Monday, June 30, 2014

French Quarter Tourist Shooting

Thanks to Bobby Jindal and a rubber stamp legislature, gun laws in Louisiana are so loose they would make any 19th century resident of Dodge City cower in terror. It is perfectly legal to wander down Bourbon Street in New Orleans carrying a bottle of whiskey in one hand and a loaded gun in the other.

The result was on display this weekend when two men got into an argument in the famed French Quarter, both unholstered their guns and began firing. Nine innocent tourists where shot in the melee, two critically. The police only showed up after the carnage was over and they spent their time putting up yellow tape and walking back and forth examining pools of blood and listening to the moans of the injured.

Thanks to Jindal, it is legal to carry guns almost everywhere in the state, including businesses that serve both food and alcohol. It is legal to load your gun with explosive bullets, as long as you are carrying under five pounds. Louisiana has the highest rate of death by gun in the United States, 72 people are shot to death every month (per capita, that is five times higher than Massachusetts). Jindal describes this as a "Sportsman's Paradise."

I guess, if you describe "sportsmen" as "maniacs with lethal weapons," he's right.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tea Party Protests Blacks Voting

Lots of Tea Partiers are outraged that Thad Cochran (R-Miss) appealed to African-Americans in winning his runoff election. The Tea Party had send "poll watchers" to try to intimidate blacks trying to vote. Echoing the Jim Crow era, Sarah Palin is now charging that blacks voted illegally.

Some Tea Partiers say blacks who voted for Cochran who don't intend to vote for him in the general election are criminals. There are vague suggestions that Mississippi law requires the state to compel blacks who voted in the runoff to vote for the Republican or risk prison.

There are no reports of blacks who voted being lynched. Yet. But the Tea Party candidate, Chris McDaniel, is a renown neo-Confederate with ties to the KKK.

It's a weird, and totally frightening, return to the Mississippi of 100 years ago.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Is Satan a God?

Last night I had a dream where I debated the polytheism of Christianity with one of those door-to-door religion salesmen where I made this point. It was so much fun I'm kinda hoping an annoying bible thumper knocks on my door this weekend. There are so many delicious points to make.

Christians Are Polytheists
Especially Catholics.

Chock Full of Saints
Starting at the bottom, there are over 10,000 canonized saints in the Catholic pantheon. They are prayed to, worshiped, and intercede in the lives of mortals. That is the definition of a god. Because they are deified mortals with a limited focus they are exact parallels of the petty Greek Gods. Aristaeus for the Greeks and St. Ambrose for Catholics are the patron gods of beekeepers.

Lots of Little Angels
Christians believe there are billions of angels watching over us, protecting us, and frequently doing a shitty job of it. They are in numbers and job description just wood nymphs and house elves.

Archangels Among Us
If Jehovah is the supreme god, like Zeus, then archangels are lesser gods created by the supreme god then they are like Ares and Athena. They are immortals and superior to humans but not, themselves human. They are spirits that can take both human and non-human form. There are seven named archangels in most Christian sects; Roman Catholics have fewer while Mormons add more.

Lucifer Makes Eight
The biggest problem with any truly monotheistic religion is that there is no antagonist. Heroes need anti-heroes, otherwise you have a damn boring religion. Lucifer wants to dethrone Jehovah and rule all of creation. We are not talking about the Pine Crest Little League All-Stars challenging the New York Yankees. He thought he had a legitimate shot at pulling off a coup. This is a contest of near equals, more like the Boston Red Sox against the Yankees. What is nearly equal to a supreme being god? Why another god, of course.

Council of Gods
Facing a hard case who believes the Bible is infallible holy scripture. Refer him to Psalm 82:1. Right there in the Bible, Yahweh is sitting at the head of a Divine Council addressing his fellow "elohim." Elohim is a Hebrew word meaning "gods." Plural.

Satan is a god, like Loki or Kali. He is the equal, or nearly equal, to the creator god, Yahweh (aka Jehovah). Yahweh hold court with the other gods of the firmament known to us collectively as the archangels.  Beneath these dukes of heaven, if you will, are a massive population of lesser spirits and demons that any good pagan religion would also call gods.

By the by, Islam is also polytheist believing in jinns (demons made from smokeless fire), angels (slaves to Allah), and the devil (called Iblis). Although their creator god does not have a Divine Council and his opponents are mostly humans who defy him. But being all-powerful means that Allah is rather capricious, inflicting evil on innocents just to test them. Basically, he treats humans like they were his lab rats.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Open Carry Observations

If the pride of the NRA confined themselves to shooting each other in the face or the penis I would support a very liberal interpretation of the Second Amendment. They can own all the guns they want. It's your basic Darwinian principle in action, culling the herd of those who should never, ever breed.

For those people, toy gun ownership should be illegal and they should be required to only own real guns.

My problem is the NRA idiots who think they should be able to carry guns in public without being part of a "well regulated militia." These fetishists who think carrying guns in public makes them more masculine when the truth is that, gun or not,
a schmuck is still a schmuck. Then there are the Rambo wannabes who think if they carry guns everywhere they go, eventually they will have a chance to become a hero when the reality is should a crisis come the odds are they will freeze, fuck up, and piss themselves before being shot like a dog.

To accommodate these people we have to allow psychopaths to acquire and carry guns.

Therefore, I contend that clause "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State" is the dominate part of the Second Amendment and that the remaining words were meant to be subordinate to that clause.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Iraq Civil War: Three Questions

There are three questions that beg answering about the Iraq civil war.

How Could the CIA/Pentagon NOT Foresee This Possibility?
Our spy agencies communicating with each other.
It's not like the ethnic factions in Iraq were unknown. Pretty much the entire decade of the Iraq occupation was consumed with dealing with the blood letting of those factions trying to kill each other. It's not like the goal of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which has been around since 2004, to form an Islamic state of the Sunni tribes that live in eastern Syria and Western Iraq was a secret. It's all right there in the name.

My best guess is that the intelligence agencies were totally insulated in their bubble and only told each other what they wanted to hear. Anyone with a dissenting opinion would be labeled "not a team player" and reassigned to the Thule, Greenland listening post.

Why has the Iraq Army dissolved Like Wet Paper Mache?
Let's face it, in Iraq being in the army isn't considered an adventure, it's just a job. And certainly not a job worth dying over. When the US was training the Iraq army it had a couple of goals. First, it didn't want the Iraq Army thinking it could stand up to the US army of occupation. It was mostly trained to be subservient bitches. Second, it wanted an integrated force not dependent of tribal loyalties. But, Iraq is a collection of tribes, not a nation so the Iraq Army is devoid of any loyalty. Finally, the Iraq Army is, like the government, corrupt. The rank-and-file know their generals got their appointments through bribery and spend all their time sucking at the golden teat of the American taxpayer.

There is nothing new here. It is exactly the same state of affairs that caused the Vietnamese army to fold like a cheap Chinese lantern in 1975. The army can think of a lot better things to do, like going home,
than fighting and dying for the absentee gangsters who command them.

How Will the "Who Lost Iraq" Debate Play Out?
It is an American habit to find scapegoats whenever anything goes wrong. In 1948, factions of the corrupt Chinese government were fighting among themselves over how to divide their loot while Mao Tse-tung's Red Army focused on actually taking over the country. When the American backed crooks, led by Chiang Kai-shek, escaped to Taiwan Republicans, led by Joseph McCarthy and Richard Nixon, started a State Department witch hunt asking the question, "Who Lost China?" After Vietnam fell, the debate over "Who Lost Vietnam?" started. That time blame fell on the American generals when the perpetually corrupt South Vietnamese government had created a state that no one in their right minds was willing to fight and die for.

If Republicans were having fun with the Benghazi inquiries they will go absolutely orgasmic with charges of jihadist traitors in the State Department betraying Iraq. There weren't any, of course, but facts never stopped a good lynching.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Iraq Civil War

Who would have predicted a civil war in Iraq after the fall of the brutal Hussein dictatorship? Try just about anyone with an ounce of common sense.

Iraq was never a nation-state, it was an artificial construction by colonial British after the breakup of the Ottoman Empire following World War I. In the north there are ethnic Kurds (about 18% of the population). In the south and east are Arab Shi'ites (about 42%). In the west and middle are Arab Sunnis (about 38%).

Each have their own militias; the Kurds have the Peshmerga, the Sunnis have the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and the Shi'ites have the regular Iraqi army. An awkward peace was possible as long as the United States maintained a colonial occupation of the country but that would have required having a significant army stationed in Iraq for-fucking-ever. Once the US left, the teapot was bound to erupt eventually.

There are few alternatives. The US could reinvade and return the country to status quo 2007. Or, one of the two Arab factions could impose a vicious dictatorship like the Sunni Ba'ath dictatorship of Saddam and thus rule with an iron fist over the others. Or, and this is the best option, partition the country between its three main factions. The problem with the partition option is oil rich Mosul that all sides want to control.

Most likely in the short term, the central government in Baghdad will contract with the Kurdish Peshmerga to open a second front on the ISIS to relieve the military pressure on the capital while they petition both the United States and Iran to intervene. It's unlikely the US will want to engage in Iraq War III so I expect that Iran will send in a fighting force to install some sort of partition.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

American Presidential Dynasties

With the possibility of a Hillary Clinton-Jeb Bush presidential campaign in 2016, people are talking about political dynasties in our supposedly democratic nation. The truth is that, by and large, American dynasties have been pretty much failures. My criteria two family members elected president. So, no Kennedys.

The Bush Family
In addition to the two President Bushes, this family has Prescott Bush who was so distraught at the election of Franklin Roosevelt that he tried to organize a "cocktail putsch" in 1933 and impose a fascist military dictatorship. Nothing much came of it, no one was arrested, but Prescott saw his bank seized by the government in 1942 for its financial dealings with the Nazis.

George Bush Senior got to the top the old fashioned way, he inherited it from the sainted Ronald Reagan. In four short years he took the Reagan Revolution and a successful Iraq War and turned it into the worst result for a president seeking reelection since William Taft, getting just 37.5% of the vote.

George Bush Junior probably stole the presidency in 2000 when the Supreme Court ordered a stop to the vote count and gave him the office. When he left office he was thoroughly hated by both left and right. He has been reduced to painting childish art.

The Adams Family
Sorry, wrong picture.
John Adams was a founding father and helped pen the Declaration of Independence. Elected to succeed the sainted George Washington, John grew to hate the open debate of democracy and signed the Sedition Act that outlawed criticizing the government and used it to throw some members of Congress into jail. He ended up losing his reelection to Thomas Jefferson.

Son John Quincy Adams was the sixth president but he stole it from Andrew Jackson in the House of Representatives even though Jackson won both the popular vote and a plurality but not majority of the electoral votes. Like his father, Quincy was a one-term president.

The Roosevelt Family
The only successful family in US dynastic history. Teddy was popular while in office but was not Republican enough for the party when he tried to replace William Taft as the Republican nominee in 1912. Still, Teddy ran as a third party candidate and nearly pulled off a victory.

Franklin was Teddy's fifth cousin, but family is family. He was so popular he won election four times. Effectively, FDR was his own dynasty. Between them, Roosevelts controlled the White House for almost 20 years.

The Harrison Family
The most pathetic dynasty on the list. William Henry won the election of 1840. Famous for killing Native Americans in the Indian Wars of 1811 and not much of anything else, he still won. At the age of 68, he delivered a two hour inaugural address in a driving rainstorm and caught his death of cold. Literally. His cold turned to pneumonia and he died exactly one month later.

Benjamin Harrison was William Henry's grandson. He beat incumbent Grover Cleveland (trivia: the city of Cleveland was named after a distant relative of Grover's) in 1888. Benjamin's signature accomplishment was greatly increasing the tariffs on imported goods, which was the 19th century equivalent of a massive tax hike. After one term, he was unpopular even within his own party and was defeated by the man he had beat earlier, Grover Cleveland. This dynasty manged to rule for just four years and one month.