Monday, July 30, 2007

Inevitible Decay

***Prevously posted on Middle Earth Journal***

There are two approaches to social interaction (politics): cooperative and competitive and the outcomes of the approaches are nearly inevitable. The choice of methodology is determined by character though it is frequently masked by ideology, religion, and other constructs. The differences in the approaches are basic, the cooperative sees government as a tool for improving the condition of fellow citizens and the competitive sees government as a referee. Those outlooks determine the scale of government, cooperative sees a large government as required and competitive sees small government as all that is required and that larger government interferes with and in the end obstructs the natural progress of market determination.


The size of government is not necessarily related to its power, power is different than reach. Reach involves the scope of governmental interest not its power which is a matter of enforcement methods and sanctions. A government of millions may have considerably less power than a government of thousands or it may have considerably more, size has little to do with the issue. The ability of government to interfere with the lives of its citizens is based on its legal constructs and American Constitutional government is severely limited in that regard.


The article title refers to the decay of the "permanent Republican majority." Within that very statement is the hubris that presages an implosion of an agenda. The irrational assumption is that what is being done that benefits "their" clique is so powerful an argument that even those who do not benefit will be persuaded; it is an unquestioning assumption. The good of the nation as a whole is defined by the narrow gauge of the success of those who thrive under the competitive model. That model contains some very questionable assumptions and appeals to some character qualities that do not fit well within governmental service.


The competitive model assumes that success defines itself, success is derived from smart hard work that is within the reach of any with the willingness. Amassing a fortune or winning an election or achieving an influential position are the outcomes of competition and thereby validate the methods utilized to reach the ends. This outlook can encourage some character defects or appeal to some with them, measuring success by a dollar scale or power reach scale will inevitably lead to corruption. A Congressman who drinks from that pool who is already greedy and egocentric will take bribes, will take advantage of position, will consider himself above the ordinary codes of conduct by right of success. An Administration that adheres to it will see cronyism as the natural outcome of their success, the very power of their clique justifies their special consideration in the awarding of contracts or positions in government. The fact that the rich are becoming richer and the poor, poorer is a natural outcome of competition. This feeds the circle, the success of the rich is assumed to be the good of the nation and thus to be encouraged and any structure that interferes is a detriment.


Using an inaccurate measuring stick guarantees a train wreck, a George W Bush sees his election and re-election as confirmation of his moral authority and his governmental model which justifies his actions. Whatever over-reach is justified by the fact of success in competition, the winning confirms the rightness and fitness of actions. Because ideas are not concrete and cannot be measured by concrete determinants they are devalued, this encourages only policies of action and quick results. Saddam Hussein's Iraq could be militarily smashed in short order, a problem occurs at the end of that conquest, the considered and thoughtful policies required to rebuild and stabilize an entirely foreign culture are neglected. The even larger problem was the inclination that popularizing a war sufficiently to wage it justified the methods of popularization. If propaganda works it must be alright because it beat the competing policy.


At some point the losers in the process will object, they will not only object to losing but also to the corruption involved and that is as fatal politically as possible. Hubris and entitlement are not tied to a political party, but they are the natural outcome of the philosophy of success as a measure of good. There is good to be found in competition, it encourages innovation and effort when practiced with restraint on a level field, but when it becomes the arbiter it fails.


If we lose sight of the fact that the means define the ends and define the actors we begin down the road to corruption and authoritarianism. If you lie, no matter what the ends, you are a liar and the end is a product of lies and corrupted by the process. America's Iraq adventure will fail, the mold was set by the illegitimate justification, none of the players, domestically or Iraqi can escape from the complete lack of WMDs, everyone involved is a byproduct of that fact. al Maliki cannot escape the fact that his existence as PM is due to an American conquest based on a falsehoods, opposition militias justify their bloodshed with the illegitimacy of the occupation, the propaganda of "crusadership" occupation is easy to make. Attempts to reach political rapprochement within Iraq are approached with heavy scepticism of the trustworthiness of the participants based on America's own failure in that.


So here we are, mired in a foreign mess with a Congress that is paralyzed by bitter partisanship on the part of the competitive crowd and with a public losing economic ground and faith in its own government and that public is unhappy. They have been the losers in the competition and they have watched the benefits of a rigged system go to liars, cheats, and sycophants and they will not tolerate it. Those who fear for the American Constitutional experiment forget the capacity of Americans for anger and action. It is to be hoped those capacities will be channeled into peaceful avenues.

Chinese Regulator Crackdown - Yawn

China announces crackdowns on piracy and tainted foods and the NYT almost manages to sound sceptical, almost.

“There’s no quick fix,” says Henk Bekedam, the World Health Organization’s top representative in China. “China has perhaps been cutting some corners..." and

“The issue is not whether Chinese businesses are regulated; they are,” says Yasheng Huang, an associate professor at the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “The issue is that the regulators themselves are unable to be impartial in the enforcement of the laws. Those laws are meaningless in a system that does not even pretend to have judicial independence, media freedom and legislative oversight.” and

“The problem is these are campaigns and they tend to be turned off at some point,” says Mr. Moses, the analyst in Beijing.

This is out of two pages with expressions like:

"China is taking extraordinary steps to change its image."
“This is a very concerted effort to show they are doing something,”
"Still, even critics of China’s policies have been impressed"
" The bold actions,"
"Still, many experts say China has also become more candid"

This almost sounds like their editorial on trade I picked at previously with little substance and a lot of "hope." If I had to compare their government statements to something it would be BushCo pronouncements on Iraq. While the US government is filled with cronyism, corruption, and political double dealing the communist Chinese government is a typical dictatorship composed not of law but of personality. The effect permeates a system, every little bureaucrat sees himself as powerful and entitled, just as the leadership is. At some point BushCo's lies come back to haunt them, in China if you haunt you do become a ghost. They can lie with impunity and do. GWB is probably terminally jealous.

Sometimes I can't avoid the "made in China" label, but I sure try to. I won't put it in my body or on it if I know about it. I search out tool products to see where they're made. I'm as careful as possible. The COOL label (country of origin label) will be of real assistance if certain powers don't manage to water it down. This isn't about xenophobia or protectionism, beyond protecting myself, it is about not supporting serfdom and corruption and a dedicated enemy.

No, China is not a friend. They are quite capable of taking our money and supporting our debts; just as long as there is a advantage for them in doing so. They may actually fear bans and embargoes from the US and EU, but they also are not going to institute a government of law. That is not happening in a dictatorship - it simply, by definition, cannot.

I used to do the "Buy American" boosterism, now I just want you to be careful.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Iraq and Reality Ever Collide?

***Since this post required a disclaimer over at CS I'll repost here and not disclaim it, you won't be unpleasantly surprised I didn't.***

Iraq mess is owned lock, stock, and barrel by the Republican Party, some misguided (charitably, "misled") Democrats voted for the authorization of force but it is a Republican mess. They have cheered it on, they have labeled traitorous any opThe position, calls for draw down or withdrawal are mocked as cut and run, and finally any changes are simply killed in the Senate. The odd ones talk and vote something else and the very rare bird, Bush acolytes from blue states (Gordon Smith) even vote, but then Gordon is a past master at "Moderate Republican" at election and sycophant after. The reaches of Republican rhetoric on this issue were virtually McCarthyistic and much too public to be repudiated. All the little slogans, signs of progress, and threats of terrorist disaster in America have been played to the hilt. This creates a serious problem when things go south, they've played it so loud and so hardball that even pretty dim Americans won't forget. (This does neglect the hard core who still believe Saddam was driving one of the planes and had WMD down in his spidey-hole.) So they own this clunker and now what to do?


With the loss of lives and treasure piled this high it is simply impossible to admit a mistake and do something responsible about it. Patience is now the watch word, just give the new "new and improved" policy a chance. Patience. If we're just patient enough in 2009 there will a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress and they can have the discredit for defeat. It will be a Democratic loss not a Republican one and for the next 20 years they can say over and over that it wasn't a military defeat, it was a political one and it was the treasonous Democrats who brought it on. The Democratic propaganda disillusioned the public and everything would have gone well under Republican leadership - we could have won. There's the rub, won. Oh you could point out that we'd won when Bhagdad's statue fell, or when Saddam was captured, or possibly when blue thumbs were waved, but no, there is some nebulous win point, a free and stable Iraq.


Some of you may find that analysis entirely too politically cynical to swallow, no political Party do that to the Armed Forces and the American public. Check the record. Certainly no political party would use a brain dead woman and her family's suffering for political gain and they certainly wouldn't pile on to a group's sexual orientation just to win some points and they'd surely never take us to war over hogwash, and they'd never pointlessly scare the willies out of the public with "terror threat levels" to gain electoral points.


Yep, I'm a lefty Democrat, calling me a liberal would be an insult of understatement and I'm more than sure my political agenda leaves me disinclined to give much credit to Republicans but this isn't an ideological quarrel. This war has not squat to do with conservatism or even Republicanism beyond the opportunity to further enrich the elite, it has everything in the world to do with dishonesty and warmongering. If you Republicans think I'm being a little harsh, you'd lose your minds if I used the rhetoric I applied to the Hubert Humphrey Democrats. The Administration's record in this mess and their Republican acolytes in Congress record is available in print and and video. That is the part that they haven't classified. The most secretive administration in American history is running this debacle and you think as bad as it looks you know the whole story?


There are a couple Republican authors on this site that at least have the decency to be conflicted over what to do. They know the thing can't keep on as is but are terrified of the consequences of getting the heck out. We broke it, we bought it. Utter nonsense. If the "bought it" portion involved sending Wolfowitz, Cheny, Bush, Rumsfeld and the rest of the gang over there naked and alone there'd be some sense of ownership. That's not the deal; the deal is American kids get to own it...and keep paying for it. It's bad enough that they die and get maimed (those numbers are there to see) but just consider the cost of them adapting to that environment. Dust, dirt, death, and destruction as a daily routine, as a lifestyle. A lifestyle that is totally unpredictable, enemies are undetectable until they shoot at you or try to blow you up. A box, a bag of garbage, a car are just that, until they blow up in your face. A marketplace that five minutes ago contained shoppers is now an abattoir greased with blood and organs and garnished with bones and blasted masonry. That's your day for 15 months and then you come home for a year, maybe. And you don't fit in and they just don't understand.


Iraqis are going to sort this out and it's not going to be nice. They're going to sort it out with us or without us and if they have to sort us out in the process they will just get more willing as time passes, because you see, we will have killed their brothers, their fathers, their cousins, and their nephews ten times removed, not to mention destroyed homes, kicked in doors, and committed terminal insults. They are going to sort out al Qaeda, way too many of those relatives are dead thanks to those rat bastards so they're going to get sorted out real thoroughly as soon as we're not in the way. Non-Queda Sunnis are going to get sorted out just as they are now. Shiite Iran will get kicked out just as quickly as soon as they are of little use for gigging the Americans. Iran is playing with fire in Iraq, Iraqis are not Persians, emphatically not. Their history does not include Persian kindness and concern and they are a historical people.


The American public in general is about real tired of excuses and being terrorized by their own government. This Republican adventure is going to end and it is going to end badly. Playing at "responsibility" will only get us more of the same and give the Machevellians a chance to duck some of the blame. If any of you are willing to accept the moral costs of that calculation then be a part of it, but do it honestly and support the most hawkish of the bunch. If you don't like it and have to vote Republican then you're stuck with Ron Paul. You'll lose in the Primary, but you can thank the 12 year descent of the Party into the morass of greed, terror, and theocracy for your loss. If you can toss that bunch overboard you'll at least have the option being a principled opposition for awhile.


I guess it all depends on whether you trust the same people who walked you into this mess or have learned a lesson. I'll put it to you this way, I made the call on WMDs pre-invasion, I made the call on Iraqi resistance, I made the call on "never-ending war", and I made the call on Terror Alert hoaxes, so I have a track record of being right and they have a track record of being entirely wrong, so I must be wrong on this ...


(A lot of being right made me damned unpopular while they were busy being wrong so I sure had nothing to gain; didn't get any lucrative contracts, either; didn't win any elections either; the myths make it clear that being right can be dangerous and unpopular.)

Virtue Flats Vigilantes, Baker City

The Virtue Flats Vigilantes are the Cowboy Action Shooting club at Powder River Sportsman's Club Virtue Flats range. Tonight we had a night shoot, the first one. It was also my first shoot in this sport. It is fairly involved shooting and because a certain amount of moving around is involved the safety rules are extensive and rigorously enforced.



Because I don't want to get into the dress up part of the sport, wearing period clothing, and because I shoot single handed I am shooting in the Duelist or Gunfighter category. Now for those who'd enjoy period clothing Classic Cowboy requires it but neither my budget nor my comfort requirements put me in mind of doing that. My weaponry allows me to shoot in any of the classes and was acquired with that in mind. Some clothing is required or prohibited .



(2) 3 1/2 in. SAA Colt by Uberti w/Birdshead Grip .45 Colt

1873 Winchester octagonal barrel lever action by Chaparral .45 Colt

2 3/4 in. 12 Ga side by side double barrel hammered stagecoach Remington shotgun

double holster with 2 sets of 6 cartridge loops and 20 round load tail

all ammunition is low power loads to reduce target damage and chances being struck by bullet splash.



Target sets are varied as is the order of fire and order of weapons. Since I forgot my camera I'll have to give a written description of one of the sets. There were two firing stations 30 feet apart. The shooter approached the far (right) station and lays down unloaded shotgun and holds loaded rifle at port arms, at the timer's signal, cocks and fires at 5 silhouettes at 30 yards one shot left to right and again left to right (10 rounds), lays down rifle action open, picks up shot gun and moves to left station, lays down shotgun. Draw revolver, fire 5 shots at 5 silhouettes at 15 yds, holster, load shotgun, knock down 2 silhouettes (10 yds), carry shotgun to right station, lay down shotgun and draw revolver. Shoot 5 rounds at 3 silhouettes (15yds) any order hitting both at least once, holster, load shotgun and knock down 2 silhouettes (10 yds), time ends with unloaded shotgun. Scoring is by time with 5 seconds added for each miss and a "P" for any procedural errors. I managed to finish last, I wasn't doing too badly until the last stage where I lost the front sight of the revolver when my wind dried contacts blurred out completely and I missed 5 of 10 shots. I didn't mind whatever place I finished in, I was there to have fun and learn how to actually do this.

This isn't a rich man's sport but it also isn't cheap, purchased new the firearms will run around $2000 and factory loaded ammunition for .45 Colt cowboy action is about $25 for 50 rounds and this shoot involved over 120 rounds plus a box of shotgun shells. Dress will cost as will some accessories like a cart for holding long guns and ammo. Reloading is the most reasonable approach to ammo costs which will drop the 50rd cost to around $5 and used firearms are available. Now while I find this to be a lot of fun, I'd suggest anybody with interest attend a shoot and if possible borrow some equipment.

SASS is the organizational body for this shooting sport. Much more information than I've been able to provide is located there. This sport is strong on procedure and a large part of the competition involves an ability to stay focused while moving about and changing shooting order and firearms.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

US Weapons and Dictatorships

If you don't pay attention to McClatchy Papers formerly Knight-Ridder you're missing out on a publication that actually does reporting and investigation. This is the outfit that got WMDs right while BushCo was busy getting it all wrong. Now while we're busy installing democracy in Iraq at the point of a gun we're going to sell some real advanced stuff to some dictatorships right in that neighborhood.

McClatchy reports that BushCo wants to sell billions of dollars worth of advanced weaponry to Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Egypt and to keep balance Israel. Saudi Arabia was home to most of the 9/11 hijackers, was home to a large percentage of the foreign fighters in Iraq, and of the recipients the only free state is Israel. At least one component of the Saudi sale is JDAMs, the conversion kit to make dumb gravity bombs into smart directed bombs. Israel naturally didn't like this stuff and asked for the F22 Raptor whose stealth technology is part of the package that makes it the Air Force's most advanced fighter. That means this is the world's most advanced fighter aircraft, no question about it at this point in history. All this arming is aimed at countering...you guessed it...Iran.

The White House shared details with members of Congress last week and is hoping to avoid a fight since Congress has to approve the sales. It is certainly true that Saudi Arabia has some rather dangerous neighbors but one has to wonder if this sort of sale would act as a deterrence or and incitement. I'm not in favor of small children handling loaded firearms and I have pretty much the same reaction to this. We worry about the mix of nukes and Pakistan's instability and even a glance at the Arab recipients shows a mix of a rich ruling elite and an unstable poverty stricken populace. Let's just throw some gasoline on the fire.

Terror Laws

President Bush says that FISA is out of date, there's a big surprise. And the Constitution is "just a piece of paper." Terror terror terror terror As time goes on it begins to become clear that the most serious terrorist organization in the US is headed by George II. The object of terror as a tactic is to change governmental policy in response to fear. Fear fear fear fear Anybody care to chart Terror Alert rates over time from 9/11 to December 2004?

Courtesy of AP here's a voice to inspire trust, a fine Conservative, Republican House Leader John Boehner (R-OH), "Rather than learning the lessons of September 11 _ that we need to break down the bureaucratic impediments to intelligence collection and analysis _ Democrats have stonewalled Republican attempts to modernize FISA and close the terrorist loophole."

I have a strange reaction to hearing the 4th Amendment called a bureaucratic impediment, I find myself considering the purchase of some more rather powerful firearms. Judas Priest. Apparently a secret federal court with the power to retroactively issue warrants isn't enough of an infringement of "freedom from unreasonable search and seizure," George needs a "new and improved" version. He must have not much liked getting slapped down over the NSA illegal wiretaps. One must wonder if he ever learns any lessons from anything. It really seems as though somewhere in the process of graduating from college, almost serving in TX-ANG, wrecking a baseball team and oil company, being a Texas governor, and being appointed President the guy would have achieved a passing acquaintanceship with the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. Evidently not.

Odd, week by week January 2009 seems farther and farther away. Hurry up.

Dead Readership

I never expected to find myself in the pantheon of Blogdom and I sure never got there, but the crash in readership over the last 2 weeks is a little disheartening. Now it is true that I don't write to attract readers, I write to express myself and maybe have some small effect but doing it for as many folks as would hear me shouting from my front porch leaves me feeling a little disinclined to spend much time on this. I'm going to plug along for awhile longer but this isn't so much fun that I'd do it for no audience at all. I don't know, maybe I'm just whining, I probably ought to just hit the delete key for this post.

Nope, I've been favored with a pretty consistent readership and they've almost universally been great commenters so I'm going to ask a favor of them. Hopefully you've got friends, passing along the existence of this blog might help with the numbers which certainly would help with me feeling like this has some point. If I've become so boring that the little time required to peruse my scribblings is a waste I need to stop doing it. I completely understood the low numbers when this thing was starting out and I understand a fall off with the vacations and nice weather of summer, but this is startlingly bad. I'm a guest blogger at some other sites with much larger readerships and letting this one go would give me more time for them and I've shorted them trying to keep this one fresh.

I'm not looking for pats on the head or sympathy, I like doing this but I do need a certain amount of justification for the time investment and that justification is that I'm reaching more than a handful of people.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Republicans, This Poll Should Worry You

I am not a pollster and not even an analyst of polls, but I can read them and see some trends these trends should worry the snot out of Republicans regarding younger voters. The link is to the survey break down, I'd encourage you to peruse this portion as it is somewhat more illuminating than the simple 'Republicans suck' analysis. Here is something illuminating, the respondents narrowly define themselves as Conservative, but define their peers as Liberal almost 75%. This defining is odd as a demographic, it simply cannot be accurate, a poll might be skewed somewhat but not 25% so what is happening is these people are assigning to themselves an inaccurate definition. What they approve of and who they trust to deal with it are at a minimum left of center if not Progressive. They trust Democrats on health care, economy, Iraq, terrorism, and environment and on the presidential Democrat/Republican they split D55/R34 and lean pushes it to 57/36. The future looks even bleaker with bigger government 68/smaller government 28 and these are Republican ideals going under.

These folks are likely to vote, "probably" 14% and "almost certainly" 69% (83%) and they're interested with 10 "very interested" 7-10 is 78%. This is startling considering that Democratic registration with young at the bottom and seniors at the top creates an inverted triangle while Republican is nearly a rectangle. How this plays out will have a lot to do with what Democrats do with the opportunities BushCo has provided them.

The NYT Case For Trade

The NYT carries an Editorial supporting trade and whacking Democrats for opposing fast track and free trade agreements with Peru and Panama and states that increases in trade since WWII have added $1 trillion/year (2003 - $s) to the economy and that if the rest of the barriers fell and additional $500 billion. Nice numbers...for somebody.

"The plight of American workers is all too real — and the Bush administration has shown an astonishing lack of concern," shows that the NYT actually exists in the same dimension but their ideas of addressing this amount to band aids. Creating a more progressive tax structure and ensuring that displaced workers don't lose affordable health care may be very laudable policy moves, but do exactly not squat to address job losses. There certainly are some factors that do not involve trade, decreasing union membership and insourced labor (illegal immigration) directly affect wages but the wages affected are still wages, not lost jobs. The loss of skilled labor jobs and manufacturing jobs to near serf labor nations forces workers into lower paying jobs or out of work entirely. Anyone willing to take even a glance at conditions in China must realize the there is no "fair" trade agreement possible with that nation that allows any American business to compete in the same product arena unless Americans are willing to live in a sewer at serf wages. I do not have a magic wand solution of my own, but looking in the wrong direction is scarcely going to generate useful ideas or policies.

Allowing the bottom to fall out of the labor wage base drags the rest of the middle and lower wage bases down creating a situation where work that was the step up out of poverty becomes poverty. But that is not the same thing as creating and maintaining good wage jobs. When the NYT boosterisms Trade even with a caveat about labor the smart thing to do is follow the money. The $1 Trillion has landed in whose pockets? Certainly not labor's.

Matching Candidates

I don't take computer matching too seriously, for several reasons:
The questions are much too generic and and the range too narrow
The computer knows nothing of subtlety

So, I've already devalued the information I'm about to impart from PolitiChoice


Candidate
Total Score
Chris Dodd
79.04 %
Bill Richardson
77.78 %
Dennis Kucinich
76.77 %
John Edwards
76.77 %
Barack Obama
70.45 %
Joe Biden
66.16 %
Hillary Clinton
64.65 %
Ron Paul
56.31 %
Sam Brownback
50.25 %
Rudy Guiliani
40.40 %

The Republicans seem to follow all Democrats, that's odd (haha), but Chris Dodd surprises me a little. Hillary just ahead of the Republicans, makes perfect sense, she lately complained that nobody had ever made Obama's comparison to her and Bush/Cheney Light, I've called her Bush with breasts, she must not read this.

Considering my stance on the 2nd Amendment Dennis Kucinich is pretty far up the list, too bad he doesn't understand the concept of being armed in the face of an armed government. What is not odd is that I am probably a bit left of Dennis. Some may find this statement odd, but even though I own a pretty fair number of large effective firearms I am quite pacifistic, in terms of warfare. I am quite confident that warfare is generally either the result of incompetence or lunacy and to be engaged in only as an absolute last resort. That does not include an idea that I will turn the other cheek, personally, but individual decisions are a different matter than governmental decisions.

I have yet to support any candidate; I am, frankly, trying to decide what I can lose on and still support one. Short of Hillary, the Democrats are vastly superior to the Republicans, but that does not mean they're right on everything or aren't quite wrong on somethings.

You may find the PolitiChoice poll/matching interesting, I obviously need to take a closer look at Chris Dodd since I have (embarrassingly) ignored him.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Supporting the Troops

Whatever else may be said about the Iraq war and what to do about it, this much is sure; we made promises to our soldiers and asked them to do the dirty work for us, it is unconscionable to not take care of our injured troops. There is no excuse, money is not lacking, facilities are not lacking, trained professionals are not lacking; what is lacking is the will to use whatever means it takes to utilize the existing infrastructure.

The Dole/Shalala Report points up serious inadequacies in troop health care, Bush said, "we'll adjust..." Later reports had a caveat - later. These people cry the "support the troops" mantra and never do a damn thing about taking care of them when they're hurt until their feet are held to the fire. If I sound pissed off, I am. I have friends who are Vets and injured Vets, many whose war ended a quarter century ago, and they still suffer. Whatever I may have thought about their wars, it does not change the fact that they were brave, honorable people who did what their country asked and now we do not do as promised?

We are creating injured vets by the thousands today and we need to show the will to do what is right for them. This is not a political issue, it is not a partisan issue, it is an issue of morality. Try hard to find some.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bush Politics Everywhere

Politics as the art of accomplishing the possible is interesting and valuable, as is the politics of opposition. But then there is the politics of never-ending campaigning, the politics of blatantly using governmental agencies to advance a political party. There is a vast difference between instituting policies that redound to the credit of your political agenda by succeeding in advancing the interests of the nation and creating political ploys and Party talking points for governmental agencies.

BushCo cannot seem to differentiate between the interests of the nation and Republican talking points. The WaPo reports that Bush top diplomats have received over a half-dozen Republican political briefings from White House aides. These included Karl Rove's PowerPoint presentation of Democrats targeted for defeat in '08 and a "general political briefing" at Peace Corps headquarters after the '02 mid-terms. Previous diplomats seem to find such goings-on unusual and the Hatch Act is pretty clear about using Federal Facilities for campaigning.

I guess a permanent Republican majority takes some special work.

The Problem Will Stay And Fix The Problem

Huh? Surely that doesn't sound like a very intelligent response, but darn this is easily one of the stupider things I've heard proposed. Albie Gonzales says he's determined to stay on and fix the problems he's caused at Justice. Oh for pete's sake; hello Albie you're not competent, you're clueless about both your role and the Constitution and finally you're such an abject sycophant it is hard to imagine.

Albie is now up to somewhere near three versions of illegal wiretapping and Justice, first there was no controversy at Justice - no serious disagreements - threatened resignations, the Acting AG refusing to sign off; then there was the version where he was informing the sick anaesthetised Ashcroft of the sense of Congress; or maybe the version where it was a different intelligence matter - domestic intelligence he can't talk about.

Fired US Attorneys were apparently those fired with cause - ie. misconduct and those fired for different reasons, stated and then denied by Albie - without cause. He gave an example of "helping out a bud," and when asked by Feinstein if this happened said no. I couldn't stand to watch and see if there was any actual "for cause."

He can't say if the DC US Attorney will proceed with contempt citations, they deny executive privilege is subject, oh heck, you do know better than to think they'll do anything. The only real question that occurs is whether the end of this administration will lead to criminal trials. Wonder if there'll be pardons issued?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

More Democratic Fun

DPO DNC Committeeman Wayne Kinney and Pat Ackley past 2 CD Caucus Chair
John McColgan past Candidate for 2CD Congress and Howard Owens State House District 3 Candidate
Jeff Goldman possible candidate for Gordon Smith's Senate seat.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

If You Were An Oregon Democrat

Senator Vicki Walker after announcing for Secretary of State
DPO Chair Meredith Wood Smith entranced by Bing
DPO Secretary Becky Gladstone and Kevin Marr
Hot Dogs and Sausages!!!
DPO Executive Director Trent Luntz

If you were an Oregon Democrat at the Democratic Party of Oregon's State Central Committee meeting today you could have gone shooting at the excellent Josephine Sportsman's Association range with us, then gone to the meeting and had the pleasure of having Rep Peter Buckley, Rep Greg MacPhearson, and Sen Vicki Walker come and brief you on the Salem scene, vote on some important Resolutions, and then...Good fun at Motel del Rogue.
Some of these folks are much more reserved, this laughs on them.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Cowboy Action Custom Gun Leather

***click pictures for full size***
This belt is custom cut for my waist and hips and the holsters are custom fit to the 3 1/2 inch .45 Colt SAA Ubertis. The load tail is for .45 Colt shells for either extended shooting, beyond the 6 loops each side, or for the 1873 Winchester by Chaparrel. The holsters are canted at 30 degrees for a draw that brings the revolvers to point rather than vertical draw. Trailsman Leather Co. of Baker City, OR - mailto:trisman@msn.com, Vern Trowbridge, for information.

I chose the dark brown stain in a mottle finish and plain buckle & conchos as my taste runs to less ornamentation, the rigs are available in various colors and degrees of ornamentation, tooling, and fittings (shell loops, etc.) Vern will travel distances for fitting and option choices. This is high end leather work, intended for competitive shooting and authentic re-enactments. I have inspected one of his top end tooling and decorative option rigs, a thing of beauty and function, carrying a price tag commensurate to that.
Because I am neither a representative nor principal I will not give pricing, but be ready to spend several hundred dollars for a simple set-up. You will be rewarded, there is absolutely no break-in or personal forming required, the rig will be absolutely comfortable, gun safe, and ready to use the minute you pick it up.
Yes, Vern is a member of my sportsman club, the local director of Cowboy Action Shooting, and a friend, but this product would be worth this endorsement if he were a stranger.
For more Cowboy Action Shooting click this link.

Motel del Rogue - Grants Pass, Oregon

Back porch of room at Motel del Rogue . That is the Rogue River , this morning's breakfast stayed in the river, nothing liked what I offered up

***Click on pictures for full size***


As I walk out the front door this is my view.


The yellow accent is the SSR and the building has my room on the right.

Built in the 1930's and furnished with many period pieces you do not get the feeling you've walked back into the same room you left in some other town. Comfort and excellent hosts make this a stop to remember. For you readers of the bluish persuasion, this place will soon be full of Oregon Democrats - for you others; well, it won't rub off and you'll get treated very well.


Live From Grants Pass, Oregon - sorta

Since I'm the boss and we work 4 ten hour days, I decided I could find enough for my guys to do Thursday afternoon to let me leave at lunch time. Leave Baker City for Grants Pass and the Democratic Party of Oregon's quarterly State Central Committee meeting. The trip meter showed 430 miles and 8 hours to my arrival at Motel del Rogue, hosts Constance and Kevin Marr. The meeting is Saturday but I needed both a break and some time to relax after a long drive.


With the Rogue River right outside the back door and my Democratic hosts I have accomplished my aims. The place will be filling up with Democrats today so there will be ample opportunities for wide ranging political discussions and catching up on the doings of those far away.


Saturday morning the DPO Gun Owner's Caucus has a shoot lined up at the Josephine County Sportmans Association range and I've come well equipped for such an activity. I was torn, but ended up with (2) 3 1/2 inch Uberti SAA Colt .45, a Ruger Vaquero .45 Colt, an 1873 Winchester rifle by Chapparel Arms in .45 Colt, and for real umph the 1895 Marlin 45-70 Govt. For show-off my brand new custom double rig holsters built for the Ubertis.

Pentagon Versus Hillary

If you've read this blog before, you know I'm no fan of Hillary Clinton, but some things are simply sensible and reasonable - like knowing how to withdraw troops from a conflict. In May Sen. Clinton wanted to know if the Pentagon had plans for withdrawal from Iraq, Under Secretary of Defense Eric Edelman responded with this,

"Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia.." according to AP.

Whatever your political leanings or feelings on the war, it would only make sense to know how to remove the troops and all the equipment. There are always unforeseen events, and this is particularly true in warfare, so it is stupid to not have a plan.

Hillary didn't think a lot of his response,

"Undersecretary Edelman has his priorities backward," Clinton wrote, calling his claim "outrageous and dangerous," reported in AP .

I suppose it pays a politician to use considered language...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

National Intelligence Estimate - Failing Grade

The newly released sections of the NEI show al-Qaeda growing in strength in Pakistan and that piece a significant threat over the next 3 years. This, of course, prompts the White House to state that Iraq is the "central front" in the fight against terrorism and against al-Qaeda, because that is where they directly confront American troops. You do follow this don't you? We kicked them around in Afghanistan (after most had fled) and they headed over to Pakistan so we headed on over to Iraq where they weren't and made it possible for a new branch to open there so we could fight the ones that weren't in Pakistan where the ones were who launched the 9/11 attacks, included Mr Wanted Dead or Deader Bin Laden are holed up. But we knew they were there before the Iraq war and didn't want to offend Pakistan (nuclear).

General Mushareff who has been having some (a lot) of fundamentalist problems was having not too good a time in the tribal regions where al-Qaeda and the Taliban were hanging out. His troops tended to get slaughtered and mostly inconsequential targets were all that were weeded out. So the General, with Bushco's unenthusiastic blessing, got a truce with the tribal leaders; he'd leave them alone and they'd toss the foreigners. Yeah, sure. Not great results.

So the BushCo litany continues, we're fighting al-Qaeda in Iraq and if we don't they'll follow us home after they take over a country where they're not only out-numbered by bad attitude locals, they're out-gunned and generally loathed. Now you could argue about how much killing would go on after an American pull-out but a guaranteed result is a wiped out Sunni al-Qeada in Iraq. So George II will fight on (actually our kids will) until he's out of office and somebody else can take the blame for his debacle. If the BushCo arguments made any sense at all you could see something other than the most cynical of politics at work, if...

As a footnote, if Harry Reid doesn't make the BushCo acolytes pay in the Senate something is wrong.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Three Hots and a Cot

Tuesday night could be interesting in the Senate. That would be the case if the Republicans do not hold true to their demands that an up or down voted be held for their conservative judicial candidates. You haven't forgotten the "nuclear option" Frist and company threatened if Democrats filibustered the Neandertals the Rpublicans liked for judges? Harry Reid says,

"I would like to inform the Republican leadership and all my colleagues that we have no intention of backing down," said Reid this afternoon. "If Republicans do not allow a vote on Levin/Reed today or tomorrow, we will work straight through the night on Tuesday. The American people deserve an open and honest debate on this war, and they deserve an up or down vote on this amendment to end it." Bob Geiger

Rule 22 provides for up to 30 hours of continuous debate if there is an indication of a desire to debate; ie. a refusal of cloture. A "filibuster" probably seemed like a handy way for Republicans to avoid having to actually stand up and say, "the troops can go screw themselves." Reid is having none of it:

"I would like to inform the Republican leadership and all my colleagues that we have no intention of backing down," said Reid this afternoon. "If Republicans do not allow a vote on Levin/Reed today or tomorrow, we will work straight through the night on Tuesday. The American people deserve an open and honest debate on this war, and they deserve an up or down vote on this amendment to end it."

I sincerely hope Harry isn't going to hold his breath, the dead-enders in the Senate made a lot of noise about opposition to the war involving a lack of patriotism and care and comfort of the "enemy." November 2008 is liable to be interesting.

More Hillary Than Lorena

So, maybe despite the silly rhetoric about Lorena and Hillary and their spouses' members there is still something to be said for civilization. It seems that Mrs Senator Vitter (Wendy) thinks anybody else would have had privacy, but she decided "to love her husband" and "forgive him." A rather stark difference to the statement that she's "more Lorena than Hillary."

It appears that the adulterous hypocrite Senator gets to keep his parts because his wife is also apparently a hypocrite, when in public.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Blue Thumbs

*by Steve Culley*

Saddam Hussein was a scum bag dictator and having him depart this earth was a good thing. Of course some things happened when he did. Iraq, a creation of imperialism ceased to exist except on a map and in the minds of George Bush and other ill informed people. An artificial nation of warring factions lost the glue that held it together. Right after we invaded it might have been possible to create some kind of federation among Sunnis, Shia and Kurds but that opportunity was squandered. I hate to say it but the natural order of things, the separation of those factions will happen. Iraq is dead, thrown on the garbage dump of history. The natural order of things there will sort themselves out.

The process is called civil war. There is not a dammed thing we can do about it. The only thing left is a Viet Nam rerun. Presidential speech writers are smart enough not to let George Bush use terms like “a light at the end of the tunnel” or “winning hearts and minds” but they are stuck in the same Viet Nam rut. The only thing left, although it won’t be phrased in Viet Nam era lingo is “peace with honor” and declaring victory and leaving. That’s the last step before withdrawal.

Iraqi prime minister Nouri al Maliki opened the gate to that Saturday when he said , “We say in full confidence we are able, God willing, to take the responsibility completely in running the security file if the international forces withdraw at any time they want”.

There were elections in Iraq and the Bush administration made a lot of hay with those photos of voter blue thumbs showing their new democracy. I say put it to the test. Let’s push hard for a cease fire among those people who like to slaughter each other so as to have a “national” referendum in Iraq with just one question. “Should the Americans and coalition forces stay or depart from Iraq?”

Right after that the Television news could show lots of Americans waving back at a lot of Iraqis waving blue thumbs as we get on the boats and airplanes. Then they can get down the business of either settling their differences, by ballot or bullet. The choice would be theirs. Then we could redeploy our forces to our borders where the security of our nation is truly at risk.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Who Is Hart Williams and Why Does He Scare FauxNews

Hart Williams is a blogger, leftish sort, who in the past ran Boregasm as Ed Waldo wherein much information about Howie Rich was researched and published, embarrassing information. The entire Libertarian/AnnRaynd thing was pretty thoroughly dissected. If you'd like to know something more than the press releases it's still up, but Ed Wald (er Hart) has moved along to Zug, "the little blog that could."

That rascally Ed Waldo wrote a piece, Another Dip in the Ted Nugent Slime that rather incautiously suggested that the hate rhetoric of the Right as practised by Nugent and Limbaugh will lead to bloodletting and at that point he'd like a piece of Rush and offered dibs on Nugent. After the civil war starts... Faux News picked it up and Hannity and Colmes ran with it, including naturally Nugent - scared for his family. English must not quite make to being their second language. Idjits.

Hart Williams at one time wrote for Hustler, which seem to particularly offend them, Vitter seems a bit more relevant but... The fact is that Hart Williams aka Ed Waldo has provided considerably more service to the nation in the arena of political information than Faux News has. If you think this is just kneejerk lefty stuff go read Hart.

An Alternate Universe

It has been speculated by various esoteric physicists that there are multiple universes slightly separated by dimensions created by exotic sub-atomic particles. I wonder if we haven't sprung a leak somewhere near Washington, DC. I wasn't too bothered by the spin of the Clean Air Act or Healthy Forests Act being something completely other than what their titles indicated, but lately I've gotten worried about the state of dimensional stability. I was pretty concerned that a guy who'd slaughtered hundreds of humans in Texas for legal offenses found 30 months Federal time too severe for a rat bastard who'd lied to the FBI, lied to a Grand Jury, and obstructed a criminal investigation, something slipped, I thought.



There is the matter of the War on Terror, in what universe does going to war with an uninvolved country and ignoring a heavily involved country constitute a strategy? Assaulting the civil liberties of the very people whose way of life you propose to be protecting seems a contradiction, sufficient to require an other worldly perspective. When soldiers are being killed and injured by people who are dedicated to violence, justifying your strategy as a fight against those ranked as the least of the problem by those fighting the war seems rather Alice in Wonderland.

There evidently is a place where a decrease in income results in an increase and the rich and powerful need real help staying that way. This would be the sort of place where, despite widespread use and a lack of data showing significant harm, possession of marijuana is vigorously prosecuted by the Federal Government. but 12 million illegal aliens is too big a problem and should just be ignored and amnestied despite the demonstrable harm to wages, social services, education, and possibly security. You might even find this to a place where inanimate objects, guns, are blamed for the actions of humans.

I'm sure that talking about a Vice President as a newly minted Non-any branch of government position must require a peculiar view of reality. A person would need to be careful of walking off the edge of the world.

An oddity from the perspective of continuity is the appearance of the phone number of a moral legal enforcer in an alleged hooker's/pimp's phonebook and his acknowledgement of an unspecified "serious sin." His wife, being an ardent supporter of monogamy, must be wondering how exactly homosexual marriage would be nearly as much threat to conventional marriage as infidelity, connecting these particular dots requires a detour through some dimensional warp.

I know full well that hypocrisy is not a new phenomenon, but what makes the theory of dimensional leakage or slip reasonable is that these actions do not alienate every witness. The other assumption would be that people aren't smart enough to get it requires a belief in people too stupid breathe surviving.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

VItter And The Hooker

Should you care that Sen David Vitter (R-LA) had his phone number in Debra Jean Palfrey's "little black book?" Ordinarily I'd be hard pressed to say "yes." I believe the outlawing of prostitution wastes law enforcement assets, creates an unhealthy black market of drugs, manipulation, abuse, and corruption, and complicates health issues. I don't find it moral or immoral, have never engaged its services nor do I desire to, frankly it's a non-issue in my private life. My relationship with my wife is based on mutual trust and monogamy, so that's how that is - I would be committing a wrong to engage in such actions, personally. I make no such judgements on other relationships, I am not privy to their internal structure and thus unqualified to have an opinion.

Sen Vitter had opinions, he declared them in the House and the Senate and tried to make them law. Get this, I don't care if he's Jesus H Christ himself, the law has no business in the morality game. It's not a moral construct, it is a social order device, it is enforced at the point of a gun and can take your money and liberty - it ain't moral. So, Sen Vitter engaged the services of Ms. Palfrey, I don't care about her, but I do care about him. The hypocrisy of slamming homosexuals as unfit for marriage while he's cheating on a woman who has publicly stated her, ahem, distaste for cheating (ok, whacking off the offending member) is just mind boggling. It is the theocrat's punishment for hubris, they'll stuff their version of god down your throat while failing miserably at their own tenets.

I think maybe Mrs Vitter has "issues," such reactions are illegal, ranking close to shooting the adulterer, a temper tantrum possibly understandable, but not too orderly. That doesn't keep me from having a certain enthusiasm for her catching up with the Senator in possession of a sharp object.

Seems odd that for all the slanders Republicans throw at Democrats for being cowardly moral degenerates, it's their folks that go AWOL from the easy out from a war, play sick games with boys, get sunk for bribery (well there is Jefferson), and get clogged up in sex scandals. I look forward to November '08 and the traction available on these little (cough) indiscretions.

Hey, Republicans, since you keep ignoring my advice and come around here I'll dispense some advice, leave the morality in church or your private conduct but out of law and you'll have less of this sort of trouble. God has his house and it isn't Congress or the White one and the sooner you figure it out the better for your Party and the nation.

Oh No, I'm Rich and I Need Your Help Getting More

“The top 25 individuals in the industry [private equity and hedge funds] got paid over $10 billion, taxed at a rate of 15 percent. Those 25 people got paid three times the amount that was paid to all 80,000 people who teach in the New York City schools, and they paid roughly one-half to one-third of taxes on a percentage basis.” said Damon Silver, associate general counsel at the A.F.L.-C.I.O. Just for comparison, you and your employer pay 15.48% FICA on your wages up to $90,000. That has nothing to do with your Income Tax. So you know, this is how Mitt made his pile, that champion of lower taxes, guess whose taxes.

The NYT points out that these folks are connected, "The industry’s leaders include a variety of seasoned political hands. The senior chairman and co-founder of the Blackstone Group, for instance, is Peter G. Peterson, a former White House official and commerce secretary. Mr. Kravis’s ties to the Bush family go back decades, to the time when his father was friends with Senator Prescott Bush, the president’s grandfather. Another major player in the debate, the Carlyle Group, is based in Washington and led by a group of well-connected former top government officials."

Billionaire Henry R Kravis just spent some time trying to persuade Congress just how important his industry is to Americans, it's a tough sell with sky high compensation and tax rates below much less well to do taxpayers. The assertion is that they take the risk and deserve the low capital gains rate and that they "rescue" American industries and also that raising their taxes will hurt all Americans. Oh yeah, the sawdust encrusted nail bangers who work for me take no risks and will benefit immensely if these paper pushers have to pay real taxes on their income. You can surely hear BushCo leaping to their defense, tax and spend Dems... Oooops, Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) ranking (R) on Senate Finance Committee is part of the move to tax at the ordinary 35% for their bracket.

If you had an idea they'd just let this happen to them, NYT again,

"The newly founded Private Equity Council, which represents the largest industry players, has retained a battery of lobbyists from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer Feld; Capitol Tax Partners; Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck; and Johnson, Madigan, Peck, Boland & Stewart. Kohlberg has several well-positioned lobbyists, including Kenneth B. Mehlman, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, who is a partner at Akin Gump. "

Poor babies...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda, and Even More Al Qaeda

The other day George II mentioned Al Qaeda 27 times in a speech about Iraq, now Lindsey Graham is calling Democratic calls for troop withdrawal, "calvary for Al Qaida." Last week their own experts called Al Qaeda 10% of the fighters or noted that there were many more important players than Al Qaeda. The Shiites and Kurds both hate Al Qaeda and some Sunnis are getting pretty perturbed with them; but these hambones keep banging away on the Qaeda drum.

Let's just suppose that the US withdraws, rather precipitously, what is it that is going to happen in the ensuing "bloodbath?" Well for sure the Sunnis are not going to fare well, the ones who've not been too active in the sectarian mess may not get hit too hard, but the activel players are going to get whacked hard. The secularists aren't going to have much of a say or hand in what comes after, if they weren't Saddamists they may not get killed but they'll be powerless. The Kurds will probably try some house cleaning in their spheres and Al Qaeda? About the time things heat up real good they're toast if they don't scram. Shiites and Kurds will hunt them without mercy or compunction and they'll be joined by the Sunnis who feel scapegoated for Qaeda's benefit. I'd rather be a chickem surrounded by hungry coyotes than an Al Qaeda in an Iraq freed of American brakes on behavior.

Surely enough Al Qaeda whacked us pretty good on September 11 and became the BushCo bogeyman to be trotted out whenever fear could generate some votes or policy backing and the perfect foil to attack the Left with - friends and allies of Al Qaeda. There were some hitches in the process, Ossama still wandering around dragging his dialysis machine, they're in Afghanistan and Pakistan and not Iraq until we opened the door to them, Bush's we'll get him dead or alive and a couple months later - he doesn't even think about him. But Qaeda, Qaeda, Qaeda, ally ally all in free...

Are we actually as stupid as they think we are?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Why Bother To Tell Republicans Anything

Sunday I tried to be nice to Republicans, Here, where I tried to point out that using me as an attack source was not smart, in fact, that they shouldn't read this blog, in the title. So, what do you suppose they've been doing? Reading this Blog. They've been coming in droves from Draft Fred Thompson where I am not a member and surely won't be. Maybe I should point out some of the nice things I've had to say about their phony candidate, that's two and a word search wouldn't find anything nicer. Mitt and Fred? I'd be hard put to say which is a bigger pandering truth bending typical Republican "conservative of convenience."

Ron Paul's libertarian small government philosophy makes me want to gag with its "I've got mine screw you" outcomes, but he's a straight-shooter and he does get some other stuff very right and for very good and well thought out reasons and all these people can see is their two bit phony conservatives and theocratic wantabes. They've got an actual real article with principles and of course that'll never do...

They more than deserve what they've got coming at them.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Truth in Editorial Writing

*Steve Culley is a friend of mine and sometimes offers me articles and sometimes I use them, whether they reflect my views or not, since they address something that needs discussion*

I think it’s time we had a truth in editorial writing law. One aspect of this law could be the substitution of “Population increase” for such terms as “immigration” Guest workers” or “refugees.”

I predicted several months ago that the turmoil in the middle east would eventually end up as a call to let in more “refugees”. The Oregon today, Monday, July 9th, called for the first 70,000 Iraqi “refugees”. The Capitol Press is pushing an “ag jobs” bill and of course “immigrants” still stream across our borders.

Keeping in mind that problems such as the Klamath basin water problems, salmon kills on the Columbia River, dirty air in our cities, crowded freeways, paving of farm land, destruction of wildlife habitat, mercury in the water, species extinction, over cutting of forests, green house gasses, shortages of electricity, gasoline or a long list of what many people call environmental problems are a direct function of the things we have to do to the environment to feed, cloth and house people. It stands to reason that the more people you have means an increase in these problems.

There fore I propose that editors and pundits substitute “population increase” whenever they refer to “immigrants“, “guest workers” or “refugees“ When ever environmental groups talk about land use laws, regulations protecting the environment, restricting private property rights, saving farm land, forests and rivers and open space they could refer to and clarify why all the problems exist in the first place. A good editorial should start off,….” since we have a national policy of constant, rapid, never ending population increases because of “immigration” , ”guest workers” and “refugees” we need to modify away hard won land use rights. Or “since we have too many people and are adding more “refugees” “guest workers” and “immigrants” and swelling the population we are going to have to ban ATV’s, only permit river rafting for some, restrict country living cut back on gas use, electricity, recycle and more stuff. The list is endless of the freedoms and quality of life you might have to give up is endless to accommodate all the new people but that’s just the way it is.

Maybe some inconvenient truths could emerge and then maybe a true discussion on how to save the world solution could get under way.

Steve Culley

Republicans Shouldn't Read This Blog

You have to love it, a Republican blog, Mitt Report, using my Blog as an attack reference to one of their Republican opponents, Fred Thompson (see near bottom left column - if you care). That might be a silly move on their part if any of their readers are intelligent enough to go see what I have to say about their guy Mitt, Here and Here just for balance.

Apparently, Romney supporters are just bright enough to search for one key word and forget all about two real key words, "Mitt, Liar." I suppose that's enough said for them...

NYT and More BushCo Garbage

If you've ever wondered how to spin the Emperor's Clothes out of nothing, the NYT can show you how to do it. You've probably noticed that a couple more Republican Repudiators are around now, they're now willing to say Iraq is messed up. They've come right out in public and said we need to do something different (they did vote to sustain the President's veto just awhile ago), what that something isn't particularly clear. So the NYT has an article about how 'worried' the White House is, " according to several administration officials and outsiders they are consulting." (if you like that authoritative sourcing this article has plenty) "But suddenly, some of Mr. Bush’s aides acknowledge, it appears that forces are combining against him just as the Senate prepares this week to begin what promises to be a contentious debate..." "some aides are now telling Mr. Bush that if he wants to forestall more defections, it would be wiser to announce plans for a far more narrowly defined mission for American troops..." "it looks pretty grim,” said one senior official, who, like others involved in the discussions, would not speak on the record..." " 'Sept. 15 now looks like an end point for the debate, not a starting point,' the official said. 'Lots of people are concluding that the president has got to get out ahead of this train.' "

The only actual human beings quoted in the entire article are quoted from public statements, all the stuff about BushCo's concerns is anonymous, and eminently deniable, by anybody inside. The entire credibility of the idea that the Administration is trying to figure out how to reduce troop levels and start getting out is based on the NYT's credibility, which you may judge on some of their previous reliance on 'official sources.'

If I were this Administration I'd have been real worried pre-06 election, very worried right after it and frankly real spooked back in 03 when I saw who and where my intel was coming from; so why is it that just because a couple Republican Senators decide to say Iraq is a mess is pushing BushCo anywhere is questionable to me. I personally don't buy into the idea that Karl Rove is some kind of genius, but even an idiot could see that 70% of voters disapproving of Iraq has meaning for Republican Senators who have to run in 08 and that's been true since November 06 and the "Surge" was the response.

What these Republican Senators have had to say is public pablum and I don't think any of the Machiavellians at BushCo see it any differently. Their previous votes say so, the prospect of being opposed in their primaries by "red-meat" Republicans says so, and the (R) says so. Gordon Smith (R-OR) got out early and his votes never changed, and if you listen to what he says, you'll be completely confused as to what it means in regard to voting. It should be a fair amount of fun watching these guys try to play both ends of the string to the middle...

In regards to our troops in Iraq, it's going to suck watching this.

NOW You Have Something To Say, Powell

At the Aspen Ideas Festival Colin Powell made the claim that he'd tried to talk George II out of the Iraq War. According to The Times, “I tried to avoid this war, I took him through the consequences of going into an Arab country and becoming the occupiers,” an endeavor he spent an entire 2 1/2 hours on. For pete's sake, I've spent that amount of time washing and waxing a damn car for a car show.

At one time Colin Powell was widely respected in this country, so much so that there was very serious talk of him as a candidate for President, these kinds of statements 4 years into a war after 3500 American troops lost their lives and uncounted Iraqis dead leave me somewhat "underwhelmed." “The civil war will ultimately be resolved by a test of arms,” he said. “It’s not going to be pretty to watch, but I don’t know any way to avoid it. It is happening now. It is not a civil war that can be put down or solved by the armed forces of the United States.” Would that kind of talk have helped sell the war? Is it possible that something other than a UN appearance talking about bona fide WMD evidence might have cooled some of the public ardor for war?

Two previously well respected former members of BushCo have managed to say how unenthusiastic they were about the Iraq war in the past year. Tennet and Powell have been a little late voicing their misgivings, sometime previous to the carnage in Iraq could have made some difference to a public that was conditioned to respect their words. To be sure, Faux News would've beaten the war drum for George, but some of the others might have been a little less blindly credulous - or maybe not - but this latest only goes to show how BushCo eats honor and leaves political scat.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Gordo on Libby

Gordo on Libby and George II, KATU , make of this whatever you think you can. I can't make anything of it in light of his votes, except maybe he'll say darn near anything to get elected.

Suffolk County versus New York State

Steve Levy (D) is Suffolk County Executive with an 80% approval rating amongst all voters and has been endorsed for re-election by both Democratic and Republican Parties in the county. He is an adamant opponent of tolerance for illegal immigration and refuses to create hiring halls for illegal hiring, which has put him in opposition to the Democratic lead (108 of 150) State Assembly in Albany which has tied up a 1% sales tax for Sufffolk County amounting to $320 million.

Hiring halls are intended to get the illegal immigrant day workers off the street and out of sight of the increasingly unhappy voters. Now it isn't apparent that Mr Levy is some closet racist, NYT points out:

' The chairman of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, Assemblyman Darryl C. Towns of Brooklyn, said in an interview that “it’s time for two former colleagues to have a cup of coffee,” noting that Mr. Levy had supported antidiscrimination bills during his years in the State Legislature. '

But, here is what the battle in Suffolk County seems to come down to:

'John Taylor, standing with a cup of coffee outside his Village Art and Frame shop nearby, echoed Mr. Levy’s feeling that illegal immigrants are taking jobs and undermining wages, saying of the caucus: “What is it about the word ‘illegal’ that people don’t understand?” '

Now I cannot speak for the underlying thinking of the proponents of illegal immigrants, but implicit in their stance is this, "all you have to do to get a job and services in the US is get here."
Evidently a segment of the Albany Legislature agrees with this. Too bad there's no way to tie their income to the wages of those affected, they'd squeal quick enough. It's real easy for folks to kick around ideas that do not harm them, it's real easy to hang out the 20% of the population who work with their hands, you save 5% on the price of your house, you save 5% on the price of your vegetables, you save that 5% at the cash register and pay multiples of it in State and Federal subsidies to those workers and the costs to the health care system. Legal American workers are pushed into poverty by this plutocratic agenda. George W Bush is fine with it, doesn't that give you a clue?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Impeachment Drumbeat

Over at Huffpo Robert Wexler D FL19 promises to introduce a motion to censure the President for his Scooter commutation. He makes a good argument and while such a move is practicably immaterial it does at least make a statement of some sort. Predictably this brought out the wingnut "no underlying crime and not covert" lines and the 'I' word. Impeachment sure sounds good.

That's about it folks, 'sounds good.' Be under no illusions, I'd be greatly assuaged by the sight of several of the top BushCos, including George II, making the perp walk in manacles and detention jumpsuits. Maybe that can happen, I have more than a hunch that there are several provable felonies laying around. What can't happen is a Sustained Impeachment.

Bill Clinton committed an act that was clearly Impeachable (he was) but it was not Sustained partly, at least, on partisan grounds. If anyone thinks a 1 vote Senate margin in Party caucus is sufficient to Sustain, they have a lot more blind faith in Republican principles than I do, and obviously than the House leadership does. You bet the Democrats could make GWB's life difficult and tie up the House and then maybe the Senate with Impeachment hearings. They could probably make some of the 70+% of America that already dislikes George II like him less, the 28%ers would rally round the "flag." But is that the point?

I propose to you that the point isn't to make Bush less popular with those who don't like him, the object is to give the Republicans an ass kicking to make all ass kickings look like pattycakes. The way to do that is to pass good progressive legislation that is meaningful and important to American voters, have it Vetoed, and Sustained by the Republican faithful. Repeatedly. Drive home the message that the Republicans have an agenda and it isn't the common man. Make it so clear, so media friendly and obvious that even Faux News can't hide it. Leave the OReilys and Limbaughs scrambling to demonize the politicians that people can see doing their business. Take the gloves off, drop the pretense of bipartisanship, and ram every progressive wish listed Bill through so they can kill it.

This Congress isn't going to get anything meaningful done, except possibly defund the war which could lead to an Executive shutdown, al la Clinton and Gingritch, so why not use their time wisely and to political effect. Keep the oversight hearings clicking along, give BushCo every opportunity to have bad memories, lie (perjure), and generally look bad and toss lots of stuff into the Courts; and give the Republicans every chance available to look really bad. There are elections in 08 and not just the Presidential one. Taking seats is what counts, the Republicans have earned some time in the woodshed, help them on their way and help them stay there until they learn how to practice politics for the benefit of Americans.

You never can tell, Congress nosing around might shake loose something an 09 DOJ could use to put some rather important people in jail, where they would actually stay without the kinglet George II around to commute.

Thinking Blog Award





This meme was hung on me by Pete Abel of Central Sanity (I am an occasional poster there), the rules for this are HERE, the idea being to list five Blogs that make me think. It's only fair to tag him back, since on that blog I'm surrounded by conservatives who seem to take great glee in making me grit my teeth and poke at them with sharpened sticks. So:

Central Sanity for already established reasons, and a short supply of sharpened sticks
Press Think if you care about what journalism is and where it's going - not a light read
Loaded Orygun for provocation and showing what blog journalism can be
Middle Earth Journal for making me work to do more than write "well exactly"
Blue Oregon for showing the diversity of progressives and being a place to make sure that's clear

All this is, of course, completely unfair to the many blogs that keep my intellectual machinery well oiled and ticking along. That's why I have a Blog Roll.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Consistency? Oh Sure...

Courtesy of Bob Geiger here are the 25 Republicans still serving as Senators who voted twice to impeach Bill Clinton:

Wayne Allard (R-CO)
Robert Bennett (R-UT)
Kit Bond (R-MO)
Sam Brownback (R-KS)
Jim Bunning (R-KY)
Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Larry Craig (R-ID)
Mike Crapo (R-ID)
Pete Domenici (R-NM)
Mike Enzi (R-WY)
Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Judd Gregg (R-NH)
Chuck Hagel (R-NE)
Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)
Jim Inhofe (R-OK)
Jon Kyl (R-AZ)
Trent Lott (R-MS)
Dick Lugar (R-IN)
John McCain (R-AZ)
Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Pat Roberts (R-KS)
Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
Gordon Smith (R-OR)
George Voinovich (R-OH)

And have not bothered to get bothered by the Libby commutation. Go here to read what he has to say about it, and what they had to say then and, well, not say now.

Fred Thompson, Rat

Well now, according to the Boston Globe Mr Law and Order, the clean conservative, Fred Thompson, leaked information from the Senate Watergate Committee to the White House, its target. He told the Nixonites that the Committee knew about the secret taping system before he was allowed to ask aide Alexander Butterfield about it at the hearing. He did so because "I wanted to be sure that the White House was fully aware of what was to be disclosed so that it could take appropriate action." Do you suppose the infamous 'gap' was the sort of appropriate action he had in mind?

Thompson was Howard Baker's campaign manager in 1972 and Baker brought him into the Senate committee as minority counsel. Baker was a staunch Nixon supporter as was Thompson. The question Baker insisted Thompson (who did not discover it) be allowed to ask launched his career with the public. You can make your own decisions about what it did for him in Republican circles to be a Nixon mole (my apologies to the other vermin - rats).

Do you begin to feel a little more informed about his stance on the Scooter's scooting? He had this to say, "shocking injustice . . . created and enabled by federal officials." which sounds less surprising from a 'law and order' kind of guy considering, "In retrospect it is apparent that I was subconsciously looking for a way to justify my faith in the leader of my country and my party, a man who was undergoing a violent attack from the news media, which I thought had never given him fair treatment in the past," Thompson wrote. "I was looking for a reason to believe that Richard M. Nixon, President of the United States, was not a crook."

This is the ultimate crony, law and common decency be damned, he's our guy so we'll look out for him. Baker's shill, Nixon's mole, Libby's apologist & fund raiser, and lobbyist, the ultimate outsider, so far outside that the pick up truck he bought to burnish his "good ole boy" credentials is rusting away in his mother's drive way, undriven since the campaign. This is the undeclared candidate star of the Republicans - they're in worse shape than it looked.

You have to almost feel sorry for them, I have Republican friends who used to give me grief for being a Democrat, now they just look at me and shake their heads. And yes, I'm exactly polite enough to not kick sand in their faces. If you take the time to look at the crap floating around all their candidates (with the possible exception of Ron Paul) it is easy enough to see a Presidential General Election loss headed their way but the damage in Congress may be astonishing. Congressmen can do little to distance themselves from their Party's Presidential candidate and these guys should be easy meat - facts and their own statements, no Swiftboating.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Conservatism

Trying to put a finger in the meaning of 'Conservatism' is a truly daunting project so first I'd like to narrow the piece we're talking about, the god stuff is out. I know all about the influence of the religious right - I just don't want to talk about it. Generally speaking conservatism is about small unintrusive government. The idea is that the free market and unencumbered citizens will make the best decisions for the country's interests. The rhetoric is uplifting, larded with references to the goodness of Americans and the rational powers of the market - sorry to say - utter nonsense.

This isn't to imply that Americans are not generally a compassionate and generous people, they are, but their generosity and compassion tend to be somewhat narrowly focused. Their enthusiasm is for those who are connected to them, either by community, interests, or social orientation. This leads to disassociation from large broad interests and those outside societal "norms." Large pieces of society are left out of the mix with no one to pick up the pieces. Without government's wide reach those outside the general American's interest are not served and to a great extent those are in their circumstances due to the construction of the government and economic system. This leads to the crux of the issue - the economic, governmental, and social construct we call America.

The free market is the lodestone of this idea of limited government and one that is never explained or analyzed completely by its proponents. Their greatest difficulty is that no such thing has ever existed within historical governments, for a simple reason - it cannot. It is a contradiction in terms, free means unfettered and market implies a system of exchange and systems are NOT unfettered. In the United States there exists a complex system of exchange and such has existed since Alexander Hamilton. The "capitalist" economic system of the US at its most laissez faire was set up to function well in certain circumstances for those utilizing certain methods and means. Such a system is not unfettered and was not so considered at its founding - witness the bitter feud between Jefferson and Hamilton over who benefitted. The main definition of their argument falls on it's merits, but it is scarcely the largest problem with it.

An unfettered economy as a benefit presumes that the interests of the nation and those of companies are somehow congruent. They may actually be congruent in the long term and concern for such congruence may bode well for a company's long term health but it is not actual practice. Actual practice is that quarterly and annual profit statements rule and within a corporation it is the responsibility of the corporation to maximize shareholder return. There is a further assumption, which is that the market holds companies responsible. Within a personal unfettered exchange there is considerable opportunity for responsibility - if I am real unpleased with the chicken you gave me in exchange for the shelter I put up for you I may kick your ass and you won't like the prospect. The reality is that I must have the resources and strength of case to sue your company, probably in the face of much more extensive resourses and influence.

An unfettered labor market means that wages are paid on the basis of desperation and labor supply, the market will pay what is required to get workers and if there is a large supply of workers avoidance of starvation or eviction becomes the base. Taxation based on influence rather than share of benefits derived from the system gets called supply side economics, the reality involves huge tax breaks for the ultra-rich (the ultimate beneficiaries of this system) with no return to the tax base on the disproven supposition that the income gains are passed down market. Small government does not mean services are curtailed or eliminated, it simply means they are patronage prizes for business. [ the ultimate example is Haliburton, driven near to bankruptsy by Cheney's asbestos liability laden acquisitions ]

It is supposed that the elimination or reduction of business regulations leads to consumer gains through the magic of markets, those supposed free markets. There are several very real problems in this scenario, the first being that companies requiring business regulation by the government tend to be large enough that absence of regulation does not lead to downward market forces, these companies tend to operate in either near or monopolistic markets, or the regulations are driven by very real consumer safety needs. The political reality of deregulation is that it occurs in favored industries and frequently in means that are favorable only to influential or dominant segments of that industry. What gets lost in the rhetoric is that all this operates within a political system, a system rife with opportunities to game the means for ends unfavorable to the country at large.

Greed, dominance, and blind ambition are the far end points of the character aspects that make competition work and they are a natural outcome of lack of restraint. One would hope that natural inhibitions would restrain behavior but it is simply silly to expect that to happen particularly often. The results of the philosophy of conservatism in economics are darn near inevitible, greed and corruption will rule the day.

Non-interference in private lives is sometimes bruited as a goal of conservatism, this is in fact nonsense. The meaning if non-interference is limited to their chosen areas, you will have great difficulty finding a conservative who advocates the decriminalization of methamphetamines, it is a drug with serious risks for users and bystanders, they in fact do not mean what they say. Even in the area of Constitutionally guaranteed rights they set limits and choose how and for whom the guarantees are applicable. One of the most obnoxious infringements prior to the "War on Terror," is RICO, the conservatives have made not one move against this act, not even at rhetorical level.

Property rights are a frequent lament of conservatives, what is lost is the idea that zoning and land use regulations are not instituted to harm the public but rather to protect its interests. The diffuculty that arises is common to most regulations, their application is broad and individuals have narrow and specific needs and wants. The answer from conservatives is the horror story of the little old lady who has owned a property for many years and regulation changes now prevent her from putting a second home for family on property originally zoned for it, the land use goal being the preservation of farm land from urban sprawl. In Oregon the story has played out such that either state and local governments pay the difference between developable value and undeveloped or developement takes place. The little old lady gets to build her house, and timber companies can build hundreds. The original land use law may not have been as well crafted as possible, but its whole sale undoing bodes ill. The owners may well not be anywhere near to suffer the consequences. Market forces are allowed free reign and greed wins.

The ludicrous aspect is that most proponents of conservatism have the least to gain and the most to lose when their agenda takes effect. The mythologized Ronnie Reagan is only a giant if you're real pleased with the state of the nation today.

In Congress, July 4, 1776

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislatio
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms:

Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare,

That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.