Friday, November 30, 2007

Republican Schism Ahead

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Republican Loyalty Oaths

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

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

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

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

Right On, Dude!

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

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Iraq, the Constitution, and the Trash Can of History

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proof I've Watched Too Many Episodes of Mythbusters

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

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Declaration of Iraqi Colonial Status

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

Monday, November 26, 2007

Two Stories of Modern Slavery

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

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

Suffer the Little Children

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

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Secrecy: Government's War Against Her Citizens

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Is Hillary Clinton a Stealth Neo-Conservative?

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

War and Corn Flakes, It's All the Same

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

Monday, November 19, 2007

Where God Went Wrong

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

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

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Campaign Contributions=Bribery -
Proof #1844

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

Friday, November 16, 2007

Stupid Debate Questions

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

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

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

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

My previous views.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Gonzo's Legal Defense

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

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

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Most Heinous Charges Imaginable

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

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What's With DiFi?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Rising Seas Threaten England

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

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

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Do You Want This Guy to Have WMDs?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 08, 2007

They Are Merely Cannon Fodder

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Republicans Advance Cheney Impeachment

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

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

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Sin of Personal Diplomacy

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

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

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

Sunday, November 04, 2007

H. L. Mencken's Modern Wisdom

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

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

Bush and Cheney
~The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office.
~The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
~Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.
~In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.
~No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.

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

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

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

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Musharraf's Gift to al-Qaeda

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

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

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

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Is BlackWater Running Guns into Iraq?

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

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

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