Friday, July 07, 2006

"Range" of Opinion on Gaza

     Not very surprising, this is a synposis of the BBC press review:

Palestinian AL-QUDS This firms our resolve to fight back.
Palestinian AL-HAYAT AL-JADIDAH Who will rise, the nationalists, democratics, or fundies?
Palestinian AL-AYYAM All Palestinians are kidnapped
Israeli HAARETZ This must be surgical, no timelines, start already
Israeli MAARIV Full force needed as long as one Palestinian attacks Israel
Israeli YEDIOT AHARONOT We aren't attacking hard enough to stop it, but are attacking hard enough to make more enemies
Israeli HATZOFE This was inevitable, only now Gaza looks worse because we left a year ago
Israeli JERUSALEM POST The buffer to stop the Qassem is the buffer to stop the missiles from Lebanon, and we all know how that turned out
Omani OMAN Guns can't negotiate a sensible resolution
Qatari AL-WATAN We read Palestinian AL-QUDS
Jordanian JORDAN TIMES This looks protracted
Jordanian AL-RA'YThis seems premeditated by Israel, but they should be negotiating.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Politics Over Economics

If getting money is our job,
and politics (if anything) is but our hobby,
then the aim of our politics
will necessarily
become a servant
of our money.

If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen. -- Sam Adams, 1776

Monday, July 03, 2006

Time Constraints In Conflict

     A couple weeks ago a shell landed on a beach and killed a Palestinian family.  It appears that, in response, a group of Palestinians began tunneling into Israel in order to launch the attack that resulted in the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier.  If this had happened within minutes of the beach bombing, people would have seen it for a reaction against an Israeli action. 

     The IDF is able, and has been able, to launch its counterattack within minutes or hours of any Palestinian action.  In this case it was clear, and clearly stated, that the re-occupation of the Gaza Strip was a retaliation for the kidnapping.

     Because the Pali attacks can never be quick responses, it will always seem, to the casual observer, that the Palestinians are acting and the Israelis are reacting.

Headline: Crack Found In Shuttle Discovery Insulating Foam

     My friend's reaction?  "Those crazy drug dealers..."

Sunday, July 02, 2006

But Those Last 8,000 Are Some Real Motherf*ckers

     George Bush is lying when he suggests that Americans will stand down as Iraqis stand up.  The Pentagon has stated that, as a goal, it hopes to train a total of 272,566 Iraqis for the Iraqi Army, National Guard and Police Forces.  They are within 8,000 of the total goal of 272,566. Graph Showing Iraqi and non-Iraqi troop levels, April 2003 - June 2006

Friday, June 30, 2006

Israel in the News

     I can hear Tim LaHaye rubbing his hands together saying "This is it!"  The Financial Times UK published this interesting view on the situation, called Mindless in Gaza: Israel's Risky Strategy which has better content than title.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Official Israeli Statement

     From the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The operations are being launched only against terror organizations, rocket-launching cells, and terror infrastructures, which have turned the Gaza Strip into an area saturated with terror.

     They destroyed the power plant that provided electricity to an estimated 900,000 people of the roughly 1,400,000 residents of the Gaza Strips[sic].  That sure is saturated alright!


     What's the best source for detailed news on what is going on in Gaza?  I've seen nothing nearly detailed enough for my tastes.  I would have suspected maybe The Agonist, but no.  This news roundup of Middle East papers from the BBC was somewhat interesting.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Challenge to Iraq War Supporters

     Use the comment section to define "regime change." 

Greg Palast's Caging Lists

     Is it true?  I have no evidence.  But it should definitely be investigated further.  Caging lists, according to Palast, are millions of names on a GOP list, almost all of black voters, which were designed as "challenge lists" for voters in 2004.  Millions, almost all black.  Get off your bums, so called liberal media, and figure this out. 

US Senate, Panderers, Idiots, or Plotters?

     This article from AP lists five Senators (3R, 2D), complaining about amnesty for people who have killed Americans. 

     There was no further, formal punishment of loyalists (and some return of property) after the American War of Independence.  The first rebellion against the war (Shay's Rebellion) resulted in some rebels entering the Massachusettes legislature.  Now this doesn't jobe with the behavior of the greatest generation®© who patriotically let 99% of the millions of Germans who fought for the Third Reich die in jail.  Um, in fact, maybe we let them all go, and some of the near 1,000,000 kept stateside actually just stayed in America after the war was over.

     Like the stupid law in Florida and New Hampshire to encourage killing molested children, "no amnesty" also sets up a bad set of incentives if your goal is to end the strife. 

     How would you go about proving you hadn't done it?

The case of Jason Parmenter, awaiting execution in Northampton jail, was especially vexatious. Sentenced to hang for participating in Shays' attack on the Springfield arsenal, Parmenter separately was guilty of fatally shooting a government soldier -- inadvertently in the dark of night, he maintained. Perhaps he could be pardoned for marching on Springfield -- but what about the charge of murder?

The Hancock administration continued to hedge on this potentially explosive problem. At last a formula was devised which would equally dramatize the justice and the mercy of government: Parmenter and his fellow convicts were paraded at the gallows on June 21, 1787, before a large crowd of spectators -- and were reprieved only at the last instant.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

North Korea Clarifies Position on Nukes

     According to the North Korean news wire (which, I admit, is hardly the most reliable news source on Earth, but where else can you ever here North Korean pronouncements in the US press?) North Korea has made the "strategic decision" to stop all work a nuclear bomb, on certain conditions, as described here.

We will not need even a single nuclear weapon once we get convinced that the U.S. does not antagonize us and confidence is built between the DPRK and the U.S. and, accordingly, we are no longer exposed to the U.S. threat. This is what we have already clarified more than once.

The DPRK has already made a strategic decision to abandon its nuclear program and this was reflected in the above-said joint statement.

UPDATE: I totally forgot to thank Dr. Jeffrey Lewis at ArmsControlWonk for the link.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The US Congress and Getting out of Iraq

     The real way isn't to set a timetable, you Democrats, the Constitutional way is to take Article I, Section 8, the clause that says Congress has the power to "raise and support armies" and simply set a level of support that forces America to withdraw.  It isn't a time limit, it is a budget limit. 

     Dear Bush, you have as much time as you want to get out of Iraq, but you only have 40,000,000,000.00 dollars to do it.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

More Movie Reviews

     Syriana: I was, perhaps, too hopeful.  Maybe in three decades if you are a kid and want to get an interesting view of the current situation, this might help.

     Alphaville: This 1960 movie might be the greatest movie yet made. Haven't watched the end yet.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Movie Reviews

     Please do watch Insurgency, an episode of PBS Frontline.

     I saw Outfoxed.  Like the Wal-Mart movie, heavy (but not enough, if you ask me) usage of former Fox employees made it compelling.

     I saw Super Size Me.  Hmm.  Apparently, McDonald's will really kill your liver.

     Also, perhaps it would be rewarding to read Lt. Gen. Odom's peice on cutting and running and why we should.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Please Leave A Comment

     I really do like getting comments.  Off topic doesn't bother me.  It makes me sad that I don't get many.  I'd also like some more links from outsiders. 

     If you don't like my blog, tell me why.

     And thanks to those of you who do leave comments.

Get The Mercs Out First, a Variety of Arguments For
  • They are a moral hazard for the Pentagon.  Corporations have far different rules than the military, and are obligated to follow illegal orders.
  • They indicate of a lack of US support
  • The use of mercenaries by the King of England was hated by Americans.  In the words of "Hessians who remained in the British employ were hated and feared by the Americans, and the fact that George III had chosen to employ foreign mercenaries stirred up much anger among the colonists."
  • They are, in many cases, individually morally repugnant
  • They encourage defection from military service.  They pay often twice as much, sometimes more than four times as much as the most senior enlisted personnel.
  • They cost far more money
  • They are used to hide the true US presence in Iraq.  If the number of contractors were even known, it might be clear that as US forces step down, soldiers for hire are stepping up.
  • There's nothing that they can do that the uniformed military can't.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Compare To

     The Republicans Talking Points for the election (below) and the US Ambassador to Iraq's assessment, here courtesy of WaPo, including quotes like

NOTE: An Arab newspaper editor told us he is preparing an extensive survey of ethnic cleansing, which he said is taking place in almost every Iraqi province, as political parties and their militias are seemingly engaged in tit-for-tat reprisals all over Iraq.  One editor told us that the KDP is now planning to set up tent cities in Irbil, to house the Kurds being evicted from Baghdad
Employees all share a common tale of their lives: of nine employees in March, only four had family members who knoew they worked at the embassy.  [...] We cannot call employees in on weekends or holidays without blowing their "cover."
[A female embassy employee] told us in mid-June that most of her family believes the U.S. -- which is widely perceived as fully controlling the country and tolerating the malaise -- is punishing the populations as Saddam did [...].  Otherwise, she says, the allocation of power and security would not be so arbitrary.
Another employee tells us that life outside the Green Zone has become "emotionally draining."  He lives in a mostly Shiite area and claims to attend a funeral "every evening."
Temperatures in Baghdad have already reached 115 degrees.  Employees all confirm that by the last week of May, they were getting one hour of power for every six hours without. [...] One staff member reported that a friend lives in a building that houses a new minister; within 24 hours of his appointment, her building had city power 24 hours a day.
One employee told us May 29 that he had spent 12 hours of his day off (Saturday) waiting to get gas.  Another staff member confirmed that shortages were so dire, prices in much of Baghdad were now above 1,000 Iraqi dinars per liter (the official, subsidized price is 250 ID).
Emphasis and material in [] mine
This Briefing Book on the War

     Does anyone I know know if this, Raw Story, Republican Talking Points on the War, is real?  If it is, America is DOOOOMED.  What a load of crap to fill the minds of Congress with.  How better to paralyze them with fear, and encourage them to spread that fear?  If this was produced by the Pentagon, we need to fire every last mother duffer who touched it, for certainly it is blatant and deadly partisan politics. 

     But what's really freaking sad is that they rely on the Zawahiri-Zarqawi letter of July 2005, which is either (very likely) a forgery or (possible) indicates that Zawahiri and Zarqawi are idiots, and not truly to be feared.

I made sure in my last speech-that Aljazeera broadcast Saturday, 11 Jumadi I, 1426h, 18 June 2005-to mention you, send you greetings, and show support and thanks for the heroic acts you are performing in defense of Islam and the Muslims, but I do not know what Aljazeera broadcast. Did this part appear or not? I will try to attach the full speech with this message, conditions permitting.
Facts to consider
  1. Al-Jazeera is banned from Iraq.  Does Zawahiri really not know this?  It had happened over a year and a half earlier.
  2. Does he think Zarqawi sits around all day watching TV?  Al-Jazeera in particular?  The tone of the letter makes it sound like Zawahiri thinks there is no chance Zarqawi would have missed it.
  3. Doesn't he have anyone else on Earth he could have asked, asked to find out if the segment in question was aired?  Anyone?  Bueller?  Bueller?  Holy freaking crap this guy has no freaking friends!  No friends at all!
Where do these Libertarians get off?

Free trade is a central tenet for the libertarians, free markets being the absolutely central pillar of the libertarian philosophy

Libertarians call themselves "classical liberals" and say, with a disgusting lack of modesty, that they are the true inheritors of the early American Republic, and what are hagiographically called "The Founders"

The first few months of the first Congress of the United States were almost exclusively a debate on tariffs.  There was, I admit up front, an infintessimal bit of abstract lip service to the idea that, all other things being equal, tariffs ought to be low, yet the real Classical Liberals used tariffs to encourage domestic manufactures, tap the wealthy for their extra cash, and moralize.
See, There Were These Iraqis, Sitting Around

     Back in 2002 saying (in Arabic, Natch)

     "Geesh, I'm so freaking bored.
I'd rather have a Civil War,
than spend one more day,
with this boring dictator, Saddam Hussein."

     And the Compassionate Americans heard this call, and thought that having a Civil War in Iraq would be a bad thing, so set out to change the course of history.

Powerline Myopia on Ledeen

     Powerlineblog is defending Michael Ledeen, saying he's never called for a "war" on Iran.  What fools these Republicans be.

     What he has done is call for regime change, which is basically the same thing. 

      For example, we all know Ledeen wants America to "succeed" in forcing Iraq into the modern age, and he writes
      The only way to end Tehran's continual sponsorship of terror[in Iraq] is to bring about the demise of the present Iranian regime.
        Ledeen, in the article linked, also says this bit of insanity
      Americans must understand that the war in Iraq is in reality a regional war which unites religious fanatics like the Iranians and radical secularists like the Syrians and Saddam's Iraqi supporters. The terrorists include Shiites like Sadr and murderous Sunnis like al Qaeda leader Abu Musab Zarqawi

     What he has also done is declare that Iran is already at war with America.

      In the article linked, as just one of many examples, Ledeen writes
      [F]ollowing the facts to their logical conclusion: Iran is at war with us.

     Ledeen, suffering from a permanently attached fish-eye lens on his worldview, still isn't so stupid as to think he would get to declare war, even if he made the case for it.  How can one argue that "regime change" is necessary and that they are already at war with us without knowing that these arguments are seized upon by those who advocate war?  Surely, PowerLineBlog doesn't think Ledeen is that much of an idiot.

     Sometimes it sounds like Ledeen is only begging for a chance to try the hugely unsucessful plan of providing a Radio MARTI like station for Iranians, instead of for Cubans, broadcasting in the great truth "Bush says you are evil. Bush launches wars against evil. The people you elect are hated by Americans" from America to the Iranian people, yearning to breathe free.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

See, There Were These Nazis...

     after the invasion of France, there were these Nazis who said "Boo Hoo, The French Resistance are Attacking Some German Soldiers, and Draining Third Reich Resources."

     The French Resistance were Socialists people! No god-fearing Americans or Nazis are confused about these complaining Nazis.

     You don't want to be a Nazi like that, do you?  Vote Republican.

The Customer Is Always Right: Politics and Corporate Mantras

If the customer is always right
And the product you have is news
then certainly you can't insult the voters
for the terrible choices they've made.

Fox News does insult the other party
and for that they deserve some credit
they have paved the way for damning the flamingly idiotic Republicans who voted for this front-man, vapid, psychopathic President.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

I Blame Thorstein Veblen

     In over simplified terms, in just one (although his most famous) work, Veblen talked about "conspicuous consumption" which was a form of "keeping up with the Joneses" and a method for the elites to surpass each other, namely by outdoing each other in their waste/utilization of goods.

     But, in the business world, the opposite is true, and at business meetings the goal is to conspicuously not consume. 

     I don't know if Veblen discusses this or not, but if he didn't, he only gets half credit and might be seen as a tool of corporate interests (who, being only half-good at business themselves, would just as soon no one else knew the rules).

     Ciao for now, brown cow.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Turned Around and Six Months More

     Joshua Holland at the GadFlyer has this list of Bush quotes on "turning points," "milestones," and "watershed events." has a Media Advisory on Thomas Friedman's six month predictions for the last three years.  And has video of Friedman stumbling over his own words to defend his perpetually rose colored glasses wearing motif.

     Neither are new, both are nice.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Belated Movie Review: Gunner Palace (2004)

     It is a documentary about one unit in Iraq, a very active unit that had been staying in Uday's old palace.  Watching this won't teach a body what it is like to be in Iraq, but I haven't seen anything that does as good a job.  Renting the DVD means you get about a half-hour of extra shots.  Still won't teach you what war is like, but it helps get yourself inside the heads of American troops in Iraq.  Rating: RA for Required for Americans.


     So, a priest and a lawyer die and go to Heaven.  St. Peter greets them and says "Will you please follow me?  I'll take you to your final abodes."  After walking for a while, they come to a giant mansion, and St. Peter says to the lawyer, "This is for you."  The lawyer thanks St. Peter and goes into his new, eternal home.  St. Peter and the priest walk further, entering a city, walking through narrow streets, where they enter a huge high rise.  They go up the elevator to the 245th floor and down a narrow hall and open a door to a tiny studio apartment.  St Peter says "And this is your new eternal home."  The priest is looking a bit puzzled, but thanks St. Peter and then says "Wait, why did that lawyer get a mansion, while all I got was this small apartment?"  "Well," says St Peter, "we've got millions of priests, but that was our first lawyer."

     So, a priest and a cabbie die and go to Heaven.  St. Peter greets them and says "Will you please follow me?  I'll take you to your final abodes."  After walking for a while, they come to a giant mansion, and St. Peter says to the cabbie, "This is for you."  The cabbie thanks St. Peter and goes into his new, eternal home.  St. Peter and the priest walk further, entering a city, walking through narrow streets, where they enter a huge high rise.  They go up the elevator to the 245th floor and down a narrow hall and open a door to a tiny studio apartment.  St Peter says "And this is your new eternal home."  The priest is looking a bit puzzled, but thanks St. Peter and then says "Wait, why did that cab driver get a mansion, while all I got was this small apartment?"  "Well," says St Peter, "while you were praying, your flock was sleeping, but while that cabbie was driving, his passengers were praying."

     I would _really_ love a third one of these.  Thanks in advance.

     And, totally disgusting, with graphic verbal descriptions of sex acts, this is still hilarious Flash Animation political humor, "Leave it to Bush" One, Two, and Three.  In any event, very funny.

Republicans Declare Themselves Victorious, Eventually and Inevitably

     Any Loyal Party Member approves of the Long Term Plan to defeat the Global Terrorist Menace.  The Republicans have decided to pass this into law, by actually setting aside a major amount of time to debate H Res 861(pdf)

(7) Declares that the United States will prevail in the Global War on Terror, the noble struggle to protect freedom from the terrorist adversary.
Above and Below

     Wouldn't it be heavenly to cause something to happen which would result in the Middle East spiraling uncontrollably towards peace?  I don't even think I need a ticket to France...

     Why should you care about voting systems (see post below)?  Because that's the only way sane way to vote!  What we do know isn't a plot by the two parties to make a two party system, it is just bad math.  It does, however, make a two party system.  Not only that, pretty much every time in US history that a President lost because of "radicals" who supported a third party, the result was that the hyper-enthusiasts caused their own side to lose.  It happened twice with anti-Slavery people losing to pro-Slavery people because of the votes of abolitionists.  It looks like it happened a few other times, and it most certainly happened in 1912, when Woodrow Wilson won and brought segregation to Washington, DC.  Taft and Roosevelt split their side.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Just the Facts, Ma'am

     The Mathematics of Voting Systems.  Criteria listed in order of (generally) decreasing importance.


Shamelessly copied (if somewhat improved) from a voting math amateur enthusiast's webpage here.

NOTE: All of the Libertarian Party, the Green Party, and famous political scientist David Hume like IRV.  The only explanation is that they can not do the math, or that the mathematicians have taken no interest in the matter, or have taken an interest, and lack the explanatory powers.
Another Remain Calm Endorsement
This Time from the Indonesian Government

     I captured this HTML from News.Google.Com yesterday, but I have to say, my current capacity to house Volcano victims is limited, but they can all come to the blog.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Capitalist's Argument for the Estate Tax

with little thought to my own welfare
I've defended the Inheritance Tax on
Libertarian/Minimalist Governance,
and efficiency grounds.
Tonight I tackle the Capitalist Argument for the Estate Tax.

I begin by relying on a couple premises, both of which are expounded upon in a working paper of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Board, Accounting for the Rich, edited by Douglas Clement.

The first point is strictly about where wealth comes from.
Do people earn most of the wealth in this country?
Is most wealth in tax rebates for the poor?
According to economists Kotlikoff and Summers,
80% of all wealth is inherited.
Economist Modigliani disagrees, and says it 25%, but that the difference reflects
"mainly definitional differences."

The second point is about the very basis of Capitalism
Entrepreneurship (omg, is that a French word?)
Who becomes an entrepreneur?
One would need, according to a model derived by economists De Nardi and Cagnetti:

  • inclination
  • ability
  • capital

Yet, if a substantial minority,
or maybe a vast majority,
of all wealth is handed out solely on a hereditary basis
how can it be available to the entrepreneur?
It can sadden one to think of it.

Yet the Capitalist might say (and amazingly, today on the Senate floor actual US Senators, like Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, were arguing that the Inheritance Tax is bad for entrepreneurs)
taxes are not good for Capitalism,
and to that
I'd have to say "yet".

"Yet" think about the alternatives.
Which is better for entrepreneurs,
I simply ask you
to take money from productive citizens while they are alive
or after they are dead?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Late Remain Calm Endorsement

     When the Anthrax Letters were being sent to newspapers and democrats, I was working in downtown NYC, at a temporary office that my company had set up after my office had been destroyed (scroll down a bit)

     There was a large TV in the lobby of the building, and as people filed in for work in the morning, they gruesomely collected watched the screen to see how far these new attacks would go.  It wasn't clear at that stage that it was most likely a psychopath like Dr. Hatfill.  It was fairly tense.  No one was making jokes about white powder letters that I could hear, and people were wasting a lot of time going to for breaking information.

     Which leads me to the upside of this post, that according to a cartoonist, the President encouraged _everyone_ to come to my blog...
(emphasis mine)

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Sudan?  HELL NO, Congo!

     Most all Democrats and Republicans I hear talk about the tragedy in Sudan.  How bad is it there, compared to other places?  The UN often tries to do the tallies, and they said that 50,000 Sudanese had been killed by the Janjaweed, the militia of the government.  It would be pointless to go into a discussion of the true number of Iraqi civilians killed by Americans in Iraq here.  The Sudanese government said it was more like five thousand, lower than any estimate of Iraqi civilian dead.

     Might there be something worse?  If there is, why don't you know about it? 

     What is going on in the Democratic Republic of Congo is worse, and there are more than a few reasons you don't know. 

     The UN is saying that in DRC 31,000 people were dying per month, and that far more than 3,800,000 people have died in the last eight years, most of which was while Bush has been President!.  Saddam, it might be noted, was killing only a hundred or two Iraqis per year while Bush was in office.

     Of course you care about senseless wastes of humanity.  The American Christian Right, the Arab haters, the francophone nature of DRC, the oil men, and political realities for Washington all prevent you from learning about this.

     Recent (repeat) White House guest, the butcher Kagame of Rwanda, sends troops into Congo to steal and slaughter.  The US Press would rather be a lapdog and play nicey-nice with Bush than point this out when Kagame comes to town.

     The Christian Right uses their radio and television stations to beat their viewers senseless with information about the tragedy in Sudan, and ignore Congo.  The Sudanese government, after all, is not Christian!  Uganda and Rwanda, some of the worst slaughterers in Congo, are.  Sudan also used to beat up Christians in the South, and things are not super yet, by any means, in that oil-rich part of the country.

     Oil men, of course, like oil. Sudan has some.

     And, honestly, of course, it is easier for an English speaking person to go into Sudan and meet with people and talk and find out the rumors.  Sudan was part of Anglo Egypt-Sudan for a long time, while, during Colonial times, Congo was Belgian Congo.  It seems to me that Americans have always had more contact with former British Colonies (see: Iraq) than with the Dutch speaking ones.

     Please help the world get its priorities straight. 

Long Term Secessionist Trend in Iraqi Kurdistan

     In Irbil, Sulaymaniyah and Dahuk and you don't even learn Arabic, and the only ones taking it are those who need to take it to teach in High School.  In the long run, the disconnect (allegedly not even watching or listening to Arabic language TV or radio) between the Arabic and Kurdish cultures will strengthen.

Coalition of the Unwinning
Examining Democratic election results in "Coalition" countries.

Source for most government form data came from the CIA World Factbook, election results from the news.

Republic: Democratically elected leader who controls foreign policy, X equals Yes
US/UK: Former possession of the US or UK, former or currently militarily occupied by the US/UK
Next Vote: Date of next elections. L means the elections are for the Legislature only, and no Presidential elections are held.
If possible it will be indicated whether the government in power SUCCEEDED or FAILED to win re-election.

One of the camps of Anti-Federalists had the rallying cry "Where Annual Elections End, Tyranny Begins!"

UPDATE:  Looks like former members of the British Empire are immune.  Probably a linguistic (culture vector->news) element.

Country Republic US/UK Next Vote  
IcelandX,f 04/03Success, change in Head of Government
Rwanda  08/03Strongman Kagame wins 95% of vote
Azerbaijane 10/03Son of former Soviet Commissar elected!
Marshall IslandsbX11/03SUCCESS
GeorgiaX 11/03US Backed "Rose Revolution" replaces Shevardnadze
Latviab 03/04Coalition falls apart day after election, PM rules with minority
El-SalvadorX 03/04New Leader, Same Party
Spainc L 03/04FAILED
MongoliaX 06/04FAILED
MacedoniaX 10/04President dies in plane crash, same party wins in early elections
Dominican RepublicXX05/04FAILED
PhilippinesXX05/04Arroyo, unelected Pres., wins first term
SlovakiaX 05/04FAILED
JapancX06/04LDP has lost majorities in both Houses
Australiaa,cXL 10/04Howard Returned
AfghanistanXX11/04Karzai stays, not elected in first place
UkraineX 11/04Yuschenko finally wins, had promised troop pull out
RomaniaX 11/04Former Communist, Promised to Withdraw, Unseated.
HungaryX 06/05Leftists stay in power
Denmarkc L by 10/05Majority Rightist Coalition Loses Seats, Keeps Power
HondurasXX11/05Leftist Defeat Incumbents
PolandX 11/05Rightists Defeat Incumbents
Solomon Islandsa,cXL by 12/05Ruling Party drops from 20 to 4 seats
PortugalX 02/06Biggest Socialist Party Victory Ever
Great BritaincX05/06suck
Costa RicaX 05/06Pacheco AND PUSC defeated
ItalyXX05/06Prodi defeats Berlusconi
ColombiaX 05/06Uribe Returned
CzechX 06/06deadlock
Singaporef by 08/06
NicaraguaX 11/06
BulgariaX ??/06
EstoniaX ??/06
MicronesiadXL 05/07
TurkeyX 05/07
AlbaniaX 06/07
EthiopiaX 10/07
Netherlandsc L ??/07
LithuaniaX ??/07
South KoreaX 12/07
Uzbekistane ??/07
Angola  Elections indefinitely cancelled, last held in 1992
Eritrea  Isaias national leader, elections postponed indefinitely since 2001
Kuwait  Hereditary Monarchy
Tonga  Monarchy
Uganda  Museveni in power since 1986, no elections for President

A: A hereditary Monarch selects the President/Governor-General/Whatever
B: President is elected by the Parliament.
C: The leader of the Majority Party becomes Prime Minister
D: To even call this a "country," when it is actually run by the United States, is a joke.
E: Not a politically free society.
F: Ceremonial President which is popularly elected.

New Hampshire Democratic State Convention

     Senato Feingold spoke in the morning.  I wonder if he yet gets the Bush administration.

     Resolutions passed to support Feingold's censure motion(fine, whatever), to get America into a single payer/universal coverage system (long story, overall a bad idea), and a motion to impeach the President (Doh! President Cheney?).

     Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner called Ahmadinejad a "jihadi" and "the real deal"(threatwise, as compared to Saddam).  Thanks, dipshit Warner.

     UPDATE1: FUCK AP: Associated Press runs headline that Warner has "bashes" President Bush and "lashes out" at Bush.  This is a criminal deception.  Did Warner criticize the President?  Certainly.  Did Warner even make jokes at the expense of the President ("that would take an administration that believes in Science")?  Yes.

     Fuck the AP hacks.  Other reports, including the fucking Times Dispatch write about Warner "blasting" and a "strong attack" on Bush. 

     All other coverage I've found, also from the Fucking AP, strongly emphasized Senator Feingold over Governor Warner.  Warner was far more "keynote" than Feingold, and far less a likely candidate, but that's how the AP can twist what actually happened, and turn people off to Democrats.  Fuck the AP

     UPDATE2: Not one report tells the NEWS!  New Hampshire Democratic Convention turnout highest in thirty years!  That was the Ford-Carter election.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Talking Points Memo Gets It Wrong

     Did John Solomon at AP get it right?  Definitely not.  But check out TPM Muckraker Paul Kiel bends over backwards to defend Senator Reid, and goes too far.

     Try to imagine a piece of paper that lets you into a front row seat at an event.  Does it matter _one_whit_ if it is called "a ticket" or a "credential?"  The plain fact is that it allows someone into a front row seat at a paid event.  The seat was worth, oh, $1400 or $1500. 

     Don't get me wrong.  Solomon is worthless muck for trying to suggest that Senator Reid, who voted _for_ the Comission that the "credential" givers didn't want, is somehow in the wrong here.  It is, for all I can tell, nearly a non-issue.  It is hard to imagine that attending a boxing match could in any way advance the interests of the Country is hard to imagine, but people can't work all the time, and, as entertainment goes, some people like boxing, and lots of people who gain high office like to think that people will give them things out of thanks.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I Like Gore

     Albert Gore, Jr got my vote in 2000.  I saw a poll which showed Gore winning the most votes in the primary. 

     Anyone have an opinion on this?  It's "Affective Encryption Analysis"(sounds like a bogus name).  Found the link at

Barbara Slavin, Ignorant Reporter Foments War With Iran

     It is hard for me to imagine a more deceitful performance than hers this morning on Washington Journal.  I don't see why she shouldn't be fired.  She is an enemy of the world.

Droll Truth from Syria

     This website had me amused for pages and pages and pages.  Syria Exposed, the opening that you will see if you read this blog soon is

Karfan and I bow in apology to the twenty-something readers and commentators that have been taking from their precious time to check on our useless rant-blog. We were not in prison, we were not arrested; rather we were living a false self-importance state of mind!

     Droll truth is what you get when you don't have to excite anyone to do anything about it.  Rich?  Pay Karfan's way to get out of Syria.  He's not in any danger, but he'd like his life back.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Understanding Modern Terrorism and History
Another Installment of my Theory on Linguistics and Conflict

     Earlier I said how the spread of protestantism nearly perfectly matches the extent of Indoeuropean->Germanic lands.  I have been lazy and not even bothered to show how the Orthodox Church matches Indoeuropean->Slavic regions (UPDATE 20060618: Ack! The Schism of 1054 was between Latin and Greek speaking peoples, not Latin and Slavic).  I offer another snippet of evidence about religion, religion being spread by language, before proceeding to talk about the position of English.

     W.K. Jordan's Edward VI: The Young King The Protectorship of the Duke of Somerset is 500 pages, Volume I of II about the first half of a reign of Henry VIII's heir who was a kid for the years(1547-1553) he was in power.  Henry VIII and the English Church (mostly) supported his divorce, and the result a complete divorce of the Church of England and Rome.  Henry VIII had gone further than that, in his thinking.  It is apparent he saw a Protestant future for England.   Most all of Edward's VI's tutors were Protestants, meaning it would have been almost impossible for Edward VI to grow up Catholic.  In reality, because of Edward VI's short reign, it was more important that the adults picked by Henry VIII, to rule while Edward VI was young, was dominated by Protestants. 

     This following quote shows clearly that the affinity of the English and German languages made all this possible.  In 1548, the first full year of the reign of the young King...

Intimately connected with this assault [on Catholic traditions like the mass], too, was the almost feverish translation into English and the publication of the principal works of all the leading continental reformers: Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Melanchthon, Bullinger and Osiander -- to name only the most influential.  By the close of the year the whole corpus of reformed thought was fully available to English [language] readers, not to mention such more popular and polemical works[.]

     The last matter for this post, however is the role of the English language in history.  Barring an exploration of the reasons why Germanic and Latin(Romance) languages have come to dominate the globe at this time, it becomes almost intuitively obvious that English, being a mix, a reunion, of these two branches, gives it a unique position.  It has the greatest access to both worlds. 

     In the long run, though, the Chinese language has one advantage, in that the script has not changed in nearly 2,000 years.  Barring Mao's meddling (and that impact I am in no position to ponder) once a person can read, they can read material close to 2,000 years old.  English, though, has mysterious spellings only 600 years ago (Chancery English).  850 years ago and it is a mystery.  Luckily for English speakers, translations are possible, and the wisdom of the ancient texts is often about interhuman relations in a particular, pre-industrial, pre-electronic, pre-computer context.

Please Be Honest

     One value of writing is putting things down succinctly.  Have you ever seen a briefer overview of factions within the Republican Party?  From the age when people who watch the Daily Show are more informed than those who watch America's #1 rated cable "news" show, here is a presentation of the The Ironic Times.

Factions in the Republican Party
Old Money Conservatives Establish permanent plutocracy
Christian Right Bring Jesus into schools, government, dating
Big Corporate Interests Make tax cheating more convenient
Homophobes Make nation safe for hate crimes
Xenophobes Construct giant wall around entire country, give border guards shoot-to-kill orders
Prairie Independents Destroy all regulatory agencies, rape environment
War Hawks Make world into freedom-loving mini-Americas through unrestrained use of military power
Traditionalists Restore routine corruption, bribery, influence peddling to former place of honor

Friday, May 26, 2006

Meeting the Thought Processes

     General Hayden is now head of CIA.  As a general rule, he is probably a law-abiding person.  That is, of course, if you agree with him on what the law says.

     Democratic Presidential nominee candidate, Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, popular blogger and 1st Amendment lawyer Glenn Greenwald, along with many others, want to say "The NSA is violating FISA."  But has the NSA violated FISA?  FISA can't supersede the Constitution, and the thought processes of General Hayden (and who knows how many others, but certainly including former Attorney General John Ashcroft) have crafted a revolutionary new interpretation of the 4th Amendment.  Something in me wishes more people cared about that.

     General Hayden first hinted at his "new Fourth Amendment" in response to questions from Jonathon Landay, a reporter.  Most people couldn't get past the idea that Hayden didn't seem to know about "probable cause."  What slipped by most people was his defense.  He was saying probable cause does not matter to NSA, warrants don't matter to NSA as long as someone (who? good question!) says the search is "reasonable."  I include this quote only in the name of completeness, feel free to skip to the meat of the matter beneath it.

      Jonathan Landay with Knight Ridder. I'd like to stay on the same issue, and that had to do with the standard by which you use to target your wiretaps. I'm no lawyer, but my understanding is that the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution specifies that you must have probable cause to be able to do a search that does not violate an American's right against unlawful searches and seizures. Do you use --
      No, actually -- the Fourth Amendment actually protects all of us against unreasonable search and seizure.
      But the --
      That's what it says.
      But the measure is probable cause, I believe.
      The amendment says unreasonable search and seizure.
      But does it not say probable --
      No. The amendment says --
      The court standard, the legal standard --
      -- unreasonable search and seizure.
      The legal standard is probable cause, General. You used the terms just a few minutes ago, "We reasonably believe." And a FISA court, my understanding is, would not give you a warrant if you went before them and say "we reasonably believe"; you have to go to the FISA court, or the attorney general has to go to the FISA court and say, "we have probable cause." And so what many people believe -- and I'd like you to respond to this -- is that what you've actually done is crafted a detour around the FISA court by creating a new standard of "reasonably believe" in place of probable cause because the FISA court will not give you a warrant based on reasonable belief, you have to show probable cause. Could you respond to that, please?
      Sure. I didn't craft the authorization. I am responding to a lawful order. All right? The attorney general has averred to the lawfulness of the order. Just to be very clear -- and believe me, if there's any amendment to the Constitution that employees of the National Security Agency are familiar with, it's the Fourth. And it is a reasonableness standard in the Fourth Amendment. And so what you've raised to me -- and I'm not a lawyer, and don't want to become one -- what you've raised to me is, in terms of quoting the Fourth Amendment, is an issue of the Constitution. The constitutional standard is "reasonable." And we believe -- I am convinced that we are lawful because what it is we're doing is reasonable.

     Just so we are all clear, the text of the 4th Amendment reads as follows

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

     Hayden laid his cards almost on the table, but I'm not sure Landay heard him.  Hayden is not saying that the NSA now uses a "reasonably believe" standard to get a warrant to replace "probable cause," it is not getting warrants if it believes, in its own(!?!) judgement, that the search is reasonable

     The whole point of warrants is that a government official can't simply do what they want when it comes to coming onto your property and taking your things.  They must make a case before a Judge if they want to enter your castle or take your crown, yet Hayden is suggesting there is no review by any other branch of government when the NSA does a reasonable search

     Although I am not a scholar of Constitutional history, my review of Supreme Court cases and other sources illustrates plainly that this is an entirely novel way to look at the Fourth Amendment.  Hayden is reading it as if there is a period after the word "seizures" and the rest is only applicable if the Official doesn't think it is reasonable By the way, my favorite Supreme Court case on the Fourth Amendment is still Boyd v US (1886) because of its eloquence and its expansive view of the 4th Amendment.

     Doubt me about this "novel" interpretation of the Fourth Amendment?  I hope you do.  But Michael Hayden makes it crystal clear before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence during his confirmation hearing to become Director of Central Intelligence. To the transcript.

      Do you believe the Fourth Amendment contains a probable cause standard?
      It clearly contains a probable clause standard for warrants to conduct searches. There's the broader phraseology. And I've actually talked to some of my relatives who are in law school at the moment about the construction of the amendment, which talks in a broad sense about reasonableness, and then, after the comma, talks about the probable cause standards for warrants.
      The approach we've taken at NSA is certainly not discounting at all, ma'am, the probable cause standard and need for probable cause for a warrant. But the standard that is most applicable to the operations of NSA is the standard of reasonableness -- you know, is this reasonable?
      And I can elaborate a little bit more in closed session, but for example -- for example, if we have a technology that protects American privacy up to point X in the conduct of our normal foreign intelligence mission, it is reasonable, and therefore we are compelled, to use that technology.
      When technology changes and we can actually protect privacy even more so with the new technology, "reasonable" just changed and we must go to the better technology for the protection of privacy. It's that reasonableness debate that informs our judgment.
      Let me ask you: that "reasonable" standard is your standard. It's not necessarily the law because the Fourth Amendment very specifically states, in Judiciary, we had former FISA judges come before us. They said, in effect, in their court, the probable cause standard was really a reasonable suspicion standard.
      Now you're creating a different standard which is just, as I understand it, just "reasonableness."
      No, ma'am. I don't mean to do that. And Lord knows, I don't want to get deeply into this because, I mean, there are serious questions of law with people far more expert than I.
      To give an example, purely illustrative and hypothetical, NSA, in the conduct of its foreign intelligence work, in the conduct of its foreign intelligence work, intercepts a communication from a known terrorist, let's say, in the Middle East. And the other end of that communication is in the United States.
      One end of that communication involves a protected person. Everything NSA is doing is legal up to that point. It is targeting the foreign end. It has a legitimate reason for targeting it and so on.
      But now, suddenly, we have bumped into the privacy rights of a protected person. Now, no warrant is involved. We don't go to a court.
      Through procedures that have been approved by this committee, we must apply a standard to protecting the privacy of that individual.
      And so there we -- we've touched the privacy of a protected person. But there are clear regulations held up to the reasonable standard of the Fourth Amendment, but not the warrant requirement in the amendment, ma'am.
      Well, I'd like to debate that with you this afternoon, if I might.

     By the way, Senator Feinstein does not take up General Hayden on that offer.  It sounds like Senator Feinstein simply thinks Hayden means that he is using a different standard before a court.  Hayden obfuscates by talking about technology, but I think the thrust of his argument is clear, and his thought processes are plain and represent the theories of a powermad child.

     I want to be fair here, when talking about officials who think they can simply re-interpret the Constitution to suit their needs.  I believe if a President were to forthrightly state "I believe a law or practice of the Government is proceeding in error, and from now on my administration will behave thusly" they are on reasonable grounds.  After all, nothing stops Congress and a President from making a law that violates the Constitution, or even other laws.  The moment a President does this, Congress and the Courts can begin taking steps if they disagree.  If the administration is then found to be wrong, in a court of law, they can be subject to the penalties set forth for those who violate the law in question.  The only other way to look at the Constitution is to say that the President must sue, in the Supreme Court, to change the law before his administration acts differently.  I'm not confident that that is explicitly stated which way it has to be in the the Constitution or any laws, but I'd be interested to find out.  In any event, the administration re-intepreting the laws in secret is tyrannical.

     But what this adminstration has done is to act in secret, and to decide for itself whether it needs to seek a warrant, because it decides for itself whether or not the search was reasonable.

     This is a clear violation of 220+ years of precedent.  And that's their thought process, laid out.  Similar to the FBI National Security Letters, a search order that an FBI officer can just say they want, without any warrant required, and a complete gag order is in place for those searched (unlike the normal warrant).  According to the Washington Post, 30,000 a year are used by the FBI.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

New Hampshire Passes Law to Encourage Killings Its Kids

     At least, the ones who are molested.  After all, the penalty for molesting a kid, set by the bill, is a mandatory 25 years.

     There is, in fact, no mandatory minimum for second degree murder in New Hampshire, although the maximum penalty is life in prison.  New Hampshire has not executed anyone since 1939, but the death penalty can be applied to, for example, murder during a rape, but that is not the same as child molestation, so probably not applicable here.

     So, if you've fondled a kid, the message Bill O'Reilly wants to send you is to just kill the kid. 

     O'Reilly?  Yup, after Florida passed its law, O'Reilly jumped on the "let's all hate child molestors" bandwagon and used his platform to bully New Hampshire's Governor and most conservative Newspaper into passing this law.  Fuck the Florida Legislature, which has made the theft of 1 dollar from someone over 65 a more serious felony than firing a missile into a building.  Bill O'Reilly should be sent packing for, yet again, being an idiot.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


     Did Adolph Hitler use airplanes and bombs to kill the Resistance? 

     If he did, does that make it OK when we do it in Afghanistan and Iraq?  Could this be part of our PR problem?  If Hitler didn't even do it, how does that make us look?

     I'm all for using planes against planes, and armored vehicles, and maybe even against regular vehicles.  Here in the United States we generally only use helicopters, and then only to monitor vehicles, or people running on the ground. 

     At least until "full sovereignity" (minus a few things) was handed over to the Iraqis, it is hard to argue that we should have treated them any differently than the US military might treat a US citizen in this country. 

     No, I never yet heard of a member of the US Armed Forces laying down their life to save an Iraqi civilian, not in the way that one might expect soldiers, sailors, airpeople and marines to do for each other.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Today's Blog Post: Bi-Republicans

     So, today I was cruising around the blogs, not even sure I checked Google News first, and I had a little epiphany.  We all know many politicians, but especially Republicans, are shameless.  If you follow the Daily Howler might have read his "Socrates Speaks" sidesite, which descibes how some mid-1990s shameless Republican said his proposed changes to the Medicare plan were not "cuts."

     Years later, some Democrats wanted to tone down Bush's proposed Billionaire Bingo tax cuts of 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005.  They didn't ask for tax hikes, mostly, just to slow the tax cuts proposed by His Monchichiness, the President.  At this time, Republicans accused the lowly Democrats of proposing tax hikes, even though no such thing had seriously been proposed.  Gore wanted smaller tax cuts than Bush, and Republicans would call Gore's tax cut plan a tax "hike."  Amazing, aren't they?

     Did it work?  Ya betcha.  Newt's medicare plan was passed and all of the Democratic efforts to slow the tax cuts for the Waltons and the 18 Families were blocked.  And if it worked that well last time, of course, the braindead Republicans are going to try it again!  Are you going to let them get away with it?  Think about blogging the issue.

     As anyone with eyes can plainly see, from Tony Snow as the White House Press Spokesliar to the new House Majority Leader, John Boehner, Republican Stinkies are trumpeting the undeniable fact that Federal Tax Revenue is "soaring."

     Thanks to the blogger Peatey I found this graphic, originally made by Kash at Angry Bear, which shows all tax revenue except Social Security taxes.
A graph of federal revenue ex social security taxes shows a massive drop since Bush took office.

     Yet, just days ago, Republican Speaker of the House JD Hastert said that no one earning under 40,000 with a family pays taxes.  Republicans consistently, on the House Floor and on the News Shows keep saying that poorer people don't pay taxes, but the word they keep leaving out of that sentence, the critical word, the only word that would make the sentence true, is "income."  Sure, the poorer people don't pay much, if anything, in income taxes, but they pay lots and lots in payroll taxes.  Got the idea yet?

     The Republicans are saying their tax cuts are helping revenues, but income taxes collection is way down.  It's only payroll tax revenue which has increased. 

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Not so serious post

     Should I post a couple jokes?  Maybe tomorrow.  Maybe the story about human and chimpanzee evolution is still topical so you can go look at that link for the very, very not so serious rundown.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Today's Two Minute Hate! Courtesy of the US State Department

Hustlers at the State Department
leveraged false reports
of religious identity markers on clothing
(seemingly first reported by neo-Conner Amir Taheri)
to call Iran "despicable." 

Undoubtedly, per usual
reports of the Iranians
forcing Jews to wear a stripe of yellow, Christians red, Zoroastrians blue,
will be far more widespread
than the truth of the matter
or the identity of the scum that fabricated it
or is denied by the sole Jewish member of the Iranian parliament. 

If the State Department
doesn't want to make a comment
about things which are as plain as the nose on your face,
they'll pretend they never heard
   about anyone asking if China should join the G-8 [1]
while he takes time to damn Iran
for a report from Canada
linked to Taheri
which had already been questioned.

     "History Mike" has some more of the details, but not many.

     And that's today's two minute hate, comparing Ahmadinejad to Hitler.

     UPDATE: The main National Post story refuting this is here, but it took me at least a minute to load. 

[1] Which the State Department Spokesweasel actually did today, claiming he'd never heard of anyone asking about China joining the G-8 today, so he had no comment, but was quick to describe Iran as despicable if this story were true.
Reuter's Gets Some Credit

     In an article entitled "Iran now enriching home processed uranium: source" about uranium enrichment in Iran Reuter's prints

The IAEA has found no hard proof of any project to make atomic bombs but says that, after more than three years of probing, it still cannot confirm that Iran's intentions are entirely peaceful.

     Too bad they don't do the same thing when one hears the latest warmongering news, and too bad this admission appears so far down the article.

     Let the Iran warmongers know, please, like former Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards and House International Relations Cmte. Ranking Member Tom Lantos(D-CA).

Best Management Practices: The San Ysidro Example

     You are a border control official, and you've gotten a tip on a car.  You pull the car over, and as you approach it on foot, the car starts driving and turns back into traffic, you

  • a) Fire at the driver, shooting until the car stops
  • b) Fire at the wheels, shooting until the car stops
  • c) Fire in the air, at least once, alerting the driver that they had better stop.

     If you answered A, you were probably trained by the US Border Patrol!

     Next question.  If you have preceded to shoot to death a person driving, you should

  • a) Keep hundreds of people, anywhere nearby, in their cars for hours, near the bodies
  • b) Let everyone out of the area, using breakdown lanes and other contrivances
  • c) Keep the traffic across the border moving as if nothing had happened.

     If you've selected A again, then you are TOP COP material!  America is a country where, in fact, it is a CRIME PUNISHABLE BY INSTANTANEOUSLY METED OUT LETHAL FORCE to pull away from a cop.

     What was the problem here, anyway?  The tip was that someone had picked up illegal entrants into the United States and was bringing them to Mexico.  Don't we want people to bring illegal entrants out of the country?  I'm not saying we should subsidize anyone who wants to drive an illegal to Mexico... but they can use the carpool lane.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Saddam Hussein Had Millions of Acres of Land

     His top flunkies, too, had lots and lots of stuff.  Who has it now? 

     One of the reasons the new Iraq will fail as a Republic is that it was beyond mental power of ideologues like Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld and Cheney to see that some amount of "land reform" after a dictatorship is not only a good thing, but necessary.

     I suspect it was all given to the government, which will help the next government institute a tyranny, perhaps Chalabi dreamed of living in the Palaces where the US soldiers live today, and handing out 10,000 acres here, a square mile there, to each and all of those who most pleased him.

     From Montesquieu's Spirit of Laws, a modestly not-short section called In What Manner the Laws Establish Equality in a Democracy, which includes a general consideration of land reform, dowries, and equalization.  The Republic established in Iraq was to be Aristocratic, and not Democracy, but the principle would simply similar.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Neo-Con Backgrounder

     Eleana Benador is the booking agent for all the neo-cons.  If you don't see a couple on her list, like Khidir Hamza and Frank Gaffney, they were there before. 

     If there is one person on Earth who might be construed as the ultimate nexus of the neo-con framework, it is this one. 

     Kazakhstan, as we all know, is an repressive and most likely murderous.  They are friends of Big Oil. 

     I can not, highly enough, recommend that you read this fantasyland peice, written by Eleana Benador, on how wonderful Kazakhstan is, on how wonderful the former Soviet Commissars are, on how wonderful it is that their children will rule after them. 

     God Save the Monarchy!

"Good" News

     A couple years ago, the greedy, self-righteous Army of Idiots who staff the White House led a coup against the elected leader of Haiti.

     They accused Aristide of not maintaining security, they prevented even defensive equipment from being imported for Haitian police, the Bush administration sent the military in, the military engaged in the kidnapping of a foreign leader, much like it was done in Venezuela.  The Bush administration are certainly international criminals, and the grossest violators of their oft-trumpeted concept of "sovereignity."

     The Bush administration put Killers, Drug-Dealers and Evangelical Preachers in charge of Haiti after Aristide left for Africa.  They were never elected to anything, and they consistently pushed back all elections.  Greedy, power-mad hacks at the State Department and in the White House, these shameless humans, they would criticize fair elections in Palestine and Lebanon that elect Islamists, but they never made a peep about the lack of elections in Haiti.

     Aristide's ally, Rene Preval, won the first elections that Haiti had.  He has taken office today.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

NY Times Beating War Drums, Again

UPDATE 1: Edited for clarity

     This article, this peice of craptastic jingoism from the NY Times, it bends over backwards to help the Bush administration, the neo-cons, many Democrats, Arab-haters and Christian Zionists start a war with Iran.

     It starts out by quickly mentioning the earlier traces of HEU, traces found on some equipment in Iran, traces which were explained away years ago.  The NY times plays its readers for fools, because the NY Times never mentions that.  The Times leaves in the minds of its "readers" that this is the second time a contaminated swab has been found. 

     A second, less severe point is that the article relies entirely on unnamed sources.  Isn't that part of what people point out as the problem with journalism today?  Isn't journalism that might cause America to start another war important journalism, say, more important than, the precise name of a particular military medal.  It should be noted that one of the unnamed sources might be John Bolton.

     This article's author, this shameless assholeic warmonger, does stupid, nearly pointless things to keep Iran in the sights.  For example, uranium for most power plants is enriched, enriched between 3 and 5 percent.  The NY Times idiot says 3 and 4 percent.  What if you read this article, and then you later learn that Iran enriching to 5 percent, 5 percent, you've been taught is outside nuclear power reactors range.

     Other articles, published this same morning, mention two critical things that this flatulent peice of know-nothing-ism does not bother to say.  Namely a) Iran denies any of this, and b) research has already been done which indicates this uranium is not weapons grade.  We all bloody well know by know that SOMEONE forged those uranium from Niger documents, and CURVEBALL lied about other stuff, and SEVERAL PEOPLE lied about underground WMD labs in Iraq.  People will lie to kill other people!

     There is, I suppose, the off chance that this material was not available to the NY Times before publication, but I doubt it sincerely.  If it was not, the NY Times has a positive obligation to put corrections at the end of the web page link this post started with.  War might be the alternative.

Friday, May 12, 2006

'Whatever It Is I'm Against It" (WIIIAI) is right

     This is a must read article on Iraq.  From the Times of London, the city's conservative (non-Murdoch) paper.

Two Views

     In this corner, we have Reuters, a nationwide news service...

California's powerful teachers union marked a major political victory on Thursday after aides to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he would propose a $5.7 billion boost in school spending when he presents his revised state budget plan on Friday.

     And in this corner, we have AZ Central...

With his deal this week to repay schools billions of dollars he had borrowed to balance the state budget in recent years, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has undercut the main argument that California's powerful education unions have made for driving him out of office.

     Reuter's Jim Christie, bow before your master Mr Schwarzenegger.  Perhaps someday you can touch him.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Interview with 20 year Australian Intelligence Operative

     Says that Bush, Blair, Howard weren't all that, vis-a-vis Iraq and WMD.  Nasty allegations, too.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantionople
2004 Penguin Book by Jonathon Phillips
Book Report and Review

     It was a dark and bloody time.  The High Middle Ages.  A century of crusading to the Levant, the eastern Mediterannean, had not resulted in a secure foothold on Jerusalem.  In 1187 it fell to Saladin.

     Pope Innocent III was a Pope who liked to send knights out on crusades.  Against heretics in France, against Muslims in Spain, against the Ottomans, and, naturally, for "the Holy Land" and relics.  Relics, like the True Cross, the Crown of Thorns, the Burial Shroud, the head of John the Baptist (and many others) make a surprisingly large appearance in this work.  Knights loved to carry parts of the True Cross into battle ahead of them.

     Knights liked to beat the shit out of people, and kill them.  They liked it so much that knights would come quite close to killing each other in huge tournaments, where 100s of knights of one faction would fight with 100s of knights of another, a huge rumble.  It was a good training ground for warriors, but the not particularly good for morals. Only one man in this story is noted to have stayed true to his wife, and for that he was highly commended.

     When the knights got Papal permission, they could go about killing and taking lands _morally_, and all was good.  When Jerusalem fell, many Knights decided to take up Innocent's crusade, and reconquer Jerusalem. 

     So, what do you need?  Lots of knights and knight leaders.  Too bad the #1 leader died before they set sail.  What else?  To get there, one has to admit, is much faster by boat.  The French, most of the party, didn't like sailing, but it would cut months off the trip.  The boats were really gross.  Horses were slung, so they wouldn't trip and break their legs, 30 to a boat. 

     Venice was the trading center of the European world, and the only place that could produce the required ships.  Venice basically stopped all other trading activities and worked on building these boats for a year.  For free?  Definitely not. 

     When the knights arrived to go, there was head count and they seemed about 1/3 of the strength they were hoping for.  This would mean that each knight would owe about three times as much to the Venetians for the overall fee.  The fee couldn't be met.

     The 90 year old, blind Doge of Venice, Enrico Dandolo, travelled with the Crusaders and said, you know what, if we attack the city of Zara (modern day Bosnia) we can get lots of cash, and then you won't owe me so much.  Many of the knights were not happy.  Zara was a Christian city, and the King there happened to be a crusader (not on crusade).  In truth, Dandolo knew that Ermico of Hungary was faking it.  He had only become a crusader to get the Pope's backing in his war with his brother.

     Zara was sacked.  Yet still the Venetians debts were not fully paid.

     I am going to have to briefly explain Byzantine politics here, but it is far simpler than it sounds.  The Byzantines had hindered the third crusade, and been working with the Ottomans.  Anyway, since that time, there had been a coup.  Alexius IV desposed the old ruler, Alexius III, who left a son, Alexius V, who eventually found the crusaders.

     Alexius V showed up at the crusader camp, having earlier been rebuffed by the Pope, saying "Help me take my rightful crown and I'll

  • give you more money than you need
  • I'll sent 1000s of people to join your crusade
  • I'll set up hundreds of Byzantine knights in the Holy Land to protect it from then on
  • I'll bring the Greek Orthodox Church back under the authority of the Papacy (split since 937?)
.  Answering the needs of cash, manpower, long term security for the Levant, and religious reunion, many knights were convinced and decided to install Alexius V on the Byzantine Throne.  Some knights left, though.

     They sail some more, sack another Chrisitan city for food, and when they get to Constantinople they decide to sail Alexius V up and down past the walls, to get a sense of the mood.  There did not appear a cheering throng to greet them.  There had been some hope he'd simply be swept back into power without a fight.

     A couple fierce battles and the Venetian ships were masters of the waters and the crusaders made camp across a small strait.   Alexius IV had not made serious preparations, his soldiers were very often to be found running away from battle.  At one point he banned attacking the Crusaders. 

     The Byzantine nobles gave up fairly quickly, having not won a battle, and freed Alexius III, and crowned him and his son co-Emperors. 

     But Alexius V didn't have the required money in the treasury to pay the crusaders, so he started melting down many of the great treasures of Constantinople to pay them, which made those who hated the Westerners even more furious.  It got as bad as some could take, and a Murtuphlus killed Alexius III, became Emperor, and began to resist the crusaders.

     Hundreds of acres of Constantinople were burnt to the ground, and the crusaders were succesful, and conquered Constantinople.  This time they put one of their own on the Throne, and Emperor Baldwin of Flanders began what is sometimes called the Latin Empire, which lasted for about 60 years.  The relics were carried away to the Churches of western Europe.  The in-fighting began almost immediately between top crusaders, and between those knights who seemed to want to sack Constantinople rather than join the big pile.  The knights ended up being paid very, very little, less than was asked at them in Venice, when they agreed to set sail for Jerusalem.

     It would be impossible not to notice parallels between Alexius V and Ahmad Chalabi.  The book was too long, and sometimes someone would be introduced, 80-90% of the way through the book, as a leading knight.  Where had they been the whole time?  There was a lot of battle detail, some of which was interesting, and there were some interesting details about the High Middle Ages (the age when the Latin Church ruled the Western World, and everyone slept around and killed each other).  I had already become partially familiar with the scope of crusading efforts, how Holy War was a non-stop affair for medieval Popes, and this was a lot of detail about one important crusade.

     Torquato Tasso's Jerusalem Redelivered was about the first crusade, and was, for centuries, considered one of the, or the greatest Italian epic poem, according to the linked web page.