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 Antiwar.com, 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!

Hoosiers and Buckeyes and Fireworks -- Oh, My!

This is always an interesting time of the year to look at local news, just to see items like this one:
3 slain in Ohio dispute over fireworks
2 jailed in separate Indiana blast; 4 hurt
Associated Press

CLEVELAND – A neighbor apparently angry about fireworks at a noisy Fourth of July party shot three people to death early Thursday and wounded two others, police said.

Terrance Hough Jr., a 35-year-old off-duty firefighter, was arrested in connection with the shootings, police spokesman Lt. Thomas Stacho said.


Meanwhile, in West Terre Haute, Ind., two men were jailed on criminal recklessness charges after chunks of concrete from an exploding homemade firework tore through a mobile home park and injured four people in a vehicle, authorities said.

Witnesses said the firework – which consisted of a concrete block, mortar shells and gasoline – exploded late Tuesday and sent concrete pieces flying as far as 50 feet. Three children inside a nearby sport utility vehicle suffered cuts and scrapes and a woman with them suffered leg injuries, Sugar Creek Fire Department Chief Jim Holbert said.

Meanwhile, a two-story farmhouse near Kokomo was gutted by a blaze that started when fireworks stored inside were set off by the embers from a lit firework, an investigator said.

Holbert said the West Terre Haute explosion happened on a patch of ground between two homes – and at least six were damaged in the blast.

“Chunks of concrete went through the trailers and windows, just a lot of damage,” Holbert said.

Police arrested Chris Smock, 29, and Cody Tryon, 18, on charges of criminal recklessness in connection with the explosion. They were being held Thursday in the Vigo County Jail and also face public intoxication charges, a jail official said.

State Fire Marshal Roger Johnson called the firework a “recipe for disaster.”

“I can assure you the fact that no one was killed is just amazing because it was set off in a heavily populated area,” he said.

The house fire in a rural area north of Kokomo grew Wednesday afternoon from fireworks that homeowner Lester Beachy said his sons were given at a Marion shop where they worked. Beachy said one of his sons suffered burns to his hand, arm and both feet.

Galveston Fire Department investigator Brian Elson blamed the blaze on carelessness.

“A young male adult was standing in the door when he tried to throw a lit firework outside. The firework went outside, but embers blew back in,” Elson said. “That caused the others to go off.”
I guess we'd have to say that today's news makes the Buckeyes look serious -- downright murderous, perhaps -- while the Hoosiers are coming off with more of your innocent-buffoon charm. I think anyone having any familiarity with the cosmopolitan community of West Terre Haute will have no trouble believing that a classic hold-my-beer-and-watch-this redneck maneuver was committed in a trailer park (one of the many trailer parks, one need hardly add). As for the Kokomo deal: call me cynical, but that doesn't sound like the whole story to me. That sounds more like what they agreed to tell the "local authorities."

Well, all right, July 4th comes but once a year. It lasts about two weeks, but it's only once a year. Carry on, neighbors, carry on.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Equal Protection, and Other Fictions

I suppose the Big News today is the Emperor's commutation of the prison sentence of one Irving L. Libby. I dare say this will cause an outburst of major-brand partisan outrage or rejoicing: depending, of course, on which major brand one is hearing from. As one who lacks a dog in this particular fight, I decline to get all excited. A few thoughts do occur to me, though.

(1) I don't suppose Mr. Libby was in much danger of being confined in one of the gubmint's anal-rape gulags anyway. However, it now seems certain that he won't have that particular experience, and I'm glad that he won't. I only wish that the many thousands of other Americans who are entering gubmint confinement this week could be likewise assured that they won't be the recipients of forced sodomy. Unlike Mr. Libby, they're not so well supplied with powerful friends and sponsors.

(2) One does have to wonder about such Latin things as cui bono? and quid pro quo. Obviously, I don't know if Mr. Libby's protection of da Veep, and maybe da Prez, was delivered under some verbal agreement like "I don't go to jail ... because, if I do, I'm going to have a lot to say." But if there was an arrangement like that in place, then there's a near-perfect identity between what you'd expect to happen, and what did just happen. I'm just sayin' ...

(3) It's difficult to avoid some "two Americas" thoughts here. Regardless of which major brand they're associated with, the probability of anyone who has appropriate connections in Mordor-on-the-Potomac actually being subjected to the same wrath of the law that schmucks like you or I could expect is ... well, very small. When the famous "bottom line" is encountered, the supervisory class can usually be relied upon to recognize -- and take care of -- its own.