Tuesday, July 29, 2008

the girl effect

eloquent and truth, pass it on... thanks, glory!

Monday, July 28, 2008


watch a clip of oliver stone's movie, W, to be released in october.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Halliburton Yankees

If there was an appropriate name for the Yankees - it would be Halliburton. They have single-handedly made baseball a game about money and who has the most. Now, one might say, look at the Twins, look at the Devil Rays or the Oakland A's or look at those pesky Marlins, but of course these same people won't tell you they are anomalies, exceptions (these teams do not ever win. The Marlins did, but that was when they were loaded with salary.)

The Yankees have now acquired more talent, Xavier Nady and Demasco Martes and are looking into Jarod Washburn and maybe even Bonds (who I support to coming back to the league by the way). Because they have injuries to Damon, Matsui and Posada, why not load up and get some more guys in here. No other team can do this, nor does any other team want to. Now, of course the Red Sox, the Mets and Dodgers are all big market well spent teams, but when injuries occur they don't just load up for the sake of it. "Hey, because we have it."

And here is the ultimate reason why this is ridiculous. The salaries. The Yankees are so far and above every other team it is silly to say they are a big market team. We should call them the "super market" team and then the Mets, Red Sox, Dodgers and Angels the big market teams. The Yankees payroll this year is $207,100+ this year. The next team that is even close is the Mets at $137,000+ with the Tigers, Red Sox and White Sox rounding out the top 5. Surely ridiculous amounts of money to be paid, but the Yankees outspend the rest of the league by $70,000 which is inaccurate now with Nady, Martes and of course Washburn on the way.

How much money is that? Well, it is the entire salaries of the Rockies, Orioles, Rangers, Diamondbacks, Royals, Twins, Nationals, Pirates, A's, Devil Rays and Marlins. That is how much money it is. It is an astonishing amount of money. Yes, it is their money, no one disputes that, New York is the biggest market, blah, blah, blah, I get it. Is it necessary though? Is it necessary for Walmart to put every other business who competes with them out of business? Is it necessary for Starbucks to buy up coffee shops and then keep them empty just so another one won't go in there? Is it necessary for Halliburton to spend our money in Iraq and not keep track of it? No, it is not necessary.

Surely, it is true one can compete without spending this money, but it is usually a spend thrift way teams need to go about it, with good coaching and great drafts and what they don't tell us is - is these teams do not win championships. They compete, but they do not win. I am not a big fan of the salary cap, but this is stupid. The Red Sox are also caught up in the system as are the Mets, but comparing the Mets and Red Sox to the Yankees is like comparing Walmart to Super Cuts. Not a fair analogy. But, at least we have them to hate. That is nice.

Who will the Halliburton Yankees sign next?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Obama in Berlin

Much has been made of the politics of Obama's trip and this speech, but this is a beautiful speech. I listened to it this morning. It is worth the 26 minutes it takes to listen. It ties our world together through the hope and freedom and responsibility of global citizenship. Amazing, really. Of course corporate power was not addressed, the real security issue of our time.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Save our Starbucks?

Really? Are people truly mobilizing to save the 600 Starbucks that are going out of business? Maybe they should turn around. There's most likely another one across the street. In fact, they are opening one in my grocery store. So much for Americans feeling the "crunch."

Wait...I some how got off the point. I just came across this great blog post about these loony Americans organizing to save the Starbucks. Check it out here.

Here is a choice excerpt:

"No, these citizens are mobilizing to keep the doors open at shops that charge them $4 (soon to be $12) for drinks made from agricultural products (coffee beans) that the company has no, true legal right to exploit without adequate compensation to the indigenous populations that have farmed these products for millennia."

I am the first to admit that yes, I'm a progressive that drinks Starbucks. I don't hate it, although I do have some problems with it. However, these people need to take their anger and put it towards some positive change...like asking Starbucks to only use fair trade coffee or encourage reuse of mugs or I dunno, forget Starbucks and pick up a pen to write your Congressperson about this unjust war we are fighting. Just a thought.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Another Nuclear Leak in France

Uranium-bearing liquid has leaked from a broken underground pipe at a nuclear plant in southeastern France, the national nuclear safety authority said Friday. It was the second leak discovered at a French site this month.

The Nuclear Safety Authority said experts were trying to determine how much leaked uranium was present at the plant, which is owned by the electricity company Areva.

Areva, which is owned by the French government, is at the forefront of President Nicolas Sarkozy's effort to sell home-grown nuclear energy technology to the rest of the world.

Among all nations, France is the most dependent on nuclear power, with 59 reactors churning out nearly 80 percent of its electricity. The Nuclear Safety Authority said the pipe was believed to have ruptured several years ago. It added that the pipe "was not in line with the applicable regulations, which require shock resistance ability sufficient to avoid rupture."

This is a vivid reminder of how dangerous Nuclear Power can be. It has no carbon imprint on the environment, true unless you live in the town where Chernobyl is, where it is common to see kids with leukemia and cancer, no limbs and the mortality rate deathly low. My friends where I grew up used to house some children from this ravaged area, two girls who were diagnosed with leukemia who came to the states for health care (because Yeltsin made it very clear he was more interested in capitalism than feeding and keeping healthy the Russian population). The outlook for their lives was bleak, but coming to the states for a summer relieved the radiation in their bodies and they became stronger outside of Chernobyl.

Fifteen years after Chernobyl, the world has moved on. But for Belarus the problems are only beginning. Thyroid cancer rates have risen by 2,400 per cent since the explosion . . . It is the country of Belarus which has suffered, and continues to suffer, most from the disaster: 70 per cent of the radiation has fallen on its land and people. . . . Medical research has shown that radioactive elements (primarily caesium 137 and iodine 131) cross the placental barrier from mother to foetus, contaminating each new generation. Faced with soaring levels of infertility and genetic changes, the gene pool of the Belarussian people is now under threat.

Well, I think of course Nuclear power should be discussed with the new "energy diversity" dialogue, I think it's too risky to move in this direction. Wind, Solar and Hydro power is the way to go. We can show the world the way. Why not?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Fresh Evidence of Election Fraud

As reported on Raw Story yesterday.

To continue the theme of corporate take-overs of everything from our energy policy to our democracy there is fresh evidence that the 2002 Georgia Senate and Governors election was stolen. To give a brief background, everyone knows the troubles and travails of the Florida election in 2000, sophisticated ways of blocking the vote and not counting the vote, but in 2002 Georgia became the test case that I believe set the stage for Ohio and 13 other states in 2004 that cost Kerry the election and gave us Roberts and Alito as well as four more years of the dreadful, illegal Bush policies.

But, this election (outside of the Nebraska Senate election which also drew ire) was the first election people woke up and said this is serious business, our elections can be stolen by a computer trip, never mind through voter purging. Set-up a machine, provide no paper trail for who one voted for and voila - election fraud - simple as 1-2.

In a press conference yesterday, barely paid attention to by the media (Why would they? They are part of the problem) a leading cyber-security expert and former adviser to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) says he has fresh evidence regarding election fraud on Diebold electronic voting machines during the 2002 Georgia gubernatorial and senatorial elections. Stephen Spoonamore is the founder and until recently the CEO of Cybrinth LLC, an information technology policy and security firm that serves Fortune 100 companies.

Spoonamore is one of the most prominent cyber-security experts in the country. He has appeared on CNN's Lou Dobbs and ABC's World News Tonight, and has security clearances from his work with the intelligence community and other government agencies, as well as the Department of Defense, and is one of the world’s leading authorities on hacking and cyber-espionage.

In 1995, Spoonamore received a civilian citation for his work with the Department of Defense. He was again recognized for his contributions in 2004 by the Department of Homeland Security. Spoonamore is also a registered Republican and until recently was advising the McCain campaign.

A whistleblower that wishes to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation spoke to Raw Story regarding the election in 2002 and gave Spoonamore the patch that was applied to the Diebold machines in two democratic strongholds in Fulton and DeKalb counties. The whistleblower, who is close to the office of the Secretary of State in Georgia, Cathy Cox said that he became suspicious of Diebold's actions in Georgia for two reasons. The first red flag went up when the computer patch was installed in person by Diebold CEO Bob Urosevich, who flew in from Texas and applied it in just two counties, DeKalb and Fulton, both Democratic strongholds. The source states that Cox was not privy to these changes until after the election and that she became particularly concerned over the patch being installed in just those two counties.

The whistleblower said another flag went up when it became apparent that the patch installed by Urosevich had failed to fix a problem with the computer clock, which employees from Diebold and the Georgia Secretary of State’s office had been told the patch was designed specifically to address.

Individuals close to Arnebeck's office said Spoonamore confirmed that the patch included nothing to repair a clock problem. Instead, he identified two parallel programs, both having the full software code and even the same audio instructions for the deaf. Spoonamore said he could not understand the need for a second copy of the exact same program -- and without access to the machine for which the patch was designed, he could not learn more. Instead, he said he took the evidence to the Cyber-Security Division of the Department of Justice and reported the series of events to authorities. The Justice Department has not yet acted on his report.

Some critics of electronic voting raised questions about the 2002 Georgia race even at the time. Incumbent Democratic Sen. Max Cleland, who was five percentage points ahead of Republican challenger Saxby Chambliss in polls taken a week before the vote, lost 53% to 46%. Incumbent Democratic Governor Roy Barnes, who led challenger Sonny Perdue in the polls by eleven points, lost 51% to 46%. However, because the Diebold machines used throughout the state provided no paper trail, it was impossible to ask for a recount in either case.

This was the first large scale instance in which the corporatocracy tried to steal an election with no paper trail (the warm-up), the next was the 2004 election in which exit poll after exit poll had Kerry way up in 13 states and in nine that are nearly impossible to refute the evidence. Now, it is exit polls that are in dispute instead of our election system and our democracy taken over by corporations with a twist of militarism, the textbook definition of fascism.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Naomi Klein on Fox News Describes the Shock and the Real Solutions

See Naomi Klein's argument about the Shock Doctrine against the bozos at Faux Noise. She dismantles them in five minutes.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Naomi Klein and the Shock Doctrine in Practice

Last night we went to hear Naomi Klein speak at, ironically enough, Barnes and Noble. To hear the publicist introduce Naomi Klein as the "author of the cataclysmic book, the Shock Doctrine and No Logo, which turned corporate power on its head and re-defined globalisation."

We wondered what Naomi would say about this contradiction and she did not disappoint, she called into question the bottled water she was given and the Barnes and Noble sponsored event that is "sold out in more ways than one." Over 500 people came out to see the author and to watch these corporate hacks cart around the Shock Doctrine was a pleasure.

Naomi gave a brief description of just what the shock doctrine is because many there had not read it (Glory, you would have been in good company) and instead of going through each part of her book she gave recent examples of how this shock doctrine works. First, the quote by Milton Friedman: "Only a crisis -- actual or perceived -- produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable."

When a crisis occurs, "a shock" in which people are so discombobulated, forces seeking to pounce and change the way we do business that always seems to benefit the few, not the masses, is the next step. She gave a wonderful example happening currently. The oil price crisis (that is happening simultaneously with this recession) is beginning to wear on people. $4 a gallon for gas which may turn to $5 a gallon gas sooner than we think is the "shock."

And though we have heard a few conversations about green energy, wind power, nuclear, etc., there are no real answers being proposed. Well, here come the neocons and their shout "drill for oil" in Anwar, Florida, Shale, whatever, just drill. Even though, the President (dare I call him that respectfully) admitted that we won't see a barrel of it for ten years (how is this for helping the energy policy). No, instead he is saying it will help the "psychology of the market." I mean people actually believe this shit!! And the polls show it.

Colleagues have asked me at work why should I not believe in more drilling for oil? Instead of a long-term plan (a plan thankfully Al Gore outlined today) we listen to the drivel coming from our politicians (and that means Democrats too!) who want to drill for oil instead of fixing energy that will keep us independent from the middle east (a good thing at this point), ignoring the cataclysmic fact that global warming is here and that we should create an entirely new green economy.

Instead we should drill. You watch, just as FISA was passed through with no thought for what it means for our country, a new bill will arise in Congress and will be passed because the Democrats are a bunch of fucking wimps and the Republicans, the free marketeers and the shock doctrinaires will drill it down their throats. Pathetic. But, this is a small example of the very real way the Shock Doctrine operates and we should be very scared, all of us. But, we can change it. In Bolivia Ewo Morales nationalised the oil fields in an instant and took control of the profits and the market. We just need the will.

And I do like Obama a lot, but he will do nothing that will stop this corporatocracy that we live in unless we make him. As Naomi said last night, FDR was not a new dealer until the people made him lead a progressive new deal. We can support Obama and at the same time expect a progressive agenda to be put through or we will find someone else.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Josh Hamilton, Charles Bukowski, and Perspective

I just got done watching the Home Run Derby. This year, being the end of the greatest stadium in the world, Yankee Stadium, it was held in New York, the greatest city in the world. And Josh Hamilton didn't win.

In the first round, the former drug addict and first-round pick for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and now Texas Ranger, showed why he leads the majors with 95 RBIs. He proved that he is, by far, the best story in baseball. A man who did not play at all from 2003-2005, after getting sucked into drugs, hit 28 first-round homers. In my living room in Brazil, I stood up and cheered. I almost cried. When interviewed, he deferred to his friend and coach of 71 years, who had just pitched almost a gamesworth of pitches to the man of the hour.

Josh, obviously fatigued, could only put up three home runs in the final round, and bowed out to Justin Morneau, another amazing hitter from the American League.

I was talking to my sister Sarah about another talent who went through hell, Charles Bukowski. The man, who, after writing prodigiously, stopped publishing for almost 20 years, was "re-discovered" at the age of 45, and put out some of the greatest poetry I have ever read. He wrote about people whose lives were not the stuff of Masterpiece Theatre, or Sense and Sensibility. They lived in flophouses, drank Olde English and bet on horses. They loved women who knoew they were failures. Bukowski had sat in dark rooms, and stared at walls that were peeling.

And I guarentee that Josh Hamilton has, too. After his amazing first round, he answered a question from a perfect-bottled blonde interviewer from ESPN by saying that he was just happy to be alive. He got a standing ovation in Yankee Stadium. And he reminded me of another guy who I just recently got into: Bukowski. Here is The Night I Was Going to Die. I'd like to dedicate it to Josh Hamilton and everyone who looks themselves in the eye and doesn't turn away at the ugliness.

the night I was going to die
I was sweating on the bed
and I could hear the crickets
and there was a cat fight outside
and I could feel my soul dropping down through the
and just before it hit the floor I jumped up
I was almost too weak to walk
but I walked around and turned on all the lights
and then I went back to bedand dropped it down again
I was upturning on all the lights
I had a 7-year-old daughter
and I felt sure she wouldn't want me dead
otherwise it wouldn't have mattered
but all that night
nobody phoned
nobody came by with a beer
my girlfriend didn't phone
all I could hear were the crickets and it was
and I kept working at it
getting up and down
until the first of the sun came through the window
through the bushes
and then I got on the bed
and the soul stayed inside at last
I slept.
now people come by
beating on the doors and windows
the phone rings
the phone rings again and again
I get great letters in the mail
hate letters and love letters.
everything is the same again.

Not Worried

Ah, to be Karl Rove. Congress calls you to testify, but you get a note from not the doctor, but President Bush. Must be nice. Wreck havoc in Washington, get out of jail free. Actually, you don't even have to go through the motions of pretending to not have done anything. You just call 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for help. Partners in crime need to help each other out. And keep their stories straight. By not telling them.

Santogold - L.E.S. Artistes [Official Music Video]

Music is disposable. The world we live in, in "real time", has no respect for longevity. artists are chewed up and spit out. Santogoold, with this single, and an amazing album, should fight to remain strong. Even if it means doing what another pioneer, Dizzee Rascal, did, by joining forces with the underground here in the US, and signing with Def Jux records. She is another recruit into a world of leeches, disguised as agents, producers, labels. A Tribe Called Quest, after releasing The Low End Theory, one of th greatest hip-hop albums ever, received less than $30,000 for record sales. As the GZA said on Liquid Swords, "you gotta read the labels."

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Fear is Your Only God

I have been living in Brazil for over 4 years, and I never once was made, by the news media or the reigning political powers, that this country, rich in so many things, grwoing at a rate of almost 6% a year, was being overrun by illegal immigrants, or any type of immigrant. Now, of course, Brazil is a developing country, and does not have the "land of milk and honey myth" that the US has held onto, whether it wanted to or not, for so long. But Brazil does have immigrants, like me, and thousands of illegal aliens, like the majority of Bolivians. Some of them work in Bauru, the city I live in these days. I work with an Argentinian, who may or may not be legal, and a woman from Uruguay, as well as an Equadoran, who teached me Spanish.

They have never had it easy, what with documents, red tape, and headaches, but they don't seem to live in fear.

After another humiliating example of "justice" for illegal immigrants in the land of the free, Postville, Iowa found its way into the news in May for the arrest of 400 undocumented workers at the Agriprocessors plant.

Erik Caymad-Freixas, Spanish professor and translator, witnessed the procedures, and could not stay quiet about what he saw. Today's New York Times op-ed page, with the article, The Shame of Postville, Iowa, discusses what he saw, and the excesses that have been carried out by the Federal government, specifially, ICE, in the name of the law.

Here is an excerpt:

The essay chillingly describes what Dr. Camayd-Freixas saw and heard as he translated for some of the nearly 400 undocumented workers who were seized by federal agents at the Agriprocessors kosher plant in Postville in May.
Under the old way of doing things, the workers, nearly all Guatemalans, would have been simply and swiftly deported. But in a twist of Dickensian cruelty, more than 260 were charged as serious criminals for using false Social Security numbers or residency papers, and most were sentenced to five months in prison.

What is worse, Dr. Camayd-Freixas wrote, is that the system was clearly rigged for the wholesale imposition of mass guilt. He said the court-appointed lawyers had little time in the raids’ hectic aftermath to meet with the workers, many of whom ended up waiving their rights and seemed not to understand the complicated charges against them.

Dr. Camayd-Freixas’s essay describes “the saddest procession I have ever witnessed, which the public would never see” — because cameras were forbidden.

“Driven single-file in groups of 10, shackled at the wrists, waist and ankles, chains dragging as they shuffled through, the slaughterhouse workers were brought in for arraignment, sat and listened through headsets to the interpreted initial appearance, before marching out again to be bused to different county jails, only to make room for the next row of 10.”

He wrote that they had waived their rights in hopes of being quickly deported, “since they had families to support back home.” He said that they did not understand the charges they faced, adding, “and, frankly, neither could I.”

The American populace, frightened by the Mexican worker on the corner, the local politician stumping about the end of jobs for "Americans," and the reality of recession and $145 a gallon gas, has become easily influenced. Fear sells, whether that fear is of Al-Qeada or hordes of poor immigrants running rampant through "our economy." These workers in Iowa were not identity thieves, or hackers. They were not coyotes, trafficking in lives. They were not Mexican mafia, or El Salvadorean gangbangers. They were poor family breadwinners, who risked everything to make some cash to send back to Guatemala.

As the Times wrote:

No one is denying that the workers were on the wrong side of the law. But there is a profound difference between stealing people’s identities to rob them of money and property, and using false papers to merely get a job. It is a distinction that the Bush administration, goaded by immigration extremists, has willfully ignored. Deporting unauthorized workers is one thing; sending desperate breadwinners to prison, and their families deeper into poverty, is another.

A Voice of the Yankees Passes On

I grew up, literally, on the Yankees. some of the first things I remember listening to were Yankee games. I loved driving up to Poughkeepsie, NY, and listening with my parents to Phil Rizzuto on the car radio. Time seemed to stop when I hear that someone like Steve Balboni, who struck out way more than anything else, had hit a homer.

Bobby Murcer, to me, became a Yankee on the radio. I wasn't old enough to remember his playing days, where, at one time, he was being compared to Mickey Mantle. But I will never forget his great Oklahoma accent, which just reeked of baseball. When I heard Bobby broadcast, I felt as if I were at Yankee stadium, and I could almost hear the crack of the bat.

Listening to Murcer was like eating Cracker Jacks at the park. Whether you loved the Bronx Bombers or hated them, Bobby Murcer was someone to be proud of in the baseball world.

As a Yankee, he went to the All-Star game five times, and almost won a batting title. In 1973, according to the New York Times, he had the highest salary in the history of the Yankees: $120,000 a year. Not exactly Alex Rodriguez cash, but a big deal in 1973.

Bobby Murcer died of brain cancer at 62. A once and forever Yankee.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Democratic-led Senate Will Gut the 4th Amendment Tomorrow!

Tomorrow, the Democratic led Senate will pass a law demanded by Dick Cheney and George Bush that will "cover up and retroactively legalize their surveillance crimes and protect the lawbreakers, there will be a clear record -- delivered to their front doors -- of what they're really doing, along with an accounting of the deceitful propaganda they are disseminating to mask and justify it."

These fact sheets make very good points especially the point that we live in a country with a prison population of 2.3 million people, mostly black and Hispanic. Yet, when the elites of our country blatantly attack the Constitution, gut the fourth amendment what is our Congress to do? Give them fucking immunity! And this is being led by the Democrats. Have I made this clear? I have tried to listen to my friends on why Obama would cave in and vote for this...not being labeled a terrorist in the general election, being the first black candidate (we don't know what it is like to be a black candidate and what he has to go through), all true statements, I might add.

But...as I have said, at some point policy matters, the Constitution matters. What is the point of becoming the President, the leader of the free world and letting those that have screwed this nation and several other nations at this point off Scot free, with what they want, an executive that is akin to a King. Do we think we should trust a Democrat with these powers? Are we that assured Obama will be elected? Do we trust him with this power? Do we trust anyone with the power to subvert the bill of rights?

We are in dangerous territory senselessly eroding what we hold dear, our American Democracy.

Philosophy, Reality and Tax Attorneys

I have been reading a really funny little book called Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar, and it is a great look into the connection between humor, specifically jokes, and philosophy. It's written by two Harvard philosophy majors, Tom Cathcart and Dan Klein. Here is a little sampling of one of the metaphysical bits of humor found in this pearl.

A woman is told by her doctor that she has six months to live. "Is there anything I can do?" she asks.

"Yes, there is," the doctor replies. 'You could marry a tax accountant."

"How will that help my illness?" the woman asks.

"Oh, it won't help your illness," says the doctor, "but it will make that six months seem like an eternity!"

Generation Z?

Sunday was my son's baptism. I know that we, at the SG, support freedom from religion, but I do like to keep the folks happy, and they are down here to be the godparents. Dylan didn't seem to have any ethical qualms with the decision. Later on in life, I hope he has the courage to make his own decisions about religion.

The next generation has come to the Fogartys, and I thought I would welcome them to the readers of the best damn blog around, the Subversive Garden.

Monday, July 7, 2008

An Ode to a Genius: George Carlin on Religion

The irreverent, the Subversive and the Genius of George Carlin. No one could do more with language than this man. Rest in peace as a sun worshiper, Mr. Carlin.

Let the Iraqis Eat Cake

Ted Koppel voiced the opinion of the American imperialists yesterday. We need to be in Iraq so we can steal the oil and then gave the Republicans a talking point: If we pull the troops out of Iraq "precipitously" imagine what would happen to the price of oil. There is no doubt that Iraq is not as violent as it once was, but this of course is as fragile as it could possibly be so let us find another reason to stay and that is oil. Ahah! At least the imperialists are not making up reasons anymore. Also, the Pentagon said ah fungoo to the Iraqi Prime Minster today who said he wanted a time table. The Pentagon said I don't think so.

KOPPEL: "U.S. troops are in a part of the world that produces a huge amount of oil and natural gas. We will have U.S. troops in that region for years to come, whether we want to or not. … And with the price of oil going up to a 4.5 dollars a gallon, imagine what would happen to the price of oil if we precipitously pull troops out of the Persian Gulf. It’s not going to happen."

A Tree on Fire

The photo attached to this post was taken by my brother, John, in my family's side yard in Rutherford, NJ. When I saw it today, I went him the comment that it looks like the branches are on fire, and that the edges are lit up in orange.

The tree is a huge elm that has stood in our sideyard for much longer than I have been on this planet. For much longer than we have lived in the 100 year-old house on Mountain Way. The tree, if all goes well, will stand there for many more years, offering shelter to squirrels and birds, and shade for whoever stops beneath its limbs.

I have not been living in Rutherford since 2001. I have been living in Brazil since 2004, in a country which has been in the news for trees themselves. Big, big trees, that are being cut down at alarming rates. Yeterday's Folha de S. Paulo, Brazil's best daily, reported yesterday that two times the area of Monaco are cut down in the Amazon every day. That is correct. And truly depressing.

Unlike what many in the eco-world would report, none of that is for ethanol. Most of it is done to make space for cattle grazing, contruction, and charcoal. Some of it, especially in the ground zero state of Mato Grosso, is soy. And a huge, huge part of the lumbering, legal and illegal, is done by foreign companies. Just in Mato Grosso, over 160 non-Brazilian comanies operate.

So, Brazil, today's largest beef exporter, is lighting up and cutting down trees for your next steak. The huge majority of the cattle in the Amazon is shipped out of the country to the US, Japan and Europe. The price you pay for a hamburger, of course, does not include the destruction of the world's most important forest.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Obama: New and Not Improved

The New York Times Editorial Page is now criticizing Obama for his swift move to the center. It begins with a complement (deserved): Senator Barack Obama stirred his legions of supporters, and raised our hopes, promising to change the old order of things. He spoke with passion about breaking out of the partisan mold of bickering and catering to special pleaders, promised to end President Bush’s abuses of power and subverting of the Constitution and disowned the big-money power brokers who have corrupted Washington politics.

The first point they make is alarming to me, more so than anything he has said or done since winning the nomination. The Board says: Now there seems to be a new Barack Obama on the hustings. First, he broke his promise to try to keep both major parties within public-financing limits for the general election. His team explained that, saying he had a grass-roots-based model and that while he was forgoing public money, he also was eschewing gold-plated fund-raisers. These days he’s on a high-roller hunt.

Even his own chief money collector, Penny Pritzker, suggests that the magic of $20 donations from the Web was less a matter of principle than of scheduling. “We have not been able to have much of the senator’s time during the primaries, so we have had to rely more on the Internet,” she explained as she and her team busily scheduled more than a dozen big-ticket events over the next few weeks at which the target price for quality time with the candidate is more than $30,000 per person.

This is the #1 point why I did not automatically support Obama and was with Edwards for a while because the numbers did not lie. Though, Obama was raising bucket loads of money over the internet he still was raising money from large donors. Since the nomination he has "eschewed" the internet and gone the way of all politicians. What will be owed after these? Or more aptly, what is already owed? How about flip flops on the warrantless wiretaps. Who only knows what else?

The Editorial continues to target him for these flip flops and blasts him for the faith based policies as well as FISA, but leaves two huge issues for the end: the death penalty and gun control.

It ends with this: We are not shocked when a candidate moves to the center for the general election. But Mr. Obama’s shifts are striking because he was the candidate who proposed to change the face of politics, the man of passionate convictions who did not play old political games.

There are still vital differences between Mr. Obama and Senator John McCain on issues like the war in Iraq, taxes, health care and Supreme Court nominations. We don’t want any “redefining” on these big questions. This country needs change it can believe in.

Friday, July 4, 2008

A Picture Worth A Thousand Words

Obama Responds to FISA Criticism

Obama responded to the criticism waged against him for supporting the FISA legislation. Now, I don't agree with him. I think he and his colleagues should push strongly for the provision that holds the telecommunications companies responsible. What I do appreciate is his response, his honesty and his ability to take every day Americans ideas and give them credibility. We have a long way to go and the current wind tunnell to the center is disconcerting and horrifying on some level, but I am still with him - for now.

I want to take this opportunity to speak directly to those of you who oppose my decision to support the FISA compromise.

This was not an easy call for me. I know that the FISA bill that passed the House is far from perfect. I wouldn't have drafted the legislation like this, and it does not resolve all of the concerns that we have about President Bush's abuse of executive power. It grants retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that may have violated the law by cooperating with the Bush administration's program of warrantless wiretapping. This potentially weakens the deterrent effect of the law and removes an important tool for the American people to demand accountability for past abuses. That's why I support striking Title II from the bill, and will work with Chris Dodd, Jeff Bingaman and others in an effort to remove this provision in the Senate.

But I also believe that the compromise bill is far better than the Protect America Act that I voted against last year. The exclusivity provision makes it clear to any president or telecommunications company that no law supersedes the authority of the FISA court. In a dangerous world, government must have the authority to collect the intelligence we need to protect the American people. But in a free society, that authority cannot be unlimited. As I've said many times, an independent monitor must watch the watchers to prevent abuses and to protect the civil liberties of the American people. This compromise law assures that the FISA court has that responsibility.

The Inspectors General report also provides a real mechanism for accountability and should not be discounted. It will allow a close look at past misconduct without hurdles that would exist in federal court because of classification issues. The recent investigation (PDF) uncovering the illegal politicization of Justice Department hiring sets a strong example of the accountability that can come from a tough and thorough IG report.

The ability to monitor and track individuals who want to attack the United States is a vital counter-terrorism tool, and I'm persuaded that it is necessary to keep the American people safe -- particularly since certain electronic surveillance orders will begin to expire later this summer. Given the choice between voting for an improved yet imperfect bill, and losing important surveillance tools, I've chosen to support the current compromise. I do so with the firm intention -- once I'm sworn in as president -- to have my Attorney General conduct a comprehensive review of all our surveillance programs, and to make further recommendations on any steps needed to preserve civil liberties and to prevent executive branch abuse in the future.

Now, I understand why some of you feel differently about the current bill, and I'm happy to take my lumps on this side and elsewhere. For the truth is that your organizing, your activism and your passion is an important reason why this bill is better than previous versions. No tool has been more important in focusing peoples' attention on the abuses of executive power in this administration than the active and sustained engagement of American citizens. That holds true -- not just on wiretapping, but on a range of issues where Washington has let the American people down.

I learned long ago, when working as an organizer on the South Side of Chicago, that when citizens join their voices together, they can hold their leaders accountable. I'm not exempt from that. I'm certainly not perfect, and expect to be held accountable too. I cannot promise to agree with you on every issue. But I do promise to listen to your concerns, take them seriously, and seek to earn your ongoing support to change the country. That is why we have built the largest grassroots campaign in the history of presidential politics, and that is the kind of White House that I intend to run as president of the United States -- a White House that takes the Constitution seriously, conducts the peoples' business out in the open, welcomes and listens to dissenting views, and asks you to play your part in shaping our country's destiny.

Democracy cannot exist without strong differences. And going forward, some of you may decide that my FISA position is a deal breaker. That's ok. But I think it is worth pointing out that our agreement on the vast majority of issues that matter outweighs the differences we may have. After all, the choice in this election could not be clearer. Whether it is the economy, foreign policy, or the Supreme Court, my opponent has embraced the failed course of the last eight years, while I want to take this country in a new direction. Make no mistake: if John McCain is elected, the fundamental direction of this country that we love will not change. But if we come together, we have an historic opportunity to chart a new course, a better course.

So I appreciate the feedback through my.barackobama.com, and I look forward to continuing the conversation in the months and years to come. Together, we have a lot of work to do.

Tell No One

This is one great film. If you can see it anywhere run to see it. They don't make highly intelligent, incoherently plausible movies like this anymore. It is a 2006 French Film that is part love story, part drama, part film noir like none you have seen in years. Amazing. Run to see it.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Predicting the Obama Move to the Center (because the establisment says so)

What has bothered me about Obama's swift move to the center has been the energy that we (and I mean all of us who helped) gave and how quickly we were abandoned by the establishment, who lost by the way with their candidate Hillary Clinton. Obama has moved to the establishment and he looks more like Hillary Clinton and John Kerry that I could have ever imagined. What Obama is banking on is that the establishment will win him this election and who knows what he will owe after this, instead of again relying on us who got him here. I will not shut up about this. We need a progressive revolution like the New Deal, not another Bill Clinton who catered to the DLC.

If we think now it is us funding this campaing we are wrong!! He listened to us through the nomination and is now abandoning us shockingly swift. What is more unbelievable is this video below by Naomi Klein, author of the Shock Doctrine (the best book in 25 years) is she predicts the move accurately. This speech is the day after Hillary endorsed Barack in early June. She calls for us not to abandon Barack Obama, but to push him and push him where he needs to be before the establishment gets a hold of him (which they are already have obviously). What the FISA group is doing on his website is beautiful and fully in line with this notion. Go America.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

shakin' it all over the world!

a fun, happy video sent by my cousin with this text: "A friend of mine sent this to me with the words 'This movie makes me happy to be human.' I couldn't agree more! When I get depressed about the state of affairs in this world, little gems of art like this help me remember that we are all in this together and people are not that different, regardless of where you go."

thanks marc!

Olbermann Special Comment on Obama and FISA

Thanks for the netroots and thanks for Olbermann. I have soured on the Obama choice considerably in the past ten days. He is no reason to move to the middle. None. This ain't 2004! We need a strong leader with strong progressive views. And we need the law upheld.