Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"I was just following orders."

With shocking results.

Truth through risk

Because much of American media has determined that the occupation of Iraq doesn't offer sufficient bang for the buck and has therefore withdrawn its scrutiny and reporting of that ongoing misadventure, I'm regularly checking in with this site for information about the "boots on the ground" in that part of the American empire.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Friday, December 26, 2008

Lest we forget

Professor Juan Cole reminds us of ten fallacies that are being touted by the Republicans about the history and present state of the nation of Iraq. Good job, Juan.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I can't imagine a better gig

than writing things like this for The Onion.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Some doggerel by me

Sic Transit Abhoria


Oh, how deeply Righties hate him.
In transition, they berate him,
To Marx and Lenin they equate him,
Quoting Preacher Wright verbatim.

Oh, how much it must frustrate ’em
That they can’t investigate him,
That impeachment won’t await him,
’Til they first inaugurate him.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Not so fast...

All's not quiet in Iraq. Not by a long shot.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Every once in a while

something is said that restores one's faith in America. The latest: Obama's response to an AP question about whether he'd be spending much time in Chicago once he moved into the White House. His answer (scroll to bottom of article) : "My Kennebunkport is on the South Side of Chicago." I never thought I'd hear those words, ever.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

This is nuts

I mean, by now we've come to expect the wackos in the Bush administration to support something as crazy as allowing the carrying of loaded concealed weapons in our national parks, but buried in the middle of the article is the observation that fifty US Senators, including nine Democrats, support the rule change. When the gun lobby becomes that influential, it's time to take over the government and start again.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Letter to the editor

Here's a letter to the editor of the SB News-Press that I emailed today. I'll let you know if/when it gets published.

I know that to forgive is divine, but gosh it’s hard to watch this spate of Bush exit interviews on TV without hurling something at the screen. Take the recent interview on ABC: a cozy fireside chat featuring Bush, seated beside Laura on a couch, with Charlie Gibson tossing him puffballs about “regrets” or “mistakes” during his presidency. In reply, Bush—wearing his slacker grin—rues “intelligence errors” about WMD in Iraq, while sympathizing with those who died on that account; and later, when asked about the tanking economy, explains that it was caused by actions of others: lax regulators, greedy bankers, a “housing bubble”—anything but the malfeasance of his administration. Indeed, throughout the entire interview, Bush consistently resorted to that common responsibility-shirking device of the passive voice: “Mistakes were made.”

If only once—and when better than now, finally?—Bush would acknowledge where, in our democracy, the buck stops. But no. Instead, he uses these lame-duck interviews to attempt to rewrite history in his favor: forgetting the Katrina disaster; omitting his failure to be alert to terrorist attack and to capture Osama bin Laden; failing to mention his kicking the UN inspectors out of Iraq when they were consistently reporting an absence of WMD; refusing to include, as a direct cause of the nation’s economic collapse, his own persistent demands that banking and lending regulations be eased.

The process of redemption begins with assuming responsibility. If Bush should ever do so, then I’ll consider forgiving him. Perhaps.

Update: It was published on December 8, 2008.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

WTF?

What are we doing in Iraq? What are we doing in Afghanistan? What are we doing with military bases in The Phillipines, in Korea, in Germany, in Greenland, in Guam, in Australia, for God's sake?

What are we doing?

No rest for the weary

Once again, peacenik/Libertarian Justin Raimondo is right on. From the look of them, Obama's foreign-policy decisions may be effectuated by the same old forces, and they're not looking good.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Victory in Iraq

It's clear from the terms of the "Status of Forces Agreement" that may (or may not) be accepted by Iraq's parliament that the US caved in so utterly that the SOFA has as much veracity as did Nixon's "peace with honor" speeches in the months before the helicopters lifted the last Americans off the roof of the US embassy in Saigon.

Not for the faint of heart

is this photo and essay about post-surge Iraq.

Just in case you weren't certain...

the US and UK invasion and occupation of Iraq were illegal under international law.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Advice for Obama

First, Don't pick Hillary for State. If you're leaning toward establishment types, choose Richardson for State, Hillary for AG (assuming she'd take it). Hillary would be great in the latter role--she can be a bulldog, a law-enforcer, bigtime--and from there she can go on the Supreme Court (Barack, you can make that part of the deal).

Second, make some announcements next week, then dribble them out in the succeeding weeks to keep the pot boiling. You're risking being thought of as "political" by maintaining this hands-off position during the transition. That is, some of us are beginning to feel that you're allowing Bush to stew in his juice as the economy implodes and the wars drag on, rather than doing something--anything--about these things. I mean, what about some specific proposals for the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress?

The words "hope" and "change" are more than campaign slogans: They're cries for help. Respond, Barack. Help us.

For a few laughs...

check out Cavett on Palin.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

From the heart, and the heartland

America's prince of radio has spoken: Obama is one cool dude.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Reflections

Well, it's over. The election was long enough ago for some thoughts, as opposed to reactions, to come to my conscious. (It helped that in the interim I had two long drives over the Sonora/Mojave deserts, with Dylan on the stereo.)

First, the letdown. I had so much energy invested in the campaign and outcome that no amount of celebratory sensation could dissipate it, and so, like a balloon at the completion of its deflation, my body/mind sagged and shriveled. I spent the morning after the election watching postmortems on television and found myself barely able to pack my car to get out of the Las Vegas motel before checkout time. Then, while driving toward Tucson with no radio reception in my car, I listened to folk music CDs and got a dose of sobriety, realizing that we'd done this before: Forty-five years earlier, in August 1963, when Martin intoned about the dream, and we felt, for a few moments, that it was possible to reach the mountaintop. Well, we didn't then, and I felt unsure--sad, wise, conditioned--knowing how easily dreams can lead to rude awakenings.

Second, the resolve. I visited my daughter and her little daughter in Tucson and realized, fully, how deep a debt I've incurred by being lax in my contributions to the world they'll inhabit when I'm gone. I decided I'd better get busy cleaning up the place--its environment, its populace, its psyche.

Third, the calm. Really, I thought as I drove back to SB from Tucson, there's nothing magic in my revelations. What needed to be done has always been there, right in front of me: It's the next right thing, just as I'd always known.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Who'dathunkit?

She tries to hide it, but it's obvious: Condi's in love.

Monday, November 03, 2008

From Vegas with love

I'm in Las Vegas tonight. I spent a couple of days here during the Kerry campaign, and a couple of days here a month ago for Obama. Now, with the 2008 presidential election looming, I came over yesterday and today did eight hours of canvassing, with tomorrow, election day, being a critical GOTV ("get out the vote") day. We're assembling early on the north side of town (I mistakenly have taken a motel down near the strip, and so have a twenty-minute drive out to the site) where we'll get our marching orders from the incredibly competent, organized young folks who are Obama's ground staff. Today's canvassing consisted of going to various gated communities, spurring Democrats to make sure to vote, hanging door-hangers with election-site information on the homes where there was no one home, and leaving generalized information in the case of the homes of the less-committed. All according to perfected computerized charts and maps given to us by the aforementioned staff. Bottom line: Out of the fifty-plus homes we were told to visit, we perhaps caused two or three people to vote for Obama who might otherwise have slacked off.

My canvass-mate was a sweet, 18-year-old black girl who'd taken the day off from school to do this for Obama, after, she said, having "blown it off so many times before." The irony is that on this day when she'd decided finally to do it, Michelle Obama was attending her high school for a campaign appearance, so this task caused her to miss both that and a day's worth of classes.

Damn...

I wish I'd said this.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A dangerous game

This lengthy WaPo essay details the various steps Bush has taken, and may take, as he slides out the back door of the White House. Most dangerous: his latest expansion of US military power, to include military actions within foreign nations, allied with us and not, to "protect our interests." This is tantamount to a worldwide arms intrusion, casting aside all restraint on American aggression.

It's worse than an "October surprise," it's an eternal, international nightmare.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Can you imagine...

the level of news coverage this event would have raised in the US?

The unreported agony that is Iraq grinds on and on.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Another letter to the editor of the SB NewsPress

It's a shortie, in text and thought, but I couldn't resist. I'll update if it gets published.

To the editor:

Okay, I get it that it's sexist to mention, in the context of Sarah Palin's candidacy for Vice President, anything about "lipstick on a pig." But what I don't get is why, then, the Republican National Committee has deemed it proper to spend $150,000 on her wardrobe? Am I missing something?

Update: It was published in the News-Press, Sunday, October 26, 2008.

Don't ever say I didn't tell you

about this means of escaping the collapse of the American empire: Move to Sweden.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Surprise, surprise

With all the publications tripping over themselves to endorse Barack Obama lately, I've decided to join in: I favor Obama for president in 2008!

For a handy explication of the differences--sometimes more subtle than I'd like--between Obama's and McCain's views on American foreign policy, check out this essay. As to domestic policy, no contest.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I'm no economist

but I did take the course in college, using Samuelson's text; and I majored in Political Science and have followed politics and law all my life. And so, when the Nobel committee selects Paul Krugman for its annual award for economics, I know what it means: The United States government has been out of step with the economics of the civilized world since--when?--since Reagan.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Oh, wouldn't it be loverly...

If the US couldn't find a way to extort a Status of Forces Agreement out of Iraq's government before the expiration of its UN mandate on December 31. The US would then be, without any cover of international law or UN approval, an illegal occupier of a foreign nation. Any killings by US troops thereafter, I believe the law would say, would be murder; and those who ordered the occupation would, one would think, be culpable, just as culpable as Hitler was for the deaths that occured during Gemany's illegal occupations during WWII.

I'd paddle to the Hague to be inside the courtroom to watch the trial of Bush/Cheney on those charges. Hell, I'd even resuscicate my dusty old shingle if there was a one-in-a-hundred chance I could participate in the trial, if only to fill the prosecutor's water cup during final argument.

Monday, October 06, 2008

It could get ugly

I'm not talking about the tenor of the presidential campaign, which we all knew would get ugly about this time in the cycle. I'm talking about the election result itself. This composite polling site already (as of today, that is) has Obama winning the electoral-college vote, with 296 "solid" or "leaning" states; and of the few tossups, Obama's leading in most of them, too. He could end up with 350 electoral votes or more, losing only the deep south, the bible belt and the redneck west (plus Arizona, McCain's home state). In that process, it might be added, he could bring with him enough Senators and Representatives to hand control of Congress to the Democrats.

How would life feel if this happened? Wait one month and see.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Lipstick on a pig

I gotta tell ya, those add-ons (increased FDIC insurance, some accounting changes for banks, tax credits for environmental energy sources) do nothing to enhance the basic flaw in the bailout package, namely, that it's a top-down Band-Aid of the problem, and it simply hands off to the next Congress and administration the endemic structural problems of our economy, our stock-market system and, last but not least, our political gridlock. Bush has now found a way to bail out on all the problems his reign created. Two wars, economic chaos, terrorism increasing around the globe, the US reputation in the world in the tank, and America in decline.

Thanks, Bush. Thanks, Congress. Fuck you all.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A tipping point?

According to this moment's numbers (because they change each moment) at RealClearPolitics.com, Obama's lead in the national polls is more than five points on average, his electoral college lead is significant and, most tellingly, the betting odds on his winning the election are above 60-40. (Check the figures in the Intrade Market Odds box in the upper right-hand quadrant of the site.) With the upcoming Palin/Biden debate, the "crisis" in the markets, and other messes around the globe, the next few weeks until the election could become ugly for McCain. A debacle like 1964 (Goldwater/LBJ) perhaps? Let's hope so, so that the mean-spirited conservatives are, for at least two decades, once again driven to near-extinction.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

Meanwhile...

Look, I understand why all the news nowadays is about the economy, the "meltdown" and so on. I mean, we're talking pocketbooks here. But wouldn't it be nice if just a tiny slice of reporting was devoted to the ongoing violence in Iraq? If not out of interest, what about humanity?

Be afraid, be very afraid

The Pentagon has authored an agenda for future US military planning that includes persistent battles around the globe related to "resource wars"; fights against a "youth bulge" that is imminent in emerging nations, as those nations' populations demand a bigger share of natural resources; use of outer space for enhanced surveillance of Earth activities and features; increased, sophisticated use of robotic warfare; and the improved ability to conduct war among civilian populations.
A truly frightening document, describing a truly frightening future.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I wish I'd written

This. To which I'd add the personal greed of Americans, who don't seem willing to save, but rather wish to borrow and borrow and buy and buy. A culture of consumerism that started--once again--with Ronald Reagan.

Leave it to a Brit

to explain why McCain/Palin are doing so well in the polls.

Duh

Gosh all-rooney. If left alone (that is, unregulated) money-driven folks in the money-driving industries will make money at the expense of ethics and laws. Gosh all-rooney, when their behavior results in inflated asset-valuation and greed-driven practices, marketplace realities will eventually cause a crash. And here's the latest revelation: people who invest in securities do so not because they weigh asset value against risk (which might require reading a 200-page prospectus), but because of a herd mentality based on hype generated by the folks described in the first sentence hereof. How do I know this? Because a scholarly study tells me so.

Gosh all-rooney.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Breaking...

Palin answered her first unscripted question!

Meanwhile, the job market...

sinks deeper into the tank.

P.S. I have a good friend who was recently hired. Given the foregoing data, lucky boy!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Absence makes the heart grow absent

I've been away from this blog for a while because I became burned out on politics. Really.

I'm still quasi-burned out, but I do have this assessment of the presidential race: The tide, the ship of state, the momentum--whatever you call it--is turning. The Palin thing is getting old, and, for that matter, has become tainted by such things as truth and sanity. "You can fool some of the people..." etc.

Indeed, as I blogged some time ago, Palin may still turn out to be "the gift that keeps on giving," because we Americans have such a short memory that with five weeks to go until the election (an eternity to a child, or to the American electorate) our good Sarah and her father, John McCain, have finally begun to become exposed for the frauds they are. (In addition to the many revelations about Palin's past and her veracity, check out this scathing comment by a former McCain-supporting reporter for the Washington Post. Ouch!)

So, fellow humans, take heart. Americans may not be as dumb, bigoted and foolish as I think they are.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

I'm worried about Obama

Of course I'm worried about his slip in the polls since the Republican Convention, but that's not what I'm talking about here. I'm worried about his various statements and positions since his nomination. He's equivocated about offshore drilling, troop reduction in Iraq, extension of the Bush tax cuts and other facets of what I once believed was his truly progressive agenda. But even these items don't bother me too much--I expected a slide toward the center by the Democratic nominee, it happens every election. What is most troubling so far is his recent concession, in an interview with Bill O'Reilly, that the "surge" has "succeeded beyond our wildest dreams."

What this quote reveals to me about Obama are these things:

1. He's getting sloppy with his language. No matter how conditional and nuanced the remainder of his sentence or paragraph is, this single line has handed McCain a quote that he will hit Obama over the head with continuously from now until November. But that's only my superficial problem with it.

2. He's fallen for the "surge" and "success" definitions of the Bush/Republican regime. If the surge is defined by the limited concept of the infusion of more American troops, and success is defined as merely a decline in the number of Iraqi and American deaths, then the surge has been a success. But what has taken place in Iraq since last winter is much more than increased American troop levels; and the "success" isn't success at all, but wreckage and imprisonment and a deferral of retribution.

First--and before any additional American troops arrived--the Sunnis decided to take American bribe monies and turn on the al-Qaeda cells in Anbar province. This had nothing to do with more American troops, it was a stopgap measure that decreased al Qaeda's killings, but simply increased the power of Sunni tribesmen, to the chagrin of the Shiite leaders in Baghdad.

Second, cities like Fallujah that had been the scene of much violence in the past have been turned into ruined fortresses, devastated by two American assaults and bombings, with berms surrounding them and Identity Cards required for entry, and massive police presence to ensure "peace." In other words, we've made armed camps out of Iraqi towns, and this happened independent of any surge, and in many cases was accomplished before the surge was even announced.

Third, within Baghdad, blast walls and checkpoints and multiple troop stations throughout the city have created Sunni and Shiite ghettos, suppressing violence between the sects, but not extinguishing it. This is not "success" it is deferral.

Finally, in addition to the increased American troop levels, there have been insidious tactics--assassinations, spying, infiltration--used by Shiite supporters of Iran's influence that have caused decrease in violence through outside forces unrelated to the American presence, indeed, antithetical to it. This, plus the injunction by American enemy the cleric al-Sadr, that his militias stand down temporarily, have suppressed violence in the short run only to promise it hereafter.

So--Obama's understanding of what's truly at work in Iraq appears restricted, uneducated--and that's most troubling of all, because that could mean that as president he'd be acting and reacting as unwisely as have America's leaders for the last five years with regard to Iraq, and if so with Iraq, what about the rest of the world? Obama needs to read posts such as this in order to comprehend Iraq's present status, and if he did he'd never use the language of America's leaders and pundits when assessing what's afoot in Iraq.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Wanna make a quick million bucks?

Print up and disseminate a "Trig Palin for President" bumpersticker.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Letter to the editor

Here's a letter to the editor of the SB NewsPress that I submitted this evening. I'll let you know if/when it gets published. (Update: It was published on 9/13/08.)

It began during the 1952 presidential election, when war-hero Eisenhower—“I like Ike”—beat untelegenic Stevenson—sloganless egghead. Next, handsome Kennedy’s appearance in a televised debate, contrasted with stubble-bearded Nixon’s, forecast the result of the 1960 election. By “it” I mean the indisputable fact that many Americans’ choice for president is dictated by commercial television’s superficial, capsulized diagnoses of the candidates’ proclivities rather than by the merits of his/her character and programs.

Sometimes, the outcome results from TV’s characterization of the eventual loser: Goldwater—warmonger; Humphrey—LBJ clone; McGovern, Carter, Dukakis, Mondale—wimps; Dole, Bush I—colorless; Gore—wooden; Kerry—waffler. Other times, it’s based on TV’s casting of the winner: Reagan—trustworthy, affable; Clinton—bright, bubba; Bush II—beer buddy. Occasionally, TV’s negative snapshot of one candidate, coupled with its positive image of the other, results in a landslide, as happened with both of Reagan’s victories.

The upcoming election reveals the frightening culmination of this process. With only weeks to go, it’s been reduced to Obama, newcomer rockstar, versus McCain, war-weathered maverick. Even the veep race has become infected by the image of God-fearing, gun-toting, game-changing Palin.

I fear for our nation, because with all that’s at stake, the many Americans who rely on commercial television for their news and views may once again cast their votes based on electoral information presented by the same folks who peddle beer and pretzels—and presented with the same degree of intelligence, depth and care.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Wanna see something freaky?

Here's a student film from fifty years ago, when I was a teenager. Prescient much?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Now wait a goddam minute

Here's an Associated Press report of Palin's convention speech. It's not labeled an opinion piece, but rather it has two writers' bylines and is carried as a news item. The headline--"Palin Delivers Star-Turning Performance at RNC"--reveals only a smidgeon of how biased the story is. What gives? Since when are AP "reports" of speeches--or of any other event--given such a one-sided slant? Is this a new AP policy, to report opinion as fact?

Meanwhile, back in the battlefields

the slaughter grinds on and on and on.

Just when you thought it was safe

to avoid America becoming a militaristic state, The Pentagon does this.

I told you so

In my novel, Gaviota, the protagonist is tentatively offered a Supreme Court position, but a few days later another, more radical, name is floated by the White House as nominee. Later, it's revealed that the radical was a "Hindy," for the dirigible, The Hindenburg, a trial balloon that was meant to perish, to ease the proposal of our protagonist's nomination.

Now, with the Palin nomination, I've surmised that Rove is using that device to ease the submission of a more mainstream name, and this article reaches the same conclusion.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

SOFA, so bad

We've heard a lot lately about how Iraq's officials are demanding "sovereignty" for their airspace and their populace; about how any agreement with the US will involve jurisdiction of Iraq over US military personnel and civilian contractors; and about how there will be a specific timetable for withdrawal of all US troops. But now we hear that this may be bunk, that the real deal is soft on these issues, in particular our troops' withdrawal. Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Piling on Palin

Look, I don't want to be piling on here, but this Sarah Palin thing has the flavor of a Harriet Miers nomination. I mean, sure she's a cutey, and she wears glasses and all, but consider this: The names of the five Huskies in the dog team that she and her husband Todd Palin drove to victory in a local iditarod are Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper and Trig. What silly names for dogs.

Oops, my mistake, my bad. Those are the names of their five children.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Palin?

I'm writing this without the "benefit" of the pundits' (right, left or middle) takes on McCain's pick, but I will admit this: When I heard the last name, I immediately thought of this Palin, and, it turns out, he may have been a wiser choice. At least he has some experience.

This choice, to me, is the death-knell for McCain. It makes the Democratic ticket look staid and solid; it makes the Republican ticket look like a trick, a con, a silly game. Obama suddenly becomes a relative veteran in all fields of governance compared to the heartbeat-away lady from where? I mean, could McCain have picked anyone with less experience governing people than a two-year (the least time anyone can have been governor, as of 2008, given the sequence of elections in this nation) executive of the nation's least-populated and most-irrelevant state? You can't write a less-credible story--Random House would throw your fiction manuscript back over the transom before it even landed on the desk.

Besides the obvious observations--including the one above--I have this thought: Think about those wavering independents. The ones who haven't chosen a party preference because they vote according to policy or personality, not party. Think what this choice tells them. I believe they now see what's afoot. An attempt by the Republican Party to win the White House by whatever means they can, even at the expense of our nation's fate and future. To which I say, Youbetcha--welcome to the real world, finally.

I have this final observation: As tempting as it is to think of this as McCain's "Harriet Miers moment," he's stuck with Palin. He can't back out of this blunder like Bush did with Miers, because he'd risk a McGovern-Eagleton style catastrophe, and undercut his "judgment" maxim. So, McCain is stuck with her for the next two months, and she'll be a gift to the Democrats that keeps on giving.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A new "surge" in Iraq

As the "surge" troops come home, private contractors take their place. Iraq: the war that keeps on giving.

Monday, August 25, 2008

I watched tonight, the first night of the Democratic convention,

and I'm sold, totally sold, a goner, a devotee, a Kool-Aid-sucking, off-on-a-trip-to-some-distant-galaxy-cotravelling spirit. Yup, I'm that sold: Obama for President. Oh, did I mention, it's not Barack? It's Michelle.

For those of you who missed it, check this out and be amazed. And inspired.

Michelle Obama Delivers Keynote Address at DNC Convention

Sunday, August 24, 2008

About Biden

On many issues, Biden's okay. He's a white-collar liberal (by which I mean a traditional, not-get-dirty type) on social and economic issues. No problem there. But as to Iraq, and the use of military force generally, Justin Raimondo's comments are, as usual, spot on.

(That website, Antiwar.com, is a great place to visit for one-issue essays. The contributors are of all political stripes, from Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan on the Right, to peacenik lefties. Their common denominator: Abhorrence of war, as immoral and/or as an effective solution to disputes.)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I promise...

This is not a headline from The Onion:

"US puts up bin Laden 'Wanted' posters in Afghanistan."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

David Gergen's spot on

Ordinarily, I find Gergen too centrist in his views (he was, after all, an advisor to presidents of both parties), but this article about Obama's need for a "game-changer" presents my views precisely. I hope Obama's reading--and will follow--it, quickly.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Remember stagflation?

That's what they called the economic phenomenon, last felt during the 1970's, when prices were soaring while the economy was tanking. I hate to say it, but it's surely coming baaack!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Old news about news

Here's an article that proves its own point: a news story that, woefully belatedly, reports that media reporting of economic news lags behind both economic fact and readership interest in the state of the economy. To which I react: Duh.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I've changed my mind

I previously said I'd leave the US if McCain is elected in November. Instead, I think I'll get me one of these.

And now for some good news

Looks like all those running miles (approximately 32,000 since 1976, and still counting) will stand me in good stead.

How about these stories for irony?

The president of Georgia, having sent to Iraq the largest contingent of soldiers outside of those of Britain and the United States, in order to curry favor with Bush, is now withdrawing its troops because of Georgia's hostilities with Russia. And guess what: Their departure leaves unguarded several border crossings between Iraq and Iran, which the US contends are avenues for smuggling arms into Iraq.

Small world, eh?

And, get this: Iraq's government has okayed its first huge oilfield-development deal with a foreign government, namely, China. I'd love to be a fly on the wall in Cheney's office right now.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

"Why McCain May Well Win"

This article by Robert Parry summarizes aptly my feelings about the corporate media and the prospect of the imminent failure of the American experiment in capitalist democracy.

I'll say it again: If McCain wins, I'm outta here.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Below the radar, or off it entirely

It's eight am on Friday, August 8, and already the news that bin Laden's "driver" was given a mere slap on the wrist by way of sentence by the military jury has dropped from the news cycle. The sentence was rendered yesterday, but as of this moment the reports of it aren't shown on the front news pages of Google, Yahoo!, or Reuters.

If he'd gotten life, as was possible, the news would be everywhere. Or am I missing something?

Two clear choices

Okay, I've made up my mind. If McCain is elected, I'm moving to some other English-speaking nation. And if this professor's concept is adopted, I'm moving to some other galaxy.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Nonsense

This long-winded article about a supposed "shift" in US approach to combatting global terrorism is, at best, gobbledigook (sp?) and at worst maddeningly misguided. The piece tries to make some distinction between what the US has wrongheadedly done in the past with what it proposes to do, with equal ignorance, hereafter to "defeat terrorism."

God help us. We're governed by evil idiots. Can't anyone in power see that we're despised because of what we do in the world, and that the only way to quell the hatred the "third world" populations feel for us is to change what we do?

Am I missing something?

Odd, incompetent, or what?

Here's a report of a reaction-test performed by a lab upon 300-plus Americans, using mouse-responses during quick intervals while watching McCain's negative "celebrity" ads about Obama. The lede of the report, which is accurate, states that among Republican viewers, after watching the ads, more reacted negatively toward McCain than reacted positively. The same is true of those viewers who deemed themselves "independent" voters. But what the article fails to state--a remarkable omission, due, probably, to incompetent reporting--is that among the one-third of the viewers who called themselves Democrats, the reaction to the ad was to increase McCain's "favorability," and by a margin similar to that by which McCain's favorability fell among Republicans after viewing the ad.

Does this mean that Democrats are dumber than Republicans and Independents? Or what?

You go, girl

After weeks of silence, she breaches!

Running like crazy?

I've been a jogger/runner for thirty-one years, since 1977, when, after viewing the movie "Rocky," I got semi-serious (actually, delete the "semi") about exercise. Since then, I figure, I've run father than the circumference of Earth (average 20 miles per week, 50 weeks per year, 1000 miles per year for 31 years=31,000 miles).

So now I know why I'm such an ardent Obama supporter. Because I'm smart.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Iraq, uncovered

For those of you who want objective, in-depth coverage of current events in Iraq (and elsewhere in the Middle East), Iraqslogger is an invaluable site. Some of its feature articles are subscription-only, but many of the items aren't, and the links to other sources work well. Of particular merit, I think, are the blogs that are shown along the right-hand column of the home page (scroll down a bit), including the McClatchy blog. It's written by Iraqi reporters for McClatchy, and recall that McClatchy (then Knight-Ridder) was the only mainstream journalism source that presented reports questioning Bush's decision to invade Iraq.

There are other links, too: Iraq business articles, news of political developments throughout the nation (not just Baghdad), US military reports, and so on. It's a good way to satisfy yourself that you're staying abreast of what's happening in the nation we continue to occupy by force of arms.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Texas don't bow to nobody

Not when it comes to killing Mexicans.

(As background, one of my former law partners handled a case that contained this issue: the obligation of state authorities to follow the Vienna Convention by advising arrested foreign nationals of their right to consult their own national representatives before and during trial.)

Sunday, August 03, 2008

My reaction to "privatizing" US infrastructure?

I can see it now: McDonald's toll booths, asking if we want fries with that, as we stop-and-go along the 101.

Friday, August 01, 2008

I don't get it, just don't get it

The Iraq war was about oil. No, it was about "democratizing the Middle East." No, it was to "make America secure," or "to get even with Saddam Hussein's attempt on Papa Bush's life," or to "create a legacy for Shrub."

Well, what I don't get is this: Why is it so hard for pundits to realize that even the Bushies are capable of rational thoughts. And the rational thoughts that formed the bases for our invasion and occupation of Iraq are all of the above, plus another compelling one: The NeoCons' desire to make Israel secure from its neighbors' hostile intent.

How hard is it to imagine a bunch of folks--Rummie, Wolfie, Condi, Cheney, Bush, Libby, Addington, and three or four more--seated comfortably in the Oval Office tossing about justifications for the Iraq invasion? Some of them--Wolfie, certainly, and Libby--may have harbored the NeoCons' basic reason most dearly; others--Cheney, Condi--the oil rationale; others--Bush, for sure--the legacy and the get-even justification. And all of them would have wrapped their reasoning in the "democratization" rubric and the US-security b.s. as cover for their underlying wants.

I'm certain Alexander wanted both land and trade routes, the Brits both goods and spoils, the Spaniards both gold and territory. I mean, we humans are complex enough to think more than one thought at a time, right?

So, why did the Bush administration attack Iraq? For all of the above reasons, and perhaps for others that I'm not diabolical enough to imagine.

"It's quarter to three..."

One problem with battling a bit of a flu bug is that I find myself going to bed early (around eight pm), only to awaken about now--two-thirty am--and needing some distraction before I can return to sleep. On the first Friday of each month such a distraction is, of course, the release of the previous month's job-creation figures by the US Department of Labor, which is scheduled for 8:30 am, EDT, or about two hours from now.

As you doubtless know, Bush's "strong economy" has produced net job losses for the last several months, an economic factor which, along with many more, indicate that the US economy is in the ditch. Some of the other indicators: record prices for gasoline, crude oil and oil-based products--everything from plastics to perfumes; increasing food prices; loss of high-skilled jobs in manufacturing, aviation and the like, producing a declining wage base; tightening of credit due to loss of confidence (as well as cash) by lenders, complicated by the slumping housing market which has cost homeowners trillions of dollars of wealth and dried up their source of borrowing. And on and on.

And so, it is with some trepidation that I await (although I may not be able to stay awake until then) the upcoming release of US job-creation numbers. It's predicted that there will be a net job loss in the range of 50,000. If it's substantially more than that, it's time to learn Spanish, bigtime.

Update: 51,000 lost jobs. The seventh consecutive monthly loss. Unemployment rate jumps to 5.7%, which is going to frighten investors, I predict, when the market opens in an hour.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I've got a bad, bad cold, and so...

I'm abed and websurfing and have re-encountered this site, which is a gem. I recommend it for all curious folks, whether or not their noses are running constantly.

Obama at Chicago Law

This NYT piece about Barack Obama's law-teaching experience is quite interesting. I get the impression that the author was seeking "an answer" about Obama--his leanings, his legal sentiments--and was frustrated by not being able to pin down a precise definition. Recall, the University of Chicago--one of the fine law schools in the nation--has historically been known as a "conservative" institution, unlike Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Georgetown and most others in the top tier; and so I don't doubt that Obama's fellow professors and his students might not be able, or willing, to stake out a defined position about the man's teachings.

Indeed, because I was so immersed in my own law-school experience, as a student and editor, a graduate student, then later as a teacher of legal writing, I found this presentation of Obama's experience intriguing. I would love to have had him as a student, would love to have taken a course from him, would love to talk law with him, anytime, anywhere. In fact, if anything, this article makes me want Obama to lead our nation more than ever.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The future of Iraq

Here's an article about the US Air Force role in Iraq, a role that will evolve (increase) when the number of our combat troops is drawn down. (Don't think for a minute that whoever the President is, he will allow Iraq to fall into anti-American chaos.)

And if it struck you (as it did me) that our Air Force's involvement was problematic, check out the last two paragraphs of the article, which demonstrate that we'll be occupying a "sovereign" Iraq forever, but largely, hereafter, from the sky.

That was then, this is now

What a great time to be a renter, when home prices--and hence values--are dropping at a record rate. I get a kick out of reflecting on Bush's constant speechifying a few years ago about how home ownership was increasing in America, a phenomenon, we now realize (and some of us did then) was the direct result of financing scams that have since collapsed.

And then there's this story. Says it all, doesn't it?

Monday, July 28, 2008

A daily read

I receive by early-morning email this daily newsletter. I find it's an effective filter of the leading news stories, each with a link to the original publication, and unlike other sources it's not overbearingly extensive.

Today's news is so bad, it's frightening. Increases in numbers of cars in India; China's new insistence on driving bigger autos ("size matters in China"); a pullback of exports of oil by Mexico to US refineries--all driving up the price of gasoline here to levels that won't recede substantially, ever again. A failure of our "anti-terror" efforts in Pakistan, the ongoing frauds committed by private contractors in Iraq, the absurd show trials in Guantanamo. And these stories, mind you, are all from mainstream media sources, and I haven't included a mass killing in the US and a bombing spree in India.

"I read the news today...Oh, boy."

Friday, July 25, 2008

Deckchair arrangement

Yup--Those ones on the Titanic. That's what was happening before John Conyers' House Judiciary Committee hearings today at which a few of the most vociferous Bush-impeachment oracles were allowed a momentary public (C-Span) forum. And then, of course, quick closure.

Okay, Bush will get away with it. But didn't Caligula, didn't King George III, didn't, in fact, Hitler? I mean, sure, he had to kill himself to avoid humiliation, but he was in a palsied state, hidden in a bunker. A quick bullet, a bit of gasoline with his mistress in a shallow grave, and outtahere!

No, except for Nixon--who faced a negative Congress in a negative time--our system doesn't work. Nor do most systems. And, after all these decades--centuries, really--of decadence, I'm not sure it's even the best system there is. America, my country, you suck.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Have I sold out, am I getting old, or am I finally getting it?

I agree with articles such as this one that complain that Obama's views on various matters--including, most troublingly, the "war on terror" concept--aren't "progressive," in the sense that they seem to be in the same mold as the views of those who got us here. I mean, the idea that we've got to "make war" on all sorts of things--some cadres of bad guys in the desert, in the hills of Columbia, at the borders of America; even on poverty and drugs--is a monstrous way to view the world and the human condition.

But that's whaddup these days. The media, the mainstream of American thought, the vast majority of politicians--everything--cast our difficulties in such terms. So--what's Obama to do: talk like seers such as Nader and Kucinich, from the fringe of politics, and forever remain there? Or must he--and we as Obama's supporters--talk the talk f0r now, in order to walk a different path in the future?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Blunder or lie?

Much has been made of McCain's erroreous attribution of the success of the Sunni "awakening" to the "surge" in US troops in Iraq. It is called a blunder, a mistaken timeline, in which he states that the Sunni's actions against al-Qaeda were made possible by the increase in US troops. Of course, this is false, since the surge didn't begin until the "awakening" was well underway.

Is this a miscue by McCain? Is it a mis-recollection? Or is McCain simply lying?

Another question: Why doesn't the corporate media ask that last question?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Amazing, absolutely amazing

Obama takes the world tour that McCain challenged him to do. Obama is well received at his various stops, creating news stories wherever he goes, generating favorable coverage here in the US and around the globe. And so--what becomes the storyline for all this? Of course, it's "Obama's coverage in the media is unfairly biased in his favor."

Karl Rove's maxim: Attack your opponent's strength (in 2000 it was that Gore's too intellectual and a wussie; in 2004 it was that Kerry's a fraudulent soldier), so that whenever his positive message is presented, it's colored negatively by the tag-along story. From now on in the 2008 campaign, not only will the media be mindful of, and resistant to, favorable coverage of Obama; the audience will too. The positive message will carry the negative message along with it.

And you don't think Rove's a genius?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Get out your statute books

It's time to learn California's voting laws--sufficient to establish residency in San Francisco in time for November's referendum on this vital question.

Frightening

I just read an observation (a comment on the BBC website) that chilled me to the bones: "Remember, the American voters were imbecilic enough to re-elect Bush in 2004 by a larger margin than they elected him four years earlier; and this after he'd displayed unsurpassed incompetence and arrogance for his entire first term. Don't be surprised, therefore, if they demonstrate that same idiocy in 2008 by electing McCain to continue Bush's presidency. Someone once said 'stupid is as stupid does.' I'm not certain what that means, but let's hope it doesn't mean McCain will likely win election."

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Letter to the editor

To the editor:

Here's a letter I wrote yesterday to the SB News-Press. I'll let you know if it gets published.

Update: It was published in the News-Press on Saturday, 7/11/08.


Let's see... The majority of Iraqis want the US to end its occupation of their nation. The "sovereign" government of Iraq demands a timeline for our departure. The strong majority of Americans desire an orderly withdrawal of US troops, as does the presumptive Democratic nominee for President.
So, one is compelled to ask: Who is it that continues to insist that our troops remain in Iraq, with continuing exposure to violent death and injury due to hostile fire, and further alienating Iraqis and incurring the disdain of peoples around the world?
The answer is of course obvious. There are three powerful people--three men--whose continued militant defiance flaunts the urgent demands of billions of other citizens of the planet: Bush, Cheney and their desired
replacement--indeed, their surrogate--Senator John McCain.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

A day in the life

of a student in Baghdad. What misery, with razor wire and concrete barriers, hour-long carpools to take an entrance exam, armed protection at the test site. This is Bush's legacy: a wrecked nation.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Movie plots

Something completely different. In this report of audience and critical reaction to a mid-movie plot twist in the recently-released "Hancock," the writer lists other movies with significant twists. Many are my favorites, like "The Usual Suspects," "Chinatown" and, of course, "Psycho."

Your favorites?

Sunday, July 06, 2008

I have drunk the Kool-Aid

The media--leftist, rightist and corporate (the latter two being duplicative)--have struck a chorus recently criticizing Obama for "moving to the right" or "becoming nuanced" in his pronouncements about the Iraq occupation, the FISA amendments, gun control and so forth. Indeed, I've joined the chorus in my private discussions. But now, on reflection, I've decided: I'm supporting Obama, ardently, by activism as well as monetary contributions to his campaign. He may not be perfect in his positions, maybe not in his person, either. But he surely is the finest candidate for president that has come along in a long time, perhaps in my lifetime. I've decided I'll forgive him everything (well, almost everything) between now and November, and go to the barricades for his election. Why? Because I must.

I'm in good company

I've always--that is, since I was socially aware--believed that socialism is the proper method by which to organize modern society. That is, I've never fully supported a rigorous communism, but I'm also skeptical of the benefits of unbridled capitalism. It's good to know I'm not alone in these beliefs, and that a man with a bright mind agrees with me, and for largely the same reasons.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Thursday, July 03, 2008

It's not just US

the economies of the entire world's nations are crumbling.

At the bottom of the article, the suggestion is made that our fellow "rich" nations will express concern about the weak US dollar, namely, that it's causing the rise in oil prices, priced of course in "petrodollars." Of course, that's true, and in part explains the increasing price of oil. But what can the US do? If it decides to "strengthen" the dollar by, for example, increasing interest rates on borrowing, its economy, already in the tank will drop even deeper. If it does nothing, inflation--derived from high oil prices, mostly--will continue to spiral out of control.

Thanks, George.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Monday, June 30, 2008

Rebuilding the world

I just watched some mid-range State Department official under the Bush Administration on C-Span. He was talking about supporting and rebuilding Pakistan so that it would be able to suppress terrorists in its midst. Pakistan? Afghanistan? Iraq? Isn't this rebuilding-the-planet thing getting a bit old, and expensive?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Nader's remarks about Obama

As a die-hard Ralph Nader fan--I voted for him in 2000 and don't blame him, not one whit, for Gore's losing the election--I'm compelled to say that Nader's statements today about "white guilt" and Obama's failure to address inner-city poverty issues are, to be generous, poorly articulated. I agree with the thrust of Nader's intent, which was, I think, to point out that Obama's positions as the Democratic nominee for President are no different from the articulations of such nominees in the past, namely, nonthreatening pap about hope and change and equality. If Nader had stopped there, I'd agree wholeheartedly, because I've now come to see Obama as "merely a politician," whereas I'd heretofore seen him as a transformative historical figure.

But my support of Obama's candidacy isn't out of "white guilt," nor do I think Obama has appealed to that. True, he hasn't adopted the rhetoric of "black candidates" who've championed the economic and social plight of lower-income, city-dwelling blacks. But he's not running for Congress from a ghetto district, he's running for President of all Americans, and his rhetoric reflects that. I believe Obama's the best candidate in a long time--perhaps since our nation's founding--from the standpoint of representing the interests and aspirations of poor and middle-class Americans. And that's not because I feel guilty, but because I feel, finally, vindicated and hopeful that at long last our politics and our culture can address that burning issue.

Nader's remarks were, I think, too abrasive a means to convey--to remind us--that is that we still have a long way to go before any candidate may point out, as directly as Nader repeatedly does, what ails America--its rampant consumerism, its evil gap between rich and poor, its corporate-dominated culture and economic system. John Edwards (whom Nader endorsed) said some of these things, and look where that got him.

So, I agree with much of the content of what Nader said about Obama's campaign and about the state of the major parties' nomination process generally. I just wish he'd said it with a bit more aplomb.

A repeat of a story

I seem to recall blogging about San Francisco's referendum to name its sewage plant after Bush, but this article is so amusing, as are the comments, that it deserves another post.

("He's done so much for the affluent that he deserves to have effluent named after him." Priceless.)

What a piece of crap

This article by AP writers, including its headline, is so misleading as to be fraudulent. When--not until the middle of the article--the poll numbers are finally disclosed, it may be seen that the difference in responders' attitudes toward the candidates' handling of the Iraq occupation isn't dramatic at all, the difference of six percentage points (39% to 33%). The entire article, however, is canted toward the headline's assertion that McCain is seen as more capable of handling Iraq, even though the percentages don't bear that out, less than half of the responders being of that opinion.

That's biased reporting if I ever saw it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What's worse than recession?

What we're entering now: Stagflation.

I hate when that happens

A pro-Coalition city councilman opens fire on American troops, killing two. Will the corporate media carry this story?

The "Brandeis brief"

In law school, we learned that Justice Louis Brandeis, one of the most potent minds ever to sit on the Supreme Court, would buttress his legal arguments with factual recitations--extensive statistical data that overwhelmingly bore out his opinions.

Compare that to Scalia's recent factual fart.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marjorie-cohn/scalia-cites-false-inform_b_108682.html

Says alot about the state of the Supreme Court, and for that matter, the state of the nation, eh?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Turn out the lights

the party's over--so says a Texas Congressman, whose remarks about light bulbs are right on. Video.

The state of Iraq

Here's Juan Cole's calculation of what the last twenty years have done to Iraq. Read it and weep.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Doing the math

Here's a succinct digest of the status of the likely Electoral College breakdown, at least as the present polling numbers reveal. Conclusion: Webb from Virginia for veep; and we all travel to Nevada to work for Obama this fall.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A nation of impoverished sheep

If these figures don't cause you to leap over the barricades, what will?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I'm in mourning

but not for Russert. For someone really important.

A quiz

Which is the more amazing development on this Monday?:

Al Gore endorses Barack Obama for president.

Tiger Woods wins playoff to capture US Open golf tournament.

Answer: Neither.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"It is a good day to die"

One of the finest lines of movie dialog--from "Little Big Man"--seems apt to me this evening, as I read this sad report about the effects of climate change in Africa. Better to bail out now, I say, than to await the catastrophe that will inevitably envelop the rest of humanity.

But then, I think, what about my child, and her child? Shouldn't I hang around as long as I can, and do as much as I can to help them avoid what my generation--I--have wrought?

And then I think this: I have no choice. I'll live as long as I live, and I'll do as much as I can.

WTF????

The Chief Judge of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit--the boss of the largest federal circuit in the US, and the position of the federal appellate judge for whom I labored as his only lawclerk for more than a year in 1966-67--has a website with pornographic photos?

I cannot be so. Right?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

CBS? NBC? ABC? CNN? MSNBC?

None of the above. In order to learn of the extent of graft and corruption and lost billions of dollars in Iraq, it takes the BBC to uncover and report it.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Just so you know...

Here's a link to a succinct recital of the military/insurgent/violent acts in Iraq and Afghanistan, assembled from daily reports "on the ground." Not a pretty picture. I've referred to it earlier, but because the corporate media has ceased reporting the ongoing violence in our two "wars," I thought it necessary to mention the site again. Whoever coined, "Out of sight, out of mind" sure knew what he was saying.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Idiots, idiots

This is a rant, so don't expect links to sites or cites to authorities. Just my own authority as a student of political science in college, a student of politics since college, and a student of current affairs.

Underway--without much mention in the US, but under intense protest in Iraq--are negotiations, soon to be completed, of an agreement between the US and Iraq that governs our forces in that country. There are provisions about our troops' presence, their powers and immunities, their relationship to Iraq and the US, and, of course, the bases they inhabit and the weapons they use. It's a detailed exposition of this country's military, economic and political future in the Middle East, set forth in a binding agreement.

Many Iraqis are protesting such a deal as infringing on their sovereignty, and as not within the power of the present (puppet) administration of Iraq. They insist that any such agreement be subject to a national referendum, which the Iraq administration is resisting, knowing that the deal will be defeated if subjected to a popular vote.

Meanwhile, here in the US, there's nothing. Yes, there are some spineless protest letters from Senators, addressed to the White House, insisting that there be no provisions in such an agreement obligating the US to intervene militarily on Iraq's behalf--that would require a treaty, the Senators say, which would be subject to Congressional approval. But I haven't heard or seen a peep from the media about the incipient deal, even though it could cost America billions of dollars and countless lives, for an indeterminate period in the future, certainly well into the term of the next administration.

Wake up, America! Wake up, media! Wake up, Congress! The monsters who brought you this evil war and occupation are attempting to bind you to continue it indefinitely, to fix it so that no matter who takes over the administration they will be hamstrung by this odious, horrific deal. And, if you don't think it's odious and horrific, here's a brief exposition of its terms, as presently on the table.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

You know you've backed the right candidate

when he and his wife greet each other at their moment of triumph with a fist bump.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Spineless Anglos

Ya know, when I watched Lawrence of Arabia for the tenth time, it finally occured to me: The Arabs are finer folk than we occupiers, at least they are finer when it comes to their reaction to invasion and occupation of their lands.

Well, it turns out that eighty years after Lawrence, they're still a grander folk than we. They, unlike placid Americians, demand that our occupation cease, while we do nothing to end it.

What's the appropriate adage?

The Pentagon's answer to keeping watch on the conduct of private companies that are performing military and quasi-military work in Iraq is to outsource the monitoring of those companies to a private company.

Is this a lunatics/asylum circumstance, or a fox/henhouse situation, or what, exactly?

Monday, June 02, 2008

We have met the enemy and he is us

In yesterday's 60-Minutes segment about the Army's new toy--a ray gun that strikes and momentarily disables humans from hundreds of yards away with an extreme blast of heat--the device was tested on "protesters." And, boys and girls, guess what the signs held by some of these protesters read. Yup, you guessed it: "Peace Not War."

Fair game, don't you think?

The trouble with growing older

is that I probably won't be around to learn definitively whether future historians--those who after all these years have finally concluded that the Bay of Tonkin Resolution that dragged the US into war with North Vietnam was based on falsified information--will establish as truth the fact that the Bush administration misled the American people into invading Iraq. As the list of those who so contend grows--the latest being Scott McClellan--I'm hopeful the truth will emerge sooner rather than later, especially when world leaders, like Australia's new PM, appear to adopt that position.

I won't be satisfied with a "he-said, she-said" stalemate; I want a firmly established line. Trouble is, that usually takes at least a generation to materialize, and I don't have the time.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Even if we don't care

about our long-term occupation of Iraq, at least they do.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

In case you missed it

Here's a 1956 movie about the wonders of Saran Wrap. It's only 21 minutes long, but once it loads you can click the advance bar forward, because I gotta tell ya, it's awful viewing.

Outrage is too mild a word

to describe my reaction to this.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The last straw

The Iraqi "government" is at best incompetent, but they're not this dumb, are they? I mean this summer their people can survive without clean water, without electricity, without security. But without soccer?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Heavy reading

Here's a detailed article about the progress (meaning progression) in Iraq over the five-plus years of the US invasion and occupation. Its conclusion is not comforting; but its perspective is sound. (pdf)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Hillary Clinton is so over

after her "I'm hanging in there until Obama's assassinated" remark. I mean, it's not just tasteless and stupid and callous, but given the color of her opponent's skin, it's pretty fuckin' frightening.

Question one: Is this the person you want picking up the telephone at three a.m.?

Question two: Imagine if McCain had said something like that. The entire election would be over, now, in May.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

It's not the crime...

it's the cover-up.

Update: According to the same source, the magic date for the release of McCain's medical records, previously fixed for May 15, has been moved--to tomorrow.

Don't hold your breath.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Dear editor

Herewith is a "letter to the editor" of the SB News-Press that I emailed this evening. I'll let you know if it gets publishsed.

Remember those phrases from previous presidential elections?: “Give us a choice, not an echo!” and “Tweedle Dee or Tweedle Dum!” Those were the outcries of many American voters when the candidates of the two major political parties didn’t seem to differ much on policy, purpose or practice.

Of course the candidates claimed they differed greatly, but we knew better. No matter which of them prevailed, America would stay on the same course, a course it pursued with fervor and certainty except when the interruptions of FDR—with later assistance by JFK and (yes) LBJ—altered America’s course for our common good. But in the four-plus decades since the last true “choice not an echo”—embodied in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965—we’ve not really had much choice.

Well, now we do. As Barack Obama’s supporters chant, “Not This Time.” Not this time will Americans be cowed by fear of adversaries, by fear of the unknown, by fear of the future. This time the choice is between courage and confidence on the one hand, and fear and cowardice on the other. The choice is between offering America’s outstretched arms to the world’s poor and needy, to the despoiled planet, to its global adversaries; or simply continuing to train America’s armaments against perceived enemies while ignoring the true causes of the planet’s ills.

It’s a choice I, and, let us hope, a majority of Americans welcome.





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My stimulus

Okay, I got my rebate check for $300 (single filer with little income last year). So here's what I did with it. I cashed it, put the three hundred (four fifties, five twenties) in my wallet and walked out into the world feeling not a bit stimulated. Certainly not wealthier, and, as it happens, not a bit inclined to stimulate the American economy.

But it so happened that my running shoes had run out of bounce, and so I did buy a new pair of New Balance shoes on sale at Big 5. Price (a clearance price): $39.00. And, of course, made in China.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Saturday, May 17, 2008

You heard it here first

And I mean it. I've Googled the news-speculators, and only a few of them even mention his name, and it's way down on their list. But it's clear as a bell to me: Charles Hagel, Republican Senator from Kansas, will be Obama's veep. I won't detail why I know what I know, and why he's the perfect pick despite his ultra-conservative views on many domestic matters. I'll allow the post-facto pundits to do that, but believe me, it's Hagel.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The foreclosure crisis

must be getting serious when Sprewell can't make the payments.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Cynicism or truth

Here's a take on Obama's candidacy that you don't see everyday. Makes you (or at least me) wonder.

NYT columnist Bob Herbert

Why doesn't he say what he really means?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Baghdad burger joint

A poignant story of a small business behind the blast walls. The last lines of the article make me wonder: What responsibility do we have?

Whack-a-mole

An armistice of sorts slows the carnage in Sadr City, while the Iraqi army begins a new campaign in Mosul. War without end.

Friday, May 09, 2008

The party's over...

Iran is shifting its oil-exchange currency to euros and yens. Saddam Hussein was in process of doing so when the US invaded his nation.

Grab your coat, pay the lady in the cloakroom and hale a taxi. Get outa here. To some nation south of here, preferably, but not one that hates the dollar. Mexico, maybe, or Argentina (maybe). But not Europe or Africa or Australia. Perhaps--dare I say it?--Vietnam.

Occupation blues

The Iraqi military: Fired up and ready to go!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Is it just me

or does Hillary Clinton not only act like the Energizer Bunny in this campaign, she's beginning to look like him/her?

It makes sense to me

that conservatives are happier than liberals. Why is this so?, you ask. Because, according to the survey, they're callous, rationalizing assholes.

Good news, bad news

Good news: Obama's gonna do it!

Bad news: Sales of a just-released video game exceeded one-half billion dollars in just a few days. It's called Grand Theft Auto IV, and here's what it's about:

"Grand Theft Auto IV" follows the criminal exploits of protagonist Niko Bellic, an immigrant-turned-gangster who travels from Eastern Europe to Liberty City, the game's fictional locale based on New York City. As Bellic, players can hijack cars, earn cash for criminal activities, shoot innocent bystanders and visit strip clubs.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The madhouse that is Iraq

Nothing new, I suppose, but when "Iraqi soldiers" are arresting "Iraqi policemen" you've got to wonder which lunatics are running the asylum.

I don't know why...

but the prospect of all of us someday using Evernote bothers me, offends me, even. How about you?

Monday, May 05, 2008

You can't make this stuff up

I've long marveled at how truth is not just stranger than fiction, but that it makes fiction pale in comparison. It's true that movies and novels that show our astronauts sailing off to Mars within a single reel of film are still unrealistic, but scenes from Blade Runner and Mad Max aren't far from the present mark we're creating in the world.

And then there's this: Disneyland in Baghdad, surrounded by barbed wire adjacent to the Green Zone. You tell me: Could you sell a screenplay with such an outlandish premise?

I gotta tell ya

I'm beginning to hate Hillary Clinton. I find her marginally more tolerable than McCain to watch on TV (but of course immensely more watchable than Bush--but then, so is Mussolini).

Her latest gimmick--the "summer vacation" from federal gasoline tax, which is but a parody of McCain's, with a politically-expedient announcement of a years-later, after-the-fact "windfall-profits" tax--is merely a capper in a long string of her "say-anything-to-get-elected" ploys that have made a mess of this nation for more than a generation. She's but a chip off Bill's block (the substituting of "bl" for "c" is purposeful): President "Don't-ask-don't-tell"; President "Welfare-reform"; President "Deregulate-media-ownership"; President "Nafta-Cafta-America-afta" (I made that up, BTW.) Clinton's presidency was a disaster, saved only by a dot-com bubble. Without that--and a few saving Executive Orders in his last days, all of which were, by law, reversible (and reversed) by Bush--he wrecked the Democratic Party, turning it into an amorphous mass of yea-sayers to corporate influence.

I won't vote for McCain if Hillary's the nominee of the Democratic Party. But I sure don't know what I'll do. (Do they accept mail-in ballots from Tahiti?)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

A matter of judgment

I suppose it won't get much play in the corporate media, but the gas-tax holiday story is important, very important, in demonstrating both that Obama brings a fresh outlook to Washington and possesses judgment superior to the other two candidates for President. First, McCain proposed a suspension of the federal excise tax on gasoline, and he was then quickly followed by Hillary Clinton. Obama opposed such a measure as being merely a political gesture that would have a negative impact on the problem of gasoline consumption, while offering drivers little--and only palliative--relief.

Guess who's right, according to a host of economists, including Bush's own former chief economist.

I wonder

what was the bank's first clue that the check was forged?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Have you done this yet?

Try it, it's fun. And, if you're a believer, it's inspiring.

Brilliant, if sick

First, the North Carolina Republican Party contemplates placing an unsavory TV ad against Obama and local Democratic candidates that features Rev. Wright's "God damn America" rant. Next, McCain speaks out against the ad, saying he condemns such tactics. But, he says, he can't stop the local party from airing it. So that when the ad is evenually shown, (a) it's viewed by more than would normally view it; and (b) McCain looks like a good guy for opposing it. Talk about a two-fer.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Now wait a goddam minute

Outsourcing debt-collection phonecalls to India?

What we eat

You need to see this, and you need to scroll to the bottom.

I've never felt so powerless

I realized, when we marched against the Iraq war in early 2003, that we wouldn't stop it from happening. Once Colin Powell signed on, I realized it was just a matter of time before we invaded. Now, five-plus years later, as the ongoing carnage drifts farther and farther from our national awareness, and all efforts to stop it have come to naught, I truly despair, not just for the dead and injured, but for our nation.

And now this: Our government concealing burials of the dead at Arlington National Cemetary. More outrage--and more teeth-gritting frustration--I cannot feel.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

LOL

The other day I spotted a news report that the Baghdad city council (or whatever they call it) was contemplating passing an ordinance requiring automobile drivers and passengers to wear seatbelts. I didn't enter a post about it and can't now find the link, but I gotta admit the item raised a wry, cynical smile. Arranging deck chairs on the Titanic, or something.

But this one's too good to pass.

Monday, April 21, 2008

No mystery there

Any wonder why I moved from Arizona? Recall, this is Goldwater country, one of the few states that voted from him in 1964.

(To be fair, these numbers are driven by the deep-conservative hordes in and around Phoenix, and in the backcountry. The Tucson area, where I'm from, is quite liberal, still.)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

I oppose capital punishment

but if I didn't, here are some folks I would hang.

"Unmitigated disaster"

For some reason--could it be because they invented the language?--the British newspapers describe the Iraqi military's effort in Basra with a pithy accuracy that is missing from the US media.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Letter to the editor

I've had success lately in getting my letters to the SB News-Press published. Here's my latest. I'll let you know if they print it.

Update: It appeared in the newpaper on Friday, April 18.

To the editor:

Consider me a "bitter small-town American." True, I live in blessed Santa Barbara, California, not in Pennsylvania or Ohio or any of the other "rust-belt" states that have lost so many well-paying jobs in the last twenty years, without recourse or redress. But I, like most Americans, have seen my civil liberties vanish, my health-care costs increase, my gasoline and grocery prices skyrocket, my Earth deteriorate, my national debt explode, my nation wage an immoral war and incur the disdain of billions of fellow humans.

To be sure, I don't "cling" to guns or religion as a result, and I don't take my bitterness out on immigrants. But I surely do blame the Bush/Cheney/Clinton line of leaders, as well as the rest of the media and political cabal, that doesn't respond to the needs of ordinary Americans. I want--I yearn for--America to change, fundamentally. I want Americans to run America again.

I therefore support Barack Obama for president, because of the remaining candidates, only he, to his credit, "gets it"; and only he, however inartfully, addresses it.

Uh, oh

Could this be a first flicker of a sellout? (Check out what's on Obama's lapel during this talk in "small town" Pennsylvania.)

I have a dream...

that such a man--not Bryant Gumbel, the other man--is our president. After viewing this video, how can any sentient U.S. male not agree?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Okay, maybe I'm no genius

but am I the only sentient progressive Obama supporter who's thought of starting a movement (triggered and fueled by a website, of course) entitled, "Small-town bitter Americans for Obama"? I'm of course disqualified from doing so because SB is hardly an embittered locale, nor does my comfortably retired status make me (necessarily, financially) embittered, but C'mon guys, get with it! Not only will such a movement defuse by ridicule the Clinton/McCain rhetoric, it might actually catch on as a catch-phrase for reality. I mean, after all, as he did with the race thing, Obama in a few words (perhaps not all well-chosen) captured an American reality, and we ought to be embracing and fostering it, not running from it.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Obama--Oh, really?

Here's a complete, unspun exposition of the supposedly anti-small-town remarks the Obama made to a California fundraising audience. You tell me: Is this truth, or is it denigration?

And here's Obama's reply to Hillary and McCain, who attacked Obama's comments as being condescending to working stiffs, as being outrageous and out of touch with America's mainstream: I'm right. I'm in touch. I speak truth to reality.

I must say, Obama's good. In fact, great.

Monday, April 07, 2008

If I'm Hillary

I'd quit when this happens.

Say it isn't so

CBS News--the revered Columbia Broadcasting System, home of Cronkite, Severeid, Murrow, many others--is considering using CNN's facilities and broadcasters to augment its reporting? As much as I like Anderson Cooper, are we talking Larry King? Ohmigod.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Friday, April 04, 2008

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Wonderful, wonderful

Here's a multi-faceted presentation: Essay, with links to video and graphics, of Howard Zinn's just-published book about American imperialism. A gem.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Too cool

Can I get a napkin, please?

I don't get it

This essay in Time magazine about the perils of the world's (especially America's) switch to biofuels for power is frightening, but what is most frightening is how late in the game it is for us to have realized this. Anyone with common sense could have predicted this scary outcome, and, for that matter, the inadequacies and repercussions of using land and its foodstuffs for fuel.

Friday, March 28, 2008

A test of Iraq's army?

Bush is applauding the recent assaults by al Malaki's forces on the Shiite militias, claiming that they're evidence that the surge is working by showing how well the Iraqi army can stand up against its adversaries. Well, look again. In Baghdad, the US is augmenting Iraq's forces with both air attacks and armored assault vehicles. In other words, all that the surge has accomplished is to change the color of the faces of the troops wearing boots, reducing our casualties on the ground while we supply fire from above and from behind solid steel barriers.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The audacity of spin

The Pentagon's announcement that the recent increase in violence in Iraq is evidence that Bush's "surge" is working? I'm not making it up.

Anderson Cooper deserves a look

I happen to be a fan of this reporter on CNN, because he does his job well--good delivery, good balance--and now he's done some spadework and commentary on the Rev. Wright thing that really deserves credit. On his blog, he quotes a long segment of Wright's entire sermon in which the "chickens coming home to roost" remark was made, placing it into perspective. Good for AC.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Fickle folks

I get it now, finally. The "surge" was Rove's way of kicking the can down the road, not just to the next president, but as a way to extend, and hence bore the public with, the Iraq war and occupation. He realized that there's no drama in Iraq anymore--no stories of heroism, no torture mess--and that therefore the media would slow down its coverage and the American public would move on to the state of the economy and Spitzer's failings and so on.

And of course Rove was right.

It's comforting to see

that celebrities have their ups and downs too. (Most distressing, to me, is #10 in the slide show: Val Kilmer, an unlikely Batman lately.)

Hmm...Maybe I should rethink

that "organ donor" designation on my driver's license.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Is all lost?

I happened to be watching the recent interview of Barack Obama in which he said something like "My grandmother is a typical white person," the same grandmother of whom Obama had previously said, as part of his landmark speech about race, that she sometimes harbored fears of blacks and spoke in stereotypical terms about them.

My reaction to his "typical white person"comment was immediate. I knew two things: First, that it would add two more days to the news cycle on Obama's race-thingee; and second, that the Right would spin the remark into something damaging to Obama, likely that he was denigrating whites, painting them as racist as a group, and hence displaying his own racism.

Of course I was right on both counts. But my problem isn't with the Right's reaction, but rather with my own, a cringe. I realized that I wanted the racism question to go away, to disappear into the shadows, the same shadows that Obama's speech had shed light on. I was, I realized, part of that culture that would talk about race in private, but was still fearful of addressing it as a matter of public concern, and most fearful of a black person addressing it.

If I cringed--I, an enlightened one--is it likely that others could overcome that reaction? Can we change a culture--or even honestly acknowledge one of its powerful memes--in time to vote a truth-speaking black person into our highest office? Can we even nominate such a person to run for it? I'm beginning to think not.

Monday, March 17, 2008

One solution to the high price of crude oil

It seems to be working, too: Ruin the American economy, so it drags down the global economy, so that demand for oil declines, and the bidding price for future oil deliveries declines.

Is this burning the barn to roast the pig? Your suggested adage?

Must-see video

Baghdad, city of walls. (Four minutes)

It all adds up

Just so you know (although the Corporate Media doesn't tell you): In the thirteen months since "the surge" began, the average daily number of American troop deaths has been 2.34, almost identical to the daily average during the entire five-year war (2.36). At this rate, in about fifty years the number of deaths of US troops in Iraq will equal the number of dead troops in the VietNam war (about 60,000). Fifty years, which is just about when McCain and his buddies will finally withdraw our troops from Iraq, because by then we'll have sucked up all their oil.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Horror of horrors

This is most enduring Bush legacy, and it's awful.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Bumpersnickers

I've seen some great ones lately. My favorites:

"The more people I meet, the more I like my dog."

"Where is Bush taking Americans? And why are we in this handbasket?"

And the last one, presumably an observation about McCain's melodic "Bomb, bomb Iran" reference:

"McCain: Putting the laughter back into slaughter."

Okay, I admit it

When it comes to choosing a Democratic "dream ticket" for president and veep, I'm not perfect.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

All the news that's fit to surf

You know you're a political junkie when you visit this webpage, displaying the counties of Wyoming and how each of them voted in yesterday's caucuses, which resulted in an Obama victory. You know, further, that your addiction is boundless when you roll your cursor over the counties to learn the tallies of each, including that of Hot Springs county (in the center of the state) where the vote was 31 Obama, 22 Clinton, 11 uncommitted. I had more people than that in my homeroom class at Sam Hughes elementary.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

A day in the life

of the so-called "improving" Iraq.

Time to take the gloves off

Okay, now I'm getting pissed. Here's a video spot on Hillary's website showing a blackened, widened image of Obama, and presenting a lying message about his subcommittee, and here's a detailed analysis of the spot, showing why the HRC campaign must be stopped.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Monday, March 03, 2008

I missed my calling

I shoulda hired onto The Onion staff, so I could think up stuff like this. What a great gig!

Tough duty

Over last weekend and today, I've been making Obama-support calls into Texas precincts. We have a script (from which we vary alot), essentially asking voters to support Barack in the primary election and to remember to caucus later that same Tuesday to select more delegates. It's a peculiarity of Texas Democratic politics that they have some combination of caucus and election on the same day, with the primary election itself being an "open" primary, i.e., anybody can vote in it: Democrats, unaffiliated voters or Republicans.

Well, I gotta tell ya, it ain't been heartening. From "Go to hell" to "Go elsewhere" it's been a long, hard telephonic slog. And even those folks who've been knowledgeable about the process have avoided committing to Obama. Some of this may be due to his color, some due to the sections of Texas covered by the area codes I was given (southeast Texas--truly backcountry), but some of it may be due to Rush Limbaugh, who's no dummy.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Touche

YouTube, I love you.

Why didn't I think of that?

If John McCain is eligible to be elected president because, having been born on a US Navy base in Panama, he was born on "US soil," then the US Navy base at Guantanamo, Cuba, is US soil too, and the prisons there are subject to the laws and constitution. Thus, the indefinite imprisonment without charge and trial is illegal under the Bill of Rights, as much there as if it were taking place in Santa Barbara, CA.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The fine print

Ya know, sometimes you've gotta read to the bottom of those bland newspaper articles to get the gist. Like this one that talks about the greater intensity and turnout of Democrats in the primary contests throughout the country.

Second from the last graph, as counterpoint to the Democrats' enlistment of new voters, the Republicans offer this effort in Ohio's upcoming primary:

"Maggie Nafziger, the county GOP executive director, says the database used to target such voters includes things like applications for licenses to carry a concealed weapon.
'I can find the answers to those questions on anyone in Ohio,' Nafziger tells CNN. 'Then we go after them.'"

Life's a bitch

Especially if you're hard of hearing, elderly and wearing a bulky jacket in the winter in Baghdad.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Back to the drawing board

Just last week, pundits, echoing Bush and McCain, reported that Iraq had met one of the important political "benchmarks" by adopting a plan for elections of provincial governments. Well, not so fast. Apparently, the triumvirate of something called the "presidential council," consisting of three men, a Kurd, and Sunni and a Shiite, who were required to approve the measure, didn't. And not on some insubstantial ground: there was disagreement about the power of the national government, particularly when it comes to firing the heads of the regional governments. It wasn't certain when or if these differences would be overcome, the measure having been sent back to the Iraqi parliament for further process, and it's likely that the delay will mean that the scheduled provincial elections, set for October 1, won't take place.

The Bush administration's cavalier reaction: "That's democracy." My reaction: Meanwhile our troops and treasure are being wasted.