Friday, December 09, 2011

Following Naomi Klein`s Good Advice

(cross-posted at Firedoglake)

I am writing this, my first FDL diary, as a response to papau`s excellent diary, Naomi Klein Speaks on the Solution to Climate Change -- Anyone Listening? I`d started a comment but it just went on and on, so I figured I`d better stuff it on its own post.

Ah, Naomi, she is a great light. Coincidentally, Mr HotFlash, a fan of both Dr Klein and the Toronto Public Library, came home from the library yesterday with a DVD of Naomi Klein`s May 2008 address at the Friends Meeting House in London (Eng). It basically reprises her Shock Doctrine, which we have both read, but still very, very much worth seeing. At the end she concluded that if `we`want to avoid being swept up by New World Order with its hideous wealth transfer and (incidental, oops, sorry there... yuck! I seem to have peasant on my shoe!) crushing of humanity, we will have do what they have done: We will have to prepare for the future. Mr H remarked that that`s what we have been doing, although slowly, as mostly it takes all the running we can do to stay in the same place. However, we do have a plan and a direction, and have been able to implement a lot of it. It`s nowhere near where I`d like to be, but it`s enough out of the mainstream that most of our neighbours think we are weird, so I guess it`s something.

So, am I listening? Yeah, here`s what we are doing and would love to hear what you are doing -- we can`t ever have too many good ideas `lying around`.

Long ago, I concluded that if we wait for the govt+corp complex to lead on renewable energy we will all freeze in the dark. Furthermore, it will not be possible to harness renewable energy in suffic q`ties to replace oil+coal+nuke power at current consumption levels any time soon, and probably never. The good news is that the amounts and types of energy that would be responsible in the future are easy to produce on small scale, at home. Yeah, really. Life will be different than today, but not impossible or even unpleasant. Our parents, grandparents or great grandparents managed just fine, and we can do way better than they did.

At Chez HotFlash we have inventoried our power use and are preparing for the future by working our way off the grid. We have a `normal`(heh) household plus we make our living building musical instruments in our home as well. We live in a big city (Toronto). Our area is an older village that got swallowed by Toronto over a century ago, but it still maintains its main streets, a lively shopping area and a local cohesiveness (google G20 Toronto Parkdale).

Over the past 25 yrs we have been consciously reducing and thinking in terms of renewable energy, and the has developed into what is now a written-out, step-by-step plan to take the house off-grid. It`s a slow process but it`s also a learning and maturing process, so slow is fine. We don`t have a lot of $$ so we are doing most of the work ourselves. And I think we`ve made more progress than the govt : ).

When I bought this house in the 80`s, one reason was that it had a nice south-facing roof peak, ideal for solar. Abt that time the city instituted a building code change that outlawed roof installations such as solar panels or heat exchangers. Thanks to Naomi and the `Lake and others, I understand now that that was corporate pushback. (note: that regulation has been recinded, but you still need lots of permits and stuff). I had installed a natural gas-fired hot water heat system abt 30 yrs ago, reasoning that Canada has lots of natural gas, then came fracking so we recently moved `ìnstall solar hot water heating`up on the priority list. Last fall we re-shingled and reinforced the roof deck and supports, we hope to get solar hot h2o going in 2012, but it`ll happen eventually.

Re electicity, we analysed our use to see how we can reduce it. Most elec used in our house is converted to mechanical energy. It seems profoundly stupid to generate electricity, send it across a grid, then convert it to mechanical energy. So we are moving from power tools to hand tools for much of our work, both biz and around the house. It is both sobering and liberating to remember that the pyramids, the Cathedral of Notre Dame and the Taj Mahal were all built without a cordless drill or circular saw! Some tools we are keeping (eg, the Big Bandsaw), but I can see a day when we may again have local sawmills or a local labour pool for help with the big jobs that we currently use these for. Or maybe we`ll find better hand tools than are currently available to take their place.

Just thinking about things differently can lead to interesting solutions.

For instance, Why am I spending energy to heat my house for much of the year, then spending more energy to cool one small area of it? I am talking about the refrigerator. I have replanned my kitchen, it will include a cold cupboard-cum-cold air intake (a heat exchanger, rather than raw outside air) built against the north wall to take advantage of some of that free, non-polluting cold. For cooking we are currently using natural gas. Wood gas seems a good, renewable and carbon-zero alternative, but not allowed under current codes, so for now we will replace the current Jennaire cooktop with more efficient gas burners which will take either natural gas or propane and will probably work on woodgas, assuming it will be allowed in the future (or govt will be so drowned that regulations aren`t enforceable -- whatever).

Have already changed over the Big Oven for two toaster ovens and two microwaves. They make much more sense for the way we cook. We use the crock-pot a lot, we plan to put a direct solar cooking box in the roof to augment and if it works, replace the c`pot. This to be done after we see where the solar h20 and PVC panels are going.

Why convert sunlight to electricity, store it in batteries and then convert it back to light? Work areas are being redone to take more advanatage of natural light, incl installing more windows, skylights or light tunnels to help. Work schedule changed ditto, so more `sun-to-sun`.

About the only things we really need electricity, as in, actual stream of moving electrons, for is night lighting and computers. And it seems stupid to generate 120v 60 cycle for stuff that takes 5v or 12v DC. It even seems stupid to store lots of electricity in a batteries, since mostly if there is a need for light or computer, there will be a person involved. A person-powered foot treadle (like powered my grandmas sewing machine) will power my laptop and some LED`s while I hang out at LateLateNight. And a good use for that pesky `restless leg syndrome`.

There`s lots of other areas to think about. We are in the city so transportation is not a big problem. Mostly we can move ourselves around by bicycle, there is pretty good public transit, if we need to move ourselves+stuff there is Autoshare and for just stuff there are lots of cartage companies. We can`t grow much in our tiny, dark backyard, well maybe mushrooms, but there are people like Erica Lemieux who have figured a way around that.

I believe that the most important renewable energy source for the future, though, will be friends -- lots and lots of friends. Although we are not by nature `joiners`, we made a conscious effort to join our local neighbourhood and residents associations, become involved with our local food coop and made a project of meeting and talking to every one of our neighbours -- I have been keeping a database and it looks like we-all will soon be starting a neighbourhood blog or Facebook group or something to òccupy`our street in the coming year. We will need friends with sunny backyards, friends with muscle, friends who know about electricity, friends with a site for geothermal, friends with a cup of sugar, and even friends with guns. I hope not, but if it comes to that, I don`t think I can count on the Toronto Police Dept to defend me.

So, that`s what we are doing right now and the direction we plan to go it, although it changes as we learn more and makle new connections. I think this sort of thing will converge nicely with the occupy movement, too. What plans do you have for the future?

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Oh look, the Dimmycrats is Writin' to me Agin! LOL!!

----- Original Message -----
From: Brad Woodhouse,
To: HotFlash
Sent: Thursday, May 19, 2011 1:02 PM
Subject: Birther nonsense

HotFlash --

When one-time Republican frontrunner Donald Trump dropped out of the presidential race, I thought we were done with all this birther nonsense.

But I guess right-wing conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi finally got to prove a Democrat wrong. Corsi just released his latest book, called -- wait for it -- Where's the Birth Certificate?

Fortunately, the Obama campaign knows just how to handle things like this: Treat them like the joke they are. That's why I wanted to be sure you saw the campaign's email from yesterday offering "Made in the USA" mugs with the President's birth certificate. You can get yours here:



--------- (my response)-----------------

Brad -- (may I call you Brad -- ?)

I don't give a damn about the birth certificate. The Constitution says "natural-born American", which, unlike "natural-born citizen", does not actually have a legal definition. I take it to preclude C-sections, although I think that's not fair. But WRT Obama, what I want to see is the *change* that I voted for, OK? We are still in Iraq, still in Afghanistan, now in Libya and apparently oozing on over to Pakistan; workers and wages are being attacked; the DOJ is still sitting on its hands re criminal investigations let alone prosecutions of seriously smelly bankers, economists, FBI directors, previous Presidents and VP's; Obama's 'health care' is a joke that will set back *real* health care by decades; SSI, Medicare and Medicaid are under attack -- you know the drill. So, you want me to buy a frickin' MUG!!??1!!!

And then you tell me that "Fortunately, the Obama campaign knows just how to handle things like this" and I say "fortunately the ... WTF??? 'campaign'?" Are you doing fund-raising here?

Please, please, consult a mental health professional soon! You are not in touch with reality (ie, not correctly interpreting what you perceive) and not rational (ie, not connecting thoughts/ideas in a logical way). You may be dangerous to yourself and/or others. Personally, I am more worried about the others, since I am one of them, but I beg you to not underestimate the danger to your own security, happiness, and sanity. I say this as one who values all human life, well, most.



Still here, apparently.

The world has not ended, so far as I can tell.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

The Rapture? On my BIRTHDAY???!!??

(Sorry, it's an old picture) A group of people who self-identify as Christians has determined by their arcane but presumably unimpeachable methodology that May 21, 2011 is the day Christ will return to earth to judge the living and the dead. Really.

Damn. That's my birthday, so I guess I will have to open my pressies and eat my cake at breakfast. But, on the bright side, I can just run up my VISA until then!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

We will need new ways to get information

Canadians are used to having reliable sources of information available to them, nearly always funded by the Government as a public service, eg, Statistics Canada, the CBC, various investigating and reporting bodies such as the Royal Commission on the Status of Women, Sisters in Spirit, etc. Under the Harper Government™, a lot more of those sources will be in jeopardy over the next four years, and may disappear entirely. So we'd better find and *fund* some alternatives.

Thinking and Thanking Green

Congratulations to all the Greens, and to us ordinary Canadians, too -- it's really exciting that Green Party leader Elizabeth May won her riding. I doubt that anyone will be able to hold Harper's feet to any fire, but I hope that her seat in the House of Commons will give her a bit closer view into what is happening/not happening in the Harper Govt. I expect even less info to get out now about what he is doing under the radar (he is a master at that). I will be checking the Green Party website, esp the Shadow Cabinet page, in the hope that they will keep us apprised of impending disasters, so we can at scream, blog, write letters, demonstrate and maybe even find more effective ways of keeping the damage to a minimum *and* making alliances and friendships that we can count on in four years.

I am guessing that the Green votes were too few for federal funding for elections next time. My thought is that we will have to pony up to keep the Green Party alive in the coming four years. I know that I and a lot of my friends might have voted Green 'cept we were scared of Conservatives -- or, in our riding, Liberals, who have behaved as Conservative-lite. I am suggesting to them, and to you and to anyone, that if they had wanted to vote Green, or even if they wouldn't have, if they agree with what the Green Party stands for and think that it is a vital voice in Canada, that they chuck in $10 to $25 *per year* to the Green Party to help keep that Green shadow cabinet shadowing the Harper Government™.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Oh damn

A Conservative majority. There's a little good news, our NDP lady blew our Liberal MP out of the water, and the NDP will be the Loyal Opposition. They'll put up a better fight than the Liberals did, but Harper is really clever and stays under the radar, so most of his changes never go through Parliament.

Oh, and Green Party leader Elizabeth May won her seat. So, one Green in Parliament. It only takes one to propose stuff that would otherwise be left unsaid, I'm glad for her voice.

Ugly Business; I Must Confess

Excuse me, have I got this right? The President of the United States has publicly admitted to the extra-judicial assassination of a person who is not an enemy combatant since no war had been declared? For the sake of propriety, there should have at least been a show trial, al la Saddam Hussein. High fives all around, as a dual citizen I am an accessory to murder. I feel sick.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

How to get to the *other* polls

Nerd alert, nerd alert! Election geek material!!!:
Simon Fraser Univ's Canadian Election Website
Simon Fraser U's survey of opinion polls (i *luv* polls!)
Too Close to Call -- Bryan Breguet talks opinion polls
Nanos Research
and Nik Nanos' Nick on the numbers
and this one looks really hot -- Milton Chan's Election Prediction Project

WOOHOO and pass the popcorn!

Canada needs every voter voting on May 2

Canada -- that's everyone who lives in this country, or ever has, or ever will, plus all our animals, birds, trees, rocks, mineral deposits, *everything* -- needs every Canadian voter to vote in this election. The issues are stark. Around here we are seeing posters that urge us to not vote. "Vote with your feet -- stay home on May 2" Really? The Conservatives will be totally down with that, it will favour them at the polls. And people, people, 'voting with your feet' does not mean staying home. It means getting out, as in leaving the country -- what *I* did in 1969 when I left the US of A. Sheesh! Staying home is voting with your ass.

So, vote on Monday, if you haven't already done so at the advance polls.

Here's how to do it, via Elections Canada: Ways to Vote. You will notice that you can register at the polls, just take ID.

Who to vote for? "Politicians all lie." Yeah, I suppose so. So look at their record and especially their party's record -- it ain't a sure thing, but it's the way to bet. You can use the CBC/Uof Toronto's Vote Compass to match your personal beliefs to a party's platform and history -- kind of like computer dating. Or you can find an issue that is important to you and look at your MP's voting record, or the record of the party of an untried candidate. You can find that at

Then google around for the backstory. For instance, the Liberals were all keen on Bill C474, which would have made economic considerations, specifically exportability in the face of EU and other export markets rejection of GMO products, part of the criteria for approving GMO seeds. But they were strategically absent when the final vote came down and it lost by 3 votes -- more on the Bill C474 story here.

The Conservatives (so-called) are simply terrifying in their relentless drive to dismantle Canada, and they are careful about not leaving tracks, as per Senator Tommy Banks.

There's a Communist running, and a Christian Heritage guy, but neither of them speak to or for me, so I am ignoring them. Our perennial Marijuana Party candidate, Terry Parker is running, I love him at the all-candidates meetings and he actually makes sense, but I can't really vote for him this time, gotta be strategic.

My Green Party candidate seems to be MIA.

My Conservative candidate does not have a snowball's chance (whew!) so it is down to the NDP's Peggy Nash and the Liberals' Gerard Kennedy duking it out here in Highpark-Parkdale. Ouch! I'd say that's a win for Peggy, and the polls seem to agree.

So it looks like I can vote NDP. Hurray! I am basically OK with the NDP in general, actually got a match with them on the Vote Compass, although I think a long gun registry is a waste of time and I wish they were talking more about getting out of Afghanistan and now Libya -- my stars and garters, what are we *doing* *there*??? But still, it was an easy choice for me. I really, really like Peggy Nash. When she was our MP, every time I sat down to write her a letter, I'd find that she'd already spoken up about the issue, proposed a bill, led a delegation or was generally already on it.

Update: I voted in the advance poll on Apr 25 so now I'm just stocking in popcorn and will be reading the election liveblogging from CBC and slothropia, and, of course, urging everyone to vote.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Jamie Galbraith has nailed it: -- *BAD* president!

May I recommend Professor James K. Galbraith's speech to the ADAEdFund at Yale. Thanks to selise for this via Firedoglake. WORD!!!

Can we please impeach somebody *now*?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

'Tis the season.

OK, so the US-ians got DADT repealed, but transgendered veterans are still out *all* rights and benefits. Nice. Fight for freedom, live happily ever after.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Reply to Senator Ted Kennedy

Or: Having gone to the considerable Trouble and Expense of acquiring Several Dogs, I find myself being Requested by Them to do my own Barking.

Dear Senator Kennedy,

We seem to have a different idea of the roles of the electorate and elected representatives. I had understood that under the US Constitution, the system is that one elects representatives, who then carry out the will of the people by enacting legislation, carrying out oversight and, when necessary, removing incompetent persons from office. I realize it is somewhat more complicated in practice, but I think that is the general idea, is it not?

Your suggestion that 'I can help' leaves me confused. What exactly do you think I should do? Write *another* letter? Maybe a nice poster, or a T-shirt or even a march? Oh, a *petition* this time???

Sir, I have done my job: I voted for candidates in my district and financially supported and worked for candidates in other districts who *said* they would do such-and-so when elected (Mr. Conyers, for example). I have let all my reps and those whom I supported, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid know what I hope they will do for my country. If they are not well-acquainted with my views on Gonzales, the Bush administration and the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq then they are not reading their email. It is now time for the houses of Congress to do their job, starting with drawing up some articles of impeachment. Mr John Dean has recommended starting with Alberto Gonzales. As a private citizen, I can't do it. You are a Senator -- is anyone stopping you? Instead I get these damned cheerleader letters from you / your staff.

You write:

> Two weeks ago,
> the Bush Administration and their rubber-stamp Republican allies in
> Congress forced revisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
> Act to expand the government's right to spy on American citizens
> without outside oversight.

Well, and that was Majority Leader Reid, now wasn't it? Rumor has it that it was a deal for no recess appointments or some such. It wasn't 'protecting and defending the Constitution, that's for sure.

If you can't get Senator Reid to honor his oath to the Constitution, how do you think I'm going to do it? I resent and reject your suggestion that I/we as voters are responsible for the failure of our elected representatives by somehow not 'supporting' them sufficiently, as if it were the resuscitation of Tinker Bell.

Please carry out your oath to defend and protect the Constitution with some action where it counts, and do not waste your energy and my time with this hand-flapping e-mail business.

Thank you,



The Sen's letter to me (and a zillion other people) dated Tue, August 14, 2007:

> Dear (HotFlash),
> I don't trust Alberto Gonzales with the power to spy on the American
> people - and neither should you.
> In recent months, Gonzales has been under increasingly heavy fire for
> his shameful role in a number of shocking scandals, including the Bush
> Administration's illegal eavesdropping program and his refusal to
> come clean about what he has done. He's lost the confidence of the
> American people, and many -- myself included -- have called for his
> resignation.
> But rather than holding Gonzalez and other members of the
> Administration accountable for breaking the law, the White House
> pushed for legislation that legalizes their actions. Two weeks ago,
> the Bush Administration and their rubber-stamp Republican allies in
> Congress forced revisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
> Act to expand the government's right to spy on American citizens
> without outside oversight.
> Once again, George Bush, Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzalez are taking
> the Bill of Rights into their own hands. Tell the White House to stop
> scaring the American people into surrendering their basic rights:
> There's no doubt FISA had serious gaps that Congress needed to
> close. But as the New York Times stated, the new FISA law goes "far
> beyond the small fixes that administration officials had said were
> needed to gather information about foreign terrorists."
> Under the new law, any conversation between an American citizen and a
> foreigner can be monitored without a warrant.
> Any conversation at all!
> But even worse, there's no accountability for this massive new
> surveillance program. The Bush Administration will set the rules
> about who gets spied on, and will also have the responsibility for
> determining whether they're complying with their own rules.
> It's like taking a test, and then getting to grade it yourself.
> Each of us wants to do everything in our power to protect America
> from the threat of terrorism. But the Bush Administration refuses to
> draw any line between fighting terrorism and violating basic civil
> liberties.
> Together, we can draw the line. Sign the petition, letting Washington
> know that you don't want Alberto Gonzales spying on honest,
> hard-working Americans like you:
> This is the same Administration mentality that gave us Guantanamo and
> Abu Ghraib. Again and again, Alberto Gonzalez, Dick Cheney, and George
> Bush have thumbed their noses at the Constitution and the rule of law,
> and then demanded that Congress condone their abuses and trust their
> judgment.
> Not this time. We owe the nation a better approach, and you can help
> us do it.
> Sincerely,
> Senator Edward M. Kennedy
> ---
> Paid for by The Committee for a Democratic Majority

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Perfectly good reasons to impeach, any one of which should be sufficient.

Hugh at Firedoglake compiled this excellent list. It was too good to just let it disappear (everything is chronological at FDL, so old things just fall off the end ...) and just crying out for more additions. So, I wondered if he'd be OK with my posting it here, where it might be visible for longer. FDL is a brainstorming and neworking par excellence, but a quiet little blog like this is more into medium- and long-term memory. Next project: a geneaology of Washingon DC.

So this from Hugh:

I thought this might be a time to repeat my incomplete list of Bush era scandals and ask for any suggested additions.

1. Walter Reed outpatient treatment
2. Fired US attorneys
3. Scooter Libby/Plamegate
4. Iraq: lack of preparation for occupation, looting, including the National Museum, too few troops, lack of training, lack of equipment, lack of securing loose Iraqi munitions, disbanding the Iraqi army, banning the Baathists, the CPA, Paul Bremer, losing tons of money literally, lack of international inclusion in reconstruction and security, weak Constitution, formation of sectarian parties, weak government
5. Afghanistan and the resurgent Taliban and opium production
6. Iran and saber rattling
7. North Korea, ditching the 1994 agreement because of dubious uranium program, the plutonium program which led to a fizzled first nuclear test, and something like a return to the 1994 agreement
8. Osama bin Laden, where are you? Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and terrorism
9. Civilian contractors
10. The Military Commissions Act: torture, indefinite detention, the end of habeas corpus, and kangaroo courts
11. Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, the destruction of New Orleans, and the aftermath
12. NSA wiretapping
13. SWIFT surveillance of financial transactions
14. Black prisons and extraordinary rendition
15. Homeland Security: white elephant (organization), black hole (money)
16. K Street Lobbyists, Jack Abramoff, North Marianas
17. Kyle “Dusty” Foggo and the CIA follies
18. Duke Cunningham
19. Tom Delay
20. Mark Foley
21. Cheney and Energy Policy
22. Tax cuts for the wealthiest
23. Global warming: refusal to join Kyoto, denial of manmade origin, continued reliance on fossil and carbon based fuels, little movement on CAFE standards and conservation, political interference in scientific reports (Good guys: Hansen, Peltz; bad guys: Cooney, Deutsch), listening to Michael Crichton
24. Terri Schiavo
25. Big budget deficits and vastly increased national debt
26. The stacking of the federal judiciary
27. Medicare
28. Medicare Part D
29. Healthcare (in general)
30. Cooked intelligence and the Office of Strategic Plans/ Doug Feith
31. 2000 Presidential election
32. 2004 Presidential election
33. Attempts to torpedo the 911 Commission
34. Failure to implement 911 recommendations
35. Marginalization of the UN; John Bolton
36. Preventive war doctrine
37. Loss of US reputation internationally
38. No serious attempt to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians
39. Underfunding of basic research
40. Alberto Gonzales
41. FDA: drug testing
42. EPA: mercury levels for coal plants
43. Porter Goss and the gutting of the CIA
44. Militarization of intelligence
45. Rampant cronyism
46. Signing statements
47. Unilateral Executive doctrine
48. Overuse and abuse of the National Guard and Reserves; posse comitatus
49. Increasing unpreparedness of US ground forces (Army and Marines)
50. US balance of trade deficit
51. 2005 Grassley Bankruptcy bill
52. Mexican cross border trucking and safety concerns
53. Karl Rove’s security clearance and no firing of Libby co-conspirators
54. Detention of families for immigration violations; ICE raids
55. Dubai Ports deal
56. The Patriot Act; the Patriot Act extension
57. Attempts to privatize Social Security
58. The War on Science
59. David Safavian, former head of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy
60. Presidential adviser Claude Allen stealing from Target
61. Bush casually admits about lying about decision to fire Rumsfeld
62. Armstrong Williams and paid propagandists
63. Decimation of the Labor Department
64. Net neutrality and media policies
65. Backing Israel while it destroyed Lebanon
66. Presidential Daily Brief 8/01: Bin Laden determined to attack in US
67. EPA chief Christie Todd Whitman declares Ground Zero safe for cleanup
68. Sago mining disaster hearings and MHSA’s David Dye who walked out of the hearings
69. Harriet Miers nomination to the Supreme Court
70. Vetoing stem cell research
71. Attack on Plan B contraception, staffing Women’s Health positions with religious conservatives: Dr. Eric Keroack at Health and Human Services who thought birth control demeaning to women and Dr. David Hager at FDA who tried to keep Plan B prescription only. His wife contended in divorce proceedings that he had repeatedly sodomized her without her consent.
72. Clear Skies Act and Healthy Forest Restoration Act
73. Missile defense shield that doesn’t work; withdrawal from ABM Treaty
74. Leandro Aragoncillo naturalized Filipino-American in Cheney’s office (previously Gore’s) accused of spying for the Philippines and possibly France, pled guilty to unlawfully possessing secret US government documents
75. Defunding overseas AIDS programs that promoted condom use for prevention.
76. Call for a constitutional amendment declaring marriage to be between one man and one woman.
77. Opening up Bristol Bay, the last pristine large-scale salmon fishery in the world, to oil drilling
78. Accusation that Clintons trashed the White House before leaving, including stealing the Ws from keyboards
79. Gannon/Guckert a working male prostitute in the White House press corps
80. Native American trust funds and the Trust Responsibility to Indian Country
81. Selling creationist materials at the Grand Canyon gift shop claiming it was 6000 years old
82. Banning photographing return of coffins of slain American soldiers
83. False military reporting: Pat Tillman, Jessica Lynch
84. AIPAC espionage scandal; former DOD employee Lawrence Franklin pled guilty to passing information on Iran to Israel through two AIPAC employees
85. Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Bagram
86. Asserted right to open US mail
92. Refusal to grant security clearances to OPR (Office of Public Responsibility) lawyers investigating the role of Gonzales in NSA wiretapping thus quashing the investigation

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Shorter Scooter

If you have been following the Scooter Libby trial as I have, that is, checking in at FireDogLake whenever I can spare the time, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer volume. OK, this is about perjury, so I have to admit, I have been glued to the computer whenever I am not absolutely forced to do something else, like eat. Lightening-fingered live-blogging by Marcy 'emptywheel' Wheeler -- she's the lady who wrote the book -- , analysis by a crack team of Plameologists including more lawyers, government types, what I assume are spooks and assorted informed citizenry than you can shake the Bill of Rights at.

So, where was I? Ah, yes, overwhelmed. FDL commenter radiofreewill provided a brief summary of the scoring to date which will help me actually get some work done today. Because the chronlogical thread format at FDL results in good things getting buried under more good things, I am posting this link as a bookmark for me, and also for anyone else who finds it useful.

radiofreewill says:
February 3rd, 2007 at 11:38 am

Most people, especially on the RIGHT, still think this Trial is about Libby Leaking Plame’s Name - they haven’t actually read the indictment.

Here’s a summary of the Indictment, updated with testimony as of 2/1. It would be a better summary if it contained the ‘money’ quotes from Cooper, Miller and the 8 Government Witnesses, but I haven’t had time to update it to that level of detail.

Rest assured, Libby is already toast. more

More usefulness: You can't tell the players apart without a program, so check our Rayne's ongoing directory to all things LibbyTrial-wise at

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Molly Ivins is dead, we have lost a great light

Molly Ivins

It is with great sorrow that HotFlash notes the passing of the gallant Molly Ivins after her last battle with inflammatory breast cancer. This Texas tornado had style, wit and grace to spare. Molly had gone to high school with Dubya and had his number early on. She sounded the alarm before his run for TX governor and repeated it often in her columns over the years. This is from her last article, published January 12, 2007:
We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we're for them and trying to get them out of there. Hit the streets to protest Bush's proposed surge. If you can, go to the peace march in Washington on Jan. 27. We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, "Stop it, now!"

The whole article is here as well as links to more of her writing.

More things to click on:

So. We have our orders from the lady. "Stop this war."
(image from the Texas Observer)

Coca Cola and the Polar Bears

I wrote this message to the Coca Cola people today:
Dear Coca Cola Corporation,

I understand that the Coca Cola company was recently asked by Environmental Action to support the US Fish and Wildlife Service's proposed listing of the polar bear as a threatened species. Your response, I have been informed, was, "When the cause is outside of our expertise, as is the case with polar bear conservation, we rely on others to approach us for financial support."

This is not a good answer. Coca Cola was not asked for money but for support -- what did you think Environmental Action was suggesting, that you bribe the US Fish and Wildlife Service? A letter from Coca Cola to F&W would be nice. A linked e-mail support form from your website to F&W would be nice. You already promote several worthy causes/issues on your website -- literacy, education, CO2 emissions, cycling -- you know how this is done.

Environmental Action is now specifically requesting that you link to their send-an-email-to-save-the-polar-bear page, That is *really* simple thing for you to do and would take your web techies about 4 minutes, including time for coffee.

I would be really happy to see Coca Cola do this, especially since Coke has associated itself with polar bears for over a decade. This alone would make you something of an 'expert' on polat bears. Your company has done pretty well out of the association but the bears haven't benefitted much so far. Time, I think, to give back.



BTW, possibly not the biggest Coke drinker on the planet, but we get through 24 cans of diet Coke in a week at my house. It adds up. But it doesn't have to be Coke, you see.

If you like polar bears and have a few minutes to spare, drop the folks at Coke a line via Environment Action.

(image from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and they have more.)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Can I tell my granddaughters I was there when George Bush started WWIII?

Last night in his speech President Bush had the opportunity to change course in Iraq and announce to the American people that he would begin to bring our troops home. Instead, he has made the choice to escalate our involvement in Iraq’s civil war by sending 21,500 more troops to the region. According to ABC news, the first 80 battalions were arriving in Baghdad before he even spoke. This increase in troops is in complete opposition to the will of the majority of the US people and his military advisors, not to mention the people in Iraq who we are supposedly liberating.

He calls this a surge, but it's not even a splash. Even if you wanted to 'win the war', this is too little, and too late, to accomplish what he says it will. 21,500 troops are *nothing*. Consider: Baghdad has (had) a population of 7 million. Chicago has less than 3 million people. 21,500 people would not even half-fill Comiskey Park (capacity 52k). Can anyone seriously think that a bunch of people who wouldn't even half-fill Comiskey Park could 'pacify' the city of Chicago? Factor in that the troops are green recruits fresh from training and battle-weary veterans who have had their tours extended multiple times and their leaves cancelled, and they are fighting against people who are defending their homes and families -- and who also have guns, rockets and IEDs and know the city like the back of their hand. This foolishness will only get more US troops and more Iraqi's killed and maimed.

President Bush's refusal to permit congressional oversight as required by the Constitution is alarming. Together with his insistence on violence on every possible scale it becomes terrifying. We must use every remedy at our disposal and with the utmost urgency to defend the Constitution, the American people and the people of the world against this rampaging man. I fear that we may soon see the nuclear nightmare unleashed and God help us if it is by an American president. We will have the ashes of the world on our hands.

If you think what Pres Bush is doing is OK, that's fine too, but so far it looks like we're being driven off the cliff. And since the point of our elected representatives is to, um , represent us, I am asking you to call or e-mail your Representative and your two Senators and tell them how you feel about the escalation of the war if you have not already done so. CSpan has a searchable directory with by name, state, committee, and party with phone numbers and smail and e-mail addresses here. In addition, could you please visit the website of Senator Harry Reid
and leave a message saying what you want Congress to do about this? As Senate majority leader, Senator Reid is the person coordinating the resistance to President Bush's unconstitutional 'unilateral executive' presidency and his expansion of the war.

Thanks and peace,


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Christmas Gifts that Keep on Giving.

"I like your Christ, I don't like your Christians." -- Mahatma Ghandi.

I have reservations, too, but I *love* Christmas. Giving gifts, celebrating meals with friends, family and strangers, peace to men (and women) of goodwill -- fabulous stuff. Also coloured lights, decorated trees, special once-a-year cookies, New Yorkers wishing me happy holidays and meaning it, and yes, yes, *fruitcake*!!!

But Christmas shopping. I *hate* Christmas shopping. Hate the malls, the crowds, the garbage to buy. Hate getting it wrong, esp with teenagers -- is there anyone harder to buy for? And seriously, the money. It all adds up real fast.

How to make it better? Give a gift to someone who needs it most. Your gift or purchase helps the world, your giftee gets the karma. Small $ make big differences in lots of places. Here are some suggestions, A to Z:

Any Soldier -- gifts and letters to US servicemen and women directed especially to those who don't get packages from home. So far there is nothing similar for Canadian soldiers, although you can send an official e-mail rah-rah here.

Arghand -- Afghani women's co-op making gorgeous soaps (see photo above) using local materials such as pomegranates and almonds. They don't ship direct but do have some North American retailers who may.

Bat Conservation -- they have neat stuff and I love bats. A membership gets the magazine, or buy batstuff from the batshop -- upside-down bat earrings, anyone?

Heifer International -- Animal lovers on your list? Give somebody a goat who can use it, give your 6 or 16 year old niece or nephew the card. It's a win-win. Good for pompous in-laws, too. Program includes heifers, ewes, goats, pigs, water buffalos, flocks of chicks, ducks or geese, honey bees and assorted package deals. Can't afford a whole pig for $120 US? Buy a share for $10. Got bucks? Give a village a "Gift Ark" long-term livestock program for $5,000.

Kiva -- start a micro-loan portfolio for anyone on your list. You buy them a gift-card ($25 US and up), they select the entrepreneur(s) they wish to loan money to. A hairdresser in Ecuador, a computer game shop in Kenya -- lot of choices-- then watch as they prosper and pay back. Way more fun than Monopoly.

And you can make gifts, too. One of my favourites is notepaper and envelopes with the recipient's name and an appropriate drawing. I find these go over well with all ages as everyone always means to send thank-you notes and this makes it easy. For little kids I will often supply the stamps, so they don't have to rely on someone else to get the thing actually mailed.

Got suggestions for easing holiday gift angst? Comments most welcome.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving to all

Wishes for a happy Thanksgiving for everyone, and especially the American ex-pats who are thinking of turkeys far away.

To my FDL friends -- Oklahoma Kiddo, Hugh, OldCoastie, Rayne, angie, Angry Old Broad, Nate, NZExpat (found a turkey for you), Medaka, millineryman, Louisiana Girl, kirk murphy, Caoimhin Laochdha, egregious, John Casper, Stephen Parrish CPA, looseheadprop, TeddySanFran, raven, selise, sofistic, Mrs K8, katiemine, petedownunder, Marion in Savannah, sharkbabe, perris(FKAM2M), Beard5, watertiger, darkblack, Oilfieldguy, TRex, Balrog, ed*ard teller, Mary4, Pach, Siun, Donita, Howie, montag, EvilParallelUniverse (hello!), Linda, Twisted Martini, marksb, EvilDrPuma, yourlittledogtoo, *ilson (where are you ?) and everyone, and especially Jane and Christy for making it so.

To my family -- missing more of us this year, but got some new ones coming up to take our places.

Everybody. Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Whew! And now it's time to get to work...

The election results are mostly in now and hooray! We have a Dem House and *maybe* a Dem senate -- with still a couple of counts to be finalized. But it's not too soon to start thinking about doing some much-needed housecleaning.

There are twelve Democratic senators who voted for torture and the abolition of habeas corpus. They need to be replaced with senators who do what they swore an oath to do -- defend the Constitution. Must be some good Democratic youngsters out there who'd give these dinosaurs a smart run in their next primary.

Here is a list of the Democratic senators who voted for the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and the year they will be up for re-election:
Tom Carper (DE) -- 2012
Tim Johnson (SD) -- 2008
MaryLandrieu (LA) -- 2008
Frank Lautenberg (NJ) -- 2008
Joe Lieberman (CT) -- 2012 (well, not so much a Dem anymore...)
Robert Menendez (NJ) -- 2012
Bill Nelson (FL) -- 2012
Ben Nelson (NE) -- 2012
Mark Pryor (AR) -- 2008
Jay Rockefeller (WV) -- 2010
Ken Salazar (CO) -- 2009
Debbie Stabenow (MI) -- 2012

I know it's a ways off, but we should keep our eyes peeled, maybe find a young one, and train 'em up. No point in waiting until the last minute. And while we are in the mood, Representative Rahm Emmanuel (D-IL05) is up for re-election in 2008 as well. I'd really love to see Christine Cegelis in that seat!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

"We won't give you up" -- thanks LJ/Aquaria at FDL

And justice for all.

Those who do not have mercy shall yet have justice. Thanks to Shez for putting this article from The Nation up at Firedoglake

War Criminals, Beware
Jeremy Brecher & Brendan Smith

On November 14 a group of lawyers and other experts will come before the German federal prosecutor and ask him to open a criminal investigation targeting Donald Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzales and other key Bush Administration figures for war crimes. The recent passage of the Military Commissions Act provides a central argument for the legal action, under the doctrine of universal jurisdiction: It demonstrates the intent of the Bush Administration to immunize itself legally from prosecution in the United States, even for the most serious crimes.

The Rumsfeld action was announced at a conference in New York City in late October titled “Is Universal Jurisdiction an Effective Tool?” The doctrine allows domestic courts to prosecute international crimes regardless of where the crime was committed, the nationality of the perpetrator or the nationality of the victim. It is reserved for only the most heinous offenses: genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, including torture.

(snip) much more at

Monday, October 30, 2006

"We have met the enemy and they is us" -- Walt Kelly's 'Pogo"

Oh dear. Not only has the Deciderator decided that we can be declared 'enemy combatants' whenever he says so, he's a-linin' up the guys who are going to line us up and shoot us. Ta-da, our very own, local, your fathers-brothers-neighbors-etc, right-to-bear-arms, well-regulated militia, the National Guard. The Deciderator can now decide to deploy any state's National Guard without consulting the governor of the state! Cool, eh? The law was signed (very quietly) on October 17, 2006, buried in an omnibus bill. This is being tracked by some bloggers who call themselves 'Federalists for Independence in National Guard Response'(FINGER). More at

"It's not the votes that count, it's who counts the votes" Joseph Stalin (attrib)

This from Adie at Fire Dog Lake: Special thanks to carolyn urban for providing some wonderful links to me yesterday eve, in re: fighting election fraud. [the notes beside links are carolyn urban’s]

Links for fighting against election theft:
on this site, go through the Peace and Justice tab and then scroll down to Election Justice Center.

Citizens Alliance for Secure Elections
on this site I’d click States. They list organizations on the left but I checked them out and the only one that looks promising is the Citizens Alliance, above. But if you click on Ohio on the right hand list it catches you up on all the latest - well, I don’t know how latest - but news.
has lots of stuff, including a citizen toolkit that might be useful.
the “watch the vote” page looked good.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

We interupt this blog...

Oh dear, "Something" happened (or this blogger clicked wrong link, mea culpa) and the entire contents of HotFlash was seriously snookered. Template/css instructions displaying on screen. Whooeee. Attempts to fix only made matters worse, and I finally deep-sixed the entire blog in order to get anything displaying correctly (in order to save the blog I had to destroy the blog...). I have made back-up copies of everything and will repost as time permits. In case you were holding your breath or anything.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A Modest Proposal to Save the Democratic Party

Carolyn Kay of tells me she doesn't know who wrote the post below, it just came to her in an e-mail. I have googled for it and come up with nada -- but this stuff should be shouted from the housetops. Anonymous Chicagoan, whoever you are -- what a great idea!


Instead of spending $500 million dollars on TV commercials every 4 years, why doesn't the Democratic Party start using its money to open neighborhood offices that help people with day-to-day problems like getting their heat turned back on, or finding a lawyer, or getting something to eat? I'm not talking about political offices that open up a few months before an election and annoy people with a bunch of phone calls. I'm talking about permanent offices where people can get real help for real problems. Finding a doctor. Getting a tutor for their kids. A gym for kids to play ball in after school.

You know what you've got if you build something like this?

A recognizable brand, that's what you've got.

A trusted brand.

A political party that's known for rolling up its sleeves and getting its hands dirty and making a difference in people's lives. A political party that's not corrupt. A political party that's a palpable force - instead of simply another disposable consumer product being hawked on TV every few years.

True loyalty comes out of stuff like this, a loyalty that can't be swayed by glib 30 second entreaties. This is the politics of the real, not a reality show. When you stop and think about the system we have now, it's completely stupid: a bunch of new hairdo's comes along every 4 years with a bunch of focus-grouped "issues" and the media puts on a reality show that results in... nothing! Nothing but revenue for TV stations! And, of course, another big thumbs up for one of the two wings of the ruling party. After it's all over, the losing hairdo skulks off in infamy to grow a beard or write his memoirs or lobby for some corporation - and the status quo tightens its grip.

I'm sick of it.

We`re all sick of it.

Imagine a city street. Imagine an old storefront, refurbished and redecorated. Imagine a neon sign that says "Democratic Party Headquarters." Inside is a wireless internet cafe, bulletin boards, volunteers manning help desks. Maybe there's a cafeteria in there, maybe a health clinic, a child care center. Whatever it is, it's real people, together, helping each other, creating a community. Using the money they raise to make a real difference in the neighborhoods where they live. And giving people the tools for Democracy. Imagine hundreds of these places, all over the country, where people can meet and talk and plan and organize.

Hey, maybe it's my Chicago roots coming back. Ask Soros to help. Michael Moore. Barbra Streisand. Clooney. All the usual Hollywood honchos. Steve Jobs.

How about "Newman's Own Democracy Cafes," with good organic food and nutritious political information. "Ben and Kerry's." Whatever. Make the Democratic Party a grassroots movement. And make sure you open offices in rural areas. Bush policies hurt rural economies even more than they hurt cities. Thousands of people donated millions of dollars to get Kerry elected, and what did we get for our money? TV commercials. Air! Poof, it's gone! Why not ask people to donate to something lasting, that does real good, and has political clout as a result? I know I'd rather give money for this kind of real political action than the Theatre of the Absurd we have now. Sure, this smacks of old-fashioned machine politics. So what? What have we got now? Nothing but an advertising campaign with no product, just promises, promises, promises. It works for the corporations and the giant media conglomerates. But it's worthless for everybody else The creation of neighborhood Democratic Party Headquarters could be the tactic that finally evens the playing field with the Republican's use of churches.

Say what you will about right wing churches - but if one of their flock needs something to eat, they can at least usually get a hot meal. That's more than you can say for the great progressive party of the New Deal and the Great Society. When's the last time the Democratic Party ever fed anybody - let alone found them a job?

Sure, the wingnuts will call it demogoguery. They'll call it a return to machine politics. They'll say Democrats are buying votes. Good!

Let `em say it all they want! The point is, when you help people, they don't forget it. And with what is coming our way now, people are gonna be needing all the help they can get.

What do you think?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Legislating a war crime is a war crime

International lawyer Scott Horton in his Remarks delivered at the ASIL Centennial Conference on The Nuremberg War Crimes Trial, Bowling Green, OH, Oct. 7, 2006 concludes that when America is brought to justice by the world, and he speaks of it as a certainty, the lawyers who have made war crimes the policy of a nation will be found guilty of those crimes in an extraordinary degree.

"In France, innumerable summary executions occur, even as I sit here writing. Each day certainly more than a thousand people are killed, and thousands of German men experience murder as a matter of routine. And yet all of that is child's play compared to what's going on in Poland and Russia. Can I learn about this and just sit at the table in my heated apartment and drink tea? Don't I establish my complicity simply by doing nothing? What will I say in the future, when someone asks me: and what did you do during this time?"

- Helmuth von Moltke, in a letter to his wife, Oct. 19, 1941

Professor Horton starts with the premise that

In a proper society, the lawyers are the guardians of law, and in times of war, their role becomes solemn.

I urge you to read Professor Horton's calm but inexorable analysis of the shameful and barbaric Military Commissions Act of 2006 in its entirety at Balkinization, but I will reprint this terrifying yet reassuring conclusion here:

If the consequence of the Act is to immunize those who authorized these techniques from prosecution, is that lawful? The US position, articulated most recently in connection with Yugoslavia's efforts to immunize its military leaders, was that any such act would only provide evidence of a broader conspiracy to commit war crimes. Consequently, the grant of immunity is ineffective in the contemplation of the international community; moreover, those involved in purporting to grant immunity may thereby be roped into a charged joint criminal enterprise.

So. The Military Commissions Act of 2006 is a war crime, and any legislator who voted for it is a war criminal. Senator Stabenow, to my immense disappointment, voted for it; the rest of the names are here (Senate) and here(House of Representatives). I hope I live long enough to see them tried at the International Court of Justice.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

I cannot believe she did that

Why in the name of all that is good and holy did Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) vote for the Military Commissions Act of 2006? There is absolutely *no* conceivable reason for her to have done so. I cannot begin to say how much she disgusts me.

It would have passed without her vote. So what she is really saying is, "I just wanted to make sure that everybody knows that I really *love* torture and I am *so* happy to see the end of habeas corpus." What next? Has she earned MI one of those spiffy new KBR internment camps?

This woman does not deserve one Democrat's vote this November -- although I sincerely hope everyone will hold their nose and do it anyway. I cannot wait to begin campaigning for her opponent next primary. This woman has got to go.