Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Is this Ironical, or what?

Evidence suggests that Al Qaeda has consistently banked one off the goalie, so to speak, keeping the US in Iraq by not-very-subtly releasing propaganda videos whenever it seemed that the Bush popularity was failing.
But, two can play that game, and when al Maliki recently demanded that US troops withdraw from the cities, and garrison bases in the rural areas, the US was all like "Don't throw us in that briar patch".
Because, heaven knows, the last thing we want is to be stuck in permanent bases in Iraq.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Shamelessly quoting...

Matt Yglesias: 
The administration's been caught in an infinite loop on this question from day one. As everyone can see, it's essentially impossible to accomplish anything in Iraq insofar as the governments of two adjacent countries are actively trying to undermine what we're doing. And yet, the president keeps insisting that one of his long-term goals in Iraq is to overthrow the governments of two of Iraq's neighbors. So -- surprise! -- they try to undermine his policies. And then the administration turns around and whines about it, before deciding down the road that he should once again re-iterate his goal of toppling the regimes. Meanwhile, he has no actual means at his disposal to accomplish this. It's moronic; the kind of thing that it would only take about five minutes of thinking to dissuade you from. But he's been at this for years.

Friday, October 27, 2006

And more cats...

Chester and Pb

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Past The Verge


Vin Weber, a lobbyist and former Republican member of Congress with ties to the White House, said he thought the president more broadly was trying to appeal to the American public as it loses faith in his Iraq policy.

"Basically, the bottom has fallen out," he said. "The public is on the verge of throwing up its hands over Iraq."

That's how the story in the Seattle Times ends, so let's flesh it out a little- 51% of the public want Bush impeached, only 44% say no.  The public is not "on the verge", the public simply has no way to enforce their will on the Republican noise machine.  Something had better change when those numbers reach 80 or 90% for impeachment, or there will be trouble around here.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Inscrutable elements of Greatness...

(h/t to Lawyers Guns & Money) 
Speaking fifty-two years ago today -- in an otherwise unrelated statement on the 75th anniversary of the invention of the incandescent light bulb -- Dwight Eisenhower offered the following quilt of non sequiturs:
Soon we will be celebrating one of our holidays, one that typifies for me much of what we mean by the American freedom. That will be Halloween. On that evening I would particularly like to be, of course, with my grandchildren, for Halloween is one of those times when we Americans actually encourage the little individuals to be free to do things rather as they please. I hope you and your children have a gay evening and let's all give a little prayer that their childish pranks will be the only kind of mischief with which we Americans must cope. But it can be a confident kind of a prayer too, for God has made us strong and faith has made and kept us free.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Uh, isn't that 51% FOR impeachment?

 Or, as Newsweek puts it, "Other parts of a potential Democratic agenda receive less support, especially calls to impeach Bush: 47 percent of Democrats say that should be a 'top priority,' but only 28 percent of all Americans say it should be, 23 percent say it should be a lower priority and nearly half nearly half, 44 percent, say it should not be done."
h/t to Matt Yglesias

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Mark Evanier on Hidden Persuaders

Dungeons & Dragons was a series about six kids who were transported to a dimension filled with wizards and fire-snorting reptiles and cryptic clues and an extremely-evil despot named Venger.  The youngsters were trapped in this game-like environment but, fortunately, they were armed with magical skills and weaponry, the better to foil Venger's insidious plans each week.

The kids were all heroic — all but a semi-heroic member of their troupe named Eric.  Eric was a whiner, a complainer, a guy who didn't like to go along with whatever the others wanted to do.  Usually, he would grudgingly agree to participate, and it would always turn out well, and Eric would be glad he joined in.  He was the one thing I really didn't like about the show.

So why, you may wonder, did I leave him in there?  Answer: I had to.

As you may know, there are those out there who attempt to influence the content of childrens' television.  We call them "parents groups," although many are not comprised of parents, or at least not of folks whose primary interest is as parents.  Study them and you'll find a wide array of agendum at work...and I suspect that, in some cases, their stated goals are far from their real goals.

Nevertheless, they all seek to make kidvid more enriching and redeeming, at least by their definitions, and at the time, they had enough clout to cause the networks to yield.  Consultants were brought in and we, the folks who were writing cartoons, were ordered to include certain "pro-social" morals in our shows.  At the time, the dominant "pro-social" moral was as follows: The group is always right...the complainer is always wrong.

This was the message of way too many eighties' cartoon shows.  If all your friends want to go get pizza and you want a burger, you should bow to the will of the majority and go get pizza with them.  There was even a show for one season on CBS called The Get-Along Gang, which was dedicated unabashedly to this principle.  Each week, whichever member of the gang didn't get along with the gang learned the error of his or her ways.

We were forced to insert this "lesson" in D & D, which is why Eric was always saying, "I don't want to do that" and paying for his social recalcitrance.  I thought it was forced and repetitive, but I especially objected to the lesson.  I don't believe you should always go along with the group.  What about thinking for yourself?  What about developing your own personality and viewpoint?  What about doing things because you decide they're the right thing to do, not because the majority ruled and you got outvoted?

We weren't allowed to teach any of that.  We had to teach kids to join gangs.  And then to do whatever the rest of the gang wanted to do.

What a stupid thing to teach children.

Now, I won't make the leap to charge that gang activity, of the Crips and Bloods variety, increased on account of these programs.  That influential, I don't believe a cartoon show could ever be.  I just think that "pro-social" message was bogus and ill-conceived.  End of confession.


Friday, October 20, 2006


Dk (Devil Kitten, on the left) and Ek (Evening Kitten, on the right) attentively watching something only cats can see....

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Damn I'm Good!

Opinions differ as to the value of the Air Force, but...
This is all pretty much a moot point because nobody is going to attack us with their airforce anyway.  We are already deep into the age of post-military warfare, and what you're seeing in Iraq is about as militarily or strategically significant as the Crimean War.
What is more likely is that the myth of air power will be as fatal to us as the myth of the Southern Cavalier was to the ante-bellum South.  The US has become too accustomed to attacking, with no real provocation, nations small enough for us to bombard while the world stands by.  In all likelihood, just as happened with Hitler's invasion of Poland, there will come a time when we do not believe the world will intervene, and they will believe that they absolutely must.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Our Foreign Policy...

Reminds me of a patient I took care of years ago.  This fellow had broken both hands, and when I asked him how it happened, he said "I was in a bar, and I wanted to fight this guy.  So I threw a punch at him and he ducked and I hit the brick wall behind him and broke my hand.  So, then I threw another punch at him with my other hand.  And he ducked again, and I hit the brick wall behind him and broke the other hand."

Monday, October 16, 2006

Peas in a Pod

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Conspiracy? Nuts!

In the weeks to come, the MSM will mock those who think there may be a conspiracy to keep gas prices low for the election- usually starting by putting the word "conspiracy" in quotation marks.  Too bad these big-time news commentators can't actually read the news:
 In an interview that aired Sunday on CBS, Woodward, a Washington Post editor, said that Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, had promised President Bush that the Saudis would cut oil prices before November to ensure the U.S. economy was strong on election day. Woodward is the author of the new book "Plan of Attack" on Bush's preparations for the Iraq war.

Friday, October 13, 2006

You talkin' to me?

Liddy, Queen of the Jungle.....

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Clinton's Fault?

Republicans are blaming Clinton for the North Korea explosion.  Let's be clear- that's like having your vasectomy reversed, having intercourse for four years with no contraception, and then blaming the doctor who did the vasectomy when your girlfriend gets pregnant.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Roaring Mice

Well, we've now reached our "Mouse that Roared" moment with North Korea, with George Bush as the zombie reincarnation of Peter Sellers.  Bush, of course, suffers from the disadvantages of being a 'slow zombie', no small thing in attempting to reprise the hyperactive Sellers, but in other respects he mimics the bumbling, the broken English, the exquisite gaffe de jour of Sellers quite well.
As dismaying as it may be to watch the grey pallor (alternating with pancake rouge) of Bush as he jerkily attempts to read (why bother?  we've heard it all before) the teleprompter script, occasionally becoming totally unable to even finish the sentence before him, the important thing to remember is, it's just a performance.  And frankly, a pretty good one- for a zombie.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

A Letter to the Editor

(The kind of letter a real newspaper will always print.)

Shelton Mason County Journal

Letters to Editor

To understand how bad things are under George Bush, you have to go back to 1689. That'’s the year that the English Parliament passed a Bill of Rights that prohibited what George Bush calls a "signing statement"- 1689.

But you knew that already. The religious forces supporting George Bush reach even further back, rivalling the Catholic Church in the days when it condemned Gallileo and led a ‘Holy War’, sometimes against the Turks, sometimes against the Protestants. Good times, good times.

In 1689 the Star Chamber was still dispensing ‘justice’ in England. The men who founded the United States did their best to ensure that no Star Chamber would ever happen here, but they’'re dead now and can'’t help us stop George Bush, if we don'’t read what they said and understand what they meant.

The colonists despised the English Parliament because of the ‘rotten boroughs’ that packed the Parliament with ‘placemen’. The ‘placemen’ were candidates like Mike McGavick, who bought elections with huge sums of money from wealthy lords who, by law, could not themselves sit in Parliament. Like today'’s Republican Congress, the Parliament of George III acted as a rubberstamp for the tyrant. Like George Bush, George III appointed fools, incompetent fops who lost for the British Empire the richest part of the North American continent.

The lesson Republicans draw from all of this is, hey, George III may at times have lapsed into stuttering imbecility, but he never lost his job. Modern Republicans think actions have no consequences. If you owned Fox News, CNN, and ABC, you might feel the same way.

Of course, that'’s an oversimplification. When Dennis Hastert, Republican Speaker of the House, inserted an "earmark" to build a highway past land he owned, he knew his profits would be somewhere around $2.5 million on his original investment of about $350,000. He probably didn’'t know the exact numbers, but it was a good guess, and he did make more than $2.5 million in pure profit, showing he can understand cause-and-effect when it profits him.

When Hastert learned about Mark Foley (R- Florida) soliciting teenage boys for sex, though, Hastert thought he could keep the lid on it. Instead of sending the matter to the House Ethics Committee, the Republicans consulted their congressional campaign committee. The National Republican Campaign Committee decided they needed Mark Foley'’s seat to maintain a majority, and persuaded Foley, who had actually decided not to run again, to seek office for one more term.

Then Foley, who was running in what was considered a ‘safe seat’, contributed $100,000 to the campaign of Tom Reynolds, chair of the NRCC which had just decided that the news about Foley could probably be kept secret. This contribution, using a campaign as a money-laundering operation to pass contributions, that would otherwise be illegal, on as a bribe, is the Republican governing philosophy in a nutshell.

In our state we have Mike McGavick raking in $25 million as an "executive bonus" from Safeco, not for what he did, but for what they hope he will do- replace your Social Security with your "personal" account in a Safeco retirement fund. McGavick now says he wants the "personal accounts" to be managed by the government, which will protect them just like the Republicans protected Congressional pages.

Yup, it'’s deja vue all over again. Star Chambers, suspension of habeus corpus, signing statements that nullify the meaning of the law Congress passed- it'’s all been tried before. Give Republicans one more term in office, and we won'’t be able to quote Patrick Henry, so let'’s say it now- The tree of liberty must occasionally be watered with the blood of tyrants.

So haul out your copy of the Declaration of Independence, read it again, and ask yourself if anything you’'re reading seems to resemble our times. Secret trials? Suspension of habeus corpus? Rendition to foreign lands? It’'s all there- the reasons the Founding Fathers risked their lives and fortunes to establish a nation where those things couldn'’t happen.

Is we learning yet?

Repeal the 22nd Amendment

And now, a modest proposal- Democrats should move to repeal the 22nd Amendment.  Let Bush run for a third term.
Would that put the fox in the henhouse, or what?  Would Republicans let the Bush goons keep control of the party and run Bush for a third term?  Could they oppose repealing the 22nd Amendment with their own man poised to reap the fruits of doing so?
The best possible outcome, of course, would be for Bush and his goons to steal a third election, and reap themselves the catastrophic and worldwide defeats that are accumulating in our future.  This is the best, and possibly the only way to watch the Republican party collapse on itself like the WTC towers, leaving only an atomized and toxic dust in its wake.
Well, a guy can dream....

Friday, October 06, 2006


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Doughnut Hole In A Nutshell

 The doughnut-hole gap in coverage results from the bill’s authors’ desire to cap the overall price of the program. After they made it way too expensive by allowing their drug company friends to charge high prices, they had to cut a gaping hole in the seniors’ coverage in order to save money. Economist Dean Baker has calculated that if the Part D program had been structured to get the best, lowest prices from the drug companies – as the Veterans Administration does today -- we could have saved enough money to eliminate the donut hole without raising the cost of the Part D program.

A Few Notes...

From that "unsustainable" Bolivarean Revolution....
 Caracas, Venezuela, October 2, 2006—According to the president of the National Confederation of Ranchers and Farmers (Confagan), Venezuela has tripled the amount of land that is under agricultural cultivation in the past eight years.

According to Campos, “In the next five years Venezuelans will be complete masters over agro-alimentary security in the areas of milk, meat, and food oils, due to the economic support that is being provided to workers in the fields, the struggle against latifundios [plantations], and the investment and confidence of the private sector in the government.”

Campos also pointed out the pork production increased by 40% between 1999 and 2006.

According to government data, Venezuela’s land reform program, which was launched in 2001, has distributed over 2 million hectares of land to over 200,000 families.

Other headlines from VNews state that government oil profits are up 44% and that government oilfields will be cutting production by 50,000 barrels per day.  OPEC producers feel that $50-$60 a barrel is an appropriate price and Venezuela was joined by Nigeria in announcing cuts.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Updating the Majority

Considering the results of the P-I poll, let's update our majority-
70% of Americans want us out of Iraq
70% of Americans want national healthcare
70% of Americans want marijuana legalized
70% of Americans have no problem with gay marriage
70% of Americans do not go to church.
Maybe you want to quibble with that last, but remember the church-car conundrum- people tell you they go to church, but when you ask them which days they use their car, Sunday is at the bottom of the list.  If they'e actually going, an awful lot of them are walking.  Have you ever seen anyone walking to church?  Didn't think so.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Fall Colors

Our autumn colors are in our streams......

(Photo from Seattle Times)

Carry on, Constable

 A council has withdrawn a parking ticket issued after double yellow lines were painted under a parked car. Marketing consultant Nasser Khan was tipped off by office workers in Salford, Greater Manchester, who filmed the incident. Design engineer Geoff Blackburn said: "We saw a group of workmen and two traffic wardens surround the car - one man crouched under the car to paint the yellow line, then the warden issued the ticket."

Monday, October 02, 2006

Another Sunset

Geezer E-mail

Again, I've been hit by an "old geezer" e-mail that goes around every few months. The pith of the e-mail is "I'm not voting for my Congressman until Congress junks their pension system and uses Social Security like the rest of us- then they'll fix Social Security".

For starters, Social Security does not need to be "fixed". We could all get an extra half hour of sleep a night if we could rest assured they would not "fix" Social Security.

Beyond that- what is wrong with these people? I for one do not want my Congressman to be dependent on a war contractor for a cushy job and stock options, with gravy and all the 'fixins', to furnish his old age.

Republicans have perfected the art of buying a seat in Congress and then making that investment back in spades by peddling earmarks, finding their wives and relations nice jobs with lobbyists and companies that sell to the government, and themselves ending up with a similar job when they leave Congress. This is not behavior I wish to encourage.

And, in case you haven't noticed, Congressmen get paid more than you or I do. They have more important jobs with more responsibility, would pay more into Social Security, and would draw larger pensions than you or I if that was their pension plan. Get over it. If there is one country in the world where you and I have an equal chance of going to Congress, this is it.

Well, that won't stop the dumb e-mail, but I feel better. Maybe you do too.