Thursday, August 31, 2006

Quoting Two Presidents

The words of a great president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt:
the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. ~ March 4, 1933

The words of a small, frightened little man who would have us all quaking in the same nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror that consumes his life:
we will face the terrorists in the streets of our own cities....If we leave, they will follow us....our children will face a region dominated by terrorist states and radical dictators armed with nuclear weapons. ~ George W. Bush, August 31, 2006
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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Rumsfeld Should Read What His Own People Have Published

As Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld should be reading the research coming out of the U.S. Army War College. It should be basic, required reading for a man in his position. But, maybe I'm expecting too much. When Rumsfeld compares opposition to the Iraq War as equal to appeasement of Hitler prior to World War II, he is contradicted by research published by the Army War College just last year.
A reassessment of the history of appeasement in the 1930s yields the following conclusions: first, Hitler remains unequaled as a state threat. No post-1945 threat to the United States bears genuine comparison to the Nazi dictatorship. Second, Anglo-French security choices in the 1930s were neither simple nor obvious; they were shaped and constrained by factors ignored or misunderstood by those who retrospectively have boiled them down to a simple choice between good and evil. Third, hindsight is not 20/20 vision; it distorts. We view past events through the prism of what followed. Had Hitler dropped dead before 1939, there would have been no World War II or Holocaust, and therefore no transformation of the very term “appeasement” into a pejorative. Finally, invocations of the Munich analogy to justify the use of force are almost invariably misleading because security threats to the United States genuinely Hitlerian in scope and nature have not been replicated since 1945. ~ Appeasement Reconsidered, Jeffery Record, U.S. Army War College, August 2005
Dr. Record cautions that invoking Munich comparisons limits strategic thinking and tends to skew policies towards military actions. Seeing every problem as a reflection of Hitler is lazy thinking and leads to
the presidential tendency since 1945 to overstate threats for the purpose of rallying public and congressional opinion, and overstated threats in turn encourage resort to force in circumstances where deterrence, containment, even negotiation (from strength) might better serve long-term U.S. security interests.
American policy under Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld is driven by rhetoric instead of research. It results in actions that are ill-conceived, at best ineffective and at worst counterproductive.

We are not fighting fascism, using the word does not change the fact. We are faced with Islamic religious fundamentalists who are using the only force available to them, the weak force of terrorism, to change the course of Islamic countries. We have found ourselved in the firing line because our cultural, economic, and political tentacles touch every nation.

It is a stupid hunter who declares a goose is an elephant and then shoot the goose with a 50-caliber gun. It is a stupid politican who says everything he sees is fascism and declares war on a quarter of the world.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Rummy's Brain

"What bothers me the most is how clever the enemy is." ~ Donald Rumsfeld during a speech, August 29, 2006
To an idiot, an average person seems incredibly clever. What bothers me is that it doesn't take a genius to exploit the strategic blunders that Rumsfeld and his cronies habitually make. Any halfway resourceful squirrel could make Rummy look like a dolt.


Sunday, August 27, 2006

The History of Terrorism
Part 1 - Ancient Terrorists

The Global War on Terror or GWOT (trademark pending) has been going on since the beginning of civilization. When the Marines began forcing retired members back into active service a spokesman said "The authority is until GWOT is over with." They had best prepare for perpetual servitude.

For the purposes of this exercise I will define terrorism as the act of waging systemic asymmetrical warfare against noncombatants for the purpose of creating intense fear in a population either to foment rebellion against an established authority or to instill domination over a people. Terrorism is as much a part of civilization as agriculture. In ancient times terrorists walked with Jesus, fed on the collapsing Roman Empire, and killed millions.

Zealots and Sicarii
History records at least two of Jesus' disciples were terrorists - Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot. Both were from small Jewish groups in the First Century AD dedicated to driving the Romans out of Judea. The Sicarii got their name from the small knife they used to murder Jewish leaders who worked with the Romans. These groups used atrocities to foment a Jewish rebellion which the Romans crushed in 70 AD.

Vandals and Huns
These barbarian hordes gave English a word, vandalism. As armies they could never have brought down the mighty Roman Empire had it not been weakened by centuries of corruption. When these uncivilized Germanic tribes enforced their will by killing noncombatants and burning cities they used tactics we today call terrorism.

The Hashshashin - Assassins
Another English word was created because of these Islamic terrorists. During the time of the Crusades an Islamic cult grew in what is now Iraq and Iran. Named after their found, Hassan-i-Sabah (not for the hashish they allegedly used to glimpse Paradise), the Assassins spread havoc through the Middle East for two centuries, using suicide agents to publicly execute Arab rulers. Truth about this cult is clouded by legend. It is known they attempted to kill Saladin the Great on several occasions, renounced Islamic Sharia law in 1164 AD establishing their own version of the religion, and as they were being hunted to extinction by the Mongols considered converting to Christanity - an offer rejected by the Knights Templar. In many ways, Osama Bin Laden's Al-Qaeda cult resembles the Hashshashin.

In part 2 I'll examine the Middle Ages, the heydays of religious inspired terrorism.


Friday, August 25, 2006

Explain This, Christian Fundamentalists

It's all about the stars. Skippy gets to the juicy parts of a long Mockingbird's Medley post. The Republican Party logo contains Satanic symbolism.

The five pointed star on the United States flag is an upright pentagram, kinda looks like a little person. The upright pentagram is a Wiccan symbol and has been used as a symbol of Christ on the cross.
The star on the GOP logo is an inverted pentagram. Maybe it looks like a drunken person falling down. My research shows the inverted pentagram has only one meaning, to symbolize the goat head of Satan. Upright points to Heaven; inverted points to Hell.
The Republican logo has its stars point to Hell.

Credit where it is due, Frog Style Biscuit discovered this little homage to the Prince of Darkness last month.

I caught Republicans pledging allegiance to the elephant flag with the Satanic stars back in April. At the time, I didn't notice how truely demonic that act was. It makes me wonder what other rituals they preform around that flag. I am looking again at this site which, in great detail, exposes George Bush as the Anti-Christ.

Another intestesting thing I found in my digging is the report that Russian scientists drilled a hole all the way the Hell. They know this because they dropped a microphone down the hole and heard the souls screaming in torment. If you like symbols, are a Da Vinci Code freak, here is a comprehensive listing of symbols and their meanings.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Leave It to the Mythbusters to Wake Me Up

Mythbuster Kari Byron gets painted silver.

Ever have one of those days when absolutely nothing catches your fancy? I considered writing about how Joe Lieberman is completing his transformation into the Republican senator from Connecticut. But, Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake has an excellent article on Joe's decision to do joint campaign appearances with Republican congressional candidates.

I thought I should write about the neocon wet dream, war with Iran, and how the chance of war is high while the chance of a successful war is nil. But, that requires gobs of research and, didn't I say, I'm feeling lazy today. I'll get to it because it is important, just not today. I've been toying with the topic "Are Terrorists Worth Getting Terrified Of," but there is that whole research-lazy thing going again.

There are lots of interesting things in the news - Pluto had been de-planeted; the Feds have removed evolutionary biology from the majors that can receive undergraduate SMART grants; Louisiana has noticed that Rosa Parks is dead, a school bus driver forced nine black students to share two seats at the back of the bus to make room for white children.

But nothing sets me atwitter. So, I'll just offer some sound advice.

If you missed Mythbusters on the Discovery Channel last night make a point of catching it at 7pm this Saturday. It was one of their best ever. The gang put modern, high-tech security systems to the test. They challenge motion detectors, heat sensitive infrared alarms, and the latest in biometric fingerprint scanner locks. No spoilers but a hint, don't put all your faith in technology. Oh, look for the CIA recruitment advertisement. It's a hoot.


Update: So, the Discovery Channel web site was wrong, they showed a different episode this evening. The episode worth watching is titled "Crimes and Myth-demeanors-2." If you can find it, congratulations.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

It Is a Crime for the Poor to Have Cash

This is an era when the rich never carry cash. Even checks have been replaced by endless variations of plastic and electronic blips. In such a time possessing cash is immediately suspect. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has gone that next step farther, declaring that the posession of cash is, in itself, sufficient evidence of criminal acts.

The case was the quaintly named United States of America vs. $124,700 in U.S. Currency. Emiliano Gomez Gonzolez and friends had pooled their savings and he had traveled to Chicago with the money, intending to purchase a refrigerated truck to start a produce business. He traveled with the cash because none of them had the good credit needed for electronic wealth. By the time he got to Chicago the truck had been sold to someone else, so Gonzolez rented a car to return home to Nevada.

Gonzolez was pulled over by the Nebraska Highway Patrol for speeding. Since Gonzolez had violated the unwritten law enforced in many states (Driving While Hispanic), the police searched the car and discovered the cash hidden in a cooler. A drug sniffing dog alerted on the car but no evidence of drugs was found. Gonzolez has no criminal history except a single drunk driving arrest and, in fact, was not charged from this encounter. However, the state of Nebraska confiscated the money, claiming it was drug related.

A trial court ruled that the money should be returned to its owners. The Eighth Circuit in a 2-1 vote overturned that ruling. The majority stated that the "Possession of a large sum of cash is 'strong evidence' of a connection to drug activity." Note, the man was not judged guilty of anything because there was absolutely no evidence of guilt. It was the money that was found guilty.

People who live on the fringes of society of necessity live according to different rules. People of property don't need to carry cash. People at the fringes do. On March 28, 2003 the Nebraska Highway Patrol committed highway robbery. Aided and abetted by the Learned Judges of the Eighth Circuit, they have stolen the life savings of humble men just trying to earn an honest living.

My thanks to Midtopia for finding this. Art is Diego Rivera's Night of the Poor.

So, the President Said; then I Said

We’re not leaving (Iraq) so long as I’m the president. ~ President George W. Bush, August 21, 2006
This is the best argument for impeachment I've ever heard. By his own words, impeaching Bush is the only way to prevent countless unnecessary deaths.

Monday, August 21, 2006

What If Flight 93 Is a Myth?

"Let's roll!" The story of Flight 93, the passengers who fought back on 9-11 and crashed in a Pennsylvania field the plane destined to slam into the White House, has become an iconic American story, It is an image of pure, selfless courage on par with Davy Crockett standing on the battlements of the Alamo swinging his empty musket like a bludgeon, fighting the Mexican Army to his last breath. In the wake of 9-11, I was like every other American. I hoped, if I had found myself in that situation, I would have had the courage to face certain death by fighting the evil before me.

But, what if the passengers efforts were a meaningless gesture? What if Flight 93 had been shot down?

British author Rowland Morgan has made a second career investigating the 2001 terror attacks. I haven't read his first book, 9-11 Revealed. His second book, on Flight 93, is due out next month and was previewed by the author in the London Daily Mail last Saturday.

The Case For Myth
It is clear that the Boeing 757 broke-up prior to impact. The impact crater is too small, there was too little debris at the crash site and too much debris scattered miles away. Why did it break up? The official story that the plane disintegrated on impact is unbelieveable given the other evidence.

Numerous eyewitnesses reported a "white plane" following Flight 93. No pilot has ever come forward and the FBI instructed at least one witness to change her story.

The official time of the crash, according to the 9-11 Commission, is 10:03. Seismographic evidence puts the time of the crash at 10:06. That gap is suspicious.

The last phone call from Flight 93 is curious. Passenger Ed Felt was calling from the toilet. He told Emergency dispatch supervisor Glen Cramer that that he heard an explosion and was seeing white smoke. The FBI confiscated the tape of that call and ordered Cramer to keep silent.

Two years ago, Donald Rumsfeld said the plane had been shot down.

So What?
What difference does it make if the Air Force shot down Flight 93? It was a decided threat and it would have been irresponsible not to shot it down. It is possible that the heroic "Let's roll" story had become established before the facts were known and it was officially decided not the let the truth get in the way of a good, patriotic fiction. Certainly, the Bush Administration has lied about more substantive matters than this. The truth would even make the government look a little better. They did something on that day, not just sit around with their collective thumbs up their noses.

People who know me know I love a good conspiracy theory but I won't wrap my life around them. For me this is just further proof our government lies reflexively. Every myth told to make America look good makes true stories of goodness and heroism less believable.

The Research List
Kiltown's comprehensive look.
What Really Happened.
A right-wing wacko proves conspiracy theorists are non-partisan.
Eight unanswered questions.
Think and Ask.
Accuracy in Media from December 2001.
YBBS discussion.
Flight 93 crash.


Saturday, August 19, 2006

If You Were Wondering What a Kleptocracy Looks Like...

Interesting ruling from U. S. District Court Judge T. S. Ellis (Reagan appointee), it was perfectly legal to defraud the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq because, apparently, it never legally existed.

Parsing a legal decision from a newspaper report is always dicey, but here goes. Custer Battles LLC contracted with the CPA to create a new Iraqi dinar, something without Saddam's picture on it. Using shell companies and fake invoices, they defrauded the CPA out of millions of dollars. A jury found Custer Battles guilty and fined it $10 million.

The Custer Battles attorney argued that the CPA was not a United States government agency and, hence, no fraud was done to the United States. Now, the CPA was created by the Department of Defense, funded by the United States Treasury, and headed by a Bush appointee, L. Paul Bremer. Still....

Blame the Justice Department
It would be wrong to blame the judge in this. The Justice Department created a unique definition for this case. According to the Justice Department, the CPA is a government agency for the purposes of the whistleblower law but is not a government agency for any other purposes. The reason for this twisted logic is the Justice Department's desire to defend the numerous companies that defrauded the CPA. If the Justice Department claimed the CPA was not a goverment agency for all purposes then whistleblowers could challenge the ruling with standing as injured parties. By allowing whistleblowers to sue only as whistleblowers, their status is treated differently from the greater fraud. The Justice Department's position means that American citizens, taxpayers, have no standing to sue. Even though we were defrauded billions of dollars by numerous corrupt contractors the money was laundered through the CPA before it was stolen. Since the CPA was an outlaw organization, we are screwed.

Thinking about this has given me a headache. Must lie down.

The Fraud that keeps on taking
The Iraqi dinar is still ripping off Americans. There is a bustling cottage industry selling dinars as a currency investment. I won't call it a scam because I don't want to defend a libel suit, I am certain they are all perfectly legal ventures. But anyone who exchanges American greenbacks for dinars thinking they will be making a fortune in the currency market needs to get the word "Sucker" tattooed on his forehead.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Any Excuse to Show the Most
Beautiful Woman in the Cosmos

Xena is declared a planet. I know some scientist with more graduate degrees than good sense will change the planet's designation to something more classical, like Hippolyte, but we will all know the real name of the tenth twelfth planet in the solar system.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Does He Kiss His Mother With That Mouth?

"Global War on Terrorism"
and now
"an extremist group of folks"

Gad, the rhetoric from President Bush is really getting sharp now.

Winner and Losers - Lebanon War

Biggest Winner - Iran
At the start of the war Iran was under intense pressure for its nuclear program. Because of this war, that pressure has substantially shrunk. Their support for Hezbollah, at almost no cost, has been seen as decisive in aiding a small terrorist organization to fight the most powerful army in the Middle East to at worst a draw.

Other Winners - Hezbollah, Syria
Surviving to fight another day is often a victory (see Dunkirk). Hezbollah survived. All Syria had to do was stand on the sidelines and watch and they have seen their influence grow exponentially.
every hand's a winner
And every hand's a loser
And the best you can hope for
Is to die in your sleep. ~ Kenny Rogers, The Gambler
Biggest Losers - Civilians on both sides
Women, children, non-combatants died by the hundreds. Tens of thousands were driven from their homes on both sides for a hellish month. For what?

Other Losers - Israel
When you are supposed to win by a knockout in the third round, getting beaten bloody while going the distance to take a narrow split decision feels a whole lot like losing. Ask Apollo Creed. Does anyone remember why Israel started the war? They wanted to force the return of two soldiers captured by Hezbollah. What is the fate of those two men? I don't know, but they haven't been returned.

Art is Winners and Losers by Arnold Friberg.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Emperor Wastes Our Clothing Allowance

We have all heard it ad nauseam, George Bush is the only thing standing between us and a horrible death at the hands of Islamofascist terrorists. Yada, yada, yada. This is how much he cares.
  • The Department of Homeland Security has failed to spend over $200 million in research funds.
  • Bush quietly tried to cut $6 million for airliner explosive detection technology.
  • The Scotland Yard investigation into the British bomb plot has been ongoing for six months. The FBI must have been briefed.
  • Al Qaeda tried the plans for the British bomb plot before, in 1995.
  • Readily available liquid bombs detection technology is not and will not be used in American airports.
The arrests in Britain has revealed the dereliction of duty of the Transportation Security Administration, DHS, and President Bush. The Administration knew the propects of these types of bombings was eminently possible yet it did little to nothing. The money has been there for our protection and not used. Bush would rather we go into the skies naked.

Sources: AP on budget cuts, the bomb plot from LA Times and CTB, technology not used.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

We Can't Know Peace Without War

The pre-ceasefire flurry of killing is one of the oddest tactical quirks of modern times. Between the time the United Nations votes on a ceasefire and the time it is implemented both sides get in their final orgy of death, trying to squeeze a month's worth of war into a few hours.

Art is The Bombing of Beruit by elin o'Hara slavick.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

The bombing plot broken up by Scotland Yard was classic Al Qaida. It was going to be big, flashy, terrorizing. It wasn't like those sad jokes the American government claims to have broken up. This one had potential. If successful, it would have been horrible. The thing people forget about Al Qaida is that they are pretty much a one-trick pony. Al Qaida has never displayed any skill at multi-tasking or the tactical feign. They plot an operation. If it works, it works; if it doesn't they have shot their load. They never have a backup plan. The world is never safer than after an Al Qaida plot has fizzled.
No. Be afraid. Be very afraid. ~ Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis), The Fly
The British, with the help of the Pakistanis, stopped a serious plot. Good on 'em. All the fear mongering that is following has nothing to do about security and is all about political manipulation. The Bush Administration is going to resort to their favorite practice of spreading terror. For the next two months, our government will do all it can to scare us. Bush will continue to preserve Al Qaida and refrain from attacking them because he needs them as the focus of the fear he wants to spread.

Al Qaida, like the Irish Republican Army, the Red Army Faction, and the Ku Klux Klan before them, deserve a watchful defense. But, only a craven coward would be afraid of them.

Lieberman Running As a Republican

I know that Holy Joe is calling himself an Independent, even an "Independent Democrat," but the fact is that Lieberman is the Republican candidate for senate in Connecticut. He has been endorsed by Dick Cheney, George Bush, even Anne Coulter and Sean Hannity. Connecticut's Republican Governor Jodi Rell is urging the Republican candidate to withdraw. This will leave the field open for Lieberman to claim all of the right-wing voters. To complete Lieberman's conversion into a traitor, Republicans are hoping a big turnout for Joe will sweep other Republican candidates into office.

Holy Joe says he will caucus with Democrats if he wins. I don't believe him. The Republicans will offer a committee chairmanship and he will jump for it like a trained seal. The bitter truth is that Joe Lieberman is cutting-and-running from the party of his youth. He has sold his soul for the price of a kiss.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

These Are the Dog Days

I could write about the ongoing craziness in the Mideast - Lordy, there is enough insanity there to fill a thousand blogs. There is the Connecticut senate primary on Tuesday, but better writers than me have been opining on that for weeks. The weather is Southern California Normal, so I can't write about that. These are the lazy, Dog Days of August.

Dog Days
Go back over 3000 years to find the origin of the Dog Days. We call the brightest star in the sky Sirius. The ancient Egyptians called it the "dog star." For the Romans, too, it was the brightest star in the constellation the Great Dog (Canis Major). The greatest scientific minds of their time concluded that when the "dog star" rose in conjunction with the sun, as it did every August, their combined brightness made for the hottest weather. Hence, these are dies caniculares, Latin for "days of the dog."

Homeland Security
The department dedicated to protecting our cities and homes from attack is featuring Responsible Dog Ownership Day as part of National Preparedness Month in September. Glad to see they are focused like a laser beam on their mission.

Mad Dogs and Englishmen
Or, more accurately, Americans. U.S. servicemembers will be patrolling Baghdad in temperatures ranging from 113 to 117 degrees. In the old days, British colonial masters from India to Iraq and into Africa lacked the sense to avoid the boiling heat of summer. Now it is American colonial masters leading our new sepoys, the Iraq Army, into the midday desert frying pan. Is it any wonder they give us so little respect.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Not Believing It

Claude Allen, domestic policy advisor to President Bush and almost a judge, says the reason he turned into a petty thief stealing from Target stores was the long, 14-hour work days associated with hurricane Katrina. I don't buy it. (Actually, neither did he) When I worked 20-hour days during a political campaign in the 80's the worse thing that happened to me was developing the habit of having breakfast at Denny's at 2am.

I suspect the self-loathing of being a lifetime token Nigra who started his career as an aide to the racist Jesse Helms had more to do with it.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Deplorable State of Intelligence

United States intelligence has determined that Abu Ayyub al-Masri has taken over leadership of Al-Qaeda in Iraq from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Little problem, al-Masri is not in Iraq leading Al-Qaeda. He's been in an Egyptian prison for the past seven years. The United States government isn't even trying to be competent any longer. They don't have a clue what they are doing and they seem proud of their stupidity.

If Bush had been president during World War II we would have attacked Nazi Germany with a cunning invasion of Bolivia. Republicans would have denounced as traitors anyone who questioned why we were in Bolivia when we should be fighting the Nazis. Oh, and Boliva would have beaten the shit out of us.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

What an Awkward Silence

The tragic news that Marine Cpl. Phillip Baucus died Saturday during combat operations in Anbar province is a day old. He is one of the 2,812 coalition troops to have died in the Iraq War. Cpl. Baucus was the nephew of Senator Max Baucus of Montana. Many liberal bloggers of have given their respectful condolences for the family's loss. Liberal Doomsayer and My Left Wing are just two of scores of examples.
From the right wing, almost complete silence. Talk Arena has a slightly snarky take while Lifelike Pundits does a cut and paste. That's it. An extensive search using Technorati turned up no other right wing reference to the death. Their silence is so complete I can't even guess why they are avoiding the topic. Perhaps they are afraid to acknowledge it for fear people might begin to realize that Democratic families are patriotic too.

Small Minds; Small Businesses

The March of Science Goes Forward Again
The neolithic majority on the Kansas Board of Education that believes Biblical myths should be taught in the state's science classes suffered electoral defeat yesterday. Two of the 6-person majority that ordered creationism be taught as science were defeated in primary elections by pro-evolution candidates. It was a small victory for the latest in 20th century scholarship. Art is from 1925, the American Experience.

The Incredible Shrinking Business Giants
Or, maybe, the economy is worse than I thought. The Bush Administration is padding mandatory small business contracting rules by defining Microsoft, Northrop Grumman, and the New York Times as "small businesses." This fries me because I spent a couple of years working for a small business development center and I respect the struggles of real small businessmen. Either the economy has tightening so far that Bill Gates is back working out of the garage where he started or George Bush has a liberal, expansive definition of the word "small." Art is the logo for one of my favorite, genuine, small businesses. Snow Business specializes in making fake snow.