Monday, June 30, 2008

Joe Horn's Mistake

Today Joe Horn was cleared by a grand jury in the shooting deaths of two people burgling his neighbor's home. The Houston Chronicle has more details but the essence is pretty simple, Mr Horn was in his home when he heard breaking glass, saw two men entering his neighbor's home and called 911. While conversing with the operator about going to see what he could do carrying a shotgun and being dissuaded by the operator he saw the men exiting and went out. He called out to them "...move! you're dead." and shot them.

The thing that saved Horn was that the men crossed onto his property where he was and came close to him, apparently causing him to fear for his safety and he called a warning. Texas law is not the same as it is in all states so not too much should be taken into account anywhere else. Horn was sufficiently in the legal right to stay out of court but he is said to be terribly affected and would next time stay inside.

Horn's actions were mistakes on many levels and he will have to live with that. It is impossible to state whether a police officer might have shot one or both, since that's not what happened, but Horn did. Mr Horn had the right to go outside, but doing so placed him in imminent danger from someone committing a crime. He had no knowledge of what risks he was placing himself in the way of to do something about a property crime. He could easily have gone out there and been shot by them for his trouble, over a bag of stuff. He could also have walked into police officers already in a stressful position with a shotgun and have provoked a shooting that way or have distracted officers from the criminals. What he did do was make this particular burglary a capital crime, the offenders died for it.

Theft is an infuriating crime that seldom gets prosecuted because the thieves are seldom caught. People are rightfully upset to have their stuff taken, just because it can be, after they've put work into the getting of it. That doesn't change the fact that it is just stuff, some hours worth of work to be replaced versus life that cannot be gotten back. These two illegal alien thieves are not disposable because of that, people have been known to change their lives and that cannot happen when they're dead. Maybe they never would have amounted to more than a waste of air, that judgement really shouldn't have been made in this case or forced to have been made.

Police are paid to know what to do and how to do it and particularly to keep citizens from having to do it. It is dangerous and foolish to try to do what professionals are paid to do. Had Mr Horn been in his own home and shot them in there I wouldn't have any criticism of his behavior, that is not what happened.

I have to admit that if I saw someone breaking into my work truck I'd be really torn about not stopping it. I'm pretty sure I'd make the 911 call and at the least shout out the door to try to short circuit my loss. What I am sure of is that I wouldn't go outside at the risk of my life so I'd have to take a gun and that immediately makes my stuff worth killing for. As important as my tools are to making a living they're not a life and death matter.

Please note, I do not know your state laws and you should if you have a weapon.

What Have We Done To "God" ?

Generally speaking humankind seems to have a desire to have a Supreme Being, a Creator of the Universe. This would seem to bear some implications for His attributes, the size and scope of the creation. All the stars we can and cannot see down to the subatomic particles making up all of that creation infer a huge act of creation, something well beyond the scope of human concrete conception. We can blithely speak of millions of light years, but our reality is much more constrained, we look at an ocean and know it is larger than what we see, but our conception is limited to "a lot of water," estimates regarding the gallons of that ocean could be made, but there is again a limit to our ability to conceive, we know what a gallon is, but after a certain number it exceeds our ability. This limitation of concept is important, it puts God in a realm beyond our capacity to deal with in concrete conceptual terms. Religion fills this gap.

Religion acts as an interpreter and conduit between limited humanity and the Creator of the Universe. This is accomplished through rules of conduct and rituals of contact and it is here that difficulties ensue. Religions depend on intermediaries such as Jesus, Mohammad, Prophets, Popes, etc. to write the rules and rituals, these intermediaries are the voice of God or the hand of God, divinely inspired. The difficulty is that these are also humans, using human language and concepts, with all the limitations involved in being human.

Words are human derived concepts, love means what it means in human terms, this is not necessarily a universal concept, nor is it even universal amongst humans. But we apply these human concepts to the creator of a universe as though our conceptual framework is somehow applicable to the entire universe. In this process we get to statements such as "I am a jealous God," a phrase that with God replaced with your own relationship definition, ie: husband, friend, etc. would place you in an unattractive category. Behaviors are rewarded or punished by the Lawmaker. There grows from this a certain narrowness and even meanness of behavior on the part of God. Only certain specific intermediaries offer salvation or other rewards.

Ancient religions endowed their gods with very human attributes and some really childish behavior at times and some current religions continue the practice in very nearly the same form. The more modern versions of gods seem a bit more adult in behavior but still reflect very human methods and rationals. The teachings of Christ himself, as quoted, were a huge advance in kindness and concern for our fellows but the New Testament as a whole reflects attitudes of a god much less oriented in that. The figure of Christ is very nearly other worldly and yet the God is very reflective of the world.

The apparent reason for various iterations of God to have such a close resemblance to ourselves rather than the Universe is that limit of comprehension of the very large we face. A personal god that steps out of our reach becomes something other than personal, in fact becomes unfathomable. While the greatness of god or gods has long required intermediaries, this role becomes meaningless if the intermediaries try to present something beyond comprehension, something where gibberish may as well replace words. Science has created huge problems in this respect, not with things like evolutionary theory that bother so many, with elements of scale. Gods remained pretty much within grasp when the stars were lights in the sky and very small was something you could hold in your hand and see, when something near the scale of creation came to have definition, gods began to skid badly.

Today we have some idea of what the Universe is about and some idea of its scales of very large and very small and gods haven't kept up. Our gods still have to speak to us in terms we can understand but we have an idea of the disconnect between that and the scales. This disconnect isn't just felt by the scientific community, little children know about the concept of light years thanks to sci-fi shows and microscopes are commonly understood. At some interior reach this touches chords that may not be fully recognized but still are vibrating away.

Here we are in a modern enough world that ignorance of these things is scarce and yet fundamentalism is rising. The absolute word of various Books is law and sacred and irreproachable. The gods become more rigid and more human in behavior, it is seriously postulated that a Christian God smashed an entire city to punish a few libertines. We would chastise a 5 year old for similar behavior on the same motivation. I only use this Christian example as one generally familiar to my readers, there are plenty of other examples and not nearly enough time? How can this be so?

When a matter of faith collides rather spectacularly with fact something must give. It is horridly difficult for either faith or fact to be dispensed with entirely but something still must give. What gives is that piece of us called critical thinking. God must coexist with reality so therefor rather than modify God to fit, God simply becomes more rigidly defined and locked in place in defiance of the forces pushing for change. Even when there is no action taken against a God he is perceived as under attack. God is under attack, but not from external forces, the Devil in this case is internal, the battle between awareness and faith. Faith demands that the God of the Books continues to exist as defined in those books and reality keeps demanding something more to deal with those scales of existence.

There certainly are religious approaches that attempt to deal with this, they are frequently referred to as liberal theology, but their adherents still face that scale problem as they attempt to hew to the Books. The Books become more subject to interpretation as allegories and advanced understandings of evolving meanings. This loosening of the bonds has consequences as larger and larger portions of the Books become optional or reinterpreted. One consequence is that the sects of the same Book become almost unable to communicate within that framework and anger and distrust is engendered.

As some sects become more liberal the more conservative or fundamental become more so in response to the apostates. The feeling of being under attack is increased by the betrayal by their fellows and a hardening of position ensues. Government is increasingly looked to as a protector and advocate. A tightening of ranks occurs, the not like us are increasingly despised and denigrated. Threats are seen everywhere and the god must be strengthened, both by his followers and in himself, he must be dangerous to oppose.

This is scarcely the first period in history to go through such upheavals. The historical record is full of examples and when they are closely examined large social and scientific changes were occurring. Gods and religions that very much should have been of salutatory effect on their followers became instead agents of harm. Pick the time and the god, what he became was one angry mean son of bitch. Not a god I care for.

War And John McCain * repost

Though I only kind of like Gen Wes Clark, here you are again...

I won't denigrate John McCain's service or his suffering in Vietnam but I will take a look at what this has to do with his viewpoint regarding warfare. John McCain flew jets for the Navy, fighter bombers. John McCain was shot down over North Vietnam and captured. He suffered at the hands of the North Vietnamese. John McCain is a brave man. His experience of warfare is also one of the extreme minority of those in combat.

John McCain's experience of combat involved flying high over it and dropping bombs, a quiet removed experience with moments of extreme danger. This wasn't a safe job, in fact, the percentages of airmen injured, killed, or captured in combat was quite high. This isn't about bravery, it's about the experience.

Between hours long missions the jets were parked on an aircraft carrier in virtual safety and their pilots had safe beds and good food. Pilots are officers, support are enlisted personnel. In John McCain's world of war, gentlemen engaged in combat and were cared for by enlisted men. Their world was safe pampered and had very limited contact with native civilians, it was a closed society of volunteers.

Contrast this with the life of ground troops. These men endured the climate exactly as it was, heat, mud, rain, filth and fought in it. Their beds were cots or the ground and at no time safe and you have to experience food under these conditions to appreciate that C-rats and MRE are fuel not food. No matter where the troops went in country an enemy could be found at hand. If they were lucky enough to have barracks, there was no assurance that a grenade wouldn't roll through the door or that the base wouldn't come under mortar attack. Ground engagements took place at close range, the blood stink, and cries of wounded all right at hand to be experienced. The vast majority experiencing this were enlisted men and of them a good percentage were conscripts. The numbers involved meant that injury and death were a regular experience, and that experience was personal, it happened to people at arm's reach.

These men came from a wide spectrum of the United States and their experiences involved large numbers of families and friends. These men came home to a country torn by the war. They had experienced it on television before going, in country, and after their return. Their families and friends had the war on television before, during, and after their return. The nation as a whole dealt with the second hand reality of war.

John McCain went to war as the child of he military world, the top of its hierarchy. He grew up in that world and served as one of that group. Once a prisoner he had no experience of the conflict at home and the slow grinding of opposition and loss. John McCain started the war, served in the war, and came home from the war divorced from its social and political costs. John McCain suffered as a consequence of being shot down, but he never experienced the war in the context of more than a handful of people compared to the rest of the nation. What John McCain actually knows of warfare comes from a unique perspective and serves us poorly. A few visits to Iraq in the hands of the propaganda machine have nothing to do with the suffering of the civilians and the grinding danger filled life of a trooper. A faux fighter jock got us into this mess and the idea that another fighter jock has a clue about it is ludicrous.

I make no argument regarding military service as a benefit in a candidate for any political office. It has nothing to do with judgement, what it has to do with is personal experience. You can find any number of Vietnam War ground combat vets who state that the war was sold out and could have been won. It is not a basis for political judgement to have been shot at in war. A combat soldier's life is measured by minutes, decisions and actions have immediate consequences, thinking is drawn down to the very narrowest of considerations. This is the very antithesis of political thinking, where decisions may not have measurable effects for years. The measure of John McCain as candidate has nothing to do with military service, it has everything to do with his record as a politician. He has demonstrated with votes who it is he serves, the elite of money and power - not Americans.

Second Amendment Individual Right And End Of World

Heller V DC just brought civilization as we know it in these United States to an end. Really, the gun control, gun ban crowd would have you believe the streets will be awash in blood thanks to a finding in favor of an individual right. DC Mayor Fenty states that more guns means more crime, and says it with not only a straight face, he says it with conviction. So now guns will just be everywhere in DC and everybody will have one and just shoot each other to pieces?

Let's just back the train up here. DC has had a draconian handgun ban since 1976 and they still are shooting each other to pieces. DC pols blame VA for this. What they really mean is that despite a gun ban there are guns aplenty in DC. What guns there are not in DC are the ones in law-abiding hands. There can't be because it is against the law. To be sure there are probably ordinarily law-abiding people who violate this one, but is asking for all kinds of trouble. If every law-abiding citizen who wants one buys a gun that will surely result in a net increase of firearms in DC.

There evidently hasn't been much problem with the getting of a gun in DC, there seem to be plenty to go around in criminal circles. Law-abiding citizens having them will result in more crimes for what reason? People who haven't killed their neighbors or spouses will suddenly want to because they can buy a gun? Criminals in search of guns will break into houses to get them? That might actually be a side benefit of a burglary but as a motive it is a rather risky method compared to buying an illegal one. It is surely an aspect of legal ownership that burglary will become a bit more risky in DC. I qualify that statement with reason, I strongly doubt that DC will not put road blocks in the path to private ownership. They're going to have some real problems if it becomes capricious or elitist.

There are a handful of communities in the nation with draconian, capricious, or otherwise questionable firearm regulations. California and Massachusetts may have some difficulties with their laws. One thing is quite certain, owning firearms is not a universal desire in this country. The numbers of lawfully held firearms will increase but where that leads to an increase in mayhem is unclear. Most of the bloodshed pictured by the gun banners is already either a fact - in criminal circles - or accomplished with other means by homicidal bent people. Do I think firearms crimes won't increase? No, I think they will, but I don't think the number of murders will increase. The guy who beats his wife to death may opt for shooting her, the intention is the same and the result the same, simply a different means. I think firearm accidents may well increase as inexperienced people acquire things they should learn about and don't. I'm afraid our culture has mystified and mythologized firearms to the point where that is the common denominator among non-shooters.

Entertainment media and, most unfortunately, news media present inaccurate and frequently completely stupid portrayals of firearms. It is not an easy thing to hit a target with any firearm and handguns are particularly not easy, just pointing isn't likely to achieve good results without a tremendous amount of practice. Firearm lethality is exaggerated in many cases, a handgun is certainly a lethal weapon, but the bullet must hit something lethal and the body isn't that chock full of them. Entertainment depicts things that just flatly don't happen, people are not thrown or even knocked down by bullet impacts. The idea that body parts explode is a fantasy excepting large caliber high velocity bullets, or small caliber hyper-velocity bullets.

There may be some people hurt or killed by firearms that shouldn't have been as a result of this decision and there may well be people hurt or killed who should be, how that will balance I'm unsure. There will be cases where the presence of a firearm will just stop a crime without anyone hurt and there will be crimes uncommitted out of fear of running into an armed victim. These latter cases will not be documented in any meaningful way and thus not appear in the record. Gun banners are fond of citing the lack of such numbers and never bother to note that they aren't really reported.

The world isn't going to end and neither is violent crime going to disappear as a result of this decision.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

McCain and Terror Attacks

We're going to start out with an acknowledgement that this is a distasteful subject.

Charlie Black's comments to Fortune magazine about the McCain campaign being favored by a terrorist attack in America have stirred some talk. Frank Rich in the NYT isn't so sure. I share some of his thinking. There is one issue that the BushCo have created as a definition of themselves and this is it. They banged it hard in '02, '04, and '06. It played for them in the first two elections, '06 showed real signs that it was getting pretty tired. This time out it looks as though people are more worried about their wallets than much of the rest of issues. There is also the part of this terror card that won't go away by playing it, people are burned out and see themselves as having been burned.

Rudy tried terror as his identity in the Primary, it wasn't near enough to counteract his non-base views, tack to the right as he might. John McCain is thumping of the drum of victory and war hero, his attraction at this time doesn't seem to be gaining ground. He is linked by more than the (R) to the BushCo gang and as he tries to run away from it and keeps getting yanked back by his reality seems to be stuck with it. He can make some 2000 type cases but his clone status since will keep him firmly in that camp and as Democrats make more of it he should begin to suffer from Bush III.

Americans have watched, some closely, most distantly, as BushCo has made the case over and again for its behaviors on keeping us safe. Many Americans are at least somewhat aware that Constitutional questions have arisen from their zeal. Most Americans know Iraq has been sold as a part of the war on terror and a lot of money has been spent and people killed. Almost all Americans will admit they've been told they are safer today because of the (R) brand.

So, the deal is McCain is linked to those who say we're safer thanks to the war on terror they've waged. If the safer part of the equation gets broken against the back drop of "success" in Iraq and all the domestic actions people are likely to say, "Huh?" Obama has spent quite a bit of verbiage on the idea that we are not safer thanks to BushCo and being the 'I told you so' guy isn't exactly disqualifying. John McCain has kept saying I know how to keep you safe, implicitly crediting GWB for it. Two names on the ballot and a disaster fresh in the mind...

If Charlie Black hadn't stated this pretty baldly others have been and would have. It is the kind of thing you talk about with the hope it is never more than talk, leaving one feeling slightly dirty. Fear mongering is not dead, far from it. It will be used in this context and others. It is the final refuge of those with little in the way of reason to bring to the table.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Voting Against Gordon Smith - Jeff Merkley

If you are one of those rare birds, a moderate Republican or moderate right independent, you might find yourself in the position of wanting to vote against Gordon Smith. I'd applaud that decision, he doesn't represent your point of view, his voting record says not. He is in fact a George W Bush lap dog and exercises his "moderate" stance only when his Party knows it doesn't matter to the vote total. He is allowed by the Leadership to "backslide" for left leaning Oregonian voters if they don't need him.

Many of you are finally angry about the corporatism and wealth favoring of the (R) brand, that is the pocket Gordon lives in. He's never seen an ordinary citizen bill he was in favor of, and if you live in OR, you are overwhelmingly in the "ordinary citizen" category. This is not a State of big money interests, not in any comparison to most of the country, our median income lags the average and our business sizes considerably lag the upper end. Our interests in truly big business come mostly in the matter of purchases, we aren't employed by them. When Gordon sides with the Bush faction he ignores the interests of Oregonians.

Jeff Merkley is Oregonian in view point, that is a consequence of his political history and personal history. His business dealings have been small, his contributors small, and as Majority Leader his focus was Oregon. You don't have to think too hard about what that focus means nationally, not that Oregon will get special treatment, but that Oregonian type interests will be served. Jeff certainly is not Republican, not previous incarnations and especially not the current ones, but he is quintessentially Oregonian. He is the guy a nail banger or logger or retailer might know and be friends with, that's his personality but more to the point, his background. It is unlikely a person moves greatly beyond their background, Gordon is wealth and privilege and shows no sign of thinking past that. Unless you're a real wheel, you wouldn't socially find yourself in the same room as Gordon - now or then. I'm not proposing the faux have a beer with George kind of thing, Merkley is the real deal.

I'm a Democrat, and I'm a left Democrat and I've been paying attention to politics for a long time so I don't easily get enthused about politicians. I look at them and take a pretty cold blooded assessment, and no, Jeff isn't as left as I am. That orientation is rare in this country and I don't expect it to be much reflected in politicians with any hope of election. Sometimes I find myself voting against a politician - generally Republican - rather than voting for one; not this time. Jeff Merkley represents what is good about the Democratic Party along with a practical turn of mind that means he can get things done. A frozen ideologue who can't get anything done is useless, maybe it would make for good TV, but that isn't the object of electing people. Jeff knows how to take stands and he's taken some strong ones, but he knows how to make things work. As House Leader Jeff has demonstrated this election cycle already - in Democratic electoral leads - just how successful he has been at reflecting Oregonians.

The Republicans in this State are in disarray, they are getting pounded badly enough that a lot of possible districts aren't being contested by them and they're in trouble in the ones they are contesting. This doesn't happen by accident, it isn't really a reflection of GWB's approval ratings, it is about approval of what the Democrats have done here. Here. Jeff Merkley, House Majority Leader. He gets things done, he gets things done Oregonians approve of, ask yourself how good that is for the nation as a whole to have Jeff Merkley bringing that to national politics.

I have that Jeff Merkley ActBlue button on my sideboard and I'm proud to have it there. I'm proud that the Merkley campaign considers my respect and advocacy of value to them because I seldom give this level of support to any politician. I am a Democratic Party of Oregon functionary and I do work for Democratic politicians pretty much as a matter of course, this is more than that. This isn't a matter of a generalized our guy versus theirs, this is a matter of Jeff Merkley can be a real good Senator, bringing to the US Senate the things about Oregon that are good and right. Jeff Merkley isn't a little better than Gordon Smith with a different ( ) after his name, Jeff Merkely is better than most candidates anybody is running anywhere for any office from any Party. That's strong language - it's merited.

***Use that button - this stuff doesn't happen for free, ya know***

Merkley for Senate

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Individual Right of 2nd Amendment Upheld

Long time readers will be surprised to see a short post on this subject. I am disappointed by the margin at the Supreme Court, 5-4, but I am less than astonished at the finding. The historical record is clear, despite the dissent, and this outcome was assured if the record held any meaning.

My friend, Zak Johnson, over at Blue Steel Democrats has an article that I don't see myself improving on, so go over there and then stop back.

The SC ruled against total bans as an infringement of the individual right. The concept of individual right guaranteed that DC's ban would go, but the idea of unlimited rights has never been affirmed or even hinted at. The statement about the 1st not allowing the shouting of "fire" in a crowded theater makes it clear that certain exercises of a right are universally and inevitably disastrous and have no redeeming value. The question that has not been sorted out by this ruling is where that limit lies.

This is the crux of the issue. A sawed-off shotgun is a fearsome self-defense weapon, and uniquely qualified in that use as both not needing great accuracy and not over-penetrating but its role in criminal activities is also fearsome. Fully automatic weapons are regulated for the simple reason that their ability to fill the air with bullets guarantees disaster with them in general possession. These examples are about the nature of the function of the arms, the thing, but the real danger comes in the person of the operator.

We continue to see things as a problem rather than the societal effects that create operators of a criminal nature. We continue to try to band aide the problems by addressing things rather than the operators and the root causes of their behavior. As an example the entertainment industry's portrayal of firearms and shooters is almost complete nonsense; it isn't a case of artistic license being a problem; it is that this license exists in an atmosphere of ignorance. By demonizing a thing, education and knowledge of it evaporates and complete horse pucky becomes common currency.

There are perfectly good explanations for the existence of gangs and their use of violence to protect turf and the usage of firearms. These explanations have not one thing to do with the existence of firearms and everything to do with both governmental policies and societal constructs. As long as the focus is on the thing, we seem to be free to ignore and not address the actual problems. For some reason "gun control" is seen as a left idea, it is in fact authoritarian and a perpetuator of the problems the left proposes to address.

The mere existence of a firearm guarantees that the criminal use of it will happen, the criminal will find a way even though we attempt to make that difficult. The object is to reduce the criminal activity and that requires changes in the environment that creates criminal activity. The War on Drugs is the most corrosive use of governmental resources I know of, it creates huge profit potentials accompanied by violence, encourages bureaucratic corruption, and ensures the restriction of civil liberties and encourages scoff law attitudes. Removing this one policy would tremendously reduce firearms violence but we are wedded to it for some unfathomable and historically nonsensical reason. (oh it's free lance pushers vs government endorsed pushers)

While I find Heller only mildly influential it may force open a dialogue regarding dealing with the actual problems rather than trying to bury them under gun bans...don't hold your breath.

Regarding Telecom Immunity

I've been thinking about the issue of telecom immunity and I'm less sold on the idea that it is a really big deal. There is this piece, the President of the United States told managers that what he wanted was legal and important (or that he would cover them). The important piece of this reasoning is that it was not their independent decision arrived at for their interests, it was solicited or instigated by a law enforcement arm of the US government.

The upshot of civil lawsuits would be losses to the telecoms and depending on the damages and punitive judgements the losses could be significant. Those losses are not suffered by some single individual or some in isolation, the damage spreads through the company, stockholders, employees and finally customers. One thing that must be understood about businesses is that they do not suffer alone, increased costs result in added charges or less service or combinations of this. A business has two choices, survive or not, and because there are few places to go for recovery of costs, those few places will pay.

What I do not like about this is the message it sends that responsibility is abrogated to government for legality of behavior by companies. Companies are expected to follow the law, they are expected to know the applicable laws concerning their business. There is almost no chance that a competent lawyer in telecommunications would have assumed that wiretaps without warrants were legal. Something in the ordinary expectation of behavior went south and the government was involved. This exception to behavior is dangerous. It is absolutely the business of the individual to resist abrogation of rights and power by government but whether it is or should be a legal responsibility may be quite questionable.

There is little impetus for these companies to engage in this behavior on their own. I am not particularly worried about them. I don't like what they've done and it is dangerous and I am ashamed of our country for this, but I also don't know that it merits their serious harm.

What I find really troubling are the actions taken by BushCo. The trampling of civil liberties by this crew in the name of security are horrific and must carry a cost. There is little chance that orange jumpsuits and manacles are in their future, but they must be made to pay in a coin that discourages such behavior in the future. In all probability the only payment available is political. If that is the case the behavior must be exposed and denigrated and made politically impossible. The conditions of the world will not become suddenly paradisaical in the future, it will continue to be a dangerous and confusing place. There will continue to be threats and uncertainties that encourage the loss of civil liberty for perceived security, this tendency must be resisted.

I suppose that I am somewhat disappointed that Obama changed his stance on telecom immunity, more by the fact of the change without clear rationals than the effect. What I do want to hear is a clear denunciation of the behaviors of BushCo and its exposure. I want this crap stopped in its tracks and rolled back. I want this dangerous.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Paul Helmke - Brady Campaign Liar

Paul Helmke has repeatedly stated that it is plain on its face that the 2nd Amendment is only applicable to militias and therefor the Military today. He has ridiculed arguments opposing this view, a view with no historical precedence, and made it clear that only loons saw it as an individual right. Now, ABC quotes this guy:
"We've lost the battle on what the Second Amendment means," Brady Campaign president Paul Helmke told ABC News. "Seventy-five percent of the public thinks it's an individual right. Why are we arguing a theory anymore? We are concerned about what we can do practically."

Theory? The only people engaging in something theoretical was Helmke and his ilk. The language in the Amendment cannot be twisted into the loops the Brady Campaign proposed, it flatly cannot make the case. You have got to understand this concession in real terms, "We've lost the battle," means exactly what it means, they engaged in a battle to crush a plain right.
"We're expecting D.C. to lose the case," Helmke said. "But this could be good from the standpoint of the political-legislative side."

On a Court that is narrowly split on right and left Helmke expects to lose, understand the thust of that statement. Helmke has long asserted the right to strip ordinary citizens of the 2nd and he expects to lose? Every assertion that what the Brady Campaign was up to was Un-constitutional was ridiculed, Brady opponents were labeled gun-nuts and kooks for their stance. Helmke expects to lose a Supreme Court decision about the very thing he has advocated as Constitutional.

So, when was Helmke lying? This decision is not about what most Americans view as an individual or collective right, it is about what the Supreme Court views it as. If you are advocating the mangling of the Bill of Rights amendment numbered two and you have doubts...what in the hell kind of person are you? He did not state, "oh, we've had an epipheny," no he says we expect to lose.

Every time I've read this guy I've been struck by how much straighter a cork screw is than he is. I'll argue differences in policy, but I'll be damned if I'll argue against lies, I'll just call them such and prove it. I will not be polite about it, a liar is just that. Screw Paul Helmke - liar.

Scalia Activist Judge

The dissent filed by Antonin Scalia in Boumediene v. Bush was scathing concerning the dangers of releasing Guantanamo detainees.

"At least 30 of those prisoners hitherto released from Guantánamo have returned to the battlefield."

It is flatly untrue. Seton Hall University School of Law calls Scalia's contention an "urban legend," based on misinformation provided by DoD to the Senate Minority Report of a year ago.
On December 10, 2007 The Seton Hall Center for Policy and Research issued a Report,
THE MEANING OF "BATTLEFIELD": An Analysis of the Government’s Representations of
‘Battlefield Capture’ and ‘Recidivism’ of the Guantánamo Detainees, which demonstrated that
statements asserting 30 detainees had returned to the battlefield were incorrect. Further
developments since then, including recent hearings before Congress at which more information
was provided by the Department of Defense, confirm that the 30 recidivist claim is simply
wrong and has no place in a reasoned public debate about Guantánamo.

This report is Senate Report No. 110-90, pt. 7, p. 13 (June 26, 2007), Minority Views of Sens. Kyl,
Sessions, Graham, Cornyn, and Coburn; easily the usual suspects when fear mongering is about. It wouldn't be quite so disgraceful if it had not been refuted by the same entity that made the claim initially:
First, a Department of Defense Press Release in July 2007 belied
both Mr. Dell’Orto’s testimony and the Minority Views relying on it. Second, and even more definitively, a Department of Defense document produced at a House Foreign Relations Subcommittee Hearing on May 20, 2008 abandons the claim of 30.
The actual number may be 12 although there exist acknowledged mistakes by DoD in identification. Of these released detainees not a single one was released by a federal judge or as a result of Habeas Corpus. These releases were the responsibility of and actions by DoD.

A recent suicide bombing by a former detainee, ISN220 has something to say to us, this detainee was captured as he attempted to escape to Pakistan from Tora Bora, the military identified him as having trained with Al Qaida after going AWOL from Kuwait and being issued an AK47 and ammunition by them. He acknowledged participating in Taliban fighting and that he wished to harm Americans and was committed to jihadism. The military did not wish him released and yet he was. The relevant documents are redacted concerning why and what action was taken concerning ISN220 or Al Ajmi.

What ever Scalia was on about:
“[the Court’s decision] will almost certainly cause more
Americans to be killed.”
certainly has nothing to do with Federal Court review of Habeas Corpus and may have everything to do with essentially capricious decisions by Guantanamo Bay and politicians. If making a dissent based on untrue information regarding unrelated activities by unrelated entities is a basis for corrupting one of the oldest English law traditions enshrined in our Constitution in incontrovertible language isn't Judicial Activism I'm real unsure what that term is supposed to mean. It would appear to be, in this case, whatever a Republican fear-monger wants it to mean.

Let me be clear about something, I understand that sometimes concepts become clearly radically wrong with the passage of time, such as a provision that a slave is 3/5 of a human, but addressing that wrong in the spirit of increasing liberty and rights maintains the spirit of limited government power envisioned in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. For the Supreme Court or a member to assert that any Constitutional provision should be abrogated to narrow personal liberty by the expansion of governmental power is plainly ludicrous.

As a document the Constitution as a whole spends little time verbiage on giving the government power, it primarily breaks that power up and severely limits it. There was a very clear understanding by the Framers that governments tend to attempt to accrue power at the expense of the citizenry and their liberty and that the tendency should be stopped at certain lines. Antonin Scalia has proven himself unworthy of the robes he wears with this dissent alone. He proposes on the basis of factually inaccurate statements to be in favor of an unlimited power of the Federal Government to hold incommunicado and rightless anyone that Government states it would. It would not matter if the statements were actually true, the establishment of tyranny should be met with determined resistance. Antonin Scalia should at the very least be denied the company of all thinking individuals and shunned by the public at large. Frankly a ride on a pole clothed in tar and feathers would be more appropriate than the dignity of robes.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Who's Got My Million Dollar Putter ? ! !

Today we got the sad news from Kari that Gordon Smith has cancelled his Bandon Dunes Golf Fundraiser. No multi-million dollar corporate jets winging in and the $5K per checks go...where? Kari wonders,

Possible Explanation #1: He didn't want to be photographed hanging out with a bunch of special interest lobbyists. (Of course, his people say that's not the case...)
Possible Explanation #6:Or maybe, just maybe, there really was a scheduling conflict. Your job, my fellow BlueOregonians, is to figure out where Gordon Smith is on Saturday. What could possibly have come up at the not-exactly-last minute?

I'm not about to steal much of Kari's snark thunder so you gotta go there...

But he's missed one, you'll have to take my word for it,

"Even if you never met him, you know this guy," Rove said, per Christianne Klein. "He's the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by."

He's heard about Karl's analysis and was skeert Obamabi would be there taking up his wall space and one can't have the caddies doing that... Per Strom Thurmond per Trent Lott per Gordo...

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Fear Card Rises Again And Other Nonsense

Charlie Black spilled the beans to Fortune Magazine when he told them:
The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December was an "unfortunate event," says Black. "But his knowledge and ability to talk about it reemphasized that this is the guy who's ready to be Commander-in-Chief. And it helped us." As would, Black concedes with startling candor after we raise the issue, another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. "Certainly it would be a big advantage to him," says Black.

This would play with Mr 9/11 and a verb Guilianni and sleepy Thompson running out and taking shots at Obama for supporting the Supremes in regard to Habeas Corpus while McCain and Graham ran screaming like little girls who'd seen a spider. These Senators took an oath to uphold the Constitution, there weren't any damn wiggle words in it like mostly or sometimes. Unlike the 4th with the arguable term "unreasonable" there is nothing but clear wording regarding Habeas. Run screaming Americans, the government has to show a court it has reason to hold possible bad guys.

For somebody to argue as a candidate, as Barack has done, that the rule of law is important would immediately make him one of those elitists.
"Even if you never met him, you know this guy," Rove said, per Christianne Klein. "He's the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by."
You know, as though a black kid at Harvard ought not take advantage of his education to learn something about law. I won't make a big deal about Country Clubs having a lot of those leaning black guys...

Aren't you scared of an elite black guy who'll let people go to court? McCain and company are going to try to milk this one for all it's worth. As we move toward October would anyone be surprised to see elevated threat levels? Kind of depends on George II doesn't it?

Let's just kick their asses, I'm tired of it.

House FISA Cave And Outrage

I had held hope that the most public connected piece of Congress, the House, had some nerve regarding FISA, George II, telecoms. Turns out it was limited to an approaching General Election and looking weak on - of all things - terror. The left is in deep dungeon about this, fury that is redounding to the discredit of Sen Barack Obama. Simply put, I'm damned unhappy about it.

That unhappiness is tempered by something, the clause "unreasonable search and seizure" has been around for quite awhile, since it is number 4 in the list of the Bill of Rights, and the concept of unreasonable has been pretty thoroughly kicked around previously. There was a little abortion of a bill termed the RICO Act that was instituted to battle organized crime, specifically the Mafia, that poisoned the well very completely. Since this idea applied only to a despised minority - the Mob - it was pretty well ignored but here is the part that gets all the way into your face; it means all of us. The deal is this, the simple accusation of criminal enterprise involving more than yourself allows the government to take your stuff as a part of or the results of criminal activity. I didn't say proven activity, many cases never go to trial or verdict, but the stuff is gone. Stolen. You can, of course, sue to get it back - if after your assets are gone you can afford an attorney to get back what is yours and if you can get the Federal government to allow you to sue. Oddly, there is also the issue that the agency responsible for taking your stuff also profits from it. Would that encourage misbehavior? Under this Act you are treated as guilty before proven so.

There's little doubt the telecoms knew spying for George was illegal and that he told them not to worry he'd cover it and any attorney worth spit told them - it doesn't work that way. There's scant doubt George and his minions broke Federal Law. There's even less doubt that our wannabe kinglet is a dickhead. Do you want to make a bet how many Americans are pissed off that he might have heard them telling their spouse they'd be late? If you're in doubt tell me about all the times you've heard people foaming at the mouth about RICO.

Not too long ago it became public knowledge that the FBI had prowled a Portland, OR lawyer's home without a warrant looking for evidence to support a warrant. I seem to remember a complete lack of riots in the streets. It did make a news cycle. It is still considered to be OK.

You're really pissed about FISA. I'm kinda pissed, that's because I look at Civil Liberties as a whole, as my natural rights guaranteed by the government, not granted by them. I've watched the steady erosion of those Rights by people who should know better and supported by the same people who are kicking up a storm now. When I note that the same people screeching about FISA also tell me that the right to keep and bear arms is optional I get kind of dubious about their sincerity. One of the reasons I own things that go bang is because if you break into my house I'll blow a hole through you and if you happen to be a warrantless FBI it'll be rough on your health. A pretty far fetched idea, but so are a lot of things, like the Fed spying on phone calls without a warrant.

If the unpopular one, GWB, visits your neighborhood there'll be designated free speech areas. Now I'm unsure about all the rest, but I figure my free speech zone consists of where I'm standing at the moment I decide to exercise it. You'll tolerate something different? Why? Because some SS (Secret Service) officer tells you to? Will you tell him to fuck off? Really now, will you?

As long as most of America occupies the political segment of right wing today referred to as centrist, this crap will continue to happen because those hapless people in Congress want to get re-elected and those are the votes that will do it. The Senate has been in the tank for FISA from the beginning so expecting wonders from that august body is...unlikely. If you think there'll be an uprising of popular sentiment over you being spied on, burgled by authority, or your stuff stolen by police agencies you're deluded. People, in general, don't care because that stuff happens to those others.

The actual motivating impulse of government is to accrue power to itself, it will sell this as the good of the people - behind a smirk. It will continue to happen, just as it has - The Alien and Sedition Act was Madison's idea, flat out despotry from a Revolutionary. HUAC and Senate Subversives Committee are from my childhood, flat out despotry. Nixon and his agents provocateurs are from some of your childhoods. It goes on and on and the fires of freedom remain banked - and frankly will continue to remain banked. You're expecting a lot to expect the American public to arise over philosophical issues, you might have some problems with shutting down churches or grabbing guns, maybe.

So, here's the deal, I'll join in on the outrage when you tell me you'll join in with my outrage over the entire mess, the entire damned Constitution becomes a fighting word. When you get out an poke your neighbors over every Civil Liberties issue - no matter whether you've a dog in the fight nor not. Sure, I'll call your House Representatives rat bastards for being in the 293 who voted yea, my Oregon Democratic delegation unanimously voted nay, naturally opposed by our rat bastard Republican Greg Walden (R-OR2)((I hang my head - my district)). {head hanging mitigated by my having run in the contest to replace him}

I made the protection of all Civil Liberties a center piece of my campaign, it was worth 11% of a crappy turn out. If you think I exaggerate, go back in the archives of this blog to 2006 Primary season. I've spent your money, my money, and a boatload of my time and effort on this issue in as serious a manner as I can think of, to little effect beyond having a handful of regular readers and credibility to bitch about about the non-response leading up to this.

T Jefferson once made a statement about the tree of liberty needing the periodic nourishing of the blood of patriots, sucker is pretty malnourished now and likely to become much more so in the future. This is why I play in Party politics, trying to avoid the necessity of that blood.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Gordon Smith Puttering Around

Surely by now you've heard about Sen Gordon Smith (R-OR)'s spendy golf clubs, 4 of them for a cool $1.5M and in honor of his "hobby" he's having a $5K per person fundraiser at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. One could hope he'll get caught in a sand trap.

Gordon and his allies may think the only thing Obama is good for is caddying on those links, not to put too fines a point on it:

Gordon found the whole affair quite unfair, surely Trent didn't mean anymore by it than Gordon meant by saying he's opposed the Iraq War from the beginning.

If you listen to the whole mess, you might find yourself wondering....
(I have liberally used my pals at Blue Oregon)
Gordon seems to have stayed out of the Jack Abramroff dust up, though considering their mutual interest in Golf... Please let's send this pea-picker back to Pendleton by going over to the side bar and giving Jeff Merkley some bucks. This would b a really good time to do it, the election is freshly over and there is a lull until things heat up later.

Floyd Brown - 527 Flack

Floyd Brown makes his home in University Place, WA and depending on you point of view either a living or a hobby out of right wing 527 Committees. His claim to fame was involvement in the Willie Horton ad used against Michael Dukakis in 1988. Floyd is now running which is a mixture of innuendo, and various partial truths backed by a blog with more speculation presented as fact.

Fred doesn't mind presenting dubious information as fact, he bald facedly states that Islam is patrilineal and that for this reason Obama is a Muslim, disregarding his Christian mother, which Islam doesn't. He says Obama was registered into a Roman Catholic school as a Muslim and whatever his current religion he'd like to know how he can be trusted if he doesn't tell the truth about the past. He misses calling Obama a liar about it by wondering about it, an old trick to avoid an actual slander or statement of untruth. It is the kind of garbage that would get an actual candidate's butt kicked when he had to answer for it, but Floyd won't be publicly questioned.

Stories on the website link to 2 Minute View blog, which opens with "Mainstream Media Love For Obama Infects News Coverage," which purports to be an analysis of media coverage. You'll be horrified to learn that the "Media" self-identify as "liberal" by a 4:1 margin which explains their failure to expose his "flaws and untruths." He uses a couple mis-statements by Obama as evidence the media isn't paying attention, ex. 57 states, and then wanders into la-la land with a question about current or recent drug use. He then uses the right wing Media Research Center, known mostly for stupidity, as an expert opinion regarding media bias. One feels compelled to ask Floyd when he quit beating his wife though it may not be fair.

In light of Floyd's favorite in this race, McCain, and his statements about the Supreme Court and Habeas Corpus - "the worst decision in history" - you might be surprised that "activist judges" are what gets Mr 527 going.

“Real activism in our country is democratic,” McCain said in his assault on judicial activism. Continuing, he clarified the difference between “real activists” with “activist lawyers and activist judges”: Activist judges, “Don’t seek to win debates on the merits of their arguments; they seek to shut down debates by order of the court.” McCain described the kinds of candidates he would nominate to the high court – ones whom he could be certain of their “ability, wisdom, and demonstrated fidelity to the Constitution.”
Apparently in his rush to pet the right wing on its head Floyd forgot to read the Constitution or just plain missed that little Habeas Corpus section. I might be inclined to say that Justices who discard it are acting rather, um, activist. Now while he doesn't have much trouble skirting logic and facts, Floyd is having some difficulties.

The difficulty is raising money. The NYT notes that despite "On Friday, Mr. Obama, at a news conference in Jacksonville, Fla., again named Mr. Brown while defending his campaign’s rejection of public financing for the general election," "The site has helped Mr. Brown raise $100,000 in a month and a half. On Friday, after Mr. Obama’s announcement, Mr. Brown received 400 contributions, more than the usual weekly figure, totaling more than $15,000." The proverbial spit in a bucket for what is needed to recreate the previous campaigns by 527s.

Some aspects of 527s have been curtailed by the FEC following the 2004 election, 527s are only allowed to advocate on issues not the election or defeat of a candidate additionally now find "advertisements which questioned a candidate’s character and fitness for office, off limits to 527s specifically." PACs are less limited in attacks but are limited to $5000 per individual where 527s have no limit, Brown is facing the problem of showing large investors that 527s can't run absolute garbage while PAC face the limit. Brown's PACs are the National Campaign Fund and the Legacy Committee while the 527 is Citizens for a Safe and Prosperous America.

It has occurred to me that there might be some ways to be annoying to Mr Brown, I'm pretty sure $1 checks with all the information about address and employer might be more expensive to process than the $1. This will take you to their online "card" site, $0.50 should be annoying as hell. I'm not advocating anything mind you, just speculating....kinda like Mr Brown.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Fisa Capitulation

I can't even begin to write about this, spit is bad for a laptop and worse for it is airborne travel across the room so you'll have to be content with mcjoan over at DKos. Make the calls and write the emails, this has to stop. goddam it

Offshore Oil?

Want some offshore oil to fuel that car of your's? Let The Political Cat (fixed) explain how you're gonna get some after you get done being lied to. This Kitty is a friend of "Chuck for..." and if you're not already reading, you should be. Be forewarned that polite language is optional, subject matter dependent...

Jail For Lying Greed Heads?

Ralph Cioffi, 52, and Matthew Tannin, 46, were arrested Thursday morning and it looks as though ultra wealthy investors will be looking for payback. McClatchy reports the two Bear Stearns hedge fund managers concealed from investors their personal knowledge of the impending disaster in the sub prime mortgage credit business.
The indictment alleges the two deceived investors into believing the hedge funds, which held special mortgage bonds that were backed with now-toxic sub-prime home loans, were healthy when they knew clearly they were not. The end result was that well-heeled investors like the one described in the indictment, Major Investor #1, collectively lost more than $1.5 billion.

You've probably figured out that the victims aren't worried about losing their 1400 square foot house, that they're in entirely another league than anybody reading this blog. (or probably any blog) The FBI is looking at 19 others in the same kind of misdeeds. Rest assured, the Republican government is looking out for your interests, while you're living in a cardboard box the guys who swindled multi-millionaires might get punished while the economic damages get eaten by taxpayers and home owners. You might ask McCain's economic advisor Phil Graham if this is what he had in mind while he was writing deregulation and lately lobbying for an investment bank.
"Hedge fund investors, like all investors in our national markets, are entitled to rely on those to whom they entrust their investment dollars," Benton Campbell, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in announcing the charges. "Honesty and fair dealing are at the foundation of this relationship of trust and confidence. These defendants chose to breach that trust, and they will now be held to account."

Matt Tannin is innocent. He is being made a scapegoat for a widespread market crisis," Susan Brune, a defense attorney, said in a statement.

Cioffi's attorney said in a statement that the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department were caught off guard by the sub-prime crisis, and his client was swept up in the same downturn that caught competitors and regulators by surprise.

"Ralph Cioffi's funds lost money in exactly the same way. Because his funds were the first to lose might make him an easy target but doesn't mean he did anything wrong," said attorney Ed Little.

So far do you feel represented? Do you think any of these lawyers actually believe what they're quoted as saying?
"The Bear Stearns indictments present a remarkable trail of emails regarding what the Bear Stearns managers knew, when they knew it, and what they told investors. The tale the alleged emails tell, if true, should make an investor's blood run cold," Kurt Eggert, a law professor at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., said in a written analysis of Thursday's indictment.

To be sure those wealthy people may have their "blood run cold," but there are a whole lot of people who'll just get damned cold this fall as the construction industry fueled economy tanks. BushCo may have presided over the worst natural disaster in Katrina in a failed manner but this one is gonna really suck and it won't be localized and it sure wasn't natural. You have to give McClatchy credit for sneaking this one into the story:
The savings and loan crisis of the 1980s had villains like banker Charles Keating, the collapse of energy giant Enron Corp. had the unsympathetic CEO Kenneth Lay, and now the sub-prime meltdown has Cioffi and Tannin.

Ask John McCain about his pal Chuck Keating and Phil Graham about the Enron loophole. Go ahead and Google that mess. Try and find a fairly recent financial disaster that doesn't have McCain's fingerprints somewhere on it. St Ronnie told you the problem was government and Johnny and Georgie have proved that it is, their Republican version is. Deregulation doesn't mean the Constitution and Bill of Rights don't get a mud hole stomped in them, it means the ultra wealthy get to rape the citizenry while the Government holds them in place for it. If you don't like it Uncle Sammy is thought this crap was about ourfreedomshatingIslamofundamentalistreligioterristicferriners? Sitemeters are wonderful things; this little two bit blog gets regular US Government attention. Really, no kidding, you readers are a part of it...

Press Unhappy With Obama

The Press itself has told us repeatedly how nice it is working for John McCain and I've heard enough times about the Straight Talk Express driven by "call sign" Maverick McCain and the flips and flops of Mr Third Term reported uncritically even when the flip is only a week old to want to puke. It seems the press isn't nearly as happy with Sen Obama, as expressed in a letter sent to the campaign.
...When the campaign plane took off without the candidate, there were loud protests from the press corps because we were not given the option of staying in Washington. We do not commit to fly on charters to fly with press aides; we make that commitment to fly with the candidate. Each of our organizations is reviewing whether we will reimburse the campaign for last night's flight.

The decision to mislead reporters is a troubling one. We hope this does not presage a relationship with the Obama campaign that is not based on a mutual respect for the truth. Our joint mission is to cover the candidate on behalf of our millions of worldwide viewers and readers. Those individuals expect truthful and fair coverage from us.

Actually folks what Sen Clinton and Sen Obama had to say to each other was private business and were it possible to have conducted it in such a manner without sending you to Chicago, I'm sure they would have done so. But you don't work that way, despite the blanket immunity you gave GWB you act as thought the Obamas hold the keys to understanding the universe and are holding out on you. You appear to have decided that the Obama campaign is a swindle and the McCain campaign is the real deal. You continue to call the Bait and Switch Express by that misnomer Straight Talk in the face of clear evidence to the contrary, sometimes days old evidence. Now perhaps you find it expected behavior that McCain is an outright liar and discount the newsflash element of McCain lying, but the lie itself is still newsworthy.

Further, on the matter of "truthful and fair coverage" it seems that every time there is an internet rumor or lie propagated you pick it up and turn it into a story. In the guise of debunking these pieces of nonsense you give them dissemination exponentially larger than they could have gotten without your help. You give a couple words to the lack of truth to these things and paragraph after paragraph to detailing the latest right wing smear. You act to validate this junk with your attention and you know it and still do it. You've acted to use associations to smear Obama with day after day clips of the same things (Wright?) and the target rich environment of McCain just slides on by with possibly a mention.
Going forward, we know from experience that covering a presidential campaign requires that some representatives of the press corps be with, or near, the Senator at all times as part of the "security package," just as the White House press corps is with the president.

And your corporate masters made sure you were in the loop about the fictional WMDs and fake Hussein/al Qaida links? You covered the oil deals Cheney made? You were there for the outing of Plame? Who exactly broke the fake yellow cake story?
ABC News Robin Sproul
AP Ron Fournier
CBS News Chris Isham
CNN David Bohrman
Fox News Brian Wilson
NBC News Tim Russert

Which of these signatories broke those stories? Which of these people who had "access" to the President wasn't an Iraq War booster? You behave as though you are something really special and are independent. Disney/ABC runs the most offensive right wing radio outside Clear Channel, CNN hires the most dysfunctional liars from BushCo and calls Glenn Beck an Independent, Fox is best remembered as Faux News Murdoch/RNC symbiont, NBC/GE couldn't get enough boom boom shock 'n awe; and you all signed this nonsense?

How many stories have you run on the Generals pundits propaganda machine you operated? It is a scandal and you can't be bothered, but boy it pisses you off to get sent away on an airplane while Obama and Clinton discussed the end of the Primary. Why don't you try earning the respect you're demanding?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

GOP Cretins and John McCain

Dallas News finds that the Texas GOP State Convention has vendors like Republicanmarket that don't seem to have gotten the McCain memo about civil campaigning. This would seem to be another example that the right should forgo "humor."

Crackers? There is something to be said for being upfront about being a horse's ass, but there's a lot more to be said for not being one. You're supposed to believe John McCain isn't a part of this stuff. "Oh my, that's not nice..." but I'll sure take whatever you clods can reel in for me. I won't go to Clayton Williams' fundraiser since he was cretin enough to compare rape to bad weather, but I'll sure take his $300K. Maybe it's just getting real difficult to avoid associating with slimeballs in Republican politics.

“These were obviously incredibly offensive remarks that the campaign was unaware of at the time it was scheduled,” McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said. “It’s positive that he did apologize at the time, but the comments are nonetheless offensive.”
Just exactly how dim do you have to be to miss this? Google does Clayton Williams in 0.22 seconds and the third listing headlines "rape joke." Now I realize John McCain grew up rodeoing dinosaurs and all and the level of competence expected of Republicans doesn't include screwing in light bulbs but hey, they seem to be able to find smut on the 'net anytime they need something to complain about. (or have prurient reactions to...) Evidently in New Mexico all y0u have to be able to do is crash several expensive Navy planes and get taken prisoner to qualify as Senator, but hopefully the nation at large has higher standards when it comes to President.

Does anybody start to see a pattern emerging? This US Senator called the Supreme Court decision re-affirming Habeas Corpus the worst decision in history. The prime directive of law, the idea that you get to have a trial, is the worst decision. I know he managed to graduate the Naval Academy in the bottom 1% of his class but you'd think that idea wouldn't escape him. He certainly can't be running for GWB's third term since he thinks the Constitution is toilet paper and we've never had a President with that maybe we have and maybe he is.

It doesn't matter how bad an idea George II has had, John McCain is for it. Torture? A former POW thinks it's a fine idea if George does. Warrantless spying on Americans? George likes it and so do John's telecommunication buddies, so he does. Tax breaks for the plutocrats? Bankrupting the nation so some plutocrats can be making obscenely more obscene amounts of money is a good thing, George thought so. Use the government to privatise profits while socializing the risk is the new Republican vision, George said so and John McCain is all for it. He doesn't want your tax dollars wasted on earmarks, he's adamantly against it, but corporate sucking at the government tit is the order of the day. If we throw enough blood and treasure at Iraq they'll hate us but they'll be a victory, and that's really important. It's really really important that John McCain gets to wear his laurel in the Triumph, no more Viet Nams.*

If you want a doddering old fool's pandering, fear mongering, and tired ideas make sure to just let it go. Don't call him on his crap, let him play both ends to the middle as an honorable man. He's not. He is a fraud and charlatan masquerading as a Maverick and a hero. Soldiers serve and their manner of service deserves respect, but the man is who he is and his character is what it is and John McCain deserves to be sent home with his tail between his legs and his reputation based on who he is today - not that airman POW of over three decades ago. Ask the hero about Chuck Keating and ask him about his Campaign Manager Rick Davis and a warning from the NSC that he was undercutting US policy - for money. Oh yeah, he's got experience - as a tool of corrupt influence pedaling cretins.

*We lost Viet Nam because the politicians wouldn't let us win - see RMN & Kissinger...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Work Interferes And Intrudes

Regular readers may have wondered what has happened to daily postings at "Chuck for..." over the past couple weeks. Well, I'd like to offer an explanation.

***click pic for full size***
This 1890's construction house has a 12 pitch roof with the eave about 20 feet above ground and needed the composition shingles torn off and replaced with these new architectural shingles. The roof deck is plank, 1 inch thick rough sawn and cooked for a century so the nails were really stuck making a very tough job out of it. After the issue of getting the thing cleaned up there was the little matter of getting 90 pound bundles of shingles up to the roof and then up the roof...I was 45 ten years ago. Friday the Thirteenth made it ten years, I find that I get more beat up now. That's a consequence of having birthdays.

Work has been thin so there's just me out there (and Gus, I don't know what he's looking at). I like what I do for a living, but some days are rough and that can leave little juice left for research and composition. I'm on the home stretch, the side opposite the lower roof is now torn off and awaiting shingles. This is a good thing because two weeks of rain stopped this job in its tracks before it was a quarter done. The owners are nice folks and haven't complained about the mess of equipment and supplies.

Writing this blog is something I enjoy doing, but it also is something I only really enjoy if I produce something of quality. It is important to respect my abilities and my reader's expectations. There is no money or fame in blogging like this, there is only the satisfaction of doing it well. I hope you'll bear with me as I try to get this back into running order.

Roofing is exceptionally good exercise, but I don't recommend it for a starting program...or the faint of heart. Check with your physician before beginning any program of exercise - in this case he may send you to a psychiatrist.

The Gitmo Farce

Republicans are going crazy in response to the Supreme Court's ruling that military detainees have a right to challenge their confinement in federal court. You would think that life as we know it has ended, that the reinforcement of an ancient right of people to challenge their incarceration's validity is something new under the sun. You will die in your bed because a right a common rapist has is afforded to people swept up by the law enforcement professionals in the ranks of soldiers in foreign lands. You are to believe that because they are held that they constitute the worst of the worst. Maybe some are, but that isn't all inclusive.

McClatchy has conducted an unprecedented compilation of interviews of released detainees, foreign officials, and US officials regarding the value and risk posed by detainees. The results are stomach churning. People have been held for years and subjected to mistreatment for little more than tribal grudges or as low ranking Taliban grunts. It is a horror show of self-reinforcing attitudes and perceptions fostered by the Bush Administration and its lackeys in Congress. It is an offense against the concept of marginally civilized behavior enshrined in the Magna Carta, AD 1215. The fates of over 770 individuals became political footballs for the Republican fear machine, it is the oldest game in politics, these people are bad and a threat because it pleases us to say so and scare you into supporting us.

It is instructive to look at the case of Mohammed Akhtiar, per McClatchy whom I quote at length to make this clear:

The militants crept up behind Mohammed Akhtiar as he squatted at the spigot to wash his hands before evening prayers at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

They shouted "Allahu Akbar" — God is great — as one of them hefted a metal mop squeezer into the air, slammed it into Akhtiar's head and sent thick streams of blood running down his face.

Akhtiar was among the more than 770 terrorism suspects imprisoned at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. They are the men the Bush administration described as "the worst of the worst."

But Akhtiar was no terrorist. American troops had dragged him out of his Afghanistan home in 2003 and held him in Guantanamo for three years in the belief that he was an insurgent involved in rocket attacks on U.S. forces. The Islamic radicals in Guantanamo's Camp Four who hissed "infidel" and spat at Akhtiar, however, knew something his captors didn't: The U.S. government had the wrong guy.

"He was not an enemy of the government, he was a friend of the government," a senior Afghan intelligence officer told McClatchy. Akhtiar was imprisoned at Guantanamo on the basis of false information that local anti-government insurgents fed to U.S. troops, he said.
This man spent three years in brutal conditions at the hands of the United States with no ability to do anything about it. He was not a POW taken in conflict, he was BushCo's shadow criminal, one with no rights afforded to criminals or those accused of being criminal. He was bad, simply because BushCo said so. What reaction would you expect from people held in such a manner by our government? Uncritical love? Why should the world at large or even ourselves regard us as better than common thugs?
An eight-month McClatchy investigation in 11 countries on three continents has found that Akhtiar was one of dozens of men — and, according to several officials, perhaps hundreds — whom the U.S. has wrongfully imprisoned in Afghanistan, Cuba and elsewhere on the basis of flimsy or fabricated evidence, old personal scores or bounty payments.
Lindsey Graham wants to amend the Constitution to protect us from this? We are protected by our government's adherence to laws and the limitations set upon it and its laws, not by kidnapping and abusing people.
One former administration official said the White House's initial policy and legal decisions "probably made instances of abuse more likely. ... My sense is that decisions taken at the top probably sent a signal that the old rules don't apply ... certainly some people read what was coming out of Washington: The gloves are off, this isn't a Geneva world anymore."
Try to wrap your head around this, no rules, just the word of a man, the President is now supposed to be the law. Even the Soviets in the Cold War made a pretense of acting under the color of law and yet George II isn't to be held to even that weak standard. The people who ratified the Constitution would have hung him from a tree. The Constitution and Bill of Rights are supposed to be a brake on the impulse of government to accrue power to itself at the expense of the people.

I am an ardent opponent of capital punishment but the actions of BushCo lead me to question that stance. The behavior of an individual acting in defiance of our laws to perpetrate horrid crimes arouses many to to blood lust, but I cannot see how that is more despicable than the behavior of these people acting under cover of governmental force to deny basic human rights to people taken at gun point in a foreign land. The fact that the people of the US have tolerated this is a blot on our national character that will be a long time stain. The fact that our legislators aided and abetted this calls into question the oaths they swore. The fact that this was a 5-4 decision says quite a bit about activist judges. Those who are not shamed by this should be shunned by all conscious individuals - fact is they'll get re-elected. We're a damn mess. A bunch of knee quaking pussies. Pah. I spit on them and George II better never get within that range of me or he'll get wet.

Bringing A Gun To A Knife Fight

There is an old saying about the lack of wisdom involved in bringing a knife to a gunfight, Barack Obama promised in Philadelphia to counter Republican attacks:
“If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” Obama said at a Philadelphia fundraiser Friday night. “Because from what I understand folks in Philly like a good brawl. I’ve seen Eagles fans.”
Oh my...
“Barack Obama’s call for ‘new politics’ is officially over. In just 24 hours, Barack Obama attacked one of America’s pioneering women CEOs, rejected a series of joint bipartisan town halls, and said that if there’s a political knife fight, he’d bring a gun,” McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds said in a statement.
Oh my...

That pioneering woman might just be that champion of outsourcing and RNC Chair of Victory 2008 and McCain point person on economic and business affairs - also fired from HP. She is also a big booster of expanding HB-1 visas. I wonder why someone would push at her for, "There is no job that is America's God-given right anymore. We have to compete for jobs as a nation." Oh? Maybe it's not a matter of god-given as much as a matter of not competing with slave labor Carley. Cripes.

We have seen how John McCain does town halls, inviting the people he wants there. Oddly enough Obama doesn't want to do meetings the way McCain wants to do them.

Now to the issue of hitting back at Republicans. Over the course of two elections the Republican slime machine puked all over two Democrats, one a decorated combat veteran of Vietnam. Neither really bothered to hit back, neither bothered to cut them up over their nonsense. McCain would like people to believe that he's not a Bushclone, in the face of the evidence to the contrary. I'm sure his campaign and the other RNC propagandists would like to have a free hand at character assassination by association and not have McCain smooching George II as an issue. I'm sure they'd like to overlook McCain's endorsement of torture, of failed wealth based tax policies, of failed dishonest invasion of a nation, and the meaning of McCain's indifference to the Constitution. Somehow being a POW is a qualification for the Presidency and discounting his near the bottom of class graduation from a military academy. The son and grandson of Admirals doesn't have a real competitive entry...

People seem to be either amazed or aghast at a Democrat talking tough to Republicans. I frankly am amazed and aghast that it seems so out of the ordinary. The Republicans have spent the decades from Saint Ronnie's first run painting Democrats with a false brush and building a plutocracy while stepping on liberty and ordinary values. They have gotten away with this because no one calls them on it for fear of being labeled wild eyed liberals. Democrats assisted the Republicans in their endeavor by complicity, fading right while failing to actually stand up to the disinformation machine. Democrats didn't lose by being left, they lost by failing to stand up for what they believed in clear and certain terms. They lost by allowing the other side to create their image.

The Republican Congresses, minority Congress, BushCo, and John McCain provide ample fodder for (to use the vernacular) an ass-kicking. Pussy footing around isn't going to do the job, lace up the boots and provide a stomping to these pukes. If that seems a little strong, take a look at your wallet and ask your neighbor about his blown up kid in uniform. Take a look at who is doing fine, who it is that gets bailed out when things go south and see if you're in that number - or any of your friends. Look at John McCain's voting record since 2000, see who he loves, see who has him in their back pocket.

If the Republicans want to have that knife fight, don't just bring a gun, bring a big gun.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

GOP Constitutional Dishonor

Yesterday I threw rocks at John McCain over Habeas Corpus, evidently I didn't spread my net widely enough, there's plenty of discredit to go around the ranks of Republicans. Lindsey Graham and others had plenty to say on the issue. Lindsy first up:
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) vowed Thursday to do everything in his power to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision on Guantanamo Bay detainees, saying that, “if necessary,” he would push for a constitutional amendment to modify the decision.

A former military prosecutor, Graham blasted the decision as “irresponsible and outrageous,” echoing the sentiments of many congressional Republicans and President Bush.
“The American people are going to wake up tomorrow and be shocked to hear that a member of Al Qaeda has the same constitutional rights as an American citizen,” said Graham.

“[Even] the Nazis never had that right.”
George II finds the situation a bit disturbing:
“We'll abide by the Court's decision,” said Bush. “That doesn't mean I have to agree with it. It's a deeply divided Court, and I strongly agree with those who dissented, and their dissent was based upon their serious concerns about U.S. national security.”
Bush said he would study the opinion and “determine whether or not additional legislation might be appropriate” in order to protect the American people.
Sen. John Coryn says the Court is
"moving the goal posts on what the constitution requires" by changing the existing law regarding the rights of detainees.

"It is up to us now to try and come back and address the court's concerns," said Cornyn, who said the decision should prompt Congress to review the Military Commission Act and possibly the Detainee Treatment Act.
For real lunacy about the effects leave it to Rep Duncan Hunter,
“This decision will come at a cost.

“The Supreme Court just moved us closer to the day when U.S. Marine rifle teams will have to have lawyers read Miranda rights to terrorists captured on the battlefield.”
At some point following 9/11 some people lost their minds, the fact that simple tools like box cutters and airplanes could destroy buildings created a wave of fear in the populace which was fanned and put to use by pols. The simplicity of the terrorists' tools incited these fear mongers to make an assault on our legal system. Along with the legal system our mental facilities also were assaulted. One only need read the outraged comments to see that.

Graham's outrage pushes him to talk of amending the Constitution to take care of the problem. Evidently it never occurred to Graham previously that the Constitution wasn't an optional document over ruled by a Republican Congress. The shift in tactics was brought about by battle field conditions with irregular combatants, people fighting without a government and therefore outside the Geneva Conventions in the eyes of BushCo. Faced with the alternative of treating captured individuals as soldiers or criminals, they decided on a sort of middle course, taking them as criminals but staying out of criminal court by classifying them as enemy combatants.

Somehow Bush and his lackey Congress had the idea they could create an entirely new class of criminal without running afoul of the Constitution. The Constitution is clear about when Habeas Corpus can be suspended and none of the conditions existed. Prisoners of war do not have criminal protections as they are lawful combatants and as such can be held until the cessation of hostilities or otherwise paroled. The middle ground enabled BushCo to mistreat (read torture) detainees without violating the Geneva Conventions and yet hold the detainees as though they were criminals without going to trial. The Supreme Court repeatedly ruled narrowly against the Administration on two occasions but they evidently didn't take the hints. Finally the Supremes ruled broadly in regard to Habeas Corpus making it clear that regardless of citizenship and assertions of danger Constitutional law pertained to all held by the US.

Despite the hysteria by Republican types this scarcely portends disaster, the government now must show in a court of law that people are being held for valid reasons and bring charges against them. The only disaster is that the government is no longer under the illusion that it can disappear people or hold kangaroo courts. The Supreme Court has decided that despite the ideas of George II, the United States of America belongs to the civilized community of law. Too bad for him, I guess.

I suppose I could bring up the the issue that the whiners quoted above are disgraces to the offices they hold and bring dishonor on their constituents. Those people have recourse to the ballot to address this embarrassment, or perhaps they're not embarrassed - that would say something, wouldn't it. Years ago a psychological study showed that any mid-sized city could supply sufficient manpower to run a concentration camp from deference to authority. Sadly, there doesn't appear to have been a large improvement in the quality of people. What is truly sad is how many have migrated into positions of authority. I can remember, in the distant past, when the Republican Party actually stood for some kind of principles...well, it was a long time ago.

Boumediene V. Bush & McCain's Dishonor

One of the great things to happen at knife point, or perhaps sword point, was John's acquiescence to the nobles in 1215 that there were limits to power, the Magna Carta delineated these which included Habeas Corpus, literally Latin for "you have the body." It is a petition to a court to have it shown that one is held lawfully or be released.

George II and his lackey Republican Congress twice removed the right to Habeas Corpus from those he or the Dept of Defence declared to be enemy combatants. The Constitution clearly states that the right to Habeas Corpus shall be suspended only in the event of invasion or rebellion, neither of which seems to have occurred. The Supreme Court decided in Boumediene V Bush that the detainees in Guantanamo had the right to question their detention in US Courts. Oddly enough, that stalwart of justice and principled opponent of George, John McCain had this to say, "The Supreme Court yesterday rendered a decision which I think is one of the worst decisions in the history of this country," and echoed Robert's dissent that states the courts will be flooded with appeals. You understand that John McCain believes that the upholding of an eight hundred year old right extracted by force of arms from a petty tyrant King is the worst in history. It is an unforeseeable consequence of imprisoning and holding people for over six years might create a flood?

The right to be brought to trial is essential to governance by law, there is no law if there is no guarantee to a hearing in court, there is only tyranny. Law devolves into the exercise of physical force to imprison without the ability to challenge it, it makes the only recourse to "law-enforcement" forceful resistance, once in custody all options disappear. Understand that the word of a President is not sufficient to outweigh your inherent right to life and liberty, there is either law or there is anarchy.

John McCain has now shown his mind to have rotted from close association with the wannabe kinglet George II and he should be shunned. As an officer and gentleman he swore an oath to protect and uphold the Constitution, he has abrogated all respect due his uniform and his service. Any impulse to politeness toward him I may have felt is now gone. He is now no more than a freak of the Republican nature, better that SAM had killed him over N Vietnam when he may still have had some honor.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Maliki Dislikes Bush Plan

Oddly enough PM Nouri al Maliki doesn't think much of GeorgeII's plan to occupy 58 bases in his country, take control of their air space and immunize contractors and US troops from Iraqi prosecution. McClatchy reports that he dislikes it sufficiently to threaten to ask foreign troop to leave when their UN mandate expires at the end of the year. The US has moved on from that first draft to one that would allow Iraqis to prosecute private contractors who violate Iraqi law and to turn over to Iraq those Iraqis held by US forces. Plan 'B' may be replaced by plan 'C' and etc. as negotiations continue. All this messing about in Iraq while George refuses the US Congress any say what-so-ever.

It seems the Iraqis see a bit more to this than an agreement aimed at their security. I cannot imagine why they might have doubts about US intentions, considering how the US got into Iraq in the first place.

Muqtada al Sadr seems to be winding himself and his followers up to some increased violence. The 10 month cease fire has been marked by Iraqi troop movements against his followers and his response it talk about the creation of a force authorized to only attack the invaders - us. Maybe we can count on John McCain to hope his way out of this mess, though I'd rather not...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

June 9, 2008 Baker City, OR Snow

Yes, it is June 9th at 5:00PM in Baker City, OR and that is snow falling, lots of snow falling. It is unseasonable, but not unseen.
Ten minutes later, the stuff is sticking.
***click pictures for full size***
The deck is brown, ordinarily. We're at 3500 ft. elv. at the foot of 10K ft. mountains so our weather can get pretty strange. Back east they're dealing with 100F. Some passes north of here are requiring chains, I 84 at Meacham. Forecast for the Blue Mtns is 6-12 inches of snow.

So if you've spent the day sweating take heart, you could have this.