Cosmic Rats Multiply

Multiply Blog Archive 3
Multiply Oct. 15 2008 through Mar. 7 2009

Co-Presidents, Co-criminals Dec 24, '08
ESCHEW BUSH Dec 17, '08
Crushing the Cars Dec 13, '08
OUR WIN Nov 6, '08
2008 ELECTION, PART 2 Nov 1, '08
The Cosmic Cabdrivers' Guide to the 2008 Election Oct 29, '08 7:20 AM
Cautious Optimism Oct 15, '08


Here in Phoenix, Arizona, the 6th largest metro area in the nation, we are suddenly deprived of a progressive talk radio station.

 The outlet for Air America and Nova-M, originally 1480 AM KPHX, then 1190 AM KNUV, has gone off the air. For a day or two 1190 had dead air, and is now what sounds like Spanish-language talk radio.

Given the growing popularity of the progressive viewpoint in America, and the success of Barack Obama and Democratic Congressional candidates, at least half the people who listen to politically oriented talk radio would prefer to have liberal to listen to. Yet, Clear Channel, Rush Limbaugh's partner, owns more than 1,200 radio stations nationwide. And there are others, none quite as notorious, but all have secure outlets. Why? Money. Democrats and other progressives can raise a lot of money for a campaign, with millions of people making small donations for the cause. But we aren't the ones with lots of money to buy up radio stations or big investors behind media giants like Clear Channel

Since we won the election, is that a problem? It could be. The right wingers have the amplified voice to constantly pick at a Democratic administration with their distorted facts and twisted simplistic logic, spreading disinformation which can fool the less informed and less educated.

Most of the better educated and politically involved can find a wealth of information on the internet. But many people spend many hours a day, whether driving, traveling, or working outdoors or living in remote areas have only radio, and maybe broadcast TV from which to get information and commentary.

The right wing knows this, and not only do they have access to more money, but they have been working for years to solidify their control of the radio talk media. Contributing to that, ironically, was Bill Clinton's approval of the repeal of limits on ownership of broadcast media. He may not have anticipated the result, but someone should have told him.

I will be researching the state of progressive radio in Phoenix and other cities, and posting any news and information on a new page--Radio News, I have added to my website.  We need to build and maintain a solid nationwide network with outlets covering both major cities and the open road, the rural areas between cities, everywhere in America, so that everyone has available a voice of truth, and not just the disguised voice of greed lying about both facts and ideas.

--captain rat


Charles W. Freeman, Jr. has been appointed to be chairman of the National Intelligence Council. He will be responsible for overseeing the production of National Intelligence Estimates and other analysis.

Having read a February 2008 speech by Ambassador Freeman on US foreign policy in the mideast, reflecting the clearest understanding of foreign policy I have read in some time, I can say that he is highly, perhaps uniquely qualified. 'Why Not Try Diplomacy?' and 'American Interests, Policies, and Results in the Middle East: Energy, Israel, Access, and the Containment of Muslim Rage'  by Chas Freeman

lWe have all heard the US economy referred to as a house of cards, both before and after the current recession crisis, but it has not always been clear exactly what that means.

This article by Mark Levine explains it clearly

Cheap consumer goods and credit created a 'debt house of cards'

the debt to equity ratio was a totally unsustainable 100 to one. This was so unstable that even a one per cent fall in the price of the final investment at the end of the chain "wipes out the initial capital and creates a chain of margin calls that unravel this debt house of cards".

It is important not only restore prosperity to the economy, but to make it into a stable and well-regulated one.


Recently Israel's Prime Minister made the statement that, though new Israeli settlements in the West Bank would not be allowed, existing ones would be allowed "natural growth".  It was an infuriating and frustrating thing for him to say.

 As if hopes for peace efforts weren't already tattered enough by the Gaza invasion, this seemed to imply that Israel was not at all interested in pursuing an agreement involving a Palestinian state.

Though US media often says as little as possible about the Middle East conflict, recently 60 Minutes did a report examining the situation in the West Bank: 

  Apparently CBS  got a great deal of criticism over that.  But as the peace advocates of J-Street point out, we need to learn the whole story.

 Along with the video is a link enabling viewers to voice support to Bob Simon and 60 Minutes for reporting the truth about conditions and treatment of Palestinians, and the impediment created by the Jewish settlements to the 2-state solution that nearly everyone agrees is the only sensible path to peace.

It is hard to understand the thinking of Israelis who go to build settlements on land that they know will probably not remain under Israel's control, at least not without a permanant state of hostility, and not without having their nation lose respect and approval in the eyes of the world.  Who would want that?

What seems even more amazingly shortsighted is that those in government, who should have wisdom equal to their responsibility, have failed to discourage the settlers.  It is a predictable result that eventually the government will need to come in conflict with its own citizens to remove them, and that in the meantime they will be an irritant exacerbating hostilities.

Reasoned criticism of Israel's policies is certainly not equivalent to being against Israel.  While it may sometimes seem heroic to defy the world, it is often wiser to listen.

NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW Jan 18, '09 7:03 AM

Is it true that no one is above American law?  The answer determines whether we do or don't have the kind of Constitutional government by and for the people that we have always been taught.

I submitted the following message to Barack Obama's Citizens' Briefing Book, a website forum for input, provided by the Transition Project:

Bush and his fellow lawbreakers must be prosecuted for the torture, the denial of civil liberties and justice to detainees, unwarranted surveilance, and most of all for starting a war for reasons he knew to be false, resulting in the deaths of thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and others in the Middle East. Both the legitimacy of our political system and our reputation world-wide depend on it. There are far too many Americans who are cynical; who think that noting can change, that there is no difference between politicians or parties; that there are no ideals being pursued but greed and power.  Please, prove them wrong.  Give us justice we can believe in.

Will Bush pardon himself?  It has been said that he can, though it never has been done.  It seems absurd, but there is no law saying he can't.

If he did, it would be admitting guilt.  But his guilt, just from the public record alone, is already undeniable.  Or, he could rely on his version of the Nixon Doctrine:  "If the President does it, it is not illegal." 

Either way, if he were to get away with it, that says that there is someone above the law:  the President.  It would mean that, all those years,  we were lied to.  The ending of the Pledge to the Flag:" ...with liberty and justice for all."--a lie.

Wouldn't that be an interesting legacy for history to remember?

Even if that happens, he can be prosecuted in any of the states for murder, just as Vincent Bugliosi has written.  And, he can be prosecuted by the World Court.

KILLING FOR PEACE Jan 6, '09 6:13 AM

"Israel ignored mounting international calls for a cease-fire Monday and said it won't stop its crippling 10-day assault until 'peace and tranquility' are achieved in southern Israeli towns in the line of Palestinian rocket fire." [AP]

Both peace AND tranquility?  Isn't that a lot to expect for only killing 500 people?  We're killed way more than that in Iraq, and all we've got is kinda-sorta relative peace, but hardly any tranquility at all.

Seriously, I want Israel to have peace and security.  I want the Palestinians to have it too, and neither will if both don't.  But right now, Israel is screwing it up.

To be fair, the Israeli government has reason to think it's doing what the voters want.  Polls there show that a majority of Israelis think it was a good idea to attack Gaza to try to stop the rockets.  Normally it is commendable to do what the people want, but in Israel the people are influenced by fear.  And it's not unreasonable fear. 

Unlike America, which after Sept. 11 was propagandized by Bush & Co. into exaggerated irrational fear in order to use it against us to get what they wanted, danger is real in Israel.  Even so, fear is a bad thing; it keeps people from thinking clearly.  Instead of continuing the cycle of violence, both sides should be working very hard to build an atmosphere of peace and trust.

Although still a minority, many Israelis have protested and demonstrated against the Gaza attack.  Much like American antiwar protesters, at least in the beginning, they are mostly ignored.  Still, they are trying.  So is J Street:

J Street reiterates its call for strong and immediate American diplomatic leadership to bring an end to the violence through an immediate ceasefire.

J Street unequivocally condemns Hamas’ indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel and its use of terror against civilians over the years.

We reiterate that J Street is deeply committed to Israel, its security and the safety of its citizens.

However, as Americans and as friends and supporters of Israel, we do not believe the continuation of the present military operation is in the best interests of either the United States or Israel. "

About those Hamas rockets, although by no means do they justify the scope and ferocity of the Israeli reaction, one must wonder what logical purpose they have served.  The result, a provoked  attack, must have been expected.  And the result of that, clearly, is more suffering by the Palestinians in Gaza and putting the possibility of peace even further into the future.

The fact that Gazans had serious grievances, especially the blockade, may explain the desire to strike out against Israel, but it doesn't mean that it made sense.

The two sides may curse one another and do violence from now till the end of time, and partisans of each sitting on the sidelines can assign blame and keep score forever as well, and nothing will change.



Cuba's revolution is 50 years old.  That's quite a respectable achievement, considering the nation's close proximity to the immensely larger and more powerful US.

The US, which has meddled with and destroyed governments all over the hemisphere, has imposed poverty on the Cuban people with a trade embargo, attempted to assassinate Fidel Castro several times, and sponsored terrorist actions inside Cuba.  The Bay of Pigs invasion by American trained anti-Castro Cuban exiles was doomed to failure by JFK's wise decision not to support it with air-power.  It has been speculated that Kennedy would have ended the embargo if he had lived.  We'll never know.

The Cuban missle crisis resulted from the not-unreasonable fear that the US still might invade Cuba.  Castro hoped that the Russian missles would be a deterrence to any such attack.  Kennedy, of course, couldn't be sure that the Cuban or Russian intention was purely defensive; thus, the showdown.

Despite unreasoned US hostility, Cuba has remained a good and peaceful neighbor.  Its government has provided Cubans with a universal health care system, something the US has yet to do.  Illiteracy has been virtually erased.

There is hope now that Obama will finally normalize relations and end the embargo.  It is a move long overdue.


Unlike the Iraq invasion and occupation, which has almost universally been realized to have been useless and harmful, some still consider the invasion of Afghanistan to have been justified because it was used as a base by Osama Bin Ladin and his followers.

Of those who continue to believe that, almost all are Americans.  Though there were once as many as 4 countries where a majority agreed with keeping troops there, including the UK and Australia, now the US is the only one left.  From the beginning the vast majority of the world thought the military invasion was a bad idea, which of course it was.

So why do so many Americans continue to bury our  proverbial heads in the sand about Afghanistan?

First, though it is known that plans were made to invade WELL BEFORE Sept. 11, it seems not enough of us have fully grasped the implications of that. In March of 2001 an article in Jane's Information Group (a publication for defense contractors offering 'insider' information on upcoming military actions) suggested that invasion plans were being made.  In June of 2001 the Pakistani foreign minister was told that there would be an Afghanistan invasion by October.  By September 9th, the exact plan that was used, with the same official excuse (getting Bin Ladin), was presented in a National Security Presidential Directive.  Whatever else you might think about the Sept. 11 attacks, the words "AWFULLY CONVENIENT" undeniably apply.

Second, though we got news from Afghanistan, by the time questions might have begun to be asked about the rationale, the Iraq invasion became the center of attention.  In other words, the second, and far more disastrous, war served to distract attention from the first.

Third, many still think of the originally stated purpose, killing or capturing Bin Ladin, as being the legitamate response to Sept. 11, and assume we need to stay in control of Afghanistan to do that.

There are a couple of problems with that thinking.  The plan to get Bin Ladin was made before there was a Sept. 11 to blame him for.  The Taliban, before we invaded, offered to give him up if credible evidence of his guilt were presented.  It never was, and in fact he is not actually charged for that crime.  It has become fairly clear that neither before nor after Sept. 11 did the Bush administration actually intend to "get" Bin Ladin, but only to appear to be trying to do so.  He was much more valuable as a hateable personification of terrorism.

So, with no legitimate reason for invading, do we have a reason for continuing to occupy?  The rationale now may be "We broke it, so we have to fix it."  Sure we could help improve their infrastructure.  But no matter what we do to the Taliban, what happens when we finally leave will be entirely up to the people of Afghanistan.

Keeping in mind the general truth that invading a nation always causes it harm, which increases the longer the occupation, what should we do about Aghanistan?

Perhaps we should be even more concerned with what the occupation of another country may do to us.  Unjust conquests and unwarranted offensives are nothing new to the US, but each one  has made it easier to do the next, or leads to the next, and each one slices off a piece of our honor, our reputation among nations, and the trust in us by the citizens of the world.

That is not to say that we have not done good things, providing aid in times of need, defending nations and people who were genuine victims.  But that does not justify the selfish and harmful actions, motivated by the greed of those with too much influence. It will not be easy to keep the acquisitive under control, but right now, when we can clearly see it, is the time to start.

Co-Presidents, Co-criminals Dec 24, '08 7:43 PM

Onlookers have speculated for some time that Dick Cheney has played an unusually major role in policymaking for a Vice President.  After a thorough study of the Bush administration, Shirley Anne Warshaw calls it the Co-Presidency.  Her book 'The Copresidency of Bush and Cheney', will be out in April.

I recently heard her speak on the subject on CSPAN.  Right after Bush's semi-election in 2000, even before the court decision, Cheney had begun choosing Bush's cabinet.  He also set up dual offices for himself and Bush, with procedures insuring that both got the same information and communications at the same time.

Washaw states that Bush willingly let Cheney run the foreign policy and business aspects, while Bush himself concentrated on turning  his right-wing religious beliefs into public policy.

That explains why George just kept reading the goat story on Sept. 11.  He was thinking 'That's not my department-- Dick will handle it.'

Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's Former Chief of Staff, said ' In my view—an insider's view—Dr. Warshaw is too kind. Dick Cheney was not copresident, he was president.'

None of this lets Bush off the hook.  He had the responsibility.  It only means both Bush and Cheney are criminals, and both should be charged as co-conspirators to break Federal laws.

Next to starting two unjustifiable wars which killed more Americans than the Sept. 11 attacks, the most heinous and damaging act was to allow and encourage illegal and inhuman torture of detainees.

Recently justice has come to another torturer. Chuckie Taylor, son of former Liberian president Charles Taylor, was found guilty of torture and related crimes by a US court on October 30. He was the leader of a so-called anti-terrorist unit, the Demon Forces, operating under his father's rule.  His father is also on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity at The Hague.

Chuckie Taylor, a natural-born citizen of the US, used electric shocks on the genitals, burning with cigarettes, hot irons and melting plastic, and rubbing salt into wounds, between 1999 and 2003. The US anti-torture law applies to acts of torture committed anywhere in the world, and can be used to charge anyone found in the US, regardless of citizenship.

This conviction was the first use of the law which was passed in 1994.  There is no reason why it could not be applied to anyone in (or under the control of) the Bush administration who can be proved to have conducted, ordered, or authorized torture.

There also persons from Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Haiti, who are now living in the US, who might also be charged with similar crimes committed in their own countries

The law was passed in compliance with US agreement to the UN Convention Against Torture:

Article 2

1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.

2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political in stability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.

That just about covers it, doesn't it?  


For the most part I see no problem with the President-elect's choices for cabinet and other positions.  He has said he wants diversity of opinion, and that final decisions will be his.  That is a good approach.

There is one that I have doubts about:  Robert Gates. Back when Bush appointed Gates to the job, I did a little research on him, and wrote the following:

Robert Gates: Anything But the Truth

Robert Gates has a long history of twisting intelligence to fit an agenda. When he speaks of Iran, (or anything else) count on misrepresentation or outright lies.

Gates began his CIA career in 1966. His speciality has been that of an intelligence analyst, not an operative. His reputation has been of one who would edit the information provided to him so that it serves the agenda of his superiors. By emphasizing some facts and omitting others, he could insure that the desired conclusions were drawn. He learned this dubious skill well while working under CIA director William Casey.

This has not always been standard operating proceedure in the CIA. Most intelligence professionals are far more dedicated to accuracy and truth. However, those who took the 'tell the boss what he wants to hear' approach tended to get the promotions.

Under Casey and Gates' leadership, the fall of the Soviet Union actually seemed to come as a surprise because he consistently spun intelligence to portray the USSR as a stronger threat than it was. When Reagan accused the Russians of encouraging violent terrorist acts, Gates obediently suppressed information that they actually discouraged such behavior as counterproductive.

Gates participated in secret contacts with Iranian officials in 1980 to DELAY release of the 52 hostages then held in Iran, to benefit Reagan's political campaign. Once elected. Reagan used Israel to transfer arms to Iran to fulfill his end of the bargain.

Gates was also involved in arranging arms sales to Iraq, in accordance with Reagan's tactic of keeping both sides even to prolong the Iran-Iraq war.

Also fully aware of the Iran-Contra deal, he has managed to cover his tracks well enough so that many of his activities could not be proved, despite convincing evidence.

There are real and potentially lasting dangers to the tactic of letting bias and ideology determine the 'facts'.

It is possible that since his early days Gates has developed more integrity and judgment.  It did not appear that he has ever had a problem following orders.  I can see where he might be useful.  I'm just not sure he can be trusted.

This quote is a matter for concern:  Either way, no one expects the American presence to end soon, clearly not Defense Secretary Gates. When asked by Charlie Rose in a PBS interview last week how big the American 'residual' force would be in Iraq after 2011, Mr. Gates replied that although the mission would change, 'my guess is that you’re looking at perhaps several tens of thousands of American troops.'

We need to make sure the Iraq exit happens on or ahead of schedule, and then we need to push to get us out of Afghanistan.  Gates may need to make an early exit of his own.

--captain rat

ESCHEW BUSH Dec 17, '08 3:29 PM

The man who threw his shoes at George Bush in Iraq is a hero in my view.  His arm spoke eloquently not only for his countrymen, the many tens of thousands who were killed, maimed, tortured, and made homeless by our lying President's war of aggression, but for millions of Americans as well, who mourn not only American dead but Iraqis as well, and who mourn also the loss of our honor among nations of the world.

We have a little more time before Bush is out of office, time he is using to make speeches to try and put a positive spin on his Presidency, often so full of lies that we want to shout at the TV screen, or reach through it and choke him.

I do not suggest that anyone actually throw shoes at Bush in person, since it could result in sudden death or prison.  But I believe that shoe-throwing should be the theme of the last days of Bush, in solidarity with that Iraqi hero and his victimized nation.

I would like to see many videos made of shoes thrown at pictures or effigies of Bush, Cheney, etc.  Someone should make a computer game of it.  Draw cartoons.  Make signs.  "SHOE YOU, GEORGE BUSH!"

Let's send him out like he deserves. Then, let's prosecute him for his crimes.

Crushing the Cars Dec 13, '08 4:11 PM

Much has been said about the bad management of the 3 major US automakers.  Indeed they do have, as the analogy goes, too many steering and not enough rowing the proverbial canoe.

For many years they have made shortsighted decisions about the kind of products they produce.  They may have been heavily influenced by the oil companies, or at least acted as if they were, in producing too many inefficient vehicles and failing to develop non-petroleum dependent models.  Their management was much too highly paid, especially considering their marginal profit and sometimes losses.

However, it does not really matter what they deserve or don't deserve.  It happens that those companies represent over 2.2 million jobs, and another 4 million jobs dependent on the auto industry.  There is no question that something must be done to keep them in business, preferably in a way that will redirect them to operate more rationally and in the national interest.

So, after extensive questioning and discussion, one would expect Congress to agree to loan the companies enough to get them through the current credit crisis and make the necessary improvements.

The problem, in the Senate, is the party who brought us Nixon, Reagan, Bush I and Bush II, the party determined to make American workers just as defenseless, desperate and exploitable as they are in many third-world countries where corporations now outsource many jobs formerly done in the US.

Senator Corker and other Republicans want to force the United Auto Workers to cut workers' wages, making even more concessions than they already have, in order to approve the loans.

Toyota workers in the US, interestingly, are actually earning more than those of the "big 3", because of profit-sharing.  Domestic company workers have profit sharing too, but there haven't been profits lately.

Management is the problem, but the Republicans want to attack labor.  It's a familiar pattern.  Saudis fly planes into our buildings, so they attack Afghans and Iraqis.

--captain rat


It appears that  more and more people are becoming increasingly aware of the multiplicity of conspiracy theories floating about on the internet, books, and even radio and TV.  This is not surprising, given that we have all lived through 8 years of the most devious, deceptive, and corrupt Presidential administration America has ever had.  

It has led us to question the truth and intention, often quite rightly, of everything our government has done, and speculate on what it might do.  

It has led us to look into a great deal of our history that has been under-taught, and realize that many reprehensible acts have been done by our government in the past that are quite opposite to the ideals of truth, justice, and liberty that we were taught in school.

Many of us also remember the Vietnam war as our first powerful lesson that our government can go tragically, disastrously wrong and cost the lives of many thousands of both Americans and others, needlessly.

We are wise to keep our eyes and ears alert for hints of hidden intentions, covert actions, and authoritarian agendas, and it is good to share and discuss them with other intelligent people.

But, there are also myriad trails that lead nowhere.  Conclusion-jumping is a major sport on the web.  Some of it has an agenda of pointing the blame for everything toward whatever group the writer happens to hate.  Others are well-intentioned, but lack any substantiation for their theory.

It is worthwhile to investigate any honest speculation or suspicion for more evidence, so I do not dismiss them entirely as wrong-- just not proven.  Conspiracies have existed and undoubtedly do exist.  Generally speaking, though, the grander the scale of the supposed plot, the less likely it is to be true.

Question authority...and everything else, too.

--captain rat

COSMIC ECONOMICS Nov 19, '08 5:29 AM

If nothing else, the financial crisis has raised awareness and interest in the subject of economics, even among those who, like me, who don't care too much for money (because "money can't buy me love").

It seems the non-greedy have left economics to the theorists, the ideologically motivated, and the greedy themselves for far too long.  After all, having the economy work properly is important to prevent widespread unemployment, homelessness, and hunger.  We don't especially care about the CEO's of Ford, GM, and Chrysler, but we do care about the millions of Americans and others worldwide who would suffer if those companies failed.

Economics, it should by now be obvious, is part science and part art.  It is by no means pure science.  That is why theories, especially those that claim that any system will work without careful management, are of little value.  That does not mean that nothing can be learned, but we must remember that while calculating money is mathematical, economics is human behavior with money, and that changes everything.

As I write this I am watchiong CSPAN coverage of the automakers begging Congress for bailout loans to avoid bankruptcy. followed by oversight hearings of the financial company bailout already passed.

What is most frustrating to the public and to uch of Congress as well is that it appears that huge amounts of money is being spent that, in effect, rewards failure, or at least fails to punish it.  Those who are in charge of the "too-big-to-fail" companies, though we did not elect them ARE responsible to ALL the American people, not just themselves or their stockholders.  They should all at least lose their jobs, and perhaps be subject to class action suits for mismanagement of OUR money.

The other frustrating thing is that nobody seems to know for sure whether saving these companies will in fact restore the economy, though they continue to try to find out.

An interesting little fact came out: AIG was selling insurance on investments to those who did not actually own those investments.  And, according to the Federal Reserve chairman, that was legal!  I find that bizarre.

In situations like this, I believe we need to go beyond economic ideology stereotypes.  When a company needs saving, and there is no guarantee that a government loan will be properly used or effective, Congress should nationalize it.  The government-- we, the people-- would not buy the company, but it would run it, and management would be civil servants paid by the government who would assure that it operated in the public interest.

If such a company is restored to sustainable profitability, it could eventually be returned to private management, perhaps on a gradual basis.

In this way the responsibility of these saved companies to the public could be assured by transparent management.

--captain rat


All states have laws allowing unintentional parents to drop off babies they are not prepared to raise at such places as hospitals and fire stations.  Otherwise, some infants were left in dumpsters, public restrooms, or were killed and buried or hidden.  These laws have no doubt saved many, and are a good idea.

Nebraska's legislature forgot to specify the age of children who could be legally abandoned.  Out of 33 children abandoned since July, 20 have been teenagers from 13 to 17.

The state is now working on an amendment specifying only infants, like the laws in other states.  Once they announced this, the number of abandonments has increased due to parents trying to beat the deadline.

One might see some humor in this, especially those who have teenagers, but this legislative mistake has pointed to a serious underlying problem, not just in Nebraska, but in many others as well:

There are a lot of desperate parents out there, and many of them are not getting any help.  What happens when a child has a behavior problem caused by a mental or emotional problem, and the parent can't afford to get treatment?  Millions have no private insurance, and if they do it may not cover mental health.  Some states may provide services, though they are often underfunded, and it is often difficult and intimidating to try to qualify for help.

Most such parents try to do the best they can, and some such children come out all right.  Others go from kids with problems to adults with problems-- legal, emotional, financial, or all of the above.  

How frustrated and out of other options must a parent be to give up a child because it is the only way to maybe get that child the help he or she needs?

Imagine.  And for years insurance companies, drug companies, the AMA, and all the Republicans they can buy have opposed a national health care plan like they have in most other civilized countries.  Opposed it out of greed, pure and simple.

Finally we have elected a President who has promised to get such a system passed, and he should be able to do it  Better late than never.  But too late for millions who have died from lack of wealth.  Too late for all the parents and all the children who never got the care they needed, and who suffered because of it.  Needlessly.

--cosmic rat


While the election news was mostly good, there were some sour notes in ballot initiative propositions.

You may recall I wrote of Arizona's anti-same-sex marriage proposition:


It doesn't actually say that, but that's what it means.  Whenever you deny a civil right to any class of human being who is a citizen, you have declared them second-class citizens, just as was once done with slavery, and with the segregation that followed. The only reason to oppose gay marriage is pure hatred and intolerance.  There is no logical argument against allowing same-sex marriage.  Why should I, as a heterosexual, be in any way disturbed or offended if any two people of any sex or orientation love one another and want to marry?  I shouldn't, and don't.

The same is true of California's proposition #8, and a similar one in Florida.

Though the principle of equal civil rights should come naturally to Americans, once again we find ourselves BEHIND most other democratic governments in putting principles into practice.

It seems that every group that is a victim of bigotry must struggle on its own to gain equality.  Perhaps there is a flaw in human nature that leads the unthinking person to be  prejudiced against the identifiably different.  They are seemingly unable to learn from the history of racial minorities, religious minorities, and women.

 The obvious lesson is that there is no justification to deprive any class of human being of equality under law.  Too many, though, just don't get it.

Another outrage, in Arkansas, was a ban on adoptions by couples who are not married.

On the bright side, in Connecticut the voting age for primaries was lowered to 17.   Massachusetts decriminalized marijuana. Michigan approved medical marijuana and removed restrictions on stem-cell research.

Directing education from the fringe

American education has a long way to go...especially in Texas.  Obviously it's time to start paying attention to those local school board elections.  Because they are local and seemingly less important, many people don't look closely at who is running, allowing some anti-intellectual ideologues to sneak in.

Improving education in the US will require much more than just increased funding, though obviously that is sorely needed.  People everywhere need to make sure the people in charge of schools and school boards are actually pro-education and not there to suppress the intellectual development of young people.

No one should need reminding that whether or not you have school-age offspring, you should care how well the future citizens and leaders of our country and the world are educated.

---captain rat

OUR WIN Nov 6, '08 12:58 AM

As I am sure you know, I am elated and extremely pleased by Barack Obama's victory; his election as our 44th President.

Whether you share my feelings or not, I am very optimistic and hopeful that in the coming year it will become clearly evident that we ALL won on November 4, 2008; not just Democrats but all Americans and all peaceful citizens of the World.

There are hard tasks ahead for the next President and for all of us, to fix the broken economy, to restore the bent Constitution, and to work hard for international peace, a task long ignored.

But I believe Americans have made the right choice, to head in the direction we need to go.

Already, just because we elected Barack Obama, people around the world are seeing Americans in a better light, expressing optimism for a new era of cooperation, respect, and humanitarianism in the near future.  We must still make sure that we those intentions become actions.

And because we elected him, millions of Americans no longer believe there is an artificial barrier between who they are and what they want to become.

--cosmic rat


The Big Picture

In the previous 2 installments I covered most of the specifics, including local Arizona details.  Details are important, and everyone should study each of theirs carefully.

But let us also look at The Big Picture.  On the national level, this is not just another election.  It may very well be one of the most critical decisions in the history of the United States of America.  I would place it in the TOP THREE most important elections-- the other two being that of Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

And, because the world has become ever more inter-dependent, and the US, like it or not, has a disproportional effect on that world, this election is important to every citizen of Planet Earth as well.  Prosperity and harmony both lie in the balance.

Putting it simply, the choice is between (1) the US against the world or (2) the US working in harmony with the world.

If you think choice #1 is an exaggeration, look closely at our history-- not just the big wars, but the interventions, the covert actions, the economic warfare, and the intimidating threats, and you will see there is very little of the world that we have not, at some time or other, pushed around or treated with hostility.  This did not begin with the Bush administration, but it has reached an ugly peak in the last 8 years.  We often hear the phrase "National Interests", used to mean securing someone else's resources for American use, and preventing someone else from accessing them.

It does not take too much intelligence and vision to realize that our true "national interest" lies in harmonious relations with the rest of the world, not in dominating it.

Choice #2 does not mean that peace and harmony will happen overnight, nor even that a better-led America can achieve it alone.  It means that peace must become our goal, and that we can start in that direction.  By electing a man who pledges to  restore true diplomacy to foreign policy, we not only choose that leader, but we say to the world that we,  the American people, WANT peace and harmony, not greed and war.

The other major choice at stake is whether to restore a working and stable economy, which will involve catching up to the rest of the world in both intelligently and humanely managing our economic system.

Our economy has been like a vehicle with a powerful engine but poor steering and brakes.  Due to the ideology of magic capitalism we have failed to intelligently regulate it.  We have let it run us instead of us controlling it.  And again, when it goes out of control and threatens to wreck, it endangers not only all Americans but other nations' economies as well.

Most, if not all the other economically developed nations of the world have adequate controls on their own systems, and means of assuring that a fair amount of the wealth returns to the people who do the actual work to produce it, and who, in turn, make their nations prosperous as consumers.

Most all of them have a national health care system, which we in the US conspicuously and shamefully lack.  As a result we pay far more as a whole for health care, leave millions of our citizens without care, and have a lower life expectancy.

Barack Obama is as much a symbol of our choice to change America for the better as he is an agent of that change.  He will need the help of Congress, and we must also elect Congresspersons who will help.  He will need, and enthusiastically welcome, the help of all of us, the people who want change, who care about the entire world, not just our part, the people who want to work hard and build our own country, make our society more compassionate and tolerant, and lead others by example, not by force.

It is November 4, 2008.  GO VOTE, if you haven't already, no matter how long it takes.  Stand in line, make new friends.  Remember, you're making history.

--captain rat

2008 ELECTION, PART 2 Nov 1, '08 7:07 AM

As promised,here are the last 2 propositions. While some of this might bore non-Arizonies, politics is politics, and sometimes it spills over.

This is a Republican state, though that could change in time as we gain population from elsewhere. It's even possible Obama could win here, in McCain's home state.  That would be great. We have a Democratic governor, and my Congressman is a Democrat.


Arizona already has a law that provides for loss of business licenses for hiring illegal aliens. This is a revision that partially lets them off the hook.

The current law, which needs no modification, is the only potential approach likely to reduce the flow of undoumented immigration.

Much bovine manure has been spread over the immigration issue. Most of the spreaders are simply xenophobes.  The only  valid issue is that immigrants, accepting lower wages, may lower wages in general, and make it  harder for   citizens to find  jobs.

I want immigration to be legal, without artificial limits.  That would put  immigrants on an even footing with citizens, and vice versa.

Until then, the employers seeking to  exploit their illegality for cheap labor should be  punished.



As soon as I finish rolling on the floor laughing my ass off, I'm going to say


--captain rat, embedded citizen voter, reporting from Arizona, USA

The Cosmic Cabdrivers' Guide to the 2008 Election Oct 29, '08 7:20 AM

for everyone I'm in Arizona, so the following reflects my options, and my choices.

PRESIDENT: Barack Obama, of course.  You knew that.  Barr, McKinney, and Nader are also available, but a vote is a terrible thing to waste.

US REPRESENTATIVE: Ed Pastor is one of the good guys, and we need them all.  Rebecca Dewitt, a Greenie, is also on the ballot, but we can't waste votes here, either.

STATE SENATOR, DISTRICT 13: Richard Miranda, a Democrat, is running unopposed.  That makes for an easy Miranda Decision.

STATE REPRESENTATIVE, DISTRICT 13 Steve Gallardo and Martha Garcia, both Democrats, and a Republican named Schwartz are listed.  Since I can vote for two, that leaves Schwartz out.

CORPORATION COMISSIONER: Sandra Kennedy, Paul Newman, and Sam George, all Democrats, are running a clever campaign as "George, Kennedy, and Paul Newman"  They pledge to support renewable energy.  I get to pick 3.  There are also 3 Republicans.

COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: Lee Strickman (D) and Max Wilson (R) are the options.  Wilson is the incumbent, and partly responsible for the BOS's  lax oversight of out-of-control vigilante Sherrif Joe Arpiao.  I'm voting for Lee.

COUNTY ASSESSOR: Rachel Kielsky, a Libertarian, is running against the incumbent Republican.  If there is a perfect job for a Libertarian, it would be  property tax assessor


Propositions are popular in Arizona.  It looks like we have about 8 this year  They are:

100  'NO NEW REAL ESTATE TRANSFER TAXES'    Ho, hum.  The arguments are 'we don't like taxes' vs. 'we might need taxes' How often do I, or any homeowner,  transfer real estate?  Those who do it a lot probably have too much money.  I vote no.


Freedom of choice sounds like a good thing, right?    Can you see right through this without even reading it?

'No law shall be passed that restricts a person's freedom of choice of private health care systems or private plans...'

Yes, they're trying to torpedo any effective state health care plan before we even have one.  I doubt it would affect a national one, though they might try.  This is a blatant attempt by the insurance companies and the AMA to keep their cash cows.

The lack of universal health care in this country is downright horrifying, and it shocks people in other countries who learn about it.  Those who would stand in the way of establishing one for their own private profit are detestable.

Health care in Arizona is almost nonexistent  One has to be almost destitute and be able to prove it to qualify for any help at all, mental or physical.  Freedom of choice?  Sure, you can go to the emergency room of a hospital.  They have to treat you.  Then they bill you an outrageous amount, which you can't pay, which the Credit Gods duly note on your record.  Any real freedom of choice is for the rich, or those who can afford health insurance.  Of course, health insurance companies will happily drop you like a hot potato if you get really sick and start costing them real money.  They prefer healthy people.



It doesn't actually say that, but that's what it means.  Whenever you deny a civil right to any class of human being who is a citizen, you have declared them second-class citizens, just as was once done with slavery, and with the segregation that followed. The only reason to oppose gay marriage is pure hatred and intolerance.  There is no logical argument for it.

Why should I, as a heterosexual, be in any way disturbed or offended if any two people of any sex or orientation love one another and want to marry?  I shouldn't, and don't. Another ABSOLUTELY NO

103 AND 104  (They skipped these numbers)


Suspicious already?  You should be.  'Any ballot initiative for a mandatory tax or spending increase must be approved by a majority of qualified electors registered to vote in the state.' Read that carefully.  That's not a majority of those who vote, but of those who COULD vote.  So, unless someone stirred up some major enthusiasm, it would be almost impossible to get anything at all passed if it cost money.  Funding for schools, health care, roads, bridges?  Don't bother taking it to the people!

That almost beats #101 for deceptive titles.  I think everyone should vote, but they don't, especially in the off-years, when there are only local and state elections.  Despite the fact that there are some bad propositions, we have a right to propose.  This would make it useless. HELL, NO

106 THROUGH 199 (They skipped these, too)


This one sounded good at first, but I'm not so sure.  Payday loan shops and  combined check cashing centers have been springing up on nearly every major intersection.  If you need a loan, you write them a check which they agree to hold  before depositing it.  That service costs you 17.5% of the principle for a 2-week loan.  That's 455% annual interest.  The only advantage over the old mafia loan shark is they don't have a big Italian guy beat you up if you can't pay.

So, this strict new reform act has boldly cut the permissible interest rate to only 15%, around 390% annual rate.  Are you impressed?  Me, neither.

Payday loaners are currently allowed under a law that expires in 2010, so they are trying for a new authorization to take its place, lest they no longer be licensed to operate.  What better way than to call it reform?

Any other kind of lender in Arizona is limited to 36% annually.  That should be plenty. I'm voting NO.


Finally, one I can vote YES on.  Still, it isn't as good as it sounds-- it only helps those who buy NEW houses.  Since my house was built in the 1940's, that leaves me out.  It makes the builder responsible for defects of design and construction of houses they sell, which is a good thing.  If you pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for a new house, it at least ought to be well built.  With the get-rich-quick developers out there, you can't be sure of that.  Vote yes.

STAY TUNED FOR #202 AND #300  (They left out 203 through 299)

--captain rat,

reporting from the Arizona desert, October 29, 2008.

Cautious Optimism Oct 15, '08 10:50 PM

The prospects for a Barack Obama Presidency, for many of us the only sane and sensible choice, are looking much better.  The closeness in the polls for awhile was puzzling, but the barrage of negative Republican campaign messages and false rumor-mongering were enough to confuse many people, at least temporarily.  The picture is beginning to clear up as voters adjust their  political rabbit-ears. We must not, however, take the future for granted, nor assume that everyone has learned the truth.  The McCain campaign and his unofficial surrogates will continue to exaggerate and lie right up to the end.  We can be sure of that, but we can't be sure what new fantasies their imaginations might invent.  The general caution should be:   consider the source.

So far, McCain and his supporters have: [1] Lied about Obama's religion and citizenship [2] Lied about Obama's taxation plans [3] Lied about the reason Obama could not visit wounded troops on one occasion [4] Attempted to imply guilt by association with: his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright,  Bill Ayers, Rashid Khalidi, and Raila Odinga. [5] Falsely claimed that Fannie Mae executives Frank Raines, Tim Howard, and Jim Johnson were Obama advisers. [6] Falsely accused Obama and his wife of not being patriotic. [7] Attempted to slander ACORN, a highly beneficial organization that has done nothing wrong, and attempting to exaggerate Obama's connection with it.   [8] Falsely claimed that because Obama has voted to protect a woman's right to choose to terminate a pregnancy, he is in favor of infanticide.

The fact that these sleazy tactics are absurd and their statements easily disprovable doesn't seem to matter to the McCain people.  The theory is that if you lie consistently, you will get some people to believe them.

Check the facts at, or the independent fact-checker

As I write this I am listening to the October 15 debate, and can hardly believe that John McCain himself is telling outright lies about Obama's positions on issues RIGHT AFTER HEARING OBAMA CLEARLY EXPLAIN THEM.   

Lies have worked in the past.  Joe McCarthy used them successfully for a while, before being discredited.  He did great harm to many.  They worked for Nixon, Reagan, and both Bush #1, although no one has ever out-lied Bush #2. McCain has a good shot already at breaking that record.  But Americans are learning  to tell the difference, and not to believe just anyone with a microphone.

We still need all the votes we can get.  Whether  you wanted Dennis Kucinich, or Hillary Clinton, or Obama from the beginning, vote for Barack Obama.