Thursday, December 27, 2007

Waste and More Waste

So, the Russians are testing an updated ICBM:
A strategic missile known as the RS-24 flew 7,000 km (4350 miles) to hit targets on the Kamchatka peninsula.

Later, a Russian submarine in the Barents Sea launched another new missile, hitting the same test site.

It comes as Russia has again accused the US of ignoring its concerns over a planned US missile defence system.

Washington plans to site anti-missile facilities in central Europe, claiming that it will help defend against any possible future nuclear threat from Iran.

The US missile shield system would see a radar site set up in the Czech Republic and a base in Poland for 10 missile interceptors.

However, speaking in an interview to be published later this week in the Vremya Novostey daily, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it was clear the system is aimed at deterring Russia, rather than Iran.

The US has said that the limited system it proposes could not threaten Russia's own missile arsenal.

The Interfax news agency reported that the RS-24, the missile tested on Tuesday, is capable of carrying at least three nuclear warheads.

Russia says they are able to penetrate any kind of defensive system.
Why do the Russians feel the need of an improved, updated nuclear arsenal? Obviously, I don't know. I can say, however, that under the new, out-in-the-open American imperial system, having more-and-better nukes is the most probable route to respect -- or at least to being left alone -- for any other nation-state.

My supervisors, for reasons of their own, have decided that the debt-drowned ruins of the American economy must pay -- or, rather, must be further indebted -- to build a missile defense system on Eastern European soil. The Russian supervisors, for reasons of their own, are responding by bleeding their own economic jalopy for a no-doubt-costly upgraded ICBM fleet. What a damnable waste. I wonder: could individual Americans and Russians, if allowed to keep their money, find better uses for it? I can't see how they could possibly do any worse than their supervisors are doing.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Great Idea!

So, Herr Gov. Gropinator is publicly toying with the notion of responding to California's current cash crisis by turning some prisoners loose "early."
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is considering the early release of 22,000 inmates from the state's prisons to save hundreds of millions of dollars in an effort to ease California's looming budget crunch.

The idea is one of many that have been presented to the governor by his departmental budget directors, and he has not decided if he likes it or not, Schwarzenegger spokesman Bill Maile said Thursday. But if the plan were to be put into action, it would constitute one of the biggest early releases of prisoners in U.S. history.

"The governor asked his department heads to work with their budget managers to find ways to cut the budget by 10 percent because of the budget crisis we are facing, and this idea was one of many that was floated in reaction to that request," Maile said. "It's not a proposal yet, just an idea."

California has 172,000 inmates incarcerated in 33 institutions. The release of 22,000 offenders would reduce the number of inmates by 12 percent, and potentially save about $250 million a year, sources told The Chronicle.

Only prisoners who are considered low risk because they are nonviolent, not sex offenders and had less than two years left on their sentences would be considered for the early release.


Eric Hickey, a criminology professor at the California State University Fresno, said the concept of releasing prisoners early is not new. He also did not think it was wise.

"A lot of these guys are getting time off already for good behavior, so letting them out even earlier sends a message that we're not serious about being tough on crime," Hickey said. "It's not good policy.

"It's unfair to the victims, and it sends the wrong message."

He noted that the recidivism rate among state prisoners - the rate at which they re-offend and have to go back to prison - runs as high as 75 percent.

"When times get tough, someone always proposes letting prisoners go early," Hickey said.
Well, no need to be unfair to the victims. Instead, why not choose a different set of criteria for selecting prisoners to be freed from the Anal Rape Gulag? How about cutting loose the people whose crimes don't have victims, and aren't really crimes anyway? I have in mind the "controlled substance" offenders. And then -- even though the numbers aren't large, we should be scrupulously fair -- turn loose those convicted of "insider trading." Hey, Ah-nuld, got anybody in the can for practicing any trade -- from doctoring to lawyering to plumbing -- without a government license? Let 'em walk.

The savings should be permanent; just stop imprisoning people for non-crimes. That way, you don't need so many cops, either ... or prosecutors. I can think up some more release categories, I'm sure. But, you know, just get started by turning the stoners and the tweakers loose, and that will be enough to solve your budget problems.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

We're always being told that we owe absolutely everything to the military veterans among us. We're always being told that we're debtors, and that the infinite sum of our indebtedness can never be repaid (although we're always encouraged to keep up the futile repayment effort). The veteran, we're endlessly reminded, has sacrificed endlessly to secure our liberties. To doubt this is considered to be about as close to blasphemy as one gets, in our more or less officially impious society.

I see a short post, on a local pseudolibertarian blog, that tempts me to this blasphemy:
If smoking is to be considered a privilege and not a right, then veterans have earned that privilege. Many veterans had to work in an environment that contained substances far more hazardous than secondhand smoke. The most notorious of these is secondhand lead. Secondhand lead has been known for centuries to cause brain damage, organ failure, paralysis, and death.

Quite a few of these men were not given a choice of whether they wanted to work in that environment. You can quit a civilian job anytime you want. But it's a lot harder to get out of the military than it is to get in. So at least let veteran's clubs smoke.
So, O Guarantors of Our Liberties, if smoking has become "a privilege and not a right," where were you stern & virtuous watchdogs when that happened? For that matter, where are you now -- always apart from lobbying the government for privileges? Either the military does not undertake as its mission the preservation of Americans' liberties, or they don't do a very good job of it. (The evidence strongly indicates that the former is, in fact, the case.)

Ah, those last sentences: "You can quit a civilian job anytime you want. But it's a lot harder to get out of the military than it is to get in. So at least let veteran's clubs smoke." Well, that's one approach, I guess: I can't quit being a soldier, so slip me an extra privilege. Another might be: It's a lot harder to get out of the military than it is to get in. So don't get into the military.

That, however, would be way too libertarian for our Libertarians.

Monday, December 17, 2007

A Retraction

A commenter to the previous post has suggested that "pudgy little freak" is inappropriate as a description of my Congressweasel, and he is correct. (His comment is well worth reading.)

I am troubled by a more-important problem with that post, though. In it, I called for the torture of that person, and that was wrong of me. I could go back and edit the post, but why compound barbarism with dishonesty? Let's use it, just as it is, as a cautionary illustration of the corrosive tendency of our national practice of torture to corrupt the thinking even of its opponents.

I think that a good case can be made against Mr. Souder as a war criminal, and as such he could be tried by some court of competent jurisdiction and punished according to the trial's outcome. Such punishment might include a lengthy term of confinement, or even execution. But it could not justly involve water torture, nor the pulling-out of fingernails; and I should not have suggested such, even in dark humor -- maybe especially not in dark "humor." Mea culpa. I'll try not to do it again.

Friday, December 14, 2007

What's Worse Than a Juiced-Up Professional Jock?

My Congresscritter, that's what. Lots, lots worse.

I suspected it wouldn't take long for Marky-Mark to make himself heard, and it didn't:
If baseball doesn’t voluntarily tighten its anti-drug procedures, Congress will impose new requirements, Rep. Mark Souder, R-3rd, warned Thursday after reading parts of the report that chronicles rampant steroid use among professional players.

Souder, a lifelong fan of baseball, was part of the congressional committee in 2005 that investigated accusations of illegal drug use in the professional sport.

At the time, Souder said he was furious that baseball is abusing its public trust and that drug-using players are setting a bad example for high school and junior high school players. He said that anger hasn’t abated.

Souder said the only surprise in former Sen. George Mitchell’s investigation was the risk some well-known players were willing to take.

“The amazing thing about this report is it’s not just marginal people (who are identified as steroid users). They are people who are in our fantasy baseball teams. I must say, I don’t think a single one of these are my players, even from the last three or four years. I was suspect of a lot of people.

“It’s surprising to me that in this era, with all the scrutiny and supposed testing, stars are still using the substances,” he said. “That shows the desire to continue your stardom – for people like (Roger) Clemens and Andy Pettitte – the desire to recover from your injury and the desperation to make a team will even have you take great risks when scrutiny is higher.”

Souder said if baseball doesn’t adopt Olympic standards about drug use, employ outside investigators, use surprise tests and do it year-round, Congress will enact legislation to require it.

He said the names of current players who show up in Mitchell’s report demonstrate that steroid use isn’t a thing of the past.

“Baseball still has current cleaning up to do,” he said. “Yes, people talk about the ‘home-run era’ and how managers and trainers looked the other way and said the laws were vague. But now what’s their excuse?”
In my ideal world, the torturers of Gitmo and Abu Ghraib and the various secret CIA shops-of-horror would be ordered to release their current victims and concentrate on waterboarding this pudgy little freak who "represents" me in the U.S. House of Representatives. The objective: make him reveal what text of the imaginary U.S. constitution empowers the FedGov to "enact legislation" -- or do any single other accursed thing -- about professional gladiators and what substances they choose to fuel themselves on. This clown obviously knows or cares nothing about the document that he has taken far too many false oaths to defend. But it might be entertaining, admittedly in a perverse way, to see what he'd shriek out in an attempt to halt his "simulated drowning." I'm guessing it would be something about the regulation of interstate commerce. At that point, let's get out the duct tape and pliers, and give him a George Clooney manicure from "Syriana."

I won't watch, though. There's limits to everything.

Friday, December 07, 2007

"I'm Just Like You"

So, the former governor of Massachusetts, Mitt "Double Guantanamo" Romney, delivered a big speech yesterday in which he assured "evangelical Christians and other religious voters that his values matched theirs." Indeed, I am sure that they do -- always assuming that we may define "values" as adopted "positions" and points of pandering.

Gentle reader, perhaps you think I'm skeptical -- dubious, even -- of the Massachusetts Mormon's newfound enthusiasm for the Second Amendment, or his newfound opposition to abortion. You're absolutely correct; I suspect that Mr. Romney's only really deep and unshakable belief is that any available slot at the public trough should be filled by, well, him. All the rest -- all the content of his standard stump speech -- is, I'm reasonably sure, a product of marketing calculations, made carefully by Mr. Romney himself or by his staff. And it seems that Team Romney's calculations are quite similar to those of nearly all the other candidates for the presidential nominations of both Major Brand political machines. The syllables "Is-" and "-lam" can't be separated by more than half a second, at most, from "fas-" and "-cist." "All options" must always be said to be "on the table" with respect to any recalcitrant (i.e., non-Saudi) swarthy regime. Extravagant and eternal pledges of fealty must be made to The Precious (Israel) and repeated, over and over again. The Holy Nine-Eleven must have its ring kissed -- indeed, positively slobbered upon. So what if Romney's a magic-spectacles cultist, and Huckabee's a bloody-minded Baptist socialist, and Fred Thompson's a sketchily-animated corpse with a mother-in-law younger than he is, and Giuliani's a transvestite Klingon, and McCain's a sawed-off psychopath? This crowd is mutually differentiated only by minor style points here and there. They are unanimously careful to touch every base listed above. They are brothers, or at least trailer-park cousins. Without a program, a body just can't hardly tell 'em apart. However, they can be collectively distinguished from the Serious Folk from the other Major Brand by one difference. Democrats all love to talk about Dubya as an inept manager of wars; Republicans prefer to avoid mentioning the Wee Emperor, and are quite good at such avoidance. Otherwise, they're the same. You, O reader, will doubtless have your own estimation of just how cosmically significant that difference might be. Me -- I'm pretty much yawning over it.

Meanwhile, there's amusement in the details:
But showing the fine line he was treading, he promised not to be beholden to church authorities, and devoted the majority of his address to calling for a robust role for religion in public life, declaring there was a common moral heritage across religious lines in the country that he would champion.

“I will take care to separate the affairs of government from any religion, but I will not separate us from the God who gave us liberty,” he said, drawing applause from an audience of about 300 invited guests, which included supporters and religious leaders. “Nor would I separate us from our religious heritage.”
So there you have it: the photogenic "Double Guantanamo" is highly enthusiastic about his beliefs, but there's no need to fret: he won't be taking his marching orders from Salt Lake City. Of course, I already knew that; anyone who is actually allowed to get within Taser range of the Oval Office takes his or her orders directly from Tel Aviv (or, sorry, I guess it's Jerusalem these days, isn't it?). As for "the affairs of government," which actually consist very largely of theft, robbery, and mass murder: they are certainly not currently entangled with any religion this side of Satanism, and I'm sure Mr. Romney won't upset that time-honored arrangement in any important way. Again, he offers reassurance that I don't really need.
While Mr. Romney appeared to be directing his message especially to evangelical voters, the reaction among their leaders was mixed.

Steve Carlson, a board member of the Iowa Christian Alliance and a member of a Pentecostal church in Sioux City, said there was little Mr. Romney could have said today to allay his concerns about Mormon theology and his candidacy.

Mr. Carlson said he had been leaning toward Mr. Huckabee or Fred D. Thompson in large part because of problems he has with Mormonism. The speech, he said, did nothing to change that.

“He didn’t sway me one way or the other,” he said. “I don’t know anything he could have said.”
So, Mr. Carlson has "problems" with Mormonism. I sympathize; I, too, have problems with Mormonism -- the same problems I have with any other false and ugly religious system. But come on, Mr. Carlson: Huckabee? Thompson? Don't such men represent anything that gives you problems? Do you have any problems with the idea of perpetual war overseas, and tyranny, blowback, and economic ruin at home?

I really have no idea how many are in the actual Christian Church -- the people that Jesus knows to be His own -- in America. I'd guess that it's a small fraction of the number sitting in pews on Sunday mornings. I don't doubt, though, that some are simply confused: dazzled by the senseless chaos, misinformation, and propaganda that bombards us from our newspapers and teevee and internets and, God help us, from our pulpits. I simply hope that as many as possible are able to distinguish between the voice of the Good Shepherd and the myriad of other voices that demand our attention ... and obedience.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

'Tis the Season

It's almost December, tomorrow's El Dio del Pavo (The Day of the Turkey, for my fellow gringos), and you know what that means. That means that for the next four weeks or so, as Christmas approaches, much of the world and much of the nominal church will join hands in a collaborative effort to demonstrate just how little Christianity is running around out there.

In our story today, the world is represented by the Lowe's chain of homeowner hells (let's pause to properly credit Dave Barry for that oh-so-apt name). Before we proceed, I have to stop and give the management of Lowe's some mad props for that little apostrophe between the E and the S in their corporate logo. As one of Lynne Truss's passionate groupies, I am touched by that old-school, properly-formed possessive; would that "Walgreens" had done so well! But enough digression; time instead for procession. Let's proceed. The story:
It's green, cone-shaped, and ready to be decorated and lit. But in the Lowe's holiday catalog it's a "Family Tree" not a Christmas tree.

That's put the Mooresville-based home improvement giant at the center of what has become an annual debate over whether retailers should specifically refer to Christmas in their advertisements.

Lowe's 2007 holiday catalog triggered an outcry from the American Family Association, a conservative advocacy group.

Over the years, the association has led boycotts against Wal-Mart and other retailers for using the catchall "happy holidays" in its advertisements and greetings instead of "Merry Christmas."

This year, the association posted an "action alert" on its Web site, asking readers to e-mail Lowe's about how the "family" trees might be offensive to Christians.

Lowe's spokeswoman Karen Cobb said the catalog page's title was an error during the "creative process" and was inconsistent with the company's practice of referring to the trees as Christmas trees. Cobb said the company is redoubling its efforts to proof its catalogs.

"We've apologized for the confusion we created," Cobb said. "It was not our intention to offend anyone."
Christmas is an important observance in the context of the Christian church. After all, without the incarnation of God, you could hardly have His atoning passion and death, nor could you have the crown and capstone of the faith: His resurrection. So it is proper -- indeed, in my view, obligatory -- for Christians to celebrate the incarnation. And if the traditions of the historical church have incorporated some pagan stylistic elements (placing the time of the celebration near the ancient Saturnalia and the winter solstice, decorating with greens), well, so be it; these things are the "shadow" and not the substance, in Paul's sense and meaning from Romans chapter 14. However, I search the Scriptures without success for any hint at all that Christian believers should compel the unbelievers of this world to simulate enthusiasm for the believers' celebration, or to hector those unbelievers to produce that simulated enthusiasm, or even to expect it. What I find in my New Testament is explicitly contrary to this notion; again and again, the believer is told to expect trouble and abuse, ranging from ridicule to torture and death.

So, is Lowe's, that corporate purveyor of "family trees" for "the holidays," dispensing persecution? Don't make me laugh. Persecution means arrests, beatings, imprisonment, confiscation, torture, and execution. To first century Christians, persecution was violent death. For some abstract corporate entity to fail to render some insincere show of respect for my beliefs is ... well, let's just say that if this is as bad as it ever gets for me, I'm either not much of a believer, or I'm living in a rather tranquil time and place. (I'd prefer to assume the latter, if that's OK with everyone.)

I'll interrupt this post with an admission that I have a little bone to pick with Lowe's, too. Mine involves the difficulty of procuring a decent sheet of 3/4-inch BCX plywood at a decent price. But that's for another day ... and the Home Despot is usually just as bad, if not worse.

At His incarnation, my Lord took the form of near-ultimate powerlessness: an infant born to a couple of nobodies in an occupied backwater of the Roman empire. "Gentle Jesus, meek and mild," indeed. Why does so much of His nominal church behave, at this time every year, like a crew of truculent gangbangers, demanding our due respect  from one and all? Must we insist on our props?  Couldn't we try to emulate our master just a little more closely?

I wonder, too, why so many of us buy into the notion that we're supposed to have an emotional relationship with an animated money machine like Lowe's? The American Family Association, after all, is urging us to have a quarrel of some kind with that corporation. There's probably some footsore person manning the register at your local Lowe's store to whom you can relate, and maybe minister, in some personal way. But the corporation ... well, that's what it is. What do we expect? Of course  it's going to do some silly verbal dance that's been carefully optimized to maximize the amount of "holiday" merchandise moved while minimizing the number of customers offended. Is it a good thing? Probably not; how many small, independently-owned "hardware stores" do you see these days? Are most of the alternatives worse? Under our omnipotent thug government, they probably are worse. But we claim we believe that this is a fallen world, dancing to the tune called by its dark Prince. Should we be surprised when unbelievers conduct themselves as such? To me, the real surprise is that most people behave as well as they do. Maybe God really meant it, when He said that His law is written on everyone's heart.

So, what's the alternative? What am I suggesting that Christians do, if they're not filling their hours in e-mailing and boycotting and trying to bully unbelievers into insincere salutes to belief? Well, loving those who vex you is a biblically-recommended sort of pastime. The cultivation of humility is always becoming and appropriate to sinners, such as we. Making merry is good, in and of itself. As for changing the world, well and good; it very much needs changing. But we should keep in mind what the Lord told Paul, in 2 Corinthians chapter 12: His power is perfected in weakness.

Love is subversive.

Servants are revolutionaries.

Amen and amen.

Monday, November 12, 2007

No Shortage of Enemies -- and More to Come

Some things change, and some are constant. As the Land of the Sheep and the Home of the Tased staggers toward one potential novelty -- an out-of-the-closet transvestite emperor -- Rudy/Julie assures the Las Vegas crowd that at least one thing will be familiar: perpetual war.
LAS VEGAS, Nevada (AP) -- Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani mocked his Democratic rivals as impractical, billing himself as a realist on foreign policy with experience at the negotiating table.

Giuliani described Democrats as "falling all over themselves" to negotiate quickly and without preconditions with hostile foreign leaders -- a reference to sparring between Democratic candidates Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton over how best to deal with Iran.

"It's a spectacle of almost begging your enemy to negotiate with you," Giuliani said late Thursday in a speech to donors at a Las Vegas casino. "Democrats don't get it ... I think the big difference in voting for me is you will have as president of the United States a realist who has experience negotiating."
Hmmmm. "Almost begging ..." I wonder how one "almost" begs for negotiation? In WarWorld, any activity other than mass murder seems to constitute appeasement or begging or some other such unmanly conduct. There's no danger of any of that from any of the major-brand, "legitimate" pretenders to the throne, from either side of the duopoly. I don't know how many Iranian enemies I have now; I do know that every "serious" candidate, meaning all of them this side of Mike Gravel or Dennis Kucinich or Ron Paul, is devoted to making sure I have as many enemies as possible. Thanks, guys and girl. Don't know what I'd do without you.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

New to the Blogroll

I've called attention to several of William Norman Grigg's posts at Pro Libertate, and I'm well overdue in permanently linking his blog. He doesn't post every day. But then, I don't even post every week, so I can hardly fault him for that. I recommend him to your attention.

Wouldn't it be nice?

So, the Decider is issuing commands to his wholly-owned Pakistani subsidiary, but has yet to receive prompt and complete obedience. But, as I am informed about yet another place on the other side of the globe convulsed in street violence and police crackdowns, it occurs to me that it would be different -- and good -- not to have to consider what "my" government has done to precipitate the troubles, what it is doing to "manage" them and produce its preferred outcome, and so on and so on. How often does any trouble break out in this world that doesn't vitally concern the Empire?

And we get to pay for it all -- or, rather, to put it on the kids' MasterCard bill. Oh, my aching back.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

What's the Use?

Every time I think I'm going to write a post, I read something like this, and I think, why bother, it's already been said better.

So, as you've probably noticed, I don't.

Seriously, I know it's been slow here. I have my usual stuff to do, and two extra projects in the great outdoors on which I'm frantically trying to beat the weather. If I don't finish in the next week or so, they're apt to not be much fun.

Monday lunchtime update: Another reason for not writing a post: Grace already wrote it. Inadequate as I am, I wouldn't even have known what a "car date" is, although it makes sense in context.

Friday, October 19, 2007

My (Free!) Contribution to the War Effort

In the news: the Legions are recruiting scientific help, presumably to figure out why they hate us.
The US military has developed a new programme known as the Human Terrain System (HTS) to study social groups in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The HTS depends heavily on the co-operation of anthropologists, with their expertise in the study of human beings and their societies.

Steve Fondacaro, a retired special operations colonel overseeing the HTS, is keen to recruit cultural anthropologists.

"Cultural anthropologists are focused on understanding how societies make decisions and how attitudes are formed. They give us the best vision to see the problems through the eyes of the target population," he said.
Well, I guess it's an improvement on "ragheads," but I wonder if Mr. Fondacaro (maybe I can presume to call him "Steve") quite recognizes that he might be sending the wrong signal. Swarthy and non-American though they might be, it still sounds a little odd to refer to people as "human terrain" ... and, given the circumstances, "target population" -- while undoubtedly correct -- is still a bit, ah, tactless, no?

Farther along in the news story is the information that every "social scientist" employed by the Human Terrain System is costing the national MasterCard a yearly $400K. As a service to my fellow citizens tax slaves, I am willing to contribute the following ideas at no charge:

1. People aren't so apt to hate you if you don't kill, torture, imprison, beat, rape, and humiliate their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins -- and selves.

2. People aren't so apt to hate you if you refrain from invading and destroying their countries, for no good reason at all.

3. People aren't so apt to hate you if you don't behave as if the entire world is yours to mismanage.

As I say ... no charge. You're welcome.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

All That Lovely Power, Just Sitting Around

Looks as if the Democratic Congress is about to enhance the government's secret surveillance authority again. Surveillance of us, that is.

What, are they stupid? Come on, these are the civil-libertarian Democrats, who took over in order to clip Dubya's wings, right?

Hear that hollow laughter.

IOZ has provided a useful reminder:
Why, then, do Democrats, in perhaps their most enviable electoral position since the end of the Vietnam war, persist in expanding the secret powers of government over the lives of citizens? Because they want that power.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Thomas Jefferson: Advocate of Treason

This is just another throwaway political news story concerning who's ahead in the big dog race -- who's wearing the Mantle of Inevitability in each of the two caucuses of the Corporatism and War Party. It's just that it's depressing in such a variety of ways.
Giuliani tops Republican funding

Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani has raised $11m (£5.5m) in the past three months, his campaign says, $1m more than rival Mitt Romney. Mr Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, also lent $8.5m to his own campaign. Arizona Senator John McCain will report raising $6m, aides said.

Ron Paul, an anti-war congressman from Texas who has a big internet following but is low in the polls, raised $5.1m.

However, Democratic rivals raised much higher amounts over the same period.

Frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama raised $27m and $20m respectively, their campaigns reported.

The third quarter of the year is traditionally seen as a difficult period in terms of fundraising because it falls over the summer months when many people are on holiday.

But the candidates will now be keen to have as much in the bank as possible as they approach the primary elections starting in January.

Primaries are held to decide which candidate will represent each party in the full presidential election in November 2008.

'Considerable progress'

Mr Giuliani, a former New York mayor, has a reported $16m in reserve for the final push to January's vote.

Mr Giuliani's high fundraising total was a sign that Republicans see him as the candidate most likely to win in November 2008, his campaign manager said.

Mr Romney's latest contribution means he has now put $17.5m of his own money into his campaign this year. He has $9m left in hand for the remaining months.

He reported reaching 23,000 new donors in the third financial quarter, giving him a donor base of about 100,000.

"Our campaign made considerable progress this quarter, expanding Governor Romney's support across the country," said his spokesman, Kevin Madden.

Both candidates saw their fundraising fall from the second quarter, but still outpaced their Republican rivals.

Senator McCain's campaign manager said that despite a drop in funds his candidate's campaign was still on sound financial footing - and gaining momentum in states that vote early in the primary season.

The amount raised by Mr Paul, who has generated a strong buzz on social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook, was more than double his second quarter tally.

Former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson, who only formally announced his candidacy in early September, is expected to report raising over $8m in the past quarter.

All the candidates must officially report cash raised from July to September to the US Federal Election Commission by 15 October.
Consider what we're reminded of here.

First, the story's about money -- and rightly so. No one is going to be elected to the presidency of the Land of the Fleeced and the Home of the Tased based on his or her political philosophy, principles, integrity, or ability to reason. Oh, no. The ultimately-successful product will have been marketed, marketed, and marketed some more; this requires money, money, and more money. We, the government-miseducated consumers, will select the product in the same way we select our beer, prescription drugs, and motor vehicles: driven semiconciously by the rancid brew of fast-moving images and twenty-second (im)morality plays in which the telescreen marinates what's left of our brains.

Secondly, since the cadaverous Fred Thompson is deemed to have fizzled, it certainly looks as if the GOP's Mantle of Inevitability has been officially hung on Mr. Giuliani, the crossdressing tyrant to whom his unfortunate children do not speak. If Mr. Giuliani is to be believed (ha!), he's not likely to be the person appointed to move our former country in the direction of strictly limited, small-R-republican virtue. No, I think it's safe to say that Rudy G. is a friend to our poor deceased Constitution in much the same way that Michael Vick is a friend to losing pit bulls.

Thirdly, Mayor 9/11 isn't going to be president anyway -- because Mrs. Clinton is. Now, part of me wants to find some tiny scrap of comfort in this; if it's clear that the next American Emperor is going to be a wearer of women's clothing and cosmetics, it seems better somehow if this person is licensed by nature to do so. The rational part of me knows, though, that Mrs. Clinton is at least as warlike and authoritarian as anyone from the other caucus. I say "at least" because the only difference is that her sex will compel her to appear even more enthusiastic for mass killing than her (allegedly) male rivals, lest she be accused of softness or some other such disqualifying weakness. The reader may object that Mr. Obama may yet be nominated by the Donkey Caucus, and I concede the possibility, although it does seem to me that Mrs. Clinton has placed a credible claim on Inevitable status at this point. Mr. Obama's nomination would cheer me not at all, though; his devotion to the Imperial consensus of world hegemony and management is also well-established.

To me, this simply underlines -- yet again -- the impossibility of the American national trajectory being changed to any significant degree by the existing political arrangement. Clearly, campaign reform is necessary. Such reform can hardly be expected to come from the various people and institutions that feed like maggots on the rotting corpse of America. Jefferson, I think, referred to the only way -- short of direct divine intervention -- in which things might improve substantially when he said, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Voice -- and Face -- of America

I read a news item somewhere, a few days ago, about some minor Imperial bureaucrat spouting off to some British Members of Parliament about the Iranians. Only later did I see this story, with a photo of the bureaucrat in question.

In the immortal words of Edwin Starr: Good Gawd, y'all!

Here's part of the account of what she / he / it had to say:
Britsh MPs visiting the Pentagon to discuss America's stance on Iran and Iraq were shocked to be told by one of President Bush's senior women officials: "I hate all Iranians."

And she also accused Britain of "dismantling" the Anglo-US-led coalition in Iraq by pulling troops out of Basra too soon.

The all-party group of MPs say Debra Cagan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Coalition Affairs to Defence Secretary Robert Gates, made the comments this month.

The six MPs were taken aback by the hardline approach of the Pentagon and in particular Ms Cagan, one of Mr Bush's foreign policy advisers.

She made it clear that although the US had no plans to attack Iran, it did not rule out doing so if the Iranians ignored warnings not to develop a nuclear bomb.

It was her tone when they met her on September 11 that shocked them most.

The MPs say that at one point she said: "In any case, I hate all Iranians."

Although it was an aside, it was not out of keeping with her general demeanour.

"She seemed more keen on saying she didn't like Iranians than that the US had no plans to attack Iran," said one MP. "She did say there were no plans for an attack but the tone did not fit the words."

Another MP said: "I formed the impression that some in America are looking for an excuse to attack Iran. It was very alarming."

Tory Stuart Graham, who was on the ten-day trip, would not discuss Ms Cagan but said: "It was very sobering to hear from the horse's mouth how the US sees the situation."
I wonder if the Right Honorable Mr. Graham might have mistaken which end of the horse's anatomy he was hearing from.

I'm also wondering something else. Remember how everyone was snickering at Iranian President Ahmadinejad last week when he supposedly said at Columbia that Iran "doesn't have homosexuals like you have them in your country?" Seeing Ms. Cagan's picture suggests that Mr. Ahmadinejad's remarks might have been mistranslated; perhaps he was really trying to say that Iran doesn't have "space aliens getting their freak on" like the ones we have here.

I can't explain it, but I can't help noticing it: there's something about the modern GOP and -- oh, I don't know, how shall I say it? -- the modern GOP and, ah, people with non-traditional lifestyles. Truly, not your father's Republican Party ... unless your father maybe had other unusual interests, too.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Uncle Leo Watch

With Reverent and Free on hiatus, somebody's got to do the dirty work every now and then and look in on Uncle Leo. This time, he's consumed with some sort of Schadenfreude because that-there Eye-rainian Ahmadinejad was allowed to show up for duty at Columbia, playing the role of Goldstein at their Five Minutes' Hate. He's also diagnosed Scott Adams as suffering from the personality disorder "anti-authoritarianism." This comes oddly from a hemi-semi-demi-"libertarian" like Uncle Leo, but never mind. It had probably been at least five minutes since Uncle had a smoke, and that doesn't bring out the best in him.

I recommend you go read Scott Adams's blog piece, dirty words and all. Here's a quick excerpt:
I hate Ahmadinejad for all the same reasons you do. For one thing, he said he wants to "wipe Israel off the map." Scholars tell us the correct translation is more along the lines of wanting a change in Israel's government toward something more democratic, with less gerrymandering. What an ass-muncher!

Ahmadinejad also called the holocaust a "myth." Fuck him! A myth is something a society uses to frame their understanding of their world, and act accordingly. It's not as if the world created a whole new country because of holocaust guilt and gives it a free pass no matter what it does. That's Iranian crazy talk. Ahmadinejad can blow me.

Most insulting is the fact that "myth" implies the holocaust didn't happen. Fuck him for saying that! He also says he won't dispute the historical claims of European scientists. That is obviously the opposite of saying the holocaust didn't happen, which I assume is his way of confusing me. God-damned fucker.

Furthermore, why does an Iranian guy give a speech in his own language except for using the English word "myth"? Aren't there any Iranian words for saying a set of historical facts has achieved an unhealthy level of influence on a specific set of decisions in the present? He's just being an asshole.
Just watch, though -- many newspapers will continue to run "Dilbert." Just more evidence that they hate our freedoms.

Friday, September 21, 2007

House of Wisdom, Room 101

As a Christian, I know how I am expected to react to an item like this one, headlined: U.S. Working to Reshape Iraqi Detainees / Moderate Muslims Enlisted to Steer Adults and Children Away From Insurgency. I should whine a little about how my gummint gets a ludicrous case of the First Amendment vapors over a Bible sitting mutely on a schoolteacher's desk, and then turns around and expends those Public Dollars to teach the approved version of Islam. Why doesn't my government show as much respect for the majority religion in the U.S. as it does for this outlandish heathen suicide-bombing cult, oh woe is me, we're persecuted, blah blah blah.

That's more or less what I feel programmed to write. But today there'll be a small change to our regularly-scheduled programming.

Actually, as I read the news item, I feel sorry for the Muslims, not for myself. They're the ones getting an endorsement from the Imperial minions. Does a boarding kennel regard it as a happy thing to have Michael Vick endorse its services?

Let's read a little:
The U.S. military has introduced "religious enlightenment" and other education programs for Iraqi detainees, some of whom are as young as 11, Marine Maj. Gen. Douglas M. Stone, the commander of U.S. detention facilities in Iraq, said yesterday.

Stone said such efforts, aimed mainly at Iraqis who have been held for more than a year, are intended to "bend them back to our will" and are part of waging war in what he called "the battlefield of the mind." Most of the younger detainees are held in a facility that the military calls the "House of Wisdom."

The religious courses are led by Muslim clerics who "teach out of a moderate doctrine," Stone said, according to the transcript of a conference call he held from Baghdad with a group of defense bloggers. Such schooling "tears apart" the arguments of al-Qaeda, such as "Let's kill innocents," and helps to "bring some of the edge off" the detainees, he said.
Re-education camps: this used to be -- and maybe still is -- common verbal shorthand for the totalitarian nightmare. Ditto for brainwashing, as redolent of North Korea as fermented-cabbage fumes. But here we are, bending them to our will on the battlefield of the mind, in the "House of Wisdom."

Why didn't they go all the way, and call it the "Minstry of Love?"

But who am I to quibble? To borrow the exultant cry of the Minster of the Interior from A Clockwork Orange, "It works!" See here:
Stone described a sort of religious insurgency that occurred at one detention facility on Sept. 2. "We had a compound of moderates for the first time overtake . . . extremists. It's never happened before. Found them, identified them, threw them up against the fence and shaved their frickin' beards off of them. . . . I mean, that is historic."
Ah, yes: frickin' historic.

Ladies and gentlemen: your tax dollars, at work. Don't it just make you proud to be an Amur'kin?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sick and Tired ...

... of being sick and tired.

I try to write here about something on the Great Outside that interests (or, usually, dismays) me. I know It Isn't All About Me. But seriously, folks, I've been sick for a solid week now, and I've had it. It is, as you may have noticed, way too much trouble to even get online, much less write a post. Tonight the fever's back. Screw a whole bunch of going to the day job tomorrow ... I'm going to see Dr. H (or her nurse-practitioner) and try to get me some good dope, so I either get well or cease to care. Shouldn't have gone to work this morning; when I got up, the lung butter I was coughing up was gray, and "that don't seem right."

I can't even work up a little rant about Weasel Dubya and his Democratic enablers. And, to rip off the late Cleavon Little from "Blazing Saddles:" A man cough like that, and he don't even care about Chimpy ... he is gon' to die!

And then, to rip off Gene Wilder: When?


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Don't Give Me an Inch -- I'll Take a Meter, Please

Ah, the clash of stupidities. One sort: using the Imperial system of units ("Satan's units," as I call them when teaching my class), when the SI is readily available. The other sort: using state force and coercion to require people to use any particular system of favored units. The Systeme Internationale (meters, kilograms, seconds) is beautiful and easy to use; it requires no force to convince those who are capable of being reached by reason. Those who refuse to see the metric light: are they not still free? Well, of course they're not free; none of us is. But they, and we, should be.

Monday, September 10, 2007

More of the Same

In yet another exercise in meaninglessness, the Emperor's hirelings are going to make their long-awaited report on the success of the Imperial Surge.

Anyone want to place a small wager? Let's bet on the chances that the minions will say, "The Dread Sovereign's plan was a bad one; we tried, but it didn't work. We should stop now."

Meanwhile, looking at the picture, I wonder about a couple of things. First, what is the source of Bush's mysterious power of making his underlings look like Howdy Doody, too? Look at those guys -- twins separated at birth, by all appearances. Secondly, does Petraeus of the Legions ever wear anything in public besides that set of fatigues? I bet he shows up to give his term paper dressed in exactly that way. Remember the old days, when high-ranking officers used to own neckties? Of course, when your main business is to spin, and sell that spin, I suppose Image is Everything.

And then, there's our Democratic saviors:
Our correspondent says President Bush is hoping the general's more upbeat message on security will be enough to stave off calls for a timeline for a US withdrawal.

Democrats in Congress have long been pushing for a reduction in troop numbers in Iraq.
Democrats in Congress manifestly have zero interest in ending the Iraq war. If they had, they would instantly defund the war and kick off Bush's impeachment. They are doing neither -- nor will they ever.

Update: I apologize. I was wrong about how Petraeus would be dressed when handing in his homework. As you see here, he dressed up like a grownup -- a pleasant surprise, as far as it goes. Which isn't very.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Since I've Been Painting My House ...

... all day, I thought I'd paint this blog a little, too.

The blog certainly is easier to paint than the house.

In other news of little interest to anyone, I attended my first professional football game Thursday evening, as I went to Indianapolis for the Colts' season opener, which was also the NFL's season opener. I doubt that I'd go again -- it's far too costly, and you can see the game much better at home on television -- but it was fun on a one-time basis, and my daughter, who's a rabid #88-jersey-wearing Colts fanatic, was highly excited to go. My voice was useless on Friday, since it turns out that it is the affirmative duty of all Colts supporters to make as much noise as humanly possible whenever the opponents have the ball and line up for a play. But that's OK ... it was a good show, and (of course!) compares quite favorably with painting the house.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Yes, It's All On the Table

One of the qualifications for being a Serious, or Upper-Tier, Candidate for the U.S. presidency is talking about the "table," and what's on it, and what's off it. Mrs. Clinton, for example, is so Serious and Upper-Tier that she is the current presumptive presidential candidate of what is supposed to be the opposition party, and her table has everything on it, with the possible exception of nuclear weapons in Pakistan, depending on which time you believe her. Mr. Giuliani currently leads the pack chasing the booby prize that is the incumbent party's nomination, and it goes without saying that the table of the cross-dressing Mayor Nine-Eleven is likewise fully set.

The "table," of course, is metaphorical. It contains all the actions that the rulers -- or potential rulers -- of the United State are publicly willing to take in furthering their aims. And one option that all Serious Candidates for the presidency agree is the use of nuclear weapons to incinerate large numbers of recalcitrant foreigners. Not just any wogs, of course; the ones whose rulers have nuclear weapons of their own are pretty well immune from mass slaughter. But most of your Ay-rabs and Aferkins and other southern-hemisphere types have rulers who are not so equipped, and are thus very much subject to a good nuking.

So, in view of the "table" and all the jolly things spread out on it, what is any sane and self-respecting Third Worlder to do? It seems to me that there are several possibilities. One is that, perhaps, your land lacks any natural resources coveted by the corporations that pull the strings on United State rulers. If so, those rulers may have no reason to impose their will on you, and you might be allowed to practice water-buffalo-powered agriculture in peace. Another would be to reconcile yourself to jumping whenever you hear an American voice shout "frog!"

Or, you might hope that your rulers are acquiring nuclear weapons of their own. It's true that such weapons are even more useless than most things that rulers buy; they don't put food in any kids' bellies, nor a roof over their heads, nor serve any other positive good. But there is good evidence that they might be expected to keep the Imperial crosshairs off you and your family and your land. Should it surprise us that Iran's rulers might (or might not) be seeking these weapons? After all, we allowed our rulers to set up the incentives; and those incentives say that they'd be crazy not to do their very best to build nukes.

It becomes clearer and clearer, I think, that the incumbent rulers of the U.S. plan to attack Iran; both the volume and the tempo of their war drumming are increasing, and there is one of those all-important anniversaries coming up very soon now. There is no meaningful opposition from the "opposition" party. Most American subjects seem sufficiently preoccupied by other weighty concerns: this one, and this, and this, and that, too.

Many of us seem to suffer from some goofy need for another World War II, the "good war." If that describes you, it may be that I have both some good news and some bad for you. The good news is that perhaps the next more-or-less global war is getting ready to kick off, so you may be able to get some dub-ya dub-ya eye eye thrills. The bad news: this time, we get to be the Krauts, or the Japs, or the Eye-ties, or maybe some war-crimes-liable amalgamation of the three. Yeeee-ha!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Gay Old Party

Alrighty, then ... here's another Values Republican that you just don't want to see in the shower room down at the YMCA when you're trying to wash the sweat off. This one seemingly cruises the airport men's rooms.

My poor ability to comment has long since been exceeded. But, as somebody wrote on a message board that I saw last night: "Does ANYONE in the GOP still have sex with women? I mean, apart from the women, that is."

Don't feel bad, pachyderms. You've still got your war, which you've demonstrated is far more precious to you than anything else. So be happy.

Living the Dream

Well, Gonzo's gone. In keeping with the prevailing ethos in the Bush regime, it's all about him:
“Even my worst days as attorney general have been better than my father’s best days,” Mr. Gonzales said. “I have lived the American dream.”
Yes, he's a lying buffoon, and has served as a quasi-legal mouthpiece for as stinking a group of war criminals and third-rate tyrants as can be imagined. But he seems to imagine that what I need to know is that he's been having a fine time, and that la familia Gonzales is movin' on up. Yeah, whatever. If there were any justice, there'd be a Saddam-style noose waiting for him, right beside the one for his weasel chickenhawk boss.

Opera Report

I'm back from San Antonio, and I've seen my first opera. And, uhhhhh, well ... I hate to go all philistine here, but I think all my future opera-going will involve operas in which I have relatives, or at least good friends, performing. La Boheme is, I know, an excellent work. But it did seem to me that the basic plot is one that would have been rejected by pretty much any soap opera producer. Consider: her name is Lucia, although everyone calls her Mimi, and she doesn't know why. As the final curtain falls, the audience still doesn't know why. She's got a cold. It turns into a bad cold, probably pneumonia, in fact, and she's too weak to reliably negotiate a flight of stairs, but it doesn't seem odd to her to head out with Rodolfo for an evening of hilarity at the Cafe Momus in the middle of the winter. She and Rodolfo aren't getting along, and he says that it's because she's cozying up to Count So-and-So, and we can't tell whether this is true or not ... but then they partially reconcile and seem to settle on a plan whereby they'll stay together until spring so that he can keep her icy little hand warm, but then in the spring, they plan to part, for some crackbrained reason or other. Then she takes to her deathbed and pretty much croaks off anyway, even though Musetta does go and get her a fur muff to put her icy little hands in.

But, of course, the lady in the chorus who was vending oranges from a basket that she toted around did so superbly. (And of course, I'm not saying so merely because she's my sister.) She also showed me the copy of the music that she was given from which to memorize them-there Italian lyrics. There was an English translation provided, which made the lyrics fairly comical. Most of the ladies in the chorus seemed to be tunefully chiding the children in the crowd because they weren't home in bed where they belonged ("such a tidy little beating I will give you!").

I think I'll have a chance to go back for Tosca in the spring. "Another tragedy," says my sister the diva. She thinks it may involve at least one murder. I could look it up, but maybe I'll just let it be a surprise.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

See You All Next Week

I'm headed out, very early Thursday morning, for San Antonio. My big sister's singing in the opera! I'm gonna go see. Gonna get all cultured and everything.

My sister, the diva!

Never Hang 'Em ...

... until you know you're finished with 'em.

A good point by IOZ, via Arthur Silber:
Now Carl Levin, a Democrat, has become the first major politician to publicly propose an idea formerly floated by right-wing war supporters. A coup! My goodness, it's almost as if there's a certain bipartisan foreign policy consensus, grounded in American exceptionalism, committed to imperial aims, that renders any claims that Democrats constitute an opposition ridiculous on their face. The idea here is that somewhere in Iraq there is a Pharaoh who will unite the Upper and Lower Kingdoms. He would speak a language of national unity that would appeal to American domestic necessity. He would be staunchly opposed to Iranian influence. He would be willing in certain circumstances to act as an American proxy in the region. He would be able to train and equip a military that could maintain domestic order and police Iraq's borders. He would be Saddam Hussein, if we hadn't lynched him already. Whoops. Guess we really are screwed, Carl.
One of the many problems with this Empire is that its institutional memory -- at the top, at least -- seems to be no more than six months long. Did someone paint all those great big ornate buildings in Mordor, DC with some of that evil Chinese lead-based paint?

Monday, August 20, 2007

It's That Time of Year

Time for physics, that is! Tonight was the first meeting of the fall 2007 edition of PHYS 218 at IPFW. A new bunch of students ... I'll see some good work and some bad, I'm sure. But right now, I have no idea who's going to be doing what sort.

I'm psyched! I'm ready! Ye-e-e-esssss!!! And it's good to be doing it all again.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Yet Another Way to Support the Troops

I have no idea what the proper blog gloss for a multilayer reference is -- maybe it's a "via" squared? Anyway, Scriptoids points us to The Cunning Realist's elucidation of yet another reason why them damn Iraqis owe us a huge debt of gratitude.

Or owe us something, anyway ...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Noticing the Obvious

Nothing good can come of it -- noticing the obvious, that is:
Learn from the fall of Rome, US warned

By Jeremy Grant in Washington

The US government is on a ‘burning platform’ of unsustainable policies and practices with fiscal deficits, chronic healthcare underfunding, immigration and overseas military commitments threatening a crisis if action is not taken soon, the country’s top government inspector has warned.

David Walker, comptroller general of the US, issued the unusually downbeat assessment of his country’s future in a report that lays out what he called “chilling long-term simulations”.
I suspect that there's a lot that I couldn't agree with Mr. Walker about. Still, though, the man's talking like a grownup about an extraordinarily childish American Empire. I take some rueful and perverse comfort from the thought that things can't continue as they are for much longer.

Local Foolishness, Part 2

"Part 2" looks strange above "Part 1," doesn't it? Bad planning on my part; if part 2 is posted after part 1, it shows up first. I should've remembered.

Speaking of remembering: life is strange; every play that's cast in this county draws from the same short list of actors; and do you remember Ms. Amy Sorrell? The Official First Amendment Martyr? If you live here, you probably do; she's the high-school journalism teacher who, as all right-thinking folk know, was cruelly harassed by the Neanderthals of East Allen County Schools over a small difference in opinion about how a school newspaper should be run, and whether a teacher should be required to teach what she was hired to teach. As it turned out, EACS didn't fire her, as I suspect they should have; instead, they reassigned her to a different high school and a different subject area, for a while at least.

To my surprise, though, Ms. Sorrell will indeed be teaching journalism this school year -- for a different employer: Keystone Schools, which is the former Fort Wayne Christian School. The reason that it's the "former" is that Fort Wayne Christian School, sick with debt, was taken over in what amounted to bankruptcy by a Mr. Don Willis, who is one of Mr. Kelty's two wealthy friends from the post below which should have been the post above, which is where we came in. See? Different play ... same players. Mostly, anyway.

Based on her quote from the news story, Ms. Sorrell may have a brief but intense career at Keystone. Still, as the late Kurt Vonnegut wrote, "It's a full life, and a merry one." I think he was being a little bit sarcastic ... as am I.

Local Foolishness, Part 1

I live in the Fort Wayne (Indiana) area, but not within the city itself. So, I've mostly ignored their upcoming mayoral election -- after all, it's not as if I'm in any danger of voting in the exercise-in-futility, and it's also not as if there were a dog in that fight [pace, Michael Vick] for whom I could cheer. These days, though, it's pretty hard to ignore, if you're within 50 miles or so. It seems that the GOP candidate, Mr. Matthew Kelty, was made to do the perp walk yesterday. Not to go into the (ho, hum!) dreadful details, he was indicted for fraudulent campaign finance reporting, for recklessly commingling funds, and for perjury. What it boils down to is that Mr. Kelty reported having lent money to his own primary campaign, when it turns out that the money that was lent had just been lent to him by a couple of his wealthy friends (or maybe just one of them -- I'm not sure, and seriously don't care).

Now, it seems to me that, especially in the past decade or so, the primary difference between Allen County, Indiana and Cook County, Illinois is simply one of scale. The county of my residence seems to be honeycombed with regulatory boards whose members are relatives of prominent businessfolk being regulated by said boards, with booster campaigns for questionable local projects manned equally by our noble public servants and by the contractors who stand to reap the swag, by those who purchase property on behalf of the city in secret and only afterward even discuss whether the property is objectively worth any significant fraction of the price paid. In short, it stinks like a 'possum that was hit by a car a week ago on a county road in the August heat, swelled up like a leather balloon, and went BANG in the noonday sun.

Mr. Kelty's primary opponent was a fellow who's operated for a long time in this dirty environment, and his general-election opponent is another such. Not that I'm suggesting that Mr. Kelty was a prospective breath-of-fresh-air; my tentative reading of him is an outsider who wants to be an insider, not a principled warrior who's come to lay siege to the Den of Evil. He spoke against the current corrupt boondoggle (Harrison Square, for those who know what that is), but went on to speak favorably of alternative local boondoggles. He seemed to know that private individuals who own bars should be able to decide whether smoking inside such places is congenial or not, but he also vaguely threatened a great cover-it-up crusade against the local mammary bars, something for which I criticized him here. He's said to be "pro-life" ... but if he was getting arrested around here back in 1989-90 with me and others, I don't remember seeing him. In summary: not someone in whom I detect consistent principles that I share.

Still, his current troubles are instructive in a couple of ways. First, I think we're seeing how the corrupt-on-a-small-scale machine in this county 'splains to an outsider that he's going to stay an outsider. If being hauled off to the county lockup in bracelets don't convince youse, Kelty, we might hafta get rough wit' ya, and don't nobody want none-a dat, OK? Secondly, when anyone is charged with "fraudulent campaign finance reporting," or "recklessly commingling funds," we see how far divorced the concepts of "wrong" and "illegal" have become. The idea that the same thief class who are robbing the taxpayers of the county by bulldozing the practically-new existing baseball stadium only to toss up another in a different part of town are accusing someone else of impropriety involving money freely given to him ... well, it boggles the mind.

Be sure to vote, now, you good Fort Wayne takaru. Voting changes things, you know.

Monday, August 13, 2007

What Do Rats Do About Sinking Ships?

They, uh, let's see ... they ... man the pumps? Patch the holes? See that the women and children are safe?

No, it's none of those. I'm trying to remember ...

Oh, that's right! They jump off!

Well, see you later, Turd Blossom. Don't let the doorknob molest your fundament on the way out.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Maybe We Should Rethink This

I seem to recall advertising in the late 1960s for the film "Rosemary's Baby" in which the announcer told us: "There's something wrong with Rosemary's baby ... it's ALIVE."

Well, I see that the nightmare golem that haunts the U.S. Naval Observatory, along with various other undisclosed locations, remains unquiet:
Behind the scenes, however, the president's top aides have been engaged in an intensive internal debate over how to respond to Iran's support for Shiite Muslim groups in Iraq and its nuclear program. Vice President Dick Cheney several weeks ago proposed launching airstrikes at suspected training camps in Iran run by the Quds force, a special unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, according to two U.S. officials who are involved in Iran policy.

The debate has been accompanied by a growing drumbeat of allegations about Iranian meddling in Iraq from U.S. military officers, administration officials and administration allies outside government and in the news media. It isn't clear whether the media campaign is intended to build support for limited military action against Iran, to pressure the Iranians to curb their support for Shiite groups in Iraq or both.
The murderous chickenhawk stirs again. It makes me wonder whether all of today's allegedly miraculous medical technology is really an entirely good idea. Take the pacemaker/defibrillator, for example. If not for that gadget, the world might be a much safer place today.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Revisiting the Days of My Misspent Youth

It's Friday evening ... how about a little soothing and completely nonpolitical musical art? Relax, and enjoy with me one of the very best things that happened in the 1970s ...

Meet the New Boss ... Same As the Old Boss

As if any were needed, more evidence of the bipartisan nature of the War Party:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama found himself embroiled in a new foreign policy flap with rival Hillary Clinton on Thursday, this time over the use of nuclear weapons.

Obama ruled out the use of nuclear weapons to go after al Qaeda or Taliban targets in Afghanistan or Pakistan, prompting Clinton to say presidents never take the nuclear option off the table, and extending their feud over whether Obama has enough experience to be elected president in November 2008.
So, we see that Mrs. Clinton has her imperial bona fides in order: it would clearly be naive and irresponsible to assure anyone that the tasty little morsels of flaming hell we're offering to chuck into Pakistan will be limited to temperatures less than, say, 5000 Kelvins or so. Now let's check in with her chief rival, the post-racial darling of progressives everywhere:
That position came a day after Obama vowed he would be willing to strike al Qaeda targets inside Pakistan with or without the approval of the government of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

Obama struck the tough tone after Clinton accused him of being naive and irresponsible for saying in a debate last week he would be willing to meet without preconditions the leaders of hostile nations Iran, Cuba, Syria, North Korea and Venezuela in his first year in office.

[ ... ]

"If we had actionable intelligence about the existence of high-level al Qaeda targets like Osama bin Laden, Senator Obama would act and is confident that conventional means would be sufficient to take the target down,"
[Obama spokeswoman Jen] Psaki said. "Frankly we're surprised that others would disagree."
Even in the late summer of 2007, Sen. Obama is declaring in public, with great big grownups watching and listening, that he's at least as much a cowboy as Dubya ever pretended to be. Of course, it's a safe bet that he, like Dubya, will "lead" from the rear -- from that cozy little firebase on the Potomac.

Keep in mind that the Conventional Wisdom assures us that one of these appalling clowns will be the forty-fourth president of this used-to-be republic. At this point, it appears likely that either Sen. Clinton or Sen. Obama will oppose the swaggering crossdresser Rudy Giuliani for that office a year from now. And the Conventional Wisdom also tells us that the mushmouthed and cowardly weasel G.W. Bush has probably seen to it that no one who bears the GOP affiliation is likely to be elected to anything more significant than a rural county commission anytime soon. And, even if we grant Gotham's Transvestite Tyrant a realistic chance, then the next Decider will be one of three wannabe warmongers whose "positions" (they have, I am sure, no actual beliefs or convictions) on America's conduct in the world are mutually indistinguishable.

Don't forget: voting changes things. You can't complain if you don't vote. And Santa Claus is comin' to town, too.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Again: the Tail Wags the Dog

Remember Rummy? When the Troops whined, he put 'em in their place:
One soldier, identified by The Associated Press as Army Spc. Thomas Wilson of the 278th Regimental Combat Team, a Tennessee National Guard outfit, asked Rumsfeld why more military combat vehicles were not reinforced for battle conditions.

"Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to uparmor our vehicles?" Wilson asked.

The question prompted cheers from some of the approximately 2,300 troops assembled in the large hangar to hear Rumsfeld deliver a pep talk at what the Pentagon called a town hall meeting.


"As you know, you have to go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you want," Rumsfeld said.

He added, "You can have all the armor in the world on a tank, and it can [still] be blown up."
But, you know, not everyone has the same constraints. American families might have been buying body armor and shipping it to their kin in Iraq, but other soldiers get taken care of:
Senior officials who described the package on Friday said they believed the administration had resolved those concerns, in part by promising Israel $30.4 billion in military aid over the next decade, a significant increase over what Israel has received in the past 10 years.


Security officials in Jerusalem called the increase in military aid "an unusual achievement." They added that the increase was the primary objective during Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's most recent visit to the U.S. last month. "In Olmert's meeting with President Bush in Washington, the president agreed to increase military aid by 25 percent to $3 billion per annum for the next 10 years," one diplomatic source reported.
Hey, I'm sure John Hagee's tickled pink, anyway.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Good Things From Here & There

Via Freedom 4um, a (mercifully) shorter Bush Administration:

= = = = = = = = =

"The Ballad of the Green Berets" is one of the two songs that immediately jump to my mind as being popular targets for lyric substitution (the other is the title song to the ancient TV series "The Beverly Hillbillies"). I recall a "Green Berets" rewrite from the height -- depth? -- of the Clinton years making fun of that whole "don't ask, don't tell" thing (Fighting fairies from the sky / I broke a nail, now I could cry ... ). This week, Grace Nearing passed along an excellent contemporary version. A brief excerpt:
Trained to lie, by Leo Strauss
Trained to lobby Senate and House
In Iraq some men today will die
Not one of them from the A.E.I.

American flags upon their lapel
These are men with wars to sell
One hundred ways to tell a lie
Senior Fellows at the A.E.I.
You'll need to go there for the rest.

= = = = = = = = = =

And the Internet Monk expresses, as he often does so well, something that's occurred to me more than a few times:
Mainline churches….we’re having a moment here.

Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, Disciples of Christ…do you know what I mean? We’re having a moment, and it’s slipping right by.

What moment?

We’re having a moment when thousands of evangelicals are getting a bellyful of the shallow, traditionless, grown up youth group religion that’s taken over their pastor’s head and is eating up their churches.

It’s a moment when people are asking if they want to hear praise bands when they are 70…or if they will even be allowed in the building when they are 70. It’s a moment when the avalanche of contemporary worship choruses has turned into one long indistinquishable commercial buzz. It’s a moment when K-Love is determining what we sing in church and that’s not a good thing.

It’s a moment when some people are wondering if their children will ever know the hymns they knew or will ever actually hold a Bible in their hand at church again. It’s a moment when a lot of people are pretty certain if they hear the words “new,” “purpose” or “seeker” one more time, they may appear on the evening news for an episode of “church rage.”
Well worth your while, if you have any interest in the subject.

= = = = = = = = = =

Update: One of my fellow bloggers from the Fort Wayne area, Robert Rouse, is participating in a "blogathon" to raise money for an organization called the Alliance for Climate Protection. This conflicts me some. On the one hand, I have much admiration for Robert's willingness to get busy and participate according to his convictions, and want to support that. On the other hand, I'm a climate-crisis skeptic, and I don't think I can write a check to the Alliance for Climate Protection, which -- as far as I can tell -- is apt to be lobbying for laws that I would oppose. I think, then, I might propose an alternative to Robert: to make a gift to the Fort Wayne Rescue Mission in honor of his blogging commitment. Meanwhile, why not stop by Left of Centrist and see what Robert's up to ... you may not share my skepticism, in which case you might want to participate a little more directly.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Gingrich for Clown-in-Chief!

Newtie should get some kind of prize for outstanding boob-ery. Hey, we could call it a "booby prize!" Unless that's already been taken, that is. Anyway, you have to give him his props, in a nauseous sort of way, for being able to keep a straight face while delivering himself of crapola like this:
Former House speaker and possible presidential contender Newt Gingrich, speaking Thursday night at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, conjured up images of an Islamic dictatorship in the United States as the consequence of failure in Iraq.

"It isn't about Israel. It isn't about us being in Iraq," Gingrich told about 500 people gathered at the Impact '07 leadership conference at Stabler Arena. "They want to impose their dictatorship on us."

In grim terms, Gingrich described the most severe consequences for women, who he said would not have been allowed to attend the Lehigh conference.

"If you want to be able to drive, to have a job, to have a checkbook; if you don't want to have to wear a veil; if you want to be able to appear in public without a man, you'd better hope our team wins," Gingrich said as he concluded his appearance on the Stabler stage, the first visit to the Lehigh Valley by a potential 2008 White House contender.
Lest you think that the Newtster was subjected to rude horselaughs or showers of past-the-sale-date produce, be assured that the pinhead population were enthused:
Walsh then asked the crowd if they wanted Gingrich to run, and most responded with enthusiastic applause.

Among those cheering was John Hinkle, a Lehigh County Republican committeeman from Upper Milford Township, who said Gingrich is his favorite candidate.

"I think Newt is a very smart man," Hinkle said. "He understands the war on terror."
It is awesome to contemplate the well-deserved pasting that the Elephant Caucus of the War Party is going to take next fall. The only problem is that, in our 1.001-party "system," the Jackass Caucus can't simultaneously take the butt-kicking that it so richly merits.

Oh, well, when the Chinese get tired of financing our clown carnival, it'll all be over anyway.

R&F On Sabbatical

Craig says he's taking an extended break. I'm leaving his link in place. I think this blogging business is like any other bad habit -- most of us say we can quit anytime, but ... I think he'll be back in business rather soon. I hope so, anyway.

West Coast Vegetable Worship Cults: a Full Report

Since Dr. Fever's original research in the late 1970's, the cults seem to have gone underground, or maybe ceased to be altogether. In any case, I found them to have been completely displaced by the Cult of Parking.

At least in the part of LA where I spent my week (El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Torrance), there seem to be at least four automobiles for every spot in which an automobile can possibly be stationary. The inevitable result is that at any particular moment, one of those cars is parked, and the other three are being driven about in search of a place to park. Since my gracious day-job employer rented me a car for the week, I dutifully added to the problem. But I don't suppose things really improved when I went home -- I'm sure someone was driving that Taurus again within a few hours of my surrendering it at the Avis lot. After all, the Avis lot also represents parking, no? So it goes.

It sounds as if I'm just trotting out the SoCal cliches, but in this case, the cliches seem to be substantially correct. Nearly every square meter of the urban South Bay is paved, and it all vibrates with the pulsebeat of marginal insanity. Not that I disliked it -- I like pretty much anything that has its own strong flavor, and LA certainly has that. But it doesn't exactly scream "sustainability."

No need to furrow the brow, though, I think. If it is "unsustainable," then it obviously won't be sustained ... problem solved. And if not, well, I've been wrong before, and can stand to be so again.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

This Week: Even Less Than Usual

If all goes according to plan, I won't be posting anything this week. The day job is sending me to Los Angeles Monday morning, and I'll be returning (I hope!) late Friday.

In my spare time, I'll be doing some follow-up on Dr. Johnny Fever's pioneering research into late-1970s West Coast vegetable-worship cults. I'll make a full report when I return.

Meanwhile, why not pass the time by ghost-riding the whip?

Sounds Good to Me

Poor Mr. Bush. Even his Iraqi sock puppet is getting uppity:
Iraqi prime minister says U.S. troops can go 'anytime they want'

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki shrugged off U.S. doubts of his government's military and political progress Saturday, saying Iraqi forces are capable and American troops can leave "anytime they want."

One of his top aides, meanwhile, accused the United States of embarrassing the Iraqi government by violating human rights and treating his country like an "experiment in a U.S. lab."


Al-Maliki said his government needs "time and effort" to enact the political reforms that Washington seeks -- "particularly since the political process is facing security, economic and services pressures, as well as regional and international interference."

But he said that if necessary, Iraqi police and soldiers could fill the void left by the departure of coalition forces.

"We say in full confidence that we are able, God willing, to take the responsibility completely in running the security file if the international forces withdraw at anytime they want," he said.

One of al-Maliki's close advisers, Shiite lawmaker Hassan al-Suneid, bristled over the American pressure, telling The Associated Press that "the situation looks as if it is an experiment in an American laboratory [judging] whether we succeed or fail."

He sharply criticized the U.S. military, saying it was committing human rights violations and embarrassing the Iraqi government through such tactics as building a wall around Baghdad's Sunni neighborhood of Azamiyah and launching repeated raids on suspected Shiite militiamen in the capital's slum of Sadr City.

He also criticized U.S. overtures to Sunni groups in Anbar and Diyala provinces, encouraging former insurgents to join the fight against al Qaeda in Iraq. "These are gangs of killers," he said.

In addition, he said that al-Maliki has problems with the top U.S. commander, Gen. David Petraeus, who he said works along a "purely American vision."
With even U.S. puppets talking this way, how can the continued U.S. presence in the miserable rubble of Iraq be seen as anything but a colonial occupation?

On second thought, that's a purely idle question. There's no reasonable way to see what we've done for the last fifteen-plus years as anything except imperialism. The great American public will continue to view this adventure in the same way it's viewed all the others: a too-generous bequest of duh-mocracy on our recalcitrant, ungrateful, and primitive "little brown brothers."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Go, Cindy, Go!

She's not a part of my orthodoxy (neither is anyone else, really), but you've gotta love Cindy Sheehan. She's not part of the "progressive" orthodoxy of Democratic party discipline, either, God love her. Via, here's an excerpt from her on DailyKos:
I truly understand the not so supportive people, though, because I have been in their shoes. Here in the USA most of us put our faith in a two-party system that has failed peace and justice consistently and repeatedly. The Republicans do not have a monopoly on the culture of corruption (although BushCo have elevated it to policy status) and the way we do politics in this country needs a serious shake up when all we the people are getting is a shake down. I was frightened out of ever voting for a third party, or independent candidate, but voting out of fear is one of the things that bestowed the Bush Crime Mob upon us and may give us the Republican in actuality, if not in name, Hillary Clinton.

I was a life-long Democrat only because the choices were limited. The Democrats are the party of slavery and were the party that started every war in the 20th Century except the other Bush debacle. The Federal Reserve, permanent federal (and unconstitutional) income taxes, Japanese concentration camps and, not one, but two atom bombs dropped on the innocent citizens of Japan were brought to us via the Democrats. Don’t tell me the Democrats are our “saviors” because I am not buying it especially after they bought and purchased more caskets and more devastating pain when they financed and co-facilitated more of George’s abysmal occupation and they are allowing a melt down of our representative Republic by allowing the evils of the executive branch to continue unrestrained by their silent complicity. Good change has happened during Democratic regimes, but as in the civil rights and union movements, the positive changes occurred because of the people not the politicians.

I have nothing personally against Nancy and have found our previous interactions very pleasant but being “against” the occupation of Iraq means ending it by ending the funding and preventing future illegal wars of aggression by holding BushCo accountable. Words have to be backed up by action and if they aren’t they are as empty as Cheney’s conscience.
Well, they're not being backed by action, they're not going to be, and they are indeed as empty as Cheney's conscience. Actually, that's not just "empty" -- that's nonexistent.

A Parting Gift From the Bushies?

William Norman Grigg has a fine piece posted at Lew Rockwell today. I urge you to have a look at the whole thing. Here's an excerpt:
Just weeks ago, Arkansas Republican chairman Dennis Milligan, who describes himself as “150 percent” behind Bush and his Iraq war, said in an on-the-record interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: “At the end of the day, I believe fully the president is doing the right thing, and I think all we need is some attacks on American soil like we had on [Sept. 11, 2001], and the naysayers will come around very quickly to appreciate not only the commitment for President Bush, but the sacrifice that has been made by men and women to protect this country.”

Both of those abhorrent comments are riffs on a familiar Rovian theme: Vote Republican and support the Dear Leader, or die. Speaking of Rove: In the current issue of
American Spectator, conservative actor and economist Ben Stein, a long-time war supporter who now considers the Iraq venture to be “an unmitigated disaster,” describes a recent dinner at Rove's house with GOP adviser Aram Bakshian. Both Rove and Bakshian were “very upbeat about the GOP and the war,” which to minds as cynical as my own suggests that something Santorum would consider usefully “unfortunate” may soon transpire.

People like Santorum and Milligan (and Dana Rohrabacher, the stupidest consequential public figure not named Bush or Hannity) ache for disaster. They pant after it with vulgar, undisguised lust. They are tremulous with unconsummated desire for validation in the form of dead Americans and ruined cities.

Revolting and vile as this is, it is not unique. In fact, these repellent people are firmly and squarely in the interventionist tradition of American politics, in which cheerfully anticipating the death of Americans has a long and venerable history.
As I say, reading the whole thing is recommended.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Or, You Could Try Something Else ...

I see in today's paper that my alma mater is furrowing its collective brow about how to handle its misbehaving gladiators. As usual, the simplest way of solving the problem is escaping any consideration whatsoever: eliminate scholarship sports. Eliminate all the big-ticket, semi-pro sports (the football, basketball, etc.). Eliminate the "athletic scholarship" -- surely a contradiction in terms.

Another Purdue graduate who's a member of the IU faculty, Murray Sperber, made the case in much detail some years ago, in his excellent book, Beer and Circus. Not only do we have "students" in the universities who have no business being there, who would not be there in a sane world, and who -- in nearly all cases -- derive no lasting benefit from their stay ... we also undermine the educational mission to all undergraduates.

All right, so athletic competition does offer some actual benefits to those who participate. There's no need to prostitute the university as a whole to obtain those modest benefits. I'll use myself as an example: I participated in crew (rowing) at Purdue in the mid-'70s. It was a "club sport," which means that it was essentially revenue-neutral: each of us paid for his own racing jersey, betting shirts, sweats, etc. Our coach was an extremely part-time grad student who had been an oarsman himself. We trained in the normal recreational gymnasium, alongside our fellow "normal" (more or less) students, during normal hours. And, it goes without saying, none of us had a scholarship -- not even the one guy who had a decent chance of making the national team.

But no, my old school will stay on the athletic treadmill, and wonder how to handle their Jocks Behaving Badly. They'll probably also continue to send me the occasional letter, asking for money. Well, they obviously have plenty of that as it is ... no need for any of mine.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Vibrant, Man, Vibrant

Don't laugh, dammit! Harrison Square is going to Turn Downtown Around in the Fort! And Mariott will help!
A Courtyard by Marriott hotel will anchor the $130 million Harrison Square development.

Mayor Graham Richard on Thursday announced the brand of the new downtown hotel. While the hotel brand is a step below what city officials coveted, Richard said the Courtyard will be a quality hotel and provide the financial support needed for the rest of Harrison Square.

Besides a hotel, Harrison Square includes a parking garage, condominiums, retail and a city-owned baseball stadium southwest of the corner of Jefferson Boulevard and Harrison Street.
So, will it be next month, maybe, when we see our dynamic leaders explaining to us that the new Motel 6 that will be anchoring our hopes for the future is a really, really good deal? Why, it'll have an ice machine in every hallway, you betcha!

Really, I shouldn't laugh. Just look at the existing "Courtyard by Marriott" up at Lima and Washington Center. It's revitalized the whole area. Now, there's a BP station, a McDonald's, Golden China, a Cracker Barrel, Gordon Food Service, and ... (insert drum roll here) ... Kaysan's Fifth Down!!!

So: the Courtyard by Marriott is a step below what city officials "coveted." Why is it that reading the news in this corruption-riddled burg makes me feel the need of a shower? One thing that Fort Wayne city officials are unquestionably good at is coveting, no doubt about it.

Finally, our booster "newspaper" needs to pay a little attention to its copy-editing function. What's this "baseball stadium" crap? That doesn't sound all warm & friendly. That sounds all cold & concrete, just like that "Memorial Stadium" that we're still paying for -- the one that's all of fifteen years old and completely worn out, yessir. Get it right, Journal-Gazette -- it's "ballpark." Yes, ballpark. Write it five hundred times on the chalkboard before you get to go home for the weekend. "The preferred nomenclature is 'ballpark,' Dude."

UPDATE: Grace has just alerted me that Marriott is all sorts of a major purveyor of pornography! I guess we'll be able to head down to Harrison Square for a little mini-vacation featuring Wizards baseball, vibrant night life, and feeelthy movies. Now the "coveting" connection is becoming clearer ... Mayor Richard, you dirty, dirty boy, you!