Friday, November 30, 2007

Virginia GOP Loyalty Oath

I know this is dated news, the VA GOP requires Primary voters to vow, before getting their ballot, to vote for the GOP nominee in the General election. The avowed purpose is to prevent non-GOPs from voting in their Primary and messing it up. Yep, messing it up. No, really the VA GOP is afraid bored Democrats with nothing better to do will try to vote for the worst candidate, sabotaging the results.

Now I don't want to be a complete partisan ass, but jeepers, who is the worst? How could the Democrats make a worse mess of this than they're doing on their own? This idea is sure gonna help make the Virginia GOP members feel swell about the General. There might be some who would look at somebody of a different Party if their candidate didn't win, they'll probably think twice about voting. This would seem to take the Party into an even narrower base, this kind of stuff could be fatal to the future of the Republicans in that state. Worse news for them is that Virginia is trending Democratic currently.

Tied together with this news is the news that the GOP is outraged that the GOP Utube debate had at least one Democrat ask a question and they suggest that some of the stereotypical GOP base questioners were plants as well. Now while I'm pretty unsure that it was appropriate for Gen. Kerr to make a speech at their debate, the question was a valid one. If these candidates cannot deal with these questions, then what are they doing running for President? Worse, if the GOP cannot deal with the relevancy of these questions, then exactly how relevant is the GOP? Now I don't think much of the entire slate and I don't think by the time they're done with each other that there will be much left for the General. Huckabee was the standout winner as "nice guy" and John McCain gets "Mr. Furious." I suppose Ron Paul gets "Most Principled" and "Least Mentioned" is George II with 2, both negative.

I'm not going to take this thing apart, if you were interested in that you would have watched it or read any one of the transcripts floating around. This was a really uncomfortable night for the candidates and it got pretty rough amongst themselves. I watched the thing with my lefty Democratic bias and came up with an across the board loss for them with the general public. I think the losing is going to get worse, and it will be the candidates driving it. If violence flares again in Iraq, other than Paul they've all staked a lot on staying at war and that will really bite them. The one thing that could rescue the warmongers would be a political solution in Iraq and that sure seems like wishful thinking.

I'd rather run in the General as anything other than one of these guys - oh that'd be a Democrat.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Shocking Story

BALTIMORE (ABS) - A seven-year-old Baltimore , Maryland boy was at the center of a Baltimore courtroom drama yesterday when he challenged a court ruling over who should have custody of him. The boy has a history of being beaten by his parents and the judge initially awarded custody to his aunt, in keeping with child custody law and regulations requiring that family unity be maintained to the degree possible. The boy surprised the court when he proclaimed that his aunt beat him more than his parents and he adamantly refused to live with her. When the judge then suggested that he live with his grandparents, the boy cried out they also beat him. After considering the remainder of the immediate family and learning that domestic violence was apparently a way of life among them, the judge took the unprecedented step of allowing the boy to propose who should have custody of him. After two recesses to check legal references and confer with child welfare officials, the judge granted temporary custody to the Baltimore Ravens, whom the boy firmly believes are not capable of beating anyone.

Being a Cleveland Browns fan...
I know it's a joke and it's not even political, but all things considered... Browns AFC 7-4

Paris France

Anybody like what they see in Paris? This is what happens when you create a serf class - they get tired of it and they certainly don't feel like a part of the nation. I don't blame them, either. Too bad the innocents will get to suffer from their rage and the crackdown that's coming.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Regarding Democratic Party of Oregon and Guns

It's time to run this again:



WHEREAS, the Democratic Party has long been dedicated to the preservation of civil liberties; and

WHEREAS, the Democratic Party has long been dedicated to the preservation of freedom and social justice.


Section 1. To recognize and support the right to keep and bear arms in Article 1 Section 27 of the Oregon State Constitution and the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America as an individual right not granted by the government, but rather guaranteed by the government.

Section 2. In recognition of the tremendous personal responsibility engendered by the right to keep and bear arms, the Democratic Party of Oregon further advocates severe penalties and their enforcement for criminal use or misuse of the right.

ADOPTED by the Democratic Party of Oregon on 16th day of July, 2005.
Resolution submitted by Charles H Butcher III, Baker County.

Platform and Resolutions Committee recommends adoption.

Date approved
Resolution sponsor(s)
Chuck Butcher

If you want to try and make the Republicans look better on the issue, you'd better have them re-write their mess. Yes, there are Democrats that don't like this; but to take measure this passed with 73% vote. The DPO also has The Gun Owners Caucus with Blue Steel Democrats as its unofficial Blog and a page on DPO's website and it is one of the best attended and most active Party caucuses. We (I'm a charter member, not an officer) aren't quiet and some candidates carry R08-2005 in their pockets when they campaign.

Hillary Got In The Ring

If you're a pacifist you're not going to like my analogy, but here you are: Hillary Clinton put on the gloves and climbed the ropes into the ring, did somebody expect that this was patty-cake? I've been seeing push-back against John Edwards for his going after the Hillary, words like "attacked" get used. Hmmm. It almost sounds as though there was one-sided gunfire, or maybe lies (Swift-boating) going on. Hogwash.

John Edwards has been pussy footing around and Obama rides his coat tails with little pokes of his own. What is this exactly? Yeah, she's a woman, and so...? Yeah, she's a Democrat - well that's what the (D) means, if nothing else does. She's the media's darling inevitable nominee, blah, blah, Bill, blah, blah. She's one real careful pol is what she is; and the other candidates let her get away with it at their own risk - and frankly the Democratic Party's risk. If you think the voters are going to forget that in this election the same old same old is what they're stuck with, you sure better think again.

When some 55 year old woman tells me that Hillary is a woman and that is a great reason to vote for her; I think my brains have fallen out. Would it be anything like reasonable to state that as a woman she isn't qualified? No, and that woman would why is it a qualification? I don't care one way or the other that Obama is black, or that Edwards is - what? - pretty? I care about policy and associations.

This is Republican ground we're walking around on, some entirely meaningless qualification driving the selection process. We're Democrats, remember? You know policy and associates count, ideas drive the selection process...Not the confounded corporate media horse race aficionados. There is exactly one way to sort out who is best and that is for them to prove it. Show me.

You climb into that political ring and you better be ready to come out swinging, oh yes, the blows stay above the belt, but these other candidates are trying to sink you. If you've got the stuff - put it out there, and be ready for the counter punches. But head faking around and calling for patty-cake time is nonsense. You say you've got a health plan and the insurance companies are tossing great gobs of money your way, you tell me how you pay for it and who wins. I'm real tired of this idea that stuff trickles down to me, the hell it does, it gets yanked out of my pocket every day I work for the benefit of people who not only don't know I exist, they also don't give a damn. (that's the universal "I") Whether my workers and I go from getting by to falling off the edge makes not one iota difference to a whole lot of people who claim to represent us. I want some answers, not a bunch of feel good empty slogan nothings, I want to know and if nobody is going to force the answers they take a hike when it comes to campaign contributions and campaign work.

If you think these people shouldn't have to answer tough questions and back up their 'feel good' nothings, if you think the question of leaving Iraq is open to whole bunch of evasion, if you think that because they're Democrats somebody should have a free pass, then you go right ahead and vote for an empty suit. That's all you get, a finely finished off the rack suit with nobody home.

I'm not going to hold Hillary's last name against her, but since she wants to run on Bill Clinton, I'm going to hold ever bad piece of work out of that administration against her, and then toss on top of it her NY Senator garbage. My losses as a blue collar guy accelerated under her husband, nothing like the BushCo hits, but Bill Clinton is no economic friend of mine. That's right, all that stock market booming economy went right on by the blue collar world, what we got was disappearing jobs, stagnating or dropping wages, and health care costs going through the roof. You say, well I did good under Bill; really, maybe you should check your share of the economic gains against the upper crust gains. No, it wasn't the George II plutocracy, but it sure wasn't shared around, either.

Is John Edwards playing the populist card? Some. In a real careful way he is, if he doesn't get one heck of a lot more reckless with it, I'll just take it for mouth noises. If he's going to push at Hillary over doing the same thing the same way, he'd better buck up and start backing up the jabs with some round houses. She's going to stand right there in their way, she'll cry about it, but she can't get away from them because she's old recycled news and a great big target. I'd offer the same advice to Obama, but he's got his "nice-guy" trunks on. Bill Richardson has already shown he doesn't want to mix it up, and Joe Biden knows he's going back to the Senate, so it's left to Dennis Kucinich?

Dennis would be in there throwing haymakers every time, except UFOs and a good looking wife are all that gets attention. If John Edwards wants to be the Democratic nominee, then he'd better take a page from Dennis and quit caring about whether some people think it's nice to call BS. I left out Chris Dodd, which isn't fair; the problem is Chris only wakes up and remembers it's a fight every now and then. I'm not going to be dishonest with you, the only candidate I actively dislike is Hillary (oh, you guessed) but what would make me happy would be if I could squish Edwards and Kucinich into one candidate and toss a big helping of "ALL OUR CIVIL LIBERTIES" on top, I'd have a real candidate. I won't hold my breath.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Oregon Secretary of State - Non-partisan ?

An Oregonian editorial advocates changing the office of Secretary of State from a partisan competition to a non-partisan office. They reference the Florida fiasco with SoS Kathryn Harris in the 2000 Presidential election. I've read the editorial several times looking for a justification that goes beyond an appearance of partisanship involved in the current system. They do mention a 1962 and 2006 look at the idea, in '63 the legislature decided against and so far nothing on the '06. The Oregonian notes that the '62 Constitutional Revision Commission likened the office to judges who run as non-partisans.

As Hans Linde, the retired Supreme Court justice who served on the commission, wrote: ". . . inviting a suspicion of partiality needlessly undermines confidence in any office when objectivity and impartiality are the essence of its functions."

The Oregonian concludes, "It's time to strip the trappings of partisanship from the secretary of state's office. "

The Oregonian says the current SoS Bill Bradbury vigorously opposes the idea and even somehow agrees and disagrees with him:
Bradbury is right that calling a candidate nonpartisan doesn't change his personal preferences, and in fact, may conceal them from voters. But he's wrong to insist that voters are better served by an avowed partisan than by a professional manager.
Um. What? The Oregonian says "professional manager" right behind "avowed partisan" making some kind of inference that "avowed partisan" equals 'political hack,' and the trappings of being defined "professional" somehow negates "partisanship." They change a couple words and that somehow changes the people who serve? By their reasoning only a person who has never registered with a Party would qualify - registration as a Party member is a declaration of partisanship. I'm pretty sure they're not advocating that only people who don't care to belong to a Party are qualified, if that is what they mean then they are advocating a Constitutional bar to freedom to associate.

I've already noted that SoS Bill Bradbury opposes the idea, Politicker OR asked the current candidates what they thought. Avakian and Brown didn't have anything for the article, Metzger approves of the idea, spokesperson Stacy Dycus,
“If the Secretary of State endorses a candidate, and then something happens so it’s a tight election, then it is difficult for the secretary of State to maintain the appearance of neutrality, even if all the rules have been followed.”
Walker doesn't agree,
“You can dress up a pig any way you want, and it’s still a pig, so it’s not the nature of the office being partisan or non-partisan, but the nature of the individual.”[...] “I’ve been a Democrat all my life, because I believe in their views, and I can’t just turn that off, but it doesn’t mean I can’t behave in such a way that one would expect from an elected official who presides over state elections.”
Let's go back to the Oregonian which portrays Sen Gordon Smith (OR-R) as a moderate Republican (something Democrats scoff at) and see what else is there.
Meanwhile, incumbent Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, who once ran against Republican Gordon Smith for the U.S. Senate, gave a speech at a Democratic Party event last month in which he criticized Smith's "far right-wing agenda" and called on other Democrats to "work the next 13 months to ensure that Oregonians hear about the real Gordon Smith." Last week, he insisted again to The Oregonian that Smith and every other candidate on the ballot in Oregon next year will get a fair election and pointed out that he had pledged not to serve in any candidate's campaign nor help raise money for candidates.
OK, "gave a speech" and then "insisted again" links the two events in the readers mind and rather than a nice neutral 'Bradbury stated' we get the defensive "insisted again" as though there was some question about Bradbury somewhere other than in the Oregonian's mind. Readers of any newspaper would do well to remember how their neutrality works when they are advocating it. I've already stated my view on that topic, (to save you time) it's nonsense.

Vicki Walker, in her usual no-nonsense way, nailed the point. I'll expand a little, I don't want an SoS who is disconnected from the political process, whether or not you like the (R) or (D) they are the dominate forces in Oregon politics. The NAVs don't nominate candidates and the others have proven to be ineffectual, who ever effectually runs for SoS is very likely to have either an (R) or a (D) after their names on voter registration. The fact that it does not appear on the ballot has not one thing to do with the person. Considering the political outcomes of so many of the SoS decisions, I'd really like to know just exactly what their political agenda is.

I'm a Democrat, the current SoS is a Democrat, and most likely the next SoS will be a Democrat, so you might think I have a Democratic agenda in scoffing at the idea, not so. I want Oregonians to know just exactly who they're voting for. Now just about anybody who pays any attention at all to politics would have known Bradbury was a Democrat when they voted even if it weren't in the ballot, and it would be pretty difficult to not notice that whatever Democrat is nominated that they (currently) are all Democratic Oregon Senators; so what is it that the Oregonian is stumping for? Quite simply, a ballot appearance of non-partisanship, unless they propose to ban any with political activity in their past. The citizens of Oregon deserve better, but that isn't the Oregonian's agenda.

A couple things ought to occur to readers, there is every chance that the Smith election will be a brawl and there is a good chance that re-districting is headed to Oregon. Now if I had an idea that what Democrats like isn't what I liked I might like to have an Editorial position giving me ammunition to take pot-shots at whatever an "avowed" Democrat did. The Oregonian is no friend to Democratic politics, their endorsement for Governor ought to make that pretty clear. I don't know if Metzger thought this all the way through or if he's also a fan of appearances, I'm not going debate his statement with him, he's free to comment here, but he's flat out wrong.

The Kathryn Harris debacle had not one thing to do with her political registration on the ballot, it had everything to do with her/their idea of the political process. There is some chance that Florida voters will have gotten the idea that SoS politics count, and maybe next time they see that (R) they'll remember being the butt of a bad joke. Not likely, but they're not Oregon. The Oregonian did not point out any bad outcome of the partisanship of Oregonian SoS, they have not one Oregon fact to back their assertions. I assert that the Oregonian's Editorial is an act of partisanship under the guise of responsibility, the very thing they condemn.

***if the Oregonian doesn't like that, they're free to use the Comments button, also***

Monday, November 26, 2007

Novak - iland..A False Conservative

Nobody would be too surprised that a left wing blog would laugh at Robert Novak, and I am. But why I'm laughing might surprise you, he doesn't like Mike Huckabee because he's not a conservative. In a WaPo Editorial Novak states that Huckabee is, "far removed from the conservative-libertarian model of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan," which is an odd linking of those two men. Barry Goldwater has in common with Ronald Reagan the (R) after their name and Presidential campaigns. Ronald Reagan gets included because that's the Republican pantheon rather than any factual connection. Let's see how this works, Ronnie never saw a tax break for the rich he didn't like or a spending program that he'd veto - rather BushCo-ish, he ran off on foreign adventures but didn't have the nerve to hit the terrorists who blew up the barracks in Lebanon, rather he "cut and ran," he spent a fortune on defence with no revenue to back it, he stepped outside the Constitution in Iran-contra, he instituted an illegal immigrant amnesty with no enforcement beginning a true flood, in fact RR's conservatism amounted to doddering around the White House tossing platitudes to the Religious Right and tax breaks. Oh I know the Republicans kneel to the Reagan myth, but it is that and Novak knows it, but he's a shill.

Novak is offended that Huckabee called the Club for Growth the "Club for Greed," and pointed to their contributor list and their policies. He is particularly incensed that Huckabee increased taxes in Arkansas, since Novak's heroes (other than Goldwater) didn't balance budgets, they just spent reduced revenue like drunken sailors. What Huckabee does according to Novakiland thinking is, "Huckabee clearly departs from the mainstream of the conservative movement in his confusion of "growth" with "greed." Such ad hominem attacks are part of his intuitive response to criticism from the Club for Growth and the libertarian Cato Institute about his record as governor." You see "growth" for Novak is measured by income increases in the top 0.1% of the taxpayers, it certainly need not include the dirty masses, other than their minimum wage opportunities increasing - providing there is no actual minimum wage.

This you have to love coming right after the "ad hominem attacks" paragraph:

Quin Hillyer, a former Arkansas journalist writing in the conservative American Spectator, called Huckabee "a guy with a thin skin, a nasty vindictive streak." Huckabee's retort was to attack Hillyer's journalistic procedures, fitting a mean-spirited image when he responds to conservative criticism.
Despite Bill Buckley's editorship that thing is a rag, the entire useful content of which is an occasional Bill article. If you're a fan of rabid right blogs and their intellectual content it's the magazine for you. Despite my complete contempt for Robert Novak as a commentator or journalist he's a big step up from that bunch. Boy that's a compliment by insult.

Here's the kind of thing that sends Novak over the edge:

But Huckabee simply does not fit within normal boundaries of economic conservatism, such as when he criticized President Bush's veto of a Democratic expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program. Calling global warming a "moral issue" mandating "a biblical duty" to prevent climate change, he has endorsed a cap-and-trade system that is anathema to the free market.
Now I think SCHIP is flawed in its single narrow source funding, but it is funded rather than the BushCo Iraq war and just about every other program he's advanced. But what you might miss in the picture is that Huckabee's 'conservative failure' is that the program is aimed at something other than the 0.1% plutocracy, which is Novak's real complaint. Bush did the Democratic Party a real favor with his veto, which was naturally not on the basis of what his wrong with the thing but that 'slippery slope into socialized medicine' nonsense, since George II is about as free market oriented as Karl Marx. If you righties think that's some kind of slur, the difference between them is which favored single entity gets the free ride and which way the income redistribution goes.

Mike Huckabee gets an almost free pass from the loon devil:

Nevertheless, he is getting remarkably warm reviews in the news media as the most humorous, entertaining and interesting GOP presidential hopeful. Contrary to descriptions by old associates, he is now called "jovial" or "good-natured." Any Republican who does not sound much like a Republican is bound to get friendly press, as Sen. John McCain did in 2000 (but not today, with his return to acting more like a conventional Republican).
Anybody notice the 'devil's' heading on the publisher of this Novak junk? Why it's that bastion of liberal bias and loon reporting 'The Washington Post' and I'm pretty sure they wrote a check with Novak's name on it.

I enjoy Mike Huckabee to a certain extent, he's not quite a loon and certainly can be abrasive but there is some sort of genuineness to him. I wouldn't vote for him for a more important office than City Council, but that's not a platform where his politics of religion have enough impact to over-ride his better qualities. As for Novak, evidently somebody (him) voted him off the island - of this plane of reality - right into Novakiland.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Hot Rod Re-loads For Vaquero .45 Colt and Ruger No1 45-70

****Despite the title, some of you are coming in from searches for entirely other firearms. These are specialize firearms and this data is completely dangerous in other firearms****

Hot rodding loads is a very iffy proposition taken from the pressure capabilities of a firearm and the published load data pressures. Due to liability concerns both numbers are safe and reliable along with a built in safety margin. A good condition firearm loaded to the published maximum load table for that firearm is safe, well within a margin of minor loading errors and temperature effects. Exceeding load table data is something to be done with great care, if at all. I do not recommend doing it and anyone who does so should be aware of the risks, starting with a damaged firearm and going to serious injury and death. If that does not scare you...

I have a Ruger Vaquero in .45 Colt with 5.5 inch barrel, a new and very nicely put together revolver. A local company, Oregon Trail Bullet Co makes Lazer Cast bullets, these particular cast bullets are .452 diameter 360 grain gas checked with copper base semi-wad cutters. Gas checking is accomplished with o-rings and the lead is silver alloyed to increase hardness without brittleness. The load tables call for a max load of 22.5 grains H110 with a velocity of 1221 fps. Brass was once fired PMC +P and CCI Magnum Pistol Primers. This round is a handful and I have very strong and tough hands. I have a hammer bite mark on the back of my hand just off the side of my thumb, I shoot single handed. These are very intense rounds, at twenty five yards the round went through the tread face of a steel belted semi tire (10-22) and out the tread on the opposing side at the max diameter (approx 40 inches), tearing a half-dollar sized hole. That might be enough.

I moved the loads up by 0.5 grains to a total of 24 grains. I built each of those 0.5 grain increases and fired them by one round loads each firing from the first increase and checked each round carefully for case condition, bulged primer or case or any signs of cracking and during extraction whether there was any sticking. The cases showed no sign of damage although the extractor rod was required for removal on the 23.5 & 24 grain loads, the push required was minimal. Let me be very clear, this revolver is in known new condition and was checked with each firing and temperatures were just below 40F. These rounds are a very intense shooting experience, the Bisley design makes ordinary heavy load recoil much more manageable than other designs, at the max table load barrel climb is extreme, note the hammer bite. The two upper over loads result in not only that extreme muzzle climb but also in the revolver winding up turned on its side from barrel twist rate. This makes a second shot time consuming and difficult. Note that I shoot single handed, though I am doubtful a two handed grip would make any appreciable difference. I don't think the overloads are needed, the penetration demonstrated by the max loads is sufficient for anything short of grizzly or Alaskan Browns, unless as a last measure. The bullet manufacturer tested this round at its max load and achieved 26 inches penetration in a ballistic gel block. ****Please note this is a new model Ruger Vaquero**** the only other make strong enough is a Thompson Contender. If you own another .45 Colt it is important to plainly mark each individual round, I used black permanent magic marker on the primer base, these rounds will damage or destroy most models with very serious injury probable.

The Ruger No1 in 45-70 is a light rifle for its caliber and though short achieves that through the absence of a bolt mechanism, it is a breech loader falling block. This rifle is capable of high pressures, 50K CUP is the published data. The bullet is .458 diameter and the bullets I used are 500 grain Speer jacketed soft round nose. Per Lyman reloaders handbook for Ruger No 1 & 3 -ONLY - using IMR 4895 the max load is 57 grains generating 39K CUP and 1897 fps. I moved the load up to 58 grains, fired one and checked for case damage. The case ejected easily and showed no sign of any damage. The damage was all mine, scuffs on the back of my fingers from the lever and a nice sized knot on my right cheek from the stock, my shoulder only mildly tender. My reaction - Holy Mackerel. I was shooting from a bench so my position was not optimal for this heavy round's recoil. I was shooting at a 100yd target on a 200 yd range position, the backstop for 200yds is approx 240 yds, the bullets threw fist sized dirt clods and left holes in the ground plainly visible to the naked eye. These are not target shooting rounds beyond what is needed to zero them. I set windage and approximate elevation with standard 400 grain "any rifle" factory rounds, these are soft slow rounds, going about 1000 fps, they are quite capable of taking a deer. The hot rod 500 grains will kill anything in North America, the draw back is that this is a single shot rifle, requiring a breech reload after having the snot knocked out of you. Because even at a pushed velocity the rounds will not exceed 2000 fps the drop at 200 yards is considerable which puts dangerous game into fairly close proximity. An enraged Alaskan Brown bear can cover 100 yds very quickly, lacking a second shot would be bad. This is a beautiful powerful rifle but it has limits. The 45-70 is the oldest commonly used cartridge, a straight tapered rimmed cartridge which means that for resizing the cases should be lubricated, even with carbide dies, or crushing is possible. The penetration capability of a 500 grain round nose bullet is extraordinary and bullet carry after target strike is a real consideration, what is on the other side of the biggest bull elk is at risk with this sort of round.

If you will insist on trying these hot rods, be aware that they were tested in known new firearms of high quality manufacture and with CUP ratings vastly superior to other more common ones. Use of this loading in any other firearm or one of these in poor condition is a recipe for disaster. Best practice is to follow loading data from reputable loading books.

Surge Equals No Political Progress

Now that a bunch of Americans and Iraqis have died for the American "surge" we have exactly not one iota of the political progress that it was "intended" to foster. You may have noticed that when it comes to spending American blood and treasure like it was water the BushCo has no problem, but when it comes to Iraqis doing something to put their country back together all bets are off. Somehow George II can sell the idea that Americans need to die and be blown to broken shreds to fix an Iraq that has no intention of fixing itself. According to the NYT the BushCo's goals for the Iraqi government are that it pass a budget (??), vote to extend the UN mandate (if not, then what?), and take official action to reverse the effects of de-Baathification, already a quietly done deal. There you go. This is what 974 American lives in the last year buy, the dollar cost and wounded costs I won't bother to play pile on with, just actually dead American soldiers.

When you talk to your neighbor who has lost someone in this adventure of George II, this is the measure of his concern - you had better try to make up for it yourself. Asking someone to die for something is no small matter and it would seem as though the Commander in Chief would take that a little more to heart in some issue other than trampling the Constitution. I won't add anything to do with my absolute lack of respect for his Republican Congressional lackeys and their disregard of the sacrifice. This devaluation of what these troops spent their lives doing is, to me, unacceptable behavior. Despite all previous evidence I had hoped that along with the "surge" the BushCo would carry forward something constructive in Iraq. Ooops.

The Bush dead-enders will call any Congressional push as "not supporting the troops," the unending mantra of those with no coherent argument left. Every attempt of Congress to link the war to some practical end has been met with the same phrase, if Congress tries to make the President responsible for the results of spending American blood and treasure the answer is "not supporting the troops." The question that seems beyond the ken of these folks is just exactly how it is supportive of the troops to spend their lives with no result?

Even if you start out from a view point that the Iraq war was somehow justified to begin and then to prosecute for a couple more years on the basis of "you broke it, you bought it," at some point America should see some result of its spending. The election of a non-functioning, corrupt, militia ridden government is not much return for an expense now measure in trillions of dollars, nearly four thousand dead and over twenty thousand broken troops. Is it real clear what BushCo expects back from our investment in that hole? Other than asking us to stay it is pass a budget?

How We're "Winning" In Iraq, Now

The right, or the BushCo Gang, is now asking when the media and defeatocrats are going to admit that we're winning in Iraq. Troop losses the last two months have been the lowest since early 2006, including all US casualties and Iraqi force and civilian casualties. Any drop in casualties makes me very happy - not as happy as a cessation of casualties - happy for the troops and their families and Iraqis in general. That, of course, isn't what the question was. It might pay to remember that 2006 was what made the "surge" the thing to do, it might pay to remember that four years of war have succeeded in getting us back to year 3. It might pay to notice that the political progress in the past year has been exactly no better than it was in year 3, which isn't even as good as a status quo might be under ordinary circumstances.

I and others have pointed out that Iraqis are fiercely tribal as well as religious sectarians and the al Anbar successes were primarily homegrown and the virtually inevitable consequences of foreign Arabs trying to impose their foreign agenda on Sunni Iraqis. Bhagdad is now sectarian divided, essentially segregated neighborhoods where once mixed existed and a whole lot of potential victims have gotten out. The Iraqis returning after being forced out of Syria may be one of the coming test cases. While Iranian sanctuaried and trained Shiites in the south may have an upper hand in the formerly British controlled areas; they also may find the same results the foreign Sunnis have had in al Anbar. It took awhile for Sunni resentment to boil over in al Anbar so it may take that with the Shiites in the south, Basra in particular.

In the absence of so much violence some of the essential services are beginning to improve, that alone may make a large difference in how tolerant Iraqis are about their neighbors creating heat with the Americans. While it may seem a materialistic sort of reasoning, it is a bit more difficult to support or tolerate people whose actions take you from having some garbage removal back to none, as well as other services. They also will not tolerate for long having just some services, analyzing on that basis is pretty problematic.

This is where the lack of political solutions or any real political activity and high levels of corruption are going to cause havoc. Life problems have got to be addressed in a real manner, these people have had four years of absolute hell and they're not going to be very patient (not that they are anyhow). If there is no evidence of power sharing and problems continue in just trying to live there is going to be backlash. Cleaning up corruption will cause backlash from the supporter of those gaining from the corruption (Mahdi Army in particular) and yet leaving it go will cause backlash; when things are this messy the chances of any course working well diminish.

Every day that Americans are viewed as occupiers increases the potential for explosive violence. While a recent firefight resulting in an intelligence coup regarding importation of foreign fighters has had an effect on "random" violence; that information has a shelf-life, as it becomes more dated and new circles are built that importation will recover. It will recover faster and more virulently with active dislike for American presence, through no more than simple tolerance for its existence. Current troop levels are not sustainable; there simply are not enough troops to keep it up, this means that whatever damping effect is happening through troop presence will not continue on that basis. If no other basis is found the results could easily be reversed. Those who find expanded violence in their interest now have concrete examples of how to provoke it and then stoke it. Neither the willingness nor the materials have evaporated for those people.

What the Iraqi forces can accomplish is an open question, some few units have proven to be capable, others are so infiltrated with sectarians and partisans as to be a danger to both the civilians and Americans, and finally a large number are simple incompetent for the job, for many reasons. Iraqis finding themselves under the discipline of the latter two categories might reasonably opt for an entirely different solution - and a violent one.

I would actually like to go the BushCo dead-enders one better, no we're not just winning; we've now won, bring them all home and we'll have that parade you were planning for 3 years ago. I don't even care if George II hangs a Mission Accomplished banner from the White House portico, as long as there are no flight suits and ships involved.

Combat correspondent Michael Yon is an independent reporter, seems important to one of my readers that he is linked.

Tucker Carlson and Dennis Kucinich

A comment on The Media Mob's discussion of Tucker Carlon's possible lack of a future on MSNBC led to this Utube of Carlson and Kucinich:

Now many of us have watched the media make light of Kucinich's personal appearance and that of his tall attractive wife, of his having seen an UFO, "emphasis on unidentified," and in general disparaging his stances as "kookiness." Since Dennis had the "nerve" to say "which part of not for profit single payer health care don't you understand" in front of the nation anything from him gets that kind of treatment. Whether or not I agree with Dennis on firearms and the 2nd Amendment or not, the media's dismissal of Kucinich as some kind of kooky light weight leads them to underestimate the man. Tucker made the same mistake. I've never thought Tucker Carlson had a lot of ammunition for an intellectual dispute, but he could have had a lot more than he's got and still come up real short versus Dennis.

When you watch those seven Democrats on stage it is easy to forget that Dennis Kucinich may easily be the smartest person on the stage. I did not say most accomplished politician, I said smartest. He is an 11 year veteran of the US House from Ohio's 10th which is primarily Cleveland, not much known as a bastion of left wing politics. He wins. Dennis Kucinich has a lot of practice advancing and defending his ideas. Oddly enough, while in this period he seems hopelessly left fringe not all that long ago his thinking would have been mainstream left, just out of the theoretical middle. Maybe Dennis is a man out of his time, or maybe this time is just out of joint. One thing is certain, the media's treatment of a man as accomplished and intelligent as Dennis is nothing short of disgraceful.

I may have enough substantive differences with Dennis Kucinich to find another candidate to support, but I have real respect for him. I'd suggest the media take some time to re-think their attitude.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Political Civility

Another place I used to write for had reader regularly accuse me of incivility in the political arena - generally ascribed to my being a left loon - and I really did very little to dissuade them of the idea. There is a reason for incivility beyond being generally overwrought, it also the action of calling a thing what it is, a lie is a lie; a person engaging in that conduct is a liar. That is something considerably different than arguing a point regarding the benefits of small government versus large active government. If that one stirs you into throwing rude adjectives and adverbs all around, you need a hobby. You may not convince a dedicated opponent, but there are a lot of folks out there who aren't dedicated, they're looking for information and a persuasive argument - chances are a bunch of frothing at the mouth ain't that.

When Mitt Romney stood up in a debate and stated an absolute falsehood regarding UN Inspectors, never corrected it, and wasn't corrected by any of the others I lost my mind. He made an untrue statement in order to justify a policy, it was his linch pin, and even when called out for it later made some comment about context. Why you lying sack, the context was that it bolstered your policy - it was not taken "out of context" - other than it wasn't debate night when you were called on it. That is not a policy difference, I could have lived with that and not gotten real basic with language. We do no one a service when we allow or downplay this kind of thing.

George Bush and his administration have lied to the American people. Some try to make the case that the WMD intelligence was flawed, maybe some of it was, but there were great gobs of garbage that they knew was just that. They continue to get away with it because they're not called on the garbage, a relative handful of people call the lies just that, but the media maintains civility. They just cannot work up to stating plain facts with plain words. When Cheney states months after it's been disproven that Saddam was tied to al Qeada and 9/11 it is not a misstatement, it is an out and out lie. Nobody stood up and said, "Why that's a bald faced lie," not one. This stuff isn't spin, it isn't mistakes, it is lying.

Halliburton didn't "over-charge," they committed theft, they are thieves not some confused corporation. They were forced to pay back money, they didn't offer it, it was taken back. Now just exactly why criminal charges weren't levied might have to do with connections rather than facts.

There is a difference between pussy-footing around language and civility. It is entirely uncivil to ridicule Dennis Kucinich for being short and homely and having a tall beautiful wife, it's the same thing to pick on Rudy for having some gay friends or too many marriages. It is not uncivil to call Rudy an authoritarian, that's what his policies are, but to call him names is another thing. I don't find any personal connection to the man, politics aside, but I won't make an issue of it. My personal taste in personalities is not an issue, whether I find a candidate likable or a complete s***head is not germane to anything other than whether I'd choose to spend time around them.

I am not going to refer to illegal immigrants and immigrants with the same term of immigrant, it is inaccurate and lumps together people who should not be lumped. I am not going to call voting in violation of the oath to support and defend the Constitution of the US something other than treason, whatever Party. No end is served by calling things by other names than what is accurate. It is not civility, it is participation in the degradation of our system.

It would be entirely uncivil to make a large deal out of public official's sexual orientation or "misadventures" like getting caught up in a prostitution prosecution, it would be if their public life wasn't to a great extent defined by their puritanical political policies. It isn't the sex that's the issue, it is the public hypocrisy, another form of lying. I call the President George II and his administration BushCo because they are demonstrably true short-hands, there are a heck of a lot of names I don't call him. I don't call him those despite his bullying tendency to make "pet names" for his sycophants who evidently tolerate that behavior.

I don't call people traitors for having a difference of opinion on a direction to take regarding Iraq, I think BushCo is making us much less safe, I believe they're getting troops torn up and civilians killed to no good point, but I don't call them traitors. People who torture in the name of this government or direct it are criminals and a disgrace to the nation. I can't think of any interest served to play at naming it a crime.

There are two major parties in this country, the Democratic and the Republican Parties, nothing is served by making rude or mocking names out of either. No matter what your political bent you are perfectly aware that there are fine people who belong to one or the other Party.

There is plenty of rudeness in the political arena today, there are plenty of enemies where there need be none and much of that behavior has generated real anger and it is time to stop that. There is no reason whatever that Congressmen from opposing views cannot sit down and have drinks after work other than the nonsense that goes on. I can think of lots of reasons why I wouldn't sit down with a liar or thief, but those really are in short supply and that's the shame of it. People who should be shunned by all aren't and political opponents are. The problem isn't a lack of civility in politics, it is the misapplication that's the problem. There are things worth fighting over and there are also things worth disagreeing over and there is a difference and it is important to recognize it.

If Your Thanksgiving Missed Perfection

by a notch or two, you realy need to go here and laugh.

Yep, that's all...

Architectural Wonders?

photo Peter Farrel/Miami Herald
So, how do you like this architecture?
So What
Connected free polls

These bare concrete buildings started appearing in the late 1950s and had their strongest influence in the '60s to '70s They had the benefit of low maintenance and straightforward construction techniques that allowed for unusual shapes. These buildings are beginning to reach 50 years of age which is where as architect Jan Hochstim told The Miami Herald

"The problem is, we get attached to buildings that are more than 50 years old. Until that time, no one pays attention to them.''

Some people call them concrete monsters, some people find them excellent buildings finely executed. Since I have such an eclectic readership of unsurpassed quality I thought I'd have you make a judgement.

Oh, don't worry you won't bring on wrecking balls or historical societies...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

How To Profit From War, Parsons Corp

Maybe you remember a slight difficulty in Iraq with a Police Academy, one that had crumbling walls and sewage running from the ceilings and walls? The name of the US contractor who had charge of that $72 million project was Parsons Corporation. The NYT reported 11/06/07 that the 'problems' had yet to be rectified. Parsons seems entirely overwrought with remorse:
A company spokeswoman, Erin Kuhlman, said that Parsons, which is based in Pasadena, Calif., had strictly abided by the terms of the contract it had received from the United States Army Corps of Engineers to do the work at the academy.

“Parsons completed its work at the Baghdad Police College in the spring of 2006,” Ms. Kuhlman said, adding that the Army Corps accepted the work as completed at about the same time.
It seems that in July of '06 the Army wasn't happy with sewage running out the ceilings. Parsons put them in contact with the Iraqi subcontractor. In July and August of '06 the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, an independent agency led by Stuart W. Bowen Jr. took a look and was distinctly unhappy, finding “indications of potential fraud” and oversight by the Army Corp and Parsons to have virtually nonexistent.

Folks, I'm a contractor, nowhere in Parson's universe, and I know that you almost have to try to make this big a mess. This is a training academy not a 5 star hotel or mansion, it is not that difficult. There are ways screw it up this bad and they generally involve cheating.

On Sept. 28, 2006, as the inspector general’s report was released, Earnest O. Robbins II, a senior vice president at Parsons, testified before the House Government Reform Committee that the company would fix the problems at no extra charge. “We are repairing it at no cost to the government,” Mr. Robbins said in response to questions by Representative Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland.
On the Sunday previous to this 11/6/07 news report :

the American officer affiliated with the new project to repair the problems described an elaborate and costly effort to tear out and replace the plumbing on entire floors. The problems were so severe, the officer said, that the military had also been obliged to build new latrines outside and demolish some structures entirely and start over.

“These buildings are all Parsons-built,” said the officer. “The piping is bad. It really is. To be honest with you, it’s raw sewage, raw fecal matter coming out of the walls.”
Now if you've started to wonder if war is good for business and if they think it is there are some clues available as to their thinking, little deals like FEC filings, say Parsons starting in 2000 when there was no war to profit from

All Federal Candidates:
2000 $75,250 (38% to Democrats, 60% to Republicans)
2002 $130,500 (43% to Democrats, 57% to Republicans)
2004 $270,500 (50% to Democrats, 50% to Republicans)
2006 $417,050 (49% to Democrats, 50% to Republicans)
2008 $209,000 (61% to Democrats, 39% to Republicans) to date
Numbers courtesy Open Secrets

Now it seems that not too long after the BushCo started to make it clear that they'd like to outsource government it became important to influence thinking as much as possible. Now '04 was a Presidential cycle, but it sure seemed awfully important, not to mention that the war started in '03. The '06 cycle didn't involve any Presidential campaigns ( in '04 $0 went to Democratic Presidential) but there sure was profit to be made from death and destruction and governmental largess with the kind of oversight that Stuart Bowen found so "useful."

There's a $45 billion reconstruction project turkey to cut up in Iraq, in '04 Parsons had contracts worth up to $800 million. By 6/06 the Army Corp had cancelled a $99.1 million contract for a prison that was 1 year behind schedule, weeks after a $300 million contract to build clinics and hospitals was canceled for non-performance.

So, it's worth pretty big bucks to candidates to get work worth a lot of money but the doing of it seems not quite as worthwhile. We need some more of this, let's be sure to elect the same mindset to Congress and President, Parsons would be appreciative...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

When You Do A Toss-off Post -" What Happened" Happened

I don't ordinarily do this sort of thing, just on occasion I find something that is pretty darn interesting but doesn't have enough recent content to drive a lot of words, or sometimes I'm just too confounded angry to go any farther. So early in the day I found Scott McClelland's book release announcement and a blurb I thought was interesting. There just wasn't very much there other than an opportunity to re-hash stuff that'd been hashed half to death and couldn't possibly be of much interest to my readers, so I block quoted his excerpt and had a short comment about it and let it go...

Some accident of wording put me at the head of Google's search for Scott McClelland and all kinds of combinations of him and his book title and then coincidentally TV news jumped all over the story. End result was a lot of hits coming in off Google, enough that within the next hour or so this site will have double its previous daily high traffic. Exactly correct, long meaningful posts with links in off big blogs have driven previous highs, along with some Google hits but even being published on major news outlets couldn't compete with a couple big blogs liking something and now...

A toss-off post. An accidental find because I have an eye and about 10 minutes of ... toss off, and this site's biggest day ever, by a factor of 100%. All I can do is shake my head.


Since this is going into its second day and will probably surpass yesterday, I'd like to make something clear - that Scott wrote the excerpt at all is what is news. What is explosive in saying that I was the White House Press Secretary and I said what my bosses wanted said? The people he worked for are the people he names, as telling him what to say - we all knew that didn't we? Did somebody think he went out on a limb and just said this stuff? I didn't see much there at the time I wrote it, and I still don't - and sure GWB & CO Inc aren't far up my hero list.


There's a saving grace in my embarrassment, some folks moved off the single page and looked around so maybe they'll come back. Boy is this stupid, darn it, I have done some good work that took some real time and thought...

I guess if you're reading this you got here deliberately so I don't mind sharing my embarrassment with you.

As a real side note, nothing ever posted on this site compares with the gun posts for total numbers over time, 45-70 Govt Ruger No 1 is king, followed by Remington 12 Ga Side by Side Coach Gun, and Ruger Bisley Vaquero in 45 Colt, heck of a thing on a lefty blog, eh?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Support the Troops

This is not something new, I just had no idea this was still going on. Get hurt in combat and be unable to finish your tour and the DOD wants back the portion of the signing bonus matching your unfinished tour.

I'm used to finding myself actually angry about this BushCo Administration, but this time around I want to hurt somebody. There's no whom there, though, so I'm stuck with a feeling I haven't had for a really long time, and I don't like it, one bit.


No Religious Test

US Constitution
"Article VI.
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

You would think the words of the Constitution were fairly clear, and as far as laws currently in effect it is, but the spirit of this Article is clearly ignored. It is ignored by elected officials, candidates, the press, Parties, and voters. There were very real concrete reasons this Article was included, far beyond some "la-la land" philosophy of Deists. Just to be very clear, that philosophy was deeply distrustful of organized religion. The violations of the spirit are beyond doubt, not a single current candidate for President has not made their faith a matter of public pronouncement and a measure of qualification for office. Not a single one. No large media that I know of has not made this a matter of reporting and analysis. Parties have established study groups and policy aims groups to address appealing to this issue. Voter analysis shows faith to be a large determinant in vote preference. So, other than the actual issuance of a law, the First Law of the US is obviously ignored.

There are very practical outcomes to ignoring what was obviously intended to not only cover legal restrictions but also to set a tone for behavior. The influence of the Religious Right goes beyond the interests of individual voters when religious organizations vet candidates. The political debate spins out of control when the validity of candidates' faith becomes an issue. What is most disturbing is the effect of having candidates and officials pass pronouncement on religious laws.

The behavior of all participants leads to voter confusion over the role of religion in government and even in the founding of government. The extent of this confusion goes so deep that I found myself in a Letters to Ed debate with an intelligent educated neighbor who had asserted that Thomas Jefferson was a Christian. In order to keep a public embarrassment from occurring I went by his home with a copy of Jefferson's collected writings carefully bookmarked and lent it to him with a recommendation that he go ahead and read the entire thing. Less than a week later a letter of retraction and apology to me appeared in the paper. Citizens are led to believe thing that are factually untrue; regardless of religion or philosophy that is dangerous. While the politicians and religious leaders are engaging in this behavior the Press, with it's inherent implied responsibilities under its 1st Amendment protection, acts as cheerleader. They actually acknowledged the existence of Article VI during the flap about Rep Ellingson's oath of office, and that is the extent to my memory.

Does anybody believe that Mitt Romney's Mormonism would have been attacked if there wasn't a religious test? Or that assertions that ****'s religion is a bastion of ignorance would be made? Or that ...? We have thrown the most unprovable and unverifiable of all human systems into the middle of qualifications to hold public office and damn near everybody gleefully participates. What really really ticks me off is finding that all this public debate and approbation around religion puts me in the position of feeling like I have to defend my friends of varying faiths or non-faiths. This is absolute nonsense in the United States of America.

The most infuriating part of this garbage is what is really the core of the debate; what are the policies of candidates and officials? I don't care if the Supreme Flying Pumpkin advocates universal health care, I want to know if the person in question does. I don't want to know what the candidate thinks the Bible says, I want to know what he proposes to do. Here's a news flash for all you religious debaters, it makes not one particle of difference if a policy comes from the Bible or Koran or the Moon Goddess, the policy itself matters. Unless you are sufficiently ignorant to believe that a person can have no moral and philosophical compass without a particular interpretation of a particular Book the religion question is meaningless. If a person tells you their policies and ethics you are free to believe or disbelieve them and agree or disagree, but trying to hang those on a Religion coat hook is ridiculous.

I've never cared about anything more than a person's character and that character is demonstrated by what they do and what they attempt to do and how they make the attempt. Quite obviously what they say is tied up in all that, but what religion has to do with any of that I am completely mystified by. It is quite possible for a person to have closely reflected the philosophies of a religion without ever practicing or professing that religion. Because person "A's " religion advocates giving to the poor does not mean that person "B" gives to the poor because of it, it simply means that "B" thinks it is a right and proper course of action. It also does not mean that because person "A" professes to belong to a religion which advocates giving to the poor that "A" has anything to do with it. We are engaging in stupidity of the first order and it is exactly what the Constitution was trying to avoid.

Scott McClelland, "What Happened"

A May 28, 2008 post on Scott McClelland that has a bit more current relevance since this is a November 2007 article. I can't help that Google still like this old one.

Publisher Public Affairs offers an excerpt from Scott McClelland's new book about his tenure as George II's Press Secretary, What Happened :

The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.
There was one problem. It was not true.

I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President's chief of staff, and the president himself.

Scott, I think there's a problem with the title you might want to fix before it hits the streets, it needs a "?" at the end.

I'll actually try, at this point, to be nice to the man. Of the front men for this presidency, Scott McClelland was the most likable in that he honestly seemed to try to give the press corps the truth and was uncomfortable dodging questions and didn't try to cover foot dragging with jocular "we're all pals here" condescension or manufactured anger. He did his job but at times he clearly didn't like how he was having to do it.

I don't know if I'll spend the money for is book, $27.95 publish date 4/21/08, I think I'll wait for some reviews - I could buy my wife a pretty nice dinner out for that price, and I'm sure I like her.

I think, at this point, that this is a storm in a tea cup.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Cleveland Plain Dealer, Journalism and Blogging - A Collision

I have to thank Pressthink for bringing the Cleveland Plain Dealer's experiment in melding traditional newspapering with blogging, Wide Open , and its demise to my attention. "Wide Open" was composed of four compensated freelance Ohio bloggers, two liberal and two conservative, recruited from the best of Ohio political blogs. The idea was to bring some of the "wide open" atmosphere of blogs to a traditional newspaper site, something important to newspapers facing declining readership. Such a proposal brought with it some pitfalls that seemed to miss everybody.

One of the liberal bloggers made a contribution to Rep Steve LaTourette's (R-OH 14) opponent and LaTourette didn't think much of the idea. The PD told the offending blogger to not write about either candidate - he resigned, the other half of the liberal team quit in solidarity and that was pretty much the end of it. The Plain Dealer's problem was that they, by virtue of the stipend, could be linked to the blogger and his contribution and that somehow involved them in, lobbying or something partisan. Jay Rosen at Pressthink wrote a detailed analysis, I'm going to be a bit shorter, after all he's the professional and has done the work already - and my opinion isn't quite in line with his, very close, but not quite.

Newspapers have problems dealing with the world of the internet, Jay has some really excellent work on this, and while they're scrambling to address them they are stuck with institutionalized thinking and policies. The "up-front" problem that hit the PD is what strikes me, many bloggers follow the etiquette of linking and disclosures and most aren't paid, or if they are it doesn't amount to much so they tend to be free of institutional pressures. Journalists get paychecks. Newspapers make much of their neutrality, bloggers tend to mix it up.

I getting around to a point...

There is an inherent honesty in blogging as it stands, we just tell you what we think and you're pretty darn sure we have an agenda and if we're disclosing it - you know. Newspapers make great claims to objectivity, you'd darn near expect that if someone asserted that 2+2=4 they'd find someone to make a counter argument, and it is nonsense. The Washington Post and the Washington Times exist in the same city - if not the same reality - and there wouldn't be two papers if objectivity existed. Yes, some are a bit more than others but it only boils down to a degree of bias rather than its existence.

Newspapers have one obvious agenda, their profit, and possibly a corporate owner's profit, which is rather powerful as incentives go. But it goes much deeper than that, the writers have to have researched their articles and that process involves thinking about it and making decisions which inevitably leaves the writer with an opinion on the merits. I have pointedly not posted in detail on the Merkley and Novick campaigns for the Democratic senatorial primary because I don't wish to make a public decision at this point and doing that work would influence me into it. I want to sit back and watch for awhile. I want to be free to just think about it for awhile. A newspaper doesn't have that luxury, they have to report, and take a shot at being even-handed, but it will fail. There is some journalistic blogging out there but you will detect the slant the writer takes, because that is just how it is going to be.

Now something about political bloggers needs to be mentioned, they do this stuff for free - or very nearly - and they do it because they care. Expecting someone who cares enough to spend this kind of time on something and not be politically active doesn't indicate two live brain cells in communication with each other, and telling them they can't write about something they care enough to be active in is a recipe for...well...a resignation or two and the death of what could have been a pretty darn smart move. And over a pretence, because that is exactly all that the public protestations of newspapers are.

If Fox News opened every broadcast with, "Rupert owes his US media empire to the Bush family and we're Republican shills - so here's our version of the news," instead of "Fair and Balanced" nobody would throw rocks at them and call them FauxNews. Keith Olberman gets away with being the way he is because he makes no pretence about it and even as NBC gets whacked by BillO for trending leftward, they won't publicly own up to trying to get back off the right toward the theoretical middle while a safe bet would be that most of their writers would be more comfortable well left of today's middle. The point is that disclosure defuses arguments of bias and lets even handedness be honestly attempted.

So, yes Plain Dealer, you should have had a disclosure policy for the bloggers, but the failures and shortcoming in this issue are yours and the supposed neutrality you require and let the public think exists and whiners like LaTourette to complain about.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Flip Flop

***This is a guest piece***

By Steve Culley

The most amazing thing came out of the democratic debate in Las Vegas. When asked, “do you favor driver’s licenses for illegal aliens?”, Hillary Clinton gave a very concise “no” answer.
A little background is in order to illuminate why this answer shows that even though you might think you are wasting your time being an activists you can change the world or at least the course of national history. As some who pay a little bit of attention might recall, we had a great big immigration fight last spring in congress over open borders George’s proposal to legalize the invasion of this country. I referred to it as “comprehensive amnesty” while GWB and the democrats referred to it as “comprehensive immigration reform” so the illegal, undocumented, aliens could come out of the shadows and do jobs Americans won’t do, because they just want to feed their families, and no person is illegal, so they can go to the back of the line and apply for citizenship, before they petition the rest of their family to come too, while the Minute Men, Oregonians for Immigration Reform, Numbers USA and a host of others called it by the true name of invasion while democrats assured us we need to celebrate diversity because we are a nation of immigrants and it is really Mexican territory anyway and yada yada yada to quote Seinfeld.

It was a dog and pony show with the corporate globalist using all the spin they could to convince the average Joe that what’s good for big business is good for him, even if it means outsourcing his job while importing someone who will compete for his new lower paying one. And some might have noticed that the democrats formed a symbiotic relationship with open borders George. You couldn’t slide a piece of paper between them and GWB. Almost all of them were stuck like glue to George. Makes me wonder why people still think they actually don’t like George. GWB is the best president Mexico ever had and the democrats in the senate are the best senators Mexico ever had. Chief among them was Hillary Clinton, all for a path to citizenship, no border fences, quit harassing illegals by raids, easy voter registration etc. Then two weeks ago she was asked about New York governor Elliot Spitzer’s attempt to give out the same drivers licenses to illegal aliens as citizens and she was all for it. That was before Luo Dobbs lead the charge against it and there was serious talk of recalling Spitzer. Hillary’s poll numbers started to drop like a rock and she flip flopped for a week before the Clinton machine turned up the heat on the poor governor and he pulled his proposal. Hillary is now a tough on illegal aliens gal.

Seems like the democrats and Hillary got the message. Americans are fed up with the corporate sanctioned invasion of this country. Illegal immigration is an issue whether the mainstream media wants to acknowledge it or not. Oregon will hold a primary election too and our governor seems to have taken a call from party headquarters. It seems like the illegal alien question tends to hurt democrats. After doing absolutely nothing about illegal immigration in Oregon, in fact actually aiding and abetting the invasion by handing out drivers licenses to illegals and prohibiting the police from being involved in immigration, the governor signed an executive order requiring some kind of proof of citizenship to get a drivers license. Your social security number should match. What a concept! The 175,000 illegal aliens we have now might be inconvenienced but the democratic party machine might be inconvenienced even more.

So Hillary gave straight forward answer to the question. She said “no”. She is against giving drivers licenses to illegal aliens. At least until she is in the White House, at which time I suspect we will again have a comprehensive immigration amnesty plan. Actually if the Republicans nominate the male version of Hillary, Rudolph Giuliani , we will still have a comprehensive amnesty invasion. They both have more immigration positions than a fresh caught trout. If the press would ask Hillary and Rudy more questions about NAFTA and their positions on gun rights it ought to get real interesting. You could see some synchronized flip flopping. It might become an Olympic event.

I would rather have a rattlesnake as a room mate in my house than either one of them as president in the White House.
I always say ballots before bullets but Tom Jefferson kept his options open.

***As a note, I spell check and paragraph these guest posts, I do not mess with them***


It seems any more that you can find an online program to analyze just about any darn thing. This purports to be a "Readability Test" that can be applied to blogs - and newspapers and other media. I found this item through John Cole's Balloon Juice , I have not included the htmlbox since it contains some "other" stuff. Suffice it to say, I have a pretty smart audience since this site is rated at:

College Level - Post Graduate

Of course this kind of thing doesn't look at whether it makes any sense at all, it is concerned with words and sentence length rather than intelligence. Give with one hand and take away with the other - you can read big words but that doesn't mean you have any sense...

Pah, I say you're a smart sensible bunch and that's what counts ;-)

(oh yeah, Balloon Juice got Junior High School and I think it's an outstanding blog)

The Death Penalty and Deterrence

The recent Supreme Court moratorium on lethal injection executions has brought back to the fore the argument about whether the death penalty is a deterrent. The individual executed is certainly deterred but the effect on the broader population seems to be the question; and that question is central to the debate over capital punishment. In the 1976 ruling that reinstated capital punishment Justice Potter Stewart wrote for three of the majority that while the studies of the time were inconclusive, “the death penalty undoubtedly is a significant deterrent.”

The NYT notes the new controversy involves studies done over the past decade primarily by economists showing a significant deterrence and studies primarily in law journals debating that. While it may seem odd for an economist to study the death penalty the models for measuring an effect are based on economics - "To economists, it is obvious that if the cost of an activity rises, the amount of the activity will drop." Lawyers point out that while the studies seem broad, one looked at 3054 counties over 20 years, the actuality is that there are only a few death cases and executions, in 2003 there were 153 death penalties and 65 executions, about one in 300 homicides results in a death penalty so the chances of receiving one for a murder are rather slim.

The economist's models attempted to account for varying crime rates, conviction rates and other factors and came up with murders declining as executions climbed. Various studies have indicated between 3 and 18 lives saved per execution. However,

“Deterrence cannot be achieved with a half-hearted execution program,” Professor Shepherd of Emory wrote in the Michigan Law Review in 2005. She found a deterrent effect in only those states that executed at least nine people between 1977 and 1996.
The facts surrounding prison life may have more of a deterrent effect,

A 2003 paper by Lawrence Katz, Steven D. Levitt and Ellen Shustorovich published in The American Law and Economics Review found a “a strong and robust negative relationship” between prison conditions, as measured by the number of deaths in prison from any cause, and the crime rate. The effect is, the authors say, “quite large: 30-100 violent crimes and a similar number or property crimes” were deterred per prison death.
The math doesn't seem to be quite as clear as it does at first blush, questions remain as to whether murders are actually capable of making those rational calculations, and worse considering the solution rate for murder and then the number of death penalties imposed if the calculation might fall on the side of murder. When things like criminal thinking errors (I'll never get caught), obsessions, passions, greed, and a host of other mental malfunctions get tossed into the mix one really has to wonder if fear of execution has much to do with anything.

Some folks like to do the trade game of one life, the executed, for many and in terms of a dead murderer saving several lives it seems almost reasonable. There is the little matter of the state killing a helpless human being after having them contemplate that idea for some extended period of time. There is to me not only the wrongness of the act, but the worse attribute of the responsibility being spread amongst all the citizens who are so divorced from the actual deed. There is the final horror of the whole thing, humans and their systems are not infallible, some innocents will be in the mix and once you have been a part of that, you are not one iota different from the most cold blooded of killers, considering all that goes with an execution.

This nation should be able to come up with a workable alternative to capital punishment, but .then there are a lot of things we really ought to be able to come up with...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

"Chuck for," Publishing, Technorati,Rankings, and Advertising

I put up a post awhile back about being published over the last 6 months and I've commented elsewhere about my rankings - not much - and I've just sort of cruised along. In Oregon Blognet News I pop in and out of the top twenty most influential, most of its residents stay pretty regularly. Over the past year Techorati has had me at an "Authority Ranking" of 24 and "Favorite It" of 341,00something - for comparison "Middle Earth Journal" has an "Authority" of 220, well, I've moved this last week an AR of 29 and Favorite of 283,266. Six months ago I wasn't on BNN's radar at all other than listed and had never been published. What this comes down to is some modicum of success at being noticed, and maybe being paid attention to.

I told my wife this and her reaction was, "Does it pay money?" No. Not without advertising it doesn't, or a publishing contract which I don't foresee. I can place advertising on the site and I can put a donations box on as well; I don't think I will. Economically speaking, my readership is too small to amount to much if any income and then there is the issue of why I do this. I do this because I'd like you to think about things and react. I make you this gift of my thinking and time because it is important to think about things, if you disagree with me on a topic you've had to think about it to get there and if you agree you've still had to follow my reasoning and that's still thinking. This is why I don't do the blurb thing much - "this is cool - link" and the reason is that I've thought about it and while I'd like you to go see the original; I'm telling you my analysis of it. That's not a two sentence deal.

Yes, please go see the originals - follow my links - somebody did work and has a job and I've piggybacked off that. Newspapers need circulation to support reporters and journalists and some bloggers need rankings and advertisement clicks. I don't do this for a living, it's an avocation and I don't want to clutter up the site with ads or appeals for bucks, you pay no more than the effort to click in and read - well, and think. But please do think about it, read what is there not what you feel is and then do something with it. Contribute to campaigns, write letters to editors and politicians, tell your friends what you're thinking, maybe get involved in a political party. Most of what ails this country is disconnect.

We don't talk about, write about, or get involved in issues, most of us are busy just trying to get by. Jobs, house, family, and just things in general get in the way. Or, like this week for me, a killer cold laid me out. I'm not well, but I can think coherently today. So, this site will stay free, I won't have to worry about what I write impacting on my income, it doesn't go down from none. And by the way, thanks for coming around.

Sen Vitter and the DC Madam

Things got , um, uncomfortable for Sen David Vitter (R-LA) this spring when his phone number showed up in Deborah Jeane Palfrey's phone records of clients - or johns as the government alleges. On Tue, Nov 13, things got a bit more messy for him, he was served with a subpoena from Palfrey's attorney for testimony for the defense. The "conservative Christian" legislator has been keeping a very low profile.

I'm not sure if my views on prostitution are very liberal or libertarian, other than protection of the workers and customer I can't see why it is any government's business, but apparently Sen Vitter thinks all kinds of sex and marriage are the government's business. While I don't care if he or somebody other than myself and wife use prostitutes or other outside marriage "encounters", his wife seems to. This creates an issue, an issue of "private" behavior at odds with legislative behavior.

This is where I draw the line over jumping on some body's back, do not put yourself in a position of telling Americans what to do by legislating morality, first, and secondly don't even behave as if the positions you advocate are right for the common folks but inapplicable to you elite. While social order may be the government's business, morality is not. But that does not begin to address the hypocrisy of legislating "Protection of Marriage" while behaving outside the supposed ends. Either this sort of legislation is cynical vote pandering by people who don't believe it for a second or they are advocates of special consideration for "special" people - or, gee, both. This makes Vitter, at best, a hypocrite, take it from there.

The reasons government has no business legislating morality are not too complicated, the most obvious being the mix of morality and religion and law; the other and most damning is the morality of government itself. While politicians make personal statement regarding their morality or religion what government does is create laws and enforce them, enforce being the word that causes a real problem in this discussion. A law is not a suggestion, it is a rule backed with force, an armed force. Laws are forced upon the people with guns, batons, handcuffs, jails, and confiscation of property, whatever trappings of judicial justice are used, if you don't play by the rules and get caught you get crushed. A law is supposed to be an agreement between citizens about maintaining social order, a method of allowing us to live in close proximity without much bloodshed, but social order is something other than morality and morality maintained at point of a gun is scarcely moral. Most moral and religious systems have proscriptions of murder, as a wrong thing, government proscribes it because the social system breaks down if murder becomes common place and an ordinary tool for problem solving. The government's attitude is not one of morality but one of system management.

People tend to insist that our government is based on moral principles, Judeo/Christian principles; mostly because they like what it does and doesn't do; but several pieces of our founding law, the Constitution, provide specific mechanisms for behavior most Christianity considers immoral. The First Amendment not only protects religion and assembly, it also protects speech and press. It shouldn't be too difficult to find speech and media that offends Christians. The Second Amendment is even more troublesome, it protects the militia and an armed citizenry and arms are not decorations - even though they are nice for poking holes in paper and hunting - their primary purpose is killing humans and that is frowned upon by most religious and moral systems. Christians, in particular, need to be careful in this regard; while their book has been used to justify wars and self-defense, their religion's namesake's most violent act was knocking over some tables and his quoted statements involve pacifism not anything else.

Senator Vitter, you need to be sent home to retirement from public business, you are a hypocrite, a cheat (by you wife's own public statements), and a power monger. You suck even more than the usual Republican power thief. The only function you and Larry Craig serve is as a reminder to the American public just what you morality legislators really are.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Kevin Mannix Is Worth A Lot Of Bucks To...

Freedom Works. Hart Williams has done some astonishingly good work researching and reporting on conservative and libertarian causes, and most amusingly freaked out Sean Hannity. Now he's got Kevin Mannix in his sights and if you have anything shaky going on that's not a good thing. The 2006 tax return shows $268,650 for “Legal services” paid to Kevin Mannix by Freedom Works Foundation, it is interesting that in 2005 he was worth $200,089 as a political consultant. Nearly a half million dollars in two years? Freedom Works ( Inc and Foundation) are essentially petition mills and advertising shills.

Since I actually labor for money I find it just a little offensive that running conservative petitions and advertising hit pieces is such a lucrative business that "contractors" like Mannix are worth that kind of money. I encourage you to spend some time on Hart's piece, there is a lot more there that it would be pointless to cut and paste into an article when Hart has done the work. Because Freedom Works (all of it) is a national organization there are circles within circles, something Hart is great at analyzing.

The Supreme Court and the Second Amendment

It has been since 1939 that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a Second Amendment case, that one was US vs. Miller regarding a sawed off shotgun. The case had been decided against Miller in appeals court and the Supremes agreed to hear it, Miller in the mean time died, leaving no appellant, a moot case. The Court has aggressively avoided hearing cases involving the 2nd, and for the most part firearms rights organizations have preferred legislative fights. This has of course lead to quite a bit of speculation regarding why this issue has stayed out of Court for so long. The Washington DC case may end this long dry spell.

A lawsuit sponsored by Robert A Levy was filed against Washington DC by Dick Anthony Heller a security guard at a building which houses the federal judiciary administrative offices. Heller carries a handgun at work, he had applied for and was denied a permit to keep the gun at home. This denial gave him legal standing as an appellant to contest an arbitrary denial of 2nd Amendment rights. The lawsuit alleged that the Second Amendment is an individual right while Washington DC takes the stance that the Second only applies to state militia service, that the limitations only apply to the federal government, and finally that a handgun ban is a reasonable restriction in the interest of public safety and health. The three judge US Court of Appeals for DC disagreed 2/1, asserting that the 2nd is an individual right which allows for reasonable restrictions on people such as felons but that DC's outright prohibition and refusal to grant permits is unconstitutional.

Both sides have been spoiling for this fight, now the Supreme Court will decide whether to hear the case or not, known now as District of Columbia v. Heller, No. 07-290. The Second Amendment:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The Framer's attempt to keep things simple with a single sentence did not anticipate the narrow arguments around language that has changed over the years and changes in culture. At the time the population could be described as primarily rural, in today's world most of the urban areas of the time would be regarded as rural, having a distinct effect on cultural outlooks. Another cultural aspect was the recent history of the Revolution and the rule of George III. The populace was quite familiar with the concept of a government expected to behave in one manner usurping the "ancient rights" of Englishmen. What the language of the time meant, what the writings surrounding ratification say, and what the English law antecedents say are not much in debate, the debate around the Second devolves into modern interpretation and agenda. This is a case where the use of specific language has caused confusion and the use of grammar rules well understood now opens the door to revisionism.

"Well regulated" was a military term meaning well equipped and turned out, today the term no longer is used in regard to military units, in fact only a single word "regulated" is used and that is in regard to bureaucratic rules being applied. Language has changed. The section of the 2nd regarding militias is a dependent clause which is used as a descriptive or explanatory phrase in a sentence regarding the independent clause which is the definitive meaning of the sentence. This usage is still recognized as proper grammar usage and sentence structure. This has not stopped the argument from being made that the dependent clause gives the states the right to arm their militia - the National Guard. Disregarding the incorrect grammatical interpretation of this clause as the operative wording this stance also ignores the definition of militia which was nearly all able-bodied free white men, not a State sanctioned military unit.

Over the years the Supreme Court has managed to avoid ruling on the Second, Miller was sent back to the Appeals Court and stood with the narrow definition of the Second being that the arms were of military utility and denying that a sawed off shotgun was such. Congress sidestepped the issue regarding full automatic weapons by passing a law which required a tax stamp, issued on payment and the meeting of essentially background check and also allowing Federal inspection of the weapon at the government's discretion - essentially a voluntary surrender of 4th Amendment rights. While this law is a discouragement to the ownership of that sort of firearm it is also not an infringement in the sense that an absolute ban is. An uncomfortable status quo was achieved. Firearm rights groups avoided having to take a criminal case to the Supremes, such a case has legal standing but would come to the Court from an uncomfortable direction, the current case involves a sympathetic appellant with legal standing.

The Supreme Court is now in a difficult position, if it refuses to hear the case the Appeals Court ruling stands and DC's handgun ban is overthrown, if it hears the case it must rule on the issue of individual right which has been the gun ban lobby's one refuge, unless the Supremes are willing to rule that public health and safety is so universally and inevitably at risk so as to trump a Constitutional guarantee. That is an extremely high hurdle to make and a demonstration that legal ownership is such a threat will be statistically very difficult. This is not a venue where the gun banners' media fueled emotional appeal based on the small percentages of devastation wreaked by legal possessors will carry much weight. This has obviously worked within legislative bodies and with a fair sized segment of the general population, but the Supreme Court is a bit different.

There are a multitude of reasons the Court has avoided this issue, public opinion and the interference with legislative bodies are all dissuasive reasons and rulings on very basic rights are of tremendous import, not ground the Supremes really care to tread. This is going to be interesting, and the fallout will be even more interesting.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Even More Blackwater?

If you thought shooting up a traffic circle and killing an Iraqi official's staff member would cost Blackwater much of anything you probably forgot to factor in BushCo cronyism and theocratic favoritism. Maybe a company that engages in murder and other corruptions ought to be barred from the federal bid process, or maybe the federal bid process ought not include items of a military action nature and national security actions, but under BushCo that is the case.

Blackwater (WSJ) is in the running for a federal contract to provide anti-drug training for the Defense Department. "Companies competing for the work might be called on to develop detection or surveillance technology; train U.S. and foreign forces; or provide logistics, communications and information-technology systems, among other areas." I'm astonished that it seems even remotely possible that Blackwater would get such a job. Well, truthfully, I can't see why the federal government would outsource such a mission to private contractors, there are all sorts of legal issues involved in such activities...oh, I forgot, private companies are more likely than the feds to respect law and order.

At what point does the contempt of BushCo for the division of government and business end? What levels of corruption and mismanagement will it take to drive home the message that there are things the government ought to actually run? One of the brags the Mussolini Fascistic blending of government and business could make was "that at least the trains run on time." In this version the only train running on time is the one carrying bags of taxpayer's money out of town. BushCo and the neocons call it the privatization of government, it is no such thing, if it were private in any sense of the word it would be competing in the open market to deliver services to the public, it is not. Does anybody buy the idea that Blackwater is not a wholly owned subsidiary of BushCo? If this were not so, then Blackwater could exist without the taxpayer largess heaped upon it. I will stop short of using the Nazi fascist model, the Fuhrer cult of personality is missing beyond the deadend 28%, but it is a perverted sort of Italian Fasciti operation.

Take a look at the prime contractors for the Fed and their political entanglements and influence, and see which would survive without Federal tax dollars and which are so intimate with the Feds that they are insulated from the consequences of their incompetence and corruption. The results of Dick Cheney's administration of Halliburton was to leave the company on the verge of bankruptcy - hardly so today - despite cheating on no-bid contracts serving US combat troops. Mercenary Blackwater thrives, contributes redistributed tax dollars right back into BushCo, while it murders and steals. GE thrives on government military contracts and runs mass media. I could go on and on, but why? Congress will do nothing and George II has another year and couple months to continue to rape the Treasury for his favorites and from the looks of it enough people seem to think Hillary is different. ahahahahah