Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Yin and the Yang of Barack Obama

The president is just like George Bush:

The “revelations” from the report poured out to a stunned nation.  There were the CIA’s own figures on the hundreds of children in the backlands of Pakistan and Yemen killed by drone strikes against “terrorists” and “militants.”  There were the “double-tap strikes” in which drones returned after initial attacks to go after rescuers of those buried in rubble or to take out the funerals of those previously slain.  There were the CIA’s own statistics on the stunning numbers of unknown villagers killed for every significant and known figure targeted and finally taken out (1,147 dead in Pakistan for 41 men specifically targeted).  There were the unexpected internal Agency discussions of the imprecision of the robotic weapons always publicly hailed as “surgically precise” (and also of the weakness of much of the intelligence that led them to their targets).  There was the joking and commonplace use of dehumanizing language (“bug splat” for those killed) by the teams directing the drones.  There were the “signature strikes,” or the targeting of groups of young men of military age about whom nothing specifically was known, and of course there was the raging argument that ensued in the media over the “effectiveness” of it all (including various emails from CIA officials admitting that drone campaigns in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen had proven to be mechanisms not so much for destroying terrorists as for creating new ones).

That should finish off the last of the holiday spirit! It's from a report to be published in December 2019 according to the prophet Tom Engelhardt. I feel a ton of guilt just from stupid shit I did as a kid. How people who cause death and destruction to others on the level done by these fucks live with themselves, I'd love to know.

On this level, Obama equals Cheney. Read the rest. It doesn't get better.

Then there's the FDR, Lincoln, LBJ (the non-genocide in Vietnam LBJ); Obama:

However there are a few things that transpired this year that warm the very depths of my cold black heart. I’ve said before that before I shuffle off into oblivion/The Big Empty/infinity-XXL/Bloomington, Indiana, there were a few injustices that I would like to see corrected.

The right of gay-Americans to get same-sex hitched, marijuana to be legalized, and fer-Christ-sakes, accept that the embargo with Cuba was a stupid idea and lets get over ourselves and open up relations and travel with the warm and beckoning tropical nation.

For all intents and purposes, all three happened this year.

As a fellow late-middle-aged, middle-class white male living in America, I join Tbogg in celebrating these 3 bitchin' things America got for Christmas this year.

And some more good stuff from this year from The Nation; including Democrats that are not the same as Republicans. These would be Liz Warren, Zephyr Teachout, Pat Leahy, Barbara Lee, Maura Healey and many more.

There is hope. Yet.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Build Back Better

Haven't given a lot of thought to Indonesia since the tsunami there a decade ago. Recently started getting the Christian Science Monitor as a news source on the Kindle. Gotta say, "I love CSM!" They have fairness and balance any other media can only dream of. I'm very happy to see that the people of Indonesia seem to have built a society that's better in many ways than what they had before the storm.

Yet to visit Banda Aceh today is to visit a city that has not just been patched together but largely fulfilled the post-tsunami mantra of aid officials: “Build Back Better.” In an age when massive outpourings of aid often get diverted or diluted before reaching the needy, fueling donor fatigue, much of the tsunami relief money has trickled down to survivors of the disaster – and made a difference. This is evident in the 130,000 new houses, 1,700 schools, and nearly 1,000 government buildings built in the aftermath. Aceh has new airports, seaports, sewers, and potable water systems; it has 2,300 miles of new roads and a rebuilt power grid.

“In terms of physical infrastructure, we are better off now,” says Saiful Mahdi, director of the International Center for Aceh and Indian Ocean Studies in Banda Aceh.

And beyond the rebuilding physically is political rebuilding as well.

The rebuilding has also been about more than simply restoring the physical past. Before 2004, decades of fighting between separatist rebels and security forces had killed at least 10,000, mostly civilians, and mired a resource-rich province in poverty. For that reason, it quickly became clear that absent a credible peace process, rebuilding Aceh would result in the squandering of vast sums of money. Eight months later, the rebels and Indonesia’s government signed a historic power-sharing agreement in Helsinki, Finland. And that deal has held, bringing peace to Aceh, a new crop of leaders, and an end to its political isolation. This d├ętente set the stage for a post-tsunami revitalization, a new chapter to be written.

Yes, I have a happy holiday post to put up. There is good news in the world.  

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Christmas Spirit Is Alive And Well

My personal feeling is that 20 or 30 years from now, folks are going to look back on the whole EIT torture shame we are witnessing and will feel about it the same way rational people now feel about Japanese internment, McCarthyism and the lynching of Blacks back in the day. Right now, I hear tell, half the good folks of this here United States are reported to be right there with Dick Cheney in saying it was justified. So, for you future readers of Hometown USA, I present some letters to the Post Star. That was a newspaper. You likely won't have them. I'm going to leave the names off the letters, but provide links.

Isn’t it amazing, time after time we are fed these ridiculous stories, news articles from around the world, while the empty suit occupying our White House lies to us, insults and stabs our allies in the back, demoralizes our military, encourages racial strife, and all but destroys the middle class? Then comes this half-made-up story throwing our CIA under the bus, and bam, front page! Let’s embarrass the Republicans. Surprise all our senators, yes even liberal Democrats went along with these proposals years ago. But now that the voters have embarrassed these snakes, let’s take a last shot at tearing down this country.

We pay our police to keep the riff-raff from our door, then tie their hands. We pay our military to fight these murdering cowards, but our know-nothing liberals must guide them. I lost many good friends on 9/11. I still see the falling bodies. I still see three burning bodies hanging from the bridges. I can still feel the pain of the loved ones who saw the bodiless heads of husbands and children. Do I feel anything for these godless cowards? I only hope the next administration has more guts than this one. Hopefully America will again be respected and feared. We are fighting for our lives.

God bless you, John J. Byrnes III. Thank you for your service. Thank you, America’s police officers, America’s soldiers and the CIA.

Number Two:

I think Mr. Tingley should be ashamed of himself for his commentary concerning the Senate report of torture. First of all, this investigation was done solely by Senate Democrats without any input of many key players involved, most notably members of the CIA. It was obvious from the start that this was a totally biased political ploy concocted solely to distract from the many failures of this administration and he bit on it hook, line and sinker. These “enhanced interrogation” techniques are not torture. If you want to know what torture is, ask some of the POWs of World War II, Korea or Vietnam.

I’m surprised of the views of Sen. John McCain considering what he went through. He mentioned Mai Lai and Abu Ghraib. Sure, there will always be a few atrocities in war, but why not concentrate on the atrocities perpetuated on totally innocent people by the most inhumane barbaric savages of our time?

For anyone to have sympathy for any of this ilk being banged against a wall, have water poured on them or being “inconvenienced” in some way is totally beyond belief.

Yeah, what the hell? They pour Gatorade on coaches all the time. The third contestant for humanitarian of the year:

According to the Dec. 17 Post Star, 141 people, mostly children, were massacred in Peshawar, Pakistan, by the Taliban.

On Page A2 is an article about the killing of at least 25 in car bombings, including a school bus, on which at least 15 primary school students were killed in Sanaa, Yemen, which is blamed on al-Qaida.

Now tell me again why, if some of these terrorists were captured, enhanced interrogation would not be justified to help find the rest of the cowards who perpetrated this outrage.

Yes, won't you think of the children? Of course, if they had grown up she'd have had no problem with their being tortured because they were wrongly "fingered" by someone else being tortured who gave out their names. That's the way the witch trials in Europe and America went, I do believe.

And here is a Christmas gift for Matt Funiciello. This is one of those cases where I cannot argue against the fact that on some levels the Obama WH is absolutely as evil as the Bush/Cheney WH. 

Four years ago today, frustrated Tunisian vegetable seller Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire and started a wave of uprisings in the Arab world that continue to reverberate to this day – though not in the way that many expected.

Sadly, the promise of what some call the Arab Spring has not come to pass anywhere yet, except perhaps in Tunisia, the small country where it all began.

Since then, a democracy protest movement has been crushed, with Saudi Arabian help, in Bahrain, the kingdom that hosts the US Fifth Fleet; Syrian protests for change have deteriorated into the world's bloodiest current civil war, with 200,000 dead, millions displaced from their homes, and the US fighting jihadis who became dominant in the uprising, not the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad.

Yeah, the evil part:

Yet while President Barack Obama spoke of democracy and a change in the way the US does business in the Middle East in those heady days, today his administration and the US Congress, Republican and Democrat, are getting back to business as usual, with security and strategic concerns trumping the lip-service paid to democracy and open societies.

Earlier this month Congress approved a spending bill that calls for $1.3 billion in US cash and weapons for Egypt's military to be conditioned on tangible progress towards democracy. But lawmakers also allowed Mr. Obama to waive this requirement if he thinks security or other interests are more important. Yesterday, State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the administration was delighted with this "flexibility."

OTOH, Obama did take actions in regard to Cuba that neither McCain nor Romney would have done in a million years. And voting for Jill Stein isn't going to make it so.

Oh, and here's Digby on GOP hypocrisy regarding Cuba. 

To think that just last week the man who is preaching today about America’s commitment to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness was exhorting us all to thank the people who used torture techniques like “rectal feeding” on prisoners in American custody.


(A)s Dick Cheney put it a few years back:
“They’re living in the tropics. They’re well fed. They’ve got everything they could possibly want.”
Fidel Castro couldn’t have said it better himself.


(W)hen you endorse torture, the least you can do is have enough shame not to sanctimoniously lecture others about morality and high ideals of civilized behavior.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Saying Something Nice About Governor Andrew

And proving once again that Dems don't equal Reps.

In a long-awaited decision, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the state will not move forward with high volume hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, because of the threat it poses to air, water and public health.

Thank you, Governor. And thanks for this, as well.

Might as well give a shout out to the president, too. Even if it wasn't the right thing to do (and about time), it's worth it just to piss off the Right.

President Barack Obama declared the end of America’s “outdated approach” to Cuba Wednesday, announcing the re-establishment of diplomatic relations as well as economic and travel ties with the communist island – a historic shift in U.S. policy that aims to bring an end to a half-century of Cold War enmity.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Matt's Epistle To Pissed Off Dems

I'm beginning to realize how much I'm going to miss out with Matt Funiciello not going to Congress in January. He's at least providing some entertainment as we count down to the winter solstice here in the not-so-frozen North. I hold out hope that once Elise Stefanik takes office, he will provide the promised critiques of her. In the meantime, he's, not surprisingly, finding some Dems who are not enamored of him. After saying reaction to him and his campaign have, in general, been positive:

(T)here has been some negative reaction (in general from hereditary Democratic Party voters) including people like Warren County Democratic Chair Lynne Boecher (whose remarks in The Chronicle about my run For congress were hardly favorable).

Once again, kudos to Lynne Boecher. 

I have also been called a "spoiler" and a "vanity candidate" by some people who would have gladly called themselves friends in the past. My Cafe Manager was told by a loyal customer that he will no longer be coming to our cafe because I am such a terrible human being that I dared to run for office.

OK, kudos to that guy, too. I bake my own bread anyway and have other cafes that I already go to. And as far as I know no one is organizing a boycott. Nor should they. I understand the sentiment of the customer. The reason given there sounds a little "strawmanish." I have to wonder if that was the actual reason or maybe his come closer to mine. It could have been the whole Dems and Reps are the same thing. That makes me either evil or naive for supporting Dems. Maybe the guy saw the "concession." That irritated me a little, too.

I was informed that DFA (Democracy for America) would no longer hold their monthly meetings at my cafe which they have been doing for well over a decade. 

That's right. Good on them, too. He spends more time during and after the campaign attacking the Dem Party and then is surprised when actual Democrats are upset with him? He expects a laurel and hearty handshake? I feel bad for his workers, though. If he wants to hurt his business, that's one thing.

So, this response is primarily for those among you who are angry at me for running or for trying to inject some grassroots democracy into the pathetic, manipulated process we have allowed our political system to become by surrendering our will to the two corporate war parties and their corporate sponsors.

That's just purely a straw man argument. That's so not the reason people are pissed.

Well, at least Aaron's money wasn't from Paul Ryan and Crossroads and the Koch's.

Um, damned with faint praise.

True. But it was his wife's money and it was made by investing in some pretty damaging and unconscious companies (Monsanto, McDonald's, tobacco and oil companies and several hedge funds to name but a few.)

I've done some web searches to find where AW's wife was invested. Can't find it. I do wish I could. Anyway. This seems to be a "degrees of separation" proof that Dems and Reps are equally evil. They're not. Reps are evil. Dems are inept. Woolf was running on the fruit of a poison tree because his wife was invested in Monsanto. Was it an individual stock or part of a mutual fund?

I'd love to hear from MF how you live a life without supporting corporations in some way, without moving to Walden Pond.

I'm going to paraphrase the fors and agins:

For peace, public banks and utilities, single payer health care. Against mono-crop farming. For healthy food and small family farms. Against torture and domestic spying. For clean renewable energy. Against fracking. For public transport, ballot access reform, term limits and public funding of elections. For a living wage.

There's probably nothing there that I disagree with. Do want to point out that I've ridden the bus, a lot. I spent over 4 years without a vehicle and have ridden it off and on for 8 to 10 years. I've never seen Matt on the bus. He drives a Ford pickup that I'm assuming is filled with gas that comes via a corporation. And totally beside the point, Henry Ford was a pretty big admirer of Adolph Hitler. So, I could see where some folks, particularly of the Jewish faith, would object to driving a Ford. I just don't like Fords. But, my Chevy comes from a corporation, too.

A majority of Democratic VOTERS (and many others) may share some or all of these values but the Democratic PARTY, itself, and its corporate sponsors... clearly do not.

I believe the chances of reforming the Democratic Party, while they may be slim, are much better than the chances of ever building a viable Green Party.  

Monday, December 15, 2014

Photos From Paradise

No rhyme or reason or particular order:

Still harvesting the garden:

Um, Brussels sprouts. OK, you roast them with cut up apples and sliced onions at 400 for 40 minutes. Add some veg stock with dijon mustard, cumin and corn starch and let it go another 10 minutes. you will love them. 

The once canal barn and soon to be farmer's market:

Good on you guys for working outside this time o' year. Probably better than July and August, though. This is the canal:

And this is a barge from a few months ago:

More Bookmarks

From Ellensburg (bless their hearts) a great site on community renewable energy.

A little closer to home is Plymouth NH and their renewable efforts.

A very good site from Colorado on solar gardens.

What can NY do for me? We'll see.

Bank of North Dakota

The Bank of North Dakota was established by legislative action in 1919 to promote agriculture, commerce and industry in North Dakota. Though initially conceived by populists in the Non-Partisan League, or NPL, as a credit union-style institution to free the farmers of the state from predatory lenders...

The Bank of North Dakota is the only state-owned facility of its type in the United States other than the Puerto Rico Government Development Bank. According to the Federal Reserve Bank, seven indian tribes currently wholly own or substantially control a bank.

And on a different subject: Co-ops

Bakerman Dan with a very nice site and some great links. Thank you Dan and good luck with your efforts.

Another very nice post from Mira with some good links, as well. Thank you, Mira.

Washington County Development link

Institute for Local Self-Reliance

Friday, December 12, 2014


Just bookmarking this:

As for whether the torture “worked,” Cheney has long maintained that information extracted from tortured detainees helped prevent attacks and save lives. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report says otherwise, and it has a lot of company. “Reports from the Department of JusticeSenate Armed Services Committee, and the C.I.A.’s Inspector General … completely discredit the Bush administration’s long-standing claims that torture prevented attacks against America and helped capture high value terrorist targets,” notes Igor Volsky at ThinkProgress.

The reason Cheney keeps making this argument is that it’s the only card he can play to claim any sort of moral justification for abandoning long-standing international norms on torture and the treatment of detainees. “We did what we had to do” is a better argument than “we did it because we could.” It also helps fend off darker questions about whether the Bush administration embarked on a program of “enhanced interrogation” to manufacture the sort of intelligence it needed to bolster its broader foreign policy agenda.

Need that on hand when I hear someone say that sadism is a viable tactic in the War On Terror.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Republicans: What Have You Done For Us Lately, Uh, Ever

Well, I learned something today. You can't do a strike in the post title. Democrat. Republican. Tomaytoe, tomahtoe.

Now, name one program since Eisenhower, initiated by conservatives in Congress, that the nation looks back on and breathes a collective sigh, on the order of: “Whew, we dodged a bullet when we reversed that progressive misstep.” The left reflects proudly on the strongest part of its history: Where would we be without Social Security and Medicare? It was the Truman administration that integrated the armed forces, and it was Lyndon Johnson who openly embraced the civil rights movement and helped advance the cause of social justice. Conservatives were wary of these initiatives at the time they were publicly debated. Do gays make good parents? Would gay marriage do irreparable harm to the American family tradition? Would the Affordable Care Act create death panels? It takes less and less time these days for conservatives to be proven wrong, to have panicked.

Some would almost say there's a difference between Democrats and Republicans. 

Ideology is corrupting. On the major issues of the day we need citizen education to encourage the kind of independence of thought that fortifies common sense, that balances the just fears of conservatives against programs that (a) insure social progress in the United States and (b) preserve the natural world that sustains the ever-increasing billions on the planet. And we need historical perspective, too. Badly. Because conservatives are generally wrong when they claim, “the past was better when….”

Here’s where the conservatives are right: when they hold up the “great books” of times gone by that need to be a part of a citizen’s education, worried lest today’s faddism replace proven standards of social value.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Democrats = Republicans?---- Post #1

I'm going to number this as the first post, just in case I find other instances where there might be a, shall we say, glaring difference between the two parties.

Prominently featured on Representative Steve King's congressional website are what he calls "illegal immigration stories" that tell of undocumented people, mainly Hispanics, wreaking havoc in America: killing, robbing, kidnapping, trafficking in sex and drugs.

Shit! I thought it was marijuana that caused that. Oops, didn't read far enough for the representative (and God what a district that must be) to clear things up for me.

He also talked of illegal immigrant children with "calves the size of cantaloupes," because he said they were hauling marijuana under their pants as they crossed into the United States. That led Boehner to lash out at King, calling his comments offensive and not reflecting the values of the Republican Party. 

And good for you, John Boehner, though Republican: King still is.

And there's this:

Following their convincing victory in the 2014 elections, everyone is wondering what Republicans will do with their new majority in the Senate and House. Well, their policy agenda is becoming clear. It will be unrestrained class warfare against the poor.

This priority was made apparent over the last week during the negotiation of a colossal tax cut package. Senate Democrats and Republicans had been doing some low-key negotiations to renew a slew of tax cuts for corporations and lower- and middle-income Americans, according to reporting from Brian Faler and Rachel Bade at Politico.

Then President Obama announced his executive action on immigration. Enraged Republicans promptly took vengeance on all the goodies for the working poor (as well as for clean energy), cutting them out of the deal and proposing a raft of permanent tax cuts for corporations alone worth $440 billion over 10 years. Cowed Democrats, led by Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), were about ready to go along, prompting a decidedly justified outcry from liberals. Obama then threatened a veto, and the negotiations broke down entirely.