Thursday, November 30, 2006

One for the great decider


Headlines from page 11A of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel this morning:

"Iraq panel to recommend troop pullback"


"3,500 more troops may head to Iraq in early '07"


Now, aren't you glad the Great Decider is getting his guidance directly from God?

The sound of silence

I know that things have been quiet around here, but, well, sure the election results took a bit of the rage against the machine out of my sails, and then of course Thanksgiving and all that. And I mean afterall, according to Tom Tancredo I live in the Third World (the irony being of course that "white of European descent" Miamians have been saying that to each other for years), so you shouldn't expect too much anyway.

So just to keep things rolling along, some bits and pieces guaranteed to sober you up real fast.

An article in last week's Science (which my friend on the right Jason Coleman thinks is an outlet for "junk science" - as opposed to the spewings about global warming that emanate from right wing ideologues at the Hoover Institution) basically suggests that we are likely to see a meltdown in ocean biodiversity by mid 21st century unless we change the way we exploit and pollute the cradle of all life on the planet. Very sobering indeed. Human beings have an unmitigated history of violating that cardinal rule of right living: "don't shit where you eat."

And just in case you can't get access, here is the summary of the article:

Science 3 November 2006:
Vol. 314. no. 5800, p. 745
DOI: 10.1126/science.314.5800.745



News of the Week

ECOLOGY:
Global Loss of Biodiversity Harming Ocean Bounty

Erik Stokstad

Environmental groups often argue that biodiversity offers tangible benefits to people. Now, a group of ecologists has put that argument to the test with the most comprehensive look yet at the human impact of declining marine biodiversity. On page 787, they report that the loss of ocean populations and species has been accompanied by plummeting catches of wild fish, declines in water quality, and other costly losses. They even project that all commercial fish and seafood species will collapse by 2048. "It's a gloomy picture," says lead author Boris Worm of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. Yet the team provides a glimmer of hope, concluding that people still have time to recoup these ecosystem benefits if they restore biodiversity.

Although none of these points is new, some experts say the study strengthens the case for the practical value of biodiversity by marshaling multiple lines of evidence and taking a global look. "This is a landmark paper," says Jane Lubchenco of Oregon State University in Corvallis. Others aren't convinced yet. "It falls short of demonstrating that biodiversity losses are the primary drivers of why the services have declined," says Donald Boesch of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science in Cambridge.

Junk science, eh, Jason?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Ted Koppel (and John Stewart) on Iran

Jim Webb, new champion of the middle and lower class? (Sounds good to me).


Senator-elect from VA, Jim Webb, had an amazing op-ed piece in the ... ready? ... Wall Street Journal highlighting the ever-widening income inequality in the USA. An excerpt:

"The most important--and unfortunately the least debated--issue in politics today is our society's steady drift toward a class-based system, the likes of which we have not seen since the 19th century. America's top tier has grown infinitely richer and more removed over the past 25 years. It is not unfair to say that they are literally living in a different country. Few among them send their children to public schools; fewer still send their loved ones to fight our wars. They own most of our stocks, making the stock market an unreliable indicator of the economic health of working people. The top 1% now takes in an astounding 16% of national income, up from 8% in 1980. The tax codes protect them, just as they protect corporate America, through a vast system of loopholes."


This could be the start of something good.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Challenger defeats Pombo in a stunner

This one is REALLY sweet...

(11-08) 10:19 PST -- Democratic challenger Jerry McNerney, a relative newcomer to politics, unseated seven-term GOP Congressman Richard Pombo of Tracy Tuesday in a stunning demonstration of voter disenchantment with the Republican Party nationally.

McNerney, a wind energy consultant from Pleasanton, took Northern California's 11th Congressional District with 53 percent of the vote. Pombo, who held a leadership position in the Republican-held House, received 47 percent. More than 9,000 votes divided the two candidates this morning.
-- Rachel Gordon, Chronicle Staff Writer

Previous Muttering Jam posts on Pombo:
First
Second
Third
Fourth

Congrats, Jerry!


Push, shove or orchestration?


There are other ways to view what took place on November 7, 2006:

"The Democrats didn’t win anything; that’s all hogwash. Bush was buried beneath an avalanche of bad news which was timed to begin with the release of Bob Woodward’s book “State of Denial”, followed by the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), Lancet’s Iraqi casualty report, the Mark Foley page fiasco, and a barrage of ethics-scandals, corruption investigations, and intensified coverage of the war. It was a carefully-coordinated coup intended to install “adults” (like Robert Gates) in positions of power, change the policy in Iraq, and remove Rumsfeld and Cheney from office. " -- Mike Whitney, Information Clearing House. Read it all here.

Whitney, like Chris Floyd, take a deeper, somber, and ultimately cynical view of the process in the 21st century USA. I have to admit, I sometimes visit there, too. But a part of me still believes that it is not all about the "old order" (Jim Baker, Bush I) and "new order" Republicans (Cheney and Co.), warring behind the scenes. And if it is true, then it has always been true, and America, since perhaps the beginning, has been Mr. Jefferson's worst nightmare.

No, I'm not ready to live there yet. And it is a nasty place to visit.

"The American power structure -- across its (extremely narrow) ideological spectrum -- will never acknowledge the true extent of the criminality, inhumanity and moral evil that the war of aggression in Iraq represents. How can they, when Bush's policies are only slightly more radical, slightly more brazen versions of the bloodsoaked arrogance, aggression and impositions of the glorious bipartisan past?"
-- Chris Floyd, Empire Burlesque. Read the whole thing here.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Thursday, November 09, 2006

What the hell is wrong with South Florida?


Miami-Dade County voter turnout: 37%


Broward County voter turnout: 44%

Are you people brain dead or what?!?!?!?!?

... or did you just lock your keys inside the Hummer on Election Day?



Checks and balances

Why is this man smiling?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The ass that kicked

As I told Jim DeFede this morning, "I'm 80% jubilant..." What can ANYONE say, but "yes, Virginia, sometimes the system does work." We're a two party nation, and all cynicism to the contrary, there is a difference between the two. Vive la differénce! The overwhelming message square in the eye of a failed and sorrowfully bankrupt administration is no more subtle than the heavy-handed mismanagement of our tax dollars, a foolish military adventure, the full-frontal attacks on free speech, fair trade, living wages, and waging life that the Bushites have pursued with grim determination. In the late Jack Kirby's lexicon, The Bush administration personified the "anti-life equation." And America finally just said "no." Or, rather, NO!

Sadly, Tammy Duckworth, who lost both legs in Iraq, didn't succeed in beating the Republican jerk who actually used the "cut and run" line in a debate with her. And alas, Clint Curtis failed to topple Tom Feeney in the 24th Congressional district of Florida, a race in which I had established a small personal stake. Honestly, to expect the Space Coast of Florida to break out of its collective delusions that most of its residents belonged to the privileged 1% that reap the benefits of Dumbya's tax cuts was probably too much to hope for. And I doubt any of Clint's TV spots ran on Fox.

Yet I never expected Ron Klein to pull of his defeat of incumbent E. Clay Shaw, particularly as Shaw's district had been so heavily gerrymandered to favor Republican voters. Bush's strange micture of anti-democracy and theocracy apparently had finally gone too far for a large swathe of non-lobotomized GOP members.

I worked the polls in my precinct as an inspector, also a mole for "Pollworkers for Democracy."

On the whole, things went smoothly my precinct, which I was told is the county's largest. We had a total of 16 ES&E "iVotronics" machines (one for disabled access). One unit had sensitivity issues from the beginning, then started giving wrong choices, which recalibration didn't help. It was taken out of service before noon. Vote tally was recovered.


Biggest incident: a machine froze around 6 PM. Our Voting System tech reported that the flash memory had been removed, presumably by a voter! We all freaked out, but a tech from the elections board was able to access the vote tally on the redundant internal memory and also replace the flash card.

I noticed "machine fatigue" on some units, several of which had to be put out of service in the last hours of the polls being opened.

At end of a very long day, machine tally and signature count was only off by two. Our clerk seemed to think that that was sufficient cause for jubilation. I wish it had been that way everywhere ...

In FL, Electronic Voting Shortfall Raises Eyebrows
by Paul Kiel - November 8, 2006, 11:03 AM

A recount battle is brewing, fittingly, in Katherine Harris' old seat, where a voting shortfall on buggy electronic voting machines is calling the election results into doubt.

Republican Vern Buchanan was clinging to a 368-vote edge over Democrat Christine Jennings for the 13th Congressional District early this morning.

Although Buchanan declared victory just before 1 a.m., the razor-thin margin kept Jennings from conceding defeat and will generate an automatic recount....

The results were loaded with controversy as nearly 13 percent of all ballots cast in Sarasota didn't include a choice for Congress. That difference, and scattered reports of difficulty finding the race on Sarasota?s touchscreen ballots, raised concerns about under votes in the race.

Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent couldn?t explain why 8,000 to 10,000 fewer people voted in the congressional race than in other high-profile races for governor, attorney general or U.S. Senate. But she said nothing mechanical went wrong with the county?s $4.7 million touchscreen voting machine system....

Throughout the day voters complained that touchscreen voting machines were not registering votes for Jennings properly. Jennings campaign held a midday press conference to warn the problem was widespread.
_______________________________

Pennsylvania Tops List of Complaints So Far Coming in to Election Incident Hotline as of Noon ET
Right-Wing Talk Show Host Encourages Listeners to Jam Voter Complaint Hotline…

Diebold Voting Machines Failing to Start Up in Utah, Voters Being Turned Away…
Smartcard Encoders Reportedly Not Working…Paper Ballots Not Available Everywhere…

Myriad Problems Reported to Local News Outlet in Chicago…
From machines not working or being available when the polls opened, to votes flipping on touch-screens and more…

Missouri Election Integrity Org Says More Reports of Touch-Screen Vote Flipping…

USA Today Reports 'Voting machine problems bedevil multiple states'
Trouble With Machines in Indiana, Florida, Ohio, Illinois

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Who better?

As Dubya, lameduck though he may be, continues on the pathway to global crisis. When our grand-children are starving in a garbage-heap world, will there finally be a reckoning for men like this?

Bush Names Exxon Chief to Chart America's Energy Future

Even for an administration dedicated to putting industry lobbyists in charge of the very agencies they have devoted their careers to undermining (coal and oil lobbyist J. Stephen Griles as Deputy Secretary of the Interior is one of dozens of examples), President Bush has recently outdone himself. He has named Lee Raymond, the retired chief of ExxonMobil, to head a key study to help America chart a cleaner course for our energy needs.

Raymond currently chairs the National Petroleum Council (NPC), one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington.
Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman says the study
will address the supply and demand of oil as well as "…assess the potential contribution of conservation, efficiency, alternative energy sources, and technology advances" and determine "the potential long term impact of alternative energies that are plentiful, affordable, reliable and transportable." Energy Department Under Secretary David Garman, added that the NPC is "well qualified to provide a balanced and informed perspective on strategies and action affecting the energy future for both the U.S. and for every country on earth."

Environmentalists are outraged about the appointment of Lee Raymond. During his long tenure at ExxonMobil, the company spent $19 million on front groups designed to discredit the science on global warming. It also resisted funding clean energy alternatives and lobbied aggressively to drill in the Arctic Refuge.
In a Wall Street Journal article on June 14, 2005, Mr. Raymond said, "it's yet to be shown how much of this [global warming] is really related to the activities of man."

ExxonMobil is considered a rogue company even among its peers. It vocally opposes U.S. energy independence and presses for deeper reliance on oil producing nations such as Saudi Arabia, where the company has sunk heavy investments. Critics argue that Mr. Raymond's legacy is to deny that oil dependence is a problem. ExxonMobil is the only major oil giant calling renewable energy an "uneconomical" investment.

Known for abruptly shutting off the microphone at shareholders meetings when opposition is voiced, Mr. Raymond has the reputation of an impatient, authoritarian leader who shows no qualms about publicly belittling those who disagree with him.
The Exxpose Exxon coalition, a collaborative effort of many of the nation's largest environmental and public advocacy organizations representing millions of Americans, called on Secretary Bodman "to remove the Global Oil and Gas Study from the purview of Raymond and the NPC."

"This issue is too vital to be handed over to a company and an industry that have demonstrated again and again that they will maximize profits at the expense of our national security, the environment, and U.S. consumers," they argued. The coalition recommended the study be given to an independent body such as the National Academy of Sciences. "Putting Lee Raymond in charge of solving U.S. energy problems is like putting Jack Abramoff in charge of solving corruption," said Shawnee Hoover, campaign director for the Exxpose Exxon Coalition.

Take Action - Tell Secretary Bodman Not to Let Exxon Chart America's Energy Future.

Election protection

I'l be a "Pollworker for Democracy" at my precinct all day Nov. 7, but afterhours I'll be listening to these guys:

SPECIAL ELECTION INTEGRITY MARATHON BROADCAST ELECTION NIGHT!

CO-ANCHORED BY RADIO HOSTS PETER B. COLLINS AND ELECTION INTEGRITY ADVOCATE/JOURNALIST BRAD FRIEDMAN

LIVE Team Broadcast to be Carried over Multiple Radio Networks, Stations, Internet Outlets -- All Invited to Carry Program Free All Night Long!

Coverage will focus both on continuing, growing election problems around the country, as well as the "horse race."

Beginning Tuesday, Nov. 7nd at 3pm PT (6pm ET) and continuing
until 1am PT or as long as events on the ground warrant

Peter B. Collins (host of the daily syndicated Peter B. Collins radio show) and Brad Friedman (radio personality, investigative journalist at BradBlog.com, election integrity advocate and co-founder of VelvetRevolution.us) are announcing plans for a coast-to-coast Election Night Marathon Broadcast to be carried LIVE over multiple air affiliates via the Jones satellite feed and multiple streaming internet outlets. The landmark broadcast is as a joint effort of Collins, Friedman and VelvetRevolution.us' Election Protection Strike Force effort in coordination with a number of national organizations and sponsors to be announced soon.

Read more.