Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pakistan, Terror - Our Ally?

John McCain very lately stated that in regard to Pakistan that he's not "going there" since it is a sovereign nation and our ally in the war against terror. Perhaps John hasn't been paying attention, speculation about the ISI (Pakistani Intelligence) has been that it supports Al Qaeda in Afghanistan as well as Pakistan. According to the NYT there's been even some more to it, like India.
American intelligence agencies have concluded that members of Pakistan’s powerful spy service helped plan the deadly July 7 bombing of India’s embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, according to United States government officials.

The opening paragraph is somewhat lacking in qualifiers, it gets a bit more detailed as they go on,
The conclusion was based on intercepted communications between Pakistani intelligence officers and militants who carried out the attack, the officials said, providing the clearest evidence to date that Pakistani intelligence officers are actively undermining American efforts to combat militants in the region.

Are you busy remembering all that stuff John McCain says he knows how to do? Or did you drift off while George II was trying to sell Americans on our Pal Mushareff and the billions of dollars we sent him to help us? Help? A Q Khan strike any memories?

Obama is ignorant?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ted's Bridge To Ethical Nowhere

It certainly shouldn't be a newsflash to the choir here that Sen Ted Stevens (R-AK) was indicted today on 7 counts of making false statements on his financial disclosure statements. He apparently took over a quarter million dollars in renovations to his Alaskan 'cabin' from oil company Veco. Their relationship with Stevens certainly was helpful, but seemingly not criminally so. This in itself should be horrifying, but it's just a story on some networks.

What led Ted Stevens to think there was something right and proper in taking such gifts from a business, or people, isn't known at this point. (I should note these are allegations) He was elected a Senator to serve the interests of the nation and his state, not Veco nor Ted Stevens. He was appointed in 1968 and 2 years later was elected, he's been there a long time. Has 40 years in the Senate taught him unfortunate lessons?

Ted is a story today, the problem is that it is just a story and that it happens. Democrats also have been caught up in this cycle, so far in much smaller numbers and lower profile misdeeds - Jefferson being an exception. The Congress is made up of 535 members whose activities range from mundane bestowing of honorifics to declaration of war. 435 of them run for election almost constantly meeting the demands of 2 year cycles, the other 100 face election every 6 years on two year rotations. House members' schedules are grueling. Where does this story begin and what does it mean?

Once we start into how it begins we run into a maze of speculation, mostly these folks give out what serves their interests, not our understanding. What is rather obvious is that they don't feel adequately recompensed for their position, something more is their due. Somehow they should be rewarded beyond the approval of their constituents and their salaries. Many use speaking engagements, books, and articles as economic boosts, some use the less savory methods. They are not well paid in immediate funds, the pensions and health care make up some of the difference but flatly speaking for Congressmen from outside the DC area travel and dual homes can be difficult economically. But there just is no way a Ney, Cunningham, Jefferson, or Stevens cannot know that what they are doing is wrong and illegal. Do they find themselves so important and so special that the rules don't apply? Were they always this screwed up or did they get that way? It takes a large degree of egotism to run for these offices, you are going to go stand in front of people and seriously assert that you can best represent their interests to the nation and further ask them for money while doing it.

Confessional Time: I did this stuff in a Primary election to be the Democratic candidate for US House in OR-2. I kind of backed into the thing and then figured I was the best bet to beat the incumbent Republican. I was real sure I was a heck of a lot better than him, not because I'm so special but because he's...not at all. I'm not very damn modest, but pretty much so in that game.

I firmly believe there is something corrosive in the constant asking for money to compete. I found it to be very nearly humiliating to trade my invoices for concrete results in your home for an ask on a hope and a promise. Each dribble of money was a personal "good going" said to me and was recognized by me as a trade of at least a nice evening out for my hopes. I cannot speak for more than myself on this issue, but I've had other successful politicians tell me the ask is the most difficult part of the job. I can easily see how, without regular reality checks, the job could become seriously inflating to self-image. People/media pay attention to you, they give you money, they tell you you're good, you wield power - pretty seductive stuff. Maybe I've got a bit of what can go wrong down in words, but in the end it is a matter of character, wrong is still wrong.

The real issue was touched on by my blogger pal Jeff Alworthy and it involves us. We've been surrounded by scandals for the last 7 years. I don't refer to gaffes (I'm starting to hate that word), I mean what should be government rocking scandals. Our reaction, if there is one, seems to be, "Oh - really?" or, "Isn't that just like them?" In the place of fury there is very nearly complacency and that is horrible for being governed. We seem to have come to expect the behavior and in expecting it; in a way condone it. This is robbery of the worst sort, it is our trust and belief that is taken and these people purport to be best to write and enforce the Law.

I do not expect politicians to be saints nor flawless, it is a very strange job to do with very strange parameters. I do expect them to not be blatantly corrupt while I do understand favorable feelings toward supporters. I understand that wealth and power will be rewarded in this country but I cannot accept complete betrayal. While I do prefer the idea of rehabilitation, I also understand the power of consequences to fuel it and frankly these cretins are handled entirely too light handedly. In my eyes the behavior of a Randy Cunningham is a small step down from treason and twenty to life is entirely appropriate. I wouldn't care an iota if a guilty Ted Stevens died in prison - he's 84 and he knows better. If he doesn't; he's had enough time to and proved himself proof to rehabilitation.

We cannot operate as a civilized nation without trust, it is flatly impossible. We give the governing populace money, arms, and technology to keep us in line and that's a hell of an edge. The government is broken up into all these smaller units to keep it from being entirely too effective, ineffective enough that we're allowed to trust it with all we give it. That deal is broken by these corrupt jerks. In any nearly close election the winner is voted for by a minority of the eligible voters, in some important elections 30% or less of the eligible voters elected the winner. We cannot keep moving down that path, it is a route to disaster. We cannot have a system in which large numbers rightfully believe, "they're all crooks, anyhow," and expect good results. It is one thing to expect a sales job from candidates and know there's some exaggeration going on, it is entirely another to perceive ourselves ruled by liars and thieves. We are the rulers and it is time to take that back and to make it clear that screwing us is flat out dangerous to your freedom, not just your job. Ted, I hope you die in prison and people spit on your gravestone.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Obama and the World

Start out with this point in your mind, four years ago Barack Obama was in the Illinois State Legislature. Now he is running for the Presidency of the United States and just finished a tour of the Middle East and part of Europe. On his tour was a gaffe hungry media feeding a twenty four hour a day hungry beast, and he pulled it off without a problem beyond a "damed if you do and damned if you don't" missed visit with wounded troops at Ramstein, Germany.

Meanwhile, back in the US, John McCain was stumbling around making virtually a gaffe a day. The big story is, naturally, Ramstein. So far Andrea Mitchell (scarcely an Obamabot) and Keith Olberman have been the only ones to call BS on the McCain ad attacking Obama over Ramstein. It should be noted that Mitchell was on the trip and has completely debunked the McCain ad. Fires of outrage still blaze. McCain has managed to get Iraq's timelines completely screwed up, redefine the word "surge," and attack a sitting Senator as trading losing a war for politics all the while assuring us he is an honorable Maverick POW war winning machine and, demonstrably, only a POW.

I'll argue policy all day long and not get furious, this is a matter of thought and view point; then there is the point of being a lying sack of excrement. That one gets me going. The McCain campaign has been based on exactly one fact - he got shot down over N Vietnam. He is the most fact free candidate I can remember outside George II - since it worked for that guy McCain must think it will for him. Go ahead and show me the stance that McCain has that is McCain's and not BushCo's. Show me what he's said in regard to Obama that is factual. This will be a real problem for the Republicans if the media ever starts to pay attention to him. I have no reason to doubt the reports that show Obama with more media coverage and even less reason to doubt their assertion that he gets more negative coverage than McCain.

I do understand the news worthiness of the new guy, charismatic speaker guy as a basis for more attention, but I do not understand the media's willingness to essentially shill for McCain by playing his ads and attack rhetoric unquestioningly - to the extent of editing out a gaffe by CBS. This is propagandizing. I do not understand the reasoning behind this behavior, the corporate world will not take a hit from Obama, the world of wealth will not go away under Obama. The media, their corporate masters, and their shareholders will take no particular damage from Obama. The media is risking further damage to a battered image by this behavior for no return I can see. The American people are slow sometimes to get past a general narrative, but once they figure out they've been burned for their trust, they get furious. The 70+% who are ticked off at GWB will not come back to him, Iraq could come up roses and they still would not buy a nickle candy from the guy. He's done. If people finally see enough of McCain to figure him out on their own, in the face of the media's behavior, they are both going to be toast.

Amidst all the discontent around Iraq and the economy is the lurking feeling of betrayal by the media with their sycophantic cheerleading of BushCo following the September 11 attacks and run up to the Iraq war. Fox gets away with their nonsense because no one has standing to kick the snot out of them on this issue except McClatchy (Knight Ridder) and they're print. None of the major print or airwave media asked the hard questions or refrained from whacking the war drums. What we got from them was, "Oooooh look at that blast, how impressive."

McCain is caught in endless loops of him rah-rahing George and his bunch of Mission Accomplished flower catching liberators crap so his only alternative is to attack Obama's character. He cannot trump him on judgement only some fact free assertion of experience. He has been in the American consciousness for over eight years with his failed campaign against GWB in 2000 and possibly more with his "story." He is bruited about as the known quantity and that is a fiction comparing his 2000 rhetoric and his current version, he is not known beyond the congruence of his anti-choice stance. Oh, he is still a POW. POW. POW. POW... Will the real John Sidney McCain please stand up... POW.

'I'm a decent honorable POW Navy man (he won't add in comparison to George II) and I'll run a civil campaign - and lie through my teeth because I really want to be President and the media loves me.' At some point this is going to hit a wall, Americans like to believe what they want to believe but they will finally believe the evidence of their eyes and ears. I like Obama well enough, not uncritically, and I never really liked the 2000 McCain; but I loath this current Rovian version. I cannot see a substantive policy difference between him and the current White House occupant and I cannot see where electing him would mean an improvement in the character of that occupant. What do you think the 'world' sees?

If nothing else, Obama can help our image around the world; he's going to play hob digging us out of this Republican mess. Bill Clinton had 12 years of Reagan/Bush mess to try to correct and he made a partial stab at it but that was child's play compared to what Obama will have to do after only 8 years of George II. If Obama has an uncontested majority in Congress he'll have a better chance, think hard about what the down ticket means to the future. Take nothing for granted, work for it.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Promises, Promises - Senator Maverick Man

EWolf Blitzer was the recipient of this particular news flash, though one might wonder why his pal George II hasn't been privy to his wisdom. We are now about seven years out from the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks and Bin Laden is still roaming around, quite free and unjusticed. If this is just another chicken in every pot kind of thing it's a little raw. If it isn't and has some reality, then questions about Obama losing wars to win elections begin to seem real strange. That Barack guy must be totally inexperienced.

"We have various options. The Nuremberg Trials are certainly an example of the kind of tribunal that we could move forward with. I don't think we'd have any difficulty in devising an international -- internationally supported mechanism that would mete out justice. There's no problem there."

Obama should have known better than to bring up such an idea early in the campaign, at that time McCain asserted he didn't understand the reference. Typical lawyer that Barack is, he knew nothing of one of the most influential court cases in history. McCain of course learned all about it in Hanoi after missing it while finishing at the bottom of his class at Annapolis. I could have that wrong, he may have sat in on the trial with the Steelers offensive line...or something...or the other...

But just so we have some sense of the value of McCain's promises; a March 2003 interview on "Hardball" had this question:

the people of Iraq or at least a large number of them will treat us as liberators?

Some people had questioned that idea so the Maverick let us know his independent thinking:

"Absolutely, absolutely... Not only that, they'll be relieved that he's not in the neighborhood because he has invaded his neighbors on several occasions."

Now you feel better, I'm sure.

How this butt kisser ever got the reputation of being Mr Maverick is beyond me. I remember Democrats in 2000 telling me that if he made it through the Primary they'd vote for him and I thought my head exploded. This corrupt plutocratic influence peddling ideologue waved his POW photos at the press and the public's mind melted. Chuck Keating disappeared from the public record, the telecoms were a day's worth of news - primarily when it looked like sex might enter the picture, land deals in Arizona only get play there - if at all. While he can speak in complete sentences and pronounce the words; the problem is that either the facts don't line up with the sentences or he's just completed another 180* turn. At some point all his spinning could be harnessed for power generation and we won't have to drill and drill and drill.

He's promised to balance the budget by the end of his first term, really, and not only keep the BushCo tax cuts for the ultra wealthy but tack on some more for corporations and keep us in Iraq for 100 years and ... and ... bring the stars down from the sky for an American necklace.

He knows wars, he knows how to win them, an experience from exactly where? Hanoi?? How the Hell does he get away with these statements this lacking in any real world evidence? He's run exactly not one single engagement, he managed to get shot down is what he managed to do in winning wars. He sat in comfort on an aircraft carrier and flew over the war - until he wasn't flying anymore and was a POW. He's demonstrated nothing about running wars. He may or may not have demonstrated bravery as a POW, it's immaterial, none of the thousands of others are running to be President and whatever he demonstrated has not squat to do with running a country.

When you stop to consider that a Northeast Oregonian nail bender has been right about Afghanistan and Iraq a lot more than John McCain that's not a qualification for me to run for President but it surely ought to disqualify that old man. Cripes, and this thing is supposedly a close race...

Friday, July 25, 2008

After I'm President...

In an NBC interview John McCain didn't like Obama speaking in foreign counrties:
"I would rather speak at a rally or a political gathering any place outside of the country after I am president of the United States," McCain told O'Donnell. "But that's a judgment that Sen. Obama and the American people will make."

Now I'm 55 years old and have a functioning memory so some things stuck in my mind, like NYT reporting on John McCain's stop in Mexico:
We must secure our borders and then we will address the issue of comprehensive immigration reform,” Mr. McCain said at a news conference in a helicopter hangar

Mr. McCain, who flew to Phoenix on Thursday afternoon, was in Mexico on the third and final day of a Latin American tour intended to promote himself as a seasoned foreign policy hand compared with Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee.

The WaPo talked about McCain's politicking in Colombia:
The news conference, which took place in front of a linear building designed by famed Colombian architect Rogelio Salmona, was not without its technical difficulties. At one point the lamp illuminating Uribe and the visiting lawmakers went out, forcing staffers to aim lights intended for the translators in the direction of McCain and his companions.

McCain also spoke in detail about the government's battle against the FARC, describing it in the same terms he often uses to characterize the war in Iraq.

"Certainly it's my view that significant progress has been made against the FARC in the presidency of President Uribe," he said. "These struggles are always hard. I, again, agree there is a long way to go. This struggle is far from over. But I'm proud of the leadership and work of President Uribe and his strong and brave men and women working in the military."

How about photo opportunity boat trips? WaPo talked about it:
CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA -- After riding a fast boat on the Port of Cartagena and inspecting Colombian drug interdiction efforts this morning, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) declared the Colombian government should be viewed as a key ally in stemming the flow of cocaine into the U.S. even as drug trafficking remains a serious program.

"We have a long way to go to stem the flow of drugs into the United States of America," the presumptive GOP nominee told reporters in a press conference here

But nobody should campaign in the Middle East, The Telegraph took issue with McCain regarding Iran, Iraq, Shia, Sunni:
At a press conference in Amman, Jordan, Mr McCain said he was concerned about Iranians "taking al-Qa'eda into Iran, training them and sending them back".

When challenged, he responded: "Well, it's common knowledge and has been reported in the media that al-Qa'eda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran. That's well known. And it's unfortunate."

So McCain is talking about what done by whom? Straight Talk Express... Evidently the size of the crowd is the metric this is measured by, you know a quarter million versus a handful of reporters. I don't get very twisted up by policy disagreements but out and out lying about your opposition is pretty sad - particularly when the media is complicit.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

McCain's Surge Lies

Once you've listened to this, maybe you can explain to me how it makes any sense. CBS News

I don't want to start some age debate, but you'd think John McCain was old enough to know better. Saying a word over and over in a different context than its meaning doesn't change its meaning. WordNet says,
Verb 1. surge - rise and move, as in waves or billows; "The army surged forward"
Synonyms: billow, heave
2. surge - rise rapidly; "the dollar soared against the yes"
Synonyms: soar, soar up, soar upwards, zoom

It does not say anything about "counter-insurgency" as a part of the definition and neither does popular culture. Once Bhagdad was taken the exercise became one of counter-insurgency, it did not date to Col McFarland nor the Sunni Awakening. It is true that the first real successes did involve that group and Anbar Province.

How McCain makes time run backwards is to call something by a completely other name than what it was and somehow make himself right. There is no rational way to make this stuff add up, particularly in light of him saying that Obama has no understanding of Iraq. This display isn't just one of lack of understanding, it is a lying insult to the intelligence of even low information voters. If those people can manage to understand the words, they'll laugh. There really isn't much of anything more damaging to a politician than to be laughed at.

Does this make up for CBS News doing what it did with the McCain interview? Not even slightly, if this editing was done deliberately it qualifies as propagandizing for a political candidate. if you'd like to undo some of the media laxity with Mr POW, just laugh and point. Share with your friends - particularly the "undecided ones."

McCain Surrogates Taking Out Obama Supporters?

You have to go see Jon Swift to get the low down on this one. I do have to agree,
Calling voters whiners and running over the opposition's supporters with a Corvette might have worked in previous elections, but I don't think they are going to work in this one. Using such old-fashioned campaign tactics just reinforces the idea that McCain is past his prime and that he is still fighting the last war instead of formulating a vision for the future. And using men like Phil Gramm and Robert Novak, one of the few working journalists who is actually older than McCain, though only by a few years, as surrogates just reinforces the idea that a bunch of old men are trying to help McCain get elected.

That's your taste, go have a meal.

McCain's NYT OpEd Screed

Per Drudge

The DRUDGE REPORT presents the McCain editorial in its submitted form:

In January 2007, when General David Petraeus took command in Iraq, he called the situation “hard” but not “hopeless.” Today, 18 months later, violence has fallen by up to 80% to the lowest levels in four years, and Sunni and Shiite terrorists are reeling from a string of defeats. The situation now is full of hope, but considerable hard work remains to consolidate our fragile gains.

Progress has been due primarily to an increase in the number of troops and a change in their strategy. I was an early advocate of the surge at a time when it had few supporters in Washington. Senator Barack Obama was an equally vocal opponent. "I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there,” he said on January 10, 2007. “In fact, I think it will do the reverse."

Now Senator Obama has been forced to acknowledge that “our troops have performed brilliantly in lowering the level of violence.” But he still denies that any political progress has resulted.

Perhaps he is unaware that the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has recently certified that, as one news article put it, “Iraq has met all but three of 18 original benchmarks set by Congress last year to measure security, political and economic progress.” Even more heartening has been progress that’s not measured by the benchmarks. More than 90,000 Iraqis, many of them Sunnis who once fought against the government, have signed up as Sons of Iraq to fight against the terrorists. Nor do they measure Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s new-found willingness to crack down on Shiite extremists in Basra and Sadr City—actions that have done much to dispel suspicions of sectarianism.

The success of the surge has not changed Senator Obama’s determination to pull out all of our combat troops. All that has changed is his rationale. In a New York Times op-ed and a speech this week, he offered his “plan for Iraq” in advance of his first “fact finding” trip to that country in more than three years. It consisted of the same old proposal to pull all of our troops out within 16 months. In 2007 he wanted to withdraw because he thought the war was lost. If we had taken his advice, it would have been. Now he wants to withdraw because he thinks Iraqis no longer need our assistance.

To make this point, he mangles the evidence. He makes it sound as if Prime Minister Maliki has endorsed the Obama timetable, when all he has said is that he would like a plan for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops at some unspecified point in the future.

Senator Obama is also misleading on the Iraqi military's readiness. The Iraqi Army will be equipped and trained by the middle of next year, but this does not, as Senator Obama suggests, mean that they will then be ready to secure their country without a good deal of help. The Iraqi Air Force, for one, still lags behind, and no modern army can operate without air cover. The Iraqis are also still learning how to conduct planning, logistics, command and control, communications, and other complicated functions needed to support frontline troops.

No one favors a permanent U.S. presence, as Senator Obama charges. A partial withdrawal has already occurred with the departure of five “surge” brigades, and more withdrawals can take place as the security situation improves. As we draw down in Iraq, we can beef up our presence on other battlefields, such as Afghanistan, without fear of leaving a failed state behind. I have said that I expect to welcome home most of our troops from Iraq by the end of my first term in office, in 2013.

But I have also said that any draw-downs must be based on a realistic assessment of conditions on the ground, not on an artificial timetable crafted for domestic political reasons. This is the crux of my disagreement with Senator Obama.

Senator Obama has said that he would consult our commanders on the ground and Iraqi leaders, but he did no such thing before releasing his “plan for Iraq.” Perhaps that’s because he doesn’t want to hear what they have to say. During the course of eight visits to Iraq, I have heard many times from our troops what Major General Jeffrey Hammond, commander of coalition forces in Baghdad, recently said: that leaving based on a timetable would be “very dangerous.”

The danger is that extremists supported by Al Qaeda and Iran could stage a comeback, as they have in the past when we’ve had too few troops in Iraq. Senator Obama seems to have learned nothing from recent history. I find it ironic that he is emulating the worst mistake of the Bush administration by waving the “Mission Accomplished” banner prematurely.

I am also dismayed that he never talks about winning the war—only of ending it. But if we don’t win the war, our enemies will. A triumph for the terrorists would be a disaster for us. That is something I will not allow to happen as president. Instead I will continue implementing a proven counterinsurgency strategy not only in Iraq but also in Afghanistan with the goal of creating stable, secure, self-sustaining democratic allies.

Taking this piece by piece I'll give Maverick Man the first paragraph though "full of hope" could be quibbled. The we can go to work on this mess:
"Progress has been due primarily to an increase in the number of troops and a change in their strategy."

Let's deal with an accurate timetable on this nonsense, first there was ethnic cleansing, then there was a diaspora, then there was a "Sunni Awakening", and then there was a surge and violence is down is not particularly surprising. Take out any piece and you might have a different picture, but the most disposable piece is the troops. If you are doubtful look at who died, it wasn't "terrorists" it was US troops and civilians, despite the book keeping games of BushCo.

Senator Barack Obama was an equally vocal opponent. "I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there,” he said on January 10, 2007. “In fact, I think it will do the reverse."

Who died Sen McCain?

Perhaps he is unaware that the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has recently certified that, as one news article put it, “Iraq has met all but three of 18 original benchmarks set by Congress last year to measure security, political and economic progress.”

Horse crap, I give you CRS Report for Congress 6/8/08 (pdf) Table 2 which shows unqualified "S" on 8 of 18 and 2 mixed "S/U" with the "U" the more important issue. This report isn't issued by BushCo sycophants like Crocker. McCain quotes essentially himself.
To make this point, he mangles the evidence. He makes it sound as if Prime Minister Maliki has endorsed the Obama timetable, when all he has said is that he would like a plan for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops at some unspecified point in the future.

Actually your team mangled the evidence claiming misquotes when there were none and now Maliki has said it in English. Your "facts" aren't, you are in fact lying in print if the NYT published this.
No one favors a permanent U.S. presence, as Senator Obama charges.

So Sen McCain never said, "Korea" or "100 years" or anything remotely similar? I suppose "permanent" in the sense of forever or infinity might not qualify as "100 years" but most people would call that a "permanent US presence."
But I have also said that any draw-downs must be based on a realistic assessment of conditions on the ground, not on an artificial timetable crafted for domestic political reasons. This is the crux of my disagreement with Senator Obama.

Since Obama has repeatedly stated allowing for conditions on the ground the "crux" must involve something else.
I am also dismayed that he never talks about winning the war—only of ending it. But if we don’t win the war, our enemies will.

You now see the "crux of my disagreement" in operation, win.Just no definition of what win means.

So the latest is all about how McCain was willing to sacrifice a career to win while Obama is willing to take a loss for political gain. He's having that flashback to the 'Nam and the dirty hippies losing the war. You'd best remember, getting shot down is foreign policy expertise, even if knowing when things happened and where borders are is beyond him. USA!USA! "Never give a inch" to misappropriate from Kesey.

The NYT did him a favor and he's thrown it in their faces. He deserves every bit of ridicule he gets. I'm glad to help along...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

McCain's Consistency On Iraq

JedReports - HuffPo

McCain might want to stop complaining about the news media leaving him out of the headlines. He's re-made his image so many times it's doubtful he knows who he is anymore. For Pete's sake, he's not even sure which football team he lied to his captors about - or somebody. He is pretty sure gay marriage will ruin marriage though in his experience it has to do with injuries, weight (hers) and wealth (the other hers) and should be a state non-issue.

If the media paid attention and took his statements seriously maybe a CBS interview would go ahead and include his assertion that the "Sunni awakening" happened because of the "surge" rather than the factual preceding it by nearly six months. All the while he was excoriating Obama for being confused about Iraq...

Phil Gramm violated a prime tenet of the McCain campaign, he told the truth about what they believe. You won't catch Mr Maverick Straight Talk making that mistake. Democrats have embarrassed me before, but this Republican outfit is so ludicrous they've finally killed the term's meaning as excess.

Drunken Wall Street Brawl

We've told people over and over who and what these people are:

Once amongst themselves they're free to talk, you don't suppose Phil Gramm would have said the "whiners" line to voters. Now I may use some language on a job site that I wouldn't use here or other "polite places" but the thinking and thoughts behind it never changes. My agenda is the same and you get to know what it is. There is something seriously wrong with this bunch.

The Wall Street -ahem - Murdoch Rag

If you ever paid attention to the WSJ you remember when the Editorial Page was garbage of a right wing nature and the reporting was stellar. Then Rupert bought it, Facts Be Damned Reporting
Nevada GOP Cancels Convention, Opts for Conference Call
Brad Haynes reports on the presidential race.

Citing a lack of interest, the Nevada Republican Party has called off its state convention and will instead pick its delegates to the national convention by private conference call.

The state party broke up its original convention in April when supporters of Ron Paul hijacked the proceedings and tried to elect delegates for their candidate to the national GOP convention in September. Party officials tried to reconvene on July 26, but they needed a quorum of 675 and received only 300 RSVPs, according to local reports.

Now I have exactly no use for Ron Paul, he may be right about foreign adventures, but after that his train runs right off the tracks. That doesn't mean Nevadans had no use for him but you'd sure think some hijinks were going on reading the reporting provided by WSJ.

Commenters had different views, a polite and representative one:
I was at the convention and was originally quite upset with the Ron Paul people, but the fact is that the party power brokers chose to ignore the wishes of the voters and tried to select an exclusive group of their friends to go to the convention. I say that any selection list of delegates sent to the national convention should include the proportionate number of Ron Paul delegates as he earned. I will be sending a certified letter to the national committee stating my wishes as a delegate and hope that all the other delegates do likewise. When I next get to vote for a central committee, I will vote Mr. Beers out. His actions are totally reprehensible.

Comment by coffeedoc - July 18, 2008 at 10:11 pm

I'm all for disarray in Republican ranks, more makes me happier, but there is something here that ought to dismay us all. As much as it is business as usual for Republicans to ignore the will of the voters and as much as their authoritarian mind-set makes this kind of thing inevitable it is still bad news. A lack of a reputable opposition party is bad for government, we've had over six years of it, and the current crop is plainly irresponsible and this is at least partly due to these kinds of actions. I'll admit to hoping for an actual implosion of the Republican Party this year and in two years, but I'll also hope they can fix themselves and become responsible and reputable players after some time in the wood shed.

The other truly sad piece of this is what has happened to WSJ already. I never gave a damn about their Editorials, they were poorly reasoned and general hackery but you could count on them to report. Well, here you are, now. This is opinion backed by nothing other than agenda, not reporting or even partially fact based reasoning. You can thank the Republicans that Rupert can even own any media in this country.

When You Got Nothing, McCain It

So you don't think I'm making things up out of whole cloth, Out of bounds! McCain exaggerates impact of Obama's tax plan on McClatchy.
What happened: McCain frequently says that Barack Obama would raise tax rates on 23 million small-business people who file tax returns as individuals.

Why that's wrong: "It's a false and preposterously inflated figure," concluded, the nonpartisan watchdog group at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center. Many would pay higher taxes, the group said.

Urban Institute-Brookings Tax Policy Center says that considering Obama's $200K individual and $250K couple limit the number might be as high as 700,000 who would see tax increases. The exaggeration would only be 23M/700K or 35.8 times.

Now if you wanted a loan and exaggerated your $43K income by that amount your exaggeration would be $1,539,400 and that would land you in jail. Since John is just a politician and an old one and a POW nobody will get really riled...He's supposed to lie, he's BushCo's clone and a Republican to boot.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Wanna Come Play VP Poll? Vol.I

These folks are in no order and in no preference of mine. The list is not inclusive, so the deal is, if you pick somebody else go to the comments and put their name there. Tuesday I'll drop the bottom votes and republish with additions from the comments and we'll continue this game as long as you're interested... The entire poll will be refreshed so vote again after the additions. Or - if you don't want to play we'll just quit.

Obama and who for VP?
Wes Clark
Somebody else - see comments free polls
If you want to pump for somebody I don't mind, but "somebody else" costs you a comment. This is exactly as scientific as monkeys at a keyboard but it might be fun.

As The Primary Continues...Sorta

Huffington Post carried a story today about Hillary Being Vetted which is a topic I care just enough about to read the article, just. The piece I'm interested in is the Comments section, not because I expect to see anything particularly new or especially intelligent written there, the prevailing sentiment is what interests me. (if the topic were not Hillary, I might expect to find something intelligent there) The stand-out piece is that six hours after it was posted there are 1268 comments with 219 pending. A rough guess would be 5:1 'no to Hillary,' there is naturally the mix of rehashing the Primary campaign and some slanders against Obama and multiple comments from individuals. All that said, Hillary isn't going away as a net topic. You'd noticed that without my 'news flash?'

A lot of people voted for Hillary and the election was actually fairly close - revisiting history with what ifs and coulda's/shoulda's is silly - it was pretty close. The intensity remaining is what interests me and it isn't all that much about Obama or the current McCain/Obama battle, it seems to be Hillary. There are the Hilloons like "No Quarter," Larry Johnson's home of craziness and anti-Obama stupidity - Obama shoots some hoops and Taliban execute two women and NoIQ blames Obama... But what counts isn't the nutcases, it is the heat Hillary still stirs. I, personally, doubt that Hillary will be on the ticket and wouldn't like to see her there. My strategic doubts have to do with this intensity, it is high on the Democratic side, but as a vote issue it is huge on the Republican side. While there certainly is a rabid anti-Obama fringe on the Republican side it is small potatoes compared to the anti-Hillary feelings. McCain has an interest problem of large consequence, he is at less than half of Obama's very favorable polling, anything that generates greater intensity for McCain could produce problems, or at least unnecessary efforts. While Hillary's appearance on the ticket would produce less satisfaction on my part it would not affect my vote or willingness to help the ticket. At this point I am not satisfied that any hypothetical vote gain by her presence would undo the damage from Republican intensity.

While in Oregon it only takes a few minutes to fill out the ballot and a stamp or stop by a drop box; most states require some actual effort to vote. The impetus to make that effort is largely driven by satisfaction with a candidate and the ticket...or dedicated opposition. These are serious considerations and would be ignored by the Obama campaign with risk. It is hard to see where a high risk marginal return Hillary makes the cut.

McCain's Economic Vacuum

The exit of Phil Gramm isn 't responsible for the economic vacuum at the McCain campaign, and neither is McCain's ignorance. Frank Rich in a NYT Op-Ed lays out the stupidities of McCain's policies, Bush tax cuts, balancing the budget, whiners, mortgage bailouts, Social Security, oil drilling, and psychology; but he stops short by talking about VP picks for McCain.

The Phil Gramm problem wasn't one of somebody going off the reservation, what he said is perfectly accurate from a certain viewpoint, the one Republicans consider of real import. The large capital interests are either doing well or within reach of government bailouts. This has been the Republican recipe for economic growth and success, these people do well and the results dribble back down to the majority of the country's population. The words trickle down haven't been used recently but they are the operative philosophy. Since the St Ronnie days that hasn't happened, what has happened is that money is put to the use of that money. It has gone to off-shore jobs, illegal hiring, paper empires, virtually anyplace other than the economic interests of the majority of the populace. There has been a virtual complete historical amnesia on the part of the voters who supported this nonsense - it doesn't happen - the philosophy of greed only serves the interests of the top. Every time this philosophy has been in operation the only method of prying the greedy fingers loose has involved social chaos, here in the US.

There is a long history of robber barons using force to prevent the reallocation of wealth, and those re-allocations only involved pittances. Labor has been ferociously resisted by the philosophical brothers of McCain. The only reverses of wealth accumulation at the top have come at the cost of beatings, shootings, killings, and cities on the verge of chaos. That vast wealth didn't trickle down, it served its own interests until forced to do otherwise. This is historical fact not leftism. The Republicans aren't ignorant of this history, it is covered lightly in High School history and their own Party has taken beatings over it. They serve those interests and hope things won't go so badly for voters that they'll get tossed. The complicity of media in this process is not new, the Hearst empire was synonymous with plutocracy. Wild eyed bomb-throwers were the specters of fear featured on their pages. Economic gurus have shaken their paper fists at the air warning of the catastrophes coming if the left ever had its way.

The funny thing is that every time the country has aligned left of the interests of the plutocracies the economy has roared until those interests re-arose. Two quick examples, Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt. These re-assertions of power accelerate across generational spans, we are today reaping the rewards of Reaganism. The power of capital has reached the point where they are subsidiaries of the government, the government is operated by capital - directly. Tax dollars are paid directly to capital to run the functions of government and sold as business being more responsible with taxpayer dollars - in the face of the government having no profit motive.

Under the system of capitalism, by its very definition, wealth will do well. That is a given, no matter whose rhetoric is used. This country has used a managed model of capitalism throughout its history, the term Free Market is a complete misnomer - it does not exist, has not existed, and never will exist in a democratically elected government. It is a fiction of the plutocracy and one that has gained credence only through repetition. There is absolutely no historical evidence of its existence. The market operates within series of artificial constraints from labor laws to tariffs to subsidies to capital market banking systems and usury laws. There have been times when more naked force has been used, from warfare to labor suppression. Hamilton and Jefferson clashed violently in Washington's administration over the structural constraints - that is the very beginning. Somehow, over the generation from Reagan the idea that such a fiction exists has gained sufficient credence that a Democratic President like Bill Clinton operated within that matrix and only managed to slightly mitigate its effects - to popular acclaim. To grasp the strength of this fiction you have to understand that Clinton only slowed the slide of over half the economic scale versus the plutocracy and is credited with a great economy. Utter nonsense.

As McCain talks to voters he faces the outcomes of his actual constituency's policies. His challenge is to reinforce the fiction - in the face of its outcomes. He does not dare address the structural faults, they are the guts of his party and still held by great numbers of those suffering from them. Phil Gramm isn't gone, no matter if he were to drop dead, he'll still be there. His viewpoint is what defines the Republican Party. God, Gays, and Guns aren't the Republican Party, they are the sops thrown to the masses in service of their actual deity - plutocracy. John McCain is not ignorant of economics, that is a pose that covers his inability to deal with the bankruptcy of his myths in relation to the average voter. Will this election cycle result in an economic re-alignment? I'm doubtful, voters still have not gotten a grip on just exactly how badly this economic model treats them. The historical levels of wealth dislocation in this country are not the daily news; something meaningless to your economic survival is.

John McCain will struggle with economic issues, there is little he can do to avoid it. He will pander and flip flop and generally be foolish looking and try very hard to win on something else. Barak Obama can't make a direct attack on the Reagan myth, the Republicans would out-and-out label him a socialist. There is essentially no will in Congress to address this in any systemic manner, at this point any real roll backs would be seen as draconian and confiscatory by large numbers of deluded voters. What is open to question is whether the slide will be arrested or not. Do not expect to do any better economically without huge shifts that are already ruled out by concluded Primaries. So - you're screwed for the foreseeable future.

Hosting Sen Ben Westlund

Ben Westlund is a smart, charming, politician. If you check his website you'll also find that he's a terrific candidate for State Treasurer. Ben Westlund's dedication to the people of Oregon is beyond question. His management skills have been demonstrated in private enterprise and in the Oregon Senate. The last gubernatorial race demonstrated a fine political judgement and an ability to subordinate personal aims to a larger issue.

Ben Westlund sank a Republican career over principles. If that has little meaning to you, political thinking is beyond you. I may be perfectly pleased to have Ben Westlund as a Democrat, but there were payments made by the Senator for that change. His enthusiastic support of Gov Kulongoski's campaign last election made a large difference. These are not matters of small import nor of small personal consequences.

It was a real pleasure to get personally acquainted with Ben Westlund and I am happy to have added my name to his list of endorsers. The down ticket races for Secretary of State, State Treasurer, and Attorney General have real impact on the function of our state government and its ability to well serve its citizens, you can have confidence that a vote for Westlund is in that interest.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Phil Gramm "Resigns"

Phil says the Democrats have made him the issue, “It is clear to me that Democrats want to attack me rather than debate Senator McCain on important economic issues facing the country,” he said Friday and that he was resigning. So now the symbol is gone what about the substance? McCain has his economic program (such as it is) that Gramm had a large hand in designing. So we're supposed to believe that the plan has gone away?

If you're happy with the economy today, then McCain is your guy. He supports all the conditions that have created this economy. John McCain supports now and previously the war in Iraq and its funding. Unquestionably. John McCain has stated publicly that the BushCo tax cuts will stay under him. McCain has pushed for Free Trade (as defined by Republicans). John McCain supports every economic policy of BushCo. And he has to or his money base will walk.

In this economy the best McCain has got is to insinuate that Obama is a socialist, others like Boehner use Marxist, the dirty word they're all straining for is liberal. That would be anybody to the left of Herbert Hoover.

Texass Republican Convention

Hat Tip to Andrew Sullivan and Clio at Balloon Juice Comments

Tell me again about the New Yorker cover? Is there really ridicule for these people that is excessive? This is GWB's base and McCain's vote. When you think about those POW ads and the All-American values they're supposed to appeal to keep this crap in mind and make the point. How far exactly would I have to go to say something this offensive and untrue about McCain? You can believe that the Democratic Party of Oregon has no love for George II and his McCain clone, but... nothing remotely close, ever. Can we survive another empty Flight Suit in the White House? Probably.

Politics has been described as war by other means, if this doesn't tell you that a real fight is called for, that your money and especially your time is well spent on this endeavor, I don't know what it would take...

New Reader?

It occurred to me after I put up the Democratic truck that I'd just recently done a travelogue and interspersed truck and travelogue with a bit of McCain bashing and that new readers might find themselves saying, "what does this guy think he's doing?" Ok.

I like to write and I like to write about what interests me and try to be interesting while doing it for your sake. (since the site meter says some people actually read this stuff) I like cars, or maybe more accurately, vehicles and I like guns and shooting and I like politics because they're important. You get what I've got today. Today I loaded 3600 pounds of roofing and tore off shingles and coordinated a political event and media and tried to get another one going - you get pictures of my wife's cool truck that I just spent the evening detailing.

How about a Democratic hand cannon? A Ruger Vaquero in .45 Colt, a modestly powered round? Nope, this thing will put a 365 grain bullet out at 1350 feet per second, 150% the weight of a 44 Magnum at just barely less velocity than the magnum's 1400fps. This pistol will reliably hunt anything in Oregon. It also pounds your hand. With standard Colt rounds it is a joy to shoot, well balanced with a slick trigger and easy to be accurate with. I stand firm on the 2nd Amendment because it is important and I bring that to the Democratic Party because I'm sick of losing elections over stupid stuff and a Republican mantra that Democrats hate guns. People like to talk about stolen elections; well here's a news flash - you can't steal 'em if they ain't close... (h/t to Mike - you know) Al Gore and John Kerry lost their elections over guns and that's a damn stupid thing to do. (really - consider George W Bush for a second) Go ahead and ask me why I'm Vice-chair of the DPO Gun Owners Caucus and why we'll go hunting those votes.

No this is not reasonable transportation, my wife drove this thing for 3 years, all year around, studs on all four in the snow, it has 32K on the odometer and if you're gentle with it will get 15 mpg on Premium - these Bush economy days it stays parked - a lot. It goes from 0 to 45 mph in 60 feet on a dragstrip, it's kind of like the world exploded. I spent 4 months taking this car apart and putting it together the way Chevrolet would have built it 35 years after they actually did. Unlike the muscle cars of yore this thing stops and handles. It's a 1962 Chevy II Nova, sorta.

Here's a funny thing, my Democratic friends, I shoot competitively and drag race with some of the nicest people I've ever met. The guy you just beat will help you find a replacement for a broken part or give you a hint for improved performance. These folks tend to vote Republican. As a construction contractor, shooter, and drag racer I'm a bit of the odd man out as a Democrat. This really isn't reasonable.

If you don't like these kinds of things, find out about them before you oppose them, if you want to talk about something like gun control, know what firearms are and what the laws are. Reasoned discussion is impossible from a point of ignorance. Economically these are Democratic voters.

I'm going to spend several hours with Ben Westlund Saturday, so maybe I'll have some political insights you won't get from MSM...

Friday, July 18, 2008

Democratic Truck - SSR

Saturday morning Senator Ben Westlund Democratic candidate for State Treasurer will ride in the Baker City Miner's Jubilee Parade in my 2004 SSR. Two years ago Carol Voisin did the same in her run against Rep Greg Walden (R-OR2). I used it in the OR2 Primary as campaign transportation, it runs in the Haines OR 4th of July Parade bearing Baker County Democrats banners and it sports an Obama sticker. It is a perfectly good Democrat.

Since Chevrolet didn't build many of these there aren't a lot of people familiar with how they work, or even what one is. If you push a button on the console with your foot on the brake pedal, the top goes away, as you see above. It is fascinating to watch, even when you're used to it, a gadgeteer's dream. It becomes a sleek convertible with no effort on the driver's part, nice weather fun that takes about 30 seconds to accomplish, a red light is sufficient if the weather changes or desires change.
No, it is not a car, it is a 1/2 ton pick-up, the saddle bags in the rear remove easily, about 1 minute each (if they're empty) and the toneau cover is held on by two self-aligning bolts though it takes two people to remove and place into its storage bag. The wood strips are also removable.
Seats are heated leather, driver's automatic adjusts for two drivers, full gauges, 4 speed overdrive automatic tranmission, full info readout on odometer screen, steering wheel controls for 6 CD Bose stereo with automatic equalization. It is one of the most comfortable vehicles I've ever driven or ridden in and by far the quietest convertible I know of, it is quiet compared to luxury cars. All this with a 5.3 litre (327cid) 300 horsepower V8 that gets 22 mpg highway.
The handling is outstanding, sort of a 5000 pound Corvette - with a really big trunk.
It isn't a reasonable family with kids vehicle, two is the seating, no matter how good friends you are. It isn't the sort of thing you'd dump a frontend loader scoop of rock into. It has a limitted tow capability, the hide away hitch is cool, though. It certainly is a nifty parade vehicle.
Chevrolet began production in 2003 1/2 model year and finished in 2006, '03-04 were 5.3 L and from then 6.0 L/400HP, 4K units the first partial year and 6K there after. This car is the fully optioned model with running boards, full gauges, finished bed, and 6 CD player.
If you're in Baker City Saturday, wave enthusiastically as we pass by and stop at Paizano's Piza on 10th at noon and have lunch with Senator Westlund and Baker County Democrats. We are all grateful to my wife that she lets us use her truck.

Media Pity for McCain

The McCain camp has been whining about media access lately, their candidtate is getting less space than Obama. One has to wonder if they're shooting themselves in the foot with this stance. Other than name mention most media coverage lately has been of a negative tone, for either campaign, so I'd suggest that considering McCain's record, it's been in his favor to be ignored. The media was excluded from his trips abroad because they were official Senate business. McCain's spokesperson called Obama's trip a campaign rally overseas, one notes a certain honesty about the purpose in Obama's case versus McCain's. McCain says people can make their own decisions... Ummm, the people who paid for it?

I'd say that the guy who gets Shia, Sunni, and which runs or ran which country, Iraq/Iran confused, hasn't noticed that Czechslovakia went away 15 years ago, and for pete's sake doesn't know who runs the the Senate Foreign Relations Committee how - Biden not Obama and Biden has consistently wanted Afghanistan hearing in full committee:
As you are aware, under my chairmanship the Foreign Relations Committee has addressed most Afghanistan issues at the full committee level. I believe that this is the best way of ensuring the most comprehensive examination of the complex issues involved, and of ensuring the highest-level Administration participation. ...
Sen. Obama has displayed great leadership on this issue: he called nearly a year ago for the deployment of at least two additional combat brigades to Afghanistan -- it has since become the accepted position of a wide range of U.S. military officials, including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I look forward to working closely with him, and with you, on any future Afghanistan hearings that might be held in our committee."
McCain's real luck with the media has been the skewering of his surrogates for repeating his stupidities baldly rather than getting him caught out at it. The media hasn't been mean to McCain, they've given him passes Obama would die for. McCain's record of mean sadistic jokes, policy reversals, and outright lies don't make the cut. A General well versed in political-military affairs suggests that getting shot down and imprisoned isn't a piece of the qualifications for CiC gets blasted for days in the face of the numbers of those who also were POWs and never ran for any office nor have suggested that they are qualified whilst the McCain campaign runs non-stop on "I'm a POW." When the POW states that he "knows how to win wars" nobody asks just what wars and what he means by winning. Nobody might be a tad strong, left wing blogs like this one and Olberman ask...

When the old start to dodder around say stupid things we take pity on them and don't make fun, well then there's the issue of one of them trying to get elected President...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

McCain Learns From Inexperienced Obama

John McCain has scoffed at Barak Obama's inexperience and naivete in foreign policy; to hear him tell it the man is dangerous to our security. Now he's decided to learn something from Obama, Afghanistan is in trouble, needs troops, so he's up for Obama's position that at least 2 brigades need to be sent. It would seem that with the draw in Iraq for troops they must come from that center of action. This shocking development was shortly followed up by damage control in a more shocking fashion.
I know how to win wars. And if I'm elected President, I will turn around the war in Afghanistan, just as we have turned around the war in Iraq, with a comprehensive strategy for victory."
Apparently we're back to the POW theme, somehow from Hanoi, under the very noses of the N Vietnamese, John "Maverick" McCain won the War. You're not convinced? You had some idea that we lost that war? Since that's the extent of McCain's combat military experience, he must be privy to something the rest of us aren't. There are 100 US Senators and I don't remember them running any fact I seem to remember his kissin' buddy, George W, making the point that he's the decider. Now I know McCain is older than dirt but I can't remember him making any claims to have generalled in WWII. In fact what we do know about McCain is that he knows how to crash Navy planes - several.

Now it is true that John McCain can't tell the difference between Shia and Sunni and which runs Iran - or Iraq, and it is true that McCain was one of the biggest booster of the Iraq war in Washington and it is true that McCain isn't real clear on what countries still exist, Czechoslovakia, but he was real sure Saddam Hussein was going to supply al Qaeda with WMDs that he didn't have and wouldn't give the that bunch ever... Joe Biden isn't impressed:
"President Bush and Sen. McCain lump all the threats together," said Biden. "Al Qaeda, the Shia militia, listen to them speak. Listen to my friend Joe Lieberman, and he really is a friend, listen to them speak. Find me a distinction that they make. As a consequence of this profound confusion they make profound mistakes. The idea that al Qaeda will cooperate with the philistine, a guy who in fact used to run the country in Iraq, the guy who did away with the caliphate... is completely contrary to anything that the now-dead leader of Iraq had in mind. It's dangerous. How can we run a sound foreign policy without understanding these decisions? How can we talk about a Shiite-dominated nation cooperating with a Sunni dominated Wahabi sect of Islam as if they had anything in common? Yet listen to my friends, listen to the president, listen to Joe Lieberman, listen to John McCain. Ladies and gentlemen, if they can't define the enemy we are fighting it is very difficult to define whether we have won or lost."
So how it goes is the inexperienced Obama opposed going to war in Iraq and taking our eye off Afghanistan and has advocated withdrawal from Iraq and repositioning in Afghanistan while McCain has insisted along with George II that Iraq is the forefront of the battle against Islamic terrorism and just how to start losing Afghanistan. Considering the record, I'd say McCain has no clue and I'll take inexperience backed by thought and judgement. Republicans must find this all very odd or just deny its existence...

Monday, July 14, 2008

New Yorker Obama Cover - Vote

What do you think about the New Yorker cover

Funny Satire
Insensitive and obnoxious
A non-issue
Hurts Obama
Helps Obama free polls

So now that you've made your opinion known, here's mine:

So what? It is a political cartoon and if you are stupid enough to take it seriously; you weren't going to vote for Obama anyhow. I understand what the Obama campaign has said, I just flat out don't agree. Low information voters are one thing, people who take this stuff seriously do so for their own reasons.

The readers of the New Yorker are a fairly select group so the reading part of it will be them and not the low information group. The idea seems to be they'll see the cover on a news stand and take it from there or see it on the news. If it is on the news and the sound is on...? That kind of leaves the argument resting on the news stand. A person sees this on a news stand and thinks...what? Oh this cartoon just verified my worst thoughts after getting that email or hearing about it? Oh, pshaw.

A Pictoral Tour Of Portland to Baker OR - Almost

On Saturday and Sunday 7/12-13 the Democratic Party of Oregon held meetings in Tualatin south of Portland. On Sunday afternoon the Merkley and Obama campaigns held the opening of their office at SE Division and 30th in Portland so I stopped by to pick up some campaign paraphernalia and save shipping. Since I had bailed off the Interstate and was inside Portland I decided that I was tired of driving 350 miles on I-84 and I would cross Oregon on OR 26 which runs from Portland past Mt Hood and pretty much across the center of the state. Many of my readers are unfamiliar with the territory so some pictures seemed in order. I didn't get out of Portland until after 5 PM . ***click the pictures for full size***

Below is OR 26 outside Sandy approaching Mt Hood after driving across Portland and Gresham and Sandy. Mt Hood is white in the center and the highway cuts along the southern shoulder of the mountain, right in the picture. This is the wet side of Oregon, though it is drier than the coast. Traffic was light and running at the speed limit - for a change.

Below is just east and south of Mt Hood, central OR looking east. There's not much out there.
Leaving Mt Hood behind, in the rear view mirror, driving very nearly due south. This is the western edge of the rain shadow of the Cascade Mts. and it is dry.
North of Madras is the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, picture is looking west across the valley/gorge with the town of Warm Springs at its bottom. In the distance is the Cascade Range. The Deschutes River (h/t Hanna) runs through town. The trees in the foreground are junipers, a deep rooted species found in semi-arid conditions. The color of the wood ranges from a light tan through orange into dark brown with a very twisty grain. Some folks make furniture from it and the colors are quite pretty, though it is difficult to use and seldom is utilized. When juniper spreads uncontrolled it draws the water tables down quite badly. The SSR seems to sneak into photographs.

About half way between Prineville where OR 26 turns nearly due east, it is a very curvy road, ducking around lots of things, like that knob ahead and frequently following streams or rivers. This is at the foot of the Ochoco Mountains, leaving that range.
Entering Picture Gorge of the John Day Fossil Beds, I'm just a little late for the sun to pick up the colors well, the background is still lit showing the colors that are beginning to wash out of the foreground.
In the middle of Picture Gorge following the N Fork of the John Day River on about the longest straightest stretch of road in there. Lots of 25 mph curves and very little off the road you'd want to involve your vehicle with. Sharp rocks are a consistent tire hazard from falls.
Just exiting Picture Gorge looking across the John Day River with the Strawberry Mountains in the background, I've always felt as though this is the entrance into Eastern Oregon. The river has some nice trout though on much of it barbless hooks are required and some fish are catch and release only. The highway will take me to the north of the Strawberries, or left in the picture. As you see in the picture the light is beginning to fade and I still have a couple hours to go to get home. Bad planning for any pictures near Baker City, an hour out it was pitch black and the half moon wasn't sufficient for photography.
By home I've left Portland a bit above sea level, crossed the Cascades, crossed the Ochocos, and crossed the Elkhorns for mountain ranges and several pretty good grades that aren't actually mountains in these parts. Running at 63 mph with the top down on the SSR hurt mileage a bit, it managed 19.3 mpg rather than the 22+ it would get otherwise. I'll take the trade off, it was a nice day and a nice drive with only a few suicidal Mule deer requiring hard braking. I always pack a handgun for euthanasia purposes though it's been years since I hit one. My wife would be pretty hard to get along with if I bent up her SSR with a critter.
I stopped in Dayville (pop a couple hundred) at a cafe thinking I'd just grab a bite, but they were just closing. A handful of locals on the front porch sipping some suds were quite impressed with the SSR and considerably less impressed with my "I'm A Grassroots Democrat" badge. Some light banter was exchanged, but having lived 20 years in E OR I learned long ago to keep it light and not take it too much to heart. If you intend to be a lefty Democrat in these here parts it pays to have a sense of humor. I have that.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

POW McCain's Political Football ?

We have been reassured repeatedly that McCain's service isn't a political issue, by McCain as he runs a blitz of POW commercials and whines when someone doesn't equate getting shot down with CiC qualifications. It certainly seems strange that tales from the good ole POW days get swapped around depending on what city you happen to be in. ABC has Senator POW giving Pittsburg Steeler fans one thing:

And then McCain told a rather moving story about his time as a P.O.W. "When I was first interrogated and really had to give some information because of the pressures, physical pressures on me, I named the starting lineup, defensive line of the Pittsburgh Steelers as my squadron mates."

That was today and this is then:

In McCain's best-selling 1999 memoir “Faith of My Fathers,” McCain writes:

“Once my condition had stabilized, my interrogators resumed their work. Demands for military information were accompanied by threats to terminate my medical treatment if I did not cooperate. Eventually, I gave them my ship’s name and squadron number, and confirmed that my target had been the power plant. Pressed for more useful information, I gave the names of the Green Bay Packers offensive line, and said they were members of my squadron.
There certainly is the fact that then he wasn't in Pittsburg and today he was. be sure the story is from nearly 40 years ago and memory in an old man can be slippery or maybe...what?

Note that McCain is a war hero, OK, and...

McCain's Gramm "Mental Recession"

If you've wondered whose interests the Republican Party and their nominee John McCain serve the statement by his economic advisor Phil Gramm ought to clue you in.
"You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession," he said, noting that growth has held up at about 1 percent despite all the publicity over losing jobs to India, China, illegal immigration, housing and credit problems and record oil prices. "We may have a recession; we haven't had one yet."

"We have sort of become a nation of whiners," he said. "You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline" despite a major export boom that is the primary reason that growth continues in the economy, he said.
You see in the world Gramm and McCain move in there is no pain, no lost jobs, no wage depression, and no choices between gasoline and other items. They have gold plated health insurance their interests served by three branches of government. Your complaints are whines.

A major export boom is the natural consequence of the tanking value of the dollar, along with soaring gasoline prices or any other imported item. This statement isn't about plain stupidity or tone deafness, it is their reality. Their real constituency, wealth, does well out of this situation even with a dropping stock market. They are not truckers, they are not construction workers, they are not...well hell, workers in any shape or form. A tank of gasoline for their yacht or jet aviation for their jet would be annoying at $10 per gallon but wouldn't force choices. The factory that leaves still pays into their pockets.

John McCain says Phil Gramm doesn't speak for him, odd. He certainly speaks to him - a lot. If there is any real clue as to what John McCain really thinks look at his tax policy and economic regulations. This is Phil Gramm. This is one of the smart people McCain surrounds himself with on economics, the ones he references to back up his economic policy ideas, Gramm by name. McCain has a real problem with this one, his constituency of wealth wants what Gramm advocates and McCain stands for, but the unhappy public doesn't like this talk. What's a McCain to do? Ambassador to Belarus as a joke won't do the damage control needed and if Democrats are real smart this will stay on the top of their chart. The "bus" references are already out but even with that, there is gold to be mined by the Obama campaign.

The dirty words of "Savings and Loan" and "Enron" are laying there waiting to be picked up. Gramm's fingerprints are all over the legislation that led to these disasters along with "mortgage meltdown" and "oil speculation." McCain's involvement in all of these, beyond his toadying for Chuck Keating is demonstrable. McCain vote for this stuff and supports it to this day. This is one of the results of the idea that "riding in a jet and getting shot down" qualifies someone for anything. Policy has a lot to do with qualifications, as well as judgement. Gramm is a definitive example of both on McCain's part.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

FISA Foul Mood

Some more nails are being busily driven into the coffin of the 4th Amendment. I have, over time, yowled about previous depredations but this one drives me past that into essentially silence. It isn't really the immunity that's done it, that is civil immunity not criminal, it is the rest of the package. If I didn't see a handful of Senators, including my own - Wyden, opposing this I'd just quit politics.

Farm Labor - Illegal

I'm real unsure why it is that farm labor becomes an issue whenever amnesty or path to citizenship comes up. Republican Brad Blakeman just brought up the fact that 40% of that labor is illegal and what will we do about 40% less groceries on the shelf? How exactly he plans to keep the newly legal farm labor down on the farm is beyond me. With legal "impediments" removed they would certainly prefer a better paying less stressful job, as with St Ronnie's amnesty. To make up the lack we will do just as we did after RR, in-source some more workers - illegally.

The agenda is to keep wages low and not inconvenience the plutocrats by enforcing hiring laws. One reason the Social Security data base is so screwed up is that no attempts have been made to weed out the fraudulent use of numbers. It is not that difficult to to sort non-issued numbers, duplicate numbers, and deceased numbers. It would cost money to fix the data base, but mostly it would inconvenience the employer cheats and force wages up.

It is not a matter of the work, it is a matter of the pay for the work. Americans do a lot of really crappy jobs, they do it for money that makes up for it. This is not about discriminating against a racial group or ethnic group, this is about wages. These wages discriminate in themselves against our citizens living in poverty, whatever race or ethnicity. The sympathisers ignore on whose backs they they place the burden. They ignore the history of the US. They ignore simple economics.

This nation is already the most willing and receptive to immigration in the world, questions?

Free (?) Trade

The first rule of economics or sales pitches in general should be that as soon as the word "free" enters the discussion you're being lied to. So far as I know not even the air you breath is free, if it's dirty you'll see doctors and if it's clean you've paid somebody to not dirty it up. Trade is an exchange of goods and services for goods and services. In this process of exchange there is bartering going on, somebody gives on something. In this process one of the barters made is the American public trading jobs and wages for cheaper products. This might sound absurd, but the trade is made on the backs of the invisible man, he worked inside one of those big ole factories making something, from a lawn chair to an automobile or heavy equipment or pieces of those products or pieces of the things that make those products.

Now the company that makes those things found that Congress could help their bottom line and shareholders by removing the obstacles to cheaper labor and infrastructure by letting them move to...say Mexico. Thanks to the plutocratic government in that foreign country pollution controls aren't an issue and paying crummy wages trumps the peonage inflicted on the citizenry by their governments. Transportation is a breeze and product defects are easily subsidized by the cost cutting and the shareholders make out. The guy who had that job is in dire straits now, he takes a lower paying job to get by, possibly doing the same work with a company now in competition with his old boss' cheaper costs. The family now has no health insurance and with the lower pay is skirting disaster daily, and when they fall - and they will - the taxpayers pick up the bills.

Another trade is the uncontrolled products entering the market, like poison pet food or toxic toys, your personal security is traded in exchange for cheaper products. The $100 you saved on toy purchases is now worth a lifetime of brain damage from lead paint - something removed from the product stream in this country decades ago. The big box discount store you shop at consistently squeezes suppliers with foreign product prices subsidized by near slave wages, non-existent quality control, and filthy production facilities - filthy enough that the Pacific Ocean isn't big enough to keep their crap out of our surface water. Poison from China rains in Oregon. You drink it and eat fish from it and buy the crap that is poisoning you and killing your fellows' wages.

Yes, the plutocrats have decided that their wealth insulates them from the effects of their "free" trade and that trade increases their wealth. Your health and income be damned. Capital gains rule, and at 15% tax are less than the FICA bite on your check, that's right, you and your employer pay 15.43%. You pay, every day, a subsidy to the plutocrats to depress wages in taxes and increased health care insurance premiums for cheap junk.

Don't mind that places, like maybe Columbia, have killed labor organizers on a regular basis, you can get stuff cheap if their workers are kept down. Their plutocrats will make a killing, either with the help of ex-patriot US companies or their own. There are only two really large variables in production costs, one is labor and the other facility costs. Smoke stack scrubbers aren't cheap, they keep crap out of the air, but they have a cost. Labor in this country has expected to be able to get along without daily worry about disaster. Free traders and free marketeers will tell you it is labor's fault for making poor personal choices, they picked the wrong jobs, didn't get enough education, just didn't want to work hard enough.

What they don't want to tell you is the dirty little secret that from St Ronnie Reagan on, the US government has made it its business to subsidize the rich and depress wages. Free traders tell you that trade isn't a zero sum game, and it isn't if you look at it without accounting for the subsidies and losses to workers and the environment - here or there. The US used to be accused of neo-colonialism for stripping countries of their resources, that hasn't changed, now it just includes their labor force and their environments in the stripping.

John McCain loves this stuff, remember he's been on the governmental teat his entire life, that and married rich - the next time around. His pals are good at stripping the American public, either with Savings and Loans or representing dictatorships or Enron-like entities. Try to find a time he hasn't seen or doesn't now see wealth and privilege as his constituency. If a company sucks on the taxpayers' dollar he's in their pocket - war industries, telecoms, oil and gas, big bucks and corporate headquarters location be damned. There are studies enough to show the drop in income for the lower 40% of income earners and a partial showing of the gain of the top 5% and nothing even near the truth of the rapacious winning of the top 0.1%, though what shows is shocking.

The American worker as shown repeatedly that on even a near even footing no place on earth can exceed them for productivity. Once transportation costs are factored in, it isn't even close, and yet the jobs leave and wages plummet. There are entire product categories where a "Made in America" label are impossible to find. Free traders will have you believe that it will raise the standards of the countries involved, this certainly isn't going to happen if those countries' governments can help it, if it happens the companies will desert them for one where it hasn't happened - ask the Mexicans. Mexico is now an import door for China and much of what they were making has gone there. Once it's in Mexico it's a NAFTA item.

Free trade is a cheat and a deceit, nothing is free. The middle class is starting to find out that as the bottom falls out they begin to slide, also. Money doesn't move down, never has, it moves up. Nothing the wealthy class has came from someplace else, it is an upward stream. They're re-channeling the stream, off-shore, and with that diversion the upstream flow that went through the middle is now bypassing them. Ronnie Reagan's trickle down was a myth, the rich produce nothing, they take. There is no such thing as "on paper wealth" that is computer bytes or ink on scrap paper and worthless, it rests on production.

If it is in the ground or grown or made from those things work had to go into the end of it, the value of any paper come from the labor that made the end product. The really disgusting piece of the whole mess is that the work they cannot outsource they in-source. Businesses are fighting tooth and nail to keep their illegal hires without penalty. And so wages slide and Americans are less and less likely to want the jobs.

If you're reading this on the 'net at work and you're saying, "hey, my job doesn't involve calluses and sweating," look at the stream involving your job, somewhere it involves labor. You cannot have a service industry without labor, at one point it is basic to what you do, even if you never see it. The invisible man keeps you in money. Free my ass, keep your hand on your wallet when you hear that crap.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Obama, Buyer's Remorse?

It seems there are a bunch of people who are now unhappy to find out that Barak Obama is a politician. This a guy who started his career in Chi-town politic and in that city and Illinois they play the game in a rough and twisty manner. Barak knows how to be careful with his language and how to read the public. Many of the unhappy people have not paid attention to what he has actually said, rather what they wanted to hear. They also are apparently unaware of how the politics of legislative bodies works.

Let's start with what he's said versus what people wanted to hear. In February when it became clear that the Supreme Court was going to hear the DC gun ban case on the basis of individual versus collective right he said clearly that he did not see how the 2nd Amendment could not be read as an individual right. He was not and is not a friend of gun owners in general, what he is being is a realist about what the ruling means. He is neither responsible for the ruling nor is he a fan of the outcomes - challenges to blanket bans and capricious or draconian licensing.

He has repeatedly stated that we need to leave Iraq more carefully than we went in, that his 16 month withdrawal plan was subject to conditions on the ground. Anyone proposing military strategy that ties themselves to one particular line is a fool - need I mention George II? The simple fact is that a withdrawal or retreat is one of the riskiest military maneuvers and things can go bad suddenly and drastically. Many people are aware of this and it is politically stupid to ignore that people are aware, and just as stupid to ignore that his opponent is trying to make political hay out of military inexperience.

Ignorance of legislative politics leads to unrealistic and rigid expectations. The FISA bill that has people in an uproar was decided some time ago, like virtually all bills. The speeches on the floor are window dressing, all for looks, the positions were fixed long before all the public relations talk on the floor. Supporters were courted and counted, amendments offered and accepted or rebuffed long before you see it. Political calculations were made by both Parties and individuals regarding votes. Many of the "maverick" votes you see were Party approved to allow a legislator to appeal to home voters without damaging the vote outcome. On odd occasions a Party will deliberately sabotage a vote or an amendment, there are costs involved that make this rare. Even more rarely a legislator will cross the Party position when his vote matters. People see the show and think it is the reality, it is not and cannot be. You may hear explanations on the floor or partisan attacks but this is for the show not the action. Read Obama's explanations and forget the media's and Republicans' and the web's nonsense.

I am entirely unsure now and in the past how people expected Obama to achieve consensus and bipartisan accomplishments from a hard left position. If you are actually left and you actually expect to elect a politician from that point of view, I would assert that your home is LaLaLand. Wishful thinking regarding leftism is silliness, the country is not left, it may be drifting more left than in recent years but the starting point for that drift is what counts. This country is centered much more right now than when RMN was President, so much that he now would be considered left of center. Any drift that is talked about today is encouraging but it is not what many seem to think it is. Obama's home districts both in the Illinois legislature and Congress are fairly liberal in outlook compared to the nation in general and even there he has been pretty measured in his politics, this isn't new. Buyer's remorse is not reasonable nor sensible and feeding the media and Republicans attack material is not a good idea nor based on facts.