October 30, 2006



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upclose and personal

A fan was somehow reminded of Dakota when she saw The Hula Ghoul, and didn't think twice about dropping a sawbuck for such a perfect dashboard ornament. Hula Ghoul comes with a pastee, so that she can be mounted firmly on one's airbag for dancing while driving.

This is just to say that all of us here at Dakota wish you the happiest of Halloweens

Not scared enough?

The Hula Ghoul will take care of that.

Photo note: As Above

Addendum: Forget the frivolity, do not miss important voting information posted below.

Posted by Dakota at 07:24 PM

Voting the e-way


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Just because things are looking up for a democratic victory in congress, doesn't mean that we will have a fair election. In fact, there is many a rat to be found inside our spanking new e-voting machines -- on which, I am sure, precincts have spent a pretty penny.

Black Box Voting has been following this issue since 2005 when our own Government Accountability Office issued a poorly publicized report on flaws in electronic voting.

Movies anyone?

Even CNN is suspicious

Video the Vote 2006

In the ASK THIS column over at NeimanWatchdog.org, the website run by Harvard's Neiman Fellows, the world's finest journalists, Lawrence Norden , an attorney doing voting systems analysis at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU, has a list of questions journalists (and we) should all be asking:

More last-minute questions about e-voting

Are you ready for an electronic voting nightmare in your area? Are your election officials? Here are some questions for before and after the upcoming elections.

In the coming days, ask:

Q. How many emergency paper ballots will each polling place have available in case machines break down? Do you have clear procedures in place for distribution and use of such ballots? What are they? Will these ballots be counted under all circumstances, or will they be treated as "provisional" ballots?

Q. Do your voting machines have wireless components, and if so, will they be disabled on Election Day?

Q. Do you have independent election workers (as opposed to employees or contractors from the vendor) who can offer technical support for dealing with the electronic voting machines? If so, how many hours training have they received on these machines?

Q. Do all polling places have a list of key phone numbers to contact in the event of emergencies during the election that might affect the ability of voters to cast votes? How many personnel will you have available to answer such calls?

On the eve of election and afterward, ask:

Q. What steps were taken to ensure that totals printed out at the polling place were accurately recorded and totalled at the county tally server? Were pollworkers asked to check the Web and newspapers against copies of their polling place totals to ensure that the tally server correctly tallied their polling place votes?

Q. What were the procedures for getting vote totals and audit information (i.e., Event Logs, VVPAT records, paper ballots, machine printouts of totals) from each polling place to the central county office? Who transported this information? What measures were in place to ensure that they were delivered securely?

Also see David Dill's Last-minute questions about e-voting from October 18.

For more background on electronic voting and voting security, see Lawrence Norden's November 2005 item for NiemanWatchdog.org: Following up on an important GAO report on electronic voting and other NiemanWatchdog.org items on this important issue.

Of course the Republicans ,always ready to even the immorality score, are projecting again, shouting unfair, and establishing extra barriers for voters in key states

Rather than asking questions, why not be proactive? After all, once an election is stolen, we don't go back (see 2000 and 2004) Here are instructions for hacking the vote. I'd do it for you folks, but I'm such a technodummy, I can't even register. This is as far as I got.

Photo note: Ronnie and Nancy bedroom slippers, shot in an antique shop this summer. Ah, it makes one long for the good old days. Simply slip them on, and step all over voter's rights.

Addendum: Don't they look like they're feeling bad about what they started?

Posted by Dakota at 07:08 PM

October 28, 2006

Burning Throat, Burning Man


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Still blogging from bed, fever and a sore throat like I haven't had since my tonsils were snipped from my throat at age four. No strep, evidently, but you could fool me.

I'm findng it hard not to sluff viri onto others. On the positive side, this is providing a wonderful opportunity to practice good hygiene in the age of ebola, and, since swallowing is enormously painful, it's very good for my diet. There are even those who say that my throat chakra is being cleared for public speaking. Sadly, I have very little about which to speak publicly, so it hardly seems worth it.

In the meantime, in keeping with the feverish theme, take a look at these spectacular photos from Burning Man 2006. I recommend thumbing through the full collection.

Photo note: The stuffed foot of an antique doll lying in a wicker carriage -- don't even ask. I'm sick.

Posted by Dakota at 06:52 PM

October 27, 2006

Sunni and Shi'ite :An Attempt to Illuminate the Differences


Jeff Stein, from the New York Times, has been giving a pop quiz in Washington lately, the question being "Can You Tell a Shiite from a Sunni?" You may be horrified, as was I, to learn that muckymucks high in FBI counterintelligence, as well as the (Republican) head of the house intelliigence subcommittee flunked.

When I recovered from my shock, I got honest with myself, and had to admit that I, too, lack clarity around this issue. Bet you do too. If you don't, please develop a chart and forward it to me.

Fortunately, I have the internet to fill the holes in my brain, at least temporarily, and I got to work.

I found a REALLY short summary, that's too esoteric, and reductionistic, but makes up for those flaws with brevity. It passed the Dakota Attention Span Test. I was really looking for that chart, to no avail.

Ibrahim Al-Shawi, blogger and author of "A Glimpse of Iraq" offers us The Basics, which are longer and much more readable. This is not a simple subject. He has an nice section on the switching back and forth that used to go on for neighborly and tax reasons.

Reza Aslan tells the most poetic story

In the interest of proselytization the always hopeful Evangelical Christians, have done their homework. From their perspective, the Shi'ah are more Jesus friendly, and therefore are more likely to welcome a Christian missionary in their midst. Frankly, I think their timing is off.

It seems preferable to live under the Sunnis from a woman's point of view, except in the inheritance department (see The Basics).

For those audio learners among you , NPR interviewed Victor Tanner of The Brookings Institute about the increasing chasm between the Sunni's and the Shi'ites in Baghdad. As in Northern Ireland, where Catholics and Protestants were fiercely divided, sect membership it is now a matter of life and death.

In most of the world, these differences don't matter very much. However there are lessons to be learned about fanning the flames of difference that we in the USofA might take to heart

If anyone thinks of it -- you might forward this to the FBI, or, now that you're an expert, get to work on that chart.

Photo note: Got the illumination part, even though the minaret leaves much to be desired. A girl has to settle for what pops up in her environment.

Posted by Dakota at 05:42 PM

October 26, 2006

From a Weakened State


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This is a metaphorophoto. You can understand it as a picture of what I'd like to do with my head and neck in my afflicted state, or a product of listening to the radio much of the day, and hearing "the undecideds" think they just might prefer "a change".

Here's the transcript from W's private conference with the "conservative" press. Head overboard! Head overboard! Here's an IQ by state map to go with it.

Photo note: A purloined photo from the fourth story balcony of the DeCordova Museum. I am too sick to find the name of the artist for you.

Posted by Dakota at 04:34 PM

October 25, 2006

Too Sick to Blog Effectively


I have risen from my sickbed to post this morning -- sore throat, creepy crawly skin, temp, deathly look (as above)-- hope you don't get it.

Important things happen, and they leave no time for luxuriating on the fainting couch. You might consider donning one of the 3M95N respirators from your preparation collection before you continue.

First we have new "benchmarks"-- timetables are out - benchmarks are in, for withdrawal from Iraq. I heard them on NPR at 5AM, and said aloud, that's all? that's it? but now, of course, I can't locate them. Suffice it to say that the pollish pressures are on, You always know something is up in this administration when they get insistent about a particular word or phrase.

Having the flu has reminded me to check in with my favorite epidemiologist over at Effect Measure who has hada decent withdrawal plan since 2005. War and war mongers are, after all, a terrible public health problem.

And through it all, Keith Olbermann waxes eloquent.

Photo note: A corner of the Day of the Dead window at Nomad. Did I mention that my eyes are glassy too.

Posted by Dakota at 09:29 AM

October 24, 2006

Of Course


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more of the neighborhood

The Wall Street Journal has taken to quoting Bush verbatim, and it's actually rather alarming.

President Bush said he sometimes uses Google’s satellite mapping program to transport him back to his ranch in Crawford, Texas. In a CNBC interview with Maria Bartiromo, Bush was asked a question on many of our minds: “I’m curious, have you ever Googled anybody? Do you use Google?” According to CNBC’s unofficial transcript, he replied: “Occasionally. One of the things I’ve used on the Google is to pull up maps. It’s very interesting to see that. I forgot the name of the program, but you get the satellite and you can — like, I kind of like to look at the ranch on Google, reminds me of where I want to be sometimes. Yeah, I do it some.” He added: “I tend not to email or — not only tend not to email, I don’t email, because of the different record requests that can happen to a president. I don’t want to receive emails because, you know, there’s no telling what somebody’s email may — it would show up as, you know, a part of some kind of a story, and I wouldn’t be able to say, `Well, I didn’t read the email.’ `But I sent it to your address, how can you say you didn’t?’ So, in other words, I’m very cautious about emailing.”

This is probably why he sticks to ye olde reliable sound byte. It's easier on the deteriorating frontal cortex. Unfortunately "stay the course", when referring to the war in Iraq , is no longer available, due to poor poll performance. In fact we are busy erasing the phrase from history. If the President used "the Google" more he'd see that it might be a bigger project than expected.

Dan Froomkin, consistantly reports like the Neiman Scholar that he is:

The most obvious example came on Sunday, when ABC News broadcast an interview in which Bush denied he had ever advocated staying the course. Here's the text of the interview, which was conducted on Wednesday. Anchor George Stephanopoulos was asking Bush about comments from James A. Baker III, who has said that the independent commission he co-chairs is pursuing alternatives to "cut and run" or "stay the course" in Iraq. Said Bush: "Well, listen, we've never been stay the course, George. We have been -- we will complete the mission, we will do our job and help achieve the goal, but we're constantly adjusting the tactics, constantly." White House counselor Dan Bartlett used almost the exact same words this morning on CBS News's " Early Show ": "It's never been a stay the course strategy." But as the liberal Think Progress blog so definitively pointed out yesterday, Bush repeatedly has described his strategy in precisely those terms. "We will stay the course." ( 8/30/06 ) "We will stay the course, we will complete the job in Iraq." ( 8/4/05 ) "We will stay the course until the job is done, Steve. And the temptation is to try to get the president or somebody to put a timetable on the definition of getting the job done. We're just going to stay the course." ( 12/15/03 ) "And my message today to those in Iraq is: We'll stay the course." ( 4/13/04 ) And so on. With "stay the course" polling poorly, what Bush and Bartlett apparently are trying to do is get credit for the fact that the tactics in Iraq have and will continue to change, while at the same time insisting that their overall strategy and goals remain unchanged -- and sound.

On Friday, Froomkin had this analysis:

It's often said that the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. But there may be nothing that goes against President Bush's nature more than doing just that. [that's because he sobered up with the wrong organization -Dak] When it comes to Iraq, Bush's political strategy in the run-up to the mid-term elections has been to stress the possible downsides of the "cut and run" approach -- civil war, increased carnage, instability at the heart of the Middle East, Iraq as a base for terror -- while refusing to acknowledge that his "stay the course" approach, ironically, appears to be delivering all those things and more. Now, a presidency that has been all about aggression risks a major public rebuff as a sizeable majority of the Americans appears to have accepted what Bush can't: That his brassy approach has backfired -- and that it's we who are getting beaten up. Evidently, something needs to change. But what? The Bush White House (and its press corps) often confuse tactics, strategy and goals. Tactics are what you use in the service of the strategy you choose to achieve your goal. Even the best tactics, in pursuit of an ill-chosen strategy, will not achieve the desired goal. Bush's goal is a stable, secure, democratic Iraq. His strategy is for American troops to stay there until that happens. The tactics are getting those troops killed. And while the president has been talking about adjusting tactics lately, he can't accept that his strategy may need changing -- or even his goal. At least not yet.

Speaking of courses, all of us here at Dakota are very fond of cycling, and thought we would all enjoy a little exercise this morning.

Photo note: "the course" out front of the compound where the President learned to ride his bike -- those were the days before bike helmets. .Heaven knows what may have happened.

Addendum: Of course, the film

Posted by Dakota at 06:14 AM

October 23, 2006



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This is the only cliche photo I'm going to publish from my weekend in the Kennybunks. For more views you can go to the K'bunk website.

It is, of course, a shopping mecca. Businesses in every crevice, bursting with precious dustcatchers for tourists, who arrive by land and by sea, to luxuriate, or at least gape. It made a girl think about privilege, and how southern coastal Maine oozes with it (interspersed with occasional pockets of honkeytonk -- and , even these, are suffering from condoization and gentrification)


I know I promised to shoot Barbie and #41, I thought I might catch them dining at the White Barn Inn, a "Realis & Chateau" restaurant catering to the narcissistic character disorder. The food was good, and the service obsequious to the point of hilarity. A complimentary pre appetizer (a sliver of smoked salmon laid over something exotic but forgettable) was served, as was a complimentary predessert, (strawberry puree with orange "foam"), a complimentary post dessert (homemade chocolates and little cookies) and a post post dessert (little coconut cakes ). It feels important to add that regular dessert (a pecan delice, if you must know), is included in the prix fixe menu. Frankly, it was more dessert than necessary Cocktails were also apologetically complimentary, since the seven minute wait was considered too long for royalty such as I.

I did bike past the compoundwhich isn't that far from the road on a Maine point. I think they must be in Saudi, since the secret service wasn't around. I did photograph it, but there are those who shot it much more dramatically than I did. The house just across the street, perhaps three football fields away, is for sale. If you're interested give Southeby's a ring. Its kind of a cute neighborhood.

Back in town, I was heartened to see that not everyone in the K'bunks is Republican. Somebody's gotta catch the lobster, I guess.



a href="http://www.twentyfirstcenturyart.com/dakota/mt/images/PA210072_aa_480.html" onclick="window.open('http://www.twentyfirstcenturyart.com/dakota/mt/images/PA210072_aa_480.html','popup','width=480,height=640,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0'); return false">sign over the door

Wherever there is clapboard, iron work and vinyl storm windows, I succumb.

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Some places were closed


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I have a ton of pictures, but these will have to suffice due to time considerations. I shall push the button now.

Posted by Dakota at 07:23 AM

October 20, 2006

Have a Nice Weekend


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Keith Olbermann, bless his heart, is still at it. If he misses a broadcast we'll know where to look.

But Dakota, you say, what about all `those raping and pillaging republicans, suffering from power overages who are about to lose their seats because they are either in disrepute or jail?

Ahh..hh.h, I say there are those besides Olberman who smell rat. They are raising the important question , "Why is Karl Rove smiling?"

From Lyn Davis Lear, just in case your brain fogged over when you saw all those wordy clickies:

Here are some questions: Are these guys simply narcissistic idiots Rove-ing around in some never-never land bubble or do they know something we don't? Have they planned a grab bag nose punch of an October/November surprise? Or have Diebold, ES&S, and local state secretaries assured them that they will do "whatever it takes" to get a Republican Congress elected again? Or are they just planning to outspend us? Karl Rove recently told the Washington Times, "For most Americans, particularly the marginal voters who are going to determine the outcome of the election, it started a couple of weeks ago... Between now and the election we will spend $100 million in target House and Senate races in the next 21 days". That is $30 million a week in 15 or 16 key races. Knowing this group, the answers must lie in a clever blitzkrieg combo of all of the above.

When I asked Gore Vidal at dinner [ she's Norman Lear's third, and hangs out with that crowd- Dak] why the White House seemed so serene and at ease about the vote, he replied that, this time around, the Bush-Cheney henchmen could simply call on martial law. He glumly noted that we are so far down the road toward totalitarianism that, even if Democrats do win back the Congress, it would take at least two generations before the last six years of damage to the nation could be reversed. Gore frankly despaired that any amount of time could ever return the country to where and what it previously was. This prediction left me reaching for some Fernet Branca. [see what I mean about that crowd? -Dak]

Hark! I thought I heard a hand grenade hit my bureau.

Photo note: The American flag, hooked, faded, thin, frayed, tied in a knot. And you thought it couldn't get worse

Personal note: I am off to Kennybunkport, Maine for the weekend to celebrate my ability to avail myself of senior discounts, if I so choose, though it is often my preference to disguise myself as a thirty five year old. If I see Barbie or HW, you knowjust what I'll do. They couldn't deny a little old lady.

Posted by Dakota at 07:17 AM

October 19, 2006

Tipping point


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This morning I was laboring over a poem about President Bush, the gist of which was that his family purchased all the finest for him --- an ivy league education, a whole baseball team, a spot in the National Guard during a war, an oil company, the governorship of a big state, but....

They bought his soul at Walmart.

Wouldn't that make a rollicking chorus to a country western song? Unfortunately, I have neither the time nor the ear to set it to music, or even make it rhyme, for that matter.

Since the poem wasn't exactly flowing, I decided to give away the punch line (see above). Now I no longer feel obligated to make it into a piece of art, sweet relief

After my decision to toss the punch line, I found myself sifting through the archives for a fitting foto.

And what, pray tell, popped up? Yesterday's unattractive shot of a window with a chalked clickie underneath. I did not, as you can see, take the picture for anything other than informational purposes.


I decided to transmogrify the address onto my google bar, however, and just look at
what I found -- documentation of a tipping point, complete with inside story, thus ,renewing my spirit.

So much for Walmart souls.

Photo note: The Marimekko Store is back! The Marimekko Store is back! after forty years, and right around the corner from my office. It reminds me of my days at university when Scandanavian design was all the rage. This is their window.. The red bench belongs to the bus stop, but it's fabulous. I couldn't bring myself to lead with the other window picture.

Addendum: More uplifting news. Just think, we could kill two birds with one stone

Addendum:(not for the office or the feint of heart) alternative sweet relief)

Posted by Dakota at 06:51 AM

October 18, 2006


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It really frosted all of us here at Dakota this morning when we heard NPR referring to Harry Reid"s questionable land deal. We thought that was clarified long ago. Read the inside poop under the clickie. I smell a Swift Boat.

Now that Republican corruption and opportunism have been unmasked again and again, there is a concerted effort by Republican strategists to suggest that ALL politicians are as sleazy as they are. Some of us listened to Ralph Nader when he said that George W.Bush and Al Gore were just the same, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, I believe he said. I think we have come to see the difference ever so clearly .

Photo note: Tweedledee, Tweedledum, and their offspring, Tweedledeedee, frosted, and shot at Ocean State Job Lot, your source for disasterpreparation supplies at a reasonable price.

Posted by Dakota at 06:56 AM | TrackBack

October 17, 2006

Guess Who?


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As even the oligarchic Wall Street Journal reports that the President's approval ratings are dropping, Bush has embraced a new buzz word for what is happening around him -- "unacceptable". Catchy, in an imperial sort of way.

Using such a categorical term is not that surprising after a policy setback, according to Steven Kull, a political psychologist who directs the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes. Some people deal with failures, Kull said, "by intensifying an authoritarian posture and insisting that their preferences are equivalent to a moral imperative."

No doubt Bush is finding some of his old suck buddies unacceptable too, and the feelings are mutual. He's reportedly ripped at Andrew Card for telling the truth to that lousey turncoat, Bob Woodward, and he's, undoubtedly, equally displeased by David Kuo, God bless him.

Bush's own dear dad, who must have thought he was through bailing his son out of fratty addict jams, keeping him gainfully employed, deleting National Guard records, etc, is showing some signs of discomfort again, while he watches his black sheep bully of a son destroy the world.

Moisés Naím, the editor in chief of Foreign Policy magazine, said there is a relationship between "how strident and extreme" the language of many leaders is and how limited their options are. For Bush, Naím said, "this comes at a time when the world is convinced he is weaker than ever."

Frankly, all of us here at Dakota find fascism quite unacceptable. I guess that makes us liberal.

Photo note: Our own Tex Mex version of the picture of Dorian Gray, in honor of Bush's phoney persona and support for immigration. Take note of the black hat, and the gleam of gold in them thar eyes. It may mean something.

Posted by Dakota at 06:46 AM

October 15, 2006

Playing, well, God


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Will Wright, of SimCity fame, is about to launch new video game. It's called Spore and it allows the operator to play God, or, more accurately, identify with God's big dilemma.

In the game of Spore, the player is, let us say, consciousness and light, and has the capacity to construct a complex world from a single cell. From this tiny morsel containing, pardon the expression, the breath of life, a player can generate something that is not only alive and kicking (if only its scillia ), but procreating. During the procreation process little idiosyncratcies add up to alot of biodiversity. Slowly but surely, a more and more complex containers develop to hold the breath of life --and then, Bingo! You some creatures with a bit of consciousness.

As the game continues, the semi conscious beings begin to work together to develop societies. When the societies notice one another, some of them don't join to create even more complex containers, they tend to destroy one another. As Will Wright points out:

When your tribe has reached a sufficient level of sophistication, it will begin to form cities, and the player shifts to issues of trade and commerce or constructing roads and buildings. All the while, decisions made at earlier stages of the game continue to shape the current stage: adopting a carnivorous lifestyle in the creature stage changes the activities available to your subsequent tribe; a tribe of warriors will have a harder time building alliances with other cities when it reaches that stage. Eventually, you ascend to a United Nations-like perspective as you try to unify an entire planet divided between rival civilizations. Once you successfully pass from the “clash of civilizations” stage to the “end of history,” the game grants you that ultimate in Hegelian rewards: a spaceship. And then you’re off terraforming other planets and exploring an entire universe teeming with Spore life.

So the game operator gets to see the results of his or her decisions on his or her creation, thus coming face to face with creator's dilemma, keeping consciousness alive until the warriors wake up and realize that they could demolish the entire system .

Pretty good game, huh? A space ship is a little deus ex machina for me though. We must all be careful not to use the E word in relation to this, or the Christian fundamentalists will whip it off the shelves.

If Spore catches on, it could cause a paradigm shift. Hopefully folks will grow some creator empathy in their minds, while watching their painstaking work self destruct, and rethink their political affiliations. I personally plan to start with plenty of feminine spores --the kind that produce oxytocin, rather than war when they congregate.

Someone should give a copy to W. It takes about 30 hours to get to the part when societies begin to blow up one another Maybe W. has enought perserverence and concentraton to get there -- after all, he has been reading Camus and the Shakespeares all summer. Maybe he would watch the movie

Photo note: See how easy it is to make something out of nothing? If it isn't already completely obvious, this fellow is entirely composed of a window reflection. I got all the facial features, and the bowtie, but I have ,thus far , failed to get that breath of life thing going.

Addendum: the creation of a sycophant -- hope you like what you create

Posted by Dakota at 07:16 PM

Someone Else's Laundry


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Robert Kuttner has a thought provoking editorial in the Boston Globe, "Cleaning up the Mess", which is reproduced here, in full, because the Globe has the disturbing habit of locking up the archive coffers.

We have taken the liberty of superimposing clickies onto Robert Kuttner's work, not because it needed enhancement, especially from all of us here at Dakota, but to reinforce those with challenged attention spans, like ours, to read the entire piece. We also didn't want you to think we were lazy, just because it's Sunday.

October 14, 2006

IT NOW looks as if the Democrats could well take back at least one House of Congress, perhaps even two. But is this a fate to be wished on them?

I've heard smart people argue that George W. Bush has left such a mess that maybe the Democrats would be better off just letting the mess fall on the Republicans in 2008.

After all, there seems to be no good way out of Iraq. The administration dithered for nearly six years on Korea, and now we have Pyongyang with nukes, not to mention Iran's nuclear challenge. And the budget and trade deficits continue to be time bombs. Why should the opposition party want to share responsibility for these serial disasters?

I still think the 2006 mid-term election is well worth winning for the Democrats. But after the champagne is popped and ``Happy Days Are Here Again" is loudly sung, the victorious Democrats are likely to face a very sobering morning-after.

Begin with the budget deficit. As recent elections have shown, there is little political profit in being the fiscally responsible party. Democrats, once known as the Keynesian party of deficits, have led two thankless rounds of fiscal stewardship, cleaning up after Ronald Reagan's tax-cutting orgy in 1982-83, and then mopping up the red ink of Reagan's second term and that of Bush I with the heroic Budget Act of 1993, passed in both houses by a single vote.

But Bill Clinton and Al Gore got little credit for re positioning Democrats as the green-eyeshade party. When George W. Bush took office, he saw those hard-won budget surpluses as goodies for another bout of tax-cutting running into the trillions, mostly for the richest Americans. And now, primed to take back Congress, Democrats are set to play the thankless role of fiscal scold yet again.

In fact, it's even worse than that. By serving as the party that actually cares about budget balance, the Democrats play right into the hands of Republicans who brand Democrats as the party of high taxes. Although Democrats made sure in their 1993 budget program that higher taxes would be restored only on the wealthiest 2 percent, Republicans had a field day painting Democrats as the party that raises taxes.

If Democrats do take back Congress, they have a lot more heavy lifting to do beyond restoring fiscal responsibility. The normal functions of congressional oversight of the executive branch have collapsed during Republican control of both houses. Bush's allies in Congress protect the administration on everything from pre-9/11 intelligence to the dismal handling of Hurricane Katrina. Just restoring normal, arms-length oversight would be revolutionary.

A Democratic majority, even in one House, could begin to restrain the alarming designs of an imperial president. It could stem the assault on our civil liberties and the control of social and science policy by religious absolutists. A Democratic Senate would make it impossible for Bush, in his lame-duck term, to complete the takeover by the far-right of the Supreme Court.

These urgent needs are good reason for the opposition party to become the congressional majority. But Bush will continue to wield the veto pen. So even if Democrats can expose and block the most dangerous parts of the Bush agenda, it will be hard for Democrats to deliver an affirmative program.

Potentially, there is powerful politics in addressing the decline in living standards that plague so many middle- and working-class families. Productivity has nearly doubled in 30 years, but most of those gains have gone to the rich. The typical family faces housing and education costs rising faster than incomes, and insecurity of jobs, pensions, and healthcare.

Neither party right now is serious about changing this equation, becauseBush's raid on the Treasury has deprived government of needed resources. Addressing these pocketbook frustrations will require the White House as well as Congress. And it will require a rollback of Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy, not just to balance the budget but to restore social spending.

In the meantime, the risk is that voters will see divided government as mere partisan squabbling rather than a principled contest for what kind of country America is to be. But nobody ever said politics was a cakewalk. If the Democrats do take back even one House, they can be thankful that the country has veered back from the precipice of despotism. Then the really hard work will begin.

Robert Kuttner is co-editor of The American Prospect and a senior fellow at Demos. His column appears regularly in the Globe.
© Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.( left this in so that, the Globe, at least, wouldn't make an arrest)

Photo note: The laundry hanger has quite an eye. I just love the Persian ruglike things in the background, and the yellow, luminous, peeking through. Dimensional, well balanced and color coordinated. Bravo!

Suggestion, nay, heavy encouragement: Do watch the movie clickied under despotism

Posted by Dakota at 06:58 AM

October 14, 2006

Recycling at its Finest


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View from above with lobster boat

At least fifteen years ago, I happened upon a boat with a little motor at a yard sale which I purchased for a pittance with the romantic idea of family floating and fishing on the bay. After somehow hauling it home, I discovered that the boat was fourteen feet long, and thus required a license.

In order to obtain a license, one must, on a yearly basis, I might add, go into downtown Boston, find a parking place, locate the boat licensing office, and purchase the license.

There was the added problem of leaving a fourteen foot boat in a place that would be convenient for launching. It's illegal to leave any vessel over ten feet on the beach. And so, the boat was tidily stored in the basement at the cottage, the engine winterized and clamped to a barrel. It has only been a small incovenience to climb over it to use the washing machine for the past fifteen years.

This summer, inspired by offspring, who undoubtedly were anticipating purging the estate upon my death, we dragged the boat up from the dungeon. I wanted to put it out front with a "FREE" sign on it, but decided to be sensible and look up fourteen foot fiberglass boats with engines in the WantAdvertiser before giving it away foolishly, like I once had with a Gibson banjo (scroll down for prices). I found one or two equivalent boats in the ads for about $350. So I made a sign


The fellow who was renting the house next door saw the sign and said that, in the Capital region of upstate New York, from whence he hailed, a boat like that would go for at least $1200. Thus fueled by greed, I changed the three in $350 to an eight, and placed the boat out front to be snatched up.

Not one person stopped to inquire in two weeks. I did begin to notice that there are hundreds of boats for sale, adrift in in coastal backyards, each with a fading little cardboard sign.

As the summer passed, the boat began to fill with rain and leaves, and I was so enjoying the clear path to the washing machine that I was unwilling to drag it back into the basement.

My lobsterman neighbor dropped by, and offered to find out if the damn thing was worth anything from the harbormaster and the boating websites -- Result: $100. When asked, my neighbor felt that he could put the boat to good use, and I took the opportunity to bestow it upon him as a gift. He said he'd make it up to me in lobsters. Yum.

It turned out to be a really great gift to myself. Not only did I create space (a missing element in my life), but the boat has become a daily source of illuminated light at dawn on the bluff, which I appreciate enthusiastically, and shoot often. And that, my friends, is priceless.

Photo note: See above

Posted by Dakota at 12:43 PM

October 12, 2006

A Prickly Press Conference


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I know we're all quite sick of hearing about Mark Foley. Turns out that the poor guy was not just a victim of the Catholic patriarchy, but Karl Rove got him too. We don't call Mr. R. Turd Blossom for nothing.

So let's watch a a movie instead. Here's W. praising Iraqi tolerance at his press conference.

And a response to the movie from Will Bunch

Honestly, I'm amazed too -- by the arrogance of that statement. Frankly, there's something to parse in every word, but let's start with the president's most "amazing" notion, that people in Iraq are "tolerating" a situation where you can be shot dead at a traffic light -- like Knight Ridder journalist Yaser Salihee was -- or just going to the local market, a situation where anywhere from 50,000 (the very lowball estimate) to 600,000 (new high-end estimate) have been killed, not just by violence but by often unspeakable violence -- shot in the head or decapitated, hands bound, with severed penises or other mutilation, often just dumped in the river like so much raw sewage.

Who is "tolerating" that? Bush is -- from the comfort of his treadmill in the White House gym -- and Cheney and Rumsfeld, maybe. But do you honestly think that any mother trying to raise a family on the streets of Baghdad tolerates it? And the evidence is overwhelming that they don't tolerate it one bit. Why do you think that a whopping 71 percent of Iraqis want America to leave in the next year?

What's "amazing here" is the level of cluelessness -- and deception -- packed into one sentence. Iraqis do want to choose their own leaders, like most people, but the White House is trying to cast what has really happened there -- an unprovoked invasion by the world's most powerful military, followed by a three-year carnival of killing -- as some type of "popular uprising," a "society that so wants to be free." The overwhelming evidence is that they're merely a society that so wants to be left alone -- by us.

But it's amazing what people can tolerate, when it's 11,000 miles away and it's happening to somebody else.

"Tolerate". That's another great example of the neoconservative word redefinition practices that Tom Englehardt writes about in the Asia Times::

Never has a US administration rolled up its sleeves and redefined terms more systematically or unnervingly with less attention to reality.

When a dynasty fell in ancient China, it was believed that part of the explanation for its demise lay in the increasing gap between words and reality. The emperor of whatever new dynasty had taken power would then perform a ceremony called "the rectification of names" to bring language and what it was meant to describe back into sync. We Americans need to lose the emperor part of the equation, but adopt such a ceremony. Never have our realities and our words for them been quite so out of whack.

Back to Bush's news conference. It was more lively than usual according to Dan Froomkin
Bush had just wrapped up an answer in which he described the difference between Republicans and Democrats, noting among other things that "I don't believe we can wait to respond after attack has occurred," when he called on Don Gonyea of National Public Radio.

Traditionally, White House correspondents let that kind of rhetoric slide. But Gonyea, instead, asked about it.

Q: "Following up on that answer, one of the things Democrats complain about is the way you portray their position --

"THE PRESIDENT: Oh, really?

"Q -- in wanting to fight the war on terror. They would say you portray it as either they support exactly what you want to do, or they want to do nothing. We hear it in some of your speeches. Is it fair to portray it to the American people that way?"

Bush gave no ground.

"THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think it's fair to use the words of the people in Congress or their votes. The vote was on the Hamdan legislation: Do you want to continue a program that enabled us to interrogate folks, or not? And all I was doing was reciting the votes. I would cite my opponent in the 2004 campaign when he said there needs to be a date certain from which to withdraw from Iraq. I characterize that as cut and run because I believe it is cut and run. In other words, I've been using either their votes or their words to characterize their positions."

I gave Gonyea some props for asking the question in my Live Online yesterday, which led reader Devon Moore to e-mail me that he felt Gonyea's question was too easy for Bush to sidestep.

Writes Moore: "I would have loved to hear Mr. Bush answer a question more along the lines of: 'Mr. President, I think the American people will be as outraged as you are that some of our elected representatives believe that we should wait until we are attacked to respond, and most certainly will want to vote out any one who believes that. Can you identify by name some of the people who have claimed this so they can be held accountable? Are any of them up for election this year?'"

Nonetheless, Bush kept his rollicking sense of humor, and teased the press about their fashion sense Haven't you noticed, W. always dresses perfectly for each and every occasion. The guy's gotta get something right.

Photo note: When I left my ladies group this morning, I spotted a six foot cactus in the window of the shop over which we meet. Of course I shot it immediately anticipating numerous publishing possiblities. Then, as I experimented with other angles, I realized that I could shoot the pricker, harshly illuminated, in front of a patriotic bunting, under a warmer more expansive light. All this came to me through a dirty, glarey window, but, in the metaphorophotography business, you take the visions that you are given.

Posted by Dakota at 03:46 PM

From the Frayed Flag Desk


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Okie dokie . The small (undetected) plane that accidentally crashed into a building on the upper east side of Manhattan yesterday, reminds us just how vulnerable we are, and will be, as long as we continue to bait "our enemies" like dumb cluck cowboys. Corey Lidle has not died in vain. He has shattered the myth of false safety perpetrated by George W. Bush. Soccer moms take note.

But all is not well in neoconservative circles. Of course there's all the Foleydaral fallout, but some big GOP donors have just had a taste of the consequences of privacy erosion, the Wall Street Journal has begun to worry about Bush's grasp of poker hands and foreign policy, and another "betrayal' book is on its way. Thank God Keith Olbermann is still alive to review it.

But enough gloating for one morning. How do we, as a nation, move forward in a more positive way? Merrill Markoe has some wonderfully articulated ideas about resolving the nuclear crisis in North Korea.

Got alot more time? Check out the new satirical G-novel Shooting War whichh takes place in the year 2010. Of course I liked it because the protagonist is a left wing video blogger. Video blogging seems to be the wave of the future. That gives me a couplle of years to shape up or learn a new technology-- I simply can't do both and keep my day job.

Photo note: Our dear flag hanging upside down by a shred, with a dismembered stripe blowing in the breeze

Posted by Dakota at 05:55 AM

October 11, 2006

A Compendium of Advice


Stephen Colbert's advice

Eisenhower's advice

Preparedness advice

Advice about North Korea

Advice to the media on press coverage and behavior contagion

Unique gift advice

Digital photographic advice: If you have a digital camera that has a delay, it is always easier to shoot birds when they are artificial and cannot move

Philosophophotographic advice: Sip the nectar of life in the beauty of the light.

Photo note: Sorry I couldn't bring myself to post a bird picture without the emergency prep list -- you may need it for the October Surprise

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Posted by Dakota at 05:02 PM

October 10, 2006

Bob Woodward's Juicy Parts


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I dropped out of The Bob Woodward Fan Club sometime after Watergate. In fact I think he should have been fired by the Washington Post for his duplicity in the Plame case, and have considered him a Bush sycophant on the basis of his last two books , "Bush at War"

Woodward's analysis of President Bush's leadership style is especially fascinating. A self-described "gut player" who relies heavily on instinct, Bush comes across as a man of action continually pressing his cabinet for concrete results. The revelation that the president developed and publicly stated the so-called Bush Doctrine--the policy that the U.S. would not only go after terrorists everywhere but also those governments or groups which harbor them--without first consulting Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, or Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is particularly telling. [from the Amazon review]

and "Plan of Attack"

Upon its publication, the Bush administration roundly denied many of the accounts in the book that demonstrated conflict within their circles, poor judgment, or lousy planning, but the Bush/Cheney reelection campaign nonetheless listed Plan of Attack as recommended reading. And it is. It shows alarming problems in the way the war was conceived and planned, but it also demonstrates the tremendous conviction and dedication of the people who decided to carry it out. [from the Amazon review]

Turns out he's not a lying neoconservative fascist after all, just an sleazy opportunist -- a fact proven by his third Bushy book, "State of Denial" in which Bob offends the monarchy . This is perhaps an optimistic sign that the lying neoconservative fascists are on their way out, or Woodward, snuggler upper that he is, wouldn't have crossed them. In any case, we don't want to support his abysmal behavior in the past by buying his new book. Fortunately, John Dickerson at Slate has underlined all the juicy parts. , so that it won't be necessary.

Photo note: The juicy parts, get it? A transparent fruit bowl right out of 1972, on a kitchen chair of the same vintage. You are left on your own to understand the deep meaning of the plastic kumquats. Try to keep it clean

Posted by Dakota at 07:09 AM

October 09, 2006

Full moon in Daylight


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A picture
would be
a thousand

if only
we knew
we were

Photo note: The full moon over the grease fan at the hotel. Has a minaret feel to it.

Further contemplative offerings: The anthropology of Christianity
Keith Olbermann helps.

Posted by Dakota at 07:57 AM

October 06, 2006

Opening to the Universe

Honestly, all this Foleydara has completely distracted me from my higher purpose, the least of which is adding my voice to the rest of the blogosphere in appreciation of all the contrast that the neoconservative clack provides to those of us who cherish the beauty and purpose of true democracy. In doing so, I almost forgot to publish my photographic documentation of synchronistic communication(s) with nature last weekend. Ready?


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Saturday, at dawn, I saw a blue heron, prettily illuminated, in the cove in front of the cottage for the first time this summer.


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Later that morning, on a bike ride along the canal, I happened upon the briards
a veritable bevy of them.


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The bluefish were running and all the fishermen were out, as was the blue heron. My photographic assistant kindly made a disturbing noise so that I could shoot her in flight.


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Saturday evening I went to see "The Science of Sleep", a fascinating film about a romance between two young artists . The task of the viewer is to understand what parts of the movie are dreams, and what parts are reality. Ironically, during the screening I was overcome by an irresistable urge to fall asleep, which I fought, almost successfully, with headsnapping whiplash.

Saturday night I had my own dream in two parts. In the first segment, I was in Tibet, imprisoned by the Chinese , the origin of which I will attribute to an excellent book I'm reading, The Skull Mantra, and , not to the unconscious shackles of my own psyche. The second part of the dream involved terrible frustration. I was not able to read my appointment book, which some would interpret as being confounded by the structure of my life. Though I tried several times, I couldn't figure out where I was supposed to be. (hmm...m..mmm). I finally took a chance, and headed to an office (maybe it was mine) on Beacon Hill. On the way I passed my friend, Sharon, who, in reality, lives on Beacon Hill, and realized that I had missed a meeting with her, I passed by without speaking to her and went on to the office where I met with the police, who were friendly. As I was talking with them, another woman came in the door. I knew that I had a prearranged meeting with her. Her name was Leigh, and she was a stocky lesbian with a prickly personality -- someone who challenges everything you say. I went and sat next to her, explaining the unexpected police visit which I couldn't interrupt, and sent her away, to my great relief. I was so relieved that I am certain that Leigh is undoubtedly an unwanted aspect of self, that I am happy to avoid while I comply with authorities. I'll let you know if I ever allow her to reappear.

Upon awakening from my dreams, I rushed out to shoot the sunrise. I was convinced that I saw the blue heron again, across the bridge. I was drawn toward her so powerfully, that I actually thought I was being a little silly. There wasn't enough light to photograph the heron well, as you can see, but it's a pretty accurate picture of my myopic perception at the time. She's just to the right of the umbrellas, at the edge of the high tide mark.


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As I got closer, I realized that was not a heron at all, but an anchor at low tide. I shot it anyway, and wondered why I was so pulled to this spot.


Then I I turned around to return to the cottage, and saw the spectacle above my very own cove.


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As I walked closer, I found myself yearning to show the rainbow to someone. I heard a rustle on a nearby porch and thought of calling the rustler out to see. Then I heard a voice behind me. "You never see a rainbow on the water, isn't it beautiful? Wish granted, I turned to see a woman in a running suit with long wavy red hair, slightly disheveled, carrying a cloth bundle. I thought she had probably been sleeping on the beach, and I felt a little scared of her. She too had been having regrets that noone was around to see the rainbow. I told her I'd been looking for the blue heron, and she asssured me that it would be around in the afternoon low tide. I noticed that she was missing a front tooth. I thought her appearance at this moment was spooky, in sweet kind of way. My more woowoo aspect suspected that she was a messenger of some kind, from somewhere, and I was experiencing fear of the unknown.

Later in the afternoon I spotted the blue heron fishing on the canal again, and snapped two inflight, if blurry, photos. The delay on my little digital is not perfect for capturing quick creatures.


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And here ends my little adventure. I'm sure the spell that my nurtritionist cast on Friday afternoon wore off toward Sunday night, and I haven't had a mystical sighting since. You are probably breathing a sigh of relief.

But don't get too comfortable Keith Olbermann was eloquent once again, and it's a four star listen.

Posted by Dakota at 12:23 PM

October 04, 2006

Foley's Folly


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To the uninitiated, it is often astonishing to discover that sexual predators as a group are not easily recognized by their goulishness. In fact, they are generally quite appealing -- especially the unfortunates who must look for their victims outside of their own families.

In fact, in these days of protective education, predators have to be pretty saavy to lure children into their pedotraps. A child therapist friend told me that some of the perpetrators she sees in treatment have as much expertise connecting with kids as she does. It's not surprizing that The Washington Post has an almost sweet portrait of Mark Foley, gathered from congressional pages old and new. Foley fits the warm, charming predator profile perfectly.

Would that he had stopped with a few romantic liasons, but Mark Foley has made a career of projecting his internal shame onto others. It will surely be in this nation's best interest that he has checked himself into alcohol rehab facility to begin to examine himself, however peripherally. Let's hope he will not decide on a Christian conversion to treat his ( alcohol?!?) addiction instead. Newsflash: Oh dear, Foley may be in a Scientology center -- they don't believe in psychotherapy, but they DO believe in the democratic process.

Glenn Greenwald has an indepth look at this issue ) excerpted for the hurried:

Mark Foley was literally at the center of virtually every activity and law and program over the last 10 years ostensibly designed to battle the evils of Internet sex and minors. Mark Foley spent 12 years in Congress and it is not an exaggeration to say that he basically devoted his whole Congressional career to adding decades of imprisonment on to the mandatory punishments for those who use the Internet to talk about sex with children. He didn't just condemn that which he was doing. He made the crusade against it his life's work, in the most vocal and public way possible.

Mark Foley isn't some isolated case of shocking hypocrisy. Quite the contrary. People who have a publicly and vocally expressed obsession with other people's moral behavior and who want to use the power of the Government to enforce that obsession -- the Rick Santorums and Rush Limbaughs and Newt Gingrichs and Jim Bakkers and Ralph Reeds and Mark Foleys of the world -- are almost always fighting their own demons, not anyone else's. It is so important for them to parade around as moral protectors and moral warriors precisely because they have no other way to cleanse themselves, despite being in desperate need of a cleansing........

We have been barraged with laws, programs, sermons, demagoguery and all sorts of moral demonization from a political movement whose most powerful pundit is a multiple-times-divorced drug addict [Rush Limbaugh] who flamboyantly cavorts around with a new girlfriend every few months in between Viagra-fueled jaunts to the Dominican Republic. It is a political movement whose legacy will be torture, waterboards, naked, sadomasochistic games in Iraqi dungeons (or, to Rush, "blowing off steam"), with all sorts of varied sleaze and corruption deeply engrained throughout its DNA -- all propped up by a facade of moralism and dependent upon the support of those who have been propagandized into believing that they are voting for the Party of Values and Morals.


The projections that Mark Foley has oozed onto others in his secret victimhood turned perpetration, have undoubtedly caused much unhappiness, but they have not cost lives. ( I take that back The projections of George W. Bush onto his perceived enemies are lethal, lethal to thousands, lethal to his own countrymen.

Photo note: A metaphorophoto. Phalllic projections in the Freudian sense,on a stormy day -- one full of holes with an American flag flying on its tip. Notice the collapsing roof of the building below -- or, Sandwich harbor where the historic fish auction house has been collapsing all summer.

Addendum: Amusing video: George W. on global warming
Deeply edifying video: Bill Moyers on Abramoff take a little time to watch, then throw a viewing party for your "undecided" friends, if you still have any.

Posted by Dakota at 05:44 PM

October 03, 2006

Now You See It , Now You Don't


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I am sorry to report that NPR News this morning had NOTHING, not a peep, on our shocking Congressional Sex Scandal, or any revelations about Condi's disinterest in George Tenet's urgent, early warnings two months before 9/11. Oh well. Pity, just when we thought we were (once again) seeing a republican collapse.

Will The Sex Scandal be a "tipping point" among the psychotic sycophants who have supported this administration through the demolition of the constitution, a costly, hopeless, unjust war, the unconscionable legalization of torture, the pillage of the treasury, and the squandering of national resources? Perhaps.

Sex is powerful stuff, but Dennis Hastert, like Condi, can't remember hearing much about Foley's emails, Rush thinks the scandal a clever democratic trick, and Fox News is labeling Foley a democrat. Get ready to have your head spun

But remember, you simply can't keep a determined administration down.

Foley has announced that he himself was molested by a clergyman as a child. And so we see the results of too much power in the patriarchy and an untreated trauma cycle , once again -- the victim becomes a perpetrator. Think Israel.

Photo note: A metaphorophotographic plea to keep our heads out of the bloody bucket this time.

Posted by Dakota at 09:46 PM

October 02, 2006

In A Sling


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Seems that Republican Representative and homosexual pedophile, Mark Foley has Dennis Hastert's tushie in a sling, along with his own.

Bush showing his usual loyalty, has tried to distance himself from Foley, but, as with Jack Abramoff, there is photographic evidence of chumliness, and an internet distribution network to contradict him.

On behalf of the administration, Tony Snow claims that Foley had just sent some naughty emails. Pedophiles will be pedophiles and all that.

Frankly, all of us here at Dakota could care less, though one more pedophile off the streets is always an environmental improvement, especially one who used his posiiton of power as a platform for his perversion. We find it surprising how self righteous Americans can get upset about an unimportant sex scandall.

The real scandals that affect every American, even the richest capitalists, even the robber barons, even Paris Hilton and Barbara Bush and their children and grandchildren are the dissolution of habeas corpus and the wreckless trashing of the environment.

At least Bob Woodward has finally stopped kissingwhat should be in the bigggest sling of all.

Photo note: A hammock in the early autumn light


Posted by Dakota at 06:40 AM