Tuesday, September 29, 2009

When The Two Live Brain Cells Stop Talking

John L Perry writes in NewsMax (I will not give them link credibility) :
"There is a remote, although gaining, possibility America’s military will intervene as a last resort to resolve the “Obama problem.” Don’t dismiss it as unrealistic."

I have no idea what evidence there is for this, other than in his overheated imagination, but:
Will the day come when patriotic general and flag officers sit down with the president, or with those who control him, and work out the national equivalent of a “family intervention,” with some form of limited, shared responsibility?

The purpose of this "family intervention?"
Imagine a bloodless coup to restore and defend the Constitution through an interim administration that would do the serious business of governing and defending the nation. Skilled, military-trained, nation-builders would replace accountability-challenged, radical-left commissars.

I think you could do a pretty thorough search of the Constitution and come up lacking the mechanism for this Constitutional Restoration.

This is what happens when the two live brain cells stop talking to each other. I'd as soon not go back into the sewers of BushCo to rant about abridgements of Civil Liberties but where were you then Mr Perry? If you'd like to read the rest of this cretin's stupidity I've given you the information you need, but really it is no improvement. If you want to take apart the language you'll probably find something ugly and depressing.

I will remind you again that this was written for NewsMax and that alone makes it more worthy of mockery than concern. While their readership is larger than this blog's it still is immaterial and involves quite a few lefties watching the show as well as the intelligence challenged who take it seriously.

What's In A Name?

The Senate Finance Committee voted down the Rockefeller Public Option Amendment 15-8 and the Schumer Amendment on the same topic 13-10 and this brings forward the question above. The name Finance should tell you who the big players are and who owns enough Senators to blow this one away. If you really don't like what you've found out about who runs the show, then maybe you might want to think about running someone else against them in those things called Primaries.

I can't help you with that, I live in Oregon and my Senators seem to be 'the good guys' and I'll be damned if I'll move to your state - I think you've just seen why.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Motor Home Adventures Or How Not To Act Around Things Bigger Than You

If you've been following along the Adventure Series you are aware that the land whale is pretty big. Let me be a touch more specific, loaded weight is just under 20,000 pounds and I look down at the roofs of lifted full size pickups and make direct eye contact with drivers of tractor trailers and the width is exactly the same. That land yacht fills up a lane on a freeway.

The 454 Vortec Chevy is quite capable of powering the thing along at 70 mph, it also is quite capable of sucking the bottom out of an 80 gallon thank at that speed while at 62 mph or so it sips at nearly 10 miles per gallon. Think a bit, if nearly but not quite 10 mpg is good consider what bad is. This pace means that I'm moving at slightly under the Oregon 65 mph freeway speedlimit and a bit over the 55 mph truck limit (observed by trucks at generally 60 mph speeds). I dislike moving slightly slower than trucks forcing them to pass me at a couple mph, a long passing interval. I use the cruise control extensively and accelerate to pass truckers. I try to be a considerate driver, enhancing safety for all concerned.

Today's average bigger car weighs 3,000 pounds and big pick-ups weigh 7,000 pounds - the motor home is a tad bigger and occupies just a smidgen more room and handles little like a sports car. This disparity creates a situation where any mingling of body parts means someone else is going to be a big loser in that equation of mass and inertia. Apparently this equation loses all force of reason in the face of a desire to travel 7 or 8 miles an hour faster.

When highway work has signs out stating that the left lane is closed and barrels are angling across that lane it makes life interesting to wedge a Mercedes two seat sports car into the remaining couple feet beteen my fender and the barrels. It really won't make much difference that I have full ride insurance on the land whale or that the Mercedes is a really expensive car when I have concrete crash barriers to the right, a misjudgement will mean the tiny car either goes through the barrels or underneath the 20,000 pound behometh. Any contact at all means the sports car gets pulled under. Not so good. The traffic ahead is moving at the same pace I am and it is single file so the only gain is my 36 feet of length. Quite a risk for not much return - a crooked broker is probably a better bet.

If the turn signal is flashing and the motor beast is crossing the dotted line it does mean that I am serious about leaving that lane. A high speed dash in a Tacoma pick-up into that shrinking space means someone has to give suddenly. You've just gotten lucky enough to survive that move because I was watching for it, if I'd glanced out the windshield instead of at the mirror there'd have been mangled sheet metal - mostly Tacoma sheet metal and possibly driver. Just because your pick-up would fit in the space between the tractor trailer I just passed and my back bumper doesn't mean it is a good idea to shoot in there. I was getting out of your confounded way.

Honestly folks, the speed I'm driving is the speed I'm going to go. Your vehicle is not powerful enough to push mine faster and I'm not intimidated by that itty bitty thing right on my rear bumper. If I have to brake you're going to mess up the appearance of the back end and I'll hear it but it sure won't crash me, your results will be much worse. I really don't care where it is you think you're going and when you think you need to be there, if there are no pull-outs or passing lanes you'll have to try your luck with a pass. If the lines aren't in your favor or your vehicle doesn't have enough butt to do it you might as well relax because I'm bigger than you.

Here's the deal, getting squashed like a bug will cause a real delay in you getting there, where ever there is. At highway speeds it takes quite awhile for 10 miles per hour faster to make a difference, I will get 62 miles in an hour and you will get 70 miles, that is eight minutes at my speed. You could almost smoke a cigarette in that time and it would shorten your life a lot less than mixing it up with me.

It just isn't worth it, I can't stop real quick and I can't change directions real quick and you'll lose. Truckers will second this real emphatically, none of us want your paint on our vehicle or your blood on our mind - use that brain for something other than keeping your ears apart.

Motor Home Adventures Or How To Ruin A Perfectly Good Drive

The maiden voyage began, Baker City to a point about 60 miles north of Vancouver, WA for my brother-in-law’s birthday. A surprise birthday party was the object. We rolled out with me, wife, and Gus the Pyrenees as the crew. Up on the freeway I was a bit disturbed by the handling which seemed sloppy and not what I remembered, I shrugged that off. At nearly half way my wife mentioned a desire to go to a place in WA called Trout Lake past White Salmon, WA and to watch for signs for that and the bridge across the Columbia River. I’ve never been there or anywhere near there so that’s just what I did and the signs were to the Hood River Bridge, a steel grid roadway bridge. As we rolled into the toll booth I was disconcerted by the booth’s narrowness and looking out at the bridge it seemed pretty narrow also. Boy was it narrow. I put the coach body on the center line and my passenger side mirror showed less than a foot of clearance between the body and the guardrail. Really close for something the size of what I was driving, really, really close. Too close as I discovered a third of the way from the far end as apparently the center line moved a bit toward my side of the bridge and my passenger mirror found something on the side that gave less than it did. Result was the sudden and noisy removal of said power heated mirror and my utter blindness on the entire right side of a very large vehicle. Large is not an exaggeration and neither is blind, I look directly at the drivers of semi-tractor trailers and the roof of a full sized pick up is lower than the passenger window. A special mounted specialty mirror was now at the bottom of the Columbia River, an expensive and not to be found in short term item gone. Unhappy is an inadequate description of my mood.

Trout Lake it turned out is about 30 miles of heavy grade and sharp curves away from the Columbia and completely changed from my wife’s previous experience. I was clueless and map-less and still pretty … um … displeased with the river crossing and my utter blindness on the right side and narrow shoulderless roadway. My wife was pretty tired of my negative attitude and as lost as I was in a very dark town in a very large and blinded vehicle. I mentioned the bus like wrap around cab windshield without mentioning that the seats are almost in front of the front tires which creates strange riding sensations – you have to be there – and she can’t tolerate it so she was over thirty feet back in the bedroom. There was some … unpleasantness. The result was leaving Trout Lake and heading for Vancouver and not back across that bridge and not on a bet getting on a freeway. WA 14 runs along the Columbia, sort of, in a winding grading sort of way. Dinner was from a Subway in a little town, surprisingly open at 10 PM. Tempers were still a bit short of good. The night was spent at a Rest Area outside Vancouver on I-5 which was extremely nerve wracking with no mirror.

The morning revealed the reason for the poor handling, the passenger outside dual was now flat. The new $400 passenger dual had not a lick of air in it. Pretty nice to be on I-5 blind and with a load bearing tire quite incapable of bearing any load and heavy traffic. Fortunately anywhere of town size would likely have the tire store responsible for my tire and I found one with no more than two very close calls with drivers rushing up on my right before I could get into a newly formed right lane – the lane a blind on the right vehicle absolutely must be in. The malfunction turned out to be a valve stem, fixed for free and eating up only a couple hours. A NAPA store was almost directly across the street.

I had no hope a direct replacement for the missing mirror would be in stock and I was quite correct. Worse yet, was that I was also correct in my assumption that available mirrors wouldn’t be suitable. The mirror was a very stout housing hung from a single upper mount, no hoop or other brackets. No such thing. Directions to RV stores were available so off on a mirror hunt. The RV store was sympathetic and mirror-less but had phone numbers for big dealers in the area. Phone calls elicited sympathy and nothing else. It seems leaving a mirror on a large river bottom isn’t an anticipated result of owning a motor coach. (a convenience store on the other side of that bridge had assured me that it is a common occurrence in response to my … whining) Some more thinking and desperation convinced me that a possible way to use a NAPA mirror might exist, so back to the NAPA (now 30 miles or so later of driving in unfamiliar country and one sided blindness later). Some monkey business involving disassembly of the mirror and replacing parts with parts entirely unintended for such a thing resulted in a mirror I could actually hang from the mount and a mirror that would flap in the breeze at any speed above a crawl. Duct tape is wonderful stuff resulting in a wrap around the bottom of the mirror and a slather across the windshield to keep it from blowing back, a funny and slapdash looking cure, but one that worked.

On to the birthday party? Nope, my wife needed for us (me) to find a park where she could use the coach shower. This involve diving off the somewhat back highway road to the party location onto a much more back highway road and two passes at parks to find one that the land whale could actually get into with only two turn and back ups. The shower worked like a champ, sufficient hot water and comfort in usage. Now to use the wall mounted hair dryer after firing up the generator. Nope. No 110V electricity inside, odd. Check all the breakers, all on. Hmmm. Why would this thing have a 30Amp plug-in from the generator in the power hook up section? Plug the outboard coach 110V cord into it and magically have the generator provide power to the inside, how about that. A working dryer and plug for curlers and I’m somewhat redeemed from lowlife.

Oddly enough, with a working mirror and tires doing their job and a not quite pissed-off wife my attitude is improving. The land whale is eating up the narrow twisty roads and I can see what’s going on over on the passenger side and directions to the party locale work out just fine. The driveway proves that yes, I can fit the thing down a narrow and long and tree and bush shrouded lane without leaving parts in my wake. The brother-in-law is gratifyingly surprised and pleased to see us – and amazed that the land yacht made down the country lane he lives at the bottom of. Gus, my wife, and the coach are great hits and I manage to cope well with being in the mix with a lot of people a couple of whom I know. Disasters avoided, difficulties dealt with, what looked to be a catastrophic maiden drive ending successfully – well, I could have missed it all and maybe been happier (I do have to order a very expensive mirror and deal with broken wiring) but the drive didn’t end ruined just a good sized piece of it.

Motor Home Adventures – How To Spend Money And Time Having No Fun

A couple weeks ago my wife and I bought a new (to us) motor home – called by owners of such things, a motor coach. The unit is a 29,000 mile 1998 Dolphin 36 foot Class A, a bus style on a Chevrolet truck chassis with a tag axle. An explanation of terms is probably called for, a Class A has the driver’s compartment as a part of the coach (or living area) while a class C has the driver’s compartment in a truck cab that opens into the living area. Most newer Class A coaches have a flat front end with a vertical wrap around windshield like a Greyhound bus has. A tag axle is another non-drive axle behind the dual wheeled drive axle that simply adds additional weight loading capability and stability to the coach.

When I went to look at the coach I found that the front tires had pretty bad age cracking on the sidewalls and I negotiated a price reduction with the owner to partly cover the price of new tires to get the thing from Bend, OR to Baker City, OR which is a distance of about 200 miles of curvy mountainous 2 lane highway. The rear duals didn’t look real good but passable. Two new front tires mounted cost $800, wow.

The coach has a slide out on the dining and living area. When this is extended there is an awning which rolls out with it to cover it’s roof from rain so water is not carried back into the coach when the slide out is returned to the in position. Part way home the stitching on the awning where it attaches to the main body gave up, requiring a couple wraps with a bungie cord to keep it from unrolling and flapping in the wind. The coach had set unused for a couple years and was filthy on the outside so on its arrival in Baker City the first thing on the agenda was a thorough scrubbing and waxing – a large job. My wife then detailed the interior which with a couple minor exceptions was in new condition and had the top of the line interior, solid wood cabinetry, hardwood kitchen flooring, and other amenities. In a somewhat fair distribution of labor I got to take care of the exterior detailing. That included dealing with the unstitched awning.

The stitching created a loop of vinyl fabric which went around a vinyl rod which was captured by “C” shaped retainer bolted to the side of the main coach. The spring loaded roller travels out with the slide out unrolling the fabric attached to the coach. The thread of the stitching had simply rotted away, unfortunately unraveling from the center which managed to tear a few inches of awning through the stitching at each end. I had no desire to dismount the roller assembly twelve feet above the ground and unroll the fabric and remove it to try to re-stitch the thing and certain had no sewing machine capable of dealing with 14 feet of heavy vinyl fabric. I did, however, have access to a vinyl roofing hot air welder and the expertise to use such a piece of equipment – being a construction contractor sometimes is convenient. Trying to sew the thing again would probably only have accomplished sawing the fabric by poking even more holes in it, the welding on the other hand would increase the holding area and done carefully to not burn holes be even more water tight and not subject to rot, at least not faster than the fabric itself. The draw backs are that welding roofing involves material firmly attached and stretched with draw tools and definitely does not involve an air space which a loop creates. That loop presented a further difficulty, something, the rod, had to create the loop and that rod was also vinyl – the same material being welded in very close proximity. The welder works by blowing very hot air through a slot nose which is slid between the sheets to be welded; that hot air blows back into the welded area right where the rod is in this case. I used series of clamps to hold the material in shape and only managed to stick the rod to the material a little in a couple places. I’d have been unhappy to see that weld on a roof but it sufficed and the rod pulled out with a serious tug. The welded loop then had to be set into the “C” and the rod inserted into the end. A couple tries involving a learning curve like adding a turn on the roller and using petroleum jelly on the rod got that done. Ok, good to go – sort of.

An examination of the rear duals showed that the trip home had finished them off, another nearly $1,600 to cure. Truly a pretty unfortunate use of tire rubber considering that there was over 80% of tread life left. This seems to be a general motor coach tire situation, the darn things don’t use up the heavy truck tires in mileage, they simply rot from age first. You use commercial quality heavy truck tires that would carry a lot of freight a lot of miles for amusement and wearing them out would involve an awful lot of amusement. I can't afford that much fun.

Well, the thing seems to be road ready - I think...

Friday, September 25, 2009

I Am Aware Of All Internet Traditions

One of my favorite blogs, Balloon Juice has added a Balloon Juice Lexicon with the expressed purpose of allowing newbies into the inside language. You need to have experienced both the postings and the commentary to appreciate where this is coming from. I wouldn't call the experience exactly child friendly, but I would also recommend being ready to laugh...pretty heartily. (laugh your ass off)

I have deliberately chosen a pretty mild example for your amusement and as a teaser:
Celebrity, or Obama as a celebrity- One of the weirder chapters in the 2008 McCain campaign occurred in the summer of 2008, when McCain HQ tried to re-brand popularity as a negative. The campaign produced and aired commercials depicting Obama as a celebrity, with the clear implication that widespread popularity at home and abroad should be an electoral liability. Although this reflected a classic Rovian tactic of attacking a candidate’s strong area (see ‘Swift Boat Veterans for Truth’), some took this to mean that strategists in the McCain camp were unaware that the goal of an election is to win more votes. Several weeks later the campaign chose Sarah Palin as McCain’s running mate, an act which confirmed those suspicions in the minds of many.

I frequently boost John Cole's Balloon Juice on this site, I find it a repository of smart and witty writing, both front page and comments. I couldn't leave this go without noting one that credits a BJ poster:
“I can see Russia from my house”- Tina Fey’s satirical take on Sarah Palin’s foreign policy credentials. Palin’s actual summation of what qualified her to deal with Russia wasn’t much better: “They’re our next-door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska.” Variations are used to mock those (usually but not always Palin herself) who don’t let their ignorance of a given subject stand in the way of offering opinions that they expect others to take seriously. Local commenter Krista, now RedKitten, famously responded, “And when I look out my window I can see the moon. Doesn’t make me a fucking astronaut now, does it?” Krista’s reply became such a popular internet meme that a writer for Leno honored her by ripping it off.

If you're easily offended, leave it alone - if you like smart people being upfront, go for it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Racism Or Not

President Obama may not want race to be a part of defining opposition to his Administration and politically I agree that he's better off not engaging it. That may be politically sensible but being that doesn't mean a thing about accuracy. If you look at Teabaggery the entire absence of actual issues and facts divides that mess into emotional ideological stance and flat out racism. You're going to have to go a pretty long ways to convince me that racism isn't the largest segment. No, your individual denials of racism are only going to show that you individually engage in stupidity rather than racism.

Once you move out of the Republican establishment on the Health Care Reform debate you find a tremendous amount of congruence with the Teabaggers, including the fierce anger and stupid protest signs. Look to who winds up the wingers, Limbaugh and Beck and others all of whom have beaten the racism drum with great enthusiasm. These folks have gone beyond dog whistling to blasting fire sirens. The socialism mantra is somehow morphed into Marxism, Leninism, and Hitlerian fascism despite none of them having any congruence beyond their images played to the willing.

This is the key to understanding that little of this fury is about ideology, the images and rhetoric are fact free and logically unrelated to anything historically recognizable. It takes a willingness to be deluded to be stirred to this level of anger. You have to try pretty hard to get to a point where someone as innocuous as President Obama is comparable to Hitler and other assorted very bad totalitarians. This of course doesn't address pictures of the President as a witch doctor or a demented Joker.

The Electoral College roll-over that happened during the election masks something, the Confederate white vote and the national white margin McCain won. That a young black guy beat an old white POW would be astonishing if the McCain campaign hadn't absolutely sucked eggs. What they did do, with the able assistance of Sarah Palin was plant rather deeply the seeds of 'otherness' in regard to Obama. This wasn't some political accident, it was quite deliberate and its meanness coupled with disgust for BushCo and the plutocratic economic meltdown meant enough people were unhappy with it. But enough people to roll up Electoral College numbers don't make a huge majority, they make a 53-47 majority which means a whole lot of people didn't vote for the black guy - anyhow. There certainly was an ideological base that saw a centrist Democrat as unacceptable versus any Republican candidate, and it may have been a majority of that vote, but that still leaves a very large number - a number that would be very noisy in the face of a black President.

Racism has a range from a largely unexpressed discomfort with those of another race to vocal and violent resistance to any advances by another race. The uncomfortable folks are ordinarily pretty quiet, they operate at a repressed level. The flat out racists aren't quiet, and if they are given some kind of cover excuse they'll shout to the roof tops. The cue is whether that shouting makes any sense at all or is so terminally stupid as to defy life signs on a monitor. Ideologically driven people will generally make statements that contain some resemblance to reality, it may ignore some facts or put really strange spins on the ones it recognizes but it will not be some alternate universe version of Earth, it will contain some sort of reasoning - perhaps based on faith in some generally accepted canard (see trickle down economics). It will also have been pretty generally applied to the 'liberals.' Many bed rock conservatives are quite aware of what Nazism and Leninism imply and simply walk away from such talk, not so those with something other than ideological hobby horses to ride - they find no appellation too extreme to hang on Obama.

It is probably pointless to try to shame them with the racist label, only a very few will publicly revel in that role. Merciless mockery of their batshit craziness is the most potent tool. The Joe Wilsons of the political arena make easy targets for something other than hot rhetoric, laughing and pointing at the man with his pants on his head is more effective. I like the label Confederate Party of Republicanism because it holds sufficient demographic truth to sting and winds in the strings of racism, secessionism, and hatred of the federal government and seed of hickness. It is possible that the ideologues will be shamed by association with such - but then, they've had quite a bit to be ashamed of over the past few decades and seem to persevere...

Discussion With Joe Finder

I didn't like Joe Finder's NYT OpEd and he challenged me to give him space to defend himself. I have done so and what follows is our discussion, uncut and unedited. It is a bit long as blog posts go, but that is how such a thing as this is done.

Chuck -- First, thanks for affording me the opportunity to argue with you on your blog. I respect that. You're the only blogger/attacker who's taken me up on my offer, and I admire it. Now, have at me.
You call me a "right-wing torture apologist." We'll get to that, but let's start with "What changed?" You say:
"Well, now what changed other than the (D)/(R) in power? ...

Available Information is what changed."

OK -- here's why I think you're not getting my point. I have not found any evidence that Holder’s opinions in 2002 differed in any way from Bush policy, and as far as I’m concerned, anyone who explicitly and vocally supported Bush policy and offered no objection whatsoever is, to one degree or another, complicit. Sure, he added that we should treat detainees “humanely” – but so did Rumsfeld and Gonzales. It’s all well and good for him to have raised objections in 2008, when it was politically expedient to do so. But where was he in 2002? Forget about "available information." No: this was a question of morality and the law. I didn't hear Holder saying the detainees should have the right to habeas corpus, did you? Tell me what he said in '02 that differed from what even Colin Powell was saying -- and bear in mind, Colin Powell approved waterboarding.
Your move.
I’m not confident that Geneva applied to irregular non-uniformed non-governmental combatants as a legal point, that their treatment by the US should have comported with it is beyond doubt for me. The Habeas Corpus debate happened well after 2002 and in my mind anybody who asserted that anyone we held was held as a criminal rather than a POW wasn’t due Habeas is an ass. I have no information that Holder asserted any position on that. I found myself in the middle of a political mess thanks to our Republican Congress that had real fallout for someone it shouldn’t have and that time line was well post 2002. Powell was a complete disaster at State and he’s never been any hero to me, though what State and Holder have in common misses me. Linking the names Rumsfeld, Gonzales, and Holder in respect to saying “humanely” is meaningless as an argument since both Rumsfeld and Gonzales were active participants in torture and there is no such information about Holder.

In 2002 the fact of torture was unknown, that in itself is new information, not now but since then when it was secret. Information that the majority of detainees were in fact quite innocent or not prosecutable has been dribbling out over the last couple years after the previous Administration aggressively lied about it and their intentions to try them. Facts about the lying and deceits at Guantanamo are pretty recent. There are some heroes in this play and I don’t argue that Holder was one of them. Arguing that he has no standing as someone with newly minted powers to make change because he didn’t when he had no power to do so is an odd argument, politically speaking. Along with the change in D/R came a change in the power to do something about evidence that emerged post 2002. That’s not climate, that is power – a different thing.

To make your argument regarding Holder you need to lose the 2002 date to keep it even slightly credible or you’re asserting Holder had knowledge of secrets and lying. If you know such a thing there are a lot of heads that need lopping beyond Yoo and fellow cretins. Lawyers with knowledge of criminal activity are required as officers of the court to disclose it to the relevant authority. Under US law and court precedent torture is illegal, period, and waterboarding was prosecuted as a crime and convictions obtained; despite Yoo, et al opinions.

I never mistake the law for morality or conversely. If Holder does, I don’t want him as AG. It may be wishful thinking for the law and sense to have something in common, but morality simply isn’t part of that equation. I believe anyone with knowledge of torture had a moral imperative to oppose it, legally only some meet that imperative as a legal question. But my morality is my own. I can’t question or applaud Holder’s morality because I don’t know what his choices were or knowledge was. If you can show something this would be a good time.
I'm afraid you're just flat-out wrong, and this may explain why you disagreed with me so strongly.

1. You're wrong that the habeas corpus debate happened "well after 2002." This is important. The U.S. began taking prisoners to GITMO in January 2002. The first habeas corpus petition for Guantanamo detainees was filed on January 20, 2002 in a federal court in California. Then one was filed on February 19, 2002, by those heroes at the Center for Constitutional Rights. (It wasn't until June 2008 that the Supreme Court ruled, in Boumediene vs. Bush, that the detainees had that right -- but lawyers began trying to file habeas petitions just as soon as people began arriving at Guantanamo in January. And the Bush administration made it really hard -- like, they wouldn't even give the lawyers the detainees' names or permit access to them! You think it was an accident that these detainees were being held at the Gitmo naval base, which is not on U.S. territory? That was one of the main reasons the prisoners were being kept there! So let's not pretend that no one was thinking about habeas in 2002. In May 2002 the debate became public in the U.S. And Holder? . . . He said that we had the right to detain them indefinitely!

2. You're wrong if you think the Geneva conventions don't apply to non-uniformed combatants. There are 4 Geneva Conventions. Geneva 4 covers everyone denied POW status even if they participate in hostilities. And Common Article 3 -- which appears in all four Geneva Conventions -- says everyone you're holding in an international conflict is entitled to the basic standards of humane treatment. The Bushies said NONE of Geneva Conventions applied. And Eric Holder didn't disagree. He said nothing about Common Article 3 or Geneva 4.

3. Holder knew nothing about planned torture in 2002, I have no doubt. BUT . . . in January 2002 he said we had the right to detain them indefinitely -- look it up. That doesn't accord with habeas corpus, right? And he said we needed to be able to interrogate them. So any legal authority who, in 2002, failed to argue for any of the Geneva Conventions was basically enabling those who wanted to torture. Sorry -- here's where you and I fundamentally disagree. If you think it's good enough to take a stand on a breach of law after the abuses have been going on for six years, you lose me. You give people legal protections because international law requires it -- and so do our standards of humane treatment. That's how you keep the torturers out of business. Eric Holder didn't have the moral courage to take a stand on this in 2002. And frankly I hold that against them. And I'm sorry that you (and the hypocrites on the left) forgive him for this. I think you're seriously mistaken.

1) You are quite right about Common Article 3 and I never disputed that.

2) I know how hard BushCo made things, that is at least part of what I’ll give to Holder, the part where they lied and dissembled. Once BushCo created the criminal status versus military/POW status for detainees I cannot see how Habeas could be denied by any lawyer. Despite being wrong, holding people indefinitely and torturing them are two different things. If Holder stated that they were subject to indefinite detention once criminal status was defined, he was wrong, that I do not know. You said Holder stated they were due humane treatment – Article 3.

3) No, I don’t believe the Geneva Conventions keep the torturers out of business. US law, precedence, and history keeps them out of business or is supposed to, when it doesn’t going to jail will. (we are signatories for OUR reasons) I do not forgive Holder a thing; I understand a lack of power to address something and having the power to address it. I generally don’t have much power, just a voice that gets some respect from some with power. I have to get along with a lot of people who lost their minds after 9/11 and took awhile to get them back. The fact that I did not lose my mind may make me a bit better judge of events but I haven’t noticed that being right has done most any good at all.

4) You are making Holder’s inaction on Habeas a factor in his standing to prosecute torture. While Holder is no hero to me (and I’ve never presented him any such light) and he was apparently stupidly wrong on detention that says not a thing about the correctness of the DOJ going after torture under his direction.

5) Let’s focus on things like Treaties for a second. Due to our power we do not sign treaties because they are imposed on us; we sign them to gain our ends. In the case of torture (and the Geneva Conventions in general) we signed them to ensure others obeyed were subject to punishment. It is symptomatic of that power that people like BushCo decided those rules don’t apply to us. I have been extremely unhappy with the Obama Administration’s adherence to some of BushCo policies. The archives are clear on that and so was my reaction to any back pedaling promotion by anyone, you got hit this time.

6) Here we hit the part you don’t like in particular, I don’t see how torture can be a conservative/liberal argument, but the Republicans have made it such. It is their party theme so I will hold them to it and anyone who aligns with them in argument advances their agenda. If President Obama makes such an argument I will label it as right wing torture apology. It is their dog and its fleas belong to them and if they get on you, you’ve got their fleas and need fumigated. They want this to just go away and justify it in the same breath – they really badly want Obama’s “no more” to be the end of it. (until they do it again)

7) While I may be on the left I do not trust anyone with power, I trust to keeping them in check.
This was terminated by mutual agreement, though it did not cover all issues, it also was getting long and interfering with Joe's book.

Thanks for coming out to play and for being a gentleman about it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Upcoming, The Joe Finder Debate

Joe Finder didn't like what I had to say in regard to his article and offered, both here and in an email, to debate it so I offered up a methodology he agrees with. I have noted to Joe that considering the impact of this blog and its general distribution his time at this is worth more than mine but he seems to want to have this out in blog public.

I'll make every effort to skin him, but I'll do it fairly because that's the only way it counts. I give him this opportunity because he's not in the loon category and that makes his argument both worth engaging and dangerous. The comments section is your space and I leave it be short of atrocious behavior, this is my space and I offer it or engage within it at my discretion for my reasons, Joe meets my reasons - don't expect it just because it has happened this time.

I'd like to say this about my philosophy of blogging, while I try to avoid the necessity when I screw up I apologize and that anyone I directly attack should have access to rebut in comments and if they desire the opportunity to get chewed up on the main page they can ask for it. Yes, I'd have to be convinced that I should because I have no time for loons and arguing with them is a waste of breath and bytes.

We're going to do this by email and it will be posted here. There may be some conversion issues I have to deal with that require editing but the words won't be messed with. Email addresses and other such headers or closings (Regards, Chuck) will be deleted. Whether this turns into a string of emails or not is up to the participants equally and private conversation isn't included.

I will tell you that I'm willing to like Joe (wrong as he may be) because he has the desire to defend his article here in public regardless of its small effect on his reputation by doing it here. Most of my targets ignore it or are ignorant of it so that says something about him. I don't see this as a partisan argument other than that the Confederate Party of Republicanism wants it to be and that isn't Joe's approach - that's an element of private disclosure that Joe won't mind. The ground rules are simple: you get it all and we'll be civil.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

NYT OpEd Descent Into WSJ Land - Update, Noted Author Disagrees

Updated Below

Thriller writer Joseph Finder pens another example of the NYT attempting to match the Op-Ed stupidity level of the WSJ. Finder is distressed that the DOJ doesn't like torture.

EARLY in 2002, Eric Holder, then a former deputy attorney general, said on CNN that the detainees being held at Guantánamo Bay were “not, in fact, people entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention,” particularly “given the way in which they have conducted themselves.”

Six years later, declaring that “Guantánamo Bay is an international embarrassment,” Mr. Holder said, “I never thought I would see the day when ... the Supreme Court would have to order the president of the United States to treat detainees in accordance with the Geneva Convention.”

So what changed?

A lot of things, of course, but most of all, our national political climate...

What changed? Well, now what changed other than the (D)/(R) in power? The opening theme of this piece of ... hackery tells you just exactly how this writer is going to operate. You asked, Hack,(I don't know that he sells his authorial soul, so an apology) so I'll give the actual answer, Available Information is what changed. In "early 2002" torture programs were unknown, lies about the make up of the detainees were flowing from the (R) BushCo - worst devils of all Satan's devils, rather than most were innocent of any such thing, Saddam was going to treat us to mushroom clouds and poisons were everywhere in Iraq, Cheney, et al, were lying their asses off about Saddam flying the planes into WTC... Finder were you both deaf and blind? Or is this just an example of you right wing torture apologists trying to re-write history on the assumption that we all are deaf, blind, and STUPID?

It isn't as though the NYT editorial board had to exactly dig through this piece of crap to get to the problems with it - I have cut nothing from the opening. It seems that the ability to type makes all points equal - he said, she said news/opinion.

He goes on to talk about the BushCo DOJ review in 2005 and gives us this:
Mr. Holder’s decision, then, implies that justice wasn’t done five years ago probably because high-level officials in the George W. Bush administration put their thumbs on the scale of justice. This seems unlikely.

"Seems unlikely? Because he's a true believer in BushCo? WTF, Over? In the face of the uproar over the BushCo politicization of the DOJ he proposes that that it seems unlikely? Damn, it seems unlikely that the moon isn't composed of green cheese - see, I typed it so it has validity. The Earth was created 6,000 years ago, some people believe that so it must be worthy of consideration...

Lacking reliable witnesses or forensic evidence, they made the only call they could have made: not to prosecute. In our nation of laws, that’s exactly the way you want government prosecutors to behave.

No, it is not. In the face of further information I want them to get to the damn bottom. Reliable witnesses excludes anyone who didn't conform to the expected and desired conclusions is apparently his measure. Asking the participants under oath and threat of imprisonment for perjury is an exercise in finding the truth, not a political cover story.
The prosecutors in this case had to abide by the Justice Department’s ruling, in August 2002, that no agency interrogator would face prosecution for exceeding the guidelines as long as he acted in “good faith” and didn’t have “the specific intent to inflict severe pain or suffering.” Not an easy distinction to make, surely, when the work you’re told to do seems to be designed precisely to inflict pain and suffering.

Nuremberg. How ignorant does one have to be to miss this? Anything else I might write is just pointless piling on.
Now imagine that you’re a C.I.A. interrogator in some dank “black site” prison, facing a terrorist you honestly believe had something to do with the attack that killed 3,000 of your fellow Americans and might very well know about the next one. You’re under extreme pressure to extract information from the guy.

And the guidance you’ve been given from Washington is maddeningly illogical. “Walling” (slamming a prisoner into a wall) is legal, but not revving a power drill near his head. “Cramped confinement” — locking someone in a dark box for 18 hours a day — or depriving him of sleep for 180 hours is O.K., but firing a gun in the next room is not. Waterboarding a prisoner is legal, but blowing cigar smoke in his face may be a crime.

This was the murky world in which these interrogators operated. No jury in America would have convicted them at the time they were being investigated. Not even close.

The world and our lives are a very murky place, we frequently face decisions that don't have a clear legal statement and yet we persevere. We also find that juries are extremely reluctant to ignore LAW. There are some very infrequent cases of juries ruling in the face of the law, yes, there are and they are so rare as to cause a complete uproar in the media. It is not politics to expect an adherence to over 200 years of US policy and ideals in regard to torture, there may be a philosophical or idealistic element to that but it is not a matter of the (X) after a candidate's name. If it becomes such a matter, then something is very wrong with the (X) Party that thinks such a thing is disposable and they need to be held accountable, not apologized for or justified.
The employees and contractors in question — having been assured by their employer that they would no longer be facing prosecution — presumably accepted the administrative sanctions, relying on the Justice Department decision to end the criminal inquiry.

For the government now to turn around and prosecute them without any significant new facts coming to light would be, legal experts tell me, a violation of the principle of estoppel.

It was pretty clear that the Nazis had no reason to fear prosecution, they did after all have government sanction... "Estoppel" is a nice sounding word, all legal and fancy and thus persuasive - assuming you ignore history and legal actions taken in front of the entire world.
The process that Mr. Holder has unleashed threatens to undermine one of the basic principles of our government. For a new administration to repudiate a consequential legal decision in an individual case made by the previous administration serves to delegitimize our government itself, which is, after, all premised upon institutional continuity.

Two proper nouns: Germany, Japan.
Whatever Mr. Holder’s motive for reopening these cases — whether a well-intentioned desire to provide the American people with the “reckoning” for the “abusive and unlawful practices in the ‘war on terror’ ” that he demanded last year, or a more cynical political calculation — the consequences will be grievous.

It would be grievous to stop doing whatever it takes to get people to talk? Finder writes fiction novels and just to keep him up to speed, 24 is also fiction. Over two hundred years of US history in this regard is not fiction and the world's regard for us in this matter is also not fiction - unlike this piece of hackery.

For many years the NYT was considered the paper of record for the US. That started to fall apart in the face of their fellating the BushCo following 9/11 and their 'reporters' making up stories out of whole cloth and the slow drip drip of right wing accusations of liberal bias, but this policy of printing any damn thing as an OpEd is scarcely a route back. The WSJ had a reputation for OpEd wankery and it seems the NYT believes the WSJ was onto something. It might pay them to realize that Rupert was able to pick up the WSJ cheap for a reason.

Joe Finder said...
Chuck -- If you want to debate facts, I'm fine with that. I'd welcome it. But if you call me a right-wing torture apologist, you'll have to explain why you think I'm pro-torture or right-wing, just because I'm making a contrarian argument you don't agree with, and maybe you can pull up something I've written to support that. Otherwise, you're left with debating me on facts, and I'm happy to do that. If you have the balls. And if you're willing to do it in a sane and rational and civil way -- I'm there.

9/10/2009 04:57:00 PM

Chuck Butcher said...
I take it you disagree with something I wrote? What exactly? You wrote what you wrote, not me. Yes, you're backing up torturers, and you can stuff that in whatever pipe it is you're smoking. Civility? Pal, there's nothing civil about your arguments, tone to the side and the tone is not civil either. I'm a bit more blunt than you, so? You stated your "facts" in your OpEd and I called it cherry picking BS and you know it was.

You presented nothing more than opinions, you have no knowledge and assert no knowledge of the inner workings of the DOJ, just your opinion of the correctness of the finding. You make no historical linking of prosecuted behaviors or judicial findings in the regard of torture and its components. You don't because historical facts will kick you to pieces.

You're an apologist for the CIA and their behavior as somehow off-limits because ... you don't like it. You propose unproven and unknowable results of legal action as fact. Here is a fact, those jailed cannot repeat that action of torture, the rest is arrant speculation on your part.

You propose a climate of fear inside intelligence, I will repeat the BushCo assertion, having done nothing wrong you have nothing to fear. It doesn't play in this scenario? It applies to the citizenry but not government employees? Run that by me again. I'm supposed to be reassured and think this is what I want in a government in the face of what?

If Holder starts at the bottom of the food chain and works his way up to the top I'd be pleased because that would be right and it would fit the definition of justice, you propose turning a blind eye to crimes that have cost others their lives within our own system of justice, they were Japanese, true, but then that means what? American exceptionalism?

You want to take on a no name no nothing $0.02 Blogger, be my guest. I've got the balls to go head to head with anyone, including you.

I've poked hard enough and accurately enough to get the attention of addresses like HouseInfoSys, SenSgtArms, and various .mil, .gov-VA, and some rather mysterious ones that take little guessing to figure out. I don't get in trouble because I don't get it wrong and I don't say things that cross the line of reasonable.

Since you seem to Google yourself - I'm much to small potatoes for you to notice otherwise - I'm reposting this as an update. Your comment came in while I was away and I just caught it.

I'll offer you this, you email me what you want and I'll post it fully and attributed properly and I'll take on what ever you care to present. The address is on the side bar spelled out. BTW, I never called you names, though I called the piece stupid and hackery. Yes, I took great pleasure in demonstrating it...

Let's be clear on something, I make this offer to Joe Finder because I wrote about his work specifially. Just because the general reader doesn't like something doesn't mean they get space other than the comments section.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Dogwhistles? Hell, Bullhorns

H/t John Cole @ Balloon Juice. (BJ comments are raucous - you been warned)

Rep Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) Michelle and President Obama, "Uppity"

Sen Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) "I think he's gonna have to express some humility based on what we've seen around the country this August and that's not his inclination."

I admit to being a Yankee, by birth, by residence, by family history, and by inclination but the Confederate Party of Republicanism (formerly GOP - Lincoln???) better find a tad bit more subtlety in its dogwhistling if I get it loud and clear. You'd think by their hysteria that Old White Men don't still run the show in this country - except maybe Presidential elections. Did anybody notice the sex and complexion of the bailed-out Investment Banking CEOs, the HealthInc CEOs, the no-bid Federal Contractor CEOs, the Senate, the House, all the Presidents minus the current one, all the VPs, the SCOTUS, the Fortune500, DOW, and take your damn choice of power centers.

I'm a middle-aged white guy (well, not so much thanks to sunshine) and I can see who runs things. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind being male and white and even middle age doesn't bother me, but sometimes my fellows in gender and race make me very nearly ill. There's nothing particularly special about having an outie sexual organ or being melanin challenged (sure, I get a tan on a cloudy day) and there's nothing particularly special about being of a different race and sex but there is something to be said for power being somewhat representative of the distribution of the populace. Actually there's a lot to be said about it not being reflective of the populace - something rather nasty.

There is something really very nasty to be said about those who are in a panic that there is some incremental change happening in that arena. Chambliss proved what kind of cretin he is when he ran against Max Cleland and they're just making it real plain now. If it were just these two, representing as they do the Senate and House arm of the Party Of No To The N****r but there are the 28% BushCo booster loons, birthers, and teabaggers. I wouldn't waste my spit on these two's boots, but I will spend words trying to make real clear that I find them offensive and a waste of oxygen.

A young person quite close to me insisted that racism was nearly dead in the US, I'm afraid I actually laughed out loud. Obviously it sure ain't dying of asphyxiation. Too bad.

The Republic Under Assault

First it was GW Bush bailing out the bankers, John Sydney McCain had to suspend his campaign and dash to DC to help out ... er ... be there. Plutocracy was skidding into a ditch, well, not really - just a little zig once the BushCo stepped up. Then the unthinkable, the black guy - a Democrat - won against an old white guy POW. The sun stopped in the sky, birds fell like stones, and a plague of hope - iness befell the land. As Recession stalked the land, the Negro and his fellow traveler Democrats passed a Stimulus Bill throwing money at America instead of at blowing up brown people someplace else, at falling down bridges, broken roads, well you know - fixing things. (kinda like that Commie Eisenhower aping the Nazi Autobahn) It didn't stop there, failing American auto companies threatened to drag a huge section of the economy into the toilet so the Govt. stepped in - socialism taking actual root. Teabaggers are mocked, birthers ignored in Courts, and wonders of wonders - the ultimate in fascistic socialism - health care rears its head. Feds between you and your doc, death panels offing your Granny and disabled ex-Governor baby, and worse yet - discriminating against members of the Confederate Party of Republicanism.

The Liberal Media Plot has finally born fruit, CPoR (formerly GOP) reduced to a meaningless minority in the House and deprived by numbers of its Fillibuster power in the Senate. Deposed of their power in Congress and the White House Republicans are reduced to out-appearing Democrats in Mass Media by 2-4:1 unchallenged on any points they care to make - allowed to make asses of themselves by the wily lefty press. That Kenyan pretenderPresident thinks he can have access to the innocents in school to fill their heads with ... well, stuff. There are Czars in the Administration, unvetted by Congress and unblocked by CPoR - Russian sounding, Commies probably to take such a name. Instead of Free Speach Zones to corral Libruls the Right is now forced to scream and shout and carry guns and Nazi signs to Congressional and Presidential events - the death of liberty cannot be far away.

The signposts are clear, rather than quietly and illegally spy on Americans the Black guy asks for the damning emails and posts about his programs. Instead of fixing the economy with tinkle down tax breaks for the rich the Socialist leaves it in the ditch to further his goal of Federal take over of business. In fact he proposes to raise the taxes of the rich job providers to rates quite a bit lower than St Ronnie's levels undoing all GWB's good work. The elite black snob racist refuses to respond to the Southern dog whistles proving his hatred of the white race and all things truly American. He interferes in things not his business like the arrest of a black Harvard professor in his own home by calling it stupid police work when he could be calling Congress into session to act for some poor brain dead white woman screwed into dying by State Law and State Courts.

The Republic is under assault and failing. It is time for all true Americans to rally to Michelle Bachman and Rushboe and stamp their feet and throw themselves on the floor squealing. A REAL American would.

*A note on the Minute Man, these dumbasses have no clue that they'd have been Tories not Revolutionaries...

Back To School Socialist Indoctrination

Let's do a little historical revisionism, John POW McCain wins the 2008 election. After seven months of duelling with Democratic majorities President POW decides to give the kiddies starting the school year a morale boost to encourage them to do well in school. As Pres. John gets ready to give his little talk, do you suppose somebody will make an issue of the indoctrination of the youth with the plutocratic fascistic murderously militaristic agenda of the POW Prez? Bomb, bomb, bomb...bomb Iran, jingle lingle ingaling...

Why certainly not. The Republicans and particularly the right loons are the REAL Americans. They represent real values, American values, values we all believe in. Bomb the hell out of brown people who speak funny non-English languages, continue ad infinitum the American history of being the most warlike nation on Earth. Continue the agenda of increasing the disparity of wealth in the US, to the extent of surpassing even the most despotic corrupt nations. See to it that HealthInc and Investment Bankers run the American economy, even farther into the ditch. Teach the kiddies to rape the nation...

Oh horse pucks. Telling the kids that their future isn't fore-ordained, that it is to a great extent in their hands isn't indoctrination, it is somewhat la-la land, but scarcely subversion of youth. Presidents have an obligation to encourage our youth, they will have to carry on after us.

If this were not a Democrat, particularly a BLACK Democrat the chances this level of stupidity would only happen behind closed doors is real. It isn't behind closed doors, the disrespect for the office by the authoritarian minded Republican zoo critters is unprecedented. Presidents pay attention to the youth of America, anybody remember W's deer in the headlights moment while reading to the kiddies on 9/11? It was a news event before the planes hit because Presidents do talk to the kiddies. The people who objected to the supposed disrespect of phrases like BushCo, unnecessary war, manufactured intelligence, etc. find President Obama some kind of communistic pretender engaging in mind alteration of the youth.

It was claimed by some on the left that BushCo killed irony, nope, the murder goes on. Ballbats couldn't penetrate this bunch - and so...

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Painting The HealthInc Whorehouse

SF Gate got this somewhere:
"Can you believe these congresspersons with lifetime free medical benefits saying how the rest of Americans don't need guaranteed health care?" asks Janice Hough. "Sort of like guys on their second and third wives voting against gay marriage."

Congress is working up to throwing a paint job on the whorehouse known as HealthInc and calling it the Reform House while all us get screwed. Why do I get the distinct feeling that Congress, er, the Senate is a wholly owned subsidiary of investment banking and HealthInc? You wonder why I bother to toss the investment banks in here, maybe gratuitously? Where do you think those premium payments get put, surely not paying claims?

I had a conversation with a friend (I'd rather credit him, but he'd rather not) of mine this evening, and he put into words something that's been knocking around in my head without jelling into coherence. Back in the primary campaign something that was bruited about was that Hillary's great strength was her ability to work the backrooms and that Obama's was his ability to work the crowd. One has to wonder why the strategy on HealthInc isn't concentrating on Obama's long suit? All the moves so far are the wheeling and dealing and processes of Congress - as though the recalcitrant pols will do anything at all before the public steamrolls them. If the President takes this thing seriously it would seem that the American public would be his target audience, not Blue Dogs, not the Confederate Party of Republicanism.

At times I, and people like me, have been of political use to the Democratic Party and I'm a bit confused as to why we have bothered to be of use. I was under the impression that the Confederate Party of Republicanism LOST in a big way in '06 & '08. Is it some airy fairy idealism to think that means something? Comments?