Monday, April 30, 2007


For April, military deaths in Iraq now number 117.

More British soldiers (12) have died this month than any month of the war since the initial invasion. This puts to lie the contention by Republicans that things are only bad in Baghdad; the British are in the supposedly peaceful south.

The American total for the month is 104.
What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
-Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,-
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
~ Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen

Friday, April 27, 2007

How NOT to Win Friends

George Bush has worked hard these past six years to change the United States from "leader of the Free World," a self-sacrificing giant, into that bullying clod you try to avoid at parties by ducking down behind the onion dip. Two examples.

World Bank
Since forever...well, since 1945 when the World Bank was created, the United States President has appointed that institution's presidents. This is by tradition and it has served the World Bank well because, with two exceptions, American presidents have chosen highly successful business leaders, the CEO of Bank of America for example, for the post. The two exceptions are Ronald Reagan, who appointed a Republican Party hack named Barber Conable, and George Bush with his appointment of Paul Wolfowitz. (Aside: If the Republican Party is supposed to be the party of business, why is it that twice now they couldn't find a single qualified business executive to head the World Bank?)

Wolfowitz has no business experience unless he ran a lemonade stand as a child, he is not qualified to run a Burger King let alone a major international bank. A government careerist, he has cycled between the State Department and the Defense Department with a brief detour pretending to be an academic. His only qualification to be World Bank president is that his girlfriend works there and, so, might be able to help him. It's this girlfriend thing that has gotten him into trouble. It seems Wolfowitz made his first priority as president getting his snuggle-bunny a big, fat pay raise.

Now, the Financial Times Germany is reporting that the World Bank directors are considering ending the practice of letting the United States select the bank president. If Wolfowitz resigns (probable) and Bush selected another unqualified boob (likely) to replace him, the World Bank is still in the same fix. So, the directors may ignore the Bush and choose their president themselves. And the United States will have taken another step towards being inconsequential.

Italy was one of the few real commitments to the American invasion of Iraq. Italy's 3,200 troops ranks them third, behind Britain. When an Italian journalist was kidnapped in Iraq, American soldiers killed the Italian agent who gained her freedom. When another Italian journalist was captured by the Taliban in Afghanstan, the Afghan government organized a swap - trading the freedom of five imprisoned militants for the journalist (story via the Guardian). American officials, like Condi Rice, are livid and highly critical of Italy. It has been the diplomatic equivalent of walking up to a friend and spitting in his eye. This is how you treat a friend!?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Why is the Office of Special Counsel Investigating Rove?

I couldn't figure this out for a while. The OSC director, Scott Bloch is hardly a paragon of integrity. He hires cronies and and has publically opined that gay federal employees have no protection against discrimination. So, why all of a sudden has he acquired the honor (and the balls) to take on Karl Rove?

The answer, according to David Corn in The Nation, is that Bloch is under investigation himself. The investigation is Bloch's self-preservation act. I would not be surprised if Rove and Bloch have drinks after work.
I investigate you, you investigate me, and we both keep our jobs.

'War Is Fun' - McCain Version

St. John McCain is trying to pitch the fun side of the Iraq War. You'd think, given his experience during the Vietnam War, that McCain would be the last person on Earth to think war is a funny subject. You'd think wrong.

McCain's comic stylings include
- singing Bomb Bomb Iran
- giving Jon Stewart an IED on the Daily Show
- telling critics of the war to "lighten up and get a life"

McCain isn't alone in embracing the lighter-side of war. Marine general James Mattis thinks shooting people is "a hell of a hoot." Field Marshal Lawrence Wellington writes that taking war away from military commanders would be as cruel as taking golf away from Tiger Woods. Of course, he is being satiric (I hope).

Then, there are the musicians like Corporate Avenger -
You say war is good, and war is right
Another mother cries tonight
War is good, war is fun
Steal my money build your guns ~ War Is Good
and Country Joe McDonald -
Well, come on mothers throughout the land,
Pack your boys off to Vietnam Iraq.
Come on fathers, don't hesitate,
Send 'em off before it's too late.
Be the first one on your block
To have your boy come home in a box.

And it's one, two, three
What are we fighting for ?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam Iraq.
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we're all gonna die. ~ I Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die Rag
Art is War Is Fun by Chris Darce.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

'If This Be Treason, Make the Most of It'

Indicted felon Tom DeLay has accused Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi of treason. Bosh. The criminal acts are from George W. Bush.
  • He has placed his pride and ego ahead of the lives of American servicemen,
  • He has ignored the advice of both civilian and military leaders and continues to hold this nation in a needless war that is against the best interests on the nation,
  • He has violated his oath of office by ignoring the Constitution whenever he felt it was convenient to do so,
  • He has violated his oath of office and the Constitution by rewriting legislation in the form of "signing statements,"
  • He has violated his oath of office, the Constitution, and treaty law by suborning torture,
  • He has diverted the resources of the United States Treasury to enrich his friends and allies,
For all these reasons and more, George W. Bush stands accused of high crimes against the United States of America and its people. Supporting George W. Bush is a nearer act of treason.

Monday, April 23, 2007

How Many Deaths

Will it take 'till he knows
That too many people have died
Yes'n how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn't see
Nine American soldiers died and another 20 were injured in a bombing in Diyala province, Iraq. The insurgent Spring Offensive continues to grow while the American Surge is both a military and PR flop. And, the Beat Goes On.
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind. ~ Bob Dylan

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Is the US funding Terrorism, Again?

The Enemy of My Enemy Is My Friend,
Even When He Is Also My Enemy

We've been down this road before. The CIA is apparently funding terrorism in Iran. This would not be news, of course. The CIA funded the Taliban in Afghanistan in the 1980's as well as giving a tiny group the assistance it needed to grow large. That second group was Al-Qaeda (CIA & Al-Qaeda link).

Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK) is officially considered a terrorist organization. But, it is a terrorist organization that is beloved by Republicans such as Tom Tancredo. Their link to the CIA is through a shadowy Pakistani group called Jundullah. Jundullah, in turn, is linked to Al-Qaeda. Their former leader was Al-Qaeda bigwig Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, it is now led by CIA partner Abd el Malik Regi, known in Pakistan as "The New Bin Laden."

So, if we connect the dots (and erase all the little squiggly bits), it comes down to this - the United States is funding an Al-Qaeda offshoot to commit acts of terrorism. It is a little hard to keep track of America's philosophy, so here is an easy primer.
  • America opposes all terrorism,
  • Except when we approve of the terrorism because we hate the target.
  • America is at war with Al-Qaeda,
  • Except when we are allied with them.
  • America targets terrorist funding,
  • Except when we provide the funds.
Additional links: ABC News report, reports of US funding terrorism from several sources, SourceWatch, Aljazeera

Friday, April 20, 2007

Predictable Gun Response

Predictability is boring and rightwing gun nuts have become quite boring. The news that a gunman has barricaded himself at the Johnson Space Center today will lead, as sure as night follows day, to several NRA-nuts declaring that...
If only everyone were carrying a gun, this would not have happened.
This is true. It would have happened differently. Instead of a lone gunman barricading himself we would be reading about an Old West-style shootout at NASA.
Things would also have happened differently if it were not so very easy for any semi-lucid wacko to get his hands on all the weapons he could ever want.

Photo is from the Goldfield Gunfighters website. Fake gunfights for those who think there are not enough real ones in the country.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Notes on Virginia Tech

As someone who has had personal experience with morbid depression, I know that the events at Virginia Tech can be overanalyzed.

Suicide, at its core, is a last, desperate attempt to stop the hopelessness and pain of depression. Some people just curl up in a ball and exist with the depression; others self-medicate the feelings away with alchohol or drugs. The lucky ones find a competent psychiatrist.

Public suicide, which is what Cho did, is an act of control. A depressed person feels he has no control over his life. In publicly killing himself he has proven his control of the only thing he has left to control - the place, time, and manner of his own death.

Mass murder with suicide is simply graffiti. Whether it happens on a campus or the streets of Baghdad, it is nothing more than painting "I was here!" on the walls with blood. There is no social-political reason beyond an invisible man proving to himself and the world that he exists.

The art is La Femme Qui Pleure by Picasso.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Colorless Spring

Forty-five years after Rachel Carson wrote "Silent Spring" to tell the world about the dangers that pesticides presented to the ecology of the planet, there is a new threat. This time, it is not the songs of birds that will be silenced; what is endangered is the color in our gardens and the food on our tables.
“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.” ~ Albert Einstein
Colony Collapse Disorder is the clinical name for the mysterious abandonment of bee hives. The bees aren't obviously dying, they are most certainly dying but there is no pile of dead bees either inside or outside the hive. The just seem to be disappearing in large numbers both in North America and Europe. Nobody knows the cause but there are several suspected culprits.

Replacing flowers with ringtones
One theory is that cell phones are disrupting the navigation of bees so they can't find their way back to the hive. A German study found that bees will not return to their hive if a cell phone is nearby. This has received a lot of press such as here and here, but the absence of the problem so far in Asia causes questions.

Killing them with confusion
The modern human habit of deliberately poisoning his environment with pesticides and weed killers has endangered bees in the past. A new nicotine-based poison called Imidacloprid, it goes by dozens of trade names, is effective against termites by confusing them so they cannot find their nests. It is widely used as a systemic poison on fruits and vegetables crops. This theory holds that the poison is having the same effect on bees.

Frankenfood's Monster

Crops with pesticides genetically modified into their cells are known to be able to pass on that trait to weeds flowering nearby, killing bees by proxy. As much as I hate GM foods, this theory is a bit weak. European bees are suffering too and Europe does not have anywhere near the level of genetically modified crops as the United States.

Solar Freckles
Some people are blaming Sunspots. This is a theory I can't approach understanding. This is the favorite theory of rightwingers who can't stand the notion that humans might be harming the Earth.

Whatever the cause, if we can't reverse the trend soon beehives will disappear from much of the planet. With them will disappear citrus, nuts, many vegetables, and many many flowers. Much of agriculture depends on the pollination of bees. Almost all of the beauty of God's creation depends upon bees as well. Einstein may be right, humans will not survive on this Earth for long without the honeybee.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

This Is a Story of Judical Hatred

A woman in Georgia seeks to adopt a child. Everything seems favorable. The prospective parent had already been granted foster custody. The woman loves the child. The child loves the woman. The birth mother agrees that this woman is the best place for the child. The Department of Child Services recommends the adoption. The judge is favorably inclined until....

He discovers the woman is a lesbian.

The judge denies the adoption. When the woman seeks the opinion of a different court, the first judge finds her in criminal contempt and throws her in jail.

All because the woman is a lesbian.

The judge has allowed his hate to blind him both to the law (the law in Georgia does not discriminate on sexual orientation in adoptions) and to common decency. His act of hatred is destroying the child he is supposed to protect.

An intresting tidbit, the first link is from a Christian conservative.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Virginia Tech Shooting in Perspective

As of the time I am writing this:
  • 31 people have died today in a shooting at Virginia Tech,
  • the nation is shocked,
  • George Bush is preparing to address the nation on this tragedy.
  • 45 people have died today in Baghdad bombings,
  • that nation is not shocked, it is just business as usual,
  • dozens of people dying is a daily occurence in Iraq,
  • in Iraq, 31 people dying from terrorist acts would be considered a good day.
I do not want to minimize the horror of what has happened at Virginia Tech. I only want to point out the far greater horror that is the United States' continued occupation of Iraq. We are shocked by one instance on one day where 31 innocents were killed. In the Iraq we have created, dozens of innocents die every single day. Multiply the Virginia Tech tragedy by 365, then you will have a clue what we have done to that country.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Future of Professional Golf

Now, something completely different. At right is the future of professional golf in the United States. It is the proposal for an indoor golf course from Monolithic Commercial Buildings. I know it sounds comic bookish, but, I swear, I didn't make that name up. The reason I know this is the future of professional golf is that the men on the PGA tour couldn't play their tournament today because of conditions.

There were no dangerous thunderstorms nor was there heavy rain flooding the course. There wasn't a plague of black flies nor did an earthquake open up a Hellmouth on the 14th tee. No, it was too windy for the little wusses. The official reason that play was canceled was that winds gusting to 40 mph made conditions too difficult. I can't call them girly-men because the women of the LPGA played today with wind gusting to 45 mph.

The fact is, the PGA men have become incapable of playing in anything other than optimal conditions. They whine if there is a misting rain. The bitch if the sun sets too soon or even if they get shadows on the greens. They won't play at all in wind. Too hot or too cold, the temperature is never just right. It will not be long before they insist that all tournaments are played on indoor golf courses.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Contact Me At Once for a Great Deal

Anyone who believes that those White House e-mails using off the books accounts have gone missing purely by accident, please get in tough with me immediately. I have swampland in Florida, a bridge in Brooklyn, and a really neat tower in Paris I am selling cheap. These are great deals!!!!!

Contact me at krove @ Seeking Gullible

These bargains won't last.

Trust Me

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Abu Ghraib Writ Large

The newest new plan for the Iraq War, according to the British newspaper the Independent, is to convert Baghdad into thirty prisons. This new plan involved turning one-third of Baghdad's communities into walled compounds where entry and egress will be strictly controlled.

It is not a new idea; it does not have a history of success. The Germans tried it with the Jewish communities of Warsaw during World War II (photo at right). Behind the walls of the Warsaw Ghetto Jewish resistance culminated in the bloodiest rebellion against Nazi occupation anywhere in Europe.

It was tried again during the French occupation of Algeria. The result was urban riots and a lost war. The Americans tried creating Strategic Hamlets during the Vietnam War. The creation of these walled compounds spurred the growth of the Viet Cong.

The Administration is so devoid of ideas for Iraq they are grasping for strategies that failed in Vietnam and even the Nazis couldn't make work.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Speaker in Syria

One of the sillier things to pop up in recent weeks is the accusation that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi should resign, or even be indicted, for speaking to the Syria leadership last week. The law she is accused of break, the Logan Act, is one of the lamest statutes in the books.

The Logan Act makes it illegal for anyone "without authority" to have any interaction with a foreign country concerning matters of dispute between the United States and that country. It forbids any action "with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States." The law was passed in 1798, the same time as the Alien and Sedition Acts. The Sedition Act made it illegal to criticize the United States Government in any way. In over 200 years, no one has ever been convicted of voilating the Logan Act. The last, and only, indictment occurred in 1803.

By a strict interpretation of the law, I could be charged for writing a blog entry attacking the Bush Administration's policies toward Iran that can be read by an Iranian official. Any nonprofit organization that seeks to influnce a country to produce cheap versions of patented AIDS medicines has broken this law. Every business that deals with foreign countries has probably broken this law many times. Like the Sedition Act, it seeks to ban actions that most Americans would consider falling under the definition of Freedom of Speech.

Even if by some bizarre interpretation the law was somehow viable, as Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi has the authority of the United States. Even if by some even more bizarre interpretation, the Speaker of the House does not have the authority of the United States, then the Republican congressmen who followed her by only a few hours in meetings with Syrian officials are equally criminal. Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) met with Syria's President the day after Pelosi. Among the Republican law breakers were Joe Pitts (R-PA), Frank Wolf (R-VA), and Robert Aderholt (R-AL).

Calling the Pelosi in Syria story Much Ado About Nothing would be an insult to nothing.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Ambassadorships For Sale

It is the nature of American government that plum diplomatic assignments go to loyal party hacks and not to people who have even a vague qualification. Of course, as has been George Bush's habit and practice, he has carried this nature to never-before-seen depths. Here is a list of the top-ten diplomatic sales, with their purchase prices as reported by The money listed is donations to Republican campaigns.
  1. Roland Arnall ~ Netherlands - $1,136,141 ~~ Made his fortune selling subprime morgages to innocent Americans as the owner of Ameriquest. A bipartisan campaign donor. Ranked 73rd in the Forbes 400.
  2. Sam Fox ~ Belgium - $1,032,128 ~~ And every penny given to Republicans. Is it any wonder Bush withdrew the nomination when it was certain to fail only to backdoor the appointment hours later. Fox had already bought and paid for the posting. A leverage buyout king with close financial ties to Communist China, his net worth is about $500 million.
  3. Ronald Spogli ~ Italy - $802,807 ~~ Another man who made his fortune at leveraged buyouts.
  4. John Price ~ Mauritius - $685,987 ~~ A beautiful tropical island nation in the Indian Ocean. A nice place for a Utah-based shopping mall developer to go for a paid retirement.
  5. Catherine Bailey ~ Lativa - $623,867 ~~ Married to money, generous money, she is a bigwig in the Kentucky Republican party.
  6. European Union ~ C. Boyden Gray - $610,673 ~~ All that to the GOP; $500 to Democrats. Bigshot Washington lawyer.
  7. William Timken ~ Germany - $561,995 ~~ CEO of a major construction company.
  8. Al Hoffman ~ Portugal - $433,394 ~~ Half of this money went to Bush himself. Builds luxury condos. Bush is his neighbor in Kennebunkport in that he lives on a nearby island.
  9. L. Francis Rooney ~ The Vatican - $245,626 ~~ Owns the company that built Bush's father's presidential library.
  10. Robert McCallum ~ Australia - $12,350 ~~ A lot of people have paid more for their ambassadorships than McCallum but, with the exception of Sam Fox, there is no one else that Bush has gone so far to get seated. McCallum is a brother in the Skull and Bones Society. Bush held the Australia posting empty for 18 months. Bush intended the posting as a gift to McCallum and nothing was going to sidetrack him.
I must note, nothing here should suggest any crimes have been committed. Campaign donations are a legalized form of bribery but they are legal.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Iraq War: Quarterly Update

We enter the 17th quarter of the never-ending Iraq War.

American Military Deaths
1st quarter 2007 ..... 244 (2.7 deaths per day)
4th quarter 2006 .... 288 (3.1 deaths per day)
War Total .......... 3,247 (2.4 deaths per day)

I've stopped caring about the reported number of wounded since the Pentagon has instituted policies to deliberately undercount war wounded.

Iraqi Security Forces Killed
1st quarter 2007 ..... 456
4th quarter 2006 .... 496

Iraqi Security Forces and Civilian Deaths
1st quarter 2007 ..... 5,222 (58 deaths per day)
4th quarter 2006 .... 5,157 (56 deaths per day)

This first quarter of The Surge shows no appreciable effect. US deaths are down slightly while civilian deaths are up slightly over the previous quarter. A count of the bodies says that The Surge is having no effect.

tag: ,

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

A Modern Typhoid Mary

I really feel sorry for Robert Daniels. The 27 year-old man has committed no crime. He is imprisoned because he has a drug resistant strain of tuberculosis. He is held in solitary confinement and not allowed a television, radio, computer, or even a telephone. He is not allowed to take a shower and is forced to clean himself using wet wipes. His strain of tuberculosis is immune to nearly all treatment and can be spread when Mr. Daniels coughs or simply exhales. After he went out in public without wearing a mask he was picked up and imprisoned for the safety of the community.

All this has echoes from a hundred years ago and the story of Typhoid Mary. Mary was a carrier of typhoid fever and, employed as a cook, spread the disease to dozens of people. She was quarantined in 1907 and held as a prisoner for three years (when the above picture was probably taken, she was 38 years old). Released on condition that she never again work as a cook, Mary changed her name and continued cooking. In 1915 she was imprisoned for life. She lived as a prisoner for 23 more years, never feeling ill from the disease she carried.

Typhoid is like tuberculosis is one other regard. Typhoid also has virulent, drug resistant strains.

Monday, April 02, 2007


No, no. The other kind of hives.

No! Dammit. Not beehive hair, idiot! The kind of hives you get on your skin that itch like crazy. That kind.
--You want a picture?
No, too disgusting.
--So, what about them?
I've got 'em.
Yeah. I'm doing the whole topical cream business plus taking enough high powered anti-histamines to sedate a horse. Right now, I don't care about war, politics, or the price of gasoline. All I want to do is scratch and nap.

While I'm on the topic of hives, did you notice the story out of Congress last week that North American bee colonies are disappearing. This is a major environmental problem that goes beyond a probable honey shortage. Flowers, nuts, and fruit all rely on bees for pollenation. When the bees disappear, so do all of these crops.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Texas Moves Primary to April 1

Dateline: Austin, Texas - March 32, 2007

Texas Governor Rick Perry announced today that to honor the forty-third president of the United States, Texas was moving it presidential primary to April 1.

"President George W. Bush has given hope to thousands of young Texans who would never have graduated from high school if not for their rich daddy," said Gov. Perry. "We were all taught in school than anyone could grow up to be President. President Bush has shown us that is literally true. It doesn't matter how dull, dimwitted, or feeble-minded you are, you too can grow up to be President of the United States."

The legislation authorizing the move had been hung up in the state legislature for weeks by Democrats until it was decided that the move could be equally in honor of Lyndon Johnson.

"Both sides got their imbeciles," said Democratic state senator Joe 'Cow Dung' Reilly. "We got Gib Lewis and Bill Clayton, they got Dick Armey and Tom Delay. There might have been a smart one in the herd somewhere, but I'll be damned if I can think of a one."

The legislation had received unexpected support from Fundamentalists. To prevent holding an election on Sunday, the legislation states that if March 31 falls on a Saturday, the following day will be declared March 32. April 1 then falls on a Monday and the rest of the calendar would be renumbered appropriately. Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family praised the move.

"It is sacrilege to have the Lord's Day and April Fool's Day coincide. How many good Christians have listened to their preacher talk about tolerance and forgiveness and figured he was just joshing them," said Dobson. "I know I have."