls hold candles. The snow could be over six feet. St. Lucia Day is December thirteenth. In Sweden they celebrate St. Lucia Day. St. Lucia was burned to death because of her Christian faith. Swedish people and Finish people celebrate St. Lucia Day.

Sudden Light

I have been here before,
But when or how I cannot tell:
I know the grass beyond the door,
The sweet, keen smell,
The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.
You have been mine before,—
How long ago I may not know:
But just when at the swallow’s soar
Your neck turned so,
Some veil did fall—I knew it all of yore.
Then, now,—perchance again!…
O round mine eyes your tresses shake!
Shall we not lie as we have lain
Thus for Love’s sake,
And sleep, and wake, yet never break the chain?

~~ Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Friday, December 16, 2005

Thanks, Renee