Saturday, September 29, 2007


You've all heard of psychobabble. I suggest a new term to describe what has been going on with this one year premature campaign for the Presidency - politibabble. How long has this thing been going on, and how much longer before we get some kind of closure. It's just babble, babble, babble. Will Hillary get the nomination? Is the country ready for a female President? Is Obama going to beat Hillary? Is he too black? Not black enough? Will people vote for a Mormon? Who is raising the most money? Is Thompson the great white hope? Is he just lazy? On and on and on. And the trouble is no one really has any idea of what is likely to happen when (and perhaps, if) the next election happens. I don't know about everyone else but I am sick of this election already and rapidly seem to be approaching the point where I don't give a damn who wins - let's just get it over with. It's not as if there is going to be any meaningful change anyway, both Republicans and Democrats seem determined to continue our occupation of Iraq until doomsday (or perhaps even longer). Meanwhile we will all have to listen to this continuing babble, signifying nothing, and occupying the media, keeping us from doing anything constructive, thinking about the horrors in the world we have created, or the morality we seem to have abandoned.

I have to offer my own babble. I am crushed, crushed, to learn that Newt The Pontificator is not going to run for President. Think of all that babble we will miss out on. Newt is perhaps the greatest babbler of all, to say nothing of being probably the world's greatest hypocrite. Well, we'll have Giuliani around to babble about 9/11 for quite a while yet. McCain's babble is probably about to come to an end. As it appears that large numbers of Americans won't vote for a Mormom I guess we don't have to worry too much about Romney babble. Someone asked me today who the candidates were going to be. I had no difficulty saying Hillary/Bayh, but when it came to the Republicans I simply could not come up with any answer. Never in the history of the U.S. (as far as I know) have we ever had so many candidates that when all lumped together would scarcely constitute a pimple on the butt of a really useful or possible candidate. Who will the Republicans settle on? My imagination is not great enough to answer. Not that it matters, the Republicans have already settled on their real candidate - Hillary, who basically promises to continue Bush's illegal and immoral "war." Big bucks are flowing Hillary's way from people like Rupert Murdoch and other big spenders. I don't think they are interested in backing losers. The country is ready for a female President and also for universal health care (corporations are going to demand it as it is weighing down their competitiveness - why not have the taxpayers pay for it), so who could possibly be a better candidate? I suppose it might not be Hillary but if it's not I will be very surprised.

We are back in Bonners Ferry having once again managed to cross the desert of Eastern Washington. I think it is absolutely amazing that you can drive so far and never see a living thing, no coyotes, gophers, rabbits, deer, snakes, nothing. It was not alway so. I guess we've managed to kill them all in that part of the world. And isn't it tragic that we have to have a Wild Horse Memorial instead of Wild Horses? Soon we'll have another Memorial for Pygmy Rabbits. It's like a dead zone for more than a hundred miles.

"The world's God is treacherous and full of unreason."
Robinson Jeffers

Friday, September 28, 2007

Weak,weak as water

Well, we did it again - went to the great German restaurant we found, Feuerabend, and, once again, could not resist the Scweinhoxe (it's on special all through Octoberfest. It is delicious, and so generous, we just couldn't pass it up. We overate so greedily it has inspired an entirely new diet - Morialekafa's special no-nonsense sure-to-work reptilian diet. Under this diet regimen you can eat and drink anything you want, and as much as you want - but you can only eat every six weeks.

Imagine those ungrateful Iraqis! They are upset because the U.S. Senate has decided their country should be broken up into three parts: Kurds, Sunnis, and Shiites. They regard this as a violation of their sovereignty (at least the sovereignty we are now pretending they are supposed to have).

We attended the annual Seattle Library Book Sale. It was, as usual, chaos. It has now been taken over by people who have no interest in books. They arrive with their little computers and look up the ISBN numbers to determine if a book can be sold for a profit. I doubt they even look at the titles. Those of us who love books are not happy about this but so far there seems to be nothing much that can be done about it except in the most egregious of cases. As they don't care about the books, and don't even pay attention to the titles, they just scatter them willy-nilly and disrupt the sale for the rest of us. Ah, capitalism, we see your greedy face at every turn.

It seems the bathrooms in the Minneapolis airport are being renovated so that the walls between the stalls will go almost all the way to the floor. Do you think these will be called the new Larry Craig walls? Craig is still resisting resigning from the Senate even though it's clear his Republican ex-buddies don't want him there. In a way I actually feel sorry for him but, what goes around, comes around. Do you think hypocrites go to heaven?

"He can run but he can't hide."
Joe Louis

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Impossible dream

It is now obvious that neither Republicans or Democrats have any intention of getting our troops out of Iraq. I thought Russert's insistence that the Democratic candidates have to say they would agree to no troops in Iraq as of 2013 was an absurd question as no one could know that far in advance what might happen. At the same time one can see that as their confirmation they believe we will probably have troops there for a very long time. None of them (with the exception of Kucinich and Richardson) have any intention of giving up control of all that oil and the Middle East. Thus if Congress does not right now refuse to fund any more of this phony "war" it is going to continue forever or until the oil dries up. However, their apparent belief that we can establish a permanent force in Iraq as we have done in South Korea, is never going to fly. The Iraqis (and the Iranians and others as well) do not want a permanent U.S. occupation in the Middle East. The insurgents will never end their attempt to drive us out of their country. There is not going to be any compliant Iraqi population that is just going to put up with our attempt to steal their oil and control their lives. So unless Congress comes to their senses and cut off any further funding prepare for out troops to be imperiled from now on and apparently forever. Bush/Cheney do not want to bring our troops home, nor do they have any idea of how to do it without admitting defeat (which they are not men enough to admit).

We are in Seattle again for the annual Seattle Library Book Sale (an important source of books for Arabella Books). Coming west, once you get as far as Ellensburg the country is almost indiscribably beautiful with huge mountain peaks and greenery as far as you can see. And now, of course, the deciduous trees and bushes are turning into their gorgeous hues of yellow and red and orange. It's not New England but it's pretty wonderful. Tonight it's raining. We're hungry for rain after our dry and hot summer.

Come on, Bushie, explain to our childrens why they should not have health insurance. I bet they're every bit as afraid of "socialism" as you are, if, that is, you have any idea what socialism is or why we should be so afraid of it. Some things are too important to leave to the private sector, like health care, air and water, and such things. I'd ask you to think about but as I know you don't think I guess that would be pointless. Tell us again that our children is learning and your mission has been accomplished.

"It'a a question of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it don't matter."
Satchel Paige

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

More hot air

I just watched the Democratic "debate." I don't know why. I knew I wouldn't hear anything of any importance, and I didn't. People who expected Obama to attack Hillary must have been disappointed. The same with Edwards. It's as if the Democrats are following the Reagan rule: don't speak ill of other Democrats. Hillary, as usual, was very much in control of herself and made no obvious mistakes of note. I thought most of the questions were absurd as they demanded absolute answers to problems that are not very easy. For example, Russert demanded they answer whether or not they would guarantee all troops out of Iraq by 2013 (the end of their first term). How in the world could anyone answer such a question when no one has any idea of what will be happening between now and then. We could be out of Iraq and back in by 2013. Then he demanded they commit themselves to raising the amount of tax for Social Security benefits, would they do it, yes or no. This was as if there were no other possible ways to go about "saving" social security. Like all of the previous sessions of this kind I think no one probably changed their mind about anything. It was mostly just more hot air with candidates trying to make the best of sometimes ridiculous question and sometimes going off on their pet tangents. Unless something very strange happens it looks to me like Hillary is a shoo-in for the nomination.

The conventional wisdom seems to be taking shape along the lines already predictable. Republicans want Hillary as the Democratic candidate because she has so many negatives there will be a big vote against her and therefore she will be the easiest Democrat to beat. This will probably be true in Idaho but so what, who cares about Idaho. I predict, however, that this may well not prove to be true in many other so-called red states. Hillary is a formidable candidate with an excellent organization. She has so far ran a clever campaign and has come across as much more likeable than anyone thought. There is no doubt she knows the issues and is well informed about them all. Like her or not she stands out as a serious and first-class candidate, more than you can say about any of the Republican candidates (about as hopeless a lot as you will ever see). I think the Republicans know they are going down and are not enthusiastic about their lackluster candidates. They are probably following their usual strategy: mess things up hopelessly, dump it on a Democratic President, do everything they can to prevent the new President from being successful at anything, and then trying to regain power. As they recognize Hillary (of the DLC) as at worst Republican-lite they think she won't do too much damage to their corporate fascist plans.

All in all pretty much a waste of time. Dodd was pretty good. Biden was a bit full of himself as usual. Richardson I thought was better than expected. Obama and Edwards failed to score. Gravel was gravelly as always. Kucinich was brilliant but who pays any attention to him. A tragedy that he wasn't born six inches taller. Pity no one ever asks the candidates my favorite question: what do you intend to do about the Bush/Cheney/Rice/Rumsfeld/neocon war crimes? Does this mean we are going to go on pretending they didn't happen? Are they going to completely escape any accountability? Are we not living in a pea soup of denial and obfuscation that puts Alice in Wonderland to shame?

By the way, Bill Sali voted his predictable "no" on child health care. What a guy! As we used to say, as useless as tits on a boar.

"In a real dark night of the soul it is always three o'clock in the morning."
F. Scott Fitzgerald

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

New lows

My god! Hide your children! Hide yourself! Get under the bed or in a closet and pull something over your eyes. He's coming to New York. You know who, Ahmadinejad, that Iranian guy who thinks the Holocaust never happened and wants to wipe Israel off the map. Well, no, he does think the Holocuast happened. And he never said he wanted to wipe Israel off the map. That's what our MSM keep telling us he said but, of course, as usual, they don't get it quite right. But the President of Columbia University said himself that Ahmadinejad was a petty and cruel dictator. Well, he isn't really quite that. Actually he is only one of a number of Iranian leaders and does not have the power to do very much all on his own. He's an anti-semite and hates the Jews. Well, not exactly, there are Jews in Iran and they live pretty much as they choose and are represented in the Iranian Parliament. Well, he's meddling in Iraq where he has no business being. Iraq borders Iran and they have had a history of conflict so why would Iran not be interested in what goes on in Iraq. Well, they're meddling in our affairs. Our affairs, oh, yeah, it is our business what goes on in Iraq, 8000 miles away, but not the business of their neighbors. Well, why do the Iranians hate us? Actually the Iranian people don't hate us although they would have every reason to do so - our CIA did depose their duly elected leader in favor of forcing the Shah on them against their will, and we have turned down all of their attempts to establish friendly relations with us in the past few years, and we're now threatening to blow up their country, and such things. But golly, it's our right to tell those people in the Middle East how to live and what to do with their oil. And what right do they have to develop nuclear energy anyway? Just because they say they are following the law (and seem to be doing just that) we know they are lying (even though there is no evidence of that). But they are just being stubborn and don't want to do what we want them to do. I know, let's just blow them up and destroy their country in one big example of our shock and awe program. That'll fix everything.

Can you believe it? The complete and utter bullshit we are being asked to believe about Iran? Iran has not invaded anyone for hundreds of years as far as I know. Can we say the same? Ahmadinejad has said point blank they do not want war and have no intention of attacking Israel even though they believe Israel has not acted properly toward the Palestinians (and they are quite right on this point). They have extended an olive branch towards us and been summarily rejected by Cheney who seems to be determined to attack them (oil, you know, they have lots of it and Cheney wants it).
We are on the wrong side of this just as we were (are) in Iraq.

But not to worry. At this very moment our Senate is voting on whether or not we should divide Iraq up into three parts, Kurds, Sunnis, and Shiites. You got that? Our Senate is deciding what to do with the citizens of a Sovereign nation (or at least a pretend one). Now come on, what business do we have telling the Iraqis they should divide up? Who are we to determine what is best for Iraq? This is American imperialism and paternalism and racism and ignorance multiplied to the highest degree.

Duncan Hunter will save us. He is going to introduce legislation to deny any form of government monies to Columbia University because they had the temerity, the poor judgment, the dangerous idea of inviting Ahmadinejad to speak at their University. This, I believe, is a new low in the tradition of free speech and academic freedom. What is it that Hunter fears so much? That he might have to listen to someone else's ideas? I think the most unfortunate part of this is that we seem to have a lot of Duncan Hunters. How else could he have gotten elected?

About the only thing lower than Duncan Hunter I can think of at the moment is Rudy Giuliani. You know, Mr. 9/11. Rudy's main claim to be Presidential material is his supposed heroics on 9/11 (which are disputed by a great many New Yorkers). With Rudy every day, every hour, every minute is 9/11. His supporters are putting on a fund raiser for him where every guest is asked to contribute exactly $9.11. If this is not a new low in fund raising I don't know what is. Rudy claims (ha ha) that he knew nothing about it. Would Rudy exploit 9/11? Do bears do it in the woods?

"The world cannot continue to wage war like physical giants and to seek peace like intellectual pygmies."
Basil O'Conner

Monday, September 24, 2007

Disgraceful - word of the day

In all my years in academia I never saw a performance as disgraceful as the one put on today by the President of Columbia University. Having invited Ahmadinejad to speak to the students at Columbia he proceeded to trash and insult him before he even had a chance to speak. Not only was this rude and as far as I know unprecedented, it was also rife with questionable assertions and downright falsehoods. And it was directed at Ahmadinejad personally, even to the point of calling him a petty and cruel dictator. It was an absolutely ridiculous performance. Since when do we invite speakers and then proceed to insult them before they even give their speech? Quite frankly, if I were on the Board of Regents of Columbia University I would question the ability of the President to conduct the affairs of the University. I believe the Iranians would, in fact, like to be at peace and would like to be friendly with the U.S. They have made advances in the past only to be rejected by Bush/Cheney. We are certainly not likely to achieve any diplomatic breakthroughs when our prevailing assumptions are that Iran is part of an axis of evil and their President is a petty and cruel dictator (which, when applied to Ahmadinejad is simply absurd). Unfortunately, the President of Columbia University presented us with a case study of the ugly, uninformed American who knows nothing of Iran or Iranian culture but doesn't hesitate to tell us just what is what in that ancient land where poetry was being written while we were still wearing the skins of animals.

Even the newspeople who covered the event performed disgracefully, some more than others. It truly was if all these people, both on the right and the left, were in possession of the absolute truth about Iran and Ahmadinejad and simply did not even want to listen. They made all kinds of claims which are at least open to question, and some that were just downright false. I was absolutely astounded at their willingness to accept as fact many of the very things that were supposed to be open for discussion. Given this universal negative attitude I think it was amazing that anyone would have invited him to speak in the first place (and of course there were many who did not want him invited). One woman even went to far as to claim the University was not the place to promote free speech. She seemed to believe that the only venue for such a strange concept was on a soap box in Hyde Park or a street corner. So much for free speech in America. I have no doubt Ahmadinejad will make lots of points at home and I suspect he might have made some here as well (if, that is, he hadn't made the bizarre claim that homosexuality doesn't exist in Iraq).

Then there is Bush's disgraceful treatment of the Israeli/Palestinian problem. For seven years he has done nothing of substance to bring about any kind of compromise or settlement of their differences. Not only that, he has actively promoted the Israeli side of the issue rather than trying to act as a neutral broker. It is too late now for him to pretend to that role. Indeed, it is too late for him to now claim to want to do something about this long-festering problem. So what does he do now that he is a lame duck President? He wants to convene some kind of mickey mouse meeting that is going to seriously consider the problems. According to Condi Rice (remember her) this meeting is to deal with substantive issues. I guess Bush and Rice think they are so clever they'll just wrap up this situation in the last few weeks of Bush's Presidency. I believe this is an absolute insult to both the Israelis and the Palestinians and I will be surprised if all of the proposed participants even show up for this token event. Bush's treatment of this issue has been truly disgraceful and his last minute attempt just underlines how disgraceful.

Let us not forget the performance of our snipers that, again, is truly disgraceful. It turns out they are allowed to "bait" the "enemy." They apparently do this by leaving bits of ammunition or bomb-making materials out where people can see them. Then if an Iraqi is foolish enough to pick it up they assume he must be an enemy and shoot him/her. Of course there is nothing to prevent any curious Iraqi, man, woman, or child, from picking this stuff up, so they all become fair game. Interesting that we are not allowed to bait bears or deer or other game animals but our troops can now bait human beings (Iraqis are human beings in case you haven't heard).

Finally, there is the strange and disgraceful case of Giuliani. It seems no event is important enough for him to turn off his cell phone. So occasionally, in the middle of one of his speeches, his wife decides to call. He obediently answers and tells her he loves her while his audience gasps in disbelief. I guess no one has ever told him how inappropriate this is. Why does this remind me of the movie, Born Yesterday?

"We'll tie Hirohito to the inboard magneto of an RAF mosquito."
Max Schulman (I think)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The obvious truth seeps out

It seems like what should have been obvious all along is finally beginning to seep out. Greenspan spilled the beans about the reasons for attacking Iraq which, of course, had to do with oil. None of the current candidates for President, either Democrats or Republicans (with the exception of Kucinich and Richardson), have any plan to withdraw all of our troops (some will have to stay to protect our interests in the Middle East, our interests having to do with oil). It is impossible to get either the Senate or the House to vote to end the "war" and withdraw our troops - because the basic reason for keeping them there is oil, trillions of dollars worth. So there it finally is - the reason we attacked Iraq. It was not because of WMD's, not to rid them of a dictator, not to spread democracy into the Middle East, nor to seek revenge for Sadam wanting to kill Bush Sr., and not for anything other than the control of Middle East oil. Why didn't they just say so in the first place? Americans would surely have understood the importance of oil to their gas-guzzling habits and probably would have accepted that as a legitimate reason for illegally attacking a sovereign nation that was not otherwise a threat. We would have had to admit we were thieves but what the hell, oil is oil.

There have been large scale protests in Myanamar (Burma) in support of a change towards a different form of government. Someone asked the question: "why hasn't Bush intervened in the Burmese situation as they profess to desire democracy. The reason is simple, there is no oil there worth bothering about.

The hypocrisy surrounding the pretend government Bush/Cheney established in Iraq could never have been made any clearer than with this recent Blackwater fiasco. Blackwater is said to have murdered innocent civilians for no real cause, and there is said to be a videotape proving it. Maliki, our puppet in Iraq, demanded that Blackwater be thrown out of the country. He was soon put to right and naturally dropped the demand. So much for Iraqi sovereignty. But did anyone believe even for an instant that the present Iraqi government was anything other than a puppet one? You do have to give them some credit, they have so far managed to resist our outright theft of their oil, one of the benchmarks we have demanded.

Some interviewer, I think it was whats-his-face Wallace, asked Hillary why she was so partisan. She laughed at him then replied that if he had walked in her shoes for the past 15 or so years he wouldn't have to ask. A truly dumb question and a perfectly good answer. Hillary also voted against the resolution against the MoveOn ad. Although I don't truly fancy her as our candidate I have to admit she's piling up points and deserves to be the frontrunner. Her biggest problem for me is that huge DLC branded on her forehead, far worse than The Scarlet Letter.

"But there is neither East nor West,
border, nor breed, nor birth,
When two strong men stand face to
face, though they come from the
ends of the earth."
Rudyard Kipling

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Just say "no"

Bush is going to ask for another 200 billion dollars to continue his illegal "war." Congress has control of the purse strings. If they truly want to end this atrocious mistake all they have to do is say NO! I suppose we'll have to put up with the usual tripe about leaving our troops without bullets, there will be chaos if we leave (as if there is law and order at the moment), if we don't fight them there we'll have to fight them here (the silliest bunch of crap ever uttered), we broke it so we have to buy (fix) it (after all, it's just like shopping at the Bon), and whatever other utter nonsense they can think of to continue their murderous, rapacious, plundering, indecent ways. Their oil-soaked brains apparently can't think of anything else to do except "stay the course." Staying the course, in this context, means going down with the ship, which we are now witnessing. As things can't really get much worse than they are, what, now, do they have to lose?

I am still trying to figure out what 22 Democrats were thinking when they voted to condemn the MoveOn ad. But, then, I can't figure out what in hell the Democrats are doing anyway. They have the power to impeach Cheney, who sorely deserves it, but refuse to do it. They have the power to impeach Bush, but refuse to do it. They have the power to stop this foolish "war," but refuse to do it. They have the power to prevent a "war" with Iran, but it doesn't look like they will. They could have stopped the confirmation of Roberts, but didn't do it. They could have stopped the appointment of both Ashcroft and Gonzales, but didn't, and on and on. So what's with them? Are they just closet Republicans? Timid beyond belief? Stupid? Too busy raising money to be bothered with governing? Has the Bush Mafia got so much dirt on all of them they are now considered "bought?" I honestly cannot understand them and I find it more than just a little bit disturbing. In fact, I find it terrifying.

Bumper sticker I saw in Seattle: "2008 the end of an error." I hope these nightmare years will, in fact, end, and better times are ahead. Listening to the candidates unfortunately does not inspire me. I fear that Democrats or Republicans,it will continue to be business as usual, including the oil business.

"More important than winning the election, is governing the nation. That is the test of a political party--the acid, final test."
Adlai Stevenson

Friday, September 21, 2007

Private armies

I am totally opposed to a draft which, I believe, is a form of slavery, not much different from the old British practice of commandeering citizens off the streets and out of bars and forcing them to serve in the British navy. There is a term for this but, alas, I cannot remember it at the moment. Anyway, I don't think a government ought to be able to force people to fight in wars they don't believe in, or kill people when it is against their basic principles to do so.

On the other hand, I am very suspicious and fearful of an all volunteer army, and even more fearful and suspicious of private armies such as Blackwater. The danger here, somewhat worse in the latter case than the former, is that you might well end up with an army or militia whose loyalty is only to those who pay them, rather than to their country. There are currently, I have read, more private civilians in Iraw than there are troops. I don't know precisely what all of them are doing, but some of them (Blackwater) are heavily armed and killing people apparently at will, while at the same time answering to no one, neither the military nor the Iraqi government. I find this frightening beyond belief. I want to know how this came about. Who hired all these mercenaries? Where does the money come from? Who approved the organization of a private army? Was it approved by anyone other than Dick Cheney and George Bush? And why was it employed during the Katrina disaster? Does it really have authority to act within the United States? And if so, why? Who said so? How, in fact, did all this come about? Personally, I do not believe this should have been allowed. And I believe it ought to be quickly disbanded. If Bush/Cheney can't find enough troops to fight their illegal "war" they shouldn't be allowed to continue it. Let them try to start a draft and we'll see how popular this disgusting business of theirs really is.

After the recent shameful performance by the Democrats in Congress over the MoveOn ad I have now given up all hope for them. Apparently, like Republicans, they don't really believe in free speech. And they also apparently believe that Republicans ought to be allowed to get away with any gutter tactics they wish but Democrats should not be allowed even to express an opinion. As I mentioned last night, don't forget what they did to John Kerry, McCain, and above all, Max Cleland. All of these cases were far worse than MoveOn's ad, far worse. Furthermore, Bush had no business using Petraeus in a political context and Petraeus had no business meddling in politics. Bush pays no attention to the rules or precedents or laws even when he might actually be aware of them (which is probably not often). Bush and Cheney get up in front of their audiences and tell the most outrageous falsehoods and no one ever calls them on it. It's as if everyone is terrified of them (and perhaps they are). It appears to me that Republicans (and unfortunately some Democrats) actually want them to tell lies (apparently it makes them feel better and assuages their guilt).

I think we should vote all members of the Senate and the House out of office, ALL OF THEM, NO EXCEPTIONS). We could pick people at random off the streets and do better than this hopeless bunch of idle nose-picking nincompoops. Even the ones in the positions of power seem unable to get anything done. In truth, they don't even seem to want to get anything done. I say they should all go. Let us start over completely from scratch. Better yet, perhaps, let's pick at random from our better High School students, pose the problems for them to solve, and let them go at it. They could not possibly do a worse job than our current crop of self-centered politicians who only worry about where their next donation is coming from. And please, let us rid ourselves of the absurd claim that Corporations are people. And let's bring our troops home before any more blood is spilled for oil and greed. And finally, let's hold accountable those responsible for this terrible and unnecessary disaster.

"The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers."
Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Bill Sali, un-American

Yes, I have concluded after some thought about it, that Bill Sali is fundamentally un-American. Why do I think so? Consider his voting record. Sali has voted "no" repeatedly. I don't know the actual percentage of no votes compared with yes votes but I suspect it is very high indeed, perhaps even as much as 90%. If all of the bills he has voted against could be considered harmful to the United States one might conclude that he is a true patriot standing up to protect his country. But none of those bills, whether you might agree with them or not, were designed to harm the U.S. On the contrary, they were all designed to improve the lives of Americans in one way or another. If this is true, and I assure you it is true, I can only conclude that Sali does not have the best interest of our country in mind when he casts his negative votes - that is, put simply, he is un-American. What makes his record even more questionable is that by voting against virtually everything, and being consistently part of a small minority of negative voters, his vote is virtually useless. He might just as well not vote at all. In either case, that is, if he is un-American or just throws his vote away, he does nothing whatsoever for the state of Idaho. If his constituents think otherwise they must be strange types indeed.

What is all this to-do about MoveOn's ad about Bush's pet General, Petraeus (betray-us)? Republicans are upset and think it was disrespectful. I guess they didn't think it was so bad when they attacked Cleland, a triple amputee in the service of his country, or when they attacked McCain for having a black baby, or when they maliciously attacked John Kerry, a decorated American veteran, or when they treasonously outed a CIA agent, and etc. I have no sympathy whatsoever for these rotten hypocrites. The Democrats who went along with this condemnation of MoveOn are worse than the Republicans. What on earth were they thinking? I have believed for a long time now that there are almost as many Democrats who have swallowed the Bush/Cheney kool-aid as Republicans. Every time they do something stupid like this just confirms my beliefs about them.

Similarly, I don't understand what the fuss is about over Greenspan's statement in his new book that the Iraq "war" was (is) about oil. This is news? I'm sorry, but I am an absolute nobody in a small town in a remote area of Idaho and I knew it was about oil. I always knew it was about oil. To have not thought it was about oil you would have had to believe that with ten to twelve years of constant overflights, inspectors on the ground, and even Colin Powell three months before the attack saying Iraq was no threat, it was about WMD's. Most of the world, including most Governments, didn't believe the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rice claims of a possible mushroom cloud, etc. And as the U.S. has supported dictators all around the world for years you could not have believed it was to remove a dictator. And no one in their right mind could have believed it was "to spread democracy." It had to be about oil. Nothing could have been more obvious. If Bush/Cheney had just leveled with us and said it was about oil we'd be a lot better off. But as they are both congenital liars I guess that was beyond them. At least American citizens could have considered whether or not they wanted to trade blood for oil. Given their love affair with their cars, trucks, ATV's, personal watercraft, motorcycles, car races, and demolition derbys they may well have agreed to the bargain. I just can't believe people are treating Greenspan's admission as some kind of revelation.

Once you have made a fool of yourself you cannot litigate your way out of it. Larry Craig will be known forever as Larry (wide stance) Craig and there is nothing he can do about it. If he is truly innocent (which I very much doubt) I hope he wins his appeal, but even if he does it won't change anyone's perception of him.

And here we have Idaho,
winning her way to shame...

"The melancholy days are come, the
saddest of the year,
Of wailing winds, and naked woods,
and meadows brown and sere."
William Cullen Bryant

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

O.J.,O.J., all the time

No blog night before last because our computers were down. No blog last night because we were in Seattle late.

Once again it's O.J. all the time. When was it O.J. was first involved in the "incident?" I've lost track. This morning when I finally woke the first thing I saw on the news was the empty courtroom where O.J. was supposed to appear sometime this morning. I was informed with all seriousness that there were 100 seats. Then later I saw the same courtroom with about a dozen people in it, then later when there were about thirty, then later when there were more. I didn't stick with it long enough, however, to actually catch what was said to be at most a five minute appearance by the man himself. It's just O.J. all the time and no doubt will be for a while longer. Having endured his trial for murder and a ridiculous verdict, and then his civil trial and its apparently unenforceable fine, I frankly don't give a damn about O.J. If he deserves jail please put him there and keep him away from the news media.

How many cops does it take to taser a college student? Apparently six, five to hold him down and immobilize him and one to do the tasering. How many times does it take to taser and kill a schizophrenic woman in a wheelchair? Apparently ten times within the space of two minutes. I recall it was not long ago the police tasered a six year old girl. There have been many other instances of what appears to be unnecessary tasering. So what's with this ubiquitous tasering? Are our police not being properly trained to subdue people without tasering them? Are they just irresponsible? Does tasering offer them an easy way to do their duty? If six policepersons cannot subdue one sober college student without tasering him I think something is wrong. I don't know the answer but I do know they have in the past year or so proven (to me, at least) they should not be allowed to have tasers, any more than teen-agers should be allowed cell phones while driving (personally, I don't think adults should be either). If tasers cannot be be used properly and with restraint I think they should not be allowed.

I refuse to ever again comment on Britney, Lohan, or any of the other stupid self-destructive bimbos that are cluttering up the (supposed) news. Did you know there was a "war" going on? Did you know we are going to "win?" What it is we are going to win I am not sure. But one thing we are not going to win is the respect and admiration of the people of the Middle East, no matter how many we torture and kill.

We have found a truly wonderful German restaurant in Seattle, Feierabend, in a somewhat obscure location just off Eastlake near the REI. Authentic German food and many imported German beers. Our lunch was superb, a gigantic Eisbein (Schweinhaxen) with spaetzle and red cabbage (all for $15, a true bargain). One of those rare places you find nowadays that you know you will return to again and again, at least as long as it lasts. Truly fine restaurants don't always last long in the United States, turning over about as fast as used car lots. I guess there is just too much competition from the fast food joints. Who can resist a Wendy's burger with two hamburger patties, a slice of cheese, and six slices of bacon? Or all you can eat pizza? Or all you can eat spaghetti? Or all you can eat most anything? It's the American way to eat (I'm sure the French or Italians shudder at the thought). Do you think there are hot dog eating contests in France or Italy? Somehow I doubt it.

"No drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we're
looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn't test people for drugs,
we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power."
-P.J. O'Rourke, writer.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Rock bottom, coming up

If the current crop of Republican candidates is not bad enough we now can look forward to new lows. I mean, Guiliani, Thompson, Romney, Huckabee, et al, are all pretty bad when looked at very closely. Guiliani is little more than an opportunistic crook, Thompson reminds me of a giant dumb beast, Romney is a Mormon who can't distinguish between truth and fiction. Huckabee is, well, Huckabee. But now (drum roll) Allen Keyes has said he will enter the race. Hooray, a new and exciting candidate, except for the fact that he is an ultra right-wing lunatic that couldn't get elected dogcatcher anywhere except maybe in an asylum someplace. But not to worry, our savior may be about to arrive on his white horse. Yes, I mean him, Newt Gingrich, the pompous, pedantic, professorial, patronizing, pontificator. The guy Republicans think of as one of their real idea guys. Newt's strong points include blatant, shameful hypocrisy, lying, and admitted adultery. He thinks the latter shouldn't be held against him because he didn't lie about it. I think he also originated the idea that oral sex wasn't really cheating on his wife (although in Clinton's case he thought it was). He was, as you may recall, forced out of Congress because of certain indiscretions having to do with money, among other things. He also distinguished himself by serving divorce papers on his first wife while she was in he hospital with cancer. See, a real diplomatic type. Apparently he is willing to sacrifice himself on the altar of the Presidency to save us from Hillary, said to be his worst enemy (when convenient, that is, hypocrites don't really have enemies). He does make Guiliani look like a piker when it comes to women, and at least he's ambitious when compared to the big dumb beast who can't be bothered to know or remember anything and is said to be lazy. He's a much bigger and better liar than Romney and he's not a Mormon. I don't know if he believes in evolution or not. My impression is he believes in anything that will work to his advantage at the moment. He plans to travel around talking with people and trying to raise money. I would love to see him as the Republican candidate for President but I kind of doubt that even Republicans can be that stupid (I could easily be very wrong about this, and one can only hope).

I am beginning to worry about underwear. It seems that some of the prisoners at Guantanamo are wearing underwear that is not the approved issue. What a scandal! Where did this illicit underwear come from? Who gave it to them? Was their regular GI underwear so uncomfortable they complained and arranged to have new underwear smuggled in? There is, I suppose, cause for alarm, for if underwear can be smuggled in, what else might be? That is precisely why I am so worried about this deplorable situation. Think of all the things one might want smuggled into a prison. I don't know about you, but for me underwear would not be a high priority item. So why did someone only smuggle in underwear? You see the problem - it just doesn't make sense. There has to be more here than meets the eye. This is probably going to keep me up all night. Never mind habeas corpus, torture and injustice, the fact that we are being universally condemned for Guantanamo, this underwear fiasco is really important.

"As crude a weapon as the cave man's club, the chemical barrage has been hurled against the fabric of life."
Rachel Carson

Saturday, September 15, 2007

About oil

The "war" in Iraq was primarily about oil, so claims Alan Greenspan in his book which is about to be released. This will be a bit awkward for the White House as they have denied for years that it was about oil, had anything to do with oil, what oil, oh, that oil. If Greenspan believes it was about oil why didn't he say so years ago when it might have done more good. Of course it was (is) about oil. Did you really believe it was about anything else? Non-existent WMD's? Getting rid of a dictator? Spreading democracy in the Middle East? Helping the Iraqis? It's about oil, pure and simple. That is precisely why Bush/Cheney have no intention of ever leaving (until, perhaps, the oil is exhausted), never had any intention of leaving, and why most of the Democratic candidates believe we should stay there also. Oil, oil, oil, better these days, than gold. It's going to run out one of these days, but what the hell, drive all you want in whatever you want before the good times run out. What do you think will overtake us first, global warming or no oil? I wonder what will happen to all our freeways, highways, parking garages, service stations, mechanics, and etc. when we no longer have any oil. The assumption seems clearly to be that we will (with our great homo sapiens ingenuity) figure out some new method of moving our cars and trucks (electricity? hydrogen? rubber bands? or?). But what if we decided to do something actually sensible, like turn to efficient and more economical train travel like they do in Europe? Had we been sensible we would have stuck with the trains in the first place and not listened to the auto and oil industry siren songs, about the biggest mistake we ever made. What if we'd been more salmon friendly and not designed so many destructive dams? What if we'd controlled our use of chemicals more rigorously? What if we'd paid more attention to global warming? What if...Oh, never mind. We have never as a species done anything but foul our own nests, why expect anything more now? Besides, it might cost money and require leadership to do anything sensible.

I see where some of our fast-food chains are switching to a more healthy cooking oil. I guess that is sensible, for a change. But I also noticed today that Wendy's is apparently bucking the trend. They have an ad on tv at the moment for a burger that has not only two hamburger patties with a piece of cheese in between, but also six (count em!) slices of bacon. Why don't they serve us a razor blade so we can just cut our wrists? This would seem to fit right in with Spokane's annual event aptly named "Pig out at the Park." It's truly ironic, I think, that when I was a child my mother always cautioned me to think about the starving Chinese, or the starving Armenians, and such. Now I worry about the not starving at all Americans who are pigging out and eating all you want to the point of epidemic obesity. So why should I worry, in the immortal words of Donald Rumsfeld, "stuff happens." I guess he was too prissy to say "shit happens," like it does on the mugs, from where he probably got the idea. Ah, Donald, I wish I could say I miss you, but I certainly don't. You either Gonzales.

"My argument is that War makes rattling good history, but Peace is poor reading."
Thomas Hardy

Friday, September 14, 2007

Nonsense of the moment

It's a pretty slow news day today unless you're interested in a lot of nonsense.

Do I care that O.J. is involved in some weird situation that apparently had something or other to do with his memorabilia? No.

Do I care that there are some people who are trying to suggest that Condi may be a lesbian? No.

Do I care that quarters bounce off her butt? No, but it is mildly amusing.

Do I care that Britney is going to apologize for her lack of talent and says she just wants to be a mom? No.

Does it bother me that Bush lies about the situation in Iraq? Not really, he's never told the truth since taking office. I'm used to it. I no longer pay much attention to what he says.

Does it bother me that Cheney surfaces once in a while and tells outrageous lies? No, it only bothers me that he exists at all.

Bush did say one thing that caught my attention, if, that is, I heard it correctly. He said Iraq was our "ally," and that we would stay there with them for a long time (forever?). This is a country that we illegally invaded and have totally ruined. Iraqi insurgents have been fighting against us all this time and a majority of Iraqis want us to leave. Bush sees them as an ally? This is understandable I think if you understand that Bush/Cheney's intention all along has been to maintain a presence in Iraq to shepherd our "interests." Our interests have to do with oil. They foresee a military presence in Iraq like our military presence in South Korea. Under this plan Iraq cannot refuse to be an ally because they aren't going to have any other option. I think it is unlikely that the Iraqis are going to go for this, which means they will be killing our occupying troops from now until doomsday (which may not be too far off). The permanent bases and 600 billion dollar "embassy" we have built were presumably not constructed just to turn them over to Iraqi boy scouts or the Olympics. Do you think Bush has consulted the Iraqis about this astonishing claim (other than, perhaps, some of the puppets he has installed there pretending to be the government)? I don't think the Iraqis are going to want to be our ally while we slowly drain away their resources. But what do I know? Nothing.

Another interesting development is the agreement between Hunt Oil of Texas and the Kurds to develop the latter's oil. From the Iraqi point of view this is illegal as the Kurds should be obliged to share the oil with the rest of the country. So, at the very moment we pretend to be insisting that all elements of the country come together under a single unity government an American company is undermining that very possibility. Would you think that Mr. Hunt's personal relationship with Bush, and the fact that he has donated millions to help establish Bush as President, might have anything to do with this? Hunt serves on some high level committees that are privy to many Administration secrets. Does he know that Iraq is never going to have a unity government? Could this be in any way related to Bush's insistence that we are going to have to maintain a presence there for eternity (or perhaps until the oil is exhausted)? After all, if the Iraqis fail to come together they will need our presence to help maintain order and etc. Could this all be part of the same master plan that was cooked up secretly between Cheney and the Oil Company's? I am such a conspiracy nut.

But enough of paranoia and suspicion. Let me report on my culinary skills. On the rare occasions when my wife is not present I take the opportunity to cook for myself (I cannot claim the expertise and talent of my wife but I am not terrible as a cook). Usually I cook something I like that I know my wife would not eat under any circumstances, like pickled pigs feet, liver and onions, eisbein (pig knuckles), and stuff like that. Today I decided to cook Frogs legs Provencal. I had only eaten frogs legs twice in my life before and I didn't like them very well. I thought perhaps if I cooked them myself I would like them better (I have tried this with eggplant but it didn't work at all). Where did I find frogs legs in North Idaho? I didn't. You would never find frogs legs in North Idaho in a million years (only [horrors] the French would eat anything that disgusting). I happened upon them (frozen) in Creston, B.C. where we sometimes shop and where they have many things you would never find in Bonners Ferry (veal, octopus, squid, arctic char, pigs knuckles and etc.). I followed a recipe from Craig Clairbourn that was remarkably simple. I can report that I thought the frogs legs were quite tasty, much like chicken. Of course cooking them Provencal meant they also tasted much like tomato and garlic. But they were fine. The problem with frogs legs, I learned, is that they are about half meat and half bone. Although they were tasty I concluded they really weren't worth the effort, what with all the small bones and the snide remarks I had to endure from some friends. These particular frogs legs were imported from Vietnam. They were small. Maybe if I had bigger ones from home? Naw, I think I'm through with frogs legs

"To admit authorities, however heavily furred and gowned, into our libraries and let them tell us how to read, what to read, what value to place upon what we read, is to destroy the spirit of freedom which is the breath of those sanctuaries. Everywhere else we may be bound by laws and conventions--there we have none."
Virginai Woolf

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Sure, white man

In 1961 I was living in a small and remote village in the Eastern Highlands region of Papua New Guinea. My nearest European neighbor was about seven miles away on a small coffee plantation. I had been living there alone for some time, living with the natives, and conducting anthropological field work. I am quite certain they had no very good idea as to why I was there, but had accepted me, built me a small house, and we got along well. I liked them (most of them) and felt comfortable with them.

You remember it was in 1961 when we sent a chimpanzee in a rocket into space. Friends in the U.S. had sent me a magazine with an article about it. The natives didn't read, of course, but they looked at the pictures and wanted to know what it was about. There are no monkeys or apes of any kind in New Guinea, nor any rocket ships. The people were by no means stupid but as might be expected, they were entirely ignorant of such matters. So how would you explain such a thing as a chimpanzee in a rocket to a bunch of semi-naked natives holding bows and arrows. I started to explain what a chimpanzee was. No, not a man, but sort of like a man. An animal with long arms and somewhat hairy that lived both on the ground and in the trees. I even demonstrated by hunching down and dragging my knuckles on the ground and grunting. No, they didn't have talk, they just made grunting noises, I explained. They were only found in Africa, a place a long, long way away, where the people were black just like they were. The chimpanzees ate bananas and other vegetable things (as they grew bananas and sweet potatoes and other crops they could deal with this, they shook their heads in approval). No, the chimpanzees didn't grow their food, they just found it in the forest like tree possums and wild pigs (they frowned). Then I tried to explain that a rocket ship was sort of like a plane (they had seen small planes) but different, It didn't have wings but it could fly very fast and very, very far, even far out into the sky, all the way to the moon. I explained that we were actually getting ready to send a man to land on the moon. They looked blank, with incomprehension. They believed that the moon was married to the sun and also had something to do with menstruation. The idea that men, even white men, could go there did not ring any bells with them. Anyway, by the time I finished my feeble attempts to explain the wonders of science and the existence of chimpanzees I knew I had lost them. They looked at me rather as if they thought I had completely lost my mind. It wasn't merely that they didn't believe me, it was worse than that. They had no idea what the hell I was even talking about. Melanesian Pidgin does not allow for precision, none of them spoke English. I had tried never to lie to them in our past dealings and I felt I had established their trust, but this performance threatened to undo all I thought I had achieved. They seemed to be both amazed and incredulous, uncertain as to how to react, or even to react at all.

Why do I mention this here and now? Because when I listened to Bush's speech tonight (I had no choice as my wife and son insisted on having it on) that same feeling overcame me. I looked at Bush incredulous, amazed at the remarkable things he was saying. He might just as well have been me trying to explain chimps in outer space. It wasn't simply that I no longer believe him, it was more like being in some kind of space and time warp or slowly waking up from an anaesthetic. Sort of like when trying to explain to Bush supporters that no, there were no WMD's. No, Sadam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11. No, there was no yellowcake deal. Outing a CIA operative is really an act of treason. Torture is a war crime, and yes, Libby really was guilty of lying. There were no al Qaida in Iraq before the "war," and so on. They look at me with the same disbelief I encountered in New Guinea. But the New Guinea Highlanders in 1961 had a legitimate claim to their ignorance, what excuse do Bush supporters have?

"The trouble with writing a book about yourself is that you can't fool. If you write about someone else, you can stretch the truth from here to Finland. If you write about yourself the slightest deviation makes you realize instantly that there may be honor among thieves, but you are just a dirty liar."
Groucho Marx

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Is it or isn't it?

Is a pre-emptive "war" against a sovereign nation that is no threat to you a war crime or is it not? Are torture and secret renditions war crimes or not? Is hiding prisoners from the Red Cross a war crime or not? Etc., etc. for a number of the other sordid facts associated with the Iraq disaster. I say Bush/Cheney are guilty of these things. I say they are war crimes and will remain so no matter what the U.N. or anyone else now wants to claim or pretend. I did not know that "assistance mission" was a term used by the U.N. Whether it is or is not, when applied to the current situation in Iraq it is just another shameless euphemism like "collateral damage." The only assistance involved at the moment seems to be assisting their civil war and assisting some in their so-called government to con the rest into giving up their oil. I am flattered to be considered in the same group with Noam Chomsky.

So what is the outcome of the long anticipated Petraeus/Crocker report? Nothing. We are exactly where we were when we started. "Stay the course," Bush's sole plan for Iraq is just like it always has been. Petraeus's claim that he wrote the report and didn't show it to anyone beforehand is an obvious crock and Crocker basically admitted that he doesn't have the slightest idea where this is all going or where, if ever, it will end. A complete waste of three days. But what does it matter, Congress wouldn't have accomplished much of anything anyway as it's not yet time for them to vote themselves another raise.

Senator Dodd came out for the decriminilization of marijuana. Hooray! Another faint glimmer of common sense and hope in the sea of idiocy that surrounds our dismally failed "war on drugs." Drug abuse is a medical problem in spite of the attempt to convert it into a political problem and thereby ruin thousands of lives in the process. There do seem to be increasing numbers of influential people coming out in favor of legalization, but certainly don't hold your breath. Common sense and reality don't seem to be much in fashion in these nightmare years of the 21st century.

We still have our skunk. I have learned it's good to have a skunk. Far be it from me to harm the gorgeous little critter, but I think our elegant little kitten, Katie, may be falling in love with him. Watch out Katie, he may break your heart.

"Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom."
Bertrand Russell

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Strange ideas

Bubblehead: You're right, we don't speak the same language. I never learned to speak "Republican spin." I take it you must have a direct line to the Republican spin machine. The U.N. did not approve of the Bush/Cheney attack on Iraq. When they couldn't get the U.N. to do their bidding they, along with their toady, Blair, went ahead and did what they wanted anyway. Virtually the entire world recognizes that this attack on Iraq was a blatant violation of the U.N. Charter, as well as a violation of our own Constitution. Kofi Annan himself, at the time, said it was illegal. There is no way you can spin it as legal, technically or otherwise. The U.N Charter and the Nuremberg trials make it quite clear: pre-emptive wars are the number one war crime. I have no doubt the Iraqis fired on some of our planes. Bush/Cheney were doing everything they could to provoke Sadam into doing something that would give them an excuse. They even considered falsely identifying a plane as belonging to the U.N., hoping it would be fired on. When Sadam didn't bite they just made up their own excuses: WMD's, toppling a dictator, spreading democracy, he wouldn't let the inspectors in, and blah, blah, a web of lies so transparent they never should have been believed, let along promoted by the MSM. Furthermore, when the U.S. and Britain went ahead in spite of the disagreement by the other three voting members, it simply made a mockery of the U.N. You don't notice the U.N. or anyone else eager to jump in and pull us out of the fire. Your suggestion that the occupation (an occupation that is itself violating the rules for such things) might be also considered an "assistance mission" is so absurd as to leave me speechless with disbelief.

After six plus years of "war" and two days of reports, we seem to be exactly where we have been all along, nowhere, kicking the can again, as Eugene Robinson suggested, another six months down the road. Petraeus said we're bring some troops home now. These troops were scheduled to come home anyway and their return has nothing to do with the success of the "surge." We'll be bringing another 30,000 home sometime early next year. These troops are coming home anyway because there are no others to replace them and, again, this has nothing to do with the succeess of the surge. Petraeus also reported that he doesn't know if all this is making the U.S. safer or not, "because he hasn't thought about it." Imagine that, fighting a "war" to make us safer from terrorists but he hasn't thought about it. Ambassador what's-his-name (I don't know why I block on his name every time) says he can't give any dates or ideas about when all of this might end (because, of course, under Bush's non-plan it can obviously go on forever). It has now become common knowledge that Bush's only plan is to keep this travesty going until he can pass it on to the next President (who they believe is going to be a Democrat). The Republicans only hope, I guess, is for another 9/11 type attack sometime before the election. I wonder if even that would make any difference now. Oh, yeah, Crocker, it just came to me. Such is the state of our world right now: probable recession, global warming, never-ending war, endless debt, no health insurance for so many millions, environmental degradation, and whatever. What we need, I guess, are more tax breaks for the obscenely wealthy.


"Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder.... the working class who fight all the battles, the working class who make the supreme sacrifices, the working class who freely shed their blood and furnish their corpses, have never yet had a voice in either declaring war or making peace. It is the ruling class that invariably does both. They alone declare war and they alone make peace....They are continually talking about their patriotic duty. It is not their but your patriotic duty that they are concerned about. There is a decided difference. Their patriotic duty never takes them to the firing line or chucks them into the trenches."
Eugene V. Debs

Monday, September 10, 2007

Yes and No

Bubblehead: An interesting question. If Clinton attacked Kosovo entirely on his own, against the wishes of most everyone on earth, I would say yes, that would certainly be a war crime. It is complicated, however, if the U.N. is included. I confess I don't remember all the details of the Kosovo situation. But if the U.N. agreed there was a problem that required a military solution I guess I would not consider that a war crime (and perhaps not, strictly speaking, even a preemptive). But remember, there was no agreement from the U.N. for Bush/Cheney to attack Iraq and, indeed, they were opposed as were most of the nations and people on earth. In any case, Kosovo wasn't attacked to try to control their oil. There must be a difference between a military involvement to deal with an agreed upon humanitarian problem and one designed for purely material reasons. Whether Clinton and the U.N. were guilty of war crimes or not, Bush/Cheney clearly are. Why is it that any criticism of Bush/Cheney is met by Republicans with something about Bill Clinton? Clearly Clinton was no great shakes and had his serious problems (Monica and Whitewater were not truly among them) but he is not responsible for the much greater problems of Bush/Cheney.

As near as I can determine Petraeus and Ambassador Cranky (or whatever his name is) are just telling us once again to "stay the course." But realizing, of course, that sufficient troops will not be available next year they are graciously suggesting very modest drawdowns. The Bush/Cheney shell game continues. I suspect the Democratics will eventually cave once again after pretending to want to do otherwise. I will be very surprised if they don't give Bush another 50 billion as money seems to have ceased to have any actual value.

Rummy has surfaced again and is just as nonsensical as ever. I particularly liked his claim that Afghanistan is a success

An interesting piece on Smirking Chimp today about the draft being a moral abomination. Everyone should read it.

Some guy is going to come out with a documentary extolling the notion of Intelligent Design. What a wonderful waste of time and money. No doubt the evangelicals will eat it up, proof, of course, that there is no such thing. Think about it, would an intelligent designer have ever created human beings, creatures who have fouled their own nest so badly it may well be beyond repair, who kill each other by the millions and take pride in it? I don't think so.

"The heart of man is the place the devils dwell in: I feel sometimes a hell within myself."
Sir Thomas Browne

Sunday, September 09, 2007


Well, Bubblehead, your are about to render me speechless with confusion. I scarcely know where to begin. The facts are clear, I believe, that Bush/Cheney and their minions lied to get us into a preemptive "war" against a sovereign country that was no threat to us or anyone else at the time we attacked. A preemptive "war" is a clearly defined war crime. Ignore for the moment the torture, killing of unarmed civilians, use of illegal weapons, etc. The fact that some individual soldiers may have been prosecuted for war crimes is basically irrelevant to this more basic issue. Will Bush/Cheney and their underlings be held accountable for their war crimes? You may be right that I am naive for believing this might happen but whether I am naive about it or not doesn't change the facts. You agree that war crimes have been committed but seem to think only by a few individual soldiers. That, I believe, is naive in the extreme, to say nothing of shamelessly ill-informed.

The insurgents commit war crimes also but only get punished if we catch or kill them. While the insurgents may commit war crimes while trying to remove our illegal occupying forces, they are at least trying to defend their country from blatant aggressors who are trying to steal their resources. Trying to defend your country and your resources is certainly not, in and of itself, a war crime. Premptively attacking a sovereign nation is a war crime.

In the course of this unnecessary "war" hundreds of thousands of innocent people have been killed and millions displaced from their homes amid untold misery and hardships. Hundreds of our best young people have given up their lives for this doomed cause and thousands more have been seriously wounded and their lives ruined forever. Following your argument, such as it is, this is not evil, because we could, if we wished, kill all of the Iraqis. Thus it would apparently only be evil if we killed everyone. So, Bush/Cheney, having not killed everyone, are not evil. I find this such a bizarre argument I can only conclude you have been drinking too deeply of the Bush/Cheney kool-aid.

Football mania is upon us. I like football, especially High School and College footall. I occasionally even watch part of a game. But, really, football on thursday night, friday night, all day saturday and sunday and then on monday night? Isn't that a bit much? It does help to keep our minds off the "war." What war? Oh, yeah, that "war." It's so easy to forget about it when you're not personally involved. How many killed today? Oh, that many. Gee, too bad. Have some more popcorn, the game is about to begin. Wow! Didja see that hit?

Problems closer to home: I think one of our kittens is spending her nights with a skunk. I know we have a skunk as there are telltale little holes all over the yard. I think the kitten stays out all night with the skunk and then passes out during the day. The other two cats never spend the night out. I have learned from google that it is not uncommon for cats and skunks to get along. I can hardly wait until she brings him home for dinner. I am trying to harvest plums before the deer get them all. They are not quite ripe but the deer are impatient. As there are few huckleberries this year we expect the bears any time now. They find the plums, pears, and garbage irresistible. We no longer feed the birds as the cats kill them and the bears eat the seeds. Its the eternal story of man against nature. Oh, well, things could be worse. We could be Republicans.

"Today the world faces a single man armed with weapons of mass destruction, manifesting an aggressive, bullying attitude, who may well plunge the world into chaos and bloodshed if he miscalculates. This person, belligerent, arrogant, and sure of himself, truly is the most dangerous person on Earth. The problem is that his name is George W. Bush, and he is our president."
Jack M. Balkin, Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Ammendment, Yale Law School, September 22, 2002


Saturday, September 08, 2007


Bubblehead: I am pleased to hear from you that I am "naive but willing to learn." Tell me, am I naive because (1)I think war crimes are being committed? (2)I expect those guilty of war crimes to be held accountable? (3) I expect Congress to do something about it? Am I to infer from your comment that you think everything is okay because it's just political "business as usual," and that's "just the way things work?"

I read today that for the first time our military has used a drone aircraft to kill a couple of Iraqis. This was a Hunter unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capable of dropping precision bombs. I recall that a few months ago I read that we had a robot patrolling the streets of Bagdad. Does this mean that it will become literally true that "he who has the most toys wins?" There is something I find very disturbing about these developments. Somehow it just doesn't seem right. Of course I guess it would eventually solve the problem of not having enough troops to do the job. Indeed, you would hardly need any troops at all, just a bunch of nerds housed someplace where they could play with their toys. It would certainly put a new face on "war." I guess it also implies that the nation with the most advanced technology would always win. If that's the case we had better watch out for Japan, China, and India who are rapidly outdistancing us in the technology area. As far as I know the Japanese have not yet developed one of their robots to kill (being civilized the idea probably hasn't crossed their minds as yet). I'm not sure just how effective a robotic army/navy/airforce would do against a Chinese army of a million or two dedicated soldiers. They could always dig some simple holes as the Viet Cong did, thus rendering the bombing not so useful (unless maybe we used our nuclear arsenal). This whole idea of using sophisticated machines against enemies (who are, after all, people) raises a host of questions.

Not the least of which is the fact that the very idea is (to me, at least) morally reprehensible! I suppose it's just small potatoes for those who routinely drop bombs from 30,000 feet on innocent civilians (I've never been able to consider this quite acceptable either). Oh, well, I guess if Bush/Cheney decide to go nuclear it really won't matter much one way or the other. I guess this is just the way things work in the "real world" (of the totally insane). Who knows what horrible things the weapons people may have in store for us in the future, but you can bet that at this very moment someone, somewhere, is working on a design so fantastically horrible that we cannot even imagine it. What if someone worked out a way to achieve and maintain peace? Naw, the military/industrial/political crowd would never go for that. There's no profit in it. Frankly, I doubt anyone is even working on it. Only a Dennis Kucinich would think of such a thing (Dennis Kucinich - anyone ever hear of him). I've been reading a lot lately about "savages" and "savagery." I don't know why I bother. All I have to do is read the paper and turn on the news.

"As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead trying to kill me. They do not feel any enmity against me as an individual, nor I against them. They are only doing their duty, as the saying goes. Most of them, I have no doubt, are kind-hearted law-abiding men who would never dream of committing murder in private life. On the other hand, if one of them succeeds in blowing me to pieces with a well-placed bomb, he will never sleep any worse for it. He is serving his country, which has the power to absolve him from evil."
George Orwell London. UK. 1941

Friday, September 07, 2007

Collective denial

We appear to be engaged in a massive case of national denial. Most everyone seems to go on pretending that nothing is wrong with what is happening. The problem, it seems to me, is not that there is a "war" going on, the problem is there is a horrible WAR CRIME going on. When Bush, for example, in his usual idiotic mode says "we are kicking ass," the response, even by the critics, aside from the rolling of eyes, is that we are not doing that very well, if at all. No one questions whether the kicking of ass is right or wrong, merely that it either is or is not working. This is just one example of virtually all of the criticism of Bush's "war." No one seems to criticize it as a war crime, just that he isn't successful at it. When Huckabee says we need to exit Iraq with honor people either agree or not, but they don't say, "how do you exit a war crime with honor?" When McCain stands by chanting "the surge is working, the surge is working," no one seems to think of this as cheering for an ongoing war crime. There seems to be the assumption that what we have been doing in Iraq is somehow right and proper. It is not right and proper, it is an ongoing blatant, illegal, unconstitutional, unnecessary, greed-driven, criminal act. We had no right to attack Iraq, none whatsoever. Iraq was not a threat to us or anyone else when we decided to attack. They had nothing to do with 9/11, nothing to do with Al-Quaida, and nothing to do with WMD's. The claim that everyone thought they had WMD's is just plain bullshit. Millions of people and dozens of governments did not believe that and tried to make it clear they did not believe it. We have no business continuing in Iraq unless it might be to atone for our horrible actions in the first place, which is pretty clearly not what we are about. But we persist, and we listen to those evil people who brought this about as if they have something worthwhile to say about it. We just want the Iraqis to get their house in order politically - bs. We want them to have a democratic government - bs. We are not going to maintain permanent bases - bs. It was not about oil - bs. The surge is working - bs. We're going to win - bs. If we don't fight them there we'll have to fight them here - massive bs. In fact, the whole situation is nothing but the most massive web of lies and deceit ever perpetrated on the American public. And as the House of Representatives, the Senate, the MSM, and most everyone else is complicit in one way or another, they dare not admit to the monumental lie we are living, the war crime of the century that is buried in the collective mind-set and transformed into just another example of bringing civilization (democracy) to the savages (the towel-heads). Are there any sane citizens out there who still believe this is a noble enterprise, fully justified, right and proper, winnable, worth the lives of millions, that will have a happy ending and we'll all live in peace and freedom? If so, they must be strange people indeed.

I sincerely wish someone would prove to me that I am wrong about this. The longer this madness goes on the more I believe I must be living in a separate universe from those who support this gigantic fraud. The longer Congress refuses to take any action to stop Bush/Cheney the more I worry about my sanity. Am I finally learning there is no Santa Claus? No Easter Bunny? No tooth fairy? Just the boogeyman? I once had a letter from a friend who was doing fieldwork in Newfoundland. He wrote, "they caught a large halibut today and tied a line around its tail and tied it to the pier where it tries to swim away. That's the way I feel about my life here." Well, my good friend, that exactly the way I feel at the moment about my life here in the good old USA. Cheers and all best wishes.

"Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.": Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, September 06, 2007

With honor?

In the "debate" between Ron Paul and Huckabee last night during the Republican whatever-it-was, the latter said we should only leave Iraq with "honor." Doesn't that make you wonder where he's been for the past few years? How can we possibly leave Iraq (which Bush/Cheney have no intention of doing) with honor? We attacked a sovereign nation which was not a threat to us (a terrible war crime), we have killed massive numbers of innocent people, including women and children, we have tortured, insulted, humiliated, and mistreated Iraqi citizens at will, destroyed their country, forced millions to leave their homes, are trying to steal their oil, and Huckabee thinks we can leave with honor? This is about the most bizarre suggestion I think I have ever heard. I think Huckabee is a nice guy and probably well-intentioned but for a Republican to talk about honor at this point is about as silly as their claim that Hillary has two heads and breathes fire out of one and brimstone out of the other. Honor died with the election of Bush/Cheney, for whom the concept is entirely lacking.

Speaking of where someone has been, how about the former Iraqi oil minister who recently said about the U.S. inspired oil proposal, "it looks like the Americans are after oil." This strikes me as naivete carried to extremes never before seen. I am beginning to believe that many people, mostly Republicans, inhabit a completely different universe than I do, a universe in which Guiliani is a hero, Fred Thompson is handsome, McCain is a straight-talker, Romney is in touch with reality, Cheney is Santa Claus, Bush is a military genius, and Hillary Clinton is the devil incarnate. The whole business would strike me as hilarious if it were not so pathetically and horribly serious. You don't even have to suggest "bring on the clowns," they're already here (along with the ones in Congress standing around sucking their thumbs).

Larry Craig thought for a moment he had a choice. He doesn't. The salmon are breathing a sigh of relief, along with me. The Senator from Boise-Cascade is finished. Otter should appoint Bill Sali to the position, but only if he promises to stay out of public restrooms. Speaking of that, do you think all the Republicans will be able to travel to their convention in Minneapolis without using the public restrooms? Ah, Republicans, amusing but poisonous.

I've said it before. I'll say it again. There is something fundamentally wrong with a culture that requires so much storage.

"Herein lies a riddle: How can a people so gifted by God become so seduced by naked power, so greedy for money, so addicted to violence, so slavish before mediocre and treacherous leadership, so paranoid, deluded, lunatic?" : Philip Berrigan - Source: Hell, Healing and Resistance Veterans Speak

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Supervised hot air

I see that the Republicans held another so-called debate. That is, another two hours of supervised hot air. I confess I don't see the point of these group sessions. So-and-so is given a question to which he gives a perfectly predictable answer. Then they go on to repeat the performance with the next guy in the barrel. Predictable questions, predictable answers. What bothers me the most about these performances is that I know full well that whatever they say in the context of one of these "debates" will have no necessary relation to anything they might do in the future should they become President. It's not that they are lying, it's just that you know they are saying whatever they're saying because they want to be elected. Getting elected and performing in office are not always related. Remember, for example, the "compassionate conservative" BS we were treated to in the 2000 fiasco. I tried to watch but it was so hopeless I quickly went back to playing solitaire. We never should have allowed them to start running for President two years in advance. Who makes these kinds of decisions in the first place?

The Craig situation is so dismally absurd there isn't much to comment about. I should think that even if Craig could win whatever it is he is trying to win he would never be cleared of his own idiocy. He has made himself and the State of Idaho laughingstocks, especially himself. "I have a wide stance." "I was just picking up a piece of paper" (off a public bathroom floor?). "I am not gay, and have never been gay" (even though people in Idaho and probably Washington D.C. have suspected for years that he was gay). His claim to not being gay is like the little boy who cried wolf too many times, no one really believes him anymore (even if, in fact, it were to turn out that he is not gay). He's in a deep hole. He should stop digging.

I have been reading some ethnographic classics of late, including The Todas by W.H.R. Rivers (1906). This must have been the most sexist society ever. First, they commonly practiced female infanticide. Second, they practiced polyandry. When a woman married she married her husband's brothers as well (and sometimes even some other man). Fatherhood was not established by physical paternity but, rather, by performing a ceremony that, when completed, gave the man who performed it the legal fatherhood. After the woman had two or three children another man could perform the ceremony and then he would be the legal father of the next children. When one of the husbands was visiting the woman he would leave a sign outside her door signaling his presence. Women were allowed no part in political, economic, or religious life. They were relegated to trivial tasks such as fetching water, firewood, and embroidery. Toda women were widely regarded as much less intelligent than men. When female infanticide was banned by the British administration the brothers would simply take two wives instead of one. In other words, as I read this, women were plain and simply brood mares, completely at the mercy of men and with no other meaningful tasks. I hesitate to call them sex objects as I don't think that describes the situation very well. I know nothing whatsoever about present day Toda life but I'm pretty certain it is no longer like it was, sexism carried to the extreme.

"I know of no country, indeed, where the love of money has taken stronger hold on the affections of men and where a profounder contempt is expressed for the theory of the permanent equality of property."
Alexis de Tocqueville

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Surprise! The Surge is Working?

Is anyone surprised that Bush is claiming that the surge is working? Did anyone think he might say it wasn't working? Having checked his story with Petraeus they are going to insist that progress is being made and we have to continue as we are, but holding out the possibility there might be some troop removal at some unspecified date if some unspecified conditions are met and they really have no choice having devastated our military. Bush has made it clear he wants the "war" to continue in such a way as to make it necessary for the next President to continue it. What the hell, it's only a few thousand more lives that will be lost while we continue chasing our tail in Iraq for Bush/Cheney's amusement.

Now Craig is hinting that he may not resign after all. He only pled guilty to a misdemeanor, not a serious enough offense for the ethics committee to bounce him (maybe). He has apparently hired some hot-shot lawyers to help him and he might try to beat the rap. I think it is unlikely that he will succeed in this attempt. But I must say it is an interesting situation. Craig insists he is not gay. I suspect he believes he is not as he has not apparently ever lived a gay life style, no long term lover, married (with three adopted children), no outward signs for the most part, and so on. I suppose there is some question about having casual sex in men's rooms. Does that mean you are really a homosexual or just a guy that likes a casual fling in the men's room once in a while. Then there is the question of why he pled guilty in the first place. He says it was merely to get it over with. That may be true, but it is probably true in the sense that he gambled that by pleading guilty, paying his fine, and getting unsupervised probation, no one would ever find out about it. If he had refused to plead guilty he would have had to stand trial or at least would have been involved with some bad publicity. Why not take a chance that no one would ever know? He lost.

Given my suspicious mind there is another possibility that occurs to me. This may be another of Rove's brilliant ideas. Why not encourage Craig to keep this story running? How much have you heard about Gonzales of late? And this is just the moment they are trying to hoodwink us into extending the surge and also possibly attacking Iran. From their point of view Craig's misery is a good thing, and you can bet they wouldn't hesitate to sacrifice a Senator from Idaho for the cause (especially when they know he will be replaced by another Republican).

If this is not true, Craig's decision to challenge his conviction must be raising all kinds of troubles for the Republicans. Otter is all set, for example, to name a replacement for him, and there are several potential candidates that will be affected. The Republican sex scandals have been multiplying of late and there are claims that at least four others are about to be "outed." This is certainly not the kind of publicity Republicans look forward to and it will certainly not help them with their evangelical base. People in show business sometimes claim that no publicity is bad publicity. I don't think that holds true for politics.

Remember the other day I was pleased to report that my mother-in-law had finally figured out that Bush was, shall we say, less than desirable as a President. Alas, she came right back with another zinger that placed her right back with the rest of her Republican friends. Al Gore, she announced, is a buffoon. Now I have known my mother-in-law for quite a long time, long enough to know that buffoon is not a word in her working vocabulary. This means she is merely repeating something one of her right-wing friends has told her. This gives one a lot of insight into the way Republicans think (or don't think would be more like it). Here is Al Gore, ex Senator, ex Vice-President, winner of an academy award, quite likely a winner of the Nobel Prize, a man who has been right about everything while the Republicans have been wrong about everything, and they want to label him a buffoon. I think it should be obvious where the true buffoonery lies. I suggest that if Gore doesn't enter the race, or be drafted by a split convention, Hillary will be the candidate. I believe this was decided by the powers that be a long time ago. We'll see soon enough.

LKBIQ: (Blue: yes, some of them come from a couple of books of quotations, some from a book on Churchill, some from other books, some from family or friends. Does it make a difference?)

"I am gross and perverted, I'm obsessed and deranged,
I have existed for years, but very little has changed.
I'm the tool of the government and industry too,
For I am destined to rule and regulate you.
I may be vile and pernicious, but you can't look away,
I make you think I'm delicious with the stuff that I say.
I'm the best you can get.
Have you guessed me yet?
I'm the slime oozing out from your TV set.

(Frank Zappa)

Monday, September 03, 2007

What is the point?

Does anyone know why Bush made a quick trip to Iraq? What was the point? Perhaps he went to confer with his pet General, Petraeus, just to make sure they had their stories straight. Maybe he and Condi just wanted to get away for a couple of days. Of course there's always the photo-ops. The troops can't very well refuse to stand next to their Commander-in-Chief when he wants a picture taken with them, even though they probably think the only thing he might be able to command is a chicken coop. Does anyone believe the troops are inspired by his visit, especially when he didn't even bring the fake turkey? And what was Condi doing? Reminding him to pack his shaving gear? I hate being so cynical (well, not really) but I cannot imagine any particular good coming from this visit.

There is increasing talk about attacking Iran, taking out all their facilities in three days, and so on. Very frightening. It would, of course, represent still another blatant war crime. But I guess if you've already committed war crimes what difference would one more make? If this attack actually materializes I believe it will constitute the most unnecessary and insane act ever committed by the United States. If Congress does not act to stop this they will be fully complicit in this insanity and should eventually face criminal trials just like Bush/Cheney. Even now I cannot believe they will actually go through with this act of utter madness. And again, it will all be based upon lies so obvious no one but children could possibly believe them.

"You have all the characteristics of a popular politician: a horrible voice, bad breeding, and a vulgar manner."

Sunday, September 02, 2007


I haven't been blogging for a few days due mostly to circumstances beyond my control. First, my mother-in-law and her boyfriend have been visiting. We decided to take them to Banff and Canmore as they had never been there before (strange, as they've been virtually everywhere else on earth). Do you have any idea what six hours in the car with your mother-in-law is like? Well, it's like that. It was a nice car trip except there was nothing to see but mountains and trees, mountains and trees, mountains and trees. The famed wildlife that is said to exist turned out to be one rather moth-bitten mountain goat lost on the highway. My wife informed us that it was a long-horned goat. Sigh.

After much contemplation I decided that Banff must be an Asian word that would freely translate as "tourist trap." The place is absolutely overrun with Asians. I say this not because I have anything against Asians but, rather, as a matter of fact. Asians everywhere, taking pictures, and more pictures. The streets of Banff, if you walk along them, are lined with shops of various kinds. They seem to be either mostly owned by Asians or at the very least feature Asian employees. Some speak passable English, some not so passable. For the amount of a downpayment on a house you can purchase a sweater knitted of Musk Oxen wool. There are also shops that sell fossils and rocks, interesting but also expensive. Then there is the Native Art which is not in my price range by a longshot. The shops that are not too expensive for me are too cheap for me, selling tons of Chinese made junk that apparently pleases the kids. As the main street of Banff is now completely torn up there is a nice layer of dust over everything. I think they are going to replace the street with the gold they make from the tourists. Everything is expensive: food, beer, wine, cocktails, gas, whatever. I had a shrimp (prawn?) cocktail for $18. I confess I thought it was a bargain: nine huge shrimp with a vodka laced sauce (if you know the price of those huge shrimp you will recognize a bargain). The view from the hotel is itself worth the price (as they well know).

Of course it is awesomely beautiful. The rockies viewed from Banff and Canmore are virtually unreal, towering as they do high above everything, a few of them still dotted with snow at this late summer day. Lake Louise maintains its beauty year after year although the glacier is noticeably shrinking.

I didn't write a blog on our first night there as I was too exhausted (mother-in-law syndrome). The next night (31st) I actually wrote a blog, or started to anyway, but was cut off because our 24 hour service stopped just as I started and it was too late to worry about renewing for another 24 hours. Upon our return yesterday afternoon, after another few hours in the car with you-know-who I was speechless. Besides, there wasn't much to say. Ho-hum, another Republican sex scandal. There have been so many of late I've lost interest. I did ponder just how wide a stance one has to have to reach down and pick up a piece of paper but, as Leno pointed out, "who picks up paper from the floor of a bathroom?" I thought that was a good question.

There is a lot of talk about attacking Iran. I guess Dick the Slimy is egging on our dimwitted pretend "war" President. Could even George Dubya possibly be that stupid? I fear he might be. We will soon hear from Bush's pet general (Petraeus) that the surge is working and we should "stay the course." Bush will ask for, and probably get, another 50 billion for his hobby "war." He likes it when his soldiers act bravely while being picked off for no good reason. I guess most the Democrats like it too. The vast majority of American citizens don't like it, but who cares what they like, they're just peasants. Tell them gays or Mexicans are going to take over and they'll do anything you want. Oh, and warn them all the time about the dangers of socialized medicine (like medicare, medicaid), that has worked for years and years. We wouldn't want to be like the rest of the industrialized world, would we? Of course not, socialized Commie bastards that they are. What do they know about health care?

I picked zillions of beans and the first of our corn. We had an absolutely scrumpious feast, a frenched rack of pork with all the wonderfully fresh accompaniments. I'm certainly glad I assigned my wife the duties of cooking (just keep 'em in the kitchen kicking and screaming, that's my motto).

My mother-in-law, as I have told you before, has automatically voted Republican all her life. But today, for the very first time, she said, "I voted for Bush but I didn't know he was going to turn out to be such an asshole" (she has a way with words). Bush is, of course, finished. Someone should tell him. He still thinks he's king (why shouldn't he if no one tells him differently).

"Criticism in the body politic is like pain in the human body. It is not pleasant but where would the body be without it?"
Sir Winston Churchill