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Saturday, December 06, 2003

States Rights Alive And Well... 

I commented on State's rights being a friend to the Conservative in a blog a few days back ("Oh, and by the way, now that I've trashed the dollar...", 3 Dec), and now it's popping up all over the place. The first, and definitely least funny one, is the 51st State's arrogant stance on what should have been Job #1 post 9/11, the Israel-Palestinian issue. Israel is a "state" as they say, with rights to exist (My friends there call themselves the 51st State, to which I say non ho parole), but NOT BEYOND THE 1967 BORDERS. And that is all the latest cease-fire proposal asks for. As I've said before, none of this makes sense unless you realize that instability in the Middle East makes Bush and his "friends" richer.

The other one is on The Onion, a favorite of The Bite. Their scenario for a "beyond reality" TV show set in the modern-day US after the South won the Civil War is funny until the last paragraph:

"...But it might be neat to choreograph some sort of mad uprising for the final episode. Whatever we do, you can bet it'll be exciting, tension-filled, and consistent with an America where slavery and states' rights survived long after the 1860s" It's going to happen, anyway, alas. When 1/3 of the population has no chance of ever getting out of the "working poor" class (and it is a classist society) and one state, TEXAS, is trying to push its will on the world, there will be "some sort of mad uprising for the final episode."

-Vulf

Death of a man named Luna...Not adding up 

OK, an ostensibly very good person was just murdered, and the reports are bizarre/conflicting to say the least...I want to know what's going on here! I mean, this makes no sense.

"Jonathan Luna is the last prosecutor that any offender should feel the need to take out revenge on," federal Judge Andre Davis said. "Jonathan Luna? The very picture of fairness and even-handedness and respect for the defense? It's unthinkable."

Luna was dressed in a business suit and overcoat. He still had his wallet with identification and cash.

"Investigators said Luna had prosecuted other violent criminals recently, including a man who had burned down a house to force six Mexicans out of a neighborhood." Hmmm...why did they mention this? But it gets even more bizarre.

"Luna also was chastised for arriving late to court Wednesday morning after he had spent the night at the hospital with his sick infant son. In a rare move, U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles Jr. fined Luna $25 for his tardiness, according to sources familiar with the case. Quarles declined to comment on the incident yesterday."

$25? What's THAT?

"Among the clues Luna left behind in Baltimore were the most ordinary details: His cell phone and wire-rimmed eyeglasses were in his courthouse office, according to sources familiar with the investigation." "His bank ATM card, and a series of withdrawals on his account during the hours he was missing, also were being examined by investigators as they built a detailed timeline of what happened to Luna after he left the Baltimore courthouse."

But.... wait a minute..."The affidavit said there was a large pool of blood on the right rear floor of the car. Scattered throughout the car were "numerous bills of United States currency" and cell phone equipment, according to the affidavit." What money? If he withdrew from the ATM under duress, why was the money still in the car? Why was there cell phone equipment if his cell phone was in his office?

"When his body was discovered at dawn in Brecknock Township, Luna was dressed in a business suit, shirt and tie, an overcoat, socks and shoes, said Dr. Barry D. Walp, the Lancaster County coroner." "Walp said there were no wallet or cell phone in Luna's pockets, but he was wearing a work identification badge around his neck." (this contradicts the above...)

OK, using Occam's razor (and not to shave), we surmise he decided to start fighting his kidnapper and lost. But the news sure is conflicting. And I want to know why, then, the money wasn't taken. I'm not saying I'm sniffing a conspiracy, but I am appalled at the disagreement in the news media. This one is truly horrible.

-Vulf

Response to Wilk and Lupus, Plus More on (moron?) Curious George... 

Wilk, thanks for attempting the plug. All I can say is your editor has some sense! :)

Lupus, the world being the strangely coincidental place that it is, I can not only respond to your question but also directly segue into a further discussion of Mercury toxicity relating to several of your recent postings.

Sitting in my free email inbox (don't know if I'm allowed to plug the provider, but let me just say "characters in Swift's "Gulliver's Travels" for a clue), I got the following plea from the Dems:

"Every time I open a newspaper there's another urgent reason to show Bush the door. As I write this, I see they've not just shut down stem cell research here in the US -- they're now trying to muscle the rest of the world into banning it as well. Yesterday it was Bush's EPA plan to gut Clinton-era regulations that would have reduced mercury and other toxic emissions by power plants.[my emphasis] (This mostly affects pregnant women and young children.) Bush is determined to turn back the clock on everything! These are just two of a zillion reasons so many of us (even my Mom!) have given the DNC every cent the law allows in 2003. Don't even get me started on his handling of the war, or his wildly misguided, plutocratic, short-sighted tax policy. And yet, for all our giving -- and many of us have dug deep -- we are still $500,000 short of this year's goal. But if you pitch in, we're going to win -- up and down the ballot. Bush has already raised $110 million for his primary "contest," even though he's running unopposed. And it's not even 2004! Why has he done this? So he can drown the country in more "false impressions" about his own record, while unleashing a vicious attack on the Democratic nominee who emerges this spring. The presidential race for 2004 is on. The clock is ticking. We're going to win at every level -- but not without your help. Bush will spare no expense trying to convince Americans that he is a "compassionate conservative," even as, behind the scenes, he works to shift even more power and wealth to those already most powerful and wealthy. I'm Treasurer of the DNC and I urge you: Don't let him get away with it. We need you and thousands of others like you to join our effort by renewing your membership for 2004 now. The Democratic Party is building the resources -- the war chest -- our candidates will need in order to win. Your decision to renew your 2004 membership today is the best year-end investment you can make. It's an investment in our country, our environment, our prosperity, our civil liberties -- even, ultimately, in the health and security of our kids. What better gift to give than that? Thank you! Andrew Tobias Treasurer"

Is Andrew ranting? Absolutely. Are we on The Bite fully supportive of the Dems' approach to our present world/national situation? Not this member of the Pack, anyway. The Dems, as we have noted, have made themselves irrelevant in many ways, from their lackluster opposition to "W"'s squandering of all the post-9/11 goodwill we had to their inability to come up with a viable social strategy to counter the Fascism-as-Corporatism that reigns unopposed in the U.S. But let me quote from another recent email to my non-Laputan freemail account:

"Last week you showed America the strength of the grassroots. When the RNC launched an air-war to distort what we are fighting for in this election, you responded. You stood up and you funded a response that set the record straight. But the RNC has millions of dollars bundled from large corporate interests, and they plan to smear not just Howard Dean, but any Democrat who stands in the way of their radical agenda. To defeat this bombardment, we must fight it on all fronts. Your campaign has always been about more than electing a president, it's about changing America. To take back our country, we need to take back not just the White House but the Senate and the House of Representatives as well. Today Congressman Leonard Boswell--the only Democrat among Iowa's five U.S. Representatives--needs our help. Boswell has fought many years for Democratic values, and as a result he has been targeted by Karl Rove and the RNC for defeat in 2004. The lies and distortions that we saw last week are just the beginning of what will be a hard and expensive battle for the state of Iowa. But as you have shown time and time again--together we can do it. You can demonstrate your commitment to taking back your country by contributing or volunteering for Leonard Boswell today:
http://www.boswellforcongress.com
Your action for Congressman Boswell will send a message to Rove and Bush, and demonstrate the strength of your campaign on the eve of the critical Iowa caucus. You will announce to the leadership of the Democratic Party, and to all members of Congress, that you--the grassroots--are the future of our political process. Please contribute or volunteer now to help re-elect Leonard Boswell.
http://www.boswellforcongress.com
I'm also writing to encourage you to come to Iowa in January to get out the vote. This is the opportunity of a lifetime--a chance to make history--and we are hoping to have 5,000 volunteers come to Iowa. If you?ve ever doubted that you can make a difference in our political process, I recommend you do this. Hitting the pavement for a campaign is hard work--but also fun and rewarding--and gives you the chance to shape the future of our country.
http://deanforamerica.com/Iowa_Signup_Intro_FA
Thank you for all that you do. Joe Trippi Campaign Manager
P.S. Tomorrow night is a very important Meetup. More than 225 years ago Thomas Paine published 'Common Sense,' and helped ignite an American movement for self-government. Now, Governor Dean has written 'Common Sense for a New Century' in which he lays out his vision for a country powered by the American people--not the special interests. Meetup members--those of you who built your campaign from the ground up--will be the first to see the pamphlet when it is distributed tonight. I hope you can be there.
http://dean2004.meetup.com"

Amazing. Dean has in effect taken over pro forma leadership for the Democratic Party. The magnitude of this endorsement by Dean is truly laudable. As the New York Times notes:

"The only Democrat in Iowa's five-person House delegation, Mr. Boswell said he has not yet endorsed Dr. Dean but was happy for the help."

Dean is helping out Democrats EVEN WHEN THEY HAVE NOT ENDORSED HIM. Admirable, indeed. When was the last time a politician behaved like this?

Is anyone opposing Bush in his own party? McCain? Well, you can't say others on Blogspot aren't trying! But why would McCain want to run? With the Republican machinery in place, from the despicable Hannity and Coulter to the laughably stupid Limbaugh, to the Corporatist White Whale himself, they've got every base covered. And you need to have the body armor of a Dean to run against what will be an unprecedented (and unpresidential, I might add) smear campaign. But, there is still hope, because truth is stranger than fiction:

"Schwarzenegger was interviewed on Sean Hannity's radio show today, and he said, "I believe gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman.""

Dean doesn't need to smear. All he has to do is let the Republicans talk. If only people will listen, we'll have another 1-term Bush presidency. So, Lupus, as for "W", how about these quotes:

"This is Preservation Month. I appreciate preservation. It's what you do when you run for president. You gotta preserve."

"I understand small business growth. I was one."

"I have a different vision of leadership. A leadership is someone who brings people together."[do pirates also command this ship?]

"I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully."

"It is clear our nation is reliant upon big foreign oil. More and more of our imports come from overseas."

"I want each and everyone American to know for certain that I'm responsible for the decisions I make, and each of you are as well."[Yes, you've certainly made us responsible for your decisions]

"The administration I'll bring is a group of men and women who are focused on what's best for America, honest men and women, decent men and women, women who will see service to our country as a great privilege and who will not stain the house."[Yes, they ARE potty-trained!]

"They have miscalculated me as a leader"

"They misunderestimated me."[Yep, they didn't underestimate you enough!]

"That's a chapter, the last chapter of the twentieth, twentieth, twenty-first century that most of use would rather forget. The last chapter of the twentieth century. This is the first chapter of the twenty-first century."

"I think if you know what you believe, it makes it a lot easier to answer questions. I can't answer your question."[I believe you!]

"Well, I think if you say you're going to do something and don't do it, that's trustworthiness."[Did he mean trustworthlessness?]

"We must all hear the universal call to like your neighbor just like you like to be liked yourself." [his understanding of the New Testament, I presume?]

"Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream." [honorable mention, most metaphors mixed in fewest words, THIS century]


I rest my case.

-Vulf

Friday, December 05, 2003

Friday sports 

This week I did that column on Maisonneuve. I did try to put a kind of plug in for the Bite but the dirty editors took it out. That is what they like to do. Anyway, thanks especially to Vulf for planting the seeds for two of the ideas appearing in the column.

Thanks also to Lupus for that info on foods. I really like some of the items on the dirty dozen. It's lucky that I get my cherries straight from organic trees.

- wilk

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Schrodinger & Bush 

How does Prez. Bush take credit for elminating WMD's from Iraq? It now can be revealed, pRes. Bush is a closest physicist!

Modern Physics(via The Raitt Stuff)

Calpundit and Atrios both highlight the following paragraph describing a Bush fund raiser in New Jersey:

Not breaking any ground, Bush highlighted the accomplishments of his administration, saying he had eliminated the terror threat from Afghanistan and weapons of mass destruction from Iraq and ensured that Medicare will remain solvent.

They both seem to be of the opinion that the claim that Bush eliminated WMD's from Iraq is laughable.

Yet they fail to grasp the president's deep understanding of modern physics. In fact, prior to the invasion, the weapons both existed and didn't exist simultaneously, not unlike Schrodinger's Cat. The invasion and subsequent search brought in observers and collapsed the wave function to one of non-existence. Thus the President was speaking nothing but the truth.

This kind of misunderestimating one's opponents has really got to stop!

(via Atrios)

Okay, Vulf, what do you have to say about the great intellect of the our dear leader.

- Lupus

Dirty Dozen Produce Addendum 

The dirty dozen made the list because of pesticide contamination. I know everyone cannot afford organic food all the time, but it does highlight which foods should be organic.

- Lupus

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Oh, and by the way, now that I've trashed the dollar... 

I'll lift the steel tariffs, says Curious George. And, no, he doesn't mean he'll actually raise the tariffs--he means remove them. We'll see the phrase "stubborn steel" later in this blog entry. Sure, the dollar has been trashed against the Euro anyway, and so to avoid a European tariff on several billion dollars worth of US exports, he'll remove the tariffs. Not that any Euro-abiding country can hope to compete against the now utterly worthless dollar:

"Yesterday's fall added to the massive selling of the world's largest currency, which has tumbled by 14 per cent against the euro so far this year. The financial markets are growing increasingly concerned that the US will not be able to attract enough investment to fund its burgeoning current account deficit, which is running at record levels."

What about that "great recovery" last quarter, the one Bush is so proud of, you ask? Phony, says the Dresdner. Sure, it helped the Republicans pick up governorships in Kentucky and Louisiana, but it's not real. The EMPEROR is wearing no clothes. Those "new jobs" "W" is creating are due to Wal-Mart hiring to replace the illegal alien workers they got caught paying hamster-in-a-lab-maze wages.

But don't take my word on it. Check out Bush's "vision" on one of the many LIBERAL media web sites, this one by la fascista Diana West. In saying "W" is protecting us from the void, she pontificates:

"People say his mettle comes from strong faith. A doctor-friend [She has friends?] of mine wonders whether his is the stubborn steel [my emphasis] of the successfully reformed [was he previously amorphous? too easy...] alcoholic. Whatever fuses his backbone, the fact is, George W. Bush gets it: Freedom is under assault, and it is left to the United States and its few true allies to do what it takes to defend it."

I say [credit for original quote here goes to Spinal Tap's first album notes] that "Bush is filling a much needed void", not filling a void. We don't need a Crusade. We don't need him re-forming his alcoholic habits. We don't need him "defending freedom" by taking away ours. We need him to return to Crawford and fight with the other snakes on his ranch. Yes, his backbone is fused all right, because he's inflexible.

She/it goes on to say:

"Bush-obsessed, Democrats don't see anything beyond the president. Bush-obsessed, they have no inkling as to what may lie ahead without him: the fearful chaos of a prematurely ended war on terrorism. And that may be what is most frightening of all."

Yea, like the way Bush took advantage of the 9/11 goodwill to prematurely end the Israel/Palestine problem? No one is Bush-obsessed...we all know Rove and the White Whale (Cheny Dick) are far more treacherous. Not to mention Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, Rice and the rest of these dirt bags pandering fear to avoid the real issues--like the economy, like health care, like the exponentially increasing wealth disparity, like why the world hates us more than ever even though we were the victim in 9/11 (how the powers-that-be have pulled this off is a miracle in stupidity).

Oh, I forgot, it's all Clinton's fault. Amazing how powerful that man was. He could plant seeds in 2000 that even a Republican majority in Senate, House, President, Cabinet and Governorships could not override. I guess he really was THAT MUCH SMARTER than all these troglodytes. A pity he couldn't keep his zipper closed...but not as much as the fact that Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, Rice and the rest can't keep their mouths the same.

-Vulf

Food 

Regarding Lupus's list of foods: are the dirty dozen bad because of pesticides and agrochemicals or because of other contaminants?

- Wilk

Morons 

The thing I like about the Bite is that you all keep me up to date issues that are quite important but I do not have time to follow given my physical distance from the States. Thanks.

I have no idea why we need such an Constitutional Amendment. The idea Wulf suggests that two widows unite civilly to pool their resources or friends to share expenses is interesting. Does that happen very much? (I mean apart from business. I have a "civil partnership" in Poland with two business partners. We pool our resources and share the costs but we don't live together.) It seems quite reasonable. Perhaps the real problem is that the conservative lawmakers, who after having just boinked a lover as part of an affair, then goes out and wants to rule others' sexual lives. I guess they think that gays or lesbians just sit around the office or at home and screw each other blind. Well, so what if they did anyway? As long as I don't have to see it on film .... (and as long as it does not involve minors).

Seems also like a move to deflect our attention from something else. Global warming isn't bad! It's the dykes and homos draggin this country down! Geeze, what will the rest of the world (that portion still above water, that is) think of us in 50 years when they already hate us now!

-Wilk

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Oxymoronic...with the accent on the last 3 syllables 

OK, someone explain why we need a Constitutional Amendment defining marriage as being between a man and woman. First off, if you change the whole naming to "civil union", the whole nature of the argument changes. Fine. Call a man and woman married, but two men or two women "civilly united" and give them the same rights. This would help out, for example, two widows who want to pool their resources, two friends who want to share expenses, etc. It is also the more conservative route; that is, civil unions spell out exactly what rights are conveyed and are not by same-sex partnerships, and thus could help rich Republican widows/widowers to preserve their wealth by choosing a beneficiary if their family is gone (I figure greed is the right approach to take with the Republicans on this issue--if we can convince them there is a way to preserve personal wealth through the granting of Civil Unions, they should bite, right?).

For a history on the subject, check out Nolo Law for All's article, where the definition of marriage is especially germane:

"According to Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, a family is 'the basic unit in society having as its nucleus two or more adults living together and cooperating in the care and rearing of their own or adopted children.'"

However, the most ironic part of it all is that Constitutional Amendments are Liberal. They create change and take away from State's rights. State's rights are of course the backbone of the Conservatives, allowing them to kill with impunity (and with "W" the Texecutioner) in Texas, for example, while states in the north are less reticent to kill. Look for example at the Bureau of Justice Statistics and see which States killed people in 2002:

"In 2002, 71 persons in 13 States were executed -- 33 in Texas; 7 in Oklahoma, 6 in Missouri; 4 each in Georgia and Virginia, 3 each in Florida, South Carolina, and Ohio; 2 each in Alabama, Mississippi, and North Carolina; and 1 each in Louisiana and California."

Yep, that's right, only one state above the belt--Ohio, and 68/71, or 96% of those executed were below the nation's beltline, in the Bible Belt, and hitting below the belt. State's rights are the Conservative's best friend, because it gives them 50 chances to find a place crazy enough to swallow their garbage. So, come on, Conservatives, try to be logically consistent for just once, shall you? Can the Constitutional Amendment B.S., and extend civil unions to widows, to friends, and of course to gays/lesbians. Oh, and stay below the belt, and convince Musgrave and Allard to move there, too.

-Vulf

Updated safe and environmentally friendly fish list. 

I cross referenced the mercury safe list from last week's post with the EWG's list and the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Healthy Ocean list to create this ultimate safe fish list:

abolone(snail)
catfish
oysters(farmed)
trout(farmed)
salmon(canned and wild)
sardines
shrimp
tilapia

These fish and seafood are environmentally friendly, but I have no data on their mercury content :

sturgeon(farmed)
cavier(farmed)
clams(farmed)
snow crab
hoki
lobster
mussels(farmed)
striped bass

- Lupus

Update on Fish & Mercury 

From the Environmental Working Group, an updated list on safe and hazardous fish to eat.

EWG’s Fish List

What Women Should Know About Mercury In Fish

Avoid If Pregnant

Shark
Swordfish
King mackerel
Tilefish
Tuna steaks
Canned tuna
Sea bass
Gulf Coast Oysters
Marlin
Halibut
Pike
Walleye
White croaker
Largemouth bass

Eat No More Than One Serving From This List Per Month

Mahi mahi
Blue mussel
Eastern oyster
Cod
Pollock
Great Lakes salmon
Gulf Coast blue crab
Channel catfish (wild)
Lake whitefish

Data From The 1970s Show High Concentrations
(No Recent Data Available)

Porgy
Orange Roughy
Snapper
Lake Trout
Bluefish
Bonito
Rockfish

Lowest In Mercury

Blue crab (mid-Atlantic)
Croaker
Fish Sticks
Flounder (summer)
Haddock
Trout (farmed)
Salmon (wild Pacific)
Shrimp *
* Shrimp fishing and farming practices have raised serious environmental concerns.
** Farmed catfish have low mercury levels but may contain PCBs in amounts of concern for pregnant women.

-Lupus

More about safe eating 

Vulf wrote about the "Food Chain Level." I highlighted how the FCL impacts our consumption of fish.

I now turn my concern to fruits and vegetables. Here is a list by the compiled by Environmental Working Group of the 12 most contaminated and the 12 least contaminated fruits and vegetables.

Dirty Dozen in no particular order:
12 Most Contaminated
Buy These Organic

• Apples
• Bell Peppers
• Celery
• Cherries
• Imported Grapes
• Nectarines
• Peaches
• Pears
• Potatoes
• Red Raspberries
• Spinach
• Strawberries

The Clean Twelve Pack
• Asparagus
• Avocados
• Bananas
• Broccoli
• Cauliflower
• Corn (sweet)
• Kiwi
• Mangos
• Onions
• Papaya
• Pineapples
• Peas (sweet)

Here's a downloadable wallet guide to take with you while your shopping.

-Lupus

Why lie, sky guy? 

OK, this one has me puzzled. Why did the President's lapdogs fabricate the anecdote about the British Air pilots? Was this meant to add excitement to the story of the president's secret trip to supposedly safe (7 months post-carrier speech, after all) Baghdad? Come on, if you saw Air Force One flying over the North Atlantic, wouldn't you think he was on his way to a secret French dinner? He may want us to hate the French, but he can't resist the sauces? I don't get it...maybe when lying is your modus operandi, you can't resist doing it, even when it doesn't add to the story. Habits die hard, all right, and it's the seemingly innocent lies like these that expose the whole infrastructure of prevarication and mendacity. Curiouser and curiouser, George.

-Vulf

Monday, December 01, 2003

This Grrrrl Rocks 

Talk about havin' a 'tude where it matters...i.e. under the cranium!
This woman taught herself to read at 15 years of age, and is now heading up Quit Whining and Read! Very inspiring. Now, to look at it from a different perspective, read and quit whining! The more you know, the more questions you ask, and the more you learn. Complacency is the enemy, and you all know what happens if you get too complacent.

-Vulf

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Dean and Bush oh so similar 

To get a great unbiased report by a magazine that calls itself "liberal" (haha, we've covered this before...), check out the article on "Cut from the Same Cloth" on the Economist's web site. The Economist suggests that both people dodged the draft in Vietnam (Dean's for a bad back), which is probably at least partly true in Dean's case (though his draft number, 143 out of 300, may mean he never would have gone, anyway), and we all know the Bush story---Air National Guard, never showed up, etc. Hello, Dean is against the Iraq War. He is against folks fighting over there. He is logically consistent. He didn't want the US in his or OUR generation's Vietnam. The litany of Economist attacks on Dean is almost hilarious ("Howard the Duck", a cheap association with a daft Marvel Comic Book character of the '70s and I believe a later movie, etc...--do a search on the Economist web site to see how much he frightens them).

Wake up, Economist, you seem to have no concept of an economy unless it is based on growth. It's a finite planet. Get a new model. Same for us. If not Dean, then who? I think what this article really shows us is how threatening Dean really is....why? Because he SHOULD be like "W" and his cronies. He's white. He doesn't look like Curious George (oops--sorry, that's a difference, not a similarity, my bad). He's from a wealthy heritage. So why should he care about the poverty level? Why should he care about literacy, employment, education? Why should be remove the tax cut? Nothing rankles the right more than someone who they feel SHOULD BE on their side, but isn't.

Is Dean a perfect solution? No. But he's the only viable candidate left of center in any way. We need to add range to the spectrum. If you won't go for Dean, then go for Sharpton (although this may be a "wasted" vote since he can't beat Bush). Regardless, we need a change.

-Vulf

Casualties Escalating... 

It's official. Now with November drawing to a close, it has become the most costly month for the American military since 1991. More than 75 killed in Iraq, another 6 in Afghanistan (Most costly month in the entire Iraq operation--even more than March or April). I hate to say we predicted this earlier on the Bite, but, well, we did. The longer a foreign power is there, the bigger a target it becomes.

GET OUT.

Vulf

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