Saturday, November 03, 2007

Pakistan, Our Ally?

Things in Pakistan are pretty nasty right now. I think the New York Times sums it up best with this quote characterizing the “emergency act” put into place by Musharraf is essentially marshal law.
“The emergency act, which analysts and opposition leaders said was more a declaration of martial law, also boldly defied the Bush administration, which had repeatedly urged General Musharraf to avoid such a path and instead move toward democracy. Washington has generously backed the general, sending him more than $10 billion in aid since 2001, mostly for the military. Now the administration finds itself in the bind of having to publicly castigate the man it has described as one of its closest allies in fighting terrorism.”

With allies like these who needs terrorists?

More From Pakistan - Things Getting Worse

Now for those of you who balk at my comparisons of Pakistan to the US, consider this quote,"Some judges by overstepping the limits of judicial authority have taken over the executive and legislative functions". Those same words have come from our fearless decider and now come from Pervez Musarraf in his justification for suspending constitutional rule in Pakistan!

Musharraf had the Supreme Court sealed off and has seized absolute military power after the courts threatened to overturn his election results. Remind you of another election? Maybe I am being alarmist, but I have to wonder if the same game plan hasn't crossed Dick Cheney and George Bush's mind for our Supreme Court.

Pakistan On Verge Of Disaster - State of Emergency Declared!

There is no other way to say it, Pakistan seems ready to implode. Today Pervez Musharraf, the president of the country has declared a state of emergency preceding the ruling by the Supreme Court of Pakistan as to the validity of his election. He has clamped down on all press, TV communications and suspended the constitution. That is the act of a dictator and despot, and the bad news is, he is our ally.

Obviously the Court will rule against his authority and he will use the military to retain his power. Once again the US has come down on the side of a ruthless dictator. How many times do we have to have this happen before we learn? Bush in his attempt to create a coalition to fight Al Qaeda has teamed up with a military strongman and now we reap the consequences. Worse still, the entire region may be thrown into turmoil by a ruthless regime armed with nuclear bombs. Meanwhile Bush rails against Iran, a country with no nuclear bombs yet.

I sincerely fear the outcome of this state of emergency for the Pakistani people, and more importantly I fear something similar happening here. What? It can’t happen here. Nonsense! Bush and his cronies have been carefully eliminating any barriers to his power in the government with their political appointees. These folks are usually unqualified to run the agencies they are in charge of, but they are loyal to Bush and that is all important. It is no small leap to see ourselves in a similar situation.

Already Bush has threatened to rule by administrative decree and circumvent Congress. His Executive Orders have laid the groundwork for a dictatorship in the event of a “national emergency” where Congress would be dissolved. All this could lead up to a similar scenario to what is happening in Pakistan.

These are troubling times, and though I still believe in the good sense of the American People, I often worry that we have been lulled into a sleep. I sincerely hope when we awaken it is not to a completely different country, one this is no longer a democracy. God bless America, and God bless the people of Pakistan.

Friday, November 02, 2007

NeoCon Commentator Calls Waterboarding a "Swim Lesson"

Consumer Product Safety Commission Gets Free Trips From Industries It Regulates + More Recalls

I suspect that like me, you are living under the illusion that the Consumer Product Safety Commission is actually there to protect us from possible dangers in hazardous products. Well time to wake up and smell the lead.

Seems the head of the CPSC, Nancy Nord, has taken dozens of trips all paid for my the companies she is supposed to regulate. The Washington Post details the trips to places like Hilton Head Island, San Francisco and Hong Kong. That last one was funded by the American Fireworks Standards Laboratory to the tune of $11,000 and funny how this alleged “American” group has only one lab, in Asia!

Yup, the foxes are running the hen house and we are all the hens! Think our products are safe? Ask Mattel about lead paint. Regulation is a thing of the past and under the Bush appointees, industry calls the shots.

Though food is the job of the FDA, the story over there is pretty much the same. And add to the latest recall list 414,000 cases of Totino’s and Jeno’s Pizzas, tainted with our old friend E-Coli. Bon Appetite!

Note: This is my 1000th blog entry. Does anybody read this stuff? If so let me know!

The Writer's Strike - Oh Boy, More Reruns!

Since I have never been part of the Hollywood production scene, I am looking at this as a semi-outsider. I am a filmmaker and have worked with television networks as well as independent producers. Most of my experience is in commercial production. That said, let’s talk about Hollywood writers. For he most part they are an anonymous bunch, working away to script everything from Sitcoms to Award Shows. Yes even the award shows are written!

The WGA is holding out for more specifics and more money from “new media”. That’s code for DVDs and HD-DVDs and any other delivery method for programming content. The studios want to keep it and the writers want a piece of it. That is an over simplification, but pretty succinct.

Without writers, television and the movies would grind to a halt. There are only so many reality shows you can create, and even they have writers. Writers are the unsung heroes of the media. Without their toil, the teleprompters would not roll and the actors would have nothing to say. As you can tell, my sympathies are with the WGA (The Writer’s Guild of America) in this dispute.

Let’s hope the networks and studios will negotiate with the WGA and production can start up again. Without it, not only will lots of people be out of work, but we will have to suffer through even more reruns on TV!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Day of Judgement for Fred Phelps

Finally Fred Phelps and his cult are getting justice. A lawsuit filed by a family of a dead Iraq veteran against the Topeka, Kansas storefront church ended in a jury awarding $11 million in damages. The church, consisting mainly of Phelps family members, makes a practice of protesting at Iraq War veterans funerals with signs stating “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and “God Hates America”.

Their twisted logic is as follows. Because America tolerates gays and lesbians and because abortion is legal, God hates America. The dead soldiers are a sign of that displeasure and therefore a wakeup call to all Americans. Say what?

Phelps pledges to go on with his crackpot activities. In the past he made news by protesting at the funerals of men and women who died of AIDS. His infamous “God Hates Fags” signs were a prominent feature at the funeral of Mathew Sheppard, the man murdered in a gay hate crime in Wyoming.

Time for a new sign. “God Loves Everyone Including Fred Phelps, but Wants Him to Pay Up or Shut Up”

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Toys R Us Recalls More Lead-Laced Poison Toys From China

It’s almost Christmas shopping season. Have you stocked up on your lead tainted poison toys yet? We check out Toys R Us, where until today you could get Elite Operations toys. 16,000 of these action figure sets sold between July and October of this year are being recalled because of unsafe levels of lead paint.

Specifically the toys are as follows, Elite Operations Super Rigs (#1004), Command Patrol Center (#1020), Barracuda Helicopter (#1023), and 3 Pack 8-inch Figures (#1024). Other toys in the line have yet to be recalled. This on the heels of the “Ugly Teeth” toy costume teeth that were recalled for lead levels 1oo times greater than acceptable. Nice for a toy designed to go into a child’s mouth!

And while we are at it take back those Ribbit board games were sold by SimplyFun. The frogs in the games are painted with lead paint. Where were these toys made? China of course!

UPDATE: Also in the parade of recalls, Family Dollar Stores has recalled 380,000 Galaxy Warriors toy figures due to surface paints containing excessive levels of lead.

Jo Ann Stores has recalled around 97,000 Children's Gardening Tools for excessive levels of lead paint, violating the federal lead paint standard.

For a complete list so far check the Consumer Product Safety Commission's listing on their web site.

Castro Street A Ghost Town This Halloween

In years past the Castro district in San Francisco has been the site of one of the most outrageous and festive Halloween parties in the country. Every year thousands of revelers crammed the streets in wild and sometimes revealing costumes for a night of spooky fun.

This year the only spooks will be the ghosts of years past. The Castro has shut down its Halloween party. City officials and neighborhood groups fearing violence that marred last year’s celebration have opted for a “Home For Halloween” campaign. The streets will roll up and even buses to the area will stop running at 8:30pm. Bars, restaurants and stores will be shuttered.

Sounds spooky to me. Apparently even increased police presence failed to stop a shooting and the year before several stabbings. To avoid the problem the Castro businesses and community have surrendered to the violence and just shut down. Thugs 1, Gay Citizens 0!

Bush Plans Administrative Orders to Govern, A Dictatorship?

Though it is veiled in the language of government what Bush is proposing for his last few months in the White House is a dictatorship. Really.

According to the Washington Post because Bush has had so much trouble pushing his decisions through a Democratic Congress, he will rule by decree. The White House says Bush is planning to implement as much new policy "as it can" by administrative order. This means he will just declare it law whenever he pleases.

The real reason for this announcement? Many suspect it is because Bush is planning a preemptive attack on Iran. Time for Congress to get busy and impeach this dangerous despot now!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

More Toxic Toys from China - Buyer Beware!

It seems like I am blogging about poisoned Chinese toys almost every day. New recalls and other warnings about the colorful and cheep playthings arriving by the boatload from China come so often they are easy to ignore. Now it seems that one of the biggest poisons is not a prohibited chemical like lead, but a basic ingredient to most of the soft plastic toys. Polyvinyl chloride, the material used in the toys, has additives called phthalates and it’s these that are the problem. Already outlawed in Europe, phthalates have been implicated in the impediment of the production of testosterone and disruption in the sexual development of infant boys.

A disturbing article in The Nation by Marc Schapiro should be a warning to all parents of the possible dangers that are present in just about every toy in the US that is made in China. Don’t look to the Consumer Product Safety Commission to do anything. As I mentioned earlier they have no interest in tightening restrictions and inspections on imported or domestic manufactured goods. Their attitude is “let the market regulate itself”. Just look at the number of recalls and incidents of poisoned food and products lately to see how well that works.

Let the buyer beware?

Giuliani Lies in Campaign Ads and the Press Yawns

Rudy Giuliani is getting down to business early, the business of lying. True to the GOP playbook, Giuliani is making it up as he goes along and that holds true for his quote about prostate cancer. In an attempt to discredit the British Medical system he stated that the survival rate from prostate cancer in America is much higher than in Great Britain. It even appears in his campaign advertisement. Problem is it’s a lie.

The actual rates of survival from prostate cancer is about equal between the US and Britain. I would also ask Mr. Giuliani what about all those folks who get prostate cancer and can’t afford treatment or even diagnosis because of the for-profit American medical establishment? The sad truth is, if you have money you live and if you are broke, you die. And even more sadly, if you are a Republican you lie!

Consumer Product Safety Commission Opposes Increased Funding?

Feel safe buying products you find on the shelves of America’s retailers? Think again. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, once a genuine watchdog for hazards to consumers, is now a hollow shell. To give you an idea of its impotence, there is one inspector for all toys to test for choking hazards! Of the thousands of toy designs sold in the US, one guy is going to test them all? I don’t think so.

Well those wonderful folks now say that a bill to strengthen their agency should be rejected! Amazing! Amid the recall of millions of products for unsafe levels of lead, the latest being those Halloween teeth with over 100 times the acceptable level of lead in them, the agency designated to police them says it wants no more money or power. The head of the agency, a Bush political appointee, (sound familiar?) Nancy A. Nord, sent letters to Congress against increasing power and funding for the agency. Her argument was that more regulation would harm free trade. Guess more lead is just what our children need?

Nancy, like her clone, “Brownie” over at FEMA are what you get when you politicize every arm of government. It is strange that it’s a GOP administration that is doing this, because the former party of fiscal responsibility now seems content to pay for bureaucracy that does absolutely nothing for the billions we pour into it.

Monday, October 29, 2007

FEMA Fake Press Conference Organizer Gets Promotion!

Here is a valuable lesson in Bush Speak. If Bush says we, “never torture” it really means we do torture, we just don’t call it that. The latest lesson comes from the FEMA staffer who took the fall for the fake press conference that was foisted on the American public as the real thing. In it he had staff members posing as the press asking softball questions for propaganda purposes.

John “Pat” Philbin, FEMA’s director of external affairs resigned with a mumbled apology and the administration used the resignation to demonstrate they took the scandal very seriously. Today that same John Philbin becomes Director of Public Affairs for the Director of National Intelligence. See how it works? Whatever the Bush folks say, they do the opposite. Up is down and right is wrong.

Class excused.


Accrording to Mitch McConnell, director of PR for the DNI, John Philbin will not be joing the department. This was not true this morning, when he was still listed as the new director. Apparently public outrage has nixed it, or at least so far.

According to McConnell:

"We can confirm that Mr. Philbin is not, nor is he scheduled to be, the director of public affairs for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence."

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Larry Flynt Hints at New Sex Scandal In the Senate!

Larry Flynt, infamous editor and publisher of Hustler magazine and crusader for free speech has promised a new scandal in Washington in the next few weeks. Flynt has had a bounty out for sexual hypocrites in politics for years and it looks like he must have been paying off on his promises. He hinted that this sex scandal will set Washington in its head. It will be either a male or female member of the Senate and his hints point to the GOP!

Go Larry, go Larry!