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.