Saturday, February 9, 2008
Most everyone I know falls into one of three catagories: Getting by, barely getting by, or struggling to get by, so I understand that there's nothing left to spare for most folks.
Certainly, monkeyfister's tornado relief project is more important and urgent than my personal difficulties, but if you find that you can spare a small amount after that please consider using the "donate" button on the sidebar. Thanks.
Any analysis of the current state of the ongoing U.S. occupation of Iraq that relied solely on the U.S. government, the major candidates for president or the major media outlets in the United States for information would be hard pressed to find any bad news. In a State of the Union address which had everything except a "Mission Accomplished" banner flying in the background, President Bush all but declared victory over the insurgency in Iraq. His recertification of the success of the so-called surge has prompted the Republican candidates to assume a cocky swagger when discussing Iraq. They embrace the occupation and speak, without shame or apparent fear of retribution, of an ongoing presence in that war-torn nation. Their Democratic counterparts have been less than enthusiastic in their criticism of the escalation. And the media, for the most part, continue their macabre role as cheerleaders of death, hiding the reality of Iraq deep inside stories that build upon approving headlines derived from nothing more than political rhetoric. The war in Iraq, we're told, is virtually over. We only need "stay the course" for 10 more years.
This situation is troublesome in the extreme. The collective refusal of any constituent in this complicated mix of political players to confront Bush on Iraq virtually guarantees that it will be the Bush administration, and not its successor, that will dictate the first year (or more) of policy in Iraq for the next president. It also ensures that the debacle that is the Bush administration's overarching Middle East policy of regional transformation and regime change in not only Iraq but Iran and Syria will continue to go unchallenged. If the president is free to pursue his policies, it could lead to direct military intervention in Iran by the United States prior to President Bush's departure from office or, failing that, place his successor on the path toward military confrontation. At a time when every data point available certifies (and recertifies) the administration's actions in Iraq, Iran and elsewhere (including Afghanistan) as an abject failure, America collectively has fallen into a hypnotic trance, distracted by domestic economic problems and incapable, due to our collective ignorance of the world we live in, of deciphering the reality on the ground in the Middle East.
Iraq is dying; soon Iraq will be dead. True, there will be a plot of land in the Middle East which people will refer to as Iraq. But any hope of a resurrected homogeneous Iraqi nation populated by a diverse people capable of coexisting in peace and harmony is soon to be swept away forever. Any hope of a way out for the people of Iraq and their neighbors is about to become a victim of the "successes" of the "surge" and the denial of reality. The destruction of Iraq has already begun. The myth of Kurdish stability-born artificially out of the U.S.-enforced "no-fly zones" of the 1990s, sustained through the largess of the Oil-for-Food program (and U.S.-approved sanctions sidestepped by the various Kurdish groups in Iraq) and given a Frankenstein-like lease on life in the aftermath of the U.S. invasion and occupation-is rapidly unraveling. Like Dr. Frankenstein's monster, present-day Iraqi Kurdistan has been exposed as an amalgam of parts incompatible not only with each other but the region as a whole.
One of the spinoffs of the continued success of the Sunni resistance is the focus it places on the inability of the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad to actually govern. The U.S. decision to arm, train and facilitate the various Sunni militias in Iraq is a de facto acknowledgement that the American occupiers have lost confidence in the high-profile byproduct of the "purple finger revolution" of January 2005. The sham that was that election has produced a government trusted by no one, even the Shiites. The ongoing unilateral cease-fire imposed by the Muqtada al-Sadr on his Mahdi Army prevented the outbreak of civil war between his movement and that of the Iranian-backed Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), and its militia, the Badr Brigade.
Friday, February 8, 2008
Attorney General Michael Mukasey is back on the Hill today, testifying to the House Judiciary Committee. Paul Kiel is covering it at TPMmuckraker. So far, he's dropped two big bombshells. DOJ will not be investigating:
(1) whether the waterboarding, now admitted to by the White House, was a crime; or
(2) whether the Administration's warrantless wiretapping was illegal.
His rationale? Both programs had been signed off on in advance as legal by the Justice Department.
Cynics may argue that those aren't bombshells at all, that the Bush Administration would never investigate itself in these matters. Perhaps so. But this is a case where cynicism is itself dangerous.
We have now the Attorney General of the United States telling Congress that it's not against the law for the President to violate the law if his own Department of Justice says it's not.
It is as brazen a defense of the unitary executive as anything put forward by the Administration in the last seven years, and it comes from an attorney general who was supposed to be not just a more professional, but a more moderate, version of Alberto Gonzales (Thanks to Democrats like Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Schumer for caving on the Mukasey nomination.).
President Bush has now laid down his most aggressive challenge to the very constitutional authority of Congress. It is a naked assertion of executive power. The founders would have called it tyrannical. His cards are now all on the table. This is no bluff.
This is what scares me about the "bush legacy". The administration has declared that they are above the constitution without challange or consequence. Future administrations can point to these acts as precedant for failing to obey the law.
Or maybe they'll just lie:
The procedures of the CIA program are designed to be safe, and they are in full compliance with the nation’s laws and treaty obligations. They’ve been carefully reviewed by the Department of Justice and very carefully monitored. The program is run by highly-trained professionals who understand their obligations under the law. And the program has uncovered a wealth of information and has foiled attacks against the United States and other nations and has saved thousands of lives.
The United States is a country that takes human rights seriously. We do not torture. It’s against our laws and against our values. And we expect all those who serve America to conduct themselves accordingly, and we enforce those rules. Some years ago, when abuses were conducted at Abu Ghraib prison, abuses that had nothing to do with the CIA program, abuses that came to light were investigated and those responsible were busted. America is a fair and a decent country. [applause] President Bush has made it clear, both publicly and privately, that our duty to uphold the laws and standards of this nation make no exceptions for wartime. As he put it, we are in a fight for our principles and our first responsibility is to live by them. The war on terror, after all, is more than a contest of arms and more than a test of will. It’s also a war of ideas. - Dick Cheney, 2/07/08
Don't you feel reassured now?
Thursday, February 7, 2008
With minimal public notice and no formal environmental review, the Forest Service has approved a permit allowing a British mining company to explore for uranium just outside Grand Canyon National Park, less than three miles from a popular lookout over the canyon’s southern rim.
If the exploration finds rich uranium deposits, it could lead to the first mines near the canyon since the price of uranium ore plummeted nearly two decades ago. A sharp increase in uranium prices over the past three years has led individuals to stake thousands of mining claims in the Southwest, including more than 1,000 in the Kaibab National Forest, near the Grand Canyon.
To drill exploratory wells on the claims in the Kaibab forest requires Forest Service approval. Vane Minerals, the British company, received such approval for seven sites in December.
The Forest Service granted the approvals without a full-dress environmental assessment, ruling that the canyon could be “categorically excluded” from such a review because exploration would last less than a year and might not lead to mining activity.
On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors in Coconino County, Ariz., voted unanimously to try to block any potential uranium mines. It asked that the federal government withdraw large sections of land immediately north and south of the national park from mineral leasing.
If this moves forward, I'll be protesting full time. There are only a few places that I consider sacred, and the Grand Canyon is one of them. Uranium mining is a messy, deadly business. People are still dying from contamination left over from cold war era mining:
An L.A. Times article from November 2006 first alerted Chairman Waxman to the plight of the Navajo - not the fact that the federal government had utterly failed to address this mess for decades. As outlined in the L.A. Times article, "from 1944 to 1986, 3.9 million tons of uranium ore were chiseled and blasted from the mountains and plains. The mines provided uranium for the Manhattan project, the top-secret effort to develop an atomic bomb . . . private companies operated the mines, but the U.S. government was the sole customer. . . . As the Cold War threat gradually diminished over the next two decades, more than 1,000 mines and four processing mills on tribal land shut down." The radioactive waste and debris from these operations, however, largely remains. People live in and around uranium-contaminated areas. Livestock grazes and children play amongst radioactive waste and debris. There is a palpable threat of radioactive contamination to the ground water in many areas.
At the hearing, Edith Hood, while choking back tears, talked about the mining waste near her home in the Church Rock area, and the sickness and illnesses that plagued her and her family. These sentiments were echoed by Larry King and Ray Manygoats. Phil Harrison, although a Navajo Nation Council Delegate, testified as to his personal experience with uranium contamination. George Arthur, also a Council
Delegate, testified in his capacity as the Chairman of the Navajo Natural Resources Committee. Mr. Arthur made it clear to the Committee that enough study has been done. It was now time for the federal government to take action to address this ongoing human tragedy. Stephen Etsity, the head of the Navajo EPA, managed to bring Navajo soil (from the Tuba City area) into the hearing chambers, where he used a device to demonstrate the existence of gamma radiation.
The very thought of uranium mining at the canyon has me ready for a fight. Edward Abbey may be gone, but there are still a lot of us in Arizona who love our rugged terrain. And our Senator, John McCain, should be ashamed of himself for not fighting this.
I'd pretty much assumed that McCain would be the Rethuglican nominee, despite his apparent senility. Today, with Romney dropping out, that looks inevitable. I don't see Huckabee picking up enough support to beat McCain in the remaining contests (but I could be wrong). The media loves John McCain, so we'll be hearing "maverick" and "straight shooter" from now until November. I might as well start tearing my hair out now. John McCain has been pandering (albeit more subtly) as much and as long as Romney. The only things that McCain has been consistant on is his desire for more wars (and his ego). The man is dangerous. Regardless of who you prefer between Clinton and Obama, McCain must be defeated.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
May I ask you for ONE more bit of Civic Help before you rest?
Whilst we're waiting forGeorge's Promised Prayers to roll in, down here in the Tornado-Stricken Mid-South, I might recommend some DIRECT HUMAN INTERACTION.
This Is My Best First Start To Help My Region.
As Scout Prime is to NOLA, I am to the Mid-South area (I LIVE here, and was Live-Blogging these horrible storms all night), and have started to get the help-ball rolling down here. Some of you know where I work. I started a Food Drive there today for the Mid-South United Way Food Bank.
As the area affected is so broad and detached, and everyone in the Country was distracted by politics last night, as yet, there is no central assistance hub set-up. So, at the link, above, you'll find the two agencies with the broadest radius to help the area right now. Both take DIRECT donations.
A small-blog swarm on that (or this) post would be greatly appreciated by more people than just me. I can't describe how wide-spread the damage is down here. It's enormous. The Media, per usual, is only just now waking up to the situation, after their Super-Duper-Let's-All-Wet-Our-Pants-Together- Tuesday Political Hangover. Like NOLA, these are REALLY poor folks down here, and have nothing, and nowhere to go.
A short post about this at YOUR Blog, linking either to my post, above, or directly to the two Orgs mentioned in the post above, would sure be a big help, and would be greatly appreciated by many people who are relying on help. They are all that we have right now.
I just donated a deer's worth of ground venison, along with the 100 pounds of rice and quart-sized ziplock bags that they said that they needed at the United Way Mid-South Food Bank, when I phoned them this morning. Their pantry is BARE, and I'll be loading them up with all the potatoes, rice, veggies, bags, and other staples that I can fit in my truck tomorrow.
This is serious Red State country, and a flood of help from the DFH Left would REALLY make a big difference in a number of good ways.
I thank you all in advance.
Anybody who was thinking about sending help can go here:
Right now, I recommend the:
American Red Cross
1400 Central Avenue
United Way of the Mid-South phone in a donation at (901) 433-4300.
They take DIRECT donations, so you can skip all the National-level waste and delay, AND they serve nearly every community in the effected radius.
I don't ask for much from my readers, but I sure would appreciate some link love on this post-- or better yet-- if you'd work-up something of your own linking to the Mid-South Red Cross Chapter to help this area get back on it's feet, re-building, and healing. It'd mean an awful lot to many. A bit of a small-blog swarm would be a mighty thing.
Many of you know that I'm pretty broke right now, but I still have a house and food. A lot of folks need help now. Monkeyfister, a hearty "Thank You" for what you're doing to help those around you.
A few observations:
There are a lot of poorly informed people out there. I'm sorry to have to tell you that, yes, you must be registered to vote. That is the law. And you are only allowed to vote in the district where you are registered to vote. One of my rolls as an election inspector (the highest authority at the polling place) is explaining to people why they can't vote if they aren't registered. I was even called a "nazi" one time yesterday, but, like it or not, these are the laws in place. My role in the election requires that I comply with, and enforce the laws, regardless of how I feel about them. One simple example is that Arizona has what are called "closed" primaries, where only Democrats can vote in the Democratic primary and only Republicans in the Republican primary. "Independants" are screwed (and there are a lot of independants in Arizona). I'm not a fan of that rule, but on election day I have to enforce it. To all you independants that I had to turn away yesterday, I'm sorry, but the rule has been repeated in all the news media over the past few weeks. Talk to your legislators if you want to change the system.
My district includes the university, and the youth turnout was impressive. Compared to 2004 (I ran the same polling place in 2004), I'd estimate a third more college students voted. Democratic turnout was way up, while Republican turnout was pretty consistent with the 2004 numbers. While he didn't win the state, Barack Obama won big in my district, probably because of the college student vote. On the Republican side, McCain dominated.
I do have to briefly have to rant at Ron Paul supporters: I respect your enthusiasm, but you cannot campaign inside the polling place. It's a simple rule. The polling place is nuetral territory. The 75' limit signs are posted around the polling place. Rally all you want outside the 75' perimiter. All the other campaign followed the rules, but I had to deal with the "Paul people" multiple times (and why didn't your mothers teach you some basic manners?).
A basic partisan difference: Republicans come more prepared than Democrats. Arizona does have an ID requirement. It's fairly liberal as to what qualifies as ID (such as 2 pieces of mail from utilities, banks, or government agencies), but you have to have something. Republicans step up to the check in table with ID in hand, whereas Democrats are likely to require prompting. I'm not sure what it means, but I do think it reflects part of our current political climate.
Paper ballots are a must. Our county uses an optical scan system with paper ballots, and while I've read about problems with optical scan systems, ours worked fine. The final physical count matched the scanner count exactly (our county hand counts 10% of districts, and mine was one of the ones chosen at random for recount). I feel good about that. Regular readers know that I have strong political opinions, but on election day I only care about fairness and accuracy. To all those folks worried about election cheating, I say "get involved" to make sure that all votes are counted. It's easy to become an election worker (call your local elections department to volunteer) and become a part of the process. We can prevent cheating by being present to witness the process in action.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Didn't realize the flawed year till after the envelope of cash had been taped to the door, at a last glance at my taping skills and my hard-earned frogskin.(again into the coffers of an incompetent landlord)
I wonder if folks will still be paying rent in Twenty-Thousand-Eight A.D. Ifn the Earth can still support life as we thunk it, I wonder what the brewers will be up to. That is, if by 20008 A.D., all the yeast on this planet, and all the mushrooms haven't evolved into a superior intelligence and formed an alliance to stay stoned on the human race. Oh yeah- maybe they're already doing that... Hey welcome to my world folks! More on this later
This evening, as I type, I am sampling my first homebrew of Two-Thousand -Eight. Been about 34 days since the mash tun. That's sufficient for a tapping. Can I talk your head off about how proud I am of my latest batch of (all-grain, that is) ale? Well, You, as a 21st century reader, are perhaps flummoxed by long diatribes with too many big words? Mayhap. But if you have gotten this far with this post without scrolling than you probably are not a dumbass.
The color is a very deep amber. Carbonation is perfect- i.e- understated,cyclical;expressive, gallantine and somehow promethean. unforced. I yielded 5.25 gallons of ale, through two glass carboys and many swing-top 16oz bottles. Too bombers.
This from 15 lbs of malted barley, half of it from across the pond, where i hear some are an autonomous collective oppressed by the system
By the year 20008, eggplants will have interbred with lobsters. They are called "eggsters" or "lobplants", depending upon where you are from. Concurrently, kangaroos either grow thumbs or learn how to use them, and almost overnite develop neural rivers in the hippowhatever part of their brains- far exceeding ours. Kangaroos retake Australia. And their brilliant hopping infantry is buttressed by the stalwart lobplant(or eggster) armada. Humans didn't stand a chance.
The last human public official was sentenced to death by Kangaroo Parliament. Drawn and quartered. The ghastly execution personally attended by the "Roopope" or "mullahkanga" depending upon where you are from.
Chinook hops in this batch, and I was glad to find them. Dank. Fragrant. Potent. Not only a great bittering and flavoring hop, but a cool Athabascan tribe to be named after. Chinook indians carved totem poles in their spare time, back in the day. They considered ravens, bears, wolves and killer whales especially holy. And now a great hop was named after them. Another Limey component is the yeast- first suckled on Thames tricklings, hedgehog breath, and the laughter of auburn tressed lassies with parasols and obnoxiously witty dogs.
Of course not!- if you are about to ask me if, as we have already established that saccaramyces cervisae and mycelium basidiomytes , along with kangaroos, will have conquered what we now know as Earth-if humulus lupus- hops, might also develop intelligence far exceeding the capacity of homo dumbass, and form a triumvirate of absolute reign with the yeasties and the boomers. They do not do this. Because not only do we have our pals the kangaroos as a dominant species, but sea otters have developed thumbs and neurotic anachronisms as well. Hop vines have taken over all of what we now know as Norte Amerika. They have formed an alliance with the sea otters. Unfortunately, ravens are siding with the 'roos, as are the hedgehogs and those stalwart comebacks- sabre-tooth tigers. But Mastadons(another dashing comeback) and Killer Whales, all the cetaceans, actually, are on the opposing side.
In the election year of 20008, so i gather (from, perhaps, this my very quaffable and assertive batch of homebrewed ale) the kangaroos have plenty of experience but a less than laudable economic policy. Also, they are not as personable as the sea otter contingent, whom in the last couple of debates have proven themselves superior orators.
Personally, I'm (well i would be) a dyed-in-the-wool Eggster fan.(or Lobplant) But some of the Roo policies are disconcerting to me. Hmmmm... Who should rule the world in 20008? Marsupials or damn near marsupial aquatic mammals that are really fuckin cute- like when they float about on their backs and stuff...
ahhhhh. This here's a fair to middling batch. H'cup.
Monday, February 4, 2008
Best (and most revealing) line from election setup, from the "Republican" judge:
"Who do I have to vote for? Mutt Romney? Juan McCain? Jesus the Huck? I'm glad I'm playing referee, because I don't like any of them. I hope they all lose."
Note: I'm the "Official" "Democrat", so there must be an "Official" "Republican" on the electoral board.
I just try to make sure that every vote counts.
But I will be watching the turnout, as my polling place includes the university.
Buck Naked Politics
Outta the cornfield
Just for starters. This amnesty thing has given me a whole new list of blogs to read. Now I just need a few more hours added to the day.
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Back when this blog was started, there was a purge of the small blogs off the blogrolls of the big blogs. The reaction was led by skippy the bush kangaroo and Jon Swift, who opened their blogrolls to all. Skippy and monkeyfister were amongst the first to welcome Pygalgia onto their rolls, and have continued to be very supportive of our humble efforts.
In "Blogtopia" (y!sctp), there is a wide gulf between the largest and smallest, with many thousand good blogs flying under the radar. I think there is a good analogy in the world of music: everybody knows who The Rolling Stones and Led Zepplin are (i.e. orange and blue), while thousands of great bands are known only to a small audience. The smaller blogs are like the local and niche bands that entertain there audience for little more reward than the joy of "the doing of the thing" (river runner phrase). We're one of those blogs that will never fill a stadium, but hopes to entertain our audience, like the local band. Blogroll Amnesty Day is a chance to recognize and share the contributions of the unique voices of smaller blogs.
When I was building my own blogroll, I chose to include blogs that I enjoy reading. I left the big names off, because I assumed that anyone who cared already knew them. So my initial blogroll included blogs such as Bark Bark Woof Woof, blue meme, hairy fish nuts, If I Ran the Zoo, monkeyfister, swerve left, and the peoples republic of seabrook among others. And I've been expanding it ever since.
While we're supposed to use this day to recognize "smaller" blogs, Pygalgia is pretty small itself. So I'd like to take this opportunity to recognize some of the wonderful blogs that have welcomed us into an ever expanding community.
DCup at PoliTits, Ellroon at Rants From The Rookery, Fixer and Gordon at the alternate brain, Suzy at Luminiferous Ether, Fran at FranIAm, Michael (Whig) at cannablog, and demeur and distributorcap are just some of the fine folks that I consider friends and neighbors. They send me love, and I try to send it back. Check 'em out, along with all the other fine folks on the blogroll.
I'm constantly finding new blogs, and they me. Just in yesterday's comments, I've met the ornery bastard and enigma4ever, both of whom I'll be adding to the blogroll.
So here's an open invitation: My blogroll welcomes small, new, or just interesting blogs. Let me know who you are in the comments or by email, and I'll add you to the 'roll (unless I find you offensive, which rarely happens).