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Rain In A Rusty Bucket

It's what makes the bucket Rusty... and by the way, if you see Rusty tell her to write.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Oil Fire

A blazing oil pipeline in Dibis with a firefighter in the foreground. Attacks on the oil infrstructure in Iraq continue. The reason I post it, however, remains that I'm awe struck by the power of oil fires. Stunning.

Friday, February 25, 2005

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Thrown to the Wolves

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Thrown to the Wolves (free registration required.

Sending prisoners to be tortured in Syria... you know what, this is the facts of torture. Talk all you want about the Earth Flattening bombs about to go off in a Bruce Willis movie and how torture may be all that saves us and well, that's Hollywood Ethics.


If John Ashcroft was right, then I was staring into the malevolent, duplicitous eyes of pure evil, the eyes of a man with the mass murder of Americans on his mind. But all I could really see was a polite, unassuming, neatly dressed guy who looked like a suburban Little League coach.

If Mr. Ashcroft was right, then Maher Arar should have been in a U.S. prison, not talking to me in an office in downtown Ottawa. But there he was, a 34-year-old man who now wears a perpetually sad expression, talking about his recent experiences - a real-life story with the hideous aura of a hallucination. Mr. Arar's 3-year-old son, Houd, loudly crunched potato chips while his father was being interviewed.

"I still have nightmares about being in Syria, being beaten, being in jail," said Mr. Arar. "They feel very real. When I wake up, I feel very relieved to find myself in my room."

In the fall of 2002 Mr. Arar, a Canadian citizen, suddenly found himself caught up in the cruel mockery of justice that the Bush administration has substituted for the rule of law in the post-Sept. 11 world. While attempting to change planes at Kennedy Airport on his way home to Canada from a family vacation in Tunisia, he was seized by American authorities, interrogated and thrown into jail. He was not charged with anything, and he never would be charged with anything, but his life would be ruined.

Mr. Arar was surreptitiously flown out of the United States to Jordan and then driven to Syria, where he was kept like a nocturnal animal in an unlit, underground, rat-infested cell that was the size of a grave. From time to time he was tortured.

He wept. He begged not to be beaten anymore. He signed whatever confessions he was told to sign. He prayed.

Among the worst moments, he said, were the times he could hear babies crying in a nearby cell where women were imprisoned. He recalled hearing one woman pleading with a guard for several days for milk for her child.

He could hear other prisoners screaming as they were tortured.

"I used to ask God to help them," he said.

The Justice Department has alleged, without disclosing any evidence whatsoever, that Mr. Arar is a member of, or somehow linked to, Al Qaeda. If that's so, how can the administration possibly allow him to roam free? The Syrians, who tortured him, have concluded that Mr. Arar is not linked in any way to terrorism.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Is This Ok?

Wal-Mart No. 1 in employee Medicaid

"State provides health insurance for workers of major companies" (Alabama is the state referred to, though this is becoming a perennial story nationwide, workers on welfare)

Well... I don't think so. And I don't actually fault Walmart. The way I see it, Walmart passes on savings to us. I have more of a complaint for, say, Nike, who when they pay $.10 to some worker in Indonedia to make a show still charge us $150 for the shoes that result. Walmart at least passes on the saving. And while 5 of the 10 richest people are Waltons, there is little doubt they do it on thin margins (by scale). So I think that Walmart is good at shaving those margins and that's a valuable skill.

That is why I blame the system that insists such people as they handle healthcare. Why should businesses have to handle healthcare. Doesn't matter the business, architecture, software engineering, selling cheap electric fans, whatever, the company is supposed to hire the expertise to manage and negotiate health insurance, and if you are a small company, you get screwed no matter how good you are at negotiating. Does that make sense?

No it leads to a system where even regular welfare becomes corporate welfare.

PS: I just love that bucktooth llama.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Back To Better Things

speaks for itself I think

Just Be Careful

A word on fascism and caution from The American Conservative magazine... that is, by conservatives.

This is characteristic Stern—measured and precise—but signals to me that the warning from the libertarians ought not be simply dismissed as rhetorical excess. I don’t think there are yet real fascists in the administration, but there is certainly now a constituency for them —hungry to bomb foreigners and smash those Americans who might object. And when there are constituencies, leaders may not be far behind. They could be propelled into power by a populace ever more frustrated that the imperialist war it has supported—generally for the most banal of patriotic reasons—cannot possibly end in victory. And so scapegoats are sought, and if we can’t bomb Arabs into submission, or the French, domestic critics of Bush will serve.

full text here.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Babyboomers and Liberals

I have told mother this. (Note: I never say "mother" in the real world, but it sounds good to me here... normally I just say "mom" this or that... "mother" is more formal though, and appropriate when trying to lecture your own mother).

I think mother's conservativism is biased because of Babyboomer Liberalism. I suspect that to mother, a "liberal" brings to mind the idea of Babyboomer liberals... or at least of liberals familiar to the babyboomer experience, such as Ted Kennedy. JFK adds womanizing to this and the allure has long since faded. FDR made a better archetype. A rich guy fighting for the common man in sensible ways, not letting being in a wheelchair stopping him from kicking butt.

Mother, if you get wind ever of this libertarian progressivism I mention to you. If you start to realize that the children of the babyboomers are 1000 miles from approaching liberalism in a way not similar in the least to the Doa of Babyboom, you may be suprised to find there is a vast undercurrent of libertarians with good reasons to build a strong society, high quality infrastructure public AND private, regulate our consumption of natural resources and especially our fouling of them.

And if that day comes, I promise the philosophical feeling are pure, deep, and refreshing, even in the face of another thousand years of educating the regressive.

Friday, February 04, 2005

US Wrote the Book

I did not write the following, but found it on the internet, semi-anonymously. I think it puts the point very well regarding prisoner abuse, torture, and my patriotic perspective on this.

To understand, one has to realize that all Americans have reason to be patriotic, have traditions of American excellence to call on...

we are not supposed to take our opinions on the rights of man from European Courts or theological speculations. We wrote the book on rights. The torture memos of which you speak are disgusting, (Yes I have read them) and clearly outside the tenor of American thought. Lay that aside, since Washington accepted the surrender of the Hessians at Trenton the entire world has known that American soldiers treat prisoners with dignity and time after time that has saved American prioner's lives. Al Gonzales was an integral part of a criminal conspiracy to deny that protection to future generations of Americans and because of that participation deserves contempt.

Torture destroys trust.

What do people do when they trust you? They tell you things.

A brother just may turn in a brother if he thinks he'll save his brother's life and the lives of others. But if that brother thinks your going to torture his kin... how can he? Why should he? He should just leave it for evil to battle evil in that case.

Torture is a way of stopping information, not obtaining it.

It's shocking to me that conservatives, with clear understanding of "great men" and the importance of a great reputation, don't care what reputation America earns. I'm not talking about worrying what people think of us... I'm talking about worrying about what reputation America deserves.

Conservatives often miss the point of liberal criticisms of America. Most American liberals DO think that America has always had a position of moral superiority, preaching freedom, keeping to the ideals of democracy as well as those of civil liberty. Liberals are holding America to a high standard because they can, because America has so often met that high standard. To point out the mistakes and violations of those standards are one way of keeping to them in the future. For such a progressive, such as myself in this case, who has a great sense of patriotism and respect for what is great about America, what is unique and great, the question of how we treat our enemy prisoners is a vital patriotic and traditional issue.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Extremes and Reality

This is a nice essay about the word games people play to demonize their opposition. A simple example... you take Michael Moore, or Roy Moore, you use him as an archetype and then apply that to 50 million people. The author puts it best.

It applies to any ideology and its detractors.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Fiscal Responsibility

Fiscal Repsonsibility is now something for New Democrats.

Here is a GAO report, Long Term Fiscal Challenge

Chapter one "Today's Fiscal Policy is Unsustainable"

Simply put, our nation's fiscal policy is on an unsustainable course. As long-term budget simulations by GAO, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and others show, over the long term we face a large and growing structural deficit due primarily to known demographic trends and rising health care costs. Continuing on this unsustainable fiscal path will gradually erode, if not suddenly damage, our economy, our standard of living, and ultimately our national security. Our current path also will increasingly constrain our ability to address emerging and unexpected budgetary needs.

Republicans are the big spenders now. They have no reason not to be as Government Debt hurts the Government of America, which they want hurt, because government is bad bad bad. Am I wrong? I didn't make this up... this is what conservatives have been trying to convince me about for years. I say, "it can be bad, it can be good"... but they say "just bad". You can get them to admit it is a "necessary" evil... but evil is bad last time I heard.

When will people that care about a sane fiscal policy realize that the Republicans don't care about such a crisis. Do you know the position, "Starve it and drown it in a bathtub"? That's Grover Norquist's position, influential republican strategist.