Monday, January 30, 2006


I was struck by this headline / byline from FoxNews on the 29th:

“Tug-of-War in Iraq - Five car bombs explode in 20 minutes”,2933,183114,00.html

Tug-of-war? That sounds a lot more like civil war to me…

But who am I to argue with “fair and balanced”???


Tim Eyman, Washington’s poster child for the Peter Principle, set himself to prove he’s reached his “Peter Level:”


“Eyman Set To File Measure To Repeal Gay Rights Bill”

When it was just pocketbook issues, Eyman made sense. His first initiative campaign, IMO, served a useful function. Since then, it’s just been a long slide toward idiot – which is where he has arrived.

Tim, shut up… Before you get beaten to goo by an enraged mob of bull-dykes…

Wait a minute… That doesn’t sound so bad…

Keep yakkin’, Timmy…


Harry Esteve of The Oregonian relates comments made by the Governor of Oregon:

Conduct of Iraq war troubles Kulongoski …the governor laments that the conflict's burden is being carried by a "small group"”

“The heavy human toll of the war in Iraq hasn't hit home to most Americans because it is "being borne by a very, very small group," said Gov. Ted Kulongoski, who has attended more than 50 funerals of slain service members.”

“"You know what's wrong with this? When this country goes to war, all of us -- each and every one of us -- should be part of the sacrifice," Kulongoski said, bringing up food rationing and scrimping materials during World War II. "This is not a war of shared sacrifice."”

Interesting. When Joel Stein opined in “Warriors and Wusses”,0,4137172.column?coll=la-news-comment-opinions

“The real purpose of those ribbons is to ease some of the guilt we feel for voting to send them to war and then making absolutely no sacrifices other than enduring two Wolf Blitzer shows a day.”

He was trashed by every neoconservative agitator from Michelle Malkin on down.

We’ll see if they have similar venom for the Governor…

Bring back the draft. We’ll need it when we invade Iran…

Bring back the draft. Then we’ll see what America really thinks of these mad foreign adventures…


The fallout continues over last week’s victory in Palestine of the Hamas party:

“Rice Urges Nations to Cut Off Hamas Aid”

"there is a fundamental contradiction between armed group and militia activities and the building of a democratic state."

Really, Dr. Rice… What do you think George Washington would say about that??? Or David Ben-Gurion???

Oh well. It will look great on the tombstone of Israel…

Stupid, stupid, stupid. We do everything possible to encourage this electoral process and then repudiate the result. Just as in the case of the Damadola murders, we reserve the right to arbitrarily abandon our “principles” any time it suits the agenda of the current, temporary occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

I know what Hamas has done, what it has been accused of, and what it has advocated.

Has – past tense. I don’t give a rat’s ass what they did. I want to know what they will do. And I’m damn sure of this: If we want tomorrow to look like yesterday, Rice’s asinine attitude is the way to insure it. There is one slim chance – and one only. As Jimmy Carter suggested last week, we have to hope mainstreaming will promote moderation of Hamas.

Instead, we make it impossible for moderation to prevail. If they cave in now, it looks like a kowtow to the conqueror. If they don’t, and the West turns its back on Palestine, that affirms everything Hamas ever stood for, every ugly charge they ever hurled at “US.”

Those of you who really want to see Israel survive – not just long enough to be destroyed playing a role in a second-coming fantasy, but really survive – better get a handle on your leaders. Israel is doomed by geography and demography unless a way can be found to turn its enemies – who outnumber it a hundred to one – into friends.

Fail to turn Hamas’ victory into a win for all and you guarantee that will never happen.

Which will suit Pat Robertson and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but not Israel’s next generation…

Saturday, January 28, 2006


VIA Drudge, we have a link to Spiegel Magazine:

“Spiegel Interview With Steven Spielberg

"I Would Die For Israel"”,1518,397378,00.html

The subject, as expected, is Spielberg’s new movie, “Munich.”

Within the original article are two more must read links. The first is a rather long analysis by Spiegel, kind of a Munich, then and now work. Very interesting if a bit tedious:

“The Morality of Revenge”,1518,397183,00.html

Then there is an editorial from Spiegel, September11, 1972:

“The Worst Night in the History of the Federal Republic”,1518,397370,00.html

I don’t follow movies, so this intellectual tempest snuck up on me. I realized Spielberg is Jewish, of course. Reading the original article, I’m struck by how much I agree with someone who “would die for Israel” – something I certainly wouldn’t do.

From the article:

“SPIEGEL:… You have been called a blind pacifist, even a traitor to the cause of Israel.

Spielberg: Fortunately, the people who write that kind of thing are a small but very loud minority. It saddens me to see how narrow-minded and dogmatic some of the right-wing fundamentalists here in the USA are.

SPIEGEL: The main charge against "Munich" is political or, if you wish, ideological: you are accused of morally equating the Palestinian terrorists with their Israeli pursuers.

Spielberg: That is utter nonsense. Those critics are behaving as if we all had no moral compass. Naturally, it is a terrible, despicable crime when, as in Munich, people are taken hostage, people are killed. But probing the motives of those responsible and showing that they are also individuals with families and have their own story does not excuse what they did. Wanting to understand the background to a murder doesn't mean you accept it. To understand does not mean to forgive. Understanding has nothing to do with being soft; it is a brave and very robust attitude to take.

SPIEGEL: Your opponents say that you "humanize" terror.

Spielberg: Do these critics really mean that terrorists are not human beings? I try not to demonize them. Again, this has absolutely nothing to with relativizing their acts or sympathizing with them.”


I think I’ll be doing something I haven’t done since Jurassic Park: Buy a Spielberg movie.  

Friday, January 27, 2006


VIA FoxNews we have another jewel from Anne Coulter:

“Coulter Jokes About Poisoning Supreme Court Justice”,2933,183006,00.html

Quoth the Witch: “We need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice Stevens' creme brulee. That's just a joke, for you in the media.”

Sure it is… A liberal would get a ride in a Secret Service car over a crack like that…

I have to wonder: Is she Pat Robertson’s bastard? And where was that abortionist when society so needed him?


For the worst nightmare file:

The New York Sun recounts assertions laid out in a new book written by a former Iraqi General:

“Iraq's WMD Secreted in Syria, Sada Says”

The book, “Saddam’s Secrets,” was written by Georges Sada, who according to The Sun was Saddam’s #2 man in the air force, even though he was a Christian and wasn’t a Baathist.

This has been one of my darker muses – that they really did have some small program kept secret, and that it was sent out of Iraq… Over three years ago.

A few critical questions for the touring writer and his publicists…

First, I assume Sada wasn’t a member of the deck of cards shitlist. But certainly we was interrogated, and later kept track of. The article states his information is second-hand, presumably acquired after the invasion. Why didn’t he contact the Occupational Authority?

Or did he? If he did, one is left assuming he brought no new, actionable information to the table. Or at least hoping…

No, if GWB had a Syrian bull’s-eye to aim at, he’d pull the trigger. So we’re probably left with one more account that points the way to at best a cold trail and at worst a dead end. Either way, 56 cargo flights and a ground convoy could move a lot of material.

And “we the people” are left with the question: If the weapons existed, where are they now? Hidden in Syria? Or spread around the world???

If our government knows, this is one secret they seem to be able to keep…


An amusing headline typo??? From Drudge:

STUDY: New Orleans Could Love 80% of Black Population...

Are you trying to tell us something, Matt?


The first, but likely not the last, unanticipated consequence of Washington State’s new smoking ban is the topic of Jake Ellison’s report this morning in the Seattle P-I:

The smoking ban: No ifs or ands ... but plenty of butts”

It seems those selfish smokers are tossing their butts on the sidewalks!

You know, there is only one thing to do: We need another law. In fact, not just a law, but an entire legal initiative! A campaign!

First, we need butt tracking.

We need to coerce the tobacco industry. Cigarettes need to be numbered – registered, even! Individual cigarettes need tracking ID’s, complete with barcodes. Oh sure, it’ll cost Big Tobacco a few bucks to set up, but they are so used to being economically sodomized that by now they like it. They’ll go along. After all, they can pass the cost to the customers. Smokers are addicts, and will pay anything for a fix…

Of course, retailers will have to track the sales of cigarettes, and keep records going back at least a year. The State should set up a system so smokers – for a suitably large fee – can get special “pariah” ID’s decorated with a skull and crossbones which retailers can scan. All the data will be uploaded to a special “air offender” database.

Then we need to crack down on the “butt-heads” who are the cause of all this trouble.

We need to vigorously enforce the littering laws. We need a new, bigger fine just for butts – it will be necessary to pay for the army of butt cops equipped with barcode readers. We’ll need new holding facilities – smoke free, of course. And special courts for raking in the dough.

And then we need to get tough on those miscreants who help teens smoke, whether it’s intentional or not. Any time someone under 18 is caught smoking, the cigarette will be tracked back through the database to the purchaser. I think jail time is in order for this offense, even if you’re just a store clerk who accepted a bad ID.

Of course, this will be a “three strikes” offense… Those things are deadly weapons, you know…

Speaking of criminal offences, we’ll need to make defacing a cigarette barcode in any way a felony…

We need to get tough on the butts themselves. With all the nasty chemicals they contain, butts don’t belong in an ordinary landfill. We need a new hazardous waste designation just for butts, complete with mandatory collection and cradle to grave tracking. We’ll need a special new disposal facility…

Finally, we can’t ignore the most important item: A butt tax to pay for it all. As it is, we’re taxing the cigarettes, but the butts get a bye. That just isn’t right.

After all, there is a war on, and tobacco is the enemy! Onward, smoking NAZIS!!!


We have some good news today from AP. Joshua Goodman reports:

“Colombia Busts Ring Linked to al-Qaida”

Drugs? Money laundering?

No, bad news: Passports.

“Colombia has dismantled a false passport ring with links to al-Qaida and Hamas militants. The gang allegedly supplied an unknown number of citizens from Pakistan, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and other countries with false passports and Colombian nationality without them ever stepping foot in the country, the attorney general's office said in a written statement. The counterfeited passports were then used to facilitate their entry into the United States and Europe.”

Worse news:

“Authorities first suspected the existence of a criminal gang in 2002, when three Iraqi citizens were captured entering Colombia on false Israeli passports, the attorney general's statement said.”

Three years at least. How many years before? How many “new” identities? How many of those people are now in the US or Europe?

Let’s hope “we” don’t find out the hard way.


And now from the shallow end of the gene pool…

NewsMax Reports:

“Incursions Spark Tension on U.S.-Mexico Border”

“Armed Mexican government personnel made five unauthorized incursions into the U.S. in the last three months of 2005”…

I’m not making light of the border mess, but really, I can’t see the point to their “Enquirer” style of sensationalism…

First point: By their own numbers this is business as usual. NewsMonkey tallies 231 incidents in ten years; there “should” be five or six incidents per quarter…

A bit of the usual:

NewsMonkey refers to an incident involving a black 2006 Cadillac Escalade loaded with nearly 1,500 pounds of marijuana, was abandoned near the border…a Mexican military Humvee – equipped with a .50-caliber machine gun –and two other vehicles, one of which became stuck:

According to Hudspeth County Sheriff Arvin West: “Mexican soldiers and civilians began unloading marijuana from the stranded vehicle. About 20 Mexican personnel in military uniforms, with insignias on their caps, pointed automatic rifles at about half a dozen sheriff's deputies and state troopers.

"They were daring my guys to make a move"…

Three-quarters of a ton of weed worth??? How much weed made it back home?

And a “military” Humvee. I wonder: Does the US have Humvees on the border?

When are “we” going to face reality: The war on drugs is lost! It was a damnfool idea in the first place; all it’s ever done is enrich black-market entrepreneurs and pliable public officials: These petty scofflaws running the border could have been either or both. There is a huge amount of money to be made here, and economic systems treat unrealized opportunities the way nature treats a vacuum.

Check this out: FoxNews reports

“Authorities Find 'Massive' Border Tunnel Full of Pot”,2933,182897,00.html

Almost half a mile long. Somebody put a lot of work into this. Two tons of weed worth???

Huge for profit criminal ventures undoubtedly reaping equally huge profits.

And bet your last peso it isn’t always big dealers…

Mexican Nationals have many reasons for entering the US. Some of those reasons make doing so illegally more attractive. If you are a day laborer, a young man seeking his fortune, you can make your trip north to pick fruit extra profitable if you bring a profitable commodity with you. Or you can carry somebody else’s stuff.

A personal tale: Years ago when I worked Christmas tree harvests, I knew of people who did this. They would cross the border in the spring or summer with drugs, maybe work in Texas or California, come north to Washington for the fruit harvests, then cross the Cascades and work the trees, after which they went home. Their stash was their grubstake, and a sure ticket to popularity when they arrived…

The point being it’s profitable, from one end to the other. Take the profit out of it – or more accurately, divert the profit via taxation of a legal commodity – and suddenly a big part of the reason to run the border goes away, and maybe a bunch of the running goes too.

It makes more sense than a border war…


John Kerry has come up with an excellent reason not to vote for Samuel Alito:

VIA WorldNetDaily:

“Kerry: Reject Alito 'cause Coulter likes him”

The neoconservative’s version of Um Nidal has opined “Republicans need to nominate a person who 'wake[s] up every morning . . . chortling about how much his latest opinion will tick off the left.”

Good enough reason for me. Personally, I’d follow the advice of the real Um Nidal, better known as the recently elected Palestinian representative Mariam Farahat, before Coulter’s.

After all, they both yearn for the same thing: A theocracy. But Farahat is honest enough to admit it, whereas bitch Coulter isn’t…

Thursday, January 26, 2006


You will have to read this to believe it…

Now remember, this is a liberal blogging on a liberal website:

VIA Huffington Post Earl Ofari Hutchinson blogs

“Why So Many Blacks Fear Illegal Immigrants, Pt.1”

I guess it’s OK if you’re black enough. I know what would happen to a white man who suggested, in effect, “Whites fear illegal immigration from Mexico because Hispanics take jobs away from whites that whites don’t want anyway”…

That’s the gist of it. In the author’s own words…

“there is no concrete evidence that the majority of employers hire Latinos at low-end jobs and exclude blacks from them solely because of their race… Despite a recent flurry of lawsuits and settlements by blacks against and with major employers for alleged racial favoritism toward Hispanic workers, employers vehemently deny that they shun blacks, and maintain that blacks don't apply for these jobs. …These aren't just flimsy covers for discrimination. Many blacks will no longer work the low skilled, menial factory, restaurant, and custodial jobs that in decades past they filled. The pay is too low, the work too hard, and the indignities too great. On the other hand, those blacks that seek these jobs are often given a quick brush off by employers. The subtle message is that blacks won't be hired, even if they do apply. An entire category of jobs at the bottom rung of American industry has been clearly marked as "Latino only" jobs. That further deepens suspicion and resentment among blacks that illegal immigration is to blame for the economic misery of poor blacks.”

Unless you view the world through race-colored glasses, you will see that illegal immigrants take jobs away from the least qualified, irrespective of their race.

But then if you wear race-colored glasses, everything is a race issue…


Oppressed schoolboys, that is…

The Boston Globe’s Tracy Jan reports on a recently filed discrimination complaint:

“Schoolboy's bias suit Argues system is favoring girls”

Based on the information offered, I’d have to say the complaint has merit. On disparate outcomes alone the complaint is as strong as many race or gender related complaints successfully pursued in other jurisdictions. Of course, those actions were undertaken on the behalf of really oppressed minorities…For example… almost anybody except a white male…

In my neck of the woods the schools have become severely pussywhipped. Considering one specific of the claim – students in one class are required to decorate their notebooks with glitter and feathers – the situation in Boston is similar….

This will merit watching.


VIA Orbusmax: The wicked witch of the right, Anne Coulter, treats us to a spewing of that unique mixture of gloating, venomous bile only she can spew:

“Abortion Stops a Bleeding Heart”

Rhetoric aside, a bitch like Annie should be able to recognize abortion can be a societal good: Man’s lot would have been greatly improved if the abortionist had gotten, for example, Hitler, Stalin, bin Laden… Or Anne Coulter…

Damn shame…


Drudge links this blurb from Reuters:

‘Israel tried to kill bin Laden in 1996: paper”

According to the Israeli daily Yedioth Aharonoth: [say that fast ten times]

“Israel's Mossad spy service and a foreign counterpart enlisted a confidante of Osama bin Laden to kill the al Qaeda leader in 1996 but the plan fell apart over a political dispute, a newspaper said on Thursday”…

A woman described as “close” to bin Laden “was meant to kill bin Laden, but the mission was aborted as a result of a breakdown of ties between Israel and her country linked to Israeli-Palestinian tensions.”

That those “tensions” have cost the US dear is well known. If this is true, the cost may prove to be higher than ever imagined…


A note on the democratic process

Drudge leads this morning with the politically unsettling news from Palestine via AP:

“Officials: Hamas Wins Palestinian Election”

Hamas is claiming 75 seats out of 132.

The President is scheduled to speak within minutes. This development will likely be addressed. Meanwhile, The Secretary of State is insisting the US position on Hamas is unchanged… “We” will not deal with an organization we have labeled “terrorist:”

“You cannot have one foot in politics and another in terror," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the World Economic Conference in Davos, Switzerland, via a telephone hookup to the State Department Thursday. "Our position on Hamas has therefore not changed.”

We asked for it…

Opines Hanan Ashrawi, a moderate assemblywoman who survived re-election:

“Washington miscalculated in pushing for the vote, as part of its pro-democracy campaign in the Arab world. The Americans insisted on having the election now, so they have to respect the results of the election, as we all do”…

That’s three in as many months… Bolivia, Iraq, and now Palestine. Three democratically held, legitimate elections – two of which the US actively promoted – which have produced results the US will likely rue…

One of the reasons I reject neoconservatism is its blind insistence that “our way of life” is self-evidently the best, and the concomitant attitude that if given the chance to hold “free and fair” elections any people will choose a government that will see the light – our way.

Here are three exhibits against this arrogance: A socialist in Bolivia who prefers Castro to Bush, a Shiite majority government in Iraq who prefers Sharia to the democratic process that put it in power, and now Hamas…

Just remember, I told you so…


James Thayer over at The Weekly Standard writes an interesting essay on recycling:

‘Recycle This!”

A for the most part accurate treatment of the subject.

One thing he misses: A lot of the push for recycling in Seattle comes not from bleeding-heart greenies but rather from the “Good Ol’ Garbage Boys” club which makes a killing on this boondoggle. Rabanco has close ties to its “competition” as well as Seattle’s yard waste recycler. This is a case where Limbaugh’s Law operates: Follow the money.

Environmentally, what makes sense? Recycling anything somebody is willing to pay you for. If it’s “free,” that’s what its worth.

IMO, the best current solution is sort & burn: Here’s a link to Spokane’s “landfill:”

The electricity this plant generates burning garbage as a co-fuel is sold to Puget Sound Energy…

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


The LA Times has published a must-read editorial by Joel Stein:

“Warriors and wusses”,0,4137172.column?coll=la-news-comment-opinions

A slap in the face long overdue…

“I DON'T SUPPORT our troops. This is a particularly difficult opinion to have, especially if you are the kind of person who likes to put bumper stickers on his car. Supporting the troops is a position that even Calvin is unwilling to urinate on.”

Time to raise the body politics’ blood pressure:

I don’t support the troops, either. Furthermore, I don’t think America does – including many of the Americans who sport those silly yellow ribbons…

And I don’t think America’s government does, either.

Mr. Stein opines:

“The real purpose of those ribbons is to ease some of the guilt we feel for voting to send them to war and then making absolutely no sacrifices other than enduring two Wolf Blitzer shows a day.”

Piss you off, ribbon-toter? Aside from supporting the bumper magnet industry, have you done anything? Are you one of those who have sent a care package? Helped a soldier’s family? Even attended a “support the troops” rally?

You’ll forgive me for being a bit fuzzy on the alternatives, but then, I don’t support the troops.

Here in the Puget Sound region, the large number of people affiliated with the military suggests there are probably a lot of people who have tangibly contributed. But nationwide if there were as many contributions as there are yellow ribbons, the troops wouldn’t be able to wade through the goodies…

And I think that defines the whole tone of this endeavor. America doesn’t really support the troops in Iraq.

We went into this war poorly prepared on many levels. It has become apparent there was no realistic plan to win the peace after winning the war, just a hope of being greeted with an enthusiasm to rival the Allied arrival in Paris. Within six months of the GWB victory on the carrier show it was obvious the whirlwind victory had turned into an open ended occupation. At that point, the volunteer army became inadequate. We have failed to rectify the situation. We should have instituted a draft. But that would entail sacrifices beyond “enduring two Wolf Blitzer shows a day.”

The same conditions that made the volunteer army inadequate made its supply structure inadequate as well. We should have pulled out the stops on funding and supplies procurement. The tools of a mechanized army wear out whether they get shot up or not. America went to war without being on a war footing industrially – and we’re still not. All manner of supply issues have arisen in the almost three years of war. Many are still hostage to peacetime red tape.

Meanwhile, the troops we “support” try to cope with this. As Mr. Stein notes, “They need body armor, shorter stays and a USO show by the cast of "Laguna Beach."

Not yellow bumper magnets…

I don’t support the war. I think there is a world of difference between respecting the military’s true mission and cheering for a band of the fooled pledged to a fool’s errand. I have therefore neither supported nor hindered the troops.

I do however support honoring your commitments, finishing what you start, and paying for your mistakes. If that means America has to stay the course on this debacle, OK.

I’ll support the debacle.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Thoughts on a pickle we made for ourselves

We have two competing perspectives on the employee compensation policies of Wal-Mart, the largest employer in the US.

George Will approaches the issue philosophically, using Maryland’s recently enacted mandates for health insurance coverage as a springboard:

“Robbing Wal-Mart”

The tone of the editorial is well set early on:

“Something not easily distinguished from theft recently occurred in Annapolis. In legislation ostensibly concerned with any company with 10,000 employees but pertaining only to one, Maryland has said Wal-Mart must spend 8 percent of its payroll on health care, or must give the difference to the state.”

Approaching the question differently is The Seattle Times, which reports the results of two heretofore confidential Washington State analyses on the number of private-sector employees who receive government healthcare aid of one kind or another:

“Over 3,100 Wal-Mart workers got state health aid”

The reports detail the top ten employers by number of employees who receive aid. In both, Wal-Mart is number one.

The matter becomes significant because the Washington State Legislature is considering legislation similar to Maryland’s…

Wal-Mart is on record insisting the older numbers are obsolete in light of new company programs enacted since the reports were written.

For society as a whole, this is what’s known as being between a rock and a hard place…

Dr Will champions the rock:

“Wal-Mart's supposed sin is this: One way it holds down prices (when it enters a market, retail prices decline 5 percent to 8 percent; nationally, it saves consumers $16 billion annually) is by not being a welfare state. That is, by not offering higher wages and benefits than the labor market requires.”

The hard place is the Federal government’s poverty line, which has become a yardstick for the safety net. From the Times:

“Medicaid is a state-federal program that provides health coverage to families on welfare and children in low-income families. The Basic Health Plan (BHP), funded entirely by the state, mostly covers low-income adults. Both programs are aimed primarily at people in families with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. That would mean a family of four with an income of about $38,000 would be eligible.”

Recall, those are cutoff numbers.

A little math: The two-earner average wage for the family above is about $9.40 an hour. If those guidelines were applied to a single parent with three kids, the wage is $18.80 an hour – well over the national average wage of $16.40 an hour…

I find it somehow Karmic that Wal-Mart, arguably the Nation’s most successful business in the last fifty years, opened its doors three years before the enactment of the Great Society programs, including Medicaid, in 1965.

Before and during that same period of time, labor unions fought for, initially won, and then lost the battle to provide their members lucrative wages and generous benefits…

Between 1960 and 2003, per capita medical expenses, measured in constant dollars, increased 1232%, while costs of goods in general increased 515%. Medical expenses rose from 5.1% of the GDP to 15.3%.

In 1960, 75% of the Nation’s medical expenses were covered privately. In 2003, that figure was down to 54%. That’s before the new prescription drug benefit passed in 2003, a related issue for another day.

In 1960, medical insurance was a coveted benefit provided by the better employers that covered about 55% of all medical expenses. Today, private insurance only picks up about a third of the total.

Rising healthcare costs are complex to be sure. We not only have more care today than in 1960 but far better and more sophisticated care. We also have far higher expectations of success, which helps to fuel the malpractice mess.

Yet there is a growing public consensus a minimum of medical insurance should be a universal “right,” as demonstrated by the existence of programs like Washington’s “Basic Health” plan. In an entitled society, if the working poor can’t provide for themselves, or their employers won’t provide for them, only the State remains.

And that’s where Dr. Will’s analysis fails. He is certainly familiar with the arguments concerning the economic impact of subsidy. I would ask Dr. Will and those who accept his argument: Is not Wal-Mart’s success in applying the low wage = low price equation at least partly attributable to  the public coffers’ support of their workforce in critical albeit “off-books” ways, providing incentive to and in fact enabling workers to accept employment they would –or could - otherwise not?

And I would ask Dr Will: Is this a proper role of government?

Collaterally, what protections from economic debasement should ordinary citizens expect as part of government’s role of promotion of the general welfare? You decry Maryland’s mandate of a minimum benefit. Is it proper to protect workers with a “living wage” minimum wage? Any minimum wage?

Or to protect industries which provide living wages?

Or should “we the people” accept economic crucifixion on the cross of laissez-faire enterprise?

It’s not just Wal-Mart; never lose sight of that. Wal-Mart is merely the most visible example in an entire segment of the economy: The Times’ “top ten” includes other retailers like Target, fast food giants, grocers, temporary service providers, and agricultural firms.

And it’s not just medical benefits. Wal-Mart and its industry has become the Nation’s experimental laboratory in purchase outsourcing. Most of the goods found in a Wal-Mart or a Target are made overseas, principally in China.

Those are some of the jobs the unions fought for and lost – lost forever in the race to the bottom between prices, expenses and corporate profits.

Certainly deference is owed to the capitalist system which is the original and best source of our mutual wealth. But a thought must be given to Churchill’s axiom: The greatest enemy of capitalism is capitalists.

In the medical insurance controversy we see an example of where shortsighted capitalist greed has probably destroyed a branch of capitalism. It’s no longer a question of if but when. The government on one level or another is already paying the freight for most bad risks, most of the most expensive cases, those who society judges “worthy,” and its own workforce. Private industry picks up an increasingly smaller share of the costs for the remaining profitable markets.

It can’t go on. Wal-Mart isn’t a disease; it’s a symptom. The disease is the race to the bottom. Eventually, barring a frankly astonishing outbreak of Corporate conscience, government will be forced by an increasingly impoverished working class back toward the socialist model.

For medical insurance, eventually is now. This issue must be removed from the private arena. It’s time for National Health Care.


This wouldn’t be worthy of note but for the source:

From Insight Magazine:

“Impeachment hearings: The White House prepares for the worst”

An analysis of possible outcomes of Congressional hearings on “Spygate.”

“Administration sources said a prelude to the impeachment process could begin with hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee in February. They said the hearings would focus on the secret electronic surveillance program and whether Mr. Bush violated the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The charges are expected to include false reports to Congress as well as Mr. Bush's authorization of the National Security Agency to engage in electronic surveillance inside the United States without a court warrant.”

The worry is this first bi-partisan committee will find against the president:

“Our arithmetic shows that a majority of the committee could vote against the president. If we work hard, there could be a tie.”

No real opinion on this one. I do think GWB has abused his office – what recent President hasn’t – but I don’t think this is the worst thing he’s done. Not by far…

In any case, on top of an off-term election and a disintegrating world political situation, 2006 could well be “interesting times” in spades…

As in the old Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times…

Monday, January 23, 2006


VIA Orbusmax, we have this from the World Tribune:

“Report: Israel has identified 60 targets in Iran”

An article based on the views of “outsiders” purporting to be close to the inside who likely are…

Three items really stand out: The first two sources in this point – counterpoint argue whether Israel can do this alone.

What are the political ramifications of a joint strike force consisting of ???

If they can, and they do, what then politically?

Here is another quote of the $100 / barrel boogeyman. What if??? If Iran actually did stop pumping entirely, there flat isn’t enough oil to meet world demand.

So we turn the tap back on how? With who’s army?

Not ours, it’s busy… And I think I know who…

What’s your guess?


And maybe more than one cat…

Kudos to Protein Wisdom

For linking this potentially very significant story from AFP via Iran Focus:

“Iran may have received advanced centrifuges: diplomats”

As the article notes, if true, this is pretty much the end of Tehran’s credibility. Iran has never admitted to having this more sophisticated centrifuge.

Beyond that…

We have a claim here that not only were they able to secure a design, but they also received three ready-to-go units…

“Non-proliferation analyst David Albright told AFP from Washington that the Khan network "always sent sample machines with designs. It would make sense if Iran got this. This is how the Khan network worked. They had stockpiles of these things in Dubai…"

The Kahn network refers to the Pakistani group that ran a little side job selling nuclear technology…

I’m particularly struck by that last line: “They had stockpiles of these things in Dubai”

Stockpiles of “these things.” Where are they now?

Iran may only be the beginning.

Saturday, January 21, 2006


I haven’t seen this linked anywhere except Huffington Post yet…

From The Washington Post:

“The Author Who Got a Big Boost from bin Laden”

In his latest missive to the West, Osama bin Laden made mention of the book Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower.

Bin Laden opines: "And if Bush decides to carry on with his lies and oppression, then it would be useful for you to read the book 'Rogue State,' which states in its introduction: 'If I were president, I would stop the attacks on the United States: First, I would give an apology to all the widows and orphans and those who were tortured. Then I would announce that American interference in the nations of the world has ended once and for all.' "

William Blum, author of Rouge State and historian of a left-wing bent, says of bin Laden’s impromptu “endorsement:” "This is almost as good as being an Oprah book…I was not turned off by such an endorsement. I'm not repulsed, and I'm not going to pretend I am."

A core theme to Mr. Blum’s works is that American foreign policy causes more grief – and makes more enemies – than it abates…

Whatever the value of the thesis, the endorsement is solid gold: Rouge State went up in rank from #205,763 to #26 on's index of the most-ordered books.

In one day…

Friday, January 20, 2006


Brent Baker, veteran Bush-Aid drinker over at Newsbusters is all a-twitter today over comments by Jack Cafferty:

“CNN's Cafferty Sees Conspiracy Helpful to Bush Behind Timing of Osama Tape”

For those of you who prefer their editorial comments not be pre-chewed, the whole transcript is here:

Read the whole thing. The “offending” comments are near the bottom…

“The last time we got a tape from Osama bin Laden was right before the 2004 presidential election. Now here we are, four days away from hearings starting in Washington into the wiretapping of America's telephones without bothering to get a court order or a warrant, and up pops another tape from Osama bin Laden. Coincidence? Who knows.”

Merriam Webster defines coincidence:

The occurrence of events that happen at the same time by accident but seem to have some connection;  also   : any of these occurrences

And conspiracy:

The act of conspiring together [or] an agreement among conspirators  b : a group of conspirators

Cafferty’s comments are better understood if one includes the preface:

“This latest audiotape is the first time we've heard from Osama bin Laden since right before the 2004 presidential election. In light of last week's airstrikes along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border that may have killed several high-ranking members of al Qaeda, it comes as no surprise that they would want to get the word out to the faithful that the bearded creep is alive and still running the show. It's good for morale, you know.

The Department of Homeland Security says there are no plans to raise the nation's threat level, but the thought of this mutant hanging out in a cave somewhere and sending taped threats to the American people makes me angry. Why wasn't this guy taken care of before we went wandering off into Iraq? Here's the question. How important is the new Osama bin Laden tape.

“it comes as no surprise that they would want to get the word out to the faithful that the bearded creep is alive and still running the show.”

Sounds like he’s suggesting a coincidence to me. And it sounds like he’s asking reasonable questions.

Who knows? Well, who the hell does?

Nobody in our government, IMO: If any one thing should by now be obvious to thinking people everywhere, it’s that nobody is really running the spook bureaucracies. The elected government may use them, but they long since lost control and can’t get it back. The spooks are a law unto themselves.

Accept that one point and everything else makes sense… The juiced Iraqi intelligence, the secret prisons, Osama still on the loose - even the dead babies in Damadola, murdered by spook missiles. All of it.

So you choose to put words in someone’s mouth, Mr. Baker? Prove it isn’t a conspiracy ran by some creep at CIA… It would sure help to explain why doctors, dialysis technicians, and photographers - how an entire entourage, in fact – can keep up with bin Laden but the troops can’t…

The only person who really does know the answer to Cafferty’s question is that “mutant hanging out in a cave somewhere”…

But that’s critical thinking; the topic is Newsbusters, a bunch of Kool-Aid drinkers so certain in their prejudices they are incapable of rational discussion of topics like coincidence. People who refuse to admit you can be certain and still be wrong.

To them, discussion of people or policies they are certain of is perceived as attack meriting counterattack – but never counterattack aimed at the ideas - It’s always aimed at the messengers.

Well, here’s one back at ya, Brent boy…Now don’t forget to check for anti-Bush conspirators under your bed after you put on your jammies…


I’m trying hard not to laugh about this one… Trying and failing…

RIA Novosti out of Estonia reports:

“Estonia leader shocked by granddaughters' palace parties”

“Estonian President Arnold Ruutel said he was shocked to find out that his underage granddaughters were throwing parties in the presidential palace in his absence”

I’d have been shocked to find they weren’t…


Critiquing the Democratic Party’s recently revealed ethics proposals, Senator Trent Lott remarked:

“Now we're going to say you can't have a meal for more than 20 bucks. Where are you going, to McDonald's?”

Begging the Senator’s pardon, but thanks at least partly to the policies you promote, McDonald’s is the only place most Americans can afford…

So why should you and your buddies go anywhere else? Take a cue from Slick Willie. He actually likes Big Macs…

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Orbusmax links a story from The Australian:

“UN ceremony wipes Israel from the map”,5744,17877450%255E2703,00.html

A more objective headline would have been “UN ceremony remembers a time before Israel,” or perhaps “UN ceremonial map recalls a time before Israel,” since there was no “wiping” or other action – there was merely the display of a pre-1948 map...

The map was displayed as part of a “solidarity” ceremony supporting the Palestinian people. An annual event since 1977, it has apparently escaped criticism until now.

But now, the US has “Cowboy John” Bolton as UN Ambassador, and he’s riding in, rhetorical six-guns a blazin’…

Ambassador Bolton asserts it is “entirely inappropriate for this map to be used" during observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on November 29. "It can be misconstrued to suggest that the United Nations tacitly supports the abolition of the state of Israel"…

It might also be construed as an admission the world wasn’t reborn in 1948… And as a reminder that 1948 ended one Diaspora while sowing the seeds of another… A fact Bolton and his crowd doesn’t want remembered…


Orbusmax highlights the perhaps over-kind caption to an AP photo of Osama bin Laden:

“AP PHOTO CAPTION: Bin Laden "exiled Saudi dissident... offering a truce to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan..."

I have one question: Why does bin Laden always look stoned???

C’mon. That picture needs a caption, like: What happened to my hooka?


By now, everyone has had time to enjoy the political shark-feed attending Senator Clinton’s remarks before the National Action Network during their commemoration of the birth of Martin Luther King jr.:

Asked “what distinguishes Democrats from Republicans right now,” she replied: “When you look at the way the House of Representatives has been run, it has been run like a plantation and you know what I'm talking about..."

An interesting view… But certainly not original…

Just before the ’94 elections that handed The House to the Republicans, Newt Gingrich, speaking of the Democratic leadership’s difficulty working with him, remarked “Since they think it is their job to run the plantation, it shocks them that I’m actually willing to lead the slave rebellion.”

So there you have it. A well known bloviator from each party opining the House is a plantation…

Which isn’t surprising, since it was created by plantation owners…

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Three days after the brutal attack by CIA drones and/or planes on the Pakistani village of Damadola, reports are perking in that illuminate the reasons for the strike.

Initial reports claimed there were no terrorists present in a village that denied any terrorist involvement:

“The drone, the CIA and a botched attempt to kill bin Laden's deputy”,16937,1686918,00.html

Almost immediately, however, we had two other versions:

FoxNews linked AP to bring us the assurances of the Pakistani government:

“Pakistan: Four Foreign Terrorists Killed in U.S. Airstrike”,2933,181867,00.html

According to a statement by the chief official in the Bajur region where the Damadola is located, "Four or five foreign terrorists have been killed in this missile attack whose dead bodies have been taken away by their companions to hide the real reason of the attack…It is regrettable that 18 local people lost their lives in the attack, but this fact also cannot be denied, that 10-12 foreign extremists had been invited on a dinner."

Reuters reported pretty much the same thing:

The “official” line from both local and National governments in Pakistan is there were terrorists at a gathering to which Ayman al-Zawahiri was invited – but the big fish didn’t bite…

Now ABC News brings another update:

“U.S. Strike Killed Al Qaeda Bomb Maker”

Pakistani authorities claim to have confirmation that Abu Khabab al-Masri, Al Qaeda’s foremost chemist, was present at a dinner meeting hours before the attack. The inference is he was one of the “four or five” persons killed by the strike.

There are still no reports of physical evidence substantiating any of these claims.

And interestingly – very interestingly – there hasn’t been a peep out of US officials pertaining to the matter… What CIA???

“If you, or any of your IM force fuck up badly, we will forget you were ever born…”

Oh well. It can’t be undone. If the reports are true, we can take “unwarranted” off the expletive list.

Leave cruel, incompetent, and brutal overkill on it.

You know, using missiles the Israelis routinely pick off terrorists in cars with a precision so devastating they could save the ears for trophies. The Saudis have done it too. With our technology…

Put it all together. There were reports Damadola was under surveillance. All of the “kill” reports are based on before the fact information. They claim they knew somebody was coming, even if it was sketchy who.

I reject the suggestion this information couldn’t have been put to a better use.

They could have killed them on the road – they would have proof of the cause then. They could have been captured: Why not paratroops in the wee hours? Territorial violation is territorial violation… Paratroops would have prevented escapes and might have been a little more discriminating in their targets.

Instead, they waited until 3AM and threw a million or two dollars worth of smart bombs at a house, killed some kids, and left the world wondering if it was a case of regrettable necessity or a drone operator smoking opium…

While mothers buried their babies…

The bombs were smarter than the operators, I think. More human too.



FoxNews Health discusses a study of empathy:

“Study: Men Enjoy Seeing Bad People Suffer”,2933,182059,00.html

The study group is a bit small, but the conclusions are interesting.

I would add though: If this is true, it may explain why some are so preoccupied with defining others as “bad”…


Curmudgeon Emeritus Ken Schram identified an interesting social group, “Racist Butts,” in his column “A Lot Of Racist Butts Out There:”

The group is differentiated by the habitual use of the phrase, “I’m not a racist, but”…

I’ve identified a new group: “Homophobe Butts.”

A bunch of them gathered to spew at the legislature yesterday:

“Opponents To Gay Civil Rights Bill Crowd Public Hearing”

The “don’t burden business” subset was there; so was the “save the kids” brigade, and of course, the damnfool bigots, one of whom read from the bible until stopped…

I have a dream… That someday people will learn to just mind their own business and let anyone trade freely in the economy: Trade without having to meet an unrelated standard. Trade in the workplace, the housing market, anywhere.

That so many “Homophobe Butts” turned out for this hearing is proof we’re not there yet, and that the laws they oppose are necessary and desirable.

Thank you, Mr. and Mrs Bigot. You make making the case so simple…

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Here’s an odd one many of you will know more about than I

Linked by the perennial rockthrowers over at Huffington Post is a story from Soldiers for the Truth, the group who broke the story about the armor effectiveness study a few weeks back. This time they are claiming certain soldiers have been ordered to not wear certain kinds of very expensive, privately purchased body armor which is claimed to be superior to standard issue:

“Army Orders Soldiers to Shed Dragon Skin or Lose SGLI Death Benefits”

Soldiers for the Truth claim the men have been threatened with disciplinary action and loss of life insurance. Apparently this is a recent policy change.

Very odd, I think… I found – I think - a little out about the armor. The standard armor is manufactured by Point Blank Body Armor, the alternate is made by Pinnacle Armor.

The standard armor is proof against small fragments and rounds up to 9mm. You can add plates to it; with the add-ons it will stop a medium high-powered rifle like a 7.62 X 51mm NATO. A page on the product:

The other product claims to be able to stop lighter rifle rounds like the 5.56mm the M16 fires or the short 7.62mm the AK47 uses. It too can be augmented for heavier protection.

Soldiers for the Truth relates Pinnacle Armor’s claim that “more than 3,000 soldiers and civilians stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan … and nine U.S. generals stationed in Afghanistan are wearing Dragon Skin body armor.”

They also relate the cost: $6,000 a set, far more than the regular issue.

I’m sure that cost would be less in mass production, but I can understand the Army’s choice. Still, why prohibit it?

Any thoughts?


A couple more paving stones in the road to war…

FoxNews reports everyone agrees now about Iran:

“Permanent Security Council Members Agree on Iran”,2933,181751,00.html

Everyone, that is, except Iran…

At issue is whether or not Iran will enrich uranium. Iran insists it’s for nuclear power, but nobody believes it…

Meanwhile, the Iranian government still doesn’t know when to shut up…

Robert Tait writes for the UK Guardian from Tehran:

Iran issues stark warning on oil price”,16518,1687381,00.html

Suggesting the industrialized Nations of the world need Iran more than Iran needs them, Iran's economy minister said “Any possible sanctions from the west could possibly, by disturbing Iran's political and economic situation, raise oil prices beyond levels the west expects”…

“Levels” as high as $100 a barrel have been suggested.

Wheels within wheels…

In the above piece, FoxNews discusses a Russian proposal to move Iranian uranium enrichment to Russia, where presumably third-party monitoring would insure the material produced would be reactor-grade only. And this morning, Debka reported “Moscow opposes sanctions against Iran over its nuclear activities”

At the same time, as I noted in “Buying Smart” back on the fifteenth, China – Iran’s #1 customer – and India have concluded a cooperative oil buying agreement.

China and Russia clearly have their own interests and agendas to consider here.

The happy ending becomes harder to see all the time…

Israel, who is widely believed to have the means to eliminate the threat insists a nuclear-armed Iran is not acceptable. One of many treatments, this one from the authentic horse’s mouth, Haaretz:

Meanwhile, Iran begs to differ, claiming they have “300 scattered nuclear sites:”

And thanks to our involvement in Iraq, the US can’t really do anything. Oh, we can drop some bombs with the Israelis… That worked so well in the Balkans, after all… But as far as fielding a force capable of occupying Iran and thereafter maintaining order, preventing terrorism, and maintaining the flow of that vital oil, well…

All this, with 4 million barrels of oil production a day on the line.

A very dark muse:

The Security Council, which initially declines sanctions, reverses itself after the Iranians make it clear they aren’t stopping and the Israelis make it clear they’re stopping one way or another.

Iran cuts off its own nose, spiting our face… Losing the oil production precipitates a crisis in the world economy, and losing the revenue disrupts Iran.

The UN votes military action to restore order… And the Chinese move in under UN flag.


FoxNews leads this morning with the breaking news:

“Supreme Court Backs Oregon Assisted-Suicide Law”,2933,181881,00.html

A proper decision, I think.

Conservatives, please note: 6-3. Alito on the court wouldn’t have mattered. O’Connor voted with the majority, but even if you assume Alito wouldn’t, that’s 5-4…

At issue was whether or not the Federal State could prosecute Oregon physicians under Federal drug laws for prescribing lethal doses of drugs to terminally-ill patients. After all, lethal injections are a government monopoly…

And as a bonus, former Attorney General Ashcroft got chewed out for evading the intent of the Federal Statutes…

The Tenth Amendment of my copy of the Constitution, which is obviously not the same one the Supreme Court uses, states “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Yet for over a hundred years, moralizing fanatics have convinced lawmakers and law judgers to ignore that in favor of  a single line from Article 1, section 8: [Congress shall have the power] ”To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.”

Arguing no man is an island, this has been used as the basis for all kinds of busybody nonsense, including most of the laws that first handed the AMA a monopoly and later defacto regulated the same. Lost entirely was the right of the individual to make purely personal choices – a right clearly intended by the Tenth Amendment. People today don’t have “medical rights.” Any protections or entitlements recognized are accorded to people only through the intercession of some damned priest of the church of the AMA. And even that has been attacked.

At least this decision represents a check on the juggernaut. And that’s a good thing.


Partly personal:

The Possum does a little “hobby” farming. I don’t know what else to call it – Mrs. Possum and I garden year round and keep a little livestock. Right now its just goats and chickens.

There’s something to be said for pets you can eat…

So I had occasion to patronize my local farm store last week to purchase alfalfa. There, on the counter, was a flier:


It is with sad regret that [XXXX] stores will no longer sell any poultry, water fowl, or game birds. This is due to the sudden increase in bird flu…

Bird flu… Still oceans away, thousands of miles away. A threat, but a still tiny, uncertain one.

The domestic fowl sold in farm stores all come from just a few mega-hatcheries. These places are modern, monitored, and enclosed. They are protected the way any multi-million dollar investment is protected.

Bird flu getting a hold in a place like that? Not likely. And not just in my opinion. Young fowl are still available. But there is the liability medusa to contend with.

At least as far as chickens go, the store will still make them available two Saturdays this spring, delivering the chicks to a local fairground. But there will be no weeks-long availability in the store. There will be no chance for kids to watch the chicks, “pet” - more like harass – the chicks, etc.

No more Easter chicks…

Beyond sentiment, I wonder what this will do to the “hobby farm industry.” Most people don’t raise enough birds to be self-supporting. A lot of people may quit. If enough do, feed stores may stop carrying the feed.

Alternately, a lot of small providers like me may set up shop and raise a few chicks. The quality will probably suffer, and eventually the regulatory medusa will take notice and strangle the attempt, most likely.

Either way it will likely mean one more pressure pushing people away from the most vital of connections: Connection to the land.

And you know, if there were more people connected to the land, there would be more environmentalists and fewer watermelons – excepting those growing in the compost…

I have to say I think trading that connectedness for “safety” from sick birds in Turkey and China is a bad trade.

Sunday, January 15, 2006


Oil troubles on the horizon: What if troubles don’t come singly?

Several items in the news the last week seem to me to be linked by the vital black river that powers our lives. None of this is really new, but none of it is improving, either. It might in fact be argued most of it is deteriorating.

What if it all goes to hell at once?

First, Nigeria. FoxNews is reporting on guerrilla attacks on the Nation’s oil industry by a new militant group:

“Nigerian Oil Platform Attacked, Militias Battling Troops”,2933,181721,00.html

Two million barrels a day worth of production on the line here. Production has been down on average 10% due to disruptions.

Then Iraq. The New York Times reports on a very discouraging development in the fledgling Iraqi government:

“Shiite Leader Rejects Big Charter Changes, Frustrating Sunnis”

Very bad. As I have noted before, this is their Nation to lose, their potential peace to squander. This is surely the way to do it. If the Sunnis are really marginalized and denied a share of Iraq’s oil wealth, strife is certain and outright civil war possible, irrespective of what the US does.

Another two million barrels a day of production currently possible; actual production inconsistent.

And Iran… With Iran’s increasingly bellicose international stance as a backdrop, The Washington Post brings us the President’s remarks:

“Bush Warns Against Nuclear-Armed Iran”

It looks like this is going to end up in the hands of the Security Council, and if the Council fails to act… It’s hard to see a happy ending here. If we don’t act, the Israelis will. Best case: Oil production and deliveries intermittently interrupted. Worse case: Major disruptions.

Worst nightmare: Terrorist retaliation or even another embargo triggered by outrage against an Israeli attack. That may be borrowing trouble, but it happened before.

Four million barrels a day on the line… Far more if Iran receives unexpected support.

That’s eight million barrels of production and a bit over six million barrels of exports. Put another way, it’s 20% of the oil imports of the ten largest oil importers.

Toss in opportunists in Mexico and a communist flake running the government in Venezuela… That’s another 4.2 million barrels a day in shaky hands.

Anybody still think we don’t need alternative energy sources?


VIA Breitbart, we have an AP report on fraudulent research:

“Cancer Researcher Admits to Faking Data”

This time it’s a Norwegian “scientist” hosing the Brit Journal Lancet…

Apparently, he invented his study data out of nothing… I wonder if he was a Journalism major who couldn’t get a job at the Times…

Seriously, something I do wonder. Are we seeing more of this because more people are getting into research for the wrong reasons? Like money or fame? There is only one reason to get into research: The pure love of discovery. I think the only thing this fellow discovered was his/her own moral weakness.


The UK Guardian reports on the apparently failed attempt to kill Ayman al-Zawahiri:

“The drone, the CIA and a botched attempt to kill bin Laden's deputy”,16937,1686918,00.html

Oh, how I hope this report is flat wrong.

Because if it’s true, it’s an example of how the US has become every ugly thing its enemies say it is, and every ugly thing we say we’re fighting against.

This time, WE are the terrorists…

It has oft been recounted that some years back Slick Willie had a chance to “get” bin Laden with a cruise missile attack, but declined to act, based on the possibility faulty intelligence might result in a mis-strike that would kill innocents.

Republican hawks have made much of that “failure.” Now their opponents will make more of this “success”…

I know, I know… There is supposed to be a war on. I know saying “we are the terrorists” is taunting a charging bull.

You know what? I don’t give a damn. This is unforgivable. I don’t care if the target was the devil himself; it’s still unforgivable. Killing Zawahiri, or even bin Laden, isn’t going to “kill” Al Qaeda. But killing uninvolved tribesmen in Pakistan, and violating international law in the process by crossing a recognized National border without that Nation’s permission, will help to swell Al Qaeda’s ranks and bank accounts.

A just Nation would turn the person who authorized this over to the Pakistani government for prosecution.

We’ll see what our Nation does…


The UK Guardian brings us an AP account of US Senator Max Baucus:

“Sen. Baucus Says Outsourcing Fact of Life”,1282,-5543860,00.html

Speaking in Bangalore, India's technology center, the Senator, who represents the Multinational Corporate bottom line said: “Everybody is concerned about job losses and so am I… But the world is flat and we must work harder to better retrain our people… Offshoring is a fact of globalization…”

I guess it’s too much to hope he was just pandering to an audience. Damn shame we can’t offshore the Senate… I’m sure we could find somebody to bloviate a lot cheaper than this…

Many years ago when the rust belt began the long slow bleed of blue-collar jobs that has since done so much to impoverish the American working class, smug pundits – the ones whose jobs weren’t being exported – said It’s OK! We will all just get jobs in high tech…

And we will – as soon as our living standards become “competitive” with India’s. In other words, when we adjust to living on a tithe of a wage…

It’s interesting, though. We have to go to a Brit paper to read an account of this bit of economic treachery. Why?

Because this is an issue no one in the MSM wants to deal with. Why?

Because there is no political hay to be made here. Neither major political party can beat the other up on this because they are all in on it together. Baucus is probably right. Offshoring is a fact of globalization, and likely nothing short of a bona-fide shooting revolution is going to stop it.

After all, our government is supposed to represent the fat cats, not the people…

Oh, it isn’t entirely one-sided. Some foreign businesses have found it advantageous to “offshore” to our shores. But note the pattern: Those companies are almost entirely from the few Nations whose living standards equal or exceed ours.

It’s a race to the bottom – the one race where the winner loses. Along with everyone else…


Back at the end of November I recommended an article by Daniel Gross of Slate:

“My Cartel Is Bigger Than Your Cartel. How we can screw OPEC.”

Mr. Gross suggests forming buyer’s cartels; in effect, an anti-OPEC. Control of sufficient demand should give the buyers some leverage over price.

After all, it works for Wal-Mart…

Now we read in the UK Financial Times India and China are doing just that:

“China and India forge alliance on oil”

The world’s two fastest economies have agreed to cooperate on the one resource most critical to growth.

Western Governments, are you watching? Or are we to snooze and lose…

Thursday, January 12, 2006


The Seattle Times’ Craig Welch fills us in on the Bush Administration’s decision to open the Teshekpuk Lake country on Alaska’s North Slope to oil drilling:

“Bush administration opens region around Teshekpuk Lake to oil drilling”

A little good news for everyone, I think. Even if it isn’t an all-around “win-win,” it’s about as close as you ever get in the messy world of petroleum extraction.

Good news for the pro-drilling faction:

First of all, it demonstrates a point I have made repeatedly: Any resource reserved by legislative fiat today can be released the same way tomorrow: Ronald Reagan’s Interior Department set this aside. Thusly it’s there for us today.

Second, here’s another estimated two billion barrels worth of oil.

Third, that’s two billion barrels in the middle of a vast opportunity: Teshekpuk Lake is part of the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska, known by the shorthand NPR-A. Larger than ANWR – fifteen times larger than ANWR’s area 1002 - NPR-A is already being actively worked in scattered locations from Prudhoe Bay to Barrow and south toward the Brooks Range. Several small fields are on line with more to follow. The oil is interspersed among vast coal deposits yielding coal-gas which can be shipped with the oil. “Filling in the gaps” will certainly maximize infrastructure use and minimize its cost.

And environmentalists can thank the fates this isn’t ANWR, which is a comfortable 150 miles to the east. This could even make development of area 1002 of ANWR a moot point for now: There is several years’ worth of full-tilt development now before the drillers on the North Slope, logistical constraints being what they are.


Drudge Reports on a new offering from Planned Parenthood of Connecticut’s e-store:

“Planned Parenthood's new condom key chains 'blasphemous'...”

Just what everyone needs… A keychain fob with bad art concealing a condom…

One picture is a takeoff from Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel depiction of Adam stretching out his hand to God. In Planned Parenthood's version, God is handing Adam a condom.

Isn’t that what’s known as graffiti???

The hell of it is, there is a kernel of merit in their message, but it is utterly lost in the delivery. As the article notes, there is an item here to offend “just about everyone in the country”…

The amazing thing is Planned Parenthood seems utterly incapable of seeing the offense in their wares, just as they have in the past. It demonstrates they have no class.

And they don’t even know it…


FoxNews Business keeps us in the loop on oil prices:

“Oil Hits $65 as Iran Concerns Mount”,2933,181435,00.html

Nothing unusual in the story, but it brings to mind a not exactly serious – or exactly unserious – muse:

Every time one of the blustering bloviators of OPEC opens his mouth, they, and everyone who owns crude oil, gets a raise …

Are they just taking turns yanking our chain???

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


THE LA TIMES brings us an account of another lawsuit in the ongoing creation/intelligent design vs. evolution mud wrestle:,0,7737779.story?coll=la-home-headlines

The school board of Lebec, a small town in California about 50 miles north of LA, has approved a class curriculum, billed as a philosophy class, which “will take a close look at evolution as a theory and will discuss the scientific, biological and biblical aspects that suggest why Darwin's philosophy is not rock solid. The class will discuss intelligent design as an alternative response to evolution. Physical and chemical evidence will be presented suggesting the earth is thousands of years old, not billions."

The plaintiffs insist the intent of the class is to trump science with religion.

I have a few questions I think the Court should ask:

First, although I realize this is collateral to the normal framing of the issue, the Court should ask: Is this class an elective?

Second, is it being offered as an alternative to a more mainstream biology class? In other words, as a credit for credit substitute filling a core requirement?

If the class is an elective that does not substitute for a core requirement I think it should be allowed. Even though I think Intelligent Design is just plain silly, I can’t think of a good reason it shouldn’t be offered. Sillier things have certainly been taught in public schools…

I think that without realizing it, people who defend modern dogma on Evolution often defeat their own arguments by falling into the “belief trap.” In the pleadings, one of the parents, a doctor of geology working at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory stated the class "conflicts with my beliefs as a scientist…"

Beliefs as a scientist? The core belief of science is that beliefs exist to be challenged and tested. Science which relies on unchallengeable beliefs isn’t science anymore.

Maybe that’s part of the reason for the confusion…


ABC News carries remarks by Senator Clinton on the subject of troop armor:

Calling the Bush administration “incompetent,” she remarked the failure to provide better armor was “unforgivable” and called for an investigation.

I must ask, who do we investigate, Madam Senator?

GWB was elected President… Not King… He’s a part of the government, not its embodiment, and just one part of the process, even if he’s the most visible.

The House of Representatives originates appropriations. During the decade preceding 9-11, defense spending measured in most real terms declined. Did this affect necessary procurements, even this one? For example, was research into better armor slighted?

Should this be investigated, Madam Senator?

The House of Representatives originates appropriations. ABC notes Congress has only recently passed a law to reimburse troops who bought their own armor even though many bought their armor long since.

Should this be investigated, Madam Senator?

Congress has an oversight function with respect to military contracts. SNAFU’S in those contracts have slowed production.

Should this be investigated, Madam Senator?

The actual procurement process is administered by a military bureaucracy that answers to the Pentagon and ultimately to the Administration. But a new administration doesn’t bring with it a new bureaucracy. While the particular issue of body armor is recent as it relates to the Iraqi war, the larger issue of procurement can only be studied as a process that often takes years to complete.

This President inherited a bureaucracy and a process from his predecessors. If we are to investigate this President’s handling of the issue, should we also investigate what he inherited?

So should the investigations start with President Clinton, Senator Clinton?

Somehow, I don’t think that’s what the junior Senator from New York has in mind…


Huffington Post links a Reuters story by Jason Szep, who reports on a new study of the costs of the Iraq war:;_ylt=AqYQ1dewQvEdi6J8uytc53us0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA3ODdxdHBhBHNlYwM5NjQ-

The study was conducted by Joseph E. Stiglitz of Columbia University and Linda Bilmes of Harvard’s Kennedy School. The actual study may be found here:

The study calculates the bottom line long-term cost at between 1.026 and 1.854 trillion dollars.

Caveat: I did not give this moose the grindingly thorough reading something this involved deserves. I did however read it well enough to gather the following:

The study could be broken down into three parts: Actual costs which can be estimated with a fair degree of certainty, economic costs which can be estimated but not so accurately, and economic losses…

It’s hard to argue with the first two but the third provides an interesting example of the difficulty inherent in mixing politics and science:

The authors operate on an assumption: Going to war created a net drag on the long-term economy, a conclusion supported by the data provided and opinions offered. No attempt is made to create a counter-model to estimate the cost of not going to war, nor is an “eventual success alternative” model offered.

I agree the war was a mistake. I doubt the cost estimates are far off. But I can’t help but find the one-scenario loss model arrogant. We will never know whether the world would have been better off without this effort, and we should not rule out all being well that end’s better.

It’s a shame the authors of this work didn’t see fit to question their own bias.


I spent the last two days doing upgrades and similar hair-graying activities. There is a lot to blog about these days, so here’s hoping this works… (

Sunday, January 08, 2006


Closing the border: Is it too late?

VIA Breitbart, AP's Michael R. Blood reports on the "Stop the Invasion" protests held in 19 states yesterday:

Mr. Blood relates the rallies were poorly attended, and in many places the "pro immigrant" counter-protesters outnumbered the "Stop the Invasion" faction.

I have facetiously made this suggestion before: I'm making it for real now. Are those of us who are trying to close the US - Mexican border simply on the wrong side of history?

Is it time to consider something entirely different, even the opposite?

Should the two governments open negotiations toward unification?

I hear the shrieks...

Economically, it might spell disaster for the US, at least in the short-term. Logic and history agree the richer partner will suffer the most, and the greater the disparity the greater the suffering. Lower-income, less-skilled workers in the US would be especially vulnerable. Our social costs would grow faster than they already are.

We have the example of the German unification: Westerners bewailed wage deflation and skyrocketing social costs - Easterners bemoaned a loss of security. And that in a reunification after only a half-century separation.

But it worked, and both have a better future for it.

Demography is destiny. Hard reality:

If there were an "endangered ethnicity" list, judged by the same criteria we use on endangered species, "Western European White Man" and its descendent groups would be on it. We have too few children, we are on the average too old, and too many of us are dependent on the rest.

Short of a draconian social realignment, "we" are doomed - which is not to say the US is doomed, but rather the unique culture built upon our mostly-European roots is doomed to be greatly changed if not slowly supplanted by simple numbers.

Even if we could fiat the Mexican border closed, this would probably still be the case. It will just take longer. Since 1960 Mexico has grown 2 1/2 times, from 40 to 100 million. The US has not quite doubled in population, and almost 10% of our legal citizens were born outside the US.

And of course, Mexico isn't the only contributor to "our" dilution.

It would take many years and the costs would largely be born by the US. We would have to accomodate as we asked to be accomodated. But it would give us the opportunity to shape the new super-State. As it is, every day hence we will be more shaped by events than we will shaping them.

As it is, we're locked in an "us against them" mentality where running the border is a game and screwing Uncle Sam is a racket. Millions of new hard-working, stakeholding citizens could be a great boon to a reinvigorated Nation, and might be the one thing that could stave off "gray-America" syndrome.

Thoughts? Holler but don't hit...

Saturday, January 07, 2006


The New York Times critiques military readiness and procurement:

"Extra Armor Could Have Saved Many Lives, Study Shows"

The study, originally obtained by the military advocacy group Soldiers for the Truth, was first reported on the group's website.

First, an observation: This Nation, 34 months of war notwithstanding, is not on a war footing. The procurement issues raised in the article are inevitable when a Nation is at peace but its army is at war.

Second, a question: How does publishing this information benefit the Nation? Does it benefit anyone? Who, specifically?

It doesn't benefit the elected government or the military bureaucracy. It makes them look incompetent.

It doesn't benefit the families of the slain. It may even be the bitterest of revelations to those who are now haunted by the idea their loved ones' deaths were preventable.

It is unlikely to benefit the soldiers now in the field. Suddenly throwing this onto the table won't speed procurement. In fact it might slow it down by prodding too many to attempt to contribute to the "solution." Too many cooks...

It doesn't contribute to the general understanding of military procurement, which, as students of the military will point out, is fraught with real-world stumbling blocks under the best of conditions. For people unaware of the stumbling blocks it may in fact distort that understanding.

It probably contributes to the erosion of support for the war effort, so it can't be said to benefit the general public...

Unless it's a "public benefit" to destroy the public's confidence in this contentious endeavor...

I'm all for disclosure, and no fan of the war, but I'm having trouble finding the "societal good" in this and similar stories. Protection is really a collateral question: Any war is a race between offence and defence, the ability to protect yourself at the same difference or under the same condtions you can kill the enemy. No mater how well protected, at some point there will be fatal failures of that protection.

If the Times wants to debate the war itself, great. I think debating the tools and the toolshop is butting in to no purpose.

Other than selling papers, I suppose...


Drudge links Reuters concerning the Vice-Presidnet's health:

"Cheney walking with cane due to foot problem"

Foot-In-Mouth Disease? Or did he bruise it kicking leaky subordinates?


Bob Lewis of AP reports on the case of Roger Keith Coleman, executed by the State of Virginia in 1992 for rape and murder. Outgoing Virginia Governor Mark R. Warner has ordered retests of DNA from the crime scene:

As Lewis notes: "If the tests show Roger Keith Coleman did not rape and kill his sister-in-law in 1981, it will mark the first time in the United States that an executed person has been scientifically proved innocent"...

I don't know if this has been done before in other places. I do know that if he's proven innocent after the fact it will be a live grenade into the death-penalty issue.

Question: Do you suppose the government could be sued for wrongful death if it is determined he wasn't the killer?


FoxNews reports on the appellant tactics of Qian Wenzhao of Minle County, Gansu province, China, who blew up himself and four other people in a courtroom...,2933,180935,00.html

Fox provides context: "Bomb attacks motivated by grudges or business disputes are common in China, where most gun ownership is banned but explosives are widely available for mining and construction."

Well! Whoda thunk it!

I guess that shows when outlaws can't get guns, they'll make bombs!

So the next time someone says banning guns is a good idea, point at China - point to, I mean, pointing at would be misunderstood - and declaim, "would you rather be shot or blown up?!?!"


Drudge links the earth-shattering news:

An Italian court is going to decide if Jesus existed...

I hope, in keeping with the spirit of the endeavor, that all participants dress up in Medieval garb... And the loser gets burned at the stake...

Seriously... It is gratifying to find there is a court system that wastes more time than ours does...

Friday, January 06, 2006


Of the rabid right, that is...

Scott Whitlock blogs at Newsbusters:

"Clooney: We Need to “Understand” Terrorists, Not “Label” Them"

Whitlock is civil enough; it's his commenters who decend to the level of rabid...

Stupid and rabid... Stupid, Stupid, Stupid...

I am beginning to accept it is impossible to get the neocon cannonfodder to grasp this point; the distinction may simply too fine for them:

Just as "martyr" doesn't imply good - you can be a martyr for evil - "understand" doesn't mean give the bastards a big hug... Empathy isn't sympathy. Clooney is 100% right:

"...if you are going to fight a war on terror, which is not a state that you can go and bomb, then you need to understand what it is that creates the people who would do such horrible things, rather then just saying- labeling them as evildoers."

But the neocons can't fit this into their little box. They insist on dragging the baggage of their viewpoint into everything, and everything that cannot be fit into that narrow, tiny framework is rudely dismissed.

That's why they are so easily manipulated by spinners like Karl Rove: He knows how to walk in the other man's shoes - and he understands that if he does, he can direct their path.

I have read Rove is a student of Sun Tzu... Who would certainly laugh at the beetlebrowed neocon approach...

In other circumstances, the neocon attitude could simply be shrugged off, but today the stakes are higher. Long-practiced Western arrogance has helped to fuel a backlash that begins to cost us dear. The neocons dragged us into one war by exaggerating a threat, demonizing a paper-tiger enemy, and conflating one inimical force with another. The result? A debacle. We could have rebuilt the entire mideast for the cost of this mess, and, objectively, we're losing. At every milestone we are assured improvement is on the horizon, yet events continue to mock their surety. Yesterday, eleven more American troops shed their blood on the alter of this fool's errand:

Eleven more martyrs for our side...

Yet the neocons are agitating for another war, even as the one we're already in degenerates and the original objectives in the "war on terror" are lost in the shuffle.

This Nation is mighty, and in many ways mighty good as well. But we are not invincible. We can be destroyed: And the neocons have put us on the first steps of the path to that fate.

Really, I wonder whose side they are on.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


A splendid twofer...

"Iran President Hopes For Sharon's Death"

"Hopefully, the news that the criminal of Sabra and Chatilla has joined his ancestors is final," states the foremost Statesman of Iran...

"Pat Robertson: Stroke May Be God's Punishment..."

Quoth America's foremost Christian Jihahi:

"The prophet Joel makes it very clear that God has enmity against those who, quote, 'divide my land.' God considers this land to be his. You read the Bible, he says, 'This is my land.' And for any prime minister of Israel who decides he's going carve it up and give it away, God says, 'No. This is mine.'"

But the damned snake still puts frosting on it...

Robertson insists he was "sad" to see Sharon fall sick, and that he was a "very likeable person."

"I prayed with him personally. But here he is at the point of death. He was dividing God's land, and I would say woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the EU, the United Nations or the United States of America."

I'll raise the blood pressure again. There is not one whit difference between these two fanatics, except Robertson has the luxury of peaceful means of accomplishing his tyranny.

Personally, if I have to choose, I'll take the Iranian. I prefer my fantatics without wax... You know, sincere...

Not that I would choose either... I think it's a shame there is no hell for both of them to burn in - together.

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