liberal ["liberalis" L - suitable for a freeman, generous; "eleutheros" Gk - free] (adj) generous, open-minded, not subjugated to authoritarian domination; (n) one who believes in liberty, universal suffrage and the free exchange of ideas. elite ["eslire" Fr -- to choose fr.L "eligere" -- choose] (n) the choice part; best of a class; the socially superior part of society.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

First Firewoman

Meanwhile, as Bush armwrestles Prince Abdullah to try to "turn on the spiggots," the Secretary of State has been dispatched to South America to throw some water on the spreading left wing brushfires in Venezuela and Educador.

The strategy? Containment, what else?

Rice plans to to visit Brazil, Columbia, Chile and El Salvador. According to BBC World Edition>
More than half of South America's population is now ruled by left-leaning presidents, all elected in the last six years and seeking to distance themselves from Washington.

The US appears to be trying to re-engage, calling for greater efforts to deal with a twin challenge - bolstering democracy and alleviating poverty.
Will military aid and the economic globalization agenda continue to hold sway in our Latin American relationships? Or will the US be able to offer genuine support to the popular democratic movements spreading through Venezuela and Ecuador? In spite of the neoconservative administration, Congress and the people could force an American policy that makes sense for Latin America: rolling back corporatization and promoting sustainable development.

The Bush Energy Policy

If you didn't catch the first showing in Michael Moore's Farenheit 9/11 of the "intimacy" between our leader and the Saudi Arabian crown prince, Abdullah, please see photograph at left.

Women can't vote in Saudi Arabia, the Saudis own about 1/20 of the United States, they are home to 13 of the 16 9/11 highjackers, and they compelled us to take over Iraq and move our military bases out of their country.

Ah, but it's all worth it, just for this magic moment in the garden at Crawford.

Besides, with friends like the Saudis, who needs to invest in alternative energy sources?

Thursday, April 21, 2005

It can't happen here

Ecuadoran Congress ousts President.

The interesting background information on this is that meddling with the judiciary sparked the final surge of inflammatory public upheaval against Ecuador's President Gutierrez. According to Juan Forero, writing for today's New York Times,
But it was Mr. Gutiérrez's role in twice dismissing the Supreme Court, most recently last Friday, that helped create a firestorm he could not survive. An interim court installed by Mr. Gutiérrez's allies had cleared former President Bucaram of corruption charges, permitting his return to Quito earlier this month.
Some democracies still insist on practicing separation of powers.
Monte Reel reported to the Washington Post from Quito yesterday that the Congress had voted to replace the President, Mr. Gutierrez, with the vice president.
But enraged mobs continued to take to the streets, burning government buildings and beating employees and politicians who tried to flee.

Apparently, the Congress didn't have much choice.

One particularly disturbing passage in the report about civil unrest in the South American country mentioned
Hundreds of people rallied outside the burning Ministry of Social Welfare building, where employees stuck their heads out of broken windows looking to escape. Many in the crowd tried to throw rocks at the employees, even as they were being rescued from smoke-filled windows by firefighters. Sporadic gunfire could be heard in the streets around the building.
My sources tell me that throwing rocks at each other is an Ecuadoran/Latin American tradition in streetfighting and civil unrest.

Over at the Independent, Andrew Gumbel writes more colorful details.
An extraordinary session of Ecuador's parliament, which convened amid the shouted slogans of tens of thousands of protesters in the streets outside, voted 60-0 to remove him. Almost as soon as the vote was complete, a helicopter carrying Mr Gutierrez and his wife, took off from the roof of the presidential palace, the Palacio Corondolet, and headed to Quito's international airport.
Gumbel, unlike Forero, suggests that Mr. Gutierrez's "fatal error was to mishandle street protests" over the Supreme Court interference. Gumbel reports that Gutierrez declared a state of emergency, suspending civil liberties, and then revoked it when protesters failed to disperse and the army didn't enforce his edicts.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Post Heist

Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo blogger, and Max Sawicki, blogger behind the page, MaxSpeak, You Listen, have been egging each other on to new levels of expository watchdogging.

My wife, Loretta, belongs to a Net Flix service that has been filling her requests for "heist" movies recently. In the last few weeks we have seen, The Italian Job, The Heist, The Score, and Oceans Eleven.

Marshall was jogged by the idiotic and self-contradictory character (not to mention the questionably unConstitutional quality) of our Fearless Leader's recent visit to West Virginia on the Privatization Tour.

In an AP article covering the event, journalist Deb Reichmann wrote

To dramatize Social Security's future solvency problem, the president peered into the four-drawer ivory cabinet inside the Bureau of Public Debt office here along the Ohio River. In the second drawer was a white three-ring binder filled with pieces of paper providing physical evidence of $1.7 trillion in Treasury bonds that back Social Security benefits.

"Imagine," Bush said in a speech a short time later at West Virginia University at Parkersburg. "The retirement security for future generations is sitting in a filing cabinet.

"It's time to strengthen and modernize Social Security for future generations with growing assets that you can control, that you call your own — assets that the government can't take away."
Mulling over the implications of W's message, Josh Marshall reflected on just how many worthless "pieces of paper" in the form of U.S. Treasury Notes in the Social Security Trust Fund were put there by President Bush. Besides checking in with the Bureau of Public Debt on some other relevant Bush administration numbers, Marshall's idle query was taken up and computed by Max Sawicky.

The answer, according to Sawicky, is $639 billion. In other words, approximately 1/3 of all the "worthless IOU's" in the Social Security Trust Fund have been put there by President George W. Bush, the President who said, "There is no Trust Fund."

Whatever the outcome of the Budget and Privatization debate, one thing is certain, Bush has turned the tables on Ronald Reagan. The President who made is his name in film is about to be outstarred in the greatest true-crime reality show ever conceived by the culture of mass media consumption: The Social Security Trust Fund heist.

Move over Brando, DeNiro, George Clooney and Edward Norton, Jr. Move over Ronald Reagan. George W. Bush is about to take public spectacle -- specifically in the form of the "heist," to a new level.

courtesy of mike malloy

Offended? Click the pic at left and read
The 14 Defining Characteristics of Fascism

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


Amazing article today on Bush's visit to West Virginia, penned by Deb Reichman of the AP.

Bush attempts to cast doubt on the solvency of the Social Security Trust Fund by ridiculing the "IOUs" in there as "worthless pieces of paper."

He went on to issue further eloquent remarks:
"Imagine," Bush said in his speech. "The retirement security for future generations is sitting in a filing cabinet. It's time to strengthen and modernize Social Security for future generations with growing assets that you can control that you call your own -- assets that the government can't take away."
The Confidence Man

I guess he's indirectly saying that if "someone" is going to take away your retirement savings, that someone may as well be him. On that point I do trust him. I believe he REALLY wants to succeed in gutting Social Security so that American retirees can live in destitute poverty again. Needless to say, my busy and effective 18th term Congressman, The Honorable Charles Rangel, weighed in with some timely and pertinent remarks,
Americans who paid into Social Security are legally entitled to have that money fund Social Security until 2052 — as estimated by the Congressional Budget Office — just as all other investors in U.S. bonds are entitled to their return on their investments
. Reid and Pelosi were on the ball yesterday and had a letter prepared and delivered to Bush for the occasion of his West Virginia visit.

They were clear and firm, but polite enough not to insult Bush in public by quoting Amendment XIV of the Constitution of the United States, Section 4 of which reads in part,
The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.
Section 5 reads, in its entirety,
The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Money to Burn

Here's the link for the new GAO report on the costs and risks associated with building major new weapons systems.

Tim Weiner released a story on it in today's New York Times.

It seems like everybody who looks at the problem figures the costs are going to erupt, and the costs for major new weapons systems have already doubled in the last five years.

This guy, called "Plutonium Page," from daily Kos has a really good diary on it, with great comments.