Digby! Digby! Digby!

"Let's face it, for many people in this country (and probably the president himself) all the high flown phony rhetoric about 'freedom and democracy' notwithstanding, this war is about killing arabs. For them,the terrorists were arabs therefore all arabs are terrorists. They couldn't care less about WMD or terrorist connections to Iraq.They wanted to make an example of somebody. It's pretty much nothing more than straight out bigotry."


ENRON TAPES - Archival postings now easily available.

I've created a section under my personal web site (with the very capable assistance of Godmoma, my wife and in-house web designer) to make the various postings related to The Enron Tapes that I've made on this blog more easily accessible. I encourage folks to link back to this site, and of course to Seeing The Forest as well.

--Thomas Leavitt

Google on what our elected representatives in Congress care about.

Google search results:

biodiversity site:house.gov - 401
biodiversity site:semate.gov - 254

iraq site:senate.gov - 20,300
iraq site:house.gov - 36,800

ecology site:senate.gov - 353
ecology site:house.gov - 582

"national security" site:house.gov - 28,500
"national security" site:semate.gov - 12,600

rainforest site:senate.gov - 64
rainforest site:house.gov - 113

military site:house.gov - 71,700
military site:senate.gov - 28,500

extinction site:senate.gov - 349
extinction site:house.gov - 496

bomber site:house.gov - 638
bomber site:house.gov - 329

submarine site:senate.gov - 548
submarine site:house.gov - 1000

How about some of the Green Party's 10 Key Values?

"Ecological Wisdom" site:senate.gov - 1
"Ecological Wisdom" site:house.gov - 0

"Nonviolence" site:senate.gov - 28
"Nonviolence" site:house.gov - 115

"Social Justice" site:senate.gov - 4830
"Social Justice" site:house.gov - 8600

"Grassroots Democracy" site:senate.gov - 3
"Grassroots Democracy" site:house.gov - 18

"Feminism" site:house.gov - 3
"Feminism" site:house.gov - 9

how about a variant? ... not much better

feminist site:senate.gov - 31
feminist site:house.gov - 103

sexism site:senate.gov - 23
sexism site:house.gov - 48

racism site:senate.gov - 191
racism site:house.gov - 576

"tax cut" site:senate.gov - 4390
"tax cut" site:house.gov - 9810

"environmental sustainability" site:senate.gov - 33
"environmental sustainability" site:house.gov - 64

"south america" site:senate.gov - 512
"south america" site:house.gov - 899

africa site:senate.gov - 3660
africa site:house.gov - 6510

china site:senate.gov - 4930
china site:house.gov - 13600

germany site:senate.gov - 2330
germany site:house.gov - 5460

"hate crime" site:senate.gov - 120
"hate crime" site:senate.gov - 214

pornography site:senate.gov - 998
pornography site:house.gov - 2090

Pretty interesting, eh? I suspect that most of you can guess what I think about the bipartisan priorities of our elected officials in the face of global ecological devastation and mass injustice worldwide.

Someone with more coding chops than myself might be able to create a pretty interesting website out of this.

--Thomas Leavitt

FreewayBlogger - Another Great One

FreewayBlogger.com has another good one:

Pretty Serious Stuff

Putin Says Russia Warned U.S. on Saddam:
"Russian President Vladimir Putin , in comments sure to help President Bush, declared Friday that Russia knew Iraq's Saddam Hussein had planned terror attacks on U.S. soil and had warned Washington. "
So Russia warned the US? And the CIA and no other agencies of the government have ANY recollection of this? Even though it would save their ASSES right now to be able to say this happened?

This is Putin's second venture into the US elections in a week. Last week he said the Democrats have "no moral right" to criticize Bush.

So we have some kind of deal between Putin and Bush to help Bush in the election. And we already know that Bush has a deal with the Saudis to lower gas prices at the pump in time for the election. (Raising them dramatically and then lowering them a little bit SEEMS like a reduction to the voters, yet brings in the cash as well.)

What's coming? Watch your backs.

ENRON TAPES - What people don't get about this case: it isn't about Enron alone.

The Enron Tapes and the Snohomish vs. Enron hearing aren't just about a few potty mouthed "bad apples" at Enron engaging in opportunistic exploitation of regulatory loopholes (as Enron's PR people would like you to believe). They highlight a fundamental problem of our system of governance: the balance of power between corporations and the average human citizen is way out of whack. This is a point that those of us on our side of the issue would be well served to bring to the fore.

Enron lobbied our legislators and regulatory agencies with the conscious and deliberate intent of creating a non-transparent marketplace full of inefficiencies that they could then exploit (see Dr. Carl Pechman's testimony, quoted in previous posts). AND OUR LEGISLATORS AND REGULATORS LET THEM GET AWAY WITH IT... or rather, they did not intervene, because they saw nothing unusual in the process as it happened. This doesn't always result in disaster (apparently New York state managed the deregulation process better), but it happens way too often.

The technical term for this is "regulatory capture". (1) This term was created approximately thirty years ago by Richard Posner, so it is not a new problem - just an ever more pressing one. The theory is ultimately very logical, and meshes with that of another political truism: those with the most concentrated interest in a particular aspect of governmental policy will have the most influence over it... and since, in many cases, the entities with the greatest interest are those being regulated, and have the most resources to devote to influencing the regulators and legislators, the result is pretty predictable -- and especially dangerous, due to the amoral imperatives fostered by corporation based capitalism, as I'll discuss later on.

And it doesn't matter which party is running things. This particular instance was a bi-partisan effort: it happened under a Republican Governor and was initiated by a Democratic representative in a legislature throughly controlled by a strong Democratic Party majority (AB1890 passed the State Legislature unanimously, 77-0 in the Assembly and 39-0 in the Senate), and it blew up under a Democratic governor and a Democratic, then Republican President.

This goes beyond partisan ideology - what we are talking about here is the fact that elements of corporate America have systematically subverted our government's regulatory apparatus for private gain. This happens over and over and over again, regardless of which party is in power, at any level. In this particular instance, it just happened to go sour in a very big, and very public way.

The movie "The Corporation", subject of a feature article in Metro Santa Cruz (an alternative weekly newspaper published in my home town) posits that this is part and parcel of the behavior fostered in those participating in the economic structures of corporation based capitalism. I haven't seen the actual movie yet, but it is clear from the article that the movie's creators believe that until we change from a system based on the corporation as the basic operational economic unit, a system which makes amoral behavior not only legal, but essentially mandates it, all efforts to remediate the problems our society faces will be futile.

The fact that the motivations of those influencing our government and regulatory processes are essentially amoral would explain a lot, eh? It would also explain why, under this particular administration, so heavy with corporate types, amoral behavior has become par for the course.

I'll end this by re-emphasizing my core point: the Enron tapes are about more than Enron, they are about the fundamentally corrupted nature of our system of economic and social governance, as exemplified by Enron's efforts to influence the regulatory structure it would in turn operate within; our side needs to bring this aspect to the fore of the discussion, and not let itself be distracted by the more sensationalistic aspects of the case, which are essentially trivial in nature, and not particularly relevatory (which is one reason why I think that the phenomenon of these tapes simply hasn't produced the political and social firestorm one might have expected, given their inflammatory nature).

1. This is an economic term describing a situation where one operator (or group of operators) in the market uses its influence or resources to extract a regulatory decision, or lack of decision, for their own benefit rather than the benefit of society as a whole.
It is associated with patterns of behaviour on the part of a regulatory body in one, or a combination, of the following situations:

* the regulatory body is tending to further producer interests over consumer interests.
* the regulatory body has become overly protective towards the regulated entities.
* the regulatory body is tending to adopt objectives that are very close to those of the entities it is supposed to regulate.

(Definition source: www.betterregulation.ie/ getFile.asp?FC_ID=18&docID=48)

P.S. As a Green, I have to point out that Ralph Nader and the Green Party have made untrammeled corporate power a major theme from day one. In a sense, it can be said that the Democratic Party's systematic neglect of this issue has created the political breathing space for Naderism and the Green Party to emerge as an visible force in American politics, as it is clear from polls and surveys that their strongest support comes from those folks who see this as a core issue. In my opinion, John Kerry and the Democratic Party (as well as the nation as a whole) would be much better off if they attempted to secure their "left flank" by addressing this issue directly, rather than continuing the obviously futile (and rather annoying) tactics they've used to date.

--Thomas Leavitt


Stick It To Bush

See the Bush Voodoo Doll, in the ad on the right side of this page! A great Father's Day gift!

Rumsfeld Must Go!

Rumsfeld Ordered Secret Arrest in Iraq,
WASHINGTON - At the request of CIA Director George Tenet, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld ordered the military to secretly hold a suspected terrorist in Iraq , a Pentagon spokesman said.

The suspected terrorist has been held since October without being given an identification number and without the International Committee of the Red Cross being notified, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said. Both conditions violate the Geneva Accords on treatment of prisoners of war.

[. . .] The Bush administration has argued that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to suspected terrorists who do not follow the conventions themselves. But Rumsfeld and other administration officials have said the Geneva Conventions applied to all U.S. military activities in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion.
LIARS! We can't trust a word this man says. WHY IS HE STILL THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE?!

And, as a result, no American captured in a war will ever again be safe from torture or other crimes.

And, from the story, there's this gem:
Maj. David Kolarik, a spokesman for the military's Joint Task Force-Guantanamo, said all prisoners are treated "in accordance with the principles" of the Geneva Conventions "to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity."
In other words, we follow the rules when we feel like it.


Very Strange E-mail Problem

Has anyone out there heard of a problem like this? I can't send file attachments. If I attach a picture or a Word file, it never arrives at its destination. I can, however, attach a very short text file and it arrives. This started yesterday morning.

I thought it was only through my nuthouse account. But then I also couldn't send attachments through another account.

So I went to another computer - a Mac now - and sent some files through Hotmail and .Mac accounts. THOSE files also did not arrive.

I find that I CAN send files through my Comcast account that comes with the cable modem service.

The files sent yesterday still have not arrived.

Any ideas?


Still Dead

Ronald Reagan is still dead!

Suicidal Tendencies

Today's paper is running a "comic strip" that in essence tells people not to read newspapers because they are pro-terrorist and have a, quote, "blame America first attitude".

This link is good for a short period only, for the particular comic I am referring to. But later you can go here and look up the week of June 14. (The week of June 7 begins the attack.)

How do the newspaper serve their interests by publishing a cartoon that INSULTS half of their readers, with right-wing stuff that divides the country to the point of fomenting civil war? I mean, if you BELIEVE that half the country is pro-terrorist, which puts you LIFE at risk, and anti-American ...


What The Left Coaster Said

Hatch and McCain on Their Knees:
"What's unfortunate is that John McCain has lost whatever pair he has left and doesn't cite the Pentagon for contempt of Congress too. It's hard to imagine what's more appalling--executive public servants with so little regard to serving the people openly, or two such distinguished, senior members of the United States Senate forsaking their duty in such loathsome, obsequious, craven capitulation to ethical principles and their oversight responsibilities"

ENRON TAPES - The Web Site


Coverage of the Enron Tapes should be on major media outlets (CNN, NBC) tonight.

The site above contains individual links to each of the 82 publicly released audio files and associated transcripts, as well as the motion and testimony describing them and documenting their significance. It also contains links to information on the Snohomish PUD Web site.

Disclaimer: My wife and I received (a small amount of) financial compensation to design and assemble this site on behalf of my former employer and Snohomish, their client. She is a professional web site designer, and I assist her with content development and grunt HTML coding. :)

--Thomas Leavitt

Whatever It Takes

the american street: Proto-fascist thuggery:
"None of this will ever be directly connected to George W. Bush, of course. There's no need. There are too many people out there willing to do whatever it takes to keep him in office. Whatever it takes."
Whatever it takes.

Watch your backs.


Abu Ghraib 6-13

Abu Ghraib 6-13


I am astonished by the silence of a lot of libertarian types about a lot of things. What a bunch of frauds! If I’m not mistaken, the inexplicably-respected Jane Galt recently signed on to the Bush team (tacitly, by her use of the word “we” in a political context).

Volokh’s shame over his squeamishness (i.e., decency) is rather sickeningly characteristic of our times. In law, philosophy, PR, political consultancy, and advertising, “rationality” is regarded as the willingness to argue for or against any position whatsoever.

I read somewhere (Hannah Arendt??) that most of the anti-Nazi resisters (and shelterers of Jews) were naive, simple-minded people who had a gut feeling that something was wrong. Whereas Eichmann had a Kantian explanation for what he did.

There’s a second factor. The 9/11 attack was not an unprecedented murderous attack on civilians. There were several technically and organizationally unique aspects to 9/11, but the murderousness was normal-range.

The reason that 9/11 is thought to be a world-historical event is that it was an attack on the militarily most powerful nation in the history of the world. It was an attack on someone who was able to retaliate.

At some point the Bosnians, the Salvadorans, the Guatamalans, the Ruandans, the Timorese, and many other have had to learn to forget about murderous episodes which were absolutely much worse, and proportionate to population enormously worse. But these are powerless peoples.

Even the French, the Germans, the Poles, et. al. — larger, more prosperous nations — have had to learn to go on with their lives.

Where does the belief come from that this particular attack is so uniquely horrible that it justifies forgetting about a century or more of attempts to reduce the inhumanity of warfare? As far as I know, it comes from America’s historical impunity. We’ve really been very favored and don’t know how to deal with this.

The secrecy of the adversaries adds to the urgency, but now that we’re focussing on them they have become much less mysterious.

I think that the worst interpretation of what’s happening is the best. The Bush plan is to fight an endless war against a nebulous enemy, and to use the war as a pretext to ram through a lot of programs which are often unrelated to the war, together with an enormously increased police and surveillance powers and much less oversight or Constitutional limitation on the executive.

Libertarians who fail to realize this are pornographic and entirely without redeeming social value and absolutely worthless for any human purpose and should be mercifully put to sleep. Remember, we’re talking about people who are thrown into a rage by the very idea of the unconstitutional Smithsonian Institute and the unconstitutional National Academy of the Arts.


What 800-lb. Gorilla?

The hapless winger hack at the Portland Oregonian, David Reinhard, has revived the Iraq - 9/11 connection. It's mostly based on a possible meeting between Mohammed Atta and an Iraqi agent in the Czech Republic, with some new twists. Reinhard's case probably can be traced back to Edward Jay Epstein's work, which has been partly refuted by Spinsanity.

But really, who cares? We know a lot about al Qaeda. They had and still have high-level supporters (both in government and among private citizens)in Saudi Arabia and in Pakistan. One of the hijackers may even have received money (indirectly, of course!) from Prince Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to the U.S.

The Saudi gorilla is right there in the room, but the wingers are still running all over the place trying to catch the Iraqi mouse. Perhaps there was some connection between Iraq and the hijackers, but if you're trying to figure out what happened on 9/11, Iraq isn't the place to look. Saudi Arabia is the place to look.

Something that might be considered is tracking cash transfers to al Qaeda from Saudi Arabia. But they're much more interested (5.2 times more interested, to be precise) in tracking money going to Cuba.

Why? Because there are a lot of Cuban votes in Florida, to begin with. But the real reason is that several members of the Bush administration have reasons to be a bit touchy about investigations of cash transfers from Saudi Arabia. Unger's book House of Bush, House of Saud can tell you more.

Or you can just go to my Bandar Bush page.

Reagan is the Greatest American President Ever, Except Maybe Van Buren

The wingers have disappointed me; the only prominent self-described conservative to describe Reagan as the greatest American President of all is Larry Kleiman, of Clinton-impeachment infamy, and he did it several years ago.

Perhaps the rest of them are reluctant to unseat the founder of the Republican party, especially since people might then start talking about the fact that a significant part of the Republican core constituency really, really hates Lincoln.

Note that Van Buren has strong support from a hyper-winger. If you read the PDF, you'll find that he also ranks Harding and Coolidge in the top five. You can't make this stuff up.

After playing a memorable clip of one of President Ronald Reagan's speeches, Chairman and General Counsel Larry Klayman praised the life of the greatest American president.

Historians seldom give the eighth president of the United States the recognition he deserves. Van Buren’s avoidance of foreign wars, successful fight to reduce central authority, unsurpassed ideological clarity and enduring positive influence on the Democratic Party make him arguably the president most responsible for the freedoms enjoyed by the American people.

"The SBL organization is group of US patriots dedicated to having the Statue of Liberty sent back to the French. We believe that the French Government has effectively betrayed the safety of the United States of America by refusing to accept the fact that Saddam Hussein is a danger to every freedom-loving nation and by blocking any UN resolution to oust Saddam from power.....As Liberty Island is an important tourist attraction, we believe a better, more American statue should be put in Liberty's place. Here is our suggestion: Ronald Reagan"

Simply put, Bell said he believes that Reagan is the greatest American president.

Commissioner Roger Baenziger reserved his comments for the Central Park Ceremony, where he referred to Reagan as the greatest American president.

"As far as I'm concerned, he was our greatest American president," he said.

While the site is still under development, it contains some vital and important information about the man who many consider the greatest American president.

My name is Reid Davis. I am a civilian. I just want to say that a carrier named after the greatest American President is awesome.

Also out in force Thursday were post-Reagan Reaganites, those too young to ... be 18 years old, but I know he was the greatest American president ever." (Get the whole story by registering!).