Saturday, March 26, 2011

Radioactive Ocean

Oh, and the news from Japan just keeps getting better. The latest is that levels of radioactivity 1200 times normal have been detected in the ocean near the Fukushima nuclear plant. (the part of the video you want starts about 0:55)

There is a monitoring page here, which will show you radiation levels at various points around the continental USA. Be aware that you need to read the disclaimer and other accompanying documentation in order to interpret this information in an intelligent manner.

The question in my tiny little mind at this point is, how much longer is this going to go on? How much worse is it going to get? At what point will the Obama administration, (which is desperately pretending that the Gulf Oil disaster is all over and done with), pull its pointy head out of its collective anal orifice and acknowledge that there is a potentially very serious problem here?

Oh, but they're "monitoring the situation", so there's no need to worry. I mean, after all, it's not like our government would lie to us about anything this serious, right?

The sad fact of the matter is that Obama has gone into bunker mode, and he's not going to do anything until he either gets re-elected or thrown out of office. Our dearly-beloved Commander-in-Chief seems to feel that he can just stand up there with his golden teleprompter and "look presidential", and that this will be enough to get him re-elected in 2012, which certainly seems to be all he cares about at this point.

And please don't try to tell me that the US air raids in Libya are an example of decisive action by Obama. Please. What he did was dither and wring his hands until the last possible moment, and then simply give in to the right-wing hawks, as usual.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Remember Nixon?

I was a Republican in my youth, a fact which still embarrasses me to this day. But every now and then I am reminded that the incredibly evil Republican Party of today is not the GOP of days gone by. Oh, don't get me wrong, they have always been greedy, selfish bastards. Though I failed to see that when I was young, it is obvious in retrospect; we all have 20-20 hindsight.

Although the Republicans of my youth were selfish, they were never so shit-where-you-live shortsighted about their greed. After all, an efficient parasite doesn't weaken its host.

I was reminded of this in reading through the Wikipedia entry on Richard Nixon, (which is impeccably foot-noted). Here are a few quotes from the Economy section of that article -

Under Nixon, direct payments from the federal government to individual American citizens in government benefits (including Social Security and Medicare) rose from 6.3% of the Gross National Product (GNP) to 8.9%. Food aid and public assistance also rose, beginning at $6.6 billion and escalating to $9.1 billion. Defense spending decreased from 9.1% to 5.8% of the GNP. The revenue sharing program pioneered by Nixon delivered $80 billion to individual states and municipalities.

Social spending increased. Defense spending decreased by over a third. Under a Republican President. And the exact opposite is happening under Obama, who masquerades as a Progressive.

Nixon was worried about the effects of increasing inflation and accelerating unemployment, so he indexed Social Security for inflation, and created Supplemental Security Income (SSI). In 1969, he had presented the only balanced budget between 1961 and 1998. However, despite speeches declaring an opposition to the idea, he decided to offer Congress a budget with deficit spending to reduce unemployment.

Ho-ly Shee-yit, a Republican who actually worried about the effects of inflation and unemployment on working Americans. Now, I'm not imagining for one second that he worried about the effects of these things upon the working folks for the sake of the working folks. Hell, no, he worried about those effects because he was smart enough to realize that people cannot buy anything if they don't have money to spend, and if we don't buy things, the economy goes in the tank. Greed yes, but intelligently calculated long-term greed.

As for Spiro Agnew, well, we won't discuss Spiggy, except to note that his name is an anagram for "grow a penis".

Nixon photo courtesy of Wikimedia

The Endless Human Capacity For Art

(Photo courtesy of EPA)

I am not an artist by nature, I am more of an engineer, (Or a jack-leg mechanic, to be completely honest), but there are moments when I am stopped cold by something that reaches out and bites me on the ass and shouts, "Hey Moron! Wake up and pay attention, this is Art!"

There are moments when I am truly humbled by nature's beauty, or by the realisation that some of my fellow human beings possess a quality which I utterly lack.

The photo above does not encompass "great art" in the sense that the Sistine Chapel does. The greatness lies in what it says about the human spirit.

The new Libyan flag, (which is actually the old pre-Gaddafi Libyan flag), in the shape of a heart, applied to the warhead of an RPG. I fully understand that some of you will react with "Uhh, so what?", and that's fine. But it speaks to me, and I am guessing that I will not be the only one.

Fat old armchair types like me, pontificating endlessly in wordy, overblown prose, that's one thing. Fat old politicians in expensive suits blowing out hot air on cue from their corporate masters, for the consumption of the formulaic corporate media, that means even less.

But a man who is willing to shoulder an RPG and wait by the road for Gaddafi's tanks to show up, that is a commitment of a rather higher order. Agree with his politics or not, you have to admit he has balls. And when he makes a statement of patriotism with that sticker, you have to admit that is not an empty boast.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Clinton Vows Help To Create Jobs

Yes, boys and girls, that's right! Our fearless Secretary of State has today vowed help to create jobs. Oh, but not in the USA, this was in Tunisia.

Here are a few lovely quotes for your further enjoyment -

"we will stand with you as you make the transition to democracy, and prosperity and a better future," she said.

Hmm, say Madam Secretary, could we get some of that here at home for the 99ers, please? You know, the folks that you supposedly work for, us Americans? Remember us?

Clinton said she and Kefi discussed a number of ways Washington could help with moving the country forward, including US assistance to those who will draft Tunisia's new constitution and in creating jobs.

Uhh, Madam Secretary? Could we get some of that "moving the country forward" and " creating jobs" here at home in the USA? You know, the country you supposedly work for? Remember us?

"We need a plan for economic development, for jobs. The Tunisian people deserve that," she told reporters, saying the US would take part in a donors' conference later this year to help the North African nation.

Ahh, I see, the Tunisian people deserve that, but the American people do not? Could you explain to us, please, Madam Secretary, the impeccable logic by which you reasoned to that conclusion, please, Ma'am? And what about a donors' conference for the 99ers?

Clinton said she would also push for $20m for Tunisia to "respond to some of their needs" after Tunisian officials requested US help, but hinted at more aid. "We need to have a very big commitment to Tunisia, [so] that we can be ready to help them economically as well as with their democratic transformation," she said.

Madam Secretary, I don't mean to sound like a broken record here, but why is there $20M now and "more aid" later, a "very big committment" to use your own words, for Tunisia, but no money at all and no committment of any size for the 99ers?

Original story here

St Patrick's Day

A Happy St Patrick's Day to you all.

I would like to take this occasion to suggest that you find yourselves a copy of a Novel called Trinity, by Leon Uris. You should be able to find a used copy at Amazon for a few bucks.

Trinity is the story of modern Ireland, and how it came to be what it is.

As you read this book, take note of the clever schemes used in Ulster and Belfast to control the populace, take note of the way that Catholic and Protestant were played off against each other, in order to prevent the Irish people from organizing to demand their rights, or even humane labor laws.

Then think about how closely this parallels the current Democrat-Republican bullshit game, which is also used to pit us against each other, to trick us into fighting each other instead of banding together to demand our rights.

200 years have gone by, but the game of power is still played the same. The rich still play their dirty money games, exploiting the workers cruelly to wring the last drop of profit from every enterprise. And the crooked politicians still kiss their butts and scurry to do their bidding. After all, "the arse of the mighty tastes of money".

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Japan Nuclear Meltdown In Progress

Not to run around echoing the Alex Jones crowd, but we really can legitimately use the word meltdown now.

Check the following quotes from AJE's Japan Live Blog.


More on that "US nuclear chair" - who has now been named as Gregory Jaczko, the chief of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, currently giving a report to Congress.

He says all the water has gone from the spent fuel pools at reactor No.4 in Fukushima No.1 facility, Japan's most troubled nuclear plant. This means there is nothing to stop the fuel rods from getting hotter and ultimately melting down.

The outer shell of the rods could also ignite, with enough force to propel the radioactive fuel inside over a wide area, he says.

Gregory Jaczko did not say how the information was obtained, but the NRC and US Department of Energy both have staff on site at the Fukushima complex of six reactors.


Staff at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant may receive "lethal doses" of radiation, the US nuclear regulator has told Congress. Gregory Jaczko, head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said:

We believe that around the reactor site there are high levels of radiation. It would be very difficult for emergency workers to get near the reactors. The doses they could experience would potentially be lethal doses in a very short period of time.

Oh my. When a government official admits the situation is that bad, you know things are really fucked up.

The important thing is to somehow keep all this in perspective. To evaluate the available information, weight it according to our best estimate of the credibility of that source, and decide what to do. For most of us, there's little or nothing we can do.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Japanese Nuclear Plant Explodes

The 4th reactor at the worst-damaged nuclear power plant in Japan has exploded, prompting Japanese authorities to widen the evacuation zone repeatedly.

(Open Salon users can view the video here)

This is going beyond ugly. Three Mile Island failed to be a major disaster because the containment dome held up. This containment dome has just failed catastrophically.

It is very hard to know what to say at this point, my friends, other than to express my extreme sympathy and best wishes for the Japanese people.

Oh yes, and on the possible nutcake-alert front, some are saying that HAARM was used to cause this earthquake and subsequent disasters. I'll let you look HAARM up for yourselves and decide what to think. Just try to remember that while paranoia is defined as an unreasonable fear, it is difficult to objectively determine which concerns are unreasonable when dealing with the workings (or possible workings) of an unknown technology.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Losing Afghanistan

While everyone's attention, mine included, has been focused upon events in the Arab world, Afghanistan is quietly going from bad to worse.

The relationship between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the Obama administration continues to go downhill, with Karzai 3 days ago refusing to accept Obama's apology for the killing of nine Afghan children in a US raid.

As LBJ did in Vietnam, Obama is now floundering desperately in Afghanistan. The so-called COIN strategy, which was hailed with much fanfare and hoopla last year, is a failure. This should come as no surprise. COIN was not anything new, despite loud claims to the contrary. COIN was a re-hash of old strategies which failed in Vietnam. "Clear and Hold" sound familiar? "Fortified Hamlets", perhaps? Strategies such as these ignore the basic facts of guerrilla warfare; they are an attempt to apply conventional warfare concepts to unconventional warfare. And the whole point of guerrilla warfare is that the conventional warfare strategies do not work.

I will repeat my earlier prediction. The US involvement in Afghanistan will end badly, as badly as the fall of Saigon in 1975, with the helicopters taking off from the US embassy with people hanging off the landing skids.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Raging Racism In California (updated 3/10/11)

Update - Censorship at YouTube happens all the time. The video in question may now be seen at this new location.

The video below documents one of the ugliest things I have ever seen in the Golden State. The blatant racist bigotry on display is utterly disgusting, even for a Conservatard stronghold like Orange County. This is like something out of Mississippi in the 1950's, with even elected public officials standing up and spouting racist hatred of an unbelievably vitriolic nature.

Enough of my indignant sputtering. Watch the video, which was first aired on
(Open Salon users can view the video here)

The first of my ancestors came to California in the 1840's, during the final years when it was still a part of Mexico. I have always been "prouder nor a banty rooster" of my state. When Europeans ask me if I'm an American, I say "Well, Californian...", because I'm damned proud of the distinction. Love us or hate us, nobody will deny that Californians are different.

And seeing shit like this taking place in my state simply infuriates me beyond words. There is a certain unreconstructed, atavistic part of my character that feels the urge to rush down there and beat the crap out of every one of those bigoted assholes. Fortunately, I'm too old and fat for street-fighting, so the urge goes nowhere; jail was bad enough at 17, it would truly suck at 51.

And wouldn't you know it, who was at least partially behind this ugly display of xenophobic hatred? Rabbi David Eliezrie of Chabad Yorba Linda. Uh huh. Never again, eh?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

ICC Investigates Libyan War Crimes

Demonstrating just how quickly the world's power brokers can move when their own interests are threatened, the ICC has today announced an investigation of war crimes in Libya.

Never mind the fact that Robert Mugabe has been doing the same things in Zimbabwe for 30 years, never mind the fact that many of the actions of the USA and its NATO lackeys in Afghanistan have obviously fulfilled the definition of war crimes, (hello, bombing innocent civilians, over and over, hello?), the war in Libya has threatened the profits of the high and mighty, and so the ICC has moved within 72 hours of the charges being referred to it. This is the same ICC that usually takes years to do anything.

Make no mistake, dear reader, I have no affection whatsoever for Gaddafi. I make no excuses for his actions, and he certainly is guilty of terrible crimes against humanity. But the obviousness of such painfully selective enforcement of international law is simply breath-taking.

Ahhh, but oil exports are threatened, and we cannot have that. Seething hordes of Muslim refugees are threatening the precious "cultural integrity" of a blatantly anti-Muslim Europe, and we cannot have that.

And the usual Hawks here in the USA are madly rattling the sabre, urging military intervention, as though the US military had anything left to intervene with. But practical considerations never prevented US Conservatives from urging military action. After all, they never met a war they didn't love. And hey, there's all that lovely oil for their corporate masters to grab control of. And so, once again, the US military must play the role of mercenaries for the great international corporations.

Meanwhile, here at home, Conservatives are slashing budgets to the bone, cutting programs for children, seniors, the poor, in short everyone who isn't a rich shareholder. Somehow, when it comes to anything but the military or security, there's no money! there's no money! there's no money! But when it's a war at issue, they never even mention what it will cost. When there's a war to be had, with all those rich profits for the defense contractors, then pay-as-you-go ideas and fiscal conservatism are cast aside without a second thought.

What a fucking crock of shit.