Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Killing for God Is Fun

Given I don't generally hang out with faith-based psychopaths, this story has slipped my notice. Crooks & Liars has found the ultimate in proof that fundamentalist Christianity is the Religion of Death. The faithful can celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace this coming Christmas by giving their young holy warriors "Left Behind: Eternal Forces."
This screen shot from GameSpy shows Elite Soldiers of God gunning down unarmed women. In the game, the player leads the angelic Tribulation Forces as it butchers the unGodly in a style that has been likened to Grand Thief Auto. Tim LaHaye, author of the Left Behind series, says this killing game will lead young people to salvation. The marketing plan is to sell the game at megachurches.

Christian activist Jack Thompson is an opponent of violent video games. To his credit, he is outspoken in opposition to this game that he says will train "kids that to kill nonbelievers is fun and consequence-free."

I am beginning to believe we should take all the fundamentalist Christians and all the fundamentalist Muslims, put them in some isolated place (Greenland will be ice-free soon) and let them kill each other in a place that will not involve the rest of us. See also the LA Times article.

I'm Not an Addict, I Can Quit Anytime I Want

Kick the Oil Habit has an excellent video on their website. Go. Watch. Learn.
Thanks to Hecete for finding and sharing.
Art is The Addiction by Martin A. Maddox.

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Monday, May 29, 2006

And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda

Memorial Day. Remember the cost of the Iraq War - 2,464 dead and the 17,659 wounded, many grievously so. One of the most heart rending songs I know is "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" by Eric Bogle. It tells the story of Australian soldiers at the Battle of Gallipoli in World War I, but it speaks of every war in every time. I defy any person claiming to possess a soul to listen without tears.

They collected the crippled, the wounded and maimed
And they shipped us back home to Australia
The armless, the legless, the blind and insane
All the brave wounded heroes of Suvla.
And when our ship pulled into Circular Quay
And I looked at the place where me legs used to be
I thank Christ there was nobody waiting for me
To grieve and to mourn and to pity.

And the band played "Waltzing Matilda",
As they carried us down the gangway
Nobody cheered, they just stood there and stared
And then turned their faces away


Sunday, May 28, 2006

The National Languages of the United States

English has never been the single, unifying language of the United States. Since the earliest days, the colonial days preceeding the republic, English has been the predominate language but never the sole language. The country has survived, even flourished, as a polyglot society.

The English-Only Movement

is not some new phenomenon. Benjamin Franklin campaigned against speaking German in Pennsylvania in 1753. There were attempts to outlaw French in Louisana in the early 19th century. In 1851, my state of California required all landowners to prove title in English-only courts. This resulted in most Mexican landowners losing their property. In 1879 California passed a law requiring all official business be conducted in English. Shortly after capturing Puerto Rico from the Spanish in 1898, the use of Spanish was banned in Puerto Rican schools. There were many attempts to eliminate Native American languages in the 19th and 20th centuries in what has been called linguistic genocide. The reasons given then are the same as those given now. Assimilation, the noblesse oblige canard that "it's for their own good." The real reason is simple fear of another people, another culture.
Bilingual States
Louisana - Cajun French is the most famous of the indigenous European dialects in the United States. Reviled by English speaking Protestants, the Catholic French Acadians have preserved their language for over 200 years. Once considered the mark of a Bayou hick, the younger generation is preserving the language out of cultural pride. Louisana is officially a bilingual state, English and French.
Pennsylvania - A variant of German, Pennsylvania-Dutch has been spoken in the United States for 300 years. There are over 200,000 speakers. The number is shrinking as the younger generation is not bothering to learn the dialect. Until the 1950's Pennsylvania was officially bilingual.

First Peoples Languages
There are many Native American languages still spoken in the United States. Navaho is the most widely spoken. Navaho should be a revered language to patriotic Americans as it was used by the Code-Talkers as an umbreakable code during World War II. Dakota-Lakota Sioux and Yup'ik (eskimo) are two other large populations that have maintained their native tongue. There are 28 Native American language families and an additional 25 language isolates indigenous to the United States.

English Dialects
These variants are so different from standard English that people unfamiliar with the dialects have difficulties understanding them.
Hawaii - Hawaiian English is the standard version of English used in Hawaii. This is English which preserves the Hawaiian pronounciation of Hawaiian words. Hawaiian Pidgin is commonly spoken on the islands. The Hawaiian language is preserved intact by the 250 people living on the island of Niʻihau.
Black English is derided by some as uneducated slang but experts agree it is a creole language blend of English and African dialects dating to before the Civil War.
Chicano English and Spanglish is neither Spanish or English but a blend of the two. This dialect is still evolving, the Texas version, Tejano, is different from the Los Angeles version.
There are several regional dialects. The New York dialect is famous. Personally, I find a deep southern dialect almost unintelligible.

Immigrant Tongues
Spanish (28 million) is the most common immigrant language. Chinese, Vietnamese, Polish, Yiddish, my father's Finnish, my mother's German and countless other languages have all contributed to the tapestry of the country.

I believe everyone in this country should learn English (surprise). It is the language of commerce in the United States and it is common sense to learn the language. Besides, English is a really neat language; it is, after all, the language of Shakespeare. But that is the only reason. The United States of America is a unique blending of cultures from around the globe. Like forging an alloy, this blending makes us stronger. Trying to impose some single, unitary language and culture is insane, impossible, and can only divide us.

My thanks, perversely to All Things Beautiful for getting me angry enough to do proper research. Literacy Loop has some interesting observations.

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Friday, May 26, 2006

'No One's Panicking,"
Except DHS, Capitol Cops, Lawmakers...

Shots fired at the Capitol! The radio was abuzz with the news as I drove to my yoga class this morning. But these early reports struck me as odd. No one had actually seen anything or heard anything. But, there were these reports. Capitol Police and Homeland Security agents were running around the Rayburn Office Building with guns drawn. Capitol Hill was locked down for five hours. People were herded to "safe" locations. A room-to-room search was done.
Oh, what was it? Was it an Islamic terrorist, a right-wing gun-nut, the oggie-boogie man? No, it was a workman using a pneumatic hammer to fix an elevator throwing trash in a dumpster.

“No one’s panicking, everyone’s calm,” said Charles Isom, spokesman for Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah. Sorry Charlie, everyone panicked. The police were running around like Chicken Little, the media was hyperventilating, the Department of Homeland Security went on alert. Well, one person did not panic. The workman knew exactly what was going on if anybody had calmed down enough to ask him.
So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself -- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror...
~ President Franklin Roosevelt, 1933
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Thursday, May 25, 2006

What Is Two Percent Of ....?

Note: I promise I am not going to write about that 2005 poll that said only 2 percent of African-Americans supported George Bush. That's old news, I have fresher fish to fry.

Two Percent Is ...
... The ratio of women to men in the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra - 3 out of 149 musicians.
... The number of women who define themselves as "beautiful."
... The percentage of dogs and cats in the United States with health insurance.
... The percentage of Muslims in China - still 24 million people.
... just 840 fans if San Diego Padres Petco Park sells out.
... The number of teenagers in the country who are vegetarians.

Two percent of the people who voted in the 2004 presidential elections is exactly 2,445,866. That is less than the number of people in all the United States jails and prisons today.

The Diageo/Hotline Poll released today reports that only two percent of the 801 people interviewed were "very satisfied" with the current state of politics in the United States. Two percent, the amount of fat in low-fat milk, is all that's left in this country who are really happy with the way things are going. But, it makes me wonder, how many women who think they are beautiful, have health insurance for their cat, a vegetarian teenaged son, and really love the President will there be in Petco Park tonight?
Ninety-eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hard-working, honest Americans. It's the other lousy two percent that get all the publicity. But then - we elected them. ~ Lily Tomlin
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O Frabjous Day! Callooh! Callay!

Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling were found guilty - Lay on all charges, Skilling on just nineteen charges. Nineteen? That'll do. Even these convictions only touch the edges of their crimes. As for their sins, there is no human law to punish the hypocrisy and hubris that was Kenneth Lay's creed.

The Crimes Convicted
Lay and Skilling were convicted for bank and securities fraud and conspiracy relating to the collapse of Enron. They were lying to investors, lying to their employees, lying to the banks. Building Enron into more of a confidence scam than a business. Because of their acts countless families were financially destroyed.

The Crimes Not Addressed

In 2000-2001, California was hit by an energy crisis. Enron gamed the electricity trading system using schemes called "Death Star" and "Get Shorty" to drive the price of electricity up by 1000%.
There is a single connection between northern and southern California's power grids. I heard that Enron traders purposely overbooked that line, then caused others to need it. Next, by California's free-market rules, Enron was allowed to price-gouge at will. ~ Former Enron employee in a letter to Senator Barbara Boxer, 2002
Hubris and Hypocrisy
Skilling blamed others for the collapse of Enron. It was short-sellers, faithless stock analysts, anybody, everybody else. Lay went to a God. He started having photo ops at church. He began carrying a bible more prominently than Elmer Gantry. His PR campaign presented him as almost the thirteenth apostle.

With certain appeals, and plenty of dirty money for bail and lawyers, it is hard to believe either man will spend much time paying for their crimes. Still, there was a little spark of justice today. In these times, even a spark is remarkable.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Bungling Villainy with Transparent Motive

Understanding the motive is key when it comes to unlocking the criminal mind. The FBI raid on Rep. William Jefferson's (D-LA) congressional office is a case in point. I'm not talking about Jefferson, greedy little bastard covers his motives pretty completely (allegedly). I'm thinking about House Speaker Dennis Hastert's reaction.

Hastert has demanded that the FBI return all the materials they seized and that all the agents investigating Jefferson be "frozen out of the case." Hastert alludes to the Constitution in his demand. The Constitution does apply here, as it does always in the country.
(Senators and Representatives) shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.
~ U.S. Constitution - Article I, Section 6, Clause 1
Rep. Jefferson is being investigated for several felonies. He has no constitutional privilege. So, why is Hastert in such a snit defending a felonious Democrat?

Between the Jack Abramoff case and Duke Cunningham's scandal, there are dozens of Republican congressmen facing felony indictment. Hastert wants to use the investigation of a Democrat to squelch all of the ongoing investigations of Republican corruption. The compromise he is seeking is for the FBI to pledge to not seek any additional subpoenas for Congressional offices. Hastert is using the Jefferson case to appear altruistic. His true motive is to protect his Republican colleagues in their criminal conduct.

Update via ThinkProgress: It turns out that Dennis Hastert is the target of an FBI probe related to the Abramoff scandal. So, Denny is not just trying to protect his criminal colleagues, he is covering his own sorry ass.
And they all lived together in a crooked little house. ~ Nursery Rhyme
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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Whole World's Goin' Crazy

Am I the last sane man in a world gone crazy? The news today is ringing in wackiness.

Christian Fatwa

A Roman Catholic in India has offered a bounty of 1.1 million rupees ($25 000) for the death of "Da Vinci Code" author Dan Brown.

Sexual Politics
The New York Times, the "All the News That's Fit to Print" New York Times, wastes valuable front page space randomly musing about Bill and Hillary Clinton's sleep patterns and how much sex they are having with each other. Breathlessly, (Oh, my, I'm getting vapors.) they speculate on the macro political ramifications of their sex lives as if any one over the age of four, in the world, gives a flying fuck.

God Given Superpowers

Pat Robertson, the 76 year-old Patron Saint of Lunatics, claims his secret protein shake receipe gives him the power to leg press one ton. That right, 2000 pounds, fully 665 pounds more than the all-time Florida State University record. Take that you sons of Satan!

According to ABC news, Democrats are root, root, rooting for Americans to get killed and maimed in Iraq. Funny, because the last time I looked we wanted them safe at home right now. Either ABC got over that whole having their phones tapped business quickly or they have learned that, when the government is listening, it is best to say lots of really wacky Limbaughesque stuff.

Look Who's Nazi Now
Fox News is saying that Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth will cause the collapse of the nation's economy and is just the sort of thing Joseph Goebbels would have done. I've heard it will also cause ingrown toenails in virgin women. So, be careful out there.

Democrats in California's 52nd CD
- Dream the Impossible Dream

Congressman Duncan Hunter owns the California congressional district I in live in pretty much the same way King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz owns Saudi Arabia. He is the absolute monarch of his congressional fiefdom. Most election cycles even I don't care which sacrificial lamb is running against him. This year is different. There is ever so faint a chance of an upset.

Hunter is tied to Duke Cunningham. Hunter was Cunningham's mentor in Congress and even now considers him a friend. There is a chance that Duncan's dirty little hands were playing in the same muck. This time, I want to be sure we field a lion of a candidate.

There are five names on the Democratic primary ballot but, in my opinion, only two have the chops to compete.
Karen Marie Otter
Karen is a veteran, businesswoman, and mother. She was born and raised in the district and has strong family ties to San Diego's East County. She appears to have set up a good, professional campaign on a shoestring budget.
John Rinaldi
Also a veteran, a Marine, John was born back east but fell in love with San Diego while serving in the military. He has been a policeman, minister, and businessman. He has also put together a professional campaign with little money.

Karen is my personal favorite, but either candidate has the ability to run a strong general election campaign. Should the stars align properly, I believe both Karen and John have the ability to pull off an upset.
Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. ~ Harriet Tubman
The other candidates are Derek Casady, Connie Frankowiak, and Peter Moore-Kochlacs.

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Monday, May 22, 2006

What Is the Adult Population of Connecticut?

Almost the same number of people as the United States has in jails and prisons across the country - 2.6 million. Source: Jurist. Taken for Ranted has more evidence how far from civilized our "lock 'em up" society is.
Kilowatt was an aging con of 65
Who stood a chance to stay alive
And leave the joint and walk the streets again
As the time he was to leave drew near
He suffered all the joy and fear
Of leaving 35 years in the pen

And on the day of his release
He was approached by the police
Who took him to the warden walking slowly by his side
The warden said You won't remain here
But it seems a state retainer
Claims another 10 years of your life.

He stepped out in the Texas sunlight
The cops all stood around
Old Kilowatt ran 50 yards
Then threw himself down on the ground
They might as well just have laid
The old man down.

And we're gonna raze, raze the prisons
To the ground
Help us raze, raze the prisons
To the ground ~ Prison Trilogy, Joan Baez

The Return of Freedom of Speech

For too long Americans have been cowered into silence. Questioning those in power was rude, unpatriotic, treasonous even. Those few citizens who managed break through the walls surrounding the President and his cronies to address them directly were dismissed in the main stream media as wackos. Cindy Sheehan's credibility as the mother of a soldier fallen in the Iraq War should have been beyond reproach, yet "Cindy is crazy" was the meme.

When Jean Rohe spoke directly to John McCain at the New School commencement she was repectful yet firm. She answered his condescending address point-by-point before he delivered it. The initial reaction was to denounce her "bad form." McCain dismissed her and the New School as "living in a dull world where they can't listen to the views of others." McCain's speechwriter, I can't imagine anyone being proud of that job, called her an idiot.

In the past, that would have been enough to erase the brief flush of democracy and restore autocratic order. It hasn't worked. People are actually reading Ms. Rohe's remarks. The truth and verve of her speech stands up against the banality of McCain. Her respectful approach impresses far more than the rudeness of McCain's staff.

Americans are standing tall and proud again. They are standing up to the despots and racketeers who claim a divine right to rule over us.
Caesar had his Brutus; Charles the First his Cromwell; and George the Third— [Cries of "Treason! Treason!"] George the Third may profit by their example. If this be treason, make the most of it. ~ Patrick Henry
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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Neck Deep in the Big Muddy

The right-wing Real Clear Politics calls it the straw that breaks the Republicans backs. Tapscott has similar views. It is an op-ed article by Richard Viguerie in the Sunday Washington Post titled Bush's Base Betrayal. Bush's "conservative base" has been struggling in its harness for months. Viguerie is fed up beyond forgiveness. He is one of the biggest old-line, small government religious conservatives around. He suggests, "at the very least, conservatives must stop funding the Republican National Committee and other party groups. (Let Big Business take care of that!)"
The captain told us to ford a river,
That's how it all begun.
We were -- knee deep in the Big Muddy,
But the big fool said to push on.
Far be it for me to try to delve into the conservative mind, the last time I was called a conservative wuss was when I inched across a moss covered log bridging a wilderness river. But, I know that conservatives like the Iraq War, no matter how badly it goes. The start was Hurricane Katrina.
It'll be a little soggy but just keep slogging.
We'll soon be on dry ground."
We were -- waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool said to push on.
The sight of the administration's helpless fumbling while New Orleans drowned was a sobering moment for even the most Bush-drunk neo-con. George Bush's incompetence had accomplished something Bin Laden had never even dreamt, the total destruction of a great American city. Never again could citizens reassure themselves that Bush was smarter than he seemed.
"All we need is a little determination;
Men, follow me, I'll lead on."
We were -- neck deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool said to push on.
Harriet Miers and Dubai Ports followed. Us Americans on the left took them as more of the same from Squinty McChimp, Chronyism on Parade. But, right-wingers were surprised and grossly insulted. They had expected more and felt betrayed. They had expected some quo for all of the quid they had poured into Republican campaigns. They were being ignored. (Now you know how the rest of us have felt for the past five years.) The raft of Republican corruption leaves the morality wing of that party squimish. While conservatives still try to defend domestic spying, it is a hollow defense. Domestic spying is antithetical to all they believe.
All at once, the moon clouded over,
We heard a gurgling cry.
A few seconds later, the captain's helmet
Was all that floated by.
Now comes immigration, Karl Rove's wedge issue that would turn the election. Conservatives were expecting something spectatular - an Iron Curtain from San Diego to Brownsville or at least mass deportations in the spirit of the Final Solution. What they got was a few National Guardsmen who can sharpen pencils in the office but can't patrol the border, a small demonstration fence, and something that has all the duck qualities (looks like...quacks like) of amnesty. The wedge has exploded in Karl's face. President Bush is a man rapidly losing the last of his friends. Even the Nixon years were never like this.
Waist deep! Neck deep! Soon even a
Tall man'll be over his head, we're
Waist deep in the Big Muddy!
And the big fool says to push on! ~ Pete Seeger

Patience of the Grave

Tommy Franks was the general responsible for the botched planning of the Iraq War. He spoke at the National Rifle Association annual banquet Saturday night counseling patience in the Iraq War. To him, it doesn't matter if 2400 die, or 24,000 or 240,000. The only important thing is the fight against terrorists. The NRA attendees cheered his speech. Tommy Franks gets $75,000 a night to tell groups of fat, middle-aged louts that not enough young people have died.
Some of the people Tommy Franks sent to war demonstrating their infinite patience at Arlington National Cemetery.

Who will remember, passing through this gate,

The unheroic Dead who fed the guns?
Who shall absolve the foulness of their fate,
Those doomed, conscripted, unvictorious ones.
~ Siegfried Sassoon

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Sticking It To the Oil Man
- 1938 Mexico Edition

The Great Depression was still withering the economies of the world in 1938. Standard Oil of New Jersey (now ExxonMobil) and Royal Dutch/Shell owned all of the oil production in Mexico. Mexico supplied over one-fifth of the oil used in the United States. The companies had been using every union busting tactic they knew to prevent Mexician workers from organizing. The workers had struck the previous year.
Bolivia's President Evo Morales has signed a decree placing his country's energy industry under state control. ~ BBC, May 2, 2006
Mexico's President, Lázaro Cárdenas, tried to negotiate but the oil companies were intransigent, claiming they couldn't afford to pay their workers a living wage. The Mexican government performed an audit where, as the story was told to me, the oil companies low-balled the value of their assets to support their claims to poverty. The audit showed the oil companies had been bleeding Mexico for their profits.
The tax paid by foreign oil companies operating in Venezuela will be almost doubled, says President Hugo Chavez. ~ BBC, May 8, 2006
The government and later the Mexico Supreme Court ruled in favor of the workers. The oil companies threatened to take their assets and leave Mexico. They engaged in a propaganda campaign to smear Cárdenas. On March 18, 1938, Mexico nationalized the oil industry in their country. There was a spontaneous six-hour parade to celebrate.
The US says it is cancelling free-trade negotiations with Ecuador, after the South American country seized the assets of a US oil company. ~ BBC, May 17, 2006
The companies squealed like stuck pigs (an apt metaphor). The British government led an economic boycott against Mexico. The country lacked key technical knowledge. Cárdenas organized Mexico's top scientists to discover the necessary chemical to convert their oil to gasoline. The thirty scientists mysteriously died (were murdered) before finishing their task. A second group of scientists succeeded. The boycott ended with the start of World War II. Mexico paid compensation for the seized assets. According to how I first heard the story, they used the low-ball figures the oil companies had given to the government to calculate the compensation.

My thanks to Hecate for stimulating my memory of this story. There is a movement in South America to take back their national resources from the foreign firms that have been exploiting them. It is not a fad but an opportunity to take back what is theirs. It is good to remember that Lázaro Cárdenas is still revered in Mexico.

The photo is of the Tijuana border crossing in 1938.
Additional sources: Deirdre Griswold, Wikipedia, Carlos - my friend from 20 years ago who first told me this story
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But Perjury Is Such a Little Thing to Republicans

The latest reports from local TV station KGTV are that Brian Bilbray, Republican candidate to replace convicted felon Duke Cunningham in California's 50th CD may have lied on his declaration of candidacy form. Brian has a home in Virginia, where he practices his profession as a lobbyist. He has a home in Imperial Beach, California, about 40 miles south of the district he is running in. Both homes are listed as his "primary residence." When he filed to run for Congress, he listed his mother's house as his residence.
"If he does live here, he must leave late at night and come back early in the morning," said neighbor Bill Rider
It is not required to live in the district when running for Congress. There is nothing illegal in living in Imperial Beach, or even Virginia, and running for Congress elsewhere. There is, however, this nasty line at the bottom of all the candidacy forms Brian signed to run for this office.
I certify under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California that the foregoing is true and correct.
If Brian lied on the forms he filed to run for Congress, he committed a felony. I guess he is the logical successor to Duke Cunningham.

Photo: left to right - Congressman Duncan Hunter, Brian Bilbray, Duke Cunningham

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Mastering the Busby-Bilbray Numbers

Live Journal has a new poll out on the runoff for Duke Cunningham's California 50th CD (they charge, I'm cheap, here it is on MyDD). Busby(D) leads Bilbray(R) 47% to 40%. Previously, SurveyUSA had it a 45-45% deadheat while the first GOP poll had Busby ahead 43% to 37%. With differing methods and high margins of error, do these numbers mean anything?

The best news is this is the first poll after the Republican (ie. vile) attack ads against Busby began airing. It appears the attack ads are having no effect or are blowing back on Bilbray. The crosstabs of the SurveyUSA poll showed Bilbray leading among Hispanics. That will not hold, advantage Busby. Busby has better, but not significant, favorable/unfavorable numbers. There is little more visible through the polling fog.

Upcoming Tread Movers

+ The San Diego Union-Tribune has endorsed Bilbray but that normally has no effect. The Union-Trib endorsing a Republican is as predictable as the sunrise.
+ Bilbray is pegging his campaign on a "Stop the Brown Horde" theme. This will move Hispanics sharply to Busby.
+ It appears that Busby's campaign learned the lesson from the primary election - Get Out The Vote. They have a heavy schedule of volunteer activities. Bilbray has none; in fact, he can't even keep his events calendar up to date.
+ There is no compelling issue or person on the June ballot to draw conservatives to the polls. This will make GOTV difficult for Bilbray since conservatives don't like him.

Bottom Line
Busby probably has a slim lead which, in a safe Republican district, is remarkable. She is running an impressive, street-level campaign. Bilbray has a lackluster fat cat-style Republican campaign that leans entirely on endorsements, conservative talk radio, and vicious attack ads. If effort and intelligence matter, Busby wins. If money and connections are the most important thing in politics, Bilbray will pull it out.
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Update (5/18): Had to switch my reference for the Busby-Bilbray poll to MyDD, Crooks & Liars appears to have been hijacked. Pity. See also San Diego Politics.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Adolf Proved It Could Be Done

From the mainstream conservative outlet, WorldNetNews, presented without comment because I'm over in the corner puking my guts out.
Not only will (the mass deportation of Mexicans) work, but one can easily estimate how long it would take. If it took the Germans less than four years to rid themselves of 6 million Jews, many of whom spoke German and were fully integrated into German society, it couldn't possibly take more than eight years to deport 12 million illegal aliens, many of whom don't speak English and are not integrated into American society. ~ Vox Day
Lest we forget.

Hungarian Jews awaiting Nazi deportation. ~ BBC

Jewish children in railroad box cars forcibly separated from their parents and deported by the Nazis. ~
Jewish Virtual Library

At his own website, Vox Day tries to defend himself that he was only saying, "it is quite clearly possible to enact deportations on the scale required." My response, As long as you don't care how many people die in transit.

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I feel confident that President Bush's bold initiative of putting National Guardmen on the border is nothing more than sop to the conservative base. He needs to do something and putting soldiers on the border will at least make a good photo op.
The lights of Laredo dance on the water
and shine in a young man's eyes.
  • The National Guard is untrained for this duty. They will get in the way as much as they will help. In the end, they will be able to do little more than hold the flashlights and clipboards.
  • Additional personnel without additional vehicles means they are walking.
  • The Border Patrol is notorious about protecting its turf. The National Guard will be as welcome as a rash.
  • They can't do anything but watch. The Posse Comitatus Act forbids using the Federal Armed Forces in law enforcement functions. The National Guard, under a state governor, can engage in law enforcement; when brought under federal control they cannot unless there is an insurrection. I suspect this is going to be another one of those laws the president will choose to ignore.
Who stands on the border and dreams of paradise.
He's heard crazy stories of how people
live over in the promised land.

The National Guard will certainly be carrying their guns, what good is a photo op without guns, but the guns will probably be empty. Can you image the uproar if the miltary shots a Mexican national.
He heard they eat three meals a day,
just across the Rio Grande.
He's got a wife named Maria, and a baby named Rose,
and another one to feed on the way.

I don't see this doing much harm, which by George Bush's standards makes it one of his best policy initiatives. It may have a small impact on immigration, nothing significant. It is applying cosmetics to a porcine. Nothing short of barbwire, landmines, and machine guns will stop the migration back and forth across the southern border that has been going on for generations. To our mutual benefit.
Two willing hands, that couldn't find work today.
He stares at the river and curses the future,
that he can't understand.
He knows the child would have a chance,
just across the Rio Grande.
~ Just Across the Rio Grande by Rebe McEntire
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Saturday, May 13, 2006

A Yukon Story - Revisited

A few postings back, in A Yukon Story, I shared a little something I learned of the Gwich'in people from the summer I traveled in the Canadian Yukon. I used the tale to illustrate why drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) would be wrong. That sacrificing this uniquely wonderful culture for a few barrels of oil would be a sin.

The Anglican minister story was not my only encounter with Gwich'in culture. In 1987 I joined my brother's family on a kayaking trip down the Bell and Porcupine Rivers. This is as remote a place as is left on Earth. Scores of miles of impassable muskeg swamp separate the traveler from the nearest village. We flew to Summit Lake
portaged to the Little Bell River
and worked our way down this winding stream to the wide Porcupine River
and then paddled to Old Crow. (My pictures of this trip are still on slides - 1987 and no digital cameras. I have borrowed these photos from a German traveler who took the same adventure more recently. He has several more beautiful, and familiar, pictures on his website. For still more photos and English text, visit here.)

But this is politics, not travel, and I want to talk about the Gwich'in people. Our first encounter was with a magnificent gentleman named Johnny Charlie whom we had hired to drive us and our equipment up the Dempster Highway to Inuvik. During the long, bump drive along the gravel highway towards and north of the Arctic Circle, Johnny Charlie filled us with stories of wilderness travel. Each story was a subtle yet pointed lesson on survival in his world. When we parted, he gave us his phone number and instructions to call him as soon as we reach Old Crow. He volunteered that if we didn't emerge from the river on schedule he would come looking for us. Johnny Charlie was one of the gentlest, kindest people I've met in my life.

While we were on the river, a man on shore waved us over to him. I'm from Southern California, when that happens here you calculate the odds of getting mugged. But, in the wilderness, when someone beckons you he might need help. We get to shore and the man, I don't remember his name, tells us he had just killed a caribou and he wanted to share the meat with us. A stranger sees four strangers floating on the river and his first thought is to share his food with people he has never seen before and will never see again.

Okay, So What's the Point
The comments to my previous post implied that the Gwich'in people are greedy hypocrites. The comments both seem to draw from this oil and gas industry funded propaganda. The Gwich'in themselves allow oil drilling on the caribou ranges, they said. As is common with propaganda, a little truth is used to tell a lie.

Yes, there is oil exploration on Gwich'in land. It is in the southern winter range for the caribou, marked on the map with the little purple dots. The areas are carefully out of any reserved land and well into the southern, less sensitive, parts of the range.

This is the Canadian government's map. It is easy for migratory animals to avoid small disturbed areas when they scatter seeking winter grazing lands. The difference is that the proposed drilling sites in ANWR are in the calving area. Over 100,000 caribou congregate in a relatively small area to give birth. If our oil needs drives them from prime lands into the foothills the effect on the herd, and on the people who depend on that herd, will be devastating. An analogy would be putting maternity wards and nurseries in construction zones instead of hospitals.

The first time I visited Alaska, in 1981, I heard an Alaskan state legislator say that Eskimos and Indians don't need to subsistence hunt and fish because "they can always shop in a grocery store." For many in those cultures that statement is both absurd and impossible. The Gwich'in culture should not be killed off to feed a few weeks demand for oil. The cost is far greater than the benefit.

Other links: Old Crow, Caribou range, Caribou Commons, National Geographic, Gwich'in Tribal Council, Dene Nation (The Gwich'in are not the only people who depend on the caribou.)

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Thursday, May 11, 2006


The clock is running. Raw Story reports aircraft carriers USS Abraham Lincoln and USS Enterprise are heading towards the Persian Gulf where they will join the USS Ronald Reagan. Three carrier groups is one quarter of the fleet. That much fire power can only mean

Our megalomaniac president is committed to a preemptive, unprovoked attack on the sovereign nation of Iran. The Navy will reach attack positions in June. There will be NO congressional debate. There will be NO attempt to gain the approval of the American People. There will be NO attempt at international support. If, as has been discussed, he uses nuclear weapons then the United States of America will have committed the most egregious war crime since Nazi Germany.

Rationally, there is not a single blessed thing on Earth we can do to stop his lunacy. Rationally, we will leave all concepts of rationality in the smoldering rubble. We have a month, six weeks tops. After that will come the true madness.
There is a madness upon the land, a madness that consumes the beauty of the landscape and leaves nothing behind.
~ Anon.
See also Pissed On Politics, Washington Post, Booman Tribune, Life Through My Eyes, Atlantic Monthly

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The NSA Is the Military's Spies

The National Security Agency (NSA) is AN ARM OF THE UNITED STATES MILITARY. Sorry about the shouting but this is important. Every news report I've seen fails to mention this vital point. The NSA is not like the or the Food Safety and Inspection Service, it is not just another agency of the government. It is under the Department of Defense; it is the military's espionage agency.

The Army, Navy and Air Force are SPYING ON THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. There I go shouting again. No reason for outrage? Consider for a moment if a few of the recent news articles were rewritten for more accuracy.
The United States Army has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans ~ USA Today 5-11-2006
Rice authorized the Pentagon to spy on UN Security Council in run-up to war ~ Raw Story, 12-27-2005
President Bush secretly authorized the Armed Forces to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States ~ New York Times, 12-16-2005
Military personnel have been spying on a Baltimore anti-war group ~ Raw Story, 1-10-2006
How does that make you feel? As bad as it is that our government has a massive, encompassing campaign to spy on us, it is worse that the campaign is run out of the Pentagon. There are many examples in world history where a country's military spied on its own citizens. From the Nazi Schutzstaffel though the DINA of Pinochet's Chile and Agentina's Dirty War, domestic military spying leads to domestic horrors.

By definition, the military spies on the nation's enemies. When they begin spying on us, they have decided that the American People are the enemy. When a military identifies an enemy it wants to wage war on that enemy. Unchecked, NSA spying will lead inevitably to the American military waging war against the American people.

I have to give the NSA credit where it is due. For a supersecret spy agency, they have an amazingly well designed web site, a museum, and even a park. In their Frequently Asked Questions section (a supersecret FAQ is just weird) they point out how socially responsibility they are. They do blood drives and recycle pizza boxes. I'm so reassured.

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Helen Thomas Is Scared Now

Poor Tony Snow. It's his first week on the job as Bush's Press Secretary. He is so terrified he has yet to show his face in a public press briefing. All he can think to do is send flame mail to White House reporters. That's where the pity comes in. Poor Tony's flames are just weak, witless copies of Stephen Colbert.
Snow's e-mail: The New York Times continues to ignore America’s economic progress.
Colbert's Press Secretary comedy skit: I have a brief statement - The press is destroying America.
Stephen Colbert's photo is on the right. I don't know where Snow is.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Dukestir Ain't No Squealer

After disgraced Congressman Duke Cunningham bitched up (cried) in front of television cameras I was certain he would roll over on his congressional homies. After all, he was a fish (first time prisoner) doing eight-ball (an eight year sentence). Well, according to a Pentagon investigator, the Dukestir is holding his mud (not talking). He's become a Toosh Hog (hard ass) who's refusing to snitch. If the interrogators are smart they will turn the screws by giving him hard time instead of cushy Club Fed.
Not a snitch, nope, never tattle
I open up the crust of the Earth
Then go inside and steal its worth
Pass the Mic, Unfidelz
See also DownWithTyranny and Muckraker.


Monday, May 08, 2006

Three Beautiful Pictures

Yosemite Valley in the Spring.

Lucy Lawless (Xena, Battlestar Galactica) with her pet gecko.

The trendline of President George Bush's approval rating over the last year and one-third. Borrowed from Political Arithmetik.


Saturday, May 06, 2006

A Yukon Story

Several years ago I was traveling in the Yukon Territory of Canada. I had the opportunity to speak at length with the Anglican minister in the village of Old Crow. A sociable Scottish gentleman, he shared several stories of his time ministering to the Gwich'in people of Old Crow.
Old Crow from the air
One story he told was about the time he tried to raise some rabbits to eat. The First People of the Yukon are meat eaters. They rely upon caribou for much of their diet. An occasional rabbit, though still meat, would be a welcome delicacy. The people were fascinated by his cages of rabbits. The children, especially, enjoyed helping the minister feed the rabbits.

Pets are rare in the Yukon wilderness. Dogs, kept by most natives, are working animals. Although SnowGo's have mostly replaced dogsleds, dogs are still valuable hunting partners. They do not raise chickens or other animals for food.

The time came when the minister cooked one of his rabbits and the people were shocked. This is a society that survives on subsistance hunting and fishing. They eat meat. Yet, they do not understand the concept of raising an animal to eat it. If you care for an animal, if you domesticate it, you have a responsibility to it. To kill an animal you have raised for food is akin to cannibalism. Factory farms for cattle or chickens, to them, is as abhorrent as concentration camps are to us. I don't recall what the minister did with the rest of his rabbits but I know he didn't eat them.

Why Does This Matter?
This is part of the morality of the people endangered by Republican mania to develop ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) for oil. This is the culture that would be sacrificed so my neighbor can continue to power his multiple pickup trucks, motor boats and dune buggy. The Gwich'in are an unique people, different from you and me in ways we can never understand. They are a wonderful people and have a right to keep the lifestyle that gives them a gentle perspective on a harsh world. That lifestyle, of necessity, includes the unmolested Porcupine caribou herd.
other links:
Alaska Wilderness League
a story of the Indigenous Peoples of Alaska
World Wildlife Fund: Canada
Ever Increasing Entropy
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Friday, May 05, 2006

Gas Prices Aren't Near High Enough Yet

I'm driving home on Interstate 8, going about the speed limit because, well I'm boring and it's just my speed. One of those Big Ass Hummers streaks by going at least ninty MPH. He's zipping left and right though traffic like he's trying to outrun the devil. It is then I have an epiphany.
I'll know gasoline is rightly priced when that fellow figures its precious. When he slows down because even he thinks wasting gas is stupid, gasoline will have reached its proper price. We ain't anywhere near there yet.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

A Baseless War, Literally

Carved in the dark – their city of dreams
Drowed in the baseless sands
~ Desert Song, Fair Warning
This is a pretty conundrum. The Pentagon is building several huge bases inside Iraq and it looks like Congress is going to cut off funding for them. Yesterday, the Senate unanimously passed a Joe Biden amendment that forbids spending money to "establish permanent United States military bases in Iraq." In March, the House passed the same amendment.

Eschaton thinks this will be another on the list of laws Bush decides he doesn't have to obey. My guess is he will define permanent in a Babylonian sense, anything under 1,000 years is temporary. Also referenced, ThinkProgress.

P.S. Happy Birthday to LB.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Slime Balls

No Capital discusses a new invention out of Texas called Riot Slimer. Apparently, it is a super slimy goo that can be sprayed on an unruly crowd to make them more, ah, ruly. I would be impressed except this substance was invented years ago by the Canadian comedy program, You Can't Do That On Television.
Okay, I admit it. I just wanted an excuse to show a photo of Christine McGlade getting slimed.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Visible Humanity

[I] had a feeling that your people were somehow connected with my destiny. That what happened to you was connected with what would happen to me. ~ Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
It is rare that I am filled with awe. I have seen over 13,000 sunsets in my life (allowing for the occasional rainy day), many have been wondrously beautiful. I have seen the Northern Lights; watched evening lightning play off Sierra Nevada peaks. I have seen men walk on the moon, a miracle people half my age can scarcely imagine. Awe is an emotion for younger souls.

The sight of hundreds of thousands of Americans (yes, Americans) marching peacefully in cities across the county was awe inspiring. Politicians and pundits will spend thousands of words trying to spin the immigrant marches of the past few weeks. It was a simple statement of fact. The millions of invisible people living among us are flesh and blood. They have lives and dreams and families. They are a vital part of us, whether we want to accept it or not.

Monday, May 01, 2006


To everything (Turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (Turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose Under Heaven
~ The Byrds, 1965
President Bush declared today, "We believe this is a turning point" in Iraq. If that sound familiar it is because we have been around this bend several times before.
  1. May, 2003 ~ President Bush aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, with the Mission Accomplished banner hanging in the background, said, "we have seen the turning of the tide."
  2. July, 2003 ~ The deaths of Uday and Qusay, Hussein's sons, in a bloody shotout, was heralded by Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez as "definitely going to be a turning point."
  3. December, 2003 ~ The capture of Saddam was the next turning point. Jed Babbin of National Review said, "if handled correctly - it can change the fight from a brewing ethnic civil war to one of Iraq and the Coalition against external forces." Guess it wasn't handled correctly, eh Jed?
  4. April, 2004 ~ The first attack on Fallujah. Although, to be honest, everybody except the President was calling the defeat of the Marines by Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah to be a turning point in favor of the insurgency.
  5. November, 2004 ~ After the US Presidential election, the Marines went back to Fallujah intending to either win or destroy the city. Central Command called their victory a turning point in its counterinsurgency efforts.
  6. Jaunary, 2005 ~ The Iraqi election. President Bush in his radio address said, "tomorrow the world will witness a turning point in the history of Iraq."
  7. December, 2005 ~ We were free of turning point references until the next Iraqi election. Bush said, "the year 2005 will be recorded as a turning point in the history of Iraq, the history of the Middle East and the history of freedom."
  8. May, 2006 ~ Here we go again. Another turning point.
If it seems like we are going in circles, with all this turning, it is because we are.
Additional links: Common Dreams, World in Conflict, Antiwar.com
A time to love, a time to hate
A time for peace, I swear it's not too late.

Old Fashioned (in a good way)

Stephen Colbert's appearance at the White House Correspondents's Dinner on Saturday took me back to the good old days. There was a time in American that journalists believed "the duty of a newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." Today, too many people in the business believe that the ultimate prize in journalism is being allowed to put on a tuxedo and eat in the same room as the President.
Cronyism is the curse of journalism. After many years I have reached the firm conclusion that it is impossible for any objective newspaperman to be a friend of a President.
~ Garry Wills
Journalists should not be so distant that all they can hear are shouts, nor so close that they become more conspirators than critics.
~ Walter Lippman
Stephen's appearance was classic H. L. Mencken. With bitting wit and courage, he told the truth to an audience that desperately did not want to hear it.
The Wit of H. L. Mencken
  • Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of Jackals by Jackasses.
  • The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
  • In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.
Visit Thank You Stephen Colbert to express yourself.