Thursday, June 29, 2006
Official Israeli StatementFrom 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!
Monday, June 26, 2006
Greg Palast's Caging ListsIs 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 NukesAccording 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 IraqThe 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 ReviewsSyriana: 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 ReviewsPlease 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
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 U-S-History.com "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 ToThe 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 WarDoes 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
- Al-Jazeera is banned from Iraq. Does Zawahiri really not know this? It had happened over a year and a half earlier.
- 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.
- 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 AroundBack 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 LedeenPowerlineblog 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
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.
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 VeblenIn 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 MoreJoshua Holland at the GadFlyer has this list of Bush quotes on "turning points," "milestones," and "watershed events." FAIR.org has a Media Advisory on Thomas Friedman's six month predictions for the last three years. And ThinkProgress.org 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.
HumorSo, 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 InevitablyAny 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 BelowWouldn'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'amThe 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.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
The Capitalist's Argument for the Estate TaxPreviously,
with little thought to my own welfare
I've defended the Inheritance Tax on
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:
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 EndorsementWhen 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 CNN.com 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...
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 KurdistanIn 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 UnwinningExamining Democratic election results in "Coalition" countries. Source for most government form data came from the CIA World Factbook, election results from the news. 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.
|Iceland||X,f||04/03||Success, change in Head of Government|
|Rwanda||08/03||Strongman Kagame wins 95% of vote|
|Azerbaijan||e||10/03||Son of former Soviet Commissar elected!|
|Georgia||X||11/03||US Backed "Rose Revolution" replaces Shevardnadze|
|Latvia||b||03/04||Coalition falls apart day after election, PM rules with minority|
|El-Salvador||X||03/04||New Leader, Same Party|
|Macedonia||X||10/04||President dies in plane crash, same party wins in early elections|
|Philippines||X||X||05/04||Arroyo, unelected Pres., wins first term|
|Japan||c||X||06/04||LDP has lost majorities in both Houses|
|Australia||a,c||X||L 10/04||Howard Returned|
|Afghanistan||X||X||11/04||Karzai stays, not elected in first place|
|America||X||X||11/04||ELECTION FRAUD? SUCCESS|
|Ukraine||X||11/04||Yuschenko finally wins, had promised troop pull out|
|Romania||X||11/04||Former Communist, Promised to Withdraw, Unseated.|
|Hungary||X||06/05||Leftists stay in power|
|Denmark||c||L by 10/05||Majority Rightist Coalition Loses Seats, Keeps Power|
|Honduras||X||X||11/05||Leftist Defeat Incumbents|
|Poland||X||11/05||Rightists Defeat Incumbents|
|Solomon Islands||a,c||X||L by 12/05||Ruling Party drops from 20 to 4 seats|
|Portugal||X||02/06||Biggest Socialist Party Victory Ever|
|Costa Rica||X||05/06||Pacheco AND PUSC defeated|
|Italy||X||X||05/06||Prodi defeats Berlusconi|
|Angola||Elections indefinitely cancelled, last held in 1992|
|Eritrea||Isaias national leader, elections postponed indefinitely since 2001|
|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 ConventionSenato 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 WrongDid 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
Droll Truth from SyriaThis 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.