Monday, June 30, 2008

Crimes Against Property

An old, fat man, with an habitual drinking problem, shot in the back and killed two much younger, illegal alien men, as they were running away, after exiting a neighbors home through a window, carrying a bag of stolen loot. He did this after having called 911 and being advised not to confront these men. He did it even though there was a plain clothes police detective parked in front of the house, having heard the police dispatchers alert, with further police in route and helicopters overhead. He did it even though both burglars were unarmed and in no way threatened his person or property. He did this in the State of Texas, knowing that the law had recently been changed to allow him to carry out this act, under sanction of law.

The right to possess fire arms brings with it responsibility. These two men were robbing an empty house and that is a crime but a crime against property only. If the residents of the house had been there at the time, then it would have been home invasion and the use of deadly force would have been justified. They were not. It was not. Maybe you think it's stupid to get all sentimental about the lives of what are probably two irredeemably habitual felons. The fact is though, they might as well have been two barefoot boys named Huck and Tom, stealing a pie off a kitchen window sill. Shooting them in the back would have been just as legal in the State of Texas.

I'm not saying people shouldn't be able to have whatever weapons they feel are appropriate, to protect themselves and their property. What I'm saying is, they better be able to justify their actions in a satisfactory manner, after having committed homicide. Taking a life is a serious thing. It can't be undone. There is no compensation that is adequate for it.

The State of Texas decided not to prosecute this man, for these killings. I wonder what they would have done if it was Huck and Tom he killed,

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Scumbag Never Falls Far From The Soiled Mattress

We could spend a lot of time asking ourselves how it came to be that we elected a President and Vice President that are treasonous, cowardly scum, men who would declare unilateral war on nations that did us no harm and posed us no threat. We could likewise ask how we elected a Congressional majority who sat silent while these wars were embarked upon. We could ask ourselves how America became involved in a program of mass incarceration of suspected terrorists and sympathizers and the routine use of torture during the interrogation of these unfortunates, the genesis of which started not in the heat and frustration of combat but in the calm and measured environment of the West Wing of the White House. We can ask ourselves how it came to be that we have given up so many of our civil rights, every time we use a telephone, send a letter, use public transport or enter a public building.

Questioning these things is an exercise in uselessness. The fact is that all of these things have come to pass. They are now the accepted way that the United States does business. Most of the World and large portions of our own population now believe that the highest officials of our government are under no obligation to act with honor or honesty. Large numbers of our citizens now believe that their armed forces and intelligence operatives have a right, indeed an obligation, to torture combatant prisoners. Our Armed Forces believe it too and that's what will be taught at our National military academies and officer training programs. Likewise, civilian surveillance and communications monitoring programs are now accepted by the public and as a useful tool to be used by authorities. They will not be stopped. The right of public egress and privacy are gone forever. You can codify in law anything you want about freedom but public practice and usage are the standards by which we live our lives.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Gold Fever

Everybody says, don't buy gold. It's had its run. There's nothing left. Better to just sit on the sidelines with cash and bide your time. I say bullshit, give me the gold. I can have some made into jewelry for my wife. I can bury some in the backyard. I can have some made into prosthesis' for the teeth, rotting in my head. You can't do that with paper monry.

Lying Liers that Ly do OK, it's Cheaters that Never Prosper

The Republican administration and all the slick, Wall Street criminal bunco artists that they front for, have been touting the scenario that the American economy has been in a mild slowdown for the last year, just taking a little breather. No recession. No depression. Nothing to worry about.

From the very beginning of the slowdown last Summer, through the ensuing Fall, Winter and Spring the script has called for a robust recovery, starting in the third quarter of this year. You kept hearing it over and over again, as if repeating it could make it true. A lot of investors have been buying into weakness in the equities markets, in the belief that things will turn around this Summer, as Q3 unfolds and they will reap profits.

Well, Q3 is here. This morning 29 of the Dow 30 Industrials are down to a composite tune of 200+ points and falling. Major, multi year support levels have been breached. Earnings are bad. Unemployment is rising. Consumers are spending all their money on staple food items and gasoline. Inflationary pressures are exploding, even in the face of a massive decapitalization in real estate and banking, with trillions in value disappeared.

Individuals and portfolio managers alike, are left without an approved script to follow for the next leg of the bunco/pyramid scheme that Wall Street has degenerated into or maybe always was.

Tough luck, suckers! Bush and his friends are leaving town in a few months. Their family trusts have long ago liquidated holdings in American corporations. They will come back later and scavenge through the post apocalyptic wreckage for bargains but that will be far in the Mad Max future, that the rest of us will have to live through.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Quote the Maven, "Nevermore"

I don't know if anyone noticed yesterday but there was a blatant attempt by someone, probably the government, to manipulate the commodities market into crashing. Just as the Saudis announced that they were prepared to increase oil production to accommodate market demand, someone dumped millions of ounces of gold onto the market, over the course of only a few minutes.

In response, the oil market barely blinked and continued to rise. The gold market was knocked back about twenty bucks an ounce but not down to the lower limits of the recent trading range, then bargain hunters began picking up the pieces and moving the market forward. Tomorrow, when the Fed declines to reverse any of the recent cuts in interest rates, look for commodities markets to begin a major leg upward in prices, with oil, gold and cereal grains heading to new highs and the equities markets to be breaking below major support levels, with the Dow heading for territory below 11,000.

Dead Man Walking

General Motors has announced initial price increases on it's 2009 models of 3.5%. Concurrently, they announced plans to shutdown four more plants and drastically cut production at remaining US assembly plants.

Any of you lusting after that new Aztec wagon or Sunbird convertible, better snap one up quick, because GM will be out of business by Christmas. There are not enough car buying World War II veterans left, to keep them in business.

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin, Dead at 71

George Carlin had a heart attack and died, here in LA yesterday. The guy was a comic genius. It is impossible to categorize his contributions and achievements. He played a major role, over the last 50 years, in molding the way people view the American society they live in, how they interact with each other and the language they use to do that interacting. The language that we used to liberate and liberalize ourselves was, in no small part, language that he made it acceptable to use. He will probably be cremated and there will likely be no public memorial ceremony or funeral.

Compare and contrast the length and depth of Carlin's contributions to those of Tim Russert, another public figure who recently died of a heart attack. Think about the difference in the public accolades each will have received, before they exit the passing parade. Carlin would have seen the joke there and laughed as loud as anyone.

The first I remember him was from the hippy-dippy weatherman skits, in maybe 1962. They weren't nearly as satirical as the stuff that would become his trademark, almost naively sweet. They were funny though and completely different.

Carlin is one of those guys who inspires us all to greater exercise of wit but can never be replaced.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

GOP Quakes in Fear

At the Texas GOP convention, last week, they were selling buttons, T-shirts and bumper stickers with the slogan "If Obama Wins, Will We Still Call It The White House?" emblazoned on them. Every bit as classy as you'd expect from the Party of Abraham Lincoln.

The National committee is agitating for a big police presence at the convention in Minneapolis, later this summer. It's possible some little old ladies in pink will be staging an anti-war demonstration, one day that week and they are afraid there will be wholesale violence. By who, I wonder? They also claim evidence of promised activity by fanatical, hard core biker gangs, the kind that have their shoes bolted to the pedals, wear stretchy lycra shorts and brightly colored jerseys with pouch pockets in the back. Scary.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Support the Troops

There is no mystery what it is like for our soldiers in the Middle East. It's no big secret how returning active duty service people feel. They tell anybody that's willing to listen. Nobody wants to listen. That's a big part of the problem. No one here wants to know.

When service men or women return from the Middle East, they pretty much all want the same thing. It doesn't matter if they served in a combat team in Afghanistan or on a big supply base in Kuwait, that they never went off of. It doesn't matter if they volunteered or if they got stop lossed into a second or third time around. Politics, religion or patriotism don't come into it. They want people to know what's going on where they have been. They want their contribution to be acknowledged. They want to return to and become a part of, the society that they have been separated from and not treated like a stranger among their own people.

This is exactly what they can't have and don't get. This is a different War than Vietnam but I think the problems of the returning service people are the same. It's no wonder they are all going crazy.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bring Me The Head Of Osama bin Laden!

John McCain has promised, that if he is elected, Osama bin Laden will either be killed while evading capture or executed.

This guy never ceases to amaze me. Bring 'em on! Mission Accomplished! What a fuckin' dork.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bonzo Wants To Drill

Chimpy has granted more drilling leases to Big Oil than the last several Presidents combined and he gave them away. Most of these leases will remain in the reserve inventory of the companies that hold them, for decades. Big Oil is making plenty of money, they don't need any more right now and the oil in untapped reserves around the country and off shore, is better than money in the bank. The oil they contain won't be getting any cheaper and the technology for extraction gets better and more cost effective, every year.

There is plenty of oil production off shore in American waters. Forty years ago there were problems with oil extraction off the Santa Barbara Coast in California. Huge leaks of crude into the ocean were experienced. Slicks washing up on Central Coast beaches, oil covered oceanic flora and fauna and the foul stench of petroleum became common place. Then, as now, the Santa Barbara coast was the playground of America's richest and most powerful families. They quickly put a stop to the drilling. Further South, in more plebeian latitudes, drilling continued and drilling platforms and dredged up, island pumping centers abound on the SoCal coast.

The Chimpster wants to make this a Liberal verses Conservative issue. That's bullshit. His own father put the pen to legislation placing huge off shore tracts out of consideration for mineral exploitation. Once again, he proves himself to be a sycophant to Corporate interests. Before they drill a single new well, off Santa Barbara, you can bet the oil companies will have extracted absolution, for any environmental damage that they do.

I say, if the technology is there to extract the materials from off shore sources safely and securely and the oil companies are willing to take responsibility, let them have at it. I don't hate the oil companies. I just don't get down on my knees and suck their cocks, like George W. Bush does.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Siege of al-Amara

Troops, equipment and stores are massed on the road to al-Amara in Southern Iraq. It is the latest target in Nouri al-Maliki's campaign to gain control of the major cities and economic centers of the country he claims to rule. He's currently blocking off access in and out of the city. In a day or two the siege will begin. No civilians will get in or out. Utilities and water will be disconnected. The stores and bazaars will be shut down. People will be restricted to their homes. Iraqi troops will begin to move on the streets in the periphery of the city. The Iraqis will be advised by American special forces. They will be augmented by American snipers, Stryker armored cavalry units and Predator drones. Anyone moving on the streets or in opposition to the government forces will met with deadly accurate sniper fire, artillery rounds or cluster munitions from hellfire missiles. Within a week or ten days,perhaps athousand civilian non combatants will lie dead. The local militias will be beaten down. They will grudgingly allow an armed government presence. The government will then control the population for as long as they are under the guns of the military. In the cities they have thus far liberated, the government has yet to institute a functional civil service presence. They have not reopened public schools or hospitals. They have not restored utilities. The sewage still runs down the streets and alleys. The people are grateful they can venture out and buy food.

Is this a suitable occupation for American troops? Gee, I don't know. I live in one of America's great metropolis'. There is a section of the city, South of the great concrete gash they call the river and East of the city center. It is every bit as uncontrolled by civil authority as al-Amara and just as close to the center of power as Sadr City is to the Green Zone. The police never cruise the Avenues that run North into the foothills. The only law is that of the local militias. Gun battles on the street in broad daylight are common place and arrests by the authorities are rare. The area is a storage and transport terminus for the illicit drug trade. Women are openly enslaved and trafficked. The old and young are employed in sweat shops. The young and strong are indentured to labor contractors. Businesses pay protection. The local gangs are more effective at collecting revenue here than the County Tax Assessor. I'm an old man. There hasn't been any civil control of this area since I was a child.

If the American Army is going to combat insurgent militias, let them do it on the Avenues of East LA. Unless Nouri al- Maliki wants to come here and help us, let him fight his own battles. Let those fuck faced assholes, Michael Yon and Bill Roggio embed themselves down on the Arrow Highway and report on some real Homeland Security progress as it's made. The Third Army has work to do on the streets of LA, before that broke dick Chimpy Guy can declare mission accomplished.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Why We Fight

It turns out that most of the enemy combatants held at Guantanamo aren't terrorists or even affiliated with al-Qaeda but Taliban, a domestic fundamentalist Islamic group in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In Iraq it is a similar situation. al-Qaeda in Iraq is not a terrorist organization but Sunni political insurrectionists. The Mahdi army is the militia wing of the Sadrist organization, which also has no interest in international terrorist activity. These are the people we fight in Iraq.

We have not killed or captured an actual terrorist or even terrorist organizer, since the very early days following 9/11. The startling facts, after 5 years of war are that there is no real terrorist activity in Iraq and never was. In Afghanistan, the situation is a little less clear. While there were al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan at the time of the 9/11 attacks, there is no evidence that they remained there for the long term or that they are there now. If the object of the al-Qaeda organization is to recruit and train potential terrorists for activities against Western nations, then they have certainly moved someplace where their activities are more sheltered from observation. It is very likely that the terrorist leaders are safely ensconced in family compounds, in the Gulf states, surrounded by friends and family, where they are perfectly safe from any molestation by American authorities or anyone else.

Non-partisan, embedded reporters like Michael Yon and Bill Roggio are very good at explaining and documenting the activities of our troops in the Middle East. What they neglect to focus on is that, at present, in neither country are we engaged in anti-terrorist activity but rather in aiding our puppet governments in their efforts to suppress domestic political opposition.

The Bush administration lies. They lie about all aspects of American armed intervention in the Middle East. The Military high command and intelligence structure backs them up in their lies. Whether this is because they are actually culpable or simply suffering from some misplaced sense of loyalty, is unclear. Reporters like Roggio and Yon are certainly culpable and for all their claims of impartiality, bear a much closer relation to Josef Goebbels than Edward R. Murrow. They are a disgrace to the profession of journalism. They could have been documenting the wholesale slaughter and destruction of society in the Middle East, instead, they spend their time covering "chicken drops", in neighborhoods pathetically grateful for a little peace, after extended periods of siege, murder and destruction.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fed To Deal With Inflation

Benny B says he is concerned about inflation. Hank says he won't rule out Treasury intervention. The World breaths a sigh of relief and the dollar begins to regain some of it's losses against foreign currencies. The most optimistic inflation fighters expect a series of quarter percent increases, over the next several months, that will have short term government interest rates back to the 5 1/2% rate they were at, prior to the series of rate decreases at the beginning of this year. Those who are more conservative, believe that just the cessation of further interest rate decreases and the prospect of rate increases, at some later time, will be enough to stem inflation.

While increasing interest rates will help to curb runaway inflation, current interest rates are so low that they would have to increase by at least eight or ten percent to have any effect and increases of that magnitude would throw World markets into turmoil. There are also other things that need to happen before inflation can be lessoned. The trade imbalance needs to be at least neutralized, if not moved into a positive mode. The Government must at least balance the budget, if not beginning to pay off the massive debt built up over the last few years. It isn't interest rates that have stoked inflation but the massive increase in the money supply, without any backing at all for these increased dollars and the wholesale movement of all this newly printed money overseas.

Don't kid yourself. There is no plan to deal with inflation.

Pump You Up!

The Saudis are going to increase oil production by several hundred thousand barrels a day. Due to the dramatic increase in price over the last several months, usage of oil, around the world, has actually decreased. According to the law of supply and demand, prices should be on the way down.

The reason this is not the case is that investors, unable to milk their usual victims for profit, because of the global economic contraction, have turned to commodities speculation to make their nut. This has caused the prices of food, energy and raw materials to skyrocket, exacerbating the already deteriorating economic environment.

So, why are the Saudis increasing oil production. The simple answer is, that as more speculators want to get in on oil speculation deals, there is a shortage in the inventories of oil that the speculators need to hold, in order to drive up prices to the maximum extent. The Saudis realize the benefits of providing more oil for speculators, just like a casino is always anxious to sell more chips to impatient gamblers. At the same time, they reap a public relations benefit by seemingly providing more oil, to a world market in need. The test of this is simply to observe whether the price you pay at the gas pump goes up or down in the coming months.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Rule of Law

Over the course of their tenure, Supreme Court justices tend to vote according to political affiliation. Only two of the current justices were appointed by Democratic Presidents. I am not concerned by the makeup of the court. Conservative or liberal, all justices tend to take seriously their duty to protect the individual's Constitutional rights and the rule of law.

So, while the court went out of its way to hand over the Presidency to Bush the usurper, they are in no hurry to let him turn the country into a fascist dictatorship, as is his want. I would certainly like to see a Democratic President appoint some more liberal judges to the bench but it is not that important. As long as the justices are men and women of intelligence and reason and seek that path which is of greatest benefit to the citizens continued personal autonomy, no long term damage to the evolution of the Republic will be done. I do not think that at present, there is even a single justice on the Supreme Court, that would rule to seriously damage the rights that we as citizens enjoy.

We can only hope that whoever is elected President in November, will continue to put up appointees for the Supreme Court who seek to serve the best interests of the American people.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

And Pigs Fly

The Fed is printing money as fast as they can. They are lending it out to banks at 2% interest. The government's stated rate of inflation is 4%. Most other governments of developed countries put the inflation rates at 7-10%. If you look at the increase in prices that consumers have been paying over the last couple of years in America, it would not be out of line to suggest that the real rate of inflation is 15-20%.

Bernanke and Paulson believe that the proper way for the dollar to behave in an environment like this is to increase in value. Because they are threatening to raise rates, it is doing just that. Once they print a few more batches of worthless cash and the American public are hit with another round of price increases, maybe the dollar will increase in value some more.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

He'd make a good puppy killer

Bush feels more strongly than ever that his invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq were the right thing to do and that a strong American military presence will be necessary for the foreseeable future. He feels that Iran poses a threat to World peace and would like to invade them. He regrets every American death he has caused in the Middle East but does not regret his decision to send the troops over there. He makes no claim to regret any of the million plus deaths the countries of the Middle East have sustained because of the American invasions. He believes that because he has used bellicose and aggressive rhetoric in his pursuit of military intervention, people wrongly believe he is insensitive and a warmonger.

The animal control authority in my county destroys unwanted kittens and puppies by putting them in a decompression chamber and exploding their internal organs. Finding people to do it and still maintain a positive self image must be difficult. Bush proves it's not that difficult.

Friday, June 06, 2008

A New Restaurant in Fountain Valley, The Tangy Tomato

I was going to make enchiladas tonite. My wife wanted to go out to Polly's Pies, a very ordinary little cafe and pie shop in town. Every year, for a few weeks, they offer a fresh Olallieberry pie, that she likes a great deal. I suggested that she call ahead, to see if they had any of the pie left. She did and they did not. So Polly's was out. She then got out an ad for a new, all you can eat, Italian buffet with the amazing price point of $6.45, $5.45 with a senior discount. Filled with a sense of foreboding, I agreed to go along.

This place is on Brookhurst between Garfield and Talbert. For many years it was a successful nightclub and meat market run by former Righteous Brother Bill Medley. It was always very successful, but revenues probably slowed, once the demographic began to move towards the geriatric. For whatever reason, Bill shut it down and in recent years, it has been home to a series of ever more ill fated buffet restaurants, first pan Asian, then Indian, now Italian. The problem, is that to the South, a half a block, is every imaginable type of fast food outlet, H. Salt, four different burger franchises, a Wienerschnitzel, El Pollo Loco, Arby's, Del Taco and a pretty good, independent, Hawaiian barbecue. They are so close together that a family can spread out, gather an eclectic selection of greasy delicacies and meet back at a dining area or parking lot of their choice, to have a mix and match take out experience. A half a block to the North is an equally impressive array, of casual, sit down restaurants, Stonefire Grill, Mimi's, Appleby's, Islands, as well as a really good Japanese pub and a high volume, Chinese, steam table take out operation noted for the freshness and large portions of their moderately priced offerings. There is just too much competition for any operation that isn't a category leader.

The Tangy Tomato was busy, although not exceptionally so, for 6 PM on a Friday evening. It was staffed by members of an extended family whose members bore an uncanny familial resemblance and could have been Mayan, Coptic or Sinhalese but certainly not Italian. The men were thin. The women were thick through the middle. Both sexes sported earrings and wispy patches of facial hair, inadequate on the men and excessive on the women. They were friendly, courteous and clean. The decor was an eclectic mix of remnants from the previous Asian and Indian tenants, as well as the Southwestern motif of the nightclub. No Chianti bottles with candles stuck in the spouts graced the tables but several plaster busts of ancient Roman style, stare down from nooks, high on the walls . The tables and booths were in good shape, upholstery intact, surrounding the four large buffet islands.

The first thing noticeable about this restaurant was the clientele. It was a very diverse group, age wise, with a lot of large, multi-generational families. Usually, in beachy areas of SoCal, the inhabitants exude an aura of casual affluence. This crowd was working poor. They were not in their casual clothes, they were in their only clothes. Hairstyles tended to be aggressively roached, with a lot of white sidewall action. Almost everybody older than twelve, male and female, had the kind of tattooing that was associated, until recent times, with sailors, recidivist convicts and carnival roustabouts.

For an additional $1.75, I ordered a refillable fountain drink. I was the only one in the restaurant with the large glass. Everybody else had the small glass, for water. It is definitely a budget establishment. I felt like I was flaunting my wealth.

It's hard to describe the food. It is the kind of fare that might be served during a special holiday, at a State prison, one experiencing extreme overcrowding and budgetary constraints. They were doing the best they could, with what they had and were making a real effort to provide the patron with a memorable experience but the resources available are inadequate and the celebrants realize, that it's just another sad day in a short and brutally hard life.

The pizza is the best thing there. They are built on frozen crusts and I'm sure that the cheese iss non-dairy but they move fast and new ones keep coming, hot out of the oven. The meat toppings are of poor quality but luckily there wasn't much and the fresh peppers and onions were plentiful, there were also sprigs of cilantro, chopped olives and other savory bits to provide flavor accents. Avoid the garlic chicken and barbecue chicken pizzas. They both seem to have a mayonnaise base underneath the cheese and that's just scary.

There is a pasta bar. Pasta noodles with a scoop of the generic canned marinara is your best bet, plain and starchy but palatable. There was a manocotti with spicy tomato and ersatz Italian sausage bits which tasted somehow chemical and was too salty even for me and I salt bacon. Then there was a macaroni and cheese and an Alfredo that both tasted like they were dressed with bland flour gravy, one with a little food coloring added, the other with a few shakes of garlic powder.

Three soups were offered. One was tangy tomato, which seems to be the same canned marinara that's on the pizza and pasta but thinned out with milk. There was a chicken broth with shreds of meat and canned corn. It seemed like it might have been actually home made but very bland. The third soup was unlike anything I have ever had before. It was billed as clam chowder but was totally amorphous, with the consistency and appearance of very thin, watery, cream of wheat and a noticeably green cast. I had to try it. An amazing experience. It tasted nothing like clam chowder but not entirely unpleasant. I would bet it was based on frozen blocks of compressed mini-crustaceans. Cream of krill, if you will. If you ever go there, have this. It's a once in a lifetime experience.

The salad bar was disappointing. The greens were warm and wilted. The various garnish items were of poor quality and the receptacles needed refilling. The dressings were watered down and sour. At least there wasn't any of that food starch, used to keep the items artificially crisp. That stuff always makes me bilious.

Unless you are a hyperactive child or an elderly diabetic with a carbo jones, I recommend you skip the desserts entirely. What is offered is a selection of dessert pizzas, with various confectionery toppings. My wife had a slice of one . It proved to be pizza dough covered with chunky peanut butter and decorated with squiggles of chocolate sauce, fired up in the pizza oven.

If you're ever on the Fountain Valley/Huntington Beach border and want a five course Italian buffet meal and only want to spend $5.45, the Tangy Tomato is the place for you.

DOW Down 400, Oil up 10, Today

Benny B, talking tough to a Harvard crowd this week, said he would fight inflation by doing what? Nothing! George Bush, in an unscheduled speech, this morning, in response to the biggest monthly jump in unemployment since 1986, cited what as the reason? Graduating high school seniors! Some big fat fuck airline CEO, lamenting the 10 buck increase per barrel in oil, TODAY, said that Congress must intervene. AND DO WHAT?

It is no wonder America is flushing down the toilet. Our leaders are RETARDS and nobody seems to notice. If you're just going to sit there and beat your meat, while these guys dismember you and sell you off to the knackers, you deserve your fate.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Stop Loss

The Military is one of the few jobs in America that a person cannot legally just say "Fuck It!" and walk away from. Enlisted are bound by the terms of their enlistment and even officers, who technically can resign their commissions at any time, are obligated by the training they receive to serve specific periods of time following that training.

Because recruiters are what they are, people are often disappointed that service in the military is not what they were led to believe. It is also the truth to say, that many join the military as an act of desperation and after the crisis passes are unhappy with the life that they have obligated themselves to. This is not something that is unique to the American armed forces. It has been the case for as long as there have been soldiers and that is a very long time indeed.

Military service is hard. It is dangerous. The pay, especially for the lowest ranks, is meager. You spend long periods away from family and familiar surroundings, in rough company. You often find yourself living among populations that do not wish you well. The military enforces strict discipline to ensure that its personnel live up to the obligations of their enlistments. In the past, when time of war or national emergency made a large military necessary, a universal draft has been enacted. It was accepted that the enlistment of the individual was "for the duration". At least in theory, everybody was in the same jeopardy of having to serve and the service would be of the same duration.

The political power of the middle class in America has made a universal draft unacceptable. We now have an all volunteer military. The military has taken to arbitrarily extending the service obligations of active duty personnel. They have lowered the bar for the activation of reserve units to active duty in times of national emergency. This is foolish. Young people see their friends and siblings go off to the military, supposedly for a couple of years and then see how that quickly morphs into a decade. When they reach the age of eligibility to join the military, the best and brightest of them will quickly discard the idea, based on what they have observed.

The military leadership is poisoning a well it will need to return to again and again. This is short sighted and stupid. This is just another way they have sold out to Bush/Cheney and dishonored themselves. They will regret it, down the road.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Sheriff John's Lunch Brigade

Laugh and be happy and the World will laugh with you
When people see you smiling, they can't help smiling too
When you look out the window on a dark and gloomy day
Break out a smile and in a while the gloom will go away

So laugh and be happy with a merry melody
A song will make a hat rack, look like a Christmas tree
Get rid of worry, in a hurry, chase the blues away
Just laugh and be happy, all the live----long---- day!

Nothin's changed in forty years.

A young, white, Marine Pfc. recently returned from a combat tour in the Middle East was robbed at a bus stop in his hometown of Cleveland, by two young Afro-American males. Wary of the dangers in his home town, all he was carrying was his military ID, an ATM card and eight dollars, all of which the two young black men took. They were unhappy at the meager take and told him so, then shot him in the base of the skull. He lived, paralyzed, for four and a half months, on a ventilator, with his swollen brain bulging out of a skull flap, before succumbing to a raging infection. He identified his attackers. They are in custody, awaiting trial. You can get a repossessed house in Cleveland virtually for free. I wonder why.

I knew a Vietnam vet that had the same thing happen to him in Detroit, in the late sixties, forty years ago. He lived, as a quadriplegic, after several months in a coma. I used to go over to his house on weekends, when his regular caregiver got a day or two off. He was able to identify his attackers after emerging from the coma. Unfortunately, during the interim, these men had been tried and acquitted, so they went free. You could get a good deal on a house in Detroit, at that time. You still can. Hell, you can buy up open space in downtown Detroit so cheap, that people are using the land for dairies and truck farms.

Nothing's changed in forty years, not one damn thing. Almost everyone living in Detroit receives income from some entitlement program or other. The high school dropout rate is 89%, although that's not really accurate. A lot of kids there drop out long before high school. No white people live in the city, or even in the close in suburbs. Living there is like bad post apocalyptic science fiction.

Let's forget about Iraq. Let's work on bringing peace, freedom, democracy and prosperity to cities like Cleveland and Detroit. There is a shitload of them. They are not ever going to get better on their own.

No Ads

I went out and got the LA Times off the driveway this morning. At first I thought that one or more sections must be missing from my delivery. That was not the case. It was the smallest Times I have ever seen. I checked and everything was there, nor did they seem to have decreased the normal news and feature content. It quickly became apparent what the reason for it's decrease in girth and weight was. No advertising. No inserts. No full pagers. Just a few small teasers around the edges of the text on some of the back pages, below the fold. You know. Plastic surgery. Male enhancement. Aluminum siding.

I believe the retail sector may be a little depressed.

You want to stay, I know you do, Ain't no use to try but I'll be here and I'm just like you. Everybody dies.

Hillary's time is getting short. I hate to see her go. Not because I think she would be a good President. I don't. This primary campaign has been a great thing for the Democratic Party. They have been examining aspects of our society and our political system that people normally shy away from. If the Democratic Party is going to move forward into a leadership position in this nation, they must get their minds right about the existence of sexual, racial and economic inequality in this country. These are not the kind of problems that are going to ever get solved. People want to hate, they're going to hate. People want to abuse and victimize those unable to protect themselves, they will. There's always going to be two ends of the stick. No law, no social program, no intellectual enlightenment gonna ever change that.

The Democrats are the Big Tent party. Their coalition makes the Republican coalition seem like child's play. Large segments of the party don't agree on major issues. Large segments are prone to voting for Republicans in any given election. Worst of all, huge portions of the Democratic demographic are prone to never voting at all, due to apathy, poverty, lack of education and because they are reticent about doing anything that would bring the overt attention of the establishment down upon themselves.

We need to start trying some new approaches to our problems in this country. The old ones aren't working. I don't think anyone ever wanted or expected them to.

An issue that nobody is addressing is cultural inequality. The sad fact is that we can only celebrate diversity for so long. At some point we must identify unacceptable aspects of our various cultural heritages and remove them. Remove them so that our children aren't hamstrung in their development into successful members of our society. Remove them so that our environment is a safer, cleaner, more enjoyable place to live. You can't have good schools if the children beat, rape and kill each other. Women will never have equality as long as the accepted sexual behavior in society depends on the perceived inequality of the sexes. Different races and cultures will never live and work together when those cultures are so different that the most mundane interactions between us routinely result in offense and assault.

We're not where we need to be in this country. Our minds aren't right. We aren't going anywhere the way we are.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Bad Scottie!

The reaction of the cowardly and traitorous Bush administration, the Neocon bulletheads, the inbred, incestuous Fundamentalists, and the murderously genocidal national security goons to Scottie McClellan's little tell all book, has been interesting and illuminating.

Scottie has been excoriated, by all sides, as an unfaithful, disloyal, and ungrateful subject of the President but not one of the name callers, not the Russ-meister, not Turdblossum, not the President himself, has called him out for not being truthful. Not one. Bob Dole, while calling Scottie every name in the book, true to his reputation for honesty, admitted that Scottie was telling the truth. He simply believed Scottie should have kept the Presidents secrets and supported his lies. Same thing out in the blogs. It's Scottie the unfaithful servant, not Scottie the liar, right down the line.

They don't even bother to pretend, that Bush and his crew were not evil, corrupt, immoral schemers, miring the country into a web of deceit and spilled innocent blood, from the first day they took office, to the sunrise this morning.