Friday, September 19, 2008

Palin, The danger of mediocrity

Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence.
-Albert Einstein


Recently, CERN located on the Swiss-French border turned on the Large Hadron Collider which I think will succeed in finding the Big Bang theory to be true. No, the team of Physicists won’t see the face of God in the discovery of black hole particles. I believe however, that they may find Barry Goldwater spinning in his grave paralyzed not in death, but what has become of the Republican Party. While the revered late Senator Goldwater refused to pander to the Evangelical Christian right, his modern counter part has chosen to welcome them into bed incestuously, adulterously, like Noah two and more at a time.

For practical purposes they have effectively taken control of the Republican Party. Clearly it is impossible to distinguish the leaders of this movement from the Iranian Ayatollahs with their stream of absurd Fatwahs. Formerly rooted in the Deep South and rural areas of the Midwest , the Evangelical Christian right has increasingly inserted their religious belief into the mainstream obscuring the line with all things secular.

The founding fathers of this country understood the value in separating church and state and resolved to protect the citizens of the new nation by creating that space. Thankfully we still have at least some semblance of that principle of separation left to us. However, we regularly hear it being falsely denounced in churches like the one Sarah Palin attends and in TV and media outlets such as Fox News.

Evangelical Christians consistently argue that the separation of church and state is merely legal cloud cover, calling it a fiction and make the lie that our country was founded as a Christian nation. Utter nonsense and not true. The Bill of Rights drew upon a source document authored by Thomas Jefferson and called the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. However, one of its more important principles is the secularist insistence that there be no religious test for public office.

Right Wing Evangelical Christians lie when they allege a media conspiracy out to get them, and they have become so good at it that they make Joseph Goebbels look like a boy scout being helpful to old ladies. No wonder the rest of the world fears a Protestant Evangelical America looking like Afghanistan , Iran , and Pakistan sporting nu-klee-ar weapons. I am terrified to see a major American political party defend one group of religious fanatics while welcoming them into the fold.

I understand and embrace the basic, humanistic, secular and conservative principles of Republican politics, but believe its extreme right wing to be abhorrent and dangerous. The need of that party to align with Evangelical Christians has created in the few a super majority which I reject. The opinions individuals form are not universally important especially those that are mediocre, and almost always wrong. In America no opinion should be protected at the expense of those of others.

Once again the Evangelical Christians are stirring hot the divisive kettle of culture war as if there were no other issues to consider. Had I the opportunity to change one word in the Constitution it would be to replace “freedom of religion” with that of “freedom from religion. That right would then include the freedom to practice religion with freedom from the practice of other religions. Not here though where those brazen emboldened crusaders are haughtily in everyone’s face claiming to have personally spoken with the Lord. Or am I wrong in this thinking, could God actually be dictating them a failed foreign policy, a disastrous national economic agenda, and speaking negligently on scientific matters like global warming. If so what a weak powerless mope he has been revealed to be.

Beneath the surface many Americans likely draw from the same patriotic genetic code, but while being held captive in a two party system that exists to keep us apart we are powerless. To me losing an election, losing money and yes paying taxes, none of which I enjoy are individually and collectively far more acceptable then losing the principles I hold dear. There are no estate taxes on those who die in 2010. If you stubbornly choose to live beyond that date your kids will need to learn how to make their own living.

In 2000 I think the Bush machine ran over John McCain. He was to the Republican Party persona non grata. Too bad, as a candidate he would not have needed the voting corruption in Florida to win, and I can’t help but believe we would all continue to respect the Supreme Court. John McCain and Sarah Palin denigrate the legal system when they allude to how their Supreme Court and judicial appointees will decide cases. They say it as if there were a different commandment to follow, not forged in black letter law. There are no code words, no legal jargon or words of art needed here, Americans, especially New Yorkers know when the fix is in.

This time around John McCain caved in to the right wing and spent less time vetting Sarah Palin then her daughter did vetting her boyfriend. Poor kid, he wanted to play hockey and get laid and now his chestnuts are being roasted on the national stage. At least that’s what I thought until I saw him at the convention waving to the crowd “yeah, it’s me”. Just another young beer drinking moose shooting high sticking puck, self-absorbed and oblivious; another right to lifer unable to just say no and abstain now a heartbeat away from another beating heart. Did I forget what it must be like to be 17, or did I do two turns at 16 and skip to 18?

No, John MCain and Sarah Palin we cannot all agree. I don’t want to be part of your country. Thanks to Sarah’s presence on the ticket I have a terrible uneasiness about this election, and a darker feeling about the future. It was wrong of me to have allowed myself to think we might have gotten past the culture wars. I made a mistake. It’s 2008 and thanks be it to you we are still fighting a fucking culture war. To borrow Pacino’s line from Godfather III, “just when I thought I was out they pull me back in”.
-Doc Graham


"We are all Socialists now", we have the Bush administration to thank for it, with a one trillion dollar bailout of the financial institutions, government control Freddy Mac, Fanny Mae, AIG etc, but is it enough, will it work and where is the money coming from? See the attached video for a parody of the financial crisis.
Foreclosures are projected to hit 2.5 million more homes this year. This problem can be partly laid at the feet of the republicans and deregulation that they have championed during the Bush administration. The Democrats are not innocent here either, under Clinton money was made easy to borrow and as a result of low interest rates and easy money, borrowing hit new levels. With cheap money mortgages were easier to get and given to riskier borrowers. While both candidates for president have ideas that they feel will help solve the problems facing America, Obama's ideas have a clearer and fiscally sound approach. Up until Monday September 15th McCain said the economy is sound. On Tuesday September 16th he said let AIG fail and on Wednesday he said we need to bail out AIG. It is clear that McCain has not got a clear grasp on the economic crisis facing the country. The American working class have a reason to worry if McCain becomes president. McCain's policies will help the rich but do little for middle class working Americans.
McCain's selection of Sara Palin for vice President is an insult to the intelligence of the American people. She has no foreign policy credentials and is ignorant of the critical issues facing America and the American people. McCain has not served the American people well by selecting Sara Palin. The fact that she could step into the shoes of the president is frightening. She lacks the intellectual depth and breadth of understanding of the critical issues in the international arena and ability to be president. Having a person like Palin a heart beat away from the presidency points to McCain's lack of sound judgment and points to his desperation to become president. Do we want to risk being governed by an intellectual lightweight and and a person ignorant of the pressing issues facing the United States and the free world?
The good news about the economy is that America has continued to grow and this will, like the great depression be seen as an economic hiccup, in the history of the American economic growth. America is a robust and powerful economic engine and will recover but some lessons need to be learned. Deregulation was taken too far and at the expense of the American investor. The bail out was necessary but there has to be responsible leadership and oversight.
Meanwhile the war in Iraq and Afghanistan continues and continues to bleed our economy. It is time to end these conflicts and do it with a will. It is time to commit to either winning or getting out. It can be done. Declare Iraq won, give the Iraq army the weapons and support they need and leave. In Afghanistan wipe out the poppy fields and dry up Al Queada's money with some 21st century herbicides. The Afghanistan farmers has been asked to grow a different crop and refuse to change so it is time to destroy the poppy fields. Then aggressively prosecute the hunt for Osama Bin Laden and destroy the Taliban with all the power and might America has at it's disposal.
-J. Mullin


Ben Smith in Politico reports on Hillary Clinton's response to Bush's bailout.
"When the American people, facing a foreclosure crisis and struggling economy, turned to this administration for help, the answer was no. Now, the administration is turning to the American people for help, to rescue the credit markets and take on hundreds of billions in debt and financial obligations as a consequence of that same foreclosure crisis. The truth is, Main Street came to Washington and got little. Now Washington is coming to Main Street and asking for a lot. The American people deserve to know that this isn't a blank check. While the need to address the current crisis is clear, I will only support steps that will prevent a widening crisis, tackle the worst kinds of abuse tolerated for too long by the Bush administration, and address the root problems at work." More

Our Democracy in Crisis
Welcome to the final stages of the coup...By Larisa Alexandrovna at the Huffington Post
If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it.
~ Julius Caesar
In 2000, the long fought for and long admired democracy of the United States of America began a slow and steady decline toward fascism - a Bush family tradition - with the installment of a president - a man the citizens overwhelmingly rejected (although the funny math told a still believed myth) - by a few corrupt judges on the US Supreme Court. That coup is now nearly complete and checkmate is all but unavoidable.
Let me first point you to the Bush administration's so-called Wall Street bailout bill, here, so that you can see for yourself that this treachery is being conducted in the light of day. Fascism is finally and formally out of the right-wing closet even if the F word is not yet openly being used (although it should be, and often).
Now, if you do not yet understand that the Wall Street crisis is a man-made disaster done through intentional deregulation and corruption, I have a bridge in Alaska to sell to you (or Sara Palin does anyway). This manufactured crisis is now to be remedied, if the fiscal fascists get their way, with the total transfer of Congressional powers (the few that still remain) to the Executive Branch and the total transfer of public funds into corporate (via government as intermediary) hands.Adam Davidson of NPR blogs about the so-called bailout bill as follows:
I would guess that this has to be one of the biggest peacetime transfers of power from Congress to the Administration in history. (Anyone know?). Certainly one of the most concise.
The Treasury Secretary can buy broadly defined assets, on any terms he wants, he can hire anyone he wants to do it and can appoint private sector companies as financial deputies of the US government. And he can write whatever regulation he thinks are needed.
Most importantly, Davidson points to this passage in the bill:
Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.
The Bush family, in the form of Prescott Bush, has tried a more aggressive coup before in order to install fascism in this country. This treasonous plot was called "the Business Plot," because the high-level plotters - including Prescott Bush - were Wall Street men who openly supported fascism.
It seems this time around, the Bush family is trying the more subtle approach to open bloodshed: first create a crisis, then under the guise of addressing that crisis, overthrow democracy. Yes, it does sound terribly conspiracy-theory-esque when explained just this way. But what else does one call a criminal conspiracy to destroy Congressional powers permanently, alter Judicial powers permanently, and steal public funds?

Economics 101 Understanding the economic crisis.


The greater a man is in power above others, the more he ought to excel them in virtue. None ought to govern who is not better than the governed.
-Publius Syrus (Latin writer 1st century B.C.)

"McCain and Palin Are Trying to Take Political Lying to the Next Dimension
Despite all the chatter about how "historic" Campaign 2008 has been, it is the McCain-Palin ticket that it is truly testing the limits, not of race or gender politics, but whether the United States is ready to enter into a new dimension of political lying.
Until two weeks ago, it would have been hard to believe that any political figure would have had the audacity to step into the national spotlight by telling the bald-faced lies that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has. Yet, many Americans have embraced her enthusiastically and don't want to hear anything negative about her.
Palin's most obvious lie is one that she has repeated over and over: "I told Congress, 'thanks but no thanks' about that Bridge to Nowhere." Now, however, anyone who has bothered to fact-check this claim knows that Palin supported the bridge until Congress removed the earmark and then she kept the money to use on other state projects.
Palin also presents herself as a "reformer" who can't stand earmarks or the lobbyists who arrange such wasteful pork-barrel spending -- except that she hired Alaska's top Washington lobbyists to secure millions of dollars in earmarks for her town, Wasilla, and for her state, including sending off a wish list of nearly $200 million just this year"...
-Robert Parry, Consortium News.
"Sarah was unprepared to be mayor -- it was John Cramer who actually ran the city,"
"Sarah Palin has been touting herself as fiscal watchdog throughout her political career. But Palin's tenure as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, was characterized by waste, cronyism and incompetence, according to government officials in the Matanuska Valley, where she began her fairy-tale political rise."
"Executive abilities? She doesn't have any," said former Wasilla City Council member Nick Carney, who selected and groomed Palin for her first political race in 1992 and served with her after her election to the City Council" -Salon
Sarah Palin's Holy War on Nature in Mother Jones
Commentary: Sarah Palin's bias towards Creationism is a window into her political soul and a measure of John McCain's hypocrisy.

John McCain and Rowe v Wade. Take away the right of women to control their own bodies and cave in to the religious right.

John McCain on the view and his opinion on Rowe VS Wade


A chart of the McCain and Obama tax programs. Who benefits the most and who will pay the most. Check how much you make and see how you fare. If you vote your wallet you will be surprised.


See the video of Christopher Hitchens water boarded.
Bush says that "America doesn't torture" but water boarding is sanctioned by the Bush Administration against prisoners at Guantanamo, Cuba.
Is it torture? Watch Christopher Hitchens experience the horror of water boarding and ask yourself if that is torture.


Recommended book 1;
The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008
Bob Woodward
"What is particularly interesting about this latest Bob Woodward inside look at the Iraq war is the picture it paints of growing dissension in the military over the war. The "surge" was an idea created by a neo-conservative think tank, the American Enterprise Institute, and imposed on the military.
Indeed, what is truly amazing and in many ways disturbing is the huge influence of AEI over military policy and its efforts to influence military decisions, especially through its contacts in the Vice President's office.
A long term view of what Bush wants can be seen from a statement on page 410 by General Keane, one of the architects of the surge about the Middle East: "We're going to be here for 50 years minimum" "Where should we have bases? .... Where should we have forward industrial bases." This is a vision for a massive permanent American presence in the Persian Gulf.
"NATO was important, Keane said, but its time had passed. The international center of gravity had moved to the Middle East".
Building up a massive permanent American military presence near the giant oil reserves and oil wealth of the Persian Gulf is at the core of the Bush geopolitical vision for Iraq. As for the notion that we are only in Iraq to help, we saw the spectacle this summer of the Iraqi President publicly fighting with Bush administration over a timetable for a final American withdrawal.
At the end of the book, one top U.S. official is furious that Iraqi President Maliki "is no longer willing to take direction".
Unfortunately, Bush has been unwilling to raise the cash to pay for all this. Bush remains the only President in U.S. history who combined war with a program of tax cuts at home. The end result has been a dangerous over-extension of power.
This book should be read with Joe Stiglitz's The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict Stiglitz is the former chief economist of the World Bank so there is reason to take his views seriously.
It should also be read in conjunction with Web of Deceit: The History of Western Complicity in Iraq, from Churchill to Kennedy to George W. Bush, an excellent book on the history of western involvement in Iraq and Churchill's Folly: How Winston Churchill Created Modern Iraq. How many people know that Churchill, the great hero of the modern neo-conservative movement wanted to use poison gas against Iraqi civilians?
To see the internal Bush administration machinations in this book in still another perspective, I would recommend Descent into Chaos: The United States and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia written by one of Pakistan's most respected journalists.
For my tastes the book has too much of the minutia of policy making. However, when read with the other books here, you can get an overall perspective of the disconnect between the world of high level Washington and the real world.
Overall, this is a good inside look at the Bush administration and the Iraq war in the last two years.
Bob Woodward and his books are a fixture of modern Washington. Some people are tired of him but he has unique access to leaders that few other journalists have. I would recommend getting this book. "
-By Future Watch Writer

Recommended Book 2;
Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution--and How It Can Renew America by Thomas L. Friedman "a phenomenal number-one bestseller The World Is Flat has helped millions of readers to see the world in a new way. In his brilliant, essential new book, Friedman takes a fresh and provocative look at two of the biggest challenges we face today: America’s surprising loss of focus and national purpose since 9/11; and the global environmental crisis, which is affecting everything from food to fuel to forests. In this groundbreaking account of where we stand now, he shows us how the solutions to these two big problems are linked--how we can restore the world and revive America at the same time.
Friedman explains how global warming, rapidly growing populations, and the astonishing expansion of the world’s middle class through globalization have produced a planet that is “hot, flat, and crowded.” Already the earth is being affected in ways that threaten to make it dangerously unstable. In just a few years, it will be too late to fix things--unless the United States steps up now and takes the lead in a worldwide effort to replace our wasteful, inefficient energy practices with a strategy for clean energy, energy efficiency, and conservation that Friedman calls Code Green." Amazon Editorial Review


1988-2008: Climate Then and Now

Discover Magazine cover story on climate, October 1988Discover Magazine ran my first long story on climate in October 1988. Global warming has felt like breaking news a few times in recent years. But the first big pulse of coverage and public attention came in 1988, when the Amazon rain forest and Yellowstone were ablaze, a searing drought had farmers kicking dusty fields in frustration, and global temperatures had seen enough of a rise that a NASA climate expert, James Hansen, asserted before a Senate panel that statistics showed “the greenhouse effect has been detected and is changing our climate now.”... more



  • Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Eichmann A. Strickland, 23, of Arlington, Wash.; assigned to Combat Service Support Det. 36, Iwakuni, Japan; a member of a U.S. Marine embedded Training Team deployed to Afghan Regional Security Integration Command Central; died Sept. 9 from injuries sustained when the vehicle he was driving hit an improvised explosive device in Afghanya Valley, Afghanistan.

  • Marine 1st Lt. Nicholas A. Madrazo, 25, of Bothell, Wash.; assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 37, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan; died Sept. 9 in Parwan Province, Afghanistan, while supporting combat operations. Also killed was Capt. Jesse Melton III.

  • Marine Capt. Jesse Melton III, 29, of Randallstown, Md.; assigned to Headquarters Battery, 12th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan; died Sept. 9 in Parwan Province, Afghanistan, while supporting combat operations. Also killed was 1st Lt. Nicholas A. Madrazo.

    September 11, 2008
  • Army Pvt. Michael W. Murdock, 22, of Chocowinity, N.C.; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died Sept. 11 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained at Combat Outpost Lybert, Afghanistan, when he was struck by enemy fire.

    September 12, 2008
  • Navy Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator John Wayne Marcum, 34, of Flushing, Mich.; assigned to Naval Special Warfare Development Group, Dam Neck, Va.; died Sept. 12 from injuries sustained Sept. 11 while conducting combat operations in Afghanistan. Also killed was Navy Chief Special Warfare Operator (Select) Jason Richard Freiwald.

  • Navy Chief Special Warfare Operator (Select) Jason Richard Freiwald, 30, of Armada, Mich.; assigned to Naval Special Warfare Development Group, Dam Neck, Va.; died Sept. 12 from injuries sustained Sept. 11 while conducting combat operations in Afghanistan. Also killed was Navy Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator John Wayne Marcum.

    September 14, 2008
  • Army Sgt. Wesley R. Durbin, 26, of Hurst, Texas; assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.; died Sept. 14 in Tunnis, Iraq, of wounds sustained in a non-hostile incident. Also killed was Staff Sgt. Darris J. Dawson.

  • Army Staff Sgt. Darris J. Dawson, 24, of Pensacola, Fla.; assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.; died Sept. 14 in Tunnis, Iraq, of wounds sustained in a non-hostile incident. Also killed was Sgt. Wesley R. Durbin.