August 9th, 2006

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Good Morning!!

The sun is shining, and it is another warm day.  We continue to sleep with our bedroom window open, night after night, unheard of in the past.  I am reading a book written in 1986 when Reagan was president.  It continually talks about Ronald Reagan ignoring global warming.  I forget how long we have known, and try and imagine if Reagan had embraced environmental change instead of scoffing.  Now, here we are.

Here is William Rivers Pitt on the loss last night by Lieberman to Lamont in CT.

It Wasn't About the War
    By William Rivers Pitt

    Wednesday 09 July 2006

    At 8:52 p.m. on Tuesday night, the report came in that Senator Joseph Lieberman had lost his home precinct in the Connecticut primary. Just after 9:00 p.m., the talking heads on Fox News began telling their viewers that Lieberman was finished. Just after 11:00 p.m., Lieberman stepped to the podium to congratulate Ned Lamont on his victory. Lieberman, with this loss, became only the fourth incumbent Senator in all of American history to be beaten in a primary.

    Moments after congratulating Lamont, however, Lieberman announced his intention to abandon the Democratic party and run as an Independent in the general election. He spouted sad lines deploring partisan politics - one wonders how partisan politics are possible within a one-party primary - and sounded for all the world like the Republican-in-sheep's-clothing the Left has been painting him as for several years now.

    It was, in the end, a disgusting display.

    The noise levels from the media's chattering classes will spike for a few days with this result. The bloggers won the election for Lamont, they'll say. The Loony Left is taking over the Democratic party, they'll say. It was all about the war, they'll say. As ever, the shortest distance between two points, as far as the news media is concerned, will be the dumbest, simplest answer possible.

    It wasn't about the war. Not all of it. Iraq, of course, was the central motivating factor. Connecticut is a predominantly Democratic state, and some 80% of Democrats strongly oppose the occupation. The news out of Iraq has been uniformly dismal, and it was impossible to forget the manner in which Lieberman had stapled himself to George W. Bush and his collapsing war plan. This was the Democratic Senator, recall, who warned us all that criticizing Bush was terribly dangerous to the country. He said that only a few months ago.

    Columnist Joe Conason weighed in as the polls closed. "The fundamental argument of the propagandists," wrote Conason, "is that opposition to the war in Iraq represents an obsession of the far-left fringe, and that the Democrats will be destroyed by any attempt to extricate our troops from the quicksand. That claim is easily refuted by every reputable survey of public opinion over the past year. Support for the Bush administration's conduct of the war, and for the President himself, has been declining steadily, in fact, since the end of 2004. And every anchorperson, pundit and squawking head seeking to suggest otherwise is either inexcusably ignorant or purposely lying."

    There was more to it than Iraq, however. Lieberman's voting record has been, for the most part, right between the Democratic yardsticks over his 18-year tenure. But he has blown it on a number of notable occasions. Lieberman supported the disastrous Bankruptcy Bill, following a pro-corporate voting record that made him Enron's favorite Democrat.

    William Greider's seminal article "Enron Democrats" tells the tale. "His most important crusade," wrote Greider of Lieberman, "was protecting the loopy accounting for corporate stock options. Nervous regulators recognized early on that the profusion of stock options had the potential to deceive investors while cheating the tax system - illusions that could drive company stock prices to impossible heights. Yet when employees eventually cashed in the options, the companies claimed them as tax deductions. This two-way mirror is symptomatic of the deceptive bookkeeping that permeated corporate affairs during the boom and the bubble."

    "Back in 1993," continued Greider, "when the Financial Accounting Standards Board proposed to stop it, Lieberman went to war. 'I believe that the global pre-eminence of America's vital technological industries could be damaged by the proposal,' he warned. The FASB, he insinuated, was politically motivated or simply didn't grasp the bright promise of the New Economy. Lieberman organized a series of letters warning the accountants' board to stop its meddling. In the Senate, he mobilized a resolution urging the Securities and Exchange Commission to squelch the reform. It passed 88 to 9. The regulators backed off - and stock prices soared on the inflated earnings reports. Whenever FASB tried to reopen the issue, Lieberman jumped them again. He was well rewarded by Silicon Valley and auditing firms."

    It wasn't just the war. It was a long, slow slide that eventually tipped Lieberman's applecart. It was a process of insinuation into the cash-and-carry culture of Washington, DC. It was a series of astonishingly bad votes on incredibly important issues. It was, above all, political cowardice; Lieberman attached himself to Bush while Bush was riding high, and was unable to extract himself as Bush's popularity collapsed.

    It will be interesting to see how this shakes out from here. Big-time Democrats like Senators Lautenberg, Clinton, Obama and Feingold have signaled their intention to support the Democratic nominee from Connecticut. If the GOP pulls the same kind of trick we see in Pennsylvania - funneling cash to the third-party candidate to undercut the Democratic candidate - it will come to light, and Lieberman will be hard-pressed to defend himself.

    This was historic. Opposition to the war was the main issue in this primary, and it was proven to be a winning issue. The effect upon the upcoming midterms will be dynamic. Several Democratic hopefuls will have to do some tall stepping to get around their own Lieberman-like positions on Iraq if they hope to have a shot at the Oval Office in 2008. The media will, of course, blast them for flip-flopping, thus undercutting their nascent campaigns. In short, the deck has been shuffled by Ned Lamont.

    Do not think this was all about the war, however. Joseph Lieberman has been constructing this petard for some time now, out of a variety of disparate pieces. On Tuesday night, he was hoist with it. Time will tell what it will all mean for the rest of us.

    William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know and The Greatest Sedition Is Silence.
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Package Tracking

Published: August 9, 2006

Most of us know that the pleasure of shopping isn’t the actual owning. It’s the anticipation of owning. Case in point: Recently, I made an ordinary online purchase — lots of research, a Web-page receipt, and an e-mail confirmation. But then I noticed there was no package-tracking number in the e-mail, no 18-digit number that looks like someone’s idea of the perfect password. The package came on time — a day early, in fact. But I was sorry I didn’t get to watch it on its travels.

Package tracking is a perfect marriage of high technology and consumer psychology. There are probably still some shoppers for whom the pleasure of mail order is forgetting they’ve ordered anything until it arrives like an early Christmas. The rest of us click on the link that says, “View Package Progress.”

It doesn’t make the package come sooner. It doesn’t prevent it from being lost or stolen or damaged. It certainly doesn’t make what you ordered worth buying. But it’s gratifying, especially when the package isn’t shipped ground or overnight but somewhere in between, a short story of just the right length.

Some people use software to track packages — to automate anticipation. For certain orders, Apple Computer even lets you believe you’re following the tail end of the manufacturing process. Eventually, someone will figure out how to track what you plan to order before you know you’re going to order it. Until then, I’m hoping for a package-tracking Web cam that lets you actually see your box waiting on a loading dock in Rancho Cucamonga or resting quietly in the hold of a cargo plane high over Kansas.


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Evening -

It has been a warm day.  Jeff and Jan were here to play with the kittens.  I close the evening with a poem by Jaan Kaplinski.

    Once I Got a Postcard from the Fiji Islands

    Once I got a postcard from the Fiji Islands
    with a picture of sugarcane harvest.  Then I realized
    that nothing at all is exotic in itself.
    There is no difference between digging potatoes in our
       Mutiku garden
    and sugarcane harvesting in Viti Levu.
    Everything that is is very ordinary
    or, rather, neither ordinary nor strange. 
    Far-off lands and foreign peoples are a dream,
    a dreaming with open eyes
    somebody does not wake from.
    It's the same with poetry - seen from afar
    it's something special, mysterious, festive.
    No, poetry is even less
    special than a sugarcane plantation or potato field.
    Poetry is like sawdust coming down from under the saw
    or soft yellowish shavings from a plane.
    Poetry is washing hands in the evening
    or a clean handkerchief that my late aunt
    never forgot to put in my pocket.

by Jaan Kaplinski  -   Translated from the Estonian by the author with Sam Hamill and Riina Tamm.