Sunday, December 30, 2007

A New Year's Eve Treat

Forget murder, mayhem, Iowa mudslinging. It is time for GrooveLily's annual retelling of Hans Christian Anderson's "The Little Match Girl."

The musical is Striking Twelve and you can buy the CD here.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Pakistan's Day of the Long Knives

Was there an attempt on Thursday to wipe out all of the political opposition to Pakistan's dictator Pervez Musharraf? On the same day that Benazir Bhutto was assassinated there was a deadly attack at a political rally by Nawaz Sharif, the head of another opposition party and a political ally of Bhutto. Terrorists are anarchists who love chaos because it weakens legitimate governments. Dictators also love chaos because it gives them an excuse to crack down on the population, stifle dissent, and imprison or kill their opponents.

For both Bin Laden and Musharraf the assassination of Bhutto has been a win-win.

Visuals from Pakistan

The Assassination of Benazir Bhutto
New York Times photo-journalist John Moore attended the rally where Bhutto was murdered. The website above has his photos and an audio commentary of the event.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Pakistan in Chaos [Updated]

Which is worse, Benazir Bhutto is assassinated just ten weeks after returning to Pakistan by al Qaeda or her being killed by an agent of dictator Pervez Musharraf? Or, what if her murder was an alliance between Musharraf agents and al Qaeda?

The first instance shows that al Qaeda and their Pashtun partners have the reach and power to attack anyone, anywhere in the country. Even the presence of "hundreds of riot police with metal detectors" was a minor obstacle.

The second instance suggests those police were not there to protect Bhutto and the rally but to insure Bhutto's death. This means that Musharraf has decided to become ruthless and that George Bush has made the United States best friends with yet another butcher.

The third instance is the worst. Musharraf wanted Bhutto dead and Bin Laden used one of his minions to pull the trigger. This worst case scenario would explain a lot. It would explain how the killer got both a gun and a bomb through the gauntlet of security. If Musharraf and Bin Laden are allies it would explain the chronic failure of Musharraf's military to sniff out any of the al Qaeda bases known to be operating freely in Western Pakistan. In this instance the Afghanistan adventure is a meaningless gesture as al Qaeda has simply traded up to a bigger and better sponsoring state. You can forget being afraid that Iran might, some day, get a nuclear weapon because they already has access to Pakistan's bombs.

More information of the Bhutto assassination via Newsweek. Bhutto had predicted her own death and, in advance, laid the blame on several specific members of Musharraf's government. The security equipment Musharraf's government provided habitually malfunctioned. If Musharraf's security forces didn't actively murder Bhutto, they invited her death. Bhutto's death is meant to bring the death of Pakistan's hopes for democracy. Both Musharraf and Bin Laden benefit from the death of democracy.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Republican Philosophers

  1. If the opposition disarms, well and good. If it refuses to disarm, we shall disarm it ourselves.
  2. The people who cast the votes don't decide an election, the people who count the votes do.
  3. Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.
  4. Any alliance whose purpose is not the intention to wage war is senseless and useless.
  5. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.
  6. By the skillful and sustained use of propaganda, one can make a people see even heaven as hell or an extremely wretched life as paradise.
  7. I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator.
  8. It is not truth that matters, but victory.
  9. Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.
  10. I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace.

Sources: Lenin: 1 & 2; Mao: 3; Hitler: 4-9; George Bush: 10.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Iowa Predictions

Less that a fortnight remains before the Iowa Caucuses. I have sacrificed a couple of goats to study their entrails.

Democratic Caucuses: Barack Obama will win by what will seems like a comfortable margin. John Edwards will eke out a second place finish ahead of Hillary Clinton.

Republican Caucuses: A tough competition between God's anointed and Bush's chosen. The Republican establishment will pull every trick, dirty and otherwise, to throw the caucuses to Romney. I will not be surprised if bribes and death threats are offered in equal measure. Mitt Romney will win by a toenail. Mike Huckabee will be second. Ron Paul will beat out McCain for third place.

Now, please, a moment of silence for Buttercup and Pinocle, the two pet goats who volunteered to assist me in these predictions.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Romney's Delusions

History can be a bitch. Facts even worse.
I saw my father march with Martin Luther King. ~ Mitt Romney
A simple, declarative sentence. Totally bunk, never happened. It took researchers only a few days to discover that sentence was a lie. What I love is Mitt's reaction. Like a man totally driven by his ego, Mitt is refusing to admit the mistake. Instead, he is parsing the verb to see. Mitt claims that he "
figuratively" saw his father with King. It was what Mitt "saw" in his imagination, you see, but that doesn't make it any less real to him. And, hence, it should be just as real to us.

We have one Republican candidate for president (Huckabee) who claims he talks to an invisible spirit, another (Giuliani) whose delusions of grandeur are so deep he believes he did more work at Ground Zero than the rescue workers, and now a third (Mitt) who believes he saw things that never happened. And, these three are the leaders in the polls. It seems insanity is a mandatory qualification for the Republican nomination.

The Anbar Awakening Simplified

The Anbar Awakening is the term used to describe the fact that Sunni tribesmen in Iraq's Al Anbar province have turned against Al Qaeda and are accepting help from the American military to drive Al Qaeda out of the province. Conservative bloggers point to this fact with orgasmic glee as proof the Surge is working. So, what is this Awakening?

Simply put, the US Army have out-bid Al Qaeda for the services of the Sunni tribal fighters. Al Qaeda had provided employment and protection from Shiite militias and with its usual ham-fisted approach made themselves unwelcome as well. When the US Army offered better pay, better guns, and better training the tribesmen accepted. The American's goal was short-term, convince the Anbar Sunni tribesmen to stop shooting at US soldiers and start shooting Al Qaeda's Saudi fighters. The Anbar Sunni tribesmen's goal was unchanged, build fighting forces capable of defending their families from Iraqi Shiite militiamen and the Shiite/Kurdish Iraqi army.

The long-term American goal depended on the Iraqi government embracing the Sunni tribal fighters as allies. That is not happening. Indeed, this short-term success has simply created a False Spring. The Mahdi Army, Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's militia, has not disappeared. They are playing a guerrilla strategy of laying low while the US Army surges, knowing the surge cannot be maintained and a wiser time to fight lay in the future.
So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak. ~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War
The Anbar Awakening shows the short-term success of the Surge while also illustrating that it will probably, eventually, fail. When the Surge ends, as it must, the United States will find itself exactly where it was a year ago - between two factions in civil war with insufficient troops to keep the factions from tearing the country apart. The presence, or absence, of Al Qaeda from the equation was never a serious factor.

Congressional Research Service report on Iraq and Al Qaeda (pdf) (Not so much a source as a resource)

P.S. - My sinuses appear to be recovering. The ability to breath through one's nose is a vastly underestimated skill.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Winter of My Discontent

Simply put, my problem is that I have holes in my head that are way smaller than they ought to be. Fluctuating temperatures - warm, cold, indoors, outdoors - and changing humidity love to wage war in my sinuses. As a consequence, the breezy passageways that separates my brain from my face become in winter swollen, narrow, throbbing dungeons. Allergic Sinusitis is an annual ritual of the season, like mistletoe and Santa Claus.

There are several issues that interest me (Chris Dodd's FISA filibuster victory; Huckabee's still too stealthy theocratic campaign; Rudy's pending, and long predicted by me, collapse), top of these is my realization that the Anbar Awakening has suppressed al Qaeda at the cost of insuring an Iraqi Civil War. But, thinking much about any of these requires...well, thinking. It's funny how having my skull stuffed full of pulsating wet cotton makes thinking difficult.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Softer Side of Politics

Maybe there is an allergen in the air in Iowa in the winter, maybe the icy winds of New Hampshire are stinging their eyes, but there seems to be an epidemic of misty eyes in election circles.

Mitt Romney got "tearful" in a speech yesterday in NH talking about watching a casket of a returning soldier. Given he has referenced this story scores of times while campaigning it is funny, less than a month before the NH primary, he is only now getting emotional about it. Same day, Hillary Clinton got "glassy eyed" at an event in Iowa where people gathered to tell Hillary how much they loved her, sort of a This Is You Life script written by her campaign staff.

I get it, they're humans (although I'm still open to the Romney is an android theory). It's tricky business, trying to sell a candidate's sensitive side. Pitch too hard and you turn off voters, no one is going to vote for a man they think is going to start sobbing in the Oval Office. Soft sell it wrong and your candidate looks like a faker. Bill Clinton was a master at achieving that delicate balance. Mitt and Hillary ain't.
The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you've got it made. ~ Jean Giraudoux

Monday, December 17, 2007

A Holiday Nosh

Seventy years ago in a movie called "Way Out West" Laurel and Hardy step off a stage, annoy a married woman and her gun slinging hubby, and danced to a song by the Avalon Boys. The music starts 1:30 in and is worth the wait.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

If God's On Our Side
He'll Stop the Next War

His name is Bob Dylan, he was 22 when he wrote With God On Our Side. But, these things mean nothing. Whenever I hear some Republican preacher/politician claim a personal relationship with Jesus on the inhale and hector for endless war on the exhale, I think of the final lines to this song.

Joan Baez is the singer.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Bush Defends His Right to Torture

In the spirit of the season, George Bush has objected to the Intelligence Authorization Act (HR 2082) because it will make illegal what already is illegal, the CIA torture camps. Bush's objections to this and more are couched in legalese (here in pdf format) but they translate easily into English.

Section 327 requires the CIA and all other "human intelligence collectors" to abide by the Army Field Manual for interrogations. Meaning, no more of the various torture methods the CIA is known to use including waterboarding. Bush objects. Section 413 creates an Inspector General for the whole intelligence community with a very detailed scope of responsibilities. Bush wants to maintain a fractured and ineffective oversight.

Section 444 requires Senate confirmation for intelligence community department heads. As always, Bush objects to Senate participation in government. Section 406 requires a comprehensive listing of all Special Access Programs (SAPs). SAPs are Department of Defense black ops, those almost always illegal ultra-top secret activities that are more romantic and noble in spy novels than real life. Bush objects to even a vague listing of these activities.

Section 328 requires that the congressional intelligence committees be briefed regarding Israel's bombing of a Syrian facility or the National Intelligence Program does not get fully funded. Bush objects. Section 329 simply gives the force of law to all reporting requirments in the classified portion of the bill. Bush calls that "absurd."

Section 502 requires reporting to Congress of any attempt to overthrow a "democratically elected government" in the past decade. Setting aside for the moment the simple question, What the Hell is the United States doing trying to overthrow democratically elected governments?!!! If we are doing that then Congress has the bloody hell right to know about it. Damn it, the American People have the right to know. Bush wants to keep that all secret. (P.S. This is an attempt to pry the lid off Bush's attempted coup in Venezuela in 2002.)

Section 307 addresses the practice of using private contractors (Blackwater) in the secret agent biz and requires reports. Bush claims that such reports are impossible as they would require work.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Fred Thompson in Ohio

Fred Thompson was in Ohio today bragging that he remembers the lineup for the '64 Cleveland Indians. So do I.
  1. Dick Howser - SS (3 HR, .45 BA)
  2. Vic Davalillo - CF (6 HR, .270 BA)
  3. Leon Wagner - LF (31 HR, .253 BA)
  4. Max Alvis - 3B (18 HR, .252 BA)
  5. Fred Whitfield - 1B (10 HR, .270 BA)
  6. Tito Francona - RF (8 HR, .248 BA)
  7. Johnny Romano - C (19 HR, .241 BA)
  8. Woodie Held - 2B (18 HR, .236 BA)
Larry Brown (12 HR, .230 BA) ended the season playing more secondbase than Held; Bob Chance (14 HR, .279 BA) played a lot at firstbase.

Does this mean I am qualified to be the Republican nominee for President of the United States?

Clinton, Coke, Obama, and Mud

First off, I am not in political love with Barack Obama. His campaign association with a homophobic preacher (one Rev. Donnie McClurkin) was disturbing and his occasional bellicosity towards Iran is bizarre. There is every reason to question Obama's liberal bona fides.

With that caveat, the mud being heaved at Obama from the Clinton camp is reaching Republican levels of scuzz. The latest turd toss comes from Billy Shaheen, the co-chairman of Hillary Clinton's New Hampshire campaign. Shaheen, today, said that Obama's use of cocaine while in high school (30 years ago) makes him unelectable. Let's see now. George Bush Jr. was a shitfaced drunk for most of his adult life. Bill Clinton used pot in college but never inhaled (yeah, right). Hillary probable took hits at the same parties.

A three decade old drug use that hasn't scarred or retarded his life one jot is a non-story. Does Obama need to be able to deflect that attack? Yep. In that, Shaheen is doing Obama a favor by giving him some training camp practice fielding the mud. For me, the story is that a Clinton surrogate is so frightened by the trends of the campaign that he felt the need to open the shit valve. Did Clinton approve of the mud slinging? Don't know, but Shaheen is no amateur. He either cleared the statement with Clinton's staff or is himself authorized to speak on her behalf.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Halliburton Rape Case

Jamie Leigh Jones was a beautiful young employee of Halliburton's Kellogg Brown and Root subsidiary working in Iraq's Green Zone. One day more than two years ago, her fellow KBR employees decided to drug and gang raped her. After the rape, she was imprisoned by armed KBR security guards in a shipping container, held without food or water for 24 hours, and threatened that if she told anyone or sought treatment for the multiple rapes she would be fired. Ms. Jones convinced a humane guard to loan her a cell phone. She called her father. He called Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) who contacted the State Department which organized the rescue of Ms. Jones. Physical evidence of the rape, the rape kit, disappeared while in the possession of KBR security personnel. No criminal charges have been filed and KBR is fighting to prevent Ms. Jones from pursuing a civil suit.

Ms. Jones and her family have organized a nonprofit foundation to help other women who have been raped and abused while working for federal contractors overseas.

via Crooks and Liars: ABC News report
The Jamie Leigh Foundation website

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Did Andrew Young Uncle Tom for Clinton?

Playing the Race Card is one of the most disgusting things a campaign can do, even though it often works. Jesse Helms was a master at it. Bob Corker won election to the Senate in Tennessee last year with a revolting example. It is seldom tried in a Democratic Party primary because Democrats react with rage at such blatant racism. What, then, was Andrew Young up to on NewsmakersLive?

To an African-American audience, Young pitched the message that Barack Obama is too young, not black enough, doesn't have enough black friends, and hasn't slept with enough black women. Young came close to calling Obama "Boy." He implicitly charged miscegenation, telling a lie that Obama is part Chinese. Obama's mother is a white American. If his exact same words has been spoken by some Good ol' Boy it would have been understood as old school, Strom Thurmond racism.

It was subtle, but Young managed to sneak in all of the old racist canards. It was something no white supporter of Hillary Clinton could have gotten away with. Only someone with the reputation of Young could have taken up the role of Lester Maddox.

Obama will have to withstand this test because Huckabee, Giuliani, or Romney will certainly be more blatantly racist should they have a chance. Still, it is disappointing and no less disgusting that the first person in the 2008 election to play the Race Card against Obama was Andrew Young on behalf of Hillary Clinton.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Five Most Dangerous Presidential Candidates

There are many ways to choose a candidate - tallest, best looking, nicest smile, correct on the issues (oh, how quaint). I'm going to look at the reverse, the five candidates whose very existence most place the nation, the Constitution, and our freedom at risk.
  1. Mike Huckabee - Huckabee would place an extreme definition of Christianity in control. It is wrong to assume that Men of God are, necessarily, moral. Huckabee's faith, like that of the Taliban's Mullah Omar, believes that all temporal matters, like freedom and personal liberty, are subordinate to the commands of God. Or, more accurately, to their personal commands as God's chosen rulers. Huckabee would do what Bush has only attempted. He would impose a theocratic rule over all American's public and private lives and woe unto those who fail the test of faith.
  2. Rudy Giuliani - Imagine Michael Corleone as president. This is not a knock of Rudy's Italian heritage; I would prefer the analogy were less accurate. Rudy is ruthless - he has bragged to have tortured people he interrogated while a district attorney. This is, in fact, a lie. Rudy has a psychopath's ability lie as readily as other people breath. He is not just dishonest but fundamentally corrupt. He mentored Bernie Kerik into a 16 count federal fraud and racketeering indictment. He has been hiding from scrutiny his "consulting" business activities. He would engage in war just so his friends could profit from it.
  3. Mitt Romney - Which is worse, someone whose religious convictions are so pronounced he would easily scrap the law and Constitution if he felt it was God's command (Huckabee) or someone who thinks he has to act like that? Romney is a chameleon. He will believe whatever is most beneficial to him at the moment. It benefits him at the moment to appeal to the Christian Taliban and their desire to debase liberty beneath their faith. Romney is in this for Romney. There is no law, no oath, no freedom he will not sacrifice for Romney.
  4. Fred Thompson - Fred is the neo-conservative Useful Idiot. Cut from the same bolt of cloth that gave the nation Warren Harding, Fred will do whatever Fred is told. Want war? Fred will send soldiers to their deaths without a thought. Want to suckle at the Federal teat? Fred will massage it until it is nice and firm. Fred will do whatever Fred is told as long as Fred doesn't have to work or think.
  5. Hillary Clinton - In the United States political posts should not be considered hereditary titles. Passing the presidency from father to son, from husband to wife, is a repulsive thought to me. When it has been done in the past (John Quincy Adams, George Bush Jr.) it has been a disaster to the nation. I may mostly agree with Hillary's politics (although her thoughts on war and peace are decidedly neo-con) I cannot abide the notion of the presidency being passed back and forth between two families for a quarter of a century as if it were property, a silver tea set.
I could find room for Tancredo, Hunter, and Keyes on this list if they had a chance in hell.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

There Are Tests and, then, There Are Tests

Religious Tests. Mitt Romney cut a cute double standard on religious tests today. He started by decrying the concept of religious tests in so far as the questions involve his Mormon faith. In that he is right; if he had stopped right there it would have been a good speech. It doesn't matter if Mitt is a Mormon, a Mohammedan, or a Caodist. His religious philosophy in this multi-ethnic, religiously pluralistic nation is of no important as long has he does not try to impose his faith on others.

Unfortunately, Romney kept talking. He appealed directly to Christian Dominionists. He called for government imposition of religious symbols and festivals "in the public square." He advocated judges who would put a religious interpretation on the Constitution. He had previously stated his opposition to the idea of having a Muslim on his cabinet. A Romney presidency would have a clear Judeo-Christian (emphasis of the Christian) test for federal office.

Romney in Brief: No to religious tests for President; yes to religious tests for everybody else.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Handicapping the Presidential Race - Democrats

Creeping movement in the polls but no paradigm shifts yet with a month until the Iowa caucus. Same rules as before, I'll be offering my odds and, for comparison, in red the odds calculated by the Intrade Trading Exchange.

Hillary Clinton (Sen-NY) - 1 to 2 (1 to 2)
Advantages: Best "name ID" of anyone of either party. Enough money and endorsements to survive several negative hits. Disadvantages: Her name ID is as a Clinton. She is well and truly hated by most Republicans and many Democrats. There is some chattering among the chattering classes that Clinton is in trouble but that strikes me as more fishing for headlines than fact. The biggest risk she faces is a mass revulsion by the electorate of the idea of replacing one family dynasty with a second.

Barack Obama (Sen-IL) - 3 to 1 (3 to 1)
Advantages: Still charismatic. More than enough money to withstand the February mega-primary. Oprah. Disadvantage: Still can't shake the stigma of being a rookie. Obama has to win Iowa, have a respectable showing in New Hampshire, then go into non-stop campaign mode through February. Sleep is for June.

John Edwards (former Sen-NC) - 20 to 1 (16 to 1)
Advantage: Can stand aside and watch Obama and Clinton beat each other into pulp. Disadvantage: Has to stand aside and watch. Obama and Clinton have such big political lungs there is not enough oxygen left for Edwards to breath, let along get a message out. I am reluctant to mention this but it is nonetheless true, Edwards is the most popular white male in the Democratic race. If racial and sexual bigotry surfaces he will benefit. The irony is Edwards would never play that card. (Unlike, say, Giuliani, Romney, and Huckabee.)

Chris Dodd (Sen-Conn) - 1000 to 1 (1000 to 1)
Advantage: I like him. Disadvantage: I'm the only one. In every poll, Chris Dodd has less support than the margin of error. That means it is possible, mathematically, that Dodd's actual number of supporters is a negative number.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Further on Romney's Religion

In answer to the comment to the previous post on Romney's Religion: Of course, I am mostly ignorant of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), I was being both sarcastic and truthful.

Latter-Day Saints themselves consider the Book of Mormon a New Covenant, as this book notes, that supersedes the covenants of the Hebrew and Christian bibles.

The writings of Brigham Young and other church elders has been quite racist, as is some of the text of the Book of Mormon itself.
he had caused the cursing to come upon them...wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. ~ 2 Nephi 5:21

Cain slew his brother....and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin...
~ Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses (third paragraph from the bottom)

Negroes in this life are denied the priesthood; under no circumstances can they hold this delegation of authority from the Almighty....The Negroes are not equal with other races where the receipt of certain spiritual blessings are concerned, particularly the priesthood and the temple blessings that flow there from.
~ Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine 1958

When God allows a spirit to take on a Negroid body, do you suppose He is unaware of the fact that he will suffer a social stigma? Therefore, if you say this Church is unjust in not allowing the Negro to bear the Priesthood, you must, to be consistent, likewise say that God is even more unjust in giving him a black skin. ~ John J. Stewart, Mormonism and the Negro, 1960
The ban of Blacks from the priesthood because they bore the Mark of Cain was lifted in 1978. See also Deuce of Clubs.

As for polygamy, the people who currently practice it have been officially excommunicated by the LDS. But, they believe themselves to be Mormon fundamentalists. They believe the ending of polygamy in 1890 was a political act to gain statehood for Utah (it was) and they refuse to follow it.

What is your definition of a cult? (1) Any religion founded by one person who claims unique insight and/or personal contact with God. (2) Any religion that requires its acolytes to cut themselves off from the rest of society like, say, trekking out to the Utah desert in 1847. (3) Any religion founded in antebellum upstate New York or California in the 1960's. Those were weird times and places for religions.

Romney's Religion

Since Mitt Romney is going to give a speech on his religion, a brief Mormon Primer is in order.

Mormons have much in common with other American cults. Created in 1830 by Joseph Smith, there are about 5.5 million Mormons in the United States and about 10 million worldwide. About 70% of the State of Utah practices the Mormon faith.
  • As with many American-born religions, Mormons believe that the United States is the New Jerusalem and God has a special covenant with Americans.
  • They believe Americans are God's chosen people (sorry about that you Jewish folk). But, not just any Americans, only white Americans. This is similar to the much more obscene beliefs of the Christian Identity movement. It was not until 1978, when Mitt Romney was 31 years-old, that the Mormon Church officially revoked their belief that black skin was the "Mark of Cain" and showed God has cursed all people of color. Interracial marriage is still considered a sin.
  • Similar to the Oneida Community, Mormons had strange sexual practices. The exact theological underpinnings for polygamy escape me. As near as I can tell, the Mormon God instructed only one wife per man unless he really, really liked you. Then you could have a harem. Polygamy was officially outlawed by the church in 1890. There are today some 60,000 practicing Mormon polygamists, mostly in Utah, Arizona, and Mexico. That is a larger number than practiced polygamy in 1890.
  • As with other cults, there are organizations to help "deprogram" people from the Mormon faith.
  • One of the more unusual features of the religion is its underwear fetish.
I can't answer the question whether a practicing Mormon should be elected President. I just don't know. However, we have had a practicing imbecile in the office for seven years now and the nation has survived.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Handicapping the Presidential Race - Republicans

The betting line on Republican candidates has been stable except for Huckabee (rocketing up) and Thompson (free fall). As this campaign continues there is now the possibility that this will be the first major political party in US history to throw up their collective hands and nominate nobody. As before, I'll be offering my odds and, for comparison, in red the odds calculated by the Intrade Trading Exchange.

Mitt Romney (former gov-MA) - 5 to 1 (3 to 1)
Advantage: enough money to buy the election outright. Disadvantages: Perceived to be trying to buy the election outright, especially in Iowa. Seems afraid to admit to being a Mormon; he tiptoes around the subject whenever it comes up. Gives off a slick as a used-car salesman vibe. In a dead-heat right now in Iowa with no-budget religious Zealot Huckabee.

Rudy Giulianitm (former mayor of New York) - 5 to 1 (1.3 to 1)
Advantages: Comes off as a warrior who never actually fought a war - Republicans love that. Perceived as having "the best chance in November." Disadvantages: Enough negative baggage to sink the Titanic. He's financially corrupt, morally bankrupt, and a royal asshole (that last one might be an advantage). Even his supporters have been reduced to the "not as bad as Bill Clinton" defense. His is a campaign that needs an Air of Inevitability, as that crumbles his support will collapse like a toothpick bridge.

Mike Huckabee (gov-AR) - 5 to 1 (8 to 1)
Advantages: God's anointed, the Zealot's candidate. A southerner not from Massachusetts or New York. Disadvantages: Hated by orthodox Republicans as a Big Government Liberal; highlights the chasm between orthodox Republicans and the religious Zealots. Has little money and a hayseed style that won't sell among people who wear nice shoes. Giuliani supporters have been circulating the idea that Huckabee should be Rudy's Veep. The question is whether the Zealots will accept being the silly monkey shilling for Giuliani's organ grinder.

Fred Thompson (actor-TN) 12 to 1 (17 to 1)
Advantage: Not Rudy, Mitt, or Huck. Disadvantage: Not much of anything else. His little boomlet has fizzled. In horse race parlance he "looked better in the paddock than he does on the track." Still has a slim chance; if Republicans decide to nominate nobody, Thompson's their guy.

St. John McCain (Sen-AZ) - 30 to 1 (13 to 1)
Advantage: Keeps on hanging on. Disadvantages: Hanging on by his fingernails. He has no money anymore. No endorsements anymore. Way too old to be the Comeback Kid. Too well known so that every Republican knows something about McCain they hate.

Ron Paul (congressman-TX) - 40 to 1 (17 to 1)
Advantage: Has the libertarian and Birch Society votes. Disadvantage: Attracts racists and wackos. Ron Paul's campaign events have the circus feel of a Jim Jones People's Temple revival. There is something really scary about the people who go to cheer him.

Newt Gingrich (whatever-GA) - 50 to 1 (300 to 1)
Advantage: He'll be the choice of a brokered convention. Disadvantage: He's Newt, for god sake. Let's say that Rudy locks things up in February. By May, enough new scandals have come out that there is massive buyer's remorse and even possible indictments facing Giuliani. Will Republicans stick with Rudy and go down to a party shattering defeat or will they go to the bench for some old, washed up orthodox conservative?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Republican Schism Ahead

Continuing the analogy that the Republican Party is becoming a religious faith, Republicanism may be heading for a schism. The orthodox church, call it the Goldwater/Reagan denomination, believes in small government, few taxes, and kill all foreigners as articles of the faith. Neo-conservatives are the deacons of this denomination. Their champion in this election cycle is Rudy Giuliani.

The Zealot sect, the DeLay/Falwell/Dobson denomination, hold that the whole of the nation must practice their moral code - and they believe in killing all foreigners. The practical fact is that imposing a specific moral code on a diverse nation requires a large, intrusive government. Their champion, Mike Huckabee, has thus frightened orthodox Republicans with his "big government" philosophies.

For decades, the two sects have maintained an uneasy truce under the leadership of the orthodox church. A few Zealot creeds like anti-abortionism and homophobism were added to the catechism but it was never more than empty recitation of the mantras. Mostly they bonded under their mutual xenophobia. Orthodox leaders like St. Reagan managed to satisfy the Zealots by reciting Zealot creeds without practicing them. As the years have passed a chasm has developed as the Zealots have begun to insist on more than just the words. This year, the chasm appears unbridgeable.

Giuliani is fully orthodox in the manner of Richard Nixon with nothing to appease the Zealots. Mitt Romney has tried to recite the old Zealot mantras but he lacks the fake passion Zealots have come to demand. There was a brief hope that Fred Thompson would appease both factions by reprising the role of amiable dunce played so well by George W. Bush. But that hope has faded as it became apparent that Thompson is not amiable and more corpse than dunce. Into the picture has appeared Mike Huckabee. Zealot to the core, Huckabee is untainted by orthodoxy. An ordained preacher, he includes creationism as a campaign platform.

The Republican Orthodox Church will never accept a Zealot like Huckabee as their anointed leader. Conversely, the Zealots will not surrender their faith to the likes of Giuliani or Romney. There is no middle ground this year and the resulting schism may be as epic as the Seventh Century Sunni/Shia break.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Republican Loyalty Oaths

Ich schwöre: Ich werde dem Führer des Deutschen Reiches und Volkes Adolf Hitler ~ Hitler's mandatory loyalty oath
All people voting in the Virginia Republican primary on Feb. 12 will be required to sign a loyalty oath to the Party. The text, according to the Washington Post, is "I, the undersigned, pledge that I intend to support the nominee of the Republican Party for President." People who refuse to sign the oath will be forbidden the right to vote.

Requiring loyalty oaths is a growing Republican trend. Earlier this year, the Kansas Republican Party required its members to sign a "Unity Pledge" remarkable similar to the Mafia Blood Oath that said in part "I promise never to abandon my present Republican Party" and "at no point will ‘Party switching’ or quitting of the Party be tolerable." I expect "Party switchers" will get wacked.

In 2004, Bush and Cheney famously required signed oaths of loyalty to George Bush for entry into their campaign events and even required people to stand and recited a oral Pledge of Allegiance to Bush. Less well known is when Bush visited the troops in Iraq for Thanksgiving in 2004, only soldiers who swore personal loyalty to Bush were allowed to share the turkey dinner.

I expect more of these oaths as the Republican Party continues its evolution into a religious movement where disloyalty to party is considered a grievous mortal sin. Republicanism, as a religious sect, sees us Democrats as heathens. Evil, of course, but as we are blinded to their light they have a certain degree of pity for us. Having been Republican and leaving the Party is treasonous apostasy, an unforgivable crime against God/Bush where the worst punishments of Hell/Gitmo await. In strict Islam and Christianity, the punishment for apostasy is shunning and death followed by everlasting hellfire.

Right On, Dude!

Rising Hedemon
Sometimes, rarely, pretty much never, I stumble upon writing that is so good, so funny, so goddamn witty all I can do is stand at attention in awed reverence. Rising Hedemon's Fly on the Wall coverage of the Adventures of Rudy and Judi is gobsmackingly delicious. It's like being there, man! I can write no more this morning, after reading such genius, as I feel totally unworthy.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Iraq, the Constitution, and the Trash Can of History

Treaty - An agreement or contract between two or more nations or sovereigns, formally signed by commissioners properly authorized, and solemnly ratified by the several sovereigns or the supreme power of each state. ~

He [the President] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur ~ Article 2, Section 2, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution

We don't anticipate now that these negotiations will lead to the status of a formal treaty which would then bring us to formal negotiations or formal inputs from the Congress. ~ White House adviser Douglas Lute
How Bush intends to bypass Congress on the treaty commitment with Iraq he intends to impose on the United States is a lesson in just how meaningless the Constitution has become.

It doesn't take a law degree to know that a detailed, long-term military and economic commitment between sovereign nations is a treaty. While the Founding Fathers did not anticipate future presidents practicing staggering semantic twists to avoid saying the word "treaty," a duck by any other name is still a duck and this agreement will still be a treaty.

The troops will be made hostage again to force Congress to fund the treaty even while they oppose it. Democratic leaders will be afraid to bring the matter to the Supreme Court because the actively partisan members (Roberts, Alito, Thomas, and Scalia) may well find a fifth vote to invalidate the Constitution in toto. The consequences of that is far worse than the deaths of a few hundred soldiers every year for a couple of decades and the annual loss several billion dollars to graft and corruption. Harry Reid will whine a bit but, in the end, he will role over again like a whipped puppy.

I shall wait in vain for any presidential candidate to say Bush ought to write the agreement in pencil because it will not last a day beyond the '08 election.

Proof I've Watched Too Many Episodes of Mythbusters

My shower drain is running a wee bit slow and I'm thinking that dropping a blasting cap down the drain would be a perfectly good way to clear the clog. Too many Mythbusters? Not possible!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Declaration of Iraqi Colonial Status

In a joint declaration Monday, the government of Iraq declared their nation a permanent possession of the United States of America; the USA agreed to accept ownership of the country. Couched in meaningless diplomatic blather, the declaration has three main components -
  • The United States shall maintain a permanent military occupation whose principal responsibility will be to protect the colonial government of Nouri al-Maliki from any and all coups and independence movements;
  • The United Nations shall be instructed to extend the temporary ownership of Iraq by the United States for one more year,
  • During which time the exact nature of the ownership of Iraq will be crafted by the Bush Administration and imposed upon the Iraqi people.
The economic aspect of the colonial ownership of Iraq is of paramount importance. While the exact wording has yet to be drafted the general direction of the American ownership of Iraq has been known for some time.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Two Stories of Modern Slavery

It sounds kind of nice when it is called Free Trade. It isn't so nice when you look behind the curtain at working conditions little different than slavery that are bringing cheap goods into the United States.

Barefoot Forge
Someone at the New York Times noticed that ConEd manhole covers in New York City are stamped with a "Made in India" label. Why, he wondered, was it cheaper to ship these 100-pound lids halfway around the world than make them in Poughkeepsie and barge them down the Hudson River? That journalistic curiosity led to the exposure of the working conditions of the Shakti Industries foundry which makes manhole covers for ConEd. Barefoot, shirtless men wearing cotton skirts and possessing virtually no safety equipment labor in sweltering conditions for just a few dollars a day. While the photographer saw worker's minimal clothing catch on fire, the the company's director boldly heartlessly claimed that they have never had an accident.

Suffer the Little Children

This comes from my other blog, Where God Went Wrong, and before that from the AFL-CIO news blog. The multi-billion dollar American Christian Retail industry is making a killing on crucifixes. The crosses are made in Chinese sweatshops by children who are earning only nine cents an hour (after mandatory deductions for company provided food and housing). These children, mostly 15 and 16 year-old girls, work 14+ hours a day, seven days a week. Sometimes, to meet the demand of the faithful, these children are forced to work shifts lasting as long as 25 hours. These working conditions violate even the lax Chinese laws. It's a cruel twist on the biblical verse:
Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God. ~ Mark 10:14

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Secrecy: Government's War Against Her Citizens

In a free society, government secrecy should be limited to a few, narrow categories. Military matters such as troop movement and strategies, the exact designs of unique weapons, and the identity and actions of spies should be closely guarded secrets. Even here, a free society has the right to know what is being done in its defense. The public has the right to know if their military is using terror weapons (such as White Phosphorus). The public has the right to know if its spies are engaged in torture, rape, and murder.

In law enforcement, it is obvious that the people involved in criminal conspiracies ought not be made aware of the investigation targeting them. Equally obvious, law enforcement should not broadcast vague suspicions lest they slander innocent people (an act government frequently engages in under the sobriquet "Person of Interest"). The above excepted, there are very few matters that a government should keep secret from her citizens.
The greater the secrecy, the deeper the corruption. ~ Bill Moyers
It is impossible to list all of the things the United States government deems worthy of secrecy, there is not enough bandwidth on Blogger. The reasons for the secrecy is far easier to list as they are limited by human corruption.
  • Power ~ In secrecy is power. It give me power over you if you can't know what I am doing or why. The power can be petty as in airport security. The laws government the Transportation Security Agency are shrouded in secrecy. This secrecy adds nothing to the safety of airline travelers but gives TSA thugs a feeling of omnipotence; no one dare question their acts because no one may know the rules that limit them.
  • Fear ~ Fear comes in many forms. In matters of government secrecy the strongest motivation is fear of embarrassment. Individuals in government, like Maine's Attorney General, fear the public will find out what they have done, not because they have necessarily done anything illegal but merely because they are so insecure they are afraid the public will laugh at them. Fear of jail is another frequent reason for government officials in enforce secrecy.
  • Greed ~ The rampant secrecy in Iraq War contracting is all about hiding the money. No Americans life is risked if the public know the details of Bechtel's contracts. The only risk is to war profiteer's profits.
  • Sloth ~ Many things in government are marked secret just because it is easy. If I ask you about your government program you can take the time to dutifully answer the questions or you can simply declare it all secret and ignore me. For a journalist, hearing the word "secret" allows him to stop investigating and take an early lunch.
Questions are a burden to others; answers are a prison for oneself. ~ The Prisoner
The inspiration for this line of thought was an e-mail I got regarding Sibel Edmonds. Edmonds is a former FBI employee who uncovered a staggering list of illegal acts by the United States government. The government has used secrecy laws to block her testifying before Congress or bring her charges to the public. She has, in general terms, been able to describe the crimes include "illegal weapons sales, money laundering, drug trafficking, nuclear black market" activities by the United States government. That she is telling the truth (as far as she has been able to) can be implied by the extreme efforts the government is going to to block her revelations. Greed has led to fear of imprisonment which has driven the government to levels of secrecy far beyond the need of national security. Indeed, in all likelihood, to the detriment of the nation's security.

Other Sources: Sibel Edmond's website, Daniel Patrick Moynihan's 1998 book Secrecy.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Is Hillary Clinton a Stealth Neo-Conservative?

The thing that struck me most about the Laura Rozen's piece in Mother Jones about the Virginia focus group test marketing war with Iran were the three final questions.
~How would you feel if Hillary bombed Iran?
~How would you feel if George Bush bombed Iran?
~And how would you feel if Israel bombed Iran?
I have had an uncomfortable feeling about Hillary Clinton and the Iraq War. She was too cozy with the Iraq War for too long; whatever opposition she has expressed in recent months has smelled like posturing, telling us what we want to hear not what she thinks. Her positioning on bombing Iran has struck me (and others) as overly nuanced and excessively evasive. I get the sense she is hiding something. My gut believes that Hillary will support bombing Iran as long as she is the one who gets to pull the trigger.

War and Corn Flakes, It's All the Same

The salesman knows nothing of what he is selling save that he is charging a great deal too much for it. ~ Oscar Wilde
To the cynical neo-conservative, war is just a product to be pitched to the American consumer, no different than a laundry detergent or soda brand. First, you hold focus groups to test market snazzy catch-phrases. Then you engage a flashy media blitz (Daily Show clip) to convince the public they just gotta have that mangy puppy. Then, all you gotta do is stand back and watch the bombs fall. Shock and Awe, baby! It worked with Iraq and Ari Fleischer's Freedom's Watch is preparing for a boffo marketing campaign to sell war with Iran.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Where God Went Wrong

more controversial than Oolon Coluphid's trilogy of philosophical blockbusters: Where God Went Wrong, Some More Of God's Greatest Mistakes, and Who Is This God Person Anyway? ~ Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
I have started a new blog - Where God Went Wrong where I shall point out God's major screw-ups (like allowing Pat Robertson to be conceived).
Partly I'm doing this because I am restricted in my political blogging by a desire to only write about things that strike my fancy and then only if I can add something new - if only a quip, a quote, or a poem fragment. I dislike the "Yeah, right on dude, me too!" school of blogging. Sometimes there is nothing I can add to what my betters (PissedonPolitics, DailyKos, Firedoglake, etc.) have written. The other part is to prod the holier-than-thou assholes who actually want to start a world war complete with nuclear holocaust because they think it will hasten the coming of their particular messiah. The exercise has the added incentive of allowing me to study human history because, when you strip away the wizardry in it, religion is a study of the histories of human societies.

While my first several posts will focus on Christianity, that is mostly because I know its hypocrisies more throughly (the result of attending Methodist Sunday School as a child). I shall be taking a swing at all of the major and minor religions. Except Voodooism; being turned into a zombie would suck.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Campaign Contributions=Bribery -
Proof #1844

Bush judges Gene Pratter and Mark Filip have apparently bought their way onto the Federal bench with campaign contributions to George W. Bush. The only thing sadder that the fact that judgeships are for sale by the Bush Administration is that they are selling cheaply, just a few thousand dollars.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Stupid Debate Questions

I am fed up with the presidential "debates." They are not debates by any rational definition of the word. They are a cross between a serial press conference and the quiz show "Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader." Some of the sillier questions have been:
  • What do you dislike most about America? (Yeah, I'm running for president because I hate America.)
  • Grade the Iraq War. (Wars are not high schools exams.)
  • What is your greatest weakness? (Like I'd tell you.)
  • Who would you support [for president] other than you? (Well, there's Abraham Lincoln but I hear he's dead.)
  • How would you, Senator Obama, respond to the criticism that you aren’t black enough, and you, Senator Clinton, to the criticism you aren’t feminine enough? (Obama: Should I start wearing shoe polish on my face? Clinton: I've got the breasts and a vagina, what more do I need?)
  • Did you see a UFO? (No, but I once saw a housefly. house...Get it?)
  • Do you prefer diamonds or pearls? (I like quiet walks in the moonlight a sipping a good Cabernet by the firelight.)
That last outrage came from the audience at last night's CNN Democratic debate. We learn today that the question was planted by CNN. The woman wanted to ask a question about dumping nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain but CNN wanted to wrap the "debate" with a laugh line so they made her embarrass herself with that inane question. We have learned from this that all of the audience questions last night were prescreened and censored by CNN.

These "debates" add nothing to the political discourse. They are crafted to be entertaining and not illuminating. They achieve neither. They are held solely to enhance the marketability of the third-rate talking heads who moderate them. Yes, I'm talking about you Wolf Blitzer and Chris Matthews. They are demeaning to the politicians who participate in them. They are crimes against the American people who are seek to be informed by them and are given only fatuous pablum.

I'd love to see a real presidential debate. A real debate has the candidates alone on the stage discussing the issues in a back and forth. Perhaps there is a referee to insure the rules are followed but, if the debate is between honorable people the referee need never say a word. There are several academic debate formats to choose from.

It will never happen. The self-important children running the various networks would never allow it. The networks only like debates if they can be used to promote their news anchors. The candidates will be afraid of real debates. In a real debate it is impossible to hide behind sloganeering; it is impossible to disguise a slow wit or a dull mind. In a real debate the Johnny-one-note candidates would be quickly revealed. I am left trying to imagine which of the candidate would do best in a real debate and voting accordingly.

My previous views.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Gonzo's Legal Defense

I'm feeling generous today. Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' cronies have established a legal defense trust (pdf of the donation form) to accept bribes and gifts to keep the little weasel out of a federal pen. I feel sorry for poor Gonzo.

I have written a check to the amount of 1 cent to his defense fund. Sure, it is more than he is worth but, hey, it's nearly Christmas. I haven't mailed it yet (1 cent is one thing, but 41 of them for postage is a whole different kettle of Gitmo Stew). Still, it's the thought that counts, right?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Most Heinous Charges Imaginable

Times columnist David Brooks gets kind of huffy over implications that Ronald Reagan was a racist. He calls the accusation "one of the most heinous charges imaginable." I don't know if Reagan was personally racist (although a cursory looks at his films didn't turn up a single black actor as a co-star). It is true, however, that Reagan deliberately marketed himself to the cadre of Southern rednecks who had reluctantly put away their KKK hoods and were mourning the loss of their beloved Jim Crow laws. He used all of the right code words ("states rights" and "welfare queen"); only a fool would misunderstand his meaning. He was saying he shared their racism.

My interest is different. Where does "callously pitching to racists that you share their hatreds" fall on the list of Heinous Charges?
  1. Mass Murderer (Hitler, Stalin, etc.)
  2. Child Rapist (any number of priests)
  3. War Crimes (GWB)
  4. Torturing Humans (GWB)
  5. Being George W. Bush
  6. Slavery
  7. Regular murder
  8. Rape of adults
  9. Child Labor
  10. Racism
  11. Being Ronald Reagan
  12. Torturing Animals (Vick)
  13. Party disloyalty
  14. taxes
Actually, for me, those last two fall way down the list. Of course, for Republicans, they rank 1 and 2.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What's With DiFi?

There is a movement here in California by Democratic Party activists to censor our senator, Dianne Feinstein, for her repeated betrayal of the Party and the Constitution. I been reluctant to write about DiFi for the simple reason I can't figure out why she has become such a Bush toady.

Is She a Sell-Out?
Her husband, Richard C. Blum, is a well known war profiteer. He got well over a billion dollars in military contracts between 2001 and 2005 while his wife was ranking member of the Senate Military Construction Appropriations subcommittee.

Is She Being Extorted?
There are rumors that the Justice Department is sitting on an indictment of Blum and that it will continue to hold the indictment as long as Feinstein is a loyal Bush vote. I can't find a verifiable source, just lots of vague rumors. Vim and Vinegar speculates as well as anyone about this.

Is She Senile?
Feinstein has aged markedly the last few months. She is 74, but she is an old 74. And as we all know, there is little practical difference between Alzheimer's and being a Neo-Con. Her explanations of her support for Judge Leslie Southwick and Michael Mukasey border on the bizarre.

Or, Does She Really Believe This Shit?
Does she see herself as the new Neo-Conservative voice within the Democratic Party, the successor to Joe Lieberman?

I just don't understand her but she seems determined to spend her last term in the Senate spitting in the eyes of her former friends. It is a pity, and a greater pity that innocent people will suffer and die because of her.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Rising Seas Threaten England

'The olde sea wall (he cried) is downe,
The rising tide comes on apace,
And boats adrift in yonder towne
Go sailing uppe the market-place.'
~ Jean Ingelow, The High Tide on the Coast of Lincolnshire
England has always been a nation protected by the sea. It was violent storms on the North Sea that shattered the mighty Spanish Armada. Even the narrow moat that is the English Channel was sufficient barrier to keep Nazi Panzers from invading. That loving embrace is becoming a death grip that the English are helpless to defend against.

Quietly, the English government has decided to abandon large swaths of England to the oceans. According to the British newspaper the Telegraph, the storms that brought the threat of massive flooding to North Sea communities is only the beginning. Within 30 years, they predict, communities in Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Kent, and Somerset will have to be surrendered to the rising sea because it will be too expensive to protect them. The effects of global warming will become all too apparent within my lifetime.
The rising sea will reclaim our ground
Nothing but water will abound
Our people forced to leave for higher ground.
~ Jane Resture, Our People on the Reef, a poem about the south Pacific atolls that will disappear in the coming decades.
Hat tip to Jamess at Daily Kos for leading me to this story.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Do You Want This Guy to Have WMDs?

Consider on this fine Sunday morning the consequences of Rudy Giulianitm getting his hands on the United States arsenal of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

The United States claims to still have 16,000 metric tons of chemical weapons and is dragging its feet in complying with an international treaty to destroy them. They have considerably more if you include duel use chemicals like white phosphorus which the United States is known to have used against civilian targets in the Iraq War. The United States have nearly 10,000 nuclear weapons.

Of all the candidates for president, Rudy Giuliani is the most unstable to have within arms length of the WMD buttons.

Lacks Impulse Control
Whether it is dressing is drag, having affairs, or controlling his anger Rudy has demonstrated an inability to control either his emotions or his urges. Do we really want to give someone who so habitually acts without thinking the power to obliterate entire nations with the flick of his wrist?

No Sense for Good Character
Bernie Kerik, the man Giuliani put up for head of Homeland Security, was Rudy's police commissioner. He is being tried for only some of his many dirty dealings. Rudy has kept an accused pedophile priest, Monsignor Alan Placa, on his campaign staff. His South Carolina campaign chair, Arthur Ravenel, has a long history of racist comments. There is no telling what sort of lowlifes Rudy will have advising him on war strategies.

Petty and Vindictive
The single adjective most often used to describe him is "vindictive." Try Googling "giuliani" and "vindictive" if you like getting overwhelmed with hits. As mayor of New York he constantly was seeking petty vengeance for political slights. His treatment of his second wife can only be described as vicious. Imagine what someone with his "I'll show you bastards" outlook can do if he is struck with a sudden urge to shove a nuke up someone's ass.

This is a word few journalists have the courage to use (see the above paragraph). Cintra Wilson used it in a 2006 Salon article and she hasn't mentioned Rudy's name in print since. Many rank-and-file New Yorkers have noticed Rudy's penchant for taking everything personal as the motive for his renown vengeful streak. He is the kind of guy who would believe a bellyache from some bad dim sum was an act of war by China.

Bat-Shit Insane
The words are from Matthew Yglesias but they are so spot on that conservative writer James Joyner has endorsed them. The genesis of this observation is Giuliani's stated belief that diplomacy is misguided and the only way the United States can live in peace is after the military conquest of all of her enemies. Bat-shit insane isn't a bad thing if it means holding long conversations with the flowers in the Rose Garden. But, add insane to paranoid, vindictive, and no impulse control and we have the makings of a Holocaust.

Silver-lining: Rudy wants to solve global warming. Exploding a couple thousand nukes and the following Nuclear Winter will cool the globe nicely.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

They Are Merely Cannon Fodder

The inspiration - 1 in 4 Homeless are Vets, also this story of a homeless Iraq War vet.
On my left was the cannon fodder going up; on my right was the cannon fodder coming back. ~ WWI ambulance driver

All wars are wars among thieves who are too cowardly to fight and who therefore induce the young manhood of the whole world to do the fighting for them. ~ Emma Goldman
Whenever I see one of those "Support the Troops" magnets on the back of someone's big-ass SUV or Lincoln Town Car I want to grab them by the throat and shout "Hypocrite!" into their fat, puffy faces. No class of American citizens is more sorely neglected than her troops. Taught to kill and die for God and Country, when they cease to be of use in that service they are thrown away with less care than an empty water bottle. That would be littering but no thought is given to littering the nation with the wasted lives of her veterans.
The VA's backlog of disability payments is between 400,000 and 600,000, with delays of up to 177 days to process an initial claim and an average of 657 days to process an appeal. ~, July 24, 2007
That is a half-million disabled soldiers thrown out onto the street to wait for six months for the help they had been promised, if they are lucky. Some have family and friends who can supply support. Too many others are simply discarded like garbage, forced to sleep in bushes and beg for quarters as a reward for serving their country. But, it is a question of fiscal responsibility. Many of these veterans die of exposure, suicide, or drug overdoses before any disability checks are issued, thereby saving the government millions of dollars.
Good enough to toss; food for powder, food for powder; they’ll fill a pit as well as better [men]... ~ William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 1
For the Republicans in power, the lives of these men are meaningless. To call them pawns would be to overestimate their value. A chess player regrets the loss of a pawn. In fairness, the United States of George Bush is not alone in the horrendous treatment of her returning soldiers.

In England, a soldier who lost a leg in the Iraq War is still waiting after three years for disability payments. The government has decided to kick him out of military housing, over Christmas no less. Penniless, thanks to a government that refuses to compensate him for his loss in service to his country, this crippled man and his family will be forced to survive winter as one of England's homeless (Source).
You're going to make a lovely little mother
You're going to make a hunk of cannon fodder
That's what your belly's for. ~ Bertolt Brecht, Abortion is Illegal
To God's White House Warriors, this is all a woman's womb is worth. Breeding fodder for the next war.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Republicans Advance Cheney Impeachment

"Skin me, Brer Fox," sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, "snatch out my eyeballs, t'ar out my yeras by de roots, en cut off my legs," sezee, "but do please, Brer Fox, don't fling me in dat brier-patch." ~ Joel Chandler Harris, Uncle Remus stories
The Democrats in the House protest they don't want to impeach Dick Cheney. The leadership wants no part of the resolution for impeachment introduced by Dennis Kucinich. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer moves to table it but Republicans rescue the resolution. The motion to table is defeated and impeachment is referred to the House Judiciary Committee. Republicans are patting themselves on the back for embarrassing the Democrats by forcing them where they did not want to be.
Brer Fox know dat he bin swop off mighty bad. Brer Rabbit wuz bleedzed fer ter fling back some er his sass, en he holler out: "Bred en bawn in a brier-patch, Brer Fox--bred en bawn in a brier-patch!"
The House Judiciary Committee has subpoena powers. There can be no "Executive Privilege" in an impeachment investigation. Every scrape of paper, every e-mail, every meeting calendar and everyone Cheney spoke with can be subpoenaed and trying to stonewall the investigation is the clear kind of obstruction of justice every American can understand.

Of course, it is possible that Judiciary Chairman John Conyers won't realize the incredible gift the Republicans have given him and the tool he now has to reveal the many abuses of this Administration, including the Vice President. It is possible that Rep. Conyers won't be smart enough to recognize that the Republicans have just out-smarted themselves.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Sin of Personal Diplomacy

The ancient tradition of "the King is the State" is alive in the limited mind of George Bush. Whether he is peering into the soul of nascent Russian dictator Vladimir Putin or invading an entire nation, killing tens of thousands of innocents, because he hates Saddam Hussein, Bush's view of entire countries is limited to his personal opinion of those country's leaders. This horrendous flaw is on display in the tragedy that is Pakistan.

To Bush, Pakistan is not a nation of 160 million people. Bush cannot see a nation where the schools are starved for funding because the military fears that educated people will long for freedom. He does not realize that radicalizing madrasahs have mushrooms because the dictatorship fears doctors and lawyers more than it fears Islamic fundamentalists. Bush does not see a nation driven into chaos by the power lust of a single individual; a chaos made infinitely more dangerous by dozens of nuclear weapons up for grabs. No, when Bush sees Pakistan all he can see is Pervez Musharraf and he likes the guy.
I will be seeing President Musharraf, who I like ...he's a good fellow... ~ George Bush, 2006
The United States response to the chaos in Pakistan has been tepid. While the act of imposing martial law was condemned the Bush Administration quickly undercut that by announcing their support for Musharraf was unchanged. Meanwhile, Bush's rightwing zealots have been aggressively pitching the line that Musharraf's dictatorship is a good thing. (Liberty Street has a excellent compendium)
Musharraf's despotism should not be undermined by democratist pressure ~ Redstate (the single most outrageous sentence on the subject I have seen)
To the leadership of the United States, the population of Pakistan is chattel. As God King, Musharraf can do with them as he wishes. What is tremendously sad is we have seen this before, in Iran. In 1978, the United States continued to support an Iranian dictatorship even after public uprisings began. By the time the revolution was finished Iran was a country that hated America as much as they hated America's good friend, their deposed Shah.

Other References: Iran Revolution, Bush Shielding Musharraf, Questions Not Asked, Bush/Musharraf war on the Rule of Law

Sunday, November 04, 2007

H. L. Mencken's Modern Wisdom

H. L. Mencken (1880-1956) was the sage of the early part of the 20th century. Back then, if you wanted to be a politician in what are now called "Red States" you had to belong to the Ku Klux Klan. Being black, if you were lucky, meant being an Invisible Man. If you were unlucky it meant getting lynched. Moralists were imposing their puritan philosophies on everyone else. Religion was taught in public schools. Book banning was popular. People were being imprisoned for merely possessing a controlled substance (booze). Fascism was on the rise. In other words, it was a time very much like our own and Mencken's words still ring true.

Iraq War
To die for an idea; it is unquestionably noble. But how much nobler it would be if men died for ideas that were true!

Bush and Cheney
~The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office.
~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.
~Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.
~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.
~No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.

~The demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.
~The one permanent emotion of the inferior man is fear - fear of the unknown, the complex, the inexplicable. What he wants above everything else is safety.
~The most costly of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. It is the chief occupation of mankind.
~Most people want security in this world, not liberty.
~Whenever you hear a man speak of his love for his country, it is a sign that he expects to be paid for it.

~Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.
~Say what you will about the Ten Commandments, you must always come back to the pleasant fact that there are only ten of them.
~The chief contribution of Protestantism to human thought is its massive proof that God is a bore.

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Musharraf's Gift to al-Qaeda

Why am I supposed to worry that Iran, some day in the far future, might build a nuclear weapon when Pakistan, with a ready inventory of at least 30 and perhaps as many as 80 nuclear weapons, has fallen into chaos?

The last desperate act of a dictator who feels he is about to be overthrown is to lash out at his own people. Pakistan dictator, Pervez Musharraf, has suspended the constitution (Why do I get the feeling Bush and Cheney masturbate nightly to that phrase?). The Supreme Court justices have been arrested. Scores of opposition leaders and legislators have been rounded up. Soldiers have captured broadcast stations, taking them off the air. The army is patrolling the streets of the cities with the goal of terrorizing the citizenry into acquiesce.

This chaos is manna for Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, it is something they can exploit.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Is BlackWater Running Guns into Iraq?

NBC reports that BlackWater (may have) exported silencers into Iraq. The question is, why?

BlackWater has been buying silencers by the gross (more than 100) according to a former SWR Manufacturing official. This investigation into silencers is part of a larger probe alleging that BlackWater is smuggling guns into Iraq for sale in the Iraqi black market. People with legitimate needs for silencers, such as Special-Ops soldiers, don't need to shop for weapons on the black market. Who, inside Iraq, would want to buy silencers on the black market? The answer is militias and death squads.

Cutting through the crap, the allegation is that BlackWater is smuggling arms for sale to Iraqi insurgents. Given my personal opinion of BlackWater, I believe these allegations. Mercenaries don't have sides, they are just in war for the money. If they can find a way to profit from both sides of a war, they will consider it good business.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

San Diego Fire Video

This link has time-lapse video from the fire lookout station atop Lyons Peak in South San Diego for the week of October 21-28, 2007 when the Harris Fire ravaged the area.

The view looking south is dynamic. The first night you can see the lights of the homes in Dulzura in the valley below with the glow of fire on distant hills. By the second night the lights of Dulzura are dark and the fire is flaring closer and closer. The fire sweeps through Dulzura and burns over Lyons Peak itself. Later on you can see the direction of the smoke change as the Santa Ana winds subside and ocean breezes kick in. Towards the end there is the welcome sight of clouds blowing in.

Equally interesting is the view looking west, toward Jamul. The fire makes its dramatic appearance in frame on day two, the miles long wall of smoke and flame shows the impossible task that faced firefighters. The eastern view (toward Lake Barrett) shows how a brush fire can move through, appear exhausted, and flare up to frightening proportions because of a subtle shift in the wind. The northern view looks towards Alpine and seems peaceful, although at night you can see the glow of the Witch Fire over 30 miles away. The peace is shattered when the fire burns right over the camera's location.

Fascinating stuff.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

American Police State Vol. 2

They threatened us with severe punishments if we talk to each other....Through the walls, I can hear officers yelling, screaming. They ask about the purpose of our trip -- except we are only allowed to give yes-or-no answers. I try to talk about our plans to meet with Finnish-American folk musicians. Nobody listens. They interrupt me constantly and they yell, "You are a liar!" ~ Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Oct. 28, 2007
Those wily Scandinavian terrorists.

Seriously, if any government agency is going to evolve into an American Schutzstaffel it will be DHS. All too many DHS agents had childhood hobbies like tying firecrackers to the tails of cats and and grieved they wouldn't be able to practice their proclivities as adults without getting arrested. At DHS they have x-ray machines that peek through people's clothing and they are allowed to pat down and feel up any woman they choose. And when it comes to recreational terrorism of travelers nobody beats the folk down at DHS.
Is this the face of evil? (photo of Finnish folk singer Jukka Karjalainen when not being threatened at an American airport)

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