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Liberal Outrage

We love our mafia

(Thanks Josh)

By fnord12 | March 30, 2006, 7:53 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link


When politicians' actions stop making sense, conspiracy theories flourish. It's a way to avoid having to face up to the fact that our political system is so hopelessly broken that we would elect grossly incompetent people into office. The theory that George Bush invaded Iraq to fulfill a biblical prophesy isn't new (in fact, i heard the same thing during the first Gulf War as well), but it's been picking up steam lately. It's discussed in part in this article by Kevin Phillips about his new book American Theocracy:

The excesses of the Religious Right in the Bush years represent a particular danger.. Some 45% of U.S. Christians believe in the End Times and Armageddon, and Tim LaHaye's lurid Left Behind series helped mobilize them and shape Washington awareness of their importance. Centrist religious leaders believe it's a gross distortion of the Bible, but there’s no doubt that a large percentage of the Bush electorate believes that war and chaos in the holy lands (including Iraq) heralds the Second Coming.

More here from the NYT's review of American Theocracy:

Phillips is especially passionate in his discussion of the second great force that he sees shaping contemporary American life - radical Christianity and its growing intrusion into government and politics. The political rise of evangelical Christian groups is hardly a secret to most Americans after the 2004 election, but Phillips brings together an enormous range of information from scholars and journalists and presents a remarkably comprehensive and chilling picture of the goals and achievements of the religious right.

He points in particular to the Southern Baptist Convention, once a scorned seceding minority of the American Baptist Church but now so large that it dominates not just Baptism itself but American Protestantism generally. The Southern Baptist Convention does not speak with one voice, but almost all of its voices, Phillips argues, are to one degree or another highly conservative. On the far right is a still obscure but, Phillips says, rapidly growing group of "Christian Reconstructionists" who believe in a "Taliban-like" reversal of women's rights, who describe the separation of church and state as a "myth" and who call openly for a theocratic government shaped by Christian doctrine. A much larger group of Protestants, perhaps as many as a third of the population, claims to believe in the supposed biblical prophecies of an imminent "rapture" - the return of Jesus to the world and the elevation of believers to heaven.

Prophetic Christians, Phillips writes, often shape their view of politics and the world around signs that charlatan biblical scholars have identified as predictors of the apocalypse — among them a war in Iraq, the Jewish settlement of the whole of biblical Israel, even the rise of terrorism. He convincingly demonstrates that the Bush administration has calculatedly reached out to such believers and encouraged them to see the president's policies as a response to premillennialist thought. He also suggests that the president and other members of his administration may actually believe these things themselves, that religious belief is the basis of policy, not just a tactic for selling it to the public. Phillips's evidence for this disturbing claim is significant, but not conclusive. (My emphasis)

It's easy to actually start believing that Bush believes this. There's plenty of crazy religious fanatics out there that do believe it, and Bush seems to be very religious himself. He also has made enough comments indicating that he talks to God and that God wanted him to invade Iraq. Furthermore, every rationale given for the invasion has turned out to be forced, so either the people in power are incredibly stupid or they are wacky enough to believe in this sort of thing. I lean towards stupid (and corrupt, and blinded by ideology), but maybe it's a case of Bush himself believing some of this, and his handlers going along with it for their own reasons. In any event, i see more people out there turning to the idea that this is a religous crusade.

Here's Christopher Priest, comic book writer:

The popular notion floating out there is that Bush somehow sees himself as being an agent of the APocalypse and that Iraq (Babylon) is some kind of holy war.

I have severe doubts Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld would be comfortable with the notion of President Bush ushering in the Apocalypse, but religious fringe groups are already speculating about Daniel's biblical prophecy (Daniel 8: 3-8), noting that ancient Babylon is modern day Iraq and claiming that the ram signifies fundamentalist Islam and Osama bin Laden and his chief lieutenant Dr Ayman all-Zawahiri represent the horns of the ram described in Daniel's dream, one horn being taller and younger than the other. Bush's 2001 call for a global organization against terrorism happen to spell the acronym "GOAT." This is, indeed, fringe thinking, but what if this business somehow plays into the president's motives? That the United States must act as the arm of God and sword of righteousness? Could this all be some Christian version of an Islamic jihad or holy war?

By fnord12 | March 24, 2006, 4:20 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

We lurk among you

Found on Digby (and his link to the original article doesn't work):

From a telephone sampling of more than 2,000 households, university researchers found that Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in "sharing their vision of American society." Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry.

Even though atheists are few in number, not formally organized and relatively hard to publicly identify, they are seen as a threat to the American way of life by a large portion of the American public. "Atheists, who account for about 3 percent of the U.S. population, offer a glaring exception to the rule of increasing social tolerance over the last 30 years," says Penny Edgell, associate sociology professor and the study's lead researcher.

Edgell also argues that today's atheists play the role that Catholics, Jews and communists have played in the past-they offer a symbolic moral boundary to membership in American society. "It seems most Americans believe that diversity is fine, as long as every one shares a common 'core' of values that make them trustworthy-and in America, that 'core' has historically been religious," says Edgell. Many of the study's respondents associated atheism with an array of moral indiscretions ranging from criminal behavior to rampant materialism and cultural elitism.

By fnord12 | March 24, 2006, 9:05 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Start Again! And be more responsible!

From Firedoglake. Colin McEnroe is a local talk show host.

McEnroe: You probably know that I wrote in the Currant last Sunday that if I had to vote in the primary right now I would, with some sorrow vote for Ned Lamont simply because you have kind of drifted so far towards the Bush Administration whose policies I do't approve of very much. Tell me why I'm wrong, tell me why I should vote for you.

Lieberman: Well I-I think that your statement just then was as ridiculous and unfair as your column was. I was really upset by it. I don't get to hear you a lot because I'm in Washington but if you're saying that on the air really I hope your listeners are taking it with a grain of salt.

First off let me go to something that really bothered me. You have this line saying that I’ve come to a point where I’m saying that those who do not parrot my support of the war are unpatriotic and then you take TOTALLY out of context something that I said in a speech that I gave last December when I came back from Iraq and I urge you to go back and look at that whole speech.

McEnroe: Okay, tell me why-

Lieberman: Let me just finish this!

McEnroe then went on to try and read the quote in question and force Lieberman to respond but Lieberman kept cutting him off, he wouldn't have it:

McEnroe: Let me read the line to you and then you tell me how to interpret it.

Lieberman: I know what the line is! I said it!

McEnroe: Okay but the listeners don't.

The line actually reads:

"It's time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be the commander in chief for three more critical years and that in matters of war we undermine the president's credibility at our nation's peril."

Lieberman: This quote is totally out of context. You might have gotten it from the bloggers, who love to do this.

McEnroe: No actually I got it-

Lieberman: Read the whole speech, it's below your standards.

McEnroe: Senator actually I got it from the New York Times.

Lieberman: Well that's just as bad! Go back and read the speech, be more responsible.

By fnord12 | March 23, 2006, 2:50 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

2nd Warning

"Richard Rainwater doesn't want to sound like a kook," began a profile of the super investor in Fortune magazine (the italics below are mine). "But he's about as worried as a happily married guy with more than $2 billion and a home in Pebble Beach can get. Americans are 'in the kind of trouble people shouldn't find themselves in,' he says. He's just wary about being the one to sound the alarm.

"Rainwater is something of a behind-the-scenes type--at least as far as alpha-male billionaires go. He counts President Bush as a personal friend but dislikes politics, and frankly, when he gets worked up, he says some pretty far-out things that could easily be taken out of context. Such as: An economic tsunami is about to hit the global economy as the world runs out of oil. Or a coalition of communist and Islamic states may decide to stop selling their precious crude to Americans any day now. Or food shortages may soon hit the U.S. Or he read on a blog last night that there's this one gargantuan chunk of ice sitting on a precipice in Antarctica that, if it falls off, will raise sea levels worldwide by two feet--and it's getting closer to the edge.... And then he'll interrupt himself: 'Look, I'm not predicting anything,' he'll say. 'That's when you get a little kooky-sounding.'

"Rainwater is no crackpot. But you don't get to be a multibillionaire investor--one who's more than doubled his net worth in a decade--through incremental gains on little stock trades. You have to push way past conventional thinking, test the boundaries of chaos, see events in a bigger context. You have to look at all the scenarios, from 'A to friggin' Z, as he says, and not be afraid to focus on Z. Only when you've vacuumed up as much information as possible and you know the world is at a major inflection point do you put a hell of a lot of money behind your conviction.

"Such insights have allowed Rainwater to turn moments of cataclysm into gigantic paydays before. In the mid-1990s he saw panic selling in Houston real estate and bought some 15 million square feet; now the properties are selling for three times his purchase price. In the late '90s, when oil seemed plentiful and its price had fallen to the low teens, he bet hundreds of millions--by investing in oil stocks and futures--that it would rise. A billion dollars later, that move is still paying off. 'Most people invest and then sit around worrying what the next blowup will be," he says. "I do the opposite. I wait for the blowup, then invest.'

"The next blowup, however, looms so large that it scares and confuses him. For the past few months he's been holed up in hard-core research mode--reading books, academic studies, and, yes, blogs. Every morning he rises before dawn at one of his houses in Texas or South Carolina or California (he actually owns a piece of Pebble Beach Resorts) and spends four or five hours reading sites like LifeAftertheOilCrash.net or DieOff.org, obsessively following links and sifting through data. How worried is he? He has some $500 million of his $2.5 billion fortune in cash, more than ever before. 'I'm long oil and I'm liquid,' he says. 'I've put myself in a position that if the end of the world came tomorrow I'd kind of be prepared.'

We aren't all billionaires so we can't ever be as prepared as this guy. But we can get ourselves a nice farming community with Earthships. Go watch End of Suburbia!

By fnord12 | March 23, 2006, 2:31 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Pentagon investigates itself, finds no evidence of wrongdoing

In the Lincoln Group propaganda case.

By fnord12 | March 23, 2006, 12:51 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

New New Gore

Ezra Klein writes a lengthy article in the American Prospect about Gore and his campaign against the state of the media today.

The most important speech of Al Gore's post-non-presidency was neither well-covered nor particularly dramatic. He delivered it against a plain blue curtain, and when he finished, the applause rippled but never roared. None in attendance, however, would have dared call it boring.
They must have been wondering what changed. Over the next 48 minutes, Gore laced into the state of the media, lamenting the "systematic decay of the public forum," and echoing Walter Lippmann's belief that the propaganda emanating from the press corps was rendering America's "dogma of democracy" void. Journalism, Gore said, had grown "dysfunctional," and now "fails to inform the people."

One of Gore's tactics in this campaign is to bypass the media entirely. He has his speeches sponsored by Move-On. They email his entire speech to the millions of Move-On members who pass it on to whomever they choose - friends, neighbors, family - and blogs promote it. They call it "viral marketing". The advantage is the ability to avoid that media filter that emphasizes things like what color shoes Gore's wearing as opposed to the more important content of the speech.

Something else he's done is Current TV, an independent tv station that broadcasts content made by viewers.

If the problem with television is that the audience can't talk back to the flickering box, then the answer, clearly, is to have them talk through it. Thus, Current devotes a large chunk of its programming hours to viewer-contributed content. The Web site offers instructions on how to create videos ("pods"), which amateur auteurs then upload to www.Current.tv. The Current community then watches and rates the pods online, elevating the better ones, eventually, into rotation on the channel. The content is surprisingly strong -- including everything from clever, animated political shorts to reports from the Katrina-devastated Gulf and even a poignant, artfully done pod following a birth -- but the response has been tepid. No matter. If the revolution is indeed to be televised,it'll be because Current helps do for television what blogs have done to punditry: democratize it, decredentialize it, open it to the masses.

Those of us who don't get Current TV from our cable/satellite masters will have to watch the programs online, if at all.

In May, Gore's film "An Inconvenient Truth" comes out. It's about global warming. It received a standing ovation at the Sundance Festival. After his dismal public appearances in the 2000 election, you wouldn't expect that sort of a response to a film with Gore talking about science.

I like the new new Gore. Free from his handlers and advisors, he's a much more engaging speaker. How long will it take the rest of the Democrats to realize their political advisors can't advise on anything except how to dig the hole deeper? I'm banking on never. The advisors would never put out a poll asking what people thought of their advice and as we've seen of late, Democrats can't make a decision without poll numbers.

By min | March 22, 2006, 12:41 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

The further wisdom of Paul O'Brien

He's talking about the comic book industry, of course, but it applies anywhere:

As everyone knows, monopolies are bad news all round. With no competition, the monopolist no longer has an incentive to keep prices low, to maintain quality of service, or to offer a decent range of products. They can just sit there and do what they feel like. Of course, this is the basic problem with unregulated competition: if you're not careful, somebody could actually win.

By fnord12 | March 21, 2006, 5:00 PM | Comics & Liberal Outrage | Link

The Bubble Squad

More examples of republican operatives impersonating the Secret Service to keep Bush away from opinions or questions he can't handle - like the old people.

Mrs. Snyder said no one at the meeting was given an opportunity to speak to the president and many, including herself, were prevented by security at the event from talking to the press after the president's town meeting.

Mrs. Snyder said after the meeting a group of television reporters at the back of the room asked her a question. When she tried to reply, she says she was herded out of the room.

"We were answering questions and this big guy in a suit came along and said, 'move along,'" she said. "I said, 'Why can't we answer questions?' And he said, 'I have been given my orders.'"

Mrs. Snyder said she felt threatened by the security officer.

"He kept saying 'move along' and kept blocking my way and I kept saying, 'I'm a U.S. citizen I have a right to answer some questions,'" she said. "It felt like if you were out of order at all, someone was going to take you away. It was very threatening."

"I think America is going in a very scary direction. I felt like I was in a police state and that as a citizen I don't have many rights," she said.

Bush really needs these people. Without them, he winds up blurting out stuff like this.

By fnord12 | March 21, 2006, 3:09 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Who says Eliot Spitzer is too busy running for office to do anything useful?

From the AP:

A federal appeals court Friday blocked the Environmental Protection Agency from easing clean air rules on aging power plants, refineries and factories, one of the regulatory changes that had been among the top environmental priorities of the White House.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington declared that the EPA rules violate the Clean Air Act and that only Congress can authorize such changes.

Fourteen states and a number of cities, including New York, San Francisco and Washington, had sued to block the change in 2003, saying it would allow more air pollution.

"This is an enormous victory for clean air and for the enforcement of the law and an overwhelming rejection of the Bush administration's efforts to gut the law," said New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who led the lawsuit for the states. "It is a rejection of a flawed policy."

But it may have been a bad move, according to a spokesman for the energy companies (and who is more trustworthy?):

Friday's decision "is a step backward in the protection of air quality in the United States," said Scott Segal, director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, a Washington-based group representing several power-generating companies. "What is it the environmental community thinks they've won? They've won the ability to place roadblocks in front of energy efficiency projects. This is terrible news."

By fnord12 | March 21, 2006, 2:59 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link

Get productive, people!

Found on Billmon, who seems to have woken up:

"Confronting critics of the Bush administration's economic record, Treasury Secretary John Snow said the widening gap between high-paid and low-paid Americans reflects a labor market efficiently rewarding more productive people . . . Mr. Snow said the same phenominon explains why compensation for corporate chief executives has climbed so sharply."

By fnord12 | March 21, 2006, 2:56 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link


Bad Arguments 101

by digby

I just heard someone say "they've been calling it a quagmire for years!"

By fnord12 | March 21, 2006, 9:54 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

New Benzene-Flavored Cola!

How's your soda? Nice and cold? Full of cancer-causing benzene?

The British coverage:

Traces of a carcinogenic chemical have been found in soft drinks at eight times the level permitted in drinking water, it was revealed last night.

Tests conducted on 230 drinks on sale in Britain and France have identified high levels of benzene, a compound known to cause cancer, according to the Food Standards Agency. There is a legal limit of one part per billion of benzene in British drinking water. The latest tests revealed levels of up to eight parts per billion in some soft drinks.

Benzene has been linked to leukaemia and other cancers of the blood. Traces found in Perrier water 15 years ago led to the withdrawal of more than 160 million bottles worldwide. The disclosure has prompted food safety campaigners to demand that the Government reveal which products contain benzene. At present, the drinks' identities have not been revealed.

Versus the American coverage:

When small amounts of benzene, a known cancer-causing chemical, were found in some soft drinks 16 years ago, the Food and Drug Administration never told the public.

That's because the beverage industry told the government it would handle the problem and the FDA thought the problem was solved.

A decade and a half later, benzene has turned up again. The FDA has found levels in some soft drinks higher than what it found in 1990, and two to four times higher than what's considered safe for drinking water.

Both the FDA and the beverage industry said the amounts were small and that the problem didn't appear to be widespread.

"People shouldn't overreact," said Kevin Keane, a spokesman for the American Beverage Association. "It's a very small number of products and not major brands."

Yes, that's right. We covered it up because the soft drink companies asked us to. People shouldn't overreact. It's just benzene, afterall. I mean, here are the possible health effects:

Short-term: EPA has found benzene to potentially cause the following health effects when people are exposed to it at levels above the MCL for relatively short periods of time: temporary nervous system disorders, immune system depression, anemia.

Long-term: Benzene has the potential to cause the following effects from a lifetime exposure at levels above the MCL: chromosome aberrations, cancer.

Nothing to get too worked up about. Just a little cancer. Mebbe a little failure of the nervous system.

I think my favorite parts are when the FDA's "top food safety expert" says we breathe more benzene than we get from drinking a can of soda, and that it's "tough to compare" the levels of "acceptable" benzene in soda to the levels set for water because people drink more water. Hi. Who's reassured now? We breathe more benzene than there is in a can of soda so we can all go back inside and continue on with our lives. Let's not consider the side of the argument that says benzene is bad for us and we already have a problem because it's in the air so we certainly would be at greater risk ingesting it, as well as inhaling it. Also, I've seen people. They drink soda. Lots of it. If they're drinking water, it's only because they snorted it by accident in the shower or because you need water to make soda. Water and benzene, apparently.

We're off the soda again. That's a warning to any of you who plan on visiting us and expect liquid refreshment. It's warm beet juice for the lot of you.

By min | March 20, 2006, 3:03 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (3)| Link

Utilities Charge You For Taxes They Don't Pay

New York Times reported this last Wednesday. Here are the important bits:

Many electric utility companies across the nation are collecting billions of dollars from their customers for corporate income taxes, then keeping the money rather than sending it to the government.

The practice is legal in most states. The companies say it is smart business.

But some representatives of utility customers say that the practice, which involves using losses from other subsidiaries to reduce taxes owed, is not fair. They say that money that utilities are required to collect for federal and state taxes - typically a nickel on each dollar paid for electricity - should go for just that, or not be included in electric bills.

Otherwise, they argue, these legal monopolies make more than they are authorized to, and other taxpayers have to make up the difference in higher taxes or reduced services.


But in recent years many utilities have expanded into unregulated businesses, like energy trading and aircraft leasing, while others have been acquired by companies that own other businesses. When those other businesses lose money or create artificial losses through tax planning, those losses can be used to offset income earned by the utilities.

As a result, the parent companies owe less in taxes than their electric customers paid. Sometimes these companies owe nothing, or receive large tax refunds. By not remitting the taxes, the parent companies effectively have more money to invest in their operations or pay to shareholders in dividends.

The ability to intercept tax payments is not limited to electric utilities. Natural gas, water and telephone utilities can use the same techniques. The potential tax benefits are much smaller for gas and water utilities, however. And most telephone companies are no longer regulated as monopolies and their rates no longer include income taxes. (The taxes and fees that phone companies add to monthly bills are not corporate income taxes.)


Only a few states have mechanisms to prevent pocketing such money. West Virginia and Oregon require that taxes be paid to the government, although the Oregon law, enacted last year, is under attack by utilities there.

In Pennsylvania, the state Supreme Court ruled in 1985 that "fictitious" expenses, such as taxes government never receives, cannot be included in utility rates.

Needless to say, I'll be contacting PSE&G and our reps on Congress about this one. I can't wait to get the generic prepared reply from PSE&G.

By min | March 20, 2006, 10:49 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Lamont is officially in.

Here's the article announcing it.

Some key quotes:

"We're going to fight for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party," Lamont told more than 100 supporters at the Old State House. "With your passion, your enthusiasm, the grass roots, the Net roots - we're going to show people on a hot day in August that we can win. We can win not by being Republican Lite, but by being proud Democrats."
Lieberman's campaign monitored the announcement and quickly accused Lamont of negative campaigning, signaling that the senator views Lamont as a serious threat in a Democratic primary, where the voters tend to be liberal.
Tom Swan, Lamont's campaign manager, said Lamont attacked Lieberman's record, not his integrity.

"That's what their focus groups tell them they have do, portray Ned as angry. That's asinine," Swan said. "We're going to talk about Lieberman's record. It would be a good record - for a Republican from Mississippi."


The Democratic establishment is with Lieberman.

"They tell me, `Ned, don't rock the boat,'" Lamont said in a quavering voice, mocking party leaders. "Baby, I say it's high time we rock the boat."

Lamont intends to campaign on the full range of progressive Democratic issues, including universal health care and abortion rights, but his comments on the war generated the most enthusiastic applause Monday.

Bush and Lieberman have dragged the U.S. into a civil war that has made the world a more dangerous place, he said.

"They said the war would be easy. They said we would be greeted as liberators. And here we are three years later, America is no safer. Israel is no safer. The Middle East is destabilized. Iran is on the prowl. Osama Bin Laden is still on the prowl. We have 135,000 troops stuck in the middle of a bloody civil war," he said. "And I say that those who got us into this mess should be held accountable."

I happen to know for an absolute fact that the reason Rodriguez lost in Texas was because the people who read this blog wouldn't go and donate the $25 to his campaign. Don't let it happen again, folks.

By fnord12 | March 17, 2006, 5:25 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

White Collar workers, your time has come

We stood by while the blue collar workers lost their jobs to third world factories.
Now it's our turn.

But the president's assertion that the answer to foreign outsourcing is education, a mantra embraced by Democrats as well as Republicans, is being challenged by a growing body of research and analysis from economists and other scholars. Education — at least as delivered by most of the nation's colleges, universities and technical schools — is no longer quite the economic cure-all it once was, nor the guarantee of financial security Americans have come to expect from college and graduate degrees.
"One could be educationally competitive and easily lose out in the global economic marketplace because of significantly lower wages being paid elsewhere," said Sheldon E. Steinbach, general counsel of the American Council on Education, an umbrella group that represents most of the nation's major colleges and universities.
"What's missing here from both parties is a global economic strategy and a worker adjustment strategy," said Anthony P. Carnevale, a scholar at the National Center on Education and the Economy who was appointed to major commissions by Presidents Reagan and Clinton.

"When they don't know what else to do," he remarked, "there's a tendency among politicians to stand up and say 'education.' "

By fnord12 | March 17, 2006, 3:02 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Bush beaten up by old people

I guess this is why he usually only goes to staged events.

By fnord12 | March 17, 2006, 3:01 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link

Am I right? Am I wrong? My God, what have I done?

FAIR has compiled a list of what all the people in the media were saying in 2003 about the war.

They start off with pro-war syndicated columnist Cal Thomas who said:

"All of the printed and voiced prophecies should be saved in an archive. When these false prophets again appear, they can be reminded of the error of their previous ways and at least be offered an opportunity to recant and repent. Otherwise, they will return to us in another situation where their expertise will be acknowledged, or taken for granted, but their credibility will be lacking."

So it's only fair...

By fnord12 | March 17, 2006, 2:55 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

More cyborg madness

Min has previously shown you Slime Mold Cyborgs. Today i bring you cyborg insects.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is soliciting research proposals in the area of Hybrid Insect MEMS. Proposed research should investigate innovative approaches that enable revolutionary advances in science, devices or systems. Specifically excluded is research, which primarily results in evolutionary improvement upon existing state-of-the-art.

DARPA seeks innovative proposals to develop technology to create insect-cyborgs, possibly enabled by intimately integrating microsystems within insects, during their early stages of metamorphoses. The healing processes from one metamorphic stage to the next stage are expected to yield more reliable bio-electromechanical interface to insects, as compared to adhesively bonded systems to adult insects. Once these platforms are integrated, various microsystem payloads can be mounted on the platforms with the goal of controlling insect locomotion, sense local environment, and scavenge power.

The final demonstration goal of the HI-MEMS program is the delivery of an insect within five meters of a specific target located at hundred meters away, using electronic remote control, and/or global positioning system (GPS). Although flying insects are of great interest (e.g. moths and dragonflies), hopping and swimming insects could also meet final demonstration goals. In conjunction with delivery, the insect must remain stationary either indefinitely or until otherwise instructed. The insect-cyborg must also be able to transmit data from DOD relevant sensors, yielding information about the local environment. These sensors can include gas sensors, microphones, video, etc.
P.S. - DARPA really is the research division of the Department of Defense. This is no joke. I don't know if it's better or worse than trying to train people to kill goats with their mind, but it's up there.

P.P.S. - Linking to the Goat book, i noticed that the author has left a bunch of disturbing, desperate comments on the page. Kind of sad.

By fnord12 | March 17, 2006, 9:03 AM | Liberal Outrage & Science | Link

Stirring Up Trouble Part 2

A follow-up to an earlier post about police infiltrating protests. Today the New York Times has an article about memos that have been released as a result of a lawsuit. The memos state very bluntly that police use what they call "proactive arrests," covert surveillance, and intimidation techniques at demonstrations.

One point the memos reveal is that despite the denials made by the police department, they do in fact infiltrate the demonstrations in order to pass on misinformation.

The reports also made clear what the police have yet to discuss publicly: that the department uses undercover officers to infiltrate political gatherings and monitor behavior.

Indeed, one of the documents - a draft report from the department's Disorder Control Unit - proposed in blunt terms the resumption of a covert tactic that had been disavowed by the city and the federal government 30 years earlier. Under the heading of recommendations, the draft suggested, "Utilize undercover officers to distribute misinformation within the crowds."
In another report, a police inspector praised the "staging of massive amounts" of armored vehicles, prisoner wagons and jail buses in the view of the demonstrators, writing that the sight "would cause them to be alarmed."
Daniel M. Perez, the lawyer representing the people arrested at the animal rights demonstration, argued that the police tactics "punish, control and curtail the lawful exercise of First Amendment activities." The Police Department and the city have said that preserving public order is essential to protecting the civil rights of demonstrators and bystanders.

Mr. Perez maintains that the police documents, taken together, show a policy of pre-emptive arrests. The draft report discussed how early arrests could shape future events. "The arrests made at West 59th Street and Fifth Avenue set a 'tone' with the demonstrators and their possible plans at other demonstrations," the report stated.
Capt. Timothy Hardiman also took note of what he saw as the helpful presence of city corrections buses, which are used to transport prisoners and have reinforced windows, protected by metal grids.

"It was useful to have buses with corrections officers on hand," Captain Hardiman wrote. "They also had a powerful psychological effect."
Mr. Perez said the show of force sent a deliberate warning to people expressing their opinions. "The message is, if you turn out, be prepared to be arrested, be prepared to be sent away for a long time," he said. "It sounds like something from a battle zone."

Demonstrators arrested during the economic forum were held by the police for up to 40 hours without seeing a judge - twice as long as people accused of murder, rape and robbery arrested on those same days, Mr. Perez said.

So, they arrest people before they've committed a crime, they line the streets with cops in riot gear and corrections buses to intimidate protestors, and they deliberately spread misinformation in the hopes of goading people into committing a crimes so that they can be arrested and hauled away on a bus. In order to protect the public.

It sounds to me like the public need to be protected from the police. This isn't the behaviour of a democratic country. This is the behaviour of a fascist state. The gendarmes "protecting" us from the stresses of dissent and free thinking. "Stop protesting. It's just un-American."

They want to cry about how there are rioters and violent protesters that they need to deal with. Well, it's true that there are violent factions in lots of demonstrations. They should arrest people who are destroying public property, setting fire to things, breaking windows, cause, gee, there is a law against that. But 5 cops don't need to tackle and beat down a 135 pound 17 year old cause he started to spray paint a bus stop. They shouldn't be allowed to arrest people who haven't committed a crime in order to "set the tone" and cow the demonstrators. They shouldn't be allowed to silence dissent. They shouldn't be allowed to send in plainclothes cops to incite a riot. I'm pretty sure there are laws against incitement, and there are certainly laws about entrapment.

You don't like being called "pig"? Well, how about "gestapo"?

By min | March 17, 2006, 8:36 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2)| Link

We're peaking

BTW, if you haven't seen The End of Suburbia yet, i really do recommend renting it as soon as possible. Then you can come back here and start planning our post-apocalypse Earthship commune with us.

By fnord12 | March 16, 2006, 5:19 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

It's about time for another terrorist attack

Or at least another "high alert". After all, there's an election coming up.

By fnord12 | March 16, 2006, 12:01 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiird Flu

Bird Flu is caused by factory farming. Go vegan! Or at least, free range/organic.

But we've been told how to prepare for Bird Flu:

In a remarkable speech over the weekend, Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt recommended that Americans start storing canned tuna and powdered milk under their beds as the prospect of a deadly bird flu outbreak approaches the United States.

I promise this is my one and only post on Bird Flu unless something actually happens.

By fnord12 | March 15, 2006, 3:10 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link


Former Supreme Court Justice "swing vote," Sandra Day O'Connor now thinks that we are headed towards a dictatorship.

This is the same Sandra Day O'Connor who helped put Bush in office because she didn't want to retire under a Democrat:

In a story published the following day, Christopher Hitchens, the United States correspondent for the Evening Standard of London, wrote that "O'Connor . . . has allegedly told her friends and family that she wishes to retire from the Court but won't do so if there is to be a Democratic president to nominate her replacement." Helen Thomas, a nationally syndicated columnist, wrote that "[t]he story going around [Washington] is that a very upset Justice Sandra Day O'Connor walked out of a dinner party on election night when she heard the first mistaken broadcast that Vice President A Gore had won. The ailing O'Connor apparently wants to retire, but not while a Democrat is in the White House and could pick her successor."

By fnord12 | March 15, 2006, 1:29 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Lost again... Nader's fault?

So the progressive Democrat, Ciro Rodriguez, that we were supporting because he was running for a house seat in a primary in Texas against a conservtive Democrat lost. And the comments at daily kos... are blaming Ralph Nader. I think. I'm not really sure what this guy is saying:

This is doubtless the 99,000th time someone has said this to those of you for whom this applies but:

It sure would have been nice for the progressives who demanded such purity that they voted for St. Ralph in 2000 to remember that UNLESS you win important elections, in the end all you have in the end is some "energized grassroots efforts" that nonetheless failed to win anything but "moral victories". Meanwhile, instead of having an imperfect, but at least sane and more usually than not responsibly sound person in some vital office, you get a malignantly destructive, arrogant reactionary whose goal it is to destroy not only everything progressive that's ever been accomplished, but to salt the earth against even the slight possibility any progressive-minded goals could be accomplished ever again, even should you win office in the future.

You're right, I'm still big-time angry at some of you for all that's happened the last 5 years.

By fnord12 | March 13, 2006, 7:54 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2)| Link

Food Uniformity Bill

This bill basically requires that all State food safety laws be identical to Federal laws. The catch is that if the FDA hasn't made a regulation for some food threat, then the States can't either. And if the State already has such a regulation in place, it's now voided.

And, since the states regulate many food safety issues not covered by the FDA, many food safety laws will be voided and replaced with no law at all. For example, the bill would preempt Alaska's newly passed law to label genetically engineered fish and California's Proposition 65, a very effective law that requires labeling of food and consumer products that contain substances known to cause cancer or reproductive harm. It also threatens state laws governing the safety of milk and shellfish.

It passed in the House 283 to 139. Check out this site to see how your Representative voted. Take a second to yell at your Rep if he voted for the bill and thank them if they voted against. My guy voted against. Yay Rush Holt!

Also, take a minute to contact your Senator and ask them to oppose the bill in the Senate. Here is the Center for Food Safety's webform if you want to do it that way.

By min | March 10, 2006, 11:00 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Endangered Wildlife Park

I received this email from the NRDC:

The National Park Service is considering building a new road through 30 miles of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of the crown jewels of America's national park system.

We need your immediate help to stop the proposed North Shore Road, which would slice through the heart of NRDCs Cumberland Plateau BioGem and destroy one of the largest pristine wildlands in the eastern United States.

Please go to http://www.savebiogems.org/cumberland/takeaction.asp right away and urge the National Park Service to reject the North Shore Road proposal.

At a cost of at least $600 million in taxpayer dollars, the North Shore Road would lay waste to portions of the celebrated Appalachian Trail, as well as vital habitat for black bears, migratory songbirds and other wildlife.

Road construction would pollute local waterways with acidic runoff and heavy metals, contaminating nearby streams with toxic chemicals and killing aquatic life in one of the world's most species-rich watersheds. In fact, much of this area has already been recommended for formal wilderness designation -- and is already managed as wilderness -- by the Park Service.

The Park Service is currently accepting comments on whether to build this ill-conceived road or, instead, offer Swain County, North Carolina, a monetary settlement.

If they truly are accepting comments and aren't just making a show of it, then please do send them one. Considering the size of our ecological footprints, I don't think we can afford to destroy any part of the planet. If you'd rather not use NRDC's pre-written submission, you can leave a comment directly on the National Park Service's webform.

By min | March 10, 2006, 10:12 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Firestone: Plantation Owners - Slavers

What brand of tires do you drive on? If they're Firestone brand, you'll be happy to know that you're helping to prop up a rubber plantation owned by Firestone in Liberia.

Three or four times a morning, depending on how strong they feel, Mulbah and his mates go back and forth between the plantation and the weighing machine. They belong to the Firestone plantation's (officially) 6,000-strong workforce. Mulbah's worn-out sandals say it all. Struggling to earn $3 a day, he can't afford a $10 pair of Firestone rubber boots.

Liberia was in a civil war for 14 years. This caused many people to be displaced, seeking refuge in the plantation, the one place that somehow managed to avoid damage. Firestone, seeing an opportunity, has taken full advantage of desperate times and a bad situation.

"In a country where there is no work, we have little alternative," says Mulbah. "I spent 12 years at school and studied mechanics. I know the words for all sorts of things. This is slavery, just like in the history books."


The staple food is rice, supplied by Firestone and deducted from the workers' pay: $25 for two 50kg bags.


According to a report published in November on the internet by the local NGO Save My Future Foundation (Samfu), 10,000 people, including children, work indirectly for Firestone.


Effluents from the processing plant flow directly into the adjoining Farmington river..."We try to explain to the women not to wash clothes in the river." Dr Lyndon Mabande, the senior consultant at the Firestone hospital inadvertently confirms this situation. "Apart from falls and ammonia burns, we see a lot of patients suffering from gastric complaints," he says. "When they work in the bush, they drink contaminated water."

With the UN embargo on diamonds and timber (but oddly, not rubber....hmmm) and all rubber exported out of Liberia for processing, it doesn't seem likely that Liberians lives will improve. As Firestone is making the profit, not Liberia, it's doubly unlikely.

Old world style plantation, child labor, hazardous working and living conditions. When confronted with these accusations, Firestones public relations manager Edwin Padmore brushes these claims aside.

Padmore dismisses such claims, explaining that average pay amounts to $3.38 for an eight-hour day, well above the national average in a country with 80% unemployment.

Nice guy.

By min | March 10, 2006, 9:10 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

We Are Like A Disease

We're infecting everyone around us. First Mexico pulls a Jessica Lynch and now Britain has caught the creationism plague.

He did not feel that a belief in evolution was necessary to study medicine although he added that, if writing about it was necessary for passing an exam, he would do so. "We want to become doctors and dentists, we want to pass our exams."


Most of the next generation of medical and science students could well be creationists, according to a biology teacher at a leading London sixth-form college. "The vast majority of my students now believe in creationism,' she said, "and these are thinking young people who are able and articulate and not at the dim end at all. They have extensive booklets on creationism which they put in my pigeon-hole ... it's a bit like the southern states of America." Many of them came from Muslim, Pentecostal or Baptist family backgrounds, she said, and were intending to become pharmacists, doctors, geneticists and neuro-scientists.

Students of science who believe in creationism. People who want to become doctors and neuro-scientists who think evolution is a farce. When does the cognitive dissonance kick in and the spontaneous head combustion start?

Also, I hope very much that I'm never stuck in Great Britain and need to see a doctor.

By min | March 9, 2006, 9:44 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

TV Made Us Do It

The Mexican government faked a kidnapping rescue back in December to show they're winning the fight against organized crime.

The authorities had sought to share the blame with journalists that they claim asked the police to replay arrests carried out hours before. "All we tried to do was serve you, the media," the attorney general, Daniel Cabeza de Vaca, told a news conference.

Who's having Jessica Lynch flashbacks?

By min | March 9, 2006, 8:38 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

No official reluctance to report the truth

Pat Tillman was a pro-football player who, after the WTC attacks, decided to pass up on a contract so he could join the army and fight in Afghanistan. He was also a reader of Noam Chomsky, and when Tillman was tranferred to Iraq, he began speaking out against the war, calling it illegal. Then he was killed. At first the Defense Department tried playing him up as a hero who was killed by an enemy attack. Then it came out that he was killed by friendly fire. Since then there have been four investigations and they are working on the fifth. Any "investigation" where an organization investigates itself will always be more of an ass-covering operation as far as i am concerned, and i don't think anything will come of this either. They are calling his death the result of "gross negligence." To me that means they sent him in from of someone else's machine gun on purpose to shut him up, but i guess i'm a conspiracy theorist.

Here's my favorite part of the article:

A report by the Army later found that troops with Tillman knew at the time that friendly fire had killed the football star. Officers destroyed critical evidence and concealed the truth from Tillman's brother, also an Army Ranger, who was nearby, the report found.

More than three weeks after a memorial service in San Jose, Calif., the Army announced on May 29, 2004, that friendly fire rather than an enemy encounter caused Tillman's death. However, even at the time of the memorial, top Army officials were aware that the investigation showed the death had been caused by an act of "gross negligence," the report said.

Despite the Army's findings, the officer who prepared the Special Operations Command report, Brig. Gen. Gary M. Jones, concluded there was no official reluctance to report the truth. Army officials have acknowledged that they should have better handled the information they released on Tillman's death.

Sure, they destroyed evidence and lied, but they really wanted to tell the truth. I'll tell you what: if you don't want me to be a conspiracy theorist, stop acting so damn suspicious.

By fnord12 | March 7, 2006, 11:10 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

It is the duty of patriotic americans to keep spending.

Only terrorists don't like being in debt.

They paid down some debt. The balance on their JCPenney Platinum MasterCard had gotten to an unhealthy level. So they sent in a large payment, a check for $6,522.

And an alarm went off. A red flag went up. The Soehnges' behavior was found questionable.

They were told, as they moved up the managerial ladder at the call center, that the amount they had sent in was much larger than their normal monthly payment. And if the increase hits a certain percentage higher than that normal payment, Homeland Security has to be notified. And the money doesn't move until the threat alert is lifted.

By fnord12 | March 7, 2006, 10:07 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Race to the End of Everything

China had a policy of isolationism for decades. This caused them to fall behind many other countries in the world technologically, economically, etc. Now they've finally realized they can't live as if the rest of the world doesn't exist so they're playing catch-up. Except they're not doing it intelligently. Once again they fail. Instead of observing the pitfalls of industrialization and using current and new technology to avoid it, they are just repeating all the mistakes others have already made. With their drive for expansion and development, they are killing the land and ultimately killing themselves.

More than four-fifths of the wetlands along northern China's biggest river system have dried up because of over-development, the state media reported yesterday in the latest warning of the dire environmental consequences of the country's economic growth.

Fifty years ago, the Haihe River and its tributaries formed an ecologically rich area that included 1,465 square miles of wetlands. But in the years since, the expanding mega-cities of Beijing and Tianjin have sucked much of it dry. The Xinhua news agency reported that the wetlands have shrunk to 207 square miles.

By min | March 3, 2006, 8:27 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Chomsky fan for PM of Iraq!

Juan Cole:

The Kurdistan Alliance and the Sunni fundamentalist Iraqi Accord Front are attempting to block Ibrahim Jaafari from becoming prime minister. The United Iraqi Alliance, the largest bloc in parliament, has the right to nominate the PM, and an internal party vote resulted in Jaafari's victory. Jaafari is, however, unacceptable to the United States because of his close ties to Iran and his socialist tendencies (he recently expressed admiration for Noam Chomsky and wondered if Noam would come visit Baghdad). The US appears to be working with the Kurds and the Sunnis behind the scenes to make Jaafari's candidacy collapse. The United Iraqi Alliance has 132 votes in the 275-strong parliament, but 184 are needed to choose a president. It therefore needs partners from either the Kurds or Sunni Arabs or both, and these two can essentially filibuster and prevent the formation of a government unless the UIA goes along with them.

Personally, I think that given the parlous security situation in Iraq, it is absolutely crazy to be playing these political games. In the wake of the destruction of the Askariyah Shrine in Samarra, you want to go to the Shiite community and say, 'you cannot have your choice of prime minister and there is going to be a tyranny of the minorities'? Oh, that will calm things right down.

By fnord12 | March 2, 2006, 1:55 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

System Failure

More on the Katrina video from Greg Saunders from This Modern World:

The miserable, uninspired blogger who hasn't written anything interesting in a month side of me wants to write off this latest bombshell with a pithy line like "go ahead and throw this in the corner with the other smoking guns", but this really hit a nerve with me...

It's times like these when I wish we had a parlimentary system of government. In most other democracies, a fuck-up that big would be quickly followed by a "no confidence" vote and new elections. In the USA, the aggressively incompetent leaders who get us into one catastrophe after another are allowed to stay and screw up the reconstruction process as well. So for the next three years, we're stuck with the same assholes who got us into this mess, unless we can convince enough members of Congress that criminal negligence that contributed to the deaths of hundreds of people isa "high crime" or "misdemeanor".

By fnord12 | March 2, 2006, 10:44 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

The liberal news media

Last night the AP released a video and additional transcripts of meetings with Bush warning him about what was going to happen regarding Katrina and New Orleans. They warned that the leevees would likely break (remember, "No one could have predicted that the leeves would break."), causing catastrophe. Bush asks no questions, and then assures state officials that "We are fully prepared."

You'd think this would be the front page story on all the news sites. It's not. No, the headline story is "Nuclear Deal With India a Victory for Bush". On Yahoo news, the Katrina video isn't even a "top story" (but "New, More Colorful $10 Bill to Debut" is).

By fnord12 | March 2, 2006, 8:57 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link

Lieberman and the PMRC

The PMRC is why when i was younger i essentially rejected the Democrats and thought i was a Republican libertarian (I was also, and probably always will be, conflicted about abortion). It's why i voted for Nader (or essentially against Tipper Gore, founder of the PMRC) in 96. As far as i was concerned, the Democrats were the party of authoritarian Big Government, trying to tell me how to live my life and what music i could listen to. By 2000 i had internalized most of Nader's criticisms and while i certainly didn't consider myself a Republican, i always figured the Democrats for a bunch of phoneys and no better. I've not really seen anything that's changed my opinion on that subject, but i've come somewhat away from the strategy of supporting a third party and now see benefits in the strategy of supporting primary challenges to longstanding Democrat milksops.

The evolution of my opinion in the last 6 years is the result of a couple of things:

  1. Watching the disaster of the Nader / Green split during the 2004 election, and the utter failure of the Greens to actually build local movements.
  2. Reading too many blogs, which with the exception of Left I On The News, tend to be of a center-left persuasion.
  3. Watching the Bush administration for the past 6 years and realizing that as bad as the Democrats are, the Republicans are much, much worse, in every respect.*

It's a compromised strategy. My politics are Green, and i disagree with the Democrats on goals and methods for a lot of issues. But at least for now, i'm seeing if it's possible to effect change from within.

So now i'm looking at primary challenges, and 'tis the season for the 2006 election, if you are interested. We've already sent money to a number of candidates that are challenging conservative Democrats, including Ned Lamont, who is challenging Joe Lieberman. I dislike Lieberman especially. In addition to the obvious stuff (he's for the war, he's for the Patriot act, he voted for Alito), he's the leader in terms of politicians who criticize video games and especially music. This blog, DownWithTyranny gives a little history of the PMRC and Lieberman that i thought was interesting in that it shows how Lieberman is basically more or less responsible for alienating young people from the Democrats (and in most cases, politics in general):

First a little disclosure. DWT is the nom de guerre for Howie Klein, former punk rock dj, former founder and president of alternative rock label 415 Records, former general manager and vice president of Sire Records and former president of Reprise Records. I am now retired from the music business but there is no question that Joe Lieberman's frontal assault on the music business was something that very much disturbed me. In fact, several of his and his allies' prime targets were personal friends as well as business associates. (And one of the albums he fussed and fretted about most obnoxiously, BODY COUNT, was a record I was Executive Producer of.)

The story starts with the founding of the PMRC and if you're too young to remember, you ought to read about that sad chapter in American political/cultural history (in that link back there or either this one here or this Gore-bashing right wing point of view here). The principals' names should all sound familiar: Tipper Gore (wife of Al), Susan Baker (wife of Bush family retainer/fixer James), Nancy Thurmond (one of the Strom wives), Lynn Cheney (lesbian pornography writer and wife of alcoholic current vice president Dick). This gaggle of powerful men's wives was the forerunner for three of Washington's most celebrated, loud-mouthed hypocrites: Bill Bennett, Sam Brownback and, of course, Joe Lieberman, who took up their campaign almost as soon as he was elected.

To quote the Republican National Committee (who carelessly hypocritically left out Lynn Cheney's participation in the PMRC, the group's mission "was to clean up raunchy lyrics and suggestive album covers in the music industry. The group pushed for a 'rating system similar to that for films, printed lyrics on album covers and under-the-counter obscurity for covers depicting violence or explicit sexual themes'... In August 1985, under pressure from PMRC and other parents' groups, record companies agreed to place the warning 'Parental Guidance: Explicit Lyrics' on albums and cassettes containing explicit lyrics. However, for Tipper and PMRC, that language was not enough and the group continued its war on controversial music lyrics," eventually bringing the mess before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. Artists like Jello Biafra, Ice-T and Frank Zappa showed how dangerous the PMRC's plans were for freedom of speech and expression, with Zappa explaining to the senators that "the complete list of PMRC demands reads like an instruction manual for some sinister kind of toilet training program to house-break all composers and performers because of the lyrics of a few," adding, dramatically "Ladies, how dare you?... Bad facts make bad law, and people who write bad laws are in my opinion more dangerous than songwriters who celebrate sexuality. Freedom of speech, freedom of religious thought, and the right to due process for composers, performers and retailers are imperiled if the PMRC and the major labels consummate this nasty bargain." (Among the artists specifically attacked by the PMRC were Madonna, Prince, Judas Priest, AC/DC, Def Leppard, Black Sabbath, Cyndi Lauper and Sheena Easton.)

People often ask me what happened and what was the big deal. Lieberman knew exactly what he was doing-- far better than the batty wives' group that preceded him-- when he insisted on ratings on CDs and it had nothing to do with helping parents supervise their children. Few people understand-- the way Lieberman did-- that in the late 80s something like 70% of all recorded music was sold in stores in malls and that malls have very stringent lease arrangements about their tenants not selling "pornography." Over the course of this controversy two of the Senate's most uptight and close-minded prigs, Sam Brownback and Lieberman, pushed for the kinds of stickers that would make it impossible for the kind of music they objected to-- like anything talking about masturbation or homosexuality, for example-- to be stocked by 70% of American retailers. The effect inside the music business was chilling-- and instantaneous. Suddenly a whole new internal bureaucracy had to be created to police every record and suddenly artists were being pressured-- sometimes overtly and sometimes less overtly-- to cave in to demands by two really reactionary fundamentalists whose values are far from mainstream. In one fell swoop Lieberman destroyed an alliance between young voters and the Democratic Party that had started with John Kennedy's election as he ham-fistedly savaged their culture for his own political ambitions. (emphasis mine)

*Sidenote: Actually, this one is a little tricky. When Bush was first elected, I said to min that because of the Nader challenge, Democrats will be sure to highlight every 'bad thing' that Bush did as an example of why the Greens ruined everything. Early on in the Bush administration, when the Democrats were howling about an executive order about acceptable levels of mercury in water that Clinton signed at the very last minute before leaving office, after having been in office for 8 years, that Bush immediately reversed, i saw it as evidence that i was right. Then al-Qaeda attacked, bestowing Republicans with the political capital to act without restraint. And act they did, enacting policies more awful than i could have imagined when i was agreeing with Nader that there aren't any real differences between Republicans and Democrats. Although it's important to notice that for the most part, Democrats have supported most of Bush's agenda. So Nader was wrong. The difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Democrats won't come up with the really bad ideas on their own, but they will still go along with them if someone else suggests them.

By fnord12 | March 1, 2006, 4:07 PM | Liberal Outrage & Music | Link

Falling Behind

If this turns out to be truly applicable in the real world, it's very good news:

In a scientific breakthrough that has stunned the world, a team of South African scientists has developed a revolutionary new, highly efficient solar power technology that will enable homes to obtain all their electricity from the sun.

This means high electricity bills and frequent power failures could soon be a thing of the past.

The unique South African-developed solar panels will make it possible for houses to become completely self-sufficient for energy supplies.

The panels are able to generate enough energy to run stoves, geysers, lights, TVs, fridges, computers - in short all the mod-cons of the modern house.

Here in the United States, we're barely bothering with solar power. Our idea of reducing reliance on oil is building nuclear power plants. Why? Because the Oil and Nuclear industries give big campaign contributions. No one is going to make money in the long run with solar power.

This is a major failure of capitalism. Why devote time and money researching technologies that would be beneficial to society but won't result in any revenue? (Same philosophy in medical research, for example: we can make more money developing the next Viagra or preventing male pattern baldness than we can curing cancer. Drugs to extend the life of cancer patients? Sure, anything to keep them coming back and buying more drugs. But cure it and you lose your revenue stream.)

The result is that countries that rely on private corporations to develop new technologies are going to fall behind countries that better fund scientists working at public universities, etc. We in the US generally think of ourselves as being "the best", and there's a reason why. At one point, especially under FDR, Truman, and Eisenhower, we directed much more funding to developing infrastructure. But in the 70s the wealthy in this country began devoting their resources to fighting the perception that the wealthy and corporations should be taxed (via groups like the Heritage Foundation and CATO), and they've been very successful. Since then, we've been falling behind.

By fnord12 | March 1, 2006, 3:09 PM | Liberal Outrage & Science | Link

What's Your Footprint?

Mine's 13. We would need 2.8 planets to sustain us if everyone was like me.

Take the quiz.

By min | March 1, 2006, 12:54 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2)| Link

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