Sunday, December 31, 2006

He Smelled El Diablo...

It's a funny thing for Hugo Chavez to call George II "satan," in reality those two have an awful lot in common. They both use the rhetoric of fear to maintain power and both use a "folksy" manner while scaring the pants off the citizenry. They both see oil as a political power tool. Both use external powers as the internal fear generator. Neither is obviously competent as an administrator, and blame their failures on the "opposition." They both enjoy photo ops looking "studly" in military gear and neither has any obvious claim to military competency. BushCo is busy dismantling the Bill of Rights and Hugo has just told the television station RCTV - Caracas that in March its license expires and they can forget renewal. RCTV has been a supporter of the opposition, including a 2002 bungled coup attempt and a crippling 2003 strike. RCTV began broadcasting in 1953 and is among a large group of privately owned radio and TV stations that don't like Hugo. I'm sure George II now has envy problems, or he would if we had something approaching Opposition Media.

If it weren't politically inconvenient these two would be bosom buddies with favorite nickname for each other, we already know "Devilboy," wonder what BushCo would have for Hugo?

Anybody remember that self-agrandizing insecure prick in high school that wasn't far enough past third grade to call people by their given names, but had to pick mildly belittling pet names nobody else would've thought to use? When you wrote in his yearbook did it occur to you to not write "most likely to fail at everything," but Future President? Sometimes irony sucks as reality... Hey, devilboy, you could do us all a favor and let the next Texas twister get you...

Year In Review - Chuck for ...

It takes some nerve to do a year in review of some small time blog, more so to do it sober, well I'll just step right up.

Small time contractor (me)runs for Dem OR 02US Primary - Retails Waldenbush & BushCo stupidity, but he does like Howard Dean's 50 state strategy & Wyden's flatter tax
Gets rights infringements right

Continues to run, likes Russ Feingold, gets GWB's coat-tails right, wrong race

Talks mean about Walden in public - "pinhead", repeats to Bend Bulletin, gets god in govt right, Oregonian calls me "most conservative candidate of 4" Bend The Source endorses as most progressive - albeit hot rod. I've never liked the O all that much, I wonder why I like The Source? More fun poking at BushCo

Carol Voisin wins election, Chuck likes her, "Chuck for ..." becomes advocacy and commentary, more fun poking at BushCo, gets general election vote and strategy right, except not in 02CD :-(

Behind at work thanks to politicking, 1 post, political analysis, you be the judge

Relevant at the time, now...

Chuck didn't like Joe Lieberman - still doesn't
DPO starts work on Gun Owner's Caucus
Pre-election terror BS
BushCo is a jerk - newsflash!!!

Bush is a failure because he's ignorant
Words have actual meanings, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain...
More pre-election terror
Senate commits treason, including 12 Democrats

Ron Saxton, farmer, liar, joke, Saxtonville
Chuck likes fast cars and big guns, aren't you surprised???
Dick Cheny likes torture

31 posts...Chuck's a strange guy, he thinks you're important and government should see that

Some political analysis and Chuck still likes guns and Santa. He also likes you readers who stop by and give his ramblings some validation. Sure, it's about me having my say, but having somebody to say it to counts alot. The visit numbers are up and down but readership is increasing and I thank you for giving a damn about what I've had to say.

As for the value of what I've said, I put the categories on the page so I can be referenced easily, I stand by what say and if I'm wrong I'll apologize (and have). I expect to be accountable so I leave my stuff where you can find it. I know it's not much of a review, but shoot, it's just a little blog. Maybe I'll get out my crystal ball and do some future gazing...

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Hammered Stagecoach Shotgun and Cowboy Action

The shotgun is a Russian built 2 3/4" 12 Ga Remington hammered double barrel with screw in chokes and the top grade walnut stock. It is a very nicely made breakdown shotgun, the fit is excellent and the finish is very nice. The chokes are full, improved modified, modified, and improved cylinder. The gun is quite light, subsequently it kicks like a mule, there comes a point when you've had enough fun with this beast.
The setup shown is for cowboy action shooting, the revolvers are SAA Colt patent Uberiti's in 3 1/2" barrel .45Colt, the rifle is a Marlin Model 1895 Lever in 45-70 Govt, 400 gr flatnoses with 57 gr of IMR 4895 pushing them means it shoves a shooter around. There is nothing in North America that has not been hunted with that rifle and round. The dollar bill is for scale, the rounds are next to their guns.
Cowboy Action shooting involves a course of fire that is set up as a scenario, typically Old West, many competitors dress in period dress. I don't plan to. The part of the set up that is not shown is the double holsters for the revolvers and scabbards for the shotgun and rifle, the part that I have not yet put together.
All the pieces perform excellently, the shotgun is quick on the point, the revolvers are a pure delight to shoot, the lever action is very accurate and hits like a freight train. Once I start to compete I'll put up some photos of competition, better ones than these taken with dying batteries. The idea probably seems a little like playing cowboys and Indians with real guns, yes there is that aspect, but it also involves becoming very proficient with these guns in near real world practice and every one of these firearms is a very serious piece.
My Blog has been hit several times per week with Google searches for coach gun because I mentioned the shotgun once, I have now put up a result for those searchers. I consider this particular shotgun a very good buy for the price.

How Would You Measure Success ?

Friday Iraq killed Saddam Hussein and he probably won't be mourned by many. So BushCo has now:
Had some exciting combat footage courtesy of the somnolent media
Gotten rid of Iraq's WMDs, well they're not there, anyhow
Removed murdering despotic Saddam from power
Instituted an appointed government
Had a couple elections in Iraq
Won one in the US and lost one
Gotten Saddam hanged
Made up a bunch of slogans they denied - so now A New Way Forward

December 25th 1400 British and Iraqi soldiers stormed a police jail in Basra. A what? Why? This was the serious crimes unit jail in Basra and the reason was evidence of torture and imminent execution of 127 prisoners. Over 100 men were in a 30 foot by 40 foot cell. The police unit was backed by various militias including Moktada-al-Sadr's. You can find details in The NY Times about the level of torture and the attack.

BushCo has made Iraq safe from the abuses of power under Saddam, now the abuses of power come from cabinet members of Iraq's democratically elected government. I'm sure those who are fond of murderous thugs of the Islamist persuasion will find Moktada vastly superior to the murderous secular thug Saddam. It is going to take a bunch of hangings to sort this out. They may run out of rope.

Now exactly how would you measure success? Iraq is a damned dangerous place to be American, Sunni, Shiite, or Kurdish (not so bad). The power runs some times, sewage and waste disposal seems to be non-existent, unemployment is huge (astronomic by our measure of real bad), oil may or may not get out, the government, police, and army are populated with murderous thugs. Iran is licking its chops, Saudi Arabia is horrified, Iraqis are fleeing the country. Somehow the American President seems to think tossing some more troops into the meat grinder will make it all better.

We started breaking the place March 20, 2003 and this is what we've gotten for our trouble.

Monday, December 25, 2006

These Are Christmas Presents

The New York Times tells about a serious shortage striking Wall Street, the kind of thing that really shouldn't happen to these folks. Apparently there's too much money and not enough stuff for them to buy. I'm sure we can all remember BushCo whining about not getting credit for this great economy, well, here it is folks, his economy. Please try to keep in mind that it will tinkle down on you. No, you can forget about servicing one of the $250,000 Ferraris but if you're a nail bender you might get to work on one of the 2350 square foot two bed/two bath $7,000,000 apartments if not the $20,000,000 ones. Mind you, this isn't wages, it's bonuses, you know, kinda like the turkey your boss sent home with you; if you got that, my guys got laid-off.

I suppose none of you is smart enough or worked hard enough to deserve a $53.4 million stocking stuffer, evidently some of them have been. I'm not jealous, but I could puke.

Santa Is Cool

Cenk loves Santa, he was raised Muslim and he loves Santa and the USA. I have to agree with him, Santa is one aspect of Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate December 25th that just plain works. Of course, I figured it out when I was pretty young that the fat guy with the bag wasn't real, he was Mom and Dad, and I didn't mind. I didn't mind getting presents from Santa when I was 17 years old. They were presents and the idea was that giving was a good thing. I don't care that he shows up in the stores before Thanksgiving (Halloween is pushing it) or that Coke made the greatest looking Santa of all with polar bears you'd invite in for a Coke just to sell a carbonated beverage. I like Coke and those are great pictures.

I don't care what religion you practice or don't practice or don't have at all, Santa doesn't have to have anything to do with it. I can't think of any religion that's against giving or anyone that isn't improved by doing it. It's a warm friendly thing to do and I don't care if retailers make a killing off it, it feels good. If commercialization makes you feel bad, do Santa the old fashioned way and make something. Sometimes I think re-naming the holiday Santa Day would work best, but no doubt that would be war against Christmas. Like so many other things that have gotten conflated, Christmas, giving, Dec.25, Santa, etc is now confusing. I am reminded of the 1970s when it got to be improper to use the pronoun him or -man as an indefinite pronoun, to the point where those round cast iron access hole covers in the street became personhole covers, some how manhole became insulting. We all knew a manhole was for the use of whatever gender person needed to get in there, but noooo. Certainly Christ Mass is a Christian celebration, but there are plenty of people who actually see Christmas as a celebration of peace and giving and in the end they all mean the same thing when they wish someone Merry Christmas, it's a manhole cover holiday.

Nope, Santa is cool, he doesn't see race, religion, or national origin and he goes out of his way to do the deed, we could all learn something from the fat guy in the red suit.

My house (wife) has been suffering from empty nest syndrome and I've been suffering from the religion wars anger overload some people would give, none of that is going to spoil my Santa Day for me, I'm just not going to play, Christmas is a great thing to do in the spirit of giving for no particular return and wishing peace, so I'll say it again,

Merry Christmas to all and may the blessings of that spirit shower down on your loved ones.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Religion Gone Wild

OK, I'm sick of it. I'm sick of the War on Christmas, War on Christians, Muslim Invaders, Saving Marriage, the whole damn mess. I've always been a friend to religion, despite having no recognizable one of my own, but that's beginning to be real difficult. I don't care if people tell me, "Merry Christmas," or, "Happy Holidays," they're just trying to be nice, that'll damn well do. I cannot for the life of me figure out how it is that Christianity is having a war waged on it in the United States of America, somewhere around 80% of the population identify as Christian, who is left with enough energy or power to do something to these people? On and on and on.

Listen up, if your religion does not improve your moral behavior and your treatment of your fellows it is not only a useless exercise in ritual, it is harmful, or downright dangerous. If you don't get that you're not paying any attention to your Books. Your intolerance and zeal is making it real difficult for me to get into the spirit of Christmas as a time of giving, where I'm getting to, is pissed off. It's starting to get to the point that every time I see a cross over a building I start wondering what sort of narrow meanness is being promulgated there. You are not martyrs, when you get fed to lions or hung up on crosses you can make that claim.

I know that there are a whole bunch of you that don't act that way, that do your best to improve yourselves and the lives of your fellows, but those others are starting to make enemies for you. They're engaging in self-fulfilling prophesies, at some point there will be a backlash against this kind of stupidity. The problem with backlashes is that the innocent get swept up in them along with the guilty. I hang onto my sanity about religion by paying attention to people like Rev. Chuck Currie and seeing them as the real face of religion. By the way, when Muslims or Jews or etc start with hate and discontent I have exactly the same reaction.

So, I'm going to say it and if you don't like it - so what:

Merry Christmas
and to all, a Good Night

Fancy Words For Wishful Thinking

Jay Rosen , a smart fellow, who teaches journalism at NYU and Blogs has an article that takes quite a bit of time to trace what can best be described as "reality creation through action." The idea is that by acting you change current reality, the previous methods involving empiricism, or the study of facts and trends to determine policy. The Bush administration was pretty proud of their new strategy.

There are a lot of words used in this in depth analysis to describe this policy versus "reality based" policies that the predecessors had used and to describe the outcomes; I'll give my "Cliff Notes" version using the term I used in the title, wishful thinking. This President and his sycophants engage in it on a regular basis, we were winning in Iraq because saying it made it true, we would be welcomed as liberators because we were there, New Orleans would be fine because we say so, Creationism is science because we say so, trickle down economics will work because we're doing it, the budget will work out because we're doing it. There it is, faith based politics, it'll work because we want it to. Screw history, screw science, screw the Constitution, this'll work because we're doing it. By the way, you're terrorist sympathizers because we say so and you're trying to undermine our reality we're making.

The upshot of wishful thinking is that you're always making it up as you go along, facts and historical trends just won't move on faith. Each time reality refuses to be congruent with the wish, a new action has to be taken to create that wish, all the while ignoring that pesky reality.

How did wishful thinking triumph over reality in government? One of the first checks to unreality is "nay-sayers," people who won't just go along. Taking a look at the Administration is illuminating, anybody dragging their heels was replaced and that wasn't many because this Administration was packed with sycophants from the start. Move over to Congress and things look even worse, these people went along because they were getting the benefits of years of majority status now augmented by Presidential partisanship. This mess only works if everybody gets along - by going along. The media? Between September 11 and the patriotism attacks and corporate benefits it was real easy to let these people go on their way. It also is possible that even media skeptics couldn't believe these idiots could be that wrong.

Has reality intruded? The media seems to have gotten some clue and belatedly started asking questions, still shying away from any appearance that they might be partisan. (per Snow vs Gregory partisan means asking a question and not backing up) The Democrats have control of Congress, having the nerve to kick butt is another question. The Administration shows no signs of including in its ranks any dissenting voices. The President still acts as though wanting something to be so and acting as though it were so will make is so. Wish in one hand, shit in the other and what have you got?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Self-defense and Firearms

Over the last few months I've been asked about this topic by increasing numbers of folks, so I'm going to address it for the uninitiated, people who do not have any meaningful information. I am not going to write a treatise on this nor advocate it, I'll simply provide some information.

I'll start off with the most basic concept, a firearm is a weapon, it is not a threat, it is only ever pointed in a direction with the full intent to fire it or that it may fire. This is absolutely basic to safe handling and to an understanding of the meaning of owning one for self-defense. It is an absolute disqualifier to own a firearm for self-defense if taking a life is impossible, firearms are lethal, if you point a firearm at someone you intend to shoot them. Circumstances may intervene, the person may surrender or flee, in which case it is no longer necessary to fire, but there is no such thing as a standoff or negotiation, what you are holding is just as lethal for you if it is taken away from you. Shooting to wound is nonsense, no one is able to do such a thing, in a life threatening situation pointing at body center you would be doing well to actually hit the body. If that is something you could not do, do not have a firearm for self-defense, figure out a different strategy.

It is important to know the laws regarding ownership and use of a firearm. Do not think you have a general understanding, know them. These laws vary from state to state and in some places from city to city. The NRA offers self-defense courses to the public, this is an important resource for anyone thinking of self-defense ownership. You neither have to join NRA nor subscribe to their politics to take advantage of a course which is recognized by most law enforcement who frequently participate.

It is very important to know safe handling of a firearm, it is not rocket science, but it can save a life and avoid property damage. It is also important to be competent with a firearm, this does not mean trying for a competitive shooting level, it does mean knowing precisely how the firearm works and being able to shoot what you intend to in adverse conditions. No self-defense situation is conducive to accurate effortless shooting, in almost all cases it would involve conditions detrimental to good shooting. Heart rate, breathing control, light, target are all not in favor of shooting and worst of all, judgement is impaired. A person's own senses conspire against them, time, spatial orientation, tunnel vision, visual acuity are all affected by high stress levels. The high miss ratio police officers experience is instructive for a layman.

Television, movies, and urban myths about firearms abound. Knock down power is one. No, a pistol, rifle, or shotgun will not knock down a full grown man. People do not fly through the air, a bullet exerts less force on its target than the firearm exerts on the shooter. It is simple physics, for each action there is an equal and opposite reaction. A big gun is not better simply because it is big, if a person cannot handle the recoil it is too much gun. Because guns don't knock people around or kill them instantly in most cases, the ability to fire again is more important than the size of the bullet, and this assumes you hit your target with the first shot. A fatal injury will not cause a person to "drop in their tracks," many a deer shot through the heart has run hundreds of yards, the same is true of humans, the body is a very durable thing. How far into or through something a bullet will go is dependent on many factors, primarily how fast it travels and how much it weighs and its construction. A .32 ACP hollow point has been known to be almost stopped by heavy clothing. A person buying a firearm for self-defense should consult with someone who knows about the subject, forget about movie magic.

The most usual scenario for firing a weapon in self defense involves shooting indoors in bad light. There are two guaranteed results of firing a gun indoors in bad light, you will be deafened and blinded. The impact of the sound waves on your ears in an enclosed space is huge, your ears will ring and hiss for hours, immediately after firing you would be unable to hear someone stomping their feet. The muzzle flash in darkened conditions will be similar to a flashbulb going off in front of your face, you are looking directly at the flash when you fire.

The decision to own a firearm for self-defense is a very personal one, I have tried to point out some of the factors involved, each person is the best judge. It is important to note that small children, mysteries, and firearms are not a good combination, there are good strategies for dealing with this, but it must be dealt with. It is absolutely necessary to deal with firearms from the stand point of reality and not myth. No one who is afraid of a gun should ever handle one without supervision and if the fear persists, it should be left alone by that person. Finally, the quality of the outcome of using a firearm in self-defense is entirely questionable, the very best is if the offender surrenders or runs away, from there it starts to get bad. The decision to own a self-defense firearm is a very serious one and should be made with good information and a solid self-awareness.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Centrism is What??

There are words out there that sound like they mean something, and this is one of them. Apparently it's supposed to mean a middle course something, I guess, inoffensive to most Americans. Let's see in practice how that works. Abortion - there's a middle here? Either you can tolerate the concept or you cannot, from there you might be able to work on details to mitigate the consequences of the act, but you cannot make it something other than what it is. Health care - either you are going to do something on a national scale or you are fine with the status quo, you are not going to find some magical middle, unless you define the status quo as the middle. Illegal immigration - here's the one that definitely calls out for magic - the centrist position is do something harmless, a non-existant solution. The war in Iraq - oh for pete's sake, we're going to stay or we're going to get out.

Centrism engages in magical thinking, nobody gets pissed except the lunatic fringes, there's a middle way, no harm no foul. What ever course of action is taken in any issue, a philosophical stance is applied first, then the details are worked out. The devil is in the details. There are those in the debates surrounding the Second Amendment who would argue that shoulder fired nukes would be included in the right to keep and bear and those who would argue that the Second only allows the government to be armed - neither has anything to do with the question, the details entail to what degree that right becomes universally and inevitably harmful to the rights of others and negates its philosophical value. There is no centrist position between banning individuals from the right to keep and bear and the recognition that the right exists.

There is no such thing as a centrist politician, not philosophically, either they have a belief or they do not, then the details get worked out. Bill Clinton is held up as a centrist on international trade, utter nonsense, there is either free trade or protection of a market/labor. Bill Clinton was a free trader and we have the results his philosophy. A market/labor protection philosophy would have included those concepts in any trade agreement.

Yes, details matter. The working of any policy involves details and being careful with the details to mitigate unforseen or even forseen consequences is intelligent. Get out of Iraq cannot involve a pell-mell dash for the border, but it also is completely different than an open-ended stay. There is a philosophical difference involved, and it involves staying or leaving, the "centrist" position of "later" is not a different position, it is the same thing as an open ended stay. Yes, you can say exactly the same thing with different words - Hillary and George II. They both throw "qualifiers" all through their statements and they mean exactly the same thing - an open ended stay - it just sounds different. That sound may be enough to assuage some who aren't paying attention, but it is meaningless. This is exactly why the President and Hillary want nothing to do with deadlines, they mean we're doing what we say we're doing, leaving. We have 130,000 troops in Iraq and multitudes of equipement and armament, if we start leaving, everybody is going to be able to figure it out.

I'm not saying there aren't reasonable, thoughtful, moderate applications of philosophy of action, that's the part that gets ignored. If a person believes that a national health plan is needed they have to recognize that the philosophy isn't the same as free market laisse faire health care, How they approach the doing of national health care is where there is a moderate approach to be taken, an extreme approach would be that any and all medical proceedures fall on the government, a more moderate approach would set defining limits. Neither one of these approaches is in any way similiar to a laisse faire approach, there is nothing centrist in the picture, it's a form of socialism, not capitalism.

Word do have meaning, spin meisters to the side, and we ignore those meanings at our peril. In politics the real meaning of centrist is no position other than the one that sells at the moment.

The WSJ Kinda Gets It

The Blog Mob "Written by fools to be read by imbeciles," on WSJ Opinion Journal 12/20/06 has some pretty good points to make about Bloggers. Mr Raggo has a pretty poor opinion of their reportage, probably justified, although some, like "Loaded Orygun" sometimes not only get there first, but also best. Regarding commentary he notes: (critics of ) "Blogs, they say, tend to disinhibit. Maybe so. But politics weren't much rarefied when Andrew Jackson was president, either." That's not the problem, just that most of the writing is awful. I love this, "Every conceivable belief is on the scene, but the collective prose, by and large, is homogeneous: A tone of careless informality prevails; posts oscillate between the uselessly brief and the uselessly logorrheic; complexity and complication are eschewed; the humor is cringe-making, with irony present only in its conspicuous absence; arguments are solipsistic; writers traffic more in pronouncement than persuasion . . ." I am insufficiently self-critical to determine if that refers to me. There are Bloggers whose prose I really admire, but I do agree quality is uneven, but I will note that the pay is even worse. I personally am willing to give up some word-smithing ability for the diversity of opinion, free doesn't make it better, but it sure means voices with no other outlet can be heard. No, stupidity is no bar to getting published on the net, but you can take note of some stupidity I've chronicled from very well paid Editors in print.

He does make the point that the interconnectedness doesn't create dialogue, that it is particularly good at connecting those in agreement and this is generally true. Frequently cross connections tend to be insulting and dismissive or just don't happen - very seldom is there an actual dialogue. He strays off into lala land when he gets hung up on "immediacy" of comment, he seems to believe that opinions are consistently formed at the time of posting, as though Bloggers have no memory or historical back grounding. This is plain conceit, I would suggest that in the case of WSJ memory failure is the constant.

I would be seriously dismayed to see print & MSM in general displaced by Blogs, they have the money muscle to do serious reporting and research, we do piggyback on them. They have the capital investments to make slander and other improprieties fiscally stupid. As for a historical record of the period, they are nearly irreplaceable. This is all fine and good, but it also doesn't devalue blogs, though we may over estimate our impact.

I make no pretence to be a journalist, my header states that this is about commentary and advocacy. I try to entertain a little, jog some additional thinking, give some validation, and mostly - have my say.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

AWOL Guardsman Vs Joint Chiefs of Staff

The WaPo is reporting that the Joint Chiefs are unanimous in their opposition to a "surge" in troop level in Iraq. Apparently they believe additional troops will draw foreign fighters and that the militias will simply disappear until they're gone, not to mention that the Chiefs can't find any mission to go with it. I don't see where they indicated they knew what the current mission is, if they do know, maybe they should clue us in.

The article is pretty long on anonymous sources, I don't suppose bearing this kind of information to the media is a career enhancer in this administration. This doesn't exactly help address the credibility of the report, but Tony Snow's dance around questions regarding it certainly lends some weight to it. I don't think anyone other than Fox probably felt informed to be told there isn't a "feud" between the White House and Chiefs. If this was going to get sorted out at ten paces with sidearms ...

Somehow I can't get the picture of George II in his Texas Guard flight suit out of my mind. Daddy's fair haired wanker headed AWOL must never have had in his wildest coke induced dreams the Joint Chiefs leaning across a table saying, "please Georgie, this sucks." GHW, you could've saved us all a lot of trouble if you'd just bitch slapped the little prick a bit more often.

Please Hillary, Go Away

Or at least stay in goll-dang New York. The Right hates you, not dislike, hate, the Left doesn't trust you, and rural voters know where you stand on the Second Amendment. That leaves you the chunk of urban middle you so assiduously play. The big problem is Iraq, really Hillary, Iraq. You know, the one where you've tried to be a soft Lieberman? This from NBC Today isn't going to help you much more than Gordon Smith's little speech:

"Obviously, if we knew then what we know now, there wouldn't have been a vote," she said in her usual refrain before adding, "and I certainly wouldn't have voted that way."....

Ummm, Hillary, a lot of us had it figured out, we just didn't have a political advancement agenda. So you showed that you had the "stones" to send kids off to war, just like any other too old, old man with no kids at danger. They're dropping the standards on a regular basis, sign up if you've got the stones. Oregon had a sitting US Senator (Baker) in combat, maybe New Yawk would like to join a very exclusive club.

If you don't mind me pointing it out, Oregon rural Democrats have gone to a lot of work to rehabilitate the Party outside the urban centers as have Democrats in other western states. Not many of us look forward to you coming out and undoing our hard work. Maybe you did take a good hard look at health care a dozen years ago, that's nice, maybe you can do all sorts of good things as a New York Senator, but please, go away. If you've got all kinds of political money to waste give it to Kucinich - he ain't got any.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Contagion of Fear

Keith Olberman can turn a phrase, I'm not always impressed with his Special Comments construction, but his willingness to speak out trumps little quibbles like that and sometimes the phrases are just totally apt.

I first tuned into Countdown this fall after reading articles that wondered how long the corporate masters would tolerate his intemperance regarding George II. I decided in pretty short order that I would be a regular viewer just to support that iconoclasm. He regularly quotes Edward R Murrow's closing after denying any journalistic comparison, and rightly so, he isn't a Murrow as a writer or journalist, but he is Murrow-esque in his willingness to tweak power.

On Oct 6, 2006 he reacted to the President's claim the day before that 177 Democrats didn't want to listen in on terrorists:
"If this is not simply the most shameless example of the rhetoric of political hackery, then it would have to be the cry of a leader crumbling under the weight of his own lies."

To be sure, Keith came to the dance late. Not as late as the ones still bleating the Administration cant - say Fox and ... The point is, he came to dance and it wasn't a waltz. Frequently CNN is named as the liberal face of the liberal media and to an extent they are liberal if getting at least some of the facts right is liberal but CNN even at its most editorial stops short. They stop short of calling things by their proper name, lying is not spin and it's done by liars, blaming others for your failure is cowardice not politics, calling your critics allies of terror is not rhetoric it's dishonorable, breaking the Constitution is not security it's treason and a willingness to use the proper nouns is what Keith Olberman has done and the proper word for that is brave.

Within days of September 11 this Administration has indulged in lies, deceits, dishonorable rhetoric and advocating of the overthrow of the Constitution. They have sown the seeds of a contagion of fear and reaped the political benefits. They cowed the media and herded a pliant Congress. The media later claimed to have seen its mistakes, only Olberman stood up. The Democrats have taken Congress, time will tell if they have seen clearly and can act.

To be sure, there have been other voices than Olberman's, some in Congress and some in alternative media, but within the Main Stream Media he's stood alone and made that stand with something to lose. I believe I'll wait awhile to applaud NBC, but I will admit to surprise that a corporate entity has not removed such an irritant. Maybe there actually is hope.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Newt in Manchester

The Newt is at it again, our favorite salamander said that nuclear and biological threats make it necessary to curb speech to protect the society that makes the First Amendment possible. aaaggghhh. The Union Leader report contains other jems. He, the Newt, suggested that we depart from heavy partisanship - cough - and some other stuff like energy independence, cure for alzheimers. He also managed to drag in the 6 Muslim clerics pulled off a flight.

There's something seriously wrong with this nation when "political leaders" can spout this crap and be taken seriously. It's as though there were a massive viral infection after September 11, a plague of cowardice. We are visiting on ourselves the degredations of 3rd rate tinpot dictatorships and I see no sign of these people being taken to the woodshed.

Oh sure, there's blogosphere rants (here's one) and the ACLU pushes back a little and from what I can see, Congress is going to sit on its hands. Is it that they don't want to be percieved as soft on terror? There have been four years of intensifying attacks on our civil liberties IN LAW and that's not the first thing up? It's not as though the minimum wage hasn't been languishing for years and a delay of a couple weeks would intensify its ills. Fine, if it's that politically important, do it first, but why isn't The Patriot Act and it's associated junk legislation even on the radar? Are they waiting for the ACLU and the Supremes to deal with it?

Does anybody think that the Salamander would even dare broach such an idea if there wasn't previous cover? This stuff escalates by piling on to previous piles. We set this train in motion with our tolerance of "gun control," Rico, and other assorted infringements based on security. Those were the baby steps, now George II is busy establishing some mutant theocratic monarchy. This is exactly what happens when you decide that some despised minority's rights are immaterial.

I suppose I should mention that this was at a Republican party to honor some Republicans, surprise, surprise.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Middle East Debacle

Les AuCoin sent me a link to a post on Truth Out by Timothy Garton Ash in the Guardian

and this got me to thinking. Back in 2000-01 Bush was rather roundly criticized for "ignoring" the Middle East. ( Apparently in error since he had his eye squarely on Iraq ) Since 9/11 he's been paying attention. If somebody will point out to me just exactly what is going well in the Middle East, I'd be gratified, because I seem to have missed it. I'm sure this could be dismissed as partisan sniping, if anything, in fact, were going well. Afghanistan started off with promise, without large loss of life or widespread additional destruction the Taliban was deposed. Soooo... Lebanon pushed Syria out without loss of life and destruction. Soooo... Both are now on the verge of falling apart. Saudi Arabia and Egypt both sit by the powder keg of Iraq, their populations being further radicalized and anti-Americanized by that debacle. Iran's public government (not to be confused with the actual government) is even less sane than previously. Syria is scared enough of the US to ally itself with its ordinary foe Iran and toe their line, becoming more dangerous than pre-Axis of Evil tripe.

Les advocated holding Congress' feet to the fire over this nonsense, and I agree. In fact I so sincerely agree that I posted Dennis Kucinich's site previous to this post. One thing that you can be sure of with Dennis and with Russ Feingold is that they won't keep their traps shut. This is not the time to be "nice" to the BushCo or to muddle along with them. Whether Dennis Kucinich can win the Primary or beat a Republican is a very open question, but he sure is not a Hillary or Joe Lieberman and that is hugely in his favor as far as getting progressive support at this point. The media will ignore him if he doesn't get money and Blog space. I'm trying to help that out.

Dennis Kucinich

To the right you will find a list of links, one of which leads to Kucinich for President. You bet Dennis has an uphill road in this reprise, but uphill doesn't mean much more than that the media isn't paying attention. (oh there is money) Take a look and see.

Meanwhile this link will take you to his announcement and some other speeches.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Threat From Within

The title is from the 12/18/2006 editorial in US News & World Reports by Ed-in-Chief Mort Zuckerman and he closes with,

"What has been done to date - border controls, intensity of interrogation, even airport searches - has not diminished most citizens' "feel of freedom." But if we were to experience a major attack that could have been thwarted by effective countermeasures, the public outcry for action would make the present restrictions seem a mere bagatelle. So the greatest threat to civil liberties today is not preventive measures, but failing to take them."

I kid you not, this is an exact quote of the final paragraph of USN&WP, not a wingnut Blog, but MSM.

I'll start with the closing sentence, broken down to its simplest element it is: lose civil liberties to not lose civil liberties. If you can make this work without your head exploding there is no reason to read further.

Still here? Well I kind of like the juxtaposition of border controls, intensity of interrogation, and airport searches. Throw that border control in there as though we're actually doing anything in that arena. When you're being propagandized it's important to note the little things, this is the same numb skull that awhile ago advocated ceding construction to illegal immigrants because they're there. Take that one from there on your own.

There are complicated constructions that replace simple words when you try to minimize or hide what you're saying, there is a very simple word that means intensity of interrogation - torture. Yes a noun exists that covers an awkward three word construction that the Chief Editor used. The Chief Editor is the person who sets the content of a magazine, its context and its tone. Someone with access to a dictionary and a Thesaurus and probably able to read them.

The real meaning of this mess is indicated when you connect "even airport searches" and " "feel of freedom" " (" " is necessary). Airport searches are, to the ordinary citizen, the most obtrusive of the security elements he's willing to bring up and most impinge on the quote modified feel of freedom, a thing that the sentence indicates is non-existent by that structural element.

Thus we arrive at what he's actually writing on the last page, #80, of U.S. News & World Reports, Volume 141, Number 23, December 18, 2006 : We take away your civil liberties so you'll feel like you have the civil liberties that you don't actually have. He's used the entire last page's volume of words to convince the readers that the terrorists in the US are the threat. I agree, and they work for USN&WR.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A Milestone - of sorts

Sept 1, 2006 I put a Site Meter on this Blog, tonight it just passed 1,000 verifiable visits. No big deal next to some of the bigger OR Blogs, but gratifying to me that some folks find my thoughts interesting enough to visit. There are direct hits from about a dozen states and 4-5 countries, I find that nearly astonishing, in fact I'm pretty flabergasted that more than a hand full bother with my stuff.

So, thanks readers, I'll try to repay your time with something worthwhile.

Time Out

Today the White House announced a delay in the President's speech about the "New Way Forward." Well, according to Tony Snow it's not actually a delay since they didn't make any promises, they just hoped to... Evidently the BushCo has a lot to think about with all this new listening they've been doing. I guess nobody's noticed things were going badly prior to ISG finding it out. Apparently the three blind mice, Condi, Donny, and Dicky, missed it. I don't want to be picky about this, but shortly after Saddam's statue got pulled down things started going south, a couple years ought to allow for some notice.

The "New Way" was supposed to get its unveiling (aagh!!) shortly before Christmas, now around the second week of January. Sounds like about three weeks of extra thinking to be done and assuming that means no actual policy until around then at the average rate of 6 American deaths per day it shouldn't cost more than about 130 troops' lives. Maybe from DC that's small change, I'd bet it's a bit more than that to families and friends. Of course there's a lag in implementing strategy, there sure have been some lags. All this makes the assumption that George II is going to come up with something new, other than a new slogan.

I wouldn't bet anything I cared about on that one, this outfit shows little sign of paying attention. There's a Legacy to be considered. When you start down the Legacy trail with a pre-emptive war started under false considerations that degenerated into civil war, there's a ways to go to have it look good. This fighter jock (cough) has proven to be persevering - ok - stubborn and to keep coming up with spin based slogans that're empty of action content. A little prediction: there'll be a middle finger extended to Congress, the voters, and the polls - A New Way Forward is a different spelling of Stay the Course which was a different spelling of ... With war polls of 75% disapprove, 21% approve it becomes important to not say things the same way, which will bump the conservative base percentage since he's...said something.

The sheep population of Congress is somewhat smaller in January but I wouldn't make any silly bets on that either. The American public - gee, I don't know - I've been astonished for over three years by gullibility, fear, and complacency. I suppose holding Congress' feet to the fire may make some difference, but I'm not even sure a couple million Americans surrounding the White House would make that difference. The guy is worried about what scholars will think about him after he's dead, that makes now kind of a non-starter.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Casey Jones...Better Look Out...Blow Your Horn

There's a train wreck ahead, six years of BushCo neglect and a bit more of other's and we've got some problems that don't have good solutions. When you let things go on for too long the consequences keep building up and multiplying until however you deal with them, it hurts.

We've been stupid in Iraq until we now are caught in the middle of a civil war in a disintegrating country. We can stay and bleed and help Iraqis blow their country up or we can leave and watch them blow it up. Either way, the standing, reputation, and honor of the US is blasted and people and soldiers become casualties of meaninglessness. Probably the only two questions unanswered are how many American casualties and which Party gets blamed. Well, there's money, too.

Illegal immigration has become an issue with no good solution - in massive terms. The utter indifference of the US government has led to a situation where there are 12-20 million people in this country with no business being here. Wages have become dislocated, education is over-stressed, social services are hammered, the tax structure is a joke, organized and disorganized criminal behavior is rampant, employers are criminals and the legal ones are losing their butts. Somewhere around 6% of the population is a disenfranchised criminal serf class and that class has citizen children. It no longer makes any difference what solution is applied, someone is going to get hugely screwed and most solutions only encourage the problem.

The US debt, here's cause for real tears. The United States of America is not only broke, it's bankrupt if anybody flinches. There's no money for the programs that exist, much less adding new ones, there just plain isn't the income to cover the interest and run all our existing programs. This debt is so huge that if the Iraq war ended at New Years and you taxed the wealthy to the point of confiscatory taxes there still wouldn't be money. If you sunk the tax shovel deep into corporate soil there isn't money. Even driving down to poverty level income with harsh taxes won't do it. Going to the point of pain for earners above poverty will only start a turn around if there's fiscal sense in Congress. BushCo has guaranteed that a progressive social agenda is unaffordable and at some point taxes become economic disincentives. Then there's the Veto and the "tax and spend Democrats" label to be avoided.

Reasonable health care? See above. All three mean there's no escape from the status-quo slide, the Fed has huge liabilities for war casualties, there are 12-20 million serfs, and we're broke, anyhow.

Folks, the wheels are coming off, we're running out of track, and there's no nerve anywhere to deal with it. Casey, blow your horn...

Monday, December 11, 2006

Moving Targets

I have have a pretty good memory, but this is a mess; WMDs-Mushroom Cloud, War on Terror, Liberation & Combating Evil, Fight Them There, Democratization - Middle East, Staying the Course, Standing Up/Stand Down, New Way Forward and somehow "Victory" seems to be a catch word throughout. What I don't see is a unifying strategy, I see a bunch of different slogans covering a bunch of different themes. I thought it was bull-hockey but I understood WMDs, bad things in bad hands need to go away - pretty clear, definite objective. A Problem arose, no WMDs. 1 target missed.

War on Terror, oddly enough I thought this was Afghanistan and law enforcement. 2nd target missed.

Liberation & Combating Evil, so Saddam is run out of town and...? Oh, we've got to catch him...Caught. Funny, they're starting to act like we're occupiers not liberators and now it's more deadly than under Saddam. 3rd target missed.

Fight Them There, we're fighting there and we seem to be a wonderful recruiting poster all over the world, it seems to be getting worse world wide, so we're not fighting them where they are, not to mention Afghanistan is going in the toilet. 4th target missed.

Democratize Iraq & Spread it through the Middle East - There's a government in Iraq? I don't think the citizens are noticing. I can't think why anybody else in the area would want what's there. Not looking like a real fertile seed. 5th target missed.

Staying the Course, nobody seems to like this one anymore. 6th target missed.

Standing Up, and who else is? Getting blown up and the country blown up seems to be the outcome. Who gets stood up? Nobody seems to trust the Iraqi police or army and they accomplish nothing. 7th target missed.

New Way Forward, this isn't even a target, moving or otherwise, how can it be hit? ISG non-target missed

Victory is what? I've listed 7 or 8 targets that we've missed, they just keep moving them around. If you have no end in mind, the means are mindless. Victory involves achieving your end goal, what the heck is it? We just keep breaking things, and people keep paying and paying and paying.

If it weren't so sad it would be silly, like trying to play cards with marbles. There is no blunter tool in the work-box than the military. They are really good at putting holes in things and blowing stuff up, that's their job and we should be glad they're good at it. Iraq is a pretty big place so it'll take awhile to run out of stuff to do that to, but at some point you get to diminishing returns. This much seems obvious, these folks seem to be pretty good at putting holes in and blowing up their own stuff without our help.

A long time ago we helped the Afghans bleed the Russians white in a broken Muslim country and looked pretty smart - for awhile. Now George II is managing to do it all on his own, the casualties keep mounting, the US debt is skyrocketing, the American public is disgusted, Iraq is still broken, and nobody knows what the mission is, other than a banner, "Mission Accomplished" a couple years ago.

I have an idea, let's pull the Americans out, just exactly as fast as they can be gotten out safely, let the thing sort itself out, and then if they'd like us to help rebuild, we owe something; or not.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Profile Enhancement

I mentioned Gus in my Profile, so here he is, along with a work pal. He's about as mellow a creature as there is, all 155 pounds of Great White Pyrennes that he is. Gus likes to go to work, it's an everyday thing, beat Chuck to the door, walk into the work truck, guard the jobsite - no UPS truck is going to sneak up on us or get within a thousand yards. He doesn't like diesel engines, UPS trucks, or any "oddly" shaped vehicles ( '50 Chev Pickups, mail trucks, ...).

He rides on the passenger side of the '78 Chevy pickup/utility bed, all of the seat except driver's, if the window is open slobbers all over the side, and generally makes a spectacle of himself. He's probably more recognizable in that truck than I am, or better known - anyhow.

He's extremely visually alert, anything that appears different is "wrong," a turned off ceiling fan qualifies and is something to be wary of. Only one object passes as a toy, a 12 oz liquid dish soap bottle, he's had it for 3 years and while it's flat and dented up, is pefectly serviceable.

If there's a draw back to Gus it's dog slobber, he's a drool machine - shoe strings hanging from his face whenever it's warm, which he shakes off, decorating whatever is near, ie: TV screen, ceiling, Chuck...

I'm real fond of him, so I thought I'd share him a little.

Boehner Wants It Back

The memo - Boehner sent his Republican colleagues at recess is interesting. The part I particularly like is where he keeps referring to "our majority," as though it's some kind of owned thing. He also seems to wonder "if such an entitlement mentality did creep in," on the Republicans, no owning it, but surely image must be repaired. He does compliment his caucus on their "restraint and discipline" over the last few weeks - maybe he was watching a different channel, I didn't get that one.

It seems he's got ideas, "we'll offer our own ideas to address the challenges facing the American people, articulating a positive vision of lean government that offers solutions and reform. Good policy equals good politics," and I'm wondering if there's a whole new bunch coming in, I thought it was the same sad cadre minus a few.

Now I can scoff at his chest puffing and party of Lincoln nonsense (Abe would puke), but there's no laughing at the strategy layout. The Democrats have made promises, some of them as simple as cleaning up the ethics, and others more complicated, and the voters are going to hold them to it, and the Republicans are going to make sure the voters know if they don't. There is stuff that the voters will forgive, but I'm afraid even the scent of the Democrats not cleaning up the rules and ethics isn't one. I have no idea what the Democrats are going to do about the budget mess and something has to be done. I doubt any real policies in that arena can be accomplished without serious pain, and we all know how fond politicians are of causing pain, besides George II would veto any tax harm to his plutocratic buddies. So, stick it down the President's throat and make him veto it.

The other side's not going to play patty-cake, the gloves are off, Boehner's not kidding, they think they own Congress and have just had a little blip in their dominance. If the Democrats think that the public good is going to enter into that fight, they'd be well served by looking back across the last six years. Set the agenda and take the fight to them. This outfit has played the block bully for six years and if government freezes solid for the next two years, it can't be any worse than what they've done and make sure they get the blame.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Senator Gordon Smith Sez What?? **Update**

*Update* Full Speech At End

OPB News 12/07/2006

On the US Senate Floor:

Gordon Smith: "I'm tired of paying the price of ten or more of our troops dying a day. So lets cut and run, or cut and walk, but let us fight the war on terror in a more intelligently than we have, because we have fought this war in a very lamentable way."

He also stated that he would not have voted for the war if he'd known the intelligence was so faulty.

I've spent the last two days privately scoffing at the ISG Report, and I still have a "so-what" attitude about that, but this is ... I don't know what this is. I'm still trying to wrap my head around this. Gordon Smith is a careful Republican Senator, he really doesn't stick his neck out or get all "het up" about principles.

I caught wind of this from a Kos diary and went looking for transcripts, this is the best I could do. I actually wondered if this was a prank.

We have two Republicans in Congress and they're both careful politicians, Greg Walden wouldn't take a chance if god told him to without checking it with the House Rs. Gordon Smith is a touch more daring - he makes it all the way to boring - and this little speech is right out there. He's just told the Republican President to go f*** himself. Check out his wording, cut and run, the words used by his leaders to qualify their opponents. That's an open declaration of war. I'd like to be a fly on the wall in the Senate Majority Leader's office. Good grief, Joe Lieberman must be having a coronary or his head's exploded.

Gordon's played at having a "nice moderate" Republican image, entirely counter to the facts, but this isn't even close to moderate. He just said something I've said and I promise you that ain't gonna qualify as moderate. You haven't been hearing this from any of the other R Senators and I'd be hard pressed to think they'd shove Gordon out in front. Almost as hard to believe as Gordon jumping out there on his own. If there isn't a flood of Rs following real soon, he might as well declare "I" or "D" because he's done in that Party. He just made McCain look like eunuch and Joe Lieberman look just like he is. I feel like I've slipped into an alternate reality.

I can't believe I'm going to say this, "Way to GO Gordon!"


I've finally managed to find the entire speech verbatim:

Mr. SMITH. Mr. President, I know it is probably appropriate to speak of our colleagues, and I will do that on the record. I rise tonight, however, to speak about a subject heavy on my mind. It is the subject of the war in Iraq .
I have never worn the uniform of my country. I am not a soldier or a veteran. I regret that fact. It is one of the regrets of my life. But I am a student of history, particularly military history, and it is that perspective which I brought to the Senate 10 years ago as a newly elected Member of this Chamber.
When we came to the vote on Iraq , it was an issue of great moment for me. No issue is more difficult to vote on than war and peace, because it involves the lives of our soldiers, our young men and women. It involves the expenditure of our treasure, putting on the line the prestige of our country. It is not a vote taken lightly. I have tried to be a good soldier in this Chamber. I have tried to support our President, believing at the time of the vote on the war in Iraq that we had been given good intelligence and knowing that Saddam Hussein was a menace to the world, a brutal dictator, a tyrant by any standard, and one who threatened our country in many different ways, through the financing and fomenting of terrorism. For those reasons and believing that we would find weapons of mass destruction, I voted aye.
I have been rather silent on this question ever since. I have been rather quiet because, when I was visiting Oregon troops in Kirkuk in the Kurdish area, the soldiers said to me: Senator, don't tell me you support the troops and not our mission. That gave me pause. But since that time, there have been 2,899 American casualties. There have been over 22,000 American men and women wounded. There has been an expenditure of $290 billion a figure that approaches the expenditure we have every year on an issue as important as Medicare. We have paid a price in blood and treasure that is beyond calculation by my estimation.
Now, as I witness the slow undoing of our efforts there, I rise to speak from my heart. I was greatly disturbed recently to read a comment by a man I admire in history, one Winston Churchill, who after the British mandate extended to the peoples of Iraq for 5 years, wrote to David Lloyd George, Prime Minister of England:
At present we are paying 8 millions a year for the privilege of living on an ungrateful volcano.
When I read that, I thought, not much has changed. We have to learn the lessons of history and sometimes they are painful because we have made mistakes.
Even though I have not worn the uniform of my country, I, with other colleagues here, love this Nation. I came into politics because I believed in some things. I am unusually proud of the fact of our recent history, the history of our Nation since my own birth. At the end of the Second World War, there were 15 nations on earth that could be counted as democracies that you and I would recognize. Today there are 150 nations on earth that are democratic and free. That would not have happened had the United States been insular and returned to our isolationist roots, had we laid down the mantle of world leadership, had we not seen the importance of propounding and encouraging the spread of democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and the values of our Bill of Rights. It is a better world because of the United States of America, and the price we have paid is one of blood and treasure.
Now we come to a great crossroads. A commission has just done some, I suppose, good work. I am still evaluating it. I welcome any ideas now because where we are leaves me feeling much like Churchill, that we are paying the price to sit on a mountain that is little more than a volcano of ingratitude.
Yet as I feel that, I remember the pride I felt
when the statue of Saddam Hussein came down. I remember the thrill I felt when three times Iraqis risked their own lives to vote democratically in a way that was internationally verifiable as well as legitimate and important. Now all of those memories seem much like ashes to me.
The Iraq Study Group has given us some ideas. I don't know if they are good or not. It does seem to me that it is a recipe for retreat. It is not cut and run, but it is cut and walk. I don't know that that is any more honorable than cutting and running, because cutting and walking involves greater expenditure of our treasure, greater loss of American lives.
Many things have been attributed to George Bush. I have heard him on this floor blamed for every ill, even the weather. But I do not believe him to be a liar. I do not believe him to be a traitor, nor do I believe all the bravado and the statements and the accusations made against him. I believe him to be a very idealistic man. I believe him to have a stubborn backbone. He is not guilty of perfidy, but I do believe he is guilty of believing bad intelligence and giving us the same.
I can't tell you how devastated I was to learn that in fact we were not going to find weapons of mass destruction. But remembering the words of the soldier--don't tell me you support the troops but you don't support my mission--I felt the duty to continue my support. Yet I believe the President is guilty of trying to win a short war and not understanding fully the nature of the ancient hatreds of the Middle East. Iraq is a European creation. At the Treaty of Versailles, the victorious powers put together Kurdish, Sunni, and Shia tribes that had been killing each other for time immemorial. I would like to think there is an Iraqi identity. I would like to remember the purple fingers raised high. But we can not want democracy for Iraq more than they want it for themselves. And what I find now is that our tactics there have failed.
Again, I am not a soldier, but I do know something about military history. And what that tells me is when you are engaged in a war of insurgency, you can't clear and leave. With few exceptions, throughout Iraq that is what we have done. To fight an insurgency often takes a decade or more. It takes more troops than we have committed. It takes clearing, holding, and building so that the people there see the value of what we are doing. They become the source of intelligence, and they weed out the insurgents. But we have not cleared and held and built. We have cleared and left, and the insurgents have come back.
I, for one, am at the end of my rope when it comes to supporting a policy that has our soldiers patrolling the same streets in the same way, being blown up by the same bombs day after day. That is absurd. It may even be criminal. I cannot support that anymore. I believe we need to figure out how to fight the war on terror and to do it right. So either we clear and hold and build, or let's go home.
There are no good options, as the Iraq Study Group has mentioned in their report. I am not sure cutting and walking is any better. I have little confidence that the Syrians and the Iranians are going to be serious about helping us to build a stable and democratic Iraq . I am at a crossroads as well. I want my constituents to know what is in my heart, what has guided my votes.
What will continue to guide the way I vote is simply this: I do not believe we can retreat from the greater war on terror. Iraq is a battlefield in that larger war. But I do believe we need a presence there on the near horizon at least that allows us to provide intelligence, interdiction, logistics, but mostly a presence to say to the murderers that come across the border: We are here, and we will deal with you. But we have no business being a policeman in someone else's civil war.
I welcome the Iraq Study Group's report, but if we are ultimately going to retreat, I would rather do it sooner than later. I am looking for answers, but the current course is unacceptable to this Senator. I suppose if the President is guilty of one other thing, I find it also in the words of Winston Churchill. He said:
After the First World War, let us learn our lessons. Never, never believe that any war will be smooth and easy or that anyone who embarks on this strange voyage can measure the tides and the hurricanes. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events.
That is a lesson we are learning again. I am afraid, rather than leveling with the American people and saying this was going to be a decade-long conflict because of the angst and hatred that exists in that part of the world, that we tried to win it with too few troops in too fast a time. Lest anyone thinks I believe we have failed militarily, please understand I believe when President Bush stood in front of ``mission accomplished'' on an aircraft carrier that, in purely military terms, the mission was accomplished in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq . But winning a battle, winning a war, is different than winning a peace.
We were not prepared to win the peace by clearing, holding, and building. You don't do that fast and you don't do it with too few troops. I believe now that we must either determine to do that, or we must redeploy in a way that allows us to continue to prosecute the larger war on terror. It will not be pretty. We will pay a price in world opinion. But I, for one, am tired of paying the price of 10 or more of our troops dying a day. So let's cut and run, or cut and walk, or let us fight the war on terror more intelligently than we have, because we have fought this war in a very lamentable way.
Those are my feelings. I regret them. I would have never voted for this conflict had I reason to believe that the intelligence we had was not accurate. It was not accurate, but that is history. Now we must find a way to make the best of a terrible situation, at a minimum of loss of life for our brave fighting men and women. So I will be looking for every opportunity to clear, build, hold, and win or how to bring our troops home.
I yield the floor.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Playing Tapes In My Head

Awhile ago somebody told me that I put a great deal of energy into playing tapes in my head, creating scenarios and seeing how they work out. I had to think about that. Not about whether I do it, whether I should take that as a negative aspect of my thought process. I do it.

I have a pretty analytical personality, I take things apart and put them together, I like big complicated puzzles like building fast cars, I have a need to know how I will react to situations and what outcomes I can get along with, and I very much need to know where my thinking leads. I do not believe that what I feel necessarily reflects reality nor leads to good results.

So, I play tapes. I start with a situation and run it forward in time, then I go back and throw in a modification and run it again, and repeat... I plug in what real information I have and what easily extrapolated information I have and run it. I do this with the full knowledge that humans are not predictable except generally and in fairly large groupings and with the complete understanding that I can easily be full of "stuff." I do have a pretty broad range of personal experience, a good backgrounding in history, and an observant personality so I do a fair job with the predictive tapes. I don't claim some kind of clairvoyance, I get things generally right often enough to have some trust in my tapes. The more they range out from myself and my personal experience the more grains of salt I take them with.

I drag race, this involves a powerful car, high rates of acceleration, and high speeds - there is some risk involved. Primarily the risks involve parts failures or track conditions, these unpredictable variables can cause catastrophic outcomes if they're not dealt with correctly and immediately. Since that is the case and they cannot practiced it is important to know what they mean and what the remedies are and that coolness of behavior can be counted on. I am comfortable with my pastime because I know from practical experience how I react to unexpected dangerous situations and I know what the remedies are and I know what the safety rules are. I have run the tapes and I can get along with the outcomes.

When it comes to political issues or policy issues I try to do the same sort of thing. My success seems to vary pretty much along expected lines, the less information I have the more poorly I do, the less I have to intuit the more success. People are always a matter of extrapolation and a certain amount of intuiting, more information makes extrapolation more accurate and makes the intuitive leap smaller. Intuitive thinking is an odd thing, there seems to be a space between facts that can be bridged pretty accurately and I have no certainty how that happens. I've read enough theories on the matter and the closest to an idea I have is that there is actual information or an unconscious synthesis of information in existence that isn't recognized at the point of the leap. Regardless of the whys, the ability to intuit and to evaluate emotional content of issues and behaviors makes running these tapes unlike running a computer simulation, incomplete data does not result in garbage.

I'm not trying to make outrageous claims or inflate the value of my thinking, I'm trying to explain how I get to where I get with my writings here.

Suppose I Wreck Your Sleep Tonight...

I know that looking at the Administration's accomplishments over the last six years bears resemblance to what you'd get if you dumped ten pounds of Legos in front of a two year old, but what if...

There's actually meaning to it all?

Suppose that no group of adults could actually manage to behave that stupidly, that there is an end behind all the meaningless means. If you could devalue government statements sufficiently, if you could run the economy into the dirt, create a plutocracy, if you could bankrupt the central government, if you could corrupt legislators, if you could wreck the media, if you could bury the Constitution and Ancient English Law, and you could teach the military how to function in civil strife with a scared spitless population what would you have accomplished? Forget legal and moral restraints, work on this from the standpoint of wealth and power and where would this set get you to?

I'd rather I hadn't thought of this, I won't sleep well tonight. How about you?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Political Education

In Oregon there are some good Democratic candidates for office who find themselves running in predominately Red districts and a Party vote will result in a loss. In many such districts the Independents do not shade Blue as they do in the more urban districts, they are decidedly "pinkish." This means that the voters must be persuaded that the candidate is someone they ought to vote for outside their ordinary predilection. Assuming that the candidate's policy stands are actually good for the constituents of the district, something has to be done to show them that. This means reaching people who are not ordinarily in that candidate's circle.

Reaching these voters is problematic in rural districts, the distance between homes makes door knocking difficult and in some cases the size of the district entirely precludes such. Phone calling does little to break the separation between a voter's natural affiliation and the candidate's affiliation, you as a stranger have interrupted their day and they will have little patience for getting acquainted. The face to face contact is still required, so achieving it is the problem without getting into logistical impossibilities.

Then the answer would seem to be taking advantage of constituent gatherings, one of the normal activities of rural residents. There a multitude of opportunities in this regard, organizations meet and people gather for activities. Business organizations such as Cattleman's Association, Farm Bureau, etc. meet regularly and activity related groups such as FFA, PTO or PTA, school plays and concerts occur year around. Places where people gather are the places where a candidate can make themselves known.

The method of making himself known is critical, in a rural setting being taken as a neighbor is probably the most essential part of getting one's message out. This means that the aquaintanceship must occur previous to the messaging, simply being there and being interested and friendly is the first step. There is always time at activity gatherings to get acquainted in a social manner, where the only agenda is social. At business oriented meetings there is time to ask questions and to engage in the social networking, the important thing is being there and treating the people and their issues as important and worth understanding in depth. People like to talk about themselves and their interests and someone who engages them in that manner develops a regard. This is the act of making politics personal. Once a personal connection is forged the chances that the message will be listened to is vastly increased, the "D" becomes less of an obstacle, it is "John Doe" that's talking, not just some "D."

But here's the rub, it is not possible to make that connection between election filing date and the general election, the logistics are impossible and the connection will be entirely too thin and obviously election driven. What this means is that someone who wishes to run in such a district needs to start immediately following the previous election and it certainly helps if they ran in that election. That person has just dedicated themselves to an extended campaign regimen, their personal life is going to take a huge hit and there are probably economic consequences as well. This is playing outside the Party organization, there is little such an organization can do to help with such a methodology beyond having "friendly" stances on the candidate's constituency issues. What this type of candidate is trying to do is intervene in the education process propagated by the Republican Party over an extended period. The demonization of the Democratic Party is a huge hurdle to leap in rural districts, these folks have taken actual offense to Democrats and that offense is not going to be easily defused.

You will note that the expensive campaign related activities such as media buys and hall rentals are not even mentioned. These are the tools that come into play once the candidate has reached a position of being able to get the voters to actually listen to him. Even such "free" items as addressing the Cattleman's Association are down the road from the acquaintanceship dance. This scenario is "do-able" but it comes at the cost of a huge commitment by a candidate, so the question then becomes whether it is worth that cost. Is the opponent's position worth that level of opposition, is the advancement of a social movement worth it to the candidate? Both those questions are in the face of a possible loss, anyhow.

Curiouser and Curiouser

Alexander Litvenenko lived a strange and dangerous life as an investigator for FSB and died even more strangely of radiation poisoning, an as yet unsolved murder in Britain. He had investigated the attempted assasination of post-Soviet oligarch Boris Berezovsky and organized crime. He had, while in Russia, accused the agency of being used for criminal purposes. Lately in England he had been investigating the assasination of journalist journalist Anna Politkovskaya, a critic of Putin.

In October of 2000 after fleeing Russia he attempted to get help from the US embassy in Ankera, Turkey and nobody wanted to deal with the renegade FSB colonel. At about this point in time there was heightened law enforcement interest in the Russian Mafia. After he received official asylum in Britain the French, British, and Americans were apparently disinterested. It seems curious nobody cared.

It seems difficult to question the current Russian slide into authoritarianism or the bad effects of Russian organized crime internationally and yet nobody seemed very interested in Litvenenko. It is true that by now his hands on information was aged and it is certainly possible that he was not the stellar example of whistle-blower integrity, but that has not been publicly or authoritatively asserted. What is known are that radiation traces of the poison are all over the place, that it is increasingly dangerous to be a critic of the Russian government, and that Russia is looking like much less of a friend to the US, despite GWB having looked into Putin's eyes. I can't connect the dots, but Alice sure had it right, "Curiouser and curiouser."

A Little Face to Face

The very nature of blogging creates a distance and anonymity amongst bloggers. If you're here you've had a chance to see my furry face, since I've got the ego to plaster it up here. Many bloggers prefer to remain faceless and anonymous, it is a sensible attitude and since what counts is the content, really immaterial to a blog.

I've managed to build a certain amount of friendship through the process of writing for you and commenting on various blogs without ever meeting those people. I'm a small town boy so that leaves me feeling a certain lack, so it was a pleasure for me to have a chance to meet Carla of Loaded Oregon over breakfast Sunday. I'm happy to say that the writing is reflective of the intelligent, attractive, warm lady I met Sunday.

I am personally acquainted with TA Barhart and Kari Chisholm through political endeavors and find them to have fine minds and engaging personalities. There are facets of people that may not come through in the written word and it is nice to have a little more of a handle on who the people are that you have respect for. I look forward to more face to face.

Christmas Party Instead of Christmas Wake

It certainly was nice to have a DPO Christmas Party this year, instead of having a Christmas Wake. This was at the Melody Ballroom in Portland after the 4th Quarter Meeting and everybody was having a good time. There were some candidates, winners and near winners on hand, including newly minted Majority Leader Hunt and one of our favorites, Minnis Nemisis Rob Brading, along with others. This was a chance to celebrate, pat ourselves on the back, congratulate, and renew friendships.

The DPO meeting accomplished getting our bylaws revisions passed, and approving some Resolutions; one you may wish to notice - 2006-027 expressing our thanks to Chairman Dean for implementing the 50 State Strategy - which passed with a Unanimous Vote by Acclaimation. If you don't know much about Democrats, unanimity on any issue is extraordinary. There are those who'd tell us how to run our Party and whom to have run it, they could take this as the Democratic Party of Oregon's suggestion to, "take a hike."

I believe Klamath County gets the long distance award, but I'm also sure Baker County finished a fairly close second. It's a measure of enthusiasm and dedication that 79 Delegates and quite a few Alternates made the trip to Portland this time of year, not to mention all the staff and Executive Officers.

This blog isn't related to DPO except tangentially by my membership so I won't go into more detail than the stuff of general interest to a general reader. If you'd actually like to know more, the best way is by involvement.

Friday, December 01, 2006

A Little Blog Vacation

I have some loyal readers that I wouldn't want to disappoint by just disappearing so here's a heads up. The DPO has some important business this weekend and I'm going to be there (Portland) instead of here (Baker City and my computer). So I'm going to give you a little break from me telling you what I think. Hanging with a bunch of politi-junkie Democrats may charge me up good by Sunday.

Go on down a couple articles and tell me why you're a *gasp* liberal if you're bored...

Thanks for coming by

Hey Newt, Dangerous Site Here

yessiree bob

Danger lurks.




You never can tell, people might say some truly subversive things like:

"When in the course of human events..."

That was another George, in fact the Third. Maybe down in your neck of the woods they never taught history, or maybe in that alternative lizzard universe you occupy things turned out differently. You see, nobody asked your opinion about whether speech was safe, it turned out a long time ago that it wasn't. Except that most of them are dead, you could ask folks from the dawn of speech down through Mao Tse Tung and right up to a lizzard designated failed politician if it isn't. George II has found it dangerous, people have talked and they disapprove of being lied to, walked into a never ending war on terror, Iraq, institutionalized plutocracy, pretty much you name it. That's the real terror for a politician of your stripe, people might just want the truth, they might just want to make their minds up without you trying to scare them to death.

Here's a news flash for you, Newt, those little rat bastards with the bombs, they don't like people saying the wrong things, praying to the wrong gods, in fact, just like you, they're skeert of free speech. Now here's a real news flash for you, there are all kind of lefties that think you resemble something stuck on their shoe and your philosophy of life as smelly; who'll defend your right to say something that assinine and actually believe it. People will, no kidding, give you a podium to advocate taking their podium away from them. Heck, I'll advocate giving you a podium, then I'll call you down out for it.

You see, silly lizzard, most of us aren't cowards. One heck of a lot of us are just exactly as dangerous as I am, we'll just keep insisting that that our rights aren't subject to your fears. Or your advantage. And we'll make fun of you. And we remember things like 1776 and just how powerful words can be, they can stoke revolutions. And places like Omaha Beach where our kids walked through slaughter so jerks like you could stand up in front of a whole bunch of people and say something like you did. You stood there and spit on one of the foundations of our nation and you think people might "make" you be President? Keeeripes