Friday, August 25, 2006

Iranian Stupidity

Every once in awhile I lose my mind and get the idea that somebody in George II's administration has brains and the ability to reason from facts. I know it's silliness and wishful thinking, but I just can't help having some faith in human beings. For pete's sake, some facts about Iran actually exist and are available to just about anyone with a 3rd grade education.

Iran has lots and lots of oil.
Iran has lots and lots of money.
Iran is a pretty big place.
Iran has quite a few people.
Iran has a strong military.
Iran has a strong government.
Iran has fought a bloody war against an implacable foe, to stalemate.
Iran has a populous willing to sacrifice for its country.
Iran is Muslim.
Iran shows no liking for the US government.
Iran has influence in the Middle East.
The US has no diplomatic relations with Iran and has some of its assets frozen.
There are a lot more facts around, but this isn't an encyclopedia.

Now the prevailing neo-con view seems to be that the US (and maybe UN) ought to make Iran act the way we want it to, and to do it while the US talks about possibly bombing the place or at least getting rid of its government. That would seem to fly in the face of the above facts, all of them. Since you're reading his I can assume you graduated 3rd grade and I don't need to point out the problems posed by those facts and those objectives. I could point out that those facts might lead to a different policy.

The above facts ought to indicate a stable powerful nation, however reprehensible its rhetoric. This is a simple reality, they may not be a likeable bunch, but it exists as is, not how we might wish. The simple act of establishing diplomatic relations is a recognition of fact, it does, also, carry the risk of a repeat of the Embassy taking, which might preclude a physical presence. Diplomatic relations might open the door to some talk about threats to Iranian security that might dispose Iran to feel nuclear arms are important. I find it intellectually challenging to propose that a country threatened by another high powered nuclear armed country should forego possessing the most powerful armaments possible. I find it even more challenging to imagine what sanctioning could accomplish in the case of a well financed resource backed economy. I do find some reason to think that recognition of a State and its right to exist unmolested could actually have a defusing effect. It is a fact that it exists, it is a fact that trying to molest it would be extremely risky and surely explosive for the region. There is no cost in reality to recognizing and reassuring Iran, we cannot do anything about it, anyhow.

Isolated nations tend to turn inward and amplify the very defects that caused their isolation. North Korea is an example, in its isolation it has become increasingly dangerous and extreme. During China's isolation it became increasingly dangerous and extreme, today, after RM Nixon's outreach China is less extreme, though more powerful. Iran can afford to politically and economically ignore the US, it cannot afford to ignore the US military in only one sense, nuclear capability. Iran, demonstrably need have no over-riding fear of the US conventional military capability; Iraq and Lebanon are military and political lessons. Its life could be made very difficult; but its survival is not threatened.

The real threat to Iran as extant is cultural. Their culture can only thrive in isolation from successful cultures. The stifling effect of the authority of a theocracy is not tolerable to a society that is not under open attack or threat. Such a government begins to lose its justifications in the citizenry's eyes without fear as a propaganda tool and the insidious forces of rationality and personal choice begin to gnaw away at the obeisance to authority. It is important to remember that the theocratic revolt against the Shah was against an imposed, authoritarian, secular government that without external pressure created a closed and isolated culture.

I do not suggest that in the near term the US and Iran will become "friends," I do propose that behavior change can better be accomplished with carrots than sticks and that in the long term actual change in Iran is more likely by cultural intercourse than isolation.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Re-elect RM Nixon

I KNOW he's dead. And I detested him, well before he was President, but here's what David Gergen had to say, paraphrased: Richard Nixon couldn't get elected today, he was too far left.

Had you thought of it that way, I don't mean, "was he a crook?" I mean how "far left" Nixon was, by today's standards. Now I don't put myself up as a rival to the advisor to 3 Presidents, but I'd propose that by today's standards nobody from FDR through Clinton would've been elected last time.

I do believe that what the Republicans hated about Clinton was that he ran on and won on their agenda and that was where the heavy tilt right in the Republican Party came from. If you hate him and oppose him at every turn, the only way to get out from under him is to move Right. A lot right. And then to call draconian rightism compassionate.

There was a pretty spirited comment section over at Preemptive Karma the other day about shifting tags of political persuasion. I called the tags laziness in regards to individuals and individual topics, but there is a usefulness in "tagging" the general political tenor. My real problem with left/center/right at this point is that the "right" isn't what it meant - conservative -when I learned the terms. I still can't get myself to call this bunch conservatives, I understood what they stood for, the best I can do with these guys is mean selfish religious pricks. There still are some conservatives around, I don't much agree with them, but at least I understand them. I can't make sense of the agenda of this crowd, no it's not the neo-con thing, though that's a part of it, it's the thing taken as a whole, it just doesn't hang together. For Pete's sake, Barry Goldwater's stuff had a consistency, it made sense whether you agreed or not.

If the destruction of the United States of America was the agenda, their stuff would almost make sense, I'm not talking about the dirt it's composed of, I mean the Declaration, Constitution, BOR, the spirit and philosophy. I'm a real "left" sorta guy, but that's not what I'm talking about, not politics, the basis of what we live is what I'm talking about. The Conservatives had a philosophy that informed their politics, these guys have...I don't know what. This just seems like some aberrant mess and calling them names doesn't address it.

When George II first ran, I thought he was too limited to be dangerous, I also didn't know who he hung around with, first mistake; I had some idea we still had a Congress and an opposition Party, mistake two; I didn't know something was hanging out there that could be used to scare a big chunk of the citizenry, mistake three - it was obvious; I didn't know these were the guys who'd be such political animals to do that, mistake four - wishful thinking. Now I'm a real smart guy - all those tests say so - but this list sure makes me look stupid. I don't like that.

I learn real quick...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Prez Sez

The Washington Post carried an article about GWB saying we are safer. Now I'm going to quote the end of the last line:

" extremist group of folks bound together by an ideology, willing to use terror to achieve their objectives."

Sound like anyone we know? Nearby?

Let's do a little defining and move on. Let's just suppose that the objectives are, gasp, achieving and maintaining political power - fairly common amongst terrorists.

Webster's 9th Collegiate says " terror ... 1 : a state of intense fear "

This is the most secretive administration in history, think about it, WWII, atom bombs, McCarthyism, this is the most secretive. Secrets are the antithesis to an informed involved populous, the "deciders" if you will.

Terror level alerts have gone up before each election since 9/11. The Republican and Administration mantra is we're strongest on terror so you'll be safer. 'you are scared now, aren't you?'

Iraq and Al Queda are linked - denied by the CIA and Saddam Hussein's own papers. You are safer because we're fighting them there - terror acts world wide have skyrocketed since the invasion.

Opponents of the Iraq War are the friends of terrorists - see above

A wartime President has extraordinary powers - Congress declares war, not GWB

The Bill of Rights can be suspended in wartime - what war? The 1st Ammendment is being whittled at, the 4th Ammendment has become virtually meaningless. The 5th and 6th Ammendments are being abused almost beyond belief, in full view of the public and in secret.

I'd say our homegrown, elected terrorists have moved very far foward with their objectives, people are scared, power is accrued to them, the people abjectly surrender their rights, and...

There are a couple ways to deal with situations like this, voting the rat bastards out is simplest and least wasteful...

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Follow the Money

Seen a major news media story lately...or not seen one? There's a piece of analysis that would help your understanding, figure out what monied interest benefits. Whether the story supports your particular political bent or not stop and think about it.

I've complained about the constriction of media ownership before, and I'll do it again. There are vast amounts of money moving through the corporate owners of the media and their interests do not neccessarily coincide with the American public's interests. Let's back up in time a little and see what I'm talking about.

Enron. Right up until its collapse the corporation was touted as the wave of the "new" economy and an example of the benefits of de-regulation. But hey, there were warning signs all over the place that things were not as they seemed. Rolling blackouts in CA, skyrocketing energy prices, low profile complaints of gouging and manipulation by low profile (low readership) publications. These were ignored or ridiculed if noticed and certainly not ever mentioned after the collapse by major media. Of course little outfits don't have the resources to really investigate Big Business, but there are media companies with those resources, question is, do they have the will? Follow the money where? Enron got big and powerful through "de-regulation," that's the same philosophy that's created the media conglomorations, remember the mantra: lower prices, better service through the "free market." Yes, there are more money trails to be followed, but this is just a Blog, after all.

There are plenty of other examples that could be put up, but I've chosen one that is relatively uncontroversial and "politically neutral." If a story doesn't involve a local crime type issue the chances are it affects somebody's profit margin. Politics affect profit margins, ok that's not a news flash, but there seems to be a willingness to look at news as though it were news, sure there's the " I watch CNN and you watch FOX," type dispute, but even that is essentially meaningless, these medias are all controlled by a small group of very large corporations. The competition for viewers of one political bent over another is still nonsense as far as getting the truth about the world and our government, it is simply illustrative of the ability of a corporation to tailor the news to suit its ends.

One media outlet still exists as fairly open, the internet. Yes, there is a definite shortage of money for investigative reporting but the ability to quickly disseminate very local low budget discoveries gives it some clout - and interest to major media. So the story has to do with internet access, hmmm, where's the money? Do political types benefit? Do large money organizations benefit?

How about the Public's benefit?

People Are Trying To Kill Us

They really are, despite the political hyping and election timing of our government it's true. I doubt very many of us are pleased that this is so, it is somehow unappealing to mind your own business and yet be a target. The really unfortunate side of this is the unthinking responses.

The President and his lackies would have us believe that people want to kill us because they hate our freedom. Ummm... I find this concept a little hard to make rational, not that I find people willing to blow themselves and others up to make a point particularly rational, it just seems pretty farfetched as a hatred generator. To work oneself up to this point takes a little more than a abstract object. They certainly hate something, but I have an idea that it is much more concrete than our freedom. If someone does something to you or your family or nation, that's concrete.

In the West, our experience of tribalism is pretty distant history, excepting the American Indians, and we forget how tribes work. Tribalism is pretty recent history for the Middle East so it might be instructive to consider it. Tribes work because of a very narrow social structure, family, religion, and tribal members are very closely linked, those relationships are of extreme importance and marked out by rigid codes. Violation of those codes is met with extreme reaction, whether within or without the tribal unit. Anybody want to take the time to count the number of ways and times the US government has transgressed those codes and for what reasons?

Do the policy makers in our government really believe we're hated for our freedoms? If they do, they're stupider than they seem to think we are. Now with people actually trying to kill us, it's not a good idea to be led by stupid people, or, people who lie to you because they think you're stupid. Reality is a wonderful approach to use in potentially deadly situations.

Sure, it's pretty easy for me to be distinctly unafraid of terrorists, I hardly ever fly and Baker City, OR is pretty far down the terrorist target list, but I do give a damn if my fellow citizens are threatened. But trying to scare people out of their civil liberties and into voting against their own interests does nothing to secure them, and neither do military adventures with constantly changing justifications (lies). Finding out Who and Why is crucial, and then addressing the Whys and smaking the shit out of the Whos makes sense. Regarding the Whys, some are subject to negotiation and change, some are plain un-negotiable, figure it out and do it. The Whos sure aren't easily found, and it's a lot harder if you manufacture them at a hellbent pace with a stupid war instead of looking for them. There is no nation on earth with more power and resources than the US, we can't find these people? Well, there is oil in Iraq and we can make plenty more terrorists for the President to play politics with.

Friday, August 11, 2006

A DPO Gun Owner's Caucus

Zach Johnson is working on establishing a DPO Gun Owner's Caucus and I'm proud to be a supporter. Go take a look at Multnomah County Democrats to get some details if it's the sort of thing that interests you. Sure, this is an internal action but support is a good thing and important to demonstrate a need. I really don't mind that the public gets the idea that Democrats own guns. This is a good thing for DPO, let Zach know.

Boy Am I Scared, Now

Holy Crappolla Batman, the Terror level just ratcheted up, airports are a mess and incumbents are losing...huh? What kind of sinister mind does it take to make that connection? Who's really scared, frequent fliers or incumbents? If I were an incumbent I'd be pretty nervous, and odds are that if I were one, I'd be a Republican and if it had anything to do with national clout I'd hope my pals in the Executive Branch could help me out, at least more than they have the past couple years.

I've looked at this plot scenario that's been in the media and there are at least a couple things that seem odd. Since the ingredients for this bomb had to be seperate to get past screening that would mean mixing the stuff on board, it is an odd behavior to be dumping aftershave into a toothpaste tube-ok-whatever. Then you detonate this mess with a cell phone. Why? If you're going to set this off in mid-air you're going with it, so why not set it off in your lap after you've mixed it? Why do you need a cell activated ignitor? How does this ignition system get missed by security?

I'm sure looking forward to getting all the little details on this one, if this disappears like so many of the Pre-2004 Election ones did, I'd be wondering... Do you suppose these arrested folks will make it to court before the Mid-terms? None of the 2004 stuff did. Well, this Administration has demonstrated enough times that they think we're really stupid...

Flag burning, gay marriage, tax breaks for minimum wage, oh hell, we really are pretty busy trying to survive, damn, they might pull it off again.

Say It Ain't So, Joe

Joe Lieberman has managed to offend CT Democrats enough to lose the Democratic Primary to a newcomer and he doesn't like it. He doesn't like it enough so that he'll run as an Independent. Partisan politics gets the blame from his camp.

Now isn't that odd. They hold a Republican Primary and a Democratic Primary in CT and they're two separate things, um, Party things. Belonging to a Party makes you a Partisan. That doesn't mean all things the other Party gets up to are evil and nasty nor does it mean that the other Party can't have a good idea that's worth voting for, but it does mean that YOUR Party is mostly reflective of your Political Philosophy. It also means that when the other Party holds all the cards, part of your job description is to make them work for it, to have their stuff in order. Now I happen to have a fair memory, we went to war in Iraq because Saddam Hussien had WMDs and was a direct threat to the US and he was an Al Queda supporter. The Al Queda part was pure BS and any politician who "bought into it" was engaging in duplicity. The WMD part was stoked by the Bushies and stroked into good appearance, a lot of civvies, myself included, called BS, but it was pretty well dressed up, it also was fake. If Joe didn't catch on in the beginning, he ought to have when the WMDs refused to appear. Then the game changed, we were liberators, bringing Democracy to the Iraqis, something the Constitution Joe swore to uphold doesn't mention, and turned out to be something they don't particularly like us for. So we moved on to keeping order to protect the Democracy and fight terrorism and prevent a civil war. We seem to have been the cause of a civil war that's going on and to have created a breeding ground for terrorists and Joe seems to have missed all that. Now, apparently what we're doing in Iraq is "not giving in to terrorists," at least that's what I've been able to garner from the George II spokespeople. We're saving our "reputation," I guess. Looks like the CT Democrats agree with me and not with Joe.

Independent. Hmmm. What exactly does that mean? For Joe it seems to mean a marriage of convenience with the CT Democrats is now over. The "D" after his name doesn't mean what it means to a majority of CT Democrats whose registration also has that "D" so now he's neither fish nor fowl, he's...what? Ok, we know he's pissed off, but how do the rest of his votes square with the Democratic Party. Not well enough.

I'll bet he's felt pretty special, 3 term US Senator, a VP nomination, famously crossing Party lines, lots of media attention and whoooeee, big wheel backing, and now...a loser. It's been said that the Democrats don't need Joe Liebermans and evidently he doesn't think he needs Democrats, at least not Democrats who think being one means standing up to the Republican machine. There is a lesson here about Party politics and Joe didn't get it, people in Parties tend to think it means something. Joe has had three terms as US Senator to try to get his message across to the Democrats and they just aren't buying so maybe he should have paid attention. Voters tend to forgive quite a bit as long as their guy seems to be their's.

I've seen all kinds of prognostications of what this means to the Democrats, it doesn't mean squat to the Democrats, we vote them in or not, what it means to the politicians is another deal. It does say that their incumbencey is no guarantee and neither is the chance of winning the House or Senate a guarantee. There really isn't much sense in belonging to a Party if it doesn't mean any more than an alphabet designation. Hey Hillary, are you listening?

We Oregonians are pretty lucky, Sen Wyden is a Democrat and Sen Smith sure is a Republican and we can tell them apart. Maybe we can do something about Smith a little later, but it's a real clear cut choice. Rep Waldenbush doesn't leave much doubt about his loyalties, though I'm surprised that 2nd CD keeps sending him back considering where those loyalties lead him. Carol Voisin needs to give him time for his radio stations, she sure isn't a Waldenbush clone.

I wonder if Joe running as an Independent isn't a good thing, it'll be a nice real world test of what the Democratic politicians are made of and also a good test of just what good it is to be an Independent. Obviously I hope he'd get his butt kicked, but real world demonstrations are illustrative.