Thursday, November 30, 2006

Are You A *Gasp* Liberal?

Or a progressive? No, I don't claim those titles, I stick with Lefty. I'm pretty sure I come by that label honestly. But I'm curious what Liberal or Progressive means to you. I don't mean in some long thick treatist, just simply put. I figure a paragraph ought to do if you've thought it over.

It probably doesn't seem fair that I'm not handing out a "Lefty" definition of my own, well there are thousands of words behind this post doing the defining, oh heck, it's not fair, so:

I don't think the "little guy" gets a fair shake in a system designed to reward capital or in a system designed around majorities.

There are all kinds of permutations of methods dealing with this, communism was one failed idea, socialism always seems to fall down, then there's modifications of capitalism and modifications of majority rule. Capitalism seems to work when it rewards effort, unfortunately that's not how it's designed. When idividuals are more highly regarded than groups or masses, majority becomes a more equitable method of expressing will.

But now it's your turn, what does it mean to you? I've been sticking stuff up here for most of a year and I'd like to see what you've got to say. It may be harder than you think to get it down simply, well - that's good for the brain. Please include a name or username, rude offensive crap will just go away.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Democrats and Religion

This is a tough one for me, I don't believe that law is moral or theological in practice. I believe that law is intended to maintain civil order. Law is backed by force, it is not a suggestion, it is backed up by threats, takings, guns, and bars. Any attempt to make such a system moral or theological fails in the practice of enforcement.

That said, the act of producing government can easily be informed by morality, ethics, philosophy, or theology; because the actors are human. Their thinking processes are informed by their, in general terms, philosophy. A regard for the poor and infirm is a feature of most religions and many philosophies and a government that functions with regard to their plight is informed by that feature. The practice of governance is (or should be) informed by a philosophy. I use philosophy as inclusive of religion, morality, ethics, etc as they are, finally, philosophies.

The espousal of a religious background is neither a guarantee of nor a bar to ethical behavior in governance. The simple fact is that humans are fallible and cannot maintain the rigidities of religious codes, but their expression of them is informative. A system of reference to a mean narrow expression of a religious code is informative as to the person's outlook on governance, as is reference to a loving caring expression of religious code. All religions have varied expressions of their codes, there is important information to be had there.

For the Democrats to court the Dobsons and Falwells is ludicrous, their agendas or expressions of their religious codes exempts them from consideration. While this is true, there are very many different expressions of the same religion which are intimately connected to Democratic Party agendas and should be courted. The real dividing line regards the creation of theocracy. There is a vast difference between religious based regard for your fellows and the institution of theological law. Somehow the Democrats must make clear that there is a bright clear line between government and religion, that government is not to meddle in religious matters for the protection of religion. When government espouses religion it must necessarily interfere in the free practice of religion. Government keeping its hands off religion requires that government not institute laws of a religious nature. A law based on a religious codification must interfere with the practice of religion for that practice includes widely varied codes and the practice of no religion as well. This is not to say that there are not congruences between religions and civil order, much of religion is about coexisting in a society. A religious prohibition of murder and a civil order based prohibition of murder commonly prohibit it, but for very different reasons. If we prohibit murder because god doesn't approve we enter that faith based arena which is very different from the fact based prohibition that murder is counter to civil order and place a legal entity in the position of determining what god approves or disapproves without the ability to point to fact.

The argument that I am making is frequently turned on its head, that religion must be kept out of government which I believe is an entire impossibility. Whatever religion a person holds to will travel into government with them, it would require pyschosis not to. The belief that all life is sacred and abortion is wrong is not a bar to governance, it is the desire to impose a purely personal belief on society at large without the civil order requirement that is a bar. Civil order clearly does not hold all life sacred, there are ample instances where civil order allows the taking of life, warfare, self-defense, defence of others, and in some cases property. It can be properly argued that it is in the interest of civil order to reduce the need for abortion and thus its occurrence on the basis of mental and physical health which is a different proposition from a religious ban and a valid governance aim of the person holding all life as sacred. It may seem contradictory to state that a person could be morally completely opposed to abortion and yet maintain a pro-choice legal stance, and yet I believe it is a quite reasonable outcome when the line between civil order and religious teaching is adhered to.

Republicans' appeals to the religious right are much simpler in political practice than what I am pointing out. This argument of mine takes more words and more sophistication than, "God says so," and I'm unsure how a political sound-byte of it could be accomplished. One of the weaknesses of principle is the process of explaining it. How, when, and where to explain it? I have given political speeches and I can clearly see that the two paragraphs above would leave people's eyes glazed over. Since I'm not running for anything, I'll leave the "punching up" editing to somebody else.

Quite frankly much of what is wrong with our government at this point in time is directly counter to the principles of many major religions and having people who actually practice their religion in positions of governmental power might easily be a vast improvement. I say this as a person of no organized religion and a complete supporter of the 1st Amendment.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Regarding Your Civil Liberties

I'm always astonished to find myself in a position of having to remind folks just what this is all about. I'm not going to deal with all the ancillary literature regarding rights, just with the official stand of the United States.

The stand of the United States in official proclamations begins with the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration speaks of certain "inalienable rights" with which we are endowed by our Creator. Following on through the Constitution and into the Bill of Rights is this concept of rights that exist outside government. This is an important distinction, that rights exist which are not conferred by government on its citizens. While this concept is neither original to the Founders nor unique in philosophy to them, what was novel was its codification into a form of government. That is the crux of the matter, it was unheard of for government to recognize that its standing in some matters was precluded by pre-existing Rights. Governments let people do things, they allowed it, this was totally new. It still is an almost outrageous concept, one that is ignored frequently by the beneficiaries of its existence.

The government does not allow me free speech, I have it, I have it by virtue of existence as an individual human being, the government's role is limited to guaranteeing that I have it, in the face of government's own desires or interests. To the degree that right is protected is the degree of success of our government. This is true of the entire Bill of Rights, how successful our government is can be directly derived from the degree to which it fulfills its guarantees. The entire government of the United States of America is founded on that principle, that certain rights exist outside its purview. The entire construct is built around that concept, the entire mechanism of governance is designed to function in that manner.

These people were primarily of English descent, almost entirely sociologically English in their concept of law and yet they committed the treasonous act of Rebellion against their lawful Sovereign. What they set in place of that previous government is not to be taken lightly nor to be misunderstood by distance of time, language, and culture. The concept of a government that exists beside individual rights and guarantees them is not to be cast aside in the name of security, prosperity, or any other consideration. It cannot be so and still be that form of government. And finally, no act of government, no act of Representatives can remove those rights, they exist outside the reach of government and are morally and ethically supported by any level of force necessary to sustain them.

You can find the entire Bill of Rights in November Archives under "Once Upon a Time..."

The Democrats, Taxes, and War and So What?

There can be little doubt that George II will veto any real move the Democrats might make regarding fixing his tax mess; and less doubt that there are not the votes to over-ride a veto. I suppose that going ahead and addressing that mess would look like politics. I suppose it actually would be politics. So what?

I suppose there is little the Democrats can do to the Commander-In-Chief to put an end to the war in Iraq that wouldn't be vetoed without the votes to over-ride. That would be just politics. So what?

Write the Bills up, pass them, have the veto over-ride vote and move on with lots of press activity. Yes it's politics to do it, and it's stupid politics if the Bills aren't well crafted and intelligent. It's also what they were elected to do. It also will show up the people responsible for their failure. This is Washington DC folks, this is where politics are done. Failure isn't a bad result when it's played properly. The stupid Republican amendments nonsense was just that, stupid politics, addressing no pressing problems this nation faces and obvious on their face as political maneuvering. These Bills would address the very real concerns of the Americans who elected the Democrats to Congress.

Or maybe the Democrats would prefer to go into 2008 with the voters saying, "So What??"

Bloggers and Journalism

On another Blog a writer stated that maybe he could be called a bad journalist for not asking all the questions of someone he was interviewing. A commenter wanted to know if he wasn't just an opinionated lefty with a free blog site. Hmmm.

You'll find no references to journalism and myself in this blog, I'm not. I comment and I advocate. I do not go find news stories and report on them, I express my opinions. I try to make sure I have facts where facts are relevant, but I don't write treatists so I don't usually footnote or source note. So, we're not talking about me.

There seems to be some idea that being a journalist involves a degree and a major media employer. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Being a journalist is defined by engaging in the activity of journalism, which is finding stories, asking the right questions, writing well about the answers, and publishing the work. The activity defines the actor and if those qualifications are met, then that's what you are. Nothing says a journalist can't also be a commentator, though there is some requirement that there's a separation between the two activities.

The definition of journalist I'm disputing would include Judith Miller of the New York Times as a journalist - a prestigious degree and a prestigious very large major media employer. What Judith Miller actually was is defined properly as a propagandist. She got fired for it, but hey, everybody called her a journalist up until then. Had she betrayed the concepts that define a journalist? Evidently enough to be roundly criticized and fired for it. So, the real world definition relies on the activity not something else, like degrees.

The fact that a site is free, electronic, or whatever means of publishing is immaterial. Is the written matter properly done and is it read are the questions that count. The site I'm referring to probably gets read more times per day than I do per month, so it gets read. I reach out and touch some people every day, I have some influence with a group of people. Now I won't get all puffed up about how much or what kind of influence, reading something has an impact on thinking. A site that has large readership has a larger impact and the fact that the site may engage in journalism increases that impact. The impact I have involves perception and opinion, the impact of journalism impacts knowledge of facts.

The Baker City Herald's journalists will not claim to have the impact or quality of some of the really large outlets, but they do the work and almost always get it right. If that's the case for them and is the case for a Blogger, then there is no material difference. The quality of the writing may vary and the source availability may vary but the activity is the same. It is quite factual to compare the Bloggers of today with the press of Revolutionary times, and probably favorable to the Bloggers. There is a more developed sense of fairness and accuracy in today's reporting, and those who don't bother with it are soon known. I will again point to Judith Miller when people want to rail against the damage done by unprincipled Bloggers.

Blogging journalists have one huge advantage over traditional journalists, there is no editorial board with advertisers to please or corporate masters to avoid offending. I know very well how important that editorial freedom is, I regularly offend some readers of particular issue orientations with my commentary and I'm free to do so and to continue to do so.

When a blogger gives you some good well sourced journalism, be grateful and don't be afraid to call it journalism.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Pretty Is As Pretty Does

If somebody was to tell you that this is your humble correspondent, would it scare you that you've taken him seriously? That intent look has a bit to do with a 15 foot drop, standing on 2 1/2 inches, a running chain saw, cutting the beam above, and a photog friend with the nerve to yell, "Smile!" right about here.

It might not take a real large leap of imagination to figure I'm not the type to be impressed with playing dress-up in a flight suit.

Liars, Cheats, and Thieves

The Republicans have been running the show in DC for six years, both houses and the Presidency have enabled them to pretty much do as they pleased. This has included taking us to war, blasting the constitution and ancient English law, and spending us into a huge hole while enriching the very rich. The latter involves one of the most basic of Congressional duties, setting a budget.

Now, they're not going to do it. Nope, they'll pass stopgap spending authorizations and duck out of town. You see, their forever majority evaporated a couple weeks ago and they want it back. They want it back bad enough to leave not only the deficit mess they've made but also not bother with the 2007 budget so the Democrats in their new majority can have that to deal with. To be sure, some of them are talking like deficit hawks, now. You'd be hard pressed to find anything more than rhetoric in regard to their previous votes, but they've suddenly found principles as long as they don't have to deal with them. Now there's a bunch that needed replacing. That solution is a little late, and now they'll play political games with our budget and our nation's health. Isn't it nice to know just how much Americans count in their math (must be some of that Rovian math).

I suppose the title is a little I don't. Liars - oh c'mon. Cheats - they were hired to legislate for the nation; party, power, and money don't qualify. Thieves - lobbiests...our children's future financial health - stolen for the highest bidders and the richest blood suckers.

Liars, Cheats, and Thieves - Republican Congress

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Pardoning the Turkey

I saw a couple minutes of George Bush pardoning the turkey, turkeys actually, since there is a backup turkey. I was struck by contradictions. There's a backup turkey in case there's a turkey malfunction, um, how about Iraq? That's a turkey with no backup.

A pardoned turkey. It must be the obvious innocence of a 40 pound bird with a 2 ounce brain, no, not the President, he's more like 180 pounds. Domestic turkeys are born, raised, and sold to be killed and eaten, unlike human beings who are killed in war or tortured by the land of the free and the brave, and probably never had that destiny explained to them. I guess it pays to be a big dumb bird when it comes to the POTUS.

I'll be having prime rib Thanksgiving so I guess some big dumb bird is off that hook, some big dumb beef gets to pay, instead.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Baker City's Ordinary Isn't Quite That

Sunday morning I got a phone call from a lawyer I do work for sometimes, his office had been hit by a car and could I come down? I pulled into the parking lot and there was a late 90s Buick reposing in the block wall, right up to the windshield. The eighty year old lady driver was unhurt, other than absolute mortification. She was talking to the police officer who was busy soothing her. As I was cutting blocks loose from the car so it could be winched out of the building, neighbors came by offering food to the owners of the building, checking on the driver's condition and generally trying to be helpful.

In Baker City, on a Sunday in the late building season, no building supply houses are open and I needed some materials to cover that hole. Dick Hindman, dressed in his Sunday best, met me at Cashway Lumber and opened up so I could get some studs, plywood, and various little items to cover up the hole. The profit on that sale scarcely covered his gasoline costs, much less time, and etc. but I needed it for an emergency, so he covered me.

Back at the scene the owners gave me a ride to pick up my '50 COE Chevy dump truck for debris disposal. The truck drew admirers, who also had to get a good look at Gus - he's a 155 pound Great White Pyrennes who seems to have to go to work with me. The building's owners were trying to soothe the old lady, she'd seen the mess inside the hole, what was the firm's law library. Their concern was that she was alright physically and that she wasn't beating herself up over the damage.

I got the hole covered and the roof structure supported and the mess cleaned up and headed for home, reflecting. Neighbors helping neighbors and caring about their neighbors, pretty ordinary around here, but also, maybe, a bit extraordinary. Funny how much I like it here.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Hey, Independents, Take Your Place At The Table

This is the beginning of a discussion intended to discuss and persuade. This post will stay up and the comments section is the arena. As it moves down the list, I will simply re-date to move it back up. All this prelude is to an issue I believe is of tremendous importance to the success of our type of elections. I'm going to poke at you and you should feel free to poke back, but I am not going to insult you and I'd rather you didn't either. You're out in the open, here, so remember that, but also, if you don't want to register with Blogspot, then sign with name, initials, pseudonym, whatever so we can address each other. You know my name (maybe mud after this).

I firmly believe that the two greatest threats to success in the political arena are the Independent (Not Affiliated) Voter and the non-Voter. This is no place to address the non-voter, they aren't there. Independents can take credit for the 11/7/06 election change, you came out and voted Democratic by a wide enough margin to shape quite a few results. I'd thank you for it, but I really don't know what I'd be thanking you for. I'm pretty sure in a lot of elections you were firing the Republicans and slapping GWB, that would make Democrats the default winners. Default is not a good way to run a country or develop policies. A good way to do that is with information and persuasion. There's the problem.

There is no Independent Party with candidates, spokesmen, delegates, or the other appurtenances of a Party. You're a cipher, there are polls and some interviews and some Indie Bloggers, but you're unpredictable because you're unrepresented. You don't help shape Party politics, you stand aside. Please understand that I'm referring to both Parties unless I specify differently. The result is that the Parties try to not offend a theoretical middle/Indie group and still keep their base. That base is those who are active, in the Democratic Party it's not easily defined on particulars but it is left (ok, another "meaningless" classification). What "left" or "right" means to Indies isn't very clear, we might look at voting patterns and guess, but a general revulsion for GWB & the current Republican Party isn't defining. The arguments are still going on and wildly variable in their conclusions. Result - you're a second thought, not up front.

Many people think the General Election is the big one, I don't think so. I believe the Primaries are the ones that shape politics, that is where competing ideas get sorted out, within the narrower frame work of Party. With the low level of participation in Primaries the frequent result for Indies is that they get to vote for the least offensive candidate - that's no way to run a show. Or maybe the only candidate is picked by some outside "big wig," because there is no powerful push for a candidate of a certain outlook, again - lack of numbers.

The complaint is made that Parties are both the same. An inclination to try not to offend an undefined Indie group sure pushes that inclination, but they're not the same. Look at the heat surrounding the labels "D" & "R." On the other hand, there is the argument that the Parties are too (fill in blank). The Parties will reflect the people interested enough to make input and do the ground work for candidates, that number is a small portion of the general electorate. That small number makes the hijacking of a Party possible. If you're "here" you probably find the religious right's influence on Republican politics offensive, well there just aren't that many of them, but they are real active - hijackers. What the Republican Party used to mean and what it means now are two different things and I would place the blame on the people of the old Party bent for not participating. I've had my go-around with the Democrats on an issue with the same kind of hijacking going on and had success. I could have "thrown up my hands" and put an "I" after my name, I preferred to have an impact and a Party for people of my point of view. And it's working.

I do understand the inclination to be proud of the label "I ain't one of them" but what else is it that you're not a part of? I don't think that separation is working to your benefit and it sure isn't working to the Parties' benefit. I'd like to see a strong reasonable Republican Party in opposition to the Democratic Party, but the defection of the moderate right, economic/government conservatives to the ranks of Indies is killing that Party and making for some real messy politics. I'm not a willing recruiter for that Party, but some of you need to be there making some changes. My Party needs you as well. I'm pretty far left in a lot of respects, a reasoning counter-balance to my influence is important and backing for some of my ideas that completely miss some of my lefty compatriots is real valuable. We don't get to have everything we think reflected in an organization, it would be The Party Of Chuckism, and have few members and no influence, but there are general trends of thinking that draw people to one or the other, that general philosophy of governance that defines "D" or "R."

Understand, I'm not talking about this affiliation issue to recruit Democrats (I'd like it, but), I'm talking about the good of the people and the good of the Parties. Having that "D" or "R" after your name isn't going to win an election for a Party by guaranteeing a vote, you would hopefully vote for a candidate not an initial, but activity in the "D" or "R" would have an effect on who runs and what they run on. It's not easy to be represented, you're reading the cheapest printing press available, ie: freedom of the press, media is expensive and corporate in nature, they're not your voice and Blogs have to be read and there are a lot of them (free). Face to face with your fellows makes the biggest impact, all the cues that are missing in this sort of communication are there. Arguments stay coherent with immediacy of response.

You are important to the functioning of our democracy, take your place at the table, please.

I'll try to answer comments coherently and keep this discussion as current as possible. Any Blog that thinks this is an important discussion is asked to link it and by all means, talk to each other.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Biased Media

My last post provoked some thinking and much of what's been going on for the last few years just sort of piled on for the ride. I do think there is medial bias and I think it goes deeper than is commonly acknowleged. I'm also not sure the topic is broken up into realistic segments.

I think there are different types of media bias that occur for different reasons. The foremost bias right now seems to be political Party bias. In this one we see some of the big issues, corporatization of media, constriction of ownership, governmental interference, governmental favors. Corporate media has problems with the other corporate owned elements and additionally with corporate advertisers. Constricted ownership means a restriction of voices and neglect of local or regional perspective. Government threats are obvious enough, but favors granted are less so, Fox is an excellent example of a favor owed.

There are deeper biases, these are sociological and economic. The background of reporters and editors matters. The ability to clearly see issues in their various facets is to a great extent driven by experience. This is not to say that it is necessary to be, for example, gay to report on a story that has implications for the gay community, but it is important to have a solid background on that community, to know what the implications are actually are. This backgrounding is important, I have read in major stories some of the most profoundly ignorant statements made regarding firearms, the authors and editors had no evident knowledge of a firearm beyond, "it goes bang." The obvious problem is that factually inaccurate information is bruited as "news." The factual inaccuracies are bad enough, but there is additionally the lack of understanding of gun owners, the people - a varied lot - not a simple demographic or statistic. There is a blindness to vast segments of society, these are people who live very different lives than the reporters and editors and there is a divorcement in experience and perspective which leads to important pieces of the news picture being missed or ignored.

When a news story regarding the vandalism of some logging trucks runs, a reporter with little understanding of small business can easily neglect the aspect of the story involving the total ruin of a logger's business which devalues the actual crime committed, it becomes on par with sitting down in a road. A lifetime's work destroyed and hard working honest employees out of work is a real consequence that needs public awareness. This little article can scarcely touch on these aspects, but hopefully spark some thinking and critical news watching.

I doubt that it is possible to avoid all such instances of bias or ignorance, but it certainly is possible to attempt to minimize them. This requires an acknowlegement of ignorance and a willingness to do something about it, I'm afraid there's an arrogance that precludes it.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Wishful Thinking Is A Hell Of A Way To Run A War

President George W Bush now wants to send an additional 20,000 troops to Iraq for "The Last Big Push." Oh for Pete's sake...

Here I thought John McCain was being particularly stupid without the power to do anything particularly stupid. Except possibly influence one of the stupidest Presidents. Can any of them do the same math I can? 20K / 138K = 15%

Evidently we're only 15% short of our goal. I sit in almost total disbelief staring at that number. I'm sure we can succeed in raising our casualties with additional targets and probably add to theirs with additional bullets flying.

I suppose what I had to say in "More Troops??" applies here, the post is only 3 days old. I feel like I'm caught in one of those Twilight Zone shows where time gets stuck in a little circle or more currently "Groundhog Day." What is the lesson that will get through to this guy?

I watched all the media blather about the Baker Commission which was essentially, "now that the grown-ups have arrived things will get sorted out." So the grown-ups had some chats with lil' Georgie and we now have this - more wishful thinking. Now I'm not just exactly sure what message the voters were trying to send 11/7/06 but I'm real sure that expansion of the war in Iraq wasn't it. GeorgeII has said he doesn't pay attention to the polls, but I'd have thought the Polls, as in votes, might have meant something to him. You know, that "thumping" he mentioned. Hey Democrats in Congress, take a look at the agenda for the lame duck session, how's that "bi-partisanship" lookin' now?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Now How Could This Happen???

Lawyers for US citizen Jose Padilla are arguing that his case should be dismissed due to "outrageous" government conduct during his three year, eight month detention as an "enemy combatant." The conduct referred to is administration of LSD, assault, and solitary confinement while in the Navy Brig. The government denies such treatment but states that even if it were so, prosecution should continue. He is charged with conspiracy by becoming a recruit to help wage violent jihad, bomb plots and other charges dismissed when he was moved from military to civilian custody.

I have no opinion regarding the validity of the charges against Padilla, but one thing is clear, no matter how this procedes it will contain a blot on the record of the USA. There are a couple issues, first his detention without trial and second the accusation of torture that is bolsterd by the government's own policy in this area. The President of the United States and his Party's own Congress have led us to this pass. Now the Justice Department is advocating that misconduct of the US government has no bearing on a case being prosecuted. This is a sorry pass to come to.

I Object and I hold them in Contempt.

Carol Voisin

Today I pulled the Carol Voisin campaign links, I'm a little sad to see them go without a victory dance to accompany it. Carol tried something most people don't have the nerve to try, a run for national office. She tried something even tougher, a run against an incumbent. And then, since we're icing up a cake for her, she tried a run against more money than god in a Congressional District with close to 44R:32D (corrected thanks MB). If you don't think that's worthy of praise and admiration, you have a heart of stone and a head full of rocks.

Sure, I like Carol personally and it smarts when somebody you like doesn't win in an endeavor. There were some wins involved, Waldenbush had to spend money, the Democrats demonstrated that we exist out here, some of his nonsense was exposed, and Democratic policies were put up for view. The Primary and the General Elections demonstrated to the County Democratic Parties that they count.

So thanks Carol Voisin for giving us a voice and doing it in an honorable and dedicated manner, and thanks, especially, for demonstrating grace and courage in the face of huge odds.

Your Pal,

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

More Troops ???

Sen. John McCain deserves credit and respect for his service and for his conduct as a POW. That doesn't mean that he gets a pass on harebrained ideas. His idea that a large military force in Iraq could do something meaningful is only about 3 years late. If he were talking about absolute overwhelming force from the outset and an iron fisted occupation he might just have a point. The problem is, that was then and this is now. Yes, disregarding any questions about rightfully being there, the proper strategy is to crush the military force, lock down any societal impulse to resist - make it incredibly dangerous, construct civil order, then rebuild the infrastructure, and then rebuild the government. The models of Nazi Germany and Tojo's Japan stand as exemplars of how it's done. GeorgeII has shown exactly how not to do it. Historically challenged??? Read some non-fiction, Yalie. (The New American Century doesn't qualify)

Now is different, the "insurgents" are dispersed into the civilian sector and around the nation, they have organized, they have weapons supply, they have capital, they have a proven track record of resistance, and they have outside resources of men, material, and morale. You can't get your hands on them, they're not going to "make a stand", and the civilian populous is more afraid of them than us; which means they will provide cover for them. Organization means they can coordinate and they have a structure in which to place loss replacements, and a way to secure replacements. The "government" is both a cover for "insurgency" and incompetent in opposition to them. Add to this picture the squandering of whatever good will may have been present initially and the thing looks really bad, no matter how many troops.

None of the preceding addresses the real problem with McCain's idea (and Lieberman limping along), just exactly where does he propose to get these troops? Some units are going back for their fifth rotation, the Reserve and Guard are already in use and we've reduced numbers in other theaters. Vehicles are beginning to fall apart and aren't getting replaced.

That shouldn't set off the "defeatocrat" crowd, but this sure will, the nation is sick and tired of this mess. McCain says we're "adults" and can process his idea. We're not that kind of adults, we can process how it's been done and what's been accomplished and the chances of any kind of improvement happening. It isn't a matter of will, it's a matter of the lies, the incompetence, and finally the futility. It isn't a matter of will to beat your head against a concrete wall because somebody "important" said it's a good idea, it is just plain stupid and Americans aren't just plain stupid for very long. (Ok, not that many are)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Governor of Oregon and Vets

Today I attended the memorial service for an old friend and I was reminded how painful it is to participate in a family's grief. Our Governor does this for our fallen soldiers and their families. These are not old men who have lived a full life, these are soldiers whose parents have out-lived their child, whose spouses no longer have the love of their life, whose children will no longer know the arms and kisses of a parent, whose friends have only memories. Their grief is appalling to anyone not made of stone, I share it at a distance, through a TV screen or newsprint and that remoteness saves me tears.

I don't care if you opposed this war from the very first, as I did, or you believe it is necessary now, we are responsible, this is our war and these people are ours. They are acting and dying and being hurt in our name, we don't get to duck that. I cannot and should not go to these services, except in spirit and possibly by representation.

There is no requirement that our Governor attend these services beyond his personal commitment. He undertakes a painful duty because he understands the concept of responsibility, our responsibility, Oregon's. Any person who would voluntarily subject himself to such emotional battering on behalf of his fellows deserves to be acknowleged. It is not just a matter of Ted Kulongoski being a "former" Marine, it is part and parcel with the man's character. I don't care if you voted for TK or not, on this day and those days of memorial service you stand with him, because he's standing in for all of us.

I thank the Governor for doing my job, for honoring those who served to the utmost degree, for honoring those who have lost their loved ones, for making the small acknowlegement that can be made of all of our loss. We are all so much poorer for their deaths.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Hey Vets

Today is your day, shopping sales and dinner specials aside, today we stop our busy lives and say thanks. Thanks for the citizenship to volunteer, thanks for the bravery to follow through on America's decisions, thanks for all you've lost and all we gain. That's not a lot of words, I don't think thousands would do justice, so;



I'd like to see a jail cell in this kinglet's future, so, now that's out of the way.

It is political suicide to bring impeachment and not sustain it, the voters won't stand for it. That makes the first question on the issue, are there the votes to sustain an impeachment? I am not sufficiently a Constitutional scholar to say with any certainty that GWB didn't give himself enough legal cover and deniability to avoid a sustainment. Could an impeachement at six years have enough time to dig through all the garbage? The Clinton impeachment proved that the public doesn't support such action without being convinced that the issues are serious. Yes, I'm convinced that the issues are real serious, but I'm not the public. People who take time to cruise political blogs aren't the public. Politicians had better understand the public (uh 11/7/06).

Is impeachment in the public interest? I'd certainly agree that dissuading future kinglets is in the public interest and that persuading the governors and governed that the Constitution and Bill of Rights are not optional would be a public service but I'm also positive that we now face a very real socio-economic and diplomatic mess that has got to be cleaned up very quickly. The resulting impacts of dealing with this mess will take time to be felt and they need to be having effect as soon as possible. An impeachment will freeze Congress in place and energize the White House and its Congressional syncophants in opposition to any actions.

Before we take a run off a very high place let's remember that the Republicans got fired, not that the Democrats were hired and the margins were razor thin in a lot of places. I know the actual numbers are encouraging over-all, but quite simply, the election process is what we have to work with. It is easy enough to see how putting a legislative agenda into action might be more politically rewarding than impeaching if the goal is to make a change to the landscape of American life. The crap legislation that the Bushites have put in place can be changed, it might require a new President, a Democrat or (if such a thing exists) a reasonable Republican or it might be possible with George II with the proper ballbat in hand.

Oversight hearings and some snooping in general might bring to light compelling uncovered actions by Bush and Cheney, in which case impeachment might be the absolutely neccesary action. These secretive furtive weasles will have gotten as good advice as possible for coverage and will have hidden, as much as they could, the dirty laundry, so make no big bets on it.

I have three priorities regarding government: 1) The Constitution, 2) the well being of the public, 3) Democratic politics and in that order. I'd argue that 2&3 are inclusive but that requires vigilence. The Constitution is consistently at risk; every power group has hobby-horses to ride and finds Constitutional obstructions to be "archaic" or "irrelevant." If impeachment serves these priorities in their order, I'm all for it, otherwise it's thin ice.

Why Blog? Why Spend This Kind of Time On It?

I've made a change to the header reflecting this post. I've never spent much of my time in the Mainstream, I study things, I analyze them, then I synthesize an understanding and by some quirk, I frequently get things right and I am also usually out of step with a good sized chunk of my fellows. When I say I get things right, I am speaking about being validated after a passage of time, I certainly don't assert that what you read here is going to be right every time, just making sure you have some doubt when you disagree with me.

Blogging started out as an adjunct to an election campaign and a part of that campaign was to give a voice to people who didn't often get one and to do it straight up and straight ahead. No fooling, no side-stepping. I ran a campaign because I was tired of getting kicked around, myself and folks I know and it seemed like it was time to kick back. I don't like getting kicked around, and I'll be darned if I'll just take it. I'll speak up, I'll write a blog, I'll write to the papers, I'll completely lose my mind and run for office and not care if I'm the only one who is paying attention.

I'm not a pundit, I'm not a paid analyst, I make no money from this thing-I beat nails for that, but I get to have my say. If I also give you some amusement or validation or spark a new thought I've really gotten something done, I've gone past my original aim - to not be shut up. If I goad power that has lost its validity, I've really gotten somewhere, if they're really angry they've made me important and you important. And if they don't even know I'm alive, well, I do.

I've been getting some deliberate hits from some rather unusual places, 2 State governments, several state agencies, several impressive colleges, the US House, the Senate Sergeant at Arms, about a dozen different states and several countries, some started out linked from Blue Oregon and Loaded Orygun and have come back on their own. I'm not bragging, my hit count with searches included (accidentals) in a month doesn't equal BO's or LO's dailies. This is small potatoes, but if you're here in this strange place, you've got some strange company.

It's a nice thing that you stopped by to see what I had to say, I'm flattered that some of you come by regularly. If I ticked you off, that's good, you had to think about it to get there, if you liked something or learned something I'm glad to have been useful. Stop by anytime, have a drink of something and if you care to, tell me what you're thinking, then you've had your say.

Now I really suppose I should get back to raising hell.

I Know We're the Base, But...

Yippee, Democrats! Yahooo, the House! Weehaaa, the Senate! Governorships, State Houses, Wow! Well that's nice and all but there's quite a bit it doesn't mean.

In comparison to the other industrialized democratic governments in the world the USA is quite a bit right of center, even when it thinks it's being liberal, which it doesn't. The USA thinks it's being centrist or slightly right of center, it's not when compared to, say, our 200th Birthday - 1976, it's a lot right. Previously I mentioned that the Independent/NA voters that pushed us over the top simply fired their guys, they don't like us, they won't help us (we're both the same), and they're just looking for an excuse to go back - you just know the Republicans have learned a lesson. (cough, cough, choke) A lot of the candidates that won would be Republicans if the Republicans weren't loons. And believe it, the Herd has been culled, those wimpy "moderate" Republicans (RINOs) got replaced with Democrats (Dinos???). Yep, this is a mandate to kill for...

On to some realism, there aren't the votes to override vetoes, so George II is still pulling those strings. If you have some idea he and his cronies have suddenly gotten the message, you're reading a different book. Condi Rice is no less intellectually and historically challenged and certainly not less lickspittle and think about it, she may be the best of the bunch.

Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are "left" according to media and Republicans. If left means gun control, then Nancy is. I don't know when else Harry could've been called left. I'm not trying to insult these people, they do actually say some center left things, but they're not left. Getting out of Iraq isn't Left, opposing it wasn't Left. Gun Control isn't Left, it's just a different version of GWB's security nonsense. (spelled screw the Constitution & the People)

National Health Care, an end to Plutocracy, Taxation according to benefit, fair and even and legal labor markets, an end to Union busting, fair and even access to government contracts, de-centralization of media - ie breaking conglomerates, breaking monopolies, public access through low power, re-banning foreign ownership (see ya Rupert), free trade on an even playing field, FICA cap removed, foreign based corporations banned from Federal & State contracts, all law-abiding citizens have the same rights, privileges, and responsibilities, now that stuff starts to sound a little left, well, it's not happening for quite some time. It is utter nonsense that that stuff is left wing loon talk, but there you are.

So, Base, what's to be done? Well first we don't kill our allies and we do the hard work of persuading people that we're sensible people with good ideas. That also means getting "D" where that "I" is, no kidding, we need those folks so we need to prove to them that we're not just a different spelling of the other guy. Then there are the "0" folks, the other half of the electorate, the ones that just don't vote. This is the huge hole in the whole process and a lot of them are our natural allies. I used to think they just didn't care, on reflection I think they're disgusted, I think they let large numbers dissuade them (doesn't count), and I think nobody has realistically reached out to them. We just got a whacking amount of free publicity, how about we make some use of it before it wears off. OK, have a party, pat each other on the back, it's been awhile, but just this weekend, then let's get out there. Hey, Howard Dean, good job on the 50 State deal, but now let's really do some work.

The Rush To Blame

Obvious in the title, Rush Limbaugh says he lied because The Ends Justified The Means. Ok, whatever. He applauded people he now claims to find despicable - that would be: out of office and no longer influential. You know, like those despicable drug addicts.

Segway to the C-I-C, Donny you're fired. I'm the boss on a construction site and my guys don't get to just make it up as they go, it's done my way. I'm a little less important than the President, but we're supposed to feel like Donny made it up and now things are gonna change. Keeeripes, so Bob Gates is going to fix things inspite of the President.

Nancy Pelosi says the Democrats are going to reach across the aisle, they'd better count their fingers if they get the hand back.

I don't mind their "agenda" but here's some suggestions, Minimum Wage to match Oregon's, no opt outs, indexed. (NO tips DON'T count); lobbiest restrictions - limit to no-value promotional items, ie: ballcaps, key chains, etc, matching FEC restrictions on campaign items (buttons etc); real employee verification ability for employers matched by Davis-Bacon wage rate matching fines and jail time for illegal hiring, all officers from human resources up; Illegal Aliens invited to return home within 6 months, those remaining subject to fines, property confiscation, forcible deportation ; 2nd time same plus jail. Those leaving and registering get 1st up in their labor catagory (recognition that they have contributed); immediate roll back of Patriot Act, Terrorism Act, Detainees Bill - the Constitution and BOR will be respected, Voter Act tossed - no onerous voter reqirements, paper trails, research of institution of OR type Vote by Mail. Take up Wyden's Flatter Tax proposal, in the short term - exit all Bush Tax breaks except child deductions, add college/trade tax credit up to State College Tuition, move Alternative Minimum Tax to where it would be with indexing since institutuion and index. Get OUT of Iraq, period-I know, he's the Pres, well there are ball bats available. Real oversight, you're not going to impeach the guy so tie his hands.

Ok, realistically, minimum wage & lobby reform & ethics teeth & and tie his hands.

Hey Democrats, the voters fired that other bunch, that doesn't mean they like you, show them why they should've liked you. You've inherited a real mess, you've got a 5 year old for President that nobody's been watching, cronies have stolen the public blind, our kids are in debt forever, the public thinks you're all crooks and half of them don't vote and the Republicans are looking for a way to nail you to their cross. The Independents/NA that pushed you over the top are looking for an excuse to leave you and they won't help you. Now you get the blame.

It gets worse, your base is looking at you and expecting something, and that base is left and apparently nobody else is. Welcome to 2007.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

You're Going to Feel Real Stupid

if the vote you didn't cast is the deciding vote for something you actually care about. Well sure, a 1 vote margin is pretty unlikely but the fact is that those uncast ballots are the deciding votes. For twenty years the minority of eligible voters have decided how things are going to be. Maybe in a democracy most of us ought to want it. If you're here, chances are you give a damn and have already voted or will, you're not off the hook. You have friends who don't and now you've got an argument to use.

Blame Somebody

In regard to the mess in Iraq recently there has been a bit of a stir as neocons and their allies started slinging blame around, and everybody else seems to be pointing at somebody - that isn't them. Now let's just back the train up a little bit from where we are now after it seems everybody and their brother has screwed the deal; no lies told, nobody dead, just theories of ideology.

The idea was that military force could achieve regime change in countries that eschewed America's interests and that would provide for the implementation of American "ideals." Now wars are generally fought around a basis pretty similar to this if "ideals" don't get too lofty. (land, booty, etc) But here's the rub, the neocons wanted to change societies. This is not an impossible idea and in fact it has been done. The obvious question, if you have this aim, is how has it been done?

The successful implementation of this idea occured in World War II with Western Nazi Germany and Tojo's Japan, the societies that emerged post-war had no real resemblence to their antecedents. The problem for the neocons is that the conditions neccesary were brutal, the countries were virtually destroyed, their armies broken, and resistance faced total destruction. Shock and Awe was a show, in WWII the cities and infrastructure were destroyed, the population faced death and destruction on a massive scale. Not even unreasonable people were able to mount more than token resistance in the face of the occupation. These countries were occupied, they were run by the conquerers. And then the conquerers rebuilt them. The they gave them back.

The neocon idea was that you could cut the head off a snake and it wouldn't thrash around. Social structures go much deeper than the government, and people do not willingly change something that basic. If your goal is to make that level of change then the pain of change must be less than the pain of staying the same. To acheive that level of pain the methods must be extraordinary and the results, horrific. No one in this government was willing to create that level of pain or commit the human resources neccesary to reach it, they created a wishful thinking scenario. I would doubt the sanity of any person who advocated a WWII warfare strategy to change Iraq, the problem is, that was the requirement.

To find an example of failure of the total warfare strategy in changing a culture we need look no farther than our own Civil War. The first part of the strategy was accomplished, the will to resist was broken, the problem was the Reconstruction and we paid for that failure for nearly a century. History provided the neocons clear and convincing guidelines and they ignored them in favor of wishful thinking dressed up as an ideology.

To go from such a basic failure to blaming the Adminstration, and from there all the other blames handed around is foolish. You cannot build an airplane if you start out with house plans, this mess was doomed from the outset, it cannot be fixed at this date, we can, however, leave. We can stay, and extend the suffering until we leave and the results are the same once we're gone. Or, we could raze the place, kill anything that moves wrong - including entire neighborhoods, take iron fisted control of the government and start rebuilding - I don't think that's gonna fly.

We elected a toy soldier and gave him the real things and gave him the opportunity to use them, and pretend intellectuals to guide him, and we're surprised at the result?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Racist Vote Pandering and Illegal Immigration

If you've read me you will know that I am an opponent of people living and working in the United States illegally. I have repeatedly made myself clear that these are the problems:

Flooding a labor market and depressing wages
Creation of an underground society of disenfranchised workers
A drain on social and educational services
The encouragement of criminal behavior

Now that may seem to put me into the Conservative whacko Republican camp, but we are actually hardened enemies. This is exactly why:

The Republican response to this problem is to blame illegal aliens which is nonsense, people take the chance of illegally entering this country to work for better money than they can get at home. They cannot get that money unless someone hires them - illegally. The root of the problem is employers. The solution is employers, not a 700 mile un-funded fence. Republicans know this, but action in this regard would hurt their contribution base and scarcely stir their vote base. Instead they make a stink about Mexican flags, terrorists, crime, essentially RACE. And yes, the largest segment of illegal aliens are Mexican. And that makes not one bit of difference to the actual problems I listed above, the illegal hire of Russians is not one iota of an improvement. Know and understand that unless a politician who speaks about Illegal Immigration makes clear statements about employers, he's shilling for a vote.

Speaking of voting, I'm sure some handful of illegal aliens is stupid enough to try to vote while they are in the midst of a criminal activity, their numbers pale beside forged petition signatures, dead voters, unverifiable machines, and frankly, the outright lies of politicians.

The other "solution" to this mess is some form of amnesty - regardless of how "path to citizenship" is dressed up it is amnesty. That amnesty simply proves to employers and prospective illegal aliens that all that they need do is get here. The labor market is already flooded (don't kid yourself about the UE figures, bad pay trumps starvation), there is absolutely no incentive to declare one's self and pay fines for a crappy job and get hit with all the taxes. FICA is the biggest hit to low income wages. Current employers would be acknowleging illegal hires and tax avoidance (sure let's give them an amnesty also...).

Because the plutocrats have had their way on this issue for so long there is no "nice" solution. There are only hard questions and hard answers. Any incumbent politician that takes either of those two courses is a liar and cheat, because they know. I'll give challengers on the amnesty side the benefit of good will, but they are wrong.

Ron Saxton is a liar and cheat, Greg Walden is a liar and cheat, Gordon Smith is a liar and cheat (too bad nothing can be done about him this cycle), George W Bush is the liar and cheat in chief. Take a good look at your local State House and Senate in cumbents and know them for what they are.

When you propose to blame and denigrate and entire group for something that is not their doing you are a racist and bigot, Ron and Greg.

A Little Tale

For years X had known he did not fit well with his fellow citizens, his ideas were considerably out of the mainstream and his tendency to express them distressed and angered his listeners. He had not realized how poor his fit was until the evening his car was pulled over by the flashing lights of an unmarked car and he was rather uncermoniously dumped into the back seat by two unfriendly men in dark suits and a several hour ride began. The men gave him no answers to his questions about what he had done or was accused of or where he was being taken. They came to a large unlabled barbed wire topped gate in a tall fence which was opened in response to a number pad. After crossing a large open area of darkness they passed through a similar gate into a lighted compound. X began to hope his questions were about to be answered, those hopes were dashed.

He was led into a concrete room with a concrete slab for a bed and left in silence. With no daylight or sounds the passage of time was impossible to determine, but it was a very long time, unbearably so. About the time the fears had fed on uncertainty and isolation and reduced him to tears of helplessness the door opened and two unspeaking men led him to another concrete room containing a metal chair and an inclined table. He was placed onto the chair and handcuffed. Another man entered and began questioning him. Who had given him his ideas, why had he spread them, what else had he done to further his ideas. No answer he gave was sufficient for his questioner who appeared to be building into a rage. No question he asked regarding his status was answered. Finally he began to ask for a lawyer and refuse to answer anything. The response was to strap him on to the inclined table, head down and place a cloth overhis face. X was told that his chances of survival were decreasing with his resistance.

His pleas of ignorance were ignored, water was poured onto the cloth and he began to drown, but terrifyingly, there was no final relief, only questions. He began to tell them whatever answers would please them and when he failed in that the drowning resumed. He would never have a clear memory of everything he said, the sensory overload prevented the coherent storing of the events.

The family of X searched for him for years, police had no information, and there was none to be found from co-workers, acqauintances, anyone; he had simply vanished. The change that brought this to pass happened incrementally, bits and pieces of guarantees were modified, then changed, and finally deleted. There was no one law that brought about the day that freedom died, you could not point to a passage and say there it is. It began in small ways, things to be done for the safety of the citizenry until there was no more safety, no more citizenry, only government chattle.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Once Upon A Time in The United States of America

Has anybody had the nerve to actually say what they're actually doing in Congress and the White House - ie: this is a load of archaic crap that's optional?

THE BILL OF RIGHTS Amendments 1-10 of the Constitution
The Conventions of a number of the States having, at the time of adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added, and as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution;
Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two-thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States; all or any of which articles, when ratified by three-fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the said Constitution, namely:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III

No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment VII

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Assuming you got this far, maybe the actual words give a taste of what the 20th & 21st Century American governments have done to us. We've killed and had a lot of people get killed over this document and now we're where?

I Think I'll Tick You Off

I am not unhappy with the shift in approval for the War in Iraq, I may be a tad bit grumpy about its roots and motivations. One doesn't need to go far to find former Conservative backers and Neocons recanting and the general public's mind set now seems negative. This is good for getting us out of that quagmire, but the whys and where fors of it count for something.

I have a very clear memory of the emotions displayed during "Shock n Awe" and reports from embedded journalists, I think "rah-rah" best describes the scene. I also remember a sinking feeling I had, all this glitz masking the reality of what's happening on the ground and obscuring the motivations for doing it. Even really good war movie trailers paled in comparison, the night sky illuminated by flashes followed by the sound of rolling booms, ghostly images of troops through night vision, great capable machines doing their functions, what a Production, brought to you by Bushco, Inc. Maybe some reality ought to have intruded, this show meant shattered buildings and blasted lives.

I don't pretend to be a pacifist, though I may admire the philosophical underpinnings, I distrust the real world practice. I repeatedly advocated using complete military might in Afghanistan and I was horrified by the Administration's "do it on the cheap" methodology. I have studied war sufficiently to know that if you are going to use that option, it is absolutely necessary to completely break the will of your opponent. This involves the tragedy of making opposition so dangerous and so costly that even an unreasonable human will not engage in it. This means killing, injuring, and destruction on a scale we Americans cannot relate to in real life experience. It doesn't mean pretty pictures, it means the absolute horror of war. Then the victor must engage in the real reconstruction of a shattered nation, and this involves more than just buildings.

The run up to the war in Iraq involved cherry picked "intelligence" and the demonization of Saddam Hussein. Saddam was an easy target in that he was a despicable human, but pre-Gulf War, not bad enough to offend the Adminsitration's "wisemen." The reaction to the intelligence is more troubling, intelligence was not brought forward that provided concrete examples of danger to the US, instead, even all dressed up, any critical thinking would have revealed guesswork. Concrete intelligence - UN Inspectors - was dismissed, despite the near impossibility of proving a negative. The government, media, and public accepted what they rightly should have recognized as guess work. There are serious implications in this acceptance of no more than an opinion.

This indicates an acceptance of the idea that the Government is good and would not mislead us for its own ends. This indicates that the Government is so special that they are exempt from the norms of rationality, the demand that action be backed by evidence. Further this exemplifies a culture of personality rather than law. I'm afraid this also evidences a rather bloodthirsty and thrill oriented society. The polling of approval for this experiment shows huge acceptance of and approval for going to war in Iraq and those number cannot possibly only reflect nutcase Rightwingers.

Now over 60% of the public disapproves and large numbers of Congressmen and pundits rail against the very thing they boosted. The real question involves the driving force for this disapproval. The quagmire aspect is frequently referred to, as though in WWII everything went swimmingly from the outset. The Neocons are now attacking the Administration for ineptitude, the rationale seems to be that it was a good idea done in by asses. These asses were in full public view years before the War, their "ineptitude" isn't a new occurrence. The Neocons refuse to understand that this is an ideological failure, that simply knocking the head off a government does not achieve cultural change. In history books and documentaries the requirements for cultural change are sufficiently demonstrated by WWII, as are the failures of the Wars in Vietnam, Korea, Gulf, ad nauseum. For an example of how not to reconstruct we need look no farther abroad than the Civil War.

The public's reaction may be more understandable considering the role played by media, but is in the end, hugely distressing. No matter the media drumbeat or governmental lying, the public is responsible for its uncritical acceptance of guesswork. It would take a very large book to dissect this tendency, I am only calling attention to it. The question that occurs is to what extent the current dissatisfaction is exactly as poorly based. War is costly in monetary terms and in human terms, it always is, not just in Iraq and ignoring that reality makes war easier to indulge in. Is the public learning something or simply tired of it?

Corporate ownership of media and the constriction of ownership must play a large role in media's reportage and slant of facts and opinion. There is a huge effect on corporate health involved in government spending and tax policies, the more interlinked government and media ownership is, the less reliable it is as a source. The constriction of ownership leads to a less varied news and thus a more consistent view point and reportage. Turning against the war may be reflective of public sentiment but a larger effect could be the economic consequences of this administration's policies in general.

Now I'll see about ticking you off, what was your stand? If it has changed, why has it changed? Have you learned anything about Government from this exercise in neocon ideology? Or, are you simply tired of it all? Has the lack of progress, the death and destruction just disgusted you, or is it a question of what the proper actions of the United States are, its citizens and its representatives? I am not at all satisfied that a meaningful realization has occurred.

Yes, I opposed this mess from the outset and not due to my antipathy for GWB. I opposed it because history showed clearly what happens when a powerful President asks for what he wants from underlings. I opposed it on the basis of Afghanistan and the Adminsitration's reluctance to accept cost. I opposed it because it is not the function of the government of the US to engage in regime change, its warmaking capabilities are for our defense, actual defense. My opposition versus the current general opposition is not a function of being more moral or more intelligent, but it is a case of critical thinking being engaged in.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Governor Loves Baker CIty, Rightly So

Oregon's Governor Ted Kulongoski stopped in Baker City Oct. 28th and mentioned how much he likes it here. He'd like to move here when he's done. I think we'd like to have him.

Baker City is located in northeast Oregon at 3500 feet elevation in a valley between the Elkhorn Mountains and the Wallowas. Both ranges reach 10,000 feet, the Elkhorns are on Baker's west and within a few miles, the Wallowas are about 40 miles east. Both ranges climb directly from the valley, there is very little in the line of foothills. The mountains are cloaked in a variety of species of conifers, lodge poles, Ponderosa, white fir and at this time most spectacularly, tamaraks which are turning gold, a truly lovely gold with a greenish cast. In places they speckle the deep green forest, in others they carve a gleaming slash in the clear cold air. Sunrise and sunset pick up the colors of the mountains, tinging the snow caps and accentuating the greens and golds and rock faces. With the changing light of our varying fall weather the mountains move from exclamations to brooding presence, never out of sight for long and an ever present experience.

Baker City was founded Pre-Civil War and many of the buildings are 1880-90s. The brick buildings downtown are not faux antiquey, they carry their dates proudly on their facades and as the few remaining remodeled ones are restored the streets have a character seldom experienced. There are many houses from the same era, they range from the proud mansions of gold and timber magnates and local powers to the smaller Victorians of shopkeepers and laborers. Most have been kept in good state and some are exceptional. In the semi-arid climate of the rain shadow of eastern oregon, trees are the predominate feature. It is, in a way, the locals' reaction to being surrounded with sagebrush. Baker City is a Tree City, USA town.

Baker City's population has held pretty steady for nearly a century at just under 10,000 people. The growth in new-comers is slow enough that Baker absorbs them, the town changes people, the friendliness and openess of the place doesn't change. It is the kind of place where you converse with the sales people, wait people, and cashiers, they are, after all, your neighbors. You can be private or build a reputation, depending on your personality, the town will allow it. While the entire range of professions is represented, the tone is blue collar, a workers' town. The lumber mills are gone and gold mining is mostly a pastime, but the heritage is still there. The ranchers that come to town for supplies aren't pretend, they live the battle of making a living in the open.

The nature of the people and the kind of place it is has encouraged the residents to make the most of what there is to work with. Instead of knocking down the old buildings, they've been re-built into Historic Baker City, with broad sidewalks dotted with trees and wrought iron benches beneath cloth awnings. Businesses have been recruited to replace the lost industries. And though there are still some gravel streets most are paved and in exceptional condition. The streets are clean, the homeowners take care and the street cleaners are frequent visitors. There is a moderate sort of prosperity.

In the end run, the buildings and streets and businesses are only outcomes, the driving force and heart of Baker City are the people. It is the qintessential small western town, where people are friendly, where they look out for each other and will help a stranger. Where economic down turns are not only weathered, they are fought and something better brought about. So, yessir Gov. we can understand why you'd want to live with us, we'll see you.

I'll See Ya, Ole Pal

On Halloween Curt, my friend of 18 years, died. His wheels are stilled, I never knew him without the chair, but he never let it be his definition, either. Many things couldn't get him, and there sure were issues, but cancer finally was the one. I made time to see him as he failed and it hurt to watch him going, but it was important that he knew he counted with me. It was important that he knew that the kind of man he was meant something, that it was acknowleged by someone he liked.

I wrote before about Curt, about learning that cancer had caught up with him. I won't repeat myself with his praises, I'll simply state that I'll miss him. I'm better for having known him and he'll stay with me for as long as I'm around, as an example and as a friend. This is as good as I can do,

I'll see ya, ya ole goat.