Saturday, May 19, 2007

The daily dose of Doublespeak

One aspect of the current administration that constantly amazes me is the skilled and precise manner in which they have perfected Orwellian Doublespeak, and the methods they display of using language to condition the American public. A recent news report of the violence in Iraq underscored this ability and what appears to be our complete disinterest in studying the effects of Doublespeak. Words have indeed changed their meaning under President Bush and it goes beyond the jingoism that has been a component of American politics for many decades.

The use, meaning and variations of the word insurgent is one of the most clear-cut examples I can think of. The words insurgent and insurgency have been overused in frequency and as an all-encompassing description for describing attacks in Iraq and the words have taken on a new meaning. Late this past week a group of more than 50 “insurgents” attacked a US base in Baqouba, a Sunni stronghold, which required US forces to call in reinforcements. Officials state that only six of the attackers were killed.

When you think of the words insurgent and insurgency what do you think they mean? As time has passed and the use of those words has grown to describe attacks and attackers that range from a single sniper or suicide bomber up to a large, organized group of individuals it seems that the White House, Pentagon, CIA and our press have given the words a whole new meaning. The usage has brought to mind a loose and rag-tag group of individuals, with no strategy other than the use of single attacks and death-by-a-thousand-cuts type of approach to their goals. Small and large attacks are lumped together and over time the real meaning of those words has diluted.

Attacks like the one in Baqouba are not rare, they have now become common and this has fallen almost off the consciousness of the American public. We focus more on the IED and suicide bomber attacks than large-scale operations such as the one in Baqouba. The large-scale attacks are a sign of organization, training and intelligence gathering within the Sunni and Shiite factions and a transformation in theater. My belief is that this is the result of work by the CIA and paramilitary groups such as Blackwater, but this is the subject of a future posting. The subject today is Doublespeak.

Support the troops is another gem from the President and the Republican Party. The recent disclosure that the White House is not backing a small increase in pay for members of the military, as well as an increase in benefit pay to the families and survivors of service members is telling. The pay increases that the White House is against would result in an increase of only $7 per week for a typical E-3 enlisted person (Navy Seaman, Air Force Airman 1st Class, Army PFC or Marine Corp LCPL), but that has been shot down by the administration. They believe their current proposal is “sufficient” for the military. With the scandals that have erupted over treatment of wounded veterans, the constant and deliberate gutting of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the absolute disregard for the well being of our military is all the proof you need to see that “Support the troops” is nothing more than a hollow, insincere attempt to illicit Pavlovian style conditioning from the American public.

The insurgents have now formed militias and their skills grow with each day. Our troops are not being supported by the current Presidential administration regardless of what they claim. These are just two examples of the Doublespeak we must sift through on a daily basis in America. Take the time to think about the other examples you can easily find on the evening news and in your local newspaper.

Friday, May 18, 2007

I always miss the better parties

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) -- A 400-pound gorilla escaped from his enclosure and ran amok in a Rotterdam zoo Friday, biting one woman, dragging her around, and causing panic among dozens of visitors before he was finally subdued, officials and a witness said. The Diergaarde Blijdorp zoo was evacuated and the 11-year-old gorilla, named Bokito, was eventually contained in a restaurant within the park, police spokeswoman Yvette de Rave said. Four people were injured, including the woman who was bitten, zoo director Ton Dorrestijn said.

Too bad that I always miss the great rampaging gorilla parties. I usually wind up at some dive in Doraville sitting between these two. As the Atlanta Rhythm Section used to sing, New York is fine, but it 'aint Doraville.

Has the President declared the entire US population to be enemies of the state?

A significant and terrifying revelation came to light in this week’s round of testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The revelation is subtle and nuanced and a small amount of decoding is necessary to unravel its meaning, but it is there. Former Deputy Attorney General Jim Comey testified that Chief of Staff Andrew Card and White House Counselor Alberto Gonzales attempted to trick then Attorney General John Ashcroft into reauthorizing a domestic eavesdropping program while he was hospitalized. This, of course, is what was widely reported but the details of that program and the reasons why it was not reauthorized is the actual story.

From statements made by government and White House officials from the President all the way down the chain of command, its obvious that they are talking on one level and we are listening on another. This is being brushed aside by many as classic Orwellian Doublespeak but what they say and how they parse their words, combined with their actions and those of the telecommunications industry point to a much more sinister and frightening reality.

First off, most people assume that the comments made by the President and various government officials about this situation are directly focused on the FISA and warrantless wiretap situation. In actuality, when they testify and comment to the press they are actually referring to other programs being run at this very moment. Let’s look at this item by item:

1) FISA – While the focus of the media, political and conspiracy theory commentators and the average citizen has been placed on FISA there are comments being made by those involved in this scandal that are obviously intended to divert our attention away from the authorization of wiretapping program that circumvented FISA. The question has been “why was FISA circumvented?” when the question should have been, “What program are you using that supersedes FISA and under what authorization?”

2) The AT&T/NSA collusion – No one in the government or the telecommunications industry wants us to know more about the authorization which forced the telcos to allow the US Intelligence Community to literally tap into all data and voice transmissions coming and going from US soil. They are attempting to hide something much deeper than what we see on the surface.

3) The program that the White House was trying to trick Ashcroft into authorizing is not FISA or the AT&T/NSA programs. Comey, Gonzales and Bush have admitted so by deflecting questions or giving misleading answers for.

4) The program that the White House sought approval for from Ashcroft was so illegal and so un-Constitutional that every person who refused to sign off on the program threatened to resign if it were authorized.

5) The details of this program are not yet known, but this much is known: the program was indeed authorized by someone and it allows for spying at levels far beyond what we are being told with sweeping powers far beyond the pale of any program in history.

The press and the rest of us make much of the President’s power grabbing exploits and the un-Constitutional aspects of these powers. One thing has been overlooked. In all cases a justification has been made for their legality by Bush neophytes even if the justification is flawed and self-serving. The actual legality and Constitutional standing of these authorizations have not been contested to date because we have not seen the documents that are allowing the programs in question. What we have seen in the form of FISA, the AT&T/NSA wiretapping and even with the torture authorization scandal are appearing to this blogger to be nothing more than a smokescreen. Something is peering from the cracks that are forming in this smokescreen.

My belief, based on Bush administration history is that there is a massive and all-encompassing surveillance program that has been authorized behind the FISA and AT&T/NSA programs that is beginning to be seen in pieces. The White House is desperate to maintain the FISA and AT&T/NSA facade but their actions and words hint that those two cases are not their central concern. Their actions and words are directed at a program that is sitting directly behind those two cases. This program, a Program X as it were, is so invasive and overwhelming that their greatest fear is that it’s existence will be known.

What could this program entail? At this point all we can do is guess but based on the issues at stake, the methods and means used and the severity of the fallout my guess is this:

The President has secretly declared that all Americans are potential enemies of the state and he has authorized all Intelligence Agencies of the federal government to monitor, classify and identify who we are. To expedite this process, all of the major telecommunications providers, the owners of the backbone, have been federalized. In other words, an undeclared and modified state of martial law is in effect. This explanation would cover the lengths the government has gone to in hiding the details of the FISA and AT&T/NSA scandals. It would also explain the curious Doublespeak being used in discussing these cases. What we see our government doing and what it really is doing are two different things. What we are allowed to know and what is easily discovered by investigative journalists are smokescreens to draw our attention away from what lies behind them.

Two politicians walk into a bar...

I often joke with my family that they should never be too disappointed with the black sheep status that I hold by telling them, “Things could be much worse. Imagine if I were a politician. Why, you’d never again be able to walk into the Piggly Wiggly with your head held high.” My favorite politician joke that I tell to close friends is, “What’s the difference between a politician and a prostitute? The Politician is the only one who enjoys the fucking that they are giving.”

What brings these things to mind this morning is a report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution regarding the amount of money given to our illustrious Governor, Sonny Purdue, for his second inaugural ball. AT&T gave him $200,000 and two of our state utility companies gave him a combined $75,000. All of this so a bunch of politicians and businessmen could dress up, get a little drunk, eat fancy food, dance like the white folks they are, and, of course, cut deals.

While it’s legal to do it, it still frustrates me because we all know why they give and spend so much money for fat, balding sociopaths. It makes me wish that my job worked in a similar manner. Imagine if your job held all of the benefits and nuances that are found in the life of a Governor or a Senator.

If that were the case I would work three days a week and I wouldn’t be at the office 52 weeks a year. The customers of the company I work for would give me millions of dollars every year, just to ensure that I keep my job. I’d book first class seats to exotic and beautiful places all over the world to my employer’s bill and call them “fact-finding missions”. If I didn’t want to mingle with the unwashed masses in first class, I’d borrow a company jet from one of my contributors. I’d play the links at Augusta, Pebble Beach and St. Andrews every year.

I’d return the favor, of course. The company clients would get sweet deals on the services we offer and I may even let them write some of the companies policies for employees. I’d let them have full access to our internal network and see all of our files, data and maybe even the data we have for other clients we have. They would get what they want and I’d get my beak wet, as Don Fanucci would say.

Yes, I can definitely see the allure of being a politician. Hmmm..I wonder how important it really is for my Mother to shop at the Piggly Wiggly with her head held high?

News roundup about the missing honeybees

The continuing mystery of the missing honeybees appears to be deepening based on web published news reports I’ve found this morning. The most striking of these reports is an article published in Ireland that provides a good, overall picture of this problem on a worldwide scale. According to the Mayo Advertiser of Athlone, Ireland, the problem is indeed a worldwide phenomenon and the numbers involved are staggering.

The paper reports, “A decline in bee numbers in Europe together with a 50 per cent drop in the number of managed honeybee colonies has been recognised as a global phenomenon known as the “pollination crisis”.” Until now the reports I have read focused only on the problem in America and referenced past examples of this occurring in other countries, but this article is reporting that this event is happening worldwide.

In yet another article, this time from the Hudson-Star Observer of Hudson Wisconsin, a beekeeper interviewed added this interesting observation, “The biggest beekeepers, however, take bees around the country (for a fee) and turn them loose on farmers’ fields, etc. That’s where the disappearing bees are turning up.” There are two ways you can interpret that statement but the way I am interpreting it is that the bees that are disappearing are the bees that are being taken to pollinate crops.

If the bees are disappearing when they are taken to farms to provide pollination services, this is a big smoking gun. It should certainly concern us all as to exactly why those crops are causing the disappearances. Are pesticides to blame? There have been previous colony collapses that were caused by lethal pesticides. Are genetically modified (GM) crops to blame? That angle has been getting a lot more comments from the conspiracy theory community. Environmentalists have debated at length about GM crops for well over a decade now with one processed food manufacturer that I know of (Linda McCartney Foods) banning their use in all foods made by the company.

A final and far more disturbing article comes from The author quotes a Penn State Extension Specialist who said:

"I’ve had several people in Washington, D. C., in the last several months telling me that honey bees are a canary for the human race. The canary is what was used in mines to see whether there was oxygen, or not enough oxygen, for the miners. If the canary fell over, why it was time to get out. And Penn State has already found it looks like the immune system has been broken down on these honey bees. So, if the immune system is broken down and this stuff is going into our food supply, how much does it take to take out humans?

You know, I hate to be pessimistic about the situation, but it just doesn’t appear good."

Later in the interview She continues:

"First of all, a third of the food supply in the United States – and actually the world – a third of the food supply is directly related to the honey bee: fruits, vegetables, nuts, just a lot of stuff that we eat, that we’re accustomed to have every day, the honey bee is directly responsible for it. And then, there is probably another 30% of what we consume that honey bees are indirectly responsible for. Take the milk we drink. The cows have to have hay. They’ve got to eat clover and alfalfa to produce milk. And if you go back and listen to what (Albert) Einstein told us – he said if the honey bees disappeared off the face of the Earth, within four years, all life would be gone. Even the wildlife depends on plants pollinated by the honey bees for berries and so on. So, it’s not just humans not being able to get apples and carrots. We’re talking about a real big, serious problem!"

For more posts on the honeybee mystery click here or click the Honeybees tag at the bottom of this posting.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Has VP Cheney been caught with his pants down?

To be taken with as many grains of salt as possible, Wayne Madsen has been reporting of late that Vice President Dick Cheney is among those who frequented DC Madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey’s escort service when he was the CEO of Haliburton. Madsen, for those who are not familiar, runs an interesting political news website that sometimes has reported both rumor and conjecture as fact and often confuses commentary with reporting. But I still find his website to be valuable and an excellent resource for information because of the questions his reports often leave with me. Madsen’s site is an excellent alternate point of view clearinghouse.

Let me begin this posting by saying that it makes no difference to me what sexual preferences any person has. As long as the partner doesn’t walk on hooves or paws and no one is getting hurt and it’s between consenting adults, go for it folks. I don’t necessarily agree with the whole prostitution angle but if that is where you need to go for sexual fulfillment, by all means, do your thing. Where I do have a problem is when people in positions of power frequent or experiment in alternative sexual means. This isn’t a question of ethics or morality, it’s a purely pragmatic stance I have.

When the CEO of a large, international corporation or a powerful politician, who has a family and reputation to maintain, indulges in sexual promiscuity they open themselves up to the possibility of being blackmailed. If the Vice President is dipping his wick somewhere other than Mrs. Cheney, he is opening himself up to being a victim of blackmail from other politicians, business leaders or the Intelligence Community of other nations. In other words, his sexual desires and tastes can damage his ability to maintain his loyalty to the oath of office. This also opens him up to a potentially embarrassing internationally known scandal.

All men and women in positions of power, political and business, cannot underestimate the lengths that other people, people with agendas of their own, will go to in order to get what they want. The more powerful a position in society that a person holds the greater the need for that person to maintain control of their own desires. This is not only applicable to sexual desires but also true for money and notoriety. When a person in power makes a conscious effort to continue their exploration of sexuality by using more discreet means its simply a sign that even they recognize the necessity of their activities being kept secret. In effect, their actions validate the idea that great risk to themselves and their position is at stake.

If the Vice President has patronized the services of this or any other escort service, he should resign his position. Not because his actions are immoral or unethical, but because his actions have made him a risk to the security of our nation and it’s people.

Herfing (2) from Fred Thompson's coolerdor (1)

I’ve been following the tit for tat exchange between filmmaker Michael Moore and politician/lawyer/actor/cigar lover Fred Thompson with a bit of a smirk on my face. Its not Moore’s filmmaking or Thompson’s political aspirations that is making me smirk, it’s those damn Montecristo cigars that have suddenly jumped into the limelight. I’m a smoker who also has an appreciation for good cigars so this has my attention, even if I’m not a big Montecristo fan, except for aged #2s. La Gloria Cubana, Punch and Sancho Panza are my favorite, go-to cigars actually.

I started smoking premium cigars in 1998 and I understand the allure that those mysterious cigars from the Island South of Miami (ISoMs) can hold over the cigar lover. There is an entire sub-culture and market that deals with these creatures and based on comments I have read over the years from various cigar smokers all over America, they are far more common that you may think. Even in small, middle American towns you can find clutches of illegal Cuban cigars stashed in coolerdors. The owners will freely admit they buy and own them in Internet message boards and they will even mail them to other cigar smokers in Secret Santa style fashion.

With that said let me state that I not only do not own Cuban cigars, I’ve never even smoked one. The reason is simple. I don’t want to deal with the hassle of getting busted over them and paying a fine and losing the cigars in the end over something I know is wrong. It’s not that I have anti-Cuban feelings, I believe buying Cuban cigars is wrong because it is against a law that I feel is just, and buying those cigars does in the end support a regime that I do not believe has the best interest of its citizens in mind. So, I’d rather wait until the day comes when the embargo ends and the market adjusts to the supply and demand after the novelty of legal Cuban cigars passes. When a good, legal, Cuban Punch Churchill is available at my local cigar shop and the price is less than twice that of a Honduran Punch, that’s when I will buy my first Cuban cigar.

Moore has brought attention to a certain segment of cigar smokers that I first came to know around the 2000 Presidential elections. I discovered that there was a certain group of die-hard conservatives who smoked Cuban cigars and had absolutely no problem with the hypocrisy that those two things entailed. It was kind of funny to me when those same people pitched a fit after China captured a Navy spy plane in 2001, complained to high heaven about the Communist Chinese, yet found a way to justify their own purchases and ownership of illegal Cuban cigars. Thompson, apparently, is one of those people too.

From all that I know about fine Cuban cigars I can completely understand wanting them as I too am really looking forward to the day when I can experience the complexity that a Cuban cigar has. Once the embargo ends and the market adjusts I’m going to start stocking my coolerdor with singles and maybe boxes if I find something I really like at a great price. The key to this is “when the embargo ends”.

This episode brings to light Fred Thompson’s real feelings about the law, what is right and personal responsibility can be seen from this episode. Thompson believes that the law applies to you and not himself. He believes that if he wants something, the law is an inconvenient speed bump to what he desires. He believes he is above the law. I wonder what Thompson’s thoughts are on marijuana possession, driving under the influence and tax evasion. Those are all illegal too just as is possession of embargo era Cuban cigars. Thompson’s possession of illegal cigars is simply a sign of what is really happening in this country. Those in positions of true power view the laws that you and I must follow and something that does not apply to them. They put their wants and desires above the rest of us and they have no problems with flaunting that in our faces.

(1) A coolerdor is a large cigar humidor made out of a large ice chest, usually an Igloo or Coleman brand.

(2) Herf is that Godawful looking facial expression all cigar smokers make while trying to get a good draw and a good mouthful of smoke from a particularly robust cigar.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

We are all casualties in the War on Drugs

One of the most simple and effective ways of controlling the thoughts and actions of the American public is, and always has been, the War on Drugs. Through this “War”, those who hold true power in this country can redirect the anger, dissatisfaction and sense of justice that the citizens become self-aware of as a collective entity every few years. This allows those in power to shape the common ideal of who is desirable and undesirable as Americans and who can be scapegoat for punishment. The most vulnerable of our society, those with little or no money and those with no political or economic leverage are the ones who are targeted for punishment.

We allow this to happen because we are conditioned to accept the jingoism of the propaganda created by our political and business leaders. The payoff we receive for unquestionably following the conditioning is the promise that someone, who is always stereotyped as less worthy and productive as the rest of us, will be ostracized from our society and incarcerated. We will be given a self-fulfilling sense of pleasure that “good” is being done for our society at large and that our self-righteousness will lead to greater safety in our own homes and for our loved ones. The beneficiaries of this propaganda are not the average citizens; the beneficiary is in fact the ones who maintain economic, political and theocratic control over America.

Poverty and lack of education are often cited as the two main causes of drug addiction. My belief is that while drug addiction is indeed a socio-economic problem, the actual root cause is hopelessness and pain. Poverty may increase the chances a person will become an addict but a lack of good paying jobs, fear of what tomorrow may bring and an ultimate sense of “giving in” to the futility of being a “tilting windmill” is what causes the impoverished to turn to drugs. The emotional pain that comes with this act of giving in is no different than what is felt by the victims of tragedy or abuse. The latter, tragedy and abuse are aspects of drug abuse that know no socio-economic boundaries.

No one aspires to be a drug addict when they are young. Addicts turn to this vice in response to what they believe about the outside world or to numb internal pain. Feeling good or better than your outlook on life is alluring, deadening pain is critical when all you feel is pain. These are traits that are shared with not only the addict but also the casual drug users who often get caught in the net of the War on Drugs. Their fate of the recreational user is the same as the addict if they do not have economic or political ties that may shield them from the full brunt on the American legislative and judicial branches.

The closed loop system of drug abuse, drug addiction, drug trafficking, drug legislation, enforcement of drug laws, state mandated drug treatment and incarceration is self-sustaining and needs little outside stimulus to maintain itself. The War on Drugs and a variety of legislative practices do not limit or reduce this system but instead cause growth of the system, which in turn increases the size and power of government as an end result. Society does not benefit from drug addiction and the War on Drugs does not benefit society either. This “War” merely marginalizes citizens and dehumanizes the victims of addiction as well as the one-off cases of individuals who self medicate for the treatment of any professionally diagnosed medical condition that decreases the quality of life of the patient.

The central method the government uses in delivering anti-drug propaganda is to demonize all drug users as deviant, dangerous and crazed. They are portrayed as immoral and outsiders of accepted society. This removes any and all sympathy the average citizen may have for the victims of drug addiction. Punishment of drug offenders satisfies the sadistic and vengeful impulses of the citizenry.

If 10 meth labs were raided in a single day, in a single state, and only 1 person was arrested for possession of the drug, the law enforcement agencies would use the single arrest of a user as justification for increasing their funds and power. The labs would be verification that their policies and laws are valid, the single drug addict would be the sign that even more needs to be done.

Law enforcement, judicial and penal systems do not grow when crime rates are down. All three of those systems need a constant rise or growth of crime to not only maintain their funding but in reality they need an increase of crime to justify what they always demand, more money. What those systems gain from the War on Drugs is far more than just public funding. What they gain is greater control of the public at large and in the end they gain a person’s money, property and life.

When a person is arrested for possession of drugs, depending on the type of drug and the amount of the drug they are arrested for, the following things occur:

1) The accused is now added to the state and local drug crime statistics.

2) The accused may try to make bail or bond out of jail, which adds money to the local bail bonding industry. If the accused does not show up for their hearings, trial dates or sentencing date the bail or bond is forfeited to the state or local coffers.

3) The accused must seek legal representation, which they may or may not be able to afford. If they can afford the legal expenses they are adding money to the local legal community. If they cannot afford representation they must petition the court, which places an added burden on the government budget.

4) If the accused is found guilty they will be paying fines, which adds to the government income. They may spend time in jail, prison or on probation and in all three cases a burden is placed on the government’s budget.

5) The guilty may have to forfeit all property they own to the government depending on the law they violated. This also adds to the government coffers when the property is auctioned to the public.

6) If the guilty receives a prison sentence there is a strong likelihood that they will be forced to provide cheap labor while incarcerated, which also adds to the government’s coffers.

7) The government will use that person’s arrest and conviction in its statistical reports for its budgets. With an increase of crime, especially targeted crime there is a corresponding demand from law enforcement to gain funding to combat that crime.

8) Once the guilty is released from prison they now have a criminal record that will adversely affect their ability to gain honest and good paying employment. This reduces the taxable income that the government can access and it can add to a burden to other government programs such as welfare if the guilty has to support a family.

9) If the guilty is desperate enough they may turn to a full time life of crime that adds to this cycle.

This doesn’t include the ancillary charges that can be brought up against most addicts and dealers. Possession of illegal weapons, tax fraud, possession of stolen goods and many other ancillary crimes are committed by both the addicts and the dealers who live in the world of drug addiction. With the rise in meth labs being raided what we also see is a number of child endangerment cases as well and homeowners and apartment managers who rent to a person who runs a meth lab on their premises are also looking at massive bills to cleanup what are now being defined by the EPA as contaminated sites.

The War on Drugs as it has been waged does not address the root causes or the prevention of drug addiction. It targets users and sellers of illicit drugs to fund it’s own goals, expand the reach of government over it’s citizens and centralize the people who benefit from the spoils of this war. Its sole purpose is to consolidate power, perpetuate itself and ignore the root causes of the war.

A person can provide and contribute more to the overall health of society by being a tax paying, law abiding and conscientious citizen. All people in a community share in the wealth that comes from keeping people happy and employed as the citizens will pay taxes, work to improve their standing in society, help their fellow citizens and reduce the burden of the cost of government by being model citizens. Why is the War on Drugs focused on finding the addicts, drug suppliers and drug manufacturers and “eliminating” them instead of eliminating the factors that lead it’s citizens to create and fuel the demand for drugs?

If a society were to reverse the flow of funds from the legislative, judicial, law enforcement and penal systems that drain resources and talent for this War on Drugs and direct those funds to repairing the problems that cause drug addiction what would be the end result? What would need to be addressed?

As I mentioned earlier, it is my belief that drug addiction begins in the local community. When there is little or no hope for the citizens of a local community or if there is no advocacy of people who suffer emotional trauma, those people will turn to substance abuse to deaden their sense of pain. This means that local communities must maintain a strong local economy and provide medical treatment for those people who have suffered deep emotional trauma if they wish to reduce the drug problem in their community.

Local communities are severely limited by how much money they can generate from their citizenry. Property and sales taxes, possibly a small income tax, are all they can draw from. Too much taxation and they stifle the economic viability of their community. They have necessary services that they must provide such as law enforcement, maintaining roads and utility services. This leaves little for reinvesting into the promotion of the local economy. Providing basic medical care for its citizens is out of the question under these conditions.

Under these conditions a local community would need funding from the state and federal government to provide greater economic investment opportunities and medical care for its citizens. States have a much greater reservoir of taxable resources than local governments. They can tax not only income and property but they can also tax the sales of fuels, targeted business and industrial sectors, as well as taxing the use of its road systems via tolls. The state also has the same budgetary issues of providing necessary services but its pool of taxable resources is much greater and the state can also provide basic medical care for its citizens.

To address economic growth and medical care for its citizens the state is in a much better financial position to address those needs than a local government but they still do not have the massive resources that the federal government has. Not only can the federal government collect income and property tax from its citizens it can also tax imported goods from other nations, negotiate the interest rates it must pay for loans, it can also generate funds by charging for a much wider range of services that it oversees. Telecommunications services, postal and other communication channels and medical coverage are prime examples of federal government generating income outside taxation.

Let’s suppose for a moment that the funnel of funding and disbursal of funds were aimed at state and local governments instead of keeping the pool of money at the federal level and spending it on federal programs. State and local governments could share the burden of economic growth by sharing the funds directed at them. State governments could address general and physical health concerns and the local community could be funded to address the mental health of its citizens by creating local community hospitals, hiring mental health professionals and providing both long-term and short-term assistance to its citizens. Victims of assault, natural disasters and poor upbringing could be offered high quality mental health care from professionals who live and are a part of their local community. The driving interest of improving your community and empowering your fellow citizens is a powerful lure to many and this quality can be found in teachers as well.

The local government would benefit from this by having a larger group of healthy, happy and optimistic citizens. This base of workers would in turn be appealing to private business not only because of the capability to maintain quality in the production of its goods and services, but also for the lower overhead that would arise because they would no longer need to provide or assist in the payment of health care services for its employees.

The state government would benefit because a large pool of happy, healthy and optimistic citizens contribute to the overall quality of economic selling points it can make to businesses who are considering a move to their state. The more businesses you have in your state and the more they produce, the greater the amount of money that can be generated by a state government in the form of taxes. Healthier, happier and more optimistic citizens and companies will steadily raise their incomes over their lifetime, which leads to more money generated by taxation.

The federal government benefits off this scenario by lower overall costs for medical care, a lower cost for providing social services, a lower cost in the enforcement of its laws since there would be a decrease in crime and it sees a greater tax base from which to draw from.

Addressing the root causes of addiction reduces the overall problem of drugs by taking away the demand for drugs. There would, of course, be a group of people that cannot be helped or aided no matter how much money is spent trying to help them. We as people have free will and we have to accept that some people simply would not accept help or want to change their lives. This is a fact of human nature that cannot be avoided but it should not be used as an excuse to not address the root problem. The key to this aspect of the War on Drugs is to recognize that the numbers of people who are beyond reach is small in comparison to the sheer volume of people that are swept into the net under our current policies. They, like career criminals, are a portion of society who will not change their behavior and they are a much smaller segment than we are currently dealing with.

This scenario as I described will never be addressed seriously. It may be hinted at or even discussed in a general sense, but it will not be addressed seriously at the higher levels of power in this nation. The reason is simple. The way we currently address the drug problem narrows the group of people who actually benefit short and long-term in the War on Drugs. These people bring true and pure power to the problem and sharing the benefits and wealth of the War on Drugs is not what they want. Who, then, benefits from the status quo in this war?

On the first level of the war, law enforcement gains funds and power. Law enforcement is the foot soldier and pawn of those in power. Law enforcement allegiance is bought and sold by those who wield true and pure power. In some instances the US Military is used in the same way as law enforcement in the war on drugs. They also act as a kind of canary in a coal mine when those at the top of the chain of power want something. If the ends they wish are new laws that restrict the freedoms of Americans, the means of that goal would be to make the law enforcement officials demand new laws to be enacted that they claim will make Americans safer. Use the statistics gathered from arrests to validate the point and people will fall into line when this propaganda is used.

The second level of this war is comprised of the individuals and companies who make a profit off this war. This level includes the obvious people and groups such as lawyers and corrections departments but there is an entire multi-billion dollar industry that drives this second level. That industry comprises companies such as Wackenhut and Aramark who provide outsourced services to the correctional facility industry by providing administrative, maintenance and food services to jails and prisons. Also in this level are the companies who make millions of dollars each year in the construction of new jails and prisons. This is the middle area where cash can be split, transferred and washed by those at the bottom and the top.

The third level of this war is the legislative and judicial branches of government, who provide the legal precedents, legal representation and oversee the funding for this war. These people guide the direction of the war to enhance and expand their power. They have even carried this power to the point where every citizen is considered a criminal regardless of what they actually do with their lives. All one has to do is look at the current missions of the US Intelligence Community and what it is doing in the NSA spying scandal as well as the process that the Intelligence Community uses when it accesses the private databases of companies such as ChoicePoint, to see that we all are being actively monitored in an attempt to not only catch us in the act of committing crimes but to predict when and/or if we will commit crimes.

The War on Drugs is a facet of a much larger operation of consolidating true power into a small group of individuals. Its sole purpose is to create instability in our communities, breed paranoia and suspicion about our fellow citizens and marginalize and target a select group of our own citizens. The very select few gain in this while the vast majority of Americans pay the price. The true price is our freedom and rights.

Even if you and I take no drug stronger than aspirin, we are still a part of the War on Drugs. We pay the price with a weaker community, a weaker economy and a more powerful government. We pay the price because we are under constant surveillance by our government and its representatives. The price we pay is our freedom.

Who would Jesus bomb?

James "The Dachshund Molester" Dobson has talked about a recent meeting that he and 12 other right-wing Christian extremists had with President Bush. The subject, bombing the living hell out of Iran. Godwins Law was also invoked as the President of Iran was compared to Adolph Hitler. In other words, it was a typical day in the Bush White House.

Among Dobson's comments are some real winners:

Dobson described Bush as “upbeat and determined and convinced, adding, “I
wish the American people could have sat in on that meeting we had.”

Yes Mr. Dobson, the rest of the country also wishes that The President would be less secretive, more open and actually mingle with the common folks of this country. We wish he would talk with us as well, even better would be if he actually listened to us.

“I heard about this danger [from Iran] not only at the White House but from
other pro-family leaders that I met during that week in Washington," he said.
“Many people in a position to know are talking about the possibility of losing a
city to nuclear or biological or chemical attack. And if we can lose one we can
lose ten.

False Flag Op in the cooking? Why do "Pro-Life" leaders have access to intelligence that Dobson is alluding to? Never mind, I answered my own questions.

Dobson continued, “Some of our listeners might not like that but I tell you,
if we didn't stand up to Hitler, we'd be speaking German today.”

Godwin's Law at your service. I think Dobson needs to re-read his history books and revisit the time just before the onset of WWII and our entry into the war. But, Dobson's history books probably tell him that dinosaurs walked the earth with man, so I doubt that his source material would be worth a damn.

All in all, another day another Christian extremist kook on the loose. With Falwell now just a bad memory it's time for Dobson to go viral.

Monday, May 14, 2007

More bad news regarding Chinese food imports

There are more developments in the melamine tainted food scandal to report. According to Scientific American, US investigators looking into the source of the contamination have toured two food processing facilities that were identified as being the source. The investigators found both factories closed, "We visited the two facilities and there is essentially nothing to be found because they are closed down," said Walter Batts, head of FDA's office of international investigations. An FDA team has been in China since April 30.”

This leads me to a question that neither Scientific American asked nor the inspectors volunteered, if the factories were shuttered and the machinery dismantled, how can they be sure that these really were the facilities that made the tainted wheat gluten? It sounds to me that the investigators were taken to a facility that leads them on the proverbial wild goose chase.

The Contra Costa Times recently ran an editorial comment about the scandal which brought to light another aspect of our food safety, or lack thereof, of which I did not know. According to the article’s author, John E. Peck, milk protein concentrate is an industrial-grade ingredient that has found it’s way into our food chain as well with absolutely no governmental oversight or safety review. Milk protein concentrate is used to make adhesives and is also used in adulterated cheese products which range in type from nutritional drinks, candies and potato chips. It is also used in several Kraft products such as Velveeta cheese, Mac ‘n Cheese and Kraft Singles.

In yet another related story, the director of the Mississippi Poison Control Center is giving a two-thumbs up style approval to catfish imported from China that was found to contain antibiotics that are illegal for use in the US. "Would I personally worry about eating this? No, not in any way," Cox said. "I'd serve it to my family and my children. And I'm not advocating that we eat Asian catfish either, I'm just saying I'm not worried that there's a danger there." Yet these antibiotics were found to be so dangerous that they were banned from use in food producing animals in the US in 1997.

And one final side note about these wonderful, healthy and safe products being imported from China, approximately 100 Panamanians have died after taking cough syrup that was manufactured in China. The company that made the medicine added a chemical that is similar to antifreeze and it was not authorized to manufacture medicines in the first place.

Bon apetite!