Thursday, September 27, 2007

Who is the "Phoney" soldier

Rush Limbaugh is a man who dodged the draft. He is a man who abuses drugs. He is a man whose relationships with women are coercive. He is also a man who speaks for large segments of the fundo-fascist heart of America.

He has, in the past, criticized the educated, the poor, the undocumented, the entertainment community, the gay community, racial, ethnic and religious minorities, the young, the old, the female. He has accused them all, at various times, of being un-patriotic, un-American, and criminally misguided. He even impugns the integrity of senior leaders of the conservative movement, people like John Warner of Kentucky, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, who have, at times, found themselves at odds with the President on the correct way to prosecute the war in the Middle East.

Rush has found a new group to castigate, the "Phoney Soldiers". These are the members of the Army and Marine Corps in Iraq who have had the temerity to develop independent thoughts about efficatiousness of the mission that they are carrying out. Independant thoughts are now apparently treasonous. These men are not "real" soldiers.

Rush is scum. A man without courage. A man without conviction. A man without intellect. A man without honor. He plays to the lowest common denominator of our fears and prejudices.

There is one freedom we have that is not in the Constitution. It is a freedom that no tyrant can outlaw, that imprisonment cannot suppress, that torture cannot stop. It is freedom of thought. This is the freedom, the exercise of which, Rush criticizes.

What an asshole.

Bush Fights Global Warming

George Bush is hosting his own Global Warming Summit this week. It is dedicated to the proposition that every country and each individual will do all they can voluntarily to curb carbon emissions, while realizing that some things are out of our control.

Sounds reasonable to me. First of all, the military should be exempt. The reasons for this are obvious. Anybody calling for the military to curb its use of energy is a treasonous coward. Likewise, the government and its service agencies should be exempt. Corporate and business endeavors should be exempt because they provide jobs, goods and services we all need. Utility companies should be exempt because we all need power and can't be expected to pay exorbitant rates for it, or cut back. Gasoline is a sacred cow, because it is every good Americans birthright to drive a huge, lumbering SUV as many damn miles as he/she pleases, whenever they want.

That being said I'm sure that the President's voluntary energy conservation initiatives will be a great success. I know I'll sleep easier tonight knowing the planet will be safe and secure for future generations.

Monday, September 17, 2007

If you don't like the way things are, just lie about it

The Bush Administration, in the person of Condi Rice is "shocked, shocked" to find the Blackwater Security Group is engaging in the indiscriminate murder of Iraqi civilians and has canceled their contracts in Iraq and ordered them out of the country.

Right, like they didn't know what these guys were doing all along and in fact, ordering most of it done. Now that Bush has instituted a "kinder, gentler war" in Iraq, it is no longer convenient to have the Blackies around.

Another good one is that Bush administration spokesmen announced last week that torture has been banned for interrogation purposes. They also state that no torture has been performed in over 18 months and was never performed in prisons on American soil.

The problem with that is, they have stated unequivocally, that they have never tortured anyone, ever and that there are no American prisons on foreign soil. Go figure.

One last Bush lie of the week. In his annual report to Congress on the International War on Drugs, Bush reports that 2 countries have made inadequate progress in combating drugs, whatever that means. Venezuela, whose President has become Bush's new main bogeyman and Burma, which used to grow much of the worlds opium, before we transferred the franchise to the Afghans. We are not even trying to be friendly with either one of these countries, for reasons that have nothing to do with narcotics. They just needed to point the finger somewhere and didn't want to tattle on the countries where drug production and trafficking are rampant, because we are trying to be friendly to them.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


They are coming home soon. Coming home to the towns and cities in the American heartland where the soldiers grow. They will be spending time with their families and friends before they have to go back again. Not the officers. Not the REMFs. The Dogfaces. The Ground Pounders. The guys in for one or two hitches, with one or two stripes and a Combat Infantryman Badge.

They'll talk. Not about what they did or what happened to them, so much. There will be interesting anecdotes about the things they saw. The comrades they admired and those they didn't. They'll talk about what's been going on over there and what has been accomplished and what hasn't. They will talk about their leadership, from company commander to commander in chief. Their families and friends will listen carefully, because they care about what has happened to their own. They care about what will happen to them in the future. They will measure what they have heard and seen from the leaders of our country on their televisions against what they are told by the soldiers who have been there and come back to them, for awhile. They will think about what they have heard, long and hard. These are patriotic people. People with strength. People with spine. At home, at work, at church, in politics, they do what has to be done, the right thing. If they have been misled. If they have been lied to. If the blood of their own has been shed on no account, it will not be a matter of simply putting a stop to it.


No Thanks

George Bush wants political reconciliation. He thinks we all ought to be able to get together and decide on a way to work out our problems. Where was political reconciliation when he lied his way into the war in Iraq. Where was it when he packed the Supreme Court. Where was it when he set up secret prisons in foreign countries, where who knows what went on or who was held. Where was it when he went on his meglo-messianic rants about being moved by God to lead the country into a new era of righteousness and turned over the most critical functions of the Executive branch to tongue talking, mouth foaming, cousin marrying, snake handlers. Where the fuck was it then.

I guess I'll just take a pass on political reconciliation for now.

Adventures in Global Warming

For the first time in recorded history, the northwest passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans is open and navigable. It won't be open all year, at least not for now but there should be at least 3-4 good months from late summer into the fall from now on. In another 10-15 years it may be open most of the time.

This means that container ships from China can sail directly to the East Coast of the US and into the Midwest via the St Lawrence Seaway to unload shit loads of cheap Chinese crap that the households of America so depend upon. This will relieve congestion in the West Coast ports and save on secondary and tertiary transportation, warehousing, and distribution costs that dilute the cheap, chewy goodness of Asian products. It means that Asian immigrants, by the countless containerful can now directly access the job markets of the East Coast and Midwest. It also means that the Panamanians can concentrate on their primary mission in life of making sure America gets plentiful supplies of the narcotics that we so vitally need at a price we can afford.

Cruise Ships will now have an exciting new destination to offer. Legions of retirees and swinging singles will soon be partying through the passage, dining on all you can eat buffet and watching the polar bears frolic on the sea ice before they are lost forever in the pages of history. Innuit villages will become colorful ports of call and the money it brings in will quickly quench their ardor for long kayaking trips in search of blubber.

Just when you think life can't get any better in the good old USA, something like this happens and globally warms the cockles of my heart.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Don't Make Me Laugh

GWB started the war in Iraq. He claimed we needed this war to "protect the homeland". Never mind that this was exactly the same thing that Hitler told the World when he invaded Poland and what Tojo said when he bombed Pearl Harbor. They were more widely believed than Bush, probably because they were more sincere.

Bush has now come before us with his same sorry little story, dressed up in tawdry, whorish, new clothes. We are doing so well in Iraq that we can begin to withdraw forces, when we really lack the forces to maintain the current troop numbers anyway. We are going to form a long term strategic alliance with Iraq, meaning we will keep their puppet government in place indefinitely, propped up with American lives and money.

Will anybody believe him? Of course. Will it be enough?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I Don't Think This is Spinnable.

Anybody who is the least interested has watched the Senate testimony of the Ambassador to and the Commanding General in Iraq over the last two days. It was mesmerizing. Heartrending.

It's like when, as a young boy, your dog runs into the street and is run over by a truck. Lying in a pool of blood, bones crushed, entrails spread out over the pavement, the poor pooch is still alive, whining and looking to you for help through large liquid brown eyes. You are overcome by emotion. Totally helpless and inexplicably ashamed. That's what it was like.

Democratic and Republican Senators alike seem dumbstruck. Everybody agrees that there is no connection between 9/11 and the war in Iraq. Everybody understands that Iraq is irrepairably broken. Everybody understands that the American forces are doing the best they can but there is no indication anything they are doing will be of any help at all.

One way or another, this situation is going to be resolved soon. It simply cannot go on.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Silly Austrians

Ratzo is cruising Austria this weekend. He's not getting much of a reception. The vast majority of Austrians still consider themselves Catholics but they're a little pissed at the Church. The first reason dates back to the end of World War II. Hundreds of Austrian Catholic priests were arrested and put in concentration camps by the Nazis for their opposition to the policies they imposed. You know, the denial of God, Jew extermination, stuff like that. The Austrian Church didn't allow these priests back into the mainstream of the Church after the War because it made the other priests feel "funny". The Austrians never understood that decision. they are still mad about it. The other reason is more recent. Like America, they had a lot of problems with pedophile priests. Most Austrian Catholics would like to have women priests and allow all priests to marry. It's not a big idealogical thing with them. They just want to attract more "normal" people into the priesthood and allow them normal sexual outlet. They think maybe then, they wouldn't spend so much time sodomizing the children. The Pope, of course, will not discuss foolish ideas like this with them.

Silly Austrians, they really don't understand what the church stands for at all.

First Pop

It looks like the SoCal real estate bubble is going to experience its first big pop in a novel location, Mexico.

Over the last couple of years, developers, having optioned land on the Pacific coast, between Tijuana and Ensenada, have been taking 20-25% cash deposits on condos to be built there. The first phases of these developments are now nearing completion. Most of these condos sold for between $300,000-$500,000. In order to take procession, the buyers must come up with the balance in cash or secure a Mexican mortgage at 11-13% interest.

It turns out, most of the people that bought these Baja bungalows, did so for purposes of speculation. They planned on picking up a quick 20-30% on the purchase price, doubling their money, by flipping the property before it was even completed. The problem is, they haven't gone up in value. Nobody knows what they are worth, because they aren't currently selling at all. To compound the problem, many of the buyers refinanced their US homes to come up with the down payment and now face unsustainable levels of debt even without the burden of a Mexican Beach condo.

They have been marketing these things as the answer to the baby boomer's retirement dreams. I guess they will have to get new answers or new dreams.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Pin Money

Saturday Night.

We went out to the Olive Garden for a late supper. Soup and salad combo X2. One glass iced tea and one small glass house wine. About as cheap as you can go. Real good. With tax and 20% tip, came to $36 even.

Given the rate of inflation, in about ten years, it'll cost about twice as much. In ten years I'll be eligible for Social Security. $1500 a month. Soup and salad and ten gallons of gas, twice a week. That's what it will get me, by then.

Bush says Social Security is broken and needs to be fixed. Seems to me that inflation will do it for him.

Pin money.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Brits Beat Feet in Reverse Surge

The British are, by far, our biggest ally in the war in Iraq. Their troop strength there currently is at 5,500, compared with our 130,000+ and double that if you add in "defense contractors". That's a little less than 20:1 or 40:1, depending in how you want to look at it.

Over the last year, they have abdicated responsibility for military oversight of all but one of the provinces that they were originally given to administer, with the exception being Basra, on the Southern Border with Kuwait. Today, they pulled out of Basra, moving their troops out of town, to fortified positions surrounding the city's airport. The airport, is not strategic in any sense, except as an excellent position from which to flee.

The situation in Basra is not good. While the official British position is that they are retreating in order to effect a supervised turnover of power to the Iraqi civil authorities, no one expects that to happen. The city will be divided up between the various militia groups and partisan fighting will ensue. This has been the pattern as the British have left province after province in Southern Iraq. The unofficial rationale for this staged withdrawal in Iraq, is that no progress in Iraq is being made and none is likely, given the resources in men and material in Iraq. " We've done all that we can do", is the term heard most often to describe the unofficial British policy in Iraq. While British forces are not likely to be pulled out in mass, another 10% draw down of 500 men are scheduled to leave no later than November and no one doubts that more withdrawals will be announced soon.

In England, this weekend, two retired Generals and a former Foreign Minister all publicly castigated the Bush administration for it's slipshod and short sighted planning for the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq. These men were all directly involved in the invasion, highly placed and universally admired, at least up until this point. In a nutshell, they stated that the Americans bet the farm that they would be welcomed as liberators and a stable civilian government would soon be in place. They lost the bet and now the wager must be redeemed.

The war in Iraq has never had great popular support in Britain. The unpopularity of the war is eclipsed by the revulsion the populace commonly hold for George Bush and his Neocon handlers, a revulsion shared by most of the civilized World.

President Bush today made a surprise visit to Anbar Province in Iraq, landing Air Force One at the heavily fortified al Asad airbase, in a much needed attempt to bolster American public opinion of the war. He expressed satisfaction with the progress of the war and went so far as to say that some forces might soon be withdrawn. This news was well received by the troops, most of whom are near or beyond the end of their projected deployment dates and many of whom are veterans of multiple deployments.

Whether you agree with the war in Iraq or not, I think it is safe to say that the war is at a critical juncture. I think that we, the American people, are also not being given all of the real facts about the situation, as it stands, in Iraq. I realize that there is often a great deal of censorship in the name of operational security during wartime. This is only possible, however if the populace has some small modicum of trust that the leadership is acting in their best interest, or at least can be relied upon to act with minimal levels of competence. Neither one of these things is evident to anybody in this case.

A Rectal Retentive Approach to Retirement Planning

President Bush has learned that the country is on the verge of an economic crisis. He is determined to intervene, with the help of his hand picked advisers and avert a slowdown in the economy. We have already seen his initial responses. We will be seeing more in the weeks and months ahead. I am sure that he will act swiftly and decisively.

Like he did after 9/11.

Like he did after Katrina.

Like he did with the deficit.

Like he did with the trade imbalance.

Like he did with illegal immigration.

Like he did with Social Security.

Like he did with Medicare.

Like he did with Public Education and illiteracy.

Like he did with Terry Schaivo.

Like he did with stem cell research.

Like he did with the war on drugs.

I could go on but you probably get the idea.

As a citizen of this country, rapidly approaching old age and dependent on modest personal savings and investments for income and security in the years to come, I'm doing what any reasonable person would do.

I'm selling everything I have and buying diamonds. I'm going to put the diamonds in a little bag. I'm going to grease up the bag. . . .and shove it up my rectum.

Greedy Rich People Killing the Poor, Republicans at Work

If anybody has any lingering doubts about the abiding evilness of Republican party politics in this country, this should put them to rest. Several weeks ago there was a tragic mine cave-in, at a coal mine in Utah. During the immediate aftermath, as rescue efforts were being organized, the owner of the mine went before the assembled press and went on a rant about this tragic event being the result of an earthquake and not negligent mining practices and specifically one practice, known as retreat mining. He lambasted the liberal media for assuming the culpability of greedy management in the cave-in, when it was simply an act of God. The problem with this was, nobody, in the liberal media or otherwise, had brought up the subject of retreat mining or negligence.

A common way of shoring up the chambers in a deep mine operation, once the mined material has been removed, is to leave pillars of the substrata in place, to support the ceiling. Once all of the valuable substance has been removed and no more excavation is planned, these pillars, which are, of course, composed of the valuable substance, are blown out and recovered. Once this is done, the chamber, no longer supported, collapses. The trick is not to have it collapse on the miners removing the last of the mined substance. Turns out, retreat mining is not an illegal practice. Turns out, it's quite common. Turns out, miners will do it if you pay them enough. Turns out, mine operators are willing to pay them enough. Voila, the free market economy in action.

The day after the unfortunate news conference, the mine owner appeared, bolstered by the presence, by his side, of his old friends, the senior Senator from Utah and the Governor of the State, both Republicans. They all reassured the families and press that everything that could be done to rescue the trapped miners, would be done. No more mention was made of the factors which may have contributed to the collapse of the mine.

I suspect the reason that retreat mining is not illegal is that no one, outside the mining industry, believes anyone would be stupid enough or greedy enough to do it. This kind of thinking is always a mistake. As far as I know, there are no bills pendind to limit or control retreat mining.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

The Spice must flow, Maud'Dib

After a turbulent time of denial and self flagellation, the conservative movement in America, is coming to grips with a terrible truth. The demons they have been fighting against, in an attempt to exorcise the evil from American culture and return to traditional values, are, in fact, themselves.

The conservative philosophy is based on the premise that Americans are self sufficient, that they will take care of their own. They will do this through hard work, fiscal responsibility, creativity, education and faith; Faith in God and faith in the system. Their natural leaders are those who have demonstrated the ability to overcome initial hardship and become successful in the free market system.

Over more than two centuries of history, our society has accepted immigrants from all over the world. These immigrants have struggled to succeed, to carve out a place for themselves and they have done it. Group after group, culture after culture, have come here and made a place for themselves. America is a meritocracy in its purest form, not everyone succeeds but everyone can try. It's the way the system is designed.

The American system has worked in ways that its designers never intended. In virtually every society in the World, women were chattel. America has given them the chance for independence and equality and they have taken it. Large numbers of people were brought here as slaves. The law said that they would always be slaves. And their children. And their children's children. Didn't work. Asians were barred from coming here and denied participation in the system. They're here. They participate. Gypsies and Jews have wandered the World for millennia, always apart from those among whom they lived, until they lived in America. We originally wrested large portions of this country away from Hispanic control and drove them South. They're back. In business, education, government and entertainment, homosexuals are some of the most prominent and influential leaders. They are out of the closet and aren't going back. A juggernaut has no on/off switch. The faster it goes, the faster it goes. There is no guiding the way. There is no turning back. What we have done here, has changed the World. What's happening in the World will now change us.

The conservative movement in America would like, now, to put on the brakes. They would like to institute a society of law. There are no brakes. There is no law. People will do whatever they want, whatever benefits them. Placing a restraint on trade simply makes the trade more lucrative, thereby attracting a better class of people into it. Legislating morality will not sway people who have labored to live according to their own desires. People will only pay those taxes which they see benefit from. Any "help" the government seeks to give to people will be abused. Blocking the entrance of people into our society only makes entrance more valuable.

The Spice must flow, Maud'Dib.