Sunday, September 30, 2007

Cuban Girl's Custody

The Miami Herald , a McClatchy paper, has a story about a five year old Cuban girl and the custody fight around her. Her father, a Cuban national named Rafael Izquierdo, wants custody and the Miami foster parents and the State are fighting for that.

The Florida Department of Children & Families, together with the girl's court-appointed guardian ad litem, are asking Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jeri B. Cohen to forever strip Izquierdo of custody over his daughter by granting Joe and Maria Cubas permanent guardianship. They say the girl has so completely bonded with her half-brother and foster parents that separating from them now would endanger her emotionally.
The issue is pretty complicated, the FL statute in issue states that

a judge ''shall place'' a child with a fit parent ``unless the court finds that such placement would endanger the safety, well-being, or physical, mental or emotional health of the child.''
The State's problem is that Mr Izquierdo has been declared a fit parent. There is a consideration of the state (any) stepping into the natural right of a parent to raise their child absent abusive behavior.

At one time I would have made the argument that taking a child from the free democratic environment of the US and placing that child in the totalitarian state of Cuba was an obvious harm to the child. Since the advent of BushCo many of the distinguishing features between the two countries have vanished. Since the President now has the "authority" to vanish US citizens and torture them, after using warrantless searches and seizures on them, defacto police state actions, I am pretty chary of making that claim. I'm pretty sure that unless the father is a member of Cuba's ruling elite her economic future is better in the US, but as the BushCo has demonstrated, serfdom is the desired end of their policies, such a matter might be questionable. All in all most arguments I might make regarding something other than the affections of a child and the debatable consequences of changing that circumstance; have been thwarted by George II and his minions.

How sad is that?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Shrill Right

I don't know if anybody has noticed that the level of shrillness from the right has risen considerably of late. I'm not referring to the run of the mill expected exaggeration of the Hannities and Limbaughs or silliness of the Gibsons and "O'Reallys" I mean the out and out squalling that's been going on. Words like "phony soldiers," "traitorous speech," "disgusting ads," "strangling" critics, it's gotten pretty deep. Maybe you've noticed a pattern, or cycle (assuming the whole thing doesn't make you too disgusted to remember).

Here's what I've picked up on, when it looks as though there is a challenge to "Republican" dominance or they're in trouble the nutcase rhetoric begins and escalates. As Bill Clinton improved in the polls and had successes in policy the rhetoric amped up, it went from annoying investigations to allegations of murder, drug dealing, and finally impeachment. This isn't to say that Bill didn't offer up some pretty attractive bait, but it sure got hot for awhile. When McCain threatened the BushCo primary, out came the nasty allegations, Max Cleland found out that an amputee vet was fodder for nastiness, John Kerry got "swiftboated," as terrorist alerts accelerated and any criticism of it was either weakness inviting an attack or out and out treasonous aid and comfort to the enemy. By 06 when polling showed Democratic resurgence the gloves came off and the rhetoric went nuts. Hannity and Limbaugh made Michael Moore sound downright conventional (and that my lefty friends is a stretch).

What I'm getting at is that under threat the Republicans get awfully nasty and their surrogates get downright lunatic with hate and fear. Blogs that were pretty centrist drift right and manage to persuade themselves that they are still centered - since the loony right has gone off the deep end. As their policies fail and even the complicit media can't hide the failures they are driven farther and farther from reason. When a moderate Republican blogger takes time to discuss with an anonymous loon the idea that criticism of a military commander or the behavior of troops or their mission is actual treason and then partially agree, the "center" has lost its way.

Treason is a serious charge, it involves either giving to the enemy such things as intelligence (ie troop movements or logistics or technology); or providing food, shelter, or security to them. It in no way involves the exercise of speech to criticize the mission (as demoralizing as that might possibly be) or to criticize the abilities or honorableness of conduct of their superiors, it does not even include calling troops names (as stupidly rude and obnoxious conduct as that is). You have the right to be stupid in public, you have the right to be obnoxious in public, you have the right to make a fool of yourself in public (lacking these rights the Republicans would be in jail). You also have the right to be exactly right and loudly so.

The fringe elements of the Republican Party have taken it off a cliff, that is unfortunate. What is truly unfortunate is when the responsible elements of the Party follow them over. Nobody ever forgets being called a traitor. Not ever. Those who "inadvertently" participated are not forgotten. They are remembered, they are discounted, they have ceased to be fellow citizens by placing that between us. They have established that I am not a citizen of "their" country and quite frankly - I don't wish to be. Their difficulty is that it's not "their" country. The day it is "their" country is the day I take out the weapons and make them prove it. There. The gauntlet is thrown down, you can pick it up or back up and go away.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Myanmar - Burma - Repression - Murder

One could scarcely call the government of Myanmar something other than repressive, but they have taken that label to new heights over the past two days. Soldiers are firing automatic weapons into crowds, invading Buddhist monasteries, and have cut off electronic communications available to civilians. Demonstrations, sparked by a large increase in fuel prices, have been estimated to have numbers up to 100,000. The nation of Myanmar rivals N Korea as a closed and repressed society.

Myanmar's chief patron, China, has blocked UN condemnation, but has offered platitudes about how "all parties in Myanmar exercise restraint and properly handle the current issue so as to ensure the situation there does not escalate and get complicated.” Evidently unarmed civilians and monks need to restrain themselves from getting killed by automatic gunfire. We really ought to spend lots of money on Chinese made goods, just to make sure they can have the influence to make such a statement stick.

Buddhism is a non-violent philosophy/religion and it is once again being faced with forceful violence. Evidently a saffron robe is poor protection from bullets. The military junta running the place does not seem to be overly concerned that bullets won't win the day. They may be running a large risk of backlash within the military ranks, people who have and know how to use, firearms. BushCo is moving to freeze the assets of the identifiable leaders, but over the last 20 years Myanmar has ignored such actions.

I am not an advocate of taking leaflets to a gunfight, nor am I overly impressed with the technique of resistance involved in taking a bullet, admirable as Buddhism may be, self-destruction to no end gain seems wasteful. While I might be willing to die for an idea, that concept also includes helping someone on the other side get there first. I have noticed that there's not much reportage regarding the fact that "non-violent revolutions" have managed to get significant support from heavily armed contingents before they became successful (that or they involved revolution from a government politically incapable of brutal repression - ie Ghandi/Britain).

It is important to understand that one day Burma had one government and the next day it was Myanmar and these murderous thugs. These things happen, not because they just do, but because they can happen. When something is possible, it tends to happen; when power and force are concentrated in a single group; that group is able to make decisions for all - and back it up. Those who scoff at the Second Amendment disregard that the outcome is mutual destruction, something elites are not willing to be a part of. If Myanmar's economic elite perceived such destruction you can rest assured the murders of the last few days would not have occurred.

At this point things are still pretty fluid, but at some point people are going to be unwilling to die without some hope that things will go their way.

Rudy 9-11 Guiliani

My membership in the NRA is based on a couple things that don't involve politics: firearms education, competitive shooting, and the 2nd Amendment, I'm actually pretty tired of their rightwing caterwauling. I suppose some of that is due to the idea that a left Democrat couldn't understand the 2nd or manage to own firearms, too bad, they alienate people like me. But I'm hopeful that even with that baggage they can figure out Mr. Nine One One.

Every once in awhile the WaPo will run something like this AP story that is pretty straight, highlighting the ex-mayor's stands on strict gun control and suing firearms manufacturers, some of the most radical espoused by a major elected official and his NRA "conversion." You have to consider that a former federal prosecutor was willing to contravene the Bill of Rights and use the civil law process as a harassment technique against law abiding businesses. In Rudy's world of NY if you were rich, connected, or criminally influential you or your bodyguard employee could own and carry a handgun, minus those qualifications you were out of luck, just another serf. But Rudy had an awakening (cough).

"You have to look at all of these issues in light of the different concerns that now exist, which is terrorism, the terrorists' war on us," the Republican presidential contender told The Associated Press in an interview. He also mentioned immigration and border security.

OK Rudy, now what was the legal impetus? Apparently he heard about the Federal Appeals Court ruling tossing DC's 30 year old ban on handguns ruling that the Constitution gives (gasp) individuals the right to possess firearms. The Second Amendment isn't very long, consisting of a single sentence with a subordinate clause and a declarative clause, you'd have thought he might have bothered to read it, or even some of the relevant literature of the period? But, being a lawyer the meaning of words and supporting documentation doesn't seem to have had bearing on his legal actions, the court ruling:

"It is a very, very strong description of how important personal liberties are in this country and how we have to respect them," he said of the ruling, adding it "sort of maybe even did more to crystalize my thinking on the whole gun issue in light of Sept. 11."
Oh there it is, 9/11, and you thought maybe I was just being snotty. But wait...there's and improved Rudy...less content, greater spin.

"I think, after Sept. 11 _ I mean I probably would have had the same impression before, I'm not sure _ but after Sept. 11, all that seemed much more powerful to me."
Oh hogwash, in 2002 and 2004 he was quoted strongly backing gun control, a continuation of the Brady Bunch pitch that the Second Amendment applies to States' ability to arm themselves with the National Guard. Now that he's caught nine-eleven-itis during a Primary that's not the case. But really, this is the Republican savior:

"I think political professionals would tell you that if my opponents get the nomination, a day after the convention, no matter what they say, the Republican Party operation closes down in 20 states, and then we concentrate on the remaining states," Giuliani said. "I think they would tell you that if I get the nomination, there'll be a Republican Party operation in virtually every state, and then as the campaign goes on, we'll assess where we are."
There are a lot people who don't like guns and don't like other people owning guns or guns they don't like and those people mangle the English language and historical facts get to the end they wish. I can't fault their desires, I fault their methods. They believe that a little lying around a part of the Bill of Rights they don't like has no other consequences. They fail to understand that the BOR is not negotiable, it is not subject to their petty interference without consequences. If the Second Amendment presents the threat they say it does, then Amend the Constitution to reflect that. I think that's a real bad idea, I think it would have outcomes worse than the ills gun banners wish to address, but that is the only course available to them that does not put the entire Bill of Rights at risk.

I take converts where I can find them and where I can help create them, but the operative word is converts, not to owning firearms, but to respecting the Constitution. I'd take Rudy, if there were any chance that this stuff is any more than momentary political convenience. What a political hack. Mr NineEleven, Republican, any politically convenient stand; re-read his "save the party" quote and do the math and you'll get his policy stands. Do the Republicans deserve this bunch they've got running? Yes...


You know that goofy cell call during the NRA speech, well AP has the story on that, turns out it was 9-11 caused as well :

"And quite honestly, since Sept. 11, most of the time when we get on a plane, we talk to each other and just reaffirm the fact that we love each other," he said."
Giveme a break, and the sun came up in the east, because everything was different after 9-11.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Center Holds - NYT - Brooks

Here's the thesis, the netroots is over-rated, so over-rated that politicians attend their big conference - The Yearly Kos - and then, don't know what it was when asked (Edwards). Seriously, David Brooks advances the idea that Hillary is inevitable because she ignores the netroots and the big money lefties. While it is true that she holds a sizable lead over the next two candidates, that lead amounts to a little over a third of Democratic voters.

But on to Brooks NYT stuff , "In the first place, the netroots candidates are losing. In the various polls on the Daily Kos Web site, John Edwards, Barack Obama and even Al Gore crush Hillary Clinton, who limps in with 2 percent to 10 percent of the vote."

But Hillary knows what she's doing, " And while Clinton may not go out of her way to offend the MoveOn types, on her TV rounds on Sunday she made it obvious that she’s not singing their tune. On “This Week With George Stephanopoulos,” Clinton could have vowed to vacate Iraq. Instead, she delivered hawkish mini-speeches that few Republicans would object to. She listed a series of threats and interests in the region and made it clear that she’d be willing to keep U.S. troops there to handle them. "

This kind of talk is going to make over half of America rather testy. Not the lefties, they rightfully detest Hillary, but the chunk that makes up the rest of the 60% who think the country is on the wrong track.

Now not only is the netroots over-rated it also isn't liked within the corridors of power, the people who actually understand things, "The fact is, many Democratic politicians privately detest the netroots’ self-righteousness and bullying. They also know their party has a historic opportunity to pick up disaffected Republicans and moderates, so long as they don’t blow it by drifting into cuckoo land. They also know that a Democratic president is going to face challenges from Iran and elsewhere that are going to require hard-line, hawkish responses."

The absolute Brooksian truth is that what we need is Bush-with-tits, she'll save us from our cuckoo land selves. the cuckoos who said Iraq was the wrong thing to do, the cuckoos who detest George II and his imperial presidency. If you're wondering how a NYT op-ed columnist could get from someplace to here, you need to understand how he got to NYT. He started on NYT op-ed in 9/03 and got there from...The Weekly Standard at its start up in '95, he got there from the WSJ leaving as op-ed editor. Now you have to stop and think about that one, the neanderthal WSJ op-ed page to Weekly Standard to NYT? 9/03? Judith Miller was really hitting her stride as BushCo propagandist about that time and NYT was lapping it up and dishing it out.

Brooks is realist enough to know that what's left of the Republican field at the end of the Primary season can't win, so is it possible he's cheerleading his favorite alternative to Bush? It must get downright schizophrenic over at NYT when it comes time to print. If they're America's paper of record, it must be by default. At least there's McClatchy and they bothered to cover George II at the UN...

William Douglas,
Speaking before the United Nations General Assembly, the president called for renewed efforts to enforce the U.N.'s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a striking point of emphasis for a leader who's widely accused of violating human rights in waging war against terrorism.
Bush didn't mention the U.S. prisons in Afghanistan or at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. practice of holding detainees for years without legal charges or access to lawyers, or the CIA's "rendition" kidnappings of suspects abroad, all issues of concern to human rights activists around the world.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Rep Jane Harman Says BushCo Lied About FISA

Rep Jane Harman has stated that the White House provided known bogus intelligence to scare Congress into its pre-recess approval of wire-tap expansions. I guess that provides me with two opportunities to rant.

This administration's penchant for playing politics with fear is scarcely news worthy, novel, or otherwise other than ordinary run of business for them. That they are not held in lower esteem for it is noteworthy, that any grown up falls for it - repeatedly - is sad, that Congress is so stupid as to take this bunch at their word is appalling. But, Congress did - again.

Now here is where the real crunch comes, we all know that GWB's oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States is meaningless, now we find that in Congress it only holds true if somebody doesn't tell you a scary story. Seriously, we'll just willy-nilly abrogate Constitutional guarantees if the White House tell us to, the heck with asking to see the facts, the data, nah, just tell us it's so and it's done. Is there some particular reason to have a Congress? GeorgeII can just say what is so, the Courts say oh yes, and when we get sick of it we can treat him to another George's fate, except he's on this side of the ocean, in which case a Louis would be more appropriate.

You have to start to wonder if the idea of principle is entirely foreign to most of that body, if the concept of a basic rule of law called the Constitution has any meaning at all. I've commented that Washingtonians have a primary regarding Rep Baird, I've just decided that a whole whacking bunch of states have meaningful Democratic Primaries. I'll admit to having a bunch of grey areas with Oregon's Democratic delegation, but overall I've been OK with that, it is politics. But I've had this. I'll be damned if I'll bend a knee to GeorgeII - I'd bend him over my knee...but this unending fear smitten behavior in our Congress is enough. Let's see who voted Aye on this and take them to task.

The bill earned the support of 16 Democrats in the Senate and 41 Democrats in the House. Yeas:
Bayh, Evan; Carper, Tom; Casey, Bob; Conrad, Kent; Feinstein, Diane; Inouye, Daniel; Klobuchar, Amy; Landieu, Mary; Lincoln, Blanche; McCaskill, Claire; Mikulski, Barbara; Nelson, Ben; Nelson, Bill; Pryor, Mark; Salazar, Ken; Webb, James - Senators all, our deliberative body.

Altmire, Jason; Barrow, John; Bean, Melissa; Boren David; Boswell, Leonard; Boyd, F; Carney, Christopher; Chandler, Albert; Cooper, Jim; Costa, Jim; Cramer, Robert; Cuellar, Henry; Davis, Artur; Davis, Lincoln; Donnelly, Joe; Ellsworth, Brad; Etheridge, Bob; Gordon, Bart; Herseth Sandlin, Stephanie; Higgins, Brian; Hills, Baron; Lampson, Nick; Lipinski, Daniel; Marshall, James; Matheson, Jim; McIntyre, Mike; Malancon, Charlie; Mitchell, Harry; Peterson, Collin; Pomeroy, Earl; Rodriguez, Ciro; Salazar, John; Shuler, Heath; Snyder, Vic; Space, Zachary; Tanner, John, Taylor, Gene; Walz, Timothy; Wilson, Charles - The People's House.

You will note that there is not the name of a single one of Oregon's Congressional Democrats. Not one. And that is 5 Democrats out of 7 total members. You will note, please, that Walden (R - OR 02) and Smith (R-OR) vote BushCo Yea. A couple Republicans actually voted nay, I can't be bothered to list them; the other Party can.

A Hall of Shame for Democrats, and a couple names it's really too bad to see there, oh well, they need to go. Bye, Bye, don't let the door hit you on the way out...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Forida Democrats Stick To Date

Florida Democratic Party has stated that it intends to stick with its early Primary date of January 29 in the face of Democratic National Committee rules which call for stripping violators of their delegates. The DNC is firmly attached to the position that willy-nilly primary scheduling is a recipe for disaster and chaos, Florida is wedded to the idea that their early primary guarantees them the influence they deserve prior to the large February 5th. AP quotes Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, "The 4 million Florida Democrats will be enfranchised. We will make sure Florida Democrats have a voice and that voice will be heard." She further added that they "fully expect that delegation to be seated."

The state part looked at options such as holding a caucus or mail in vote but FDC Chairwoman Karen said, "But at the end of the day, we came down on the side of having a fair and open election, along with making sure that we had a lot of representation in this state." Steve Geller State Senate Democratic Leader lays the blame at the feet of the early states charging them with pushing the DNC to enforce the rules and "punish" candidates who campaign in states that jumped the order. "I don't see how it's not a violation of the voting rights act," Geller said, because Florida voters will now only be able to hear candidates speak at private functions, which have an entry fee. For the record, the candidates voluntarily signed a pledge not to campaign in those states. Michigan has January 15 scheduled, also outside of the DNC rules, which are Iowa - Jan 14, Nevada - Jan 19, New Hampshire - Jan 22, South Carolina - Jan 29.

There really probably is a better way to conduct a primary election than the current model, the problem is that it is not to simply have every self-important state leapfrogging the others. There is no state in the Union that cannot claim some important issues or having been rendered moot by earlier votes. Something that seems to miss these folks is that with as crowded a ticket as there is this time, it is quite possible that the later states will have a disproportionate influence. Oregon at May 5th can only hope so...

Land of the Free, Home of the Brave?

A few years back over 70% of Americans indulged Shock and Awe, they sat quietly as Habeas Corpus was eliminated, watched with little interest as fundamental freedoms from search and seizure were abrogated, and allowed our government to torture in secret prisons. Why? Terrorism. Or, rather, fear of terrorism, which (using a few grey cells) is its desired end. The fear of terrorism spread by our own politicians and willing media makes them complicit in the act - by definition, co-terrorists. So, here you have sworn defenders of the Constitution making common cause with criminal gangsters of the fanatic persuasion.

What is missing in the equation seems to be the understanding that the fanatics cannot change the American way of life - they cannot take away our freedom, they cannot take our women out of work and public life, they cannot change our religions or lack of, they might be able to kill or maim a handful of us, but the ability to make those changes lies with the American people. Do not allow the demagogues of whatever point of view to place that responsibility elsewhere, it lies directly with the citizens of America. So that you understand me, we allowed BushCo to behave as it has, it is certainly true that they have been the driving force, but we allowed it.

I am hugely disappointed in this nation and I am appalled by the continued tolerance of this behavior. We need to target for replacement each Congressperson who has promoted or tolerated this cowardly behavior. Of the crop of Presidential candidates an automatic disqualification for a vote would be the same and any of the remaining who are not currently calling in the strongest terms for a return to a Constitutional and freedom based government should get short shrift. American media that has participated needs to be boycotted, from entire networks and publications to individual programming and writers. This is scarcely a deprivation of their freedom of speech, it is simply an exercise in your freedom in what you consume. Do you get your business news from the WSJ? Their editorial agenda is anti-Constitution - there are other sources, let the whack job cowards support their rag. If you're a Republican, either be a force for change or get out - either way, quit being a part of fear mongering. For pete's sake, take action.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Busy Friday

Powder River Sportsmans Club Range, Virtue Flats, Baker County, Oregon

I've spent the day racing around trying to accomplish a week's business dealings in one day - a casualty of 4 days at 10 hrs building - and now I've got bullets to load. Lots of .45 Colts and I'm out of time, The Vigilantes of Virtue Flats are in action Saturday morning, so you all can get your Chuck fix another day. Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Betraeus,BushCo, and Olberman

I'm going to yank a few lines from Keith Olberman's Special Comment for Thursday September 20th to give you a feel for it if you didn't see it. As is typical with his Special Comments, if you didn't see it, you missed something:

Mr. Bush, you had no right to order General Petraeus to become your front man.

And he obviously should have refused that order and resigned rather than ruin his military career.

The upshot is and contrary it is, to the MoveOn advertisement he betrayed himself more than he did us.

I thought there was a certain childish aspect to playing on the General's name, but the endless BushCo whining has promoted a billion dollars worth of advertising for a $65K NYT ad. When he's wearing that uniform he doesn't get to play at politics, something he'd already demonstrated prior to the latest disgrace. But Kieth has some more for me to tease you with:

But Mr. Bush, you have hidden behind the General’s skirts, and today you have hidden behind the skirts of ‘the planted last question’ at a news conference, to indicate once again that your presidency has been about the tilted playing field, about no rules for your party in terms of character assassination and changing the fabric of our nation, and no right for your opponents or critics to as much as respond.

I like to write and I like to stir you up, but this guy's a pro and he should rightfully be well paid to produce this. Go on over and let somebody put words on the screen you wished you'd said...

NYT and A Shield For the Public

The NY Times ran an Editorial today with the above title and the illustrative section is this:

For freedom of the press to be more than a promise and for the public to be kept informed about the doings of its government, especially the doings that the government does not want known, reporters must be able to pursue the news wherever it takes them. One of the most valuable tools they have is the ability to protect the names of confidential sources — people who provide vital information at the risk of their jobs, their careers and sometimes even their lives.

Now I'd like to pick a couple nits here, this is an example of big business hiding behind the BOR that it does not support. The First Amendment is not the be all and end all of the BOR, it is quite an important part, that would be why it has first place, it is however followed by second place, which would be the Second Amendment this paper regularly attacks. That's some truly odd behavior, especially when they're advocating expanding an Amendment.

Then there's the little issue of "Free Press" which is a nice appellation for a business worth more than most of us can comprehend. Well, they did quit hiding behind "Times Select" by taking the subscription price off it, but quite frankly the New York Times is big business, run as one and managed by people about completely divorced from the reality of half this nation's population.

As for the things the government does not want known, how about the things it wants published? We could ask all kinds of pointed questions about Judith Miller and propagandizing. We could as even more questions about who benefited from that propagandizing?

Then we run right square into the use of confidential sources to spread information that has not squat to do with improving the public's level of information, but rather the spread of scandal and 'disinformation.' It would unfair to level these charges without noting the publishing of the stories regarding secret CIA prisons and other actual services provided by the NYT. But when a balance is called for, it begins to look like a narrow thing. The war in Iraq that they now oppose was the beneficiary of their cheerleading, even in the face of actual competitors calling it into question - Knight Ridder (McClatchy) was a competitor, it was time then to take a serious look at their stance; and they did not.

Here's the crunch, they're big enough and wealthy enough to ignore the small fry (KR wasn't that small) and call the ordinary citizens cretins for figuring they'd like to own their right, that's the Second Amendment, the one that allows regular ordinary people to own arms. Ordinary people don't own and run newspapers (blogs don't count), ordinary people's free speech involves talking to neighbors, blogging, writing letters, and small campaign donations, not access to media, not multi-million dollar advertising campaigns, not multi-million dollar lobbying activities. Ordinary folks might actually have their religions, depending on which theocratic version of the BOR finally shakes out and how theocratic this country is driven. You can't count on your house or belongings being secure from unreasonable search and seizure, ask a certain Portland OR attorney. In fact what you can count on is that the current regime won't try to house soldiers in your house.

So there you are, what you can be sure of is the fact that you own arms, you are not helpless in the face of the government when you finally get real tired of their crap. (unless you live in a couple Constitutionally deprived cities) Oh I know all about the futility of facing down an armored division with a handful of hunting rifles, I also know just how dangerous they actually are for a government, and Iraq gives a pretty illustrative example of an unhappy armed populace and the ensuing chaos. Even the plutocrats are having a tough time raping that country.

In the end run, the NYT can stuff their 'entitlement' to special consideration in the face of the law, I don't get it, they can tough it out. I can't stand on anything if the government wants to ask me questions about how I found something out, that big business entity can play by the same rules; you think it's important enough, you tell Sammy to take a hike and do the jail time, or make a fight of it. Oh, the fight part of it would involve arms...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Baker Valley

***Right click & follow link for full size****

Part way up Marble Creek Pass, Baker Valley below, and Eagle Cap Mountains in distance. Looking east, the road is directly below, leave your car at home - 74 K5 Blazer, top off. Smoke haze is from forest fires 50 miles southwest. Elevation at this point about 7500 feet, the valley is 3500 feet, pass above and behind about 9000 feet. That's home down there at right edge of picture. There are no foothills, just the mountains, these are the Elkhorns.

Pyrennes Bath

Bath time for both of us, one was intended

***right click & follow link for full size***

Left wing politics, guns, fast cars...big dog - 145 pounds of pooch - sweet natured as the day is long.

Outrage, not tonight

Sorry, I'm outraged out. I know, great fodder for it exists: Habeus, Iraq Tours...but I'm tired and everything I could write on this stuff is written already.

So thanks for stopping by, I'll do better Thursday.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Rate Cut and Market Soars

The Dow Jones gained 300 points today, 9/18, on the news that the Fed had dropped its rate 1/2 point. The market gained 2.5 % on what? A half point might have some small effect on new home mortgage rates but it certainly will not undo what ails the mortgage industry. A certain amount of money will make its way into the market with credit a little cheaper. Most certainly the Fed's action will have not one bit of effect on wages.

What got the market into an uproar was that the Fed did what effect is a mystery. The market gained because market investors felt good, or at least better than they have for awhile. The reality of what stocks actually are is quite simply immaterial.

If you stop to think about it, a stock is a piece of a company, a percentage of its value. The value of a company is composed of two factors; its assets - its buildings, equipment, materials, cash - and its business - its ability to turn a profit. The first factor isn't real hard to determine, the second a little tougher, but still fairly reasonable to get to. That is what a stock is and the market isn't anymore than a trading place for those stocks but it certainly isn't used in that fashion. The stock market is a wealth generator in and of itself, a playground of emotional psychosis having so little to do with real economic health as to be almost meaningless. Perception is the game, if you read it right you can win big, pay attention to reality and it's a crapshoot.

There are investors who work stocks hard, research companies and make reasoned decisions based on the companies themselves and they can do well, if they're not overtaken by some market emotional swing. Mostly investing in stocks is investing in the idea that things will be fine; well, things aren't fine. Unless you're a're here - you're not.

Mitt Says...A Lot Of Things

***Right Click and follow link for full size***

Yes, it's pink, it's Mitt's, it's Gay. Then. And NOW ?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Economy and the NYT Editorial Board

This NYT Editorial shows some of what ails the "mainstream" picture of the economy and what is wrong with it:
"Rate cuts won’t attack the proximate causes of today’s economic turmoil — widespread mortgage defaults at one end of the economic scale and a credit squeeze afflicting Wall Street at the other, both rooted in the excesses of the housing boom."

No, rate cuts won't attack the proximate cause even though its not what NYT asserts, those problems are symptoms, the problem is that the bottom has fallen out. Wages have been falling for years, as those have fallen the middle has started to get dragged down, the only thing holding the mess together was the "housing boom." The easy credit available for housing, whether for purchase or simply equity refinancing, has kept many people in the consumerism game. New housing drives a huge portion of the consumer market, that new house frequently means new furnishings and appliances, lawns and gardens and related equipment. and some "rewards" for the stress. Refinances mean the down for the new vehicle, the vacation, the new TV, etc, etc, including those stock buys. As the middle has gotten squeezed they have to cut back on investments they might have made and some of those investment dollars went to the "dream home" possible with lower interest rates or ... gamed interest rates.

It seems that the NYT and a bunch of others all want to look up for the source of economic difficulties, not surprising, BushCo plays that game as they cater to the plutocrats, most of the "mavens" spout the same stuff. Of course, they're the same bunch that made a big deal out of rising average income...

I wonder if it is an inability to connect dots that are unfamiliar, or if it is willful stupidity. What I do know, is that the plight of ordinary Americans just does not count with the big players.

Monday, September 17, 2007

"Note From The Castle"

If you have the patience for a rather meandering discussion Jay Rosen has an insightful discussion with a White House Press Corps reporter. The reporter prefers to remain un-named, reasonably so in the context so: "I don't generally run things like that. But this is straight from the briefing room to correct PressThink on a few items. So I found a way." I'll take Jay's reputation on this one. I'm going to pull one exchange out and hope it piques your interest:

(Jay in italics)
That’s basically correct. Your rephrasing and your conclusion are basically sound. We’re back, in effect, to the superiority of McClatchy’s news judgment (or complaints from the WashPost’s national security team that their stories ran on A16). And you’re right about the potential spin factor (actually, not-so-potential), though at least in theory we’re supposed to be able to push past that.

Well, if you are not in the direct accountability business after all, and cannot yourselves “hold their feet to the fire,” as the newsroom saying goes, then I would suggest that your newsroom make a big announcement to that effect and maybe having a presser. There would be a lot of interest in that

Can it be that you genuinely don’t understand how central “holding their feet to the fire” is to getting that relevant information out?

“What did the president know and when did he know it?” is an effort to get information to news consumers. Fact-checking presidential statements is the same. McClatchy’s superb pre-war coverage was the same. “For Bush, Facts Are Malleable” in the Washington Post was the same. NSA wiretapping story in the NYTimes? Dana Priest’s “secret prison network” stories? The same.

I guess I just think that final “accountability” rests in institutions other than the press. The Congress, the Courts, and elections. If I underplayed the role we have to play, that was my mistake.
OK, I want to weigh in here; if the electorate and public servants get junk in the place of information they cannot be expected to make decisions that are something other than stupid. I ran for US Rep and built my policy stances on the best information I could find and a whacking lot of that was from journalists - and if I'd made it?? In Congress you certainly have more access to information, but journalists are still a basic part of it, and the constituents who call, mail, and visit rely on it. The Courts come from where? Some place outside the reach of journalism?

I write an opinion and advocacy blog, I'm not a journalist, I count on them. Sure I research as much as I can, but they're still my sources and if it's crappola then I'm hung out. I credit my primary sources, they did the work and deserve the credit, and if it's no more than hits on a counter, I still did my part. I sure don't get paid a nickle to do this.

These folks stand on the First Amendment, they hold their place with Speech and Religion out as a sacred trust, that being the case they'd sure better make sure what they do lives up to it. Much of the press has a tendency to kick the Second Amendment around on the basis of the irresponsibility and unlawfulness of some, that might be a cautionary tale for themselves.

I run a business and I'm responsible for the mistakes of my employees, I sure couldn't afford the mistakes of the magnitude of journalists over the past few years, in fact I don't see how their employers can, unless there is a good reason for it. Knight Ridder (now McClatchy) got the run up to the Iraq war mostly right, their competitors failed - seriously. I do not see the profession taking it as seriously as meaning their careers or even their profession to have failed so miserably. There is, of course, the question of how much filtering happened at the employer...and what their relationship is to power.

Take some patience and go check the article at PressThink and the comments - Jay's participation does not stop at the article.

Faux WSJ

NYT Media and Advertsing :

In a Dow Jones news release to be issued today, Marcus W. Brauchli, The Journal’s managing editor, said, “Pursuits will offer compelling journalism, vivid imagery and an unmatched guide to wealth, fashion, collecting and travel.”

What else can I add to this?

Something To Do, For Awhile

***right click and follow link for full size***

When I started this was a foundation and slab, now we're siding up and painting down. I'm not a painter, but the owner preferred to pay me to paint using my siding scaffolding. The tarped up tools are two radial arm saws, one 220AC 12" equipped with a diamond blade to cut the cementious siding (HardiPlank) and a 110AC 10" for OSB based trim (SmartTrim). The roof is 10 pitch and the eves on the sides are 30 feet above ground and yes, I have spent a fair amount of time walking those walls.

This house is quite unique, three stories are uncommon and this one has very close lot lines, 5 feet to the eves on the side and 15 feet in the rear. The building it attached to is turn of the century as is the house directly behind it, so features were added to make it congruent with the neighborhood. There is some heavy duty and complex framing within, all floors clear span the width of the building minus in places the stairwell and the elevator shaft, which is in the front right corner behind the small lower roof. The interior ceiling at roof line is vaulted, including the smaller side gables, some fairly involved and time consuming stick framing.

I enjoy what I do for a living, so I thought I'd share a bit of it.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

1950 Chevy COE

This truck is for sale - contact 541-523-7520 or Truck is sold
***right click follow link for full size***

Nah, it's not a fast car, this is a working truck. 1950 Chevrolet Cab Over Engine dump truck plated in Oregon at 24,000 pounds GVW. Those are not cheap plates, though in OR they're probably cheaper than a lot of places. The bed is 13.5 cubic yards, with side hung rear doors for loading or unloading.

It's so homely it's almost cute and when it's on the job I'm not the oldest "tool" there. Equipped with a 292 cid 6 cylinder, a 4 speed granny tranny and split axle it can run at 65 mph on the flat, empty and loaded just about get out of its own way. In granny 1st with the axle split down to low range the engine tops out at about 5 mph so it can climb just about any grade loaded, but it sure takes awhile to get anywhere.

I like the old beast, but once you've driven it for about 4 hours you gain a great appreciation for modern equipment - that I can't afford... Since it spends most of its life parked on job sites as the trash truck it should last very nearly forever.

Hillary's Iraq War Problem

The Iraq war vote in the Senate is not why I will not support Hillary Clinton, it is a symptom of what is wrong with her as a Democrat. Media Matters has consistently defended Hillary from inaccurate and misleading attacks, this time they aren't in her corner blasting the NYT for this article and its assertion:

"Summary: The New York Times falsely claimed that Sen. Hillary Clinton "has always maintained that her support of a Congressional resolution authorizing the president to use force in Iraq was not an authorization to go to war." In fact, Clinton acknowledged at the time that the vote for the resolution could "lead to war," but she has stated that a vote for the resolution was not a "vote[] for" war, and that she expected the Bush administration to push for more weapons inspections in Iraq before resorting to war."

You can read her floor statement, as I have, and see that it does not express enthusiasm for war with Iraq, but that was not the vote. The vote was to allow the President to use military force against Iraq. I have had occasion to upbraid others for votes that did not mean what they stated when they voted or that were used in manners they did not anticipate. There are outcomes of votes, and typically the outcome is exactly what the matter voted on said in its language. Lawyers know language counts, they use that fact in court documents and in court on a regular basis. Yet we are to assume that they were ignorant of the fact at the time or that the 'other' side would play 'fair.' Hillary is a lawyer, passed the Bar and all that...

You don't get to be a Senator and plead ignorance, I'm real sorry, that's a completely stupid cop out. I certainly do not need to explain to my readers that these people have staffs and a responsibility. 'Have they fulfilled that responsibility?' is the only question that counts. That apparently is not the issue here, unless you want to pick on the "intelligence." Well...maybe.

The issue here appears to be that Hillary doesn't think BushCo played fair. You have to be particularly credulous to believe that BushCo did not want to do exactly what the measure voted on stated. Hillary insists that she was mislead. I'm afraid I don't quite understand that particular stance, the measure said exactly what it said, she voted for what it said, "Yea," means exactly that. It does not mean "sort of," or any other qualifier she'd like us to think it meant. She went exactly where she went for her reasons, you can speculate about the political tone at the time and misleading intelligence, but other Democrats and Ron Paul voted "Nay."

If you're a Democrat and you think Hillary is a swell candidate, maybe you need to look at her voting record and see if you really can warm up to it. Maybe you need to not eat spin about votes, maybe you just need to stop and think rather than accept the MSM qualification of "inevitable" candidate. And maybe you need to reflect on just what value all her experience adds up to, that co-Presidency First Ladyship preceded the vote to go to war with Iraq. So we really need a presidential candidate who is that easy to mislead and uses that as an excuse?

"Vote for me, I'm a dummy," doesn't strike me as real good stump speech...but she uses it.

Alexis Debat, ABC, and the Nixon Center

Do you find the conservative movement to be particularly credulous? Kind of like that greedy bass that went for the shiny lure, the nice flashy thing that looked not in the least like his real prey? You can keep a baby happy for hours by dangling bright colorful objects over its crib, just as long as they move a little....

Alexis Debat, ABC terrorism expert, former French Intelligence Ministry employee, in fact Doctor - PhD Alexis Debat Nixon Center Fellow is a complete fake. Rue89 has at least part of the story and it does raise some real serious smells, Brian Ross over at ABC looks particularly bad, but you have to go looking a little to see where all this crap got pedalled. PBS relied on ABC's judgement and used the guy, and whoa - fair and balanced Faux News Murdoch's London Times got a screaming headline, Pentagon 'Three-day Blitz Plan' for Iran , complete with red meat, “Whether you go for pinprick strikes or all-out military action, the reaction from the Iranians will be the same.” It was, he added, a “very legitimate strategic calculus”.

The Nixon Center which called him their Director of National Security and Terrorism (hey how's that for 'security'?) publishes a rag called The National Interest and here's some more of that stuff, "what started not as a clash of civilization is increasingly looking like one." Just in case you thought maybe we had some whack-job religio-loons to deal with, nah, the expert says it's an entire culture...oh no mommy I'm soooo scared.

ABC News has been trying to get some of his stuff off, but there's a bit still floating around, like the linked one, a four page piece fluffing Abu Zarqawi as the new Ossma ready for global conflict, yeah, the guy blown up in a hut in Iraq. You know that one got the right's knickers in a knot, 'gotta get them al-Qaeda in Iraq guys before they follow us home. Poor ABC :, "This Blotter Has Been Removed..." (I'd have loved to done "Poor ABC" as the link, but the thing's a mess).

The Nixon Center hasn't scrubbed its Site yet so here's a little sample, "Iraq has turned into a safe house for terrorists. It is a place where recruits are trained and develop institutional and personal relationships that provide Al-Qaeda with a structure that is ambiguous yet existent and defined." Hey, you don't suppose GeorgeII and the BushCo apologists have been talking to this fake do you?

Kind of like BushCo's WMDs this guy's fakery was accomplished by building falsehoods verified by other falsehoods and credentials supported by the willing dupes' credentialing him. Now all of that only worked because he sold them what they wanted, he gave them the junk they wanted to believe, just like any good con. The list of rightists who bought this goes on for pages and pages of Google, terrorism freaks and others willingly eating it up, CBN lapped away at this scary stuff, "I think we have seen the hand of Iraq veterans coming back to Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco even Europe sometimes, with considerable skills, not only in bomb-making, but advanced counter intelligence, " Alexis Debat said.

Real facts say that terrorism is a threat from a small minority of people, and those people must be dealt with, real facts don't warrant the fear, fear, fear sold by these people who will buy just darn near anything that sounds like fear. Think about it, these people run around beating their chests while cringing from shadows, silliness. But then they do have a faux warrior in the White House keeping them stirred up - you'd think they'd learn.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Democrats Want Defeat In Iraq - Boehner

Since GOP House Leader John Boehner (R-OH) made a comment on CNN to Wolf Blitzer referring to the US commitment in Iraq as a "small price" for stopping al Qaeda and stabilizing the Middle East he's been taking all sorts of heat. So, leave it to these sort of people to "spin" the snot out of it in rescue mode.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer wanted to know their reaction to the criticism generated by this remark, "We need to continue our effort here because, Wolf, long term the investment that we're making today will be a small price if we're able to stop al-Qaida here, if we're able to stabilize the Middle East." His spokeswoman Jessica Towhey had this to say, "...progress on the ground that some Democrats are so desperate to ignore," and further, It's apparent that some Democrats and the far-left wing of their party are deeply afraid we are winning in Iraq now, and it's clear they will do anything they can - including making false representations - to ensure our troops come home after defeat, not victory."

So, it is the position of the Leadership of the GOP that the Democrats want the US defeated in Iraq. That might be considered rather "hot" rhetoric in any circumstance, but when you consider that the Bush administration has done just about everything possible to guarantee failure, it is reprehensible. Putting troops in harm's way under a false flag was irresponsible in the beginning - that is irresponsibility with people's lives, and from there they botched every major move that might have allowed success. Bush and the Republicans have made such a mess of this that now there is not clear idea of what would define success or defeat, it is a constantly moving goal. The troops have not, of course, failed at any military mission involving opposing troops, but that goal was passed early on, within the space of months. The failures have all been political, Bush and Republican failures.

What Republicans expect you to believe is that we are going to "win" something, that it involves a small price, and that the opposition are traitors who are attempting to defeat US troops in battle. That particular kind of talk would, in many circles, get you smacked in the face. Maybe I am a little too civilized to go find Rep. Boehner and hit him, but boy it sure is irritating and defines him as something other than a politician, unless you consider Joe McCarthy and example of politics. Cheap inflammatory talk based on no more than their emotional response to being called wrong is debasing of the political process and another example of why the Republicans need to spend some time in the political wilderness. What a bunch.

Friday, September 14, 2007

UPS, FedEx, and Teamsters

Most of us are familiar with the Brown Trucks, the white FedEx, and have some passing familiarity with the Teamsters. If you were standing outside the business of package delivery you'd think those companies and Teamsters would have a shared relationship. You'd also be wrong.

You see, UPS started out 100 years ago and not too oddly, they used trucks to accomplish their business, FedEx on the other hand started out as an air-delivery company and there's the rub. Teamsters long ago organized UPS but FedEx as an airline operates under different more difficult labor laws. FedEx operates under the Railroad Labor Act which bars any one group of organized employees from crippling that carrier.

Rep James Oberstar (D- Minn), the chairman of House Transportation Committee has produced an amendment to the FAA re-authorization bill that would put FedEx's drivers, maintenance workers, and some other employees under the same NLRB rules UPS operates under. Here's a surprise, Sen Trent Lott (R-MS) promises to throw himself on this "landmine." Do you suppose working people who vote for these anti-labor Republicans will ever give up on their sham god-ness and wake up to their plutocratic agenda?

Lamont Vs. Lieberman

I've wondered over the past year how the Connecticut voters felt about electing Joe Lieberman(I) once it was an accomplished fact and BushCo's war dragged on ... and on ... and on, with good ole Joe cheerleading all the way. There sure was a lot of kicking at Democrats and other left organizations about the Primary results, mostly to the effect that they were a bunch of spoiled children. It seems they weren't, what they were was ahead of the curve.

Daily Kos commissioned a poll regarding votes if the election were held today, the poll was conducted by Research 2000 and the results are rather interesting. 600 likely voters who vote regularly in State elections were polled by telephone, statewide. On whom they voted for : All - Lieberman 49, Lamont 42, Schlesinger 9 (the Republican guy); Democrats - Li 32, La 64, Sc 4; Republicans - Li 67, La 10, Sc 23; Independents - Li 53, La 41, Sc 6. That was then, 2006.

Now, 2007 : All - Li 40, La 48, Sc 10; Dem - Li 25, La 72, Sc 3; Rep - Li 69, La 7, Sc 24; Ind - Li 38, La 49, Sc 9. R2K states +/-4%

Apparently Republicans have somewhat hardened in their view of Iraq, with Lamont showing a 3% drop, by age groups 45-59 and 60+ show the most enthusiasm for Joe, though it has softened by 7&8 respectively.

What this shows is the risk not of challenging an incumbent Democrat in a primary, but rather the importance of a convincing campaign - first, and second not getting there ahead of the voters. Getting there ahead of the voters in the 2006 election poses a difficult question, how did the Lamont campaign manage that?

Boston (D) Files for OR HD45

Today Cyreena Boston, age 27, filed to run for HD45 as a Democratic candidate. Cyreena was raised in NE Portland and returned after attending Spellman College. Cyreena is the former DPO Constituency Director, one of the DNC sponsored hires.

I have known Cyreena from the time she was hired by DPO, I have found her to be intelligent, charming, and dedicated. She has studied issues in depth and delved into Constituency Outreach. While her grasp of minority issues is deep and broad, it is important to note that her reach far exceeds that, a large part of her job involved rural Oregon, including my part of the state, the OR 2nd CD.

There is not doubt in my mind that Cyreena will ably serve HD45 with great dedication and accessibility. The largest part of her job for DPO involved listening and learning the issues confronting various constituency groups and bringing them forward to DPO. This is possibly the most intensive on the job training one could have for the position she is seeking. Until now I have not endorsed any candidate for any position, on the basis of personal knowledge and admiration I am now doing so. Even though HD45 is far from my district and I am unable to cast a vote, I am happy to give my support to a friend and former colleague.

If you'd like to learn more or offer support, you can reach her site at

Thursday, September 13, 2007

New York Times and Mexican Trucks

The DOT gave permission to a Mexican trucking company last week to begin hauling freight in the US under a pilot program that will allow about 500 trucks from 100 Mexican carriers. Environmental and safety regulations that apply to American trucks would supposedly apply to Mexican trucks. The US House has already voted to cut of funding for the program.

The NYT Editorial states they suspect that the Teamsters oppose this program to "stave off the competition" and that the Sierra Club doesn't trust BushCo to enforce environmental laws. This opposition increases costs to companies and consumers; and tells Mexico that when it comes to free trade the US only likes it one way. The long haul fleet is much more modern than the critic's caricatures. Congress should allow Mexican trucks through.

Would it surprise you that I might have some disagreement with this editorial? Every industry that has insourced labor from Mexico has shown falling wages, is it any wonder that the Teamsters would oppose this move? If the Teamsters do not oppose this move with the full force available to a union, they have lost their minds. The Teamsters have the membership numbers to throw down the threat of a strike to break this one, assuming it's not an empty threat. The Sierra Club doesn't trust BushCo? They must read papers and listen to the news. Companies and consumers pay, that's odd, labor is generally paid for, you might think China and poison goods would be a hint about paying. The long haul fleet is modern, and is going to be checked? I don't think it's a great idea to run foreign nationals from one of the most corrupt nations in the world up and down our highways in 60,000 pound trucks. In fact, I believe we've already imported more than enough Mexican labor, there might be something to be said for US labor not being Mexico's number one source of income. Maybe something like this makes it real clear that NYT's Editorial Board is salaried and pretty much completely disconnected from working Americans. If you don't see the potential to get bitten by this, you may have that in common with them. I suppose it would be unfair to mention the Mexican truck that blew up and killed at least 37 people, since this "pilot" program wouldn't allow hazardous loads...sure, pilot and then? When exactly does BushCo get stopped from crushing labor for the benefit of the plutocrats?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Humboldt Co, CA Said No To Corporate Personhood

In 2006 Humboldt Co passed Measure T, which bans non-local corporations from participating in local elections and further denies that the artificial entity "corporation" has a claim to First Amendment Free Speech. Well, I'd like to know how I missed it until now. My tip off came from AlterNet and Loaded Orygun and I won't mess about with their work.

I have long wondered how exactly it came about that the fictional entity status of corporations designed to allow them to enter into contracts and participate in the legal arena morphed into the concept of personhood. I suppose if I had time (and a real driving curiosity) I could dig into the SCOTUS and find what they claimed, but philosophically I'm a bit conflicted.

Now I run an S Corp, which has about as much relationship to MicroSoft as the stone in your yard does to the moon, but I have to understand what it is that I own. Mostly that's to stay out of Court and to know what my accountant needs for what. What I own is a paper thing that can make contracts, pay bills, own stuff, and sue or be sued - which leaves me (mostly) personally out of that fray and I enjoy certain tax benefits. Now I certainly don't view that S Corp as more than a business convenience. The S Corp exists because the State allows it to through a registration and a fulfillment of certain requirements, it is a creature of the State. It was born of paper and ink and exists only in that realm. It has certain assets and individual/s involved in ownership but it certainly has no blood or thinking processes of its own. How it qualifies for the natural right to freedom of speech is beyond me, it is a wholly artificial construct.

I suppose that the crunch comes when people band together to create a political activism construct and begin to put together an infrastructure. A speech organization with property has to have some mechanism to own it, pay bills, and possibly enter into legal activities, and that is what a corporation is about, allowing a multiply held construct to engage as a singular entity. Having 1o,000 members sign a check would be rather troublesome and a contract with all those signatures might be a bit unwieldy. Most of the "free press" are corporations.

Hmmm. I wonder what you have to say? I'm kind of stuck on this one.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Medicaring Insurance Companies

Insurance companies bid for Medicare and the GAO says the government can recoup over payments. It seems that Medicare doesn't do it, about $59 million in 2003, when they audited 49 of 220 providers and found significant errors at 41 of them. They are supposed to audit 1/3 of the companies annually, in 2006 they managed 14%.

In a completely "unrelated" story, Medicare is going after beneficiaries for unpaid services, it seems that they've sent letters to about 135,000 people telling they still owe money, in most cases money that they failed to withhold from Social Security checks. As Kerry Weems, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said, “I am intently focused on this matter and will make it a priority to correct the errors and minimize them in the future.”

Thanks to NYT Health .

So, $59million in 2003 with decreasing audits each year and now they're going after beneficiaries? Sounds like the BushCo we know and loathe, give to corporations take from the poor, an inverted Robin Hood.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Shock Doctrine

Thanks HuffPo

This ought to push some buttons. Lots of them. So, what do you think?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Dick Durbin Says No Money

Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) voted against the 2002 authorization for war but he has since voted for the emergency funding bills. Congress is gearing up for the Petraeus/Crocker testimony and the White House signaled request for an additional $40 billion. Durbin yesterday stated that he would not vote for further funding of the war unless it is tied to a withdrawal plan.

He has said that he will not use his position to lobby for his stance, “Each person has to come to grips with this individually,” but he has met with several members who hold the same view. After his recent return from his third trip to Iraq Durbin told the audience at The Center for National Policy that Congress faces a "moral obligation" to end the war.

"More than on either of my earlier visits, I feel overwhelmed by the tragedy we have created—for Iraq, for its neighbors, for America’s image around the world, and for our troops,” Durbin said.
“I used to think this war was our worst foreign policy mistake in a generation. Now I think it is our worst foreign policy mistake ever,” he added.

He indicated that he would consider voting for the Defense appropriations bills but will not support the annual supplementals that are the major funding device for the Iraq war. Republican filibusters and vetoes will not change his position. (Chicago Trib)

This seems to be about the most we're going to get, there are obvious alternatives, like passing the Defense appropriations bill with strings and letting Bush veto it until he runs out of money. In point of fact they could easily do the same with the entire Executive branch starting with White House funding, yes, his "home." If the Congress proposes to push against power, they had best bring their own and be ready to exercise it. They already made the mistake of "bringing a knife to a gun fight" last time around and looked like, well, pretty much what they were. Unprepared and Unwilling.

The Democrats and a few Republicans in Congress must decide exactly what it is they wish to accomplish. Once they've decided that they need to buck up and get to it. This business of taking partial measures with little resolve will not accomplish anything in the face of the Executive branch power and Bush stubbornness. Bush is perfectly aware of how the situation stands, it does not take a real sharp fellow to see it, the question is why Congress didn't.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Doris Anderson Found - Alive

She's been found alive after two weeks in the wilds of Baker County, Jason Jacoby and Mike Ferguson of the Baker City Herald have the story. Baker County Deputy Travis Ash and and OSP Senior Trooper Chris Hawkins went back out to search on their day off and used good woodsman tactics to find her, the story by Chris Collins in the Herald details the rescue.

I know, respect, and like all these reporters so I'm only going to tease you into reading our local paper.

For those of you unfamiliar with our countryside, it is very rough, very high, and a very good place to not get lost in.

Hillary Clinton and The Club

Over at BlueOregon in comments I tried to make the point that there are things to look at in campaigns that have much more to do with what you're going to get than the resume. One thing I mentioned is "who" thinks they have something to gain from a candidate and one of the best measures of that is money. Let's take a look at some of Hillary's money.

#1 @ $293,400 is DLA Piper who provide global legal representation to business clients
#2 @ $160,500 is CitiBank and if you think it's just a bank...
#3 @ $138,953 is Emily's List a woman's issues PAC
#4 @ $134,960 is Skadden, Arps, et al a law firm specializing in mergers and acquisitions
#5 @ $134,050 is Goldman Sachs a big advocate of privatizing SS
#6 @ $116,575 is Cablevision Systems
#7 @ $116,550 is Kirkland and Ellis an international commercial law firm
#8 @ $113,700 is Morgan Stanley
#9@ $102,500 is Viacom
#10 @ $100,200 is Greenberg Taurig LLP specializing in lobbying and commercial law
#11 @ $98,100 is Time Warner
#12-20 ranging from low of $78K are mostly financial organizations and commercial law

So, who thinks they stand to reap benefits worth investments of $78K to almost $300K? How does that stack up with what your ears hear? Just exactly who is invisible and who is visible? These are the top 20 donors, totalling $2,286,288 which is something other than chickenfeed.

If you're curious about individual contributions you can go to Open Secrets to find who has donated and who they work for, starting at $9200 and moving down, 2 pages to get under $6900.

I know that most candidates have to go to PACs and businesses to get funding, but maybe there's some illumination here. You might want to remember that NAFTA was a Clinton deal (hey, she wants credit for First Lady & Bill) and that the common worker took that one in the shorts.

Agribusiness $305,350
Communications/Electronics $3,018,328
Construction $844,550
Defense $52,950
Energy & Natural Resources $383,800
Finance, Insurance & Real Estate $7,781,040
Health $1,663,317
Lawyers & Lobbyists $6,582,595
Transportation $263,497
Misc Business $5,184,947
Labor $44,850
Ideological/Single-Issue $415,173
Other $4,584,920

Suppose I get rid of the small change and un-categorized contributions

Communications/Electronics $3,018,328
Finance, Insurance & Real Estate $7,781,040
Health $1,663,317
Lawyers & Lobbyists $6,582,595
Misc Business $5,184,947

OK, I'm a Lefty Democrat, I admit it, my sympathies are with those who do the work to build this country and those who are left out of the economic system. I look at BushCo with vehement criticism on that basis, I know who has won and lost under their idea of an economy. Funny, most of the usual suspects show up right here on Hillary's list. You have strange ideas if you think these folks are funding their own losses and the loser's gain.

Maybe if you look at Hillary's vaunted experience and see who won under her votes...

Will I help her Primary campaign? No. Would I work for her campaign in a General Election? No. Would I stop criticizing her in a General? No. Would I vote for any of the Republicans? Not even if Hell froze over. So, yes I'd have to vote for the least horrid, gads - again??? Not if you back the people who speak to Democratic values and tell the truth about this dynastic endeavor. Which ever of the other candidates you like, not one of them is Hillary. Let's kill the media "inevitable candidate" buzz.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Some Recovery

After a truly discouraging spate of readership of 20's and low 30's (per sitemeter) for about a month, readership has climbed back to fairly reliable 60's and 70's. Some of you from places far far from small town NE OR checked in pretty regularly, astonishingly some regulars were from UK, Portugal, and Australia and perhaps as outre' NY,NY and Brooklyn, NY. My CA readership gained as others went and some credit goes to Fred, see Humboldt Blog link in side bar, for sending his pals. Guns have been a mainstay of readership, a consistent 20% come for those posts - I do hope some will wander out and see the rest...

Some titles are guaranteed to spike readership from search engines, "Iran" is good for that right now, "Larry Craig" got lots of looks, two reliable draws are "Ruger Bisley Vaquero .45 Colt" and "Remington Side by Side Hammered Stage Coach Shotgun" - sorry political readers, my best politico writings are trumped heavily by the odd gun articles. One day I suppose I ought to learn to write headlines with search engines in mind, but...I like my titles.

I'm glad to see readership up, there's little point in writing to myself on a blog, it takes too much time to tell myself what I already found...

Thanks for stopping in, I'll try to make it interesting

Not MY Commenting Rules...

I've had at least one conservative commenter crab that I was unfair when I asked for some toning down and then delete a comment that went (admittedly in my judgement) too far. Now why a conservative would read my lefty blog is odd to me, it certainly is a recipe for staying stirred up. Possibly they want to know what the animals are up to, I check in on Rush and Faux for the same reason. I don't really know what is up with that but I was accused of being unfair and like all liberals, hunting in a pack (I'm not sure what that means).

So, I give you Redstate's posting rules :

The posting rules for are as follows:
No profanity.
No personal attacks.
No harassment or demonization of a particular individual.
No disruptive behavior or off-topic remarks for their own sake.
The purpose of this site is promote conservative and Republican ideals. This is our home, and we ask you kindly not to track mud into it. Revocation of posting privileges (banning) will take place after a warning of behavior which violates the intent and spirit of these rules.
The proprietors of this site are the sole and final judges and enforcers of this policy. ..(there's more)

Now I discourage profanity and personal attacks, but really; how constipated is that stuff. If you want to dispute a post with me, ok, dispute it - but do that, not pointless "you liberals are all the same" stuff. There's at least a couple things wrong with that, I'm too left to be a liberal and then a good number of liberals think I'm gun and car crazy; which I'd say takes care of "same."

Sure, I'll admit I think impeachment is a waste of time, but I'd also like to see GWB and some of his cronies standing in Federal Court wearing orange jump suits and cuffs shortly after he leaves office. Yes, I do believe their are more remedies for their behavior than a symbolic and endlessly partisan impeachment. In fact I think January 20th 2009 would be a good time to have a "blogswarm" on that particular issue. Is that liberal???

So, really, if you think I'm just full of it; read something else, write your own blog, or come play. But if you come to play don't try the "X" did that or "Y" was worse, I wasn't talking about "X" or "Y", I was talking about "Z"; unless of course "Z" is running against "X" or "Y".

This blog has the comments feature turned on for a reason, and it's not so you can tell me I'm wonderful (I already know how wonderful I am), it's so you can put something new into the mix. Go ahead and do that.

Thanks for coming around

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Things in Iraq Are Better - Utter Nonsense

You absolutely have to enlarge this graph, I'm sorry I couldn't enlarge it.

I'd be ecstatic if things in Iraq were better, I may oppose this war but I want the troops doing well and being well. I care deeply how their lives fare, I understand wounds and death are a part of warfare - but lying to the US public is garbage. I took the time to put together this bar graph which contains total Iraq fatalities for each month. One month of one year, April of 2004 has exceed 2007 fatalities by month since the "Surge", January 2004 exceeded January 2007. You can track the ups and downs in a glance. The recent good news is mirrored in every month, it gets really hot in July and August and every year deaths go down.

I can stand a philosophical argument about this war, but outright lying makes me livid. There is a special place for these people if you're religious, it's called Hell and they can't get there too soon to disappoint me. I cannot in anything approaching polite language describe the disconnect between this graph and what we're being told.

Iran, What A Waste

One can probably thank international corporate interests for the mess that is today's Iran, them and some of the naturally avaricious native to that country. (If you're wondering why this, I'm getting Iranian hits - I like a balanced output-so, Tehran you won't like this one) One can only look at the history of that nation and shake one's head. Persia. The name resonates through history, conquerors, artists, scientists - and now?

The Shah of Iran, once America's "Friend," and militaristic oppressor of a nation, perhaps one of the modern disasters in the Middle East. What sort of government he ran at the time was it's own bad outcome, but worse was the reaction. A nation of intelligent forward thinking people turned "religious," and decided that it needed an enemy, a unifying force, a nice big enemy, and one obligingly stupid enough to ignore what the Shah was - the United States. There is no minimizing what the US got up to in Iran, but it also was scarcely "The Great Satan," but it was a handy scapegoat and a tool of fear and anger to cement a population under a theocracy that was entirely foreign many's natural inclination. Never misunderstand the depths of religious devotion common in that nation, the children of the Shah's elite prayed at the proper times and observed proper diet, but managed to avoid mania. But the Shah had to go and the truly organized resistance was theocratic, so that's how that went.

Iran devolved from a civil nation into a theocratic barbarism, finally pitting it's theocratic dictatorship against Saddam's secular dictatorship. Millions died. The US took satisfaction in aiding Saddam against the captors of its Embassy personnel, at least partly in the hope that an avowed foe's government would implode under the pressure, not looking for any nation to be winner, pleased by their mutually weakened states. As always, oil figured large. An outcome of that war was the destruction of most of a generation of Iranians, the creation of a huge sociological hole in the national fabric. Children raised by the Ayatollahs, fed on a diet of "The Great Satan," and religious fervor - that potent mixture of hate and fear and godliness. (hate is generally a fear induced state)

Fear and religion, feeding some of the most basic human emotions, used as a governing principle is incredibly effective in the short run, but in the long term doomed to failure. Fundamentalist religion is stifling of independent thought, and doubly so when backed by force of government. Questioning of orthodoxy becomes dangerous or fatal, and creativity is always questioning of the status quo, that is its definition. Fear wears thin, and when the threat is unrealized over time, that fear engendered anger remains and needs a target, a closer and more realizable target. Anger has become a nationally sanctioned emotional state, it is the supposed norm. It finds targets, the uncovered woman, the unreligious book, or, the repressor. It must begin to feed within, unless provided fresh targets. This is the stupidity of US threats, it simply provides fresh targets, a distraction from what ails the country.

Think on this, the per-capita income of Iran is abysmal, in an oil rich and resource rich nation, with a history of education and striving, the place is poor. So poor that it rations gasoline, so poor that much of the population lives a centuries old life style. There are no heathen nations raping Iran's resources, where are they going? Why is it necessary for a civilized ordered "religious" nation to have censorship, vigilantes, and other repressions? This "religious" people must be repressed to keep order, how is that needed? Would they not freely out of religious duty be good citizens? Evidently their government doesn't believe so. Evidently something is out of joint in Iran.

What happened to proud Persia? Reduced to meddling in other's misery, unable to raise their own citizenry's lifestyles into the modern world, so fearful of their own citizenry that not even a police force will suffice, extra-legal forces must be employed, so constipated in their out look that free thinking and speech are punishable offenses, pretty pathetic. A great nation brought so low, by its own.

Ahmadinejad and Bush should be pals, their world views are congruent and their puppet masters care little to nothing for the health and well-being of the common citizenry and finally their versions of gods prefer enemies to friends, fear to affection, and power to service. But, their vision of the world demands that they be foes, by definition of their idea of politics. Stupidity reigns...

The Letter

***From Pete Abel's project at Central Sanity, I'm not a Republican but I wish him well and those of you of his persuasion might join in. As a Democrat I believe that principled opposition is of paramount importance in political discourse and this could be a step in that direction. So, I give you:

The Letter

If you wish to add your name to the growing list of Republican and Independent voters who have already agreed to sign this letter, please email me at abel.reply"AT" "Signatures" should include your first and last name, e-mail address, city and state. Also, please let us know if we should list you as a Republican or Independent.

Once we have a minimum of 30 to 50 signatures, we will distribute the letter to the general recipients noted below.

TO: RNC Leaders, GOP Members of the U.S. House & Senate, GOP Governors

We, the undersigned, are moderate Republican and Independent voters who represent a growing force within the electorate.

Republican candidates will need to increasingly reckon with us in the months and years ahead, as we mobilize for no purpose less dramatic than the rescue of this Party and the refocusing of its platform on the bedrock principles of individual liberty and limited government; lower taxes and free markets; a strong national defense and collaborative foreign policy.

We intend this letter as an encouragement to GOP leaders who (a) embrace the principles outlined above; (b) recognize that the narrow-minded strategies of certain social conservatives have made the Party a shadow of its former self; (c) reject these social conservatives' alienating approach; and (d) prefer what former U.S. Senator John Danforth has labeled a politics of "reconciliation," a politics wherein we seek to emphasize what unites rather than what divides us. If you fit in this category, we encourage you to speak up and boldly state your beliefs, without equivocation. And if certain social conservatives attack you for doing so, we – the real base – will be there to lend our support.

We believe the wise use of taxpayer dollars requires our government to avoid deficits and the enormous and unnecessary burden those deficits will place on future generations.

We believe in personal responsibility, self-reliance, capitalism, and the power of markets – markets that are allowed to operate with the least possible degree of regulation that is necessary to safeguard fair play and equal opportunity.

We believe in prudent actions that advance our national security, grounded in a foreign policy that, quoting former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, is "premised on the understanding that the rest of the world matters to us," and that thus we should guard "against becoming ensnared in nation-building enterprises and push for policies that engage us with the world community and show, in the words of the Declaration of Independence, 'a decent respect to the opinions of mankind.'"

We believe in the U.S. Constitution, its checks and balances, and importantly, the protections it affords our citizens such as habeas corpus. We further believe habeas corpus and other fundamental cornerstones of our Republic should be carefully guarded and delicately balanced during both times of peace and times of war, especially during extended, complex, and largely open-ended conflicts like today's war on terror.

We believe in maximizing personal liberty and minimizing government interference in our private lives, including the lives of pregnant women, terminally ill patients, gays, lesbians, and all other categories of responsible, law-abiding adults. Again quoting Governor Whitman: "The defining feature of the conservative viewpoint is a faith in the ability, and a respect for the right, of individuals to make their own decisions – economic, social, and spiritual – about their lives. The true conservative understands that government's track record in respecting individual rights is poor when it dictates individual choices. Accordingly, the conservative desires to limit government's reach as much as possible. Traditional conservatives adhere to the maxim, often attributed to Thomas Jefferson, that government governs best that governs least."

We further believe that the truest pro-life position is one which allows and encourages the ethical pursuit of all scientific research that holds promise for mitigating diseases that afflict our families and friends.

We believe the education of our young people is critical to our future as a nation and that realistic, fiscally conservative policies should be developed to further advance educational standards, opportunities, and access, from the lowest grades to the highest, from kindergarten through college.

We believe in reasonable policies that will advance the health of our citizens, with an emphasis on children, seniors, and others who are truly in need and cannot otherwise afford health care.

We also believe in reasonable policies that will advance the health of our environment, with careful attention paid to protecting our economic vitality and objective analyses of the pro's and con's of alternative energy sources.

In summary, we embrace what management guru Jim Collins – in his bestselling book Built to Last – called the "Genius of the AND." We believe the GOP and its members can and should be simultaneously pro-choice and pro-life; pro-environment and pro-economy; pro-family and pro-liberty; pro-budget and pro-opportunity; pro-security and pro-Constitution. These beliefs need not be contradictory nor exclusive.

If you are and/or know an incumbent or prospective Republican candidate who shares these beliefs and wants the larger GOP to stand united behind him or her, we encourage you to let us know, so we can add you and/or those you know to the roster of leaders we will support with our votes, voices, volunteers, and dollars.

***If you'd like to comment here, that's acceptable, but if you wish to help out - do so over There ***

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Iran Shelling Iraq?

This certainly doesn't seem like a good way to make friends. Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq's Foreign Minister, demanded Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stop shelling northern Iraq. Over 3000 Kuridsh villagers have been driven out of their home and their fields and orchards set on fire.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehor Mottaki claimed to Zebari that it was in response to across border raids by Pezak, an Iranian Kurdish group opposed to Tehran. The bombardment has continued sporadically for the past couple weeks and a Pezak spokesman stated that the shelling was nowhere near their area of activity. Senior Iraqi officials suspect Iran may be shelling in response to US insistence that Iran cease supplying militias.

I suppose it is the norm that the poor and innocent suffer in these types of struggles.

Iran and BushCo

Ray McGovern , former CIA analyst, believes that BushCo is priming the pump for war with Iran. I have to agree with him that the rhetoric has become hot and the media spin machine is winding up but there are a couple realities that even Dick and George would have to face, we're seriously bogged down in Iraq and the troops are seriously stretched. We certainly do have naval and air assets available, but in a matter of "conquest" those assets won't do the job.

Iran is 1.7 million sq K, or 3 times the size of France, it is not a little place and it is not all conducive to military movements. Iran is not a recent "colonial" construct, it is a nation of long history and cultural consistency. Persia - Iran - has been around and an empirical player for much of recorded history, this is not a country that would dissolve in the face of military attack. This is particularly true concerning the US which the populace has been raised from childhood to regard as "the Great Satan." None of this is exactly secret information and certainly is well known to the military.

McGovern postulates that the most likely course is air strikes against training camps and widening to the nuclear facilities. There is some reason to think that there would be a reaction to such a thing, and Iran is not without international assets of the nasty sort. I cannot think how an attack on Iran would make the USA a safer place nor act to calm the Middle East.

None of what I have written suggests that in the face of US troops on the ground in Iraq that Iran should be allowed a free hand to take part in attacks on them. It is a different thing to close a border and turn the Iraqi side into a free fire zone, which would be tough on the folks who live and trade nearby, but it also respects the sovereignty of Iran. The Iranian President plays a dangerous rhetorical game, but he is little more than a figure head for the Ayotollas who are apparently a bit more pragmatic. Iran has problems, very real economic problems as well as some social problems regarding repressive theocracy. If the border were closed and seriously enforced the Ayotollas might keep things from spiralling out of control.

It is possible that BushCo is working on scaring the Ayotollas into reining in the Kuds force, I'm not sure that idea would work. The back up for the threats is pretty thin and there is little chance of arousing the populace's discontent with airstrikes. Doing something half-way would almost certainly cement popular opinion with the government.

For a Party that gives great lip service to the long term view, this bunch sure seems enamoured of quick fixes. A modern country is more difficult to repress and open to extra-military action.

McGovern wants us to not just let this thing go, and I agree, having lost confidence in this administration's ability to avoid stupidity, he closes with,

There is very little time to exercise our rights as citizens and stop this madness. At a similarly critical juncture, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was typically direct. I find his words a challenge to us today:
There is such a thing as being too late. ... Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with lost opportunity. ... Over the bleached bones of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: 'Too late.'