Monthly Archives: March 2007

You Can Always Leave March 31, 2007

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Everybody has Angle, Nobody has a Plan

The only thing that’s for sure is the occupation of Iraq is going to end as haphazardly as it began, and the same 85 percent that rah rahhed us in will shrug their shoulders and walk away from it as soon as they can too. I don’t think it will matter who is President and who is in charge of Congress either.

But there are national security implications that transcend the domestic political bullshit that poses as acumen, and I doubt seriously that the media is going to rise above it.

There is a disquiet in the country today that no one can put a finger on, and it springs from a sense that things have gotten so out of hand that they are beyond the ability of the governments to address the problems that they have created. It is an instability induced from the top down, and it was and is a symptom of the unbridled lust for power of the few. As I noted in my previous post we have lost the continuity of historical memory in regard to religion, and we are now facing the same prospect in a political context with our own government.

Part of it stems from a rigidity of policy, that of unbridled self interests, which is the inherent strength and weakness of the American character writ large and small in institutions and individual pursuits. It is the very thing that bin Laden is and has been exploiting. In many respects it is our own inability to to see the differences between what we want and what we need. We are slaves to our own desires, and tools of those who promise the fulfillment of those desires, whether they come from our political, or religious leaders.

These elites have to some extent obtained to their own desires, but they are unable to translate it into policy for their followers because it is counter intuitive to the personal and institutional biases that got them to the top of their professions in the first place.

That it is the story with our economic institutions should go without saying. Generally, as a people we are illiterate in these things too.

So there is no post occupation plan because there is no clearly defined self interests for there to be one, even though it will have an adverse effect on all three of the above.

Blogomatic for Jesus

Fixes the trim on any broken vehicle.

I’ve been reading “Religious Literacy”‘What Every American Needs To Know – And Doesn’t’, by Stephen Prothero, which was recommended to me by a late night rerun whom I won’t mention because he can be snarky if he chooses to be, but I digress, and it really is amazing what we don’t know anymore, not only about our own religion, but other peoples.

I don’t know how a majority of people in America could even understand what the Chocolate Jesus sculpture was saying, but it travel’s on so many levels as to boggle the mind. If you don’t like it it ought to be for what it says about our culture, not the Lord.

At any rate most Christians will be happy to learn that whatever denomination you belong to, you are as ignorant about Christianity and the Bible as any others, including the fundies and evangelicals, and not much better than American atheists. If it some consolation, most of you can’t tell why your denomination is distinct from the others either and that Europeans are much more Bible literate than Americans, and less apt to attend church.

The above ought to make you feel better about not knowing the basics of of other religions including those of the Book, and those of the other Books, but how we intend to build a better world without knowing the basic world view of other people is beyond me, especially if we don’t even understand where ours comes from.

It really is no wonder religion is a political issue. Without some of the basic knowledge in the aforementioned book it is impossible to have educated opinions and discussions about Church and State issues, so the Enlightenment obviously has as many backsliders as the churches do. So much for “Ignorance is Bliss.”

Someone is going to make a million if they ever figure out how to use the mediums people use, to educate them as they use them. One day all the electronic mediums will all be tied together in an series of interconnect tubes that we can use to slingshot our asses into oblivion while quoting Forest Gump.

I’ll be changing the title so I don’t get sued by Grand Funk Railroad, so don’t be shocked by that. I’ll also be thinning out the feeds too, but I want them to grow for two or three days like it says on the package.

Riffing On March 29, 2007

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Hillary, Dillary Slock

DLC to the max, Hillary has a Republican pollster, which I suppose is meant to demonstrate to the masses that she has an open mind, instead of a hole as the base is apt to note.

By Neil the Ethical Werewolf

When I first started looking at the activities of Burson Marsteller, the PR firm run by top Hillary Clinton adviser Mark Penn, I found a lot to dislike. Ezra has already mentioned the firm’s union-busting services. Other unsavory clients include Philip Morris and Dow Chemical (for whom BM tried to shut down criticism of the Bhopal chemical disaster). But these events happened before Penn became CEO, so maybe it’s not fair to tar him with their nicotine- and methyl isocyanate-tinged brush.

But here’s some more recent information on Burson Marsteller: Even in the 2005-2006 election cycle, Mark Penn’s company gave 57% of its campaign contributions to Republicans, and only 43% to Democrats. (You can see the list of recipients here.) Why is Hillary Clinton’s top pollster running a PR firm that donates mostly to Republicans?

Does anyone really wonder why Hillary fears the left? She practically Swiftboats herself. Bill’s handwritten letters to the President of the AJC, excoriating Jimmy Carter, is also bound to go over with a thud, but it does bring in the bucks. I’m somewhat familiar with this controversy, although I haven’t read Carter’s book, nor am I quite sure that now is a time to be discussing that particular issue given the security situation in that country. I would note also that the press didn’t touch on this issue either, which goes to show how fearless at being lame they really are.

America may be ready for a woman President, but the real question is “can we afford this one?”

Tax Gutting the Public

Income Gap Is Widening, Data Shows

Income inequality grew significantly in 2005, with the top 1 percent of Americans — those with incomes that year of more than $348,000 — receiving their largest share of national income since 1928, analysis of newly released tax data shows.

The top 10 percent, roughly those earning more than $100,000, also reached a level of income share not seen since before the Depression.

While total reported income in the United States increased almost 9 percent in 2005, the most recent year for which such data is available, average incomes for those in the bottom 90 percent dipped slightly compared with the year before, dropping $172, or 0.6 percent.

The gains went largely to the top 1 percent, whose incomes rose to an average of more than $1.1 million each, an increase of more than $139,000, or about 14 percent.

The new data also shows that the top 300,000 Americans collectively enjoyed almost as much income as the bottom 150 million Americans. Per person, the top group received 440 times as much as the average person in the bottom half earned, nearly doubling the gap from 1980.

If this looks a lot like John Cole’s post on this topic it is because that’s where I found it. The Proffs do some further analysis in the article which may or may not soften the impact for you, but that wasn’t John’s point in his post either, as he is looking at the subsidiary impact of this perception being held by voters at large, who can’t quite put their finger on this, but know intuitively that they are getting screwed.

One would note that this is reported in the New York Times, which while widely available on internet and in New York City, is absent from the major Cable channels which actually reach the people getting screwed by the policies in place. War on the Middle Class, huh?

Of course I would be remiss if I didn’t note that this was pretty much ignored by the left blogosphere as well, and given that some of them are wont to remind us of their Proffessorshipness in economics, makes one wonder if the principle of being Democratic isn’t actually more important than being a Democrat.

Sheesh and Sighs

Sheesh and sighs is going to be a regular feature of links to bits and pieces of the news that don’t have the flash bang the MSM likes, likes fires and car wrecks.

1. Think Again: Just One DOJ Scandal? Does the MSM have BAADD? Eric Altermans article,

Here’s one I’ll bet you’ve never even heard of: In 2005, The New York Times’ Eric Lichtblau broke the story of Department of Justice political appointee Associate Attorney General Robert D. McCallum’s intervention in a long-running tobacco case.

McCullum sought to reduce the fraud and racketeering penalties leveled against the tobacco industry from $130 billion to $10 billion. Mr. McCallum, No.3 at the department, is a close friend of President Bush from their days as Skull & Bones members at Yale, and he was also a partner at Alston & Bird, an Atlanta law firm that has done legal work for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, part of Reynolds American, a defendant in the case. Despite complaints from Congressional Democrats and journalists, an internal Department of Justice investigation found McCullum innocent of any wrongdoing or political motivation.

Keep reading, it gets worser and worser.

5:32 This I just picked up from Atrios’

James Carville is identified as a CNN Political Analyst, and here he is spreading conventional wisdom about Obama that is worthy of the Politico.

That’s fine, since that seems to be what political analysts on the TeeVee
do. Carville blathers about how Obama is thin on the issues, isn’t
performing well as of late, etc.

What CNN doesn’t mention is that Carville is also sending out
fundraising solicitations for Hillary Clinton’s campaign for President and is an
advisor for her campaign.

Bair and Falanced

http://riffingon.blogspot.com/2007/03/pure-bs-national-cattlemans-association.html

(March 28, 2007) — This is how far he, and his argument for continuing the slaughter in Iraq, have fallen: President Bush today was reduced to quoting two anonymous bloggers from Baghdad.

He cited them as evidence that his surge/escalation is working. One problem: their posts were written weeks ago, and re-published in the Wall Street Journal on March 7.

So the bloggers weren’t even talking about current conditions in Baghdad. That left it to Rajiv Chandrasekaran, former Baghdad bureau chief of The Washington Post — and author of the heralded 2006 book “Imperial Life in the Emerald City” — who appeared on MSNBC’s “Countdown” tonight to debunk this idea of a newly-safe Baghdad. “I talk to Iraqis all the time,” he said.

So Sain’t McCain wants to stroll around in Bahgdad while mortars fall on the swimming pool in the Greener Zone. Meanwhile back at the ranchero, Bush is quoting two brothers who blogged up a post

Then he quoted two of the bloggers: “Displaced families are returning home, marketplaces are seeing more activity, stores that were long shuttered are now reopening. We feel safer about moving in the city now. Our people want to see this effort succeed.”

Only hours later did the White House reveal that the bloggers were brothers, Mohammed and Omar Fadhil, and these supposedly little-known average Joes had met Bush in the Oval Office in 2004. They are dentists and write an English-language blog from Baghdad called IraqTheModel.com, also available via Pajamas Media.

Of course one sort of assumes the MSM was aware of these things too, since they have their noses up everyone elses ass, and that begs the question of who or what they are covering up for. Otherwise we may just have to accept the fact that they are as corrupt as the government, and about as credible.

That would be inline with Lou Dobbs reporting on the Border Patrol agents in hot water for none of the things he is upset about, aliens, alien drug smugglers, jury trails convicting officers, but that the witness was an asshole like Lou Dobbs except he was a Mexican and peddling a different dope than CNN. Of course the US Attorney was allowed to speak so that makes it fair, I suppose, that he gets 15 minutes like the families, and Lou gets 30 for propaganda. That’s the friend of the middle class, who obviously doesn’t need enemies.

That’s a shame too, because there are legitimate ways of reporting stories, the audience is basically captive, and the presenter has all the incentive in the world to present a balanced story. Half of what he says makes perfectly good sense, and so the other half, the advocacy half, becomes a poison that one must assume is intentionally being administered to the public to divide them amongst themselves along class lines.

So which are you, indentured servant, or slave? (Take the servant option, eventually they let you have a gun.)

Corruption never had it so good. It’s the wheels within wheels within wheels, just replace wheels with corruption and you have the press, the politics and the corporatists. Nifty little organized crime syndicate all rolled up into legitimate. Makes Alberto look like a piker.

via Antiwar

Ganas, Chutzpah, and Moxie March 26-28, 2007

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Pork In the Supplemental

Well let’s look at the Pork,

On Thursday, the Senate approved (98-1) a $94.5 billion “emergency” supplemental budget. Earlier in the week, the House approved (351-67) the conference report, HR 4939. Congress has approved a “regular” budget with almost $900 billion in discretionary spending. It also included $50 billion in supplemental spending in the recent defense bill.

Spending Details
Most of the money goes to the Pentagon for foreign adventures in the Middle East: $320 billion for Iraq and $90 million for Afghanistan. This brings the total to $320 billion in Iraq and $89 billion in Afghanistan. A reminder: the 9-11 attacks were hatched in Afghanistan.

Domestically, $3.7 billion is headed to Louisiana for flood-control projects; $5.2 billion goes to Gulf states for the repair or redevelopment of homes damaged or destroyed by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Another $2.3 billion targets avian flu and almost $2 billion is pledged to improve security along the US-Mexico border.

According to American Progress, this is the largest single supplemental budget in our history. However, reportedly Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist characterized the conference report as proof that “Congress is cracking down on excessive Washington spending… We’ve made considerable progress toward limiting unnecessary and wasteful spending.” Friday June 16, 2006

Whatever, Mr. President, Whatever.

Blog This Presmediloggers! UPDATED WITH EDITS!

Bloggers != Journalists The ADC on 26 Mar 2007

Mark Evans, who writes all about Nortel, complains in his blog about not being treated as a member of the press for purposes of trade shows and conventions and poses the question as to why this is the case.

Well, Mark, I can tell you why it’s so hard to get media accredidation: because you aren’t a member of the media.

Oh this is going to be good. (If I were in the media I would already be asking the poll question, Is this author a wanker or what? Yes or No, email me at…which fills up more time than the topic with me.) I struck this too, because in the end it is more desirable to have more interaction than less between the media and the audience, and in being snarky with the one I have in mind it is entirely too probable that all others would include themselves as the target of my jab. My Bad.

You probably aren’t aware of the hierarchy out there amidst the media community. Access to information from vendors is based on your status within the hierarchy. The information a member of the press gets from a vendor is different from what’s given to an analyst and is different than what a blogger is going to receive. Bloggers are not journalists and most are certainly not analysts. They can be a channel through which information is disseminated, making them invaluable to the folks in the trenches, true, but they can also be dangerous because they aren’t bound by any rules. And that’s what you’re missing because you’ve not been a member of the press – you don’t “get” the hierarchy and how information is disseminated through the ranks. And guess where bloggers fall? Yup. Stand up straight, there, private!

Oh no, I am not aware that cream and other things float to the top. How udderly unPlatonic of me. So which it is going to be, media or press, and is it analyst or analcyst because we all know what the difference a word can make, but letters carry water too. And is it possible to analyse an analcyst while being an analcyst to analysts. Bloggers want to know, or some of them do sometimes, although mostly they never want to know EVAH. BTW hands off the private, there Padre.

Actually this is a pretty serious look at the situation, with the caveat that a blogger can be anyone including the media from the press or the press from the media, which needs a whole new word like presmediloggers. But what the hell do I know, I’m just a blogger in concern troll band. This was edited because the Big Hynimi has the goods on the Big Kahuna. who actually as a private citoyen is a concern troll, but is an editor in real life. Via dKos.

Initial Inspiration via /. whom have all the news that really matters. Been that way for years too.

Unspoken Facts About The Funding Bills

One of the things I think we tend to overlook about the two bills regarding the Iraqi funding, is that the deadlines imposed only apply to a failure of the current efforts underway by General Petraeus and CentCom.

There is absolutely nothing in either bill that prevents or precludes the President from asking for, or receiving an extension if the conditions warrant.

Politics is not black and white, this or that. It is a process. Only politicians define issues in an either this or that, take it or leave terms. In that regard only the politicians have lost touch with the reality that they themselves have created. The media may play along with that if they wish, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the world has to, or will.

If the strategy for Iraq is going to fail, then April of 2008 is not a date certain, except in that the judgement must be made by that time.

If I can see it, you college kids ought to be able to as well.

An Historical Look at the Future

One of the thoughts that has been rattling around in my mind this morning has been, “dare to fail greatly.” It is the lesser half of a great saying to be sure. In Iraq the President dared to fail greatly and has, and if he is not careful it will define his Presidency for all time. Now, far be it for me to advise the President, he said as he proceeded to do so, but there is some room for him to salvage that legacy if he would quit listening to the people who got into the quagmire he’s in in Iraq.

One of the problems with the Iraqi Invasion has always been the hyperbole of the politicians of Washington DC who are always hoping to be the next great American and always failing to become so for that same reason. It must be the water in DC, which everywhere else in the world causes pregnancies of the biological sort, but in DC causes a mental one.

I am not a big fan of Donald Trump, and I don’t watch his show on TV, gamble in his casinos, or buy condos from him in his high rises, but he did make a good point about Condi Rice not making any deals as Secretary of State in a recent interview. Like most ovservers I attribute that to the hard liners in the VPs office, which is why the President needs to quit listening to them. It is well within the American characture to be tough, but quite outside it to be unyielding.

He has, to blunt, Israel right where he needs them. That nation, while it will always feel beseiged, is somewhat so today, and if the Good Secretary were allowed to find a diplomatic solution for the region, then there could be a framework for peace that works established. But she has to have the authority to do so without being undercut at every turn by the hardliners in the Kremlin, I mean the VPs office.

The President has an historic opportunity to dare to succeed greatly before him, if he will ignore those who have already shown a proclivity to fail greatly. It would also re-establish some of the foriegn policy credibility to the Republican Party that the VP has all but obliterated. Sieze the moment sir, and it will define you for the ages.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Money For Nothin and the Sandbags aint cheap

Building on Palace Grounds and Filling Sand Bags: DynCorp’s Iraq Police Training Program

I am thinking of contracting from the government too. It seems to be a cut and paste job, with a 100% profit margin. I figure if I sell the sandbags in New Orleans I ought to really be able to cut out the security details too. Take that, add sense.

The News: According to agreements represented by sources to me as the real ones, The Sandi Group had even larger markups on smaller police camps all over Iraq built under DynCorp’s $800-million police training contract in Iraq.

The nut graph:

According to the draft agreements, when DynCorp hired Sandi’s Corporate Bank in October 2004 to build a regional camp with 24 living trailers at Ad Diwaniyah, Corporate Bank billed $1,194,197. One month later, Corporate Bank then hired the Hozan General Construction Company of Baghdad for $605,000 to do the work. Similarly, DynCorp agreed to pay $833,680 for a 16-trailer camp at Al Kut. Corporate Bank then hired Hozan for $388,000. In Karbala, DynCorp agreed to pay $809,520. Corporate Bank turned to Hozan for $388,000. In effect, one dollar of reconstruction money became $50 cents….

The contracts between DynCorp and Corporate Bank and Corporate Bank and the “sub-sub-contractors” read almost exactly the same. An administrative assistant sitting at a computer could have easily employed a copy-and-paste approach and just replaced a few words where it says “subcontractor’s name here.”

Id hate to miss out on the gravy train, after all I’m in the gravy train training wheel bidness, doncha know.

The Iraqslogger stories: Marking Up The Reconstruction: Part 1 and Marking Up The Reconstruction: Part 2.

This is via Counter Punch article I was reading about British Petroleum , who having failed in safety up in Houston, now seems to be reinventing the English Language in a hillarious tale of corporate “you can trust us, see the British in front of Petroleum?”, gambit that is easily parlayed into big pounds when run on the rubes in the colonies. (Just watch, they’ll get us to fight their war with Iran for them too.)

Still, the half-billion dollar windfall buys a lot of clout in a public university. Those who insist that BP’s gift will not change the climate of research at UC Berkeley might consider BP’s track record. It does not bode well for this partnership or for free and open inquiry. Here are the words of Greg Palast of BBC Newsnight:

“BP, which owns 46% of the Alaska pipline and is supposed to manage the system, had a habit of hunting down and destroying the careers of those who warn of pipeline problems. In one case, BP’s CEO of Alaskan operations hired a former CIA expert to break into the home of a whistleblower, Chuck Hamel, who had complained of conditions at the pipe’s tanker facility. BP tapped his phone calls with a US congressman and ran a surveillance and smear campaign against him. When caught, a US federal judge said BP’s acts were ‘reminiscent of Nazi Germany’. This was not an isolated case.”

Ha HA HA we’re laughing all the way to the ban…, watch it you don’t step on the poor four eyed frogs chap.

One of the first casualties of the deal is already clear–the English language. The authors of this proposal have already begun a laundering operation, even before the deal is signed. Genetically modified organisms and biotechnology are nowhere to be seen. The brief era of “biotech” is over, it seems; a new age of “synthetic biology” is dawning. Oddly, we find ourselves back in a world of electricians, chemists and masons. Instead of living GMOs we are dealing with “DNA circuits”; instead of genes we find “biobricks”. Plants no longer decompose; in this brave new science they undergo “depolymerization”. These linguistic constructs are presumably an attempt to obscure the fact that the core of the BP project for growing fuel instead of food remains the global proliferation of new, reproducing, lifeforms that contain genes transfected from distant species, with very poorly understood results.

Oh those silly rubes!

A Note to Tony

I have tried to come up with something along the lines of the “Same Six Marriage…” thing to cheer you up as you go from one phase of you treatment to another. You can name it EZSmirkzz Jr., if it will help you kill it.

In my heart of hearts I expect and hope to see you back at work before too long. Someone has to articulate the obfuscations of the White House, and so far you’re one of the best. No one has done a better job of making the WH look like it knows what it’s doing than you.

Just Wondering

If the left blogosphere will be as vigilant in oversight of a Democratic government as it has been with the Republican one, or will they roll over like the rightside of blogistan has for the Bushco?

Obviously the Repubicans got blindsided by the rise of the bloghorn, but that really shouldn’t have any impact on the quality of the blogosphere’s investigative reporting, which is making the mainstream look a little weak on quite a few issues.

Who really hates our freedoms more, religious nutjobs that fly airplanes into buildings, or run of the mill political nutjobs that pass Patriot Acts they never actually read?

Odd, That

For those who may be wondering about it, the adsense thing disappeared for a variety of reasons, the primary one being that like all bidnesses they have Terms of Services which they have in place to protect themselves, I suppose, which to frank some of the terms are counter intuitive to the stated goals of Pyra and the blogosphere, which is freedom of speech. I doubt I would have violated any of them, but I wouldn’t want to count on the subjective enforcement of that TOS as a source of income, to be sure. The topper was wanting to send the “checks” to a physical address, which I obviously have, instead of a PO box, which I actually use, and the PO won’t deliver to both places. They have their reasons and I have mine.

In many ways they wanted to own the blog, if not in fact, then in principle. This is pretty much the agreement I already have with Pyra, which is owned by Google now. Basically I own the words on this blog, and they own all the rest of it. Pyra seems to ignore me pretty much, and if I’m thrashing their servers they haven’t said anything to me about it, so I’m assuming that the readership here is within normal parameters for a free blog. Obviously they have my email account, and so far I haven’t received so much as a request to upgrade to a premium account which would at least let them make a few bucks off of me. Other hosts such as Typepad want fifty bucks a year up front, so for low budgets like me this is the better deal.

In many ways social relationships are social relationships, and so individuals within any organization are going to go outside the rules to help friends, and as Martha Stewart found out it’s OK until you get caught. An individuals individual behavior is not something that I would lay on the entire corporation, or even on the individual as an individual. It is so human to help your friends, or to be blunt, most of us are selective in holding water, ethics and principles.

In last nights post I wanted to look at the universe in a linear fashion, and this morning I am sort of doing the same thing to business models. If something is linear it is capable of being bidirectional, and is only unidirectional because we have assumed and been taught to assume that that is so. That doesn’t necessarily make it so. If everyone who disliked their job quit next Monday there would be an economic collapse, which would make a lie of the top down unidirectional business model of the employer-employee relationship. Obviously the employer doesn’t want the fifty six per cent to organize.

It is pretty much the same model in most human endeavors however. It is top down until the majority says it it is bottom up, but it remains linear in its’ conception and thinking. Given the Cartesian layout from last night one could argue that linear time doesn’t exist either, beyond being an agreed upon construct for getting you to work on time so that the teamwork necessary for the employers goals can have a team. This time is cyclical based on the rotation of the Earth, and not linear such as we measure years by, which are based on the orbit of the Earth around the Sun. Even the light year which measures distance is based on the current rotation or orbit of the earth, while most of us never factor in the differences over time in the rotational speed of the Earth of the varying total distance travelled in its orbit. The light year of today is not the same measure as the light year of 1,2, or 3 billion years ago.

All of this doesn’t mean too much, but it is a break from politics, and in some measure can help explain how Tom Delay’s problems with Ronnie Earle is somehow definitive of liberals and conservatives, or that Glenn Becks problem with 4 antiwar protesters defines 200 million other people, and don’t even get me started on Lou Dobbs.

Monday, March 26, 2007

…but he would not accept the testimony of man,

because he knew what man was.

This is a line from the Bible that absolutely levels the playing field, so it is universally ignored, I think because of the negative connotation of the saying. It is much like the “What have I to do with you?”, question which Jesus asked his mother at Cana, and is a negative also.

One doesn’t have to be religious, or belong to any particular religion to understand Thomas’ Jefferson remark as to the sublimity of the words that are attributed to the man Jesus, because one doesn’t need to be of faith to understand the diversity of levels that so many of the sayings could be applied to, and in many ways we apply them to others as they fit whatever level we can grasp them on, which is rarely on the level of applying them to oneself, as per the title.

It would be as if one were trying to explain the universe as a rather large black hole, because light cannot escape it, without acknowledging that in a black hole everything is falling inward, and relative to ones position within that black hole things would be moving towards you or further away from you given their speed and orbital distance from the singularity in relation to your own. In essence this would be to think of the universe as falling inward and not expanding outward.

In many ways man as an individual falls inward towards himself as he ages, which is not meant to mean that he or she becomes more self centered or selfish, but more intensely aware of their own being and the finiteness of it. It is natural to become more conservative as one ages and wishes to conserve what one has become accustomed to, from friends to buildings and landmarks, which is all falling into itself at a different rate than ones own self.

In this respect I am not talking about political orientation either, so even in this I am using terms that do not connote what you would expect them to, very often anyway, on this blog. I used to do this a lot more, as some of you may recall.

This is in many ways not much different than my thought experiments with the cartesian plane and multiple dimensions as differing axis through the arbitrary zero point from which one would have positive and negative or imaginary or negative imaginary numbers, and so one more axis running 90 degrees from any of the other two is not much harder to draw out than hundred would be. If the zero point were itself expanding, as the universe appears to be, then the lines would be fallng in on themselves, never quite connecting, and presenting the appearance of a steady state that was not consistent with time.

In either case one could draw a lines from given points of equal magnitude and have a geometrical shape that would be consistent whether they were drawn inside or outside of the expanding zero point.

OutsideUp Looking InsideDown March 23-25, 2007

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Although Your Daughter’s Bound Gagged

And they’ve chained her to a chair,

On July 19th, 2005, Pfc. LaVena Johnson was found dead in her tent, a single bullet wound to her left temple (she was right-handed). Her nose was broken. One of her lips was battered so badly that a mortician had to reconstruct it. Two of her front teeth were knocked loose. Her shoulder or elbow was dislocated. A trail of blood led from her tent to outside.

A slam dunk, right? You’d think even an Army sawbones half a step ahead of a civilian malpractice suit and the laziest, most jaded and indifferent Army CID officer would rule this a murder, right?

Instead, the Army initially ruled her death a “non combat-related” one as a result of a self-inflicted wound. Not officially a suicide, but a death due to an SIW. When pressed to reopen the case by a St. Louis television news station and Johnson’s parents, the Army then planted its second boot squarely and firmly in Bizarro World and ruled LaVena Johnson’s death a suicide.

This really needs looking into, I would say. Pretend she’s white.

What Digby says

Partying In The Congress And The Streets

I don’t, or can’t imagine, why anyone is looking for ideological purity from the Democrats who span from Joe Leiberman to Dennis Kucinic. It’s hard enough to land a large fish without tying knots in the line, which is where knowing the art of cooking a small fish comes in. Since they are both honest, I would prefer to keep them both in the fishing party.

Some may prefer the analogy of inertia, but at the moment all I will say, is now is not the time to get our flags crossed up.

This is precisely why the invasion of Iraq is rightly referred to as a quagmire. The death rate for American troops remains at 2.8 per day today, just as it was in January. Like Col Stevens told Hawkeye in MASH, rule one in war is young men die, rule two is there is nothing doctors can do to change rule one. The best time to be antiwar is before it starts, because after that rule one becomes operative and there is nothing antiwar specificts or generalist can do about rule one either.

One day when the preachers preach, and the teachers teach that war is a failure, perhaps we will be less inclined to go slaughtering children, women and men for the greed of the industrialists, of the foolish pride of the nationalists. History can only teach if one will listen. One day we may learn that skill as well. Peace is not a given.

Cheney Says House Doesn’t Support Troops

They’re not supporting the troops. They’re undermining them,” Cheney told a gathering of the Republican Jewish Coalition at the oceanside Ritz-Carlton hotel in Manalapan, Fla., about 60 miles north of Miami.

Deployments: The Real Numbers

Baghdad, March 22, 2007: There will soon be more American soldiers in Iraq than at any point in the war so far. The incoming surge of 21,500 troops is only part of that picture; in addition, the U.S. commander, Gen. David Petraeus, has asked for an additional Army aviation brigade, as well as a couple thousand military police. Other support troops will be coming in to Iraq as well, and they weren’t all included in the original 21,500 estimate announced by President Bush last month. When all this is complete, sometime in July, the grand total of U.S. troops in Iraq will be 173,000, U.S. military officials here confirmed on background, apparently because of the sensitivity of these details. And it’s likely that U.S. troop numbers will stay at that level for months more, perhaps even into 2008.

OH Yeah,

That’s only part of the picture, however; the total number of U.S. troops deployed into the war theater, that is, Iraq and neighboring countries, may be as much as 100,000 more than that. Last August, for instance, the Congressional Research Service, quoting the Department of Defense’s Contingency Tracking System, put the total deployment at 260,000, while the number actually in Iraq was at 140,000 to 160,000. (Other estimates by government-oversight bodies have put the total deployed in the theater at 202,000 to 207,000.)

Yeah, and Monkeys will fly out of his butt soon too.

Via Antiwar

Yes We Have No Bananas

If the poisoning of cats and dogs was inadvertant, and it was, then what are the systemic conditions that allowed it to occur, which would, given the variety of companies and brands involved, point to centralization of the supply, and that being said, how much more open to this sort of thing is happening in the human food supply, and to what degree of difficulty would it be for someone to do it intentionallty?

Would this be more important or less important, say, than minding John and Elizabeth Edward’s, or Tony Snow’s business?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Israeli History for Dummies

For those of you who are interested in the history of Israel, Haaretz has a book review up

“Hahar vehagivah: Ha’universita ha’ivrit beyerushalayim betkufat trom ha’atzma’ut veresheet hamedinah” (“The Mountain and the Hill: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem During the Pre-Independence Period and the Early Years of the State of Israel”) by Uri Cohen, Tel Aviv University & Am Oved, 410 pages

There is the added benefit of seeing the drawbacks of word processers over the old typewriters, in that the last part of the article is also the middle part of the article. This happened in the biography of John Adams a couple years ago too. Something about typewriters? Not really, everything usually was written two or three times then too. I think with word processers you cut or copy and paste so often that you face the danger of copying when you meant to cut.

That’s why bloggers are such a PITA.

If You Don’t Like William Lind, How About Seymor Hersh?

They are both saying in their own inimitable ways, the same thing.

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

One contradictory aspect of the new strategy is that, in Iraq, most of the insurgent violence directed at the American military has come from Sunni forces, and not from Shiites. …

There is a pattern here folks.

(Now I’m in a bind. Given my proclivity to blog, and the importance of keeping these last posts on top.) Go! Read! Learn!

A Kinder, Gentler, Flirting With Disaster

Two points of military theory are important here. First, a higher level dominates a lower. If you win on the tactical level but lose operationally, you lose. If you win on the tactical and operational levels but lose strategically — Germany’s fate in both world wars — you still lose.

If we consider the operational and strategic situations in Iraq, we can easily see why no amount of tactical success can save us. Strategically, we are fighting to support a Shiite regime closely aligned with Iran, our most potent local opponent. Every tactical success merely moves us closer to giving Iran a new ally in the form of a restored Iraqi state under Shiite domination. The more tactical successes we win, the worse our strategic situation gets. This flows not from any tactical failure (though there have been plenty of those), but from botching the strategic level from the outset. Saddam’s Iraq was the main regional counterweight to Iran, which means we should not have attacked it.

via Counter Punch William S. Lind, expressing his own personal opinion, is Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation.

If you read the article you will get some insight into the bogosity of the “date certain allows the enemy to sit back and wait on that date,” argument, because it is an argument of and about tactics.

As we are seeing in Sadr City, the Mahdi Army is laying low without the date certain even defined at this time anyway. What is he going to do differently if one is set, by Congress and/or the President? Think about it. He lives there, he is already laying low. It’s the stategy, man.

Calling BS BS

The Founding Fathers did not want even so much as a standing army, much less a standing war. It was the clear intent of the Constitution that any funding for any military effort be strictly limited in time. The idea that Bush could take the country to war for 4 years and never face any Congressional scrutiny or limits on funding is wholly antithetical to the US constitution.

What Pelosi and the Democrats did is not only constitutionally permitted, it is required. That is why McCain and other opponents of the legislation are attempting to muddy the waters by claiming that it micromanages the war. If it did so, the legislature really would be treading on a prerogative of the president. But the Congress hasn’t said that the military should attack Ramadi on October 8. What it is saying, it has the right and duty to say.

Supreme court ban on liberal party wipes out opposition

to Putin

Russia’s next parliament is likely to have no genuine opposition after a court in Moscow yesterday banned a leading liberal party from standing in elections.
Russia’s supreme court announced that it had liquidated the small Republican party, claiming that it had violated electoral law by having too few members. The party is one of very few left in Russia that criticises President Vladimir Putin.

The move against Russia’s opposition came as pro-democracy activists prepared for the latest in a series of anti-government rallies that have infuriated Russia’s hardline authorities.

“I have looked into his eyes…”

Friday, March 23, 2007

On a Final Note

I thought I ought to say to the Edward’s and Snow families that the thoughts and prayers of me and my family are with you and for you as you undergo your treatments. For myself, I will assure you that it will be a daily one. Hang tough.

The 5% Terrorists In Iraq

One of the biggest drawbacks to getting the public to understand the Iraqi situation is the continuing use of the word terrorists in Iraq.

While it is true they are there according to the Brookings Institute, which is one of the few places that I’ve found even close to being current on current numbers, and yes Virginia, I went to the Mudville Gazette and Threats Watch since I wanted some other analysis, but anyway the Brookings table sets the insurgency numbers between 20 and 30 thousand, and notes the the jihadist are a mixture of Sunni and Shia.

NOTE ON STRENGTH OF INSURGENCY TABLE: International Crisis Group estimates that there are approximately 5,000 to 15,000 insurgents in Iraq. In Their Own Words: Reading the Iraqi Insurgency, International Crisis Group, Middle East Report N. 50, February 15, 2006. The estimated strength of Al Qaida in Iraq is more than 1,000 nationwide, although the exact number is unknown. It is presumed this includes both Iraqis and foreign fighters. Country Reports on Terrorism, United States Department of State, Office for the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, April 2006.

NOTE ON ESTIMATED NUMBER OF FOREIGN FIGHTERS TABLE: “[Foreign fighters] are very few in number, although as far as we can tell, they constitute about 100 percent of the suicide bombers.” DoD News Briefing with Col. Sean MacFarland, Commander of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Stationed in Ramadi, July 14, 2006.

NOTE ON NATIONALITIES OF FOREIGN MILITANTS GRAPH: Two other sources have cited the nationalities of non-Iraqi
Jihadists (one specifying those captured, the other those killed) in Iraq, and the three reports suggest somewhat different trends. Reuven Paz cites Saudi Arabia as contributing the highest number of jihadists killed (94) from November to March, 2005, followed by Syria (16) and Kuwait (11). Reuven Paz,“Arab Volunteers Killed in Iraq: An Analysis,” Global Center for International Affairs Center (GLORIA),
Occasional Papers, Volume 3 (2005), Number 1, March 2005.

What part of the problem is appearing to be is the continuing conflation of terrorists with insurgents. I think at this point the major distinction is in motivation, so to include the 15-30 thousand insurgents with the religious jihadist is to obscure the issue, and one wonders how the Republicans can accuse the Democrats of playing politics with the issue, when such a basic aspect of the problem is a major talking point of the Republicans.

This doesn’t lessen any dangers of any of these forces, but the politicalization of it is and continues to be a major drawback for serious debate. It would be nice to just get the truth from government.

The Art of Deleting a Post or Blog

There is none.

Sometimes they just don’t go where you want them to go, and sometimes they are so easy that you just don’t know what the point would be to leave them up, and some of them just shouldn’t have been posted in the first place.

In some respects I think the blogoshere is becoming self aware at the same time that the “man” is becoming aware of the blogs, and that is a paradigm shift for the blogs. Even Tom Delay has a pseudo blog now. (A pseudo blog is like being pseudonymous, but instead of being someone hiding your id with a pseudo name, you hide your id with the real name of the guy paying you to write it for him.)

I’m not too interested in getting into a golden age of blogging type post here either, there are way to many better qualified bloggers from the golden age to relate those tales to you. All I ever did, and have ever done, I think, for the most part was read them and post a comment or two of encouragement, when they were written for me and other politically active people looking for something beyond the news aspect or pundit aspect of politics that was current in the other mediums.

In this respect I am not sure if I want to take it to another level, while I am sure there are others who already have, and many others who would wish to do so if they could only get it up, he said with tongue in cheek, even to this level.

Myself, I think I just miss when I had to actually listen to some politicians speak. Back before I could figure out what they were going to say, and how they were going to say it. This developement I think stems from the closer interaction of the mediums as the majors responded to the desires of the online community, and a cycle of more speeches and more coverage of speeches started to occur. There is not much hope in me that anyone will discern the line of over exposure, either in politics or the mediums.

I still believe it is a healthey development for democracy because the debate and exchanges we have here are available worldwide whether some of us are aware of it or not, and any pressure we bring on our own political leadership is bound to have an impact of unknown porportions on the leadership of other nations, who are even less inclined and inured to it than those of America. That’s a hell of a shift from 2002, and in that one respect, I miss the old George W. Bush.

The King is Dead, But the Presidency is Rotting

New Developments in the U.S. Attorney Controversy:

Rosenberg places Hamilton in a realistic context, as he knocks down several shaky pillars upon which unitary executive theorists have tried to build: “The framers had no reason to envisage the management of an industrial nation as the essential function of the office [of the president.],” Rosenberg explains. “Whatever managerial insights Hamilton had were confined to commerce, banking, and monetary policy…. Nor did [the framers] conceive of the presidency as an institutionalized representation of popular will distinct from, let alone capable of opposition to, the will expressed by the legislature. Even Hamilton’s most strenuous defenses of executive authority emphasized the president’s role as the managerial agent for the legislature, not his popular independence in reflection of some other popular will.”

Fred Feldings old boss probably knows a thing or two about this stuff too.

At the outset of this column — which discusses Bush’s new White House Counsel, Fred Fielding — I must acknowledge that I am the person who first hired, and brought Fielding into the government. He served as my deputy in the Nixon White House, and was untouched by Watergate, because I shielded all my staff from that unpleasant business. Fred is an able lawyer, and now finds himself in the hot seat, with President Bush seemingly looking for a fight with Congress. (But that’s what makes the job interesting.)

One further disclosure: I have never been an advocate of executive privilege, except as it might relate to the most sensitive national security information. To the contrary, you show me a White House aide who does not want his conversations and advice to the president revealed, and I will show you someone who should not be talking with or advising a president.

That would be John Dean.

via Antiwar.

Edited for clarity on this point. For those of you who are interested in where Unitary Executive Bunkum comes from.

It is also of some importance, IMHO, to note the long term planning and implementations of this theory to end all theories of Co-equal branches of government. If Bush pulls this off, then it will only be until the next “conservative” President comes along before America will have a dictator. Bada Boom bada bing.

Of course all of todays conservatives supporting this theory might be dead then and so they won’t care, or like Iraq, they will be wrong in facts but not in policy, if of course, that policy is given enough time to only work.

So you see Mr. Beck, some of us liberals don’t hate conservatives, we merely despise those who profess to be conservatives, when in fact, there is nothing conservative about them whatsoever. Conservatives used to be like that too.

Sausage Makers Decry Sausage Making Process

Libertarians Demand Ideological Antiwar Purity from Democrats
and other headlines we won’t see.

The fact of the matter as I see it, is that you do what you can when you can, and then you do what you can later on when you can do so later on.

These are the facts that we should not overlook.

1. President Bush is not going to pull the troops out of Iraq, so get over it. It ain’t going to happen on his watch. Period. That is the reality of the situation.

2. The Democrats do not have the votes in the House or the Senate to dictate policy to the President.

3. The Democrats do not have the votes in the House or Senate to dictate policy to the Republicans in the House and Senate.

4. Everyone in the House and one third of those in the Senate are positioning themselves for 2008.

5. Everyone running for President is positioning themselves for 2008.

6. No one on Earth, Absolutely No One, can predict where the Iraqi people will be in 2008, nor what the status of the war will be at that time. Everyone knows that large numbers of people will be killed and maimed every year the war goes on.

7. No one really wants to follow the money.

These things are just the realities of the American political system and the politics that drive the engine. Domestic or foreign. There is nothing hateful, dishonest, underhanded or unethical about it. It is the world you know.

8. It too, is what the flag stands for, like it or not.

9. None of this is on my short list.

10. Some of it is on the long list.

Worse Than Drugs, Wait, It Is a Drug

Alcohol worse than ecstasy on shock new drug list

The scientists, including members of the government’s top advisory committee on drug classification, have produced a rigorous assessment of the social and individual harm caused by 20 substances, and believe this should form the basis of any future ranking.

By their analysis, alcohol and tobacco are rated as more dangerous than cannabis, LSD and ecstasy.

So I took of my hat and said imagine that,

David Nutt, a psychopharmacologist at Bristol University and member of the Advisory Council on Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) which advises ministers on drug policy, added: “What we are trying to say is we should review the penalties in the light of the harms and try to have a more proportionate legal response.

“The point we are making is that all drugs are dangerous, even the ones that people know and love and use regularly like alcohol.”

Oh this will be fun, watching the beams and splinters coming out of the eyes on this one.

Cigarette?

How Teh Blogs Werks- For Senators

This topic is somewhere between eh, and a shrug, so it is full of blogity goodness. It reeks of who carries the water and who cares anyway, because we all drink beer, and being dirty effing hippies don’t take baths anyway, ( at least since the advent of showeres, anyway,) and it’s not Saturday already again?

via Atrios, who has removed the post, having had second thoughts, or insider information, or any other of a half dozen or alf arsed reasons and motivations. But selling out? Do you mock me sir?

OutsideUp Looking InsideDown March 20-22, 2007

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Makes My Feel Bad Feel Bad

for picking on Wolf. Obama’s Pastor Speaks Out

March 11, 2007
Jodi Kantor
The New York Times
9 West 43rd Street
New York,
New York 10036-3959

Dear Jodi:

Thank you for engaging in one of the biggest misrepresentations of the truth I have ever seen in sixty-five years. You sat and shared with me for two hours. You told me you were doing a “Spiritual Biography” of Senator Barack Obama.

via Atrios, this letter just rips the Times.

I wouldn’t necessarily post this up if I hadn’t laid into Mr. Blitzer, I don’t think, because I think we in the rest of the world are a little naive about how the press works sometimes, and why you have to parse the meaning of almost any story, because the choice of words can be pretty subjective, and I am not referring to any story in particular here either. I just think given the choice of writing that, say, “a lost child devoured a sandwich,” and “a lost child ate a sandwich,” the press in general will go for the former.

Somewhere in the mixture of what different words mean and what they convey with that meaning, or more precisely, what a word denotes is its’ denotation, and what that word connotes is its’ connotation, which then it is just as well to say how the word detonates in the readers mind, how does the word mean what it means,( for those of you out there that aren’t English majors, or word smithers and users of high falutin words, and such,) the press will invariable find the one that it figures will sell the most papers.

In writing this blog I am always faced with word choices that more often than not are not adequate because I have certain limitations in vocabulary and time for looking up the precise word that I wish to us. Additional there is the consideration that my audience may include English majors and other high school and JUCO educated people like myself, so between what I want to say, and how I want to say it, I have to deal with the uneven vocabularies of basically really smart people. It doesn’t really matter what size your vocabulary is to me, because I work on the assumption that you are every bit as smart as I am because we are both here after all. (That of course can cut both ways.)

The other drawback to blog writing is that of riffing off of other peoples words, like I did last night on Lou’s “minions,” which may or may not have been taken personally by everyone that interacts with the guy whether they are reporters or interns. So it is easy to make mistakes when writing, and it is easy to be misunderstood, and conversely it is easy to move back and forth between inadvertent and intentional over generalizations on a politically oriented blog. Just because everyone does it, has done it, or will eventually wind up doing it, doesn’t make me feel any better about it when it happens here.

All I can do is try to keep it to a minimum, and being the editor as well as the writer that also has an unevenness that is missing from the professional reporters and editors work, and which makes it more egregious when they do it themselves. If I can figure this out without any formal training, like even English 102, then when I hear it or read it I tend to think it is intentionally done. If I think it is done to fool me into a policy or political position then I tend to get a little bit more POed. I also think that the professional will make mistakes even with all the proofing that goes into their efforts, so I imagine they overlook a lot more of mine than I do theirs, but I’m working on it. (That can cut two ways too, doncha’ know.)

In all of this is the nutshell of why I don’t endorse candidates either. I’m not here to tell anyone who to vote for, what issues to support, or not, or how they should feel about anything, unless it pertains to the Christian faith where I can be pretty preachy in dealing with other Christians about matters of what the Bible says or doesn’t say. Even in all of that, this blog is here for me to say how I feel or think about issues, and the people pushing them, especially if they are leaders. If I can convince you of my position then great, if not then so be it. You have a right to think differently and disagree with me too.

As any good writer will tell you, this where the hook of the whole page comes together but I don’t have one tonight.;-}

So What’s Up With Blitzer?

Wolf just interviewed Tom Delay, and stated that Delay said, (*on page 122 I believe,) “that Dick Armey was blinded by ambition….”

Except that doesn’t comport with what happened on Hardball when the term was “drunk with power…” was used.

This passage from this diary by ryeland is hilarious, describing a scene during a Chris Matthews’ interview of Tom DeLay today:

Matthews grilled DeLay about passages in his book where he apparently ripped into fellow corrupt Texan Dick Armey, eventually asking the Hammer about describing Armey as “drunk with ambition.” DeLay denied writing that. “I wrote that he was ‘blinded by his ambition.'” Matthews starts flipping though the book and finds the “drunk with ambition” quote and reads it to Bug Man. And DeLay keeps denying it. Finally, Chris hands the book to Tom and tells him to read it himself. DeLay looks down, pauses, and says “I don’t have my glasses.”

I still laugh when I read that paragraph, and I’ve re-read it like ten times. I can’t wait for the transcript and video to show up.

So is Blitzer deliberately misleading his audience at the Situation Room? Come on Wolf what is it, are you sandbagging for Tom Delay or sucking up to Patterico?

Righthanded Hooks and Jabs

John Cole links, and covers the US Attorney case from the other side of the aisle. Different rationales sometimes, but the results are the same. The Captains Quarter? Patterico?? No matter what the lawyerly merits actually are, and I am fairly convinced that Josh has it right as rain, the political knifing is serious for the WH.

Is It Just Me

or is Tony Snow starting to sound more and more like Max Headroom?

Update: Apparently a little closer to hitting the traffic control arm than I first thought.

The executive bra bra brannch is under no compulsion to tes tes test tify to Congress ss ss , because Cong Cong Cong ress doesn’t have oversight ability.

via TPMmuckrakers (I di di did modi fy fy it a bitttt)

Sub-Prime Loan Holder Blues

If this is your tune, then the best advice I’ve heard came from CNN’s Geri Willis this morning on the tube. Go refinance your house now. You’ll pay closing costs, and it’ll cost you some money, but you can keep your house, and who knows, maybe even help keep the economy afloat.

Just because you got screwed by a shyster doesn’t mean you ought to screw yourself over it. GO!

(and Thanks)

More likely Perps, but That’s Semantics

A Congress of Peeps: Sestak and Wes Clark are First Tier via Noquarter

Garbage In Garbage Out works here to. ( Yes, I am aware of, “In many ways.” )

Your Government at Werk

Nasa grounds its ideas factory

In almost 20 years of research, it has been the home of some of the most daring ideas to aid exploration: space elevators, crops that could grow on Mars and a shield to protect our planet from global warming. But now Nasa’s Institute for Advanced Concepts (Niac) has fallen victim to a very down-to-earth problem – a lack of money.

This makes sense on so many levels. Pretty soon America won’t even produce ideas anymore.

Hey! I’ll start a video website!

Why You Should Care About the US Attorney Case

Back up a bit from the sparks flying over executive privilege and congressional testimony and you realize that these are textbook cases of the party in power interfering or obstructing the administration of justice for narrowly partisan purposes. It’s a direct attack on the rule of law.

via TPM

Josh is right.

Updated:

Brian Roehrkasse, a spokesman for the Justice Department, said, “The department has provided or made available to Congress all the documents responsive to Congress’s requests over the time period in question.” He added, “To the extent there was a lull in communications concerning the U.S. attorney issues, it reflects the fact that we have found no responsive documents from that time period, which included the Thanksgiving holiday.”

Yeah Right, now where have I heard that before?

Moved this too:As far as it goes, I wouldn’t want reporters to think I’m going to tee off on them for doing their jobs, or presenters for presenting whatever crap their producers and corporate overlords deem necessary for wee little people to consume, so they can sell insurance.

Millionaires for the Masses

Or Smashing the Poor for fun and profit.

One of the drawbacks of rating driven profits is the ever increasing need to sensationalize the news, so we are regaled by people burning to death in their cars, because it purportedly shows the heroism of the police and adds to the social fabric of America. Of course that doesn’t mean we’re going to see the same thing happening to our soldiers, or our soldiers doing that to civilians in whatever next war to liberate Americans from people who disagree with with Americans. That would detract from Americans perceptions of themselves as heros and the best thing since sliced bread.

There is a reason that Lou Dobb’s reporting on immigration has set a hook, and that is finally becoming clear to me. He’s a faux populist. He’s all for the little guy, because, he isn’t one. So to help out all the little guys he’s going after all the little guys that do things he doesn’t approve of, especially those pilgrims that have a historical context to their lives that they are not aware of, just like Lou and his educated minions. They are convieniently inconvienient, without actually impacting Dobbs and his minions lives in any measurable way, unless we consider the price of their houses, landscaping, and food, but as far as any personal impact goes there probably isn’t any. It is the sheltered lives of vicarious fears.

This doesn’t mean I’m giving up on getting a handle on the immigration issue, but it means the motivation for doing so has changed. I want to know what is going on with the issue, and no one is going to find out about that by watching Lou Dobbs. The purpose isn’t to inform, it is to influence. And therein is the rub. There is no demarcation betweeen news and politics.

It is a variation on the old saw, if it looks like a duck, except if it looks like the news and has reporters like the news, then it must be politics, in this case, for the little guy of course.

If You Want My Opinion

See, I can change the channel on this end too. I’ll figure out a work around to the feeder problem and get back.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Up Armored Liberals Against the War

I might not be able to pull the troops out of Iraq right now, but I sure as fire can urge the Congress to send the troops over there with the armor and training they deserve. In the end, it is the only moral high ground in the house. Principles are what we live by, but soldiers live and die by armor and training, and it really is that simple. If you can’t take one for the team, then take one for the kids.

There’s no point in helping out the principle challenged either.

On Another Note- Updated

Update: Contrary to a previous assertion, I wound up at the PEW Research Center rather quickly because the illegal population figure I was concerned with was in a secured pdf report to Congress that linked to the Center, and hence I was unable to copy it to another document. This figure piqued my interest since this evening Lou stated it to be 20 million, which is in variance with the other estimates I have seen of 11.5 to 12 million. The previous number of 7 million was from 2000. This also comports with the GAO’s 700 thousand a year increase, so I’m not sure where the 20 million figure comes from.

The issue seems to be less pressing as an issue with the American people than it is with Lou, and people in the lowest economic quintile ( 20%) of either party, unless they live in cities in the Southwest, notably Phoenix and Salt Lake City. Anyway the Pew Report is here.

At any rate it still a facscinating topic even if one strips off the political hyperbole, and while I wouldn’t accuse anyone of it at this point, I am reminded of the saying that a reformer is someone who rides around a sewer in glass bottom boat. Anyway the report is worth a looksee if ones interest is strictly political, if for nothing more than the fact that it is not a pressing issue in most peoples minds, and that it is only a year old, which is relatively recent compared to most of the data I’ve been plowing through.

Interestingly the new PEW report on the AG, US-A case is in the same boat, in being far more interesting to the media than to the general population, as a whole. This would of course be another area of research, to see just how much of the news is news, and how much of it is just media driven issues masquerading as news. Anyway I’ll short list it with the other half dozen projects behind the two mentioned here so far, immigration, and the closed minded liberals thing. Anyway, I’m glad October 2008 doesn’t get here until October 2008, if you know what I mean. If not, you will.

I have a greater appreciation of the need for large staffs to investigate any issue, especially involving the government.

I have been going through reams of documents from GAO in regard to the immigration issue, which is encumbered by lack of high speed Internet access in the boondocks, and I am not sure that the government’s servers aren’t the worst in the world either, but I digress.

On of the biggest drawbacks that I can see right of the bat in immigration law enforcement is the sheer complexity of the rules and regulations that must be enforced. I can understand the perceived need to anticipate every contingency, but the complexity creates more holes than it closes.

While the latest estimate of illegal immigrants in the country sits at around 7 million, given the ease of circumvention I would imagine it to be quite a bit higher, especially when factoring in the western hemisphere provisions that cannot possible track fraudulent documentation and overstays.

It is doubtful we have any picture to focus on in regard to illegals from Canada or the English speaking nations. In fact it is probable that large numbers of illegals are sequestered in any one of large immigrant communities of whatever nationality, in whichever urban setting we might choose.

At this point it would be a little fool hearty to surmise why the focus is on the southern border of the United States, other than the majority of arrests for illegal immigrant criminal activity is focused in Texas, Arizona, and California, and so the biggest share of that cost is borne by those three States. While the buzz is drug and human smuggling, a rather large part of the activity is DWI, kiting checks and just general scofflaw behaviors not exclusive to illegal immigrants. Overall the illegals are as well behaved as legal and native residents, but as with all facets of the issue in my case, preliminary.

Anyway at this point I haven’t got far along enough to have any definitive picture of the whole story, even to say that there is more hype than actuality. What I can say is that it is probably not conducive to television reporting given the limits of the medium. This is not to say that the reporting is being done poorly, and in fact what I am of aware of, at this juncture, on the national level is fairly decent. That is not to say it is not weighted to influence opinion either, again, at this juncture, I can’t tell.

I have limited my sourcing pretty much to government reports and documents because there is just to much political posturing from the advocacy groups to bother with at this point. Later I will of course look into the dot edu sources, as the government reports are based on a surprising large amount of estimates of populations based on averages of costs, for any number of criteria.

At this point I cannot say definitively that anyone really knows what the hell is going on, although in fairness Lou is probably just as close as anyone on the issue. I don’t think it is a matter of lies, damned lies and statistics either, so much as it is a labyrinth of unimaginable proportions.

The bright side of this post is the spell czech only found four words.

18 Day Email Gap

Precludes a lot of good will. How are we to believe the “interviews” will cover what hasn’t been released in those documents?

Just wondering.

Just So There’s No Misunderstanding

If I were in a position to make the decision I’d pull the troops out so fast your head would spin.

I doubt that there is much anyone in the Christian West can or could do if Muslims wish to slaughter each other in Iraq or any where else in the Muslim world.

I do want to look down the road from where we are now, however. I assume there are plenty of people looking into the here and nows of it all.

Just saying.

Passionate, but not Emphatic

I don’t know if I’m the only one picking up on it or not, and far be it for me to help out conservatives and Republicans, but good Lord, do you folks hear yourselves speaking? It is off putting to say the least. I might be persuaded, but if you start yelling and talking down your nose to me I’ll assume you don’t have anything.

‘Surge’ pays off in Baghdad district

I am not familiar with Mr. Morin’s work so I can’t vouch for his bias or lack thereof, but

“It sucks, but it works,” Sgt. Brandon Daggs said of the JSS duty and increased patrolling. “I feel more safe in our [area of operations] because we’ve got a giant foothold now,” said the 23-year-old Oakland, Calif., native.

Pfc. Josh Pedersen, who, like Daggs, belongs to 2nd Platoon, Battery A, agreed.

“It’s a lot of work,” the 21-year-old Detroit native said from the gun turret of a Humvee. “But it’s worth it if we’re not getting blown up.”

suits me.

This really has nothing to do with what we will have to do, and the commitment we will be required to decide and sustain, if General Petraeus’ strategy works.

The question remains, if we succeed here, then what?

Good Morning America, How Are Ya?

I thought I should clarify, off to the races is a figure of speech.

Given the two projects I’ve undertaken, I’ll leave the Abu Gonzales case to others, who you ought to read, and consider, (do the homework,) given the 18 odd day gap in the e-mail releases. Myself, I’m off to the races.

The above isn’t exactly what I had in mind, either, when refering to the black and whiteness of legal-illegal, as I think most of you have driven to fast, jay walked, etc, etc,. Now I am off, slowly, to the races.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

So What is the English word for Chutzpah?

One of the problems with the immigration issue, of maybe perhaps the lack of problems with the immigration issue, is the uneven distrubution of immigrants when the data is compiled by a county to county basis.

The other is of course the inability to get anything off the swift Google search that isn’t two or three years old if it comes from DHS, which is now in charge of all of that.

But this what you have to plow through,

DHS Immigration Statistics,

DHS: Yearbook of Immigration Statistics

and this from the census Bureau.

All of which is important to the issue of immigration, although it may not be germane to the illegal immigration issue, if the sole criteria is that it is illegal. There isn’t much room to argue on that basis alone.

However if one wants to look at other aspects of the issue then one sees a an uneven application of those laws as well. Whether this is, and I admit at this juncture it is a very cursory look at the data, due to vector of immigration or not is another matter. In other words, if Mexico is the source of 56% percent of illegal immigrants then one would expect them to make up 56% of the apprehensions, which one finds in Northern States, but makes up 80% in Southern States and 33% in Coastal States. The total apprehensions are 80%, from Mexico. There were no statistics on those who got away.

Obviously the whole thing is more complex than I’m going to get into here tonight, but it does bring out some of the complexity of the issue, and perhaps the basis for some nationalities to be more upset about the immigration policy than others. It could in fact only be showing that it easier to apprehend people walking across the border in Southern States than it is to do so on the Northern border, or container ships, and so the disparity may arise from there.

So if we are going to get the facts on this then we are going to have to dig. If we are just going to frame it in legal/illegal there is no debate. However if we are to hold to the latter standard then we will have to hold to that standard across the board, which I don’t believe comports with the reality of American life. Anyway I’m off to the races.

The President’s Right

I think the President’s got a point on sending advisors up to the Hill on the basis of what we know now. If Leahy and his committee can develope the case beyond what we know now, then maybe so then.

Until then, I think, they are being set up for a sucker shot to be thrown later.

This is I think, the time to take the half loaf offered, because there may be more yeast in the the dough than flour. This issue cannot be conflated with other issues and be the catch all for grievances. That’s bad politics, and in this case, at this time, not really necessary.

But then, what the hell do I know?

Poor Richard Cohen

I really don’t have any kicks against Richard Cohen, although I do remember dismantling one of his columns in the WaPo in the forum hay days. I have never defended on of his columns, especially.( I think I have a bias against the Post!, oh dear.)

Today he wrote about Barak Obama and John McCain using the W word, ( W instead of wasted, which is just full of implications, from Freddie Fender to Presidents, but I digress,) and that article caught the eye of Greg Sargent who passed it on to me to disagree with one or the other I suppose, as the Lord works in mysterious ways and the internet in wierd ones, so that I might agree with Mr. Cohen’s point. For all I could see the big deal is that the DNC didn’t contemn Obama who said wasted first and following the firestorm apologized, duly, whilst they jumped all ove McCain for making the same mistake later on, and he too apologized, duly.

Of course the DNC is going to jump after the beating Obama took John is going to take one too. Had the candidates mispoken in a different order the RNC would have squawked I would imagine.

But the thrust of the column was pretty close to right on.

I leave it to history to decide whether the Iraq war will join the War of the Golden Stool (1900) and other such (British) follies as mysteries etched into cathedral walls. But by now, the obscuring of death and injury with emotive words and patriotic babble ought to be seen as a hideously obscene avoidance of accountability. The way to protect our soldiers is not to double our losses but to agree on a sensible withdrawal policy. Particularly for the Bush administration, all this concern for the troops comes a bit late and smacks of insincerity. The war may not have started with a lie, but it seems it will end with one.

I agree whole heartedly with that, and I don’t care if W hisself said it.

You Be You & I’ll Be You

And we’ll all be You-Tube Together

Would you be a Luddite 714 Mr. Klein? (he roared with mirth)(i before e except after c)

All Politics is Politics

This is from the unbiased Washington Times article, Funding more than war

Nearly half of the $21 billion that House Democrats added to President Bush’s request for emergency war funding would go to nonmilitary spending and to pork projects.
The supplemental spending bill includes more than $3.7 billion in farm subsidies, $2.9 billion in additional Gulf Coast hurricane relief and $2.4 billion for social programs such as money for rural Northwest school districts, health insurance for poor children, energy assistance for poor families and others.

I won’t argue that this isn’t nonmilitary spending or that it isn’t pork, but I will add that it isn’t a conservative bugaboo either, given the size of the federal deficit.

This is politics as usual, or making the sausage as usual, and the amendments for this or that spending bill being tacked on to necessary legislation is as old as the Hill.

The real news will be when the American people get off their asses and demand that it stop. The shocker will come if Congress ever listens to the people. Fall over dead will be when the President butts out.

On Israel, America and AIPAC

This article makes some good points, although being a contrarian I disagree with some of its’ assertions, and not being George Soros helps me out in that regard.

via Antiwar

Like I’ve said previously, AIPAC is a lobby and I expect it will act like a lobby. On the whole I dislike lobbies. That is a bias. I think they corrupt politics with their money. If I had a solution for that I’d offer it up, and if I see a viable one in travels I’ll damn sure post it up. Until then I think the American people as a whole shouldn’t try and beautify any of them, nor demonize them either.

On The Other Hand

I hate to riff on CSPAN too much, but watching the House of Representatives I compelled to ask if any of the Republican MOCs listen to any of the generals in the military?

Look boys, if the surge does “succeed,” and General Petraeus is not guaranteeing that yet,then what is the outcome of that, beyond a thirty or forty year occupation?

Hardly sounds like the need for glee.

A Fair and Balance Blog

One of the neat things about CSPAN is the diversity of opinion the callers bring to the show. If it were just for the guests being interviewed one would only be informed, and not entertained, although I do wonder if the current wave of callers watch CSPAN or just call in. I’ve been a pretty steady part time viewer for the last ten years at least and only felt compelled to call in once, and it didn’t go through, so I kind of figure callers to the show are like the people on blogs who wish to be first in the comments and so they sit in front of the box hitting the refresh button.

Today there were a bunch of callers concerned about a lot of things and some of them were actually informed about the US Attorney case under discussion, although I am not, or don’t consider myself informed enough to comment on it, any more than I feel informed enough about the Delay case in Texas to remark on that either. I am aware of the various allegations, but not aware of any resolution as to the veracity of those allegations, which is a good thing if I get called for jury duty. When it comes to issues of law it is a little fool hearty in my humble opinion to come to a conclusion when the LAWYERS involved have not done so yet themselves.

Law’s a funny thing, because no law means what it appears to say, it means what a judge eventually says it means, and lawyers spend most of their time redefining the words used in any particular law, to win a legal argument and obtain a meaning of those words so that the law comports with the wishes and desires of their clients.

I am somewhat amused too, at the continued charge of liberal bias in the MSM as if this were a provable assertion. If your a conservative FOX may be balanced and fair, if your a liberal it has a bias. Facts have bias too. If any particular fact doesn’t fit your world view it is biased against you, because we all know you are not biased yourself, so it is either the fact or the reporter of the fact that is biased. So the word bias says a lot without meaning to much when it comes to the press or yourself.

One of the big problems with the American people is that they don’t like to think about tough things to think about. They are action people, circle the wagons and ride off into the sunset people. Politics doesn’t comport with that, so they get other peoples opinions, usually from the MSM or press, and internalize them as their own opinions. If you internalize FOX then everyone else is biased, if you don’t internalize FOX then FOX is biased, but all of them are MSM or the press. Go figure!

If you don’t internalize anyone’s reporting then you have to wiegh different sources of information by how they stack up with each other, and wait on the lawyers and judges to define the legality or lack thereof of any particular issue that may involve judges and lawyers.

One of the tricks of the trade if your going to sell peas, is to generate a controversy were none exists so that you get eyeballs for the advertisers who are selling peas. So the press, or MSM actually exists now to sell peas, and their customers are not their readers or viewers, but their advertisers. John Q Public is what is called in the vernacular, the mark, the sucker born every minute, or the John of Q Public in all of its’ inflections. If you don’t want to be whored then remain uninformed and unopinionated, otherwise put on some perfume and lipstick baby.

Of course I intend to remain a bastion of unbiased informativity, so you can read me without the makeup and perfume.

Oh Solo Mio- The Odd Blog

I’m a little bit wary of wandering off into a blogger discussion about blogging since this here blog doesn’t even try to fit in with any of the concepts that blogging is supposed to imbue, such as building communities, or maintaining an archive, or having consistent title, and all those other little things that make a blog a blog.

So I’m not going too. Suffice it to say there are single author and multi-author blogs, and they usually have a point of view.

I think single authoring is harder because somehow or another you have to mow the lawn without letting the world know that you are doing so at the expense of researching a topic of interest or import, or coming up with something to entertain them.

In all of this you have to deal with TOR and other sneaky nefarious ways that people scarf your work without letting sitemeter or google analytics know that they are doing so, and blogger lets someone just email the post around if it rises above the pancakes of daily fare.

Of course it helps to have a Blackberry so that you can blog at the same time as you are mowing the lawn, but the tractor uses two gallons of gas to the push mowers two pints, and being a socially conscience blogger air pollution is of some import so blogging while mowing is liable to raise a the temperature of the globe more than just mowing, and doing your blogging before and after mowing.

I would imagine that serious bloggers have other people mow their lawns, not because it is the bloggin way, but because it is the American way. Liberal bloggers probably hire Canadian illegal immigrants to avoid the gaze of Lou Dobbs focus on the Mexican border, that being the leaky border closest to New York, while conservatives probably hire American Lawn Service Companies, Inced or not Inced, that are bonifide American Lawn Service Companies, Inced or not Inced, that probably hire illegal immigrants to do work that most Americans won’t do anymore, like mow their own lawns.

But if you mow your own lawn, or live in one of the various cliff dwellings that passes for an improvement over the ticky tacky boxes of suburbia, then you don’t need illegal pilgrims to mow the lawn, and you just wind up and let it go like I do.

I am sure the problem of lawn mowing is much more complex in multi-author blogs, because of the varying degrees of compliance with immigration laws, and living styles and conditions. I wouldn’t even want to tackle the issue of illegal lawn mowing with the network news services, unless I could find something entertaining to say about all of that, because mowing the lawn and hiring illegals is not the news, it’s the American way.

OutsideUp Looking InsideDown March 17-19, 2007

Monday, March 19, 2007

There Goes Your Cheese- Part 2

via Atrios
From Nouriel Roubini, who’s been right on this issue so far:
The sub-prime and overall mortgage carnage is now likely to lead to a financial crisis whose cleanup and bailout costs will make the S&L bailout bill look like spare change. We are only at the beginning of this fallout but, already, several proposals and bills in Congress have been submitted to help millions of sub-prime homeowners on the verge of bankruptcy and foreclosure. The prospect of millions of homeowners thrown homeless on the street is already shaking politicians of every stripe. The relatively modest bailout envisaged by the first bills currently proposed in Congress will mushroom into a much bigger fiscal bailout of homeowners, borrowers and lenders once the garbage of sub-prime, near-prime and pseudo-prime toxic waste spreads around the economy and likely leads to a hard landing recession that will cause a much bigger financial and banking crisis.”
Like I said, 2007 is going to be an interesting year. Oh yeah, what I said yesterday too.

Not Quite News Flash

“The FBI has issued an “informational bulletin” to state and local officials saying to watch out for people tied to extremist groups trying to earn licenses to drive school buses.
The Associated Press reports that members of the unnamed extremist groups have succeeded in gaining the drivers licenses, but a Department of Homeland Security official told FOX News that “at this time there is no evidence that any of these individuals have got these jobs, or got hold of school buses.”
There is no plot. There is no threat. And parents and children can feel perfectly safe,” FBI spokesman Richard Kolko told FOXNews.com.”
In other developements local officials also stated they would be looking for people duct taped to terrorist groups as well.
“We will of course be looking closely to ascertain that it is real duct tape and not “duck tape,” and other packing tape, stated Rplando Zlpoloco, the local Constable, and part time vegetable and fruit inspecter, in speaking to NQN.

“Well Golly Wally,

If guy can’t have fun with his own blog, then, who can?”
” Gee Whiz, I don’t Beave,”

Alt F7

One of the things I am thinking about right now is something Atrios said last year, and I don’t recall whether it was before or after the election at this point, but the gist of the statement was that no matter what else happened, Bush wasn’t going to leave Iraq as long as he was President, and although the rationale is also fresh enough in my mind to paraphrase it, ( he defined himself as a “war President,” and isn’t going to lose the war, so he’ll hang on and let the next President take the heat or blame,) in the end the rationale is not germane to fact that the President just isn’t going to leave Iraq. Like it or not there are at least Three FUs left before there can even be a beginning to the end of the war.

That the President would go on TV and declare that the current operation would take months not weeks on the fourth anniversary of the invasion would, if presented by any other TV personality, be considered the best of humorous statements. Obviously sir, obviously. I wouldn’t want anyone to miss the fact that he is also in fact, a TV personality, in that what you see on TV isn’t anything like the man when he is not on TV. That too, is really just that simple. That is why you cannot debate him or his policies seriously, because they are never really presented seriously. You need to talk to the producers and script writers.

Given, that in reality there is no there there, one is left in a bind of sorts as to what pressure to bring on the MOC or Senators who are pretty adept at the politics of incrementalism, which is what Congress does by design, unless the United States is attacked, or the elites and press convince the American people that one party is so corrupt as to not deserve to have a viable minority, which in the Senate can be a pretty small minority to begin with. With the Senate you basically have to get the cash to slosh around without being seen, where with the House you just have to get it dispersed in ways that it cannot be traced.

One of the things we forget about the Constitution is that it is basically a democracy limiting document. It intends to remove more and more power from the masses, first by federalism removing power from the states, and hence local control, and second by reducing the influence of popular opinion on the decision making apparatus of the federal state. This is easily observed by the numbers in opinion polls on the war in Iraq. The people have well over the 60-40 majority necessary to move a bill of graft through the Senate, and with their collective opinion to end the war right now, and will probably still have that majority, if not more, two years hence and still have that war. There is no super majority for the people.

People like me are left with a conundrum of sorts because it doesn’t matter what is said about developments in Iraq. No logical arguments will prevail, no emotional appeal will resonate, no massive gathering of antiwar sentiment can challenge what does not exist, and that is a federal government that is responsive to the will of the people. If you want responsive government, go to city hall.

There is a reason that no one believes or expects candidates to follow through on their campaign promises, but it is rarely articulated. First of all any candidate can blame the other members of his or her house for not supporting them with the legislation, and the second reason more often than not, that campaign promise is what the people want to hear, so it is spoken without the intention of ever delivering on it. That is not to say there aren’t Representatives and Senators that are responsive to the people, but they are usually marginalized by the leadership that also divvies up the lucre.

Part and parcel of the problem is that the state educates the people, and as such the people learn what the state wishes them to learn, so the people are much more in love with the conception of America, but quite unfamiliar with what it really is. It has provided a certain elegance to the phrase of fooling all of the people some of the time. From this beginning it becomes easier to fool most of them most of the time, and after that you merely need to stonewall the rest.

Education is more important to the states and federal government than it is to the people in general because of the economic benefits derived from it, not because it produces better poets. The people want their children to be better, happier people than those who are uneducated and so mired in the resultant poverty, plain and simple.

Left to their own the people would provide a rather uneven level of education, which would not be fair, but would probably produce more self motivated and self taught people too, because those who wish to learn about things badly enough find ways to do so. These people can be a particular pain in the ass because they do not think about problems and approach problem solving in the same way as a formalized system teaches people to think and solve problems.

Even with the federal and state involvement in education there is scarcely a paucity of drop outs and under achievers, and those who do excel and achieve are educated into tighter and tighter parameters of acceptable thinking the higher they go in the system. To say that vouchers would improve the system is to not understand the power that grants the vouchers would also define the results expected from them. That power to define the parameters expected to obtain predefined results is also the power to confine those results and expectations. There is no hot key to system, in the states educational system, and there are no system calls directly available to the people through either state or federal government structures.

So we either have to become certified by the state to hook into the kernel, or we have to figure out an exploit. You’re reading mine, even as we speak.

Condi’s Bind

A good question from a good reporter, Laura Rozen has the low down on some of the wheels within wheels at the State Department.

From the otherside of the aisle- The Other Smear

Part of the equation we aren’t looking at, which is all the reason in the world we need for the right.
“It isn’t just the ones who were fired- it is the ones who are still in place who have had their integrity smeared. By politicizing this to such an extent, the administration has given the appearance that the retained attorneys are little more than lackeys who will be political hacks for the administration.
*** Update ***
Their hackery has undermined the integrity of every US Attorney and will now throw every prosecutorial decision into question. Well done, guys.”
via Balloon Juice

What’s Going Right in Iraq – For Dummies

Best that I can tell. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Linclon, Theodoere and Franklin D Roosevelts, John Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan all, everyone of them, said something Good, Nice, Inspiring, or all three about democracy.

Why, all the Iraqi’s need to do now is to get clue.

Mind Readers In Charge of Foreign Policy

Is it just me, or did Condi just say that Saddam would have drawn the region into a wider conflict?
Look, I’m no concert pianist, but I can’t read the intentions of people oversees. In fact no one can.
Should our foriegn policy really be based on what someone else might do? This makes no sense.What about the facts, man?

Update: I really wanted to clarify this, because it is important to understand the difference between contingency planning and actually implementing a policy because of those contingencies.

Just because my neighbors have weapons, and may sometimes drink too many beers, and may get drunk and shoot holes in his wall or worse, shoot holes in his walls that pass through and might hit the guy on the otherside of him, doesn’t mean any of those things are going to happen. Without me ever being in the guys house, when he is drunk, if he ever is, doesn’t automatically mean I ought to call the cops on him just because I see him with a beer and he might do all of those things.

But Saddam and Iran, well why not?

I Understand This

I hate money and I’m useless with it Charlie Brooker: Haggling to buy a flat is my worst nightmare come true.
“Only a few things separate us from the apes: 1) there’s no direct ape equivalent of The Apprentice; 2) apes are hopeless at changing duvet covers (they pull them over their heads and panic because the sun’s disappeared); and 3) apes don’t use money. This third fact alone makes them vastly superior to humankind.”

Sunday, March 18, 2007

There Goes Your Cheese

One of the people I’ve been linking to for the last couple of years has had a tendency to be right about the global economy in general and the US in particular. If you haven’t been boning up on economics then he can be a little tough to understand, and so that includes most of us non economists which why I read all those other bloggers I link to on occasion like Atrios, Angry Bear, Ezra, etc. etc.
Anyway Mr. Lui’s started another series Why the subprime bust will spread that you ought to read. It is sort of a drag, but eventually the piper wants paid.
This seems to be the germane graph for the average joe in America;
“Through mortgage-backed securitization, banks now are mere loan intermediaries that assume no long-term risk on the risky loans they make, which are sold as securitized debt of unbundled levels of risk to institutional investors with varying risk appetite commensurate with their varying need for higher returns. But who are institutional investors? They are mostly pension funds that manage the money the US working public depends on for retirement. In other words, the aggregate retirement assets of the working public are exposed to the risk of the same working public defaulting on their house mortgages. “
Sheesh, I sure hope he’s wrong.

Digby Rips Again

Digby has post up trying to explain to Misters Hume and Wallace for the umpteenth time the difference between the Senate Intelligence Committee Report, and the letter attached to that report by Republican Senators who wished they too could have signing statements that negated whatever they were signing off on. To wit;
“Hume’s false claim originated from a statement attached to the Senate Intelligence Committee report on Iraq that was released in 2004. In an addendum to that report, Sens. Pat Roberts (R-KS), Christopher Bond (R-MO), and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) wrote definitively, “The plan to send the former ambassador to Niger was suggested by the former ambassador’s wife, a CIA employee.” The right-wing, including columnist Bob Novak, have taken the statement written by three Republican senators and falsely attributed it as the “unanimous” conclusion of the Senate report.”
You ought to read the whole thing of course. I just wonder how long it takes to screw these guys out of the ground after their Sunday show so they can leave the studio. They’ll make good foundation repair anchors after they leave the news bidness. Just screw them in deeper and deeper.

An Appeal To My Fellow Christians

“The Sabian Mandaeans – one of the oldest religious groups in the world – are facing extinction, according to its leaders.
They claim that Islamic extremists in Iraq are trying to wipe them out through forced conversions, rape and murder.

The Mandaeans are pacifists, followers of Adam, Noah and John the Baptist. “
This is something we can and should do something about, if for no other reason than it is the right thing to do. I am not familiar with this sect, but there is some Biblical basis and mention of folks like this in the Acts of the Apostles.
You can contact the UNHCR, which will help you set things right. Thanks.

Well Fancy That

Leak shows BP knew of Texas risk

BP baord directors were made aware of the link between spending cuts and poor maintenance at its Texas City refinery two-and-a-half years before the fatal explosion at the site in March 2005, according to documents seen by The Observer

An internal presentation made to John Manzoni, chief executive for refining and marketing, in November 2003 links the ‘history of reduced investment’ at the Texas City refinery with ‘poor maintenance practices’. It also makes clear that the refinery’s performance on safety, integrity and maintenance, was weak.

So much for all things British. Now which political party made this all possible? Hmmmm.

Yo Got That Right

There is, in my opinion, a need to asses where we are now, and what we need to do to get where we want. It is using the old top down step wise refinement method we all learned in structured programming.
Unfortunately we have a lot of pundits and editorialist that inherenting properties from their parent objects. It’s a tough leap from structured to OOP. That’s why nerds are usually right. (heh heh)

Just a Heads Up

There is a good display of Conservative debating tactics on display on Meet the Press. For all the interrupting that Mr. Delay and Mr. Wolfowitz engage in they are quick to demand an uninterrupted time to make their points. This is either rude, or as I say a tactic.

In the end the public either sees through this, or it doesn’t, but there it is.

As to thrust of what I’m doing here, there is a pitfall to surge that I think Instapundit has alluded to, in that the left or more apropos, the antiwar movement, hasn’t given the surge time to work, and as such may not be open minded as to that effort. This is to of course ignore the other surges and operations of a kind.

In this the presence of General Petraeus is the new unknown factor, and he and his staff are in fact a horse of a different color than the previous generals.

Lastly, Mr. Delay is about the most disingenuous debater I’ve ever heard. Most of his points are taken from Newt’s old book on using of words that convey negativity about any issue point that the opponent may hold. In that he doesn’t really add to the debate of the issue at all, but merely blows blue smoke and waves his mirrors. In that I think he weakens an already weakened position.

I would venture that for the most part the people of the United States, as a whole, would be better off talking amongst themselves about most issues than listening to the politicians and the pundits, who while admitted intelligent, and smart people, are not on the whole any smarter or more intelligent than we are.

Hard to interrupt a written post ain’t it boys?

Pretty Good, Not Bad, I can’t Complain

after all everyones just about the same.

One of the things that has come to my attention in all of this is the fact that for the most part Americans are open minded whether they are conservative or liberal, although the willingness to incorporate new facts and evidence is fairly universal, this doesn’t translate into Republican and Democratic policy positions in the same ways. I think this has to do with the basic difference in center of personality that are apparent, (at least to me,) in liberals and conservatives.

Basically what I think is going on is that from whatever brain center they spring from conservatives are more apt to go with the gut feeling, while liberals are more apt to go with their hearts. I have to admit that the previous statement uses the terms gut, and heart, in the sense that they are used in the Bible, which is as good as any at describing these centers of being, even though we all know these things are centered in the brain. I would think that these two different perspectives are as old as mankind, and that the ancients were just as likely to circle the wagons or engage in inclusiveness as the needs of the tribes were wont to dictate for their survival.

The War in Iraq is probably a good subject for studying the shifts and ways those shifts have occurred as any historical development and it is still fresh in our minds so there doesn’t need to be a lot footnoting or whereas-ing and wherefore-ing to observe the basic reactions of conservatives and liberals to changing conditions on the subject, or issue, if you prefer.

Prior to the invasion the war enjoyed a huge margin of support, which at the time I quit arguing against the invasion in February was around 85% for the invasion. That figure is now in the mid 30s, so half of the population has changed its’ opinion on the war as new evidence and facts have come to light, but even these simple figures don’t explain the changes in the conservatives positioning or interpretation of the events.

In many ways there is more support for the President, than for his war, and the spin masters are pretty good at conflating the two so it is not really that odd for there to be so many “dead enders.” I would surmise the same spin masters are at work on the Iran issue, and they are appealing to the same centers of being that are on display in the Iraqi war issue.

Given the top down nature of information flow in political and governmental affairs there is a certain tendency to accept or reject that evidence and information based on the accuracy of the previous years worth of information, which may explain the second term curse of Presidents who are the least likely people in the world to receive any information that would modify their positions on key domestic issues, even as the public at large goes through tectonic shifts of opinion under their feet.

At any rate, a shift of 85 to 35 percent support for the war is not a hallmark of closed minds, so those who supported the war four years ago and do not do so now really don’t owe anyone in America an apology, although they may need to extend one to the Iraqi people.

Another observation I have gleaned is the conservatives continued support is largely based on the fact that he was mislead about Iraq like the rest of us, with various players and agencies receiving various amounts of scorn for their part in the bamboozling of the President, and so there is a great deal of empathy for the besieged leader on that account.

I think that we will find both sides of the American political aisle engage in rhetorical fireworks which are misconstrued as being something more than what they really are, which is fireworks.

How or why an Anne Coulter or Rush Limbaugh can make millions at the game, and I can’t or won’t try to scrounge a dime at it doesn’t mean we aren’t in the same game, although I think I’m a league or two better at it than they. In the end they are part of the show to be sure, but the real circus is under the three big tops, and the fireworks entertain without really illuminating anything like the lady on the flying trapeze can by falling.

All this does not mean I’m abandoning the project, but I do want to lay out the degree of difficulty in the endeavor, as I think I am attempting to disprove a negative, and that that would be the case for the most part even if I were to be looking specifically for closed minded conservatives. In many ways facts are more influential on rationales for a position than they are on the positions the minority and majority opinion takes, whether they are Bush supporters or gay rights activists. The underlying objective remains, I think, the survival of the tribe, which in this case just happens to be 300 million plus members.

As with all other things of course, I may be wrong, but I need to keep the blog going while I’m doing the reason for the blog.

(As a side note, I am considering running some advertising so the blogger crew can make a nickel off of their efforts, so if anyone knows how to direct the rest of the revenue to a charity let me know. Thanks)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

This really is going to be tough

I have spent the better part of a day just perusing my favorite liberal bloggers stuff, and for the most part I think it is going to impossible to dig out any semblance of a narrow mind amongst them. Of the ten blogs I started out reading over four years ago, all of them are still extant, and two of the eight are conservative, or what I have always considered to be conservatives, rightly or wrongly, namely Drudge and Instapundit. Josh Marshall I always thought to be more moderate than say Atrios, Digsby or Tbogg, and although TBogg still chaps my ass regularly for picking on the kids, he is not by definition a close minded lefty, and dKos is in actuality usually more conservative in his positions than I am, so I am not quite sure where the lefty cutoff should begin or end at this point either.

So I am going to have to develop some sort of way to quantify this thing, such as how many links to conservative arguments are there, how and if there is any movement in position due to these arguments, and what was the primary evidence that caused the change in point of view, or lack thereof despite the mounting evidence that the original position was not based on the best of available evidence. In short how many times have these folks stuck with their gut feelings over evidence or empirical data.

This will be a long range project to be sure, but I think I’ll have to go to sites other than those I would normally visit on a normal day’s journey through the blogoshire for a sampling, and if I am going to use policy positions as the sole criteria, which is what I had intended to do. I can’t help but think my ideas on the difference between tradionalism and non tradionalism and the effect of those concepts on political positions won’t creep into the whole thing, but I’ll do my best not to let them, unless I just think I am compelled to make them seperate categories outright in and of themselves.

One the otherhand there has been some dramatic shifts amongst the six or seven conservative blogs I irregularly check out, especially on the war, but also in economics. In that there hasn’t been a change so much in their positions as in their perception of the administration’s implimentation of those policies. As far as morals and ethics go, for the most part, they have remained fairly consistent and constant, which doesn’t bear well for the current administration, but I think reflects something more of personality types than anything having to do with political positions on the issues.

So what I think will be best for this project is to find ten completely different liberal/lefty and perhaps five conservative/righty sources and just dig through the archives and start putting check marks in boxes as issues ebb and flow through the years.

At any rate I am not at this point finding a lot of closed mindedness in the top blogs so much as I am finding confidence in the individuals as to the conclusions they have come to based on the facts that have come and gone and been debated, from a lot of divergent sources. While there is quite a bit of circular linkage, and favorite linkages, I think my first top ten excluding one are still the best open sources of news and information on the net. These are just incredibly busy readers and writers, and if they want to disagree amongst themselves I am quite willing to stand back and let them go at it.

That said, it hasn’t negated the original intent of the first post, so I am off to find the illusive closed minded liberal and will look at the occasional conservative site just so I don’t loose perspective myself. I cannot at this point help but think that I haven’t sent myself off on a snipe hunt, but if nothing else I’ll be able to at least lay this issue to rest in my own mind, and that’s a start.

So at this point I have three broad categories, political, social and economics, and either two major outlooks, liberal or conservative, with the serious possibility of two minor outlooks being those of traditional and non traditional.

Long story short, I don’t where this going or exactly how I’ll know when I get there, but that’s what this gig is shaping up to be.

Just for Definition

I ran across this and I think it pretty much covers what I’m trying to get at, at this point.

Definition

Open-mindedness is the willingness to search actively for evidence against one’s favored beliefs, plans, or goals, and to weigh such evidence fairly when it is available.

Being open-minded does not imply that one is indecisive, wishy-washy, or incapable of thinking for one’s self. After considering various alternatives, an open-minded person can take a firm stand on a position and act accordingly.

The opposite of open-mindedness is what is called the myside bias which refers to the pervasive tendency to search for evidence and evaluate evidence in a way that favors your initial beliefs. Most people show myside bias, but some are more biased than others.

And from the same source;

1) Selective Exposure
We maintain our beliefs by selectively exposing ourselves to information that we already know is likely to support those beliefs. Liberals tend to read liberal newspapers, and Conservatives tend to read conservative newspapers.

2) Primacy Effects
The evidence that comes first matters more than evidence presented later. Trial lawyers are very aware of this phenomenon. Once jurors form a belief, that belief becomes resistant to counterevidence.

3) Polarization
We tend to be less critical of evidence that supports our beliefs than evidence that runs counter to our beliefs. In an interesting experiment that demonstrates this phenomenon[1], researchers presented individuals with mixed evidence on the effectiveness of capital punishment on reducing crime. Even though the evidence on both sides of the issue was perfectly balanced, individuals became stronger in their initial position for or against capital punishment. They rated evidence that supported their initial belief as more convincing, and they found flaws more easily in the evidence that countered their initial beliefs.

None of this is to say that it doesn’t apply to conservatives, I am absolutely convinced that it does, but I am not interested at this point to what extent it does apply to conservatives. I am more interested in the extent to which it applies to liberals and the left, and hence to myself.

Anyway that is where I am heading, just so you know.

What’s the Buzz

I thought that rather than to keep going down the same old rut of shelling the troglodyte, (no offense there CN,)or otherwise, right for positions I didn’t agree with it would be interesting to take a hard cold look at the rednecked attitudes of the left for a change.

Whether anyone on the left likes to admit it or not, there are some very narrow minded, if not out right closed minded people espousing liberal or leftist views, and so as a challenge to myself I think this is where I’ll be heading for the duration.

I don’t think I want it to be a critic of individual lefties, nor do I want it to devolve into a generic bashing of a group of lefties either, so it will be, I think, quite a change of pace for me since I have been a pretty generic basher of the right. In this I’m not sure I’ve ever moved out of campaign mode.

The drawback to that has always been the drawback of painting with too wide a brush, so that any insult of conservatives or conservative thinking in general may have been taken by individual conservatives to have somehow included themselves personally, even though I don’t personally know them, or their opinion on any given subject per se.

In essence then, I want to try and turn things inside out for awhile, just to see if it can be done. I am not at all sure that it is possible either, so there will be a learning curve to the whole thing which ought to be a challenge. I am thinking that if it can’t be done, then in some way it will help me out in moving the discussion of issues on my part away from the tighter channels of thinking that it has fallen into over the years.

One of the things I have come to dislike about my writting recently is the compaction of thought, inwhich I try to say in a sentence what should best be said in a paragraph, so perhaps it will help in the developement of that aspect of communication to criticize my own side of the aisle.

At any rate I hope it is as entertaining a ride for my two readers as the previous work has been, and perhaps as educational as it is entertaing for you, and me. Otherwise I think it will be necessary to find a completely different way of engaging the world altogether.

Ultimately whether one is a conservative or liberal American, they are definitely Americans, and as such more like each other than they are like people from other nations. There are certain things about us that makes all as common as dirt to the others. In the end, I’m just tired of the same old bullshit all the time, too, and that includes my own. If what we have now is the best we can produce in political discourse, then the work of the newspaper columnist that write much and say little is perhaps more to be desired than despised.

EZSmirkzz & Company March 4-16, 2007

Friday, March 16, 2007

What’s Up With Russia?

This isn’t good.

One of the reat strengths of any nation is the ability to communicate freely, and the more inclusiveness of those in the conversation, the more stable the base of the state becomes. I have to wonder sometimes just what weakness the powerful perceive in themselves, or their systems of government, that somehow eludes the rest of us.
This paranoia isn’t exclusive to any particular nation either. It would seem to me to be a matter of skimming the cream of the milk of human thought.

This is Hillarious

My Honor…Defended!

His criticisms of me appear to take two main forms. The first is that I’m on “the far left.” The second is that I’m young. Now, unless your spectrum runs from Al From to Sam Brownback, it’s six types of absurd to place me on the “far left.” But fine: Maybe Mickey is such a firebreathing conservative that advocating for universal health care really does make me a Communist.

Well I hope it wasn’t because I link to him. That would make him read by me.

This is Good

Does Palestine have the right to exist?There isn’t much for me to add, really, as I can’t think of anything that wouldn’t detract from the arguments made in the post. It really is worth a look.

Evolution in Action

Mutants From The Sewer

The first poison of this type was called warfarin, which became available in 1953. It has many advantages, but also one decisive disadvantage: Just a few years after its introduction, rats capable of surviving their warfarin snack showed up in Scotland. The population’s DNA had mutated so that blood coagulation was not affected by the poison. Today, resistant brown rats exist in several parts of Europe as well as in North America. Many of these rats are immune to both warfarin and some of the more recently developed agents.

Rats!

Friendly Fire Ruled Unlawful

Just one of the things UPDATE: you don’t hear on from the US Media,(Well I guess you do,) since we are busy discussing the applicability of gay fetal reforms,

Soldier’s friendly fire death ‘unlawful’ from the Guardian,

Mr Walker said the act was a “criminal one, since the pilots broke with the combat rules of engagement in failing to properly identify the vehicles and seek clearance before opening fire”.
He said it would have been easy for the pilot who shot at the convoy to take steps to confirm the identity of the vehicles. In failing to do so he acted “outside the protection of the law of armed conflict”.

“I find there was no lawful authority to fire on the convoy. The attack on the convoy therefore amounted to an assault. It was unlawful because there was no lawful reason for it and in that respect it was criminal.”

Of course a coroner cannot bring criminal charges, as I understand it, and so there is no criminal liability from the inquest, which may have something to do the family and friends of Paddy Hull to wonder at US non co-operation. (They should talk to the US Congress.)

There is more here at the BBC;

US rejects ruling on UK soldier and in the side bar the are more details of the case. The only thing I am sure of, is that our government could have done a better job of handling this case, but since a decent respect for the opinions of mankind is not a forte of this administration, who can really be shocked by;

Speaking at a State Department briefing in Washington, Mr McCormack said: “Clearly we don’t agree with the assessment. What we have here is a tragedy that occurred during a time of war.

“We have conducted an investigation into the matter – our military has – they have come to their own conclusions.

“We certainly would not agree with any conclusion that categorised this as a criminal act.”

Of course not, there is absolutely nothing that could be so construed, according to this administration. It’s all a terrible mistake, or failure to recall, or a look over there at that.

Yes EZ, the Analysts are always better than the Agencies

Sheesh. I am about as partisan as it gets when it gets down to the electorial politics of it all, so I know a low sink when I see one.

You have to wonder how many lawyers will be invited, or were already invited to the funerals. I doubt many reporters will be welcome either.

Glenn Beck and I

Do have something in common. One drink over the line. I don’t understand the reefer thing however, maybe it has something to do with bongs, I don’t know.

Anyway, one of the major problems with reefer is that it is sold by people who sell all that other crap, and so tokers are invariably exposed to harder drugs. Back in my hey day it was speed and acid. Later it was coke and downers, Now I don’t have clue, but I can’t imagine it is much different.

All of this was brought out by Nixon’s task force on drug abuse thirty five years ago.

I can understand some addictions because I have them, which doesn’t really make you a popular fellow discussing them, but I cannot understand others because I don’t have them, which makes you an idiot to try and discuss them.

I am not too sure how helpful it is going public with it all either, other than to tell other addicts that there are ways out of the rut and cycle your in. It still starts with you. When you relize you have a problem then you can start looking for help.

Don’t expect recovery to be anything spectacular either. Recovered addicts may be forgiving, but non addicts usually are not, and no one ever forgets a thing.

Recovery groups are fine things, but some of the people that attend can’t hold water either, so be careful in what you say to people in or out of open meetings, That is the reason for sponsors, which you in all likelyhood should get. They are someone you can trust. Just because someone is a recovered addict doesn’t mean they are vindictives sons of bitches, or flat our blabber mouths either.

Try and remember starting over doesn’t necessarily mean other people will allow it, so you still have to break the rules, but given thirty to ninety days of being clean helps you figure out those rules that need to broken. Until then, you just have to want to be clean more than you want to be right about some things. Early on just assume you’re wrong, it’ll make things easier.

Finally don’t worry about the higher power thing, that will come to you to or not. It doesn’t have to be God, or any other preconceived notion. Gravity is a higher power if nothing else works for you. In the end it may just be the freindship of your sponsor, because being a good little addict you will have discovered you don’t really have any friends anyway.

Find a simple program and keep it simple, but don’t think or expect it will be easy. You don’t get strung out on chemicals because you dislike their effects, but because you do. That is the one thing that won’t change either. Once you become a raison you’ll never go back to being a grape.

Absent a big book, that’s about all I’ve got on short notice. I have five years of sobriety twice and nine years this time, so falling off the wagon is pretty easy too. If nothing else you’ll learn how not to quit quitting, even if you never figure out how you learned to stop. The Lord works in mysterious ways for those who don’t believe, and even more so for those of us who do.

This too, is about a rough a draft as I’ve posted up too.

For the Television Challenged

Firedoglake is all over the Plame/Wilson testimony.

BTW, I deleted the cheap shot at Jay Carney, because I’m a nice guy and such.

Liberty, Libertarians, and oh yeah, Jefferson and Washington too

Just a couple of worthwhile reads, Ron Paul looks back at the original foreign policy od the United States, in a rather short article, and Justin reviews a book by a Libertarian about Libertarians, which he is eminently qualified to do, here.
I am sure that I have some libertarian streaks in me, which tend to grow more pronounced as the government of troglodyte conservatism grows like a water balloon filled by a fire hydrant.
Of course if one is to understand libertarianism, it is also necessary to try and understand what conservatism and liberalism are as well, all of which must overlaid on the context of what a Republican and Democrat may be.
For the layman it would be simpler to just seperate government officials into crooks and those who are about to become so. But that may be the cynical streak of mine showing through. Skepticism probably dictates that I rephrase that into those who are probably crooks and those who are probably about to become so.

Not a Draft

Update: I am sure that professional writers would call it draft.

One of the drawbacks of blogging, for me, is the compulsion to respond to an argument I disagree with nearly as soon as I’ve heard it, and so I don’t really give the response the time or white space it needs to become as developed as the news report that inspired it in the first place.

On the other hand there is a danger to allowing oneself to be driven by television news, which is easier understood if your a news junkie, those of you content to catch the hour in the evening and whatever half hour else you pick up in the day probably think I spend too much time watching TV, without ever reaching the “news” part of the equation.

So in this endeavor I listen too much to those I shouldn’t and too little to those that I should, I suppose, but I don’t think non news junkies can begin to comprehend the diversity of reporting they actually receive over the tube. There is quite a bit a difference in tone and focus between the three majors networks and the various cable news outlets, although I’m sure everyone is aware of the fact that FOX News is not the same as the other “news” programs, and depending on orientation either like it or not without too much thinking about the differences that set it apart from the others, as we news junkies are inclined to to do.

Yet, I cannot emphasize the point enough, it is these very news outlets that shape Americans perceptions of the world and the events occurring in the world, and if these news reports are slanted then the perceptions of the viewer is also slanted, which makes for good partisan politics, but lousy decision making.

One of the great complaints about the Iraqi War is the misleading information on WMDs, and the ties between al Qaeda and Saddam, amongst the many others to numerous to get into here. Was it the President misleading the people or the press, or was it a case of misleading both? Certainly there were those of us who were not mislead, by either the press or the President, so what happened? Why did some of us come to the correct conclusion, even being TV news jukies, and so receiving an overdose of the prewar propaganda?

One of the biggest, and obvious reasons is we also had time to use the internet and find other expert opinions that disagreed with what was coming over the airwaves of radio and television. Some of these sources were linked from the blogs, or in the ongoing debates in the forums that were so much more popular four years ago than they are today.

So in retrospect those of us with the time to be Television News junkies also had time enough to be Internet junkies as well, and I can see where I spent massive amounts of time online being a well informed individual in the minority. The impact of television’s half hour of a persons time is huge on their perception of the world if that is all the information they receive on any given topic.

This impact doesn’t stop with the war in Iraq. It is an ongoing influence as the American neocons whirl into a war with Iran, the perception of their political mechanizations will be duly interpreted and reported in half hour segments of great influence, so that the television news service is both an enemy and a friend of the truth, provided that the topic is an objective one such as wars, or natural disasters. FOX News was as good as any on Hurricane Katrina, because Sheppard Smith was standing on the bridge over the abandoned, and that was just an objective truth the cameras could not ignore.

On the other hand the incident at Fallujah with the Blackwater mercenaries that lead to the destruction of that city was never reported objectively by any of the television news outlets, and it wasn’t until months and years later that the truth of that incident emerged to be seen even by the news junkies, because the government and Blackwater also lied to the press about the details and facts of the incident, and for the most part it received a passing notice when compared to the original news reports, in part I think, because the television news programs didn’t want to devote the time necessary to explain the way they had been fooled and lied to, so as to report the story in a way that ultimately mislead the public.

Whether this is foolish pride on their part, or any of the other myriad calculations that go into what is or is not presented on the screens across America, only they know. Conversely, all I can comment on is what is presented and how it is presented, and compare it to other sources as to its’ accuracy and spin. It is not much different, in many respects, than shopping for melons. There is more to it than just thumping the outside, it has a smell and weight to size ratio that one can learn only with experience.

I really am not sure that we don’t expect too much out of journalists either, who for the most part spring from the same towns and cultures as their viewers, and so they carry with them some of that prejudicial baggage even after college has done its’ best to pry those barnacles off their hulls. As Mr. T. Roberts of HNN has so bravely demonstrated, some of those barnacles never come off. So we are as television viewers dealing with presenters that are very much human beings, and as such they are lenses with filters, and as such they focus on what they wish to focus on, and filter in and out what they wish to filter in and out, with the input of editors and others who are also lenses with filters, all attempting to explain verbally what you can see with your own eyes from the narrowness of the camera shot you are viewing.

So it is important for the viewer to distinguish between what is a hard news event, which in the case of the four Blackwater mercenaries in Fallujah it was, the interpretation of that event was false, as opposed to the recent reporting on addictions and immigration which is advocacy reporting, and the rush to know on the Anna Nichole Smith stories and other missing white girls, which are human interest stories. It is also important to remember that all of this “news” is being filtered and focused to be presented in such a way as the presenters wish you to interpret it.

Given most individuals inability to spend more time observing these things, coupled with the same time restraints that prevent them from from uncovering other sources of information we are left with a very uninformed public, a public which has a patriotic duty to be so informed, but without a reliable vector of delivery of information.

This not to say that these individuals and corporations are being dishonest or biased intentionally, although I am sure that some of them are to some extent, but to try and articulate some of the differences between hard and soft news and the problem of the time constrained viewers in sorting it all out. It is hardly the news media, or individual reporters fault when a government official lies outright about any given issue.

I think however, as a consumer of television news I do have a right to question these individuals and corporations that will report only the part of a story that seems germane to themselves. It is one thing to report that a terrorist has confessed in a secret American tribunal at Gitmo, but quite another to report that terrorist has been held at secret bases around the world without reporting how and when and why those secret bases overseas came to be in the first place. In such a case, over half of the story is missing, and there is in truth a constructed context for the sake of the story, but not the truthful context of that story.

In this last point, then, I can only admonish that faith is not the possession of all men.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Did I Say That?

The last post got away and was meant to be saved as a draft. Now it is. My bad.

Surge Projections

Here are a couple of different voices and perspectives on the surge in Iraq. Not entirely new perhaps, but then not the same analysis from the usual analysts either, so these articles say things that others either won’t, or heaven forbid, (!) haven’t thought of or expressed.
“The bottom line is that withdrawing the majority of US forces from Iraq will not necessarily be a disaster. The failure to achieve the original mission in Iraq has already occurred, and the US has already suffered a significant loss of its interests. Withdrawing troops from the country may not make matters much worse. “
And this three parter, via TomDispatch, which if yo just go there now and read after this;
“The way a US patrol and a car-bombing coincided was no accident. The New Baghdad neighborhood, like almost all Shi’ite communities in the capital, has been policed by the Mehdi Army on an ongoing basis. Besides enforcing all manner of local law, the Mehdis are also vigilant about possible suicide bombers, quickly recognizing strange people or vehicles that enter their neighborhoods. At the same time, wary citizens are also on the lookout, alerting the local Mehdis whenever they see someone who looks suspicious.

When the Americans come through on patrol or – even worse – when they set up permanent checkpoints (either US- or Iraqi-manned), the Mehdis have to lie low, since the Americans (or their Iraqi sidekicks) will arrest or kill them. The community is then in essence left unprotected and open to intruders.”

Imagine. All this and much more (including news of U.S. military border-crossings into Iran, new preparations that would allow George W. Bush to order a massive air attack on that land with only 24-hours notice, and a brief window this spring when the staggering power of four U.S. aircraft-carrier battle groups might be available to the President in the Persian Gulf) was revealed, often in remarkable detail, just over a week ago in “The Redirection,” a Seymour Hersh piece in the New Yorker. Hersh, the man who first broke the My Lai story in the Vietnam era, has never been off his game since. In recent years, from the Abu Ghraib scandal on, he has consistently released explosive news about the plans and acts of the Bush administration.
and so we wind on down the road…

Define Your Terms

You know we really need to define the term immoral.

Is it immoral for heterosexuals to engage in homosexual acts?

Is it immoral for Christians to engage in war?

So Who Gets the List

This ought to be interesting.

We’re talking about the tangled matter of one Deborah Jeane Palfrey, who is being prosecuted in connection with what the authorities say was a pricey prostitution ring in the Washington, D.C., area that serviced as many as 15,000 clients between 1993 and 2006. A federal indictment was handed up in the district on March 1.

[…] Ms. Palfrey, evidently short of money for legal defense since prosecutors froze her $400,000 in cash and stocks last fall, attracted a good deal of attention over the last few weeks, some of it perhaps of a panicky nature, by threatening to sell her business’s phone records, showing the telephone numbers of thousands of customers, to the highest bidder.

[…] On Tuesday, Ms. Palfrey changed course. Her lawyer told WTOP radio in Washington that she had decided not to sell the records. Instead they will be handed over to a news organization, free of charge. Which one? Nobody is saying yet.

Now there is some real whoring we can sink our teeth into. In a figurative sense, in a figurative sense, Sheesh.

Back in the US Back in the US

Just wondering if anyone else notices how eerily similar reports of testimony from secret tribunals of Gitmo sound so much like the reported confessions of guilt from the secret tribunals of the Soviet Union? They didn’t use torture either, as it was dutifully reported by Pravda, as I recall.

Back in the USSR.

Democratic Klutzes

Oh Yeah, via Antiwar

For those of us who don’t think war is the answer to peace in the Middle East, this ought to raise your etyebrows at least a little,

“Top House Democrats retreated Monday from an attempt to limit President Bush’s
authority for taking military action against Iran as the leadership concentrated
on a looming confrontation with the White House over Iraq. Officials said
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of the leadership had decided to strip
from a major military spending bill a requirement for Bush to gain approval from
Congress before moving against Iran. Conservative Democrats as well as lawmakers
concerned about the possible impact on Israel had argued for the change in
strategy.”

This settles at least three matters once and for all: To begin
with, the president has been given the green light to attack Iran. Withdrawing
this provision from the spending bill is an act not just of complicity, but of
open collaboration with the Bush administration’s war plans. When the bombs begin to fall, and the Democrats rise up in a yowl of righteous indignation, the president will be quite justified in doing this.

and so the antiwar right will be right again, because the “liberals” fail to listen to them.

Eventually we will have to make a trade off, between a social agenda at home or peace abroad. Since most of you do not serve, and do not have family that serves in the military, I’ll wager that the war will enlarge and every child still gets left behind because the regional war will suck up all the funding. Now peace that requires diplomacy, and of course that doesn’t make any politician look courageous on television, like speeeches in support of the troops.

Note to Web Designers, and Graphics Artists

Some of us still use dialup, and while we appreciate your hard work and efforts, we really don’t have all day to download your fantastic creations and multi layered web pages into browsers and email windows.
About thirty seconds is all you get, if it can’t load by then, the eloquence of the delete key overrides the elegance of your work. Just saying.

Note To Arlen Specter

How’s the Patriot Acts US Attorney provision working out Senator?

Simple Math Question

If one third of all returning veterans suffer Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, and 1.6 million servicemen have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, how many of those 600,000 men and women does it take to make one Malvo, or McViegh?

The President Gets Requests

The widow of friendly fire victim Matty Hull today appealed to the US president for help in finding out the truth about her husband’s death.

Susan Hull said she had met George Bush in November 2003 and asked him whether there was anything he could do to help with investigations into the death of the 25-year-old, who was killed when a US A-10 plane fired on a British convoy in southern Iraq in March that year.

“He assured me that he would do all he could to help,” she said. “President Bush, this is the last day you can help us. We ask that you give the coroner just one single page.”

This would be along the lines of complaints the President recieves, I suppose.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Rearranging The Issues

One of things I do wonder about, especially now, is how and why the immigration issue would come to the forefront when so many polls indicate that most Americans really aren’t that interested in it, and on the other hand a majority support legalization/amnesty for those pilgrims that have been working for at least the last two years and doing the things that they ought to be doing.

Of course now is when the Senate decides to debate the War to end all wars before we attack Iran, of more apropos, they attack us in the Persian Gulf and so initiate the war to end all wars in the Persian Gulf. So I would expect that before Bush leaves office there will be a Gulf of Tonkin incident, and all the puppies will wag their tails and say yes, yes.

I don’t say these things lightly either. There are those who see war as the lesser of evil options, without ever defining what the other options might be, and failing to provoke will stage a provocation.

I could comment on how this would all dovetail with the most religious of nations having a population that is basically clueless about the Bible, either as a religious text or a historical book, and how differing interpretations of those writings might unfold in either a historical and/or prophetic way, but that would lead I think to more speculation and less revelation of what the text actually says in either context.

So the problem boils down to how to rapidly educate old and foolish kings who have become wise in their own eyes, without letting them know that they are being educated. Suffice it to say that the American people have very little room for complaints about being hoodwinked by the elites, when they themselves have chosen to remain ignorantly adamant about their positions which lack any historical or religious context whatsoever.

In the end the historical method is probably the best way forward, as religion tends to inflame the passions of those less learned in the faiths, since their own ignorance of their own faith puts them on the defensive almost as quickly as it does the clergy and theologians, who for diverse reasons have taken what should be common knowledge and obscured it with gnostic jargon. Of course one can also anger the powers that be by peeling the paint off of the national security secrets to revel them to be bamboozles of the same magnitude as those of the religious elites, and may have much to do with the cozy dance the political and religious elites engage in, both here and abroad, all the while leaving the piper payers in the shadows, because someone after all is paying for this.

So while Mr. Monibot may be correct that the 911 conspiracy theorist detract from the political work and efforts he and many others have spent their lives trying to enact, he cannot dismiss the theorists out of hand either, unless he too has become detached from the reality of what is allowed or not allowed to be discussed by free people in a free society. To do so would be to make all of his goals, if achieved, an illusion anyway.

Anyway, I’ve picked a helluva jumping off point, haven’t I? But then arrays are such fun, it’s a wonder they aren’t taught to everyone in school.

Blogging is Dead, Long Live the Blogging

We’ve got ten years boys,
SXSW Science fiction writer and professional pundit Bruce Sterling has cracked bloggers with the extinction stick, saying the plebs will crawl back into their ooze by 2017.”
Of course, he wasn’t all a twitter about Twitter either, and being a professional pundit it is only a matter of time before he gets his own blog, and laptop to twitter on too, I suppose.
You know blogging is just an outlet, it isn’t a “thing,” like a fad or whatever. It’s whatever the blogger wants it to be, so that if someone and their family wants to make a private blog they can share amongst themselves they can, just as I keep my blog private with the 6.6 billion people of the planet, but require registration of, or must extend an invitation to, off worlders.
Basically it beats getting a job with a newspaper or magazine, requires zero input or feedback from the audience, and gets around the one letter every thirty days that ought to apply to many of the columnists already working for newspapers and magazines.
So some opininated guys get a blog, write their opinion, and viola, the next thing you know some of them are making a living off of doing nothing all day. Except those that really make a living off of blogging bust their asses to do it, because you have to read a tremendous amount of other peoples work and somehow or another distill all of it down into a concise expression of wankerism for all the other wankers. It is a lot of free freelanceing, mixed with a lot of professionalism, all under the umbrella of blogs.
So before blogistan fades away into the ethersphere, and the internet devolves into a bunch of peer to peers, lets drink to hard slogging bloggers, lets drink to the salty of words, say a prayer for the lonely blog readers, sing a song for the mindless tirades. Or something like that. After all, what the hell do I know, I’m just a blogger in a blogger roll, Stan.

US A’s – the Rub

I think Josh has really hit the nail on the head with this post, and yes he has been on this story from the get go, I know, so it really isn’t “news” unless you’re just catching on to the whole story.
Long story short, his archives are open to look through, and you can get some first rate reporting on this issue without too much advertising.
And just for clarification, I really do appreciate the work of CNN in general, and Lou Dobbs in particular. This really is a digression, but I really don’t know how frequently I’ll be posting over the next couple of months as I relearn my craft and quit smoking cigarettes,( Yeah, it’s a hard nut addiction to crack,) so I just wanted to get that out.
In the end, I think that Mr. Dobbs is after what’s best for America, and given his interview of Duncan Hunter, somewhat aware of the fact that the politicians in DC are not, if it interferes in their own political horse trading. In that regard I am one hundred percent with Mr. Dobbs, and I am all in favor of a non partisan effort to out the corruption, and perversions of the political processes required to keep business as usual an ongoing thing of the politicians in DC.
I am quite sure I will disagree with him in the future as I am a little left of liberalism, and as such tend to have some agreements with libertarians, but in his efforts to get the US Government to respond to the needs, much less the will, of the American people, I find him to be an odd bed fellow and ally. Anyway I would encourage you to watch his show as well, which comes on as a rerun if you just have to watch Katie and the local news. I think you’ll find the reporting balanced and Mr. Dobbs a tough questioner, and in the end a thoughtful person, which is enough for me. For my part I hope to avoid the snark, which comes so naturally, naturally, to me.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Keeping Up With General Pace

One of the things left out of the discussion in regard to gays in in the military in particular, but to the gay issue in general is the lack of any defining parameters for what is or isn’t moral behavior beyond that of traditional religious injunctions.
Without a civil union provision there is no secular way to define the parameters of acceptable gay behavior, such as we have with statutory rape, or child predators, or any other sexual behavior including doing it in the road between heterosexuals.
It presents a problem when someone like the General attempts to put personal behaviors in or out of bounds, especially in those situations in which those behaviors do in fact have some impact on military discipline. It creates a void for homosexual behavior that doesn’t exit for heterosexual behavior, because of their minority status there is no consensus on what is normative homosexual behavior within our society.
Until such time as gay relationships are normalized by the state they will be conflated with the religious injunctions which have no business being the policy of the state without a compelling need for them to be so.

Wounded Warrriors

“March 11, 2007 | COLUMBUS, Ga. — “This is not right,” said Master Sgt. Ronald Jenkins, who has been ordered to Iraq even though he has a spine problem that doctors say would be damaged further by heavy Army protective gear. “This whole thing is about taking care of soldiers,” he said angrily. “If you are fit to fight you are fit to fight. If you are not fit to fight, then you are not fit to fight.” “
The military bureaucracy is a royal pain in the neck. Worth the read, via dKos.

Monday, March 12, 2007

AIPAC- Listening and Wondering

I just finished listening to the speeches of Mr. Reid and Mr. McConnell, and I couldn’t help finding myself as impressed or unimpressed, perhaps, as the audience they spoke to.

I know this is a touchy issue with some people, but that’s the way important issues are. The one of insuring the existence of Israel is such an issue, and other than stating the right of that state to exist in peace, without fear of invasion or attack seems to be the only thing that is easily agreed upon, at least between Republicans and Democrats in the United States.

Where and how we get from where we are now to where we wish to be, as in the previous statement, is the area of great contentions, and I may be wrong here as well, but it seemed to me the audience was much more attuned to that reality than the two Senators seemed to be.

If it is a difficult thing for the Israeli people to have to rely on Arab states that they do know, to make accommodations for a peaceful co-existence, then it is a much more difficult thing for Americans to do so, since we are of all the worlds people the most naive and ignorant, as a group, of all the other peoples of the world, and the Arab ones especially so. But, ultimately, we must do so, since peace is not a unilateral option.

I have, as Mr. McConnell noted in his speech, the wondering of a Jew, if his non-Jewish friends would hide him in the attic, and also asked myself how I would have behaved during the Nazi Holocaust, because ones entire city of neighbors enraged at your own self for any reason is not a pleasant prospect to contemplate, and to endure that for a moral principle that is not established as a principle until after the event that establishes it, makes it even more problematic to state unequivocally that one would do the hard thing in a hypothetical reality. One hopes that one would, but failure with mankind is always an option, and questions such as this are on the personal, not the national level.

On the national level I believe the American people are united behind the right of the state of Israel to exist, give or take the few of religious traditions that do not ascribe to such accommodations, and so we are tasked with distinctions in methods without differences in goals. This should not be a problem, in and of itself, except amongst those to whom it is also a religious issue, and from whence so many bitter feelings are easily inflamed, one wonders why anyone who cannot materially effect an outcome would speak, as there are times when silence is the best of diplomatic languages. It is an impossibility to address all of the fears and angers and hatreds of such a situation, unless one is acquainted with them all, and it is then up to those people to address those fears, angers, and hatreds in such a way as to insure the peace, at best, and to not inflame them at worst.

I think in all of this then, we Americans can only offer the guarantee of Israel’s existence as long as it possible to us to do so, but it is ultimately the Israeli people and their neighbors to insure and guarantee the peace. That is a matter of those peoples own hearts, and only they can change the hearts of their own neighbors. The rest of us can only encourage them to do so, and I do so now. It is time for the parties involved to provide room for each other in the attics of their own hearts and minds. This is something others cannot do for them.

Bloggers ARE People

Always correcting the bloggers, am I, but via him anyway, this is just so true.
People often blame our polarized political world on politicians in Washington. The truth is, the rising division in our society goes far deeper than simply a class of political professionals. It has deeply impacted the way most people think on a day-to-day basis.
What the pundits with the big horns won’t acknowledge however, is how much they are part of the problem too. I’m not sure that all of them even realize it, but I fairly convinced that some them are, and exploit it for personal fortune and fame. These are really the most cynical amongst us. It must be hard liking no one but one own self, because sycophants really aren’t that likable, after all, as even the big fat cynics have only so much ass to kiss.

Why Immigration is an Issue

One of the things I’ve discovered, is that 56% of illegal immigrants are from Mexico, 22% are from other Central and South American nations, and that leaves 22% of them from other nations. For the most part then, the immigrants are from our Southern neighbors which experienced a population boom in the seventies and eighties at the same time as the region went through political turmoil and economic downturns which put additional pressure on emigrating toward the United States.
On of the best online articles that I’ve read today, is from “AnalysisOnline.” and articulates the many aspects of this issue, and clarifies some of the economic and demographic impacts of immigration. It really is worth a read, as it sorts out who is being hurt and who is being helped by immigration as far as the economic end of it is concerned.
Hopefully we can move some of the political calculations in America away from the emotional attachments that so many seem to think necessary to their advocacy. It really is a sorry state of mental affairs when a complex issue is reduced to yes or no positions, which may be good television, but as usual, is poor policy. One guy making money off of illegal immigrants is Lou Dobbs, but whether he is seeking a viable solution or not is beyond me.
Anyway read the article all the way through as it touches on the educational and long term aspects of educating the children of immigrants. The are real impacts, and at this point I don’t have a definable position, other than that those being presented at this point, are not it. Hopefully my two readerrs will think a little bit more about this issue than the politicians and pea sellers seem willing to do, for we poor, short attention spanned televison viewers.

Risk Assesment

McAfee maps malware risk domains via The Register, gives a little heads up on who’s cool and who’s not. McAfee has a free add on for those of you who just can’t part with the bucks.
“A survey of 265 top-level domains by McAfee, dubbed Mapping the Mal Web, revealed large differences in safety from one domain to another. The worst haven for malware belonged to the the tiny Pacific island of Tokelau (.tk), where 10.1 per cent of websites contained dodgy content. The most risky large country domains were Romania (.ro, 5.6 per cent risky sites) and Russia (.ru, 4.5 per cent risky sites). These East European country domains were the most likely to host exploit or “drive-by-download” sites run by hackers.”
In case you’re wondering I’m using italics instead of blockquotes in my posts, and this one has ” as well. Now I’m back to work.

ICANN Report on February’s DNS Attack

The attack launched in February against the domain name service (DNS) root servers targeted six servers but only significantly affected two of the systems, according to a report issued by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Number (ICANN) last week.
You can download the report from there. This is the one that targeted the DoD’s G root server. They wanted this info out there so the General Public would have a better understanding of this stuff, so here it is.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

More on the Labelling of America

Matt Yglesias and Keven Drum both look at the difference between those who define themselves as liberals, or not, and the number of liberal policy positions that they hold, which I think cuts to the chase of what I’ve been saying.
The term is so loaded with connotations that it doesn’t really denote anything anymore, and neither does the term conservative. It may just be lazy thinking on the public’s part, which isn’t anything new either.
Most people don’t have their own opinions, per se, but hold the opinions of those whom they trust. If you’re a dyed in the wool Republican or Democratic Joe Six pack, odds are that you hold the opinions of other peoples thinking as valid thinking, and so those opinions are adopted without too much independent thinking on the issues on your own part.
This is a logical fallacy occurring in most peoples minds, that other people are somehow more qualified due to education or experience to have valid opinions of any particular issue, so the appeal to higher authority occurs, “their smarter than me,” which invariably lends itself to lazy thinking. “This commentator said this and they are this and that, so they must be right.” Throw in a little cultural bias and you have a partisan, and depending on the spin of the bias, you have what we generally call a liberal or conservative. In fact these poor folks are neither one.
I’m not sure that the intertubes can’t provide a way past this if one is willing to use the search engines and a lot of dot edu sites, but reflection on what one has read is also critical to having an independent, personal opinion. I am not sure that most Americans are willing to that, and it’s not because they are incapable of doing so, but because they are generally mentally lazy, or more likely, given the educational system, taught that they are incapable of doing so.
Anti intellectualism is a learned trait, and as such it is a taught trait. It is taught for many diverse reasons, but taught it is, and so many excellent minds excuse themselves with the “I can’t do that,” canard that rewarded them with lack of abusive attention from teachers that couldn’t or wouldn’t teach, for whatever diverse reasons these teachers hold. Perhaps because one is the wrong race, or creed or color, or from the wrong socioeconomic background. But the onus is on the teachers, not the students who fail to learn, or fail to enjoy the learning experience.
In any case, most Americans have many opinions, but very few they can call their own, and very few of them are incapable of rectifying the situation if they so choose to do so. No one likes to be called lazy, so I won’t. But I would ask you to think about it.

Alberto and Karl- When you’re Hot your Hot

Funny how Alberto Gonzales got shifted into the hot seat this week, just as a spotlight began to shine on the White House — and Karl Rove — isn’t it? Not that Gonzales doesn’t deserve a heaping helping of scorn, but let’s step back a moment and contemplate who gives marching orders to whom in the White House pecking order. And who has a history of shifting blame off himself at all costs.
Yeah isn’t it? I remember we used to have Press that would be climbing all over both stories, and more than likely establishing the linkage as well.

Propagandist Extrodinares

Glenn Greenwalds reminds us of the assertions of Misters Kagan and Krystol, which sounds like a bad drug if you think about it.
Via the baby blue blog.
The problem I have with all of this is that no one can assert anything at all about the war, other than it is ongoing, and will have highs and lows for the participants. We will win some, and we will loose some, and in the end a political settlement will end the war, just as General Patraeus has asserted. While I might have more faith in General Petraeus’ generalship, and perhaps the US and Iraqi governments commitment to establishing security in Baghdad, I am not the least bit convinced that he is not too little too late for the military situation.
As Atrios has noted, I can only wonder at the WaPo still using the war and its’ ebb and flows as some sort of rah rah the public relations campaign, other than the fact that they have done so for the last four and half years. That is part of the problem though isn’t it? We are over four years into this thing, and we are still trying to secure the capital of Iraq. But then, shame and honor are two of the least likely traits to be found among the DC elites, but most especially at the Post.

Same As It Never Was

There’s some poll data up at dKos which will be ignored by the Republican’t Party gurus. ( I figure so long as some MOC can’t say Democratic Party, Republican’ts is a pretty accurate description of their English speaking abilities, and their governing skills.)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Clarification of the Previous

Having discussed this verbally with a couple of people with the attendant hand gestures etc, I thought I might as well rip off the ol’ Prof, and use his example,

The traditional Christian understanding of death is that one dies here and goes to heaven, but since the Bible doesn’t say that, it is a traditional view as opposed to a conservative view

which is more of a paraphrase than a direct quotation, but it ought to give a clearer understanding of what I was trying to say in my post earlier.

In this regard we have many traditionally “conservative” and “liberal” positions in politics that are more accurately traditional and non traditional. If one uses AL’s summation, that liberals modify their opinions based on empirical facts and data, then one can be either, or both a conservative and liberal if one is using new empirical data and facts to conserve something, such as the Constitution.

On the other hand, if one were to examine the Presidents signing statements or interpretation of the War Powers he has assumed, one finds him to be non-traditional, and not a conservative at all, since these things go beyond the enumerated powers of the President, under the Constitution. Those who support his assertions on these things, may in fact be very much traditionalists, and ascribe these powers to the President’s essential necessity for conducting the war. These too, are not conservatives either, nor are they liberal, as these assumptions are not based on any empirical data or evidence, and they do not conserve the original intentions of the Constitution, but they are Tradionalists supporting non Traditionalist policies.

So what I’m trying to get at, is that the political equation is far more complex and sublime than we generally acknowledge. It may in fact be these very distinctions that are missed by the MSM/Industrial Media Complex/Press in their reporting on Republican and Democratic policy positions, because those positions may in fact be more traditionalist or non traditionalist, rather than liberal or conservative ones, and so they get hammered by both traditionalists and non traditionalists for misrepresenting their own “liberal” and/or “conservative” positions, positions which are in fact neither.

Links and such

One of the reason this blog sucks is because I don’t have a blog roll. Now you’ll have to come up with another reason, or go read Atrios, and then come up with another reason.

I’ll add more as I get more time. Or I won’t. Around here you never know.

Reflections from the Silence

One of the pluses of being offline has been to have the opportunity to turn the current issues over in my mind, and come to some sort of clarifications of my positions without the influence of the other people’s thoughts and emotions that I have relied on for years, and gather some new ones from a more diverse source, along with a little bit of reading, one book being the Cambridge history of Assyria, which title doesn’t really cover the scope of the book, and puts it in good company with other titles, be they books or political designations.

In thinking about liberalism and conservatism, thanks to a Religion and Ethics course I am monitoring from the UH, it has occur ed to me that some of the distinctions we are failing to make in many issues is whether a position is in fact liberal or merely non-traditionalist, or traditionalist and not really conservatism at all.

I bring this up because of the classic understandings of the words liberal and conservative with which we tend to label positions and people so frequently do not fit the positions and advocacy of those to whom the terms are ascribed.

To be a conservative, and as such conserve something, such as the Constitutional powers enumerated by the founding fathers is fractured in many ways along traditionalist and non traditionalist lines of thinking, so that to hold the second and tenth amendments as being bastions of the conservative movement, and the first and the fourth as those of the liberals thinking, exposes both as being neither conservative or liberal positions at all, but more of traditional and non traditional views of interpreting the Bill of Rights, which may or may not have anything at all to do with liberalism or conservatism as a political philosophy, and more dependent on the individual espousing the various positions.

A couple of issues that come to mind, one the recent confrontation with antiwar advocates and the MOC, exposes something more traditional than liberal, if in fact those professing to be liberals cannot internalize the reality of the Congressional make up, that although giving the Democrats a majority, and the antiwar Democrats a majority within their own caucus, that this does not translate into legislative power to do what is wished for from the antiwar advocates, then there is not really a liberal perspective on their part, and they are using a non tradionalist method guised as liberalism.

I think this is differentiation is more pronounced in the gay rights movement, which is non tradionalist in they same way as the war on drugs and terror is tradionalist, since in these two cases no one is trying to conserve Constitutional principles, nor adjusting their veiws to the empirical evidence that refutes them, but in fact, what we here are personal feeling on things we approve of or disapprove of, for many diverse reasons, none of them having anything to do with the Constitution.

I’ll try and do a better clarification of these things when I have more time, but for the moment I wanted to get this little bit out, since it seems to permeate our politics, religion, economics and culture, without to much fanfare as to the very discernable distinctions of the terms.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Yeah, But Inquiring Minds Want to Know

No big news about the FBI’s snooping without warrants, but

As many as 22 percent of national security letters were not recorded, the audit said. Which leads me to wonder how many of these letters produced information that was passed on to corporate and media friends as favors etc, from the old college days?

Personally I could imagine all sorts of third parties that would be interested in having this kinda of inside line on people that were of interest to themselves and not the government per se. It doesn’t have to be a systemic abuse, just an individual’s abuse of the system.

Something like wheels within wheels, and walls within walls.

Back from the Hack

We’ll see how long it lasts. Right now I am working from a narrowed window which will be opened up slowly as things become a little more steady around here.

The biggest problem was the loose nut on the local keyboard and an over reliance on technology to do what the admin should have been doing, which as I learned in the Navy back in the seventies, complacency kills. Long story short I know more about this OS now than I ever wanted to, but alas not enough, so there will less posting and more researching done on my part.

While there were moments of being pretty POed, for the most part it has been both humbling and educational, things which I needed in spite of whatever rightness there may or may not have been to my views and methodologies. A little thumping is useful once in awhile, ain’t it George?

Sunday, March 4, 2007

What a Month

The current project is finally winding down, and there ought to be some time for other things pretty soon. We’ll see.

Update: I think I would be remiss not to just say what an awesome thing it is to see Bob Woodruff again, and to give him, his wife and children a great big thank you, for sharing their story, highlighting the plights of others in their boat, and reminding us all of our commonality, in both fragility and strength. May God keep you, and bless you.