Tuesday, November 21, 2006


I’ve a lot of different things chasing each other through the fetid crags of my dirty little mind today… I thought I’d scoop ‘em all into one bag…

First, an opinion:

Establishment liberals waxed derisive while conservatives hooted catcalls as Nancy Pelosi worked to elect John Murtha Majority Leader. After the effort failed, pundits provided a plethora of analyses as to the damage “her failure” did to her upcoming Speakership.

Keeping in mind one can be scrupulously principled and dead wrong at the same time…

You have to admit that so far the Speaker-elect is being uncommonly principled – uncommon, that is, for the House of Representatives… She clearly believes the election just over is a mandate to “get us out” of Iraq, whatever that means. She also believes Representative Murtha played a significant role in popularizing the message.

So ignoring his many other shortcomings and the potential damage of failure she pushed his candidacy.

Add to this the fact she has come out in opposition to a new draft, it becomes all the plainer she is serious about pushing to “get us out.” We won’t need a draft if we’re not stuck in Iraq…

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports this morning that the Democrats are planning a REALLY BIG SHEW on ethics. From the article:

“Despite divisions among Democrats over how far to go in revising ethics rules, House leaders plan a major rollout of an ethics reform bill early next year to demonstrate concern about an issue that helped defeat the Republicans in the midterm elections.

But they will do it with a twist: Instead of forwarding one big bill, Democrats will put together an ethics package on the House floor piece by piece, allowing incoming freshmen to take charge of high-profile issues and lengthening the time spent on the debate. The approach will ensure that each proposal -- including banning gifts, meals and travel from lobbyists as well as imposing new controls on the budget deficit -- is debated on its own and receives its own vote. That should garner far more media attention for the bill's components before a final vote on the entire package.

"This will be the most significant ethics and lobbying reform that Congress has ever voted on," promised Rep. Martin T. Meehan (D-Mass.), one of the point men on the effort.”

I wondered if Jim McDermott would be involved in the circus, so I perused his page… Web, that is, not Congressional… Jim doesn’t even have a link to ethics…

Moving down the pecking order, Arianna Huffington bitch-slaps James Carville for his criticism of Howard Dean, opining Democrats need to send the “Agin' Cajun to the Political Consultants' Retirement Home.”

I have to say I enjoyed that, and I bet a lot of other people did too. I bet if you charged $5 a pop for the chance to slap Carville, you could pay off the National debt…

Meanwhile, with the jury still out, the vigilantes are advocating a hanging. Joshua Muravchik of the American Enterprise Institute opines in the LA Times that we must bomb Iran.

Blood pressure time… I think it is cowardly and foolish, not to mention ultimately counterproductive, to insist there is no legitimacy to Iran’s desire for nuclear power generation capacity. As I read this article, I see one theme repeated over and over… Hezbollah. Hezbollah this, Hezbollah that… Hezbollah isn’t my problem, and neither is the security of those whose problem they are…

But the nightmare Medusa of fossil fuel reliance is my problem, and as I have opined in the past and will in the future, I think the way out – the only way out – is nuclear power. I think the US should go all out to build energy self-sufficiency via nuclear power. That said, I think it hypocritical for us to attempt to block others…

Yes, I know the arguments. I don’t care. This is inevitable. And I’m tired of watching the American people be dragged around by their fears. We spent 40 years steeling ourselves for an Armageddon that never happened and in fact came closer to happening by accident than design. Now the Fear Party wants to drag us around by a fear of a nation that cannot possible give us more than a bloody nose and almost certainly won’t, if it comes to it, even try. Oh, I know. There are millions of people in the Middle East – and millions in the US – who want to create Armageddon in the unholy land, today. But I think I’m going to cast my lot with common sense. In the end, most people will realize in time all this religious stuff is pure crap and they won’t follow the freaks off the cliff…

Over at Slate Christopher Hitchens has a few choice words for James Baker & co, asking “Who’s Cutting and Running Now?” I found this piece interesting not so much for his criticisms as for it’s value as a reminder of what a radical departure GWB’s Iraq policy was from previous policies. Now, it seems some of the same people who created the long standoff between the Gulf Wars are being tapped to talk us out of the quagmire.

It’s also a flag for anyone in Iraq who is really supporting us: As Hitchens notes, Baker was a chief author of the policy that encouraged Shiite and Kurdish dissent against Saddam Hussein and then failed to support that dissent. “For millions of Iraqis, the betrayal of their uprising against Saddam in 1991 is something that they can never forget. They tend to bring it up, too, and to fear a repetition of it.”

They should.

Well, I guess all you can say is WAAAAA!!! “Young people in developed countries unhappy, survey says” Of course, a lot of theories are offered as to why kids in India are happier than kids in Japan or the US. Here’s mine: Western kids have an impossible to attain definition of success. In Japan, its work related success, in the good ‘ol USA, it’s an insidious combination of materialistic goals and obsession with beauty.

What did the Mr. wizard of my childhood cartoons say? “Be just what you is, not what you is not. Those who do this are the happiest lot.”

Maybe these kids need better cartoons.

I knew there was more to this story and I hoped it would come out. A few weeks ago, a much-reported study claimed Iraq's 'Excess' Death Toll Has Reached 655,000. Fred Kaplin at Slate took issue with the study, and his criticisms have elicited a response from the study authors, which Fred responds to.

The heart of the issue: Using an accepted statistical technique not heretofore applied in Iraq, the study authors concluded the total death rate from all causes was 13.3 per 1000. The pre-war rate had to be estimated, and was pegged at 5.5 / 1000, which is lower than in the graying West but higher than other Middle Eastern Nations which have the young populations a high birth rate provides. Other estimates, however, place the pre-war rate as high as 10 / 1000.

So even if the 13.3 figure is correct – I expect it probably it is – we still don’t know where we are because we don’t know where we came from…

This is ugly… H Candice Gorman, attorney for a Mr. Al-Ghizzawi, currently being held in Guantanamo, without, she maintains, any cause – let alone a just or legal one. Speaking of Rumsfeld, Gonzolez, and their cronies she writes: “Even if the only thing they were guilty of doing was what they did to Mr. Al-Ghizzawi, they deserve to be tried and convicted as war criminals. They need to sit in tiny cells for the rest of their lives and ponder their cruelty.”

More blood pressure… If her assertions are correct, I agree. Anyone involved in this should be stripped of all immunity and turned over to The World Court for trial as war criminals. If GWB was in on it, this alone should be a slam dunk for impeachment.

And this should be a wake-up for all Americans: Under current law, anyone can disappear into these hellholes. Being an American is a meaningless protection if you are held incommunicado. In fact, it would make it worse. If they grabbed Joe Citizen by accident and then figured it out six months of torture later, they almost certainly wouldn’t let him go for fear of legal reprisals.

IMO, the recently passed exceptions in Habeas Corpus robs the US government of all legitimacy. “We” are now ruled by criminal thugs no better than a Saddam Hussein. If they want my allegiance, they can repeal that ghastly law. Until then, it ain’t my government…

Here’s some bile from the sore-losers of the right wing: Jenean Mcbrearty laments in The Lexington-Herald Leader “Hippies still trying to ruin the country”

Note to Ms. McDipshit: I’ll take hippies over you hillbillies any day… She writes: “America won't win another war until the 1960s flower children are pushing up petunias.” Idiot. America won’t have peace until all her kind are pushing up Skunk Cabbage…

Then on a values note: William Saletan at Slate suggests a novel idea for the Democrats: "Go back to being the party of responsibility." He weaves several themes together, but the one I find the most interesting is the latest morphing of the prohibitionist vs. liberalist position on abortion. Prohibitionists have managed of late to back themselves into a corner over birth control. To Saletan, the remedy for the public perception of Democrats as the “if it feels good, do it” party is simple: Advocate that “Democrats are for reducing abortion without banning it. The most effective way, short of abstinence, is through birth control. Birth control isn't about doing what feels good. It's about taking responsibility.”

I think ultimately this will be the winning position…

And last an economic twofer: Drudge led this morning with one of those “grabber” headlines he is so fond of: GOOGLE HITS $500 A SHARE; MARKET VALUE $154,570,000,000.00

This reminded me of a piece by Daniel Gross at Slate: “The Mystery of the Disappearing Stocks” Gross offers “A bizarre explanation for the stock market rally,” suggesting “The continuing stock rally in the face of a slowing economy and a cratering housing sector is something of a mystery, baffling economists and investors alike. But there could be a simple explanation: supply and demand.

Simply put, the supply of U.S. stocks available for individual investors, mutual funds, and index funds. Call it de-equitization. In the last few days, deals have been announced or concluded to take large publicly held companies private.”

He goes on to elucidate this ongoing trend: “According to Thomson Financial, buyouts worth $334.5 billion have been announced or completed so far this year, up from $115 billion for all of last year. According to Standard & Poor's, members of the S&P 500 Index spent $325.15 billion on their own shares in the first three quarters of 2006 and have spent more than $674 billion since Jan. 1, 2005. Between buybacks and buyouts, that's more than $1.1 trillion of stock taken out of public hands in less than two years.”

I have long thought this economy is badly overrated – and I think he’s on to something here. It is the same as the just busted speculative boom in oil. There is a lot of money out there looking for a home, and fewer and fewer places for it to go.

I don’t think it will last – I think once the buyback frenzy described subsides, the P/E ratio will reassert itself and the prices will “re-align”… Translation: 8,000 DOW within a year.

Good Day…

Cross-Posted to NW Bloggers

You believe Iran is pursuing nuclear power for energy needs? Would you please go out and buy a newspaper. Read what their president is saying and read a little bit about the sect he belongs to. For Gods sake man, use just a little common sense.

I am reminded of that scene in Jaws, where Richard Dreyfus grabs the mayor of the town and points to a billboard where someone has graffiti’d a shark fin poking out of the water behind a swimming girl. “I am aware, Mayor, that you are going to continue to ignore this problem until it comes up to bite you on the ass”.

No matter, when Iran does have the bomb I am quite sure you will find a way to blame it all on Bush. Slap on the liberal boilerplate, absolve yourself and call it good.
If the laws regarding Habeas Corpus have stripped the US of all legitimacy, then I am quite sure you are waiting for the Democrats to reverse those changes. Surely if they don’t attempt it, then they will have even less legitimacy than Bush himself. It will be interesting to see the gyrations the left will go through to excuse their own party.

Anhooo a little basic legal lesson here: Whine and moan all you want about the world court. We have never recognized it. The world court has the same authority to try Bush as I do if I started up my own kangaroo court. The world court is really nothing more than a useful tool of Europe to bash America. Obviously you don’t see that. Don’t you ever wonder why they don’t haul Kim Jong Il in front of it for starving his own people?
I never watched Jaws...

R, I have to say, in some ways I find that you represent the very worst of American exceptionalism. Never ratified the court we helped to create? Irrelevant.

The point is it doesn't matter what I believe - Iran has this right under international law. You wish to be a legalist? They have a right to peaceful nuclear power, under treaties we HAVE signed.

Iran has oil they can sell. They have uranium they can't. Yes, find it reasonable they might want nuclear electricity.

And yes I have read the constant sniping, and I don't care. They can't do enough to us to matter. Their antipathy is aimed at Israel - and I don't support Israel. Israel has made its bed... They can lie in it. I'm not going to advocate hobbling the prosperity of 80 million Iranians because of some loudmouthed pronouncements aimed at a nation that sends out as many threats as it receives.

And your support of that, sir, is the support of Israeli exceptionalism - which is even more obnoxious that American exceptionalism. At least we have earned some stature... They are just pretenders.
It is irrelevant that we never ratified the world court? How novel.

So Bush going ahead and making up law, never mind about whether congress passed (ratified) it is now not a big deal to you? Sorry, but that is the logical interpretation of your comment.

Hey wait a second you sly dog. In the second paragraph all of a sudden our signing (ratifying) a treaty is relevant? Which is it? Your logic is confusing, but always interesting to me to say the least. Gosh I get an ice cream headache trying to figure it out though.

Oh well, I guess that’s just makes me exceptional as you said.

Now you might not like Israel. But, trust me on this one ok – a nuclear war between any two nations is not something that has no consequences for us.
Oh - and puh-leeeeesse you saw Jaws.
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