Monday, February 26, 2007


Will Toyota's Yaris Make it in America?

I've been interested in this car - Yaris - since the first ad I saw a few months ago. Toyota is the proverbial "little engine that could" threatening to become the #1 automaker in the world, now just a few footsteps behind General Motors.

The Yaris is one of the most economical vehicles I've seen in years. With a starting price under $12,000, it also boasts average MPG of 34 city and 39 highway.

The Yaris is new to Americans, but in Europe the car has been the top seller since 1999. It's interesting to note just how far behind the ecology curve we are in the USA.

Yaris is classified as an Ultra-Low Emission vehicle, making it a top choice for the environmentally-conscious class. How many people will opt for a sub-compact and superb mileage over a gas-guzzling SUV remains to be seen, but I believe Yaris will be a top seller in its category, which includes Chevrolet's Aveo, Hyundai's Accent, Kia's Rio and Saturn's Ion.

Visit for more on Yaris.

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Saturday, February 24, 2007


Sean Hannity: Solid Gold Hater

You may agree with some of what Sean Hannity has to say, though it's difficult to imagine agreeing with everything he says. More people would probably agree with almost nothing he says, since much of it can be characterized as nothing more than hate speech.

I am fortunate enough to hear Hannity nightly on my radio, late at night. Generally, I fall asleep listening to his absurd mix of hating Hillary, smearing Obama and other Democrats and praising anything that walks, talks or even has the appearance of being a Republican.

Hannity is unhealthy, a poison to the nation. He spends the majority of the first hour of his 3-hour radio show abusing, vilifying and distorting the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. It's unclear just who appointed Hannity as the Hillary attack dog, but make no mistake, he's determined to deny her so much as the Democratic nomination for president in '08. He even goes so far as to have nicknamed his show The Stop Hillary Express. Very subtle.

Hannity is not particularly bright, but he doesn't have to be because his loyal listeners - who can tune into any phrase that will fit on a bumper sticker - have made him the #2 talk show host in the country (behind Rush Limbaugh), according to Talkers magazine. With an audience of hard core right wing simpletons, Hannity simply plays to the choir.

One thing is clear about Sean Hannity: he's a hater, not a player, because his show and his comments don't bring anything positive to the discussion. He, like haters everywhere, can only try to discredit others, since he has nothing affirmative to offer on his own.

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Is Iran Next?

The latest political buzz is whether or not our bizarre administration is actually planning an attack on Iran.

Well, maybe not whether it's planned - they've already done that, according to this excellent article by Tom Rinne, but when is the operational question.

With our armed forces already stretched to the breaking point, an aerial assault on Iran's nuclear facilities is looking like the obvious direction. Apparently, the administration is not content to steal just Iraq's oil; they'd like Iran's too and bombing only nuclear sites in that "rogue nation" would conveniently be far afield from any oil facilities.

If the Bush gang is intent on doing damage to Iran there really doesn't seem to be much to prevent it. Congress has shown an unwillingness to stand in the way, though other countries - notably Russia - have not kept their positions secret.

If it's bombs away over Iran, we could be looking at $4 a gallon gas soon thereafter.

Happy motoring!

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Thursday, February 22, 2007


Wal-Mart... Lower Prices and Mercury Poisoning

In January, Wal-Mart announced it had set a goal of selling 100 million compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) in 2007. Now, nearly two months later, Wal-Mart has not yet adopted a national recycling program to deal with the environmental threat posed by the mercury in CFLs.

Today, Wal-Mart made an another announcement regarding its plan to sell CFLs. In response, and the Center for Environmental Health called on the company to adopt a national recycling program.

If CFLs are not properly discarded, mercury exposure can cause permanent brain and kidney damage, with potential damage to vision, hearing and memory. Also, children are especially sensitive and women exposed during pregnancy have greater risks of bearing children with developmental problems.

Without a national recycling program, Wal-Mart's 100 million CFLs could result in an estimated 227,273 pounds of mercury being released into American homes.

Wal-Mart has also not publicly committed to selling only low mercury fluorescent bulbs. In fact, the fluorescent light bulbs which will be available at Wal-Mart will have a higher mercury content than similar bulbs available elsewhere. Naturally, Wal-Mart's more poisonous bulbs will be cheaper.

By contrast, IKEA committed to sell only low mercury light bulbs in their stores and to create a free recycling program to lessen the environmental risk.

A fact sheet on the serious environmental risks posed by Wal-Mart's fluorescent light bulb initiative is available at

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Ready for Martial Law?

According to the New York Times and other reliable sources, the Bush administration managed to slip some language into a massive Defense Department appropriations bill last October which authorized the president to declare martial law just about as he pleases.

The language gives the president sweeping powers to use the military as a domestic police force in response to a natural disaster, a disease outbreak, terrorist attack or to any “other condition.” It's that "other condition" that has Constitutional scholars and congressmen worried.

Accordingly, there is a bill now pending in the Senate, sponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, and Christopher (Kit) Bond, R-Missouri, that would repeal the provisions.

The Hill provides more insight on the issue and the proposed Senate bill.

What will these people think of next?

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Sunday, February 11, 2007


Parade of Liars: the Ruling Class Run Amuck

With each day that passes with war and sectarian violence raging in Iraq and Democrats and Republicans in the Congress debating (or shutting down debate on) non-binding resolutions, it becomes more and more evident that the Congress is - though now ostensibly in the hands of a Democratic majority - powerless to oppose the functional dictatorship of George W. Bush.

The talking heads on the Sunday shows are nothing more than waifs and apparitions, lacking resolve to oppose the efforts of the administration, opting instead for symbolistic posturing and hyperbole over outright opposition in congruence with the will of the people.

Maudlin would be the most apropos term to describe the ongoing dialogue between elected officials on both sides of the aisle. It makes a travesty of the truth, becomes an abrogation of trust and appears to be the end of democracy as we have known it.

After the mandatory Iraq talk, all of the shows devolve into debating the relative merits of the 2008 presidential candidates as though that is an issue of any import with the first primaries 11 months ahead and the actual presidential election nearly two years in the future.

It's as though all that matters is the political news cycle, not actual legislation or policy, but the silly popularity contest of presidential politics and the monotonous drone of debate without consequence.

It is because of this sorrowful and sickening malaise, this disservice to the citizenry of the United States, that I have decided to make this Sunday Talk Show Scorecard the last, and instead devote the efforts of this blog to exposing the abject failure of government, the hypocrisy of both the left and the right (though currently mostly the left), and promoting the ideals of democracy and self-determination by denouncing the monstrous lies of the federal government.

Having been a regular viewer of the Sunday shows for many years, it's evident that these shows, as currently produced and configured, are designed to tantalize and placate the populace, not inform nor educate.

It's obvious from our scoreboard these past 4 months that the best one could hope for in this environment of public fear and official impotence would be a balance of voices from the left and the right, but the left, in the persona of elected officials, is not representative of progressive views. Instead of Thom Hartmann, David Korn, Al Gore, Dennis Kucinich, and Paul Craig Roberts, we are fed steady doses of the likes of Steny Hoyer, Joe Biden, John Kerry, John Edwards, Hillary Clinton.

Those who pontificate from the right are so far removed from the travails of ordinary people as to be wholly worthless. Their views are so poignantly opposed to the public good that in another time - a better time - they would all have been in shackles by now.

These elected types - the ruing class - have not the interest of their constituents in mind. They share one interest, that being job security through election and re-election. The ruling class, as has been proven by legislation passed over the past six years, are ineffectual, intellectually dishonest, greedy, petty, lazy, elitist, obstructionist, arrogant in their disregard and disinterest in the welfare of the citizenry, close-minded, craven and ultimately self-interested to the point of being hazardous to the very people they were elected to serve.

The American people have few good choices remaining to them as our democracy is shorn to little indiscernible pieces and the Constitution is trampled under the jack boot of the corporatists at the head of government. We have seen what is produced by overthrowing the majority: a new majority which preens and postures and poses, and does nothing. Surely, the tactic of voting for change has provided only false hope and great disillusionment.

We can criticize and cajole the ruling class, express our wishes in poll after poll, but those wishes, wants and desires go unheard, our hopes and dreams shattered on the hard granite steps of the Capitol before ever reaching the ears of those who promise change.

We can, however, excel the ruling class in one regard. We can become oblivious to their laws and pronouncements and carry on our lives without heed to their autocratic, undemocratic and essentially unrepresentative decrees, regulations, fees and taxes.

Surely, we cannot completely disregard the established laws of the land, but we can act in concert and individually to thwart the imperial obsessions of a rigid tyranny. No law is so absolute that it cannot be debated and repealed, no tax so universal that cannot be avoided nor diminished, no regulation so binding that cannot be overruled.

Citizens of the United States of America deserve better representation than is now being afforded to them. We have already demanded this and have received little more than polite lip service. It is past the time for debate, past demands unanswered, past acceptance of the status quo. It is time for a second American revolution.

We are oppressed by a seemingly-benign government which stabs us in the back with incessant, excessive taxation to fill the coffers from which they steal and plunder. Always we are asked for more and given less. It's high time to turn the tables on the ruthless ruling class: give them less and demand more. We must demand - and receive - more accountability, more honesty, and ultimately more common sense legislation for the common good.

There are laws which need to be repealed or, at the least, amended. There are inequities which need to be corrected and issues of great import that need to be addressed wholly, openly and without invective or insult. There are lies which need to be exposed and leaders who need to lead from the font of public opinion, not from any particular political perspective.

The situation we face as a people is dire. It may not seem so on the surface, but the machinery of oppression has been at work, unchecked, for many years. And if it is allowed to continue in this manner, in a very short time we will have a country which very few of us will recognize.

I can find no better words to close than those which are not my own, but which should resonate with every American who stands for freedom:

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. -- John Philpot Curran

February 11 Sunday Talk Shows Scorecard

Week 14

Show Guests Score WeeKTotal Cum. Total* Cum. %**
Meet the Press (NBC) Reps. Steny Hoyer (D) and John Boehner (R) 1 1-2 12-35 34.29
Fox News Sunday (FOX) Senators Mitch McConnell (R) and Jack Reed (D), former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith (R) 1 1-3 15-37 40.54
This Week (ABC) SenatorJohn Kerry (D), presidential contender Mike Huckabee (R) 1 1-2 19-38 50.00
Face the Nation (CBS) Senators Chris Dodd (D) and Trent Lott (R) 1 1-2 11-27 40.74
Total for week, all shows (14 weeks) all guests 4 4-9 57-137 41.61

*Total of progressive/Democrat guests to total # of guests.
**Total percentage of shows beginning with Sunday, November 12, 2006.
Chart updated weekly each Sunday.

How well are the Sunday News Talk shows presenting the progressive/Democratic point-of-view?

We look at the guests each show offers and award them a point for every one that is either an elected Democrat or shares the values of the progressive left and a zero for every one that does not. Generally, Democratic party guests get a 1; Republicans and all others, a zero.

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Sunday, February 04, 2007


Sunday Talk Show Scoreboard for February 4, 2007

Notes on the Shows (Feb. 4): NBC's Meet the Press hit a home run with it's hour-long interview with Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards. Meanwhile, CBS struck out by punting with an all-super Bowl tie-in show.

The Super Bowl network may be excused this week, but barely. There's already more worldwide coverage of the Super Bowl than there is on, say, Iraq. It was an easy call for CBS execs, but fans in the stands usually boo when a team punts, and this was a punt.

Edwards represented himself well on Sunday. Possibly the most important statement by the former Senator was, "They [Iran and Syria] will never participate in stabilizing Iraq as long as the United States is an occupying force."

Edwards clearly understands the intricacies of the Middle East and has a plan for US withdrawal. However, he isn't a sitting member of Congress, so he does not have to vote on or introduce any proposals. He presently enjoys the luxury of sitting back and criticizing all sides. Nevertheless, Edwards has consistently shown a willingness to extricate the US from Iraq and employ diplomacy, rather than force, to achieve positive resolution there.

It's anybody's guess why the networks continue to put Senator John McCain on the air. He adds nothing to the discussion except his repetitive "stay the course" and "we must win" messages. His grasp of the situation in the Middle East can be described as monolithic at best.

ABC managed to somewhat even the score with Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, who fielded questions on the upcoming Senate non-binding resolution in opposition to the president's surge strategy. Hagel may have invoked some inside baseball when he said that 12 Republican Senators were on board with him and John Warner on the subject.

If there are indeed 12 Republicans who will vote with Warner and Hagel, the resolution will pass cloture (by 61-38) and be debated this week. Democrat Joe Lieberman is likely to align himself with the hard-liners and hospitalized Senator Tim Johnson will not be able to vote.

Hagel also left open the question of whether or not he'll run for president in '08, though he did respond by saying he was not an anti-war candidate, even though he sure looks like one.

February 4, 2007, Week 13

Show Guests Score WeeKTotal Cum. Total* Cum. %**
Meet the Press (NBC) John Edwards (D) 1 1-1 11-33 33.33
Fox News Sunday (FOX) Senators Jim Webb (D), Lindsey Graham (R) 1 1-2 14-34 41.18
This Week (ABC) Senators John McCain (R) and Sen. Chuck Hagel (R) 1 1-2 18-36 50.00
Face the Nation (CBS) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell; sportscasters' panel Phil Simms, Jim Nantz and Dan Marino 0 0-1 10-25 40.00
Total for week, all shows (13 weeks) all guests 3 3-6 53-128 41.41

*Total of progressive/Democrat guests to total # of guests.
**Total percentage of shows beginning with Sunday, November 12, 2006.
Chart updated weekly each Sunday.

How well are the Sunday News Talk shows presenting the progressive/Democratic point-of-view?

We look at the guests each show offers and award them a point for every one that is either an elected Democrat or shares the values of the progressive left and a zero for every one that does not. Generally, Democratic party guests get a 1; Republicans and all others, a zero.

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