Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Stop the Green Machine!

"A California Energy Commission study estimated wind turbines in the Altamont [Alameda County, California] kill 881 to 1,300 birds of prey a year, including as many as 116 federally protected golden eagles." This quote is from an article entitled "Wind farms pitch plan to address bird deaths" in The Argus, Thursday, July 7th 2005 edition. Wouldn't it be ironic if conservative groups started protesting the destruction of our wildlife by these "Green Machines" that are pushed so ardently by the environmental movement to decrease reliance on fossil fuels?

Signs carried by protestors might say things like: "Save the Planet: stop environmentalists from killing our wildlife" or "Protect the golden eagle: shut down the Green Machines"

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

To see the latest blockbuster or not to see the latest blockbuster, that is the question..

Well, as the little girl in the sci-fi spook flick, Poltergeist, chirped, "they're here!". The special effects-ridden summer blockbusters are back again. Like few social rituals in modern American culture these big money movies defy a certain segment of people to NOT go and see them. If you're under about fifty, it's almost compulsory viewing -- like watching the Super Bowl. One is suspected of being a little odd if one eschews the obligatory viewing. You don't have to like it but you do have to have seen it.

When I was a boy I was sure I was the only kid in my neighborhood who wasn't taken by his parents to see The Sound of Music. It had become that big of a cinematic phenomenon at the time and there probably weren't too many films of that magnitude prior to it (maybe Ben Hur was an exception?). Now, Hollywood puts out at least a half a dozen "must see" blockbusters per year. If the young and fashionably hip want to keep their credentials, they have to have seen these movies, even if only to ridicule them.

But a funny thing happens as one gets older. The siren lure of these moving "graven images" (now there's a term we don't hear too often) seems to lose it's grip on our compulsions. Of course, contemptuous dismissal of television and those who watch it is now a powerful trend. We've come a long way from the early nineties when a 30-something neighbor of mine looked at me like I was an alien when I expressed ignorance to the very existence of his favorite show, "Friends". He didn't waste much time pondering my pathetic lack of culture since he was frantically scurrying back to his t.v. set, like I once frantically scurried back to mine -- to watch episodes of the cartoon Jonny Quest when I was nine years old. Cracks are clearly forming in television's near monopoly control of our minds.

But movies have remained in relatively high regard by the 16-60 set. I wonder, if, as the Baby Boomers age, the number of people compelled to watch these obligatory $100 million-plus motion pictures is starting to wane. If I'm any kind of bellweather then the answer is yes. Give me the sly, low budget anything-but-thrilling "Napoleon Dynamite" over Tom Cruise and Spielberg's "War of the Worlds" any day of the week. And yet.... the more I see and hear of "War", the more I feel that familiar tug to go see it. Maybe this weekend? Wait, I better see Batman Begins first...

Monday, June 13, 2005

bin Laden in Iran?

Here's a Newsmax article about Kenneth Timmerman's new book. This guy is not to be dismissed. He is a topnotch journalist who wrote: The Death Lobby about how the West armed Saddam. He's got major Mideast contacts and experience.
With Carl Limbacher and Staff
For the story behind the story...

Sunday, June 12, 2005 6:26 p.m. EDT

Author: Bin Laden in Iran

Osama bin Laden is currently in Iran, where he is receiving medical treatment, meeting with top Iranian government officials, and plotting new terrorist attacks against America, a new book says.

In "Countdown to Crisis: The Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran," best-selling investigative reporter Kenneth R. Timmerman reveals the whereabouts of safe houses where bin Laden and top al-Qaida operatives have been sheltered by the Iranian regime, and describes how the regime is continuing to provide material assistance to al-Qaida even today.

Timmerman's startling revelations come from a recent defector who held a top position in Iranian intelligence. The defector provided documents and other material evidence - including a detailed description of a meeting last November between bin Laden and top Iranian government officials at a safe house in northern Iran.

Timmerman conducted extensive face-to-face debriefings with the defector in Europe and at an undisclosed location in the Middle East.

Other defectors and intelligence sources Timmerman interviewed for "Countdown to Crisis" corroborated key elements of the defector's story and provided new details of the deadly Iran-al-Qaida connection.

The CIA calls the defector a "fabricator of monumental proportions," but Timmerman reveals that this is because he tried to warn the CIA two months before 9/11 of a "massive attack on America" scheduled for September 11, 2001. The CIA brushed off his warning and since 9/11 has tried to smear and discredit him.

Timmerman's years of working with defectors and dissidents won him a back-handed compliment on June 27, 2000, when a hard-line regime newspaper called him the head of the CIA's covert "human intelligence" effort to overthrow the clerical regime in Iran.

Among the assertions in Timmerman's new book:

# Osama bin Laden met with top Iranian leaders in a regime safehouse in northern Iran in late 2004 to discuss future terror attacks against the United States and its allies.

# The Iranian regime has been sheltering bin Laden and providing him medical care since that time.

# The Iranian regime is also sheltering other top al-Qaida leaders, including bin laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, and his top military planner, Saif al-Adil.

# Bin Laden's eldest son, Saad bin Laden, has been in Iran since May 2001, when he was received as the "future leader" of al-Qaida in the event his father was killed during U.S. retaliatory attacks for the 9/11 attack.

Commenting on Timmerman's new book, 9/11 commissioner and former Secretary of the Navy John F. Lehman wrote:

"With so many amateur intelligence experts clouding the public dialogue, it is a pleasure to read the work of an author of real professionalism. Timmerman adds texture and clarity to the gross failures of our intelligence establishment, and new visibility to the role of Iran in the Islamist war against America."

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Classless Socialists

I'm not in favor of the Euroweenie Union since it's basically a socialist command economy that takes power away from the local and small state level and enriches the largest corporations. That's right, even though it was set up by Fabian Socialists it is favorable to the largest corporations -- not to free enterprise in general.

Check out these Socialists.
Always looking for some angle of opportunity to exploit by wooing the masses, who they view much the same way a marine biologist views the inhabitants of a coral reef -- wonderful little creatures that should be nurtured and protected. It's not so much that leftists all hold the common man in contempt -- some of them do just that -- but that they view him as a far inferior being than themselves. The left wingers just can't imagine a brick layer reading and arguing Gramsci like they do, so they see him as a lower class intellectual entity. So much for their "classless society". Here's a quote from the Socialist
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Posters in Paris campaign for a left vote against the European constitution (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The no votes against the European constitution in the Netherlands and France offer an opportunity for us, writes Anindya Bhattacharyya

The no votes in the French and Dutch referendums on the European Constitutional Treaty have sent shockwaves through mainstream parties across the European Union (EU). France’s ruling conservative coalition and the centre left Socialist Party are in turmoil following the result.

Some 60 percent of Socialist Party voters rejected the constitution, despite the party officially backing the treaty.

The party has responded by turning on the left. Laurent Fabius, a leading member who joined the no campaign, has been kicked off the party’s ruling executive.

The French conservatives are similarly split. Traditionalist “patrician” politicians such as president Jacques Chirac and his newly appointed prime minister Dominique de Villepin want to bolster French protectionism and play to nationalist sentiment.

But a younger breed of Tory politicians, led by the interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy, wants to steer even further to the right. Sarkozy plans to use Chirac’s humiliation over the referendum to launch a presidential bid in 2007.

In Britain Tony Blair is looking to wriggle out of a promised referendum on the European constitution, as he will almost certainly lose it.

But Chirac and Germany’s chancellor Gerhard Schröder are furious with Blair. They blame him for pushing the idea of referendums, and are insisting that countries continue with the formal process of ratifying the treaty.

By angering France and Germany, Blair may well end up losing Britain’s EU budget rebate. This would maul his political reputation at home and strengthen the demands on him to go.

But while Europe’s ruling class is turning in on itself, the prospects for the radical left across Europe are the brightest for decades. The no campaigns in both France and the Netherlands were led by united coalitions of left forces.

The radical left in Britain now needs to forge links with the “left no” campaigns in France and the Netherlands and learn from their experience.

Although Blair is likely to kick any referendum into the long grass, the collapse of the constitutional treaty doesn’t mean the issue of Europe will go away.

Larry Elliot, the Guardian’s economics editor, argues that the crisis is likely to spread into other areas of the EU’s neo-liberal project, including the single currency.

That means we need to articulate the left wing case against the euro and other neo-liberal aspects of the European project.

We should do this not by making appeals to “defending the British way of life”, but by saying “a better Europe is possible” — one based on genuine internationalism from below and a rejection of privatisation and free market economics.

Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT rail workers’ union, says,“The hostility to the constitution demonstrated in France and the Netherlands reflects the majority opinion of working people in Britain. The choice is quite clear — do you want member states to hand over power to Brussels and even more of their public services to privateers, or not?”

Many on the left have been sceptical over whether a “left no” campaign is feasible in Britain. The French and Dutch results should banish those doubts.

They have shown that it is possible to run vibrant campaigns against a “bosses’ Europe” without making concessions to nationalism or racism.

We need to confidently build a similar “left no” in Britain. If we succeed, we could pull the carpet out from under the feet of both the mainstream parties and the “Eurosceptic” fringe right.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Pipeline that will change the world

Article on filbuster deal


Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Filibuster Deal: Judging from the center


It's a lawmaker's rule of thumb: When you don't have the votes, you have to deal. Senate Democrats didn't have the votes to block Republican leadership from exercising the "nuclear option" against judicial filibusters, so they struck a deal Monday with a group of more moderate Republicans.

In doing so, senators from both parties recognized another axiom: The perfect shouldn't be the enemy of the good. For the body's most liberal Democrats, the perfect would have been to continue the filibuster fight, even into defeat. For the most conservative Republicans, the perfect would have been to call the Democrats' bluff and bring in Vice President Dick Cheney to push the button on the nuclear option, which requires only a simple majority.

If one were to score the confrontation's result as if it were a sporting match, the Democrats won. For that day, at least, Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist lost control of the Senate agenda.

Of course, there were more important winners in the confrontation over judicial filibusters and the resulting compromise crafted by the 14 reasoned Republicans and Democrats. Winners included U.S. citizens and taxpayers, who were likely spared a protracted Democratic effort to gum up the Senate's parliamentary works. The institution of the Senate itself is another winner, through at least limited preservation of the filibuster as a vital tool (and, if necessary, weapon) against the tyranny of the majority, particularly valuable in the case of lifetime judicial appointments.

The losers are the extreme ideologues among both parties and their respective special interest groups.

The center has held, but just barely. The ideological match will surely be rejoined when, as is widely anticipated, President Bush has the opportunity to offer new appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Justice and history will be better served if the fate of their confirmation is in the hands of centrists rather than extremists.

The China Trap

On the one hand we have folks like Thomas Friedman saying that the economy is going to be exploding to the upside with inter-facilitating techonomies of scale in a bulldozering of the playing field that will leave no middle-management and send Fortune 500 chiefs packing and basically make everybody of CEO of his own business. On the other hand we have the doom and gloomers like Martin Weiss and a host of authors in the major weeklies who see a scary ride into the abyss of a trade war with China.

This will reportedly feature U.S. threats (already beginning, courtesy of Treasury Secretary Snow) if China doesn't raise the value of the yuan, followed by Chinese refusal to do so, followed by U.S. raising of trade barriers to Chinese goods, and finally, the Chinese use of the economic "nuclear option". This is the rapid dumping on the global markets of all those U.S. Treasury securities China has purchased over the last decade which has, in effect, propped up the most profligate deficit spending in U.S. history (or that of any other nation's history for that matter -- correct me if I'm wrong, c.b.)

So which scenario will play out, or will both? Or will neither?

On a Bias

I am not biased to the cut of a given shirt. I'll scope nape without prejudice. I am not proud.


Okay, let's bring on the posts people. Let's move it. Get that electronic ink flowing and commit those quips to pixel paper.


Opening post of thoughstreamer

Today's topic: the new book by NYT reporter Thomas L. Friedman called The World is Flat. He basically posits that there are about ten technological developments ranging from the cell phone and email to Google's search engine (and, ironically, the blog itself), which tend to "flatten" out the old world hierarchies of "top-down" management and their attendant major requirements of capital outlay that have erstwhile stymied us non-captains of industry. For the last five to twenty years or so, these technologies have been gradually assimilated into the economy and have been slowly adopted as everyday tools by a majority of Western citizens.

The key point of the book seems to be that we are on the verge of a major economic expansion which has been awaiting the integration or meshing of these ten technologies. So we've spent the last ten years with the internet just bringing our internet usage and abilities up to speed but haven't yet realized the potential to tie it in with say, the cell phone. Friedman believes that when business -- and increasingly, John Q. Public will become an active participant in the new world of business -- discovers the enormous benefits of getting these ten technologies to work together, the world will see an historic expansion in productivity and creativity.

Who else has read this and was denskt du (excuse the bad German)? Thanks in advance for your checking out the new site.