Thursday, January 31, 2008

California's Pending Disaster

Earthquakes, fires, rain, snow and now, according to news reports, the greatest disaster ever to befall California will happen in just a few days. As relayed by BradBlog (and before that KNTV in San Jose), Californians are going to have to wait until (gasp!) the next day for the results of the February 5 primary election.

We have suffered so much in this state. How will we survive?

Of course, our courageous county Registrars of Voters have offered a plan to save us from the unnecessary torment. We should just allow them to make up the election returns and not force them to maintain paper ballots and (oh, the horror!!!) actually count the votes.

Weep for us.

Broken Soldiers

Remember a year or so ago and more, before the Surge, when some people were talking about a Broken Army. They were talking then about breakdowns in combat readiness, training schedules, and equipment maintenance. There is something far more breakable than machines and drill practices - human beings.

Suicides and attempted suicides have skyrocketed in the military since the beginning of the Iraq War. Successful suicides have increased by 20%, 'o6 to '07, while attempted suicides by military personnel have increased seven-fold since the beginning of the Iraq War. Depression, domestic abuse, and drug addiction are all the price the humans in our military are paying for being thrown, again and again and again, into the hell of Iraq.

The bureaucratic shorthand (PTSD) fails to express the horrible effect the war has had on the minds and spirits of tens of thousands of servicemembers. Good, decent people, chewed up and spit out by the US war machine, struggle every day to battle the demons implanted in them by this war. The story of this one returned vet in the International Herald Tribune is heartbreaking.

The probable Republican nominee (John McCain) is promising many "other wars" and wants to build new hospitals to hold the scores of thousands of new fractured pawns his recreational conflicts will create. I guess that is supposed to resemble compassion.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Nice Guy In Politics,
Who'da Thunk It?

I was really struck by this story that Bill Richardson tells.
I had just been asked a question -- I don't remember which one -- and Obama was sitting right next to me. Then the moderator went across the room, I think to Chris Dodd, so I thought I was home free for a while. I wasn't going to listen to the next question. I was about to say something to Obama when the moderator turned to me and said, 'So, Gov. Richardson, what do you think of that?' But I wasn't paying any attention! I was about to say, 'Could you repeat the question? I wasn't listening.' But I wasn't about to say I wasn't listening. I looked at Obama. I was just horrified. And Obama whispered, 'Katrina. Katrina.' The question was on Katrina! So I said, 'On Katrina, my policy . . .' Obama could have just thrown me under the bus. So I said, 'Obama, that was good of you to do that.' ~ source
I was so struck by it that I did a massive cut-and-paste; I never do that. How many politicians would have just looked at Richardson, smiled, and left him hanging? That would be the hardball, political thing to do. Helping your opponent - it's just not done!

Some people will claim this is proof that Barack is not cutthroat enough to be president. Some people will say that Obama does not have the "kick 'em all in the balls" attitude that Democrats need. Worst of all, for some, it was altruistic. If Richardson hadn't talked about it no one would have even known; how can Obama hope to win if he does things without demanding credit?

As for me, I like the idea of a president who hasn't sacrificed his humanity on the altar of ambition. I just hope I'm not alone.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

All Er Nuthin'

[Stating the obvious to tell a lousy joke.]
The Republican Florida primary is Winner-Take-All. Meaning that whoever comes in second (it'll be Romney) gets as many delegates (zero) as the guy who comes in last (Rudy, I hope). The Democratic Florida primary has been disavowed. Meaning the winner (she who must not be named) will get as many delegates as me (zero).

The Joke is that Florida has held as many honest and fair elections this decade as Turkmenistan. Whoever gets the most votes will probably lose the vote count.

Monday, January 28, 2008

SOTU Drinking Game

For those determined to watch the State of the Union address (on nine channels, more with high-def cable) the best way is using the SOTU Drinking Game. Or you can slip a gory horror movie in the DVR and get drunk on your own. (WARNING: Whatever you do, don't try to watch Bush sober; it has been known to cause serious brain injury.)

Perspective on the Clinton Campaign

Age has its disadvantages, like aching knees, but I have lived through a half century of the history of colonial wars and racial politics. I have seen before what the Clinton campaign is doing now.

Another Arkansas Governor
In 1957, Gov. Orval Faubus considered himself a progressive and a friend of the nigras. He had, after all, desegregated public buses. But, when a federal court ordered that nine black students be allowed to attend Central High School in Little Rock, Faubus decided it was politically expedient to defy the order and sent the Arkansas National Guard to stop the integration. Pres. Eisenhower trumped Faubus by sending in the 101st Airborne Division to protect the black students. Time magazine article from 1957.

Faubus was named one of the "Ten Men in the World Most Admired by Americans" in a Gallup poll in 1958 and served as governor of Arkansas for another decade.

Wallace and Nixon

Segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever! ~ George Wallace, 1963
George Wallace had a very simple campaign platform in 1968 - nuke Hanoi (sounds like John McCain, eh?) and restore southern segregation. His campaign slogans were "Law and Order" (imprison uppity niggers) and "State's Rights" (the states have the right to do anything they please to oppress blacks and the federal government has no right to interfere).

Richard Nixon's Southern Strategy was to integrate those catch phrases into his stump speeches and add "federalism" (another way to say State's Rights) and "strict constructionist judges" (judges who believe every Supreme Court ruling after Plessy v. Ferguson was wrong). Nixon never defined those phrases. He didn't need to. Southern racists knew exactly what he meant. And, if Northerners didn't understand these code words, well, that's politics.

The Southern Strategy with a Rovian twist is still the staple of Republican politics.

The Clinton Strategy
Like Nixon before her, Clinton has to be subtle. Clinton does what Obama does not, remind everyone repeatedly that Obama is black...Black...BLACK!!! As asides, the Clinton campaign adds that blacks are, of course, drug dealers, shucking and jiving clowns, incompetent, and childlike. After each canard, there is a "didn't mean to say that" not quite apology and a few days later the Clintonites do it all again.

About the only things the Clintons haven't done is call Obama a terrorist and predict doom if he is elected. Oh, wait, they have. They have parroted Rush Limbaugh and called Obama a stealth Muslim extremist, have predicted terrorist attacks if he is elected, and the destruction of the Democratic Party if he heads the ticket.

There is a difference between rough and tumble politics and appeals to racism. Some of these attacks, absent the others, are just hardball politics. Taken as a whole, the Clinton campaign is a throw back to old-style Dixiecrats. Add in the Clintons decision to promote racial hatred between Hispanics and African-Americans as a campaign tactic and we have politics more attune to the 1920's than the 21st century.

As I wrote yesterday, the Clinton strategy has reached a tipping point for me. I cannot vote for Hillary Clinton any more than I could vote for Democrats like Orval Faubus or George Wallace. In this way, I admit, I am quite intolerant.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Clinton's Nixonian Strategy

First, let us debunk the notion that Bill Clinton is some sort of loose cannon in the Hillary Clinton campaign. Bill is a provenly brilliant political strategist. He is Hillary closest political adviser. Everything he says is part of a coordinated strategy. Bill's role is to play Spiro Agnew to Hillary's Nixon; saying all of the bitter, vile things that the candidate herself cannot say without blowback. Make no mistake, Bill is Hillary's servant in this. Every word Bill speaks is approved by Hillary.

The practice is for Bill to say something outrageous and allow it to float in the ether for a day or two. Hillary will then say Bill's words were unauthorized, giving the press a chance to repeat the attack. Finally, Bill will apologize, giving the press another chance to repeat the attack, while adding a snide comment that will reinforce the original attack. Watch for it.

The Southern Strategy
somebody at the Clinton organization will say to the press asking them about it: "Well, what do you do expect? A lot of blacks in that state." Thud. Duhhhh. Giving nothing to Obama, blaming it all on racial identity politics, or crediting it for that. You watch. ~ Rush Limbaugh - Jan. 22, 2008
I hate referencing Rush Limbaugh but he predicted the Clinton campaign's reaction to losing in South Carolina. Predicted it precisely. On election night while Hillary was flying (fleeing) to Tennessee, Bill was comparing Obama's victory to Jessie Jackson. Roland Martin at CNN accurately described Bill's comment as "race baiting."

It is not, technically, a Southern Strategy because its audience is national. The Clintons are trying to paint the multi-ethnic Obama with black face in a direct appeal to racism. They believe a coalition of older white voters and Hispanics can be frightened by the prospect of a "black president" and that will be sufficient for victory. It is a strategy that is not working with younger voters - CNN's SC exit poll shows Obama's vote among whites under 30 equals his statewide totals.

I considered listing the many racist attacks the Clintons have wielded in the past several weeks, but that is what they want. The want them repeated and repeated and repeated. They want their race baiting to become the currency of the campaign and I refuse to do their dirty work for them. (If you insist, the list is being kept here.)

My Personal Reaction
I never supported Hillary Clinton for President. I felt she was too conservative and I have a visceral distaste for a Bush-Clinton dynastic tag team. I also have the traditional Californian dislike for all things New York. I have preferred John Edwards to Obama. Given all that, I would not have sliced my wrists if Hillary were the Democratic nominee. As late as January 2 I wrote, "Still, she has several good ideas and, on the whole, would not totally suck as President." Just three weeks ago, while I would not vote for her in the primary, I would have happily voted for Hillary Clinton in the general election.

No longer. The endemic racism of the Clinton campaign has crossed a line with me. I refuse to sullen my soul by voting for her. Ever. If Clinton wins the Democratic nomination I shall vote third party. Any Democrats on my ballot who endorses Clinton prior to the convention will lose my vote as well. The Clinton campaign sickens me and I must question the integrity of any Democratic politician who is not also sickened.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Three Short Takes

Sleaze Lesson - Hillary Dept.
All the Democratic candidates (except Clinton) sat out the Michigan and Florida primaries because those state lost their delegates due to moving their primaries too early. Hillary ran quiet campaigns in both states, won Michigan and will likely win Florida. Now, Hillary wants to reinstate those delegates - because they are hers. Every day, in every way, Clinton is reminding me of Richard Nixon in 1968.

Poll the Stars
Not Hollywood stars, THE stars. Here on HuffPost, down below the poll results for South Carolina and Florida, are the candidates horoscopes. First, divination by pollsters with margins of errors so large the results are meaningless. Now astrologers. What's next? Casting runes, reading the entrails of goats, maybe a Ouija board. I vote for using Myomancy - divination by rats seems appropriate.

Pentagon Follies
On some future battlefield, the Marines will be flown into battle without munitions. The V-22 Osprey military air transport is controversial because of its tendency to, um, crash. The only reason it exists is because it's developer, duPont Aerospace honcho Anthony duPont, is tight with my congressman, Duncan Hunter.
The only assault vehicle that fits in the Osprey is a flimsy jeep-like thing call the Growler. Mortars and ammo are hauled in a trailer behind this wee toy that flips over whenever the driver tries to steer the Growler. The Growlers cost $127,000 each and any Soapbox Derby entrant could have build a better vehicle.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Leave Me Alone!

I need a break. Hillary Clinton is running for president on a tears and guns platform while Bill Clinton seems to be running for Grand Cyclops. St. John McCain admits he doesn't understand economics while Mitt Romney admits he is "not concerned about the voters." Bombs are going off in the Middle East like a rebirth of the Gallenanists while Bush insists on bypassing Congress on the defense treaty with (official colonization of) Iraq. And today I just don't give a flying fuck about any of it.

I'm taking the day off. Enjoy a little Tina Fey.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Petraeus Parallel

There is a connection between these stories. Petraeus has known from the beginning that the Surge was a Hail Mary. It could change the dynamic inside Iraq but unless systemic chances happened the violent opposition to the US colonial occupation of Iraq and the simmering civil war would reignite. The gains of the Surge are beginning to unravel. Also, Petraeus is an ambitious little prick. Generals who want to be president believe getting command of NATO is a necessary addition to their resume.

Petraeus wants out of Iraq. Now! But just him; the grunts can stay and die. He sees things are unraveling there and he wants some other poor sucker to get the blame. He desperately wants to take an unblemished record into NATO where he can't screw up because NATO commanders don't do anything but practice politics.

A Good Soldier who thinks he is winning would want to finish the job. A Smart Soldier who thinks he is losing wants to bug out to save his ass. Petraeus is in ass-save mode.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Compare and Contrast - Gaza Wall

The story this morning that desperate Palestinians blew a hole in the wall surrounding the Gaza Strip to escape into Egypt led to this compare and contrast.

The wall enclosing the Gaza Strip. (photo source)

The wall enclosing Folsom Prison in California.

The wall enclosing the Warsaw Ghetto built by the Nazis during World War II as part of their Final Solution to exterminate all Jews.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Let's Wait 'Till Next Week on the Stock Market

The US stock market is behaving better than expected today. That is not, necessarily, cause for optimism.

On Friday, October 25, 1929, the New York Stock Exchange opened down hard, the culmination of a long, slow decline in stock prices. The big Wall Street bankers (the House of Morgan, Chase, and City Bank) stepped in late in the day and propped up the market by making a public show of buying blue chips stocks. The weekend was filled with newspaper stories how the wealthy elite had flexed their muscles to support the market. That short-term optimism didn't survive past the opening bell on Monday. The next two days (Black Monday and Tuesday) saw the market lose a quarter of its value; ten times the annual federal budget at the time disappeared in just two days.

The emergency Fed rate cut is a band-aid on a severed artery. It was a panicky move to forestall a market panic and it has worked, just like the Wall Street bankers stopped a crash on October 25, 1929. The question is whether it stopped a market panic or just stalled it for a few hours. Alone, the Fed rate cut doesn't accomplish much. It doesn't solve the mortgage liquidity emergency, it doesn't address oppressive oil prices, it doesn't end the financial drain that is the Iraq War, and it doesn't answer the fact that corporate earnings have collapsed.

The Bush economic stimulus package totals $150 billion, less than Bank of America and Citigroup shareholders have lost in the past three months. It's tiny, a drop in an ocean, but I doubt any short-term federal stimulus will have much effect. What is needed is long-term fixes to the mess created by the Bush years.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Bush Stimulus Package a Thin Gruel [updated]

The first people to analyze and digest the Bush economic stimulus package have gotten sick. Monday's global stock markets sunk faster than the Titanic. For perspective, a 5% drop in the Dow Jones average would be 600 points, were today not a holiday.

United Kingdom (FTSE 100) - down 323 points (5.5%)
Germany (DAX 100) - down 524 points (7.2%)
France (CAC 40) - down 348 points (6.8%)

Japan (Nikkei 225) - down 535 points (3.9%)
~Nikkei 225 down another 714 points (5.4%) on Tuesday
China/Hong Kong (Hang Seng 40) - down 1,383 points (5.5%)
~Hang Seng 40 down another 1914 points (8.0%) on Tuesday
India (NSE 50) - down 496 points (8.7%)
History never repeats itself exactly. The combination of massive federal deficits, the wholesale shift of assets from the middle-class to an extremely wealthy few, the evaporation of billions (perhaps trillions) of dollars with the collapse of mortgage finances, an unproductive war, and and the weight of $100/barrel oil is too much for any stable economy. Batten down, a hard rain is going to fall.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Saturday (and Sunday) Non-Predictions

South Carolina
It is a silly election, open primaries where the Democrats hold their election a week after the Republicans. The polls are meaningless, McCain's fate depends upon how many Democrats and Independents will choose to vote tomorrow rather than wait a week. If Huckabee wins tomorrow, Obama is a shoe-in for the 26th.
McCain pissed on the redneck vote when he denounced the Confederate battle flag. Thompson will beat out Romney for third place.

Polls can't predict caucuses. My gut says the Culinary Workers Union will narrowly carry the state for Obama while the heavy Mormon population (12%) will give Nevada to Romney.

The Packers will easily beat the New York Giants while my beloved San Diego Chargers will get stomped, crushed, and have their bones ground into flour to make pancakes for the New England Patriots.

Let Them Eat Cake - Saudi Division

Dislike $100/barrel oil prices? Imagine what oil will cost if the Saudi royal family is overthrown by revolution.

NPR had a story this morning about the travails of the average Saudi citizen suffering from low income and runaway inflation. The Saudi royal family and a few fortunate friends are the only people in Saudi Arabia benefiting from the high price of oil. While the oil wealth flows into the monarchy, little filters down to the people. In a country awash in fortunes, the common citizen in Saudi Arabia is struggling to afford rice and milk.

Like a certain 18th century French monarchy, King Abdullah doesn't give a rat's ass for his people. The common citizen is like sand beneath the king's feet. Saudi Arabia is a nation where the children go to bed hungry so its princes can buy flying palaces. There are rumbling of discontent in the country on the Internet and in text messages; the quiet rage that can lead to an explosion. It should be remembered that Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Al Qaeda.

What will be the effect on the United States if there is revolution in Saudi Arabia? Just add a zero to the price of oil - $1,000/barrel.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Compare and Contrast - Swords

The Republicization of Billary (Clinton)

It could be the plot of a Julie Andrews-James Garner movie from the 1960's. A romantic comedy about a couple so desperate to regain a presidency they lost find themselves behaving exactly like the people they are supposed to rescue the nation from.
  • The original movie was cute, fun, and anti-war. Billary hated the Vietnam War but these days really loves the idea of war with Iraq/Iran/Pakistan/whoever. It is hard to find a war difference between Billary and John McCain.
  • Billary, in his/her youth, fought for civil rights. These days they are creatively redefining race-baiting in ways that George Wallace would have never imagined and with a purity of hate that even Ron "95% of blacks are criminals" Paul would find distasteful. In another movie homage, Spike Lee's "Do The Right Thing," Billary is promoting racial hatred between Hispanics and Blacks.
  • Billary has junked decades of support for voters rights by advocating vote caging insofar as it applies to Nevada's Culinary Workers Union. While hardly in the same league as caging maestro Karl Rove, the campaign is still young.
  • "If you can't win the vote, win the vote count" has been Diebold's unofficial motto for years as they swung close votes to George Bush. There appears to be meat on the bone of the rumor that Diebold has done the same service for Billary in New Hampshire.
I am loath to go all Huckabee but Billary Clinton is reminding me of a biblical verse. What good will it do electing a Democrat for President if he/she is just a Republican in drag?
What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the world, and lose his own soul? ~ Mark 8:36

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Michigan Predictions

Before the polls close I want to forecast that the Michigan primary is totally meaningless.

Stagflation - the Worst of All Possible Worlds

Unemployment is at 5%, inflation is 6.3%. The infamous Misery Index is 11.3, its highest level since 1984.

The news that 2007 has the worst inflation numbers in 26 years fell off the MSNBC headlines quicker than an overpriced Orange County house falls into foreclosure. It is, in fact, bigger and more dangerous news than anything out of Iraq, Iran, or Israel. Some of us have been saying for years that the George Bush economic philosophy of tax cuts for the rich, massive budget deficits to fund his war toys, and maximum oil profits would eventually destroy the nation. It is. (Note to Hillary and Barack: It's the economy, stupid!)

Stagflation: an economy undergoing brisk inflation while while suffering from weak or negative growth. The inflation eats up savings and investments while the stagnation makes it impossible for even the most nimble entrepreneur to prosper. A few industries and countries make out like bandits (can we say Exxon and Saudi Arabia) while everyone else is struggling to pay for ever increasing staples while the risk of unemployment looms ever nearer.

That date 26 years ago, 1981, was towards the end of the worst longterm economic conditions in the United States since the Great Depression. For 14 years, from 1968 through 1983, the US struggled with a weak economy and rising prices. It started when a Texas President (Lyndon Johnson) racked up record deficits funding an endless war with no concern for the domestic economy. The oil price shock of 1973 strengthened the twin-headed monster. Inflation frequently topped 10% a year while unemployment peaked in 1983 at 9.7%. In 1980 the "Misery Index" (inflation plus unemployment) was over 20%. Mortgage interest rates peaked near 15% (1983) and the Prime Interest Rate broke 20% in 1981.

The end didn't come until 1983 when oil prices fell by half. Inflation broke first, falling to 3.2% in 1983. But, unemployment was still high (9.7%) and didn't fall below 6% until 1988. Mortgage interest rates didn't fall below 9% until 1991.

More graphs than you can shake a stick at:
Oil prices from 1947 to 2007
Inflation from 1946 to 2006
Unemployment from 1946 to 2006
Interest rates through history

Monday, January 14, 2008

Historical Perspective Can Be a Bitch

I have here in my hand a list of 205 people that were known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping the policy of the State Department. ~ Joseph McCarthy, 1950

I've got before me a list of 80 attacks on Hillary that are quite personal by Sen. Obama and his campaign going back six months that I've had pulled. ~ Bill Clinton, 2008
I've got this list I'm keeping hidden but, believe me, it exists and is just horrible and is secret proof that those people over there are evil...evil...evil. ~ Translation of both above comments.

Two California Stories

Property Tax End Run
I live in San Diego, world famous home to disastrous wildfires. Proposition 13 is holy scripture in California. This cap on property taxes is now 30 years old and, despite its flaws, no politician interested in reelection or the survival of his party would dare question it or try to change it. Until now. In a brilliant move, Gov. Schwarzenegger has devised a stealth end run around Prop. 13. Arnold's idea is to impose a "fee" on property insurance to pay for state fire fighting efforts. Increasing property taxes directly requires a 2/3 vote of the people. This fee just needs to pass the legislature.

Government officials for decades have quietly fumed over their inability to hike property taxes. If this fee can be imposed without dissent, it opens the door for attaching additional fees onto the property insurance bill. Insurance companies can be made into tax collectors and Prop. 13 can be quietly put to death.

Trigger-Happy Cop
San Diegans know to be very afraid whenever a policeman pulls his weapon because we know there is no law to protect us from a cop with a gun. In December 2006, a San Diego County sheriff ended an argument with his wife by shooting and killing her (most people would call it murder) in front of their 4 year-old son. San Diego's District Attorney, Bonnie Dumanis, never saw a cop shooting she couldn't justify. The DA called the killing "voluntary manslaughter" and she agrees with the defense attorney that the cop should get the lightest possible sentence. The available range is 6 to 21 years in prison.

The problem is the judge has a reputation as an honest man and DA Dumanis is terrified the judge will impose an appropriate sentence. So the DA and the defense attorney have filed a joint motion to remove the judge from the case so a properly obsequious judge can complete this miscarriage of justice.

I've considered compiling listing of many examples of California police shooting unarmed people (like the dozen shots that killed a naked man holding a stick), but I'm afraid if I do I'll get pulled over for speeding some day and end up collecting lead bullets.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Historical Perspective on Real ID

In 1932, Joseph Stalin instituted an "internal passport" system in the Soviet Union to fight the threat of "counterrevolutionaries." Based on a hated czarist system abolished by Lenin, this internal identification paper quickly became the basis of state control over every aspect of life in Russia. Police could demand this passport at anytime and there were severe penalties for those who didn't carry it. Travel and employment was impossible without this document. You needed the passport to board a train. You were required to show this ID for even the lowliest kind of job. For a resident of Kiev to travel to Leningrad without an obvious reason would attract the attention of the police.
Photo: Nazi Kennkarte, Citizen Identification document.

In 2003, the Department of Homeland Security hired Yevgeny Primakov and Alexander Karpov as consultants. Both former ranking officials in the Soviet KGB, they were tasked with developing internal security programs for the United States. See also. (This falls under the category of persistent rumor. I can find no hard news source but there are dozens of separate sources, including Primakov himself on a British radio broadcast. There is so much smoke I tend to believe there is fire beneath it.) Primakov is quoted as openly comparing the DHS Real ID system to the old Soviet system.

Uses of Real ID
This internal passport will be a required document to travel by airplane anywhere within the United States (see below), to check into any hotel, and to rent a car. It will be a required document for entry into any government building. This government identity paper will be required for any job, even the most menial. It will be required to be allowed to vote. It will be require to receive medical treatment. It will quickly become the single most important piece of plastic in every American's life. The police will be able to turn someone into an unperson by the simple act of confiscating their Real ID. See also prisonplanet, Charlotte Iserbyt, Real Nightmare, and Privacy Digest.

Add in the "Secure Flight" System

The Transportation Safety Administration has proposed a system where every American traveling by airplane within the United States must first gain federal government permission for travel. Called "Secure Flight" it will require airlines to report all travelers to the TSA and boarding passes can be issued only if the government grants permission.

Candidates and Real ID
Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul are the only Republicans to oppose Real ID. John McCain loves it. All Democrats except Hillary Clinton have expressed strong opposition. Clinton dislikes the cost of the program but has no objection to the purpose. Source.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Iraq War: Quarterly Update

There is no denying that deaths have fallen sharply over the last three months. It appears to be from a combination of factors:
  1. The American military has begun hiring Sunni insurgents, paying them more money to shoot at somebody else than they were earning shooting at Americans.
  2. The Shi'ite militias have been keeping their power dry. Their ongoing ceasefire has been a major factor in the quiet months.
  3. Ethnic cleansing has been mostly accomplished, there are few remaining mixed neighborhoods.
  4. War casualties from the border fighting between Turkey and the Kurds are not being included into any statistics.
This may mark the beginning of Iraqi acceptance of their colonial status. The alleged Iraq government is as dysfunctional as ever, but, as a colonial puppet government, it has never had to be functional. It is telling to me that when John McCain spoke about the United States occupying Iraq for 100, 1000, a million years it didn't cause a ripple of comment from Iraqis. That is colonial obsequence.

If Republicans (including Hillary Clinton) maintain the presidency long enough the colonial status of Iraq will become permanent. Like the Philippines 100 years ago, the Iraqi mothers will get used to their daughters earning better money as whores than their husbands can earn at honest labor, the young men will learn that the best jobs available to them will be working for the US Army, almost all Iraqis will accept the constant petty humiliations of being second class citizens in their own country, those who don't will be imprisoned or killed for their pride, and the American populous will become used to owning Iraq and will consider it our noblesse oblique.

American Military Deaths
4th quarter 2007 .... 98
4th quarter 2006 .... 303
War Total .......... 3,921

Total US deaths for 2007 - 901 (the highest yearly total of the five years of the war).

tag: ,

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Hell Is...

both Bloomberg and Clinton running for president. The ninth level of Hell is if Giuliani regains his lead and we have an all-conservative, all-New York, all-let's just give up because anarchy would be better November 2008 election.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Take Me to Your Lizard

It is too soon to write about New Hampshire - what was real, was there fraud, what does it portent. Too soon. But, the election last night has reminded me all day of Xaxis.

That wholly remarkable book, the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, talks about the planet Xaxis. On that world the people are people and the leaders are lizards. The people hate being ruled by the lizards but, it is a democracy. They've all got the vote, so the people all pretty much assume that the government they've voted in more or less approximates to the government they want. They keep voting for lizards, even though they hate them, because if they didn't the wrong lizard might get elected.

The photo is of that great symbol of democracy, the Greater Earless Lizard.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

There's a Sucker Born Every Minute,
and Most are Republicans

A fool and his money are soon parted. ~ Dutch proverb
So, I'm looking through DailyKos and I come on this diary posting that is begging for money. Of course, I popped over to Redstate and, sure enough, they've got a $22,000 beg plea headlined. is owned by Eagle Publishing. Only a year ago they trumpeted this acquisition would provide "RedState with the resources it needs to continue playing a leading role in the conservative movement" (source). Eagle Publishing is a huge company. Their executives spend more than $22,000 a month on cocktail wieners. Yet the conservative dolts are falling all over themselves to throw money at this wealthy enterprise. Sales of their books may be down (collapsed), but it must reassure Eagle Publishing executives in their cushy offices that the Bushite suckers can always be counted on to do stupid things.

To juice the gifts, the Eagle Publishing moochers are now whining they are "under attack" by lefties.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Handicapping the Presidential Race

I don't want to predict New Hampshire because it is a coin flip in both parties. If Obama wins, so will Romney; if McCain wins, so will Clinton. 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 1 (1 to 1)

Clinton has lost her momentum but hasn't lost her edge. She has the resources and guile to wage a mudslinging extravaganza against Obama. Her latest effort is to praise Obama as the most liberal candidate in the race with the goal of chasing independents to Republican McCain. At the same time Edwards is accusing Obama of selling out to conservatives.

Barack Obama (Sen-IL) - 1.5 to 1 (1 to 1)
Obama has momentum, charisma, enthusiasm, and charm. Clinton has ruthlessness and the Democratic (I almost typed "Republican") establishment. Obama's test will be in the great, unwashed wilderness of California, Florida, and Michigan. I don't like it, but I still have to give Hillary the edge.

John Edwards (former Sen-NC) - 30 to 1 (24 to 1)
His second place finish will just about buy him a taco, if he also has a dollar. He threw everything he has - money, time, and energy - into Iowa. He needed to win. Has only a slender hope that Obama and Clinton will destroy each other.

Mitt Romney (former gov-MA) - 4 to 1 (5 to 1)
Didn't suffer as much as pundits think in Iowa but he needs New Hampshire. A double loss will handicap him severely. Oddly, his wisest move will be to subtly boost Obama to keep independents from voting for McCain.

St. John McCain (Sen-AZ) - 7 to 1 (2 to 1)
All this talk about Jesus from Romney and Huckabee and here is McCain doing the resurrection bit. Beloved by the Washington reporters (and nearly nobody else) many conservatives are seeing St. John as the only viable alternative to the bible-thumper.

Mike Huckabee (gov-AR) - 8 to 1 (5 to 1)
Kinda enforces the whole George Bush is the AntiChrist theory the way the Orthodox Republicans are in a paroxysm of horror at Huckabee's win. Could win South Carolina, Florida, Michigan, and Texas. Add a four-way tie in California and the odds of a brokered convention loom.

Rudy Giulianitm (former mayor of New York) - 10 to 1 (2.5 to 1)
Sixth place in Iowa, behind Ron Paul. Possibly fifth place, again behind Paul, in New Hampshire. Not bothering to engage in the election until Florida. It is hard to win a race if the other horses are rounding the quarter-mile pole and you are still strapping on the saddle.

Fred Thompson (actor-TN) 30 to 1 (30 to 1)
Skipping New Hampshire to concentrate on South Carolina, where he is in fourth place polling 15%. Am I the only one to notice that that Fred is avoiding the snows of Manchester for the warmer climes of Charleston? There is a hammock waiting for Fred that he just can't wait to get back to. It is fun reading Republican bloggers whine that Fred is the only "real conservative" in the race and he is attracting less support than Larry the Cable Guy.

Ron Paul (congressman-TX) - 40 to 1 (20 to 1)
There are two Republican candidates absolutely despised by Orthodox Republicans. Don't be surprised if Paul pulls another 10 percent of the vote in New Hampshire.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Iowa Musings

It is possible, damn well mandatory in punditry circles, to read too much into the results of the Iowa caucuses. No one ever won a presidential nomination in Iowa although some have lost it there (Yeah, I'm talking to you, Phil Gramm.)

I hit the trifecta, the top three in the correct order (Yay, me!). While Clinton took a hit to her "inevitability" message the results don't otherwise change the longterm election dynamics. I suspect that John Edwards invested too much physical energy in Iowa; pulling that all-nighter may have moved him from third to second but he showed signs of exhaustion Thursday night. He needs a good sleep but there are only five days to New Hampshire.

I expect the Clinton camp to spin Obama's win as the Oprah Effect, an aberration caused by Oprah campaigning with him. She'll also blame outsiders, college students, for Obama's win but she will avoid using the word "carpetbaggers" unless she is hopelessly thick. Obama, if he is wise, will not lose focus on Super-duper Tuesday as he shifts over to New Hampshire. The nomination will be won or lost of February 5, not January 8.

I got the predictions all wrong. Have I mentioned recently that I really don't understand Republicans? Fred Thompson and John McCain are trying to spin their third/fourth place results as victories because they prove both are not quite dead yet. Neither result is remarkable. Thompson campaigned heavily, for his lazy self, it is an effort he cannot sustain. McCain's 13 percent is a little better given he avoided the state. Both results are more anti-Huck/Mitt than pro-Fred/John.

The big loser is Rudy Giuliani. His decision to sit out the early votes and focus on Feb. 5 is biting him in the ass big time. The nomination may be won or lost in February but you have to at least suit up for the first quarter. His result (4%) is pathetic; he couldn't even get the anti-other guys votes. (Advice for the future: Even if you are sitting out Iowa, have a stealth field operation in the state. McCain did.) Romney invested so much time and money in Iowa his result is horrible but survivable.

What to say about Huckabee? He is a one-trick pony with little money. The hatred he is attracting from the pro-war/anti-tax Republicans is new; Pat Robertson and Gary Bauer never saw this. Orthodox Republicans have grown used to the evangelicals being good little soldiers; the slightest chance of a faith-based coup in the party is triggering a bitter reaction. The question is, will the religious Republicans loyally return to the fold after Huckabee is crushed like an insect?

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Memories of Sleepless Nights

MSNBC has an article on the blunders that sleepy presidential candidates are apt to make staggering around Iowa. Obama exaggerating the death toll of a tornado (it was 12 dead, not 10,000) and Clinton observing that she had 300 supporters "literally freezing to death" - apparently they all survived. John Edwards pulling an all-nighter. It reminded me of an election past.

In 1989 I was working on a San Diego City Council campaign. They had off-year voting in those days to depress voting and enhance Republican chances. My candidate was also a good friend so I threw myself body and soul into the campaign. We were a grass-roots campaign, bodies making up for a lack of money. During the day I worked with the volunteers, keeping them engaged and interested while walking precincts. On weekends I walked with them. At night, when everybody else went home, I stayed behind doing data entry on our only computer. The volunteers corralled hundreds of supporters during their walks and by dawn I had made sure they were all in the computer. I took one or two breaks a night to visit the nearest Denny's for coffee, maybe a catnap or two, and because the campaign headquarters had a shower I was even able to keep marginally clean.

This lasted for about a week, I think, it seemed like three months. One morning the candidate and her campaign manager took me aside and in the sweetest possible way told me to go home and get some sleep because I was beginning to scare the volunteers. We won.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Not an Endorsement; Simply a Declaration

I don't endorse candidates because that implies I believe someone is foolish enough to change their votes based on my personal preferences. This is more a matter of full disclosure so people can judge how asinine (or sound) my opinions are during this campaign year.

Level 1 - People I Want to be President
Chris Dodd - It means a lot to me that he went to the wall on the FISA bill. It is hard to get a full understanding of Dodd because coverage of his campaign is so thin, but what I have heard I like.
John Edwards - Every political party is filled to the ceiling with people bought and paid for by the rich and powerful. It is past due time for a president willing to look out for the poor and meek.

Level 2 - People Fully Qualified to be President
Barack Obama - Obama strikes me as someone who genuinely believes in using power to help others and not to glorify himself. That is a unique trait that historically has made for great presidents. I worry that he might be more open to waging war than Dodd or Edwards.

Level 3 - People Who, as President, Would be Better than a Stick in the Eye
Hillary Clinton - She is running for herself, not the country. Every decision she makes, even war and peace, will be based totally on whether or not it is good for her. Still, she has several good ideas and, on the whole, would not totally suck as President.
John McCain - Occasionally semi-rational, occasionally a pandering toady. It is impossible to know which trait would dominate were he President. I think, probably, he would occasionally try to do the right thing.

Level 4 - People Who Would be Disasters
Mitt Romney - Romney is what the Republicans always accused Bill Clinton of being. He would be a focus group Decider. There is no political philosophy, no moral principle that isn't for sale within his brain. The only reason to elect Romney is that, after four years, people will look back fondly upon the Bush years.
Fred Thompson - The next best thing to anarchy. Understands little about the issues of our time and cares even less about them. A Thompson presidency would be filled with corruption and blunders.

Level 5 - People Who Scare the Fucking Shit Out of Me
Rudy Giuliani - Make no mistake, Rudy wants the presidency because of a lust for power. He wants to wield that power in ways that will increase his power still more. He will rule from fear and by fear. If you want a historical parallel, Rudy is Joe Stalin in 1922, a dictator wanna-be.
Ron Paul - A flat-out 19th century racist. He has stated that emancipating slaves was wrong because the federal government stole the property of Southern slaveholders.
Mike Huckabee - I don't care what his religion is. What frightens me is that he very much cares what my religion is. Huckabee has openly stated his goal is to "take the country back for Christ." He has a profound disinterest in anything that is not in the Bible. Worse still, he has demonstrated an easy willingness to scrap "Christian morality" in his crusade to Christianize the United States. A Huckabee presidency will divide the nation into three castes. The evangelicals will be the Brahman caste in which all power will be vested. Less radically devotional Christians will fill the Varnas caste. They will be tolerated as long as they don't aspire to the higher ranks of political or economic power. The Untouchables will be the Jews, Muslims, and other non-Christians as well as homosexuals, Hispanics, and Blacks. This "polluted" caste will be lucky even to find jobs.