Thursday, December 31, 2009

How We End 2009

Not that this is exactly unusual.

***Click for full size***


Yes, it is December 31, 2009 in Baker City, OR and yes, it is snowing its butt off. As I've noted, if you think you know what the winter will bring around here - you haven't been paying attention. I've seen everything from shirt sleeve temperatures with bare ground to to double digit below 0F and snow feet deep. Today is high 20s and probably about average weather.

I'm over 21 years clean and sober; and I have a cold - so I'm not up for much in the line of celebration. I hope you all have a fun and safe New Year's Eve, with special emphasis on the safe part.

This Is Your GOP TSA

As the GOPers are losing their collective minds over the Undibomber it pays to stop and think about their reasoning. Since Sen DeMint has a hold on the TSA chief, there isn't any new regime going on - this is the BushCo TSA. Unless you want to figure the semantics of replacing the words "war on terror" as some terror enhancing feature, we're on the same track. Well, there is the little matter of treating the rest of the world as if it counts as something more than a map filler.

What you have to assume from their collective freak out is that the GOP TSA is a piece of crap and Obama hasn't fixed it quickly enough. You do understand that many people won't stop to think that the Obama Admin has scarcely made a bunch of replacements in the personel doing day to day operations. It doesn't seem there is a paper from the BushCo floating around stating, "Undibomber determined to strike." The changes made are pretty obvious, Democratic Administration.

Evidently with the lack of any domestic or foreign policy initiatives the GOP is simply back to the politics of scaring the public. They wore that rut pretty deep.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Imagine Saying This With A Functioning Brain

Kevin Madden was the Mittster's pimp during the GOP Presidential Primaries and afterwards. I'm not sure if contact with the ultimate position flipper causes neural congestion or something but here you go.

Now put yourself with a functioning brain in this position. You are going to tell Americans that since Obama didn't have a rubble pile to climb on and he vacationed in Hawaii, a foreign place, as opposed to the manly state of Tex-ass (you know, where men are men and sheep are nervous) that he's ... I don't know ... a pussy.

A fake ranch (I live where there are real ones) and some brush clearing seem to be ... defining ... of something. I don't know, a guy who chokes on pretzels and parades in a flight suit is ever so manly versus a guy who shoots 3 pointers in a pretty physical unpadded game. I give up, people will pay attention to this and buy it - along with the rest of the diaper wetters stupidity.

But seriously - for a moment, in the face of this - think about what it takes for someone of even average intelligence to be stuck with these kinds of lines as something other than a comedy routine. What self-regard could you have? I'm not going for the silly about fire dangers of neurons struggling with such, I do mean honestly - what would you think about while doing such a thing? I know it's asking a lot of my readers since they've shown no signs of doing such, but really. I'm lost on this one and it isn't as though Madden is the only GOP shill playing at it. I won't bring up Darth Cheney because his disconnects are legendary.

(it seems I didn't quit after yesterday...)

Too Much Practice At Giving A Damn

Since I now have no more connection to politics than the (D) on my voter registration card I should be be much more relaxed. I'm not. I suppose that's a consequence of too much practice at giving a damn. I shouldn't, really. I live in a nation whose political orientation I don't understand and can't do a damn thing about. If you think I exaggerate consider this.

RM Nixon may be political ancient history but he was by the standards of the time a pretty conservative Republican. You'd be hard put to place the current Democratic accomplishments to the left of RMN. Watergate was not the be-all, end-all of RMN. He was a prick and he was if not paranoid, damn close to it. He also was alright with a health care reform considerably more progressive/liberal than the current version. As for wars...well he had one - that did sort of keep spreading around. One. He kept enemies lists, yes, but he didn't indefinitely detain people and as for his spying on Americans - well shit. It pays to remember that his DOJ did send people to prison for a stupid burglary - not serious stuff like torturing people. There were people well to the right of Dick, and they were generally dismissed as mostly crazy. The left hated him with a burning fire. When Dick is thought of; it's Watergate or maybe China and just barely Vietnam.

The Sainted Ronnie is a figure of myth today, the reality bears no resemblance to the memory. The guy was an actor who was good at repeating his lines, virtually nothing he put his hand to worked out - other than the myth. He raised taxes, including FICA - the most regressive of all. He killed entry level blue collar wages with the amnesty of illegal aliens and opened the doors to today's crisis level problem. He elevated the voodoo economics of trickle down supply side economics to policy level and promoted the idea of government as the problem. All it seems it took was a pretty delivery. It would take too many pages to put reality next to myth and he's a hero.

In today's world things that would have resulted in Republican revolution under RMN or RR are serious Republican politics in the name of National Security. What four years ago done by a fringe lefty would have resulted in cries of traitorous are staples of elected federal Republican officials. A Senate bill that six years ago could as well have been written by the Republican majority is unanimously defied by their minority and called socialism as the left hates it. As we wind down a war in support of the most corrupt functioning government in the world we escalate one in support of one of the most corrupt non-functioning governments in the world and we don't have money to do squat for our nation. Two years after the bankers crashed the world's economy the same pricks are making fortunes doing the same things and regulation is a matter of speculation and the President is very careful not to hurt their feelings.

The stupid ass, DeMint, that is crying about how the Administration doesn't take 'terror' seriously and misquotes the DHS head about the TSA has a hold on the appointment of the head of the TSA...and the media ignores it. Me and my ilk are more likely to get killed at work than if we flew on commercial airliners every day and the whining mewling pissants can't stop - maybe if their lives presented a larger threat than a paper cut... The media that tanked for GWB and McCain now cannot get enough of the Republican opposition and is loath to correct any statement they care to make. John McCain gets almost as much media face time now as loser as he did as a candidate. People who got things mostly right about BushCo are ignored and their pimps get major media slots despite getting almost everything wrong. In the corporate media world mild liberals like Olberman and Maddow are the equivalent of Limbaugh, Beck, and etc. as though there is a comparison. Tabloid mogul Murdoch runs an entire network as an extension of the right Republican fringe and is aped by one media business after the other and taken seriously by a sizable portion of the public.

The very outer reaches of the Republican Party are now its mainstream and the Democrats fall all over themselves trying to become the old Republican establishment - and a meaningless handful notice and complain. People like Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson are the arbiters of Democratic legislation and most of that Party are willing to go along. The Democratic Party, yes the Democrats, are busy passing a purchase mandate of 4-9% of income on the bottom of the effective economic scale and quarreling over a pittance of a tax on everyone above in order to accomplish the biggest corporate give away in goddam history. The thing they're busy mandating on the economic loser worker bees will bankrupt them if they use it. It effectively protects the providers not the insurance purchasers from harm. This is the legislative victory as determined by the Lieberman/Nelson fringe.

This is how far we've progressed from Richard goddam Nixon...

I don't know why I continue to opine for a literal handful of readers and read the one blog that amuses me more than it pisses me off. I have no idea why I give a good goddam and can't seem to break the habit. Compare the stupidity and intransigence of American politics to the competitions I engage in, from drag racing to shooting where the competitors are nearly universally gracious, considerate and helpful and I keep playing at this?

Throwing rocks at the moon makes about as much difference as me paying attention - masochism I suppose...

Is this my swan song? I don't know - it sure should be.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Terror Pimps Peeing Their Pants

Along with very nearly everyone in our nation; I'd prefer not to be in an airplane that explodes or gets driven into something or be where one is crashed. I suppose that seems like stating the obvious, but there are other pieces of the obvious that are entirely left out of this NW Airlines bombing attempt. Let's start out with the most distressing, if enough people try, sooner or later somebody is going to manage it, even if everyone has to fly in the nude. That is just a matter of people being ingenious. Somebody will manage to break out of jail this year, out of a group of somebodies who all the authorities rightly suspect of being motivated to do it. That doesn't mean you throw your hands in the air and give up, but it does mean being smart and also not bothering to try to scare the public spitless like, say, Rep Peter King.
"I would say, right now, we do need the full-body scan, especially when you have countries like Nigeria, which have inadequate security to begin with; then you have passengers transiting in Amsterdam and coming here," King said. "I think we have to face up to this reality, that we live in a dangerous world where Islamic terrorists want to kill us. And, yes, there is some brief violation of privacy with a full body scan. But on the other hand, if we can save thousands of lives, to me, we have to make that decision and we have to come down on the side of saving thousands of lives."

Why not take a look at Nate Silver and see just how likely you are to get scattered across some landscape. Not very damn likely.
Therefore, the odds of being on given departure which is the subject of a terrorist incident have been 1 in 10,408,947 over the past decade. By contrast, the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are about 1 in 500,000. This means that you could board 20 flights per year and still be less likely to be the subject of an attempted terrorist attack than to be struck by lightning.

I'm actually subject to this analogy since I work outdoors and frequently in higher places using tools that are grounded; in effect making any of us lightning rods. If we hear thunder we start reducing the chances, but the reality is that lightning can happen before you hear any thunder or even see a reason to worry. And so?

The terror pimps got their real start with 9/11, the political and media impacts weren't missed by these opportunists. In the face of pretty obvious stupidity and incompetence BushCo managed to get re-elected in 2004, mostly on the back of fear mongering. A segment of the electorate in the 2008 election was worked over on the concept that the now President was a Muslim and "palled around with terrorists." Now the collective media and Republicans are pissing their pants because a guy set his pants on fire.

How far is this going to go in the search for the unattainable? What other or more "brief violation of privacy" will satisfy Rep King when whatever more steps are taken and avoided by a terrorist? What exactly is it that the President of the United States is supposed to say on TV that would make them feel better? Let's get to the nut of this, nothing that can be said or done is going to make for absolute security - and that's the game they're playing and you're their suckers.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A White Christmas From NE OR

Just for you missing such a thing (certainly not the Midwest) I give you what has to pass for a White Christmas here.


It is 27F at 3PM PST and it has been a pretty wild December here ending with some cold temps and actual snow on the ground. The temperature has been all over the place. I got a Harley ride in on Solstice at nearly 50F which followed a week of highs in the teens preceded by over a foot of snow. December in Baker City is never predictable, shirtsleeve weather one year and sub-zero the next, drought to rain to snow up to a giraffe's butt. We take what we get, and complain about whatever it is.

That is one of the constants of NE OR, you certainly can complain about winter. The saving grace is that we get little of the ice problems others have.

Best of Holidays to all.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Or Happy Holidays

Whatever this year has brought to you, we are still here and we have things to be grateful for. Hang onto that and those you care for, life is transient and best enjoyed while upright and breathing.

Have warm and sweet holidays, your host is thinking of you.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

View From My Couch

John Cole over at Balloon Juice created a post title that I've stolen and used for the same reason.



Not my couch, my Lazyboy recliner and Gus would like to have one of the Ritz crackers I'm eating. The camera is set on wide lense, I'm as far back as I get it, that is my knee, and - yes - the damn dog is bigger than me.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Must Pass Bill

I've been told that the Senate Health Care Reform bill is very important. The insurance mandates are not an evil and advance the health of Americans. I've watched and listened with a certain amount of fury mixed with amusement.

If there are any actual teeth in the regulations proposed about health insurance practices, the owners of policies may see some improvements. May see some improvements, so far I don't really see where it isn't about you hiring a lawyer.

I was under the impression that the mandates were about the health of Americans. If nothing gets Americans into doctors' offices rather than hospitals that would seem to be a chimera. Health is about staying the hell out of hospitals, that is a place for real serious problems and most real serious problems can be short circuited by primary care.

The Senate seems to think that uninsured Americans can cough up with a month wages to buy an insurance policy that will ... well what will it do? Real basic health insurance has high deductibles and low limits and lots of co-pays. Once you've stripped out a month wage from people on the very edge; what do they have left for co-pays and etc? What do they have to pay the deductibles with? You've just gotten into the hospital and have a $5000 bill that insurance won't cover and you can do what with that?

I suppose the rationale left for mandates is that the medium big hospital bills won't get passed on to everyone else. You've left me as to where that benefits Americans health. I do see some pretty good things happening for private insurance companies.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Democratic Political Disaster

Health Care Reform would be extremely hard under the best circumstances and none of those have been laid into place before this thing hit the fan. It should have been known in the Democratic Caucus what could fly. It should have been clear what the President was willing to sign. Consequences for Caucus obstruction should have been laid out clearly and absolutely. The vote should have been known.

The blame for this is all over the board, from President Obama to Freshman Senator.

Here's what that responsibility is going to entail. Voter turnout is always down in midterms and the most fickle voting groups are: 1) The Poor, 2) The Young, 3) Minorities. Those most impacted by what the current health care reform looks like are those folks and whether they will turn out depends on their enthusiasm, real enthusiasm. I think the most optimistic measure would be, "I don't care," and I think that is fairy tale land. Those Obama/Democratic demographics you were so proud of, bye-bye.

That in itself is horrid, but what about the activist wing? You know them, more left than mainstream out in the electorate trenches Democrats. Since the end of the Vietnam War the left has been almost endlessly faithful and forgiving of Democrats. There is noise and nose holding, but they do the part campaigns can't pay people to do. I do not know how that is going to go. I do know that in the face of the current mess it is going to be difficult to make arguments to them to bring in money and effort for Democratic majorities. We aren't as bad as the GOP isn't a real recipe for enthusiasm, true as it may be. You can try to make the case that the outrage around the apparent current Senate version of health care reform is limited to noisy bloggers and loon pundits. Um, polls are showing something different going on. If something is passed and signed, you still have to sell it as some kind of product. Much of this political year has been devoted to this mess and that means Democrats are stuck with having to sell it. Good luck with that one.

Older white voters do vote and that 25%+/- total loss Republican loon portion will also vote. That part of the demographic pretty much loathes Obama and anything they think he stands for. This puts you starting somewhat behind in the turn out game. You really need the activists out getting voters and you need them to carry a message that will get people out to the polls. The latest I've heard for a message is, George W Bush.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Bad Bill Is Not Victory, Liebercrats

Let's get some things out of the way right up front. I did not vote for Joe Lieberman as President. I did not vote for Joe Lieberman for Senate Chair positions or anything. I also did not vote for President Obama as a "transformative" progressive. I knew whom I was voting for. Rather, I thought I was voting for a Democrat.

I don't care about the regulations Health Care Reform is supposed to have, they are at worst a paint job on a whorehouse and at best some force for reform of practices. There is no real harm done and even a possibility of progress, slim but there. My prognosis is that the insurance companies will do as they please with these reforms and the consumer be damned. That much is crystal ball stuff.

What I can tell you with no doubt whatever is that mandates with no options will force American consumers to take whatever crap is offered by the sharks that have set this course. Not only will it force Americans screwed by their system to buy the junk, it will use taxpayer dollars to pay for it. The States with the worst insurance systems will suck hell out of the public teat. Understand, the worst outcomes will be rewarded with the most money from taxpayers. All you have to do is look at the highest rates of uninsured in states and their version of health insurance to understand where the money will go and who will get it. That much is assured.

Right behind that inevitability is this, the sharks who already benefit from a monopolistic system will have the reward of federal dollars and enforced consumer expenditures to swell their influence and income. If you think the Senate outcomes in this debate were owned by these people wait and see how that plays once they aren't just taking advantage of their existing power, but have it multiplied.

I've been told how important mandates are to insure those excluded by decision or economics and (for some reason) start forcing the system in a positive direction. There is no doubt that the uninsured drive insurance costs up when their failures are spread back out into the system. I've been talking about this for years. What nobody has shown or is even willing to try to show is that HealthInc is the least responsive to market desires or in any way attempts to serve consumers. What has been demonstrated is that they use whatever means they can to avoid paying or to pay as little as they can. That is not immaterial.

Does somebody want to argue about whether the health insurance system in this country is a disaster? If exploding costs, denials, etc in the face of federal tax rewards is not a disaster, well - OK. Now the Senate is poised to reward that failure with federal money and the involuntary servitude of the public. I may be forced to buy auto insurance if I choose to own vehicles, but I do have a "choice" about owning one and I do have a hell of a lot of insurance companies to pick my mandated coverage from and those companies have varying reputations but certainly better than HealthInc. I will point out that people are actually not in a position of choice about owning a body and virtually no choice regarding health insurance providers.

I will not support mandates without choice and I will not support people who make this happen. I will repeat the words Halliburton and Blackwater, anybody notice these failures being removed from the system or their continuation as necessary - in the face of their behavior? I will not support a Party that goes there and I will not support a President who lies to my face about it. I don't in the least care what Ron Wyden or Jeff Merkley say about health care reform, if those mandates stay in without choice they are Liebercrats. It should be obvious to anybody that if one or two Democratic Senators stood up and said no choice/no mandates or no cloture that the mandates would go away. That isn't going to happen and they will pat themselves on their backs for not pulling a Lieberman and enabling Lieberman. They can try that in public and I (at least) will be standing right there calling Bullshit - in public. It is unfortunate that the House is going to suffer right along with Senators since they provided some version of choice, but they're going to get hammered. The goddam Senators seem to have forgotten that the House is part of Congress and the President gets to sign or not whatever crap comes out of Congress and the suffering for their bullshit gets spread around.

The Senate has proved how it will handle as important an issue as health care reform, still to come are issues around climate warming, jobs, banking regulation, and the rest of 30 years of fallout of Republican junk. I suppose you have optimism... Howard Dean versus Joe Lieberman? Ahahahaha...

Senator Tom Harker just got done lying on MSNBC by implying that Dean's support was predicated on single payer - odd since he's played booster right up until choice was removed... Damn, that crap sounds familiar.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Latest Democratic Stupidity

This morning out of some masocistic impulse I got to watch Joe Scarborough smirk about how Joe Lieberman dragged the Democrats back from disaster and how Howard Dean was a leftist idiot deserving the White House ire while they're fine with Joe Ho. The people praising you should be some indication of where you've gotten yourself. Joe goddam Scarborough.

So now you know, Joe Ho is what a Democrat should be and Howard Dean is a rat bastard and that's where this White House is. Well, I thought I was a Democrat and I thought I was a realist and I thought I was pretty much in line with the majority of House and Senate Democrats. Turns out I was...um...wrong. The President of the United States, the head of the Party, has made it clear that I was wrong. I'll accept that measure of wrongness in definition. How about you?

The biggest corporate giveaway program by the Federal Government is supposed to be some sort of Democratic Victory. You can tell these people from the Republicans exactly how? Wasn't there a song...

Say hello to the new master
Same as the old master
lalalalalalala or something.

The Democratic Senatorial Corporate Shills

It is a whole lot of fun to bash hell out of the (L) Party member Lieberman and some of his co-conspirators like Nelson and Baucus and in some ways it is accurate enough. There is a bit more to it than that, well a lot more to it.

The Democratic Senate Caucus has enough votes to essentially end the career of any member of the Caucus. It is a real bad practice to do this to the opposition Party's membership, it encourages payback when majorities shift. It is a bad practice regarding floor votes because politicians need to be allowed their convictions and their constituency's interests. It is a whole 'nother kettle of fish where a procedural vote like cloture is involved. This is the Caucus' business and if it is important enough to the Caucus to bring the matter to the floor for a vote then they need to make sure it happens.

It is not that important to the Democratic Caucus. It is not a matter of sufficient import to that Caucus that minus any options other than the rapists of HealthInc a mandate to buy insurance remains. This is even more Halliburtonizaton of the public good. This is the Federal government adding more to the coffers of the same bunch that has driven this national fiasco, by fiat. This is BushCo's corporate welfare taken to extremes, it makes them pikers in that game.

You will buy their insurance and the taxpayers will make up the difference for some. You will get a handful of regulations that the industry will find ways to shit on. If you don't like what they do to you with your policy you will do what? Hire a lawyer? There is nobody and nothing to take your back, just you and your lawyer up against the richest corporations in the nation. There is nothing that will contain or control costs and no reason for the corporate rapists to act as though their rate payers mean spit next to their business models. They will "compete" with a couple of their fellows with exactly the same ends in mind and they aren't yours.

The Democratic Senators give exactly the damn you've seen them give, nothing. If you find a difference between what those Senators tell you and what is happening and what Joe Lieberman looks like - maybe you should listen to Lieberman. It is just this simple, Joe Lieberman is the Democratic Senate Caucus in operation. If that Senator of yours protests that this is too harsh; you're allowed to laugh in his face and ask just exactly what the results were and who allowed this. I will tell you flatly that there is not a majority in the Democratic Senate Caucus who give a damn about the difference or this would not be the result.

The Caucus knows what it can do to Lieberman and the other couple jerks, those jerks know what the Caucus could do; and they also know that they won't do it. They can act just exactly as they please on a procedural vote and there will be no repercussions. Not one damn thing.

The mandate should be a deal breaker for any Democrat as this mess stands. The rest of it is political window dressing and matters not the least other than as propaganda. If you think it means something and want to support it, then do so - minus that mandate. The mandate means that this is worse than the status quo, that BushCo still runs this country for the sole benefit of the plutocrats and your lot just got worse. Once HealthInc is sucking at the public tit in this manner they will never be removed from it and their influence in government will be multiplied by an exponential factor.

Yep, and you just got the President of the USA on your TV telling you that, "...not everybody will get what everybody wants..." and the only people who got what they wanted is Joe the Ho and his HealthInc buddies. You get talk. Yes, you good guy Senators, I am talking to YOU and about YOU. Go ahead and ask me and a bunch of people just like me for something again... Our name isn't Aetna - or Halliburton or Inc anything. I really figure the effort to fill in a space on a ballot is asking too goddam much. Show me I'm wrong - I ain't holding my breath, though.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Health Care, Or What (6/23/09 repost)

If you've followed this blog at all you know that I'm a supporter of the concept of single payer health care. I have no doubt that big health care insurance companies would take a hit but it would scarcely be fatal. Single payer would not be a 'gold plated' offering, it would no doubt have some limits on what would be covered and for how long.

This piece of limits would cause some serious hand wringing from the Right, as though no such things exist today. We have really stupid costs built into the system now, we spend incredible amounts on end of life measures, not creating comfort at that point but fighting futilely against death. A tiny minority of doctors are responsible for the vast majority of malpractice claims. The uninsured and under insured drive medical costs for everyone up drastically. Emergency rooms get used as doctor's offices and simple procedures get avoided until they are major. Insurance companies deny treatments until they fall onto the public dime.

Democrats and Republicans have completely different views of health care and who should survive - ie people or insurance companies' profits. Well, a bit more accurately most Democrats and some Democrats and Republicans have different views. You can certainly understand that campaign contributions from insurance companies (surrogates) go to those sympathetic to insurance companies and that doesn't quite reach bribery, but expecting something different is silly. The question that occurs is exactly why some Democrats are so damned sympathetic to insurance companies. It is important to realize that your premiums don't go to pay claims, they go to ... wait for it ... investment in investment banks. Remember the villains in the crash? Add them to this crapfest.

Real frankly what you'll get for your trouble in electing these folks is squat. There are some Democrats working real hard to look out for the public and they deserve kudos and support but if all Democrats were there - the deal would be done already. The Republicans have already shown where they stand - you're on your own - and considering them in the debate is simply childish approval seeking.

I don't have a lot of hope that Pres Obama would veto a junk bill since it is what he could get on his biggest issue. I wonder how I'll find myself dealing with how health care shakes out, I may lose my sense of humor. I'm closing in on the end of my leash, and my friends I break leashes.

*** Update 12/15/09 ***

So now what have you got? What you really have is a Senate who will make you buy insurance from the rapists who drove the system into this national fiasco and kind of limit, maybe, some of their really bad practices. You just had the President get on national TV and say, "...everybody won't get what everybody wants..." as though that had some kind of meaning. Single payer never made the gate so those folks got nothing, a public option wasn't good, but those folks got nothing, a Medicare buy in wasn't real good, but it's gone. Essentially the HealthInc got richer by Senate fiat as long as some toothless new regulations are kind of observed. You bet somebody got what they wanted and it sure the hell had nothing to do with any sizable percentage of the population, but the President just put up the strawman of "everybody." Joe Hoe Lieberman got what he wanted and HealthInc execs got what they wanted - the rest of you go suck eggs. No the teabaggers didn't, because some piece of crap with a (D) after it will actually pass and that's way too much for them, but essentially that exercise in stupidity gets what they wanted.

Me? I got a begging note from Organize For America. I get them from DSCC as well, and DNC and... I don't think so, I think they can stick it where the sun doesn't shine. As long as Joe Lieberman is a member of the Democratic Caucus and Max Baucus holds a Chair talking to me about helping is going to be real damn difficult. If you think either of those are going to change anytime soon, I suggest not holding your breath.

Water, A Town, The Fed, Stupidity Ensues

About 140 years ago a road was carved into the mountains outside Baker City. The purpose of this road was to cut a ditch to provide water to mines. A pipeline was laid in the ditch and this pipeline provides almost all of the water Baker City, population 10,000, uses. High quality water derived from a watershed now within the Wallowa Whitman National Forest. The water has some chlorine added to it to protect it from the city's own pipelines, otherwise the wet stuff is capable of winning water competitions nationally.

While it doesn't affect the quality of the water, there is a problem, the pipeline leaks. Baker City still gets its water but this is a waste of a resource. The city would like to repair the pipeline which lies under a road everyone agrees belongs to Baker City even though much of its 17 miles runs through the national forest. What is proposed, fairly straight forwardly, is to dig up the pipe, fix it, and cover it back up - all things Baker City is free to do with its road through the Wallowa Whitmans. The issue is getting the pipe carrying trucks to the dig, there are curves.

In fact, everyone involved agrees about the road and its ownership and control of it, unfortunately also that no one knows how wide it is. So Baker City is suing the Federal Government.

This stupid result is because were Baker City to exceed its unknown right of way a $100,000 Environmental Study taking a year would be required. This isn't a matter of the city wishing to create a highway of some sort into the forest, it is a matter of digging up a pipeline underneath the existing road and getting pipe to it. The crux of the matter is just how wide the right of way is and no one knows, not the city and not the federal government and so this will land on a Federal Judge's docket to sort out a matter of some feet. Lawyers and court time costs everybody money and cities of 10K don't need to throw money away in court. (if anybody does)

Something To Say About Joe Lieberman

Joe is ... well darn, I ran right out of polite adjectives and adverbs. How do you like that?

Knock yourselves out, something I won't have to censor.

Gus 'n Brayden


Gus at 150 pounds, Brayden at 19 pounds. Having the grandson and daughter in law living here is different ... nice.
Randi told me she used to laugh at her brothers and friends for playing video games, right this moment she's playing Fallout 3 and jumping at surprises and yelling at the characters. Hmmm.
If you've never played the damn thing, don't be too quick to jump to conclusions.

The New GOP

I'm sorry, I can't help myself - here's the New GOP.

Not safe for work or children or well, the humor impared (R).

H/T Balloon Juice.

Monday, December 14, 2009

US Slavery

Yes, it does exist and yes right here in the good ole US of A. Kansas City dot Com can depress the hell out of you.

More Misery In Africa, Thank GWB And The Christianists

Africa has had plenty of problems from the time Europeans began to meddle in it. That would be centuries of miseries mostly attributable to whites. This is scarcely to minimize African abilities in misery making, something not missing. Sometimes what could loosely be termed as good intentions go seriously awry.

McClatchy reports on a baby boom swamping Africans and pushing families into poverty. The culprit? BushCo and his Christianist allies insistence that birth control be uncoupled from US aid.
Under President George W. Bush, the United States withdrew from its decades-long role as a global leader in supporting family planning, driven by a conservative ideology that favored abstinence and shied away from providing contraceptive devices in developing countries, even to married women.

Bush's mammoth global anti-AIDS initiative, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, poured billions of dollars into Africa but prohibited groups from spending any of it on family planning services or counseling programs, whose budgets flat-lined.

If you ever wonder why theocracy makes me grit my teeth, read the entire article and think about the legacy of BushCo.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Lieberman Still Crapping In The Democratic Bed

I understand that most levers the Senate Democratic Caucus has to use on other "Democrats" lose effect if they are public. That would mean that there is a lot I don't know. I sure do know a couple things.

The Senate health care reform bill proposals have consistently neutered the neutered House version. This process is still ongoing. This process is ongoing because some so-called Democrats are threatening to block cloture if the bill is at all meaningful. If the Caucus was taking itself in hand this would not be the case. There are more than enough votes to pass real reform once cloture happens. Democrats don't need to play GOP purity games on the vote, but cloture is another issue all together.

I'm beginning to lose all respect for this body and considering their 6 year terms that loss of respect can easily mean I'll just quit playing. Democrats have asked a lot over the years and now they've finally been delivered a theoretical filibuster proof majority and the Presidency and are demonstrating an entire inability to get cloture on signature legislation. You folks want my support for what? Are you going to ask me to help get an 80 seat majority? I know you're asking for help to maintain seats, as things stand - I think not.

Somebody will probably accuse me of playing purity games. Nah. I'm well left of any candidate that has run for national or state office in my memory and I've been useful anyhow. I'm not expecting the kind of health care reform I'd really like without an entire melt-down of the system. I'm a realist, but now I'm offended. I'd like to point out to Democratic elected officials that I'm a lot more patient and pragmatic than a hell of a lot of people you count on. I know you do realistically discount our vote numbers, but our numbers do include a lot of money and ground troop effort you count on.

Sitting on your hands and blaming Lieberman, or Nelson, or etc is entire horseshit. You have the numbers to cripple any of these Senators for the rest of their terms and effectively shut down their re-election. If you cannot get your own damn Caucus past cloture because you are unwilling to do so I am to understand that you are better alternative to the GOP exactly why? This effectively means that electing you guys does not mean any progress but rather being frozen in the morass of BushCo. That being the case I'd rather let real Republicans trash the place sufficiently to get the idea across. Yes, opposed to watching your pointless flailing I'd back the Confederate Party of Republicanism so we can have some real failure since BushCo wasn't obvious enough.

Do you think I wouldn't send them money and shoot you in the foot every time you offer one up in search of that end? Yes, I'd back the Confederate Party of Republicanism in their plutocratic racist theocracy ends and all their warmongering just so Americans can see what they actually are. I'd say we've now been allowed to see what you guys are and that is an exercise in paralysis.

*** Updare ***
Profile has been modified because I am no longer comfortable with speaking from any place reflecting a political Party's official views. For the time being I'm done.

Republican Foreign Policy Spite Serves Whom?

Six months ago the Honduran military arrested the President, Manuel "Mel" Zelaya, and sent him out of the country in a sort of coup. Since that time the new government, unrecognized and ostracized by the Obama Administration, has courted Republicans. GOP Congressmen have traveled to Honduras to show solidarity with the coup and stick their fingers in the Obama eye.

It might have paid them to pay attention to exactly what kind of people they were climbing into bed with. Per McCalatchy, this kind of people:
As Zelaya approaches his sixth month of banishment, human-rights organizations here and abroad say Honduras has experienced a serious deterioration of civil rights in a country where death squads and extrajudicial killings already were commonplace.

Resistance members say they have been subjected to a campaign by police, the military and paramilitaries to execute their leaders and members. Human-rights activists have documented the deaths of 26 members who have been stabbed or shot across the country.

Activists say more than 3,000 people have been illegally detained, 450 beaten, and 114 now are political prisoners since the June coup.

Sen Jim DeMint is the kind of guy it isn't too surprising to see in this sort of company. The words ethics and politics don't get too close to each other in this guy's world. If you wonder what kind of USA he's thinking of, looking at who he supports might be instructive.

Assholes.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Lieberman Is A Democratic Chair?

Here's a question for the Democratic Senate Caucus, exactly what is it you're keeping Ole Joe Ho around for? What Democratic bill is it you think he's going to vote for if is isn't warfare or Corporate Welfare? Or is that stuff on your agenda?

I'm real curious as to the agenda that keeps a plutocratic warmongering Republican wannabe as a member of the Caucus. If you want to convince Democrats that you're not idiots, how about an explanation? Hell, do it on TV but do it...

Finance Regulation Happening?

It kind of looks as though the House has passed something resembling reform of regulation of financial institutions, investment institutions. I'm quite sure there is plently lacking from the left perspective, I am insulted by the exclusion of cram down that would allow morttgage term restructuring on primary residences while allowing it on luxuries like second homes and yachts - who is that designed to benefit?

It seems to have a lot going for it, regardless. Now we get to see what the Corporate Investment Whoredom known as the US Senate will make of it. Be ready to puke, despite the last couple years.

Robust Legal Systems Have Reasons For Existing

A McClatchy report once again points up the reason the US built a legal system with such robust protections for the accused.
A day after the emir of Kuwait sent his royal jet to fetch a citizen from Guantanamo, the Pentagon has dropped war crimes charges against the Kuwaiti Airways executive who has long claimed he was a victim of mistaken identity.

Susan Crawford, a Pentagon appointee, who has overseen military commissions since the Bush administration, on Thursday dismissed the terror charges against Fouad Rabia, 50, "without prejudice."

"Without prejudice" means charges could be refiled. I have no idea if the man did or did not do what he was held for. What I do know is that he has been held for years without coming to trial for what is a criminal matter.

What the authoritarians forget is that the reason the US system requires the government to jump through so many hoops is this - the accused faces the full might and capabilities of the most powerful entity in the world. The deck is scarcely tilted in a defendant's favor. The idea that Americans' concept of justice can be served by removing protections is ludicrous. The same whiny diaper wetters that scream about 'terrism' also make pronouncements about limited government - is there a disconnect? Isn't there always one?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Health Care (ahem) Reform

It begins to look as though the Senate version of health care reform will be composed of letting some older Americans "buy" into some sort of "Medicare" and piling some more customers into the HealthInc rapists' paths (on the public dime). There are some pretty good guys in the Senate Democratic Caucus, the operative word being some. Maybe it isn't fair to call the US Senate a wholly owned subsidiary of the Corporate World and HealthInc, but it is sufficiently so to make the lack of that absolute immaterial.

I'll wait awhile to absolutely lose my mind. While it is true that the longer legislation spends in Congress the generally less representative of the public good it is, it is also true that it generally changes. It might actually make some difference to Senatorial Hacks that nearly 60% of the voters want HealthInc to be forced to compete with an entity that actually holds the public's welfare in some esteem. It might not.

Er, probably not...

Bad For The Nation, Bad For Parties

You've no doubt noticed over the past few months that the Right of the GOP has been become more influential and reaching for considerably more power. Sen Jim DeMint is probably as whacked on the right as any politician in somewhat recent history, he has pursued foreign adventures that under BushCo Congress would have resulted in accusations of treason. He had a chat with the Christian Broadcasting Network and laid out his desires and opinion of the Republican "leadership."
"The problem in the Republican Party is that the leadership has gone to the left," he said. "I need some new Republicans."

I'm pretty hard pressed to find that leftward tilt he seems to be referencing. Would that be the lockstep opposition to Democratic legislation?
"[We need] people who believe in constitutional government, a balanced budget and liberty and so I'm out across the country recruiting new republicans who I think if they get here will not only challenge the institutions of government but be willing to even challenge the Republican Party and our leadership if they feel like we're going in the wrong direction," DeMint said. "I think just a handful of new Republicans in the Senate could help change the direction."

Now go ahead and neglect the fact that none of the issues he's have had shit to do with Republican legislation, who is it that he's talking about here? It certainly has nothing to do with DeMint personally in political legislation. Not even remotely to do with his politics on religion, civil liberties, taxes and spending, or - well - essentially anything.

Jim DeMint may actually be operating under the delusion that some broad swath of Americans support his lunacy. This view would ignore the Democratic voters and a large portion of the non-affiliated and it would ignore some remaining segment of the Republicans. This sort of thinking leads to a Party in the low 20% and nationally irrelevant. Responsible opposition Parties are important to the process, not all ideas of any Party are so good that they cannot be improved with some input from a different perspective. In function today that is largely missing and going farther in that direction leads to even less input.

This crap drives Republicans out of their party and encourages the growth of Republican thinking in the Democratic Party. As a Democrat I find that offensive and destructive to my Party. You could see today's Senate for an example of where that gets you. The Democratic Party cannot hold all points of view other than the lunatic, it simply ceases to be a political party and becomes every thing other than lunacy and that is not a political point of view. I don't know what Republicans have to actually stand for, their rhetoric does not match their actions.

I could actually understand a drive toward smaller less intrusive government but they actually drive toward no such thing, their intrusions are not lesser, they are simply different. I really could care less what they land on, just that it be reflective of sufficient of the populace to have some kind of political impact. The problem is that Sen DeMint's nonsense doesn't address the dearth of political vision, it simply moves that lack in a more stupid direction.

Ah well, hold your breath and all that...

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Go Ahead And Think On This

While you're considering the shitheels in the US Senate, some of the Democratic label and an entire Republican Caucus there is sometimes something like this. Ah well.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

How Stupid Is Sen Ben Nelson ?

Sen Benb Nelson has introduced legislation to help fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq with War Bonds. This was in apparent reaction to the idea of some legislators to pay for the wars with a surtax. Either Nelson is as ignorant and stupid about finance as he is about health insurance or he's a political tool dedictated to nothing in the public interest. Does anybody not know that that whatever the label, bonds are debt? Calling the financing War Bonds makes it not an iota different from the Treasury Bonds China is already buying.

A tax is income, a bond is borrowing. I'm sure Sen Joe Lieberman also approves - he of the debt scare filibuster threats. These guys may have a lower opinion of the average intelligence of the American voter than I do - I wonder who is right. Yessiree, it's just fine to stack up crippling debt to kill people and break things but heaven forbid it sace people's lives.

I must be a masochist to keep giving a damn about this.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Senatorial Sticks

I've spent a lot of years watching Democrats get rolled on anything remotely resembling the public good and I expect to see quite a few more years of the same thing. That is because I see the public good from somewhere well left of the center. I understand that.

Looking at the health care reform actions in the House and the Senate I'm not surprised how things are working out. What I am incensed about is the Caucus' inability to show the recalcitrant members the sticks that are in their hands. Chairmanships and Seats on Committees are a start. There is a hell of a lot more.

Elected officials at the federal level need badly to show the folks at home that they bring benefits along with their office holding. Any bill you can think of contains stuff that is narrowly focused to that end. There is absolutely no reason whatever that the stuff has to stay in a bill other than collegiality. Senator Lieberman, would you like to write some of that stuff into a bill? Well, here's a real good question for you, how did you vote on a filibuster? Do you, Sen Lieberman, think your Chairmanship is important? Why should anyone think your vote for the Caucus will be forthcoming in the future if you're not whacked? Somebody might be able to remember the 2008 election at this point in time.

I've reached the point of no return with this. I understand that the junk measure in front of the Senate at this time is the best you could get in front of the Senate. That doesn't mean it isn't junk compared to the need, it just means that is what could get done at this point. Alright, if you can't get this piece of offal into a vote because your own Caucus won't do it, then why is it I should put anymore effort into you if they get to do that for free?

I'm not being a purist, I just want a vote on something that remotely resembles health care reform. If you let this handful of Senators blow this up without clear consequences, then I'm done with you. Clear done. You may be the good guys and that's really nice, but in the world where I live there are consequences to actions. Being an activist isn't so much fun that I can't see my way to walk away from everyone of you all the way down to town officials. It isn't much of a threat taken by itself, but if someone as stubborn and ornery as I am is on the edge, it might be something to think about.

Nobody has to vote against their conscience to allow a vote to happen. They can certainly vote against passage and should be able to do so without Caucus revenge, but to stop a Democratic initiative from coming to a vote isn't acceptable. If about 56 Democratic Senators can't lean on the remainder of the Caucus, then what good are you? Why should I care if Republicans get another opportunity to run the place into the ditch if the only difference is the initial after a title as far as results are concerned? Is there some reason to believe that unless it involves a Corporate/Banking/HealthInc giveaway this same bunch won't just filibuster again?

Your call on how you handle your Caucus, my call on how I waste my time.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Federal Tax Code Games - Supply Side Bull****

At one time the top federal income tax rate was 95%. That immediately strikes people as wrong. It seems the federal government is trying to run solely on the backs of the wealthy and it seems like confiscation. It seems like this because people forget that the tax code is not only about raising revenue, it is also about achieving social and economic ends. This "sin taxes" are all about, the goal of cigarette taxes isn't so much to raise revenue as it is to discourage smoking.

If you play along for a moment, a 95% rate only applies to the amount earned above the next lower rate - not the entire income. The first $20K of a gadzillionaire's money is taxed at exactly the same rate as a burger flipper's. (all this neglects the effects of FICA and tax code allowances) Now that 95% applying only to a "narrow" sliver of income should make it clear that it isn't about revenue (unless you posit there is a reason to try to get that 5% left), what it is about is discouraging grasping for that last piece of the pie. There is an absolutely closed system within companies, there is just so much money to pay for labor, salary, capital investment, share holder disbursements.

There is a reason that 40 years ago the CEO multiple of wage earners income was a fraction of what it is today - there wasn't any point in getting it. The slashing of the top income bracket rates means that they are free to grasp for any amount they can get and keep it. You don't have to look too hard to understand that the capital gains tax reduction and income tax reduction coincide with crushed labor compensation.

Sure, there are other reason as well - and they pale in comparison. This is the triumph of greed over the common good. Supply side economics my ass - you've been sold a bill of goods.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Indugling In Teabaggery

No, they're not kidding.



I love the voice-over.

You do have to ask yourself where these people were during BushCo.

Well, he was white...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Of Kisses And Bows And Stupidity

This is courtesy


This is obsequious


And we live in a nation with a large dumbass quotient. If you were curious about a representative one, Bush flack Andrew Malcolm goes stupid in LA Times.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Republicans Scared Of Trials - Surprise! Update, Mewling Puking Cowards

Sen Kit Bond (R-MO) finds it inappropriate, in fact a disaster for the Federal government to try Khalid Sheikh Mohamad in a NYC court. This on the basis that Mohamad will have the protections of law, in Bond's words - the rights - of criminal defendants. He sees it as an insult to the memories of the victims to try him within blocks of the sites and to give him the opportunity to propagandize Americans. He thinks it is the first time "war captured individuals" have been given such and opportunity. This from an interview with Andrea Mitchell this morning.

Maybe it's the (R) after Bond's name, but Senators are sworn to uphold the Constitution of the US, whether it seems convenient or not. Let's start somewhere near the beginning of this sort of story, if Mohamad is brought to public trial it doesn't matter where the trial is, he gets to have his say and that would be in front of Americans - propagandizing them. If he is proposing a secret trial, he must have another legal system in mind - a rather authoritarian one. There also seems to be an assumption that Mohamad would persuade Americans with propaganda. I'm not too sure where that comes from, it would seem reasonable to me that those who would agree would agree anyhow - considering the accusations.

As for the insult part, I'm not sure how that works other than in his fevered partisan imagination. The victims of crimes are ordinarily offered the opportunity to, at the very least, observe if not participate. The insult occurred on September 11, and seemingly once again when Bond's type assume Americans can't handle trials. The entire point of a trial is to prove that the party is guilty of the accusations and that the government had the right and correctly proceeded against them. That last part is the absolute kicker - the most powerful entity in our nation is shown to have behaved correctly. Bond seems to be of that authoritarian frame of mind that the government is always right - despite membership in the Party of NO.

As more (R) folks pile onto this mess of their making it seems to me that the issue has nothing to do with the security of the nation and everything to do with stirring up the base. One of the most powerful vehicles this nation has in opposition to fear, hatred, and bigotry is our ability to take governmental action in the open and to proceed fairly. Perhaps, they'd prefer the option of fear, hatred, and bigotry.

That'd be real surprise...

****Update****

In a real surprising development there are additions to the crybaby Bond. Pant stain additions,
McCain, Sessions, Kyl, hold your breath if you think this is the end of the Republican pants wetters. Mewling puking cowards like this give aid and comfort - crap you know the line.

Bewetters

Because the last thing I'd do would be to subscribe to a blog run by idiots of the particularly partisan stripe; I have to bring this to you courtesy of John Cole at Balloon Juice. I don't like to poach wholesale from sites, but this is too ... something:
Today Barack Obama is going to announce that the terrorist mastermind of September 11th, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, will be sent to New York City for a criminal trial in a civilian court.

In that trial, the terrorist will get all the rights afforded an American citizen in a criminal trial, including the right to a fair trial, the right to a taxpayer funded attorney, the right to review all the evidence against him, potentially including classified intelligence matters, the right to exclude evidence against him including, potentially, any confession obtained through enhanced interrogation techniques, etc.

At best, this will be a show trial fit not for the American Republic, but a third world kleptocratic totalitarian regime. At worse, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will gain access to classified material he can then leak to other terrorists while New York yet again becomes a target for terrorists. We have already had occasions in this country where terrorists’ sympathetic lawyers have conveyed information, orders, and plans to other terrorists.

You can find more details here.

Call your Congressman and Senator right now. Tell them they should use every tool at their disposal to block this. The number to call is 202-224-3121.

Sincerely yours,

Erick Erickson
Editor, RedState.com

Now I'm confused about the rights provided defendants in US Courts resulting in "At best, this will be a show trial fit not for the American Republic, but a third world kleptocratic totalitarian regime." So if you have the misfortune to find yourself in a US Court you will be engaging in a show trial? If you didn't get those rights wouldn't that qualify as a show trial as practiced by regimes we're actually familiar with?

I'm not sure how stupid the Editor at Red State is, but,"Mohammed will gain access to classified," couldn't be a much more ridiculous statement. The SCOTUS ruled on the government's right to control classified information and set the bar really low, allowing, in fact, information already public to be with-held. The government will use experienced and well qualified prosecutors in this case - they do need to win - so the idea that they'd be as ignorant and inept as Erick is pretty ludicrous.

If Republican Senators weren't already piling on with the same level of "intelligence" as this post I'd just ignore it as one more example of right wing bed-wetting. Consider this, Republican federally elected officials are taking their talking points from a third rate intellectually challenged red meat partisan outfit. These idiots want to pretend that they're qualified to be a part of the leadership of the United States of America?

I understand partisan politics, I have positions within the Democratic Party of Oregon, so the chances are that I engage in some. If I were stupid enough to get blind drunk and then further stupid enough to shoot off my mouth; I would not assail one of the foundations of our form government. I cannot understand how people continue to buy the tough guy hard talk from this bunch as they wet their pants at every possible opportunity. Are there kindergartners they're not afraid of? They keep waving their stained drawers in front of the American public as though there is some advantage in it.

Color me flabbergasted...

Doomed To Repeat History

George Santayana is credited with the quote, "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it." This is indeed a pretty astute observation, it is also used in contexts where it is meaningless. History is not a collection of dates and names, battles lost and won; it is really a quite complex exercise. History is the study of entire societies, not narrow aspects of them and understanding outcomes of certain actions takes a lot more depth than simplistic quotes.

One that has been getting a lot play lately regards Afghanistan as the burial ground of empires. It is entirely accurate to note that empires have foundered on the shoals of Afghanistan, it is foolish to take more from it than that. If one proposes to play conqueror of Afghanistan there is a lesson for you right there. To take that particular aim and broaden it to any action taken in regard to Afghanistan puts entirely too large a load on narrow shoulders.

I do not know all the alternatives that were available to GWB in regard to Afghanistan in the beginning, there were more than the one he chose. We can see how the one he chose has played out as he ran it. This is what we do know. It would be reasonable to think that the way forward should not be an extension of the same failures.

We not only need to know how to proceed in Afghanistan now, we also need to understand what has gone wrong. We need to know that, not so much to know how to go on, but to avoid a similar mistake in the future - now is not then. I think it is optimistic to see the situation leading up to our action in Afghanistan as a one off, as something the future may not present us with again. Not many places on earth are Afghanistan, but things that pertain in Afghanistan are not that unique, hostile geography is scarcely a feature of only Afghanistan. Tribalism and barely governable areas within a country aren't just Afghanistan's difficulties. Most of what makes Afghanistan a really difficult proposition for the US right now are features you would find in a place that presented us with a similar problem.

There is no "do-over" in Afghanistan now, we have what we have now to deal with. I really hope some part of the government is taking a real serious look at what went wrong so that we do not repeat it. I hope we look a bit deeper into our tool kit and find one appropriate.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Veterans' Day Sen Coburn

Sen Tom Coburn (R-OK) is a doctor, yes a medical doctor. He also postures as a fiscal conservative. Maybe it is no surprise that he put a personal hold on the Senate bill to increase VA coverage for disabled vets and their care-takers on the basis that how it is paid for isn't demonstrated. A principled stand?

The amount of principle involved might have some question when you consider that he voted for the unfunded War supplemental in 2005. He admitted that and stated that he was new and it was the only time. That would be a true statement if it weren't for the 2006 vote he made for the unfunded War supplemental. So, that would make him an unprincipled liar?

Perhaps the fact that those votes paid to make disabled veterans of everyone during that period and he's running around on Veterans' Day kissing the flag and contrasting his support of the troops with the dirty Demonrats a charge of hypocrisy could be made.

So that might make him a hypocritical unprincipled lying fake patriot. Well, Oklahoma - you elected this particular type of human detritus to the Senate. Nah, I wouldn't live in your state, not for large money.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Confederate Party of Republicanism Believes ... What?

I have a pretty strong handle on what I believe and what I think. I have been known to oppose some things pretty vehemently and to propose things. I am a member of the Democratic Party and I have a pretty general idea of what binds us together. Then there is the CPoR.

It is apparent what they oppose - The Democrat Party. It would be fair to say I oppose that bunch, but I can't seem to find any ideas to oppose, just a mindless CPoR hate fest. (in the Congress of the US they can't even manage the correct name) (they can't maintain decorum -You Lie Wilson, Health Reform Debate)

If you're going to call something an idea or a policy it must have some sort of internal logic and that is just flat missing. One of the latest themes is that the CPoR is The Party of Fiscal Responsibility. They wish to be forgiven their behavior under GWB because ... well, he's damn unpopular and they lost - an aberration. Well, OK - in the spirit of collegiality let's give them that. They assert that the Democratic plans will explode the deficit (true or not) and should be opposed. The same people, exactly the same people, scream that Obama should just send a gadzillion more troops to Afghanistan as though that were free or something. They don't say anything about paying for it, Obama is simply a ditherer.

Out of some stupid sense of fairness let's forget their adamant opposition to Medicare and attempts to kill it. They scream that policies to remove the "Donut Hole" and strip out fraud and waste are efforts to "kill Granny." No, that's not just an astro-turfing website, it goes on in Congressional speeches. They hate Medicare because it's wasteful and such and yet it is untouchable. It is socialized medicine but the Demonrats will kill granny.

If the CPoR is confronted about the Iraq War their first response is that the intelligence was faulty which would indicate that the decision process was flawed by using bad information but Obama is dithering. If he stops to figure out what is best that is dithering but massive screw-ups are the fault of some amorphous 'them' intelligence guys.

The first policy refuge the CPoR goes to is tax cuts, all the while they screech about fiscal conservatism. They would have you believe that less tax revenue equals more tax revenue even in the face of all evidence that it isn't so - including CPoR tax increases by the same crowd to repair the hole.

The CPoR is the Big Tent Party all the while cutting the throat of their own (R) member's throat in a political campaign. The BTP is the one that holds a rally/press conference on the Capital steps and can't see the proud signs bearing hate messages. The signs everyone else could see. The House Minority Leader "didn't see any offensive signs." It isn't as though the stage lights were in his eyes and he couldn't see past the front row.

The CPoR has presented itself over the years as the Party of Adults, apparently in contrast to the dirty hippies of the 60s. Now I don't want to be gratuitously mean, but the film of the August town halls and the teabaggery rallies isn't a model most would have their children emulate in the grocery store. Now it would be unfair to tar a Party, even the PoA, with the brush of a loon fringe element - it would be if that Party wasn't egging them on in speeches and even inviting them to harass Congress in its halls. It also would seem a bit Adult to know the difference between the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence or to possibly get the Pledge of Allegiance right when you're ranting about keeping the 1950s addition to it.

The late history of the Republican Party had it as the Party of Business. It would seem to still be true if you call Wall Street and HealthInc business. As individual donors to the CPoR that would be true but it isn't in terms of jobs and taxes. Business is being ruined by health care costs and tight credit.

The CPoR can't get its act in order in regard to governmental interference in public life. If it has to do with gayness, reproduction, or pretty much anything to do Civil Liberties beyond the Second Amendment they want to interfere. If it is health care they propose the the interference of a faceless for profit bureaucrat is preferable - despite outcomes. This part, of course, is called Free Market. The really big problem there is that other than voting for advantages for some particular interest or client they cannot show ever supporting the idea. That it has never existed in the US or anywhere else is only a quibble.

The one idea that I can seem to find is that they are The Real Americans. From the signs and rhetoric it is evident that the real ones are white Christian heterosexual war mongers. The unfortunate truth for them as a national political party is that they are right about being the CPoR. I have no idea where Republicans who aren't CPoR are supposed to go, honestly, Democrats have enough problems without them.


*** If you can think of anything they actually do believe in comments is open ***

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Self-interest And Morality

I've avoided this for a long time. This started as a discussion of whether laws were moral. I asserted that they were not and the rejoinder was that all laws flowed out of morality. I insisted that the use of force left that claim out and that what they are is a social contract to allow us to co-exist. To use an extreme example, murder isn't illegal because it is immoral, if that were the case the State wouldn't do it, soldiers wouldn't, there'd be no exceptions. It is illegal because it's dangerous and we can't live together if it isn't illegal. It is a matter of logic. I was challenged to show that a system of morality involved logic. If you're not interested this would be a good time to leave because this isn't simple, it isn't a matter of appealing to a book of regulations.

I am alive and I exist in an inter-dependent system and I want to do well.
The health of that system directly affects my well being.
I am the actor, I am the motivator, I am ultimately responsible.
It is in my self-interest to maintain that system.
My actions have outcomes that bear on my well being.

Now let's hold the train for a moment. Self-interest is not the same thing as selfishness and greed. Religions last because they hold within them the elements of a successful social contract. (it just doesn't matter if it is the word of god or not) If you take their tenets apart with that in mind you can find internal logic without appealing to a god as an authority. There are variants on the theme, but saving your soul is the object, this is the ultimate in self-interest and refers explicitly to long term thinking. Where I'm going isn't nearly as heretical as it might seem.

Self-interest is the basis of this moral construct.

So, can't you just do as you please? Well certainly, but there will be outcomes that will bear on you. Can't I just steal or whatever? Doing so will have bad effects on your interdependent system and victims will not like it or you and may most likely harm you. But what if I can get away with it? It isn't likely, and it sure isn't a certainty, not to mention that you have harmed the system you depend on. Why shouldn't I just take every bit I can get and screw you - greed? The system will break down if you do, people will be put into the position of taking it away to survive.

Do I want to be loved? It is a very valuable survival tool to have. If I want that then I'd best run my show in a manner that is lovable. If I give I improve my surroundings. The better everyone in the system does the better my long term business/economic interests are served. If you don't have you cannot trade with me, the more you have the more we can do of that. If you do not trust me you will not engage with me. Having sub-units of the system (friends/family) is important to mental health and social stability, if I want that then I'd best take care of it. If self-interest is the driver then why would I advocate for something like gay marriage as a hetero-sexual? The system doesn't work well with a second class citizenship, important details are thrown out of whack by it creating a dysfunctional system that I have to live in.

Does this create a situation of making myself god or a religion of the system? No. I cannot be a god if I am a piece of a system and because the system must work to the advantage of its inhabitants or screw me up it cannot be a religion with blind obedience. I do not use system to mean a collection of rules, I use it to describe the interacting collisions of humans in close proximity. We will lay out a system of rules regarding behavior because we will not all treat the collisions with respect that our self-interest requires. We will not all look at actions from regard to long term outcomes. These rules will work if they are laid out with the intent of producing outcomes based on the logic of remaining in close proximity and regularly colliding. If we approach these rules with logic we have some hope of achieving some consensus of what they should be.

If we appeal to the non-logic of things like religious faith we will not get past the varieties of faith to agreement. Without appealing to religion or "conventional" morality there would still be an argument to be solved regarding abortion. Without the rigor of religion/morality there is a measuring process that can be used to sort out the balance regarding reproduction. There are outcomes of varying social success on both sides. It does not require a god to recognize that child pornography uses someone who cannot understand or consent in a manner which damages that resource which the system depends on for its continuation. I am harmed when my neighbor is harmed because we must exist together, in some way I will have to account for his harm. It does me no good to cripple your ability to do business because I depend on your presence in the market in some fashion, but it also harms me to allow you to run rampant.

This is a simplistic approach to a very complex issue. It is intended for thought provocation, a serious treatment would take a book and no publisher has offered an advance. I cannot begin to more than lightly touch on the number of issues this affects; but the reader certainly can expand it - or dispute it. If you don't like it because it doesn't appeal to a higher moral authority, that is your business, I don't pretend to have god's mouth to my ear. I try to make sense of things and I won't absolve myself of that responsibility by using the word god to duck.

The eternal question regarding something like this is that without appeal to a higher moral authority it becomes optional. I'd say that even in that case it has proved optional and that you can, for example, drive a car into a crowd or you can drive on the road, there are outcomes. It is far simpler to teach behavior by saying something is bad without providing a basis for "bad" beyond appealing to a higher moral authority than it is to examine the reason for "badness." If you are four years old and reading this, go see your parents and ask them why you can't hit your sister. The rest of you help yourself to "comments" or not.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Confederate Party of Republicanism Resurgence

Rep James Clyburn (D-SC) was asked today how the votes were coming on the House version of Health Care Reform. He said things were working out well, and when asked if there had been any changes in the situation he responded, "Well, we picked up two votes today." Those two votes would be the result of the Resurgence of the CPoR in the Nov elections. You may note that the Governors of NJ & VA were not consulted. Yes in that South Rises Again theme of the CPoR a problem arises, in Federal Offices the (D) outfit is 2 for 2 and the CPoR is 0 for 2 including a should have been a gimme.

I don't like losing Governorships to the CPoR but there is also an issue of not just any Democrat will do with voters. The lesson should be clear, if you want those Obama voters to come to the polls, especially in an off year election, you had better give them reasons to do so. I'm not talking ideological purity here, but if you don't recognize that those people came out for reasons you're going to miss them.

The residents of those states will get to decide if those were good votes, but in the Congress there are two votes that are both declared for the House Health Care Reform Bill.

(sounds like Sherman got the last laugh again)

Thursday, November 05, 2009

How Long Will Steele Last Now

RNC Chair Michael Steele has a job description.

When he was asked to assess the claim made by conservative blogger Erick Erickson at RedState.com -- a grassroots driving force behind Hoffman’s candidacy -- that conservatives scored a victory last night, Chairman Steele could not have disagreed more firmly.

“I don't see a victory in losing seats,” Steele said. “I'm in the business of multiplication and addition. I want more Republicans. I don't buy that we somehow find victory in defeat.”

I think he'll piss off the practitioners of teabaggery with that kind of talk. That would imply that ... well, there are more than one type of Republican. This time he may actually be that cow on the tracks he mentioned one day.

SPLAT


(if the tag "terminal stupidity" seems over-used lately, take it up with Republicans)

We Hold ... That Boehner Is An Ass

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Anybody recognize this quote? House Minority Leader Boehner sure doesn't, he stated in public in front of the patriot teabaggers that it was the Pre-amble to his pocket copy of the Constitution. Nobody looked surprised.

He was glad to stand with the Founders, he just doesn't seem to know when or how. It seems to me Rush made exactly the same stupid claim to CPAC - Boehner only sported an orange tan not a bouncing ... well, I'll not be offensive to my readers.

Holy shit, US Congress House Minority Leader and two of the most basic historical documents in US history and ...

Go ahead, make something up to top it.

Afghan Victory Looks LIke ... What?

Let us start out with who is playing in Afghanistan, there is the US/NATO faction, the Kharzi government (?), India, Pakistan, AlQaeda, Taliban, Iran, and every other big player in geo-politics. Everybody seems to have a hand in mucking up the works and really very few have Afghans' well being at heart. India and Pakistan have their dispute as a basis for playing for playing with client groups which seems to be back firing rather badly in Pakistan. US/NATO have an anti-AQ/Taliban agenda involving also not having a failed state haven. Iran, China, Russia, etc have their own geo-political reasons to mess about. Some of these things have direct bearing on the US/NATO mission, some not much.

The failed state condition is believed to have led to Taliban dominance and AQ's haven/operational base. I'm real unsure what it is that is now supposed to be the alternative to that. The Kharzi government has little reputation for being representative, a real reputation for corruption, and seems to sort of control Kabul and little else. If there is something resembling a non-failed state government it would seem to be either the warlords or the US/NATO forces. Since our forces are scarcely representative as more than occupiers the actual government would seem to be the warlords. The question that occurs is whether these people would permit a Taliban/AQ government? I just do not see how the US can propose to impose the Kharzi outfit on the that nation as things stand.

Thanks to Pakistan's desire to keep Afghanistan from being a powerful Indian client state sitting on another Pakistan border the Taliban/AQ have become a nasty presence in their nation, their nuclear power nation. Oddly enough, Pakistan doesn't want our troops running around their nation shooting it up, though they are beginning to realize what a monster they've got loose at home. The US/NATO realize who and what the Pakistanis have let run in their portion of dirt and are really pretty petrified about it. What there is to be done about it by the US/NATO beyond some Predator strikes is a real debate. The US threw real piles of money and supplies into Pakistan to get today's results - not so hot. It certainly seems to be the case that a good portion of the Taliban/AQ presence is home grown Pakistani and so qualifies as pretty much a civil war.

I'm really pretty sure that the Obama Administration is struggling with all these factors as well as the US political fall-out factors. I don't think there is a good answer, I think whatever course chosen would have bad results and I think they know that and are looking for the least bad outcomes. The biggest question now, what is the American populace willing to put up with?

The idea that we're going to stop this one place from being a haven for AQ is probably faulty without huge numbers of soldiers. Worse, there are failed or hostile states around that would serve that end regardless of Afghanistan. Stopping that probably would be better served by use of something other than a sledge hammer, there and around the world. I own sledge hammers and use them, but not for driving nails.

Pakistan is going to be a nail biter for some time to come. Nobody with any sense outside Pakistan has been pleased by their achievement of nuclear power status. Pakistan has its own home grown religious weirdness, they haven't required any imported versions to be a challenge to security in this world. There isn't much we can do about Pakistan if its government can't keep sufficient support in the country to stand.

Whatever President Obama decides to do about Afghanistan, I'm afraid he'll come out the loser in that narrative. I wonder if he knew that when he worked so hard to get the job.

How Do You Do This?

Sure, it's water not marriage

Or is it?

How would you feel about drinking from the other fountain? Superior?

OK I'm a bit more than the sad I mentioned in the previous post...

Maine, Another Loss Of Humanity

I had some fears about the outcome of the the Question 1 in Maine with this initiative happening in an off-year election. Motivated base voters come out and it is difficult to persuade the ordinary voter something like this matters to vote on. This resulted in another "direct democracy" vote to strip fellow citizens of their humanity. While I might think the issue of Civil Rights falls on the side of gay marriage, it becomes so convoluted in legalese that it is arguable. I don't want to argue, I want to win.

I find it entirely offensive that my law-abiding fellows are denied the same rights and responsibilities the rest of us have, and that is about Civil Liberties. It is an essential human drive to establish stable long term relationships - families. It is essential for evolutionary reasons and societal reasons and it is not optional as a drive for most. It is not a construct of the legal establishment, it is a survival mechanism that has simply been recognized and formalized by the legal system. It is of such human import that whole structures both legal and religious have grown up around it. Another vote has been taken that denies our fellows their humanity.

I don't see how people in that group wouldn't be angry - I am a member of the heterosexual majority that isn't denied anything by this vote and I'm sad and disappointed. Denying people their humanity asks for fury and fury begets poor decisions. I'll be damned if I'll begrudge this community anger, hurt, disappointment, and impatience; they have been harmed at a very basic level. They asked for nothing extra, just to be recognized as fully human and were denied. Again.

I'm going to ask for something, for that rage to be channeled into creation, for that energy to be used to accomplish rather than harm allies and potential allies. Oregonian LGBT organizations are taking a longer term approach. The plan is to put a same sex initiative on the ballot in 2012, a Presidential election and to use the time between now and then to educate voters in a fairly low key manner. The object is to defuse the confrontational aspects before a vote, to swing public opinion into line with their objective well ahead of a campaign and to hold the vote in a year where activated base votes have less effect. This is about patience and work.

I know that throwing things and breaking things to hit back feels better than buckling down and working. It also doesn't work. There is collateral damage involved in anger and that damage discredits a movement. On something like a tax measure everybody who pays taxes has direct skin in a vote, this is different and some alliances or potential alliances are fragile. Mine is not, but I don't represent enough voters to win these things, those who do are subject to alienation by extreme rhetoric and behaviors. You are trying to appeal to a sense of fairness and humanity in people who are not directly affected, that is the goal and target - not splashy demonstrations of anger.

I am an ally, I am not suggesting complacency and I am not suggesting that having an emotional reaction to having your humanity denied is silly. I am talking about winning and that requires a strategy that recognizes both the strengths and weaknesses of a movement and accounts for them. If the object is to win, then do that.

Biblical Interpretation - Hmmm

Matt Taibbi has a Goldman Sachs spokesman making a statement regarding - well, you figure it out:
“The injunction of Jesus to love others as ourselves is an endorsement of self-interest,” Goldman’s Griffiths said Oct. 20, his voice echoing around the gold-mosaic walls of St. Paul’s Cathedral, whose 365-feet-high dome towers over the City, London’s financial district. “We have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieving greater prosperity and opportunity for all.”


I'm not about to tell readers what religious books mean, not my job, but this one is a head scratcher. Taibbi has a take on it and I wonder how this is supposed to help greed head outfits sell themselves to anyone not quite brain dead or so unmitigatedly avaricious to be soul dead.

I don't know about pitchforks and torches but holy cow.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

So, What Do These Elections Mean?

There were elections Tuesday, as you may have noticed. There was bad news in Maine for same sex marriage, and NJ and VA elected Republicans as Governors. These were the big talking points on the NEWS. There was a lot talk about what this means for Democrats. Funny, the two Federal Elections that are about - well, Congress apparently didn't mean a thing in that theme. CA10 elected a more liberal Democrat in the Primary and he crushed the Republican. The Democrat who was supposed to be a sacrificial lamb in NY23 won. I don't think any of this really has national relevance other than Maine means it still is hard to get voters to approve same sex marriage, and particularly in an off election.

The Hoffman, Owens, Scozzafava mess in NY23 has some meaning, but the ones who should be paying attention probably won't. I have made the statement that principles matter quite a few times and that I admire standing for them. It is also a fact that other people with other ideas are involved in the political process, across parties and within them. If one takes an all or nothing stance in politics the usual result is nothing.

I cannot count the number of times that my Party has let me down, and I don't get to feel alone or singularly victimized. Republicans can quite validly make the same complaint. It's those other people. You know the kind, people who think they should have a voice whether they're in complete agreement with me or not. They also get insistent about it by voting. If you want to get anything done, you're going to have to take them into account.

They have managed to prove that they can upset the applecart in a ho-hum no-brainer off year election. Influence well beyond numbers through noise is a long respected political tradition...

What they'll try to make of this is anyone's guess - really - but there is word that Sen DeMint is going to back DeVores over Fiorino to face Boxer in CA and DeVore is another ... baggery type. Not that it matters much, Boxer would have to do something incredibly stupid to lose. One does have to wonder what'll happen in FL, though because it is not nearly as meaningless. If they can Primary Christ out they'll have dumped a real probably win and Rubio isn't that at all.

If this seems a bit rambling, I've got a flu bug going on and I'm feeling real poorly. Excuses, excuses...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Faux Version Of A Poll

Some kind of a Faux Poll

YOU DECIDE


Would you support health care reform legislation if it did not contain the government-run insurance option?

Absolutely. Congress should stick to legislating laws and regulations, and let the free-market system work.

Probably. I’m still unsure whether reforms will cut my medical bills, but something has to be done.

No. The current health care system works fine. Leave it alone and let the free-market system work.

Undecided.

You have got to be kidding me. They did note that it is not a scientific poll. No shit?



OH NO! We're not the propaganda arm of the Confederate Party of Republicanism ... not even a little bit.

Ahahahahaha, etc.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Gov John Baldacci's Same Constitution

Governor John Baldacci (ME-D) is campaigning against M1 to reverse the legislated same sex marriage he signed. He was not a supporter of same sex marriage two years ago. He has had, essentially, an epiphany consisting of the realization that the lack of congruence between marriage and civil unions creates a second class citizen. People who are not treated equally under the law.

This is exactly the point. I am a married heterosexual and have absolutely no interest in marrying or having sex with another male; I do have a very basic interest in my law abiding fellows having the same rights and responsibilities as all others. It is not real complicated, it does not involve religion or special treatment or any of the canards the opponents bring forward, it is entirely a civil matter of equality under the law. If you choose to not civilly formalize a relationship you forfeit some of that - a choice. Barring such a union does not involve a choice.

I have an abiding respect for acting out of principle and if that involves changing a previous view, it is just as deserving. Kudos to the Governor and best of luck to Maine.