Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Conscious of a Conservative

In the event you hold the belief that conservatives are a breed of human that should be allowed to mingle in polite society, I offer this argument to the contrary.

IMAO offers an elegantly simple solution to the immigration debate - destroy Mexico. Further, he would compel Mexican immigrants to do the deed, forcing them to "slaughter their former country men [and] raze the villages of their former countries (sic)" to display their loyalty to the United States. Lest you think that this is just one loon with a decidedly demented sense of humor, please note the several comments, all favorable, to his posting. For conservatives, this plan has legs. The photo is what conservatives envision as the fate of Mexico, someday.

Mad Government Hides Mad Cows

Republicans believe in free enterprise, the market place of ideas, providing customers with choices, and freeing businesses to do what they believe is the best way to conduct their business.

Hogwash! Nothing could be further from the truth. Republicans believe in state socialism for large corporations. Consider the case of the small beef producer Creekstone Farms. They had wanted to test all of their animals for Mad Cow Disease to insure they only sell the highest quality product. The large beef producers are afraid that if Creekstone tests all of their animals it will give them a competitive advantage. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, supporting big business against small business and fighting to keep customers ignorant, has gone to court to prevent Creekstone Farms from testing their animals. (for more on the organic foods movement, see here)

This is an impressive crowd. The 'haves' and 'the have-mores.' Some people call you the 'elite.' I call you my base. ~ George Bush at a black-tie fundraiser in 2000

This is not an isolated example. The push by Republicans to aide Walmart in driving small businesses into bankrupcy is well know. Walmart is one of a several huge corporations (Halliburton is another) that have incestuous relationships with the Republican government. There is a word that describes the economic structure of the United States today. It is not "capitalism," the word is Oligopolism, an economy that is driven by a few, extremely large businesses.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Zoellick Picked for World Bank

I can't say I didn't predict this because, hell, I did predict this. One of the early advocate of "regime change" in Iraq, Robert Zoellick is a philosophical clone of Paul Wolfowitz. He believes in United States unilateralism and that the world is divided into two camps - those who acquiesce to the United States on all matters, and evil-doers. He has been a strong advocate of "free trade" but only insofar as United States businesses gain advantage from it.

As president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick will see and use the World Bank as an extention of United States foreign policy. He will be good for Darfur (which has been his cause for a while), and will probably use the World Bank to pound third-world countries into servile obedience to the United States. He will be better than Wolfowitz, but that is not praise. It is like saying that lung cancer is better than cancer of the liver.

Some days, I can't help feeling like Marvin

Last month saw 117 coalition solders die in the War Without End in Iraq. That was the most deaths since January, 2005. This month, we have 121 deaths (116 of them Americans) with two more days yet to go in this month. More Americans have died this month in Iraq than any time since November, 2004. It is not just endless, it is endlessly getting worse.
The first ten million years were the worst, and the second ten million years, they were the worst too. ~ Marvin the Paranoid Android from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Monica Goodling's Shirley Temple Defense
(or, was it her Hannibal Lecter defense)

It was so well played that I have to admit I missed this until it was pointed out by Dahlia Lithwick and Emily Bazelon
  • Glibness and superficial charm
  • Manipulative and Conning ~ They never recognize the rights of others and see their self-serving behaviors as permissible.
  • Grandiose Sense of Self
  • Pathological Lying ~ Has no problem lying coolly and easily and it is almost impossible for them to be truthful on a consistent basis.
  • Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt
  • Callousness/Lack of Empathy
  • Poor Behavioral Controls/Impulsive Nature ~ Believe they are all-powerful, all-knowing, entitled to every wish, no sense of personal boundaries, no concern for their impact on others.
  • Irresponsibility/Unreliability ~ Not concerned about wrecking others' lives and dreams. Oblivious or indifferent to the devastation they cause. Does not accept blame themselves, but blames others, even for acts they obviously committed.
  • Criminal or Entrepreneurial Versatility ~ Changes their image as needed to avoid prosecution.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Simple Rules for Surviving this Old World

Survival is one of the principal motivating factors in life, generally ranking with eating, sex, and playing video games (not necessarily in that order). In order that people may survive more easily (and, hence, overpopulate the planet and necessitate a thermonuclear war) I have drawn up a series of easy-to-follow rules for survival.

1. Never unnecessarily piss off a lawyer, writer, or billionaire
Lawyers can always be counted on to find some obscure legal text with which to torment you.
Did you know that in Illinois, it is illegal for a woman to address an unmarried man as "mister." Women must use the word "master." Source
A writer can always weave you into his next novel with some disgusting or insulting trait and you can’t do anything about it. See the "small penis" rule.

Billionaires don't need to be subtle. They can simply crush you like the insect you are.
"You have undertaken to cheat me. I won't sue you, for the law is too slow. I will ruin you." ~ Cornelius Vanderbilt in a letter to a former business associate in 1853
2. While you're at it, don't piss off gansters, either
Just common sense, really, to stay on the good side of people who make a habit of killing for fun and profit. There is a story (hopefully apocryphal) about a waiter who took the drink away from a Russian Mafioso too soon. The mobster punished the waiter by forcing him to drink 27 liters (7 gallons) of Coca-Cola.

3. Beware of baldness
When Britney Spears shaved her head most people were bemused at the wacky celebrity. The proper reaction should have been bone-chilling fear. Three stories: In 2006 a Bald Elvis act in Wales received death threats from outraged Elvis fans. The ancient Greek playwright, Aeschylus, was killed when an eagle dropped a tortise on him, believing his bald head was a stone. In Missouri after the American Civil War, the Bald Knobbers was such a frightful terror group even the KKK was afraid of them.

4. Don't deliver pizza
There are other jobs. I hear homelessness is a growing profession. Pizza delivery is not just generically dangerous, things can get really weird out there. In 2003 in Pennsylvania, three guys tied a bomb arould the neck of a pizza deliveryman and told him to rob a bank for them. The deliveryman failed as a bank robber and the bomb blew up. There is a story I can't (and don't want to) confirm that devil worshippers in Buenos Aries ate their pizza deliveryman down to the bone because he was late with his delivery and they had gotten really hungry.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Who Fired the Attorneys?

Whenever I hear another Justice Department official testify he/she was barely involved and that "someone else was responsible" for firing those eight federal district attorneys, I see this Thomas Nast cartoon. "Who did it? 'Twas the other guy."

Yeah, right. And pigs fly.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Playing With the Budget Deficit

There is an interesting website, the National Budget Simulation, that allows people to play with setting priorities for the gigantic United States government budget. Want to try to balance the budget on the backs of the poor or give the wealthiest one percent of the country the tax breaks they deserve? You can test how your social goals would budget out here using the 2006 budget numbers, starting with a budget of $3.748 trillion and a deficit of $401 billion.

Military Spending
I would cut $208 billion (37%) from the nation's military spending, including completely eliminating funding for the Iraq War. "What," you say, "how can you leave us naked before our enemies?" That will still leave the United States spending $350 billion on our military. That is more than five times what the second place country, China ($63 billion), spends. We would still be spending as much as China, Russia, the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Germany, India, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea are spending combined. That should be more than enough.

Military Retirement
Increases in medical care and veterans education will increase this line by $4 billion (3%).

International Affairs
Did you know that the United States spends more money supplying weapons to other countries than Spain spends on their entire military? Eliminate that deadly waste and increase spending on humanitarian efforts by $3 billion and we can cut this line item by $7 billion (22%).

Science, Energy, National Resources
Doubling the money spend on energy and land conservation, pollution control, and parks will add $22 billion to the budget. Increasing the science budgets by 10% and I would increase all of these budget items by $24 billion (a whopping 43% increase).

The rest of the budget
I would add $2 billion to community development and disaster relief, $6 billion to education, $7 billion to health spending, and $21 billion to aid low-income families. I would increase spending to help the most vulnerable Americans by $15 billion (about 4%). I would also cut $6 billion from the Justice Department since they are spending too much money spying on innocent Americans.

Adjusting Taxes
Eliminating the Bush tax cuts on the top one percent of taxpayers would bring in $117 billion in additional revenue. Increasing the tax cuts going to the bottom sixty percent of taxpayers would only cost $4.6 billion. Corporate tax breaks cost the country over $60 billion annually.

Looking at the totals
Between decreases in spending in the art of war and increases in spending on the environment and the less fortunate, I would cut spending by $157 billion. Reducing the tax cuts given to the richest Americans and the tax breaks given to mighty corporations, would increase revenue by an additional $170 billion. All totaled, I would reduce the budget deficit from $401 billion to just $75 billion. And that is me being extremely moderate.

The radical me would have no problem cutting the United States military budget in half and balancing the rest of the budget on the backs of the extremely wealthy.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What the Rest of the Hemisphere Thinks of America

Oh that God the gift to give us, to see ourselves as others see us. ~ Robert Burns
I am an unbelieving member of a society that believes God has given the United States the holy mission of molding the rest of the world in our image. It is a society that doesn't even have the common decency to ask first before imposing our will upon our neighbors. 'Please,' 'thank you,' and 'I'm sorry for screwing up you country' are words that don't exist in our diplomatic lexicon. Most Americans don't even bother reading other country's newspapers before deciding that America knows best. Thanks to Watching America, let's take a look at what the rest of the Western Hemisphere thinks of the Great United States.

The Intolerable Wolfowitz
La Nacion, in Chile, points out that Paul Wolfowitz did not just bring his neo-con insensibilities to his job at the World Bank. He brought an entire staff of like-thinking sycophants. "He contaminated the World Bank with his favoritism and the imposition of politics that were used to eliminate his adversaries."

Brazil's O Globo observes Wolfowitz's arrogant disregard for the knowledge and experience of anyone beyond his small circle of confidants. "Wolfowitz (and Bush) are stubborn, dogmatic and stupid. These are very bad qualities for those who wish to transform the world and international relations in their own image."

Angering Ecuador
John Negroponte's failed visit to Ecuador was the topic of an article in El Comercio. Negroponte is not a welcome figure in much of Latin America because of his ties to right-wing death squads in Honduras during the Reagan Administration. The visit was also tainted by a recent dispute over the United States' lack of respect for Ecuadorian sovereignty. "[Ecuador President Rafael] Correa, who said this weekend that the Ecuadorian Navy was not part of the navy of the United States."

American Terrorists
Mexico's La Jornada sees the attack on Latino marchers by Los Angeles police on May 1 as part of a systemic growth of violence against Mexican immigrants. "The growing wave of xenophobia and racism against Latinos in the United States is not a series of isolated incidents: it is nourished by Washington's deliberate policy of criminalizing immigrants."

Bush: initiated one war, lost three

Argentina's Argen Press and the Edmonton Sun in Canada both state what is obvious to everyone else in the rest of the world, the United States is lost in Iraq and, because of that war, has lost much more. Argen Press compares George Bush to other American presidents and comes to the same conclusion as did Jimmy Carter, "The nation, once indulgent of his [Bush's] lies - lethal lies for over 3,000 of its own sons and daughters - no longer believes him. No U.S. President has ever harmed his country as much."

As for Canada, their opinion of the Iraq War is stunningly simple, "the 'mission' whatever it may once have been, will never be 'accomplished.'"

Monday, May 21, 2007

A Blood-Curdling Document

The National Continuity Policy directive is a load of bureaucratic gobbledygook, unintelligible on a quick read but when studied closely it is mostly meaningless twaddle. That is because the meat of the directive is top secret.

The purpose of the policy is to define the nature and scope and triggers of martial law where the President takes direct control of all aspects of government and private life. This being a democracy and all, one would expect that, above all else, such a document would be extremely public. However, among the few meaningful clauses in the document are the last two:

(23) Annex A and the classified Continuity Annexes, attached hereto, are hereby incorporated into and made a part of this directive.

(24) Security. This directive and the information contained herein shall be protected from unauthorized disclosure, provided that, except for Annex A, the Annexes attached to this directive are classified and shall be accorded appropriate handling, consistent with applicable Executive Orders.

Of course, not even Annex A is a publicly available document.

So, why is this a problem? Shouldn't the President take charge in the event of a massive attack like, say, in the movie Mars Attacks! when President Jack Nicholson reassured the nation, "I want the people to know that they still have 2 out of 3 branches of the government working for them, and that ain't bad."

That brings us to the other meaningful parts of this document. In Definitions:
(b) "Catastrophic Emergency" means any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions;
The trigger can be limited in location. By this definition, Hurricane Katrina would have qualified, certainly there was mass damage. The 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City qualifies as it disrupted government functions in that location. The triggering event can be anything. Even a nationwide Teamster's strike could be said to severely disrupt the economy. The impeachment of the President could be defined as an incident that disrupts government functions. Hence, Bush could use his own impeachment as a trigger to declare martial law.

The definition of a Catastrophic Emergency is so vague that, while it is not quite carte blanche (more like carte beige), virtually any significant event anywhere in the country could be used as an excuse for the President to grant himself dictatorial powers. And it is not just dictatorial power over government, the policy's stated purposed also includes control over "private sector organizations."

Then there is this clause:
(e) "Enduring Constitutional Government," or "ECG," means a cooperative effort among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Federal Government, coordinated by the President
Under this policy, the President will declare himself first among equals, empowered to "coordinate" the actions of the legislative and judicial branches. They will still exist, but they will be subordinate to the President.

The real devil is in the details, so why are the details kept top secret? The only reason is to prevent the American people from knowing just exactly how our 200 year-old democracy will be terminated.

Other sites discussing this:
Daily Kos
Crooks and Liars
The Progressive
Democratic Underground
Postman Patel

Saturday, May 19, 2007

After Wolfowitz, Who?

George Bush has made it his habit and practice to nominate clowns and imbeciles whenever he has the opportunity. Not going too deeply in the the reasons for this (when you are fatuous moron, imbeciles stike you as highly intelligent), let's look where the names being floated to replace Wolfowitz as head of the World Bank rank on the Competence Scale. (0=Paul Wolfowitz; 100=James Wolfensohn, his esteemed two-term predecessor)

Robert Kimmitt ~ 5
Most frequently mentioned in the speculation game. A party hack who has bounced around the Treasury and State departments when Republicans were in power, and bounced around the private sector as a powerless figurehead when Democrats were in power. He spent three years in middle management at Lehman Brothers so he probably knows some financial jargon, and he was on a World Bank Panel of Arbitrators so he may remember where the offices are.

Robert Zoellick ~ 15
Marginally qualified. He was the United States Trade Rep for several years and was hired by Goldman Sachs to head their International Advisors department. Zoellick is also a neo-conservative and philosophical clone of Wolfowitz. He would bring the same idological baggage as Wolfowitz with a modicum of actual financial experience.

Henry Paulson ~ 80
Over 30 years at Goldman Sachs, his last five as their CEO. Previously a member of the International Monetary Fund's Board of Directors. Currently is the Treasury Secretary. Paulson has actually run an investment firm the size of the World Bank. Paulson head the selection process to replace Wolfowitz. He would make an excellent choice, which is why I doubt he will be picked.

Stanley Fischer ~ 75
Formerly a Vice-Chairman at Citigroup, a Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund and the Chief Economist at the World Bank. Currently Governor of the Bank of Israel. Another excellent choice.

Paul Volcker ~ 60
Highly qualified. Besides being a former President of the Federal Reserve he was chairman of Wolfensohn & Co., the investment firm of the esteemed former World Bank president. His only negative is that Volcker is now 79 years-old.

Bill Frist ~ 0
Richard Lugar ~ 0
Jim Leach ~ 0
Three politicans, two of them unemployed politicans. None of them has a single qualification to run an international investment bank.

My guess - if Bush has his way he will appoint Zoellick, if Paulson has his way the appointment will go to Fischer. If Bush wants to send a great big "Fuck You" to the World Bank, he will choose Bill Frist.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Pity Poor San Diego

San Diego, my little corner of the universe, has never been a hotbed of honest government. In 2005 we had one mayor resign because of a pension fund scandal and, three months later, his replacement was found guilty of taking bribes.

Election Plague
This time around, we look to be trying to corner the market on election fraud. San Diego recently hired Michael Vu, famed in Ohio for screwing up Cleveland's elections. They topped that by adding Deborah Seiler, a former Diebold sales rep. The experience of her time in Solano County, where she worked for three years, seems to prove that "once a Diebold sales rep, always a Diebold sales rep." Both these people will work for acting Registrar of Voters Mischelle Townsend, who made a scandal out of Riverside County elections. With this triumvirate supervising San Diego elections one thing is certain, voting will be a waste of time. These three will decide who will win weeks before the vote and then rig the numbers to fit.

Death for Hire
There won't be anyone protesting the elections if local planners have their way. Blackwater USA, the famed mercenary army, wants to build a military base in San Diego's backcountry. Blackwater is getting an accelerated environmental review and a general fast track from the Potrero Planning Group. It is true that every member of the Planning Group is facing a recall over this but, they don't need to worry. The people who will be counting the votes on any recall election are the trio in the previous paragraph. "Forgone conclusion," anyone? The only question is whether the trio will rig the count gratis or for future considerations.
San Diego's elections promise to be the least honest, least disputed elections in the history of the Western Hemisphere. Once those black-shirted mercs start marching around, who will have the courage to disagree with election results?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

It's Somebody Else's Fault

Blaming someone, anyone, else has become such a frequent retort from Republicans I have begun to wonder whether having a ready supply of scapegoats is a prerequisite for membership in the party. One thing is certain, being a Republican means never having to take responsibility.

The "Clinton did it, too" defense has been used to justify everything from war to corruption to the political purge of federal attorneys. It doesn't matter that Clinton never did half of the things Republicans give him credit for. "Clinton did it, too" is such a common refrain I suspect Karl Rove has the words tattooed on his butt so White House personnel will see it during their daily devotionals.

It seems Alberto Gonzales has been asleep during his tenure at the Justice Department and all the mistakes are the fault of his aides. Daddy Bush blames bloggers for his incompetent son. I had thought that blaming the troops who are fighting and dying in an impossible situation for the failures in Iraq was the sickest depths Republicans could sink to. I was wrong.

Yesterday, Paul Wolfowitz reached new depths blamed his girlfriend for all his troubles at the World Bank. Apparently, according to Paul, Shaha Riza is such a shrew she terrified the World Bank ethics committee and only a $50,000 raise could calm her outrage at being forced to behave ethically. I would have loved listening to the conversation those two lovers had last night.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Postage Rates Rise

And, I mean really, who cares? Who cares about the daily home delivery of scraps of paper anymore? If I want to send a personal note to a friend I don't write a letter, I write e-mail. It is faster, cheaper, and more reliable. My mail mostly consists of:
  • catalogs from businesses I have never heard of, let alone would I ever buy from them,
  • solicitations to donate money to charities I didn't even knew existed,
  • solicitations to donate money to charities I gave to once in the distant past and now just won't leave me alone,
  • bills from a handful of old-fashioned organizations that have never heard of electronic fund transfers.
I remember from my days working with nonprofits that mail solicitations are mostly a wasted effort. The return rates is about 2% - meaning between the cost of postage, printing and processing those fancy 4-color flyers, and handling the whole mess, the sucker who responds needs to donate at least $20 just to pay for the other 49 people who threw the junk away.

Selected postage rates ~ look here for the full list of rate changes
  • Prior to 1958 ~ fluxuates between 2 and 3 cents
  • 1958 ~ 4 cents (the penny postcard now costs 3 cents)
  • 1963 ~ 5 cents
  • 1968 ~ 6 cents
  • 1971 ~ 8 cents (the first 2 cent rate jump)
  • 1975 ~ 13 cents (a 62% increase in 4 years)
  • 1978 ~ 15 cents (the penny postcard now costs a dime)
  • 1991 ~ 29 cents
  • 2006 ~ 39 cents
  • 2007 ~ 41 cents (postcards now cost 26 pennies)
Although, it could be worse. In Germany in 1921 postage cost 0.60 marks. By November 1923 it cost 80 billion marks to send a letter. This is a 5 billion mark postage stamp.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Five Dead, Three Missing

An entire squad of American soldiers was attacked south of Baghdad, leaving five dead and three missing. Although there is a massive search for the missing soldiers, they are almost certainly dead as well. This is something I have expected ever since I learned that the tactic of the Surge was to embed squad teams (9 or 10 soldiers) with larger Iraqi forces and using squads as "street corner cops" in deadly regions of Iraq. These units are too small to defend themselves if they are attacked or if their Iraqi allies decide to turn upon them.

The small size of the attacked unit (seven soldiers plus an Iraqi interpreter) is interesting. Either this unit had already suffered casualities and had been sent out undersized, or the Army is spread so thin they are breaking up squads into even smaller units for these assignments. Either way, this type of attack was inevitable. More such attacks are certain as long as this Surge tactic continues.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Fire in the Sky

Twenty-six miles across the sea
Santa Catalina is a-waitin' for me
~ the Four Preps (1958)
Santa Catalina Island is burning down. Catalina is the biggest of the Channel Islands one stride (in seven league boots) offshore from Los Angeles. Home to the Gabrielino tribe before the Spanish conquest of California and refuge for smugglers afterwards. In the years before World War II, Catalina was a retreat for the Hollywood elite; movie classics like Captain Blood and Mutiny on the Bounty were filmed there. For thirty years, excluding the war, until 1951, the Chicago Cubs held spring training on the island.

The vast majority of the island was donated by its owner, the Wrigley Family (of gum fame), to the Catalina Island Conservancy. Catalina is home to rare and endangered animals like the Santa Catalina Island Fox and bald eagles. The Island Fox has been on the verge of extinction for over a decade.

Santa Catalina, like all of Southern California, has been in a bitter drought, only two inches of rain has fallen on the island all winter. I could try to make some political statement out of this, Global Warming or some such, but I can't. I can only mourn the loss of a rare and wonderful place.

The Marines at Camp Pendleton have been using their hovercraft transport ships to ferry firefighters and their equipment across the channel. Another reason why I don't hate our military, I only hate the insane uses some politicans waste them on.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Between Heaven and Hell

To Christian fundamentalists I am doomed to enternal damnation for holding such hertical beliefs as - Peace on Earth and good will towards all men; that a person is judged by the quality of his life not the quantity of his prayers; that there are few people less likely to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ that Christian fundamentalists. Witness the following perversion of the Sermon on the Mount.
what about the Bible verse that tells us to “turn the other cheek?” Based on this scripture, surely a Christian should be a pacifist and not take up arms against those that would harm him, right? Wrong! .... Jesus was teaching us to turn the other cheek in response to a slap in the face. .... So what do we learn from this? That if we don’t need to apply this teaching to any one situation outside of Jesus’ specific intent, then we don’t need to apply it to any situation outside of His intent. ~ God and the M60 Machine Gun by Johnathan Marshall
If Heaven is populated by the likes of John Marshall, Pat Robertson, and Eric Rudolph while Hell is home to non-Christians like Mohandas Ghandi and Lao Tzu, then I would much prefer the company in Hell.
~ Go to heaven for climate, and hell for society.
~ We may not doubt that society in heaven consists mainly of undesirable persons.
~ Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.
All quotes from Mark Twain (another person I'd rather share eternity with instead of Jerry Falwell)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Terrorism, American-Style

Socrates' Academy is one of the few right-wing bloggers I read because, while he is often wildly wrong, he is at least an independent thinker and doesn't simply parrot Karl Rove propaganda. Independent, creative thinking is a rare thing on the right side of the political spectrum and it should be encouraged. Within limits. Writing about the six delusional Jihadists who wanted to attack Fort Dix, he concluded:
Any day now, we'll surely hear about some non-Muslim terrorist.
Don't hold your breath. ~ Socrates' Academy - May 9, 2007
Non-Muslim American Terror Groups (partial list)
  • American Coalition of Life Activists ~ Noted for publishing a hit list, complete with home addresses, of abortion providers. They claim they don't do any of the actual killings, they simply rejoice when someone they target is murdered.
  • Animal Liberation Front ~ Called a "leading domestic terrorist threat" by the FBI for mostly non-violent acts of graffiti and property vandalism.
  • Army of God ~ Radical Christians who believe God has granted them the authority to kill abortion providers. Followers have bombed abortion clinics and shot doctors.
  • Aryan Nation ~ White supremacist disciples of Adolf Hitler who urge the violent overthrow of the United States government. Suspected of funding their activities through bank robberies. One follower murdered the family of a Chicago area judge.
  • Christian Identity Movement ~ Believe that Anglo-Saxons are the only true children of God. Their most prominent terror act was the Olympics bombing in Atlanta in 1996. Tied to armed robberies and murder. Preferred targets are Jews, non-whites, and gays.
  • Earth Liberation Front ~ Radical environmental group that is prone to arson.
  • Ku Klux Klan ~ America's oldest, best know terrorist organization.
  • Militia Movement ~ Another right-wing anti-government movement. A favored tactic is exploding IEDs (pipebombs) at government facilities. Another tactic they have used is to form "common law" courts, try people in abstentia, and then threaten to execute punishment as a form of extortion.
This country is chock-a-block with free-lance terrorists, and rather more efficient ones that the sad collection of Muslim terrorist wannabes we have. In the last couple of decades, non-Muslim terrorists have blown up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, shot up several schools (there have been 12 school shooting since George Bush was elected president), threatened scores of federal judges, bombed abortion clinics and killed doctors, sent anthrax to several politicans and journalists, attacked, beaten, and killed an unknown number of Hispanics, African-Americans, Jews, and gays.

Terrorism is as American as apple pie. You guys at Socrates' Academy can breath again.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Heartland Insecurity

Welcome, Kansans, to Homeland Security - New Orleans-style. Like post-Katrina New Olreans, rescue and recovery efforts in tornado plagued Kansas is crippled by National Guard equipment and manpower shortages caused by the Iraq War.

You'd think Bush would want to look after them. After all, Kiowa County, where the town of Greensburg was before the wraith of God wiped it from the face of the Earth, was Bush Country if ever there was one. The voters are 97 percent white and heavily Republican. They believe in keeping the Bible in their public schools and science out - believing an ignorant child is a godly child. They are everything George Bush says he cherishes. Yet they suffer because George Bush ransacked the Kansas National Guard to supply his war. In the final analysis, Bush valued his effort to kill brown-skinned Muslims more than he cared for the good citizens of Kansas.

Kansas, of course, is not a special case. Homeland Security has been compromised across the country because Bush has denuded all of this country's National Guard forces.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Handicapping the Presidential Race - Democrats

I am finding it more difficult figuring out where to place the Democratic candidates in the field. Perhaps it is because they have all gravitated around the same opinion (Get out of Iraq!) and it is hard to identify any space between them. Or, perhaps, I should start paying attention to the debates (gad, no!).

The President Race - Democrats
Same rules as last before, I'll be offering my odds and, for comparison, in red the odds calculated by the Intrade Trading Exchange.

Hillary Clinton (Sen-NY) - 2 to 1 (1 to 1)
Being the most pro-war of the anti-war candidates hasn't gotten her very much so she is undergoing a conversion. She still leads the polls but, like Rudy on the other side, her lead is slowly dropping. She has failed in her effort to freeze out her opponent's fundraising. Obama is even with her in funding, and since Clinton's campaign is top-heavy with paid staff, this puts her at a distinct financial disavantage. For the first time I don't believe Hillary is inevitable. Inevitability was her biggest advantage.

Barack Obama (Sen-IL) - 2 to 1 (2 to 1)
It is a coin flip between them right now. Obama's charisma is holding up nicely and the attempts to dull his shine have been laughable. Certainly the strangest attack has been the charge that Obama is a Manchurian Candidate, secretly a Muslim terrorist trained in an Indonesian madrassah since the age of five to be a Jihadist. Bill Clinton has come up with the curious attack that Obama has the same voting record in the Senate as Hillary. The attacks have included that Obama is too young, too pretty, still wet behind the ears, too white, too black, and he has a lousy middle name. He has come through it all smelling like a rose. I am certain that will be the next attack - Obama smells too sweet to be President.

John Edwards (former Sen-NC) - 10 to 1 (11 to 1)
Holding on to the number three position, Edwards job is to keep close and wait for an Obama-Clinton slugfest to destroy both campaigns. He had a bit of a burp with the $400 haircut but the good fortune that it happened so early no one will remember it.

Al Gore (former should have been president-TN) - 15 to 1 (9 to 1)
The "Fred Thompson" of the Democratic debate - Gore was the "Man Who Wasn't There." The difference is that Republicans have a whole lot of longing for anyone other than their current candidates, Democrats are more satisfied with their field. Gore has done nothing that says he is considering running. If he did, I would support him.

Bill Richardson (Gov-NM) - 30 to 1 (40 to 1)
Richardson has broken out of the pack to lead the also-rans. That's not saying much but I tag him as the leading Vice-Presidential candidate.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Handicapping the Presidential Race - Republicans

Following the first debates of the Presidential season, a season that will encompass three Friedman Units, it is time to update my handicapping. In the immortal words of Tom and Ray Magliozzi, I shall do this "unencumbered by the thought process." I didn't bother watching either of the debates.

Dog and Pony Shows held this early serve limited purposes. They prove that the candidates are not fictional characters but actually exist (hence the absence of Fred Thompson who is a fictional character), they allow those people who have already made up their minds to declare that their candidate won while his main opponents were drooling idiots, and they give people like Chris Matthews an excuse to draw a paycheck.

The President Race - Republicans
As before, I'll be offering my odds and, for comparison, in red the odds calculated by the Intrade Trading Exchange.

Fred Thompson (actor-TN) 5 to 1 (5 to 1)
Several fans are saying that, by not being there, Fred Thompson won the Republican debate. Thompson has a huge advantage that he is not any of the other candidates but I doubt he really wants the gig. Thompson is like the girl with a full leg cast at her high school prom - she doesn't want to dance but she does want to be asked. I think his ego will force him to run while his id will be scared shitless about winning.

Mitt Romney (former gov-MA) - 7 to 1 (5 to 1)
He hasn't been able to break out of the Morman-candidate definition. His fundraising is heavily Morman sourced and people have noticed. He has the most money and he hasn't been able to garner any new support for months. His boat is still floating but it is dead in the water.

Rudy Giulianitm (former mayor of New York) - 10 to 1 (2 to 1)
His lead in the polls is dropping, from the low-40's in March to the mid-30 percent range today. SurveyUSA did a snap poll and declared Giuliani winner of the debate. Most commentators thought he lost it. Why the disconnect? Because debates this early are meaningless noise. However, Mayor Rudy is showing vulnerability he didn't have a couple of months ago. To continue the metaphor, Giuliani's fancy yacht is still in front, but it has sprung a leak.

St. John McCain (Sen-AZ) - 15 to 1 (4 to 1)
He has had his Macaca moment when he sang "Bomb Bomb Iran" recently. He is trying to disarm the moment by incorporating the song "Barbara Ann" into his campaign events. Sort of a "you can't embarrass me, I'm proud I forgot my pants" concept. His fundraising sucks. The McCain campaign is like Johnny Depp in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, standing proudly on the mast of a dingy that has sunk up to its yardarm.

Newt Gingrich (former congressman-GA) - 40 to 1 (35 to 1)
His breakout moment has come and gone without ever happening. Fred Thompson is the new Newt, without the baggage or, frankly, the intelligence.

Mike Huckabee (former gov-AR) - 50 to 1 (40 to 1)
Keeps hanging in there, which surprises me. If stick-to-it-iveness matters more than money and endorsements, he has a chance. It doesn't.

Duncan Hunter (congressman-CA) - 1000 to 1 (1000 to 1)
Duncan intents to turn his congressional seat over to his son, like a hereditary title. Nobody knows anything about Duncan Jr. and nobody will. The plan is to keep him invisible, place the name Duncan Hunter on the ballot, and let inertia take over. I've said that Duncan will continued to be elected in his district long after he was dead. Looks like I'm right.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Vacation Time

The Iraqi parliament sees no urgency in matters of war and peace. There are uninterested in the death and destruction the on-going civil war has brought to Iraq. They don't give a flying fig about their country. Just about their only action this year has been deciding to go on vacation from July to September, perhaps longer.

I understand their thinking, I really do. It gets hot in Baghdad in the summer and the electricity is seldom working. Who wants to spend a summer dodging bullets, sand fleas, car bombs, and assassination attempts when you can take your purloined reconstruction money and laze along the French Riviera for a few months? Besides, it gets lonely being a member of the Iraq parliament; few of their colleagues ever bother showing up. Quorums are rare events in Baghdad.

The American soldiers in country will get no summer vacations. I am certain that the Iraqis who are fighting to drive the American occupiers out of their country will not be taking any vacation days, either. At least the Iraqis have learned one lesson about democracy from the American President, George Bush - that democracy is all about how to idle away those long summer days having fun while the ignorant peons die.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Decapitation Strategy

Cut off the head of the snake and the body dies. ~ Ancient Ninja Saying
The head of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, is dead...or not depending on the lastest reports. Nobody knows for sure and, in fact, it doesn't matter a whit.

United States military strategy is tied to the ninja expression above. They believe if we can only kill this leaders, or that one, the opposition will dissolve and the war won. This has been true from the opening days of the Iraq War and a great many innocent civilians died from this belief. The American military, with its monarchical structure and indoctrination, believes that the generals and commanders are the most important persons in a war. Their strategies, therefore, are always aimed at the opposition leadership.

The problem is, underground guerrilla warfare is a very democratic institution. The "leaders" of the small cells are chosen within the cells themselves. Grand leaders, like al-Masri, are figureheads of no importance in the fighting. So it is that when Saddam was captured the war continued, when Zarqawi was killed the war continued, and al-Masri's death or life is meaningless.

The "snake" analogy is wrong. In Iraq, as in all other underground guerrilla wars of the past century, the proper analog is the Hydra. It was a many-headed creature. Cut off one head and two more will grow to replace it.