Archive for January, 2006

Friday garden blogging

Friday, January 27th, 2006

Snow is back

Not much, though

And it has turned colder again. Meanwhile, the extra afternoon light is very noticable now. Sunset is a good 35 minutes later than it was on December 10.

Peak oil primer

Sunday, January 22nd, 2006

“What they don’t want you to know about the coming oil crisis”

Jerome a Paris reviews a peak oil piece by Jeremy Leggett published in Friday’s Independent. The full text is here for those unwilling to pay the Independent’s portfolio charge. This thing is sobering reading. So much is still hidden, or at least not realized yet by the masses.

Deep Blade Journal quoted Leggett from public radio’s Marketplace program a couple of weeks ago.

Friday Garden Blogging

Friday, January 20th, 2006

No snow

Debris from Wednesday windstorm

Tangled tree

The week started with bizarre January weather, then it got stranger. The snow was wiped out last Saturday with 10 deg. C temperature and 3 inches of rain. Wednesday, a weird, murky storm with near-hurricane-force winds blew through, spreading debris and taking down branches all over the place. Power went out for several hours as dark gray roiling sheets of rain pounded the windows. Yep, that’s an old Kerry-Edwards sign that tumbled its way into the yard under the pine trees.

They like war

Thursday, January 19th, 2006

Scott McClellan says they could choose to stop it if they wanted to.

Gore on fire

Tuesday, January 17th, 2006

President Bush is breaking the law.

Al Gore’s Liberty Coalition speech on Martin Luther King day is vital. With historical context, he makes the case for why the current law-breaking administration must be reigned in. Most importantly, Gore builds his fire under complacent Democrats and lays out a path for Americans of all political stripes to unify against this so-far unchecked executive power.

Sadly, mainstream media coverage of this speech has been poor. Therefore, I am contributing whatever available bandwidth I have to help get it out there in a good-quality audio file. Go to to download.

The text of the speech is here. Additional commentary by Glenn Greenwald here.

US troop withdrawal?

Sunday, January 15th, 2006

Murtha says so. Cheney mission related?

Representative Murtha

“The vast majority of American troops will be out of Iraq by the end of this year.”

That’s what US Representative John Murtha said in an interview broadcast by CBS’s 60 Minutes last night. It was a good segment, with Murtha giving Mike Wallace, steely-eyed, unflinchingly sincere answers to a series of right-wing, swiftboatish questions.

Mike Wallace: How many of your constituents, in Pennsylvania, have been killed in Iraq?

Representative Murtha: Thirteen from my Congressional district.

Wallace: Do the families feel that you are–tough one–do their families feel that you are dishonoring their memories by speaking out against the war that they gave their lives…

Murtha: Well, I hope they understand it–that it is my job, my responsibility to speak out when I disagree with the policy of the president of the United States. All of us want this president to succeed. But you can’t just sit back and allow this war to continue on without a clear exit strategy. That’s the reason I’m so strong about this…

To a point I am almost 100% behind Murtha. Let’s keep it simple and get the US ground troops out of Iraq. Of course, I would depart from a “strategy” that stepped up aerial bombardment. And I do question the need for a whole strategy for exit. All that is needed, as Stan Goff said in Orono a couple of months ago, an exit order. President Bush only needs to wield that commander-in-chief authority he is so fond of and sign an order for US forces to get out.

Still, Murtha should be a model for Democrats. But uh ah, not the running-scared Hillary Clinton or Nancy Pelosi. The latter is just wishy-washy, as she can’t even budge an inch towards her own constituents clear desire to end funding for the war and impeach Bush.

Meanwhile, what is going on with Dick Cheney’s resumed mission to the Middle East? Juan Cole wrote yesterday that “rumors were flying” about a deal that would send troops from Arab countries to Iraq.

“This quest is said to underlie the mission of Vice President Richard Bruce Cheney to Egypt and other Arab states beginning Sunday.”

I don’t know about this. As Steve Gilliard writes, “…expecting Arab troops to assist the occupation, well that dog won’t hunt.”


Sunday, January 15th, 2006

Write a caption


Saturday, January 14th, 2006

Do they even need another terrorist attack to blame on Iran?

With Iran asserting its nuclear independence over the last few days, does the Bush administration see new opportunities to foment a crisis?

Atrios has a couple of posts that are just so quotable I’m going to go ahead and quote them:

Iran and Roll
Gonna be deja vu all over again. Fortunately the script has already been written and all it takes is a find&replace command to switch q for n.Time to start betting on when the force authorization vote will happen.

There won’t be a war, but there will be lots of war talk.

How It Goes
Winter/Spring – The clone army of foreign policy “experts” from conservative foreign policy outfits nobody ever heard of before suddenly appear on all the cable news programs all the time, frowning furiously and expressing concerns about the “grave threat” that Iran poses. Never before heard of Iranian exile group members start appearing regularly, talking about their role in the nuclear program and talking up Iran’s human rights violations.

Spring/Summer – “Liberal hawks” point out that all serious people understand the serious threat posed by serious Iran, and while they acknowledge grudgingly that the Bush administration has fucked up everything it touches, they stress, and I mean stress, that we really must support the Bush administration’s serious efforts to deal with the serious problem and that criticisms of such serious approaches to a serious problem are highly irresponsible and come only from irrational very unserious Bush haters who would rather live in Iran than the U.S.

Late Summer – Rumsfeld denies having an Iran war plan “on his desk.” He refuses to answer if he has one “in his file cabinet.” Andy Card explains that you don’t roll out new product until after labor day.

Early Fall – Bush suddenly demands Congress give him the authority to attack Iran to ensure they “disarm.” Some Democrats have the temerity to ask “with what army?” Marshall Wittman and Peter Beinart explain that courageous Democrats will have the courageous courage to be serious and to confront the “grave threat” with seriousness and vote to send other peoples’ kids off to war, otherwise they’ll be seen as highly unserious on national security. Neither enlists.

Late October – Despite the fact that all but 30 Democrats vote for the resolution, Republicans run a national ad campaign telling voters that Democrats are objectively pro-Ahmadinejad. Glenn Reynolds muses, sadly, that Democrats aren’t just anti-war, but “on the other side.” Nick Kristof writes that liberals must support the war due to Ahmadinejad’s opposition to gay rights in Iran.

Election Day – Democrats lose 5 seats in the Senate, 30 in the House. Marshall Wittman blames it on the “pro-Iranian caucus.”

The Day After Election Day – Miraculously we never hear another word about the grave Iranian threat. Peter Beinart writes a book about how serious Democrats must support the liberation of Venezuela and Bolivia.

Now I’d like to take up the exercise Atrios suggests. All Gerson and the crack Bush speechwriters will have to do is open the September/October 2002 archives and then cut and paste. Here’s an example of how to do it, from the Bush UN speech of September 12, 2002:

Today, Iraqn continues to withhold important information about its nuclear program — weapons design, procurement logs, experiment data, an accounting of nuclear materials and documentation of foreign assistance. Iraqn employs capable nuclear scientists and technicians. It retains physical infrastructure needed to build a nuclear weapon. Iraqn has made several attempts to buy high-strength aluminum tubes used to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon. Should Iraqn acquire fissile material, it would be able to build a nuclear weapon within a year.

There’s plenty more text just like it to lift and re-purpose. A striking thing here is the notion that no ginned-up provocation supposedly by Iran, no bombardment, and certainly no full-scale invasion of Iran will be necessary for a hyperbolic Iran crisis to work politically for the Republicans in the November US mid-term Congressional elections. Can we pretty much forget about the insider discussion of an Iran war plan I posted about last July? If Republican domestic political goals are achieved without bombing, or with very limited bombing of Iran, would that not be preferred, seeing how the US military has it’s hands full next door in a country 1/3 the size?

Why Iran might want nukes
I don’t know, of course, but it is not hard to imagine threats to Iranian national security from the Iranian point of view. First, there is no way Iran would use a nuke in a first strike, or give one to terrorists to use against the US or Israel. It would be suicidal for them. Despite the provocative tones directed against Israel by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, they are probably just as concerned as anyone about terrorist use of nukes. No matter who would do it, the weight of the response would fall on Iran.

But from the Iranian point of view, deterrence must be quite another matter, right? Israel has hundreds of nuclear weapons pointed squarely at Iran, just a few hundred kilometers away. And Lord knows how many nuclear tipped devices have been brought in by the Americans, right next door.

I tried very briefly to research that last point. Maybe there has been something out there in the last couple years, but today I found little on the question of US nukes in Iraq. I challenge readers to find at least a denial or maybe a “neither confirm nor deny” quote on this.

Friday garden blogging

Friday, January 13th, 2006

January thaw

Veazie Salmon Club Park

January Thaw
Stormy weather drove me here, drop anchor fast and hole up tight
In solitary harbor fill the cracks and mend the lines
To spend the long cold winter with the decks not rolling under me
My land legs aren’t too steady but they’ll strengthen given time.

So give me time, don’t shine your sun so warm so full of fascination
Give me time, don’t tempt me to go rushing off to sea
November snow lies on the ground, are you a January thaw
Come to promise springtime and deceive my fragile heart?

Each one offered sailing fine, I braved the challenge every time
Brisk winds filled my sails, a dazzling sun did warm my bones
But winter follows summer, now I’m needing time to be alone
Sheltered on the land for here it was that I was born

Part of me wants summer now, but part of me still knows
Time one spends in solitude is time one needs to grow
And winter months teach patience, harbor bound until the spring
And when the ice melts in my heart, I’ll go once more to sea.

So till then give me time, then shine your sun so full of fascination
Give me time, then tempt me, I may sail with you to sea
But now the snow lies on the ground, please don’t be just January thaw
Come to promise springtime and deceive my fragile heart

by Lui Collins
From the album “Baptism of Fire”
© 1980 Molly Gamblin Music/BMI.

Save Dirigo!

Thursday, January 12th, 2006

Maine health plan under assault from Republicans and insurance companies

Dirigo Health Rally at the State House in Augusta, Maine

I have posted before about what the Dirigo Health program means to me. It’s getting even more meaningful, as additional issues have been popping up lately. I can’t thank enough Governor Baldacci and everyone who pushed for and everyone who now supports this affordable health insurance program.

But there are dark clouds on the horizon. One of these clouds comes in the form of Maine Republican gubernatorial challenger Peter Mills, who was quoted in November, “Dirigo was a risky experiment, and it failed,…the proper thing to do is to stop enrollment right now and let this thing wither away”. He’s regularly been pounding at it on the campaign trail since.

Well, if Dirigo helps me, it’s not a failure to me. And you know what? The plan has paid out very little to me (so far), and it’s not exactly cheap. Last year, I ran it up to the deductible of about $1200. But what it does for me is get me into a decent doctor’s office. Nobody wants to take new, uninsured patients. Without Dirigo, I never would have gone in for any of the exams and tests I’ve had that may well be what saves my life in the next few months.

Before Mills and his evidently well-covered Republican friends destroy Dirigo, I think they ought to be forced to seek decent, affordable policies as individuals in this state. Oh, and they are only allowed to have about the state median income (about what we make). Good luck, Repubs.

I’m bristling underneath right now with contempt for these empathy-less Republican attitudes. Instead of trying to help solve the problems, address the extreme greed within the financial investment/acquisition-hungry insurance industry, and improve Dirigo, they want to kill it before it has a chance to succeed. I will do anything necessary to defeat these defeatist insurance-company-friendly political hacks.

I have a short, powerful audio item from the State House rally posted at