Friday, March 31, 2006

Raitt, Browne, Nash Back Hall's Congressional Bid

March 30, 2006, 11:00 AM ET

Veteran artists Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne and Graham Nash have put their collective weight behind a candidate for a New York Congressional seat. The trio has signed an email soliciting donations on behalf of John Hall, who is running for Congress as a democrat in the 19th District of upstate New York. Hall is best known in music circles as the co-founder of the band Orleans.

Among others, Hall co-wrote Orleans' two biggest hits -- "Still the One," which reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1975, and "Dance With Me," which topped out at No. 6 a year earlier -- before going solo in 1977. Around that time, he became a figure in the growing anti-nuclear movement and a principal member in Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE). He also helped Raitt, Browne and Crosby organize the 1979 No Nukes concerts at New York's Madison Square Garden.

"We think it's fantastic that John has decided to set aside his music career for the time being and dedicate himself to politics for the better of us all," the note from Raitt, Browne and Nash says.

They are encouraging fans to contribute as Hall works to win his party's nomination in a Sept. 12 primary election. Should he win the Democrats' nod, he'll face incumbent Republican Sue Kelly in the Nov. 7 general election.

"Politics has become a millionaire's game, and I am not one," Hall writes on his Web site. "It takes an obscene amount of money to mount a Congressional campaign."

-Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

John Hall's ActBlue Page
(Any small amount would be greatly appreciated.)

Thursday, March 30, 2006


We have conjured up a Magical Birthday Cake, a Heartfelt Poetical Tribute, a special Birthday Song and Pupcakes "to go" as our gifts to Jen, who has grace, compassion and wisdom well beyond her years. Jen's ability to put herself in the place of the repressed and less fortunate is readily apparent to anyone reading her blogs. Jen is a great, caring friend, a champion of the underdog and one "Kickin' Ass" DJ, with a turntable of music you just wouldn't believe! So, on this 30th of March, 2006, we wish our Jen much love and happiness and we bow our heads and pray for the rapid impeachment of Pretzelnut Bush.

Please help yourself to a piece of cake, take a moment to read the Poem written and dedicated to her by Mr. Dors, have a listen to her very expensively commissioned Birthday Song and, most importantly, feel free to leave your Birthday wishes.

And, this wouldn't be a proper Birthday for Jen without some mention of her love of animals. So, we have left out some Pupcakes for you to take home to share with your friends and family. Feel free to take as many as you wish, as they are self-replenishing.

An Article Commentary from Gregg:

I think we all agree that the Democratic Party needs to take more clear stands on issues that affect our country and planet and that those positions need to be hammered and hammered in order to change the world view that has been relentlessly promoted by the right over the last few decades (hyper-individualism, the rule of capital, greed and religious fundamentalism).

Two issues which are connected have, thirty six years after the first Earth Day moved to the frontal lobes and front pages of America. These issues are global warming and energy dependence. The following is excerpted from today’s (3/30/06) Reuters web page:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Americans are nearly as worried about their country's dependence on foreign energy sources as they are about the war in Iraq, a poll released by the magazine Foreign Affairs showed on Thursday.

Almost half of the 1,000 Americans surveyed for the Public Agenda Confidence in U.S. Foreign Policy Index gave U.S. policymakers a failing grade in weaning the country from foreign oil.

Nearly 90 percent said the lack of energy independence jeopardizes national security.

Public Agenda, a nonpartisan group, conducted the poll in early January with funding from the Ford Foundation. It said that Americans are at a "tipping point" on energy, akin to their state of mind about the war.

Daniel Yankelovich, chairman of Public Agenda, said the public reaches a "tipping point" when it is gravely worried about an issue and believes the government has the ability to change matters. When the index was first published in August 2005, only the Iraq war triggered a similar response, he said.

"This time we find that a second issue has reached a tipping point, which is energy independence, and you have a very strong increase in the number of Americans who are intensely worried about the problem," Yankelovich said in a conference call.

"Now with this issue having reached the tipping point in the public I think that that means the political complexion of that issue is about to change considerably," he added.
Last week the news was filled with stories of glaciers melting, global warming being a fact that no longer needs “study” to be accepted as fact, polar bears losing their habitat, etc.

In my view the Democratic Party should quickly formulate a bold, progressive approach to these problems and get out in front of the cranks, neo-cons and radio shows with it. If these issues are at the tipping point the Democrat Party needs to wrap its arms around this national interest and maximize its political potential while simultaneously taking meaningful steps to save the country and planet. One last suggestion: all such initiatives should be expressed in terms of what we need to do for our children and grandchildren … this is the opposite focus of greed, it is the focus of altruism and legacy and it needs to make a comeback big time.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Michigan sets sights on ethanol to become an energy hotbed

The ethanol trend is good news for Michigan, because it is expected to create hundreds of jobs and spur millions of dollars of economic growth in areas that choose to produce and distribute the fuel. [...]

"The energy crisis that has created the thirst for ethanol is that the government told the oil industry to clean up its emissions years ago," said Carroll Knight, owner of more than 100 gas stations in Michigan, Indiana and Iowa. "Ethanol production helps the balance of trade and helps farmers."

With growing uncertainty in the petroleum market and a national mandate to explore new areas of energy, the construction of at least four production plants could be a sign that Michigan plans to be a significant player in the creation of an ethanol corridor in the Midwest. [...]

Article, and more: Detroit Free Press

I guess the latest craze in the news is immigration policy. You got hardliners on the right saying get all the illegals the hell outta here and you've got those in the "happy medium." I don't know what they are saying but it's probably not, get them the hell outta here.

Ok, I was thinking about this, and although a simple solution there is not, solutions are possible but it doesn't quite start here. The majority of "illegal immigrants" are Mexicans. Back in 2000 when Vincente Fox was running he made some sort of promise to make Mexico more like America, which hasn't happened. I kind of think it was a wink-wink situation when bUSH got elected, kind of an agreement that we'd continue to be soft on immigration so Mexico's economy can get the boost from immigrants sending money back home and big business can get cheap labor. I think Mexico's economy is better then shown, they've got oil and NAFTA but I think some of the riches are being skimmed by corrupt government officials.. ok enough on that.

I don't think the solution starts here in America. I think the solution lies in the Mexican people. They are willing to come to this country to provide a future for themselves and their families even if they enter illegally. Standard of living in Mexico probably sucks, they probably don't have laws governing minimum wage, worker safety or worker's rights. Mexicans need to organize and make this stuff happen. Mexicans here and there. Mexicans have a lot of pride in the country they are from, this I know and with where it is going, they have to be disappointed. The only way to change that is to create change has "the people" sort of like we did in America with Labor Unions.

Now for our end of the deal... we need to enact laws that cover those American owned companies in Mexico that say we must provide a decent wage to the workers. I don't think these are in place even through NAFTA, so that needs to happen I think. I don't believe people should be able to enter our nation illegally. It's a crime, obviously. It's also a security issue, IMO. But we've got to face the music. We haven't enforced the laws in many years so we do have illegal immigrants here and lots of them. We need to have a "grace period" where they can register for guest worker status, green cards, naturalization and those kinds of things. Once the grace period is over, those who are illegal still, need to be deported. Right now illegals know we aren't going to do much, so do those who are going to enter. If we show that we will uphold the laws we have that might slow down the influx of illegal immigrants.

I am not a racist bigot. I would just love to say some day "legal immigrants" about all immigrants, instead of "illegal immigrants" about some immigrants today. Our borders do need to remain "open." We ARE the land of oppurtunity. We need to be able to offer oppurtunity to anybody, but as long has they are legal immigrants.

Have you seen the new article, How George W. Bush unified Latin America?

Has Latin America ever had such a unifying figure?

At political rallies, his visage is held aloft as a beacon to regional independence and self-determination. He's helped forge new trade partnerships to spur economic growth and alleviate poverty. And his leadership has fanned a gale-force electoral trend that's sweeping the hemisphere to topple one pro-Washington government after the next.

Who is this grand inductor of Latin American leftism? Venezuelan fireball Hugo Chavez? Blue-collar Brazilian Lula Ignacio da Silva? Bolivia's coca-farmer-cum-president, Evo Morales?

¡Epa! It's George W. Bush, the accidental revolutionary.

In the past five years, the swaggering Texan has inspired a leftward surge that is uniting Latin America and threatening to knock Che Guevara right off all those natty t-shirts.

Now, I've blogged before on the leftward shift of Latin America, but credit must be given to the greatest unifying force that part of the world has seen since Simon Bolivar.

And just to add to the troubles, Manuel Lopez Obrador has continued to lead in polls in Mexico, despite a concerted effort by both of his rivals, PAN candidate Felipe Calderon and PRI candidate Roberto Madrazo, to run a really nasty, American style negative campaign full of personal attacks and innuendo against Lopez Obrador (this is new for Mexico).

In fact, the right in America is in a conundrum about the Mexican election. The Bush administration, having learned from their hard core rhetoric about Iraq in 2002 that bought Gerhard Schroeder three more years, has taken a concilliatory tone on immigration (an issue that resonates in Mexico). But then every time people in his own party talk about building a wall along the border or making illegal immigration a felony, it helps boost Lopez Obrador. I can almost see Bush desperately and uselessly holding his finger to his lips and making a hand gesture to ratchet down the rhetoric at least before the Mexican election in July. And it is hard to suppose that the sudden blitz of American-style negative advertising that both of Lopez Obrador's opponents rolled out in unision doesn't draw at least some inspiration from recent GOP tactics (maybe more than inspiration?)

Regardless of what happens in Mexico, however, one thing is clear: The reason the GOP has suddenly 'discovered' the immigration issue (aside from their usual tactics of finding scapegoats they can use to stampede people into voting for them) is because as long as what came into the country from Latin America was mostly cheap labor, drugs and maybe the occasional terrorist, they may have seen problems in the country, but they personally didn't feel so theatened. But the winds of freedom, now those are dangerous things if you are a Republican.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

God's Word

The Minnesota Democratic Party is called the Democratic Farmer Labor Party or DFL up here in the great white north. Tonight, the DFL Resolutions Committee met at my place to prepare the resolutions ballot for our upcoming senate district convention this Saturday.

Just as we all settled in around the dining room table for work, two Evangelical Christians knocked on the door.

"We're spreading God's Word." one of them said, "Do you all have time to listen?"

There's a push in Minnesota to get GOP leaning voters to the polls in November - er I mean to defend truth, justice, marriage and the American way with an anti-gay amendment - so we've had some strangers in the neighborhood lately.

The 20 somethings were clean cut and well dressed and both looked like God had stamped them out of the primordial clay with the same cookie cutter (no - all Evangelical Christians do not look alike me so don't give me a hard time).

"Does it welcome Gays?" I asked.

They had trouble with that question and asked me "Does it what?"

"Does the message you're spreading welcome Gays?" I asked again.

"No it does not." one of them said.

"Well, then I doubt very much that it's God Word." I said. "So, No - I don't have the time."

Then I smiled, wished them a great evening and closed the door.

And the members of DFL Resolutions Committee who were looking on cheered.

Resolution 3.3 "The DFL opposes any amendment to the Minnesota State Constitution that prohibits or limits marriage, civil unions, and/or legal protections for same-sex couples." will likely pass this Saturday, up here in God's country, with 503 YES votes and 0 NO votes.

A warm 'welcome aboard' also to


our newest contributor
at Night Bird's Fountain!

As I am sure you all remember, Mack, a former blogger here at Night Bird's Fountain, decided to take some time off from blogging. He was searching for focus and a way to make use of his time to make a difference in something he truly believed in.

Well, by the looks of this article in the Chattanooga Times, he has quickly found his focus.

Rick Casares with the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition said efforts to seal the borders overlook the fact that the United States needs nearly 500,000 lowskilled workers to keep its economy going.

"If we don’t include a more comprehensive reform, we are just going to increase the suffering of a group of people made up of largely hardworking families," he said.

Immigration reform advocates rallied Monday at the U.S. Capitol after weekend rallies drew protesters in cities such as Los Angeles, Dallas, Phoenix and Milwaukee."It is important we don’t exploit this work force for a period of time and then say, ‘Thanks, now get out,’" Mr. Casares said. "Smart reforms will provide a way for them to become citizens."

I raise my glass in a huge congratulatory toast to Mack. I couldn't be more proud of him. And, it certainly looks like he took the right path.

A warm 'welcome aboard' to


our new contributor

at Night Bird's Fountain!

Inflammatory Opinion:
The Belt of Justice

On Sunday, I published an editorial in which I called on candidates in the 2008 Presidential Election to pledge commitment to the establishment of a Truth Commission of the United States of America to investigate and expose the extensive and multi-faceted wrongdoing that has been the legacy of the Bush Administration. The support I have received is welcome and heartening, and the criticisms have been legitimate. In the present article, I offer clarity in precisely why the remedy of a Truth Commission would be effective despite the many in this country who remain supportive of President Bush and the Republicans who have prosecuted the agenda of neo-conservatism.

What I am about to write here may trouble some readers, particularly because I must unabashedly put on display that side of my views decidedly not in keeping with my more progressive, tolerant side. In advance, I forewarn that what I write below might not sit well with many, and I shall understand that discomfort. In some ways, it troubles even me that my patience with neo-conservatism has become so truncated that I must revert to attitudes within myself that pose in such harshness. That, unfortunately, is one of the many downsides of becoming agéd: patience in some areas of life takes the form of a precious commodity to be reserved only for those worthy of it. Neo-conservatives and Right-wing evangelicals have fallen off my list of those for whom patience, tolerance, and acceptance is warranted. I trust that they shall never again find their way to the limited space that remains within my soul for good will. With that caution in preface, suffer now my statement of position.

I have no delusions about the American people. Enough of them liked the mean, nasty, hateful words, ways, and innuendos of the Republicans to turn this into one of the grimmest chapters in American history. People like that don't change their stripes, and they certainly wouldn't do so in the span of a mere few years.

Those same people whose rah-rah, kick-some-ass-Georgie mentality got us into this mess are still out there all around us, and their attitudes now are every bit as disgusting as they were.

But those same people, like the people of every age, are craven and cowardly. When their former heroes get hanged in the public square, they'll be nowhere in sight to protest the swinging of the apes.

At worst, they'll hide in their homes grumbling about the horror of it all; at best, they'll feign shock and dismay at the "betrayal" by their former heroes, and they'll swear to God they had "no idea."

Bull. That's the same apology of the Germans as the truth about the Third Reich got rammed down their throats in the years after World War II. The facts shut up the Hitler generation and allowed a much more benign couple of generations to grow up. It took all of fifty years for Fascism to become once again fashionable in European polite company and its hate speech to become wholly defensible by American liberals.

We may yet again have to beat the Hell out of its ugly pigs over there in the decades to come, but at least we had more than half a century of peace and quiet, in no small part because the common people by the millions who had grovelingly supported Hitler, Mussolini, and their ilk laid low, died quietly, and got buried with their hate and their stash of commemorative swastikas.

That's how it can be here, too; but this will happen only if there is a loud enough, authoritative enough, and harsh enough presence standing in judgment over the leaders of this failed neo-con rebellion against the American rule of law and the progressed civil society we were achieving.

That is the dual purpose of a truth commission in every country where one has been established: not only does it expose and punish the wrong-doers who had infected and perverted the government, but it also puts their miserable supporters whose mentality had infected the society on notice that they weren't just wrong, they were also bad.

And, no, by that I don't mean they had bad ideas; I mean they were bad.

I might not be able to make a bad kid into a good one, but I can sure as Hell scare him into keeping his bad behavior to himself. If he wants to act like a hellian in his own private little bedroom, that's fine; but I want him to understand that, not only is his kind known for its ways, but if he ever again shows those attitudes in public, he'll get the same treatment as those he thought were so cool for their destructive malevolence that caused so much pain before.

That might not sound like a particularly caring, liberal way of thinking on my part, but then again, I have never called myself a "liberal" here or anywhere. I may be progressive—Lord knows, I might very well even be a Progressive—but speaking as an anachronistic version of old-time, Rockefeller-type conservativism (and this is just between you all and me, mind you), I really do know what a belt is for; and God knows, there isn't any other remedy of which I know that will cure this country of its current brand of Republicanism.

When a gang of kids has spent the past week tearing up the house, the first and most important thing I need to do is to turn the ringleaders over my knee for the swift Belt of Justice. I mete out the punishment right where the other kids can see it, and I make the sound of righteousness hitting paydirt ring thoughout the land. The rest of those malcontent kids will suddenly turn into the nicest, sweetest, most God-fearing little angels anyone would ever want to have to help clean up the mess they'd made.

That's how we used to take care of bad kids, anyway; and speaking here as an old-time conservative, it's high time we returned to some old-fashioned values in this country.

Let freedom ring? You bet. But not until the belt swings.

The Dark Wraith has spoken.

This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.

Not so long ago, Karl Rove said that this election would be run on 'security.' (well, what else can he say? That it would be about ethics? Iraq? Quality jobs? Health care?)

So, apparently Republicans consider 'security' to be their strong suit. And then today we learn that two teams of undercover agents smuggled dirty bomb components into the U.S. while using false documents.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Two teams of government investigators using fake documents were able to enter the United States with enough radioactive sources to make two dirty bombs, according to a federal report made available Monday.

The investigators purchased a "small quantity" of radioactive materials from a commercial source, according to a Government Accountability Office report prepared for Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations Chairman Norm Coleman, a Minnesota Republican.

The investigators posed as employees of a fictitious company and brought the materials into the United States through checkpoints on the northern and southern borders, the report stated.

That makes you feel secure, doesn't it?

Of course, in the wake of 9/11, we were told that billions were being spent on the Homeland Security Department so that first responders and others could respond to disasters in a timely manner. Tell that to people still waiting for a FEMA trailer in Houston or Atlanta (and tell me, would things have been any different at all if a terrorist had blown up a nuke in New Orleans?) Billions spent, and when the real test came, total and complete failure.

Then we recently had the Dubai ports deal. Conservatives defended it, but even the 9/11 commission had reported that officials from the United Arab Emirates had hosted bin Laden at their hunting camp in Afghanistan six months after the African embassy bombings.

Heck, even security at airports is questionable. Last year, almost four years after September 11, Phoenix police had two shootouts within a week's time with car thieves who had crashed through barriers and driven stolen cars out onto the tarmac at Sky Harbor airport. And it happened twice, showing that they didn't bother to fix the problem the first time.

In fact, under George Bush, the zetas have been allowed to infiltrate pretty much unopposed into the United States. Haven't heard of them? you probably don't want to. And don't write too much about them, they shoot reporters who name their leadership.

And, they have forced local police departments to spend lots of unreimbursed money on overtime every time there is a terror alert (even in very underpopulated rural counties like this one), and so they have less to spend on routine patrols (meaning I have less to fear from terrorists, but more from the local hoods).

Yeah, so now Republicans want to run on security.

They've given us lots of reasons to feel secure, don't you agree?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Artistic Blogger, Issue #5:
The Seat of the Problem

Your Identity for Sale

Are you worried that someone may steal your identity and then spend you into bankruptcy? No need to worry about identity theft. It will soon be possible to do it legally, by permission of the IRS. Believe it or not, that formidable organization is promulgating a new rule that will allow your tax preparer to sell the information on your tax form. Your identity is for sale - LEGALLY.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer:

"The IRS is quietly moving to loosen the once-inviolable privacy of federal income-tax returns. If it succeeds, accountants and other tax-return preparers will be able to sell information from individual returns - or even entire returns - to marketers and data brokers."

Republicans have been denigrating privacy for a long time. They say things like:"What is so important about privacy? "If you have nothing to hide why worry?" According to Justices Roberts, Thomas and Alito, there is no right to privacy. These justices want to strip citizens of their privacy with reference to sexual activity in the home; it shows up in their opposition to same-sex marriage, abortion and other non-conventional private behavior.

Now Republicans are stripping privacy protection from money information. Are we going to let them get away with it?

Full Article

Inflammatory Opinion:
The Clear and Compelling Case for a Truth Commission

Newsweek magazine is reporting in its online edition with dateline April 3, 2006, that U.S. Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, in unpublished remarks on March 8 before an audience at the University of Freiberg, Switzerland, declared that "War is war, and it has never been the case that when you captured a combatant you have to give them [sic] a jury trial in your civil courts... Give me a break." This week, the case Hamdan v. Rumsfeld of a detainee from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. Associate Justice Scalia has made no offer to recuse himself because of his prejudicial remarks on the merits of cases like the one to be presented to him and the other eight Justices.

Mr. Scalia's remarks drew "quite an uproar," according to a member of the law faculty of the University of Freiburg. Apparently, at one point during Mr. Scalia's talk, he was challenged by a member of the audience who reminded him of applicable U.S. treaty obligations, a counterpoint that caused the Associate Justice to rant, "If [a detainee] was captured by my army on a battlefield, that is where he belongs," a stunning statement (aside from Mr. Scalia's description of 'my army'):

  • many of the Gitmo detainees were in fact not captured in any combat situation;
  • the Geneva Conventions protocols to which the United States is a signatory explicitly set forth the matters regarding battlefield captures;
  • and the United States was the aggressor nation in both Iraq and Afghanistan, where most of the current detainees were originally found, although neither nation yielded the principal target for which the assaults were justified prior to action, which was the top leadership al-Qa'ida.
Because of the virtual blanket immunity of Supreme Court Justices to consequences from the decisions they render and the conditions of personal belief and professional conduct under which they render those decisions, Mr. Scalia will likely face no material sanction should he proceed with what is now his apparent intention to participate in the adjudication of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld.

This becomes further evidence that the United States Congress, President, and Judiciary are in no way prepared to once and for all come to grips with the legacy of the Bush Administration and the neo-conservative radicals who have taken over the halls of the legislature, the executive branch, and the federal courts. At this point, nothing short of the appointment by the next President of the United States of a Truth Commission with nearly absolute subpoena powers will serve to extract from the participants in this degradation of the Republic the details of and truth about the actions they committed, the decisions they made, and the extent of the harm they caused.

It is to the end of the eventual establishment of such an independent investigatory body that I shall in the months ahead ask others to join me in demanding of any candidate running for the Office of the President of the United States in 2008 that he or she commit to the establishment of a Truth Commission of the United States of America within 90 days of assuming office, and that this Truth Commission comprise independent members without any connection whatsoever to those who have been the architects and engineers of the policies of the Bush Administration. As suggested, this Truth Commission must be vested of full powers to subpoena any person deemed necessary, be he or she a politician, a military official, or a member of the judiciary; and the Commission must be charged with having no duty to negotiate any terms upon which testimony will be rendered by any person so subpoenaed. In other words, with regard to this second point, the results of the Truth Commission of the United States will not be suspect and thoroughly tainted as were the results of the 9/11 Commission or the criminal investigation by federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald of the outing for political revenge of non-official cover operative Valerie Plame.

In the months ahead, I shall more fully and formally press this demand upon candidates, and I shall make it the first requirement of any candidate seeking my assistance, financial support, and/or endorsement. No less than a Truth Commission will right what has happened during the Bush Administration, and no less than harsh, swift, and certain justice of retribution rendered upon the neo-conservatives and their social and political allies will ensure that this era is not soon repeated.

The Dark Wraith has spoken.

This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.

March in April

March For Peace, Justice And Democracy
Saturday April 29, 2006
New York City

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Wraith Classics:
Aftermath of the 2004 Presidential Election

This is the first in an occasional series of posts offering readers here at Night Bird's Fountain some of the original writings I authored in and for other venues. This series will comprise an eclectic mix. Included will be articles written when I was a business consultant, as well as selections from contributions I made as the Selig Wraith (the Blesséd Ghost) in the Medieval History Forum of, where I created and contributed to a thread entitled, "A Once and Future Language," which was my platform to teach and answer questions about the history and current trends in the English language. That thread still stands as the longest ever created in the Medieval History Forum. Wraith Classics will also present comments and analyses I posted on message boards and blogs before the launch of my own blog, The Dark Wraith Forums.

Regular readers here know that my writings vary from the straight, expository lectures on through to slice-of-life factual and fictional narratives. Occasionally, I use the vehicle of a play to make a point.

To launch this series, I am republishing in extended form a play I wrote and posted in a comment thread at AmericaBlog late on the evening of November 11, 2004. This was, of course, shortly after the 2004 Presidential Election, when the comments at AmericaBlog and other progressive sites had become decidedly downbeat with the defeat of John Kerry by George W. Bush. Hope was fading that anything could be done to change the outcome of the election, despite rumors already swirling of vote fraud, particularly in Ohio but in other states, as well. At the time I wrote this play, my principal intention was to bring a touch of levity to depressed readers, but I also wanted to poke minor, if irreverent and slightly blasphemous, fun at both the Republicans and the Democrats.

My intention in this current republication of that little play is different. In my judgment, the Democratic Party is driving headlong toward the same mistakes it made in 2004, when the chosen candidate declined one opportunity after another to deal with the viciousness, mendacity, and hatefulness of the Republicans. The cowardice that John Kerry showed both before and after the election was a tribute to the dominance of the Republican strategy in an era of voter ignorance, mean-spiritedness, and tolerance of corruption of purpose and morals. Playing nice, being dignified, and posing with reason were trumped by the Republicans, who neither cared for those rules nor abided by them. To imagine that somehow the fundamental dynamic has changed is to hope for politics to move toward some old-fashioned, largely repudiated, entirely obsolete, and somewhat mythical strategy. Hardly ever does politics move toward strategy; rather, the successful politician moves his or her strategy toward the politics of the era.

According to important Democratic consultants, we bloggers in Blogosphere Left 2.0 are irrelevant. We're too strident, we're too untamed, and we just don't understand. These charges are all too true. Unlike conservative bloggers, who march in lock-step grinds of Party Line diatribes, we in Blogosphere Left 2.0 are a cacaphony of voices coming from all different directions, having rather disparate focuses of primary interest and showing a growing intolerance for our very own politicians and their groveling, cowering appeasement of the black-hearted hate machine of neo-conservatism and its nasty apostasy of Right-wing evangelicalism.

The Democrats who would pose to win our approval must be forewarned, however. We bloggers can be very creative, and we have no qualms about making appeasers within our ranks the object of our derision. We can make laughing stocks of cowards, and we can do it in many ways, from many angles, and from thousands of places both here in cyberspace and in the world of the meat puppets. This is what we do: we disrespect institutional rigor mortus, we disrupt the best laid plans of our more respectable and reputable betters, and we enjoy our craft like some people enjoy chocolate, sex, and low-amperage cattle prods.

I digress.

Without further ado, from mid-November of the year 2004, the Dark Wraith herewith presents the Director's Cut of the re-release of...

The 2004 Presidential Smackdown Extravaganza

Camera and music on cue... three, two, one, and... GO!

[Blaring, high-energy music]

[World Political Wrestling Federation Logo fast-zoom. Flame burst across screen.]

[Camera 3 pan audience. Hard-in zoom on screaming fans.]

[Camera 1, face-on: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Satan]

[Cue Schwarzenegger]

Schwarzenegger: Vee are heer aht the Peoria Ceevic Center for the BEEgest tag-team match in the heestory of the universe.

Satan: That's right, Arny. ToNIGHT, it's the tag team of George "The DUH-bya" Bush and Dick "The Dick" Cheney going head-to-head with Jesus Christ and John Kerry!

Schwarzenegger: VAHT a fight eeet's going to be: A no-holds-barred, veeenner-take-all, three-round battle for control of the Earth!

Satan: Well, everyone knows which side Arny and I will be cheering for; but we know it's going to be one helluva match, if you'll forgive that little self-promotion.

Schwarzenegger: Of course vee vill. The majority of Americans vant our team to vin, anyvay.


Announcer: LAYDEEEEES... and... GYENTLEMEN! The Dark Wraith Forums Production Company in association with Way Over the Top Entertainment, LLC, proudly brings you the The 2004 Presidential Smackdown Extravaganza! In THIS corner, the WINNER of the ANNO DOMINI 2000 AND the ANNO DOMINI 2004 United States Presidential Elections, MR. GEEEEEEEEORGE "The DUH-bya" BUSH and DICK "The Dick" CHENEY!

(Crowd goes bananas, cheering wildly)

Announcer: And in THIS corner, the LORD JAY-SUS "The Savior" CHRIST and JOHN "The Loser" KERRY!

(CROWD boos, hisses)

(Round card girl—Donald Rumsfeld in drag—circles the mat holding up Round One card.)



We'll be right back.

Commercial RG1 On.
Friends, are yew in need of Salvation? Has yer life turned into a hedonistic Democratic orgy of lustfulness, desire, and delicate French pastries at Barnes & Noble? Do you read literature other than the Living Word of God in the Bible and tracts written by the Reverend Thomas H. Girdlestamp?

Well, it's time for YEW t' come home to the grace that only the Reverend Girdlestamp can offer. Call our toll-free number right now, and we'll send yew, without obligation, our 36-page pamphlet, "Say 'YES!' to the Lord, Say 'NO! to Your Groin." We have operators standing by t' pray with you for Eternal Salvation. Yer donations can be made right there on our Prayer Hotline. Major credit cards are accepted.

So call right now, before another minute passes. Remember: Gawd loves yew, but He ain't got no problem with throwin' yew into Hell if yer a sinner.

[Blast music, WPWF Logo fast-zoom. Flame burst across screen.]

[Camera 5, 45-side-on: Satan and Schwarzenegger, turn to camera]

[Cue Schwarzenegger]

Schwarzenegger: Just eeen time. Vill the sorry-ass team of Kerry and Jesus even last three rounds?

Satan: I don't know, Arny. They're already broken. You can see it: Kerry's slow, and those weak knees of his are starting to buckle every time he tries to put up his dukes. And that Jesus character: who would've believed the 'Messiah' would be such a wimp when it comes to death, destruction, and oppressive occupation? Looks like that 'forgive your enemies' strategy is about to meet the big-time, real-world whammy.

Schwarzenegger: Zee bell ees about to...


(Crowd roars.)

Jesus steps out into ring from right corner.
Cheney strides out from left corner.

Jesus opens his arms, palms of hands revealing scars of the Crucifixion: "Welcome, my son."

Cheney roars, "FUCK you, Jesus!" and grabs Jesus by the throat, lifts Him into the air, spinning Him 'round and 'round.

Jesus cries, "FATHER, why hast Thou forsaken me this soon?!"

Cheney bawls, "Mushroom clouds! MUSHROOM CLOUDS!!!" and slams Jesus to the mat, grabs his foot, and starts twisting it.

Kerry reaches as far into the ring as he can, screaming: "TAG ME, JESUS! TAG ME! I'm ready for battle! I'll SAVE YOU!"

Jesus claws his way toward Kerry but suddenly gets dragged to the middle of the ring. Cheney jumps up, runs at ropes, bounces off, makes flying dive onto the Lord's chest.

DUH-bya screams from ringside, "Lemme at 'im, lemme at 'im. C'mon, Dick, you PROMISED I could do something. I'm a BIG boy! I flew an airplane!"

Cheney gets up slowly and deliberately. Jesus lies still, eyes glazed. Cheney walks toward the corner of the ring and picks up giant remote control device. "Okay, George. GO GIT 'EM!"

Cheney starts pressing buttons furiously as Bush climbs into ring. DUH-bya yells, "Axis of EVIL. Weapons o' Mass Destruction. Long-term effects of alcohol and cocaine. Mission Accomplished. Served with honor. No one saw Jeff on top, so it doesn't count."

Jesus grovels to the side of the ring, tags Kerry.

Kerry leaps into ring, runs at Bush.

Cheney grabs M60 machine gun and starts firing wildly.


Jesus dives for cover. Kerry hollers: "I'm gonna charge that machine gun nest!" Cheney aims at Kerry, fires point-blank. Kerry shrieks, "I'm HIT! I'm HIT! He got me right in the ass! MEDIC! MEDIC!... I want a Purple Heart for this!"

Kerry staggers backward, tags Jesus.


We'll be right back.

Commercial GW1 On.
[Smirking middle-aged man] I used to have a limp you-know-what. Couldn't pulse beef worth a damn... Then I tried Porkalis... And now... [Blaring trombones; cut to picture of the Matterhorn]

[Deep male voice-over] Ask your doctor about Porkalis. See if it's right for you. Side effects may include blood loss to small brains; uncontrolled sense of being attractive when actually old, fat, and ugly; and certain gristly tissues bursting into giant, flaming torch. Use only as directed on fire extinguisher.

[Blast music, WPWF Logo fast-zoom. Unfortunately coincidental flame burst across screen.]

[Camera 1, face-on]


Schwarzenegger: VAHT A FIGHT!

Satan: You SAID it, Arny. This was billed as the Battle of the Apocalypse, and it sure IS. Goddamn! I've never seen anything LIKE it! Dick and DUH-bya CONTROL the agenda, no doubt ABOUT it.

Schwarzenegger: Jesus and John have no plan, no strategy. Did you SEE the way Kerry was flip-flopping around after he got hit with that round from the M60?!

Satan: And look at JESUS: Just lying there acting like some kind of martyr!

(Round-Card Rumsfeld parades around the ring, holding up ROUND TWO card.)


Jesus staggers into the center of the ring. DUH-bya, controlled by Cheney's remote from ringside, lands blow after blow, backing the Lord into a corner. DUH-bya pushes Jesus's upper body under top rope, flips Him over so His body is tangled between top and middle ropes.

DUH-bya turns around to wave to the crowd. Crowd shrieks approval of twisting Christ to conform to Bush's agenda.

Satan: I don't see John Kerry ANYWHERE around.

Schwarzenegger: He's over there in front of the judges testifying about the atrocities going on in the ring.

Satan (laughing): A lot of good THAT'LL do. (mocking) Boo-hoo-hoo.

While George is busy waving to his fans, Jesus has managed to untangle Himself. Without anyone seeing how He got there, He's suddenly standing on top of a corner ring post, towering over DUH-bya.

(Crowd howls hysterically.)

Satan: Oh, my GOD! Jesus is about to lower the BOOM on George.

Schwarzenegger: Vaht can save heeem, NOW?!

Suddenly, Cheney leaps back into the ring and knocks George out of the way as Jesus descends upon His enemy. Jesus hits the ground with a THUD, lies unconscious.

Kerry scrambles under ropes into the ring, yells to Cheney: "You can't DO that!"


George rushes over, flips Jesus on his back, pins His shoulders to the mat.

Referee: ONE... TWO...


We'll be right back.

Commercial RC1 On.
[Female voice-over; somber violin music] The Republican National Committee needs your help. As we speak, America is being overrun by Democrats on every street corner, encouraging young boys into homosexual encounters at local YMCAs, telling girls it's okay to have multiple abortions after rape and incest, putting help wanted ads in newspapers to draw women away from their homes and families, making God-fearing American men sympathize with the billions of Muslim terrorists all over the world, and teaching impressionable college students how to use the American flag for toilet paper.

[Switch to up-beat, redneck/techno-pop fusion music] But the Republican National Committee is at the forefront of the war to protect our dear, beloved country from the people who hate it. This vile, liberal scum CAN be stopped and its minions sent to secret prisons for testicular electrification and disembowelment. But we need your donations. Send them in now, or make a donation at your local Right-wing church, where God is on your side... and ours!

[Blast music, WPWF Logo fast-zoom. Flame burst across screen.]

[Camera 1, backed out, face-on to Schwarzenegger and Satan. Pull in, Schwarzenegger.]


Schwarzenegger: I AM EXHAUSTED!

Satan: SO AM I. Can you BELIEVE it? The Lord Jesus Christ saved by some idiotic technicality like the end-of-round bell? Where's the justice?!

Schwarzenegger: Kerry and Christ are broken, defeated, hated by the majority of the audience! Why don't they just throw in the towel right NOW?

Satan: John Kerry is such an EMBARRASSMENT! Jesus could have joined the Bush/Cheney ticket, but instead, He chose the losing side... once AGAIN. Will he ever LEARN? This round's gonna be ugly, I can feel it in my bones, can't you, Muscle Man?

Schwarzenegger: I sure can, O Summoner of Blood Rivers. The end is at hand, and VEE are here to see it!

Round-Card Rumsfeld prances around the ring, holding up ROUND THREE card.


Kerry marches forward, salutes. Cheney and Bush, together in ring, give him a double head slap. Kerry stands firm, refuses to address personal assault.

[Ear splitting, roaring engine sound fills auditorium] VROOOOM! VROO-VROOO-VRRROOOMMMM!!


Schwarzenegger: And she's accessorizing with a 1973 Harley-Davidson!

Satan: What STYLE!

(Crowd screams in complete hysteria.)

DUH-bya and Cheney grab Kerry and haul him into the air, rushing him toward ringside where Mary Cheney is standing, leaning forward. George and Dick heave Kerry over the ropes and slam him down right into Mary's horns.

(Crowd shrieks.)

Satan (bawling above mob): HO-LEEE MOSES!! They just GORED Kerry!!!

Schwarzenegger: VAHT an END to a caREER.

Kerry slumps over, falls off hat, tags Jesus as he crumples onto the floor of the arena outside the ring.

Jesus goes under ropes into the ring and stands up directly in front of Dick and DUH-bya.

Cheney cries out, "Where is your kingdom, NOW?"

Bush echoes, "Yeah, where is your kingdom, NOW?"

Together, they step forward, flogging Christ, driving Him backward into a corner of the ring.

Satan: They're gonna CRUCIFY Jesus!

Cheney snarls, "Join me or DIE, Sweet Jesus!"

Jesus turns to look for Kerry, but he's gone. All alone, Jesus stands, waiting for the EndTime.

All of a sudden, beside Him are standing men and women: My Pet Goat, OddJob, Lizzy, Wild Clover, Barbi, elf, Trailer Trash, Shakespeare's Sister, Jen, Gary A., PoliShifter, Dread Pirate Roberts, Lily, Paul the Spud, Missouri Mule, Phoenician in a time of Romans, Chief, BlondeSense Liz, Old White Lady, Fat Lady Sings, DemiOrator, BadTux, Culture Ghost, Green Knight, Elise, meEE, Karen M, Lisa Renee, Pam, Julien, Guy Andrew Hall, Kenneth Quinnell, Ron Brynaert, Charlie, isabelita, Eric Hopp, Mary, Debra, blackdog, Eli Blake, Radical Russ, No Blood for Hubris, Tim, Kate, Cyn, Misty, Lab Kat, Me4President, Stealth Badger, Charles Perez, Gary, Mixter, Cherizac, ROF, Red State Blues, dorsano, Gordon, LindiB, SB Gypsy, Lymond, binky, Treban, DonViti, Pissed Off Patricia, Mr. Shakes, Dark Daughta, Chuck, Deborah, Peter of Lone Tree, Ben Wood, Wadena, Holly, Anntichrist S. Coulter, Progressive Traditionalist, NC Gal, Siri, Luther, T. Rogers, Culture Ghost, DeLLBerto, Left Behind Child, eponymous, litbrit, Andi Allen, Fixer, badgerpup, actor212, ROF, Kathy, D., Jaye Ramsey Sutter, and a Host of Angels, all proclaiming, GLORY BE TO THE PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT!


DUH-bya and Dick kick Jesus's ass.

Referee: ONE... TWO... THREEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Schwarzenegger: Vell, that's eet from the Peoria Ceeevic Center Arena, vhere you've just veeetnessed George "The DUH-bya" Bush and Richard "The Dick" Cheney destroy all hope for the future of the human race!

Satan: Right you ARE, Arny. It was EVERYTHING a politics and religion fanatic could've hoped for! And now begins The Thousand Year Reign of Blackness.

Schwarzenegger: I'm Ahnold Svahtzenekkehr.

Satan: And I'm Satan. Good night, and may God bless you... NOT!

[Music fast fade-in]
[Logo on screen.]
[Camera 7 pan empty arena]
[Camera 6 outside shot of Civic Center; demons swooping down, snatching fans' souls and dragging them down into Hell]
[Fade to black]


(Darkened arena. Lone janitor sweeping aisleways.)

Small stage door creaks open. Head peeks out, looks around.

Janitor (looking startled): Who're YOU?

Figure in doorway: I'm John Kerry. I used to be a contender.

Janitor: Oh. Well, I'm Dark Wraith; I'm just the janitor. The closest exit is over there, sir. Please make sure the door locks behind you on your way out.

Kerry (walking out the exit): Thank you for your support.

Janitor: You're quite welcome, Mr. Kerry.

(Door closes.)


Janitor: Asshole.

The Dark Wraith Forums Production Company
in association with
Way Over the Top Entertainment, LLC

The Dark Wraith bows to the applauding audience.

This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.

Exploring Mars

Probe returns first Mars pictures

BBC, Saturday, 25 March 2006

Scientists are studying the first pictures taken of the surface of the Red Planet by a high-resolution camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The spacecraft arrived at the planet two weeks ago with a mission to map the world in unprecedented detail.

The test images released by the US space agency (Nasa) on Friday show a 50km swathe of land in the planet's mid-latitude southern highlands.

The probe is currently correcting its orbit and commissioning instruments.

Three cameras were used to take the crisp black and white images.

Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said the smallest objects that can be made out are about 7.6 m across, but that once the obiter descends to a lower mapping orbit the camera will be able to pick out objects just under one metre across.

Over a period of months the craft's orbit will dip lower and lower until it
asiado en responder dos preguntas y me exprese lo mejor que pude, pero en la ultima parte no pude ordenar muy bien las ideas que quería decir debido a eso, pero para la otra tratare de ser mucho mas rápido al responder mis preguntas, pero en si esta actividad se me hizo muy buena y además muy interesante maestra.

RELATED LINKS: (Again ... tsk! Sheesh!)

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

First image from newly arrived camera.

Detail of first image from newly arrived camera

NASA‘s Mars Exploration Program

Hundreds of students from Montebello High, Garfield High and Roosevelt High walk along Whittier Boulevard to Soto Street.

Friday, March 24, 2006

A Message to:

Greedy Ol' Pandering Politicians

and their media propaganda spin machine.

Women want to Clean the House

I am exhilarated at the New York Times preception that women are the key for the Democrats in Congressional Campaigns nationwide.

"If the Democrats have their way, the 2006 Congressional elections will be the revenge of the mommy party.

Democratic women are running major campaigns in nearly half of the two dozen most competitive House races where their party hopes to pick up enough Republican seats to regain control of the House. Democratic strategists are betting that the voters' unrest and hunger for change — reflected consistently in public opinion polls — create the perfect conditions for their party's female candidates this year.

I do not know if I am completely at ease with the words "revenge of the mommy party." Democratic revenging mothers are running for Congress, just does not sit right with me. I think I would have preferred something more along the lines of "Dem women are planning on taking back the House."

Moreover, Democratic strategists hope to frame these midterm races as a classic change-versus-status-quo election — which, they say, makes women, running as outsiders against a "culture of corruption," the perfect messengers.

So of the 435-seat House of Representatives, there are 43 Democratic women messengers running. Illinois just held their primary and Tammy Duckworth is the winner, more or less. Ken Rubin wrote:

Duckworth refused to run as an anti-war candidate. Her views on Iraq were either more tempered, designed to appeal to the Republican majority of the district, or squishy, depending on your perspective. Cegelis, on the other hand, ran as an out-and-out peace candidate, winning the backing of Democracy for America (once run by Howard Dean and now run by his brother Jim) and other assorted liberal groups. And when the votes were counted, Duckworth, as expected, won. But she won by only three percentage points -- a stunningly close race, given her financial advantage, endorsements and compelling personal story. The moral out of the 6th CD primary: Celebrity is nice, but message counts as well. It's nice to run as an Iraq war vet and be charismatic, but having something to say might not be a bad idea, either.
These are some of the women running for Congress. They all have something to say.

Arizona: Susan Friedman, Gabrielle Giffords, Patty Weiss

California: Francine Busby, Jill Martinez, Karen Otter, Marcy Winograd

Colorado: Peggy Lamm, Angie Paccione

Connecticut: Diane Farrell

Florida: Kathy Castor, Carol McLean, Jan Schneider

Illinois: Tammy Duckworth

Indiana: Katherine Carr, Gretchen Clearwater

Iowa: Joyce Shulte

Kansas: Nancy Boyda

Maryland: Paula Hollinger, Janet Owens

Michigan: Sharon Renier Rhonda Ross, Nancy Skinner

Minnesota: Gail Dorfman, Ann Knapp, Amy Klobuchar, Sharon Marko Colleen Rowley, Julie Sabo, Patty Wetterling, Rebecca Yanisch

Missouri: Veronica Hambacker, Sara Jo Shettles

Montana: Monica Lindeen

Nevada: Jill Derby, Tessa Hafen

New Hampshire: Carol Shea-Porter

New Jersey: Linda Stender

New Mexico: Patricia Madrid

New York: Paloma Capanna, Kirsten Gillbrand, Christina Rossetti

Ohio: Mary Jo Kilroy, Jennifer Stewart, Stephanie Studebaker, Betty Sutton, Robin Weirauch

Oklahoma: Patricia Presley

Oregon: Carol Voisin

Pennsylvania: Georgie Berner, Lois Herr, Lois Murphy

Rhode Island: Jennifer Lawless

Texas: Mary Beth Harrell

Washington: Darcy Burner

I seem to have more than 43 women here, and I did not even include all from Minnesota. The names were found at Politics1. If there is some discrepancies just leave me a comment and I will fix them.

More people could enjoy the sunrise
if it were scheduled later in the day.


Thursday, March 23, 2006

"The Only Moral Abortion is My Abortion"
When the Anti-Choice Choose

By Joyce Arthur

Copyright © September, 2000

Abortion is a highly personal decision that many women are sure they'll never have to think about until they're suddenly faced with an unexpected pregnancy. But this can happen to anyone, including women who are strongly anti-choice. So what does an anti-choice woman do when she experiences an unwanted pregnancy herself? Often, she will grin and bear it, so to speak, but frequently, she opts for the solution she would deny to other women -- abortion.

In the spring of 2000, I collected the following anecdotes directly from abortion doctors and other clinic staff in North America, Australia, and Europe. The stories are presented in the providers' own words, with minor editing for grammar, clarity, and brevity. Names have been omitted to protect privacy.

"I have done several abortions on women who have regularly picketed my clinics, including a 16 year old schoolgirl who came back to picket the day after her abortion, about three years ago. During her whole stay at the clinic, we felt that she was not quite right, but there were no real warning bells. She insisted that the abortion was her idea and assured us that all was OK. She went through the procedure very smoothly and was discharged with no problems. A quite routine operation. Next morning she was with her mother and several school mates in front of the clinic with the usual anti posters and chants. It appears that she got the abortion she needed and still displayed the appropriate anti views expected of her by her parents, teachers, and peers." (Physician, Australia)

"I've had several cases over the years in which the anti-abortion patient had rationalized in one way or another that her case was the only exception, but the one that really made an impression was the college senior who was the president of her campus Right-to-Life organization, meaning that she had worked very hard in that organization for several years. As I was completing her procedure, I asked what she planned to do about her high office in the RTL organization. Her response was a wide-eyed, 'You're not going to tell them, are you!?' When assured that I was not, she breathed a sigh of relief, explaining how important that position was to her and how she wouldn't want this to interfere with it." (Physician, Texas)

Full Article

Kos Diary

From the Desk of Greg

I tend to be of the mind that Hillary Clinton would not be the right presidential candidate for 08 because she is such a lightening rod for the wacky right and of course everyone knows no good can from my commie home of New York. This does not mean that I subscribe to the corporate whore, back stabbing critique of the Nader/Dean legions and conversely I greatly respect Dean’s work in his new role in the party. I believe that in her bones she would be the most liberal candidate for president since Kerry ( read her commencement speech as valedictorian at Wellesly in 1969 and think about her goal {though lamely strategized } for health care in 92) who I believe was the most liberal candidate of my lifetime and I am 58 so I am including McGovern....anyhow Salon has an article about Hillary and the overall gist of it is not terribly profound by this list of why she might be a strong candidate was interesting to me ( the jpw refers to John Warner):

1) Universal name recognition. (In contrast, JPW, only 3 percent of likely Democratic primary voters know that you were originally the president in the Gershwin classic "Of Thee I Sing.")

2) Her capacity to raise $100 million without once working late into the night cold-calling strangers to beg and grovel for money.

3) The ability to dominate the free media. Hillary will never make a public appearance in this campaign without being tracked by 100 reporters. (In contrast, JPW, imagine how much coverage you will get for your first press conference bragging about your gubernatorial record and the "Tennetucky Miracle.")

4) Her emotional support from a significant percentage of women voters out to make history.

5) Nostalgia for the Clinton era of peace and prosperity in the 1990s.

6) Continuing Democratic resentment over impeachment.

7) Hillary's over-cautious political style that avoids risk and, quite likely, deliberate mistakes.

8) The most potent candidate surrogate in political history in the form of Bill Clinton.

9) The ability of the Clinton name and legacy to attract 75 percent of the African-American vote and a large slice of the Hispanic vote.

10) At least a half-dozen candidates (including JPW) who will divide the anti-Hillary Democrats, so that she could win major primaries with just her hardcore base of, say, 35 percent of the vote.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Sometimes you just have to take a break

and sit among the Daisies

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

"I didn't want war. To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong ... with all due respect."
These were the words the President of the United States muttered in between his laughing and giggling today at his news conference.

I find it highly insulting but not surprising that Bush is asking for respect. The majority of Americans have lost complete confidence in the man. So we now have a president asking for some respect. HA!

I have read the post by Georgia10 over Daily Kos. She is ashamed. I stand next to her and agree with all that she has written:

I am ashamed. I am ashamed of this President. Aren't you? After watching his press conference today, a sense of shame overtook me. I'm ashamed that he took to the podium today as if he emptied out a container of laughing gas. I'm ashamed of a President who has the temerity to laugh when asked a question about war. I'm ashamed of the whores of the fourth estate who care more about having the honor of being the butt of one of the President's jokes than about exposing the truth to the American people. I'm ashamed that millions of my fellow Americans are so scared and so desperate for leadership that they believe the President's bullshit.


This is not America. I refuse to accept it. America doesn't torture. America doesn't jail people incommunicado for years. America doesn't sit idly by as an entire people are exterminated in Darfur. America doesn't stifle science. America doesn't conduct massive, secret spying on innocent citizens. America doesn't believe the individual is an annoyance, an impediment to supreme government power. This isn't the greatest democracy on earth. This isn't the nation that pioneered human rights. This isn't the America that leads the world, that leads humanity towards a greater good. No, I refuse to accept this America of shame. This is not my America. It is an America perverted by Republican stewardship. A nation that under GOP rule has abandoned its founding ideals of freedom, liberty, and justice for all. True Americans--coast to coast, young and old--now bow their heads silently in collective shame for a nation that has lost its way.

Just look at what the RNC is advertising now and tell me you are not disgusted. Shame on them.


U.S. Companies Profited As Iraqi Children Died

In a dilapidated maternity and pediatric hospital in Diwaniyah, 100 miles south of Baghdad, Zahara and Abbas, premature twins just two days old, lie desperately ill. The hospital has neither the equipment nor the drugs that could save their lives. On the other side of the world, in a federal courthouse in Virginia, US, two men - one a former CIA agent and Republican candidate for Congress, the other a former army ranger - are found guilty of fraudulently obtaining $3m (£1.7m) intended for the reconstruction of Iraq. These two events have no direct link, but they are none the less products of the same thing: a financial scandal that in terms of sheer scale must rank as one of the greatest in history.

In the corridor, an anxious father who has been told his son may have meningitis is berating the staff. "I want a good hospital, not a terrible hospital that makes my child worse," he says. But then he calms down. "I'm not blaming you, we are the same class. I'm talking about important people. Those controlling all those millions and the oil. They didn't come here to save us from Saddam, they came here for the oil, and so now the oil is stolen and we got nothing from it." Beside him another parent, a woman, agrees: "If the people who run the country are stealing the money, what can we do?" For these ordinary Iraqis, it is clear that the country's wealth is being managed in much the same way as it ever was. How did it all go so wrong?

The environment created by the coalition positively encouraged corruption. "American law was suspended, Iraqi law was suspended, and Iraq basically became a free fraud zone," says Alan Grayson, a Florida-based attorney who represents whistleblowers now trying to expose the corruption. "In a free fire zone you can shoot at anybody you want. In a free fraud zone you can steal anything you like. And that was what they did."

Back in Diwaniyah it is a story about failure and incompetence, rather than fraud and corruption. Zahara and Abbas, born one and a half months premature, are suffering from respiratory distress syndrome and are desperately ill. The hospital has just 14 ancient incubators, held together by tape and wire.Zahara is in a particularly bad way. She needs a ventilator and drugs to help her breathe, but the hospital has virtually nothing. Her father has gone into town to buy vitamin K on the black market, which he has been told his children will need. Zahara starts to deteriorate and in desperation the doctor holds a tube pumping unregulated oxygen against the child's nostrils. "This treatment is worse than primitive," he says. "It's not even medicine." Despite his efforts, the little girl dies; the next day her brother also dies. Yet with the right equipment and the right drugs, they could have survived.

How is it possible that after three years of occupation and billions of dollars of spending, hospitals are still short of basic supplies? Part of the cause is ideological tunnel-vision. For months before the war the US state department had been drawing up plans for the postwar reconstruction, but those plans were junked when the Pentagon took over.

The Story

There are lots of stories about the despicable nature of this war. That in itself is a pity. I find this story particularly disturbing. The raw greed and corruption of this administration is unprecedented in my lifetime.

And, I wonder how long it will take for healthcare in the US to deteriorate to the level of care in Iraq. How long before the little girl in the post below may not have survived due to substandard medical care. Let's face it. It's not about democracy in the US; it's not about freedom in Iraq. It's about lining the pockets of corporate America that gets this administration's rocks off.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Miss Lizzy, close your eyes. :-)

Miss Savana Jane

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Black Room

Just in time for the third anniversary of the Iraq war, The New York Times offers a bombshell account Sunday on a secret U.S. torture facility in that country that remained in business even after the Abu Ghraib abuses became known.
"In the windowless, jet-black garage-size room, some soldiers beat prisoners with rifle butts, yelled and spit in their faces and, in a nearby area, used detainees for target practice in a game of jailer paintball," the reporters relate. "Their intention was to extract information to help hunt down Iraq's most-wanted terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, according to Defense Department personnel who served with the unit or were briefed on its operations.

"The Black Room was part of a temporary detention site at Camp Nama, the secret headquarters of a shadowy military unit known as Task Force 6-26. Located at Baghdad International Airport, the camp was the first stop for many insurgents on their way to the Abu Ghraib prison a few miles away.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Special Blog Post:
The Message and the Message

Below is the screen capture of an e-mail message I received several days ago. The message seems nice enough: it's from a rather friendly sounding church in the community in which I live. This place has lots and lots of churches. A few are quite progressive, although most are not. The area is growing by leaps and bounds. Middle- and upper-class households are in abundance because of the huge financial services companies located here. Many of these upwardly mobile people consider themselves quite the progressives; but they're the minority. The tradition of this place is deeply conservative in a uniquely Middle America, Bible Belt way. Politics and religion are dominated by views that would probably infuriate most of the readers here.

So, is there a problem with the e-mail solicitation above? Not really.

Except that it came to me at my college e-mail address, a public school with excellent spam blockers on the servers. It is a near certainty that the school directly provided this church with the e-mail addresses of faculty members and then ensured that the spam blockers would not touch e-mail messages from this sender. What would otherwise be easy pickings for a good institutional system of policy filters slid through unmolested.

In other words, elements of a database of employees of a public institution were provided to a religious organization, and then the servers of the public institution were set to permit solicitations from that religious organization to pass through to those employees.

That might be appalling to some, but I'm used to such things. Last year, the weakling union was not just given the names and e-mail addresses of faculty members, but it also was given their home addresses. I received a solicitation in the mail to join the union. It was couched in the form of a "survey," but the message was clear, at least to me. The union that I was considering working to decertify because of its let's-not-cause-trouble negotiating style—leading as it has to an hourly equivalent wage for me of just about $10—knows exactly where I live. If I were the paranoid sort, I'd think the administration knew exactly what it was doing giving that database to the union.

This is obviously all petty stuff. To many, academia is still the last bastion of enlightenment—the repository where stands all the great knowledge that continues to be available even in the worst of this degraded but temporary time of ignorance and mendacity. The supporters of academia must certainly see it as the bulwark of the Age of Reason, the institutional setting where the irrationality of religious superstitions and cultural ignorance are set aside in favor of disciplined thought, processual integrity, and objective analysis.

Not that it matters, but I no longer believe that. You see, awhile back, I was in the common faculty area describing to an adjunct professor some trouble I'd gotten from a Christian student who didn't like me talking about evolution. The particulars of the incident with the kid had to do with my description of a computer program that autonomously designs self-replicating circuits. It seems that, as these circuits evolve generation over generation, they tend not to eliminate unused architecture from previous generations; instead, these evolving circuits retain "junk" they no longer find useful, and this is very much how DNA works: genetic-level structures that organisms no longer need, use, or express in traits don't vanish, even over millions and millions of years. Apparently, evolutionary processes have a principle of conservation, something that probably (among other uses) allows for rapid adaptation to environmental changes.

My conversation with the adjunct was in the presence of no fewer than three biology teachers at the college, who began to talk very loudly among themselves about how terrible it was that evolution was "still" believed by so many otherwise educated people. The conversation was specifically intended for my attention and consumption. I left quickly enough since I wasn't in the mood to try to overcome the certainty with which no fewer than three educators (all middle-aged) were declaring their position and affirming one another's belief system.

A few days later, my mention of the incident to a full-time, tenured faculty member who teaches biology was met with a polite, diplomatic, and altogether condescending rejoinder that I don't know about "everything that's going on" in the field of biology these days.

She was right, of course; but I surely know more now than I did when I thought academia would be the salvation of the Age of Reason.

The Dark Wraith watches the tide ebb.

This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.

The portrait of the artist as a young man.

Burnsey, you rock!!

Here's Burnsey...

and here he is smiling because he has joined the working class...

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