Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Noun, A Verb, And Nine Eleven

Sure, I just poached Joe Biden's line about the least qualified candidate for President other than George Bush from MSNBC's Democratic Debate. Could I pick a winner? Nope. It was not Hillary's night, for sure. While Edwards has been after her for some time, Obama came out with some swings and though nobody hit any home runs off her, she was a bit more dinged up than usual. What may have happened is the aura of invincibility may have been pierced, what that does to the inevitable candidacy is an open question.

I always enjoy Dennis Kucinich, he managed to mention the Constitution about five times, too bad about that inconvenient Second Amendment part of it. Whatever opinion you might have of his politics, at least you know where he stands. If you're a Democrat and the words - not for profit single payer health care - don't speak to you, well... Of course Dennis risks little but he brings to the discourse some of the actual progressive issues.

If I learned anything of note from watching the debate it is that Hillary doesn't like to answer questions she doesn't want to answer and gets a little ticked off when caught out at it. Oh yeah, Dennis did see a UFO...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Legal Beagal Fred Thompson - Snoopy Style Maybe

He was "attacking crime and public corruption" according to his new campaign advertisement, evidently you're to think 'Law and Order' rather than a politically connected neophyte lawyer prosecuting low level Federal crimes. Moonshine, an escaped bank robber, and two sheriffs accused of complicity in moonshining, and a couple counterfeiters doesn't quite qualify as "prosecuting most of the major federal crimes in middle Tennessee -- most of the major ones." But one has to expect a little, um, spin. Kind of like a red pickup used only for campaign events to demonstrate 'plain folks' connection.

Fraud in the pursuit of higher office has become a norm, we wonder why voters and non-voters seem so disconnected from the process. Acting on TV as a tough DA is quite possibly a recommendation for an acting job but has little to do with being President other than making a speeches. Being normal appearing during the reading of a teleprompter is moderately useful, but compared to deciding whether to quit reading about a goat during an emergency is a different thing - life can get stressful at the top. There is no script written out for Presidents - excepting perhaps George II - it is not a screenplay with a predetermined end, it is uncomfortably real. I don't much care for the politics of most of that bunch, but it is a near tie between Mitt and Fred for biggest perpetration of fraud. Wouldn't you think George W Bush would've taught these people something?

BAE Corrupts, McConnell Earmarks

BAE, a British military contractor, is under investigation by the Justice Department and in trouble in Britain so it would seem only right that Senate Minority Leader McConnell would earmark $25 million for them. It probably helps do the right thing when the company donates $500,000 to the McConnell Center at U. of Louisville and contributes $53,000 to his campaign since his 2002 re-election. Just to connect the dots, BAE is under investigation for bribery in Suadi Arabia, apparently the Arabs just aren't as sophisticated as Republican Senators.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


things have been crazy and I'm exhausted. I'll get back on the stick Thursday evening/

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Immunity, Democrats? $46 Billion, Democrats?

I have nothing responsible to say tonight, other than - well that would be rude - so I have nothing to say.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Values Voter Summit Vote Cheating ?

Ahahahahaha, you've got to love it, the Republicans are accusing the Republicans of vote fraud and at, no less, the Values Voter Summit. Get this, there were 5775 votes cast, and despite the summit thing being this last weekend, people who donated a bit could vote online (so much for the value of speechifying) any time between August and Saturday. Mitt just edged out Huckabee despite Huckabee taking 51% of the in person vote versus Mitt's 10%.

Now I can't think of any reason the participants might think there was room for chicanery. You don't suppose any of these hambones have watched news over the last 6 years? They ought to give a call to the DOJ's Voter's Rights Dept, those folks would fall all over themselves - laughing as they ran as fast as they could, there weren't any black faux felons or liberal activists involved. These people play politics as dirty as it can be played without going to jail (sure, sure) and then they get all het up when it goes just exactly the way they do it.

I'll admit it, I feel kind of sorry for Mike Huckabee, he's a decent sort of theocrat, but that's his problem, he's decent sort, and he's playing with the Mitt. You can't blame the way Mitt is on Mormonism, I know a bunch of real upstanding kind people who are Mormons, nope, I think maybe the greed and plutocratic thinking of his business ventures just sort of aggravated a natural character defect. So far in his career he's managed to hold just about every politically useful policy possible what ever contradictions involved. I wouldn't buy a used vacuum cleaner from that guy.

It is just too apropos for these folks to fall into the corruption swamp of their Party's making to feel very bad for any of them. It might be of real benefit to the Republican Party to find out just how nasty the Republican Party has become. Don't hold your breath...

Vitter Is A Funny Kinda Guy

Sen David Vitter (R-LA) got himself caught up in a prostitution mess earlier this year, a somewhat worldly sort of thing for the guy who earmarked $100,000 for the Tony Perkins founded Louisiana Family Forum to boost Creationism in science classes. I suppose that if Fred Flinstone can ride dinosaurs then Dave Vitter can be an upright Christian sorta guy. Since Mrs Vitter backed off her Bobbit idea he seems to be healthy enough to hand out some serious stupidity,

"The project, which would develop a plan to promote better science-based education in Ouachita Parish by Louisiana Family Forum, has raised concerns among some that its intention was to mandate and push creationism within the public schools," Vitter said. "That is clearly not and never was the intent of the project, nor would it have been its effect."
Nah, no such intent or effect - The Times-Picayune notes:

The Louisiana Family Forum has been at the forefront of challenging Darwinian evolution. One paper on its Web site is titled "The Evolution Backlash: Debunking Darwin" and another is "Survival of the Fakest."

The group also has challenged biology textbooks used in public schools in Louisiana and on its Web site posts a 17-page "evolution addendum" in which Charles Voss Jr. raises questions about scientific theories including the formation of fossils, the emergence of living organisms through chemical reactions and evolution by means of mutations.
After being caught out by a consortium of 30 groups including Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Anti-Defamation League, American Association of School Administrators, and National Center for Science Education who sent a letter to every Senator opposing the earmark he stated that he wanted "to avoid more hysterics" to move it to science and computer labs in the Ouachita Parish schools.

I wonder about hysterics, I wonder about this guy, he's the one who the same religious bunch have said should not be compared to Sen Larry Craig who seems to be annoying them to no end. I guess you have to be a Republican to understand this stuff.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Anti-war Republicans Get To Pay

If you were a Republican Congressman who failed to back the Iraq war or opposed it, the Party is making sure there's a price to be paid. So there is a clear understanding of what these folks have done the results of a recent CBS poll show this: 58% of Republicans approve of BushCo's handling of the war, 20% of Independents and 5% of Democrats see it the same way. Those numbers bode ill for an anti-war Republican in a Primary fight, the General Election might be an entirely different story; but it sure is important to save America from whatever this week's Iraqi evil is.

Rep Walter B Jones Jr (R-NC) is one, Joe McLaughlin, county commissioner and retired Army major, is pushing hard. In Jones' 6 terms he's never had a primary opponent and is now being deserted by GOP officials all across the district while McLaughlin has this to say,

"His is a message of despair, a message of defeat," McLaughlin told the appreciative crowd as he derided Jones, accusing him of abandoning the troops, President Bush, even talk-show host Rush Limbaugh. Per LA Times.
Jones has taken on the task of writing letters to the families of every service member killed in Iraq to honor their service. A constituent who disagrees with Jones on the war plans to vote for him stating that for some it's just a job but for Jones it is a service. It is shaping up to be a tough primary for Jones, who stated his view on the matter thus:
"The Kool-Aid drinkers, those who don't know the truth, who only hear the half-truths and the opinions of a Rush Limbaugh, they believe it. But I know too many" voters. When my days end in Congress, I would rather be able to say I did what was right for America, rather than my party did this, my party did that."
It's been pointed out to me that I'm pretty rough on Republicans, OK, I surely do loath some of them, but while there might be plenty of points of disagreement between myself and Rep Jones, I do respect him.

It isn't only lowly Representatives who've gotten in trouble with the Party faithful, Sen Chuck Hagel (R-NE) watched primary opponent Atty Gen Jon Bruning's lead jump from 9 to 24 percent when voters were told of Hagel's criticism of George II and support for the Democratic withdrawal plan. Hagel no longer intends to run.

Rep Ric Keller (R-FL) is a "white flag Republican" for opposing the troop surge and faces two primary opponents. Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD), a Vietnam vet who joined Democrats in pull out votes, faces a well funded primary opponent who has the support of many GOP officials including former Gov Robt. L Erlich.

If you've wondered why GOP Congressmen have defied national sentiment on the Iraq war, these folks are examples. What ever the General Elections might hold, they have to get past Primaries to have a doesn't look like some of them will. Before Democrats begin to crow about seat pick ups it would be smart to recognize that these people represent the principled opposition, reasonable people to deal with and their replacements in hard (R) districts will be something else entirely. It must suck to be a Republican.

Party Here, Sacrifice Over There

is the title of a NYT Op-Ed by Will Bardenwerper who got to Iraq January '06, I'll quote one short passage, you go there to read it, it deserves reading:

Serious problems with the war in Iraq are well chronicled, but I am struck by one that does not seem to trouble the country’s leadership, even though it is profoundly corrosive to our common good: the disparity between the lives of the few who are fighting and being killed, and the many who have been asked for nothing more than to continue shopping.
He asks some questions that need answering, I don't think they'll get answered until more of us ask them, whether vets or otherwise.

Money, Politics, Voters

I've said this stuff before, the courts and voters keep agreeing with me, as much as I don't like it, so I'll say it once again - emphatically. "Money as free speech" is not going to go away, the courts aren't going to rule against it, the voters have shown little enthusiasm for it, and it really isn't all that bad an idea. The part that stinks is who seems to own the playing field - Big Money, usually corporations.

It has always cost money to campaign, no there was no television in 1790, but there also was a completely primitive transportation system and widely spread population. They reached their audience through surrogates, just like today, and it cost significant amounts of money. The politicians made do, they collected money and spent it. And yes, big money existed at the time and it was in play. Money is the currency of availability to the voter. You fly in the face of that at the risk of making very poor decisions and forcing more end-runs by office seekers.

Money is not a polluter of the system, the pollution comes from the one-sidedness of sourcing. Large corporations have an incentive to cough up some money to help assure a larger return, and they would be crazy not to. But there is no reason that the tilt has to be so strongly in their favor, they have to answer to shareholders for their expenses and returns, the shareholders in the election process need to step up and invest in their own futures. Those people would be us, you know us, U.S., the voters that get ignored. The second you stop to think about the sheer numbers of voters and then multiply that number by $25 you have some actual cash. There is one problem.

Voters are disillusioned, it is tough enough just to get them to turn out to vote (my vote doesn't count, anyhow) much less get them to cough up some cash (the big boys just buy them). The very biggest problem in this scenario is the opponents of Big Money trying to pass laws, the route to passing those laws is to tell people that they cannot compete. Listen to the contradiction in that argument, you sell the idea of failure on the basis of that failure and pretend that you are educating the voters when what you actually are doing is propagandizing them into the belief that there is no point in doing what you bemoan. I don't doubt the good intentions of most proponents, but having the government finance elections strikes me as a recipe for a whole lot of BushCo behavior. Do you really want the minions of George II making financing decisions about campaigns?

No, I surely do not and I also do not see it as a solution to sell the voter on the idea that he is helpless and needs saving. The voter can afford to spend the price of a 12 pack on a campaign. The voter is not helpless in the face of corporate largess, all the voter has to do is make it prohibitively expensive for them to buy elections. Sure, you read this blog and feel pretty politically active, and you are at the very least more interested than the average citizen, then contribute to your favorite. Write letters, write blogs, spend a couple nickles, and talk to your disinterested friends. You actually have a good argument for that mindset of failure, and it can be meaningful, it can make a difference. It's time to stop whining and take it back, just that, TAKE it back, don't ask, don't whine, just goddam do it.

There are some contribution links on the side bar, every campaign has them on their site, do something.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Ex-Guantanamo Prosecutor Speaks Out

Awhile ago I noted that the Pentagon stated that lead Guantanamo prosecutor Davis' resignation would have no effect on the trials. It seems it will. The Pentagon will get to run the trials the way BushCo would like them run - screw a fair trial as long as they can make someone think they are. Davis didn't think that way.

"There was a big concern that the election of 2008 is coming up," Davis said. "People wanted to get the cases going. There was a rush to get high-interest cases into court at the expense of openness." quoted in WaPo.

Don't get the idea that Davis is a civil libertarian opposing the whole idea, he believes the military commissions could go forward as a legitimate method of trying the alleged terrorists. What he was not comfortable with was two fold, the commission chief Hartmann having free access to prosecutorial functions and the use of classified evidence - in secret would taint the trials.

Not surprisingly the Pentagon through spokesman J D Gordon takes a different view,

"We are working closely with our interagency counterparts to ensure that prosecutions by military commission result in fair and open trials while at the same time protecting sensitive information that, if revealed, could be damaging to U.S. and allied forces still conducting combat operations against al-Qaeda and their supporters."

The expression, "Oh sure," occurs to me. Apparently it occured Col. Davis as well,

Hartmann arrived as legal adviser to the convening authority last summer, and suddenly, Davis said during a lengthy interview, his office was inundated with what he called "nano-management," including requests to oversee cases that had previously been left solely to prosecutors.

Part of the new focus, Davis said, was to speed up cases that would show the public the system was working. Davis said he wanted to focus on cases that had declassified evidence, so the public could see the entire trial through news coverage. That would defuse possible allegations that the trials were stacked against defendants.

But Hartmann said he was satisfied with putting on cases that included closed sessions, because the law allows it.

"He said, the way we were going to validate the system was by getting convictions and good sentences," Davis said. "I felt I was being pressured to do something less than full, fair and open."
Maybe that's the money quote. Maybe you wouldn't find that an attractive court venue to be in. BushCo and justice in the same sentence is a contradiction in terms.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Pete Stark Gets Blunt, Republicans Howl

Pete Stark has represented the San Francisco East Bay area for 18 terms, he's seen a bit and isn't always real calm in his responses to what he sees. He was pretty unhappy about the SCHIP vote, and took some floor time to express that.

"You don't have money to fund the war or children, but you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the President's amusement."

It seems he's had it with BushCo's war and sticking the public. Naturally the Republicans blew a gasket and trotted out their bigest blown gasket, John Boehner.

"Congressman Stark's statement dishonors not only the commander in chief, but the thousands of courageous men and women of America's armed forces who believe in their mission and are putting their lives on the line for our freedom and security." He also demanded a retraction.

What he got instead was an expression of support for the troops and called out for, "chicken hawks in Congress who vote to deny children health care."

I get pretty tired of people calling Democrats in Congress "spineless" and other terms of cowardice, I've call out some of them by name and district - they had it coming - but that is a different thing than blanket criticism. Pete Stark is on the record on the floor and Republicans don't like it. More, please...

Ballot Confusion or Obfuscation

For another view from another friend. My publishing does not imply anything other than an interest and a desire for discussion

By Doug Troutman

Cattlemen who pay $1.35 for a cow and calf to graze a month on public land support privatization so they pay a private land owner around $11 for the cow PLUS $11 for the calf? As we run out of crop lands, that are converted to condos, it is time to ask, "Where will our food/fiber come from?" Right; China!
Building houses in forest lands is leading to outrageous increases in firefighting costs, and loss of habitat for wildlife, so where is the benefit to hunters?

Measure 37 was a greedy measure by developers, not individuals, to devastate productive forest and farmlands for a quick buck. Measure 49 reduces the damage from Measure 37 that does NOT do what voters were told, OR protect air, water, and future critical land use.
Measure 50 will ACTUALLY make tobacco users pay for implementing "Senate Bill 3", a long document that; while it DOES provide some health care, also contains some VERY "interesting" details. I support health care for all, but a counter-intuitive measure intended to STOP the very revenue source supporting the program? Duh!

We should ALSO be taxing alcohol, sodas, and greasy burgers that make people obese, a far more deadly and increasing health risk than tobacco. We could also ban cell phone use by drivers running over kids in crosswalks, but since when have the voters REALLY put initiatives on an Oregon ballot that represent forethought??

Ignore ALL the ads! READ the measures and the documentation of what they REALLY do!

The New Nez Perce

I was conflicted about posting this article, I do agree with certain elements and disagree with others. I've decided to post this to stimulate thinking.

by Steve Culley

Tonight )ct 25th, 2007, right here in Baker City you will be invited to attend Thousand Friends of Oregon Envision Oregon at the Geiser Grand. I think it would be a good time to ask them what their vision really is. My vision of their vision is one in which at least 98 percent of the population will be forced to live behind an urban growth boundary. No country living for rednecks anymore. We can build up, not out, not sprawl and as the population from an insane immigration policy expands we can build even higher. The land will be covered with Pinot Noir vineyards with wolves in them. Apartment and condo living for all except the very rich, usually imports from large urban areas forced out by expanding populations. And those new comers are flush with dollars. After all that’s where the money is, in the big cities. A yuppie society of royal castles on the hill and redneck serf hooches in the ville. Fifteenth century Europe will be back in force.

During the last 3 decades or so of land use planning in Oregon, while we saved the open space, forests and farm land there was one class of people who were ignored. I like to refer to them as the New Nez Perce. They are the ones who have always been country folk, many tracing their tenure in rural Oregon back to wagon train days. At one time they could aspire to owning a few productive acres where they might raise a beef or two, a large garden or even have a horse for the kids and grand kids. A place where they didn’t feel crowded and might even see the night sky away from the city lights. But one of those imports from Massachusetts , Tom McCall, had a vision and enough media exposure to get his vision implemented. Oregon, the only state to do so, instituted state wide land use planning and the urban elite got their way the natives got the shaft. It’s democracy at it’s best.

The cites where the population is imposed their will on the rest of us and were able to maintain their tyranny of the majority right up until measure 7 in 2000 when a revolt happened. But a good counter attack through use of the I-5 judges threw it out. The people came back with measure 37 and Thousand Friends tried the same judges tactic but amazingly lost. Now they are back with 49. They aren’t pulling any punches. They got the Big Look canned by the democrats in the legislature and contrary testimony to their vision is down the tube for the time being. The Oregonian furnishes free publicity for their point of view and most editors of newspapers fall into line. The people ignored them on measure 7 and 37 and hopefully will on 49. A no vote is called for if Oregon’s elite planners and zoners are ever going to be brought under control.

Some years back I followed what is now known as the Nee Mee Poo Trail, the route Chief Joseph and his Nez Perce took on their flight to Canada and stood on the very place where he surrendered . It’s really a sad place. People who had lived in area for a very long time were simply brushed aside by those who had another vision of the land. Their cries for justice were ignored simply because they were few. The same thing happened in Oregon. Urban Oregon thought they would like to save it for their use, an occasional drive through while looking at the open space. Never mind the 52 percent of Oregon is federal or state and can never be touched. It was the private land they wanted and they got it cheap, by zoning. No reason to pay for it. If we don’t own it we can zone it was a much better deal.

So a rural culture died for the vision of an elite just like the Nez Perce were brushed aside while crying for justice. The new Nez Perce will go the same way. At least Joseph took a few scalps before he left. I would hope for the same for Oregon. It will be hard to combat the machine that is pushing 49 and they will probably prevail but I hope that the people will come back with an initiative that kills state wide land use planning out right and return authority to the counties where it properly belongs.

Craig Watson's Nova

"This was from my (Craig Watson) first pass last weekend, I had to pedal it back down to keep it off the bumper and it went through the traps at 5.81@121.4"
A little info for those out of this particular loop, this is a 1/8 mile run and it is on 8.5 inch tires. Craig is from Kentucky and a correspondent of mine from a Nova listserve. I've watched this car move through many iterations and recovery from a meeting with a wall. No, you're not going to go for groceries with this particular automobile, but in a quarter mile you'd be in the upper 8 second range at 150+ mile per hour.
Thought I'd better live up to my statement that fast cars get in this blog ...
I have another correspondent - Dat - who needs to send me a picture for publication, you there?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

FISA and Chris Dodd


It's been a busy day, but I wanted take a moment and let you know that I have decided to place a "hold" on legislation in the Senate that includes amnesty for telecommunications companies that enabled the President's assault on the Constitution by providing personal information on their customers without judicial authorization.

I said that I would do everything I could to stop this bill from passing, and I have.

It's about delivering results -- and as I've said before, the FIRST thing I will do after being sworn into office is restore the Constitution.

But we shouldn't have to wait until then to prevent the further erosion of our country's most treasured document.

That's why I am stopping this bill today.

I've gotta run, but please visit my campaign website for more details.


I congratulated Sen Dodd for standing up, I was furious when I read the Senate was once again going to knuckle under to the knuckle head from Texass. There is not a single justification for handing out retroactive immunity to the craven telecoms who handed out personal information at the drop of the government's hat when at least one - Qwest - refused to and followed at the least the spirit of the law and their compact with their customers.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bush Relevance

With 14 months left as an Administration polling 24% George II asserted his relevance. Now, he has a certain point, he can veto, he can shred the Constitution a bit more, he can drop bombs on some other country, he can declare some more citizens enemy combatant and disappear them. He can keep troops in Iraq until the military is broken and engage in more falsehoods, so yes, he is indeed relevant.

Except in any reasoned discourse regarding this nation's domestic and international conduct with its own citizens. He flatly states that Democrats are not doing Congressional work, seemingly ignorant of Republican filibusters and his own vetoes. New Orleans is still a wreck, the bottom half of the income scale is sliding toward disaster (never mind SCHIP), and for some reason some telecoms require retroactive immunity to ensure national security, when a major one refused to break their customers confidence. Somehow it is now relevant to prevent World War Three by tossing threats at Iran and ticking off Russia while talking to North Korea. Now faced with a dilemma of worst threats to global peace, I think I'd choose a sawed off lunatic from N Korea over a two bit theocratic thug front man for ayatollahs. Maybe religion does play into BushCo politics.

If the President of the United States was truly relevant to a national dialogue all the Republican primary candidates would be dragging him out into the limelight. The BushCo would be front and center, the Republican way would be the entire point. It would be, "Our President stands for..." until your ears bled and instead the silence is deafening.

Yes, George II is relevant, as an obstructionist, a war monger, a fear monger, and as a symptom of the blow back to power grabs. We'll probably be having a dialogue about the fallout from this toxic administration for decades to come - and I've been sick of hearing about him for over six years already.

"Chuck for" Published?!

Hey, I know I'm just a little blog scribbler, with some loyal readers from Oregon, some scattered around the nation, and a handful of internationals, so it always surprises me to find myself linked to by some one of the big guys in an article, BlueOregon today (thanks),TRex on FiredogLake last week, and Jon Swift the week before, and that does up my readership numbers. That is appreciated, but big readership numbers aren't an ego thing with me (fortunately, since I don't have them) but some recognition also helps keep away a feeling that this is just an exercise in ego - talking to hear myself talk.

I check the sitemeter for details when I have some time, I like to know where my readers live and what interests them. Imagine my surprise to find someone linking in from Reuters, so I went there to see what was up, well, knock me down with a feather, I was up. Published on
Reuters. That made me really curious, so I checked Blogburst to see where I'd been published.
Starting 8/14/07 Reuters had me up 7 times and USA Today once. That answered a couple questions I'd had, like why I was getting title specific hits without searches and why my readership had suddenly grown and grown more international.

I appreciate the attention, I try to do a good job of writing for our amusement and edification (I learn by finding things to write about and by taking them apart) and it is important to note that much of the reason I do this is because people I respect like some of my stuff. And the loyal band that keeps coming around counts.

Thanks for stopping by

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Out Behind Pine Creek

***Left click for full sized pictures***

Out behind Pine Creek Reservoir is some really pretty country, but...

this is no place to take your car, or your boulevard cruiser, you'll need tough tires and something with four wheel drive. Going up can be a chore, there are a lot of rocks, well, since the runoff has taken care of the dirt in places, all rocks, but coming down you may find that a manual transmission is called for. If you were to find yourself needing to put on the brakes, you'd also find yourself needing something else to stop you, kind of like ball bearings under the tires.
The K5 in the picture is stopped where it could stop, you see the roof even though the photographer is standing in a hole. This is actually one of the better pieces of grade, it is a spot where it could stay stopped. Down hilling was accomplished with the transfer case in 4 low in granny 1st gear - top speed in that configuration is about 10 miles per hour at 5500 rpm, at idle as it was in some of the downgrades you could pass it crawling on your hands and knees. No, there is no cell service. The picture would be a bit more impressive shot from the side, that, however, would involve someplace to stand at the side.
The two track road in here is about 10 minutes from my house, that has nothing to with getting here, but it is why I love living out here. I know all about shopping opportunity short falls and having to travel a minimum of 150 miles to see a concert with a big name band and having one movie theatre, I trade all that for this.

Ruger No.1 45-70 Govt Peep Sight

This rifle will fire a 500 grain bullet at 1900 feet per second and possibly more, I have no intention of putting my face behind a scope. So:

***Left click for full size picture***

This is a New England Custom Gun Service, Ltd #N-100 peep sight for Ruger No.1 and M77. The sight is a receiver mount adjustable peep sight with two apertures, 0.093 inch and 0.125 inch. The sight mounts to the rear scope mount point machining with two knurled knobs driving crescent moon dadoes into the machined rear scope sight mounts. There is a depression machined in the top of the scope mount point into which another dado inserts for positive locating. Windage is adjusted using the two knobs, the right has a hex head lock screw. Elevation is adjusted with a slotted screw in the top of the sight, loosening the aperture frees the screw.

The sight is robust in construction and pretty much idiot proof. It will certainly withstand the significant recoil of this rifle and looks to be capable of the insults available during hunting. The machining is precise, it takes care to align all the mating surfaces, it simply will not go together if everything is not precisely mated. I used the Ruger back-up leaf sight to set windage and elevation during install, it looks as though with elevation bottomed out the front sight will center at around 150 yds. NECG notes in its advertisement that all Rugers shoot differently and the front sight may need replacing - they also supply those.

The Ruger flip up leaf sight might be adequate in case of scope failure but they certainly are not useful as a dedicated sight. There are quite a few calibers available in Ruger #1 that would not make a scope an iffy proposition, but two things are in operation here, recoil and the amount of drop at the speeds these rounds can be fired at.

You will find NECG here. For more on Ruger NO.1 45-70 see this.

Hot rodded loads

Sunday, October 14, 2007

BushCo Misjudges Putin

McClatchy ran a story about the steadily worsening relations between Russia and the US. Back in 2001 George II looked into Putins eyes and saw his soul. At the time I wondered about that sort of reasoning, nothing in Putin's background created such an impression on me as his eyes did George. If the Secret Service were to actually allow such a thing and George got to look into my eyes he'd read anger and disgust, but then, I'm not a KGB case officer. In the grand scheme of things looking into my eyes would probably have a less detrimental effect on world affairs. Now given the man's background I would expect a couple of things, nationalism, authoritarianism, a distrust of the West, and an ability to dissemble.

Given nationalism, a KGB officer for pete's sake, and the position of head of state I would expect that not only would the security concerns of Russia come foremost, but also its perception as a powerful state. Couple that with a distrust of the West, we are talking about the KGB, I'd think it was a particularly stupid idea to poke a stick at the bear. The stick being anti-missile missiles near their border, that stick being a particular stupid poking mechanism since it isn't even proven technology. I don't think it is exactly far fetched thinking to see a nation that was an empire a short while ago as rather sensitive to developments within its former colonies, particularly developments fostered by its previous 'enemy' and biggest competitor for global influence. Here's the really scary part, Condi is supposed to be an expert on Russia. Former NSA head and now Sec State couldn't see this coming - Putin doesn't like the anti-missile missile idea, not at all, and he's hot. (for public consumption)

BushCo has had some idea that Russia could be useful, and it probably could - given that its interests coincided with ours -but unless those interests were very compelling, security and nationalism are going to trump. That the influential neo-cons in the Admin didn't apply their rationales to Russia's agendas is astonishing, it seems they only applied to US interests. I'm beginning to run out of a supply of disgust for these people's ability to project their wishful thinking onto reality. They were going to be "creating reality" while the rest of us were stuck on what's actually there and the word for that kind of thinking is wishful.

I may be slightly blinded by my complete disrespect for these people so I'll ask this, "what exactly have they done that worked out?"

Now they can scarcely be blamed for Russia being Russian, but they certainly might have paid attention to that fact. I won't go into the Iraq, flowers, and oil paying for it thing; beyond, "Really?" "Heck of a job" still looks like an entire mess. I wouldn't go asking anybody below upper middle class how this economy is working out. South America seems to be brimming over with pals of the US. OK, the rich have gotten a lot richer and their corporate cronies are raking it in, but I don't remember that as "public" policy.

These people are making us less secure - economically, militarily, and politically and it is starting to reach the point of dangerous. If Iran is supposed to be such a big threat then why is it that we are poking the outside government with the most influence. Another fourteen months of this may be a stretch.

Political Allies * A Re-Post

In the process of moving a politically contentious project through the Democratic Party Of Oregon I learned some things about political alignments, I had further lessons as a candidate in the Democratic Primary for 2nd CD. What I learned is that there are essentially 4 categories of alignment: Friends, Allies, Opponents, Enemies.

We all should know what Friends are, they're close to you and hold to you and support you. You take good care of your friends.

Allies are a little different, they're with you for their reasons. Allies need to be respected, but it also is important to remember that their reasons may not have a lot to do with your reasons. It may require a certain amount of distance or it may require some stroking. An ally may be strong or they may be weak, their motivations may be yours or they may be entirely different. You need to keep an ally close, but you may also have to keep a very sharp eye on him. It is quite possible, for example, for a very left Democrat to have a very Conservative Republican ally on civil liberties - The Bill of Rights, but that certainly doesn't mean the political agendas are suddenly the same, you are allies on an issue. This is not a problem, it simply means there is an intersection of interests in one area and a complete divergence in others.

Opponents are probably one of the more poorly managed alignments, it is important to know what is going on with an opponent, what their motivation is as well as its outcomes. Opponents should be approached with the respect that (Machiavellian speaking) their possible future use is to you. There is a difference between candidates and colleagues, you are trying to completely defeat an opposing candidate, a colleague is someone you will have to deal with in the future. There is every possibility that a current opponent is a possible ally in the future and on that basis should be debated with respect and consideration. A scorched earth policy towards opponents guarantees that they will become an Enemy.

An enemy is probably the safest alignment outside friends, you know where you stand, you know it will be a fight and you know they will be seeking allies, including your weak ones. The best policy is to avoid making enemies, this is the "take no prisoners" aspect of politics. We've seen this aspect of politics from Republicans in the recent past, it should be obvious what the drawbacks are of such management.

This may sound as though principles are optional, that's not the case. The principles of everyone involved in this management scheme are important, but not necessarily an issue. That decision on that issue is determined by applicability to the situation and whether you can be associated with them. The thing to remember is that politics ain't Sunday school, alliances shift, issue overlaps vary, motivations and principles are individual while outcomes are broad. You need to be very aware, but also sometimes need to keep your trap shut.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

OR HR2 Garbage; Merkley and Novick

Here is HR2, passed in 2003

72nd OREGON LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY--2003 Regular Session


House Resolution 2

Sponsored by Representative KROPF; Representatives KNOPP,

Whereas the dictatorship of Iraq has continued to develop
weapons of mass destruction in violation of United Nations
Security Council Resolution 1441; and
Whereas the dictator Saddam Hussein has demonstrated a
willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against
neighboring nations and the citizens of Iraq; and
Whereas Saddam Hussein threatens the Middle East and the global
economy with the threat to use weapons of mass destruction; now,

Be It Resolved by the House of Representatives of the State of

That we, the members of the House of Representatives of the
Seventy-second Legislative Assembly:
(1) Acknowledge the courage of President George W. Bush, the
President's cabinet and the men and women of the Armed Forces of
the United States, and express our support for the victorious
removal of Saddam Hussein from power; and
(2) Praise the courage, dedication, professionalism and
sacrifices of the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United
States and their families in the defense of freedom.

Now, you can cut what this says any way you want and it will come out a Catch 22 Republican inspired piece of propagandist crap. Vote against it and you're voting against (2), vote for it and you're voting for the preamble and (1). Democratic legislators made choices about this, and so did I. I was pissed off beyond measure that any Democrat voted for this junk, that was then, now is now. I recognize now as then what the choices were and I will not move off my point of the time, you do not vote FOR something that stinks. My point of view. Period.

That alone does not disqualify Jeff Merkley in my mind, nor does it automatically make Steve Novick the superior candidate. I have come pretty close to being angry with the partisan bloggers for both candidates. Discussion of a vote is not a personal attack, calling names about either the vote or the critique of it is personal attack, and stupid and pointless partisanship. There are very real issues at play in this country and in Oregon that will demand a Senator's attention and I'd like to know what that attention will amount to, and also that that our Senator can stand up to power without making unnecessary enemies.

At this point in time the candidates have acted responsibly on this issue, I congratulate them for not descending into childishness, some of their supporters don't seem to know when to shut up. The ones with their minds made up are not going to change them despite your presentations and the ones with their minds open are going to hold some of this against your candidate. If you don't STFU you are going to cost your candidate votes. So far my anger over this is pretty much "equal opportunity" applied. Some people have said/written things that should not have been said and those things are going to last and be remembered.

The OBJECT of this exercise is to defeat Sen Gordon Smith (OR-R) in 2009 and to do so with the best representative of Oregon. I want to know who that person is, I don't really care what he thinks about the other guy, I want to know what he thinks about ME. So let's go there.

Don't bring that fight over here. I'm not in the least interested and I'll just ashcan it. I do not have to provide space for stupidity that already has its space.

A Serial Rapist Next Door

David Prollitt was convicted of and imprisoned for the rapes of five women in five towns in the late '70s and early '80s in Connecticut. Now he has been released after 24 years and is moving into his sister's house in Southbury, Conn. He will be on Probation for five years with 24 conditions of probation including wearing a monitoring device and face an additional 15 yrs for violations.

His neighbors are very unhappy, police advised residents not to panic, to lock their doors, buy alarm systems, and look out for their neighbors. Calls to Gov. Rell lead him to ask Atty Gen Blumenthal to ask for a delay of Prollitt's release, Superior Court Judge Susan Handy refused stating that Prollitt had completed his sentence and was "entitled to release." Friday afternoon prior to Prollitt's arrival about 2 dozen neighborhood residents gathered across from his sister's house with signs and explained their points to reporters. Prollitt arrived in a caravan of cars with reporters and cameras trying for any view of him. What seems to have been lost is the presence of five sex offenders in the town of 19K and in Waterbury, pop 107K ten miles north east, 250 more. Some are advocating the type of indefinite civil commitment allowed in 20 other states, including NY & NJ.

I do not have an answer for the problem of released criminals, most criminals will be released short of the draconian solution of life or death sentences for a vastly expanded list of crimes. California has tried expanded sentences and the result is a prison system that is broken, broke, and eating an unconscionable portion of the state's budget, shortly it will take a larger percentage than all education. We need to face the fact that people who have committed crimes are going to be released back into the community and pose whatever threat they still pose.

The threat that they pose depends on what their psychology at release is and their opportunities on release, both to re-offend and to create a legal life. It seems that fear of jail time does not do the job, so another alternative is required. This is not some "soft on crime" issue, it is about the safety of the citizenry and the economic costs of crime and imprisonment. We need to address this, we have a huge prison population which means we have a huge number of releases coming. Harsh sentences for re-offending do are an after the fact solution, someone has been victimized at that point. Emotional baggage will not deal with this, it will require pragmatism and real research and an investment.

Bush, Government Secrets, Chaos

***Previously Posted at Middle Earth Journal ***

Our government has secrets, always has had and in a real world should have some. It is in the nature of government to have some secrets, nobody would advocate wide dissemination of the design specifics of a hydrogen bomb. We understand that and get along with it. This administration has taken that understanding to greater lengths than any previous one.

There are times it has worked to the government's advantage in the legal arena, see Chuck for... to see how this worked for kidnapping and torturing the wrong person in the Supreme Court. The government should be able to wiretap because it says so, it's secret so you can't know why or even how much, just 'cause. Habeas Corpus gets to go away because, well it's secret, because the government asserts it is in its interest while saving us from those secret threats. A Portland lawyer wrongfully accused cannot have back his own documents because they are secret. A report on Iraqi government corruption compiled by the State Department is secret at the same time the administration is asking for hundreds of billions of dollars for Iraq. It certainly cannot be public, it would embarrass our government or maybe the corrupt Iraqis. We're headed down a rabbit hole here folks and the outcomes are all bad.

Laws are passed affecting our civil liberties without review, citizens can be disappeared, crimes cannot be defended against, the government engages in policies nationally and globally that we are responsible for and yet know nothing of. It gets deeper and deeper, the President asserts the authority to ignore or enforce laws in secret at his discretion. No one is allowed to know what the government is up to, you're allowed platitudes and "trust me."

So, we come to a certain pass that we should never have come close to, your vote is meaningless, your rights are meaningless, all that matters is what the Executive branch wants. That means that what exists is force. Reason and compromise are without import, the interests of the government are protected and projected through force and the countervening forces of legislation and judicial review are abrogated, so the citizen's interests are only protected by whatever level of force they are willing to avail themselves of.

Does anybody in the Executive Branch stop to think about anything at all? Are they so divorced from reality that they do not understand that the limiting of options reduces action to its simplest forms? Democracy is a very complicated and somewhat delicate system, it operates through compromise achieved through informed debate, if you short circuit that process you stop it. If you remove information from the scheme debate becomes nothing but partisan power seeking and the public's interests vanish from the process. Why should any citizen consider himself represented? Why should any citizen consider themselves safe around their government? The rabbit hole is not where we want to be, we cannot go there without chaos ensuing at the very simplest point, the only reasonable approach for a citizen is to be armed and dangerous at all times in any contact with the government. What is that? The only possible redress from the government is revenge taken through force?

If someone proposed to set you on such a course you'd consider them lunatics and have them locked away for the protection of them and others. Is it incremental stupidity that afflicts them or an actual agenda? These people have to go and all their enablers with them. I include the Democratic Party weasels who cave to every BushCo whim. It is that, or chaos.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Outside My Back Door

***John Collins for Baker City Herald***

The Baker City Herald has this story and it regards a house about one hundred feet from where I live. I took a crummy picture, hamstrung by bystander status versus press, John is real good at it also.

Qwest, Bush, Revenge, Immunity

Ex-Ceo of Qwest, Joe Nacchio on trial in Denver for insider trading attempted to present evidence showing that BushCo retaliated against Qwest in awarding contracts for Qwest's refusal to turn over to the NSA its customer's logs. The reason that would be important to Nacchio is that he had reason to believe Qwest had the inside track on hundreds of millions of dollars worth of secret network building contracts while staff was warning him Qwest might not make its numbers.

Partially redacted documents indicate that Federal Judge Edward Nottingham refused to allow a defense argument about retaliation, documents show that he had a Feb 27, 2001 meeting to discuss the $100 million contract and another topic, a request which he repeatedly refused as illegal and inappropriate. In May 2006 USA Today revealed that Qwest, unlike ATT and Verizon had balked at providing the NSA with its customer calling patterns. Rocky Mountain News has this story with more details.

The odd part, unless you find the idea of BushCo exacting revenge odd, is that today George II threatened to veto a House wire tap authorization bill unless it contained retroactive immunity from civil action for telecoms involved in NSA wiretaps. Nacchio was convicted of 19 counts of insider trading for $52 million worth of stock sales last spring, this fall ATT and Verizon have the President of the US going to bat for them while they face a whole raft of law suits, for illegally disclosing private customer data. If it's any consolation to Qwest, I dumped ATT for this crap and went back to Qwest and upgraded my account - a lot. Small change in that world, but it was an action I could take.

Much of what we can do in response to events is small change, but in aggregation it could amount to something, but it is, at least, taking action, a positive force. This blog is small change, my readership numbers amount to a neighborhood, not an end of town, just a neighborhood, but it is an action taken. My readers take that much action, the reading, and that is something. Some take very active parts in issues, some write their own blogs, just the action of reading this stuff is engagement and a willingness to think for one's own self.

I refuse to knuckle under to BushCo's terrorism tactics, I am neither afraid of their 'enemies' nor of them. What they can take away from me I can afford to lose, what they cannot ever get is what is important to me. Sure, giving my business to Qwest is a small act of defiance, this blog isn't much more, but what I actually do to them isn't what's important, it is important - to me - that I remain self actualized and defiant. I will define my relationship to the world, not them.

And, thanks for sharing in my defiance, for being one of those people.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Supreme Court, Torture, and Secrets

If you were not scared of what the government could do to you and get away with it, there's a new dodge in town - it's called states secrets privilege. Exactly right, the government, according to the Supreme Court can kidnap someone and have them detained and tortured and there's no civil remedy if the Administration asserts that it is a state's secret involved. Apparently kidnapping and torture aren't bad enough, they also managed to get the wrong guy.

Kahled al-Masra, a German citizen of Lebanese descent, was kidnapped in Macedonia and taken to Afghanistan by the US were he was tortured. He was held for five months and then released in Albania after apparently having been mistaken for someone with a similar name. He sued the government and lost today in the Supreme Court on the basis of the state's secrets doctrine established in 1953 to keep lawyers for survivors of three civilians killed in a secret plane test from getting the official accident report which contained design elements. What the specific design elements of an airplane not being handed out has to do with kidnapping and torturing a guy seems to miss a whole bunch of legal observers. Me too.

What this really seems to say is that the government can do just exactly as it wishes to you and walk away scott free as long as it says the magic words - secret secret secret. Makes you wonder about a few things, like pursuing redress of grievances. You see my real problem with this kind of crap is that by making the government legally unaccountable you encourage an account taking of another sort. There are people who if treated in this fashion wouldn't take "tough" for an answer, they might decide they wanted just a bit more. I can assure you that in my case ever letting me go would not be particularly smart. Very much not smart. You make your own call.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Getting High In Baker City

***Right click for full size***

Legally high, if not smart. The poles are 32 feet long and yes there is 2 feet extending past the eave. Oh yeah, I know how to have fun...and even get paid a little something for it. We'll paint our way back down. Some of the lower trim has already been sprayed on the way up...I never had any desire to be a house painter - I still don't.

***Brian Schweitzer at the Oregon Summit***

Bluesteel Democrats has a nice little piece from the Oregon Summit, Democrats and leaders and officials getting together, about Gov Schweitzer, Montana, and the Gun Owner's Caucus. Here's a tease:
Montana governor, Democrat and avid gun owner Brian Schweitzer was the keynote speaker at this weekend's Oregon Summit in Bend.
Go on over there, there's even a nice picture...

Bush Opposes Death Penalty

...only because it will cause problems with Mexico involving an illegal immigrant? No, it's not just his plutocratic impulses, it gets even stupider. First Jose Ernesto Medillen was convicted of raping and strangling to death two Texas teenager girls in June 1993. He was advised of his rights, wrote a confession, and in October 1994 sentenced to death. What Texas hadn't done was inform him of his right, under 1963 Treaty, to consult with the Mexican consulate. He didn't raise the issue during his trial, when he did the Texas appeal court turned him down. The Internation Court of Justice found that this violated the 1963 Vienna Treaty and ordered the US Court to review, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals turned it down, the Supremes agreed to hear it, while it was pending Bush ordered the Texas courts to enforce the international court's ruling because not to do so would harm US relations abroad.

Texas ruled against Medillen again, saying Bush had overstepped his authority, so in April the Supremes stepped in again and put Texas vs Bush. Take note that Bush presided over 152 executions as Texas governor - no commutations. Two weeks after Bush had ordered Texas to review he withdrew the US from the treaty (terrorism suspects).

Do you get it? Rape and murder don't count, a phony war on terror does. This is one of the most compliant death penalty people in any kind of power and now he stands against Texas. Maybe there is something wrong with the death penalty, I'd say there is; but Bush's hypocrisy is astonishing.

I have no problem with Consulates advising their citizens, but let them pick up the tab and afterward take their citizen back home. If they lose, let them pay the court costs and the costs of incarceration. In every case, DUII or whatever.

I get tired of retailing BushCo garbage, but it just needs to be done. If it doesn't get done well enough, we will repeat this experiment in stupidity. I like that less...

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Medicare, Insurance Cos, Liars, Cheats, and Thieves

Congress wrote the Drug bill for Medicare with insurance companies in mind, don't even think seniors had much to do with it. Even given that, it's not enough for insurance companies, the NYT examined 91 audits of Medicare involved private insurance companies and found the improper termination of coverage for people with H.I.V. and AIDS, huge backlogs of claims and complaints, and a failure to answer telephone calls from consumers, doctors and drugstores. Surprisingly enough since March Medicare has imposed fines of $770,000 on 11 companies for infractions from failing to disclose changes in benefits and coverage to marketing violations.

This is not small time stuff, people's health is at stake and the insurance companies despite sweetheart deals are using every nasty trick in the book to increase their edge. When the government privatised this deal they didn't bother to note to interested parties that they putting Medicare recipients into the hands of companies whose sole purpose is to generate profits, not serve those needing medication. Any claim cuts into the profit margin and proper coverage decreased that margin.

The Times article has a list of some of the infractions, suffice to say one private insurer in Florida was cancelled as posing "imminent and serious threat” to its 11,000 members. You bet the privatization of government is a swell idea.

Cantor, Limbaugh, Under All This Crap There Must Be A Pony

From: Rep. Eric Cantor, Chief Deputy Republican Whip
Date: Oct 4, 2007 2:19 PM
Subject: Rush Needs Your Support

One failure after another, Washington Democrats have built a record of legislative failure; one disappointment after another, Washington Democrats have failed to deliver results to the people who got them there.
This must be why, just nine months into their tenure, the Democrat-led Congress hit an 11% approval rating - that is the lowest in recorded history. Facing their record of failure, Washington Democrats decided to try and distract - and so they took a man's words out of context, then they went on the attack.
That's why I'm encouraging you to click here to "Stand With Rush" and sign this petition.

It is at moments like these when we need to band together as conservatives and fight back.

This issue is bigger than you or me, it is bigger than Rush Limbaugh. With the recent liberal effort to resurrect the "fairness doctrine," we have to recognize that free speech -- conservative free speech is under direct attack. These are issues that speak directly to the core of the modern conservative movement - are we going to allow ourselves to be pushed around by liberal extremists, or are we going to fight back?

I want to send Washington Democrats a message that their attempts to distract aren't working - I stand with Rush Limbaugh against liberal attacks.

Rep. Eric Cantor (R - VA)
Chief Deputy Republican Whip

P.S. Please remember to Stand With Rush and sign the petition.

Nah I don't have to make up this crap they're perfectly capable themselves. What can I say that adds anything?

Radhi al-Radhi, Hero - Versus - Darn Near Everybody

Maybe a hick from Baker City, Oregon is easily impressed...I don't think so. How was it going in Iraq for Judge al-Radhi head of the Commission on Public Integrity? Kinda rough, 31 employees killed and 12 family members killed, serving the interest of the Maliki government, which wasn't very enthusiastic. Unenthusiastic enough to fire Radhi while he and some of his staff were in the US for US sponsored training last month, and cut him off monetarily. It seems this guy made some pretty serious enemies. Just for good measure add in the State Department, yup, US State Department under Condi's direction. Yeah, that historically challenged factually deficient, Condi Rice, promoter of global democratization and BushCo ethics. (cough, cough - I put those two words next to each other??)

This is quite honestly such a mess that I'm torn on which part leads to the next and what's more disturbing. OK, my post in September gave some detail to corruption in Iraq and Radhi's difficulties engaging it, his efforts show the Maliki government to be nearly paralyzed by corruption, something inconvenient for BushCo at this point. Thursday he testified before Henry Waxman's committee, detailing what's been going on. Within minutes Republicans were on the attack:

"Corruption is not a new phenomenon," remarked Representative Tom Davis, the senior GOPer on the panel.

Republican, Representative Darrell Issa, "We're not surprised a country that was run by a corrupt dictator…would have a pattern of corruption."

Republican Representative John Mica noted that corruption plagues many democratic countries, including the United States. Mica cited Watergate and the prosecution of Reagan administration officials, and he claimed that the Clinton administration had "the most number of witnesses to die suddenly."

I'm not going to re-write this AlterNet story, there are a lot more details, not nice details, but we start to get to some of the salient points when Waxman wants to see the State Department report on Iraqi government corruption - it's classified. The 70 page draft was "Sensitive, Not Classified;" the 80 page version is now off limits.

Writing to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Waxman contended that this was absurd and outrageous. He argued it was ridiculous for the State Department to claim it could not answer even general questions about Iraqi corruption within a public setting. At the hearing, Waxman hurled a series of queries at Butler. What effect does corruption have on the Iraqi government's ability to achieve political reconciliation? Has Maliki obstructed any corruption investigations? Does the Maliki government have the political will and capability to root out corruption? Is corruption funding the insurgency? Again and again, Butler replied that he would be delighted to answer these questions in the proper setting: a classified hearing behind closed doors. This information, he explained, was secret because its disclosure would "endanger" U.S.-Iraqi relations.

Is your head spinning? Yet? Waxman evidently was, he noted that Condi had recently praised the Maliki efforts against corruption - very publicly - but now the not so positive was classified. The pattern of embarrassing documents finding their way into classification continues. Henry got wound up enough to say, "Secretary Rice is going to have a confrontation with this committee….The executive branch must answer the questions of the legislative branch." Knock yourself out, Henry, Condi luuuuuvs George II much more than she fears you.

According to a Radhi associate, Radhi left the committee room believing he had done the right thing. Even as he was depending on the U.S. government to process his asylum request, he had delivered Congress a straight message that happened to be rather inconvenient for the Bush administration. Then hours later, he received disturbing news: his son, who had been trying to obtain political asylum in England, was ordered by the British government to return to Baghdad. That's where people connected to Radhi have been kidnapped, tortured and killed. "For Judge Radhi," the Radhi associate said, "this put his day on Capitol Hill in a very different light."
That's right Rep Mica, there's corruption in DC, rather inconvenient of your Republican self to bring it up. Radhi battles it in Bhagdad, loses friends and family, and finally his position and economic well-being and you thugs belittle him in your smug little BushCo world of cronyism and corruption. The man is a hero and you and your's are scum sucking bottom feeders and you will exact your revenge for him making George II's surge look pointless.

Just exactly how ignored has this story been? Bet you knew nothing of it from the MSM. Yep, that leftist elite media the wing nuts are always railing against... Follow those links and see what it really is that's got me going, I'll be damned if I'll sit still for this crap out of those weasels.

Here's a little PostScript for you:
"No U.S. government agency has provided him any help to date," says a Radhi associate. On Monday morning, I asked Nicole Thompson, a State Department spokesperson, if this is true. She promised a quick answer. No reply came quickly. When I called again, she told me she had to check with Bureau of Near East Affairs and the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. On Wednesday afternoon, Thompson called with an official response:

State Department officials have met with Judge Radhi and are aware of his situation. As a standard practice, we do not comment on private conversations.
The Nation

Saturday, October 06, 2007

What Have Republicans Wrought?

A comment I saw posted got me to thinking (sometimes pointless and sometimes dangerous) about what the Republicans have wrought over the past dozen years. Never mind the odd Democratic skid mark - Jefferson comes to mind - just what have the Republicans been up
to? Please forgive my overloaded synapses if I miss one of your favorites.

Impeachment of WJC
Rampant illegal immigration (certainly a joint R/D consideration)
K St project
Voter disenfranchisement
War under false pretenses
Media concentration
Media intimidation
No bid contractual malfeasance
Establishment of government by contractor
End of DOJ independence
Burying the Hatch Act
First Amendment subsidization of religion
Abrogation of the 4th
Destruction of Habeas Corpus
Illegal confinement
Criminal conviction of VP's chief of staff
Unimaginable deficit
Pervert house member
Bribes and corruption on a huge scale in Congress
Interference in brain dead woman's death - by fiat
Secrecy in government on an unprecedented scale
Abandoning a drowned city
Breaking the military
Ignoring terrorism, other than as campaign rhetoric
Setting large parts of the sympathetic world against us
Crushing blue collar wages
Lying at the least provocation
***per promise;
Denying SCHIP under false pretences
could add a collapsing dollar and massive debt,
the sale of infrastructure to foreign interests
a planned north American highway and north American state
the end of America as we knew it and a wide open border
the surpluses on the farms have turned into importing over half of our food
97 percent of our clothes are imports

Add in your own in comments, I know I've missed a batch, I'll move them up...

Iraq US Embassy, Junk?

I'll preface this with a disclosure, I am a construction contractor, I do not do large commercial projects, nor do I install plumbing or electrical. I understand bid processes and I understand end products and I understand sub-contractors. They turned on the fire sprinkler system in the new Bhagdad Embassy's junk. Joints burst, McClatchy's story takes us downhill from there. This $592 million dollar project is a disaster, it's on time (or was) and on budget (or was) and nobody is investigating.

State Dept Inspector General Howard Krongard refused to aggressively investigate according to former top investigators including former Asst Inspector General for Investigations John DeDona. Problems with this mess include having the wiring melt down, failure to install a blast proof wall, and allegations of near slavery hiring practices. You might be wondering what US company could possibly make such a mess, well, the builder is First Kuwaiti General Trade and Contracting Co. There is a bit of a story there as well; ah geeze, there's a bit of a story with everything involving Iraq it seems. I'm sure you remember something about emergency no bid contracts, here's another one.

Quite a few US contractors were interested in building this embassy, in fact it was put up for bid three times, with specifications changes each time, and finally issued to First Kuwaiti making a number of contractors unhappy, David Phinney in a Special to CorpWatch, got comments from contractors like:
“It's stunning what First Kuwaiti has been able to get from the State Department..."
“It was political..."

Several other contractors that competed for the embassy contracts shared similar reactions and believe that a high-level decision at the State Department was made to favor a Kuwait-based firm in appreciation for Kuwait's support of the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Everybody needs to make money, right? Well, somebody sure is, Mohammad I. H. Marafie, chairman and co-owner of FKTC, is a member of one of the most powerful mercantile families in Kuwait.

The company boasted of having $35 million in assets less than three years ago. Today, the firm has racked up hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. contracts in Iraq, pushing the company well past the $1 billion mark. With 7,000 employees in Iraq, the company claims to be holding $800 million in construction and supply contracts directly with the Army for military camps, plus more than $300 million under Halliburton 's multibillion dollar contract to perform military logistics for the occupation forces in Iraq.

Here's the real rub, some of the US firms had lower bids, $60-70 million lower and experience in such construction projects. I suppose you'd think there would be a limit to the cronyism in BushCo, though apparently Condi's patience with the schedule is wearing thin, not thin enough to actually do something, see Krongard...

It's not like this monster isn't the largest and most secure Embassy the US has or proposes, it's not like Iraq hasn't swallowed money like quicksand, it's not like everything BushCo does in that country with money doesn't have a political connection, damn, it's not even as though their favorite crony, Halliburton , Cheney's employer, hasn't shown the corruption of no-bid........

And the Republicans have the nerve to talk about and campaign on taxes and spending responsibility? In Japan they'd shut up and commit Hari Kari, here they run for President.

General Musharraf Wins

Well, since he was the only candidate it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that he would win the "election." The Supreme Court is considering whether he can be President and Chief of Military at the same time, he has promised the Supreme Court he would resign the military position after the election.

Musharraf seized power in October 1999 and has struggled with accusations that his leadership is illegitimate, in 2002 he won a referendum which was widely regarded as rigged and a 2004 electoral college vote which expired this month. Recently he extended amnesty to politicians who served between 1988 and 1999 allowing Benazir Bhutto to participate in government. This followed a threat by Bhutto to pull her representatives in Parliament.

It is of considerable importance to remember that Pakistan has nuclear capability and is home to a large group of radical Muslims. The developments in that area over the past five years do not promise to enhance stability in Pakistan. The Afghan war put considerable strain on Musharraf's leadership, launching into Iraq may have created an extremely risky situation for administrations to come. There is not one hope in the world that the BushCo can or will do anything to improve Pakistan's stability. The Catch 22 in the mess is that Afghanistan is being undermined by the same Pakistani groups that threaten Musharraf and that were further activated by the Iraq adventure.

While George II concentrates on demonizing Iran and Ahmadenijad who have stakes in what happens in Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan, the latter two continue on a downward spiral that is not in Iran's interest, as previously demonstrated by them. The US and Iran have congruent interests in Pakistan and Afghanistan, Iraq continues to drive a wedge. Much of the fear of Iran's nuclear ambitions is driven by Iraq and in all probability much of Iran's wish to have some form of deterrent is driven by Iraq and the presence of US troops as an occupying force. Whatever the US has to say about Iraq, it is entirely reasonable for the Iranians to perceive the US troops as an invading force on Islamic ground on their border and as a threat.

I hold no brief for Ahmanejihad, nor for Maliki, and not for Musharraf other than as the alternative to Islamic nut cases with nuclear weapons. Once India acquired nuclear weapons capability, it was inevitable that Pakistan, an ardent foe, would seek it - and achieve it. That capability in the region drives fears of Iran and at the same time creates a nightmare scenario in Pakistan. The US is forced into the cold war position of supporting dictatorships out of fear of the alternative and at the same time opposing one over ideology in the same neighborhood. BushCo seems unable to see the consequences of creating fear in the region and stoking opposition forces with their actions. This from an administration "dedicated" to the proposition of democracy building.

It is much too late to defuse the situation created by invading Iraq, that is done, now the problem is how to deal with the fallout. Ratcheting up the rhetoric and increasing fear in the region is more of the same and the outcome will be more of the same. Playing the game of "how Iraq should have been handled" is now pointless, how to achieve some sort of order out of the chaos created is the order of the day. It is impossible to deal with the players without first reducing the fear factor, you will not get reasonable decisions from fear and anger based thinking. Afghanistan and Iraq sit between two hammers, Iran and Pakistan and possibly Syria, if reasoned thinking is not pursued in the region a disaster is in the making.

Musharraf has the military power to keep a lid on in Pakistan, up to a point, without broader Pakistani support for keeping that lid on, it will fail. Iran has the capacity to be an actor in the entire area, there is no sign that the mullahs are going to go away anytime soon, courting their positive involvement could create some form of order. The emotional loading of politics in the region is ridiculous, Musharraf is no more reflective of US philosophy than the mullahs are, and the pragmatism BushCo has exercised in making Musarraf an ally should be balanced with its approach to Iran. But pragmatism is not really the BushCo mindset, acquisition of power through fear is their paradigm. We've got a real serious problem and it ain't them Iraqis following us home.

GOP RoadKill

" To me, with that star as the elephant's eye, the odd posture, and the stripes, nay, tire marks across its back, it looks like the GOP got run over by a truck and killed." - Wheels - Blue Oregon

Lead Guantanamo Prosecutor Quits

The military commissions in Guantanamo got messy again this week, after being shut down by federal court, ruled un-Constitutional by the Supremes, and re-authorized by Congress, shut down again by military court it has entered a new difficulty. The lead prosecutor, AF Col. Morris Davis has resigned over an issue of independence. AF Brig Gen Thomas Hartmann has asserted the right to supervise aspects of the prosecution as legal advisor to the administrator overseeing the trials.

McClatchy's Miami Herald has the story which is murky at best surrounded by the secrecy so prevalent in BushCo. Nobody is really talking other than Bryan Whitman, Pentagon spokesman, and that came down to Hartmann has the authority and no problems will ensue with Davis' resignation. Take your best guesses what's going on.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Bush, Torture, Secrets

It is a very bad thing to have airplanes used as weapons to kill over 3,000 people in America, a horrifying and terrific shock to the system. While it is understandable that some people's thinking and emotions would go off the deep end, it was even more horrifying to find that the DOJ in the person of Mr Yoo would send a memo out condoning torture. Finally in 2004 the weight of public, international, Congressional, and Supreme Court disapproval resulted in BushCo making a public statement that "torture is abhorrent," and the closing of CIA foreign black detention facilities.

That abhorrence didn't last long, the NYT says that in 2005 shortly after he took over at DOJ, Albie put the US right back on that track, issuing in secret an expansive document approving the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the CIA, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures. Since many in the US completely disapprove:

Later that year, as Congress moved toward outlawing “cruel, inhuman and degrading” treatment, the Justice Department issued another secret opinion, one most lawmakers did not know existed, current and former officials said. The Justice Department document declared that none of the C.I.A. interrogation methods violated that standard.

The classified opinions, never previously disclosed, are a hidden legacy of President Bush’s second term and Mr. Gonzales’s tenure at the Justice Department, where he moved quickly to align it with the White House after a 2004 rebellion by staff lawyers that had thrown policies on surveillance and detention into turmoil.

VP Cheney and his counsel David Addington found a willing foil in Gonzales for their belief that nothing should stand in the way of their idea of security, not the Supremes, not Congress, not the nation, and certainly not international opinion.

After the Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that the Geneva Conventions applied to prisoners who belonged to Al Qaeda, President Bush for the first time acknowledged the C.I.A.’s secret jails and ordered their inmates moved to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The C.I.A. halted its use of waterboarding, or pouring water over a bound prisoner’s cloth-covered face to induce fear of suffocation.

But in July, after a monthlong debate inside the administration, President Bush signed a new executive order authorizing the use of what the administration calls “enhanced” interrogation techniques — the details remain secret — and officials say the C.I.A. again is holding prisoners in “black sites” overseas. The executive order was reviewed and approved by Mr. Bradbury and the Office of Legal Counsel.
The Office of Legal Counsel is supposed to eliminate the need for an advocate in the DOJ and supply law based opinion. This same Steven G Bradbury has stated, "In my experience, the White House has not told me how an opinion should come out, the White House has accepted and respected our opinions, even when they didn’t like the advice being given.” considering the secrecy, we may be supposed to take his word for it, though it may be a secret from the White House that they've ever been thwarted by DOJ.

Not too surprisingly, CIA officers were worried by all these new found intelligence gathering techniques, questions began to pour into the legal office of the CIA, was "this" ok, was co-mingling these techniques alright, horror piling on horror needed approval. The problems began, even tough Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was broken with the enhanced interrogation techniques but much of the information gleaned proved exaggerated or false. The interrogators were marginally familiar with the torture, mostly gained from study of Soviet techniques and military interrogation resistance programs and not at all familiar with KSM's culture and background - incompetence at work. (thankfully Americans seemed to prove incompetent at torture) It is a fairly simple prospect to understand the untrustworthiness of information gained by putting a person in the position of wanting badly to please his interrogators, saying whatever seemed necessary to stop the torture.

It seems ludicrous to be writing an article about torture, something I neither understand nor condone, but to be writing an article protesting US torture is something out of the Twilight Zone, beyond anger, into stupefaction. I have not been enough places to qualify a statement that this is the best country in the world, but I certainly understood that our practices qualified us as a light to the world - that light seems to have gone out. I wonder how many administrations, how many decades, how many losses it will take for this country to undo the harm George II has done. I am also afraid of what lengths some of those running for president might this to. There are authoritarians running and they actually have a chance (or better).

I've seen this country engage in massive stupidity and studied even more that I haven't experienced but I am astonished at what 7 years of BushCo have accomplished at setting the bar extremely high for incompetence and Constitutional wreckage. The truly frightening aspect is that this is only the part we know about, these people classify at whim, to cover obvious stupidity and criminality, what else is hidden? The NYT has done a service here, their reportage deserves your read - and hit rates, give them a look.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Bush's Rotten Hollywood

Sounds as though George II doesn't like Hollywood, AP reports:

"Many people are surprised when told about the admiral's show business roots. After all, he is humble, well-grounded and filled with common sense. Not exactly what one thinks about when they think of Hollywood values," said Bush
Seems pretty gratuitous. I'd guess all those movie and TV people are lacking in ... something. Wonder how that plays with all those candidates and ex-electeds that did the Hollywood thing?

Asked whether this was a veiled snub aimed at Republican presidential hopeful Fred Thompson, a former senator with a long career as an actor, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino incredulously replied: "No."

"I don't know how you're drawing that connection," she said.

Gee, I don't know - maybe because it came out of your boss' mouth...

Maybe he should have taken on draft dodging college dilettante business wrecking...oh.

Somebody should've warned Dick Cheney this was coming, since he was busy in Beverly Hills raising cash last week. Filthy Hollywood money, no values, ...

WSJ, Business and Republicans

Rupert had better get a grip on the reporter staff of the WS Journal, these people are reporting things that are definitively unflattering to the Republicans, maybe true, but not good. How's this for heresy, business is bailing on the Republicans. I mean, really, the Chamber of Commerce calls their relationship "complex?"

For Greenspan to bail might be seen as self-serving, but this is getting right out of hand, a WSJ/NBC poll 7/07 found "best party for reducing deficit?" 43D/18R, "dealing with economy?" 41D/27R, "controlling spending?" 37D/20R, "dealing with taxes?" 37D/28R. That's tough news for the R, but it gets worse, 37% of professionals and managers identify as Republican or Republican leaning down from 44% three years ago. If money is a measure, D presidential candidates raised 70% more money than Rs - and take into consideration that 1 in 4 dollars Mitt, the big money raiser, has "raised" is his own money.

The Republicans naturally have not lost hope:

Danny Diaz, spokesman for the Republican National Committee, says, "Americans of every political persuasion that value hard work, keeping more hard-earned dollars, and economic independence and entrepreneurship will continue to stand behind the Republican Party."
Just to counterbalance that particular "spin" in 2002 party identification split 43% each, this year in July it was 50% Democratic/35% Republican. Support for "old fashioned family values has shrunk 11% since 1987, so the Republican religious right is losing sway generally.

Spending some time in the political wilderness might do the Republican Party some good, it sure would do this nation some good.

fred Thompson, WMD, Iowa

Fred told a "crowd" of about 60 at a Newton Iowa cafe that Saddam had WMD and the beginnings of an atomic program. Later on, he said he meant Saddam had WMDs in the '80s when he used them. Typical lawyer as candidate trick, stir the pot with what is a lie and then make sure to go back in time and fix the lie that's done its work. Confuse the rubes.

Why bother to tell people what they already know? Unless of course you're trying to do something else...

There are people trying to fix what's left of Republican politics, boy they're not getting any help there.

Brittany Spears and ...

why am I supposed to care? So what?

I'm sure something actually happened today.