Thursday, June 30, 2005

Press lies caused recruitment shortage


Families are discouraging young men and women from enlisting "because of all the negative media that's out there," Sen. James Inhofe (news, bio, voting record), an Oklahoma Republican, said at a U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
I'm sure that, after the esteemed senator scratches the surface, he'll find that the reporters are responsible for doctoring intelligence to justify an unnecessary invasion of Iraq, that they're the ones planting roadside bombs in Iraq, and they're probably even the ones behind the wheel in those suicide cars. It might be time to send them to Gitmo for re-education.

Compassionate capitalism

Robert Redford hosts a four-part series, New Heroes, profiling "social entrepreneurs" who are “applying business skills to solving social ills” around the world.

"Social entrepreneurs identify resources where people only see problems. They view the villagers as the solution, not the passive beneficiary. They begin with the assumption of competence and unleash resources in the communities they're serving."

David Bornstein, author of How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas

The first two episodes of New Heroes will be broadcast again in New Orleans:
New Heroes
Saturday, July 2, 3-5:00 PM
WYES Channel 12

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Eminent domain claim on Justice Souter's home

The Agitator picked up on a story about a developer who's vying to confiscate Justice Souter's home through eminent domain.

Letter to the Code Enforcement Officer of Weare, Hew Hampshire:

I am proposing to build a hotel at 34 Cilley Hill Road in the Town of Weare. I would like to know the process your town has for allowing such a development.

Although this property is owned by an individual, David H. Souter, a recent Supreme Court decision, "Kelo vs. City of New London" clears the way for this land to be taken by the Government of Weare through eminent domain and given to my LLC for the purposes of building a hotel. The justification for such an eminent domain action is that our hotel will better serve the public interest as it will bring in economic development and higher tax revenue to Weare.

Now you can even sign up for a stay at the Liberty Hotel.

Iraq lorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet

Which means, "take your lumps like a man and stop yer cryin'!"

18 1/2 Minute Gap is referencing a No More Mister Nice Blog post about a hidden White House web site extolling the virtues of the Iraq War:

Yep - that really is the White House web site.

Befitting the Bush administration's impeachable "disassembling" before the invasion, and criminal neglect in the post-invasion period, there's no real news reports - just a bunch of "lorem ipsum" dummy text.

Happily, Cicero's 45 BC treatise, On the ends of the good and the evil, has found a good home among the featured non-news items on the White House web site.

The actual translation reveals the ironic truth about Iraq:

We denounce with righteous indignation and dislike men who are so beguiled and demoralized by the charms of the pleasure of the moment, so blinded by desire, that they cannot foresee the pain and trouble that are bound to ensue.

Read more about the use of lorem ipsum at and Wikipedia.

I'd like to make another suggestion for the Iraq Renewal page:


Or maybe this... there's a possible justification for monkey boy's dream to reach Mars - he's thinking that aliens will be able to bring an end to his godforsaken war in Iraq!

Bush's speechwriter's speech: Nothing new

I wondered why NPR had so little to say about Bush's Fort Bragg speech last night.

The Nation's David Corn explained:

Before the speech, NPR had asked me to talk about the address afterward with a conservative pundit. Minutes before we were to go on, an NPR worker called. We've decided, she said, that there was not enough in the speech to warrant an analysis segment. I could hardly protest.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Bush's smirk was the real message at Fort Bragg

The man has absolutely no guts. After his lame performance at the last press conference, and notwithstanding the equally lame performance by the White House press corps on that evening, Bush instead chose to seek the safety of blind loyalty among Green Berets and Army Rangers at Fort Bragg, rather than making an honest, believable case for the why spilling American blood in Iraq is still "worth it."

Oh yeah, Bush kept reminding us that 9-11 happened in 2001. What a bonehead. Like we should respect him more because he can repeatedly recall a date.

With a backdrop of faux flags draped vertically, suggesting downcast reflection, rather than waving free, suggesting strength and pride, the event more gave the impression of a pathetic George W. sympathy rally than a proud call to stand firm for truly shared values in the face of enormous sacrifices.

No, this president still refuses to level with the American people. He can't win the Iraq war, let alone a global war against terrorism, with only half the country, while his chief lieutenants in the White House insult everyone who doesn't have the presidential seal tatooed on their asses.

In typical form, Bush stood at the podium, reading his lines with about as much conviction as a first grader practicing out loud, all the while failing to whipe that sarcastic little fratboy smirk off of his smug little face.

Here's what I wanted to hear:

America. I'm sorry I can't really know what it's like to serve in Iraq, because I shirked my responsibility when I signed up. I regret that I did that. I know that because of that cowardess, it is difficult for Americans to take me seriously. I really don't deserve the respect of the soldiers in this room, or those so bravely serving in Iraq. I regret that I wasn't sincere with the American public when I "fixed the facts" to a policy to invade Iraq that I conceived before I even ran for president, creating a war that wasn't necessary, and diverting resources from the real struggle for peace and justice around the world. I'm sorry I've been such an ass to the poor and middle class of this country, who struggle to pay the rent and put food on the table every single day of their lives, in a way that my privileged background has made it difficult for me to fully understand. I'm sorry I've sold off America's destiny to the highest bidders. After all I've done that shames me in your eyes, I still need your help. Together, let's start anew. Together, let's defeat the hatred that inspired the 9-11 attacks. I'm sorry to say that the struggle will continue to be borne in lives and treasure, but it will also require a more compassionate and gracious diplomatic approach to people around the world. I promise I will not forsake you in this time of difficulty. I promise that I will bear my share of the burden, as will those among my class who owe so much to the charity, benevolence, and sacrifice of all those whom we proudly share a common heritage. This is my pledge before God.

Fat chance!

The real message was, "I'm scared shitless. I have no plan. I don't have a clue what I'm doing."

The best analysis: Terry Moran noted that the only applause in the speech was initiated by a member the White House advance team.

George is not my homeboy

Selling at a Wal-Mart subsidiary in Mexico City, complements of La Profesora Abstraida:

Hell - that'd be the only thing that would get me inside a Wal-Mart.

Howard Dean comes to New Orleans

Thursday, June 30, 2005
6:00 - 9:00 pm

1544 Tchoupitoulas
New Orleans, LA

Please click link to book online, or PAY AT THE DOOR.

Bush feathered nest with eminent domain takings

Not that it hasn't been reported, not that people haven't tried to make hay out of the story. It's just that...oh, I don't know...people are too ill-informed or stupid to care?

Given the recent Kelo v. New London Supreme Court decision allowing a taking from one private owner to another private owner, this seems like a timely opportunity to remind people how Dumbyass made his millions on expropriated land. It sounds like a classic old Texas story of bullying to fence in your neighbor's land.

ESPN reported:

Bush got the taxpayers of Arlington to spend $135 million toward building his team's stadium, yet the Republican party espouses keeping government out of the way of private enterprise. The Ballpark stands as a monument to what critics call corporate welfare, yet his party advocates reducing welfare rolls. The entire complex stands on land that includes 13 acres taken by eminent domain, yet when campaigning in rural Texas Bush told voters he would keep the government from seizing their private land for public use. ...

The Rangers...encouraged the state legislature to allow creation of the quasi-governmental Arlington Sports Facilities Development Authority as owner and developer of the ballpark with the power of eminent domain. Never before had a Texas municipal authority had the right to seize private property for the benefit of a sports facility, and it used its power to condemn 13 acres for half of the appraised value.

The stadium deal cost a total $191 million, of which the Rangers owners chipped in...NOT...ONE...THIN...DIME!!!

That's right! Gratis! They just promised to pay out of a surcharge on ticket prices.

Dumbyass' take? $14.7 million and a ten percent share in the Rangers franchise.

Elsewhere, I have advocated for Congress to revisit the exemption clause in anti-trust laws that allows team owners, like parasites, to scavenge taxpayers for capital and income, and to finally thrust real competition into the sports franchise monopolies:
Tom Benson is a jackass

There's also a nice backgrounder on the sports stadium extortion racket at AP Papers.

Finally, my post to the Louisiana Democrat Yahoo group:
Notwithstanding my acceptance of the merits of eminent domain for "public use," the Supreme Court was totally wrong to circumvent the free functioning of an unfettered marketplace for property. The Court should have considered whether a government entity had a right to endow a private developer with the power of eminent domain in order to short circuit a free market process.

If greater profits will obtain from an upscale development, then let the developer COMPETE for the land it desires by NEGOTIATING a price acceptable to the existing owners. The developer should be willing to pay current owners a sum up to the potential profit from the development. Eminent domain was intended to give the GOVERNMENT (not private owners) the benefit of paying "fair" compensation to owners for damages.

It is critical that we understand and emphasize this subtle difference before the strident private property rights advocates take hold of the Court's decision as a justification to vilify ANY government environmental or zoning regulation that circumscribe's an owners allowable activities.

Dumbyass' glacial pace of action on global warming

If you read the NY Times story on Alaska's disappearing glaciers, then you're probably already thinking up entries for the inevitable National Park Service contest to rename Glacier Bay National Park. In the meantime, if you're planning a trip to Alaska, pack shorts and Hawaiian shirts for your rain forest excursion.

The very word "glacial" may soon be redefined, signifying something that accelerates, or that rapidly vanishes:

In Glacier Bay National Park, the ice has been shrinking since at least the time of Capt. George Vancouver's visit, more than 200 years ago. What are now bays filled with whale-watching kayakers and iceberg-viewing cruise passengers were full of glaciers in the late 1700's, officials say. And what was once bare rock at the edge of the ice to Captain Vancouver's crew is now part of a lush rain forest. But the pace of ice age retreat has greatly accelerated in recent years. Government photos show that Muir Glacier, one of the park's prime attractions, has receded by more than five miles in the last 30 years.

My previous posts on the topic of global warming:
Disassembling dissembly on global warming

Global warming naysayer couldn't take the heat

I thought they banned medical marijuana

Evidence that there might be some bad air circulating around the Supreme Court justices' chambers (or in the justices' pipes), impairing their powers of reason:

Justice Scalia rejected the commission's argument that cable Internet service combines Internet access, which is communication, with additional services, like e-mail.

"The pet store may have a policy of selling puppies only with leashes, but any customer will say that it does offer puppies because a leashed puppy is still a puppy, even though it is not offered on a stand-alone basis," he said.

Justice Thomas, in his decision, responded: "One can own a dog without buying a leash."

And my opinion? Cable companies operate as monopolies in most markets. They should be forced to carry other providers if it benefits consumers - as it would. If not, then local governments need to find new ways to stimulate competition.

Off the top of my head, how about a rental charge for the use of easements and utility poles by cable companies, then applying the tax toward a public wireless infrastructure?

Monday, June 27, 2005

Founder's Tree

The purpose of the Louisiana Purchase Cypress Legacy is "to inventory, landmark, and promote the stewardship of cypress trees in Louisiana that are over 200 years old--alive at the time of the Louisiana Purchase."

There's one of these majestic old trees tucked into a corner of Uptown New Orleans:

Founder's Tree, 1664 Robert Street (at Baronne)

Vitter could kill coastal restoration act

The rest of the nation is looking skeptically on the Water Resources Development Act, thanks to David Vitter's pig-headed idea to let his buddies destroy wetlands ecosystems at the same time that he's asking the federal government to, quite literally, bail out Lousiana's sinking coastline.

Seattle Times:

Porked-up water act throws good money after bad
Froma Harrop / Syndicated columnist

Louisiana is famous for — how shall we put it? — its colorful politics. And so Sen. David Vitter got an easy laugh from Washington with the quip, "In Louisiana, we're half under water and half under indictment." At a hearing on the Water Resources Development Act, the Louisiana Republican added, "In this bill, we're beginning to address at least one of those issues."

Only one? American taxpayers are not so sure. The Senate bill raises to $1.2 billion their share of a project to preserve land in coastal Louisiana. This would be the first installment of a grand plan to restore the Mississippi Delta. Experts put the total cost at a minimum of $15 billion.

But then Vitter slipped in a last-minute provision that would endanger hundreds of thousands of forested wetland acres in Louisiana alone. It would ease the way for timber companies to cut down majestic cypress trees — part of the very ecosystem taxpayers are being asked to save — and turn them into cheap garden mulch.

The Mississippi Delta happens to be one of America's great natural wonders, right up there with the Grand Canyon, the Everglades and Chesapeake Bay. It represents 40 percent of the coastal wetlands in the contiguous United States.

But the question arises: Why spend billions fixing a resource that Louisiana politicians are busy wrecking? If inserting the Vitter provision into the water-project bill doesn't amount to an indictable offense, it certainly puts American taxpayers in a bad mood.

The amendment basically guts a key section of the 1899 Rivers and Harbors Act. That section lets the Army Corps of Engineers regulate activities in navigable waters that might destroy wetlands, harm water quality or damage wildlife habitat. The Vitter provision ends those environmental protections when they apply to private property.

The Mississippi Delta is in dreadful shape. "The coastline is literally breaking up," says David Conrad, water-resources specialist for the National Wildlife Federation. "What was land is now little patches of dying vegetation."

The delta was always sinking, but the nourishing river kept the wetlands going. Then came the levees. Built for flood control, the levees cut the river off from the delta, with devastating consequences for marshlands. Oil and gas drilling made matters worse.

Strange but true, the Louisiana state Senate has just passed a resolution backing the Vitter provision. It calls on Congress to tell the Army Corps to stop picking on its forestry industry, which engages in "sustainable forestry practices."

The resolution flabbergasts John Day, professor of oceanography and coastal sciences at Louisiana State University. The cypress forests have endured, he explains, only because these trees are willing to stand in water. But their seedlings need fairly dry conditions to survive. The forest has sunk to the point where the cypresses cannot regenerate. Cut down the trees, some 100 years old, and the forest is gone.

If Louisiana's politicians want to help the forest industry, they have other ways to do it. For example, they could set up a system to compensate timber companies for trees they can't chop down.

Vitter provision aside, the whole porked-up Water Resources Development Act deserves a cold eye. The $17 billion bill finds ingenious ways to waste taxpayer money and destroy the environment at the same time.

There's the $1.8 billion plan to expand locks on the upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers. The problem it would solve, river congestion, could be fixed cheaply with a traffic-control system. In the Northwest, a $150 million project to deepen the Columbia River from Portland to its mouth would jeopardize recovery areas for salmon. Given the costs, its economic benefits would be meager.

With budget deficits raging, the taxpayers are going to be rather grumpy about cleaning up environmental messes that the locals make worse. Many in Louisiana are mindful of the PR dilemma.

As Day put it, "If we want to restore the Mississippi River, we in Louisiana have to show that we're going to be wise stewards of our land."

Should American taxpayers want to save the Mississippi Delta? Sure, even if it costs a bundle. But if they're just throwing good environmental money after bad, then forget about it.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Soldiers sound off

Take it to Karl is a new blog set up to host the views of patriotic soldiers.

Vet: Republicans Don't Serve:

There're a couple things you learn in a war tour.

First, combat sucks. It's dangerous and scary and usually confusing and, generally, best avoided if possible.

Second, you absolutely need your buddies. To this end, you never ever let them down when they need you. Because when you get in trouble, it's going to be DEEP trouble, and your buddies will be more valuable than gold or liquor.

Third, as long as your buddy is there for you, you couldn't care less if this buddy is gay, black, female, islamic, stupid, liberal, pro-pot, pro-choice, or believes in flying pigs and Jerry Garcia's impending resurrection. It is so totally not important.

Fourth, you're well aware that some of the people you are defending hate you and what you represent. They think you're a jack-boot thug. You don't begrudge them this, though. They're welcome to think whatever they like, and defending that right for them is one of your more noble callings.

These are four lessons that our Republican leadership have never learned. Why?

Because Republicans don't volunteer.

Active Iraq Soldier: Karl, Come over _here_ and say that, Chickenhawk...:
I'm writing you from [Location Withheld] Iraq, about 35 miles NW of Baghdad.. And I'm too tired to give Karl the verbal beating he deserves for his insults. I'm too tired because we're jsut a bit shorthanded over here, fighting his war for him. A war taht has made nearly every country in the world fear and distrust America, a war fought for a knowing lie dreamed up by Karl and his buddies, none of whom have ever heard a shot fired in anger, or helped pick up the parts of another human being after an IED blast. ...

To hear a man like Karl insinuate that only conservatives are really patriotic is a knife in the back to every man and woman in Iraq who serves here. At least a third of us voted against Bush and pals. The number increases every day that we stay here, forced to make bricks without straw for months on end. ...

Never insult me and my fellow liberals again, Karl. Watching a fat, hateful thing like you that has never faced any greater danger in your life than a long golf shot denigrate every liberal who has put on a uniform is more demoralizing than ten thousand speeches that uphold America's highest ideals from Sen. Biden or Byrd.

Thanks to Crooks and Liars for posting the link.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

It's time to wish for an army without Rumsfeld

NY Times:

The Pentagon has repeatedly said no vehicle leaves camp without armor. But according to military records and interviews with officials, about half of the Army's 20,000 Humvees have improvised shielding that typically leaves the underside unprotected, while only one in six Humvees used by the Marines is armored at the highest level of protection.

The Defense Department continues to rely on just one small company in Ohio to armor Humvees. And the company, O'Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt, has waged an aggressive campaign to hold onto its exclusive deal even as soaring rush orders from Iraq have been plagued by delays. The Marine Corps, for example, is still awaiting the 498 armored Humvees it sought last fall, officials told The Times.

In January, when military officials tried to speed production by buying the legal rights to the armor design so they could enlist other venders to help, O'Gara demurred, calling the move a threat to its "current and future competitive position," according to e-mail records obtained from the Army.

Maybe Americans should be asking Dumbya's Uncle Bucky why troops can't get armor on their vehicles. didn't know? Well, maybe the mainstream press ought to get on the ball. You see, Uncle Bucky is on the board of directors of the sole source supplier for Humvee armor kits, Engineered Support Systems, Incorporated.

Apparently the DOD is pleased with the snail's pace progress on armor, because ESSI just got a whopping new $57 million contract in January to provide more armor at a snail's pace.

When we talk about Humvee armor, there are actually two things going on (which the NY Times didn't differentiate). There are new Humvee units coming off of the assembly line that require armor before they're shipped overseas, and there are existing Humvee units that require armor kits.

It's a little difficult to sort out, but I suspect that ESSI is just manufacturing the armor kits for deployed vehicles, and appears as well to be doing the installations in Iraq. Another company manufactures the armor kits that go on the new Humvees, O'Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt (recently acquired by Armor Holdings). Coincidentally (or not), ESSI and OGH&E are both based in Cincinnati.

I thought at first that ESSI might have contracted out the armor plate job to OGH&E, but I now think they are working on two separate tasks. Nevertheless, both companies are sole-source suppliers of armor for their respective tasks, and therein lies the problem. They're little armor monopolies, and that is neither the American way of doing things, nor is it the most efficient. Meanwhile, troops are dying every day.

Hey, remember that time in December when army specialist Thomas Green stood up at one of those photo-ops with the troops, and asked Defense Secretary Rumsfeld why he couldn't get armor for his Humvees? Rummie responded with a roundabout answer, saying the problem was "essentially a matter of physics."

Guess what happened after that incident?

Two days later, he asked Armor Holdings to increase production of armored vehicles to 550 a month, from 450. It turns out that Armor Holdings executives told the Pentagon in September that they were ready to raise production, but no one authorized the increase.

Well, it appears that the physics problem was that ol' Rummie just didn't move his arm to pick up the goddamn phone!

Meanwhile, executives over at the OGH&E plant are patting themselves on the back for assigning their employees to 10-hour shifts to meet the demand for armor. Hey, under the circumstances, would someone please suggest that they might want to add a second and third shift?!!

Maybe it's time to test Rumsfeld's pessimistic assumption that "You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have." Maybe it's time to get rid of the guy running the operation and wish for someone more competent.

Rove's war

Josh Marshall over at Talking Points Memo:

The president and his partner are more concerned with going to war with half the country than they are with war against the country's enemies abroad. Until the president thinks differently on that key point there's simply no point in dealing with him on anything.

Hat tip to Your Right Hand Thief.

Friday, June 24, 2005

PBS' Now to cover eminent domain issue

In what is sure to please arch-conservatives and liberals alike (Ken Tomlinson, are you paying attention, or just paying someone else to pay attention?), PBS' Now with David Brancaccio is broadcasting a segment on the use of eminent domain for private development THIS WEEK!

Evicted homeowners are "just skin on the sidewalk"

The former New London Development Corporation President, Claire Gaudiani, justified the NLDC's eviction of families, and the destruction of their homes, in the Connecticut Fort Trumbull neighborhood (quoted in an Institute for Justice backgrounder):

Anything that's working in our great nation is working because somebody left skin on the sidewalk.

You won't be able to visit the web site of the New London Development Corporation today - it's mysteriously been taken down. That's the organization that was given the authority to evict homeowners from their New London homes. If you could get the the NLDC website, you might find "amidst the cheerful descriptions of exciting developments, transformational changes, and new 'street furniture'...photographs of a bright red and white demolition machine tearing down a cozy brown home."

Here's my summary and analysis of the Kelo v. New London case:

Pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced in 1998 that it would build a new research plant in New London. As an incentive to locate the plant in New London, Pfizer was promised $118 million in federal and state subsidies. The plant was completed in 2001 on land lying along the Thames River in New London, and bordering the 90-acre Fort Trumbull neighborhood.

Meanwhile, the New London City Council approved a development plan to acquire the Fort Trumbull neighborhood through eminent domain, and to build there a hotel, private office space, and high-income housing. The council then granted authority to create and implement a development plan to the New London Development Corporation, a private non-profit organization.

The day before Thanksgiving, 2000, Fort Trumbull homeowners found eminent domain papers on their doors signed by the New London Development Corporation, informing them that the City of New London was seeking their homes.

Most of Fort Trumbull's residents left. Only seven properties remained amid a sea of dirt. The lots of three homes were slated for development as office space, but another four lots weren't slated for any development. Because the development plan hadn't been finalized, the NLDC had no specific plan for those lots. "It simply wanted to acquire the land, bulldoze the homes and businesses, and then sell it to developers," said the Institute for Justice. "How can you have a 'public use' for taking someone's property, which the Constitution demands, when you don't know what that use will be?"

The Institute for Justice led the fight for the remaining homeowner's rights, asserting its commitment "to litigation that will restore judicial protection of private property rights - the basic right of every American to responsibly use and enjoy his or her property."

In March 2002, the Superior Court of New London ruled in favor of four property owners. On appeal, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled 4-3 in favor of New London. Summing up the court's decision, the IJ said the court decided that "so long as a government body declared it was in financial hardship and that a private development company promised its plan would deliver jobs and taxes, the private-private takings were constitutional."

The last time the Supreme Court heard an eminent domain case was 1954. In Berman v. Parker, the Court decided the application of eminent domain could be extended beyond the requirement of "public use," to allow the removal of slums for the "public purpose" of eliminating blight and redeveloping a minority neighborhood in southwest Washington, D.C. The Court ruled that acquired land could be resold to private developers.

Over the years, other jurisdictions have expanded the opening created by the 1954 decision, gradually broadening the definition of blight to include areas that are simply not as economically affluent as the government would like.

Now, with the Supreme Court's Kelo v. New London decision, the Court legalized despotism, according to George Will (whom it pains me to quote). The power of the government can now be wielded by society's wealthiest interests to take the most precious asset from their economic lessers - their homes. The Court decided that, yes, the government can take one owner's property and give it to another owner who intends to use it for a more profitable use.

The intended use of property for a more "profitable" use, however, in itself provides the optimal solution to the problem. From an economic perspective, if a prospective owner wishes to use someone else's property for a more profitable activity, he should be willing to spend a sum up to the future value of the property. Everyone has a price they're willing to accept. The buyer should be forced to negotiate with the seller.

Instead, what the Supreme Court has done is to allow a prospective owner to confiscate property for a sum that probably only matches its current value. The Court is short circuiting the negotiation process, taking away the seller's right to bargain. This amounts to "legalized theft," remarked Dana Berliner, an Institute for Justice attorney. "Economic development projects are often crapshoots," said Berliner. "Maybe they'll work. Maybe they won't." So it follows that applying eminent domain to private development shifts the costs and risks of economic development to others.

The Fifth Amendment states, "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." The intent was to provide a way for the government to acquire land so that vital public projects, for things like roads and sewers which benefit many people but require a right of way, would not be impeded by private owners. By requiring a "public use" justification for the confiscation of private property, the amendment also intended the use of eminent domain to be a rare event, providing citizens with protection from government tyranny.

Note that one of the significant complaints of the Fort Trumbull residents was that a private organization, the New London Development Corporation, accountable to no one, was issuing the eminent domain notices.

I pose the following questions which remain unsatisfactorily answered by the Supreme Court:
What is a public good?

Does creating more jobs and raising additional tax revenue constitute a public good?

Who should be allowed to decide if a development project is a public good, and whether that public good outweighs the private loss?

How much should the government have to pay to acquire private property for public development projects?

In particular, to those who number among the more strident wing of the property rights movement, what are the limits of private property rights, and when does private use infringe upon the public benefit?

This last question raises for consideration the battle which is being fought with increasing animosity toward government regulations which attempt to protect wilderness areas for wildlife and future generations. Most recently here in Louisiana, the Vitter provision inserted into pending coastal restoration legislation would allow private owners the ability to log cypress on their properties without any government oversight.

At the same time, the ability of cypress forests to regenerate is in doubt; a broad coalition of citizens is beginning to value the intrinsic value of cypress forests for their beauty, and as a vital habitat for fisheries, migratory birds, and the mythic ivory-billed woodpecker; and the use of cypress trees for something as mundane as lawn mulch when measured against the lost value of healthy forests is being questioned.

Connecticut is not the only place where property owners are being threatened with eminent domain claims. Dana Berliner recently documented as many as 10,000 cases of eminent domain being used (or threatened use) in 41 states.

I hope the prevalence of these cases forces the Supreme Court to soon reverse its ill-considered decision.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

PBS: "Not good enough. Give it ALL back!"

Clifford the Big Red Dog, with Representative Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts and others, headed to a Capitol Hill news conference to protest proposed financing cuts for public broadcasting:

Within minutes of the House vote to restore funding to public broadcasting, the PBS web site appeal was replaced with a letter from PBS CEO Pat Mitchell, in which she stated that restoring the $100 million to CPB was good, but does not constitute full funding:

Despite this victory, we remain very concerned that essential federal funds were nonetheless eliminated for our Ready To Learn service which helps low-income parents and caregivers, for the interconnection system that links PBS with local stations and for the transition to digital broadcasting mandated by Congress.

More about the funding cuts:
House Republicans Give Big Bird "la Louisette"

A disappointing setback was the CPB appointment of Patricia Harrison, a former Republican Party co-chairman, as the CPB president and CEO.

Still, the heat is on to get Tomlinson fired. Sixteen Democratic senators called on President Bush to remove Kenneth Y. Tomlinson from the CPB.

High court endorses eviction of homeowners

In the Supreme Court's decision to allow private developers to apply, in a twisted manner, the government's fifth amendment right of eminent domain to take away people's homes for vital public interests, Justice Sandra Day O'Conner dissented:

"Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private property, but the fallout from this decision will not be random," she wrote. "The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.

"As for the victims," Justice O'Connor went on, "the government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more. The Founders cannot have intended this perverse result."

Urban planner, Moshe Adler, argued ("When Pfizer Came to New London:
Corporate Giveaway vs. Eminent Domain,", March 5 / 6, 2005):
The argument is leading the Court astray, however. It forces the Supreme Court to choose between the rights of people to live in their homes and the ability of government to pursue policy in the public interest, whereas the real issue is whether corporations should be allowed to play one jurisdiction against another in order to extract large giveaways.

In 2004 this question was examined by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, which ruled that the city of Toledo, Ohio, could not offer Daimler-Benz tax subsidies to locate there. The court banned giveaways because they interfere with interstate commerce. Had this ruling been upheld everywhere, the Fort Trumbull issue would never have arisen. If Pfizer wanted a particular property, in New London or anywhere else, it would have had to find willing sellers.

The energy "go f*** yourself" bill...

..because there can be little doubt Dick Cheney and his oil buddies were involved in authoring the energy bill.

I got an email today from the Gulf Restoration Network asking for help fighting some nasty environmental stuff in the energy bill now before the Senate.

The Clean Water Network has a fact sheet on the pro-polluter provisions of the energy bill.

From the looks of it, this isn't an energy bill as much as it is a "f*** you" bill:

The Clean Water Act requires all construction activities that disturb greater than one acre of land to take steps to control erosion, prevent significant sedimentation of streams, and avoid pollution of drinking water as well as harm to aquatic habitat for fish and wildlife. However, the oil and gas industry lobbied the House to exempt them from these "stormwater" requirements for their construction activities. This means that the oil and gas industry would not be required to have Clean Water Act stormwater control permits for constructing roads, drill pads, pipeline corridors, refineries, compressor stations, and other facilities. There is no reason to exempt oil and gas companies from pollution controls that other construction activities are required to follow.

The current version of the Senate bill does not contain the House's unwarranted exemption for stormwater runoff for oil and gas construction sites. However, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) may offer an amendment on the Senate floor that would match the House exemption.

Please ask your Senators to oppose such an amendment, and let them know that: (1) The water quality of nearby lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands is threatened by sediment and other pollutants in stormwater run-off that pours off oil and gas construction sites and into these waters. (2) EPA states that an average of 30,000 gas construction activities start each year. (3) There is no reason to exempt oil and gas companies from Clean Water Act pollution controls that other construction activities are required to follow.

Senator Inhofe (R-OK) is also considering offering an amendment to the Energy Bill that would exempt a toxic cocktail of chemicals used in oil and gas drilling from safe drinking water regulations. This amendment, like a provision already in the House Energy Bill, would say that these hydraulic drilling fluids are not to be considered "contaminants" under the Safe Drinking Water Act--even though that is exactly what they are. Please ask your Senators to oppose any amendment to exempt these fluids from federal regulations because: (1) Hydraulic fracturing fluids, including toxic chemicals such as diesel fuel, may be injected directly into or leak into underground sources of drinking water during oil and gas development to prop open fractures. (2) Exempting the discharge of these toxic fluids into groundwater would endanger drinking water sources and threaten public health. (3) It is critical that the federal government retains the ability to enact safeguards to ensure that hydraulic fracturing does not degrade water quality.

There is also a provision in the House bill exempting oil and chemical companies from product liability due to MTBE contamination of drinking water. Conventional wisdom suggests that the Senate won't allow this in their version of the energy bill, but who knows!

As for hydropower, the House bill allows dam owners the right to sidestep federal regulatory agencies, making up their own rules on the environment. The Senate version gives citizens an opportunity to appeal new rules, but then gives the hydropower companies the right to veto proposed alternatives.

So the Chinese Takeover Has Begun...

Won't it be interesting when the United States becomes a client state of China, and the US government becomes indebted to its master?

There's already been considerable speculation about the United States' economic dependency on China, and how that may limit US economic and defensive choices in the future. So dire is the situation, and so blind to the danger is the Bush administration, that the Army War College recently got involved, raising some very startling scenarios.

The NY Times is reporting today that a Chinese state-controlled oil company is offering an $18.5 billion unsolicited bid for Unocal, in what could be the first major takeover battle for an American corporation by a Chinese entity.

It kinda puts a different spin on things doesn't it?

Take, for example, the vote to allow oil exploration on the outer continental shelf - a provision inserted by our very own Louisiana Democrat Republican Mary Landrieu into the pending Senate energy bill.

The moratorium on shelf drilling was established in the 1980's to limit the threat of contaminating yet unspoiled coastline, but there's another aspect of oil exploration itself that is seldom mentioned. Oil exploration is typically done by firing chained explosives across wide grids - what can be an extremely destructive activity to local ecology. I don't know what impact that might have on oceans, but the impact of oil exploration, without even considering actual oil drilling, merits attention.

So, what would we citizens have to say about Unocal, for example, conducting oil exploration activity in the Gulf of Mexico, or off the coast of California, or even outright drilling, to benefit a Chinese company that repatriates all of the profits from mineral extraction here in the United States?

Well, that's what we do to countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and now Iraq. In fact, little do we think about it, but that's a defacto situation here in the United States.

Profits made on oil resource extraction here in the United States are being moved offshore - we just don't hear much about it because the companies doing it are US companies. Exxon Mobil, for example, has 17 subsidiaries in tax haven countries, including 13 in the Cayman Islands which does not impose a corporate tax, according to Government Accounting Office figures reported by Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) in 2004. Despite the protections enjoyed by US law (and let's not forget the protections earned for oil companies by US soldiers, paid for with the blood of Americans), and notwithstanding over $700 million earned in FY2001 by Exxon Mobil in US contracts, Exxon Mobil's shirking of its responsibility to share in the costs of nationhood is not just unpatriotic - it verges on treason.

As much as $650 billion was calculated in 2004 to exist overseas in "deferred tax shelters," although the Congress recently voted to allow the repatriation of those profits for a pittance 5.25 percent effective tax rate (here, here and here).

I don't want to stray too far afield in the realm of tax havens, but consider how absolutely insidious are the tactics, and even the language used, to sweeten the conversation about screwing America, as in this corporate advice column:

Yes, the tax issue may be "a" reason for going offshore but it may not be the only or principal reason. ...

Addressing a large audience of government regulators and bankers from forty countries, Walter H. Diamond, Editor and Economist had this to say:

"Within the past decade, the once eye-catching words 'Tax Havens' have given way to the far more acceptable term of 'Offshore Financial Centers.' Reflecting its increasing importance in the world of international finance, the Offshore Financial Center has vastly improved the global image of the continually popular 'Tax Haven.'" ...

"In conclusion, it is our firm conviction that offshore investment operations are here to stay and will expand rapidly in the future. In fact, we believe that the 21st Century will be known as the era of offshore domiciles."

Think about it! Here are these super rich effing a**holes talking about protecting their wealth, minimizing the contribution they have to make to the societies where they make their profits. Don't we all wish we could move our "assets" to offshore tax havens. Alas, most of us can't, but we pay our taxes dutifully, all the while lamenting that as much as 68 cents on every tax dollar goes toward military expenditures, and that we may be getting as little as 10 cents on every military dollar spent. As I have said elsewhere, capitalist money knows no borders, respects no flag, cares nothing about the environment, labor, living conditions, or the education and protection of citizens.

How much differently will US citizens view this issue when the company repatriating profits from the US is a Chinese company?

I welcome the change in perspective.

Although I'm not very optimistic, maybe we can get US corporations to start acting like responsible "citizens" - oh yes, I do mean citizens. That's how they've always been defined by US law, as entities with the same privileges as US citizens, without any of the obligations or penalties to which citizens are held. See The Corporation for more on the psychopathic character of corporations.


I got so carried away, I forgot to mention the one thing that disturbed me most about the possibility of a Chinese company owning a US oil firm. Imagine a future Iraq-type scenario in which pressure by a foreign-owned oil company is brought to bear on the US government, an excuse for invasion is conjured, and American soldiers are sent to fight and die for the benefit of that foreign-owned corporation.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Tom Delay: Iraq is Ready for Tourists

The CIA says Iraq is a training ground for terrorists? No, no, no!

Tom Delay (a man we can trust), says things in Iraq are far better than the images we are shown on television.

Ah heck - Iraq is no worse than Houston!

Why, "nobody'd go to Houston" if all they heard about was the "violence, murders, robberies, [and] deaths on the highways."

Proclaimed Delay:

Go to Iraq. And see what's actually happening there.

Delay's remarks were reported in The Raw Story, and originally appeared in the Houston Chronicle.

War Against Iran Begins

The Air Force reported today that a U-2 spy plane crashed in Southwest Asia. The pilot died.

The U2 was returning to base from a mission in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, said the Air Force, but the crash location could not be disclosed "due to host-nation sensitivities."

Could that host nation be Iran? If the plane's home base was in, say, Kuwait, then it might have flown over Iran's air space to go to and from Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Mixter has a post quoting the former UN Weapons Inspector, Scott Ritter, who argued in a Raw Story interview that the war against Iran has already begun, and the Bush administration has plans on the table for scaling up the war:

The reality is that the US war with Iran has already begun. As we speak, American over flights of Iranian soil are taking place, using pilotless drones and other, more sophisticated, capabilities.

The violation of a sovereign nation's airspace is an act of war in and of itself. But the war with Iran has gone far beyond the intelligence-gathering phase.

Then, consider the possibility that war with North Korea may also be just around the corner.

CIA: Bush's War Increases Future Threat of Terrorism

Iraq is now a terrorist training ground, said the CIA in a now widely-disseminated classified assessment from last month.

Citing that report, Reuters reported that Iraqi and international insurgents are "developing a broad range of deadly skills" which will present a threat to other nations in coming years.

Iraq is providing "better-trained Islamic terrorists than the 1980s Afghanistan war that gave rise to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda," said a U.S. counterterrorism official said on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

Attacks Up, Ergo Insurgents' Last Throes

What logic was Dickhead Cheney using when he said last week that the Iraqi insurgency was in its "last throes":

The NY Times reported that (emphasis added):

Last month there were about 700 attacks against American forces using so-called improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.'s, the highest number since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, according to the American military command in Iraq and a senior Pentagon military official. Attacks on Iraqis also reached unprecedented levels, Lt. Gen. John Vines, a senior American ground commander in Iraq, told reporters on Tuesday.

Maybe Cheney was feeling optimistic knowing that his old pals at "overcharges-are-us" Halliburton got that sweet $30 million contract to build a new torture facility to replace the one at Guantanamo Bay:
A subsidiary of Halliburton, Kellogg Brown & Root Services, has been awarded $30 million to build a 220-bed prison for terrorism suspects at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, the Pentagon announced Friday. ...

The job is part of a larger contract that could be worth up to $500 million through 2010, the Pentagon said.

Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey, criticized the deal, calling Halliburton the "scandal-plagued former employer of Vice President Cheney."

Frist's boneless lemon cat

Nick over at Scramble Your Own Eggs said the cat was out of the bag about prisoner abuse at Guantanamo Bay. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) said last week that the detainees prisoners were getting gourmet meals (reported in the NY Times):

The guy who wanted to drive that plane into the building at the World Trade Center is going to dine tomorrow on lemon fish with two types of vegetables, two types of fruit, and then he will be afforded his taxpayer-funded Koran, taxpayer-funded prayer beads and oil so he can pray, presumably to kill more Americans.

Well then, maybe we otta give 'em some more torture then. Show 'em what freedom is all about. They had to do something wrong. After we torture 'em up some more, they'll confess.

Oops, that wasn't lemon fish. It was boneless cat, courtesy of Bill Frist.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Bucket o' Frist

Realitique is quoting Josh Marshall, who appeared on the Al Franken Show. About Bill Frist's flip-flopping support for the Bolton nomination, Marshall said:

"Frist is a boneless chicken."

Well, I got'chyer Frist bucket o' boneless chicken right'cheer: that boneless chicken? Or cat!

Actually, it's pretty funny, but the truth is, Frist probably took his orders from Karl Rove who's telling Bush to go around the Senate and make another recess appointment.

How long is a "last throe"? that like the last string of beads thrown by those nasty truck parades on Mardi Gras?

Making reference to Dick Cheney's glorious pontification last week that the Iraqi insurgents are (once again) in their "last throes" (so the Iraq War must surely be near an end Mr. Cheney?), Terry Moran (ABC News) stoked the fire a little to see if he could draw smoke from Scott McClellan:

Q Scott, is the insurgency in Iraq in its last throes?

MR. McCLELLAN: Terry, [lie, lie, lie]....

Q But the insurgency is in its last throes?

MR. McCLELLAN: The Vice President talked about that the other day -- you have a desperate group of terrorists who recognize how high the stakes are in Iraq. A free Iraq will be a significant blow to their ambitions.

Q But they're killing more Americans, they're killing more Iraqis. That's the last throes?

MR. McCLELLAN: Innocent -- I say innocent civilians. And it doesn't take a lot of people to cause mass damage when you're willing to strap a bomb onto yourself, get in a car and go and attack innocent civilians. That's the kind of people that we're dealing with. That's what I say when we're talking about a determined enemy.

Q Right. What is the evidence that the insurgency is in its last throes?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think I just explained to you the desperation of terrorists and their tactics.

Q What's the evidence on the ground that it's being extinguished?

MR. McCLELLAN: Terry, [blah, blah, blah]....

Q Well, I'm just wondering what the metric is for measuring the defeat of the insurgency.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you can go back and look at the Vice President's remarks. I think he talked about it.

Q Yes. Is there any idea how long a last throe lasts for?

MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Steve.

Meanwhile, monkey boy responded to Republican criticism of the Iraq War by admitting that the war was "tough" going.

That sounds like a familiar SNL parody of the debates. You know, it's "haaarrd" being the president. Workin' Saturdays. Readin' documents. Ordering takeout.

Corporate radio - boo hoo

It's a pathetic little story about how corporate radio is having to change its marketing strategies to hold on to listeners who are fleeing in droves to satellite, podcasts, and iPods. Oh, listeners want live local dj's who pick their own music? What a concept!...Radio’s Dirty Little Promotion Secret.

I'm no fan of - they like to slam viewers with ads - but their list of radio-related links is pretty comprehensive.

Miscreants, deviants, and the intellectually curious, tune in to WTUL. By the way, one of the best shows is on right now - Duncan Edwards, 8-10 AM Tuesdays.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Vitter cypress mulch provision bagged by the press

Finally! Comprehensive (local print) press coverage of the Vitter provision to allow unregulated clearcuts of cypress forests appeared in the Lafayette weekly, The Independent.

I've had a number of posts on this issue (NPR links included in the second post):

Stop turning cypress forests into mulch

Ivory-billed woodpecker, cypress logging, Corps of Engineers, & Vitter provision

The story is also in New Orleans' Gambit Weekly, where you can see David Vitter's smug little puss, and read his ridiculous rant that some day the Corps of Engineers might want to regulate the trampoline in his back yard as a hazard to navigation. Oh, but he didn't want to return any inquiries for an interview. No, no, no. Then people might see what a total buffoon he is.

Which reminds me of the post I've been meaing to write some day about how Vitter is not the family man he claims to be (having availed himself of a call girl for an extended period of time), nor is his campaign chest completely filled with clean money (having done some dirty work for Tom Delay and Jack Abramoff).


Every American who supports public television must join together to fight!

That's the message that New Orleans PBS affiliate WYES started broadcasting this weekend. Stations across the country are asking Americans to stand up for the editorial independence of public broadcasting, and to stop the effort by the House of Representatives to make the deepest cuts to public broadcasting in history:

Public broadcasting needs you to join the fight – our future depends upon it!

The political strength of local public television and radio stations, PBS and NPR lies in the support we receive from communities across the nation. In this time of danger, we need our supporters mobilized.

Please ask your Member of Congress to commit to supporting any amendments or other legislative remedies to provide level funding for all public broadcasting programs.

Take Action Today, by Wednesday, June 22 it could be too late!

The LA Times has a story on the effort by local stations across the country, including remarks by Orange County KOCE President, Mel Rogers, which reflect in spirit the views expressed by station managers around the country:
KOCE says it relies on 17.5% — $1.4 million out of a $8 million budget — from the federal government. Losing that money probably would not shut the station down, but it would affect its ability to provide quality local programming, Rogers said.

"There's a sense of grave concern," he said.

"We would have fewer shows. We would have fewer quality shows. We would have to start worrying about getting more viewers instead of the quality of content. We might as well bring in 'Dukes of Hazzard' reruns instead of 'American Experience' so we can get viewers."

Here's my letter to Rep. Bill Jefferson:
Know that I am extremely angry about the effort by Republicans in the House to slash funding to public broadcasting, and by Republican efforts to interfere with the editorial independence of PBS and NPR by forcing changes in programming that promote a Republican agenda.

I am watching your actions on these issues very carefully, and I expect you to fight hard to defend public broadcasting from partisan interference.

Here's the WYES action page.

Or, go to

I've covered this issue pretty extensively:
House Republicans give Big Bird "la Louisette"

Rice-a-Phony Democracy

Condaleeza Rice at the American University of Cairo, before meeting with Egyptian leaders today to press them for free elections in Egypt (listen on NPR):

For 60 years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region, here in the Middle East, and we achieved neither. Now, we are taking a different course. We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all people.

Throughout the Middle East the fear of free of choices can no longer justify the denial of liberty. It is time to abandon the excuses that are made to avoid the hard work of democracy.

Well, first of all, it's a flat out lie that the United States gave a sh** for democracy in the Middle East anywhere. To the contrary, dictatorships have always been the favorite friends of the United States.

After the speech, Rice said she wouldn't meet with the largest political group in Egypt, The Muslim Brotherhood, because it is banned from politics by the Egyptian government. In fact, all Islamic political parties are banned in Egypt.

Wow! What a courageous stand for democracy!

So...why are soldiers dying in Iraq? For democracy? Why is "democracy" so much more important in Iraq than in Egypt, or elsewhere? If the Secretary of State can't even speak up for democracy in Egypt, why should soldiers be dying for it in Iraq?

Friday, June 17, 2005

Baseball, apple pie, and Gitmo

Ominous remarks by Rumsfeld on why the United States can hold over 500 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay for more than three years without proving they are terrorists, releasing them if they aren't, or charging them with crimes. To date, only 4 prisoners have been charged. Rumsfeld (quoted on NPR):

Traditional doctrines covering criminal and military prisoners do not apply well enough. We are in unexplored territory with this unconventional and complex struggle against extremism.

I'm all for locking up terrorists who like killing innocent people. That's why I support prosecuting Monkey Boy Bush, Dickhead Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, and Donald Rumsfeld. That's why I also support charging and prosecuting the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. I'm afraid that what the Bush administration may be covering up, however, is the fact that they don't have anything to show for their "war on terrah" but a bunch of guys at Guantanamo whom they don't have any evidence against.

Before another 9-11 happens, maybe the crack Homeland Security team should spend more time hunting down real terrorist threats, instead of going after 16-year-old girls in chat rooms, and students taking pictures of polluting chemical factories.

Meanwhile, according to John H over at PowerLineBlog (quoted by Realitique, the cruelty of torturing prisoners is as American as apple pie. It's part of a long tradition of torture by the United States, and one of the CIA's and SOA's favorite exports.

Stop turning cypress forests into mulch

The new Citizens for Louisiana Progress web site has an excellent tool for citizens to be heard on issues of importance to the state. After signing up, you can write a letter that will be emailed to local papers, and state and federal politicians.

Here's my letter to protect wetland forests:

Cypress forests in Louisiana are disappearing at a record rate, reappearing in big box retailers as plastic bags of cypress mulch.

A broad array of citizens of all political stripes are finally beginning to recognize the irreversible impact of human activities on the wetlands of Louisiana. In addition to their intrinsic beauty, Louisiana forests are a vital habitat for migratory birds, fisheries, and an abundance of other flora and fauna. It is in the cypress/tupelo forests of Louisiana, in fact, where hope remains that the mythic ivory-billed woodpecker may have escaped extinction.

Unfortunately, just as efforts are underway to reverse the further degradation of Louisiana wetlands, the Vitter provision to roll back the Corps of Engineers' authority to protect wetland forests is now pending approval in the US Senate's coastal restoration bill.

A wiser course would be to pass a wholesale ban on the sale of cypress mulch, as many north shore communities have already done. Then, a moratorium on cypress logging should be passed.

After all, can anyone imagine a picture of Louisiana without cypress forests?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Act now to protect cypress forests and wetlands

The Coalition for Louisiana Progress has neatly summed up a bill passed in the Louisiana House, and now headed for the floor of the Louisiana Senate:

Senator Mike Smith (D-La., Dist. 31) introduced a concurrent resolution to support action by Congress in directing the New Orleans District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to end use of Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act to require a permit for clear cutting of Louisiana's cypress forests. Senate Concurrent Resolution 71 would discourage the Corps of Engineers from requiring that forestry practices in Louisiana's forested wetland areas are sustainable.

Contact your state representative now to protect our wetlands.

This resolution comes at a time when the Louisiana delegation to Congress is pressing for increased funding to protect our wetlands and restore our coasts. Cypress forests are crucial to the health of our wetlands. The trees' roots secure the land and prevent erosion, while the canopies provide a resting place for an array of migratory birds. Studies by the state-sponsored Science Working Group on Coastal Wetland Forest Conservation and Use suggest a halt to logging certain cypresses that are unlikely to grow back. You can read the report at:

Many conservation organizations, including the Gulf Restoration Network, the Sierra Club- Delta Chapter, the Mississippi River Basin Alliance and the Louisiana Audubon Council, are calling for a cooperative effort to save Louisiana's cypress swamps.

SCR 71 would allow clear cutting of cypress trees, regardless of age or ability to grow back. As the state tree, the cypress is a large part of Louisiana's identity. SCR 71 passed easily through the House Transportation Committee and is now headed to the full House.

Protect Louisiana culture, and ask your state rep. to vote against SCR 71.

You can view the full text of the bill here.

This measure was positively created to support the Vitter provision, which was inserted into coastal restoration legislation now on the floor of the US Senate (S.728). If Vitter's provision is passed, it will permit the unregulated decimation of vast tracts of private land, vacating precious wetland forests of any cypress and tupelo. It will give a green light to eliminate habitat that is already disappearing at alarming rates. These are, coincidentally, areas in which the last hope remains of saving the mythic ivory-billed woodpecker.

The La. Senate bill (SCR 71) was passed by a vote of 34 to 0. It is now in the La. House Committee on Transportation, Highways, and Public Works. If passed in committee, it will then be sent to the full House floor for a vote.

Not only must Section 10 be protected, and Vitter's provision be defeated, but a moratorium on cypress logging needs to be established. A good first step toward a complete moratorium would be to follow the example of many communities on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain which have banned the sale of cypress mulch.

On Wisconsin!, impeachment, DSM hearings

The Wisconsin Democratic Party passed a resolution at its party meeting in Oshkosh this past weekend demanding impeachment hearings:

...the Democratic Party of Wisconsin asks Congress to immediately begin impeachment proceedings against President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld.

Cindy Sheehan, co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace, whose son Casey was killed in Iraq, said today:
Members of Congress -- whether they are Democrats or Republicans -- should do the right thing. They have a Constitutional duty to investigate the facts surrounding the Downing Street Memo. They didn't ask my son if he was a Democrat or Republican when he joined the military. These are life and death questions and should be treated that way.

Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Committee hearings on the Downing Street Memo(s) and pre-war intelligence on Iraq's WMD capabilities are live right now (

The long nightmare of freedom is over

Stolen from Felafel Sex, who stole it from from Bartcop, who stole it from somewhere else. Thanks Felafel!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Global warming naysayer couldn't take the heat

NY Times:

Philip A. Cooney, the former White House staff member who repeatedly revised government scientific reports on global warming, will go to work for Exxon Mobil this fall, the oil company said yesterday.

Mr. Cooney resigned as chief of staff for President Bush's environmental policy council on Friday, two days after documents obtained by The New York Times revealed that he had edited the reports in ways that cast doubt on the link between the emission of greenhouse gases and rising temperatures.

My previous post on Cooney:
Disassembling dissembly on global warming

House Republicans give Big Bird "la Louisette"

Republicans voted last week to give Big Bird the guillotine. The House Appropriations subcommittee approved the biggest cuts to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in the organization's history!

The bill will cut $300 million from the $400 million CPB budget, in addition to cutting $39 million in funding to convert stations to digital programming and $50 million to upgrade old satellite technology. The bill will also totally eliminate $23 million for children's shows that include "Sesame Street," "Clifford the Big Red Dog," "Between the Lions" and "Dragon Tales."

The public broadcasting cuts come in the wake of partisan actions by Ken Tomlinson, the Republican chair of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, to make public broadcasting programs more favorable to Republicans.

When the Bush administration finally gets away with its lies, we'll all be drafted to fight a perpetual world war, the rich will be richer and will pay no taxes, the poor and middle class will be debt slaves, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting will be serving Big Bird for dinner.

Despite Tomlinson's complaints that PBS programs are biased, a wide majority of citizens believe public broadcasting provides programs that are more balanced and trustworthy than commercial broadcasters provide. That faith in public broadcasting may be misguided, thinks William Hoynes. He argued in Newsday last week that, if anything, PBS has become too commercial, failing in its mission to offer an alternative to commercial broadcasting:

On PBS today, children are sold breakfast cereal and fruit juice, among other products, before and after each of the daytime kids’ programs. And these programs serve as daily advertisements for their own repertoire of licensed products, from toothbrushes to computer games. The business programs all are directed at investors, covering the economy through a narrow corporate lens. And news programs feature the same elite talking heads who appear regularly on commercial television news. ...

Studies of public television over the last decade show that Tomlinson's charges of liberal bias are off the mark. In contrast to conservative claims that public television routinely features the voices of anti-establishment critics, scholarly research shows that alternative perspectives are rare on public television, and are effectively drowned out by the stream of government, expert, and corporate views that represent the vast majority of sources on public television programs. These bias charges only reinforce the idea that public television is better off playing it safe.

My previous posts on this topic:
PBS under attack

Who is this guy?

People Get Ready on WTUL today (May 26, 2005)

Decolonize your mind

Pissed? Contact your members of Congress. Better yet, go to and respond to their call for action to save PBS:
Contact the House to put a stop to efforts to "defund" public broadcasting.

Sign Free Press' petition calling for town hall meetings and Tomlinson's resignation.

Write the editor of your local newspaper to save public broadcasting from political interference.

Join the Action Squad to meet activists in your community.

Contribute to the Free Press Action Fund.

Then, if you have any time to kill, you might entertain yourself by giving a verbal flogging to an effing right-wing nut job over at PBS Watch.

Finally, in my digging around for this post, I found a great archive of old Sesame Street photos. How many out there remember when Oscar the Grouch was ORANGE!

And thanks to whoever it is over at LO2 for the Big Bird dinner picture (there are a bunch more fun images there).

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Bumper stickers

Still the moron:

Support our troops - bring them home:

Monday, June 13, 2005


The second Downing Street Memo, published in the Sunday Times UK, revealed that Cabinet officials to Prime Minister Tony Blair advised him on July 21, 2002 (eight months before the invasion of Iraq) on the legal and strategic difficulties presented by a war against Iraq, and how the British and Americans planned to game events to ensure that the only result would be war.


1) The Bush administration lacked plans for the post-invasion occupation of Iraq:

The US Government's military planning for action against Iraq is proceeding apace. But, as yet, it lacks a political framework. In particular, little thought has been given to creating the political conditions for military action, or the aftermath and how to shape it.

2) The Blair government conspired with the Bush administration to sidestep the illegality of regime change as a reason for war by seeking a way to make Saddam Hussein appear as a threat to the security of other nations:
US views of international law vary from that of the UK and the international community. Regime change per se is not a proper basis for military action under international law. But regime change could result from action that is otherwise lawful. We would regard the use of force against Iraq, or any other state, as lawful if exercised in the right of individual or collective self-defence, if carried out to avert an overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe, or authorised by the UN Security Council.

3) The British recognized the potential for a protracted war in Iraq, acknowledging at the same time that the Bush administration had absolutely no plans for such an eventuality:
A post-war occupation of Iraq could lead to a protracted and costly nation-building exercise. As already made clear, the US military plans are virtually silent on this point.

4) The British planned to corner Saddam Hussein with an ultimatum that would be impossible to fulfill, thus making war the only course of action:
It is just possible that an ultimatum could be cast in terms which Saddam would reject (because he is unwilling to accept unfettered access) and which would not be regarded as unreasonable by the international community. However, failing that (or an Iraqi attack) we would be most unlikely to achieve a legal base for military action by January 2003.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Exxon Secrets

Map out the connections between Philip Cooney, Sallie Baliunas, Willie Soon, and lots of other Exxon-paid science-bashing buffoons with this fun tool available at

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Disassembling dissembly on global warming

Philip Cooney is the chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality. That's the White House's top environmental policy office.

ABC reporter Terry Moran attempted today to force White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan to clarify Phil Cooney's qualifications to dissemble by diassembling scientific documents on global warming (emphasis added):

Q The person in question, Phil Cooney, does he have any scientific background at all?

MR. McCLELLAN: Like I said, there are policy people and scientists who are involved in this process, in the interagency review process. And he's one of the policy people involved in that process, and someone who's very familiar with the issues relating to climate change and the environment.

Q Because of his work lobbying for the oil industry?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'll be glad to get you his background, Terry. But he's one of many people who are involved in the interagency review process....

McClellan never clarified Cooney's credentials.

The NY Times today reported that Cooney's non-scientific background and previous experience working for the largest oil lobby tainted his perspective on global warming, and published examples of language in official reports that Cooney sanitized to minimize the urgency of finding solutions to global warming.

Cooney's handwritten edits on those global warming documents were obtained by the Government Accountability Project, a whistleblower organization.

The documents were handed over by Rick Piltz, after he recently resigned from the government office that coordinates climate research. In his resignation, Piltz said:
I have not seen a situation like the one that has developed under this administration during the past four years, in which politicization by the White House has fed back directly into the science program in such a way as to undermine the credibility and integrity of the program in its relationship to the research community, to program managers, to policymakers, and to the public interest.

What was Cooney doing before he began reviewing slashing global warming reports? Cooney worked for the American Petroleum Institute until he was hired by the White House in 2001.

So the guy went from the most influential oil lobby to the most influential environmental policy office, with no scientific credentials, and cleansed documents to diminish the evidence of global warming.

Another Bush administration spokesman, Robert Hopkins, defended the sanitization of global warming documents by stating that the edits were necessary in order to achieve "consistency" between programs and policy. So, the Bush administration doctored scientific evidence to issue a policy, and set forth programs, which downgraded the threat of global warming. The Bush administration fixed the facts around its policy on global warming, obfuscating the evidence and obstructing any action.

That sounds remarkably like another recent discovery, the Downing Street Memo, in which the chief of British intelligence, Richard Dearlove, stated that the Bush administration decided to go to war with Iraq before a war could be justified. Eight months before the war started, Dearlove told Prime Minister Tony Blair:
Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.

Shocked? But wait, there's more.

The Bush administration isn't even listening to objective science on the issue of global warming. The White House policy was written by ExxonMobil, the world's biggest oil company. The Guardian UK reported the White House asked Exxon executives what its policy should be on global warming, and what would be acceptable alternatives to the Kyoto Treaty. The evidence of Exxon influence on White House policy was revealed in State Department documents obtained in a Freedom of Information request by Greenpeace.

In the joint press conference Wednesday with Tony Blair, President Bush said that the issue of global warming needed more consideration, more research, more delay (hmm...kind of sounds like Bush's criticism of the United Nations as a debating society):
In terms of climate change, I've always said it's a serious long-term issue that needs to be dealt with. And my administration isn't waiting around to deal with the issue, we're acting. I don't know if you're aware of this, but we lead the world when it comes to dollars spent, millions of dollars spent on research about climate change. We want to know more about it. It's easier to solve a problem when you know a lot about it. And if you look at the statistics, you'll find the United States has taken the lead on this research.

"It's easier to solve a problem when you know a lot about it?" This is the President of the United States? What? Really people, you have to hear monkey boy stammer this little nugget of wisdom (it's 2:19 minutes in).

There was another little bit of Bush stammering that deserves attention. In response to a question about the Downing Street Memo:
Well, I -- you know, I read kind of the characterizations of the memo, particularly when they dropped it out in the middle of his race. I'm not sure who "they dropped it out" is, but -- I'm not suggesting that you all dropped it out there. (Laughter.) And somebody said, well, you know, we had made up our mind to go to use military force to deal with Saddam. There's nothing farther from the truth.

I just have to say - Hey! You guys and gals in the White House press corps! The next time you want to ask a question about global warming, why not hold up a picture? You know how much easier it is for the president to understand something when he can see a picture.

Here's a great visual that gets the point across.

Or how about this series of panels of South Cascade Glacier (Washington) retreating, 1928, 1979, and 2003:

Color works better for you Mr. President? How about this image of the warming trend in the Arctic Circle between 1981 and 2001:

Hey President Bush, other than global warming, how else would you explain the reams of NASA evidence of global warming:
More than 110 glaciers have disappeared from Montana’s Glacier National Park over the past 150 years, and researchers estimate that the park’s remaining 37 glaciers may be gone in another 25 years. Half a world away on the African equator, Hemingway’s snows of Kilimanjaro are steadily melting and could completely disappear in the next 20 years. And in the Alps, glaciers are retreating and disappearing every year, much to the dismay of mountain climbers, tourist agencies, and environmental researchers.

Or how about this: The University of Colorado - Boulder predicted in 2001 that Alaska's Columbia glacier would retreat as much as 10 miles in 10 years. 10 MILES! And that rate of retreat is increasing:
In 1977, the glacier was 41.3 miles long and, at its terminus, was moving at 1.3 miles per year, said Meier. By 1999, the glacier's length had decreased to 33.5 miles, but its speed at the terminus had increased to 5.5 miles per year, or more than 80 feet per day.

There are more images here, here, here, here, and here, and more in-depth research reported here.

For more on how Exxon has muddied the perception of global warming, including how it funds think tanks and influences the press, the most comprehensive resource I've seen recently is in the May/June 2005 issue of Mother Jones:

There's even a handy little chart of how much money ExxonMobil has poured into think tanks.

Finally (thanks to Globalize This!) maybe those guys in the White House who refuse to admit to global warming have been reading 10 Ways to Destroy Earth at