Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas menu

In the spirit of sharing...

Libations - Maragaritas

Appetizer - Tequila-lime chicken bites

Salad - Greek salad (chopped cucumbers, red onions and tomatoes in a olive oil, red wine & feta vinaigrette)

Main course - Pork tenderloin braised in Ancho chili gravy (Am I the only one who feels sacriligious serving pork on the birthday observance of a Rabbi?) (Ancho chili recipie on request)

Sides - Steamed asparagus with lemon & butter sauce, oven roasted new potatoes and pearl onions with rosemary.

Sourdough rolls with sweet butter

After dinner beverages - Vintage Port, spiced apple cider

Dessert - Some flavor of Starbuck's ice cream, the one with cookies in it. This may or may not get served, depending on general level of stuffedness.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!


Saturday, December 24, 2005

And now for something completely silly...

Pimp My Nutcracker - fun for the whole family!

Courtesy of The Poor Man.


The World Goes On

Another big break in blogging due to some personal set backs, but everything should work out OK.

Can't say the same about the Chimperor and his little imperial presidency. It appears that the Fitzgerald investigation is reminding the good puppy press that George Bush is not the Son of God, no matter what he believes of himself. The newspapers are almost getting to the point of real reporting.

Must be some climate change going on in Hell...


Friday, November 25, 2005

Fair Words and Foul Deeds

‘… But you, Théoden Lord of the Mark of Rohan, are declared by your noble devices, and still more by the fair countenance of the House of Eorl. O worthy son of Thengel the Thrice-renowned! Why have you not come before, and as a friend? Much have I desired to see you, mightiest king of western lands, and especially in these latter years, to save you from the unwise and evil counsels that beset you! Is it yet too late? Despite the injuries that have been done to me, in which the men of Rohan, alas! have has some part, still I would save you, and deliver you from the ruin that draws nigh inevitably, if you ride upon this road which you have taken. Indeed I alone can aid you now.’

Théoden opened his mouth as if to speak, but he said nothing. He looked up at the face of Saruman with its dark solemn eyes bent down upon him, and then to Gandalf at his side; and he seemed to hesitate. Gandalf made no sign; but stood silent as stone, as one waiting patiently for some call that has not yet come. The Riders stirred at first, murmuring with approval of the words of Saruman; and then they too were silent, as men spell-bound. It seemed to them that Gandalf had never spoken so fair and fittingly to their lord. Rough and proud now seemed all his dealings with Théoden. And over their hearts crept a shadow, the fear of a great danger: the end of the Mark stood in a darkness to which Gandalf was driving them, while Saruman stood beside a door of escape, holding it half open so that a ray of light came through. There was a heavy silence…

‘What have you to say, Théoden King? Will you have peace with me, and all the aid that my knowledge, founded in long years, can bring? Shall we make our counsels together against evil days, and repair our injuries with such good will that our estates shall both come to fairer flower than ever before?...The friendship of Saruman and the power of Orthanc cannot be lightly thrown aside, whatever grievances, real or fancied, may lie behind. You have won a battle but not a war – and that with help on which you cannot count again. You may find the Shadow of the Wood at your own door next: it is wayward, and senseless, and has no love for Men.

‘But my lord of Rohan, am I to be called a murderer, because valiant men have fallen in battle? If you go to war, needlessly, for I did not desire it, then men will be slain. But if I am a murderer on that account, than all of House of Eorl is stained with murder; for they have fought many wars, and assailed many who defied them. Yet with some they have afterwards made peace, none the worse for being politic. I say, Théoden King: shall we have peace and friendship, you and I? It is ours to command.’

‘We will have peace,’ said Théoden at last thickly and with an effort. Several of the Riders cried out gladly. Théoden held up his hand. ‘Yes, we will have peace,’ he said, now in a clear voice, ‘we will have peace, when you and all your works have perished – and the works of your dark master to whom you would deliver us. You are a liar, Saruman, and a corrupter of men’s hearts. You hold out your hand to me, and I perceive only a finger of the claw of Mordor. Cruel and cold! Even if your war on me was just – as it was not, for were you ten times as wise you would have no right to rule me and mine for your own profit as you desired – even so, what will you say of your torches in the Westfold and the children that lie dead there? And they hewed Háma’s ’body before the gates of the Hornburg, after he was dead. When you hang from a gibbet at your window for the sport of your own crows, I will have peace with you and Orthanc. So much for the House of Eorl. A lesser son of great sires I am, but I do not need to lick your fingers. Turn elsewhither. But I fear your voice has lost its charm.’

Apply as appropriate...


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Breaking Boundaries

How are the policy choices of the Cheney administration like torture? And, no, I am not being the slightest bit facetious or catty. This is a crucial question, one which the radical left fails to understand over and over, and which the radical right has grasped in a murderous fist.

In both cases, what you have is a deliberate and violent effort to destroy boundaries.

Torture, as has been pointed out in numerous blogs, is done for its own sake. It is not done to extract information, at least not reliable data. It is done to destroy a human being. The meaning and justification for it, in truth, lie within the act itself - dissolution of the physical and psychological sinews that keep a human whole. That is the way in which it differes from (mere) murder; while the eventual outcome may be death, the point is to maintain the life of the subject being tortured until she turns into an it, an object, a thing that is biologically alive but no longer lives. The Story of O is quite instructional on this count.

The Cheney administration’s approach to the governmental apparatus of the nation - institutions and bodies - is to dissolve the boundaries that define and constrain the violence and force of the state and allow disparate wishes of citizens to be given power through concentration within these same walls.

How ironic that the most dedicated deconstructionists, the performative post-moderns, are the "conservatives". It is both horrifying and delicious, like a very bad accident or crime scene. The destruction of the operational rules of Congress, the undermining of the rule of law, the insistence of White Queen rules that up is down and black is white, the staffing of agencies and bureaus with people whose sole aim is to ruin the operational effectiveness and self-regulating integrity of them - this is a wholesale effort to disestablish the institutions that allow a liberal democracy to exist.

There is something to be regarded with honor - the sentiment is rightly called patriotism - in a state that governs itself in through impersonal institutions. Even when it fails to live to ideals, as states inevitably will, there is still the backbone of institutional checks and balances (yes, the phrase is old, but it is accurate), which curbs the worst and gives resources to strive for better. To deride both the institutions and the faith in them because they are flawed is confusing religion and politics. Politics presumes men are fallen creatures and will look to narrow self-interest, which is why you create institutions that channel desires into less destructive paths.

What a criminal administration does, as Stalin most clearly shows, is destroy the boundaries of institutions which act as curbs upon the desires of the dictator, reducing all to the performance of an act that will please the person holding the weapon to which you are vulnerable. Obedience and loyalty to the strongman above you becomes the organizational principle.

Hannah Arendt rightly identified this as one of the most important points of commonality between left and right wing dictatorial regimes, and also demonstrated how it is connected not only to torture, but to the modern political disease of statelessness. If you are a person who cannot claim any institutional protections - as, say, a criminal may when asking for habeas corpus - then you have lost not just political rights, but part of the integral boundaries that make you human. The condition of humanity is plurality, the living together with unique yet equal others. To lose a boundary that defines the me and the not-me, which creates the condition under which you may say "us," is the precondition for rendering an entire class of beings as subjects for political and personal disintegration - for torture.

Thus, the horror of Abu Ghraib did not begin when soldiers laid violent hands upon prisoners. The horror began when the Cheney administration asked its henchmen formally to dissolve the boundary that forbade the US to torture. No, this does not mean that the US never tortured before (like, duh) or that we fell from a state of purity to a state of pollution. Rather, the reason why it is qualitatively different is because the objective was not primarily to torture people, but rather to remove the bar against where force may be used, to legally introduce lawlessness into the heart of our institutions. The point is to engender lawlessness in which the violent may disintegrate their opponents.

When you have a state based on the principle of disintegration - of deconstructing the state until you can drown it - then it is almost a given that you will treat people in the same manner in which you treat the state, as things to be rendered unto Ceasar. A state that exists to violate boundaries, not one that does so as an accident of operations, is the true post-modern state, one with no faith, no honor, no dignity, and no integrity.

Only violence and those who surrender to its siren call.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Ahnold Loses Big Time

The Gropenfuerher goes down to defeat!

Governing by mob rule only works whent there is a mob to be governed. The humiliating defeat of Arnold's "Screw the ordinary people" measures made for a very satisfying evening.

Perhaps now we can be free of the fantasy of having a second-rate movie star try to bully a working legislature into obeying his fascist whims? Yeah, a good section of America wants to live like drones (as long as the uppity women and darkies git their butts kicked, who cares about a little loss of civil liberties?), but the other 60% is not so amused by the idea of corporatist dictatorships.


Friday, October 28, 2005

An Honorable Man

What Patrick Fitzgerald is doing is demonstrating what it means to be an honorable man. He is living proof that the highest calling is public service, where the true coin of exchange is substantive adherence to the principles of law and justice.

Juxtapose the clean operation of his office with the smear-and-slander antics of Ken Starr. Fitzgerald demonstrates what it means to live by and for the law, and to put country before party. If this were a Democrat White House, he would not change a thing in his investigation.

He is also an exemplar of liberal values and virtues, not in the common parlance of liberal = people to treat with contempt by ideologues of left and right, but somone who demonstrates the necessity of governing according to the framework of civil liberties and abstract property rights established in the 17th and 18th centuries, and which have proved to be the best of all possible human systems. There is respect for persons, adherence to unbiased procedure, deference to proof, and deployment of reason.

That he is also one formidable mother-f*cker should not distract from the fact that his power comes precisely from playing by the rules, deploying them with both integrity and intensity. The whines of the intolerant, illiberal left that we need to use Swift-Boat tactics to get the bastards can be dismissed. Guess what? You have been ineffective. It is the moderates who have won this battle. Not the ravings of the Kossacks, but the careful investigations of TPM and TAP are what have added firepower to Fitzgerald's operation.

Who will stand up and be an honorable man? How many Congress Critters, particularly Republicans, are willing to apply these same standards to themselves and to their colleagues? Is there a Howard Baker to be found among the liars and crooks now wandering the Rethuglican side of the aisle? Are the Democrats finally ready to be an organized party, to put power behind their principles?

The current administration is a criminal operation. It is no more loyal to this nation than it is competant to run the country. It has no patriotism, though it wastes no opportunity in which to exploit that public virtue. It will kill Americans for no greater reason than to satisfy its own whims. It is without honor.

And that is what Fitzpatrick has utterly exposed.


Monday, October 24, 2005

Exploding Whales


The rumors and stories and stabs in the back and other lovely stuff is coming so quickly I can scarcely keep up with the revelations.

The closest thing I can compare the current collapse of the White House to is the dead whale that washed up on an Oregon beach some years ago. It was stinking and rotting and they could not figure out how to be rid of it. A sherrif got the bright idea of packing a lot of explosives around the whale and "vaporizing" it in the blast. Alas, when they blew up Moby Dick, it simply spewed large chunks of bloody decaying whale matter all over the observors. Some of the chunks were so large that they damaged cars parked several hundred yards away.

The rotting whale is the WHIG and related White House foreign policy escapades.The whale has been dead for a while, but the carcass is still with us. The beach is the Plame Affair. The explosives are the actions of the operatives trying to remove all evidence of the whale. And large, bloody, putrefying chunks are all around.

We're the people watching the video and snickering.


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Too Late, Unfortunately

I'm glad theat Fitzgerald is going to indict the whole miserable lot at the White House, and I hope it will serve to chasten the idiots in this country who voted for them, but it does nothing to address the fact that the Rethuglican oligarchy has robbed the nation blind and butchered all sensible foreign policy.

We are poorer, weaker and in greater danger from more directions than we were in 2000. All the "conservative" bluffing in the world does not change what international markets think of the dollar.The invasion of Iraq has made the middle east more unstable and has increased the level of violence there. American children are still more likely to die of disease and preventable infections than children in Europe. Our infrastructure of roads, dams, bridges, highways, waterways, etc., is deteriorating. Our debt levels increase.

We will be a generation undoing the damage of the last six years. Four years of repair for every year in office, more or less. At some point, all the money in the world will not buy air you can breath, water you can drink, or fuel to heat your house if those resources simply do not exist.

The environmental catastrophe looming on the horizon like a hurricane probably could not have been stopped, even with Al Gore running the country, but the political and military crises would not be so extreme. As I said in an earlier post, all I can hope for is that the people who have and continue to vote Rethuglican against their rational self interest will suffer mightily and intensely, with lost jobs, poor health, crushing debt, and their children dying in a pointless war on the other side of the world. It is, after all, what they voted for, whether they acknowledge it or not.


Monday, October 17, 2005

The Great Unravelling

So, indictments on Wednesday, eh?

No, this will not "bring down" the Cheney White House. That would take an aggressive and focused press. They still think of it as a great episode of reality TV.

But it does point out that monolithic power centers have points of weakness, that those points tend to be institutional and irreducible, and that concentrations of power have a tendency to come undone abruptly and violently when the keystone is removed.

Fitzpatrick will not remove the keystone. That's Cheney, the man who appointed himself Vice President. He will whack it out of alignment a good space. Then, power lies in the street for whomever is daring enough to pick it up.

The polls are dropping, the scandals are colliding, but there is yet no strong, coherent voice that offers a way out of the mess.

Calling the Democrats. Calling the free press. The moment to act is now.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Subject-Object Agreement

I've followed the Plame Affair since it first broke in 2003. It is the equivalent of the Watergate break in, except that it has uncovered something far, far more deadly. With Nixon, we had a dirty-tricks master trying to figure out how to screw over his electoral opponents. With Plame, we have a dedicated insular group within the government trying to run it to expand their personal power over, well, the world. Plame points to WHIG, and WHIG exposes the key players - led by Cheney - who have been jockeying for unfettered and unregulated control over the largest arms stash in the world, the US military, and the largest piggy bank in the world, the US treasury.

They've been trying to gain control of this since Nixon's downfall. They got a good toehold during Reagan, but overreached with Iran-Contra and had to regroup. It is absolutely not a mistake that we're dealing with the exact same people, plus a little window dressing courtesy of the Mayberry Machiavellis. The W loyalists are the smoke screen for the Cheneyites. W wants to have the limelight and Rove wants to be known as a kingmaker, but both are bumblers. Compare Rove and Libby in this scandal. Rove joined cheerfully and loudly in the Wilson bashing, then has tried to excuse himself with typical smoke blowing and obfuscation. Libby went about things quietly, used prime news sources, and set things up to entagle his chief leak source in his own criminality (if I go down, so do you, Judy). Rove wants attention. Libby wants power.

It makes sense to look at what I like to call the subject-object agreement: what is the subject of the discussion and what is the object of having it? For some time, the conventional wisdom has been that the subject was Wilson and the object was to initmidate White House critics. I agree with this to some degree, and say that this is clearly in keeping with the Rovian modus operandi of sliming critics. It fits into the Swift Boat style.

Except it was unnecessary. By the time Wilson's op-ed came out, indeed by the time any of his significant statements came out, the Iraq invasion had already occured. Once the order to invade came, it was too late for any critic to stop it. Perhaps they could help to make the war "unpopular", but it never was very popular to begin with. So, while there was a certain satisfaction to slamming Wilson (using sexual/gender role humiliation, another favorite from Rove's bag of tricks), it was not needed. From a strategic point of view, it would have been better simply to cast Wilson as a partisan.

But what if the subject was CIA "disloyalty" to the Cheney administration, and the object was to intimidate the Company into going along with what the WHIG wanted? Then the outing of Plame takes on a different cast, and is to be laid at the feet of a different cast of characters. If the only thing that came out was Plame's name - or even just that Joe Wilson's wife, Valerie, worked in the CIA and got him the trip to Niger - then the object would be punishing Wilson, but the other key part of the information was the name of Plame's front company, Brewster-Jennings, and what they were involved in, WMD tracking and intervention. Revelation of that information crippled a significant operating group in the CIA and endangered operatives and informants around the globe. The damage was to the CIA and the message was unmistakable - "You think you can thwart our desires? Go fuck yourself."

The real fight here in the Plame Affair is not the press versus the White House, nor even Joe Wilson against the pro-WH press, though it certainly encompasses those possibilities. This is a battle between the CIA and other professional Intel groups against the Cheneyites, much like Watergate at base was a battle between the CIA and the Nixonians. It is not a mistake that the one reporter who is actually in legal jeopardy is Judy Miller, who is up to her eyeballs in the WMD circus and a fellow traveler (if not a full-fledged co-conspirator) in selling the Iraq War.


Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Year of Living Dangerously

From November 2004 through October 2005 has been a sobering 12 months - and we're not quite over. Undoubtedly, I will have missed a few.
  • Tsunami
  • Continuing drought throughout Africa
  • The series of hurricanes in the Carribbean, most notably Katrina, Rita and Stan
  • The emerging Avian flu
  • The earthquake in Kashmir
  • Shrinking of Arctic ice cap (though this is a disaster in waiting)
  • World temperature rises by over 1 degree F.
  • Bush's election
  • Continued descent into civil war in Iraq
  • Continued sectarian violence in Afghanistan, along with a resurgence in the opium trade and drug trafficking violence
  • Bombings in London Tube
  • Bombings in Bali
  • Rising levels of terrorism around the world
The first part of the list are mostly natural disasters, though the hurricanes, rising global temperatures and shrinking ice cap are interrelated and appear to be correlated to the increase in greenhouse gases. The latter are all political in nature. The former are more difficult to deal with because of the latter. The amount of world wealth tied up in the "War on Terror" is directly affecting the ability of governments around the world to respond to the massive natural disasters, most obviously the US. The American debt crisis is a shackle upon other nation's ability to respond.

On both fronts - the disasters arising from our ecosphere and those served up by domestic and international politics - we are caught in a willfully self-crippling situation. The earthquake in Kashmir is a clear case in point. That region is one of the most dangerous in the world, as two nuclear powers face off over a piece of land that would probably be best served by belonging to neither. On the Pakistan side of the border, we have a teetering state, a nuclear program selling to the black market (AQ Khan), and a fundamentalist population in partial rebellion against a corrupt and autocratic secular government. Toss in Osama bin Laden wandering around, dispensing large amounts of cash to buy loyalty, and you have a powder keg.

Now, consider the reports that there are tens of thousands dead, approximately one milion homeless and displaced, disaster management incompetance at a level that makes Drownie Brownie look pretty talented by comparison, and the first snows of winter descending. We are talking massive suffering and conditions ripe for a violent reaction against the Islamabad regime. We are talking about bin Laden getting that much closer to possessing not a dirty bomb, but a strategic nuclear device.

Back to the US. Valerie Plame's front company was on the trail of AQ Khan and his attempt to provide nuclear weapons to the highest bidder. Particularly an Islamic high bidder. Pakistan is now in disarray, and we have been hobbled in our spy efforts thanks to George Bush's fanaticism for invading Iraq. The open rat-hole that is Iraq is greedily drinking down billions of dollars of wealth that are not available for rescue, relief, and rebuilding after any of the major disasters. This means more dead, more suffering, and more long term harm to domestic and foreign populations. It also means less ability of the US to influence people in strategic areas of the globe.

The two largest Muslim nations in the world, Indonesia and Pakistan, have bracketed this period with monumental catastrophes. Each is involved in internal struggles against portions of their populations who are increasingly drawn to radical Islam as a route to power against repressive regimes. The initial Bush administration response to each was to offer a pittance (less than $1 million), and had to be slapped to even change their rhetoric, let alone the amount. Indonesia has been more open to direct support by the US military, most notably allowing the USNS Mercy to offer extensive aid in the archipelago. After watching the FUBAR that followed Katrina, the Bush adminsitration may benefit from the soft bigotry of low expectations where Pakistan is concerned.

What's the point? The point is that we are caught in an increasingly self-destructive situation. Earthquakes happen in their own time, as will volcanoes, but climate change is obviously going to be a fact of continued human survival on earth. I don't much care if it is "caused" by human actions or by natural cycles - either way, we are dealing with an dramatically changing environment. If it is natural, we can't stop it. If it is human, it's too late to stop it, though we might ameliorate the worst effects of a half-century ahead if we start now.

As long as our wealth and attention is tied up in a fake contest that is better dealt with through spy rings and stealth operations, we cannot address the issues of climate change which is, in the end, far more dangerous to humanity than a pack of terrorists.

And I haven't even started on the flu.


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Wrong, Major Bob

Eric Alterman, Altercation blogger, has a recurring guest, Major Bob Bateman. Major Bob is a fascinating voice amid the usual shrill arguments of Iraq War support/opposition, mostly becauses he is an Army officer currently serving there. I highly recommend checking out Eric's blog and looking for the submissions by Maj. Bob.

In his latest post, the Major makes a major mistake with language. He misunderstands what he is saying. Here is the text of his argument. It is eloquent and thoughtful, and I do not want to shortchange him:

Today, here in Iraq, we are struggling against a perception in the Arab world which is just as misrepresentative of the larger reality as that of the myth of [Sherman's] March to the Sea. I just cannot see any way to counteract that myth either. The developing macro-myth of the American treatment of prisoners will be with us, like it or not, for generations. And this is important: It will not matter when we have completely fixed all the institutional, or individual, or systemic problems that led to the various accounts of abuse. It will not matter at all. We could turn over the entire military judicial system, hell, we could turn over control of the whole U.S. military, to the combined powers of the ACLU, Doctors Without Borders and the Hague, and it would not matter. The power of myth is that strong.

Now let me note that from a moral standpoint it should not matter that tens of thousands have processed through or been held by American forces. Human Rights, when you absolutely boil them down, are not about the many, but the few. So what should matter to all of us is what happened to those who have been abused. Morally, this is the right way to approach the issue. But at the same time the focus on the few means that their image is amplified, and over time the amplification of that image will result in the solidification of a larger myth.

Perhaps not soon, but eventually, more of the images of what took place here two years ago at Abu Ghraib will enter the public domain. These will coalesce with the stories such as those revealed by Captain Fishback of the 82nd Airborne. The end result of which will be an iconic image of this war which was not imagined before it started. From this will derive two situations. The first, here, in the Middle East. The second occurs back there, at home.

Here the images and the facts will blur. What will remain is an iconic perception which will tar the United States for decades if not centuries.

At home the blame game will really start. Within academic halls the images will be deconstructed, their effect analyzed, and the “inevitability” of their appearance retro-forecasted. But on the political side, the only debate from that point forward will be, “Whose fault is it that the pictures landed on the Internet?”

The real question, however, should be, “What are we going to do about this coming reality?” We cannot stop the myth from developing, and we probably cannot erase the myth. So how will we live with it?

On one level, he is right - the damage that was done will live on in retellings, becoming ever more embroidered and expansive, until it becomes a matter of faith that such-and-such happened. And he is most certainly right that the pundits and apologists will focus on the presence of proof as the true problem, not how the US will be forced to live with this for generations.

But he is terribly, egregiously wrong on the most basic premise. It is not a myth. The tale, in the telling, may reach mythic proportions, but the foundation, the originating act (or, shall we say, the incidents that have coalesced into the condition we can shorthand as "Abu Ghraib", a concept encompassing acts conducted across the world), that is anything but myth.

That is the deliberate, conscious and preferred policy of the current US administration and senior DoD leadership (civilian and military). It is precisely what the US intended to do. It is the institutional normalization of torture as part of US foreign policy. There is no myth or maybe about it. George Bush has recently vowed to veto any attempt to limit or even criticize his desire to torture other human beings as part of his war games.

Without this very concrete policy, we would not be facing the myth. Large numbers of armed men put into direct conflict with each other produces barbarity and act of torture. This is as old as humanity. Perhaps it is one of the primal conditions under which the East African Plains Ape was transformed into something resembling a human - when we looked at ourselves doing such things and recoiled in horror. But, to return to the point, had Abu Ghraib taken place under the common place uncertainty and chaotic conditions of war, it would not engender this myth. It would be another instance of soldiers run amok.

The power of the myth, what will catapult it beyond propaganda, is that it was and remains how our administration defines its relations to other humans - as lesser, as irrelevant, as disposable. A myth, to be durable, requires a firm foundation in truth. Not so much facticity as experience undergirds this truth. The myth of Noah's flood was grounded in the breaking of the Bosphorous and the creation of the Black Sea. The myth of American savagery is just as permanently planted in the soil of the current administration's dedication to torture, and the way it is trying to ensconce it in the heart of American law and military practice, to ensure it is a touchstone of our national identity.

America is a country that tortures as a condition of everyday operations. Now that this fact has been established, it is not to be undone, for once done well is to be done forever. This country has always prided itself on being a nation of laws, not men, and now this barbarity has been woven into our law. There is no unravelling of it now. Like the dream of equal justice for all, careers open to talent, and the possibility of escaping the castes and classes of the Old World, it is indelibly a part of our mythos - because it is a part of our reality.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

What Josh Says

Josh Marshall focuses on the center of the entire dirty deal:

In any case, an article (sub.req.) in tomorrow's Wall Street Journal contains this pleasant sounding sentence: "Mr. Fitzgerald's pursuit now suggests he might be investigating not a narrow case on the leaking of the agent's name, but perhaps a broader conspiracy."

And then further down there's this: "Lawyers familiar with the investigation believe that at least part of the outcome likely hangs on the inner workings of what has been dubbed the White House Iraq Group. Formed in August 2002, the group, which included Messrs. Rove and Libby, worked on setting strategy for selling the war in Iraq to the public in the months leading up to the March 2003 invasion. The group likely would have played a significant role in responding to Mr. Wilson's claims."

First of all, it did play a big role. That's where the push back came from.

If this description is accurate, it must have many folks at the White House in cold sweats.

If Karl Rove goes down in this investigation it'll be a disaster for the president, both in terms of the damage occasioned by such a high-level White House indictment and, frankly, because he needs the guy like most of us need legs.

But this WHIG thing is a whole 'nother level of hurt.

Indeed. The WHIG is the rotten core of the entire meshuggah. The key players here were Unka Dick and auxilliary wife Condi. The WHIG's sole reason to exist was to sell the war. In other words, ladies and gents, what we're looking at is the lie machine that got us into the single worst foreign policy blunder in American history. They were ready to destroy one of country's deep cover WMD spy operations (the front company Valerie Plame "worked" for) to make sure they could get their war on.

No, for the last time, there weren't any WMDs in Iraq, there were never any WMDs in Iraq, and the White House knew there were never any WMDs. They wanted to go to war, and that was all that mattered. The WHIG sent US soldiers and innocent Iraqi children to their deaths because they wanted war. Period.

Monday, October 10, 2005

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Back after a hiatus this summer. So why the absence? Both of my parents have suffered falls and broken bones in the last year, which has not been fun to deal with. They are doing better. My husband was incapacitated with a back injury in late spring, and spent most of the summer in therapy. He is more than 95% recovered. That was the worst. The budget at the hospital was cut and I've lost some team members, so the work load has gone up. So, all in all, some stress and worry, but nothing unmanageable.

Thankfully, fandom hissy fits have kept to record lows the last few months. A few folks have tried to get in my face over problems they brought on themselves. I decline to answer those emails. Aside from some very frustrating JRun server errors, the site pretty much runs itself. Playlists launched, I posted an HTML editor for stories and forums, and a some database efficiency tweaks have been done.

The HotK writing comes along slowly but steadily. I was outlining the next few chapters and realized I probably have only 10 to 12 more to do before I end. If I stay on track, that means I should wrap up the alpha writing by June 2006. Good grief, have I really been writing for three years? My first draft of chapter 1 was written in September/October 2002.

And politics. I haven't had time for much commentary besides an occasional snark here and there, but I've been watching. Grimly, all of my predictions about the Iraq war are coming true. Not that it takes much brains to have figured that out. The corruption machine begun by Bush the Elder during the early 80s is beginning to run out of gas, just like the rest of the country.


Thursday, July 07, 2005

Feeling Safer - Not

While the California National Guard is investigating those dangerous grandmothers who protest against war:

U.S. probes possible spy functions of California National Guard unit

the real terrorists are murdering dozens in downtown London:

London rocked by terror attacks

Al-Qeada strikes again. You know, those guys not in Iraq who blew up the WTC?

So my government is spying on the legal activities of citizens, claiming they are aiding and abetting the GWOT, while the real terrorists run around free to act. Vital targets are unguarded, our Army is being ground to exhaustion in the sands of Iraq, and the Chimperor is running over people with his mountain bike.

And when the next bomb goes off in the US, the religious terrorists and bat-shit crazy wing-nuts will blame - "the libruls". That's like saying the guy trying to organize the neighborhood watch is aiding an d abetting a mugger while the cop who was supposed to be on the look-out for the mugger is off at Dunkin' Donuts getting free coffee, because the guy is undermining support for the cop.

It would be funny except that people are dying over this, and the Chimperor doesn't give a shit. He got his war on, and the people getting killed aren't him and his political donors, so why should he care?

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

I Am Weary

And another good song from O Brother Where Art Thou. "I Am Weary (Let Me Rest)", sung by the Cox Family. Why are the ghouls so damn sure Terri wants to "live" in her current state? What if she is saying this?

Kiss me mother kiss your darlin'
Lay my head upon your breast
Throw your loving arms around me
I am weary let me rest

Seems the light is swiftly fading
Brighter scenes they do now show
I am standing by the river
Angels wait to take me home

Kiss me mother kiss your darlin'
See the pain upon my brow
While I'll soon be with the angels
Fate has doomed my future now

Through the years you've always loved me
And my life you've tried to save
But now I shall slumber sweetly
In a deep and lonely grave

Kiss me mother kiss your darlin'
Lay my head upon your breast
Throw your loving arms around me
I am weary let me rest
I am weary let me rest

For God's sake, let her rest.

I'll Fly Away

These are the lyrics from "I'll Fly Away" a song on the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack. It is sung by Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch. After listening to yet another day of bullshit about "Saving Terri," I thought I'd offer another way to look at the sitiation - from the perspective of the person afflicted:

Some glad morning when this life is o'er,
I'll fly away;
To a home on God's celestial shore,
I'll fly away (I'll fly away).

I'll fly away, Oh Glory
I'll fly away; (in the morning)
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I'll fly away (I'll fly away).

When the shadows of this life have gone,
I'll fly away;
Like a bird from prison bars has flown,
I'll fly away (I'll fly away)


Just a few more weary days and then,
I'll fly away;
To a land where joy shall never end,
I'll fly away (I'll fly away)


Sunday, March 27, 2005

A Question to Christians

I am truly curious as to how a Christian would answer this question.

The Dalai Lama is generally recognized as a humane individual, a spiritual man, and a person who acts ethically and with humility towards the world and other humans. He is not, however, Christian and does not, as far as I know, accept Jesus Christ as his savior.

When he dies, is he going to Hell?

If so, why? If not, why not?

If comments are not giving you enough space, please post your answer in your own LJ or blog and put a link to it in the comments. While all perspectives are appreciated, this really is a question to Christians.


My Simple Wish

Th ghoul-fest surrounding Terri Schiavo finally appears to be winding down, now that her parents have realized that Jeb Bush is not going to impose martial law and snatch Ms. Schiavo away from her husband.

I have a simple wish for the Schindlers and for everyone who has been involved in exploiting Ms. Schiavo for their own pathological reasons:

I wish that each and every one of you who is claiming that Ms. Schiavo is alive shall wake up tomorrow to find yourself in the condition you believe her to be in. That is to say, I wish for each and every one of you to be 100% conscious of your surroundings, fully able to feel pain, cold, hunger, and despair, hearing every word said around you, lying in your own shitty diapers and hitched up to a catheter for your urine, getting all your food and water from a tube sewn into your gut.

I want for you to never be able to touch you spouse, parents, and/or children of your own volition. Never eat a bite of solid food. Never pick up the phone and talk to your friends. Never go shopping, drive a car, pick flowers, jump in a pool, attend your church, pet the dog, turn on the TV, sing a song, cook dinner, clean the house, or send an email.

I am merciful, however. Unlike you, who wish this for Ms. Schiavo in perpetuity, I only wish it for you for as many years as Ms. Schiavo has lived it since her parents decided to fight allowing her to die until the moment when she finally goes to her god and is at peace.

What's that, 10 years or so?

In short, I wish for you to be in perfect possession of your own will and beliefs, and to experience first-hand what you have declared in your moralistic arrogance to be the fate Terri Schiavo must endure so you can pat yourself on the back for your moral purity.

I do not want Ms. Schiavo to die. Neither do I want her to endure suffering for decades. The only consolation I have as I watch the ghoul-fest is that Ms. Schiavo no longer possesses consciousness and is not suffering. She is beyond your psychopathic obsessions.


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

What Mark Kleiman says...

My revulsion at the fascists right's behavior surrounding Terri Schiavo keeps me from speaking in reasonable terms, so I provide Mark's excellent summation on situation morality:

In war and politics, take the high ground

The key political fact about the Schiavo case so far is that it's being reported as "morality v. pragmatism." The notion that it might be immoral to tell lies about Terri Schiavo's condition and prognosis, or to keep the body alive when the self is gone, or to make a public circus out of a private tragedy, or to make up and spread horrible rumors about Michael Schiavo's actions and nasty insinuations about his motives, or to slander Judge Greer, seem to be too complicated for the typical reporter to understand.

As long as the right wing is seen as standing up for moral values, they're going to continue to win elections.

Monday, March 21, 2005

What Digby Says

Courtesy of Digby at Hullabaloo, a clear statement on what is really happening with the Terry Schiavo case:

By now most people who read liberal blogs are aware that George W. Bush signed a law in Texas that expressly gave hospitals the right to remove life support if the patient could not pay and there was no hope of revival, regardless of the patient's family's wishes. It is called the Texas Futile Care Law. Under this law, a baby was removed from life support against his mother's wishes in Texas just this week. A 68 year old man was given a temporary reprieve by the Texas courts just yesterday.

Those of us who read liberal blogs are also aware that Republicans have voted en masse to pull the plug (no pun intended) on medicaid funding that pays for the kind of care that someone like Terry Schiavo and many others who are not so severely brain damaged need all across this country.

Those of us who read liberal blogs also understand that that the tort reform that is being contemplated by the Republican congress would preclude malpractice claims like that which has paid for Terry Schiavo's care thus far.

Those of us who read liberal blogs are aware that the bankruptcy bill will make it even more difficult for families who suffer a catastrophic illness like Terry Schiavo's because they will not be able to declare chapter 7 bankruptcy and get a fresh start when the gargantuan medical bills become overwhelming.

And those of us who read liberal blogs also know that this grandstanding by the congress is a purely political move designed to appease the religious right and that the legal maneuverings being employed would be anathema to any true small government conservative.

Those who don't read liberal blogs, on the other hand, are seeing a spectacle on television in which the news anchors repeatedly say that the congress is "stepping in to save Terry Schiavo" mimicking the unctuous words of Tom Delay as they grovel and leer at the family and nod sympathetically at the sanctimonious phonies who are using this issue for their political gain.

This is why we cannot trust the mainstream media. Most people get their news from television. And television is presenting this issue as a round the clock one dimensional soap opera pitting the "family", the congress and the church against this woman's husband and the judicial system that upheld Terry Schiavo's right and explicit request that she be allowed to die if extraordinary means were required to keep her alive. The ghoulish infotainment industry is making a killing by acceding once again to trumped up right wing sensationalism.

This issue gets to the essence of the culture war. Shall the state be allowed to interfere in the most delicate, complicated personal matters of life, death and health because a particular religious constituency holds that their belief system should override each individual's right to make these personal decisions for him or herself. And it isn't the allegedly statist/communist/socialist left that is agitating for the government to tell Americans how they must live and how they must die.

One of the things that we need to help America understand is that there is a big difference between the way the two parties perceive the role of government in its citizens personal lives. Democrats want the government to collect money from all its citizens in order to deliver services to the people. The Republicans want the government to collect money from working people in order to dictate individual citizen's personal decisions. You tell me which is the bigger intrusion into the average American's liberty?

Just when I thought the Rethuglicans could not stoop any lower, they prove me wrong again. And the TV talking heads and media poodles run along beside, yipping and yapping.


Tuesday, February 08, 2005

What Kevin Drum Says...

For the love of God, can we stop this? Democrats would be delighted to rescue Social Security by keeping the inheritance tax or undoing Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy. It's Republicans who won't hear of it. Democrats are also happy to support add-on private accounts. You can hardly swing a dead cat without hearing some Democrat saying so. But that's not what George Bush is proposing. And I imagine Democrats would be open to the idea of reducing the payroll tax and replacing it with something more progressive, too. But Bush's plan contains nothing of the kind.

As happens so often, the journalistic community has decided that they're required to say that both sides are being equally irresponsible, regardless of the facts. The way to do this, apparently, is to (a) condemn Democrats for opposing a plan they all acknowledge is a bad one, and (b) then condemn them further for not supporting their own favored alternatives, even though they know perfectly well that the obstacle to these alternatives is not Democrats but Republicans.

It's George Bush who's insisting on a private account plan that even his own people admit won't do anything to shore up Social Security's finances. It's George Bush who's insisting that the only cures he'll consider are ones that include huge — but quiet — benefit cuts. It's George Bush who has publicly refused to even consider proposals to increase Social Security revenue in any way. It's George Bush who has run up the unconscionable deficits that are far more responsible for our deterioriating finances than anything in the Social Security system.

The facts: Social Security has modest problems that are many decades out. They could be easily solved with small benefit cuts combined with small tax increases. A bipartisan solution could be hammered out in a few days if it weren't for one person: George Bush.

The problem isn't that Democrats aren't willing to negotiate. The problem is that Democrats don't have anyone to negotiate with. That ought to be the story.

I'm watching the Social Security debate with the horrified fascination of someone watching an on-coming train, knowing I can't get out of the way. The Rethuglican ideologues are determined to return American to the Gilded Age. This is clearly stated in every policy paper coming out of the Cato Insitute and other think tanks of that ilk. Like, DUH.

The only solace in all this is that the morons who voted for King George, the poor ones, that is, will pay the price of their stupidity far more than I will. Your children will die and be maimed in war, your health care support will be ripped away, your daughters will bear children they don't want and can't afford, your retirement benefits will be zero. You voted for your own impoverishment and degradation.

Me, I voted for good jobs, better living conditions, an end to stupid, pointless war, and a return to real ethical standards.

Hope you're happy with losing your Social Security checks.


Thursday, January 27, 2005

Spending Political Capital

Just a short quote from Frank Rich's new column in the New York Times:

Alas, there were no Fox News cameras to capture what may have been the week's most surreal "salute" to the troops, the "Heroes Red, White and Blue Inaugural Ball" attended by Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz. The event's celebrity stars included the Fox correspondent Geraldo Rivera, who had been booted from Iraq at the start of the war for compromising "operational security" by telling his viewers the position of the American troops he loves so much. He joked to the crowd that his deployment as an "overpaid" reporter was tantamount to that of an "underpaid hero" in battle. The attendees from Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval Hospital, some of whose long-term care must be picked up by private foundations because of government stinginess, responded with "deafening silence," reported Roxanne Roberts of The Washington Post. Ms. Roberts understandably left the party after the night's big act: Nile Rodgers and Chic sang the lyrics "Clap your hands, hoo!" and "Dance to the beat" to "a group of soldiers missing hands and legs."

Forget Armor. All You Need is Love.

You folks voted for this group of idiots. The suffering of these soldiers is due to your stupidity. You voted into office people who simply don't give a rat's ass that they are killing American citizens - and even more Iraqi citizens - for no other reason than to enrich themselves.

Bets on the US death count by the end of the year? On the US crippled and mained count?

Ironic, ain't it, that liberals care more about soldiers than conservatives.