Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Nov. 1 - Nov. 20, 2006

Termites and Cockroaches

Loudmouth James Carville is demanding that DNC chairman, Howard Dean resign. (Story here)

What the hell's that all about?

Well, let me tell you what it's all about. It's about a cancer that has attached itself to the Democratic party, of which Carville is simply the most obvious lesion.

Let me explain.

In the early days of the mid-term race that just ended, DNC chairman, Howard Dean and DCCC chairman, Rahm Emanuel butted heads – big time. They argued so loudly one day that their shouts could be heard throughout the DNC offices. Then Emanuel stormed out.

Emuanel, a Clintonite, demanded that Dean spend DNC campaign money on targeted races. Dean refused, arguing that, if the Democratic party was going to become a national party again, as opposed to a niche party, it needed to run hard, honest races in every state of the union.

The incident got a little press during the campaign and then was quickly forgotten, until yesterday when Carville went straight for Dean's throat.

There are two forces being played out here, and they are both despicable.

First let me deal with James Carville.

I only met James once during a meeting in DC back in 2002. The meeting was to strategize on how Dems could capitalize on Republican ties to Enron.

James breezed in late, like a rock star, plunked himself down and launched right into a mouth-foaming diatribe.

“How many times did y'all have to sit through that video clip of Bill Clinton hugging Monica on the rope line?” he demanded, glaring at the assembled munchkins

“The Republicans found that footage and made goddamn sure every TV news outlet had a copy,” Carville continued. “Why hasn't anyone one found footage of George W. Bush hugging Ken Lay? Huh? How come? You gotta know it's out there somewhere. But no one has found it. That's why we keep losing and they keep winning. Republicans are just meaner than we are. They are better at that kind of stuff.”

Then he declared he wasn't "a meeting kinda guy" and left.

I took an immediate dislike to James. He was arrogant, loud, opinionated and rude. Of course, anyone who knows me will tell you that describes me as well. So, what's my problem?

I admit it... I am all those things and more. But, for starters, my wife wasn't "special counselor" to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Let's get right too it folks. I've had it right up to here with the Carville/Matalin routine. If George Burns and Gracie Allen had a set of evil twins, they would have grown up to become James Carville and his wife Mary Matalin.

These two characters have pulled off a hat trick politicians can only dream of -- never being out of “the game.” Whether Dems are in power or Republicans are in power, James and Mary are in power.

I thought O.J. Simpson had the market cornered on chutzpah, but he can't hold a steak knife to Carville and Matalin. James can rail with apparent genuine passion about Republican misdeeds on Meet The Press and then go home and slip between the sheets with Dick Cheney's very own version of Baghdad Bob.

Carville can pound his chest condemning the bloodbath the administration has created in Iraq, and still break bread that evening with the spokeswoman for Iraq's new Butcher of Baghdad, Dick Cheney. (Too strong? I don't think so. Since Cheney convinced Bush attacking and occupying Iraq was a good idea somewhere between 60,000 and 600,000 Iraqis have been killed. Pick your number.. but anywhere within that range qualifies as slaughter.)

James Carville nests with that black widow. (Hell, they even mated and he lived to tell about it.)

I don't know about you, but I have a problem with that. I've been happily married to the same woman for 35 years. We agree on some things and disagree on other things and our marriage has survived them all. However, should Sue come home one day and tell me she'd accepted the job of apologist for a guy who runs secret prisons, advocates torture, lies like rug and ginned up a war on false pretenses that has killed hundreds of thousands civilians... well, I'd have a problem with. Actually several problems.

I'd have a problem eating across a kitchen table from her wondering how she can even have an appetite after watching the evening news from Iraq. I'd wonder what she's teaching our children, particularly about issues of right and wrong, honesty and compassion. I'd wonder what she feels when she looks into our children's eyes and reflects on the thousands of completely innocent children her boss's war has killed in Iraq. And, when she hugged me, I would wonder if she had any thoughts or feelings for the tens of thousands of Iraqi women that can no longer hug their husbands, thanks largely to her boss.

And, of course, all the Viagra on earth would be unable to rekindle the fires of passion for such a handmaiden of massacre and mayhem.

However, Democrat James Carville appears to have no problem with any of that. Which is why I have a problem with him. He is an opportunistic political equivalent of the old-time patent medicine man. He lives, eats and sleeps with the enemy while preaching the opposite -- and gets away with it! (Eat your heart out Reverand Ted. )

And Mary, his wife, is a full and enthusiastic accomplice. They are the Bonnie and Clyde of politics. And their phoney Battling Bickersons, dog and pony show has paid off big. They've become what you'd get if you crossed the Beverly Hillbillies and Ferdinand and Emelda Marcos. If either party had an ounce of self-respect they'd have nothing to do with them.

I said there were two things afoot. That was one. Here's the other.

The reason Carville went after Howard Dean this week was not because Dean failed, but precisely because he succeeded. Rahm Emuanel is a ranking foot soldier in the Vast-no-wing Hillary Clinton Conspiracy. Hillary doesn't like Howard Dean because Howard refuses to drink the Hillary '08 Koolaid. Hillary didn't want Dean to succeed Clinton operative Terry McAuliffe, who took his marching orders straight from Clinton central.

When Emanuel argued with Dean over how the DNC should dole out money during the last campaign, it was not about the campaign. It was about the next campaign -- Hillary '08. It was about buying loyalty and collecting IOU's. But most of all it was about who was going to call the shots in the Democratic party.

When Dean's 50-straight strategy won the House and Senate back for his party that posed a direct threat for the Clintonian forces. When Godmother Hillary sent Rahm (Michael Corleone) Emanuel with marching orders over to the DNC, Dean showed no respect. Instead Dean went his own way. That's why James (Sonny) Carville was dispatched this week to whack Howard Dean.

Don't get me wrong. I liked Bill Clinton. I still do. But don't make the mistake of thinking for one second that Hillary Clinton is just Bill Clinton with breasts. She's not. Not even close. Once Bill was out of power Hillary rounded up the most obedient of Clinton sycophants and hangers on, like Carville, Begala, Emanuel, Lockhart and others. These folks had tasted White House moonshine, and loved it. And now they'd sell their own mothers into white slavery to get it back.

Those, like Carville, who make up the Vast-no-wing Hillary '08 Conspiracy are the Trotskyites of Democratic party. They are like termites. You think they are gone, but they aren't. They are inside the walls of the DNC, chewing, chewing, always chewing. They have been joined by refugees from the once ascendant, but now discredited, Democratic Leadership Conference – who are, of course, just Republicans suffering an identity crisis.

While Carville failed – at least so far -- to unseat Howard Dean, Rahm Emuanel has carved out a strong foothold in the new Democrat-controlled House were early signs are not good. First Democrats tossed John Murtha under the bus because, like Howard Dean, Murtha speaks his mind and refuses to take orders he doesn't agree with. Then the Democrat House leadership heaped disproportionate praise and credit on Emanuel for engineering their November victory.

Beware the Vast no-wing Hillary '08 conspirators. For they are chewing, chewing, always chewing.

November 15, 2006

Okay Dems – time for a history lesson. And there will be a quiz in January when you have to stop talking and start governing. If George the Younger had read what follows a few hundred thousand full term humans would likely still be up and taking nourishment.

George the Younger has called in George the Elder's consigliari and Middle East expert, James Baker, to get him out of the mess he got us into in Iraq.

History repeats itself... often in frightening similarity. Back in 1920, when the British were stuck in the same place, doing the same things and getting the same results, then Secretary of State for Colonies, Winston Churchill, called T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia) in to get Britain untangled from Mesopotamia – later to be renamed, “Iraq.”

So Dems, put on your reading glasses, get out your yellow maker pens and cuddle up with this report. It was written long ago, about a land far far away by Lawrence of Arabia --- a man who had forgotten more about Arab/Muslim culture and politics than any British politician or general thought they knew.

We can only hope that James Baker can speak as much truth to power as Lawrence did 86 years ago.

A Report on Mesopotamia
Ex.-Lieut.-Col. T.E. Lawrence,
The Sunday Times, 22 August 1920

The people of England have been led in Mesopotamia into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honor. They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information. The Baghdad communiques are belated, insincere, incomplete. Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient than the public knows. It is a disgrace to our imperial record, and may soon be too inflamed for any ordinary cure. We are to-day not far from a disaster.

The sins of commission are those of the British civil authorities in Mesopotamia... They availed themselves of the necessary discretion of war-time to carry over their dangerous independence into times of peace. They contest every suggestion of real self- government sent them from home. A recent proclamation about autonomy circulated with unction from Baghdad was drafted and published out there in a hurry, to forestall a more liberal statement in preparation in London, 'Self-determination papers' favorable to England.

The Cabinet cannot disclaim all responsibility. They receive little more news than the public: they should have insisted on more, and better. they have sent draft after draft of reinforcements, without inquiry. When conditions became too bad to endure longer, they decided to send out as High commissioner the original author of the present system, with a conciliatory message to the Arabs that his heart and policy have completely changed.

We said we went to Mesopotamia to defeat Turkey. We said we stayed to deliver the Arabs from the oppression of the Turkish Government, and to make available for the world its resources of corn and oil. We spent nearly a million men and nearly a thousand million of money to these ends. This year we are spending ninety-two thousand men and fifty millions of money on the same objects.

Our government is worse than the old Turkish system. They kept fourteen thousand local conscripts embodied, and killed a yearly average of two hundred Arabs in maintaining peace. We keep ninety thousand men, with aeroplanes, armoured cars, gunboats, and armoured trains. We have killed about ten thousand Arabs in this rising this summer.

We are told the object of the rising was political, we are not told what the local people want. It may be what the Cabinet has promised them. A Minister in the House of Lords said that we must have so many troops because the local people will not enlist. On Friday the Government announce the death of some local soldiers defending their British officers, and say that the services of these men have not yet been sufficiently recognized because they are too few (adding the characteristic Baghdad touch that they are men of bad character). There are seven thousand of them, just half the old Turkish force of occupation. Properly officered and distributed, they would relieve half our army there.

We have not reached the limit of our military commitments. Four weeks ago the staff in Mesopotamia drew up a memorandum asking for four more divisions. I believe it was forwarded to the War Office, which has now sent three brigades from India. If the North-West Frontier cannot be further denuded, where is the balance to come from? Meanwhile, our unfortunate troops, Indian and British, under hard conditions of climate and supply, are policing an immense area, paying dearly every day in lives for the willfully wrong policy of the civil administration in Baghdad. The War Office has made every effort to reduce our forces, but the decisions of the Cabinet have been against them.

The Government in Baghdad have been hanging Arabs in that town for political offenses, which they call rebellion. The Arabs are not at war with us. Are these illegal executions to provoke the Arabs to reprisals on the three hundred British prisoners they hold? And, if so, is it that their punishment may be more severe, or is it to persuade our other troops to fight to the last?

We say we are in Mesopotamia to develop it for the benefit of the world. all experts say that the labour supply is the ruling factor in its development. How far will the killing of ten thousand villagers and townspeople this summer hinder the production of wheat, cotton, and oil? How long will we permit millions of pounds, thousands of Imperial troops, and tens of thousands of Arabs to be sacrificed on behalf of colonial administration which can benefit nobody but its administrators?

More Unheeded Advice from Lawrence:
"The beginning and ending of the secret of handling Arabs is unremitting study of them. Keep always on your guard; never say an unnecessary thing: watch yourself and your companions all the time: hear all that passes, search out what is going on beneath the surface, read their characters, discover their tastes and their weaknesses and keep everything you find out to yourself. Bury yourself in Arab circles, have no interests and no ideas except the work in hand, so that your brain is saturated with one thing only, and you realize your part deeply enough to avoid the little slips that would counteract the painful work of weeks. Your success will be proportioned to the amount of mental effort you devote to it."

T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia) (From his 27 Articles for Dealing with Arabs.. (Full Text)

November 13, 2005

So, What Now?

Here's what I think. On November 7 voters did not vote for a Democrat government. And they did not vote against Republican government, either.

They voted for something that has been missing for too long -- a government.

The current Congress worked only 90 days during this calendar year. Nice job if you can buy it. The salary for a rank-and-file member of the House and Senate is $165,200. That comes to roughly $690 a day, or $86 an hour. (52 weeks x 5 work days, minus 10 days paid vacation, minus holidays = 240 workable days.) (More benefits)

Remember, this is the same congress that maintained without a hint of irony or guilt that raising the current federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour, would "ruin the economy."

On November 7 voters basically said they want to start getting their money's worth out of Congress. They didn't vote for or against parties. In fact partying is precisely what they want congress to stop.. to stop partying and start governing.

Over the past six years there's been plenty to partying and precious little governing. Therefore a lot of governing has pile up. In the real estate business they call it “deferred maintenance. And sooner or later you either get around to it or the house falls down.

So, enough of all this who won and who lost last November. I am sick of it. Stop it and stop it now. It's just a prelude to more partying, and voters are quite partied out.

Here's a list of just some of the deferred maintenance voters want those well-paid public servants to roll up their sleeves and get to before the roof falls in on everyone.

New Congress' Honey-do List

Double the minimum number of days Congress is in session next year to 180 days.

Pass a binding “pay-as-you-go” budget law, that can only be exceeded when Congress formally declares war or a national emergency. That means choosing between cutting spending, raising taxes, or both when new federal expenditures are sought or required.

Raise the federal minimum wage to at least $8.00 an hour and. for christsake, this time index it to inflation.

Establish a truly independent ethics commission comprised of non-partisan scholars and retired judges. This commission would investigate claims of impropriety, make their findings public and recommend when the House and Senate ethic committees should act.

Pass legislation requiring that the Dept. of Health and Human Services negotiate bulk discounts for all drugs, products and services paid for, in whole or part, with federal Medicare and Medicaid funds.

Immediately following the prayer that begins each working sessions of the House and Senate, the next speaker should be required to read aloud into the record the number of American's that day that cannot afford health insurance ... currently 47 million and climbing.

Pass legislation redistributing the Bush tax cuts more fairly, by raising the marginal rate on the top 1% from it's current 35% to 39%. Use half the taxes raised by that increase to cut payroll taxes and use the other half to balance the budget and pay down our exploding national debt. (More)

Apply basic ground rules that mandate any “free trade” treaties always also be fair trade deals. Any countries wanting access to US markets for their goods and services must comply with a set of minimum standards regarding own workers pay, work conditions and safety and environmental protections.

Pass legislation requiring the executive branch submit fully and unconditionally to FISA court review and oversight of all domestic spying operations, if possible before such operations are launched, but if that is not prudent then within 30-days after such an operation is authorized.

Pass legislation that explicitly limits the authority of Presidential signing statements, noting that, while any president should have the right to state his/her reservations about a law being signed, such statements will have no authority under law. In such cases the president must fully enforce any law he/she signs rather than vetoes.

Dust off House and Senate committee oversight manuals and reintroduce members to their second most important job responsibility right behind passing legislation. (For example, just what did Halliburton actually do with hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in Iraq? And what did Dick Cheney and oil company executives decide was the best US energy policies five years ago? Did it work? And for whom did it work? ) There's all that, and so much more that has gone un-explored for too long. Lots of deferred maintenance there to work on.

Pass legislation that provides employers a fast, easy and dependable on-line system to determine the immigration or citizenship status of would-be employees. Once that system is in place increase fines and punishment for employers caught hiring illegal workers -- then, for a change, enforce those laws.

Pass a constitutional amendment banning all private money from presidential and congressional races and replacing it with federal campaign financing. Otherwise corporate and other special interest groups that prosper under the current system of legal bribery will continue doing so, only more so. (More)

Agree to a temporary moratorium on any legislation employing the following divisive words or phrases: flag burning, abortion, prayer in schools, cut-and-run, winning in Iraq, family values and gay-marriage. Only lift this moratorium once congress has addressed real problems like Iraq, health care and fairness in national tax policy.

Finally, there's "the war on terror." While the job of developing and exercising a strategy for national security and defense is largely in the hands of the Executive Branch, Congress pays the bill. And, as the old saying goes, “he who pays the piper calls the tune.” It's time for congress to call a new national security strategy tune. This administration's “war on terror,” has been unfocused and, worse -- counter productive. The proper strategy for countering the spread of aggressive, fundamentalist Islam is the same strategy that won the cold war. In a word – containment.

Only Arab nations themselves can stem Islamic terror. Only those nations can decide whether they want to be members of the modern world or the past. But before they can make that decision they must be faced with that choice and only that choice. Right now countries like Pakistan, Egypt, Syria and Iran have it both ways. They can trade with the West and placate Islamic fundamentalist within by harboring and even funding militant, anti-west Islamic movements.

Under a policy of genuine containment that would change. Arab nations would have to chose between two starkely different realities. If they continue trying to straddle the fence, then they get fenced in. That means no trade, no aid, no travel, no international banking relationships. We already know the power of containment in the region because it worked in Libya With persistence and patience it would work in other Islamic countries as well.

A policy of containment also means no US troops to shoot at, because we are not going to accommodate by sending them within range.

Critics will say that the international community, the UN and Europeans, would not support a truly effective policy of containment. That was true just a couple of years ago. But today every major European nation faces a greater threat from Islamic terror than the US. And, thanks to George W. Bush, the international community knows Uncle Same will (because we cannot) solve this problem for them through force.

Containment – real containment – is the only remaining choice.

That's my list. I have more, lots more, I'd like to see done, as I am certain you do as well. But if they just got all that done next term I would be dance naked in the street.

(PS: To those of you wondering why I did not include impeachment on my wish list, it's simple. The little bastard has only two years left in office. Impeachment would suck all the oxygen out of the air in Washington for that entire period, without any guarantee he'd get removed anyway. And if should he get removed we'd end up with Dick Cheney to fill out his term. Last week a court in Germany moved to indict Don Rumsfeld for war crimes. Good idea. Let's get some real stuff done during the next two years and then, once these guys are out from behind that impenetrable wall of power, do to them what the citizens of Chile have done to General Pinochet -- pursue them to their graves with human rights and war crime charges. )

November 6, 2006

A Final Word

However things turn out on Nov. 7 I'm going to shut up about it – for a week anyway. I figure adding my pipsqueak opinions to the din of, “We're number one,” and “We were cheated,” is the last thing you'll be needing. So don't look for me to return to pontification mode for at least a week after the election dust settles.

At this writing, a day before the deed is to be done, I have no clue whether Republicans will be successful in suckering enough dimwits into voting for them again. What I am sure of though is that Democrats will continue displaying the only talent they seem to share among themselves – an uncanny talent for losing un-losable races – usually at the last moment.

Watching Democrats run in races like this one is like watching an underdog leading in a marathon, only to see them trip over their own shoelaces ten feet from the finish.

With that in mind I am stocking up on disappointment juice and expecting the worst. But even if Democrats do win the House the tension will continue. In that case I will spend the next two years screaming at them to double-tie their goddamn shoe laces, for fear they will create a giant Democrat pile up just before the 2008 Presidential finish line.

The bottom line is that to be a Democrat is to worry. We're like Red Sox fans. We also share a nagging subliminal fear with Jews and African Americans – that no matter how well things might be going right now, it won't last. Trouble – big trouble – is just a lip-slip away. With the presidency up for grabs just 24 months after this election we Democrats will hold our collective breath each time we notice John Kerry eyeballing a network microphone. (Don't John... just don't. Keep it to yourself. Or write an well-thought out, well-edited op-ed piece. But stay away from the friggin microphone!”)

Then there's Hillary Clinton. God only knows how many triangulated incarnations Hillary is capable of in 24 months, but you can bet we'll have to bear witness to them all. Hillary, like Al Gore in his 2000 run, will change like the weather. The only difference will be that Al Gore changed his wardrobe. You remember, one day Al was Wall Street alpha-male in suit and power tie, the next day he was Earth Man, in jeans and open-collar sport shirt. Hillary won't be changing her wardrobe. Hillary will change her positions. Hillary has a little computer between her ears that, when poll results are mixed with a secret algorithm, spits out positions that appear to agree with everyone.

Polls one day before the election show the Democrats peaked about two nanoseconds before John Kerry put his feet in his mouth. It's been down hill ever since. Republicans, on the other hand are rising in those polls. Democrats still have an advantage, but it's narrowing as they approach the finish-- shoe laces flying loose.

So here we are: Republicans, running things singlehandedly for over six years, have made more a mess in the nation and beyond than Katrina made of New Orleans. They may not be able to do anything right, but the they have a gift -- the gift of blarney. Like Davy Crockett, they can sweet talk even scared voters out of their trees, into the voting booth and convince them the other guys are somehow worse.

Why is that? How do they get away with it?

Here's a clue. Democrats like John Kerry remind Red State voters of the smart kid in grammar school who'd raise his hand during tests too announce, “Miss Nelson, Dennis is looking at my answers.” Johnny is told keep his eyes on his own test paper. Later, at recess, Dennis would beat the living crap out of Johnny, to the delight a disturbing number of his classmates.

Would Johnny grow up to be a better, smarter and more honest leader than Dennis? Sure he would. Trouble is Americans seem to like the Dennis' better than the Johnny's. Johnny can be a real bore. He's smart for sure. But smart guys tend to make the increasing numver of under-educated Americans nervous. Smart people refer to “stuff” fewer and fewer American's understand, or even care about, like history. That makes a lot of voters feel they are being “talked down to.” And that makes the uneasy about themselves, which makes them hate Johnny.

If Dennis is anything he's not boring. Dennis is a Dukes of Hazard kinda guy. Damn the facts, it's peddle to the metal. Dennis knows better than to talk down to voters. He talks “with them” rather than “at them.” Dennis talks to them in their own language of fractured logic, a language characterized by a tone of unembarrassed, even smug, ignorance.

Dennis knows better than to confuse voters with nuance. He tells his voters what he knows they already believe ... like that that gays are trying to convince school children that gays are just like everyone else. Dennis wants voters to know he ain't buying it either. He wants voters to know that he knows that most people are not gay, And that he knows what that means... that if God wanted gays to be like everyone else He would made them like everyone else. And since He didn't... well, Dennis just wants them to know, he's with God on that one. No nuance about it.

Dennis knows that a voter base comprised of so many folks who can be meszmerized captivated for hours at a time by automobiles racing in a circle, are not the kind of folks you want to burden with too many facts. You don't want to even think about trying to explain the far-reaching geopolitical implications of America's war in Iraq. Instead Dennis asks them the important questions, like, “Do you love the American flag? Do you think people should be allowed to burn the American flag?” Dennis wants you to know that he thinks NOT! Dennis want voters to know he, like them, believes that allowing flag burning is a slippery slope that, if allowed would result in .... in.... something really bad. And Dennis wants you to know he's fore square again' all things really bad.

The Johnny v. Dennis dynamic explains why the polls are narrowing. Dennis is out there talkin' turkey with the sheep, and graining ground. His kind of voters tend to put off paying attention to such matters until the bill comes due. Only then do they tune in. Karl, another kid who cheated in school, knows that best. Which explains is why Karl has been smiling like a Chesser cat through dismal polls over the past few week. Karl knows his Dennis' are out there de-nuancing issues like Iraq and the economy in the final days of this race and pointing his voters towards the real issues, like gay marriage, flag burning, stem cell research and who is or isn't measuring drapes in Congress.

Dennis already took Johnny out for his beating, and the that got the attention of the knuckle-dragging Republican base. Coooool. That's their kind of politics. Dennis and Johnny, SMACK DOWN! Showed those smart-ass Democrats not to flub a joke and diss our troops. Oooooohaaaa!

Yeah, I know. There are folks in the Democratic Party who believe they must learn how to talk to Dennis voters in moron-speak too. And that progressives need to avoid saying things that make the Dennis voters feel “dumb.” In other words, let's not educate them, let's just herd them, like Dennis does. Valueless Democrat analysts point to the 60 million American's who describe themselves as evangelical Christians, and say Democrats need to convince them that progressives share and respect their nonsensical metaphysical views of reality.

Personally I would rather see America fade into history in a dignified way than to just hand it over to Dennis and his base of lower-common denominators. If that makes me a Johnny-smart-ass, so be it. But, damn it, they have been cheating. And, should they win again, they will continue lying, cheating and beating the crap out of anyone that rats on them.

I'm sorry, but I've already spent six years aboard that ship-of-fools, and I want off. If things don't change Nov. 7 just put me in a lifeboat and set me adrift. How much worse could that be?

I can't be entirely sure that Karl and Dennis' will succeed again. But if they do that will say something too disturbing about Americans for me to explain – or bear.

November 3, 2006

Unexpected Gifts

What's this? Did Christmas come early this year or something? Holy cow, I can't handle this much Karma coming home to roost in one day and not share. So, first enjoy this gift with me:

U.S. Web Archive Is Said to Reveal a Nuclear Primer
New York Times: Last March, the federal government set up a Web site to make public a vast archive of Iraqi documents captured during the war. The Bush administration did so under pressure from Congressional Republicans who had said they hoped to “leverage the Internet” to find new evidence of the prewar dangers posed by Saddam Hussein.....The campaign for the Web site was led by the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan. Last November, he and his Senate counterpart, Pat Roberts of Kansas, wrote to Mr. Negroponte, asking him to post the Iraqi material. The sheer volume of the documents, they argued, had overwhelmed the intelligence community. (Full Story)

With the entire premise for launching the most reprehensible and misguided military adventure in US history -- Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction, in shreds -- desperate congressional neo-cons panicked. With mid-term elections looming in the months ahead they figured turning right-wing conspiracy nuts on the Internet loose on documents seized in Iraq would turn up something they could hang their delusional hats on.

Instead all they accomplished was to hand terrorist nuts on the Internet blue prints for a nuclear bomb. Nicely done gentlemen. Remember that the next time a GOP candidate warns that if you vote Democrat, “the terrorists win.” Seems to me the terrorists are going pretty damn good under GOP rule. Why would they want to change horses now when the one they've got has made Iraq into the University of Terrorism, complete with actual US troops for post-grad live-fire training?

And how more convenient can it be than to have a US government provided distance learning course on the Net that teaches the fundamentals of nuclear bomb design?

Wait, I think I hear a chant from the Terrorist U. student union:

“Four more years. Four more years. Ali Akbar..four more years for Booosh...”

Sweet, huh? Okay. Now for gift number two:

Top evangelist resigns over gay sex claims
The Republican party today was assessing the potential political fallout from a sex scandal that has forced one of America's most influential evangelical Christians to resign...The Rev Ted Haggard, who is married with five children, stepped down yesterday as head of the 30 million-member National Association of Evangelicals and as senior pastor of the New Life church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, after being accused of paying for sex with a male escort. (Full Story)

Anyone who reads this blog regularly will recall one of my favorite quotes. It's from a Faulkner novel and goes like this:

“The louder he spoke of his virtue, the faster we counted our spoons.”

Rev Haggard .. whom his parishioners simply call, “Reverend Ted,” because, after all, he's just a humble family man, serving the Lord. And a married man with children, whose mission on earth became making sure two men, or two women, in love be barred forever from joining in legally binding unions – also known as “marriage.”

Now it seems Rev. Ted has been using his staff to anoint more than just his wife. A few years ago it was another holy man with a similar sounding name, and similar hypocrisy, Rev. Jimmy Swaggart, was caught “sinning,” with a female prostitute. Now we have Rev. Ted Haggard allegedly employing the services of a male prostitute – for at least the past three years. Oh, and I did mention he snorted meth "to enhance the sexual experience?" Holy hypocrite, Batman...

You might have seen Rev. Ted on TV smoozing with George Bush. Rev. Ted is a one of George Bush's favorite Christian soliders who reportedly “confers” with White House strategists weekly. He huddles with them to give guidance on wedge issues like abortion, faith-based initiatives and, of course what the right sees as the second biggest threat toAmerica, right behind terrorism – gay marriage and beating off “the gay agenda.”

So, take that Red State “values voters.” Your family values standard bearers have been cheating on you behind your backs -- not to mention other peoples backs. They've been seeing different people.. and I mean “different people,” -- you know, the kind they've been warning are plotting to replace America's Ozzie and Harriet family tradition with one modeled after Sodom and Gomorrah.

Dudes, you've been two-timed -- again.

As Dr. Phil would say, “How do you feel about that?”

Finally comes this gift.

Bush says Rumsfeld, Cheney should stay
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush said Wednesday he wants Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney to remain with him until the end of his presidency, extending a job guarantee to two of the most-vilified members of his administration....“Both those men are doing fantastic jobs and I strongly support them,” President Bush said.

By now most observant Americans understand that George W. Bush is not exactly a Rhodes Scholar. In fact he likes to portray himself as just the opposite – an ordinary country boy filled to the brim of his frontal lobes with the kind of rural wisdom that only comes from getting ones hands right down in the dirt.

So, while we shouldn't expect any profound, nuance-filled analysis out George, we should expect to see some of that country wisdom at work when it comes to his two closest advisor, Cheney and Rumsfeld. In particular this old rural truism;

“If ya keep doin' what you've been doin' yer gonna keep gettin' what ya got.”

That's it. I have go out now and buy a lottery ticket.

Cartoon of the Day

November 2, 2006

I'm Trapped in Bizarro-land

Ever get the feeling you're trapped in Bizarro-land? Maybe you haven't noticed, but you are. You can be excused if you didn't know. There's an old biology experiment (PETA will hate this) in which a frog is put in a pot of cool water that is being slowly heated to a boil. Since the temperature is changing so slowly the frog doesn't notice...until it's too late.

That's exactly how we ended up here, Bizarro-land. Over the past quarter century things have gotten crazier and crazier, but ever so slowly. Statements and actions that, just a few years ago would have been considered crazy, are shrugged off now as just the way things are.

But the crazy-train really gets rolling in election years, and I guess that's what got me looking around yesterday and asking, “Am I crazy or are the people talking to me through my TV crazy? Or are we both crazy?"

It was not an idle question. Because only in Bizarro-land could the following things be said by people in positions of authority and responsibility, without some one calling in an super-sized order for straight jackets:

How To Tell If You're Tapped in Bizarro-land

When the same people who boasted that the Iraq operation would be “a cake walk,” start lecturing those now asking why things are going so badly three years later for “not understanding that such operations are hard” and to "back off," -- and they get away with it.

When the very person now complaining to critics for not understanding that the Iraq operation would be “hard,” is the same guy, Don Rumsfeld, who dismissed the General in charge before the war when he tried to tell Rumsfeld that it would be so hard it would require at least 300,000 US troops – and he gets away with it.

When during the same month 105 US troops and 4000 Iraqis are killed in Iraq, the Vice President of the United States tells FOX News viewers that “things are going remarkably well in Iraq,” -- and he gets away with it.

When, on the same day the New York Times discloses a secret Pentagon report showing that the situation in Iraq “is approaching chaos,” the President of the United States lambastes Sen. John Kerry for a flubbed joke about the war – and he gets away with it.

When, during the very year 48 million mostly working Americans can no longer afford health insurance, politicians decide to establish their “family values,” bona fides, not by fixing the health care mess, but instead by banning Internet gambling -- and they get away with it.

When Republicans can claim that Democrats are just a bunch of “tax and spend liberals" while over the past six years “borrow and spend Republicans" added more to the national debt than all previous administrations, back to George Washington, combined – and they get away with it.

When Republicans can accuse Democrats of being weak on national defense even as Republicans are losing both the wars they started – and get away with it.

When Republicans can spend six years denying human activity plays any role in global warming even as they actively suppress reams of government funded science that says otherwise, – and get away with it.

When the top three officials in the US military line of authority, the President, Vice President and Sec. of Defense – none of which has ever shot at anything that could shoot back -- routinely smear and impute the motives, expertise and reputations of retired military officers with decades of combat experience, who speak out against the administration's failed strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan – and get away with it.

When six years of unfair trade agreements, rampant manufacturing and job outsourcing have all but gutted the once vibrant American middle/working class, Republicans point to the millions of low-paying, service sector jobs that replaced those higher paying jobs as proof that the Bush tax cuts and economic policies have been good for ordinary Americans, -- and get away with it.

When Republicans claim the Bush tax cuts benefited ordinary Americans despite reams of publicly available data showing that the portion of the national income accruing to the richest 1 percent of Americans has doubled, the share going to the richest one-tenth of 1 percent has tripled, and the share going to the richest one-hundredth of 1 percent has quadrupled – and they get away with it.

When Republicans brag that their economic policies reversed a post-Clinton recession they inherited and have spurred robust job growth, when a glance at a chart showing average job growth over the past half century shows job growth under Bush has been, to put it kindly, sub par – nevertheless, they get away with it. (Chart below)

When Republicans claim they have made the world safer while Democrats would make us less safe, despite the reality that when Bush took office six years ago North Korea did not have a nuclear bomb and now they have several, and that when Bush took office Iran was not enriching uranium into bomb grade material, and now they are -- and they get away with it.

When Republicans repeatedly claim their “proactive,” preemptive military strategy to combat terrorism has been effective, even though their own intelligence analysts report that terrorism around the world has – excuse the pun – exploded since the US invasion of Iraq, -- and they get away with it.

When candidates make claims in campaign ads that are so false and misleading that, if they were instead advertising a consumer product they'd be fined by the Federal Trade Commission and the ads ordered stopped. Instead they get away with it.

When Republicans scorn the fiscal competence of the Clinton administration by dismissing them as "luck" ... the byproduct of the dot-com bubble, when this administration has benefited itself from another bubble – the housing bubble," -- and they get away with it. But wait! There's more on this one. While Republicans dismiss the Clinton budget surpluses as just a product of the dot.com bubble, in the same breath they criticize Clinton for having the good sense to at least make some hay while that sun was shinning, by raising taxes on the richest mericans. And while the Bushies criticize Clinton for that, what did they do with their opportunity to get a share of their boom for the US Treasury? They cut taxes on the wealtiest Americans, letting all that-gravy trickle back into the gravy bowl creating record budget deficits, -- and they get away with it.

Okay, enough. I could go on and on and on with such crazy-making non sequiturs. The question now is not “are we going mad,” because clearly, we are. The question is whether or not this progressive slide into group madness is reversible.

If the media were doing it's job we would at least have an antidote, but they're just as crazy as everyone else. It's like living in a version of the old 1950's horror classic, “The Body Snatchers.” Only now it's more like “The Mind Snatchers.” Every night I turn on my TV and bear witness to the snatching of another once respected news person as he or she rattle off some version of the crazy crap listed above. And, they do it with the same straight face and gravitas that once marked such greats as Morrow and Cronkite. Only these folks are crazy-enablers. You would think that one of them would, at least every now and then, jump up from their chair, look into the camera and say something like:

"Listen, folks, I really do know that this story is nuts. I have to read it, but I want you to know that I know it's crap. Thank you. Now, onto the next piece of silly crap."

But it rarely happens - In fact Keith Olbermann is the except that proves the rule. Today much of the stuff that comes out of the mouths of network anchors is goofy stuff created and peddled by goofy public officials who should know better, or connivers who are just plain lying. Then it's dutifully served up by the media to a growing demographic of voters increasingly tuned into the same goofy wave length. And another step along the road to crazy has been made.

Hey, did you hear the joke about John Kerry's joke? You know the one that was supposed to be a joke, but he flubbed it and it was all the news mavens could talk about yesterday, how it may have insulted the troops and how Kerry may have ruined his chances to run from president in 2 years, and how the Republicans, and even some spineless, conniving, triangulating Democrats, were demanding Kerry apologize... and..and..

And they got away with it.. again.

Average US Job Growth over the Last 50 Years

November 1, 2006

Your Bloodbath

Here's a question I bet you've never asked yourself.

How do you like your bloodbaths – long and ugly, or short and ugly?

I only ask because that's the only real issue facing the next leaders of Congress, be they Republicans or Democrats, when it comes to Iraq.

No one likes to say these kinds of things right out loud, especially politicians. So let me take the heat for it. Here's the three choices facing American policy makers for Iraq:

Option One: Force Iraqis to live peacefully together under a unity government:

If we continue trying to create and maintain some approximation of a unity government in Iraq we will be there for a decades doing so. Because there really is, and never has been, an “Iraq”. The place is an artificially created “vessel” filled with vinegar, water and oil. Unless someone is willing to continually shake the shit out of this vessel, those three ingredients separate. And, they hate the shakers, and will toil day and night to kill them. And, when they can't get their hands on the shakers, they kill one another, just to make the point that they are three separate, incompatible, unblendable elements..

What I've just described is the current state of affairs Iraq. Yesterday the Iraqi government – you can bet urged on by their American handlers – announced they would no longer count and report the number of daily civilian deaths – which have been averaging 130 a day, and rising. In October the US lost 103 troops, or roughly 3.5 shakers a day.

Even Democrats are afraid to suggest we stop shaking Iraq because doing so would “result in a bloodbath.” But would shaking avoid a bloodbath? Or would it simply result in a slow-motion bloodbath? Let's see.

Killed Iraqi Civilians: 130 a day x 365 days = 47, 450 a year
Killed US Troops: 3.4 a day x 365 = 1,241 a year

Total: 48,691

And those would just be the deaths we know about. Common sense and history tell us that the actual death toll -- from both direct military activities plus “collateral” deaths flowing directly form wartime civil and social deficiencies – is likely to double that number each year.

But, even without doing that kind of speculative math, or allowing for leap year, I think we can all agree that over 48,000 killed humans in one country in one year qualifies as a “bloodbath.”

And then onto 2007. Now it's 96,000 And 2008 -- 140,000. And so on, and so on and...... ?

In short, a strategy that tries to keep Iraq in one piece will require Americans accept a slow motion bloodbath without end. A successful and sustainable unity government for Iraq is as likely as a unity government was in the former Yugoslavia. It's a fiction. And a formula for a bloodbath.

Option Two: Forcefully partition Iraq.

This idea has been floated by Senator Joe Biden and others. Those who propose this solution say they too are trying “to avoid a bloodbath,” and feel partition is the best way to do that.

But this solution too is fatally flawed. Not because partitioning Iraq is a bad idea, it's not. But because westerners should not be drawing any more arbitrary boundary in that part of the world. In fact that's the very reason it's such a mess now. Because back in the early years of the 20th century the British decided to tidy up their budding Middle Eastern empire by drawing borders where there had been no borders before. When the British surveyors were done drawing lines the three warring tribes that had lived on that land for thousands of years were told they were now one tribe – Iraqis.

They were not – and are still not -- a-m-u-s-e-d.

If the US carves Iraq up into three parts we will spend the next hundred years defending those new borders as Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds “disagree” over their locations. And these disagreements will occur in a region that has more guns and explosives per capita than any similar sized piece of real estate on the planet.

The result of a US-enforced partitioning of Iraq would be non-stop bloodshed for as far into the future as anyone can predict. If you think the Israelis and Palestinians are at each other's throats over borders, wait until you see how Iraqi tribes fight over access to Iraq's oil-producing real estate.

Option Three: Let the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds determine their own futures – (or lack thereof.)

This is the option no one dares suggest. Withdraw entirely from Iraq and let the three warring parties settle their beefs among themselves.

“Yikes, man! What are you suggesting? Just let these people kill one another? It would be a bloodbath!”

Yes it would be a bloodbath. But, ask yourself.. for how long? And how many would die? Would it last three, five, ten years, like the other two options? Not likely. Why? Because history tells us so. When we withdrew our troops from Vietnam there was the predictable flurry of score settling and then it was over. Next month Bush will travel to Vietnam to attend the Asian Pacific economic summit which Vietnam is hosting. Could there be a lesson in that for Mr. Bush? One would think.

And ask yourself how many would die in such a “let the Iraqis settle it themselves 'bloodbath?'” Would 48,000 die, 96,000, 140,000? Hard to say. But it would more likely be fewer than if we continue trying to force a unity government on them. And, however many die, the killing would end sooner. Admittedly this is brutal logic. But any more brutal than our current strategy is reaping now?

Yes, if we chose this third option all hell would break loose in Iraq. The fur would fly for sure. But with no American troops there to put these fires out for them when they get out of hand, behavior would change. It would soon become apparent to the three tribes that, unless they want to live perpetually in a world only Mad Max could love, they must come to some kind of accommodation. If the Shiites and Kurds refuse to share the oil with the Sunnis, the Sunnis will make sure the other two tribes don't get any oil either, by blowing up oil infrastructure.

However when Iraq is inevitably partitioned, those new borders must be drawn by Iraqis themselves, and with Iraqi blood, sweat and tears. That's how the US Mexican border was drawn, not by the French or the British but by US and Mexicans. It wasn't pretty. But it's peacefully held:

“With the exception of a small number of minor Rio Grande border disputes, since settled, the current course of the border was finalized by the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the 1853 Gadsden Purchase.” (More)

It also took some bloodshed to settle the US/Canadian border. (More)

Bloodshed will be required to settle matters once and for all in Iraq as well. Or, more precisely, what we will come to call, “the region formerly known as Iraq.” Once we stop shaking the water – Kurdistan, the vinegar – Sunnistan, and the oil – Shiitstan, will bubble and boil apart, and it won't be pretty. At least initially there will “a bloodbath.”

The only question our newly minted members of congress need to decide when they take office this coming January is this:

Do we want to be part of a show-motion bloodbath that goes on for decades, to which we add US blood?


Do we want to get out of the way and let the three antagonists with most to gain or lose settle the matter once and for all on their own, and without further loss of American lives?

To quote Dick Cheney, I think it's a no-brainer.