February 28, 2008

A Staggering Pricetag


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As you may remember economists Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes published an article in 2006 about the true cost of the War in Iraq. Their new book "The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Confilct" which expands on the subject is about to be released. If you do nothing else today, if you never open the cover of this book, take a big gulp of informed citizenhood and read Aida Edemariam's interview with Joseph Stiglitz in the Guardian. A small sample:

I ask what discoveries Stiglitz found the most disturbing. He laughs, somewhat mirthlessly. "There were actually so many things - some of it we suspected, but there were a few things I couldn't believe." The fact that a contractor working as a security guard gets about $400,000 a year, for example, as opposed to a soldier, who might get about $40,000. That there is a discrepancy we might have guessed - but not its sheer scale, or the fact that, because it is so hard to get insurance for working in Iraq, the government pays the premiums; or the fact that, if these contractors are injured or killed, the government pays both death and injury benefits on top. Understandably, this has forced a rise in sign-up bonuses (as has the fact that the army is so desperate for recruits that it is signing up convicted felons). "So we create a competition for ourselves. Nobody in their right mind would have done that. The Bush administration did that ... that I couldn't believe. And that's not included in the cost the government talks about."

If nothing else your denial will be punctured..

Photo note: Stags + pricetag -- just a lucky shot

Posted by Dakota at 12:06 PM

February 27, 2008

Sex, It's About Time


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All of us here at Dakota know that our readers count on us to select a small wildflower bouquet from the vast meadows of the internet on some kind of regular basis. Well ......sometimes wildflowers... sometimes important things that are imperative for a good citizen to know if they're planning to live in a democracy for very long. However, you haven't seen much porn here because, we figure that you get enough in your email or, if you don't, you have sufficient motivation to find it yourself. Today we have made an exception and selected some sex sites of note for your perusal.

The Midwest Teen Sex Show is both an educational effort and a parody, or "paracational" as one reader put it. Enjoy all thirteen videos.

The inimitable Molly Ivins tells us about sex and the Texas penal code

When you finish examining the Vintage Condom Wrappers, be sure to scroll all the way down for the 1956 Planned Parent Comic Book about birth control.

The perversion map will give you an idea about where you stand - click on the image if your perversion isn't big enough.

And finally a little food porn for variety

Photo note: a papered pole with stickers which might be construed as sexual -- sorry folks, it was lean pickings in the archives

ADDENDUM:someone at The Huffington Post had the same idea today.

Posted by Dakota at 05:16 PM

February 25, 2008

Light in the Darkness


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The kids get it!!!!

They are marching to their new, inconveniently located voting place to protest Texas redistricting which was implemented by Tom Delay, an indicted, not yet tried criminal Republican. Delay was responsible for the gerrymandering of Texas, which still stands in spite of his disgrace.

Do you hear them fall into the O-ba-ma chant? Here's Hillary on that subject.

Dreaming about the candidates yourself? Post your dream for all of us to read.

Oh, and the dark part ---Bush once again arrogantly bypassed the rule of law and will continue to wiretap your phone while he prepares for war in outer space.

Speaking of bringing light into darkness Alex Gibney won an Oscar last night.

Photo note: View from the Costco parking lot, the only conveniently located vista for shooting this sort of thing

Posted by Dakota at 03:28 PM

February 23, 2008

Need Help Deciding? A Summary


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A contributor to reddit, pseudonymed tatooine, did our work for us and published a comparison of Barack's record in the Senate vs. Hillary's. Here are his results, organized a little differently


Hillary's experience: 1) Voted for Iraq War without reading estimate on WMD. 2) Voted to make Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization.(otherwise known as Kyl-Lieberman) 3) Skipped the vote to remove TeleCom immunity from FISA.

Senator Clinton, who has served only one full term - 6yrs. - and another year campaigning, has managed to author and pass into law - 20 - twenty pieces of legislation in her first six years.

These bills can be found on the website of the Library of Congress thomas.loc.gov , but to save you trouble, I’ll post them here for you.

1. Establish the Kate Mullany National Historic Site.
2. Support the goals and ideals of Better Hearing and Speech Month.
3. Recognize the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.
4. Name courthouse after Thurgood Marshall.
5. Name courthouse after James L. Watson.
6. Name post office after Jonn A. O’Shea.
7. Designate Aug. 7, 2003, as National Purple Heart Recognition Day.
8. Support the goals and ideals of National Purple Heart Recognition Day.
9. Honor the life and legacy of Alexander Hamilton on the bicentennial of his death.
10. Congratulate the Syracuse Univ. Orange Men’s Lacrosse Team on winning the championship.
11. Congratulate the Le Moyne College Dolphins Men’s Lacrosse Team on winning the championship.
12. Establish the 225th Anniversary of the American Revolution Commemorative Program.
13. Name post office after Sergeant Riayan A. Tejeda.
14. Honor Shirley Chisholm for her service to the nation and express condolences on her death.
15. Honor John J. Downing, Brian Fahey, and Harry Ford, firefighters who lost their lives on duty. Only five of Clinton’s bills are, more substantive.
16. Extend period of unemployment assistance to victims of 9/11.
17. Pay for city projects in response to 9/11
18. Assist landmine victims in other countries.
19. Assist family caregivers in accessing affordable respite care.
20. Designate part of the National Forest System in Puerto Rico as protected in the wilderness preservation system.


1) Voted against the Iraq War 2) missed the Kyl-Lieberman vote, (because it wasn't close) but spoke out against it 3) Missed the vote against TeleCom immunity, but spoke out against it

During the first 8 years of his elected service he sponsored over 820 bills. He introduced
233 regarding healthcare reform, 125 on poverty and public assistance, 112 crime fighting bills, 97 economic bills, 60 human rights and anti-discrimination bills, 21 ethics reform bills, 15 gun control, 6 veterans affairs and many others.

Obama’s record in the Illinois Senate from the NY Times.

His first year in the U.S. Senate, he authored 152 bills and co- sponsored another 427. These included:

1. The Coburn-Obama Government Transparency Act of 2006 - became law,
2. The Lugar-Obama Nuclear Non-proliferation and Conventional Weapons Threat Reduction Act, - became law,
3. The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act, passed the Senate,
4. The 2007 Government Ethics Bill, - became law,
5. The Protection Against Excessive Executive Compensation Bill, In committee, and many more.

In all, since entering the U.S. Senate, Senator Obama has written 890 bills and co-sponsored another 1096.

An impressive record, for someone who supposedly has no record according to some who would prefer that this comparison not be made public.

AND the man speaks to inspire. As Robert Kuttner said the other day "A great leader gets the music right as well as the words. It took a little while, but Obama now does both. He has the campaign's poetry, leaving Clinton with the prose."

Photo note: a duo from the American Flag collection

Posted by Dakota at 08:56 AM

February 21, 2008

The President Makes an Ass of Himself in Africa


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Our President, along with his sycophantic missus, has been traveling in Africa, basking in the adoration he has purchased, though no none mentions that Africa could sure use a few condoms. But of course, the Pope and the President prefer not to treat HIV/AIDS prophylacticly.

Although Bush staying away from dicey areas, he did visit the genocide museum in Rwanda, after which he said profoundly: "A clear lesson I learned in the museum was that outside forces that tend to divide people up inside their country are unbelievably counterproductive. In other words, people came from other countries — I guess you’d call them colonialists — and they pitted one group of people against another." Thus inferring that he personally never want to be involved in anything like that.

Ann Curry interviewed the Bushes in Tanzania for MSNBC, and jerked a little chain while she was at it, much to the displeasure of Lady Laura.

Speaking of whom, in my opinion, one of the most important duties of the First Spouse is to keep the narcissism of the President in check. You have to admit that it takes a person with quite a bit of narcissism to run for that office in the first place. Laura Bush fails miserably. Watching her feed into her little dumpling's ego, is enough to make person ill. I wouldn't trust Cindy McCain with the job either.

Photo note: Another snappy use of that flag theme

Addendum: Dan Froomkin picked this modest statement out of an interview the Bushes gave to the Travel Pool upon their arrival back in the USofA. "So it's been a -- it's an exciting trip. I mean, you saw the crowds, you saw the enthusiasm."

"But that's not what's important. You know, people say -- Bob Geldof asked me, he said, 'Why don't you take credit for it? Why don't you show what you have done for Africa?' Well, it's not me, for starters; and you don't act out of the desire to enhance your own standing; that's not exactly why one is called into service. It doesn't matter about me. What matters is, are we saving people's lives? That's what matters. And we are."

Like I said Korsakoff's Syndrome

Posted by Dakota at 07:14 AM

February 20, 2008

Moral Compass


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As below, so above.

One of the simple ideas of systems theory as it applies to interpersonal relationships is that underlings frequently mirror the heirarchy. For example, if the children in a nursery school are exhibiting aggressive behaviors toward one another, a careful examination of the leadership of the organization will often reveal similar patterns of behavior, you know, like the guards in Abu Ghraib and their superiors who were never outed.

Yesterday's headlines support this point."Torture Video Sparks Massive Beef Recall". The video was Agribusiness' Abu Ghraib. It showed sick cows, abused, slaughtered sadistically and added to our food supply, utlimately producing contaminated food products which were sold to our schools. This kind of abuse is not really news. Animals owned by agribusiness are notoriously mistreated, as are employees but, once again, a picture is worth a thousand words

The despicable example set by our current leadership - lying, torture, sadistic practices, stealing, retaliation, cheating, exploiting the poor for the benefit of the rich, punishing those who speak out, etc., has set a precedent for general bad behavior throughout our society.

The Bush administraton has exploited the helpless and poor in our armies, our schools, our taxcodes and our benefit structures. Are we then surprised that those in corporate power do the same, resulting in catastrophes like the sub prime mortgage crisis and the botched reconstruction of New Orleans? Are we surprised that Cheney's war profiteering through Halliburton has set an example for CEOs everywhere to loot their companies, screw their employees, and leave with massive exit bonuses? We shouldn't be.

All the more reason to elect a president who has a moral compass. It will set a good example.

Photo note: I was aiming to shoot a moral compass yesterday and almost settled for the hub cap of a Landrover, but found this mysterious little painting in the bathroom at my shaman's office, and thought it would do nicely -- I wonder what it is?

Notice the moon on the top - moons are prevalent this week, tonight is a full lunar eclipse.

Posted by Dakota at 07:00 PM

February 19, 2008

Pisces Surprises


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What are
the chances
of taking
a picture
of two fish
in the middle
of February?


How about
that your moon
is in Pisces
on the same day
you shot
two fish
in the middle
of February?

Very low

That's what I thought

Photo note: Stone cold fish wintering on the plank at Pemberton Market

Posted by Dakota at 07:26 AM

February 17, 2008

A Little Sick In A Number Of Ways


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When we sent the staff to rifle through the photo archive for a cheerful shot that might improve the ennui brought on by a virus so mild that it may never reach full bloom, we came upon a cheerful shot from the flea market in Budapest, which was, an otherwise bleak experience since an outdoor flea is hardly fun when the temperature is below twenty. The toy vintage motorcycle is quite jolly, but under close examination, the poster above is one preserved from the Soviet occupation of Hungary, a dark period indeed. Therefore, we were not as cheered as we hoped to be

Speaking of dark periods, looks like surveillance is coming to a city near you. Actually it's already there according to the Anonymity Experiment. Torture is also here to stay, as is the new and improved Supreme Court, so we have just about everything we need to establish a police state.

Pardon our virus.

Photo note: Outdoor flea market in Budapest iin the dead of winter.

Posted by Dakota at 09:16 AM

February 14, 2008

Mind Your Own Business


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in context

Although some may have mistaken all of us here at Dakota for sports enthusiasts, you would not be correct. In fact we think (nonparticipatory) sports are an intentional opiate, served up endlessly to the unsuspecting public by those who would like us not to mind so much that we live in a near police state. Perhaps that's a bit harsh, but you just wait and see.

WHY, when lives and deaths issues face the our country, and our Constitution and the economy are in shreds, is the damn congress holding baseball hearings, for heavens sakes. And WHY is the Department of Justice wasting precious time on this trivial matter too. There are war and plain criminals to prosecute and high treason to investigate. The DOJ is in complete disarray and held in unprecidented low regard. Why are they even interested in what Roger Clements did to some stupid statistics and his own poor body. Drop it.

I just loved this quote from Glenn Greenwald who was sick with the flu and watched the hearings, in addition to writing an excellent history of FISA which you are also welcome to read.

UPDATE: One of the tortures I endured yesterday was watching the House hearing involving Roger Clemens and the trainer who claims to have injected him with steroids. The press could not have been any more riveted and was fully knowledgable of every relevant detail. Almost every House Committee member came to the hearing thoroughly prepared, grilled the witnesses with the expertise of an experienced litigator, and thundered about the grave seriousness -- and consequences -- of lying to Congress.

The drama was high, the gravity palpable, and the interest level intense. Ponder how much better our country would be if even a fraction of all of that were conjured up for acts of chronic lawbreaking and serial lying by our highest government officials, rather than our baseball stars.

Shove THAT through the black window of your SUV.

Photo note: I just happened to shoot this doodad pasted on the side of a black SUV a coupla days ago - I must be in a little flow, even though I am possessed of great anger lately, which keeps erupting

Posted by Dakota at 08:01 PM

February 13, 2008

Some Valentine


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While all the progressives here at Dakota are eagerly following the democratic primaries, excited about good people at last boarding the Titanic that is our nation, our world, there are those of us who are extremely pessimistic about the state of things. The Senate caved to telecom immunity yesterday, thus eliminating your right to privacy forever. and shutting down any further investigations into the criminal activities of the Bush administration.. Hillary unconscionably didn't vote. Other equally crappy plans are afoot, like executing terrorists imprisoned at Guantanamo who have not been tried and whose confessions have been encouraged by torture.. Dan Froomkin's column is chock full of sickening stuff. Here he is on the death penalty for prisoners at Gitmo:

The White House made it clear that it wanted a 9/11 trial before the end of President Bush's term. But Carol Rosenberg and Nancy A. Youssef write for McClatchy Newspapers: "Knowledgeable legal experts, however, said it's unlikely that they can be tried speedily, meaning the cases probably won't be heard before the Bush administration leaves office next January."

And yet, that actually may be part of the plan, writes Will Bunch in his Philadelphia Daily News blog: "[I]t is unlikely, with appeals and the like, that any conviction and death penalty could be carried out as quickly as January. That lays the problem on the lap of the next president -- regardless of whether it's McCain, Clinton or Obama -- who would have to either affirm the military tribunals, or else declare on the first day of their presidency that one of their first officials acts will be to overturn a death sentence for a 9/11 mastermind.

"That's a classic Rovian political trap if I ever saw one. And it's more proof that undoing the nightmare eight years of Bush and Cheney is going to be a lot more work than simply placing a right hand on the Bible."

This Valentine's Day our heart is breaking for this country.

Photo note: Two dimensional rose with shadow --the flower is painted on a window in front of venetian blinds

Posted by Dakota at 07:03 AM

February 08, 2008

Consumer alert


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All of us here at Dakota take our civic responsibility seriously and are therefore posting some important consumer notifications for your edification.

Those of you who think you could use a botox injection might want to consider the risk.

The popular anti-wrinkle drug Botox and a competitor have been linked to dangerous botulism symptoms in some users, cases so bad that a few children given the drugs for muscle spasms have died, the government warned Friday.

So much for beauty.

In the spirit of the ACLU's Surveillance Campaign, Robert Greenwald has made a new consumer alert video about hidden charges.

That's all folks.

Photo note: Consumer fliers in Budapest doorway

Posted by Dakota at 09:56 PM

Hope for the Future


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One can detect a little promise for the future in the photo above-- it's quite cardboard and two dimensional, but there's a sense of possibility.

All of us here at Dakota are just getting over the loss of John Edwards, (and the lovely Elizabeth) who we considered the only candidate who was not for sale. When we scrolled down to view Obama in this clip, (compared to McCain) we felt a glimmer of hope.

It's heartening to know that Patrick Leahy is watching. From his opening statement to the Judiciary Committee before Mukasey's testimony:

This President's administration has repeatedly ignored the checks and balances wisely placed on executive power by the Founders, who were concerned that they not replace the tyranny of George III with an American king.

"Among the most disturbing aspects of these years has been the complicity of the Justice Department, which has provided cover for the worst of these practices. Its secret legal memoranda have sought to define torture down to meaninglessness, sought to excuse warrantless spying on Americans contrary to our laws and made what Jack Goldsmith, a conservative former head of the Office of Legal Counsel, has rightly called a 'legal mess' of it all. This President and this administration have, through signing statements and self-centeredness, decided that they are above the law and can unilaterally decide what parts of what laws they will follow. The costs have been enormous, to our core American ideals, the rule of law, and the principle that in America, no one -- not even a President -- is above the law. . . .

It is not enough to say that waterboarding is not currently authorized. Torture and illegality have no place in America. We should not delay beginning the process of restoring America's role in the struggle for liberty and human dignity. Tragically, this administration has so twisted America's role, law and values that our own State Department, our military officers and, apparently, America's top law enforcement officer, are now instructed by the White House not to say that waterboarding is torture and illegal. Never mind that waterboarding has been recognized as torture for the last 500 years......

And from Leahy's closing statement:

I had hoped today would provide more clarity on so many critical issues. Instead, we heard references to legal opinions, justifications, and facts that remain hidden from Congress and the American people. . . .

"It is a hallmark of our democracy that we say publicly what the laws are and what conduct they prohibit. We have seen what happens when hidden decisions rendered in secret memos are withheld from the people's elected representatives and from the American people. It erodes our civil liberties and undermines our values as a nation of laws."

We are pleased to know that Michael Moore is working on a film entitled "While America Slept" a comedy on all that has been lost inour democracy under this administration.

Neiman fellow Steven Aftergood suggests that The Next President Should Open Up the Bush Administration's Record

But, let's face it, the picture itself is really pretty bleak.

Photo note: Winter in the garden -- Echinacea a plant known for it's healing properties, which may or may not be effective.

Posted by Dakota at 07:03 AM

February 05, 2008



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There was a chilling extraneous comment in an NPR report of an environmental victory yesterday morning. A federal judge overturned President Bush's decree that the Navy is exempt from the sonar ban off the California coast, meant to protect large sea mammals from loud noises. In the broadcast Rear Admiral Larry Rice said that the sonic ban made it difficult to train his men properly without blasting whales out of the water (slightly paraphrased by editor) because:

The Lincoln Strike Group is getting ready to deploy. That's 7000 young Americans that are getting ready to go into harm's way

Oh really. Whyever would they be in harm's way, Rear Admiral?

Well let's take a peek at the internet's undersea world in light of some headlines you that may have overlooked in the past few days.

Mediterranean Cable Break "Internet and telephone communications across the Middle East and India were disrupted after two submarine cable systems in the Mediterranean Sea were cut."

New Cable Cut Compounds Net Woes -"A submarine cable in the Middle East has been snapped, adding to global net problems caused by breaks in two lines under the Mediterranean on Wednesday."

Ships Did Not Cause Internet Cable Damage

World Economics Hang By An Internet Thread

Cable-cutting in Preparation for War - The Historical Precedent.

Operation Ivy Bells- Navy divers effort to alter the Cold War by messing with undersea cables.

Pentagon: The Internet Needs to be Dealt With As If It Were An Enemy "Weapons System"

As Karl Rove said all too cheerfully in his Newsweek column last week

Maybe we are not seeing the crackup of the GOP. Rather, America is more likely to be at the start of an intense and exciting election. The contest will be hard fought, the actions of the candidates each day hugely significant. It's far too early to draw sweeping conclusions about the health of either party; the presidential race, after all, has barely begun. Lots of surprises lie ahead.

And as we know, this administration thinks that the best surprises involve precipitating a crisis then fanning the flames of fear, so that the stupid American voter will vote for someone who will be able to protect him from "the enemy".

Photo note: Looks disconnected to me

Addendum:Cable Cut Fever Grips the Web: Threat Level from Wired.com.

Posted by Dakota at 06:09 AM

February 01, 2008



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Ah, ' tis a day for astonishments.

First some underwater astonishments, particularly the octopus.

And now a political astonishment

A comparative astonishment

Followed by an astonishing combination

And finally a public art astonishment

Personally, I am busy being astonished by the magnitude of my anger at a friend. I am astonished that I am as incurious as I am about my wish to pulverize.

Photo note: A Budapest building corner stencil, depicting feline astonishment -- I should have saved this for Valentine's day

Posted by Dakota at 08:26 PM