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This is the archive for August 2009

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Maturing garden 8-28-2009
The garden is maturing. The hot peppers and green onions in this corner are the best of the year. We try to give you our best too. Do you like the pictures?

I'm not going to put Maine Owl on total hiatus. But I have been considering doing so. Instead, posting will be in occasional mode, perhaps call it a semi-hiatus. I'd love to see others pick things up, like with Gerald's excellent item on the sneaky rejection of the public health plan by Senator Susan Collins.

Otherwise, at this point I really do need to hear from readers if there are any popular demands for coverage or discussion of issues. I have to be able to justify the efforts needed to keep this thing going. Next to zero response to almost everything simply doesn't cut it.

If you're reading this, give us a tickle and let us know you are just dying for more.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

This keeps getting stranger:

Tip: FairPoint faked readiness
(Aug. 25, AP) ... state regulators are reviewing an anonymous e-mail from someone believed by a Maine regulator to be a FairPoint insider who charges that during tests leading up to the Feb. 1 ?cutover,? FairPoint created a computer program ?to deceive the audience into believing they were watching a real demonstration? of its readiness. ...

In his original e-mail, sent Aug. 14 to regulators, the writer, who called himself ?David Unavailable,? wrote:

?As January neared and it appeared to everyone on site in Atlanta that there would be another delay, suddenly Peter Nixon [FairPoint?s president] and Gene Johnson [its then-CEO] made the announcement that the cut to the new systems would take place at the end of January and the relationship with Verizon would end. Most people were stunned as it did not appear feasible.? ...

In his later note to the AP, the writer said FairPoint had a strong incentive to complete the cutover: It was paying monthly fees to Verizon for continuing to use its system after the sale between the two companies closed. This was confirmed by a report filed by Liberty with state regulators.

The writer told regulators that ?when Liberty [a consulting firm] was watching what they thought was ?flow thru? within a system and from one system to another, they were really only seeing a small program that was created to assimilate what they wanted the systems to do. They were not actually in the systems at the time nor were they in the test systems. They were in a newly created small program that used screen shots from the real system to deceive the audience into believing that they were watching a real demonstration.?
Incredible if true. And it's certainly plausible, given the horrors that followed. What was it FairPoint officials have said over the last few weeks, "I believe in transparency" and that its service issues were "unprecedented and unforeseen." Sheeeesh.

Monday, August 24, 2009


A calmer day at Thunder Hole

We were down there just three weeks ago when I shot the above video. I'll never quite think of the place the same after yesterday's tragedy:



Update: Here is a particularly good illustration from a YouTube poster:



This warning was up as early as Friday:
OF PARTICULAR CONCERN ALONG THE MAINE COAST ARE THE LARGE WAVES FROM HURRICANE BILL THAT WILL PRODUCE VERY HIGH SURF CONDITIONS. THE HIGH SURF WILL LIKELY RESULT IN BEACH EROSION...AND DANGEROUS WAVE BREAKING ACTION ALONG ROCKY COASTLINES IN SOME LOCATIONS.

THOSE ONSHORE SHOULD USE CAUTION WHEN NEAR THE WATER. LARGE BREAKING WAVE CONDITIONS MAY COME IN UNPREDICTABLE PERIODS AND TAKE PEOPLE NEAR THE WATERS EDGE BY SUPRISE IF THEY VENTURE TOO CLOSE TO THE WATERS EDGE. TIDAL CYCLES CAN ALSO AFFECT WATER LEVELS IN VERY SHORT PERIODS. MARINE RECREATION INTERESTS ALSO SHOULD REMAIN VIGILANT IN THESE CONDITIONS. DO NOT APPROACH THE SHORELINE OR SHOALING AREAS IF LARGE WAVES ARE BREAKING.
Nope, this one's not on the Weather Service.

Update: Witnesses recount MDI wave tragedy

Sunday, August 23, 2009

This blog and it's predecessor always have been very skeptical of terror alerts. So we've really appreciated Keith Olbermann's recent piece following their history and associations with politics--deftly assembled in response to the provocative comments evidently to be in the forthcoming Tom Ridge book. This really is a terrific 16-1/2 minute segment:


The Nexus of Terror and Politics -- 2009 Edition

Related media, clip from "Hijacking Catastrophe" (2004):



Judge the veracity of Ridge at the time for yourself. PBS News Hour, on 2/7/03, a Friday in early February and just two days after Colin Powell mocked up anthrax at the U.N.:
JOHN ASHCROFT: Recent reporting indicates an increased likelihood that al-Qaida may attempt to attack Americans in the United States and/or abroad, in or around the end of the Hajj, a Muslim religious period ending mid- February 2003. Recent intelligence reports suggest that al-Qaida leaders have emphasized planning for attacks on apartment buildings, hotels and other soft or lightly secured targets in the United States.

TOM RIDGE: As a result of the increase in the threat level, as a result of going from yellow to orange, "elevated" to "high," specific protective measures will be taken by all federal agencies both to reduce vulnerabilities and many of them actually will, we believe, serve as a deterrent. Increased security personnel at points of entry may in fact limit points of entry and exit; enhanced identification checks, restrictions to travel around federal facilities and airports, among the many augmented security measures that will be implemented.

Now, as the attorney general mentioned, for individual Americans, we ask you... we ask you to remain aware and remain alert. One of the thoughts that I would just simply share with you: It's probably not a bad idea to sit down and just arrange some kind of a contact plan, that if an event occurred, you want to make sure you can... the family wants to get in touch with one another.
PBS correspondent Eric Lichtblau then tells Ray Suarez, "No, not really," when asked, "Were the government officials involved in this briefing very specific about what people should be on the lookout for? What kind of attack do they want us to be worried about?"

A couple of days later, American families run for the closet to tape themselves in.

Other related items:
Cross posted at Dirigo BLue

Last week, this diary was posted at The Great Orange Satan, my visit to Susan Collins' office, in which the writer, Angela Quatranno describes her attempt to determine Sen. Collins' position on the need for health insurance/care reform. She posted a document she says was given to her by a staffer - the veracity of this document was confirmed to me by another source. It reads:
I continue to have many reservations about the Obama Administration?s health care policies, the bill reported by the Senate Health Committee, and the legislation approved by the House committees. The Washington-run public insurance plan that would be created by these proposals would have the federal government administer the plan and determine benefits, premiums, and payments to physicians and hospitals. Proponents of a public plan claim that it would challenge private insurers to compete on cost and quality. Opponents see it as unfair competition for private insurers and the first step down the path toward a single-payer system because a public plan most likely would lead to the collapse of the private market.
Collins' statement that "the federal government administer the plan and determine benefits, premiums, and payments to physicians and hospitals," is of interest, since currently Medicare does exactly this same thing (of course, for-profit insurers do the same thing, but they aren't part of our elected government). Also, the Veterans Administration hospital system goes even further than that, actually providing care to veterans and those who qualify. That Maine has one of the highest per capita counts of those aged 65 and older (2nd behind Vermont) as well as retired and active duty servicemen and women ought to weigh heavily in the balance for Maine's junior senator.

Apparently these demographic groups do not:
I oppose the Washington-run public plan proposed by the Administration. The nonpartisan Lewin Group has concluded that a public plan open to all and offering Medicare-level reimbursement rates would result in 119 million Americans losing their private coverage. This kind of mass shift would destabilize the insurance market and is also inconsistent with the concept of building on our current system. It also would run contrary to my commitment to ensuring that families are allowed to keep health care coverage that is working for them.
As was noted in these pages, , the Lewin Group is hardly a non-partisan think tank:
Generally left unsaid amid all the citations is that the Lewin Group is wholly owned by UnitedHealth Group, one of the nation's largest insurers.

More specifically, the Lewin Group is part of Ingenix, a UnitedHealth subsidiary that was accused by the New York attorney general and the American Medical Association, a physician's group, of helping insurers shift medical expenses to consumers by distributing skewed data. Ingenix supplied its parent company and other insurers with data that allegedly understated the "usual and customary" doctor fees that insurers use to determine how much they will reimburse consumers for out-of-network care.
This practice of providing bogus data seems prevalent in the for-profit insurance system, as Wendell Potter explained in his testimony to the Senate Committee on Commerce. Collins' colleague, Olympia Snowe, sits on that committee - perhaps the two of them could get together at some point and have a little chat.

Collins' continues:
I also oppose having a single-payer system for our country. The experience in other countries with single-payer systems demonstrates that it causes many patients to face long delays in needed tests and treatments. For example, some Canadians are forced to come to American hospitals for treatment because they face lengthy delays in Canada.
Here Collins' repeats conservative talking points that have long since been debunked. First, it is important to remind her that our own Medicare system is a single-payer, and was used by Taiwan as a model for their own health care system. Secondly, those 46 million Americans that do not have health insurance face long delays as well, delays that often result in their ailments becoming acute, and requiring invasive - and expensive - care.

And while the Canadian system is not without fault (what system is), it is telling that Collins does what most opponents of single-payer do: not mention that France not only has a single payer system that covers everyone in that country, a system similar to our Medicare, but that it provides the best care in the world for half the cost that Americans pay (percentage of GDP).

There's more:
Nobody knows what "health care co-ops" actually would be. Huffington Post has a good item showing media fumbling on this concept. I don't pretend to know anything either.

But that won't stop me from speculating: "Co-ops" will be regional-flavored marketing offices run by insurance companies for the benefit of insurance companies. Marketing, including garbage imagery of happy customers, will be their purpose.

The twist in the law will be that the taxpayer will inject a pile of cash into these operations, basically helping insurance company bottom lines by having the public pay for their deceptive marketing practices.

Remember, this is just speculation.
Anti-war signs greet Snowe
RUSS/BANGOR DAILY NEWS
Impeccable logic: health not war

Olympia Snowe has made up her mind on health insurance reform. There is not to be a public option. Period.

"It's not in our plan or currently on the table," she said.

Her "unannounced" appearances around the state this past week therefore would seem to have less to do with "gathering input" (as WCSH teevee put it) than just seeing if any of the rubes are upset that Snowe has been batting on the insurance company team since day one.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

This is very significant:

Pemex Output Fell 7.8% in July as Cantarell Plunged
Aug. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Petroleos Mexicanos, the state-owned oil company, said oil output in July fell 7.8 percent to 2.561 million barrels a day as production from its Cantarell field kept sinking.

A year earlier, daily production was 2.778 million barrels, Mexico City-based Pemex, as the company is known, said today on its Web site. ...
As I've mentioned before, with all the stories about drug wars and immigration associated with Mexico, you almost never hear the most important economic story--oil collapse.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Whaaaaat? Something useful from Glenn Beck?
I don't like Rahm Emanuel either

Yesterday I was listening to No Agenda Netcast with John C. Dvorak and Adam Curry (#123). I've always been usefully entertained by Dvorak's tech columns and his skeptical view of just about everything. Adam Curry is the father of podcasting.

They spent a little time admiring a Glenn Beck segment with Democrat swift-boating apostate Pat Caddell called "A Look at Chicago-Style Politics".

Normally I would dismiss something like this as wingnuttia just stroking itself again, but this certainly is interesting:
BECK: America, does the name Whitacre, the guy who helped Rahm Emanuel make $16 million, does the name Whitacre ring a bell? Pat?

CADDELL: Because, when they appointed the new chairman of G.M., who announced the day of his appointment, I know nothing about the car business, his name was Edward Whitacre.
They have a whole web of intrigue that goes along with this, including Emanuel's work with Wasserstein Perella, a Wall Street "deal company", where the $16 million came from a deal involving phone company SBC.

Say what you will about wingnuttia and its bright lights that shine only in one direction. But how these Obama-administration characters with a history of self-enrichment are handling the public interest certainly deserve more scrutiny from credible media. It's sad that these things are left for Glenn Beck.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Robert Greenwald film to be shown at the PEACE & JUSTICE CENTER OF EASTERN MAINE 123 Park St. in Bangor, 7:00 p.m., SUNDAY SEPT. 20

Take a look at the people and environment of the country of Afghanistan. Does it resemble the threat President Obama outlined this week at the VFW Convention in Phoenix?
President Obama: As I said when I announced this strategy, there will be more difficult days ahead. The insurgency in Afghanistan didn't just happen overnight and we won't defeat it overnight. This will not be quick, nor easy. But we must never forget: This is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which al Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans. So this is not only a war worth fighting. This is a -- this is fundamental to the defense of our people.
Even a recent report in the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relation suggests strategies being employed in Afghanistan that would seem wildly to diverge from any purpose of rolling up purveyors of terror aimed at the U.S. It looks like he U.S. has taken a decision to fight using the dirtiest of tactics, according to a New York Times story last week on this report.
"We have a list of 367 'kill or capture' targets, including 50 nexus targets who link drugs and the insurgency," one of the generals told the committee staff. The generals were not identified in the Senate report, which was obtained by The New York Times. ... The Senate report found that American officials did not believe that Afghan drug money was fueling Al Qaeda, which instead relies on contributions from wealthy individuals and charities in Persian Gulf countries, as well as aid organizations working inside Afghanistan.
Evidently, the objective now is to have a drug war. I'd ask the same question suggested by in the Greenwald film: How are these terror tactics -- embrace of extrajudicial execution -- going to do anything but build up hatred of U.S. occupation? Stopping terrorism from Afghanistan has gotta be way down the list for being there, doesn't it?
Thanks to Bruce Gagnon for posting this YouTube from a recent talk by author and filmmaker John Pilger:


Excerpt of speech at the Socialism 2009 Conference (that's the real thing they discussed there!)

Pilger was very Harsh on Obama, deservedly so in my view. Here's quite a quote:
Pilger: During his brief period in the senate, Obama voted to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He voted for the PATRIOT Act. He refused to support a bill for single-payer health care. He supported the death penalty. As a presidential candidate, he received more corporate backing than John McCain. He promised to close Guantanamo as a priority, but instead he's excused torture, reinstated military commissions, kept the Bush gulag intact, and opposed habeas corpus.

Daniel Ellsberg, the great whistle blower, was right, I believe, when he said that under Bush, a military coups had taken place in the United States giving the Pentagon unprecedented powers. These powers have been reinforced by the presence of Robert Gates, a Bush family crony ... and by all the Bush officials who have kept their jobs ...
Change we can believe in? No wonder the towel is so close to being thrown in on the markedly inferior "public option" health plan, hanging now by the delicate thread of House progressives who have shown themselves again and again to be spineless and useless. Of course I'd hope it's not going to be the same old shit this time around ....

I've been following Bruce's incredible trip to Japan and Korea at Organizing Notes.
H/T to Glenn Greenwald for this great item on paid shills, in particular Lanny Davis. This on White House insurance transparency is in the same item:



I'd rather forgotten this, but it fits right in with stuff I've been posting recently: President Obama promised completely open transparency in reforming health insurance by saying the negotiations would be "on C-Span." But how's that worked? Despite a lot of "stakeholder" discussion, the Obama transparency plan has been to hold closed-door meetings with health care executives and lobbyists while putting up a vigorous defense against lawsuits seeking to overturn the Bush White House policy of keeping visitor logs secret.

At his July 22 press conference, President Obama responded to a question about the secret visitor logs:
THE PRESIDENT: Well, on the list of health care executives who've visited us, most of the time you guys have been in there taking pictures, so it hasn't been a secret. And my understanding is we just sent a letter out providing a full list of all the executives. But frankly these have mostly been at least photo sprays where you could see who was participating.

With respect to all the negotiations not being on C-SPAN, you will recall in this very room that our kickoff event was here on C-SPAN, and at a certain point you start getting into all kinds of different meetings -- Senate Finance is having a meeting, the House is having a meeting. If they wanted those to be on C-SPAN then I would welcome it. I don't think there are a lot of secrets going on in there.
Evidently there were some secrets going on in there, given the industry-friendly position shifts that have been revealed in the last couple of weeks, including on the need for a public plan and prohibition on use of government clout to reduce drug prices.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The late Burl Toler was the first African-American to be a ref in the NFL and the first to work a Super Bowl

Mr. Toler died Sunday in California. By all accounts he was a gifted college athlete, a member of the legendary 1951 University of San Francisco football squad. Though undefeated, the school was not invited to any bowl games. The San Francisco Chronicle explains,
The Dons of 1951 were one of the greatest college teams of all time, but they weren't invited to a bowl game. Publicly the reason was USF's soft schedule, but apparently the real reason was that the Southeastern Conference, which controlled the bowls, didn't want any African American players. USF had two, Mr. Toler and [Ollie] Matson.

USF had defeated College of the Pacific 47-14 at Stockton in a game that was supposed to determine which team went to a bowl. Instead, Pacific went to the Sun Bowl, and the Dons (9-0) got nothing.

There was talk at the time that the Dons could have gotten a bowl if they were willing to leave Mr. Toler and Matson behind. To a man, the Dons wouldn't think of it.
For all of our persistent problems, it is encouraging to know that we have--through great organizing, resistance, and struggle, including the refusal of the USF team to be forced to play a bowl game without their black players--been able to heal some of our sicknesses.

Condolences to the family of Mr. Toler.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Seller's market


Chad Terhune, Senior writer at BusinessWeek, is co-author of the article "The Health Insurers Have Already Won"

This report confirms the death of the public plan.
Terhune: ... there's not going to be a public plan. And I could have told you that from my reporting earlier in the summer, just was not going to happen.
In my mind the real money quote in this interview describes exactly how the Democratic legislation will be shaped to enhance private insurance profits through nasty employer/individual mandate coupled with reduced minimum benefits. Here is the money quote,
Terhune: ... they want to whittle that [the minimum benefit] down to where you and I would have to pay more out of pocket, insurance would cover less. They've been very persuasive on that, knocking down that number of what the minimum benefits would be. ... OK, if you say these are the minimum benefits, these are the package, and it comes with an actuarial figure, that's basically a percentage of how much the insurance company pays on average and how much you and I as consumers would pay out of pocket. And at one point it was about 76 percent, being the percentage the insurance company would pay, and we would pay the rest in co-pays, deductibles out of pocket. And over time, through the Senate Finance Committee, that's gotten whittled down to about 65 percent. [emphasis added]
My Democratic registration card is being ripped up as I write this.

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Matt Lauer: Is it dead?

Howard Dean: No, you really can't do health reform without it.
This is all very fascinating because I read in my Bangor Daily News this morning an Associated Press story with the lede,
Bowing to Republican pressure and an uneasy public, President Obama's administration signaled Sunday it is ready to abandon the idea of giving Americans the option of government-run insurance as part of a new health care system.
The idea is Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said over the weekend that the public option is "not the essential element" of health reform. Lauer had an Obama quote calling the public option a "sliver" of the total effort, in other words something easily cast aside in compromise.

Howard Dean, on the other hand, evidently sees the public option as something comparable to Medicare or the VA system. That looks like fantasy to me. Obama certainly does not and probably never has given public option this kind of weight.

I'll see you at the town office, where I'll be signing my Green Party registration card.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Colbert does his best


Glenn-Harried Glenn-Lost

No, there probably is no cure for Glenn-Beck-type wingnuttery. Practitioners most likely will be unable to comprehend the asshat's perfidy, even after Stephen Colbert makes it abundantly clear in this piece.
This from the Friday column certainly is true.

Krugman:
So far, at least, the Obama administration?s response to the outpouring of hate on the right has had a deer-in-the-headlights quality. It?s as if officials still can?t wrap their minds around the fact that things like this can happen to people who aren?t named Clinton, as if they keep expecting the nonsense to just go away.

What, then, should Mr. Obama do? It would certainly help if he gave clearer and more concise explanations of his health care plan. To be fair, he?s gotten much better at that over the past couple of weeks.
But I don't think Krugman quite gets the reason Obama and the Democrats aren't more able to get those "concise explanations" of the real plans out there--employer/individual insurance mandates and secret drug deals broadly will be disliked once understood. The lunacies for now are a distraction from the fact Obama is in the process of eviscerating his own campaign promises.
What did we learn from this week's FairPoint hearing before members of the Legislature's Utilities and Energy Committee?

"I believe in transparency," was the message of Peter Nixon, FairPoint's president.

In a striking burst of this "transparency," FairPoint spokesman Jeff Nevins said, "In the beginning, we knew there were going to be some problems. I think it's very fair to say at this point there were more problems than we thought."

Duh. But they couldn't see fit to provide documentation on how they would meet the 1/2-billion dollar debt payment due in a couple of months.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Lily

Some real summer, to be enjoyed for the very short time it will last.
Harsh reality.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Chipping Sparrow and Nuthatch


Summer stare-down

First I think it's a Chickadee there, with the black throat. The Chipping Sparrow thinks that's okay. But then a Red-breasted Nuthatch shows up. The Chipping Sparrow just hates that.
Obama flops, Democrats lack credibility


Obama can't be honest: secret deal with pharma and other holes of duplicity big enough for wingnuttia to rip through

Update: Via Corrente, Huffington Post has uncovered an internal White House memo that confirms the Obama deal with Big Pharma.

Today the Bangor Daily News reprinted an interesting Washington Post op-ed piece by Danielle Allen on problems of their own making the Democrats are having in the health insurance reform fracas. Towards the beginning of the piece is its best observation:
In his debates with Hillary Clinton in the winter of 2008, Barack Obama flatly denied that his approach to reforming health care would require an individual mandate requiring everyone to buy health insurance. Events have proved him wrong.

His administration now agrees with the analysts who argue that only by ensuring that no one games the system can reform be made to work. The mandate serves to ensure that individuals do not buy insurance only when they are ill. Other elements of the reform similarly serve to ensure that neither insurance companies nor employers will game the system. As Paul Krugman has argued in the New York Times, each of these strategies to prevent gaming is necessary to make the whole thing work. The point, though, is that the push for implementation has turned Obama's policies into something other than what he promised.
Bingo. Obama and the Democrats can't be honest about what they are doing without highlighting how different Obama the president is from Obama the Democratic candidate.

There are good items at Huffington Post and Time's Swampland that trace the story of how Obama has weaseled around through secret deals his earlier promises to cut costs by forcing drug companies to negotiate prices.

So now I see in my email David Axelrod saying I should forward the White House "Reality Check" on health reform. I'm glad to do it (below). I suppose if they could be honest that the plan is to include employer and individual insurance mandates along with unwieldy regulations designed to keep financial wizards and other crooks from gaming that kind of system, it would be easier to "hear" what they are trying to do. But I note that there is no mention of these essential aspect anywhere in the Reality Check site. A close reading also reveals private-insurance-friendly statements like "as long as the policyholder pays their premium in full." Does that mean if you get sick and can't pay, then they can drop you?

Here is my answer to all these problems: single payer.

There is plenty else underneath the surface of the (apparent) Democratic plan that undermines its credibility. See here at Corrente, for example. The Democrats have no way to just hand out to people at the town halls and elsewhere a one-sheet that explains exactly what their plan would do. You wouldn't have to be on the lunatic fringe to feel betrayed.

White House "Reality Check" below:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

So says Vermont utility regulators. They are mumbling something like maybe they're sick of FairPoint malarkey and want rid of them from Vermont, now issuing deadlines and ultimatums.

Recall back in March FairPoint's "pledge" to resume regular debt payments after things "stabilize" in the summer? The question--Will FairPoint be able to keep its promises?--seems pretty close to being answered.

Here's the rub, though. Who will be the phone company if FairPoint is gone? As this item at DSLreports.com so aptly observers,
This sudden tough regulatory demeanor might have proven more useful when regulators signed off on the deal in the first place -- amidst warnings by unions and consumer advocates that Fairpoint was in no financial position to take on such a huge influx of phone and DSL subscribers.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Limbaugh implied syllogism: Obama/Pelosi/Democrats = socialism = Nazism

Follow the drumbeat at Media Matters, HERE.

Today's best gem (of many):
Limbaugh: Which group of people are closer to the National Socialism of Germany on this health care plan? Is it Obama and the Democrats in the plan, or is it people showing up to protest the plan at these town hall meetings? It's no contest.

The people who are closest, and with the most striking resemblance to the socialist policies of Nazis, is today's Democrat Party, with ... this ... health ... care ... plan. Not saying Hitler and Pelosi are the same thing. Not saying that. But Nazi is derived from the German word, national socialism. ...That's where Nazi comes from!

Socialism is socialism wherever it is--be it in the Soviet Union, be it with Hitler in the bunker in the 30s and 40s, be it with Kim Jong Il today, whoever, Hugo Chavez down in Ven.... And I'm telling you, what the Democrat Party is doing today is doing with this health care plan, from the president on down, bears far more resemblance to socialized policy of previous regimes in the world, including the Nazis, than anything the people protesting this are doing. They don't resemble anything at all to do with,... they are protesting to stand up and maintain their liberty, and their freedom. Hitler ... Lenin ... Stalin were all men of the left.
Yeah, and I would never call Rush Limbaugh a big fat fuck paid to incite a legion of swastika-waving lunatics and then accuse the people being attacked of resembling Nazis.

Also, if you get into a discussion about these idiotic equivalencies with dittoheads, ask them to show the history book explaining how the Soviet Union, an ally in WWII that lost 20,000,000 people in unimaginable suffering while valiantly fending off the Nazis, is really one in the same with the Nazis.

Related items:

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Chirac: Bush said in early 2003 that Iraq must be invaded to thwart Gog and Magog.

Oy. Via Boing Boing.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Here it comes

zucchini handful
A handful of zucchini

Ms. Owl's grilled garlic zucchini
Ms. Owl's yummy grilled garlic zucchini

There'll be many more bowls of this before summer's over.
Swastika waved at Nancy Pelosi
Media Matters provides visual proof refuting Jonah Goldberg claim Speaker Pelosi was "lying" about swastika-wielding mob
Hitler symbolism becomes drumbeat of anti-health-reform wingnuttia

There is so much more today on the health reform = Nazism front (see previous post). Listen carefully to the language Limbaugh uses: "Now does this sound like something any conservative president has done or does it sound like something liberals are doing all over this country."

Limbaugh was making some silly comment about a German law requiring the boiling of lobsters. But don't we have Jonah Goldberg's faux construct of "liberal fascism" going on here? This is really a twisted, Alice-in-Wonderland attempt to replace (often though not always unfair) notions that conservatives are fascists and to insert liberals as a target for angry scorn. Goldberg tried this in his preposterous book.

Today Sara, posting at Orcinus, fires a warning shot. With the arrival these swastika-waving mobs--albeit ones angrily trying to reflect their own images onto those of Congressional liberals and President Obama--the guessing game, according to Sara, is over.
America's conservative elites have openly thrown in with the country's legions of discontented far right thugs. They have explicitly deputized them and empowered them to act as their enforcement arm on America's streets, sanctioning the physical harassment and intimidation of workers, liberals, and public officials who won't do their political or economic bidding.
The post warns that these mobs portend a "danger line" beyond which "no country has ever been able to return."

Please read the whole post and comment below what you think of it. I won't speak for Ms. Owl, but I'll tell you that while she agrees with me this is a strong strategy to stop cold health reform, it's just a little hyperbolic to say this means we are on the threshold of fascism.

Maybe. But what if fourteen months from now health reform is dead, the political process is at a standstill, anger is seething from every corner of the electorate, and Obama is scrambling to avoid a replay of 1994 while Republicans pretend to possess the salve with their Contract on America? Where are we then?
Rush Limbaugh: "Adolf Hitler, like Barack Obama, also ruled by dictate"

Back in 2004, our wingnut friends may recall their indignant uproar because uploaded video in a MoveOn.org ad contest included pieces comparing Bush to Hitler. Fox News reported at the time "Ad Comparing Bush to Hitler Gets Heat" and that the Republican National Committee "called on all nine [2004] Democratic [presidential] candidates to condemn the ads."

Wingnuts certainly remember the huge brush they used to paint the Michael Moore /Janeane Garofalo camp as radical purveyors of hate, with this particular incident held up as proof. Except they don't.

Times have changed. Despite a little post on Media Matters and some attention on the Rachel Maddow Show, there is no broad-based reporting of this offensive comparison, made by the host of a national radio program. Obviously, conservatism is equivalent to civility, as everyone knows.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Commemoration in Bangor THIS THURSDAY at noon

Hiroshima-Nagasaki 2009 commemoration in Bangor

Below is audio from my segment today on the upcoming commemoration broadcast on WERU Peacetime with Lee Whiting:



Here is a LINK where you can reach the Hiroshima program featuring the late Walter Cronkite mentioned in the segment. There you may listen to audio of his 3-minute commentary from this 2005 PRI special, Lessons from Hiroshima: 60 years later.

Below is additional information on the event from the Peace and Justice Center of Eastern Maine:
The Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine invites the public to participate in a free event commemorating the 64th anniversary of the two nuclear bombings of civilian populations. We will gather outside the Bangor Public Library in Peirce Park at noon Thursday August 6th. Below is a description of the event.

12:00 "Die-In" Peirce Park next to Bangor Public Library
Following readings about the day and a song by Marty Kelly, we will lie down to represent more than 100,000 killed in Hiroshima on Auust 6th 1945, more than 70,000 killed in Nagasaki on August 9th, 1945, and the tens of thousands who died of radiation poisoning in the weeks following, or were permanently maimed by the bombing.

12:30 Showing of slide show "Unforgettable Fire," Conference Room, Bangor Public Library
The die-in will be followed by a showing of slides of drawings by survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki entitled "Unforgettable Fire" in the conference room of the Bangor Public Library. The slide show was compiled with the help of the late University of Maine Professor of History, Howard Schonberger, during his 1975-76 Fullbright sabbatical to Japan. Ann Schonberger, his widow, will be present to share their experience of working with Japanese students at the World Friendship Center in Hiroshima to translate captions from the original work into English.
Department of bad forgeries

The latest WND Birther document is from the Republic of Kenya before the Republic of Kenya was a republic. Hmmm, maybe it shows too that Iraq sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

HERE is a long expose on Orly Taitz from the Orange County News: "Meet Orly Taitz, Queen Bee of People Obsessed With Barack Obama's Birth Certificate."

It's worth reading just for entertainment.
Krugman: Neither the administration, nor our political system in general, is ready to face up to the fact that we?ve become a society in which the big bucks go to bad actors, a society that lavishly rewards those who make us poorer.
As readers may remember, I have included Geithner in the list of bad actors. Yesterday, he spun wisdom with George Snuffle-up-olous on the awesome recovery and prospects for new taxes in violation of Obama's promises. The translation is HERE.
Update on March 4 story

This very quiet item is just reaching the Maine Owl news desk now:

State selects California firm to market Sears Island
By Tanya Mitchell | The Republican Journal Reporter
AUGUSTA (July 22): Moffatt & Nichol, a company based in Long Beach, Calif., was selected over four other contenders for the right to market some 300 acres on Sears Island for potential port development.

Maine Port Authority Executive Director John Henshaw said the firm stood out over the other applicants because of the depth of its experience with transportation-related developments, including port development planning. MPA signed a contract with the company June 1.

"I anticipate that they will be issuing requests for expressions of interest throughout the port development industry, probably through August," said Henshaw.

That, said Henshaw, will help the state determine what kind of interest there is in developing a port on the island, as well as what the current needs of the marine transportation industry are, given the state of the economy.

Henshaw said that along with offering basic information about the island, such as the rail and nearby road infrastructure that exists at the site now, the early stages of the marketing process should result in potential investors telling the state what is possible.

"That will tell us what ultimately ought to be built there and when," he said.
I suppose I should read Village Soup more often. It's always possible I missed it, but as far as I can tell the award of this contract eluded the Bangor Daily News, even though they did have a story on the $100,000 appropriation back in March.

I stand by my original commentary. The fact that the port development enthusiasts in the Baldacci administration even need to learn the first basics about "what kind of interest there is in developing a port on the island" from a California firm ought to tell us something about the nature of this boondoggle.

And, please, don't tell me that this development would fall under "economic stimulus" and receive a load of federal dollars. That kind of funding could divorce the boondoggle from reality more than it already is.