Sunday, August 31, 2008

Republican Convention To Be Rescheduled?

See, Hurricanes = Disaster.

Losing A War in Afghanistan, Not So Much.

I WANT THIS RACE TO BE ABOUT EXPERIENCE

Definitely not intelligence. 

America needs someone who is going to take charge, kick *ss and take names.  Let someone else figure out the details.

See. that is why George Walker Bush was such a great President.  He went to Iraq, he kicked *ss, he took names (a lot of them were Mohammed) and he's going to leave "sorting it all out" to the next President.  Maybe that is what John McCain was talking about when he said we would be in Iraq for another 100 years, that we would elect 20 Presidents like him and George Walker Bush.

You know what intelligent people are going to do?  Talk, talk, talk.  Blah, blah, blah.  I can imagine it nnn

Whoops!  I feel asleep.  What was I talking about?  Oh yeah... something about *ss-kickers being more fun than talk-a-holics (blah-blah). 

Go check out Whatever It Is I'm Against It today.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Jesus's General Got Great Palin

Here is local TV coverage of Wooten matter, here is a folksy Alaskan picture (bear and crab) and here is a Heartbeat Away campaign poster

If you are reading this in real time, just click here
Gender Equity Bible Thumpers?

No one has mentioned, on the news, the sexist macho jock assholes of the Republican Party, and no one has mentioned that there are millions of Christians in America (other religions? sure) who don't just "believe" in patriarchy, they live it.  Considering that McCain turned 72 today, how many of them would want a woman President when they firmly believe women are weaker and should be given orders?

And here is another group of "likely Republicans," who, along with the sexist pigs and the sexist Christians who might not dig the idea of a female President... the MILITARY.  I was happy/proud to find that there was a healthy dose of anti-racism in the Marine Corps.  I doubt it extends to every nook and cranny of the whole organization, but it was real.  On the issue of WOMEN, however, no attempt was ever made to correct the gross, blatant and incessant misogyny.

Friday, August 29, 2008

More on Palin

Zapster on freenode#politics provided this link about Governor Palin
"She's not prepared to be governor. How can she be prepared to be vice president or president?" ... "Look at what she's done to this state. What would she do to the nation? -- Republican State Senate Majority Leader of Alaska from Palin's home town
More Bad Biden

Biden hates electronic freedom

Dear WikiPedia

So far I haven't heard anything about Sarah Palin on television that wasn't already on Wikipedia.

Maria Bartiroma of CNBC did an interview with Palin two days ago, but I missed it at 4pm.  McCain = NBC? 

This morning C-SPAN aired a February interview with Palin at the (I believe) National Governor's Conference.  She said
It is a responsibility of the Federal government to make sure that all citizens have an opportunity for good health care, for Medicaid coverage, Medicare coverage and we certaninly hope that they will live up to their obligation and responsibility.
[transcription by me]
At the time she was arguing against Alaska having to take on any further burdens, and wanted the Feds to pick up the tab.
Spiro Agnew, Not Much Heft?

Spiro Agnew had only been Governor of Maryland for two years when picked by Richard Nixon to be his VP pick.  Agnew had, as County Commissioner for Baltimore County, he was among the first people in the nation to sign a bill preventing "whites only" businesses.

Agnew was involved in national politics in the 1950s, many times working (at what level?) the House campaign of James Deveraux.
Illinois State Senate versus Alaska Governor

Alaska has 670,000 people!  Each Illinois State Senate district has about 215,000 people!

Then Obama won the Illinois-wide race, with about 12,830,000 people.
I think we need to go WAAAAY back

Was Dan Quayle as light-weight as Sarah Palin?  Actually, no.  Dan Quayle's experience in the U.S. Senate lasted eight years.  That's not terrible.  I've watched some of his debaes.  Hardly astounding, but he sometimes more rational than his fellow Republicans.

Some quick web research shows that R. Sargent Shriver was the last time anyone was chosen for VP with this little heft.  Shriver was chosen by McGovern after McGovern's first pick, Thomas Eagleton, was found to have mental problems.  Shriver had held no elected office, had served from 1941-45 in WWII as a Lieutenant, was the first director of the Peace Corps and an Ambassador to France.

This map shows how it turned out in 1972.

P.S. How do you serve more than four years in WWII and end up a Lieutenant?
Sexist Republican Pigs

Thank GOODNESS there are no misogynistic Republican men who would NEVER vote for a woman.

Article on Palin and Big Oil

And its funny, too

The VP Debates

Biden v Palin

Please stop laughing already!  After all, he might get too attacky and get her the sympathy vote.
THE EXPERIENCE TICKET! McCAIN/PALIN!

Huh?  I mean, I knew the guy would pander, but Sarah Palin?  Just to get women voters?

Her political record includes:
  • City Council of a town of 5,500 people in Alaska, four years
  • Mayor of same small town, six years
  • Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, appointed position, under two years
  • Governor of Alaska, almost two years
This is the "experience" ticket?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

BREAKING NEWS QUESTION:

If John McCain is Insane, will that hurt his chances with Independents in Swing States?

Just thought I'd have the kind of fun that CNN and FOX have.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Are Democrats, under Obama, Still Beholden To Corps?

One Republican spoke tonight at the Democratic National Convention.  It was Jim Leach.  One nice thing about Jim Leach is that he was one of the six Republicans to vote against the Iraq War, and one of the six Republicans to vote against the rule on the Hunter amendment to embarass the Democrats.  For this, the centrist Iowa Republican Representative gets my respect. 

But Leach was also co-author of Gramm-Leach-Bliley.  One of the worst parts of the Great Depression was the way the problems with investment banking (shuffling paper and money) spread into the consumer banking market.  One of Glass Steagal's most basic rules insures that if some 28 year old in Indonesia loses 80 zillion dollars it won't prevent you from taking your money out of your bank.  For a 5 page article on this see The Triumph of the Suits from the Financial Markets Center.

Phil Gramm, one of the other authors of the bill, was formerly McCain's campaign chairman and chief economic advisor" as recently as six weeks ago.
The DNC Treasurer

I'm not happy when people talk about the stock market doing better, or worse, under one party or the other.  The implication was that it was the party of the President, regardless of who controls Congress.  Other than that, he was the first person to criticize anyone or anything (Bush and McCain) so he was the first "fun" speaker.

DNC Rules Committee Undoes Its Own Work

Back in early June the DNC Rules Committee decided to give Florida and Michigan delegations half-votes.  Now they are going to give them full votes.
Democrats Out Of the Box: Cheezmo

Who picked this "lite jazz" for the auditorium?

EVIL AFOOT

Nothing against feet, mind you.  The polls with the biggest bias towards McCain are doing the most polling, and, as a result, getting the most press coverage!

Location, Location, Location: Washington, D.C.

Even before America's 1787 Constitution, people with money went to Washington, D.C., to influence American leaders.

Because the government stays in one place, it is easy for the monied interests to set up camp right outside the doors of Power (see: K Street).

I wonder if Congress couldn't be run via tele-technologies, or by tele-tubbies, so the members of Congress wouldn't need to leave their homes and immerse themselves in the city aswim in the mega-billion dollar lobbying efforts of the most powerful, unarmed forces on Earth.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Language And Conflict In the News: Georgian and South Ossetian

This is a NY Times story by Ellen Barry discussing the linguistic issues in Georgia and South Ossetia mostly from the perspective of individuals.  It includes language bias preventing people from learning the language of the "other."
A war between the two groups in the early 1990s divided them almost surgically. Young Georgians stopped learning Russian, the lingua franca for the entire region in Soviet days; young Ossetians did not learn Georgian. Older people, who spoke both, pretended not to.

Magdalena Frichova, who monitored the conflict in South Ossetia for 10 years for the crisis group, recalled watching local officials wait, poker-faced, for a translator even when it was obvious that they understood. Over time, people began to struggle with languages they once spoke fluently.
Ellen Barry seems ignorant of early Soviet history, which encouraged society in the local language, and even redivided the Tsar's Russia into 15 Soviet Republics, each with their own language (although Belarus and Ukrainian are almost completely mutually intelligible with Russian).
I am Happy?

I'm not carried away, but I like foreign policy, and Barack Obama chose a foreign policy specialist.  I had recently heard some rather surprisingly nice things about Evan Bayh, being a former Governor in Indiana, his role in Title IX and some other women's issues, and his father's role in Civil Rights.  He would have been the Domestic Policy choice, and I'm "happy" that, instead, a foreign policy person was chosen.

Combined with McCain's specialization in military/overseas matters means we might have some serious foreign policy debates which, regrettably, won't get much past the establishment position.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

How Dumb Is Michael Steele?

Choosing a Vice-Presidential Candidate Joe Biden puts the Democratic Ticket at risk with Catholics???

FOX TRYING TO START TROUBLE?

Reporting that "You can smoke pot during the Democratic National Convention" but the Denver Cops are ignoring the City Panel which suggested this... SO WILL BUST PEOPLE

Independents View of VEEP Dem Potentials

Indepedents are more pro-Biden than the other four Democrats listed.  They are listed in order.
Candidate Fav-Unfav Spread
Biden 42-29 +13
Bayh 31-21 +10
Kaine 24-23 +1
Sebelius 18-21 -3
Clinton 39-57 -18

Data from Rasmussen as quoted at FiveThreeEight.com
CNN Most Trusted Television News

But no one breaks 50%.  How did Fox spin it?  They mentioned they had the most "balanced" group of viewers (closest Dem to Rep percentage).  Pew Study Synopsis.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Old People and Elections

Most people don't know that the older a person was, the more likely they were to be against the war in Viet Nam.  Sure, the youth were most visible in their opposition, but, as an age cohort, youth were most pro-war.

I hear, also, that in the current war, young people have always been more pro-war than adults (also in the pre-war period).

Two reasons jump to mind.  One, mentioned in the NY Times article above, is that older people know about wars, they know it is the worst possible thing in the world that humans consciously do.  Another is that younger people are usually less aware, and therefore more susceptible to propaganda from their own government.  I remember once seeing (on TV) a classroom of kindergarten kids who almost all thought Britney Spears sang and danced because it was fun to do!

And this is one reason to consider voting for McCain, his marginally greater support among older voters.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I remember This Song

It starts pretty slow, then gets pretty funny.  Someone did this with their hands on YouTube.

After that, lots of people did this with their bodies.

Honorable Mention: Hard to see too much in the video, but the "IT/ER" choreography is nice

Monday, August 18, 2008

Orange County, Here I Come!

I'll be in Orange County, California, for the rest of the week.

Home of Disneyland and Ronald Reagan International Airport, Orange County, California went for George Walker Bush over John F. Kerry by a wider margin than any other county in the United States, more than 220,000 votes!
Russia's Slow Pullout from Georgia

Russia was just showing that it BOTH doesn't have to conquer Georgia, and doesn't have to leave except on its own schedule.

McCain Speaks before VFW

Let's put aside the belligerent ignorance on display when he pledged to preserve democracy in the ex-Soviet states.  McCain just looks retarded when he says stuff like this:
I pledge to you that, as President, I will lead from the front to reform our VA system and make sure that veterans receive the respect and care that they have earned. The Walter Reed scandal was a disgrace unworthy of this nation and I intend to make sure that nothing like it is ever repeated.
While, today it was revealed that soldiers were ordered not to reveal disgusting conditions in medical barracks set up after the Walter Reed scandal.  I guess John McCain was waiting till he had some power before he actually showed much concern about Veterans.  Of course, the fall down on the job "non-confrontational" media will never mention this, or the rest of John McCain's voting record on Veteran's issues.
John McCain Collaborates with the Enemy

None of the press corps will let anyone attack Vietnamese collaborator John Sidney McCain III.

John Sidney McCain III admitted to collaborating with the Vietnamese in an article he wrote in 1973:
When I saw it, I said to the guard, "O.K., get the officer." An officer came in after a few minutes. It was the man that we came to know very well as "The Bug." He was a psychotic torturer, one of the worst fiends that we had to deal with. I said, "O.K., I'll give you military information if you will take me to the hospital." He left and came back with a doctor, a guy that we called "Zorba," who was completely incompetent. He squatted down, took my pulse. He did not speak English, but shook his head and jabbered to "The Bug." I asked, "Are you going to take me to the hospital?" "The Bug" replied, "It's too late." I said, "If you take me to the hospital, I'll get well."
and
They took me up into one of the interrogation rooms, and for the next 12 hours we wrote and rewrote. The North Vietnamese interrogator, who was pretty stupid, wrote the final confession, and I signed it. It was in their language, and spoke about black crimes, and other generalities. It was unacceptable to them. But I felt just terrible about it. I kept saying to myself, "Oh, God, I really didn't have any choice." I had learned what we all learned over there: Every man has his breaking point. I had reached mine.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Nothing Fucking Accomplished

Murderous, Satanic Bastard Rules America.

Too Many Links



Muslim Commie Obama Seeks To Discourage Wealthiness

We all know that when the government taxes something, it goes away.  Well, people aren't going to want to be rich after Obama-commie is done destroying America!  This death-defying reporting brought to you by the Washington Post:


So Called Liberal Media Loves to Call Obama un-American

Memos have been leaked from the Hillary Clinton campaign, and the only one the "so called journalists" (like Howard Kurtz, Reliable Sources) care to mention on television is ONE memo whose strategy was NOT adopted.  Mark Penn wanted to call Obama un-American, to emphasize his foreign-ness and emphasize he wasn't born and raised in Iowa (McCain was born in Panama).

The media wants to say things, but the major players can't come right out and say awful things.  Russia Today can't really call Saakashvili "the new Hitler" but they can find useful idiots who will say it, and run that interview, over and over.  The message comes across rather similarly.  This is obviously the case throughout journalism, and therefore it doesn't take much imagination to figure out why CNN and others are pointing to ONE, UNUSED leaked memo, over and over, to the exclusion of anything else the leaked Clinton memos might say.
Bad Samaritans, Again

Ha-Joon Chang is turning pretty much every dearly-held Republican and American economic belief on its head.  Apparently, inflation is entirely unrelated to economic growth as long as inflation is under 40%

You know what I like about inflation?  Imagine two people, one has a billion dollars in the bank, the other person has nothing except a job which barely covers expenses.  If there is 20% inflation, the worker might be able to get a 20% raise.  There is absolutely nothing a billionaire can say to the banker to make their billion dollars increase by 20%.

If there is more inflation, more workers will have to try harder to get raises, and this is a burden on them.  It will, inevitably, lead to increased labor organization.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Background: The South Ossetian Conflict

Georgia to Expand Military to Counter Russian Threat in Regions, July 14th 2008, Bloomberg

Who Wants To Bet Noone Gets Punished For Destroying A Family's Livelihood?



Persephone (UPDATE 1)

UPDATE: Colored Ilam province (in Luri and Bakhtiari) in red, see comments
     A map of the Persephone world.  Dari, I know, is Persian, while Tajik, I think, is very close.  It looks like the colors are very good choices.


Image from Wikipedia, I found it looking up the Pashto Language.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

2008 South Ossetian War Over. Who Won?

The biggest victor, naturally, was myself.  I really learned a ton about propaganda, catapulting it, and how whole countries of people can come to hate each other enough to want to kill each other. I watched the television news from both Russia and America and only very rarely did their respective realities overlap.  As a side note, I learned how problematic engaging in war can be unless you have your own, slick, media operation.  Certainly no one wants thousands of people to die so they can learn about war, but if I am quite lucky, I learned enough about war to prevent this many people dying in the future.

As for the combatants, Russia can claim a marginal victory.  First, her people love her more.  Polls show only a tiny fraction of Russians disapproved of Russians moving into South Ossetia.  Their mission was portrayed as a humanitarian one to fight off US-backed Georgian aggression.  I doubt many people in Russia think America wasn't being aggressive in Iraq, so, America's standing in Russia has declined, again.

Georgia gained nothing, lost a foothold in Abkhazia, and lost the right to have further peacekeepers in South Ossetia (pretty much guaranteed).  Saakashvili's plan, instead of gaining S. Ossetia for Georgia, seems to have lost it to her forever.

Because the interests of two veto-powers were involved, the UN Security Council was never going to be that useful.  Still, I'm proud of Panama.

I'm pretty sure that the President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, gained overall. 

Sorry, I'd write more, but I don't make a living off the truth.
CNN: Georgian Propaganda Station?

The last confirmed appearance of Russian troops in Georgia proper was yesterday morning (US/Eastern time).  CNN, this morning, regularly runs a chiron that suggests maybe Russia is breaking the ceasefire.  Of course, technically, that is accurate.  Maybe Uzbekistan is flying to the South Pole.

What CNN did was show yesterday's footage of Russian troops movement, clearly labelling it "Wednesday."  That was great.  I'd wanted to see it, honestly.  But then they got dishonest.  They removed the date logo, and if someone tuned in late, they'd have no choice but to believe these were contemporary pictures.

Maybe I'm over-reacting.  I've certainly seen plenty of similarly shady stuff before on FOX.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Saakashvili REALLY stretching things now

I start out unsympathetic to Saakashvili.  I consider him, perhaps incorrectly, the aggressor in the current conflict.  Saakashvili is on CNN saying that no one should appease Russia, that America never appeased anyone.  He's saying that the closest parallel is Czechoslovakia before WWII, where "10 of millions people died." 

For the last 8 hours, although Saakashvili has said the Russians were still in Georgia, there are no verified reports of the same.  You all remember, just a few days ago, when the Georgian Foreign Minister was saying the Russians were in Gori, but a Reuter's reporter, in Gori, looking around, said the city was deserted, and no one was there?

Monday, August 11, 2008

WAR OVER?

Reports are that Russia has invaded Georgia proper and taken the town of Gori, a town near the South Ossetian border and near Tskhinvali.  Russia denies everything in green below.  The half-circle represents former Rusisan presence.  I'm leaving 7 in blue below, because even though Russia is denying it, it is a firsthand report.

REPORT 1: Bloomberg: Russian Troops Launch Ground Offensive in Georgia (Update3)
REPORT 2: VOA: Russia Confirms They Were in Senaki
REPORT 3: FOX News: broadcast reports Russians in Poti
REPORT 4: Bloomberg: Russian Troops in Senaki Came From Abkhazia
REPORT 5: IHT: Abkhazia Takes Kodori Gorge (only part of Abkhazia in Georgian control)
REPORT 6: Guardian UK: Medvedev Ends Russian Participation, Allegation of Continued Fighting in Gori
REPORT 7: CNN: Broadcast reports Russian troops heading from Gori towards Tblisi. Have pulled off road. 8:20 AM Wednesday. Russia has officially denied it.
REPORT 8: Russia Today: Broadcast Abkhazians have completely ejected Georgia from Abkhazia.
REPORT 9: CNN Broadcast: Russians have left Gori-Tblisi road and moved to southeastern S. Ossetia


This is an annoying, flashing map of all sites in Georgia targeted by Russia.
Language and Conflict: South Ossetia

When Georgia was actually in charge of South Ossetia, they tried?forced? South Ossetians to switch away from the Ossetian language.

Georgia has no policy for linguistic/ethnic minority representation in the unicameral Georgian parliament. There are six Azeri MPs, and, "[a]s not all these MPs understand Georgian, it is unclear how they participate in the parliamentary work."
Russia Today Interviews

According to one person interviewed, Saakasvhili is a "mad" "fascist" "terrorist," while many seem to agree he's engaged in "genocide" against Ossetians, a process, a number have said, has gone on for "100s of years."

Russia Today Hosts Military Advisor

His comments, en toto, tell me I'm jumping the gun on assuming a Russian invasion of Tblisi.  He played down the current firing as "sporadic" and bound to stop within a few hours.  The Russians, however, are going to have a hard time with any future presence in Georgia, if they believe their own media, while Bush is asking for the status quo ante, which includes Georgian peacekeepers in S. Ossetia.

Medvedev Will Bring Crisis to "Logical Conclusion"

Finnish-French ceasefire agreement, signed by Saakashvili recently, does not, according to Peter Lavelle, satisfy Russian demands.  Combined with the comment from Medvedev, I am not optimistic Tblisi wiill stay Russian-tank-free.

I've twice noted that Panama did a great job at UN Security Council meetings.  David X Machina in a comment at Lawyers, Guns and Money explains it thusly:
Small country with a.) dodgy sovereignty over bits of its own territory and b.) a pain-in-the-ass president, versus a superpower to the north who a.) might still think they own you, and b.) uses invasions-incursions as a form of international semaphore.
Fighting Continues in South Ossetia

Claims include: Georgia has re-started shelling of S. Ossetia and Georgia is trying to flood Tskhinvali.

I'm afraid it is becoming increasingly easy for me to imagine Russian tanks rolling through Tblisi, and VV Putin making sure Saakashvili, nor any other anti-Russian Georgian, is in charge when the tanks roll out.

Russian Foreign Ministry just made a statement.  Read a quote from Putin alleging that Georgia is rounding up Russians in Georgia.  They report that over 350 Russians have called Russia to complain of their detention while trying to leave Georgia.  This is the kind of report which, if unrebutted, will lead Putin to Tblisi.  Another statement will be given tonight by someone more important.
Daniel Larison at Eunomia

American Conservative Magazine has a blogger, Daniel Larison, with whom I am agreeing. Oh, there might be a semi-quibble, where he has a hard time placing a source for Bush's infallability-complex/all-the-marbles mentality (I make the man-god Jesus Christ into one Bush's sources of surety), but other than that?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Iran and America, Sitting in a Tree

Tehran Times adopts U.S. position on South Ossetia.  Not that anything would convince a committed Iran hater.

Russian Tanks Leave S. Ossetia for Georgia

Reportedly near town of Gori, not firing.

America, through UN Ambassador Khalilizad, said Russia must accept the "territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia."  Now, America, just a few months ago, said "UP YOURS, SERBIA!" and supported the secession of Kosovo.  Why can't it support the secession of South Ossetia or Abkhazia? 

To the best of my limited knowledge, the secessions of Kosovo, South Ossetia and Abkhazia are wanted by super-majorities of Kosovars, South Ossetians and Abkhaz people, respectively.  Isn't that what's most important, rather than what Bush or Putin or their advisors want?

FAFBLOG IS BACK!(UPDATE EIGHT THOUSAND AND TWENTY-2 AND A HALF!)

UPDATE EIGHT THOUSAND AND TWENTY-2: FAFBLOG still up
UPDATE EIGHT THOUSAND AND TWENTY-2 AND A HALF: TURNS OUT FAFBLOG has been up since April

Fafblog is, quite simply, the world's only source for Fafblog

UPDATE: You should also read Fafblog's minifafblog!  For example:
  • Testimonies From Hebron
    We of course support Israel's Right to Self-Defense. From a distance, however, Israel's Right to Self-Defense appears to resemble its Right to Kill Random People.
  • Getting Iraq Right
    The Earth-2 Jim Henley explains his revolutionary "two eyes and a brain" approach to foreign policy.
  • Change You Can - SUCKERS!
    Yes, Barack Obama will spy on you. But he will spy on you in the most inspirational, transformative, hopamacational way possible!
McCain Losing His Cool (DELETED)

This video has been deleted because it turns out to have been altered.  Other videos on the same site were not altered.
UN Security Council Today

Not much useful happened.  Khalilizad(U.S.) and Cherkin(Russia) had a bit of a testy, undiplomatic exchange.  Didn't accomplish anything.  Panama, again, had the best statement.

On Russia Today, when the Georgian spoke they showed dead bodies.  Every other speaker had gotten a full screen for themself.  Then, when Cherkin spoke, they showed humanitarian missions.

Blunt much?  It's night again in S. Ossetia.
Georgian TV station's English language website

From Wu Wei, GBP TV in English

NO CEASEFIRE

Further live reports suggest that a ceasefire has not happened.  UN Security Council meeting now.  So far, nothing new.

Georgian Ceasefire? (UPDATE 1)

ADDED LINKS

Russia Today reported (10 minutes ago) that Georgian authorities have said that Georgian forces will stop firing in South Ossetia, unilaterally.  There was no follow up to this story, could easily be a false report.

Looks like this story is real, three news sources have picked it up in the last 15 minutes.  Read the last one.
Russia Today "Facts"

Russians have never targeted any civilians.  Georgians, after blowing up the hospital, are now destroying the bakery, to starve the Ossetians.

Russian airstrikes have occurred, but never at civilian.  Georgians are dropping cluster bombs on Tskhinvali, some of which don't explode.

Saakashvili is an inveterate liar, who appears on CNN regularly, and he speaks English there!  Deptuy FM of Russia is aired by Russia Today right after that comment... speaking English.

The only Russians involved are peacekeepers, and the only things they bring with them are humanitarian aide.  The Georgians have merecenaries working for them, some of whom might be Americans, we have "special tests" we can do on the bodies to make sure.(I am not making this up!)

Russian Peacekeepers never fire except when attacked, while Georgians have shelled children's center and evacuees fleeing their atrocities.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Could Georgia have joined NATO?

It might not be in the rules, I don't know, but Angela Merkel said "countries that have unresolved conflicts cannot become members."

Russia Today Chops Interview, Changes Message

Russia Today and Euronews both are airing an interview with a young woman in an airport outside Georgia who is concerned.  But Russia Today only aired the portions where she is concerned about Ossetians, while Euronews shows that she is equally concerned for Georgian relatives, and wants all the fighting to stop.

I really owe FOX, CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times and the Washington Post a bit of an apology for calling them propaganda organs of the United States Government so often.  Compared to Russia Today, they are pikers.
Russia Today Changes Chiron to "GENOCIDE"

A recent interviewee said Georgians are violent and Ossetians are peaceful. 

Following a chain of blog links, I found this piece from Jamestown, presenting the Georgian side of the S. Ossetian crisisWu Wei is in Georgia, and blogging from there.
Russia Today reports Georgians re-enter parts of S. Ossetian Capital

I really wasn't expecting any Georgian advances.
Georgian Athletes Leave Olympics

Georgian civilian administration leave office buildings to avoid dying in Russian bombing campaign.
Putin Arrives in North Ossetia

Russia Today is really playing up all the humanitarian efforts.  I really need some Georgian propaganda for balance!  I couldn't get to civil.ge yesterday, and Saakashvili only got two segments on CNN.
Bush Calls for Halt to All Violence

Apparently "all" does not include Iraq or Afghanistan.  Sorry, distant cousins!

Bush was only talking about Georgia, while Saakashvili has requested in the last hour that Georgia's Parliament declare war on Russia.  It's a war they can't win.  I hear most S. Ossetians like the Russians, more, so it would be like forcing themselves on an unwilling population.  Hmm, maybe that's why George Walker is behind them?  No, seriously, if America had spare military capacity, and it turns out Georgia's claims about how the violence started (very important to me) are true, we could do a little dance.  Now we can do next to nothing.  Realist speaking, Russia still has the 2nd most nukes in the world.  Economy and trade speaking, Russia has industrial workers and a large industrial base, and tons of natural resources.  McCain, though, wants to boot them from the G-8.

Will anyone ever clear up who actually started this incident?
Language and Conflict: The coup in Mauritania

Is it ever good to have a coup?  I don't know how corrupt Abdallahi was, or how meaningful his anti-secular moves were.  This one made me think about the 1999 coup in Guinea-Bissau, which also started after the President fired the chief of the Army, who then turned around and started a coup.  In Guinea-Bissau, new elections were held within a year, and, other than the fact that the new President's forces hunted down and killed the coup leader, the former Army chief, it all went pretty smoothly.

The coup in Mauritania happened two days ago.  It was mostly bloodless.  According to the Associated Press:
Police reportedly fired tear gas at about 50 people who had gathered near the main market of Nouakchott [the capital]. Otherwise, the city remained calm.
Wikipedia's coverage of the Mauritanian coup is very comprehensive (like their coverage of South Ossetia).

Pretty much everyone in Mauritania speaks Arabic, so there are no meaningful internal language considerations.  Wikipedia's reports that although most of the rest of the world is acting outraged, the Arab League and the Arab Maghreb Union are both sending delegations to investigate.  My theory says that if the Arab language governments are OK with this, we should tend to give them the benefit of the doubt. 

General Aziz has promised elections quickly. 

Since Aziz has been in power before, and has been around for a long time, there is no reason to think this will have any impact on the decades long conflict between Mauritania and Morocco over Western Sahara.

Friday, August 08, 2008

U.N. Security Council Review

Today's session of the U.N. Security Council was mostly calls for cessation of hostilities.

Three cheers for the Panamanian member, who noted that the two sides had very different stories about what was actually happening.  Until some of that is resolved, it is hard, if not impossible, to know who to support.  Strange, though, it sounded like he was speaking Castillian.

The U.S. member didn't make any useful contribution.

There was an exchange!  The Georgian and Russian members were responding to each other.  I was more impressed by the Georgian, then again, he was speaking in English, and who knows what subtle verbal cues I missed from the Russian.
My Surmise

America pushed through the "Rose Revolution" in Georgia at a relative high-point.  The total morass that has become the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were not yet horrible. 

The recent actions are basically the natural rollback of that overstretch.  Face it, America has no connection to the Georgian (or South Ossetian, or Abkhaz) people.  I don't get the impression that all Georgians are unequivocally of the opinion that they are glad it happened.

So, the conclusion?  Saakashvili will not remain as Georgian President, instead a pro-Russian Georgian will be placed in office.

Well, that's my guess, but unless America is willing to really push (with our armies in Iraq and Afghanistan?  We simply don't have the bodies!), Georgia is a tiny country on the border of mighty Russia, and the result is inevitable.

I still don't think Russia will invade Georgia proper with land troops unless Georgia (ludicrous!) tries to invade Russia, or starts exterminating Russians living in Georgia.
The Fundamental Question

Who started the violence in South Ossetia?  Both sides say it wasn't them and I'm don't believe either of them!  What isn't apparent at all is that anyone is trying to figure this out. 

Is there any neutral body that had the satellites available to say for sure? 
Analysis of Russia Today (UPDATE 1)

I've been watching it, mostly non-stop, all day.  I realize there hasn't been one comment the whole day from anyone who works there, and few from anyone else (One EU minister, quote from Dana Perino, chiron mention of ICRC) has done anything but suggest increased military operations.  No hope for dialogue, no option for peace, no glimmer of hope for anything but increased war.

UPDATE 1: One report basically said any peace was impossible, but did say it could be done but it would be "extremely difficult."
Russia Today Reports Full Mobilization by Georgia

Has 70K troops.  Earlier report says Saakashvili pulling all of 2K troops from Iraq.
Russia Today Chiron Repeats, Over and Over...

"WAR IS ON"

Again, this Peter Lavelle character on Russia Today, an American by birth, is an amazing retard.  Did any Russian planes bomb areas outside of South Ossetia, in Georgia proper?  He couldn't know, neither do I.  But after Saakashvili says it, Lavelle says he's never heard such "bald-faced lies" from any leader ever, that he can't believe CNN, which he calls propaganda (I'm not saying it isn't, but it is a more restrained propaganda outfit than Russia Today!).  Strictly speaking, Lavelle calls Saakashvili a liar but couldn't possibly know the truth himself.

New RT reported death toll at 1400.  RT claiming war atrocities being committed by Georgians (executing wounded Russians).  Russian Foreign Minister claims Georgia is engaging in ethnic cleansing.  The FM is not saying "we've heard reports" but he is saying it is happening.  He couldn't possibly know.
Saakashvili says Russia Shelling Parts of Georgia outside South Ossetia

Saakashvili looked pretty ashen, gut-struck, something.  Video of the fighting are already appearing on the net.  Russia Today commentator Peter Lavelle is a warmonger.

By the way, lots of stories on Russia Today are talking about how the cities are now half ruined.  They also ran an older documentary they had on file about the same region, which described the ruin of the region in similar terms.
One Reason I Think Russia is Full of **it

Vladimir Putin said that it was a desecration of the ceasefire spirit of the Olympics to have engaged in violence at this time?  This claim seems so absurd.  At least one other official (South Ossetian leader or spokesperson) brought up this same argument. 

Do any of you know a war that was stopped for the Olympics?  This is obviously bullshit, pandering bullshit.  It doesn't prove anything.  Both sides are claiming the other started it, but only one side is saying that the Olympics are sullied. 

And that's one reason why I think Russia is more involved than they let on. 
Russian Air Contact Head Scratcher

Maybe 1000 people are dead in the last 24 hours, there are no reliable reports.  Russia is claiming it is going to stop all flights between Russia and Georgia... tomorrow night???  The two possibilities are
  1. Russia is holding back to allow normal relations to resume
  2. Russia is going to use civilian aircraft to get some people into Georgia
Definitely Past Reason

The Russian President Medvedev, in translation, said he was obligated, by the Consitution, to protect the "dignity" of all Russians citizens.  I like dignity as much as the next person, but it doesn't take much effort at all to turn any thing into an assault on the dignity of a Russian (including the inevitable Russian who has almost none).  For example, my comments here.

South Ossetia details

1,500 square miles... population 70,000... broke away from Georgia in 2004... lots of grapes... they make some Vodka with it... Timezone +8 hours for Georgia, +7 for South Ossetia (from New York)...

What I wouldn't give for even out of date satellite photographs which show who moved what military forces first.

Wikipedia has a very up-to-date version of the last _week's_ events, although major violence only started in the last ?24?48? hours.
Russia Today calling Georgia the invader, and gross violator of human rights

Officially, of course, South Ossetia is part of Georgia.  RT journalists saying Georgia used the Olympics as a cover.  Sorry I mostly have the Russian perspective here.  They are saying Georgia is engaged in "gross aggression" against "civilians."  RT's American apparatchik is telling Russia to escalate the violence.

This article is an analysis of South Ossetian issues in 2006.  It puts forward the idea that Saakashvili can not maintain him and his party in power unless he retakes control of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  This is also from the Russian perspective, includes many, many experts.  Again, however, this is a 2006 view.

At the conspiracy theorist level, it useful to see this quote: "At the time of the Rose Revolution, the kneejerk anti-America crowd squawked about how it was all the work of the CIA and George Soros. Now [Dec 2007] Saakashvili is squawking about how the current wave of protest is all the work of Russian secret agents."

Russian Troops Still Advancing

Live reports from Russia as of 9:07am, footage of night-firing provided.  No guarantee the footage is actually of Georgia.

No Overlap At All: Russian Tanks Enter Georgian Ossetia

In my language and conlict website, I write about South Ossetia a little, as part of a larger discussion of post-Soviet conflicts.

If you get Russia Today(RT), the 24 hour English language news station from the Russian perspective, you definitely need to compare it to the story you might get from CNN.  There was no overlap in the facts of the case at all.  CNN has an exclusive interview with Saakashvili, and MSNBC and FOX are not covering the story at all.  The President of Georgia, definitely a U.S. rather than Russian ally, says they did nothing to provoke the Russian invasion, and they bravely have shot down two planes.  The Russian perspective, only available on Russia Today, says the Georgians fired artillery into North Ossetia (on the Russian side of the border), deny all reports of downed planes, and claim they are doing what they can to stabilize the situation.  CNN calls it an invasion, RT calls it Georgian provocation. 

Georgia, in this case, lacks a U.S. presence in the cable media, so outlets like CNN will have to do. 

Just as a reminder, Georgia has plenty of problems with Russia already.  Russia backs the de facto independent Georgian province of Abkhazia.

I made this map by eliminating lots of data from a CIA map.  The "R"s represent Russian population centers.

Ignoring the political perspective for a minute, only RT has footage of what is going on and discussions of what towns have been impacted and how.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Why the Media Wants To Make It Close

The media is a for-profit endeavor, the only pure-profit part of most political processes, and this is A Bad Thing(tm).

The television news business managers know that certain types of stories attract different types of viewers.  Stories about strippers attract rats, stories about kidnapped kid and murdered wives attract sheep, while stories of war and politics attract good numbers of viewers of those pretending to be informed (or just wanting to criticize how bad the television news is). 

In fact, if you think about it, it is in the vested interest of every television broadcast news "service" to make the Presidential race appear as close as possible.  And they can do it all by just claiming to being fair, by giving time to "both sides" of a debate.  If the race were lopsided (it is, but only a bit) people would tune out, and the networks would lose money.  They are legally obligated to make money.
Language and Conflict: Review of Johann Gottlieb Fichte's Addresses to the German Nation

An eloquent and useful work for German Supremacists and neo-Nazis.

Fichte wrote "Addresses..." during the period when Napoleon controlled Germany.  Fichte gave these lectures in an attempt to rally the locals to rise up and get rid of the Corsican upstart.  Most of his plan to get them psyched up?  Pandering. 

He starts with a lot of talk about education, and near the end of this section he actually says that poverty and crime will pretty much dissapear with his proposed education system. Virtually no details are provided, but he says the kids will love it and he also says during it each will becom accustomed "to bear every effort and hardship."  Sounds like something the kids will love!

His discussion of education might be retarded, but it isn't the offensive part.  For this, Fichte makes up a ludicrous and factually incorrect linguistic argument to buttress his claims that the Germans are the only true people on Earth.  It's really silly, but the gist is that if ever your ancestors are conquered, and forced to learn a new language, they will be cut off from all further intellectual progress.  Fichte claims, clearly and repeatedly, that only Germans are capable true thought, or original philosophy.  That non-Germans can never truly learn the German language, because it is too much for them.  Non-Germans, who think they've thought of something?  It's like a faerie on the grass, no impact at all. 

I read this book because some academics and others pointed to Fichte as an important herald in the field I've been developing, language and conflict.  It turns out that, other than his crackpot theory of the role of language in the ability of people to think, he mentions language, or German, very little.  He fears, in one section, that Germans will be forced to adopt French (some already had) and this will make them permanently subject people. He says that even should German survive as a literary language, German men of letters would be powerless to perform what he sees as the "noblest privilege and sacred function" of an intellectual, to address a people's most important affairs.  Fichte ends this portion, as far as language is concerned, by saying "Germany was split up into several separate States. and was held together as a common whole almost solely by the instrumentality of the man of letters, by speech and writing."

It is obvious now why the German Romantics liked him, at least at first. They were, themselves, literary men who took an interest in affairs of State.  Soon after actually meeting Fichte, however, they stopped hanging out.  He didn't last long as the first Chair of Philosophy of the new Berlin University (1810), either.

After that, there is only this quote, which I like and which is poetic.  It is from the very last Address before the conclusion, which makes it odd how he starts...
To begin with and before all things: the first, original and truly natural boundaries of States are beyond doubt their internal boundaries.  Those who speak the same language are joined to each other by a multitude of invisible bonds by nature herself, long before any human art begins; they understand each other and have the power of continuing to make themselves understood more and more clearly; they belong together and are by nature one and an inseparable whole.  Such a whole, if it wishes to absorb and mingle with itself any other people of different descent and language, cannot do so without itself becoming confused, in the beginning at any rate, and violently disturbing the even progress of its culture.  From this internal boundary, which is drawn by the spirital nature of man himself, the marking of the external boundary by dwelling-plae results as a consequence; and in the natural view of things it is not because men dwell between certain mountains and rivers that they are a people, but, on the contrary, men dwell together -- and, if their luck has so arranged it, are protected by rivers and mountains -- because they are a people already by a law of nature which is so much higher.
So, other than one part of one sentence (highlighted in orange) which rings true and isn't absurd, Fichte doesn't address languages and nations at all.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

JSN's One Minute Speeches: John McCain's Jokes



This is my first audio post, so please comment.  Things I am interested in include, but are not limited to
  • How do I sound?
  • Would you like to hear further audio posts from me?
  • Did the mp3 work for you?
At one point I was on a little-heard Sirius satellite radio program about politics, and, honestly, I liked the experience.  Secondly, I write like I talk.  I use intonation a lot when I talk, to keep tangents and threads separate, and I've never made the leap and landed in the space where I stopped doing this with my writing.  There is a chance that audio will work, to convey my ideas, better than my own writing.

Monday, August 04, 2008

House Republicans Take Brave Stand

Defying the Democratic Leadership, House Republicans have responded to the recent $20/bbl fall in oil prices by staging a protest on the empty House floor.  Led by John Boehner, and supported by the numerous, partisan Republican outfits, they demand action!

It isn't clear what the Republicans hope to accomplish with this unusual tactic.  Maybe they just want oil back up to $144/bbl or maybe they have even higher hopes than that. 

One thing's for certain,.  The Republicans believe, which is another way of saying "they know," that any government action is bound to be bad for consumers.
Handsome Turk Doing More than All of America for Women's Rights in the Middle East?

The Angry Arab is mad (isn't he always?) that the Saudi clerics have declared a Fatwa against watching the Turkish soap opera Noor. I recommend this WaPo article..
Astrophysics: Basic and Applied Research

America has spent a lot on astrophysics, the main expense being, I imagine, the great telescopes. They were designed to gaze upon the most distant portions of the universe.

If someone were to say that America was short on cash, to point out we had a nine trillion dollar debt, one might be inclined to save money.

As far as I can see, there are only two branches of applied astrophysics... 1) looking for habitable planets, and, 2) watching for intelligent (potentially dangerous) life.

I love science, and would want to keep every scientist on the payroll during these tough times, but I'd like to remove the mere thought of another multi-billion dollar Hubble Space Telescope from the table.  The salaries, I suspect, are pennies in comparison.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Keeping Ya Stupid: CNN tells you about troop deaths

What does the text say at the bottom of the screen while Wolf Blitzer talks to a General in Iraq?
U.S. Troop Deaths at Lowest Ever
That includes when we aren't fighting any wars, I guess.  Ever is a long time, and has to include when we didn't believe in standing armies.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Deteriorating Security Situation in Afghanistan: The Cable News Response (UPDATE 1)

UPDATE 1: MSNBC now running oil (Pres. Race, Congress + Drilling) story.

The Brave Leaders who run CNN, MSNBC and Fox News are shoring up the walls of American ignorance by keeping news of Afghanistan out of our dear little heads.  How can we thank them enough?

But in the last hour, two of three networks discussed the oil industry, massive profits of the oil companies this quarter(CNN), the high price of gasoline (CNN+Fox), the drilling and spilling question (Fox).  MSNBC, which often is sometimes more newsy than its competitors, was pure fluff during the monitored period.

But, if there is any truth to the allegations that Iraq was about oil one could guess that Fox and CNN are subtly reminding us of our Asian adventures.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Apologies: Holes in Mason And Johnson's Paper

Here, and in various comment threads I'd been very upbeat about the Mason and Johnson paper No Sign Until the Burst of Fire.  However, Joshua Froust of Registan (recently added to my blogroll with insufficient fanfare) does what appears to me to be a more expert job in debunking their claims on both that paper and another of theirs.

That's not exactly to say what I liked most about it turns out to be wrong, just that they're analysis is, apparently, quite superficial.
Learning Pashto Progress

Today I went to a website written in the Pashto language and I recognized three words: Taleban, Afghan, and American.  Hardly a large vocabulary, but it was kinda exciting for me, especially since they were all in a row and the first words on the page I read.  Oh, you say, they are all basically words that are transliterated from English.  I speak English!  That's sorta the point!
How Are Things in Afghanistan?

Apparently, we can ask al-Qaeda.  Their military chief in Afghanistan, who was really bummed in March, is far more optimistic this July.  Lots of new fighters, the India Embassy bombing, and the temerity to invite a Pakistani television news crew to his undisclosed location for an interview.

Their concerns include plans by America to put a military base in every Muslim country, Israel, and Muslims who work with apostate regimes.  Americans will not be distinguished from the American government, he says, because they were foolish enough to vote for Bush a second time. 
A fine Blog, Ghosts of Alexander

In the last week I've been looking at lots of military-minded, Iraq and Afghanistan-a-lot blogs.  My highest consideration so far is for Ghosts of Alexander.  The linked post is about censorship in Afghanistan.  Fine stuff.

Massive Translation Program

Daniel Pipes apparently translates every one of his articles into
ArabicChinese (S)DanishDutchFrench
GermanHebrewHindiItalianPortuguese
RussianSlovakSpanishSwedish
You can see a sample of his deep and abiding ignorance.
Language and Conflict: In the Whitehouse

Hu Jintao has been very open in many ways about his concerns and the pressures he feels, as have I. And I feel comfortable. And by the way, that's not easy when there is a language barrier. And yet, I can report to you that we do have cordial, relaxed conversations -- in spite of the fact that we both have interpreters. It's much easier when you are dealing with a person that speaks your own language. Since the only one I speak is English, it's important to have English speakers. -- President George Walker in the Roosevelt Room, July 31st, 2008


Many thanks to WIIIAI, who reads Bush speech transcripts, and sent this in.