Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Winning and losing

In any competitive enterprise, as far as I know, there are always winners and losers. This basic truth seems not to apply to U.S. "war" efforts. Apparently our military adventures are such that we cannot lose. If we appear to be losing we just continue the enterprise endlessy, I guess into eternity. Because we cannot lose. Thus it is that I heard the only Iraq veteran serving in Congress, when speaking about Afghanistan, say "we have to win." We don't seem to be winning there. But we keep on fighting because, apparently, "we have to win." It is as if none of these people have ever experienced (or even conceived) of losing. Has every football, basketball, baseball or other team ever not lost? Weren't we always told we should learn to be "good losers?" Weren't we all taught that "you can't win them all?" Would someone be kind enought to tell me what it is we might actually "win" in Afghanistan? If no one has ever been able to subdue Afghanistan, including the Russians with 100,000 troops, what makes us believe we can win anything. What is there to win, assuming it is even possible to win? Indeed, explain to me why we are even still there (they don't seem to have a lot of oil). Oh, right, I know, we are bringing them democracy (at the barrels of our guns). We are going to make it possible for Afghani women to wear bikinis instead of burkas. Actually, we are the goddamndest fools ever created by intelligent design.

Harry Reid, the leader of our Senate, has now decided to put off any further discussion of Iraq for a couple of weeks. Like, there is nothing going on there that requires any urgent discussion or solution or anything. Perhaps there will be a moratorium on violence while the Democrats decide what, if anything, they might decide to do. The U.S. Senate, the greatest non-deliberative body in the world. They can't even decide whether to talk about deciding. What the hell, a few more soldiers and probably hundreds more innocent Iraqis will die while our Senators suck their thumbs, but we wouldn't want to act precipitously. And we certainly wouldn't want to take any meaningful action - like impeaching the two greatest war criminals on earth, the only practical way to stop their insanity before it destroys us all. The only Congressperson that has a real plan for bringing our troops home quickly, and makes sense out of madness, Dennis Kucinich, is treated with contempt by the MSM. He is trying to sell a product no one seems to want - PEACE! We simply cannot tamper with our military/industrial/political/fascist complex. We can't afford to mess around with a functioning whole designed to insure that the rich get richer and poor get poorer. It's the American way.

Many years back a starlet had a huge St. Bernard that she named Flopalong Placidly. For some reason I cannot understand this has stayed with me all these years. When I let it, it becomes like a sickness. I tend to run these kinds of description over and over again. You know, things like Creepalong Crabbily, Runalong Rapidly, Crashalong Crabbily, Flapalong Floridly, Lopalong Lucidly, Bouncealong Bountiously, Sprintalong Splendidly, Inchalong Insipidly, Crawlalong Cautiously, and on and on. The possibilities are endless. I wish I had never heard of Flopalong Placidly. But then, I wish I had never heard of Bush/Cheney, neocons, or Republicans.

Monday, February 26, 2007

It can get worse

I find it hard to believe but, unfortunately, it can get worse. Bush/Cheney might actually attack Iran, or give license to Israel to do it (of course we would have to get involved). I am losing all faith. I no longer believe in American Democracy, I no longer believe in our leaders, their goals, their competence, their decency, or even their basic humanity. This goes for Democratic leadership as well as Republican. What on earth is it going to take to get someone, anyone, to do something about the horrors Bush/Cheney have wrought? The facts, by now, are pretty clear. The Republican Administration (Bush/Cheney and their neocon buddies) deliberately lied to lead us into an illegal, unconstitutional, immoral and unnecessary "war" against a small nation that was no threat to anyone. In the process of executing that "war" they have committed multiple and horrible war crimes - the killing of thousands of innocent civilians, torture, the use of illegal weapons of war, hiding prisoners, renditions, war profiteering, and more. They have also caused us to lose whatever moral ground we might have had and turned virtually the entire world against us.

Here at home they have abolished habeaus corpus, violated the Constitution, illegally spied on us, repeatedly lied to us, driven up the national debt to obscene heights, and are admittedly and flagrantly attempting to establish a fascist dictatorship, all of this financed by and deliberately planned by huge international corporations dedicated to returning ordinary citizens to the status of peasants and drones, laboring for less than livable wages, and totally at the mercy of our corporate owned media that no longer even pretends to give us real news about the state of the world.

So what does our supposedly opposition party do about this? Why, nothing. Our Democratic Party is so inept, so cowardly, so timid, the best they can do is pass a nonbinding resolution that our apparently otherworldly President has already said he will ignore.

So what in the hell is it going to take to do something? A majority of the American people now apparently are in favor of impeachment. Several states have suggested impeachment. The reasons for impeachment are so many and so obvious it is difficult to tell which ones to use. The case for impeachment is so clear cut and obvious it could probably be achieved in little less than an afternoon. What would be the consequences of impeachment? Who cares? Whatever they were, they could not possibly leave us in a condition any more dire than where we are at the moment. Gutless Democrats say they are afraid to cut off funding for the "war" as they would be accused of not supporting the troops. By whom? the 27% of lunatics who still claim to support this evil administration? How better to support the troops than bringing them home safely from a civil war that is none of our business (except for the fact that we created the conditions for it). The obvious solution to this dilemna and to end the "war" is IMPEACHMENT!

Of course in all the discussion over bringing the troops home and ending the "war" and avoiding chaos in Iraq (chaos which already exists), and blah, blah, blah, is the fact that no one mentions. Bush/Cheney (and I am beginning to suspect no one else, including Democrats) have no intention of ever bringing the troops home from Iraq. We are building (or have already completed) permanent bases there. We are finishing an unprecedented half billion dollar embassy as an American outpost in Iraq. We have just about finished our plan to turn over control of Iraqi oil to the major oil companies, and not on terms very favorable to Iraq (Cheney's illicit dream come true). This is why Bush/Cheney can continue to speak of "victory," because closing the deal to control their oil is what the goal has been all along. Who cares about some dead soldiers and thousands of innocent Iraqis, we're about to get our hands on that oil. And until that oil is gone Bush/Cheney are never going to bring our troops home (at least not all of them). "Defeat is not an option." Those who say "victory is not an option" are wrong, because they do not understand the Bush/Cheney definition of victory. If we have to have a never ending war to maintain control of Middle Eastern oil, so be it. Don't it make you right proud to be a Amurican?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Idaho taxes

Last night we attended a "Pizza and Politics" get together of Bonner County Democrats (Bonner County being immediately south of our Boundary County). They have lots more people and lots more money but you couldn't really tell it from the turnout (there was also no pizza). Anyway, there were a number of our Idaho Congresspersons in attendance and they gave us some idea of the problems facing a small minority, as well as some idea of some of the problems they were discussing. One of these problems has to do with the Idaho tax on food. Idaho is one of only a few states that actually taxes food. I don't know the history of this tax or who the sadist was that conceived of taxing food. It reminds me of the England of Robin Hood where no matter how poor or hungry you were, you couldn't kill or eat the King's deer. Here it doesn't matter how hungry or poor you are, you have to pay taxes on your food. I suspect the originator of this (in my opinion immoral tax) was probably the same as whoever decided we should pay our property taxes just before Christmas (but I digress).

Apparently, back in the dim, dark and limited recesses of their Republican minds they have decided to do something about this unjust tax (remember, here in Idaho we also have income taxes and property taxes). There has been some discussion of this for some time now. As I understand it, the present tax credit is $20 for residents, and $35 for those older than 65. The Senate Local Government and Taxation Committee has a bill that would increase the income-tax credit on food to $50 for most Idaho residents and $70 for seniors. When this suggested bill went forward someone wanted to reduce it to $40. Our new governor, Clement Leroy "Butch" Otter, wants to provide $90 to low income residents. There would be some kind of sliding scale as income increases from the lowest levels. You know, if you earn $25,000 per year you would pay fewer food taxes than if it were $25001. Think what this might do for income tax preparations. There are apparently a few sensible individuals who think we should just eliminate the tax on food entirely (no one takes them seriously).

I think there are unlimited possibilities here for changing the food tax, as well as unlimited problems. If we are worried about helping the poor with this tax, why not just tax expensive foods they can't afford to eat? If they are really poor they probably don't pay any food tax to begin with. So why not taxes on beluga caviar and filet mignon, to say nothing of lobster tails and wild boar? That ought to raise a lot of money in Idaho. If they insist on eating why don't they just eat stuff like liver, pigs' feet, tongue, heart and tripe? Those are relatively inexpensive and wouldn't require too much tax. And how about food stamps? Do those on food stamps have to pay food taxes or are they exempt (I confess I have no idea).

Still another problem here in North Idaho is the business of hunting. Lots of people here hunt every year and many of them live pretty much on the results of their hunting. There is no tax on deer, bear, elk, or moose meat. Nor is there any tax on ducks, geese, pheasants, grouse or wild turkeys. That doesn't seem fair. Why should some people be allowed to eat without paying any food taxes at all? This also discriminates against those who are too old or infirm or morally opposed to hunting. Is that fair? And how about fishing? You go out and catch a few trout or bass or walleye and you don't pay any tax. This seems like a really disgusting loophole. People should have to report what they kill and consume and pay taxes. Of course there should be an exemption for those trophy hunters that don't consume what they kill and just leave it to rot. Why should you have to pay a tax on something you don't eat? Then there is the problem of what is considered edible. Like, most everyone eats bear, but I don't think most hunters eat cougar. So somehow we should be able to distinguish those who eat cougar from those who don't. If you eat it, pay taxes. If you don't eat it, well, never mind.

Wolves are a separate matter. I haven't heard anyone say they want to eat wolves. They just want to kill them. Indeed, they can't even wait to kill them. They have already decided that a tag to shoot a wolf should be $9.75 (how they arrived at this figure would make an interesting research project). Our governor boasts that he would like to be the first one to shoot a wolf (at the moment it is illegal to hunt them but he and his ilk can't wait until it is possible). Maybe we should have a law that says it you shoot one you should have to eat it (and pay taxes).

The food tax also discriminates against the obese. If you are unconscionably fat you no doubt eat more that those who are not. Thus you also pay more in food taxes. Is that fair? Why should fat people have to pay more taxes than skinny people? There is also the question of age discrimination. Why should old people pay fewer food taxes than others? Old people don't eat as much food to begin with, so aren't they already getting a tax break? Maybe we could have a system wherein you pay more food taxes on foods that are not good for you than on those that are good for you. Pork ribs would have a big tax, salmon not so much. We could have a special committee down there in Boise to determine which is which. One other observation, if they can tax us for a basic necessity like food, why not tax us for water, or even the air we breath? Good grief! Don't give them any ideas (I'm sure they already have these ideas, they'll be coming along soon under the Bush/Cheney privatization conspiracy. When you hear the word privatization, guard your wallet with your life.

I hope you can see the potentials here for more and more bureacratic nonsense and a continuation of an absolutely ridiculous and discriminatory tax. The possibilities are endless. I have a simple suggestion: GET RID OF THE FOOD TAX COMPLETELY, COME TO YOUR SENSES, STOP DISCRIMINATING AGAINST THE POOR. How to do this? Well, how about a tax on services? Poor people don't require as many services. How about an increase in property taxes (no, don't die of heart failure), poor people don't own much property. I'm certain there are other possibilities as well. Whatever you do, don't allow them to kill the King's deer without paying taxes!

Would someone kindly explain to me why our local rag, The Spokesman Review, saw fit to have a front page headline and story entitled "Lobbyist takes Bible to Boise?" Some absolute nitwit ultra rightist fool believes the bible is going to tell us how to run our country?" He actually claims that "If you've got a question about science or even math, they'll (the bible) give you an answer." "Religion can guide all policies, he says," is the subheading. It's bad enough that such people actually exist, but to give them front page coverage is, as far as I now, totally unprecedented (to say nothing of stupid beyond belief). Why do I continue to subscribe to this piece of crap? It's the only game in town.

This fits in nicely with Cheney's claim that the Iraqi "war" is a "remarkable achievement." It certainly is that. The worst foreign policy blunder by far in all of U.S history by the worst gang of war criminals ever assembled in the Western world.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Impeach Cheney

Impeaching Cheney, or better yet, forcing him to resign or else be impeached makes perfect sense. Remember that Spiro Agnew was forced out of the Vice-Presidency for charges that were far less important or significant than what Cheney has been responsible for. Remember Agnew, with his "nattering nabobs of negativism" remarks. He was caught taking illegal bribes for influence - a relative nothing in our current situation of corruption, lying, theft, war profiteering, torture, and treason. Cheney has been wrong on every claim he has made about the "war" in Iraq, including his recent claim that the British withdrawal represents progress. Cheney is the evil Rasputin driving Bush the Stupid to continue his contention that things are going well in Iraq and that victory is just around the corner. He is also guilty of war profiteering big time. It is far past time that he should be held accountable and be driven out of office one way or another. It makes perfect sense for Cheney to go before Bush because that eliminates one of the arguments against impeaching Bush. Get rid of Cheney. Appoint Condi or some other useless Republican and then see what the 2008 election brings. Should be great fun, to say nothing of absolutely necessary if we are to survive another two years of the Bush/Cheney madness. Is there anyone who believes that Cheney was not behind the treasonous outing of Valerie Wilson? Is there anyone who believes Cheney did not plan the takeover of Iraqi oil along with the International Oil Companies? Is there anyone who even listens to him anymore? He is, as people used to say sometimes, "as useless as tits on a boar." In fact, he is worse than useless. He is a cancer on the Administration and should be excised as soon as possible. He wears his slimy dishonesty on his face - just look carefully. Republicans, of course, are too greedy, short-sighted, and stupid to see that Cheney is destroying their party. Hey, maybe impeaching him is not a good idea - let him continue in his destructive ways. If he had even the decency of a cockroach he would resign for "reasons of his health," or maybe, "to spend more time with his family." But no, not Dick the Slimy.

Here at Sandhill it has been snowing all day. We must have 6 to 8 inches of new snow. I don't like it much. But how can I complain when I compare it to what has been happening in the Midwest and the Northeast? Compared with those places this is the banana belt. I guess one of the problems is the fact that we had been lulled into believing we would have an early spring and now have somehow been betrayed. Actually, this happens every year here in North Idaho so I don't know why anyone should be surprised.

I have just finished The Backbone of the World by Frank Clifford. This is an account of a few hardy souls still trying to live and survive along the Continental Divide. These are mostly poor ranchers trying to cling to a way of life that is obviously on its way out. Some interesting characters and some nice descriptions of the country but nothing to keep you up at night. I am thinking of giving up reading simply because there are so many books I cannot even hope to read; this is especially true of books on politics. I bet one could spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, just trying to read all the books that are being published on politics. Help me! Help me! Tell me which books are worth reading (if any) and which are just more partisan bullshit.

Finally, I learned today what MSNBC actually stands for. Virtually the entire day today on MSNBC was devoted to the ridiculously unimportant fate Anna Nicole Smith's body and related matters. MUST SEE NOTHING BUT CRAP! Obviously nothing of importance happened anywhere else in the whole world. Oh, I forgot, there was something about Britney once in a while. But relax, be happy, its the American way.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Hillary vs Obama

It has already started, the attacks and counterattacks, and all of the madness that passes these days for political campaigns. Spielberg, Geffen, and others hosted a fund-raiser for Barack Obama, apparently a very successful one where Obama gathered up 1.3 million dollars. Lots of stars and Hollywood bigwigs attended, paying 2300 dollars for their tickets (the limit allowed for such things). So now some are arguing that Hollywood is abandoning the Clintons in favor of Obama. Such nonsense, but that is what it seems to be all about these days - nonsense. If a bunch of Hollywood wealthy people want to pay $2300 to listen to a political candidate they know little about why does that translate into such a big deal. They pay much more than that to attend a prize fight or a concert. 2300 dollars for them is about the same as my paying 10 or 12 bucks to see a movie. Much ado about nothing - except...

for the fact that Geffen, who has always been a big supporter of the Clintons, has announced his support for Obama. And he gave an interview in which he bad-mouthed the Clintons big time. Under the guise of political analysis he also got very personal, accusing the Clintons of lying and such things. He argued, among other things, that the Republicans would allow Hillary to become the Democratic candidate and then, after she was definitely the candidate, they would go after the Clintons personal lives and attributes thus defeating her in the general election. This makes some sense but cannot explain the personal diatribe that, to me, has all the attributes of a vendetta. Geffen apparently was close to the Clintons for years, socializing with them and what not. He sounds somewhat like a jilted lover. He has now said that his interview represented his personal view. I guess that would be that - except...

the Clinton campaign reacted immediately with the demand that Obama distance himself from Geffen's comments and return his money (which of course assumes that Obama was in on this attack and that Geffen was acting on his behalf). If this were so it would mean that Obama is resorting to the dirty campaign tactics that he claims to be trying to eliminate. If the comments indeed merely represent Geffen's personal beliefs why should Obama necessarily be blamed for them? And why should he return the money? Obama has replied that he does not want to be caught up in a dispute between Geffen and the Clintons (a lover's quarrel?). So it stands - except...

for the fact that the Clintons are objecting to this on the grounds that personal attacks on them should be strictly off limits. Thus, according to them, there should be no mention of Bill's impeachment, philandering, their marital relations, and so on. While on the one hand I agree that personal attacks should be off limits, it is obviously the case that Republicans are not going to play along with such ground rules. Given the Republican attack machine, and the notorious foul play of Karl Rove, it would be exceptionally naive for Hillary to believe she will not be subjected to every lie and cheap shot the Republicans can dream up. If her campaign responds immediately to every attack the campaigns will be reduced to the nastiest, bitterest, most miserable of all time. So get ready - it's the American way.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

All for naught?

After all these years the Libby trial is finally going to the jury. If he is somehow found innocent the whole episode will be over. But what happens if he is found guilty? Some seem to think that if he is found guilty and sentenced to some truly long and hard time he might break and stop protecting Cheney (there seems to be little doubt that he has all along been protecting Dick the Slimy). Personally, I don't think he'll do any hard time even if he is found guilty. He'll no doubt be sentenced for a short term to some relative country club "prison," and will be assured that the Bush mafia will take care of him and his. But there is already talk of a pardon. If he is found guilty Bush will just give him a Presidential pardon and that will be that. During the course of this trial it has become perfectly obvious that Libby was not in it all by himself. Cheney was apparently directing the whole sordid treasonous episode, Rove was involved, Hadley, McClellan, and even Bush himself. As none of these individuals were on trial, and as it is highly unlikely that Libby will "rat" on any of them (why should he if he is to be pardoned or treated with kid gloves), the prosecutors will have just wasted their time and our money. We can't even argue that a pardon would be unacceptable to the public. As Bush/Cheney's poll ratings are so low already what would they have to lose. They will no doubt just thumb their noses at us (as usual) and the Democrats will do nothing. What is worse, the Republicans will also do nothing as they thrive on lying, cheating, dishonesty, and putting party before country, crime before justice, and deceit before truth. The Republicans could have stopped all of the Bush/Cheney insanity long ago but obviously chose not to, just as they are choosing to do nothing now. I believe (and I certainly hope) this lack of morality, patriotism, and even common decency is going to result in the demise of the Republican party for many years to come. I guess I am a hopeless romantic. I still believe truth and justice will win out in the end. But if there is no truth and beauty...

Monday, February 19, 2007

So what?

How is it that Karl Rove received a copy of Novak's column outing Valerie Plame three days before it was published? Indeed, why did Rove receive a copy of it at all? Does it matter that Rove was punished by Bush's father years before for leaking to Novak? Ah, so what?

Why did Rove receive a copy of Iran's offer to negotiate with the U.S. over their nuclear program, Israel, and etc. What business was this of Rove's? And why does Condi claim she never saw a copy? Aw, so what?

Why does Karl Rove have such a high security clearance? He is merely an advisor to the President, not an elected official with duties that would require such a clearance? Oh, so what?

Is it true that George Dubya told Ariel Sharon that if they captured Osama (or was it Sadam Hussein) he would "screw him in the ass?" So what?

Is it not the case that to this day a known male prostitute was allowed repeated access to the White House when there was no apparent reason for him to be there and it remains unknown who it was that gave permission for these unusual visits? Don't ask, don't tell. So what?

Apparently Dick the Slimy knew that Libby was going to give false testimony to the grand jury. So what?

It appears that George himself (if anyone leaked I want to know about it) Bush might have been involved in the leaking of Valerie Plame's name. Well, golly, so what?

Why did John McCain claim several years ago that he supported Rove vs Wade and now he says it should be repealed? Why did he criticize Fallwell and Robertson before and now is doing everything he can to woo them? Why? Oh, so what?

How is it that the Bush/Cheney administration constantly talks about supporting our troops but cuts funding for veterans care? And how is it that the Walter Reed hospital in Washington DC has apparently turned into a cesspool of horror for our wounded veterans - peeling paint, mouse turds everywhere, filth and neglect, and so on? Oh, so what?

How is it that the House of Representatives voted against Bush's escalation of the "war" in Iraq but the Senate can't even decide to decide whether or not to even discuss it? Well, so what?

On to more important matters. Why did Britney decide to shave her head and get a new tattoo? No one seems to know although her hair is apparently going to be auctioned of for who knows what? Could it be that poor old Britney was losing out in the celebrity wars to the deceased Anna Nicole Smith? Who would want to lose out in the publicity business to a dead woman? Anyway, here is where one might honestly say, SO WHAT?

On Democracy Now today there was a marvelous interview by Amy Goodman with Chris Hedges, author of American Fascists. Hedges has taken apart the ultra right attempt to create a fascist society out of the U.S. and it is most convincing (so say nothing of frightening as hell). Falwell, Dobson, Robertson and others have not been coy about what it is they are up to, and what they are up to is nothing less than taking over control of the U.S. government and making all of us subservient to their warped view of how the world should be. Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, a former theology student at Harvard, and a veteran of years of reporting in the Middle East, has made an extremely interesting case against these fascist monsters and their collaboration with our corporate masters. This is a book that should be required reading for everyone. It doesn't mention (horrors) scrotum even one time.

Apparently Anna Nicole Smith's death and whatever has taken up something like 37% of the MSM in the last few days. The Iraq "war" comes in somewhere around 17%. Britney will no doubt make a bit of a comeback. It's nice to know where our major news sources place their priorities. Does anyone even remember Forgottenistan?

It appears that the Shiite militias have decided to "lay low" while the "surge" is going on. This means, of course, that the violence will abate for a while, thus proving that the surge is working. Will this then provide an excuse for our troops to leave Iraq, claiming success, and saving face for the Bush/Cheney bunch? Am I kidding? Bush/Cheney are going to desert their fourteen permanent bases and their half trillion dollar embassy and leave all that oil to the towel heads? I don't think so. We will never get out of Iraq as long as Bush/Cheney are in charge. And from the look of things, we may never get out even if Hillary or some other Democrat takes over. Where is that amazing creature from the planet kryton when we really need him/her?

Friday, February 16, 2007

Fascinating book

I have just finished a truly fascinating book: The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. This is the story of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, its planning, execution, success, and enormous impact it made on the United States. Simultaneously, it is the story of one of the worse serial killers in history. A true psychopathological killer who premeditated the murders of an unkown number of people, mostly women, who were attracted to Chicago mostly by the Fair. I have no idea how Larson came up with the idea of juxtaposing these two stories but the result is one of those rare books that you do not want to put down once you have begun. Although I confess I had never thought much about it, I was amazed to learn just how difficult and complex a task it was to plan and construct such a Fair. The success of this almost impossible project put Chicago on the map as one of the world's great cities and many of the things we now take for granted first appeared at this great event. Among other things it made it clear that cities could be much more than the gloomy, filthy, disease-ridden Chicago of the late 1800's.

Well, as predicted, the House voted not to support Bush's surge. It was a victory mostly on partisan lines as a mere 17 Republicans voted for it (there had been predictions of many more). I didn't watch much of it but of course I saw a few excerpts on the news. About 350 of the 400 plus House members felt strongly enough about it to exercise their right to their five minutes. Listening to some of the Republicans who spoke out against it, I began to wonder if they and I were from the same planet, or if we had been exposed to the same information. For example, some of them kept claiming that we could not stop in Iraq until we achieved "victory." Of course they didn't mention what they thought victory would look like. And they seemed to be unaware there would be no victory no matter how long we stayed in Iraq or how many troops we sent there. They seem to be unable to grasp even this basic reality - there is not going to be any victory. There was no time for anyone to really ask just what it was they meant by victory. Perhaps some of them think we are still going to create an American style democracy in that unfortunate country. Maybe some thought we could obtain "stability." They were apparently not considering the latest goal - "relative peace." Then there were those who kept insisting that if we didn't finish the job in Iraq the terrorists (insurgents?) would follow us here. Can't you see them jumping into their ships and aircraft, loading their tanks and howitzers, and invading the U.S? The Muslims are coming! The Muslims are coming! They are going to replace "In God we Trust" with Mohammed is great, and etc. Don't you wonder where we even find such complete idiots? They certainly don't all come from Idaho although we do our part. I confess when I have to listen to some of these Republicans I truly wonder if they are actually sane (maybe it's just the kool-aid).

Bush/Cheney continue to prove they have little or no grasp of reality. Rove has been very quiet of late. Condi is off on another trip, chasing her tail. Democrats talk tough but as yet do very little. Republicans continue to put party above country, Anna Nicole Smith remains unembalmed and her daughter remains without a father. No one can figure out if Obama is black or white, American Idol goes on (I guess), GM and Ford continue to lay off thousands, but the rich get richer every day and the stock market continues to rise. Life, I guess, just goes on. Why worry? Be happy (like me).

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Miscellaneous nonsense

Consider some of the current nonsense we are engaged in. The mint is about to release another metal dollar, the Presidential dollar I think is is being called. They previously, as you no doubt remember, introduced the Susan B. Anthony dollar which quickly failed to gain acceptance. Then, more recently, they introduced the Sakajawea dollar which also failed to gain acceptance. In both cases they did not simultaneously do away with the paper dollar (as Canada did when it introduced the popular "loony"). It is perfectly obvious that a metal dollar is not going to catch on so long as the paper dollar exists (this has apparently been demonstrated repeatedly elsewhere as well as in the U.S.). So what will they be doing this time? Introducing the President's dollar without doing away with the paper dollar. So what will happen? It will fail once again. This is as inevitable as the changing of the seasons. I think there may be an ulterior motive involved. As the new dollars, just like the Anthony and Sacajawea dollars, will be a novelty for a time people will collect them and thus take them out of circulation. I'm sure this is happening with the new quarters and nickels as well. If this is not the motive why are they doing something they know will fail?

I saw somewhere today that the new goal of our illegal adventure in Iraq is to be "relative peace." Apparently even stability is too difficult an achievement. Relative peace is good as it can never be precisely defined. I guess if we leave Iraq engaged in civil war that might be considered relative peace compared to what is presently going on in that tortured country. Relative peace. I like it. It has a nice ring to it. I suppose that as Israel is not at the moment attacking Lebanon we can consider that relative peace. No doubt if we could reduce the number of deaths in Iraq this year we could claim relative peace there as well. Relative peace would seem to be a bit of a come down from a fully Democratic society that would be an example for all of the Middle East. But, as Tony Snow, that apparently completely mindless Presidential spokesman assured us, "you can't predict what will happen when you go to "war."

No one seems to be quite certain what Iran is doing in Iraq. At a special more or less secret session in Bagdad three anonymous guys claimed to show us evidence of Iranian arms that were found in Iraq. It was also suggested that high level government officials in Iran were responsible. But then General Pace said no, there was no evidence that the Iranian government was involved. Then today (or maybe it was yesterday, I can't tear myself away from the Anna Nicole Smith case long enough to keep track of the days) Bush himself said we didn't know that higher officials in Iran necessarily knew about what was going on. But we did know for certain that Iranian munitions were being used in Iraq. Imagine that! Someone is helping to arm the Iraqis to defend themselves against an occupying force. This is similar to our objection to Russia selling anti-aircraft guns to Iran (we like our victims to be as helpless as possible). Might the Iraqis have purchased these weapons on the gigantic munitions black market? Might they have acquired them from Hezbolla? Perhaps the Iraqi Santa Claus brought them. No, Bush says they came from an organization that is part of the Iranian government (but he hedges by saying he doesn't know if the Iranian government is aware of this). Wowie, zowie! What intelligence! It's not even as convincing as the evidence they fabricated to attack Iraq. Happily, no one in the Bush administration has enough credibility to get away with this nonsense. And by the way, they know that precisely 170 troops have been killed by these Iranian munitions. How do they know this? I guess they must have interviewed the dead and asked them what, precisely, was the munition that killed them. This whole business has such an overwhelming smell of inauthenticity that one doesn't know whether to laugh or stick one's head in the garbage in the hopes of finding a more pleasant odor. However unfortunate it is, I do not believe ANYTHING that comes from the Bush/Cheney den of vipers.

Just out of idle curiosity, does anyone ever actually pay attention to tv commercials? That is, do they ever consider what is being claimed in these basically offensive interruptions? I saw recently an ad for something called Boniva. I don't recall even what Boniva is, or is for. But what got me was the claim by the woman in the ad that her friend had to set aside one day a week to take her pill (whereas with Boniva she only had to take it once a month). Think of that! She had to set aside one day a week to take a pill that probably took less than 10 seconds to swallow. What a burden! What a terrible inconvenience! Thank god for Boniva (whatever it is). But don't let me get started on advertising.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Disgusting Democrats, Reprehensible Republicans

First, I am truly pleased to learn that Anna Nicole Smith's body is not going anywhere soon. I was really worried about that.

As near as I can make out Feith's excuse for his indecent behavior has to do with his argument there is nothing wrong (or illegal) about people reviewing Intelligence assessments. I guess one might agree that is true. However, when you not only review the intelligence but then change and distort it to fit your preconceived idea of what it should reveal, and then pass that on as THE intelligence to your superiors, and they then act on it as if it is true, it would seem to be a different matter indeed. And, when your office exists for no other purpose than second-guessing intelligence to make it fit what you desire, I should think the question of legality is simply moot. This is not complicated. It is perfectly obvious this is what happened. Feith's office insisted there was a relationship between Sadam and the terrorists even though the CIA intelligence knew that was not so. And Cheney repeatedly insisted there was such a relationship even though there was no evidence of such a relationship. When Feith's office presented the CIA with their interpretation of the evidence the CIA objected to 50% of their claims. They offered to footnote their objections. Feith's interpretation was forwarded with no footnotes included. I guess this is what was meant when one of the neocons insisted that they were creating their own reality. They have done the same thing with scientific evidence. I guess there is nothing illegal about reinterpreting scientific evidence about global warming, or paying scientists to argue against global warming. BUT THERE OUGHT TO BE!

The Democrats, now in control of the House, have decided to spend three or four days debating a non-binding resolution opposing the "surge" (which, of course, has already begun). Bush has announced that he is aware of the debate and doesn't really care what they do (I mean, it is non-binding and he is going ahead with his plans anyway). How many more American and Iraqi lives will be lost during this four day complete waste of time? Not content with this dismal procrastinating they have now developed a strategy of "slowly bleeding" the administrations ability to continue their "war." Slowly bleeding our troops while they sit in their comfortable air-conditioned offices and cowardly refuse to take meaningful and clear action to bring this stupid, unnecessary "war" to a swift conclusion doesn't seem to matter to them. After all, our troops volunteered to be slowly bled to death for the benefit of Bush/Cheney, Halliburton, Exxon, and whoever. As far as I am concerned both the House and Senate are simply beneath contempt. They are every bit as complicit in their war crimes as Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rice and the rest of the neocons. What can one say except STOP THE FOOTDRAGGING AND BULLSHIT AND DO SOMETHING! DO IT NOW, NOT NEXT WEEK OR NEXT MONTH OR NEXT YEAR. NOW!

Democrats, it is said, are afraid to cut off funding because they fear they will be accused of not supporting the troops. What nonsense. Who are they afraid of, the 27% of loony Americans who still support Bush/Cheney? Bringing the troops home from a lost cause, after they have performed splendidly with faulty equipment and excruciatingly poor leadership, is not not supporting the troops. It is quite the contrary, supporting them in the best way possible. They have done what they could, done what was expected of them, they cannot be expected to perform miracles. They cannot make the Sunnis and Shiites like each other. They cannot bring about a political solution on their own. There is no military solution for the problems in Iraq (or Iran, or Saudi Arabia, or Israel, or Palestine, or Syria or anywhere in the Middle East). The neocons dream of controlling the Middle East, of empire, of being able to impose a solution to long standing problems at the barrel of a gun, is truly a pipe dream.

What is wrong with us? In some cases there are very commonsense solutions to some of our problems. You want to solve the problem of overcrowding in our prisons? Legalize marijuana. You want to conserve energy? Turn off all the damn lights in our skyscrapers at night. You want to reduce the cost of drugs? Stop the pharmanceuticals from their incessant advertising of drugs we don't need (and even those we do need). You want to conserve oil? Make the automakers build more efficent cars and trucks. You want to save the salmon? Breach some of the dams. You want to stop global warming? Cut down on carbon emissions. I acknowledge these are not all as simple as they may appear. But they are all eminently possible if we just have the will to do them.

Putin is right. The U.S. has grossly overstepped its bounds. The world is suffering for it. It didn't begin with the Bush/Cheney administration. But under their stewardship it has for the first time reached genuine crisis proportions. They should either resign or be impeached. Even more appropriate, perhaps they should be committed. The Republicans have it within their power to do something to stop Bush/Cheney. They are more interested in power than patriotism or country. History is not going to treat them kindly. They don't care, like Bush, they will all be dead. What a marvelous attitude. Good for our corporate masters if not for the country. "Get rich, sleep 'til noon, and screw 'em all."

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Hillary Clinton is not someone I can support for President. First, she is the DLC candidate. The DLC is simply the Republican wing of the Democratic party. Second, she is a warmonger. She sounds like Bush and McCain. "No option is off the table." If she, or any of these other warmongering types, were interested in solving problems in the Middle East, the first thing they should say is military action against Iran is off the table. Third, she is an ardent and apparently uncritical supporter of Israel, a rogue nation involved in genocidal actions against the Palestinians. Fourth, she is apparently the darling of the corporations that will control the elections. Remember, she was on the Board of Directors of Wal Mart (maybe she still is, for all I know). Rupert Murdoch arranged a fundraiser for her. She has far more money than any other candidate, money that did not come in five and ten dollar donations, but, rather, from those power brokers who know what they are up to. I believe she has already been selected as their candidate for the election. I believe they think a Republican cannot be elected in 2008 and, if so, what better than a Republican lite who is already on their payroll? Sorry to be so cynical but I truly believe this is what it is all about. This is not something I like. At one time I was a true Hillary Supporter, gave her money, and whatever. But no more. For me, she has blown it big time. I simply do not believe, among other things, that the most important thing in our foreign policy is keeping Iran from having a bomb. While I believe Iran might want a bomb I don't believe they are very close to having one. Even more importantly, I don't believe if they had a bomb they would use it for anything other than defense. Iranians are intelligent, wonderful, poetic people, surrounded by enemies that all have nuclear bombs. If they want a bomb it would be perfectly reasonable. There is apparently no real evidence they even want a bomb. To continue to threaten them with military action is totally non-productive. We need to engage them diplomatically (a concept apparently entirely foreign to Bush/Cheney).

Now Bush/Cheney are trying desperately to link Iran to the troubles in Iraq. In a private and more or less secret meeting, directed by individuals who refused to use their names, evidence was supposedly presented proving that Iran was furnishing weapons to certain of the Iraqis. They claimed that serial numbers and descriptions of these weapons proved they came from Iran and that high level persons in the Iranian government were involved. General Pace brought them down to earth by pointing out there was no evidence whatsoever that the Iranian government was involved, even if the weapons came from Iran (they could have been purchased on the world wide munitions market, come from Hezbolla, or whatever). Furthermore, as the descriptions were in English, it would be more likely than not that these weapons were produced for the worldwide market rather than explicitly for Iraq. In any case, after their obvious lies about Iraq, most people are not much in a mood to believe them.

Which leads us to Feith who clearly cherry picked and reinterpreted intelligence reports to make a case for attacking Iraq. This is so blatant as to be indisputable. And, of course, Cheney was behind it. Now they are saying that yes, they did it, but they did nothing illegal by making their own interpretations of the intelligence. Wonderful! They distorted the evidence in favor of starting an illegal and unnecessary "war" in which hundreds of thousands have lost their lives, and they have the effrontery to say they did nothing illegal? These people are worse than war criminals, they are monsters who lack even the basic rudiments of humanity. Feith, like Bush, apparently does not have the brains God gave a horse's ass. Cheney, lying, slimy creature that he is, from somewhere in the dark underground, does the Devil's work.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Wasted lives

How can you tell someone that their childrens' lives were simply wasted? Obama apparently used the term with respect to the troops we have lost in Iraq. Then, having realized what he said, he apologized. No one, least of all a presidential candidate, wants to insult or denigrate the ultimate sacrifice someone paid for fighting for their country. I don't want to think of all these lives of our fine young people as wasted. But what has been accomplished by Bush's "war" in Iraq. His "war" based entirely upon lies. There were no WMD's. There was no connection between Sadam and the terrorists. Democracy has certainly not spread in the Middle East. Sadam was taken down only to be replaced by a situation that is worse than it was while he was still in power. We haven't even managed to steal the oil, which is what it was all about in the first place. In short, we have sacrificed more than 3000 of our finest young people, and seriously damaged for life probably some 20,000 or more, and accomplished nothing. I guess it is up to each of us to decide whether lives were wasted or not.

Rudy Giuliani gave a speech somewhere or other. Apparently he spoke for some 45 minutes. He spent much of that time, I heard, praising Bush as a war president. I submit that that, in and of itself, removes him from serious contention for the presidency. He's obviously as big a nut case as his chief rival, the notorious warmonger, McCain. I guess they are both competing for the 27% of Americans who claim to still support Bush/Cheney.

Wednesday will be Valentine's Day, next to Halloween, my least favorite event of the year. Does anyone other than card, candy, and floral makers really believe in this nonsense? I still remember when I was in grade school and we had to give valentines to each other, cheap little pieces of paper expressing our love and devotion to those we despised as well as those we liked (we had to give valentines to everyone without exception, no matter what we actually felt about them). As far as I know this absurd practice continues right up to the present.

The wild turkeys are starting to breed. At least I think they are. There were at least three toms in the back yard this morning with their plumage displayed for all to see. And the hens have been acting strangely for the last few days. I fear I will be witness to a genuine turkeycide later this spring. Fish and Game has reportedly said not to bother complaining about the turkeys unless you have 70 or more. If the weather continues as mild as it has been for the past few days we may actually achieve that number. Where are the coyotes, wolves, cougars, and other predators when you need them?

Sunday, February 11, 2007


As I have pretty much given up hope that anyone (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Feith, etc.) will ever be held accountable for their terrible war crimes and impeachable actions I will change the subject to books. I have recently read two very fine books (there isn't much else to do here at Sandhill in the winter).

There is an interesting book entitled simply Heat by Bill Buford. Buford was (is?) a writer and editor and also an amateur cook. He decided he wanted to know more about cooking and volunteered to work as a kitchen "slave" in Mario Batali's three star restaurant, Babbo. So he did so and eventually worked his way up to line cook. Wanting to learn still more he went to Italy where he interned in other restaurants learning the secrets of pasta and Italian cooking. Finally, he interned with one of the greatest Italian butchers to learn the art of butchering. If you are interested in such things this is a truly fascinating book that gives one insights into how these really fine restaurants manage to succeed and is quite entertaining besides.

I also read In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick. This is an account of the terrible voyage of the whaleship Essex that was the inspiration and basis for Melville's Moby Dick. It is a gripping true story of how the Essex was rammed by an 85 foot Sperm Whale and sunk. The crew began a 93 day long, miserable, journey in three whaleboats trying to save themselves. Eventually they were forced to result to cannibalism to survive, and a few of them actually did survive. Some even returned to sea once more. This is an absolutely incredible tale of human survival under the harshest conditions imaginable and tells you a great deal about the hardships of the whaling industry and the central place of Nantucket in it during the early 1800's. I heartily recommend it. In fact, I found it much more compelling that Moby Dick which I think is a terribly overrated novel (unless, perhaps, you have some obsessive interest in the anatomy of whales).

For reasons I will not elucidate at the moment, I have come to the conclusion that many, if not most, of the citizens of my northernmost county here in Idaho, believe that scientists are people who spend all of their time and energy trying to prevent them from doing what they wish (like killing all the wolves, and caribou, destroying the salmon runs, tearing up the countryside with their godawful ATV's, fouling our waters with their personal watercraft, logging all of the remaining old growth timber, and etc.). As they do not read and get all their information from comedian Rush Limbaugh (they do not realize he is actually a comedian) and each other, perhaps this is not surprising. On the positive side there are a few kindred souls here and they seem to be increasing year after year. I sometimes wish that Gates, Buffet, Soros, or that crazy Englishman whose name I cannot immediately recall, or someone else like that would simply buy the state of Idaho and bring it into the 20th century (I think it would be impossible to try for the 21st century, at least right now).

Saturday, February 10, 2007

What is the point?

What is the point of repeating over and over again things that are perfectly obvious but no one apparently wants to deal with? The "war" against Iraq was/is manifestly illegal (as well as immoral, unconstitional, and unconscionable). Preemptively attacking a country that is/was not a threat to you is the classic war crime. Torture is a war crime. Hiding prisoners from the Red Cross is a war crime. War profiteering is a war crime. Killing innocent civilians is a war crime. Using banned weapons such as cluster bombs and phosphorous against civilians is a war crime. Can anyone possibly doubt by now that this is precisely what we have done in Iraq? Even though this is perfectly obvious no one seems willing to do anything about it. The war crime of the century and the only objection on the part of both Democrats and Republicans is that we are failing to succeed at it.

Lying to Congress and the American people to start an illegal war is an impeachable offense. Spying on people without a court order is an impeachable offense. Outing a CIA operative is an impeachable offense. Organizing "renditions" is an impeachable offense. Doing away with Habeas Corpus is an impeachable offense. "Cooking" intelligence to say what you want it to is an impeachable offense. Claiming Presidential powers that you do not have is probably also an impeachable offense. Is it not perfectly obvious by now that these things have been done by the current Bush/Cheney administration? Nothing is being done about it as near as I can tell. Indeed, impeachment is apparently "off the table."

So what is the point of even bringing these obvious violations of law and constitution up? If you are married to a spouse that is so obtuse, stubborn, and difficult you believe your only recourse is to strangle him/her or get a divorce, what do you do? You get a divorce. But what if he/she doesn't agree to a divorce? Then what do you do? The American public is trying to divorce the Bush/Cheney administration but they will not agree to it? So now what do you do? The answer, according to the House and Senate, seems to be nothing. Just do nothing. There are far more important things to discuss, like the size of Pelosi's plane, the father of Anna Nicole Smith's daughter, and the latest LA car chase.

I'm sick of non-binding resolutions (that can't even be passed). I want a binding resolution: no more nutrisystem ads for at least six months! Have to go. Have to catch the midnight train from Sandpoint to Seattle. Cheers.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Why pay your taxes?

You have probably all seen the ad on television. The one that starts with "do you owe $10,000 or more in back taxes? Then it goes on to say, "we can help you settle with the IRS for pennies on the dollar." If this is the case why should you pay your taxes (on time)? Why not wait until you owe a sufficient amount of money and then settle for pennies on the dollar? Does this not make perfect sense?

Lt. Watada's case about refusing to participate in the Iraq "war" was declared a mistrial. He quite likely will not be tried again (double jeopardy?). Although I think this is great for Lt. Watada it is not so great for our system of justice. Why? Because Watada is right and the court is wrong. The judge, faced with having to actually consider whether the "war" was legal or not, basically panicked, and rather than having to confront the problem, preferred to dismiss the case. Personally, I would like to see anyone try to argue that this "war" is legal. I would like to see anyone try to argue that Bush/Cheney/Rice/Rumsfeld/et al are not war criminals. It would be most interesting but I guess it will never happen, certainly not with a Congress that can't even pass a non-binding resolution against the "surge," and has taken impeachment off the table.

The number one news story of the day. Anna Nicole Smith died at 39. Wow! What a story! Far more important than anything happening in Iraq, Afghanistan, or elsewhere in the world. Anna Nicole Smith, ex Playmate, ex wife of a senile multimillionaire, blond bombshell who never really made it in hollywood, darling of the paparazzi, and basically a poor unfortunate nobody whose miserable life fed the drooling masses what they apparently wanted to hear about: blond hair, big tits, weight problems, drug problems, men problems, mother problems, money problems, the works. Now her five month old daughter, whose father at the moment is unknown, and who will be the only heir, and who will never have known her mother, and will be at the mercy of whoever is appointed her guardian, will no doubt grow up to be a healthy, happy, and very confused young lady. An American fairy tale. By the way, we may be going to "war" against Iran. They just don't want to do what we want them to do. Disgusting Iranians.

Republicans have decided that the size of the plane Pelosi is allowed to fly on from Washington, D.C. to San Francisco is far more important than discussing the "surge." Those Republicans! They certainly know where the priorities lie.

For years there has been a program to re-introduce wolves to the Northwest, especially Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. This program has been a resounding success and there are now many wolves doing very well. Our new Governor, Clement Leroy "Butch" Otter can't wait to kill them and says he would like to be the first one to shoot one. No doubt the really would like to shoot them all but that might not be possible as at least a few will be federally protected. Similarly, although for years there has been an argument over whether or not the dams on the Snake River should be breeched in favor of the salmon, Clement Leroy says we should build more dams. Any wonder why he was elected Governor in Idaho?

Washington D.C. is slowly discovering the idiocy and ignorance of our own Bill Sali. Here in Bonners Ferry we are thinking of printing some bumper stickers: Bill Sali for President. Unfortunately, people here might take it seriously. You can never know the anguish of having completed eight grades and still having to live with these ignorant hillbillies. Our senior Senator, Larry Craig, as far as I know, still thinks we may find WMD's in Iraq. And by the way, he doesn't like salmon, wolves, caribou, or science. That's okay, we're still trying very hard to enter the 20th century.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Religious subversives

There is an article today on Truthdig called "Evangelicals Make War on Evolution." This includes a brief video of what it is some of these Evangelicals are teaching our children. I find this frightening beyond belief. Also, I also saw somewhere today that there are 54 million people over the age of 18 that do not believe in evolution. That is even more frightening (I'm not entirely sure I believe this - I certainly don't want to believe it). Watching this video I find it virtually unbelievable what these guys are telling our children. I find it impossible to believe that they can believe what they are peddling. Dinosaurs existing contemporaneously with humans, for example. Basically it boils down to their motto: "The Bible Says It, I Believe it, and that's it," or something to that effect. They believe the Bible is infallible and that what it says is the literal truth. The earth is only a few thousand years old, Noah built an ark, someone was swallowed by a whale, someone else parted the waters, everything was created in six days, and on and on. Utter nonsense, of course. But that is what they are teaching many of our children.

I have a real problem with this. I believe in free speech. I also believe in religious freedom, but now, I think, I may believe it only up to a point. I think what these Evangelical types are doing is in fact subversive and clearly not in the best interest of our country. If a huge number of our citizens believe in what are little more than fairy tales how are we going to continue to compete in the global scene? That is, the reality based world we have to live in? It seems to be clear that we are already falling behind every year with respect to science and math and computers and all of those innovations that are so rapidly changing our world. Teaching our children to not believe in evolution is like teaching them not to believe in gravity, or physics, or chemistry, or biology, and etc. I believe this is criminal. It certainly is not in the best interest of our country. It is subversive. It is the equivalent of falsely yelling "fire" in a crowded theater, except that rather than being over with quickly it insidiously infects the crowd for a much longer time and with far worse consequences. I guess people ought to be able to believe in any kind of nonsense they want, but when they start to insist on making their bizarre beliefs public policy we have to just say NO. Unhappily these kinds of beliefs under the present administration have been insidiously undermining science to the point where we are going to have to insist that they cease and desist. Similarly, when Exxon or other corporations offer thousands of dollars to scientists or others to deliberately challenge the scientific evidence for global warming they should be considered criminals. That we should have a "War Between Science and Theology in Christendom" in the 21st century is simply absurd. We simply cannot afford religious fanatics trying to take over our lives.

A few days ago there was a marvelous article that I believe everyone should have to read. I ran off a copy and gave it to friends but, alas, at the moment I can't remember who wrote it or where it was. But I can tell you what it said: Bush/Cheney and the neocons have committed the crime of the century, but the Democrats and Republicans alike are only concerned that they haven't succeeded. Thus, instead of concentrating on the crime, we are only concerned with their failure to succeed at it. Think about it.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Strange Case of 1st Lt. Watada

Perhaps the case of Lt. Watada is not strange. But it strikes me as strange. As you must know by now Lt. Watada is the first U.S. military officer to refuse to serve in Iraq. His reason being that he believes the "war" in Iraq is illegal and, if he were to serve in it, he would be party to a war crime. Lt. Watada is no dummy. He knows that both the Constitution of the U.S. and the standard enlistment contract say very clearly that a soldier (marine, sailor, etc.) does not have to obey an illegal order. In fact, it is their duty to disobey an illegal order. As far as I know the
Constitution and the contract do say that. So the basic question should be, is the Iraq "war" illegal.

You might assume that if Watada disobeyed a direct order he could be charged with mutiny, or at least failure to obey a direct order. Perhaps he could be charged with desertion or being AWOL. He did, however, offer to serve in Afghanistan but not in Iraq. He also apparently offered to resign his commission rather than confront the Army over this. The Army refused his offers and he is now on trial.

The officer in charge of his trial has announced that his claim the war is illegal is irrelevant, thus taking away any chance he might have of proving the correctness of his position. Why is it irrelevant? Because he is charged with "missing movements" and conduct unbecoming an officer. I guess missing movements means he didn't agree to go to Iraq. Conduct unbecoming has to do with the fact that he publicly spoke out against the "war" and was critical of the President. So why is he being charged with two relatively minor charges instead of mutiny, desertion, or something more serious? Obviously because the Military does not want to have to discuss or determine whether the "war" is legal or not. If Watada should win with his claim of illegality what might that do to the further conduct of the "war?" How would the rest of our troops react to the knowledge that they were involved in an illegal enterprise? Clearly this would be a big problem. So, if the powers that be (the Army, Pentagon, White House, etc.) think their "war" is legal, why don't they try to prove that Watada is wrong?

Because the "war" is clearly, blatantly, obviously, completely, monumentally, demonstrably, and unquestionably illegal. In a court of law, or even in a court of military justice, they could never argue that what we are doing in Iraq is legal. They know this. So they just arrange it so they don't have to acknowledge it. What they are doing to Watada, with these relatively minor charges, is simply to punish him for telling the truth.

What this means, to me at least, is that our Constitution and our enlistment contracts are basically meaningless. This goes beyond a mere catch 22. As a member of the military you have an obligation to disobey an illegal order, but if you do so the legality is not open to question. This is not the first time this situation has occurred and the military has followed the same procedure every time (there were apparently similar cases during VietNam). The truthfulness of Lt. Watada's claims becomes simply irrelevant. So for trying to tell the truth Lt. Watada will probably serve two or more years in the brig. So much for truth and justice.

It seems there is a little problem of a trillion (TRILLION) dollar Pentagon accounting problem. It seems they simply cannot account for this (taxpayers' ) money over the past few years. This would seem to go beyond the $600 toilet seats and other scandals of a few years back. But what the hell, a trillion dollars is just chicken feed to this administration (the absolute worst in all of U.S. history). But not to worry, Bush wants to give the Pentagon billions more to pour into the pockets of Halliburton, Boeing, GM, Lockeed Martin, and etc. Hey, it takes money to fight those terrorists who at this very moment are building a huge Armada to invade our country (if we don't fight them there they will follow us here). Some of the worst ones are those in Somalia - you know, the ones on the camels. Our country, the United States of America, has become completely insane. We can't even pass a non-binding resolution opposing this madness.

Stop the world! I think I finally want to get off. Cancel tomorrow for lack of interest! For God's sake, DO SOMETHING!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Insanity writ large

You will recall that Eisehower warned us about a military-industrial complex. Little did he know that that complex would have evolved so quickly into a military-industrial-political complex that is nothing short of total insanity. I cannot see there is any real connection anymore between our actual needs for defense and our military budget. We currently spend more on "defense" than all other nations on earth put together. What defense was involved in our cowardly attack on Iraq, a small nation that was no threat to us whatsoever? What defense was involved in our meddling in the Balkans? In Somalia? Were we about to be attacked? With legions of tanks and submarines and what-not? What about Panama? Were they about to attack us? Is Venezuela putting together an army and navy to invade us? Perhaps the danger will come from another solar system that will fly in an armada of ships and planes and tanks and howitzers and gigantic armies? Oh, yeah, Iran. No doubt the Iranians are going to attack us with massive armaments and tank battalions and submarines, and the whole works. They would have no reason to fear our thousands upon thousands of nuclear warheads that could wipe them off the face of the earth in no time. How about Russia? They used to be pretty dangerous but nowadays they seem to have mellowed and do not seem to constitute much of a threat. China, of course, might someday be a problem but actually they will defeat us economically before they even need any weapons. So what is it with our apparently paranoic sense of being attacked? The fact of the matter is, we don't have a defense budget. We have an offense budget. And that is how it should be so labeled. I am hardly an expert on such matters but I firmly believe that for purposes of defense we could halve our current budget and still have all the defense we could ever need. We don't need all this money for defense, we need it to feed the military-industrial-political complex we have allowed to grow like a malignancy on our nation. This truly is our national insanity.

Bush has now submitted an enormous almost three trillion dollar budget for the coming two years. In spite of our enormous and unprecedented national debt he thinks we should make his tax breaks permanent. He wants billions more for the "war" in Iraq. He suggests we get some of this money by cutting back on medicare and medicaid and also on some 141 other agencies. Bush is insane. His budget is insane. If Congress goes along with it they, too, will be insane. If they go along with more money for Bush's immoral "war" in Iraq they will be doubly insane. Is no one going to step forward and finally just say NO?

Is this nightmare never going to end? Will Republicans ever come to their senses and realize the damage that Bush/Cheney have done to their party? Do they truly have a death wish? Will Bush/Cheney ever be held accountable for their multiple war crimes? Is there, truly, no justice? What has happened to my country?


Sunday, February 04, 2007

Why chickens?

My wonderful son decided a couple of years ago to become a vegetarian. He doesn't expect me or his mother to do likewise and certainly doesn't proselytize. His primary rationalization for his vegetarianism seems to be that he doesn't want to eat anything that is sentient. That is, that probably feels pain. He will sometimes eat shrimp and clams and even snails and things like that. But he won't eat chicken or beef or lamb and stuff like that. I respect him for his vegetarianism. But when I think about it I also get hung up on the issue of why chickens? Why do chickens exist if they are not meant to be eaten? I mean, after all, chickens are eaten by an extremely wide range of other creatures: weasels, coyotes, hawks, racoons, dogs, wolves, and people, to say the least. I love chicken (although I never eat chicken breasts as they are the most tasteless substance I can think of). So if chickens are not meant to be eaten, what are they meant for? Eating bugs and potato scraps I guess, stuff like that. But there are all kinds of creatures who eat bugs and vegetable stuff so who really needs chickens?

The problem with this line of thought, if you actually think about it, is that all creatures, as far as I know, exist by eating some other thing. You know, little tiny creatures eat plankton (as do whales), other creatures eat the plankton eaters, bigger fish eat smaller fish, and so it goes. Cats eat mice, dogs and coyotes eat cats, wolves and mountain lions eat coyotes and cats and dogs, and so on. Bugs eat other bugs, usually bigger bugs eat smaller ones but that is not an iron-clad rule. I guess we like to think that no other creature eats us but even that is not, strictly speaking, true. Sharks eat us. Even lions eat us at times. In fact, even small creatures like fish eat us if given a chance. So it seems there is a chain of food in which every living fish, animal, or bug seems to thrive on eating some other member of the food chain.

But, you say, what about vegetarians. They only eat vegetables. But do vegetables not have life? Who decides that vegetable life is any the less important than animal life? Animals, that's who. Is that fair? I don't think so. Naturally, if nothing ate vegetables or animals or bugs or fish or whatever life would cease to exist. In short, all life depends upon the death of something else. Well, you might say, what about eggs? If you eat the eggs of chickens you are not killing the chicken. Surely you can see the spurious nature of such an argument. By eating the egg you are preventing the life of another chicken. Well, what about parasites that exist by living on other organisms? But don't parasites, over time, eventually kill their hosts? I simply cannot think or a single creature that doesn't prey on some other creature to sustain their life. Thus, whenever I think about vegetarianism I somehow cannot justify it to my satisfaction.

The fact of the matter is, I like eating, and I especially like eating meat. I understand that eating beef is not an efficient way of creating protein, I understand that we should not be cruel to those creatures we eat (that is, we should kill them with the least amount of pain and trauma), I also understand that we should perhaps offer some ritual of thanksgiving for those creatures who give up their lives for us (like, for example, a prayer to the great mystery for each deer or buffalo we harvest). I am not clear on just when a creature is sentient and feels pain. How about oysters? Clams? Lobsters? How do you know what, if anything they feel? How about that carrot that is pulled cruelly out of the ground after having sunk its roots there for months? There are religious types in India and such places that carefully sweep the ground in front of them to insure they will not kill anything. They eat rice. How do you get rice without killing something?

I guess this is all too difficult and confusing for me. How about those vegetarians who stand there criticizing me for killing innocent animals and eating meat while dressed in leather belts and shoes? As far as I know there is no way we can keep on living by eating plastic. As I cannot deal with this I guess I'll just go on eating my beef and pork, and lamb, and fish, and milkfish bellies and pork jowels, and tripe (I don't eat tripe) and brains (I don't eat brains), and lutefisk, oysters, pigs feet, and whatever else strikes my fancy. Eat, drink, and be merry!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Linda vs the Wild Turkeys

Here at Sandhill we have a problem with wild turkeys. This is a more or less recent problem as when we first moved here there were virtually no wild turkeys. A few years back wild turkeys were introduced or re-introduced (I'm not certain which) to North Idaho. In any case they have certainly flourished and have made an absolutely stunning comeback. Even two or three years ago you only saw turkeys once in a while. Then last spring, because of an easy winter I guess, suddenly they were all over the place. There were so many for a while we sometimes had to stop the car to let them clear the county road. Every hen turkey seemed to have somewhere between five and ten chicks. There numbers have been reduced since then, probably because of coyotes, hunting season, and other predators. But we now have about eight or so that turn up in our yard every day. I don't know what it is about our yard that seems to be such an attraction for them. They scratch and dig, especially the mulch that Linda puts down over her plants, and scatter it everywhere. She used to think it was great that we had wild turkeys. Now she hates them with a passion hard to believe. Whenever they appear she rushes outside yelling and shooing them away. She throws pine cones at them. She throws sticks at them. She even takes our son's old bb gun and shoots at them. She threatens to shoot them all for real, season or no season. I have to admit it is kind of hilarious to watch her. In fact, at this very moment she is out there chasing them with a push broom! Interestingly, the turkeys don't seem to mind. Oh, they leave okay but in a short time they are back. They get on the roof of the house. They get on the decks. They get on the front porch, in the garage, everywhere. And everywhere they go they poop, incessantly. They even get on the railings within three or four feet of the kitchen windows and have to be chased away. People think we domesticated turkeys but it is obvious from our experience that the turkeys domesticated people. They simply refuse to take no, go away, for a command. This is all the more puzzling as we do not feed or water them. Our neighbor who lives about 300 yards away does both. But the turkeys have found a home here with us. From the window of my study I can see them perching on the fence. They look very much like vultures. Remember, they are really just the last surviving dinosaurs and they are pretty stupid. Imagine what the intelligence of the extinct dinosaurs must have been and you doubtless have a hint as to why they became extinct. I don't know what we're going to do this spring when these eight show up with many more.

I have just finished The Amber Room (Catherine Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy). It is a non-fictional account of how the Germans looted the famous Amber Room from the Catherine Palace during the second world war and its subsequent disappearance (I guess there are still people looking for it). It is a rather fascinating account of the search and gives one a pretty good glimpse of Soviet society both then and now. But it is rather like a non-fiction facsimile of War and Peace in that there are names upon names upon names, and places upon places, and dates and dates to the point where you can scarcely even keep up with it all. You still come away in a general impression of what seems to have happened. But I can't understand how it could have become a bestseller. You have to be a very dedicated reader.

Some say that Bush/Cheney are going to attack Iran. Of course they say they are not. But who believes anything they say anymore? I doubt they will attack Iran. Not because they don't want to, but because with public opinion so completely against the Iraq "war" they would doubtless be immediately impeached (besides which, having pretty much destroyed our military, they don't really have the means). But who knows? We'll know soon enough.

There are those who claim that Al Gore will run for President and those who swear he won't. I tend to believe he will enter the race at the last minute and if he does he will win in a landslide. With a nomination for an Oscar and a nomination for the Nobel Prize, and a record of having been opposed to the Iraq "war" from the very beginning, as well as having been right about global warming for a long time, how could he miss? I hope he will run. We need him desperately. Imagine how different the world and the U.S. would be now if he had not been cheated out of the election in the first place (by an absolutely disgraceful Supreme Court).

Thursday, February 01, 2007

He noticed!

He noticed! He finally noticed! After only six and half years in office Bush finally noticed there is a discrepancy between the salaries of CEO's and those who have worked for minimum wages for the past ten years. Wow! Do you suppose he figured this out on his own, or did someone tell him that now that Democrats controlled Congress he might want to pretend to care about this utterly disgusting, disgraceful, and perfectly obvious problem? In any case, just watch as he leaps into action and does absolutely nothing about it (unless, of course, he can figure out how to get more tax breaks for business).

My advice to those running for President: watch your tongue. Try not to say anything. If you talk your words will be used for the next 24 to 78 hours of "news." Joe Biden announced he was running for President and in the next breath tried to compliment Obama. This resulted in hours upon hours of discussion as to what he meant (even though it was perfectly obvious what he meant). The same thing was true of Hillary who was foolish enough to try to make a joke. Man, you just don't joke around the Press. Hillary, who suggested that her background made her understand how to deal with "bad and evil men," unleashed a barrage of "news" coverage that still threatens to never end. This was a kind of "in" joke for women. But there were those to insisted she was talking about her husband (remember him). This was even sillier than the Biden situation. While she might think that Bill was "bad" in the sense of naughty, she clearly does not think he was evil (whereas she might well reasonably think that some Republican men like Newt Gingrich, Starr, Barr, and others really were/are evil). And of course there was the case of Kerry who also tried to make a joke that failed (even though, again, it was perfectly obvious what he was trying to say). I don't know how one would run for President without talking at all, but whoever can figure it out will be a winner. I suppose our MSM can even make sign language into something it is not. In some cases you don't have to talk or not talk to be dismissed by the MSM. They have already, for example, described Kusinich as a Leprechaun, sure to boost his chances for the Presidency. You know what? We'd be a lot better off without the MSM. Happily there seem to be signs they will soon cease to be so important. CNN signed their death warrant when they signed Beck (who has now been signed by NBC), MSNBC made a similar mistake when they signed Tucker Carlson, and now some of the other ultra-right standbys are running out of audience. You want real news - go to the web or other countries, that's where it's at.

Following the Libby trial it is clear that everyday Cheney slips farther and farther down into the pit of slime he has created. Can anyone doubt that the treasonous outing of Valerie Plame started in his office? Do you think he may be one of those "bad and evil men" Hillary had in mind? In his case there is little doubt that he is both bad and evil (and I don't mean naughty and mischaracterized). "There is a cancer on the Presidency," and its name is Dick Cheney. Of course he is the VP and we are not. Spiro Agnew was a paragon of virtue compared to this evil and slimy bastard.