Sunday, August 31, 2008

Republicans Don't Understand What Corruption Is

After almost 8 years of corrupt behavior at the top of the government by Republicans you'd think the Party would begin to understand what defines it. But noooooo. 8 years of cronyism no-bid contracts, religious/political tested hirings and firings, political destruction of a CIA operative, fictitious war intelligence, un-Civil Rights DOJ actions, illegal destruction of the 4th Amendment, etc ad nauseum and they don't get it exactly this much - Sarah Palin.

No, this isn't ideology, it is about the use of a high public office to interfere in a personal/familial relationship. It is about firing the head of Public Safety in Alaska for not firing Palin's ex-brother in law for allegations in a custodial suit. Palin, as Governor of Alaska fired a public official for personal reasons, she used her office for personal ends to the possible deficit of her citizenry - a law suit. This isn't a left wing joke, it is really serious business, it is exactly as corrupt as government gets.

I don't care if the allegations against her sister's ex-husband are true or not, there is a process for determining that and it must be followed. She broke that rule for her reasons. She stinks to high heaven as a VP candidate. My bet is that the bipartisan committee in the Alaskan legislature is going to find against her and that will cause deserved heart burn for the McCain campaign. POW or otherwise this is inexcusable, a demonstration that the rule of law is suspended if you are Republican.

Possibly you haven't understood why I am so dead set against John McCain and why I keep bringing up Chuck Keating - the man is corrupt to his core. He believes in it, this Palin story didn't just break. Considering the norm of corruption in Alaska it was scarcely a national story until he took that Alaskan corruption into the national scene. He calls Palin a reformer, this reform would just barely pass as sufficient governance in most of the other 49 states. As an Oregonian I am offended that he makes a case that this is bringing reform anywhere other than Alaska, in this state her idea of reform would result in the bunch being run out of town on a rail. Ted Stevens was her pal until he was indicted, well actually, per her website, until McCain announced her. Ted Steven was known crooked long before she was elected Governor and she liked him fine until...the FBI raided his offices and home last year, well before she disowned him - and his Bridge. She'll fit in fine with the McCain, Gramm, Black, Scheunemann, Rove bunch, Americans not so well - I hope.
Sometimes, as the Republicans may note (as Gustav interferes), god ain't on your side just because you invoke him:
Integrity Bancshares, Inc. is an Atlanta based bank holding company. Integrity Bank, its wholly-owned subsidiary, is a full service independent community bank. Since its inception in 2000, Integrity has specialized in real estate lending and serving the local communities with its faith-based culture. Keeping its strategy simple and straight-forward, Integrity has grown into a billion dollar organization while maintaining a hometown atmosphere in all of its locations.

Integrity currently operates five full service financial centers and a loan production office in the rapidly growing north metropolitan Atlanta area.

Well, no it doesn't offer squat, now:
FDIC Information for Integrity Bank, Alpharetta, GA
On August 29, 2008, Integrity Bank, Alpharetta, Georgia was closed by the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance. Subsequently the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was named Receiver. No advance notice is given to the public when a financial institution is closed.

All deposit accounts have been transferred to Regions Bank, Birmingham, Alabama. For more information on Regions Bank visit us at

The FDIC has assembled useful information regarding your relationship with Integrity Bank. Besides a checking account, you may have Certificates of Deposit, a business checking account, a Social Security direct deposit, and other relationships with the institution.

I bring this failure to your attention as a public service to those who actually believe the Republican faith based claptrap concerning government. God evidently can't run a bank and certainly shouldn't be in charge of governing a nation. I don't mind a bit churches and people's various religions, but there is a place for that.

Oh, yeah, George the Second says that you needn't worry,
"There have been some recent signs that our economy is beginning to improve."
"The economic stimulus package that I signed earlier this year is having its intended effect," the president said. "Many Americans who received tax rebates are spending them. Businesses are taking advantage of tax incentives to purchase new equipment this year. And there are signs that the stimulus package will continue to have a beneficial impact on the economy in the second half of the year."

Yes the GDP growth did increase from 0.9% in the first quarter to 3.3% in the second quarter but the stimulus checks are spent and increasing unemployment, crashed housing, and rising costs will probably flatten the snot out of the third quarter. But our President has faith based assurances for you and surely god will help him out, like always...

Now that Palin is the POW's VP candidate god will undoubtedly smile on the Republic-an once again. While so many scoff at the Iranians and their Mullah based government they ignore all the "moral" laws the US has...which are based on what morality - Bible? I vastly prefer a government which makes no pretence to morality, minds ethics and protects individual liberty and civil order and leaves morality to the province of those able to engage in it. A government can be a theocracy, but it cannot be moral. Morality involves personal choice not forced coercion - ie law enforcement. A politician can be moral, but a government cannot. If there is any morality in our form of government, it is the Bill of Rights which lays out a proscription from governing in certain areas of life.

You just cannot get it through some people's heads that a law against murder or theft is not about the morality of such an act, it is about the protection of civil order from such things. Very few would engage in that behavior if it were not against the law, the law is there to provide consequences for those who would disrupt their fellows lives in such a manner and remove their negative impact. To touch on something perhaps a bit less obvious, the prohibition of child pornography doesn't exist because it is nasty or immoral, but because it involves the imposition of a behavior on those unable to make an informed choice to engage in it - social disorder.

You don't run banks or governments on godliness, you run them on sound rational processes designed to accomplish their ends. Don't expect the Republicans to grow up, and don't count on the Democrats to not follow them into stupidity - gotta win elections and all.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hi, Ted - Love Ya, Sarah

Freshly scrubbed from Palin's Website...

Bus, Ted, Under, Thrown, Straight Talk Express

What? It's a news flash that Ted Stevens is corrupt in Alaska? Even in 2006?

Be Careful What You Wish For

A long time ago when I was first sobering up I made a mental note about Prayer - be careful what you wish for. Like many alcoholics/addicts I had very little going for me in the line of patience; immediate gratification after all is a hallmark of the disease. One day I started to pray for patience and then a little light went on in my head, gods or higher powers or whatever object of prayer have other ideas and asking for patience might get me lots of opportunities to practice patience...I didn't need more opportunities. I really already had my hands full.

I was struck by that thought as one of the Evangi-nuts appealed to his Christianist fellows:

COLORADO SPRINGS – A video producer for Focus on the Family is asking people to pray for rain when Sen. Barack Obama (D-Illinois) makes his speech at the end of the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
Obama is giving his acceptance speech outdoor at Invesco Field at Mile High on Thursday, Aug. 28.

Stuart Shepard made the prayer request in his latest Internet video for the evangelical Christian group.

He says he's only partly joking.

"Sure it's boyish humor perhaps to wish for something like that, but at the same time it's something people feel very strongly about. They're concerned about where he would take the nation," said Shepard.

Shepard does a weekly commentary called Stop Light, produced for the Internet by Focus on the Family Action.

(Copyright KUSA*TV. All rights reserved.)

Now it hasn't escaped my notice that Hurricane Gustav appears to have pasted a bullseye on New Orleans, not quite on the anniversery of Katrina, and also coinciding with the Republican Convention and Bush's speech. This might be attributing more power to a nitwit from Focus on the Family than is merited, oh hell, it certainly is; but the irony is too rich not to mine.

Since some of this ilk were so ready to blame Katrina's disasterous outcome on the new Soddom and Gomorrah aspects of New Orleans and a gay parade and there isn't one scheduled it would only seem right for that vengeful Jewish god to be making this about St Paul and Republican Conventions. (why note the Jewish god? - well I'll answer that)

[These pissants regularly make claims to Christianity, they invoke the guy at every possible opportunity. The problem is that they seem to take really large portions of their god view from the Old Testament - really big portions. The namesake of their "religion" said "I bring a new way" and that new way would be what he had to say and the god he talked about had Love as a basis - not vengence. That would be why there are Old and New Testaments, the Old one is supposed to be a history lesson - 'this is how we got here where I tell you the rules aren't the same as you thought.' But the Christianists are all caught up in the Jehova of vengence, plagues, destruction, and general meanness and small mindedness. (If you're Jewish, take no offense at me, I don't believe a bit of it - re: god or you) It boggles the mind that they'll use the name of Christ in their rants. "Adam and Eve not Adam and Andy" or AIDs is payback for sin or 9/11 was allowed because...] (If you're a Christianist and take offense - tough, do it differently)

I suppose if we were to get really Fundamentally Insane it would be apt to blame Gustav on McCain's elevation of a woman beyond her station - despite her insistance that...oh cripes the Republican "family values." What you need to keep in mind that this 'elevated' woman has slobbering approval from people that scare fairly conservative Christians. It is too bad that a woman VP candidate has this much going against her because I surely have a real desire to see women take a real place in American politics, but not this one.

Friday, August 29, 2008


There are plenty of things about Republicans I do not understand, like the piece where they talk as tough as nails and then squeal about threats requiring the scrapping of civil liberties. I may be missing something but I don't understand why the extemely wealthy need help being wealthy. All that may be primarily ideological, but it takes a thinking process I don't understand to get there.

Now we have anothe example of Republican ability to contradict themselves in essentially the same sentence - Sarah Palin. McCain has made an issue out of Barack Obama's "inexperience" and celebrity versus the "grand old POW candidate" so a 72 year old cancer survivor picks as VP a woman who is a 2 year governor of the 47th most populated state and previously mayor of a 7800 population suburb. Their VP pick had to start out, in her first speech, telling whoppers. She claimed to have told Congress thanks but no thanks to Sen Ted Steven's (R-AK) Bridge to Nowhere; when in fact she said in 2006 that it was important to get Alaska's infrastructure projects under way with a favorable majority in answer to a question regarding that Bridge. In March she called Hillary a "whiner" and today she praised her - odd... Not really if she's supposed to be the "Hillary dead-ender" draw. This woman stands in opposition to virtually everything Hillary campaigned on, anti-abortion rights, drilling ANWAR, global warming as not human influenced...take your pick.

Sarah Palin seems warm and friendly, that might balance McMaverick's temper, but she's an empty hair-do. It will pay the Democrats to define her before the Republicans have that chance. She has no standing whatever nationally and can be easily defined. Her entire reputation seems to be her fight with the Alaskan legislature over corruption. Some questions may be raised about her relations with Ted Stevens since she has some pretty friendly pictures floating around.

She is McCain's bow to the socially conservative wing (read whackos). You will get the Christianist theocratic drum thumping you've waited for. On abortion, rape and incest don't count, it is a case of so-what you bear the child. You have to work very hard to understand that mind set and I'm not willing. I find McPOW offensive at best, this woman makes him look reasonable. I fail to see how prostituting to the Religious Right once again is Mavericky. I guess if you're a Republican or media shill you'll figure it out. Oh yeah John, in search of a VP safety valve for a candidate older than dirt you pick a 2 year governor of a State with a smaller total population than most states have in a single city - there's an expert for you. (Somebody ought to point at Alaska's sucking at the Federal tit)

I'll admit that the idea that one needs years in foreign policy experience to run to be hoo-hoo, I vastly prefer judgement to practice at getting it wrong - John - but some demonstration of one or the other is required. Whatever the grandstanding of the surprise pick, there is a nation to run at stake.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Sorry, no it's not a Batman TV post, it's a Mavericky sort of thing. You see, the answer for any and all criticism is, POW. Honest to god, John, getting shot down has not one damn thing to do with how many houses you've got. Surprisingly enough it is less germane to that than it is to being a good President. What is important to the question is that you want to talk about no kitchen table and such crap in relationship to your houses while actual NON-POW Americans are being put into the same position by fellow Americans without the excuse of them having bombed the snot out of them. That's right, you numbskull, your policies promoted by your advisers and prosecuted by your pals are putting are putting your fellow citizens on the street. Out of jobs, strangled by high prices, screwed by mortgage companies freed by Phil Gramm you're busily creating real competition with yourself for the title of "most dispossessed."

POW. There is no inherent honor in that, there is nasty circumstance to be endured as best possible, but the ability to get into that club isn't remarkable. It may have escaped your notice that there were a bunch of members in the same war and a whole lot of them didn't spend their active war on a carrier being taken care of by seamen. Nope while the Admiral's son spent his time breathing air through a mask dropping ordnance on distant "foes," they were in the mud and blood. Their daily lives just plain sucked, and then they sucked worse and I've yet to hear of one claiming POW makes him Presidential material. Just you.

I'm entirely unimpressed. You want to keep sending our kids back into Iraq, tour after tour, you've made them prisoners of your ambition, die for me little trooper. Another tour, the wife watches her husband leaving wondering if he'll be more of a mess when and if he comes back. How many pieces missing? This POW experience is even uglier, they get a little vacation from it and then cruelly enough, yanked back into it. Telling your five and half year old, I'll see you when you're seven - if I do. You, John McCain, did nothing to cover their butts from torture if captured in any war, nah, if it was good enough for you they can have some - George II decreed it should happen and you were too chickenshit to stand up.

A child of privilege and influence, you lost it for awhile from enemies you'd expect to lose it from; and now we're to believe that experience gives you something in common with ordinary Americans screwed by the policies you approve? You'll give them a $5000 tax credit to get health insurance? They don't pay $5000, you nimrod, or they'd be able to afford some kind of insurance. It is important you look out for your monied interests, POW.

You married mob money and built a political career on the back of your wife's money and POW; working for a living with short prospects isn't something you're familiar with. You have the nerve to call Obama a celebrity and question his credentials, the credentials and Americanism of a family who have done all the right things and all the hard work - versus you - a failure at Annapolis except for Daddy and Grand-daddy. Your academics would never have qualified you for a seat in a jet, I knew Naval aviators and they had to excel to get there. Not you.

You spend POW like it was water, you got elected on it, you've covered your butt with it. Chuck Keating should have sunk you, philandering on your wife in the Republican Party should have sunk you - values you know - but POW saved you. Every stupid remark or policy statement that you make you retreat to POW. It will wear out, McMaverick, it'll become a latenight TV punch line and that'll be it. The Obama campaign must pussyfoot around your qualifications, because you'll POW them. "How dare you question my leadership and judgement, I know how to get captured." You're an ill tempered old man with poor judgement and a worse sense of civility and a bare grasp of current events and geography, but...POW.

I've honestly tried pretty hard to figure out what it is that you offer ordinary Americans other than the discredited trickle down economics and all I come up with is POW. It isn't values, Chuck Keating, cheating on and dumping a crippled wife, an anti-abortion privileged male, living off his wife's money while insulting her in public, just setting an example of a POW making good, by marrying money and influence. Since you're a great leader, how did it escape your notice that your wife was an addict and stealing drugs from a charity? Is that how you propose to run a White House? We've had one disengaged idjit in there for 2 terms already.

I didn't like your sorry self in 2000 and I like you a whole lot less in 2008. Now that you've become the George III and hooked up with his unprincipled political machine you've trashed whatever respect you might have been due for your service 35 years ago. The American public deserves something better than the politics of POW, try it. They might vote for it, but don't bet on it, you may find you've over played that hand. Considering how little I like your ideology (or whatever it is - Mr Flipper-Flopper) I think you should just ignore this little post and keep on POWing. It is what you've got...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Baker City Memory Cruise

**Click Pictures for full size**
Baker City Memory Cruise, the 18th annual, kicked off this morning and considering the price of gasoline had a great turnout. I only shot a few pictures to keep the site from loading too slowly. What I did was to shoot a few representative shots and some friend's cars and some that had particular meaning to me. This year the cars were in pretty much a first come, first parked rather than the usual of being grouped by classes. Cars came from all over Oregon, Idaho, and Washington.

This '58 Chevy Impala is equipped with a tri-power 348 "W" head Chevy engine. It was a classic high torque engine, a performer for its time. The car is owned by a particular friend of mine. You may have seen the house I framed, sided, roofed and painted for him. There were shots on the site from that job, a three story house. The 58 is a convertible, a fairly rare vehicle, restored a couple years ago. This car was pretty beat up, a friend of mine that I stop to see pretty often runs the restoration shop that did the work and I had the chance to see it in various stages.
Terry has been involved in the Memory Cruise for quite a few years and the Baker City Thunder Mountain Car Club.

This is a "W" head 409 in a 62 Chevy Belaire 2 door. I lost the picture of the car itself, a beautiful black auto. This is a twin 4 barrel high performance 409, the motor which was made famous by the Beach Boys. I have a special place in my heart for the power plant and the cars, I owned a '63 Impala SS 409, purchased my senior year of high school. Probably a bad choice of transportation for a teenager. I, obviously, survived it but that is too much car for the judgement level associated with such as me.

This blue 38 Chevy came over from Twin Falls, Idaho. we were parked within a couple cars of each other and made friends. The car took an award for Best Interior.
My 62 Chevy II parked next to a bone stock 55 Chevy Pickup Cameo. The 62 went to the show because it is for sale, I don't particularly want to sell it and don't have to sell it, but it is silly to keep it in a garage and pay a full ride on insurance for a couple hundred miles per year. It is the kind of car that will sell easily - to the buyer that wants this particular car. You cannot tell from the outside that this car is a 62 Chevy II body and back seat and no more. It is so heavily and specially modified that it is buyer specific.

I parked the Chevy II and got to thinking that the 50 COE dump truck was only a few blocks away. It takes some kind of nerve to put something like this in a car show, but people don't see these things. I walked the 5 blocks, drove the thing to a car wash and knocked off 2 1/2 years dirt and entered it. I had no thought that it was a prize winner but I was quite sure it was the biggest thing in the show. I got two Poker Run cards for two entries, the one for the COE drew five 5s and won $100, how funny, that trumps plaques.

I'd never seen this particular paint treatment before. I thought it was one of the really unusual and cool things I'd seen. It is a very nice car, but it just struck me.

You have to really work to do this, you have to think and you have to plan and you have to work smart. This is an Olds 455 and Tornado front end in the back of the Corvair. The back seat is in stock position so what you're looking at is an absolute monster and an exercise in complete pointlessness. If you tune the engine to perform it wheelies so it needs to be run de-tuned.

It takes a certain kind of person to dedicate the time, energy, and resources to a thing like a car. These are not transportation, they are an extension of the owner and an expression of something not concrete made solid and substantial. Some of these beauties are driven regularly, the purple 78 Chevy PU next to my COE is driven regularly, frequently with a camper into the mountains - it won best 70s Truck. My wife drove the 62 Chevy II all year around, with studded snows on all 4 in the winter for almost 4 years while I used it for weekend fun at the drag strip. Most people use an auto to get around and that is the extent of their interest in them, something to get from here to there with as little hassle as possible. Maybe they'll watch other people's being used for racing or such, but in the end, just a vehicle.

When I first found the 62 in drastic condition I saw a possibly cool body with the potential to be much more than what Chevrolet dreamed possible in 1961. All it took was a lot of research, planning, innovation, and damn hard work to get to a car that they could have built if they'd had late 90s know how. It is fast, it handles, and it stops...and it produces power with out being unmanageable. There are 355 cubic inches producing 425 horse power and 400 pound feet of torque, power that in late 60s would have meant a shuddering shaking gas eating monster that would start once in awhile and only idle when it felt like it. Cars of the period packing that kind of power would stop pretty well, a couple times in a row, but the drums would begin to fade with heat and real pressure was required for hard stops. The suspension systems ranged from comfort sloppy to tank like rigidity and even that didn't assure quick and accurate response. Even the sports cars of the day couldn't handle with most newer cars to day.

It is monetarily more sensible to buy a few years old car than to build a thirty plus year old car that rectifies those short comings, but you would then have the same car anyone else could have. It would look like and sound like any other car. It would be just a car. Here's the deal, the things cost too much money to run and insure and generally keep in repair for it to be just a thing. If I must put put the effort into it, I want something back other than here to there. I want to know that I did this, that this fine piece of machinery is unique and special. That it is not only presentable, but strikingly attractive. Where ever it goes, it is seen and known as an expression of American ingenuity...and power.

There certainly is that bit. On the drag strip with racing tires the car goes from the line to the sixty foot mark in 1.74 seconds, 0 to 44 miles per hour - a head snapping affair. The tachometer goes from the pre-launch 1800 rpm to 6000 rpm in about 1 second, a very busy interval. Life is very interesting for a little over 12 seconds. If you don't get it, that's alright, you don't have to - but it is something, emphatically something.


You need to visit P3 Nothstine nails one.

Friday, August 22, 2008

I Have A House, One

I have a house. I like my house, it is a pretty nice place to live and nicely appointed, with finishes most people don't have. It has features that belong in pretty upscale houses, but there is something other than wealth that has to do with that. I am a construction contractor. I bought a small and quite run down and somewhat damaged 1870s Victorian. Not the big painted lady Victorian, this was the 'double-wide' of the era and built with standards that would be laughed at today. It is a nice house because I put virtually the entire loan into materials and labored like a dog on it - for free. It did cost me my weekends and all my evenings, into early morning hours and a personal construction work week of over 100 hours for months while living in the mess and with an outhouse for a bathroom. Astonishingly, my wife stayed married to me.

I know how many houses I have - one - and I also know what the monthly payment is and the tax bill and when all of these are due. With all the advantages of running a business I do not manage the Oregon median income in a good year (this isn't one). I don't complain about my income, I chose this line of work for other reasons than getting rich. I don't complain that other people make quite a bit more than I do with less exertion and risk. I do complain when someone insists that the wealthy need help staying wealthy and that they do not take the largest benefit out of the system. I not only complain, I scoff when such an argument is made by someone pretending to understand average Americans who isn't sure how many houses he owns - or his wife owns - or their company owns in their interest. Now I do admit I begin to get somewhat angry about such things when the ignorant party has made an issue about the opponent's celebrity or 'elitism.'

I do not deny a person empathy or understanding on the basis of wealth. I do deny them such on the basis of their policies and statements. Franklin Roosevelt was a child of wealth and a wealthy man who demonstrated in word and deed his concern for ordinary Americans. John and Robert Kennedy were wealthy and beloved by ordinary Americans. There are examples galore of wealthy individuals who gave concrete demonstrations of their understanding of the lives of plain citizens. John McCain just doesn't happen to be one.

Let's start at the beginning, George II's tax breaks for the wealthy, McCain wants to make them permanent - on the basis that they'll trickle down; which has not happened once in history. If wealth trickled down the era of the Robber Barons would be called something else. According to John the oil companies need tax breaks and additional incentives. According to McCainomics the American economy is fundamentally sound...we're debt ridden, our military is broken, everyone under the top half of the economic scale is watching their real income slide, the blue collar has been losing ground throughout BushCo, the divergence in wealth distribution is at historical highs, and banks are imploding. On the latter we already have a concrete demonstration of McCain's concern, it was for Chuck Keating not his depositors. Phil Gramm is still McCain's economic advisor, yes "whiners" Gramm, the architect of the Enron loophole and banking loopholes - including lobbying for USB, a foreign bank (in trouble - bank). If you are not wealthy, these people have nothing to say to you or are willing to do for you.

John McCain is a lying hypocritical bastard, POW and all. If you take his "honesty and maverickness" of today as a measure of his behavior in Hanoi you'd have to have doubts about its narrative of today. No, that isn't some partisan BS. Check his ads and statements against the facts and you'll find them wanting in truthfulness - either that is something new or he has always been a liar and manipulator of reality. I was not in Hanoi or Vietnam, but I sure know plenty who were that are entirely unimpressed with McCain's reliance on POW as CiC credentials. I get pretty pissed off with liars, I don't mean a misstatement, I mean lies. McMaverick only exists as a campaign mantra and media invention, there is nothing there at all, look at the record over the last 6 years.

John McCain can have all the respect he earns from me, but he'll have to earn it on something other than the ability to get shot down and play it to the media. Today he's earned my regard as an unprincipled prick...

Sunni Awakening At Risk

Along with the Surge, McCain is so proud of, the Sunni Awakening or Sons of Iraq taking the part of the US military in action against Al Qaida seriously reduced violence. There are two pieces to that reduction, one the Awakening councils were composed of people who, to a great extent, had been doing their level best to kill Americans and two when fighting on the American side had credence with the local population and intimate local knowledge leading to the destruction or removal of Al Qaida elements. The Shiite government of Iraq is putting real pressure on the councils.

McClatchy reports that the Iraqi government has failed to absorb tens of thousands of the Sunni fighters. The US has paid the former militants about $300 per month and promises of jobs with the government to be on our side. Those jobs have not materialized.

"We cannot stand them, and we detained many of them recently," said one senior Iraqi commander in Baghdad, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss the issue. "Many of them were part of al Qaida despite the fact that many of them are helping us to fight al Qaida."
This attitude is reflected by a possible proposal by the Iraqi Army to set a November 1 deadline for the un-absorbed militias to turn in their weapons or be arrested. The Iraqi and US officials both say the Maliki government never promised to hire more than 20% of the approximately 100,000 militia men. A real problem is in the offing.

"If they disband us now, I will tell you that history will show we will go back to zero," said Mullah Shahab al Aafi, a former emir, or leader, of insurgents in Diyala province who's the acting commander of 24,000 Sons of Iraq there, 11,000 of whom are on the U.S. payroll. "I will not give up my weapons. I will never give them up, and I will carry my weapon again. If it is useless to talk to the government, I will be forced to carry my weapons and my pistol."
It pays to remember that the US disbanded the Iraqi Army after beating it and reaped the whirlwind. The US has so far this year paid $303 million to the militias, the Iraqi government has budgeted $150 million for the vocational training they propose to put the remaining militia into, to be bricklayers and plumbers - along with other unemployed people. It is no stretch of imagination to see that these people see themselves as soldiers and resent being treated differently.

It gets worse as the NYT reports, west of Bhagdad former insurgent leaders claim the government is after 650 Awakening leaders, US and Iraqi officials in Diyala Province say there are arrest orders for hundreds. The Iraqi government is beginning this push at just about the time the councils are beginning to try to translate their actions into political power.
“The state cannot accept the Awakening,” said Sheik Jalaladeen al-Sagheer, a leading Shiite member of Parliament. “Their days are numbered.”

This hostile attitude is little more than a guess that the improving Iraqi Army can handle Al Qaida and possibly the now US allied Awakening. You can judge for yourself if it seems a good bet, or an invitation to more sectarian violence.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

How Many Wars, John?

John McCain promotes the "surge" in Iraq, more troops in Afghanistan, doing something concrete about Georgia and Russia, and making Iran sorry. He'll also follow Bin Laden "to the Gates of Hell," a project that will take some doing since George II hasn't done anthing about it.

John McCain is real fond of using the military. The military is already streached thin, so thin that additional deployments aren't possible. John wants to use them some more, and more. There really isn't any way but one. A draft. And Wednesday in Las Cruces, New Mexico at a townhall meeting John let it slip.
"Disabled veterans, especially in this state, have horrible conditions," the woman said. "Their medical is substandard. They drive four hours one way to Albuquerque for a simple doctor's appointment, which is often cancelled. Our VA hospital is dirty, it's understaffed, it's running on maximum overload. The prescription medicines are ten years behind standard medical care. We have 700 claims stacked up at the VA office in Albuquerque. Some of them are ten--seven years old, waiting to be processed. In the meantime, people are homeless. My son is an officer in the Air Force, I'm a vet, and I was raised in a military family. And I think it's a sorry state of affairs when we have illegal aliens, having a Medicaid card, that can access specialist top physicians--the best of medical--and our vets can't even get to a doctor.

"And these are the people we tied yellow ribbons for, and Bush patted on the back. If we don't reenact the draft, I don't think we'll have anyone to chase bin Laden to the gates of Hell."

"Ma'am," the Senator responded, "let me say that I don't disagree with anything you said. Thank you, and I am grateful for your support of all of our veterans."

For Pete's sake, how else could he do it? Oh, surely after the reactions start, he'll claim to not have heard the "draft" part of the statement. Maybe he'll just deny he said any such thing.

The point in having a military is not to use it. Yes, I mean that, its point is its non-use. It is the iron fist inside the velvet glove. That presence is known and understood while the soft glove gets its work-out. Warfare works on two levels, killing or maiming the opposition and making resistance fearfully inappropriate. Intimidation is not persuasion, it is not even close.

John McCain's idea is to shoot and pick up the pieces later, the immediate problem with that is the loss of life and general mayhem and the future problem is the level of enmity engendered by that mayhem. Unless you obliterate entire nations and groups they live on and their families and friends live on, with a bullseye on the offender's forehead. Does anyone have positive ideas for the viewpoints of today's children of Iraq? Has their childhood given them some reason to like and respect the US? Whatever risks adult life posed in Saddam's Iraq these children's post-Saddam life has not been a positive experience. What booby traps have we set in motion for our own today's children? Exactly how much more of this is John McCain proposing?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

So, You Think You Count To The McCains?

If you think personal behavior has something to do with public behavior you'd be excused for being dubious. Cindy and the McCain campaign have repeatedly referred to her as an only child, not quite accurately it seems. NPR has a story up about Cindy's father and his other daughter, her step-sister who was cut entirely loose in Jim Hensley's will and since by the McCains.

Precisely what led to this state of affairs I don't pretend to know and it certainly is true that one doesn't get to choose their relatives. It would seem that lack of funds to mitigate some of the Portalski family difficulties isn't an issue so there's a bit more to it. Since Kathleen Hensley Portalski's existence is ignored or really denied there isn't what could be called a familial relationship.

Oddly enough, Cindy's mother had another daughter as well, so that would be three girls not just Cindy McCain. Accuracy and truth have not been highly evident in the McCain campaign since the Primaries and this seems to be another example. If you're figuring on trickle downs from these clowns, you could ask Kathleen Hensley Portalski how that's working for her.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Grant County Democrats - After All This Time

After many, many years there is a Grant County Democratic Party, DPO. Nancy Nickle is the Chair and the membership is enthusiastic and involved. Friday night's meeting - 3rd Friday of the month - was primarily aimed a planning for the Grant County Fair.
In my person as Vice-chair of Baker Co Democrats I made the trip to John Day to attend and show our solidarity with the new Party. I also brought with me Merkley, Westland, and Avackian campaign goodies. Our County Party has had access to candidates the the newly formed Grant County Party has not had.
The formation of this Party has pleased DPO, the County Parties, and myself in particular. When I campaigned in the Primary two years ago it was particularly unfortunate to have no direct contact with Grant County Democratic voters. The new party should make reaching the Democratic voters of that county much easier in this important election. We have four state wide races of some import, SoS, Treasurer, Secretary of Labor, and the US Senate seat held by Gordon Smith (R). By far the most hotly contested and contentious race is Jeff Merkley versus Gordon Smith. There are over two thousand registered Democrats in Grant County as well as a nearly equal number of Independents and these numbers may not result in a victory for Jeff Merkley in Eastern Oregon, but decent numbers will help with the State wide total.
It was a real pleasure to meet the smart, enthusiastic, and personable folks from Grant Co Democrats, I hope to have the pleasure again - soon. In our neck of the world the 90 mile drive is nearly next door.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Gordon Smith Would Be A Democrat If Only...

If only Gordon weren't a Bush shill and right wing voter he'd be a Democrat, or maybe if he hadn't done some things...

Gordon Smith, collector of million dollar golf clubs and quick to make international Senatorial jaunts that involve that sport, can't seem to make up his mind how he wants Oregonians to view him. His votes say he's a Right Republican Bush Diehard and Big Money shill. His ads say he's an independent thinker who likes to hook up with Democrats...Democrats like John Kerry. That would be the 2004 Presidential candidate Kerry whom Gordon characterized as "French" as an insult and as a socialist. Oregonians might want to think about that as Gordon touts his "bipartisan" approach to politics. In view of the condition of the nation's economy and Smith's view of Kerry and Bush one has to wonder if that is the course we'd really want to follow.

I suppose Oregonians can figure out why Smith references Barack Obama, though to what end is questionable. He surely didn't think Obama wouldn't notice and make clear his preference for Jeff Merkley. So what happened is that Democratic Senators didn't think too much of their "friend" Gordon using them, there is a limit to Senate collegiality.

Since the Democrats didn't show too much inclination to boost his chances, he ditched his State Co-chair of McCain's campaign and the RNC convention - to concentrate on his campaign... The McCain thing may just piss off ole John, the duties apparently amounted to the use of his name. McCain and St Paul aren't the only Republicans Smith is taking a whack at, Oregon Republican legislators signed off on the bipartisan plan to renovate the Salem building and Smith is now characterizing them as well as Jeff Merkley as spendthrifts. Want to bet they're not pleased to have to defend themselves in their elections from an attack by a fellow Republican?

Gordon's political ambitions and the truth don't have a lot in common, one might note his claims through "Democrats for Smith" to have been amongst the first to oppose the Iraq War. Not even close. This guy will say just about anything to get re-elected, and there is plenty of question as to why. You might expect some legislation to have been authored by someone this desperate to stay in the Senate, but - nope. Maybe he wants an excuse to stay in his mansion in Maryland and not be in nasty old Pendleton, OR. Pendleton's gain, in my opinion.

If you hadn't noticed, I like Jeff Merkley. I first got acquainted with him about 5 years ago and I've watched his Oregon career with interest and admiration from a distance ever since. I've never seen him caught out in a lie or misrepresentation and you can compare that to the pea packer 'from' Pendleton.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

In The 21st Century Nations Don't Invade Other Nations

John McCain said this to reporters about Russia and Georgia. Apparently a couple instances have slipped his mind, there was a bit of something regarding Iraq and no justification whatever and perhaps Israel didn't do anything whatever to Lebanon. Now S Ossetia is a part of Georgia, nominally anyhow, but the Russian peace keepers there are actually Russian and shooting at them isn't exactly an invitation to dinner. Unless the dinner is in Tbilisi.

Randy Scheunemann may lobby for Georgia while acting as John McCain's foreign policy advisor and maybe John McCain gets along with it, but making things up is pretty stupid. It may not be as stupid as trying to include me as a Georgian because GWB thought poking the bear was good fun and McCain is still fighting the Cold War against the USSR. Since Georgia seems to have thrown the deciding punch in starting this and John McCain seems to have led them to believe something, see President Mikhail Saakashvili's jab at McCain regarding deeds outweighing words.

The Obama campaign said something about McCain having lost his bearings - ethical compass - and got whacked for ageism, I'm pretty sure he has has spun a bearing in his mental motor. That ain't ageism, it's about whether a brain works or not. McCain is like a body of water one inch deep and miles wide, depth being thought and POW being miles. There isn't anything to the guy, he's run and won on being shot down for decades and having the media as his lap dogs hasn't hurt.

I'm not in the least in favor of Russia over running Georgia and people getting killed. Neither am I in favor of Georgia doing that to S Ossetia. What irks me no end is amateur politicization of a serious problem by the security candidate, McCain. Whatever his Georgian shill is telling McCain, the US cannot afford to start an economic pissing match with Russia. What is it about oil that makes Republicans completely stupid?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Condi Gets It Wrong, Again

At one time Russia was an Empire, then it was a Hegemony, then it was broken, and then came oil. Big oil prices, Russia with lots of oil, lots of money for military. Now Russia has a long history of xenophobia and paranoia regarding the West. Not all of that is the result of propaganda, Napoleon and Hitler came from the West and there have been plenty of historical examples of the other making real problems for Russia. Nationalism has been a reality of Russia for a very long time and the time since the fall of the USSR has been ... humiliating. It doesn't take expertise in Russian history and sociology to know this, just paying a bit of attention will do.

Not too long after Putin demonstrated that Bush couldn't really see his soul in his eyes and also refused to intervene in Iran BushCo started poking the Russian bear. Now poking sticks at bears is a bad idea if the bear is loose and you don't have a big gun to back up your puny stick. The purpose of NATO was to have that big gun regarding that bear; the Russians and everybody else knew it. There is a difference between an economic union like the EU and military alliances like NATO and there should be no confusion. The EU enhances the economic and political health of its member nations. NATO is about military protection from ... Russia. NATO has cooperated in military actions outside Europe, for instance Afghanistan, but it is not a world military alliance. The US has been pushing NATO closer and closer to Russia's borders and they don't like it.

The US has a demonstrably unsuccessful ABM program that it is trying to put on Russia's borders, supposedly in regard to Middle Eastern terror states. It doesn't work reliably and the Russians don't like it, big surprise. BushCo has kept pushing it in the face of Russia's objections, which aren't really unrealistic in regard to Russian history. The real trump card in this mess is that there are no credible threats in the Middle East making such a deployment necessary. It looks a lot more like pointless poking at the bear.

Georgia, S Ossetia, and Russia all have a difficult relationship and it dates back quite awhile. S Ossetia, a pretty small place, has made itself pretty clear that it doesn't care to be Georgian and Georgia has made itself pretty clear that it doesn't care to let loose of S Ossetia. Most S Ossetians have Russian passports indicating a preference for Russia and Russia for many reasons, including nationalism and border cushion likes that fine. Enter BushCo and NATO being proffered to Georgia along with military training and equipment aimed at the propaganda aspect of 2000 Georgian troops in Iraq. BushCo led Georgia to think it was important to the US.

Now exactly who is it that is supposed to be an expert in things Russian? Condi Rice. Condi was lately in Georgia and shortly there after they started shooting at S Ossetia and apparently Russian peacekeeping troop. I don't propose that she was stupid enough to tell them to do it, but I don't think it is in the least unreasonable to think she told them how important they were. This woman was the NSA head when September 11, 2001 happened ("no credible threat") and she was the NSA head when George II half-assed Afghanistan, and she was NSA head when smoking guns were mushrooms and Saddam had WMDs and had a hand in Sept 11 attacks. She was Secretary of State when Israel made a spectacular mess in Lebanon and drumbeats of Iranian War began. It doesn't hurt to remember that Iran made itself useful in our aborted Afghani campaign. Now she seems to have had a hand in the Georgian mess.

Now in regard to Russia I'm sure they take a certain amount of glee from our Afghanistan/Iraq quagmire. I'm very sure they don't like our approach to Iran. I'm real sure they haven't liked being jabbed at on their own borders. Nobody would like that, not the US, not Russia, not anybody. Russia is historically very antsy about its borders and that is not exactly specialized knowledge. Either Condi has had a hand in this stupidity or BushCo is ignoring her - and there is no sign of that. I've heard she's a pretty good piano player...

I'm pretty tired of the US being made an international pariah with domestic and international actions that only a few would have dreamed possible a dozen years ago. I am considerably less happy to be a part of those actions. I am extremely tired of militaristic misadventures being the hallmark of this administration, their idiocy is getting a lot of people killed and maimed around the world.

(oh for god's sake, I just heard a clip of Condi asserting the sovereignty of Georgia) [has she heard of Iraq?] Oh crap, the US media is banging the Russia is evil drum. This is a hell of a lot more complicated than that.

Now that BushCo has managed to stir up trouble with Russia we need to... Do exactly what? We don't have any big guns. The military is bogged down and nearly broken. Our economy is in tatters. Cheney and McHero are ranting away, economic sanctions, ditching Russia with G8, oh we'll punish them... I guess neither of them think gasoline prices are high enough. Did somebody forget about oil and the rather large amount of oil and natural gas Russia exports? Who loses in an economic set to? I have to wonder just how stupid Republicans propose to be and just how badly we get to suffer for it? It's enough to make you wish Babs had told GHWB, "NO!" one night...

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Baker City Gets A Visit From Jeff Merkley

Friday evening Baker County Democrats held a dinner and speaking meeting for Rep Jeff Merkley as a part of his bid to unseat Sen Gordon Smith (OR-R). The meeting was attended by about 35 people including a couple Republicans and was deemed a success by everyone I was able to check with. Attendees were able to choose a no host dinner from a menu of 4 dinners and spend some informal time meeting Jeff personally. The candidate excels at this, it is easy to see that he enjoys people and that they matter to him as more than potential votes.
His speech covered a fair number of issues of which I'll highlight a couple, he personal story was given to show why it is that he is running and why he cares about what his policies cover. He is the son of a working man, primarily timber related and the first in his family to attend college. He worked for the Defense Dept as a specialist in nuclear weapons issues, as a Director of Habitat For Humanity before the Oregon House. He stressed his ability to get legislation accomplished, deservedly proud of that accomplishment. He believes NAFTA & CAFTA need to be renegotiated and that the tax structure surrounding offshoring needs to be fixed. He stressed that the National Security spending of the US is one of the gateways to improving US manufacturing if it is done here. He covered Health Care, agreeing with Sen Wyden on his Healthy Families Initiative as a gateway health care reform, noting that the status quo has strong reasons to work for the status quo.
Rep Merkley followed up the speech with a Q&A which was mostly about refining his speaking points, but in answer to a question of how often Baker City could expect to see him if he were elected, he noted that he had taken the same pledge Sen Wyden had to visit each of the counties each year with a Town Hall. He believes that if you intend to represent the citizens you need to hear from them.
Jeff Merkley is a comfortable speaker, his thoughts are organized and he is enthusiastic about them without bombast. He seems more saddened by the Rovian electoral behavior of Sen Smith than he is angered. He pointed up the inaccuracies and fake moderate guise of the Smith campaign without taking any real glee in their getting caught out at it. And, yes, they have been caught out by the media rather than just the Merkley campaign. Astonishingly to me, the Oregonian - ordinarily a Smith shill - has poked at Smith several times recently.
Polls are showing a tight race between the two, see-sawing the lead. Smith has more money than God himself, but he also has a voting record and as Jeff Merkley is better introduced to the state wide audience he should gain ground. Smith is regarded as handsome and he is fond of very expensive clothing and other externals but he is not comfortable with audiences - possibly a result of his patrician upbringing and lifestyle - an ordinary citizen of Oregon isn't exactly his metric.
Jeff Merkley has all the equipment to be a real leader in the US Senate, including the enthusiastic support of Sen Ron Wyden and he has all the attributes to be that leader for the ordinary citizens of our State and the Nation. Please remember that state wide campaigns are an expensive proposition and if we'd like to own our elections there is one indispensable tool, lots of small campaign contributions - there is a contribution box on my sidebar...

Republicans, Party of What Ideas?

My pal Nothstine has an article up over at P3 regarding this question. I don't read Nothstine because we agree, though we generally do, I read him because he's a good writer with a 'voice' I enjoy. You'll enjoy his take on where The Party of Ideas has gone.

Republicans will take the most simple minded, in fact stupid, approach to darn near any issue in their appeal to voters. Gen Wesley Clark had the temerity to suggest that there is nothing involved in getting shot down in a fighter bomber over N Vietnam that is a recommendation for the Presidency. The Republican response was to scream that John McCain's service had been attacked. Anybody paying any attention at all would find that this means that every POW ought to run because they've got the Right Stuff. I don't propose that crashing airplanes disqualifies McCain and I don't propose that he didn't behave bravely, I'm just not impressed with either regarding the Presidency. He was a crappy student, a crappy pilot, a crappy Senator, and he's a crappy potential President. It is a stupid argument, it is meaningless, it appeals to nothing other than some kind of militaristic pride.

Trickle down economics were proposed as something new by St Ronnie Reagan and has proven to be a disaster every time it's been tried, by him and since. The appeal to stupidity is two fold, one is that wealth needs help being wealthy - it just isn't historically or contemporaneously accurate. The other piece is that there is something new in the idea, somehow the era of The Robber Barons has escaped notice in this equation and no one seems to notice that the unbridled acquisition of wealth did not tickle down to anyone. The nation came very close to coming apart as a result of the economics of the Robber Baron period. People actually believe that Republican crap. Hey, laborer, those rich folks will spend lots of money on stuff you make - like hell they will. They don't buy that stuff unless you make yachts or private jets, and not many do.

You will find some of the most astonishingly stupid ideas bruited about as something to do with any damn thing that will stand up to reason. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that running very expensive wars "on the cuff" will create problems with money in government and the people who bought into Republican fiscal conservatism bought in hook, line, and sinker.

Gays are a bigger threat to this nation than a broke, broken government that uses the Constitution as toilet paper - honestly. Paris Hilton and Brittany Spears mean what? People who take that seriously could have their heads opened and used as spittoons and be fuller of sense.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Obama And Hitting Back

Chuck Schumer told Politico that he thinks Obama should hit back at McCain harder.
"I would answer back hard. What do you mean he's not one of us? It's John McCain who wears $500 shoes, has six houses, and comes from one of the richest families in his state," Schumer said. "It's Barack Obama who climbed up the hard way, and that's why he wants middle-class tax cuts and better schools for our kids."

I sympathize with Schumer's sentiment, but I also think he's wrong. I could get away with calling McCain out and there are plenty of Democratic candidates who could, not Obama. In fact, you may have noticed I do call out McCain. The thing is I'm not running and I'm not Barack Obama.

The Obama campaign is based on somethings that create certain bars to behavior, the symbolism of a campaign based on "new" politics of hope, change, and optimism can't be refuted by its behavior. There is one other aspect, in a very public endeavor involving public approval of an ambitious black man it would be counter productive to get an image as an angry black man. It is unfortunate that such a double standard exists, Chuck Schumer - for example - could get hopping up and down angry with McCain and get away with it, not Obama. Not in the face of McCain's outright lies and underhanded slander. The really big limit though is the mantra of the campaign.

Barack Obama is a politician and he has shown that he knows how to play, with gloves off. But this time he's on a national stage with a campaign of difference. In order to persuade Americans that a campaign is different it needs to be above the fray, no anger, no cutting remarks, just efficient brush offs of "silliness." The opponent looks foolish if given enough rope and then discarded with a clear logical statement. If the opponent hands you brainlessness on a plate, it's fine to suggest they like to act ignorant. Not to insinuate that bottom of the Naval Academy class doesn't suggest ... um ... competence at figuring things out.

Democrats need to relax some on this issue. Obama has yet to demonstrate weakness in campaigning. The roughneck Clinton campaign was regularly frustrated by Obama without him getting personal and mean. McCain will continue to flail about, he will continue to dog whistle past the race issue, and as he is frustrated it will show. McCain is used to being a star and being over shadowed by Obama will wear on him. His age will wear on him, he has demonstrated a great deal of stamina, but constant traveling and public appearances with mis-steps immediately dissected is extremely tiring. At some point his famous temper is going to come out.

Less connected surrogates can do some dirty work, but the center of the Obama campaign needs to maintain its sunny exterior, rising above the nastiness of Republicanism - pointedly rising above that. Obama may get considerably more press coverage than McCain but it also carries a great deal more negative coverage and under that scrutiny it would be a mistake for Obama to make any moves that looked small or mean or could be misconstrued into such. The Dana Milbank "presumptuous" presumptive candidate theme shows that innocent and self-deprecating statements can be made into something arrogant.

Arrogance is not something Obama can afford as an image. He already has an athletic bearing and physical stance that is easily construed as cocky and his command of speaking venues encourages jealous comparisons. He will be portrayed as elitist and arrogant by the opposition, a pretty, empty suit and that can only be combated by staying above it and outside it. Obama has played it smart up until now and he doesn't need to start listening to the people who know how to lose elections.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Three Quarters of McCain's Loafers

You've heard about John McCain's $520 Italian loafers? Well here's 75% of them.
I know, something other than real pretty, in fact after three years of construction work, pretty darn beat. They'll soon go into the manufacturer,
West Coast Boots (Wesco) for a rebuild. These are built right here in Oregon. They are 16 inch top, lace to the toe, logging boots custom fit to my feet. For $380 I get to take good care of my feet that I spend all day on, working in some pretty horrid conditions. This is the real world, John, expensive shoes have a purpose beyond vanity.
I don't begrudge people having nice things, I have some pretty pointless nice things, but I don't propose that making the rich richer will be of any use to people like me. The George Ws and McMavericks think the wealthy need help being wealthy and the rest of you can wait for "tinkle down." If you don't recognize the economic model, it's the one where that warm wet feeling on the back of your neck lets you know what's just been done to your head, RR called it something less accurate. I sure don't believe any President will be able to quickly rescue this nation from the Bush II legacy, if it were just 7 years of George II that alone would mean real problems but other real problems have reared their heads. Continuing his nonsense with McCain means things will only be aggravated with the continuation of W's stuff (that's polite).
I don't propose that a President has to walk in my shoes. It is required that those shoes get recognized, in reality not campaign sound bites.

Why Politics?

I'll admit to being a political junkie, it's bad stuff, I can't stay away from it even when there's no elections going on. I don't know if it's genetic or upbringing or just plain masochism. It matters to me. I do know that once you step outside the affection of your family and friends very little in our lives is outside the effects of politics. No matter your political orientation, this is true and you probably advocate for it in one form or another. Anarchists believe it, their version of no or little law would have huge impacts on your daily life and you'd find yourself practicing politics on a very narrow scale to survive. Libertarians are about the politics of money, you buy your safety and influence - oh pah, guys, broken down to its simplest elements that's your governing philosophy.

Politics is used as a dirty word sometimes and used that way it means exactly what the word doesn't mean. Politics is the process of managing a consensus of some form about how things will be done. It generally doesn't mean getting your way, it means finding a way to get most of your way by folding others into your agenda. There are ways to approach people about your ideas, ways that don't guarantee enemies and can get neutral or the not disposed to see where you're going as someplace they can, also. It can be done other ways, and when it is done other ways it generally works very poorly.

Lying to people to gain an end isn't politics, it is lying, taking bribes isn't politics, it is bribery, fear mongering and propagandizing and etc aren't politics, they have different names for a reason. They may get used for political ends, but anyone of them is just as applicable to other areas of life. How about "fear mongering" you ask, hey, you know those germs that'll get you if you don't use "x" brand of disinfecting soap? None of this is to say that those things are admirable, just to differentiate them from politics.

Sociology and politics are tightly related, sometimes cultural changes outpace political change and sometimes cultural change is driven by politics. We are currently involved in a very unpopular war, the people are way ahead of the political process in this case. But the South of today would not be as it is if political action had not preceded cultural change. Our prevailing view of labor today does not match that of 30 years ago and much of that change can be laid to the politics of Ronnie Reagan and his successors. Economists frequently make the case that economic trends are mostly beyond the reach of Presidents, this is true - in a very narrow sense. George W Bush cannot wave a magic wand at gasoline prices and make them go down immediately. That doesn't mean that there wasn't an impact of trading deregulation, there certainly was. It doesn't mean that his policies of the past 7 years haven't affected the price quite heavily, there is a little matter of the "fear surtax" added on due to Middle Eastern anxiety - see Iraq and Iran. Demand would have driven the price of gasoline up no matter what George II had done over the past 7 years, but the extent of the damage could be quite different.

In the past couple weeks I have been coordinating with the Jeff Merkley campaign for an event in Baker City, I firmly believe he is a much better representative for the State of Oregon than Sen Gordon Smith and I am trying to help him get there. I happen to believe that many of the residents of our County would agree with me if they are exposed to him. I find that Jeff Merkley shares many of my visions of good government and helping him is the closest thing I can do to having that voice. I want a President to have to deal with Jeff Merkley and I am sincerely tired of George W Bush's toady Gordon Smith.

I don't just write blog screeds to get my ideas and values into government, I take direct action. I have spent time, energy, thought, and money to extend my reach far beyond my personal wealth (not quite poverty) and elected position. My four elected positions are Precinct Committee Person, Vice-chair Baker County Democrats, State Central Committee Delegate, and Vice-chair DPO Gun Owners Caucus, nothing that makes me much of big gun. There are politicians from local to state to federal levels that will spend time with me, of their own choice and take me seriously. I am politic, I don't yell at them or pretend to be something, I approach them as reasonable humans with a tough job that I am willing to be helpful with. If I am not in accord with them on an issue I try to show them the advantages of my viewpoint. I save the pissed off hard-nosed SOB for you guys. I do understand that there are people in government that would be a waste of my time, those I try to defeat with a better replacement.

No matter whether you want to play in the political arena or not your life is intimately affected by the process. In some cases your intimate life is affected. The news you hear and read is driven by politics, the products you buy and where they are made is politically driven, the very crimes you don't commit or do are driven by politics, and how you make your living is politically driven. You would be hard put to make an example of your life that isn't subject to politics. Most people don't realize how deeply politics intrudes into their lives, even as they complain about it. I don't say that my level of involvement is the right thing for most people, it really isn't, but the level of involvement most take is not sufficient to the import of politics. Paying attention to what is being done to you and in your name and taking action in regard to that takes effort and time and maybe some money, but consider what it is I'm discussing and who will run it if you don't.

Many of the things you figure don't count, like the non-voters who say it doesn't matter, do count - they add up. A small campaign contribution by itself doesn't have much impact, lots of them do and the widespread amount of them makes an impact on political thinking. One letter to the editor may have little effect, but as they roll into that one paper and papers around the nation they have effect. Talking up a candidate or policy to a friend or acquaintance has an aggregate effect when very many people are doing it. Lots and lots of yard signs and such don't change a vote, but they do indicate to the uninvolved that this is a person to at least consider, someone held in respect by those numbers of others.

I know it's easier to complain than to do something, but really, little bits of something do make a difference.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The McCain Comedy Express Roars On

You have to appreciate the ... something ... of the McCain campaign. Out first was the vision of Obama as an elitist, you've seen the type, leaning against the wall at the country club making derisive've never been to a country club? Must have been a Republican reference. Then there was the lose a war for political America? Ok, so there is always the truly funny shots of a guy shooting baskets with the troops while castigating the guy for ignoring the troops, that one had me rolling on the floor. Obama as Moses was, well, odd. There was something to comparing him to Paris Hilton, her response was funnier and smarter than McCain, though Brittany seems to have missed her chance. Tire gauges are for, hmm, NASCAR and other people who care about gas mileage, people without millionaire wives - and private jets. The McCain campaign and McCain have said that it's fun to be funny, evidently that Obama guy is a joke to them. At this point the Electoral College map says the joke is on them.

I don't know that John McCain is a racist, I do know that his Party likes to play to the stereotypes and prejudices surrounding race. The Magic Negro who plays a comedic part in a situation comedy or can shoot baskets, catch balls or otherwise be a celebrity without pretending to affect our life is a good thing. Once one starts to get ideas, and becomes, well you know, uppity, he needs slapping down. Mocking a Presidential candidate can be risky business and humor is frequently in the eye of the beholder. I thought the Purple Heart Bandaides were pretty funny, until I discovered they weren't self-referential bites for faux troop support by Republicans. (ok, I'm not that stupid) Obama tire gauges might be real collectors items if Obama wins, pointless if McCain wins and none of us can afford things with tires.

I've heard McCain described as a happy warrior, whatever the heck that means, but his happiness seems to revolve around somebody else getting beaten somehow, or maybe raped by a gorilla. He does get pretty funny when he can't remember which sports team he lied to the N Vietnamese about, depending on the audience. Actually the real joke is that his ability to get shot down and captured has something to do with him knowing how to win wars and be President. If he gets elected the joke will be on the people who voted for him minus the top 1% of the income bracket, the rest of us will be the punch line.

I cannot feature how McCain can get reelected to George II's third term but underestimating the ability of the electorate to club itself in the head is a bad idea - see John Kerry. I'm working on seeing no such thing happens this time, and I don't mean internet scribbling, how about you?

Monday, August 04, 2008

Tire Gauges Are Funny - To Republicans

If you've paid attention you know that I drag race. I have several tire gauges, one for each vehicle, but in respect to drag racing - I have expensive gauges. My tow vehicle and trailer and front tires on the hot rod use a 100 pound per square inch gauge, the hot rod's rear tire gauge tops out at thirty psi in one tenth increments. This stuff is important.

It is very important when towing a trailer with a three thousand pound expensive car on it to have stable tires, and considering that all those tires on the road add up to a lot of rolling friction there is a lot of gasoline at stake with a powerful engine pulling that show. I have to cross mountain ranges to go anywhere, it counts. The trailer likes 35 psi, depending on which vehicle is doing the towing, the pressure should be 80 psi or 45 psi. Low tires mean poor mileage and worse, hot tires which lead to blow outs and erratic steering.

Then there is drag racing, a motor sport involving small fractions of a second. I run the front tires on the hot rod over inflated in search of reducing rolling resistance - there is no danger involved, the tires will not travel a mile at a time and the difference is startling. The rear tires being drag slicks are very pressure sensitive with track temperatures having a large impact. Depending on the tire compound and maker I'm using on these 8.5 inch by 26 inch tires the pressure may be 8.5 psi or 12 psi. These tires must grip the launch pad sufficiently to move this car from 0 to 45 mph in sixty feet in 1.7 seconds. Tenths of a pound pressure make a large difference.

Pretty obviously gas mileage is not an issue, 4 miles per gallon isn't transportation mileage but that is also as bad as it gets for that car. To give an idea of the effect of softer tires rolling resistance, when the front tires were at standard street pressure the car finished the quarter mile at 99 miles per hour, with the tires over inflated it finished at 104 miles per hour. If the maximum performance of a high performance vehicle in extreme conditions is affected 5% in a short distance consider the results on a street vehicle, and your wallet. A candidate with a millionaire wife might scoff...

Race Card? Dollar Bill Ad

McCain campaign apparently thinks their juvenile Photoshopping activities just disappear so when Obama takes note of it, they can cry, "Race card." The fact that an ad is silly or stupid doesn't make it go away, it just sits there waiting to bite you in the ass later. Obama making note of McCain's scare tactics and in particular his not looking like the other pictures on money...well here you go.

People insist that John McCain, POW, is not a racist. That is probably true in one sense, that of disliking someone on that basis, but he is an opportunistic prick who will appeal to that sentiment at the drop of a hat and then smugly claim to have been accused of it and the accuser is a race baiter. We all have friends who buy into this kind of crap, here's the video and all you have to do is email the link or use the embed.

I've never had any particular use for this Hero, nor his self-serving crap. It is instructive to remember that this is the guy who stalled a Congressional investigation into his pal Chuck Keating and the health of Licoln Savings and Loan that ended up costing tax payers serious cash and destroyed quite a few people's economic security, he traded those people for his wealthy and powerful campaign backer. Some of you think his stand on illegal immigration had something to do with people, follow the money and see who benefits by a flooded blue collar labor market. McCain's pals, the plutocrats. Assuming honor in the Senate in this guy's case is risky business.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Pride and Prejudice - and Other Obama Nonsense

I am not any sort of a fan of Maureen Dowd, she writes well enough, but her reasoning tends to be that in name alone. In her latest NYT OpEd she has another narrow brush with reason but also manages to express an issue that is currently in play. She uses the character Darcy from Pride and Prejudice as a stand in for Obama. It certainly has been an issue in the media and opponent John McCain's campaign that Obama is an arrogant, prideful, hubris laden individual.

The media constantly noted that a pitfall for Obama overseas was avoiding acting as though he were President; despite no evidence of such behavior previous to the trip. When the pratfall didn't occur their response was how nicely he evaded it. Do what? How does someone avoid doing something they don't do? There was a pretty hubristic statement that came out of Germany, but that was manufactured by a columnist willing to gut a quote until it had no relationship to the actual words. I've watched Obama rather closely and the only arrogance I've seen displayed came about in the usage of short hand in the "bitter" comment, something that would have been a bit better received as a fully expressed thought.

I'm pretty sure it isn't Obama's dress that excites the claims of hubris, McCain's $560 loafers might, but not Obama's worn clothing. Physical appearance can lead to such ideas and it is a fact that Obama takes care of his physique, aided probably by a lucky genetic draw. A good program of exercise along with athleticism results in a erect carriage and a certain gait and no one could accuse Obama of physical slovenliness. Maybe the idea is that fat and decrepit is modest. It isn't modest, I won't go into it beyond that. My build is somewhat similar to Obama's - I am 5-10 and 145# and muscular. That is a matter of genetic luck and a physically demanding job, despite my "bean-pole" physique I am quite sturdy.

I have to wonder if the issue isn't about race. Eloquence flies in the face of media images of blacks; athletes who are "gonna visit Didneelan" or rappers far outnumber people like Eugene Washington or Barack Obama. As long as someone like Bill Cosby is busy being funny, it's alright for him to be articulate, but Bill wasn't running for the Presidency. Is Obama just too big for his britches? His black britches? I'll admit to a certain amount of envy regarding his tone, timbre, and mastery of language in speaking, but it certainly doesn't amount to jealous dismissal.

I am an advocate of listening to the words, the content of a speech or answer to a question and what it means. Prettiness of language doesn't mask emptiness, but neither does mangled speech indicate forthrightness. My judgement of John McCain as a liar, misrepresenting hypocrite, and general dolt has nothing to do with his lack of ability to function with a teleprompter. Having used one for a political presentation I can state from experience that it isn't real easy. What the words mean is what counts and a large portion of Obama's popularity as a speaker derives from the basis of the meaning of the words. I'll take the Obama version of a politician.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Blogspot is being difficult/Nope IE7

I am currently unable to go to my site, I'm unsure if this will go through. IE 7 is refusing to look at sites with vidoes, so I've down loaded IE 8 which wont' run Blogger unless it is "emulating" IE7. Now I can see my own damn site and now I can post to it. I could post to it in IE7 but not go there.

After 4 hours of trying to get to my own site and then to write to it, I'm too pissed to blog.

A Small Cadre

My small readership has declined of late, considerably. My Technorati ratings have slid, Blogburst uses me seldomly and in lightly read articles. BNN for some reason likes me. Some 30 or so are sticking with me, a small loyal cadre. I'll continue this for awhile and see if it will ever turn around again. I hit a skid last year and came back stronger than previously so we'll see.

Or, has my writing begun to stink? I'm lousy at self-critiques.