Northern Valley Beacon

Information, observations, and analysis from the James River valley on the Northern Plains----- E-Mail: Enter 'Beacon' in subject box. Send to:

Thursday, September 29, 2005


If you are middle class or below, you are on death row.

And George W. and his cronies put you there and he ain't signing no pardons.

Overnight ethanol regular jumped from $2.59 a gallon to $2.99. And this news came out about natural gas:

Carl Neill, an analyst at Risk Management Inc., a natural gas consultant and brokerage firm Chicago, said today, "The public has absolutely no idea how high prices are going to be this year. It's going to be mind-boggling. Prices are going to be 50 to 100 percent higher for residential consumers than in previous year."

When we put in natural gas heat, we were told that an abundant and affordable supply was available far into the 21st century.

You are going to be paying these energy prices, if you can afford to stay warm, and you are going to paying for the Bush war on Iraq, for Katrina and Rita, and in the process pumping billions into the coffers of Halliburton and friends.

You had better look to see if you are covered by the Emancipation Proclamation, because it looks like George W. and his corporate cronies regard you as slaves. Equal opportunity slaves, of course.

Providing you can afford to stay warm.


Homestake request is a contingency fund

The $20 million Gov. Rounds is requesting for the Homestake Goldmine won't be spent on developing an interim laboratory unless scientists actually show up looking for a place to conduct their experiments, the Governor explained yesterday.

We recap. When mining operations stopped at Homestake, scientists who need a deep underground facility for doing their work were almost unanimous in endorsing Homestake as a great place for a national laboratory. It can have labs as deep as 8,000 feet and is large enough to house many laboratory stations in one place, a situation that could be a tremendous savings in operating costs. Scientists were excited about the proposal to convert Homestake into a huge research lab because they saw opportunities to do experiments that they simply could not find the money to support as individual projects.

The support was enthusiastic until the mine's owner, Barrick Gold Corp., insisted that it would not turn over the mine to any other entity unless it was relieved of environmental liabilities that the mining operation may have caused. The corporation said that if anyone wanted the mine, Barrick would dictate the terms. When negotiations were stalled, Barrick turned off the pumps that keep the mine dry and it began filling up with water. At that point, nearly all the scientists who saw the mine as a unique opportunity to concentrate essential experiments in one place and to make huge advances in science realized that Barrick's corporate interests and attitude would obstruct any science.

Here is where the contingency fund to develop an interim laboratory has a questionable future. When the feasibility of the Homestake conversion looked doubtful, scientists threw their support behind sites that were not encumbered by corporate interests. So, a number of competing sites were proposed. Right now, some experiments that were envisioned for Homestake are in process at some of the alternative sites. The Soudan mine in Minnesota's Mesabi iron range houses some important experiments that are now in place and will never come to Homestake.

The National Science Foundation is still considering the establishment of a central national Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory. It has pared possible sites down to Homestake in South Dakota and the Henderson molybdenum mine about 50 miles west of Denver, Colorado. It supplied each of the sites with $500,000 to come up with development plans for a possible final selection.

The building of a single DUSEL is by no means a certainty. Many of the sites that were eliminated from the competition, such as the Soudan mine, are currently housing experiments and setting up financial and academic support structures for the work going on in them at this time. The dispersal of experiments throughout the nation may obviate the need for a central DUSEL. The kind of research that is done in an underground laboratory is an area in which America has an edge over work being done elsewhere in the world. However, that edge is not great and is growing smaller every day. America is not the leader in science and technology any longer, and the Homestake proposal seemed like an opportunity to make significant strides.

The National Science Foundation statement on the Homestake and Henderson choices details the kind of work that would be done in a DUSEL.

A DUSEL organization of scientists provides an overview of the science and related work that a DUSEL would support.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Do mules need licenses for hunting mountain lions?

As an erstwhile folklorist, I don't vouch for the authenticity of this tale, so take it as a parable of what happens if you f*ck with anything Democratic.

A couple from Montana were out riding on the range, he with his rifle and she (fortunately) with her camera. Their dogs always followed them, but on this occasion a Mountain Lion decided that he wanted to stalk the dogs (you'll see the dogs in the background watching). Very, very bad decision...

The hunter got off the mule with his rifle and decided to shoot in the air to scare away the lion, but before he could get off a shot, the lion charged in and decided he wanted a piece of those dogs.

With that, the mule took off and decided he wanted a piece of that lion. That's when all hell broke loose... for the lion.

As the lion approached the dogs the mule snatched him up by the tail and started whirling him around. Banging its head on the ground on every pass. Then he dropped it, stomped on it and held it to the ground by the throat.

The mule then got down on his knees and bit the thing all over a couple of dozen times to make sure it was dead, than whipped it into the air again, walked back over to the couple (that were stunned in silence) and stood there ready to continue his ride... as if nothing had just happened.
Fortunately even though the hunter didn't get off a shot, his wife got off these.

You want the rest of the pictures, I'll e-mail them to you.


Maybe Homestake can be our Deep Underground Landfill

Homestake National Landfill

  1. Two things lost the support of scientists for converting the Homestake Goldmine in the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory:

***Barrick Gold Corp. holding the mine for ransom to be relieved of liability for any environmental liabilities the mine has accrued--and filling it up with water when the state did not come up with the ransom fast enough.

***The promotion of the research lab as an economic development project. (Scientists do not think a bunch of chamber of commerce idiots running around the place will engender much science.)

The governor has the idea of turning the mine into a lab before the National Science Foundation makes a decision on whether to designate Homestake or the Henderson Mine 50 miles west of Denver as the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory. He is going around the state giving information sessions. He will be in Aberdeen at noon next Tuesday at the Ramada Inn to generate support for about $22 million he wants.

The Aberdeen American News, rising to its standards of bad journalism and bad writing, devoted an editorial today to promoting the Homestake scheme. It suggests that citizens submit questions and letters of support. Here are questions.

The National Science Foundation has granted $500,000 to H0mestake--and a like amount to the Henderson Mine--to develop the plans for converting the mine into a laboratory.

How does the NSF planning fit into the state's plans to develop the lab independent of the NSF? Huh? Huh?

What if the state develops the lab but the NSF designation goes to Henderson? What major experiments and projects would come to Homestake? Why would they come there if another site has the NSF endorsement?

Just what terms are in the agreement with Barrick Gold, which looks at the state as an open shaft in which to stick its----well, you know--but why is the state submitting to so much jerking around from Barrick Gold?

What environmental clean-up would Barrick be held liable for if the state does not take charge of the site?

Why is there so much discussion of putting satellite industries around Homestake when the purpose is to do science that will yield information--information which might not have any commercial applications? Do these economic promoters think there is a market for dark matter, neutrinos, and decaying protons in the tourist traps of the Black Hills?

Does the state hope to recoup the money it had to pay out for reneging on a huge waste disposal site by turning Homestake into an underground landfill?

Just how does the thinking fit into the facts of situation?



Lynndie England: the real face of America

The last time you saw this young woman prominently featured in news photos, she was holding on to a leash attached to an Iraqi prisoner
and had a cigarette dangling out of her mouth.

Here she is in shackles, dishonorably discharged and sentenced to three years in a military prison. The Army of one. See how far you can come.

Pfc. England was a file clerk. What was she doing in cell area of the Abu Ghraib prison humiliating prisoners? Why were no commissioned or non-commissioned officers present to carry out the function of their command and to maintain military discipline and decorum?

Here is a 22-year-old woman who surmounted a severe learning disability. As is the case with most people who realize that they function on a low level of cognition, she suffered from depression. She is accepted into the U.S. Army where she finds a "boy friend" who impregnates her and urges her to participate in taunting and abusing Iraqi prisoners. She has an 11-month-old baby boy as a result of her union, however quick, with Corporal Graner.

A number of we old soldiers have real trouble with what happened to Pfc. England. When we were on duty and working under military orders, we understood the standards of conduct required of us. Furthermore, there would be senior personnel of some rank involved to make sure that we discharged our tasks according to those standards. And there would be higher senior personnel to whom we reported when we had discharged our duties according to the standards prescribed. If we did not do our duty according to those standards, the NCOs and the company and battalion level commanders were held responsible. When we were in charge of troops assigned to a mission or a detail, we understood that we would be held responsible for any failings on the part of those under our command. Misperforming grunts might receive company level punishment, but the personnel in charge were held ultimately responsible.

What Lynndie England did was wrong. But someone who outranked her was encouraging her to do it. Someone enticed her into what would be an unauthorized area for a file clerk to venture on any but the most official business. And those who outranked her had orders and standards of military conduct to carry out. Someone above them was responsible for seeing that the prison was being run according to rules and standards of military order and discipline.

Why is Lynndie England standing in shackles instead of them?

This is the Bush legacy. A war based upon lies and deceit. The sacrifice of 2,000 American troops, many of them the likes of Lynndie England, to carry out a war dishonestly conceived, incompetently planned, and incompetently carried out at the highest echelons. The troops are doing what they are told. Lynndie England did what she was told.

Lynndie England, not George W. Bush or Donald Rumsfeld or Topsy Rice, earns the dishonor and goes to jail.

The right wing says that those of us who hate this perfidious and obscence war hate America. They are partially right. We hate the America that puts someone like Lynndie England in shackles and dismisses the lives of 2,000 of her comrades under the lie of bringing democracy to an Islamic nation that does not even like the idea of democracy.

Look at Lynndie England. God bless America. Yeah, right.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


The Bush era is over: a growing bipartisan belief

There's a creeping belief even among Republicans that the Bush era is over.

Writes John Farmer in the Star Tribune.

If true, it has serious implications for a host of things -- George W.'s domestic agenda, the war in Iraq, next year's Senate and House elections and the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. It also would mean, ironically, that the Bush era, which began with his timely response to the Sept. 11 tragedy, died with his tardy reaction to the devastation in New Orleans.

The pessimism about Bush could be premature; political popularity is a volatile commodity, subject to quick and unexpected change. But the signs are ominous.


Bush makes seventh trip to Gulf states to hunt for the WMDs

and any evidence that Michael Brown did anything while there.

And to find out if his Intelligent Designer had improvised an explosive device or two in the area.

Monday, September 26, 2005



A decal on a motor scooter parked at the Starbuck's across the street from the Auraria Campus in Denver.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


South Dakota ranks absolute last in Ph.D. programs

It plans to double the number it offers. But a question: If some of its bachelor degrees carry low credibility among the educated, how will its Ph.D.s be regarded.

Anyway, on to the story, which is running in a whole bunch of newspapers.

South Dakota is dead last among the 50 states in the number of Ph.D. programs offered by public universities but is making a push to reduce the gap.

The Board of Regents added three new programs this year and split an existing one, bringing the state's total to 17. The goal is to double the number of Ph.D. programs during the next five years."If we keep adding three or four a year, by the time we get to 2010, we will be pretty close to that," said Board of Regents Executive Director Robert T. Tad Perry.

South Dakota lags light years behind other states in Ph.D. offerings and research. Just North Dakota State University has 41 Ph.D. programs - more than twice as many as South Dakota's six public universities combined. And the University of North Dakota has 19 and two pending.

"Doctoral programs are notoriously expensive, so everyone adds them gradually," said Joseph Benoit, dean of the graduate school at UND.

South Dakota's lower numbers aren't a direct reflection of population. The state has 130,000 more residents than North Dakota, according to 2004 U.S. Census estimates.

But here, state officials hope federal grants and private money will grow in conjunction with the expansion of Ph.D. programs. In turn, that could stimulate the economy, generate job opportunities and improve chances of attracting and retaining bright people.

(Attracting and retaining bright people? Snicker, snicker, gasp, gasp, wheeze, wheeze. Read the damn blogs.)


Somewhere in Texas, a lowly Pfc. is taking the fall for you

A lost soul is taking the fall for a failure that implicates the entire country. (The 21st century version of Billy Budd is being written.)

While we fuss and fume over Katrina for exposing the fact that we are not as nice, as intelligent, and as competent as we told ourselves we were, another occasion for shame is taking force. It has nothing to do with Rita. It has to do with Lynndie.

Pfc. Lynndie England is being court-martialed at Ft. Hood for her part in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. She is being made a scape goat for a incident of incompetence that is the responsibility of a whole chain of command.

Yeah, we know. Six enlisted soldiers have plead guilty to prisoner abuse. Two have been court-martialed. And the general in charge was demoted to colonel. Something is being done. What is being done is making a whole bunch of low-level soldiers the scape goats for ranking personnel who were not doing their jobs.

Pfc. Lynndie England should be added to John Kerry's litany of Bush administration disasters:

Brownie is to Katrina what Paul Bremer is to peace in Iraq, what George Tenet is to slam-dunk intelligence, what Paul Wolfowitz is to parades paved with flowers in Baghdad, what Dick Cheney is to visionary energy policy, what Donald Rumsfeld is to basic war planning, what Tom DeLay is to ethics and what George Bush is to 'Mission Accomplished' .

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


The Daschle presence--he has not given up on South Dakota

Tom Daschle actually has not made a reappearance on the political scene. He did not stop thinking and talking about the things he has been working for more than a quarter of century after the election of 2004. He had to make some decisions about the best way to work for those objectives.

Beginning the day after the election, many people began to encourage Tom Daschle to use his resources and his influence to do something for South Dakota. I know. I was there. And I was one of the implorers. I am among those who thought he should establish a think tank and eventually a foundation to study and promote policies on the upper plains.

The Dakotas have few people who actually examine with knowledge and rigor how policies affect the state. We know what the Land Grant College Act signed at the height of the Civil War did for the nation as a whole. The Dakotas benefitted from that Act. And we know that the people who settled South Dakota were regarded as expendable serfs with no rights or significance to the ruling hierarchy until the settlers got organized and used the government to obtain some equity in the agricultural marketplace. South Dakota lagged behind North Dakota on issues of social and economic equity. South Dakota from its time as a territory has had an element, sometimes dominant, that celebrates the mean, the unprincipled, and exercise of power as virtues over democratic fairness and decency. Democracy struggles in South Dakota.

Some of us thought a think tank in the Dakotas would have credence and influence. Others thought Tom Daschle should establish a school of public service in a state university. Others thought he should use his talents on a national level, where they were more likely to help the quality of democracy for more people. After his defeat last year, many people simply gave up on South Dakota. It signaled the dominance of an element that is hate driven.

There is a difference between people who hate Tom Daschle and people who detest John Thune. Those of us who canvassed for Tom Daschle found people seething in a mindless rage. Because he is cautious about anti-abortion legislation, he is to them a baby-killer. That is ridiculous, but not to the people who prevailed in South Dakota. Because he thinks an amendment against desecration of the flag takes on totalitarian dimensions against free speech and conflicts with a basic American principle, he is unpatriotic. That is ridiculous, too, but not to those who place the symbol of the flag at higher importance than the Constitution it symbolizes. And because he is successful working with and influencing people in the urban centers, he is a betrayer of good old South Dakota values and people. That is ridiculous, of course, but not to those good people whose social and intellectual perceptions never graduated from middle school. People who hate Tom Daschle begin with a hatred of things democratic. They manufacture misinformation about Tom Daschle that expresses their hatred and they hate with the mindless passion that has put such an ugly taint on contemporary politics.

People who detest John Thune detest what he did. His six years of dilatory ignorance and fecklessness in the House are ridiculously deplorable, but they are not the stuff of hatred. His campaign against Tom Daschle is what is hateful. His campaign revealed a man of low character, a man of unprincipled intellect (if the instincts of a pit viper can be called intellect), and a man who was often the puppet for malevolent and perfidious puppet masters. People do not hate John Thune. They detest his lack of character and his malicious campaign tactics. We think America would be far better off if he could go back to keeping a seat warm in the House. His politics are not what we detest. The way he does politics is what is intolerable.

Many people I know have already left South Dakota--emotionally and spiritually, if not physically. The problems of race, class, and corporate dictatorship keep it in a Third World status. Many have decided that they and their families will never know the benefits of higher laws of democracy unless they move elsewhere.

Tom Daschle has not forgotten the 48 percent of the voters who supported him. He has strong family ties to the state. One of the themes in his speeches is the opportunities for freedom and equity his family found in South Dakota. While he may not run for public office again, his re-emergence onto the political scene signals that someone wants to keep those opportunities alive in South Dakota and elsewhere where the coils of fascism are constricting democracy in our country.

There is one big difference between Tom Daschle and people like me. He did not give up on South Dakota.

He has donated his papers to SDSU to start a Daschle center. Such a center will most likely evolve into a think tank and a university-connected center for public service. He is doing some teaching as an adjunct professor at prestigious schools in the east. He is working with a lobbying firm. But now he has set up a new political action committee to develop and support poltical talent. He will be the featured speaker at the Iowa Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner, indicating that he intends to be fully engaged in politics.

In resuming a more visible role on the political scene, Tom Daschle has demonstrated something for his state and his country. It's called leadership.


A playwright looks at the groveling passivity of the Democratic Party

Playwright David Mamet on the Huffington Post:

Napoleon wrote that the logical end of defensive warfare is surrender.

Panicked Democrats who said, of Bush Administration enormities: "They're not playing fair -- they cannot be beaten, as they might do anything...", now chuckle "heh, heh, heh, let them destroy themselves." Both fall under the heading of passivity, and passivity will always be exploited. The bumper sticker reading "in Texas some village is short of an idiot" is an absolute announcement of surrender.

The "idiot" and his administration have taken the keys to the kingdom, by exploiting, tactically and strategically, Democratic weakness, passivity and smugness. It is not the Republicans who are risible, but their opponents. It's as if a burglar broke into someone's house to steal the television and the homeowner insisted he stay, while he called his broker to make sure the thief also got the stocks and bonds.


Will South Dakotans just get the shaft with Homestake?

It's the science, stupid!

The Homestake Goldmine is clearly the best site for establishing the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory. It has only two major detractions:

When the proposal was first made to convert the abandoned Homestake Goldmine into the DUSEL, it had the support of almost every scientist in the field of physics. They saw the advantages of Homestake as exactly those that are needed to do the experiments that answer the questions and provide the information needed to do for physics what genome research has done for biology.

The support of the scientists quickly faded as negotiations between Barrick Gold and the state began. Barrick wanted to be relieved of any environmental liabilities connected with the gold mining operation in exchange for turning the mine over to government agencies for development as a science laboratory. The corporation had no interest in science, and it was impossible to deal with. It threatened to turn off the pumps that keep the mine dry and accessible if the government agencies involved, which were both state and federal, did not submit to its demands. When government officials could not agree, Barrick turned off the pumps and flooded the mine.

Most scientists realized that no science could be accomplished as long as an outfit like Barrick was on the scene, and they determined that if the experiments and work needed to carry physics into an exciting new age were to be done, they would have to be done elsewhere. Many proposals for other sites for the DUSEL were formulated as scientists saw Homestake held hostage by Barrick. When the pumps were turned off and the mine filled with water, even the most persistent scientists gave up and turned their efforts to more positive developments. Even the lead scientist gave up his role and turned his attention to a site in Washington. Only a few, such as Kevin Lesko from the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, clung to any hope that some solution could be found to Barrick.

However, the discouraging aspect for all the other scientists was not only Barrick's disregard for anything but the corporate zeal for greed and power and the water that its actions produced in the mine. The fact that politicians could conceive of the value of Homestake only as an economic development project is a huge barrier.

As NASA has shown, the money invested in scientific research and development pays dividends far beyond the original investment. But science is not a profit-making scheme. It is a process of creating, refining, and transmitting knowledge. And that knowledge may or may not yield benefits to mankind. High-technology science takes immense amounts of money. It takes immense intellects to set up and analyze experiments. Academic research produces knowledge by establishing what is true and what is not. Little of that knowledge has any applications that can make money.

The Homestake project has received a half-million dollars from the National Science Foundation for developing a plan to make it the DUSEL. It is one of two locations chosen by the National Science Foundation to advance such plans. The other is the Henderson Mine in Colorado.

Governor Rounds is requesting money from the state legislature to go ahead and build a laboratory in the mine--even if the NSF does not choose it to be the DUSEL. The Governor and his supporters, as quoted in the news accounts, just keep yammering about the economic advantages of such a laboratory. They contend that they can invite scientists to come there and do their experiments.

Big question: If the Henderson Mine is the DUSEL, what major experiments will come to Homestake? Where will scientists get the money and the staff support to set up work in Homestake? The Henderson site is 60 miles from Denver and is within commuting distance of four public research universities.

The emphasis on economic development is a good indication that science is not much of a consideration in the current Homestake scheme. The science community has already shown that it has little interest or hope for Homestake as long as Barrick Gold is involved or it is looked at as an economic development scheme. Just because a lab may be built in Homestake does not mean the scientists will come. They will go where they can do their work and have the environment and support for their work.

The physicists who would work at Homestake are interested in astro-physics, dark matter, neutrinos, proton decay and the like. Economic development is not part of their science.

Kevin Lesko's summary of what it will take to convert Homestake into a laboratory has this question:

Why physicists go underground? To get away from people & backgrounds.

Homestake's advantages are that it has the depth and size to house all experiments that require underground settings. Its competitor, Henderson, has twice been rejected as a site because it is too shallow. Homestake's features are what have kept it a prime candidate for DUSEL.

Scientists will choose to do their experiments where science is free to operate without interference and control by Barrick or state officials who can think only of economic benefits. The sad fact is that economic development, not science, is what will sell the laboratory to the legislature and the people of the state. And science and economic scheming do not mix.

It's the science, stupid.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Halliburton was here

LONDON, England (Reuters) -- Large-scale corruption in Iraq's ministries, particularly the defense ministry, has led to one of the biggest thefts in history with more than $1 billion going missing, Iraq's finance minister said in an interview.

"Huge amounts of money have disappeared. In return we got nothing but scraps of metal," Finance Minister Ali Allawi told British newspaper The Independent in a report published on Monday. "It is possibly one of the largest thefts in history."

Corruption, both in the bidding for and the awarding of contracts, and in the administration of public offices, is one of the most frequent accusations made by Iraqis against their government and foreign firms operating in the country.

Click the link below for the whole story.


UPDATE--Homestake: Screwing the pooch a mile underground

{Here is an updated AP story on the Governor's plans to call a special session of the legislature to fund an "interim" lab:}

The Homestake Goldmine story is one of the most fucked-up accounts of what is going on with taxpayer money that George Orwell or Forest Gump could imagine. It is an indication of the educational and intelligence levels of the working press in South Dakota. Of course there are shenanigans and intellectual failures in the halls of government and corporate business, too.

Today, the Governor announced that the way has been cleared for the state to take over ownership of the mine from Barrick Gold in the process of transferring the mine to state ownership so that it can continue with its plans to be a contender for designation as the national Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL), a national resource to be developed under the auspices of the National Science Foundation.

In July, two sites received a half million dollars from the NSF to develop plans for becoming the DUSEL. Homestake was one of them.

In an announcement today, however, the Governor indicated that an "interim" laboratory will be set up, an indication that research will begin whether or not the laboratory receives the national designation from the NSF. One headline said the laboratory will be developed with or without the NSF designation. The problem with that is that if Homestake is not chosen to be the DUSEL site, what experiments and research programs will take place there? High school science fair projects?

Homestake and the Henderson Mine near Denver were selected by the NSF as the two sites from which the DUSEL would be chosen. Whichever site is chosen will be the place that the major research projects backed by federal programs and dollars will take place.

One of our posts from July explains the situation.

Joe Kafka of the Associated Press comes closest to providing a coherent account of what is going on with Homestake, but his story is still confusing about what an interim laboratory would amount to and what is being done with the NSF money to develop the DUSEL plan. It follows:

Gov. Mike Rounds said Monday that an agreement has been reached to allow the state to take possession of the abandoned Homestake Mine at Lead and proceed with planning for an interim underground science laboratory.

Officials want to locate the lab at the 4,850-foot level of the former gold and silver mine, and experiments could begin within a couple of years. The agreement with Homestake, which is owned by Barrick Gold Corp., would transfer
the mine to the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority. Rounds, Homestake officials, and members of the authority were scheduled to have a signing ceremony Tuesday in Lead.

"I want to personally thank Homestake for sharing in our vision to create an interim laboratory," Rounds said. "This agreement could not have happened without the hard work of a lot of individuals, including scientists from throughout the United States as well as people in South Dakota who care about their children's future." [Editorial comment: Huh?]

It will cost about $32 million to open and operate the interim laboratory through 2012, the authority has estimated. The state has access to $15.7 million of that amount, and it has asked Rounds to seek another $16.4 million.

The authority has decided it will not proceed with underground development until it receives the financing.

Homestake officials believe a contingency fund of at least $3.5 million should be created to handle any unanticipated costs connected to resurrection of facilities and equipment in the mine. [Another editorial comment: What the hell does this mean?]

The process of transferring ownership of the mine has involved lengthy and complicated negotiations, said Vince Borg, Barrick's vice president of public affairs.

"The easiest thing for us to have done was to simply follow through on closing the mine and that's it," he said Monday. "But a group of people had an idea that it could be used for an underground lab. That made our life a bit more complicated."

The state and Homestake signed an agreement in principle last year that called for the mining company to donate the property to the Science and Technology Authority once it has obtained funding, permits and the approval needed to construct and operate the underground lab.

Borg said plans for the interim lab have expedited the transfer process. "This allows for it to happen earlier," he said. "This is an amendment to the agreement in principle that deals with the timing for an interim laboratory as opposed to an ultimate laboratory."

The National Science Foundation announced in July that Homestake is one of two sites to receive $500,000 to develop a conceptual design for the underground lab, and officials believe development of an interim lab will improve the chances of eventual NSF funding for a permanent lab. [How does that work?]

Rounds said the lab would help South Dakota become a leader in scientific research and technology.

"This site will become an important tool for scientists throughout the world," the governor said. [Hey, Gov. Not unless it is the DUSEL.]

Monday, September 19, 2005


Tom Daschle sets up new PAC to revitalize state Democrats

Seeking to re-establish himself as a political force, former Senate MinorityLeader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) is forming a new political action committee, raising money for his former colleagues and trying to pump new life into his state's Democratic Party.

Here is the story in Roll Call.


Watch out, Iraq. Here comes democracy.

The British and Iraqi police squared off in a fire fight in Basra today after Iraqi police imprisoned British soldiers. Here is the account.


It means they ain't got no balls

Here is Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo on the refusal of Democrats to appoint any of their House or Senate members to a Republican-controlled investigative committee on Katrina.

House-Senate Katrina probe dies as Dems refuse to participate in GOP-controlled probe.

Mammalian biologists cite development as new evidence for late-stage testiculogenesis.

-- Josh Marshall


Intelligence officers think war on Iraq is not winnable

The issue of Time out today reports:

More than a dozen current and former intelligence officers knowledgeable about Iraq spoke with TIME in recent weeks to share details about the conflict, and they voiced their growing frustration with a war that they feel was not properly anticipated by the Bush Administration, TIME’s Joe Klein reports in this week’s cover story (on newsstands Monday, Sept 19). The officers believe its a war fought with insufficient resources and a war that almost all of them now believe is not winnable militarily.

Sunday, September 18, 2005


Republicans plan equal opportunity for poverty

House Republicans are looking at delaying some federal spending, including money for a prescription drug benefit under Medicare and thousands of highway projects, to offset the cost of rebuilding the Gulf Coast, a leading GOP fiscal
conservative said today.

Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., said there is a need for dramatic spending cuts in "big-ticket items.''

However, Democrats appearing on Sunday news programs questioned how President Bush can trim the budget to pay for Katrina recovery and support tax cuts for the wealthy.

"Where is he going to find roughly half a trillion dollars over the next several years for Iraq and for Katrina?'' Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., asked on "Late Edition'' on CNN. "I think we're not leveling with the American people.''

Full story here.


"Keep this nigger-boy running."

The right has a program for dealing with poverty, race, and class. Simply deny them.

When the Census Bureau came out with the statistics that the nation had added another 1.1 million to the poverty roles, increasing them to 37 million, right wing commentators claimed that poverty does not exist to that degree; it's all a matter of someone lying with statistics. They quibbled about what income level should be designated as the poverty line, as if a dollar more here or there raises anyone's living standard. They said that the statistics showed that the poor can't really be poor, because they spend so much more than their incomes. If there was a case of people playing shyster games with statistics, it is in that claim.

When Katrina came along and blew the cover of denial off the poverty claim, the right claimed two things. The first was that those "people" were left without help because they are too lazy and unintelligent to get help. The stream of racism that throbs in some American veins was as visible in those comments as the flood waters that covered New Orleans. Then, the charge came that the people were the products of big government programs that made them dependent and incapable of fending for themselves.

We assume that the next step in the logic of racism will be the denial of slavery, Jim Crow, and systematic repression of people by a culture that truly believes that the person who ends up with all the toys wins. It is a culture that can think only in terms of winners and losers. So in a time when we cannot escape evidence of need in some of our population, the ruling class talks about tax cuts that would benefit only the very rich. It is the old class rule of less for the needy and more for the greedy.

If blame is to be placed, and it must be, the progressives must take a huge amount of the blame for moral and political cowardice. When a few commenters have noted that the right wing in America adheres to fascist beliefs, the right wing howled and screamed in indignation. In the name of reason and comity, some liberals chided those commentators. Nice people don't call people fascists when they demonstrate elements of fascism. Nice people don't call people racists when they see those people holding people of color in states of economic and cultural disadvantage. When Dick Durbin makes a rather obvious comparison of the torture in American prison camps to the most viciously repressive regimes of recent history, he is called a bad man by his liberal colleagues and forced to grovel in a submissive recantation.

The left wing has allowed the right wing propaganda organizations, which are designed right out of George Orwell, to cow them into feeble and fawning denials of the fact that there are fascists and racists operating and promoting their principles in our society. Fascism today does not nationalize industry and take it over. It lets corporations take over the government, but the result is the same. (What the hell do you think Enron and Worldcom and Halliburton are all about, stupid?)

In their intellectual and moral cowardice, the liberals have facilitated the inequalities, the oppressions, and the injustice in our culture and allowed them to grow. While the right has oppressed, the left has betrayed.

Even though 83 percent of the people think that the war on Iraq is wasteful and wrong in light of Katrina, we do not find this encouraging. If a speech or two can't get the American people to change that attitude, all we need do is invade Iran or North Korea or both and assail any dissenters as unpatriotic. It will be a great economic boon for the yellow decal industry.

There is no reason for optimism. The right will abuse and accuse. The left, for the most part, will betray under the guise of being reasonable and peace-loving. And the smart will start inventing a new America.

In Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, the young black protagonist is given a letter of introduction to many important people by his black college president. After the letter is presented to many people over many years of turmoil, the young man opens it and reads it for himself. The letter says, "Keep this nigger-boy running."

That is the message that the feckless left has signed for the poor of America. What happened with Katrina was long in the making. America failed.

Friday, September 16, 2005


Roll up your sleeves and see if you can fool the poor suckers once again

Howard Kurz reviews George Bush's speech in "Media Notes." (I turned it off right after he reached the podium--obvious and not very good theater.)

Well, the choreography was pretty impressive.

Bush, walking to the microphone, flanked by a floodlit cathedral and a statue of a Andrew Jackson on horseback. Wearing an open-collar blue shirt with rolled-up sleeves to symbolize his new role in the trenches. Giving out an 877 number. The night air seemed to loosen him up, making him less stiff than in his usual coat-and-tie Oval Office address.

The president was all about optimism for the future--and he only glancingly alluded to why the federal cavalry arrived so pathetically late. This was a night to hand out federal goodies (no mention of the budgetary impact or whether his generic call for sacrifice might include sacrificing any other programs, such as abolition of the estate tax for the ultra-rich).

Bush did devote a couple of sentences to talk about the problems of poverty and racial discrimination, two subjects he rarely addresses. But he quickly let that drop.

He proposed a low-tax Gulf Opportunity Zone--but why has he never submitted such a plan for other blighted urban areas?

Still, last night's speech was not about programmatic details so much as projecting an image of compassionate leadership.

Four years after 9/11, Bush said, Americans have the right to expect a better disaster response. Ab-so-lutely! But what has the homeland security bureaucracy been doing since then?

Bush named no one to head this biggest-reconstruction-in-history job. He said he'd cooperate with a congressional inquiry--controlled by Republicans--but made no mention of calls for an independent commission.

Click on Kurz to read a summary of how the speech was received in the media.


While Bush dawdles and connives, Clinton leads

NEW YORK, Sept. 15 -- The U.N. General Assembly may have failed this week to come up with a stirring plan to combat the world's ills. But there was former president Bill Clinton -- once said to have harbored an ambition to become secretary general -- assembling his own mini-General Assembly of presidents, prime ministers, kings and other pooh-bahs on Thursday to devise specific plans for addressing poverty, global warming, religious conflict and better governance.

Read more in the Washington Post.


Right wing uses crisis to ramp up its class war

George Will gloats today in his column over what he regards as the end of the union movement. He is among those conservatives who long for the days of lords and serfs, masters and slaves, and he sees Northwest Airlines as a leader is sloughing union mechanics and pilots and hiring "scabs." As the airline enters bankruptcy reorganization, it has the pretext for lowering its skilled jobs to the level of thralldom.

George W. Bush is using the crisis of Katrina in the same manner. Rep. John D. Dingell (D-MI) points out in a statement made last night, . "With a stroke of the pen, in one of his first Katrina directives, the President cut the wages of the workers who will undertake our largest reconstruction project since the Civil War."

While the country is being diverted with a transportation crisis and the Katrina aftermath, the feudal wing of the conservative movement is waging a class war against working people--which means everybody who is employed and has a boss. Iraq, Katrina, and energy prices are diversions away from the right wing's efforts to established feudalism in America--a system we thought we had dispatched with the Civil War.


Don't tell, don't confess: Vatican orders American faggot inquisition

The Vatican has ordered an inspection of Roman Catholic seminaries in the United States to look for "evidence of homosexuality" and for faculty members who dissent from church teachings, according to a document containing guidelines for the year-long review.

Click the headline for the whole story.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


Does this make them baby-killers?

Study: Half of All Teens Have Had Oral Sex


The Clinton legacy?

Read the entire article here.


Some decency blooms in the garden of idiots and assholes

Erin, who is a consumer advocate, provides some details on who she finds the good guys and bad guys in the Dan Nelson Auto Group-MetaBank fiasco. She finds that some above-board financial institutions were victimized as much as private consumers by the modus operandi of the Nelson Group and MetaBank. We post her response to the post below up front so that consumers get a fuller perspective on what this scandal is all about. dln

Erin2535 said...
I'd like to provide some details and background information on the South Dakota Attorney General's agreement with FSB.

The most important fact is that FSB, a company based in Arlington Texas has no legal obligation to make any deals that help consumers. FSB is another victim of DNA/SDAC/Metabank, and the press release makes reference to the lawsuit FSB filed against Dan Nelson in May. They purchased 1100 contracts from DNA/SDAC over the past year and a half.They're just now learning about the fact that the loans they purchased from the consumer loan portfolio, which Metabank allowed Dan Nelson to borrow against, have been "edited", and many of these loans are either inactive or in default.

The documents they looked at prior to purchase, indicated the loans were current. However, these loans were continually "edited", with the full knowledge of Metabank to make it appear that payments had been made. In fact, they hadn't been made for some time(321 days for example). In spite of DNA/SDAC/Metabank's criminal actions related to the loans, FSB has taken the high road and decided to try and make things as right as they possibly can for the customers.

Steve Burke, FSB's CEO has been working with me on individual customer's issues for about a month, and prior to that, FSB had already lowered interest rates, paid repair bills, forgave any past due payments, approved lower pay-offs for customers trying to get financing on a different vehicle. They have been completely open to any other ideas that would make it better for the customers, even it meant FSB's loss.

Mr.Burke has answered all of my calls and has backed up all of FSB's promises, and even beyond if necessary. He has been personally involved and participated in the resolution of the problems himself. He doesn't have to use "Paid Liars", to do the job, or more acurately to hide behind.

What you need to know is that Metabank's partnership with DNA/SDAC has victimized these large companies as well as the consumers. [Emphasis the editor's.] I resent anyone attempting to show any appearance of impropriety on the part of FSB in this particular situation, because they were hoodwinked by the Used Car Mafia/Metabank.

I want to inform the public about the fact that Metabank is not a victim, but a victimizer. I have some questions regarding Security National Bank in Sioux City who is the largest holder of Metabank's stock. Metabank recently paid out dividends, according to a press release. The criminals are still robbing and paying themselves as usual. I also read about the Robbers of Other Banks, Metabank's charity barbeques in Iowa and South Dakota. Go to their website, if you can stomach it, and get the details.

Hey idiots(Tyler and Jim Haahr) didn't your mother tell you charity begins where you live? Take care of the critically wounded consumers whose injuries are the result of your disregard for the law. Maybe some of us should attend your next barbeque which takes place tonight in Sac City, Iowa(check Metabank's website) or next week in Laurens, Iowa? There are also some of these charity barbeques in South Dakota, on the calender if anyone wants to contribute "something" to the assholes in charge mortally injuring consumers.


They keep politicians and other state officials in bank vaults, don't they?

The South Dakota Attorney General's office keeps announcing things it is doing in behalf of South Dakota consumers who got dry-shaved by the Dan Nelson Auto Group. (If you aren't sure what "dry-shaved" means, please consult the African American Dictionary of Military Nomenclature, or your neighborhood jiveass.)

Its latest deal is with FSB Financial Ltd., which bought loans from the bankrupt and thoroughly disgraced Dan Nelson Auto Group's in-house loan-sharking operational called Car Now Acceptance. Day-amn. This is probably all very boring, unless you are one of the 369 South Dakotans who got dry-shaved. Under new terms agreed to by the Attorney General's office, the loan rates will be only 17.95 percent and some other provisions are included, according to an Argus Leader story.

In other Dan Nelson-connected news, the Subaru dealership that Nelson crashed will be taken over by the guy who originated it, Terry Schulte, if all the folks who have to approve the deal approve it.

In case you forgot, this story made blog space because the bank that lent Dan Nelson Auto a bit of cash--almost $30 million--had Nelson's good friend and stick-buddy (also a military term) John Thune on its board of directors. The question raised is whether John Thune provided the bank lubricant for Nelson while he dry-shaved a whole bunch of cats out there in Iowa and South Dakota of uncertain financial means who needed cars with a bunco scam. (If you are uncertain about what "bunco" is, ask your Attorney General.)

No evidence has emerged that John Thune helped arrange the loans with MetaBank, even though Dan Nelson Auto was a dubious candidate for such loans at the time they were made. His company was in shaky financial condition and was engaged is some shady practices. The main thing that makes John Thune a suspect in collusion is the dishonest and utterly malicious campaign he conducted in 2004. He can save every friggin' air base in the nation, but that won't lift the huge, stinking albatross from around his neck. Whether the boys were getting it on with lots of lubricant down in the bank vault is not really the issue. The issue is the screwings that take place in the loan departments of various financial organizations.

Now that the Cold War has been declared over for more than 10 years, is there anything that can be done about Little Kremlin--Pierre, South Dakota?

We don't expect Republican legislators to take any interest in all this, but they have, in fact, squealed of late about some of the dry-shaving going on. (Here we continue the operating analogy with an allusion to the movie Deliverance.) They thought it was something of an outrage when the state entered into negotiations with Burlington Northern Santa Fe who wants to buy a state-owned rail line, but keep parts of the deal secret. You see, the Dan Nelson-John Thune-MetaBank arrangement is just a symptom of a state government that does strange things with bankers, and nobody ever knocks on the vault door to ask what is going on in there.

The Democrats in the state legislature are a minority and get dry-shaved often, and we fear that they are beginning to enjoy it. For people without much of a voice, a little abusive attention can be better than no attention at all. We sincerely hope that the Democrats have not reached that state of desperation. But why aren't they making an audible and constant noise about the totalitarian goings-on in state government?

Do our politicians want to operate South Dakota as a sovereign state or as a bank-controlled gulag? It may be late to rattle the tumblers on the bank vault door, but maybe something of democratic principle can be salvaged in this state. Unless our representatives enjoy the dry-shaving.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Oh, that old Orwellian twist

Most of the coverage of the newest quarrel about evolution is allowing evolution's enemies to frame the debate as a contest between scientific theories, rather than what it is — a religious challenge to an overwhelming scientific consensus.

The Columbia Journalism Review explores the art, however crude, of intruding extraneous and irrelevant notions into scientific discourse and treating those notions as if they have scientific merit, although they do not have the exhaustive testing behind them that scientific hypotheses do. We do, after all, live in the neo-Dark Ages. This article explains the technique of darkening.



A list Kurt Vonnegut brought to the Daily Show last night, but did not have time to read:


Give us this day our daily bread. Oh sure.

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Nobody better trespass against me. I'll tell you that.

Blessed are the meek.

Blessed are the merciful. You mean we can't use torture?

Blessed are the peacemakers. Jane Fonda?

Love your enemies. Arabs?

Ye cannot serve God and Mammon. The hell I can't! Look at the Reverend Pat Robertson. And He is as happy as a pig in sh*t.


Democracy, Bush style, comes to Iraq

From the Associated Press (a component of the mainstream media):

BAGHDAD, Iraq - More than a dozen explosions ripped through the Iraqi capital in rapid succession Wednesday, killing at least 160 people and wounding 570 in a series of attacks that began with a suicide car bombing that targeted laborers assembled to find work for the day. Al-Qaida in Iraq claimed responsibility.

The death toll at hands of insurgents in the capital Wednesday far exceeds the carnage inflicted in any one day since the war began.


The finger points right to the top on Katrina

"It's so easy to blame Michael Brown, but he got his marching orders from someone else. Weapons of mass destruction, not waves of mass destruction, are the president's priorities. Want to get on the White House Varsity team. Get with the program.

"The same obsession that led the Bush administration to see weapons of mass destruction and terrorism in every tea leaf and go to war in Iraq now guides the entire federal government disaster response effort.

"How do I prove the point? I've got the goods."

William Arkin examines documents from the Whitehouse and details the priorities set by George Bush for his Department of Homeland Security. He has the goods.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Bush Nominates First-Trimester Fetus To Supreme Court

Okay, we couldn't resist. Click the headline for the full treatment from The Onion.


Erin from Iowa rips MetaBank a new one or two. And there is more.

If you want to get some information on the scams perpetrated against consumers, read Erin's comment to this post. There are a lot of crooks out there. Read how they work.

Analogies of anality abound among the blogs today. So, we'll chime in. In her comments to our post noting an agreement between the Attorney General's office and MetBank regarding some consumers whose wazoos are smarting from the Dan Nelson Auto deals, Erin lays out some facts about what the agreements really mean for the consumers involved.

Erin encounters a lot of assholes in her analysis of the situation, and she rips a few new ones. You want to know something more about how business is done in these parts? Please read Erin's comments to our post from yesterday on MetaBank.


Bend over and spread your cheeks, South Dakota. Here comes a freight train.

South Dakota taxpayers are going to get it, but good, where the sun doesn't shine. Like a heroine in a silent film melodrama, the State will be bound up and sacrificed on the railroad tracks.

Certain elements in South Dakota state government just cannot grasp the idea that any business done with taxpayers' money and in behalf of the people of the state should be done openly, honestly, and with full knowledge of the people. But we have a gag law which lets some state officials and corporations pay hanky panky in the closet. We hope they are getting off, because a lot of people are getting screwed.

Now comes the core line railroad that the people of South Dakota own. Burlington Northern Santa Fe wants to buy it. The railroad also wants the deal kept secret.

This was the old Milwaukee line set of tracks that were abandoned when the railroad failed. Bill Janklow raised the sales tax a penny to buy and fix up the tracks. Burlington Northern Santa Fe has had an operating agreement with the state for the tracks. Now it wants to buy them, and the state has agreed.

No one knows what the real deal is. But it has some legislators who are members of the Government Operations and Audit Committee justifiably exercised about the secrecy with which the deal is being conducted.

Sen. Jerry Appa, R-Lead, said: "The taxpayers bought it. Now we're selling it, and we're telling the taxpayers you can't know one damn thing about it. It's totally wrong."

Sen. John Koskan, R-Wood, said the state officials involved in the deal appear to be making commitments that the Legislature will have to fund. And we say that is a real serious derailment of all principles of democratic, honest government.

State Transportation Secretary Judy Payne and Deputy Attorney General Roxanne Giedd says Burlington Northern is requiring some details in the deal to be kept confidential. And we say since when do corporations dictate how an allegedly democratic government of the people does business? And we answer, in South Dakota it has always be so.

If there is one bi-partisan effort that should be the first order of business if democracy is ever to return to South Dakota, it is striking down all the gag laws on government business and stipulating that all business transacted in behalf of the public be done in the full open, where the sun shines.

We paraphrase Lt. Gen. Russell Honore: "Put down those goddamn gag laws and corporations. This isn't Iraq."


Whites say race was not a factor in Louisiana; blacks disagree

More than six in 10 blacks -- 63 percent -- said the problems with the hurricane relief effort are an indication of continuing racial inequity in this country, a view rejected by more than seven in 10 whites, according to a new poll.

The analysis of the poll is here in The Washington Post.


A huge underclass exists at a college near you

Katrina in effect ripped off the blinders Americans use to shield themselves from the harsh facts of their country. Even the corporate-run media could not control its reporters and photographers in the field to keep us from witnessing how class and race discrimination are implicit aspects of our culture.

Despite the denials from the right wing that poverty keeps growing, that the Katrina response was a disaster in itself, and that the war on Iraq has turned into an exercise in deciding which of our young people are expendable, citizens have to face these matters and their moral consequences.

In the midst of this natinoal turmoil, I have been asked to help assess the state of higher education in our community. Although I have been retired for six years, I still get people asking what the problems are and what can be done about them. The questions come because I was at one time very involved in promoting educational reforms, and the conditions that need reforming are becoming more evident and more worrisome to professors who are faced with them.

I was involved in testing and assessing students for placement into writing classes. In so doing, I and my colleagues compiled materials on the ACT scores, grade point averages, class rankings of students, and the preparatory courses they took. Those scores made clear that we had an underclass entering some of our universities who were admitted solely to increase enrollment numbers and be relieved of their tuition and fees money. Most of the students in this underclass did not qualify for admission into reputable colleges. However, they were readily accepted into colleges that have "open enrollment" policies.

The ACT score is one of the main indicators of academic preparation and potential success. The scale for the ACT score is 1 to 36. The national average is 20.9. Most "open enrollment" colleges, as at the one I last taught, set a minimum score of 18.

During one of my last years of teaching, 54 percent of the freshmen students admitted had scores below 18. In other words, more than half the students admitted had a "flag" that indicated they needed some academic work to help them qualify for college admission.

The university where I then worked decided it could afford to offer "remedial" help to only ten percent of the new enrollees. So, about 45 percent of the students who showed that they needed more preparation to do full-fledged college work would be struggling. What this means to professors is a decision as to whether to adjust the classwork to accomodate the under-prepared or to give competitive courses and face the fact that the success rate in many courses will be very low. Actually, it was not hard to make that decision. Professors whose classes had high failure rates received bad evaluations from the administration.

And the academic quality of the institution plummeted. It had trouble attracting capable students, and eventually it had trouble attracting students, period. The last time I helped at an information booth for a college recruiting fair, high school kids made sneering comments about Northern State Middle School as they sauntered by.

When professors tried to bring the problem up to the administration, the administration went ballistic. Some said the enrollment situation was not something mere professors could grasp and should keep their noses out of it. Others said we did not know how to read or interpret the statistics. Still, we were responsible for testing and placing students. And others said, if you want to keep your jobs, just shut up. All the professors, apparently, wanted to keep their jobs. They were effectively silenced.

I received a question from a professor last week who had students with ACT scores as low as 10. I also received a query from a high school teacher about the quality of people going into teacher education.

My reply is that education needs tremendous reform. The criteria of a good college or university is not the scores of entering students. However, the colleges and universities with enviable reputations are very selective. A previous place where I taught has an average ACT score of 26, compared with 20 at the last place I taught. Furthermore, tuition, room and board, and fees amount to more than $30,000 a year at the private "selective" school where I once taught. At the South Dakota university where I taught, those fees are around $5,000. However, the ultimate measure of a college is what students have achieved when they graduate, not what their entrance scores are.

The reasons behind low entrance scores are numerous. They reflect high schools that have very meager economic resources and, often, communities that place little value on academics. Most communities are much more interested in athletics than they are in academic preparation. The tough fact is that many communities could not care less about what takes place in their schools aside from Friday night football and basketball games. The students with the poorest preparations in South Dakota tend to come from school systems that are organized around athletic programs, as opposed to athletic programs being organized around educational purposes. District superintendents admit openly that a school district can tolerate low assessment test scores from its students, but will insist that something be done about losing athletic scores.

Like many professors, I found it disappointing to use a Ph.D. degree to teach students middle school subject matter in developmental courses. On the other hand, I found it satisfying to note that many students who took those developmental courses often did well in their advanced college courses and had a high success and graduation rate. But those successes do not mitigate the fact that they were admitted solely to bolster enrollment numbers and collect tuition from them. They are admitted to college by people who know that they have deficiencies in their educations to make up, but those same people rail against offering programs in college that address those needs. They take these students in to get the money that comes with them, but then they rail against their poor preparation. Or, as many professors do, they castigate the high schools.

In reading and watching the accounts of people left stranded in New Orleans by people who consider them too inconsequential and too low on the bourgeois class scale to matter, I could not help but think of those students admitted into colleges for the headcount and the tuition money, and then left to flounder and survive as best they can. The percentage of students who come in to colleges with inadequate entrance scores is generally equal to the attrition rate. For each freshman class, only about 60 percent at the "open enrollment" institutions make it back for the sophomore year.

Just as the lives of young soldiers in Iraq or poor people in New Orleans are deemed as worthy only of sacrifice by our "conservative" culture, we have a large contingent of students entering our colleges who are regarded as sheep to fleece, not minds to develop.

The Katrina aftermath has rubbed our nose in the real values that power our country. And Katrina is just the surface of the inequalities and injustice that signify what our country has become. A number of young people in colleges are part of that underclass that America likes to keep. And so much of America has forgotten that underclasses tend to revolt.

But if we are to actually reform education, we must begin by asking the teachers how to go about it. They are the last best hope in education. But we don't live in a culture that respects its teachers enough to ask them for direction. A political revolution is required to change the culture. We need to decide quickly whether that revolution will come through education or insurgency.

Monday, September 12, 2005


Chicago City Council to consider call for quick and orderly withdrawal from Iraq

By Gary Washburn
Tribune staff reporter
Published September 12, 2005, 8:30 PM CDT

"A City Council committee on Monday weighed in on the war in Iraq, hearing emotional testimony on both sides of the issue before advancing a resolution calling for an "orderly and rapid" withdrawal of American troops.

"If the full council approves the measure, Chicago would be one of the first big cities in the country officially to urge the federal government to end the war, said Ald. Joseph Moore (49th), a lead sponsor of the resolution, already endorsed by 40 of the council's 50 aldermen. The council will consider the measure Wednesday.

"And what heft might Chicago's opinion have?"When you have a city as diverse as Chicago is and large as Chicago is weighing in on this important issue, I think it will have real impact," Moore said. "We are not Berkeley, Calif., or Madison, Wis., that routinely passes this sort of resolution. We are from the heartland."

"San Francisco apparently is the only other big city so far to have called for a troop withdrawal, though some smaller towns have taken similar action."

Click the Chicago Tribune by-line link for the whole story.


Attorney General announces a little relief from MetaBank

S. D. Watch broke the news earlier today, but consumers are finally getting some attention in South Dakota from the Attorney General's office. For some 1,200 South Dakota buyers of cars from a Dan Nelson Auto store, MetaBank, the main creditor for the bankrupt firm, has agreed to provide some reduced interest and other benefits, according to a news release from the South Dakota Attorney General's office.

We trust that Erin from Iowa will provide an assessment of this agreement for the consumers involved.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


John Roberts could signal bad times for Indian Country

Native American journalists have noted that John Roberts probably knows more about laws affecting the sovereignty of American Indian tribes than any other jurist practicing today. His briefs have shaped Supreme Court decisions about Indian affairs. They have displeased the tribes.

Indian Country will keep a careful eye on the confirmation hearings to see if he is questioned about his attitudes toward Native American issues.

Saturday, September 10, 2005


National Guard is stretched too thin to do its jobs

WASHINGTON -- The National Guard is stretched so thin by simultaneous assignments in Iraq and the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast that leaders in statehouses and Congress say it is time to reconsider how the force is used.

Republicans and Democrats alike worry about the service's ability to balance its federal and state missions of fighting wars and responding to domestic crises.

About 41,000 Guard members are scattered across Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, along with 17,000 active-duty troops. About 30,000 Guard members are serving in Iraq, with smaller numbers in Afghanistan, Kosovo and elsewhere overseas.

Complete story is here.


How to keep cronies where they can do little harm--until they blab

Keeping the Michael Browns at bay:

At least Bill Clinton knew not to stash his sweeties in jobs concerned with keeping the nation safe. Gennifer Flowers said that Mr. Clinton got her a $17,500 job in Arkansas in the state unemployment agency, though she was ranked ninth out of 11 applicants tested. And Monica Lewinsky's thong expertise led her to a job as an assistant to the Pentagon press officer.

Maureen Dowd makes her pithy and shrewd observations on how competent leadership handles its political cronies and liabilities in today's New York Times.

Friday, September 09, 2005


Big Brother Bush goes global with a Big Sister

Do you feel safer now than you did four years ago?

The propaganda techniques that George Bush borrowed from George Orwell's Oceania to contrive a war and then offer to protect people from aggressions against them have stopped working. So now he promotes one of his chief disinformation and coercion advisers, Karen Hughes, to Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy. We kid you not. Folks in the administration think it is about time to address the flagging reputation of the U.S. among the international communities.

What the hell is he going to do? Spread an avian flu epidemic and claim he is the only person who can keep the world safe from it?

He is already keeping us safe from photographs and news reports of the incompetence and failures in the Katrina aftermath. He has banned coverage. Even CNN which, during much of the Bush administration, flopped on its back like a Berlin street whore when the Hersey Bar truck rolled by, is challenging the order to prevent news coverage of the Katrina aftermath by filing a law suit.

Well, Big Sister is on the job, and we can be sure she'll think of something to whip the world into line. The insurgents in Iraq had better keep a tight clutch on their Korans and testicles.

That ought to make us feel really safe.


In Texas, and elsewhere, there is a whole bunch of villages missing their idiots

Here is an account of how FEMA got so bad.

Five of eight top Federal Emergency Management Agency officials came to their posts with virtually no experience in handling disasters and now lead an agency whose ranks of seasoned crisis managers have thinned dramatically since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

FEMA's top three leaders -- Director Michael D. Brown, Chief of Staff Patrick J. Rhode and Deputy Chief of Staff Brooks D. Altshuler -- arrived with ties to President Bush's 2000 campaign or to the White House advance operation, according to the agency. Two other senior operational jobs are filled by a former Republican lieutenant governor of Nebraska and a U.S. Chamber of Commerce official who was once a political operative.

Meanwhile, veterans such as U.S. hurricane specialist Eric Tolbert and World Trade Center disaster managers Laurence W. Zensinger and Bruce P. Baughman -- who led FEMA's offices of response, recovery and preparedness, respectively -- have left since 2003, taking jobs as consultants or state emergency managers, according to current and former officials.

The whole story is in today's Washington Post.


Bush takes step to insure poverty in Louisiana

[OR, first disaster, then Halliburton.]

Nathan Newman in TPMCafe notes this action, one of the few, from President Bush:

Yep, he did it. Bush suspended Davis-Bacon , the law requiring prevailing wages for public construction contracts, under the provision allowing him to waive the law during a national emergency. Rep. George Miller and Senator Kennedy both denounced the action:

"The administration is using the devastation of Hurricane Katrina to cut the wages of people desperately trying to rebuild their lives and their communities," Miller said.

"One of the things the American people are very concerned about is shabby work and that certainly is true about the families whose houses are going to be rebuilt and buildings that are going to be restored," Kennedy said. So we can expect big contractor profits, bad wages and the same kind of shoddy cut-rate approach that we saw in the Bush-led preparations for Katrina."

Thursday, September 08, 2005


Damn that Howard Dean. He refuses to wimp down the awful facts.

Democratic leader Howard Dean told a Miami audience that 'skin color, age and economics played a significant role' in survival in Hurricane Katrina.

Republican morality is in solution form in the streets of New Orleans.


John Roberts' record on civil rights creates stormy times in the Beltway

While the mop-up from Katrina continues to reveal lives lost and opportunties wasted, the U.S. Senate and the Whitehouse are having stormy sessions about the record of nominee John G. Roberts, Jr., on civil rights.

In 1990, the Federal Communications Commission asked the first Bush administration to defend a policy aimed at encouraging more minority ownership of broadcast stations. As the number two man in the solicitor general's office, John G. Roberts Jr. played a critical role in the government's decision to reject the request, according to documents that came to light yesterday.

The case was one of hundreds that Roberts, President Bush's pick to become chief justice of the United States, handled during his tenure from 1989 to 1993 as principal deputy solicitor general. It is also one of 16 cases that Democrats
are demanding to learn more about as they prepare for next week's confirmation hearings, a request they renewed yesterday.

The documents offer a rare glimpse into a time in Roberts's life that has remained largely shrouded, on an issue that is likely to be central to next week's hearings: Roberts's civil rights record.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


You really want to get pissed off?

Read this account of what happened to FEMA in 2001.

A can't-do spirit, a shouldn't-do spirit, guides the men who run the nation. Consider the congressional testimony of Joe Allbaugh, George W. Bush's 2000 campaign manager, who assumed the top position at FEMA in 2001. He characterized the organization as "an oversized entitlement program," and counseled states and cities to rely instead on "faith-based organizations . . . like the Salvation Army and the Mennonite Disaster Service."


God Outdoes Terrorists Yet Again

Does the South Dakota blog world make you crazy?
Get a dose of sanity from The Onion

Officials Uncertain Whether To Save Or Shoot Victims

Nation's Politicians Applaud Great Job They're Doing

Area Man Drives Food There His Goddamned Self

Bush: 'It Has Been Brought To My Attention That There Was Recently A Bad Storm'


BS detector buzzing at a deafening roar? Then read the Katrina timeline

Talking Points Memo is maintaining a timeline on Katrina and the actions taken in response. As information comes in, the timeline will be updated. Here it is:

TPM Hurricane Katrina Timeline v. 1.0

Updated 9/7/05Send additions to Return to TPM

Thursday, August 25:

Friday, August 26:

Saturday, August 27:

Sunday, August 28:

Monday, August 29:

Tuesday, August 30:

Wednesday, August 31:

Thursday, September 1:

Friday, September 2:

Saturday, September 3:

Sunday, September 4:

Monday, September 5:

Tuesday, September 6:

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Disaster and the art of political blackmail

Mark Schmitt analyzes why people approve of abject failure:

Kevin Drum expressed some amazement today at the fact that the ABC News poll puts Bush's approval for handling of Katrina at 46%, vs. 47% disapproval. As Kevin says, "Even if you're a more forgiving sort than I am, what exactly has he done that deserves approval?"

True. But there's a factor here that I think is always neglected in these polls: There's always a thin line between what we believe and what we wish to be true, or need to believe to be true.

Unless you've given up completely on the Bush presidency (as most of us here [TPMCafe] have, but most Americans have not), you naturally want to think the president and the government are doing the best job they can do with the disaster, because to believe otherwise is kind of terrifying. After Sept. 11, Bush's ratings went sky-high not so much because he did anything particularly distinctive in response, but simply because you have no choice but to trust the president under such circumstances. Similarly, especially if your own family is affected by the war in Iraq, you have to believe that the president is making the right choices and started the war on the best intelligence and on honestly held beliefs. It's simply a fact of human nature that people have an easier time believing the thing that makes them feel a little more comfortable and secure in their previous assumptions and their trust.


Let the incompetent times roll!

Eugene Robinson examines the levels of incompetence that still attend the Katrina aftermath:

First, an administration that since Sept. 11, 2001, has told us a major terrorist strike is inevitable should have had in place a well-elaborated plan for evacuating a major American city. Even if there wasn't a specific plan for New Orleans -- although it was clear that a breach of the city's levees was one of the likeliest natural catastrophes -- there should have been a generic plan. George W. Bush told us time and again that our cities were threatened. Shouldn't he have ordered up a plan to get people out?

Second, someone should have thought about what to do with hundreds of thousands of evacuees, both in the days after a disaster and in the long term. As people flooded out of New Orleans, it was officials at the state and local level who rose to the challenge, making it up as they went along. Bring a bunch of people to the Astrodome. We have a vacant hotel that we can use. Send a hundred or so down to our church and we'll do the best we can.

Tent cities aren't a happy option, but neither is haphazard improvisation. Is the problem the Bush administration's ideological fervor for small government? Does the White House really believe that primary responsibility should fall on volunteers, church groups and individuals? Or is it just stunning incompetence and lack of foresight?

At the big shelter here in Baton Rouge on Sunday, some student volunteers from Louisiana State University took a group of children outside to get some air. The kids were using sheets of cardboard as sleds and surfboards, zooming down the grassy levee next to the Mississippi River and then scampering back uphill for another ride. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and the scene warmed your heart. But those college students are going to have to go back to their classes, and then how will those kids from New Orleans spend their days?



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